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The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) - Literature (34) - Nairaland

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Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by doctorexcel(m): 6:46am On Jan 30
Thanks for the update. Eagerly awaiting the next.
Your writing is one in a million. I just wonder how you come up with the intrigue and twist. Weldone and thank you for being the best
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by ayshow6102(m): 9:17pm On Jan 30
Thanks for the update obehid this sudden twist has made me fall down from mac, I hope I didn't break any important bones. I think those imps have musa kept somewhere and don't want to keep to their end of the bargain, when I see musa I'll first make sure he does 3 months punishment(frog jumps) without rest b4 he explains his side of the story
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:29am On Feb 01
Part 20
---------

Musa is gone.

I think that sometimes the mind chooses the most vulnerable moments to fail you. And at that moment, as I reeled from the shock of the robed imp’s words, my mind failed me. It brought up images of Musa as it had been the last time I’d seen it whole. Images of the imp in my room-vault pacing impatiently as it waited for Fajahromo’s arrival on our floor. Musa as it appeared by the door to the room-vault where Fajahromo had pious ones waiting to use pansophy to force me under its control. Musa as it fought.

I shook my head, trying to clear it. Surely, I needed my wits more now than I had before. My head turned and my eyes darted, unseeingly, across the peaks of white. There was a splendor to this Permafrost which I had not noted the last time that I was here. There were few dwellings, but each one was marvelously made. The falling hail ensured a consistent coating of white.

The uspec Shadra was leading me somewhere. I could not say where. Then I felt a pull on my bear. I turned and found an imp tugging at Marc’s tusk.

“Leave it!” I snapped, with more vigor than I’d previously thought in me. My wits returned with an alacrity that would have been dizzying if my mind had not chosen to lock onto a target.

The imp spat some harsh words out in a tongue that I did not understand and then it proceeded to spit at me. I was so shocked by the daring display of tempers that it took my mind a long time to come to terms with the fact that an imp had dared to hurl spittle at my face.

My reaction was instant. I latched onto the hilt of my cutlass and pulled it from its sheath. Before I could swing the cutlass at the foolish imp, Shadra stopped me, blocking my blow with its own body.

“You are outnumbered and outmatched.” It said, its gaze resting coldly on me. I felt hatred from this uspec, but what did it hate, me? “If you strike an imp in Permafrost your life will be forfeit. Think long and hard on that before you proceed on your course of action.” After saying that, Shadra withdrew, leaving my cutlass in full aim of the imp who’d dared to spit at me. The imp stared at me, its face a startling depiction of loathing.

For a split second I considered it. What purpose was there to my life? I was nothing but a pawn, I thought grimly, nothing but a pawn to the voice in my head. So, what if I died? Musa was gone. It was not as if there was anyone else who would suffer greatly from my loss.

A picture of Arexon’s face, proud and imperious, loomed in my mind.

The picture faded and with it, all thoughts of being careless with my own life. I returned my cutlass to my scabbard, taking care to note the imp’s face. I would remember it, I swore to myself, I would remember it and the insult that it had dealt to me.

Shadra reached for my hand then, the one that held onto the bear’s fur, and freed it from the beast. I pulled my hand back and made to swing at the uspec’s face. It dodged with a dancer’s ease. It’s technique reminded me of Musa’s way of fighting. The graceful mannerism of each movement it made. It had been awing to see it in an imp, but it somehow seemed so much more lethal on an uspec. I glared at this uspec, one that had made itself slave to imps, and returned its loathing.

“What do you want with my bear?” I asked, struggling to keep the anger from my voice.

“It will be cared for.” Was the uspec’s simple reply.

“And if I refuse?” I asked, watching its face through the veil of my headguard.

“They will use pansophy to rob it of its consciousness, then they will put a dagger into its heart.”

I clenched my jaw. “Am I a prisoner now?” how hard it was to say those words to one such as the uspec, Shadra.

It looked coolly at me. “You are the elders’ guest.” It said in a tone of voice that seemed to include an unspoken, ‘for now’.

I said nothing, and was filled with an impotent rage as I watched my bear being led away by the same imp that dared to spit on me. I became all too aware of the crush of people, the large number of imps around us. Shadra was right of course, I could not fight my way out of this place, not with so many imps, some of which I knew had pansophy, and uspecs with spectra loyal to them. I felt my anger like a blocked tide. At one moment, I would feel it, strong and unstoppable, a wave that could flow through me carrying my emotions and the emotions of others with it. Then it would stop, as if a blockage had been put in its path, one wide enough to let only the calmest wave pass.

I knew it was Nefastu responsible for this. No, I shook my head trying to remember more clearly what Monica had said to me on the days when it searched with me for signs of my imp. It was not Nefastu, but the imps here in permafrost. They had made a bargain with other existences, a bargain which would allow the other existences to assail ours. It had already begun to happen here, which was why I could not feel my emotions as clearly as I should. Why it was so hard for me to pull on my spectra in this cursed place. And without spectra, I had absolutely no chance of breaking my way out. So what was I to do? Wait, I thought, it was all I could do.

And so I followed behind Shadra, seething with emotions too affected to be of any use to me. And to think of all that I had gone through to obtain the magic of spectra, all that I had sacrificed. Now to have it and be unable to use it. In moments like this, my life felt like a cruel joke.

We stopped at the base of a bridge, and I felt my anger rising again, as I watched Shadra bow slightly to two imps walking down from the bridge. The imps nodded to it and stared curiously at me. I ignored their stares, wondering what I would do if I was forced to serve imps. That, I could not countenance. I would kill myself first.

Shadra stepped onto the bridge, gesturing impatiently for me to follow. Again, useless, stunted, anger filled me. I followed behind the uspec, and allowed it to lead me through heavy curtains, into a cleaning room. Although, this cleaning room was like none that I had ever seen. The air in the room was filled with thick, heated, fogs. The fogs were so hot that I felt suddenly uncomfortable within the sweltering confines of my garments.

“I will take your belt and your garments if you would like to be free of them.” Shadra offered.

I scoffed at it.

It shrugged. “Please yourself then. It is customary to lay on a bed and allow the steams to work their way into you.” After saying that, the uspec stormed out of the room.

I stood there, alone, and unsure, for much longer than I would have liked. It was long enough to make a spectacle of myself. It was hard to see far through the fogs, but the room was inhabited by enough imps that I could see several empty eye sockets staring at me, watching.

So many imps. I had only ever shared a bath with an imp once, and that had been my own imp, Musa. Just that simple thought of Musa filled me with an unexpected pang of pain. It was as if my heart was on fire, as if someone had forced hail into me and was using the magic of the mejo eyes to set my innards ablaze. It was discomfiting, but there was also something beautiful about it. And then it was gone, robbed from me, by this cursed place.

I took a step forward and found myself standing in a shallow pool of heated okun. It was hot, but not so hot that I immediately felt the need to withdraw my feet. Instead, I took my cloak and headguard off, and draped them over my arm. I kept my belt on, were I could reach for it if the need arose, and followed Shadra’s suggestion. I found myself an empty bed, at a point in the heated okun where the liquid was just a few inches above my ankle, and just slightly hotter than that at the start. I could tell that there was a temperature gradient which meant that the okun got hotter the deeper it went.

I sat on the bed and turned my gaze to search the room.

Imps. Everywhere. I groaned. Those within eyesight stared at me. I read fascination on some faces, curiosity on others, and pure, unadulterated hatred on the rest. I ignored most of them, choosing to focus on the group I saw swimming close to the deeper ends of the pool. They laughed, whistling tunes to themselves and then splashing the liquid onto their bodies. I could tell from their exchange that this was some sort of play which was acceptable to them. I shook my head at the odd display.

Musa was gone.

The thought crept into my head at odd intervals. Whenever I stared at an imp with the same color of skin as Musa’s, or when I heard one humming the tune which I knew now was their secret to getting into Permafrost. Was there a chance that Musa lived? Perhaps the imps had not searched hard enough for mine. I wanted to believe this, to cling to this last vestige of hope, but at some point between the robed imp’s delivering of the news of Musa’s fate, and my sojourn to this cleaning room, my mind had been cleared. It was clear enough now to think of Xavier’s words, of the robed imp’s words. One thing was clear, Musa meant a lot to these imps. It was a truth which filled me with an awful sense of betrayal, and a heart wrenching bout of sorrow. Musa had lied to me about its relationship with the wrath. I knew now just how involved it was with them. It had delivered many to the wrath, taught many pansophy, Xavier included. If Musa lived, these imps, the ones that it had done so much for, would have found it.

And if they hadn’t found it, then it was gone. Musa, my Musa, was gone.

I sighed. How foolish I had been to think that my hallucination of Yakubo had been an after-life message from the uspec. Umanis may be granted life after death, but such was not the fate for uspecs. Our death was final. Yakubo could not have appeared to me. Its presence in my mind was nothing more than my own wishful hopes for absolution from it.

