Remain. [NaNoWriMo '16]

[Sequel to NaNo '15 novel Run.] Ruling the world isn't as easy or as fun as it sounds, especially not when a group of angry angels are thrown into the mix. What's worse is that Baxel is without his right-hand man, who just so happens to be the key to everyone's plans.


2. One: Butter Pecan


    Some things are just better in concept than in execution. Take butter pecan ice cream, for instance. I like butter. I like pecans. I like ice cream. But butter pecan ice cream? It’s gross. In this case, the ice cream is a metaphor. Actually, in most cases, ice cream is a metaphor. But in this particular one, butter pecan ice cream is a metaphor for the Bane of Mortals. 

    The Bane of Mortals, also known as the Ring of Mortals, also known as the thing that I spent incredible amounts of time and effort lusting over, finding, and taking for myself. Yeah, that one. This was, in fact, the very same ring that reunited me with my son, revealed that I had a son (apparently), and subsequently - in a more roundabout way - drove that son away. 

    But all that was okay. All the hardships were just bumps along the road to ultimate glory, to the ultimate achievement of finally - after thousands of years of dreaming - ruling the world. 

    I had done it. I had done what Pinky and the Brain could not, what a thousand other fictional evil masterminds had failed to. I had done it. The world was mine, and nearly everyone in it would bow to my will at every command. It was perfect; it was everything I had ever wanted.

    I had just never accounted for how boring it would all be. 

    For the first few months, it was fun. It was a lot of fun, actually. I played God in a massive game of Sims, manipulating people however I wanted. I took power from those in charge and gave it to the most random of people - celebrities, rock stars, dogs. But now, I could feel my enthusiasm waning. 

    At the third knock on my door in an hour, I sighed. “What?” I snapped. The door opened slowly, and a shaking human stepped in, his hand never leaving the handle of the door. He looked ready to jump out and shield himself with it at any moment. Which was smart, given my track record. 

    “S-sir,” he began, swallowing hard. “I have a new report here about the war in China.”

    “Since when has there been a war in China?” I muttered. 

    “Since you gave half of its agricultural land to Germany to grow grain for more beer and then there was that famine…” 

    I vaguely remembered something about that. “Oh, that. Alright, well, what do you want me to do about it?” I was irritated by these trivial matters, but no matter how many times I told the humans I genuinely didn’t care, they still kept reporting to me. Almost like I had commanded them to sometime or other. 

    “Wh-whatever you wish, Sir.”

    I growled. “I’m tired of all you ‘yes’ men. Get out.” He didn’t hesitate to slip out the door and shut it firmly behind him. I sighed. This wasn’t how I wanted this to go. I wanted to have an advisor, a right hand man who would help me rule the world. I didn’t want to sit alone in this room with the weight of the world on my shoulders. 

    I missed Damian. 





    Damian sat on the floor of his little cabin, the heat drawing sweat from his skin in rolling beads. He closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath of concentration. It was daytime outside, and there was plenty of light, but inside his cabin lay only shadows. He could feel them move at his command, shifting through the air like roiling fog. 

    Taking in another deep, steadying breath, Damian held the shadows in their positions while reaching out past the walls of his cabin. Brining in a thin stream of light under the door, Damian willed it to form into a ball, which hovered in the middle of the cabin. The shadows reared back from the light, and it took most of Damian’s concentration to force them to surround the light orb, encasing it entirely. He was lucky that he had been in and out of the Nether so many times over the past few months that willing the shadows to take him had become a second nature. It required so little concentration now that Damian’s grasp on the light and shadows fighting each other within the little ball didn’t swaver. 

    When Damian opened his eyes, he was in the Nether. The dark gray-black expanse spread out flat in every direction, and Damian took a moment to let his eyes adjust to the alternate plane. Once they had, he turned his attention back to the orb in his hand. The light was still there; the Nether hadn’t attacked it through the cloaking layer of shadows. Interesting. 

    Raising his little experiment past eye level, Damian let the shadows disperse to merge with the others in the Nether and released the light within. For a split second, the Nether was bright - such a strange sight that Damian didn’t even have time to comprehend it. And then, it was just gone. Winked out like it had never been there at all. 

    Damian frowned. He knew that the Nether attacked light where it found it. In fact, it attacked most things that weren’t made of shadows - light, humans, angels like Sirio. In a way, Damian was lucky to be so composed of shadows; not that he would ever admit it. And it was this connection with the shadows that had him frowning. 

