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Ethereal
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Registration date : 2010-07-04

PostSubject: The Last Page   Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:25 pm

Rat tat tat tat……rat tat tat tat…..rat tatatatat….
Rain. I like the rain.

Thundering down, warmth not on the body but on the hands. In the eyes. Sort of. Strange sensation. White dress, the sand still in her hair. A smile on his face. it falters twitches as that warmth and cold run down his face. Feral noises echoing in the distance. But then. Its not so far away. It isn't long before he realisesthat its him thats making these noises. And in his mind wonders why. Of course. Who wouldn't be. She wasn't done. Neither was he. They were both too young for this. Couldn't understand. Couldn't let go. Didn't want to let go. Strained fingers caress the pale cheeck. Wamrth fading now. Even in his hands.Drying. Crackling as the sun rises. And heat fills the day. But creeping. The coldness of that rain fills his heart.

" I have to admit that sometimes looking back on these things I wish that somehow I'd been able to tell him the truth sooner. But as things progressed I realised that inevitably it wasn't my place. He would find it for himself just what the truth was. And its about time that I came clean for myself. For you see. I've always known what he hasn#'t. And thats precisely why I've stuck by him all these years. From the alleys in arden. To the warm nice places back on . I was foolish I'll admit that. I thought in some way that even in his madness I could satisfy whatever loneliness. Whatever hunger that he needed. That he had lost. But I was wrong. His story starts, as he's always said. A long tiome ago. Its beens o long that..even I don't remember just how far back it goes. There was a time when the demon known as Pennywise was once a human. A human with a name like everyone else. Not one taken from a book intended to scare.

But its probably best that I leave that name buried. Even if it is one of the things he's searching for. They say its not wise to speak ill of the dead. And truely the boy,and man that he was. Is dead. The story starts with two children. The boy that was to become the demon. And his older sister. There had been a plague passing through the village. Their parents like all people had began to make their ways towards larger population areas. Heading towards a city to see if they could use what money they had to get medical treatment. Unfortunatly in times like these everyone has the same idea. Doctors were quickly overcrowded. Healers were much the sam,e. And local con men selling miricle cures and elixers were making an absolute killing. The plague didn't last long, but much like a wild flash fire it started, didn't last long. But the intensity of it was enough to leave its mark on history. And its mark on those two children. The boy was barely above twelve. The girl. Slightly older. Fifteen perhaps. It was around then that, I took pity on the two. Their parents lost to the plague. And with no money. It was inevitable that in a large city like this they would fall into despair.

There was little I could do to ease their suffering. But act as a pet, so...I took on the form of a small black cat. And became their pet. My bond with the boy was almost instant, he had a curiousity. A mind. A drive. If he had been in better circimstances. With options. He would have became extremely successful. I knew that at the time. But then. There were many who showed the same qualities. Who were not in the right social class. The boy was too young to work, at least for now. So the young girl seemed to take responsibility for her brother. And it was unfortunate to watch. They kept up with their parents rent payments on what coukld only be descried as a shack on the inside of the city slums. The girl seemed happy each time she brought home enough money. Whent he rent was paid off they always had a small number for food. Not a great ammount, but more than others had. And enough not to starve them. But it wasn't all that it appeared to be. Each day that girlw ould come in with her days money smiling. But there was something behind that. I knew that smile was just a mask. A girl her age in a city like this.

No education, no skills. It didn't take a genius to find out what kind of work she had gotten herself into. And just what kind of people were funding the life of her and her brother. It was a dark pit that my little family were falling into. And there was little I could do but watch it all play out. Each day the girl returned, but as the weeks and months dragged into years and seasons. The smile may have remained but her face grew weary. Soon the marks of her trade began to surface. Unexplained trips and falls. Bruises that she couldn't make up enough excuses for. Or find enough make up to cover. The one thing she had going dfor her was age, as disgusting as it sounded in her trade the younger ones were always the most popular. The most used. And therefore she had more money to come in. But as I sat there in the boys lap watching her get ready for another night of " work". I knew that soon enough thoat wouldn't be the case. She would be used up, tossed aside. And then income would begin to grow short. And the boy was no fool. I think he began to suspectwhat was truely going on long before I gave him credit

oF Of course then that wasn't neccisarily a good thing. Although I was...proud if you will. That the boy had taken to noticing more than I thought a boy his age would.. It inevitably meant that male pride and honour would force him to go out and follow her. And that would lead to a confrontation. And, I was right, I knew I would be. He spoke to me, told me that he would follow her. Protect her. The foolish dreams of a foolhardy young lad whothought he could do more than was possible against the cruelty of the world. Her job that night was at the beach, down by the waterfront. A group of sailors had recently came in and were having themselves a good party. The wine, the booze. Al that remained was the entertainment. And she, along with several other girls. Wasd . As was typical of me, I followed the lad not that I was willing to do much in the means of protecting him. After all. There were dangers in this city for those of my kind.Perhaps that was my sin. Fear. I could have done something to prevent what was to happen that night. And...perhaps thats why I stayed with him. Guilt. Guilt. The party went on and he watched from the shadows. From the outside. Hours passed and the boy just sayed there. His face...almost then like it is now. Blank. Unfeeling. Maybe thts why I ouldn't go back there to that city with him. Because I didn't want to see that face again.

Inevitably the time came when the girl trawled out with one of the sailors. A burly man who seemed to have all the intentions of dragging her towards a small shack in the beach side area. That was until he got involved. Stepping forward. Anger and shame in his eyes. But the shame there didn't nearly as much match the shame in the eyes of the girl. . The sailor on the other hand seemed all laughs, but there was tension in the air.The boys temper got the best of him. And the mans drink got the best of him. I thought it would come to blows.But that was before I saw the flash of steeel in the moonlight. Everyone knew sailors were impaitnet. But it seemed that this bunch wern't your ordinary sailor types. They were smugglers. And the moment our boy attacked. The smuggler was intending to put him down. But things never happen the way that we expect them. All happened to fast that. Even with it scarred into my memory. The details seem to evade me. But the short and blunt version of it.

The girl found herself between her brother. And the thug. The knife found her instead. I'm not sure why the sailor left instead of just killing the boy. Perhaps it was pity. Soemthing about a boy screaming over the body of his sister, bleeding out. Dying finally got to the man. Or maybe it was those sounds. Other kami would say that Penny became a demon after death. But I say...those screams wern't human. They certainly didn't sound it. The agony. THe pain. The sorrow. It was almost more than I could bare. If there was any kindness in the world I would say that the girl died quickly. That. She ddi not suffer. But this isn't true. The world is cruel. And so was her passing. The rain started to fall and he waited there with her. His screams dying down. Until all that was left was silence. And tears. Blood stained the sand crimson. It was that night that both siblings died. And a demon was born. He buried her there, to reduce risk of plague they burned bodies. But he didn't want to watch her burn. He kept here there. Buried under the sand. Building a small grave marker.

