Alone one man stands, staring around a rocky landscape. As far as the eye can see, a jagged red rock disappears in all directions. Confused, the man spun on the spot; he raised his hands above his head and let them fall to his side.
Again, he spun on the spot; this time, he found himself face to face with Anodyne.
“Hello, little boy.”
“Aint no boy, I am a man. Speak your peace Anodyne; I serve Ill’ makes, god of disease. You have no jurisdiction over me.”
“Funny thing about serving a deity, you must follow their word as law otherwise…”
Anodyne gestured to the landscape around him, spinning and laughing as he went.
“So this is Ill’ akees’s hell? I broke my vows, so now I am condemned to rot in this wasteland alone?”
Anodyne stopped prancing around, sighing. He walked over to the man.
“No, wrong on all accounts. This is Hell, the only hell. All the other gods were mad there was nowhere to send their oath breakers. So this is the eternal plane of death; please live as you please.”
The man looked around.
“I see the stone; there is no food. Will I die here?”
Anodyne laughed once again.
“You are a dead peasant; that is how you reach hell. Fun fact though you are immortal, you can be eaten and digested, have your bones smashed to powder, and you will feel everything, forever.”
“Why are you telling me this? What makes me so special?”
“You, special? No, I have already told hundreds. You are by far not the first here. I promised the other deities that I would inform all who arrive in the first week. So far, I have told nearly nine hundred, and we are halfway through the week. I expect more to follow. Why did Ill’ takes send you here?”
“I broke his law; I refused to spread a new disease to a nearby school. Not out of disgust, but it was so far away, and it was cold.” He stared Anodyne in the eyes. “I just couldn’t be fucked.”
Anodyne wandered around; he climbed to the top of a nearby rock. Looking out over the expanse, even he looked out with disbelief at how barren the world was.
“Build, rape, murder. Do to your heart’s content; no deities here. No laws, no trees, not even a breeze. I do well when I create Hell.”
“How can I build things? There is nothing to build with. There is stone but no way to mine; apart from that, what else can I build with?”
Anodyne started to ascend into the sky, eyes glowing blue and arms out wide.
“Why not start with him?” He spoke softly before disappearing into the violet sky.
The man turned to see another standing, shocked.
“He spoke to me over an hour ago; I have been wandering ever since. Looking for anyone or anything.”
The first man looked over to the newcomer; he was smaller than him.
“I am, I am. To hell with names; I am bigger than you, follow me, and we will rule this land. I am strong, but I understand numbers beat strength. Are you going to work under me, or do I have to cave your skull in?”
The second man smiled.
“It is true; I am weak, small, and surprisingly slow. But there are many things I have that you do not, things that will make me king of the waste.”
Both men stared, not breaking eye contact.
The king rolled his eyes.
“Fine, if you are not going to ask, then I will tell you. I can talk, and if I talk long enough, people tend to join my side. Will you join my side?”
“I hate to break it to you, but your words have no effect on me. You serve under my boot, or you die by my hand. No one will follow a weak fool like you.”
The king started to laugh.
“Let me put it like this.” Four men appeared all around the first man, all wielding rocks in hand.
“Kiss my boot, or become our food. We are not hungry yet, so you may pass being on a meal. We can eat the next one. You are strong, stronger than this lot, but I believe we can kill you if need be.”
“Anodyne said we are immortal; you can’t kill me.”
“We can still eat you, it just makes it more fun knowing how much you are suffering.”
The first man looked around at the four reasonably sized men holding rocks; he then turned back to the king.
“Never say I don’t know when I am beat. All hail the king; long may he reign.”
The first man bowed, pledging his allegiance.
“Good, now take this rock, and let’s hunt some fools. I am not a violent man by nature, but this plane will become a race to power.”
The king handed down a stone to the first man.
“You have got to be kidding me.”
The first man caved in the skull of the would-be king. Watching as the king was still conscious, lying in absolute agony, his brain lay spilled on the ground.
“I am king now; any questions?”
The four men looked at each other, none of them concerned.
“Can we eat him? We have been here a long time; we are pretty hungry.”
The first man gave a little smirk as he could see the eyes of the fallen King widen; he started to stand, trying to run.
“I am a just King; I feed my people. Please dig in on this here, fallen King.”
The men all walked over to the man standing with his brain dripping from his skull. He turned to the king, eyes red from his own blood.
“The fallen king has risen maggot.”
He grasped at his own skull, ripping a piece from it. He choked the throat of his attacker and stabbed at his eyes, piercing them one after another before he moved away to watch as he flailed his rock around blindly.
“Who do you follow, men? That who uses nothing but his strength when he is strong, or me? One who will fight with every bit of strength he has?”
The first man dropped to his knees, grasping at his eyes, sobbing loudly.
“I am Verical; when I was alive, I was a raider. I killed, raped, and stole. But I have never seen anything as fucked as this. If you are willing to kill someone with your own skull, I will follow you till the end of this eternal plane. All hail the Risen King.”
The remaining three men lifted their rocks high.
“Hail the Risen king.”
“We can eat this man, but not all. Anodyne claimed that we cannot die; I want to keep this one as a pet. A reminder of what happens to those who oppose me.”
The Risen King turned from the first man as the other four started to eat. He surveyed the landscape, looking for their next meal. He looked out over the world, spying a cave on the top of a towering rock.
“That will be my castle.” He turned back to the men who had taken chunks out of the first man.
“Gut him, take his entrails, and make a collar. You are my pet; you shall be known simply as Crawl. For that is all you will do from this day forth.”
