Halloween 2022 IF

  • Halloween 2022 IF,  Interactive Fiction

    Halloween I.F. – “Body of Work” – Day 32

    [As a reminder, the story will run for a few days more.
    Please read the instruction post before commenting.]

    “You know what?” Augustus said, “Why lie?” There were certainly parts of the truth he could share with Yujin, and it felt like it might make things a little fairer between them, given that Yujin had been forced to share a ruinous secret with him.

    Emmet’s brows rose. “You’re certainly changing.”

    “Am I?” Augustus asked, surprised. “I don’t think I’ve changed at all.” He cleared his congested throat disgustingly. “My darling, can you get some tea and food together for us? Soren and I haven’t had anything for a day now.”

    “And delay your child for you a little longer. Sure, why not?” Emmet sighed, then stubbed out his cigarette into his own palm, making it go up in black flames, before heading out into the main part of the townhouse again.

    “I’ll be right back,” Augustus murmured to the still-groggy Soren. He left, using the bathroom and washing his face briefly to try to banish some of the haziness.

    When he came back, Soren was sitting up and staring at his palms, deep in thought, but he looked up when Augustus came in. “I think I understand better now,” Soren said slowly.

    “Yes, me too,” Augustus said. “What did you see while I was … gone? I couldn’t see it since, well. I wasn’t there.”

    Soren briefly gnawed on his lower lip. “Well,” he said slowly, voice low. “As you know, you ran. You scuffed the line as you went. I don’t hold it against you, you know. I … in retrospect, I’m not sure the wards would have held long enough for us to deal with our mistakes anyway.”

    The churning in his stomach was simply appetite, having not eaten for so long. “But you don’t know that for sure.”

    “No. There’s no way to know.” Soren met his gaze, calm and sad. “We don’t know what we don’t know. You scuffed it, and it felt the gap in our pathetic protections. It lashed out at me. I don’t know why me. Maybe because I was less connected to this world than either of you two, who had each other. But it lashed out at me, and Vii flung himself … flung himself between me and the Beast.”

    Augustus drew a breath in. He’d anticipated deliberate sabotage, not panicked mistakes and conscious self-sacrifice.

    “It caught him instead, drew him back in, ate him. It … it bulged all over, and its face was peeled off, replaced with Vii’s face. Screaming. He was screaming.” Soren rubbed at his own face with his hands in some kind of unconscious sympathy. “I. I don’t know why he would have done that.”

    Augustus had a suspicion, based on what little he could remember of their complex interrelationships and massive personal issues, but he wouldn’t voice it. As Soren had said, there was no way to know. He couldn’t know what he couldn’t know. He let the thought go, not wanting to examine that tender wound any further. “I see. But he did. And you lived.”

    “I lived, though for a long time I wished I hadn’t,” Soren said, low-voiced. “That said, I don’t think the Beast had deliberately attacked our minds or our memories. I think we were just underprepared for what it was. We didn’t know enough to ward against it specifically, and we were summoning something that went beyond an intrusion into the world. Planar definitions should have made it impossible for us to do it and any sign of its intrusion to remain in the world after it left. So perhaps that’s why we forgot.”

    “Yes,” Augustus said slowly. Something was scratching at the edge of his memory, but he couldn’t quite pin it down, and he soon gave up on pursuing it.

    “If you’ll excuse me, I need to use the toilet,” Soren said, pushing himself out of bed. “Sorry. I’m not running from you.”

    It’d be only fair, also died unsaid on Augustus’s lips. “It’s just down the hall. Emmet is making breakfast, and my research assistant is here. Come down when you’re ready.”

    After Soren left the room, Augustus quickly changed his outfit, distractedly grabbing something morose and rainy-sky blue from his closet, and then went back out to the kitchen. As Emmet had said, Yujin was sitting at the table, knees up and feet pressed to the seat of the chair as if curling up might inexplicably make them more comfortable, a cup of tea in their hands that was no longer steaming. Emmet himself was at the stovetop, making some light breakfast for dinner. He was wearing an apron over his white suit that Augustus knew he didn’t actually own, a coarse thing with Good Morning, Thou Lowly Beast embroidered on the front in actual gold thread. 

    Augustus felt his heart swell at the sight, and he sat across from Yujin while still gazing at Emmet. It was like he was falling in love all over again at the incongruity, he thought helplessly. Here was a demon lord cooking him dinner—cooking him breakfast at a completely incorrect hour—in an apron and, yes, slippers. Of course, Em was obliged to obey him to some extent, since he hadn’t yet resolved his part of their agreement—hadn’t yet fully uncovered Augustus’s memory and his past, though at this rate, it was only a matter of time. But that was fine. Regardless of whether Em’s part was done soon, Augustus had sworn himself to Em for eternity in return. He planned to make good on it.

    Yujin sipped their tea loudly. “So can I ask exactly what happened? I mean, Mr. Darkfire was very clear about being unable to wake you.”

    “Yes, well, about that—thank you darling,” he said, as Emmet put a cup of tea down in front of him as well, this one steaming. He cupped it between his palms. “I’m actually an amnesiac. I have a large part of my past missing, and I was divining for it. I thought it might be related to why a blackmailer might be targeting me. Unfortunately, I was correct. Something went a bit wrong and it took longer than expected to recover from it. Also, Soren Kincaird is here, and will be joining us for our meal. Please do not ask about that.”

    “Huh,” Yujin said in a very strange voice. 

    Augustus thought about asking what they’d realized there in particular; given the events of the last few days, it could be any number of things, accurate or inaccurate. Then he decided not to bother. What was even the point? “I’m sorry for worrying you,” he said instead.

    “I, that’s—” Yujin stared at him for a long moment, then sucked a deep breath in. They ducked their head. “That’s okay. I was, though. Worried, I mean. A-anyway. Anyway. A few things have happened, but I wanted specifically to let you know about the blackmail.”

    “Ah, yes, how was your blackmailing experience?”

    “Lousy,” Yujin said, but seemed to relax a little, letting out a scoffing laugh and dropping one foot to the floor. “I went to the woods earlier this evening, like you asked, and pretended to be … ready to be blackmailed, I guess. The blackmailer showed up, but they were in disguise. Heavily cloaked, muffled.”

    Odd. “That’s interesting,” Augustus said. “The blackmailer hadn’t shown up to Fitzfleming in person and only communicated through notes.”

    “Maybe they’re someone Fitzfleming would be more likely to recognize even through their disguise,” Yujin suggested. “Or maybe what they wanted was too complicated for notes, because they asked me for all my thoughts and suspicions about you.”

    Augustus lifted his brows at that. “And what did you say?”

