Volnam was carrying his new favorite bauble down the hallway to Asmodan’s larger workshop the Warlock had been using that room more often lately it had a higher ceiling and with some of the beings that he was dealing with now he needed the space. Since trapping the Succubus in the sphere broken down to her mere essence the Warlock had spent almost all his waking energy on the steps needed to complete the process of resurrecting his brother. On a whim Volnam stopped and placed his finger against the surface of the crystal and created the mental connection she could feel him touching her but she was not capable of creating a response to him. Volnam quickly worked through the process of creating a small charge of lightning and sent it into the sphere. It dissipated almost instantly into the whirling vortex and he felt her mental scream. The small skinless fox face pulled into a large grin as he chuckled to himself and continued on to the room where Asmodan was working away.
Asmodan was pacing back and forth, clearly agitated. He held the handset of a cordless phone to one ear and waved his free right hand back and forth in front of him in frustration.
“What do you mean it’s not possible?”
The Warlock nodded as Algie who was on the other end of the phone call explained that the building which Asmodan had decided he wanted to top ten floors of was called the BB&T for a reason and that they were not going to give up their base of operations for the region.
“What is the name of the person in charge over there?”
Asmodan quick stepped over to the workbench and jotted the name down on a piece of scratch paper and shoved it in his pocket. Today the Warlock was in a pair of dark grey cargo pants and a black long sleeve shirt that Lily had picked up for him that had an angry red face on it that was the parody of the traditional yellow smiley face and under it in bleeding red letters it said “I am your bad day.” The look was finished with no socks and bare feet.
“Get me a meeting.”
More was said on Algie’s side of the conversation.
“I don’t know who, get me a meeting with whoever can make that decision I can handle the rest. Get me meetings with anyone else that can help me get what I need. I think I can persuade them if I get them in person.”
Asmodan nodded at nothing for a few more seconds and then took the phone away from his ear and looked down at Volnam as he hit the button to hang up the phone, which he quickly placed in the cargo pocket on his left leg.
“What are you doing still carrying that thing around?” He asked as he noticed Volnam looking obsessively into the depths of the sphere.
“This.” The Imp mentally replied as he let loose another jolt of electricity into the pulsing colors of the ball.
Asmodan noticed how the colors dimmed when Volnam damaged them. The dimming effect lasted for a few seconds and then returned to their regular light pulsing pattern.
“So I’ve reduced her to nothing more than her essence with this?”
“Yes, her essence. She cannot have her body in this state so she is what she is made up of.”
“She in pain like this?”
“Oh yes. Even now her will and her nature are trying to arrange herself as she is supposed to be and the denial of the completion of the process should be most agonizing.”
“Good… Can I get anything else out of this? Does Demon essence do anything else for me?”
“I know that there have been experiments done on the subject but it is nothing that I have looked into.”
“Well go to that hidden Imp library that you think I don’t know anything about and get me a book on it.”
“Get you a book? Get you a book? There is not a book published on every topic that you can come up with.”
“So some great demon mage did research into a topic and didn’t write it down to show others how great he was and they weren’t? I doubt it; I think the only reason any of you learn magic at all is so that you can have power over other demons that don’t have it. And so that when the situation allows, something to brag about.”
“Not everything is written into a book.”
“Fine. Then get me a scroll.”
