Tag Archives: Dusk Priest

Gecko: Omega 14



“…anyway, they figure since birds are the traditional vector for the spread of chili pepper seeds, it’s useful to start the seeds with it. Just get some seeds, maybe wash them down with a tiny bit of bleach in there, then stick them in a mixture of bird poop and water. It’s supposed to be pretty good, and chilis need slightly more acidic soil anyway.”

The world passed by underneath my body as Omega checked the Empyreal City. The being that controlled my body hadn’t blown the whole city to hell. Mr. Omega figured out he would have to confirm a kill for it to mean anything to me. It would be difficult enough for him to search the entire world, but I’ve made it even tougher for him.

“Would that I could sew your mouth shut with a scorpion trapped within,” Omega muttered.

“You trapped me in your head, buddy. You don’t want me yakking away, feel free to let me out and give up this body,” I said. “If not, we can move on to another fun subject. Tell me, what do you know about snail husbandry? Because, let me tell you, it’s a slow fucking process.”

“Quiet down. I am hunting your daughter,” Omega said.

“You’re doing a shitty job of it,” I said. I know where I would have looked first, or the things I could have done to try and find Qiang. Evidently, our recent schism keeps him from accessing my brain, which is a handy thing to know. Omega’s got plenty of power, but he’s not tech savvy in the least.

Case in point, he asked me, “Why is there a twelve and two zeroes appearing and disappearing in my vision?”

I reset the HUD clock to screw with him. I wasn’t sure he’d still see it, but that confirms it. I’m a little worried he might be altering my body. Not in the good way, either, like when I planned to use his powers to zap myself pregnant by Medusa the next time I saw her.

While I mused how to take advantage of this and continued to try talking his head off, he decided to try using my technology. He stopped in Colorado, which is 99% composed of the middle of nowhere, and clenched his fist. An orb appeared in front of us in the sky and expanded out. My Omega power armor was inside. We floated toward it and passed right on through it, either us or the armor becoming intangible in the process.

“You know, if clocks are too complex for you, I’m not sure power armor is going to work as well as you’d like,” I teased.

“Armor is beneath me,” Omega answered. He raised my lower limbs, showing off the gauntlets that were equipped with portahole technology. It was similar to the Telechamber, but less powerful. “I have acknowledged your machinery can achieve that which I cannot. Now, it will.”

There wasn’t a lot of fancy programming work put into the portahole gauntlets on this end. Most of it is a matter of location and size. The difficult stuff was handled by Chu, also missing these days, who handled power management that was delivered using more portals. Omega didn’t have to worry about delivering power remotely. Omega had all the power these things could want. They still won’t do him any good getting through. They can deliver something person-sized, like me, but the power required to bring through someone the size of Omega’s ego would damage their hardware. “Can’t get through with those, Mr. Impatient.”

“I do not intend to,” he informed me. Omega lowered us to the ground. There, he created a portal and expanded it, but to about people-size. Out of that one stepped a robot, with limbs that looked like girders and a conical head flanked by radar dish ears. The head had a facsimile of a human face carved into it.

The robot swiveled slowly, taking in the scenery. Mr. Omega conjured an image of Medusa in what he’d seen of her costume without her power armor. He explained to the robot, “This is who I want you to find. She already has reason to want to find me first, but I want you to take her appearance.”

The robot’s body pulled in close and the radar dishes raised to the sky. The center of them lit up with blue light that shot out and expanded into a halo. The halo then fell over the robot’s body, stopped at its cupped feet, and rose again. The sequence repeated itself, growing faster and faster, until the Medusa faded into existence where the robot had been. It didn’t seem like a hologram, but I didn’t know what it was. Something as old as that automaton shouldn’t have been able to do that.

Fake Medusa nodded stiffly and said in a voice that sounded nothing like her, “As you wish, Moloch.”

“You will need allies,” Mr. Omega added. He created another portahole. Out of that one stepped a man in an all black coat, black pants, dark red shirt, and a wide-brimmed black hat. His eyes glowed red in the shade of his hat and he had wrangled his facial hair into a messy goatee.

“You rang?” he asked, smiling yellowed teeth. With the 360 cameras once again connected, I had a better range of vision and could see that that grass died off, radiating outward from where his shoes touched the ground.

Mr. Omega didn’t address him just yet. Instead, he opened one last portahole. From that emerged a little blonde girl with pigtails, dressed in yellow and green superhero tights.

