Camp NaNo: Silk and Steel
And now we switch back to Vraxi and Xander who are now at home… (eep I hope this is still making sense!)
“Tighter!” Xander grimaced, gritting his teeth against the pain.
Vraxi looked at him with concern, “Are you sure?”
“Can’t… take any risks…” Xander panted, cold sweat glistening on his skin, his veins and muscles already looking as if they were fit to burst.
Vraxi sighed and took hold of the leather straps once more, tightening each one another notch so that they cut deeply into his companion’s flesh. “You really don’t look comfortable,” he said, shaking his head. “Are you certain, my friend, that you are not being a little melodramatic about all this? A little sadistic perhaps?”
“Shut. Up.” Xander’s voice came in bursts of guttural snarls and Vraxi laid a delicate hand on his heaving chest, resisting the temptation to trace around the intricate sigils tattooed there, and peered into his companion’s eyes.
“My fear for you, Xander, is that you have not yet accepted the fact that none of this is your fault.” the Yag said gently, “you appear to be punishing yourself for something others have done to you.”
I’m going to kill him, Xander thought helplessly. Whether I want to or not at this rate. “Just. Shut. Up.” he managed. He could feel the demon inside him roiling with anticipation, knowing it was about to be released, desperate to make the most of its few short hours of control.
Vraxi wasn’t an idiot, nor was he naive, they had been through this vigil many, many times before over the years they had been together, but still the Yag persisted in his ridiculous belief that the demon inside Xander was not as bad a thing as Xander was making out.
“Get away from me!” Xander spat, his back beginning to buck and strain, his mouth filling with blood as he ground his teeth hard, struggling to keep the demon back until the idiotic Yag was at a safer distance.
Vraxi sighed and raised his hands in surrender, “As you wish.” He turned and seated himself in an arm chair at the far side of the room. It vexed him greatly that Xander couldn’t see the potential of his situation – a demon! Not some insipid half-thing… Vraxi grimaced and tried to dismiss the unexpected twinge of guilt that stung him as he thought of Edmund… but a real, actual demon with powers and knowledge beyond even his own wildest dreams.
If only he could convince Xander to stop treating this awesome creature inside him like an enemy, if only they could all sit down, the three of them, and discuss a mutually beneficial path towards a lucrative and luxurious future…for all of them. Vraxi smiled slyly and his thoughts strayed to his coat pocket where the four vials of demonsong jostled lightly against his chest. He crossed his legs, folded his fingers patiently and settled down to wait, soon Xander would be gone for a while, and Vraxi dared to hope that with the right words and the right bargaining tools, this so-called monster might prove more malleable and receptive than his stubborn companion.
The transformation part was boring. It was always boring, the Yag reflected, examining his nails and trying to block out the screams and rabid gargling sounds emanating from his friend’s body as the demon clawed its way up to the surface of his consciousness. All so melodramatic – and all for nothing. Xanders body didn’t actually change a bit and this, Vraxi thought, seemed proof enough that if Xander stopped fighting his demon and found a way to co-exist peacefully with it, their lives, in every respect, could be a lot more interesting.
“Welcome back.” The Yag said breezily, when he was certain that there wasn’t a trace of Xander’s consciousness left in the room.
“I have a proposition for you, my friend,” he paused and winced a little at the gargling and snorting and generally feral cacophony emanating from his friend’s throat.
“Phlem?” he asked, proffering a silk handkercheif, “I know some suffer with it dreadfully in these cramped and unhygienic living conditions.”
The demon suddenly snapped its head round to fix him with a smouldering red gaze.
Vraxi tucked the handkerchief back in his pocket and spread his hands. “Are you able to speak?” he asked, “or is this to be a one sided conversation?”
“Why would a great and all powerful being like me, wish to consort with a ridiculous little imp like you?” The demon growled, and a wide grin spread across Vraxi’s face as his colour burned and surged within him. Consort? He thought, resisting the urge to rub his hands together, now there’s a novel idea…
“Oh, well, no reason at all I suppose,” the Yag said conversationally, reaching inside his pocket and pulling out one bottle of the demonsong and toying absently with it between his delicate fingers. “Just thought you might be bored, you know? In need of stimulating conversation once in a while? It must be decidedly dull, my friend, to always have to be chained up like this, suppressing your desires…” he raised his eyes from the bottle and struggled hard to contain his glee when he saw the demon gazing at it with rapt attention.
“Where did you get that?” it whispered, its voice sounding so much like Xander’s that the Yag was almost stunned.
Vraxi caught himself and smiled sweetly, “the voices of your kin are quite easy to come by, for someone like me,” he lied smoothly, “is it true that with demonsong you can take full control of a human body… override some of those inconvenient sigils the church has carved into his flesh and be yourself for a while?”
He had his answer in the ferocious yearning playing across the demon’s features – a mixture of anger, confusion, hatred and hope that was sooooo delicious the Yag thought it quite a shame to have to end it.
“Marvellous.” he said at last, when he could reasonably drag the moment out no longer,“I thought as much.”
He rose and walked over to the bed, coming up close, drinking in the sight of the demon’s sweat-slick skin, straining sinews and wary golden gaze… such a travesty to try to tame such raw and beautiful power with these cruel constraints, the Yag thought sadly, trailing his fingers gently over the leather straps and the angry reddened skin between. A travesty of course that this was ever done to a demon in the first place – binding it with a lesser being in order to create a killing machine. But was killing all these mighty creatures were capable of? The Yag sincerely hoped not; kill the mouse and the game is over, and what then? he wondered. It was a dull aproach to life, to be sure – though he seemed to have accidentally surrounded himself with people who favoured it.
“You really don’t look comfortable,” he said for the second time that evening. “So tell me my friend, now that you know what I can do for you – what might you do for me… and Xander here… in return? You will find this a city of opportunity and delight, if you choose to make us your allies.”
The demon frowned and his eyes began to smoulder disdainfully.
“Or…” Vraxi said, dancing back to the chair in a bizarre and whimsical fashion, “I could sit back here as usual and watch you gargle and groan for a few hours, before the sun comes up and my dear Xander returns.” He seated himself in the chair, crossed his legs, folded his delicate fingers over his knee and waited.
“What is it that you want, Imp?” The demon growled and Vraxi’s grin was irrepressible as he thought of all the things Vraxanthrin Bane wanted… “Let us proceed, one step at a time,” he said carefully.