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The only one whom I actually allowed to have my work on his website is Armaell who invested the time to compile them into pdf.
“An addict is a person who is in the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice, or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming.”
- The Journey to the Afterlife
“But there is one thing I don’t understand. How did Zhon recognize you as his boss? It strikes me as highly unlikely that you look exactly the same in both multiverses.” I continue my train of thought and gesture at the prisoner.
Shade nods. “I also found it strange, but apparently Zhon has recognized my aura. His version of me has some strange cult going on. They aren’t even allowed to see his face.”
“That makes the whole issue a little more untrustworthy. What if he simply mistook you for someone who feels similar?” Elona asks.
I understand that my mother has a problem with believing this story. There is just one witness and I don’t think that Zhon is trustworthy. He is a spirit, a being who had his soul mashed together from several different donors. That makes him insane by definition. Who knows, maybe he is able to lie even to himself by some strange quirk of his insanity. There would be no way to detect that.
“Of course. We shouldn’t put too much weight on his words. But I checked his memories and the aura he felt when he was in his master’s presence, it really felt awfully similar to mine. Unless I don’t have a doppelgänger, his master really must be another me,” Shade explains.
Okay. If Shade checked Zhon’s memories, then that at least means that Zhon himself believes that he is telling the truth. I have a feeling that we are on the right trail, but we are only scratching the surface of the truth. There is a lot more to uncover, and learning the location of Zhon’s realm should be the first point on our to-do list. I tilt my head and focus my attention on Zhon. “We need the location of their base. As far as I am concerned, the spirits have far too many advantages at this point. They know how to attack us, but we can’t strike back at them. This has to stop.”
We can’t fight a war if we don’t even know the enemy’s location.
Shade smiles and pats Zhon’s shoulder. “Yes, but my friend here has no idea how to open a portal. He always just used the portal stones which were provided by his superiors. They are charms which are able to open a portal for a few seconds. Just enough for a handful of people to get through before the portal collapses.”
Marcus shakes his head. “I don’t understand why you are so happy about this. Doesn’t that mean that we can’t get our hands on them? We are stuck in this realm, if I understand the issue with the pathways correctly. And while we are sitting here, they cause havoc in my own realm.”
My father smiles at us. “Ah, yes. I’ll try to find a way to send you back sooner. Once you are there, you have to try to get your hands on one of their portal stones. Like the one Zhon used to abduct Marcus. It doesn’t matter if the stone is already used up. All I need is the magical formation which targets the portal towards another dimension. The residual energy should be enough to get the coordinates, so to speak.”
I shift on my feet. “Can’t we use the mana storm? I have a feeling that time is of the essence. And do you remember about Adea? I don’t want anything to happen to her.”
Elona crosses her arms in front of her chest and smiles. “Oh, yeah. That one. I am looking forward to meeting Jazira again. She still owes me ten silver coins for that one night in the bar when she left without paying.”
Shade raises an eyebrow. “Even I am not that pitiful to collect a debt which is a few lifetimes old. And regarding the storm… we sent you through the storm when it was in an active state. Right now our side of the storm is fairly inactive, which means that the two dimensions are fairly far away from each other. It would be a big risk to use that method right now. But don’t worry. You used the pathways to get here. If I try some configurations with the seed, I might be able to open a pathway ahead of time. You’ve proven that it is possible.”
Elona’s smile turns into a wide grin which shows her perfect teeth. “Oh, but it isn’t a small debt. How much do you think she owes me with interest? I intend to collect on that.”
“She is just a child right now,” I mutter.
“Whatever.” Shade sighs and points his scissors at Zhon. “Do we still have a need for that one? I’ve recorded all of his memories into a mana crystal, so his only use would be as a hostage.”
For a moment nobody answers. My father shrugs his shoulders and the scissors flash forward, opening Zhon’s throat from ear to ear. A wide arch of blood drops sprays onto the white wall and Zhon’s eyes widen in shock. He tries to speak, but that’s kind of hard when someone opened your neck like that. His eyes turn glassy and his head lolls to the side, blood still pumping from the wound.
