Ending of a sort. With some explanation of things that were going on.
I'm not happy with it but don't know what to do about that.
This world will probably be re-visited at some point.
Note about the zones of contention, teleporting in them isn’t possible
Nebris was bunkered with Blame, just off the edge of the field. Gvetal was on the field, which was rare. All the clan leaders were here and Blame had said that one way or the other this would be the last fight. They could see Pak, he was fighting a barrage of fire users. Blame's demon eyes flickered as he watched them. The fire pupils as striking as always on the black background that the whites turned into.
“Amateurs.” Blame muttered. “You learnt to shape fire yet?”
“I've been trying.” Nebris said.
“Can you at least cover yourself in flames?”
Nebris responded by encasing himself in fire, it was the only element he'd managed to do that with. It just took one glance at Etho, who was standing with Pak, to get angry enough to start it.
“Don't let that drop, we're going after the prize. They'll be thinking Pak will be the one to end this, but since you use his powers you can be the one, so do you feel ready to kill Gvetal?”
“Won't he be mad when he resurrects?”
“No, it’s part of the game for him, so Pak’ll draw the torches that way, Vechs will draw as many as possible the other, hopefully opening a channel down the middle. When you see your chance take it, I'll have your back.”
Blame rolled his eyes, making the fire, larger and smaller as they shifted.
Nebris started watching the field, trying to spot any path to Gvetal that would avoid him getting in the midst of an ongoing fight. He could see that the majority of Gvetal’s clan and Pak’s one where fighting between their leaders, though a lot of the fight was obstructed by fire, water and rocks that were being shot between various demons.
Nebris understood now why no one had taken any mortals today, not even Vechs who had lost several hundred as cannon fodder. Both sides where bringing their all, everything leading up to this had been positively playful by contrast. He occasionally caught sight of someone that he knew, but he would lose them shortly after. The leaders of clans where the only people that he could find, they were attempting to direct the fight from the edge, getting involved as little as possible. With the exception of Pak who seemed to have lost some of his level headed nature during the war and was getting a little too involved.
“Why don't we just enter from the other side?” Nebris asked, seeing that Gvetal was close to the other edge.
“That would be cheating.”
“We don't cheat.”
“You don't, I do.”
Nebris willed himself to the other side, the distance to Gvetal was far shorter. He stepped over the border and charged Gvetal. His punch didn’t leave a scorch mark and Gvetal turned to face him.
“Nebris? But I thought mortals were off the field today.”
“Only partly mortal now.”
“No such thing.”
Nebris cursed as he was doused in water, he couldn't reignite. He shouldn't have left Blame. However with Gvetal’s attention on him Pak was having more success keeping the line. Nebris traded blows with Gvetal, though without anything behind his punches Gvetal was easily winning. Nebris took one blow to his chest and crumbled, struggling to get air in. Gvetal’s arm slid around his neck from behind and forced him to stand.
“What did you think would happen?” Gvetal hissed in Nebris’s ear while he struggled to free himself. “You might access the power of a demon, but you are young, weak and stupid compared to everyone here. The only question is does Pak submit before I kill you?”
Gvetal pushed a force field out from him. Every one of those siding with him took one look and left the field, watching from the sidelines. Most of those that remained checked with Pak, who nodded and they cleared out too. Etho charged Gvetal. He tightened his hold slightly stopping Nebris from breathing and causing Etho to freeze. Air was allowed back in, Nebris gulped it down and returned his focus to trying to break the grasp.
“I don't understand why you are suddenly concerned with this mortal, he told me you wanted him dead.” Gvetal questioned.
“I do, but I can wait. I'd rather not fight with him.” Etho responded.
“Care to explain?”
“Not really. Are you going to let him go? Or threaten me?”
“No, I was expecting Pak to be the one that rushed forwards.”
Pak strolled forwards to stand beside Etho. “I didn't want t’ risk it.”
“You ready to give?”
