Dominion: Chapter 1 – King of the Dead


One hundred years ago, the war against the undead began. No one knows where it originated from, but a virus blossomed somewhere in the USA, spreading so fast that even trying to identify Ground Zero was a fruitless endeavor. The infected would lose all sense of sanity, their memories and feelings eclipsed by madness and a hunger for flesh. The disease took hold through access to the bloodstream, most often through bite wounds, completely corrupting the host in a matter of seconds and robbing them of their humanity. From there, they would have one single mission: spread, spread sickness and death. They ignored all injuries, their absent heartbeat, even their own rotting flesh. While the human race tried to protect their egos by calling it a war, really, it was assimilation.

“Zombies”, pop culture had jokingly anticipated their arrival for decades. Countless movies, books, and videogames gave generations a glimpse into the horror that could be set loose if the dead walked. But contrary to cinema, the true undead could not be dispatched with something so simple as a bullet to the brain. Even after decapitation, the body moved in search of life, severed limbs crawling like insects. Dismemberment was the only option, followed by incineration for good measure.

Cities became bloodbaths, the threat bursting into people’s homes and feeding on their flesh. Highways turned into graveyards of abandoned cars, left behind during the panic. The steel boxes served as tombs for the stubborn and the fearful, those who had hoped that the undead clawing at their windows would grow bored and leave, only to succumb to infection or death. One by one, governments fell, the lights following suit and leaving everyone immersed in the darkness of night.

Twenty years and more than half of the world population later, the zombies died out, taking the last vestiges of stability and unity with them. Without the threat of the undead to unite mankind, the next thirty years were utter chaos, people fighting over the bloody and ashen remains of the old world. Warlords and religious sects ruled and madness infected the survival instinct. The old religions were either replaced or reinforced, faith both lost and given to those who had survived the nightmare of the undead. On altars made of junked cars, animals and humans were sacrificed in the hope of preventing another catastrophe, the rituals presided over by 21st century kings wearing broken Rolex watches and crowns made of CD shards. Sources of food and clean water became the subject of wars, with gasoline and ammunition worth more than their weight in gold.

But despite the bloodshed and madness, the human race could begin recovering and repopulating, and despite fifty years of chaos, the rebuilding process began. Drawing upon the knowledge of the old world from stories and records, humanity made the journey back towards the modern era, with former nations resurrecting one after another. Now, in America, mankind is walking the very same paths as in the 20th century, with people having to relearn and rediscover the knowledge and tools needed to establish basic commodities and infrastructure, while the rebuilt government works to settle the lands that remain without law and order.

A century after the occultation, human society is finally on an upswing. Cities are being reclaimed, ‘surviving’ being replaced with ‘living’, the future becoming a little less uncertain every day. But despite the fragile calm, the world is still engrossed in fear and confusion, and it is when chaos and order are in an equilibrium that evil evolves and a new nightmare takes the scene.

King of the Dead

There is no light of Heaven

Nor the raging flames of Hell

Only eternal darkness

In which the Old Gods dwell


The man looked into his glass, watching the surface of the liquid shimmer from his breath. Through it, he could see all of the lines and scratches in the wooden counter. It was old, definitely prewar. A lot of the tavern had been renovated with the reclaiming of the town, but the new owner appeared to have taken a liking to the old counter, probably trying to give his bar some “character” that would draw customers. Despite a century of neglect, it had aged very well. There were several other people in the bar, all of them armed, a remnant of the apocalypse that humanity had survived. The last zombie died around eighty years ago, yet it was common in rural areas to carry a blade large enough to hack off a limb, as well as a gun to defend against any remnants of the chaotic years that followed.

There was music playing from an old stereo, classic rock. Though in this era, it was technically “antique” rock. In the corner, above the bar, a TV was showing the evening news. The news anchor was wearing a nice suit but missing a tie. Some things from the old world weren’t brought back to the new one. The man wasn’t watching the news, nor listening to the music. He didn’t seem to even notice or mind the stench of cigarettes and the taste of bathtub liquor. His attention was focused on a large silver coin he was flipping back and forth across his knuckles.

The man was in his mid-twenties with long, dark hair. He had a large build from a lifetime of brutal training, but a handsome face, a fitting canvas for the smirk he wore as he stared at the coin. It was a smug grin, the kind that would anger some, unnerve others, and attract a few. It worked, drawing a cute little number to the seat next to his. Short blonde hair, blue eyes, an inviting cleavage, she drew the attention of every man in the room.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you around here before,” she said. She then ordered a drink from the bartender.

Seeing her, the man’s gaze sharpened with desire burning within. “I’m just passing through, heading north.”

“But there is nothing up north. You’ll only find backwoods savages up there.”

“Oh, there is plenty up there. It just depends on what you’re looking for.”

The bartender handed her a glass half-filled with an opaque liquid. She took a drink, leaving behind a smear of lipstick on the glass. “You might want to be careful flashing that silver here. The police won’t be able to help you if it gets taken.”