He was fourteen when she died, too young to be alone in the world. So I stayed, even though it hurt me to look at the boy. It hurt knowing that if I had risked myself, taken just that small chance then I could have probably stopped it. Their life wouldn't be great but they would still have one another. Now there was nothing here. Nothin but pin. The boy had to handle affairs on his own now. The kingdom was expanding, and he had managed to gain a job in mannual labour building trade roads. It was hard work, and through pick shovel and toil. He made his living. Barely enough to keep him alive. But the labour made him strong. The long hours hardened his body. But it could never match the hardness that grew to be his heart. eEach day after the long toiling work in the baking heat, He returned to that place. To the beach and spoke to his sister. He kept me fed. Kept himself fed. And kept her grave well attended. I felt sadness for him, but I never suspected just how hard life had hit him. Never knew just how far he would go. With what small ammount of money he'd managed to save from his work, he managed to buy his way into one of the temples to be schooled. In that I was proud. His hard life had up till now looked grim.

But I suspected that with his mind, and the idea that he had to work his way up from nothing with his own sweat and blood.He would appreciate what he had more thanthe others who had got it from birth. But it didn't quite turn out how I expected it to. His education went well, he studied both politics, and the healing arts. One had to look on the latter as an extension of his grief. He learned quickly, and it wasn't long before he was taken on Ffor work within the court itself. Nothing big but it got him out of the mannual labour. And more importantly into better housing. I don't think he ever got rid of the shack though, or rented it on. Much like the days at the beach it acted as a sort of shrine. A reminder that he visited and kept up every now and again. His visits to myself got shorter and overall I had to find my own things to do during the day when I couldn't be with him. There came a point were the boy I had watched grow no longer wasa boy. Hewas a man. The years of mannual labour had given him a fine physique. Strong. Athletic. And he had always had the face of a natural charmer. All this time watching over him. And now I feared that I had beegun to fall in love with him. Fall in love with the tragedy. Despite the yeards that we ha spent together, I don't think he ever once questioned why I hadn't aged any. Or perhaps he had, buthad never voiced it in those quiet conversations we had. Those times he spoke of his day. Of his thoughts of his feelings. Whilst curled up together near the fire. He wasn't what you could call happy. But I think...I was. There were many times I thought about revealing myself to him. Several times I thought about revealing myself to him. About taking my human form in front of him. Diving into it all and explaining that I had been watching over him all this time.

But if I did. He'd know I was there when hissister died. He'd know I was there and could have done something. He'd know how much of a coward I was. And he'sd throw me out. Love. And shame. Kept my silence. I could never tell him who I was. But that didn't mean I could never meet him. In late autumn that year I finally got the confidence to leave the home, and take on a human appearance. He was in the library that day continuing his studies, so I managed to get my way in claiming to be the serving girl of a local magistrate. I was...embarassed. Half way through the library on my way to the section he sat at...I thought to myself that I should head back. I should...give up the girlish and frankly immature notio. I wasn't a human. I was above such behavior. And yet. My feet kept walking. Right up till where I saw his face. Meeting him as a human was...strange. I played the klutz, which was frankly more embarassing than the way I felt. Bumping into him, dropping books and apologising.

He smiled for me, letting out a mild laugh and assuring me that everything was fine. I apologised perhaps too much, but then it all fed into the role. The role I fear to say I fit all too well into. In fact, honesty said...I don't think that I was acting after the first fiteen minutes. I think he wanted to leave but, I managed to strike up conversaation with him. It was easy enough. I had been his cat for several years and knew all the things he was interested in. I knew what would be likely to grab his interest and start him talking. And oh it certainly did. He was...charming. We spoke the day away, and before I knew it the sun was setting. He looked out onto that sunset with an almost sad glance, I knew that he'd be going to the beach soon. And I knew he was going to try and cut the conversation heree. I didn't want it to end. But I knew it had to. So before he managed to say anything, I brought up that I should have been back to my master hours ago. Blushing like a fool I rushed off. I changed back and, after he returned from the beach. He sat with me. Spoke of his day, and a lovely young girl he met at the library. I feel rather embarassed admitting it, but I think I started purring after he mentioned that. Lovely young girl.

Oh if only he knew. We met on several occasions after that this year. He always told me on nights where he was to go the next day, and every 4 days or so I arranged for this, lovely young girl to be at those locations every now and again. There was one day when he asked my name, and rather foolisly I seemed to have been put on the spot. I had never really considered it before. So before I knew it I had blurted out the words Bethany. He nodded, bowed. Smiled. Took my hand and told me his. My face felt like it was on fire. After that. I was purring for weeks. But things never lasted. One day during a walk through the orchards. He mentioned that he had to go away somewhere to continue his studies with masters and books that he did not have access to at this city. That he would be gone for a couple of months but planned on returning when he was done. I got worried. He had neer mentioned to me anything like this whilst I was in my cat form. However instead of thinking that perhaps he didn't feel the need to speak about this to a at. I automatically assumed that he was lying and didn't like me. Acting like a foolish girl I merely nodded. And walked off. He mentioend to me thanight he thought he had upset that lovely girl by leaving for a few months. But that it couldn't be helped and that his studies came first.

At that point, I realised that it was his studfies. He did like my human self. And my h my did I feel like the fool. I got up early that morning and wrote a letter. Placing it at the front door so he'd see it went he got out. An apology note from my human self. Telling him I was sorry for the foolish action, that I was very busy today so I couldn't see him off ( clearly I couldn't if I was going to be travelling among his things) but that I would keep in corrispondance with him through letters if he would do the same. He seemed to smile that day. So I think he was happy with how it turned out. And so was I. We left that day on a wagon and I was packed tightly among his things, an irritating point particularly when the trip itself took several days. I was let oute every now and again for fresh air and food. Both of which I didn't really need, however I went along with it.

I suppose thought that I'm avodiing the main point. What I want to make clear is that this boy, this man. That I fell in love with was not a badperson.No matter what he did, I wanted to make that perfectly clear that, I never thought he was a bad person. I never hated him. And I never blamed him. When we got to the city I began to see less and less of him. He rarely came back to the home we had there but to pick up more supplies for his studies and research. I imagined that it was something to do with his healing, after all why would he need so much just for a political carreer. Perhpa she was going to be a professional healer in memory of his sister. Well the true answer was something along those lines. Something like that. I left letters at the door, from the girl I had been pretending to be. When he came and saw those he smiled. I was glad.News among the city began to change, there was a bad infestation of rodants. Sickness had begun to spread in the lower eastern quarter and bad weather had ruined the crops. Things wern't going too well for this place. On top of that murders were up, along with petty crime.

All the man could do was take his place in the eastern quarter with other would be healers. But there was something in his eyes that I oticed. He didn't have sympathy for these people. Rather it looked like he was having fun. And it was that above all I found rather unsettling. Determined to at least lighten the mood of things I decided to visit him in I took my human form and visited him. He was surprised, I merely claimed that I had family here who were effected by the plague. Quickly I regretted that as he offered to go and see them. But I managed to come up with an excuse,saying that I was here to help them move out of the city and tio their cottage in the north western forest. He seemed to accept that (thankfully) and we went to dinner that night. It was odd but during there was something different about him. Couldn't put my finger on just what it was. But it was definatly there.

