Nikki - I Officially Have Trust Issues
“No.” It was all that I could muster. My head painfully turned back to Eran who kept his focus on the mysterious figure a few feet away from our spot. Its mere presence was heavy despite its back turned against us. Before, there was an awful amount of light and a booming voice was the only thing I could identify. But seconds later, I can make out a huge creature with great wings. “It can’t be.”
“You were pretty easy to manipulate, Nikki.” Eran spoke. I just stood there and felt totally dumb. He had a small smug on his face. My fingers started to shake as I summoned my blade and point it against him. All I could do was grit my teeth and gripped the Necronomicon that roared with power. “It’s useless. You won’t win against us.”
“How dare you talk to me!” I roared at him. Then with a slam of palm into the water, a small horde of my creatures emerged. But Eran was unfazed. His eyes were simply cold from any remorse. “I trusted you! I fucking trusted you, Eran!”
“It was your choice to give trust.” The blonde boy replied. His voice was kind of sad. And it pissed me off even further. My creatures advanced against him but Eran was a powerful mage. With one swipe of his arm, a huge sword made out of blue flames ignited from the tip of his fingers. Then he slashed through my creatures cleanly as it quickly burned away into nothing. “I merely used it for the greater good. And something you won’t understand for now.”
“Young Nikolai.” The creature spoken again, calling my attention. My throat was too dry to even respond. “Be angry against fate. Be angry against destiny. Free yourself from the One who had set everything in place.”
The hulking creature descended into the water and its presence immediately vanished. All my will to live was gone as well. I didn’t even get to see the diasmo’s face. It was nothing but a mythical creature of light with huge wings behind it. An uncanny similarity to Eran’s pair of angel-like wings. I saw bits of its medieval armor but that was it.
“That’s what the Black Sorceress has been fighting against. That’s what we have all been fighting for.” Eran added. Then he looked at as if he was trying to send a message. But my eyes were slightly blurred with tears. “She’s fighting on behalf of all of us. She wants us to be able to choose destiny for ourselves. And she was willing to pay the price no matter what.”
“I don’t understand why Phineas had to die!” I groaned. More tears poured out and I had to wipe them off every few seconds or so. “I don’t understand why my mom is in a coma! They have nothing to do with this!”
“Believe me, Nikki. They have something to do with it.” Eran stated bitterly and bowed his head down. “They are your loved ones and they have been involved because you have been chosen to play a huge part of what is to come.”
“It wasn’t their choice!” I bellowed against him. “And it wasn’t my choice to be a part of this otherworldly shit. Take my powers! I don’t care anymore! Just give my mother and Phineas back!”
“And that’s exactly why the Black Sorceress waged war against the One who controls destiny.” Eran quipped. “Do we really have our own choices? Or is some higher being the one making choice for us?”
I fell silent. My head hurt. My knees wobbled. Everything inside of me just jammed against itself. I grabbed my head and just screamed and cried out. The only thing I remembered was that I attacked Eran out of nowhere. But the boy was nimble and easily avoided getting sliced
But Eran didn’t strike back. Even if he had the means to kill me on the spot.
“I hate you!” I screamed at him. Then my arms just kept swinging the Nyxian Blade at him. But Eran was quick. His reflexes enabled him to dodge all of my hacking attacks. “Give me back Phineas! Give me back my life!”
The next thing I felt was some sort of resistance in my blade. My sight was awful from all my crying and I quickly wiped them off again. That was when I saw that I managed to stab Eran in his right shoulder. Blood poured out as he silently grunted from the pain.
The blade cleanly went through his body. Bones, muscles and all.
“I’m sorry it had to end this way, Nikki. I really am.” Eran plainly stated. He allowed me to stab him because it would have been impossible to hit someone like him from my mindless slashing. “Sacrifices need to happen. Or else we wouldn’t value the results we get all the more.”
“I thought you were my friend.” I sulked.
“While I’ve always stated not to consider me as one.” Eran pointed out. He stared at me straight in the eye. “My only goal is to free my father from that seal done by Aleus. Bring the Necronomicon to Samael. Perhaps you can still save your mother.”
