Mini-Interlude 33 – Columbus

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The following is a commissioned mini-interlude focusing on Columbus. It takes place a few nights before the current situation. 

Completely alone, yet without any privacy. Helplessly trapped, as he stood in the open sunlight, surrounded by friends and family. Cut off, broken and caged… while casually chatting with some of the people who meant the most in the world to him. Columbus Porter’s body held no visible chains or locks. Yet he was as much of prisoner now as any person in history had ever been.

Standing in the hallway just outside his own room in the middle of the night, Columbus’s eyes looked first one way, then the other down the corridor. As he took in the sight of the dark, empty hall, the boy strained to shout, tried to say something, anything. Making a noise, twitching a finger, blinking just once by his own volition. Just blink, that was it. That would convince him that there was at least the slightest chance, if he worked hard enough, that he could eventually communicate. Just blink. One single, solitary blink. Do it. Blink. Blink. Blink, damn it!

I’m getting the distinct impression that you don’t like me very much, boy.

The voice in his head was distinctly amused, before his eye blinked once, twice, three times. Yet Columbus wasn’t naive enough to think that he had finally succeeded. No, this was his jailer, the creature who had taken over his body, taunting him by showing how much she could make him blink, how much she could make him do anything she wanted. She was making a point, again.

You’re supposed to be an angel, right? He thought the words at her, at that inescapable presence in his mind that sorted through his every thought, his every memory and impulse. So why don’t you do me a favor and go to hell?

Another slight chuckle from his jailer, the one called Charmeine. You already know the ones that you call demons, boy. And this hell you speak of is their world, their home, their space.

Fomorians. The word came from Columbus without prompting. He knew. They’d had the conversation before. At least as much as the Seosten woman bothered having conversations with him. He had the distinct impression that she saw him more as a horse than a person. Except even that wasn’t right, because most people cared what happened to their horses.

Aww, don’t be like that. I care about what happens to you. The tone didn’t inspire confidence in that claim. It was too… dark, too amused by his feelings. After all, if you die, I have to find a new body. Maybe your roommate would work. Or… hmm, there’s always that team mentor. What do you think, roommate or mentor? Little Felicity’s step-daddy’s not immune to possession.

You know, Columbus thought, unable to help himself, if you put half as much effort into trying to figure out why Flick’s immune to you as you put into making snide remarks, you might’ve gotten somewhere by now.

Because it wasn’t just the Seosten possession that Flick had somehow been made immune to. Several attempts at using Seosten magic to influence or change her had failed as well. Charmeine had secretly entered the girls’ room and put some kind of spell on her pillow to put her into a coma in order to get her out of the way. Yet, somehow, it hadn’t worked. That, along with a couple other failed attempts to place an enchantment of some kind on the blonde girl had convinced Charmeine’s superiors to add Flick herself to the watch list. Charmeine wanted to just kill her and be done with it, like they had with Pericles, but the one called Manakel had vetoed that. Apparently it was too dangerous with the kind of attention Flick had on her, and their superiors wanted to know more about why the girl was apparently immune not only to their possession, but also much of their magic.

After all, the only option aside from her being immune to the spells that had been left for her was that she had somehow disabled them. But that would require more knowledge of magic than Flick had, and it would mean that she’d never actually brought it up with anyone as far as Columbus knew.

I think… All of the amusement had vanished from Charmeine’s tone. … that you need a reminder of your exact position in this relationship. As she finished speaking… thinking, whatever, Columbus found his body turning to walk down the hall and to the exit of the building.

It had been the wrong thing to say, wrong to say anything at all. Columbus had known that. Yet after everything that had happened, as helpless as he was, the chance to get even a little back at the creature who had imprisoned and enslaved him for so long was too hard to resist.

It had happened at the airport in Jackson, back during the Thanksgiving trip. While he had been waiting for Shiori, Flick, and her father to show up, Columbus had gone into the bathroom. While he was washing his hands, a dark-skinned woman with short white hair had appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Before he could react, she had reached out to touch him. The next thing he knew, his body was no longer his own. He couldn’t speak, move, or control any part of himself. All of it was done by the creature who had so easily taken him prisoner through a simple touch.