“I know how to keep it safe, but it’s not just the silver that gives it value.” He held it up, showing her the two sides. The coin had a glass lens pressed to its back. One side was a glistening mirror and the other was pure silver, engraved with a skull and incantations in a language that even before the war, few people knew about. “Without the glass, it’s just a piece of metal. Do you know how mirrors are made? A glass membrane is backed with a layer of a reflective substance, originally a mixture of mercury and tin. This is called silvering. Later, they were made using actual silver. In the modern age, the silver was replaced with aluminum.” The man eyed the mirror behind the bar. “That mirror is definitely aluminum.”

“I’m pretty sure the silver is the only reason anyone would steal it.”

“Only because they don’t know the true value of the mirror.” He then glanced up at the TV. It was a relic from the old world, but it still worked just fine. The news anchor was speaking with some government scientist about the possibility of the zombie plague returning. “Look at them, a hundred years since the undead rose and they still know nothing about them. They can’t even scratch the surface.”

The woman gave him an inviting look, knowing that there was more he wanted to say. She wanted to see if he had the courage to say it without needing to be asked and hoped it would be interesting.

The man smiled and held up the silver coin. “I know secrets about the dead. It was not a virus that allowed the dead to rise, it was the dead themselves. There is no light of Heaven, no flames of Hell, only the darkness of Purgatory, and when a hole is torn in that membrane, the dead pour back into our world. The “disease” that spread from person to person was really an ocean of spirits pouring into hosts. The darkness strips away all humanity. Once death has claimed you, your memories and feelings vanish, and you become an embodiment of hunger for that which you do not have: life.”

The woman rolled her eyes in disappointment. She had hoped he would be worth her attention, but he was just another religious nut. She looked back at him and she saw his gaze focused on her. The gleam in his eyes, that smirk on his face; they sent a shiver down her spine. The way he had spoken, it was not due to delusional beliefs or arrogant fanaticism; it was spoken in condescension, like he was explaining a fact to a child. He was indifferent to her reaction, or rather, it amused him.

“Relax, I’m just kidding.” He gave a hearty laugh, brushing aside her suspicions. “I love the different reactions people give when I start talking like that. It scares them, annoys them, or bores the hell out of him. Either way, it’s always funny.”

She laughed with him, and in her mind, laughed at herself for seeing things that weren’t there. He had just been smiling, that was all, and his sense of humor heightened her attraction. They began to chat, with more and more drinks being poured and consumed. The more she spoke, the more she drank, and the more obvious her intentions became.

“What do you say about getting out of here?” the man asked as the hands on his watch reached ever higher.

“You read my mind,” she purred. “I’ll call us a cab.”

“No need, I’m fine to drive.”

The man paid for their drinks and she followed him out to the parking lot, where light came only from the few lamps in the adjacent street. He led her to his pickup truck, built after the start of the reconstruction movement.

“I know of a nice motel nearby,” the woman said as she climbed into the truck.

“That won’t be necessary.”

Like a lunging snake, the man reached out and struck her in the side of the head with a solid punch. The force knocked her skull against the passenger door frame with enough force to draw blood. Her body became limp and the man bound and gagged her with a roll of duct tape. He then leaned out of the truck and jammed his fingers down his throat, forcing himself to vomit the alcohol he had consumed in the bar. He had only gone in there for a single drink, but in order to avoid her getting suspicious, he had to keep up with her. Of course, he had plenty of tricks to minimize the alcohol consumed—pretending to drink, throwing up in the bathroom, and even pouring his drink into her glass when she was distracted. It was necessary, as he needed to keep a clear head for what would happen next.


As the man drove further and further into the wilds of northern Maine, signs of civilization faded. Even before the war against the undead, the upper half of the state was an untamed sea of wilderness, crisscrossed by some silent roads. After fifty miles from the coast, a state line, or the Canadian border, civilization all but vanished. That had changed when the war began. People fleeing the undead, and later, the warlords and their armies, headed into seclusion, hiding in the darkness of the trees. In the labyrinths of rolling hills and smothering forests of New England, humanity regressed into a Lovecraftian nightmare. Violent religious sects were born, inbreeding became common, and the line separating humans from animals blurred. These days, the towns were islands of civilization in an ocean of savagery, the forests filled with people who didn’t want to be found.

The man was still smiling, excitement keeping him wired as the hours passed. Frequently, he would stop to consult maps, but nothing else deterred him from his goal. After a while, the woman began to stir, slightly concussed from the blow she had received. Her wrists bound and her mouth covered, panic filled her and she gave a muffled scream. Without taking his eyes off the road, the ran reached over and grabbed her throat with a crushing grip. He never lost his smirk.

