Omen the Black Rail
Legacy Name: Cowl
The Custom Sun Jollin
Age: 4 years, 2 months, 4 weeks
Born: December 7th, 2016
Adopted: 1 year, 7 months, 3 weeks ago
Adopted: July 11th, 2019
- Level: 2
- Strength: 14
- Defense: 10
- Speed: 10
- Health: 10
- HP: 10/10
- Intelligence: 56
- Books Read: 50
- Food Eaten: 0
- Job: Candy Maker
I was born to a human mother. Life was difficult for a child of an unwed mother in those days. I joined a witch's coven at 14. It was either that or join the nunnery, and the girls of the coven seemed to have more fun. My mother was too sick by that point to make a fuss about it, either way. She had tried to be pious and good her whole life, and look where that got her. She was dead before my 15th birthday.
The girls of the coven were nice and encouraging. Many of them had been doing simple spells since they were old enough to speak, but I caught on soon enough. Our High Priestess, Madame Boucher, was kind enough. She made it clear from the beginning that she was not, and would not be, our mother. But she sheltered us in a spacious old cathedral and made sure we were fed and educated.
Madame Boucher's education was a mix of reading, writing, and other essential subjects. We learned sciences like biology and astronomy, and how to improve herb and planetary magics with science. We also learned our numbers, which were surprisingly helpful in geometric magics. The magics I excelled at most were dririmancy and necromancy, not things that made me popular among people outside of the coven, but things that earned me a reputation. That reputation gained me status, wealth, and a certain notoriety in our part of the country, even as a still-learning teenager. That turned out to be a double-edged sword.
At 18 I was a full-fledged witch. My sisters at the coven wished me well as I struck out on my own. I wanted to see the world. I made money in towns organizing séances in the local pubs as I went. I would allow people to speak with their dead relatives in exchange for a small fee, and when a town made it clear I was unwelcome, I moved on. Small towns, I learned, are all the same at heart. They are made up of people living on the edge of something much bigger and scarier than they are. That knowledge can make people very small-minded.
I was in one such small town doing my usual work of raising a few dead spirits for the comfort of their living loved ones, when I was seized, thrown in jail, and then tried in court for the crime of being a witch. I couldn't even deny their accusations. A few of the townsfolk spoke on my behalf, those who had been my satisfied customers, but most seemed too afraid of the judge and the sheriff. I couldn't blame them. The judge sentenced me to be burned at the stake, and as the sheriff took me away I locked eyes with the judge and promised him that when I burned, he would burn too. He was shaken, but not deterred.
That night in my cell, my last on earth alive, I performed my most complex spell yet. I had never had the chance to perform anything close to the one I was attempting, but I remembered the words and the sigils, and I had all the blood I needed for it--my own. Madame Boucher would have been most proud.
That next day, I burned. I was roped to a stake, and the flame was set with all the town watching. I had no eyes for them, however, my eyes were only for the judge, standing in front with the best view. I got to see the look on his face when the first tendrils of smoke began to tease his nose, and the horror that set in when he realized that his flesh was burning away, just as mine was, and there was nothing he nor anyone could do to stop it. I died laughing. He died screaming.
As my soul left my body, I was joined by another. He was well-dressed in fine clothes like one might wear to a funeral, and he looked bored. He tapped his foot impatiently, as if waiting for something. "Can we go now?" he asked.
"Go where?" I asked.
"Not you, him," he said, and he gestured at the soul of the judge, who looked just as he had in life, but with a look of shock and terror frozen across his face.
The man in nice clothing snapped his fingers in front of the judge's face, and when he got no reaction he sighed. "Not another one. Look, guy, you're dead. Get over it. Time to go."
I watched as the judge slowly turned to stare at the man. "I'm...dead?" he whispered.
"As a doornail. The other side is waiting, thataway, come along." He began to guide the judge in the direction of a door that hadn't been there before. It was large, and made of wood, and it looked heavy. Like what might have been on the entrance to a church, and there were sigils carved and painted on it, some of which I recognized.
"You're taking his soul to Hell, aren't you?" I asked the man.
"If he'd move his ugly arse, yes," the man muttered, pushing the judge towards the door. It swung open without being touched, though it was merely darkness on the other side.
