Author's note: Finding the time to write this has proved challenging. I'm not even sure what the term "spare time" actually means anymore. Here's a little bit of what I'm going with. Have any of you writers out there had this happen? You begin writing something, but through the process of writing, the story takes unexpected turns. Well, that has happened in this story.
Edit: I really need to stop posting shit when drunk. Sigh. This is only half a chapter and as is wasn't even ready to post. Screw it, I'll leave it anyway. Just means the next chapter is going to be huge.
She had forgotten what this feeling felt like until very recently. She had actually gotten used to being here full time. And she was sorry for that; which was weird, since "sorrow" was a concept her existence had not known in what seemed like eons since she lost her sister. She frowned. That was not something she liked to think about. It was a sore spot in her psyche that had all but healed – until five years ago. No one knew that she still felt betrayed by her sister, nor was she going to let them guess at it. She had planned far too long for this chance, and nothing was going to get in the way. A chance like this was far too rare to let something so asinine, so insignificant ruin it. She flashed her distinctive grin and began walking.
The feeling that flowed into her as she materialized was not sorrow of any kind, but the sensation of entering this particular plane of existence. Bexta came to an intersection and paused, leaning against the (wall?). She took a breath and looked over the sight that was embedding itself onto her visual cortex. The now dubbed "Demon Plane" was a sight that most could not describe, and none wanted to see. It wasn't disgusting or horrific in any sense that could be understood by mortals; even immortals wouldn't describe it in that way. Bexta had travelled through numerous different planes, including all the ones the Krynnish Pantheon spread into. She had even visited a few of the ones on the other side of reality, where Hiddukel, among others, credits his spawning. And, of course, her own home plane, which many of the scattered groups of gods would prefer to forget about, if only to forget that they had a part in stealing it from the demons.
Of all the planes out there, the one in which her kind currently resides is the only one that behaves the way it does. All the other planes were magnificent in their own rights. Some were full of light and wonderful sights; others were dark and captivatingly horrific. She would even prefer the emptiness of the Abyss to where she now stood. There's a reason Delano was barely able to wrap his mind around what he was seeing when he first entered five years ago; mortal eyes and minds were never meant to gaze upon this scene. If she hadn't shielded him initially, his mind and maybe even his soul would have unraveled and dissipated into nothingness, like smoke in the wind. What made this plane so unorthodox was that reality seemed to break down and reform itself continuously. Calling something a wall or floor or ceiling was difficult, since by the time a general idea of what those terms meant formed itself, it was being broken down again.
"You're doing it again," a voice called out.
She jumped at the sound and spun around to see where it came from. Noticing Zangthyk standing there, she relaxed. She leaned back against the wall that was not a wall and glared down at her closest acquaintance. "Friend" was not really a term immortals used. It just didn't carry the same meaning for them as it did for mortals. "Doing what again?" she asked.
"Zoning out. It's becoming a common occurrence. Others are starting to notice. Even Aziszebah mentioned it to me in passing."
Bexta scoffed at that. "I don't give a damn what he thinks. Who is he to question me or my behavior?"
Zangthyk looked at her. "He's the head of our kind," Zangthyk said in a tone reminiscent of a father patiently explaining something simple to a daughter who should know better. "The others follow his lead, you know this." He cocked his head to the side and regarded her for a moment. "What's going on with you? You used to tell me everything."
Bexta pushed off the (wall?) and turned to square up with Zangthyk. "Now listen here—" she began before a sensation buzzed through her mind. "Oh, no. Del!" She stepped past the kender-sized demon and ran down the (hallway?), the tip of her tail barely missing his face. This startled Zangthyk and he spun around to see where she was going.
"What about Delano? Where are you going? Bexta!" He chased after her. He rounded a (corner?) and came to a stop near her. He noticed that they were standing at the locked entrance/exit to the plane they were in. "Bexta, why are you here?"
"Shut up!" She was frantically looking in five different directions. Seeming to find what she was looking for, her gaze locked in one direction as she held out her arms and bent her knees. Zangthyk was about to seriously question her sanity until he saw her hands close around something. She pulled with great intensity into the (hallway?) they were standing in and fell on her back. Lying on the (ground?), her arms were wrapped around a translucent body. It was Delano, or to be more exact, his soul.
"How . . ." Zangthyk began, but the question in his mind wouldn't translate down to his mouth.
