Hallowed

Prologue

In a land with nothing but snow and stone and sky, the crater was a scar. Where a tall stone spire had once proudly stood, there was only rubble and ruin.

The man was a dark speck against the field of white. In silence, he approached the great doors of the tower. He looked, for a moment, at the weather-worn carvings on the stone, at the hinges long turned to rust. He pushed, and the doors crashed to the marble floor, sending swirls of snow through the air.

When the snow settled, a woman stood on the other side. “You never could resist the dramatic, could you?” she asked.

The man was not surprised to see her. “Make it quick,” he said. “I have work to do.”

“Is that any way to greet an old friend?” asked the woman.

“You know full well the answer to that,” said the man. He moved past her and proceeded up the stairs, unimpeded by the broken rail and shattered steps.

The stairs ended in void, the rest of the tower smashed to pieces on the ground. The woman was there and waiting for him, reclining on a broken wall that had become a parapet of sorts. “Give it up, dear heart,” she said. “Don’t you tire of this game?”

“I do,” said the man. “It is high time for this world to end.”

The woman smiled. “Is it?”