At the designated time they set out. The house was eerily quiet and although they had uncovered several windows everything still looked haunted and grey.
The first room on their tour was Xyvens’. The room was fairly unremarkable but there was evidence that someone was staying there. There was a black winter jacket hanging on the back of the door, a dead cell phone, and a working lap top. Dak’kon checked for an internet connection but there were no viable options. Beside the laptop there was a stack of games and DVDs presumably to stave off boredom. Dak’kon did not look through the titles or the files on the man’s computer. He wasn’t interested in Xyven himself and even if he had been he would have went with a more direct approach. There was no evidence that the demon had been here, no evidence of torment or struggle.
“He has a whole pharmacy in here.” Nikolai was standing in front of the open wardrobe. The shelves were stocked with pills, powders, and phials of fluid. Xyven wasn’t making his drugs here but he had a sizable stash. The bottles all had peculiar hand-written names, they were custom and likely for the man’s personal entertainment. They were organized into categories aphrodisiacs, analgesics, paralytics, hallucinogenics, sedatives, stimulants and so on. Everything was so neatly organized that it would be impossible to remove anything without tipping the man off. This was more than sufficient to get the chef arrested if that had been their aim. What would the backlash be? A bunch of dead policemen? A demon on the loose?
“You were right about the drugs.” Dak’kon said closing the wardrobe door. He didn’t really like the idea of Xyven having access to such an impressive arsenal especially considering the man’s propensity toward non consensual sharing.
“Lets check out the other rooms.”
Strange turned out to be the operative word. All the rooms had their share of curiosities and from the looks of it Xyven hadn’t changed a thing. There were even items specifically marked with “Do not touch” placards. There were marionettes, rows of broken hand mirrors, moment of death photos, boxes with tiny bones and teeth, amulets and hairpins, cabinets with miniatures arranged in various horrific poses. Dak’kon wasn’t easily scared but he had to question the old man’s choice of décor. How many of the items had been cleansed and how many were still cursed waiting for a clumsy touch to activate them? Dak’kon was careful not to touch any of the old man’s effects, the last thing they needed was another pissed off entity running around. Some of the items Nikolai could identify. The stories varied from touching to horrendous. It was becoming increasingly apparent that he wasn’t qualified as caretaker. What the hell had his grandfather been thinking when he’d left him the place? Possibly that he was the only remaining relative.
“I get it now. What I am supposed to do.” Nikolai said picking up a small hand held mirror. Dak’kon watched as the red head suffused the cursed looking glass with a golden light. He watched the glass restitch itself, grain by grain and the metal regain its sheen. When Nikolai was finished Dak’kon took the mirror turning it over in his hands, it looked as it must have in the moment of purchase. Though the most surprising changes took place at a fundamental level just beneath the threshold of human awareness, the object was purified. If Nikolai could do this with all the forsaken items than he could sell the house with a clean conscious. The gardener went through all the objects on the vanity even the ones that came with explicit warnings.
It was obvious by the red head’s expression, by the furrowing of his brows, that it took a good deal of concentration to the perform the ritual.
“I am so hungry!” Nikolai said flopping backwards onto the bed. He stretched his lanky body out to its maximum length.
“I’ll get us some food.” Dak’kon offered he couldn’t be certain if the base ingredients in the kitchen were contaminated but it seemed far more likely that Xyven added the poison later.
Dak’kon settled with peanut butter sandwiches, it wasn’t so much that he couldn’t cook as it was quick. Nikolai did not follow him to the kitchen and by the time he got back the man was sound asleep. Given that they had only just gotten out of bed it was rather odd. Had the red head overused his powers? Had one of the do not touch items posed a particular challenge? Dak’kon sat the plate down on the nightstand and it was then that he noticed something most curious. A mirage of color rose up from Nikolai’s body like waves of heat off tarmac. Red and black and utterly oppressive. Was Nikolai discharging the negative energies absorbed in the artifacts? Curiosity caused him to reach his hand into the field. The hairs on his arm rose up, endorphins cascaded through every inch of his body. His eyes lost focus and started to close but he forced them open and yanked his hand back. So this is what happened last night? He’d become entangled in the other man’s orbit, an unwitting satellite?
