Darren and The Dark Lord
by Daniel South
There once was a Dark Lord from Sut
Who conquered each city and hut
And when he was done
He knew he had won
Then frowned and said “Now what?”
The Dark Lord slumped miserably on his throne, his irritation growing.
He shifted position, the darkness that perpetually surrounded him
flowing slowly on to the stone floor. He looked over to the entranceway
with its heavy oaken door, bound in iron and attached to the massive
stone walls. It should be opening, but it remained tightly closed. The
Dark Lord sighed and glanced to his left where his hulking demon guard
lounged against the wall. The guard was idly poking at one of the
scurrying lesser-demon servants with his spear, but his heart wasn’t in
it. The Dark Lord shifted again, his fingers beginning to drum on the
bone arm of his throne.
“What’s keeping him? He should have been here an hour ago!” he demanded from the guard.
“I don’t know,” the guard replied without much interest. “Maybe he got lost again. You want me to go down and find him?”
“No,” groused Mephistopheles, the supreme being of the world. “It would
probably make things worse. I’ll just wait. It’s not like I have
anything better to do.”
Mephistopheles continued to fume. He glanced up at the sole source of
light in the otherwise dark room. Directly in front of the throne, a
large beating heart floated inside of a crystal sphere. The sphere
hovered at shoulder-height above the cold stone floor. A pulsing
blood-red light emanated from the heart, flashing brighter with each
beat, and darker with each contraction, pulsing throughout the room.
Mephistopheles wrinkled his nose. It wasn’t quite right so he gestured
at the crystal sphere, moving it slightly to the right. The Lord of the
Realm glanced around moderately satisfied, that is to say, generally a
bit less dissatisfied. The room looked properly evil, at least
sufficiently so. It was good enough for this little show.
Mephistopheles rose and paced to the window, a shroud of blackness
swishing around his back as he moved. One of his demon servants caught
his attention as it scurried across his path. Irritated, he incinerated
it with a flick of his wrist, and looked upon his kingdom.
The land was shadowed and overcast with a harsh wind howling across the
plains. In every direction he looked, Mephistopheles saw the gloomy
eternal twilight. This was as it should be since it was his shroud
which spread across the entire world, condemning each day to a dismal
sameness. Mephistopheles saw the extent of his reach, and he sighed.
Bright sunny days had not been seen anywhere in the world in nearly
four hundred years. The gloomy skies no longer brought him happiness.
Dark winged creatures soared the darkened skies at will, his will. He
had hatched the creatures ages ago when he first set out to conquer the
world. For months he had cast the spells and mixed the potions which
changed regular animals into his works of art. It had been exhilarating
when his first dragon had roared and tried to eat him. He had triumphed
over that dragon and made it his own.
Off to his right, he could make out the massive mine of Modos, with its
mob of slaves pulling their loads of rock. For hundreds of years he had
heard the chanting of the work gangs and the banging of hammers on the
hard rock, smelled the acrid fumes of the smelter, and had seen the
glitter of the finished steel. At the mine were piles of finished
weapons, rooms full of glittering shields, and stacks of full length
suits of armor. Many of the early piles and stacks were now covered
with layers of rust. Blades were dull and shields no longer glittered.
There really was no use anymore for the swords, shields, and armor they
produced at the mine. There was no one left to fight, but still the
mine cranked out the swords. Still, the slaves burnished the
newly-minted shields and stacked the suits of armor in new warehouses.
Mephistopheles thought back to his triumphant battle three hundred--no
almost four hundred--years before, and a nostalgic smile momentarily
appeared on his cold face. He could still see the Legions of Amador in
their shiny armor, and the never-before- unified tribes of nomads
mobbing towards him. Even the oh-so-brave little group of heroes come
to destroy the heart of power was clear in his memory. Every one of
that group had surprised him at one time or another with cleverness,
bravery, or boldness. And of course, there was Mithrades, so annoying,
but such a fine opponent. Nodding his head with remembrance, he smiled
wistfully again. One by one, of course, they had all fallen. His armies
had crushed the Amadoreans at Carckash. His flying beasts had decimated
and scattered the nomads. His traps and creatures had picked off the
heroes one by one, leaving only Mithrades. Amazingly, Mithrades had
almost won. Locked in that immortal combat, spells flying around, walls
“He’s here,” grunted the guard.
