Continued from Part II.
The lion scooped all into its mouth. Its tongue rasped over their burning skin, rolling them and the wooden cubes between decaying teeth and gangrenous gums. Then the lion spat the contents of its mouth onto the floor.
They bounced and rolled, bumping into the dice and each other, then came to rest. She looked over to where he lay, his body contorted into the shape of a cube. The dents in his skin were a pattern that matched those on the dice, and those on her own twisted form.
The lion stood over them, thunder in its throat. It observed, draw back lips and hissed.
“Five fours,” it said. “A winning throw.”
The lion coughed, and its victims felt their forms crack and unfold, expanding. Skin stretched, bones sprung outward, cries of pain flew as nerves blazed once again. Then two more human shapes stood unsteadily before their torturer.
“What are you?” she asked of the lion, shaking with horror.
The lion’s maw twisted with some unfathomable humour.
“I have played the great game,” it said. “Now I have won. For millennia my pieces were trees, their fate set in stone when I placed them upon the game board, and they took root.” The lion’s chest began to shake with laughter. “You interrupted my move, you gave me power over humankind. Now you are my pieces, and I have won.”
Outside, the ground shook and split, the air boiled away, and the world was returned to the box.