<So let me get this straight,> Gerry thought as the giant golden doors closed silently behind him. <Lord Seere is a fallen angel who retreated into hell after a failed rebellion against God. He was a judge on Heaven’s Supreme Court, and God didn’t like how he ruled on a case brought by Lucifer. So God, who happens to be his dad, ripped out his eye. Also, let’s not forget, God isn’t GOD like I’ve always been taught. Sure, he seems powerful. He made heaven, conquered Earth, and then remade it in his own image. He’s one of the primordial universal ætheric beings, but he’s one of at least a few of them. And yeah…the one that created Hell might still be around, but no one knows, and the fallen angels just decided to take their land without asking. Seems like a good thing I got this new gig.> He felt mentally winded as he exited the golden hall and stepped into the cold.
Everything around him continued like business as usual. No one knew, or if they did they didn’t care, that Seere was what he was. Other Dux were probably told the same story, and they still accepted their titles and responsibilities wherever Seere sent them. A shiver that had nothing to do with Hell’s chill passed through him.
Honestly, he couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of here now. He’d rather take his chances on Earth then be sitting around Hell when its Maker finally showed up.
<Return in a day and you will be complete.> He remembered the Carver’s words, which left him with some time to do one thing he’d promised to do before leaving.
It was Lydia. Sure, he would rip her throat out without a second thought, but he had promised her that he’d set her up with a new favorite. And he tried to be a man of his word.
It took him a few hours of wandering around to find the man he was looking for.
“Colonel.” Half the men in the assembly area dropped to their knees when Gerry walked in.
“Sir Gerald.” The man bowed deeply. “I heard we were victorious, thank our Lord.”
“Yeah, we won. But I’m here to talk with you privately. Will you?” Gerry motioned toward the open flap of the large tent the men had gathered in.
“Yes, Sir.” The Colonel rose, sheathed the swords he was cleaning, and followed Gerry out. “Sir?” The officer asked when Gerry stopped.
“Colonel, how would you like the best blow job of your life?”
The man was surprised, but his expression quickly morphed into a grin.
“You know what they say, Sir. A man who won’t fuck won’t fight.”
“That is what they say.” Gerry grinned back and motioned for the Colonel to lead the way to the brothel.
The brothel was several two-story buildings connected together not too far from the two-story brownstones where Gerry lived. The building was under heavy guard. A full company of heavily armored infantry stood at attention around the building. Gerry knew from Gerald’s experience that it was the best and worst assignment in the Legion.
It was the best because half-naked women walked around all day long showing off what their gracious Lord had given them. They taunted, teased, and sometimes even caressed the soldiers and anyone passing who looked like they could pay.
It was the worst because you were forced to stand there for an eight hour shift watch while half-naked women walked around all day taunting, teasing, and caressing you. Sure, once you were off duty you could find someone to screw, but by then you were so worked up that a light breeze would set you off.
They didn’t charge by the hours in Hell, they charged by the release. And a simple foot soldier couldn’t afford to get his dick wet more than once if he wanted to eat something other than the gruel the Legion served.
The footsoldiers saluted as Gerry and the Colonel passed, and all the whores descended on them like giddy schoolgirls. It would have made Gerry nervous, especially after the recent assassination attempt by a whore, but his armor would stop anything the women could use against him. Plus, they weren’t wearing enough to hide anything.
“Ladies, please…please…” Gerry couldn’t help but laugh as he was groped from every angle.
“I love you long time. I give you sucky sucky!” A whore with sharp Asian features clung to his arm.
“Darling, don’t bother with that trollup. You need a woman who can take care of your every desire.” An English woman in a low-cut Victorian gown punched the Asian whore in the kidney to get her off him.
That woman didn’t last long either before a similarly dressed woman curse at her in French and tried to claw her eyes out.
“GIRLS!” There was a loud boom like an artillery shell landing in the middle of the room, and the whores fell back. “Please give our gentlemen time to admire the goods.”
The woman who stepped forward was deeply tan and breathtakingly beautiful. Small slips of fabric left little to the imagination, but strings of gold, precious stones, and beads covered the rest of her body. Her heavy eyeliner highlighted intelligent chocolate eyes that held more than an ounce of cruelty.
“Madame.” The Colonel gave the brothel’s manager a snort bow.
“Cleo.” Gerry was less formal, and gave the woman a once over with a smile that she grinned appreciatively at.
“Sir Gerald, Colonel.” She didn’t bother to learn the officer’s name. “How may I fulfill your desires today?”
“He’s here for Lydia.” Gerry nodded at the Colonel. “I told her I’d find her a replacement, and he’s it.”
