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[Evil] Per Tenebris: A Meeting Of Minds


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There are those who believe darkness is simply the absence of light. Wiser heads, those who look a little deeper, know that darkness is simply what is there BEFORE light. When the light goes, things go back to as they were, so it perhaps more accurate to say that light creates the absence of darkness. But not a complete absence, for if there is anything existing for light to illuminate, then darkness can hide in the shadow that is cast.

The same holds true of metaphysical Darkness. The radiant Light of love, justice, selflessness and compassion can drive away the Dark urges of rage, lust, self-interest and cruelty, but those urges existed before sapient creatures formed the more illuminated concepts. And should the Light falter, or dim, then the Darkness within seeps out to retake its rightful place in our existences...

The hall was vast, vast and spartan in decor. Other rooms and halls in this dark palace were rich in decor and variety, catering to all tastes and likes, but not this hall. As it resolved out of the gloom of this place, this dimension that was both nigh-unreachable and yet closer to every living thing than the next breath, what at first appeared to be a collage of black shapes resolved into shades that were somehow at once monochromatic and rich with colour. The colours seemed... off though. The reds were dark, rich shades that spoke of bloodshed and cruelty. The faded purple was redolent of spite and lust hidden in the heart like a concealed dagger. The dusky gleam of the gold tempted the eye to covet and the hand to cupidity. The green was a dark, mossy colour such as might be found on rotted logs... or in hearts made corrupt through envy. And the silvery, grey shades were the dull, tarnished colour of apathy and despair. The colours were most visible in the stained glass windows that showed nightmarish scenes that Hieronymous Bosch and H.R. Giger could not rival, even with several lifetimes of collaboration. Frequent visitors to this hall (of which there were few) noted that the scenes changed, though never when anyone was present, and invariably represented the worst aspects of human nature in all their rich variety.

Other than the windows (though what was beyond them none knew save the master of this place), the only colour was a deep red carpet that stretched from the main entrance of the hall to a dais at the far end. Either side of the wide strip, the shadows of the hall pressed in, shifting and roiling as though alive. The same frequent visitors knew that for most, even guests, to step off the carpet undirected or, indeed, to deviate from the path to this hall, would lead to an uncertain, but definitely unpleasant fate.

On the dais was a throne such as might be the envy of Chinese emperors and, lounging in this too-big seat of power, one leg thrown over an arm and his chin resting on one hand, was the master of this place. Dressed in black, save for the white of his shirt that matched the moonlight pallor of a beautiful face framed by thick, dark hair which fell to his shoulders. At first glance he appeared to be a boy on the cusp of manhood, yet one look in the rich, green scintillance of his eyes gave the lie to his appearance, for the eyes were old, ancient beyond reckoning, and infinite in both their wisdom... and their spiteful malevolence. Now, however, those eyes were focused on something only they could see, as the living shadows chittered and whispered sibilantly in the hall around him.

For days he had been like this, seeing none, not leaving his dark domain. He searched, he pondered, he meditated. He had spent weeks in the library of this place, reading texts that could, and had, blast the sanity or hope of goodness from the minds of mortal men. Finally, his mind bursting with forbidden and eldritch knowledge, he had retreated here to his throne to ponder that which he had read. Finally he stirred, his eyes slowly blinking and opening fully, and the voices in the hall redoubled their whispering.

The plan was good. It was excellent, in fact. He knew that his friends, his 'family' would love it. Others... might not be so enthusiastic. But then, Darkling wasn't planning to consult anyone else. The Lord of Night only consulted those he considered family out of some basic consideration, lest his scheme interfere with theirs. He would not be at odds with those he, in his way, cared for. Not when his Great Work could be better accomplished with them rather than through then, at any rate. The demon that had been Tomas Ridley stood, the shadows of this place swirling and gathering around him like a cloak, and stepped down off the dais.

It was time to meet with his family after a long hiatus. He smiled, a deceptively sweet expression that was poisoned by the green eyes. They would be happy to see him, but many more would rue this day before the year was through.

