Wednesday, August 7, 2013

13a Dark Grand Canyon

“So it’s a dark pit and I get thrown in and tortured for a really long time and if I live and don’t lose my mind then I come out more powerful?”
Danny didn’t sound too enthusiastic about the whole process as he reiterated what he had understood of what Volnam had explained to him.
“No” Was the Imps simple reply.
“Ok. Good, so where did I misunderstand?”
“It’s not a pit it’s a whole place like ahh… Like the grand crevice in the wastelands of your country.”
“You mean the Grand canyon in Arizona?”
“Yes that’s what I said… It is a large... Ahh yes this is good it is a large region. And is controlled by no Bale lord it is only dark and wild. The beings that live there thrive on the same negative emotions that we do here. But humans are rare and give off a different… scent than Abysseth. They will torture you and keep you but not kill you for fear of losing what they want from you. But while you are there you are free to defend yourself and the area is rich in the powers you need to master and attune to.”
“When I am finished, how do I leave?”
Asmodan didn’t sound afraid but he did sound unsure of himself. After a few moments of silence from Volnam he began to become agitated.
“Volnam. When I am ready to come home, how will I do it?”
His voice had a much sharper edge then before. This time the Imp looked up at him and perked his ears up high on his head.
“You will come home when you can make it home. I cannot bring you here I cannot even send you there. It is your power that you are seeking to test. When you are strong enough to come then come. Unless you lose your mind there and then I will have wasted a lot of time. For your sake don’t let them break you.”
Danny sat there a few moments in silence going over everything in his head wondering if they actually could drive him to the breaking point from which he would not be able to focus enough strength to bring him home. Then he remembered an early lesson. Warlocks had power over demons because they were mentally stronger than they were. Physically no human could match a Demon they had strength and thousands of years of practice at learning how to master it.
“What if I can’t make it home?”
“You will stay and be a tortured slave until you are of no fun and no use then you will be eaten or something.”
Another few moments of silence as he tried to talk himself out of it or into it he wasn’t sure which.
“Other Warlocks have done this?” his tone lost its edge and was now void of any emotion at all.
“I don’t know warlocks have never been trained by demons they are always trained by the one that they are meant to replace. We tend to hate you all its kind of how the relationship is meant to work. We are different I am smarter than all the others.”
“Hmm. As long as you’re not setting me up for failure getting even for something a predecessor did to you five hundred years ago. I may end up stronger than the others I have an inside track on how it all really works with you.”
Volnam had a gleam in his beady evil yellow eyes.
“You will need to be stronger I want much in repayment for everything I have shown you the kingdom you will build must be large to share it with me.”
“What will I need to take with me to Fear and Death camp?”
“Nothing. Time will not pass, your body will not age nor will it want for food or drink. We only eat and drink for the pleasure of it, and for the gaining of power. You will learn how this works if you are to survive and return.”
“Fine I leave in the morning, while I am gone Lily gets whatever she wants, I mean it. Keep everything I’ve been experimenting with safe while I’m gone.”
Having finally made the decision and started to plan on what will be done while he was gone gave the young warlock a small adrenaline rush; his heart beat a little faster than it had a few minutes before. He was almost sure that he was going to end up dead and he knew he should be terrified but somewhere inside something at the core of him didn’t seem to care it was this feeling of not caring of understanding what could and probably would happen and still not caring that made him feel free that he even had the ability to attempt something like this and all the possible gains from surviving it. If he heard even one name of one demon that would grant him almost double his current potential for… anything at his current power he knew that knowledge needed to be his focus he knew the voice of commands and he had taken it as far as he could in the realm of the mortals he had no real need to practice it on Volnam the little bastard was in a sour enough mood all the time as it was and the one time he used it on a human the initial shock of it almost killed the human… the bastard should have died anyways, who survives a direct hit from a fire truck? Only the lucky or the cursed and always the jerks. Asmodan quickly caught his mind beginning to wander and brought it to heel immediately, even that small slip in his own self-discipline might be enough to get him killed; maybe he wasn’t ready for this yet? I could be sending myself off to a pointless death but at the same time Volnam wouldn’t have mentioned it if he didn’t think that I would survive it I’m his only ticket at what he wants getting me killed wouldn’t do him any good, not now anyways. Unless maybe he has a deal with something in the rift he is sending me too. Maybe he doesn’t have a grudge against a previous Warlock but he could be working with or for something that does. Asmodan played the different lines of thought out in his mind as he headed off to the section of rooms that he had set aside for Lily. After sending an email to Algie and explaining that he was going on a research trip and a set of instructions as to
how he wanted Lily treated and what to do should anything unexpected happen like his death which on the realistic side of things wasn’t really all that unexpected, Danny went to bed and slept as long as he could. At almost exactly two thirty the next evening he rolled over and opened his eyes to see the never sleeping always planning face of Volnam perched like some bizarre furless fox vulture on the foot board of his bed.
