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City of Villains
Fire and Shadow
The Chronicles of Nytemaere and Dracosius Rex

Chapter 1:  Shadow Play 

Midnight was fast approaching as the two skull guards stood at their posts outside Warehouse #45. They knew better than to question what had been off loaded from the transport which had arrived only an hour ago, yet the unusual caution and security surrounding the delivery of the metallic crate had raised their curiosity.

“What do you think…” one of the guards muttered.

“…Money? Jewels? Maybe they hit a Troll shipment of Superadine or something.”

As his cohort was turned to add his two cents, a dark giggle slipped from the alley across the street. Bringing up their guns, they spun towards the shadow haunted alley where the laughter was coming from.

“All right…step out of the alley with your hands up…you’re in Skull territory and…” The skull’s words caught in his throat as a tall, thin sliver of the shadows of the alley broke free and moved into the street.

As the figure slid further into the street – the only sounds emanating from the ebony skinned man were the occasional rattling of the many buckles and claps of his leather wrapped frame and the unnerving twittering of his laughter. Sweeping his enormous top hat from his head, he lowered himself into a bow before the two unsettled guards – the tails of his leather trench coat flaring like nightmare wings for the briefest of moments before he looked up to them…his milky-white eyes staring over the rims of his lavender glasses.

As the two skull guards looked to each other – both unsure of what to make of this person standing in the street before them – the intruder slowly stood back up…replacing the top hat on his head before raising his hands.

“Yes, yes, yes…hands to be raised…makes the dollies in their masks feel safe. Yes, yes…nothing here dollies…no guns or knives or sticks or rocks…hmmm…rocks…rocks come from the deep, dark earth…” the sing song lilt of the strangers words suddenly trailed off into a dark, gurgling growl.

Lashing out, a sphere of dark energy erupted from the dark man’s open hand towards one of the guards…vanishing into the skull’s chest a moment before he was surrounded by a field of hungry, dark energy. Dropping his weapon, the skull guard grabbed at his throat, as the dark energies tore away at his life force, before collapsing in a desiccated heap on the loading dock.

“What the hell…?” the remaining guard screamed before emptying the full clip of his gun into the approaching figure – the giggling having given way to a low, gravely laugh as the dark man stalked forward.

Pausing, for a moment, the grim figure looked down to the bullet wounds in his chest before turning a dark grin to the shaken skull.

“Fiddle-dee-dee…the dollie has scratched and bit…hasn’t mommy told you not to play with guns?!” With a snarl, a wave of crackling, dark energy swept out from the intruder to wash over the skull. As he frantically attempted to beat away the swarming, black energies, a sickly green glow enveloped the frantic skull guard…leaching his life energies from him…before being drawn to the approaching intruder with a deafening rush.

Dropping to his knees as he’d felt a portion of his life force torn from him, he looked up to see the wounds on the dark man surrounded by the phosphorescent energies a moment before they vanished. Watching in horror as even the leather strapped armor knitted together at the touch of the dissipating energies, he reached again for his gun and began pulling away frantically at the trigger – unaware of the dead clicking of the guns empty clip.

“Silly dollie with your dead, black eyes…Nytemaere doesn’t need your toys and guns and bombs and the pretty, pretty knives to play with you…” Extending his hand, a column of dark energy ripped out towards the guard…pinning him to the wall of the warehouse where he shrieked and flailed madly about in the throws of unimaginable agony. “Nytemaere has come for the silly fire leezard that sleeps in the amulet…many years Nytemaere has searched for his fiery friend, and now you dollies with your masks and guns and oh-so-yummy souls have brought him to the Mercy Island. Pinned like a butterfly in a box…struggle, struggle, struggle little moth…we like to watch you dance.”

Tightening his open hand into a fist, the dark column of energy raged across the skull a moment longer before the convulsions of the guard came to an abrupt, bloody end. As he began humming “London Bridge is Falling Down” Nytemaere strode up the worn, wooden stairs of the warehouse, carefully stepping around the corpses of the guards as he moved to the door – pausing only a moment to dip his index finger in the pooling blood on the dock. Bringing the bloodied finger to eye level, Nytemaere studied the crimson liquid a moment through his circular lavender lenses before the length of his blackened tongue snaked out to clean it from his finger. Smacking his lips, as a child having eaten a candy cane on Christmas morning, his features were once again split with a maniacal grin…a twittering giggle given wing.

“Tastes like strawberries…the dollies always have the strawberries…perhaps it is time to carry some crumpets along again…such a waste with nothing to spread it on…”

Slipping inside the warehouse, his ebony form became one with the darkness…the glint of his round, lavender glasses momentarily betraying his presence before he slid further into the shadows.

“Nytemaere has come as was promised red lizard boy. Tonight we let you out of the nasty magic man’s prison and play the games with the dollies and the bucket men as we did those many moons ago. Patience Dracosius…Nytemaere has more toys to play with…”

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