My world swirled around me as I tried to get my bearings.
My mind was in shambles as I tried to make sense of the twisting and shifting expanse my world had become. As the darkest black danced and dueled with the brightest white my confusion only grew.
Words seemed to etch themselves directly into my mind as I tried to remember how things came to be this way.
I couldn’t think, I couldn’t even feel really, as things were now I simply was. I existed, I knew I existed, and I think a part of me wanted to exist.
I could feel it, there was something beyond the expanse that made up my world. Knowledge, memories, a whole other world. I could feel all those things waiting for me just beyond the expanse of black and white but I didn’t know what I should do to reach them.
The thought appeared so suddenly in my mind I couldn’t even be sure it was my own.
It was so simple, how could I have not realized? All I had to do was take control of this place, I was sure that once I had the expanse would bend to my will.
Yes… I would command this place, I would make it show me the way out. I would finally reach the things beyond the expanse and then I would know who I am.
“Corrupt! Dominate! Seize! Control! Command!”
It was all so obvious to me now, this place was mine to do with as I pleased. It couldn’t keep me from what I wanted, all I ever needed to do was try. I flexed my will and I felt something shatter as my whole world writhed in a maelstrom of black and white. I couldn’t help the mad joy that surged up deep within me as I saw this place bend to my will as simply and easily as a limb.
Once again I fought down the urge that surged up inside me as I felt something brush against my power. I could feel the protections guarding its mind from me crumble easily under my rampaging power. It would be so easy to just reach out and change its thinking, my power was already corrupting it after all.
No! I tried to shake off the urge rising up in my mind. I won’t! This is wrong!
Once again I couldn’t help but see the reason in that line of thinking, why shouldn’t I play with this things mind? It was the one that chose to come to me not the other way around, so why shouldn’t it receive all the horrors I could enact upon it? Wasn’t I supposed to kill it?
NO! I practically screamed in my mind as I tried to shake off that line of thinking. I was Alon Lightsworn, a champion for all that’s good and righteous in Avalon. No, I can’t do this!
“Yes… You… Can?”
Then I shouldn’t do this… I won’t kill an innocent being for nothing more than my own pleasure! That’s SICK!
“It’s… Natural? Normal!”
Maybe the urge was right, maybe this was normal. I could feel practically every instinct I had telling me to kill whatever creature was currently holding me, but still my memories and mindset kept me from acting out on those instincts. Maybe it was time to stop fighting and just embrace… NO! Stop doing that, stop messing with my head!
I felt when the creature died, it was like a surge of energy came into me in a sensation that could only be described as consumption. This poor creature had died and I had eaten it.
I didn’t have any words to refute that, it had been natural. All it had taken was one stray thought sent to the creatures mind and it had killed itself, I hadn’t even noticed until it was already dead. I was so busy arguing with the voice in my head that I hadn’t even noticed killing something.
“Alon… Good! Kill… More!”
I felt something else brush against my rampaging power and once more the power swept past the simple creature’s mental defenses.
It would be so easy… I knew now that it would only take one stray thought to end this creatures life, but even still I held on to my old beliefs. No… No more killing…
“Too… Late! Yours… Now… You… Must… kill!”
I SAID NO! This innocent creature is not allowed to die! No, I refuse to let it die!
“Fine… Then Corrupt!”
What? I vaguely remembered something about corruption from before I became like this, it had something to do with overfilling an object with a person’s personal mana to tie it to that person. What that had to do with me and my situation I didn’t know.
“Corrupt… Dominate… Seize… Control… Command…”
The words were so familiar to me, almost like a lullaby that brought back pleasant memories. I knew that those words could never steer me wrong, they were a guideline for my life that I could always follow whenever I had doubts.
Yeah, ok… I’ll just do that… I can just do that and everything will be fine… I stopped fighting to hold back my out of control power and let the wild mana wash over the creature. I could feel when it became totally mine, I understood everything that made it up and I could see a complex pattern at the very core of its being that dictated what it was and could be. I also felt it reaching out with its small and fragile mind.
“Hungry, tired, confused, scared.”
It was young.
