This story was inspired by both the song below as well as the album’s artwork.
He surveyed his men.
Many of them stood a head or more taller than himself. But he was their leader.
It had been a hard-won leadership. The former King had been a massive man. This King, his father, stood, quite literally, ten feet tall. And he was pure warrior. He could wield a sword like none, and end most fights before his opponents could grasp that the battle was over.
His older brother had been almost nine feet tall, with much prowess and size, but little will. He was merely seven feet tall, not as skilled by any measure, yet his will was his mightiest weapon.
His brother had fallen to a lesser warrior with more ambition. His father to a heart attack. Or something similar. Though he’d been there, the answer still wasn’t quite crystal to him.
When he’d found himself the heir to the army that his father had built, he’d known right away what he would have to face. Challengers would come, at any hour, anywhere. And he’d determined that he would end them all. He would lead unchallenged, or he would die.
Those challengers arrived quickly and they arrived often. Had these skirmishes been won or lost solely by physical power, he would have died early. The army the King had raised up was mighty, indeed; not quite human. Hybrids, he’d been told. Part human, part something else. They were all larger than normal men, some standing eight feet in height. They were all strong like bulls.
He was not quite human, either. But he was more human than the men the King had trained. Smaller, not as fast, not as skilled; certainly not as strong.
But they fought for power, to rule for selfish reasons. They brooked him no thought, seeing him as little of a challenge to them. A small bug to thump away or a dog to kick, perhaps. So he used this. He allowed them to strike first each time. Dodging the move, he attacked, brutally: breaking noses, twisting and cracking knees, plunging knives into throats and sides. Each challenge he ended quickly, before their surprise faded.
Toward the end, he’d begun to feel it all in his body. His reputation had swirled outward. The attacks had become more precise, without hesitation; they were actually taking him serious as an opponent, and he’d had to fight harder, and attack much faster.
The last one nearly killed him.
He could still remember lying there, on his back. His own blood mixed with the warrior’s in the pool of it he laid. Silently he begged God for it to be the last. There was a war he had to win.
Three days later, he rode his horse into Camp and found his men at full attention.
He spoke to all of his men and told them of what had killed his father, their King.
They walked in the moon light, the King and his only living son.
Rumors swarmed that a coven had awakened a very old god. A cruel god that demanded blood for the power he granted. With that power the coven had put a spell on an entire village. All of the villagers gave up their first born, and the coven fed the old god, still then far under the Earth.
Finally, Molech, so say the rumors, ripped himself from the earth, a mountain with the countenance of a man, many huge horns and gigantic serpents arose from his head. The coven had gathered round, the villagers lined up, bringing all manner of animal and human sacrifices to the god.
This the King knew must be stopped. The more blood the old god was fed, the less likely even the mightiest army could drive him below again.
That night, they’ rode for hours and then dismounted, knowing that the coven would have many ears in the forest to hear the loud horses. The two men, one a giant, walked silently, the King’s eyes able to see the smallest twig in the dark. When they’d come to the edge of the wood and stepped out, the King died.
The old god Molech had known the old King was coming and had given the coven instructions as to how to kill him on sight. But Molech had given no thought to the remaining, runt son, and thus seeing no threat, had made no provision for killing him
His son fell beside his King and wept.
Inside his heart, he declared war on a god.
He would lead the army South, and there they would wait at the edge of the forest. He, their new King, would go and speak first, directly with Molech, to give the old god the commandment given by the LORD God. The King hoped that the old Fallen thing would refuse to obey. He told his men so and many of them cheered.
One of the mightiest of his men, standing some eight feet tall, asked how were the men to know when to come down and do battle.
“I will say ‘rise up,’ and you will shout, ‘war.’ This I will do three times. Upon the third time, fly from the forest and prepare yourself for what awaits you, demons and fallen things.”
He mounted his horse and turned toward his men.
“When I say rise up, then you say war. “
The King turned his horse around and repeated the words. Then he stopped the horse, looked at his army and said, “Rise up!”
The King held his sword aloft and his men shouted, “WAR!”
They marched on the South.
The new King left his mighty men at the edge of the forest. He rode towards the mountainous form of the old god. Upward he gazed as he drew close, watching as Molech saw him, looked down on him, and earth and rock rolled down the side of the mountain god.
The hiss of the coven brought the King back to his own level. The old witches had ceased to be human long years prior. They were terrifying, this he could not deny, and would, had he not his sword, be capable of ripping both he and his horse to shreds in their blood frenzy.
High aloft he held the weapon, and the coven backed away, knowing that this two-edged sword gave power to his will, and the King would slay them all.
The King approached the mountainous, old god.
“You must return to the depths from which you came, old god!”
The mountain looked down upon him. When it spoke, blood and lava steamed and rolled from his rocky lips. The speech was deep and slow, and the King found it required much patience to listen.
“WHO ARE YOU, TO COMMAND ME?“
The new King almost laughed, the question was so predictable. More than once his father had told him that Pride was the weakness of everything that had power. Without conscience, power would puff up, leading to pride, and pride made predicable decisions that were easy to exploit. He had learned such lessons himself.
“I am no one,” the new King said. “It is the LORD God who gives the command. The blood of the innocent spills from your mouth like a fountain, and this is an abomination. Sink back into the Deep, or you will be dealt with, Molech.”
Blood, lava, and rocks slid down the mountain as the old god laughed.
“WHO SHALL DEAL WITH THE LIKES OF ME,” it said, “I EAT YOUR CHILDREN! I AM DRUNK ON THE BLOOD OF YOUR FIRST BORN!“
The King said, “Then your answer is no.”
The mountain smiled. Blood drained from the corners of its rock mouth.
The King shouted, “RISE UP!”
The forest howled in return.
He shouted again the words, again the forest howled. The mountainous god looked surprised.
The third and final time the King shouted the words and the forest howled, hundreds of mighty men flew from the trees, swords, bows, spears and shields held aloft, and broke upon Molech.
From the depths of the earth their arose demons, spirits, and fallen angels. Some of the King’s men fought them and lost, many more fought them and won. The King charged the mountain, his shining two-edged sword held high, and pushed his horse ever upward, toward the mouth of the beast.
The horse died under him, and as it fell the King jumped and began to run toward the gaping maw of the prideful god. He dove into the blood and the lava, and felt no pain. He plunged ever downward into the mountain god’s innards, falling, falling, into fire, blood and oblivion, until finally he saw the heart of the wretched thing. It burned red with blood and flame. The King brought his sword up with both hands, shifting the weapon, pointing it downward toward the burning, black heart.
The blade struck the heart, and the King felt the mountain shake as the old god howled. The earth trembled as Molech’s defeat was final, the mountain itself crumbling back into the ground.
The King’s army defeated all of the dark things of Molech and watched in awe as the mountain fell. They praised and shouted to the LORD God that their new and short-lived King had believed in and returned to their homeland.
The army elected a new King who promised to rule in the manner that his predecessor had fought. The new King would rule with honor, will, and bravery, and would be a servant to the people, as well as a King.