"Hell?" the judge asked, his eyes wide and bulging. He tried to take a step away from the door, but it seemed to be pulling him closer. The bored man swept his foot under the judge's legs and the judge fell to the ground with a shout. The judge began sliding towards the door like invisible hands were tugging at him until he was completely engulfed by the blackness beyond the threshold of the door and then when he was gone. The door shut itself and disappeared in the same instant.
"Took him long enough," the man replied, then turned to me. "What's your name, girl?"
"Anik," I replied.
"Anik. Are you sure that's a girl's name?" he asked. I noticed now he had an accent I couldn't place.
"It's my name," I said, "What's yours?"
"Adrian. How would you like to be a demon, Anik?
"Is that what you are, Adrian?"
He smiled, and he didn't look so bored anymore. "You catch on fast. I like you. No blubbering about being dead, no inane questions. Yes, I'm a demon. My job is making sure guys like him," he pointed to where the judge's soul had recently been, "get to Hell where they belong. Now it's your job, too."
"What do I need to do?" I asked.
"There's a manual," he said, and clicked his fingers. A heavy book appeared in front of me and I caught it before it hit the ground. "But, to be honest, I've never read it. Really, all you need to do is go where they tell you, and summon the door. The door does the rest. Sometimes a soul will be reluctant to go, but the challenge can be fun. You'll learn."
"How do I summon the door?"
"Same way you summon anything. Same way you travel, now, too. That's a particularly convenient benefit of being dead. You aren't confined to a body anymore, so you can go anywhere you like simply by pulling yourself there. It's kind of like skipping a stone on a lake. The lake is the Earth, and you are the stone." Adrian laughed. "Or some nonsense like that, honestly it's been a while since I've had the mentor gig."
I hefted the manual Adrian had given me. "Is that all in here?"
He nodded. "And more, I imagine. But most of it is in Latin. Guess we have the Romans to thank for that."
"I can read Latin," I said, already itching to read the book cover to cover. I was never one to read for fun, but reading to learn, that had been drilled into me from a very young age by Madame Boucher. I wondered briefly what she would think if she could see me now. "Can I visit people?" I asked.
"Living or dead?" Adrian replied.
"The living, sure. You may get a slap on the wrist from downstairs if you're too loud about it, but demons have been popping in on unsuspecting humans since the first demons were made. Just keep the fuss to a minimum and you're golden."
"And what about the dead?"
Adrian tapped a finger to his lips in a thoughtful gesture. "Eh, you can talk to them. Requires a bit of magic, of course."
"I know the spells," I said quickly.
"Right. Witch. Comes in handy. Well, there you have your answer. You hold a séance, or whatever, and their soul can speak to you from beyond the grave."
"They require blood, most of them."
Adrian shrugged his shoulders. "Then possess a human and take theirs. Of course, it'd be demon blood, with you inside them. Changes the properties a little. Way more potent. I've never really gotten into much magic myself. The whole Latin thing, for one, is a bit of a turn off."
"I've heard of demonic possession, but I've never seen it myself. I half wondered if that was made up," I mused.
"Most of the possessions you read about were made up. Like I said, the bigger waves you make, the more likely someone from Hell is going to hear about it, and get angry, and take it out on you. It's a whole thing. Best to keep them happy. Or whatever the Hell equivalent of happy is."
I nodded. It was a lot to take in, but I was getting the idea. "Can we visit Hell?"
Adrian did the lip tapping gesture again. "No. At least, I don't think so. You can try to enter the door but you'll just walk right through it. I've tried. I assume we're better off up here anyway."
"So we're stuck here."
"Stuck?" Adrian spun in a circle, holding a hand out to say look at all this. "You can go anywhere on Earth. I wouldn't call that stuck."
I opened the manual and began to skim the first page. Adrian gave me enough information to start, but now I needed to find things out on my own. He seemed to sense that our conversation was complete for now and gave me a short bow.
"I'll see you around, Anik. Summon me if you need me, but something tells me you won't." I glanced up in time to see him wink at me, and then he was gone, as if between blinks. I sat where I was, not far from where my body had burned to death maybe half an hour ago, and began to read.
