OG Q’taxians #5: Cassidy Jones.

  • by

Cassidy Jones was a ten year old girl who lived in a mansion by herself. She had parents, of course, every little girl does, but they were never there. She didn’t know much about them. She’d forgotten what they look like. They came and went like wisps in the wind. Sometimes she wouldn’t even notice they had been home save for the occasional farewell note left on the refrigerator. If she was lucky, they might restock some food. She wasn’t sure if they even knew she existed. The notes always seemed to be written in a distant and disconnected way, but she kept them in her bedside table. There were two distinct sets of handwriting. She had no idea which belonged to who. They were always just signed “Your Parents”. Again that was if they were left at all.

Cassidy had grown accustomed to living alone. She could use the microwave well enough and had just started learning how to use the oven. Just follow the directions. Easy enough. So long as she kept to pre-made food it wasn’t that difficult to manage. But sometimes she could smell her neighbours cooking. They may well be on the edge of the mist, but people still lived around her.

They were the types to ignore the mist… Even when freakish things lingered just on the edge as if waiting for one of them to cross the line. Cassidy used to stand on the edge and stare at them as they paced. Long gaunt beings with Y’s made of tendrils for heads. They had giant wings she’d never seen them use and long spindly limbs with three toes and stubs that resembled thumbs. Sometimes they just sat there, “staring” back at her. It was hard to tell since they had no eyes, but they seemed to be looking directly at her. She’d try talking to them, but the neighbours didn’t like it. They thought she was inviting them to the edge and giving them reason to cross the barrier. There was one that seemed to try to respond. It yelped and screeched and growled at her, none of it seemed all that threatening. It spoke when spoken to and had started imitating her movements. Like waving. She called him Quip. It was a word her parents had left in a letter once. She’d yet to look it up, but she liked the sound of it.

Quip was different from the other gaunt beings. It had scars on his upper tendrils, its tail looked like it had been partially cut off, and it seemed to be missing a finger on its left foreclaw. Sometimes, when the cookies did well, she’d buy some meat to throw to him. At first he’d eat it like a ravenous beast, but over time, he came to handle it with his claws and bit into it in a more civilized manner. In exchange for the meat, he’d roll strange crystals out of the mist. She didn’t know what they were, but she held onto them. They were a vibrant purple that glowed in the dark. She liked them a lot and Quip seemed to know that. She thought of him as a strange friend. A friend she desperately needed as someone who lived so terribly alone.

Besides Quip, her life was fairly mundane. She made herself a frozen breakfast every morning and made her way to the bus stop on weekdays. Everyone in the hamlet knew she was cohorting with a voidspawn so it made the ride to school very uncomfortable. The children had taken on their parent’s mistrust. Her only human friend wasn’t much of a friend. Alicia Freined. A rather typical bully of a girl. She had her clique that didn’t even like her, but they clung to her for her perceived wealth. She enjoyed bragging about having all her adult teeth already which meant she was the most mature girl in the class. Cassidy still had a few baby teeth, but it didn’t exactly leave her sitting up at night worrying. Alicia would target Cassidy over her frizzy orange hair or her freckles and, depending on how she was dressed, the marks on her shoulders. Sometimes, if she was feeling really vile, her lack of parents. It used to sting, but after a while, it just rolled off Cassidy’s back. She couldn’t let it get to her.

Every Sunday morning Alicia would come by with her mother to collect the cookie money. If Cassidy was lucky she’d get her 10% commission. If they were in a bad mood or she didn’t sell enough, then she was out of luck. Those were lean weeks, but she always got by. The arrangement was simple. Alicia was a scout and her mother was a scoutmaster. They ran the only unit in almost fifty miles so it was a big one that catered mainly to families living along the mist who couldn’t afford to leave. Alicia’s mom fancied herself a prim and proper woman with a god complex that allowed her to do no wrong. She also liked to pretend she was wealthy, but Cassidy had her suspicions between the clearly fake diamond on her finger and the knock-off designer bags. Alicia’s mother was also a busy busy woman who had very little time for anything outside her schedule. The thought of taking a day to sell cookies with her daughter was unconscionable. Alicia didn’t want to do it anyway, but she needed to be the best in her unit. That’s where Cassidy came in.