“Now, now, if you’re going to make a fuss, I can just toss you into the back and let the cold quiet you down. Sitting in the cab is a privilege that you should appreciate more.” Desperate for air, she gave in and became still. “Good girl. Now, how about you keep me company while I drive?” He pulled the duct tape off her mouth, and immediately she began to cry out in terror. The man again grabbed her throat, forcing her into submission. “There will be plenty of time for screaming later, but not in this confined space.”

He finally let go and she took some deep breaths. When she spoke, her voice was trembling. “What do you want from me?”

“I stopped off at that bar for a drink and you presented yourself on a silver platter. I decided that it might be a good idea to have some warm blood with me for where I’m going.”

“Where’s that?”

The man chuckled. “Do you remember what I said before? About the spirits of the dead? Heaven and Hell do not exist, there is only the darkness of Purgatory, and in that darkness, souls are stripped of their humanity and become wrathful specters. Your grandparents, your mother and father, your siblings, your friends, and even you yourself are eventually transformed into the wretched dead. The dead do not feel joy, they do not feel love, they do not feel hope. They are embodiments only of hunger and hatred, those feelings directed towards that which they are no longer: life. I could end your life right now, and in seconds, your soul, the very essence that made you who you are, would be trapped in a realm of eternal night, being twisted by madness and horror into an entity even less than a demon in all but maliciousness. You would be but a drop in an ocean of insanity, an eternal sea that expands beyond the parameters of human understanding.

One hundred years ago, an incident occurred, in which that sea leaked into our world. An arcane ritual was performed, several failed necromancers trying to resurrect one of the dead. Through a doorway they opened, that sea, that liquid horror, poured into their bodies and turned them into the undead. Chaos incarnate, a formless mix of the gluttonous rage of all the dead, it robbed them of their sanity and even basic thought and turned them into walking abominations. From there, they spread the disease, infecting others with that evil ichor.”

“How the fuck could you possibly know that?”

“I have my sources. Years ago, I learned of a cult that existed here in Maine. They believed that protection would come through appeasing the dead and that the only way to save themselves was to give the infected a proper burial. They hunted down the undead, dismembering them and transporting them back to a site they believed was sacred. In a mass grave, hundreds and perhaps even thousands of zombies were buried, their severed limbs still twitching, their teeth still gnashing. That is my destination.”

“What for?”

“You’ll see. Oh, would you look at that?”

The woman looked ahead. They passed by a burned-down house, one wall still remaining. A body was nailed to that wall, crucified. From the level of decay, the man or woman had been hanging there for years. Sightings like the corpse became more and more frequent the longer they drove. Cars, either burned or abandoned, were left on the sides of the road, many still caked with blood. Their sides were plastered with graffiti, either nihilistic or religious in nature, telling those who passed that they had to save themselves, or that it was already too late. Crosses and other religious symbols were plastered everywhere, many adorned with skulls and various body parts. When the dead started to rise, people realized there was no such thing as a merciful God.

There were traces of battles from the last hundred years, houses with their paint scraped off by the peeling fingernails of the dead, riddled with bullets, and marked with the emblem of whatever warlord ruled the territory at the time. Remnants of barricades were on every road, built to stop, and likewise destroyed, by both the living and the dead.

Then something changed. Traces of the fight against the undead could be seen, but no signs of the human conflicts afterward. No one had tried to stake claim over the area, no warlords or outlaws expanding their territory, even after the zombies died out. The land had simply been abandoned. Summer was just ending, but not a single leaf could be seen on any of the trees. They stood gaunt and lifeless, bare fingers reaching up to the stars. From above, one would see only a vast circle of gray and brown, like a cigarette burn on the flesh of Mother Nature.

Once the truck passed that perimeter, something stirred in the woman, piercing and cold. It was a fear that human words couldn’t properly describe, the sharpest fear she had ever felt, an icy razor slowly severing the muscle threads of her heart. Until now, she had been utterly terrified of the man next to her, afraid of what he would do to her, but she now felt safer in that truck with him than tossed out into this dead zone. Her most primeval instincts were telling her that she was in a danger like no other.

She looked to the man, her captor, and yet somehow the closest thing she had to a Guardian. She hoped to see that fear in him, to prove that she was not alone in feeling this oppression, but also hoped she wouldn’t, that he would be completely calm, showing that he still remained the thing that she should be most afraid of. She shuddered at the sight, a bloodthirsty grin on his face, eyes gleaming with ambition. He did feel what she felt, but he did not register it as fear.

Finally, the man pulled onto a dirt road. After a hundred years, it should have been overgrown, but nothing lived here. Life itself had left this place behind. He drove through the woods, coming out the other side into a clearing a mile in diameter. The women felt her sweat freeze, her lungs shriveling up. The land was cloaked in fog, but the moon above shone unhindered, and its light revealed a circular hill with a structure at the top. It was a ring of stone pillars, each one the size of a car, with huge arches, forming a perfect Stonehenge.

