A Shadow of All Night Falling - Part 1: Mother of Demons

(August 30-September 13, 3023 AD)

Chapter 14

© 2000 by E. Liddell


Back to Dark Kingdom Home | E.Liddell's DK Stories | Stayka's DK Stories | Other DK Stories


David

It wasn't my will that impelled my body forward. I'd thought it was, thought it was my idea to cross over to the Earth Realm through that disused Warp, to place myself where Pyrope or anyone else wouldn't be very likely to be looking for me, but it had really been the demon's idea. It needed me and the other youma to transport parts of it back over to this side, now that it had fattened itself on the magical energies of the Negaverse.

My body was tired, but the damned thing ignored that. It would kill me in a couple of days at most if it kept ignoring my physical needs like this. And there wasn't a damned thing that I could do about it.

Pyrope... I couldn't even wipe away the tear that ran down my cheek. The demon's control over my body had gradually increased over the past few days, and now it was almost total. It had only been a few days, hadn't it? Less than a week. Gods of Darkness, I missed him. I wouldn't have thought it was possible to miss anyone so much.

The demon brought us to a stop abruptly -- so abruptly, in fact, that my poor abused body couldn't handle it. It tripped over its own feet and landed face-down in a pile of garbage. And then it left me there, with my mouth full of something that I really didn't want to think about, as it pulled itself out of my body, releasing me. Mostly. I could still feel a hollow, a flaw somewhere inside myself that hadn't been there before it had violated me. Violated. Yes, that was exactly the right word. The demon had raped my soul, and I'd never feel properly clean again.

Tears of rage trickled into the filth underneath me until I found the strength to sit up.

That was when I discovered that the demon wasn't altogether gone. Instead, it had formed itself into a greyish cloud and was hovering not ten feet away from me, in front of a vaguely familiar woman. No, a very familiar woman. It was the pink hair that gave it away. Even a person who doesn't normally remember women couldn't possibly forget that hair. This could only be Princess Serenity, the Neo-Queen's daughter, changed though she was.

The grey mist stretched out a tendril to caress her face, and she smiled. It was the sort of smile that Zoisite sometimes displayed when he was intent on being sadistic, not pleasant at all.

She extended her hands, cupped palm-up, with something pale and glittering resting between them. The Silver Crystal!

I suppose a hero would have lunged forward at that point, with a smart remark on his lips, but I doubted that I'd even be able to stand up. All I could do was sit there and watch, and hope that the demon had forgotten about me and the princess hadn't noticed me.

The grey mist coiled around the Silver Crystal. At first, it glowed through the enveloping fog, but it faded quickly. The princess stepped back, her hands empty, as a shadow began to form inside the greyness. That core of darkness gradually became something human-shaped, gaining in solidity as the mist thinned. The demon... was creating a humanoid body for itself, using the power of the Silver Crystal? Or... ?

The dark form slowly became a blonde man of medium height, a Crystal Weaver, with the familiar fine-boned features and slanted eyes. He drew in a deep breath, slowly, then let it out in much the same way. A cruel smile much like his female companion's graced his lips for a moment.

I cringed back into the shadows as he looked right and left, but that wasn't enough to hide me from him. I hadn't really believed that it would be, but clutching at straws had been better than doing nothing at all.

He didn't even bother speaking to me, just made a small gesture and materialized an iron collar around my neck, with a chain that led back to his hand. I didn't bother to plead, knowing that it would have been useless. There was nothing of humanity in this man's eyes, nothing at all. Even Zoisite had some rudimentary ability to be merciful, although he rarely demonstrated it. But this man could not even possibly have a conscience.

"You're going to make a servant of that?" the princess asked him.

He shrugged. "It should be used to it -- after all, it's a youma. I doubt it'll take me that long to train it."

"So long as you understand that you are the one who's going to be training it, my lord... ?"

