OG Q’taxians #16: The Lord in Violet.

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Sylus sat at the kitchen bar dozing off with a smile on his face. Everyone was home and while he hadn’t slept very much last night, he knew that particular problem would be coming to an end soon. Today, perhaps. He held a hot cup of coffee in his hands. He and Saari had been up most of the night on the couch watching, or in her case, listening, to old movies. She still managed to find entertainment in things she couldn’t see. Television was one of those things that the Void couldn’t translate, so she would take her horns off, rest her head on his shoulder and listen occasionally asking plot relevant questions especially when something was revealed and not explained. She had caught on the musical queues so she knew when to ask. It was the quietest and most comfortably night either of them had had in a long time, even if the Mist was missing. Sylus still found comfort in knowing that everyone was safe and happy. He and Saari included.

It was very early in the morning when they both decided a shower and a change of clothes was in order. They tried not to think about what exactly the light coating of purple dust on all their clothes and hair was. Everything went right into the washing machine without a second glance.

Saari was in the bedroom taking a nap while he wandered around the house in his underwear. Coffee was the only thing he could think to do. He preferred tea, to be honest, but the gas station never stocked tea. Only this strange brand of coffee that seemed to not exist anywhere else. He usually never thought ahead to buy anything at the grocery store. He already hemorrhaged money into meat so he could avoid hunting. Not that money meant anything, but coffee was cheap and the tea he liked wasn’t. Regardless of his financial security, he still had a problem with spending so much on himself. He viewed the meat as a necessity. It was that or he went out in the dead of night to hunt down other living things. He hated how much he seemed to enjoy hunting. The bloodlust and the utter animalistic instinct to stalk his prey. He feared that he would eventually devolve into some mindless animal if that was all he did. So he turned to butchered meat. It stemmed the hunger, if only slightly. It did enough that he didn’t have to hunt every night. Qaitax was always disappointed with the decision, but he had either come to understand or stopped trying to talk Sylus out of it.

With a smile, he turned to take his coffee out onto the porch. There laid Quip on the two seater swing; his usual hangout.

“Good morning, Quip,” Sylus took a seat beside him. Quip repositioned himself with his head on Sylus’ lap, “Things are finally getting better,” he scratched Quip between his “ears”.

I-is now a good time? Qaitax was uncharacteristically hesitant.

A good time for what? Sylus replied as he leaned back in the chair, closing his eyes.

For… Talking… A strong sense of anxiety came from Qaitax’s words.

You seem… concerned… Is everything…

It is not. And you know that…

Qai… Look… I’m ready to talk, but only when you’re ready, he chuckled out loud, Don’t worry about talking to me. Ever…

There was a long pause. Sylus began idly scratching Quip’s back without opening his eyes.

What he said… About…  Qaitax paused, What Haurex said… About… Me… 

He said a lot… But you don’t have to address it all. I’m not taking his words to heart so don’t worry about that.

There was… a woman…

Oh? Sylus was genuinely intrigued.

The First, is what they called her… When they summoned me… When I… Answered their calls… I chose to do that… I thought… I thought I could control them. I never thought that they would have been prepared to hold me against my will… I never thought… That my freedom… My dream… That it would all end… Qaitax’s words trailed off, I never expected to be torn so thoroughly away from my home. I thought… I’d just… Show up, devour them all, and leave… You know… Voidlord stuff…

Sylus laughed heartily.

I suppose it is humorous to reduce it to that… But that was what I thought… I… I am a very base being… Haurex is right. I let my desire to consume cost me my free existence… Qaitax’s thoughts began to waver, I gave up my place in the Void… My place in the Dream… My sect… Any claim to authority… there was a moment’s pause, I gave up everything… For what I thought would be a quick meal…

The Dream? Sylus asked, furrowing his brows.

The Dream… All Voidlords have a shared presence in the Dream. The Dream is woven by the Sleeper… Haurex called him the Great One… Only Voidlords who seek to earn some higher station use that term…

There’s a higher rank than Voidlord?

Not that any know… We used to discuss whether the Mother, Haurex called her ‘egg layer’… That… That is an insult… Akin to calling a mortal female a ‘whore’… But… We debate on whether or not she was once a Voidlord, but she’s been gone for so long we hardly even remember her… We forget what the Sleeper wants us to. We remember what he perpetuates in the Dream. All Voidlords are awake there while our ‘bodies’ sleep in the Void. We only awake when the Sleeper let’s us… Or when mortals attempt to summon us… Usually we ignore it and just go back to sleep… But… Qaitax chuckled, We all know how that went for me…

So Haurex is sucking up to the guy in charge?

