Mors Funebris Chapter 1 Part 3
First-Technician Winnie, Fort Eequor’s go-to Gremlin for every technical problem deemed unrepairable, was far from happy. The reason for her foul mood was due to the one magi-technical problem that is the bane of technicians everywhere in the multiverse: The Intermittent one.
‘Blasted teleportation platform!’ she thought to herself angrily, as she flexed her oversized furry ears back onto her head.
‘There’s never a simple fix for you is there!?’ she silently raged while she glared intently at Platform # 8’s energizing coils. The coils were the one portion of the platform she suspected to be the root of the intermittent problem, at least this go around.
Ever since that strange new recruit had shown up that morning, this particular platform had been ‘acting up’, according to its assigned Porter-Techs.
First it had malfunctioned and shut itself off completely. Then it refused to allow itself to be turned back on. According to the Porter-Techs, they had managed a workaround that allowed it to resume operation. But only after a long interval that included creative spewing of insults and invective onto the equipment.
Afterwards, the platform’s own internal self-diagnostics indicated that the number eight platform was “functioning within normal parameters”. Yet, ever since normal operations resumed, Platform #8 had continued to have a sporadic problem.
Namely, that on every fifth teleportation, it simply would not allow anything or anyone to be ported in. Sometimes it said it was working ‘just fine’ despite, while other times the diagnostic would say there was a problem with a particular sub-unit.
Usually, that particular sub-unit was one of the most difficult ones to access and replace. The end result being, that the problem plagued Teleportation Platform, caused Unholy-Hell for the other already overworked platform techs who had to cover for it.
Eventually, after every other less experienced Porter-Tech had attempted to fix the problem and inevitably had thrown up her hands, or equivalent into the air, First-Tech Winnie was called in to work her own brand of magic.
But, try as she might, the bases’ top performing Gremlin couldn’t locate and eliminate the problem.
‘I’ve run diagnostics on this particular platform at least a dozen times after a replacement, and it keeps claiming that it is working perfectly fine!’ Winnie scowled angrily, as she leaned her petite form back onto the wall of the maintenance access tunnel to take a breather.
‘Yet every time the entire platform is energized and operated, it STILL refuses to allow anything or anyone to be ‘ported’ in on every fifth teleport!’ Winnie felt her frustration growing, as she screwed up her face and rubbed at her eyes with her gloved hands.
After a several minutes of Winnie mentally running through the inner workings of the undersides of Platform #8, Winnie came to a decision. She then reached over to her A.M.T.K. (autonomous-mobile-tool-kit), and held out a hand palm up.
The AMTK, or Amotok as she called it, was one of Winnie’s pride and joys. It was a little something she’d invented several years ago, when she still lived with her parents.
She felt that it was the next best thing to having an apprentice mooning over her. Unlike an apprentice, who always needed some kind of encouragement or praise, her Amotok would always do its job without its feelings being affected. The reason being, it didn’t have any.
Her AMTK automatically noted her gesture, initiated the appropriate routine, and selected one of her hand-tools based upon its constant readings of her mood and facial expressions. It then placed her most desired hand-tool onto her outstretched palm.
Feeling the weight of the selected tool in her hand, she immediately hefted it up to eye level, and subsequently gave out an audible growl.
“Bad Amotok!” she cried, grimacing. Her purple irised eyes crossed as she focused her attention upon not, a Fine-Moog Clamp as she had desired. But instead, a large ballpeen hammer. The one she used most often when she desired to hit something repeatedly, and with much cursing being involved.
‘Well,’ she thought to herself with a sigh, ‘as tempting as it is to engage in some percussive maintenance! General Scathach would have my head on a platter if I so much as damaged a single Teleporter.’ She concluded, as she lowered the hammer back down to her toolkit. Her AMTK then recognized her gesture and retrieved the hammer, storing it away in its designated spot. It then waited patiently for her to ‘request’ another tool.
‘This is beyond infuriating!’ Winnie thought silently, fidgeting. ‘Perhaps a Moog clamp isn’t what I need right now?’ she mused to herself. ‘The problem being is that I can’t think straight because I’m upset! And when I’m upset, mechanical things go awry!’ she grinned with the remembrance of her specie’s peccadilloes.
‘Perhaps some candy!’ she thought, her mouth-watering at the thought. ‘I don’t know why, but these access tunnels have been smelling like a chocolate factory for the entirety of the,…’ Winnie checked her timepiece and then groaned.
“Four and a half hours! Aaagh! That’s how long that I’ve been down here!” she groused, while one of her hands fell down and lay itself near her bare midriff. Winnie looked at her hand, and then her stomach and came to a decision.
“Nope!” she called out with a frown. “Candy is NOT what I need right now.” She said aloud while patting her stomach. “Anymore candy today, and I’ll be losing my girlish figure!” she grumbled.
“Again!” She winced and shuddered, remembering that time she ‘invented’ a Gremlin Body Fat-Trimmer. ‘I don’t want to go through THAT, ever again!’
“No.” she spoke aloud. “What I need is some one on one time with my boyfriend.” Winnie sighed with regret.
“But he’s not here, Maou-Damn it!”
‘However,’ she grinned as she remembered another of her devices. Winnie then reached out to her Amotok once more and made another gesture. This one involved her miming a grip upon a large cylindrical object. Her Amotok took only a fraction of a second to recognize her gesture, and then subsequently placed the correct item of her desire into her gloved hand.
With a small ‘ker-thud’ resounding in her feline-like ears, Winnie’s grin grew by leaps and bounds, as she focused hungrily upon the life-sized dildo replica of her current beau’s penis.
Ah! But this dildo wasn’t just another bit of rubber cast into a human-like form. Oh no! This dildo was another one of her inventions. Contained deep within the rubber, was a series of micro-complex devices that stored Human-Essence. Her current boyfriend’s Essence to be precise. An amount of which he eagerly ‘donated’, in case of a needful Emergency on her part.
As she had invented it to do, her beau’s Essence would be released into her, just as soon as she reached the height of her own ecstasy, thereby enhancing and augmenting it.
‘Not quite an emergency, but close enough!’ she grinned salaciously, as she began giving the rather long Essence-Dildo a loving licking end to end, lubricating it.