    Soren came in and moved to join them at the table, listening but not interrupting.

    “I didn’t share my actual suspicions about you,” Yujin said hurriedly, but with a sideways glance—at Emmet, of all people. They seemed more nervous now that Soren had come in, but that was fair; they had no idea of how Soren was involved. Augustus didn’t want to share that without Soren’s permission, but it did seem very unfair. “I mean, mostly I said that you were a lazy, undisciplined hedonist who liked stepping on other people’s boundaries just enough to make you both aware of them. Not that that’s true! I just wanted to feed the blackmailer something.”

    Soren and Emmet both snorted audibly, simultaneously. Augustus shrugged slowly. “Not that it’s true,” he echoed back. He was still Yujin’s boss, after all, it was fair that they’d try to cover for their honesty. “That was it?”

    “No, they asked what I knew about your past. And honestly it’s not very much, it’s not like we had a deep personal relationship,” Yujin pointed out. “I said that I knew you didn’t have family, because you never wrote home and never went on vacations or had anyone come up. That your choices not to talk about your childhood or your student years had become deliberate rather than incidental, from what I could tell. I said I knew your husband doesn’t live with you, and that you had plenty of affairs, but that from what I could tell you were genuinely in love with him, and that I didn’t think he was, like, made up even though I’d never met him. Um. I’d never met him at the time I was saying it, anyway. For some reason, talking about your love life upset the blackmailer.”

    Hm. Augustus too glanced at Emmet, but couldn’t see his face as he was at the stove still. He did flip a pancake showily, so he must not be terribly concerned about it himself. Augustus was relieved by that, and even more so to think that if there were to be a confrontation soon, Em would be here for it, both for the support and for the power levels at play here. He knew he’d only have Em for about one day more, give or take a little depending on how much power Em expended and attention he drew from the planes, so he might have to force a confrontation tomorrow if it wasn’t going to be one naturally. But knowing who was doing this might make it possible. “What else?”

    “I was pretty nervy at that point, and I asked what else they needed from me to keep my secret.” Yujin made a sidelong glance at Soren, who was accepting his tea and a plate of food from Emmet. “The blackmailer said they needed nothing for now, but to keep an eye out for further letters. They also said that they’d thought of asking me to steal something, but they’d found something that would work better.” Yujin sighed. “Obviously, they didn’t say what it was.”

    That wasn’t exactly promising, but was just vague enough to not be worth worrying about. “Well, thank you, Yujin,” he said, and accepted his own plate. “I don’t suppose it’s great, but it’s not as bad as it could be—”

    “Tell him about the other part, Yujin,” Emmet said. He put a smaller plate down in front of Yujin. Presumably they’d discussed it beforehand.

    Soren was being very quiet, eating and listening. Augustus felt nerves stir in his stomach, but he was too hungry to keep from eating, so he dug in as well.

    “I don’t see how it’s really super relevant, and I don’t want to worry the Professor more,” Yujin protested.

    “Mm, yeah, tell him anyway,” Emmet said. “It’s important, actually.”

    Yujin sighed heavily at that. “Interdepartmental squabbling sounds less important to me than blackmail, even if it’s personal, but sure. Okay.” They ate a strip of bacon, then sighed again. “It looks like Olivia Spiders stole your ideas. They wrote a paper—and it’s been released to the public. Today, actually. Somehow, she found a way to get it put into the magical interlibrary system early, so it was available to academic libraries around the world immediately.”

    “Oh dear,” Augustus said, softly.

    “Since it’s kind of scandalous and full of very new ideas, a lot of people are definitely reading it,” Yujin said. “I’ve watched the numbers tick up and it’s pretty wild. I’m sure retorts and reviews will start coming in soon, but the barn door is definitely stuck open now. There’s no way you’re getting credit for your own ideas, not given how publicly Spiders’ name is plastered all over it. Which sucks, but—”

    “No, no, this is bad,” Augustus said. “It could be a disaster.”

    “The thing is, the paper proposed a redefinition,” Emmet cut in, somewhat urgently. “It’s not redefining the ‘other planes’ as simply another part of your own plane, like you‘d wanted to propose,” meaning that Emmet was still considered an intrusive outsider, of course, “but instead it defined non-planar space as being itself of planar substance that might be more similar to this plane than others. As in, it’s filling the gaps that lead up to the other planes, but is hazardous in understandable and manageable ways. The paper set up definitions around interacting with it, and suggested contracts for containing it when creating intrusions. Essentially, Olivia Spiders has made it so summoning something from the space between planes might be as easy as summoning something from standard planar space. Easier, perhaps. More controllable, depending on the specifics of a contract they might have created.”

    “I mean, yeah, it’s fascinating, but why is that a concern?” Yujin asked.

    “Because it’s not theoretical. It’s practical. She’s going to summon something from between the planes, and I know what she’s going to summon,” Augustus said softly. Soren had stopped eating and seemed deep in panicked thought. 

    Olivia was going to summon the Beast Beyond into this world, and was going to do it soon. But how soon? Augustus wracked his mind, trying to view this like any other conjuration, trying to make sense of it. Surely Olivia would want there to be enough time to guarantee that a significant number of other magicians had read her paper, but not enough time that they had formed a response to it that might re-stabilize the planar boundaries. 

    If it were Augustus, he’d act on it tomorrow. It’d be the ideal amount of time between reading and taking in the redefinition, and people spending their weekend composing retorts.

    So what should he do about that, he wondered, half-frantic. It was night now, late evening. Should he go out for the night, try to act now, or wait until things were to go down tomorrow and try to stop it then? Given that it was personal, Olivia would probably try to drag him into it, but he had no way of guaranteeing that. 

    And if he were going to act, what exactly should he be doing, given that he had no idea where Olivia was right now or where she was going to do this? It wasn’t like the caves of his old school were anywhere around here; Olivia would have picked a new location, hidden and private. It didn’t even have to be somewhere wild, just somewhere that Olivia could guarantee nobody would wander into.

    [What should Augustus do?
    Comment with details.]

    [previous | next]

  • Halloween 2022 IF,  Interactive Fiction

    Halloween I.F. – “Body of Work” – Day 31

    [Happy Halloween! I expect this to run another 4-5 days
    so keep checking back through the start of November!
    Please read the instruction post before commenting]

    This was a memory, Augustus reminded himself. It was amazing how hard it was to keep that in mind through all this, like dreaming and forcing yourself to be aware that you were in a dream. He wasn’t actively putting something into a real bowl that would actually affect the ritual itself. That was in the past, and he couldn’t change it.

    But he could try to figure it out. To understand it better. Whatever he gave then might have been the cause of the laceration of his mind, or of the ritual going wrong. Perhaps not, given that Soren was in a similar situation, but perhaps so.