To what end, I can only imagine. Haurex is no more than any other Voidlord. Even if he has higher aspirations, he’ll never be anything more than a Voidlord… While I… Qaitax sighed, I have fallen to much less…

Sylus thought a moment in silence.

You mentioned ‘The First’… was that who…?

Long tale reduced, yes… When I was first captured, I resisted. I fought. I felt them tightening their grips on me. They were confident they would win, but they still feared I’d overwhelm them and destroy myself and them along with me. The First… She was a female among the ancient Brotherhood. She had two horns that came from her head… The came out and curved back over her head. She wore beautiful chains and jewels on them… Her robes were white with gold trim, a strong contrast to the completely yellow robes of the old Brotherhood.

Like Saari…

Indeed, but far more material. Her eyes were a brilliant shade of red, her skin pale and devoid of any tone… She carried a tall white staff… She was an oddity, even for a Q’taxian…

I was on the verge of doing what they feared. I was going to tear myself apart to avoid imprisonment, until she came to me. She spoke to me as an equal. At first I was disgusted. How dare a mortal think they can speak to me on common ground. How dare she… Until she told me the point of her existence. They had bred her… Made her… Moulded her… To perish. She was supposed to be bait. She was supposed to taint her flesh to the point of subduing me long enough for the trap to take hold completely. She begged them to allow her to try to reason with me. She said she had no intention of leaving my chamber alive. Yes… I… Did things… With her… I… Was… Curious… and she… she was as well… She’d never known pleasure on any level… She was dressed in the finest clothes and kept in the finest cage… We spent time together. Talking… I let her win me over. I let us interact in ways I shouldn’t have… I indulged in base desires even a Voidlord shouldn’t have… And then… when it was all over… I fulfilled the desire I’d come to sate… I consumed her… Leaving only her horns and her staff behind… The same artifacts I bestowed to those I chose as my Voice. The first Voices could wear them on their heads, like she did, until the Q’taxians took up the blinding… I changed the horns accordingly.

There was a long, drawn out pause.

And with that… In those precious moments of somber calm… The trap sealed itself and I had no hope of ever escaping…

“Was there love?” Sylus strained to speak with his head tilted back.

I do not believe there was enough time for love… but there was a connection and an understanding…

Could there have been? Sylus replied in thought.

There was a moment’s silence.

Perhaps…

They remained in silence for a while.

Had I still been in that trap… The Q’taxians would have caught on to my waning power… The Brotherhood already knew… They would have tried to summon a replacement… Haurex… He would have come… He would have consumed me… I would… Have been gone…

Sylus pursed his lips.

Haurex… was right… In that moment… at that time… I needed you… I needed you more than you needed me. I needed to escape. I needed to be free… And in that moment… You were my only chance… Had you declined… I would have consumed what remained of you and been left waiting for my impending demise…

Does it ever bother you?

Hm?

That I… I… I consumed you… Your body… The body you were born with… I broke it down… for my own needs… Does that… ever bother you?

Sylus sat upright, his mind parsing his reactions.

To be fair… I never felt like it was my body… Sure I lived in it, but it never felt like it was mine… Does it bother me that it was destroyed? He shrugged, On some strange almost alien level, maybe? But deeply? Not really. I have the body I want now… You gave me that. The price of that old heap was a small price to pay for being who I’d always wanted to be… a thought occurred to him that forced a small laugh, Did I at least taste good?

He could feel Qaitax give a sad laugh.

I wish I could say I didn’t indulge in something like tasting my prey… But I do. Q’taxians are tough and they all taste the same. No two look anything alike, but they all taste like Voidtainted flesh which is uninteresting because it’s the same thing lesser Voidspawns taste like…  You? I will admit, you were something different. You had no raw fear… But you were full of regret and longing… Something I knew I could use to turn you in my favor… Qaitax could feel Sylus growing uncomfortable, My… feelings… about… you… Have changed… I… would be lying… If I said… I didn’t see you as a tool… a means to an end… His discomfort was turning to rage, But… It’s different now…

Is it? Are you sure I’m still not a means to an end? Sylus was growing increasingly defensive.

