Salamandrus, the villainous Daemon and driving force behind the story of Cayneian: A Man from Blood, is everything that one imagines evil to be.
From tormenting his prospective worshipers in their dreams to manifesting a portion of his sealed power through lesser minions, the Daemon assails our protagonist at every turn.
“We-the practitioners of Sang Daemanus-give our souls in order to wield bloodmagic. Inevitably it corrupts us. You see we start by hearing a whisper. We cannot discern from where it comes, but it demands our attention. In our dreams we see it, an ember, the flaming Daemon. Then, it inexplicably sets us on a path wherein we encounter a practitioner. In my case it was my grandfather, and then my father.
“So we are witness to such great power. Salamandrus poisons our minds. He beseeches us to covet that power. My grandfather was the first I know of who tried to refuse it, but only after accepting. I didn’t know when I was a boy that different kinds of blood are either more or less powerful than others. I didn’t understand what consequence this power had on him.
“All practitioners eventually move from animal blood to human, and that’s where corruption is seeded. Then the consumption of Daemon blood, the most potent, gnaws at our minds…even now, I begin to feel it…”
Dysart explains his predicament to Isabelle in the Abbey, but this is only the tribulation of one man; most give in to the Daemon’s evil ways and become lesser Daemons themselves.
This is a most interesting story in that the entire time it takes place the Daemon is sealed away; seemingly by the blood of practitioners, though the truth of he was truly sealed becomes clear later in the novel.
Even sealed, the influence of Salamandrus, and over the forsaken island of Volgunther especially, is quite iniquitous; what he cannot do physically he does through magic or his minions and worshipers.
One of my most favored pieces in the book is the actual confrontation between the Daemon and the hero, Dysart.
“Oh, do you require assistance?” Salamandrus joked. “Let me help you.”
Salamandrus reached a claw to scoop up his plaything, and wrapped giant fingers round Dysart’s throat. The beast lifted him off the ground. While the man’s feet dangled, more blood poured over the Daemon’s wrist from the gaping wound across Dysart’s throat.
“What did you really think was going to happen?”
Dysart looked away. Salamandrus grinned, and flames shot from his nostrils.
“Before I use what’s left of you to break my binds, let me show something. I think you’ll enjoy this,” the Daemon growled.
The Daemon stood, and with black fingernails, Salamandrus pulled aside a flap of flesh from his abdomen. Inside the very creature, many ghostly forms of white gossamer writhed amongst each other. One coalesced into the face of Fausto.
“What have you done, Dysart? Why have you freed the beast?” it cried out.
The Daemon chuckled. Dysart did not so much as stir.
“Perhaps, you like this one…sooo pathetic,” Salamandrus offered.
The face of Fausto shifted to that of Lysander. It only mumbled unintelligibly. A once broken mind was now, but a broken soul.
“What a wretch. Naturally it spawned something as poor as you. You are a maggot to me, Dysart,” Slamandrus said, pulling the Cayneian in close.
The Daemon’s breath was hotter than any forge. Dysart’s lips burned to a crisp. Blisters splotched his face.
“Here is my favorite one…” Salamandrus grinned.
Lysander’s visage gave way before Dysart’s own face appeared.
“Is this what you wanted?” Dysart’s soul asked. “Is this what you fought for? What a failure. You don’t deserve to exist.”
It was a monumental task, for me at least, to forge a figure of true evil. I can only hope that everyone enjoys this fantasy adventure as much as I enjoyed writing it.