The man in black looked her over. “I better not be here for child’s play.”

The girl stuck her tongue out at him and blew a raspberry.

“Silence!” Mr. Omega said. He conjured the image of Medusa again, and one of Qiang. “Epidemic and Stampede. I summoned you from the void to this Earth to aid me. I require you to bring me this woman and child. I believe them to be within this nation-state, in a city known as Empyreal City. Machine Man has taken the appearance of the woman to wreak havoc in her image. You will assist Machine Man and bring them to me.”

“That’s it, we’re hunting down this woman? This has to be the easiest payment either,” said the guy I took to be Epidemic.

The girl raised her head and howled like a wolf, her jaw and ears briefly elongating as she did so. Howls answered her from the distance.

Mr. Omega nodded once. “There are many on this Earth with powers beyond mere man, and your debt, those that owe it, will be wiped clean by this act.” He created a new portahole, then waved them through. “Go. Call for me when you have them.”

Machine Man, as Medusa, tromped through the portahole. I don’t know what that one could do to anyone it wanted to hurt, and I have no clue if Mr. Omega’s ignorance of technology extends to 1940s-looking robots. I’m completely ignorant of the other two, too. From the way he talked, Omega didn’t think they were used to the concept of supers, so it’s unlikely they’re from this Earth.

Still, I couldn’t just let the guy trapping me in my own head just run around with the ability to summon his minions into the world. I adjusted a few of the parameters and fired off a pair of portals while Mr. Omega was zipping back into the air. They were designed to be way too big for the portaholes to handle. I could have initiated a safety shutoff, but I didn’t want to. Instead, I watched as the subtle wrinkles in the air started to form, then the gauntlets sparked and blew out when the portals got big enough. The portals vanished while the gauntlets caught fire.

Mr. Omega looked down at them, my face pulling into a frown. Neither of us felt the heat, nor did he bother to put it out before he started heading back toward Ricca. “That was foolish, Gecko. You lash out when you should be thankful toward me.”

“You stole my body, so don’t expect me to thank you anytime soon.”

“You came through and made a life you feel is worth living. To deny me the same out of fear shows you have not changed,” he said.

“Oh fuck off, grandpa.” Wow, we got over Mu pretty quick. Mr. Omega finally got the idea to look over our various colonies on the lost and restored continent. Most didn’t give him any trouble, though the Bronze City sounded an alarm. The arrows fired by the guards didn’t reach anywhere near us.

Mr. Omega stopped and descended to where some of those same men bowed apologetically. “Forgive us, Empress-King. We did not realize it was you.”

Omega glanced down at my armor, quickly grasping the benefits of co-opting my identity around the last group of people who still considered me their sovereign. “Tell the soldiers to gather,” Omega ordered.

It didn’t take long before Omega floated in front of the city’s army, all clad in the bronze armor the city was famous for.

“You will do nicely,” he said in my voice, looking around. His view lingered on one particular shield that had been polished to a mirror finish. The reflection’s fists pounded the shield, much like I wanted to do and might have if I wasn’t thinking. I experimented by giving Mr. Omega the finger with my upper hands. The reflection did the same.

This time, Mr. Omega thought to himself, his mental voice thankfully not a copy of my own. I think it would have really pissed me off if he had my mental voice, too. “I see you. Maybe I should simplify this by putting you in another body. What is the name of that girl whose body you envy? The blonde one, belonging to the tribe of god-pretenders.”

I didn’t respond because I was tempted. I think he picked up on that. If he knew me any, he’d know I’d resist on principle alone. If I’m lucky, he doesn’t realize I have more ideas on how to sabotage him. “I think if it were so simple for you to just possess a body without a mind, you’d have done it. There are plenty of mindless bodies around.”

“I think if you knew anything about magic, you would not have built your power on machines,” Omega responded.

Out loud, Omega announced, “What do they say now? You should get an upgrade.” Omega waved my hand, not that asshole’s hand, and the soldiers’ armor changed color to the same red as mine. Their swords, spears, and arrowheads changed as well.

Omega rose into the air as a sphere appeared around the whole of the assembled men and my body. Everything pulled inward and then spread out again, and the soldiers were now assembled around the Telechamber site.

Shockley had taken cover behind a low wall, zapping the occasional brick that came close to hitting him. He smiled in relief at the site of Omega and the army. Omega pointed to the crowd. “Go home, or go to the grave.”