I have grown… Fond… of you… Sylus Synclaire… Fond of you… of Saari… Of your spa-son. Your son… And even the fiery one… Cassidy… I have grown fond of you mortals… You most of all Sylus… If I have to be as forward as Haurex, I’m afraid that won’t happen. I do not believe in empty placations.

You said you needed me… That without me… You could never operate this body… Was that true?

There was a pause.

When I said it, yes.

What about now…

Qaitax was incredibly hesitant to answer.

Tell me, Qai.

Qaitax made an attempt to change the subject.

“Answer me,” Sylus demanded aloud.

There was a short pause before Qaitax finally gave him an answer.

No, Qaitax finally replied, No. Not anymore.

So you have no need of me? A deep sense of fear filled Sylus.

I haven’t for a while now… I could easily control this corpse now. I am nowhere near my original strength, but I have regained much over the past few years and it truly is all thanks so you…

“Then why keep me around…” Sylus’ voice shook.

Do you remember what Haurex said? That you should overtake me?

Sylus scoffed, Like I could ever do that…

You could. You could and you can. But you haven’t…

I don’t know how…

Would you if you did, though?

Sylus thought for a long moment.

Would you want me gone if you could be rid of me?

Sylus’ mind raced with emotions.

I owe you much, Sylus. Do not think I hold your presence in low regard. Do not think I think less of you. Even when I needed you wholly and entirely, I was grateful for you. I could never say anything… I had to be the all powerful Voidlord… I had to keep you under some kind of control… It was a show… A bark with no bite to match. And now that I could bite… Now that I could… Erase you… I can’t. I won’t. I never could…

Sylus’ mind went blank.

Being useful matters not, now. What matters… is that you tolerate me. That… I am not alone… Voidlords aren’t alone in the Dream… We have each other… But Haurex… He was right… I will never dream with them again…

You’re afraid of being alone?

Deathly. I was alone for thousands of years. What few moments I had with my sacrifices hardly counted as company. What was once an honored ritual became a painful obligation… I despised even looking at their consciousnesses, but I needed them… But as I asked before… Would you destroy me if you could?

Sylus smiled, Hmm… I really don’t know… He could feel Qaitax smile.

You are my friend, Sylus. For whatever that is worth… I am far from the Voidlord I once was… Perhaps Haurex is right… That you would do better to harness what strength I have and channel it through yourself… Perhaps you would be more potent…

I’d have no idea what I was doing with that kind of power… What strength I have… I really only tap into a fraction of what you have to offer… I let you handle the heavy lifting…

I could teach you… If you want… I could teach you how to harness the powers of a Voidlord…

To what end? Sylus laughed, I have you…

We can’t always switch places and maintain the same drive and intention. We are different beings sharing a body. You should be able to defend yourself or others, if you so choose, in any way you can. Haurex said he’d follow us… As much as myself and his fellow Voidlords think of him as a sniveling whelp, he is likely a lord of his word. We can assume he’ll find us. We can assume he’ll stalk us. We can assume he will be relentless. And we know he’s far more powerful than we are… But you should be able to defend yourself, or at least… put up a fight…

Sylus smiled broadly, Such knowledge won’t break my mind?

I’ve watched you unravel a gaunt and consume it without pausing to breathe… Not that you have to breathe… I’ve made that clear, but it’s something you still tend to do… But either way… I am fairly certain you are beyond mind breaking…

Sylus couldn’t help but laugh, waking Quip up as he did.

I must admire you for that…

“For what?” he laughed as he scratched Quip’s head.

Seeing the difference between a loyal ally and a food source.

Sylus’ laughter stopped as he paused completely.

Like you?

You have it wrong. It was you who taught me. You are not becoming like me. I… am becoming like you. I have more to learn from you and your mortal ways than you have to learn from me… There is so much more to understand when looking through a lens of impermanence… I’ve already learned time, but I’m learning other things now. Through you… Perhaps… I can befriend your friends someday… Perhaps… Someday… Saari… Will stop call us her lord…

Not big on that either, huh?

We are of one mind on that… Saari is a free being. She was bound to me, yes. Once upon a time, when it was necessary, but it isn’t anymore. None of those old archaic rituals serve any purpose any longer… She’s free to be herself. She’s free to call both of us by name…

Perhaps you should tell her that…

Qaitax thought a moment, Then I shall.

