The symbols rolled across my vision for what felt like an eternity, and even that began to fade with time. Eventually, there was nothing left but the infinite darkness within my mind. It was rolling darkness, and at the center was the abyss. Although I couldn’t see it, I knew it was there, waiting to suck in any power. Was this why I was reincarnated into another world? Was this part of who I was in this one? I didn’t have an answer to that question. I only had the abyss and myself.
As I floated, I realized that my sense of self was starting to fade. Was this what dying felt like? Would I simply melt into the void of darkness, never to exist again? Memories of what was important to me tickled the surface, but here, I felt beyond emotion. Should I go back? Part of me wanted to. There was everyone I left in Amaryllis. It wasn’t just about those on the island who may be in trouble, but those in the mansion too.
How could I go back? As if the thoughts alone were enough to trigger something, those symbols that had been floating past my mind reappeared. Some of them began to light up, and then twist and move. They floated around and around until they finally created a magic rune. I looked at the circle that had seemingly spontaneously created itself in front of me. It was actually pretty interesting. If I put my power in it, I had a feeling it wouldn’t explode. It was built differently from the runes normal magic user’s used. It had taken into account the instability of an aseeded.
Was I an aseeded? I was just a consciousness, right? I didn’t have access to any magic while I was in the body of Caleb. Now that I was freed from his body, was I freed from his restrictions? I had only one choice. My consciousness was coming closer to dissipating. It was becoming harder to think. I put myself out into the void, touching the magical rune that had formed seemingly from my thoughts, and then I put my power into it. I instantly felt myself being sucked into it, followed by pain.
My eyes snapped open. It took me a few moments to realize that I wasn’t breathing. There was something blocking my trachea. I coughed painfully, lifting my hands and pulling at my face, trying to remove the crap that seemed to be covering me. A long tube was pulled out of my throat along with various other cables and pieces. As soon as it was out, I turned over and coughed, forcing the phlegm and abstractions free from my throat.
“Damn it!” I croaked, my throat feeling so raw that I wanted to throw up for relief.
Gagging for another moment, I flailed in my bed several times. My body was exhausted and weak. Every movement felt painful and unforgiving. I panted helplessly as I pulled various cords off my body. As the blurriness in my vision returned, I found that I was in a bed not unlike a hospital bed, and hooked up to machine’s not unlike those found in a hospital, except that it looked more like I had been stashed in a warehouse or a storage area.
Still, my mind raged and I thought to get myself up and moving. There were no doctors or nurses that came for me. There was no loving family smiling down at me in concern. There was a dark, dank room filled with crap. I was exactly like that, some discarded crap on the side of the room. I was behind a couple of crates, and couldn’t even see where the door out was from my current position.
The memory of being stabbed to death was fresh in my mind. It kept replaying over and over again like a broken record, and I could only shake in the cold and horror of it all. Had I reincarnated again? This time, did I end up in some purgatory or hell? My throbbing headache, my painful throat, all of it felt like this could be the final end considering the life I lived.
With some difficulty, I got my feet swung out over the edge of the table, and my body up in a sitting position. Most of the things that were in me were gone, and even though my entire body ached, I felt better than I had for some time. Slowly, I let my feet fall down to the cold, concrete ground. Preparing my legs the best I could, I pushed up into a standing position. I barely lasted a second when they gave out. With a crash, I fell to my knees. I grabbed onto the bed to keep from falling the rest of the way, but I quickly realized I was helpless to keep my body up.
It was at that exact moment that a loud bang sounded from the doorway which I couldn’t see. I could hear small footsteps rapidly heading across the room. It sounded like there were two people, actually. I stared at the edge of the crates where they were coming. Even if they were dangerous, there was nothing I could do about it in this state. Even attempting to protect myself was out of the question. None of that mattered when a moment later a familiar face poked their head from behind the crate.
“C-clyburn?” her voice rang in my ear.
“Mia…” I croaked, breathing a sigh of relief and closing my eyes.
I leaned my head on the bed, barely able to keep myself up. The two people who had entered were none other than Lilith and Mia. Mia was still pregnant, sitting at 9 months but supposedly frozen until a violent curse was removed. Lilith was still the scrawny girl who seemed to have a power that sat at god-like.
“What are you doing, waking up?” Lilith said angrily. “There is still much more time you needed to heal. Your body isn’t ready yet!”
“My body doesn’t feel ready.” I murmured, feeling half a step from passing out.
Mia ran to me, and while both girls were small and one was even pregnant, they managed to get me back on the bed. All three of us were panting by the time I flopped back down. I felt little better than a dead weight at the moment. Lilith definitely wasn’t lying when she said my body was weak. I felt like I was a baby.
Lifting up my hand, I could see the familiar pale skin of someone from one of the eastern countries. When I spoke, I felt the familiar sound. Actually, it felt odd being normal again. I had grown used to the body and sound of the man called Caleb. Caleb had a bit of a smoother voice and was taller. He was also literally a prince.
He’s also dead. The bitter thought rose up inside me.
