Monday, July 15, 2013

04 After bickering

Three weeks had passed since Danny had had his argument with Volnam. His practice went along as usual nothing new had been introduced he would gather and disperse energy in the limited amounts that he could handle. He would work on his mastery over fire spending hours making the flame larger and smaller. When his neighbors were outside where he could see them he would practice reading their surface thoughts on the occasion that he had a question for Volnam the imp would answer the question exactly but would not elaborate on it at all. Aside from that the imp was always there supervising but that was all he did there was no other interaction between the two.
Volnam stood invisible on the railing of the front porch as the human practiced trying to read thoughts on the neighboring mortals an adult and his two spawn. Asmodan was bold, the imp had to admit to himself, without any prodding at all the human saw three minds and all on his own started trying to access all three of them at once. Right away he found out how complicated it was to follow three sentient minds and keep the information organized in a way that still made sense.  It didn’t help that the entire time he was trying to practice this, the neighbors black Labrador a beast that was never locked up and never seemed to shut up had been barking nonstop ever since the Imp and Warlock had moved outside to practice. Attempting to ignore the annoying mongrel Asmodan had to keep the thoughts and activities straight for the three humans, in this case one throwing a ball one catching the ball and one giving instruction on how to throw and catch the ball better. Any slip up in concentration could instantly have the mind reader throwing a ball to himself and telling himself what he was doing wrong and how to do it better, there were easily more ways to get it wrong then there were to get it right. Getting it wrong could in most cases confuse the information so badly that it would be completely useless to the person who tried to gather it, In some cases if the mind was weak enough or the minds being read were powerful enough the inexperienced mind reader could break himself mentally.
Volnam could feel the small sense of victory as Asmodan started to work out a system that seemed to work for him. Feelings of victory over something so trivial? Moron. Volnam went back to their fight those few weeks past. He was going to kill the fool but that was how it was done when demons were trained by their master. You obeyed and excelled or you were tortured and then you excelled or you failed again or came up short in any other way and were finally fed to you competitors. There was no way that you would actually fight back against a punishment. His mind went back to the same argument he had had with himself a thousand times before over the past weeks. Should he cut his losses kill this mortal and try and find his next incarnation. How long would that take? Could he even kill the soft soulsack? Whatever it was that came to defend him was amazingly powerful never had anything outside the abyss so completely obliterated he every attempt to defend himself. He had no real idea exactly what it was. Was it Asmodan’s subconscious self, the one that could be set free if he became a fully realized Warlock. Was it some sort of spell woven into his blood to defend him should he be attacked before he was ready to defend himself? He flicked venom from his tail onto the overgrown grass of the front yard, a silent stream of abyssal curses on his lips. He could smell the venom and the dying grass as it withered and burnt from contact. He looked back at Asmodan to see the Warlock staring straight at him. Another unnerving trait the mortal worm had picked up recently even completely invisible within a few seconds of looking for him Asmodan could spot him and track him with his naked eyes from that point on. Damn him he thought, again flinging more venom into the yard this time several small drops landed across a ten foot span and began to kill the grass they came into contact with.
“When are you going to stop sulking?” Asmodan asked him using telepathy.
“I am not sulking, if anything I am scheming.”
“Scheming about what then?”
“If I should continue to train you or not.”
“Whoa now, What?!” Danny asked out loud this time. Panic was clear in his voice.
“You can’t stop my training; I love what I am doing now I need this.”
“No, this is not how demons train and it is clear that you will not train as demons train.”
“Well yeah, I’m not a demon I’m a human.”
“But you want the power of demons and power over demons do you not? How can you expect to be more powerful than something you are not willing to work harder than take more punishment than?”
“Well mostly it just sounds stupid.”
“Stupid?! You want power cheap and it isn’t power comes with steep prices.”
“Wait, I want it cheap? You don’t have this right in your head. At least what is in your head doesn’t match with what I have in mine, and what I have in mine is the working deal.”
“Really?... then tell me oh wise and powerful Warlock. How is it that you see our agreement?”
“OK fine. You see me as a patsy, a puppet full of power. You train me and as you train me you condition me to do what and how you want. Then once I have the power to fully enforce my will in the abyss you will get to be the big ma- I’m sorry you will get to be the big Imp behind the scenes. But that is not how this is going to go down.”
Volnam stared at him a few seconds waiting for him to continue as well as slightly agitated that the human had come to this type of a conclusion on his own. It was at this point that he had made a mistake in assuming that the Warlock never thought past his exercises. When Asmodan didn’t automatically continue Volnam asked him.
“So then… How will this go down?”
“You will train me just like you have been. You will teach me every trick and method, history and theory you know or can dig up in the abyss and I will learn them all and when I am ready we will go to the abyss and we will lay down the law, you and me both. Because with me you can be semi certain of something that you can’t have with any demon you will ever meet.”
“And that is?”
“Are you ready? Cause I know you won’t believe me your limited little Imp brain won’t be able to grasp the concept for some time if ever.”
“The suspense is killing me mortal what is this thing you speak of.”  Volnam’s mental voice was dripping with all but the very thickest layers of sarcasm.
“Ok imp you asked for it, Ima give it to you. The thing that you can get from me that no other demon will ever be able to give you is an exchange of trust.”
Volnam was silent for a few solid minutes cicadas wheezed on and on in the background. The air water clung to him in a hot and oppressive way. Then he looked Danny in the eyes still unsure if the human could actually see him or not.
“I’m doomed aren’t I.”
Danny laughed and pointed out into the yard.
As he spoke the Venom the Imp had spattered into the yard that had not yet soaked into the ground, the droplets that clung to blades of now dead grass began to float up off of the ground and dead blades of grass like little yellow green rain drops that had been frozen the instant before they reached their final destination. In the air just above the grass they moved towards each other, growing larger each time one met the next one at a time. Finally they stopped a single large drop about the diameter of a quarter. Once it had all been gathered up the warlock looked through the thinning line of short once bushy trees that acted as a visual barrier between his and his neighbors properties. A few more seconds to focus and the small globule of venom shot off through the trees and was followed with a chocking shocked yelp from the dog that had up until that instant had never stopped barking.
Volnam chuckled to himself. There was still hope for this human. The poison from the Imps tail was so lethal that almost as soon as the animal finished its yelp of surprise from instantly having something slam down its throat it was dead. A single one of those drops would have had the same effect.