While doing so, she whimpered slightly. She wished it could be the real thing instead.
She then freed one of her hands from its confining glove, and then the other. After lying back and placing the saliva dribbled dildo between her nascent-budding breasts, she removed her cloth pants, revealing her womanly folds that were adorned with a small tuft of pubic hair atop her mons pubis.
Once more, she took a hold of her dildo and gave it another generous coating of saliva in preparation of her incipient impalement. A rather superfluous action, as her loins were already well on the way to being infused with her natural Gremlin-brand lubrication.
With one hand holding her current favorite dildo poised between her legs, and the other hand lightly stroking her chest and tummy, Winnie slowly lowered the glans-end of her dildo down to its intended target.
‘Oooooh!’ she moaned silently, as she began stroking her major labia with her dildo. ‘Aaaaahhh! This is just what I needed!’ she thought to herself, as her eyes rolled back into her head with the genital-sparkling pleasure. Her tongue lolled as she finally, spontaneously inserted the dildo’s glans-head fully into herself, stretching the minor labial lips. Then she moaned some more, as she enjoyed feeling it fill and widen her aperture to its limit.
Deeper and deeper she continued to push it resolutely inwards, until a seeming eternity later, she had managed to engulf nearly its entire length within her eager cavern. She held it there for a short savory moment. Then she began to slowly withdraw it, enjoying every bump and rise that was stimulating her crevice’s folds.
‘It’s too bad I’m not allowed to bring my boyfriend on the job.’ She thought to herself in her need. ‘But then if I did, I’d never get any work done!’ she giggled to herself as she withdrew her dildo nearly all of the way out. ‘Happy Gremlin, Happy Machinery!’
All of her coherent thoughts ebbed and washed away, as she began to plunge the Essence-Dildo into herself again and again, in an ever-increasing rate of speed and urgency. All the while, she was thinking solely of her lover’s rippling muscles and his delicious musky scent.
It was Winnie’s ill-luck that she had chosen to masturbate herself in the underside of the malfunctioning platform #8. But then if it wasn’t malfunctioning, she wouldn’t have been down there in the first place.
Ill-luck indeed, as in the depths of her mono-sexual pleasuring, she did not become aware of the fact that the Teleportation platform that she’d been working on, began to light up and to operate seemingly of its own accord.
At an ever mounting pace, she plunged her dildo into herself as she single-mindedly thought of her last sexual encounter with her current lover. All the while, she was imagining that it was his penis, and not a casting of it, that was pumping furiously within her.
Her ever increasing audible moans covered the sound of the platform humming itself into life. That, along with the quivering of her flesh bouncing in tune with the dildo’s rhythm, made it impossible for her to notice the platform’s vibrations of its implacable activation.
She also didn’t notice the subsequent ozone-like aura of Teleportation-capacitors charging up to its full measure, and then overflowing out into the access tunnel in which she lay. Within a second or two, the teleportation energies had reached over-saturation, causing Winnie’s hair, and fur to stand on end.
After several seconds more, Winnie’s sexual pleasuring reached its inevitable conclusion as she reached her screaming orgasm. Her Dildo-gizmo reacted accordingly, and released her beau’s stored Essence into the depths of her vagina in a massive sustained burst.
Sadly, the release of both the Human Essence life-energies, and Winnie’s innate Demonic Energy, caused an arcane chain reaction with the malfunctioning platform.
For within mere milliseconds, the platforms’ energies activated, causing a loudly audible sparking ‘bang!’. This then teleported Winnie and her dildo away, to a place previously unknown and unseen by any mortal eye, leaving behind her gloves and shorts as silent testimony to her prior existence.
No one at any of the other platforms noted her departure, being as they were focused on their own tasks. Her teleportation was just one of several others that had been taking place.
Her Amotok on the other hand, had no idea-equivalent about what to do concerning the sudden disappearance of its mistress. So, after the pre-arranged time limit of no-contact being reached, it simply shut itself down to preserve its charge.
Her disappearance was not noted until well into her next duty shift, many hours later.
Along about this time, Annwyfn Arawn was being guided towards his assigned quarters by his Mentor Tia. The pair of them were walking there, after finishing up a late lunch at the Mess-Hall, the Fort’s meal supplier that fulfilled the variegated dietary needs of a wide range of Mamono; herbivore or carnivore, solid or liquid.
Well, most of their needs that is. Tia informed him, that the individual troops were left to fend for themselves when it came to obtaining Human Essence. This was due to the Fort’s inability to locate a steady and sustainable supply of same.
Such, gave added impetus to the troop’s motivation to acquire husbands, when one of the rare mobilization orders came down the pipes. Until those times, they often roamed about the city seeking lovers from the transient Sailor population. The City’s citizenry having been decreed ‘off-limits’ from their depredations, unless otherwise authorized.
‘Perhaps I should take all of my meals within my apartment.’ Arawn mused silently to himself, thinking back to just a short while ago when he entered the Mess-Hall, and the subsequent chill that ran up his spine. For like unto a wave spreading out before him, meal conversations ceased as every head of every Mamono within that hall, turned and stared at him hungrily.
He could almost hear the saliva glands of the nearly two-hundred Monster-Girls sitting there, surging and moistening their mouths in that seemingly endless moment. All while he did his best to ignore them. Instead, he mimed Tia’s actions, and picked up a tray to stand in the meal line.
Or, what he assumed were their saliva glands.
A person could’ve heard a pin drop in that spontaneous profound silence. As at least two hundred sets of eyes followed his every move, eagerly waiting for any sign of weakness on his part, to take advantage of.
None were forthcoming.
Eventually, they all returned to their conversations, seemingly not paying attention to him anymore. Yet all during that meal with his Mentor, Arawn had felt their surreptitious scrutiny; sizing him up- judging him and his ability to fight or flee.
‘Make? Or will it be break?‘ he had contemplated momentarily then. After a moment of indecision, he had lifted up his eyes and met the persistent gaze of one anonymous Green Ogre. Silently the two stared each other for several seconds as the world around them both drifted away.
She bared her teeth at him with a challenge. He, never flinched in response. Instead he summoned up some Mana and charged himself for,…whatever, never once letting on his ability. For half a moment more, the pair faced each other down.
