A Whisper of Dusk, Chapter 1, Sojourn’s Ending

A Whisper of Dusk, Chapter 1, Sojourn’s Ending

Despite my fatigue, Zrihea’s dream sending left me awake for a goodly while afterwards. This resulted in some free time for me to brood upon my situation. At first, I tried to relax by allowing myself to luxuriate in the sensation of my overly large bed sheets. They held an organic feel to them that felt similar to the clothing that Victoria the Spider Girl had crafted for me. Both were durable yet comfortable.

Feeling the smoothness of them upon my bare skin, I got the urge to wrap their silkiness around me and remain quiescent for hours. They were that compelling.

If not for the Great Maou’s Summoning, my sleep would have been disturbed for more carnal reasons. Inevitably, my churning mind turned to thoughts of Odinne. I did not envy her situation.

While I had enjoyed spanking Messalina; I now felt guilt for that pleasure, Because I realized then that Odinne would be frantic with worry.

From what I knew of the Authority, they would inform her of nothing more than the obvious: That my apartment had been destroyed, and that they were unable to locate my body or any trace of same. They would find my Personal Identification Chip-Card along with my untouched financial account somewhere in the ruins.

Nor did I envy the investigative team’s task of ascertaining what had destroyed my apartment. There would find no trace of accelerant or explosive residue because neither had been used. Magic, in that world, was relegated to children’s stories. My disappearance from that world would remain as mysterious as my arrival.

Eventually, I came to terms with the fact that sleep would elude me that night. Getting up, I went out onto my balcony (with my Periapt!). There was no sign of Vasi, which was just as well.
Once again, my view of the surrounding city was occluded by the constant darkness. According to Aeshma, this dark time was actually daytime to the neighboring human states. Apparently, the extreme levels of Demonic Energy here in the seat of the Overlord’s realm had the ability of altering the local environment to one more suited to Demons and Monsters. A sort of magical terraforming.

I also felt discomfited that it was my second morning there and l had not yet adapted to the feel of the surrounding air. I still had the uncomfortable impression that it was attempting to worm its way in under my skin. This constant sensation was aggravating.

That aggravation, combined with the ominous dream message I had received the previous night, along with Belphegor’s machinations, left me in a funk. But, my mood was elevated when I observed the sun peeking through the endless clouds for a few seconds.

I just stood there for a couple more hours observing what I could of the city and waiting for a repeat viewing of the sun. Eventually, my maid, Afrodille (Kikimora) joined me in silently watching the view. It seemed out of character for her to do so. But, it was good for my mood to have some company.

When I mentioned to her my witnessing of the sun, Afrodille became anxious. According to her, such a sighting of the sun was locally known as a “Whisper of Dusk”; and was considered a bad omen to the one who had observed it. She asked me to be careful that day. I took her concerns serious and assured her that I would. She then informed me that she had made her speciality breakfast that day: Crêpes de fruits prisonniers. 

Then, was when Vasi (Harpy) returned from whatever business she had been about. Naturally, I invited her to breakfast. She was most curious as to where I had been the evening before, and what had happened therein. She seemed out of character, in that she listened more than she talked this time.

She seemed fascinated with the notion of spankings, and requested that I give her a demonstration. She was athrill when I promised that I would give her one in the future, once I had managed to purchase a hairbrush. I also noticed that Afrodille had been listening in, and had gotten visibly flustered over my descriptions of the previous night’s festivities. All in all, it was good to have a conversation with Vasi. Even if all she did was keep steering the conversation back to spanking.

Soon after breakfast, Aeshma (Succubus) arrived and informed me of my day’s plans. It was time for me to meet Director Maki  (Blue Oni) again, as I was to undergo a rigorous assessment of my Combat Abilities. For that, we journeyed together to the Magic Proving Grounds, located just outside the city proper. The assessment was not only for my abilities, but also to see how well I would fit in military wise. I felt that I would be more effective in my service to the Great Maou, by commanding some troops.

The Director’s assessment took several hours, lasting well past dark noon. Overall, the tests were thorough, yet tiring. It was good to be able to stretch my muscles again, both Magical and Mundane, as I was getting restless with my confinement. During the testing, I was required to wear a set of bracers for my protection. My sword work was effective in preventing their need, but they were rather comfortable to wear so I received permission to continue wearing them after.

After my testing was completed, Director Maki gave me her assessment. In her opinion, I was Exceptional in, Magical Hand to Hand, particularly my Blast-Punch and Shield Buckler, along with, several other combat spells that I (Secundus) had demonstrated.

I exceeded Expectations in, Mundane Hand to hand, particularly in the Sword-work that I (Tertius) displayed, along with my/our ability in the unarmed martial arts.  She was also enamored of my ability to: ‘improvise on the go’, as she put it. (Quintus).

