The tower rises above a field of blood red sand beneath a sunless sky. The black stones that form its bulk lack any tool marks and fit together almost seamlessly. Black lightning strikes the black stones and seems to add a hum to the oppressive air. I walk around the base looking for a way into the tower, but there is nothing; No openings I can see for as far as my sight will go, no features other than unrelenting black to the parapet at the top.
The smell of death floats on the wind and I breathe deep. It calls to me in a way that I fear. It demands my subservience and when I refuse it adds a voice to its demands.
“Why do you resist me?” It asks in a sibilant voice.
“Because I can.”
“Just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should. Doesn’t your moral compass tell you that?”
“If I always gave in to my desires, a poor specimen of the light I would be.”
“There is no light here, Water Shine.”
“That’s no longer my name.”
“True, Water Shine doesn’t have the ring to it of your true name, nor does it even match up to your taken name. That is a thing of brutality at odds with your intelligence, though, don’t you think?”
“Says one who would have the brute and not the scholar.”
“I will have you either way. You are destined to fall to me just as Overkill did. Each and every member of CrIsis will eventually be mine and then darkness can consume the world as it was always meant to.”
“I’m no member of this ‘CrIsis’ whoever they are.”
“Contrary to your current belief, you are destined to be. I can see the threads of fate just as easily as my opponents.”
“This isn’t Ma’ip.”
“No, it is another pantheon’s underworld. I find it soothing to hide myself here away from their prying eyes.”
“I’ll be waking up now.”
“No, you won’t. If I choose not to allow it, then you’ll never wake.”
“There have been rumors abounding that the gods of the pantheon have bound themselves to an agreement. If I am what you claim, one of these champions, that means you can’t affect me directly, doesn’t it?” I say with a smirk.
“You are not protected yet, my little stone, and as such you are open to my influence. I give you time to consider my offer before I simply destroy you and move to another. Here is a token to remember me by,” he says and pulls a branding iron from thin air beside him.
I try to move away from him, by I find I no longer have control over my own muscles. He lays the brand across my skin and the pain is greater than any I have ever felt, as if it goes all the way into my soul. When he finally releases me I can see the shape of an eye on my forearm. The blackened skin oozes a bit of blood, but then quickly closes and heals.
“Now you may wake,” he says.
I awaken to the sound of snoring, my constant companion in the pens. The warmth of the other slaves isn’t enough to banish the chill that has suddenly taken me as I smell the scent of burnt flesh.
Image from Deviant Art