Into the Oblivion

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Nikki - Questions With No Answers

“What’s the next step?” I asked Eran.

It’s been a couple of days since we got back from M’Vokagola. And so far, no mages were showing up on our doorstep for revenge. Our getaway was relatively quick and unexpected. All the avroi that I saved up was consumed to cover the distance that we traveled. I was knocked out for a ton of hours the day after.

Our two other mysterious companions were alive and got out safely, too. But Ishvar barely made it. A blade was able to puncture his side during the chaos of their escape. Thankfully, Morsden was able to use his flame to cauterize the wound. Eran was able to meet them a couple of days later.

“I’m still not sure.” Eran replied.

Both of us were in my room with the huge tome spread on the floor. All the pages were blank, and we still had no idea how to use it. The old parchments that were compiled by a spine just stared at our faces.

“Don’t tell we almost got killed for a blank book.” I grumbled.

“I don’t think so.” Eran pointed out. Then he softly scratched his chin in frustration. “I’m sure there’s a specific secret behind this.”

As I stared at the blank page, I zoned out for a moment and thought back about what happened in the other world. The monsters that were created with my magic were severely powerful. And the necromancers that we encountered were incredibly surprised by how we barged into the Citadel.

Then the image shifted into some bodies that were knocked out on the floor. I felt my fingers twitching whenever I would remember the blood on their bodies. They were defenseless against the brute force that my Alazonian Curse was able to bring out from dead wights.

People were dead. By my hand.

The thought created a massive boulder in my stomach that I wanted to puke out but couldn’t. And the stone started to break inside me and pushed into my other organs. It was simply suffocating. I tried to gasp for air, but I couldn’t. As if my diaphragm was frozen. As if my lungs refused to work.

“You’re thinking about those again.” Eran stated. His blue eyes narrowed down on me. Studying my thoughts. “Quit it out.”

“Yeah.” I chirped sadly. My fingers twitched again. “I killed those people.”

“I told you, we’re not sure of that.” He assured. Eran turned a few more pages, but nothing really popped up like some magic trick. “Ishvar sent some feelers into the area if there were news of the breakout. It seems that our small parade was kept in secret from the rest of Altimeraea. Only the Solus Magus knows.”

“But, I saw a lot of bodies during our raid.” I groaned. The stone in my stomach even got heavier. A horrid pull in my gut almost ripped me inside. “I killed them.”

“They were just knocked out.” The blonde boy pointed out. Eran put a hand on my shoulder and lightly slapped my cheek. I caused me to look into his eyes, and those blue orbs spoke so much peace. “Nikki, it’s tremendously hard to kill a necromancer. Or any mages from Teutesus for that matter. Because their magic is heavily intertwined with life itself.”

“Whatever.” I quipped and looked away from him.

Both of us silently studied the Necronomicon. It definitely looked like a dusty, ancient book. Its spine had a deep dark color with no glint of light reflecting on it.

“You said before that Samael needed this as much as we do. It was you who pushed me to help you get this as soon as possible.” I said. His eyes lingered back to me with an unreadable gaze. “I understand that it can help me achieve my full potential as a necromancer, but you never told me why you need this.”

“This thing contains a lot of rituals that can do the most powerful soul-binding magic in existence. That’s why Teios Kyr wants this so much because they still have not figured out how to unseal the soul of the Black Sorceress. That bitch just won’t die.” Eran started explaining. He frowned at the mention of our enemy. “But this thing just won’t give us answers. I have yet to research it.”

“You avoided my question.” I retorted. “Why do you need it?”

“For the same reason as them.” He replied gravely. Then looked straight into my eyes with a provocative glare. “I’ll need to unseal her, too. It’s the only way.”

“You son of a bitch!” I hissed. My Nyxian blade immediately summoned itself into my hand. Then my hand was already placed on my floor. A seal was about to be formed. “Why on God’s green earth would you do that for? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of everything else?”

“Calm down, Nikki. Let me explain everything.” Eran stated. Then he also used a fraction of his avroi to amp the tension in my room. I knew I grew more powerful ever since I learned how to use magic, but Eran’s avroi was frightening if he wants it to be. “If you think I’ll show you mercy for taunting me, I won’t.”

Both of us had a stare-down for almost a minute before I broke from it.

“There is an ancient being hidden within Asphodel that can disintegrate the soul. And like the Black Sorceress, that thing is sealed with powerful magic.” Eran pressed on. “It’s an exo’gia diasmo.”

