Time witnessed the rise of kings and the fall of heroes. Master of life and death. The cruelest of lovers. Only the gods and other Eternals have become immune to his influence.
Every story that is worth telling exists exclusively because of the presence of time. No number can count the number of events that time has witnessed. But there are exceptional cases, events whose importance transcends time, stories destined to be eternal.
However, even these stories have a beginning, a point in time where the singularity originated. As for this story? It all started in an ancient prison buried deep in the world, between fire and ashes, magma and sulfur.
Little red imps squeal and torture newborns; the first circle is their destiny. Six-armed nagas fight and whip each other in eternal chaos in the second circle. Violence, cruelty, and sin only intensify with each circle descended. Increasingly powerful and evil demons can be found on the descent, reigning their little pieces of this hell from which they cannot escape.
Nine circles, nine worlds of pain and agony, all are prisoners, all are sinners, and all suffer their own kind of torture. However, our story starts elsewhere. What we seek is deep, beyond the nine circles, in an unreachable place. A place that once held eight prisoners, a place made by god himself to imprison eight beings of unparalleled power and evil.
There wasn much to say about this prison. It was nothing more than a cavern full of fire and brimstone, no different from the rest of hell. Perhaps the only difference would be the golden chains that filled the cave. Where before there were eight prisoners, now only one remains. The only living being still bound by the golden chains.
The vaguely human silhouette lay on its knees in the magma, seemingly immune to its heat. The being looked at the ground, motionless, powerless. His blood-red hair blocked a view of his face, but the aura of defeat around him was almost palpable.
The limbs and torso of this being had been impaled by the golden chains, keeping it firmly restrained. How many years had passed? The creature could not remember. How much had he struggled to free himself from these chains? Even ripping off limbs hadn worked. How did you end up here? The only thing the creature ever wanted was freedom; his search for it led him here.
This ancient being, whose existence used to be adored by mortals, had been reduced to a prisoner, unable to escape from this cage created by his own father.
The word father was taboo for this entity. The mere mention of him was enough to drive him mad. Shouts of anger filled the cave, the sound of chains being rattled, flesh being torn. But no matter how hard this being struggled, the chains remained in place.
Anger had gotten him nowhere, he knew that, but he couldn help it. Ultimately, his mind had long since lost its sanity; anything was a good excuse to lash out madly.
In the brief moments of his lucidity, purple returned to the eyes of this entity, a beautiful color with a mesmerizing glow that could steal souls. But all that beauty was lost when his mind descended into madness again. Sometimes it was two or three irises of different colors, sharp pupils, or something else; only that beautiful purple kept away until sanity returned.
Like his eyes, the very form of this being seemed to be altered by his state of mind. Scales, skin, exoskeleton, bone, what already existed was deformed; what was not there became present, like an unstable and changing chimera. Only two things remain unchanged: his vague humanoid form and the pair of wings that grow out of this beings back.
Made of hundreds if not thousands of obsidian blades that barely imitated the vague shape of a feather. If it weren for the way they spread from his back like the wings of a bird, one wouldn think of those things as a pair of wings.
Then, lucidity returned, and this being stopped deforming, returning to what was now his original form. If he had remembered how to do it, this being would have smiled ironically. He no longer remembered his original form, the one with which he was conceived; he only remembered that it was beautiful and radiant. ”I used to be a being of light. ” He inadvertently muttered the entity.
The rough voice, full of an ancient and depressing feeling, its owner used to fill the silence that had lasted for thousands of years. This being had forgotten what it looked like and how long it had been here, but he had not forgotten how it was that he was left alone.
In order to survive, this ancient being had fed on the other prisoners. Those evil beings who shared this prison with him were devoured one by one. They tried to resist, to fight the prisoner who went mad, but they never imagined that it would be this entity that would end them.
He had lost divine grace, suffering the hellish corruption of this place, something the other prisoners were immune to. He weakened much faster than the rest of the prisoners, nearly dying in a matter of a millennium.