Madame Cleo looked the Colonel. “It is a step down for her.” She stated. “She will not be pleased.”
“She’ll take what she can get.” Gerry’s tone became hard. “Men don’t tend to like fucking women who try to kill them, even if it’s on the orders of someone else.” He cut off the brothel manager’s retort before it started. “This way she doesn’t lose face, and still gets something out of it.”
Madame Cleo didn’t look so hospitable after the ultimatum, but she reluctantly nodded. Her job was to protect her girls, and Gerry’s proposal was the best case scenario for Lydia.
“Wait, she tried to kill someone.” The Colonel opened his mouth.
Gerry grabbed him by the scruff of his uniform, pulled him close, and channeled the old Gerald.
“You will go upstairs and you will fuck her good. She’s gonna suck you dry like a vacuum cleaner, and you’re going to want to come back here every day. Trust me.”
The Colonel nodded quickly, even though it was clear he didn’t know what a vacuum cleaner was. Gerry only knew about it in principle, but he did know that Lydia sucked like one, and he trusted Madame Cleo to deal with the rest.
“She’s upstairs, Room two-twelve. Enjoy yourself.” She gave the Colonel a sultry smile as he climbed the stairs and vanished.
Then her smile vanished and she gave Gerry a level stare. “And you.”
“Give me the Asian and the Englishwoman. I liked how they played off each other earlier.” He grinned and spent the rest of the night having his own fun.
Gerry woke up the next morning bright eyed, bushy tailed, and ready for a quickie. It turned out the Asian whore was quite skilled in the art of sucky sucky. After that it was rinse and repeat with the Englishwoman, who wasn’t about to be left out of the fun, and then actual rinsing and getting cleaned up for the big day.
He’d been proclaimed Dux by Lord Seere, but he wouldn’t truly be the Dux until he got his new body and arrived on Earth to do his Lord’s bidding. So he left the whores tangled in the sheets, paid Madame Cleo on the way out, gave her a kiss on the cheek goodbye, and headed straight to the forges.
Seere’s personal guards were in the exact same places scattered around the room with the other’s standing guard near the gate. They waved him through without a second glance, and he entered the earthen room tinged with blue light. Here, things weren’t the same as the last time.
Gerry stepped forward and looked at himself. The ivory white block of material was now a man. An inanimate, stiff man, but still a man who looked almost exactly like Gerry. It was smaller than his Infernal Knight form, but that was a given. You couldn’t have an eight and a half foot man walking around humans. He would draw attention.
The creation’s stature was still impressive. It was six and a half feet tall with broad shoulders and a barrel-chest. Its arms contained bulging muscles. Its forearms were thick, finely sculpted, and ended in two large hands that looked like they could palm an average man’s head like a basketball.
The torso made a V-shape down towards a narrower waist complete with rippling abs. It ended in two legs that were powerful and as thick as tree trunks.
<Carver hit the large and mighty request right on the nose.> He nodded.
“Imitation is the greatest form of flattery.” The Carver stepped from the blue flames and shuffled toward him.
“Does that count if you’re imitating yourself?”
She didn’t answer. She just smiled and headed toward the black block. It wasn’t a black block of infernal iron anymore.
<Wow.> Gerry couldn’t keep his jaw from dropping as he looked at what the Carver had created.
The block of Infernal Iron had been crafted into a humanoid shape, but where the ivory man was a perfect replica of Gerry, the black man before him looked like a fifteen foot tall blank canvas.
<A blank canvas of physical perfection.>
Looking at the two carvings side by side Gerry could see the imperfections in the ivory form. The man of infernal iron was a perfect balance. It looked powerful and strong, but Gerry could sense it was fast and agile. It was a masterpiece, and he envied whoever it was for.
The only part he didn’t understand was what looked like fissures that had been carved into it. They weren’t cracks. The Carver hadn’t made a mistake. The fissures had been built into the man, and they fit. He just didn’t know their purpose.
“Magnificent isn’t it.” Lord Seere stepped through the wrought iron gate, and Gerry had to stop himself from dropping to on knee. “She does exquisite work.” His shark-toothed smile sent glints of blue light everywhere.
“Thank you, my Lord. Now it is your turn.” The Carver bowed creakily, and shuffled backward to disappear into the fire.
“Your turn, Sir?” Gerry asked, not sure what came next.
“Yes.” Seere took a deep breath and flexed.
Gerry felt the room shift. It felt like he was suddenly somewhere else. The feeling of being confined underground and in the heat of the forges was gone. Now he felt like he was standing in the middle of an open field with a cool breeze was blowing across his face.
