Asmodan found the directions on the floor of his study and mentally checked around for Volnam. He hadn’t seen the Imp in almost a week he knew the little demon hated going into the Abyss and avoided it as much as possible, he also knew that the Imp wasn’t on the material plane or at least not anywhere near him he would be able to tell. His tutor might have dropped them off and headed back into the Abyss to check on something that was written in the pages. The Warlock pulled the packet of paper from a scroll tube and began to read over them. As he read them he almost laughed to himself, this was too easy. It was basically a gate spell and a summoning spell rolled into one which was what a summoning spell already was. The thing that was odd to him was the name, if he was summoning Monique to him then it should be a variation of her name but it was not her name. After he read the last of the actual spell he came upon a section of writing that seemed to be instructions on why the spell was the way it was and in that section he found that the name listed in the spell was for the creature that would be bringing her to him. It was odd but so was the situation. These things we not supposed to happen. When someone died that person was supposed to stay that way. Asmodan would have to expect things to be different for what he was planning on doing. He looked over the instructions again for any components that he might need to get his hands on for the working of the spell and seeing that there were none he set about memorizing the spell, he had time he wouldn’t be able to cast this one in particular for a few more days it called for a full moon and by now he was attuned to those things enough to know off hand that the moon would be full on the fifteenth today was the twelfth.
The next say was spent in a mad dash across Raleigh he ordered a bed and had it delivered that day along with any other thing he could think of needing for Monique’s home coming. There was food, clothes, trinkets even bath towels. He moved through the Crabtree valley mall with Lily at his side constantly stopping to get her advice on what she thought he should have on hand should it be needed. She was even consulted on the feminine hygiene necessities that he should have in the bathroom. They got everything there was not an item or idea that he let slip past him. Finally after questioning Lily to the point of her snapping at him that there no possibility of them needing anything else for her homecoming Danny relented and they headed home to meet the delivery men. The furniture and bedding was taken upstairs and placed where he directed and he paid handsomely to have them take away all the things that had been replaced to get rid of. The driver tried to tell him several times that they would only haul away the old mattress but when Danny pulled out the cash and started waving it around the stocky tanned fellow that seemed to be in charge of the small crew of men that had been sent with the delivery finally agreed walked over talked to his crew and everything was taken downstairs. Danny noticed as the Men nodded approvingly at this night stand or that book shelf, the Warlock was certain that most of the stuff being removed was not going to be taken to a dump but he didn’t care. Let them have it.
Asmodan meditated he focused and he worked at recreating the image of what his bedroom had looked like back before, when his life had been perfect and she had been with him. When the image was complete he began to place everything back the way it was when she had decorated it. when the new furniture was organized as close to the way she had had it as it could be he began unpacking the clothes he had bought or her he remembered how she had folded her shirts and pants what order dresses were hung in that socks were on the left side of the drawer and that panties were on the right. When he was done it was late at night.
Lily had checked on him a few times and he looked at her like there was a horn growing out of her head whenever she distracted him. Finally he had told her she could have the rest of the day off and to go do something fun. Lily didn’t like the look he had while he was doing all of this. He didn’t look happy or relieved he looked stressed and tight. Danny looked like he world was about to be turned upside down and he was trying to force himself to think it was a good thing. After she had thought about it for a while she decided that he was probably terrified that something might go wrong, she knew he had been building up to this for years now. He had told her that this was one of the only reasons he had decided to take the road to becoming a Warlock in the first place. The sun had gone down and Renault had found her he moved along silently behind her. She noticed that he felt like walking this time. She took a moment to wonder how he decided when he was going to float along a few inches above the ground and when he was going to walk like everyone else. Was on instinct and the other an act of will? If so which was which? She looked back at her specter companion and asked him.
“Are you excited?”
Renault looked at her slightly confused.
“Well once Monique is back aren’t you next on the roster for resurrection?”
The ghost seemed to perk up a little when she said that. He must have forgotten or felt like he had been forgotten over the last week or so. He nodded to her that he was next and he seemed to be getting more excited as he thought about it. As she looked at him the grey blue hue that he was normally began to brighten and more color began to spread through his limbs his face. She hadn’t noticed him flush with color before.
“I didn’t know you could do that.”
Renault gave her another confused look.
“Well you are all colorful now.”
The phantom looked himself over and shrugged. He didn’t seem to know he could do that either. A look of concentration passed over his face for a second and his color seemed to deepen and then solidify. He didn’t look like a ghost at all now. He looked like a living breathing person with the exception of the fact that he didn’t breathe. There was more proof when a female jogger who had been headed towards Lily watched a man appear on the sidewalk in front of her out of thin air. Lily hadn’t even noticed her coming but she and Renault both jumped when the woman let out a terrified scream and turned in a dead sprint in the opposite direction. The scream was enough of a distraction that the ghost lost his focus and went back to his invisible state.
