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Your name has been stripped from you long ago, but if any polite company chances upon you in these dread wastes, the name you give them is simply E%patri8.

Your dwelling in said wastes is nonetheless very fine, almost better than your old hive, but that is what you get for committing more tiny acts of treason and reprogramming a carpenter drone for your purposes. You spend your days in solitude and misery and call yourself fortunate to be unable to speak with anyone ever again.

Except for Her, that is.

You have no notion of why she continues to come to you, but come she does, sheathed in green and wreathed with smoke, but she sheds such grandeur and mystery like a cloak and becomes no more than a rustblood woman with circles under her dull eyes and a body that seems too fragile for the tasks she completes. You make sure to feed her when she comes, at least; she never does much acknowledge you.

She sleeps, she eats, she watches you tinker with your various gadgets, and she leaves, gathering her terrible power around her from where she leaves it at your door (not so literally as you have described, but you have always sensed that she is a troll you do not want to cross, even if she never raised hand nor wand to you). Sometimes she comes twice in a week, sometimes a full sweep may pass before she arrives. Time blurs together for you—except when the Demoness knocks on your door.

Why your hive, why your presence, you will never understand, but a very old and instinctual part of you says it is for the same reason Mindfang left her treasures with you at times—you are Nothing, you have always been Nothing. No one comes looking for Nothing, no matter what valuables may actually be lurking in that void.

You have never been very good at reading trolls, and She is inscrutable, but you suppose it’s as clear as an engraved invitation when she comes one day smelling very strongly of smoke and blood, pushes your book aside, and kisses you, grabbing handfuls of your hair and pushing your head back as she climbs into your lap. You are confused. You are unfamiliar. You push her back to ask why and see it in her face.

“Why?” your mouth says anyway, because she has never bothered and you have never made mention of your idle thoughts.

“Because I want to disappear,” she says, and it’s neither romantic nor sensible.

Nevertheless.

Nevertheless, there is a pail at the end, and she toys with your hair, letting it slide in great fistfuls through her fingers. You fit your fingers in the bruises at her hips, along her sides, and feel a ghost of pride when a tiny sound emits from her at the pressure.

“Why?” you ask again, wondering what the answer will be.

“Because you are Nothing,” she says, “and I am Death.”

It is her last visit.