Unholy Trinity: The Master & Apprentice
Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.
I was inspired to write The Master & Apprentice Unholy Trinity when the concept for an entire novel came to me in the form of three core scenes, three tangible moments in time, which would define the arc of the tale, from beginning to end. I have always loved the concept of the dangerous power-play between the Master and Apprentice, and what ills can arise from the unending desire for more. Greed is among one of the greatest evils in our world, and I wanted to show that one bad turn only begets another…
The wind whispered through the trees, stirring the freshly fallen snow. Avathor scented the icy air, his hackles rising. Intruder, his nose told him. Unknown.
He padded through the forest, on edge. Something wasn’t right. He felt it in his bones. Cresting a ridge, he found the source of his unease. Blood stained the snow, and corpses littered the earth. Hovering over them, an ephemeral, shifting spirit.
Malevolence emanated from the poltergeist in tangible waves. Avathor bellowed in rage for his slain kin. The spirit charged, and he was Avathor no more. His eyes glowed.
He was Xandor, the Defiler.
Raise the Dead
With blood and flesh, Xandor had been reborn. Eyes glowing, he said the words within his mind, focusing his intent. With a mighty roar, he unleashed his black power, drawing upon the strength of his host. One by one, the corpses rose, mangled, bloody and hideous. Empty black eyes stared back at him, awaiting his command.
The Defiler’s corrupt soul shivered with dark delight. An army of wight bears. They would serve him well. With a second bellow, he ordered them forward and their long march began.
He may have passed into memory… but his desire for revenge had not.
King of the Ashes
The Red Bell rang three times. Its toll not heard for centuries beyond memory. Archers scurried to the walls of the Black Keep, the last refuge of man. From his obsidian tower the Iron King watched the Army of the Dead approach.
“So it begins,” he said darkly.
His pathetic subjects barricaded themselves into the mountain fortress like rats, the last few brave warriors standing to meet their end. The dead were too many, and the powers of his former master, his mentor, Xandor the Wicked, had grown.
Soon they would be overrun, and the Days of Man would end.
Zoey Xolton is a published Australian speculative fiction author, with a particular penchant for the Dark Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and Horror genres. Her works have appeared in several themed anthologies, with many more due for publication, soon! She is also a proud mother of two, and is fortunate enough to be married to her soul mate. Outside of her family, writing remains her greatest passion. She is especially fond of short form fiction, and is working on releasing her own story collections in future; as well as a series of novelettes and novellas. To find out more, please visit: www.zoeyxolton.com!
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Stephanie Ellis writes dark speculative prose and poetry and has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her longer work includes the folk horror novels, The Five Turns of the Wheel, Reborn, and The Woodcutter, and the novellas, Bottled and Paused (all via Brigids Gate Press). Her dark poetry has been published in her collections Lilith Rising (co-authored with Shane Douglas Keene), Foundlings (co-authored with Cindy O’Quinn) and Metallurgy, as well as the HWA Poetry Showcase Volumes VI, VII, VIII, and IX and Black Spot Books Under Her Skin. She can be found supporting indie authors at HorrorTree.com via the weekly Indie Bookshelf Releases. She is an active member of the HWA and can be found at https://stephanieellis.org and on Blue Sky as stephellis.bsky.social.