"Grossularite," he supplied, when it became obvious that she was waiting for a name. "But this is not the best place for us to discuss matters. Come." He offered her his free hand. It was only when she took it that he jerked on my chain, forcing me to crawl forward to join them.

As the squalid alleyway in which this drama had taken place (Why does everything in Crystal Tokyo seem to happen in grimy alleyways and deserted warehouses?) vanished in a flash of light, I just barely had time to wish myself dead.

Tourmaline

I hid in an alcove, willing the youma to ignore me, and either I was developing into a true telepath or I was very lucky, because they did. To be specific, they straggled on by, leaving me alone. Eight of them. Armed. I couldn't tell whether they were sane or not, and I didn't intend to risk my life to find out, either.

All right. Now which way?

The location spell had been one of the few that I'd always been able to perform reliably, even before coming to the Negaverse. That and the minor magics associated with my sculpting. It wasn't working so very well tonight, though. In fact, it seemed to be leading me around in circles. Left again? I thought, supressing a groan. The youma who had just passed me might not be quite out of earshot yet.

Then I moved off as silently and swiftly as I could manage. Silent isn't easy when you're wearing a General's uniform, though. It's the boots. They look good, and they're fairly comfortable, but they're noisy, especially when you're walking over uncarpeted stone. I had to set my feet down slowly and carefully, which meant that my speed suffered. Odd that none of the others ever seemed to have the same problem. Jasper certainly hadn't, when he'd been assigned as my teacher. Perhaps they wove spells into their bootsoles. Yes. That had to be it. It fit in with the philosophy I'd seen here, that magic was a tool to be exploited. At the Enclave, we'd always been taught that our magic had to be hidden, and used sparingly, but not here. Here, there were no prying human eyes to endanger us, and we could be whatever we wanted to be.

<<Tourmaline?>>

I started. That had certainly been one of the last voices that I'd expected to hear inside my head. <<Lord Demantoid? Where are you?>>

<<Third door on your left.>>

This time, I did groan. Left again. I should have known.

I entered the room, and then stopped on the threshold, staring. Demantoid was there, all right, kneeling beside the wall. In front of him lay the dead body of a youma. His left hand rested on his leg just above the knee. His right hand... wasn't visible. His wrist disappeared into the wall beside him.

<<I teleported a little off-target,>> he observed wryly. <<Or rather, more than a little, truth be known. Can you help me? I understand that your special talents lie in the area of shaping stone.>>

<<I don't know if I can do anything or not. I've never even seen anything like this before. Does it hurt?>>

<<No, not really. It just feels like my hand is stuck in something.>>

I knelt down beside him and extended my senses into the wall. Stone... Stone... There! Something that wasn't stone, that didn't belong, although the molecules that composed it were mixed with those in the wall. Bizarre. Very, very bizarre.

I tried to move the stone back, to create a gap between the wall and Demantoid's hand so that he could at least pull it out. It still wasn't quite right when he did, though. The fabric of his glove had turned grey, with streaks of green, just like the stone of the wall.

Demantoid flexed his fingers and shrugged. <<Well, it seems to work, and that's all that matters for now. Are we at all near where the others are? Let's go, then. I need to find Malachite. It's important.>>

Nephrite

The little room wasn't really large enough to allow me to pace, or at least, not without running into anyone, so I had seated myself in one of the alcoves and was trying to think of something constructive to do, other than just sit here and try to weather the storm. I wasn't really needed here, but I didn't want to leave Almandite alone among the Sailor Scouts and their allies. It was ridiculous, I knew -- the Scouts and the Negaverse had been working together for so long that I doubted most of the people here remembered a time when it hadn't been so -- but some part of me still regarded them as the Enemy. Normally I was able to subdue that fraction of myself, but the events that had taken place tonight had shaken me. The youma, turning on us... Well, let's just say that it was difficult, after that, to be certain of anyone's loyalty.

