Gobelen had warned us that an old enemy of his named Wathanni might come looking for him. At the time I was unconcerned. Now that I’d been encased in a pillar of charcoal, I was more concerned, and slightly frustrated that I could still hear the two of them eating and talking.

“Gobelen, do you remember the last time we had a meal together like this?”

“Oh yes. It was just before you had me imprisoned in that infernal bottle.”

Wathanni laughed. “Quite right. Strange how easy that was to arrange, but that’s of no consequence. Have some bread; I assure you it’s excellent.”

“I notice there is no salt. I suppose you remain devoted to some unholy purpose.”

“Naturally. My name does mean ‘heathen’ after all.”

For a time I only heard silence, then the air hummed with a voice like a song.

“You never even wanted the title. The life you asked for was one of humility and freedom. Why not yield to the one who desires the authority you consider a burden? I vow you would have all the freedom you dream of. When my shadows cover the world they will leave you untouched.”

Again I only heard silence, and the longer it lasted the more panic set in.

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