A short string of abyssal insults followed first one way and then another and both said out loud. Finally Volnam said that he would look into it and left the room Asmodan holding onto the Niath sphere. He had watched Volnam place his finger tip to the surface of the sphere before letting the lightning go and assumed it must be for some sort of communication so he did the same. He placed his right index finger flat against the clear crystal and mentally called into the tiny sandstorm. He was aware of a presence but it was not coherent enough to communicate with. As a test mostly to see if he understood his teacher as well as he thought he did he summoned magical fire into the midst of the storm and the pain that flowed from the sphere into his mind confirmed it for him. He knew Demons drank up pain and anguish like humans did cigarettes and liquor. With this sphere he had created for Volnam a little limitless distillery. Asmodan was sure that the flavor was perfect for Volnam considering that she had beaten him and locked him in a hole in the floor. Well she thought she had beaten him, in the end Volnam had played the winning hand, he had to wait to pull it off but some demons could wait decades sometimes centuries to get even with each other. Volnam was strolling down a hallway right now and Niath was trapped in a ball the Warlock was going to have to call Volnam the winner on that one. The fact that Asmodan was actually the one to beat her and lock her up was more of a bragging point for the Imp he would claim that he had planned that all along. Asmodan laughed at the Imp and placed the sphere on the table. Took a step back and unleashed a torrent of lightning so intense that if it had not be focused so completely on the essence inside of the sphere it would have destroyed the side of the building it was raging towards. Asmodan let the instant and unrecognized onset of rage burn out into the storm in the crystal and noted when his vision cleared of sunspots that the light was almost completely gone in the sphere. He moved closer to it and saw that there was almost no substance to the sand like essence that slowly spun inside the sphere. The color did shift but there was no glow to it at all. He wondered if he had just finished killing her and shrugged if he did so what? It would be a shame to end it so soon.
Lily stood outside the door to Danny’s work room, and almost screamed when the torrent of lightning ripped through the air the sound of it was so alien without the thunder clap to go with it. It was a hard thing for her to describe but like many things had come to understand or deal with in her life around the Warlock something like that was unnatural and most unnatural things were just hard to explain. The sound came from the other workroom the one he had been using more often. She waited for him to finish whatever it was he was doing and knocked on the door.
Danny called from the other side of the room. Lily came in and walked across the empty space of the room to stand next to him staring down at the orb on the table.
“It is really in there?”
“Yep deceiving whore is really in there.”
“She really hurt you.”
Danny didn’t answer. He just stood there glaring at the sphere. He didn’t mean to but Lily pointing out that he had been hurt felt like she was pointing out a flaw that he had and it really pissed him off at her. Even as his anger began to change directions from the orb to Lily part of Asmodan’s mind began to call out at him that she was being empathic towards him not poking fun at him.
“Yes she did she ripped out my damn heart and showed me every stupid thing that was wrong with it. There anything else you want to point out? What do you want I’m busy?”
Lily took a step back as he shouted at her. She could see the spit flicking off his lips, he was so mad. The outburst shook her up some and she tried desperately to hide it. She held a straight face but she could see that Asmodan had caught something in her eyes. She could see shame in his eyes for only a second before he seemed to bury it in more silent anger. He crossed his arms and nodded his head in a manner that said spit it out stupid.
“I… I came in to.”
Lily felt herself stuttering out her words tripping on them just like she did when she was worried that he boyfriend was going to hit her and she was desperately trying to find the magical combination of words that would avert what was usually an inevitable outcome. Finally as her own anger at her feelings of powerlessness overcame her fear she managed to start over again and just spit it out.
“I came to… what do you want to eat?”
“I’m not hungry; I will call for you when I want something.”
With that he nodded to the door, turned to one of his notebooks and began to write as if she had already gone. She did turn and scurry out of the room faster than anyone with self-respect would move and she hated herself a little more with every hurried step.
Asmodan was only writing for a few seconds after Lily had exited the room before he almost fell to the floor with complete and total body numbing cold. The Warlock caught himself before he actually fell over grabbing the edges of the table and leaning forward to keep himself upright he began to panic wondering what sort of attack it was when he realized exactly what sort of attack it was. The cold was only on him a few seconds and then it was gone. He turned furiously to stare into the cold spectral eyes of his equally pissed off brother.
“Are you nuts? What the hell man?”
“Yeah exactly, what the hell man?”
They both stared at each other a few more seconds and then Asmodan had a short movie in his mind’s eye it was exactly how the exchange with him and Lily had gone from a third person perspective. The Specter knew his brother well enough to not redisplay the portion where the Warlock was mindlessly blasting the demon in the sphere if he had Asmodan might start thinking about the demon and focus on that and not what a prick he had just been to an innocent chick who just wanted to get him lunch. He saw the shame in his brother’s eyes again and this time he didn’t bury it in anger. He slumped back on the table.
“I don’t know… what am I supposed to do go hug her and say I’m sorry like we did in elementary school?”
“Is that such a bad Idea?”