Things moved too quickly after that, almost as if seeing me spurred some kind of reaction in him that caused him to speed up his plans. And when I say plans. This is where the true unfortunate nature of my story begins. Some of the murders in this city were what you would call " normal". Muuggings gone wrong, drunken brawls. But there were a specialised frew that were gruesome enough to be labled as the " ripper" murders. These murders didn't interest me much until there started being odd decriptions of the man who was commiting them. A smart drerssed attractive young man arriving in a carriage to wisl away whores and other ladies of non repute. Only to have them end up as little more than piles of flesh and bloody spatters on the wall. He had gotten much quieter. And those eyes, that face. To make things worse, it seemed that I wasn't the only one interested in thee murders. forn spirits and other mosnters there have always been hunters. It was the main reason why I didn't like getting involved in anything.Just in case I gave myself away, and these people who, arn't quite willing to believe there is such a thing as a kind natured spirit. Tracked me down and killed me. In all my years on the earth I had built up quite the network of contacts. And the word was that these people were now investigating the murders as well. They believed that it was something ritualistic. And if he was involved...that meant that they'd be hunting him. I needed to find out if it was him. I needed to be sure. Part of me wished I hadn't followed him that night. But I did. I saw him get changed into those clothes. Saw him climb into the carriage. Saw him pick up the whore. He took her to dinner. He treated her like he had treated me in my human form. But there was a difference. When he had looked at me there was kindness in his eyes. With them there was only hunger. Only death. I saw the horrible deeds that he commited with my own cats eyes. And I knew it to be true. But my heart wouldn't accept it. It wasn't my boy. My man. My heart.

I dug deeper. Contacts he'd been making in the city. Books he'd been buying. Profane. Black. It seemed at some point in the past he had given up on trying to find his answers in the arts of light and had turned to darkeness in order to fulfill his goals. His goal which was ultimately...ressurecting his long lost sister. .For the first time since I had lived with them. I broke that sacred trust I had always had.N I dove into his mind. Into his thoughts. And found the answers I sought. All of it was laid bare in front of me. His decention from dlight to darkness. And his reasoning. His life had been haunted by the loss of his sister, I knew that. But I had no idea that he felt so deeply about it. That he'd fallen into a pit of guilt. Dreams. Nightmares of her. A ghostly appirition had been stalking him every night. He blamed himself. If he had never followed. If his pride hadn't gotten in the way. She would still be alive.Knowing that I had my own part to play in this downfall. I knew I had to do something. Had to stop him. Particularly with what he planned to do. And what he was doing. To gain access to the magic he required, ghe had to first craft a book. Each page writtren in the blood of a woman touched by sin. Rituals performed on the pages at the scene of each murder to bind the souls of desperation to the magics of the book. The book itself was not actually the source of spell, but rather the means for summoning the source. A ritual in on itself. Once the book was completed.

A final ritual would take place on unhallowed groound, ground stained by a sort of uncomprehensable sin. I had no idea what he had planned to do to provide that...or if there was already one in existance. Once this had taken place The book would rewrite itself. Its pages transforming into those that would contain the spells and rituals he needed. A dark book indeed. And powerful if it required such a macarbe ritual to create it. Suddenly the darkening of the city was making sense. Disease. Crime. Famine. The ground of this city had been tainted. But was this done by him? Or was it simply somehthing he was taking advantage of. Two questions that I never got to answer.

Inevitably my sense of right and wrong drove me to betray him. I searched the city for one of the hunters that Ithought I might be able to trust not to kill me. It was more of a risk I had ever taken in a long time. But I did find one. Or so I'd thought. He was a man known as Jaden who had a reputation for hunting demons with the help of Kami and other good natured spirits. So I was hoping he would accept my aid in this. And, although when I made first contact he was slightly suspicious. When I offered him information. And he saw how upset I was. He was keen to hear. He had gathered a group of hunters within a couple of days. Till then it was my job to ensure he didn't go anywhere. I don't know just what happened. Or perhaps I do. I awoke to find Jaden standing over me. He was shouting, but there was a ringing in my ears that wouldn't stop and I couldn't hear him.Sound began to return and he explained that my man was not here. He was gone. And I had been knocked out. My food...it had been poisoned with a knock out drug. Too Many thoughts in my mind at that point. He knew what I was, how long had he known. And did he know just who I was in human form? If he did. Embarassment. Shame. I had betrayed him and he knew it. Worse. He’d known all this time about what I was and who I was. It was horrible. And worst of all. Now he was on his way to begin the final ritual.

We had been too late to stop him in the end. He had been. Too well prepared. I had been living with him all that time and I had no idea how deeply hye’d delved into darkness. And just how powerful he had become. The hunters didn’t stand a chance against his magic. Against his rage. His hatred. And then it came down to me to stop him. It came down to me to put an end to the madness. We stood apart us both. I in my human form. He looked at me and in his eyes he confirmed to me that he knew it was I. I asked him how long he knew. And his answer startled me. He’d known since he first started in the school. When I never grew. Never aged. Never died. I thought he would be angry at me. But he explained that he knew what had happened. That he knew I was too afraid. And he understood fear. And the limitations it placed on people and spirits alike. He had been afraid. And placed everything on her. And it got her killed. Now he was strong enough to hold back fear from everyone. Her. Himself. Me. It was both sad and touching that he still saw me as he had before. .That he wasn’t angry with me. But the ritual had gojne ahead. And the book lay there in the centre of a ritual marker. I could sense the evil coming from it as I stood there. It needed to be destroyed. I couldn’t let him have it. Even if he had good intentions.

The evil had twisted him. It had made him do things, horrible things. And although I loved him. I would habveto stop him. I trembled lightly. His power was great even if he was human. Such changes I had failed to notice. Or perhaps...I had just refused to notice. Refused to believe that he had fallen so far. He still offered me a path to take, to go with him. To blind side the evil he had done, and the evil he was no doubt still to do with that book by his side. Whatever profane ritual he would perform to reopen the gates of death and reclaim the life of those lost. In the end, the answer was simple. Fear had elft me, and it wasn’t because I had become strong. But simply that I’d finally overcome my fears in the name of something greater. He grabbed the book thinking that was my target. But in the end. It wasn’t. I dived at him. Took him in my arms and-What happened next was one of those things that you wish in your life never happens. The ritual circle we were standing in began to awaken. The book of darkness that he had summoned to himself began to react to it. Almost as if the book was alive, knowing somehow that it was in danger. Reacting to protect itself. With that there was little I could do. Darkness began to spread throughout the circle engulfing everything but the red markings that had been carved out. Which now seemed to glow in an almost threatening way.I stepped back from it, hesitant as I was unsure of it. Unsure of myself. Flinching back from the embrace that I had planned. To take him, to use what little power I had to overwealm that darkness that had consumed his heart. But I never connexcted. Just another link in the chain of regrets


He was gone long before any of us awakened from whatever spell the book had unleashed. Jaden was still alive thankfully. The same could not be sasid for the other hunters. My own injuries were few and did not take long to heal. Jaden on the other hand. He had several broken bones, and was in no position to begin hunting him again. Evwen if the will was there. I knew where he planned to go next. Back home. Back to our city. Back to the place we had peace together. And to bring forth darkness and despair. To taint the place where I saw happiness. Still. Phaps it was suitable. He would taint that place of mine. But perhaps for him it would only be passing that place to the reflection of it in his heart. Dark cold and desperate. On my own there was little to nothing that I could do on my own. So. I had to wait.