The army let out a roar that scared off most of the people protesting the Telechamber. The rest ran away when some of the soldiers rushed to take up positions at the street.

Mr. Omega examined the Telechamber and could tell the exterior was done. The interior had to be close as well, but he didn’t have my skill with tiny little robots. “Soon,” he murmured to me. “Soon, a new day begins. A new palace is in order for the new ruler. Don’t you agree?”

The ground rumbled and wood cracked. Off in the distance, a ruby spire sloughed off the palace it had arisen from underneath and stabbed into the sky, the center of a crystalline keep that took over the palace courtyard and former Directory building.

Now he’s in trouble. The bastard destroyed the best toilet I ever owned. And he doesn’t even realize I have plenty of spare bodies I can use to help thwart him, including a few Dudebots in Empyreal City.




Gecko: Omega 13



For all my power, I feel I’m losing control of the situation. Ricca, for instance. I don’t care for the throne so much as I wanted my daughter and I wanted to finish the Telechamber to be whole. To be fully here, fully empowered. The goal from there is simple: rule as god-queen. Or maybe I won’t rule. Ruling is troublesome. But being a god? That I can do.

The Riccans had to learn that lesson. Some of them, emboldened by recent events, decided to throw water bottles at me while I oversaw construction of the Telechamber. I raised a hand in their general direction and fired off a blast that scattered them. They didn’t really come close after that. Even the Deep Ones hung back. Really, it was only Shockley who approached. He wasn’t having fun, either. I think. Being my follower isn’t too popular at the moment, especially in a place where I ran off the beloved child Empress.

Did she run from me? Was it Medusa’s plan? Is my daughter now a hostage?

It occurred to me, as I stood my unceasing vigil over the Telechamber’s assembly, that I’d undone a lot of work I’d done to keep her safe. It was really distracting me, making me more a pair of beings in one body than one body and one mind. I could feel Omega’s mind reassuring me that no one would dare harm the daughter of a god. Which is bullshit. People are brainless dick monkeys. Of course some asswipe would come up with the idea of attacking a god’s daughter just to see if they could get away with it. They might even thing it’d give them some perverse form of street cred before I’d dissolve them, slowly, so that they feel every atom in their body pulling away from every other atom.

Thinking about Qiang made me realize I needed to have a heart to heart with myself, though. Because Omega’s answer didn’t satisfy me. I needed to look inward. I started to turn toward Shockley and ask if he could hit me with some more of that dust, but I ended up looking at a black void with Omega standing there instead. “Good. Maybe I’ll get some real answers now. What are your actual plans, dude?”

Omega, as a separate entity, looked like a guy now. “My goal is to be here. I have that right. To be here, to remain free and unharmed. It is the dream I’ve had for so long.”

The void around us shifted and he disappeared. I seemed to be running then, down a darkened corridor with stone walls. I heard someone next to me yell. I turned to look and it was a man in robes, with an arrow sticking out of his back. More flew out of the darkness, missing him, but at least a half dozen sank into the man’s flesh and he fell. I heard a yell of triumph behind me.

Suddenly, I came out into an opening. More people in robes were there. One of them pulled me to the side while others rolled a boulder in front of the door way and barricaded it. The chamber we were in looked like a cave, but with a hole in the top that allowed light to touch the center of a design carved over the floor, which was red. I could even smell the blood that had flowed through all the engravings of that design, courtesy of the dead goats piled up on the edges of the chamber.

The scene paused as Omega appeared. “You know what it’s like to be nothing but a pawn in the games of the powerful. You were a prized weapon. We were far less valuable. You were trained, fed, allowed to rest, given equipment; but I was far less.” He paced, looking around. “All I wanted was the power to resist and live free. I was scarecely empowered when I was banished, and the brethren who aided me put to the sword. They were mere servants. Their defiance made it so their value lay in being a lesson for others with hope to follow our path. I didn’t have further plans beyond that all-consuming drive.”

He stopped pacing and looked down. “They banished me and killed everyone I knew and cared about. The world moved on and changed completely. My only plan is to be, and to make sure nobody can trap me or kill me for the perceived crime of existing freely.” I felt the anger running through me from our bond as the scene disappeared, leaving us in the void again.