    What could it have been? It was possible that he’d doubled up on purpose, blended his spend with Soren’s … as some sort of challenge? For enjoying the sort of filth that came with certain types of offerings? He’d certainly had his moments of that! He didn’t think of the Beast Beyond as something sexual, though, and his converations so far hadn’t pointed to the younger him having done so either. Vii was offering up his soul or his heart through his blood, and while Augustus thought it might be romantic to mingle their blood, he knew that he too had clearly found his soul expendable, since he’d later sold it to Enmity. But he’d still had it until then. He’d given his heart to Enmity too. 

    No, it wasn’t likely that he’d matched them. The very fact that it had occurred to him that it might be best not to double up probably indicated that he’d thought the same thing back then.

    He’d given up access to his thoughts, perhaps, treating it as if this were an eldritch creature, one of the uncanny spirits. What he remembered of the Beast Beyond was uncanny, certainly, even if it was not from the terrible planar space that the horrors came from. He could have written down memories, thoughts, words, and put them in the bowl, given an offering of his own mind. That seemed potentially likely, given the total gap in this time period he had compared to Soren’s madness and later snatches of memory. 

    There was no way to be sure what he’d done, he finally decided, unless Soren or he were to later remember it. He couldn’t remember that time, and given how badly the ritual went, it was possible that it didn’t matter, that all the offerings ended up being rejected except for Vii himself.

    No, it was better to figure out if there was something he could offer now. Not to the Beast—since that was the past—but in order to inspire the divination to reveal information, allow him to return more. Tears seemed like a good idea, given that goal. He kept being moved to a grief he could barely feel or identify. Perhaps it was time to have the memory help him identify it.

    The problem was that he didn’t know how to cry. The last time it had happened was due to the memory of this very moment going wrong, and when he prodded the spot of grief inside himself it mostly turned over in a hot, annoyed pain. 

    Augustus’s eyes stung and for a moment he thought he was victorious—and then he realized that the wind had shifted and was blowing the smoke of the fire into his face. But that would do, he thought. He could stick his face in there, and he’d cry as a physiological reaction regardless of what his emotions were doing.

    Still. That might move the memory along, and he had other things he had to do first, quickly.

    He walked a circuit of the setup, the magic circles drawn all over the cave, and bit the inside of his cheek in frustration. He didn’t recognize any of this, not as a whole, and only barely in parts. The lines were solid, at least, and the sigils he did recognize seemed correctly formed. But their combination, and the reasons for their inclusion, were another language to him, one that he’d forgotten how to speak. He’d need memories he didn’t have of his research and his studies to know more.

    There were parts he could understand, he soothed himself. There, drawn on the wall, was a door, a clunky sort of summoning inclusion that wasn’t as refined as other summoning methods but tended to guarantee more certain results. The center should be marked with the symbols identifying the planar space that was being opened, but in its place was a slashed, jagged line, marked for no line at all.

    It was dangerous, from his adult perspective. A door onto nothing, capable of inviting in anything. And there were very few wards that could act against something completely unknown, since wards also acted by definition; you determined what could be let across a line, and what must be kept out. They’d clearly done their best, or Soren had—it must have been Soren who had set all this up—but the rough generic warding could easily be overpowered by anything with any strength at all, given a few moments’ efforts. Foolish that they were doing this. 

    Yet he could see why it would have excited him.

    He pulled away. “Soren, can I talk to you for a moment?”

    “Sure,” Soren said. “Vii, keep an eye out.”

    Eye-eye,” Vii said lightly, joking around.

    Augustus took Soren’s sleeve, and dragged him a bit deeper into the cave, just around the bend. “Is this you?” he asked without preamble. If this was a memory version of Soren, and not the diviner Soren, he’d just get confusion.

    “It’s me,” Soren said instead, urgently. He took Augustus’s hands and squeezed them. “I’ve largely been letting this body do what it wanted to so I could get some idea of what had been happening, but I’ve done a little investigation on my own.”

    “Found anything?”

    Soren’s eyes shifted away from Augustus’s—a guilty conscience, or just checking the cave entrance to watch Vii? Or maybe just someone who didn’t like eye contact, of course; Augustus usually preferred not to himself. “I explored my dorm room and all my belongings. We seem to have been a close-knit group of friends. We obviously had some emotional issues but in a normal sort of way, and we were otherwise fine. I didn’t find anything to indicate that this was deliberately going to go wrong, nothing that jumped out at me as a red flag.”

    Augustus wondered if he believed it. “And any other things? Personal stuff?”

    “Sure, but it’s personal.”

    “I found a confession letter from you to Vii,” he found himself saying. For a moment, he wasn’t sure if it was the memory taking over or his own inherent and contrary desire to stir the pot.

    Soren grimaced. “I had a lot of feelings for my friends, okay. But I didn’t… I found nothing to indicate this was an act of jealousy, Augustus. No sign this was a setup. There would be easier ways to do something like that, anyway!”

    That was true enough.  “… Did you actually jerk off to provide ritual materials with your current self piloting this body?”


    “What were you thinking about?”

    Augustus!” Soren was scowling at him fiercely, which was a real shame. Augustus’s heart warmed a little, for just a moment.

    “Auggie! Soren!” That was Vii, calling them urgently. “Something’s happening?”

    Augustus tightened his hand on Soren’s sleeve. “Grab on to me if I try to run. I don’t know if we can stop it, since last time it was the memory taking over, but try. If it looks like you’re losing yourself to memory I’ll say, uh—” He tried to think of a safeword, failed, and blurted out, “Enmity. I’ll say Enmity. If you hear it, focus up. Remember you’re a grown-ass man with a job, not a kid breaking the laws of known reality.”

    “Enmity?” Soren asked. Augustus felt something skitter along the back of his neck, and was relieved.

    “Auggie! Soren!

    They ran back, and sure enough, something was happening. Moonlight had fallen over the sigils, and they were glittering and gleaming. Reality felt infected, bulging, like pus under the skin, like botflies. Augustus realized that he hadn’t put anything in the bowl.

    Should he let it be? Do it? It was a memory, he reminded himself forcefully again, it didn’t matter—in reality, maybe he’d failed to do it in time. Maybe he’d done it long ago. But no, he’d already decided, he’d use his grief that he barely knew to inspire truth from this divination, and he was running out of time to do that. 

    Augustus lunged forward, sticking his face into the smoke of the fire, opening his eyes wide. Impossible not to tear up, stinging and miserable; he fell to his knees, bent over the bowl, let his tears fall into it as reality twisted.