Shaking his head to clear the daydreams, Mephistopheles turned from the
window. Yes, he could sense the figure in the hallway. “Very well,” he
said to himself, “let’s get this over with.” Quickly he made his way
over to his throne, sat down and adjusted his black robes. With
annoyance he noticed a small stain near his knee. “Great,” he chided
himself, “very impressive.” He waved his hand at his guard to shape up,
and the guard pulled himself up from his slovenly pose with a grumble.
Suddenly, the door burst open spewing forth a warrior. The man was tall
with broad shoulders and blond hair. He wore a chainmail shirt over
leather armor, a sword was in its scabbard at his waist and he carried
a large bow in his hands. In a flash, two arrows were launched. One hit
the guard in the chest, the other struck Mephistopheles square in the
forehead. A piercing wail escaped from Mephistopheles, a sound that
shook the walls of the castle and sent the servants fleeing into
hiding. In a fluid motion, the warrior dropped his bow and unsheathed a
beautiful broadsword, gilt in gold and razor sharp. As the guard
staggered forward, spear raised, the man brought the sword crashing
down on the beating heart. The sword shattered the crystal container
and clove the heart in two. Instantly, amid the falling shards of
crystal, a deep red burst of light flashed throughout the room followed
by absolute darkness.
And then the lights came up. Mephistopheles burst out with a laugh of
derision as he plucked the arrow from his forehead and stood up. The
guard chuckled as he walked back to his station, pulled the arrow from
his chest and dropped it. The warrior paused a moment in confusion, but
then leapt towards the throne. Within two bounds he planted his feet on
the hard marble and swung the great broadsword. It cleft the Dark Lord
in two, passing through him as through a cloud. The smoke where the
blade had passed reformed, became solid and there stood Mephistopheles
untouched. Again and again the warrior hacked at the hated Overlord.
Again and again the blade passed harmlessly through him. Finally,
Mephistopheles, with a thin smile of contempt on his face, made a flick
with his hand and a bolt of power sent the attacker crashing into the
nearby wall. In pain the warrior scrambled for his sword and charged
again. Mephistopheles sighed and twin beams of energy sprang from his
eyes, striking the young man in the chest like a pair of hammers. The
hero staggered backward, and looked up. He held his sword uncertainly
looking around for guidance.
“That’s it? That’s the best you could do?” chided Mephistopheles. He
idly tossed the arrow to the floor. “One arrow, a normal arrow at that,
for me and one for my guard. What if I’d had more than one guard? Don’t
you know you need special arrows to kill me? And the sword, doesn’t it
have special powers? Did you even try to figure out what those powers
are? Haven’t you ever listened to the hushed stories around your
“Well, I…” started the hero.
“That was pathetic. I can’t believe you kept me waiting for that!”
“Well, I destroyed the heart. That should break your power!” he replied defensively.
“I destroyed the heart. I destroyed the heart,” Mephistopheles mocked.
“You idiot, that wasn’t the real heart. You fell for the decoy. I can’t
believe you fell for the decoy.”
The warrior was getting very nervous at this point. “Wait a minute. You
said you’ve been waiting for me. You knew I was coming,” he accused.
“Are you kidding me? You’re just now getting that? You’re more stupid
than I thought. Not only did I know you were coming, I sent you on this
journey.” With a wave of his hand, an image appeared of an old man with
“Ovinan!” exclaimed the warrior.
With a disdainful smile Mephistopheles turned to the guard. “Jarn, if you please…”
Suddenly the guard form melted away. The lumbering demon changed,
reformed, and shrunk. The guard was gone and an old man with fiery eyes
“How ya been, Darren? Didja ever get that splinter out of your butt
from that log by the campfire?” Involuntarily Darren’s hand went
towards his backside.
“No,” he shouted. “You’re just trying to confuse me. You’re not
Ovinan.” The old man burst out in laughter, shimmered, and reverted to
the demon guard form.
“Oh, he’s Ovinan all right,” Mephistoheles cast a withering look at
Jarn, “and Ovinan did a pathetic job of preparing you.” Jarn looked at
the floor and sheepishly shuffled his feet.
