The Cloak of Nothing: Chapter 46

by Mark Figueroa | Featured Art by A Forgotten Pen at @theforgottenpen


Chapter 46: You look like your father. 

“You resemble a boogieman to many metaphysical entities, especially those who worship Aemon,” Th’Rut says. He stands up and paces through the furniture, lost in thought. “You caused a big commotion in The Void.” 

I glance at Kanti, who nods in confirmation. “Boogieman?”  

“A phantom,” Kanti inserts. “Th’Rut is nothing more than a red herring. I am still skeptical that—”

“I’ve been living among humans for a longtime, Kanti,” Th’Rut poofs beside Kanti and gives him serious look. Black mist fades when he materializes. “My goals aren’t that different from yours. I’m bound by a promise, remember? Anyway, Emery, I can’t get directly involved in your affairs, so just think of me as… an informant…” Th’Rut pauses. “You know… like on The Wire…”

I stare at him confused. “I don’t… really… watch TV,” I say reluctantly. “I thought you were out in space, or wherever. How could you know about—” 

“He is not to be trusted, Young Emery. Doubtful anything he has said thus far holds any validity.”

“Real shame, Kid,” Th’Rut says ignoring Kanti. “There’s lots of good stuff, you humans come up with, especially here. ‘Breaking Bad’ is Gilgamesh meets The Odyssey.” 

I stare at Kanti, and shrug. I don’t know what to make of this guy. 

“Make of me whatever you want. But, if I was here to fight, you’d be dead.” Th’Rut says looking into the fireplace. “There’s a reason Kanti doesn’t trust me. But, he knows there’s no reason that you shou—” 

Kanti’s stare interrupts Th’Rut. “This despicable nuisance speaks the truth. He has devoured human civilizations alone… In this solar system, this exile has no equal.”

“Unless Aemon wakes up, or Sha—” 

“—Those people I felt… were they—Did you—”

Th’Rut sighs. “Yeah… That was a long time ago, Kid,” he says poofing in front of the fireplace. He crosses his arms and stares into the emptiness. “The Olmecs, the Myceneans, the Minoans, the Anasazi, Pompeii… Thousands of Millions of humans. Sigh. I’m the reason—I’m the reason there’s no life in your solar system. If I hadn’t done it for Aemon, I wouldn’t feel so bad.” 

“You disregard the details!” Kanti roars. “This filth is the reason Aemon gained footing with the Nothing. He is the reason the religion of Aemon rose to prominence. He was a pawn. Fortunately, he escaped before Aemon could devour him. Unfortunately, he still lives. If I were capable of hatred, the dissatisfaction you arouse within me would drive me to sacrifice myself to end your pitiful, miserable existence. Enlil. Monad. The unnecessary calamity. I have not forgotten those thousands of years beside Monad as he descended into madness! You—”

“I’m sorry! God dammit, Kanti! I’m sorry!” Th’Rut snaps. “You can’t fathom what I live with. The pain I carry—I … I—”

“—Deserve it,” Kanti inserts impatiently. 

“The last thing I did was the bread scandal. Then I saw Monad… That was a mess…” Th’Rut says regretfully. “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!” He shakes his fist in shame. “When I comprehended what I did wrong… I tried to fill the pain of being an exile by devouring the souls of royalty and ruling with an iron fist.” 

Sigh. I just learned about her in school too… I gotta keep him from rambling. Him and Kanti are going to keep going at it if I don’t keep this guy from kicking himself. “Why are you here?” I blurt out. 

“Nice try. I admire that you care. Like I said, I want to help, but I can’t get directly involved. There’s a rumor that one of my thanes is planning something to lure you out, so she and her followers can feed themselves to Aemon.” Th’Rut sighs. “You need to learn to control your power. Kanti can’t resonate as low as Aemon, so he probably couldn’t feel the—”

“You were right. We should’ve—I should’ve discussed the possibility of all my power actually being Aemon’s,” I say looking at Kanti. “If I wasn’t such a coward… I could’ve tried to sense it myself, or at least been more mindful about it.” What the? Blood on my palms? Did I clench my fists that hard?

“There’s no hatred like self-hatred,” Th’Rut says. “Anyway, I came to warn you. I can’t reveal my sources. Take my word for it, Kanti. They know.”

Kanti nods. “This means you must banish a Nothing as soon as possible, Young Emery.”

“You beat me to the punch,” Th’Rut sighs. “There’s one in the outskirts of Chicago that I can’t wait to see put down… I mean, if you devour one, you just have to banish one, right? That one can’t go back to The Void. She would inspire more to come in her place.”

“Absolutely not. We cannot take that chance. With Aemon inside of him, every Nothing devoured is one fed to Aemon.” Kanti squints at Th’Rut. “Unless that is your plan, Lissof.”

“Shut up! If I wanted Aemon to come to life, Monad wouldn’t be in the Grave of Saints!” 