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Shae was waiting near the exit that lead into their private estate in the Arcology; dressed as usual in her biker leathers, tall boots concealing a favorite butterfly knife and tipped with bone-crushing metal. She'd tested that once and decided that they did fine enough, but then so did a wooden bat.

She smiled at Darkling, pale blue eyes meeting scintillating green with something akin to love. "So, finally decided to come out and play? Here I thought I was going to have to play tag with your Shadows to track you down."

She linked arms with him, letting him lead wherever he wished to go. "It's been boring without you around. Promise me you'll spend some proper family time with me before you go brood on your throne again?"

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He smiled at her, enjoying the lightness and ease of her manner around him. One of my finest works... he mused as he lifted a pale hand to brush slender fingers through Shae's hair possessively.

"Oh, I think it will be awhile before I seclude myself again, sweet Shae." He gave her a teasing, brushing kiss on the lips before drawing back a little, his smile wicked. "I have much to do, and whilst I may be able to do it all myself, I am not so cruel a creature that I would cut you all out of the fun. Let's go and find mother and father, hmm?" It pleased the Demon Prince to play at being Shae's brother, calling Saori and Edward 'mother' and 'father' - a sinister joke on the natural order of things. "And whilst we wander, you can tell me what is afoot here in the lighted world."

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"Father is throwing a gala soon. He's decided he has a taste for politics and that will be his first blood." The changeling creature almost purred against her creator; she wasn't a Tenabrae - mindless and without willpower to tell Tomas no - but her entire being was made to please him and those he loved. It gave her pleasure to do so, and she was a creature of infinite passions.

The two stepped between worlds, exiting the eternal realm of Darkness into a small, opulent study set aside exclusively for Tomas in the Mansfield estate. "Mother has been busy making all the arrangements, you know how perfect she is at such things. I've been....bored, really. It's never as exciting around when you stay over there for so long, and I've run out of ideas on fun things to do with humans. They're so...predictable. And breakable."

She shrugged in annoyance; in her brief existence the family had come to learn a single truth about their ever-changing child: she despised boredom even more than she despised weakness. She hugged his arm again, "But you're back! That's always more interesting!"

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"Politics..." Tomas collapsed with boneless ease into a comfortable chair, pulling Shae to sit on his lap as he absently caressed her, musing over what his 'daughter' had told him. She was a pleasant counterpoint to his Tenebrae: warm and vital where they were cold.

"You know father." Shae replied as she nuzzled against him. "He likes to plan and plot, to take the long view. I understand the principle, but it's so dull sometimes."

"Perhaps." Darkling smiled that razor-smile again. "But this time, I think we can help one another's schemes more directly. The success of my plan will aid his, and vice versa. And seeing as a public figure such as he plans to be can have no obvious ties to such as me... Well, that makes things all the sweeter for you, dearest Shae. More fun to be had."

"What sort of fun?" Shae asked excitedly, her hands running over the white shirt that covered Darkling's chest. "What's the plan?"

"Well, I won't tell everything right now." He saw the beginnings of a pout and tapped her lips with one finger. "Stop that. I'll tell everyone all together. You know how I hate repeating myself. But! I can tell you that the first step will be a treasure hunt. For some very odd treasures indeed."

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Saori rose from her bath, stepping into the shower. She silently washed away the bubbles that clung to her skin, unaware that her younger husband and newest lover sought her. The water washed over her skin as the mother of two and one of London's most fiendish creatures lost herself in the shower.

Gradually, she turned off the water and stepped out, seeking her towel. As she dried, she wondered what her daughter was doing. Though she'd never have confessed it to anyone, she hadn't been thinking about Shae. She tried to put away those thoughts as she pulled on her robe and left her quarters.

A distraction soon arose; Darkling and Shae's voices echoed through the house. That put a smile on her face like nothing else could and Saori followed the sound to Darkling's study. Silently, she watched the two of them for a moment, her smile content and genuine. "My Darkness, my Child," she said, her soft voice breaking into their conversation, "what mischievousness are you planning? And how can I join in?"