Now Yakubo was gone. Musa was gone. Everyone that I had ever cared about seemed to be falling dead before me. How long would it take before Marcinus joined the pile of bodies? And Arexon? The pain came again, unbidden, and this time I tried to hold onto it, but it slipped out of my grasp before I could do anything with it. What would I have done? Maybe polluted this heated okun with lit okun and snuffed some of these imps. They would awake, of course, I did not have the pansophy to sap them, but at least I would have the pleasure of causing them harm.

My attention was fixated on my own silent musings, so much so that I did not notice the rock until it was less than a horn’s length away from my face. I rose my hand up instinctively, catching the full brunt of the rock’s bite. It pelted into my skin, leaving an indentation of its coarse features onto my skin, before it fell with a splash into the heated okun.

I turned in the direction that the rock had been launched at and found no immediately guilty expression. Some of the imps had tired of watching me, but there were still others gaping at me. I saw hatred in many faces, but none of the hateful imps appeared to be responsible for the projectile.

For an instant, my mind filled with beautiful, graphic, images of marching onto Nefastu with a squadron of mejo-eyed soldiers and gathering enough hail around Permafrost to burn it to the ground. Of course, it did not take long for my mind to remind me how hard it was to find enough life in our emotions to use spectra in Nefastu. But I knew it was possible. I had seen an uspec create quicksand here without showing signs of arduous labor. How, was the question.

A throat cleared behind me.

I turned to find another, new, uspec, staring down at me. This uspec had its outer eye sockets completely filled. The long tail I spied behind it, declared that it was a kute. I felt animosity and kinship in equal degrees. The uspec smiled at me. It bowed slightly, saying, “Salutations banneret.” In the kute tongue.

This uspec was younger than I was. Its features had grown to completion and its sockets had been filled, but I could still sense youth about it. I nodded in response to the uspec’s greeting.

“Would you please come with me, banneret?” it asked, its tone deferential.

I was not sure what to make of the uspec’s presence, but I decided that I’d had my fill of this strange cleaning room. I did not much enjoy sharing a room with so many defiant imps. I rose from my bed and followed silently behind the kute uspec. Each step I took was fraught with worry. My unprotected back was turned to a room filled with imps who’d made their hatred of me plain. It came as a relief to be out of the heated fogs, and into the cool presence of falling hail. Of course it did not take long for the pelting of the hail to become uncomfortable, and for the chill to begin making its way into my skin. My feet remained covered with the footwear that I’d purchased in Cormeum.

We walked about the compound, around the curve of a hail dome, before the chill became harsh enough to warrant the return of my heated cloak. I tucked parts of my headguard into my belt and put the cloak on. I noted then that the kute uspec was wearing a light garment. How had it become so used to the cold?

At long last it spoke. “I am sorry for your loss.” It said, “I do not know much about your imp, but I know that it was well respected.”

I said nothing.

Musa was gone. The thought in my mind. Did it keep repeating because I was yet to properly dwell on it?

“How did you come to care so much for an imp?” the uspec asked.

I turned to stare at it then. It was not walking in front of me, as Shadra had when it led me to the cleaning room. This one walked beside me, determined to chat with me as if we were friends.

“How did you come to serve imps?” I replied scornfully.

It gasped. For a moment the smile on its face gave way to shock, and then slowly, the shock morphed back into a smile. “I suppose it can be seen that way. Although, we all serve each other really. Well not the elders. The elders serve Sada, and we serve them.”
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:30am On Feb 01
“You serve imps.”

“You are banneret, you must have served an uspec. There is no difference.”

I almost, almost, cut off its head for that comparison. Instead, I spoke calmly, “uspecs are not imps.”

“What is the difference? Our ailerons, our multiple eyes, our features? Imps are immortal, they live forever, that in and of itself makes them higher creatures.”

“Shut up.” I snapped.

The uspec gaped at me. “Banneret…”

“I said shut up. It is taking every inch of control to keep myself from cutting off your head. Keep your words to yourself, I have no desire to hear them.”

It opened its mouth to speak and my hand went purposefully towards my cutlass. The uspec took one look at my face, and then my cutlass, and then it shook its head, and closed its mouth. The infuriating smile never left its face. Thankfully, the rest of our journey proceeded in silence. We made our way to a part of Permafrost that I had been to before. This was where Monica had brought me to petition the elders. Again, two giant imps stood in front of the curtains which led into the room. They did nothing to stop us as the kute uspec pulled a set of curtains aside and bid me precede it into the room.

I walked in, it walked in after me. I could better appreciate the curvature of the room as we made our way through it. As we walked past the last bend in the wall, making our way to an alcove surrounded by drifting fog, I realized that the interior of the room seemed to have an ‘S’ shape. I found that intriguing.

We had to climb up because the alcove was on a raised platform. Three uspecs stood on the outside of the drifting fog. One of them was Shadra, none of them looked welcoming. The kute uspec followed behind me, stepping into the alcove, before the drifting fog hardened.

I remembered this room. Like the last time I’d been here, there were three high-backed chairs and three robed imps seated on them. One of them I recognized as the one who’d delivered the news of Musa’s absence to me. The other two looked vaguely familiar from my last visit to Permafrost. Unlike the last time, there was a backless chair positioned opposite the backed ones.

The uspec dropped to its knee in front of the imp seated at the center chair, and an immediate wave of revulsion rushed through me. I’d never thought I’d see the day when an uspec knelt to an imp. The imp in the center chair rose its hand for the uspec to kiss, and the uspec kissed the ring on its finger.

“Rise my child.” It said.

The uspec rose. “Thank you, mother.” It bowed at the imp.

“Please sit Nebud.” The imp in the middle chair said.

I ignored it. “Why was my bear taken from me?” I demanded.

The uspec gasped and turned to face me, its eyes widened, as if I had committed an unspeakable atrocity. I ignored it, focusing my withering glare on the seated imp in the center.

“To shelter and care for.” The imp replied.

“I want it back. I am ready to leave.”

Silence greeted my words.

“Sit,” another, less gentle voice called out.

I glared at that imp. “Do not think that you can order me about.” I snapped at it. “I am not an uspec of the likes of this.” I gestured with my nose towards the kute uspec who’d fallen to its knees in front of imps.

That imp’s features hardened, but it was the one in the center that spoke. “Your imp, Musa, the one that you risked so much for, it believed in this place, fought for this place. Don’t you want to know why?”

Something in the imp’s tone sparked the embers of curiosity in my mind. I shrugged, noncommittally.

“Then sit,” it said, taking my shrug as an affirmative gesture, “and we will tell you.”

“My ears work just as well standing as they do sitting. If you have words to say, say them.” I realized now that my refusal to the stool was solely for the purpose of being contrary. Knowing that the imps wanted me to sit, I would not sit on that stool if all the strength was removed from my legs.

“As you wish.”

“We know that Monica has told you about the invasion.” It was the last imp that spoke, the one who’d delivered the message of Musa’s loss. It paused and I was not sure if it expected affirmation, but I remained silent. “Musa dreamt of a fair world, one where uspecs and imps could co-exist, and interact as equals. It was this dream that led it to free so many suffering imps and bring them here, to Permafrost. It was this dream that led it to teach so many the intricacies of pansophy, so that we could defend this place we called home. And when the fourth existence reached out to us with their offer of an invasion, it was Musa’s dream that led it to accept their proposal.”

No, I shook my head. Lies. Now, they expected me to believe that Musa was responsible for the invasion? Musa whose thoughts had been filled with searching for the heir to Lahooni. If it had cared at all for their invasion, it would not have been so consumed by the affairs of uspecs.

“You lie.” I stated, resolutely. “I can accept that Musa helped to foster imps here, and that it helped to train some in pansophy, but I will not accept that it had a role in your invasion.”

“Our invasion is only a possibility because of Musa. How could we even dare undertake such a mission without the firstborn’s blessing?”

I took a step back, my mind spinning as I tried to digest this new revelation. “The firstborn?” my words came out as a mere gasp.

The imp in the center took over. “You have been fed a lot of half-truths and lies. In Musa’s memory, I will tell you the truth, the whole truth. When Musa happened upon this frozen land, it was escorting its master, the first Kaiser of Lahooni, to the isle of shuns. It came across a handful of runaway imps struggling to survive in the harsh mejo climes. At that time, Nefastu was not cursed, as you have come to think of it, but it was still as rural as it is now. The chill here was the most biting, the hail pellets the most uncouth. Musa could not bear to leave us as we were. So, it stole from its master and used that wealth to set up Permafrost, or at least what it became. Before Musa, we’d been imps living under the fickle protection of canopy trees. Musa used its connection as the osin of the Kaiser of Lahooni to get us aid. Provisions to feed off. Wealth to build dwellings. Musa taught us the faith in Sada which it had learnt from its study as a pious slave. And so it is firstborn, as it initiated us into the worship of Sada. I was amongst the first imps who Musa found. Over the centuries, Musa continued to use its position in the Kaiser of Lahooni’s household to steal wealth and divert it to Permafrost. It used this position to give the imps it found worthy pansophy. It snuck away when it could, and it trained its chosen ones in pansophy. All that we have, we owe to Musa. You see now why we searched every inch of Nefastu for it?”

