The air was still and silent upon the northern cliff that over looked
both the sea and the city far below the crumbling ruins of
Stormpoint's first lighthouse. Clouds passed quickly across the sun,
pushed by winds far removed from the preternatural stillness, causing
the shadows cast by the trees to appear as macabre dances on the
ground. Aside from the willowy evergreens and the ivy clinging onto
the weathered stones of the abandoned lighthouse, the whole area
seemed devoid of life. There was an air of expectant menace that
clung to anyone who ventured too near the ruins, as if an unseen
predator was constantly watching, waiting for a single unguarded
Instead of detracting from the overall feeling of wrongness, the flawless beauty around the long forgotten lighthouse only seemed to heighten the surreal feeling of constant dread. It was this that caused Stormpoint's newer inhabitants, who had no knowledge to the sinister events that had originally caused the area's evil reputation, to shun what should be a picturesque escape for poets and lovers. Even the older inhabitants only knew vague stories ... tall- tales ... legends ... told in hushed whispers in darken tavern rooms, to frighten small children into behaving, or over campfires in the dead of the night as the full moon watched down with a baleful eye. Now the only people who would venture near the old, cracked, overgrown stone pathway that lead up to the dark brooding structure were young boys trying to dare frightened playmates to take the trail that they themselves feared to take.
It was into this stillness that the sudden tiny sound of leathery wings broke the silence like a crack of thunder as a small feline figure landed on the top of the storm shattered ancient beacon. The bright sunlight played off the deep purple scales of the dragonet that sat up on its hunches with a squirming fish held tightly in its tiny clawed hand. Multifaceted eyes that swirled with a kaleidoscope of color gazed across the forest that circled the lighthouse, looking for any sign that its territory had been disturbed, ignoring the desperate struggle of the fish that struggled to breathe in this alien place. Satisfied that their sanctuary was still undisturbed, his head swiveled down to regard the now still fish he held. Gerere seemed to frown and shook the fish in the air, looking very much like a child who had discovered his toy was broken. The dragonet shrugged, tossing the fish aside till later before he scrambled into the beacon and down the open trapdoor into the room beneath. There, he checked on the figure curled into a ball in the corner of the shadow-filled room, wrapped in a cocoon of dust and spider webs. That figure was the reason for the dragonet's lonely vigil in this forsaken place, but that was why his master had chosen this place ... to ensure that they would not be found. He had lost count of the days as he sat and guarded his master's slumber while he healed from whatever had injured him that night long ago. Gerere knew his master lived still despite the near skeletal appearance of the curled figure that laid on the floor, and so long as his master lived Gerere would keep his solitary watch.
Shadows slowly crept across the floor as the sun made its way across the sky, and still the tiny dragonet sat, watching his master till hunger finally drove him toward the rotten ladder that led up to the fish he had earlier discard. He started to scramble up the ladder when a scraping sound caught his acute ears, freezing him in place. His multifaceted eyes watched in mounting tension the darkness of the room, trying to find the source of the noise, till he caught the tiniest sliver of movement from the figure curled in the corner. With painful slowness, an emaciated hand inched outward till it finally broke the cocoon of webbing and reached up, grasping the air with skeletal fingers covered only by the barest coating of dry parchment- like skin. Gerere chittered happily and leapt into the air, flying to nuzzle the outstretched hand. The master had finally awakened....
Giacomo rose from the floor, the cobwebs and dust falling from him
like a death shroud being cast aside. He looked little more then a
skeleton with a coating of dry yellowish skin pulled tightly over it.
He ignored the dragonet that chittered happily around his feet as he
examined himself. His power had sustained the spark of life within
the shell but little else, as his host's body had withered into this
horrid corpselike thing. His normally bright clothing now hung in
dull gray, rotten strips from his skeletal frame, and the silver hair
in which he took so much pride in was all but gone aside from a few
scabby patches that dotted his bald palette. Every movement was a
force of will for the demon and brought what to a mortal would be
incredible pain. Yet Giacomo found the sensation somewhat ...
He tried to speak, forcing air into lungs that had not breathed on their own in nearly two years, but all he could manage was a sickening rasp as he cleared out the dust that filled his throat and lungs. "That witch..." He finally managed as he remembered that thrice blasted creature of light he had battled that night long ago. She had managed to do something that had not been done in a millennia ..... she had hurt him, and badly. He cast his senses outward, like a ripple across a pond, over Stormpoint. He felt a few powers he knew.. Eowyn.. Calo.. Jaysa.. Striker.. Quaralyn.. Father Selnecker and many more that he did not know. But, he could not feel the light witch. Perhaps he had dealt her a killing blow that night, he thought with some disappointment. He so much wanted to make her suffer as he had suffered. His thoughts of vengeance would have to wait, however, for his body still needed to be rejuvenated from its near corpse state. He thought briefly of seeking another host, but it would take time to get another body adjusted to his power, and he had already lost so much time.
