“But you know I’m a demon!”
“Yes, yes, we just went over that.”
“No, but why? Why trust me to help you?”
I give a small smile. He may not be educated, but he’s still intelligent. I’ve been excited over his condition, not angry. Nor fearful. Nor have I blamed him or accused him of the going-ons. He knows I know something else.
“You are powerful beyond that of a grown man and were able to break my sealing spell. You may thieve, but from what you’ve said, it was merely to feed yourself, and I’ve no grudge against one trying to survive. Besides, if you join me, you won’t have to worry about going hungry anymore.”
He looks me over considering my offer.
“And what if I says ‘no’?”
I give a moment to consider how I will phrase my answer.
“Then you be turned over to the head of the household, who will likely see you arrested. While I imagine with your abilities it would be easy to escape, your life on the streets is all you shall find again. I would ask, that in return for keeping your secret, you don’t come back to the manor until I’ve finished up here.”
“When ya put it like that, how can I say no?”
Good. This boy is an entirely different mystery altogether. Demon half-breeds are rare, but to be human as well is truly unheard of. That said, he is part demon, and I should take some sort of precaution.
I turn to my bags in my room and start sifting through them. Trinkets and tools are laid out upon my bed as I try to find the ring. I’ve not had a chance to use it, especially since most demons aren’t human shaped, but I suppose now is as good a time as any.
There it is! I pull a small bronze ring from the bottom of my bag. The metal is tarnished and the largest stone is missing from the inset, but it should still be potent enough for what I need.
I turn back to Con who is staring horrified at the item in my hand.
“I’ll need you to wear this band. It was originally designed to compel complete obedience from dark creatures. The loss of the centerpiece, along with your half-human physiology should weaken it enough that I can keep you in line while you maintain some independence.”
His eyes were glued to the ring through my entire explanation. He can feel the power emanating from the ring, like it’s calling out to him.
And he is afraid.
“That thing… it hates me.”
What? What was he saying? I myself could feel the power in the ring, but I didn’t think it had a mind to feel.
“No. I don’t wanna wear it!”
“NO!” he screams
His arms started pulling at the ropes binding him. The rope was enchanted and should be impossible for him to break. But then, the same could be said of the sealing spell from earlier. Still, he’s not angry, not drawing on that extra power. He’s scared. I never considered this possibility.
“I’m sorry, Con. This will be over in a moment.”
I grab his hand. He struggles more. The chair is moving back, and his fingers tighten in. It takes a bit of fighting but I get the ring on his hand.
There’s a flash of light from the ring and then darkness. The boy screams in pain. I can’t see. I smell smoke. Brimstone. I can hear a dark cackling. A third presence in the room. In an instant, everything settles. I look over Con and stagger back.
His eyes are brown.
“I dun feel right…” he says before passing out.
I look at the ring on his finger. There’s a black gem in the centerpiece position where there wasn’t before.
What did I do?!
Remain calm Branner. It’s likely the ring didn’t hurt the boy. Likely. The question still stands: What did it do?
All the lore surrounding it said the small piece of jewelry enabled the owner to control demonic forces. I assumed this put some kind of command spell over the beast, but that is obviously not what happened.
Instead, I received a wonderful light show, complete with odd sensations and mad laughter. Whatever happened here, it was not something positive. I don’t think anyway. It feels… wrong. Evil. And this is coming from a man who has toyed with powerfully nasty forces.
Con starts waking again. Let’s see how he’s doing.
“Con. Are you alright? Con?”
“My head hurts.”
“I apologize for that. How do you feel? You mentioned feeling odd before passing out.”
His eyes look unfocused. I would like to pretend he was uninjured. That he will phase out of this state, but I cannot know for sure.
“It’s like, I dunno. I feel so much less. Like my head shrank. And…”
He vomits. And here I really liked these shoes.
“I’m ok. Just needed to get that out.”
No time to be upset. I must figure out what happened here. I can’t let this become a distraction while I investigate the rest of the house. I untie Con and help him to his feet. He certainly did not seem stable, but he insisted on standing on his own. I suppose there is one thing I could try though.
“Con, I am sorry for this mess. I’m going to see if I can undo whatever I did by taking off the ring. Are you ready?”
“Ha! I completely forgot I was wearin’ it. Go right ahead. Anything to stop me from feelin’ so damn pathetic.”
I reach down and feel my finger brush the new black gem in the ring. Before I can move further, the gem disperses and quickly flows around its wearer. Con’s head flies back a little bit while the gem particulates settle in on his body, seemingly flowing into him and disappearing. When his head comes back down, that glorious violet color has overtaken his eyes once more. He brushes me off and stands up straight, stretching his back and neck out.
“GAH! That’s right! I feel fantastic!”
The ring was meant to control monsters. Could it be?
“Well Con, I think I know what happened.”
“Don’t matter too much to me, sir. See, I feel better and I’m free as a bird. I’ll be leavin’ now.”
I hold out my hand and concentrate. I’m not sure which is worse, being right or wrong. Focusing on the gem, I push a small amount of power out to the trinket. I can feel it trigger, as dark energy swirls and flows out of the young man and back into the shape of a gem in the ring. Con doubles over from the sudden transformation.
“Wha- What didja do to me?”
“I’m going to be blunt: I believe you were just made human.”