She did not test me in the Psychic Arts. This was due to the fact that their resident expert (A Mind Flayer) had been called away to deal with a home emergency. She told me that I would be tested in such, at some unknown future date.

Her last assessment left me feeling out of sorts. She felt that I was on the border between ‘Needs Improvement’ and ‘Unsatisfactory’ on Teamwork. I suppressed my temper and waited until I heard her reasoning before making any comments. She began her explanation while keeping her mien professional.

“Now even though you may have been a Commanding Officer,” She began, looking me straight in the eyes from across her desk, “You have done so in places ruled by Law. My concern lies with the fact that the Demon Lord’s Army is one influenced by Chaos.”

“I have worked with Demonic Armies before, Director, why should this one be any different?” I countered. She smiled at me then with a mischievous look in her eyes. That made me wonder what kind of trap I had set for myself.

“Let me ask you this Arawn: In either of the militaries in which you’ve worked before, Law or Chaos, what happened when your troops deserted?” 

“For Law, they were caught and court-martialed then given a choice to return to duty or be executed. For Chaos, it was either a bounty placed on their head, or a summary execution.” I answered almost instantly.

“In the Demon Lord’s Army desertion is rampant and expected.”  She replied. I blinked.

“Are you serious, Director Maki?” I asked, wondering if this was not a joke on her part.

“Completely.” She replied. “They desert because they have achieved their goal, which is to capture a husband from amongst either the enemy troops they fight with, or from one of the cities they’ve captured.”

It took my having her repeat herself several times, before I could comprehend what she said.

“Then you must have a rather rapid turnover in troops, Director.” I observed dryly.

“We do indeed, Arawn.” She said expectantly, as she smiled at me with her chin supported with her fists. This seemed out of character for her. I soon realized why when a stray thought occurred to me.

 “There is likely little chance that I, as a non-married male, would be given command of husband-hungry troops.” I concluded with no small amount of trepidation. She just nodded, continuing to smile. I sighed, and resisted the urge to pinch my nose.

“Are there ANY males in command, in the Demon Lord’s Army?” I asked with a small degree of desperation.

“Yes, there are.” She answered. Somehow I knew what she would say next “They’re all married. Unmarried males in the Demon Lord’s Army, other than as War Booty, is unprecedented. But, an exception could be made for you.”

 “Your abilities could indeed prove useful to the Great Maou, Arawn.” She hesitated then sighed. “Regardless of your desire to command troops, I would advise you to regard matrimony as an inevitable necessity on your part.” THAT was not something I cared to hear. But in the end, I could see her point. She continued.

“I feel that you should start with the lowest rank in the Army, then work your way up. This will give you ample time to learn the ins and outs of Mamono society, and how best to fit in.” I noticed then that she was unable to hide that sly look on her face.

“Ins and outs?” I echoed. Her sly look turned to one of amusement. I doubt that innuendo of hers was accidental.

Maki went on to explain that the Demon Lord’s Army did have a program of Mentoring exceptional individuals (such as myself), that would allow me a chance to ‘fast-track’ into the ranks of an Officer. But, I also ran the risk of ‘burning out’ if I was not careful, or if I proved to be too arrogant. I quickly gave her my answer: Mentor.

She was pleased with my response and let me know that I had a choice to make, but not that day. I could choose one of four duty locations where I would receive my mentoring. Additionally, I was given the option of choosing which individual to Mentor me, as there were several candidates at each duty location.

The duty options were: Fort Maou, located near the city of Royal Makai. Fort Druella, located in the still fairly recent converted country of Lescatie. Fort Polove, located in another converted country, and Fort Eequor, located in a Demon Friendly city-state far from, well, just about every other country.

I immediately discounted Fort Eequor for its isolation. I also discounted Fort Maou, because even though the city was invaded fairly regularly by the Order, it was considered to be a ‘corruption fruit’ assignment. My preference would be to get my knocks in the trenches, so to speak.  But I also wanted something that would keep me far from Belphegor.

To that end, it was a choice for me between Fort Druella, and Fort Polove. Lescatie had been experiencing more attacks from the Order, who wished to retake it. As opposed to Polove, which was considered to be a more vulnerable target. After weighing the options, I was leaning more towards Polove. But, I remained undecided, due to a ‘gut instinct’ that I have relied on in countless situations.

Director Maki seemed to appreciate that I took what she said to heart. And that I did not prove to be dragon-headed about her assessments. She then asked if I would be willing to submit to some additional testing that day. Despite the lateness of the hour, I readily agreed.

After leaving a message for Aeshma, who had been taking an extended break with her husband, Director Maki and I departed to visit a particularly onerous landmark located in an out of the way spot, an hour’s journey away from the Overlord’s castle.

