Chapter 8:

Names (2)

There's a Demon in my Basement!

Knowing the name of a person grants you power over their soul. In most cases, people weren't able to utilize this. To be more specific it was highly dependent on what kind of creature one would talk about. Was it two humans introducing themselves to one another? That wasn't a dire situation. Yet, demons and humans weren’t the same. They were already bound by a contract that benefited the human - which it had to, otherwise, the demon's power would be too much, as currently proven by Snow. Even though he still had to understand why exactly the demon was attacking Astaroth. Was that normal amongst demons? It surely seemed that way.Bookmark here

B adjusted his glasses. Somehow they had to get out of this fight and leave Snow and that other demon be. What those two did afterwards he couldn't care less.Bookmark here

Frantically one thought was pushing the other out of his head. He had to come up with a plan. It was clear that the advantage Astaroth had in regards to size and strength was matched by their opponent’s speed and number. However, there just had to be a weakness. Maybe the individual cats were weaker? How did the demon even coordinate all of their bodies? Could they recreate them infinitely? How was this demon even a match for Astaroth?! Bookmark here

His gaze wandered back to the cats and their wings. The amount of mobility it offered them was truly a nuisance.Bookmark here

"Snow", he said after staying silent for a while.Bookmark here

"Y-yes?" Bookmark here

"What are you capable of? Surely, you must be able to use magic." He needed her for this since he was sure his magic alone wouldn't be strong enough. Bookmark here

She hesitated a little bit. "I… am not certain. I am aware that I am able to utilize magic, but…" She trailed off while averting her gaze. Bookmark here

Normally he would question how she couldn't know but he had other concerns right now. "Can you set free your Mana?" Bookmark here

"Yes!" She seemed motivated as she stepped to the side to dodge one of the cat demons getting thrown her way. “It is possible for me to do so!" Bookmark here

The demon hit the ground behind her and dissolved into thin black mist. Bookmark here

"Great." B adjusted his stance to feel more stable. "Put your hand on my back and let it all flow into me. On my cue." Bookmark here

"Okay!" She nodded and did as she was told. At least her blind trust had some positive aspects to it. Even though she should definitely get rid of that in the long run. Bookmark here

B closed his eyes. It wasn't a complicated spell - actually a pretty simple one you would teach a complete beginner. However, he needed it to be extremely strong. Mentally he could feel the elements around him pulse - the water flowing through himself, Snow and so many lives on the earth. The earth itself beneath his feet and small fires in the distance. And finally the air around them. He grasped it like a snake would catch its prey.Bookmark here

It was only logical: If your enemy relied on their mobility you should try and take that away. And in this case, they were flying.Bookmark here

His eyes flew open and before he knew it his mouth had already moved. "Now!"Bookmark here

Snow didn't hesitate a second. Immediately he could feel the energy she pumped into him. As if someone had just tried to catch a waterfall with a bucket B instantly felt like he was about to overflow. No. He didn't just feel like it. He actually was about to fall apart. It was just too much. If he had been able to he probably would have thrown up - but he couldn't move a muscle. Otherwise, his body would break. Again he feels for the air around him, which was the only element he would have been able to localize anyway. And so he redirected the mana his body couldn't take towards it. Instinctively he collected it, concentrating it in one spot, automatically creating a vacuum in others. It only took him a few split seconds to let go of it again, creating an enormous blow in the process. Bookmark here

B wished he could see whether or not his plan had succeeded. But moving his head would have been too hard of a task so he was left with one option. Praying. He wasn't one to do so but it seemed that a dire situation like this would get even him desperate enough to do so. Bookmark here

For how long did he stand there like this? He didn't know. It could have been a few seconds or a few years. Time wasn't real anymore. Bookmark here

The end came abruptly. Distantly B realized Snow removed her hands. Still, in a daze, his knees refused to hold up his weight and just gave in. Snow caught him, he saw that. But he didn't quite feel it. Any physical sensation seemed to be far away and not quite one he actually felt himself. As if someone had wrapped up his entire body in cotton and then just left it. He was on the brink of unconsciousness. He knew it. Still, he couldn't help himself and just uttered the question that had been on his mind for quite a while now. "What are you?"Bookmark here

