The Right-Hand of the Devil.
The Demon’s God. And the owner of my forsaken soul. Mostly, anyway. I mean, I didn’a lose it to him specifically or nothin, not to his face, or whatever he’s got. Lost it to one of his ilk. So yeah, mostly. Anyway.
Now I heard about this Right-Hand of the Devil. Anyone a’spent any sort of time around demons and monsters and whores as much as I have is bound to have heard about it at least once, and I done heard about it a number of times now.
The thing about it is: no one really has a damned clue as to what it really does. Oh sure, there’s the absurd speculatin, but I ain’t never heard the same story twice now. So I’m left with the confused diatribes of evil things and their wild, hair-brained plans of world domination and endless cake. Some of em liked cake. A lot. Like, really, a lot. But it all leaves me to guess on my own exactly what the thing does, if it truly exists.
The scene in front of me now: hollowed-out, full bodies of skin suits, hung from the ceiling of a cave, a small candle flickering in each of em illuminating their flesh to the walls behind them, their veins connected and weaving with one-another, demon-script all throughout as thorough directions, and all of it leading to the X that seems to mark the spot. I’m left to believe this ain’t just another silly story. This is somehow real, and this mythical thing must actually exist.
“Yes, the Right-Hand of the Devil. Do you know of it, Jones?”
“Course ah do codger. Ah’ve heard of the damned thing.”
“Then you know of it’s abilities, or rather, what it can bring to the wielder.” It was more of an assertion than a question.
“Ah’ve heard a lot of stories about it. Many of which involvin cake. But ah reckon you got a mind more than to want such a small thing?”
“Indeed, Jones. But you misunderstand the purpose behind all of this. The kidnappings, the skinning, devouring the essences of these items, and of course our need of you.”
“Yep, ah reckon ah was just comin to askin that question.” I say realizing I hadn’t thought of it.
“Have you not figured it out yet?” He asks coming within inches of my face, his breath something I wished I could bottle for incapacitating most demons. “No, you haven’t have you? Perhaps you are not as intelligent as we had thought.”
“Hey, codger! Ah’m fair enough in the head to deal with all the things that come along my path. Obviously you needed someone to read the demon-script. That’s easy enough to figure out.”
“And what else? Is that all you’ve discerned? Yes, it’s in your eyes, you understand so little. Come, sit, I will tell you everything you want to know.”
“And why would you go and do a thing like that? Ah hate to give it up like this, but ah’ve been sent to put a stop to this an bring you back to the town dead or alive, preferably alive as you look like you’d be a chore to move all the way on my own.”
“Wrong, Jones. I’m sorry you haven’t yet figured this out for yourself, but you were not sent here to bring me home, or solve some kidnappings; you were sent here to help.”
“…” Now, I wanted to say something, but nothing came out when I tried. Codger stumped me.
“No? Still nothing? You are thick aren’t you? Well, easily enough solved. You see, Jones, all of this was set into motion by the same town that hired you.”
“That don’t rightly add up, codger. They done paid me to put you down.”
“No, simply pretext. They hired you for this.” He points around to all the hanging bodies and the map glowing from them. “We could not have accomplished this without you.”
“Then what about the others that come a’fore me? The other bountyers?”
“You travel much Dark Rider, and we had no tracker to find you. The reward posters would find you coming here soon enough. You see, we’ve paid much attention to your travels. The jobs you’ve taken and such. We had sent people out, remaining in many towns all around the region, relaying messages, waiting, planning, and then you came along. Once you were spotted, we put this all into motion. We took the youngsters, began this tiresome ritual, and once we were nearly complete, we hung the rewards posters. We knew it wouldn’t take long for you to come across one as the man we had watching you would ride ahead of you to set up the posters where you would most likely find them. Others would see them as well, unfortunately, but they were disposed of quickly.
We knew you would come, and come you have just as the ritual had come to it’s completion. You were perfectly on time you see? Finally our dream is at hand, and you, Abacus Jones, will guide us to our destinies.”
His story started to make sense. The town had unsettled me a bit, and it didn’t add up that people like them all would be so generous to one such as me. And sure, fair enough that they’d need my eyes to read all’a this. But I still didn’t know why, so I asked as such. After all, it was still nighttime and I didn’a think I’d be getting back to town before sun came up anyway.
“Yes, the history of it all. When did it all begin? I think it was nearly fifteen years ago. Perhaps sixteen now. Our mayor started all of this so long ago.”
He continued on, telling me the story of how so many years ago, their mayor’d come to havin a vision. Seemed before he’d become mayor he’d been in some field, workin ground of some farm somewhere, and he’d been real sick. Fever and such while workin in the harsh fields. He said he heard voices, voices that told him of the secrets of life. He ran home, tried his best to write em down, but his fever was mighty strong, and he had troubles with it. So he done the best he could, got visited a couple of more times by em, helping him finish his writings, and after he’d finished, read em all over again and again for himself.
He discovered a great secret, one that overwrought the ideas formly come up with by others bout their God and such, but that’s really besides the point of it all. He also found a number of rituals, uncoverable secrets long layin dormant in the Earth we all walked on. He obsessed over em, and held them only to his eyes alone. He soon released his long-winded works as a book of sorts, but he left out these secrets, kept em for himself. As soon as he’d become mayor, he went about confidin in the people of his city, realizing he needed their help to complete the greatest of these secrets. He told em about the one he discerned as the greatest treasure, and how he would need their children to make it come to truths.
Apparently he was good at roundin em all up. Getting em to see things his way. Real soon they all came about to his way of thinking, and went off to get pregnant, as certain types of youth was in need. Each to be fifteen years of age and virgins all. So the people went about their procreatin, many of em succeedin, and they went about raising em with a tight hold. Learned them all in the ways of the mayor’s book, brought em up believing that they would each wait until they was of a certain age and married a’fore given emselves up to another; that great riches would await them if they done so proper. They had to make sure most of em would remain untainted. When the time came, they were taken away, one by one, and once by two in the case of the rifle boy, and they was each of em killed, stripped of their skins, meat dined on by the one in charge of the ritual, and then they waited for the coming of the one with the dark eyes, so that he could read the map for em, get them the treasure so that they could make all of their dreams come true.
So then things became a little sketchy for me. But on accounta this all bein the way it was already, just had to take it at face value. They wanted this treasure simply for their own immortality. To perfect the lives of each of their kind, bein the kind that adopted their literatures and such. Each of em would be given some great present for bein one of em, but the mayor needed the Hand to make it all come to truth. At this point I stopped listenin, on accounta the codger’s breath bein a spec worse than bein damned for all eternity.
I excused myself for a bit, needin some fresher air, so I happened back outside for a spell.
That’s when the Slooth demon attacked me.