“I know what it is like to be hated.” The voice said. A door on the west side of the chamber opened to reveal a shadowy figure standing alone in dim light. The effect of his words resonated throughout the room, and he walked inside. His rugged boots reverberating each step against the walls. He was of medium build, a slender man, with thick black hair, impeccably groomed and combed back, held in place by oils that gave it a sheen. He wore a black uniform with gold buttons going down on his right side. His appearance was neat, trimmed, and manicured. His face clean-shaven. He wore a high collar that buttoned to the top of his chin with two dainty red buttons securing it in place. His most unusual and haunting feature was the yellow glow emanating from his eyes, taking the appearance of circling fog. He could pass for human, especially at a distance, but up close he looked, unnatural.
“I, too, know what it feels like to be alone. To be hunted. To be humiliated. To be beaten, coerced to confessions that not only you do not believe, but you have no intentions of honoring. Like you, I have had sleepless nights on the cold, hard, wet, stone.”
This was the Zorn, and they knew it. No longer the little boy Hazor, summoning demons around the bonfire. He was a fully grown man now, if he could be called a man at all. His magical powers, inherited from his father, the God Hexor, made him a Demi-God among mortals. He entered the room tall and confident, in the prime of his power.
As he continued to speak, he approached one of the children.
“Please, have mercy,” one prisoner pleaded. “You don’t have to do this.”
The Zorn put a finger to his lips, and the pleading stopped. He continued to pat the boy on top of his head.
“Ever since I was just a small boy myself, I was hated and despised by all men. Do you think they had to do that to me?”
He walked around the circle now. “For what? What did I do to anyone? I was just a baby, I had hurt no one. My only desire was a mother’s love, yet I was hated. Not on my own merits, mind you. But on my situation, my station in life, the misunderstanding I was born into. Like, for instance, being the second born in a whore’s womb. How was that my fault, I ask you?”
The Zorn contemplated while continuing to walk. “So many years in that orphanage. Absorbing the punishments, the whippings, the unjustified abuse. Impotent beatings from old crones as they tried to disguise oppression as discipline—that orphanage of my so-called Saintly Mother. The Saint who abandoned me on the first night of my life. The first night alive in this world. She, who looked upon me in disgust, while I had not yet shed the filth of my after-birth.”
He spun to face the group shouting, “ABANDONED ME!” His voice echoed off the walls. The prisoners trembled.
Noticing their reactions, he softened. “But have no fear. You will never abandon me. I know it, you know it. Our flesh will become as one flesh.” He walked to a table on the far wall picking up a sharp, oddly shaped instrument. After a consideration, he released it. It fell on the metal table with a loud bang. “But first.”
“Welcome to Orlo,” he announced cheerfully. “Welcome to my castle, my home. Isn’t it wonderful?” He walked around with his arms outstretched. “There are many rooms here. This is but one chamber. There are so many more. It’s almost too much!”
He motioned to a man to come to him. The man was a carpenter just days ago before this nightmare began. He walked with hesitation toward the Zorn. “Come, come!” The Zorn encouraged him. As the man got closer, the Zorn pointed to a spot on the ground before him. The man kneeled before the Zorn as commanded.
“Do you like it here?” The Zorn asked him tilting his head.
The man begged, “Please, I want to see my daughters again.”
Angering the Zorn, he shouted, “I asked, DO YOU LIKE IT HERE?”
Reacting to the outburst, the man bowed his head and nodded while he cried without any shame.
“Orlo is a magnificent castle, isn’t it? You know, it formed in the clouds? After leaving that forsaken orphanage, I followed the sky and instinctively arrived at this very location. The village of Orlo was just a little forgotten farmland when I found it. But once I came, the clouds parted, and a wondrous vision appeared to me. It was this castle in the sky, there, in the very clouds; the clouds burst apart like a scroll to reveal it to me. It was built it in the vapor in its entirety. It was majestic, there on high with its high towers of spiraled peaks, its marble central dome, thick impenetrable walls, foreboding iron gates.” The Zorn laughed. “I knew it had to be mine. I had to have it. I knew I had to possess it. It called to me deep in my dreams. It welcomed me. It screamed with a mighty voice into my mind, it screamed: YOU HAVE COME INTO YOUR KINGDOM!”
The Zorn threw the man to the cold, damp floor, spreading his arms wide. “I called this glorious castle down to its rightful place, this mighty fortress, this Castle of Orlo. I commanded it down into these cornfields sanctifying this place. It obeyed me, and I trembled. Then, it whispered to me in a very humble voice. It whispered: may we approach you, as your humble servant, will you let us wash you in blood?”
With this, the Zorn simulated stabbing the man with an invisible sword. The prisoner flinched, even though he was in no pain. The Zorn stood up straight and gave a slight shrug. “How could I resist?” Then, he motioned his hand for the man to return to the group in the center of the chamber, which he did.
“At that precise moment, my castle fell upon the ground with a loud crash fixing itself deep into the rock of the world. Yet Castle Orlo held one more surprise for me. It remains unseen to human eyes, unless invited by me, the Zorn. With no invitation, the stones remain hidden from view.”
“It was a gift, I believe it was, from my father. Locked in cosmic combat, forever fighting for survival with a hateful God, he too, was hated for no reason. His love for a woman betrayed him, ruined when she took a red-headed buffoon as her bumbling husband. I get angry every time I think about that Witch!”
“But now, a time has come for an accounting! It is a time for a reckoning, and a blood payment must be! Just the latest installment in a long account of recompense!”
Your days are gone, never to return!
In Zornastic fire, your soul will burn!”