From that moment on, throughout the holiday trip, throughout finding out about the Fomorian attacking Koren’s family, what had happened to Roxa, and all the rest of it, Columbus had been puppeted by this creature. It had been months by that point. Months since he could even twitch an eyebrow by his own volition. At this point, Columbus wasn’t sure he remembered what controlling his own body was even like.

And yet somehow, as his body walked out the door of the dorm building, he still felt like he’d made a mistake by provoking the creature that was infesting him. As bad as things were, there were always ways that it could get worse.

Even as Charmeine took him outside, she was moving his hand to his pocket. Tugging out a small medallion, she made his mouth speak a single word, the activation trigger for the spell that had been placed on it. A moment later, his hand (along with the rest of his body) turned translucent to his own gaze. From previous experience, the boy knew that he was now completely invisible to everyone else. Not even Gaia had been aware of his presence the last time his puppeteer had used the spell to spy on her.

Granted, even Charmeine wasn’t confident enough in the spell to risk actually doing anything or getting close to the headmistress. But still, the fact that she could put his body in the same room as the powerful Heretic without being noticed was terrifying.

It also meant that neither of the security guards who chose that moment to walk past on their patrol had a chance of knowing that Columbus was standing within a few feet of them. They chatted with one another about some baseball game they had been watching, pausing to look over the door that Columbus had just come out of before moving on.

Once they were gone, Charmeine directed his body across the grass and up toward the entrance of the girl’s dorm. The stealth spell affected even the golden statue of the woman with the bow and arrow who was meant to keep underage boys out of the dorm. It stood still and motionless even as his body opened the door and stepped through into the hallway.

To his surprise, rather than heading for the room that Flick and Avalon shared, Charmeine directed his body further down the hall. Eventually, he stopped in front of a different door, the one that led into the room that Shiori shared with Rebecca Jameson.

Again, his hand dipped into a pocket and came out, this time with a small hand-held mirror. Holding the mirror up to the door, with the glass facing him, Columbus’s lips murmured another spell. The surface of the mirror changed from showing his reflection to reveal the interior of the room that it was pointed at. It was even lit up despite the fact that the room on the other side of the door was pitch dark.

Charmeine kept the mirror up long enough to confirm that both of the room’s inhabitants were accounted for and asleep before making his hand reach out to quietly open the door. It came easily, since she had long-since acquired a master key that unlocked every door in the school whenever needed.

Hey, wait. What are you doing? Columbus cut in even as his body inexorably stepped into the room and closed the door after himself. You can’t possess Shiori and Rebecca doesn’t know anything about what’s going on.

One thing you need to learn, the voice in his head informed him, is that I don’t need to possess people to make them useful.

With that, Columbus found himself flicking on the magical privacy screen that instantly surrounded his sister’s bed before walking over to the girl herself. She was laying there on her stomach, one leg sticking out of the covers and off the bed while snoring faintly. The same as she had when they were little and a bad dream had driven her into Columbus’s room.

His hand reached out, gently brushing a little bit of hair off of Shiori’s face even as he quickly thought, Hey, hey. Wait a minute, leave her alone. You said yourself if you possess her, it’ll kill you. She’s no use to you, right? So stop, just stop.

As I told you, she replied flatly, there is more than one way to make the girl useful. Perhaps she’ll serve as an adequate reminder of your place.

Reminder of my place? He was incredulous. I can’t do anything, remember? I can’t stop you, I can’t even make myself blink! What do you have to prove? You can’t possess her and she can’t do anything for you. So what–what are you…

He trailed off as his hand carefully removed a necklace from one of his pockets. Within a couple of seconds, he had hooked it around Shiori’s neck before giving her face a pat.

Now, the voice in his head announced, there’s no chance of her waking up until the necklace is removed. See?

