Chapter One: (put aside)

Deep down, the darkness moved sluggishly. It drifted along like an ocean current, but it felt like being swallowed by a pit of mud.

He struggled to bring himself up from it into consciousness, but the cesspool threatened to pull him under again.

He knew he wasn’t awake. There was no doubting it, and the longer he stayed here, the more the chances of him ever waking dwindled. He felt how important it was to keep from drowning. He felt it like wildfire in his veins.

It was a war. Wraith-like hands grasped and tugged at his ankles and climbed upwards at an alarming rate. A smothering feeling overcame him as they pulled him back into the mire.

The hatred and envy that radiated from them threatened to overwhelm him, and he felt like he couldn’t breathe. The muck got into his lungs, and the wildfire burned worse.

He had to ignore it. He had to keep climbing, stretching, pulling, aching, even when his strength was seeping away faster than water in a cup with no bottom.

He struggled to escape, searching for any point of salvation, and heard a faint voice. He grasped onto it as a lifeline. He heard it grow louder, and with what little strength he made his way towards it.

There was light flickering behind his eyelids, and he slowly opened his eyes.

Bright, flickering torches blinded him. And though he couldn’t see them yet, a group of people surrounded him. He could feel them there, and it made his skin tingle. He heard voices couldn’t understand them. It felt like his ears were clogged with mud. Slowly, the feeling faded away, and he was able to hear.

“…nothing wrong…summoning circle…was correctly drawn. I verified it myself, so stop blaming me.” The voice said.

“Then tell me why I am looking at a pathetic weevil!” Another interjected.

Was this voice talking about him? Calling him a weevil, what a rather rude thing to say. He was slightly offended, but for the most part, he was too exhausted to care.

The second voice continued. “You said it was supposed to be stronger than the average adachi. So, why do I sense absolutely nothing from it? There’s not even a hint of avel in it!”

Adachi? Avel? What the heck? He wished someone could tell him what they meant, and frankly what was even going on. He felt lost the moment he woke up.

He tried to open his mouth and voice his concerns. Only a low, rumbling sound came out. It sounded like distant thunder. How strange. He tried again and received the same result. The men ignored him.

“I don’t know,Troi! I’ve already told you that! All I know is that this is a variation of a mid-level summoning circle! Judging by the formulas, the summon really should have been stronger.” {voice 1}

“Whatever, just send it back already!” {Troi}

“In case you haven’t noticed, and it should have been quite obvious, though maybe not to a hair-brained idiot like you, that’s what I have been doing!” {voice 1}

“Then, hasn’t it happened yet?!” {Troi}

Ugh. Why were they yelling? He was already disoriented, not to mention dizzy and nauseous. These men screeching did nothing to help. It just made his head hurt.

He still couldn’t keep his eyes open. Not for long, anyway. It wasn’t just the torches anymore that were too bright.

Streams of colored light seemed to flow everywhere about him. They floated and twisted like long ribbons underwater. These were blinding, and they made the torches look like mere sparks.

The brightest ribbon was right in front of him, making it hard to see anything else in the room. It was connected to a faint circle of symbols on the floor beneath him. He couldn’t see the other end of the ribbon, but he could feel its intent, strange as it was.

It meant to send him back to that dark ocean. Instantly, he was afraid. There was no way he was going back there. Not even if it killed him.

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