Along the way outwards, the Director pointed out to me many notable features of the Makai Demon realm: Geographic anomalies (Migrating Levitating Boulders), and unusual flora and fauna (unusual to me).

Everywhere I looked, the earth was almost uniformly black in color. There were some differences of shading, but overall it was Black.  We crossed a pair of rivers that appeared to glow a bright pink. The plant life itself, appeared to be almost exclusively black in color with the occasional glowing purple.

Of the Flora, we passed by a number of the groves of a species of tree called: Tentacles. Apparently, this Tentacle plant plays an important yet optional, part in the Demonic reproduction cycle. She did caution me that I should never approach one of them, without having a female nearby that I was on good terms with.

When I asked why such was necessary, her answer left me shaken. Occasionally, the citizens of the realm would become sexually involved with the plants. Often, against their will. I vowed to maintain a healthy distance from them in the future.

Of the Fauna, we saw two kinds of Demonic megafauna, the Demon Realm Boar, and the Makai Long-Pig (also known as: Damned Things). The Boar was quite the sight to see, what with its enormous curved tusks. It also seemed to be the most popular beast of burden for the traffic we encountered along the way.

Unfortunately, I only got a fleeting glimpse of one of the Damned Things. According to Maki, that was a good thing, since they were known for being intensely curious creatures with a proclivity for getting underfoot. Which by itself is no mean feat considering its size. (As near as I could tell, It was two to three times the size of a Demon Realm Boar).

Additionally, there were ruins in abundance in the countryside: cenotaphs, ossuaries, cemeteries, and ancient palaces. No few of which were being excavated by the Royal Makai Museum of Unnatural History. It was during that journey that the Director gave me the details concerning my own Artifact’s discovery by a Hakutaku named: Professor Kutabe. Maki pointed out the spot in which my Covenant Artifact had been found. But, nothing in that area seemed familiar to me.

I did grow pensive during the trip. I was facing the very real possibility that if I wished to remain in service to the Great Maou, let alone the world in which I now found myself in, I WOULD have to find someone to marry. I discussed the matter with Director Maki and asked for advice, asking if she was aware of my status as an Immortal. She was aware of such, and was empathetic concerning my desire for an equally long-lived mate. I was disconcerted to hear that Baphomets were the longest lived of Demons. My thoughts immediately turned to Mastema and Belphegor. ‘If only Bel looked more like Mastema.’ I mused.

Our eventual destination was known as the Tower of Ossymand; She, being one of the Great Maou’s long ago predecessors. Ossymand was also a rather conceited individual (even by Demonic standards), known for commanding innumerable monuments be built commemorating her rule. Since her overthrow, all of them, with one notable exception, had been torn down and their materials used for other, more useful projects.

The Tower of Ossymand had been deemed an eyesore by the Great Maou, and scheduled for destruction. But, since she was busy with other more important problems in her reign, the tower had been designated a low priority. As such, it had proven to be useful as a spell-target for the Makai Proving grounds when assessing Magi and their Offensive spells; Thus, my visit.

 Director Maki felt that I had been ‘holding back’.  As such, she wanted to observe me going full bore.
 She was correct. I had been holding back. If I had not, I would have ended up destroying property, and possibly imperiling the lives of innocents.

“Great Maker!” I stated to Director Maki when I saw the edifice. An eyesore it was indeed. Even in the low light conditions that the Demons of this realm called ‘day’; it was hideous beyond belief.

“It’s been said, that one of the reasons that it has withstood being torn down for so long, is that anyone inclined to do so, would have had to risk opening their eyes.” Director Maki informed me, while she studiously avoided looking at the object in question.

We were approximately a kilometer and a half away from the 200-meter tall obscenity. Even at that distance, my eyes watered at its ghastly sight.

“I can understand the desire for its destruction, Director Maki. It would be a public service destroying that …thing.” I stated, waving my hand in the general direction of it.

“Indeed.” She said. “Even though, I am impressed with what you call your intrinsic ‘Force-Blast’ and ‘Shield-Buckler’ spells, I still feel the need to observe you ‘cutting loose’.”

“Thank you, Director.” I replied, “I too look forward to the opportunity to do so. It has been too long a while.”

“You may proceed at any time, Arawn.”

“By your command Director,” With that, I stepped away and raised my arms in preparation. Then a thought occurred to me.

“Is the immediate area of the obelisk clear of any bystanders?” I asked.

“There shouldn’t be anyone there, it’s clearly stated to be a forbidden zone.” She replied.

“I shall check first, just to be safe.”

‘Quartus! (1)’

‘Yes, Primus? (4)’

‘Psi-tendrils. (1)’

‘Ready. (4)’ With that, I extended my Psi Tendrils to check for life signs. Out, out, they stretched, out to the obelisk and at least 200 meters beyond it. I could detect nothing there, apparently even the local fauna could not abide being near that thing. Which, I considered to be good in more ways than one. Director Maki patiently observed my standing there in silence. Suddenly.