The four men did as the Risen King asked; he took the lead made from Crawl’s intestines and made him crawl over the hot stone.
“That cave will be our home, my castle where I will rule. You men shall be my generals; I know Verical, but who else walks with me?”
“Us three were orphans; we were given no name.”
“Perfect, you knew each other before this plane; I will just name you general one, general two, and general three. Verical will take the title of Commander. Makes things easy, doesn’t it?”
“All I used to do was work; I am proud to be named after my title. It is an honour, your grace.”
The King tugged on the intestines making Crawl fall.
“Grace is a term that does not fit this land. You will refer to me as Wrath.”
All four generals spoke as one.
“Yes, your Wrath.”
All six men made their way to the base of the rocks, which held the cave high above. All of them looked up at the climb that leads to it.
“We find more people, we tear them apart, we build a staircase from their bones so that I may claim my throne. We take those who will serve, eat those who are fat, and slaughter all who oppose us.”
The men wandered as one towards the nearest climbable high point. The still violet sun beating down an unstoppable heat. By the time they had climbed to the top, what little remained of the brain of the Risen King had started to cook. Boiling in its own blood, he reached high and took it out; he examined it. Looking at its discoloration, sniffing, he took a bite before putting it back in.
“This truly is Hell, it may be hard at first, but soon we will be flooded with oath breakers. We must be a force before this happens. Already I can see three other groups, none as large as ours. I see meals, I see those willing to fight for a King, I see a pile of bones ready to be crafted. Let us take what is ours.”
“Your Wrath, let us take the closest group; they are but three small ones. Your pet will slow us down; let us claim these lives in your name. We will craft them into new weapons, weapons that will inspire your rule.”
“Go, Commander, Lead these men.”
The Risen King watched as his men ran towards the closest group.
“Guys, do you think there is water anywhere?”
“Water? Can’t you feel the heat? No water would last here.”
“But what if…”
“What if what? We disobeyed the gods, and now we suffer. Look around; there is nothing, no one.”
The man spun around, looking towards the expanse of red stone.
“Fuck there are people running towards us; we gotta go.”
“what if they are friendly?”
Two of the men had already started running, while the third stood awaiting the arrival of the Kingsmen.
“Welcome. Do you want to join forces?”
The men ran straight past the fool, running for his friends. Those fleeing were much smaller, much weaker, and had much less stamina.
“We give in; please just spare our lives.”
“Yea, total surrender; please don’t hurt us.”
None of the generals nor the commander spoke. They grabbed the two men and ushered them towards their King.
“See, I told you they were here to make friends.”
Again no one spoke; they pushed the fool around and marched all three up the hill to their King.
As they peaked over the peak of the hill, they noticed the gnawed remains of Crawl. The fool vomited immediately, collapsing to his knees as his bile simmered on the stone.
The Risen King looked down at him with disgust.
“If he can’t stand the sight of Crawl, he won’t last in this world. Remove his bones, and use them as handles for clubs. Tie the stones to them with his tendons; we will save the meat for later.”
“Please, no, I can…” Again he vomited, adding another pile of cooking bile to the hot stones.
“Silence him; I need to think about what we are to do with these two.”
The three Generals took the fool away, crushing his vocal cords and tearing muscle from bone. The King watched for a moment before his eyes returned to the two men who ran. They stared at the blood steam that rose from the hole in the Risen King’s skull, mesmerized by the sound of boiling meat that resonated from within. Their skin crawled as they watched this monster before them stare them up and down, contemplating their fate.
“I have four men, they are not the biggest, but they are bigger than you two. What do you have that I need?”
The two men stared at each other, then to the generals that were mincing their friend.
“We are numbers; a small man with a club is better than a.” he looked downward at Crawl.
“Better than that.”
“If you are to join my ranks, you need names. We are disposing of our Hollow names, so let’s see.”
Once again, the King looked over the two cowards before him; the one speaking had a look of determination in his eyes, while the other had stained his pants with piss.
“You, you are Piss, and you, your Vinegar.”
The commander grabbed the men by the scruffs of their necks.
“Thank your King, or meet the same fate as your friend.”
Both men bowed to the ground, pressing their faces against the burning stone.
“You will stay there till I deem you worthy of standing.”
The King turned to look at the bloody mess of the fool, smiling at the work his men had done, only to be interrupted by Piss and Vinegar’s screams.
He turned to see Anodyne standing on their backs, forcing their faces down hard against the hot stone.
“Eight fucking hours, and already you lot are insane. I have been observing the landscape and have seen many groups taking form, but none as bizarre as you lot. Hollow is going to be missing me for a while because this is entertainment at its best. Madness spreads like a virus; if you are to take rule over all, you will set a standard that will change this plane into one of madness.”
Anodyne jumped on the backs of those below him before floating around the Risen King.
“You know if you leave that in there any longer, it will overcook. Not my place, I know; I am sorry; I am just so excited for what is to come. I will leave you be, goodbye Risen King.”
Anodyne faded into the sky once again; as soon as he fully disappeared, they returned to their world.
“You may stand; help my Generals finish their weapons. You will receive your weapons once you have earned my trust. Until then, you will be our bait, but don’t worry, we will try to keep you whole.”
The commander let go of Piss and Vinegar to let them assist the generals. He then stepped before his King.
“Your Wrath, there are two other groups that lay within sight. What is our plan?”
The Risen king took his brain from his skull, looking out from his hilltop towards the groups that wandered the waste. The King took a large bite of his brain, disgusted he spat out his mouthful.
“Overcooked, looks like I will be needing more. Once those weapons are done, we go hunting,”