He pulled himself away from the blade. Then Eran touched the wound and flames erupted from his palm. The boy cried out and whimpered as he cauterized his wound. Beads of sweat formed quickly on his forehead. In a matter of seconds, the injury I’ve inflicted closed up. Even the bleeding stopped.
“This will be a reminder of what I’ve done to you.“ Eran mused.
“I don’t fucking care!” I shot back. “You took my friend from me!”
“I didn’t. That was all you.” He quipped. His matter-of-factly tone pissed me off even further. “You chose your mother over him. It was as simple as that.”
I gritted my teeth. Then I raised my blade once more. But a blast of flames suddenly emerged before me. I managed to hop backwards because a wall of fire just appeared between us out of thin air.
Before I could fathom what was going on, I saw the woman that we saw back from Asphodel. She was distinct. From her appearance, to her poise, to her aura. I knew that woman was a monster hiding in the flesh.
She was a powerful mage. One of the most powerful ones I have ever met.
Her silvery white hair that was properly arranged in cornrows was definitely a trademark of her appearance. She walked towards us. Her stance was strong and graceful. And to her right hand was her rapier-like blade. That was when I noticed her golden-amber eyes that gleamed with life in the deadness of Asphodel.
“Hand me back the Necronomicon!” She declared in her loud voice.
“Who do you think you are?” I shot back.
“Very well.” She replied.
But Eran charged at her and started with a barrage of his blue and white flames. The woman effectively dodged it as if she was dancing. I noticed her lips chanting something so I decided to back away.
I released the Rod of Asclepius and its marks expanded through my arms. It made me flinch as the surge of avroi flooded my body. I shifted my focus to create a bigger summoning field for my undead army. As soon as a bunch of dead arms rose from the waters, the woman dodged towards my way. She struck the surface of the water with a quick slice from her rapier and it froze.
My undead minions were trapped in between the frozen water.
Then she charged at me as a series of lunges were launched. And in-between those seconds, Eran engaged her in close combat with a pair of flame-coated fist. I defended myself with her lunges as her swordplay sped up. The blade flawlessly whipped through the air and attacked Eran and I at the same time.
Eran blasted both of us with a boulder-sized fireball. I easily deflected it with my Nyxian Blade as the woman used the chance to tumble away. As the blonde boy charged at me with a burning fist, I raised my weapon in defense. But before he could get even near me, he dodged away because a thin ray of concentrated light soared between Eran and I.
The white laser managed to cut a couple of his feathers. We both looked to see that it came from the tip of the woman’s rapier. She immediately lunged at me once again as I continuously backed away. Eran disrupted her attacks only to get a shallow cut on her arms.
Both of them were fighting incredibly near me. It was a three-way battle. Eran attacked both the woman and I at the same time. She did the same. And the only thing I could do was parry their attacks away. It was then the boy had the opportunity to smash throw the weak chain and took away the Necronomicon.
The woman escalated to more aggressive attacks right away.
Next thing I noticed was that we were surrounded by floating swords. I tried to look for a way out but all directions were covered. The woman managed to cast her spells while attacking us at the same time. With a swipe of her blade, the swords of assorted shapes and sizes attacked us. Eran resisted by blasting them with his sheer literal firepower.
And the only thing I did was dive into the water.
I managed to get away by shifting to the upper layer of Asphodel. The fight nothing to do with me so I knew the best way was to retreat on my own back to my dimension. Before I could regain my stance, I noticed an incoming attack. Thankfully, my reflexes kicked in and parried it successfully.
“What the hell?” I exclaimed.
Shadows in the form of the woman were around me. There were five of them and each were equipped with a pair of her rapier. It was probably from another spell that she used while attacking us.
The woman was indeed a force to be reckon with. Eran was a strong mage and yet she can take us on at the same time without breaking a sweat. To make it worse, she was able to cast support spells on both layers of Asphodel while attacking us simultaneously. Truly a monster.