Light started to trace itself along with floors, walls, and ceiling of the room. It twisted into lines, geometric patterns, and writing. The light had a depth to it that physically hurt to be near, like it was steadily pulling him toward it, gradually stretching him to the point of breaking. Then there was the writing. He couldn’t even look at it. His eyes started to burn whenever they drifted near it.
Seer was chanting, Gerry saw his lips moving, but the words never reached the new Dux’s ears. They seemed to go around him, below him, and above him. They were clearly avoiding him.
Gerry looked down and saw four layered circles had appeared on the floor: one around him, one around Seere, one around the ivory carving, and the last around the giant black figure.
Seere finished chanting and reality shifted again. Gerry felt like he was falling, but his feet were firmly planted inside his blazing circle.
“There is more to change than just your mind and body.” Seere’s voice was deep and serious. “Ever since you entered my lands you have shared in its power. I have given you the power to do as I will, but as a Dux on Earth that will no longer be the case. You will be separated from my infernal lands, but do not fear,” he cracked a small smile. “We have a solution.”
The circles around the white and black figures flared, drowning them in light.
“My father laid the ground work when he conquered Earth and remade it. He draws power from humans that way. They pray to him, imparting a sliver of æther with their wish. He never fulfills them, but he always collects the payment.” Seere took a deep breath to push down the anger clearly building within him.
“But my father’s greed is your road to power.” A line flared out from the two figures’ circle into Gerry’s. “And now you have a choice to make. You can’t draw power from simple wishes like my father, but you can draw power from the more vivid aspects of humanity. It is best to fixate on one of their primal emotional states: lust, pride, anger, greed…” he trailed off as Gerry got the gist. “I can make you a magnet to attract the æther off humans with those proclivities. When you are around them you will leech off them. It won’t be much, but over time it will slowly build your power. On top of the lands you will rule over and gain more power through, you will be a force to be reckoned with.
Gerry thought about what the Lord of Hell was saying and started second-guessing his decision. <So I’m being tossed out into the cold.> Suddenly, life as a simple Infernal Knight was looking pretty good.
But he’d gone too far. There was no going back now.
“Can I choose all of them?” Gerry asked.
“You can.” Seere nodded. “But it will dilute the æther that is drawn to you. A man focusing on too many things at once will miss something, and that applies here. Trying to draw from so many sources will weaken your metaphysical magnet. Selecting one attraction will get you the most strength.”
“But it also requires me to be around certain people or in certain environments to get the power. All people feel at least one of the primal emotional states, so this will be a constant source of power. I’ll take quantity over quality.”
“Very well.” Seere showed no indication of how he felt about the decision.
He started to chant again and the light intensified around the two figures. When the light dimmed, the fissures on the black statue glowed the same blue as the fire, and infernal symbols adorned the iron.
“That’s for me?” Gerry asked, looking at the glowing, intimidating fifteen foot infernal iron man.
Seere barked a laugh. “That will be you, Gerry.”
“But the white one?” Gerry pointed at the much more human looking carving.
“That is your human husk, the form you will present to the world. But this,” he pointed to the black statue, “this is your true form, your infernal form.”
Gerry had trouble wrapping his head around that. <How am I going to be that?>
“I’ll handle that.” Seere stated.
Gerry was now convinced the Infernal Lord could hear his thoughts.
“The transformation process is almost complete.” Seere looked down at Gerry and smiled. “But I like you Gerry, so I’m going to give you a gift.”
There was a flash of light and Gerry felt dizzy and disoriented. Like someone had just set off a flash-bang grenade in front of him.
“As a Throne, I was bestowed with a gift from my father. A gift that has served me well over the eons. I’m passing that on to you in the hopes it will serve you just as well.” The Lord of Hell took a deep breath and spoke,” Gerry, you are a platypus.”
It was stupid, unexpected, and obviously a joke, but Gerry felt something as Lord Seere made his statement. The words felt hallow, like they lacked some important substance.
Seere saw the confusion on Gerry’s face and smiled. “You can now tell lies from truth.”
Gerry didn’t know if that was a blessing or a curse.
“Now for the finale.” Seere clapped and rubbed his hands together, and the lines between all four of their circles blazed to life.
Gerry immediately felt a rising burning sensation. It spread from his heart, through his arteries to his extremities. Every moment that passed the pain built until it was unbearable.
“I couldn’t tell you about this part.” Seere didn’t look sorry. “But people would turn down the job if they knew what was going to happen.”
He pulled a brilliant silver dagger from his belt. He slowly slid it across his palm and then splashed the resulting blood across Gerry, the dark infernal form, and the smaller human husk.
Gerry screamed as a tugging sensation ripped his soul to shreds, reformed it into something new, and plunged it into his new infernal body.
He blacked out instantly.