Cassidy wanted to be a scout, but she had no means of paying dues or reliable transportation. Her affiliation with a voidspawn made people wary of having anything to do with her, so a ride was really out of the question. Alicia would lend her a uniform and give Cassidy her supply of cookies. There was a sales quota and an agreed commission rate. Alicia didn’t care about numbers. She cared about being the best. Her mother kept the numbers, she got to brag in front of all her little friends. Cassidy was just happy for the income even if they made her feel terrible sometimes.

She tried to sell cookies every day after school, but it was difficult to get home, get changed, gather everything, and then walk back out to the shopping center. She had to do it, though. She needed the money. She knew that the house had bills, but she never saw them and the power never went out. It wasn’t as though she could afford them anyway. She figured that meant her parents were still around somewhere. Why couldn’t they come home and hang out sometimes…

Saturday was the big sales day. If she was going to meet her quota, Saturday was the day she’d get it done. Every Saturday was pretty much the same. She’d get up a bit later than she would for school, take a shower, try to see the where on her back the markings on her shoulders went, give up, get dressed, gather all the cookies and her table and chairs. She would stuff the chairs into the folded table. It didn’t close properly, but she put some rope around it to keep it shut. The cookies were carried in backpacks and recyclable grocery bags. She’d drag the table as she carried everything else. It was incredibly difficult. She’d often drop things or have to stop to rest, but she’d always end up beating herself up for not setting up on time. The goal was to have everything ready by 10am. Usually she met that by the skin of her teeth. She’d do crazy business around lunch time and then it would just die off. If she could make it to six or seven, there’d be a small “desert” boom. She’d hawk her wares and occasionally call people out when she thought she could manipulate them into a sale. Much of her sales were just people passing by or kids shaking their parents down. Rarely did her targeted marketing work.

Cassidy knew she was going to be in trouble this Sunday. She’d handed over too many boxes without taking any payment. She knew Alicia and her mother would notice immediately. It would come out of her commission, but she couldn’t help it. Argile was worth more than five boxes of cookies but that was all she had to offer. She sat up nervously all night, trying to come up with ways to explain the missing boxes without taking the blame. She knew it wouldn’t matter either way, since the money wasn’t there she’d lose it whether it was her fault or not. She couldn’t sleep. Instead, she got up and went outside. She walked several houses down to the edge of the mist. Quip happened to be there, lying curled up on a sidewalk.

“Hi Quip,” she said weakly as she sat down on the pavement on her side.

The creature lifted its head.

“Sorry to wake you up… I just can’t sleep…”

Quip looked up at the sky behind her. She turned to around to see the moon shining bright in the darkness of night. It always looked so massive these days. The light from it was so bright that it could almost pass as sunshine. She turned back to Quip.

“You can’t sleep either, can you?”

It shook its head as it approached the edge of the mist. It sat on it’s high haunches and stared at her, its wings wrapped around its shoulders.

“Oh! You’re a void thing, right?”

Quip nodded slowly as if it knew that was a fairly obvious question.

“Have you met Sylus?”

It looked at her quizzically. That wasn’t a string of words it was familiar with.

“Oh, um… What was his name…” she thought a moment before blurting out, “Qaitax! Do you know him? He’s a void thing too!”

Spines rose on its back as it slowly stood up.

“You don’t like him?”

The gaunt slowly backed away from the mist’s edge.

“I didn’t mean to scare you!” she called out to it, “If you’re scared of him, I’m sorry, but he’s my friend too…I think…”

The gaunt reared up on its hind legs and began making a series of shrill shrieks.

