Demise scowled as he looked over the barren landscape. He ran a scaled hand through his flaming hair, smoldering eyes sweeping over the pathetic scene. All was ash. He and his hunting party had heard about this former rebel encampment most recently, and they had had no problems eliminating it.
They had come all at once, the new king and his fearsome band, and the rebels hadn't been expecting them. Needless to say, the ambush was successful. They had swept through, torching houses and watching burned, bleeding, and dying demons scramble in vain to escape, sometimes helping them to the grave with a sword through their chest or a violent blast of magic. There had been next to no defense. Demise had really expected a stronger resistance since he had so brutally seized the throne, taking the position of Demon King through murder and malice.
Their previous ruler had been publicly executed just a week before, and the lower demons had had to adjust rather quickly to their new dictator. Admittedly, public beatings were new, and villages had been looted to build his magnificent ebony castle.
"But there are always changes during a shift in power," he assured himself. They'd just have to get used to his tyranny.
He and his hunting party had now split up to find and eliminate any survivors. He began to walk through the charred remains of buildings, careful not to step on the grotesque corpses that lay everywhere. Suddenly sensing a presence to his right, he moved closer.
He saw three figures among the ruins of a small house. Two lay dead, but the third was obviously very much alive. Its frame was that of a small child. Demise approached quietly, from behind. As he drew nearer, he heard the child's pleading voice, saw it shaking one of the corpses, a woman, and pulling on her hand gently.
"C'mon, mommy, we have to go! It's scary here, and daddy won't listen! Wake up please, I'm scared!"
Demise paused at this, stopping a few paces away to study the figures on the ground. The child's mother was quite pretty for a demon. Her soft brown hair laid under her, past her thin waist. Her crimson eyes stared blankly up at the sky. Brown and white bird's feathers hung from her pointed ears, and her lightly tanned skin was free of any markings except for a black cross under each eye. The other figure, presumably the father, was big and burly, though not as large as Demise himself. He had steel- gray skin and was lying on his stomach, his white hair sticky with black demon blood and his face turned to the side to reveal his lifeless eyes, ice blue in color. Thick white stripes ran from his neck down vertically, disappearing beneath his simple attire.
"They're an attractive family," Demise thought, "or at least, they were." The woman had most likely been killed by a blast of magic, while the unfortunate father had obviously taken a blow to the head. In two quick strides, he closed the gap between himself and the frightened demon child, who, unfortunately for it, still had not seen him. He picked it up by the back of its shirt.
Immediately tensing, it turned its head to see its captor. The little boy, for that's what it was, Demise could tell by its aura, began to struggle and kick, eyes wide with fright.
"Let go! Please? Please don't eat me! Let go or I'll tell my daddy on you!"
Demise smiled wickely, showing off a mouthful of sharp white fangs. Sorting out the child's rushed pleas, he answered them one by one "No, no, I'm sure you'd taste terrible, and I really don't think your 'daddy' is in any position to assist you, do you?" He gave the corpse at his feet an unceremonious kick. Glancing down, the boy whimpered slightly, ceasing his struggles for the moment.
Demise took time to examine his victim, holding him up so that their eyes were level. The boy's snow white hair fell over one of his chocolate-brown eyes, underlined with purple shadows. His lips were white as well. His skin was grey like his father's, but his figure was slightly femenine, nothing at all like his father's muscular build. His two pointed ears were unadorned, and he was clothed in a loose red shirt and pants, with a gold diamond over his right breast pocket. He looked down to avoid seeing the terrifying man in front of him.
Demise shook the child roughly, forcing him to make eye contact and said, "Do you understand, boy? Your parents are dead and they're never coming back. They won't wake up, and they can't save you."
At these words, the little orphan burst into tears, covering his face with his hands and starting to kick again, screaming, "No, no, no, no!"
"YES, child," bellowed Demise, "but don't worry..." His free hand came up to grip the boy's fragile neck "You'll be with them soon."
Choking the life out of the boy with both hands now, he laughed when the weakling's small hands clawed at his wrists, attempting to relieve the pressure on their owner's airway. Demise squeezed harder, feeling the small bones strain under his crushing grip. This was always his favorite part of the hunt, watching his victim's expression of horror slacken, seeing their eyes cloud over when death came. But then....
"Please-please stop! I'll....do....anything....PLEASE!"
The boy's pitiful pleas reached his ears, slicing through his merciless mask and piercing his hard heart. Suddenly, he didn't feel like strangling the life out of the child anymore. What was he feeling? Was it....guilt? Nah.
Sighing heavily, he loosened his hold slightly, allowing his small captive to take in air.
"You'll do anything?" he asked casually, not wanting the boy to think he was being soft. "Y-yes! Anything!" came the hopeful reply, "I promise! Please don't hurt me again!"
With a malicious smile, Demise lowered one hand and shifted the other so that he was holding the gasping child like a wineglass. He looked nonchalantly over at his free hand, pretending to inspect his ebony claws. The boy was still clinging to his wrist for dear life, so he wasn't hanging entirely by his neck.
"Well, if you're so willing to serve me, I suppose I don't have to kill you." Looking back, he saw relief flood the child's face. Those little eyes looked so hopeful it made his black heart ache. "Would you be willing to be my servant....my slave....my weapon?" he questioned, curious to see if the boy really meant 'anything'.
"Y-yes! Yes and I want down NOW!"
Demise obliged, lowering the child back down to the ground. His little hands immediately went to soothe his bruised flesh. Demise felt 'guilt' once again plague him put he paid it no heed. "You realize that you will have to come with me, correct? You can't come back here, and you r parents will have to stay, they can't come with us," he said, not sure if the toddler completely understood what he was getting himself into. His new servant looked back down at the unmoving figures of his mother and father, nodding silently. He seemed to understand now that there was no waking them up, that they were truly gone.
Demise reached down to pick the child up again, but a soft "wait" stopped him. The boy walked to his mother first, kissing her forehead, silent tears running down his face. He then crossed to where his father lay and wrapped his arms around his neck, hugging him as best he could.
He straightened back up, eyes still trained on the ground, and whispered, "Goodbye, mommy. Goodbye, daddy. I love you."
Demise was staggered by the level of raw emotion he felt emanating from this small, frail, utterly weak being. He pushed whatever weakness he felt down and reached over to scoop the boy up into his arms. Small arms wrapped around his neck and the child's tear-streaked face nuzzled his shoulder gently. Normally, he would reject such pitiful gestures, but he could see that the boy needed someone to hold onto, so he said nothing about it.
"What is your name?" he whispered, rubbing soothing circles on the boy's back. Demise barely heard the soft reply.
Demise pretended to think for a moment. "Ghirahim. Hmmm....that's an awfully long name for such a little boy isn't it? May I call you Ghira?"
He felt a small nod against his shoulder. "Let's introduce you to the others, shall we?" And with that, he hoisted 'Ghirahim' a little higher on his side and trudged off, wondering how in the Underworld he was going to explain this one.