September 14, 2019 interlude

Rhom had taken the first watch, and while his allies dressed their various wounds, he went to each door into the room they selected to rest in and opened his spell book. The writhing runes of living ink responded to the will of their Master and formed the ritual of alarm that would instantly alert him if anyone crossed the threshold. By the time all three doors were warded, the tiefling was worn out. He selected a spot that would allow him the best line of fire at each entryway should anything be foolish enough to come calling that night.

The spellbook hovered by his leg, the magic within almost alive and intelligent but not like a human mind…more like a faithful hound. It made a sound, the rustling of it’s pages as it sought attention. Rhom raised an eyebrow at the tome’s antics, the book was an extension of his own magical nature and a great deal of his power both flowed into and out of those pages. He picked it up and flicked through the pages till he reached a blank one. Runes were trying to form but had not taken shape yet. “Ah, I see…you want me to shape a new invocation. Well then, let us see what we might do.”

Over the course of his adventures, the book had taught him secrets to augment his magic and shape his arcane might. His Eldritch Blast spell could pull and push enemies away or slow them so they could not run as fast, it had awakened new spells into the tome itself and even given him the insight to weave rituals into reality. So he opened his mind to the magic and reached out to grasp the threads of power that bound him to his demonic father whose name he shared. A wide smile crossed the warlock’s face as he felt a power he wanted… no…needed… The ability to not sleep. Oh what a sweet boon that would be, his father denied access to his dreams.

As the threads begin to take shape into a tapestry to create the new gift, a clawed hand rends the unformed power asunder. Rhom clutched his hands to the wound above his heart as he felt the talon embedded deep in his flesh move and slice his heart from the inside.

He couldn’t scream, the pain stealing his voice and breath as he falls to his side…his eyes wide in terror and agony as he struggles to draw air. His father’s voice fills his mind as the talon continues to punish him.

“I can not see you, my disloyal child. You wear that amulet that hides you from me while you walk the waking world. That was very clever of you. But when you dream, when you open your heart to me to draw in more of my power I can feel your presence. Up until now I have been amused watching you but you will not have this ability. You will not hide your mind from me. You belong to me, you were born to carry out my will…and if you can not then I will end your miserable existence.”

The talon punctures the heart and the organ stops beating. Rhom feels death coming for him, but not the peace of death but the torment and eternal suffering his father would inflict on him. He finds air enough to whisper. “Please, father, I will obey… I will kill Theorne as you demand… Mercy… Mercy… I beg you.” The pain leaves as the demon ends his punishment and allows the connection they share to seal the wounds and allow him to live.

“Do not seek out that power again, boy. I would hate to tell your mother I had to slaughter her little boy like a pig.” Just for an instant he saw his father’s face, not the porcelain perfection of his human face but the animal skull of his true shape. “Kill my enemy son. That is all I ask of you. Kill the man who will not stay dead.”

Rhom felt the presence of his father fade, the pain remaining to remind him who he served. Beside him the book tried to open but like it’s Master it seemed wounded as well. Picking up the book, he found the page he had been creating the new runes on torn into tatters. “Ssshh, it will be okay. We will not provoke him like that again.” Gently he mends the velum with a cantrip, the book still shivering some as it seems to still hurt even with the page made whole. With hesitation, he opens himself to the magic again, the threads now writhing like angry vipers as he selects a new gift and gives it shape in the real world, the tome settling down quietly as runes fill the page and complete the pattern. It seems to slumber now, and Rhom pats the cover as one might a pet. “You rest, I’ll have need of you soon enough old friend.”

His eyes glow softly as they catch the light from the fire. His allies all sleeping deeply, their bodies and wills put to the limits of their endurance…when it came time would they understand why Theorne had to die or would they stop him? Time would tell…and the story would be broken, or it would continue feeding.