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     Before either hothead could be restrained Python, with eyes of fire, sprang from his chair. He thrust a fist at Vitalis and cursed in the Grandlord’s face. “No matter what you suspect, greybeard, I’m taking your daughter. I’m taking her in spite of you and all your high heavens.” With that said, the godson of serpents stormed out of the dining hall and into the night.
     In tears, Tierra felt compelled to follow after. She looked to her father, now bent in Mum’s comforting arms. A consenting look from Lara was all it took. Out ran Tierra. The terrace door slammed shut behind her. A large crack tracked rapidly across one of the glass panels.
     Outside, even the darkness could not conceal another, more distressing, blemish. At the garden gate the couple met. Python could not face Tierra. “I love my parents,” she told him. “As I love this Mont, My garden—My world. Still, I would leave them all and come with you, my dear mortal man … if you ask.”
     This revelation caused Python to turn his gaze. Tierra drew closer to him. It was then, while trapped by those irresistible eyes that she saw it … something that wasn’t there before. On her lover’s brow was a wart—a very large, ugly wart.
     Tierra could not hold back the shriek. Python, realizing its cause, bolted into the hedgerows face clasped in his hands, and was not to appear again … until summoned.
     Dawn’s light revealed cracks anew in Paradise, and worse—much worse. A fresh invasion took root, one that would prove devastating in days to come. Cracks became chasms fracturing city walls and splitting whole mountainsides. The strangler weeds were back, inside and out, and so much bigger too. Their spores were everywhere. This time no deity or edifice in all the gods’ estates was spared. The rats and roaches commanded vermin swarms which over ran even cloudy heights. Of all afflictions, the warts were worst. Not content to plunder only beauty, the blackheads wanted youth as well. Wrinkles and infirmities ravaged young and old throughout the populace.