Pak moved Nebris to beside him. Nebris collapsed as he appeared, Etho was the one to catch him. While Pak stepped forwards to defend him. Gvetal and Pak exchanged blows at distance, sending elements at each other. Pak using his abilities to warp attacks back on Gvetal, while he was using his to stop Pak’s. Neither got close to harming the other.
Etho lifted Nebris easily, while carrying him off of the field. Nebris tried to swat away Etho's hand as it was held in front of his mouth and struggled out of Etho's grasp. He tumbled to the floor, and Etho kneeled beside him as he coughed up blood while lying on his side. He writhed around as Etho tried to pick him up again.
“Nebris stop.” Etho scolded as he gave up. “Let me take you to safety. Then I'll get someone to get help.”
“I can walk.”
“Mortals are supposed to keep their blood inside.”
“I can walk.” Nebris persisted.
Nebris coughed up more blood as he sat. Etho kept him steady as he tried to stand on his own. His right lung was giving him pain, it was the one that Gvetal had winded him with. He protested Etho holding him up, but he leaned against Etho.
“I want to help Pak.” Nebris begged.
“He's fine, if you kill yourself you'd weaken him.” Etho pointed out. “I know how it feels to lose your soul. You take part of mine with you, and leave some of yours with me, and it hurts because part of you is dead. No other soul does that, and while usually losing your mortal is bad, you are special. My half demon, even if you chose Pak. It should make you feel better to know I found my mark.”
“Why would that make me feel better?”
“I can use it to revoke Pak’s mark, it would prevent him from suffering when you die. Do you want that?”
“The moment before I die.”
“You have my word that when there’s nothing left but to wait for you to die you will be mine.”
“Why didn't you try to revoke Paks mark in the first place?”
“I never wanted to force it. I wanted you to choose me. They never understand that we share a soul. I guess you now have some of Pak’s too, but I'll fix that before you die.”
“You should have told me, I've wanted to ask so many questions about my link to Pak, and you already knew about it.” He complained, coughing up more blood as he stumbled into Etho.
“You can ask them later. I don't know if you should be talking. Keep that blood inside.”
“It's in my lung, it shouldn't be there either.”
“Someone will know what to do.”
Etho smiled faintly. “Only half hoping, you'll come back to me.”
“What exactly am I to you?”
“You may never understand.”
They finally crossed the border, Blame helped get Nebris to settle on the ground. Ignoring his protests, his attempts at denying he was swaying and coughing up blood. They positioned him so he could watch the fight while they waited for Vechs to appear with someone who knew about treating mortals.
Etho never stopped watching him, unblinking, allowing his eye to return to its grey. Every time Nebris coughed Etho would flinch. The amount of blood was reducing each time, which had to be a good sign. Though the slow dimming of his senses was not. By the time Vechs had brought someone he was barely aware of anything.
He opened his eyes to see MC smiling.
“Almost lost you. Do not move too quickly, the magic is still working.” MC commanded with a kind tone.
Nebris tried to sit, but was pushed down by Etho.
“Don't get up.” Etho told him. “I'm not going to let you worsen your condition. You can watch Pak, they've moved onto incorporeal combat. Never seen someone bend space while incorporeal, I see why so many are scared of him.”
Nebris rolled to watch the light show. Pak was phasing in an out of focus, the world seemed to sparkle around him.
“How's it going?” Nebris asked, not understanding what he saw.
“Once you're better you can fight, but not until the magic has completely settled.” MC told Nebris, about his own condition.
He shut his eyes and checked how he was feeling. His lung still hurt, but it was more like a bruise than pressure he’d felt earlier. Everything else was fine. When he opened his eyes again he noticed MC was glowing faintly as he continued to channel healing magic.
Every demon but Etho had backed up, Vechs was the next closest at ten paces. Etho was currently right next to him, he returned to watching the fight. It seemed they'd run out of whatever was fuelling their magic, they were down to trading blows physically.
