Halloween 2022 IF,  Interactive Fiction

Halloween I.F. – “Body of Work” – Day 9

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Augustus flung himself forward, stumbling through voidspace and leaping up to wrap his arms around the demon prince Enmity’s shoulders. His mouth found Enmity’s and then they were kissing hard. Enmity’s mouth split to welcome him, too many teeth brushing his lips and a long tongue unfurling against Augustus’s. His heart ached, joy and loss and grief and power, at the feeling of his husband in his arms.

“I missed you,” Augustus gasped, breaking the kiss.

“Aw, babe, you like me,” Enmity teased, toying with a lock of Augustus’s hair. His iridescent eyes—possibly just more scales over them, Augustus had never been sure—glittered in the light from the workroom outside this space. “Thou sweet fool.”

“A fool for love,” Augustus said, smiling.

Enmity took Augustus’s hand—the one bearing his wedding ring, the mark of the pact he’d made when he promised himself to Enmity—and kissed it before releasing that hand again. “I know. Why’ve you summoned me this evening?”

“Ugh, because it’s been too long!” Augustus said dramatically, flinging his arms wide. “As we mortals determine this shit! My every thought has been consumed by your absence, and I had to dampen even those thoughts for fear of discovery! Babe.”

“Babe,” Enmity agreed, with a snort. “Well, if it’s just that—”

He pulled Augustus close again, and reality splintered around the pressure of his body, cold flames licking over Augustus’s skin, everything dissolving into pressure and heat, sharp teeth and blood, soft kisses and caresses, sensations almost as impossible to process as they were to describe. It was agony; it was ecstasy; it went on for an eon and was over in a heartbeat. He wanted to be strung out in it forever, sobbing Enmity’s name—his true name, the one scratched invisibly into the inside of his ring, into the inside of his heart—and giving as much of himself as he could until there was nothing left of him to give—

But no, it was over too soon, as always, and left him with enough of himself intact to be helplessly content, sprawled out against his husband, draped lazily against his chest. His mind came back together, and his thoughts, as Enmity returned them one at a time, grinning teasingly, toying with his very self.

“Ah, fuck,” Augustus said.

“Thou love-struck maggot, my sweet prelate,” Enmity said softly. He played with Augustus’s hair. “Is there truly nothing else going on for you right now? Tell me of your mortal concerns. Is that fool von Beekeeper still stuck up everyone’s assholes?” 

“He’d be less uptight if he were,” Augustus murmured. “I guess there are a few things that might interest you. Let me think a little more.”

It wasn’t a request for time, but to be given more of his mind back. A bit of energy rushed back into him—it was a temporary loan, Augustus knew, but would probably last him until he made it home later, where he’d sleep very deeply. “Yes?” Enmity asked.

Augustus pushed himself upright, sitting on Enmity’s thigh, and scrubbed his fingers through his hair, trying to make himself a little presentable after a thousand years of torture crammed into a few heartbeats. “Well, it’s really just a little mystery…”

He summarized his last couple of days, starting from discovering Yujin over his paperwork and what they’d said about the missing papers, covering his investigations to date, and ending with his time in the school pub, leaving nothing out. “So, as you can see, the options are still wide open. I feel like it was probably someone on campus rather than a random thief from outside it, but as of yet I don’t have any proof. And what about you? What news from beyond the veil between worlds?”

Enmity reclined back into a throne of black fire that he’d summoned at some point that Augustus couldn’t recall. “Oh, well. The usual things. Demonic scrabbling for power and attempts to gain new footholds into the planar realms, pressures from different sorts of spiritual forces to gain power over the others, etcetera, etcetera,” Enmity said. “I’m not entirely sure it’d be unrelated, actually. But listen.”

“I’m listening.”

“Thou dost, as best thou canst. I know, my good insect. Anyway, don’t forget as you do all this that you should have two priorities here. The first you should know already, of course, because it’s my proprietary interest.”

Augustus laughed, tracing a scale on Enmity’s chest with a fingertip absently, trying to memorize its texture. “I know. You want me to find the way to bring you through into our world permanently to rule it, rather than to steal a moment here and there through summoning. And historically that hasn’t worked out well for demons.”

“Because it’s an invasion, and we are intruding into a space that can perform a siege upon us,” Enmity agreed. “I think the research you’re doing into the proof that the so-called physical plane and that the spiritual plane are two halves of a whole will help. If you can cement that idea in some way, or find whatever bit of evidence makes it click, then claim at least part of it is my territory, I’ll have a ground advantage. Can’t give up on any bit that helps.”

