The world was changing. Once he had been special, unique in his monstrousness. Now there were more and more like him. Not his offspring and not his students – he’d had both in the past and wound up destroying most of them. Piece by piece the common herd had taken elements of him and incorporated those traits into themselves. Poorly, of course, but sufficiently that he could recognise himself as their inspiration even if they did not know that they had been inspired.
He was, he found, vain enough to be offended by the daily sight of brutish copies of himself, lacking in any singularity of their own.
On reflection that was probably why he had spared those of his children and pupils who still walked the world – they had a path, or, style, or both of their own. Not that he’d killed all of the others – some had self-destructed, some had died of natural causes, one or two had been eliminated by the authorities, and there had been one or two glorious, splendidly mutually destructive feuds.
If his problem with the current state of affairs was that he no longer stood out from the common throng, then he had two choices. He could escalate his activities. Tempting as that was he could see that would only encourage the copyists to greater brutish clumsinesses. His other course was to change the world back towards what it had been, to make his finest acts less acceptable again to the common mind so that they regained their ability to shock and horrify.
And so the Father of Terror and the Night Scourge became the Defender of Public Safety….