“Curious, hungry, scared, confused. Family? Prey? …Evil? Predator? Eat!? Kill!?”
It was as afraid of me as it was curious. It didn’t know what I was, all it knew was that I was in its home. It was adorably naïve, it would take little effort at all to turn this innocent creature into my own personal killing… No! What am I thinking!?
“Kill… With… It!”
The voice in my head was becoming more subtle, it was getting harder to distinguish my own desires from its twisted suggestions. Even still I wouldn’t let it change who I am, I was Alon Lightsworn and I would not become the twisted and evil thing the voice wanted me to be.
Tuning out the voice in my head I focused on the mind of the young creature. I couldn’t see it, I couldn’t see anything really, but I could feel it in a way that was indescribable. We now shared a bond that seemed as unbreakable as it was deep and I knew this creature as well if not better than it knew itself.
“Pain? Hurt me? Kill me? Eat me?”
“No.” I sent my reassurance. “I won’t hurt you… I want to be friends.”
“Friends? Like food?”
I almost laughed at that, although I wasn’t sure I could ever actually physically laugh anymore. No, I have to have hope! Someone will fix this, and even if I can’t Dawn will find a way! I’ll be back to my old body in no time!
“Hahahaha! Lier…” The voice’s laughter brought forth all my doubts and I had to work hard to suppress them all again.
Shut up! I shouted at the voice in my head before I turned my focus back to the young creature. “No, not food… More like family, but not exactly the same. It’s kind of hard to explain…” The young creature’s mind suddenly lit up with understanding and acceptance at my clarification.
I honestly wasn’t sure how to respond to that, but before I could even begin to think of a response the young creature made the discovery that I hoped it never would.
“Mother… Sleeping? Hungry? Hurt?”
Even without sight I could tell that the young creature was looking at its mother, at my first victim. I dreaded what I’d have to do next, but it was my responsibility. I had caused this intentional or not, and now I had to face the consequences for my actions head on. “No, she’s… She’s dead. I killed her…”
“Why?” there was no anger, no hatred, not even resentment in the young creature’s mind, just simple confusion.
“It was an accident, I didn’t mean to. Do you understand? I didn’t want to hurt your mother, I didn’t want to kill her!”
“Mother dead. Mate killed mother…” I could feel the young creature struggling to connect those two points until suddenly they clicked, and its response shocked me to my core. “Good. Mother mean…”
I could feel the voice laughing again but did my best to ignore it, I also tried not to think about why the young creature approached the death of its mother so nonchalantly. Instead I tried to focus on what I could do, and what I could feel my instincts calling for me to do. “Um, right… Would you like to be stronger and help me?”
The young creatures mind became curious once more and I could almost feel it turn to face me while tilting its head. “Stronger? Bigger? Like Mother?”
“Alon is my mate?”
I tried not to scream in frustration at the creature, it wasn’t its fault that it was so confused. I doubt it was ever supposed to be able to think at such a complex level this early in its life, so already it could be said to be doing well.
The voice whispered into my mind in a disturbingly familiar voice, a voice that I was used to listening to and obeying without question. “No, the serpent is our slave…” I tried to shake off the feeling that hearing those words spoken in Dawn’s voice brought me. “Maybe slave is too strong a word, right Alon? Minion is better. The serpent is our minion, and we are its master not its mate. Though breeding it may be an interesting thought…”
I shivered. Shut up! And stop using that voice, you’re not my sister! Turing my focus back to the young snake that was carrying me in its mouth I tried to shake off the voice and what it had said. “I’m not you’re mate, I’m you’re master… Wait, no that’s not right!”
“So Alon is my master and my mate?” The snake’s mind was rocked by confusion once again and I could vaguely feel that it had stopped moving once again.
Oh, why not? Let it think whatever makes it happy... It had taken time to convince the young snake to take me to the nearest settlement, and it had taken even longer to explain what a human or any other race of humanity actually was and where they would be. Well, I think it took a long time, I couldn’t really tell because ever since I became like this my sense of time has been skewed. “Sure… Can we go back to looking for people nests now?”
“Yes! Alon is my mate and master, and were going to find people nests! But not the bad people nests, right?”
