Wings Of Sacrifice

Following an unknown period of time having passed, Salazar realises that all the faces of his kind are turned toward him, staring, waiting. He blinks out of his daze, his memories and meanderings, and straightens himself ready for the part he must play.

The stone altar is stained with blood. At one time it had been used by a coven of witches to practice necromancy. No such abomination will be undertaken this day. Only fools intertwine themselves in such madness. Though, there will be bloodletting performed as part of this ritual. Not of some innocent or sacrifice however. Instead, Salazar will let a tiny amount of his own blood. It will be to seal the ritual. To bind it the spell so that he may ascend. There is no other way.

Salazar moves forward. He feels slow. It’s as if there is resistance. Plus, the world around him seems to be running at a fraction of its normal speed. It’s as though he is flowing outside of the normal passage of time. It’s odd, but he continues on regardless. Nothing is going to stop him. Not after he’s made it this far, has waited this long, has lost what he has. If he was to give up now he would not recover, he knows that, and as a result he might be inclined to see if he could end himself. He isn’t sure if that is possible, and has never heard of a Firstform attempting such a thing previously. Man, yes. For them it seems to be common place. Salazar does not understand why. He doubts he ever will. It is but one of the many differences between Firstforms and man. Those differences could be why they have never been capable of coexisting with one another. If that’s true then it is a human problem, his hears himself say. Why is that, he queries himself intrigued. Because man has never managed to coexist with any species where as Firstforms, we have. We have existed alongside the dwarves, the elves, hobgoblins, fairies, pixies, wolves, bears, and all others that call this world home. Salazar has to admit that it is true. Though the thought is his own it does surprise him that he is being this frank. I’ve been in human form too long, he tells himself. It happens, and the end result is Parfin. After all, the longer you stay as a human the more you end up thinking like them. Salazar doesn’t understand why that is. Yet, it is why he keeps out of the way of man, so he may exist in the form that is his truest. Sadly, over the preceding months he’s been forced to stay in the form he is confined within now. Not for much longer, Salazar thinks with a smile.

With that the dark haired man dressed in black without shoes on his feet morphs and changes. He grows more than eight times his human size, his skin turning to black scales. Then his wings unfurl and spread wide as he stands on his mighty hind legs. His long neck stretches skyward to let out a cry of relief. Being in human form always leaves him feeling crushed. He would liken it to being crammed into a space too small to be called comfortable. Finally, his tail flops to the ground, which shudders and rumbles in response while his massive jaws gnash.

With Salazar once more in his truest form he finishes his plod to the altar. It takes three massive steps. Around him countless other Firstforms roar and growl as they too transition into their truest forms. Not all partake. Salazar is saddened by that. He had hoped they would all join him in embracing what they were born as. Had he more time he might query as to why they do not wish to join in the relief of being oneself once more. Perhaps not knowing is for the best, he hears himself say. He isn’t sure he agrees with that.

Now at the altar, Salazar spin on one of his hind legs so that he is facing those gathered in this place. It’s a miracle it was rediscovered after having been lost for so long. It was not he who uncovered its presence. Salazar does not dare dwell in the surrounding lands. There are too many human here. It’s saturated with them, which is why the air being clean is such a marvel he had not been expecting and can scarcely come to grips with.

“With this rite we shall all ascend to fix this world and bring eternal peace. No race will be hunted or cast from their home ever again.” Many of the gathered Firstforms cheer at Salazar’s words and a great deal of those cheers come out in the form of roars and rumbles. They are deep in pitch, the loudest of the bunch but don’t quite drown out, somehow, the cheers of the Firstforms still in human form. It’s remarkable and fantastical to be present for this, Salazar feels.

“Brothers, sisters, this is the beginning. With this ritual…” Salazar slashes one of his long claws across the scales of the palm of his other fore hand. He winces in response. Never has he rended his own flesh before. It feels strange, a slight sting. Somehow not the same as when he’d been stabbed by the spears of man. He can recall those dull aches with disturbing ease.

