The cavern was an endless expanse of darkness. At the center of it all, was the dim light of a small gathering, unlike anything the place had seen in ages. Sylus sat with his hands around a warm mug of something that constituted tea, his mind still struggling to return to the present. It bounced between the screaming voices in the Void and a strange sense of nothingness. Qaitax and Saari sat across from him, watching as he dipped and swayed in and out of consciousness.
“That was quite the event, was it not?” Qaitax chuckled nervously.
Sylus continued groaning in agony.
“I am pleased to see you and my little gift have arrived safely…”
“Is the Void really that loud?” Sylus winced as he gripped the side of his head, “I can still hear them…”
“Them?” Qaitax was taken aback.
“Y-yeah… There’s… more than one voice in there…”
“Ugh,” Sylus groaned as he found himself alone with his thoughts. “It’s like a really bad hangover and everyone’s screaming at you for breaking the fine China…”
Qaitax and Saari glanced at each other.
Shaking his head, Sylus was finally able to take in his surroundings. Qaitax was nothing more than a vaguely humanoid torso propped up on a tendril. It very much resembled a hand puppet of sorts. His humanoid appearance was uncanny, but not uncomfortable. Next to him sat a young woman garbed in white holding a carved white staff. A hood obscured her eyes, but judging from where a pair of horns seemed to emanate from, Sylus wondered if she had eyes at all.
“Sylus?” Qaitax reached across the table, placing a hand on his shoulder, “Are you ready to talk to…”
Sylus raised his finger as a queasy sensation bubbled up inside of him.
“Drink the tea,” Saari announced, her voice a velvety deep tone, “It will help you shake away the chill of the Void.”
Sylus had little desire to drink anything right now, but if she was telling the truth, he was desperate for the world to stop spinning for longer than a second. He lifted the mug to his lips. The liquid was still very hot inside, but he drank it all anyway. He sat for a long moment waiting for it to take effect. Every moment of clarity was fleeting until he felt the chaos subside. He sat still a moment and looked around himself. Still feeling vaguely bewildered, but more grounded than a moment ago.
“I-I think…” he paused a moment as he felt the dizziness returning. It subsided and his mind was clear again, “I think I’m okay now…”
Qaitax nodded. “Sylus, this is Saari.”
Sylus turned to her with a nod.
“I can see him just fine, my Lord,” she spat, the gentleness of her voice had turned harsh.
Qaitax sighed. “This is difficult for all of us, Saari…”
She folded her arms across her chest.
“I will retrieve more tea,” she picked up Sylus’ cup and left the chamber.
Qaitax sagged a bit on his tendril stalk, “She is very unhappy with all of this…”
“Can you really blame her? She doesn’t even know me and I’m going to be taking you away from her…”
Qaitax shook his head, “You both misunderstand. I am not going anywhere. I am not going to die. I will still be here. With you, Sylus. At least… I hope for as much. There’s a chance that one or both of us could still be utterly destroyed in the process, but I have faith…”
“I know this isn’t comforting to hear, but it is the truth.”
“Deals with the devil always come with a risk,” he leaned back into his stone-wrought chair.
“Before we begin the discussion of our procedure, I must ask something very delicate of you.”
“And that is?”
“Saari is a very noble and proud individual. She is also very obstinate. Her view of mortals is perhaps even more hateful than my own. She has known nothing but torment from her fellow Q’taxians. Them casting her aside, is what brought her to me. We share a… very close bond.”
“You mentioned it was some kind of pact…”
“It began as a pact of protection. I claimed her as my servant making her impervious to Q’taxian abuse, but… We were all either of us ever had. We have… grown close.”
Sylus sighed. “Why didn’t you let me talk to her like you talked to my family? Don’t you think that would have helped a bit?”
“Unlike our unconscious connection, I do not believe you had the ability to possess my body otherwise I would have experienced things similar to what I did to you.”
“Yeah… I guess…”
“I know this is all very sudden and rushed and less than ideal, but Saari is very important to me. I promised her freedom of her own. I suggested you may be willing to assist her in acclimating to your world. I never promised as much, merely suggested.”
