The car’s wheels crunched as they rolled along the long, winding gravel driveway. The driveway itself led toward a decrepit old wooden house that seemed to only be standing due to termites holding hands. The cheap black paint was flaking off in large chunks, some places leaving large patches of brown wood exposed to the elements. As the large van came to a stop outside the rusted iron gates to the estate itself, the trees themselves seemed to shiver and shake. Wood groaning in the wind that suddenly picked up. A man and a woman stepped out of the doors, grey suits were devoid of logos and text save for their names: Revin and Patch. The man, Revin, grinned as he laid his blue eyes on the mansion. The woman, Patch, was not as happy, seemingly not as enthusiastic as her husband about this sort of environment. He turned to her, grinning now full and cheeky.
“This is perfect! Look at it, you can basically taste the evil things that have gone on in here! What was the thing that happened here again?” His enthusiasm was infectious, and Patch couldn’t help but smile as she grabbed the rucksack of equipment from the back of the plain van.
“Well honey, apparently an old woman used to live in this place. She grew to hate men. Some said she was a witch, she eventually sacrificed her husband alive and was lynched by people from the town that used to be here. Eventually, the town fell into ruin and got paved over by nature, leaving only this house left. No man has survived more than a night in this place since. Some old entrepreneur wants to take control of this land and make it into a theme park or something or rather, but fears that the curse here would make it unprofitable. Our job is to exorcize whatever is in here and get out.”
She heaved one bag over her slim shoulder and threw the other to her husband, who promptly spun around and caught it with both hands. He slung it around his neck and began to stroll down the dirt path to the front door, pulling out a small two-pronged wand and waving it around as he walked, investigating the small screen at its base. Patch sighed, sometimes to her it seemed as if her husband cared more about finding ghosts than he did about her, no matter, she would be his anchor to real life.
Revin fiddled with the door handle, like an impatient child, until Patch procured the key.
“Missing this honey? You left it in the car.”
“Ah. How silly of me.” He laughed as he patted his pockets and gently took the key from her hands and stuck it into the door. Revin was not a man who liked keys and front doors, preferring more, alternate modes of entry, such as windows and secret passageways. He cracked his knuckles as they both emerged into a circular living room, decadent sofa chairs littered the place and a massive chandelier hung from the painted ceiling. Revin just simply couldn’t wipe the grin off his face, spinning around with his arms outstretched. He took big, long sniffs of the air and kept on sticking out his tongue, almost as if to taste the atmosphere itself.
“It even tastes haunted! We’ve really hit the jackpot here.” He glanced at his glow in the dark Mickey mouse watch and produced two matching navy blue sleeping bags from his bag, they were slightly tattered around the edges. He lay them out on the bit of floor that looked least likely to drop them into some unknown abyss. Meanwhile, Patch began setting up some strange artifacts. Producing talismans and a red, almost moist looking chalk. She began drawing symbols just next to the sleeping bags, they had a certain…wrongness to them when they were complete. Almost as if it was a four-dimensional object displayed on two dimensions. To the untrained, your eyes would begin to hurt after looking at them too long, but Patch and Revin were anything but untrained. She inspected her work when she was done, fingers stained red, she nodded to herself as she began to set up a machine, not too dissimilar from a larger version of the fork that Revin had been using. As a final precaution, she produced a small necklace of what seemed to be ivory or bone. On each link, there was a carved symbol, all of them having the same effect as the chalk drawings on the floor.
“Now honey,” Patch began, “You should probably have this necklace, you know how it’s always a gamble with warding off creatures so I created a mixture of different runes for you. Now, a quick quiz! What are the different grades of ghosts?”
Revin seemed to peak at the notion of flexing his knowledge of the paranormal.
“Well, grade one is a poltergeist. Mischievous, but only about enough power to move the object around. Most runes work against them, but like all ghosts effectiveness of techniques varies between them, that’s why we have a variety of runes on all of our tools. They died in small accidents, and just want to cause some trouble or got snagged on something.”
“Good!” At the encouragement he blushed slightly, a smile creeping up his face, like a child being told he did well at his maths test.