“I’m not hugging her, she will get the wrong Idea she is damaged goods I can’t handle her the same as everyone else.”
Renault gave his brother a confused stare. This time it was Danny’s turn to give the specter a show. He replayed how broken Lily was when he had found her in the apartment with Larry, he showed him the fight and how things ended between Larry and himself.
“You actually did that to someone?”
“You gonna blame me? Did you not see what he did to her; I should have had him break his own neck.”
“Yeah maybe you should have, what you did was… worse. Danny you are doing some evil crap man. Really I mean it, evil.”
“I do evil to evil people.”
Asmodan said that last bit defensively and Renault knew he had him there because his brother didn’t get defensive when he knew he was right he only did that when his viewpoint was threatened, when he thought that there was a possibility that he might be wrong.
“So Lily is evil then?”
“What? No. she might be on the weak side but the strong don’t really end up in her position do they?”
“What beaten by a loved one?”
“Beaten by anyone, if you are the strong one you are the one doing the beating.”
“Well isn’t your life simple?”
“What you don’t get right now is how much of my life is literally kill or be killed. By killed I mean tortured and torn to shreds over several lifetimes by really creative beings, until they finally get bored.”
“Well then if you feel that this makes up for being a dick to hot girls for no reason then just be prepared for me to cool you off when you start getting out of line. Next time I won’t wait for her to leave the room.”
“It probably wouldn’t hurt to have someone there to chill me out when I start getting a little hot headed.”
Asmodan sighed and looked at the ceiling for a minute.
“Man sometimes I am mad before I realize I’m mad.”
The Warlock looked at the sphere on the bench beside him then back at his brother.
“I don’t know if you saw the little display before, but I didn’t even realize what I was doing with that until I was almost done.”
“I watched it. I’m learning things while I am like this I can watch a lot when I want to.”
“I want to help her; I’ve planned on helping her all along you know? I just haven’t figured out the best way to do it yet. Go ahead and look out for her if you want. When I get out of line tell me. I don’t want to accidently take it too far with her I could really hurt her.”
“OK that’s how we will do it for now then. But you still have to apologize to her.”
There was a part in Asmodan that almost flipped out when it was suggested that he have to seriously apologize to anyone for anything and it was working its way forward in his mind when it was suddenly attacked and beat the crap out of by the part that had tried to stop him from snapping at her in the first place. He looked at his brother again and nodded. Renault seemed to dissipate into a mist and vanish at that point.
“Not show off, powerful poltergeist remember.”
After about ten minutes to make sure he had total control over himself Danny made his way to Lily he had found a way to find her mentally without actually touching her mind since he had promised to never do that without her permission. He looked for places where there was something in the nothing but didn’t bother to touch on or see what that something was. Since he didn’t usually have someone in the house other than Volnam Lily and his brother he had a one in three chance of the something that he went to being Lily. He usually guessed right with this method and this time he was right again and she was in her bed room. He knocked lightly on the door and she didn’t answer he knocked again and she didn’t answer. Finally Renault came out of the room and stopped in the hallway to look at his brother.
“She is asleep.”
Asmodan nodded and quietly opened the door. She lay on her side on top of her blankets her eyes were red a puffy she had curled herself into a semi fetal position. That was how she was when he found her in the apartment he remembered. It was how she curled up to defend herself from the beating that Larry had given her. Danny felt like a dick and he hated it; he wanted to turn and leave but stopped himself. He stood there looking down at her she began to stir he knew she would jump his case or feel violated or in some other way not react well to him being in her room when she was asleep, for being in her room at all without her permission. He needed to find a way to fix things for her. The Warlock knew that he wasn’t going to become mister relaxed and super friendly guy overnight. She needed to toughen up, become resilient; she needed to be able to blow him off when he was out of line. It was at this point that Asmodan convinced himself that the problem wasn’t really with him it was with her. Lily was damaged after all she was the abused one of the reasons Asmodan kept her on was one of the lessons Volnam had taught him. The Abused had value because they could be saved and they would serve loyally. If he could help her that would be all the better, he knew he had promised her he wouldn’t but before he left the room he did touch her mind and he flooded it with warmth and happiness he basically called up a memory of a diner he had had with Monique when they were dating and sent each of the emotions that came with it into her mind. He didn’t form them into anything specific he just let them be fuel for her mind to form into whatever it chose. Danny left the room his brother was still in the hallway.
