Photeianos blinked. Once to wake himself up. Twice to clear his vision. Three times in disbelief. He was tied down. Leather straps kept him stuck to a large table. The sort of table a Rethan might be operated on. All around him was a familiar but not really familiar room, filled with equipment he vaguely remembered seeing before. As if he’d last seen this room from a very different angle.
Something moved behind him. Something familiar.
Suddenly, Photeianos realised where he was. This was where he had kept his… former friend Elkay. While he was in a coma. A room built into his old mansion, which he’d vacated once he lost his position of High General. A position he lost to Elkay.
The being moved again. It looked like Elkay. But was Elkay really vindictive enough to do to Photeianos what Photeianos had done to him? If one had asked him yesterday, he would have said no. But now Photeianos was getting concerned.
“Elkay, what is going on?”
The being didn’t reply. It was waltzing around the room, inspecting every nook and cranny.
Photeianos was getting worried. Maybe Elkay had snapped. Maybe all that power had gotten to his head. The same way it had gotten to his own head.
“Elkay, are you alright?”
Still no reply. Elkay, assuming it was Elkay, was now inspecting a set of knives and other cutting utensils. Those weren’t there before, were they? This was no good. Photeianos was going to have to try and reach Elkay’s kind, caring, logical side. Otherwise he might end up dead.
“Elkay, I am sorry for everything I did to you.”
The creature seemed interested this time.
“You don’t mean that.”
The voice sounded like Elkay. But not quite. Slightly off. A tad too deep. The creature though stepped into view. It was Elkay but not Elkay. As if he’d been bathing in shadows or something.
“I do mean it!” Photeianos protested. “Elkay, what is going on? What are you doing to me? Why have you tied me up?”
“Because you have been acting evil lately. And you do not mean your apologies. If you had meant them, you would not have started that little cult of yours…”
Photeianos blinked. How did Elkay know about that? It was all strictly confidential. Only members of the Demi-Deitic Dominion knew. And there were only thirty members currently. Someone had spilled. But chances were, Photeianos was never going to find out. Wait, why was Elkay not… punishing him via official channels? He was always a Rethan who went by the letter of the law. This was not like Elkay to do this.
“Elkay, please. I am sorry.”
“Maybe you should apologise to Elkay in person,” the creature smiled as it wandered into view. Now that Photeianos could see him, it was more obvious this being wasn’t Elkay. It physically looked like him, but its eyes were cold and black, occasionally twinkling with what looked like stars.
“Who… who are you?” Photeianos gasped.
“It does not matter who I am, but why I am here. Do you remember a certain somevok called Serenios?”
Photeianos blinked. Serenios was the Rethan who persuaded him to start the DDD. A quarter-Deitic being, his grandfather was a full Deitic of unknown origin.
“What about him?”
“He’s dead. We killed him. Sacrificing younglings is a bad thing to do, don’t you think? He will no longer be doing that. Nor will he be deceiving minds, stealing from others or attempting to drug innocent beings in an attempt to rape them.”
“Shush. I am giving you an opportunity to repent for your sins, to cease your evil actions and to live a true life. No more Deitic stuff. No more cults. Live a normal, average life, free from the influence of Stasis.”
“Or what?” Photeianos tried to stop himself from saying that, but said it anyway. Sometimes he wished he was less forthright.
“The alternative is us painting the streets with your entrails.”
Photeianos blinked. He remained silent, unsure what to say. The creature smiled, then disappeared in a puff of smoke. As the smoke faded away, the binds holding Photeianos down suddenly loosened.
Not being one to count the rings of a gifted tree, Photeianos decided to get out of there as fast as he could.