"The Stars know everything." I whispered the words, in an attempt to keep the others from noticing. The alcove was already shadowed, so my incantation didn't make it significantly darker. "Powers of the Universe, I seek your wisdom." True enough -- I needed all the help I could get right now. "Show me --" And I hesitated. What question to ask? I had so many of them! "Show me what has become of the Crown Princess of Crystal Tokyo!"

A vague scene formed in front of me: a desolate plain of grey stone, without even a hint of softening vegetation, far uglier than the worst that the Negaverse had ever produced. A dark, shadowy city had somehow grown up there. There was almost no light at all, and the starscape I saw above the dark, brooding buildings was slightly skewed...

That's Nemesis! I thought the terrain looked vaguely familiar. But where's Rini?

As soon as the thought formed, my viewpoint swung toward the top of one of the taller buildings. Two people were standing there, arguing. I barely had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of pink hair before the second figure waved his hand in my direction and the vision went dark.

I blinked and rubbed at my temples as the lighting in the alcove returned to normal. I'd never had a divination cut off prematurely from the far end before. I'd had them fail, yes, but never in a way that gave me the impression that the people I was watching could sense me spying on them. I found that very disquieting. Who was that man? I wondered, but I hadn't seen enough to be able to identify him, just a masculine-seeming profile and an impression of hair that was light in color but not pink. And a vague sense of familiarity. Damn.

<<Any luck?>> My wife blocked out the light for a moment as she came over to sit beside me.

<<Not really, beloved.>> I buried my face in her hair as we conversed. <<How about you?>>

I felt her shrug. <<There isn't really much that I can do for anyone right now. Either Sammy -- King Samuel -- will recover on his own, or he won't. There isn't anything more that I can do to influence what happens. I wish that there was. I owe it to Serena to try.>>

<<It wasn't your fault,>> I stated.

<<I know that. Even if we'd known that her own daughter would turn on her, there's no way that we could possibly have gotten here faster. But I still can't help wishing...>> She sighed.

<<I know,>> I replied. <<I know.>> For all our powers, we can't turn back time or bring the dead back to life, except under certain exceptional circumstances.

<<I'm going to miss her,>> my wife admitted, softly and miserably.

All I could do was hold her, offering what comfort I could.

"Alex? What's going on? Who's the kid?"

I couldn't tell which of the Scouts said that, but the voice that responded was immediately familiar. "Is Nephrite here? I need to talk to him."

<<Over here,>> I responded. <<What's up, Alex? You're supposed to be over by the Customs building.>>

<<Malachite forgot to brief you, didn't he?>>

I frowned, puzzled. <<Brief me about what?>>

My frown only became deeper as they explained -- or rather, as he failed to explain -- about Kyanite, Adamant, and the demon.

<<And so you need to do something with Phoebe's Ward that will drive the demon out of Crystal Tokyo, coordinating with Malachite's actions in the Negaverse, and you need my help because neither of you is powerful enough,>> I stated, summarizing what I did understand. <<The question is, if we drive the demon out of the Earth Realm and out of the Negaverse, where is it supposed to go afterwards?>>

<<I don't know,>> Kyanite admitted. <<Adamant didn't mention it, and I didn't think to ask. All I know is the procedure you're supposed to use, and I don't even really understand that.>>

Alex and Almandite and I all exchanged long, long looks. There was something that wasn't quite right here, but I just couldn't put my finger on it, except that, illogically, trusting Adamant somehow felt wrong. But what else were we supposed to do? Leave the demon to ravage Crystal Tokyo and the Negaverse? No, better to believe that I had perceived incorrectly.

It would be the first time in your life, whispered a little voice at the back of my mind.

Shut up! I ordered it. This wasn't a time for uncertainty or questioning. I knew instinctively that what I was going to have to do wasn't going to be easy, and I needed to be able to give it my undivided attention.

I rose from my seat in the alcove and strolled over to where Samuel Tsukino was lying, with Alexandrite, Kyanite, and my wife trailing behind.