------------


It had been moments before the ceremonywelcomingthe new recruits. . And I'd fallen asleep. How typical of thios world. But then, upon opening my eyes and seeing the falling pages around in front of me. Realising that I was inthe library made me question the timing and indeed the nature of thois littl snooze of mine. Eachtime I'd fallen asleep andawakened in this place I had returned to the world of the waking ( or dreamers) with more power and a greater understanding of both myself and he power that was availible to me. The mask of madness. The power of my soul. The power behind my arch demonic form. And just what I would have to do with Gera'Sey. Jut what I would have to do with Shiori. However I hadn't reached the bottom yet. Yet. Wasn't far off though . Raised myself up, though it took some effort to do so. Strange that everytime I woke up in this place there was some strange feeling of tiredness, of fatigue that made me want to sit down or lie down. Or in some occassions not get up at all. Lying next to me much like that last time was that book boundin black leather with the picture of the man on the front waiting at the end of an old ruined house. As if he was looking inside. Staring. Waiting for someone or something.

I opened the page. almost eager this time to see if there hadbeen any changes to the book. And indeed there had been. There was another illustration. Not like the last ones. This one took up a full page. It was a rough sketch of a girl in a light coloured kimono. I looked at her, and there was something there in the back of my mind, something that flt like a strange itch. Like there was some sort of block on my brain that dared me to scratch scratch scratth. WEhats behind the wall, whats behind the door. The drms the drums, the rat tat tat tat. Part of me feared that. The drums I had lived in before werer free dom. Part of me missed them but another part liked this control that my life of servitude held. Regardless there was somethingabout that picture that I couldn't yet place a finger on. Couldn't yet place a name on. A name? Why would I want a name? Know a name? Confusion. Just what did all this mean? Turned the page. Another image. The same man, ketched this time in blurred detail.

He was waiting, except it was by a beach. Next to him a small pile of rocks, almost like a memorial. I looked at those rocks. And there was that itch again. It wasn't as if they were amazingly detailed but it was as if thre was something in there that made me want to look closer. Look at each tiny littel scrawled line and make it my own. My own to keep my own to remember. Remember? Head began to hurt, it was confusing. Sore. More of the itch. Looked at the rocks though, couldn't look way. Fear. Felt the dark. The gray. The man with mirrors was there.. Stood up slowly and made my way over to the balcony book in hand . I had to look through the rest of the book, flicking through the pages till I came to the near end and there was another illustation....
Word Count: 6025
Total Word Count: 6025
PWC: 6025
Learned:
Mad World
Trained: Madworld (> Honed)
Learned Bashing(Novice)
Trained: Gnashing ( Trained)
Trained Heightened Senses ( Honed)


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PostSubject: Re: The Last Page   Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:25 pm

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PostSubject: Re: The Last Page   Sat Apr 02, 2011 5:49 am


Prologue
The Library
"Sometimes the strength of a bond is never really known till its tested. For me the test of my relationship with my best friend wasn't really something I knew about. Two men, prideful. Egotistical, its not really until something drastic happens that shatters that illusion we put up for one another when we find out what the other truly thinks. It was. Difficult"
-scrawled on a clouded window


" To know ones limits is to impose those limits on yourself. Potential is limitless. But only so long as you believe it is".
-Written upon a falling page



You know sometimes I doubted the idea of this place. I'd always thought that this library. This dream of mine was precisely that. A place inside my head. ust then I saw things that seemed to defy that logic here. Messages written upon walls. Notes left on desks that are scattered in the many various and seeminlylimitless rooms this place has to offer. Didn't like that thought though. To think that this place, although not real in the greater sense of the word. Wasn't something of my own design. It indicated that it wasn';t just the madness of my own creation. Rather. That it was something with the will of a third party. That my being here wasn't simply my own doing. But regardless of that, I had to concentrate on getting out of here. Things wee getting strange. On the upper floors and beginning of my journey within this mad place. Things were different, they had a dream like quality to them in their trials and tests, much like dreams. Things that didn’t really exist. A pain that although acute never actually damaged. The place held to it something of the world of dreams. In that. I didn't believe it was real. Couldn't believe it was real....but now. Now I had been here for what had felt like days, and no matter where I went or wandered I couldn't find the gate, or stairway that would lead me further down. Usually by now, regardless of my progress I would have awakened.

But I wasn't waking up. It felt like this place was becoming more real. Like each passing second I was slipping further out of reality and deeper into this place. I had to find what I was looking for. Or, what was looking for me. Before I was trapped here forever. That was my one true fear about this place. That I'd wake up. And never be able to return. Over the days I'd spent here the books I'd read were interesting, but somewhat irrelevant. Like a real library it seemed that this place had plenty of stories. Some were merely fantasy. Works of fiction ( or were they?) others were base fact books, mathematics business advice, cook books. But they were all written in a rather strange manner. Like in the first person. Usually these kinds of things were written in the third person. But every single book I'd read in this place seemed to be from a persons talking perspective. An experience by experience journals. Like I wasn't reading recorded work. But memories.

And perhaps it was the realisation of that, that was beginning to eat at me. That this place might not actually be mine. But a collection of experiences from individuals who had been here as well. Was, somewhere along these vast corridors, books that contained my own memories? Tapped fingers on the table. To a beat that I'd not heard in my own heard for the longest of times. The drums, the rat tat tat tat. The symbol of my own madness. Of my freedom. Of my past. And just as my finger struck the table for the final note, I heard that same noise. Loud and banging. Echoing throughout the halls. An odd silence followed it. My face stunned into blankness. Seconds passed and I looked around myself. Trying to figure out just what happened before they were drawn back down to my own hand. I slowly lowered my finger to the table. And tapped again. Bang. The same noise. Almost like an amplifier. Sounding as if someone was banging on a huge door at the same time that I tapped the table. I had to confirm it. Going through the beat once again. Echoing once again throughout these grand halls. A door, banging. Drums.

Why did that sound familiar. Slowly I stood up, trying to question the purpose and meaning of everything that was going on. Behind this feeling that I'd heard something like that before. Not the actual sound but rather a similar description. And that’s when it hit me. A memory much like that cold splash of water that had accompanied it. My first trip to the realm of the past. a night spent with a certain woman in a shack. Uncomfortable time on a shared futon. Not that we ever did anything. Not that I think she was ready either. Not with me anyways. In that place we'd went to find a solution to the drums. She'd stopped them within her own mind here. Silenced them. For they too had plagued her ever since she had met me. I wanted. Needed to know how she stopped them. For through whatever bond we seemed to share the silence she bore on her own life had spread through into mine. For her though the drums in her head were different. There was a dream. A dream of drums behind a door. A door she was afraid to open. Did...I have to find this door? No further noise. Couldn't really listen in and determine where it was coming from. Moved my hand to the side, tapped the wall. Once again with the tapping came that loud bandaging. I got a direction. And began to follow.



