Thousands of questions flashed through my mind, the foremost being a question of where this boy learned such a dark art. But I must delay that, and learn exactly what was his pact.
“Lance, this is important. What was promised to the beast in return for his false loyalty?”
He turned to the other two in the room, looking to them as if he sought a way to escape through them.
“I said, this is important. Please, answer the question.”
The boy sighs, head drops in shame.
“I never wanted these horrible events to happen. I thought I could fix this and get him out before anything happened.”
“Lance, I need to know, what was your pact?”
I give him some time as he builds up the courage to speak.
“I promised him my innocence.”
…This must be a joke.
“Lance, how does it expect you to give such a non-substantial thing?”
“I didn’t think I would. But I’ve noticed over the course of this horrendous event, I’ve experienced such things that I cannot imagine I’d have gone through otherwise.”
He walks a little bit away. I keep watch, ensuring he doesn’t try to edge closer to the door.
“Innocence isn’t something so non-substantial. To demons, it can provide untapped power. I was a fool. By enacting the ritual, I started down the path of guilt. My wonder was replaced with a dark reality. And it culminated in the death of my brother, Mars.”
I am finding myself more and more perplexed. My studies were more on the material reality of demonic beings. To think they could draw power from a concept is baffling to me. Is it a trick? Is it a lie?
Nothing to do but trust it if it’s the truth, and play along until I can figure it out if it isn’t.
“How do we keep him from taking it then? I can’t save us if we have a fully powered demonic entity destroying everything.”
Con offers his two cents. And he had a valid point.
“Then why don’t we get to the part of this where we stop that from happening? Who brought the other big bad beastie here?”
“Yes. Additionally, Lance why would you think to summon a second demon? Where did you learn of such a technique?”
That question perks the boy’s interest.
“An old book. I had found it a long while back buried among the dusty shelves of the library.”
As Lance recounted his story, I looked around. Something is off-putting. Dusty shelves?
“I didn’t think much of it, until I tried one of the spells is listed. Turned a yellow flower bright blue. But it wasn’t until much later, I thought of its true use. I learned that someone was summoning a demon. And… it… was…”
What is Lance doing? Something is wrong. Why can I not see it? What is interrupting my thought process?
“Who was it?”
What was Lance doing?
“I-I can’t remember…”
Lance is struggling as much as I am. This should be an important fact. Something he could easily remember. He brought forth a deadly monster because of this fact, and yet he doesn’t remember who did this?
“Con, break the circle.”
“Con, Break. The. Circle.”
My cohort looked over at the spirit of Marcellus. The chalk circle encompassing it.
“But Branner, you said the circle holds him together. Won’t he dissipate?”
“He’s being held together by the spell, yes, but there’s something else with him. I do not believe the delay in the initial curse breaking was a coincidence. There’s something worse in play here. Break the circle!”
Con finally responds and runs to the circle. He hesitates for a moment, but succeeds in wiping part of my chalk away, breaking my spells.
The light is blinding. The power that was poured into maintaining the spells now shines to every corner of the room and smothers all sound.
As it dies down and dissipates, I’m greeted by an astounding sight. Marcellus still stands in his translucent humanoid form. Con and Lance are staring at the rest of the room open mouthed. And I can’t really blame them.
Before us lay the library. The whole library.
It was hidden by a spell, tucked in with the spirit of Marcellus. While my brain is still foggy, there is something cleared. The pieces put together in my mind.
The double doors that led into a smaller room than expected. A lack of windows when this room is on the edge of a building. The pause before my spell enacting, bouncing off the powerful illusion. Everything finally made sense.
And good lord, was it terrifying.