Chapter One, Rewritten

CHAPTER ONE

DREAMS

 

Heaven.

Everyone has thought about it.  No matter your practiced religion or faith, everyone has at least wondered once, if Heaven was a real place.  A place that you go to when you die.  It’s supposed to be a place that you go when you die if you’ve lived a good life.

There have been stories told about it, legends and myths about it, even movies that show what people think it could be.  Andrew Spur knew that it was real.  He had proof.  In his hands he held a book, a book that was so old, it should be crumbling into dust, but some magic kept it whole and readable.

It was titled The Book of Secrets and Mysteries.  It was written by the Archangel Raziel, who gave it to Adam and Eve.  Legend tells that other Angels became angry that Raziel gave it to them and took it away, throwing it into the ocean.  But God Himself got it back and gave it to Adam again.

Raziel had wanted the Humans to learn from the book and find their way back into God’s good graces.  The book had been kept and cherished for thousands of years until it had eventually been given to Andrew by his father when he died.

Andrew was a wealthy man, who inherited a vast fortune from his father.  He also worked as a banker and made quite a bit of money himself.  When he received the book, he made an effort to learn the language it was written in, a language not used for a thousand years.

Andrew Spur was one of four families that could trace their roots all the way back to Biblical times.  The four families had stayed together and had grown wealthy over time.  When Andrew read the book, after years of study, he discovered many things.

First, he discovered that God was in fact real.  There were Angels, that lived in Heaven and affected Humankind.  He discovered that DemonS were real as well and they had fought a great battle in Heaven and when they lost, they were condemned to Hell.

He also discovered that along with his three friends, from the three other ancient families, he was an Otheymm, a Human that had power.  He learned that the substance that reality was made of was called Seer.

Otheymm had the power to make objects out of Seer, either clothes or weapons or other object they would need.  They needed to learn how to fight with these weapons because they had a plan that also came from the book.

The book told Andrew that not only was Heaven real, but the Garden of Eden was real.  And in the Garden of Eden was the Tree of Life.  Eating the fruit from the Tree of Life would make a Human immortal like the Angels and Demons.

Andrew Spur was a powerful Human.  But to become immortal was a power beyond his Human dreams.  When he had discovered that passage in the book, he had become obsessed with the idea, and with the other three friends, he began to learn about his new powers, creating weapons out of Seer and learning how to fight with them.

Learning how to create weapons, and learning how to fight with ancient weapons had taken a large amount of time.  Andrew and the others were ready, finally.  They had learned the skills needed to fight in Heaven and they planned to go there this very year and find the Tree of Life.

They had learned the magic of Heaven and how to make a Gattae, or Gate to go from Earth to Heaven.  They had spent years gathering materials they would need to open such a Gate.  They were almost ready now; they needed one more item to make the idea happen.

They were very close and ruthless in their plans.  They would let nothing stop them from getting to Heaven and reached the Garden.  They had done things, some terrible, to get where they wanted to be and soon they would cross the Heavens to reach immortality.

 

***

 

The dream was different.

Cormac had always been able to tell when he was dreaming.  It was a talent he had since he was young.  When he had nightmares as a child, he could tell himself, even during the dream, that it was just a dream and no harm could come to him.

This dream was different.  This dream felt real, and Cormac felt scared.  It was twilight, that hour where you can’t make out shadows from reality and everything seems hidden and strange.  He was in a field where the grass was knee-high and wet.

Cormac was running, running from something dark and terrible that was chasing him.  It was huge, tall and wide and all black, like a shadow, but with gleaming red eyes.  It appeared to have horns on its head and its hands ended in sharp talons.

He could hear it breathing, great gusting breaths that sounded like they were coming from right behind him.  It had been chasing him for a long time now and there was nowhere to hide.  The field was just empty before him, deep in shadows and he feared tripping or falling and being caught.

He could feel sweat running down his face and collected on his back.  He could feel the hot breath behind him and it stank like rotten meat.  The creature behind him didn’t threaten or speak.  Its intentions were clear and Cormac had to do what he could to escape.

He knew it was a dream, but it had a new quality to it, as though it were not a dream.  The details, of the grass and the dew, the breath and the thumping footsteps behind him were all too real.

Then he saw a shape up ahead, not tall and curvy, like a woman.  She had red eyes too, but he could tell she wasn’t hunting him.  She passed her hand through the air and a doorway, or a gate opened up and light shined from somewhere else.

