RUSSIA. July 1st, 1908
Elias stood at the edge of the smoking crater, green eyes shifting over the expanse of the massive chunk their failure had taken out of the earth itself. His hands were clasped behind his back, a chilling summer wind cutting through the dark fabric he wore. The sky above still had darkened clouds, a hazy miasma shimmering through the air as the sun started rising. The sun's rays permeated through the miasma, dissipating the fog of it that had settled through the area. It still smelled faintly of iron and sulfur.
At his side, his loyal hounds stood- their sleek black fur glistened in the light of the morning. He lowered a hand, scratching just behind Geri’s ear. She relaxed, and let off a soft whine, sensing the disturbance in the air. At his other side, Freki stood at attention, a soft growl rumbling in his throat as figures approached from behind. He could sense their presence at the edge of his mind, tension and fear thick in the air between them. Elias stood there for a long moment, utterly silent as those behind him took in the sight.
The crater in the earth spanned as far as the eye could see. They had come so close, and yet at the very last moment, they had still failed. It was another failure. Another failure that had set them back even further than the last. Other plans were in motion- the cogwheels beginning to turn- but he could not forgive such a massive failure as this one. One failure could be easily overlooked, and forgotten, such was his mercy. But their Lord did not take kindly to repeated failures, and a blood debt would be paid.
Elias squinted towards the light, looking over the crater before him and his colleagues. He could sense their anxiety and anger buzzing through the air- and yet not one of them spoke out of turn. They at least had the sense to remain silent as Elias reflected on what he would do to punish this failure.
He let out a sharp breath, and shifted his light eyes to the man at his left. He paled as Elias’ attention focused solely on him. As the one leading this, he would bear the brunt of the blame. It had not been his first failure- but it would be his last. His lips curled into a mockery of a smile, one that caused a fresh sheen of sweat to form on the man's brow. “Frances. I see that we have yet another failure…” he said in a cool, abrupt tone. Anger colored his words, and he saw the tall, willowy man flinch as he moved forward.
“Yes, my lord,” the man started, and then looked to the giant chasm before them. Trees were cracked and broken, black smoke still curling from their deadened limbs. The whistling of wind surrounded them, an eerie wailing in the dead silence of the morning. All life within a short distance of the explosion had been wiped out. Their brothers and sisters had died for the mistakes that had been made. “It seems t-that the vessel was not sufficient…”
“Again.” The word snapped from his lips, and he turned on his heel, eyes staring daggers at the trembling man before him. Whatever Frances saw in his eyes was enough to cause him to blanch again, and stumble back. Elias could feel the overwhelming rage of their Lord bubbling at the recesses of his mind. Whispers flooded Elias’ mind. Demands for a payment on blood, and suffering worthy of the loss he had caused their lord. He would make sure that the man’s suffering was great-all to appease their great Him.
“My L-lord, I have n-no excuses, only please, mercy!” Frances stumbled back over an upended root, and fell hard, scrambling to get away. Freki growled low, drool sliding down his muzzle, hunger in his eyes. The hound stepped closer to the trembling figure on the ground. Elias could smell the fear pouring off of him, a scent which always thrilled their Lord. Elias sneered down at the man, and turned fully to face him. The others nearby held their breaths, not one word spoken. No one would intercede, or they would only share the fate which failure brought. They would not share his failure as their own.
“Frances…” Elias clicked his tongue lightly, and stepped closer to Frances as he lay sniveling on the ground below. Elias paused just in front of him, and lowered himself down to one knee. His hounds held back, their growls growing louder as Elias reached out towards the now-sobbing man.
“Frances, the Lord of Pain despises weakness. Despises failure,” he purred the words out, in a honeyed, deadly tone. A half desperate laughter bubbled from the man, who stared up at him with wide eyes. Frances had failed them in America, and he had failed them here. By their lord’s graciousness, he had been spared the first time. It would not be so, now.