In demonstration, his hand lashed out to smack Shiori hard against the face. Her head snapped a bit to the side, yet her snoring never wavered. And with the privacy field up, Rebecca didn’t hear anything either.

Stop it! Yet again, Columbus struggled to yank his hand away from his sister. Yet for all his effort, he accomplished nothing. Once more, he found himself smacking Shiori hard enough to bruise her cheek. A bruise that would disappear by the time she woke up, thanks to the girl’s regeneration.

You understand now? Charmeine taunted, moving his hand over his sister’s cheek and down to her shoulder to squeeze it. As long as the necklace stays on, she’s Sleeping Beauty. Nothing will wake her up. Maybe… maybe she won’t wake up at all.

At that thought, Columbus found his hand move slowly, yet inevitably to the other girl’s throat. His fingers closed around it, tightening enough that her snoring was cut off.

I’m sure you remember, his puppeteer announced conversationally, just how strong you are while I’m possessing you. You know how strong I can make you. Shall we see if it’s… His hand tightened even further, to the point that he could feel Shiori’s throat on the brink of collapsing. …. Strong enough?

No! No, no, no, no! Please, please! Leave her alone! Leave Shiori alone, please! She can’t help you, she can’t hurt you, she can’t do anything! She’s nothing to you, please!

Ah, but you see… it doesn’t matter what she is to me, Charmeine reminded him. What matters is what she is to you. And to you, she is… an adequate punishment for mouthing off.

I’m sorry! I’m sorry, please, please, I just–I’m sorry! Just leave her alone, please. You don’t need to do this! You don’t have to–

Her tone was as devoid of empathy as any he had ever heard. It’s not about what I have to do. It’s about what I want to do. You think I embodied the concept of revenge during our godly days by mistake? No one crosses me without paying for it a hundred-fold.

His hand left Shiori’s throat, allowing the girl to breathe. Rather than simply leaving, however, Columbus found himself stepping across the room to where Rebecca slept.

Still, perhaps a better punishment is in order, Charmeine mused. If this girl were to… die and all evidence pointed to the silly child there… that could draw in enough of an investigation to reveal her true nature.

The horror in Columbus’s own thoughts was almost palpable. Wh-what? What do you–

If this girl dies in a way that makes it appear as though your lovely sister is responsible, and during the course of that investigation, they find that she is a dhampyr… Now the amusement in Charmeine’s thought-voice was even more obvious. Well, that would be just perfect, wouldn’t it? She’ll be blamed for the death of an innocent girl and be put down as a monster, the very monster she’s been so terrified of being for so long.

She gets put out of the way so that there’s one less problem to deal with, the Heretics here find out that hybrids can become students and thus a new inquisition is launched to root them out so that all of Gaia’s machinations in that regard are brought out. She might even be stripped of her position in the process.

And, she finished darkly, you learn not to cross me. Win, win, win.

No, no, no! Please, please, please, I swear, I won’t say anything. God, god, no, please! Leave them alone. Please, you don’t–you can–please!

All of this, all of it, just because he’d made a single taunting remark, a single thought in rebellion against everything that was happening. One time, one single time he’d managed to insult her, managed to hit back. And this was how she reacted.

The worst part of this entire situation was that, as terrified, helpless and broken as Columbus felt in that moment, his mouth still smiled. He couldn’t cry, he couldn’t even make his own eyes close. He couldn’t look away from Rebecca’s sleeping form as his own hand moved out to touch her throat.

His helpless, pathetic pleading grew more desperate. Charmeine toyed with the small girl’s throat, not going far enough to actually do any damage. Not yet, anyway. Unlike Shiori, she wasn’t wearing a necklace that would have kept her asleep through it. Still, the Seosten made it clear that at any second, she could close her hand and cut off the girl’s air completely.

Of course, Charmeine eventually mused while taking his hand away from Rebecca, doing all that right now… well, it doesn’t leave you any time to stew on things, does it? And where’s the fun in that?