“Have you lost your nerves yet?”
The scratchy voice asked, he sounded like he was somewhere between nervous and suppressing a laugh. Danny hated that about Volnam and wondered if all demons were that way. Two completely different emotions oddly making their way into the same sentence and creating a totally confusing tone of voice.
It’s Nervehave you lost your nerve yet? You bald rat.”
He shot back using the now second nature telepathy, He hoped that the chance to make him practice the mind voice would appeal to the imp there was no confusing tones when telepathy was used it was just the thought and the feeling behind it or sometimes when one was careful just the thought itself which was a lot like reading text in a letter, without the intended feeling to go along with it the thought could be taken a number of different ways much like a sarcastic comment without the sarcastic tone of voice could quickly be taken as an insult rather than the joke it was supposed to be. From what Volnam had explained this method was usually used when someone of great power was trying to give someone with much less power enough rope to hang themselves.
Ahh I smell tension and I feel resolvegood you have all of your nerves still I can hope that the wits and willpower will follow suit.”
The imp hoped down from his perch and began to walk up the length of the bed to stand leaning against the head board. One elbow against the wood and one foot crossed over the other at the ankle.
“You ever thought about wearing clothes?”
“I have decorations.”
As he replied he gestured with one clawed hand at the line of gold earrings lining his right ear from lobe to tip. And the two gold bands that wrapped both short horns halfway up.
“Yep you sure do, now all you need is a pitch fork and a little red cape and you would be all set.”
As he sent the reply he also sent the image of classic goat headed satyr that most of Christianity associated with Satan.
“Casaganoth stupid goat lords their magic is only cheap parlor tricks and their idea of cunning is no more involved than what your people callplaying mother against papa.”
It was at that point that Volnam caught onto the fact that Danny was making fun of him and that he had fallen for it. The Casaganoth insult was one that
Danny used almost regularly and that Volnam fell for more often than most others.
“I have more important things to do than play your games warlock, like plan what part of that woman to eat first when you fail and get yourself killed today. Get up, get started.”
With that the imp’s back began to contort and there was a painful ripping sound as the flesh on his back was forced out and shaped into a pair of bats wings.
Volnam never expressed any form of discomfort the few times that Asmodan had watched him grow or sprout or whatever it was he called it when he got his wings, but he did know that it sounded horrifically painful. As soon as the wings were out the was a pressure on the bed as Volnam jumped and a slapping sound followed by some choice words on Danny’s part as a few of the initial flaps slapped him senseless. Danny sat up in the bed and felt around on his face and neck for blood he was positive that one of the needle tipped spines that protruded from the flesh of each of the wings at the bottom of each of the ribs that allowed them to keep their shape as they caught wind had slashed him, another second or two and he was sure that it was just pain and not followed with any real damage. Volnam was gliding to the doorway snickering to himself as Danny focused on an area just in front of him and off to his right when the Cantrip was ready he let it loose in the world and a small explosion of warm air surged out just in time to send the Imp into the wall beside the door and not through the door. There was a satisfying thud followed by some of Volnam’s own choice words as he slid to the floor. The imp was on his feet almost instantly and turned with an arm raised and already a Halo of red light beginning to form around the tips of his fingers.
“Really? I ruined your mood with a trick as simple as warm air?”
Danny chuckled to himself as he placed his hands behind his head and leaned back on the headboard.
“You had better be ready with more than warm air for what you are about to subject yourself too today boy.”
Volnam jumped back into the air and glided around the corner with what seemed to Danny to be a little more of a rush than before.
“Hmm... musta hit a soft spot with the air trick gonna have to remember that one.”