" And the wolf knocked upon the door three times. Bang. And with a gravely voice he spoke the words. " Little pig little pigs let me in. Or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!” and the little pigs shouted back. “No No...we shall not let you in. Our house is too strong for you to blow in!"
- The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf




The sound of the knocking got quieter, not louder as I got closer to it. The louder part had came until the door itself came into sight. Until the corridor it was in, came into sight it was a dingy corridor, illuminated by a single light bulb that itself seemed to be on the brink. It was strange. Dirty in comparison to the rest of the library, that, whilst in chaos of the constant rain fall of book pages. Was relatively clean. This place had the feeling of an alleyway(home). The light above me blinking on and off like something out of a horror movie. In those briefs seconds changing from light to dark it felt as if I was walking into another world. The light, revealed the corridor for what tiwas. Dark. ugly. The dark...the dark seemed to suit it. Hiding its true nature. Even if that nature wasn't hard to feel. The corridor had fallen into such disrepair that...one could feel the dirt and dankness in the air. What was worse though was when I moved further into it. My fingers tapped across the wall to the beat of the drums. Tap tap. Bang .Bang. Bang. Each step bringing me closer to that door. Closer precisely what lay behind it. I had ton wonder to myself. Had shiori been here. Was this the door that she saw..If so just what was the meaning of this place. Of the drums. Of the door of the connection between us? This was the nature of the e world I lived in now.

Confusion. Uncertainty. Fear. There was a small splash as my shoes touched water on the ground, a puddle. A leaky pipe somewhere, but I couldn't see where. Likely it was behind the walls somewhere. Behind the tiles. I didn't much care that my feet might get wet. Didn't much care for anything for, it seemed that when my eyes hit the door at this distance. I was entranced by it. It looked so normal. Other than the view window. Behind the view window, the glass of which was clouded. Was utter darkness. I'm not sure just what came over me, but there was the feeling that this wasn't normal. To me the darkness was nothing more than the sense of light, I sat in it regularly with Shiori and Mittens watching the evening news. Or even without the television. Darkness held no fear for me. But this. It was different. Much like in a way, the old stories carried legends of darkness and light, not representations of the physical world. Illumination and its opposite. But of a darkness that was pure and inherently evil. Composed of slick fine malice. Of light that was great and good. Joy. Happiness. Fluff bunnies. Things like that. I touched the glass. It was cold. I looked in, and couldn't help but have the feeling that...behind that darkness. Behind that door.

There was something staring at me through the pane of glass.

And truthfully. That thought terrified me.

Perhaps its that primal reaction we all get. Standing on the edge of a cliff face theres that feeling, something in the front of our minds bends us forward. Even whilst our stomach says go back go back. There’s something in there. An urge. A little voice in the back of your mind that tells you to jump. My hand touched the handle. Much like the glass it was cold, but in another way, almost as if this was the last sign. The last stop on the highway. Junction south. 25 miles to the pit stop. Being from hell the idea of going there hardly made me afraid. In fact it would be a welcome change. But that darkness. It wasn't hell. Even hell had light. In there. There was nothing. Its then I got that feeling, my body screaming for me to go back. To walk back down the corridor and find another way. To forget my curiosity. To let it satisfy itself elsewhere. But I couldn't. This was where I had to be. There was no doubt. So I gave into that feeling. I jumped. The handle turned. And I opened the door. In an instant everything that had been was not. Everything had changed. No more library. No more nothing. Just that darkness. It was less like opening a door and more like unleashing something from its cage. Opening Pandora’s box and letting everything vile escape. My eyes were open, but I couldn't see a thing. It was odd. Confusing. Usually when one closes their eyes, there is still light that penetrates through the eyelids.

This was. Perfect, absolute darkness. A jet black abyss where no light was permitted. A slick of raw nature. I didn't like it. There was something wrong about it all. All I could hear in this place, was the beat of my own heart. The sound of my own breathing. Beyond that, there was nothing. A bitter silence that reflected the nature of this hell.. Wasn't sure, for just how long I was in there. It felt like forever. Walking. Stumbling. Wondering if there would be any end to the abyss. Its amazing how just something like that experience can make you take a look at your entire life and see it from a totally different angle and perspective. I had lived my life up till now with little to no regret. Despite what I was and who I was, I was an older demon. Older than most in Onitoshi. Few survived living as a higher order long enough to say that word with clarity.

Demon.

----


For that’s precisely what he was.. The creature that now stumbled in the darkness was nothing in comparison to the beast I had seen on that day so many years ago. Even now, watching. I see more of the human that he was in the body of the monster. Than I did in the human. My story last ended with the day the black book was summoned, I and the group of spirit hunters had failed to stop the man who was to become Pennywise from completing his ritual. It seems. Silly. Almost childish of me to refuse to use his name. But I feel that...in some way I'm protecting who he was by not using it. If anything that is the secret I will keep to my heart, that I will hold onto the most. Even if everything else slips away. For purposes of ease...I will call him Jack. For that’s the name that the people of the kingdom had given to him. Or rather. To the man who was committing the murders. They had no idea what for. Or the horrors that awaited them. But that’s what they called him.

Jack had left me behind, and with me the last of his humanity. I had to deal with my own emotional wounds as well as treating those of the hunter Jayden. The last survivor of the band we had led to bring him down in the first place. I knew, regardless of what Jack was doing. Even if I went to where he was going and confronted him. There would be nothing I could do. He had grown far too powerful. And with the book in his possession I no longer knew just what he would be capable of. I needed the help of a hunter. I didn't trust them. I needed one of them that wouldn't kill me. And as far as I knew. Only Jayden wasn’t going to do that. And he needed to be back in working order before any of it happened. His body may not have been in working order but his mind certainly was, I brought in books that he requested from shops, contacts black market dealers ( even though I frowned on the latter) keeping his had buried in lore about the book and just what precisely was supposed to happen surrounding the ritual after its summoning. According to what Jayden learned in the weeks of his recovery.

The book had many uses. Many spells. Each just as black and profane as the last. The worst of all these spells and rituals had to be of course, the one that Jack was attempting. Bringing the long dead back to life wasn't your usual spell. I knew that Jack had studied the spiritual healing arts at first, trying to find a magic spell in the powers of light that could bring someone back. But in failing this he could only find his answers in the darkness. Among the dark spells there were many that involved bringing the dead back. However with the number of years that Jack's sister had been in the ground, it was unlikely that her body and vessel was in any sort of condition to return to. And in that most of the black magic spells of lower value and power were eliminated. The only option left. Was the ritual of Emigrae.

From what I understood, and what Jayden was able to tell me this ritual was both extremely dangerous. And extremely foolhardy. Those few that had ever gained access to the rituals spell itself had never been heard from again after performing it. Bu the areas in which it was performed were well known. They had become places of great folk lore. Haunted ground. Tainted ground. In short there was never once a story in which it was performed, in which the ritual had actually succeeded. The details of the ritual were sparse. From what we could put together though. Jack required a few things before he would be capable of performing it. And they were not going to be easy things to come by. First of all. The ritual needed to be performed in a place were the gates of the dead were already shifted open. Locations like this were difficult to find. But the main source of evidence for one was extremely high spiritual activity. Jayden knew several locations. But most of them were too highly patrolled by hunters like himself for Jack to stand a chance of starting such a ritual and not being found out long before it was complete.And as odd as it sounded that actually made things worse. It meant that jack was likely going to have to create one of these areas himself. Which meant killing a large number of people in order to get the gates to creep open in the first place. And as I'd seen with him and his ritual. He didn't have any reservations about doing that. Not anymore at least. I wanted to understand his motives. Understand him. But it was impossible. I knew why he wanted his sister back. I knew the guilt that he felt over it. But even then....such a thing could not possibly drive a man to such madness. Could it?

