They had come in the night. When no one was watching. Out of that dark place that he had been building. Dug too deep, some said. Meddling in bad magic. Little did he know the implications of his folly, and the consequences it would have on his children.
His children. A source of eternal pride and constant disappointment to him. He was a brilliant man, he knew. But a flawed one, also. He had no wish to despise his daughter. He tried to hide it. But she had always known.
The mother of his twins had been a venomous reptile. Such terrible beauty. Such an evil heart to betray him. That slut.
And all daughters turn out just like their mothers, didn’t they?
The girl knew. He was certain. And she was growing to hate him viciously. It was all his doing. But he couldn’t stop it. He was turning his own daughter into a monster. It was a crime. She had always been the brightest of the twins, the most likely to be a worthy successor to his empire. She was the stronger warrior. A superior leader. She outstripped her brother in every way. But he had no choice in the matter. Martinez would succeed him. Martinez was the child he loved more.
As he paced before his creation in that subterranean chamber below the deep lagoon, he wished for a different legacy. He was too old now. Too old to change anything. And for a sorcerer of his calibre to have survived this long, it was nothing short of a miracle. Some younger magician should have killed him by now. Those ambitious new comers seemed so eager to prove themselves these days.
His construction was almost complete. Not even the inner circle at the palace knew the truth about his work. Mortaris preferred it that way. They did not need to know what he was doing. Watching his workmen chiselling away at the sycamore panels for his great door, he observed with a critical eye the standard of the craftsmanship. It had to be perfect. It had a lot to withstand. The silver bands would be here soon, and then the frankincense resins. It would be beautiful when it was done.
His door to the Underworld.