“This is the mass grave I spoke of. That hill is manmade, a thin layer of soil covering a mountain of corpses. Those pillars are the grave marker.” The woman wasn’t listening. She had her face pressed to the window, eyes trembling. She could see movement in the fog, invisible forms darting in and out of the darkness, leaving the vapor curling in their wake. “They are made of the spirits of the dead,” said the man. The woman looked at him. “But do not mistake that for a sign of humanity. I told you before, death strips souls of all that makes them human and twists them with darkness, leaving them as only malicious wraiths that feed on life itself.

What possessed all those people one hundred years ago, it was the collective will of the Sea of the Dead, a chaotic nebula of horror and madness without a single solid thought, save for the desire to eclipse life. What you are looking at are the resulting forms of that collection, demons made of the blended existences of the dead and formed within their human hosts. They are drawn to us because they sense our living bodies, our fresh souls.

Because so many of their vessels have gathered together and come undone, they are able to partially manifest themselves. I imagine they’ve killed everyone and everything within five miles of this grave.”

The man then opened the door beside him, showing no fear in forsaking the small security of the truck. He grabbed a large duffle bag from the back and slung it over this shoulder, then went around to the other side and dragged out the woman. She kicked and screamed, fear running through her veins like ice water. The figures in the mist were beginning to close in, their meal in sight. His lips curling into a smile, the man raised the silver coin, flashing them with the mirror side. Inhuman screeches were heard and the figures vanished, receding into the fog.

“Silver, their greatest weakness. As a universal conductor, it disrupts their flow of energy and causes them to lose shape, but that is just the start. Silver mirrors are capable of becoming doorways to the other side, their power depending on their age. For a mirror like this, any demon so much as caught in its reflection will be immediately cast back into the void from whence they came.”

He solidified his hold on the woman and dragged her towards the monument. She could see them still in the mist, shapeless, colorless, invisible specters watching from the shadows. With that coin in the man’s hand, they dared not come close. The man and woman passed under one of the archways of the monument, where a stone table had been placed in the center as an altar for sacrifice. Shackles and chains were secured in the four corners, binds for whatever poor soul was offered to appease the dead. They had rusted in the decades since the monument’s construction, but remained strong.

The man threw her onto the altar and drew a knife. It was coated with a layer of silver. First, he locked her ankles in the shackles at one end, then severed the duct tape binding her wrists so that she could secure them in the chains at the other. “Did you know that when the Bubonic Plague was ravaging Europe, people would have orgies in cemeteries? They did it to spit in the face of death. How better for me to get these beasts riled up?”

He then cut away her clothes, the knife slashing both fabric and flesh. The woman screamed in pain from the lacerations, thrashing and pulling at the chains that locked her to the cold stone. As her blood streamed freely, a noticeable tremor moved through the fog surrounding the altar. Every demon that had been slumbering was now awake, stirred by the scent of blood and spirit. They converged on the monument, but the man flashed the coin, scaring them back. They formed a perimeter behind the pillars, staring at the humans and waiting for the chance to strike. The woman lay on the altar, the moonlight shining on her naked body, her hot blood catching its radiance. She cried, the only thing she could do was cry, and wait for the sound of a zipper being lowered.

“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you feel pleasure. After all, death is the climax of life.”

He then lowered his head and kissed her, first a gentle peck, his lips merely brushing against hers, then joining for a longer bond. She tried to resist him, but he grabbed her chin and forced her to remain still, to receive his cruel affection. His tongue infiltrated her mouth, probing every corner like a serpent following the scent of its wounded prey. While one might think his attention was focused on her, his arm darted in all directions, pointing the coin at any approaching demons like it was a loaded gun. The mirror repeatedly reflected the moonlight, and that flash, no matter how small, bisected any dark wraith that it shined upon. Despite their fury and hunger, no demon dared enter the monument while he had that coin.

The woman soon gave in, letting the man have his way with her. No longer needing to hold her head still, he was able to send his free hand south and cup a warm breast. Had the night gone as she had originally expected, the two of them writhing in the twisted sheets of a motel bed, she would have welcomed the touch. His undulating grip, kneading her supple flesh, would have made her gasp, and his fingertips, coaxing her nipples to full erection and pulling them towards the sky, would have made her whimper from the blissful sting. Now, all they did was fill her with revulsion. This act of foreplay, was he doing it for his own amusement, to rile up the ghostly spectators, or simply to humiliate her with deceitful kindness? She knew she was helpless against him, he knew that she knew it, she knew that he knew that she knew it, and any pleasure he gave her was just a reminder of the power he held over her.

His hand moved farther south, slipping between her thighs. She again tried to fight him off, pulling at the chains and closing her legs, but she could still feel his fingers brush against her womanhood. They slid down, stroking the plump lips of the outer labia, then rose back up, tickling the exposed inner petals. His lips left hers and instead found her breasts. He pulled on her nipples with his lips and cleaned the blood off her flesh with his tongue. The cuts from his knife, his tongue stayed near them like a lion at a waterhole. She could hear them rumbling, the undead, growling and snarling in rage and envy as he gluttonously licked up her blood.