“I understand a lot of what that’s like. Just being allowed to live was a big part of what I was about when I got here. But I see more similarities, too. The way you just casually blast a bunch of people in a heavily-populated city, for instance. You don’t care. It’s hard to tell because of us being merged, but how much of the killing and violence over the past few days was me being a depressed asshole, and how much of it was you?”

He smiled. “Even if it were all you, I would not care to stop you. These people are nothing to me. They are scared as you were scared. If given the choice, they wouldn’t have allowed you to their world. You, who slaughters them by the dozen. You, who looks down on them with contempt. You, who thinks you are better and special and deserve to be immune from their punishments because you can break their bones. I, too, see that similarity. I am tired of submitting to the laws of corrupt man. Any who try to stop me shall fall to my power.”

Another scene shifted around us. We were in the air over Ricca, looking down on the city. A red hand, my hand, raised itself. Parts of the city erupted in explosions at random. “What the fuck, these are my people! That’s my body!”

Omega grabbed me and held me in place. “It is our body, and those are people who sided against you. They deposed you when you seemed to support me, or they failed to resist the ones who did.”

I grabbed him. “Listen, I see a lot of myself in you. A lot of myself as I was for a long time after I got here. I get it, ya know? People not being valuable to you unless they’re valuable to you? It’s the exact same thinking as the people who used to own us. So what? That’s what you’re thinking. It’s your turn. You get to be the one with the power of life and death over people like those who didn’t care about yours. The people who thought you were the bad guy for wanting to be free, or who are just like those ones.”

I looked at the images around us, tried to will my hand down. It reluctantly obeyed. “All this power, and our first thoughts were to just kill and destroy. There’s someone out there who spent a long time trying to say I could have been better, and I thought it was a bunch of bullshit. But while I haven’t been perfect, I’ve helped build a country back up. You come to Ricca and the waters heal you. We’re saving immigrants from concentration camps, and accepting Deep One refugees that other people would have labeled monsters. Any one of them could have turned up on the shore of any other country on Earth, except the landlocked ones, and been the same kind of killer. You have power, but you don’t have to exert it by hurting people. It’s so mindless and petty, too. You work to get all this power, just to kill people you don’t even know.”

Omega stared into me, then laughed. “You have no right to counsel me in such a way, maniac.”

I grit my teeth. “I’m trying to get you to stop making the mistakes I made.”

“You are trying to protect your daughter. Because you fear me,” he said. “Remember when you did not fear? The world was your plaything, for you to blow up while laughing. You wanted to deny me the same privilege.” He peered more closely at me. “You have been working against me.”

“I hit a low point, with my anger and paranoia convincing me to open myself up to you. But you can be better than I was. You don’t have to be a loser with a shitload of power who doesn’t know what to do with it other than cuss a lot and kill people,” I explained. I mean, I saw what Omega’s history was, and I’m sympathetic to it. But his plan is seriously to just appear and blow shit up because he has power. That’s no real plan. That’s just boring and being a loser, the same way any of those dumpster-licking assclowns in the United States thinks the way to have power is to grab a gun and shoot up a kindergarten or something. The easiest way to exert power is to hurt someone else, but it really is petty.

I really was petty. But I was also suicidal. I didn’t have it in me to kill myself, because it felt like a waste of all the people I had to kill to survive. I wanted someone else to do it for me. I was a monster who couldn’t imagine happiness anymore. I thought I could find it in the humor of tearing apart people’s lives. I suppose it’s a testament to all the medication and the stuff Psychsaur did to my head that I’m not like that anymore. And then there’s Qiang. Somehow, I can love that girl. I want to be there for her and take care of her. I want to live for her.

At the same time, I can’t exactly ask Omega to pop out a kid so he has something to live for, too. That’s also pretty terrible. But compared to the me that wanted to lay dead in the ruins of the Empyre State Building, the me that exists today is better. And not just better for the world, Medusa, or Qiang. I’m better for me.

“Touching,” Omega said, as if he’d read all of that as clearly as anybody else could. “But why should I take advice from a traitor? I can see it now. You have been undermining me, somehow. There are things you have done to fight me even as we lived as one.” He raised a finger and tapped my forehead. “Something is missing here. You removed knowledge from yourself. Why, if not that it would have aided me? And why remove this if you wanted to help me? Yes, you took the coward’s way out and invited me in to save your own life, but you attacked your own brain to save those others. What living being would willingly make an idiot of itself?”

