How long had it been? One hundred years? Two? Locked deep within the castle vaults, skin burned black and then white by the silver of his sarcophagus, thirst that would not be assuaged by his own blood turning his mind to enraged madness. How long since his screams of pain had turned to bitter silence, how long since the silence had been broken by his own maniacal cackling?

He remembered companions. Barely. What companions had they been. Women whose blood slaked his thirst and woke already fading emotions. Sycophants who pleased him for what he could offer – wealth, the illusion of power, eternity. Dust all of them. Worth less than that in life. No matter, he no longer cared for companionship.

He remembered children. Children of blood who hunted with him in the night, children who had filled the earth with their fascination and their hunger. Children who had fallen to the mobs who would not bow to their new gods. No matter. There would be more.

This one who had freed him would be the first. She stood before him, unbending, unyielding, unworshiping, unafraid. She would turn, oh yes, and she would be a queen such as had never been. They would rule a world of their own remaking. The crumbling throne before him waited for the liege lord, and all others would soon bow before it or die.

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