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"Great mischief, my Delight." Darkling's green eyes followed Saori appreciatively as she entered the room. He slid Shae onto the arm of his comfy chair and stood, throwing his arms wide like a stage magician as Saori approached. "Excellent mischief. Grand mischief!" he exclaimed with a laugh. Most ordinary people who would shiver and recoil from the sound of Tomas laughing. It was a beautiful sound, compelling and utterly malicious, that called to every negative impulse in the human psyche, from lust to envy to fear to madness. It was the sound of dark steel talons slicing flesh, of whispered secrets that inflame the mind. The emotion expressed in Tomas' laugh was a dark, perverse mockery of joy, stripped of all warmth and humanity.

Needless to say, his family loved to hear him laugh.

"You didn't tell me how I could join in." Saori mock-pouted as she went to him, slipping her arms around the boyish waist and kissing his cheek, then his lips.

"Or me." Shae said from her perch on the chair, smiling, blue eyes alight with curiousity as she looked at Saori. "All he's said so far is that it's a treasure hunt."

"Treasure?" Saori raised one exquisite eyebrow as she sat down on the other arm of the chair, guiding Tomas to sit back between her and Shae. "What need do you have for treasure, my Darkness?" she mused for a moment, then snapped her fingers. "An artifact: something magical."

"Something cursed." Shae said with an excited catch of her breath. She loved playing around with the few magical trinkets Darkling made for her from time to time. Magic in general fascinated her, the more dangerous and disruptive the better.

"Close, my darlings. Not magical objects in and of themselves, at least, not unless someone has already found them and used the resonance to enchant them. But items with meaning, their power hidden in their symbolism. They'll take some finding, and maybe some liberating from their current owners. But I believe the results will be worthwhile." Tomas slipped an arm around each woman's waist as he explained. "Is Edward around? I understand he plans to enter politics more directly. I would like for our plans to compliment one another."

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Edward was indeed around, and they found him in his private study in the sub-basement, tinkering on his latest electronic gadget. He glanced up as his family entered, and his lips broke into a pleased smile at the sight of Darkling's presence.

"Ah.. Tomas! Welcome back!"

He stood up and walked over, his gaze flickering appreciatively over the handsome "youth" who was an intregal part of Edward's dark family.

"You've been gone too long - my shortcomings are more apparent in your absence, keeping up with our girls is so much easier with you around. It must be my old age catching up with me."

He smiled wryly at the jest, and the two men embraced tightly. Then Edward leaned back casually against his desk, his expression content and a bit playful.

"So, we you be staying here with us for awhile? Or have you just come by to check in and let us know that you haven't been eaten by any monstrous creatures of the dark?"

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"Oh, I doubt any of them would dare." Darkling's smile was radiantly sardonic as he hopped up to sit on the edge of a workbench, his feet swinging a little off the floor. "No, no. I'm staying for a while this time. I have spent some time since the last setback with that wretched Seraph pondering how best to proceed, and now I emerge from my seclusion to find that you have also chosen to become active in a new path." He smiled at the older man, clasping his hands together and steepling the fingers before glancing over them at his Family.

"I have decided to plan long-term. To exercise patience. Make no mistake, I wish to see this 'shining' city drown in shadow and wickedness." He looked at Edward. "I want to help you achieve your goals of power, my friend. I want to see you rise, and for your rise to be the whispered herald of London's fall. I want to see the heroes of this land become its villains, and the villains to become it's icons." Darkling smile stretched across his full lips.

"You will rise, and in your wake corruption and graft will enter the system like never before. But no stigma will attach to you, none will suspect you of being the wolf in the fold. You will be the voice of humane reason, an honest man in the corrupt sea, exposing the foibles and hypocrisy of the status quo, openly where it serves you, and secretly where it serves better."

"And I...? Whilst you attend to the political and civil decay, I will attend to the metaphysical corruption of this city, with the help of my beloved Family, of course." He grinned almost boyishly, though behind the dimpled smile a shark swam through black waters. "Our schemes can only help each other, Edward. I plan to curse the entire city. A grand ritual that will cause the darkness of London to rise up within the arcology. Every famous injustice; every notorious crime; every iota of persecution, hatred, corruption and human sewage in this great city's long memory will seep through the very mortar and glass of it's shining symbol of progress." Tomas stood, slipping off his perch and moving to the middle of the room, his eyes meeting Saori's, then Shae's, then Edward's as he spoke almost rapturously, his glittering gaze distant.