Jayden wasn't interested in his motives. Only his goals. And that’s what scared me. As much as I wanted Jack to be stopped I never thought I'd actually realised just what needed to be done till now. We had to kill him. Had to put an end to it all. He'd fallen to far and there was no dragging him back up from this pit. And just the thought of that caused me to cry for days. For all we knew, in the time that it took Jayden to recover, he could have created that tainted ground. So we had to ignore that as an ingredient and concentrate on another. The next, and perhaps hardest to find of all the ritual items. Was a pure soul. In experience, no soul is born totally pure. It is always stained with something. But its foolish to believe that the words. Pure soul. Meant absolutely shining and immaculate. For purity had nothing to do with goodness. Jack could find a soul of pure evil and still succeed. But to find a heart that black or that white was not going to be easy. For him. Or for us. Luckily for us Jayden had some personal experience in this matter.

Only a few people out of millions were born with a pure soul. And these people were often granted with mysterious powers. As a result they were usually holy men or women in their lands. The pure soul of good was much easier to find than the pure of evil. For the simple fact that pure evil was far more obvious. As a child they would be aggressive. And would naturally do things that would be considered well...evil. Usually this resulted in them getting killed long before their powers have a chance to develop into world threatening abilities. The good souls on the other hand were usually well protected by temples or religions. Jaydens own experience was with his cousin. A sister at one of the holy temples, who was identified as having a soul of pure good. To call open the gates of the dead in this ritual. The power generated by corrupting a soul purity was required. Again, corruption and taint having little to do with darkness or light. A light soul being tainted by darkness or vice versa. The mere act of doing this would take more than just the physical abuse. Jack would have to for not force the person into doing the kinds of things that would taint them. He'd have to teach them to enjoy it.

Chapter One
The Immaculate Soul


" A wise woman once told me that each day is a gift, and that we should cherish it. .Gifts however are, by their nature. Spontaneous. Unpredictable. And whilst the idea of the gift throughout the centuries has grown into a positive one. We must always be reminded that not all gifts are welcome ones. The gift of insight for example. Of foresight.".
-Jayden Hysuka, Biography of a (remainder of title burned away)

"Purity is rarely a gift, pure evil represents the worst of all things, pure good the best. However in both they present positive and negative qualities. Passive natures are not always good. whereas GREED IS SOMETIMES A SMART THING. Purity of soul, is often as much a hindrance. As a benefit".
-Title completely burned away


Jaydens recovery had been slow as was expected. But we had prepared for what lay ahead. Along with our research we’d been making contacts. Keeping an eye on other cities within the kind and on the borders. We had to make sure we were aware of Jacks location at all times. Although I was sure. He wouldn't leave. He was bound to this place as much as I. Jayden wasn't so sure. He preferred that we kept an open mind about all things." Ren!". The loudness of his VOICE. Although then again I was away in my own little world thinking more about contacts, books and of course Jack than anything else. Turning around and brimming with a smile ( albeit a false one) I approached Jayden. The spirit hunter was slowly getting himself into a sitting position. Readying himself to practice walking. Jack had done a real number on him a couple months ago and honestly he was lucky to be alive. He looked at me, the pain in his eyes covered by a mask of smiles. It seemed that we both wore that mask all too often.

I wondered. Just what would it be like if we were completely honest with one another? I didn't really want to know, perhaps he was hiding more than his pain. "Are you ok? Do you need some help? Want some water?". Moving about him like a nurse over her patient, he just stared at me blankly and then slowly replied. " No....I was just going to tell you that we may have a lead". The hunter pointed down to a letter that was laid open on the sheets of his bed. Something that had arrived this morning with one of those red candle wax seals. It was a ward in itself against spirits. Couldn't open the letter. But now that he'd broken the wax seal. I scooped it up and scanned over the words. It was a letter from his cousin. The one with the pure soul. The letter first of all seemed rather long winded. First of all talking about the children at the temple. The weather. And then it moved onto something different. But it was strange. Quick almost as if mentioned in the pass by. As if she didn't really want to talk about it.

" Dear cousin, I am glad to have received your letter. It does warm my heart to know that you are still fine and doing the work of the holy spirit. Many things have happened since you last came to visit. The children living at the temple have grown so quickly. Some of them wish to be like you, others have grown more sense and decided that a skilled path would be better! ( this caused me to smile) Anne our mare has given birth to a foal, strong and healthy, it will likely grow into a strong stallion. If you are in need of one make sure to keep us in mind the temple needs all the 'donations' we can get. There have been some recent murders in the city, oh and the chickens have been oddly fertile this year! The good mother says she’s hoping that you decide to visit

With love in the spirits name. Your devoted cousin.

Joana".

I looked over and he was staring at me with almost expectant eyes, as if he wanted e to make some sort of comment on the letter. I shrugged and looked down. " I can't say this helps mysterious murders? That could just be signs of bad spirit activity". Jayden looked down, nodded and then pointed at me. " True...but...if this was just bad spirits, my cousin wouldn't have even mentioned it. The temple have their own spirit hunters. Never mind freelance rogues like me". Suddenly I understood. If she was telling him this then it meant that in some round about fashion it was something that the temples hunters couldn't handle on their own. A cry for help from an oddly upbeat girl.

" Am I hell letting Jack anywhere near my kin".

The young hunter slowly made his way over to the table and from the right hand drawer withdrew a piece of parchment cloth. He unravelled it, revealing a map, and travel documents that would allow him entry to the city. Me on the other hand. Getting in was going to be difficult. And I knew this. But apparently so did Jayden. As the bastard had already thought of an answer. Slowly he raised up his hand, and jingling in it. Was a god damned belled cat collar. " So..." He said with an interesting smirk. " Do you want to try it on now or later?". My face flooded bright right, my hand swinging back before I know it. All thoughts of this being an injured man gone from my mind as my hand made contact with his face shouting. "BASTARD!".. . he laughed. I realised he was injured and walked quickly to his side. " Oh sorry I uh...". He shrugged me off. " Its ok". He aid, slowly taking my hands off him. " Your into the kinky stuff....I get it". Face bright red. Well. His soon followed.

II

We got on the road the next day, I'd hired out a wagon for us. We didn't have so much money that we could afford some kind of grand travel arrangements. But I wanted to make sure we had at least enough that we'd be able to carry him ( as he was still in no condition to be walking the distance we required) and something that would carry the equipment we needed just in case we did have a show down with Jack. I'd been practicing my own techniques as of late and had been getting stronger at using them as well as learning new ones. I didn't have much of a choice. Last time I'd faced Jack I was little more than a distraction. Drawing his eyes for a few moments. I never made any real impact on the battke. This time would be different. I swore to myself. I wouldn't let him remain this way. I wouldn't let him go ahead with his plan. He managed to make it out of the bed on his own. limping slowly out of the house and into the street. His eyes told me that he wasn't too impressed with the wagon. His mouth confirmed it. " Looks like ya nailed this one together yourself from planks of wood from wrecks off dead mans isle .". I raised an eyebrow, hands on hips in an awful girly fashion and looked at him. Unimpressed. " Best I could do on your crappy savings, honestly don't you hunters ever hear about banks and savings funds?". He shrugged. " Besides...dead mans isle?...what are you a pirate?".