Cormac ran towards the light and got a glimpse of the woman’s face as he passed her.  She too had horns, and her skin was dark blue, like a frozen corpse.  She was beautiful though and she smiled at him as he raced through the doorway of light.

He woke suddenly, just as he crossed the barrier from dark twilight to a shining path of light.  He opened his eyes and looked up at the ceiling in his room.  It was midday and he had fallen asleep for a nap and fell into the strange dream.

He sat up, disturbing his two cats, who were sleeping with him.  They both jumped to the floor and meowed at him, hoping to be fed.  He slid his legs over the side of the bed and stood, rubbing his face.  He walked into the kitchen of his small one-bedroom apt, and got the cat food.

The cats followed him as he walked to the bathroom and opened the can, spooning out a bit of food into two separate bowls.  He returned to the kitchen, put the can in the fridge and walked into the living room to look out the window onto the street.

It was overcast that day and seemed a bit dreary outside.  Standing on the corner of a connecting street was a man in blue jeans and a flannel shirt, with a cap.  The man was staring up at Cormac’s window, but looked away when Cormac noticed him.  The man walked away quickly.

Thinking that was a little strange, Cormac surveyed the rest of the street, but it looked the same as always.  He lived on a quiet street in a small town in New York State.  The town didn’t have much, but it suited his quiet lifestyle.

Cormac though of himself as a simple man, with simple desires.  The truth was, it was a bit more complicated that that.  He had been diagnosed with bi-polar mood disorders and that earned him a Social Security check once a month.  He didn’t have to work, but the amount of money wasn’t so much that he could have a lavish life.

He lived alone, in a small apartment, on the third floor of his building.  He wanted to be a writer, so he used much of his time writing, or doing research for his writing.  It was a good life, simple, but good.

There was something else that made Cormac unique though.  He could see ghosts, or souls as he thought of them.  He had been able to see them since he was young.  He saw them around old houses, or floating along the street, or stuck somewhere obsessing over a regret.

They didn’t speak to him or communicate in any way, and it didn’t seem like a talent or a skill that he had.  He didn’t know why he could see them, and he had become accustomed to it years earlier.

The souls were always light blue and sort of misty, and they floated wherever he saw them.  He had noticed that he didn’t often see them in the same places, so somehow they moved on he supposed, but since he couldn’t interact with them, he never gave it mush thought.

On the other hand, his relationships with Humans were quite a bit different.  He could talk to them, and interact with them, but he didn’t understand them and often had conflicts with them.  He felt different than they seemed to, and not just because he could see spirits.

Cormac knew, deep inside that he was different, he just couldn’t tell anyone how he was different.  He had been born a bastard child, and adopted by a family friend, who raised him alone.

He was a troubled child, a fighter, always battling with someone over a slight, whether true or imagined.  In his mind, Cormac was always making sense, and the world around him didn’t make sense.  He didn’t understand Human, or their actions, so he had become a loner by the time he was twenty-five.

He had been dating someone, juts up until a few months ago, when she left him for a few reasons he didn’t understand.  She had said that her friends didn’t like him, and she didn’t like that he didn’t work.  Of course, she had known that the whole two years they were together, so he didn’t really understand what happened that made it a bad thing all of a sudden.

It took many years, and a bit of medication for him to react the way he did.  He didn’t understand it, but he didn’t fight it either.  If she didn’t want to be with him anymore, what could he do?  So he let her go, and tried to just be her friend.

That wasn’t working out as well as he’d like, and again, he couldn’t understand it, but he maintained contact and stayed friendly and hoped that in the future it would become easier.

Her name was Kayla, and they had known each other for half of their adult lives.  They had helped each other through a rough period of time and it just seemed natural that they started dating.  And things had seemed good, right up until she announced that she was done with him.

So now his life was simple and quiet.  He spent his time writing, or going to the local AA meetings, or meeting with the very few friends he had.  He spent most of his time alone and he liked it that way.  Human relationships were far too complicated for him to understand.  Easier to be by himself.

 

***

 

Kayla Carpenter found herself thinking of Cormac again.  She shook her head angrily and scolded herself for letting her mind wander again.  She missed him sometimes, that was true, but she had broken up with him for good reasons and she meant to stick to her decision.

She was working, outside, as a gardener in her mother’s business.  She had gone to school to be a therapist, but she couldn’t find a job doing that, so she fell back on what she had done when she was younger, working for her mother again.