“Oh! What was that!?” I said, startled, opening my eyes. She looked at me in surprise.

“What’s wrong?”

“I think there is someone out there. Standby.” Then, with Quartus assistance, I began a methodical search pattern in the vicinity of the spot that I thought I had detected a presence. It took several more minutes, but I felt it was necessary. My patience paid off- I detected not one, but four individuals in the vicinity of the tower.

“There is a small group of people within the obelisk’s hypothetical collapse zone.” I stated. “I will attempt to teleport them out, so as to save time.”

‘Quartus, Quintus. (1)’ I stated.

‘Aye? (4,5)’ they returned.

‘Quartus, prepare to teleport the four individuals. (1)’

‘Where to? (4)’ He asked.

‘Nearby, Director Maki will undoubtedly wish to have a word with them for their trespassing. Quintus (1)’

‘Yes, Primus? (5)’

‘Estimated Mana consumption? (1)’

‘Minimal, it will take only a few minutes to replace the amount used. (5)’

‘Proceed! (1)’

Within a few seconds, a group of four individuals appeared 3 meters away behind us, relative to the Obelisk. A Dragon, a Jinko, and a Lizardman, along with their Incubus: a red-headed individual whose eyes were just beginning to take on a purplish tinge. The Incubus and his harem had apparently been engaged in a group effort of ‘quality time’.
When they appeared, they seemed perplexed by their sudden change of venue. Director Maki spoke sternly at them, but berated them for only a short while then she chose to tell them: “Carry On!”

They did.

I then proceeded to do an additional examination of the collapse zone, just to be sure. Another few minutes, and I was satisfied that there wasn’t anyone else there. I then extended my Psi-tendrils to examine the obelisk itself.

What I perceived, was daunting. It apparently had been carved out of a massive block of Azul Do Mar: one of the hardest granitic rocks in existence, this helped to explain why the obelisk had endured for so long.

I looked forward to the challenge of its destruction.

I then assessed the obelisk for natural flaws, fissures, and its inherent grain. After doing that, I retracted my Psi-tendrils. Looking over to the Director, I was able to distract her attention from the four-some long enough to let her know what I intended. The Director was skeptical that I could accomplish anything more than defacing it.

I just smiled to her in response, and began my preparations by stepping several meters away from that maddening crowd.

Standing tall, and closing my eyes, I extended my arms out parallel to the ground- and felt for the ambient energies of the local area. Despite the overabundance of Demonic Energy, I was still unfamiliar enough with such that I chose to not utilize it.

After all, there is seldom anything more dangerous than an individual fooling around with Magic he is not trained in.

There! Earth magic aplenty, free for the taking! I sink a tap into it and continued my search. There! An unused reservoir of Orgonic Energy, another tap. Over there was an unmarked grave of an ancient Phooka, another tap; and so, I continue.  Finally, I am satisfied with my collection of twenty-six taps. It is a good spot. I am pleased.

I then open all of the taps to myself at once; many other Magi would have done so serially. With my having lived as long as I have, I could handle parallel. I suck in air through my clenched teeth as I feel the rush of them all at once. The sensation is almost sexual in nature it is so pleasurable. I maintain control, despite the rush.

I allow the energies to infuse within me. Then, as I twist my arms up over my head, I allow the polar opposite energies to repel each other and collect in my hands. Opening my eyes, I can see in my right hand, a large coruscation of reddish light concentrated upon my palm. On my left is a bluish sphere of same. Now began the dangerous part.

The energies in either sphere, are opposite to the other. If they came in contact at an inopportune time- bad things would occur. The challenge is to make them contact when I want them to- within the Obelisk. With all of my not-brother’s help, I work to achieve such.

I modify the temporal phase of the blue sphere, to make it out of sync with the red. It is always dangerous mucking about with time. But, since this is an out of the way spot, I deem that it is worth the risk. Slowly, yet carefully, I combine the two spheres over my head. Even so, there is still some resistance to their joining. As a result no few sparks are emitted to land upon my head and shoulders, singeing holes in my clothing and hair.

Finally, they are together: An indomitable conglomeration of Arcane energies held within my hands!

‘Quintus! Target! (1)’ I demand.

‘Location? (5)’ he quizzes.

‘The obelisk’s apex. (1)’

‘Standby…, targeting……,locked! (5)’

With that, I transfer the sphere of energy into my right hand, pulling it down and back till it is at shoulder level and aimed at the distant structure. I inhale, and then I step forward with my right foot, shifting my left leg and hip backwards. This transfers my body’s kinetic energy through my right hand and to the sphere, and inertia takes over.
 Swiftly, the sphere launches itself across the plains towards its destination. 30 meters out, it flares blindingly bright as it begins its own countdown of self-destruction.