MC stopped glowing, then made a request. “Nebris can you take us to my home?”
“I want to stay.” He responded flatly.
“Fine, but stay away from the battle.”
Nebris sent MC home before he could insist. Etho let him sit, then stand. Watching for him falling.
“Why aren't you defending Pak?” He whispered to Etho.
“Gvetal’s force field. While you are connected to Pak you should be able to break through. You standing with him is the only kind of help I can give him. But you staying here is best for you.” Etho explained.
“I'm going.” Nebris declared.
Etho shrugged, making it clear he wasn't going to stop Nebris.
Nebris tried to break through, then he remembered slower worked better. Slowing to a snail’s pace he broke through. The moment the pressure ceased he began running, he felt the fire surround him as he moved forwards. He realised how stupid it was to be here, but he couldn't not be. He wished that he could have had more time to practise. The fight paused as they noticed him.
“Look who doesn't know when to stay down.” Gvetal praised.
“Get out of here!” Pak ordered.
“Let the mortal stay, he's managed to reignite himself. I want to see what he can do, now that I know his past.”
“The slabs recognised me?” Nebris asked.
“Not you, your soul. A mortal soul that is so close to being a demon’s soul. They told me to get you away from Pak, so they can get you to your ‘soulmate’, though it's different to the mortal version. Given time you control magic better than the demon you usually bond with, even without him marking you. I wonder is it really Pak’s power you use?”
“What does it matter?”
“Sensible, ignore the distraction.”
“Slabs?” Pak demanded. “Is that why Etho tried to get to you, to take you back to his clan?”
“I think his position is more personal, I suspect he is the demon that has been marking Nebris for millennium. You might have had first claim on this incarnation, but someone’s claim goes back centuries.”
“I've chosen Pak, Etho has accepted that.” Nebris argued.
Gvetal smiled. “Face me, show me what you can do.”
Nebris wasn’t sure what to do, he threw a couple fireballs, and followed them with boulders as the flames left no marks. He glared at the unfaltering smile.
“You can't touch me if you can't break force fields.” Gvetal Mocked.
Seeing a different tactic, forming water and rising it slowly into the field before turning it into a whirlpool. The water dropped and he started a new barrage. Gvetal stopped smiling and met him, hitting him hard. Pak stepped in, but the damage was done. He recognised the feeling of blood filling his lung. He still didn't understand why the hit had caused it.
He tried bringing wind to their fight, helping Pak by trying to stop Gvetal from avoiding attacks. Unwilling to do anything else as he was aware his reactions were slower than the pairs movement and slowing every moment. He began to lose consciousness. The force field broke, shattering into shards of light, and the after the next blow Gvetal vanished. Pak tried to rouse Nebris, he felt himself slipping. He heard Etho’s call for someone to get MC.
Nebris woke, the room was white and smelled strongly of anti-bacterial hand wash.
“I told you not to move, I told you to stay away. You should have come home with me.” MC complained at him. “I got you into the hospital, but the internal wound is mixed with my magic, so I cannot help you. They drained some of the blood, but are worried if they do it too quick they might collapse it. They are waiting for a specialised surgeon to sort it. Also you have to expressly allow demons to visit, so Pak asked me to stay with you. I would have done it anyway but there you go.”
“Why not get Mhykol or someone?” Nebris sat, registering the pain, but reduced pressure. He couldn't see any machines around, and he had on a hospital gown.
“The magic is part of the problem, adding more could worsen it. You going to let Pak in?”
“Yes, also Vechs, Blame and Etho.” He flinched slightly as he placed a hand on his chest, wanting to see if there was external damage.
“Etho?” MC exclaimed.
“Things are better with him, he made a pact to not kill me.” Nebris stopped investigating his injury, it hurt and that was all he'd learnt.
“I will get someone and you can tell them about their forms.” MC rose from his chair and turned to the door.
“I haven't seen Pak’s or Etho's.”
