Meet Zeraskyr, the main antagonist of Thoughts of Steel.

Figures writhed beneath their chains. Hard, hot stone tore through what remained of their clothing and into their backs. Blood saturated the black stone. Their screams died mere feet from where they originated, drowned out by the roar of fire and clash of moving earth. Some of the figures didn’t move. They were dead: crop that would bear no fruit, altars of frustration. Some beings moved about the dark place freely. Fangs clicked and tongues hung from their mouths as they stared at the dead. But they did not dare ask for what they wanted, nor did they move toward the morsels.

Suddenly, thunder and lightning bellowed and crashed around the beings. They yelped and scampered away, turned their backs like they were supposed to. One being, supreme to all the others, sat upon a throne. Fire danced around him, licked his flesh. The being reveled in it, for the sights beyond those walls of flame disgusted him. He was the being who called down the lightning. He was Zeraskyr but he no longer felt the same. He, the most terrific power to ever set foot upon Zepzier, had suffered defeat at the hands of those that should have embraced their slavery. That would be the first and last time he was beaten.

A small creature with wings cautiously, ever so cautiously, crept across the walkway to the being drenched in flame. It stumbled to a halt when the flame, in its sporadic dance, parted just enough to reveal a face of rage. Eyes colder than steel and wrought with both ambition and anger speared the winged one to the ground it trembled upon.

It spoke hastily, and wouldn’t spend any more time in the supreme one’s presence than it had to. “Master, the vessels expire before they can be filled. Your subjects request they be eaten. So their disgrace is washed away from the Filling Grounds. Your subjects deem them affronts to you and to your master.”

“Remove them then. Devour every part of them for they are a disgrace to the Master. But keep away from the Filling Grounds thereafter. You and your pathetic ilk are not fit to see the filling,” Zeraskyr ordered.

The winged imp bowed several times as it backpedaled. “Your gratitude is appreciated a thousand times over, my lord.” It vanished.

A being with four arms wrenched the spoiled crop from their bonds, and threw them to the hungry ones. It then continued to transport living, screaming victims to vacant stones and chained them to the sharp, black rocks.

Zeraskyr, the Supreme Being, brooded. His master, or his inherited master, was not fulfilling his wishes. Most of the vessels expired before they were possessed by the souls of demons and transformed. He believed he knew why; he wasn’t a devout worshiper and Belok knew this. Since the defeat, he had promised Belok his soul and body but had not received a reply. Then, he had created a doctrine and forced his servants to obey it; they’d worship Belok and know him as their highest master. His remaining force was insufficient. At that rate he would be stuck there for years waiting for his ranks to be replenished. Why had Belok, the master, given up on his cause?