“Yes please avoid the ‘people’ with green or red skin…”
“Skin? What is skin?”
Feeling the snake’s confusion I couldn’t help but feel my frustration beginning to rise again, for a moment blind and rampant hatred clogged my mind before I forced it back down and found calm. I was terrified by how quickly and how strongly that unnatural hatred could creep up on me, but I didn’t know how to stop it so I could only try to ignore it and force it back deep into my psyche whenever it appeared. “Um, skin is like soft scales?”
“Oh! Why didn’t Alon just say so…” The snake was immediately convinced at my words, there wasn’t even a hint of doubt in its mind and I could actually feel the framework for how it viewed skin form exactly as I had explained it.
“It still isn’t quite intelligent enough is it? That’s a shame… you’d think that after we’d poured so much mana into its pattern it would be more intelligent than this. Maybe we should find another better minion?” The voice was still using my sister’s voice, I hated it all the more for that. “Great! Keep hating me, feed that hatred and let it grow inside you! Then when the hatred has consumed all you are and you’ve lost yourself to madness we can finally become whole…”
I shivered at the truth I could feel at that statement and did the only thing I could do about the voice. Shut up! Checking once again at the snake’s pattern I saw that it was still unstable and a part of me somehow knew that if I were to infuse it with more mana it would unravel or explode killing the snake.
For now this is the best I can do… Before I could even finish my thought I felt the hatred rise up in me once again, but this time I couldn’t push it back down. What little perception I had of my surroundings faded away as I felt my conscious mind sink down into a deep haze.
“HATE! HATE EVERYTHING! HATE ALL! HATE AND SLAUGHTER!”
I could only describe the feeling as waking up. I didn’t think I was asleep and I knew a part of me was fully conscious, but as whatever bits of my mind and personality that made me who I am rose back into awareness the sensation felt as if I was simply waking up from a dreamless sleep. It was a strange and almost refreshing sensation that was only compounded by the fact that I felt… Full? Why do I feel like I just ate a large meal? The only time I’ve felt anything similar since I became like this was when… Oh no, oh please no! In a panic I reached out to try and sense the snake’s mind with more force than I had ever dared to use before.
Red. Brown. Green. I saw a forest that was littered with corpses. There had to be hundreds of little green bodies mutilated and strewn around the forest floor. Some had large puncture wounds, others had missing limbs, and worse yet some looked to be wholly intact but seemed to have passed on while frozen by unbearable pain. Through the grey tinted vision I saw the remains of a slaughter, and that was when its mind spoke to mine.
“I did, Alon! I killed them all like you wanted!” its tone was noticeably happy and there was pride coloring the feminine voice. “All those things are dead now, I made sure of it!”
I felt numb, barely any of what the snake was saying even registered to me. I knew these creatures weren’t one of the human races, they weren’t even close to being considered a part of humanity, but still seeing so many of their corpses… Mass killing like this had always bothered me, even when carried out on goblins like this the sight of it disturbed me to my very being. There was only one question that existed inside of me as I stared down in horror at the many corpses of the goblins, a question I wasn’t sure I even wanted an answer to. “Why?”
“You know why, don’t you Alon? I know you felt it, and we’re so very full now… Just accept it, this is who we are now. Who you are now…” The voice in my head whispered in that same gentle tone that Dawn had used to comfort me in the past.
“Because you said you hated them and wanted them dead? You wanted me to kill, right? So I killed them! I killed them and when I was tired or hurt you would fix me or make me stronger, and then I would kill them some more! It was fun, I liked it! Plus I’m all big now, and really strong too!” The snake was so excited but I just felt sick, a part of me wondered if goblins were the only thing that had died while I had been… sleeping.
“Oh Alon, you know the answer to that too… How could it only be goblins? There are so many things that live in forests, so many things that would be easier for a young serpent to kill and eat. How do you think it got to this size anyway? How do you think its pattern stabilized itself? Oh, and doesn’t the serpent’s pattern look different now?” As the voice spoke I could feel something worming its way into my being, like something was trying to crawl its way into my very soul.