Against her will, a small moan escaped her lips. The man’s efforts were beginning to wear down her defenses. Between his fingertips, he was rubbing the very edge of one of her labia minora, and the kiss of both his lips and the brisk night air on her naked body was sending bolts of electricity up her spine. Her clitoris had become firm and now fallen prey to the strokes of his thumb. His fingers at last penetrated her, and try as she might, she could not contain her voice. It was little more than a soft squeak, but to her, it sounded louder than the trumpets of Armageddon. His fingers stirred inside her with dexterity she didn’t know was possible, like the tendrils of a lecherous demon.

Fresh tears fell from her eyes from the pain and disgust of this man inside her, violating both her flesh and her soul. The worst part was not the agony, but the lack of it. Her body was reacting to his touch, his fingers slick with her building arousal. Her mind knew and feared what would come next, but her body was beginning to crave it, these simple touches just appetizers to inflame her sexual hunger.

Finally, he pulled his fingers free and licked them clean. “My original plan didn’t include a victim, and I need to keep this coin raised to hold them back, but I suppose it would be rude of me to ravish you with the handicap of one of my hands occupied.”

She looked through her tears, seeing him retrieve the silver knife, but rather than bringing it towards her, he raised it to his own face. She began to scream, praying that this was just a bad dream, for the sight before her was cutting through her soul the way the knife had cut through her flesh. Without losing his smile, he dug the tip of the blade under his right eyeball. It was an effortless movement, the man prying his eye right of its socket and severing the nerve. She could see him shivering, his body surely reacting to the wound he had just inflicted, but his soft laughter told her that any pain he felt was nothing short of euphoric. He cast the eyeball aside, and in its place, he wedged the coin into the socket, the mirror side facing out. He looked down on her and she could see her own tear-streaked face reflected in the glass.

“There, now my hands are free and I can keep one eye on you and one eye on them—a figure of speech, of course.”

“You’re insane,” she hissed.

“On the contrary. Those who live in fear, those who break in the face of pain, they are the insane, as their minds are too weak to understand true control, true willpower. The gods bow to the power of fate, but fate bends to the will of man, and by my will, all of creation will be eclipsed. Besides, the loss of an eye is nothing compared to what I will soon gain.”

He then removed his clothes, and seeing him in the nude, the woman gasped. He was even more muscular than she first thought, chiseled, even, but from head to toe, he was covered in scars, burns, and permanent bruises. He climbed onto the altar, kneeling between her spread legs. The moonlight shined on his back, while she was kept in his shadow. He brushed his thumb along one of her cuts and then across her lips, reddening them with her blood like lipstick.

“Tell me, do you feel alive? Do you feel the power of your soul surging through you, the warmth of your blood permeating every cell? Do you feel the hardness of the stone, the bite of the rusty chains, the chill of the night air lapping at your skin? Savor those sensations, the bliss and the pain, for they are more precious than you realize.”

He then forced himself inside her, offering her no warning or mercy. She cried out from the brutal penetration, feeling like his manhood was poisoning her. The sanctum of her body had been violated, her will and freedom ripped away. Hours ago, she had hoped, desired, to feel his cock subjugate her, for him to take her as he would, but that was back when she just thought he was an interesting man. Now she couldn’t tell who the true monster was; the undead abominations circling around them, or the man with a soul blacker than she ever thought possible.

Once the man entered her, the demons around them gave shrieks that chilled her blood and gripped her heart, shrieks not meant for mortal ears. The arrogance of this human, it enraged them beyond measure, to fornicate before the incarnations of death and upon the bones of their broken vessels. They wished to strike, to extinguish the spark of life within him and teach him the meaning of despair, but a single glance into the mirror of that coin would mean banishment to Purgatory.

The man wasted no time in initiating a rhythm, thrusting into her with machine-like movements. She tried to stay silent, to maintain what little pride she had, but his impacts were stronger than she had anticipated. The force alone was crushing her, every thrust like the strike of a battering ram, and the speed left her no room to recuperate, but more than that, it was the precision in which he attacked her. His strikes were precise, hitting all the walls in perfect order like he was jabbing pressure points.

The man leaned down to steal a kiss, and this time the woman didn’t bother trying to resist him, even when his tongue again violated her. If anything, she hoped to trap him there, to bite his tongue off and let him bleed to death. It was agony, not just the humiliation, but the sight of her face reflected in the mirror. The face she was making, the way she blushed, was that really what she looked like? They could both see it, what he was doing to her. Her will was beginning to crumble, her body giving in and reacting to the physical sensations. She wasn’t sure how long she could resist him if he kept this up. Any more stimulation would break her.