“Mmhm.” Augustus leaned his head against that chest, which had no heart to beat in it. “I’m working on defining it. It would help if so much of our art wasn’t built up around the assumption of us-and-them. I really think investigating into what falls outside that dichotomy will help—”

“Annnd that’s the part that might be related,” Enmity said, more serious. “I’ve never forgotten about the gaps in your memory, Augustus. You summoned me to try to find out what had happened to you in your past, and I’m convinced you managed to conjure something from beyond. But I don’t know what, still. I’ve been investigating the things outside the planes, the things from beyond proper planar space, that wriggle through the gaps. And I’m limited in a way even you aren’t—demons are very bound to a plane and territory; otherwise, I wouldn’t have you working on this task for me.”

Augustus nodded, sitting up a little more and making himself pay better attention. “You’ve found something?” 

“I don’t know if it’s your thing. But I’m pretty attuned to calls from your area of your planar space, because I’m always listening for you.”

“You are?” Augustus tried to sound flattered instead of smug.

“Darling. Sure. Yeah of course.” Enmity waved a hand. “We’re bound. The point is, I think something has been calling and trying to reach that space between, and is doing so from somewhere near you, and I was looking for it so I happened to spot it. I don’t know if it’s deliberate, and I don’t know if it’s successful.”

“But it’s certainly oddly coincidental when some of my research on that non-planar space got stolen. At a time that I have been trying to do a monograph about it,” Augustus agreed.

“Yeah! You fuckin’ get me! Thou brilliant, dirt-crawling creature!”

Augustus preened. “But what do you think the call’s trying to do?”

“I think it might be trying to pull something through.” Enmity hesitated, then patted Augustus’s leg. “And I don’t know what that’d result in. But whether or not it’s related directly, I think you should track down that Soren guy. If you have a sense you know Soren but can’t remember, he might have been someone you knew during that period of fractured memory. You know I can’t access that part of your mind directly to find out what you did, because that part’s just not there, but it definitely never felt demonic. If Soren is from that time, and was involved—”

“A big if. He might have just been someone I knew around then.”

“Yeah, we’re all speculative up in this fine bitch,” Enmity agreed. “But regardless, if he’s associated at all, if you borrow something of Soren’s—or kidnap him himself, I don’t care, whatever works, though I doubt you want him seeing me—I might be able to use him to fill in some of those gaps. Like using multiple secondary sources to get a better idea of a subject that doesn’t have any primary sources. Ya dig?”

It made sense—and getting ahold of something belonging to someone he hadn’t even introduced himself to yet was, at least, a minor challenge as these things went. “I do dig.”

“I know thou dost, thou wriggling mite,” Enmity purred fondly. 

“So to summarize—if I’m understanding—someone stole my research about dichotomies of the plane, which I’m using to try to redefine the planes as one thing instead of two, and they may or may not be using it to get a better grasp of what is between the planes, and they may or may not be the same person who is trying to access the space beyond the planes, and what they’re accessing may or may not be the same thing involved in the loss of my past memories, and this may or may not in some way relate to Soren?”

“Time’s up, babe,” Enmity said, and Augustus was thrown back into reality as the rift closed.

He lay on the floor for a few moments, his extra energy gone again, sucked back into the abyss with Enmity—gone home with Em, he reminded himself automatically, now that he was here instead of there—and slowly pushed himself up.

Thankfully, the campus workrooms all had running water so that materials could be extinguished if necessary, and he managed to shakily clean himself up before he stumbled home to bed. He did not encounter anyone he knew, at least, and once he was home he stumbled into bed fully dressed and immediately passed out.

He slept in a little the next morning, but was suitably refreshed regardless when he woke. It was Twosday now, he reminded himself, which meant that his day was empty of obligations until 1pm, when his office hours started … if he even wanted to go to them.

[What should Augustus do? Comment with details.]

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  • Seth

    god i love enmity. otp

    BUT STILL, TODAY IS THE DAY TO GET (RE???)INTRODUCED TO SOREN I’M JUST SAYING. Also possibly to scope out how to kidnap him. What would your timing on that be, anyway? Is calling your husband something you have to space out to avoid magical consequences, the summonings becoming noticeable, etc.?

    Other than that — who else among the professors haven’t you combed for info? What’s Yujin’s schedule like now that it’s no longer Restday?

  • AvelineReynard

    Thou loathsome author!! The real struggle this whole story will be both the readers and Augustus fighting not to summon Em repeatedly.

    But alright: Augustus definitely has to Get Brave about Soren. Maybe try to dig up some more dirt on him first – where’d he come from, where was he before, are there rumors or inconsistencies in his paperwork or idk his references. Something that might give you a bit of direction to poke into when you start to talk to him rather than just allowing him to have the upper hand.

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