"And slowly, slowly but surely, the spirits of those here will become small, and petty, and crabbed. The worst of human nature: the selfishness and fear, the envy and greed, will all rise to the top of the broth. The heroes will wonder why they are not as appreciated, and some will start to doubt their path. Others will become reviled - oh, not overnight. But slowly, as people begin to realise that no, they don't WANT these paragons of goodness and light making them feel inadequate. People will start to demand accounting for the heroes' actions - you will be in a position to lead the charge there, my friend, as a moderate but firm vox populi. As the heroes begin to find themselves reviled and constrained by the law, we can surely arrange a few incidents to add fuel to the growing unrest." Tomas turned to Edward again, almost laughing as he spoke now.

"Isn't it delicious? You will surf to prominence and power on the fears and envies of lesser men."

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  • 3 weeks later...

As Tomas began speaking of his plans, he could see a slow half-smirk of pleasure begin to play at the corner of Edward's lips. That his dark prince was beginning to think long-term delighted the oldest of the family, for he knew it was most likely his more distant perspectives that had opened Tomas's mind to such extended possibilities. After all, the longer one spent on planning havoc and chaos, the greater and more delightfully horrific it could be. Why settle for moments - days - or even weeks of fulfillment, when one could have decades?

"It is indeed, Tomas. A city-wide curse.. I am engrossed. And you've no idea how delighted I am to hear you making such plans - they will indeed compliment my own perfectly. The metaphysical corruption of this city, timed to coordinate with my ascent to political power, will give us the perfect opportunity to disillusion the masses against their so-called 'saviors' and nudge them from their places of power and influence. There is no better way to sway the public opinion than through repeated failure from their heroes. Although I must confess, I suspect you've spent part of your absence planning that very presentation. I mean, truly.. 'You will surf to prominence and power on the fears and envies of lesser men'..?"

He circled around to the girls, leaning down and placing a gentle kiss on the cheek of each one - Shae first, then Saori. Then he winked at them, and grinned wickedly.

"It's like he wrote them just for me, isn't it, ladies? Perhaps our dark prince thought he would have to seduce me into such an idea."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Shae tried to pull Edward into something more than kiss on the cheek, but the older man was by now well used to her antics and deftly moved on to his wife. She mock-pouted, then nuzzled at Saori's neck instead. "Mmm...you could tell that he still does..." she teased.

"Besides, this has got to be better than hunting humans outside of the Arcology....I swear, they get stupider by the day." Her eyes lit up as a thought caught her, "Ooh! Hey, could I start messing with the heroes? I mean, they're stupid, but they'd have to be more interesting hunting than just humans."

She bit her lip, thinking, "I mean, they lock up anything they think is dangerous, so they probably know where some useful stuff is. I could see what I can...hmn, tease out of them, and set up some hooks for embarrassing moments later." She blinked with wide-eyed innocence at Edward, "After all, I'm quiet under age and oh so impressionable." Shae definitely wasn't the mastermind of the family, but when she had direction from her elders, she was the epitome of enthusiasm.

"Ditto for a lot of the politicians. A good chunk of them are pedophiles, closet homosexuals, or addicts of one kind or another. Give me a couple of months and I can have the whole circus woven in new webs of blackmail and 'what was I thinking' nights." Her grin this time was a sociopaths malice, "And I can make sure that ones that are squeeky clean do something unfortunate when we want them to."

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Saori smiled. "Well," she said softly, "I have some ideas." Shae turned to her, throwing a leg over her 'mother's' lap. "Just some names that drift to the top of the pile when I consider Edward's climb to the top."

"Oh, like what?" Shae asked, her eyes wide with excitement.

"Later, darling," Saori said, kissing those pouting lips as Shae expressed her disapproval. Her hand began to rub up and down Shae's back in a gesture meant to be comforting. "One task at a time. We should focus." Exotic brown eyes lifted to Darking's luminescent green ones. "You spoke of a curse? How would we do this? Because I want to help."

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