Over the course of the next few hours Danny got up and went about the Factory turned house and fed and bathed himself he didn’t see Lily like he normally would have they had a similar routine when getting ready for a day and that usually meant that they ran into each other. Once he noticed he decided that she must be avoiding him she didn’t seem happy to hear what he planned on doing and it dawned on him that it was possible that the crush she had on him had grown more complicated and she didn’t want to see him for that reason too. It didn’t matter she knew he was married and that although dead he still managed to talk to his wife once he hadn’t hidden any of these things, if she was getting mixed up in or falling for a married man that was her own fault not his. While buttering a piece of toast he wondered how much more he would need to do and learn before he would be able to shove his fist down that snotty angels throat. The Idea brought a smile to his face. Once he was clean and dressed comfortably he headed to the top floor of the house. At one point it was where all the offices of the people who ran the factory below were located but now it was his series of workrooms and studies, each was customized for the work he was doing in them some were left untouched waiting for his next project to be started. In the center of the floor was a room that he had had re worked from the floor up and it was as far as he and his various contractors were concerned it was the closest thing you could have to a bomb shelter on the fourth floor of a building. The walls were thirty six inches thick as was the ceiling and floor. He and Volnam had to go over every inch and cover it with glyphs and runes to and in many cases certain materials had to be used in the setting of the glyphs some required a pure silver inlay others the blood of the caster as well as un-smelted gold ore powdered and mixed with it. By the end of the process which had taken months they had the magical equivalent of a bomb shelter. That would probably protect the occupants from the end of the world or so Danny hopped, since from what he understood many of the things he had mastered and many more he would learn to master could possibly start such an event into motion. There was a time in the beginning when a thought like that would have scared him or excited him now it was only another fact to be listed away with all the other fact and pieces of lore he had memorized, Today it was time to move past practice for the sake of learning and move into the realm of doing for the sake of surviving.
He came up the stairwell to the rear of the floor and headed towards the door to his safe room and as he came around a corner he caught sight of Lily quickly rounding the other corner heading away from him. He couldn’t take the thoughts from her mind from this distance and never really had the need to do it when she was face to face with him but he could smell the emotions in the air now. She was nervous and anxious he could understand a few of the reasons why, Volnam had made no end of comments of what he would like to do to her to see if he could make her emit certain sounds. Just the fact of living with an actual demon, even if he was a runt was enough to keep almost any sane person uncomfortable to say the least. There was also the fact that he felt like she had become a friend and what he was doing was really dangerous. He stared at the spot where he had watched her go around the corner for a second longer then he turned and went into the room where he was going to make his way into the abyss.
He entered and looked around the room and made sure everything was where he needed it, Most of what he needed was on the floor around a very basic golden circle which was embedded in the floor, he would need to reach all of it at one point or another and he would be able to get up to get any of it so it was organized into what order it was going to be needed in. once he was sure everything was alright he turned and pushed the door shut. It was a massive door as thick as all the walls it was set into the wall with some hinges that he had to buy from a company that made custom doors for bank vaults that was based in New York somewhere he couldn’t push it shut with one hand or even one shoulder he had to turn and face it dead on and put all his strength into it. It wasn’t hard past that point, once the door was actually moving it built enough momentum to finish its swing and close itself. Once it was finally closed he ran his index and middle finger along the seam between the door and doorjamb all the while focusing on the sealing spell that would enact all the different wards woven into the making of the room Volnam had showed him early on that many complicated spells could be prepared and left ready and one much more simple spell could be written and performed to set the rest in motion in occasions like this one where there was already hours and hours of spell weaving to be done the smartest thing to do was prepare as many of the spells in advance as he could and set them off as he needed to with the smaller key spells. The room was sealed and all its many different wards were in place as Danny kneeled down on the floor in the center of the circle. he took another moment kneeling there letting the cold of the ground seep into his legs trying to enjoy the cool or at least trying to force himself to concentrate on the cool as a way of pushing past the nervousness that was working on overpowering him. He was going to a place where it was almost guaranteed that he would not only die but first be tortured by things that have had many long lifetimes to master the art. Volnam had described in great detail some of his favorite methods and those images began to creep to the front of his mind, finally his anger took hold of him or he took hold of it and as he did he used its heat to melt everything else from his mind. He reminded himself of what he was, The Warlock the master and destroyer of demon kind its hated and feared commander. All he was about to do now was take a step towards taking that mantle and making it truly his. Another minute to steel his resolve and he reached out with his left hand and took a small urn that had a pint of his own blood in it with a small painters brush resting across the top of it. Once it was in hand he held it in frontof his chest and held his right hand palm down an inch over its opening and began to infuse his voice with the arcane power that would change word to spell. As he chanted off the spell that would activate the power stored in the blood and fuse it with the ground crystal powder that had been mixed in with it, he could feel each word burn his throat as he spoke it. Once finished he took the brush and slowly began the process of adding a second ring inside the gold one this one was the set of instructions and emblems that would secure the path to the abyss and confine the opening to this protected room, once the circle was complete the runes each began to glow a faint purple and seemed to roll back and forth on the floor, each keeping the same spacing and shape he had given it but still managing to appear like beads of water on a car windshield as the driver sped up and slowed down.