Thief. Liar. Fraud. Musa. I did not know what to say, what to do. Musa’s loyalty to the line of Lahooni had been a lie. Now I understood why it was so desperate to find its precious heir. It was not out of loyalty to my line, but loyalty to its own kind. It wanted to find the heir so that it could return to its position as osin and continue to steal from my line for runaway imp slaves. That was why Musa grieved so much for my line. Not out of loyalty, but lack of wealth to pilfer. I thought of the meaningless tears that the imp had cried when we first met. How well it had played the role of doting slave. Now, I knew better. To think that I had been grieving the imp. I hardened my heart against it. It was best that the imp was gone. I would kill it with my own bare hands if it were standing in front of me at the moment. I had never been more betrayed.

I forced my emotions under control, wrestling to keep the betrayal from showing on my face. “What do you want from me?” I asked simply.

“We want you to join us.” The imp in the middle said simply. “Join us, aid in the work that the imp you cherished so dearly fought for. Musa’s dream was to see us all live as one, all free, uspec and imp alike. Help us make your imp’s dream a reality.”

I seethed with anger and loathing. I was sure that with all the anger brimming in me, if I had the hooni eye, I would have been able to break through the curse of Nefastu and manufacture enough quicksand to send myself out.

The imp must have taken my silence as indecision, because it forged ahead. “We can teach you how to use spectra here. All uspecs who join are taught. Soon, it will be as easy to wield the magic here as it is wielding it anywhere else in this existence.” I was still too angry to speak. “Pansophy.” The imp added. “We have connections to pious ones who act at our behest. We can give you pansophy. Join us Nebud. The invasion is coming, there is no way to stop it. When it comes, you will want to count yourself amongst the faithful, amongst those loyal to Sada. If you do this, you will not only survive, you will excel.”

“And if I refuse?” I asked once I had my emotions under control enough to force the words out of my mouth.

“Why would you? We know your story Nebud, we know that you owe loyalty to no one. You are rumored to be a great fighter, imagine what you could do with spectra and pansophy added to your arsenal.”

I opened my mouth to speak and then thought better of it.

“Sleep on it.” The imp in the center ordered.

Before I could respond with a denial, the imp nodded in dismissal at the kute uspec.

Quicksand appeared underneath me, as if in confirmation of the imps’ boasts of the magic that uspecs could wield under their influence. That quicksand pulled me in and teleported me to a room with spare furnishings. There was a set of light curtains at the door, a narrow bed, obviously made for an imp, and nothing more.

The kute uspec stared at me for a long time. I thought it would say something, and then it closed its mouth, and quicksand appeared underneath it. The uspec disappeared, leaving me alone, in a strange room.

It took some time for me to note the food. The food had been placed on a tray on the single other furnishing beside the bed. A stool. That stool was so short that I had missed it during my first survey of the room. I marched determinedly towards the stool and kicked one of the legs in. The stool broke, and the tray crashed onto the floor, sending the rolls and meal scattering all over the floor. I’d done that to help alleviate my temper, but I found that it had not helped. I was still just as angry as I’d been before I broke the stool’s leg.

I marched out of the room then, determined to find my way out of this place.

As soon as I pushed the curtains back, two green faces with filled outer eye sockets turned to stare at me. One was Shadra, the other was the kute uspec who’d escorted me to this room.

I could tell from their stance that I would not be leaving without a fight. Normally, in a mood like I was in at the moment, I would welcome a good fight. In this instance though, the odds were decidedly not in my favor. They both had spectra, and knew how to use it despite the limitations of Nefastu, and they both had pansophy. Still, I was so angry that I contemplated fighting, thinking about raising my cutlass and feeling it sinking into their skin.

I turned back on my heels and stormed into the room.

As soon as I walked back in, the curtains were given form, trapping me into the room. There was no other exit.

I paced the room like a trapped jackal. As I paced, I tried to think. The first thing my mind wanted to think on was Musa. Musa was gone, the thought filled my head, but before it could cause pain, I blocked my heart to that cheating imp. My only concern now was for myself, and how to extricate myself from Permafrost. This too, I could blame on Musa. If not for Musa I wouldn’t be in this condition. So much I’d risked for that lying, thieving, imp. No more of me would be devoted to it. No more. I swore.

My mind thought of other things. It thought of the imp’s offer, of staying here, learning spectra, gaining pansophy. The pansophy was tempting. But could I even stay here? Would the voice in my head let me?

I thought of staying and waited for the prompting of the voice, reminding me that I had to go to Lahooni to take Checha’s eye.

Nothing came.

I thought of crazier things then. I thought of staying the rest of my life in Damejo.

No voice.

I thought of never ever going to Lahooni.

No voice.

No matter how contrary my thoughts were to the last prompting of the voice, the voice did not return as it usually did. I found this strange, and I continued to contemplate it, as I waited for the dawn of the next day, and my coming confrontation with the robed imps.

1 Like

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by cassbeat(m): 9:37am On Feb 01
Wow so nebud is going to learn spectra and pansophy from the imps....
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by doctorexcel(m): 10:26am On Feb 01
Bloody musa! Am seriously angry with that good-for-nothing bloody imp called musa. Firstborn my foot, it is possible the idiot is the one blocking the ability of nebud (cala) to use spectra.
pls obehid teleport me using quick sand to permafrost, i need to deal with those idiots
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Madosky112(m): 6:37pm On Feb 01
There's more to this than this, let me just wait by the way musa if u are gone better not come back cause I will release a creature greater than samu.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by olite93: 5:32am On Feb 02
New twists coming up when i thot we're near d end story.... Keep it up obehiD.... Best days for me are wed n sat because of u...
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 1:10am On Feb 03
@cassbeat lol, well, at least it would learn it haha

@doctorexcel HAHA, you know honestly, I thought more people would relate to the imps of Sada, and to whatever part Musa may have played. lol, poor Musa

@Madosky112 LOL, it's really a creature greater than the samu

@olite93 Yes oh, I told you my intention is to keep the twists, although I don't know how many more there are. We are somewhat close to the end, at least we're closer than we were at the start
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 12:51pm On Feb 03
I just simply love Musa, it's actions are good. The imps suffer too much under the uspecs and they have more advantage than the uspecs being that they're immortals and can heal faster, have pansophy and are plenty in number. If the invasion is to happen that will be well acceptable by me. I never liked the uspecs blind arrogance in the first place, their cruelty is extreme.

Musa to me is a hero and Nebud needs to understand that. But it's pride wouldn't let it see through the curtains. I believe Musa will resurface.

As for the 'voice in the head' I suspect that this place (permafrost) do have a suppressant that suppresses its effect on Nebud. If this is the case, then Nebud can learn of ways to control this voice and be in charge of its own person. No more a dummy.


This update deserves more explanation or rather exploration to aid us see deeper why Nebud is here in the first place
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by HotB: 7:34am On Feb 04
This revelation of Musa explains a lot. Little wonder, Nebud's progenitor didn't reveal its plans to Musa, its most favored Osin.
Gratitude ObehiD!
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by ayshow6102(m): 8:43am On Feb 04
Thanks for the update obehid all these could be a big misunderstanding maybe these imps want to cause a rift between musa and nehud, anyway what do I know
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by olite93: 7:41pm On Feb 04
Cant wait 4 tomorrow's update... here's what I think I think Musa is a good imp. I think he created permafrost to help those suffering imps, teach them the way of sada and create the wrath to give the imps a sense of belonging and togetherness. I think the wraths new mission won't sit well with Musa and I think he has not been in touch with with the wrath for a very long time and I think it was not part of their plan to take over the uspec existence. I think musa in the end will be a hero and nebud will understand... But i think musa will die but not by this samus bite....
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 2:46am On Feb 05
gratitude @HotB I'm glad somethings are getting explained grin

@ayshow6102 Maybe, maybe...I guess we'll see soon cheesy

@olite93 Very interesting predictions, we shall see grin
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 2:56am On Feb 05
Part 21
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I couldn’t sleep. I’d given up on trying after hours spent twisting and turning on the hard and narrow bed. I glared at the offending furniture, then reclaimed my previous praise. That thing could not be called a bed. Although, I reminded myself, it was better than what I’d had in the slum I’d grown up in, and much better than what I’d had in the pits of Hakute.

A long weary sigh came out of my mouth as I thought of the pits of Hakute. It had been a rough life, but at least, for the years that I fought, it had been simple. My life had consisted of nothing more than rising in the morning, eating, cleaning on days when I felt like it, and then fighting on days when I was called on to do so. Nothing else. No port-politics to keep me guessing and constantly dancing on tiptoes around threats to my life. No voice in my head which I was forced to obey, to heed, even when I did not want to. Now the voice in my head was gone, and for the first time since I left the pits of Hakute, my immediate future was mine to plan.

Why did that not give me the comfort, or joy, that I had expected news of that type to bring? Surely, I had not now grown so use to having my life dictated by a person I did not know. If the voice even belonged to a person. Again, I sighed. All of a sudden, the possibility of a future dictated by myself seemed overwhelming. What would I do next? I could truly live the life of the wandering banneret, a role which I’d only been acting at. I had the wealth for it.

Could I do it?

