“Did you have trouble finding her?” A voice demanded from out of the darkness. The voice, though strong, cracked heavily like unfolding parchment. It was the voice of an old man, a very old man if Annie didn’t miss her guess. And yet there was something familiar about it, something in the resonance that caused an involuntary shudder in her spirit. Could it be that she was bonded to this pile of dust and bones? Annie tried to rise to get a look at her would-be benefactor, but the boot pressed again, and Annie resigned herself to awaiting the pleasure of her host with her face pressed to the floor.
“No,” the man above her responded to the older man’s question. “She wasn’t hard to find. She was exactly where you said she’d be.”
There was a moment of silence; then the raspy voice said, “Bring in the packages.”
Annie started at that last command. The power behind it was staggering and bespoke far more than a man issuing an order to an underling. It was charged with sorcery, flowing from the man’s mouth to one of the goons, the one without the boot. Though trapped in this physical shell, Annie’s eyes were fully open to the Spirit Realm, and what she saw transformed her previous shivers into out-and-out paralysis. These men were tethered to the sorcerer. Thin tendrils of sorcery stretched between the sorcerer and the men, pulsing with muted orange light as commands were issued. This then explained the superhuman strength. The men may not be sorcerers in their own right, but they were fed by one; in fact, controlled by one. The men were puppets, nothing more. They had no free will, no desires beyond the will of their sorcerer master. Sorcerers with such power were rare. They dealt almost exclusively with greater demons, the elect of the Spirit Realm. Greater demons were the Master’s favorites, and subsequently, they held power beyond imagining. With such power at his disposal, what could a sorcerer who had bonded to a greater demon possibly want with a lesser demon like Annie?
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