Chapter Seven : The House of 1000 Eyes
Mirage and the Geist were in a large plane with no up and no down, no left and no right; they floated in a null space relaxed and weightless. The world was black and formless with pulsing colors all around, they were in the void, peace, the crossing, the after. The scene abruptly changed into a room inside of a house with many, many doors
“What the hell is this?” Mirage looked around the room. “Where did we end up?”
“The House of One Thousand Eyes, I visited it once as a child, thought it was a dream.” He looked at her and smiled. “I told grandma about it and she told me its name and showed me how to navigate it, sort of.”
“What do you mean sort of?”
“Well the thing about it is, there are beings that were given governance over the infinite dimensions that exist here and so they can alter which doors in the house lead to the their domains.” The Geist turned away from Mirage and frowned. “And the doors kind of act like two way mirrors so they can see us but we can’t see them.”
“Ugh we don’t need this.” Mirage put her hands on her hips. “We got side tracked to go on wild goose chase?”
“Well you can leave if you want to, I can send you back the way we came in although I can’t help the train schedules.” The Geist walked toward one of the doors. “It’s your call.”
Mirage sighed. “No, no what kind of cousin would I be if I left you here, alone?”
“I’m not sure, but I can understand not wanting to be here.” He put his hand on the door and moved it across the face.
“What are you doing?” She followed behind him looking over his shoulder.
“Grandma taught me about gate frequency and how I can determine where gates have opened up based on those frequencies.”
Mirage leaned back and thought out loud. “How is it that you could do all of this as a kid when you were given grandpa’s egun five months ago?”
Still studying the door the Geist addressed her. “ I always wondered the same thing, and then grandma of course told me that I have an ancestral gift. Since egun’s are ubiquitous and not one spirit in particular but the spirits of all our ancestors they can bestow special abilities upon us during our lives.”
“And yours is?”
He stood up and looked at her. “I can open gates, that’s what I’ve always done, the only thing is without an egun I could end up anywhere without a way to get out.”
“So what about your shadow magic?”
He thought for a moment. “The way I see it, shadow magic works better with my gift, I open gates to other dimensions and the shadow is itself in the second dimension.”
“Oh ok.” She pouted under her hood. “Why don’t I have a gift?”
“You’re asking the wrong person. Incidentally this is the door we’re looking to go through, you ready?”
Mirage let out a heavy sigh. “Yeah sure let’s go.”
The Geist pressed his and against the door and for a brief moment ancient symbols flashed across it’s face. The sound of gigantic pressure releasing came from the doorframe and it slowly creaked open. “Let’s go.” He walked in the door ahead of her and she picked up the rear. When they entered the door shut silently behind them.
She awoke to the dry cackles of hyena’s, not that she’d ever heard a hyena cackle or seen one for that matter. She tried to move and then stopped when she realized her body was bound in a slimy membrane that went from her neck to her toes. All around her were sickly pink walls that pulsated red like a diseased heart beat. Her thoughts began to race as she recalled the events that led her here, wherever here was. What the hell is going on she thought, this wasn’t your everyday shit hell it wasn’t even your once in a blue moon shit, this was craziness pure and simple there was no way this could be going down not in the real world. She decided she had to be dreaming at least until the large hulking creature with the head of a jackal and the body of a man walked in surrounded by several other creatures that looked like it. Tea’s eyes became saucers, she struggled to get out of the sack hurling curses left and right. Somewhere along the way the large hideous creature took the shape of a man, as he walked over to her, it was Calvin’s face and build he wore the same suit from the restaurant.
“Hello, it seems you’re finally awake.” His elongated canines peeked behind his lips.
“Where the hell am I, what is going on?” She cringed at his smile. “Why do you look like my boss?”
“You’re in the land of Baka, that is to say the land of lower world entities.” His expression became a mask of amusement. “ And technically I am your boss.”
“What do you mean?”
“Eh it would take too long to explain, for now don’t worry about it.”
“What are you going to do to me?” Tea still tried to move.
“Just take a little something from you.”
Tea felt pressure on her stomach for a brief moment and then it subsided. “ What was that, what did you do?”