I knew too much now of the politics in my own existence, of the hands trying to manipulate events. I thought first of the plenum, and the chasm that they had created. Being in a port like Damejo, where the Kaiser had already sworn full allegiance to the plenum, it was easy to see how peaceful things could be if the plenum succeeded. It would be one end to the chasm, no more Uspecipytes, just an existence controlled by uspecs. Was that such a bad thing? Was Chuspecip itself not an uspec? Why should I care who ended up with the power to lead the spectral existence? Why should such things be mine to ponder on? I did not want the responsibility of such, and in the case of the plenum vs Chuspecip, I wanted to keep myself fully away. Whichever was stronger would win, and what we needed was a strong leader.

So why did I feel this aversion towards the plenum? I knew my loathing of them had a great deal to do with the role that Musa had said they’d played in the death of my line. Now that Musa’s loyalty was in doubt, surely I couldn’t take anything it said as truth. And if I was willing to accept that the plenum may not have killed my line, then what did I care if they won. Then I thought of my friends, because now, I really did have friends, only two left, now that Yakubo was dead.

Two imperial ones. If someone had told me on that day when I left the slum on a noble one’s canoe, that I would find myself befriended to not one, but two imperials, I would have laughed in their face. Of course, I was an imperial myself, but that was not a role that I was ready to think on just yet. And so I thought of Marcinus and Arexon instead. What would become of Marcinus if the plenum succeeded? As long as Manus was willing to defend it…I shook my head, shrugging off my own retreat back into ignorant optimism. If the plenum got full control of this existence, Marcinus would die. Marcinus felt too strongly about being Uspecipyte, it could not bow to the plenum. And Arexon? Who could say what Arexon would do? Could it plead innocence of Animaton’s true identity and Animaon’s disappearance? Could it slaughter its iriras as the plenum demanded? If it refused, there would be war, the war that Arexon had managed to delay. Arexon against the full might of the plenum’s forces. I did not like its odds.

And so, I could not remain unaffected, I could not side with the plenum when my friends, two uspecs who’d risked their lives for me, would die in the bargain. If my choices were my own, then I had to help them. I had to find a way to reach Marcinus, to protect it. I thought about sneaking it out of Katsoaru and taking it to Chiboga where we could both fight with Arexon. Of course, that was nothing more than the fantasies of an uspec who had spent so long without the unpressured camaraderie of true friends.

Fajahromo. I clenched my jaw at the thought of it. Even now, knowing that Musa was what it was, a liar and a thief, I could not help but feel rage at the uspec who’d ended its life, causing it to be reduced to a bit that even trained hunting jackals could not find. I thought of all the enemies that I had gained since I left the slum. Maxad, that had been my first true enemy, and I’d slain it with my own hands. Fajahromo was the next of course, the one that truly mattered. It was the one that had used and manipulated me in the pits. The one that had taken me there in the first place. Fajahromo had duped me into making an offspring, and then it had taken my offspring for itself, creating a powerful tool against me in the process. That offspring was dead now, a death I laid the blame for at Fajahromo’s feet.

As if its offences against me hadn’t been enough. Now Fajahromo sought to own me as it had in my last days in the pits. It sought to use its knowledge of my true identity to make me a pawn in its hands. It wanted to own this existence itself. I laughed its claim off, of course. When more powerful hands pulled at the strings of power, Fajahromo had no chance of winning. Still, it irked me that it dared to steal my ring, my birthright left to me by my sire. Fajahromo had to die. That would be the first thing I did. I would go in search of Fajahromo and slaughter the uspec. Then I would go to Katsoaru and find Marcinus, I would save it from the danger of the plenum. We would fight in Chiboga together after that, Arexon, Marcinus and myself, three great fighters. They would both teach me how to wield my spectra, to control it in a way that had eluded me thus far.

It was a future I longed for, one that had me smiling despite the abysmal state of my surroundings. After I killed Fajahromo and retrieved my ring, would I try to use it get Lahooni back? I was heir, but I was not sure that I wanted that power, that responsibility. I did not know if I could handle it.

But before I could lounge in the certitude of the decisions I’d just made, I remembered the invasion, the wrath of Sada. Now that, was a future that I could not live with. To see my own existence controlled by another, to have imps as the leaders of my existence, an existence that belonged to uspecs by right. No, I shook my head, violently cursing Chumani and all the Chus in general. Why hadn’t Chumani kept the cursed imps in its own existence? Why had it sent them here, to litter our existence and dare to plot such havoc? Now the imps sought to own this existence, to usurp us, the uspecs it belonged to. The plenum I loathed, but I could live under, although I probably wouldn’t survive Arexon’s war to do so. But the plenum at least were uspecs, they had the right to control this existence if they had the power to win it. But imps? What right did they have?

And there in lay the crux of my biggest problem with my new knowledge of Musa’s treason. It was bad enough learning that its loyalty to my line was nothing more than a façade which it used to steal from them. But to learn that Musa had planned this, that it had given approval to the invasion. That was a betrayal that I could not forgive. Musa, my imp, who’d spent so much time teaching me, fighting by me, protecting me even, all for what, to eventually recruit me for the wrath? Did it think that when the invasion came I would be like Shadra or the kute uspec, bowing and kneeling to imps, to it? The thought so disgusted me, I tasted the bile of my contempt on my tongue.

If Musa was not already dead, I would have killed it myself. There would be satisfaction in that, the swipe of a cutlass against an imp’s neck, severing its head from the rest of its body. But that would not have killed it. The samu then. All of a sudden, I saw the benefits of the creatures my sire had created. I was grateful for it then. The imps would not find us powerless to their invasion. They would die, the irreversible bite of the samu would kill them all! And the other existence, they had said the fourth was responsible for this, hadn’t they? Although Monica had also mentioned the supreme existence. Two out of the four existences conspiring against us. Both, no doubt, with their Chus to guide them. Where was our Chu? Chuspecip. What chance did we have against other Chus of other existences without the power of our Chu? But if the plenum won and they became the new Chu of our existence, well then, they could be of help. So then, maybe I had to re-evaluate my decision to fight against them. Perhaps I could speak with them, share with them all I knew of the invasion and the wrath’s plans. I hated to do it, but if my choices were between the plenum and another existence? I would choose my kind, always.

I would choose my kind, always.

My own words echoed in my head. And with each repetition, I saw a picture of Musa crawling into my mind. In all that it did, creating permafrost, allowing the invasion to take root, it had been choosing its own kind. It had been fighting to protect them. Could I really be so enraged because it did what I just swore to myself that I would do? It had stolen from my line to accomplish its feats, and it had lied to me. It had lied when I asked how it knew Xavier, and it had lied everyday by omission. Perhaps I had kept the secret of my line from it, but that was no secret that could do it harm. The invasion was a secret that could do me harm, and it had kept it. No, I could not forgive its lies and its treachery. Yes, I would choose my own kind, but I had the right to. This was our existence, it belonged to us, we did not go to other existences trying to take them over. We did not bring the imps here, their stupid Chu did that. No, I shook my head, I could not forgive Musa for what it had done. I just could not.

The sounds of curtains being drawn invaded my thoughts, bringing me back to full awareness of the room I inhabited. It was a source of irritation to me that I was no more sure of what to do next, when the robed imp walked in. This was the most powerful one, the one that always sat in the center. It was accompanied by two uspecs I knew, and two imps I’d seen.

The uspecs were Shadra and the kute, the imps were the giants who usually stood guard outside the S-shaped room where the robed imps sat and conferred.

They all crowded into the tiny room that I had been given.

The robed imp’s eyelids moved up and down over its empty eye sockets in a slow perusal of me. When it was finished, it turned to me and asked, “have you made your decision?”

I glared contemptuously at it. “My decision was made yesterday, and you know it. I will never bow to imps.”

“No one is asking you to bow to imps, we are asking you to live with us, as equals, not as slaves.” Its voice was gentle as if it hoped that by saying the words calmly it could cajole me into betraying my own kind.

“Is that so? After the invasion the balance of power would be in imp, not uspec hands, that, I cannot, and will not, live with.”

The imp shrugged. “Perhaps, but imps are not as power hungry as uspecs are. We do not seek to own you as you do us.”

“Really? And can you swear that for every imp in this existence?” I badgered.

“No.” it replied honestly, which surprised me. “But if you stand with us, you will be protected, rewarded. We will win Nebud, it is inevitable. Do you not want to count yourself amongst the winners? Think of whatever it is you desire. A port of your own? Wealth? Power? After the invasion we will give it to you.”

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Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:02am On Feb 05
“That is the problem.” I stated calmly, all the anger seeping out of me. My decision had been made, and now I was ready to accept the consequences. It had not been said yet, but I had an inkling. “Those things are not yours to grant. You coat your desires with pretty words of equality, but equality is not yours to take or give. This existence, and its way of life, is not the property of imps. If you want equality, ask the other existences you connive with to send you back to the existence you came from. Go and plague your living umanis with your constant presence and leave us alone.”

The imp’s face twitched lightly, but it was enough.