Delano lifted his head and looked directly into Bexta's near solid purple eyes. Recognition crossed his face and he slowly looked around. "Why am I here?" He looked back into Bexta's eyes and thought he saw relief fill them as the purple slowly receded, revealing more and more white.
"Why was your soul falling into the Abyss?" she shot back.
"I-I don't know. I wasn't aware it was."
Zangthyk finally got over his shock. "What's the last thing you remember?"
"Well . . ." The two demons listened as Delano related everything that happened after he sent Bexta back. During his story, Zangthyk helped both Delano and Bexta up off the (ground?) and all three stood at the useless entrance/exit. "But the screams those goblins made. I've never heard anything like them before. It almost sounded—" Like what? I have no frame of reference to describe them. Delano thought for a moment while the two demons looked at him expectantly. He finally decided the first thing that came to his mind was what he was going with. "They sounded like the screams of souls in pain." Bexta and Zangthyk looked at each other for a moment. To Delano, it seemed like they didn't know what he was talking about. Bexta then seemed to come to a realization, and turned to look at the young warlock's soul.
"Don't do that again. That would explain why your soul was falling into the Abyss."
"Do what again? I have no idea what I did."
Bexta looked over at Zangthyk's confused expression and shook her head. He is going to be no help in this conversation, she thought. I can't really blame him, I wasn't even aware it was possible. She looked back over to Delano's soul. "Del, you can't draw upon all your strength like a mage. A mortal has never had this kind of magic before, and for reasons I am not completely sure of right now, the magic itself will draw power from other mortals if you command it to. The souls were screaming because you were draining power from them."
"What –" Zangthyk began before Bexta hit him with her tail. He glared at her but she wasn't looking in his direction.
Delano was dumbfounded. Trying to digest what he had just been told, he didn't see the tail swipe. Drai . . . draini . . . draining a soul? He slowly looked down at his translucent hands. Wh . . . why? This has got to be a dream. I can steal souls from people? How is this even possible? And yet, looking back up at Bexta's eyes, he could see how serious she was. That actually scared him a little bit. Bexta was never somber. To her, existence was a joke, a game; a game that was for fun, regardless of whose expense it was at. "I . . . I didn't mean to. I-I had no idea." He looked over to Zangthyk and saw that his expression was somber also. "Dammit, I don't want that kind of power! No mortal should have power over souls. I have no desire to rule the world. Take it –"
"Shh," Bexta whispered as she put her hands on his cheeks. "Now that we know, we can avoid it happening again."
"Avoid? How am I supposed to avoid doing something when I don't know what I did to cause it in the first place?"
"It's obvious, isn't it? You are no longer able to draw up all your strength. When your body is used up, the magic will look for other sources; something a mage cannot do." She had to admit, even she was having a hard time believing what she was saying. This was an unprecedented problem, and she had no idea how to solve it. But, of all the spells Delano had cast since being given the demons' magic, this was the first time that this particular problem surfaced. The more she thought about it, the more it made sense.
Apparently, the young warlock was not making the same leaps in logic she was, because he still had an alarmed look in his translucent eyes. "Del, sweetie, look at me." He brought his eyes up to meet hers. "Trust me. The magic you're wielding came from us. If anyone understands it, it's us."
Delano looked at her for a moment. "So, what you're saying is that I'm a crippled magic user. The power I have has to be doled out in small quantities to avoid this happening again." He rolled his eyes. "Great. I'm a twelve year old novice all over again."
Bexta moved her hands from his cheeks to her hips, and cocked her head to the right. She cracked a small smile in spite of herself. She saw a little of herself in him, and that caused her to have far more patience with Delano than she would have with any other mortal. Actually, she would lump some immortals into that equation too. "Don't be silly. How many times have you seen mages use up every ounce of power they have? It's not a common occurrence by any stretch of the imagination."
As Delano slowly nodded in agreement, a thought occurred to her. She hadn't planned on doing it so soon, but it might help things out – that, or kill him. She slowly looked over the warlock's soul as that last sentence flashed through her mind. Did she dare jeopardize her plans? She'd been ironing out the details of the plan with Zangthyk and a few others for thousands of years and Delano was the first one who showed promise of bringing that plan to fruition. She remembered how much stronger he felt in the inn. In fact, he had grown in power faster than she anticipated. And, after hearing what happened after she was returned to the Demon Plane, she had a feeling that time was running short. She wasn't sure why, but the old man in the inn intrigued her. She wasn't quite sure who he was, it had been a very long time since she was able to roam Krynn, but something about it had a familiar feel to it.