Then, the green Ogre’s gaze faltered momentarily as if she could sense his Power. She blinked once, then twice more, until finally, she turned her gaze away with a flinch. For a moment longer, Arawn wished to continue the challenge and indulge in his killer instinct. But he did not, instead he centered himself and dissipated the Mana he’d summoned. The rest of the meal passed without incident. But still, he yearned to indulge.
“Tia?” Arawn asked his Spider-Girl mentor in the here and now, needing a distraction from his thoughts. She turned her head over and stared at him expectantly with most of her eyes.
“What is the History of Fort Eequor? I have noticed that the architecture of the city’s buildings,” he asked, gesturing first down at one fairly intact set of modest looking limestone barracks.
“And the Fort’s buildings” he then gestured to a much larger, and wider, ornate barbican made with non-native granite, sitting across the wide street from the barracks, “to be vastly different both in size and scope. It is like the Fort was made for somebody much larger than humans.”
In response, Tia smiled widely enough to reveal her set of jagged shark-like teeth.
“Oh?” she began, “You’ve finally noticed that, have you?” Arawn frowned at the implicit patronizing tone she used, but didn’t comment.
“Fort Eequor wasn’t built by humans.” She said, simply. Arawn stopped and looked at her full on with a naked curiosity.
“So, who built it then?” he asked, as he gripped his aching civet-butt filled stomach
“What? When?” he interrupted, surprised.
“It was built many centuries ago, long before the Great Maou ascended to po,…”
“But why would the Demons….?” He interrupted again, but was cut off.
“If you’ll hush long enough, I will explain in its entirety.” Tia replied tightly, holding onto her patience as well she could. After a few seconds, Arawn managed to fight off the rejoinder that had immediately came to his lips, and smiled expectantly. While Tia uttered a low growl to get herself into a proper teaching mood, he could hear the sound of the distant surf crashing against something solid.
“The citizens of Cynosure have always valued their independence from every Empire or Principality.” Tia continued, instructing from rote memory. “This was because Cynosure has always been dedicated to free-trade within her sphere of influence. Empires always come at a high cost, after all.”
“Indeed.” Arawn agreed, nodding. “Much of the financial gains from conquest, are short lived. Yet the cost of maintaining a set of military forces can become unbearable in the long run. Thus, necessitating another expansion of the Empire to pay for it.” Tia nodded her furry head, and smiled.
“That’s one of the many things I’ve learned here in my time here at the Fort. That Empires need to expand.” She replied, moving herself to a position along the side of the street to allow some approaching foot traffic to pass unimpeded. Arawn noticed her gaze and followed suit. She continued speaking, after waving a hello to the pair of Red Oni who passed them both, pointedly ignoring him.
“Eventually, every Empire reaches a tipping point. They cannot expand, because all of their forces are being expended upon suppressing dissent from within.”
“I think I can see where this is going.” Arawn said, smiling knowingly. Inwardly, he suddenly realized something.
‘Odd, the pair of Red Oni do not seem to have noticed me.’ Distracted by a blur, he looked up to the roofs of the nearby Barracks buildings, he noticed a familiar looking Harpy flying along.
Briefly, she and he made eye contact. Unlike before, she seemed uninterested in him this time as she continued in her flight. He was shaken from his perusal, as Tia began speaking once more.
“Precisely, Arawn. Empires needs to expand, yet if they cannot, said Empires fall. Thus, the best way for a city to avoid being absorbed, is to wait it out. Cynosure has done so many times over the centuries.”
“But what has that to do with,…” he began. Tia interrupted him by raising one furred-carapace covered hand.
“I’m getting to that.” She grimaced. “Cynosure’s position of promoting and maintaining trade, has allowed it to grow prosperous by charging a modest level of fees and taxes. Most of which has been invested back into the maintenance of the city, and its surrounding islands and lands. Including a defense force.
“The City Guard?” Arawn asked. Tia nodded.
“That’s one example. But not too long ago, the City had their own military, both a standing Army and a modest Navy. The cost of maintaining them was both prohibitive yet necessary, as one of the nearest Eastern-Order nation states, decided to start carving out their own Empire. That country deemed Cynosure a prime target.” Tia stopped reciting momentarily, and then shifted her stance so that she was leaning on all four of her left legs. She continued.
“Yet, for all of the money they spent in the cost of maintaining their military, they needed even more money to expand the then current Fort. Which back then, was in dire need of repairs. Money as it turned out, they didn’t have.” Tia shook her head sadly.
“So, what did they do?” Arawn asked, looking around and getting a chill sensation, as he noticed something strangely familiar about the barbican’s architecture.
‘NO!’ he realized in a flash of horror. Tia noticed his reaction and spoke, a sad look crossing her face.
“I see that you comprehend.” She sighed, then continued.
“One of the ruling families’ Majin-kin stepped forth and proposed to make a Deal with a high-ranking Demon Noble, a Baphomet of the time. Remember, that this was well before the Great Maou had come about!”
“Thus, the Baphomet in question, was of the original Goat-headed variety?” Arawn asked rhetorically, shuddering with distaste. Tia nodded, her lips in a hard line.
“Indeed. The Deal was made, and despite every obstacle thrown in his way, that Demon-Noble was able to complete the construction well within the agreed upon time-limit.” She sighed, closing her eyes.
“I would imagine that that Majin’s fate, wasn’t even close to as pleasurable as a modern-day Baphomet’s intended victim.” Arawn stated woodenly. Tia pursed her lips, and shook her head several times slightly in negation.
Arawn couldn’t suppress the whole-body shudder that overwhelmed him in that moment. He then clutched at himself in remembrance of his own time under the control of an angry Demon. After a moment’s pause, Tia continued once more.
“The Fortress was ready for occupancy by the human forces, just in the nick of time. The Forces of the Eastern-Order showed up days later and placed Cynosure under siege. If it weren’t for the stout impregnability of the Fort, Cynosure would’ve fallen. Eventually, help arrived and the siege was broken.”
“Cynosure then licked its wounds and rebuilt. Fort Eequor continued on seemingly unscathed. At the time, no one suspected the real reason why the Fort was unable to be eliminated, despite the best efforts of the Eastern-Order. As it turned out, the Fort’s walls and grounds had been seeded heavily with Demonic Energy. That energy was so well infused within the stonework, that none had become aware of it until much later. If something was broken, the Demonic Energy would repair it almost instantly.”