“Now there’s a trick. Does Danny know you can do that?”
Renault shook his head no.
“But I am going to show him.”
The mental communication caught Lily off guard she knew that Renault was capable of it but she spent so much time consciously closed off to it that she hadn’t been communicated with in that manner in a few months. She didn’t know how to close out some people and let others in at the same time so she just closed out everyone at all the time. Mostly to keep Volnam from harassing her, the down side was that Renault who could only communicate mentally was locked out all the time. She nodded back to him and continued her walk. Sometime around midnight they had returned home and she had gone to sleep.
Danny could not sleep, He paced, he rode the elevator, he stood in the underground parking deck and stared at his car then he repeated the process. Twice during the night he opened a portal into the Void and called to Volnam mentally searching for him each time he thought he felt the Imps mind but each time it was too foggy or muddled of a connection for the Imp to communicate back. Either the Imp couldn’t converse with him or the Imp was too far away for the connection to be a solid one. Danny did not want to randomly open gates in the abyss to see if he could get closer there was no way to know what he would open a gate into. Like Volnam opening the gate for the car to escape through he could open a gate in front of a marching army and have them start marching into his house, or alert a more powerful being than he might be able to deal with to his presence, none were things he wanted to deal with at the moment. The Warlock found himself standing in front of his new bed and considered climbing in and trying to go to sleep and decided that he would wait till Monique was with him and the bed could be slept in by both of them the first time. Finally he went to the recreation room and laid back in one of the recliners and eventually dozed off around five thirty in the morning.
When the Warlock woke up he almost panicked, shock was clear on his face. Standing before him was his brother. Not the specter of his brother but his brother in the flesh and blood. Danny threw himself up to his feet and threw his arms around his brother to hug him but they passed through him. On reflex his brother attempted to hug him as well. The brothers’ arms both passed through each other. Danny felt the bone numbing chill as he passed through his brother and his brother him. Danny stepped back and stared.
“What is this?”
He motioned with his right hand up and down at the ghost.
“I was walking with Lily last night and as we were talking it just happened. I can turn it on and off like a switch. When I look like this other people can see me.”
“You just do it?”
In reply, Renault just sort of had all the colors fade out of him and he was the blue grey that he normally was. Then just a quickly he seemed to fill back up with color and at the same time he looked like he took on substance he seemed substantial and not ethereal at all. Asmodan reached out a finger and touched him or tried too, the finger sank through his exterior and the Warlock quickly withdrew it before the cold could really bite him.
“At this rate you will end up figuring out a way to resurrect yourself.”
“That would be nice. I will probably just end up a really hardcore poltergeist or something.”
Danny looked his brother straight in the once again life like looking eyes and told him with total conviction.
“You will live again.”
There was no doubt or question in the statement. Asmodan was going to bring his brother back. Renault hoped for life again but a large part of him had resigned himself to the fact that he was dead and that was all there was at this point, a smaller portion of him had even accepted the fact that eventually that giant dragon thing would eventually get him and he would end up who knew where or what. There was something in the way Asmodan said it, Renault couldn’t doubt him.
The rest of that day was spent isolated and in meditation. Danny had gone over the incantation countless times it was as committed to memory as his own name. As many times as he went over the spell he went over her smile her hair the pointless dumb things that they did together that don’t ever matter until someone is gone forever and you would do anything to do that pointless thing again with them. Before he sealed himself in his vault he had set a small cantrip the magical equivalent to an alarm clock when the moon was on the rise it would alert him, and it did. He rose from his sitting position and moved out into his largest workroom. This room was the largest that he had on the fourth floor. There was a table and work bench against the wall furthest from the door. The walls had been painted a dark charcoal almost black it was lit by bronze colored wall lamps when he was designing it he had pictured a kind of alchemists laboratory. He never did learn any alchemy, at least not yet. The table and workbench were both clear of any actual work but the bench held some things that he had been told by Volnam that he would need eventually but didn’t have the space for among them were a large solid crystal ball several crystal beakers, flasks, bottles and a few large silver decorated chalices. Danny stared at the bench for a few minutes then paced around the outside edge of the room. The nervousness was almost overwhelming he wished that Volnam was here to tell him that the whole process he was about to go through was beneath him at his current level of power. If he messed something up what would happen to Monique? Would she be caught and taken back to heaven? Would she be trapped in the abyss or would he just have to cast it all again? Asmodan left the room and changed into the robe he brought back with him from the Abyss it would help him accomplish his goal; it was glyphed for so many things some of which were to aid in the focus of the wearer. He had pants on underneath the robe and a shirt folded on the table on the far side of the room so he could change as soon as he was done. Finally it was time, He began working the ritual.
