Colin rolled his eyes and blushed as he sat at the dinner table overhearing his mother fussing over the pumpkin pie she had pulled from the oven. Jennifer stood next to her and laughed as his mom prattled on.
“And then, of course, there was the time he tumbles down the stairs in front of us, naked as a jay-bird and says, ’Momma I’m clean!”. His mother laughed as she pulled the oven mitt from her hand.
“Too much! Colin, you were so wretched, your poor mum deserves a medal.” Jennifer said and winked at him.
“Yeah, she deserves something,” Colin mumbled and glanced about the room. Their little apartment was already dressed with holly and pumpkin-scented candles. A box of Christmas decorations had been pushed to the side, awaiting its grand reopening. Things had almost become normal with the advent of the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Now when do you expect your parents to arrive dear?” His mother continued.
“Well, Dad’s a bit of a tortoise so—”
“Don’t even get me started on that, Colin has cement in feet in the mornings, why—” Lane paused, lost in mid-thought. “Now what was I about to do? I swear I dropped ten IQ points when I was sick.”
“Mom, the toothpicks are in the third drawer on the left,” Colin called out.
“Ha! Well, wouldn’t you know it? I swear you’ve got a sixth sense about you.” Lane shook her head and pulled the toothpick box from the drawer before taking one and placing it in the center of the pie. “Oh, good. It cooked right this time.”
Jennifer giggled and discreetly turned her head to him to silently mouth, “You’re a weirdo.”
Colin smiled knowingly. In time she would come to understand. He had accomplished more than he ever thought possible in that world, so why not here?
Neither success nor failure is final.
The words flashed in his mind and he paused.
The old man’s shop was gone the day Colin returned to the marina, but a part of him knew that it would be. He had hoped to touch base with the sage one last time but like the mist that surrounded the harbor on that fateful night, he was nowhere to be found. This, at least, felt like a final word of encouragement from Potter, or was it a warning? The question lingered in Colin’s mind long after the meal was served.
* * * * * * * *
The Magister of Slaughter ran his elongated pale fingers across the blackened wall until they came to chains that would lift the metal gate up into its reaches. His empty eye sockets had long been sewn shut but he knew the room well enough. Behind him, he heard the shuffle of many feet that could only mark the entrance of the Sload, half-men, half-beast that served the Black Throne through mindless labor. He remembered they resembled mole-like creatures, nearly as blind as he but strong and resilient. They were some of the few servants of the Dark One that could withstand his presence.
The Sload carried the twisted and battered form of a man into the room and tied him to a large wooden wheel that sat upright on its side and faced the cavernous darkness that lay just beyond the gate.
The corpse smelled of rot and the Sload cursed and spat as they fastened the body at the wrists and ankles to the device.
The magister smiled. Though the smell was horrid, he could take some solace that his once great and mighty contemporary was now nothing more than a sack of rotting flesh.
“Leave us.” The magister croaked and the Sload quickly shuffled from the room. He moved forward to the corpse and ran his fingers across the man’s face. Pausing to rest them on his sagging eyelids. “You shall miss these brother. I do not envy what is in store for you.”
The magister turned around to face the gateway and pulled the chain, opening the iron portal, before securing it to a wall hook. His feet stepped forward to a ledge he knew dropped into an eternal abyss. He took a breath and moaned loudly to signal across the great expanse. After all the air had left his lungs he stopped and waited.
A resounding chorus of inhuman screams responded. The room shook violently. The Magister steadied himself as he felt structure around him move, the stones of the walls and floor quivered as they were ripped from their foundations within the great tower but somehow the room itself stayed intact.
The magister could feel the chill of wind rushing against his face as the room moved forward into the darkness, floating across the eternal chasm.
The tower of the Jagged Tooth defied natural law, space and time served only the Dark one here, just as his very presence defied the Maker’s. The room finally slowed and stopped. Hovering in the darkness.
A great mouth pressed itself against the gateway and the magister immediately stepped back. He remembered the one time he had seen the master and knew the rows of teeth that lined his mouth were sharp and wickedly long. A giant forked tongue salivated and slid across his teeth.
“His body was reclaimed from the wastes as you commanded, Lord” the Magister bowed low and stepped to the side of the gateway.
The giant lips moved and within the guttural echo of his voice, the Magister could hear the cries of millions of souls that had been swallowed.
“Live again!” the Dark Lord’s voice bellowed.
The body twisted and writhed on the table as if it were possessed and then with a gasp, Dagon awoke.
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