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HOLD THY HORSES

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Magic, at its heart, is a thing of sympathy. When you shape a given thing with magic, you can shape things like it as well. There are limits, of course: the two objects you twin must be of a certain degree of similarity. Too different, and you will never affect one with the other. Some objects have no twins at all, making them immune to magic.

This is somehing that I, great god of monsters, had a long time to mull this over, particularly that last bit. Two millennia of having been reduced to little more than a beating heart at the bottom of a lake. A pillar had been planted above me, floating around as I rolled around the lakebed, preventing me from rising to take my divine vengeance.

My resurrection - and how it would come - was the one burning inquiry at the forefront of my mind at all times. My brother had ripped out my heart, for sure, but gods do not die so easily. I tried to do the same to him in the past, but here we are. The question was not whether or not I would return, but when.

And one day, by chance, the answer had come to my plans. One day in the summer, as scientists floated above the lake, they pushed the pillar to the side. As I felt myself dragged along, I pushed against the tide and broke free. Wouldn't have long - only a few minutes of freedom - before dear brother had thrown a bolt of lightning at me again.

But in those precious few minutes, I saw the world. And, with my vision focused upon the monstrous, I saw the most beautiful creature I ever would. An angel of rage and fire, crawled out of the sea and laying siege to a city. A great destroyer, one that resisted all torment levied upon it. The stench of death was so pungent that Llao could smell it, no matter how far I was away.

I saw the future laid bare, and quickly realized what he must do. While the destroyer would die, it would not be for long. The resurrection of a monstrous angel would be enough to revive a monstrous god. Nevermind that it was another god's angel - I reached out and snipped those cords, claiming the beast for my own. The competition didn't put up much of a fight - it hardly had any intelligence at all.

When the bomb came seconds later and melted a hole in the side of the newly reclaimed angel, I felt myself lose my power. My exarch had died, and he was brought down with it. Skell slammed into me, down to the bottom of the lake, a place meant for me to lie for all eternity. I screamed with the pain of my latest defeat, wounded once more.

But I also smiled, for I had sown the seeds of apotheosis.

All that was left to do was wait for harvest.

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Doctor Stanislav Nikolaev is moments away from the great achievement of his career: the perfect monster. All his training, his experience in anomalous biology, and years of training and attempts had left to this one final moment. The monster before him is like a child to him, and he cared for it with all the love due from a parent. It was his invention, his direction, his gumption that had led to this project. Without him, it would be nothing.

Below him, a team of necromancers, borrowed from another division, were inspecting the corpse, and making a few final adjustments. An incision here, implanting a certain device there and the removal of tissue right there.

I surge out of the water, standing to my full height, towering above the mountain. My head has become covered in trees and dirt in the millennia I lay dreaming dead, and it takes me a few seconds to brush it all off. The detritus sloughs off me into the dirt, and I can breathe again, for the first time in eons.

The skies above me are swirling, ready to meet me in my return. I reach down into the water and pluck out the Old Man - my prison, my seal, the pillar that had kept me below the surface for all these years, now cracked and broken. I crush it in my hand and end its power over me for once and for all.

Then, I reach up and grab my wretched brother by the throat. He has descended from his distant heavens to stop me, but he is small - much smaller than I. An utter weakling — even weaker than the last time I killed him. This time, we both know it will be final. I look him in his pitiful eyes one last time and snarl, my favorite sound. He knows what will happen to him now.

I step onto the shore, and embody myself as his equal in size. We are like a pair of mortals, and there is no more fitting way for a god to die. With one quick motion, I slash his chest open, a clean line from his neck to his groin. Reaching through his flopping guts, I remove his heart, the root of his godhead.

As I gaze upon his miserable face, the life rapidly fading from him, I bite into the heart like an apple. It is sweet, like victory, but sweeter is the sound of my brother's dying sputters.

The world ripples around me as I reclaim my rightful throne. Nothing changes — not overtly, at least — but it has a new God. A King of Monsters.

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