Darren the hero staggered backwards. His world had gone insane, and so
quickly too. His sword dangled from his hand. Near panic, he looked at
Mephistopheles then back to the guard.
Finally, he just sat down, his head in his hands, his sword beside him.
Mephistopheles couldn’t resist making him feel worse. With a bit of a
smirk, he got down from the throne and casually walked over to him.
“You know, I didn’t think you would ever get here. How many times did
you get lost? Three? Four? You may well be the most pathetic hero I’ve
had come for me.” He looked down and was surprised to see the hero
beginning to sob. “Are you crying? I can’t believe it. Jarn, he’s
crying,” he declared disdainfully. He looked down and shook his head.
“Each time they’re getting worse and worse.”
Darren looked up with red eyes. “You’ve done this before?” he asked. “You’ve set men out to try to beat you?”
“Men and women. Oh yes, hero. Almost every attempt to kill me in the
last three centuries was instigated by myself,” he answered rather
“But why?” asked the perplexed hero. “Why would you take even the slightest risk that I could have killed you?”
“Why?” repeated the Dark Lord. “Why?” Exasperation erupted from the
Evil One. “Because I’m BORED!” he shouted. “I’ve done everything I can
do. I’ve beaten every foe; conquered every land. There’s nothing left
for me. Oh, and by the way… what was your name again?”
“Darren,” the confused young man answered.
“Well, Dannon, there wasn’t even the slightest risk that someone as
sorry as you could have beaten me. You’re pathetic, not like those
heroes of old.” He looked away from the defeated man, his eyes focused
on something long ago. “When I started my rise,” he continued. “There
were great heroes then. Proteus the Brave and Braden the archer. They
could fight and think, change and adapt.”
The Dark Lord reached behind his throne and picked up a blackened skull
that had been converted into a goblet. “And Mithrades here. Now he was
a true hero. Almost had me beaten, another few moments and he would
have killed me, but then he got distracted by danger to a friend, and
he lost. One moment was all I needed, and poof, here he is.” He smiled
wistfully at the cup, and turned back towards Darren.
“So you see, Darby, you don’t come anywhere close to the heroes of old.”
Darren was looking peeved. “Well, if we don’t measure up, it’s your fault more than ours.”
Mephistopheles was taken aback. His eyes flashed fire as he growled back, “My fault? How is it my fault?”
“Anyone who shows the faintest trace of resistance gets killed, so our
people tend to be cowards. We don’t have anyone who can show us how to
be true heroes. And you keep us so busy in the mines and fields that we
don’t have time to dream.” The hero looked directly at the Dark Lord,
shook his head dismissively, and finished, “But you wouldn’t understand
that. That’s for lowly humans to do, dream.”
“Hey, I wasn’t always a supreme dark lord, you know. I was as human as
the rest of you. This may surprise you Mr. Hero, but before I entered
the Wizarding Guild and started on my way, I used to go fishing and
dream all the time!” He sat back in his throne and smiled as wisps of
darkness swirled around his head. “Boy, I haven’t thought about those
days in ages. I used to love sitting there fishing. Sometimes catching
something, sometimes not, but always dreaming. I’d dream about how I
would be the most powerful wizard in the world. I’d be fishing and
planning my conquests, and how I’d be so happy…”
His smile faded, and his focus returned. He scanned the room, and his dark mood returned.
“But once you’ve got it, what then?” he muttered. Letting out a huge
sigh, he turned his dark features back to the waiting hero. “And now
Dagwood, I suppose, I should take care of you.”
“Darren, my name is Darren,” replied the hero timidly.
“Darren, Dagwood, Darby, it really doesn’t matter, does it?” countered the Dark Lord with a shrug.
“What are you going to do with me?” asked Darren nervously.
Mephistopheles sighed again. “I don’t know,” he said absently, “either
seal you up in a dungeon until you starve to death, or feed you to one
of my monsters. I really haven’t thought about it much.”
“Wait!” Darren replied quickly. “Let’s think about this. If you’re so bored, maybe we can work something out!”
Mephistopheles sighed yet again. “What is there to work out? You tried
to kill me. I stopped you, and now you’re my prisoner to do with as I
“Well, that’s true,” agreed Darren, feverishly trying to come up with
something. “But what if we try it again? I’ll do better this time, I
Again a sigh. “You’ll never be a Mithrades.”