“It’s a…what?” I asked.

“Exo’gia diasmo.” He clarified. My eyes narrowed at the weird word. It almost sounded like a malevolent spell. “There’s no specific meaning or translation in your world’s languages nor our Qraellic and Altimearean languages. That’s because that thing came from a different universe, far deeper into the Divide.”

“And…this thing, it’s a powerful entity that can get rid of the Black Sorceress once and for all?” I gulped. A silent thrill erupted at the back of my head. “That thing is a secret weapon?”

“That’s correct.” He confirmed with a quick snap of fingers. Eran smiled at me with unwavering confidence. “The diasmo cannot obliterate a soul that’s sealed. It’s necessary to unseal her, too. And the moment we do unseal her, the diasmo can do its thing.”

“Two questions.” I stated and raised my hand. Eran looked ready to answer my questions anyway. “First, why would that thing help us? You said it’s not from your world nor mine. It has nothing to do with all the chaos that you and Samael had been going on about.

“The diasmo was a legendary warrior of light. According to some stories, it was able to destroy a whole army in one night. Some of the legendary feats in the religious texts that you hear in your world originated in ours.” The blonde boy explained. Beneath the cold exterior was a side of him who loves explaining things about his world. He was slightly more animated as he discussed. “It was a myth. But there were historical artifacts that the Solus Magus were able to uncover. A good sect of The Ministry believes that the existence of such creatures is real.”

“I don’t know how that thing could defeat the Black Sorceress.” I mumbled to myself. “We don’t even know how they would have the ability to revive her.”

“Neither do I.” Eran confessed. “There are still things we don’t know about the Teios Kyr.”

“Okay. Second question, why haven’t the powerful mages of Altimeraea thought of that?” I asked further. Eran studied me again. Trying to check where I was coming from. “I’m sure a civilized society like yours have governmental councils that should be accountable for all this crap. A couple of kids like us shouldn’t be sent on a suicide mission to solve adult problems!”

Because they will not go on a witch hunt for a mythological figure to solve their problems for them.” The boy just sighed. Then he frowned at my wall with an indignant stare. “Besides, Altimeraea is not as peaceful as you think. Fuhrstenvald is a huge threat.”

“Samael mentioned that place when I confronted him.” I pointed out.

“It’s an isolationist country under a dictator. Fuhrstenvald is located in an eastern continent called Isvarde. Our knowledge about them is severely scarce, but we know that they have fused Altimeraean magic with your world’s technology.” Eran replied. I was suddenly horrified at the thought of a magical Black Ops Team blasting through our doors. Quite colorful. “Most of the governments of other countries are convinced that they can weaponize certain experiments. Yet not a single evidence against them is found.”

“Since the Black Sorceress is practically dead, it’s not really a priority for them to solve as of this moment.” I added after. Eran just nodded. “Aren’t they wary that her son is out there, doing everything to revive her?”

“They are.” He confirmed. “But Teios Kyr never had the military ability to pose a huge threat. It’s more of a minor group of zealots that originated in Zidania. A whole country, hiding an unknown destructive weapon, is still a bigger threat than a group of ideological rebels.”

“And we’re taking their threat seriously. Those who have the powers don’t give a damn. But we do.” I pointed out. My fist clenched themselves. “Why? I just don’t get it. Why do we have to do all this?”

“Because your mother’s life is on the line.” Eran replied.

I fell silent for a few seconds after that.

“You’re right.” It was all I managed to reply after almost a minute of being dumbstruck. I frowned at him and stood up. “I’m doing this for my mother. But I don’t see any reason why I should further involve myself after that.”

“Do you really think they would leave you alone after that?” Eran asked.

It was a question I couldn’t answer. And I refused to think about the first answer that the back of my head is whispering inside my ear.

“Are we done here?” Eran coldly asked.

“No, make that three questions.” I added further. Much to his annoyance. “My last question is, where do you even get this knowledge? You’re living in an orphanage, Eran. The fact that you know so much is frightening.”

“That’s a question I’m not yet ready to answer.” Eran replied. His poker face was pretty convincing. But I knew better. “I will. But not right now.”

“Whatever.” I quipped. “I still don’t fully trust you.”

“I asked for your help because your powers play a crucial role. Not for us to be close friends.” He retorted. I was taken back by his statement because I was starting to consider him one. Then Eran stood up and started exiting my window. “I’ll go back to doing my research and find a way how to open this. If we can’t open this, then it’s all for nothing.”