I seized on that and laughed. “They would not want you, would they? The living dead amongst them, of course not. They would not suffer your presence as we have. They, your own kind, would find ways to eradicate you.” I smirked at it, as its face contorted into a mask of barely concealed animosity. Now that was the real imp. Perhaps not Musa, but this imp, this one would seek to own uspecs, just like it owned the uspecs standing in this room with it. I was no such fool. “You have my answer, imp.” I snapped at it, goading it with the command in my voice.

It glared at me. “Very well,” it seethed, “now you have mine. Kill it.” It ordered, before a pool of quicksand appeared underneath it, and sucked it in.

The uspecs approached me first. I saw belts appear underneath their light outer garments. Those belts held swords. I drew my cutlass out and faced them. I was outmatched, and I knew it. They had spectra they could use in Nefastu, while I did not. So, I tried to take that advantage away. “Do you fight like uspecs?” I asked. “Or have you spent so much time with your imp masters that you no longer know how to use your swords.”

Those swords pulled free from their scabbards then, the ring of the drawn metal filling me with a certain giddy excitement. Perhaps I was not the biggest fool in this existence.

The uspecs approached me together, Shadra and the kute, one aiming at my left side, the other at my right. Shadra was the first to thrust its sword out. I easily evaded that, turning as I did to deflect the blow that the kute aimed. They were good fighters. I knew that, I had seen the way that they moved, but they danced like imps did. That might be in the imp nature, but it was not in ours. Brute strength won out in the end. I’d already learnt from training with Musa how to beat dancing fighters. They must never have learnt how to beat a fighter with the strength and skill I had. I beheaded the kute uspec first, and then, on the same swing of my cutlass, before Shadra could pull out its spectra, I swiped my cutlass through its neck, severing its head. If I’d had the time to dwell on my victory, I would have savored it. One of them had stabbed me in the side. It was a small wound really, one that invigorated more than hurt. That wound showed that the fight had been good, enough of a contest for them to draw blood.

But there was no time to dwell on my sweet victory. The giant imps lurked ahead of me, their impassive gazes roaming over the dead bodies of the uspecs. I wanted to pull the uspecs back to life, just to show them the lack of feeling on the imps’ faces. Those imps did not care that they were dead, yet the uspecs had betrayed their own kind for such as these. I truly wished I could bring them back to life, if only to kill them more slowly.

The imps had no weapons. They needed none, I knew this, yet the fact irked me.

“Well?” I teased.

Quicksand appeared underneath me. The sudden appearance of the quicksand shocked me. Immediately, I turned, looking around the room to see if anyone had come to my rescue.

But no, the quicksand did not teleport me out of Permafrost, it merely pulled me in slightly, as if to teleport me, but then it kept me there, held fast. I had never seen quicksand used like this. Of course, it made sense, that it could be used to freeze a person in the act of teleporting, but it would take great control to accomplish this. And these imps, with their siphoned spectra, had that control.

Then a weapon appeared in one of the giant’s hands. It was an unusual axe. The base of the weapon was long, like the shaft of a spear, but the head was unmistakably that of an axe. The giant wielding the weapon stayed were it was, far enough that my cutlass could not reach it, no matter how hard I tried. I hurled the cutlass then, desperate. The imp, though tall, had the grace of the other fighters. It seemed to have expected it, and so it simply swerved, evading the blow.

It grasped onto both ends of the shaft and lifted the butt of the floor. Then it rose the axe in the air and swung it at my neck.

There was no aid coming, no Arexon to teleport into the room and save my life. I was in Permafrost, surrounded by imps who hated uspecs. None of them would help me.

Or so I thought.

A hand appeared, sticking out of a pool of quicksand in the ground. That hand touched the leg of the giant swinging at me, and the giant lost its motion, with the sharp end of the axe only a blink away from severing my head. A larger pool of quicksand appeared underneath the uspec and it was sucked in.

The other giant was flustered. It was just enough time for me to pull my dagger out of my belt and aim at the uspec’s neck.

“NO!” Monica burst into the room. It ran over to the dazed giant as its daze was beginning to clear. The imp was frowning at Monica. It’s attention was so fixated on Monica that it did not see the quicksand which had appeared underneath it, and was now pulling it away.

I gaped at my unlikely savior.

It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that I was alive. I had a wound in my side, but that was nothing. I lived. How many times had I so narrowly escaped death? I had more luck in this than any single fighter had the right to.

The daze cleared right about the time that the imp Monica took it upon itself to touch my wounded skin. I did not flinch back from the touch though.

“Why did you help me?” I asked, as I felt my skin heal faster than was normal. The imp had given me growth then, maneuvering the lifeforce to the part of me that needed it most.

It waited till it was done, before taking a step back, and meeting my gaze with a pained expression on its face. “Is it truly so hard for you to imagine a world where uspecs and imps are equal?”

There was pain in its voice, a sadness which I could not understand.

“It was not so hard for your progenitor.” It stated.

My progenitor? It took me a moment to remember that the imp was aware of my true bloodline.

“I want to leave this place.” I said, ignoring the imp’s words, and its pain-filled look.

It nodded. “You asked me why I helped you?”

I said nothing.

“I did it because Musa asked me to. Musa lives. Our hunters found it under the canopy tree the day that the bandits took you. They brought it here then. It is well, the effects of the samu bite were reversed. No one knows how the bite was reversed, but it was. Once we gave Musa enough growth, it healed itself. Now it lives, it knows of your presence here, and it does not want you to come to any harm.”

My mind reeled. Too many emotions coursed through me. I wasn’t sure what to say, how to feel. There was relief, joy even. That instantaneous reaction to the news that one that I had cared about was well. That Yakubo’s death had not been in vain. Then Musa’s betrayal came back to me, and I was not entirely certain that I wanted the imp back.

“It has been here the whole time?” I asked. “When I petitioned the elders, it was already here?”

Monica nodded. “I did not know. It was already here, already healing.”

The rage that I felt at that moment was without equal. “I want to leave this place.”

Monica seemed shocked. “Without Musa?” it asked.

Musa could spend the rest of its immortal life here in permafrost, with its lying deceitful, kind, for all I cared. I was done with the imp. “Yes.”

Monica gasped. “You can’t mean that.” It said. “Don’t you at least want to see it, to speak to it?”

Speak to it? No. I wanted to kill it. I wanted to wrap my hands around its lying neck and break it.

“The elders will need a push to make them acknowledge Musa’s wellness to you. It may be revered, but none of the elders agree with its desire to return to you. They have waited a long time to have Musa here, in permafrost, they will much rather slaughter you, than give you the chance to take it away. Of course, if you can get them to acknowledge Musa’s wellness, then they have no choice but to bring Musa out. And once Musa is out, they cannot force it to stay. Musa is the firstborn after all.” Monica waited, but I remained silent. “Musa said to tell you that it sends greetings from Tantan.”

It was an odd message. My mind sought to grasp it, to examine it closer. But my heart refused. I wanted out of this place. “If Musa is so powerful then why could it not come itself?”

“It is heavily guarded. They say the guards are for its protection, but we know that the elders just want to keep it away. It can fight them, but the elders have ordered the guards to release the samu if Musa tries to leave. Musa will survive the samu bite as, with growth, it can heal itself, the guards will not. That is why Musa stays, for their safety, not its own.”

Monica appeared desperate now. “I will give you time to think on it. For your own safety though, will you come with me? I can take you to a place where you will be safe while you deliberate.”

“Take me out of here instead. I see you have siphoned spectra.”

“I cannot. The elders…” it broke off. “I cannot. Musa is your best chance out. Force the elders to summon it. Will you come with me to the prayer coves? Not even the elders would dare to attack you in there.”

I nodded. It was not as if I had a choice.

1 Like

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by maynation(f): 6:57am On Feb 05
So many twists to this story, and it's awesome.
One minute Musa was gone the next minute it is alive. If not that Musa is Nebud's only escape plan, I would have loved Nebud to live and leave without it.
Deceitful Imp.

Gratitude ObehiD.

1 Like

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 7:26am On Feb 05
How did Musa survive the samu's bite? I am glad it isn't dead as I always hoped.

Thanks for this update Obehid
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by OluwabuqqyYOLO(m): 8:04am On Feb 05
I hope you are not playing to the gallery, Obehi. Musa should be dead, although I understand there are reasons for everything. Kudos.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by cassbeat(m): 9:51am On Feb 05
Obehid you are just twisting my brain issokay issoright u are the author do what u wish... But musa being alive is one thing I never saw coming...
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by ayshow6102(m): 10:10pm On Feb 07
Thanks for the update obehid and was musa alive b4 nehud went to rescue xavier
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by eROCK247(m): 10:33pm On Feb 07
Never an end to the twists...
I just knew Musa wasn't dead sha. I like this new dimension to the story. Turns out Nebud's instincts are very good. Since Monica knows his true lineage, I'm guessing Musa already does too.

Tomorrow is Saturday!!!
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:48am On Feb 08
@maynation really deceitful imp. lol, gratitude for reading

@Fazemood That will be revealed soon grin

@OluwabuddyYOLO lol, no, I'm not playing to the gallery oh, just writing it like it is

@cassbeat lol, that's my goal to twist and twist your brain hahaha

@ayshow6102 Yes, Monica told Nebud that Musa was already healing before it went to save Xavier. The elders in permafrost lied to Nebud when they said they were going to find Nebud

@eROCK247 Nope, never ending twists. Saturday is here, come and read!
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:48am On Feb 08
Part 22
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Our walk in the hail chill was filled with Monica’s incessant chatter. It did not matter how much I glared at it, the imp would not stop speaking. I did not remember this from the last time I’d been with it. Surely, if the imp had such an avid penchant for chitchat I would have known. Well, this trip was different in so many ways from our previous one.