Cassidy tried to hush the beast, but the shrieks became wails until they finally settled into whimpers.

“I’m really sorry, Quip… I didn’t mean to upset you… I just thought since you were both void things…”

It mumbled what she thought were attempts at words. Tilting its head back to reveal it’s toothy mouth at the base of the Y of tendrils, it gnashed it’s teeth at her before lowering its head again.

Cassidy thought a moment about what it could mean. The only thing she could think of was:

“He’d eat you?”

Quip nodded vigorously.

“Well not you since you’re still here, so things like you?” Quip nodded in reply, “But you’re different, Quip! You’re my friend… Sylus wouldn’t hurt my friend… I think…” she thought for a moment again. She really didn’t know much about Sylus or Qaitax other than that he was willing to help her sell cookies and is married to the void priestess or something. He seemed like a nice guy, but she’d only just met him. Seemed a bit soon to be calling him a friend… She knew to be more cautious than that. Maybe she was just being hopefully optimistic… “OH I know! I’ll get you a collar. Would you wear one?”

It tilted it’s head as if to question her.

“It’s a little thing that goes around your neck,” she wrapped her fingers around her own neck, “I’ll put your name on it and and say you’re my friend. That’ll keep you safe! How many other things like you have collars? None!” she paused a moment, “Probably none.”

Quip slowly sat back down. Its spines went down and it somehow seemed relieved.

“That’s what I’ll do with my money this week. I bought tons of stuff last week so I’m good on food. I’ll go get a collar so you’ll be safe!”

The tendrils that made up Quip’s face seemed to ripple a bit. The tendrils that wrapped around to make the bottom of the Y seemed to curve upwards ever so slightly. It was trying to smile, Cassidy was sure of it. Her smile grew in return.

Cassidy sat out a bit longer talking to Quip about her week at school and the trouble she was in with Alicia and her mother. Quip seemed to be listening intently. It nodded every so often and attempted rudimentary responses when she asked questions. Eventually, she finally felt tired.

“I know I’m in trouble tomorrow, but I have to get some sleep… It’ll be even worse if I look tired and all messy…”

Quip tilted it’s head back and gnashed it’s teeth again.

Cassidy laughed, “I’ve thought about it, but I don’t want you to get a taste for people.”

The bottom of its face quivered into a smile again.

Cassidy looked around the street. She couldn’t see anyone and most of the lights were out. She turned back to Quip. Slowly, she reached out to it. As her hand moved into the mist, it parted around her. Quip, caught up in curiosity, didn’t notice the mist retreating around it. She stopped just before touching the top of its head. It leaned forwards into her hand. Quip’s tendrils felt like a bunch of snakes wrapped around something. They had a bit of a rough texture to them, but it didn’t hurt. She scratched her fingers where its face would be. It let out a low gravely purring sound. Cassidy smiled. She pet Quip until she started smelling something strange. Quip yelped and pulled back into the mist. There were some burns on the top of his tendrils where he’d leaned out of the mist.

“Quip! A-are you okay?” Cassidy was afraid he’d been injured badly.

It scratched its tendrils with its foreclaws before looking to her again. It nodded.

“Are you sure?”

It nodded again.

Cassidy smiled weakly, “I’ll check back tomorrow. If you’re hurt, I’ll bring something to fix it.”

Quip smiled again as it nodded.

“Good night, Quip,” she stood up from the pavement, “Try to get some sleep.”

It nodded slowly as she began making her way to her house.

“Oh and if you ever see Sylus? Just tell him you’re my friend. I bet he can understand you better than I can,” she smiled and waved at it.