Later that night Volnam explained to Danny that he needed to go into the abyss to do some research something that caught Danny off guard, he knew that the Demon hated going into the abyss. When asked about it the Imps remark was in abyssal and very negative pertaining to the humidity outside. Asmodan knew that it was a crap excuse but dropped it. So far anything that Volnam had had to go back over usually ended up being included in a lecture or lesson for Danny who at this point was beginning to get bored with gather and dispersing energy and trying to control fire. His telepathy was coming along great he could at this point open himself up and start to take in what people were musing over throughout his local neighborhood. He could not actually talk to any of them yet Volnam had often told him that it would be fine he would only run the risk of ruining their mind with his random untrained intrusions. In time he would be able to hold conversations but he was still far from it, as far as listening to the neighborhood he could only do it long enough to pick a single mind that interested him and then attach his focus to that one before he was washed away in the flood of noise that came with close to sixty random minds all blindly floating from one thing to the next.

A few days passed before Danny was presented with something a little newer to practice with. It was not extremely complicated but it did take him close to thirty attempts to get it right. Volnam had contacted him first with an itch in the back of his mind something that Danny had taken to be kind of a telepathic telephone ring when Volnam needed to talk to him but couldn’t mentally connect with him directly. He got up off of the couch and went into the bathroom and turned on the hot water in the sink he waited for the mirror to steam up pretty good and then began to use his pinky finger to mark out a series of symbols along the outside edge of the mirror, A few minutes to make sure that they were all correct and he mentally called out to the Imp. Almost instantly the lights in the bathroom flickered out and he was staring at Volnam in the mirror.

