The door was stone. Ancient stone, with dark markings engraved upon it that twisted in unnatural shapes the eye couldn’t quite follow. Before it Fallacy the Fair stood bound between two stakes embedded into the ground. Her arms and legs were stretched into a star shape, muscles pulled taught. Her heaving bosom glistened with sweat, despite the chill of the chamber. She couldn’t remember how she had ended up in her current position. The last thing she could recall was being in her house with her mother, and a shadow falling over them.
She heard footsteps behind her, and a low voice spoke. “The Door must be opened. He will walk the earth once more, and feed upon the souls who dwell upon it.”
Fallacy’s eyes widened, and she struggled against the bonds as the cold bite of metal entered her back. She screamed in agony as the blade moved down, slicing open her skin. A pause, and then something entered her body through the gash and groped around inside her. The light began to fade as she felt a tearing sensation.
The last thing she saw before succumbing to the darkness were her own lungs flung over her shoulders, still heaving as she gasped desperately for air…
~ * ~
“Behold. The Dark.” Mud gestured at the tunnel entrance that led down into an inky blackness. “A place of menace, gloom and Evil. No one who has ventured into it has returned to tell their tale. Some say it’s a bastion for lost souls. Others say the Darkest Lords of Hell were imprisoned here when the Light caught them, where they catch you and feast upon your spirit for eternity. I believe it’s Nothingness. A place in the universe that remained unfilled by the Creator when he was bringing All into being.”
The group looked doubtfully at the blackness.
“A good place to throw the garbage though,” said Percy brightly.
“So, how many people have been lost down there then?” asked Redthorne.
The White Troll looked uncomfortable for a moment. “Er. Well. I think a half-elf escaped down here once. A thief if I recall correctly.”
Dreth sighed. “So ‘No One who has ventured into it’ consists of one thief, probably running away from Kevin in a feeding frenzy?”
Mud sniffed. “We trolls aren’t renowned for keeping records you know. Anyway, you asked me to show you the way, there you are. Have a good time.” He turned away and marched off back towards the Troll Caverns in a huff.
“I can cast a light spell,” said Redthorne, once he had gone.
“No need,” said Dreth. He held out a hand and looked at Percy, who dug around in the sack and pulled forth a couple of torches.
“A light…” Percy looked around as column of fire roared up from the floor next to him. “Oh, that’s handy,” he said, He plunged the torches into it, igniting them just as the flames died down to reveal a figure.
“A demon!” said Redthorne, stepping backwards and raising his hands.
“Oh, it’s only an imp. What do you want short stuff?” asked Cuthbert.
“I’m here to stop you.” The imp, a knee high red creature with a traditional demonic tail, stood self-importantly in their path. The circle of fire guttered out around him.
“Ha! Even zombies can take imps out!” Percy stepped forward.
“Wait! I command you!” The imp held out a hand.
“What’s the holdup here?” asked Dreth. “What do you want imp?”
“Are you Dreth?” asked the small devil.
“What’s it to you?”
“I’m here on behalf of the Management. You are hereby ordered to desist from your unauthorized movements and return to your posts. Failure to do so will have…” the imp paused for dramatic effect. “Consequences.”
Cuthbert looked at Percy. “Isn’t that a sort of board game?” he asked.