“Mithrades! Mithrades! Well, I may not be as good as stupid Mithrades
today, but I could be someday if I had a chance. He had years and years
of culture to achieve that kind of heroic nature. He had heroes to look
up to, to inspire him. He had books and legends and the time to get
better and smarter. If we had more time, I could do it too. Why, I bet
we could do it even better! Make it even more fun than Ol’ Mithrades.”
Suddenly an idea struck Darren.
“Hey, what if we do start it over? The whole thing, I mean. You give us
back our freedom and world, and you start planning our destruction
Mephistopheles rolled his eyes in derision. “Start over? What a stupid
idea! That’s it, you’re done. Off to the dragon with you. Start over.
What a …,” The Dark Lord stopped still, and looked at Darren, as if for
the first time. “What did you say?”
Licking his lips, Darren made the proposal. “We start over. You won
this match. You yourself said there was nothing left for you. You’re
miserable with how things are now. Why continue it? Why not set the
world free and then plan a comeback. We try as hard as we can to thwart
you. C’mon, why not? What do you have to lose? You’re not happy now
“I …leave, and give the world back to you,” the Dark Lord said hesitantly.
“Yeah, take a break, take some time off, whatever,” encouraged Darren.
“Are you out of your mind? Give up everything I’ve worked for?” asked
Mephistopheles. “Hand it all back to you? Are you crazy?” Wisps of
black smoke swirled around his head, but then they stopped and hovered
“But what am I giving up?” continued Mephistopheles to himself. “A
world of boring nobodies like him, a world without challenge, an
eternal, unending day where the challengers get weaker and weaker and
weaker, day in, day out, forever.” The Dark Lord looked out his window
across the dreary landscape.
“Forever,” he whispered. “Forever.”
“Or,” Darren said, struggling to find the right words.
“Or,” Mephistopheles continued the thought for him, building up
enthusiasm, “we start a new game, with new players, new armies, new
“Um, and,” Darren started to say.
“And I get to plan your downfall! Yes, you’re right!” exclaimed
Mephistopheles. “Start over! A whole new world to conquer! Plans to
lay, monsters to make. Why didn’t I think of this earlier?” The Dark
Lord seemed to quiver with excitement. Little dark wisps darted around
his head, and black energy crackled at his fingertips.
“Okay, I’ll give you five hundred years,” he declared, but then he
looked at Darren. “I’d better make it a thousand, you’ve got a lot of
recovery to do.”
Darren stood looking confused as he tried to understand what was going on.
The Evil One saw Darren trying to concentrate, “Yes, definitely a
thousand,” he said. “Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah, you don’t have any
wizards anymore. Jarn,” he beckoned to his guard. “Go start some
Wizard’s Guilds and get them started on relearning magic.” He winked at
Darren, “It’s always more fun when your attackers know magic.”
“You got it Boss,” replied the demonic guard.
The Dark Lord gestured east and west, then south and north. “I’m making
my monsters sleep and go into hiding. I’ll bring them back when I need
them.” He looked around, deep in thought. “Let’s see, hmmm. Yes, I’ll
need to seal up some of my portals and hide some of my magic gems.” He
gestured some more, black energy crackling around him as he paced back
and forth in thought. Darren stood very still, terribly afraid that it
would all collapse as his brain finally caught up with the events.
Finally, Mephistopheles looked around. “Yes, yes. Well, I think that
about covers it. I think I’ll be going now…” he said cheerfully.
“Um, excuse me…” Darren asked hesitantly.
“Yes?” replied his Imperial Evilness.
“The, um, darkness. Would you, um, lift it please?”
Mephistopheles looked around and smiled. “Oh yes, sorry about that.”
With one final wave of his hand, the curtain of darkness lifted and
sunlight spread throughout. All over the world the sense of doom
lifted, and joy once more filled people’s wondering hearts.
“You have one thousand years, Darren. Use them well, because I’ll be
back. But for now, I’ve got some fishing to do. You know, maybe I’ll
learn fly-fishing.” With a jaunty wave of his hand and a whistle on his
lips, Mephistopheles, the Dark Lord of Evil went on vacation and faded
© 2019 Daniel South
Bio: Daniel South lives in northern Florida with his family and faithful dog.
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