“What we know now, is that the Demon Noble at the time, fully expected that all of those ‘Demon-Seeds’ would seep out, and corrupt the lands of Cynosure, eventually turning it into a Dark Demon Realm. Yet it did not for reasons unknown.” Tia explained, lifting her arms up and out to indicate everything around her.Tia kept her eyes locked on Arawn and noted that he seemed to be hanging on her every word.
“I would imagine that Lord Eequor was most chagrined about that!” Arawn chuckled, then stopped as he observed Tia’s sudden frown.
“No Arawn, the fort wasn’t named after the Demon Noble. No one can recall what that Baphomet’s name was, actually.” She said, shaking her head.
“Then who was the Eequor that the Fort was named after?” he asked.
“LADY Eequor, was the Majin who made that deal with the Baphomet lord back then. It’s been suggested that every Baphomet that exists today, is a descendant of her.” This last bit of information, left Arawn with a bad taste in his mouth. His face screwed up in thought.
“Wait Mentor! This is all well and good, but it still does not explain why the difference in architecture!”
“The reason behind the difference is, that the Demon in question built the Fort based on Demonic Standards, such as they were back then. The Fort was built to accommodate Demons and the Monster-kin of the time. Thus, when the Great Maou’s Army was invited in several centuries later, they stepped into a spot already seemingly made for them. Which, in a way it was.”
“Oh.” Arawn blinked. “Thank you Mentor. Your answer clears up many questions that I have had thus far.” He finished, looking at the Fort’s architecture in a new light.
‘Or unlight?’ he mused.
“Shall we then?” Tia asked, gesturing with an arm towards his awaiting apartment. Arawn nodded, and resumed walking, his pair of boots thudding against the cobblestones of the street in a steady pattern. A pattern matched by Tia’s fourth harmonic, as her eight tarsi claws tapped lightly on the stones alongside him.
Arawn sighed forlornly, as he stepped deeper into the cavern-like emptiness that were his assigned quarters. It resembled Tia’s own apartment both in form and function: multiple Mamono-sized rooms divided by Sliding-doors that were covered with an opaque paper-like material. A material that allowed privacy, but didn’t block the light.
It also boasted wooden floors and walls, and there were two storm doors that covered the window/arrow slits. Looking up, he noted a sizable space overhead, that was spacious enough to accommodate several sleeping Spider-Mamono among the rafters. Looking around, he noted that his apartment despite being slightly larger than his Mentor’s still held a ‘homey’ feel to it.
Tia had taken note of his sigh and tilted her head in concern.
“Are you all right, Arawn? Is something the matter?” She asked. He didn’t answer immediately.
“No, Mentor. I am not all right.” He sighed once more as he hung his head. “These rooms remind me of the fact that they are meant for a couple, not an individual.” He answered with sadness, as he let down his psychic shields. Comprehension flooded Tia.
“Takana?” she asked softly. He turned his head and looked at her, nodding. Briefly, their eyes met, and Tia was overwhelmed momentarily by the depths of the grief/loss that shown within them. In that moment, she received an inkling of the despair that had suffused him for uncounted centuries.
She then broke eye contact and forced herself to look away, suddenly mindful of her own brief existence. The experience left her gasping in shock, and close to tears for some reason.
Arawn noted her reaction and apologized.
“I am sorry Mentor, that you felt a modicum of my lifetime then. I will endeavor to insure that it will not be repeated.” He breathed in then, reinforcing himself and his psychic shields. Tia found herself unable to reply, as she found herself still falling mentally, in remembrance of the void that his existence was.
She was shaken from that fugue, by Arawn’s hand upon her person. Looking up, she saw Arawn not quite looking at her. But close enough to let her know that he was attentive.
“It is best to not try to make unprotected eye contact with any kind of Immortal, Tia. As you are undoubtedly now aware the reason why.” He informed her softly. She nodded in agreement, not able to answer verbally.
“If you would Mentor, allow me some privacy. I may be limited in my scope, but there are a few things this Majin can do to ‘liven up the place’, as it were.” He asked.
Tia readily agreed, and exited his apartment, closing the door behind her. She scuttled away as quickly as she could, in her haste to be away from him. When she had left, she felt tears of empathic sadness overwhelming every one of her eyes. ‘Chocolate,’ she decided, ‘I need some chocolate.’
Arawn watched her go, keeping his silence. A few minutes after she had gone, he still remained immobile, his thoughts his own. Finally, after an unknowable impetus, he began moving about.
One, two, three steps he took, until he was in the approximate center of the apartment. Turning himself around and remaining in place, he turned and looked around the wooden walls, judging each and every one of them with a silent standard. Until finally, seemingly at random, he picked one out and strode towards it. Just as soon as he came to a halt before that wall, he reached back and retrieved his Silver-shield that had remained magically hidden there, and pulled it up over his head.
After a brief yet intense inspection, he judged that Belphegor’s forced crease could no longer be detected. He then placed his shield upon the desired wall just above head level. There, it affixed itself upon the wall’s surface. There it would remain, immovable to any who might desire to move it unauthorized.
Stepping back, he concentrated upon that symbol of Chaos that adorned the face of the shield: Eight Black arrows expanding out in the cardinal directions from the center.
‘A symbol of Chaos, ancient even when I was young.’ He mused silently, concentrating.
He then raised his right arm, palm facing out, and spoke a mental command. This caused the shield to activate a sequence not fully utilized for several decades.
The shield upon the wall split itself along the rim with a deeply resonant ‘clunk’ that sounded more-hollow than such a small shield should allow. It then separated into two hemispheres, an obverse and reverse. The obverse rotated clockwise, as the two shields counter-rotated to each other a full revolution. All during this, it made a very unmetallic sound reminiscent of a grinding millstone.
Once the rotations were complete, the two shields automatically came together once more, giving off yet another unusually resonant ‘clunk’. After that, an archway melted into visibility on the face of the wall, the shield acting as its capstone.
Arawn, then lowered his hand and strode forward to the Silver-like metallic door. With a gentle pull, he opened it.