Just like before, he removed his shirt, and wings erupted from his back. He looked so majestic every time. Those white wings were simply divine. Eran jumped to the night sky and simply vanished. The boy was either an angel of light or a fallen angel. What is he?

Another question with no answer.

After that, I didn’t hear from him for a few days. The days flew by quickly. My mom was still in the hospital with no signs of recovery. She wouldn’t last two weeks, and the fact that we still had no answers gave me a heavy feeling. Mrs. Chase never left her, though. She was indeed a friend.

To make things worse, the images of dead bodies flooded my mind’s eye. And sleeping began to be troublesome. I would stay home to infuse more avroi into the mark on my wrist during my extra time. I spent my energy preparing more wights for a battle anytime and studying my experiments even further.

Sadly, there were no living subjects to fully observe the extent of the curses’ potency. The horror of what happened in M’Vokagola was a bitter reminder not to use them anytime. As far as I knew, I could give enormous boosts of strength and muscle mass. Or give someone the ability to absorb avroi. If it’s permanent or temporary, I have yet to know.

I stayed at the Chase house in the meantime. Phineas slept over with us at the end of the week. Both he and Otis helped take my mind off of what happened the week before. Even my teachers were suddenly more merciful in giving us homework. It was a small thing to celebrate for the three of us.

It was a Sunday morning when I felt Phineas’ hand draped over me. We slept beside each other since we agreed to take the weekend in Otis’ house. Mrs. Chase helped us fix her son’s unruly bedroom, so there would be a large cushion bed for the three of us on the floor. Funny enough, I was placed in the middle of the two for the past couple of days.

My ginger friend almost snuggled me, whereas Otis had his backside turned on us. It was a peaceful morning. But it didn’t last a minute because the world came crashing back at me. My mom was on the verge of death with no answers in sight. I would then feel the heavy stone in my stomach as the bloody bodies race back to my imagination.

Phineas suddenly stirred, and his sea-green eyes peeked at me. I looked back at my friend, who nonchalantly yawned. He was distraught at how I have been withdrawn for the past couple of weeks. Everything was simply a mess.

“Good morning, dweeb.” He smiled warmly. Followed by another long yawn. “I guess knucklehead is still asleep.”

“Yeah.” I half-chuckled. “Do you want to go down and eat breakfast?”

“I’m good. Let’s wait until Otis wakes up.” Phineas replied. Then he raised his head a little to check on our other friend, who was oblivious in his sleep. “That should give us another couple of hours.”

“More like a whole day!” I snickered. “I swear, he sleeps like a baby. Maybe I should try giving him a good ass-kicking to see if he’ll wake up.”

“I have a better idea!” Phineas grimaced.

Then he stood up to get something from Otis’ desk. It was a black marker paired with a devilish sneer on his face. I was just astonished that Phineas would actually dare something like that. But I was quite excited, too, at how far he was willing to go. I covered my mouth because I couldn’t help but giggle at what he was gonna do next.

Phineas just shushed me, and we both snuck near Otis’ head. The clueless boy just laid there defenseless. To make things worse, he turned and laid flat on his back. It was as if he deliberately gave us more unrestricted access to his face.

“What should we write?” I whispered.

“Come on, Nikki. Think!” Phineas whispered back. Mischief exploded in his eyes. It was simply out of nowhere. “Use that big brain of yours.”

“Easy!” I took the marker out of Phineas’ hand and slowly combed Otis’ wavy brown hair away from his forehead. He stirred a little bit. Then I proceeded to quickly draw a big fat dick on his left cheek. “I should’ve made it bigger and juicier.”

Phineas and I struggled to hold our laughter inside as he took the marker and drew a pair of big boobs on the other cheek. I moved back a couple of feet away because I couldn’t help but giggle. I had to bite the side of my hand to stop myself from laughing loudly. Phineas, on the other hand, was crawling away slowly as he tried his best not to laugh.

Then I signaled him to take a photo of it with his phone.

My friend immediately obliged to my suggestion and took his gadget from under his pillow. I snuck closer as he started taking photos of Otis. Then he suddenly stirred as we almost jumped. Yet the other boy was still knocked out cold despite having a couple of doodles on his face.

I took the marker again and drew a tic tac toe chart on his forehead. Then I booked an X mark to start the game. I had to cover my mouth because it was just hard to control my laugh. Phineas took the marker, and both of us proceeded to finish the game in a minute. Every turn was a dose of utmost suffering because we couldn’t let out our laughter.