It seemed that the man knew this. He sat up, not even pausing his strokes while he looked in all directions, forcing back the demons with the coin in his eye socket. His head then lowered once again as his lips returned to her breasts, striking her from two fronts. Like before, he focused on her cuts, licking away the blood like it was maple syrup. The feel of his mouth on her areolas, his tongue bullying her nipples, it was the last stimulus needed for her body to fully submit to him. She moaned at the top of her lungs as she climaxed, with tears streaming down her face from the shame.

“I promised I would give you pleasure, didn’t I? I only suppose it’s fair that you do the same.”

He got off her and unfastened the shackles on her ankles, then spun her around and flipped her over, leaving her bent over the altar with her wrists still bound and crossed in front of her. The feel of the cold stone against her nipples made her whimper. He mounted her like an animal, slamming against her cervix with a single stroke. She cried out, no longer able to contain her voice. He grabbed her by the hips and began brutalizing her with strength she had never experienced before. Every impact of his lap against her rear sent ripples moving through her flesh. Her body, now violated, looked so pale and weak, lacking the sexual energy it radiated before and becoming nothing more than a piece of meat for him to use as he saw fit. Was he trying to hurt her? Did he simply enjoy inflicting pain on her?

He raped her in various positions, having her stand up against the altar and let the moonlight shine on her exposed breasts, bend over and raise her leg so he could get better access, or pull her back so she would be bent over all the way, arms stretched out and clinging to the edge of the altar for balance. She would watch as her breasts swung like chandeliers from his thrusts, almost eagerly absorbing the force. One thing that was constant was the abuse. If he could afford it, if he could maintain his rhythm after partially giving up his hold on her, he’d release one hand and use it to smack her. The skin on her rear turned red from his cruel slaps, and she wanted to scream when he whipped her breasts, striking them as if they had somehow enraged him.

She didn’t know how long it continued, she simply closed her eyes and tried to block it out. Eventually, he came to a stop and she shuddered from the feeling of his hot semen being dumped in her body like toxic waste. He pulled out of her and she crumbled, leaning against the altar in the fetal position with his seed dripping out of her pussy. She might have climaxed a second time when he took her from behind. She couldn’t be sure, as her mind simply shut down at the time, but the humiliation was still overwhelming.

The man returned to his clothes and put them on, then took a deep breath and an insidious grin crossed his face. He covered up the coin in his eye socket with his hand, and in his other hand, drew his silver knife. He strode over to the woman and put it to her neck.

“Now for the real reason why I came here. I call upon the legions of the dead! Hear my voice! Take this girl’s life and answer my challenge!”

She gave one desperate plea for mercy before he slit her throat. A howling gale whipped around the altar, the army of darkness merging with the fog and forming a twisting pillar of unholy light with the man and woman in the center like it was the eye of a tornado. With her hands still bound, the woman could do nothing to stop the bleeding of her throat. Her terror was all that was keeping her conscious. Instead of falling to the ground, the blood was being pulled into the air, but this was not due to the movement of the air.

They were feeding on her, her blood acting as the medium through which they ripped the soul from her body. She gave a garbled shriek as her flesh began to deteriorate, every drop of blood pulled from her veins, taking her vitality with it. Her blonde hair turned to wire, her smooth skin wrinkled and grayed, and her muscles and organs shriveled up and dissolved. At last, her flesh was peeled away and her skeleton crumbled to ash. Her soul had been consumed and joined the ranks of the undead now swarming around the man.

They tried to close in, but he revealed the coin, keeping them at bay. They were raging like piranhas, their appetite burning after feeding on the sacrificed woman. They wanted him, they wanted him so badly that words could not describe their bloodlust.

“Join us!” they howled, their voices utterly inhuman.

The man began to laugh and pulled the coin out of his eye socket, instead holding it in his closed fist. “I have a better idea. How about you all join me?”

A tremor rippled through the spectral tempest, brought forth by confusion. Since the dead enveloped the earth, countless pathetic whelps had begged to be spared, endless cults and sects had formed in worship of the spirits in order to escape the horror they wrought, but those were all done out of fear. There was no fear in this man.

“Serve without question! Obey without resistance! Give me your powers and become my slaves!”

The twisting storm collapsed in on itself, the enraged ghouls swarming in, getting as close as possible with the silver just barely keeping them at bay. Despite the enraged and anguished faces and reaching hands surging around him, the man maintained his grin.

“You will suffer for your arrogance! We are slaves to no one!”

“Then I challenge you over the right to rule. If I am still in control of myself when the sun rises in one hour, then everything you are belongs to me. All of your power and knowledge will become mine. You will be my slaves until the end of time! But if my willpower breaks, then I will become your living subordinate. My body and soul will be your tools for you to do whatever you wish, such as bring you more sacrifices or unleash you again upon humanity. However, should I die or lose consciousness due to an injury you inflict and are unable to continue, the game ends without a victor. Do we have a deal?” There was no response. The sea of the dead continued to churn around him. “I’ll even give you a handicap. I won’t use the coin.”