“I didn’t want to wake her. I will make it better though.”
Later that week Volnam did give Asmodan a collection of notes that he had collected, purchased probably stolen. They were all about experiments that had been conducted using demonic essence. Many of them were redundant it was only when he had gotten to some things that had originally written by a demon named Mandantanoth which didn’t list its cast which is odd most demons who actually write things down would list their cast and every bragging right they can remember. This one only listed that it was called Mandantanoth. The demon seemed to practice mixing essences of just about everything it could get its claws on. Imp with Morganoth, Morganoth with Succubus, Succubus with some sort of dog like creature from one of the material planes. That part of the notes caught the Warlocks attention as soon as he read it. So demonic essence could be used to alter living beings from the material plane that was an interesting idea.
Over the course of the next week Asmodan read up on the essence notes and came up with some of his own theories he figured that it was better than pacing back and forth waiting for Algie to call him with a time and date for a meeting so that he could get his hands on the building he needed. Asmodan also had a tense apology with Lily he was tense she was surprised. She thanked him and told him she understood at least a little, having just gone through what he had with the demon and his wife not wife. They left it at that and Asmodan noticed that she kept more than her normal distance from him while he worked. Sometimes rather than go see him in a workroom she would use the intercom feature of their phones and ask him about things like meals that way. Finally Algie did call and tell the already impatient Warlock that a meeting had been set for a month out and that ended up being the straw that broke the camel’s back. As soon as he was off the phone Asmodan headed for the elevator and then to his car. All he took with him was a notebook.
It was a short drive from his place to the Two Hanover Square building near Raleigh’s downtown area. The place had restaurants inside as well as a handful of businesses filled its twenty nine floors. He walked around the building looking at the ground and the surrounding stone in the area until he found what he was looking for a bit of mold it was a dark black in the center with a thin brown ring around its edges. He scratched some off of the shaded portion of the building near some greenery. It was early summer and North Carolina was always humid which meant mold and fungus flourished in the state. Leave moisture anywhere for any length of time and you would get mold or some form of mildew. He took his small sample and headed back towards his car. He took a minute to stare up at the building again it was massive. He knew there was bigger in the world be he didn’t need to travel to get to this one it was already in his back yard.
It took three days of toying with the makeup of things magic was used along with some of the glass beakers and jars that he had kept. He was happy that he was getting to play out some of his mad scientist fantasies and that the room he set aside for exploring into alchemy was finally getting used for more than torturing a Succubus. Volnam often tried to pry into what he was doing but Asmodan stonewalled him when he did. He told the Imp that he wanted to surprise his teacher. Even though in this area aside from notes that Volnam had gathered for him he was largely self-taught. When he was done the new mold was purple in the center where it used to be black but the purple was so dark in color that it could pass for black if you didn’t look straight at it for too long. The thin brown ring was flecked with almost too small to see pink flecks. After a day in a sealed glass jar the mold had covered every surface of the container. The Warlock was going to get his building. The following day he drove back out to the building with Volnam and parked in a public parking deck about a block down the street. He parked on the top floor and climbed out of the car to go stand at the edge of the structure. The Warlock pulled the jar from his cargo pants pocket he sat it on the edge of the building and mentally told his invisible companion what he wanted him to do.
“Go to the top of the building, actually look for any external vent, I assume there are some on top. Open the jar and get some of the mold into the vent that’s all that needs done.”
“That is you plan magic mold. There are whole swaths of the abyss that are yours already if that is what it takes to claim property.”
“No, but we have health codes and something called a center for disease control and they can close down anything in a day if they have a reason. Just go do it and come back we will watch the news tonight and see what happens if anything.”
“Fine. I hope that this is as good as you think it will be.”
The little haze lines in the air that Asmodan knew to be the Imp grabbed he Jar and after another second the jar vanished and then the haze lines left the wall and after a few more seconds vanished into the humid North Carolina sky.
“I’m heading home, see you there.”