Around me, I saw simulacra of my family. Qiang, Max, Holly, Sam, Citra, Silver Shark, and even Medusa. That last one gave me some mixed feelings still, especially after having to pretty much admit she was right about me. I hope she never finds out about that. Well, little chance of that. Not like anyone from this universe can read this.

Omega stepped toward the false Qiang, taking on a shape I can see in the mirror every day. “I will not give you up, Gecko. This is my body now. That is the cost of your cowardice and insistence in saving your own life with a lie.” Omega patted the unflinching face of the mental image of my daughter. “Whatever else you’ve done, though I know not what, shall cost you dearly.”

Omega disappeared, though the blackness disappeared as well. I was back to myself, floating above Ricca. But then I looked down at my hands without meaning to, or feeling my arms move. I realized that while I could see, hear, smell, feel, and even taste, I couldn’t do anything.

I floated lower and Omega, in control of my body, spoke to Shockley. “Finish overseeing this. I must punish the traitor Gecko.”

“As you wish, my god,” Shockley said, laying it on a bit thick for my taste.

Then I got to watch as I took off for a flight across the Pacific, Omega muttering to me, “I will find her.”

Over my dead body, bucko.



Gecko: Omega 9



The house I arrived at which supposedly held the last of the Dusk Club was an ageing one-story. The cast-iron rail on the green porch looked out of odds with the uneven slope of it and the discolored vinyl siding on the outside. The walkway was partially overgrown with some sort of floppy grass plant different than the rest of the lawn. It wasn’t some mansion or decaying haunted house. It was just an old and neglected house in a bad neighborhood. In California, Pennsylvania.

I mean, at least I didn’t have to go back to California, California.

I just expected something with more gravitas. Something that would fit a narrative. Unfortunately, real life so rarely does. That would make an excellent cop-out for a bad writer. For me, it’s part of why I expected a trap. The other part is that I always expect a trap. It’s a handy mindset. Kept me from breaking some fingers this one time when I found some cheese just laying around. Even kept me wary of Medusa.

…yeah. Of course she paints herself as being in the right, but that still stings. Pissed me off initially, sure. Still has me pissed off. It’s really like an underlying layer of pissed-offedness. But it still hurts to know I was right about her and why she’d ever be with me. Her and me never made sense either.

Whew… anyway, all the coke I did to keep from sleeping helped me make amazing time from Montana to Pennsylvania. Kept me awake, energized, helped me ignore the pain in my chest, and I could drive all night. I still had enough sense to stop outside of town and sober up with a good night’s rest before I went in there. Invading a mage’s domain on a three-day drug coke binge is a bit like molesting a belligerent baboon: you can try, but you’ll probably end up the wrong kind of fucked.

I got going a bit later in the day than I intended as far as hunting down the Dusk guys. Just felt like shit all over, especially in my back. Darn extra limbs. I just felt so old and stupid, sitting up in bed and looking down at myself. Wondering if I was a person who dreamt I was a butterfly, or a butterfly who dreamt I was a person. Wondering if Mr. Omega had given my daughter an ultimatum anyway.

The fury in me rose again as I thought of my sweet Qiang being used as a puppet by others who claimed to be on her side. That gave me the jolt of energy I needed to rise out of bed and don my armor. And from there, I drove a stolen car to a shitty little house in a worn, old neighborhood in California, Pennsylvania.

I approached it invisible to the human eye, but probably not a third eye. My softer and lighter boots didn’t grind on the walkway as much as the heavier version would have. Aw, crap. In my cocaine binge, I forgot to bring along a Dudebot. I can’t even reach the ones on Ricca anymore, but I have others scattered around the world.

Ah, fuck it. Doesn’t matter what hole, just fuck it. I dropped my cloak and stomped the rest of the way up the walkway. The leaves of the stringy grass blew from the wind, then wrapped around my ankles. I tore through them. The porch’s cast iron rail shifted as well, and spiky spades poked out at me like snake’s heads. I raised a finger and looked between the two nearest. “You don’t want to fuck with me today, so if you things have any minds of your own, you will not try me.”

They tried me. I grabbed the first one and bent. The second went for my neck. I caught that one as well with my extra hands. They were stretching way longer than needed to get to me. I tied them up together and limboed underneath.

The screen door opened easily enough, but the door inside didn’t budge. I tried to knock the knob off, but the thing stayed where it was, with an odd light flaring up along the outside of the door. I tried it again, paying more attention this time, and saw runes all around the door. “Magically protected, are we?”