As a gardener, she worked outside; doing back breaking work that wore out her body but kept her fit and strong.  She was thin, and shorter than Cormac and she had short brown hair.  Her eyes were a liquid gray with golden flecks and she had a clear jawline that Cormac had loved to draw.

Damn it!  She was doing it again, thinking of him while she worked.  Her mind would wander, but she needed to focus.  She stood up straight and looked across the lawn to the other people who worked for her mother and her hand fell habitually to the necklace her grandmother had given her when she died.

The necklace was simple, a silver chain with a tanzanite stone held in a silver clasp.  It hung right between her collarbones and glowed when the sun hit it.  Today was a sunny day and she looked up at the slowly drifting cloud and she asked for help, from the universe to get her through this period of time after the breakup.

She was not only working for her mother, but living with her too, and sometimes she just felt worn out from her life.  She thought she would’ve been married by now and had a child, she thought she’d be working in her field by now, and nothing was going the way she had hoped.

She was stuck living in her mother’s house, in a small room, with her two cats, and her mother’s husband clearly didn’t want her there, which created more stress for everyone.  But she just didn’t make enough money to live on her own.  It was a rotten situation.

She and Cormac had talked about marriage and children, and for a while, she was convinced they would have those things.  But Cormac wasn’t really going anywhere.  He lived alone, spent most of his time alone and seemed to like it that way.  Kayla wanted to live a different life, so she had broken it off.

She hadn’t wanted to hurt him, but she just didn’t see them having a future together.  Now they were attempting to be friends, which consisted of a few phone texts now and again, but that was it.

She knew she could always depend on him if she needed anything.  He was definitely loyal, to a fault, but it was hard to maintain a friendship after a romantic relationship that went south.

She reached down and picked up her bottle of water and took a long drink.  Working made her hot and the still cool water felt good going down.  She sighed and shook her head again.

Better get back to work, she thought.  They needed to finish this garden by the end of the day, and they were already halfway through the work day.  She needed to move faster, and spend less time thinking about the past.

She gritted her teeth, took another moment to calm herself, and then bent down to work again.  She pulled roots and debris away from the flowers and decorative plants and focused on her work.

 

***

 

Heaven was guarded and guided by twelve Archangels and twelve Angels.  Heaven was populated by souls of Humans that had decided to stay in Heaven and try to evolve into something greater than a Human soul.

When a Human died, if that Human lived a moderately good life, they were given a choice.  They could either forget all they had learned and begin again as a newborn baby, living another life, or they could stay in Heaven and evolve into Angels themselves.

It took thousands of years to evolve from a Human soul into an Angel, but thousands of souls chose just that, and they lived in Heaven, working towards the greater good and slowly evolved.

Heaven was divided into twelve cities, where the twelve Archangels ruled over their souls that had decided to stay.  Each Archangel had chosen a Human warrior class that they felt was the best Humans had achieved.

The Archangel appeared to look like the warriors of the time period they especially thought well of.  And their cities appeared as they would have in that time period.  The cities were built side by side in a vast circle surrounding a Central Market.

Human souls worked for their livelihood, farming, or managing animals, or working a hundred other tasks that helped a city function.  Some made clothes; others made weapons, while others built homes for the souls that chose to stay.

Every soul had a job, and the Angels and Archangels watched over them, and guarded them from attacks by Demons that tried to invade Heaven for centuries, ever since they lost the Great War that made them Fallen Angels.

Each Archangel and Angel had work as well.  Some of them guided souls to Heaven, while other created hardships for Humans to overcome.  They also had tasks in Heaven, responsibilities that they must perform.

Gabriel, the Messenger of God, the Spirit of Truth, and the Archangel that would blow the Horn Gajallarhorn at the end of time, was in charge of Research and Development.  He created tools to communicate with, or tools to make life easier in Heaven.

Gabriel was the leader of science in Heaven and he had gathered like-minded Angels to his side.  He stood now in a building within his city, with a small group of Archangels and Angels that followed his command.

Gabriel was dressed as a Spartan warrior, and wore a bronze breastplate and a bronze helmet with cheek plates.  He carried a Hoplon shield that could cover him from chin to knee.  His sword was a Xiphos sword, just as the Spartans used so many years ago.

Also in the building were one hundred Human souls that he had gathered from his city.  They had come to be part of an experiment that Gabriel had told them would bring them closer to God.

He held up a machine that he had created.  It was small and not threatening, just a jumble of wires and tubes that made a simple shape and glowed with an inner light.  He lifted the machine and flipped a switch and passed it over the heads of the Human souls that stood patiently waiting.