Making up her mind to go ahead with it, she turned around to face Zangthyk. "Z, go get Atael."
Zangthyk was shocked. This is too soon, he told himself. "Now? Are you sure?"
Impatience flared in Bexta's eyes. "Yes, now. Hurry up." Zangthyk reluctantly turned and left to go find the other demon.
Despite the fact that Delano was just saved from joining the ranks of the Abyss, and despite the fact that he just learned he could harm the souls of mortals, he found himself staring at Bexta's ass after she turned around. In his opinion, she had the nicest one he had ever seen. He even liked the tail; the way it moved when she walked and the way it whipped around like a cat's tail when she was thinking or annoyed. His favorite part about the tail, though, was that it added something else to hold on to during sex. Plus, being as long as it was, she was able to use it like a whip, something he had never experienced before and a sensation he found he liked, a lot.
Bexta watched Zangthyk leave. She knew he was going to have some choice things to say after they sent Delano back. Doesn't matter, she told herself. This needs to happen now. She turned around and noticed where Delano's eyes were aimed. She almost laughed. She cocked her head to the right and thrust out her right hip, an act that caused him to slowly bring his eyes up to meet hers. They shared a smile.
"You dirty, dirty boy," she teased. "I've killed mortals for less."
"You know you like it."
She tried to be serious, but couldn't and giggled. "I do. Now is not the time though." Just then Zangthyk and Atael came around the (corner?). Bexta turned her head to look at them. She nodded at Atael and he nodded back. Turning back to Delano, she said, "Del, you remember Atael, don't you?"
The warlock looked over the third demon, which was considerably larger than the other two. Zangthyk was a kender-sized demon with the body of a red gargoyle; Bexta was the size of an average human with perfect features, a tail, horns and hooves. Atael, on the other hand, was the size of an adult male grizzly bear with the body of a miniature dragon, save for the fact that there were horns all over, three tails, and he was mud colored.
"I do," he replied.
Atael turned to Bexta. "He ready for this?"
"Ready for what?" asked Delano.
Atael walked over to the warlock and looked him over. "Hmm. You're power is growing faster than expected human." He backed up a few steps and looked over to Bexta. "Fine. Begin."
Seeing Delano's confusion, Bexta walked up to him and placed her hands on his cheeks. "We're going to give you more power. That way you won't feel like such a," she rolled her eyes, "novice."
"That's not what I meant—" Delano began before she placed a finger on his lips.
"I know silly," she said as she giggled. "Just messing with you. The more power you have, the less likely that problem will surface again. Besides, I think it's time we did it anyway. We'll send you back as soon as we're done with this." Noticing he was about to ask a question, she stopped him. "No. No more questions for now. We need to hurry up and get you back."
She bent her head forward and kissed him like she did back during his Test. The sensation was completely surreal to Delano, since his body was back on Krynn, yet he could still physically feel her kiss him and the magic flow into him. Atael's blue glow added to Bexta's purple and Delano felt the buzzing again. And again he reveled in it. As the buzzing and glow subsided, Bexta pulled her head back and looked in his eyes. "I will never tire of that."
"Nor will I," Delano said.
She broke their embrace and led his soul down the (hallway?) towards the locked entrance/exit. She turned to look at Atael. "Little help?" she asked as she smiled at him.
Atael nodded and walked up to the young warlock as Bexta moved out of the way. To Delano's surprise, the dragon demon stood on his hind legs and grabbed Delano's forearms with his front legs. He then spun around and tossed the warlock's soul towards Krynn like a sack of potatoes.
Zangthyk was glaring at Bexta. "You might have just killed him, you know."
"Nonsense. He'll be fine," she replied.
"His body will rebel once his soul returns. If he doesn't die, he's going to be in a lot of pain," he retorted.
"I think he'll be fine," Atael interjected. "As long as he doesn't die, I don't care how much temporary pain he has to endure. He's not strong enough yet for this plan to work, and I'm ready to go home."
"I still think this was too soon," Zangthyk said as he sighed.
"Always the pessimist, aren't you?" Atael turned to walk back to where he was when Zangthyk came calling.
"Relax Z," Bexta said as she came over to lead Zangthyk deeper into the Demon Plane. "He'll be fine." She sincerely hoped so. Their entire plan hinged on Delano not dying when he woke up. More so than that, deep down she knew she would miss him.