Nah no pirate, just a damned sexy looking hunter". I punched him on the shoulder. He went staggering back a couple of steps. I grinned. He hadn't yet realised just how strong I could be if I tried. Our route out of the city was rather simple. A dirt road regularly used by merchant caravans as a way of moving between the cities. I was more than happy to take the drivers seat. At least until the nearing point of our destination. At which point I would be forced to take the guise of his pet as embarrassing as that was I was more than willing to go through with it. Little did I know what awaited us ahead on this road...

----
I’d found something in the darkness. Couldn't say that I was glad about it though. At first it was just a shape in the darkness. A vague outline that there was something there, something different than the void I had been stumbling around in for god knows how long. It was a confusing affair. I knew in order to see anything. Even that vague outline there had to be at least some form of light. So did that mean there was light in this darkness after all? Or had my time here changed me into a creature able to penetrate the darkness. Both ideas baffled me. And made me slightly afraid. The shape was a door. But it was totally different from the last. The door was huge. Giant and stone. Like the ancient kind of door you'd find in an old temple. There were markings on the door. Various languages. Some of which I recognised. Others that were completely foreign. As I approached the door, the sense of aggression and oppressiveness coming from it seemed to heighten. I pressed my cheek to its surface. My ear pressing against it. Hands trembling. Almo0st without thought, my fingers rapped across the door. Rat tat tat tat. What followed....Bang...Bang...Bang...Bang. Another door. And by the sounds ofit...whatever was banging against the door. Was behind this one. " Hello?". I called out .” afraid to ask but pushing forward none the less. At first what replied was little more than a whisper. But when I pushed my ear back against the door, the voice was quite clear. “ Listen. Learn. Remember”.


-----

"Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jumped over the candle stick". Ever heard that rhyme? Heard its become quite the popular children’s rhyme nowadays. Which is actually rather amusing considering its origins. They called me Jack back then, so I suppose that’s what you can call me. Its not my real name but it makes matters far more simpler. Why? Well I can't really say. Hats just something that you'll have to discover for yourself at the end of the story. I can't say that I actually blamed her for what happened. Maybe in the beginning when I first discovered her true nature. How did I manage that you ask? Well its simple. Whilst learning to become a healer I had to become spiritually aware. And when you find that your house pet is surrounded by spirit energy. Is oddly intelligent and doesn't age. Well. Its not hard to draw your own conclusions.

I was angry at first, but over time I realised that she was much like me, and of course the rest of the world. Afraid. She had something to lose. As we all did. What I don't think she learned until later though was that sometimes what we have to lose is worth gambling away in the big roulette wheel of life. Some are content with their lot. I wasn't. Life had been unfair for me. And although I can never really consider myself a bad person. I was all too willing to do what I needed to in order to raise my lot. . I knew it was wrong. Everything I had done. Summoning illness and disease. Killing those women. Whores or not the mess was enough to make me sick at times. But it got easier. I suppose that in itself is the nature of evil. When doing something no longer becomes such a problem for you. When you can find something easy that shouldn't be. Its infectious. Stealthy. Addictive. I'd moved into another city entirely. And was careful to cover my tracks. Which is actually more difficult than it sounds. In its physical form, the book that I carried was something of dire and profane evil. Almost a demon in on itself. Even those who were not spiritually aware would be able to recognise the signs of its appearance. Other than the oppressive feeling you got when the book was around. There were other signs. Stimuli caused by the manifested grimoire. Odd weather patterns. Famine. Plague. The thing practically announced itself.

It was as subtle on the spiritual level as a fireworks display. So there were...steps I had to take in order to avoid detection from spirit hunters and others who might try to stop me. The book had many spells and rituals in varying levels of power, however I had only summoned the book in interest of acquiring one particular ritual. The Emigrian ritual for opening the gates of the dead and dragging that soul back into a vessel. . And as horrible as this may sound, after having a look through the rest of the book, and after realising the odds surmounted against me. I decided that the spells and rituals contained within the book would be too useful to destroy. Which was my original plan after tearing out the emigrian ritual page.

I performed my own ritual, binding the spells of the book to my very being. Each single spell and ritual taking on the form of a black cross shaped stigmata until the time of needing. This of course made me look rather. Suspicious. However a quick illusion spell over my appearance fixed that easily enough. . Once the rituals were part of me, I burned the book. Which in itself was no easy task. But in the end worth it. It got rid of any tracks they could follow for me. The only clues they would have would be what I needed for my ritual. And that was in itself an annoyance. The items I needed were rare, and I didn't have the luxury of just avoiding the most obvious ones.. Which was what brought me to the city.

The spirit hunters in this city were also effective witch hunters. And ever since I had taken to using dark magic my own mark upon the spiritual realm had grown stronger and darker. And for some of the more skilled of the hunters picking me out among the crowd, illusion spell or no would be relatively easy. I needed to do things to hide myself. And luckily the black book held such a ritual. One that I had chosen to keep. Within the inn room that I had purchased , gathered before were the things required for the black ritual spell. I dipped my hand in a tub of fresh lambs blood. Drew a marker across the floorboards of my room. And pressed my hand to it. Upon the hand one the black cross marker where this spell had been sealed. The marker began to leak like blank ink. Moving from my hand and onto the floor. Passing through the blood and into the room itself. Several symbols began to light up as I chanted the spell. Then like a reversal, the symbols moved back from the walls and the floor, and reformed into the cross on my hand. The spell was complete. Soon, the spirit hunters in the city would be panicking over nothing.

Sure enough, the sound of horses and men in the night. The amber glow of torches as men moved past the houses of the cities. The spell I'd invoked was little more than a distraction. It converted an area to cursed ground, from that spreading a dark aura across the area. Within this area now, those with dark auras would be undetected. For those with spiritual senses would see darkness everywhere. It was like spiritual camouflage. Hiding in plain sight. Of course, it did have the other effect of attracting lower levelled mischievous spirits. But that would only help in the distraction process. Keeping their eyes off me.

I had come to this city to claim the second of things I needed. The immaculate spirit. A pure soul that would be able to generate the power I needed to command the gates of the dead to open fully. . There was one of these gifted people in the city, and I would find them. I would take them. And I would taint them. This was my will. And it would be done.

Before I cold do anything however I needed to find out information on my target. Rushing in head long was a foolish idea irrespective of my current levels of power. Wearing a woollen hood and cloak I headed out into the city to walk amongst the commoners. Today was market day and no doubt I would be able to find some information as well as gather some of the supplies I might nee. One of the more amusing points of that day was walking past a book store and noticing that they had realised a new best seller called ladder to heaven. The name of the book almost made me laugh. It had perked my curiosity enough to pull me into the shop, and even purchase a copy. "Ladder t Heaven". A great work of literal arts, filled with romance, tragedy, and drama .. To me it sounded like the perfect book for me to read in my time , it was plenty thick and would last me the long nights whilst I waited. The story of an angel who fell from grace, struggling with his own imperfections in an attempt to find redemption in the eyes of god and the world. The ladder to heaven, no t the stairway.

Such a thing implied a difficult climb.

And oh...it would be.