The machine hummed and clicked and made other noises that showed it was working.  Each soul suddenly stood a little straighter, their eyes rolling back in their heads.  They began to shake and drool until they eventually fell down in a heap.

In a large glass container behind Gabriel, something grew inside.  A light that appeared solid, but wasn’t.  it was a glow that couldn’t be described but it made the Angels glad to see it.  Gabriel smiled and turned to his fellows that followed his commands.

“We have done it!” he cried over the hum of the machine.  “We have extracted the part of the soul that contains God Himself!”

The other Angels stared at the glowing light in the glass container.  It was warm and peaceful, but bold and powerful as well.  It was hard to focus on and mysterious to contemplate.

“But this machine I have created,” Gabriel explained.  “Is not enough.  We can only used one hundred souls at a time with it.  We need a special soul, a Keystone soul to make a bigger machine that could pull God free of many more souls at once!”

“Where will we find such a soul?” one of the other Angels asked.

“On Earth of course!” Gabriel laughed, as if it had been obvious.  “And you, Leliel, will find us that soul!”

Leliel, an Angel that appeared as a squat Hun warrior, clothed in furs and leather, nodded.  He grinned back at Gabriel and agreed to be the one to find the soul they needed.

Leliel was a Trickster Angel and had contacts in many places.  He was sure he could find the Keystone soul they needed.  He looked at the hundred souls that had fallen, as they started to wake and stand.

The souls looked empty.  Their faces were slack with no real inner light.  Their eyes were dull and lightless.  Gabriel gave them commands to go back to their lives and work hard, and they mumbled an agreement and shuffled off to go back to their work.

Even Leliel was alarmed at this new science.  The souls they extracted God from looked like the dead instead of vibrant as they were before.  He wondered how long it would be before the other Archangels noticed the change in the Human souls in Gabriel’s city.

Leliel wondered how they would react when they learned of Gabriel’s plan?  And he wondered which side he would stand on in the end?  He chuckled to himself and turned away to seek out his contacts and find the soul they needed.

 

***

 

Something had changed.

Cormac could feel it in his gut.  Ever since he had the strange dream, something was different.  He could feel spirits now, instead of just seeing them.  Normally if he saw them, floating about, it would be luck.  He would just happen to look at the right time.

Now however, he could feel them, like a light pressure, way before he saw them.  On his way to see his scheduled therapist visit, he felt and saw four of them on the way there.

He could feel some kind of energy coming from them, and he could feel weight of their presence.  From the cab he saw the first three, as they were driving, so he only saw them quickly.

The last one, seen outside the mental health building was even more different.  His cab had dropped him early, so he sat outside by a bench to read a book before going in.  Cormac felt the now familiar pressure and looked up to see a young girl floating near the building.

Cormac watched her moving around the corner of the building until he felt another pressure, this one much stronger and darker.  It had an evil cast to it and made him feel sick to his stomach.

He saw the girl spirit look frightened and a shadow crossed over her.  The shadow seemed to consume light, draining the surrounding sunlight and it consumed the spirit as well.

A moment later, both the girl and the shadow were gone and he felt nothing.  Cormac didn’t understand what was happening, but he knew it was connected to the dream.  Somehow that dream had touched him, connected him to something new, something more powerful than simple sight.

Now he could feel the spirits as well as see them.  It was an odd feeling, familiar in some ways, and frightening in others.  Cormac wasn’t sure how to react, and of course he couldn’t talk to anyone about it.

He had learned years ago what happens when you tell other Humans about strange abilities.  His therapist and shrink would definitely think he was crazier than his normal diagnoses.

Cormac knew he needed to keep this to himself, but he couldn’t stop thinking of it.  His session with his therapist was affected and she pointed out that he seemed distracted in some way.  He brushed it off quickly, saying that he was tired.

On the way home, he didn’t see any other spirits, but that night, after he had eaten dinner, he felt another pressure, slightly different in a way he couldn’t describe, coming from outside his building.

Cormac stepped to the window and looked outside and standing there, on the corner again, was the man he had seen right after his dream.  He focused on the man and could tell the pressure was coming from him.  He turned away and quickly put his shoes back on and ran down the three flights of step to get outside.

When he walked through the double doors, the man was gone and so was the feeling of pressure.  He realized that he felt it vanish even before he had gotten done the steps.  He looked up and down the street, but there was no sign of the man.

