This is 1/2 of the chapters that Patrons have been saying TO fans are required to read. I hope you enjoy the bits of information found inside. =)) If only our dirty little misfits could get the same glimpse!
Elinor swallowed as she tried to turn, but there was nothing to turn; she was a spirit, and this colossal being surrounded her. It emitted an ominous presence that compressed her on all sides.
This thing wants me to talk to it? Who the crap is this? Am I back in my diamonds?
“What an interesting power you have; to imbue one’s spirit into a gem as a medium, trading a weak, fragile body for a more durable substitute, or was it another that did this to you?”
I guess that solves that question, but why can’t I reach my minions … mom and dad.
“Who are you?” She asked with irritation. The only thing she could feel was its seemingly infinite presence, swirling around her as it spoke, and she did not like the sound of its voice.
“I have no name.”
“Well, that’s not creepy at all,” Elinor mumbled. “I’m busy right now, so if you could just leave, then that’d be great … how are you even talking to me?”
“I’m afraid I’m going to have to decline your invitation to leave, little life forger. I have not found such a fascinating creature, such as yourself in … ages.” His laughter painted the scene of volcanoes in her head; it would almost be comical had she not felt as if she were standing right next to said exploding mountains.
“I make it a point not to speak to people that sound like demons,” Elinor stated dryly, Emotional Loss helping to keep her panicked emotions in check as they filtered back, but it was a difficult fight. This being pulsed warning signals through her entire spirit. If she didn’t know any better, it felt like her spirit was trembling.
“Understandable. Does this help?”
Elinor’s eyes widened as a jungle exploded across her vision; she was in a clearing, standing on a hardwood deck. She looked up at the sky, a large orange sun in the heavens, partially blocked by puffy clouds, gently moving across the atmosphere.
Swallowing the nervous jitters that crawled up her body, she looked down; she actually had a body, but she knew it was still a spirit. She wore the same clothes she’d picked out earlier; a Punk Rave long-sleeve black Renaissance-style dress. The warm touch of the sun heated her skin, and the scent of lilies floated up her nose.
She glanced around the deck, noticing two chairs and a table that hadn’t been there before. The table was glass, framed by metal, and the black chairs were padded.
The being’s voice was now smooth, mature, and male. “Why don’t we sit and have a proper conversation?”
“W-what did you do to me?” Elinor asked, stepping back as she turned to face the direction of the voice.
A handsome, blonde-haired man stood a few feet away, causing her to back up further. He wore a white business suit, and his facial structure resembled her father’s a little, but this man was far more attractive.
He gestured toward the table, voice, and features kind. “Would you join me?”
“You—you haven’t answered my question! What—this isn’t real … it can’t be. I’m still inside my diamonds.” She mumbled, glancing around the clearing as a soft breeze gently pulled at her grayish-white hair, making her bring her hands up to tame it.
Why does it feel so real … what is this thing, because it is not a man?
“I mean you no ill-will, Elinor; I will explain everything once you are seated.” He walked over to the chair, pulling it out for her to sit.
She didn’t move; this was definitely some kind of trick. Eyeing the man suspiciously, she shifted toward the side of the deck, but paused.
Where can I go? I don’t think I have much of a choice. If he can generate this … whatever this is, then he could be a lot more handsy.
Taking a deep, calming breath, Elinor tried to act more dignified, adding a slight frown to her lips as she moved to take the seat. With the change in appearance, the warning signals had faded, allowing Emotional Loss and her other passives the chance to catch up.
“Very well,” she stated.
He pushed her chair in before taking his seat, crossing his long legs.
Elinor took the initiative, eyes slowly analyzing the small tamed section of the jungle they were in; the trees were black and deep brown, mirroring the new world’s sickly color scheme. “I assume this is some form of a ploy to make me feel more comfortable. Standard demon tactics.”
“I assure you, your visual representation of a demon is not what I am in the least,” he chuckled. “Although, yes,” he glanced around them, “this is just an impression to help the conversation move along.”
“What should I call you?”
“Anything will suffice.”
He shrugged, smile giving her the impression that he thought she was being childish. “If that is what you choose, then I have no objections.”
Elinor’s vision narrowed. “Then, I will use it; you give me no reason not to believe you’ll behave as such.”
“What reasons have I displayed to give you such a notion?” He asked, head tilting slightly.
She crossed her legs, green eyes locking onto his blue irises with a glare. “Are you joking?”
“On the contrary, I feel as if I have been most accommodating.”
The silence stretched for several seconds as Elinor composed her thoughts.