When he did, a gentle breeze came forth from the doorway rustling his hair. Arawn closed his eyes and breathed in, savoring the scent of the plants that lay on the other side of the gateway.
‘Honeysuckle.’ He smiled absently. ‘It has been far too long since I have visited.’ He thought to himself. He opened his eyes and took a single pace forward, entering the pocket dimension known to him as: The Sanctuary.
What a sight awaited him on the other side! He found himself standing in a large courtyard of octagonal limestone paving stones. On three sides of the courtyard lay a number of capped stone menhirs festooned with the aforementioned honeysuckle vines. On the fourth side, stood a three-story wooden edifice known to him as the Sanctuary, proper. Many were the rooms and secrets that lay within its walls. Of no few of either, even he had not yet fully divined.
Standing between him and the Sanctuary, were his Not-brothers patiently waiting for his orders, sitting alongside them were a number of crated books, furniture, and other sundry items.
“Secundus, Tertius, Quartus, Quintus.” Arawn/Primus spoke, as he nodded to them in turn, who each then returned his nod with a smile.
“Let us begin, the Archway can remain open only for a short while.” He commanded. Silently, each of his other personality’s physical manifestations, set about their prearranged task. Which was, to help Primus move his personal belongs from his private room located in the Sanctuary, to his newly assigned private quarters at Fort Eequor. Primus of course, assisted.
They moved quickly and efficiently, as only a telepathically connected team can. Well within the allotted timeframe, Primus’ goods had been transferred over into his rooms, leaving it half-filled with boxes and furniture.
“Wait!” Primus said suddenly, as he darted his head to and fro. “Where are Takana’s belongings!?” he demanded fiercely.
“We left them behind in the Sanctuary.” Quintus spoke then. “I was not sure if you truly wanted them with you here, now.” Primus’ eyes flared in indignation momentarily, then the moment of his anger passed and he became his nominally passive self once more.
“Perhaps that is for the best.” He decided. “But, once I have gotten my rooms in order, I would have Takana’s belongings with me once more. That way they will be ready for her, once she has recovered,”.
“If she recovers.” Tertius stated then with a frown, from his position of shifting a rather large bookshelf into one corner. Primus’ head shot over and glared at him.
“WHEN she recovers!” he said angrily. “WHEN!!!” he barked, his eyes blazing once more. “NOT IF! She will recover, she has to!” he half-shouted in defiance, as small blobs of spittle flew from his lips. Tertius and the other not-brothers of Arawn, dared not to contradict him then. Instead, they all wisely chose to keep their own counsel, and nodded an affirmation.
Arawn settled himself down after a moment or three. Taking in a breath, he asked.
“Are there any further questions, gripes, or complaints, that anyone here wishes to convey?” he asked. Turning his head, he looked at Secundus, who had raised his hand.
“Yes?” Primus asked, his eyes narrowing. Secundus lowered his hand.
“Primus, I know that you have promised it several times, but when exactly will the rest of us be allowed a field trip? I have been dying for ages, to get out and explore this new world!”
“How long has it been since you Awoke, Secundus?” Primus asked him, with a smile forming hesitantly on his lips. Almost as if he were trying to not laugh out loud. Secundus couldn’t help but notice Primus’ failed effort at suppression.
“A few hours at most.” He admitted. “But I still have access to the memories of my predecessor! And he felt that a field trip had been long overdue for him, then too!”
“Well,” Primus began, “let me remind you also of the task that I assigned your predecessor. The one in which I wanted him to reproduce the Periapt of Concealment.” Primus spoke, with a raised eyebrow in emphasis. Secundus’ eyes blinked rapidly in consternation.
“UUuuuuhmmm, yes. I had quite forgotten about that.” He admitted shamefacedly.
“The sooner you manage to reproduce it,” Primus began.
“The sooner we all can get out and about.” Quintus finished for him. Both Tertius and Quartus smiled and nodded then, looking meaningfully at Secundus. Who then raised his hands in surrender.
“All right, all right! I get the message. I will proceed post haste upon the task. I guess I have some motivation now!” he said, as he smiled and took his leave, then hurried to his workshop.
“Anything else?” Arawn/Primus was about to ask, when he heard a knocking upon the entrance door to his apartment.
“Just a second!” Quintus called out automatically, then covered his mouth with a hand. He sheepishly looked over to Primus and shrugged his shoulders with a smile.
Primus smiled back, indicating he wasn’t upset. He then made a ‘shooing’ motion with a hand at his remaining not brothers- who then quickly and efficiently returned through the metallic archway, and closed the door behind them.
Once the door had shut, the archway melted away into non-existence. Arawn then went to the door to his apartment and opened it. Behind it stood his Mentor, Tia, who was feeling considerably better after her chocolate fix.
“Step into my Parlor.” Arawn stated by way of greeting.
“Isn’t that my line?” Tia the Spider-Girl smiled from her position outside his doorway. Then she waved a hand of dismissal at Arawn’s questioning look.
“Arawn.” She began as she took a step inside. “I just remembered…that…there,…was.” She continued, then trailed off. This was because she noticed that Arawn’s previously empty apartment, was now filled with a variety of goods.
“ARAWN! Where on earth did all of this,…this…” she asked looking around herself with astonishment, she then curiously picked up a book that sat atop a pile of same, and opened it.
“Come from?” she said, as she started to read a random page of the book she held in her furred-hands.
Or tried to. Her attempt at reading the glyphs within, made her eyes cross and she felt herself become disoriented. Enough so, to cause her mouth to open involuntarily, which then allowed a generous dollop of chocolate-laden saliva to drip down onto the page below her. Arawn frowned fiercely when he noticed.
“Helvetia!” he shouted, as he strode forward and snatched the book away from her, preventing any further damage.
“Please be more careful! Many of these books are irreplaceable!” he grumbled, while he looked ruefully at the stain Tia’s saliva had left within its pages. Looking up, he noticed that Tia was still badly affected by what she’d witnessed within the book, reeling around as if drunk.
Arawn closed his eyes in consternation, and then sighed heavily. Opening them once more, he set down the book to allow it to dry.
‘Luckily, her saliva stain didn’t touch any of the diagrams or writing.’ He thought to himself, as he raised a hand and passed it over Tia’s main blue eyes while intoning a cantrip. Within a second, his cantrip had the intended effect of erasing Tia’s short-term memory of what she had just seen.
