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Master Ben dropped to his stool, positioned in the corner of the room. The organs of his student had been moved, greasily, to their ceremonial plates. He finished the cleansing of the knife and resigned it to its bowl, with a clatter and a red splash. He knew with a dead certainty that the magic had worked, felt the orgasmic flow of power from the boy through his bare hands. Never had it been stronger.

The magic was in the killing. It always had been. The release of a spirit to guide the living, the death of a dear friend. His ritualized end ensured that the spirit was bound to do his master's bidding. Ben shuddered once, and gripped the edge of his stool.

Presently, the steaming corpse had to be tended too. Its gaping ribcage must be forcefully closed, its head removed and shrunken, as was fitting and honourable for a great wizard. But not right now, not yet.

He shifted himself around to glimpse out the morning window. The streets were busy; the city already awake and teeming with new life and motion. Cars streamed past, the world of the living was a blur once again.

Yet the autumn sky was quiet and grey, to grey, to grey: stretching back through eternity, and for ever.

The End

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