Previously on Ivan from Hell

Russio-Crimean War 1571

©Samuel Mogbolu


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Steel clashed against steel, bayonets kissed, cannons conversed and blood flowed. Ivan charged with sword in arm but his heart was not in it.

An iron ball landed close to him and sent him spiralling over hundreds of yelling men to land in a dry trench. He lay there for a while, vaguely distracted by the ringing sound. He could barely feel his limbs.

But the moon still glowed like she used to, the night sky was still dark as always. Only this plain would be covered in blood.

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Why did man even bother? God had turned against him. This plague that ravaged the nation, the numerous defeats the Tsar endured, it was all in itself an act of God, against vile men like him.

He’d plucked out his left eye, two weeks after his uncle was laid to rest. This he’d done in hopes of atonement.

For a while, it seemed, God was pacified. The Tchaikovsky family was found guilty of plotting against the Tsar and met a most gruesome end at the hands of the Oprichnia.

Since he was suddenly the owner of an estate, Anna’s father gave his blessing. So life was good for a couple of months, until the plague struck. It took Anna.

“Found one here.” Said a Crimean soldier, gazing down on him.

Ivan took a deep breath.

“Run me through,” he muttered “I deserve to burn in hell.”

The Crimean's blade went clean through his throat. It was the last thing he saw.

Hades, the Twelfth (IIX)

 

Ivan

Death Begins

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That peace, it was present for a moment. Life stopped, the universe went mute, darkness fell. The peace was final, absolute.

But the hum of the universe returned like a consequence. Ivan’s eyes flew open; the sky was the first thing he saw.

Where am I?

He still lay in the trench but it was night no more. It was day; a kind of woeful day, with sombre, swirling clouds like the moment before a storm.

He carefully got up, wincing in anticipation of the pain known to come from shattered limbs. But the pain did not come, his body as a matter of fact, felt rather numb.

 

Strange, he mused, absently rubbing at his neck.

Where was the hole? There was supposed to be a hole. The soldier had stabbed him. And his eyes…he could see with both eyes.

Am I dead?

The old catechist always talked about the soul leaving the body. He turned and looked around, peering into the trench.

There was no dead Ivan lying around for him to see. If he was dead, where then was his body? But if peradventure he was not, where then was the battle?

The terrain showed no signs of a previous clash. The whole plain was silent and peaceful. He stroked his beard. Too silent, Ivan mused.

Perhaps it was a shadow or a slight sound, but Ivan looked up of a sudden and sighted a figure rapidly approaching.

Fast as lightning, it crashed out from the swirling clouds, creating a small crater in the ice. His eyes widened in observation.

It was a beast, four legged and black as night. It fell on its side and spinned so gracefully to stand on all fours. Something about the way it moved defied explanation. It moved liked it possessed wings.

And then another crashed out in like manner, and another, until they were four in total. They were so massive, twice the height of a horse and they were….hounds?

Yea, indeed these were hounds. Black tan coonhounds, like the ones used to sniff out war fugitives.

Slowly and deliberately, these beasts fastened him with gazes so blatantly ferocious. They snarled, and gave low threatening growls.

“No, no no…” he whispered prayerfully, edging back. Like a pride of hungry lions, they roared and charged at him. His wail split the air as one crushed his thigh with its massive paw.

“Let me go!” he yelled balefully as another tore off a huge portion of his right arm with its teeth; right from his shoulder to his wrist.

Ivan could see his bones; white looking sticks lying in a pool of blood! For a while he was tossed around in mid-air from hound to hound.

The sight of his own flesh, hanging down from the jaws of a beast left him feeling rather dazed. He kept howling as another yanked out his blood- soaked- entrails.

“Desist!” A male voice barked.

The beasts left him immediately. Ivan trembled like an earthquake, still trying to fight the overwhelming confusion. His body was open. He looked like a cadaver.

“Look on me son of man.” The owner of the voice snapped.

Ivan paused from studying himself to look up at the man…this was no man. His posture was a half-crouch with long limbs, a hairy torso much like a man’s and sharp dark claws protruding from his fingers.

His face was unlike anything Ivan ever saw; gaunt, and long with spiky ears. But it was his gaze; his eyes were furious, intensely malevolent.

Such hate so eloquently expressed, chilled Ivan and had him desperate to crawl back.

“No more shall you be called son of man.” This fiend spat out “you are hellion now.”

The fiend turned to its beasts, pointing his long, gnarled, fingers towards the moody sky “take it home.”

“Noo!” Ivan yelled, edging back on the icy ground as fast a crushed thigh would allow.

One of the hounds menacingly approached. One paw sinking into the ice and then another, with a snarl that displayed part of his flesh on its blade sharp teeth.

It picked him from the ground with its mouth.

“Let me be! I pray, you vile beast!”  “Noo!” Ivan howled again as it sunk its teeth into his shoulder, holding him fast, and then with its powerful hinds, catapulted into the sky.

