Honed to Perfection

December 4, 2007

The consciousness of Stephen Michtel drifted through the currents of the void, and it was at peace. If it could form thoughts, it would have been pleased with the state of things, and curious as to whether the rest of its plan had played out properly, and when such things would come to fruition – but in the primal sea of chaos that forms the Darkening Realms, there is no room for such coherent thoughts. There is only impulse and instinct, emotions soaring across the tides of entropy and the seas of purest madness.

And then, suddenly, Stephen Michtel’s roaming thoughts felt a strange and vaguely familiar sensation. They had not felt such a thing in a very, very long time – though time cannot be measured in any proper fashion in the Darkening Realms – but they were possessed of enough faint hints of memories as to feel both dread and anticipation at the sensation. Dread, because it meant leaving the familiar peace of the primal chaos. Anticipation, because this was what they had been waiting for.

It was a call – a summons, really. The Realms around them began to twist and writhe as Stephen’s mind began to recoalesce into a single entity. The currents of memory and potentiality began to boil away as his consciousness was pulled across it, sliding through the cracks between worlds, following a well-worn path across the endless planes of existence.

And then, abruptly, Stephen was back in his own body, the Darkening Realms left behind, and he let out a ragged gasp at the sudden sensation of wearing a form of flesh and bone. The chill air brushed across his exposed chest, almost painful in its caress. He could feel his heartbeat sounding like a drum, he could feel the warm rush of blood throughout his frame. He felt alive.

He felt strong.

Voices jabbered at him in languages he knew he should recognize, but was having trouble making sense of. He shook his head – all his knowledge would be renewed in time, as his mind became reaccustomed to its former pathways. He could tell those surrounding him were concerned – concerned on his behalf, and eager to wrap him in a heavy towel as they carried him from the cold stone chamber of his reawakening. He almost laughed, but simply let them take him to safety as he basked in the success of his plan.

A year ago, to the day, he had invited a daemon – a creature of the Darkening Realms – into his body. It thought he had bungled the ritual, but he had simply allowed it to cast his mind out into its homelands while it took control of his form, eager to sow destruction and corrupt innocent souls. It didn’t even suspect that he had planted the seeds of its downfall, a series of clues that would, over the course of a year, lead a band of daemon hunters to its door where they could exorcise it from his form and recall Stephen back into his mortal shell.

And, clearly, everything had worked. The daemon was gone. He had survived his time in the Realms, which was already beginning to fade into the haze of memory. And, most importantly of all, his body was now at the peak of physical perfection.

He had always had trouble with exercise and dieting, after all. He could handle it for a few days, but all his attempts to get in shape had met with failure – he just couldn’t keep at it for extended periods of time. What he needed – what he wanted – was a way to fastforward past all the hard work and concentration, and simply end up at the finished product. Find a way to skip past the tedium and simply enjoy the reward.

So he had done so.

He knew the daemon would not be content to wear the body of an overweight and poorly fed unemployed cable technician – and he knew that it would begin to make his form strong and tough simply by virtue of its very presence. And it had worked! He could feel the strength pulsing through him, the lean muscles and honed physique it had left him with. More than that, he could sense the spectre of its daemonic energies still radiating from him – it had left a permanent mark that was more than simply physical, and that would grant him powers beyond that of ordinary men.

The daemon hunters would make sure he was ok, and he would convince them he had learned the lesson of dabbling with strange magics – and they would believe him, and let him go on his way with little more than a warning. He would be able to hunt down the money he had hidden away before beginning his plan, his savings from selling off the bulk of his worldy possessions, and use that to start a new life. He might even try finding any moneys the daemon had accumulated during his ‘vacation’ – the creature’s mind was a clever one, and if it had found the need for funds, it would have been simplicity itself to win them from the lottery or the stock market.

Most of all, he needed to make sure to stay in shape, now that he had his perfect body. It should be easy, shouldn’t it? After a year of subsisting on thought and will alone, feeding on stray bits of energy and memory and dreams, earthly hungers should have little hold over him.

Still… perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to indulge a bit now that he was back. Simply in celebration, of course, to recognize his success with his plan. He did miss the sense of taste, and renewing his acquaintance with food deserved a bit of indulgence. It wouldn’t hurt to put off implementing a regimented routine for a day or two or three, would it?

After all, Stephen thought to himself, even if he couldn’t hold on to the current state of his body, even if he regressed back into the slob he had been…

Couldn’t he always set up the plan and do it again?

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