As I checked the snake’s pattern I saw that it was much larger and seemed to have new parts compared to the last time I had seen it. I could feel that the snake had changed from a simple animal into a monster, a monster that had been infused and evolved from my own rampant mana.
I felt something bloom inside me, something dark and twisted that warmed my cold soul. It felt nice and it took away some of the pain I was feeling, it almost made this situation seem funny. I mean here I was trapped as some… thing, but I was feeling sorry for the deaths of some goblins? It was ridiculous. A joke that might be passed around the tavern for the drunkards to enjoy as they wasted away their coin and poisoned their bodies. I didn’t need to care about some goblins, all I needed to focus on was getting myself back to my normal body and finding my sister again so we could finish our holy mission and kill that bastard Serius.
Shaking off the melancholy that seemed to still be clinging to my mind I urged my serpent back to our main goal. It seemed so much easier now to guide the monster, all I had to do was send it my intent and it happily moved to carry out my will. It was so much easier than trying to talk to it and slowly explain what I wanted, now I could just send images and feelings directly into its head along with my words. “So we need to find a city, a big one would be best. There will have to be someone there who could help me…”
“Yes! I’ll find a place like that super soon! Then we can make it our nest, and…” I could feel the serpent begin to move and marveled at the fact I could now see using its own eyes, no longer was my perception limited to merely sensing living beings who happened to touch me. I could see, but I felt myself growing tired the longer I looked through the serpent’s eyes.
Well, it knows what it’s doing now… And it is also much smarter and more powerful now… Maybe just one quick nap won’t hurt… As I tried to drift off to sleep I could hear that irritating voice that constantly found ways to annoy me laughing in my mind. I hated that damn voice so much…
My memory was weird, some things were clear to me but others just… weren’t. I could remember that someone had killed my friends and family, but I couldn’t remember who that person was. I could remember that I had a sister, Dawn, and that she was the chosen hero of this age, but I didn’t know what that meant. I could remember that I was human… Well technically half human and half something else, but that still made me part of humanity and thus I was a human as well. I think the term was subhuman, but it might also be half breed since I remember being called that as well.
My memory was weird like that. It was like I only had pieces of a greater whole, but I knew exactly why that was even if I sometimes forgot. I was sacrificing memories, offering up bits of my past I didn’t need to gain more time. I’d have to do it again soon, I could already feel my rampant power receding again. I knew that this was natural, my instincts told me that it would be impossible to have my mana rampage like this forever, but still I needed more time. I couldn’t let myself lose the ability to easily corrupt and change anything I came into contact with go, not yet.
“That’s right, we still need it for the plan…” The damn annoyance was still using my sister’s voice, I hated that but I knew I could get rid of it soon. All I needed to do was take more of the mana making it up into myself, then when I’d taken it all the damn thing would starve to death and I’d be free of it forever.
Maybe if you keep quiet enough I’ll forget you’re here in my mind and I won’t kill you… It was a lie of course, I could feel the voice all the time now. It was some complex pattern of magic and emotion that had been forced onto me, it was some sort of curse if I was reading its pattern right. And there is no we, soon enough there won’t even be a you…
“Oh Alon, why do you treat me like this? After all I’ve done for you…” I felt a spike of hatred surge through me before I forcibly pushed it down. I couldn’t afford to have another episode, not when I was so close to my goal. I heard it giggle in my mind at my struggle to hold back the unnatural hatred and rage, it was only getting what it wanted when I resisted. “Heheh… Soon, we’ll be one soon…”
Or I’ll kill you soon, either way it won’t be now so shut up. I need to focus… I tuned out the mad ramblings of the voice, it seemed to have gone insane after all the mana I’d taken from the curse sustaining it. Honestly I was glad for it, for what I could remember of the last week it seemed to have been fighting me for control of my mind and I myself had been close to insanity. Now the battle was over, I had triumphed over its whispers and episodic spouts of rage and hatred… somehow. I wasn’t exactly sure how or when I began to win back control of my mind, but I did know it had something to do with my eating the mana that made up the curse. Now I ate away at the curse constantly, but never in any large quantities at once since that would send me straight into one of my episodes and give the insane curse temporary control of my mind.