My otherworldly opponents did not wait for even five seconds and began attacking me. I couldn’t find a moment of opportunity to summon my minions to aid me in battle. Just one was enough. As soon as I inject it with the Alazonian Curse, I’d be able to get a sure opportunity to escape.
Thankfully, they didn’t attempt to hack at me simultaneously. My ability to wield the sword was all fueled by some weird instinct. Isis never taught me anything about using my weapon. As I tried to parry their attacks, a huge arm thicker than my leg erupted from the ground and dragged me back to the deeper layer of Asphodel.
I got slammed to the surface of the water as I winced in pain. Three golems made out of flesh were already summoned. They were about 8 feet tall. Even bigger than my minion with the Alazonian Curse. Its arms were thick and had a dark gray color of skin. The head was faceless and had a clay-like surface. Yet the whole body was built with huge muscles. It was genderless and was simply a humongous clay doll of muscles.
And then there was also some sort of flying creature with two pair of bat-like wings hovered over us. It almost looked like a prehistoric creature. Eran was taking on two of the golems and the woman at the same time. From the looks of it, they were also her own summons. The blonde boy was having a hard time battling against her.
I looked at the fleshy golem that grabbed me. But I used that opportunity to summon a serpent from my sleeve and inject it with my trump card. The woman noticed it at the corner of her eye. Almost like she waited for me to use it.
All I needed was a raging monster that could give me a window to escape.
The enemy handed it to me. As I staggered to get up, the raging golem charged at them and clashed with the other ones. It grew even bigger and the skin went darker. Surprisingly, the thickness of the arms went slightly thinner but became more formed and toned with muscles. A couple of horns also erupted from its head and a bump of flesh started to grow under its huge arms.
I saw the woman caught in surprise as my golem grew another pair of arms while its fingers turned into huge claws. It even surprised me further because it also grew a pair of huge wings. With that kind of size, I was not sure if it was possible to fly. Both Eran and the woman shifted their focus and attacked the golem.
I already had the moment to escape. But there was something else I needed to do. Eran might know the answer.
My knees wobbled as I tried to feel the sharp pain at my right side. Even my breathing was turned into a huge hassle. I lifted my shirt slightly to see a huge bruise all over my side. It had a reddish and purple color. Touching it was agonizing. Yet I summoned all my strength to conjure a summoning field for my minions.
As a couple of them crawled out of the waters, I immediately conjured my special serpents from the marks all over my arm and injected the last two doses of my concocted experiment. Both turned into huge monsters in mere seconds and joined the fray.
I took a deep breath to dive back into the other side of Asphodel to confront the shadows of that woman. But before I could manage to slip in there, someone grabbed from behind and a blade was posed at my neck. It was a short dagger. As far as I knew, Eran had no ability to summon any weapons. It looked like he still had other forms of magic up his sleeve.
It was then I noticed that Eran was missing in the chaos. The woman and her remaining minions battled against three of mine. A few seconds later, I saw the arm of one of mine being ripped away from its body. Her golem had grown bigger and it already had weapons as big as its wielders.
“Nikki, I want you to know something.” He whispered as he hugged me into an embrace. The blade inched closer to my neck. And as the cold black steel touched my skin, it drew my blood. “If the circumstances were different, then you would have been my closest friend.”
Before I could resist, he had let me go. Wings erupted from his back and stepped back. The woman used that moment to cast a spell from afar. It was the same spell that would blast with a concentrated laser of light. But before she could kill the blonde boy, I wanted to ask Eran something. I did the only thing I could do. I charged at Eran and grabbed him. We fell into the waters as we travelled from the deeper layer of Asphodel to the upper layer.
Then I immediately pushed him into the real world before the woman could follow to the upper layer. Or before the shadows would be able to attack us. It will take only a few seconds before she would follow us to our current dimension. Those were the seconds I needed to ask it.
“Tell me!” I roared. “Is there a way to free Phineas from the Necronomicon?”
Eran looked at me for a second. “There is.”
