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Today’s episode is a continuation of POSSESSION.
Marcel lunged and rolled, fleeing Emily’s spear and the mandalic trap she had used to keep him immobile. He worried that disturbing the carefully arranged bits of salvage and gore would call up a curse or a magic, but movement was simply a matter of survival.
The spear ate into the volcanic earth and Emily howled in frustration. Her nostrils flared, her eyes black and inhuman as she turned to Marcel, preparing her next attack. Her body moved with unnatural convulsions, her eyes shifting from side to side as if searching until they focused upon the web of debris surrounding her machine.
Marcel watched in terror as the young woman began to shake, pounding her ears with her fists violently. Her eyes came into focus and he understood that Emily was fighting for control within the confines of her fragile mind. A trail of blood ran from her ear and she fell, wailing, to her knees.
Half naked she crawled, whispering unintelligible phrases, overwhelmed by the compulsion to repair the pattern on the ground.
Marcel understood that he was being presented with what would likely be his only opportunity to contain her. With exceptional caution he rose to his feet. Any sudden movement might call her attention away from the pattern of geometric designs that so obsessed her. Any shift in her awareness would allow Kronos the opportunity to seize her mind once more.
Marcel knew that he had none of the artifacts that were prescribed for a separation ceremony, but he had to believe that containing the beast would be enough until he was able to transport Emily back to Meiville for proper healing.
Restraining her would be the most challenging part of the process and to lose control for even a moment would seal both of their fates. Kronos would be tremendously powerful in the moment needed to extract him from Emily’s mind. Marcel could see that Kronos’ hold on Emily was firm, but banishing him was the only way for Emily to survive.
On the stagnant air of the volcanic cave Marcel drew the first rune. In a voice barely audible he recited the words that he had learned in his time on Lys. Words that could pull a demon from the mind of the possessed and cast it back into the void.
Emily crawled half naked upon the ground mumbling, arranging her pieces. The gauze like bandages that she wore hung from her emaciated flesh like tattered and forgotten flags of truce. When Marcel’s words and the symbols called her attention she became completely still and erect. Her neck twisted unnaturally toward Marcel, her eyes black and soulless. The blood that had run from her injured ear had run over her face, coloring her lips and teeth with a deep and ghoulish red. Emily snarled.
Marcel raised his voice, becoming confident and commanding as he continued his chant. Seizing his opportunity he threw himself over the girl, pinning her to the warm ashen ground. She thrashed and fought, calling out words in unknown languages, spitting and gnashing her bloody teeth. With one hand he held her face tightly against the earth, still speaking the powerful words that would release, or kill, them both.
Within the recesses of Emily’s mind, Marcel could feel Kronos writhing like a tiny white maggot grown fat from feasting upon the young woman’s pain. Marcel closed his eyes, delivering the incantation that would contain the beast within her. Through his sorcery he connected with Emily’s heart and the pain of her experiences moved through his body in great waves of understanding.
She was a tiny, innocent child looking for a mouse in his store. She had scrubbed pink cheeks and ginger curls. She was a little girl being fed dreams of glory and a machine that would allow her to travel into her very imagination. She was a teenager, possessed by the need to build and it frightened her. She tried to abandon the machine but would wake finding that she had whole days and weeks of time that she could not account for, all of them spent in construction. She understood that something unnatural was driving her, but she didn’t know who to talk to. She feared for her sanity. She feared the safety of her loved ones. So much fear for someone so young who felt so alone.
Marcel could feel her years of isolation and confusion. He could hear Kronos’ voice in her head telling her that she was ugly, that people didn’t like her, and that people she loved were against her. His voice pushed her to steal, to lie, to use her body to manipulate people in ways that she didn’t understand and that hurt her.
He watched through Emily’s eyes as Amos walked away from her and he felt her overwhelming sadness and desperation. Marcel knew that it was this moment that Emily had lost her hope. She had given up on herself and the beast had won the ability to control her fully.
Kronos had guided Emily to steal the key to the Elderwood Door and forced her to watch in horror as Alexi Carton was torn apart before her eyes. Marcel observed as Kronos used the life force of that young man to fuel Emily’s machine across dimensions and into Lys. Once Kronos had used the girl for all of his ends and means, He had torn away piece of the heart of TriAnna and used it to cast Emily and her machine to the far end of time.
Here on the Oehn Sea, she had succumbed to madness and waited to die alone. The giant web of debris surrounding her machine had been created to preserve her memory. It was her broken life, placed into some strange order, like an explanation for all that she felt she had done.
She had never attempted to leave this place of exile, she had wished to die here so that others would be safe, and as a punishment for her life.
Marcel saw and felt all of these things as he worked to drive Kronos from Emily’s mind. The pain within him was crushing. Emily had been family to him, and yet he had never known her torment. He had never been aware of all that she was suffering, he did not know that she had needed his help.
She screamed as he restrained her, her wrathful fury melting into the sobs of a child, begging him with a soft, sweet voice not to hurt her. She pleaded with him for help. Everything inside of Marcel was overwhelmed with grief. He wanted to hold this little girl and tell her that it would be okay, to be a father, to keep her safe and to make all of the hurts of her brief and tragic life disappear. Tears welled in his eyes as he chanted and for an instant Marcel allowed himself to loosen his grip, overcome with the love he felt for Emily.
That instant was all Kronos needed.
Emily began to laugh, a deep and sinister chortle, mocking Marcel’s emotion as she threw herself with superhuman strength on top of Marcel. Her hands wrapped around his throat, her fingers tearing into the tender flesh of his neck. His windpipe was being crushed, the words of the incantation died in his throat as he struggled for air.
His hands grabbed at the ground, searching for anything he might use to defend himself. He knew that any injury that he might cause to Kronos would be an injury to Emily, but there was no choice. If he were to die, Emily would die with him. He groped blindly through the fragments of rubbish that Emily had patterned on the ground, until his hands fell upon a sharp piece of metal. The shard cut into his hands as he thrust it deep into her shoulder, he felt the blade tear into her muscle and sinew as blood rushed from the wound.
Emily screamed in fury and Marcel, barely able to breath and choking for his own life, rolled on top of the possessed young woman. He held her arms down with his knees as he straddled her chest, forcing her head once more against the earth. With their combined blood, Marcel drew a rune of banishment upon her lips and another upon her forehead. His voice was barely a high pitched whistle as he chanted, his lungs creaming for air they could not pull.
At last, Marcel felt the beast within Emily’s mind grow silent, contained by the magic he could only hope would be strong enough to get the young woman home, where she could be healed.
Side by side they lay, injured and exhausted in the dust and debris of the cave. As Marcel panted and coughed he could hear the soft weeping of Emily DeLuna, who rocked herself as she bled, repeating one heartbreaking word, over and over.