“Grade two is a possessive ghost, probably what we’ve got here. Most of the time they possess animals, but some can possess humans as well. They have a higher resistance to runes but are more easily exposed to tracking techniques, such as our tuning fork. These are people who got killed in cold blood, they want revenge on certain people and such, this affects who they can actually possess, so our ghost here most likely cannot possess women. A special characteristic of them is that they can’t pass by runes made by pig blood infused chalk, wonderful job on those by the way.” He added at the end whilst fastening the clasp on the necklace.
“Grade three is mostly theoretical. A ghost who doesn’t want to pass on, fighting to the bitter end. These ghosts can potentially control other ghosts and have a significant effect on their surroundings. However, they would have to have a physical corpse somewhere nearby. From what we know, there are no precautions against this type. They cannot be created by accident, but ritually sacrificed in a pagan ritual involving the sacrifice of other younger children to add to their power. If you encounter one of these things, run. Raze the environment to the ground.”
Patch shivered and nodded in agreement. Nobody had ever encountered a grade three, well, no one has lived to tell the tale at least. She watched lovingly as her husband struggled to take off his tie, and while helping him she asked:
“So who’s going to be on watch? One of us needs to be looking out for any activity.”
“Let’s flip a coin, I’m heads.” She nodded in agreement as he pulled out a ratty old coin from his back pocket, it had a strange logo emblazoned on it with a cartoony spirit being trapped by a net. If only they really looked like that, she remarked silently.
The coin spun into the air, reflecting the soft glow of the lamps they had lit, arcing its way downwards back into Revin’s palm. He flipped it over onto the back of his other hand, and the result was… Heads. Patch cackled as she climbed into her cozy sleeping bag. Revin kissed her on the forehead as he dimmed the lights down low. Out of one of his many shirt pockets, he got out a lolly in the shape of a whistle and proceeded to slowly suck at it, as he watched the numerous monitors and fiddled with the necklace around his neck.
It was much later when an inky black stain seemed to gather on the nearby wall. Slowly, the wood began to leak a black fluid that gathered into a mass of gooey tendrils. The monitors beeped slightly, and Revin turned to look at the large tuning fork. This was when the ball of sticky substance rapidly crawled along the floor towards him. The fork began to beep faster, and he picked up what seemed to be a large spike from the inside of his sleeve. He was standing outside of the circle of protective symbols for a reason, so as to lure the creature out, and it seemed his plan had worked. Without even looking down he threw the spear at lightning fast speed and caught the slimy thing just as it was going to touch his leg. All the warmth and goofiness was now gone from his eyes as he looked down on the ball of gathered tendrils with distaste.
“You’re not what I’m looking for. You’re a finger. Lead me back to your brain little monster.” He purred in a low voice, so as not to wake up his sleeping wife. He pressed a small button on the spike and watched as the ends of it curved upwards, trapping the spirit on its tip in a secure grip. He brought it closer to his face and it attempted to lash out and touch him, but he was cautious.
“Now, how to find the rest of your body hmm?” In his other hand, he grabbed the smaller version of the tuning fork. Using it, he examined the creature, and it began to vibrate when he tilted it a certain direction, downwards.
“In the basement? Not very creative.”
As he walked away, he did not notice the wall weep fluid again.
He did not see as a significantly larger, almost hand shaped blob drag itself towards the only other human being.
He did hear as the large tuning fork made a high pitched whine, but Patch did not. The hand paused at the protective circle, but it began to push at the air itself, feeling for weak points. Where it pushed a lattice of red light could be seen, spun by the protective runes. Like a deft worker it separated these strands and after half a minute of toiling around it pushed itself through the weak point. Hitting the ground with a wet slap. This was when Patch woke up, but before she could react it was already in her throat, crawling down and taking control.
The handheld tuning fork vibrated violently in his hands as Revin opened the basement door. He didn’t believe he needed his wife to help in this case, believing the spirit only to be a grade two. He had helped countless grade two’s into the afterlife. All he would need to do is chant a couple of vocal runes and the spirit would disintegrate. He took the flight of stairs into the pitch black basement and the flashlight built into his tuning fork automatically turned on. He could see that the creature skewered on his stake was wriggling frantically, trying to return to its master. The air was rank with decay. A strong smell of mildew and rotting leaves invaded his flaring nostrils, his eyes tearing up slightly from the sudden strong intrusions into his nose. He quickly dried his eyes as he descended further, this odor was a strong indication of the supernatural presence here. Finally, he reached the bottom, where his path was blocked by one last wooden door. His tool vibrated so much it almost hurt to hold, he had never seen it react this way before. He kicked open the door.