It wasn until he went crazy that all the other prisoners remembered a detail about this being. That he was a being of light, immune or resistant to most of the powers they could use while chained up.
The massacre was brief, overwhelmed by the divine light; the evil entities died one by one. They were all consumed by this being that was once called the devouring light; what a great irony. Only two entities managed to avoid being devoured, although their fate was not much better.
The first being was a rather peculiar existence, an entity that did not do much harm to deserve this prison but whose presence was a source of death and decay. This being died as he lived, too lazy to do anything to resist his fate. The only prisoner who chose death, scattered into ashes of his own free will.
The second chose a similar path but for entirely different reasons. Seeing how the other prisoners were devoured and the perpetrator seemed to be taking everything they were, the second lost his mind and went berserk.
”What is mine will never belong to anyone else; that includes me. ” Those were the last words of that ancient evil before self-destructing in an attempt to take his adversary with it.
The remaining prisoners fought or begged, only to eventually be eaten. Perhaps the greatest sin of this last survivor was not wanting his freedom; perhaps his true sin was clinging to life no matter the cost.
Nothing in this prison would allow this being to see his current appearance. Still, he knew what kind of abomination he had become.
”I just want to be free. ” The being murmured again, his mind slipping once more into madness.
”Azmodiel. ” A beautiful voice that did not belong in this hell called a name lost in time. The body of the chained entity trembled, he had forgotten many things, but he still remembered his name.
The purple returned to his eyes. The being raised his face to look around, looking for the source of this voice. The beautiful face of this being did not fit with his twisted existence. Demonic seduction seemed to coexist with a pure, almost dreamlike beauty unsuited to the hellish landscape surrounding him. Only his expression, twisted with madness and hope, matched who he really was.
”Azmodiel. ” The beautiful voice called to him again, filled with sweet longing, heartfelt request, and pure need. But none of that mattered to this being, to the one who calls himself Azmodiel.
Azmodiel was only interested in the source of this voice, which should not exist in this place. The mere notion that something or someone was capable of entering this place was enough to ignite the corrupted spark of hope in Azmodiels heart.
”Azmodiel, help. ”
It wasn until the third call that something changed, allowing Azmodiel to see the source of the voice. A white page floating in the middle of the hellish prison was the source of the voice.
The sacred aura of the page made Azmodiel very uncomfortable. He knew that the light had abandoned him even if he had not become its enemy. Nevertheless, Azmodiel gritted his sharp teeth and forced himself to look more clearly at that white page.
The surprise was hard to hide, Azmodiel had never seen that page, but he knew exactly what it was and where it came from. After all, Azmodiel had been there when his mother gave mortals the gift of magic. Azmodiel witnessed the birth of the first grimoire and the first spell.
Azmodiel always thought his mother was very kind to give such a gift to mortals. To avoid seeing them suffer, she personally placed a grimoire in the hearts of all mortals at birth. The grimoires were the seeds of magic granted to mortals. From there, it was up to them to cultivate said gift or see it dry up.
Azmodiel didn know much about magic itself since his gifts were something he was born with, something incredibly powerful, filled with divine grace, something other than magic.
Still, Azmodiel remembered that every grimoire contained a spell from the moment of birth. This spell is unique to each mortal, something they could not share or learn from others, an arrangement of fate, according to Azmodiels mother.
What was now floating in the middle of the air was precisely the first page of a grimoire, that first spell granted by fate. Chaos erupted inside the cave as soon as Azmodiel understood what that page was.
The golden chains that bound Azmodiel were torn from the cave and absorbed into the white page. And without having a say or vote on his own destiny, Azmodiel, who remained tied to said chains, was dragged and absorbed by the white page.
That was how the last prisoner of this prison forgotten by the world disappeared. The cave began to crumble after his departure, as if its function had finally been fulfilled.
The remaining golden chains that once shackled other beings dissolved into traces of golden light before vanishing. And without any other demon in the nine circles of hell being aware, the tenth circle ceased to exist.
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