Earlier.

Darweshi had set out on a hunt intent on tormenting another victim, as was his habit. He truly enjoyed the hunts, his reasons for conducting them lately becoming more and more trivial. Like that online spat he had participated in a couple of weeks ago. Anyone who wasn't Darweshi Bahame would have soon forgotten such an insignificant event, but Afterlife was different. And this adjective didn't cover only his origin. The next night, the boy found his unfortunate opponent only to put him in a lake created of blue fire he made in his astral realm. The man was going to spend the whole rest of eternity in there, until something changed Darweshi's mind on his ultimate fate. Meting the punishment out to this guy was so easy for the mutant from Zanzibar that it almost wasn't any fun at all. Tormenting this gibbering idiot as he was begging him for forgiveness, standing before him when his big dark eyes were filled with terror, was just too easy for Bahame who during those centuries when he walked the Earth became very sophisticated and decadent in the art of entertaining himself. Especially when it came to this one special play. Actually, Darweshi did it just because it seemed fair to him, not because he cared that much about this stupid man. He was just a mere mortal, unworthy of being paid such attention, at least by an entity like Afterlife. But he just had to do it. Nobody could quarrel with him, not even his own parents – the ones who were raising him in this lifetime. The Bahames weren't ever punished by their son in this particular way but they did spend many nights dreaming horrible nightmares – or at least that was what they thought those were. However they put it down to their subliminal pricks of conscience caused by the fact that they were forced to refuse him something or shouted at him. They shouldn't have done this. Young Darweshi was always such a wonderful child and now, just as he entered his teenage years, his mental development was unlike anything they had ever seen before. He was so intelligent and mature, quite like in this young body lived a soul of an old, experienced man. They shouldn't ever disagree with him on anything but be grateful for being blessed with this young genius for a son. Yes, that's for sure. Never ever.

Even if Darweshi's life in the body of a teenager from Unguja, Zanzibar, was his first one, he would have become spoiled under the influence of his parents who were always giving him everything and allowing him to do anything he pleased. He was cruel – any of his victims could confirm this – but even in the heart of this eternal entity pulsated a small twinge of something resembling pity, as he was looking at this cowering boy on the beach. This feeling wasn't completely unknown to Afterlife but was so rare that when the mutant ever happened to experience it, for a moment he had to recall, surprised, what it was called. Sometimes it was caused by the victim's absolute helplessness (though much more often the awareness that they were totally dependent on his will aroused him even more), but sometimes it just came by itself – even if the victim deserved their fate, whatever Darweshi could understand that to be. In the latter case, he was doing his best to drown this feeling out, tormenting the victim. Their screams for help soon killed any feeling of pity which got replaced by deep satisfaction. It was the time when it happened again. But… putting any moral scruples aside, what place was it anyway? Was it an astral realm the sleeping boy's mind wandered in or a real place into which Darweshi went? Sometimes it was impossible to state.

Now.

The small grain of pity the presence of which the mutant felt for the first time an hour ago, managed to develop, growing into a big plant – maybe the Zanzibar Gem Darweshi came to know in this life; it grew everywhere in his country - the roots of which slowly started to grow into the boy's soul. The young mutant could feel the roots of this metaphorical plant entwine his mind, seeping into it a new idea. The more Afterlife thought of this idea, the more he liked it.

Darweshi Bahame lived for many centuries during which he searched for victims in his never ending quest for pleasing himself when ordinary pleasures of life started to matter too little for him. But in all that time, he never encountered anything like this before. It wasn't about the ginger headed brat, Holger. That was his name, he revealed to Darweshi in a stuttering voice and with his eyes fixed on the ground, as if expecting that the black boy he saw when he woke would do something bad to him, punish him for an answer he wouldn't like.