The tool stopped vibrating instantly.
The creature that was trapped on his spear dried up and turned to dust as it gave one final push for his body.
A dry laugh echoed throughout the basement as he realized he had been tricked, all that was there was a strange painted circle on the ground. Not too dissimilar to one of the banishing circles he knew of, but it was inverted. This was when the sound of the whining tuning fork from upstairs reached his ears, and he began to sprint back up the creaking old stairs.
Patch felt as if she was half asleep. She was floating, ever so gently, everything was so slow. She sent the commands to her arms and legs to move, but they didn’t obey her anymore. Her vision was clouded and fuzzy, distant almost as if she was seeing everything out of cardboard tubes. If she focused hard, which was difficult when she was oh so tirreeed… She could almost make out her husband at the other end of the long tunnel. He looked so angry. She tried to walk towards him, but she was held back by gooey strands of an oily black substance. She stopped resisting and allowed herself to fall into the dark embrace of the void.
Revin felt a cold sweat roll down his spine in icy rivulets, he made slow deliberate steps. The overwhelming feeling of the hunter becoming the hunted washed over him, he tried to shake himself free of this sensation, the creature wouldn’t have been able to get past the protective runes. Anyway, it wouldn’t be able to take her anyway, type two’s can only possess specific people, right?
But it was smart enough to draw him away, a small voice in his mind reminded him. It knew you were going to be a pig-headed fool and run off. It carried on, he tried to ignore it, but it permeated all of his senses, drowning out the growing vibration of the tool in his hand. It was only when he felt his palm burning from the friction that he snapped back to action. He was just fast enough to see the fist flying at superhuman speed towards his head from around the corner, black veins protruding on the back of the palm. He slipped and fell as an entire, familiar arm crashed through the wooden wall, right up to the elbow. He watched as his wife, no, not his wife anymore, removed her arm from what was once a sturdy support. She snarled at him like an animal, her face now a web of black veins that pressed up against her skin. He could barely let out a weak ‘No’ before she leaped at him once again. She blurred as she moved in the air, grabbing him by the neck and making him fly backward into the wall behind him. He fumbled at the hands that gripped his neck, feeling as his bones strained against the strength of the thing that was once his wife. He was forced to look into her eyes as a smile spread up her twisted face, her smile was leering and ugly as the black crept around the edges of his vision. He looked deep into her eyes, but she did not see cruelty, he saw her chained up down there. Suddenly, a primal instinct to survive took over him, and with the last of his breath, he uttered a rune for bright light. A glowing mark escaped his mouth, and it burst into a miniature sun. Her hands flew up from his neck to shield her eyes, and Revin scrambled backward and ran, ran as fast as his lean legs could take him.
A shimmering apparition wandered the corridors of the house, its feminine features long since warped and faded along with its humanity, all that had remained was a burning hatred. Held in its hand was a long inky black leash, attached to a crawling woman. The woman was filthy, forced to crawl along dusty corridors that seemed to stretch further than the outside architecture of the house. It had been three days since they had both last encountered their prey, a man who was annoyingly good at deflecting detection and catching stray morsels, such as rats that crawled in the walls. No matter, the higher they climbed the more warped the architecture would become, and the more dangerous it would be. The apparition was merely a projection of the true creature that was kept in the attic. It waved an ethereal hand, and an oily creature began to seep out of the walls. As it “shlopped” onto the floor it reformed into something a bit more humanoid, some of its inky substance becoming hard and turning into a pitchfork. A face could almost be made out beneath the shifting liquid. The ghost whispered to the minion, a lesser thing,
Revin was currently sleeping in the space between the walls. He had passed by the same bathroom six times now as he climbed, but every time he passed through it, it had almost seemed to deteriorate. Now the iron bathtub was sagging at the edges slightly, and the tiled walls were seeming to drip as well. He was getting close now. He had no doubt, the thing that hunted him, the thing that held his wife in its grips, it was a grade three. The runes he had around his neck had done nothing to protect him, fizzling and burning. However, he knew one thing, the closer he got to the body the more reality seemed to warp. The house was repeating itself over and over as a defense mechanism, to try and stop him from getting too close, but he kept on finding ways to get higher, however, he still hadn’t found the way out of this level. He could feel he was close now, his tuning fork was held in his mouth as he schemed in his sleep. It was now at a constant soft hum, most likely due to the ambient paranormal energy in the air. It picked up in intensity ever so suddenly, scaring him out of his slumber. It wasn’t vibrating enough to be the shimmering apparition he had seen wandering the hallways in search of him, the energy that is given off of that thing made his tool jump and squeal, this was much more mellow. Quite suddenly a hard inky object resembling a pitchfork crashed through the wall right where his head would have been if he was standing up. Revin began to scramble upwards, but the wood had become brittle and aged and could not support his weight properly, the holes made by the pitchfork were the last straw and Revin felt the wall give way with a groan and snapping of wood. He crashed through, landing on something liquid and soft. He began to run, but whatever it was began seeping through the ground towards him. A small nugget of knowledge made its way back to him, and he went pale as he walked.