If I take his earlier comment about not being as I imagined, then he can read my mind to a certain extent. If that’s the case, then why ask such a blatantly obvious question? Perhaps it’s not quite mind reading and more reaction reading, or he could be playing some elaborate game of chess and trying to make me second-guess myself. Either way, I’ll stick with my initial reaction; this thing is dangerous.
“Let’s bypass any of the games. What is it that you’re after? Me? My spirit?”
“Hmm,” the man looked up at the sky thoughtfully. “How do I convince you?” His vision returned to her. “I am merely here to explore; I am an explorer, and you have caught my interest. Surely, where you’re from, being an explorer is not a foreign concept.”
This leads to the belief that he can’t read my mind, but he could be just using this as a trap … unless his entire plan was for me to second-guess everything I did; what a dirty tactic, but I’d expect nothing less from a demon. If he can read my mind, then it doesn’t matter, I’m already twenty steps behind, depending on how deep he can reach.
Her eyes slowly moved from the table to the chair he sat on.
Something isn’t right with this. How could he make something like this? It’s so familiar to me and earth, but still basic. Could this be a reflection of my desires? I’m wishing for some structure, and he uses that desire to fabricate this by my subconscious design? That’d be super Inception.
Can I even test it? He might be able to tamper with my tests, making it pointless. He could just wait for my desire and alter it to what I’m trying. How … fascinating. I don’t believe I’ve ever been pushed to think like this before.
Focused on the wooden deck, she hummed thoughtfully; Demon retained his patient smile as it awaited answers. She licked her lips, head rising with her eyes. “You wish to talk to me, correct?”
“That is the purpose of all this,” he stated, gesturing around them.
Elinor didn’t hear a single creature; the only sound was the wind and their slight movements against the chairs.
I need to take a step back. He wishes to talk; I am interesting to him. Reading my mind to play a short lived game of doubt would be rather dull, in my opinion. Why ask if he knows everything? Purpose … I need to analyze his goal. Before that…
A slight smile moved her lips as she folded her hands in her lap. “I appreciate your patience. Might I trouble you a bit further? I wish to sort some things out in my mind. This is all quite unexpected.”
“Of course, take your time; I am in no rush,” Demon replied, retaining his complete mask.
“I appreciate your civility.”
He’s in no rush, and he’s interested in me. Is there the possibility that he’ll let me go if I tell him I am in danger? That would bring me closer to his aims. If I can leave and he allows me to return, then that’ll build my confidence in him. He’d be playing a longer con; however, if he doesn’t, then there’s something darker happening behind this pretty scene. Seriously, when did I start thinking like this?
I don’t have an ounce of trust for this creature, but I suppose that has something to do with Emotional Loss. I’d like to believe I wouldn’t trust him without Emotional Loss’ influence, but who can say … my old self is gone. I just wish to preserve my parents … as long as they’re alright.
“I have a request.”
“Oh? Do tell.” He said, leaning forward a little.
“When you contacted me, I was in the middle of a rather deadly situation. It would be intriguing to discuss more with you, but I am afraid I must first deal with the enemies at the gate. Do you understand that reference?”
“I believe I do,” Demon hummed, his smile dropping for the first time. “This space moves quicker than the normal flow of time; we should be able to finish conducting our discussion and perhaps identify a solution for your circumstance. Wouldn’t that be the most logical decision?” He asked, grin returning.
“I—suppose it does.” Elinor kept her mask from falling, but this was not the answer she expected.
Shoot! Well played, Demon … damn well played. He gave me nothing and even threw it back in my face. I have no way of knowing if time moves differently. I don’t think it does from my experience in my diamonds earlier, but this could be an entirely different circumstance. All I have is his word, and if I question it, he’ll wonder what warrants doubt.
He has given me no reason so far to distrust him, other than a gut impression, and his initial statement that he doesn’t wish to leave yet … other than that, he’s been nothing but courteous. He really is a demon, maybe the devil himself … who can say?
“However,” his smile fell a little at her addition, “I would feel safer if the issue was dealt with first. I’m sure that you are aware of my minions, and it pains me to even think of them hurt while away.”
“Minions … no, I was…”
Elinor’s eyes widened as a burst of orange flames erupted out of her body, and a massive skeletal hand seemed to reach right through the deck as if ethereal, closing her into a sort of cage. The energy expanded to the brown bones as moss grew down its length, releasing a dull glow and light fog extended several feet around the structure.
Demon was gone, but after a moment he reappeared at the edge of the deck; he seemed slightly surprised.
