Calus sees her as he remembers her. Young and precocious, energetic and ambitious. A mind full of dreams larger than his own.
Her intensity intimidates him. She imagines accomplishments he dares not entertain for fear of failure.
The Nightmare knows this fear. Its adolescent eyes meet his and bore into his soul, laying all his embarrassments bare. It sees him for what he is: a deposed ruler, entombed alive in a golden sarcophagus and left to rot in exile, replaced by one more beloved than he.
"Always seeking the adoration of others," seethes the Nightmare wearing his daughter's face. "Even from the Witness."
"Silence," Calus grumbles. He instinctively reaches for his chalice, but it has long since left his side.
"It will abandon you. Just like the Cabal, just like the Ghost Primus."
The Nightmare of Caiatl smiles, sweet and crimson and full of hatred. "Just like your daughter."
"I said be silent," Calus sputters.
His daughter's laughter is a knife between his ribs, as it always has been.
"No one hears your edicts. No one obeys."
Her voice fills his chamber and seeps into every crevice of his mind.
"She is empress now. You are nothing."
"I made her," he bellows. "I, Calus, the greatest emperor since Acrius. All that comes before me is a prelude. All that follows is my legacy. I am the sun itself!"
"A dying sun for a dead world. A legacy of ashes, soon to be swept away by the wind that is Caiatl."
"She will never surpass me!" he roars.
"She already has," the Nightmare sings. "And soon, you will be forgotten."
Calus's withered face contorts in anguish and angst. The Nightmare is wrong, he thinks. Caiatl will never be a greater leader. He will make sure of it.
Even if all that exists must pay the price.
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