This is the second chapter of my latest work in progress. I don't have a title yet, so for now it's just "the Nephilim book." You can also click here to watch me read it aloud.
The region would go by many names. Today, it is somewhere in the Levant, but neither that name nor its language of origin existed back then. Cadiel only ever had one name for it. It was the only name that meant anything to him: “Mine.”
Rolling hills shone gold and green with his crops. His slaves swung their tools through the air, or hauled their baskets and picked, adding a rhythm to the scene which pleased his eye. He sat on his massive throne, with platforms raised along the sides so that more slaves still could stand and cool him with fans. His throne was as tall as ten men, and still it was built for only a quarter of his true height, as was the rest of the palace. Whenever he heard grumblings of insurrection, Cadiel would demonstrate this fact.
He let them trade with each other. Build homes. Raise families. It was, as humans would call it, a “kingdom.” Still, every soul knew their role in serving him. For many, it was somewhere in the process of preparing and serving him food, which he would not eat. For some, it was guarding against bandits too petty to merit his attention. For a few adventurers, it was going out to gather gold and jewels for his collection. For the concubines, it was feeding his other appetite.
It was rare for him to see his cousins. More often, he heard rumors. Nearby was Moloch, who demanded his followers burn their children inside a giant, bronze bull. The rest had been scattered far by the flood, which could not kill them—only rob them of that which they once lived for. Across the world were legends of witch queens and demon kings whom men could not kill, who demanded unspeakable sacrifices from their subjects. Though the stories came embellished, Cadiel always knew the work of his cousins. The hunger wanted such stories to spread. It rejoiced in humanity’s fear. Cadiel kept his own work simple: a sacrifice of one firstborn son under each dark moon, followed by a song of loyalty from the parents. He found the ritual tedious, but it kept the hunger satisfied. Beyond that, he let his subjects live in peace.
When he did meet his cousins, he attacked first without question. The hunger expected as much, and it roared with encouragement when he did. Cadiel was a brutal fighter. His secret was that he never let himself grow to his full size, even though he goaded his opponents to do just that. He observed that a Nephilim at full size can fight only with their rage, since their mind is lost. He learned to fight with his rage and his mind both, keeping himself balanced at the point of perfect lethality. Though the hunger questioned this method at first, it praised him after his most recent conquest. Just a month ago, Cadiel had consumed another of his cousins, confirming his position as the largest and most fearsome of the Nephilim. He was still sorting through the spoils of that victory when he met the woman who would change everything: Tirzah.
Cadiel liked to greet each new concubine individually, after the older ones taught them his favorite dance. He sat, in his pleasure chambers, on a chair much smaller than his throne, but still larger than the chair of a man. For this ceremony, he kept himself at merely the size of five men. When it was Tirzah’s turn, she entered and glared at him. He enjoyed the hot rage in her eyes. He knew from experience how it would color their coitus later, in the next chamber, when he would adjust down to his little human-sized bed. That she kept her eyes on him throughout the dance did not bother him. He only smiled, nodding to encourage her ferocity. Even with her rage, she seemed to have learned the dance perfectly. She didn’t miss a beat until the very last measure, when we she was nude and straddling his leg. That was when she stopped and spoke.
“You disgust me,” she said.
“I know,” said Cadiel.
“And you take pleasure in it,” she said, “because my disgust for you matches your hatred for yourself.”
Cadiel frowned. She wasn’t wrong, but he wasn’t sure he wanted his concubines to have that sort of awareness. He moved to gently brush her off his leg, but she clenched in place.
“I will do what you say for now because I want to live,” she said. “When I find a way to escape, I will take it. You do not own me.”
“Please,” said Cadiel, “I try to make life pleasant here. There’s no need for that.”
“It is pleasant only for those willing to accept a living death, including yourself.”
Cadiel lifted her and brought her face to his.
“The curse of the Nephilim leaves me no other option. Do you not see my ruined flesh?”
Tirzah shook her head.
“I see a creature who has chosen his own misery.”
Cadiel set her down and motioned for the guards to take her away. He did not sleep that night, even after making every attempt to tire himself with the other concubines.