His heart thunders in response. His pulse quickened now. It’s still slow. Firstform pulses seldom move out of a steady pace even under the most drastic of circumstances and when they do it means death is close. Salazar had not believed it until Sinita and the day he… He does not finish the thought. It hurts too much to do so. Sadly, this ritual cannot undo what has been done. Those lost will remain so. At one time, when he had been deepest in his grief, he had considered fixing that. It would not have been fruitful, at least not if he had wanted her returned to him as she had been. Necromancy rarely works how the instigator would wish. Rather, what you are awarded is a twisted version of what once was. Salazar had, ultimately, concluded that he did not want a thrall wearing her skin. Not after seeing the effects of necromancy first hand. So, in many ways that seemed worse than the loss itself and why he headed down the path that has led him to this very moment. He’s thankful he did.

Salazar closes his fist tight. His claws dig into his wounded flesh with a bite that sends the Firstform version of a snarl across his mandibles as he cries, “…we will ascend!” His fist shakes as the words leave his parted jaws.

More roaring, growling cries mixed with those of human shouts fill the air. As they do many of the human forms morph as their owners shift out of their current forms and into their truest ones. A smile tears across Salazar’s face in response. It strikes him he has not seen this many of his species together in one place in… He cannot recall. For far too long is the best he can manage.

Blood, thick and dark, drips from Salazar’s mighty clenched fist that is formed from three fingers and a thumb. Each of the digits is tipped with a claw capable of rending flesh from bone. “How thankful I am that Firstforms never indulged in waging wars against themselves.” Salazar mutters before adding, “If only man could be so reserved.” With that a bright glow erupts from inside Salazar’s clenched fist. At first he does not see it. He is the only one who does not. All those gathered before him are incapable, by contrast, of pulling their eyes away from the sight and so stare intently at the glow; the rays that escape from a myriad of differing points. The glow grows and intensifies until it is a blinding light. Yet, somehow the Firstforms still manage to keep their attention transfixed. Salazar is aware of the rays now. It would be impossible for him not to be. Some lance ever higher into the sky. It’s impossible, Salazar thinks, or at least it should be because it suggests the sky has no end. That exhilarates the black dragon as his amber eyes twinkle and shine unlike they have ever previously in all his days upon this world.

Meanwhile, other beams of brilliant yellow, which originate from Salazar’s fist, burrow through thick layers of cloud. The rays burn the clouds away; it takes only seconds, and reveals the sea blue sky that is ever present.

The black dragon does not consider the dangers that might befall them for this is a beacon; there is no other word for it. Rather, he is lost to the marvel unfolding before him. Minutes pass but the rays no longer grow in intensity. It is then that Salazar recalls the next phase of the ritual and turns toward the altar. With the source of the rays hidden by his body the other Firstforms shake themselves free of their transfixation and glimpse Salazar as he slams his fist down onto the altars surface. His palm opening as it slaps down upon the largely smooth cool surface. The stone cracks in response and all while rays continue to bleed out from around the edges of Salazar’s hand and where it meets the stone.

The crack ripples and shudders turning into a cleft and then a fault which tears a jagged diverging path until it reaches ground where its myriad points stop for seemingly no discernible reason at all.

Salazar knows he is in territory undocumented and so can do nothing but watch whatever might ensue. In truth there is not much to see. Rather, it is what he soon feels and that is a burning sense of power, energy, joy, determination and focus. It wells and swirls inside him and is unlike anything he has ever felt before in his all his life. Remarkable, he thinks as a tingle floods every fibre of his being. If it had come at any other time he thinks he’d want shot of it but not now, this is different. It feels different. He’d call it purpose; that’s the only way he can explain it. Not bestowed purpose, dictated by another, but something else entirely. He can’t explain it beyond that but it is without doubt awe-inspiring, fascinating and… Suddenly Salazar realises he is no longer standing with his feet on solid ground. Rather, he’s airbourne. His head whips around confused and his confusion only grows when he realises his wings are neatly folded at his back. His brow furrows, well as much as it can when he’s in dragon form. “What is this?” He asks allowed not meaning too. “Ascension.” Is the response he is met with. He can’t call what spoke a voice. To do so does not seem at all correct for some reason. Rather, he feels more akin to a presence. Not one in his head, no not at all. It’s more like a presence on the wind, the breeze. It is now that Salazar realises that there is a breeze present. There had not been previously. The air had been still, the clouds static. He realises they too are gone. “Command and reform, and do so from dusk ‘til dawn.” The breeze whispers. Salazar has questions, a myriad of them but it’s too late, the presence is gone. That realisation saddens him for reasons he cannot explain and then the howls of pain, agony and slaughter begin.

