Dusk fell upon the city of Black Gate, and in the courtyard of a castle did a well-dressed man tirelessly work. He plunged a tube-shaped device into the ground and walked twenty feet away before pressing a button on his watch. In an instant, his body began to glow and blur with static, as it disappeared from the feet upwards to the head. In seconds, he made it from where he stood twenty feet away, to the device that beeped thrice when he remerged next to it.

            “At last, it is finished! His lordship will be pleased with the results of my genius, or my name isn’t Professor Gerard Nox!” Gerard said. He looked so jubilant and ecstatic with himself as he pulled the device from the ground, and made his way into the castle, ready for an audience in the throne room before a pale skinned man in black, with a matching mask over his mouth.

“Greater Count Volkhar Vestra, what an absolute honor it is for you to have considered my proposal,” Gerard said. “My lord I do believe you’ll find this breakthrough to be very much worth the investment I- I mean, you made. My Transwarp System has finally been completed! With this device you need only place a beacon in a location of your choosing, and when you are ready to warp, at the press of a button, your body will convert itself into data, returning you to the point of origin wherever the beacon may rest! A true stroke of genius on my part if I do say so myself!”

Count Vestra stared at him, blank and callousness on his face. Choosing not to comment on Gerard’s device, he instead replied, “Prideful fool. There is no genius in what you’ve been working on. Your task was assigned to you at my own directive because I have deemed it to be a matter of convenience to our forces and their mobility. You’ve completed your task, now quit groveling.”

Gerard writhed over Count Vestra’s disregard for his work from the moment he was silenced by the Count, to when returned to his laboratory. In his frustration, Gerard decided to take the rest of the night off to go get a drink. Upon reaching the local pub, he’d sit at the bar and begun to drink his inner turmoil away. Greater Count… so quick to turn down my hard work?! It’s because of MY work that his forces can move as efficiently as they can! What must I do to get you to acknowledge my genius?!

Once his drink had been finished,from behind a man with black slicked back hair sat next to him with a most pleasant smile. “My, my, aren’t we a bit drunk? Or perhaps you’re simply drowning your grievances?” the man said. “You should enjoy yourself at night, not wallow.” The man raised his hand to the bartender, then pointed at Gerard. Gerard looked to the man and took a deep breath before turning to him.

“You don’t know what I deal with on a daily basis, mister,” Gerard said. He looked to the man and sat upright, taking hold of the glass of expensive looking whiskey.

“Lokiil, and I’ve seen my fair share of misfortune befall others. And here, seems you have no idea how to move forward,” Lokiil said.

“Oh, I do. If I could only just show my liege who I really am, get him to acknowledge my genius, then all would be right with the world,” Gerard replied.

Lokiil chuckled at Gerard’s response and turned to face him directly, saying “By looking at you, you seem to be a very distinguished and intelligent individual. I could lend you my aid, for a price, but are you certain you are not content with your current position?” He smirked ever so slightly and pierced Gerard with his gaze.

“Name your price, if you can get the Greater Count to see me for who I am, then I’ll pay you with anything,” he replied. Gerard had a wide grin on his flushed face as he stood to shake his hand.

“Though you shouldn’t worry about the price for right now, I’ll remember that,” Lokiil said. He stood as to shake his hand in return, then left some money on the countertop before leaving the pub, to which Gerard followed behind and return to his lab.

Gerard would collect his device and begin his march to Greater Count Vestra’s throne room, to where he would find the Count outside, the very sight of him invoking Gerard’s vision to turn red.

“Gerard,” Count Vestra said. “I’ve heard you wanted to see me?”

Gerard nothing but white noise as he started to yell and shout at the Count. The Count’s response however, was to take two steps forward and remove the mask covering his mouth. His teeth, fang-like and pearly white flashed for a moment before Gerard blacked out, everything having grown cold and bleak.

Gerard awoke in his laboratory, the entrance to which had been sealed shut, and the interior of which appeared to have been thrashed around. Gerard looked at himself in a mirror, only to see that he looked pale, the only color being the bruises and cuts around his entire body. The only thing in the lab that looked in top condition was a floating man in red skin and bore horns on his forehead and slicked back white hair.

“Alcohol has a way of revealing a human’s true nature, wouldn’t you agree?” he asked. The man spoke in quite a familiar tone.

“…Lokiil…? True, nature… his true nature… my true nature…?”Gerard asked.

“I did my part. Your master was able to see who you really are, Nox. Seeing as you destroyed your little trinket, I’ll settle on you for payment.” Lokiil said. His pleasant smiled turned twisted, becoming a nasty grin.

“The payment…? I think… I understand now… Gerard said.

Glen Garth comes from central Florida in Orlando. When he isn’t writing, he reads up on play scripts for fun.