Director Maki, and the motley group of Monster-girls and their Incubus give a small cry at the sight. I cross my arms and wait. It is beyond my control now.

My sphere of destructive energy shrinks as it approaches its destination, then passes it by!
Imperceptibly at first, but with an increasing amount of noticeability, the sphere begins to arc upwards. It continues to arc, seemingly using the apex of the obelisk at its focal point. From my view it reaches its zenith, hesitates for a moment, then begins its downward slant. Finally, it impacts the Obelisk’s apex, the top most point of the edifice. Its impact is anticlimactic. Barely, just barely, I can see a few stones fly off from the very top. Nothing happens, other than that.

Well, at first.

Nearby, the silent expectation is broken only by the loud laughing of the Incubus along with the disappointed looks directed my way by the rest of the group, Director Maki seems the most crestfallen, as she refuses to look at me.

The Incubus plods over to me, giving me a slow clap. I notice then, that in addition to his red hair, and bright blue/purplish eyes, he has a neatly trimmed beard, along with a scar racing across his left cheek, He speaks.

“I have to give it you, you really had us going there for a second. It was a nice light show!” He speaks sarcastically.

I, with my arms still crossed, turn my shoulders to look at him full on, and smile by way of reply.

He is surprised by what happens next.

From the direction of the now ignored Obelisk, everyone’s head (save mine) is jerked to attention by a thunderous CRACK that erupts from it.

I turn my head to watch, and I see what I had expected. There are cracks spreading from the apex of the obelisk, downwards they travel- along the paths of the edges and the edges alone. Swiftly, they pass the vertices of the top and continue down till they reach the base of the tower. At which point everything seemingly stops. Then, one enormous sound of fracturing occurs and then the obelisk is still once more.

Slowly, it appears that the pyramid at the top of the obelisk is opening. But such is a trick of the lighting. It is not the top that is opening. It is the entirety of the obelisk that is doing so!

Akin to a massively jawed behemoth’s yawn, four equal sections of the obelisk begin to spread out and away from each other in four directions.

Slowly at first, but with increasing alacrity the four tower quarters continue their slow arc out and downwards from each other. It takes mere seconds, but that gargantuan tower impacts the plain beneath with four resounding concurrent THUDS, that are felt in the ground moments before they are heard. I see a massive cloud of dust expanding up and outwards from the now, thoroughly, destroyed tower, heading our way.

Before we are all engulfed, I see Director Maki shooting a look of apologetic look of utter surprise in my direction. I almost laugh at the sight of her perfectly coiffed white hair blowing in the breeze. The Incubus runs off, choosing to not lose contact with his harem. Then, we are engulfed in the dust storm that hisses almost silently as it passes us by.

It takes a few minutes, but the dust settles down, and I can admire the beauty of the Royal Makai horizon, now much improved.

Director Maki coughs and comes over to me, looking both impressed and sheepish.

“Well done, Arawn.” She speaks in a quiet voice as she dusts herself off. “Shall we go home?”

“No.”

“Why?” she asks, perplexed.

“Because, I am not finished,” I reply quietly. Maki blinks at me confusedly. Before she can ask again, I comment.

“Historically speaking, Director.” I continue, “It has always been easier to destroy, than it has been to create.” I turned then to face the now fallen tower and its debris.

“The Great Maou wanted to see what level of power I can command, did she not?” I said, turning my head to look at the Director in the eye. She nods quietly.

“Well then, let me give you the opportunity to make a memorable report to her.”

“What do you mean?”

“That!” turning back, I gestured to the now thoroughly destroyed obelisk.  “That little demonstration hardly made a dent in my levels of Mana. What I intend to do next, is much more involved. It will be much more taxing, and will likely deplete my Mana, my Essence, for several days.” I turn and look at her. “Is such acceptable?” She thinks about my suggestion for several seconds. A smile grows across her face.

“Yes. It is acceptable. I am curious as to see what you have in mind, Arawn.” Nodding my head, I kneel upon the ground and begin.

Gentlemen, (1)’ I began.

‘I speak for everyone else Primus, what do you have in mind? (5)’

‘I am of thinking to take care of some ‘urban renewal’. In particular I am desirous of rebuilding that tower, but into a form more suitable for the Great Maou’s regime. (1)’ I then present a mental image up for my not-brothers to see and assess.

‘OOOOoooooh! (2)’ interjected Secundus, ‘I LIKE that! (2)’

‘I thought you might. (1)’ I replied smugly. After a few seconds, Quintus reports.