In response to them, Salazar’s mighty wings open in an instant. They are followed by a roar that leaps from between his parted fanged mandibles, while flashes of something too fast fill his eyes. It looks harrowing and terrifying but is completed with sick perfection by the screams and cries in his ears. Then they are gone, both the sights and the sounds. Salazar is lost; confused but beats his wings softly until he floats back to ground where he comes to rest. His black scales shine now, they had not done so before, while his amber eyes burn like fire. However, that is not the sum of his change. He is twice the size he had been previously and as a result dwarfs the other Firstforms around him.

“Oh lord, you have ascended. What has this ritual granted you?” One of the Firstforms says. He doesn’t recognise her but they are undoubtedly a female of his species, the tufts of fur mark her out as such as they are possessed by no males.

Unfortunately, Salazar does not know how to answer. He cannot say how he has changed. In fact, he isn’t aware that physically he has. The size difference is lost to him but fully known to all others and so in his mind the changes are entirely internal. “Power…” Is the only response he can give for beyond that there seems to be no words capable of explaining in a manner that any gathered might be able to grasp.

“NOW!” A raucous, strained voice screams at the top of their lungs. Following the cry a hail of spears fly high into the air. Salazar recognises this moment but manages only, “Flee!” before the metal tipped shafts of wood rain down on the clearing.

Many of the Firstforms react too late and are impaled by the thick shafted weapons, but not Salazar. He bats them aside effortlessly with a great deal of finesse and grace. Sadly, in response to his prowess a number of Firstforms ignore the next attack that is unleashed; for they are too busy gazing in wonder at Salazar. He warns them and tells them all to leave this place. A good deal of those gathered and still living obey his command. Quickly they unfurl and then rapidly beat their wings until they are airbourne and capable of leaving the area. Regrettably, that is when a hail of flaming arrows is released. Salazar never heard the order to let them fly loose. Still, even if he had it wouldn’t change his response, or the familiarity he feels for what was moments ago something he glimpsed in a flash, which is to rush toward the attackers. He knows they are man. How they got here, how they knew about this place are beyond hi understanding. Things for another time, he tells himself as he swipes and thrashes. His efforts are rewarded fruitfully as armoured bodies of humans are flung wide into rocks, trees and occasionally over the edge of the rocks so that they can plummet to their deaths. Salazar feels nothing for the carnage he’s is delivering until he spies that others are joining him in his efforts. He roars commands at them demanding they retreat. Some try and make counterpoints but the black dragon will listen to not a single one of them. Alas, some continue to ignore his words as they partake in the slaughter on the mountain. It acts as cover for the escape of their brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, man has brought many weapons to this fight including basilisks aimed skyward that they use to track and then are launch the projectiles from upon the fleeing Firstforms.

Salazar is unaware of this. Even he is was not he would be incapable of preventing the savagery as he continues to tear through the sword, spear, axe, hammer and mace wielding men who throw themselves at him and the few Firstforms still able to resist with reckless abandon. A dozen of his kind have fallen never to get up. They lie impaled, battered, broken and torn in pools of their own blood. It’s a disgusting sight and one that only helps to fuel Salazar’s determination to survive. He doubts he will make it through this even with his new power, for he is only one.  However, it is clear that that is the reason as to how he has prevailed thus far against these odds as all manner of twisted tactics have been used against him. Somehow, thus far each has failed. He backhands a gaggle of armed men aside, their bones shattering as they crash into the rocks. He isn’t sure how the failure has been man’s though.

“FIRE!” Someone screams in the seconds prior to a series of harpoons being launches from tripod mounted crossbows. The barbed shafts spear over Salazar’s back. They miss rending his flesh but then they were never intended to strike him directly. Rather, they gouge into the thick rock to serve as restraints meant to keep him in place. The black dragon chuckles at the naivety of such action before a quick swipe of his muscular tail cleaves the ropes and releases him. Cries and chants erupt, panic is the order of the moment and Salazar takes great pride in being its cause. Then he draws back and unleashes flame. A great funnel of green and blue fire spat from deep at the back of his throat. He can’t remember the last time he unleashed any kind of blast and doing so now feels so foreign to him that it borders on painful. He ignores the sensation as he twists his head from right to left burning all those in his path. His eyes take in the sights in those precious seconds, but what he finds his depressing. All those who had disobeyed him and remained now lie dead. Sadness fills his heart. It feels endless. He curses them for not having listened. He saw this, far too late to avert it, and yet had they heeded his words these fallen brothers and sisters might not have met this fate. Oh why did they not listen?

