Roads to Megiddo, Canto Six
By Patrick M. Tracy
Harkalivad crawled out from beneath the rubble and the stacked dead bodies. The doomblade lay several paces from him, releasing a low cooing noise after the glut of slaughter. The sky roiled dark, spitting shards of lightning from within its curdled mass. The sundered remains of an entire race of demons reached to the limits of his vision in all directions. He had done it…destroyed them all.
There was the slightest of pangs, floating down through the dim recesses of his tattered soul. He had been fond of the breed, these temptress demons. A man bent on the destruction of the entire universe could have no friends, but the demoness who had visited him from time to time upon his long journey had eased the loneliness a little. No matter. They chose to stand against him, to rally to the cause of this stream of reality. Like all the other obstacles, they were overcome. Still, if he could have gone forward with at least one entity’s blessing, it would have made things better. Easier. Eternal, dark power did not come easy. The sum total of all thought and action did not die without an overarching series of struggles.
“But that’s over now,” he told himself. “I am close now, and that is all that matters.”
Harkalivad retrieved the doomblade, forged to end this universe of sin, hatred, and intransigence, and sheathed it. He stood still on the parched ground of this desert, the desert of the first world, the one that counted. All the others, with their wonders and horrors, with their wars and echoing silences, were but shadows, vestigial to the true one. He had expected it to be grander, somehow, but it was, as truths often are, prosaic. Just another ball of rock hurtling through space and time.
The scenery became indistinct as he walked through the field of the dead, and finally up over a rise. Strange spasms wracked Harkalivad’s chest, echoes of things long past, of lost possibilities and lost lives he had thought long cauterized to numbness. Perhaps, as the ending of all things grew nearer, all the old wounds were doomed to ache once more. A test of his faith in the mission. Perhaps it was only the agony of the recent battle, and the anihilation he had enacted. It had been many years since he had extirpated an entire race.
Harkalivad wiped away the moisture in his eyes and it was not replenished. He crested the hill, and below him, the remnants of old stone buildings lay in ruins. The sky flashed and juddered above him, so that it seemed like many living shadows darted here and there within the fallen walls. Some of them were too still, too solid to be phantoms of the stormy sky. He touched the hilt of his blade. He was not alone.
Starting down into the valley, his skin tingled with the electric awareness that he was no longer on the prosaic world, but had arrived at the hidden gates. Below him, the pile of stone and powdered mud bricks, the shadows chasing themselves…was Megiddo.