I managed to win, but I almost stepped on Otis’ arm. If Phineas didn’t push me, we could’ve woken up the poor guy. But our sleeping friend was still oblivious to what was happening.

Yet Otis didn’t even flinch! Phineas took another photo of our quick masterpiece. Then he ran outside the room before I followed through. We fell to our knees and laughed madly on the floor. The hallway was filled with laughter, and it echoed loudly on the second floor. Our glee felt like hours, and we struggled to stand up again.

“Holy crap!” I shrieked. “He didn’t even wake up after that?”

“I feel bad for Otis!” Phineas giggled. “But it was worth it!”

“Come down to get your breakfast!” Mrs. Chase yelled from below. She seemed to have heard our commotion. Her voice was eerily cheerful despite being loud. “Get it while it’s hot!”

“We’ll just wake Otis up, Mrs. Chase!” Phineas yelled back.

Then we went to laughing again on the floor as we take a look at Otis’ face on his phone. Once Phineas finally uploaded it to the cloud, Otis wouldn’t be able to retrieve it back anymore. We want back into the room before Phineas pulled me out the door again because he couldn’t help but laugh once he sees Otis’ face again.

It was another round of hilarious giggles for both of us. But when I tried to take a peek inside Otis’ room, all I saw was a dead body and blood everywhere. All the glee just simply flew out of my mouth. A cold snap erupted through my spine, and as I stood frozen by the door.

And it felt like hours of staring at the bloody mess on the floor.

“Are you okay?” Phineas snapped me out of the short trance. I didn’t even notice that his hand was on my shoulder. “You look like you saw a dead body. It’s just a sleeping Otis, dummy.”

“I’m okay.” I sighed.

“What’s wrong?” He asked.

“Nothing.” I mumbled with a low voice. “Seriously. I’m okay.”

“Hey. You know that I’m here for you, right?” Phineas grinned. His shy side was suddenly side aside, and he brimmed with a boyish charm like Otis. “No matter what. You’re both my brothers. My best friends.”

That broke me.

Tears escaped my eyes, and Phineas closed in to hug me. My arms found his back, and the grip of my embrace just tightened. The dam opened. And I sobbed onto his shoulders. It went like that for almost 5 minutes.

I bawled as Phineas cradled me in his arms. Weeks of torment went down the drain of my mismatched eyes. The boulder in my stomach went significantly lighter, and it eased the pain of my ruptured organs.

As my tears subsided, Phineas just ruffled my hair. “I knew you needed that.”

“I did. And it felt good.” I confirmed. “Can I tell you a secret?”

“Sure.” Phineas replied.

“I’m actually a Necromancer.” I flatly stated. It was abrupt and impulsive. My friend just stared at me like it was some sort of practical joke. “And I have powers to raise the dead.”

“Right.” He chirped happily. His sea-green eyes seemed brighter even. “And I’m a summoner who can summon my best friends when I need them!”

“What?” I gawked. “No. Wait.”

“Nikki! Phineas! You freakin’ bastards!” Otis growled loudly from the room. It immediately stopped our moment together as we controlled our giggles from coming out. I had to swallow all the objections I had in mind. “What the hell is wrong with you guys? You guys are dead!”

I dragged Phineas to the bathroom and slowly closed the door. Both of us hid behind the curtain and waited for Otis to come in. He was surely going to wash his face.

“Thank you for letting me cry on your shoulders.” I whispered as we slowed down from laughing. “I needed that. And I mean it.”

“No problem. I mean it, too. You’re my best friend.” He chirped. Then we heard talking loudly in the hallways and towards us. Phineas displayed his rare smile of mischief again. “On a count of three, okay?”

I nodded silently. Then he raised his hand as we heard Otis come inside the bathroom. I had to cover my mouth because I couldn’t stop laughing. Our friend went silent as our count began.

One…Two…Three! Phineas and I eagerly jumped at Otis from behind the curtains to surprise the crap out of him. It was an epic prank to draw doodles on a friend’s face. But to surprise him within the sacred grounds of the bathroom was simply sacrilege.

“Holy fuck!” Otis squealed loudly.

But we were just as surprised. We were expecting him to wash his face first, but we were wrong. He was actually taking a piss at the toilet, and he instinctively faced us from the surprise. The yellow piss flew with him, and Otis sprayed it all over us.