“Nothing serious.” He touched the membrane and it began to slide away. “You’re free to take a look around, you might find something that interests you.” As the final parts of her binding fell away Tea began to move on unsteady ground. The creatures that were surrounding her made a path to walk through. She looked ahead of her and then behind where ‘Calvin’ was standing only to find him gone. This is too much, I have to get out of here she thought walking toward a fleshy causeway in front of her. Hideous purple veins coursed through the mass, creeping through it she came upon what passed for a clearing in the land of the Baka where strange uvula like objects sprouted from the ground. There was no wind here and the sounds of scuttling could be heard all around the odd fixtures of the world. It was humid and the air was thick with hostility and despair and trepidation, it all made Tea sick but she couldn’t worry about that at the moment her aim was to get out of here and that was what she would do. As she walked she heard movement behind her, whirling around all she saw was a large lump and the uvula like objects. She thought that finding an exit fast would do her good right now and since she didn’t know the terrain not being alert would be a dangerous thing. The shuffling behind her sounded again and she turned around with furious speed, her pulse was pounding like a Congo drum as adrenaline filtered into her blood stream in a short burst. To her relief and surprise there was nothing behind her, if the things that lived here didn’t kill her, those false alarms would surely give her a heart attack. She realized the former might happen first as she turned around and came face to ‘face’ with a creature that sprouted from the ground, it had small jagged teeth where it’s eyes were supposed to be, they extended from the sockets and the hole where it’s mouth was had tentacles that extended forward toward her. It screamed, she did too, she then took off running in another direction toward more of strange organ like growths that resembled hearts connected to brain stems sprouting from the ground. All around her was the sound of movement and figures from beyond the shadow of the fixtures, they were following her and she ran harder until something dropped in front of her, it wasn’t one of the jackal creatures, but something else like a bird with the body of a woman. The sound it let out was frightening, Tea covered her ears and ran to her right she didn’t know where she was going but she hoped it was leading her out. She ran until she came into another clearing, where a large glowing membrane plastered to appeared to be a mountain wall. The movement stopped behind her and it was then that she understood they were leading her here.
Tea moved closer drawn to the light, as she drew nearer she saw something not with her eyes but with her mind, a myriad of images flooded her mental vision. She saw a number of souls screaming out in torment tearing a hole through reality into New York City, she didn’t know how she knew they were souls but she did. The worst of it was yet to come she saw something large and menacing coming behind them, it carried with it the most intense feeling of dread she had ever experienced. She saw a man in a hood battling something larger than the previous creature, and losing. She saw a woman similar to the man in appearance with tears streaming down her face as she held someone’s head in her lap. She witnessed a small group of men and women stand fast against horde of inhuman creatures set to the backdrop of a ruined city. She saw a man brought back from the dead by strangers and another put in his grave for the sake of those he loved, she saw a number of deaths perpetrated by one woman and a precious life born from another. The last image nearly took her breath away as realized who was in it and what it meant, she staggered grasping her head, there was no pain but the rush of it all made her dizzy. Spinning she caught a glimpse of something behind her and quickly passed out into the persons arms. The figure was hooded, wore black blanket, and carried a clubbed walking stick with strange symbols on it on his back hung a leather satchel.
“I’ve finally found you and none to soon.” as he spoke a number of creatures crept from various hiding places and surrounded him. “Look I’m just gonna take her and go, there’s no need to move, just passing through.” The creatures growled and salivated bearing razor sharp teeth, clawed hand and spiked tentacles as they closed in. “Ok fine let’s do it this way, haven’t slain a devil in a long time and believe you me, I’ve mastered the teaching to do so.” He gently laid Tea down on the floor, put his bag under her head and raised his stick. “Aight, who’s first?” The creatures came charging at him as he held his staff to the sky and from it came a blinding light. “Papa Legba open the gate so that we may pass.” the ground began to shake and the rumbling brought Tea to for a moment just long enough to see a kind and gentle face long lost but not forgotten under a black hood. Looking down he smiled at her and whispered, “I’ll be done in a minute, for now sleep little girl.” and she did.
The Geist was alone sky was jet black above his head and no moon hung from it. Illumination was produced from four lamplights at four corners of the area. Looking about himself he noticed that he was at a crossroads. Outside of the one of the fences was a withered tree. Taking stock of the area he noticed no wind blew and his own movements barely registered as sound. Geist took his hood off to reveal the red markings on his face and his pale pupils for the most part he resembled his host; his hair gravitated in different directions. His expression was set in a warriors mask whose face told the story of many lives lived and many hard choices made. Assessing the environment he finally decided he was in a vacuum or some kind of quantum singularity. Despite being a spirit Geist had only traveled through the Underland dimensions a handful of times and even though he mounted someone with a natural affinity for it he was at a loss to convey it’s myriad of complexities to his host.
“We’re in his realm.” A voice responded to his thought. Whirling around he saw no one. However he sensed the figure in the black and white suit behind him. “His, whose?” He turned to face the figure.
