The orb slips through his fingers and falls slowly, inevitably to shatter into shimmering silver shards scattered across the black and white marble floor.
Simon snaps out of the trance.
Loreley is asking questions again.
“Is it here? Why did you shush me? Look, you can’t just-”
Simon looks at her and psychically tries to communicate the life and death need for silence right now.
He rolls his eyes and casts a bubble around them and takes it outside of time.
“Loreley! Listen. You know how you can tell when a spirit is in a room?”
“Well, you can start by using your human senses.”
Loreley feels a warmth tingle through her body, her senses dilate. She notices the room they’re in for the first time.
Wide-eyed she looks around the room. It’s old and filthy. A thick layer of dust covers the abandoned books, the unmade bed is in a state of decay, the dingy walls smudged with abstract patterns of unknown origin.
And the smell- the air is thick, musty, unwholesome. She gags a little bit on a decaying animal musk.
She becomes aware of a low-pitched droning sound, like the muffled humming of legions of flies….
Sweat starts to trickle down Simon’s face.
He puts his finger to his lips.
“Stay focused. You’re looking for an old book. You’ll know it when you see it.”
“But how will I-?”
The bubble around them collapses back into the time stream.
Something large, grotesque, and black scutters across the floor and through the wall.
“Yes, it’s real,” he whispers telepathically in her mind before she can speak, holding a talisman in his right hand inside his trench coat pocket.
He walks over to the bookshelf, blows a cloud of dust off some decaying old volumes.
“For Christ sakes, this is-”
He turns around and sees a massive black blob with a crown of gold and shining gems sitting on a mishappen throne in a hyperdimensional vortex, simultaneously in the room and in a very different kind of space altogether.
The blob is holding a large, ancient flesh-bound grimoire in its slimy appendages.
“I-I think I found the book-”
“Holy Jesus fuck me-”
The thing looks up from the book with its cluster of eyes.
It makes a deep rumbling sound which somehow turns meaningful in Simon’s mind.
“Is this the sacrifice you offer for this treasure?”
“Sacrifice? Simon? Sacrifice?”
“Loreley! Calm your tits or I swear to gods I will!”
The rumbling resembles laughter. Shadowy, creepy, repulsive things clatter and ooze from the woodwork and gather in a circle around them.
“I need that book.”
“Do you think I care about your needs? Let’s talk about what I need. I need energy. A lot of energy. The sweet, sweet energy of soul suffering. What are you prepared to give me, magician?”
Simon says “I’ll give you the totality of the world soul of this earth for that book.”
“That’s a big promise, even for a semi-immortal flesh tube of your … reputation, Doctor. What collateral do you offer?”
“Hahahahaha. Not yours to bargain with anymore, is it?”
“Offer him your immortal soul.”
“That sounds like a very bad idea”
“Come on. You’re not superstitious, are you? Souls aren’t even real. Besides, trust me. I have a plan.”
The circle of light around them starts flickering.
Sweat pours down Simon’s face.
The creatures start clacking, croaking and chirping hungrily.
“Loreley! Do it!”
“Ohhhh! Ok! I hope you know what you’re doing Sempai!”
The thing turns its cold piercing eyes towards her.
“If he doesn’t deliver, you can have my soul.”
“Your immortal soul, forever and ever, so help you, gods?”
The maddening chattering of the creatures rises to a crescendo.
“Yes! Yes!” She starts sobbing.
The darkness fades.
Loreley shakes her head.
Simon blows on the bindings of some old books on a sagging bookshelf. A cloud of nasty dust blows back in his face. He has a coughing fit.
“I think I found it!”
Simon turns and looks at where she is pointing.
A massive skin bound grimoire is lying in a beam of light on a pile of debris in the middle of the room.
“Well right on. Good job, sis.”
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