The job was easier than I expected it to be in some ways, and harder in others. Mastering getting around as a demon, traveling vast distances in less than a second, possessing people, using magic with demon blood--all of that came almost naturally. The hard part was the constant stream of souls that needed to be shuffled off to Hell.
I could see now how someone like Adrian could get jaded, doing this for very long. Some people begged, some people tried to bargain, most wept like children. You'd have to feel nothing not to let it get to you every once in a while. I got away when I could. I traveled. I visited my old mentor, Madame Boucher. She grinned like a fox when I revealed myself to her, like she had been expecting me.
"Always knew you'd make something of yourself, girl," she said to me, "You were one of my most promising students. I hoped you wouldn't let a pesky thing like death stop you."
I tried not to show it, but her approval helped me keep going when things were dark.
It was another one of those dark times, when I got one more soul assignment, this one for a child. It was rare that children ended up on my scrolls. I didn't know if that was because their souls were assumed good until proven evil, or something like that. I didn't know what happened to the good kids. I only dealt with the rotten ones.
Matthew Willis, age 4 the scroll read. There was a list of his deeds in life, about half of which were good, and about half of which were bad. I wondered which one it had been to tip the scales in Hell's favor, but reading the list, I couldn't tell.
Young Matthew had just passed in his home in England, of fever. That was common enough. I pulled myself to his bedroom.
It was a small room, with a young woman grieving at the bedside of the boy, presumably Matthew. Matthew's soul was standing to the side, staring at the scene in confusion.
"Hello, Matthew," I said to get his attention.
He looked at me with large eyes. "Why am I there?" he asked, pointing to the bed.
"You died. Tough luck." I knew I was being callous. I was often callous these days. It made what I had to do more bearable.
"So I'm a ghost now?" Matthew asked. He looked about ready to cry, which I was not in the mood for today.
"Sort of. Sure, we'll go with that," I said and pulled the door to Hell into the room with us. It opened ominously to receive Matthew's soul.
"What's that?" he asked.
"That's where you have to go, now. Come along." I gestured him towards the door.
"Wait!" a voice shouted. Both Matthew and I turned to look.
Behind me stood another soul, glowing slightly in the darkened room. She looked to be about my age, or at least the age I had been appearing permanently since I died.
"You can't have him, demon, he belongs to Heaven!" she said loudly. A white light, brighter than the glow the newcomer was emitting already pierced the darkness of the room and shown from the corner opposite the door to Hell. The door seemed to swallow the light, sucking it away into blackness beyond its threshold.
So, there was a Heaven. I had wondered, but now I had my proof. That wouldn't stop me from doing my job, however. "He doesn't belong to Heaven, I've got a scroll with his name on it, right here," I said. I summoned the scroll and held it out to her.
She paused, confused. "But, I have a scroll too..." she said in a softer voice. She held out a scroll almost identical to mine. Both had Matthew Willis, age 4 written across the top. I examined them both, looking for any discrepancies, but the text matched word for word.
"Huh," I said. "Well what do we do, then?" I asked her.
"Well, I mean, he's just a child. How bad could he possibly be? Surely not bad enough to condemn him to Hell?" she said.
I shrugged. "I've seen some terrors in my day. And I've got a quota to meet. I feel for the kid, sure, but I have to send his soul to Hell if it shows up on a scroll. That's my job."
"And my job is to send souls to Heaven when they show up on one of my scrolls," she protested, "Besides, where do you think he'd rather go? Into the light or into the dark?"
"Can I just stay here, please?" Matthew's small voice piped up.
"No!" we both replied at once.
Matthew's lower lip started quivering. "Oh great, now you've made him cry," I groaned.
"I made him cry? Excuse you, you're the one trying to send his soul to Hell forever," she snapped back. Matthew started to wail in earnest. She immediately seemed to realize her mistake, and began to stroke his head. "But I'm not going to let that happen, baby, I'm sorry," she cooed at him.
I sighed. "Well, we need to figure something out that doesn't get either one of us in trouble. How about I send the door away and you do away with that bright light thing? It's giving me a headache."
