The Tower Of Madness

Bound to the altar in the dank, circular stone chamber, he trembled to his very soul. Before him a dark, wizened form huddled over the books, poring over their evil contents and cackling with mad glee.

This was the wizard he, the magistrate, had come to arrest and haul away to his execution in chains. But it didn’t quite work out that way — the wizard must have seen him coming by means of a scrying crystal or some such, and had lain his trap with confidence. With good reason, too, for the next the magistrate knew he had one securely bound in his current predicament.

Knowing by instinct that an escape attempt would avail him naught, the magistrate gazed over and regarded his foe. Having come face-to-face with the nameless wizard at last, it was hard to believe that this little old creature was the dangerous criminal he had sought so desperately these long months past. Yet he knew better than to underestimate his opponent, as his current plight had warned him . . . alas, too late!

And he had heard the stories concerning the wizard: how he had worshipped Them that ruled before, and how it was his fervent wish, his dark goal to return those evil beings to Their former seat of power. In the course of his lawful duties he had read several accounts regarding those Evil Ones — how they held the power in their malign grasp to destroy the very world! — and in fact he had even had the occasion to deputize numerous others to help break up the ceremonies and imprison the celebrants of such malign cults of worship. He was not without his own small success in putting Them and Their worshippers down, yet the old wizard had truly frightened him, for if any had the power to bring Them back it was he! Indeed, the magistrate had himself witnessed more than a few of the wizard’s terrible successes: monstrous flying things, horrible crawling things which roared incessantly, great nigh-unstoppable beasts of mutilation and obliteration. And now he, too, had fallen before that mighty wizard.

Idly, his gaze wandered over to the nauseous stack of unholy tomes upon the table before the wizard. He scanned their titles — he couldn’t help himself. He recoiled in fear and disgust. What was this wizard thinking?

But if the wizard truly wished to bring Them back to Earth so that They could rule once again in blood and death and sacrifice, then he was truly mad. For who but a lunatic would dare read such compendiums of elder evil as Jane’s Armor and Artillery of The World, Gregg’s A History of Air Warfare and Garrett’s A Guide to Nuclear Power? Or the multi-volumed Encyclopedia Brittanica? Or worst of all, the King James Bible?

And as the wizard drew near with his dagger, he thought finally: Cthulhu help them all, should the stars come right, and the elder evil called Man ever reassert itself!

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