Niath had spent what felt like forever but was probably only a handful of hours on the material plane preparing herself she knew she needed to deceive the mortal for a short period of time maybe a portion of the night then escape. She had been working on forming her body for the human. She knew what his dead wife looked like and had pretended to be her several times now in his dreams but that was different his mind wanted to see her so when Niath was pretending to be her in the dreamscape his mind assisted in the ruse. This time she would have to be able to pull it off on her own. Once she was in his presence the smaller details would work themselves out as her castes natural talents felt out what he wanted and finished changing her to match. The Demoness found herself more drained than normal as she had been constantly keeping that damned Imp practically drowned on the toxins from her tail. A few naughty favors for an associate had landed her a mostly still white gown which she put on. Slowly her tail was reabsorbed as were her wings. Hard hoof molded and flowed into soft foot, breasts shrank and changed in shape as did the rest of the curves finally she was sure she looked like a slightly better version of a boring mortal. She was excited and a little frightened. If she was caught, the mortal who she was mostly sure was a powerful wizard but secretly worried that he was in fact the Warlock would be a dangerous enemy to have very dangerous. Niath had just finished mentally going over herself again when she felt a tingle in the air as the spell began to pull at her as the tingle grew she watched as the air in front of her began to split in a clean line and slowly separate like a curtain.
Volnam was literally soaking in Succubus venom. The Demon whore was soaking it down through the thin crack between the lid and the sides of the hole he was in. Several times he had tried to call fire and burn his way through the lid but even if he could manage the spell she was ready and he was stoned. He knew he would not win, she would know he was coming through before he was out and she would be ready for him while he was still trying to figure out what direction she was in. for the last several hours for the Imp did measure time in minutes hours and days now though he would never admit it to Asmodan, Volnam had been focusing on one task he had spent so much time on the one task that there was not much else his poison muddled brain could handle. The Imp wizard had been working up this level of focus for that simple fact that it was the one plan the he could come up with that even an idiot could pull it off and at this stage of mental functioning he was sure that he wasn’t much better than an idiot. He tried to stretch his legs but could not, they were cramping the up side was because of the venom soaking into him the cramping also felt kind of good. Some part of his mind picked up on the change in the environment and he knew that Asmodan must be working whatever summoning the felharlot had delivered to him.
The Gateway was open. Asmodan stared through it to the crystal cave where he had beaten the two Casaganoth; the cave made sense it was a place that he had a connection to. He began to panic when there was no one there she should be there. Danny’s adrenaline began to flow with the panic. Had he failed did only the gate portion of the spell work? Had he left Monique on some far flung portion of the abyss to be harassed and worse by denizens of the lower planes? He was about to step through himself and look for her, when from the left side of the portal she stepped into view. She looked timid, frightened a little haggard and beautiful. He was at a loss for words before he could think to stop himself he stepped through the portal into the Abyss and grabbed her in a deep embrace the instant they touched he half expected to have himself burnt like the last time, the burning sensation did not come. All that came to him was the return of the same warm soft embrace. In that instant he felt something hard inside himself begin to break away. There were so many emotions welling up inside of him, there was no hate no rage no anger none of the things that had been his primary driving forces for so long they felt like they were breaking apart before his love for his wife.
She asked into his neck as they stood there with each other.
He half muttered half sobbed back into her hair.
“Can we leave this place?”
She shocked him with the question he had not realized or if he had he had already forgotten that they were still in the Abyss.
“yeah… yeah lets go.”
It almost killed him to let go of her then but as he turned she grabbed onto one of his hands and smiled at him. Together they turned to walk back through the portal into the material plane. As he took the first step he was slammed in the center of his brain with a mental image of Monique’s face and as he watched that image half of it peeled away and beneath it was not a bloody mess which is what he expected to see given the graphic nature of the skin of the face being torn away, instead half of the face was revealed to be the face of the succubus that he had worked with before returning to the material plane. Danny was stunned he froze mid step face locked in confusion. Monique turned to look at him concern on her face.
“What is it?”
“Huh?... ohh its just Volnam, My teacher I haven’t seen him in a while and the last time I saw him he was coming here. I was seeing if I could feel him now that I was on this side of the gateway.”
“No. He’s a big boy he can handle himself. Let’s go.”
Hand in hand Danny and Monique LeNoir walked from the Abyssal plane of Agoth to the material plane on earth.