I step back into my world, I feel as though I have been here a thousand times, interacting with all the inhabitants. I am greeted by the freezing wind piercing my skin, causing a chilling discomfort as the wind rolls over me. Spinning on the spot, I spy a small village of no more than a few thousand; hope, hope filled my body as I could visit my people once again. I slowly started my way down the hill I stood upon towards the village, taking in the breathtaking scenery around me. I was surrounded by acres of forest with a plethora of different trees, giving a unique look to each part of it; beyond them, the only features I could see with human eyes were mountain ranges ascending into the sky.
As I approached, I yelled out to the village guards,
“Guard, rejoice for I, Anodyne, have returned to you, the people” The man rushed inside the walls, bells started ringing, and a large commotion started on the far side of the wall. Although I have the power to see into all my people’s minds, I do not; I savor the moment I am to be rushed by the masses in rejoicing.
It was not long before the first group appeared, carrying torches in the night to light their way to me; the town’s Pyromancers cast flames from the torch to make a pathway for me to follow. Lighting my way in the black of night, next to come was music, a glorious racket echoing through the hills to let all know that I had returned. Now illuminated by the fire, my low-light vision was failing; due to the music, my ears were clogged with celebration; I did not even notice them sneak up behind me until I had been speared through the heart.
A spear planted through my back and into my heart; another made a decent attempt at hacking off my arm with a sword. I fell to the ground crying out in pain, agony, and utter disbelief that my people could do this to me. I lay on the ground for a moment until I felt the hopes of the men around me spike as they believed they had smitten me; when they reached their peaks of delight, I stole it away.
“Do you really think that these weapons would kill me?” I growl with blood pouring from my mouth.
“Stab him again and again, and don’t let up till morning light,” Yelled the man who stabbed me through the chest. Without hesitation or logical thought, they continued, slashing, stabbing, gouging, dismembering until they were satisfied with the viscosity of the remains they had pureed with their crude weapons.
At this point, I reincarnated myself into a new body and proceeded to walk up behind them; slowly getting closer, I allowed my breathing to lengthen and gain volume until finally, mere meters away, one noticed me emerging from the night; I will never forget the horror that bound his body to the spot. It fuelled me, giving me the strength to allow him a quick death as the one who gave me the most satisfaction. The others were not so lucky; I tore them to pieces as they stood in the warm embrace of the Pyromancer’s fire, demonstrating why I am the god of Hollow and how they were my playthings. As the fine mist of blood dissipated I stared deep into the eyes of the watching villagers, just to be bombarded with a biblical proportion of hate and fury in the form of words and fire.
My name was cursed, I had my courage in question, others questioned why, some just cried for those who they loved that had been turned into a fine mist before their very eyes. All of these emotions flowed through my body. At that moment, I could rejoice; I felt human; I felt as if I were a mere mortal again struggling with the inability to control myself in a time of need. Slowly though, the emotional torrent slowed to a stream as those at the gates realized there was nothing to be done; I was true, which means what happened to their loved ones was a fact; almost collapsed to the ground in groups huddling for some form of communal grieving. The next part is the most enjoyable to me; it means I know I have broken them.
One lonely woman cried out, walking towards me.
“Please, Anodyne, we will do anything to bring them back; they were our husbands, our brothers, our sons, our family; they mean so much, please bring them back.”
Victoria, aged forty-five, and her Husband Preston were the first to be turned to a fine mist by my powers; her soul was pure and clean. I lowered my head to the ground and spoke softly to her.
“Since your heart is so pure and your desires are true, I will allow these men to return under one condition” “Please name it,” a small group of women walk forward with linked arms.
“Us wives will do anything for our husbands back.”
I stare at them, each as pure as the next, no stain on their souls whatsoever.
“Why it is simple,” I wave my hand, and a woman floats from out of the crowd and places knelt before the grouping of determined widows.
“This woman has slept with all your husbands during each of your wedlock. She is a temptress who seduced all of your husbands for a night, giving her body, forfeiting to them where yours should have lain.”
The wives’ eyes teared up again as they were filled with rage, sadness, disbelief, and sorrow; the seductress sat confused, ignoring the group of furious Widows next to her standing within arm’s reach. “Since your souls are all so pure, all you have to do is kill this woman, but not just remove her life; I want you to make her hurt as your husbands did, then I will grant your wish.”