    His chest ached and abruptly he realized he was crying for real. He was in love, he was in love, he loved Vii and Vii loved him but Vii also loved Soren but Vii didn’t want Soren because Soren was in love with Augustus even if Soren also wanted Vii, and none of them knew how to navigate this emotional mess and they were all so lonely and so broken, they were all so hungry and so sad, and Augustus was sobbing and sobbing, feeling like his heart had broken. Reality tore and split and it began to come through and it was—

    —it was so familiar. Snuffling and growling, sounds he heard with a sudden terror, a sudden recognition. He didn’t expect it to be so familiar, he didn’t expect to lose control like this at this sound from his nightmare, the sound that stole his grief from him, the sound that stole any resemblance of a normal life from him, your fault, your fault. He couldn’t keep himself from fleeing, he broke when he saw it, and knew that it was back then that he’d broken. So he ran. He couldn’t control his movement, not even though he remembered again that fuck, no, this was a memory. It was too visceral a memory, and he was living it all over again. So he ran, and he saw his shoe scuff a line on their already-pathetic warding as he scrambled away.

    Soren reached for Augustus, but Augustus wasn’t able to control the body enough to reach back. He could scream, though, so he did, he met Soren’s eyes and yelled his safeword, his trigger word, his lover’s name. Soren reached again. 

    But Augustus couldn’t see something he hadn’t been there for, even in his memory. He ran because he hadn’t been there, because he’d ran at the time. 

    Hopefully saying the word was enough, hopefully the reminder could keep Soren focusing, hopefully Soren could see what happened back then and have enough of himself around to remember it. If he could process it, he could let Enmity see it too.

     Augustus knew how this went; he remembered it from the last divination. He ran wildly until he hit the cave pool, and the cold water brought him to his senses. In the only brave act of his life, he turned and ran back. He found them, but it was too late to save Vii. He let himself be a passenger for this, too emotionally exhausted to try to interact.

    Soren must have seen the things he missed. They could talk about it after. He was too far gone to think about that more than distantly. His mind was shattering all over again. It was worse this time. This time, he made eye contact with Vii’s beastly face on the Beast Beyond as he was dragged back through, and saw Vii mouth his name. Augustus. Augustus.

    Augustus screamed. He was screaming and couldn’t stop. Vii looked afraid of what was happening to him and where he was going. Augustus’s screaming felt like it went on forever.

    And then, suddenly, Augustus was gasping awake, still shuddering, with tears on his face. He was drenched in sweat. He smelled smoke and deliriously wondered if he was back by the fire, but no, there was Emmet in the chair next to the bed, smoking a cigarette and looking—annoyed.

    No, not annoyed. Stressed. Maybe worried. Very unfamiliar expressions on a demon prince, even when wearing a human face.

    “What’s wrong?” Augustus asked, and heard it come out in a croak. His mouth had never been so dry. Beside him, Soren was also stirring, groaning.

     “You’re finally awake,” Emmet said, tersely. “You were asleep a whole day.”

    “What?!” Oh that hurt his throat. Yes, he must have been asleep a long time. His entire body was aching. He had to piss like a motherfucker. “How?”

    “Your minds were—it was worse this time. Your connection together, maybe. We shouldn’t do it again,” Emmet said. He took a long draw on his cigarette. “Your ward is here.”

    “Ward? We had no wards,” Augustus said, not understanding.

    “Your—assistant. Yujin. They’re here,” Emmet said, with more emphasis. “You slept a whole day. They did the shit you asked for and then came here to report in. I was kind of busy trying to keep your minds where they belonged, so I was only able to hold them off from coming in here by promising you’d tell them everything when you were awake. So you’d better make up a compelling lie fast.”

    [What should Augustus do?
    Comment with details.]

    [previous | next]

  • Halloween 2022 IF,  Interactive Fiction

    Halloween I.F. – “Body of Work” – Day 30

    [Please read the instruction post before commenting]

    Augustus slid his young legs carefully out of bed, slowly traversing the room in the nude, brushing hands over furniture that felt familiar. Half it was surely because he remembered his own dorm room, if not related to these people in his life. But half of it was familiar in a way he couldn’t put a name to. 

    There was the bed, a bookcase, a wardrobe, and a writing desk with a gramophone on it. A quick glance at the bookcase just showed the sort of research books that he’d expect, along with a few novels and cylinders for the gramophone, a gas burner, a pitcher, a teapot, some tins of tea. Augustus turned his attention to the writing desk, carefully sliding a drawer open.

    The first thing he found were stacks of letters from Vii’s family; Vii had a large family, and they clearly loved him dearly. Or perhaps, Augustus thought as he skimmed them, it was a combination of that and needing to maintain some kind of control even at a distance. Augustus saw constant reminders of their expectations for Vii as a magician, references to him being the future of the family, gushing declarations of love that wrapped up reminders that he needed to do their best for him.

    He moved those aside; beneath them was a little box, which he opened. He felt his heart flutter as he looked into it. There were love tokens in there, and while he couldn’t recognize the context, Augustus knew they were from him: a lock of hair, a drop of blood dried in a bottle, a necklace with an ornamented symbol on it he recalled to have been one a lover gave to another in a book that he’d read. That they both must have read. There were letters beneath these, and he carefully opened one to find it a passionate declaration of eternal devotion, written in his own handwriting.

    Well, he had clearly made that a lie, he thought with an unusual stab of regret.

    The rest of the letters in there were the same: love letters, reminisces of the time they’d shared. Mentions of a picnic, of a play they attended, of a time they went skinny-dipping in a river nearby and wrestled a nix into laughing submission. A description of a meal that they’d shared which he’d clearly loved. He smiled a little to himself and flipped through them to the last one. This one was a love confession letter, but it was from Soren rather than himself, written in a stilted tone and nearly an apology. It didn’t have much detail, simply saying that Soren cared for Vii, and that he knew his affections may not be welcome, but he wanted to offer them nonetheless, and that he knew that Vii’s heart lay with Augustus and that he meant no harm toward that.

    The letters were all only the incoming correspondence, of course. Even when Augustus was just trying to prompt his own buried memory for details, it would make no sense to see the responses here, as they clearly would have been sent. And while he could guess what Vii’s responses to his own letters were based on the fact he’d just woken in bed with him, he did not know how Vii would have written back to Soren. Perhaps it didn’t matter. He closed the box and it snapped shut, locking. Interesting.

    In another box in a separate drawer were Vii’s personal papers, his identification and certificate of birth. Things someone would access if anything happened to Vii, Augustus thought somberly. On the top of this box was a new letter, recently folded and crisp. It said:

    If you’re reading this, what we’ve tried to do has gone horribly wrong. I do not want to get into detail, as I want nobody to be blamed except for myself.