A fresh group of armoured men try and assault him from the rear. His tail makes short work of them. Several flicks back and forth and they are crushed against the trees or rocks that surround. Then he ends his funnel of fire. All that had been standing in its path have been turned to ash and molten slag. It’s proof of just how much power he wields as a result of the ritual and yet it terrifies him. This is, after all, not how he wanted to reshape the world, in fire and blood. The purpose of this ritual was to hand he and his kind power to fix, not obliterate.

The conclusion he reaches is that he can take no more of this place. Not that he needs to with the enemy desecrated. It would be best to flee before reinforcements. After all, the ritual is over. Only he has ascended, whatever that truly means, and with man having crashed and thwarted plans he must hide for at least awhile. While he does he can make contact to see how many others survived this… event. He wishes to give it no longer name than that and so leaps from the ground, his huge wings beating in the moments before he sores ever higher and then drops into a dive, so that he reaches terminal velocity, that is capable of sending him hurtling off across the sky and away from Mount Vitruvius’ peak.

The black dragon, the air rushing past his head which makes a familiar whooshing sound, manages only a few hundred metres before he gets the feeling that something is wrong. For reasons unknown to him his first reaction is to look down. To his horror below lie Firstform bodies. They litter the terrain far below him. His jaw drops, his eyes glaze… Suddenly, he hears a whistle. Its pitch is new to his ears and so it draws his attention. Just as well as Salazar has but a fraction of a moment to evade, mid-air, a series of massive trunk sized bolts flung from several basilisks below. The first three projectiles he deftly evades. The last he slaps with a quick whip of his tail. That bolt is sent back toward where it originated from. Salazar doesn’t see the result, though he hears it, an almighty crash followed by screams. He smiles, his rage boiling barely beneath the surface. He can fight it no more, which is why he throws himself into a dive-bomb. His fore arms stretched out ahead of him, claws at the ready, his teeth on display as voices call angrily for more basilisks to fire upon the beast. He’s horrified to hear these men call him the beast when they are the murderers, slaughters, savages, barbarians who are late comers to this world. A world they seem so determined to take for themselves, no matter the cost. I’ll show them the error of their ways, Salazar tells himself as he rockets toward the ground below. Several bolts are fired. The first couple shot prematurely, because the crews lost their nerve, go so wide that Salazar never has to consider them in the first place. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the rest and so Salazar is forced to twist, turn and spin to evade them. It works, for the most part. However, a few do tear at his wings or glance across his body creating trough shaped wounds in their wake. He feels the bite of pain them each but ignores it and instead channels the feelings they bring to add to his fury.

Suddenly, he is upon the basilisk crews. His claws slice, swing and cut at the weapons as well as those who wielded them. Screams follow, harrowing and terrified. Salazar ignores every last one. It is only fair that they reap what they did dare to sow. He doubts any of his kind have survived. If he were not the last he might be inclined to slink away and rebuild. But man will never afford him that opportunity, and yet he still can’t understand how they knew. It matters little, just make them pay. He hears him say to himself. Salazar has to cause to argue and so the black dragon does exactly that by unleashing another funnel of blue and green fire. This one is larger than the last. It engulfs all the humans and their weapons. It burns with such ferocity that they do not get the chance to scream in agony. Salazar hates that he feels this way but has to admit he wishes his power was not so effective. He’d prefer the humans to suffer, like they have made him, his kind and so many others with their violence.

When the column of fire ends it is a result of Salazar snapping his jaws closed. Following the dissipation of the smoke he smiles to bear witness to the devastation he has wrought. He can taste the ash on his tongue, while his nostrils, flared and wide, wallow in the stench of acrid charred flesh. The smell is all that suggest anything like humans had ever present for the mounds of ash do not. If not for the odour it could simply have been a small patch of trees the black dragon had incinerated. He is thankful that it was not for these humans deserved this.

Suddenly, Salazar feels several burning sensations and looks down. He’s wounded, his flanks torn and shredded. It’s not enough to end him but he will need to rest, as reckless as this attack of his was, and so be opens his wings. Unsurprisingly, they’re torn but he concludes functional in the seconds prior to him beating them until he is once more airbourne and continuing to rise ever higher up toward the heavens.