The three of us shrieked at each other in surprise at the moment we realized that he just literally pissed on us. It was then it dawned on me that he never opened the faucet, to begin with. An amazingly stupid move!

It was an eventful Sunday morning indeed.

After that, we spent the whole day together and then we visited my mom in the afternoon. Mrs. Chase also had to scold us for making a mess in the bathroom, so we had to clean it up, too. Including the clothes that we accidentally soiled.

I felt tremendously closer to Phineas, too. Otis was a huge comic relief to our friendship. Still, I realized it was my ginger friend who could understand what I was going through. But I never had the chance again to tell him about the secrecy of my powers. And the fact that our English teacher was secretly an inter-dimensional murderer.

Maybe someday, I’ll show him my powers for real.

It went like that for a week. The threat of my mom dying was just hovering over my head every second. Provoking me to almost losing it altogether. Samael said she should be dead by the previous weekend, but she was still alive and fighting for her life. All I could do was stare daggers at Samael, who continuously posed as my teacher during the week. I was nothing but a puppy who could easily be kicked around the pavement.

For I was simply at his mercy.

Samael had a big devilish snicker as he made an exit from our classroom. It was a sickening idea that we had something in common—that we would do anything for our mothers.

Otis, Phineas, and I left school. We decided to watch a movie before going to the hospital because I chose to stay there for the night. When we got to the theatre, there was a line because it was the premiere of the superhero movie we were about to watch.

“I’ll go buy the tickets.” Otis volunteered.

“And I’ll go buy us some food.” Phineas was next to speak. The two of them quickly left for the lines. “Just stay here, Nikki.”

I was just by the door and waited for the two of them.

“Nikki.”

A voice broke the silence. It almost made me jump and turned around to see who it was. Eran finally made his appearance, and I quickly pulled him out of the building. As far as I could tell, Otis and Phineas were still busy.

“What are you doing here?” I demanded.

“I cracked the code. I’ll explain later how.” He smiled slightly. The bags under his eyes had turned pretty sunken and obvious. Even his skin was a lot paler than usual. A bit more dry, too. “We can open the Necronomicon. And it has to happen tomorrow night, during the full moon.”

“Great!” I exclaimed. “It’s already a miracle that mom lasted more than a week longer. Samael said she should’ve died last weekend. But the last time I checked, her life force is still strong.”

“That’s great!” He smiled painfully.

“How are we going to use it?” I asked excitedly. I almost jumped up and down like an excited dog. “If we can make the exchange tomorrow, then we can wake up mom tomorrow night!”

“I have a question first.” Eran said. He wore a convincing poker face. My eyes narrowed at the suspicious statement. “Aside from your mom, who’s the person closest to you?”

“That’s easy.” I quipped warily. But Eran looked determined. “It’s Otis and Phineas. But I’d confidently say that Phineas is closer to me. What’s with the sudden question?”

“The Necronomicon demands a cost to the Necromancer that will open it.” He replied. My lips went dry at what he just said. “It demands the life and blood of the person closest to the caster of the ritual.”

“What? No!” I snapped. “No way damn it! You’ve got to be kidding me!”

“I am afraid not.” Eran sighed sadly. “The Necronomicon was clear. It will only open for someone willing to pay the price.”

“What the hell? You’re asking me to trade Phineas for my mom! That’s just fucked up, Eran!” I shrieked. “Damn it! Can’t we just offer someone else?”

“Ope thy soul and behold who is’t is a parteth of thee, to beest a master of souls, one shalt payeth the same price,” Eran closed his eyes to focus and recited some sort of spell. I just gulped as the words slightly made sense. “so much pow’r i shalt giveth, f’r only one of thee, a vile exchange to controleth ov’r death’s vise.”

I was dumbfounded after that. My head felt like it floated away from my body.

“It has to be someone who is entwined with your soul. Someone whom you’ve known for a long while.” Eran added softly. He reached out to place his hand on my shoulder, but I swatted it away. “I’m sorry, Nikki. No one deserves to make a choice like that. But that’s the cost. A life for a life.”

“Fuck you!” I snarled. Then shoved him back. Eran didn’t resist at all. A couple of teenage bystanders even peeked to check us out. But I didn’t care. “Don’t you ever show yourself again!”

I stormed back into the theatre to see Phineas and Otis finished buying the essential things we needed inside. They seemed to have noticed the scene through the glass doors. Thankfully, Eran didn’t follow inside. I turned my head a little bit to see that he was already gone.

