Chapter X: MephistophelesMature

Alexander arrived in the fallen city of Rome, the center of the mighty fallen empire, now a slum for the deprived and the hopeless. It hadn't even been ten years since it's fall, and already the remnants of the glorious civilization were beginning to die and corrode.

Alex knew that within the walls of this godforsaken city was the key to immortality... that which he had been searching for since the beginning... the Holy Grail.

Alexander easily made his way into the city, for no one now had the strength to defend their city. Alex shook his head. If they had only done what they promised they would do, this never would have happened. Instead, they made their allies into their enemies, and were laid to siege as a result. Now only the desperate come here, searching for a place to hide...

Alex continued his musings when he came to a temple. It was a magnificent structure, standing tall and proud despite the decay that surrounded it, as if defying the forces of entropy that consumed the citizens of the broken imperial capitol. Alex then knew, without a doubt, that this temple was his destination.

He dismounted his horse and walked slowly up the steps, noting a darkness resting within the walls of the holy site. Something wasn't right... it seemed like, despite its outward appearance, that the temple had also become a victim to the fall of the city, and now housed a horde of unimaginable nightmares.

But he could not delay. He mustn't... for this was what he came for. He must go in and find the Grail... or else all he had done would have been for naught.

He entered the temple, and he heard a soft chuckle emanate from deeper within the once sacred ground. He drew his silver blade, Rapture, and ventured forth, mentally steeling himself against anything he may come across.

When he was halfway across the room, a flash of steel caught his eyes and he barely had time to block the strike. The blow came to stop just inches in front of his face, and would have severed his skull if he hadn't blocked it. The attacker, completely covered from head to toe in black robes, let out a small laugh. "He he he... so you've arrived at last, Alexander the Black Knight. I've grown tired of waiting for you."

Alex's eyes widened when he heard his name spoken aloud by the robed stranger, and shouted. "Who are you, and how do you know my name?"

The attacker drew a second blade from out of nowhere... no, the blade flew right out of his sleeve, and attempted to behead Alex, but he ducked and the assailant's strike went through the empty air, and backed off a few feet. "I have come to finish what I started. The contract needs to be fulfilled... I've come to reclaim my eye, Alexander... the very eye that gave you life when you were so close to death after your birth."

Alex touched his left eye, which had begun to bleed again like it had back in Camelot. So this was the man who had appeared to him in his dreams... and he was waiting for him? Alex realized then and there that he had walked right into a trap.

Alex readied his sword and spoke, anger in his voice. "That doesn't answer my questions. All I know is why you are here... and also how you know my name... but I do not of you."

The stranger chuckled, and a third blade appeared to shoot out of his sleeve. Alex dodged it barely, and it cut his cheek, warm blood trickling down his face. "I am the demon Mephistopheles. I have come to claim your soul, as the contract your father had made with me has deemed. I am not surprised that you know nothing of this contract, for your father probably didn't want you to worry away your life... not that it matters in the end. The result is still the same."

Alex, now downright furious, attacked, striking the demon with his silver blade, right across the legs... but the demon did not scream... nor seem at all concerned. He only laughed and stabbed Alex through with yet another blade... where were they all coming from? The demon was merely toying with him, and thus pierced him through but avoided his vitals. When he withdrew the blade, Alex saw something interesting: the blades weren't blades at all... they were the demon's clawed fingers!

Alex, armed with this new knowledge, realized that the demon had ten blades, each one at the tips of its fingers. That being the case, he simply had to watch the demon's arm movements. Alex readied his sword once more, and charged, this time aiming for the chest.

Mephistopheles, realizing what Alex had in mind, tried its best to dodge the strike, but to no avail. The strike hit home, and Mephistopheles let out an unearthly wail of pain and surprise. Alex quickly twisted the blade further into the demon's chest, and saw something disturbing...

The demon had no legs.

It was floating off the ground... the body ending right where the waist should be... but instead of a waist, he saw a tail. Alex then looked Mephistopheles straight in the face, right into its pale golden slits, and asked: "What in the name of God are you?"

Mephistopheles retreated, tearing its own body in the process, and cutting the robe off of him... and the sight nearly made Alex vomit. His body was akin to an earwigs, with two long, thin arms ending in sharp clawed talons that extended and retracted to its will. The only semblance to humanity it possessed was its head, which was human save for the golden slits it had for eyes and the hair like black hellfire. It scowled at Alex with a mouth filled with razor sharp teeth like those of a shark.

"This isn't the end... I will be back to claim your soul, mortal. Mark my words. You have not seen the last of Mephistopheles." And with that, the demon retreated into the darkness, leaving Alex by himself to ponder the demon's final threat.

Alex stared into the darkness for a little while, then turned and continued on his way, deeper into the sanctuary. He had come too far to turn back now...

The End

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