Cemetery Summons Ch. 23byGalloglaich©
A/N: This chapter marks page 300 in Microsoft Word for this story. Thanks for all the feedback guys; it really makes the difference.
Two Rings had passed while they marched. Jack's feet were sore, beyond sore really. He could barely feel his feet even after Anathane had massaged them for hours in an effort to keep him from hurting. The sand here was like a tide of hot, boiling water. The landscape was a bleak, endless series of dunes and sunken plains filled with nothing but hot, yellow sand.
In every direction, the sky looked overhead like a friendly blue blanket through which the devilish white sun peered, creating a vacuum of heat and exhausting wind. Jack felt dozens of beads of sweat dripping down his body again.
He was covered in a sheen of moisture that was being stolen from him by the thieving wind. It giggled innocently into his ears, promising a brief moment of cool delight in return for his body's strength. It was really sad that he was expecting the wind, hoping for it even, and that it was the one thing making the desert more unbearable than the heat.
Ekana, Volna, and Nyx looked perfectly fine, all trudging through the yellow sea like it was nothing more than a morning walk on a beach. Grymir and Kadae were even further ahead, and had been on point for months now. Never did they cease to walk, or even speak to anyone besides each other. Quietly, they spoke so that nobody could hear their conversations if they ventured too close.
Jack groaned and looked up at Anathane beside him. Ever since the day at the beach, she had possessed an aura of unease around her. Though she put up a strong, almost assuring façade, it came crashing down when Jack looked her in the eyes. Her walls of defense came tumbling down at his gaze and left her bare and defenseless before him.
Still, she smiled. "Is there anything you want me to do, incomplete boy?"
"If you could make this desert just disappear, that'd be nice Anathane. It's been three weeks almost now and there's still no sign of the next Ring. How many more are there?"
"One more and then Dalaria's little castle stands before us in all its arrogant wonder." She sounded like she was about to tear her own words to shreds. "And I'm going to force every stone of it down her pretty little throat once I see her," she added coldly.
"Don't forget Elassa, Niaf, and Fain. They're the whole reason for going there, remember? Or do I need to feed you a little more to remind you?" At that, Anathane giggled and shoved her chest out proudly. Jack's arousal made itself apparent almost immediately.
However, Nyx made her entrance to dissuade the two from any further shenanigans. "Stop it you two. You've had enough free time as it is. You spent three days rubbing each other all over and fucking like rabbits in heat. It's time to stop now before you get distracted. We still have a quest to complete you know." She looked a bit irked, but Anathane couldn't tell at all. But Jack saw through her smile and found that she knew exactly how Nyx felt. She was playing with Nyx again.
"But I like rabbits. They have lots of little bunnies that go hoppity-hoppity-hop. And I wanna have a lot of little bunnies. Jack's little bunnies," she giggled again. She kissed the top of Jack's head and grabbed his one remaining horn. "And I want to start again now."
"Anathane...damn you." Nyx pinched the bridge of her nose. "Get a grip. We can't be fucking around when we're supposed to be preparing for war! Anathane, you've fought in more of these than I've lived years for fuck's sake! Shouldn't! Shouldn't...you..."
"Shouldn't I what? Little one?" Anathane replied hotly. Jack was taken aback by her sudden transformation. All her skin was golden, swirling like liquid metal. Her blue horns stuck high above her head, rising from a skull alight with burning red eyes. Teal hair floated about her person like thousand of tiny, coiled snakes preparing to strike out. Great wings flanked her on either side. She arched a brow knowingly at the younger denizen of the Second Circle.
"You always do this, Anathane, every time you can't win the argument. You always remind me that you're so much older than I am and that I'm just a blip on your radar. You're escaping the fact that you're going to have to fight Dalaria and all her forces soon. I know you don't like the fact, but you can't just screw around until the last minute!"
"You dare speak to me in such a manner, little one?" the greater demon growled.
"Anathane, stop being so arrogant."
"And who might you be to challenge my authority here, little one?" she spat, flexing long talons. There was a long sigh.
"It's not little one; it's incomplete boy," Jack replied.
Anathane's demeanor changed almost instantly.
"Oh, that's not fair!" she whined. Her golden skin faded back to its normal tanned color and her talons shrank back to fingers. However, she still retained her horns, fiery eyes, and wings. She turned to Jack and put her hands on either side of his face. "How can I resist you?!"