So I’ll tell you what. You think about it for awhile. Maybe I’ll take care of this tomorrow night. Or the next night. Or next week. Or even next month. Maybe I’ll just find other ways to hurt her, ways that can make this drag on for awhile instead of letting it all go out in one night. You can worry about it. Because, in some ways, that’s the most delicious part. Your fear, your worry, your begging. And please, do come up with more interesting ways to beg. The old ways just… they’re played out. They’re boring.

Making Columbus’s body step over to retrieve the necklace from Shiori, she then directed him to start out of the room, leaving both girls unharmed… for the moment.

And the last thing you want, boy, is for me to be bored.

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25 comments

  1. Well that was a… not-very-fun little diversion, huh? Eesh. I think it’s safe to say that Charmeine is not even a little bit like Sariel. :/

    Poor Columbus. But I hope you guys at least enjoyed seeing a little bit more of the nasty Seosten stuff. We will, of course, see more later. And hopefully a certain embodiment-of-revenge will get what’s coming to her.

    In any case, thanks for reading! See you back here on Friday for the normal chapter, and today’s tags were: Because If There’s Any Sure Way To Prove You’re Strong – It’s Tormenting A Boy You Have Total Control Of By Threatening to Kill His Sleeping Sister., Charmeine, Columbus Porter, I Don’t Know About Revenge – But She Certainly Wasn’t The Goddess Embodiment Of Kindness Or Sympathy., Rebecca Jameson, Shiori Porter

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Alright, so it was during Thanksgiving. Which means the first mini-lude was all Columbus. Good.

    I really hope this bitch either gets killed by Flick or has to live with all the Seosten knowing how she fucked up by getting careless.

    That said, I’m pretty sure Charmeine wouldn’t actually make a move like that against Shiori. Not only would that be wasting a chance at her father in the Eight Immortals, but they shouldn’t want Crossroads to learn that half-humans can exist.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Alright, so it was during Thanksgiving. Which means the first mini-lude was all Columbus. Good.

      Correct.

      That said, I’m pretty sure Charmeine wouldn’t actually make a move like that against Shiori. Not only would that be wasting a chance at her father in the Eight Immortals, but they shouldn’t want Crossroads to learn that half-humans can exist.

      Not that that would stop her from convincing Columbus otherwise. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, that’s pretty much what I figured, although I definitely don’t blame Columbus for falling for it.

        I can’t wait for this bitch to go down. I hope her moment of carelessness goes down forever among all across the cosmos as “Charmeine’s Mistake.”

        Flick: I’m going to tell people what you did until every single person on every world in every dimension uses your name as a synonym for fucking up!

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  3. She likes greco-latin mythos? Why, me too. Maybe we could share something there: namely, her reenacting some of the eternal torments from Tartarus, Prometheus and many others… Victims’ side this time (I’d bet she’s the souurce of these stories one way or another).

    Oh, and the guys who spoke about vengeance are wrong. I’d taking this one fresh out of the furnace. Hold On Colombus, Cavalry will be there for you.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Can I just say that I can’t wait to see Flick beat the crap out of this Seosten? I hope it’s really painful, and that Colombus gets to do the killing blow.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. okay…
    1) I have the answer to one question I more or less asked before: are the infested aware while being possessed?
    2) good job Wyat… here is the proof that a extensive amount of paranoïa is healthy
    3) with “angels” like that, no wonder there is the myth of fallen angels…
    4) there is one loophole in the seosten plan to incriminate shiori in the killing of rebecca: the powers goes to the killer… and in this case, it would be colombus…

    Liked by 6 people

    1. 4) there is one loophole in the seosten plan to incriminate shiori in the killing of rebecca: the powers goes to the killer… and in this case, it would be colombus…

      No real way to prove that though, at least that the Seosten couldn’t fake a way out of.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. First of all, good job Wyat.

    Second, on a related note … didn’t Wyat also ward Flick’s friends? Like, saaaayyyyyyy, Shiori? Because if so, Stupid McAngerProblems might have just blown her cover~

    Like

    1. Even if it is Wyatt’s wards that are protecting Flick, the fact that they haven’t been enough to stop Charmeine from actually going into her room and trying to use magic on her means that they’re not good enough to stop her from coming into Shiori’s or alert them to her presence room either.