Through it all, the imp talked. I listened with half my mind as it pointed at a sculpture, a large dwelling with a cylindrical base and a hail-mountain peak. According to the imp, that building was the living lodges where the elders stayed. It was quick to point out that uspecs stayed there too, of course, powerful uspecs sworn to the wrath. If this was said to draw a reaction from me, the imp was sure to be disappointed. Not that it seemed to mind. It immediately turned to its left, to the dwelling we’d just emerged from, and highlighted that as the living bunks, where most of the lower people stayed. Its room was in that hail-mountain dwelling. I said nothing.

As the imp continued to drone on, I turned my attention to the busy streets. It was a new day, not that the foul hail pellets made it easy to see through to the skies. Still, soft streams of orange light made its way to the ground. Perhaps if I’d been in a better mood I would have acknowledged the beauty of the day, the way that the orange rays fell off the hail pellets. I did not.

A passing imp spat at my feet. It said a few words in the harsh dialect I could not understand, and I clenched my fists, fighting to keep myself from lashing out at it. I hated to be so weak, so outnumbered. And this was the future the imps saw for my existence, a future where all uspecs would have to hold their tempers in check against the insufferable insults of imps. That world would come over my dead body.

The imp continued to speak and I continued to pay no heed to it.

I felt my ailerons twitch. It had been a long time since I’d flown. Of course, I knew that I could not. The lesson I’d learnt the last time I tried to fly in Permafrost still lived in my memory. The pounding of the hail, somehow even more unpleasant higher up in the sky, the twirling of the fogs, spinning me as though I was in a tumbler. No, flying in falling hail was not as simple as flying in clear skies. Still, I could not help but see this lack of flight as another affront of the imps. This was just another way they’d devised to keep uspecs imprisoned.

I shook my head, coming back to the present just in time to see that we’d reached our destination.

The prayer coves.

I stood, gaping at it. I had never seen anything quite like the structure before me. Like all the other dwellings here, it appeared to be made out of hail, or at least covered with enough layers of falling hail to give off that impression. But it was not the frost white that made me stare. It was the design of it. The sharp slopes from the top, converging at a slotted entrance at the bottom. It was beautiful. And as I stared at the beauty, I wondered just how much Lahooni wealth Musa had stolen to build a place like this for its kind.

It was with these stormy thoughts in my head, that I marched into the prayer coves, following in the imp’s wake. This dwelling had no guards. There were no giant imps standing in front of it, no warrior uspecs.

The darkness hit me as soon as we walked in. It was like being in Aurelion, not a pleasant thought. I was so distracted that it took me a while to realize that Monica’s incessant chatting had ended. The imp looked relieved. I realized then that it must have been worried that we would be stopped on our way to the prayer cove. If that was the case, why hadn’t it just teleported us here? I proceeded to ask just that.

“These are sacred grounds.” The imp replied. “It is blocked from quicksand. All who enter must do so under Sada’s watchful gaze.”

The imp’s words made no sense to me and I did not try to decipher them. I turned instead to the first source of light in the darkness. To be exact, it was not completely dark, not so dark that I could not see my way through, but it was dark enough to make navigation clumsy. It came as a relief to see an abundance of white light emanating from a spot in the wall only a few steps ahead of us.

Several imps knelt in front of that wall, their hands raised to reverently stroke it. Their reactions to a wall piqued my interest, lengthening my stride. When I got there though, and saw what it was that the imps worshipped, I regretted my eagerness.

There, painted on the wall before me, was the image of Musa. This imp was much different from the one that I knew, the one that I’d spent so much time with. It had a smile on its face, and its hands open and spread out as if inviting another to embrace it. It was dressed in a dark robe, with fringes of white along the seams. And underneath the painting, the words, ‘THE FIRSTBORN’, were written in bolded letters of the uspec common tongue.

I swiveled, turning away from the image, just as an imp crawled to kiss the feet of Musa’s painting. I looked away sharply, my disgust clear on my face. Monica was watching me. It must have seen my expression, but it said nothing. It simply continued moving. We walked in silence then, and I was grateful for it.

As we walked, I saw several coves, broken from the path Monica led me on. In each cove there were imps. Some stood, some sat, some knelt, but each was silent. I could understand why Monica had called this sacred grounds. It was interesting to see this worship. We had no such thing of course. There were places where uspecs gathered to hear the sowers, the pious of the order of dissemination, spread knowledge of the founder, Chuspecip, and the Kuwor. But there were no statues, no paintings that we kissed.

There were those who prayed. I knew that Yakubo had been one of them, an uspec who prayed to Chuspecip. I did not see the purpose of prayers; my life was mine to ensure.

“This is the tabernacle.” Monica whispered to me. “Our most sacred cove.”

We must have entered a new cove. There were no doors in this place, nothing to mark the passage from one room to another. Still, I could tell that there was something different here. Everywhere else, the ground had been the common soft clouds which formed around the feet. It was different here. The ground in this room was filled with a material that I could not place. There was enough light for me to see that it had the color of sludge, but it had none of the stickiness. It was like walking on hardened fog, but it was not quite as hard as that. Something in between sludge and perfect hardness.

The center of this cove was cordoned off by ropes. Imps knelt around these ropes, their hands steepled together as if in prayer. But what did they pray to? All I saw was darkness, a vast nothingness. Was this their god? I shook my head, turning away from the bizarre sight. We went further, and something I saw in the void, made me stop. It had been nothingness, but in the nothingness, there was a figure, hidden within darkness and shadows.

My heart leaped in my chest.

It appeared lifelike, even though it made no movements. I could not see colors, but I saw contours. I saw the form of a body, the outline of ailerons sprouting from behind it. An uspec then. I took a step closer, until I was close enough to see the tail between its legs and the spikes on its neck. It was an irira, a kute-boga irira, like Fajahromo.

Suddenly, I was desperate to be nearer, desperate to see it in detail. I put my hand on the rope, ready to rip it down as it stood in my way. Monica’s hand on mine stalled me. “It is blasphemy to step behind the ropes. Blood cannot be spilled in the prayer coves, but for blasphemy to that extent, an exception may be made.”

I shook its hand off mine and pulled away from the rope. I couldn’t keep my eyes from straying back to the form hidden in the shadows. Still, it did not move. We continued ahead then. Monica led us to an empty cove, and then it walked in.

“I will give you the privacy to contemplate.” It stated, before turning to leave.

For a second I forgot what it meant. Then I remembered, and a terrible weight settled in my chest. “Tell me what your elders will do to you if they find out what you did to the giants.”

Monica’s sockets did not meet my querying gaze. “They will find out, I was seen.” It shrugged. “They will have me banished for some time, send me into isolation in Nefastu so that I can contemplate my disobedience.”

“And you did this because Musa asked you to.”

“Not just that.” Monica replied. “I told you, your progenitor was very kind to me once. It is a debt I never got the chance to pay.”

I scoffed, as if I was about to believe the imp’s lies. What it did, it did for Musa, for the firstborn whose image imps worshipped. “How will it be done?” I asked.

“How will what be done?”

“My inquest with the elders. How will it be done? How will I force them to reveal Musa’s wellness?”

“It must be done in public. A general audience in the Judgement Scene. Have you decided that is what you want?”

What choice did I have? I wanted to snap at the imp. I did not though, I kept my emotions in check. To the imp I simply nodded.

Monica smiled. “Musa will be pleased. I will go and sound the gong for a scene, then I will come back and get you.”

It departed then, and I was left to contemplate my course of action. Thoughts of Musa’s betrayal filled my mind, but I paid no heed to them. I could see how much power the imp held here, power that it had bought with wealth stolen from my line. I had no quicksand to teleport myself out, and it was impossible to fly in the fogs of Nefastu. The imps had to release me, and there was only one person who could force them to do it. I loathed that power they had over me. Power from pansophy which we’d given to them. From spectra which we allowed them to siphon. Our magic, wielded by imps against us. How charming I had found it when I thought Musa was good and loyal. Now I wished to gather every imp with our magic and burn it out of them. Unfortunately, I knew that pansophy, once given, could not be withdrawn. I would never give an imp pansophy. If I desired for an imp to have magic, I would allow it to siphon from me, that way I could control its use of it, I could cut it off if I deemed it necessary. Never again would I let an imp fool me. Never.

The gong sounded then.

It was a loud sound, one that seemed to reverberate through the walls. I could hear it in the cove just as clearly as I would if the gong had been rung in the same room as me. The gong rang, and I was no closer to formulating a plan of action than I’d been when Monica left. What would I say to the elders? What magical words to make them honor their own deal? It was already obvious how little regard they had for uspecs. The uspecs here may be blind to it, but I was not. I was not, and I would never forget it. I would never forget how I’d been treated here. Spat at, stoned, mocked, even almost killed. No, I shook my head, I would never forget.

