Hello! This is an entry for Lisabeesims Monthly Simlit Short Story Challenge! Check it out. This month’s theme is: use the word “tortuous” in your story.
FYI: Ench is pronounced “ink”; Velle is Elle (L) with a V, or like “veil”; Xoria = Zo-ree-ah. Without further ado:
The Shadow King
Ench — Shadow King, the First and Last Nightmare, and keeper of ill will and no will — found himself vacillating between delight and confusion.
He was usually dead by now.
Technically, he was cast into bondage as ruler of the shadowlands of the deep underworld which took him 1,000 years to escape from, but “dead” for all intents and purposes of the mortal realm.
Once he escaped the shadowlands, he wrought destruction and subjugation upon the planet until the hero, his mortal and fatal enemy, arose. Many heroes emerged over the millennia. Fate had a penchant for choosing the young, naïve, foolishly brave soul. Ench relished facing the wise, old one; the scholar who’d rather wield a pen than a sword; and his favorite, the parent with everything to lose.
Heroes were never as powerful, talented, or knowledgeable as Ench. He continued to conquer and destroy until the day when the hero was strong enough to fight and vanquish him. He’d rule the shadowlands then reemerge after a millennia. This was his doomed cycle.
Velle, the current hero, had finally trained enough in light magic, sword play, and martial arts to challenge him. Hero called and Villain answered. It wasn’t their first meeting. That time, Ench took a beloved one from the amateur. If it weren’t for the chains of Fate, the hero would never make it past the first encounter.
The final battle with the hero was a deadly game of shadow and light. Fate predetermined him to lose. Ench’s goal, as always, was to irreversibly injure the hero physically and psychologically so they’d be haunted by him forever. Better if he took the hero to the underworld with him; best if he took their friends instead.
Velle was a worthy-ish opponent (her footwork could be tighter and she didn’t banter well). She began to tire and he dealt her a nasty blow to the right shoulder. She grimaced as she gripped her injured arm.
“Don’t give me the cold, bleeding shoulder, hero.”
She trained with the right, but was left-handed, ambidextrous. She swung Xoria (the hero’s sword of light and glory) while invoking strong light magic. He shifted away at the last moment. She nicked him.
“I obliterate your arm and you return with a scratch.” He sneered. “You’re not good at calculating fair exchanges, are you?”
Her face reddened. “We don’t have to do this.”
“Oh, but we do.” He cocked his head to the side. “Haven’t you studied the prophecy? Or do they neglect basic reading skills at hero academy?”
“Please.” Her eyes watered. “I need you.”
Ench froze, slack jawed. He was prepared for anything except… that. Was she serious or creating a distraction? She took the opportunity to slice him through his middle.
He lay on the ground, his body nearly halved. She stood over him, panting, sweating. She raised Xoria over her head. He braced himself. The sword must pierce his heart with the right incantation, otherwise, he’d regenerate in days.
“I’ll say hello to your brother.” He wheezed, savoring the memory of gutting her sibling.
He waited. Her blade trembled over him.
“Give me my brother back.”
She lowered Xoria and walked away.
He laid on the ground stunned. Eventually, he dragged his slowly healing body over the bloody limbs and entrails of the fallen to return to his castle, confused and alone.
“Then I said, ‘may the soul of my brother judge you.’ And I plunged Xoria into the Shadow King’s black heart.”
Velle held up her sword to the cheers of a small crowd.
“Liar!” Ench yelled.
He slammed his fist against the mirror shattering their merry image. Shards crashed to the floor.
The sounds of celebration faded. He leaned against the wall to catch his breath. Unfair. All of it — life, death, the in-between.
It wasn’t her as much as it was the idea of more to this recycled existence that bothered him. He’d lived the same thousand lives ad nauseam. Mayhem and chaos, darkness and fear, glory and fame — all culminating in his destined demise and rebirth.
Had he needed more than that?
Not, that is, until there was an offer of more.
Without his predictable imprisonment in the shadowlands, he had no idea what would happen next. His mind wound through tortuous ruminations snaking and choking like invasive vines. A muddled jumble of thoughts dragged him deeper into creeping apprehension.
Then his contorting contemplation burst like a bubble on boiling tar.
He understood the real issue.
Fate had ruled his immortal existence from the moment he’d come into being as it did all who walked this plane… or so he’d been taught. Was he ever doomed to fail, or had he held back because he believed he was?
Why should he, Ench — ruler of the shadowlands, evil wrought in the bowels of the abyss, and manipulator of shadows in the night — play by the rules of Fate when the hero atrociously turned away from it? Was he weaker than a half-trained hero?
Yes… That was the beginning of the answer. Velle said she needed him. She couldn’t fulfill the only purpose of her birth because her brother was dead? Ench was more of a “bring people in not out” of the underworld type.
He sighed. Love was a weakness, but also an advantageous tool. What would she give in exchange for a life? Not that he was confident he could pull it off. Yet, this might be his opportunity to rule the mortal lands for a thousand years for a change.
Ench disguised himself as a traveling mercenary to track down his nemesis. He would watch and wait. Find out what Velle wanted and then, when the time was right, he’d strike.
“Spin your lies, hero. The web will break when I arise. Until then, stay on your sticky threads, little spider.”
It should turn out well for him. Without Fate, what could go wrong for a villain?
A/N: Thank you for reading! Getting the mechanics out the way: 993/1000 words; 16/17 screenshots. Thank you Lisabee for a fun theme this summer. Y’all, please read the other entries for this month. They’ll be posted here when the challenge closes today 12:00am PST. You can also find them on the forum page linked at the top of this entry to read them now.
I wrote a completely different story in June, a sci-fi, but got really busy during the last half of the month. I had actually written a final battle gone awry scene with Ench and Velle for the April theme of “fool” with Velle’s pov as the fool. The voice just didn’t work for me though so I put it on the back burner. When I heard Ench’s voice, I knew I found the story.
Last thing, most of the CC & poses used are from Plazasims, Luna Nelfeah, and Natalia-Auditore. I also used at least one item from Moriel, severinka, strange storyteller, kennetha_v, teanmoon, TheJim07, and Bakie (but there may be more. I’m a CC hoarder). So, if you liked anything you saw, check out those awesome creators.