It leaned up on its hindquarters and waved at her with its damaged paw, wagging its stubby tail.

~~~~~~~~~

It was as if no time had passed. A knock came upon the house door. Cassidy sat up with a start. She’d fallen asleep on one of the couches in one of the first floor parlours. It was Alicia. She was sure of it. Nothing was organized and she looked like a mess. She scrambled onto her feet. As she ran to the door, she’d caught sight of her particularly frizzy hair. In a panic, she tried to flatten it. Another knock came, this time it was more rapid.

“Shit…” she hissed as she darted out into the hall. There, just inside the door, where Jeremy had left them, were her boxes. She sighed in relief. They weren’t organized correctly, but at least they were all there.

The knocks came again. This time she could hear the anger and frustration behind them.

“Coming!” she called as she finally approached the door.

There they were. Alicia stood with a look of disinterest on her face and her mother stood beside her with a clipboard in her overly manicured hands.

“Report?” Alicia’s mother asked around the gum she was chewing.

“Oh yeah,” Cassidy dug into her bags. Where was the report? She slowly began to panic as she pulled all of the boxes out of every bag. “Oh no…” she whispered hoping no one had heard.

“Oh no?” Alicia’s mother replied, “You do have the report, don’t you?”

“Um… I… I must have left it…”

“Hello?” a voice came from outside. Cassidy was quick to recognize it.

Alicia and her mother turned around allowing Cassidy to run out of her house.

“Fatman!” she ran up to Sylus standing at the end of her walkway. He was holding a clipboard in his hand.

“Cassidy!” he called out to her with a big smile on his face, “This must’ve fell out of one of your bags. I found it in the boot,” he handed it to her.

“Thank you thank you thank you!” she was nearly in tears.

“Also there’s the matter of this,” he handed her an envelope, “With Saari’s blessing.”

She opened it to find a bunch of twenties.

“I-But-But I gave those to Daniel…”

Sylus looked up that walk. He wasn’t all to surprised at what he saw. He crouched down to Cassidy’s level.

“Are they giving you a hard time?” he spoke to her quietly.

She glanced back at Alicia and her mother who were now in a state of mild confusion.

“Oh,” she turned back to Sylus, “No. We have a deal. I just almost messed it up. But you saved me!” she wrapped her arms around his neck. Sylus paused a moment before reciprocating the hug.

Cassidy pulled away with a smile.

“One more thing,” he smiled as he stood up, “Mind if I join you inside?”

“Oh, um, yeah! Sure!” She grabbed his hand and pulled him to the door.

“Good morning, ladies,” Sylus nodded as he passed the duo in the doorway. He was sure to flash them a sharp-toothed grin.

“So what do you want?” Cassidy breathed as she released Sylus’ hand.

“I want to purchase all of your stock,” he said with a soft grin.

“My… My stock? You mean the cookies?” she stammered. Sylus nodded. “All of them!?” He nodded again. Cassidy was both ecstatic and confused. “A-are you sure?”

Sylus nodded once more, “As you surmised, I’m not exactly the healthiest eater. And while I know this is a terrible decision in the long run, I have decided that I do, indeed, want all of your biscooou-cookies.” he caught himself. He was learning.

“That’s a lot of money…” Cassidy looked around at all her bags full of boxes.

“I’m made of money,” Sylus grinned, “Actually I made of reclaimed flesh and void energy, but who asked?” he chuckled.

Cassidy brought all her bags to one area of the foyer and began counting out all of the boxes. Sylus waited patiently beside her occasionally glancing at the two in the doorway. Smiling, of course.

“Okay. I have forty boxes left. Times $7.50…”

Sylus reached into a pocket in his jacket and handed her a stack of twenties.

“$300. This should cover it,” he handed her the stack.

She counted it and looked up at him when the amount well exceeded $300.

“This…”

“Is enough, yes?” he cut her off.

