Author: James Patten
If there’s one thing Paragon City has a lot of, it’s crime. If there’re two things that Paragon City has a lot of, it’s heroes. If there’re three things, it’s warehouses. Many of these huge complexes once held prosperous industries and businesses, but now sit desolate and empty like the corpse of some huge creature of metal and glass. More often than not, these run down buildings are magnets for criminal activity, the dark, secluded recesses serve as perfect places to run drug operators, or to hide stolen goods. Tonight, however, a different sort of meeting is taking place.
Three figures stand around a crate in one of the run-down sections of the King Garment Works. The gang markings show them to be members of the Hellions, tattooed with erratic, demonic symbols. One of them is working at the crate with a crow-bar: a young blood brother named Kenny. Beside him with a flashlight and a shotgun slung over his back is Jack, a Fallen. Watching both of them is a man wearing a fearsome mask which identifies him as a Damned is Burn Wrath: a name he chose for himself.
“Hurry it up, Kenny, we don’t have all night,” says Jack, nervously glancing around the dimly lit room.
“I’m working as fast as I can,” says Kenny, prying up another corner of the box, “whoever nailed this shut sure did a good job of it. What’s in here anyways?”
“Something that will turn the tide of our war with the Skulls,” replies Burn Wrath, pulling a small, evil looking book from a bag, “Couple months ago, the Circle of Thorns broke into the MAGI vaults and made off with some relics. Of course a bunch of masks came right after them to get it all back, but they never ended up finding all the items. The masks assumed the Circle made off with the missing item, and the Thorns assumed the heroes had recovered them all.”
“And all this time it was sitting right here,” Jack says, helping Kenny lift off the heavy lid of the crate before leaning over and looking in.
Inside the box is a strange artifact. Burn Wrath reaches into the crate and pulls it out, holding it up to the light so as to get a better look. It appears to be an hourglass, but it is like none the Hellions have seen before. The outside of the hourglass is jet black, the columns done in elaborate double helixes. The material might pass as obsidian; however, it feels much too solid to be so. The glass is so clear that it is barely visible, just slightly reflecting the glare of the flashlight. Inside, the sand is a brilliant blood red, and sparkles slightly.
“Never seen sand like that before, crushed ruby maybe?” Jack suggests after observing it for some time. “So what’s this thing do besides look nice?”
Burn Wrath sets the hourglass down on a nearby table and once again begins to read from his book.
“Well, according to what I’ve dug up, this thing’s called the ‘Hourglass of Eternity.” Basically once every 12 years, at sundown you flip the hourglass over and it summons something called ‘The Eternal Fist.’ Supposedly this Fist is some kind of unstoppable warrior who has to obey whatever order you give it until the sand in the hourglass runs out at sunrise.”
“Only one night? I don’t care how deadly this Fist is man, there’s no way it can wipe out all the Skulls in twelve hours. Hell, the heroes have been trying for ages now,” says Jack, clearly unimpressed.
“You think that didn’t occur to me? Trust me, I got it all worked out.”
Burn Wrath puts his book away and takes out a small, evil looking knife. He holds the knife up to his hand and makes a small puncture on his finger, which begins to drip blood. On the top surface of the hourglass he draws an arcane symbol in his blood, a kind of circle which appears to loop back on itself. When the symbol is complete, he holds his hand above the surface and speaks a single demonic word. Instantly, his hand ignites in flame, and the blood on the surface begins to bubble slightly. As Kenny and Jack watch in awe, the blood appears to soak into the hourglass, dripping down inside the glass and into the ruby sands below. When the blood hits the sands, they burst into a pale light, glowing brightly red, before receding to a faint crimson aura.
“What in the hell was that?” exclaims Kenny, who has never seen any of the rituals of the Damned before.
“That was our key to victory. I worked a little Hellion magic into the hourglass, now whenever this Fist slays an opponent; it resets the sands in the hourglass. He’ll never expire until every skull is dead!” responds Burn Wrath, indulging himself in a wicked laugh. He picks up the hourglass once more, and holds it out in his outstretched arm. He shouts as he overturns the hourglass, “I summon The Eternal Fist!”
For a moment, the hourglass is as still as the warehouse around it. Soon though, the crimson sands begin to trickle down through the hourglass, and Burn Wrath lets go of the artifact, and it hovers in the air seemingly of its own will. The hourglass begins to turn, spinning faster and faster in the air. Shadows begin to flow from the corners of the warehouse, wrapping around the hourglass in a seething mass. A bright line of red reaches out from the mass, and begins to draw patterns in the air. The symbols and lines drawn slowly begin to outline the figure of a man, with the mass of shadows filling in the shape of a torso, legs, arms, and finally a head, peaked by a pair of large horns. As the line completes its movement, a bright plume of red hair springs from the top of its head, and a pair of blood red eyes open. The summoning is complete.
“Master, what is your order?” asks the creature in a strange, ethereal voice.
“You are to kill the Skulls. They’re a gang in this city, with white skulls painted on their faces,” responds Burn Wrath.
“How many must I kill?”
“All of them! Do not rest until every last Skull is dead!”
A moment passes as the creature is still and silence. A brief flash of doubt passes over Kenny and Jack’s faces. The silence does not last long however.
“As you command.” The Eternal Fist says in his same, eerie voice. He crouches low, and then in an instant he is gone, a shadowy blur leaping out one of the warehouse’s long broken windows.
Burn Wrath looks up out the window, and chuckles to himself.
“Tonight… there will be blood.”