After Venu tucked Sari to bed and made sure that Mika was comfortable, he went in the direction of his own room.
The story had been fantastic…intriguing… dark… and made Venu conscience stricken. While entities like half-breeds had no warrant for being ostracized, Venu was something else entirely- and it made him feel… like he was….
He sighed. He knew that he belonged amongst the the outcasts- but he still wanted to be normal.
He walked to the bed and scanned through the dresser.
“The demon-kin war. Demons were our greatest enemy…”
Venu pulled out a few different garments. Looking at the room- it was definitely Luxurious, Big, Open, and Dark. Venu hated the dark.
Venu had a secret.
From the looks of it- Aarock knew Venu’s secret: or at least sensed… something- and as he did once before- Aarock would make time and punish the abominations. He was just awaiting the chance. Venu feared that time.
He looked at the bed and sighed again. Despite being so big and open – it made him feel lonely. He was scared of the dark. He wished he’d been paired up with someone- but it wasn’t something he was about to ask.
By candlelight he had pushed back the darkness into the corners… and yet… another form of darkness enveloped him. He knew he would have to blow out the candle one time or another.
He crawled into the bed, shifting the candle beside him on a drawer. This was the moment he dreaded. The moment he would have to blow out the candle and await the trauma of the night.
He took in a breath and blew out the candle. As soon as he did- a familiar darkness grabbed him. Thoughts and voices of his past. Cold sweat drizzled across him as the room itself seemed to enclose upon him. And then… something else- familiar but not..
“Who’s there?” Venu spoke.
From a moving shadow in the corner a familiar presence appeared.
“I sense you have a unique magic,” a voice spoke from the shadows. Venu looked into the corner to see a silhouette of a woman via moonlight.
“What’s your name?” Venu responded.
“Eryu,” as the appearance of a barely dressed beautiful woman came to him from the shadow.
“A demon…” Venu responded bored, “…show your true form to me…”
Eryadin shrugged as the beautiful barely dressed woman that stood before him became a ghastly appearance.
“My true form is ethereal…” The demon frowned.
“Fine,” Venu responded, “but pick something less… showy.”
“Heh,” the demon responded as a new form showed itself- a more covered figure.
“So…Why a woman?”
“People are less likely to reject me.”
Venu laughed, “So what was it you wanted demon? To offer me a deal?” he spoke the last part with a little scorn.
The demon was taken aback, “As one of the greater demonos – I could offer you a great many opportunities.”
Venu sensing the emotions of the demon were more obligation rather than sincerity.
“Hmm? Sorry, but I don’t care for dealing with demons.”
“Oh? Even if I can give you something you crave?”
“The only thing I crave is to live a life of peace…” Venu sighed, “apart from the curse that follows me.”
Eryu was having trouble finding a weakness in this boy- but figured he could pry out an opening with this.
“Have you been having a restless sleep?” Eryadin responded with the face of the woman looking motherly.
Venu tried hiding his true feelings on the matter, “What of it?”
“What if you weren’t burdened by a curse?”
Venu recognized that it was a trap: this was a moment when the Demon would ask for something in exchange.
“If you could only make that happen…”
“Allow me to control your heart, and your pains will go away…”
The demon realized that it would have to give a little to entice Venu.
“Hmm… a sign of good-will…” the woman pulled something out of deep pockets, “I’ll give you a magic object – it should help you relax.”
An orb materialized in the woman’s hands. It looked to be filled with some power. She set it on the mantle next to Venu’s bed.
Venu knew that the demon was telling the truth- somehow that this object would help his restless sleep…
Rather than simply accept the orb however…
“Aren’t you the same demon who just betrayed the wizard we fought?” Venu took the orb into his hands as if to get a sense for it.
The demon looked at Venu intrigued, and replied sincerely.
“You could tell?”
“That’s a part of my magic I guess,” Venu responded bored. “Tell me why I should trust a demon that’s already betrayed its master. Lying to me won’t work either.”
“Now I’m honestly intrigued by you…” The demonos spoke under its breath, “Is it truly betrayal if it was never a pact? But let me tell you why I would abandon him. One- my master is the demon lord.
– Lucifer- and not the wizard. I simply gave the wizard some insight and powers because it was Lucifer who assigned me to support him.”
Somehow, Venu sensed that this was true to a point- however, the Demonos was definitely hiding something. What was it hiding he wondered.
“This wizard was nothing but greedy, ruthless, and tactically stupid- i lent him my powers for naught and I owed him nothing- because I was finally allowed to- I left him.”