I let the door go and took a few steps to the side. I ran right through the vinyl siding and wall to step into a living room. “I’m magically malicious!”

It looked like a normal living room, connecting to a really small guest room to my left, and a kitchen right in front of me. I heard groaning coming from the kitchen as a figure in dark robe and hood approached. His legs didn’t move as he glided along the floor, face obscured under the heavy fabric. Then he fell forward and caught himself just, tugging the bottom of his robe out from under one of those little hoverboard scooters. He turned to me. “Who in damnation are you?”

“I am Psycho Gecko. I’m here to find the Dusk Club.”

The man tossed his hood back. He was just an old, skinny guy with thinning hair that he brushed over his scalp as best as possible. He peered back at me through a pair of glasses. “It’s not much of a club anymore. Just myself. What do you want that’s so important you couldn’t knock?” he gestured toward the hole in the wall.

“I’ve been in contact with an entity called Mr. Omega. Big guy, red skin, trapped outside our dimension and says you guys had something to do with that,” I said.

His eyes widened. “I wasn’t sure… he hasn’t resurfaced in my lifetime. I always thought ‘Mr. Omega’ was a silly name.”

In my HUD, Omega’s face appeared again. “See what he will give up on the methods of his sect. I would learn how to weaken the spell before I must tear it asunder.”

“He mentioned your group,” I continued. “He wants to come back. The dimensional barrier is weakening and he’s trying to push through. Is there something special he’s doing to destroy whatever was done to keep him out? And how do we stop him from doing so?”

He looked me up and down. “I don’t know if I can trust you. You broke into my home.”

“I’m angry. It’s my time of the month to kill a bitch who doesn’t give me the answers I want,” I said. I realized I was gritting my teeth and tried to relax my jaw. I was just so damn tense. I needed answers from this guy, but I also wanted to take out my anger and other feelings on something fleshy with lots of blood inside.

“We’ll see,” he said, thrusting his hands forward. They were nowhere near connecting, but that wasn’t his intention. He threw a powder into the air and spoke words in some unidentified language. The powder obscured the air, filling the entirety of my vision. Even the rear cameras looked more like I was in a mess of dust. The words he spoke hung heavy in the air.

Sometimes, I hate my body’s natural disinclination toward magic. I can’t use it well, except Mr. Omega’s powers, but it’d be nice if it provided more protection against hostile magics. Just like it’d be nice if most people’s skin was bulletproof, I guess.

A light flared up and everything was black. I lost my 360-degree vision, and apparently my armor. I looked down and was basically a Barbie doll with four arms and a serious red blotch over a large part of the skin on my belly. A faded Omega symbol curved down over my tits. Right-angled circuitry jutted out from the edges of my body, standing out against my skin.

In front of me stood the old man, luckily looking like a Ken doll so I didn’t have to see his old danglies. On his chest was an Omega symbol, coming in much more solid than mine. I pointed to it, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I am the last of the Dusk Club. I was taught all my life that the connections between us were important. We severed those connections to thrust Omega out and keep him out. My parents raised me to be part of a group to protect the world from a god that could give us whatever we wanted. I never had a Christmas because they were too poor, too dedicated to their watch. I didn’t have my own friends because they might find out about magic and Omega. I couldn’t go to college because the only schooling I had was what they taught me in magic. All I had were others in the Club, shallow connections, until the day he contacted me. I gave each of the remaining members a test to see their inner selves, and made myself the last of the Dusk Club. But I lacked the power he needed.”

“So why’d Omega send me to you?” I asked.

A voice reverberated in the darkness. I turned to see where a line of red light connected me to misshapen cloud of red that lit up with electricity. “To test you and to show you that I am merciful. Like you. I could feel your doubts and fears. I feel your sadness now. You ache to be with your daughter again. Like me, you are tired of betrayal by those who claim to love you. You want to be protected from those who hurt your heart and your daughter. I can give you that power, and the payment is simple. Let me in.”

The cloud compacted itself into the form of a person that reached its hand out toward me.

“You’ve left me powerless before,” I said. “I still don’t trust you.”

“You trusted so many unworthy of it. I seek to trust you. To gift you my power. All I ask is to return. That is it. I need your power, and you need mine.”

Even on such unfamiliar and turf, I could feel the Dusk Priest approach from behind, awaiting my answer.