“You know that saying?” I asked conversationally as we walked outside and headed for the woods behind the house. “Carpe diem?”
I took Damian’s silence to be a yes.
“I think that’s complete bullshit. Carpe noctem is where it’s at.”
“Where are we going?” Damian asked, ignoring my poetic comments.
We were going to complete the next item in my genius plan. “On an adventure,” I replied cheerily.
“Yeah, why don’t we just join hands and skip off to Oz,” Damian muttered under his breath, sarcasm practically dripping from his words.
I stopped dead. The only sound that broke the silence of the darkened forest was the beating of a bird’s wings as it flew over where we stood. I sent a thin trail of shadows straight through its heart, and it plummeted to the ground, falling lifeless at Damian’s feet. I turned to him, my face serious and dark. “We’re going on an adventure,” I repeated slowly, far more ominously this time.
Whatever sarcastic comment Damian might have come back with died on his lips. He seemed a shade paler as we continued on, and it took all my self control not to laugh. God, I’d forgotten how fun scaring the shit out of people could be.
“What do you know about me?” I asked as we walked. It was partly out of curiosity that I wanted to know and partly because knowledge was the key to most of the games I liked to play. The less he knew about me, the better.
“That you’re a demon, obviously. You’re considered highly dangerous,” Damian said.
I scoffed. “Highly hardly covers it.”
“I was told you could teleport and control shadows, but no one knew to what extent,” Damian continued.
“Lucky for you, you’re about to find out.”
“I also know that I hate you with a burning passion.”
I smiled in the darkness. “That’s always good to hear.” I wasn’t even being sarcastic. “Tell me about your magic training.”
Damian scowled and didn’t immediately reply.
“Oh, come on, you’re not revealing any great secrets or anything,” I said. “I already know everything there is to know about the magic you gits practice, and more. I just want to know how far you’ve gotten.”
His eyes narrowed, Damian looked at me suspiciously. “That sounds like a trick.”
I sighed. “Really? I’m thousands of years old and you don’t think I know that all you guys can do are a handful of energy-based spells?”
“Handful? There are hundreds-“
“Exactly. A handful,” I cut him off. “I know that most of your magic deals with the elements, and that nearly all the energy you use comes from yourself, limiting your power and stamina. I also know that none of it is a match for me.”
Reluctantly, Damian answered. “I got to unspoken energy manipulations with a concentration in orb formation, but not to specific elemental control.”
I blinked at him. “What, do you have a textbook?”
Clapping him hard on the back, I asked, “Did you swallow it?”
Damian shot me a dark look. His dark looks were getting better. I was so proud. “No. The guild is thorough, that’s all.”
“Yeah, whatever. Now tell me that in English, please.”
“I can make energy balls and do some other stuff, but I can’t control the elements without a written spell.”
I nodded. “Gotcha. So you’re like, half a sorcerer. You’re like a sorce.”
Judging by the look on his face, I’d say Damian wasn’t amused. I, on the other hand, grinned at my own cleverness. One day it would be appreciated.
We came to a clearing in the forest and I pointed to a big, conveniently placed rock near the middle. It had the initials of multiple people scratched into it, some encircled in hearts, others just bare. I scowled at them all. Feelings. Feeeeeeelings. I hated them. “Sit,” I said sharply, pointing at the rock. Damian crossed his arms, looked down at it, and said, “No.”
“Why not?” I asked, genuinely curious. There was really no reason not to.
“I don’t want to.”
I shrugged. “Well, fair enough.” I gestured in a sweeping motion with my hand, and a thick trail of shadows followed my movements, gathering like a tidal wave of black before sharpening into a flat blade and whipping towards the trees. However, blocking their path to the trees was the neck of a certain annoyingly stubborn boy. Damian ducked a millisecond before the shadows sliced the air right where his flesh would have been. The shadows cut a tree in half, and it fell with a resounding boom.
Damian, for his part, jumped at the sound, then, after the dust settled, looked up at me in disbelief. “What was that for?!” he demanded.
I shrugged. “I told you I was going to show you what I was capable of.”
