Prologue

In the realm of the unconscious a new Arbiter takes the throne.

"It would seem your reign as Arbiter must now come to an end." The cold voice sneered.

"How did you gather all the keys?" Gasped the old man as his back clanged against the base of the throne.

The cold voice did not reply as its owner entered the small golden niche. He was tall and thin; angular and seemingly all powerful as he towered over the man crouched at his feet.

"No! Please! Don't hurt me!" The old man begged "Have mercy, have mercy!"

The old man's blubbering ended there when a swift slice from the younger man's blade sent his head rolling across the floor.

"Pathetic."

Milo spat on the chest of his fallen enemy as he kicked the decrepit old body aside. The old man had been a pitiful Arbiter and an even more pitiful adversary. But Milo would not make that mistake, he would not allow himself to grow soft as the old man had.

The role of Arbiter was meant to be a god, an all powerful entity who could take mankind by the hand and force the humans into their place. The old man had failed to do so, he had allowed them to run wild under his authority and Milo's job would be all the harder for it. Benevolence the old man had called it, but Milo knew better; it was weakness, plain and simple. He never had the willpower to show humanity who their rightful master was.

The old man's body was already beginning to dissipate, blowing away like dust and fading into the ether, leaving Milo alone in a room that was now his and his alone.

The room was spacious, perfectly round except for two alcoves facing each other on either side of the room. The floor of the room resembled a large clock made of faded gold. Milo was going to have to get used to faded gold as the entire room seemed to be made of nothing else. On the clock, the alcoves occupied the six and twelve o'clock positions.

Milo stood now in the twelve o'clock alcove which was semicircular and built of bricks still bearing that damned faded gold colouration. Perhaps he could change that once he gained a greater understanding of his new Arbiter powers, but that was not what truly fascinated Milo about this area of the room.

Ensconced in the centre of the alcove was the throne. His throne which would establish him once and for all as the Arbiter. He had killed the old Arbiter and now here it was: the prize he had striven so desperately for.

Milo bent to sit, but was stopped by the sound of the great gold doors, which filled the bulk of the other alcove, grinding open. It was impossible that anyone else could get in. He had the keys and without them no one else could gain entry without his permission.

Rising to face the intruder, Milo recognised them almost immediately. It was the imp who had served as a sort of jester to the old Arbiter, no doubt he had simply come so he could swear allegiance to his new master and had used whatever perverse little powers he had to get in.

"What?" Barked Milo, wanting to be rid of the creature so he could claim his throne in peace.

"Well, sir, as you know, the Arbiter is dead -"

"No, that old fool is dead," Milo corrected, pointing a foot at what little remained of his predecessor, "I am the Arbiter."

"Right you are, sir." The imp agreed, "Well since, the uh . . . other guy is gone, I suppose I work for you now."

"If you must."

"I am bound to serve the Arbiter, whoever that may be."

"Fine, now get out."

"But sir-"

"What?"

"I actually came because of those shiny keys of yours."

"What about them?"

"Well you see as they are sorta important . . . I was wondering where you wanted me to store them, for safe keeping, you know?"

"Store them? Yes store them. Scatter them throughout this domain, and be sure to do a better job than you did last time. They were far too easy to find."

"Perhaps you're just too smart, sir."

"Don't bother with flattery. I'm not an idiot."

"I'll remember that, sir."

"See that you do, and like I said, scatter them far and wide, making it impossible for anyone else ever to find them. Understood?"

"Yes sir."

"And one more thing. Don't just hide them, make sure that each key has something to stop thieves from taking it if they stumble upon it by accident."

"Right you are, sir."

"And stop with the whole 'sir' thing. I am a god, not some rich brat, and my title should reflect that."

"Of course . . . Your Highness."

Your Highness. Milo liked that. He felt that it was a fitting moniker for one who had accomplished all that he had, and that it would serve him well with what he intended to do.

Seeing that he had impressed his master, the imp extended his hand and took the keys from Milo, already planning where to hide them. As he left, the doors slid shut behind him with a resounding boom.

Milo sincerely hoped that it would be the last time those doors ever closed, for if his plan succeeded there would never be another intruder, another claimant for the Arbiter's throne, sneaking in to kill him as he had killed the old man, and the old man had surely killed his predecessor. Such was the life of an Arbiter, serving as the supreme ruler of humankind until a human eventually found the strength to revolt and dethrone you. Claiming your life and all your power as their prize. But Milo would never allow that. He knew what he needed to do to ensure that no mortal ever rose against him. He knew how to rule forever.

Smitten with his own brilliance, Milo placed himself upon the Arbiter's throne and finally after all his hard work, ascended to godhood.

The End

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