Sylus smiled, I think you two have some things you need to talk out as well. I think… Saari… I think she’s still afraid of you… 

Of course she is… She feared me all her life… Fear is not something so easily overcome… But… You are right… I should speak to her… Directly. She… deserves to know where we stand… She and I… 

Sylus nodded, I can tune out of you want…

I don’t think she’d want you to… I think it would offer her some comfort to know you aren’t far…

Sylus smiled again, I doubt you’ll need moderation, but just in case…

But… If it is… alright… I’d like to put that off for another time… I’ve… Had quite a bit of… feeling… with this discussion… I have but one last question…

Yes?

Do you think any less of me?

Sylus laughed loudly, once again disturbing Quip, If anything… I think more of you… That you’re more than some powerful thing just existing in my head… I… I tried to pretend our relationship was a casual one, but I really wasn’t sure if I was upsetting you or not… I… Was always a bit afraid every time I called you Qai instead of your full name… Or big guy… or whatever…

Qaitax laughed, I find your terms endearing. You may, by all means, continue using them.

Sylus smiled as Quip reoriented him to face away from him on the two-seater, his stumpy tail wagging against Sylus’ leg.

I was going to with or without your permission, even if I did have a pang of fear every time.

There was a long, calm silence as Sylus leaned back into the chair, rocking it slowly with his legs.

Are we… okay… then?

Okay? Sylus chuckled, You need to open up more… You already know everything about me…

I… I don’t… I didn’t… I usually read my prey upon their death… It’s a Voidlord thing… When consuming mortal life, we take their memories and use them to augment our impression of the Dream. More color, life, feeling… Things we can’t replicate otherwise. But with you? I only did a quick cursory examination to find useful information. I saw your condition. Your love for your son. Your fear and your regret… I felt your anguish… Other than that? I didn’t have the time to look any further…

But we’ve been together for so long… You haven’t… Taken a peek?

I’ve come to believe that if something needs to be discussed you will bring that thought forward and we will talk about it. I have not looked into your memories nor have I studied your subconscious. These are things you will bring to my attention if and when you are ready to.

I always thought…

At first it was a thing of urgency. I could either savor the disintegration of your consciousness or salvage it and take my chances with escaping my prison. I was too desperate to look any deeper than I had to… Now? I just feel that we are two different beings with two different minds and different things we hesitate to speak on… I will not probe your mind just as I know you will not probe mine.

That… Is incredibly fair…

Sylus was honestly caught off guard. He was beyond surprised Qaitax hadn’t already read him cover to cover. The Voidlord had left him alone with his own thoughts and consciousness…

Besides… If I ever breached that barrier… We would become one. There would no longer be Sylus and Qaitax. Just one being sharing all our thoughts and memories. Neither of us would exist in our own right anymore and as much of a monster I am… I enjoy existing. I’m beginning to like it more and more the longer I’m conscious of it. I’d prefer not to jeopardize both of us over some buried memories.

We’re both monsters at this point… Sylus sighed, There’s no avoiding that…

I know… I changed a lot inside of you… That you are human in appearance only…

All I really have is a brain and a stomach right? He stretched out on the bench.

In the realm of functioning organs? Yes… Well… Now you have a pseudo heart and pair of lungs. Just so you can emulate human homeostasis. Were either to somehow fail, you wouldn’t die. You’d most likely experience shock akin to dying, but you’d bounce back because, well, they’re for aesthetic purposes only.

Thanks for those, by the way… It’s… helped with re-acclimating to being a normal person…

You will never be normal, Sylus. You never were and you never will be. For better or worse, you will never fall into the category of average. And I feel the same applies to everyone who calls you their friend. You are all exceptional mortals.

Sylus smiled.

Except… you are not mortal… 

You promised me eternal life… But the more I think about that… the more it felt like a forced bargaining chip… So I have to know… Can I actually die?

Under very extreme and very specific circumstances? Yes. Are those circumstances even remotely likely? Not at all, but I won’t lie to you about your immortality. Time itself will not erode you since you yourself are not technically alive, but things can happen that may end us. Just know… That if you perish… I do as well. We live and die together.

“Live and die together…” Sylus muttered aloud as he turned to Quip who was getting off the bench to hunt for breakfast.