‘You are correct in that we will be depleted of Mana in the construction for what you desire. Seeing as that we already have permission, there is no reason to delay. Is there any reason why you feel the need for this particular form? (5)’

‘Because I feel that a sufficiently powerful and ostentatious display of our ability will buy us all some free time afterwards. Especially, as I feel that I/we all need some rest, and I would like to take steps towards restocking the Sanctuary in private. (1)’

‘A fair point, Primus. But I would like to point out, that you may very well need to seek additional outside sources for the amount of Mana needed. (5)’

‘Suggestions? (1)’

‘The Watchtower Guardians (5)’

‘An excellent notion. But wait! Do they still exist in this realm? (1)’

‘No reason why they should not. They are, after all, eternal. (5)’

‘Thank you, Quintus. I will take that under advisement. Out. (1)’

I then began my preparations, while Quintus readied all of us and our respective ‘Essence’ in the background of my mind. As to the Watchtower Guardians, I was ambivalent. I might have been able to accomplish my task without their help, but my efforts would have ended up being ‘half-assed’ as Secundus would put it. I feel that it is in my nature to do all things, ‘fully-assed’.

I stood up and faced the East, then shouted.

“Hail to the Guardian of the Watchtower of the East! Powers of Air and Invention. Hear me!” I turned and faced the South.

“Hail to the Guardian of the Watchtower of the South! Powers of Fire and Feeling. Hear me!” I turned and faced the West.

“Hail to the Guardian of the Watchtower of the West! Powers of Water and Intuition. Hear me!” Finally, I turned and faced the North.

“Hail to the Guardian of the Watchtower of the North! Powers of Mother and Earth. Hear me!” I then turned and faced the ruined Obelisk.

“Aid me please, in my magical work on this day in Royal Makai!” I stated solemnly. “I pray of thee, I pray of thee! I REQUEST Thee, Serpent of Old, Ruler of Deep, Guardian of the Bitter Sea, Show me your Glory, Show me your Power, I pray of Thee! I REQUEST Thee, Fill me with your Blessing!”

Suddenly, I hear Director Maki ask.
“Why are you ‘requesting’? It’s traditional to Invoke them!” I hiss in agitation as her interjection breaks my concentration. I turn and glare at her in annoyance, baring my teeth. Her eyes widen fearfully as she realizes her mistake.

“My apologies Arawn, I did …” I interrupt her.

“It is alright Director.” I breathe in to calm myself. Then I give her a smile to soothe her fears. “I guess I should expect such from an investigator into Magics both great and small.” She relaxes visibly. I continue.

“An Invocation is too alike to a Summoning for my taste.” I began, giving her my full attention. “Being summoned is something that I would prefer not happen to me.” I see her look at me for a second quizzically. Then, I see it: Comprehension spreads across her face, her mouth gaping slightly. I nod.

“Since I did not care for being Summoned away from the life that I had built.” I said, thinking once more of HER. “How hypocritical would it be for me to do that kind of dirt against another?” Maki looked thoughtful for a second, ruminating over my words. I waited patiently for her next reply.

“But,” she began. “If you are requesting their aid, would that not mean that they might refuse to do so?” She finishes quickly.

“Yes, it would. Occasionally, they do.” I shrug.

“But…” she starts. I hold my hand up to interrupt. She stops.

“Let me ask you this, Director.” I think about it for a second, my tongue tracing the outline of one tooth, trying to find the right combination of words. I sigh.

“I would imagine that in your lifetime, you have been ordered to do many a task that you would have preferred not to, correct?” She nods with a neutral expression.

“Now, if you would, how would you feel, if say, someone who has always ordered you, suddenly, ‘asked’ you to do those things?” I tilt my head at her and continue. “But with no repercussions if you did not?” She thought about it for a few seconds, and replied.

“I’d feel confused at first. Then, I would be inclined to find out if she was serious. Test her, to see if she was being honest.” I smile.

“And after your curiosity is satiated?” She thought a bit more. “What would your enthusiasm be like then?” After a few seconds, a grand smile spread across her face as she turns and looks at me in a new light. “I would be inclined to do so again. But with more enthusiasm.” She replies quietly. I raise my hands in mock surrender.

“You will find that that is pretty much the same reaction the Guardian Entities have as well. There is something to be said for giving someone, anyone, the right of refusal. They may follow my directions solely out of curiosity, but what counts to me, is that they follow of their own free will.”

 I turned to resume my benediction. I look over at Maki to try and insure that she will not interrupt anymore. She agrees with a blink of her eyes.

I faced the East and restarted my Hails. After completion of the four cardinal points, I extend my senses up and out into the Aether. I did not have long to wait. Tentatively at first, but with increasing magnitude, I feel the Awareness of the four Guardians upon my person, in that kind of Un-speech that takes place with non-human sentients.
With Quintus’ help I open up an Un-speech mind window. Our conversation began.

“SCRUTINY (E,S,W,N)” I receive from them all.

“INDEBTED” I reply.

“INQUIRY (E,S,W,N)” They ask.