“Who was that?” Phineas asked. His hands gripped tightly on a small bag of chips, popcorn, and soda bottles. “You looked like you’re gonna beat up that little kid.”

“Yeah. And I would have taken a video of that!” Otis exclaimed as if he was actually egging for it to happen. Then he shifted to a weird announcer voice, “On tonight’s news! The bullied becomes the bully. Watch this mean boy beat the small blondie to a pulp! By the way, this video is sponsored by Otis Chase. Please support me next year on The Voice!”

“Don’t mind him.” I grumbled. “It’s nothing.”

“That doesn’t sound like nothing.” Phineas pointed out. Then he just stared at me intensely. “You looked pretty angry out there.”

“Just drop it.” I grumbled and took some of the bags from Phineas’ arms.

“I am afraid we are not contented with that answer, Mr. Ellison.” Otis objected mockingly with a British accent. “I’d be happy to beat you up in the loo if you put a hand on that young lad.”

“I said drop the topic, damn it!” I snarled with a louder voice. Some teens around turned their heads at us as I walked past my friends. “Let’s just get inside.”

Otis just shrugged it off, but Phineas studied me carefully. I ignored him instead, and we got into the movie house. It would have been enjoyable, but my mind just drifted to the image of a dead Phineas. The image back in Otis’ house that Sunday morning shot back into my mind’s eye. Except it turned into the dead body of Phineas. And it almost made me throw up in my popcorn bag.

I grabbed the cuffs area of Phineas’ jacket sleeve and gripped it tightly. He seemed to have noticed it. My friend slouched back and rested his head on my shoulders. It effectively calmed me down as I desperately attempted to enjoy the movie. The darkness of the vast room helped me hide the tears that glistened in my eyes.

But it was futile. My head just swung wildly between my mom in the hospital and my friend beside me. Getting the Necronomicon could have killed us. And the cursed thing wanted even more from me.

After the movie, Mrs. Chase picked us up and dropped me in the hospital. I gave her my thanks after and said my goodbyes to Otis and Phineas. They were pretty psyched about the movie’s ending, but I was remarkably silent. I didn’t even understand a single thing at all. All I could see were the dead bodies of my mom and Phineas in my head.

Before I got out of the car, Phineas quickly hugged me. Then he tapped my face lightly that took me out of my fazed look momentarily.

“Don’t worry. We’re not mad at you or anything.” He whispered softly. I tried my best not to break down because it would be embarrassing to cry in front of Mrs. Chase. “We’re here for you, and we understand.”

“Thanks.” It was all I managed to say. Having said that, I left.

When I entered the room, I just gawked at my mother’s helpless figure on the bed. There was more stuff that was attached to her that monitored her vitals. I’d have to talk to her doctor again if ever. I checked her charts, and it seems that no one would be making a visit for her meds until midnight.

She even looked worse than the last time I saw her because there was a tint of grayish hue on her skin as if he was really dead. Her breathing was already labored, and it was a miracle she already lasted that long.

I just couldn’t let her die. Not without a fight.

Ekzorizein Apalezio.” I chanted. At that very moment, I started to use the avroi inside Isis’ mark on my wrist. Black scribbles of magical formulas began to spread throughout my arm. My right pointer finger started to focus a specific amount of avroi at the tip. It was what Isis taught me, so I could start writing temporary ritual circles.

I started writing on my mom’s skin and left some sort of blank ink on it. It was to be expected. That was what I did to create the Alazonian Curse. The venom was simply a medium to contain the curse that I infused the specific formula to build the foundations of the curse itself.

To put it simply, the venom works as the nucleus, and the formula works similarly to a DNA. Any specific commands that I had inscribed into its DNA will cause a particular reaction to its medium to enact the coded instructions. That was what Isis told me. It was the very foundation of Altimeraean magic—it takes hold of the so-called Law of the Realm. It makes temporary amendments to create varying effects.

I had to read a bunch of ancient books during my time with Isis. The mysterious feline just summoned books out of nowhere so that I may learn the fundamentals of the Law. Thankfully, I had always been gifted in understanding complicated things. My mom always told me that I should not have held back in my academic achievements. I could have accelerated above my current grade level if I really wanted to.

But Otis and Phineas were precious to me. I wouldn’t trade them.

Isis also told me that mages all over Altimeraea have their specialties in amending certain portions of the Law. However, there are certain chosen mages called Rune Mages that could amend a more extensive range of the Law, making them the most versatile. That’s why Isis taught me an unorthodox way to inscribe magic and infuse them into specific forms of mediums.