Tia stopped swaying in place, then stood herself upright as she raised her hands and pressed them to her head.
“Arawn,” she moaned softly, “what was it that you just did?” she asked, blinking furiously.
“I erased the sight of the book you chose to read, from your memory. Some Magics have a way of forcibly imprinting themselves upon the minds of those unprepared for them.” He answered by way of explanation.
“Why?” she asked unsteadily, still unnerved from her short exposure. “What kind of Magic was it?’
“It was a treatise explaining the ways and wherefores of Necroscopy.” He began, but was interrupted.
“ARAWN!” Tia shouted indignantly. “Summoning the Dead? That’s an evil thing to do! I’m disappointed you even have such an item in your possession!” she said disgustedly.
“Helvetia!” Arawn shouted, equally indignant. “It is called Necroscopy! Summoning the dead is called Necromancy. Which is something totally different!” he barked.
“Necro,…whatever! I fail to see what the difference is!” Tia replied angrily, backing away from him with several steps of her zebra-furred spider legs.
“If you are willing to listen Mentor, I will take the time to explain them.” He answered, barely keeping his temper in check. Arawn and she stared balefully at each other in silence for several seconds. Finally, Tia gave in first.
“Very well then, Yokai Basic Arawn.” She said with her teeth clenched. “Enlighten me.” She added with a sneer.
“Necromancy is,” he glared back at her, beginning. “A violation of the natural order.” He then breathed in to calm himself and sat down upon a crate of books.
“Necroscopy,” he said, raising one hand by way of demonstration. “and Necromancy,” he continued, raising his other hand, “are both means of communicating with the dead, each has its own limitations” He intoned from memory.
“Now, as I said before, Necromancy is a violation of the natural order.” He looked at Tia, who looked back at him and nodded once. He carried on.
“It is a violation, in that it forces a person’s soul back into their own original body, or a simulacrum. This invariably causes the soul to experience an extremely large amount of spiritual pain, for obvious reasons.”
“Which are?” Tia asked suddenly, curious, her indignation momentarily forgotten. Arawn looked back at her and blinked, surprised.
“The Primary reason, is that the soul or spirit of the dead person has usually already gone on to either their ‘reward’, or they have been reborn into another body. Necromancy, forces the soul to return regardless of either outcome.”
“But wouldn’t that mean that the body of the newly reborn person, dies?” Tia asked, shocked.
“Yes.” Arawn nodded sadly.
“That’s beyond horrible!” she cried, disgusted.
“Which is why it, and its practitioners are so rightly reviled.” He answered.
“But what about Liches, Revenants, Wights, and Zombies?” Tia asked, fascinated, as she settled herself into a low crouch.
“I will explain how those are different later, if you do not mind. Right now, I was about to explain Necroscopy.” He reminded her. Tia was shocked into silence and nodded at him.
“Necroscopy, on the other hand, also involves forcing a soul to move as well.”
“But how is that different?” Tia asked, screwing up her face.
“It is different in that instead of forcing the dead person’s soul to move, you move your own.” He answered, smiling.
“What?” Tia asked, shocked once again.
“Essentially, what you do is move your soul, out of your body. From there, you journey on to the ‘Land of the Dead’, for lack of a better term. There, you have the opportunity to search out, and communicate with your desired dead person. Assuming that they have not ‘moved on’ as it were.”
“Oh.” Tia replied, somewhat mollified.
“Both kinds of Necro-magic carry with it a series of dangers. In Necromancy, the Danger is often that the soul of the dead person might become ‘locked’ into its decaying body. Who then, rightly becomes quite angry at its newfound predicament. Said anger is often directed towards the one who condemned them to such a fate.”
“And the other Necro-Magic?”
“The dangers for that, involve the very real possibility that the Necroscoper will become lost in the Lands of the Dead, never to return.” Tia blinked in response, and was ponderously silent for a long time. Finally, she asked him one further question.
“Have you ever gone into those Lands Arawn, as a Necroscoper?” she asked, nervously.
“Yes.” Arawn nodded, “many times. I have often had to resort to it, when certain information became necessary for me to retrieve. Unfortunately, a number of my accompanying apprentices became lost in those lands, despite my efforts to prevent it.” He replied sadly, with a faraway look.
“Why haven’t you gotten lost?”
“Because, of my own unique status.” He answered, then elaborated when he saw the questioning look on Tia’s face.
“My immortality prevents me from ever staying and getting lost in the Necro-Lands. Despite any of my desires that I have, to remain there.” He added with a mirthless smile.
“Uuuuuhhhhhmmmm.” Tia hummed by way of reply, unsure of what to say or do next. Arawn saw her predicament and asked a question to distract her.
“Well Mentor, as you can see I have quite a bit of straightening up and organizing to do, before my apartment can be considered livable. Would you care to assist me in that?” Arawn asked, this time with a humorous smile.
“I would love to.” Tia answered quickly, more than a little curious to see what other Magical artifacts he might have within his possession. And perhaps to get a chance to wheedle out some valuable information concerning them. As it was, she was always interested in that skill she desired so dearly: Magic.
Quickly, the two began their task. It took several hours.
During those hours, Tia dropped her role as Mentor. Instead, she became the erstwhile student asking him many questions about Magic, and the innumerable varieties of same, that he’d encountered over his years.
Arawn, naturally stepped into the role of Mentor, and patiently answered as best he could. It was a role he himself had performed many times over the centuries.
“I hadn’t realized that there are so many forms of Magic Arawn!” Tia cried out happily, changing the subject as they finished up their task of organization. Looking about the now half-filled apartment, she suddenly realized that there was one burning question that needed an answer.
“Arawn?” Tia asked once again, settling her spider-body down into a crouch-rest.
‘Well are you not full of questions today?’ he secretly smiled.
“Where did all of this come from? I would’ve noticed if you had anyone making a delivery.” She asked, crossing her arms suspiciously.
“It all came,” he said lifting an arm and pointing at the silver shield upon the wall, “from that.”
“And what is that?” She said, turning to look at it full on. “I’ve noticed it for the last couple of hours and I keep forgetting to ask about it.”
“Amongst other things, it is a Trans-dimensional Gateway.”
