Malefic Society

The Outside

”Crane, do you think Chris can pull this off? ”

A man and a woman with almost identical faces were standing in a dark room lit only with candles placed scarcely around. The man had blonde wavy hair that was neatly combed, while the womans hair, similar in color, was tied in a bun. Both of them had light blue eyes that reflected the candlelight, and the shadows emphasized their chiseled faces.

The room was medium-sized with barely any furniture at all, but the dim lighting cast ominous darkness on its wooden walls, creating a feeling of suffocation.

There was a table placed near the wall where the two people were standing, and on the table, five orange candles were set to form a circle. There was a red sigil under the candles drawn from what looked to be blood, and the sigil resembled two crosses on a swinging pendulum. The flames on the orange candles were flickering, almost like they were dancing slightly, and the shadow they cast looked like a phantom giggling.

On the sigil, there was brass-colored parchment with the same sigil drawn on it. There were characters in an unknown language written under the sigil. Besides the parchment, there was also a giant severed tongue that looked to have belonged to a big mammal, two eyeballs with gaping holes instead of pupils, and dried fingers that seemed to be a humans. The materials on the sigils were emitting a faint orange smoke, as if they were being burned.

”Arghh!!!! ”

There was another man, lying in a fetal position with hands covering his eyes, on the floor on what looked to be a bigger version of the sigil on the table. It was drawn on the wooden floor with red liquid, and around it were five orange candles with flickering flames. The man seemed to be mysteriously confined in the sigil.

”He can. Its just Tier 2, so the pain should still be bearable. I survived it, so he will, ” replied the man. There was a faint violet glow in his eyes as if he was watching everything from a supernatural point of view.

The woman nodded.

Meanwhile, the man on the floor was panting and grunting heavily. He seemed to be in a lot of pain, and drops of sweat started creating wet spots on his shirt, despite the cold room where they were in.

The man opened his mouth wide and tears ran down his cheeks. He felt as if his tongue was stabbed with a flaming fork and was being pulled slowly without any signs of stopping. He could even smell burning flesh coming from his tongue although he couldn see anything because his eyes were still burning.

He kept wriggling, screaming, and panting while bearing with the extreme pain that didn see any sign of stopping. All the while, he was trying to keep his consciousness intact, for he knew full well what would happen the moment he lost it.

”Crane! Cath! Help me!!! ” he wailed and screamed, but the two others just stood there watching. There was even no sign of panic on the onlookers faces.

”This is our fate. You will be next, and we just need to gather the rest of the materials for your ritual, ” the man named Crane said without taking his eyes off the man on the floor.

”Yes, I know, ” the woman replied shortly. There was a hint of sentiment in her tone, ”Thats what father left in his journal before disappearing. This is our only clue to save this place. ”

”What was it again? When the three of us reach Tier 2, the path will reveal itself. I hate the fact that he didn just write what the way was. ”

”Thinking is your thing, so if you can figure out what it is, I won bother. If Chris makes it, that means I just need to reach Tier 2 and well know what he means. ”

Crane nodded.

”Well need Chriss new ability to get your material, so lets pray to our own God that he survives this ritual, ” said Crane solemnly.

After what felt like an eternity, the man on the floor finally calmed down. His breathing gradually became steady as he lay on his back, slowly opening his eyes.

Crane looked at the table on his right and noticed that the materials had all gone. What was left was the orb that was no bigger than a mans fist. The orb was now emitting an obvious orange light that gave off a feeling of uneasiness. It was the feeling of knowing that something unexpected can and will happen at any time.

”Chris, you need to finish the ritual, ” Crane told the man who was still recovering. Now that his face was uncovered, he looked almost identical to the other two in the room. The only difference was that there was an air of playfulness about him.

”I know, I know. Give me a break. I almost died, you know, ” he sighed and got up lazily.

Chris walked up to the table and picked up the orange orb, observing it for a second before swallowing it whole.

Gulp.

”Its never a pleasant feeling, isn it? Its like swallowing those giant pills dad used to force me to take when I was sick, ” Chris said nonchalantly.

Once he swallowed the orb, the flames on all the orange candles around the two sigils suddenly went out as if someone snuffed them out at the same time.

Chris felt the warm orb fall down uncomfortably into his stomach, before dissolving completely. He also felt that his spirituality had become a little stronger. Previously, he felt that his spirituality was just like something unreal that he could faintly feel, but now it had become more integrated into reality. With it, came new abilities that he could use.

