First published back in July of 2001, Clive Barker’s ‘Six Destines’ short stories were penned to accompany the first series of the ‘Tortured Souls’ action figure set, which were sculpted and designed by Todd McFarlane.  This first series included six figures, each of which included their own individual short story which told the reader a little of the mythology behind the figure.  A second series of action figures was later released in October of 2002; however a short story did not accompany any of these later action figures.

The second story in the series is for ‘The Scythe-Meister’ and forms Book Two of the ‘Six Destinies’ titled ‘The Assassin Transformed’.

The ‘Tortured Souls’ stories were later combined into a limited edition hardback entitled ‘Tortured Souls: The Legend Of Primordium’ (2015) that was published Subterranean Press.

DLS Synopsis:
It was the oldest city in the world.  It predated all cities of myth or history.  A city named Primordium built on the edge of a vast desert.  And in the gutters of this great city, young Zarles Kreiger lived out a poor existence, getting by on what little scraps he could get.  For the Emperor Perfetto XI was a greedy and callous ruler who cared little for his population.  And he would happily bask in the luxuries of his wealth whilst so many of Primordium’s inhabitants existed on almost nothing.

And through Kreiger’s harsh upbringing, he became a hard and cruel man.  At the age of just fourteen he came into the employment of the gangster, Duraf Cascarellian, who seeing the young boy’s merciless abilities, eventually made him a hired assassin.  And under the Emperor’s direction, Kreiger killed and mutilated anyone who threatened the Emperor’s rule.  And that’s how he met Lucidique.  The daughter of the Senator that Kreiger had just slaughtered.  A young woman who saw great potential in the merciless assassin, and with a little direction, she believed could single-handedly make Primordium a Republic.  But in order to do so, Kreiger would need to become a willing Supplicant to Agonistes…

DLS Review:
For this second short in the ‘Six Destines’ set of short stories, Barker reveals the first of Agonistes’ Supplicants – in the form of the young hired assassin, Zarles Kreiger, whose pitiful life of hardship was the eventual cast that set his destiny in place.

Working on from the mythos surrounding Agonistes which was set down in ‘Tortured Souls - Six Destinies - Book 1’ (2001), Barker has woven an intricate story drenched in despair and misery, which eventually draws to a suitable and utterly befitting conclusion.  

There’s not an ounce or glimmer of any goodness in the short tale.  Every single aspect of the short is wrapped in a purposeful cloth of gloominess.  And it’s from this that Barker brings out his second character - that of ‘The Scythe-Meister’, who after being transformed by Agonistes, becomes an unrelenting force to bring down the Emperor.

The short story is one hell of a dark and twisted tale, with a much more established storyline behind it than that of the first instalment.  And good god does it push the ‘Tortured Souls’ mythos onwards with a haunting gusto.  It’s down-beaten and down-trodden, with death and despair seeping out from every word.

The short spans across the entire width of one side of the fold-out sheet that comes included with the ‘Tortured Souls’ action figure.

© DLS Reviews

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