Chapter 1: The Trap

2.1K 14 11

Whenever you hear my name, you always think: "Ooh, Skulduggery Pleasant, he's the good guy, he always saves the world, he's devilishly handsome, etc." Admittedly the last part is quite obviously true, but that's the only part that is. At one point I was the bad guy. I was determined to obliterate the world as opposed to save it. I was once the sick, twisted, still devilishly handsome, Lord Vile. It's a very long and complicated story, but it involves me so I'll tell it anyway. 

The war with Mevolent was still raging on. There was him and his gang, ever vigilant in their quest to bring the Faceless Ones back, and then there was us, determined to prevent it. There was no middle ground, with the obvious exceptions of a few parties who'd wished to remain neutral. I didn't take it personally; China Sorrows never got involved in anything if it didn't directly affect her. 

That night, The Dead Men (as we liked to call ourselves as an inside joke) were having one of their tactical meetings. Only we'd usually end up discussing tactics for about a minute before it descended into chaos. Not the kind of chaos we were facing outside; the good chaos. The kind of chaos that only a group of best friends can create. This meeting was the only exception. For the first time ever, we were being deadly serious. We felt that we were close to making a breakthrough, and so we had to remain focused. As I walked into the tent, Ghastly was already midway through one of his trademark rousing speeches. 

"... and now that Vengeous is out of the picture due to a Mr Skulduggery Pleasant..." He turned and winked at me. 

"Oh, stop!" I feigned embarrassment. "That was meant metaphorically. What I actually meant was: "By all means do go on about how great I am."" 

"Yes, thank you. Anyway, now that the ever-egotistical Skulduggery Pleasant has taken care of Vengeous, I feel that there's only one thing separating us from Mevolent himself." 

"Nefarian Serpine." I pronounced the name with as much bitterness as I could muster. To say I disliked him was a severe understatement. Along with Baron Vengeous, Serpine was one of Mevolent's highest ranking henchmen. The difference between them was that whereas Vengeous was fairly sane and therefore predictable, Serpine had more screws loose than a cheap wardrobe, and so nobody could tell what he was going to do next. Not to mention the fact that he didn't seem to find me the least bit amusing. I mean, let's be brutally honest here, I am hilarious. Ask anybody. Yet old Misery-Guts Serpine fails to see how funny I am. 

"Yes." Ghastly continued. "Nefarian Serpine. One of the infamous Two Generals. Possibly our biggest threat, besides the obvious. Owing to his questionable mental health, we have no idea what he could be planning. There are no boundaries to what he'll do to get through to us. Skulduggery in particular." He turned to me. "Listen. Whatever he does, whatever anybody says, you need to keep focused. We all know how you can get when you're angry." 

I knew Ghastly only had my best interests at heart, but he did tend to not let me do anything fun. And by fun, I mean hitting people. And, to be honest, I REALLY wanted to hit Serpine. So, against my better judgement, I skulked off to Serpine's castle. We had a past history and I wanted to be the one to take him down. 

As I entered, I should have been alarmed by the lack of security. I must have only taken out fifteen Hollow Men before I was able to negotiate my way through the castle freely. When I reached his "lair", I paused. I could hear voices from the other side of the door. The logical side of me tried to warn me that I was probably walking straight into a trap, but the other side of me quite honestly didn't care. I pondered which of my skills I could use to discretely pick the lock and sneak in, before I blew the door off its hinges. Serpine turned around, but not in surprise. He faced me with an expression of impatience. 

"Mr Pleasant. At last. As you can imagine, I've been expecting you. I brought a few guests along who I'm sure you'll be overjoyed to see here." He flicked a switch, and as the room lit up I wanted to destroy the psychotic sorcerer in front of me. There, bound to the wall, were my wife and child. He removed his hand from his pocket. It was covered in his own blood. I composed myself enough to be able to make one of my world-renowned quips. 

"Oh Nefarian, I thought I told you, never run with scissors." He wasn't amused. He pointed at my wife and child, and his hand glowed red. At once, they immediately began to scream. Not just any screams, they were screams of pure agony. Serpine twisted his hand and the shrieks intensified. Pure rage burned inside my soul, and I had to fight the urge to kill him there and then. His hand stopped glowing, and my wife and child dropped to the floor, their bodies showing no sign of life. I quickly ran over to them to confirm what I already knew. Serpine had killed them. The anger bubbled over, and I no longer cared. Serpine had tortured my family and then murdered them. I wasn't going to let that go lightly. I could easily have just thrown a fireball at him, but that wouldn't be severe enough for him. I wanted him to suffer. So instead I looked over and grabbed the dagger that was simply lying on the side table. As I started to lose consciousness I realised my mistake. Ghastly's last words to me echoed in my mind: "There are no boundaries to what he'll do to get through to us." One example of that was killing my family to make me lose my focus for a second. And now Serpine had me exactly where he wanted me. 

When I woke up, I found myself bound to a chair. Serpine paced back and forth in front of me. 

"Well well well, the infamous Skulduggery Pleasant, at my mercy. I've been waiting for this day for so long! You know, I've thought of so many ways of killing you over the years, but they were all too quick. It was only recently it dawned on me. I could kill you emotionally before I killed you physically. And you know what? I think I did a pretty good job. You're a mess, Pleasant." I strained to turn my head around to him. 

"Shut. Up." He grinned in his insane way. 

"Struck a nerve, have I?" 

"No, your voice just irritates me." His smile faded. 

"I'm sure I could irritate you more. See this?" He lifted his red right hand. "I can torture you in a thousand different ways with this thing. That's the edge Adept magic has over Elemental. A fireball is nothing compared to what I can do." His hand did that stupid glowing thing again. I cried out, as an invisible knife slashed through my stomach. "If you say please, I might just kill you now and get it over with." I looked him directly in the eyes. 

"No. Do your worst. I don't care anymore." He smiled in sadistic satisfaction. 

"As you wish." Another knife. Then another. In the end he must have gotten bored, because I remember the world going black, and then when I woke up I was floating down a river in a sack, minus my flesh and internal organs. I fished myself out and began the long (and extremely painful) process of reassembling myself. I cast my mind back, trying to determine what had led me here. I remembered Serpine cutting into me, and I remembered dying, but for some reason my soul had remained grafted to my body. Was that one of Serpine's new torture techniques, kill the body then torture the soul? I then remembered two things. Firstly was a lot of burning (which was probably why I was now simply a skeleton), and secondly was why I'd died with a severe hatred of the man who'd made me this way. In the absence of blood, fury gave me the strength to move to where I wanted to go. I vowed to myself that if I ever found out who'd sold my family to him, I would make them suffer the same level of pain I had. And I'd gladly go through everyone on the planet to get to them. 

When I reached my destination, I'd formulated my plan perfectly. I would destroy the world, piece by piece. I also gave myself a new name, because my original taken name died with my body. 

Skulduggery Pleasant was dead. Lord Vile was born.

The Rise Of Vile (A Skulduggery Pleasant Fanfic)Read this story for FREE!