That was right. I got caught up in an assassination plot, but it wasn’t the one I had come there for. My own adopted daughter and lover stabbed me to death in a garden. With that, I left Kemala behind in that garden. After that commotion, I wouldn’t be surprised if the place was swamped with guards. Did Kemala get away? What about Lyra? What about Brooke? Charlie? I had left everyone behind in Amaryllis.
“Where are we?” I asked as I started to recollect my thoughts and catch my breath.
“We’re… still in Matahari.” Lilith spoke guardedly, watching me with slightly mistrusting eyes. “Why are you here? The only way you should have been able to make it back to this body is with a complex spell! Only I have the ability to cast something like that in this world.”
I remembered the rune I had seen within that empty space. Lilith and I possessed the same legacy, a fourth of an ancient Demon Lord. For me, that power was swallowed and devoured by the abyss, but the knowledge seemed to have been left behind. I was able to construct something and pull myself back to my original body. At least, that was the only answer I could come up with.
“Caleb died,” I responded as simply as I could. “An assassination attempt.”
“Oh!” Mia put her hands over her mouth.
She was much more innocent than Lilith, and also had feelings for me. She was quick to sympathize with my death. She squeezed my hand, and I had to admit that I appreciated the comfort. Dying was a terrifying experience, and I was still reeling with anxiety and fear. Part of me wanted to shut out the world and just forget everything ever happened. Maybe I could sneak back into my mansion, and continue with the idea that I was dead. Then, I could enjoy the women in life and live the rest of it in relative peace.
“It’s not an assassination attempt if they actually succeed. Then it is just assassination!” Lilith snapped, crossing her arms.
I lowered my head. I couldn’t really say anything about that. I may have survived, but then again, I was never the target in the first place. I had been given this second life, and so far, I had almost lost it a dozen times. Two times it could be said that I really did lose it, yet I continued to make the same mistakes over and over again.
When she saw the look on my face, Lilith’s expression softened. Although she was rough around the edges, I could tell that she was a caring person despite her family’s reputation. The way she had protected both me and my child showed that she really was someone who cared deeply about the people in her life. Of course, I knew she probably didn’t care about me in the slightest. Her affection had to do more with Mia, who had spent the last year by her side.
“Well… whatever happened, it’s fine now. Your soul made it back to your body, and it looks like your body is restored enough that you won’t suddenly die. In fact, now that your soul and body are reunited, I should be able to heal you considerably faster than before. I suspect within a week, you’ll be back on your feet.”
“A week!” I tried to sit up, but Mia grabbed my shoulders immediately.
I was so weak, that she effortlessly managed to keep me pinned to the bed. However, my shock and effort were noticed by both girls.
“Clyburn… I’m so glad that you are here,” Mia said. “In a month’s time, Lilith says the curse on my womb will be weak enough that she can disperse it completely, and I’ll be able to safely have our baby. Let us just remain in hiding until then, okay? Just a month or two, and then we can all go home.”
Lilith watched the pair of us and then shrugged. “There are still two more inheritances. Now that I know there are demons and they are seeking out the inheritances, I definitely must continue to stop them. As for you, I don’t care what you do as long as you continue to make babies.”
I felt like laughing at that. Making babies. I always needed to make babies. That was my purpose in this world, right? I had almost come to accept that, but then I saw how bad this world was really getting. I could only shake my head.
“I need to get back to Amaryllis, as soon as possible.”
“Amaryllis? Why Amaryllis?” Lilith frowned. “In your state, traveling at all will be dangerous. You want to travel half-way around the world? This is just crazy!”
They were passing a bill to extend the male protection act into something perverse. I felt some conflicts knowing some of the evil men have done. I don’t know if the drop of demonic blood in every man led them to act out in horrible ways, but considering I’ve seen just as many horrible things from women like Diba Monic, I thought it was way too easy to just blame everything on demons. No, there were good men too. I had become friends with several of them.
I couldn’t let the fact that Caleb’s family was rotten get to me. Caleb wasn’t even related to his grandfather. Perhaps grandpa knew this. Perhaps that was why he was so willing to send me to my death. I could just let him die. I could let both councilmen die in the same way they had set things up for my own death. It would only be poetic justice if those two bastards died because of me. However, I felt like I needed to see the bigger picture here. That Extended Male Protection Act couldn’t be allowed to exist.
Simply put, I couldn’t allow their assassination to happen. I had to go to Amaryllis and I had to stop their deaths before it was too late. No matter how I felt about these men, they were the strongest resistance to the MPA and were the only ones who had a chance rallying everyone against it. As much as I liked the idea of them dying, it couldn’t happen yet. However, Matahari was a multiweek journey by airship. The assassination was probably going to happen before the final vote, and that was only five days away. In other words, I had no time.
Since I had no time, I decided not to be delicate about it. Rather, I just needed to explain what was going on clearly.
“I need to get to Amaryllis as quickly as possible,” I said. “Like, a day if possible.”
“A day!” Lilith narrowed her eyes.
“I came from another world…” I said.
“Oh, this again?”
“You wanted to know why I was special… why I can create men? Why I don’t carry any demonic blood? It’s something to do with my soul. Not my body, but my soul. I came from another world. When I died, I ended up in this one. Wherever I am… and whoever I’m inside… I had some kind of… purifying effect. I don’t know. It’s just, my kids are half from another world, and that’s how things are!”