Another few seconds and the whole circle simply floated up off the ground and stopped about an inch and a half above the floor still sliding back and forth. He placed the small Urn down and grabbed a small brazier set with three legs made of the bones of a hawks legs each one cleaned and polished to look like fine ivory together the legs held up a plate made of gold and etched with runes that were very similar to the ones he had just painted on the floor. The Brazier he sat on the floor in front of him as close to his knees as he could so as to leave room for the following circles he still had to add to the first two. He grabbed a small leather pouch that was filled with a mixture of herbs that he had powdered and set to dry. The whole pouch he sat on the burn plate and then with his hand held the same was as when he activated the Blood he used one of the cantrips he had prepared to set the bag ablaze the spell set each different component in the mixture off separately but so fast that it seemed as if the bag went up all at once. The flames started the reds yellows and oranges that all common fires burn, but very quickly they began to shift to a very pale purple that matched the color of the first set of runes; the smoke gave off a sweet Cinnamon like scent.
Volnam was perched on the edge of the roof looking out over downtown Raleigh he couldn’t feel the magic being worked in the room with Asmodan but he could feel some of the sensations from Asmodan himself such was the bond with a familiar though they hadn’t yet worked the series of spells that would bond then as such yet they had been in such close proximity to each other long enough that a pseudo version of the bond had begun to manifest itself. The room was getting colder now he could feel and that meant that the gate flame had been lit, the abyss would begin to take the energy from the room any energy and sealed as it was from the rest of the world the only thing it would be able to take was the room’s warmth. The black fog was beginning to thicken around the roof, the imp just smiled. Let this stupid earth try and hide him it couldn’t get rid of him, soon his place here would be as permanent as that of the Warlock’s. At the same time the Warlock’s place in the Abyss would be just as secure though Volnam was sure he would be getting the better part of the deal there. Volnam’s head snapped up as he felt Asmodan get a strong rush of adrenaline his pulse was beginning to climb he was becoming very excited. The portal must be open now he thought to himself. Asmodan must be looking at the abyss for the first time. There was just the faintest hint of fear coming from him this was good he would know plenty of true terror soon enough but there was no need yet. He really did have an outstanding level of control over himself now. A minute passed and nothing seemed to change in what he was feeling from the young warlock then just as Volnam was beginning to think that the young man was going to lose his nerve the connection was severed Volnam felt nothing, Asmodan was in the abyss now and the gateway was closed behind him.
Add in Sol or Nicodemas here.