“OK I have to ask, why do the lights go out? Is the connection pulling power from the electricity in the wall behind the mirror? I know it’s not pulling power from me.”
“Why does it matter magics are magics they work because they do.”
“Well if I tried to do this same trick with a small mirror out in the woods without a bathroom with power in it would the spell work?”
“Why ask so many questions that do not really have any significance.”
“You know that because of all of these pointless questions I’m going to be far more powerful than you don’t you?”
“By nothing more than the lineage you carry the blood in your veins you will and probably currently are already more powerful than me. But and the moment I know more and I’m telling you that this is not something that you should be focused on.”
“OK ugly yoda what is it that I can do for you?”
“I am ready to return. Summon me back now. I am waiting.”
With that the mirror showed only Danny and the wall behind him and the lights came back on. Danny glared up at the lights and thought for a second before grabbing a small mirror and heading outside to his backyard. The back half of the yard was wooded a few century oaks and some random trees that survived from when the developers cut them all back to build the neighborhood. Far enough into the tree line there was a stream but he didn’t need to go that far back in. he probably didn’t need to go all the way into the tree line in the first place but he decided he wanted to prop the little mirror up on one of the trees so it was facing him as oppose to laying it on the ground facing straight up. He used a black dry erase board marker and drew his symbols as he had before around the outside of the mirror. He then called to the Imp again. This time nothing happened. Hmm… he wondered to himself if this was an electrically powered spell as he gathered up his marker and mirror and headed back into the house. He also wondered how it worked before the ability of man to use electricity and if demons had electricity. All magic needed a power source. That lesson had been drilled into him more than once. Once back inside he began to prepare to summon Volnam back to the mortal realm. It took him twenty eight tries for it to finally work which also came as an agitation he had the ritual memorized and was sure that he would get it right on the first time so by the tenth and fifteenth times he was almost to mad to think straight so he took a break before he started again. He had to constantly remind himself that this was his first actual summoning. In the back of his mind the thing that was making him so mad was the fact that he knew that rituals were the simplest form of magic in that anyone could do one if they knew the complete ritual and got it correct. By the twenty-eighth attempt he watched as the air on the ground before him tore open and the Imp sat on the other side drumming his fingers on his leg.

“I thought you said that you had the summoning ritual mastered the last time I asked if you should go over it again.”
”you’re ugly.”
“You’re Human.”
Volnam got up off of the dark brown crystal like pillar he was sitting on and walked through the tear which sealed as soon as he was through it.
                “I am going to keep training you.”
                “yeah I thought we covered that a few days ago.”
“No you said why you want me to keep training you I never actually stated that I would keep training you.”
                “But now you just did so we are good right?”
“No I started to but you interrupted me. I will train you but first I need to suppress something that is inside of you.”
“I don’t like the sound of that.”
“It does not matter. You do not remember all of our argument a few weeks past. I was assaulted by something inside of you something that I think was placed there as a safeguard against demon attack on the Warlock’s bloodline. I can’t keep training you not knowing if at some random point something is going to attack me from the depths of your mind and kill me.”
“A safeguard? Like what?”
“The only thing that I can compare it to would be like you after another century of training attacking mentally and me having never used my mind for anything but reading and wondering about my next meal.”
“Sweet I have a mental pit bull.”
“Mindspeak mindspeak use the mindspeak.”
“OK fine, Sweet I have a mental pit bull.”
“I need to either make a deal with it or make it blind to me or possibly even kill it, if I am going to continue with training you.”
“Wait a minute what if it kills you for trying? What am I supposed to do then? No teacher no warlock right?”
“My gamble is that it knows that too. If it kills me the chances of you doing what you were meant to do drop considerably.”  Volnam then got very close to the human and looked him deep into the eyes and said out loud.
“That means do not kill me.”

A while later and Asmodan and Volnam reached an agreement. The Demon swore that he would do nothing but assure that whatever it was that attacked during their fight would no longer pose a threat to him. Leaving the mental security measure intact to do its job against anything else that might try and attack Asmodan in the future. They both agreed there was no doubt that eventually he would be attacked by something. When Danny was ready and feeling a little drowsy he laid down and Volnam began attempting to make contact with Danny’s subconscious self or whatever it was that attacked him. It wasn’t a matter of making contact with the undermind, he knew he could do that it was a simple thing. But what he wanted was what attacked him. If that wasn’t the undermind then that wasn’t what he wanted. He began poking around more forcefully and still nothing happened. Finally he went with what he was sure might work. Mentally he created the equivalent of a glowing red spike and started stabbing places that most anyone would consider to be low level mental torture. Danny’s physical body began to twitch and he began to moan as if in a bad dream that was quickly turning into a nightmare. He began to poke and prod completely enjoying himself as he went. It was at the point when he was more interested in causing the sleeping Warlock pain than finding the hidden guardian that the thing made itself known.