Whether the idea of a handicap had enticed or enraged them, they gave in. On the altar, carved into the stone, were listed the rules of the challenge and the name of every demon participating. The man smeared some blood from his cheek and wiped it onto the stone in place of a signature. He then held the coin above his head and threw it aside.

“Then let the game begin!”

Immediately, the legions of dead closed in on him from all sides, slamming into his body like a tsunami. They were attacking all of his pain receptors like an electric shock, doing everything they could to torture him, to wear down his mental defenses with physical anguish. Normally, they would rip him to shreds, but his living body was a precious commodity and they couldn’t allow it to be damaged more than necessary. However, the man didn’t lose his smile, despite their efforts.

He could feel them, their power wiggling through his flesh like carnivorous worms, their voices whispering and shrieking in the back of his mind. They worked to infiltrate his consciousness, to infect his thoughts and memories with their own will, but despite their power, they could not get in. There were no cracks in his mind to slip through, nothing on the surface for them to use. Without any weaknesses to exploit, they couldn’t even get a foothold in his consciousness, let alone try to possess him. All they could do is read his thoughts and feelings, but he felt no fear. There was no hesitation in any of his thoughts.

Even with his body being tortured and his mind under assault, the man began to laugh. “Is this it? Is this all the might you can conjure? I’ve trained my whole life for this, don’t disappoint me! If you can’t win with your spectral forms, then fight me with your own flesh and blood! I give you permission to enter this world at full power, to raise your armies once more!”

They immediately scattered, the fog vacating the monument and sinking into the hill. He could feel it, movement beneath the earth. They were… collecting themselves. Fifty feet away, a skeletal fist burst from the soil with black tissue beginning to grow from between the joints like bubbling tar. The ghoul clawed its way free of the soil with its body generating flesh that was both alive and dead, a sort of unholy quasi-life. When the Sea of the Dead spilled into the world, the humans were infected with a liquefied mixture of different souls and energies without any real consciousness, but like molten metal cooling in a mold and solidifying, that raw power had taken shape and gained sentience, becoming demons. These demons, granted permission by the man to fully manifest themselves, could now reform their host bodies and act with their full power.

The entire hill was beginning to shake, the undead clawing their way up to the surface. Their forms were no longer human, their physical bodies changing to reflect their true appearance. Claws, tails, horns, wings, tentacles, the demons cried out to the moon as they were reborn. The man watched them from atop the altar, seeing the hill turn into a shifting mass of black forms, each one hungry for his soul. In his hand, he held his duffle bag, and from it, he drew a six-cylinder grenade launcher.

“Do try to put up a decent fight.”

He pointed it through one of the archways of the monument and fired, sending the first shell flying into the heart of the mass. It detonated upon impact with a demon with the head of a bull, but instead of simple fire and shrapnel, the bomb released a cloud of powdered silver. Shrieks of agony cut through the night as the silver burned the unholy beasts like white phosphorus. This much silver wasn’t nearly enough to actually destroy the demons, but it could disturb the flow of their power and cause their host bodies to deteriorate without the possibility of regeneration or even maintaining control. They were like robots hit with an electrical charge.

He kept firing, lobbing bombs into the crowds surrounding the monument. Each explosion wounded several demons, even crippling a few. After the six shells were fired, he reloaded and resumed fighting. A new shriek drew his attention, as from above, a winged demon swooped in to attack. He jumped off the altar to avoid its claws and discarded his empty grenade launcher. He drew an assault rifle from his duffle bag and opened fire on the demon. Silver bullets ripped through its flesh, causing it to shriek in pain and fall out of the sky. By now, the horde of demons had just about reached the monument. He fired at them with everything he had, aiming at whatever beast seemed the closest. As soon as he had used up all of his magazines, he tossed the weapon aside and pulled out a drum-fed shotgun. Several more demons attacked from the sky, but he easily downed them with a few rounds of silver buckshot.

The first demon had reached one of the archways. It had a human shape but was garbed in a black cloak that looked to be made of pure shadow. In place of hands, it had crooked lengths of bone growing from its wrists like bundles of wood. The man put a round into its chest and it fell back with smoke wafting from its flesh. Behind him, the second demon crossed the threshold. This one had a humanoid appearance, but with a mat of quills growing from its chin and three horns sticking out of its forehead. It lunged for him with clawed fingers, but he blasted its head off and then shot it in the kneecap for good measure.

He fired off every round he had and then threw the shotgun away. They were closing in from all sides, the horde passing under the archway. The man drew his last two weapons, a sword from the undead war, now coated in silver, and a pistol with extended magazines. He turned his gaze to an oncoming demon, humanoid but with all of its joints bending in the opposite way. He severed one of its arms with a swing of his sword while putting five rounds in its chest and head. Three closed in on him and he slashed them all across the chest while shooting back over his shoulder. He moved around the altar, slashing and shooting at any demon that got close, but every second, his circle of open space got smaller.