“There used to be a village here, but all the people disappeared and nature reclaimed it.”
Patch’s voice echoed back to him. If this thing truly was a grade three, it could potentially manipulate lesser spirits. How many more could it have in its arsenal?
It grabbed his leg as it reformed out of the floor, and Revin tripped, splitting his lip against the wooden ground. It stood high above him, an inky mass wielding a large pitchfork, and it brought it down on him.
The runes around his neck reacted, spluttering into life and glowing a bright green, the pitchfork cracked and split, and Revin remembered the other important detail about grade three ghosts.
They could only manipulate lesser ghosts.
He leaped into a standing position, the stupid thing had already formed another weapon and threw it at him. A grin crept up his face as he twisted out of the way and grabbed it with one hand, the crude thing cracking as the runes glowed once again. It cowered back, and he touched it on the neck with his pinky finger, watching as it sizzled and squealed. There was one thing common in all ghosts, the need to survive, and so he asked it something politely.
“I’ll let you live if you show me where the original body is.”
Patch tended to drift in and out of lucidity, her grip on reality growing as loose and frail as the vision before her. Her head hung low, loose and untidy hair draped over her eyes. She tried to raise a hand to push it away but found it to still be shackled, as were the rest of her limbs. She was quite alarmed to see that when she looked up, she could not see the strange, almost television-like screen that showed her reality. Instead, she saw her surroundings, a grey and uninteresting place. She could feel the strange chill in the air, not just on her skin but permeating her very soul, bleaching it black and white. The floor seemed to be made up of a thin layer of water that pulled at her ankles. Not in any general direction, constantly shifting and tugging every which way. If she strained her neck to the right she could see color, the living world, she thought. To her right was a void, filled with what she thought at first glance were stars, but were, in fact, the very runes she used to fight back ghosts and other paranormalities, as they were called. She thought she saw something moving, something shifting in the pitch black, and as her eyes adjusted she regretted looking into the deep. A sea of writhing bodies, flowing ever deeper into the strange place, away from her. All of them reaching for her, no, not her, but for life. Some managed to wriggle free but were pulled back by other grasping hands. This is hell, she thought to herself, this is the place after death. This was when she laid her eyes on something standing on the very brink of both worlds, it was staring directly at her. A spindly, almost skeletal figure. It was wrapped tight in a pale and yellowing fabric, almost as if it was a doll. Its head could have been human, save for the lack of any discernible nose or ears. There were slight depressions instead of eyes and a mouth, and they were stained a deep, dark crimson color. Large, bloated things resembling flies were crawling lazily out of the folds of fabric around the neck, where the entire skull seems to have been lazily sown together to the torso. A drone of buzzing permeated her ears and drilled into her head as it walked on those impossibly thin legs towards her, macabre smile wide.
Revin followed the oily figure of his prisoner along the maze of dusty, twilight hallways. It never talked back, which he appreciated. It knew every tiny back door and small entrance to the next level, every nook, and cranny in the seemingly endless mansion. He had to admit to himself he would not have been able to get to the original corpse if this minion had not found him. This gave him some time to think, and Revin did not appreciate this, for when a man is purely being driven by irrational hope and no planning, having time to think does tend to put a spanner in the works. A little voice nagged inside his mind, annoying him to no end. What will you do if you get there? It whined in his own voice, just ten times more irritating.