”Its not bad! I feel stronger now! Im now a Tier 2 Votary! ” Chris exclaimed with a proud smile. Droplets of sweat still ran down his face, and some got into his mouth as he was smiling wide open.

”Don forget to act as your Goddess wish, or you will lose control, ” reminded Crane.

”You nag like a mom, ” Chris replied indifferently.

”Well, Crane is our mom in a sense, ” Cath joked and Crane just shrugged, ”So lets try out your new abilities. Tell us the details, ” she asked.

”Beg first- ”

Thud!

Without having the chance to finish his words, Cath kicked Chris in his shin, and from his looks, it seemed to have hurt.

”Argh! You need to work on that temper of yours or you won ever find a hus– ” Chris was about to finish his sentence when Cath gave him a death glare, so he didn , ”Okay, okay. Heres my ability, ”

Chris looked at Crane, raised his right hand, and made a gesture that looked like he was grabbing an invisible rope. He pulled the rope in a snap and smiled.

”Now watch this, ”

The man walked out of the room quickly and came back dragging an eerie-looking puppet holding a sharp knife and wearing a big backpack. The puppet, which was just a little shorter than the man, looked to have been made by a professional, but it was designed to look murderous intentionally.

Chris dropped the puppet and his right-hand fingers started dancing in the air as if playing with strings.

Simultaneously, the puppet started moving on its own like a living being. Its movement was smooth; its joints turned fluidly and its small limbs swung through the air effortlessly. It was like watching a puppet show done by an experienced puppeteer.

”So you can copy an ability that easily? ” asked Crane, his chin resting on his right hand in a thinking posture.

”Well, Ive seen you use your ability many times, so I know this one well. If its an unknown ability, I will need to learn it first to copy it, either by watching it being used or by reading about it, ” Chris explained, ”Also, I can only control one, unlike you. So the copied abilitys power is only a fraction of the original, ”

”I see. How many abilities can you copy at once? ” asked Crane.

”Right now, just one, so if I want to copy another ability, I have to remove your Puppet Control first. But watch this, ” Chris said excitedly.

He open his right-hand palm and a tiny orb of violet light appeared there. Chris then twisted his left hand as if he was turning a key, and suddenly, the violet light turned orange.

”Reverse, ” he said.

Once it was done, the light disappeared. The puppet that was standing also suddenly dropped down lifelessly on the floor like its strings had been cut.

”So if your ability is called Puppet Control, I will call this reversed ability Puppet Uncontrol, ” he smiled cheekily.

”Your naming sense is worse than Cranes, ” Cath commented.

”What does it do? You cut control of my puppet? ” asked Crane.

”Yes, try controlling your puppet. ”

Crane nodded and without even moving his fingers, the puppet on the floor began moving like it was alive again.

Suddenly, Chris slashed the air with his index finger as if he was cutting invisible strings, and the puppet dropped down dead once again.

”So the effect of Reverse is the opposite of the reversed ability? Since my ability is to control puppets, the reversed version is the ability to break the control of the puppet, ” Crane analyzed, ”This is exactly what we need to gather the remaining materials for Catherines ritual. ”

”You make my ability sound so simple. With more complex ability, and with more power, the reversed abilities will have more interesting effects, so its just your ability thats one dimensional, ” Chris said defensively.

”What do you mean? So instead of breaking the control, you will be able to make the puppet control the puppeteer instead with Reverse? ” asked Cath.

”Well maybe, who knows, ” Chris shrugged nonchalantly, ”But Reverse doesn reverse the effect of someones ability. Its reversing the effect of my copied ability. So if you are breathing fire I cannot make you suddenly breathe water. I can only copy it, reverse it, and breathe water myself instead. ”

”That is understandable. It is still a useful ability nonetheless. Peculiar, very peculiar, but useful. Just like your Goddesss name, your ability is very suitable to spread mischief. ” said Crane.

”Yes, and since I reversed your ability, my copied ability slot is empty, so I can copy another one, ” added Chris, ”Oh, and also, my Blessing of Stealth is stronger now, ”

”So can we head out now? The sooner we gather the materials, the sooner I will be a Tier 2 as well, ” interjected Cath.

”Its still dark, and the sun will rise about five hours from now, so we have enough time. Lets go quickly, ”

”Can I not come? Its too much work, ” complained Chris.

