Alea Lacta Est. Ch. 2: The Still Hourglass
Summary: The hunt for Dark’s newest spawnlings is on.
Chapters: 1, 2, 3
King was dead to the world, completely asleep when his phone began to ring, the custom ringtone of the chorus from “I Love Myself” by the Wannadies playing.
Grumbling in anger, King blindly fumbled for his phone and answered it, “Fuck you, Ills, what time is it?”
“Seven,” Illinois answered over the phone as King dragged his hand across his face. “Look, I wouldn’t have called if I couldn’t find Host, Dark’s got more spawnlings, I need help finding them.”
“I’m going back to bed,” King decided.
“No! Kay, please,” Illinois begged and that was what started actually waking King up, Illinois really sounded that desperate. “Dad’s not doing well, I need to find them.”
“Okay, okay,” King reached over for his glasses, starting to accidentally signal to Lunky that it was time to get up and the spawnling started screeching. “I’m up, just buy me a coffee.”
“After this is all done, I’ll buy you whatever the hell you want,” Illinois promised.
Across the other side of the Egoton portion of town, Mark, Amy, and Ethan had already gotten up.
It was foggy from a rare summer cold spell. They were having an earlier day than usual since they were scheduled for an earlier patrol later.
They had their dogs with them and were talking about random topics while on a run in their normal clothes. Or at least Mark was shit talking and Ethan was shit talking to him back. Either way it was a calm morning.
Then Spencer stopped almost dead, tugging the leash as he stared down the street. The dog began growling, Ethan could physically see the hairs on the little shepherd standing up.
“Ethan?” Mark slowed down but he was still a good twenty feet away from him with Amy and their dogs. Chica was whining and Henry was just staring silently at the same direction Spencer was growling in.
“I don’t know, he just stopped,” Ethan looked around for any trouble. He saw what was wrong a bit too late. There was a patch of darker fog creeping towards him, about the size of a small mountain bike, much bigger than how he’d started out as a dinner plate sized cloud.
Spencer had smelt him but Ethan didn’t see him coming until the spawnling pounced.
A flash of aura, coated in words moved through the group and the dogs were suddenly gone, back home and fully rested and fed after their walk. But their owners didn’t move with them.
Ethan suddenly became aware that it got hard to breathe. Mark and Amy ran over to try and help Ethan when they were jumped by similar aura clouds, Mark trying to fly out of the crowd but he felt something almost pin him in place.
After a bit of a struggle the fog began to get burned away in the morning summer heat and the three heroes stood there, pushed to the back of their own minds.
“That was way more difficult than I thought it was going to be,” Mark heard himself say.
Ethan heard a bubbling laugh come from his own throat, “Let’s split up and see who can cause the most damage. I bet it’s me.”
“Eat shit, you’re on,” the demon controlling Mark spat and immediately turned tail and ran, Amy watching them both run off in different directions before the demon used her flight to take off into the sky. The Host watching the three of them go.
What most heroes woke up to was chaos. It didn’t take long for them to realize that, one, it was Silver and Crank causing the problem; and, two, they were being controlled by demons.
Not that the pair of demons let themselves get caught. The trio of demons had already been going crazy consuming aura before they took their bodies. The death troll had already risen to ten before the heroes’ bodies had been hijacked. Now things were getting worse with a super strong hero who could fly and one who could turn invisible being controlled by demons.
Marvin ran out with Chase in the hopes of finding Silver because Crank had gone invisible and some accounts said he had slipped into the river and was refusing to be drawn back out. Bing was on the hunt with Oliver and Logan to find Crank.
But it was Illinois who had joined the search with King who found one of the trio first.
“What do yeh mean there’s a third one ‘a these fookers?” Marvin demanded, his voice coming over King’s communicator.
“There were three of them,” Illinois explained. “Just don’t kill them, let me trap them and—”
Illinois paused as he watched a woman walk towards them, cautious and careful.
The adventurer froze at the cloud of aura around her, the spawnling was already so much bigger and more powerful than when they had escaped the Manor.
“Might have found one, Marv, call you back,” King warned and lowered his communicator.
“Hey,” Illinois greeted.
“Hi,” she smiled back. “Where’s the pink one?”
“You mean Wil?” Illinois asked.
The spawnling had Amy nod, “Yes, I like his aura more.”
Illinois smiled in triumph and took out one of the pieces of chalk, laced with Dark’s aura, that he used to open up portals. “Alright we’ll just head back home and—”
Thick black and white aura began to cloud around the demon’s human host, a threat, “Not so fast.”
“I’m not doing anything wrong,” Illinois started trying to move in front of King. “I can take us back to the Manor, you can calm down. Both of them are there.”
The spawnling was quiet before dropping her host, Amy falling away and crashing to the ground in a semi-conscious daze. The spawnling still looked like her, her outfit part white and part black,
“You got a name?” Illinois asked.