    I, along with a few close friends, am going to attempt to summon something nobody has ever summoned before. We have access to the nearby planes, but we intend to reach something inaccessible. If Conjuration is surgery into a body that is across from ours, we intend to tear open the space between our bodies instead and invasively remove something.

    I do this because I need to know. I need to see what’s out there. I need to look beyond me and thee and see what lies between, and what lies beyond. I am so tired of dichotomies, of good or bad, of myself and other, of filial duty and personal responsibility. I want to see if there’s a third choice. I want to see this by violating planar dichotomy. Whatever happens to me, it is my own fault for doing the things that we are not supposed to do.

    I do this without knowing if I’ll live or die, physically. I do not know if my soul will remain, be taken, or be destroyed. I don’t care. I need to know. I need to see that there’s more than what I’ve seen so far. If all goes in a mediocre manner, neither well nor poorly, you will never read this letter. But if I do something incredible, or something terrible, I’m sure you will.

    I love you, Olivia. Be well, but do not be as well as me.


    Augustus folded that and put it back, turning almost automatically to the wardrobe and searching there instead. It was mostly clothes that looked like the sort Vii would certainly wear, though he found a few pieces of clothing he knew were his own. It made sense that he’d store things here to wear after staying over, though of course he knew he had his own dorm room as well. This was just the evidence of another person’s life after they had made room for sharing it with someone else.

    Augustus closed the wardrobe door and crumpled for a moment, crouched, breathing hard, one hand splayed on the floor, the other on the wood of the closet. He couldn’t remember grief, wasn’t sure when he had stopped having grief, but this was the closest he’d felt to it in such a very long time, because he was suddenly desperately aware of having once had something incredible, something that he’d lost and hadn’t even realized he’d lost.

    There was movement in his hair, and a small, iridescent beetle dropped to his shoulder, skittering across his skin, settling in the dip of his collarbone. It buzzed, but didn’t say anything. Augustus didn’t say anything back either, though he raised a finger and lightly stroked it down the beetle’s back. What could he even say to this? Enmity was simply seeing what Augustus was seeing, processed through his own mind. Enmity would know Augustus loved him regardless; would likely not even consider otherwise, given the shape of their relationship. Besides, Augustus had sworn himself to him, handed his soul over in exchange for a ring, as he understood was the way things should be in a marriage. They were each other’s, regardless of the past. The brutal grip of realization and old promises had little sway in the face of things he had built for himself since.

    He rose again, feelings under control, and returned to the bed. He carefully put the beetle down on the bedside table, and gently nudged Vii’s shoulder. “Vii, wake up.”

    Vii let out a groan and turned over, scrunching his face up and wrinkling his nose. “No, I don’t think I shall.”

    Augustus let himself indulge and leaned down, giving Vii a lingering kiss. It was desperately familiar. Vii kissed back sleepily, with a muffled laugh, draping an arm around Augustus’s shoulders. “Already?” he murmured. “I don’t know if I can—” 

    “No,” Augustus murmured, pulling back a short distance, reluctant. “Since things are going to happen so soon … I want to talk, Vii.”

    “Ugh.” Vii shifted back too, slowly sitting up, propping his bare upper back against the wall. “I hate those words.”

    “Nothing bad,” Augustus promised. “I just … I’m scared, I suppose. Or intimidated, more accurately. Everything may change soon, right?” He felt like he was roleplaying a self he could no longer remember, but that was fine. It was all in his own mind anyway. What was key was trying to tap into a core of emotional honesty, so he could get the same in return from his own mind. A brutally unfair thing to ask of himself, really. “So I want to make sure that I know everything there is to you. So that whatever happens, we have more of each other to hang on to.”

    Vii let out a startled laugh. “Damn. Well. All right. Shift over.”

    Augustus did, giving room for Vii to get up if he wanted to. “Why did you never introduce me to your family? I know they’re very attentive and love you a lot, so—”

    Vii swung his legs out of bed; this time it was his turn to pace the room, naked, lanky. Not a bad sight, Augustus had to admit. He had no reason to force himself to keep his eyes on Vii’s face, so after a moment, he stopped forcing himself to.

    “It’s complicated,” Vii said. He grabbed a cylinder from the shelf and put it into the gramophone; something light and airy began to play, a galant-style song. He got the gas lit on the burner and began to make tea. “My family is … yes, they are attentive. I can say that. They’re a large family, merchant class. For a long time, nobody had the knack for magic, but some grandparent or parent or whatever must have had some latent ability that got picked up when new folks married in, because my generation has been producing some magicians. They’ve made a lot of their merchanting life, and they view us as their chance to improve their lot even further. Allowing the Spiders to spin our webs wide, they say.”

    Augustus made a face that made Vii laugh again. “So?”

    “They put family first and expect everyone else to as well,” Vii said, shrugging. “Not uncommon, I know. But they don’t really get personal freedoms. Right now, you’re something that’s just mine. You’re mine. If I introduced you to my family, they’d all have an opinion on it and they’d expect that their opinions would carry weight. I just … I just want the freedom to be in love.”

    “Ah,” Augustus said.

    “I mean,” Vii said hurriedly, “obviously we plan to stay together. So depending on what happens with the ritual, I’ll have to introduce you to them someday. But then, it’d be nice to bring you to them with the strength of years behind our relationship.”

    That faint ache was back again. Augustus tried to ignore it. “Are your siblings like that as well? Surely that level of demand at least gets split among you.”

    “Some of my siblings and cousins have the knack, most do not. My twin does, of course. Olivia. You know about them! I’m very proud of them. She knows who she wants to be, and however changeable that is, she wants us to embrace it. Olivia got all the charisma between us, of course.”

    “Liar,” Augustus said.

    Vii finished pouring the water over the leaves and turned the burner off, then smiled at Augustus, pleased. “Well, no, they didn’t. We’re both feral little creatures our parents despair of and worry about the way a collar worries about a dog. But Olivia has better figured out how to get people to like her, and is willing to take those steps.”

    “‘A collar’ is pretty harsh.”

    “Not a choke chain. One of those nice leather things with the dog’s name on it, tied nicely to a stake outside a doghouse so the dog can be comfortable and warm.”

    Augustus didn’t have to fake a wince. “Aren’t you worried about what Olivia might think or do if something goes wrong with our ritual?”

    “Hah!” Vii was staring at the pot, as if willing the leaves to steep faster. “No, I don’t worry about things like that. If it were Olivia doing this, she’d worry about what I’d think or do. Olivia has a mind like a trap and always tries to think through every detail. That’s why even though they have the knack, they’re studying law, not magic. She’ll make an excellent lawyer. A far cry from when we used to break into the neighbors’ homes together and rifle through their stuff while they were out. Nope, I don’t care what she thinks or feels about it. I hope not to cause them suffering, of course. But it’s not about them.”

