Of Books and Men
Her feet made no sound as they padded across the cold stone floor. She knew he was busy, but she had waited for such a long time. Besides, what father could resist his only daughter? He put down the tome as she approached and turned to face her.
“Father,” she said, “it’s time for a new book.”
He turned to his daughter and smiled. Their library was one of the biggest around, and as such, adding new material was not a simple task. She was too young to do it properly on her own, but he did enjoy helping her with it. Besides, it had been far too long since their last acquisition.
“Of course. Let me finish something here and I will be there shortly.”
Leila turned and hurried out of her father’s study. She ran down the central hallway, slowing only as she approached the large doors that led to the library. Her eyes drifted upwards to the ageless brick in the barrel-vaulted ceiling, arched in ways that seemed to defy the laws of gravity. The walls were lined with bright sconces and perfectly carved busts of the ancient ones.
She stopped in front of the large doors and waited, letting her mind wander to the joy of what lay ahead. Leila felt his approach long before her father spoke.
“I trust you are ready to do this,” he questioned before attempting to open the door. “The story will not unfold the way you would like if everything has not been prepared correctly.”
Leila turned to her father and smiled lovingly. “Yes. Everything is ready.”
Without saying another word, Seth placed his hand on the heavy door and opened the library for his daughter. She stepped inside and walked down the aisle, her eyes lingered hungrily on dozens upon dozens of books. The outer edge of the library held the oldest books – ancient things that smelled of parchment, strange leather and age.
She reached her hand out and ran her fingers across the tomes as they walked through her part of the library. Leila had devoured every book in here, many of them multiple times. Simply touching one of these was enough to tease her mind with the emotions and characters captured within the pages. A particularly strong wave of feelings shot through her as she touched one of her favorite books. Leila stopped and ran a finger down the spine.
Seth stopped behind her and sighed audibly, knowing exactly how she felt.
“I remember helping you with that one. It was the first story for your portion of the library. I don’t think my first book was nearly that good.”
Leila closed her eyes and saw everything within those pages. The faces were crystal clear, the emotions every bit as raw and savage as they were when it was penned, if not more so, and she almost decided to stop and simply enjoy it. Almost.
Her hand fell from the book and she turned her face to the center of the library where the books were created. A series of shapes and patterns had been laid into the floor, each with corresponding glyphs and symbols handed down from the ancient ones. She stepped into the center of a group of markings and turned to her father.
Seth retrieved the book she had prepared and flipped through the pages, ensuring they were empty. He nodded his head to his daughter and recited the unholy incantation as she waved her hand over the glyphs around her and initiated the ceremony. The floor shimmered, the room darkened, and the realm of mankind opened before them.
She spoke the ancient command and the two worlds merged. Leila looked at the room where a lone man was bent over geometric patterns of his own and was busily drawing lines upon the ground.
“Eric,” Leila said, “I have come for you.”
The man jumped with fright, smearing the lines. He looked down, checked to be sure he was standing within his circle, then turned to face the demon he had been summoning for months. “How… But I…” he stammered as he tried to comprehend what happened. “But I didn’t summon you yet, I never game you my name!”
Seth grinned wickedly as symbols around his daughter began to glow and one-by-one drift off the floor as vapors to etch themselves onto the pages of the book he held.
“Stupid little man,” Leila smirked as she watched the mortal squirm. “Did you really think your preparations, chalk and lines of salt, could contain me?”
Leila stepped completely into the mortal world and stood within the man’s triangle of conjuring. The last of the glyphs from the library floor etched itself into the new book. The remainder would have to be done from the mortal realm.
The man faltered, knocking down his altar and candles as he pulled backward. Composure regained, Eric stood up with the ceremonial dagger in his hand and faced his demon. “Yes, I followed all of the steps. You are mine to command, mine to summon, and mine to banish!”
Eric moved cautiously to the edge of the triangle where Leila stood, his confidence growing with each step. He lifted the dagger and spoke with as much authority as he could muster.
“Through Alpha and Omega, and with Michael’s gate, I cast you to darkness where eternally you will wait.”
Leila waited for Eric’s hand to cross the line and grabbed him by the throat. She caught the dagger as it fell from his hand and took him to the floor. Eric watched in horror as the demon sat over him and pressed his own dagger to his neck. He started to scream but she waved a hand and his mouth clamped shut.
“I know you are confused,” Leila said as the sharp blade easily cut through the soft flesh of Eric’s throat, “so let me explain. The rites and rituals were never yours to command. We fed them to your kind ages ago so that we may do as we please. The words, the symbols, the incantations… all provided by us. The only thing humanity offered was enough self-important cockiness to think they could control something immortal.”
Blood ran freely across the floor, flowed over the symbols, and opened a portal back to the demonic realm. The ablated symbols etched themselves into the book still held by Seth. With each mark that was transferred to the pages, Eric’s spirit became further embedded in the book, ensuring his damned soul would be eternally bound within.
Leila laughed as Eric released his last breath. “You never even questioned what use a dagger would have when dealing with immortal beings. Silly man,” Leila said as she patted his cooling cheeks. “The dagger was always meant for you.”
~ Zack Kullis
© Copyright 2015 Zack Kullis. All Rights Reserved.