“Yours, The Geists.” The figure removed his cloak and the Geist found himself staring face to face with his host’s late brother Seth. He stood at 5’11 two inches taller than Marcus, his shoulders were broader and his hair was cut close. He wore the same face markings that Geist did but they were in different patterns. The Geist looked at him incredulously and for a moment Marcus broke through the composite state and became completely dominant. Tears began to well up in his eyes and his warriors mask melted into the mask of a young boy who had spent too much time away from family. “Seth?” Marcus’ trembling voice broke. “ You’re here, how?”
“This is the realm of gates little brother, those who’ve passed on are able to come and go as they please, remember?” Seth’s face-hardened. “But this isn’t the time for a reunion I need you to follow me. Seth drifted toward the north exit of the crossroads Geist stared at him for a second then followed behind. They were bathed in light as their shadows were thrown to either side of them. It seemed to envelop them, the vacuum stood around them absorbing their sounds as soon their foot falls made contact with the floor. Although this world had a different affect and it seemed that sound was replaced by memories. Every footstep he took behind Seth he memories came like little bursts in the front of his mind. The time when Marcus was five and after a nightmare was welcomed to sleep in Seth’s bed for protection, a bed which he ended up peeing in later that night. He chuckled in his mind and felt bit by bit the Geist presence being lulled into his subconscious. He recalled another time Seth and his girlfriend Ana-Lisa took him to the park and she taught Marcus how to swing by himself, he thought she was the prettiest girl in the world and knew that only his brother could have deserved someone like her. At the edges of his mind the Geists voice was whispering something to something that sounded like be prepared.. All he could remember was the good times and how they abruptly began to go sour, as he got older. The fights between Seth and their grandfather between he and Seth, Marcus didn’t know where the tension came from and wondered if he’d ever find out.
They ended up at the doorstep of a small house whose windows had shown light. Seth led him in and welcomed him to sit. It was a modest shack; there were lanterns at the corners of the room. One more gas lantern sat on a table with two chairs. Beyond that there was nothing else but a trunk, the four windows and a back door. “Before we go any further you need to know about the Black Ring Society.”
“What is that?” The Geist had now reverted back to Marcus and was now listening intently.
Seth let out deep sigh and looked into his brother’s eyes. “ They are the reason for everything our family has endured up to this point.”
“The demon that killed you, they summoned it?”
“Yes, they also killed our grandfather.”
“Where are they, who are they?” Marcus’ balled his fists causing the shadow below them to jump uncontrollably.
“Before you go out and do anything you need to know who and what you’re up against. Time is short so you’ll have to get back to the physical plane soon but when you do go to your brownstone and in the study you’ll find old notebooks stashed in the closet behind a false backing. Read the ones label 1921 and the one labeled 1979.”
Marcus stood up. “Wait I can’t leave yet there are things we need to talk about and I still need to find Tea.”
“We will talk in time little…no you’re no longer my little brother, you’re a grown man.” Seth smiled. It was the same smile he’d give when he was proud of him, or had something for Marcus. “Your woman will be fine, trust me. However there is still one matter that must be clear of before you leave.”
“What’s that?” Marcus asked just before he was flung out of the house into the vacuum.
Stepping through the hole that Marcus’ impact made Seth grimaced and threw off his cloak revealing the flowing dashiki and pants of a mage. “I need to see if you can beat me. If you can then I’ll send you home.”
“And if not.” Marcus got to his feet he fired up his aura and drew a symbol in the air, but nothing happened. “What?”
“No, the egun won’t work here. The spirit has ordained this. You’ve got to rely on your own gifts, your own magic.” Seth glared he drew a symbol in the air and was surrounded by red energy. “If can’t beat me then I will take your place and leave you here, sound fair?”
Marcus cursed himself for his constant running and dodging his heritage. However there was no way he could’ve anticipated an event like this transpiring. While he only knew a few basic spells like shielding and the blade of la place he did have one advantage that his brother didn’t his ancestral gift of shadow warping although without the spirit to enhance I he’d have no real offensives skills besides the blade. “Ok if it gets me home then I’m game.” Marcus’ shadow jumped to life around his legs and his hands were enveloped in black energy. He drew a symbol in the air and the blade of la place manifested as crackling black electricity at the edge of his fingers. Seth approached him with a speed possessed only by those beings from the House of a 1000 Eyes, he was on Marcus in an instant with a powerful wave of destructive magical energy. Marcus warped as quickly as he could, leaving behind an afterimage and the electrical discharge from the ‘blade’ which sliced at his brother to minimal effect.
