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Archive for September, 2013

The Hunter Demon

The Hunter Demon

They came hunting her, afterwards, of course.

One did not subvert one of the major players in the dark games of good and evil and not attract attention.

But she was sick with the energy of the thing she had consumed; weak from using the fabric of herself to transform it, spread too thin across the twelves realms of heaven, trying to draw down what energy she could to heal herself, trying to vomit the darkness out of her soul without causing too much harm. Made powerless by too much power. The irony would have made her laugh at any other time but this.

They found the place she lived, a hovel by their standards. It had been a clever ruse, to live simply, when she had the power and the skill to bend reality to do her bidding. She might have lived in a floating castle if the mood had taken her in that direction but it pleased her to live thus, her walls stripped down to the emptiness of monk’s cell, to match the barren place in her heart left after all the grief had burned itself to ash.

She lifted her head at the knock on the door, knowing full well who stood on the other side. It had been too good to last, she thought. She sighed sadly and shifted sideways.

The walls and all the world beyond disappeared. She crouched on a great gray plain under a sky equally gray. There was no horizon to ease the eye, only the solidness of the smooth surface under her fingers.

She shuddered, suppressing a moan. The memory of what was lost here was too new in her memories even though it was as old as the universe. She grabbed at the fabric of dimensional reality, preparing to shift again but it was already too late.

“I am onto your tricks,” said the figure hidden under the cloak made of the ebony of deep space. Its chill wafted over her. “There is no place for you to hide. I know the taste of your scent. I will follow to the ends of the universe.”

She looked at him  quizzically. Was that just a turn of word or did he recognize this place?

“Hiding? Is that what you call this?” she asked, holding up her hand to watch the white light boil out of every pore. “I call it a poor camouflage.” She considered sending all that pent up energy at the demon in one huge blast but she feared to leave herself defenseless, feared that if she turned herself as gray as the plane upon which she sat that he would find her anyway, despite becoming invisible, feared to leave him here, a force out of balance with the energies of this place, to wreak its havoc on a place she treasured.

“What did you hope to accomplish, taking that particular god-ling from us. We have so many more waiting to replace it,” it said, its derision meant to cut. Did he mean to provoke her into making the first move?

“And yet you are here,” she said tiredly, “seeking retribution. I hurt you. I am glad.”

“Hurt? No. Annoy. Yes. The citadel of my Masters can afford to take a hit or two. You are a pest buzzing around their heads but your sting is without venom.”

She laughed. “I have taken two of your four horsemen, demon. Tell me I have no sting.”

“You did not kill this one, as you did the first. We will take it back,” the demon said disdainfully.

“You will never take it back. It is mine forever,” she said, wishing him gone.

“Why? Because you loved it? Love.” It laughed. “If love could alter the Dark Lords they would have been gone long ago.”

“Love? No. I healed its heart so that it might remember what it was before you and your kind turned it into a tortured and mutilated version of itself. I am afraid it hates you now. Good luck getting it to listen to your prayers.”

The demon snarled at her. “An empty victory. You will grow bored and leave it to us as you have always done. We need merely wait out your limited patience.”

That cut too deeply and too close. She snarled at him.

“By all that is Holy, are you going to bore me to death or do you have better weapons in your arsenal than your empty words?” she asked rising to her feet. The light boiled softly around her, the fabric of the Grey flowing like liquid as it tried to consume it. She managed to stay on her feet in the whip of forces around her but she was careful not to betray her weakness, her face still, a porcelain mask with empty eyes.

The ebony demon reached under its cloak and pulled a sword. It glowed white hot and the Grey smoked and burned where it touched it.

“Really?” she said, eyeing the ugly blade. “Do you think you can kill me?” She backed away all the same, not liking the thought of more pain.

“Perhaps not, but you will have to regroup and reform to acquire another avatar on the human plane. It will cost you time. Time we will use to our advantage. Every time you come back, we discover the chinks in the wall of the world that you use as a doorway and seal them against you,” it said, raising the sword and taking a step towards her.

“It does not work that way …. ” she said but he was already stepping in for the killing blow.

She flinched, her eyes  closed, her arms over her head and waited to die. When she did not, she opened one eye. The demon’s blade hung over her head, tangled in the warp and weft of the Grey that looked a lot like an enormous grey fist.

She rose to her full height and looked upward, a smile playing at the corners of her mouth.

“You did not forget me after all,” she breathed.