Neither the roaring wind nor the pitch darkness of the sky, nor the chilling height of the flight, could distract Ivan from the fiery pain in his arm.

But the hound would not let go. It flew over leagues and leagues of space, Ivan’s eyes could not see; for the height was so great.

How am I still alive? He mused faintly, looking upon his open stomach. But a striking sight below distracted him.

There seemed to be a great swirling abyss several leagues below. An ocean encircled this chasm. The sight of it made his skin crawl. Falling in there would be so final.

In that moment, the hound unclasped its jaws and let go.

It let go!

“Waaah!” he wailed as he crashed thousands of leagues.

His eyes bulged, his nostrils flared, his breath hitched as he got lost in the fall, sinking into the embrace of the swirl.

The waters roared, the pit seemed to suck him in. For a moment, he could sight the hound far, far, far above him. It was just a tiny blot in the sombre sky. And then he sunk too far.

All that surrounded him were the dark watery walls; even the top of the pit was too far gone. But soon he dropped out of the waters and found himself plummeting again from the sky.

He crashed so long until he fell through a gap in the roof of a cave to land in a heap of brittle sticks.

After a few agonizing moments of waiting, he gingerly got up, not so surprised by the fact that he’d survived.

Half his bones were visible; his flesh was but a tattered rag upon his mangled frame. Yet somehow he still lived. The surrounding smell was so revolting; he wished it would kill him.

What sort of place is this?

As he staggered around, the sticks crumpled under his feet. He looked around, trying to make good use of the little light from the cave entrance.

He staggered further and tripped over a stone. Ivan gave a silent groan. He was in severe pain, extremely aware of every mutilated part of his anatomy.

His flesh stung like sharp spikes, his bones burnt. He desired death like the lungs needed air.

“Oh,” he groaned and tried to get up but his eyes caught on one of the stones lying around. Something about it struck the wrong chords.

With great effort he stretched his hands towards it and picked it up.

“hoo!” he gasped aloud, flinging it away. It was no stone. It was a skull! He looked around in horror. These were no ordinary sticks lying around, these were bones.

He’d been instinctively wary of leaving the cave but now was desperate to be gone from it. He dragged himself out and came to stand in the open.

A vast plain sprawled out before him, swamped with worn out moving corpses, just like him. The strong wind that rattled his bare bones carried the general conversation to his ears; loathsome shrieks and hopeless wails, baleful howls and vicious groans.

Ivan fearfully looked back on the cave, wondering whether to return to it.   

Right before his eyes, he saw a walking skeleton jump on another not so better looking, and proceeded to rip off its flesh.

They fought so spiritedly, not slowly and weakly as one would expect of creatures at such an advanced stage of decay.

These things were strong and agile and…they stopped of a sudden and slowly turned to face him. It was then he realized that he’d been surrounded.

Now that he considered it, he looked out of place. Compared to them, his body was yet well preserved.

The horde engulfed him before he could let out a yell, forming a deathly, putrid, darkness; that stuck through his ribs, his heart, plucked out his spine and totally disembowelled him.

Under the miasma of ghastly pain, he was extremely conscious of the fact that he was being eaten alive.

But the darkness dissipated of a sudden and his eaters dispersed in great haste. Hollow cackles like that of vultures rented the air.

And then he saw them; scaly flying monsters, with glowing eyes. He’d seen paintings of them before.

By God, I see flying goblins.

The look they gave Ivan infused him with a lethal dose of terror which he survived of course. But it spurred him to rise up and scamper off in the direction of his previous attackers.

But alas, the act in itself was futile. The horde of these flying monsters greatly outnumbered even the hellions that covered the plain.

These flying beasts swarmed upon the wingless hellions, picking them up, and casting them down from great distances.

All the while as they threw hellions about, the monsters gave off ominous and chilling cackles. Ivan ducked and avoided the clasp of one of these creatures. He looked around, eager to find shelter. He’d had his share of falling today.

But the monster he escaped turned back in mid-air, its already deformed visage twisted even more. It hissed instead of cackled.

“I will separate every joint of your body.” it rasped ominously.

Ivan was horrified. It could speak too! The goblin swooped at him. He ran blindly, desperate to get away from it.

Just as the creature was about to pick him by the head, he jumped off the cliff.

He’d not realized they stood atop a cliff until he was diving down to shattered limbs and separated joints. Perhaps now, he would die for sure.

“chra, chra, chra!!!!” the goblin hissed, swooping down for him.

Ivan shook his legs erratically, perhaps in a bid to fall faster. It came this close to him, stretching out its gnarled hands to grab him.

“No one gets away.” It cackled.

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About

I’m just Samuel, bony faced, laidback, absentminded Samuel. I don’t like to say much, I try to stay out of trouble. Some might say otherwise but that's some for you. Point is we don’t care, let’s just be chill and have fun. So come by whenever and ask me whatever.  It’s our party now and it won't start until your arrival.