I was still taking an inventory of my mistreatments when the imp Monica returned.

“They are ready.” It said. “We should go.”

I nodded and followed silently in its wake. Our journey out of the prayer coves was not as awing as the journey in. I thought as I walked, contemplating over this meeting that I had called. A general audience, how many imps was that?

I found out when we reached there, somehow finding our way in through a throng of imps. So many of them stood outside, their cries of disappointment audible, when news spread that there was no more space within. It was the same ‘S’ room that Monica had brought me to the first time, the same room where the elders had confessed the full extent of Musa’s treachery to me.

Monica’s rank amongst its own kind became obvious in the way that the imps reluctantly made way for us. When we got to the entrance, Monica had to show proof that it had been the one to call the meeting before the imps standing by the entrance allowed us in. I noted that they were not the giants. They were still tall, but these ones were about the same height as me. They did not look the least bit perturbed by my presence with Monica.

We entered into the hall, and it was more packed than I could have imagined. There was just barely an aisle down the center, leaving enough room for Monica and me to make our way to the raised stage at the front. I could not imagine how so many imps lived here. I’d thought that there would be many, but I had not imagined quite so many. Hundreds, I thought, hundreds of them. And there were uspecs too, uspecs fighting for standing space amongst the imps. The crush of people reduced as we got closer to the front of the room, closer to the raised dais. Now, that dais was filled with robed imps. I could tell from their clothing that they were elders too. I could not help but note the absence of uspecs on this dais. Only imps sat in this hall, only imps held power.

Monica did not need to explain that it had been the one to call the meeting, I could tell from the looks on the elders’ faces, that they already knew.

I was just about to climb up the stage, when a glance brought my gaze to Xavier. The imp showed no sign of recognition. I snorted, thinking again, of just how much I had lost to bring this imp back. All for what, for Musa?

I climbed the dais.

All the other times that I’d been in this room the center of the raised dais had been cordoned off by hard fog. Not this time. There were still just three highbacked chairs in the center, and still the same imps seated on them, but there was nothing barring their view.

Four people stood around the center. Two of them were uspecs, two new ones, uspecs I’d never seen before. A short bulky boga with a chest of spikes, and a tall lean hooni with a neck of shiny cyan scales. The hooni uspec looked at me with interest, but the boga did not deign to catch my eye.
Monica fell to its knees in front of the elder seated in the middle of the three highchairs. It was this same elder that had ordered my execution this morning. Now it stared kindly at me, with a smile, as if it had no recollection of the events of that morning. I glared at it.

“Rise my daughter.”

As soon as the elder spoke, the hall quieted. It was impressive, how a hall packed with so many people could have so little noise.

“Thank you, mother.” Monica said, rising.

“You called this audience?” another elder inquired.

“On behalf of the banneret, Nebud.” Monica replied. After saying that, it bowed to the elders and withdrew from the stage.

Now there were gasps of shock. I could just imagine the questions they asked, the thoughts pondered in their head.

“What is your desire my child?” the elder in the middle asked.

I almost snapped at that. ‘My child’, I had to clench my fists. What useless things emotions became when they were stunted, when there was no power to draw for them.

“Child?” the elder prompted.

My anger spun out of control, it grew like a beast, hungry, ready to be unleashed. It did not matter though, even if I could, polluting anger in a room this crowded, would not benefit me. Pain maybe, not anger. But my gaze had turned in that moment, and again my eyes had locked with Xavier. Xavier, the first imp with pansophy that I’d met. It had helped me escape the pits, but my offspring had died in the process, an offspring who had been close to Xavier. I should have known then that Xavier was a liar. But no, I had to wait to be blindsided by the imp’s presence on the inter-port trail to learn that lesson. Xavier’s head turned to the side, and its head bent as if it was listening, but there was nothing beside it, nothing but an empty space. I frowned at that, finding that odd. The hall was so packed that a space like that should have been taken by another. Why wasn’t it?

“Musa said to tell you that, it sends greetings from Tantan.”

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Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by obehiD: 3:50am On Feb 08
All of a sudden, Musa’s message through Monica made sense. And out of the crevices of my mind, a plan began to form. It was crazy, it had very little chance of working, but it was better than nothing.

I turned back to face the elders then. “I demand my imp.” I stated in a clear voice which carried across the hall. The musings which had begone at Monica’s words, and grown in my silence, fell away, returning the hall to silence.

If there was any doubt on the elders’ faces, it did not show. “Musa is gone, sapped fully. We could not find it. You know this.” The one to the side lied. Did all imps lie so easily?

“Is it truly?” I asked.

“I grow tired of this.” The elder in the middle stated. It opened its mouth to speak further, but I cut it off.

“Let me sweeten the deal.” I reached into my belt and pulled out a doll I’d thrown in there, never thinking I would have cause to use it again.

Tantan’s appearance. I heard Xavier’s gasp before I continued.

“Give me my imp, and I will give you Tantan’s appearance.”

I knew Tantan was in this hall with me. That was Musa’s message. Tantan, the uspec from the inter-port trail. The one whose appearance Xavier had taken. Musa had found the doll and given it to me. I’d left it in my belt ever since, never thinking that I would actually have use for it. Now though, it was the key, the key to forcing the elders’ hands.

I thought of Musa. I thought of its betrayal. I thought of its theft, of its lies. Then I thought of Yakubo. I dwelt on Yakubo, on the uspec’s death. It had died before its time. Died a painful death all for Musa. I felt pain, like a welcoming balm.

“We could just take it from you.” The elder stated drily.

I had expected that, and I had hoped that I would have an answer. I did not. The pain I felt was not enough. Not enough to overwhelm the curse of Nefastu. I needed more.

“Of course, you would say that.” I spat out. “You show just how little regard you have for uspecs.” My words caused a spell of commotion. Certainly not enough to make all the uspecs in the room cry out for war, but enough to make several of them turn uncomfortably where they stood. “Why should you care about the appearance of an uspec who risked so much for you?” I goaded. “Why should you care for Tantan?” Again, the uspecs shifted, expecting more.

Then, “I spit on uspecs!” an imp yelled. That imp’s cries was greeted by a small scattering of applause. Not from the elders though.

I was running out of time and I needed more. I needed more than just Musa, I needed more than Yakubo. I needed pain, true pain, pain of loss so unbearable that it would break through Nefastu’s curse. I had only done this once before, and it was the pain of Musa’s loss that had driven me. Now, I searched frantically for a loss as the elders struggled to calm the room.

My eyes met with Xavier.

“Where is my pater Xavi?”

The voice came unbidden. It was a memory I’d thought I’d closed my heart against, an ache I’d thought I’d buried. Apparently, the pain of losing an offspring could never be buried. The knowledge that the offspring had called another pater, that it had trusted an imp, over its own progenitor. I saw my offspring’s final minutes in my head again. I saw it rushing for me, armed, ready to kill me. The pain of betrayal. The death. Gerangi’s hand, my offspring’s body. My mind juxtaposed images of my offspring’s body with Yakubo, and I knew pain. I knew true pain. The losses that I had taken. The uspecs I cared for that I had seen dead!

I heard a thud, and then a loud shriek.

“How is this possible?” a startled voice asked.

The memories threatened to overpower me. I felt the okun. I felt energy pulling into me and I knew that I had taken a life with it, I just did not know if it was uspec or imp. This was the time to pull back, this was the time to return to consciousness. But it was so hard. My offspring’s face continued to flash in my mind. It had been so young, much too young to die. Now that I had allowed myself to remember, to bring that day back to life, I could not stop it. I could not stop the pain, the sorrow. I could feel it, sorrow taking root, starting to form into clouds.

No. That was not what I wanted. I could not lose control. I knew it, yet I could not stop the sorrow from forming in me.

“Musa lives.”

I heard the voice, and suddenly, I was crashing back to the present, the here and now. Pain spoke to me. Volumes of it, echoes of overwhelming loss that could only come from a lit okun.

Cognizance returned, and with it, awareness of my surroundings. The pool of lit okun had grown much larger than I’d intended. An imp lay in it. This was one of the imps that had been standing guard.

I waited for the voice to repeat itself, but nothing came. Whoever had said that Musa lived, was not speaking up now. It did not matter.

I smiled.

“Reveal Musa, or I will drop Tantan’s appearance into the lit okun. Maybe all that will happen is that the appearance will leave the doll, sentencing Tantan to spending the rest of its life invisible, or with someone else’s appearance. Or, maybe there’s a link between an uspec’s appearance and itself. Maybe, if I drop the appearance into the lit okun, the uspec will die, just as if it had been dropped into the lit okun itself. Shall we find out?”

I lowered the hand that held the doll threateningly.

“No!” I heard a voice scream. I could not find the source of the voice. “Please mother.” It begged.

The elder in the middle was glaring at me now, all of its old hatred coming to the front.

