Dullahan Well, this is my first posting here, so hello all. Here is part of a story I have been working on. Its non-fan fiction, but definitely Diablo inspired. Dullahanâ€™s dreams were dark and terrible. There were flames. Flames rising to towering heights, an immense wall of fire that chased the shadows away. The burning heat was searing his flesh and melting his mind and he let out great screams, but those too were ignited and set ablaze even as they left his mouth. The fire found a way inside him and was scorching him from within. Then he became aware of something lurking in the flames, a shifting shape, something watching, and its gaze burned and was more piercing than the flames. Then it turned away. Through the flames strode two figures. The shape took them and tears welled in Dullahanâ€™s eyes only to boil on his face, though he knew these men not. It became black, then. He saw a mountain, tall and sheer it was, frowning upon him, its lifeless peak seemed to penetrate the sky. He attempted to stagger back, away from the mountain, his face as ashen pale as its lofty slopes. Some power slumbered therein, though it seemed neither malicious nor benign. He reached out his hand to touch it though he could not have said why, but it was gone. Down a twisting cavern he stared now, ringed by jagged crags. It was dark and bleak and descended deep into the earth. His eyes attempted to navigate the darkness, but it was unyielding. Horror dwelled there, and Suffering, and the two mingled together in the blackness, spawning more of their twisted brood to torment the earth. The darkness leapt out and enveloped him. A clamorous din arose, and he beheld a feast. Strange, unearthly shapes scattered and scurried about, speaking in raspy, harsh tongues that Dullahan could not hope to understand. There was something large bound to a table. Goblets, plates and burning candles were strewn about. It was a man! They cut and tore him and their eyes glowed as they engorged upon his flesh. The mansâ€™ head lolled to the side and Dullahan looked upon his face. It was his own shoulder-length, black hair, his own long, lean face, and his own sea-grey eyes that Dullahan stared into. The eyes, they pulled him in. He was no longer staring at himself, but staring up. He tried to move but his hands were bound, now, and he was ringed with gnashing teeth and groping claws. Dullahan awoke, soaked with sweat, cold and clammy. The cold stirred a shiver within him, and the memory of the dream made him shiver again. The dreams, they haunted his nights like winter is haunted with the cold. He had fallen asleep again; it was midday by now. His hands were clenched tightly, knuckles white with lack of blood, as if they gripped something and dared not let go. Clutch something they did. In his right hand he held his battle-hammer, that old instrument of war. The soft, smooth straps of leather felt familiar and almost comforting in his hand, like onesâ€™ own bed after many nights of travel. â€œWhy am I holding you?â€ he asked the hammer, not expecting an answer, but asking all the same. His eyes traced the hammerâ€™s long, metal handle; its intricate rune-work, fashioned over the years by lore masters long faded from memory. Dullahan had given much on his quest for battle supremacy. The Hammerâ€™s head, forged from some mysterious black metal dearly bought shattered dissenters like his breath shattered the silence. He looked about. His bed, bundled hay atop slats of wood, was in a state of thrashed disarray. His sleep had been less than peaceful. His heart beat loudly in the silent of the night, a thumping midnight drummer. The cold, rough wooden floor, creaked uneasily as he shifted his weight. Many times before he had found himself standing in his room after his dreams. His mind was not the only thing that wander when he slept. His eyes strayed back to the hammer, though. â€œWhy am I holding you?â€ he repeated. â€œI havenâ€™t seen you in many years. Did I go digging under my bed in my sleep?â€ Looking at it now, he could still hear the screams of the defenseless people, the blood of the innocent. All blood looked the same to him, though, and how his eyes glistened when he saw it flowing. A twinge of guilt struck him, making his gut churn as if in discomfort and he felt a pressure in his throat. That is why he kept the hammer locked away. It brought things up that he couldnâ€™t put down. He felt thirsty, so he went to fetch some water before returning to bed. For a moment, he paused, turning back to his bed feeling he should put the hammer away. â€œNo,â€ he thought. â€œIâ€™ll hold you for just a little while longer. It has been so long, and it wouldnâ€™t hurt if it is for only a moment,â€ Dullahan hesitated and then gave a nod, agreeing with himself at length. He made it three steps toward his door and there was a great tremor and everything began to shake. His house moaned and creaked with disapproval and the thudding in his chest pounded away and his ears were filled with the sound of rumbling and his own blood racing through his veins. A panel of wood came clattering down, striking the floor with a snap and a rattle. Dullahanâ€™s roof above began to shift and droop dangerously. No more incentive was needed to bolt out the door. Stumbling as he ran, he gave a curse, and though he didnâ€™t notice it, Dullahan clutched the hammer tightly, holding it defensively, ready to swing at even a shred of threat. He flung the door open, darting outside. Wind assailed him with little spears of cold, their sting stabbing at his fingers, nose and ears, attacking where he was weakest, and the sky was darkned by many clouds. Lightning began to lash the sky like long white whips and Dullahan stood only feet from his house, bewildered, staring wide eyed and gaping. The earth continued shaking and his