“Have you not seen that demon manifest several times?” MC queried as he turned, confusion on his face.
“His eyes that is all I ever look at, I can't help it.” Nebris responded, recognising that MC was sill avoiding Pak’s name.
“I will see if they'll let me vouch that they are the ones you mean. At least you can tell them what their eyes are and which clan.”
“Don't know what clan Pak is, but he got Etho kicked from his and he's still alone.”
“How long have you been marked? How long have you known he is a demon? And all you got to identify him is his abyssal eyes?”
Vechs and Blame where allowed in as soon as he'd given their demonic forms to a nurse, Pak and Etho were still not allowed. MC travelled to Nebris's home to find pictures of Nebris with Pak, which would at least get him in. Nebris mostly listened to the pair. They hadn't talked casually before by the sound of it. Etho came barging in, trailing Pak.
“I'm sorry, but I did give my word.” Etho told Nebris.
“What?” Nebris asked as Etho placed a hand on his shoulder.
He felt a sharp pain where Pak’s mark was. He watched the scarring vanish. Vechs oooed at something. He began to feeling something on his shoulder, it was warm and familiar. Etho took his hand away and Nebris remembered every life he'd lived as though he'd always remembered, the thousands of marks Etho had given him. The single reaction, one that he saw now, of complete joy on Etho's face, followed by a handful of different reactions from him, ranging from smiling to punching Etho in the nose as hard as possible.
He remembered what he was, even if now his parents where both mortal. His soul had been born to a union of mortal and demon, something which was common in the early days were mortals and demons lived together under the same rules not just in the same areas, daimon were born of these unions. Not truly mortal, not truly demon.
They thought when a daimon dies their soul would move on to the next world, like demons. But not all daimon’s did, and in his second life Etho had been fascinated by him, as he had in the first. Etho would tell him about his previous self, sometimes with affection, sometimes rage. When Nebris finally convinced Etho to mark him he remembered the first life.
News spread and demons segregated their social side from humans and reduced unions between human and demon. He was not the only daimon to be reborn, he was just the first to remember his heritage. The others were also linked to a specific demon and would remember every life when they re-bonded.
Etho wasn't his family, or his lover, but he was someone he'd loved and trusted over the centuries, when they weren't fighting. As he remembered random events he knew that Etho was watching his memories. He stopped the parade of memories as Pak, after recovering from the shock of what had just happened, yelled at Etho.
“How dare you! He is my mortal.” Rage filled every syllable.
“Pak.” Nebris drew his attention. “I was your mortal, but I'm mortally wounded, there’s nothing anyone can do. I know because Etho said when there was nothing left but for me to die he'd take me from you to spare you the pain. Now I remember what I am, why I fascinate you all so much. I was never mortal, I'm Etho's daimon, and we have shared a soul for so long that I don't know if there is any separation, Vechs can surely see that?”
Vechs shrugged. “There are similarities between your souls. But that happens sometimes.”
“Between mortal and demon?”
“Just because I've never encountered it, outside of you two, doesn't mean it doesn't happen.”
“Anyway, I was happy in this life, far happier then I'd ever been as a mortal before. I want to thank you for that, and all the Mindcrackers, apart from Etho who I would punch if I wasn't worried about worsening my condition, why am I bleeding internally?”
“Force fields mess up mortals if their used offensively.” Etho informed, sadness in his voice.
“Why did no one tell me?” Nebris complained before moving on, talking to the rest of the room. “Next time you find someone as fascinating as me, try and find whoever they belong with. There is only a handful of us, but, can you guys give me your word?”
“The pact breaks when you die.” Blame stated.
“He knows.” Etho told them. “He's asking as a mortal to his friends not a demon to those who may betray him. He knows I'd always help because I'd want others to bring him to me.”
They all gave him their own promise. Then they talked of years long since forgotten by mortals, discovering how near they had been to meeting each other over the centuries. As Nebris recounted the various ways Etho had drawn him he realised that when Etho had fought him in this life it was an attempt to bring them close, and get him using the demon powers they shared.
