It was perfect. Everything was right. The circle was measured and completed. The runes were checked, double checked, and checked ad infinitum. I had memorized the Latin, the Arabic counterspell, the Sanskrit counter-counterspell, and the Esperanto activation phrase. Demons get weird when they’re intelligent. It might just be a feature of this one; the King of all Demons. Mephistopheles.
They had tried to keep me down, given me pitiful “tutors” to keep me in check, but they failed! I took the books for advanced summoning, and found the mother of all rituals. They said I wasn’t ready for greater demons. Well, look who’s summoning the greatest demon of all!
I laughed out loud, almost dropping my spell book.
“Oops. Don’t want that to happen,” I said, giggling a bit, “but enough stalling! Time to make my name as the greatest demonologist of all time!”
“Ego istum contractum ut populus,” I began,
offerre magnum daemonem,
Mephistopheles, qui pacta infinitum facet.”
A dark mist began appearing in the center of the pentagram, swirling around in chaotic patterns. A chanting, complementary to my own began, in a thousand voices. I continued,
“Fabarum vocat ad latus edax!
O regis inflantes!
Princeps maximae parti,
adiuva me superare regem abscondita!”
The mist began taking a shape… no, shapes. It looked like a row of people stretching off into infinity. Wait… that shouldn’t be happening. I looked around frantically, trying to spot my error, and fix it before it was too late. The circle… fine, the pentagram… good. There! In the runes! I had written the rune for “From” wrong, and switched the two on it’s sides. Fuck. It was too late. I was fucked. Instead of writing, “I summon One from Many,” I had written, “I summon the Legion into One.” It was flawed. A small error, a small imperfection. But it screwed up everything.
“My Lord,” I said, bowing to the throne. A powerful voice boomed out,
“So, the conquered killer returns in shame. What happened to our hero killer?” Shadowy figures along the walls tittered. I gritted my teeth.
“I attempted to subdue the “hero” Zeta in his first stage, as a lone vigilante. I had him defeated, when his companion reappeared and manipulated his body. He defeated Krustallos and I easily with a power I’ve never heard of, then gave us a lecture. I have submitted my report, I believe.”
The man on the throne nodded.
“You have. I’m more curious about your second failure, when I authorized collateral damage to my territory. You sent an agent with… how many rogue demons? Four?”
“Only three, Your Majesty. The fourth was an agent to direct the others.” He waved, slightly annoyed.
“Fine, three demons that you can’t control. Tell me again how that failed?” I growled slightly.
He’s making you repeat your failures in front of all the highest members of The Court to embarrass you.
/I know that!/
Then don’t rise to the bait. Idiot human.
“The remora demon I placed to control the rogue ones was destroyed, with no damage to the rogues. The agent’s mind regained control, and decided to use the demons to assist the SVRA. However, if I’m given-”
“I beg your pardon, My Liege?”
“You’re taken off the assignment. You are no longer the prime striker against heroes.”
Stupid question. Because you failed.
/Shut up. Stop annoying me./
“Because you failed. There’s someone else. Stronger than you. Less distracted than you.”
He’s slightly annoyed with the newbie, but proud of his strength. A samurai? Some sort of mercenary, new. A definite rigorous feel from him. Code of honor.
He continued, “Ronin. Show yourself.” I heard a tap behind me, and whirled around. An asian-looking man… no, boy. Maybe a year or two older than me, but with a scruffy beard. He had long black hair, and a sheathed katana at his side.
He’s a demon-hater. He has powers, but supplements them. See his amulet? Strong power ratings. Same with the sword. See that, moron host?
/Of course I see the amulet! He’s not wearing a goddamn shirt! I’m not an idiot! I also know why he’s dressed in sweatpants! Want to hear a fucking over analysis of everything? He’s wearing those pants to provide ease of movement and slightly conceal his movements. Happy?/
Ronin spoke, a slight accent to his voice, “Demon bastard. If we did not serve the same shogun, I would take your head and feed it to the dogs.”