“Alright! Alright! Can you guys stop?” There’s enough space out back for you to whoop each other’s asses. “Stop.”

“I would not survive a battle with Th’Rut,” Kanti says solemnly. “However, my demise would not be in vain if I were able to chip his ethereal skin.”

“How divine of you? You would toss your existence away just to land a scratch on me, Kanti?” Th’Rut shakes his head. “That form, by the way, suits you. Mutt. Can’t look at yourself in the mirror anymore either, can you? Or are you used to submission so much that you need to take the form of a creature that can’t exist without a master!”

“You know why I take this form!” Kanti roars. He pounces at Th’rut. A force holds Kanti in place, visibly crushing his body and strangling him. Kanti’s neck slowly continues turning in one direction; his body starts to spasm. 

Th’Rut’s blue beads dim until his eyes become pits in his radiant face. 

“Th-this is all—all I have left of her—” Kanti says, choking on his words.

Th’Rut waves his hand, slamming Kanti on the ground. 

Damn. I don’t want to get on his bad side… I rush to Kanti and help him up. 

Kanti glares at Th’Rut.

“I wanted to see what all the commotion was about, and I saw it. I told you what you needed to know. There’s no reason for me to stay here,” Th’Rut says. He scoffs at Kanti, and the two stare each other down. “Enlil was a bitch, even without Anubis’ appearance. That looks suits you. You’re one and the same.” Th’Rut pauses. “Maybe you should question where your loyalties lie.”

Kanti sighs. “Just go.”

Th’Rut’s pupils flash red then turn blue. He poofs beside me, and leans in, examining my face. Th’Rut rubs his chin. “The Nothing who follow Aemon usually end up becoming zombies chasing their next high from low human resonance.” The look in Th’Rut’s eyes is menacing. “They live, they eat, possess humans. Eat more,” He pauses. “Eat even more. Eventually they fully possess the corpses of their victims. Some actually become their victims; they have human families that they harvest: spreading themselves across lineages, generations; forgetting who they are. They become an incestuous hive mind of possessing the unfortunate corpses of families. Look at Middle America and the Mid—” 

What’s his point? I already know this, or at least would’ve eventually guessed it. I shrug. “Okay? Your point? Didn’t you just say you were leaving?” 

“Hunt those Nothing mercilessly,” Th’Rut says sternly. “They will lead you to the ones who consume them, and sacrifice their being to Aemon.” He grabs the top of my head; his serious stare stabs my soul. “The dregs committed to Aemon, the Onthiems who make it to this realm have no identity or desire for a real life after their first whiff of regret, but to avoid losing themselves, they manipulate the simpler ones who can’t even tell the difference between rage and revenge.” Th’Rut vanishes.

Damn that’s a scary thought. “So, are we going to where Th’Rut said?” I ask Kanti, reclining on the couch.

“Yes, but we must play this cautiously. It could be a tra—”

“I get you and Th’Rut have your beef, but I don’t think he’s an enemy.” If he could toss Kanti like a ragdoll, he could do whatever he wants. Who would stop him?

“So, I can’t warp a million times at once so I can’t warp tiny distances until we get there. And It’s not like I can fly. I can barely use my second sight, if what Th’Rut said is true, and I’m sure it is. How would we get to Chicago without driving?” I ask looking over the horizon.

Kanti warps away. His energy gently pulls me through the living room ceiling and into my room. “We will go once you are fully clothed. The cloak will not be visible to physical beings.” 

“So, I’ll look like I’m only in my boxers if I go physical, is basically what you’re saying. Got it.”

After I get dressed and put my sneakers on, Kanti levitates me through the attic and finally so far above the clouds I see the Sun in the distance.

I nod, hovering beside Kanti. 

A small orb floats toward me, solidifying into a crystal. 

“It is very high resonance. My divine energy.” 

“That’s cool, but how can I use this?”

“Do you feel its power?” 

“Yeah, but that does nothing for me, Kanti.”

“Channel the energy that flows through it. If you can channel the energy of a spirit, you can channel a stone of energy,” Kanti says. 

Warmth from the crystal funnels into my palm, emitting a pale purple light. “Got it. I think I can make this work.”

“Hold on to it for now, Young Emery. I just wanted to make it an option. Once we arrive at our destination, we will have you use it in action.”

“Why? I can just practice now. I’m funneling its energy. I feel it. I can use this. Trust me, you can let me go.” 

“Absolutely not, Young Emery. Your astral body can take physical damage and vice versa. A fall from this height, and you will die.”

“Yea, but you said it yourself, I’m invincible.” I hover ahead with Kanti’s energy still keeping me afloat. 

“We do not know how that death will affect other things. Energy is emitted when one crosses the boundary. Upon death, you will go to Olacium. We do not know if you will let out some of Aemon’s essence.”

“I’ll be fine! Just let me go! I want to fly on my own!” I yell squirming.

“Against my better judgement, I will release my hold on you.”

“Fine. I’ll sta—ah!”


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