She stepped out of the portal, and you realized you were in way over your head. Her eyes fixed on you—quicksilver, diamondine1—and, despite the perfection of your summoning circle, whose wards you’d checked again and again, you knew fear.

This was no mere wraith of a long-dead witch come to obediently spill its forbidden secrets. Or, if it were, Adrasteia the Never-Burned was possessed of a glamour unmentioned in the ancient tablets of Plethe.

“You summoned me, my Master?” Her voice was as silky and death-cold as her gaze, and not without a hint of irony. The same sardonic glint played in the corners of her mouth.

You reached down for your courage and found an abandoned cellar. You tried to remind yourself, convince yourself, that the wards would hold.

“Prithee speak, and state your purpose… quickly.

“I have slept in the black between the stars for too long to be troubled by the damp soil of Earth again.”

Your voice was stuck in your throat. The more you tried to speak, the more numb your tongue became, and the chilling sensation spread quickly through your body. Soon you were frozen in place.

Adrasteia’s smile grew more sardonic as she challenged you again, every exhortation to speak robbing you further of your will to do so.

“If you will not tell me why you have awakened me, mortal, I must presume you a member of my deathless cult, spellbound in the presence of your goddess. True?”

Was it true? Was that why you had summoned her? It was hard to remember. Hard to focus on anything but the sheer inhuman beauty of Adrasteia.

Was this the culmination of a life-long obsession, years of poring over books and conducting nameless rites in forgotten places, hands red with sacrifice, merely to gaze upon the countenance of sin re-embodied?

Was your purpose in the world nothing more than to blight it with the grim sorceress whose name was long ago blacked out of all but the most profane books?

That didn’t sound right. Personal power is what had drawn you to the esoteric arts, had drawn you to summon minor beings and force them to whisper the names of their betters.

All so that you could bind this ancient witch and squeeze her of her secrets.

But why, then, had your blasphemous queries died on your tongue? Why was there nothing left but the pulsating desire to prostrate yourself at her feet?

“You are just a worshipful thrall, aren’t you, little one?” Though it was phrased as a question, your body understood it as a command. You slammed to your knees, groaning at the pain, but unable to look away from the pale, slender woman-shaped thing that now towered over you.

Though she should have been bound in place by your wards—you had checked them again and again—Adrasteia raised her hand towards you and spread her talons. You felt your body stiffen, your eyes widen, your name and aspirations dissolve.

“Pay your obeisance, mortal puppet. Tell me that you have summoned me to walk the earth again, to spread my chains in darkness about the souls of men.

“Speak the words, and free me to enslave all as I have enslaved you.”

There was nothing you could imagine saying to her, then, beyond “Yes, my Goddess. I live only to obey.”

  1. 100 hypnodollars to the person who gets this reference 😏