Chapter 6: The Fork of Consequences
Slowly descending via Damon’s Hellgate into what had been consecrated ground only moments before, it walked slowly amidst the granite headstones, ensuring the desecration of each one, stepping atop each grave in disrespect. A massive, pernicious, leathery-winged beast left Humanoid footprints in the soil, with the talons of its six-digit feet, in its wake as it closed the distance between it and Damon. Its shape changed from dragon, to beast, to man, to woman as it approached Damon, who was still slumped half unconscious against a headstone, breathing still, but unaware of its presence. Finalizing on its instantiation to converse with this particular disciple, it had settled on a brunette with large breasts and a slender waist, legs, and frame, just more than a hand shorter than Damon and wearing what he would know to be Roman robes, revealing her absolutely perfect flesh everywhere Damon desired. Fitting she thought—the Roman aspect of it. She reached down to his slumped masculine frame, running her fingers through his hair as Damon suddenly gasped for air, waking to her touch.
“Damon. I’ve meant to come visit, and my apologies for the timing. If I’d only come sooner…” She trailed off, looking to Banthis’s broken body, severed in half by Chara’s Portal, destroying her only real immortal shell.
It was hard for Damon to speak. The words came out slow and measured as he looked down at her, or rather its, golden heels that were actually part of its feet. “I…know…you.”
“Of course you do. I’d be disappointed if you didn’t.” She…it…still slowly caressed his hair. He did not pull back. He didn’t appear, or feel, repulsed by her, or rather its, presence. It had made a good choice choosing this representation of itself. Or maybe it was because he was even more broken than Banthis, that the warmth of her hand on his head was…needed. Hmmm, it could leverage that. Her, its, caress became more tender, more nurturing—close to motherly, but still very seductive.
“I am truly sorry for Banthis. She was one of my favorites, just as she was yours.” She paused, thinking—rather knowing in its omnipotence—how Damon would react to the next. “I know what you sent her.”
Looking directly into her eyes now so she could see the fire in his black mirrors of the soul, he replied, “Of course you do. I’d be disappointed if you didn’t.” Damon’s wit perilously dangled his own soul before her, before it. He no longer cared.
The irises of her eyes were two amber flames. He knew who he was talking to, and yet this wasn’t disrespect. This was either his challenge or him showing his backbone. Either way, she could crush him with it or use him. “My point is that I don’t have a problem with what you’ve done. Only that I wish to share in its rewards. Would you think that a possibility?” Yes, using Damon was more fun, fruitful, and entertaining. Souls were power, and power was useful. If she scaled in power even a little, it could keep the gap between her and Banthis manageable.
“Damnation was made for one intended target and one intended destination. Both are gone now.”
“Oh Chara’s very much alive, and I can tell you where she’s hiding. And Banthis…” She paused again. “I know where the other half of her immortal shell is, and I can bring her back fully and completely. She’ll be your wife again—whole. Besides, Banthis wasn’t meant to die this way, nor at this time. Chara has tampered with what was to be. So, helping you to set things right works for both of us. Doesn’t it?” A lie was most convincing when hidden between two or more truths, but that was her modus operandi.
“I won’t send you more than I do to her, nor even equal shares. That won’t happen—ever.” It was a take it or leave it offer from Damon, or rather a take it or kill me now offer. Either way, he didn’t care. Living or dying without Banthis wasn’t an acceptable outcome, but he knew her well enough to know she’d take his offer. The only thing she wanted was more power, and he was the only one who could, or would, give it to her.
She gave him one, and one only, accepting nod. Then she was suddenly gone with a stiff breeze. No sound. He looked around ensuring the planular rift he had summoned had fully closed. No more surprises, he thought. Looking over to Banthis, he saw her whole again and starting to breathe where the Portal had severed her moments before. As he got up to walk to her, he felt whole himself, not a scratch, nor bruise having his full mobility back. And… He noticed a place planted in his thoughts. Not a place he recognized or had ever seen before, but he did know what and where it was. Wasting not a second, he opened a Portal where he stood with his right index finger walking through to his private fourth-floor study where he needed to gather a couple of scrolls and his second surprise for Chara before using the information he was just given to face her, but this time on his terms and with both his surprises at the ready.
* * * *
She’d only been breathing again for a few brief moments, face down in the dirt. Aware of her own death and rebirth, she felt herself with her left hand where she’d been severed in half by the Portal. Feeling no scar, or wound, or pain, she started to upright herself with her right hand still holding her katana. She leveraged it to help her to her feet. It wasn’t that she was still wounded, but just… Something felt very different about her. Neither new nor old. Gathering her bearings, pushing those thoughts she hadn’t the time to afford to the back of her mind, she looked around for Damon. Searching beyond this place for her tether to him to pinpoint his location. What have you done, Banthis rebuked Damon internally.
(Damon’s Manor, Kaleion, Present Day)
Hard breath pushed at the comforter to let him free while his memory of Chara, Banthis, and that thing that had come to visit him, reflected in the black mirrors of his soul. His face now ice, his body stiff, as he remembered… The image of Victoria’s body surprisingly still standing in his doorway reflected in the glass of the master bedroom windows as he began bringing himself back—thankfully. Memories were a vile creation. If he only had the courage to wipe them forever from his mind, he would have done so long ago.
The die had been cast. His master plan now set. His mind made up. Damon was arguably the most powerful mage on the planet, and yet his power was a nit in comparison to what he would need to execute his plans. He needed to think. He needed to research new power sources he could use for his magic, and he knew he wouldn’t find the answers on his homeworld.
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