Saturday, January 1, 2011

Prologue: A Dark Alley

Edenion peered into the alley, straining his pointed ears. The shadows of the tall brick buildings to either side blotted out the perpetual twilight of Midway and created a nearly tangible darkness. These dark alleys were filled with terrors enough under normal circumstances; the supernatural creature he was chasing was just icing on the proverbial cake. He checked the knives tucked away in his long sleeves, their weight reassuring him somewhat.

Not that normal steel would be of much use against the being he hunted. His quarry was a demon, a kind of parasitic spirit that took control of its host and forced them to commit any number of heinous acts. These acts would then generate the negative emotions that were the demon's sustenance. The one was hunting in particular had a reputation as a cruel and dangerous creature, but that bounty had been far too much to pass up.

Besides, he had a trick up his sleeve. Or tucked into his belt, rather. A demon was insubstantial in their natural form, and if they were able to take a host, then normally the only way to force them out was to kill the poor sap the demon had taken. But there were exceptions, and Edenion was fortunate enough to have one with him. Not long ago, Spiritsbane, a heavy, curved dagger, enchanted to do harm to all manner of spirit and other non-corporeal beings, had just happened to come his way. He was now quite glad he'd held on to it.

Taking a deep breath, Edenion steadied himself. He needed to get moving. He reached for the light charm he had stashed in a pocket of his trousers, but then stopped, a better idea coming to him. He closed his eyes and reached out to his Source. With a pull, he began to draw magic into him, and the familiar feeling of fizzing in his veins started up. Not for the first time, he wondered if the feeling differed from Source to Source; he'd heard other magic users describe the feeling when they held magical power inside them as ecstatic. To him it was just irritating.

Light It Up!

He tried to speak the words of power quietly, but the magic took them, multiplied them. It was as if there were a hundred Edenions speaking in that alley. The magic took shape, guided by the words, and a halo of white light surrounded him. He kept a little of the power in reserve, ready for him to work into one of his offensive magics, trying his best to ignore the way it felt like the inside of his skin itched. Even the most drug-addled alley rat would hesitate to accost an obvious magic user, but Edenion's quarry might not have any such reservations.

He picked his way through the rubbish that was strewn about the alley, eyes darting too and fro. He was thus almost too preoccupied to notice the horrible smells that wafted from the piles of trash and other even less savory things. Almost.

He came to an intersection, and paused again, trying to divine which path the demon had taken. A flicker of movement to his left caused him to spin, bringing a knife up, ready to throw, in a movement born entirely of reflex. He stared into the black at the edge of his magical light, searching. Long moments passed, and just as he convinced himself that he was imagining things, he felt a chill on the back of his neck. The demon had circled around him.

Give in to me. The hissing words seemed to come from everywhere, but Edenion knew they were coming from inside his head. The demon was trying to break through his mental barriers and make him its new host.

I can give you pow– Edenion cut the demon off, literally. Wrenching Spiritsbane from its place on his belt, he whirled and slashed out blindly. He felt a slight resistance as the enchanted blade cut into the black, foggy mass that was the demon's form. There was no sound, but he felt the demon withdraw from his mind, and the fog flowed away as the demon fled. Edenion took off in pursuit. The demon moved deceptively quickly, and Edenion was forced to run to keep pace with it. He tried to herd the creature toward a dead end, harrying at it with Spiritsbane whenever it tried to veer away. He had devised a spell to capture the demon, but he needed it to hold relatively still long enough for him to cast it. With his left hand, he reached into a pouch on his belt and pulled out a small diamond.

Suddenly the demon halted. The alleyway had ended. Edenion feinted with Spirtsbane to keep the demon at bay as he reached out to his Source, drawing in the magical power he would need.

You're Mine, Suck–

A bright light suddenly filled the alleyway, and Edenion bit down on the words of power, nearly biting his tongue in the process. It was a portal opening. Two figures dropped into the muck of the alley with a squish.

Frantically, Edenion searched around for his target. “Shit!” he swore. The demon was gone. Either it had gone through the portal as it opened, or it had just escaped while Edenion was distracted. Whichever was the case, he was back to square one. Of all the bad luck....

Sighing, he went to check on the two. New Falls, from the graceful entrance they had made They were still laying in the muck, and didn't seem to have moved at all since falling in. “'Ey, you two breathin'?” It would just figure to have a couple corpses Fall in his territory. Then again, maybe they had a nice item or two he could go and pawn. Something to make up for losing his bounty.

There was no response from the two. Edenion stepped closer to bring them into his light. It. was a couple of girls. One was tall and skinny with a mess of short, dark hair. The other was shorter, well-endowed, and quite pretty, with red-blonde hair. Edenion whistled under his breath. He crouched down next to them and felt for a pulse from each in turn. They were both still alive, just unconscious from the looks of things. Falling through to Midway for the first time took some people like that.

Edenion frowned. He had his orders, but nothing said he had to report this to the Baron right this instant. And besides, he might be able to get some information about where the demon might have gone, if it had indeed gone through the portal to their Realm.

With that rationalization in mind, he puzzled over how to carry them both back to his shop. “Just who are you two, anyway?”

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