It wasn't the white sand from the beach the boy was sleeping on but the expensive looking red carpet covering the floor of Bahame's kingdom. In spite of the air of luxury that surrounded it – one could think only Harun al Rashid or someone equal to him could stomp over something like that – the carpet wasn't expensive. Darweshi didn't need to spend even one shilling for it though if he one day wanted to become an owner of such a rug, his silly and wealthy parents would hand him as many Tanzanian shillings as he would wish for, on a silver plate. The carpet, just like the furniture the room was furnished with was just the product of his imagination. The subtle astral matter shaping this world looked real and solid but in fact was immaterial and if the boy so desired he could easily turn it into anything he wished. There was only one thing Darweshi's young guest shouldn't feel too confident of in here. A fiery pit from which the flames were belching out, was situated between a massive carved desk and a wardrobe, the door of which was ajar, revealing a row of luxurious suits. Darweshi's guest was now peeking at the flames every now and then but was trying to focus his gaze on the face of his interlocutor. He was scared and Darweshi wasn't surprised, given the kind of life he endured until he was found by him on this forgotten island. He took the boy to his realm soon after he arrived in there. It was a strange thing indeed – the proof that Boo'ya Moon – that's what Holger called it – wasn't a real place: Afterlife had the power to take people to his astral realm but only when they were asleep and Holger wasn't as he woke up when he felt something, some evil that all of a sudden emerged on the beach, surrounding him; his power limited him to people's souls not bodies. Boo'ya Moon wasn't real; it was just a mere creation of Holger's father's imagination (he must have been a mutant with such a power) which meant that for some reason Afterlife's powers didn't work here in the usual manner. Holger was awake but he could be taken by him into his realm. Another strange thing was that they could communicate with each other, understanding each other exquisitely well, which normally wouldn't have been possible other than in dreams. Holger spoke German while for Darweshi the native tongues were Swahili and English. He knew more than two dozen other languages which he learned during his previous lives; the knowledge gathered by him back then didn't leave him though he gained one practical skill more – the ability to hide this knowledge from others. If they found this out, his status of 'boy genius' would instantly shift to that of 'mutant'.

Holger Hirsch was scared of this newcomer to the land where he lived alone (almost) but he had no choice other than to share all the details of his life in here with this stranger. He told him everything. Everything. He didn't spare him the details of the life he led first with his cruel father beating the living daylights out of him for practically everything, and later, after his father's death, with Shadow who, just like some new bettered version of his father proclaimed Holger his property – he even addressed him like this - property; never Holger but just Property, as if it was the teen's real name – beating him and sometimes even raping (Here the boy closed his eyes, two silent tears trickling down his face. He shuddered at the very memory of it) . He showed Darweshi the rainbow of the healing bruises on his legs and arms which were Shadow's work. He told him all about this world in which any food which was good at the daylight, became poisonous at night (his father claimed so and if this world was his father's imagination, then it must have been so); the world in which at night evil creatures named laughters came out and in which some strange people appeared from time to time next to the pond which was found in the middle of the island, to apathetically sit there, unable or maybe rather not wanting to respond. Holger didn't manage to solve the mystery of them. But solving the mystery of them wasn't even half as important as getting rid of Shadow.

Afterlife was listening to the boy with the feeling slowly growing in his heart. It wasn't pity this time. The story of the boy was sad but Darweshi wasn't a sensitive person. There were several components of which the feeling consisted. First of all, there was this cruel cheerfulness the source of which was hiding in Darweshi's malice. The second one was the increasing feeling that this night trip had brought him a new challenge. Darweshi spoke this word aloud, making Holger look at him. Darweshi wasn't the embodiment of evil, it was just cruelty which dominated in his personality. Omnipresent cruelty fomented by the boredom which followed his many incarnations during which he tasted everything a human being can. But this cruelty didn't concern Holger any more. The young/old mutant was now totally focused on someone else. On Shadow. It was him whom most of the things about which Holger told Afterlife, concerned. Now all Bahame could think of was Shadow. He never saw him but he could imagine him, building his picture out of the shreds of things as revealed to him by the boy. He could see him with his mind's eyes – a humanoid creature with his big black eyes and maliciously smiling wide mouth no human could have which now was somewhere… none of them knew where exactly but the island didn't limit him in terms of the location in which he could be found. He could travel outside Boo'ya Moon whenever and wherever he wanted – a powerful entity, uninhibited by the barriers which made Holger trapped in here since his father's death. It was Shadow, of course who caused his death by setting the place where they lived ablaze. Shadow was very powerful. He was a challenge. One of the biggest challenges for Darweshi Bahame for many years. Not a VERY big challenge – Shadow couldn't be THAT insanely powerful – but still; a bigger one than all those stupid dreamers who wandered into Afterlife's realm and got stuck in there forever. They couldn't defend themselves. But with Holger's nemesis; his sentient mutation (Darweshi was pretty surprised; he knew mutations could be very varied but personally he never encountered a mutation which would be a living being on its own before) was completely different. Very powerful from what the teen said. This is why Afterlife resigned from doing whatever he wanted to do to Holger, deciding on choosing his sentient shadow instead. He decided he'd wait for the return of this unusual entity. He would check if this living shadow was as powerful as the boy from whose body he emerged claimed. In other words, Darweshi Bahame got a new challenge.