“I-it’s plenty. Yes. Thank you. All of the cookies are yours,” she counted out $300 and clipped them to her board. Pushing past Sylus, she approached Alicia and her mother, “As you can see, I sold out. Here is the report. I clipped the current sale onto it the rest,” she reached into her backpack, “is in this zipper thing.”

Alicia’s mother slowly took everything from Cassidy. She tallied the boxes and counted the money. Once everything added up, she glanced past Cassidy at Sylus, who was sitting on the floor dividing up the boxes by type.

“Nice sugar daddy you have there,” Alicia’s mother sneered.

“Sugar daddy?” Cassidy glanced as Sylus, “He’s not my dad?”

Alicia’s mother shook her head.

“The woman with the faux pearl necklace and the faux leather seats in her car and a corroded wedding ring on her finger is implying that I’m loaded and funding your endeavors in exchange for something,” he glanced at the woman with a look of mock dismay on his face, “Untowardly!” he gasped, “My good lady, how very low of you. I am but a dessert connoisseur and this young woman’s sales tactics were memorable enough to lure me back to purchase more. The exchange was money for goods. Nothing more. And I am personally insulted you would insinuate otherwise,” his eyes started glowing at the end. His voice changed seamlessly.

Alicia’s mother clutched the clipboard and the money before turning and hurrying down the walk.

“You’re weird,” Alicia snapped, unphased by the whole change in Sylus’ demeanor.

“You’re breakfast if you don’t go away!” Qaitax growled.

“Whatever,” Alicia scoffed as she turned to follow her mother.

Cassidy burst out laughing. The laughing was followed by tears. She knelt down beside him and wrapped her arms around his neck again, “Thank you, Sylus,” she leaned her head on his shoulder.

With a smile, eyes still aglow, Qaitax put an arm around her.

“Is that approval from the voidlord?” she sniffed as she wiped her eyes.

“I-N-I do not approve of mortals,” Qaitax stammered as he withdrew his arm.

“You love me, don’t you?” Cassidy grinned as she batted her eyes at him.

“I am a god of the void! I care not for mortals!”

“That’s a blatant lie,” Sylus replied, “You care too much for mortals. That’s how you got into the trouble you were in.”

“I sought to consume them!”

Sylus scoffed. His eyes were blinking like Christmas lights as he swapped consciousnesses with barely a breath between.

“Not to mention that little homecoming show you put on. You wouldn’t have done that if you absolutely hated mortals…”

“It was an opportunity to seed fear and terror. I took it. That’s what voidspawns do.”

“But with such admiral aplomb!”

“ENOUGH!”

Sylus turned to Cassidy.

“He’ll never admit it, but Qaitax is a softie. Really. Of all the voidlords he’s probably the kindest one you’ll meet.”

“I AM NOT KIND! I am plotting. Planning. Biding my time… My reckoning will come.”

Sylus laughed, “Like hell it will. You’re just as lazy as I am. We’re a match made in hell and you know it.”

The more they swapped, the more Cassidy became aware of slight physical differences between them. Qaitax had an underbite. His teeth were jagged and came up over his upper lip when he closed his mouth. He also slouched. Very badly. Sylus sat up straight and had markedly smaller eyes than Qaitax. Qaitax also carried a different accent. She couldn’t place it, but it probably had something to do with being a voidthing. They were two completely different beings in one body. She knew she should have been upset or disturbed by this weird behavior, but instead, she found herself laughing uncontrollably.

“What do you find so amusing, tiny mortal? I could devour you where you stand!”

“Again we don’t eat humans. Stop with that shit.”

“Yet.”

“No. Never. Stop.”

Cassidy kept laughing.

Sylus smiled. Their conversation turned inward.

She’s not afraid of us.

A good disposition to have for one so young considering how the fate of this world is changing.

Could you afford to be a bit kinder? I know you’re fond of blustering, but she’s a child… Can you save the empty threats for people who deserve it?

Does it mean that much to you, Sylus?

He nodded, It does.

Then I will reconsider my approach to the tiny human.

You have my thanks.

Cassidy’s laughter began to taper off.