He wasn’t sure whether he actually spoke it out loud. Maybe he just imagined doing so. If Snow gave an answer, he wouldn't have heard it. Instead, he just fell into the sweet darkness that was called sleep. Bookmark here

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"B!" Out of reflex she caught the teen and stopped pumping him full of her magic. Was that a normal human thing to do? She couldn't tell for sure but given the fact that she had never witnessed something like this before she went with a no for an answer. Bookmark here

Looking for help, her eyes instantly wandered up to the sky where the demons were still fighting each other - however, the tides had turned. Only one cat-demon had managed to withstand the wind B had summoned earlier and they didn't seem to be in a good condition. They wobbled up and down in the air, seemingly using all their energy to keep themself up. Bookmark here

For Astaroth, this was an easy target. As if they were squishing an insect their hand grabbed the demon out of the air and brought them down to the ground. The demon's claws pierced the ground, around the cat. Once that was done they changed the form of their hand and added interdigital webbing between their fingers leaving effectively only one exit. Afterwards, the demon changed their form again. Most of their taller version disappeared, only the hand stayed in its place, although it was now detached from their body. Naturally, Astaroth was now missing their left hand in their human form. Bookmark here

They looked over to B and Snow, before noticing the cat trying to leave their cage. Furiously Astaroth growled in a way that didn't fit the humanoid features. Yet, the meaning was clear: “Stay.” It was enough for the other demon to retreat with a small whimper. Bookmark here

For Astaroth this was sufficient. So they ran up to their summoner. "Is he alright?!" Bookmark here

Snow looked at them. "I-... I do not know."Bookmark here

"Go over to your demon. Get them under control." Without a further explanation, they grabbed B and pulled him over to themself. It wasn't an easy task with one hand but they eventually managed to place the human’s head on their lap. .Bookmark here

Hastily she nodded before running over to the other entity. Astaroth glanced shortly at her before focusing on B. His breath wasn't steady, his heartbeat irregular and his temperature too high. The demon knew that humans were more fragile than most other creatures. But they had no idea how fragile exactly. Was this enough to kill him? It couldn't be, right? A cold shudder ran down Astaroth's spine at that thought. For a short moment, the world itself seemed to freeze while a nauseous feeling was spreading inside of him. Tears were springing to their eyes, just waiting to be shed. A familiar feeling. They couldn't remember feeling like this ever before. However, their emotional state was something to be analyzed later - for now they had to focus on B. Bookmark here

"Don't die on me," Astaroth mumbled even though they were well aware of the fact that the human had little choice in that matter.Bookmark here

The problem was easy to identify - a surplus of Mana that wasn't his own, giving his body more energy than it could handle. Thus, the fever. Bookmark here

Astaroth took a deep breath. Fixing this wasn't hard. At least normally it wouldn't. But their hand was shaking and seeing clearly was no simple task when tears were starting to blur your view. If they failed, B would-...Bookmark here

Just like so many others… Where did that thought come from? It wasn't a lie they knew that. They had never seen anyone die. Everyone they ever associated with had been immortal after all. The destruction around them was also so familiar. They had seen that before when-... Nobody died. Nobody had ever been killed by Astaroth's hands.Bookmark here

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Astaroth felt incredibly tired. Yet, they woke up instead of staying asleep, despite their best wishes.Bookmark here

"Hey, kiddo." A gentle voice greeted them. It was too familiar. Bookmark here

Instantly their tiredness was washed away. They sat up straight as a board, their angry gaze meeting the man sitting next to their bed. Or at least the entity looked like a man. Astaroth knew better than to go by looks. Or his faked friendliness. Maybe he seemed harmless with that suit and the cane he was leaning on. But he wasn't. Bookmark here

Before Astaroth realized what they were doing they already sprung up from the bed they were lying on and closed their hands around the man's throat. "This is all your fault!" They screamed like a banshee. Bookmark here

The man fell over together with his chair desperately clawing at the hands around his neck. Bookmark here