“Observe uspecs!” I yelled. “Observe the imps you’ve chosen as masters. See how little they care for your life, how little regard they have for you. They do not even blink at the thought of one of you dying. If it was an imp’s appearance I threatened they would not be so nonchalant. They lie to you!” I yelled, my voice booming. “Just as they lied to me. They told me that if I found Xavier and returned it, they would give me my imp. I brought Xavier back. An uspec died so that Xavier could be freed. And what do I get for my troubles? Lies and attempts on my life. They have so little regard for uspecs that they did not even contemplate honoring the deal they struck with me. Instead they ordered me killed, slaughtered. They have no respect for us, no care. Observe uspecs! Observe the imps you’ve chosen as masters.”

And then I let the silence do the speaking for me. The imps needed our magic. They needed uspecs to siphon that magic from, live uspecs willing to allow them to siphon spectra. Without spectra, well they had pansophy, but there are so many disadvantages to a purely contact magic. Spectra could attack against spectra. Pansophy could not.

Mumblings.

The hooni uspec standing by the center stared at me. Its lips twitched. It bowed, a slight neck bow. A show of gratitude? I could not tell, but then it looked away.

Finally, the elder in the middle spoke. “Musa is gone.” It bellowed.

I was just about to drop Tantan’s appearance into the lit okun, when another voice stopped me.

“Musa lives.” It was the voice that had pulled me from my pain rush. It was the hooni uspec, the one that had bowed to me. I stared at it, stunned by the unexpected show of camaraderie. “I have seen it with my own eyes. It is healthy.”

“How dare you?” the elder in the middle snapped.

“Does Tantan mean so little to you, that you will disregard its desires for the sake of an imp who may not even wish to remain here?” The hooni uspec countered. “I say a new bargain should be struck, right here, in the presence of all. Let Musa decide whether it will stay. If Musa chooses to remain, then the banneret will return Tantan’s appearance and leave in peace.” The uspec turned to stare at me. I nodded. In fact, all I wanted to do was leave, I did not want to take Musa with me. But I could not go back now. This uspec had just given me a boon. Regardless of what Musa chose, if the elders agreed, I would be set free. It continued. “If it is Musa’s choice to leave, then surely it must be allowed to leave.”

I heard many more mumbled words, and grumblings from imps. They did not like an uspec speaking up as the hooni did. I stared at the hooni, wondering why it would risk so much for me.

“You are both aligning yourselves with the enemies of the wrath.” The elder in the middle stated, lumping the hooni uspec with me. “If you continue in this regard, you will be counted as such when the invasion is complete.”

“Then it must be so.” The hooni uspec stated, seemingly oblivious to the ominous words. “Musa lives, and you struck a bargain with an uspec. It has done its part, doubly so now, it is time for you to do yours. Fairness is what you swore to each uspec here, fairness is what we all agreed to. Prove it to us now, or never say it again.”

Silence. Whoever this hooni uspec was, it was an uspec that was respected. That much was clear. The imps may not like its boldness, but they did not doubt its words. They knew it would not lie.

Then the elder seated in the middle gave a curt nod to the last imp remaining standing around it. Quicksand appeared underneath that imp. It disappeared and a great silence followed in its wake. In that silence I could do nothing but stare at the hooni uspec who grinned at me. I smiled back at it, and nodded. It nodded at me. I could tell from the way the elder stared at the hooni uspec who’d come to my defense, that it would not be alive for much longer. This imp was vicious. It put on a façade, but its true self had no kindness.

I knew once I heard the gasps of shock. Then the chants. It started slowly at first, whispered words, and then the room shook with it. Cries of ‘Firstborn’ echoed throughout it. I realized then that most of them probably did not know Musa by name, but they knew its face. I was not ready to look at it, and so I kept my gaze averted.

The elders stood. They all turned to the side where I could imagine Musa stood, and then they bowed.

“This uspec.” The elder in the middle began, gesturing dismissively towards me. “Wants to take you away, wants to own you. Is it your desire to leave with it?”

The words were asked plainly, and the answer given just as plainly. “Yes.” Musa replied.

What was that burst of relief I felt? I pushed it down. Musa had betrayed me. It only wanted to come with me now to continue its search for its precious heir. It wanted to continue stealing from my line. That was all.

“But…”

“No.” Musa’s voice snapped like a whip, and I had to bury the burst of pride I felt. The imp was so different here, so very different. “You dishonored me, Clarice. You dishonored me by keeping me locked in a room, and you dishonored me by trying to harm one that you knew I wanted protected and well cared for. We do not hold people against their will. That is not what Permafrost is for.”

“I’m sorry Musa, I just thought…” I heard an ache in the elder’s voice. “I am sorry.”

“We are leaving now.” Musa announced.

“As you wish.” The elder was eager to comply.

“Let any uspec who wishes to follow come with us.” I heard myself say it without thinking. Surely, I could not be the only one that the imps had dealt unfairly with.

“You have no right…” the elder began.

Musa cut it off. “No one is to be held against their will. Are there any uspecs who wish to leave with us?”

Silence greeted Musa’s words, and for a moment I thought that no one would come.

“I want to leave.” It was the hooni uspec who spoke. “I want to leave with you Firstborn.”

“Then we will go.” Musa said.

Was there no one else? Out of so many uspecs only one wished to leave with us, only one was unwilling to continue bowing to imps? I was disappointed.

“The appearance.” I heard Xavier say.

I looked down to find that the pool of lit okun was gone. When had it left me? I could not even say. It was okay though; it had played its part. I tossed the doll to Xavier, not caring if it fell and crashed into a million pieces.

Quicksand appeared underneath me.

“Marc!” I yelled before it could engulf me. “I want my bear!” That smoke bear was the only good thing to come out of my trip to this port.

My cries seemed to fall on deaf ears because I was sucked in without a response. I did not have long to worry. I found myself teleported to the boundary of Nefastu with Marc standing beside me. I stroked the bear’s fur, smiling with pure joy when it trumpeted. It wrapped its trunk around me, and in that warm embrace, I knew a relationship which would be free of betrayal. I walked forward, my hand in the bear’s fur, as I made what I hoped would be my last trip out of Nefastu.

Damejo greeted me like a breath of fresh air.

“Thank you sirga.” I heard a voice say.

I turned to the uspec who’d stood up for me and decided to escape Permafrost by my side. “What is your name?” I asked the hooni uspec.

“Fabiana.” It replied.

“I am Nebud.”

It nodded, and then it smiled, and then it laughed. It was foolish, but I heard myself laughing too. I don’t know why, but I did.

And then Musa’s voice broke my joyful return to the world of normalcy. “Master?” it said it softly.

I was yet to look at it. “Go back to your people, Musa, go back to them. I do not want you with me. I cannot bear the sight of you.”

I heard a sharp inhale. “Please master…”

“Just go.” I snapped. “Leave me.” How great I had thought being a master would be. I’d thought I’d own a whip, that I’d strike out at my slave, forcing it to bend to my will. Even in this, in this awful feeling of betrayal, in this loss of a relationship that I had come to rely on, I could not lash out at Musa. I just could not. Maybe the imp was right, maybe it really did have a special bond with the uspecs of my line. It would take a special bond to keep my line blind to its treachery, blind to its theft.

“I cannot leave you master. Please…”

“No.” I cut it off. “Go back to your kind. I do not want you with me. I cannot look at you Musa. I cannot.”

“Then I will take away my appearance so that you don’t have to, but I will not leave you.”

I moved on, fuming at the imp’s gall. Even in this it sought to thwart me.

2 Likes

Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by olite93: 8:37am On Feb 08
A good man will neva be left alone... A new friendship from marcinus to yakubo to fabian... arexon's friendship is on anoda level... ObehiD u good.... Improving with every update though todays update was short
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by eROCK247(m): 6:56pm On Feb 08
Beautiful story as usual.

Nebud should hear Musa out. It could have remained in Permafrost as a god but it didn't. To think that Musa wielded so much power and can still act as a slave...Musa
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Fazemood(m): 9:34am On Feb 10
Fabiana? Here I smile, it's my name Obehid. Fabian. I indirectly get to feature in your story? cheesy

Gratitude.
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by Tuhndhay(m): 1:33pm On Feb 10
Nebud does not have any right to treat Musa in that manner, He also kept a secret away from it, just a case of double standard..... I hope Musa also reacts in like manner when it finds out the truth about Nebud's true Identity
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by ayshow6102(m): 11:25pm On Feb 10
Tuhndhay:
Nebud does not have any right to treat Musa in that manner, He also kept a secret away from it, just a case of double standard..... I hope Musa also reacts in like manner when it finds out the truth about Nebud's true Identity
Musa already knows his true identity naa even if didn't know b4 there's no way he won't know now that everyone in permafrost knows his true identity and Monica would have already gossiped about it to musa, u know umanis and their gossip
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by ayshow6102(m): 11:27pm On Feb 10
Fazemood:
Fabiana? Here I smile, it's my name Obehid. Fabian. I indirectly get to feature in your story? cheesy

Gratitude.
Obehid what about me na u should have named the bear Ayshow naaaa
Re: The Marked: In The Spectral Existence (A Stand-alone Fantasy Fiction Novella) by ayshow6102(m): 11:44pm On Feb 10
Thanks for the update obehid I hope that musa remembered to regrow his thing now dat he has growth

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