"You can't. Because after this, we're gonna get married and have lots of little bunnies. As many as I can fit in there." He put his palm flat on her stomach and smiled warmly.
"Damn it Jack, you can fit as many as you want in here because I'm so in love with you!" she exclaimed in a bubbly tone. They kissed and she went on ahead to find Ekana to tell her something. Nyx gave Jack an amused look.
"You shouldn't do that. She expects all those babies now, and it's hard enough to raise one right, let alone as many as she's imagining."
"What else am I supposed to do by oblige? I love Anathane. I want to make her happy, and if that means getting her pregnant with a small army, then I'll do it. Besides, if what Volna told me was true, that I'm going to be able to keep up with everyone, then I'll be able to do everyone like that and have a lot of kids."
"You're in for a rough ride," Nyx said to the incubus, flicking his one horn.
"I bet so. I heard pregnant chicks are freaks."
"Oh, child, you have no idea. You have no idea what kind of hell they're going to drag you through before they give you progeny."
"At least I'll have Anathane to patch me up, right?" Jack offered with a shrug.
Nyx put a hand on his shoulder and spoke seriously. "Jack, I was one of Anathane's lovers for a millennia, and not once did she ever offer to heal for me the wounds she inflicted. If that's indication to what she's like normally, then you are going to spend many night writing in agony." She went on to say cheerfully, "But you have a good constitution for a young boy! Be glad you're not short on steam."
"Wonderful," Jack said sardonically.
Up ahead, Volna and Ekana walked next to Anthony, who had again come to the fore of Anathane's consciousness. Anthony looked uncomfortably between the two, unable to decipher what their looks meant. Ekana growled unhappily at the warlock. Anathane had come up here with something to tell her, and then this fuckup had come out to delay it.
"I fuckin' hate that kid back there with Nyx," the succubus said out of the blue.
"Oh really?" Volna obliged. "And why might that be? Hmmm?"
"There's something about him that's off," Ekana replied. "It's not right. I just wanna fuck him so hard that my eyes cross! It's not right. Do you feel it too? It's like he's putting on his seduction full blast all the time."
"It might just be his charisma that you're feeling," Volna tried to explain.
Ekana spat on the ground. "Yeah, he's overflowing with charisma. Totally itching for command of the biggest army ever assembled in a Second Circle civil war. He's not scared of his duty at all."
"Sexual charisma," corrected the demon.
"Every time I even glance at him, the coward averts his gaze! He has no confidence. He has less that none!" Ekana countered. "So why am I thinking of him?"
Volna thought aloud, "Could it be that your sister fell for him and that you're trying to spite her subconsciously?"
"No. I might not like Elassa, but I wouldn't steal her lover. I don't like her, but I don't hate her either. She's a member of my family; I wouldn't interfere with continuing our lineage."
"Well, if it's of any consolation, I am feeling it too, though to a lesser degree. He exhumes an aura of sorts. I can't find accurate words to explain it." Volna scratched her head in a vain effort to dislodge a bit of linguistic ingenuity to describe the feeling.
"Like he's promising you everything that you want just by being with you?" Ekana asked.
"No, not like that, but...well, sort of. Why; is that how it is for you?"
Ekana shook her head. "No, that's what a succubus' gaze does. To mortals, it offers them a glimpse of what they want. And they act upon the impulse that follows. Though it can backfire if they are consumed with hatred for another."
"Oh," said Volna back.
A long silence stood between the three.
"So, what do you feel then toward him," Ekana said to break the silence.
"Nothing truly worthy of note, certainly not what I feel for Anthony here," she said slyly, shooting Anthony a knowing glance. Surprisingly, she received a smile when she grabbed a bit of flesh, instead of the surprised and embarrassed look she was hoping for.
"It's Anathane again," droned the larger demon, winking as she pressed Volna's hand further into her considerable backside.
"You were saying?" Ekana pried.
"He just looks like he could please me. That's why I did it the first time with him, because he looked able enough to make me feel good all the way down to my toes."
"Who, Anthony?" Anathane interjected.
"No, yours," Volna replied, with a tinge of guilt in her voice. Apparently, Anathane's private beating had really done a lot to the demon's fierce tongue. At least on the subject of Anathane's lover that is.