“It’s scary and funny at the same time,” she sniffed, “I like it!”

Sylus’s smile grew.

He glanced around the entryway at the copious amounts of cookies he had acquired. He really didn’t want them. Sweets weren’t his thing. Besides, he’d walked here. How was he going to take it all back? They lived closer to Cassidy than he thought, but the fact remained it was a good few miles down the road. A hard trek with arms laden with cookies.

“Soooo…” he began as he picked up a box that just happened to be lying beside him, “I really don’t have a way to get all this home.”

Cassidy wiped her eyes still chuckling a bit as he spoke.

“So how about you keep them all here and I’ll just come around when I want some? You can have any that you want in the meantime,” his smile softened to a gentle grin.

“Eat your cookies?” Cassidy’s voice was a bit hoarse from all the laughter. She cleared her throat before continuing, “But they’re yours!”

Sylus shook his head, “I really don’t eat this kind of thing. It’s nice once in a while but it really isn’t on my diet.”

Cassidy’s entire demeanor shifted. She sagged a bit and the look of joy in her eyes became muddled and distraught. “You don’t eat them?” she spoke slowly.

Sylus coughed into a balled fist, “Not usually. I’m a pretty strict carnivore.”

“Then… Why did you buy them?” the shaking in her voice was no longer from her laughter.

“Because I know Daniel likes them and Saari is developing the worst sweet tooth,” he shrugged a bit with a chuckle, “I suppose that would happen when you go through life without sweets and then are suddenly faced down by the cravings of a ten year old.”

“But… But you don’t want them?”

“Cassidy, love, just because I don’t eat them doesn’t mean they won’t get eaten. I promise. Between all of us, I’m sure they won’t last long,” he put an arm around her shoulder.

“You know… I was watching TV the other day. The guy on there said talking to strangers was bad. He was very serious and looked really mean,” she looked up at Sylus, “I guess if I listened you wouldn’t be here saving my ass from those harpies…”

Sylus gave a boisterous laugh, “Where the hell did you get your vocabulary!?”

Cassidy shrugged, “I watch a lot of TV. It gets really lonely sometimes and I like the sound of other people talking. Even if it’s not to me,” her eyes wandered as she smiled a bit.

“Cassidy…” Sylus’ voice trailed off as his stomach growled, “Well that’s unfortunate…”

“Need breakfast? I have sausage and eggs in the freezer. I don’t know if they’re good, but I have them,” she smiled at him.

He returned the expression, “As much as I’d love to, I really should find something more suitable for my needs.”

Cassidy became crestfallen.

“Hmm… What about you joining us for breakfast?” Sylus tried to fix the situation.

“Us? As in you and Qaitax?” Cassidy laughed with a snort, “I’m ten. I don’t think I should see that kind of thing.”

He gently tapped her on the back of the head, “No, you loon, Saari, Daniel, and I.”

“At your place?” he could hear the excitement barely contained in her voice.

“It’s Sunday so we usually try to hit up Jer for breakfast…” Cassidy didn’t understand, “The diner? You can kinda see it from here if you can get up a bit higher to look over the other rooftops,” he pointed in the general direction of the diner, “In fact…” he thought a moment, “We eat there a lot…” his mind wandered a bit, “Should probably start cooking more…”

“Oh yeah… I can see that place from my bedroom window sometimes. The Diner in the Mist,” she thought a moment as well, “I’ve never gone into the mist…”

“A quick trip won’t do anything damaging. In fact, Daniel’s lived in it for a good chunk of his life and he’s pretty normal,” Sylus chuckled to himself, “As normal as a ten year old boy can be.”

“Well you would know about ten year old boys and their weirdness, right?” she laughed.

Sylus balked. His entire body and mind froze up. His brain racing with screaming confusion paralyzing his ability to think straight.

Please help…

Shall I defuse?

Do something…

Sylus’ eyes lit up.