“P-please my Lord. Please, mercy! I will not fail again.”
Elias cupped the man’s chin in hand, tilting it up slightly. He stared down into the pale green eyes, seeing through the tears to the very soul of the man within. He clicked his tongue lightly, and shook his head. Barely human anymore, reduced to a mess of laughter and tears. Frances knew what fate held for him, and all he could do was watch in horror.
“The Lord of Pain will Embrace you as you fall down. There will be no mercy…” he whispered softly, and then released his chin. The man screamed, and tried to run. Out of pure, foolish, human instinct, he struggled to push himself up and flee. His screams were cut off briefly as Elias’ hounds lunged at the man.
And then the screams returned, as his hounds tore the man to pieces as he still lived. Elias watched with a cool expression as the man’s arm was torn to shreds. White bone exposed to air, wailing screams echoing out into the morning air.
Elias stood and turned away as the sound of tearing flesh and crunching bone snapped out. The screams of pain died down into soft whimpers, and then only the sounds of beasts eating could be heard, the man silenced forever. Elias relished the sweet bliss the death brought the lord of pain. He had been disappointed, but that anger had been appeased. And the horror it struck in others thrilled Elias to the core.
“Geraki…” He spoke the code name softly. Like silk, a woman stepped up to his side. Her dark hair was cut short, bright hazel eyes staring up at him. As usual, her face betrayed nothing- no shock at his actions, or the death of one of their fellow members. “Be sure to clean up after them. I want no trace of our involvement here. They will think of it as a meteor, no more…” He had already fed the story to all those nearby. Members of the Order were in place in towns, whispering of bright heavenly lights in the sky. Of bits and pieces breaking off into the night. It was simply a meteor falling the heavens, or even a sign from God of whatever it was the foolish people wanted to believe. So long as no one knew of what had truly happened here.
“Yes, Lord Fidi,” the woman whispered, fisting a hand over her heart. She bowed to him, and then turned to watch the gruesome scene continue, waiting for the hounds to finish.
Elias stepped away from the sound of crunching bones and tearing flesh, moving towards the edge of the crater once again. He cast his eyes from one side, to the next, once again clasping his hands behind his back. Even through failure, the power of their Lord was tremendous. Soon, they would find a vessel worthy of his power, and the world would bow at their feet. The power promised would come to them all, and no one would stand in their way. Divine power would be theirs, and the suffering of all would end. The Lord embrace warmly those who pleased him.
“Lykos.” Elias’ voice cut out into the silence. He felt the members of the Order shift behind him, felt a single presence step out from the rest. His awareness was linked to the members of the cult present- he could feel their fear, and apprehension like a fog in his mind. They could hide nothing from the Lord- and so they could hide nothing from Elias. “Are you prepared to take on the task of seeking out a proper vessel?”
“Lord Fidi…” A young voice answered him, and Elias turned, dark eyes settling on a figure kneeling in the blackened earth before him. A faint smile curled at his lips. His hounds came to his side, soft growls in their throats as they sized up the kneeling figure before him. “I am prepared. The Sparrow has been located as well. I believe a suitable vessel will be found close by…”
Elias’ eyes widened at the mention of their long-lost project. Once true success among many failures, which had been taken right out from underneath them. Old regrets, emotions he had failed to allow himself to control- spilled forth. His Sparrow… “Good,” Elias purred softly, studying the young male before him. Like all other members of the Order, he wore a mask covering his face. But his eyes were visible, glinting gold in the light of the morning. “Then I shall place it in your hands. But be aware of the punishment should you fail. Not even your blood will save you from the Lord of Pain’s wrath….”
The young man bowed his head. “Yes, my lord. I will not fail him,” he whispered, voice soft, reverent.
Elias stared for one moment longer, and then turned once again to face the crater. They would find the vessel, and the ritual would be complete. Their failures would end, and the Lord of Pain would walk the earth once again.