As he fired his last bullet, a demon with a bladed tail managed to whip him across the back and draw blood. He didn’t seem to mind the pain, but it threw him off balance. He fell to his knees and dropped his empty pistol, then drew his silver knife and hurled it at the demon, planting the blade deep in his enemy’s chest. Now with only his sword in hand, he resumed fighting the demons, hacking and slashing them with all of his strength. Limbs and heads fell and the specters howled in frustration as the strings of their puppets were severed, but inevitably, a black hand grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back. There was no more room to fight, hands were closing in all around him, but still the man smiled, and when they threw him onto the altar and pinned him down, he laughed.

The demons thrust their talons into his flesh and injected him with the zombie virus, carrying their collected will. Now they could extend their influence physically for a more potent attack. The man could feel their venom running through his veins, turning his cells into undead tissue. It flowed into his brain, and at last, the demons managed to break into his consciousness, but still, the man laughed.

“Congratulations, you managed to get in, but now the real fight starts.”

They searched his memories, looking for something from his past to exploit, some fear to use against him. Even if they infiltrated this mind, they couldn’t take control as long as his will remained intact. In his memories, they found only disdain for all those around him, even from a young age. There was no love for anyone, not for family members or for friends, indifference given to all but those who had something to offer. They could not find any bad memories, no childhood traumas or the birth of any fears. Wait, something happened when he was a child, something that intrigued them. They sensed… darkness.

“Ah, I suppose it’s my turn again.”

A pulse of willpower erupted from the depths of his soul, thrusting the demons back to the edges of his mind. His willpower, they still could not find a way around it. He lay still on the altar, simply staring up at the sky with a smirk on his face, showing no fear of the unholy spawn around him. He was afraid of nothing, his confidence was resolute, forming an impenetrable wall. They forced their way back in, now desperate. Time was running out, the sky beginning to lighten. They once again searched his memories. That one memory that he had barred them from, they tried to read it, but to no avail. They looked ahead, trying to understand.

In the years since the “accident”, they saw the man preparing his body and soul, torturing himself in the most horrific ways. The scars on his body were remnants of his training to twist pain into pleasure, so that injuries would only make him stronger. He had prepared himself for this day, spent his whole life training to face these demons. Ambition, that was the force repelling them. A hunger that surpassed their own, a hunger that not even the world could satisfy, it was the essence of his being.

“I suppose I should clarify something. I didn’t come here with any belief that I might possibly lose. That simply was not an option. For pathetic beasts like you to defeat me is simply impossible. Did you really think I would hand over my body, my soul, to you? No, you misunderstand. Every single part of me, every single thought and cell, they belong to me and me alone.”

The tips of his fingers, having become black with undeath, were regaining their original color. The demons searching his mind were losing their grip on him and being forced out.

“My will is my existence; my resolve is law. I am either myself or I am nonexistent, there is no scenario in which I will compromise, which I give even an inch. I have no weaknesses, I have no fears. You are the incarnations of your hunger and hatred, but I am in the incarnation of my ambition, and my ambitions can never be overpowered!” His whole body was returning to normal, the demons’ venom being forcefully expelled as he retook control. “You are all nothing more than a means to an end, and I will use you however I see fit to reach my goals, no matter what lines I must cross to do so.”

A flash shined from the horizon, the sun breaking through the darkness. The demons shrieked as they saw it, felt its light on their bodies. “You should have killed me when you had the chance, because now, you are all mine!”

The carvings in the altar, the contract of their agreement, began to glow. A crimson light enveloped the man and the demons jumped back, experiencing true terror for the first time. They turned around and tried to flee, either on foot or taking to the air, many even abandoning their physical bodies and trying to escape in their spectral form.

“I’m not going to let you weasel out of our agreement. A demon must obey its contract.”

The man snapped his fingers and threads of light reached out from his body in all directions. They shot out like striking snakes, seizing the fleeing demons and dragging them back. The unholy beasts howled and tried to resist, but their power was no longer theirs to use. The demon that was closest to him swung its claws at his neck, trying to kill him before it could be assimilated, but the hand that touched the man simply vanished like a mirage.

“Like I said, now, you’re all mine.”

The demon gave one final shriek before it was pulled against the man, disappearing into his body. One by one, the rest of the legion were likewise absorbed. At last, the hill became silent. The man stood alone, watching the sunrise. His vision sharpened, as in its empty socket, a new eyeball spontaneously formed. Likewise, all of the man’s injuries were healing as he felt power rush through him. This sensation, it was like he had gained a million new muscles both inside and outside his body. In the back of his mind, he could hear the army of the undead crying out in anguish from their imprisonment, but with just a thought, he silenced them.

“Now, now, there’s no need to get fussy. I’ll put your powers to good use.”

Deep in the confines of his mind, a demonic voice begrudgingly asked, ‘what do we call you… Master?’

The man walked over to his discarded silver coin and picked it up. “From this point forward, my name… is Dominion, for in time, all of creation will belong to me!”