It was working! It was actually working! Tenshin stood there in amazement, his latest project: Demonic Premonition had gone off without a hitch! Bobbing and weaving his way past Alliance guards and civilians, he wormed his way into the deepest room of their mages hold. Every Human, Gnome, Dark Elf, and Dwarf easily picked up as a mental ping in the undead’s mind, demonic energy alerting him of every enemy presence, allowing him to sneak better than even the stealthiest assassins and thieves. This ability was exactly the thing he needed to be useful to The Grim’s cause. And with only a little effort, the scholar had brought himself in front of one of the Alliance mage’s most well guarded secrets, the ritual book for summoning an eldritch golem.
Tenshin would have been smiling ear to rotted ear could he have. But as he reached for the enticing book, he was stopped just short.. Turning his gaze down in surprise as bloodied claws grasped him, a dark portal opening wider and wider behind his body as he was sucked away in a mere instant and flung into somewhere.. Unnatural, yet familiar.
It was the Twisting Nether, or at least a part of it. The undead’s senses coming back to him and showing a picture of a blighted tunnel with no end in sight, made up of a purple, tainted stone-like material and filled with a haze that carried a sense of unease with it. Tenshin had studied the nether extensively, but never traveled there as it was deemed unwise for all but the most skilled of warlocks.
This… was not good. Not only was his hearthstone not responding, but neither was any attempt at external communication. The forsaken was trapped. His only company materializing next to him, made of a blue void and golden shackles. It was Tangtaz, his loyal defender, familiar of many years.
After hours of what seemed like walking in circles, the demonologist heard the slightest ‘psst’ from a crack in the tunnel wall. “Over here!” the jesterish voice said, drawing the undead to slide through the crack and into a kind of dark, small area, littered with gnawed bones and mortal’s clothes.. It was a demon’s den, and at that thought Tenshin drew his staff in a defensive stance before a loud screech echoed through the chamber, a flying figure disarming the demon master of his wooden staff and nearly knocking him over had Tangtaz not held his master up from the blow.
“Hahah, stupid human! Prepare to be mince meat for Gryph-!.. Uh.. You’re not human.” The demon said bluntly. It was a Kahe, Tenshin remembered from one of his daemon illustrations. A bird-like demon that feasted on the leftovers from other demons, not unlike a buzzard. This one, however, appeared to be at the end of its life, feathers falling from wings, and scars adorning its body.
“Oh, c’mon!! I tell Gaimon and Hecate to bring me some humans to munch on and they grab you?! I’m on the brink of death here and they bring me some rotting left-for-dead?! You’re not even worth the time to bite into, you walking carcass!” The avian groaned, very plucky for a demon.
“You dare to insult my master? You dare to-” Tangtaz spoke up, his voice quickly cut off,, replaced with the bird’s own. “Yea I’ll insult you too, you oversized blueberry!”
This drew a recoil from Tangtaz, his glowing eyes sharpening into a fierce stare before the avian demon continued. “Listen bud.. Buds.” His voice grew unnaturally serious. “You’ve been trying to use demonic energy to track non-demonic things, haven’t you?” The question causing both Tenshin and his familiar to look at each other, a secretive gaze between them. How could such a lesser, gruntish demon know so much about the demonologist’s recent endeavors? The two of them looked back at the suspicious flying figure, who slowly closed in, offering an explanation. “You know what else hunts the mortals up there using the same stuff? Demons, mold for brains! You can’t just willy-nilly use demon sense without being an actual demon, you’ll raise all kinds of red flags!”
Tenshin raised a brow, shaking his head and flicking his hand in a one-armed shrug, a motion that questioned the flying demon’s reasoning.
“What’s the matter, can’t talk or something? Hah!” The bird started, making fun of the undead’s missing jaw. “You can’t.. Ergh.. Do you know how hard this is to explain to a non-demon?” He questioned, both the scholar and his familiar’s eyes lowering into an impatient look. “Okay, ants, right?” He questioned again, not drawing much of response. “Sorry, was that too fast for you? ANTS. Little crawly bugs, bunches of them in one spot. Can’t step in them or they’ll give you one bad case of leg rash, yeah? They use smells to communicate with each other.. Where food is, where danger is, you get it.” The bird paused, drawing inquisitive looks. “Well while your very blue, blobbish buddy there and I are like ants.. You are more like a cockroach, my friend. Sniffin’ up our smells and leaving one big nasty stink of your own. That’s how demon sense works.”
The forsaken held a bony finger and thumb to his chin, compounding his thoughts slowly until the feathered demon spoke up once more. “So unless you want to get swarmed by ‘ants’ and get taken down into the anthill to be served like a 3 course meal, you’ll need an actual demon to do that kind of work for you, and Mr. Genie out of the bottle there doesn’t know the first thing about scouting.” He finished with another insult, looking over to the obedient voidwalker.
“Then we.. will enslave you, flighted cur…” Tangtaz spoke, eliciting a panicked look from the chatty bird.
“Geez, does this guy ever listen? I really don’t know why you keep him around. I. AM. DYING. Capiche? Two.. Three days tops and I’ll be nothing but dust in the wind! But you’re a warlock, right? Only way I’ll live is if you get me out of here and stick me in some mortal’s body. You do that, and I’ll tell you where to find someone that you can be just the best of teammates with! So what d’ya say, O’ Silent One?” he finished, awaiting the jawless Forsaken’s response.
“Liar…” The ghostly familiar rasped out, suddenly lunging at the flying demon and ensnaring it with shackled claws, presenting the writhing catch to his master as the bird’s beak opened in panic. “What the hell are you trying to do to me?! I told you, without a host you won’t even have me for a week!” He protested, Tenshin holding one hand over the lesser demon’s head while the other slid into a faintly glowing pouch. “Stop it! Stop it!! You’ll kill us both! We’ll never get out of here!! You’ll- GLCK..” The bird’s speech was stopped, the voidwalker’s claws open to reveal a soul shard, impaled into the loudmouthed demon’s stomach it glowed more and more intensely, the feathers and flesh that surrounded it turning to liquid, like a black flowing tar. The dark liquid moved of its own accord, creeping along the undead’s body until it reached his decrepit head, ink-like fluid pouring and seeping into the scholar’s eye sockets, nose, and even exposed throat until there was none left. And with a crack to the left and right of the undead’s head, there was a noise in his mind.
“You have got to be kidding me.” The familiar voice groaned. “You must be some kind of masochist! You realize you have to sustain me forever now, right? All so you can get the drop on a bunch of stupid mortals. Of all the beings I could have ended up in, you had to go and make it an undead. Do you guys even have souls?” The incessant avian continued, materializing it’s body next to the demon researcher. Tenshin then spoke in his own mind, ‘You’ll live forever now, provided I don’t perish.. Now lead us, bird.’
“Ohh.. Pushy pushy.. You could at least call me by my name! It’s Gryphus! And what do I even call you anyway?” The feathered familiar asked, looking at the mute, ignorantly expecting an answer. “Riiight… I’ll just call you ‘boss’ then. Sound good? Now.. What level were we on? 3rd or 307th? Lots of steps to climb heheh, I can’t tell you how many times..” The avian trailed on, the three of them setting off for the surface.“We should report this to the Inquisitors, master..” The blue familiar informed, yielding a nod from the scholar.
‘I just hope selling my soul to this unrelenting bird proves a well enough sacrifice to The Grim…’ he thought.
“Hey, I can hear that, y’know!”