The Sacrifice is Ended

And then the gaping black wound in the world closed and everything was as it had been before. The cicadas whirred in the deep shadows of the nearby woods and the moonlight shone upon the altar older than mankind. There was only one difference: the thing that arose from the ground was no longer Mark. Isabelle could tell that in an instant. Its smile was cruel and mocking where Mark’s was always kind even after they had begun their quest. Its movements were jerky and awkward like a puppet’s. And there was a terrible light behind its eyes.

Isabelle could barely move or think. Her mind was seized by a storm of emotions: shock that Mark was dead and something was living in his corpse, soul-rending terror at the ancient alien words and the aegipanic music and what she’d briefly glimpsed on the other side of the wound, the vast emptiness filled with eyes, shame that she had run from the Elder God where Mark had embraced It, and sadness that Mark’s last words had been spoken to It and not to her.

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