Daemon Talon sat in the cold stone throne he'd manifested for himself at the heart of The Labyrinth above and within the imposing Fortress Index. He'd isolated himself shortly after the ritual which created the Index and probed his vacant memory. While he remembered some things about who and what he was, he could pick out only bits and pieces of his past. The other... individuals with whom he'd conducted the ritual seemed willing enough to accept him, but he wasn't sure that they should. Something tugged at the back of his mind. Some dark secret which haunted him yet eluded identification. He could feel terrible urges from deep within whenever he was around others, yet he suppressed them with apparently practiced ease. Did this mean he was a good person despite his half-demonic heritage? He wasn't so sure. Only one way to discover the truth, if he dared. With a deep sigh, he closed his eyes and probed inward.
Desolate landscape stretched beyond sight in all directions. Sharp rocky ground threatened to cut the foot while dull gray sky, if sky it was, drained all color. The air hung limp like a dead thing, suffused with the musty scent of stagnation. A pervasive sense of malaise lay about like a carrion bird patiently waiting for its prey to give in to the inevitable. This was hell; or at least one of many. Specifically, it was the Kingdom of Despair, and I was its Prince.
Had I been a mortal and found myself here, one of the hopeless souls, then I would have no recourse but to suffer eternity alone and without succor. As her Prince, however, my power over this realm was near absolute. Only one other held more influence than I. That being my Father, Vaya'ashum, Demon Lord of Despair. I felt his gaze upon me even as I sat there within the circle of power I'd inscribed to transport me to hell. Here he was omniscient and omnipresent, so it did not surprise me to be observed. Communing with my sire was, in fact, the reason for my visit.
Father manifested in front of me. This was an affectation of form, of course. The entire demesne was more spiritual than physical and for all practical purposes he WAS it and it WAS him. Despite the lack of necessity, Father did have a sense of the dramatic, and so he appeared to me as a towering gaunt figure dressed in decaying rags of formerly-fine silk. He sat upon a throne of bloody bones, strips of flesh still clinging to it here and there. I smiled at the absurdity.
"Why do you come?" I felt him ask. It wasn't a voice precisely, more like a wave of emotion washing over me with subtle nuances no mortal could convey with words. Direct communication from a being of this power in his home turf would destroy any lesser being. Luckily I possessed a piece of his essence which immunized me from such unpleasantness.
"I have a deal to offer," I replied verbally. Okay, technically they were thoughts I projected, but maintaining the illusion of my physical form was one way I maintained sanity (what was left of it) in hell.
"I will accept the Mantle and be your avatar in the mortal realm. You will be able to exert your will through me as you intended by my inception. I will stop fighting you." I could tell I had his attention now.
"The freedom to protect those I choose. Your vow to leave them alone. This would include my children, of course."
And so it was. I felt the Mantle wrap itself around me in an instant, like a lover's embrace. It settled into my flesh, becoming part of me. In truth it felt like a piece of me that had been missing for so long, now returned to make me whole. Only then did I feel my connection to the Lord of Despair as I'd never known it before and it filled me with sorrow. By taking this step to protect those who I loved the most, I was forever isolating myself from them. No living being would ever feel comfort in my presence again for I was the physical embodiment of sorrow.
His eyes flew open with the sharp pain of the memory he'd just unlocked. As memory of the Mantle resurfaced he felt it wake within him and realized his mistake. Perhaps being here in the Nexus prevented it from directly connecting him to the Lord of Sorrow and thus blunted some of its power, but it would make it difficult to connect with his new allies unless they were especially well protected from emotional influence.
As he sat and contemplated this new revelation a sensation tugged at the back of his awareness. Focusing in it he realized it was a familiar feeling. Someone was summoning and shaping magical energies nearby. No, not close, but enough power to stir at the edge of perception. Perhaps one of the other entities trapped in The Nexus was conducting some type of ritual? Curiosity was a welcome distraction from his brooding, so Talon decided to investigate. While he was master of this Labyrinth, his will did not hold sway over the Index below. It should be possible for him to shadow-walk to the street from here, but he wasn't familiar enough with the neighborhood to try just yet. Better to establish a stable gate. With an effort of will he formed a doorway in one wall of his throne room. It was a simple stone arch with a blank bronze plaque at the apex. Behind the arch was solid wall, but that was only temporary. Walking to it, he removed a single stone from the inside and shadow-walked to the Labyrinth entrance.
Striding purposefully down the stairs to the ground floor of the Index, he left the building through the front door. Once on the glittering street (glitter, really?) he turned and walked a few paces to one side of the main entrance. There he regarded the empty wall for a moment. This time it was a bit more difficult to exert his will over the material of the wall, having to contend with the intent and memory of others, but he managed to slowly carve out the impression of a doorway to match the one in his throne room. Then he pulled a stone from the opposite side of the arch and replaced it with the matching door's keystone. Raising his right hand he shifted his form and sharp claws extended from his fingernails, which he used to slash the inside of the opposite arm. He was taken aback when a dark-colored inky smoke oozed out from the open wound where he expected blood to leak. Recovering quickly he bathed both keystones in the substance and closed his eyes for a moment, willing them to be joined. With some relief he felt the connection settle into place then opened his eyes to regard the wispy vapor disappearing in the air as the wound closed itself. What was that about? As long as it did not prevent him from working blood magic (essence magic, now?) he chalked it up as the least of his worries.
After a brief return trip to the Labyrinth where he placed the second keystone in the first arch, thus completing the portal "circuit," he stepped through the new gate directly from his chamber to the street below. Satisfied with his work, he looked around and opened his senses to the magic he felt earlier. While the ritual, if that's what it was, had concluded, he felt a strong residual imprint. Turning in that direction he strode toward the source to determine its nature.
Continued in "In Character Discussion" -> "Oi"