“Master?” The harsh tone and the familiar mind drew me back to the present. My minion was drawing close to the city gates now and seemed to be nervous about the guards that were checking travelers. “I am to repeat your words and offer the coins, yes?”
Grey goblins, such useful creatures… So much smarter than their green or red cousins, yet still not strong or smart enough to keep out my corruption. Well, at least not while under the effects of Nalia’s venom and in direct contact with my body… It had been an interesting experiment trying to discover how my rampant mana worked and what it could do, which as things turned out wasn’t very much. I could corrupt small weak minded animals easily enough, but monsters and anything with a developed sense of self seemed to be beyond my ability to corrupt and control. That is, unless the being’s mind is in a particularly vulnerable state and I allow myself to have an episode while in direct contact with them. “Yes. Just repeat what I tell you to, hand the men the coins, don’t let them see me, and don’t touch the collar around your neck. If you do that we should be let in the city just fine…”
The goblin nodded its head which I both felt as I moved and saw as the view through its eyes bobbed. My body was still concealed in my minion’s wild hair and I hoped that the guards at the gate didn’t search the goblin too thoroughly. Normally the hatred and disgust directed to demi-human monsters was enough to discourage anyone from getting close to them even when they were slaves, and that was exactly what I was counting on in this instance.
As my minion approached the city gate a guard stepped forward and ripped off its hood. I saw through my minion’s eyes as the guard’s grizzled face warped in disgust at the sight of a collared demi-human before he even opened his mouth. “Where is your master, creature?” His voice was calm and only let through a hint of the disgust he showed in his eyes.
I began to send the words to my minions mind and loosely touched on the mind of Nalia who was concealing herself in the forest to the west. I could barely feel her mind at this distance but it should be enough to have her come rescue me if the worst should happen. I cast aside those sorts of negative thoughts and the annoying whispers in the back of my mind from the curse as my minion opened his mouth to speak my words.
“Master waiting inside. He sended me to gets shiny stones, colorful plants, and strong sticks. I gets them, so I gets fish!” I hoped that the small bag filled with forest debris and herbs hanging from the goblin’s shoulder would be enough to sell that story.
The guard looked over my minion carefully his hand never leaving the hilt of the sword sheathed at his waist. I could practically guess what he was thinking. Here was an abnormally tall grey goblin whose face actually looks normal instead of the ugly disproportional mess goblins were known for, and it seemed to know enough common to speak. In his mind my minion would either be some caster’s slave monster, or some demon trying to sneak into the city.
“Master says to give man this whens I come’n back.” My minion held out a couple of coppers to the man who looked down at the coins and shook his head slightly.
“Stay out of trouble and head straight back to your master. You bite or hump anyone and I’ll come kill you myself, no matter who the fuck your master is.”
As the guard pocketed the coins and moved to the next hopeful attempting to enter the city my minion moved forward and walked with his head down. As he walked through the city I could feel his nerves and panic subsiding. “You were right master, they let me in without a problem…”
I could practically taste how close I was to getting my old life back, though I wasn’t nearly as excited as I had once been about getting my old body back. A large part of me wouldn’t mind staying in my new stone-like form, but then I doubted Dawn would ever recognize me like this and the chances her mind’s defenses would ever be weak enough for me to communicate with her in any way were even lower. “Yes, yes… Now we just need to find the church, or maybe the mage’s association would be better?”
As my minion turned into an alley to get out of the cities bustling crowd his vision suddenly went dark and his mind became a haze of pain and confusion. Startled I pulled myself back from his mind and tried to reach out for Nalia instead, but she was too far away and I couldn’t make contact with my trusty serpent.
My world had shrunk back down to the limits of my body and all I knew was that I was stuck in my goblin’s hair until he woke up from whatever had happened to him.
“Hehehe… Good plan. No, great plan! Back with the humans you love so much, congratulations Alon! Hehehehe…” I almost gave in to the episode I could feel rising up inside me at hearing the curse’s voice again, but I snuffed the urge out and stuffed the hatred and rage back down inside me.
Not yet, but soon I’ll be rid of you… Soon…