No one has ever seemed to have survived a grade three, what are you going to do, huh? Up until now, blind luck has kept you going, no, it was her. You can’t live without her, can you? Even now, you flounder like a fish out of water, you try to run before you can walk. Even the entire discovery of runes! You might have found them, but who was the one who helped you formulate them? Structure them? Put them into writing. She tested every single charm in the field, multiple times she could’ve died, for what. You’ve never thanked her, never said anything except a small “I love you honey” and a kiss. Now you’re feeling the consequ-
He grabbed his head and screamed into the empty nothing.
“SHUT. UP.” He panted as the voice receded into his mind, chuckling to itself. He marched onwards, ever faster now. The tool in his hand was now at a constant trill, and it was growing faster as he went up. Revin began to notice reality warping around him, a sure sign according to his past readings on the concept, that he was nearing the original corpse. He had never experienced this phenomenon first-hand before. The walls began to melt and run like ice cream in the sun. The floors began to intermittently crumble like a brittle branch in one corridor, and liquify, forming treacherous whirlpools in the next. He trod carefully, not wanting to find out the consequences of a misstep. Molten droplets of ceiling dripped on either side. Structural integrity became a dream of the past. Finally, an idea popped into his head. It would be dangerous, and absolutely stupid, but it might just work. Regardless, it was better than having no plan at all.
Patch strained against her bonds, trying to retract from the living mannequin as it lumbered towards her. Its breath was deep and wet, almost as if the lungs were filled with water. It stood in front of her, head cocked to the side as it examined her chained body with a mixture of curiosity and fascination. It began to speak, its voice akin to the buzzing of the flies that now crawled on her skin.
“Interesting, you seem strong.” Each breath sounded painful and difficult, it brushed her cheek with those long, fabric bound fingers.
“Speak, young one.” A sudden cold sensation ran down her neck and loosened her taught jaw, she moved it around to try and help with the rush of pins and needles.
“What are you?” She questioned, at this the creature stood back, crimson smile seeming to spread a little wider, just at the prospect of being able to speak about itself.
“My real name has been lost to both the black sands of time and the waters of the river H’ral. Thus, I have been gifted many titles by mortals. Y’hurl of the abyss, Droman of the endless mudflats of old, I however enjoy ‘The King of Flies.’” Its tone was formal, and as it spoke, one of the creatures managed to escape the river of bodies and scrambled into the grey area where the two of them spoke. It was a deformed thing, face melted like candlewax, flesh a shade of bloodless white. It made a grasp for her feet, muttering;
As it scrambled in the small lake of water. The hand of the King moved so fast that the water boiled as he eviscerated the thing, the smile turned into a slight frown on its face.
“Disgusting. Where was I? Ah yes, some mortals mistake me for some kind of higher power, sacrificing lambs and such to me. I am but a gentleman, a trickster, and a tradesman if you will. There are those deep in there that wish to end all living life, take over the colored world, etcetera. I do not appreciate this, as most of my entertainment comes from toying with you living ones, and of course, evading those appointed to return the dead to the living. Now, here’s where I come to y-”
Patch had had quite enough of hearing this weird mannequin babble on about things she only half understood in her almost drunken state.
“Shuddup,” She slurred in her delirium.
“You said you were a tradesman, what do you trade?” At this, the smile spread wider than she had ever seen it, and she could have sworn she saw some kind of light flicker, deep in those crimson-stained eye sockets.
“Why my dear, I trade souls.”
Revin shook his hand in a completely futile way to lessen the pain that now throbbed in his bleeding knuckles. The pocket knife he always had in his back pocket came in handy when he began to enact the first stage of his monumentally stupid plan. He did not complete the runes yet in fear they would sear his hands into useless, charred stumps. The ghost that led him was now flowing with extra caution. Revin could smell it in the air, a stench of mildew and rot that accompanied all corrupted runic forms. The floor beneath him was not wood, but a hard, red, porous stone that almost seemed to suck at his feet with small, toothless maws. A sickly purple light pulsed from around the corner in front of him. His guide refused to go further, the existential fear of the thing was almost palpable as it quivered in silence, seeping back into the wall. He only gave it a simple, awkward nod.