house tilted and swaggered like a drunk, before finally collapsing, vomiting dust and debris into gusty air. Dullahan ducked and covered his face as his house collapsed and he could feel tiny splinters bouncing off his flesh. As if some cruel gods were satisfied with thoroughly destroying Dullahanâ€™s house, the earth calmed. Still the winds blew. All over his flesh Dullahan could feel his skin become taught and his hair standing on end. Lightning still smote the sky and he ducked each time, as if he feared the lords of the sky might strike him at any moment, and Dullahan raised his hammer above his head, ready to deflect the blow. He almost felt compelled to weep, not nearly so much for the loss of his house, which had yet to fully impact him, but out of sheer confusion. If Dullahanâ€™s mind was puzzled before, it was thrown into an innavigateable labyrinth with what happened next. A stroke of lightning lashed the sky, lighting all the land as if the sun had peered through the clouds for only a moment. The shock of it sent Dullahan sprawling. A boom followed the lightning, rumbling and reverberating, shaking the ground, as if the sky itself had been ruptured and was shattering above. Dullahan covered his ears and winced through the deafening noise, fidgeting his feet and curling his body into a little ball, coddling the hammer now like a child holds close a favored toy. The sky then turned red, as if it were in the throes of a bloody death, and was splattering its gore down upon the earth. Tears finally began to well in Dullahanâ€™s eyes and he wept. His breaths coming in sobbing gasps, soaked with tears. Had all of Tamrost set out to destroy him this night? As if in answer to his fears, the earth began to shake again. Dullahan managed to raise his head, slowly and haltingly though, as if a great weight were upon him that he dared not resist. The shaking was smaller than that of before, localized. Perplexed, Dullahan stared as patches of ground began shaking, shifting and cracking apart. At first a small glow began to flow from the cracks and fissures, red and dim. Then the lights began to shine more intensely. Like serpentine tongues, flames flicked out of the fissures and cracks, growing higher and burning more intensely as the moments passed. The cracks and fissures opened wider, like a gaping maw, and all the while the earth crumbled away, being swallowed up by the flames and the ever-widening holes in the earth. Dullahan lay shaking, sweat dripping down his face, eyes darting from fissure to fissure. He could feel the fires erupting from the earth, warmthâ€™sâ€™ delicate fingers running along his flesh. Some lay in the distance, some closer, but they were dotted all around him, less than a dozen, like puddles after a rain, some only inches across, others large enough for several men to fit through. Determined to escape before a hole opened up beneath him, Dullahan rose to his feet, slowly and warily, attempting silence, looking about, as if he were trying to sneak past some slumbering entity. He held his hammer limply at his side. Then, from the largest of these fissures sprouted a spindly arm. At first Dullahan did not see it, for his back was turned. But some urge in his mind made him turn, and there, emerging from the hole, a shape began to manifest, cloaked in the flames. It was tall, not unlike the shape of a man, though it seemed leaner and longer. Out of the flames it strode, unburnt and unscathed. Its eyes were yellow glowing orbs, as if fires burned within its skull. Its skin was dark; brown almost, a filthy color. The flesh seemed aged and dried, taught and lined with what seemed to be scars. Below its skin, the creatureâ€™s various bones and veins could be seen, leaving their impression on its cracked skin which seemed liable to flake off at any moment. From its head sprouted two elongated ears, almost as long as its head, which was not much larger than Dullahanâ€™s, though longer and with an exaggerated pointed chin. For a moment the thing stood, looking about. Then its gaze seemed to settle on Dullahan. Calmly and gracefully it began to stride toward him. Its movement was silent and possessed fluidity; its limbs swaying and undulating in what seemed like practiced rhythm. Much like a bird, its thin legs bent backwards in an unusual fashion. As if entranced by this creature, Dullahan found himself staring at it, too confused to be afraid. Perhaps he did not see the black swords the creature held in his hand, cruelly curved and finely wrought, its gnarled and calloused fingers twined around each hilt. Or maybe the creature had cast some spell upon him. If spell it was, it was suddenly broken. Shaken now, he ceased to marvel at the creature and began to feel a threat of death upon him. Trying to match the fire-eyed thingâ€™s pace, he began walking backwards, attempting to maintain space between him and it, and still keeping the creature within his sight. Looking at its lean frame, it did not seem to be an unswift creature. All the while, Dullahanâ€™s hammer was upraised, held before his chest, like some barrier between his body and any harm that may come his way, but it twitched, as did his hands, and his face was less than confident. In the distance, a noise was coming nearer. At first it was imperceptible, but becoming steadily louder. A rhythmic thumping beat. Something was racing toward them. He turned to look. In the distance was the guise of a man riding a horse, charging for them. His gaze left the creature for only a moment. A moment was all the hellish creature needed. It sprung forward like a caged beast, swords raised and intent upon the distracted man. Eyes glowing more fiercly now, the creature descended relentlessly, unleashing a barrage of blows upon him. Dullahan attention had been diverted, but he was not caught