Inu didn’t want to attempt to control the demon, but he was scared. He was more scared than he ever remembered being. He knew about demons and he knew how unlikely it was for a host to survive, especially one already stretched so thin. He had to save Cyril, though; there was no question. But if it were still an option, Inu would try to stay alive. He couldn’t leave Cyril and the ghosts stranded and defenseless. Leaving them here, in the presence of an angry demon, they would not last long.
Inu pulled the copper rods out of his wrists to increase the spiritual attraction and apologized quickly to the terrified ghosts. Black eyes glinting, the demon barreled into him.
Inu heard Cyril yelling beside him, jumping up and down, not knowing what to do. Inu forced himself not to panic. He forced his shaky breath to slow and he mouthed the incantation of sealing, utterly ashamed of himself. This, what he was doing right now, was the opposite of everything he believed in and fought for. He preached tolerance, respect, and peace between humans and demons, and here he was using an incantation against one, to imprison it.
His heart broke.
The incantation worked and as far as he could tell, he was still alive.
Pain thumped behind his eyes. He was pressed up against the side of his own mind by the new consciousness. The world above him swirled without color. Steam evaporated from his trembling skin. He felt like he was on the verge of shattering.
“Inu?” came the small voice of Cyril. Inu heard feet padding through the grass. “Inu, I’m so, so sorry. Are—are you okay?”
Inu flexed his fingers in the grass. “My copper rods,” the words scraped through his throat. “Help me find them.”
“O—okay,” Cyril crouched and felt through the grass. There was a chink. “Found them.” Cyril brought them over and helped put them back in their holes.
Inu adjusted them and breathed. “Thank you.” He blinked and two lines of tears slid down his cheeks.
Cyril gave a look of anguish. “Don’t—don’t cry, Inu!” The way he said it made Inu wonder if Cyril was crying, too. “I will fix this. I swear on my—“
“Don’t swear,” said Inu.
“Okay, um, I promise then. I will fix this.”
Inu smiled. “I appreciate the thought. If nothing else, this has served as a very…effective… lesson as to why we don’t—“ he winced and clutched his chest. “—don’t try to control demons.”
Cyril nodded, biting his lip. “Does it really hurt that much?” he asked quietly.
Inu closed his eyes. “It’s the shame that hurts most.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Manipulation is not fitting for a necromancer,” Inu explained. “If you rely on it, then you have lost.”
“And incantations are manipulation.”
Cyril looked at the ground. His lashes grew heavy and his jaw trembled. He sat suddenly and buried his head in his knees.
Inu stroked the boy’s arm. “What’s done is done. All we can do is move forward and repair what we can.”
“Isn’t—“ Cyril wiped his nose on his arm. “—there an incantation for release?”
“It isn’t that simple,” Inu chuckled.
“No, of course it isn’t.” Cyril buried his head in his arms again. “Nothing ever is.”
I don’t know why I keep writing all these sad Inu scenes! This isn’t supposed to be a sad story, honest. I guess important turning points of the story just end up being sad. Either that or I’m sadistic and like putting kindhearted characters through terrible pain. Probably a little of both.
Some background for this scene: Inu hasn’t been teaching Cyril what Cyril feels he should be learning. Mainly, how to control demons and use them to do your bidding like a big bad necromancer. Inu has been teaching him to be civil and to basically leave demons and ghosts alone.
So Cyril gets it into his head to do some study on his own in Inu’s books, where he learns a basic incantation for summoning or controlling a demon. He gets a demon’s attention, sure, but when the time comes, he realizes the massive power a demon has and that there is no way he is going to control it (demons are what I’m calling spirits of nature, the non-human entities that guard forests, bring winter, etc.).
Cyril gets himself into trouble, and Inu ends up having to save him. Demons aren’t often fond of humans and an angry demon is nearly impossible to negotiate with.