    When the light disappeared, he felt no disturbance amongst the shadows except for the dissipation around the light. From everything he knew about the Nether from his various experimenting over the past few months, the light should’ve remained for a few seconds more, held by his will, until the shadows attacked it and chipped away at his strength. Damian should have been the one who had to weaken and release. Instead, it was almost like they slipped away from his grasp, pulled by some sort of magnet. Stolen from his hands. 

    Damian returned to the surface dissatisfied and still confused. He flipped open a worn notebook and jotted down a few things about his most recent experiment. He may not like being the son of a demon, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t take advantage of the perks that came with it. The more he knew about the Nether and shadows, the stronger he would be when he finally returned to the magic world. 

    As he went to close the notebook, Damian paused at the small picture taped inside the cover. Taryn was younger in this photo than when he had last seen her, but he preferred to remember this time. She had posed next to a concert hall when Damian had surprised her with concert tickets. The only thing that outshone her grin were her eyes, filled with bright joy and love. But that was before she was taken to the Nether, before she was used as leverage by a demon, before she had found out the truth about Damian’s parentage. 

    Damian hadn’t stuck around long enough to see the disgust on her face, and he was glad. He would rather remember her when she thought he wasn’t the son of a monster. 




    “I’m not a monster,” I said to the scrawny boy fidgeting in his seat. “Go to the bathroom, for Satan’s sake.”

    He was up and out of his seat in an instant, and I sighed, turning to the rest of the room. “Interns, am I right?” They all nodded, but it was jerky and nervous, like if they didn’t I would rip their heads off. Literally. “Anyway, I’ve called you all here today because I’m looking for an advisor. Any volunteers?” 

    No hands went up. I looked around at my potential candidates. They were a strange group, chosen for a variety of qualifying factors - intelligence, obedience, and aesthetics. 

    “Huh,” I said. “Well, it doesn’t matter, because I wasn’t going to give you all a choice anyway. I’ll be keeping a close eye on all of you for the next few weeks, and then I’ll announce the winner.” I looked one of the women in the eye. “A real close eye.” Turning to the very attractive man beside her, I added in a hiss, “Uncomfortably close.” I traced a thin trail of shadows up his neck and across his chin, then grinned. He squirmed, and I tried not to laugh. Making humans uncomfortable was one of the best parts of my day. 

    “Dismissed!” I barked, and the room cleared out in a half second flat. 

    I wandered out into the hallway, passing one of my many servants sitting outside the room. She scrambled to his feet as I passed, calling, “Sir!” 

    Turning slowly, I surveyed this new messenger. She was bolder than the last one, no stutter in her voice. “I have a message for you, sir.”

    I rolled my eyes. “What is it this time? Is Russia trying to take over the world?”

    She paused, her dark brows lowering a bit. “They’ve been working at that for months now.”

    “Really?” I asked, then decided I didn’t care. “Whatever. What’s the message?”

    “Reports have been coming in from North Korea, Germany, Honduras, Africa, England, South-“

    “Yeah, yeah, get to the point.” My gaze wandered around the bare hallway, looking for something more interesting to focus on. 

    She looked annoyed at being interrupted, but it was me. What could she say against me? “You commanded everyone to tell you where there was supernatural activity spotted. I’m telling you.”

    I looked back to her, more interested than before. “What kind of supernatural activity?” 

    “Some of the reports are vague,” she told me. “But most mention flashes of light.”

    My cold blood ran colder. “When did these reports come in?” 


    “Yesterday?” I demanded. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

    She tilted her head, making some kind of expression with her face that probably expressed something like confusion or offense, or whatever, I really didn’t care enough to figure it out. “Because you commanded us not to disturb you last night because it was ‘spa night’ and then this morning, there was that thing with the bird and you commanded us to leave you alone, and then just now before the meeting I tried to tell you, but you were all like, ‘Can’t you see I’m about to start a meeting? Don’t disturb me now.’ So I waited until now. And told you,” she finished a huff. “Can I go now?”

    “Yes, fine, go,” I snapped. This was the problem with the ring; I had to be really careful how I phrased things. “But tell me the minute you get any new information.”

    She was already walking away as per my command. “I’m not sure that’s physically possible-“

    “Okay, tell me as soon as possible,” I amended with a sigh. Really, butter pecan. The Ring of Mortals. Better in concept. 

    “Yes, sir,” she replied before turning the corner. I was glad that she was gone. After all, I had an angel to visit. 


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