“WHAT!” Tia exploded angrily, jumping up slightly and spreading all of her legs out from her crouch-rest.
“TRANSDIMENSIONAL! That kind of Magi-tech can cause Teleportation platforms endless numbers of problems, often fatal!” she yelled, outraged. “It’s no wonder why you had such a difficult time porting in!”
“Trans-dimensional GATEWAY!” Arawn shouted back, emphasizing, “It was inert until I activated it after you left! Since it was deactivated, there is no way that it could have interfered with the teleportation process. I have gone through hundreds, if not thousands of similar rapid-transit without it interfering with any one of them!”
“Never-the-less Arawn!” Tia shouted back, frustrated. “I will need to inspect the other side of it, before I can judge it safe. I am a Teleportation technician after all!” Tia almost growled at him. Arawn folded his arms.
“Don’t make me pull rank.” She added.
“That will not be necessary.” Arawn smiled patiently. “A short demonstration will be well within order.” He said, changing his mind. He then approached the silver shield and raised his hand in concentration.
Once more as before, after a moment the shield split in two along the rim. But, unlike before, the obverse shield rotated counter-clockwise a mere half turn.
Finally, once the silver archway had melted into view, Arawn gently pushed the door open. After a meaningful look directed towards Tia, he stepped inside, leaving the door open behind him. Tia followed hesitantly as the archway wasn’t built to accommodate her wider stance.
Within, there was no honeysuckled courtyard or Wooden Sanctuary building. Instead, she found herself within a large stone room. Looking about in the dim light, she noted that it appeared to be largely empty, with the exception of Arawn.
Tia then reached into one of her bandolier pockets and pulled out a Multi-Morphicker, the standard troubleshooting gizmo of choice for Porters. Often used to detect any potential problems with Teleportation platforms.
Activating it, she patiently allowed the Magi-tech device to run its own tests. After several long seconds, it came back with a negative reading. Tia gave out a hearts-felt sigh of relief, as she returned the device to her bandolier’s waiting pocket.
“All right, Arawn, I’m satisfied. I apologize if this seems unduly paranoid on my part.” She stated, looking at him in the dim light of the chamber. Arawn, merely smiled and waved his hand in dismissal.
“Quite all right Mentor! I would be more concerned if you were not in fact, paranoid about it.” He stated as he led the way out of the chamber.
‘Great Maker, it is well that I kept this antechamber vacant for just this kind of occasion.’ He thought to himself.’ Otherwise I would have some uncomfortable explanations to tender to Helvetia.’
Tia, following him, also took note that as they both exited the antechamber, that he, and she, were leaving behind footprints in the dust on the chamber floor.
‘Interesting.’ She mused, ‘the only marks here are the ones we just made right now!’ she said to herself in silent triumph. ‘There isn’t a single mark from any crates, furniture or anything similar! There is something decidedly odd here.’
Upon exiting, the Doorway melted back into non-existence. Tia found herself fascinated by it.
“Arawn?” Tia asked, suddenly nervous. Arawn noticed that nervousness, but didn’t comment upon it.
“Yes Mentor?” he replied, his face an unmoving mask.
“Could you do me a favor? It involves magic.” she asked, all in a rush.
“What do you have in mind?” he replied, interested.
“Do you have the ability to tell if someone has any Magical Aptitude?” she asked, not making eye contact. Which was quite the feat, considering the number of her eyes.
“I think I begin to understand what you are getting at. I take it that you wish to find out if you yourself have any?” Tia nodded.
“Yes!” she replied, a little quickly. “I could pay you for your trouble, if you like!” she continued.
“That is not necessary, Helvetia.” He replied shaking his head and waving his hand. “If it turns out that you do indeed have an aptitude, you would probably want your funds to apply for an apprenticeship.”
‘Not Charge?’ Tia drew herself back at that statement. She had never encountered that reaction from a Majin before.
“It is approximately mid to late afternoon. How thorough a check would you care for me to conduct?” he asked patiently.
“As thorough as you can manage!” Tia replied anxiously, eager to begin. In response, Arawn looked over his shoulder and found a chair, he then sat down and thought about it, as his eyes darted to and fro around his living area/workshop.
“Oh rough guess, it might take me three to four hours. Is that too long for now?” he estimated, focusing on her with his right eye.
Tia readily agreed, stating that she had until the next morning available. Arawn then asked her, her motivation. She replied, that her father was a minor Majin, with the ability to cast magic with a minimum of preparation. He had always told her that such talents as he had cropped up in his family, both brother and sister. But, try as she might while growing up, she’d never been able to reproduce them.
“Ah!” Arawn replied smiling as he got to his feet and began making preparations. “That makes sense after all.”
“How so?” Tia asked, as Arawn directed her to stand in a cleared spot. He produced a piece of chalk and got down onto his hands and knees. He then began tracing a number of sigils and runes upon the floor, surrounding her, explaining all the while.
“It makes sense in that, many if not all Majin’s talents are hereditary.” He said looking up, and making eye contact with her temporarily.
“Often the talents inherent in a bloodline, might skip a generation all together. Sometimes they breed true, sometimes not. All too often though, familial magic ability has proven to be gender specific.” Arawn noticed Tia’s questioning look, and then explained.
“Take Dragons for example.” He began, moving about as he still traced out the runes on the floor. Tia began to fidget and tried to move herself to match and keep him with eyeshot. Arawn noticed her doing so, and indicated that it would be best if she remained still. She did so with reluctance.
“Dragons have the ability to manipulate stone as if it were mud. They can shape it and form it to do many things that the original untouched stone, was never able to do. But!” he paused, as he erased a part of one miswritten rune with a sweeping of his fingers, and then remade it into the correct form.
“That ability is only available to male Dragons.” He finished.
“That’s hardly fair!” Tia complained. Arawn stood up and dusted off his hands.
“I agree, but I am not the designer of such. If you have any complaints concerning that, I would recommend that you submit them to the Original Chief God, or perhaps the Great Maker.” He replied with a half-smile, circling Tia as he checked his chalk-work.
“Who is the Great Maker?” Tia asked, curious. Arawn looked over at her and smiled fully.