"So yours was physical in need?" Ekana affirmed.
Volna nodded. "That, and Nyx offered him to me. I wasn't going to refuse a present, especially not one as delicious as that, was I?"
"No, I guess not," Anathane replied.
"So, how is it for you then, Ekana? Is it just as tempting?" prodded Volna.
"No, well...in a way. Pleasure is part of it. But, between his eyes and his voice and his smile, it feels like I'm being drawn into to something bigger. It's like he's a vortex or something and he's just going to swallow me whole and protect me. His soul is enormous."
"That's not the only thing that's enormous," Anathane giggled. She suddenly grabbed Ekana's shoulder. "Oh, Ekana, I have great news! Guess!"
"What? Is he finally dumping us for you?" she droned sarcastically.
"I don't...nevermind. He said he's going to get me pregnant! With as many babies as I want! Isn't that great?"
Ekana scoffed. "Great. You'll raise an army to rival Grymir's in a week. You've told us a thousand times how many kids you want. It always ends up that you want one for every day you've gone without stopping. And every time you come back, that number just magically grows and grows and grows."
"Hey," Anathane whined in her defense. "I've gone plenty of days without stopping. I...well, I haven't been able to do Jack that long yet, but there will come a day I tell you. And that's when we'll really start kicking baby production into full gear. I can't wait until he meets the real me."
"Who, the core?" Volna asked.
"Don't you think she's a little, you know, condescending? The way she talks is so formal."
"Oh, don't worry; Jack's already met parts of her before. He'll love her like he has everyone else. She certainly loves him enough, to send us back here for him."
Ekana's brow knitted. "Well, wouldn't you have done it anyway? Don't you all love him, even without the core?"
"Well, no actually. We're all just puppets of the core, but we've been given a fragment of our soul to keep and treasure. We are the core's will, and if she loves someone, then we do. If she hates someone, then we do as well. All of us generally think the same, really."
"So, on the subject of things you do and don't like; what makes Jack so attractive to you? Volna and I already described why we feel the way we do toward him. Now it's your turn, since you're so obsessed with him." Ekana folded her arms across her chest and waited.
Anathane replied simply, "He's incomplete."
"And there's the catch," Volna laughed.
"Now Anathane, you can't just say that and use it as an escape. Describe what you feel. Elaborate on what you think 'incomplete' is," Ekana admonished.
"What are you, a psychiatrist?" Anathane snorted. But she quickly relented. "Well, incomplete really only means that there's something wrong with his soul. It's a turn-on for me."
"What does 'something wrong' mean?"
"How do you want me to answer? I don't think I'm trying to answer the thing you want me to." Anathane frowned unhappily.
"Just, try your best to describe the feeling you get when you're with him," the succubus answered.
Anathane shrugged and threw her hands up. "I don't know. It's just, this sort of knowledge that he's there with me, on my level. You know? Well, you don't, but it's hard to describe it. I don't know if there are words for it, conventional language or body language."
"I want to wrap myself around him and let us drown in each others' essences. It feels like when I see him that I can be a whole, one being instead of a million shattered pieces. I know it sounds silly, but he makes me feel young again, like when I was before I had to split my soul to keep myself sane."
"And quite the sane one you are," Volna said, rolling her eyes.
"More than anyone else my age, save for a few. Have you seen Bearn lately? He's not one to be jealous of, such a proud and ancient sage reduced so low. I learned plenty from him before his mental state deteriorated."
Volna defended the old demon, saying, "That's not all true. He split himself into a few pieces. I've seen one or two roaming around the Seventh ring, though I've never spoken with them before."
Anathane huffed. "Shadows of his former glory. I can't have a decent conversation with any of them because their memory is riddled with gaps and holes the size of my head. I'd rather him be in one piece and insane than in several and forgetful. Even as he is now, the majority of him can recall his past triumphs and former adventures through the Nine Circles."
"And what adventures the Third Wars were," deadpanned Ekana. "I was there when he went mad. It wasn't pretty at all. It was actually one of the few frightening experiences I've had in my life."
The succubus held her fingers not an inch apart. "I came this close to being the object of his lust and rage. I'm lucky that another demon of his age stood between us, or I would have died." Ekana rubbed her arms to rid the chills running up and down her body.