“Tempus,” she introduced, stepping away from Amy as the hero began to shakily pick herself up. King moved slowly to get to her and pull her away.
“You okay?” King began to whisper as Illinois drew open a portal and made sure to show it led back to the Manor and he walked through first, Tempus following him into the Manor’s entrance hall.
“Okay, you know where the other two are?” Illinois asked her.
Tempus gave a noncommittal shrug, looking around the Manor.
“I’m trying to keep them from being killed, I would appreciate a little help,” Illinois barked at her.
The argument was cut off before it could even begin as Illinois heard Dark and Wil arguing as Dark was coming down the stairs.
“For the last time, I’m fine, I’ve been asleep far too long,” Dark dismissed, his aura curled protectively around him.
“At least grab something to eat,” Wil insisted before the two of them saw Illinois and Tempus. “Oh, hello.”
“We’re still trying to find the other two,” Illinois told Dark as he walked over. “They’re causing a scene all over town.”
“I noticed,” Dark told him hesitantly. “Hello, my dear.”
Tempus was extremely hesitant about approaching him, as if he’d strike out against her. An action Dark had neither the heart nor drive to do now that she held her own sentience, and Wil’s aura still was palpable amidst her own.
“Sweetie?” Wil rushed over and picked her up, twirling her around, before setting her back down and cupping her face gently in his hands. “You’ve gotten so big. It seems like just yesterday you could fit in the palm of my hand.”
“They separated this morning, Wil,” Dark reminded sharply. “Your name, my dear?”
She smiled at him, “Tempus.”
“And where are your siblings, Tempus?” Dark asked.
“I saw them a little bit ago, but I don’t know where they are now,” Tempus admitted as the group heard an audible gasp from the top of the stairs.
The four of them saw Yan, leaning over the railing of the stairs and staring at Tempus. When Tempus looked back at her, Yan ducked a little bit.
“Yan come meet your sister, Tempus,” Wilford cheerfully introduced.
Yan came down the stairs nervously ducked behind Dark, who was eyeing his new sister carefully.
There was a little bit of tense silence as Yan peeked out from behind Dark. “Can we be friends and have sleepovers and makeovers?” Yan asked Tempus.
“Well see,” Tempus allowed but smiled at Yan. Yan’s eyes got all big and hopeful.
As the situation defused, Illinois walked over to Dark and began debriefing him on the current situation.
“—and pretty sure we’re going to have to fish the other one out of the river,” Illinois concluded.
“Right, the sooner the better,” Dark agreed, and threw open a portal.
Illinois, however, caught the fact that his hand was shaking as he did so. “No, you should go back to bed, I’ll take care of it.”
“I’ve been in bed for far too long today, stay with your father,” Dark walked through a portal, and Illinois followed him before he could close it fast enough.
“What are you doing?” Dark demanded.
“Staying with my father,” Illinois didn’t break eye contact. “If you’re not going back to bed, like you should, then neither am I.”
“I shouldn’t be in bed, I don’t need to sleep,” Dark scoffed defensively. “I am fine.”
“I’m not going to watch you almost die again,” Illinois told him.
“If I died then I was too weak to handle it in the first place,” Dark scoffed.
“No it’ll be because you pushed yourself too far, why can’t you just let us take care of you, Dad,” Illinois ordered.
“I am not your father,” Dark spat, his mental walls coming up.
“Then who is it? Because it sure as shit isn’t Wil!” Illinois shouted in anger. “He was never my dad, it was always yours!”
Dark’s next words lodged in his throat, and with his already weakened state, he couldn’t stop his blue soul from reaching out for Illinois.
The effect was almost instantaneous, the adventurer felt the impact of such overwhelming emotions that it immediately brought tears to his eyes. The burden of pain, loss, fear, longing, and the need to never let go.
Illinois reached out and pulled Dark in for a hug, the Entity trying frantically to pull his blue soul back into compliance. He wanted to reach out and destroy something, to point to it and warn everyone that he was still dangerous.
But the only thing in his arms was Illinois, and his mind stalled.
When Dark could finally get the soul under control, or at least not screaming in his mind as much, he found he had a new problem, Illinois’s aura was latched into his. Even as Illinois started to pull back, he held on, “You know, even if I was calling Wil “Dad”, I am allowed to have two dads.”
“Stop,” Dark told him, realizing that his own voice was choked up, instinctively looking around to see if anyone was watching them. Thankfully the answer was no. “Don’t give me this so it can get ripped away.”
Illinois leaned back so he could look Dark dead in the eyes, “You’re my dad, and nothing is going to change that, I promise.”
Dark held onto Illinois’s arm, trying desperately not to get even more, impossibly, emotionally attached than he already was.
He was failing. Miserably. Happily.
Illinois smiled again and Dark couldn’t help but get a little hopeful. “Come on, let’s go find those two runts before they get themselves killed.”
With that Illinois led Dark away as they followed the sounds of chaos.
1. What do you mean there’s a third one of these fuckers?
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