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Title: Demon Lord – Prologue Excerpt
Published by Wizard Press 2006 - An imprint of Stephan Phillips
(Pty) Ltd
ISBN 978-0-9584766-4-5
Author: T.C. Southwell


The seeress gripped the edge of the glass, and her knuckles whitened as her brows drew together over eyes that filled with horror. The acolyte who watched over Elder Mother while she was absorbed in her scrying hurried to her side, frightened by her rigid stance and the pallor that washed the colour from her cheeks.
"What is it, Mother?" she whispered, gripping the seeress' shoulder.
Ellese sat unmoving, her gaze locked on that faraway event visible only to her within the glass. The acolyte glanced at the clear round glass in its simple silver frame, which for her held nothing but the book lined wooden shelves beyond. She waited, unwilling to disturb Elder Mother's intense concentration. The seeress lowered her hands and drew a deep, shuddering breath, blinking.
"The Black Lord!" Her voice rasped with dread, and her eyes remained glazed. "The evil has finally found a way to enter this world, to break the wards set by the ancient wizards."
The girl stared at the seeress with undisguised terror, her hands bunched in her robe, wringing it. "How?"
"A boy child, born below. He will be sent."
"When will he come?"
Ellese's eyes regained their focus. "Not for a time yet. He still has to grow, to be taught the evil powers and their use. Twenty years, if we are fortunate. Time to prepare ourselves, at least." The acolyte sagged with relief, and Elder Mother said, "Do not look so happy, child, you will still be here." She stood up. "Send a message to all the Elder Mothers. We must have a meeting, we must plan our defence."
The acolyte nodded and hurried out, lifting the flowing skirts of her white healer's robe so that they did not hamper her. Ellese crossed the room to stare out of the abbey window, her eyes blind to the midwinter snow that covered the garden in a thick blanket. Gentle gusts eddied the falling flakes into swirling patterns, brushing against the windows, sliding down to gather on the ledge. She shivered, but not with cold, for the fire that roared in the hearth warmed the cosy book-lined room with its wooden panelling and thick woollen maroon curtains.
The table at which she had been sitting occupied one corner of the room opposite the stone fireplace. The glass sat innocuously on it, clear and dead now. Tidily arranged papers filled the corners of the desk, and a small ink well and writing plumes stood at its centre. The cold, pale light from the windows mingled with the warm glow of the fire to illuminate the myriad ancient tomes that filled the bookshelves. The cosy normality of the room vanished as she recalled the horrible vision that she had just witnessed.
Within the deep gloomy caverns of the Underworld, a boy child had been born. The great cavern in which the event had taken place had been formed by magic eons ago, the rock twisted and warped by the will of the god who had created it. Huge columns of solidified magma upheld the vaulted ceiling of stretched, striated rock, cooled in the midst of its oozing, patterned with smears and blobs. The inner fire shone from cracks in the walls and floor, throwing lurid light in twisted patterns. Further light was cast by fire demons in true form, sickly hues of green and orange flame.
The demons' chanting had all but drowned out the screams of the child's mother as she died on the stone altar, her belly torn open as the Black Lord ripped the baby from her womb. The boy's cries had stopped when the Black Lord inscribed a dark rune upon his head, and his eyes glazed under the evil power. The Lord of the Underworld handed the bloody infant to a minion, who wrapped him in a cloth. By then the mother was dead, her blood pooling on the floor.
The infant stood no chance against the corruption of the Underworld. He would be warped, moulded as the Black Lord wished, and none could save him from his fate. Ellese's heart twisted with pity as she recalled the tiny child, slick with his mother's blood. He was an innocent new born babe, doomed to be a helpless pawn in the hands of the Black Lord. She had no doubt that he would suffer terribly in the Underworld, but far worse than his horrific birth had been the ritual that the Black Lord had performed before he had torn the infant from his mother's womb.

Copyright (C) 2008 by T C Southwell

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