“What sort of force is this?” He muttered, pressing his hand through the yellow mist; his skin, muscle, and bone seemed to melt before reforming once back outside the fog. “Some kind of dissolving or disruptive force? I have not encountered such energy before.”
This has got to be something related to me … I mean, I’m a Lich, and this is a massive friggin’ skeleton hand. It doesn’t seem that safe, though, I could just walk out of it; a hand doesn’t make the best prison if it’s loose like this. I suppose the light and mist are the real forces used to push Demon back, so that’s good.
A dark smile replaced Demon’s mask as he glanced passed his reforming hand. “You have some capable minions, little life forger—most impressive.”
Elinor leered at Demon, shifting to rest her head against the back of her hand, elbow pressed against the arm of her chair. “Showing your true colors?”
Mom and dad must have figured out what’s happening! They made this to protect me. Does that mean that the Royal Titles worked? They’re no longer human, but at least we can still be a family.
He folded his arms. “I’m interested in the power at the core of your spirit, Elinor. What is it?”
Her lips twitched a little. “Hmm? A power in the core of my spirit, you say. What do you know of it?”
Demon’s smile returned with his chair, and he took a seat, legs crossed. “My answers end without an exchange; don’t you wish to know more about your mother and father?”
Elinor’s amusement was doused in cold water, smirk dropping with her eyebrows. “What about my mother and father?”
“Tell me how you obtained the seed in your spirit; exchange is a wonderful concept, yes? We both seek answers; answers to questions that you do not even know you have.”
Her jaw locked for a moment as she glared at the unknown creature. “You’re bluffing.”
“I’m not; I was able to glimpse a portion of that little seed within you; I have the power. How else would I be able to disrupt your ability to leave and communicate with your minions? They seemed to discover what was happening much sooner than I anticipated, but no matter. It will take them time to remove me; how long I wonder? Months, perhaps years. We both know you can wait that long, but why not trade information in the meantime?”
“A dance with the devil,” Elinor whispered.
“Demon to devil; such interesting concepts you have.”
He was doing something to my spirit, and that’s probably how he was able to create this space. It seems mom or dad bought me some time. I bet he does know something about my abilities; bringing back mom and dad appears to be the big trigger that drew his notice.
Why does his proposal interest me so much … Emotional Loss. Of course, it would be something related to being a Lich. I’m naturally curious about things I don’t understand, and that can even lead to me losing my temper … wonderful. I need to play it smart, though.
“You must give a little to get something in return,” Elinor’s voice was cold.
His smile widened. “It’s been ages since I’ve had this much fun. Very well, then I will start with this; it is clear from your minion’s conversation that you wished to bring back your mother and father, but what if I were to tell you that they didn’t come back how they were?”
How dirty! He picked up on my weak point that fast? Although, if he can listen in on mom and dad’s conversation … he might even be able to listen in through the link he’s interrupting. Is there anything I can do to counter him? There’s really no skill I can use? Nothing, huh … damn.
“What proof do you have?” She challenged.
He folded his hands across his knee, pressing his back against the chair with a smug grin. “Give it a moment’s thought. Think back to how your mother responded to your passionate cry.”
She didn’t like how he phrased it but turned her gaze to one of the large brown bone fingers of the hand surrounding her.
She was confused, but of course, she would be confused; I’d just brought her back from the dead. She said … why would she question me calling her mom? That can’t be right … I must have misheard her.
“If you don’t believe me, why don’t you listen to the conversation they had earlier, straight from their mouths.”
She heard an unfamiliar voice; it was clear that she was shaken. “Empress Elinor—she—she was your—your daughter … she helped us escape with that monster, and—and then they sent that toad-thing after us. The Empress, she talked to it, and it—it took you hostage—it killed you, and—and she brought you back.”
“I see…” Her mother’s whisper held a sad tone.
“This makes things complicated,” her father sighed. “And the toad seems to be more skilled than I anticipated. It’s harming Quin faster than expected by focusing on already damaged areas. How soon until you can join the fight?”
“I’m hurrying,” her mother growled, pausing for a moment. “Gwen, stick your ingredients into that flame; it won’t burn you.” A low rumble shot through her mother’s throat. “Yes, this makes our relationship complicated with the young Empress. Our charge is not aware of the scope of her abilities and what she did when creating us.”
Elinor’s body felt like ice as she listened. “That—that could be forged!” She wasn’t confident in that scenario, though, and Demon let her stew in silence, smiling as if he’d already won.