“PROPOSAL” I tell them my desire.

“INTERROGATIVE (E,S,W,N)” They ask for more information.

“DETAILS”, they are silently contemplative in response.

“PONDERING (E,S,W,N)” I have only seconds to wait for their reply.

“AMUSEMENT (E,W,N)” Most of them are enthusiastic.

“DISGUST/INDIFFERENCE (S)” I sigh, such was bound to happen.

“APPRECIATION” I state, as I close the Un-speech mind window. I can still hear the enthusiastic chuckling (equivalent)  of the three willing Guardians echoing in my head.

Opening my eyes, I can see Director Maki staring at me as it has taken only a handful of seconds for the Un-conversation between me and the Guardians to occur. I give her a weary nod of my head.

“Success Director, for the most part. The Guardian of the South refuses to even consider my plan.” She looks worried. “It is no matter. For what I would do, I will need only two of the Guardians’ investment of abilities and power.”

“Is there anything I can do to assist?”

“As a matter of fact, yes there is.” I begin. “This will take an incredible amount of delicacy on my part. Please try to keep that group,” I pointed to that Incubus and his harem, who were now attempting to impregnate the Lizardman, “from being too loud or disruptive.”

I felt the need for that warning after observing that their sexual play seemed to involve rolling around together over huge tracts of land.

With that, I stepped away, and began. For anyone observing me, they would have seen a lone human standing apart, arms spread, head bowed. For anyone with second sight, they would have been overwhelmed by the symphony of powers involved, along with my rendition as conductor of same.

I slowly become aware of everything in the plane surrounding me. I and my not-brothers work in collaboration with the Guardians’ lent power. Imperceptibly at first, but with an ever-increasing level of awareness, I become aware of the saturation of the land and the distant stones of the now shattered obelisk become infused with the Arcane energies of the three amicable Watchtower Guardians. I take stock of, and count the innumerable stones and boulders.

What Director Maki, and eventually the group of Mamono saw with their limited sight, was something else entirely. They saw a lone eccentric male standing apart from them facing the ruined obelisk a kilometer and a half away. His arms are spread, palms facing out. For the first few seconds nothing happens. Then, they begin to notice that their hair and fur begins standing on end, as if charged with static electricity. I alone remain unaffected.

Off in the distant collapse zone, one of the larger debris boulders visibly lurches. Then, as time goes on another and then another does so as well. Slowly, surely, more and more of them start to herk and jumble, as if someone invisible were pushing at them.
A half minute more, a cloud of dust around the collapse zone starts to appear like the morning mist with the rising of the sun, and then it begins to swirl.

This vortex obscures the sight of the boulders, but only for a moment.
Then, one by one, small rocks begin to arise within the dust vortex, spiraling around the base of the former tower. More and more the small rocks are joined in with their larger cousins, until at last, every last stone from the shattered obelisk has tumbled upwards into the air. There they are, all flying and swirling around as if they were motes of dust in a room being cleaned.

In a vast column that expands upwards to a height well in excess of the original tower, there arises a solitary tornado of dust, debris, and rock that remains rooted in one spot, the site of the ruined tower. Director Maki and the others begin to hear what sounds like a thousand waterfalls falling, emanating from the vortex.
Through it all, I remain still like unto a steel caryatid, seemingly unminding of my immediate surroundings, my eyes are clenched shut, concentrating on my self-appointed task. Distantly I am aware that I am perspiring freely. Which Director Maki eventually notices as well.

In my awareness, I notice her biting her lip in consternation, Director Maki looks at me worriedly. She knows, that even though I am a powerful entity in my own right, I am still a human being susceptible to errors, errors that could damage me irreparably.

But she knows better than to try and interrupt me now. All she can do is wait, observe, and hope for the best.

 ‘Quintus! (1)’ I said shakily. ‘Are we ready? (1)’

‘All is prepared, Primus! Ready at your command! (5)’

‘Execute! (1)’ I mentally shouted.

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At that moment that Arawn gave the command to begin the final phase, he raised his hands till they met above his head and clasped them firmly to each other. There between his doubled fists, sprang forth a Scarlet light, a light that shone alone fiercely in the wilderness far outside the capital city of Royal Makai. Off in the distance, the twirling miasma of rocks, dust, and boulder began to glow with the same intense sheen and colour as the light between Arawn’s fingers.

Maki’s concern for him intensified when she glanced over at him for a second and saw that he was shaking, almost it seemed, uncontrollably. His sweat was staining and spreading out noticeably across his clothing.
She gave an involuntary step towards him before catching herself. She couldn’t see his face, but if she had, she might have intervened despite his request.