Others may come and go, but we? We are stuck with each other. For ever. So it would behoove us to make the best of it that we can.

Sylus smiled, Can you tolerate me forever?

Can you do the same for me?

Hmm…

Sylus laughed aloud while Qaitax laughed within.

Feeling better now?

I am… Thank you for listening… and… for not judging me… I deserve judgement, but I thank you for not holding it over me.

We both deserve judgement. I am in no position to judge anyone or anything. I know I’m not perfect and until I am, I have no right to pass any judgements. Do you ever judge my actions?

They confuse me sometimes, but I never judge you. I figure you’re acting in your native mortal ways when you do things I do not understand. I’ll never truly understand mortals, but I’ll do my best to… connect… a bit more…

Then there we are. Judgement free zone here in this head. And try to remember Qai, what you said about living and dying together? Remember that. And never hesitate to speak to me on personal matters ever again. I know you have your own secrets and regrets… I’d rather hear them from you than from someone like Haurex, but for future reference, I plan on taking everything he says going forwards with a heaping pile of salt. I almost wish he wouldn’t bother going down that route… It’s frustrating to me and a waste of his time…

Haurex is nothing if not persistent. He was despised by his fellow Voidlords. We all know we’re the Sleeper’s playthings. That he created us to amuse him in his slumber, yet Haurex… Haurex is the king of jesters. Garish and brash. He will force himself on you… Mentally and physically. You cannot rely on me to help when he excalates things. He can feel me. He can predict my actions… But you? Voidlords, and voidspawns in general, cannot predict mortal behaviours. This is why you must learn how to tap into my strengths on your own. Haurex won’t stand for me intervening and he can easily shut me down. You, Sylus… You have to learn how to defend yourself. He doesn’t think mortals can truly harness void magics, but look at Saari. For as reserved as she is, she is a master of wielding the energy of the Void under her command! Haurex knows this and while it does perturb him a bit to entertain the thought of a mortal even remotely controlling the Void, he could never fathom a mortal controlling the power of a Voidlord. This, Sylus, I offer you freely. My powers aren’t what they used to be, but they should be enough to defend yourself for the time being.

So what you’re saying is… I can tap into the full potential of our merger… without going through you?

Qaitax gave a sign of affirmation.

Don’t you feel that’s a risk? To put all your cards on the table?

We live and we die together, Sylus. If you die because you cannot defend yourself against Haurex, I die. It benefits us both that we share the same power. I am not putting all my cards on the table, I am showing you my hand. Perhaps, in time, you can add to it.

“DAD!”

Sylus sat up on the bench as the door to the house flew open. Daniel came running out. He practically threw himself onto the bench.

“I couldn’t find you… I thought you… left again…” he leaned up against Sylus.

Sylus smiled somberly, “I’m never leaving you again, Dan, not like that. If I ever do have to leave again, I will always come back.”

“Promise?” Daniel wrapped his arms around Sylus.

“I promise, kiddo,” Sylus turned to hug his son

“Thank you…” Daniel sniffed into his shirt. He suddenly pulled away, “And always say goodbye! Never leave without saying goodbye.”

“Goodbye is forever, Dan… How about… See ya later?”

Daniel thought a moment, “I like that better. Never leave without saying that!”

Sylus laughed as he hugged his son close.

“Saari is making bacon,” Daniel mumbled into Sylus’ belly, “She makes good bacon.”

Sylus smiled, “She makes the best bacon.”

“Don’t tell Jer, but she does,” Daniel pulled away as he wiped his eyes.

Sylus guffawed as he stood up taking Daniel into his arms, “You should tell her that!”

“She already has to cook like five pounds of it just for you! I don’t want to put any more pressure on her…” Daniel wrapped his arms around his father’s neck.

“Fair enough, but do tell her you like it, will you? Saari is trying very hard to be family…”

“I thought she already was?” Daniel pulled away to look his father in the eyes.

“You think so?” Sylus looked in the window at Saari and Cassidy making breakfast.

“I know so! She loves us. You, me, Cassidy… She loves us a lot. She makes good lunches and hugs us good night. And you love her! Right!?”

Sylus chuckled, “I do. I love her very much.”

“Then she’s family!” Daniel declared as Sylus reached for the doorknob with a smile on his face and a deep comforting warmth in his heart. Things… were finally looking up.

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