“How?” I urged. Then I tried to lunge at him. Yet the boy didn’t flinch and just stepped sideways. He attempted to do a counterattack with a blade made out of searing flames. We had a clash of blades until he stepped forward to gain the upper hand and launched an aggressive set of slashes. I pressed forward even harder which caught him off-guard and I managed to make a shallow cut under his right eye with my blade’s longer reach. Eran retaliated but I got to step back right away before he could reach me. “Answer me!”
“Find out for yourself. It’s time to say goodbye, Nikki. I already have what I needed.” He replied. The blonde boy took out a set of folded parchments from his back pocket. He opened it enough to let me see some sort of instructions for a ritual circle. Eran must have torn them from the Necronomicon during the skirmish. He threw the Necronomicon by my feet. “Here, I’m doing it out of mercy. Save your mother.”
My body instantly moved and grabbed the ancient tome from the ground. But when I looked up, he threw his dagger right at my face. Thankfully, my otherworldly reflexes were at play and I deflected the projectile away.
“Grow stronger, Nikolai.” Eran commanded firmly. His scornful gaze would be the last thing I would remember about him. The boy wiped the blood from the cut that I made on his face. “The next time we’ll see each other, we’ll be enemies.”
Before I could react, he blasted me with a huge blue fireball, almost the size of a boulder. I warped back into Asphodel to avoid the incoming attack. Then I quickly warped again into my own dimension. Yet Eran was gone. I looked around to see him almost a hundred feet up to the sky. His wings flapped furiously as he tried to get away.
The traitor got away.
I heard a soft step a couple of feet behind me. The next thing I knew was that my arms were shackled with large roots of trees that stretched from the ground. It pulled me down hard that I dropped to my knees and blade was already at my neck.
“I finally caught up to you, little Necromancer. You are such a waste of sheer talent.” She spoke. Her ebony skin were smooth and firm. I could see the muscles bore by harsh training on her arms. It caused me to slowly turn my eyes towards her by the blade was raised against my face so I stopped right away. “Guilty, too. Helping Teios Kyr, that is.”
I didn’t answer.
“Give me the Necronomicon.” She admonished. Her voice was icy and cold.
“No!” I barked at her. Then I gripped the Necronomicon that I held close to my body even harder. “I need this to save my mother! I’m not going to let her die!”
“It seems you have paid a dear price. That ancient grimoire of evil had already opened itself to you.” The woman explained. I fought back my tears but failed. She saw the glistening of my eyes. Then she noticed the gleaming red crystal between the teeth of the tome’s front cover. “But young one, the Necronomicon is not for the living. If you attempt to use the powers of the Necronomicon on her then you’ll just be taking away what’s left of her life.”
“Yo-You don’t u-understand!” I stammered. But I took hold of myself and stared at her strongly. If my eyes could do a laser vision like Superman could then it would. “My mom is about to die and I’m the only one that could save her.”
The woman just stared at me. Her amber eyes went softer for every second that passed by. “Please explain the whole situation. But first, we must go back to where you came from.”
Then she drew some symbols in the air. A red glyph remained hovering before us. Suddenly, she quickly grabbed me by the forehead that caused me to step back but she had her other arm grappling me by the shoulder.
“What are you doing?” I shrieked.
“Close your eyes and picture your home.” The woman admonished. Her voice was suddenly so gentle compared to the bravado that she showed during the skirmish. I reluctantly obliged and pictured our house. “Alkogskeporian.”
“What now?” I asked.
“Mundis Veiroxis.” She chanted. Then I felt a shivering wave of tingle from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. “Open your eyes, little one.”
“Woah.” I gasped.
We were back inside our living room just how I pictured it to be. It looked like no attempted to break in or anything while I was gone. Everything was still neatly set in place. I made sure to keep everything clean. Disappointing my mother was out of the question.
The woman found our couch and sat on it promptly. She seemed a little bit stiff and poised herself with formality like a guest. Technically, she was. But I felt the awkward tension in the air. One moment we were fighting against each other, then the next moment was I was having her as a guest in our home.
