It was cold. There was really no other words to describe the feeling of lying on one’s back in the infinite, spine-chilling darkness, which the young elf found himself in. Because infinite it was, or at least unrestricted, for as long as one’s eye could reach, there was naught but blackness. Darker than the gloomiest of polar nights was the inside of the hellish space that had become Ash’s dream world; the space which had become a personification of the dark flame within his blazing heart.
The young elf opened his tired eyes. It was strange, feeling tired in a dream. Once again, he became a little wavering in his otherwise cemented conviction of the space’s nature as a dream world.
“Oh, but this place is very real. You would do well to remember that, mr. Tsuga,” whispered a seemingly omnipresent voice from within covers of darkness.
Ash’s body froze. Even though he knew the creature wasn’t real, he couldn’t help but to be unnerved at its limitless knowledge of his feelings. The emotions he tried so hard to hide during every waking second of his dull life. The being even knew his last name, even though he had never shared it with anyone.
‘Let me wake up, please. Let me start working. Let me become a free man,” the elf thought to himself.
“But we have so much to discuss, do we not?”
The monstrously disproportioned being emerged from the darkness. Its mask was as unnerving to look at as Ash remembered it. It reminded him of how he lived during the day; with his emotions hidden behind a mask. This being, however, wasn’t pretending to be emotionless and cold. Its mask said it all. It was as cold and dark as the world it dwelled in.
“What do you want from me?” the young elf asked, as he had found himself doing a lot recently.
“What I want is simple. State your desire, mr. Tsuga.”
Once again, a chill ran down the young elf’s spine. It’s continual use of his surname had an extremely negatve influence on him, for some reason.
“You’re quite ignorant for an omniscient being. I’m sure you could just read my mind or something,” Ash said, trying to mask the slight trembling in his voice with sarcasm.
“Has no-one ever told you that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit? But you are most correct, although I shall hear it from you.”
The young, elven monk took a step back, once again amazed by the creature. It would seem as if he was meeting more and more amazing people all the time. First Angela, now this thing, although the two of them were hardly comparable.
He tried to amass the same vigor he had felt when he had first opened his heart to himself; when he had admitted what he wanted. But now it was suddenly hard. It felt stupid, opening his heart to a figment of his imagination.
“This is just stupid. You know what I want, just give it to me,” he stressed.
Evitagen tilted his head to the side. Strangely, the otherwise crude smile on his mask appeared to have changed character, if only slightly. It wasn’t the soulless smile he usually wore, but a rather mocking, patronizing smirk
“Please, do not get me wrong. I do not wish for you to feel ridiculed. What I ask is for you to put your innermost desire into words. But I do see and understand your train of thought,” said Evitagen, suddenly cocking his head into an unhealthy-looking angle, before continuing in a voice that resembled Ash’s perfectly, “What could a mere figment of my imagination possibly do for me?”
“Don’t do that,” Ash said, this time unable to completely obscure his trembling voice.
“Please don’t hurt me, please don’t whip me, set me free, let me out,” continued the monster, still mimicking the elf’s voice. “Set me free, let me go; if only I had power! All I want is power… Let me out… Please…”
Ash fell to his knees, bruising both of them as they hit the ground. He was now completely sure. Evitagen was no imaginary phenomenom. He was real—very real.
“Fine, I want power! Are you happy now?!” screamed the elf. Fear was now as clear as day, in his voice.
Evitagen cocked his head back in place. Only now did Ash realize that the creature had likely dislocated its neck completely, as a sickening pop resounded when its head was finally cocked back in its place.
“Yes, I most certainly am.”
His voice was now back to normal, as if he had never changed it in the first place. He looked at Ash with his usual, soulless smile. The mocking smile was gone. He once again looked like nothing but a tall, thin, and disproportioned man with a mask.
“Tell me, Ash… How would you define power?”
“Authority, control, and respect,” the young elf quickly rattled off with a still slightly trembling voice.
The elf knew all about what made people powerful. It wasn’t their ability to kill with their own two hands, nor was it immense knowledge of the workings of magic. The true nature of power would be the respect of one’s peers. Being able to manipulate said peers, and those below them, into doing one’s bidding was true power. The power of a king.
“Not strength? Interesting.”
Once again, Evitagen tilted his head, like a bird watching its prey. There could be no doubt he was weighing Ash’s words. Trying to figure out whether or not he actually meant what he said.
A while passed, and the young elf started to wonder when he would wake up. When he could return to his uncomfortable bed—to his uncomfortable everyday life, which suddenly felt quite appealing, compared to spending even a second more with the creature.
