Hillary Amsted was a collector, a man who cared for precious things: paintings, jewelry, lovely objects, and people. He was tall and gaunt with the perennial look of a starved puppy. No one knew how old he was; indeed, no one knew anything about the man. Hillary maintained a friendly, sweet demeanor. He was always eager to lend a helping hand. He attended the right parties and donated money to the most socially acceptable charities. He appeared to be enormously wealthy and that shielded him from prying eyes and annoying questions. Hillary lived in Umbrage House, an estate at the northern edge of Red City. The house was all that remained of an ancient monastery where soldiers were bred and trained to fight for an ancient King named Invadda who was purported to be immortal. Hillary was obsessed with the myths that clung to Umbrage House like hot tar. He spoke aloud as he descended the steps leading to the vaults that contained his collections, “In the dark there is nothing but confusion.”
He heard voices in his head, “you can only succeed by cutting the cable and breaking the bonds.” It was the voice of King Invadda. Hillary knew it was an illusion. He’d been watching too much TV. He was easily seduced by commercials that granted powerful wishes for the price of a signature. He’d been playing too many video games where he was an all powerful wizard. He had to continually remind himself that it was just a game. He couldn’t stay in the vaults for too long — he was expected at a charity event for the preservation of the Darkling Serpent, a newly developed hybrid that was not doing well in the wild — but he needed to check on his newest collection. The dark passage leading to the vaults was damp with seepage from the flood plain where the house stood. Hillary enjoyed the sensation of being surrounded by an invisible ocean. He spent millions to keep the vaults dry, but water could never be kept at bay for very long. His treasures were often drenched and it thrilled and alarmed Hillary to know how close everything was to dissolution.
In the beginning, under the directions of King Invadda, Hillary attempted to bring the dead back to life. He remembered collecting road kill and taking it to the vaults where he could prod and probe, experimenting with chemicals and electrical stimulation. The King was dissatisfied. No matter what Hillary attempted the dead stayed dead. King Invadda became agitated, hammering on the inside of Hillary’s brain, making demands. He told Hillary how he bred soldiers from human cells, DNA cooked in a lab; but, Hillary was no scientist and he didn’t understand the process. The demands were closing in on Hillary.
Ghosts imprisoned in the walls of the passageway taunted Hillary as he hurried toward the vaults. He recalled his epiphany, realizing the dead stayed dead … UNLESS there was a supernatural intervention — King Invadda was alive, locked in Hillary’s brain, but ALIVE. Hillary could make himself alive also — he could live forever, but he needed the power of necromancy to achieve his goal. He realized it was much easier to turn the “living” into the dead, than to bring the dead back to life. He could use the transformation to outlive his own death.
In the months following his epiphany, Hillary collected human corpses. He was studying the processes of deterioration and decay. It was intoxicating. The smell of death stimulated incredible hallucinations and aberrant desires. With the encouragement of King Invadda, Hillary began abducting living souls — he was becoming a wizard, more powerful each and every day.
He entered the vault to inspect his newest treasure. A soul was chained to a metal table, still young and beautiful, still struggling to hang on to life. Hillary enjoyed tormenting the sweet body (exposed and vulnerable). At first, torture made Hillary vomit…but, then he grew accustomed to inflicting pain. The screams were like an aphrodisiac pushing Hillary beyond any semblance of sanity, breaking the flimsy laws of propriety. The pain he inflicted was delicious, running through his own body like an electric current. He forgot about the event he was supposed to attend to maintain his respectability — it no longer mattered; nothing mattered now, but the pain. He became engrossed in cutting and flaying skin, trying to discover the essence of life that would nourish his own immortality. The King was pleased. The victim was babbling and crying, trying to say something to Hillary. There was an excruciating moment when the intensity of pain peaked, then quickly passed like a climax and Hillary was consumed with self loathing. He had to end it. The final act would be executed with a rock to the head–from dust to dust.
The game ended with the execution. Hillary lay on the table. It took a monumental effort for Hillary to bash in his own skull. King Invadda was the victor, born again to darken the world.