Venu sensed that the story was mostly true- even if there were a hidden secret inside of it somewhere. The demon it seemed had no interest in matters of greed.
The woman crossed her leg on a chair beside him, “may I ask- what magic is it that you have young one? You seem blessed.”
Venu scoffed at the word. A blessing? “I only have a curse,” he spoke aware that the conversation could be entrapment, “I am filled with a darkness I try and maintain- and the only benefit is to distinguish other forms of darkness around me.”
“You seem to be mistaken- there is magic in you whether or not you realize…” The demon once again spoke to Venu’s pride, “I would that you realized its potential… take the orb and you should or now, there is no catch…”
Venu knew better, however, “There is a catch…” Venu spoke, “what is it?”
The demon upon realizing any untruth would not go unnoticed and that a pact could be lost in an instant, changed tactics, “My Lord, Lucifer, upon realizing your potential- has sent me to gain your support at any cost.”
“And… I’m willing to wait and do my duty by any means necessary-/-… It’s why I was tasked with the assignment.”
“Ah…” Venu responded. “So you’d help me now- and wait for a time of weakness to gain control.”
The demon was silent… This young boy, through magic or otherwise, already discerned Erya’s method already. Something that the wizard through his pride, was unable to distinguish even after two-hundred years.
Erya could see the gears turning as Venu tilted his head in thought. The demon had never met someone with such potential. Erya’s master did have a knack for recognizing potential.
Venu spoke, “What sort of demon are you? Some demons are lustful- some are prideful- some are greedy- I’d like to know which one I’m talking to. I’m sure you weren’t cast down for your patience.”
The demon responded, “Pride.”
“Tell me more.”
“My true name is Eryadin.”
“Eryadin?!” Venu responded, “Wouldn’t that make you the demon of opportunity? One of the most powerful demons…”
“At one time I was a ruler- yes.”
Eryadin looked at Venu as he suddenly changed to a more confident smile.
“It’s fine then. I’ll take the orb… and test it.”
This throwing caution to the wind surprised Eryadin, “Why the change in heart?”
“Well- I think I have the advantage in any treaty we made…” Venu responded, “for one- I can distinguish lies told to me. For two, you aren’t a demon that desires to deceive me in the first place…”
Venu took up the orb and at once a dark mist seemed to be released from him into the orb.
“Oh,” the demon responded upon seeing the event.
“Ah..” Venu smiled wryly, “you noticed…”
The demon was silent. Erya suddenly had a clearer picture of the young boy now. The curse, the awareness of him, and his hesitation to reveal his restless sleep.
“Is it difficult?” Erya asked.
“It is what it is,” Venu turned away from Erya who vanished into the orb itself.
“As long as I am with the orb, it will allow me to talk with you…” The demon spoke, “to activate- [intake] to deactivate [release]. If it works for you- let us make a pact.”
Venu looked away from the Demon. His abominable secret had been revealed once again.
“…For now, let me control your energies.”
“Fine,” Venu responded, “I’ll let you control the darkness for a little while…” Venu spoke with a heavy heart as he spoke the word “[intake]”. The orb absorbed into his hand. Where it went- was anyone’s guess.
“Hm…” the demon vanished, “As long as I remain within the orb- you will be able to speak with me…”
Venu knew that accepting Erya was wrong. Demons always had reasons for making pacts. Aqayans themselves were the natural enemy of demons. He also assumed that given enough time, there
may be a time of weakness that he would falter to the demon. All the flattery in the world wouldn’t change the truth. Upon Aarock having already seen Venu’s secret however- upon looking at
Aarock’s resolve- that told him in a moment’s notice, Aarock would cut him down. There wasn’t much opportunity besides this. Despite being an abomination- He still wanted to live.
Meeting Eryadin at this time was surely an opportunity for both parties. Eryadin was well known as a demon of opportunities for good reason.
There was a reason he and his mother left the village when they were young. His mother was an Aqayan. His father was a demon-kin.
Aqayans were ‘Light-bearers’ and yet he had darkness residing inside. They two natures were bound to conflict inside of him.
Growing up, Venu exhibited no Aqayan powers and darkness seemed to follow his steps. It wasn’t intentional, but being involved with other Aqayan youths- something bad always tended to happen.
No matter what he tried to escape it- his heart was always encompassed by darkness- at war with the Aqayan side of him. When demon-kin had children- the child would receive a quarter of the demonic nature.