The knelt woman turned in a heartbeat claiming all said to be a lie, grabbing at the robes of the widows; the widows were disinterested in the idea. They slumped down in defeat, knowing they would never have their soul mates back in their lives.
One woman rocketed up, rock in hand. She marched over to the knelt seductress and kicked her over onto her back with arm in tow, ready to deal a devastating blow, but she was received by panicked shaking hands grasping her wrists, halting the attack in its tracks. Another widow stood and shouted.
“Do not aim for the head. She must suffer, or we do not get our husbands back,” too, wielded a rock and lunged for the harlot that had stolen a night of her lover away. This time the rock came cracking down into a now mangled ankle, a deafening scream rung in the ears of all nearby as the pain tried to escape the harlot’s body. With the first strike laid, it became easier; one by one, the woman took turns with rocks, branches, and finally, the weapons of their beloveds in order to force this one woman through the pain no one human should ever know. It lasted till the harlot had memorized the exact way her bones would snap, and her skin would tear under the force of each weapon as it was laid into her mutilated body. Finally, all she saw was black, and all she felt was emptiness as her consciousness slipped away from her body and into the night. The crowds of people standing by the gates stood in silent shock, confused if they should help or let it happen, but before any of them had time to act, the widows had already laid waste to the harlots’ body.
The strikes continued for minutes past the one lowly sluts’ deaths, her corpse twitching with each strike. One by one, they slowed, coming to the realization of what they had just done, torture of a woman because their husbands were weak and dissatisfied with the ecstasy they received from their loving wives.
“Please,” begged Victoria crying on her knees, covered in the blood of the deceased.
“We did as you asked, now do as you promised.”
“I promised you one wish as you all are pure of heart; I presume you want your cheating husbands back?”
Without hesitation, nearly in unison, they cried out.
“Now, I need it to be asked in the form of a wish for my powers to work.”
Victoria, now enraged, screamed at Anodyne,
“Please bring back our no good, cheating, asshole, amazing, loving husbands,”
I stared at them and observed their hearts once more; with a chuckle, I responded.
“I am sorry, but I cannot; as I said before, you must be pure of heart.”
“You already checked and saw we were; you said we had pure hearts, all of us.”
“Yes, before you tortured a woman to death for nothing more than a rumor that she slept with your nothing but faithful husbands. It was true she had deceived someone and that she deserved death, but it was not you who she had slighted. Furthermore, she was pure of the body and never once had taken a man to bed. Your souls are blackened and desperate only a life of torment awaits, you four widows of death.”
With that, I left them, fading into the darkness of the night but still listening to the souls of the now completely fragmented woman sat in the gore of jealous passion. I listened, for Hollow works with chaos and blood; I listened not for their tears but for what the Hollow would allow them to replace their tears with.
I was not disappointed; their tears dried up, evaporating from the heat caused by the divine hate radiating from their bodies.
“Well, this is Hollow, isn’t it? Life isn’t fair here. No one ever wins, do they?” A nearby villager laid a hand on the shoulder of the closest widow in hopes of gifting comfort to her heart. Unfortunately, the heart his comfort sought could not be found; she turned smiling.
“My man was loyal, brave, faithful, handsome, and he loved me more than anything, do not dare try to replace him.” Her grin soured as she felt the power from the Hollow filling her enraged soul, body trembling. She plunged her hand into the man’s chest, smashing his ribs and latching onto his heart, pouring her malice into it.
The kind man dropped to the ground revealing the Widow’s new form. Their pupil completely took over the color in their eyes, veins so red they appeared to be glowing, leaving a road map of blooded rage across the whites of their eyes. Bodies adorned by a black dress and a hat with a veil to hide their face. The villages stood back, scared at what had happened before them; not sure how to react, they stood in disbelief and confusion as the man with a hole in his chest stood again, his eyes too as black as night; he stood behind the Widows hunched with a veil of depression covering his whole body.
In perfect synchronization, the widows yelled out to the village,
“To any man who thinks he is better than our loving husbands, step forward and be judged. Should you fail, we will take your soul; we will feed these souls to Hollow till we have gathered enough men to equal our four.”
The towns folk all headed back into the town walls, Pyromancers launching fireballs at the four widows standing in the night. The large gates of the town swung shut as the Pyromancers entered, blowing a gust of cold night’s air across the widows’ faces freezing their tears to their pale faces.
I watched as Hollow’s new creations walked off into the night, with their little pet following slowly behind. Content with my night’s work, I made my way back to Earth, waking from my bed with a grin.