Alas, the black dragon capable of shape shifting into a human doesn’t get very far, perhaps eighteen metres in all when he is met with a familiar whistle. It reaches him his ears too late for him to react and as a result his wings are eviscerated by a half dozen basilisk bolts. Salazar roars painfully and begins to lose altitude. It isn’t a plummet but the more he tries to beat his wings the worse the damage to them becomes. Yet, he refuses to accept defeat. Then a couple bolts slam into his body. He was too preoccupied with maintaining his failing altitude to have noticed them. He roars again but this time cannot stay aloft any longer, and so his body plummets. He knows the fall won’t will him. He’s fallen from much greater heights, though he does curse his failings for having not anticipated and prepared for this. These events were not a part of the glimpses he was granted and even if they had been they came too late for alterations to be made. He wonders what the point in this ritual was as all it seems to have done is seal the fate of his species.

Salazar smacks into the ground, it shudders in response and a huge cloud of dirt is thrown into a vaguely domed shape around the point of his impact. He groans and mumbles a response unintelligible as his hind legs kick in a vain attempt to right himself. Sadly, they do not respond in the manner in which they should. The black dragon can already guess why, though does not see the point of looking with the encroaching cheers and cries of joy.

They originate from a large band of armoured humans. He can only guess they are the remainder of those that attacked him and the other Firstforms. There are many more of them than he would ever have expected. It’s like the hunt had never ended.

As the human draw close they level their weapons, spears for the most part, at Salazar. He chuckles, which hurts. He ignores the pain alongside the definite urge he has to cough while feeling the distinct taste of blood in his mouth. He cannot say if the blood is the cause of his urge to cough or not as one particular human steps forward, closer to Salazar than any of the others. As he moves closer he removes his helmet. His hair is very light brown in colour, almost approaching a muddy sort of blond. It marries perfectly with his dark hazel eyes. The smile, wide and proud, is what Salazar cannot stand however. He’d call it smug, self-righteous; the kind only humans are able to posses.

“Do you understand me beast?” The man’s tone is mocking, offensive and why Salazar gives no response. Why should he? There is little point. This is only going to end one way. If the black dragon were further from death he might give one last show of defiance and bite this man in two. He knows he does not have the strength for that. Especially as he feels some of those around him prod and poke with the tips of their spears at his scaled mass. The man makes no effort to command they halt. In truth, he wants his men to taunt and torture the dragon. In his eyes it is what this monster deserves. If he could he’d have ordered they all suffer the same fate. If only they had the time.

“I see you are not inclined to show good manners, unsurprising.” The smiling arrogant man says before turning to watch as several of his subordinate’s part and allow Parfin passage. Salazar’s anger flares enough for a growl to leak from between his lips at the sight of the older Firstform.

“I see you recognise him. He is how you have fallen. You owe the death of your kind to this man. Come Parfin, don’t be shy step closer. After all, you are the mastermind of all that has transpired here today and so it is only fair that you witness the last of this things final moments of life.” The brown haired man utters with a substantial amount of joy that is accompanied by a wave of his arm meant to beckon Parfin.

The old Firstform appearing as a human shuffles forward. His gaze is averted. He desperately does not wish to link eyes with Salazar’s ferociously burning own. He knows he is a traitor, a travesty and that Salazar will be damning him. He can’t say the black dragon is wrong and yet that does not mean he wishes to accept the hate his dying brother feels compelled to pour upon him.

Salazar is younger; he doesn’t know how hard this world is, even after the death of his mate Sinita he did not wish to accept the changing fortunes in this world. But Parfin had and so to secure his future he dared to betray his species to save himself. Cowardly and craven yes but resourceful, and if there is one thing Parfin has learned about this world it is that you must be resourceful if you wish to outlast the dangers which surround.

“Do you have no words to speak monster?” The brown haired man utters to Salazar who shifts his gaze to the human and away from Parfin. But Salazar doesn’t need to speak, his look says it all. Though, he does mutter a curse upon all those present; Parfin, this man, those who serve him.

“And what of you Parfin, do you have words?”

“Why would I have words Benjamin?” Parfin replies with mock confusion and a deeply furrowed old brow meant to further convey his words and tone.

“Oh I don’t’ know…” Benjamin begins, his head turning skyward so that it may lazily loll about while he pulls the sword from his waist.