That can’t be … I told it to bring them back. I told it to bring back my parents! Why didn’t it do it properly? Gwen’s probably one of the girls my mom brought with her. Their conversation … it fits the circumstance. They even know about Quin … how would they know, though?
As if reading her mind, Demon allowed another incident to bleed through.
“No,” her father stated. “The Skeletal Steed has extraordinary stats for its rank and level; since the toad has switched to the defensive, and is having a more difficult time,” he paused. “It should keep the creature busy for at least fifteen minutes before becoming impaired. I’d rather it not collapse, if possible.”
“More than enough, and the steed’s name is Quin; didn’t you sense it?” Her mother chided.
“It sounds … too cute.”
Her mother chuckled. “The Empress chose it; we should use it.”
They sound … why do they sound so similar? The way mom teases dad, and dad’s always so serious but can dish it back sometimes. Could Demon just copy that? Could something have actually gone wrong when I brought them back? Was I not strong enough? No…
“No!” Elinor screamed, standing up as rage slashed through her cool persona. “I brought them back! My mom and dad didn’t die!” Her chest heaved as she glared at the smug handsome man. “You’re a liar! It’s a trick!”
“I must say, does your species always behave so erratically? That was quite the shift in demeanor. I assure you, that was real, and what you did was forge new spirits on top of your parents, not simply bring them back.”
Elinor swallowed, doubt burning inside her mind; her teeth ground, and her arms shook with anger and fear that flooded past Emotional Loss like a wave.
Mom … dad … I failed … I didn’t … it makes our relationship complicated. What did they mean by that? How could that be complicated? They called me Empress … the human called me Empress … is she human anymore? I don’t know what’s happening outside … I just … I don’t know.
“Your turn, life forger,” Demon said with glee. “How did you obtain the seed inside your spirit?”
She ignored him, mind spiralling out of control
What do I do? What can I do? Can I fix them? Give me an answer! Maybe it can’t because Demon’s blocking it? I can fix it; I know I can. There has to be a way! Mom and dad … can I even call them that? What else would I call them? I don’t know. If they aren’t my parents, who are they? Did I throw some random spirits into my parents’ bodies? Could I have done that? What would grandma think … how … how … how…
“Excuse me,” Demon snapped his fingers with a deep frown. “Is this that hard to handle? You seem to be such emotional creatures. I’d expect someone with your spirit to be more level headed; although, I suppose your spirit is still in flux with the change. Such a fascinating metamorphosis.”
“You,” she muttered, eyes wide as she realized her hands were clutching her skull, pressing in with shaking arms. “How do I fix it? How do I fix my parents?”
His grin returned. “Finally, noticing me again, are we? I gave you one answer, and it is your turn to give me one in return. Once that finishes, then we can move on to the next exchange.”
Elinor took several deep breaths as she reigned herself in before retaking her seat; her fear was slowly being brought back under heel. Pulling back her hair, she pressed her thighs together, feet wrapped around each other.
That’s not a no … there might be a way.
Closing her eyes, she took one more breath before her vision opened, glaring at Demon’s casual demeanor. “I come from another world. I was drugged, kidnapped, and woke up in a basement with these powers. I was told that everything started to change the moment lights appeared in the sky. That’s all I know; now, tell me how to get my parents back.”
“Hmm,” Demon tapped his lower lip thoughtfully. “You didn’t tell me which gave you the powers. Was it a drug, the light, or something else?”
Elinor shook her head. “I didn’t tell you because I don’t know. That’s the only information I have to go on. My parents.”
Demon folded his arms, vision low, as if in thought. A few seconds passed, grinding against Elinor’s nerves. “I assume these lights appeared with the crystal that transported you into this world, yes?”
“I thought this was an exchange,” Elinor said with iron in her tone.
A smirk lit his face. “That it is. What was your question again?”
“How do I bring my parents back to their original selves?”
His answer was prompt. “You can’t. The lights came with the crystal, yes?”
“I—must have been mistaken,” Elinor chuckled humorlessly. “I thought you said I couldn’t. What was that again?”
A light sigh left Demon’s lips. “Are you going to throw another tantrum again? You can’t, it’s impossible, you already used their spirits to forge your current versions; should I go on?”
“Yes,” Elinor’s voice cracked.
“Such emotional attachments,” Demon muttered. “Look, you have one shot with how you use someone’s spirit. You chose to subtract, add, and mix a lot of aspects into your parents’ spirits; that was your choice, life forger. You forged a new spirit out of existing material; it was so masterful that it drew my notice and that … ah,” he chuckled, “my question.”