“It’s very important that you do better than this, if our family is to survive.” Seth appeared behind Marcus’ point of entry and blasted him in the back causing him to fly across the void. “Then again you never wanted this, so maybe is should take if from you. I gave up a lot for this family, the woman I love left me when she found out about our lineage, I couldn’t keep my veterinary practice open and there was also that little bit about me losing my life.” Seth grinned bitterly as he approached his younger bother who struggled to get up. “The sad thing is I hate this more than you do, but it’s the only thing I’ve got to live for.” He grabbed Marcus by his black shirt and lifted him up on his feet. “I guess that’s irony huh?” Marcus felt a sharp pain in his abdomen, he was airborne then falling, falling, and falling. It all came rushing back the, arguments the anger the bitterness. It was as if Seth’s energy was charged by events that took place the year before Marcus left for college. Their voices raised inside his mind. Most of their fights revolved around Marcus’ desire to leave his family and its legacy behind. Marcus hit the ground with a dull thud but instead of struggling to get up this time he waited for Seth to get close enough to him. He walked slowly toward the fallen Marcus. “You keep reinforcing any arguments against your being sent back to the world of the living.” As Seth came upon him he was stopped in mid motion. He attempted to move his legs but couldn’t. Marcus had extended his shadow under his brother’s feet and was now holding him in place. Seth looked down at his feet then at Marcus and let out what would’ve been a long hard laugh had his voice not been absorbed by their surroundings. Seth began to sink into the shadow and in minutes was gone within it. Marcus stood up looking about himself frantically he was grabbed from behind by the throat and held up into the air. “You’re making this too easy little brother.” He slammed Marcus into the ground knocking the air out of him. Marcus’ mind went blurry. “You know Marcus it’s both sad and funny. You’re in the same position I was in around your age about to lose everything to this legacy. It’s a real shame you never got to tell Tea why you’ll never come home to her again.” Marcus’ eyes blazed and his shadow pulled him into it, he vanished in an instant and in the next ended up behind Seth. “You don’t think that will work do you?” as he extended his hands to blast Marcus his aura started to fade as it seeped from him into the hole that Marcus created. Seth looked incredulous; he’d never thought that Marcus would be able to siphon his energy. He also didn’t except Marcus to be able to use the energy he collected from his brother and attack him with the ‘blade’ this paralyzed him and he fell over soundlessly. Marcus stood above him no longer the worried or awe inspired younger brother. His eyes were twin coals in his head and his hair was floating wildly. “You know that always seems to do the trick.” As thoughts of Tea spiraled about his mind and extended from each lock of his hair.
Seth smiled this was what he was waiting for his brother had arrived. “Alright show me some shit then.” He fired up his aura illuminating the area for what would have been miles around. Seth drew a symbol in the air and a crimson pulse was projected at Marcus but it swatted aside by his shade. The shadow launched it self at Seth a clawed arm pushing through past the expanding red aura blasting its bearer back. “You know Seth, I realize that none of us wanted this.” Marcus’ voice was reverberating through the area. “ And the fact that it’s somewhat necessary not withstanding, the reason we fail at this is because we’re ready to die for this instead of being ready to live for what needs protecting.” Marcus’ voice was surprising in his own ears. He warped in front of Seth and extended a hand. “This fight is pointless and we both know it.” Seth took his hand and Marcus pulled him up. “ I’m proud of you.” Seth pulled him into a hug. “ Hurry up and get home to that woman of yours.” Seth motioned forward and in an instant Marcus’ shadow engulfed him. Seth sighed and walked back into the house and sat down. The door behind him creaked open. “He did well.” Seth didn’t turn around he closed his eyes and exhaled slowly. “Of course he did, he’s the only one of us with the sense enough to know that he shouldn’t be a martyr. Do you think it was wise to summon those things?”
Hannibal Ripley sat down next to his grandson. “It’s was a necessary thing. It’s the only way he’d actually grow.”
“And Bruce’s taking control of them?” Seth sneered.
“I knew he’d do it, he can sense his kind, it is why he is here.”
“Another necessity huh?” Seth laughed bitterly. “Well you may need to rethink what is necessary and what isn’t or you won’t have anymore heirs.”
It was Hannibal’s turn to laugh. “Do you think I hadn’t accounted for everything, Marcus will be fine.”
“And what of Tea?”
“I have someone taking care of her, she’ll be safe.” Hannibal leaned back.
“You know, it’s funny, that even after we die, we cling to the images of our bodies.” Seth looked at Hannibal. “You’d think we’d know better being higher beings and all.”
“You would think so, but then again, who said we got any higher?” The old man got up. “I think it’s time I go, have a nice afterlife grandson, it can only get better from here.”
“How would you know?” Seth grimaced. “I’ve been dead longer than you.”