At that moment the doors to the
main house opened. An infuriated Dr. Maladar burst into the hall followed by a
“Mr. Branner! Do you mind
explaining what this street rat is doing in my house?!”
I see I touched a nerve. Seems to
be a good moment to put on my own facade. Let’s see if the doctor can pierce it
“I told you to just call me
Branner. And if you could explain the issue using a more civilized tone, I
would appreciate it.”
My posture straight, my gaze fighting
the owner of the house, I stand defiantly in front of the doctor. He was
understandably upset, but I needed this boy’s help.
“Mister Branner, this
young man has been more than a nuisance to my estate.” He came to a stop a
few paces from where I stood with my new assistant.
“He has forced his way onto
the premises without permission, stolen my property, caused untold destruction
in the area and from what I’ve been told, directly assaulted your persons! How
can you expect me to let such a boy free reign in my home?”
“That’s simple. I don’t.”
Con looks uneasy during all this.
More than uneasy. This poor child. I’ve had to take away his strength, put him
through the awkward position of walking among the people he has become so used
to seeing as enemies, and now he must endure the rage of Doctor Maladar
himself. This will not stand.
“Doctor, this boy can provide
valuable insight into this investigation. He has many talents like the ones
which enabled him to evade capture by your men for so long. And regardless of
his past, he has been officially hired on as my assistant. If you wish to keep
my services, you will accept that he will come along.”
“Yeah! Accept that!”
Well, Con was looking a bit less sheepish. Funny boy.
“You are trying my patience,
Branner. What gives you the right to talk to me in such a tone while you are a
guest in my house?” His steely gaze was still in full force, but I have a
hunch there isn’t much backing it up. Time for a gamble.
“Simple. You mentioned
yourself that there have been plenty to try their hand at solving your
particularly dangerous quandary. I am the first to prove there’s more to my
words than just air. I am the expert on these types of events. You called for
me. And while you’ve done much to hide your own feelings on the matter, you
truly believe I am the first person you’ve brought here with a chance of
helping you. So let me help you.”
I don’t believe it. The doctor
backed down. His stare broke and he glanced sideways momentarily. Alright, I
have the edge now. Time to bring it back. I turn to Con, who is looking
“But, as I said, I don’t
expect you to trust him. Measures have been taken to ensure he won’t step out
of line. In addition, he will only go where I go, sleep in my room and if you
do find him away from me, you may feel free to escort him off the premises,
never to be allowed back.”
The boy’s face went from joy to
horror in an instant.
“Branner! That ain’t
“Oh really now? And what did
you plan on doing that would take you away from my side, Con?” I glare at
him. He should know better than to complain. True, I don’t like the idea of
holding this boy’s own sense of normalcy over his head, but I have no choice.
Making peace between warring
parties is always more difficult than starting the war. Sometimes it takes
peace offerings. Sometimes it takes threats. And sometimes it completely fails
and you’re forced to run from an angry tribe while they burn your formerly
Con just looked a bit upset. I will
make it up to him. Someway. I really do feel bad about this, but I’m afraid I
don’t have the luxury of playing nice in this situation. I turn my attention
back to the doctor. His eyes have the similar sense of betrayal that Con’s had.
Stay strong. I can’t let their emotions jeopardize the safety of everyone else.
Show of force.
“Now, Doctor Maladar, if
you’re quite through, I will need to examine your library. The room where Mr. Patrik
was held. The one with the flying books.” I shoot a glance over at Con.
His eyes light up. Now he knows what I meant.
“Branner, if you really expect
The doctor is interrupted by the
sound of rushing wind and the whole hall goes dim for a mere second. It
appeared as if a large shadow passed by, outside the windows. Everyone in the
area is struck with silence. We all turn and looked where it came from, but
whatever is was, it is gone.
housemaid screams out.
Well, that didn’t last long.
One of the men at the doctor’s side
went to go comfort her. I look around. The beasts were gaining in strength, but
they still can’t leave the house. That shadow wasn’t coming from outside,
blocking the sun. They are creatures of darkness, possibly lacking a full
But their power radiates that
darkness, like a reverse light. So the being must be on the other-
“Branner, now’s not a good
time be in here.”