“Well that’s just great,” Damian said sarcastically, “but did you have to aim for my head?”
My God, this boy was tiring. I sighed. “I wasn’t aiming for your head, I was aiming for that tree. Your head was in the way. But you moved, so we’re good.”
“If I hadn't moved, that would’ve killed me!” Damian shot back in outrage.
“Isn’t that what you wanted?” I snapped. “Me to kill you?”
That shut him up pretty fast. He scowled, and I knew that I’d won, yet again. It wasn’t much of a surprise, really. I always won.
“So what are we here for?” Damian asked, changing the subject. “You to show off? Let’s get to it.”
“Hey, hey,” I said, raising a hand. “I’ll take all the time I want showing off. Though, coincidentally, I was about to get to it because it’s the fun part of this evening’s events.”
Either Damian underestimated how well I could see in the dark or he intentionally rolled his eyes for my benefit. I smiled. Oh, to be young and arrogant. Being old and arrogant was a million times better, I found, because then I could do stuff like this.
I snapped my fingers, and a thin film of shadows gathered on Damian’s eyelids. Shadows, of course, were simply an absence of light unless I willed them to take on physical form, so he didn’t even feel them there until they forced his eyes shut. Damian yelped, hopping up off the rock only to catch his foot on a root and stumble as he fell.
“What the hell?” he shouted, swiping at his eyes.
I couldn’t help it; I laughed. “Let’s see you roll your eyes at me now.”
“How are you doing this?” Damian demanded, pushing himself back up to his feet. “Make it stop!”
Taking pity on the boy, I let go of the shadows. He opened his eyes, and they were wider than usual. “How did you do that?” he breathed.
I grinned. “Shadows.”
Damian seemed begrudgingly interested. “What else can you do?”
I took a step closer, then another. I bent my head down so that half of my face was cast in darkness for ominous effect, then said in the quietest, most sinister tone I could summon, “Everything.”
Damian’s eyes were still wide, although I chose to believe that this time it was out of awe at my considerable power rather than because he was gaining a new appreciation at having them open to begin with. I flashed half a smile, then gathered some shadows at my face, forming a fine curly mustache and goatee. Casually, I pulled on the edge of the mustache with two fingers, and it sprang back as a real mustache would. Damian smirked.
“What?” I demanded. “Shadows make good disguises, look how legit this looks.” He laughed. “Stop laughing, it’s not funny.”
“You look ridiculous,” Damian said.
My eyes narrowed as my mustache faded into the air. In the blink of an eye, Damian sported an afro instead. He didn’t seem to realize it, so I smiled and said, “Now who looks ridiculous?”
“Still you,” he said.
I raised a brow, then jerked my chin at his hair. Damian felt at what he expected to be air above his head and felt the poofy mass there instead. He glared at me. “Get it off.”
“You get it off,” I replied petulantly. “You’re going to have to learn to eventually.” I turned and began to walk away. “Anyway, continuing with the demonstration… Which piece of nature do you like the least in this clearing?”
Damian looked around. “What do I like least? It’s nature, what’s not to like.”
I scowled. “Well, see, that tree over there and I disagree on a fundamental level, so you know what I’m gonna do?”
“Cut it in half?”
“No, that’s too quick of a death.”
I closed my eyes. This one took concentration and a shit ton of energy, so I was forced to let Damian’s afro go. I forced the shadows to seep into the very fibers of the tree, into every crevice in its bark, every pore of its leaves. Then, all at once, I willed every one of those tiny shadows to expand drastically.
The tree exploded, sending shards of wood everywhere. Had I not erected a shadow shield (patent pending) above the two of us just in time, we would’ve been impaled thirty times over. As soon as the debris had fallen, I let the shield go and slumped.
Damian was staring at the remains of the tree, his expression completely blank. “Did you just spontaneously combust that tree?”
My knees felt a little weak, so I sat down heavily on the rock. “Technically not spontaneously. But combusted, yes.”
I thought I heard Damian breathe, “Damn,” under his breath. I smiled, a little smug, but I had reason to be. My plan was working perfectly. It was about time things went as I planned them.