Nebris realised that Etho would have been aware that his mind control wouldn't work at the point where he’d first demanded Nebris to kill himself. When asked about it he exclaimed that he was attempting to sooth his annoyance. He'd thought Nebris had remembered everything when Pak had marked him, and had discovered that wasn't true when he'd visited in the night to say his goodbye to Nebris's sleeping form. He'd then made a habit of visiting and watching the dreams of the incarnation he hadn't managed to connect with.
As Nebris shared stories with his friends, he let his mind wander through the memories of this life, finding one special moment with everyone he would miss, so that Etho would know to pass on his love. His last thought was while remembering the various large group outings that he'd joined in on.
Nebris's family paid for a small funeral, Gvetal paid to make it a larger for his part in the death, even offering up his compound for the wake. It marked the first peace between demons and sorcerers in decades, though it was only for the day.
During the funeral Pak was on the verge of starting a fight every five minutes. MC found himself stopping Pak picking fights and had to admit he didn't hate Pak. He finally accepted Pak’s demon side and the fact he’d hidden it. Etho stood by the exit of the graveyard and passed on Nebris’s farewells, and were apt, the memory he had picked of them. Etho noted that some of the family that Nebris had remembered never turned up, though most of them did.
The wake was more of a festival. The demons fought, showed off and generally where merry, drawing the sorcerer’s into playful fights. All the Mindcrackers learnt of Pak’s demon nature, most accepted it better than MC had. Many also saw the forms of the three known Demons for the first time. Etho got to represent his clan in the events, having been let back in after Nebris had walked into Gvetals compound. The mortal Mindcrackers raced on the dirt track, with non-mortals changing the course but carefully to try and avoid any injuries.
P.S. Things that weren't directly mentioned, just if you're interested.
- What mortals know of demons is vastly different to the truth, same of what sorcerers know of demons. Demons however have a good idea about non-demons.
- Seth didn't want to bind Etho's powers because he was avoiding starting a battle between the mindcrack sorcerers and the Slab clan, or leaving Etho at the mercy of the Slab clan. Doc however thought that the Slab clan wouldn’t care about Etho losing his powers.
- Zones of contentions are marked by demon magic, they shift and demons can see them. Inside the field some magic that mean you can move unpredictably are impossible, this is to avoid sneak attacks which are considered bad form in usual demon combat but are forbidden in war.
- Gvetal caused the wound on Nebris by creating a force field around his fist while it touched Nebris then pulling back and letting it shatter, which tore his insides and later reacted badly to MC’s temporary fix.
- Pak killed Gvetal by shifting him into a void of another world.
- Pak never got any of Nebris's soul and was beginning to suffer soul decay. Nebris would have killed Pak in a year or two.
- Vechs realised that Nebris shared Etho's soul the moment he saw Etho.
- Vechs was oooing at Pak’s soul evaporating off of Nebris and into nothing. Pak’s going to be irritable for a while.
- Etho was listening to the thoughts of staff, who were sure the specialist wouldn't be there fast enough to actually do anything for Nebris. Etho compelled his way to Nebris to keep his word and, because he's a bit selfish, was hoping they were wrong and he'd get Nebris out of it.
- Nebris was using Pak’s powers, just to be 100% clear.
- Etho's threat was directed at Nebris, and he was meaning he'd never mark him again, and would actively place him in risk. That was because he thought Nebris remembered his old lives and had made the choice of Pak.
- MC missed Nebris's last moments while searching Nebris's room for photos because MC had chucked his own photos of Pak when he'd cut Pak out of his life.
- Blame's full manifest is skeletal. Pak's full manifest is shifting marks on his skin, mostly purple and black.
- Etho and Azurel are in the top five in their respective clans. They both have useable wings in their full manifest. He has feathered wings, she has bat wings.