“How did you manage to stop my rampaging minions?” I asked.
“I transmuted my golems into a cage for your pets and warped them to Limbo, a different dimension from here, Altimeraea or Asphodel. It’s an empty space devoid of time.” She replied softly. Then she drew a number of glyphs and chanted under her breath. A tea set suddenly appeared on the center table of our living room. She picked up a cup and started sipping on it. “I implore you to sit down and explain the situation. Please.”
So I did.
I told her from how it all started. From the moment I noticed that weird ghost in the halls of our school, to meeting Samael. Then I told her how I met Eran as well as how Isis taught me all of my knowledge in Necromancy. She looked at me intensely while I explained how I managed to absorb all the information.
I knew that I almost have an eidetic memory. She was pretty much impressed when I recited certain parts of the books that Isis told me to read before. My mom and my friends knew that I was a natural genius but I deliberately chose to live a more simple life.
To me, all of my experimentations with what I was given came naturally. I saw some sort of interest spark in her eyes despite trying to hide it. The woman looked at with me with a childish curiosity as she asked me to explain all the details of the varying framework of the incantations I inscribed into my curses.
Since it was still in the testing phase, she asked me to pause on it and we moved on to other topics. I also told her that I met the Black Sorceress in Asphodel which caused her to go pale. The woman said that it was only a small mirage of her true self and warned me to flee if I ever encounter her again.
Then we also talked about how Eran suggested to steal the Necronomicon from M’Vokagola. She explained that the Citadel was actually a secret school for a certain group of mages called Rune Mages. It also served as a research facility and a center for knowledge on Necromancy and Life Magic. I was in awe when she said that she was the assigned overseer of the whole thing. She was practically the principal of the Citadel of M’Vokagola for short.
No wonder why she showed up right away when we raided the Citadel. I knew that she was simply caught surprise by my trump card. But the skirmish proved that she managed to circumvent the problem despite facing three of them. From that moment that she appeared on that dark hallway in the Citadel, I felt some sort of fear towards her. The woman was a fierce warrior that can fight in terms of sword and magic. A tremendously powerful combination.
She expressed surprise how we managed to elude her for a while and I just spilled out everything. Next part was the painful part. Sorrow filled both our eyes as I recollected how I ended up killing Phineas for the sake of my mother. I explained how Samael poisoned my mother through some unknown means and only he has the antidote. It’s all going to be useless now since they have what they needed from the ancient tome.
I also added about the diasmo that Eran led me to. She also turned pale when I talked about this and described what I saw in the deeper part of Asphodel. Then the woman explained that it was simply the spiritual form of it and the actual physical body was hidden somewhere else. The spirit was sealed during a battle that took place a year ago where the Black Sorceress tasted her defeat.
But she also added that due to some unknown sinister magic, it was very possible for her to return to life.
The woman pressed further questions and I replied mechanically. It was like some sort of interview so I could give a complete account of what happened from the moment I discovered my powers.
“I’m sure by now, you know that the Necronomicon is not a toy.” She stated as she gazed on the ancient tome that I placed on the central table during our conversation. I just looked at the red crystal that was still being bitten by the teeth on the front cover. “It would be best to both our interest to return it. As the High Magus, it is my duty to protect such artifacts.”
“I want to first release my friend from the cage of this thing.” I pleaded. My tears almost flowed again but I managed to stop myself. “He needs to move on. I won’t be at peace if he is not at peace.”
“That would be impossible. The Necronomicon will only release its key vessel once you, the caster of the curse, die of natural causes.” The woman deplored. She sipped her tea quietly and pondered over me. It seemed what Eran said right beforehe left was right. There was a way to release Phineas from the Necronomicon. “As long as you remain here, it will continue to draw from the power of your bond with its vessel. The stronger the bond, the more potent its magic will be.”
“So that means once I move on, he will as well.” I concluded. I hated to admit it but it was a bit satisfying that Phineas won’t be trapped in the cursed thing. So, I reached out and stroke the red crystal on the cover. “Is there a way to communicate with his soul?”