    “You’re not worried about what’ll happen?”

    “Of course I am!” Vii said. He put a hand against the teapot and Augustus watched his fingers redden, but he left it there as long as he could before pulling it back. “I don’t know what’ll happen. But I hope … I don’t know. It’s half the desire to discover something. To be the very first to see something. To share that with other truth seekers. You and Soren. Maybe it’s just escapism.”

    “I’ve noticed that you’re not happy,” Augustus ventured. It was a guess, but frustrated discontent seemed to be radiating off Vii. Happy people didn’t break the laws of Conjuration.

    Vii’s shoulders sagged. “I try to hide it from you. I love you! I don’t want you to think it’s because of you! I’m just …” He sighed. “Wrong, I guess. Why do you want to do this?”

    Augustus thought. He didn’t know why the him back then would have wanted to, of course. But he knew himself well enough to guess. “It seems fun,” Augustus said. “And I want more. I’m a hungry, greedy person who wants the world to pay attention to me. I conjured something when I was young, you know? When my knack developed.” Why was he saying this? Had he said it back then? Was it just nice to have an audience who didn’t exist? “It hunted my family down. It was only luck that I survived. And if I could do that, what else could I conjure? Why would it even let me live if it wasn’t for something? If my life is pointless, what would I even do! So it can’t be. I’m just—I’m just like every other Conjurer. We all learn really fast that everything that makes us up is a bartering chip to the things we can call to us. Identities to the fey, souls to the demons, breath to the elementals, blood to the dead, thoughts to uncanny creatures. Hearts to whatever we want, I guess. If we exist only as a collection of tokens that can be broken up and spread among the things we conjure, then what are we? Can their desire for us not mean something? Why not take control over them? Why not demand their attention and live knowing we’ve captured them?”

    The beetle shifted, turning to watch Vii pour the tea. Augustus tried not to look at him.

    “Maybe it’s something like that,” Vii said. “With my family, every moment of my day was so controlled. And then my knack showed, and that was even better for their needs. They decided I’d go to school, so I went to school, and every day we take classes on how to control it, how to confine it. Wards, protections, contracts, the rules of conjuration and summoning, the things one simply does not do. I’m so hungry to make my own choices, even the bad ones. Especially the bad ones. I’m so tired of being good, the perfect little Spiders child.” He was crying a little now; though he was trying to speak normally through it, the tears were running down his face. “I just want—”

    There was a knock at the door. “It’s time,” Augustus heard through it. Soren’s voice. “Go separately, one at a time. Don’t draw attention. We’ll see you there in an hour.”

    “We didn’t even have time to have the tea,” Vii said. He put the cups down, came over, took Augustus’s face between his reddened, overheated hands, and knocked his head against Augustus’s. “I love you,” he said, choked. “I love you. No matter what’s wrong with me, know that’s true.”

    Augustus’s vision swam, and for a horrible moment, he thought he was crying too—but it cleared, and he realized he was outside in the woods, dressed properly for walking, right outside a cave that had a fire lit in it. He glanced down, recognizing one of the outfits that had been in Vii’s closet, and seeing the beetle on his chest. “I love you,” he whispered to Enmity. “I need you.”

    “Who’s there?” someone called from the cave urgently, so he turned his attention to that at once instead of waiting for an answer, walking in.

    Someone had drawn a fantastic array all over the cave. In the middle of one of the looping swirls of sigils was a bowl, with a few things in there already, a lock of hair, a puddle of what looked like semen. Soren relaxed when Augustus came in, then saw him looking at the bowl and looked away, a severe expression crossing his face that Augustus realized took the place of embarrassment.

    Vii was sitting on a rock in his shirtsleeves, one rolled up, a knife in his hand but his skin as of yet unpierced. “You’re late,” he said, grinning, the firelight flickering uncannily across his features. “Slowpoke.”

    “We were told to come separately and attract no notice,” Augustus retorted.

    Soren cut into their banter. “Sorry, but things are already starting to congeal. We shouldn’t dawdle. What do you want to put in there, Augustus? What kind of essence as an offering?”

    It could be anything, of course. Different things appealed to different creatures. He could breathe, bleed, come, cry, offer symbolic representations of other elements of himself, whatever. Maybe better not to double up too much; a collection of different options would be a good idea if they were trying to appeal to something the nature of which they didn’t know, and it looked like only a few of the options had already been offered.

    Augustus wondered what he would have given back then; if he could figure it out, he might understand his own intentions a little better. But more important than that might be the chance to study their setup, or question Soren, before the memory moved on.

    [What should Augustus do?
    Comment with details.]

    [previous | next]

  • Halloween 2022 IF,  Interactive Fiction

    Halloween I.F. – “Body of Work” – Day 29

    [Please read the instruction post before commenting]

    No, Augustus decided. Forget telling Soren ‘anything’—it was time to tell Soren everything. At this point, the information Soren didn’t have was hampering them both, and Soren’s own memory gaps were something he must be struggling desperately to fill. It would be nice to have someone in the same situation on his side when they dealt with this, and maybe, if he had enough information, he’d have better insights. So everything it was.

    Well, except maybe telling him about Augustus’s husband being a demon lord. That one wasn’t really Augustus’s to disclose anyway, when he thought about it. If he were a demon lord, and his husband went around telling people without permission, he’d be pretty offended. 

    The ritual to summon Enmity through physically was significantly simpler and faster than their regular calls, simply because Augustus didn’t need to set up a buffer of voidspace and define it as separate and overlapping to the real world. The issue was the planar definitions, as he’d long believed. If there was this plane and the other planes, then by forcing something of another plane into this world, this plane would protest. By building adjacent space, it avoided conflicting with this plane’s definitions-of-self. 

    A physical summoning was somewhat different. He set the candles, built the magic circle, and summoned Enmity of the Dark Phlogiston through.

    For a moment, his husband was standing in front of him in his true glory but also bodied, real and physical and present. Augustus ached to step across the lines of the circle and touch him—but doing it too quickly would cross the line of traditional summoning ritual and would make the planar definitions put up their guard too fast.

    Instead, Enmity transformed, wrapping his essence in human flesh, his human disguise. He was still a little uncanny, too-pale: Tall, white-haired, wearing a white suit, his flesh icy pale, his eyes so light a blue they appeared to be gray. White was all visible colours at once, and thus bore some secret similarity to the iridescence of his actual form in a way that he couldn’t otherwise express through a normal human body.

