As a parent, worrying is second nature. You’re constantly afraid that something could go wrong. Your child could get sick, or get in an accident, or even just not fit in at school. Sure, there’s joy and pride and fulfillment, but there’s also an unavoidable stream of dread. And all of these worries of course pale in comparison to every parent’s worst nightmare: losing your child to Gorchul, the Dark Sorcerer of Time.

It’s a terrifying thought that crosses the mind of any parent from time to time. Because Gorchul is real, he’s out there, and you never know if it’s going to be your child who will one day be abducted in their sleep by the mad chrono-wizard and dragged screaming to the nether planes of time.

That’s the hardest thing about being a parent, really: the reality that, no matter how hard you work to keep your kid safe, in the back of your mind there’s always that nagging feeling that you don’t really have control over what happens to them after they leave for school. Or even when they’re at home, standing right in front of you, as Gorchul has been known to appear anywhere, tear a rift in the fabric of space-time, and pull a child down into his primordial lair of darkness and murk before your very eyes.

It’s the big trade-off of parenthood. Yes, you get the delight and the satisfaction of raising children. And yes, you’re ultimately so happy you decided to have them. But you also get the attendant dread that at any moment, the ageless, shapeshifting necromancer—Gorchul the Damned, Gorchul the Maleficent, Gorchul the Impure—can lure your child into his clutches with his gleaming light cube and then spirit him away to a world darker than hell.

And sure, you can line your doorstep with quartz and sprinkle nectar over your child’s bed, as the Glimmer Tome instructs us. You can even bury as many balls of your children’s hair and teeth as you want, or construct an enchanted cairn over each child’s bed with the aid of an uncorrupted thaumaturge. But the reality is, even if you cross all your T’s and dot all your I’s, at the end of the day, you can only do so much to keep your child truly safe because Gorchul is all around us, at every moment, ready to feed off the life force of your child’s soul, enslave him in the shadow world, or, even worse, slip into the empty husk of his body and pose as a demonic imposter of your beloved son or daughter.

Because that’s the real nightmare: losing a child and then seeing him come back but knowing that’s not your kid in there—that’s Gorchul.

And sometimes no one even saw Gorchul take your child. But you know. You can see Gorchul inside. The shining eyes. The twisted little smile. And at first you think, oh, thank God—my child is safe! But then you realize it’s just Gorchul. And then you have to murder the shell that Gorchul is inhabiting. You have to slit your child’s throat from ear to ear and bleed him out in the bathtub while incanting the aegis rime.

Trust me, if you have kids, you know what I’m talking about.

And the worst part about it is that you can’t reassure yourself. You can’t say, “Oh, I’m just being a worrywart. That could never happen to my child,” because you know it can. You’ve read the statistics; you’ve seen the evidence; you’ve heard Gorchul’s laugh in the air around you at odd hours of the night. And you know that pretending Gorchul doesn’t exist is exactly what he wants you to do. So, you live in mortal fear of getting a call from your school in the middle of the day—that call that every parent dreads, where they say, “Gorchul took your child. The Sorcerer of Doom returns.”

The only thing you can do is be the very best parent you can and just hope that one day someone will follow Gorchul into the slipstream with a dagger of pure obsidian and slaughter him on the Threshold of Tomorrow. (Assuming, of course, that the Gorchul being pursued is not merely a prismatic illusion in the shape of Gorchul intended to fool time crusaders, like last time.) All I know is that I remember to hug my kids close every night, because you never know. You just never know.

Oh, if only Xel, the Eternal Paladin, would return.