“The others are on their way to the diner. We should leave soon if we are to join them,” Qaitax stood up, offering a hand to Cassidy. She stood up without taking it.

“D-did I say something wrong?” Cassidy stepped back from Qaitax.

“No. You did nothing wrong, little one. My host has a rather troubled past…”

QAITAX NO!

“It is not something for you to understand, but you should understand that there are some things he cannot control his reaction to. Speaking of his childhood is one of those things.”

“Never talk about when he was a kid. Got it.” Cassidy nodded curtly, “Are we still friends?” She was strangely understanding.

“Friends?”

“Yeah… Are we still friends?”

Qaitax laughed. His laughter was more hollow and echoey than Sylus’.

“You would call a being of split consciousnesses and a desire to devour flesh an ally?”

“I said friend. Are we still friends?” Cassidy stressed the word.

“I… Yes.” Qaitax finally replied.

“What about Sylus?”

“He is… disconnected at the moment,” Cassidy winced a bit, “But I am certain he would agree.

Come,” Qaitax, in all his supposed disdain for mortals, knew the subject had to be changed, “We should begin making our way to the others.” He offered her his hand again and she took it.

As they stepped outside, Qaitax’s head immediately turned to the mist. A wretched smile on his lips. Cassidy followed his gaze. Her heart lept into her chest.

“It seems breakfast has served itself,” his voice was nearly a hiss.

“NO WAIT!” she grabbed the sleeve of his jacket as he was about to bolt down the sidewalk, “That’s Quip! Don’t hurt him!”

“Q-Qui-Quip? Y-you have named a gaunt?” he was genuinely caught off guard.

Cassidy nodded firmly, “Quip is my friend. Just like you are. So don’t you dare hurt him,” she barked.

Quip sat just on the other side of the mist. He seemed to be staring directly in Qaitax’s direction. They stared at each other for what felt like an eternity.

“I do hope you understand that I consume gaunts…” Qaitax turned to Cassidy.

She nodded. “Eat any of the other ones. But Quip is mine. If you eat him, I’ll kill you.”

Qaitax reeled a bit. He could feel Sylus waking up inside of him. A dim echo of laughter in his mind. Like a memory slowly drifting to the surface.

“Very well then,” Qaitax grunted, “I will leave your pet alone. But on one condition.”

Qaitax walked down the walk toward Quip. Surprisingly the limber creature remained still in its place. Cassidy followed quickly.

“To what realm to you align yourself, spawn?” Qaitax spoke directly to Quip, standing with the toes of his shoes just touching the mist.

A series of low barks and shrieks came from Quip.

“A free radical, hm? Align yourself to me, and I will give you my protection. Something it seems you may sorely need, judging by your scars,” Qaitax put his hand into the mist over Quip’s head.

There was a moment’s pause before Quip bowed his head before Qaitax.

Placing his hand where Quip’s face would be, Qaitax muttered a few words Cassidy didn’t understand. As he withdrew his hand, a mark appeared on Quip’s head. It pulsed with purple light before growing dim and barely visible. It remained as a faint mark upon his tendrils.

“You belong to me, now, spawn. Should you bring harm to anyone I call an ally, you will lose that protection. Understood?”

Quip nodded slowly.

“That’s it?” Cassidy looked up at Qaitax. He had a dull look of frustration on his face, “Quip’s safe now?”

“Safe from myself and any other voidspawns that would challenge him, yes.”

“Huh…” she turned to the gaunt, “Did it hurt, Quip?”

It paused a moment before shaking its head.

You know… when I asked you to be nicer… You didn’t have to ward her pet… Sylus laughed from the depths of Qaitax’s consciousness.

“It was the easiest course of action,” Qaitax replied aloud with a dismissive shrug.

“Is the fat man back?” Cassidy looked up at him again. The glow faded from his eyes. The look of frustration shifted into something vaguely resembling remorse.

“I’m here,” Sylus replied with a smile, “I’m sorry about that… It just… It happens sometimes,” he rubbed the back of his neck, “But Qaitax is right. We should get moving.”

He offered Cassidy his hand once more. She took it without hesitation.

Leave a Reply