“You haven’t been very honest with me Dak’kon.” There in the doorway was a-not-so-obvious, far-more-intimidating version of Xyven. Long tentacles of smoke wafted from the man’s flesh like ephemeral limbs. His yellow eyes penetrated through the fog and held with Dak’kon’s own in unspoken threat. That he smiled only added to the sense of malice. “Such a terrible curiosity you have…all those questions…all that pointless prodding…” The malevolence floated closer. Why had he revealed himself now? Had he been drawn in by Nikolai’s miasma? “Have you guessed my name yet? No, because I am the progenitor. The evolved. The only one of my kind.” Xyven said stopping in the middle of the room. The overhead light began to flicker maniacally and static filled the room, still Nikolai did not wake up. What had Xyven evolved from? And had evolution rendered him superior or inferior to the source? “And what of Nikolai? Do you know what he is yet? Who?” The demon asked pointing toward the sleeping gardener. “I am not here to answer your pointless questions. I am here to feed. He calls out to me. He is mine.” The demon said and Nikolai’s body began to rise up off the bed.
“Feed on me instead.” Dak’kon said standing, eyes looking directly into the demons’ though it gave him a wicked headache.
“I am monogamous once I have chosen a prey. I would follow you all the days of your life. I give you a few years at most. So I ask you human would you die for that Aasimer?” Aasimer? The word meant nothing to Dak’kon but it was a start. It was now possible to work out Nikolai’s powers. The venom with which Xyven articulated the word suggested that Nikolai was somehow opposite.
“Dying is just part of the charm of being human. I’ll take his place.” Dak’kon stated. He didn’t trust the demon to keep his word but he needed time to come up with a plan.
Xyven lowered Nikolai back to the bed. “Put your hand on him…draw the poison into yourself. If you can withstand it then I’ll accept your offer.” Dak’kon laid a hand on Nikolai’s chest, right over the man’s softly beating heart. Black tendrils wrapped around his forearm, there was no pulling away. That he didn’t know how to initiate an energy transfer didn’t seem to matter, the energy was moving of its own accord. What sort of man would he become? Nikolai’s supernatural powers had assuredly slowed the rate of corruption but he was human and humans were fucked up. He didn’t consider himself to be special or exceptional in any respect, he was just a man plain and simple. He felt powerful, horny, sick to his stomach, distant. His pulse echoed in his ears, as percussive as thunder. His breathing grew harsh and uneven. His cock throbbed with intense heat. His balls were tight and full. His jaw clenched. His eyes grew heavy. The room began to swim around him. Phenomena floated in the air, wisps of color, flashes of transparency, fissures in the very infrastructure. The energy surrounding Nikolai cleared at length and took on a golden sheen.
“Don’t worry about him…he’ll be unconscious for a while.” The demon made a come-hither motion and Dak’kon’s body rose up on its own accord and slid jerkily toward the creature.
“Can we do this in a different room at least…” While Xyven was laughing at his request Dak’kon reached into his pocket for the phial and with a hard flip of the wrist the glass burst all over the floor. Purple effluvium rose from the shards and the demon released him and went totally rigid. Dak’kon’s body dropped and it took a moment before he could get his legs underneath him. He had to get Nikolai to safety that was tantamount but if he could get through the mirror himself that was one compelling fucking bonus.
Dak’kon threw Nikolai over his shoulder and bolted for his bedroom without so much as a glance in Xyven’s direction. Adrenalin kept him on his feet, kept him moving though every muscle in his body revolted. The mirror shifted like water in an aquarium and together they passed through to the other side and possibly into a permanent prison.
Dak’kon closed the portal before putting Nikolai down on the mattress. He could no longer see or hear anything occurring in the rest of the house. They no longer had any reliable way of knowing when Xyven was in a state of dormancy. Without windows they couldn’t even determine the weather and if it was possible to drive the car to safety. As long as the poison was inside of him the demon could find him, this was the only place he knew to be safe and it wouldn’t be safe once they ran out of food. They did have an extra piece of the puzzle though Nikolai was an Aasimer and now that the red head was free of the demon’s disease his powers might be stronger.
Dak’kon paced the room, sometimes stopping and dropping to clutch his throbbing head. He was only just able to prevent himself from throwing up at these times. He ached from the inside out. He burned with fever and yet he was still painfully erect. He kept checking the mirror, kept trying to listen through the walls for some sign but all he could hear was his own wild and grasping breath. Sleeping seemed impossible, he was in too much pain to sleep, his thoughts were frayed but persistent. Eventually exhaustion took over and he allowed himself to slide down the wall to the cold wooden floor before he lost consciousness altogether.