"All your fault, all your fault, all your fault…" Over and over they repeated those words while their grip on the other throat only got tighter and tighter. They didn't take in their surroundings - right now all they could do was zeroing in on the victim of their attack. It's your fault, I'm here! I wanna go home, go home, go home, go-Bookmark here

Sharp pain on their cheek ended Astaroth's craze. Disorientated they loosened their grip on their victim. Once they looked down again the man in the suit was gone - probably had never been there to begin with. They let go instantly once they realized it had been Snow whom they just tried to strangle. Bookmark here

"Astaroth, what the hell?!" B pulled them off the girl. Bookmark here

Only now did they realize one of their hands was missing. Didn't they have two just a few seconds ago? They stared at B for a few seconds before remembering what had happened. "You're alive!" Without further hesitation, they threw their single arm around the human and hugged him tightly, while Snow beneath him tried to catch her breath between all the coughs. Bookmark here

"Yes, I am, you Idiot, so no reason to attack Snow!" Angrily B shoved the demon away from himself. "Get off her." Bookmark here

"Oh, I- right. No reason to attack her." They jumped up. Because that's why they did it - they thought B died due to the demon she had summoned. There was no other reason. "Sorry…" They mumbled while holding out their hand to Snow.Bookmark here

"It's… fine," she said, still out of breath, "I just… it was kinda… my bad…" She took Astaroth's hand and got up slowly.Bookmark here

B just rolled his eyes. "Yeah. It was." He looked towards the stairs. It was only now that Astaroth realized they were back in B's basement. That and the fact that they weren't alone. A fourth person was leaning against the wall next to the stairs, watching the scene displaying in front of them. Bookmark here

Astaroth recognized them. The demon he had fought. However, they had taken on a humanoid form. A male teenager with a muscular build as they showed pretty obviously by wearing an open vest. Hiding skin didn't seem to be one of their priorities as they also only wore short trousers. More interestingly however were the cat ears peeking out between the spiky red hair.Bookmark here

Since the other demon didn't show any hostilities towards them Astaroth didn't see a reason to attack them for now. "Did you calm down?" they asked instead. Bookmark here

The other demon raised an eyebrow. "Did I calm down? You're the one who screamed bloody murder when their husband lost consciousness and then attacked Snow upon waking up."Bookmark here

"Uh…" Astaroth looked at B in search of an explanation. Bookmark here

"I was unconscious. Don't ask me." The human shrugged. Bookmark here

Snow sat down on the makeshift bed. "Well, I am not quite sure myself but… after I ran up to Drake-" She nodded in the demon's direction. "-You just… started screaming and then just-" She held up her hand vertically, Before moving it into a horizontal position. "Fell to the side. Drake took care of B and you… Well… We did not know what was happening or how to help you so…" Averting her gaze she seemed to look for an apology. “We just brought you here.”Bookmark here

“Oh. I see. Sorry, I didn’t mean to worry you.” They looked at Drake. “Are you… okay now?”Bookmark here

The demon just shrugged. “We fought it out, didn’t we?”Bookmark here

With a sheepish smile, Astaroth scratched the back of their head. “Yeah. We did.” Normally a battle like that would have ended with one of them being at least immobilized for quite some time. Bookmark here

“So please don’t repeat any of that,” B commented with a slight annoyance in his voice, looking at Astaroth first, then at Drake. Bookmark here

“Uh, sure”, Astaroth agreed while looking around, “Where’s my hand?”Bookmark here

Drake shrugged. “Exactly where you left it.”Bookmark here

“Oh…” The other entity lowered their gaze. “Right…” Bookmark here

“You can walk, right?” B shrugged. “Come on, let’s get your stuff. And stop leaving it everywhere. I swear to any God in existence that if we have to do one more detour because you forgot something again, I will send you back to where you came from.”Bookmark here

Astaroth winced lightly. “Wait, you can do that?”

“I’m positive that I will find a way if it’s necessary.” He rolled his eyes at the shocked expression on their face. “Don’t worry, I won’t. Just keep your things together.”Bookmark here

Real Aire
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