He almost wanted to cry. The story Aarock told the group during the supper was one in which demons were the enemy. The group had been filled with righteous fury against the demons- the terror to humanity and Elfa alike. What would they think of Venu if they knew of his secret? He knew that he should be grateful to Aarock for his silence on the matter. Aarock very well could have spoken out and pointed a finger at Venu- but kept it in. The look he received told him- I know your secret. The moment your darkness controls you- I will slay you without remorse.
Even still- for the first time in a long time- he was able to be free of the darkness that he struggled with. Tonight he slept in peace.
Venu woke up rested.
“Release,” he spoke and the orb that had become part of him through the night- came out. Gratefully- the orb itself also materialized in front of his chest into extended hands.
Regardless of his magic or the ability to distinguish a lie- there was still the moment of truth of whether something was truly what was spoken or a lie. He moved upon faith that his confidence was well placed.
He moved the orb –setting it on the dresser beside.
“Demon…” he spoke.
The demon it seemed had rested alongside him inside of the orb, “Yes?”
“Let’s form the pact.”
“So this soul-binding…” Venu had been asking Eryadin questions non-stop with Eraydin patiently responding. Had it been a different demon – it could perhaps have gone much worse.
“If you soul-bind with me- we will remain connected for eternity… you will gain my powers.”
Venu’s life was already considered abomination- at least a quarter demon. To soul-bind with one… would it make him more evil?
“You are wondering how you’ll change if you do so,” the demon spoke, “You will become one with me and I with you through a link.”
“How about a link that lasts until death rather than eternity?” Venu voiced his thoughts aloud. At the very worst- at least he would have a slim chance of not being eternally damned.
“What else…” Venu thought.
“Would that nullify your service to Lucifer or cause me to become a servant?”
“What if that were a condition of you forming a contract with me? Did he not say that you could do ‘anything’ to gain my support?”
Venu wasn’t impulsive. Rather- he was considering all aspects of forming a treaty. If he could manage to take advantage of it- he would.
Venu began to discuss the contract.
“So in forming a contract with me- you have the potential to break a contract with lucifer…”
Eryadin looked at Venu. The kid was smart. Eryadin himself had considered this- but attempted to keep it a hidden aspect of the deal he made with Venu.
“Which means…” Venu thought, “You actually have a lot to gain from forming a pact with me…on the other hand. Sleep is relatively small compared to an eternal freedom from servitude.”
Eryadin didn’t want to be outdone, or lose his advantage, but was also willing to negotiate, “you could say that a restful sleep is key to successful day.”
“Not bad, not bad,” Venu posed. “Really though- I’d prefer getting more out of a deal if I make one with you.”
“I can offer you more of my powers…”
“Hmm,” Venu thought, “Nah.”
“what is it you want?”
Venu replied, “What I want is this – to be your master as long as I’m alive as in… authority over shared emotions or thoughts- and freedom from our soul-bound pact after I die. Just in case my soul remains untarnished…”
Eryadin was a demon of opportunities. Venu’s demands definitely posed a challenge, but he was right- Erya still had more to gain from the treaty if formed under these conditions. It was definitely mutual.
More than this- Erya was intrigued by the prospect of working alongside Venu. Venu showed great potential- much more than he realized himself. It would be a lifelong pact with someone he’d actually be able to have a conversation with rather than some foolish greedy wizard.
Venu stroked his chin, “So. What do we do to break the master bond to Lucifer?” Venu asked sincerely.
“It would break my contract to contradict my master’s wishes- telling you…”
What is something I can do to ‘support you supporting Lucifer?”
“Well, one of our jobs is to gain the souls of others.”
Venu didn’t like the idea.
He paced for a moment in thought, “Aha!”
The demon figured that Venu realized a workaround.
“In helping you form a treaty with me, I am helping you complete your mission for Lucifer … So in that regard- we could consider it ‘support’ and if the conditions of the pact require your release from servanthood- it will fulfill the pact.”
The demon once again had been surprised by the young man.
“Is there any way to break the soul-bind that I already have connected to me?”
“That, I can’t say,” Erya responded, “the creator would know.”
Venu thought about it, it seemed that at least pacts were held to the letter by demons: so the most advantageous would be those who cautiously considered the pact.
After negotiating the treaty for the next half hour or so and with Venu able to use his magic to manage any loopholes – it melted down to something like this:
“I support Lucifer in forming a treaty with you under the condition that your service to Lucifer is voided. In accepting you in a soul-bound pact under the condition the soul-bound bond is broken after my physical death. Until the day of my physical death… you will remain a faithful servant to me: without rights to supersede my will without my consent- In return I will honor Eryadin’s wish for freedom from servanthood once the soul-bound pact has been broken…”
The pact included other details regarding abilities lent and authorities given and not…
“I do so agree.”