I developed little interest in the nightlife of the city. Staying inside and reading my book whenever the time permitted it. However there were times in which such a thing was impossible. In order to obtain what I needed, I required information about it from the people who were in charge. Luckily for me despite saying in one of the lower quarters of the city I had my finery with me. And this place much like the eighty twenty population of the world had the rich taking advantage of that fact by holding onto parties. Playing through their petty little lives as if everything was nothing built a song and a dance for them. Sometimes they made me sick. Sometimes I pitied them. Inevitably I would have made my way to one of these parties. On nights previous on nights previous to this. But preparations had held me back. So many things to do, and to do in secret. Unlike the hunters who could for the most party carry their business about in the light of day. Mine had to be completed in secrecy and silence. After all it was those who I avoided who would be the ones that I was coming into contact the most. In this city the hunters were a regular sight. Mostly because the rich were well aware of the dangers that spirits could bring. So they hired those who could keep them away. And the immaculate soul was a daughter of one of these so called rich men.

I dressed myself in my finery and made my way towards the rich centre of town, using what money I had gathered for myself in these past few days through various means. Most of them profane and dark. However it was enough to make my movement from one district to the next completely unchallenged. Rich men often moved from one to the other with little thought or care. It was mostly the allure of desperate women...or men. It depended on the taste and money available. The mansion was huge, another thing that made me sick when I looked at these grand halls and lights sin comparison to the dirt filth and rat infested waste that others had to spend their lives toiling within. I myself had been one of those poor unfortunates. At least in my regard the change in scenery was not so great. Lower to middle. Wooden housing was the common thing. However here. It was dingy trotted old planks of wood, barely held together by rusted nails. The beauty of this place was comparable to painting s of st peters gates. Brilliant gold as immaculate as the soul that I had hoped to claim for this evening. The though and comparison made me grin. My carriage stopped just outside the entrance where I was asked by the bouncers to give my name. I bowed. " My name is Jack, you were told to expect me".

Confusion spread across the face of both. Until my spell addled both of their minds. A useful little trick as they merely passed me in, their faces blank and uncaring. Mouth drooped. Little more than brainless apes. The grand hall greeted me with its continuation of the theme of heaven. White marble broken up in the odd place by gold and black. It was an interesting design. Taking note of it myself as I handed the butler my night coat and hat. . The man waved me into the ball room. Where the echoes of music were clear from the outside. But oh so much more when one stepped through the grand doors into the place itself. Many were dancing here. Not that the activity interested me at all. little did anymore since the death of my sister. Little was on my mind but my goal of the evening. But then in order to obtain said goal I had to become the toast of the party. It was early evening and I'd came there at that time for a reason. Most of the more important party guests arrived fashionably late from the starting time of the main activity. Those who were there were likely dignitaries.
Throughout the nights at these sorts of events people tended to split into specific groups for the rest of the night. Sticking to who they were with and then rejecting newcomers.

It was best for now that he got into the group that he needed. However it was likely going to be difficult. The party he was interested in joining was not the one you'd expect. Usually you would expect me to go ahead and attempt to join the group of the dignitary from this city. But no, that wasn't my plan. I knew that the eyes of the cities rulers wouldn't be on their own dignitaries group. But rather on the group of their enemies. A perfect stranger discussing things with their enemies was going to be something to watch. Wondering who he was. In that way they would likely be attracted to see just who he was and what his plans were. For me, it was the perfect form of social manipulation on these fools. " Well I can't say that northern shipping has improved as much as we'd desired or hoped". Said one of the signatories as I approached them slowly. " Indeed, co". Confirmed the other in a sort of dull tone. Indicating that he had little interest in this conversation. Likely it was because he had little financial input to that specific company. I jutted in, seeing my chance to get drawn into the conversation. " Indeed, but what else can you expect from northerners?", bunch of lazy sods living off disability benefits". There was a formulated laughter. But I noticed it only came after a quick scan. If I had been judged too lower class for the group then they would have rejected me almost immediately. The laugh was their welcome. " Indeed, however there are peace contracts to think of, investments that must be attended to, trade routes that must be kept open. If we hired all our southern population and put them into the business the north would think we were invading".

I simply gave what could only be described as man arrogant but delicious smile and retorted. " They would be so lucky...". There was once again, a howling grain of laughter, that seemed to attract the attention of the northern dignitaries from this city. Those of whom I wanted the attention of. That indicated things were going very well for me. AA woman to the left of me, a rather buxom thing seemed to have gotten closer. She was the first to voice her curiosity about me. " I do say sir, you are a delight, what is your name?". In the typical manner, I bowed, took her hand ( which she almost thrust into my face) kissed the back of it and I spoke with that same confident tone. " To you my lady, you can call me whatever you desire my true name is Jack Belmington, my father is the lord mayor of a town in the middle regions". A nod of interest from those within the group. The middle lands were at that stage, disputed. So adding myself as a dignatory from them would perk the interest of those around even more.




I spent most of the night discussing this and that, dancing with the buxm one at my side and other such things. The entrance of the lords and ladies was quite the grandoccasion. However I had topretend notnot to take notice of it. Again, not paying direct attention would be seen as an act of defiance or perhaps further arrogance. Although they wouldn't like it they'd be damned to hell almost drooling to know about him by now. But oddly it wasn't till near the end of the evening till one of the dignataries approached him. He was led, almost dragged from those of the south to those of the north. THe lord was a man of plump design. His wifwe almost his physical opposite. The daughter it seemed was the best of both worlds. Neither fat nor thin. But with the gifts of both. She was indeed a blessing to the family. He took a bow as the Lord walked towards him. Glass in his hand. " They say you hail from the middle lands, the dsputed territories. Yet you have not made a move to speak with us all night. I would like to enquire why?". There was clear outrage behind the finery of his tone. Good. I wanted that. Keeping my smile to myself I merely spread my arms and said. " I had assumed that the lord of the land was to call me over....I was merely awaiting your summons good sir, I thought I would be asking above my station to request a meeting". The lines of anger seemed to slowly fade from his face as he heard this. It had worked.

Flattery always good when it was spiked with a glazing of truth. " Ah yes, then I see you are man of honour and standards, who is to know his place in the world". A brief smile and it waas clear to me, the man was an idiot. I wondered if that trait had transfered onto his daughter, who was for me the main interest of the night. Wenspent some time discussing the ins and outs of north to south politics and how it had been a difficult time for both regions particularly with their rivalry and previous history of war. Another song came up, and the daughter of the lord whispered to her father where or not she could dance with me. The lrod offered me the honour, which I graciously accepted. She was somewhat clumbsy on her feet, but I kept up the smile and she was seeminly entranced by the mask I wore. Inside I was loathing every second of it. Even though this would bring me closer to my goal I knew that this was not the thing I should be doing. I wanted to tear everyone in this room to pieces. But I needed to eep up that mask, that smile. That friendly little attitude. Politics of the small. Words of men I didn't care for. By the end of the night I had both puzzled and charmed dignataries and lords from both north and south. My alliegences would be a complete mystery. And I would keep their interest for weeks. Likely cpaable of getting an auidence whenever I desired. It was a success. And even better. Before I was to take my leave the daughter of the lord asked her father if I may have the honour of kissing her. It was granted. And though I hated it all. I gave the kiss gladly. What was a kiss to the dead?



Word Count: 8095
Total Word Count: 14,120
Trained:
Madworld (> Mastered)
Shadow Bind ( > Mastered)
Trained: Gnashing ( > Honed)
Trained Heightened Senses (> Mastered)
Trained: Hysterical Strength ( > Honed)
Trained: Bitter Mercy ( > Mastered)
Trained: Several Self (> Trained)
Trained: Influence (> Mastered)


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