It was a way to imitate their form of magic. The feline’s knowledge was vast, but it admitted that there are still many things to learn.

That was when the image of the dark-skinned woman with silvery-white hair whom I encountered back in the M’Vokagola came into mind. Her magic was quite confusing. She could use weapons, conjure projectile-based magic, and further enhance her nimble movements. If it wasn’t for my surprising trump card, I wouldn’t have gotten past her.

As I was busy preparing the ritual, the door swung open.

My heart almost leaped to my throat. No one was scheduled to visit her. I immediately shifted my focus from my inscription to getting my wights ready for a summon. But it was none other than Eran who showed up.

“What are you doing?” He asked firmly.

“I thought I was clear that I don’t want to see you again.” I barked.

“I asked a question.” Eran stated. A bit more stiffly this time. He walked towards me and saw the ritual I was in the process of making. “What are you planning to do, Nikki?”

“Why do you care?” I asked.

“Because you might end up doing something stupid.” He retorted. Then he slowly gazed upon the inscriptions I made. Eran mostly knew how to read them and predict what I was planning to do. “That looks complicated.”

“It is.” I admitted.

“You’re planning to curse your own mother?” He asked.

“Yes.” I quipped. Then I went back to finish the formula. “Theoretically speaking, it should work. How did you know I was here?”

“I sensed your magic.” Eran replied. His eyes were still studying the formulas that were laid all over my mom’s body. “Your avroi was fine-tuned so specifically, so I thought you got attacked. I went here as soon as I can.”

“I can handle myself.” I said coldly. Then I wiped beads of sweat that started to form on my forehead. “I don’t need your help. The Necronomicon was a waste of time. I’ll find a way to remove my mother’s curse without the need to kill Phineas.”

“You don’t know what you’re saying. What you’re going to do is insane!” Eran disagreed. He gritted his teeth and summoned white flames in his hand. “If I have to stop you by force, then I will.”

“I’m not in a mood for a fight, Eran.” I admonished.

He just leaned back on the wall and snuffed out the flames. It was nothing but an empty threat. “Not in front of my mom.”

“Just what are you planning, huh?” He asked again. “Just stop this. You know the answer already. You know what Samael really wants.”

“You don’t know how hard it is to choose between a friend and a parent. And I doubt you will ever understand that.” I almost snarled at him. Then I summoned my Nyxian Blade to made a shallow cut on her arm. “Just get out of here if you really want to help. I need to focus.”

“Let me know first what you’re going to do here.” Eran replied.

“I’m going to recreate a similar curse like the Alazonian. Except it runs on avroi. The original one was designed to consume the victim’s soul to heavily boost its regenerative capabilities, and it’s physical qualities.” I started explaining. Eran just listened intently. “Wights will infuse avroi on the other side of this spot and feed it to her the same way I was connected to them when I had to fill up my mark. In short, I’ll be creating a wireless charger for her. That should buy me a lot of time as I find a way to remove the curse.”

“Interesting. Isis was right to say you’re a genius.” Eran admitted. There was a surprised look on his face. “It should potentially work. But I lied. I won’t leave. I’ll stay and watch just in case.”

“Suit yourself.” I replied as I finished up on the ritual.

Eran just sat on the couch and observed closely with I was doing. It took me almost an hour to finish inscribing the ritual. The hospital bed and the other stuff were covered in magical formulas. Then I used the blood drawn from the wound as a speck of ink that connects with the rest of the formula.

“Why did you have to draw blood?” The blonde boy suddenly asked.

“Curses are amplified greatly if it is absorbed by organic things like saliva or other body fluids. That’s why I used snake venom before to carry the inscription of my curses.” I explained as I added the finishing touches. “This time, I’ll be using my mother’s blood as the medium.”

I took a deep breath and activated the mark on my wrist even further. The formula on my skin began to dance and extended further throughout my body. It would consume a lot of avroi for me because I would infuse it with at least 4.5 Liters of blood. That was the average amount of blood. It’s possible that there would be less because of my mother’s health.

I took a deep breath and summoned all my focus. Eran watched intently behind me and just observed. Then I cracked my knuckles as if I was going to do an outstanding performance on stage.

The first thing I did was press upon the wound and speak the ancient Qraellic language from Altimeraea. Avroi flowed madly through my arms, then I had my other arm reached for the arm I used to press on the ritual center.