Mia didn’t say anything, she just stroked me calmly as she held me, accepting whatever I said. Lilith crossed her arms and pursed her lips thoughtfully. This wasn’t the first time I spoke of another world, but they weren’t really there long enough for us to go into specifics about it. Plus, at the time, I was sort of having a breakdown, so I felt it was important to reaffirm that it wasn’t just psycho ramblings.
“In my old world… we didn’t have airships. Magic didn’t exist in my world, or if it did exist, no one knew how to use it. Point being, we flew on airplanes. They were smaller than ships. They were like a car, shaped in a tube, with wings on it. They can move far faster than ships. A week’s journey on an airship can be made in a single day on a plane. Please tell me that this world has something like that!”
“I’ve heard of such items… they usually explode.” Lilith spoke uncertainly.
When she said the word explode, Mia’s hand tightened on me like she already imagined me exploding along with it.
“Rockets… that’s a rocket. So, the world has rockets.” I felt relief that at least that much existed, I thought about it for a moment while scratching my chin. “Okay, in that case, can you use your magic and build something like this? Like, a car with wings.”
“I’m not telling you that I am able to do it,” She spoke slowly, “But why do you want this thing?”
“In a few days, a woman I brought to Amaryllis is going to set off a bomb. She’s aiming to wipe out the councilmen from Matahari. She’s aiming to remove the patriarchy and set up another government. This entire place is about to descend into a rebellion. You might not want to stay here in general.”
Lilith’s eyes narrowed. “I say good riddance. The Matahari have not been kind to me. That Queen was an awful woman, and it doesn’t sound like anyone else is much better.”
“You don’t get it…” I shook my head. “Amaryllis is trying to push an act called the Extended Male Protection Act. They want to round up all of the men of this world and basically control our every action. I won’t be able to impregnate women on my terms! In fact, I might be seriously impeded by this new regime! The first part of the act… I won’t be able to create more children until I’m 18!”
I was willing to say anything at this point to convince her that I was right, but that alone seemed like a pretty good reason. The Extended Male Protection Act was an overshoot of power. It sought to control all men. However, part of that was isolating men from women and training them. Men in the current world had too much authority and control. Even in Amaryllis, which was a matriarchy, men still had the slice to hold over women’s heads. They wanted to get rid of the last bit of control men had. I didn’t see this being much better than the spooge factory that the Evil Queen had tried to turn men into.
“Two years…” She shook her head. “What are they thinking?”
I could have described to her that teenagers were too difficult to control. They wanted to reeducate men and let them out once they’ve reached a sufficient age where they were less likely to rebel against authority. It was probably something like that.
“Only I can stop this assassination,” I said. “That woman…the one who is doing this… she’ll listen to me.”
Lilith raised an eyebrow. “Why is that?”
“She’s also pregnant with my child.”
Mia’s hand stopped stroking my arm soothingly for a second, but she renewed it immediately after. As for Lilith, her expression turned serious.
“I-is it a male?”
“Flip a coin.” I shook my head helplessly. “It could be.”
Lilith seemed to have a soft spot for children, particularly the male ones. Despite having a reputation as a man-hater, she seemed to want men in the world as long as they didn’t have any demonic blood. Deep inside her, she must have seen every baby born without demonic blood as being a step towards true freedom from the demons. It was the last card I had to convince her. If it wasn’t enough, then the assassination would carry through. Terah would likely go to prison, and I would spend the next two years in some kind of male concentration camp.
“Show me how to built it, and I’ll make sure it gets you the Amaryllis.” She said slowly.
I let out a breath of relief. This plan was completely crazy. Put together an approximation of a plane, and send it barreling at 300 miles per hour at another country and hope we make it. That was my plan. However, I didn’t doubt the strength of Lilith’s magic, and with magical formations floating around in my mind, somehow, I felt like this was something I could actually pull off. The world was at the cusp of a new era, and somewhere deep inside, I felt I needed to be there to influence events.
“So, we’re heading to Amaryllis then?” Mia said, touching her stomach.
I wanted to tell her that she wasn’t coming, but one look from her and I knew that wouldn’t happen. Lilith’s magic was already sustaining the baby in the womb with the curse. I supposed a flight wouldn’t be any more taxing than anything else.
“Ah… yes…” I nodded, agreeing to anything she said.
After all, I still couldn’t even stand.
“There is just one more thing we need to get,” Lilith said uncertainly. “We’ll need a navigator.”
Navigator? Ah, she probably meant a pilot. Someone to steer. They’d really have to be crazy to be willing to fly this thing we planned to build. As soon as I thought that, a certain face flashed in my mind. I shook my head, wanting that person to never pop up in my mind again, but they seemed to remain there despite my best efforts.
“Ah… I suppose…” I shivered. “There is one person who can help us. They’re an old acquaintance… I suppose, if they’re still alive.”
I couldn’t believe I was even suggesting it, but she was the only woman who was crazy enough. Desperation made for some interesting allies.