“Please do elaborate on this one subject—would you not agree that strength and knowledge is required, in order to achieve absolute power?”
“I would, definitely, although I would argue that neither of them are power itself. They are the means to reach the goal—not the goal itself.
Evitagen laughed, coldly. It didn’t surprise Ash that the demon’s laugh was a cold one, because there didn’t seem to be much in terms of feelings inside the demon, except for a cold, calculating conscience which Ash supposed could be mistaken for a personality.
“I like that. You speak like the thought of obtaining power has crossed your mind a great many times, yet you attempt to take an outsider’s perspective on the subject. Tell me, if I offered you the means, would you sieze power as befits one who holds absolute strength?”
Now it was Ash’s turn to laugh, or chuckle, rather. Evitagen didn’t look offended, though, as he simply stood, watching, waiting for a response.
“Evitagen, what can you possibly do for me from inside my dreams?”
“Oh you would be surprised, Ash,” he whispered.
“Then surprise me. Who are you to come and offer me the means to obtain authority? Me—a slave of all people.”
Evitagen straightened his back. He had done as he usually did, looming over Ash with his monstrous body, but now he stood up in his full height.
“Let me start with introductions, then. I am Evitagen. I suppose you could call me a salesman of sorts, so for the sake of argument, I will refer to myself as such. As a salesman, I have had my fair share of dealings with people like yourself. Unfortunate people… Unfortunate people with desires that reach outside the average man, woman, or child’s realm of understanding. I have made kings of peasants, queens of slaves, friends of foes. I have been around for quite some time, and my understanding of what makes a king a king, a man a man.”
The demon took on a bowing position, as if he had ended a play at the theater, making Ash wonder just how much Evitagen had made up on the spot, and how much had been prepared in advance. Tailored for Ash, whose personality the demon had long since figured out; understood.
“Is that right?” asked the young elf, raising an eyebrow.
“Quite so, and let me assure you—I have been around for long enough to know that you are no different. No less unhelpable,” Evitagen said.
Ash stood, wondering whether or not the situation was too good to be true. A drop of sweat fell to the ground, and as it did, a crack appeared in the darkness.
“Our time is up. I hope you utilize this opportunity to the extent of its potential,” said Evitagen, before he showed his back to Ash, and began to walk away.
“Wait, you haven’t given me anything yet!” shouted the young elf, reaching out for the masked man’s hand. The space around Ash was becoming whiter and whiter, as the sun shone through the cracks in the darkness.
“I haven’t, that is true. I am a business man, and if you want my wares, you best bring me payment,” he said, still without looking at the perplexed young elf.
And just like that, the darkness snapped in half, leaving the young elf lying in his bed, drenched in sweat. He quickly reached down to his knees, searching for the bruises he’d acquired during his time in the dark.
There was nothing to be found.
Normally, Ash would’ve dismissed the experience as nothing but a dream. A realistic one, but nevertheless, a dream. However, he didn’t. This had been different. He had truly felt everything that had taken place in the blackness, spoken to the demon known as Evitagen, but perhaps most importantly, he could remember everything as if it had happened in real life.
‘What do you pay a monster in your mind with?’ Ash thought to himself. He scratched his chin, on which a small, prickly beard had started forming.
Without standing out of bed, the young elf reached for his mall knife on the, rotten nightstand that stood beside his bed. It wobbled slightly, as the young elf touched it, since one of the nightstand’s legs was a good three centimeters shorter than the others.
Ash practically fell out of bed, as he staggered toward the dusty mirror that hung above the nightstand. He tried to support himself on the wobbly thing, but quickly realized that that wouldn’t work, so he used the wall instead.
‘I’m too tired to even remember how my room works, huh. Have I really slept?’ Ash thought to himself, strengthening his belief in the reality of the supposed dream.
The young elf started shaving off the sideburns with as much care as he could, in his tired state. But although he tried his best not to cut himself with the rusty knife, he couldn’t help it when the blade dug into his cheek.
Droplets of blood fell unto his pale hands, staining them a crimson shade.
That was when the young elf realized something. Something that would come to be very important to him in the future.
With Evitagen’s words resounding in his mind; echoing, over and over again, to the point where it almost became obnoxious, Ash realized what payment he would have to give the demon. He looked at his hands, and knew what he needed to do.
“What a demon you are,” the slave said to himself, before falling back unto his bed, half-shaved.
The rays of daylight started to creep across his face, as he laid on his bed. The day when everything would change had come.
The day he would finally sieze something for himself.