    Once that was in place, Augustus scuffed out the protective circle, letting Emmet Darkfire step across the line and dip him to kiss him.

    Reality protested briefly, and then fell into line, fooled by the human disguise—for now, anyway. It would only be a matter of time, a few days at most, before the planes caught wise again and would force Emmet out. It would then reinforce its boundaries against him, leaving him inaccessible for a time. And so it would be until the nature of the planes changed.

    But for now, he was all Augustus’s.

    Augustus broke the kiss reluctantly, with a sigh. “Ah, darling, I have so much to tell you,” he said and summarized the last day: the research in the library, the almost-certain connection to Olivia Spiders, the multiple blackmails, his tenuous alliance with Fitzfleming. “And now Soren’s coming over, and I think I should simply be transparent with him. Tell him everything we’ve learned. We know that Olivia befriended him; he might have information we need.”

    “Mmm.” Emmet slid a possessive arm around Augustus, guiding him up the stairs to his townhouse proper, shutting the door to his basement workroom behind them. “I agree, we might as well.” Emmet always talked so normally when he was Emmet instead of Enmity, Augustus thought a little crankily. He had to; every part of him was a disguise right now. But it was no good at all. “Keep in mind that it’s risky, though. Soren doesn’t know that he previously lost someone, or whatever part he had to play in it. We can’t account for human emotions.”

    “We can’t, but I think it’s better that we help him be the one to find out about it than be people withholding it from him at the time he does find out,” Augustus pointed out.

    “I’m not arguing, sweets,” Emmet said. He went into the kitchen and turned on the gas so he could get some tea on. “Get some food started for me, I want to taste things while I’m here. Anyway, beside that, you might want to withhold—well, me, especially if you hope that I can do a proper divination on you both. You can tell him what I am if you decide you want or need to, but keep in mind that you and I are in a precarious position here, and we will have to kill him if he’s going to end up panicking over it. Can’t afford to have him telling people before we’re ready.”

    Augustus nodded. That was reasonable. “Yes, let’s withhold it for now. If we need to explain your powers, we can use the usual excuse.”

    As Emmet had asked him to, and since he needed to eat anyway, he got dinner on, and fed Emmet occasional spoonfuls from the pot as he finished up the chicken and basil pasta. Emmet spiked his tea and sat contentedly at Augustus’s kitchen table, hands wrapped around the mug as he watched Augustus work.

    When the knock at the door came, dinner was about ready. Well, they might as well eat while they talk, Augustus decided.

    He thankfully beat Emmet to the door, answering it with a smile. Soren had clearly dressed up, wearing a marbled suit that seemed to glisten as if it were made of stone itself, and he was carrying a small bottle of wine with the anxious attitude of someone who had picked between that and flowers and was hoping he hadn’t made the wrong decision. “Good evening,” Soren said, shyly. “I’ve been looking forward to this.”

    “Me too,” Augustus lied; he’d been far too busy to look forward to it one way or another. “Please come in. I have someone I’d like to introduce you to.”

    He let Soren in and shut the door behind him, then turned to see Emmet lounging insouciant against the wall in the entryway. Soren was staring at him, both a little jealous and absolutely gobsmacked, which was a fair reaction to Emmet even in his less-impressive human form. “Or perhaps he’d like to introduce himself,” Augustus said dryly.

    “No, no, go ahead, darling,” Emmet drawled.

    “Soren, please meet my husband, Emmet Darkfire.”

    “Oh—I knew you were going to talk to him, but I hadn’t realized …” Soren put the bottle of wine on the side table and stepped forward, offering his hand.

    Emmet took it as if to shake, then turned it over and kissed the back of it. “Charmed, I’m sure.”

    Soren’s complexion didn’t show blushes well, but if his expression were anything to go by, his heart must be pounding and his face warm. “Ah, the feeling’s mutual.”

    Oh a threesome was absolutely on the table, Augustus thought absently. Probably not now, and it’d be improper to do if he didn’t give more accurate information about Emmet, but in terms of possibilities? Yes, absolutely. And Soren must be thinking the same thing, given the last thing they talked about.

    Augustus cleared his throat. “Soren, I’ve made dinner, and if you’re hungry you’re welcome to have a plate. I’d wanted to get the time to know you properly here, but—with what’s been happening, I’m not sure I have the time.”

    A series of complicated expressions crossed Soren’s face. “What do you mean?”

    “Come and eat,” Augustus invited. He served plates to all three of them, then sat, and as he ate he began to explain.

    As he’d planned to do, he told Soren everything that mattered. He told Soren about coming back with the lock of hair and having Emmet help him divine into their pasts; he described the scenes he encountered in as much detail as his memory would allow him to summon. Soren went pale about halfway through and put his fork down, and Emmet interjected a quiet, “You should probably eat, if you can. You’ll need the strength for the time to come.”

    Augustus didn’t let that interruption stop his flow of words, however.  He finished the description of the divination, though he left out his suspicions that one or the other of them had sabotaged the ritual; even if Soren had, it had happened so long ago, and besides, Soren couldn’t remember it—things had changed since then, no matter what, and it wasn’t fair to bring up a theory simply to hurt Soren with it.

    He moved on from there to the morning after: his investigations in the library, his discovery of Vii being Violin Spiders. Soren put up a quick protest then, a, “There’s no way that Liv is related to this,” that Augustus cut off with a wave of his hand as he pushed on. He described his own suspicions of Olivia and watched Soren sit there with thin lips, just listening. And then the blackmailing—the multiple blackmailings, though he left out what either of them were being blackmailed for out of deference to their own deeply personal situations.  

    “And so,” he concluded, “someone has been stealing from me, someone is targeting me specifically for my research at the least, and that someone has been blackmailing people around me to try to do this. And Olivia Spiders is most likely associated with Violin Spiders. Olivia Spiders has been working on a paper that I’ve heard is somewhat similar to mine, even though that’s not their usual field. I’d like to know more about your relationship with Olivia and what you’ve told them.”

    Soren had managed to finish most of his plate, at least, though not all of it. He sat pushing what was left around with a fork absently. “I don’t … remember Vii at all,” he admitted. “I knew there was another person, and your description matches the little I recall, but you telling me didn’t make me remember more of him. I feel kind of… upset by that, honestly. I feel like I should know him.”

    “You may yet still, if we divine again,” Emmet murmured.

    “It didn’t jog my memory either,” Augustus said. “I remember only what I saw in the divination itself. It seemed as if we’d been together a while, but it’s all gone now.”