Almandite slipped past me without my needing to ask, and laid her hand on the forehead of the would-be anchor of Phoebe's Ward. <<He's still stable,>> she reported. <<He isn't showing any sign of returning to consciousness, though.>>

I nodded, conscious of the fact that there were three and a half Sailor Scouts standing behind me, grouped around Prince Phaeton, all trying to drill holes in me with their eyes. I weighed options, then turned to face them.

"I can't hurt him any more than he's hurt himself already," I said, "and I don't have any reason to do so even if I could."

None of them said anything, and the tension didn't ease. I sighed with exasperation and turned back to King Samuel.

<<Malachite?>> I fumbled along the Weave-link. Contacting my Center should have been an effortless procedure, but tonight it wasn't. Perhaps that was because of the way the demon had warped the pathways between the universes. I didn't know enough about temporo-spatial phenomena like that to know if that was possible or not.

<<Nephrite? Are you ready?>>

<<I would be if someone would just tell me how this combined spell of Adamant's is supposed to do what I'm told it's supposed to do,>> I replied, knowing that he could sense the edge of exasperation in my voice. I'd tried to damp my disquiet, but it was not working. In fact, I was feeling more and more edgy the more I thought about this.

<<I don't like it either,>> Malachite stated, answering my unverbalized thought. <<There is something just slightly odd about this, but I don't see what choice we have.

<<As I understand it, you have the easy part -- all you have to do is use the symbolic linkage between Crystal Tokyo and its ruler, and between the ruler and Phoebe's Ward, to expand the Ward's influence briefly and send the demon packing.>>

<<What will you be doing in the meanwhile?>> I asked.

Malachite's sigh echoed inside my head. <<I'm going to have to do something similar with the Negaverse and Adamant's Ward, but first of all I'm going to have to rearrange the magical flows within the Negaverse to get the strongest concentrations away from where the demon is centered.>>

<<Is that even possible?>>

<<If Adamant's spells perform as advertised, it ought to be. But I wish Zoisite were conscious. I'd like his analysis of all of this.>>

<<I would, too.>> I smiled a little as I made the statement. There was a certain incongruity in the idea that I actually wanted the little green-eyed devil to be able to participate in this. I still didn't really consider Zoisite a friend, but he was my Weavemate. That made him closer to me than a brother, even if we'd experienced a bit of, er, sibling rivalry on occasion.

There was a moment's silence, inside and out.

<<Hold yourself ready to strike,>> Malachite warned me. <<I'll tell you when. Kyanite, help him.>>

<<Of course, father.>>

Malachite didn't respond, and I more sensed than saw Kyanite flinch.

<<What do I do?>> I prompted the boy, as intent on distracting him as I was on making this work.

<<You're going to have to put yourself inside the structure of the Ward,>> Malachite's son stated after a moment -- or was it him? There seemed to be a faint echo shadowing his words, as though someone else's mindvoice was speaking not quite in time with his. <<Put your hand on his forehead, so that you're touching the crown and the crescent moon mark.>>

I obeyed.

<<Now sound out the crown. There should be a resonance, of sorts. Try to synchronize yourself with it.>>

A resonance? Well, that wasn't exactly the word I would have used. More like a whirlpool, sucking me down into a place that had never existed, and never would. Something's wrong. A mind-probe wasn't supposed to work like this! It had to be something to do with Phoebe's Ward. Serenity's brother hadn't bonded properly with it yet, and the demon was pressing against it from outside, trying to destroy it and let all the other demons free to assist it in its destruction, and the Ward was confused, and pulling in any compatible power source that was stupid enough to let it. Which meant me. There was a maze inside the mind that I was probing, and if I didn't act quickly, I was going to be trapped here along with him.

Goto Chapter 15


Back to Dark Kingdom Home | E.Liddell's DK Stories | Stayka's DK Stories | Other DK Stories


This page belongs to Stayka's Dark Kingdom Home at http://www.dark-kingdom.de

© by E. Liddell - Email: eliddell@despammed.com

Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!