"Food.." The one word command came out as a hiss to the small purple dragonet who immediately scampered up the broke ladder to the beacon above. Gerere tossed down the fish he had caught earlier that day and discarded till now. Giacomo fell on the fish with a vengeance,
yellowed teeth tearing through scale and flesh as the demon stuffed as much as he could into his mouth with each bite. "MORE!!" Giacomo demanded as he knelt there, ghoul-like, on the floor shaking in his need as bits of fish hung from his fingers and lips. The dragonet took flight and in a few moments dropped another wiggling prize to his master who devoured it as quickly as he had the first. The demon consumed the fish's life as much as he ate its flesh, infusing it into a body that had not known true life in nearly an age. "MORE!!" His voice was growing stronger and clearer with each shout, and at his bidding Gerere flew again. Another fish fell through the trapped door, and then another, and another as Gerere continued to bring his catches to his master who greedily took each and demanded more.
"Enough." Finally came the musical voice of the demon jester as he rose from the floor, letting the last fish flop ignored at his feet. His skin once again shone ivory white in the moonlight that streamed down thought the trap door above. His movements were once again graceful and fluid as he stretched out his arms, covered in fishy gore, to examine himself. A smile crossed his delicate, almost feminine features as he looked out at his lithe well-toned frame, now restored as he remembered it. Satisfied, he licked the last bits of fish from his impossibly long fingers before brushing them through his long silver hair, and running them amorously along his body. His ice blue eyes looked up at his faithful servant and creation, and at the waning moon that hung in the night sky. As before, his eyes held the promise of infinite jest, and infinite madness in equal measure with just a hint of the hellfire that awaited should he be roused to anger.
"I'm back ..." He sighed softly to no one in particular, the hint of threat hanging heavy in the newborn night. He looked back down to the tattered straps of clothing the hung from his body, and his nose wrinkled in disgust as he picked at them. "Well, this wardrobe will never do.. Cannot have the king of jesters looking like the pauper of jesters now can we? I wonder if Eowyn will have anything in my size? Shall we call on her and find out?" With that, Gerere flew to his master's shoulder and nodded excitedly before he nuzzled the demon's cheek affectionately. Giacomo scratched the dragonet's head as he walked down the stairs, and out into the night, taking the long unused path that led him home.. that led him back to Stormpoint.
The sun rose over the old lighthouse, chasing the last of the night's
shadows back to the base of the trees that had spawned them. The wind
hardly stirred the air, and the dull roar of the waves crashing
against the cliff below sounded more like thunder. A pair bright
robins landed on the ground and began picking through the grass for
broken twigs for their nest. They hopped about the grass and
wildflowers, stopping every so often and casting nervously about.
Nothing else stirred in the quiet wood.
The avian pair far from their normal spring roost, but someone had cut down their trees to make a home of their own, and so the birds had wandered till they found this seemingly idyllic spot. The trees were tall and welcoming for nests, plus there seemed to be none of the normal hunters to plague them, as they had seen several small birds as they had flown through the wood to the clearing. Satisfied with their selection, neither bird paid any notice to the tendrils of mist that rose from the ground and wrapped around the female. The mist moved of its own accord in spite of the slight breeze that sought to banish it. It was his mates sudden squawk that shocked the male from his search for the prefect twig. She was flopping on the ground, tiny wings beating to be free of something unseen. There was no snake ... no cat ... no visible predator ... nothing to explain his mate's sudden distress as he hopped closer to her, struggling in the grass.
Just as suddenly as they had begun, the small bird's struggles ceased as her mate stared down confused at her unmoving body. Then he heard it.. felt it.. the sound of something breathing close at hand, he tried to take wing but the mist closed around him like a physical thing. He pulled against it, his wings beating frantically against the ground, as a numbing cold swept over the small frightened bird. The touch was so cold that it seemed to burn every nerve, overwhelming the small brain of the bird known as the herald of spring, till it joined its mate laying still on the ground. Only when its life had finally fled did the mist dissipate into the wind with what sounded like a sigh as the warm sun shone down from above.
Then without warning, from the clear sky there came an iron manacle crashing to the earth between the fallen birds. The metal of the manacle was pitted and crack as if blasted with an immense heat. A chain that ran from it was broken, its jagged edges showing the punishment it had endured. It had scored the earth where it had landed, revealing a long over grown stone on the gentle slope of the ridge leading to the old lighthouse. Ancient runes filled with silver covered the stone's surface, their meaning a purpose as long forgotten as the language in which they were written. The seal looked untouched by time, as if it was carved yesterday ... except for the crack that now ran through the center of it where the last few tendrils of mist refused to give way to the sun and wind.
The demon was not the first evil to sleep in this unhallowed place, as the original builders of the lighthouse had discovered. Something had been buried here ages ago ... something that the demon's presence had roused ... something that should have never been forgotten ... something that now stirred in the darkness, in the scant shadows that lingered at the edges of this idyllic setting ... something that was hungry ... something that was struggling to free its self ... something that was calling...
The sleeper had awaken...
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