Michael Fantina

Rain, like red ruin, fell furiously upon the dusty cobbled dun-colored road and like a sinister spell created a quagmire of mud for the lone horseman to travel. The rider sat tall, rail-like in robes of splendid black woven by fantastic wyverns on the looms of demigods. His hood, pulled tight, revealed only red refractions of light from preternaturally acute eyes. A jagged line of yellow tore the night sky asunder revealing a pile of lichen-limned limestone blocks to the horseman's right, not far from the ruinous road. Again, long lean fingers of lightning lanced the dark, a nearby towering swamp oak lashed the lintel of an ancient door leading to what remained of the wrecked and malignant manor. The gaunt and goblin-like rider left the road and tethered his frightened mount near the great ugly oak. Boldly he strode, his black jack boots displacing mud and small brush like a man-of-war on the high seas. In the distance rolling thunder echoed in ear-splitting crescendos crashing down hump-backed hills and reverberating from valley and vale like the accoutrements of Armageddon. Raising a large lich-like fist the dismounted horseman hammered on the hornbeam portal rattling its rusted iron hinges. The wind and the icy rain blew back his black cowl revealing a sinister shaven head and eyes full of furious ferocity. Suddenly the door sank back, pulled in by unseen forces. Lightning lashed the great pile again. Before him stood a wan willowy sorceress gowned in red slinky silk robes worked in all manner of ineffable golden glyphs and silver sigils. Her Nefertiti-like neck, her pale flesh, her eyes like black unplumbed abysses, her ebon hair which fell over one bare shoulder and down, down beyond her low cut gown, all made her seem the Siren that she was indeed. In a throaty, haunted, other-worldly voice she spoke. "Inamorato!"

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