Salazar is fully aware of the human’s action and prepares himself for the inevitable jab. It will undoubtedly be a killing blow. However, Salazar is met with no such thing. Rather, Benjamin drives the blade throw Parfin, from back to front. Salazar’s eyes go wide in genuine surprise, as do Parfin’s, who in that moment becomes filled with shock. Right after Parfin turns vaguely toward Benjamin and utters quietly, “Why…?”

“You think I did not know that you are like him, a monster? I did, from the very start. You see you stink of something disgusting.” Benjamin spits in reply.

“How…?” Parfin begins before losing his will to speak as he fights to breathe, as painful as it is to attempt.

“Long enough. But alas you have no need to worry. The ending for this one will be the same. It’s just you Parfin won’t be there to watch it.” With that Benjamin pulls the sword at an angle out of Parfin, whose body is torn almost in two as a result.

Parfin collapses to his knees, uttering about how he is sorry for his actions. However, they are cut short when Benjamin does a quick flurry that culminates in Parfin’s head being cleaved from his neck. Salazar, unwillingly, feels a pang of remorse to witness Parfin die. He knows he should not for he is the Firstform that is the cause of all this death, and yet he was a brother in spite of all the mistakes he must have made. Salazar does not dare contemplate what all of them might have been. Doing so would only result in more pain and sorrow, he is sure.

“Still no words? You are a tough bastard aren’t you? Not that it matters. You die now.” A sick smile tears across Benjamin’s face while a twinkle shines in his eyes.

“Kill!” Is the order issued right after and with it all the men gathered around Salazar drive their spears into his mass. Salazar bellows, snarls, thrashes but he can mange no more than that. It’s futile, inevitable. He had already lost a great deal of blood, too much to not have become weak and so he welcomes his fate. It is so very close now.

Benjamin meanwhile is laughing. It’s a cruel cackle that echoes unnaturally through the air as the Parfin’s blood drips from the tip of his sword. The laugh lasts minutes but ends when Benjamin is sure the black dragon is in its final moments. It is then that he steps forward so that he is alongside one of its large eyes.

“This is not your…” Benjamin begins.

Salazar can imagine what the human is going to say. He’s heard it before. The same, or close to it, was said to his mate Sinita, and had likely been said to every species man has scrubbed one way or another from the face of this world. But time appears to have stopped. Salazar is gazing upon Benjamin waiting, however he is frozen. If he could the black dragon would check on those murdering him. Suddenly something speaks to him and says, “Not yet.”

Salazar doesn’t understand. He has questions, so many questions. He thinks of them all. None are answered. Nothing else is spoken and so Salazar is left to watch as the world begins to grind back into movement once more.

“…world anymore.” Benjamin says at a fifth of the speed he’d been talking at previously. Still, he pulls his sword back. Salazar knows what is coming next and yet is forced to watch it unfold in slow motion. Ultimately, following what feels like years, he concludes that he can bear this torture no more and so rolls his eyes shut, mutters something. Even he is not sure what the words he speaks are; they just felt right for the moment.

Benjamin stabs at the black dragon. The blade stops barely a millimetre from where it began. Benjamin’s brow wrinkles deeply in response and then he looks down. To his shock his sword has not ended the dragon. Rather, his blade is against the surface of stone. The man is confused, enraged and so looks up to find the entire mass that had been Salazar has not only turned to stone but turned to that of a featureless human, stood on its two feet. Benjamin does not understand how or why, though overcome by rage he kicks at the statue. He might not get the opportunity to deal the final blow but he will destroy the black dragon in whatever form it might now hold.

However, instead of the statue going over Benjamin is thrown back a short distance. He snarls in response once on the ground only for a series of screams to fill the air. Benjamin looks all around to see his men collapsing to their knees, gasping for air as blood boils out of their eyes. The sounds are horrifying. Benjamin attempts to scramble away backward sure that this must be some kind of curse. Sadly, his legs do not obey and when he looks down he finds they have turned to liquid, thick and oozing. He screams not out of pain, as he feels none, but out of horror. They last only seconds before he succumbs to convulsions that send him into endless thrashes. They continue until he has obliterated the rear of his own skull.

By the time Benjamin has thrashed himself to death, every man who had been present is also dead. Their bodies, what little is left of them, ring the stone outline of the human form that had once been Salazar Winart. “Prophecy” can be heard on the breeze in the seconds prior to the air becoming too still to be normal. The world around this massacre darkens after when massive chunks of rock and thick vines vault upwards to create an entranceless dome over the carnage as if it never existed.

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