The fist wrenched the sword out of the demon’s hands and slammed it into the ground. The blade tore a hole in the world and light steamed in through the rent. She put her hand up to shade her eyes from the glare. The fist kept shoving until the blade disappeared into the hole. Then it grabbed for the demon. The ebony figure danced out of its reach but the Grey curled up around him and dumped him into the great hand.

“Gah,” he roared. “What is this place?”

“Well, it is a little late to be asking that question, isn’t it?” she observed as the demon followed his blade into the ragged hole. He didn’t quite fit. The fist was relentless all the same, pushing the last bits and pieces of him into the hole before sealing it again.

She sat down hard, the last of her strength gone. The Grey caught her and cradled her gently.

“Tsk,” something said in the back of her mind, “Up to the same old tricks, my love. I know where you are by the turmoil you cause around you. Is peace so boring that you cannot find a place for it in your heart?”

“You know how it is,” she said from behind sleep heavy lids. “You start cleaning up a mess and before you know it you’ve made a clean spot. Then there is no help for it but to keep cleaning until it is done.”

“No, I do not know. Light has not been torn from the Dark here, as you well know. The two exist as one at this moment in time.”

“I know. The Beginning and the End. Can I stay for a bit?” she asked plaintively.

“The darkness of the demon balanced your Light. Now you eat at my flesh with your energies. Come back to me when you are done playing,” it said, shifting her through the veil.

She found herself in a time bubble somewhere near the end of time, on a snowy mountain top under a white sky. She blinked sleepily before grabbing the fabric of the world and wrapping it around her like a soft blanket.

She needed to sleep for a while, rebuild her energies and get her thoughts sorted out. When it was time she would shift out of this place, back to the human plain.

She had a demon to hunt.

White Light Warrior

White Light Warrior

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Can I Keep It?

Can I Keep It?

“It followed me home. I named it Bouncer. Can I keep it?” Lishy asked, a hopeful look on her face.

The demon wagged its tail energetically trying to look friendly but its tail was long and fat and lumpy so it only managed to thump it against the walls of the kitchen and rattle the china in the cupboards.

“Absolutely not,” her mother said, not looking up from her cake batter. “Put it back where you found it.”

~~~~~~~

“I will take care of it all by myself,” Lishy said earnestly.

The demon licked the back of his paw and tried to smooth his spiky mane but it still looked like it was in desperate need of a bath and a good brushing.

“I doubt that very much,” her father said, not bothering to look up from his evening paper. “Maybe when you are older.”

~~~~~~~

“It is tame,” Lishy insisted.

The demon pressed its lips together to hide its fangs.

“It behaves because it wishes to please you. It loves you, but it is a wild thing,” said Lishy’s brother. “It cannot hide its nature forever. Take it outside and let it go.”

~~~~~~~~

“It loves me,” Lishy said forlornly.

The demon purred but it sounded suspiciously like a growl and Lishy shushed it. Then it rubbed itself against Lishy’s legs but stopped when he nearly toppled her.

“Of course it does. Who can help but love you, imp,” said her sister, patting the demon on its soft nose, but she jerked her hand away when it opened its mouth in a wide grin, showing every tooth. “You must love it back by setting it free.”

~~~~~~~~~

“It does not want to go home,” Lishy insisted, her fingers buried in the ruff of her demon to keep it by her side and out of trouble.

“Is it a house demon?” her grandmother asked, staring down at it through her thick reading glasses, her knitting forgotten in her lap. “It does not look like any house demon I have ever seen.” The demon meowed softly and panted like a dog. Grandmother was not convinced. Lishy pulled it away when it tried to eat grandmother’s knitting bag.

~~~~~

“I think it is lost,” Lishy said woefully.

The demon blinked solemnly, trying for a woeful expression.

“Then you must help it remember where it belongs,” her grandfather said, pausing and looking up from his daily inspection of his prize tomatoes plants.

It became immediately apparent that the demon did not belong in the garden as a half dozen pumpkins disappeared down the its maw. Grandfather shooed them away from his plants, a stern look on his face.

~~~~~~~

Lishy sighed sadly as she opened the gate at the bottom of the garden and pushed the demon out into the meadow beyond.

“If you were to be my demon, you would sleep at the foot of my bed and I would share my breakfast scones and clotted cream with you. Then we could play tea party and I would let you wear my best floppy hat and lace mittens. And if you were very quiet, you could sit under the dinner table and eat my brussel sprouts for me. At bedtime we would have a bubble bath and then I would read you all my favorite bedtime stories, and after everyone has gone to sleep I would take you to the roof and tell you stories about the stars.”