Thud!

Catherine kicked his shin again, sending a jolt of pain throughout the mans body.

”Why do you think we went through the trouble of getting materials for you? Because we need your Tier 2 ability to defeat those Banshees! ” said Catherine angrily.

”Come quickly. If the sun comes out when we
e out there, well be doomed, ” urged Crane, ”Thompson, pick up that candle and come, ”

Crane made a quick motion with his fingers as if pulling a string and with that gesture, the puppet began moving. The wooden creature walked up to a candle on the floor and picked it up. After that, Crane made the puppet put out all of the candles in the room with its wooden fingers before running to the front of the group, being their source of lighting.

The group exited the ritual room and walked down the hallway. There was a door to the right with what looked to be metal bars hiding in the darkness, and Crane quickly closed the door to the room.

The trio then entered the living room of their small house. There was an old wooden chair placed next to a shelf full of books. Across the chair, there was a crudely made sofa and a table. The wooden wall was ornamented with a single painting that looked to have been drawn by a child; it depicted three identical-looking children with a man that appeared to be the father. Crane took a quick glance at the painting before setting his sight straight ahead.

The three of them then grabbed their own coats and put them on. They were long coats that looked similar in styles, but with slight differences. Chris coat was the shortest, allowing him better movement. Cranes coat had a lot of pockets, while Catherines coat fitted well with her body, showing her elegance while not hindering her movement.

”Mjrn and Martha, come, ” Crane made another gesture with his finger, and two dolls which are smaller than the puppet crawled out from under the sofa. The dolls scurried towards him and quickly climbed over his body before sitting quietly on his shoulders.

”You look like a kidnapper, ” Chris teased.

”Shut up, ” Crane replied shortly.

He then opened a drawer and took out a small object that looked like a dried animal heart. It was small enough to be held in one hand, but something about it seemed mysterious. Staring at it made people feel that they were captivated by the heart and would stop doing whatever they were doing. Crane quickly stuffed the object into one of his pockets.

Catherine opened the door and the group left the house quickly, only to be greeted by a familiar dreadful sight.

It was a starless night with endless darkness blanketing their world. If not for the candles and oil lamps lit by the townsfolk, there would only be pitch blackness as far as their eyes could see.

The sky was like a sheet of black cloth glued onto the sky–there wasn even a speck of light on it. The night was cold, but luckily, there were rarely strong winds, so their candles could light up their path safely.

Although the condition outside was not pleasant, most of the townspeople were outside of their homes. Children were playing while their parents were watching over them, either while gossiping with neighbors or by doing household chores.

There were laughter of children, chattering of women, and the various sounds of activities filling in the dark night. It was not a silent night by any means.

”Lively as always. I couldn even imagine how they would be if this world were normal, ” Chris made a light-hearted remark.

”This is the only time we can be alive after all. We should also do some chores, but those can wait, ” Crane replied.

”Your priority is sometimes really screwed, ” Chris commented.

”Shut it you two. We
e almost at the gate, ”

The trio walked along the cobblestone street, passing by townspeople who greeted them as they walked.

After a few minutes of walking, they finally arrived at a giant concrete gate standing almost eight meters tall. The gate was locked and secured with an ancient-looking mechanism. Despite its aged look, the gate looked to be impenetrable by normal humans. It was the South Gate of the town.

The gate was one of the entryways from the concrete walls surrounding the town. The walls stood ten meters tall, protecting the safety of the town behind them. There were guards carrying oil lamps patrolling the top of the walls, and several shelter-looking posts were placed in easily reachable spots.

”Are you triplets going out again? ” A guard dressed in a brown overcoat stopped the trio and asked. He looked to be a man in his late forties with a strong body. Behind the sternness on his face was hidden gentleness.

”Yes. We are ready to hunt the Silverhead Banshee now thanks to me, ” Chris boasted with a cheeky smile.

”Be careful out there! Dawn is in about four something hours, so make sure you get back before then, ”

”Thanks for your concern, Mr. Larson. We will be, ” Crane replied.

Catherine smiled politely at the man in response to his words and the guard called Mr. Larson nodded, ”Just don get into any trouble, ”

The guard extended his right arm to the gate behind him and chanted something quietly. Suddenly, a beam of light shot from his palm into the gate.

Creak….!

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