Had Volnam not been still semi looking for the thing it would have taken him completely unaware. It had him locked down almost as fast as he began to try and defend himself. This time though it was not the face of the Warlock that had him trapped, it was much worse. Volnam was in a shredded landscape of red black and purple it could only be described as ruined. Hills Mountains and Cliffs none of which had any practical relationship to each other lay blasted by an unseen and unheard wind. He couldn’t move and as he realized it he noticed that he was save for few inches of his skinny neck and his head completely encased in some sort of black rock. Towering above him was a walking flying nightmare. Its black skin was pulled tight over layer upon layer of flat muscle. Around its waist was an overlapping collection of Demon skins some with the wings still attached to the hides that had been ripped from most likely still living victims. Volnam saw at least one Imp tail hanging near part of a leg that left with the skin hanging from this terrors left hip. Its massive arms were folded over its chest as it glared down at him. The Pit fiend didn’t have enough lip to cover the stalactite and stalagmite like gleaming teeth inside his almost human shaped skull. The fiend’s eyes didn’t contain orbs but horrifying red light. Something in the distance flared with a whitish light and Volnam could see what inside he already knew, the black skin was not actually black but instead a wet looking dark blue. Its massive flesh draped wings were half extended up and away from his muscle layered back they sky for almost thirty feet in either direction was hidden behind them.
It yelled physically and mentally simultaneously.
                “Now you are finished.”
                “Now you are finished.”
Volnam knew that to try and actually fight free or mentally defend himself was pointless.
                “I am here with permission from the warlock and look to make a bargain.” He said out loud as the massive demon began to move towards him.
                “Do you know my caste?”
“Do you know my caste?” The Fiend stopped moving as he asked the question and refolded his arms while he waited for the little demon to answer.
“Your caste is power, lord. You are the most feared and most powerful of those that move through the plains still awake. You are immune from service to the Balelords unless you decide to become one yourself and even then continue to only ever have to serve your own ends. You are a lord of the pit. A master of where ever you are whenever you are there.”
“Why speak to me Imp? Why not use the mindspeak?”
“Why speak to me Imp? Why not use the mindspeak?”
“Because full communion with one such as you regardless of how practiced or skilled I think I am could kill me. You speaking to me as you are is causing my ears to bleed.” This was no lie, Volnam could feel droplets of blood begin to well up in his fox like ears. He tilted them to let the blood drain before enough could gather to pool up.
The simple admission that talking was enough to cause the Imp pain seemed to please the Fiend.
                “So the Warlock sent you in here has he?”
“So the Warlock sent you in here has he?”
“Yes lord, I am here to strike a bargain if it is possible.”
“Speak on little ratling.” Volnam noticed that that time, the Giant didn’t scream in his head as he spoke.
“I have a bargain with the Warlock that I can come and see whatever it is that defends him in his hours of need  and find a way to convince whatever that may be to leave me be in my dealings with him so that I might train him.”
“You have been left alone as you trained him, the only time that you have been interfered with were those times that your intent left training and entered torture and murder. On those accounts you have been dealt with more fairly than the original bargain called for.”
“You can bend a Bargain?”
“I am he that.. I pick and choose what I will do no mortal powerful or no can truly bind me, I can meet my bargains how I see fit.”
Volnam had no clue in all of his study that they could do that, maybe it wasn’t pit fiends in general maybe it was this one alone. No demon should have any flexibility in a bargain that was the point of making a pact with one.
“Of course you can Lord, forgive my lack of knowledge. I am sure that you understand how much is not known about ones as rare and powerful as yourself. My plan is to train the Warlock to survive the abyss his first time into the miasma with no chaperone.”
“Idiot flying rodent the Warlock has had a chaperone since the instant he was conceived. There is nothing you can do about that. I was here at his beginning and I will be there at his end and I will be there at the next incarnation.”
“Lord his training will get much worse and the danger will increase many fold before I am done with him. I know not what causes your summons but It is wasted on me.”
“You know what is a waste of my time and what is not? Is it not true that not a month mortal time past that you had the intent to kill the Warlock?”
“You know what is a waste of my time and what is not? Is it not true that not a month mortal time past that you had the intent to kill the Warlock?”
Volnam could feel the rage in the Pit lord building and as it did he could feel the stone he was trapped in begin to tighten. His eyes began to bulge and soft things inside him began to attempt to make room for the hard things inside of him like bones that were finding that they didn’t have the space that they were used to.
“Do not forget that last meeting little Imp. I know your name and I can do with you what I want, you are mine. But I cannot teach the mortal directly so I will spare you. But know this. You are forbidden from causing his death either by your own action or inaction train him as he wills it you will not be molested by me from now on. But at no point will you ever forget that his life is more valuable than yours, if something happens to him I will give you my special attention for millennia before I end you.”
Before Volnam knew what was going on he was back beside the now awake Warlock. Who seemed to be nursing the mother of all mankind’s headaches.  Asmodan sat up rubbing a few spots on his head and groaned to his Imp instructor. “So where do we stand?”
                “We go forward with your training. A deal has been struck.”

                “So was it a mean looking mental pit bull?”

                “You wish it was a pit bull you were dealing with.”

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