“Very well- the pact is formed.”
A rush of wind it seemed formed around the two as a connection between two souls bonded. Thankfully, through negotiations- Erya had no awareness to Venu’s emotions and thoughts.
Despite not having the freedom that Eryadin wished for immediately- Eryadin was content. The next cycle of his life would definitely be an adventure.
Despite not having the normal authority in a soul-bind- From Erya’s perspective Erya would be free to become a ruler of the demon realm after the pact finished –which could be considered a great ‘opportunity’.
“Yes master?” the shape of a very capable young butler bowed, “And feel free to call me Erya or Eryadin…”
“I do not want to forget your true nature…” Venu spoke in response to the latter part of the last sentence.
“We must travel a great distance with my companions… I cannot have you getting caught by them.”
“Very well.” The demon bowed.
The demon then became an ethereal form and a miniature whirlwind seemed to escape out the window.
“I will find you in Elon’dara…” the demon spoke. The orb itself remained on the mantle- however Venu knew that it would have no impact while the demon was apart from it.
“I guess it’s completed,” Venu thought aloud.
A deal with a demon.
He looked outside the window to a cloudy sky.
Narika overlooked the balcony in an attempt to get a good view of the countryside. As he approached the railing, he felt a jolt as two fingers poked him on each. Narika spun around noticing Elera jump backwards. Her feet crossed and her hands were behind her back.
“Hey,” she spoke.
He sighed. Seeing her and all his current built up worries melted, “Hey.”
It had been a while since they got to spend time together.
“Finally…” He breathed after seeing her.
She moved in closer. He wasn’t sure why at first until her arms wrapped around him.
“You did well,” She spoke.
He wrapped his own arms around her in response. After a moment in stillness, they mutually stepped backwards.
“So,” he said with a smile.
“So,” she spoke countering his own.
“I know I haven’t know you long…but I’ve got the feeling that you’re kind of the only one I’ll ever want to be with.”
“Wow,” she replied, “you just went and said it.”
Narika stretched for a moment, “yeah…I don’t know, there’s a long road ahead for us, but I feel like as long as you’re with me… I could take on the world.”
“Wow- take on the world?” she replied with mock surprise. She opened her eyes and mouth wide as if she were expecting him to attempt world conquest.
He scratched his head with a hand, “don’t joke…”
He looked out into the distance getting a picturesque view of the surrounding countryside. In the distance beyond the forest, he saw rolling hills. He could see the beginnings of the desert somewhere in the middle of the ocean and the hilltops. It seemed like there was almost an entire world in that view.
“I know we’re pretty young…and this is probably too early to ask… Aqayans live a thousand years, and it’s only been fifteen for us….i know that we haven’t had much time to…”
She put a finger to his lips and then pulled it back and stood in front of him with arms behind and feet crossed.
“-but I don’t want to be without you on this journey…” until that moment- they’d simply been two souls with a similar objective.
“Ugh, I wish I knew how to put this,” Narika responded. Literature had never been his long suit. How could he tell the most amazing, most beautiful, girl in the world how he felt and not screw it up?
“Would you stay with me?”
She look at him and shrugged. That was definitely not the response he’d hoped for.
A blank expression covered her face, “Of course I’ll stay with you.”
Before he could process the words, she continued, “We’re friend right? Until we beat Ka’atra- we’re going to beat Ka’atra together right?”
Narika nodded in agreement until he processed the second part and suddenly his heart dropped in his chest. Friends was definitely NOT what he meant.
“Wait… friends?” Narika responded- he thought he made it pretty clear… his heart was pounding in his chest at the misunderstanding.
She pulled up beside him and whispered in his ear, “just kidding.”
Once again his heart lifted up in his chest. But he wasn’t sure if he should kiss her or if he should give her a noogie. He figured he’d even it out. He turned himself in her direction. Held her face close to his, kissed her surprisingly and then pushing her back a few inches, pinched her cheeks apart in frustration. Afterwards he turned back to the railing and looked out into the distance.
“Sorry- I had to tease you at least once before… if what you’re saying is…” she paused and whispered the last part, “we’re together for the rest of our lives.”
He sighed and looked at her with a smile. She nudged her way close to him and leaned her head against his shoulder.
They stood there for a few moments taking in the horizon.