by Mark Figueroa
Her fingers brazenly smashed each key, until the silence receded into the corner of my mind. Darkness illuminated my soul as the scarlet path tore through the floor. Ash and sinew rode the explosive winds, enveloping the atmosphere.
She smiled at me. “He’s coming,” she said. Her frail fingers quivered under the flickering candle. The ashen maiden’s sinister silhouette leered at me from the wall; her eyes waxed shut, but her soul open to the despair seeping in from below.
In the center of the flaming portal, a rusted crown bobbed in line with the ground, until finally rising and presenting the dry, bony face of a forlorn man. His eyes were pits. “The flame,” he muttered. Spires erupted from the ground, encapsulating us in an ashen prison. “My son… My son,” he lamented. Black feathers lined his once regal garb. The Lord of Cinder drew his weapon while glancing at the sky. He launched himself at me. His glowing, rusted sword melting the air around it. The Lord of Cinder’s stone face displayed a solemn stoicism reserved only to those who have touched the first flame.
I strung my bow and shot for his head. He side-stepped, slicing my arrow in half in one fluid motion. I drew the well-crafted sword of a long-forgotten black knight and quickly prevented my decapitation. Cling! Clank! Clink! Our swords sparked with each strike.
The Lord of Cinder roared. A twisted flame danced around his blade like an infernal whip. “Chosen Undead,” he muttered. “All praise the age of flame, for it is the flame that has chosen to revive itself. The princes of Lothric were unfit for such a gift.” His eyes examined me. “The age of darkness shall never come to pass. Your victory shall not come to pass.”