“The One who created Everything: The Multiverse, the manifold Realities that are often referred to as Shadows. Including Life, Death, Light, Dark, Law, Disorder,…” he started numbering off.
“Stop, stop, Arawn! You’re making my head hurt! What does all of that have to do with Magic?” Tia cried, confused. Arawn stopped his checks and began to waving his hands in an undecipherable rhythm that Tia couldn’t quite comprehend.
“I will in explain in a bit, right now I am initiating my scans.” He replied, as began chanting for several seconds. After a moment, he stopped and looked over at Tia who had been waiting patiently the entire while.
“Scans initiated; we now have a while to discuss matters.” He replied, taking in a cleansing breath, and sat himself down onto a nearby chair that was sitting across the runic circle from Tia.
“It has everything to do with Magic.” Arawn yawned tiredly. “Magic is Reality. Reality itself is governed by Magic in all of its forms and permutations. This means that everything that is in existence in a particular world or reality, is governed by a set of Magical Laws.”
“So how does that translate to my father’s ability to use magic?” Tia asked, confused once more.
“What is your Father’s family name?” Arawn asked, seemingly out of the blue.
“Peltra.” Tia replied.
“Very well then Tia, what this means, is that in this world the Family named Peltra, has the ability to utilize Magic, to a certain extent.”
“But there are other families that don’t have that ability. Why? How? Wait! Let me guess. Magic?” she asked, her lips scrunching together. Arawn nodded.
“But how can one tell those Laws even exist? Where are they?” Tia exclaimed, frustrated. Arawn sighed, and thought about it, until finally.
“The best way to explain it is that everything that exists, has a coded sequence of laws and instructions contained within them. This coded sequence, governs many aspects of the item or creature in question. For living creatures, this coded sequence is often called: Genetics.” Tia blinked.
“Jah-Neh-Ticks?” she replied, intoning back the syllables. Arawn nodded.
“This is where it will become even more confusing. My apologies.” He added seeing the look on Tia’s face.
“The Genetics for a creature that is alive, or has been alive, are part of the creature, but they also govern the creature’s traits. Traits such as: hair color, height, weight, gender, so on and so on. Magic use ability, is one of those governed traits.”
“Wait! You’re making it sound as if a living creature is akin to a Teleportation Platform! It too has a set of instructions that govern what it can and cannot do!” Tia replied, as a light went on behind her eyes.
“Precisely! But, unlike a Platform, living creatures have a phenomenally much more complex existence, and an even more complex set of instructions governing them. This is one reason, why my scans take so long to run.”
“You’re running a diagnostic on me?”
“Ohhhh, ummm, essentially, yes.” Arawn replied, making a duck face and bobbing his head left and right. “You are probably not aware of it, but my scans also include a testing of a number of magical use abilities. A whole battery of them. It remains to be seen, which of those Magics you may have a talent for.”
And so the conversation continued, for the next three and a half hours. Helvetia would tender a question, and Arawn would patiently answer as best he could. Often at great length, which would inspire Tia to ask him a new set of questions. Too often, Tia asked him a personal question, whereupon he did his best to evade them, sometimes resorting to outright lies.
‘There are some things you need not know right now Helvetia.’ His reasoning being at the time.
Tia, on the other hand immediately noted each and every time he lied. It was the one trait that her mother was able to teach her, that she never let on to anyone outside of her family.
Until at last, Arawn was alerted to his magical scanning’s completion. Quickly, he swiftly examined the readings. Tia waited anxiously for the results. What she saw on his face, made her already cold blood, run even colder.
“Tia,” he began, frowning. Tia got a sinking feeling. “Even though you have a number of genetic markers indicating that you have a potential ability to use magic. They are not enough to indicate an ability to summon and manipulate it. In short, your genetics are lacking in the necessary key sequences for you to do so. I am sorry.” He finished. Tia could tell then that he was telling the truth about it all. Even so, it didn’t prevent her momentary pang of disappointment.
Then a thought occurred to her.
“I don’t suppose that you could, maybe, ‘insert’ some of those necessary sequences?” she asked, hopefully.
“I could Tia, if I knew what precisely those sequences were. The problem is, I do not know what would happen if I tried. There are too many variables to consider.” He sighed, trying to explain. Then, something occurred to him.
“Wait, what would happen if say,… I decided to take a random Magi-tech component from somewhere else, and inserted it into the working parts of Teleportation Platform?” Arawn noticed the horrified expression on Tia’s face then. She had her answer.
“Precisely Tia. A catastrophe! I am sorry.” He replied. Tia sighed heavily and was silent for a short while. Until finally, she gave off a half smile and spoke.
“Well, thank you for taking the time to check, Arawn. I appreciate it!” she stated, wilting a bit at the bad news. She perked up at a sudden thought.
“Arawn, I have an unusual question. Just before I knocked on your door, I could’ve sworn I heard you talking with other people. Yet when I came in, it was just you alone. Were you talking with someone?” she asked off-handedly, curious.
“No Tia,” Arawn replied, shaking his head. “I was just talking with myself. It is an old habit I picked up in the days of my youth.” Tia gave him a funny look in response, but didn’t say anything more.
‘Yourself?’ she thought suspiciously. ‘Since when does a person talk with several voices at once? Yet, that was a half-truth, you weren’t completely lying. How odd.’ she silently mused.
Tia said spontaneously, “There is an Inn I like to frequent off-base. I was thinking…” she said, trying to act nonchalantly as she could then, “of going there this evening. Would you care to join me?” she asked in the most wheedling of tones she could muster.
“That does sound intriguing.” Arawn stated, musing. “But, would such be appropriate under the circumstances? Mentor and student, after all.” He pointed out.
“Well it could be, but until I get an answer concerning such a relationship, I’m going to assume that everything will be fine.” She smiled her jagged tooth smile. Arawn smiled back.
“Very well then, Mentor I will go. It has been some time since I have had the opportunity to enjoy an Inn. Just out of curiosity, what is its name?”
“The Prancing Cadaver, it is an establishment that caters to Mamono of all kind.” She replied outwardly, smiling.
‘And it is an excellent spot to loosen tongues twisted with lies.’ Tia thought inwardly. ‘Whenever you talk about yourself Arawn, you prefer to lie. I wonder why.’
“Then let us go.” He replied, returning her smile.