He was kneeling just as he was in the room but the temperature had changed it was a very warm now and stuffy it felt like he was in a large closet with a heater that was turned up too high. It took his eyes a second to adjust to the odd lighting, it wasn’t like home where the sun was the central light source with other types of light added in where ever it was convenient, there was no light at all but somehow he could still see everything like there was a natural glow but not the pleasant glow of the moonlight reflecting off snow or a lake, it was the dull orange of the sun trying its hardest to shine through a thick layer of city smog or maybe a severe forest fire, but even then the light would be coming from something and here it was just there. He saw deep shadows where there shouldn’t be any and in some areas he saw formations of ash grey or black crystal in perfect detail although where they were amongst the walls of the cliffs around them should have placed them in complete shadow. After another minute to let himself adjust he realized that everything here was made of the same type of crystal and it was all the same color it only seemed to change depending on how much light could get to it and how thick it was. He was to his feet now and taking a few steps to test the footing. Danny wasn’t sure if he expected to feel under his feet cloud stuff or grass maybe he had assumed there was fire and lava everywhere but it was just more of that same crystal he noticed now that the crystal where he was standing was a slightly redder color than everywhere else, after a few more steps he saw that it followed him around. Where ever his foot touched it, it would take on a slightly redder color and to his dismay once he had left the area where he was currently standing the crystal did not change back to its original color. He was going to be leaving a red trail anywhere he went while he was here until he could find some way to change it or not touch the crystal. Unfortunately he had no clue how to fly or even levitate. The longer he watched the quicker he came to realize that the longer he stayed in contact with an area the redder it would get. His first instinct was to run but he caught himself and dismissed the idea he had no clue where he was or where he would be running to. He walked his immediate area and found he was on a ledge to his left the ground dropped away to sheer cliff that went on far further than he could see, this cliff went on before him until it curved to his right and met with the wall which wasn’t as much a straight up climb as it was to his left off behind him about fifteen feet it was the same the cliff to one side joined with the wall to the other side. Danny sat on one of the pieces of the crystal that shot out from the wall lower to the ground to think about his options.
He hadn’t run into anything yet but with a red trail showing anywhere he went it was only a matter of time. Climbing down wasn’t something he was looking forward to trying if he slipped and fell he had no way of knowing how far the drop would be or if there would be a bottom at all. Home wasn’t an option he wasn’t strong enough to force his way back through the barrier from this side yet. That left up, from where he sat currently up seemed as endless as down only he knew where he would end up if he fell and if he wasn’t shredded to bits and bled to death on a fall back down here he at least knew that this was a flat area with nothing currently trying to disembowel him. Why did Volnam always have to get so detailed on the things that demons considered fun in his lectures? Another minute of reflection and he decided the answer was so that Danny was motivated to move instead of tempted to sit and wait to find out if they were lies or not.
After what felt like a solid hour of crawling up the side of the cliff face he found it wasn’t much harder than climbing a tree that had a lot of branches running up and down its trunk he had seen two other ledges similar to the one he had started on and decided to keep climbing until he found something larger or maybe even the top, if there was such a thing here. Once he was close to exhausted he finally found a small ledge only about seven feet long and maybe four wide and sat down with his legs hanging off the side at the knees. He was sure that he should have been worried or afraid, he probably should have been terrified but for some reason he wasn’t worried at all.
He almost felt like this was a familiar landscape to him. It wasn’t and there was no way that it could have been.
“I wonder how many others have been here and felt the same way only to have met with some end that would destroy my sanity to even imagine.”
He said out loud to himself.
“Ahh there we go I don’t need to imagine anything I’m already talking to myself. And I haven’t even been alone a day yet.”
He leaned back against the wall and took another deep breath. His breathing was steady which was strange to him considering all the climbing he had done. It’s not like the effort didn’t affect him he was covered in sweat and felt grimy even though he hadn’t actually seen any dirt or even any dust since he had been here. He had a short flash of a demonic maid moving about with a feather duster and shook it out of his mind. He leaned forward and looked over the ledge down back the way he came then leaned back against the wall and looked up in the direction he was positive he should keep going and started to get up.

The rest of the day passed and he noticed things like he never seemed to need to eat anything or relieve himself either. He sweat almost nonstop but he never needed or at least felt the need to get anything to drink. He was sure it should be early evening or some stage of the night but the sick orange brownish light never faded or grew more intense there never seemed to be a source for it, it was just there. He came upon another ledge this one had a series of crystals that stood out in a ridge about three feet above it and protruded almost five feet from the wall after a shot break to think it over he decided that this was probably the closest thing to a shelter he would find and climbed onto it for a night’s sleep. He lay there for five minutes then ten then what had to have been an hour and decided that he didn’t need food or water he must not need sleep either because it was not coming to him at all. He instead went into a deep meditation and went through a series of exercises that were designed to make him open to the ebbs and flows of the powers he was supposed to be learning to control here. He should have done this as soon as he got here but it seemed like moving was more important to him at the time. 

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