Sylus stared at him.
“She is… Fully prepared to fend for herself, but I would beg you to consider helping her adjust.”
Sylus shrugged, “You’ll be there, won’t you? Rattling around in the back of my mind?”
“That is my hope.”
“Do you think she’ll ever trust me?”
Qaitax sighed, “Trust has many levels. The trust of an ally, a friend, family… Very different degrees. Do not expect Saari to trust you with her every need early on. She already sees weakness as failure and I know in this new world she will be severely handicapped.”
“Can she…” Sylus wasn’t sure how to ask without coming across insensitive, “Can she see?”
“I-is she blind?”
Qaitax balked from the table, “In a sense… Her sight is routed through the Void. What she sees is how the Void would interpret our reality. It is different than how, say, you or I see the world, but it is clear enough for her to navigate.”
“But you’re a void-thing… Wouldn’t you and her see things the same?”
Qaitax settled against the table, tapping his fingers nervously across his surface, “Do not tell her, but Saari is more a spawn than I am anymore.”
Sylus raised an eyebrow.
“She is far more powerful than I am…” Qaitax’s voice had dropped to a low whisper.
“Does that… make her a threat? To… To us?”
Qaitax sighed heavily, “I do not believe so, but… Please understand, Saari is more than my charge. She is an invaluable ally to your cause.”
“And what is my cause?” Sylus snorted.
“Protecting the people you love, is it not?”
Sylus leaned his arms on the table.
“Saari is… Superior to me in every way.”
Sylus ran his hands down his face.
“She does not believe that, nor would she ever raise a hand against me, but… She could. She is capable of doing me serious harm.”
“Is your respect for her out of fear?” Sylus mumbled into his hands.
“Not at all!” Qaitax chuckled, “She did this to herself. She took a meager gift of power and turned it into something far more than I could ever offer her.”
“If she has the power to kill you, do you think she’d use that on me?”
“Ah, a valid concern, however, an unnecessary one, I believe. I am fairly certain, once we come together, we will be a very different creature with a different set of powers. We might be weaker or stronger than I am now, but Saari would not be comfortable with testing your strength. She would watch and see what you were capable of before risking anything. By then, I should hope she would consider you, at the very least, an ally worthy of her trust.”
“So she’ll be watching me like prey?”
“Think of it this way. If you abuse our power, she will keep you in check.”
Sylus pursed his lips.
“She is taking quite a while to return…”
“Should someone… Go check on her?”
Qaitax leaned on the table, “I could tap into her mind to find her, but… I know where she is. Outside this chamber is the Temple, one of the few places left with running water. It is a rather large place, but it is open. She is likely at the pulpit. That is where she goes to think.”
“Maybe you should see if she’s okay?”
Qaitax shook his head, “I cannot leave this chamber.”
“But I can…” Sylus sighed as he stood up.
“Thank you, Sylus. This is a show of good faith that I very much appreciate.”
“Well, if she’s going to be part of my life now, I should probably try to get to know her a bit, huh?”
Qaitax nodded with a grin on his face.
Sylus sighed heavily, “Don’t let her kill me. Please.”
Qaitax settled into a sad grimace, “She is more upset with me than you. I don’t think she’ll cause you any harm.”
“Why would she be mad at you?”
“She sees this entire situation as a massive betrayal of her loyalty.”
“I don’t expect her to be my servant or anything. As far as I’m concerned, she’s free once this is all over.”
“And that is the truth of things. With my ‘death’, she will no longer be bound to me, but… It isn’t that simple to her.”
“How could it be, if all she’s ever known is your constant presence?”
“Indeed…” Qaitax’s voice shook.
Sylus began heading towards a dimly lit tunnel.
“I am not asking you to befriend her,” Qaitax called after him, “I am not asking you to bring her into your family, but I would beg you to at least speak with her. I would rather you both at least know each other a bit before everything changes…”
“I’m gonna try…” Sylus smiled before leaving the chamber.