Exouzis drachoris Ydj zeiseis apothrekareis,” I chanted. Eran seemed to be even more impressed. He stepped forward to take a good look as my hand shimmered into a blue hue. “dravaris ekstensi apanaoi aft Synvasis.

The formulas all over the room began to dance and flow into the center of the ritual. Exactly like it’s being absorbed. But the avroi in my body was tossed and turned as if there was a massive storm that raged. My lungs felt like their filled with fluid, and my breathing almost stopped. It was almost like they were going to crack open. My body went numb.

But that went away as my efforts were rewarded. The color came back to my mother’s arm. The apparatus beeped as her BPM rose steadily to a normal one. I couldn’t help but smile as the pain the coursed through my body echoed.

Everything about the ritual was like having lightning strike a metal rod to bring forth Frankenstein to life. Except for this time, my body was the metal rod. And I was the conductor for the massive amount of energy that was being passed into my mother’s body. Before I knew it, I was falling back. Eran immediately caught me from behind, and everything went dark.

I groaned in pain as I opened my mismatched eyes.

Eran was focused on my mother and had his back on me. The boy stood up, and both his palms were glowing into a mix of white and blue colors. From the looks of it, his breathing was heavily labored.

“What happened?” I asked as I slowly stood up. My legs could barely support my ability to stand as I awkwardly walked towards Eran’s back to take a look. But he kept his focus on my mom. “Talk to me!”

When I checked her body, she was like a dry leaf. Her body went into an even worse state, and I couldn’t do anything but watch Eran cast some sort of magic on her.

“Your plan backfired.” Eran grunted painfully. He was sweating hard. But the one thing I noticed the most was that he shrunk slightly shorter. “The curse started to consume her blood. She will have needed a transfusion if I haven’t intervened.”

“What?” I shrieked. “How did that happen?”

“I have no idea.” Eran admitted. But his focus on his palms was intense as his mysterious white flames brought a peaceful glow in the room. “I managed to stop the curse because some of the inscriptions that you used were familiar since Isis also taught me a bit of it.”

“You quickly used a counter-inscription to negate the fundamental formula I used on that curse.” I concluded. Eran just nodded to confirm my suspicion. “Thank you.”

After a few more minutes and he stopped.

When he faced me, I couldn’t help but gawk at him. It was as if his body went on a reverse, and he was indeed shorter. His face looked more youthful. Eran simply became a couple of years younger.

“How did this happen to you?” I asked.

“This is the cost of the magic I use.” He replied. His voice was even more high-pitched. “If I force myself to produce the avroi I needed, it starts to eat away my body. That’s why I looked younger. But in reality, it consumes my life span.”

“That’s why you know a lot of things.” I added conclusively. Then I stared at him for a moment. “You’re not really a kid, are you?”

Eran just stood silent at stared back. I looked at her vitals, which simply dropped down to quite alarming levels. Her heart was barely beating.

“I don’t have to say it.” Eran suggested. “You know what needs to be done.”

“I can still find a way!” I gritted my teeth. But I knew that it was just a delaying tactic. Eran’s eyes were full of pity. And I could feel my blood rising to my cheeks. “I know there are other ways!”

“Samael’s curse had suddenly progressed quickly. Your mother managed to fight it effectively.” Eran replied bitterly. He tried to reach out to my shoulder, but I slapped his hand away. We saw each other eye to eye. Yet I could barely catch his. Tears had already started to pour out. “I’m sorry about this, Nikki. I am. But as of now, it’s the only way.”

“No!” I snapped. “No. No. I won’t do it!”

“You know what to do.” Eran groaned. “Only Samael has the antidote. And we don’t have other means to get an alternative cure.”

“I can still find a way!” I almost growled at him. “There is always a way.”

“Yes.” He said gravely. His eyes were already blank, and its deep blue colors made it even colder. “And this is the only way.”

My knees wobbled. Strength had left my legs. The next thing I knew was that my body fell forward. But Eran caught me. The blonde boy hugged me, and I couldn’t help but hug back and cry on his shoulders.

“I can’t do it.” I sobbed.

Eran just stayed silent. He just welcomed me in his arms. Both of us were locked in an embrace inside my mother’s hospital room.

In my head, there was that aching question that echoed over and over again. I just found it even worse that the drums of my heart had beaten even louder. That one question started as a small voice. And in the next few minutes, they had turned into screams of agony.

Am I willing to kill my best friend for my mother?

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