She looked at me and stuck out her lip. For a moment I thought she was going to refuse, but then the light was gone, leaving us with just her soft glow and the dim light from outside to see by. I closed the door and sent it back to Hell. The door seemed very miffed at this, and I wondered not for the first time if the door had a soul.
"Thank you," I said.
Matthew had quieted down a bit in her arms, but he was still hiccuping miserably. "We'll figure this out, Matthew," she said, kissing his forehead, "Just let the adults talk a bit, okay?"
Matthew nodded, and she looked at me. "Meet me outside?" she asked.
I nodded, and in a blink we were both outside on the street. Dusk was falling fast, and the fading light did no favors for the ramshackle house we'd just left.
She spoke first. "I suppose we got off on the wrong foot. I assumed you'd be, ah, different."
"More demonic?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Something like that." She looked bashful. She was rather cute, now that I could get a proper look at her.
"I used to be just like that kid in there," I said, "human, scared, not sure where my next meal would come from. If I had gone at a younger age I would have ended up right through that door. And I'm not so sure it would have been my fault."
"If I'm being honest with myself, I can relate," she said with a sigh. "My name is Faith, by the way."
I smiled. "Fitting."
She smiled back. "I know. And I won't give you the cheesy line about how my mother named me after the only thing she had."
I laughed. It had been a long time since I'd done that. "You kind of just did, Faith."
"I can't help it. Some things just stick." She shrugged in a way that suggested wings.
"My name is Anik," I reached out my hand and Faith shook it.
"It's strangely good to meet you, Anik."
I looked back at the house. It was too distracting to look Faith in the eye all of the sudden. "So, you're an angel?"
"Half angel. On my father's side. My mother always said he was an angel but I didn't know she was being literal until after I died."
"And you're stuck here doing the same stupid job as I am."
"Yes." I could feel her looking at me intensely. "I can't go to Heaven. I'm an abomination. I shouldn't exist, or something. An angel named Kiel explained it to me. He wasn't very nice."
"The demon who showed me the ropes was pretty cool. Sorry your mentor was a jerk."
"I guess the whole Heaven and Hell thing isn't all it cracked up to be."
"Amen, sister." I grinned at her and she grinned back.
"So," she began, looking back at the house, "What do we do about that kid?"
I followed her gaze. The sun had slipped completely past the horizon, but I could still make out the window where we had left the boy, Matthew. "It doesn't feel right to drag him to Hell after all this," I admitted.
Faith nodded. "I want to believe that his soul belongs in Heaven, but seeing his name on that scroll has made me question some things I never thought I'd question. I don't know if he belongs there for sure."
"So we're back to the question of what do we do?"
Faith bit her lip. I could see it out of the corner of my eye, thanks to her faint glow. "This may sound crazy, but, what if we keep him? Just for a while, until we know for sure where his soul belongs, Heaven or Hell?"
I looked at her like she was mad. She was mad. She had to be. "You're mad," I told her, "Absolutely insane. We can't keep a kid."
"It's just his soul! Just for a little while! Heaven and Hell don't need to know. They don't run on linear time like we do, they probably won't even notice."
I groaned. I hated the idea. I wanted to reject it completely, but I had no better idea to suggest in its place. "You seriously want to do this?"
She nodded and grabbed my hands in hers. She felt warm and soft to the touch, which was exactly what I hoped, not that I had been thinking about it. "Please?"
I took a deep breath before responding. I technically didn't need the oxygen anymore, but the gesture was still calming. "Just, let me make sure I get this right. You want to run away with a child's soul, hang out with it, decide if it's good or bad, and then send it on its way accordingly?"
"It does sound a little mad when you put it like that, but generally, yes."
"Well," I said, pulling us back into the house, "Let's do this."
A History of Necromancy
Mixed Blessing Potion
Spiced Gooey Candy Reaper
Severed Goat Head
From Death to Life
Iron Special Coin
Spilled Ritual Ink
Magical Rubber Nightmare Mallarchy
Book of Dririmancy
I See You Sticker
Darkest Blood Magick
Ghostly Costume Scythe
Brown Twine Corn Husk Doll
Plastic Skull Prop
Gourd Witch Dripping Candles
Demons of Autumn
Death Mage Amulet