Anathane tapped her chin curiously. "A demon of his age?" she thought aloud. "It wasn't Haliran, was it?"
"No, the one that he grabbed was blue. She could also form parts of her body into blades and other such things at will," Ekana answered.
"Shiva?" Volna put up.
"No, the demon had two arms. Although it may have been Shiva, I don't know. She is a goddess now. Does she have any kids?"
"Reaper of the Dead? You must be kidding."
"Blue and could change shape at will. It can't be Rihre. Could it?" Anathane pursed her lips.
"I swear her name started with an A. It's An...damn. It's like yours Anathane. I just had it on the tip of my tongue. Ana...An...fuck!"
"Anatithenai?" Anathane said in a hollow voice.
"There we go! Anatithenai! How'd you know? Are you two good friends or something? Or was that one of your monikers back then?" Ekana nudged her large friend, who only laughed and rubbed the back of her head.
"We go back a way, yes. I wouldn't pursue the issue any further."
"Why not? You got some bad blood between you and her or something? You can tell us. We're probably gonna die before the secret can get out anyway."
"Ekana," whispered Volna. "She just made a threat that she's ready to make due on. I wouldn't bother her about it." They both glanced at Anathane briefly.
"What's wrong? It can't be a matter of bad blood, because she's not one to keep grudges."
"Not bad blood. It's shared blood."
"She didn't share her soul with another before Jack, did she? And with a woman too..." Ekana began. But Volna hushed her.
"No, Ekana, you twit. It's much worse to her than a simple matter of a soul shared if hers is in a million pieces."
"Then what?!" Ekana whispered furiously. She was tired of Volna's games already, which was rare, for the demon was known for playing them for days at a time and Ekana usually played along.
"I...I can't tell you. I'm under oath."
"With Anathane?" Ekana arched a brow knowingly.
Volna didn't need to answer. They both sighed sourly. In her head, Ekana was swearing and cursing hard enough to make a sailor blush. It wasn't that she was in everybody's business, but Anathane was the only person she knew that had been graced by the touch of Lucifer himself. Getting information about her, any at all, was like having connections in high places in the Second Circle. Any information about her was worth a hundred silver, lying tongues.
She growled disappointedly. She'd find out later. Maybe she could pry it out of Volna in the middle of a little fling. She did scream quite a bit while she was in the throes of passion. Ekana grinned slyly. She'd get it out of Volna one way or another.
A week passed and word came down through the few sentient members of the army that there was a vast ocean ahead of them whose shore Grymir had already stopped to form council on as soon as the important members of the conspiracy arrived.
Jack and Anathane were first to arrive and meet up with the demon, making idle talk with him for an afternoon before Volna and her entourage showed up, followed soon by Nyx and Ekana. As soon as they were assembled, Grymir called for a short recess and those who were assembled left for things more relaxing.
Ekana was still gunning after the meaning of shared blood, and she now had a chance to be completely alone with Volna, if she could get Veshana and Eran away from her. She followed her friend a ways down the beach and finally got close enough for Veshana to notice. The demon turned and the numerous golden bangles, bracelets, and her three massive torques clanged and jingled noisily.
"You wear too much jewelry," Ekana said as they embraced.
"Just enough to wrap a pretty little succubus up in," she replied cheekily. Apparently, everyone was in a good mood because the desert was now a thing of the past. Veshana was abnormally playful at the moment.
"And you think I'm the sub?" Ekana scoffed sarcastically. "I do believe that you've not heard of my vile and heinous reputation."
"A spicy one, she is," Eran remarked, two fingers in her mouth.
Something seemed off. "What exactly have you three been up to recently? I can feel something on a higher plain here, and it smells like...well, it smells like naughty business. Has this little trio of demons been up to no good?"
"What exactly is no good to you?" Volna asked coyly, wagging her backside teasingly. Ekana slipped from Veshana's embrace and sauntered over to Volna. She laid a hand on the demon's ample rear and gave it a squeeze.
"Starting the celebration early? Hmmm?" she prodded.
"Could be," replied Volna with an innocent smile. Ekana put their heads together and smiled. Inside her body, behind the smiles and excitement, there lay a fox in hiding. Volna was supposed to be one hell of a partner, and Ekana wanted to see about that. But she had another agenda to get done with as well, namely relieving Volna of a few secrets her heart clung to.