    Soren nodded once, jerkily. “As for Olivia … I don’t want to think the worst of her, you know. I don’t want to think that our friendship was a lie. They welcomed me when I first came here, and we spend time together after work quite a bit. But they do know about my memory loss. From what I could tell, we talked about this and that until it simply came up naturally. And if they’d looked me up after the … incident … then they’d have known I had that problem and could have steered the conversation around to making me be the one to bring it up.”

    “Indeed,” Augustus murmured. He hadn’t had similar conversations with Olivia, but then, he had been left out of the article he’d found. Olivia might not have initially known that Augustus been involved. Not until Soren had told her about his vague scraps of memory and his own sense of knowing Augustus. 

    But had Vii really never written to his family about his relationship with Augustus …? Not impossible, of course, but these were the questions he had to ask himself.

    “It does make her paper more suspicious, given your stolen research,” Soren admitted reluctantly. 

    “Can you tell me more about the paper?”

    “I haven’t yet read it,” Soren said. “Olivia said that however close we were, they couldn’t have a peer read her work, it was too risky if someone else published something similar. Ironic, if they were stealing your work. The paper’s title, though, I got. It’s ‘Outside the Planar Influence: Why Spiritual Definitions Need Redefining.'”

    “Oh, she’s absolutely stealing my work, then,” Augustus said, trying to rein in his sudden fury. “Absolutely, Olivia’s the one blackmailing people and having them steal my shit. That’s exactly what I’ve been working on. Specifically.”

    “They told me they knew something was out there, and as researchers, they needed to find out more so that contracts could be redrawn appropriately to cover these ‘edge cases’,” Soren said helplessly. “She never implied she had a personal stake in it.”

    “Outrageous,” Augustus declared. He looked to Emmet and found Emmet grinning at him with his pearly-white, flat, human teeth showing. “It is!”

    “Darling, I know. But at least you can ride coattails, even if you can’t lead the way.”

    “No, it’s mine.”

    “I know, darling.”

    “They never blackmailed me,” Soren interrupted. “Or haven’t yet. I suppose there’s no need to, since I’m new, but—I have to agree. What you’ve said seems to be more than simply wanting to publish first, if they’re related to Vii. And if they were just stealing your research for the academic credit, why blackmail someone for your ambrotype as well?”

    Emmet said, “Sounds like maybe she wants to do divination too. It’d be harder for them to do than for me, of course, so a picture of you might do a good job to give something to build off of. That or she has suspicions of our relationship, darling.”

    “But why not steal one of my pictures, then?” Soren asked.

    “She’s needed you on her side, right?” Augustus suggested. “Maybe that’s it. If they found out from you I was somehow involved in the incident, then targeting me keeps their relationship with you ‘clean’. And they were targeting me for my research anyway, so why not steal more while they were at it?” 

    Soren nodded slowly, reluctantly. “Speaking of divination. Emmet, you said that you did the last one? And that it’s easy for you? Because I think we should use my physical presence here for a more powerful divination. But is it really so simple? I know divination is unreliable at best …”

    Emmet draped an arm behind Augustus’s chair. “Don’t go around telling anyone this, as it could certainly hurt Augustus’s flawless reputation, but I’m a diabolist. So I get some magical perks others don’t.”

    Augustus was a conjurer; he could summon any number of spirits from the other planes, including demons—from other locations in planar space, he reminded himself, if he were to redefine planar reality he’d have to start with himself first. He was also a diabolist, because he’d made a contract with a demon. A diabolist was simply someone who was in some way involved with demons in a way that gave them some access to that demonic power. Augustus kept his magic as straight spellcasting with all its terms and agreements, generally, but he certainly had access to powerful demonic magic if he needed it.

    A diabolist may not be as formally trained as a magician was, but conjurers and diabolists obviously often moved in similar circles. Many knew each other, so it was a half-lie with plenty of things that could back it up. And Emmet, well, wasn’t a human who had made a contract, but was certainly involved with demons. As it were.

    “I see,” Soren said. He gave Augustus a curious expression, but if he’d put things together yet, there was no sign of it. “Will it be harmful?”

    “Not at all. There’s some demonic edge to it that you might pick up if you feel me there, but don’t fight it if you do,” Emmet said. “I swear to you, I can make it so this demon will not harm you in the course of the divination. But I’ll need to be present and watching along as I do the divination, because some of the things in there mess with your ability to process your memories. Probably why you can’t actually remember it. I’ll need to split myself and watch you both, especially since your memories might diverge—not all the scenes I see will necessarily have you both together.”

    Soren was silent for a long moment. “I see. I’ll give you my trust in this. I don’t see what else I can do.”

    “Come with me,” Augustus said, offering Soren a hand. “We should get comfortable. We’re essentially going to be unconscious, so we’ll need to lay down.”

    Soren’s hand slipped into his, faintly clammy; he was nervous. Augustus, impulsively, gave that hand a reassuring squeeze as he led Soren to his bedroom—his actual bedroom, not the bed downstairs in his workroom, since that still had all the setup of demon summoning in it. 

    They lay down together on the bed, and Soren shifted uneasily, staring up at the ceiling. “This wasn’t exactly how I imagined being in bed with you,” he said.

    Emmet barked a laugh. The metaphysical wind began to swell around them. “Well, it’s not going to be as fun, but we’ll see what happens later.”

    Augustus opened his mouth to scold Emmet, and then he realized he was somewhere else.

    It was the school dorm room that he remembered from before—Vii’s room. There was a warm lump of blankets next to him, and he sat up slowly, turning over and tugging the blankets back to look.

    Vii was sleeping deeply, looking content, smiling and curled up, lashes heavy on his cheek, the nape of his neck bare. Augustus felt the sudden absurd urge to kiss that exposed part of his neck, but didn’t do it.

    He could wake Vii, he knew. But it would be harder to look around the area if he did, since Vii would be up and interacting with him. He felt like he perhaps had more freedom to explore than he’d had in the last divination. Perhaps due to the better materials provided, he was more able to interact as his current self, instead of just being along for the ride. He couldn’t change the past, one way or another—he was in his own head, rather than back in the past—but it might give him the freedom to see things from angles he hadn’t let himself notice in the past, or ask questions and see if his own suppressed memory could tease out the answer for him.

    Soren wasn’t here, he noticed. It was just him and Vii in Vii’s room.

    [What should Augustus do?
    Comment with details.]

    [previous | next]

  • Halloween 2022 IF,  Interactive Fiction

    Halloween I.F. – “Body of Work” – Day 28 (BREAK)

    I’m going to give everyone an extra day to turn in your suggestions. How you approach the plans of this evening with Enmity and with Soren may determine key parts of the story as we move into the final stretch, so I definitely want to give people the chance to catch up and contribute!

    Please have your suggestions in on the Day 27 entry by 4 pm PST, Oct 29.