I notice that Marcus swallows, as if he is about to say something. But in the end he decides to stomach the situation without saying a word. It seems like he remembers enough of his life as Nathan to know that being squeamish in front of my father isn’t a good idea.
“Now. That’s a mess. Why did you execute him like that? Normally, you torture them for days, just for the fun of it,” Elona says with raised eyebrows.
Shade cleans the scissors on Zhon’s clothes, taking extra care not to dirty himself. “He is a spirit. There is no point in torturing him since he has no afterlife. Once he dies, the different quantum waves which make up his soul simply dissolve in an attempt to return to their natural order. Souls can be influenced and changed, but they always return to a natural state. It’s like scribbling something into the beach. If you scratch deep enough, the marks might remain for a tide or two, but in the end the beach will return to normal.”
He sighs and shrugs. “If you leave me alone for now, I’ll try to find a way to get Seria and Marcus back to his realm. Just give me a little time.”
I excuse myself and retreat with Marcus while Elona stays behind to speak about something with Shade. After guiding him out of Shade’s laboratory, we end up back in the throne room and I realize that he is watching me intensely. “What?”
He crosses his arms in front of his chest and raises his hand, showing me the ring. “It’s been a while since we had a chance to talk. Don’t you think that there is a lot of explaining to do?”
I wet my lips and look at my own ring. “That’s a wedding bond. Once we are attuned to each other, we might even be able to share thoughts.”
He sighs. “That’s not what I meant. I know what a wedding bond is. My parents have one too. What I am concerned about is the fact that we still weren’t able to confirm something that you told me before all of this started.” He spreads his hands, seemingly enclosing the whole city.
“Oh…” I think I know what he means. “I could take you on a little tour.” A thought flashes through my mind and I imagine myself naked under him. “After some catching up.”
He stills. Apparently he caught my thoughts over the telepathic link. “Was that your imagination right now?”
I take his hand and guide him to one of the empty reception rooms which are located right next to the throne room. The guards don’t cause any trouble this time since Marcus was cleared by the head of security.
Once we are there, I lock the door and turn around to face him. The room is empty, except for a table and a few chairs. “I already told you that I love you. But I guess that men need physical proof.” I smile.
He smiles and slides his arms around me, kissing my neck. “It isn’t about that. But I would be horrified to find out that your little confession changed our relationship in a bad way.”
I sigh in contempt and let my hands slide to his trousers, working hard to free him. There is a burning, itching feeling between my legs which stayed unsatisfied for far too long.
He growls and reaches for my skirt, pushing it up. “We’ve no bed,” he complains. Then he discovers something else. “No panties?”
“Damn, I was caught.” I giggle and pull him to the floor, wrapping my legs around him. Marcus explores me with his fingers and quickly finds out that there is no need for foreplay.
“You really are a succubus.”
“Only half!” I pull him closer and seek his lips, pulling him into me. Seconds later we are gasping and rocking against each other as if there is no tomorrow. We didn’t even take the time to remove our clothes.
When his movements get urgent, he sends me over the edge and I feel my entire body shuddering with desire, which causes his release in turn.
Finally, we lay there in a dishevelled mess. I gasp. “That was good. Even if it was a little fast.” Then I realize that Marcus didn’t deflate.
He growls and raises my leg to flip me onto my side. “I don’t think that I want to stop already.” Forcing my hips against him, he thrusts and I shudder.
Then my eyes fall onto the amulet around his neck. I didn’t notice it before, but now that I look at it from close up… it’s strangely familiar. I point at the piece of jewellery, wondering where it came from. “W- W- wait! That, ah!”
He grabs my hand and forces me down, not even stopping the rhythm. Then he whispers into my ear. “I feel like I could go on forever!”
Mom! Curse you and all of your descendants! No, wait. That that would be me too. Forget it, I have to take the amulet away from him. Another thrust sends a shiver up my spine and Marcus nibbles on my ear while he slips a hand under my shirt to massage me.
Well, maybe I should wait a little until I take away the amulet? Just a few minutes? Or hours?