Around this corner would be possible, no, absolutely the most dangerous thing he had ever faced. He made a quick check on what he had; A bloody fist, a tuning fork, and a Mickey Mouse watch. He had never felt so alive. He crept forward with all the precision and adrenaline of a trained assassin, ready to spring out at any possible danger.
He turned the corner.
The last thing he expected to see was flowers of all different shades and colors. An ethereal garden with a miniature purple star that hung in the sky. Its soft light bathed him in warmth and strained his weary eyes. In the center of the garden, there was a tree with a swing, it was an old oak tree. He remembered this place, his first home. He had read books, surrounded by those same gnarled roots resembling outstretched fingers. His wife was sitting in that swing from his childhood, except it wasn’t his wife, there was something subtle yet different in her cascade of soft black hair. Her features were soft and pale, green eyes peering out at the place before her.
“I know why you’re here. You want me to die, to take back your wife and live. Do you know how I first died? They say they burned me because I practiced witchcraft, but in truth, it was because I would not wed the priest’s son. Little did I know someone else was watching. As my sisters burned beside me, and my eyes boiled in their sockets I did not get to move on. I was trapped in a place between places. My family had latched onto me, forcing me to stay alive, but it was not enough. That was when a voice called out to me, a creature from deep in death. It made a deal with me, I could go back to life and exact revenge on those who wronged me, and then I could use them to gain back my family.” The voice was not her own, and as she turned to Revin now, eyes ablaze and mouth leaking flames as she began to shriek.
“When I reaped the souls of those who wronged me, I offered them to that creature once again. All he did was laugh, forcing me to stay here and be away from my loved ones. All I wish for is death, true and proper, but I cannot die. For years I have tried possessing those in power to break my curse, so if you can, husband of the woman I have taken, kill me, burn me, break me, snap my soul into a million pieces. I will not stop you, but I cannot help you. Hurry now, your loved one grows weaker.”
Revin watched as the woman shrunk once again, this time she weak and grey. This was the last thing he had expected, but to be fair most of the creatures he had fought did everything they could to stay alive. He completed the symbol that branded his knuckles, and he felt as the pain rocketed through his nervous system. After a few seconds, his hand went numb, and he watched as a bright liquid flame burned in his fist. He raised it into the air, he could feel things that were normally beyond him now. As his hand neared something tangible, a purple line appeared in the air. Illuminated by the flames. It glowed strong as he followed it to the tree. He pulled away the brown bark with no resistance, and inside he saw the charred and blackened corpse of the woman, it swam with ancient and unknown runes of power and stability, fuelled by unwanted sacrifice. He took a deep breath as he saw the string flowing into the forehead of the carcass, and he grabbed it with full force, feeling his soul be sucked away into the crossroads between life and death.
Patch felt something shift around her feet, the shallow water changing direction once again. She strained to lift up her head, she felt so exhausted. It wasn’t just a physical one, but almost as if her strength had been sapped away completely. She could hear two voices speaking…
Revin was thrust without warning into the water. He felt it leach away his warmth as he forced himself to move on through it. The water was flowing against him, weakly tugging at his feet and attempting to pull him back to the border of life. This place was both eerily familiar but completely alien to him. He saw the creature waiting for him, macabre smile wide on the taught fabric face. His hand still dripped liquid flame that fell sizzling into the water. The glowing purple lines led him to the edge of life and death, but he walked no further in the sight of the King of Flies.
“Hello there Revin, I still remember when you were only a small man, untouched by death.” It cocked its head, almost mockingly he thought, examining his coat and flaming hand.
“You know why I beckoned you.” He announced in a formal, but firm tone.
“I’ve read of your influence, your barterings. I’ve come to trade, but first I must take care of business.”
He sloshed through the water, it became deeper as he went closer to the border. He kept his fiery hand close to the hanging line, he could feel the creatures that lived near the border begin to stir, somewhere deep in his soul he could feel the beckon of the place beyond Death, but he ignored it for now. The line lead into the water, he quickly thrust his hand into the greyish liquid to remove the thing that was nestled just under the surface. A soul, wrapped in layers of chains came up from the water with a splash. The face resembled a woman’s, but it was out of focus, blurred. Still, he could sense the desire burn deep inside, trapped. The King peered over his shoulder, suddenly behind him.
“This is a bad idea, even by your standards Revin, you could condemn it now, banishing it forever. If you attempt to free it there will be consequences.” It whispered into his ear, but he did not listen. Revin was not one to forfeit promises, even those most definitely detrimental to himself.
