"Oh, I've had many names."
Her voice came to him from far away — though it seemed to him far in time rather than distance.
"Yes," he said, "but that hardly tells me who you are, or what I'm doing here." He looked around. "Wherever 'here' is."
He looked across the small, round table but had trouble focusing on the figure seated at the other side.
"No matter," she said. Her voice a soft caress.
Her hand, honey-colored, patted his. Her skin was warm, her fingers long, the nails filed to points.
"I've been called Trickster. There were some who said I drove men mad."
He sat, mesmerized by the sound of her voice.
"Of course, I think they — you — were mad to begin with." Her voice took on a sharper edge.
He shook himself, pulling his hand back away from her. He frowned at a nagging sense of dread picking away at the back of his mind.
"There's...there's something I should be doing."
She laughed, and his ear was captivated by the sound.
"There were others who spoke of men being turned to stone." She clucked her tongue in distain. "It was hardly I. Your hearts have long been stone. Your heads, no less hard."
He shook himself again, struggling to focus.
"Why am I here? I can't be here."
She leaned across the table. "You're here because you set your feet on this road. This is where your road ends."
"No, no. I can't be here." He looked around, his voice rising. "There's something I should be doing. An answer, yes, that's it. I have to give them an answer."
He made to stand up. Her hand closed over his. Her flesh was cold now, a cold as deep as death.
"Those who awaited your answer," her voice colder than her flesh, "they're beyond hearing you now."
He struggled against her grip.
"Don't worry," the voice continued, "you will be joining them."
He pulled away from her, strips of flesh tearing from the back of his hand. He stood.
"No. I have to stop it. There must be time to stop it." His voice rose to a shout. "We can reach agreement again. We have to."
"You named me, all of you, all down the river of time. You named me well. I am your nightmares made flesh. I am the darkness you made."
"Go now, but hear my one, last name."
The ground lurched under him and he fell to the floor of the hardened command bunker. He stared at the images playing on a wall of screens. In city after city, all across the planet, the heart of a sun was unleashed, dissolving all before it.
Her voice sounded again in his head.
"I am the Destroyer of Worlds."