Dorian moved Ethan onto his back, forcing himself not to look at the blood trailing from his injured head. His friend didn’t look good. Ethan was ghostly pale and didn’t appear to be breathing. Dorian nervously checked Ethan’s neck for a pulse. He had to hold his breath and remain motionless for several moments, in order to feel the thready pulse. Dorian kept his hand in place, afraid that he wouldn’t be able to find the faint heartbeat again. If Ethan died, then Dorian would be all alone with Enmerkar.
He whispered urgently to his friend, begging him not to leave him. A moment later, Ethan’s pulse seemed to grow stronger. Dorian let out a sigh of relief. Maybe his friend was responding to the sound of his voice. He kept talking and the vibrations in Ethan’s neck became more pronounced. Dorian suddenly realized that Ethan’s entire body was vibrating. Intensifying heat emanating from him made Dorian move back. What was happening? Dorian called out fearfully.
“Enmerkar, something’s happening to Ethan.”
“I just told you, he is sleeping,” came his bored response.
“No, something else is going on. His body is vibrating and getting hot.”
Enmerkar was by Dorian’s side in a flash. In the next moment, Ethan’s eyelids fluttered and snapped open. Enmerkar jumped back and Dorian tumbled backwards from his knees to his bottom, pushing away with his legs at the sight of Ethan’s glowing eyes. The ember-like glow also pulsed beneath his skin. He levitated his feet and flew in their direction. Dorian reflexively shielded his own face with an arm and drew his knees protectively up to his chest.
When no attack came, Dorian cautiously lowered his arm. Ethan had a grip on Nadya’s head. For a moment, he appeared to be crushing it. Dorian spent a terrified moment, wondering how he could intervene and manage to survive. Then Ethan pulled what appeared to be a strand of light from the top of Nadya’s head. The strip broadened until Dorian recognized the struggling form of a man. Ethan strode to the bathroom and flung the figure into the mirror.
Dorian glanced over at Nadya and leapt to his feet, catching her as she began to faint. Their abrupt contact seemed to rouse her. Nadya looked up into Dorian’s face, her eyes momentarily clouded by confusion. She slowly regained her senses.
“What just happened Dorian?”
“I thought you could see everything that Enmerkar saw.”
“That was before he started blocking me out. I haven’t been able to see or hear anything for several days.”
“Oh well, I’m not sure what exactly happened just now. I think Ethan just exorcised Enmerkar from your body.”
Nadya fell silent. Dorian watched as her gaze turned inward. She appeared to be taking a personal inventory. Her eyes widened with surprise.
“Hey, you’re right. I can’t sense him at all. But how could Ethan…”
“Everything happened so fast, the only thing I can say for sure is that he somehow opened a portal in one of the rooms. Enmerkar had to close the portal and blocked him inside of a pentagram with runes to keep anything from coming through Ethan. He got so angry that he nearly killed Ethan. The man was in a coma. I kid you not, he barely had a pulse. Then all of a sudden, there were these vibrations and Ethan was as hot as an oven and he just sort of yanked Enmerkar out of your body. Do you think something is possessing Ethan?”
“Where did Enmerkar cast the spell on Ethan?”
“In the bathroom over there.”
“Is there a mirror in that bathroom?”
“Yeah, it takes up most of one wall.”
“At any point, did you see something come through the mirror?”
“To tell you the truth, most of my attention was focused on them. I guess I still would have noticed if some spirit or creature came through the mirror though.”
“Then, it doesn’t sound like anything took possession of Ethan. More than likely, he has become some sort of conduit.”
“What does that mean?”
“He’s connected to some sort of entity who is using him as a channel into this plane of existence.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about Nadya.”
“I think there was more than one portal. The second one was in the mirror. Ethan is connected to some being in another realm who is acting upon this world through him.”
“Oh…that doesn’t sound good.”
“It depends on who is in control. Where is Ethan now?”
“He’s still in the bathroom. I can hear him talking.”
“Who is he talking to? I thought you said he banished Enmerkar.”
“That’s a good question. Hold on, I’ll go see.”
Dorian released his hold on Nadya and waited until he was sure that she was steady enough to stand without his support. He made his way over to the bathroom and cautiously peered around the door jamb. Ethan was gazing into the mirror and having what appeared to be a one-sided conversation with his reflection. Dorian was relieved to see that the red glow was gone from his eyes. Ethan’s skin color had returned to its previous pallor. Dorian was studying his friend so intently, that he forgot to remain concealed.
Ethan stopped talking and leaned in, as though listening to someone. He suddenly spied Dorian and turned to face him.
“Who were you talking to Ethan?”
“Huh? Oh, you just caught me talking to myself.”
The explanation was plausible, but for some reason Dorian got the impression that Ethan was lying. He had just watched him pausing and gazing intently into the mirror, as though listening to someone’s responses. He looked guilty when he said he was talking to himself. Would Ethan lie to him? Why was he being secretive? First, he snuck off and opened a portal without telling Dorian. Now, it seemed as though he was up to something again, which he was also keeping from him. In light of the fact that Dorian always seemed to suffer the repercussions of his friends actions, Ethan’s secretiveness was troubling.
“Why do I get the feeling that you’re not being honest with me Ethan?”
“Are you calling me a liar,” Ethan snapped.
“Calm down dude, I’m just saying that it seems like there’s something you’re not telling me. After all we’ve been through together, it bothers me that you feel like you shouldn’t share things with me. We have to work together, if we’re going’ to put an end to this whole fiasco.”
“You didn’t have my back when Enmerkar was here. Why the hell should I trust you now?”
“What are you talking about? I was always trying to warn you, when you were about to do something to incur his wrath.”
“You sucked up to him so bloody hard, I was beginning to think you had a thing for him. Seemed like you would have snitched on me in a heartbeat, to stay in his good graces.”
“You wouldn’t even have that damn grimoire, if it weren’t for me.”
“Yeah, and I stopped you from turning into a zombie, so I figure we’re even.”
“Enmerkar did that, not you.”
“Who brought him to you Dorian? I came back for you, even though I didn’t have to, because I have always had your back.”
“Just because I was…obedient to Enmerkar, didn’t mean that I don’t have yours.”
“That remains to be seen.”