      Also, I very highly doubt that Wyatt’s spells are what’s keeping Flick immune to Seosten magic. He’s good, but he’s only known about them for a few months. That’s not long enough for him to learn how to make her immune to all of their magic. Plus, if that was the case, he probably would have had the spells on Shiori and the necklace wouldn’t have worked on her. AND he would have extended those protections to all of Flick’s trusted ones by now, including Columbus.

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  7. Hm. Charmeine is quite the arrogant and cruel bitch when she holds all the cards eh? I long for the chance to see her powerless and trapped, let her feel even a fraction of the fear and despair she gleefully inflicted on Columbus and who knows who else, before her end comes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hm. Charmeine is quite the arrogant and cruel bitch when she holds all the cards eh?

      Funny how that works. We’ll see how she feels when things change.

      I long for the chance to see her powerless and trapped, let her feel even a fraction of the fear and despair she gleefully inflicted on Columbus and who knows who else, before her end comes.

      I think a lot of people want to see that.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Okay, so… This has been going on since Thanksgiving. Does this mean that Charmeine WASN’T the one who killed Pericles? It was clearly a murder and Pericles must have been surprised by the assault – a fight would have been noticed for sure (unless the Seosten are SO powerful that they can just walk up to an centuries-old Heretic in their angel-form and murder the hell out of him without a fight). Suicide by possession is also out since that wouldn’t have looked like murder (unless Charmeine is REALLY incompetent). And we know that Lie is occupying Pace. Nobody else mysteriously died or disappeared shortly before thanksgiving, so Charmeine didn’t just switch bodies… Which means, she didn’t possess anybody else in Crossroads. That just leaves Manakel, the third Seosten, right?

    Like

    1. Yeah, it was Manakel who killed Pericles. That’s what Fahsteth said in 23-06.

      Avalon started to take a step at him then, muscles tensed until I quickly put a hand out to catch her arm. The other hand I used to keep the blade close to the unconscious teleporter’s neck, just in case. “Fine,” I put in. “Let’s go with the big one then. Who killed Zedekiah Pericles?”

      Fahsteth chuckled at the question. “Can tell you who was responsible for it, not who did it.” Before I could question that, he continued. “The one responsible for it was a Seosten called Manakel. But you know, all that possession shit, I dunno who he’s riding around in over there.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We knew that Manakel ordered it, but this chapter implies that he also did the deed himself. That was something Fahsteth couldn’t or wouldn’t confirm, because of “all that possession shit”.^^

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      2. Huh. I took Fahsteth’s words to mean that he knew Manakel did it, but not whose body he was possessing. Rereading it, I guess the wording is ambiguous enough that it could mean he ordered another Seosten to do it.

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    2. Hendy is correct, the statement was supposed to mean that Manakel killed Pericles, but that Fahsteth didn’t know who he was possessing at the time.

      We know there are four Seosten involved with this. Two are at Crossroads, Charmeine and Manakel and two are at Eden’s Garden, Lies and Paschar. Manakel was the one responsible for killing Pericles, but the question remains of who he was possessing when he did so.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I am reminded, indirectly, of the gods in Age of the Five, the Trudi Canavan series. They were ascended beings, no longer able to interact with the world except through magic, and while quite powerful, they were pretty ruthless due to boredom (immortality) and because they’d killed all the more merciful gods.

    Like

  10. Columbus is kinda lucky Charmeine is female. Because there are worse things than seeing your own sister dying at your hand.

    Like

  11. Damn, Charmeine is one hell of a sadistic bitch, and can only hope that her demise at the hands of Flick or Shiori is suitably prolonged and unpleasant if she won’t have the fortune to try possessing a half-Alter while mucking around Crossroads.

    Though I am really curious about just why Flick is immune to both possession and the mind-control magic of the Seosten- another important future plot point to be uncovered.

    Like

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