Cormac climbed back up to his apartment and looked out the window again, but the street was clear.  He saw no one standing out there and the feeling of pressure was still gone.  He returned to his seat in front of his computer and went back to writing.

The rest of his night was normal, and he shut down his computer and turned off all the lights before walking into his bedroom and undressing for sleep.  He climbed in his bed and read a book for an hour before turning off his light and going to sleep.

 

***

 

Andrew Spur sat on the bed in his favorite bedroom of his California house.  To call it a house was like calling a skyscraper and business building.  His home sprawled across a high cliff that looked out over the sea.

The building had fifteen bedroom and fifteen bathrooms.  It had a tennis court, a ballroom and a conservatory.  It had guest cottages outside, a one hundred foot long swimming pool and a walkway that led right to the ocean below.

The house was the first building Andrew had bought for himself when he inherited his father’s fortune.  The bedroom he was in had polished wooden floors, expensive carpets and a marble fireplace guarded by two marble lions.

Andrew’s relationship with his father had been a strained one.  His mother had been a meek woman, who cowered around the bull his father had been.  His father had been loud and brash, a conqueror of men and his son had never quite lived up to his expectations.

Andrew had been thin and a bit like his mother at first, a peaceful sort of boy that was quiet and reserved.  His father soon beat that out of him, and he became a hardened, wiry man that would crucify anyone who did him wrong.

He had been sent to a private school in Europe and that was where he met his only friends, from the three other Otheymm families.  James, Jessica and Michelle.  Andrew had still been quite meek when he arrived at the school, and he was picked on mercilessly by the other boys.

James, a giant even as a boy, came to his rescue.  James was over six feet tall and built like a house, muscles on top of muscles.  He was inhumanly strong and took a liking to Andrew right away.

Michelle, being half white and half black, also needed a protector when she was young.  She wasn’t accepted by the white students or the black student because of her mixed heritage.

Jessica, a stunningly beautiful bombshell, was a fierce competitor and took Michelle under her wing right away.  The four of them learned about their family connections early on and Andrew had become their leader.

It was Andrew that told them about the secret book his father had locked in a safe.  Andrew had seen it a few times and knew it was written in a long lost language, but he joined a group of archeologist’s sons who specialized in ancient languages and he soon learned how to read the old book.

It wasn’t until Andrew’s father was dying of cancer, that he admitted to knowing what the book was.  Andrew could remember his last words as if he had heard them yesterday.

“I was tough on you boy, because you need to carry on our family name,” his father croaked out between wheezing breaths.  “That book can get you into Heaven itself!  Find the Tree!  Make our name immortal boy!”

Andrew’s father had dies the next day, leaving the book and his fortune to Andrew.  Andrew gathered his friends to read the book and they started learning the secrets of Heaven.

The ancient book had taught them about Seer, the stuff of creation, that everything was made of.  In Heaven, the Seer was the actual building blocks of reality and if they could learn to use their Otheymm powers, they would be strong in Heaven.

They learned about open Gattaes or Gates, that would allow them to travel from one dimension to another.  They found a way to make a Gate into Purgatory, and they traveled there to practice with their powers.

All four of them spent years learning martial arts and weapons training.  They learned about Shiboleth, the ability to move at lightening speeds, making them efficient killers.

The book told them how to build a special Gate, a Gate into Heaven, but it did not tell them what Heaven would be like.  That was still a mystery.  The book did tell them how to get into Heaven and how to get into the Garden.

The book told them they needed a Keystone and a Keystone soul.  Andrew had used his considerable resources to find a family that had a Keystone.  He had discovered that an old woman, named Carpenter had owned a Keystone necklace.

Andrew had learned that the necklace was given to the old woman’s granddaughter upon her death, and that the girl was now the Keystone soul and the owner of the Keystone.  Her name, this special girl, was Kayla Carpenter.

Andrew had a man watching her daily, and she did in fact wear the necklace.  All that was left was to approach her and find a way to get the necklace.  Then they could go to Heaven and find the Garden.

Andrew smiled as he held the ancient book that should be crumbling with age.  It was heavy and thick, filled with information that Humans didn’t know.  His friends would be arriving tonight to hear about his discoveries.

Then they could go after this Kayla Carpenter.

 

***

 

Cormac was dreaming again.

The dream started the same, running through a field in twilight, being chased by a heavily breathing monster.  Cormac was sure he was dreaming, but again it felt all too real.  He was looking for the woman this time and when she appeared, he breathed a sigh of relief.