I turn back to Con. His eyes are
filled with absolute fear. He is staring at the ceiling on the opposite wall
where the shadow was only moments before. One of the demons was in the room
with us. I now knew where it was. Everyone in the house was counting on me to
I just wish I knew what.
Doctor Maladar turns and sees me
looking the opposite way.
“Branner… what are
“Doctor, I need you to get
everyone out of here right now.”
“Of course, but-“
I turn behind me.
“Con, tell me if it
“Oh it’s movin’ Branner. Right
for the door!”
No time. I need to react. I reach
into my pocket and grab the octagonal talisman from before. Pointing it at the
door, I begin the chant.
“The darkness prevails.
Exposed to the-“
“Look out, Branner!” Con
screams. I hesitate.
The unseen creature knocked me
down. The talisman flies out of my hand. Curses. At least the demon is out of
“Now, Doctor! Get them
“Above you!” I quickly
roll to the side just in time to see a huge crack appear in the floor. Con is
I look to the door to see the last
of Maladar’s people leave. The demon tried to crush me. He’s favoring physical
attacks. The conjuring magic he used before must take time. And to affect the
physical world without being fully summoned takes concentration. Those are my
only saving graces.
At the very least, this limits the
damage he does. Well, to an extent. I need a distrac-
“BRANNER! Would ya unseal my
Oh right. Con. At least this
doesn’t require a chant. I extend my hand and focus on the ring. I feel it
click and a rush of smoke flows from the ring over the boy’s body. As it
settles, Con falls to his knees. He looks up, a sparkle in those violet eyes of
his. A grin comes across his face. He stands up and tosses his wild hair behind
“Hey there, ugly! Ya mind
taking a break to let me whoop yer ass?” He jumps and catches on to the invisible
He starts flailing around as the
demon tries to shake him off. Now’s my chance. I run and grab the talisman off
the floor. I point it up at the monster, trying to aim without hitting Con.
With his half-demon physiology, the blast would be painful. And assuming it
hits only him, that would leave me alone to face an opponent I can’t see.
“Con! Try to hold him in one
The boy is thrown from the beast.
He goes flying against a wall and is left embedded in it.
“…sure thing… just let me
try askin’ nicely…”
“Do what you can. Tell me when
he’s between me and you.”
I point the disc at the wall and
restart my chant.
“The darkness prevails.
Exposed to the light
falls before the veil
As I prepare my spell, Con pries
himself out of the wall and falls to the ground. He looks up, sees something
and jumps out of the way. A loud crash is heard as the windows around the wall
shatter. The boy disappears as he turns into that energy form from earlier. He reappears
on other side of his opponent and changes back and climbs up the side of the
Con starts flailing back and forth
through mid-air again.
“Alright Branner! In about two
seconds here, you’re gonna get your shot. Better make it count.”
I aim for Con and try to keep the
energy in the talisman held back. Con is trying to hit something on top of the
demon. I can’t tell what, but-
Con’s hand squishes into the
creature’s head, yellow liquid squirting out.
Oh. He was aiming for an eye. The
creature roars in agony as he throws Con off again. The wound gives me
something to aim for.
I release the pent-up energy right
at the floating wound. The beam slams into the invisible beast. The hit sends a
shudder of energy throughout the creature, outlining it. The demon is a half
humanoid, half serpent. The upper body has four arms and the head and back are
covered in spikes. He’s a large beast, easily taking up most of the height of
this massive entry hall.
Our opponent lets out another
massive roar and vanishes. I can only guess he changed into a similar wisp form
as Con. He’ll go somewhere secluded to lick his wounds. Meanwhile, we need to
do the same. More importantly, we need to find the altar where the summoning
ritual was performed.
are you alright?”
“Yeah, I think. Is the room spinning for you too?”
say yes. I’ll have someone bring you water. When you’re ready, we need to
investigate those flying books. As a matter of fact, we need to look into most
of the occurrences that happened upstairs. I think they were caused by the
“Going from one to the next? You want I should fight the next one