“If I condemn her will she be free to wander in death? Will she be able to find her family?” He questioned the slender mannequin. Its face twisted in distaste as it replied.
“No. It will not. It will be chained, and kept under secure watch by the Sickles.” Revin did not need to ask what the Sickles were, for the King spat the name with such contempt a globule of crimson goo shot out of its mouth and into the water. He turned back to the woman, he could see that the chains went far into the void. He dared not fiddle with them until necessary, for who knew what foul demon held her in its clutches, and what alarms would ring? He would need to be fast if he wanted to escape. He inspected the chains closer, they were black iron, unrusted or stained from the many years in the waters of the Crossroads. A single rune of binding was repeated on its surface, simple yet woven into an almost impenetrable lattice. There was an option, as there always is, but there was a reason this one was not used. Master runes were particularly detrimental to one’s health, taking more payment than just energy from the body, it required years off your life. He spoke the first syllable, and the power began to swirl around him. The King watched on with distaste, muttering about waste. As soon as he was halfway through the runic saying a hidden mark revealed itself on the chain. It shone brightly, a rune of alarm that rattled and screamed as it raced down the links that seemed to stretch on through eternity. Internally he cursed his stupidity, but no matter now. By the time the mark left his mouth and formulated in the air he could feel a rending sensation in his soul, he doubled over and coughed as blue flame covered the chain and ate through it like wildfire through a forest, not even leaving ash behind. He could feel a rumble in the ground, the water was stirring as something was crashing through death, sweeping away all that lay before it. He dropped the spirit in his hurry, it was still unconscious but would awake soon, he hoped. He half swam half ran to his wife, the King skulked behind him, getting impatient in his waiting.
“Oh, you’ve really stirred it up now. Now one of the big ones is coming. Are you going to trade?” It trilled on and on in its abnormal, buzzing tone. The black goo that bound his wife fell away as he got near, its power cut off. He caught her in his arms as she fell, she smiled weakly at him and gently stroked his face.
“You need to shave.” She mewled softly, giggling deliriously to herself. Revin turned to the King of Flies, finally ready to make a deal.
“Let us out of here, Y’hurl. You know how I shall pay you.” The King cackled at this, enjoying every moment of chaos as it turned to watch as the entity approached, destroying everything in its path.
“There are many in there who call for your name, Revin. You best take care, one day I won’t let you off with a late payment, and when you die every single one of those things you’ve put away will come back to hau-” It burst through the barrier, Revin turned to look away, terrified at what effect looking at the creature would have on his psyche. Patch however watched as an indescribable thing that could have been a hand outstretched towards them. She felt her eyes burn as she gazed at the sudden magnificence of a fiery being burst free from the water.
“You forced me into that place, now you will pay.”
The spirit of the tortured woman flew into the colorless place to exact revenge on the higher demon, and Revin leaped back into the land of the living.
The bar was quite a dingy place, tables were constantly being broken in small fights as burly men brawled in the vacuous space. Behind the bar there stood a man with dark skin, always ready to serve you the finest drinks you could find in New-Thurid. At this bar now sat a woman, she was on her third pint of some exotic drink she had never heard of, but she’d never needed it more. The man behind the bar finished serving a large man who had more hair on his chest than he had synapses in his alcohol riddled brain. The Bartender came up to her after she had finished that glass too, savoring the taste of lemony strawberry, and the burning sensation that came with it.
“Thank you so much Aken, another if you will.” The man named Aken seemed almost worried about how much she was drinking.
“Are you sure you’re okay? You look very pale, and I’m not sure your husband would be happy with how much you’re drinking.” As he said this, a tall man who’s grey suit was on his shoulders to better display the faded ghostbusters t-shirt he wore underneath. Revin sat down next to his wife and surprised both Aken and Patch by asking for the same drink.
“Work troubles?” Aken inquired, and Patch nodded as Revin downed the glass.
“Maybe you guys need to go somewhere nice, take a holiday, I’ve heard both New Zealand and Hawaii are great after the rebuilds.” Aken said while refilling both glasses. Patch looked over at her husband with a loving look and procured a small coin branded with a strange symbol, a cartoony spirit being captured by a net.
“Heads or tales?”