She gestured and a door opened in space and Cormac ran through.  He found himself, alone with the woman in a barren landscape filled with rocks and cliffs and stunted trees.

He turned to look at the woman and saw that she was more than a woman.  Her skin was blue, her feet were hoofed and delicate horns breached her forehead.  Then he saw her spiked tail whip up behind her like a frustrated cat.

“Who are you, what are you?” he asked, his breath still ragged from running.

“Impolite Nephilim aren’t you?” she laughed.  “I am a succubus, a demon of dreams.  And normally, you would have a wonderful dream about bedding me and I would suck out a little of your soul in exchange.”

“A succubus?” Cormac repeated stupidly.

“Yes, as I said,” she responded, her smile vanishing quickly.  “I was told to speak to you in your dreams.  Great things are happening in the Realms and you, dear boy, are part of it.”

“I don’t understand what’s happening.  This is more than a dream isn’t it?” Cormac asked, alarmed at what she was saying.

“It is more than a dream boy,” she answered in a low voice.  “You must prepare yourself.  A man will come to you, and you must do as he says, if you wish to survive what’s coming.”

Cormac was enthralled by the devil woman, but her words were confusing.  The Realms?  Something was happening to him?  He would be a part of something?

“The dream did something to me,” he said, trying to wade through the confusing information.  “I can feel ghosts now instead of just see them.  And I think I can feel other things too.”

“We did open your mind a bit with the first dream, that’s true.  Now you can sense spirits, Demons and Angels.  That is what you felt, their spiritual pressure or energy.  You felt their power.”

“Why do I need to feel that?  What is happening?”

“All I know is that Demon and Angels are going to war again, and you are wanted in that exchange.  I didn’t bother to ask why.  I’m doing the job assigned to me.”

“By who?” Cormac asked with worry.  “Who told you to do this?”

“By he who shall make himself know to you soon,” she answered cryptically.  “In the meantime, do you feel my spiritual energy?”

Cormac looked her over again and realized that he could feel pressure from her, just like the ghosts.  Hers was stronger than a spirit, but not as strong as the shadow.

“Yes, I can feel your energy,” he replied.

“Good, now feel your own, if you can,” she commanded.

Cormac closed his eyes and tried to feel his own energy.  At first, he could only feel hers, but then he felt something else, a sense of power beneath his chest.  It rippled through him and he felt it coming forward, from his center.

Cormac opened his eyes and looked down to see a handle sticking out of his chest.  His eyes widened and he grabbed it and pulled, as his power grew, the object came free.  When he pulled it all the way out, he saw that he was holding a sword.

The sword was long and sharp, kind of thin and curved slightly at the tip.  It was black metal, with a black handle, with bright red ribbon tied to the end.  Cormac held it away from himself and looked to the she-devil for answers.

“That,” she said, indicating the weapon, “Is your Quizarat, or Soul Blade.  It is your power manifested as a weapon for you to use.  You must learn how to use it, and how to separate your soul from your body.”

“This is crazy!” Cormac cried.  “Why is this happening?”

“Everything will be made clear to you soon Cormac, but for now you must listen to me.  Separate your soul from your body.  Feel your power again, and when it’s ready, step away from your mortal shell and you’ll be free.”

Cormac felt like he had no choice but to follow the instructions.  He closed his eyes again and felt deep inside for his power.  It was like a red vibrating image of himself and he urged it to move faster.

When the shape of himself in his mind’s eye grew white hot, he forced himself to take a step forward and when he opened his eyes he could see his lifeless body lying behind him on the ground.

“Excellent Cormac!” the succubus praised.  “You have a natural talent for this!  That’s enough for this visit.  Now slide back into your body and put away your sword.  Then you can wake.”

Cormac envisioned his energy sliding back into his body, and after a few grueling minutes, he managed it.  He got to his feet and put the point of the blade at his chest and thrust in, amazed to see it slide back inside him without harming him.

He turned to look at the succubus but she was gone.  He looked all around the lifeless landscape and wondered where she was.  He was about to call out for her when everything turned bright white and vanished.

He woke up in his bed, fully aware and remembering everything.  On a whim, he got out of bed quickly and ran to the living room to look out the window.  The man was there, looking up at him.

Cormac turned away, grabbed his shoes, put them on and ran out the door.  He got to the street in record time, but the man was gone.  Puzzled, Cormac returned to his apartment slowly, wondering what part the man played in this new experience.

 

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