off guard. With dexterity honed through years of battle, he turned and swatted the blows aside, one after the other. His heart-pace quickened. Battle, this was where he felt truly alive, as if some greater self within him became unfettered and was free to occupy his mind. The creature employed a jab and slash pattern, but these too were blocked and dodged. He stepped forward, swinging for the creatureâ€™s hip. It leapt over the blow and toward Dullahan. Before its feet had again touched the ground, the creature began a counter. One of its blackened blades came high, level with Dullahanâ€™s neck. The other low, aimed at the leg. The high sword lead the attack, and then changed direction, cutting low as well. It was a feint. Dullahanâ€™s hammer had been raised to protect his head. Frantically, he attempted to turn his hammer in time to block the attack. He had been careless, and he might die for it. There was a clang. His hammer had connected with the swords, but his defense was weak at best. One of the blades cut a red path across his leg. Dullahan gave a sharp inhale and gritted his teeth. The cut wasnâ€™t deep, but the blades burned like embers. This creature had learned to harness fire. Patience, that was what was needed in battle. He needed to wait for the right moment to attack. With a snarl and what looked like some twisted smile, the creature came at him again, rotating around him and attacking low, thrusting and slashing at his wounded limb. Dust swirled about their feet as they danced with tempered steel. Like stags with interlocked antlers, their weapons clanged and clattered together, and their eyes bored holes upon each other. The creature delivered an attack at Dullahanâ€™s feet; both swords thrusting low. If he attempted to block with his hammer, his upper body would be defenseless to any following attack for seconds. Wasted seconds were suicide in battle. He jumped high and dealt a kick to the creatureâ€™s chest. His wound screamed in protest. The creature staggered back and let out a hiss. From behind, the horseman drew near. With neither seeing, it produced a bow and placed an arrow on the string. Taking only moments to aim, he fired the arrow. The shaft sped toward them. Before either saw it, the dart struck the creature in the chest. The thing staggered back, emitting a noise that sounded like rocks breaking apart. Perplexed, Dullahan stared at the feathered shaft sprouting from the creatureâ€™s body. Dullahan had learned to take advantage of every weakness his opponents displayed. Life was a battle, and life showed no mercy. The creature was defenseless for only a moment. A moment was all he needed. His feet feverishly diminished the gap between himself and the creature. A grin spread across his face and his eyes narrowed upon his prey. He swung the hammer. It ripped through the air. The metal head struck the creature in the skull. It was too slow to block. The blow shook Dullahanâ€™s arm, he could feel it vibrate up to his shoulder. With a flash of blinding light and much heat, the creatureâ€™s head burst asunder. Within moments, he regained his sight and withheld the devastation. The creatureâ€™s head had erupted, gushing out its gore. The top half of its head was shattered completely, scattered about. Its jaw still remained, hanging lifelessly from strands of tattered flesh. Its life-blood steamed and sizzled on the dirt and gave off a rotten stench. Dullahan stood over the creature for a moment, regarding his work. It was thoroughly dead. He breathed a breath of satisfaction. â€œWhat are you?â€ he asked the lifeless form before him. And then something else came to mind. The horseman! He whipped himself around, brow furrowed, legs bent in a defensive stance and hammer poised to strike. The horseman came trotting up, his cloak and loose clothing swaying about. His hands he upraised, empty, palms open and toward Dullahan. His bow had been returned to the sling on his back. Dullahan lowered his hammer slowly and his face softened, his stance did not change, though. â€œI have no quarrel with youâ€ the horseman began, â€œand we havenâ€™t the time to start one now.â€ â€œWho are you?â€ Dullahan replied, hesitating for a moment. For no reason he could comprehend, he felt no threat from this man. â€œMore will come,â€ the horseman gave a nod to the recent corpse. â€œWe need to go.â€ Dullahan looked at the corpse, and the other fissures, burning brightly. â€œGo where?â€ He was too confused to think, to decide on some course of action. â€œYou had the dream, did you not?â€ He stated it so bluntly, as if he were commenting on some article of clothing Dullahan were wearing. The dreams, he didnâ€™t want to remember them. The pain, flames, the darkness. He could not remember a time he did not live in constant fear of them. For a moment, his face became limp and his gaze strayed to the red sky. The man knew how to wield a bow well, and already had the opportunity to kill Dullahan. His back had been turned, exposed. And he had nothing left, only his hammer in hand. â€œWhat choice do I have?â€ he thought to himself. Then Dullahan noticed there was another horse, without a rider, but fully bridled and saddled. The horseman offered his hand. He helped pull Dullahan up onto the horse, and when he settled, they took off galloping. â€œWe need to get away from here, quickly. It is not safe,â€ was all the man offered. Forlorn, he looked back to where his house had been, and recalled what had past. He looked down to his hands. They were the same murderous hands they had been before. The same hands and the same man, eager to deliver death to his foes. Years of solitude had not changed them, or him. He cursed his hammer for what it made him become, and blessed it for keeping him alive. For some time they rode in silence, speeding towards the East.