Oh, this is going to be a treat.
/SHUT. THE FUCK. UP. I JUST LOST MY GODDAMN JOB./
Our “Shogun” spoke up,
“I’m not done with you, Legion. In fact, I have a present, and a job. The king of gods gives gifts with one hand, and misfortune with the other, eh?”
Wow. That is a misquote on sooo many levels. He didn’t even mention urns.
“What is your will?” I asked, bowing my head and clasping my arm to my chest.
“Do you remember why you are working for me, Legion?”
“I serve My Lord for the sake of enacting his will-”
“No, the real reason,” he said, leaning forward on his throne. “Do you remember our bargain?”
The demons rushed into me, filling my body and mind with sensations. I was shuddering in fear, shivering in cold, sweating from extreme heat, and yet falling asleep. It was contradictory and impossible, and my mind tried to regain control. All the discipline that I had accrued from magic training was for naught. My voice was lost among the countless others in my head.
You’re tired… just lie down and nap…
/Stop it! Get… Get out of my-/
How’d you like to fuck a bloody corpse, mortal?
You’re a fucking ugly bitch. I want to stab you to death, and then play around with your blood.
/Stop it… no… fuck…kill…/
I was losing myself, losing my individuality, becoming one of the legion. Then, a voice, clearer than the rest, pierced through the fog.
Come on, mortal. That doesn’t sound like you. You call me here and can’t even hold a conversation? Hm… Icebreakers… icebreakers… got it. Care to make a bargain?
Suppressing my shudder at the memory, I nodded.
“You said you would help me suppress or remove the demonic energy from my body in return for my service.”
Psshht. Why would you want to do that? We made a bargain too, remember? And you got stronger out of mine, while he’s offering you weakness.
/He’s offering me peace./
“The time has come,” he boomed, holding up a small vial, “you will take one of these everyday while it is still effective. It will suppress your inner demons, and restore your appearance to normal.”
“While it is still effective?” I asked, raising my head. He glowered at me. “While it is still effective, sir?” He sat back, mollified.
“It is a temporary measure. It prevents the demons from expressing themselves, not from being there. It advances your symptoms, enhances your power when the time comes to fight. You are enrolled in South Haven High School, where we believe some members of the SVRA team attend. You will uncover their identities, destroy their lives… and let Ronin kill them. Do you understand?” I nodded. “Good. Your assignment begins in just under a mon-”
The door burst open, and a messenger ran in.
“My Lord! Giant and Mouse have been defeated!”
“What? Where are they? Did Rune intervene?”
“They-They’re dead, Your Honor! They were taken down and killed by Zeta and Selene only!”
He crossed his legs, resting his chin on his palm, and his elbow on the arm of this throne. “Interesting,” he mused, “I shouldn’t underestimate them.”
Rook and Knight take two pawns. That’s what he’s thinking. Time to send in two Bishops. You and Ronin, in case you were wondering, ignoramus.
“Legion, that will be all. You know who to talk to for assignment details.” I stood up, bowed, and walked out. As I did, the man on the throne stood up and gestured to someone hidden in the sides. They walked up to him, bowing and holding something flat. I heard two klinks as something dropped.
And King advanced his Bishops.
Stuff happening, loyal and traitorous readers alike! This is the first ??? section, so I’m going to explain the rules. Since you don’t technically know who the perspective is from, you have to guess. This one is easy. Others will be harder. ??? sections will be pretty rare, partially because it’s a pain in the ass to write when the perspective is a secret, and possibly because there are possible spoilers. The first person who comments correctly who the perspective is from, if they provide an email or a website with their contact information on it, will receive an email from the authors. You can ask for spoilers, ask to clear up mysteries, ask for true truths, and ask to expose lies! If an anon comments first, or we are unable to contact you, then there is nothing for anyone. This section is easy. Do good.