The story of the Grotto has to back up somewhat now to allow another player to enter the fray. This will take a little while to show, but there are moments within it that ask questions some don’t necessarily want to answer…
Temptations XXXXI – The Grotto – Part iX
By TeraS and Darkside
The car pulled into the library, parking some distance from the door. The driver’s door opened, and the driver stepped out. Breathing in the evening air, he looked towards the setting sun before heading towards the library door. He looked back at the car for a moment and saw thin tendrils trailing from him. A sharp glance down confirmed the source as the sleeves of his trenchcoat. He drew himself up and meditated for a moment. The leak was still there, just less so, so he reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a pair of leather gloves. With those on, the leak was stopped. He watched the shadows dissipate and headed in.
“It has to be here, I can feel it.” I muttered. Obviously I’m short on time, I can feel the decay, though contained for now. I entered the library and headed towards the strongest source of energy I could find. The book I needed had to be there, after all, magical tomes were extradinarily rare. But if the shadowmancer’s spellbook wasn’there…
Well, I still had some time…
He passed down row after row of books, the pull of the energy in the library almost overwhelming him as he walked. Then he felt the direction of the power shift to his right and he looked down an aisle to catch a glimpse of a mass of raven hair disappearing at the other end of the aisle.
Then the power was no longer in the aisle and it was fading away again. He moved towards the woman that he had just glimpsed. She must be holding the book. It was the only logical explanation.
The isle opened into a sitting area in the middle of the library. A set of four jet black leather couches faced each other in a square. In the center a single vase stood holding a single red rose in it.
On one of the couches a woman sat looking at him as he entered her space.
She held a thin book in her hands. But it wasn’t the book that was interesting. The woman was by far. It wasn’t possible, but there she was. A Succubi. From the look of it a powerful one. She was dressed in a tight red mini dress that clung to her curves invitingly. Her red horns glinted in the raven black of her hair. The long red tail swished in the air behind her as she relaxed on the couch seemingly waiting for him.
Her red lips were parted slightly in a slightly amused smile and her so green eyes looked deep within him.
She crossed her long legs to dangle a heel lazily from one foot.
Then she said in a husky voice, “Welcome to my Library…. I am Tera…. I am the Queen… This is my realm and my will is supreme… You have a wish… A need… What is that want….. And are you willing to proceed?”
Even in a place as dark as this, I knew better than to screw with a Succubus. Especially one that radiated this kind of energy. Well, if a being of this power had claimed the area, I might’ve lucked out. I sat across from Tera and looked her in the eye, keeping my eyes off her foot. I had to play this carefully, if I wanted to come out of this at all.
“It’s not a matter of will, or want. It’s a matter of existance. I need the Shadowmancer’s Index. I am in a state of increasing entropy, and if I don’t find it soon I’ll cease to exist. Simple, no? Is it here, do you have it? I felt dark energy here, but were you simulating it?”
I leaned back and drew in the dark. The lack of light made living easier, and I suspected that was intentional on her part. I reached in my coat, took out a pen and started twirling it, watching the Succubus for a response.
Tera listened to his words and then said, “I have many books in my collection… The one you seek I have as well… The question is of course… What do you offer for the right to the book?”
She leaned against the armrest of the couch she sat in and then added, “My powers have blanketed this place for more time than you can imagine… You will find it impossible to locate the book yourself as my energies dampen the book’s…”
She watched as he absorbed some of the darkness around them and then said, “You are welcome to gather some energy if you need it… I do allow snacking in the library…”
When he twirled the pen she smiled and said, “Lovely device you have there… Quite beautiful really… If you are worried that I might sneak into your mind and alter you… I won’t… You have larger issues than that…”
She curled up on the couch and placed the book on her lap. One slim finger tapped the cover of the book and she asked, “A simple question for you then… What are you willing to give me for the book… Or do you want me to tell you what I want for it?”
I could feel that damn book, like tendrils of black smoke in a cloud of steam, but she could easily emulate it as she had before. “I don’t need ownership, just access. As much as I’d like to learn everything in the book, I only need the notes on stability. As for payment, I’m not wealthy, but I doubt you want money.” I laughed”
I smiled, “Thanks. You won’t notice anything missing, of course, the darkness just lets me connect to the Void without burning more than I take.”
“Hm? The pen?” At the mention, I stopped twirling it and looked at it. “Nothing special, I’m just a fan of the ink. Hell, you can have it if you’d like, I can always get more. I just twirl them when I’m nervous. Or bored. As for my mind…” I chuckled, “That would be one trick, let me tell you. But I do indeed have larger issues.”
As I continued to draw power from the Void, I considered. The pen would be too simple, and she could have it anyway. But what then? I put the pen away and leaned forward, “Let’s make a deal, then. My life in exchange for…?”
Tera smiled and said, “In exchange for what… A promise of something that I will claim later from you? Too obvious… A moment of passion taken from you? Too simple. An opportunity to alter you to my tastes? Too boring really…”
She lifted the book into the air and said, “I want some truths from you my dear… Answer the questions and actions I ask here and now and the book is yours… Lie or cheat and the book is lost…”
Her eyes focused on him, “It’s a simple enough task isn’t it? Unless of course all that darkness within you has removed that ability from you….”
Her tail raised over her shoulder and then seemed to tilt to one side and consider him, “Has it? Or are you lost in more ways then one?”
“Shadowmancy is not an evil art, just a dark one.” I melded with the shadows and ported from across Tera to the couch nest to hers, leaving black wisps behind. “So ask, then.
Tera curled up on the couch and nodded her head slightly, “I did not suggest evil my dear… There is evil and then there is darkness… The difference is important in the universe you know…”
She rested her arm on the couch back and then placed her head on her hand. The book she placed on the couch between them where he could easily see that it was indeed the book he wanted. She asked him, “Why not the light?”
“Oh, I know. I have personal experience there.”
I looked at the book, but wasn’t stupid enough to try grab it.
“I actually fell into the dark, so to speak. When I was in college, a professor of mine took my as an aide to the Amazon to study undiscovered territory. The team he assembled was mostly academics, me and a few other mules, and a handful of guides. Long story short, we got ambushed and seperated, I fled into a ruin, and tried to find an unseiged exit. Instead I found this power and got everyone back.” I shrugged. “It suits me anyway, I’ve always preferred things quieter and dimmer than most people.”
Tera nodded slightly, “Quieter and dimmer… But not that it consumes you totally…. Have you the lust and wants of your past or are they dampened now? Are you willing to have a moment of pleasure for yourself or are you content with things as they are?”
Her finger touched the book and she said, “You know that there will be a cost. Are you prepared to pay it?”
“My nature is largely unchanged, which is a relief. My physical form is only changed in that food and energy are largely interchangable.
“As to the second pair of questions, of course, though my attention right now is focused on securing my survival, and no, for the same reason.”
I laughed. “As long as my life is worth living afterwards, yes. That is, after all, my goal.”
Some goals shouldn’t be met…