I was back home. I missed it considerably, but I wasn’t here to just twiddle my thumbs. I still had much research to do.
I was back in the throne of my study, peering into a few of the texts that I had recently acquired. With Lark returned to me, I had two objects of research on the agenda: to modify Lark on my own or at least gain better understanding on keeping him restrained, and a little trick that may save us a lot of mauling from the Mythos monstrosities.
My plan was to create either a ward or a boon that would completely obscure a soul from the watching eyes of the Elder Gods and their thirsting minions. I was quite pleased at the diagrams and theories that I had laid out in front of me that I had painstakingly put together in the minimal spare time I had at the beach, but with the resources of my study and ritual space, I had a very opportune moment to expand these theories and diagrams into things of reality.
“Hey Simon? Do you see what I’ve got going on here?”
His voice trailed off from the case, his gleaming form a 9mm pistol perched at the center of my study table, as though his form had fully functional vocal chords of it’s own.
“Of course I can’t. I’m way over here. If your lazy a** would take me over there, I could give you an honest opinion,” His voice tainted with loathing and sarcasm, though my imagination gave the impression that his bile was lessening.
I walked across the room and removed him from the decorative rack he was perched onto. His voice started ringing through my head the moment I picked him up. He wasn’t jeering or intoning profanities in my ear now, rather he was telling me to point him at my head. At first, I laughed. Then I had an idea.
I steeled myself as I pointed him at my head. When I felt the chamber load, I uttered a flat, willful,“No”. I felt the gun shudder, and fall silent.
An audible sigh reverberates from the gun, and back into my head groans Lark.
You ruin the fun of hating you. You really do. You won’t destroy me because I’m so damn useful to you, and I can’t kill you because you are clearly and infuriatingly above my league. You are so competent a magician, yet you squander it by playing to a system. When will you realize that you are more than capable of running them into the ground?
“That is my business, my friend. Meanwhile, I worry about you. I hate to admit that I’ve become attached to you, not as a possession, but more like a friend. I hated you when I bound you into my favored and preferred firearm, but I’ve grown to enjoy having an ear that understands what I’m talking about.”
Touching, but I don’t care. I don’t enjoy being confined like this, and it I’ve made it painfully obvious, I hope. I want out or I want you dead and I want out. Either way, I’m sick of this. Do you have any idea how boring, not to mention DEMEANING, it is to live as a gun?
“Well do you want to make a compromise that will end in your freedom?”
Silence. Then another audible sigh. I’m listening. I can only do that obviously
“If we survive this… Whether we manage to kill off the Black Pharoah, or we fail and we both somehow still survive, I will set you free. If you do not make any other attacks on myself, my colleagues, or anyone else who means us no harm, I will set you free. If you will cooperate and stop trying to sabotage all of our actions with your literal and figurative outburts, I will set you free.”
“If you follow all of these guidelines and help us stop certain destruction, which will include you with certainly no afterlife, then freedom is yours.” I conclude.
“Do we have a deal?” I ask the very frustrated Diabolist mage trapped in my gun.
A lengthly pause. Then, finally he utters, Fine.
I immediately reply, “I want your word.”
Fine. I give you, Hunter Mcallister, my word to cooperate, not harm any of your companions nor bystanders, and aid you in the destruction of the Black Pharoah, on the grounds that I am released, with no trial or punishment. This is the most honor-bound word that I, Simon Lark, can give. He pauses. Now I want yours, Hunter.
I take a deep breath. “I, Hunter Mcallister, give you, Simon Lark, my solemn word that you will see freedom at the death of the Black Pharoah, or at the end of human civilization as we know it, whichever comes first, provided that you cooperate and spare myself, my team, and innocent bystanders any of your mischief. This is my oath of the highest caliber that I can bestow.”
Very well. Shall we get into your business?
“Yes we shall. As someone who has more than an inkling of understanding in Ritual magic, I know you will appreciate this.”
I held him up to the table and waited for a reaction. I felt the gun grow warm in my grasp, and began to hear his eerie cackling reverberate through the room.
You’ve done well. All the more reason for me to wonder why you haven’t overthrown those Black Chamber idiots yet. Restraining your creativity, or biding your time?
“Oh neither! There are stronger mages than myself by leagues and suites. I have no intention of tearing down the system, just saving the system and getting a niche of my own. Magic has been my passion from my birth to now, I would earnestly say. Leadership, authority, and all other such things are more unnecessary bi-products.”
Whatever. Just consider my words. You could tear it down. You could outstrip even myself, had I been alive long enough to come to this.
“Thank you for that compliment. I think I will get back to work. Anything I can do to give you some comfort in this state of yours?”
“Can’t. I am unable to adapt you to such a thing. Tv?”
Fine. History channel, please.
I walk him to my bedroom, shut the blinds, lay him on the pillow, and switch on the TV. I flick it to the History channel. “To your liking, my friend?”
“Good.” I manage to get out, before I start getting a good look at him. I never looked at him long enough to know how he’d changed. The wood finish on the handle of my gun, had warped into something obscene. His hatred had repeatedly scratched and burned the word “DIE” in stiff agitated letters to the point of it becoming a collage of hatred. The gun itself was looking terrifying as I had noticed that it seemed like the cross-hair and the notch at the slide had elongated into points, like horns.
“Staring?” He inquired into the air, before I could visually track anymore changes to him.
“It’s a start.”
I nod, and I leave the room, shutting the door behind me, to return to my research. If I hope to live up to my word, I had best get this right.