Arachnid Goddess 2

Strange mature journeys in the world of Xibalba

137. Inner Darkness

posted 16th Mar 2020, 3:15 AM

137. Inner Darkness
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16th Mar 2020, 3:15 AM

Chernobog

It went as Metis said. The angel was easily found in the gloomy air of the swamp, sitting under a tree in a modest clearing. "You're up, Tulsan," Karolina said, staring irritably at the unaware thief.

He nodded. Taking a few spears in a palm, he slunk into the taller grasses and occasional rocks of the clearing, slowly flanking his way to the angel's position, with crouched, stealthy movements. It was likely how he hunted on land against animals.

Metis continued to dangle quietly just over the angel's head, giving Karolina a constant up close perspective through her mind's eye. As a familiar, she could do little else to help at her rather small size.

Within minutes, Tulsan skulked behind a tree where the angel sat. Metis peered at him, allowing Karolina to get his direct perspective. Realizing what the spiderling was doing, Tulsan pointed at his spear tips and then to the angel, making a questioning gesture to Metis, and thusly Karolina. He had no compunctions about considering this being to be less than sacred. The idea of angels meant nothing in particular to Xibalbans or most of the remaining humans. The name itself was simply a description, rather than implying anything holy. Whether this angel once meant something, it was unknown. But they knew she was a thief and that would not be tolerated.

Karolina, by proxy of Metis, shook her head no. She still didn't want the angel killed. Tulsan had no particular interest personally. He just wanted to be certain. Seeing how close he snuck up, he placed his javelins behind him in the grass, gently. And with a quick lunge from her situational blind spot, he grabbed her, trapping her in a headlock with a grip that suggested he could snap her neck.

She yelped and thrashed for a moment, before realizing her predicament. "Wha-?! Who are-?"

"Try to fly or make any aggressive action, and that's it," he snarled, applying pressure. "You won't do either fast enough." It was a bluff meant to intimidate her as Karolina began to walk across the field to meet. Fortunately, it was convincing. He could feel the angel wasn't physically strong. Maybe it was a trait flyers like her and Astrile had in common, that some strength had to be abandoned to stay light enough to fly.

"Alright... just tell me what you want," she said.

"You'll find out in a moment. Shut it until then," Tulsan growled under his breath, trying not to make loud noises to attract anything else out here.

As Karolina approached, she extended one hand to let Metis rest upon it, while the other raised the spade and pointed the sharp tip to the angel's lower chin, implying her throat could be easily slit.

Tulsan thought little of this, as it seemed to be more intimidation appropriate to interrogating a thief. Yet when he looked up at Karolina, the shadows from under her witch's hat seemed to bathe her in jet darkness. Further, her eyes were glowing red. The combination of the two unsettled him. He didn't know her well yet, but the look was discomforting, as if Karolina had been holding back something. If it was an act, it was a convincing one.

"You have a name, thief?" Karolina asked coldly.

"Huh? It's... Amare."

"You targeted my spell book while I was distracted. Why? It has no value to you. The spells within only keyed only to me. And you have a blinder on your eyes. Why did you pretend to read it?"

"It is true. I cannot read the magick within this book, short of a miracle. But I can see in ways you cannot. Life, magical essence, auras, shapes... your vision is likely worse than mine, if you understood."

"You did not answer my question fully. Why?"

"Because it is a gift of Chernobog. I can sense him within it, in the many ways you could only dream of. He chose you as a student. But this gift is squandered on you. You could not possibly love and admire him as I do. It should be mine and mine alone. If I had the book, he would surely sense my appreciation and allow me to serve him. And in turn, perhaps I would be granted the witch sight that grants those like you to comprehend it's secrets."

Karolina stared for a moment. This angel was some kind of fanatical fan of her patron? That was the entire reason? To think, she almost lost her entire ability to learn magic because of some klepto fan girl??

In truth, Karolina had very little understanding of Chernobog beyond him being a symbol of the magick within the book, and perhaps herself. She thought back to the story Bali told her before they parted, such as how her earlier life as Kara, who correctly read her Aunt Ruukunda's obsession with Chernobog's magick, using the fact to separate her and her then nemesis Bali, so that the latter could be isolated and defeated.

Karolina didn't know what, if anything wanted with her, other than to supposedly keep practicing magick. He never interacted or appeared with her, but she was also less than aware of all the times a black hand with an eye in it, would sometimes appear during her spell usage in earlier scuffles. He was always watching the shovel witch.

Scowling darkly, Karolina shook her head. "It seems to me, if Chernobog found your attention appealing, he would have said something. Given you a book, perhaps. But he hasn't, has he?"

Amare, although in no position to fight, hissed. "You'll never love him as I do! NEVER!"

"You're right. But then, I never had a reason to." She stared icily. Tulsan was starting to feel this darker side wasn't quite an act now. He didn't understand what exactly was happening anymore or what all this talk was about.

"I guess he's just not that into you, Amare..." Karolina finished, her eyes burning with an empty red. "Drop the book. Or the next thing you say will be a garbled mess about how my shovel tasted before you had all your teeth knocked out."

'Is this the same person I just fought that monster with?' Tulsan wondered. Still, he held to the plan, keeping Amare from running off.

Amare scowled and sighed. Reluctantly, she dropped the book. Karolina gently scooped it up with the flat of her shovel.

"Was that so hard? Amare, know that I need this book to learn my craft. You merely want it as some desperate way to reach someone who is ignoring you. Know that if I ever see you again, I promise I will do exactly as I said just before. Do not make an honest woman out of me."

"Grr... fine. Can I go now?" Amare whined.

Tulsan looked to Karolina, still getting that weirdly vicious vibe she hadn't displayed at all before. "Are we done with her?"

Karolina tilted her head to the side, beaming disdain at Amare. "Your dress. Give it to me. I have a friend who would benefit from it."

"What? Why would I do that?! I already returned to you the book."

"It's not enough. I don't like your tongue. And you need to learn humility, for one. Second, you don't get out of this until I'm satisfied. And you're in no position to tell me anything."

Tulsan's eyes widened behind his sunglasses. Taking a trophy like this? That wasn't so much human behavior as...

"Tulsan, grab her wings. Amare, surrender the dress. I won't ask again."

"Damn you!" the angel hissed. Tulsan did as he was asked, but he was uncomfortable. It was starting to add up. The red glowing eyes, the familiar, the implacable attitude in victory, and now a 'trophy' taking. He had seen this sort of thing before. He wondered if anyone else saw signs of this before.

Reluctantly, Amare did as she was told and slipped out of the breezy purplish gown, revealing her in the strappy bare coverage she had when she was ambushed by Bali-la in Outer Hell. Karolina snapped up the dress and wrapped it around her shovel's haft.

"Now get lost and remember what I told you," hissed Karolina.

More than happy to leave, Amare was let go and immediately took to flight, escaping back into the night sky as fast as she could.

Darkly, Karolina looked to Tulsan and just nodded in acknowledgement. "We're done here."

He squinted at her uneasily. "Are you alright?"

She paused, a small unintentional creepy smile on her face. "Never better. Thank you for your help, Tulsan." She resumed walking. "Let's head back."

Grimacing, he picked up his javelins and slowly began to follow, grumping to himself. "Bali, is this what you were expecting? I guess, it was too much to expect. I'm going to be the last one left at this rate."

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