“Yes.” She quipped. “But that’s a complicated magic. It’s too early for you to talk to him because his soul is still in the process of transitioning in this new state. A human soul is not designed to materialize physically.”
“Is he in pain?” I asked reluctantly.
There was a long pause from her. And my windpipe almost closed up as her pause passed by in our living room.
“I’m afraid so.” She mournfully replied. My heart sank from her answer. I wished that I didn’t ask at all. “His pain is still as fresh as the moment you took away his life.”
“Is there any way for us to lessen his pain?” I asked fiercely. Tears already fell down through my cheeks. But the High Magus simply shook her head. “No! There has to be a way!”
“You have to believe in your friend’s strength and tenacity.” She firmly pointed out. I gritted my teeth. I was totally helpless. To make it worse, I was the reason why Phineas was suffering. “It varies from vessel to vessel. He will eventually transition into this new state.”
“Does that mean I technically own the Necronomicon?” I asked. The woman nodded. “If so then I have every right to keep this!”
“That’s completely true.” She agreed. “But do you have the knowledge to use the Necronomicon properly? You are a very intelligent individual. I am remarkably astonished at your ability to learn fast. Yet you are also young and naive. How sure are you that no one can manipulate you like before?”
I just bit my lip at that statement.
“I am well sure that on your own, you will still be able to learn the dark secrets of the Necronomicon.” The woman continued. “However, I am also sure that you are going to be out there and be a powerful weapon that can be used by more cunning mages. You will cause the suffering of other people aside from your friend. Will you be able to live with that?”
My body began to shake at the weight of those statements.
“Earn the right to use this.” The High Magus admonished. She reached out and took it from the table. I wanted to stop her. But she was right. I cannot be trusted to have such thing. ”Besides, Teios Kyr got what they wanted. You no longer have a bargaining chip to save your mother. Unnecessary violence is such a sad thing.”
“This is all my fault! I failed Phineas! I failed my mother!” I muttered. The boulder in my stomach just kept growing inside me. Its heaviness crushed me from within my body. “If only I was wise enough to see through Eran. He already told me that he was not a friend yet I kept believing that he will be!”
I shamelessly sobbed before the High Magus. Everything was just too heavy. I could simply summon my blade and end my life and free Phineas. But the image of Samael entered my head. His devious smile triggered me further.
“I’ll kill him! I won’t rest until Samael is dead!” I growled as I wiped away my tears. The High Magus simply allowed me to throw my death threats. “Teios Kyr will pay! I will stop them no matter what!”
“What’s your name, young one?” She asked me. It was then I realized that we never introduced ourselves. My thoughts stopped in their tracks. The two of us had clashed blades and talked for the past couple of hours yet we didn’t even know each other’s names.
“Ni-Nicholas Ellison. You can call me Nikki.” I said. My voice was hoarse from the crying. “And who are you supposed to be?”
“My name is Shiraea Vohz.” She replied with dignity as she sheathed her blade into its scabbard behind her hip. “I’m the High Magus assigned by the Ministry of Solus Magus to the Citadel of M’Vokagola.”
I just nodded at her. Then I stood up and went for the door. But a quick hand grabbed me tightly by the shoulder. It made me turn back to see the woman who stopped me.
“Where are you going, young one?” She asked fiercely.
“Why did you stop me? I’m going to the hospital.” I sulked. Then I looked back down to the ground. “Eran got away. You have the Necronomicon so I have nothing to trade it with Samael. My mom’s about to die so I will spend her last moments with me by her side.”
“No. I refuse for you to go down that road.” Shiraea declared as she loosened the grip on my shoulder. “We can save your mother. But you will have to go with me.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You said that you want to stop Teios Kyr because you unintentionally helped them, correct?” She pointed out. I simply nodded as an answer. Shiraea seemed to be satisfied. “Then pay for your crimes. From now on, you will be a student of the Ministry of Solus Magus. I’ll be personally teaching you how to maximize your potential. If I see you handle yourself properly then I will allow you to own the Necronomicon.”