“I would have liked that,” Bouncer said sadly. “I would have taken you for long walks in the Fairy Kingdom where the bird song sounds like tiny silver bells and the butterflies are made of light and sound. We could have laid in bed at night and I would have told you stories of the caves under the mountains where the crystals sing like angels and the water drips from walls that glow with the light of a billion stars.  I could have drawn you maps to the hidden treasures of Odom and the altars of the Buried Kings and we would have had many adventures looking for their ruins.

Lishy scuffed the toes of her shiny shoes in the dust of the path, unable to close the gate. Bouncer watched her, waiting.

“I am very forgetful, sometimes,” Lishy said. “Sometimes I forget to close my bedroom window.”

Mmm,” Bouncer said. “That is most unwise.”

“ When I am especially forgetful, I leave the gates into the garden unlatched.” Lishy added.

“Oh dear. All manner of foul things might get in,”  Bouncer tisked, trying not to smile.

“Yes, all manner of things.” Lishy smiled.

The demon turned and took a step into the meadow. Then he paused and turned.

“You should have friends your own age, and not the likes of someone like me,” Bouncer admonished.

“Other children break easily,” Lishy said with a shrug. “You are different.”

“But I am as breakable as anything else mortal,” Bouncer said.

“Yes, but you will resist me. Not many things have the power to do so,” Lishy said.

“I could kill you,” the demon said reasonably.

“Oh, I am counting on you trying,” said Lishy as she shut the gate, a happy laugh bubbling up from the depths of her being.

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Guardians at the Portals

Guardians at the Portals

Life is not like a box of choc’lits, as much as we adore that kind of folksy wisdom.

If you want a truer analogy, one could say Life is very much like Harry Potter’s TriWizard Tournament maze. You are on a path with high walls that keep you from seeing the way forward or the way back. The possibility of something nasty jumping out at you around every corner is very real.

So, there are choices to be made.

How do you avoid the traps?

You can refuse to play the game. That is one choice. But you are human. This means you chose to play the game else you would not have walked though the Veil. Or you could stop and refuse to advance any further. Here again, the rules of the game make this an unpleasant choice for there is only two ways out of the maze, death and the big doorway marked “EXIT”. The way is littered with those who stopped and let the life seep out of them until the only thing left was the mummified husks.

Let’s assume you are playing to win. You turn each corner cautiously, your weapons ready in case the next surprise is something that means to eat you. When something jumps out at you, you have choices. Run or Fight. Easy enough. You defeat it and move on or it defeats you and you must find another route through the maze.

Sometimes you come around the corner and there stands a Sphinx. Damn. 

You have three choices, Fight, Flee or solve the Riddle.

I do not recommend fighting a Sphinx. They are magical creatures of a kind that cannot be defeated by even the most powerful wizards.

Going back to the next turn does not appeal since it has taken you so long to get this far and each trap has been progressively harder and more brutal. The maze does not want to be solved and resists you at every turn and eventually there is no going backwards.

OK, we can do this, you think. Just solve the Riddle. But be careful. The Sphinx will eat you and suck you into its alternate reality. But you are clever. How hard can it be, this riddle solving thing?

The Sphinx is an old hand at this game. It wants you to win but it does not want it to be an easy win. It is immortal and bored and ever wishing for a challenge, after all.

It asks the riddle.

It is then that you realize how clever this game is. The riddle is a paradox with no solution. Damn. Double Damn.

That is when you cheat.

Oh, come on. You knew there were cheats. Every game has them.

The Sphinx exists on multiple levels in multiple dimensions. One must merely find an alternate reality and then, standing within this place, you rephrase the the question so that the riddle is solvable.

Der? you might say.

Think about it. In the center of every paradox, at the heart of the reality in which all possibilities exist as truth, simultaneously and in opposition, there is a place perfectly balanced between the thousands and thousands of true answers. Standing in this place you face the Sphinx and deny any version of its truth but that which lives in the Heart of the Oneverse.

The Sphinx will smile and bow, letting you pass. It might even follow you, guarding your back as you finish the game. It is not often that the Sphinx is bested at its own game. It follows you because you are not boring.

Damn. Triple Damn. How the hell do you explain the Sphinx when it follows you home like a stray puppy?

the paradox Riddle

the paradox Riddle

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