Elinor slumped back into her chair, vision out of focus; she felt hollow.
I basically killed mom and dad … like a computer file … I wrote over their information. How … why? He’s being truthful; it’s the name of the game he’s playing … information for information, and … they’re gone.
Demon snapped his fingers several times. “Hey! My turn.”
“What’s the point?” Elinor mumbled. “What do I have left?”
He was silent for several seconds before releasing a drawn out sigh. “I would love for you to give up, give me your spirit, and allow me to use that seed to its fullest potential. It would accelerate my plans by millenia. However, I doubt your minions will stand for that, and I still need more information.
“Look, Elinor, it’s not as bad as you appear to be taking it,” she didn’t respond. “Emotional life-forms are so difficult to deal with—it is not like your parents disappeared, but were transformed. They still have many of the characteristics that they had when you were alive, but they’ve been reforged.”
“Same—characteristics…” Elinor muttered, Emotional Loss unable to combat the void in her heart, but Demon’s words dropped in a spark.
They may not remember their past, but they still have many of their characteristics … I heard it in their voices. They’ll always take care of me, protect me—like they’re doing against Demon. They love me … they need me … I need them. I’m not alone…
“Maybe I haven’t lost them completely.” She mumbled, looking up at Demon, hope back in her eyes. “Is there any way to get them back … not fully, but—but they’ll be closer?”
“That’s a question,” Demon grinned wickedly.
“Yes, the crystal that transported me here appeared with the lights.”
“Good,” Demon’s vision shifted to the right. “That gives me a clue. My answer in regards to your question, treat them like family, Elinor. I don’t understand the draw of such a concept, but it is the answer you seek. If you wish to continue building that familial bond, then treat them like family.”
“Family … I can do that.” A soft smile lightened her cheeks. “You’ve been shockingly helpful, for a devil that’s trying to take my spirit.”
He bypassed her jab. “Were there others that were given powers?”
Elinor’s lips pursed as she leaned back, folding her arms.
How should I answer? This game only works if both parties are honest, but would I be throwing that snake-woman under the bus if I let Demon know about her? He’s not all-powerful, but he seems to have quite a bit of power … it felt endless before he made this illusion. He must have some kind of restrictions.
Although, should I care about the snake-woman? Do I need any answers from him to follow up on? My mind says it’s a little wrong, but if I can get answers to my questions, then I don’t feel that bad about telling him about her. Another Lich change? In any case, do I have any more questions? Not really.
Her composure soon returned, and she said, “I don’t believe I have any more questions. So, what else could you provide to receive such information?”
“Hmm,” Demon crossed his legs in the opposite direction. “I could tell you what I know about the seed inside you.”
Elinor was a little shocked with her response. “Yes, there was at least one other person that changed, and the toads brought her here. There may be more, but that’s the only one I know for certain.”
“The toads,” Demon chuckled humorously. “You have such fun concepts for creatures; this has been most enjoyable.” She waited for his response; it took several seconds as he seemed to be collecting his thoughts. “They placed a weak barrier around a creature, but I’m patient. They’ll move her out of it in time.”
“You’ve already found her?” Elinor asked with a slight frown.
“Not for a certainty, but it’s the only real option in the area.” Demon said conversationally. “In regards to your seed, it’s like a little pocket of information, incredibly dense and burns with one of the most neutral powers I’ve ever encountered. It could attach to just about anything, and if fed, has the ability to grow exponentially.
“However, it appears to latch onto a particular set of structural parameters on its own; it’s quite sophisticated … almost like it has a life of its own. One thing is for certain; it is well beyond any mythical artifact I’ve encountered.”
Elinor’s interest peaked. “Mythical artifact?”
Demon’s arms moved to the arms of the chair. “I have enough material to satisfy me, so, instead of a question, how about a deed?”
“You want me to do something?” Elinor asked, eyes narrowing. “Are you sure you’re not a devil or demon, because you act exactly like one. First, seemingly harmless questions, second, actionable information that could lead to someone’s spirit being taken over, and now you want me to do something. You’re leading me down quite the road.”
“Yet, you did give me the information.”
“Yes, and I believe you know that this seed has something to do with it; you left some of that information out, did you not?”
“No, the answer is within the information I gave,” he said with a smirk.
“Of course it is,” Elinor grunted. “What is it you’d want me to do, and I believe action is worth a much higher price than simple information. What can you offer in return?”
Demon’s smile turned malevolent.
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