The Price of Being a Dark Lord
by Sauron Gorthaur

As soon as he felt the oily liquid trickling down the back of his throat, Dirk knew what was happening. Even through the haze of his dying mind, he recognized the intoxicating thrill of malice and power that rippled through him at the familiar bitter-sweet taste and heavy scent of the Essence of Evil.

Elation filled him, even as his mind wavered dangerously close to death. Chris and Sooz had not failed him! They had seen sense and recognized that the only way he could survive was to take back the Essence he had lost along with his powers when he fell to Earth.

He was not going to die. He was going to live.

And not only was he going to live. Even the first spikes of pain ripping through his human body did not lessen his fiendish delight.

The Dark Lord was returning!

He was going to regain his true form, his strength, his powers. He was finally going to have back everything he'd longed for these nightmarish last few months. There had been times during those dreary weeks when he'd doubted himself. There were times when he thought his defeat was utter, that he would never regain his powers or return to the Darklands. But here he was and everything was about to change for the better.

He'd take back his Iron Tower of Despair. He'd summon all the legions of Evil back to him. Wouldn't that do-gooding fool Hasdruban be shocked! Oh, he'd make the White Wizard pay for the humiliations he'd forced the Dark Lord to suffer.

The pain rippled outward, shaking his puny human form. Not for much longer would he be trapped in this disgusting body. It was all over, his long exile. No more Pure Guardians. No more tiresome interrogations from those psycho fools, Wings and Randle. No more idiotic humans who looked at him like he was crazy when he talked about other worlds and vampires and paladins! No more homework, and teachers, and school! No more…

…Chris and Sooz?

And suddenly, there were other memories pouring in. Playing Fantasy Wars with Chris all evening up in Chris's room. Hanging out during lunch break with his Court in Exile and laughing more than he had in centuries. Planning elaborate schemes for the defeat of their baseball opponents with Sports Lord Sal Malik. Mrs. Purejoie's fluffy warm pancakes smothered in thick maple syrup. The pleasant warmth of affection when his little Child of the Night Sooz hugged him.

A stab of pain not caused by the Essence of Evil tore through him. Would he remember anything from the past eight months? He didn't know. What if he didn't? What if he didn't remember any of it, not his Court in Exile, not Chris, not Sooz?

Even worse, what if he remembered but he didn't care anymore?

Panic shot through him. He was about to regain his form as a twelve-foot-tall Dark Lord. What would happen if he awoke to find two puny human children at his feet with no memory of who they were or that they had just saved his life? He'd kill them without a second thought! He'd kill his only two friends in all the worlds! He'd kill Chris and Sooz!

A wail of agony burst from Dirk as pain racked him inside and out.

"Noooo! Not that!"

One frantic thought rushed through him just before the consciousness of Dirk the boy winked out.

Chris and Sooz were smart for humans. Surely, they'd find a way to keep him from doing anything too horrible.

They'd find a way.