Gods convened as a final dark figure emerged from the anomaly of light. The spectacle was nauseating, glimpses of limbs and torsos tangling together then being spat out and taking form with each arrival. The portal was a mass of dim, white light that folded in on itself incessantly as if it were smoke billowing from a forest fire.
Despite the several black flames smoldering in the corners, darkness blanketed the room. The odd light dancing around the room from the supernatural flame was scant at best and did nothing more than suggest the corners of the hooded robes covering the figures and the furniture set in the middle of the room.
Black and white ruled this place and the figures inhabiting it would have it no other way. The latest one to arrive sat down with the others and all six chairs around the table were now full.
“How long have we been meeting here?” It was impossible to decipher who had spoken; the words simply reverberated through the chamber. “Decades, a century or two perhaps. The end to this chapter draws near. I can feel it. Are there any additions?”
“I’ve only one at the moment,” came another voice, an octave deeper than the first, “but a promising one. On the planet Zepzier. Your champions, as you all well know, are dead.” His voice was laden with smugness. “I’m controlling him as we speak and plans are moving forth as they should. I’ll be making the transfer in a few months’ time.”
The meeting continued with several others making similar announcements.
Once they finished, the first speaker said, “Good. These may be the last ones before The Convergence. We’ve come a long way, friends, and now we are on the brink of achieving a feat not even we imagined possible when the first of us dreamt of it. Ultimate remains stable and the cities we’ve built thus far are thriving. Next time we meet will be the last before we part ways and attend to our last prospects for a final time. Then, we complete the Convergence. Agreed?”
Acquiescence flowed from the mouths of each one.
The pool before Edmund shimmered as the last of the figures departed from the dark room through the folding light. He was staring into a large saucer of water that now showed nothing but his own reflection.
He gazed upon himself, the pockmarks on his cheeks adding to his wrinkled skin a sense of decay. His round nose drooped above paper-thin and pale lips and his hairline was receding, a knuckle length of grey running from his scalp and through his otherwise brown, slicked hair.
His thoughts turned from his appearance and back to the events he had just witnessed. Worry claimed him. Mumbled curses escaped his mouth as he straightened his back with a liberal amount of pain then moved over to another table littered with vials of different colored liquids.
Plans changed and blended with newly hatched ideas as he rested his palms on the table and stared into nothingness. He would have to begin earlier now. “Dammit, how can they be so close?” he whispered to the air.
Absentmindedly, his hands, snaked through with veins ready to burst from his pale skin, passed over the table and snatched several vials. He began removing the stoppers on each. He took quick swigs of several and winced at the bitter taste. From others, he poured a small amount onto his hand, the concoction more like lotion than liquid, and rubbed it on various parts of his body.
He stumbled back to the pool of water and beheld a different man, feeling slightly intoxicated as a result of the various elixirs.
Whereas before the reflection staring back at him looked more like a man of sixty, this new reflection was thirty years younger. The grey had vanished from his hair while his skin tightened and adopted a much healthier hue.
Despite the miraculous change, a morose look crept across his face. Just a year ago he could have ran through the same routine and looked a man of twenty, eighteen if he had the mind to.
The dark figures and Edmund were at war, though. For the past several hundred years he’d managed nothing other than running and spying on them. He’d become a leech they couldn’t find, a mosquito that incessantly took a bite of their flesh when they weren’t looking to then flitter off into the night with enough lifeblood to sustain himself just a little longer. Although his tactic kept him alive, progress was bitter and slow, forcing him to the edge of defeat often while they wallowed in wealth and fulfilled wishes. One day his persistence would prevail, he constantly reminded himself, lest he succumb to hopelessness and crawl into a dark corner of the cosmos to wither and fade.
They put measures in place to dwindle his power regularly, and they were winning this fight. The concoctions and potions before him held less and less magic each time he created a batch. Soon they wouldn’t have any effect at all and he would quickly grow old and die.
But there was only one reason he had survived so long, and only one reason why he had the magical abilities he did.
Edmund’s thoughts were interrupted by the stirring of the bald man behind him. He turned and surveyed the man who had been sleeping for over a dozen days now. Crimson armor was piled on the floor next to the cot he sprawled across.
Edmund waited for something more, for eyes to flutter open and awareness to return. Neither did, of course. His face, however, did twist into a painful scowl as he squirmed.
As the interruption subsided, Edmund continued his reverie.
Edmund stared at his hands as though they could provide glimpses into his past, pondering the import of the miracles – and atrocities – he could commit at will. He realized too, that although he struggled against the ambitious figures he spied on so often, he wasn’t all too different from them. In fact, at one point, he would have called them friends, family even. Half a millennium ago, he had been one of the dark gods.