The towering carousel of dust continued to pick up speed in its implacable fury, the innumerable boulders and rocks disappeared from view, hidden behind the dust of the localized storm.
A cacophony of sounds suddenly resounded outwards, as if a hundred stone giants wrestled within the un-seeable nether portion of the cloud. Then, strangely, after several seconds, the sounds ceased. Yet the twirling glow cloud continued its motion.

Maki ignored it all, her sole concentration upon Arawn. Then, she saw him stop shaking as he collapsed. With a cry of dismay, she swiftly leapt catching him before he could impact the ground.

“Damnable male, what is it with Men and their machismo?!” she cried in frustration, as she gently lay him onto the ground. She then positioned his head upon her knees as she crouched down next to him. Relief washed over her after a few seconds his eyes opened and focused upon her. He beamed up at her.

“A tear Sarah Jane?” he whispered, panting. To which Director Maki looked confused. Arawn merely grinned in reply and spoke again.

“Sorry, an old joke Director. What do you think of my creation?” He turned his head and looked towards it. Maki followed his eyes, looking off into the distance, and couldn’t believe what she saw.

In the place of the horrible Obelisk that had existed just a few minutes ago, there now stood a more visually appealing, and slightly taller, roundish tower.

While the reddish glow of its creation was slowly fading away, she felt that there was only one word that could adequately describe it: Phallus.

There was now a massive Stone-Penis thrusting its way into the darkened heavens, with its concomitant dust cloud slowly settling, akin to a dusty bush of pubic hair. But even that disappeared as it settled to the ground.

“Your thoughts, Director?“ Arawn panted, trying to catch his breath. She looked down at him in exasperation, before giving the new edifice a more thorough visual inspection. She had to admit, it was indeed a well-executed imitation of the real deal. Proportionally, it would’ve been ideal for any Mamono who was lucky enough to have such an Incubus attached to it.

“An excellent job, Arawn.” She laughed. “The glans, the retracted foreskin, the shading, and the veins; not to mention the length, all look quite realistic.” She frowned in concentration.

“I just have one question.” She asked confusedly. “What are those hemispherical protrusions all along the shaft?”

“They are called: ‘Pearlings’, Director.” Arawn grinned lasciviously, “Are you telling me that your Incubi do not come with such standard accoutrements? Annwyfn do, always have.”

Director Maki gave him a one eyed, annoyed sidelong look by way of reply.

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After I had rested enough to recover enough strength to stand, I and Director Maki began our journey back to the city. Of the group of individuals whom I had teleported out of the collapse zone, there was no sign. Silently, I wished them the best in all of their future endeavors.

All the while during the return trip, I sensed that Director Maki wanted to ask me what my source of inspiration was for my creation, but she never did.

Just before we arrived at the Castle, was when it occurred: An Order Attack. With a bright purple flash, suddenly there was a gaggle of Order fighters in the courtyard that was filled with Mamono families. The much-vaunted Order discipline was lacking as they swiftly spread out, attacking anyone and everything that stood in their way.

Silently, I cursed myself and my vanity! I was physically exhausted and my Mana reserves were almost depleted! I was barely able to stand, yet I knew my duty. I HAD to do something, ANYTHING!

Panting, I stumbled out of the rickshaw, despite Director Maki’s attempt to make me stay. I told her and the Minotaur to get clear. As I did, an alarm from the castle guardians went forth! Unfortunately, it would take time for any assistance to arrive.

That was when I saw the child. Somehow, in the initial scuffle of the Order fighters, a Gazer child had got cut off from her parents. The poor thing was terribly frightened and screaming for her mother. Looming over her was an Order fighter looking down at her with disgust.

I saw him then, raising his battle-axe. His intention was clear, it did not matter to him that he was about to murder a child. All he saw was a monster.  As did I, but the one I saw was holding an axe.

Unfortunately, they both were a good ten meters away from me; even in a fully rested state I might not have been able to intervene in time.

But, I had recovered enough Mana for one spell. I had to make it count. A blast punch was too risky, what with the proximity of the child. Quickly, I made my decision.

I teleported.

A short-range protection teleportation, also known as: Castling.

I managed to place my body in between the child and that Order-Bastard’s weapon. I barely had enough time to cross my arms to block that axe, but somehow, I managed.

My bracers scarcely slowed its downward progress, and the ensuing pain of it slicing into my muscles and bones made me scream aloud. I had done it! I had prevented the child’s death.

Yet I was left in a bad situation: The child would soon need my help again. I was depleted of mana, exhausted, physically injured, and afflicted with post teleportation nausea. My flamboyance with the tower had incurred a substantial cost to me.

But, I was about to incur an irreplaceable one for that child’s life.

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4 thoughts on “A Whisper of Dusk, Chapter 1, Sojourn’s Ending”

  1. You finally picked up the pace, but what an awful cliffhanger to make; good job so far, you somehow manage to have world building without making an info dump, hats off to you sir.

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