Sylvester awoke to the sound of wolves howling. He thought about asking his mother about this, but then he realized that his mother was dead, and had been for many years, and that he was not a boy but a man, and that he was not lying in a comfortable bed, but a miserable piece of ground.
And was possibly on top of a body. Or a tree root.
He hoped it was a tree root. He really did.
"Hello," he muttered dimly. "Hello, is... there anyone to help? Anyone?"
"Sylvester?" came a familiar voice. "Is that you?"
Sylvester tried to move his head and immediately regreted it. "Yes. Yes. Who... who is...?" Justinian Sigma loomed over him, wearing a black cloak trimmed with gold. "Ah. Hello, Justinian."
"Hello," said Justinian softly. "It's... been awhile..."
Sylvester shut his eyes. "I suppose it has." He coughed. "Ummm... Justininan... I... you won, didn't you, yes?"
"The Cthoniques and their allies won, yes," said Justinian.
Sylvester winced. "Sir Georges was right--the Seven did more than enough as it was..." He opened his eyes. "Is he...?" Justinian remained silent. "Never mind," muttered Sylvester. "Knew the answer anyway." He sighed. "Justinian--I... what... why has this happened?"
Justinian stared at him for a moment. "Because there are evil men in this world," he said at last. "And Amfortas is among the worst of them."
Sylvester lay there for a moment. "It sounds so... ridiculously simple when you put it that way."
"Sometimes, the world gives one an island of simplicity in the ocean of complexity," said Justinian. "Amfortas is one of those."
"I suppose..." Sylvester gave a shout. "No! Not you! Not now!"
Justinian glanced around. "What? Sylvester what is...?"
The Stylite approached Sylvester's side. "Ahhh, now," said Nitre, softly, "do not be so nervous." He kneeled at Sylvester's side. "Why it is time for you and I to play..."
"Get back from him, creature," came a deep voice.
The cloaked figure rose, and stared at the approaching form of Mansemat Cthonique. "What care you for this boy, Dark Lord?"
"I dislike watching men loot bodies," said Mansemat, as he drew Murgleys. "Now, back, thing."
Nitre paced around the Dark Lord, like a beast of prey. "Or what, Dark Lord? You know not with what you deal, Cthonique."
Justinian glanced around nervously. "Sir, what is..."
Mansemat raised his left hand. "Do not worry, Sigma." He stared at the Stylite. "I have an idea, thing." With a sudden slash, he sent a gust of wind at Nitre that cut the veil that covered his face. The Stylite gave a muted scream as the veil fell, clutching his right cheek.
"You've cut me! You've cut my face!" whimpered Nitre.
Mansemat stared at the rotted, skeletal ruin. "I am amazed you can tell," he said softly.
Nitre stared at Mansemat with his strange, half-rotted eyes full of hate. "There will be reckoning for this, Dark Lord. The Tower does not forget. The Darkness will not survive the Purifying, Perfect Light..." And then there was a shimmer, and he was gone.
Mansemat took a deep breath. "How is your...?"
"Former brother," muttered Justinian. "Gone now. But somehow I think he went better than he would have if you hadn't been here." He bit his lip. "What... was that?"
"Somehow, I think that's the real threat," said Mansemat. "Or at least, a portion of it."