London’s rains brought me comfort and contentment, though many seemed to think it was dismal. But its gray skies and dark clouds were my preferred weather, and it was here that I could bask in it. I had come back to check in on Nox and begin the search for a new location for my traveling night club. I was not about to settle down anywhere without looking ahead, and hope for the best.
My flat was dark, all but a single light was on in my study. I sat with my fingers hovering over the keyboard as if something would materialize from them. I had been toying with a casual comment Eros had made to me many moons ago, about the dark web. I had not considered venturing outside of my realm before, but something about his words had hooked me. So, here I was.
I knew how the dark web worked, and how to access it, but had never had a cause to do so. Now was as good a time as ever. I had been digging through articles on the dark web: what you could find, services and goods that weren’t exactly wholesome, forums and chat rooms on essentially whatever you wished. The list was endless. It wasn’t until I was on my tenth read that I realized something was very wrong.
I couldn’t feel my body.
I leaned back in my chair, horror rising as I saw my legs glitching in and out, as if I were a particularly bad piece of coding. Panic rose in me now. I made to flex my hands out, to push myself away from the computer, but they were frozen in place and pixelating, drifting off towards the screen. Someone, or thing, was pulling me in.
I couldn’t call for help and I couldn’t move, so I watched as I disappeared. A nasty feeling jabbed my thoughts. I glanced around the room, trying to find the source as it jabbed at me again. My gaze fell onto my computer. A revolving smiley face had appeared in the middle of my screen, devil horns and a smirk on its face. And below it, the words “HA HA HA” flashed. Whatever it was, it was taunting me.
Glaring at the screen, I leaned forward as it began to flicker rapidly, struggling to press a finger to the monitor. My fingernail touched the glass, a rush of noise hit my senses, and I was pulled inside, leaving my London flat behind. The light in my study shuddered.
Walls of binary, hexagonal maps of city blocks I didn’t know, key codes to nameless weapons, diaries of young love and lives lost. It was a dizzying amalgamation of information that I opened my eyes to when I found my bearings. It reminded me of my birthplace, deep inside the Void, but instead of stars and the Milky Way above me, there was a neon blue grid running as far as the eye could see overhead. Light ribbons flowed by me, and when I examined them closely, I could make out a steady stream of words and images in them.
“What is this place?” I murmured, trailing a nail over the ribbon. Fragments of what I assumed were data, flickered into nothingness.
I straightened up slowly, the back of my neck tingling with a new presence. I turned around, but saw no one there.
“And you challenged me.”
A disembodied laugh reverberated off me, grating on my nerves. “We have heard so much about you since you returned to Earth, Lady Nox. It was difficult not to reach out to you sooner.”
My eyes narrowed, glancing from side to side as I folded my arms. “From who? My name is not that far-flung yet.”
Suddenly, the light ribbons pulsed around me and my name, in various forms, popped up from them.
Clear And Unbiased Facts About Nyx, Primordial of Night (Without All The Hype)
11 Methods Of Dominating the Night, By The Goddess Nyx Herself
If Nyx, Greek Primordial, Is So Terrible, Why Don’t Statistics Show It?
More alighted around me, highlighting my bemused look. “Where is all this coming from? I’ve never written any such articles, and I certainly haven’t done an interview.”
“Word travels fast when you live in the age of the internet, Lady Nox. I thought you would have known that.”
“Don’t patronize me, spirit,” I hissed. “You have not bothered to show yourself, so I gather you are either a coward or afraid. I am used to both when they come before me, bleating petty war cries.”
The grid above me changed colours ever so slightly, from a blue to pea green. “Do not assume you have the same power here as you do in your own plane, Primordial.”
My wings materialized, and I pulled them closer to my body as I slid into my immortal form. “I will assume anything I wish, about those who would give me no reason to believe anything else.”
A high degree of dissonance reverberated around me, before pixels started swirling up from the floor, swatches of data pulled from the light ribbons snagging it. “Then allow us to make ourselves clear.”
The pull of energy and light turned into building blocks and meshed together, forming the loose outline of something humanoid. I watched apprehensively, summoning my kopis to my hand as it completed itself. It barely resembled anything that could be considered a human, except two dark pits, where eyes would have been. It gave what I assumed was a halting bow.
“We are the tulpa of the dark web. Welcome to our domain.”
“A tulpa? Here, of all places?” I snorted, tightening my hand around my kopis as it took a step towards me.
“Where else?” It gestured around us, the grid above shuddering for a moment. “Mortals have been turning on one another since time immemorial. In this age, it has only become easier.”
A quick stream of headlines flowed by me again, many outlining civil wars, suicide rates rising over bullying cases, and mental health being a hot topic across the globe.
“We have become much stronger, grown in count. It won’t be long until we are able to leave this space.”
I shot the tulpa a black look, standing a little straighter. “You’re not going anywhere.”The screeching sound of metal on metal ripped through me, and I stumbled, shaking my head at the obnoxious noise. A flurry of movement before me barely caught my attention, and I found myself toe to toe with the tulpa.
It had no body odour, no sense of presence, like something from my plane would have, but it made me feel like I was somehow suspended. Sadness and anger rose to my throat, and when I shook my head to try and clear it, the tulpa made a choking noise, I assumed its version of a laugh.
“You feel us now, Lady Nox, we can see it. The bile in your throat, the burn of loss, the rage you withhold…”
I shifted my kopis to both hands and took aim, but it vanished with a blink. Dropping to a defensive position, I tucked my wings even closer to my body, eyes scanning the pulsing blue waves around me for anything out of the ordinary. As if this was ordinary.
“What do you want, spirit?” A flash in my peripheral view had me swinging around, teeth bared, but no one was there. “You have chosen a poor opponent to dance with.”
“Oh, no. We think you are perfect.”
White-hot pain shot through my shoulder blades and I looked down at my chest to see the tulpa’s arms reaching through me. There was no blood, no physical damage that I could see, but the pain was wrenching me to one knee, my kopis discarded by loose fingers.
A hum of light appeared around me, and I was nose to nose with the tulpa now. I would say it had soulless eyes, but…
“In fact, you will be the Vessel in which we walk out of here. What better creature to create chaos, than Chaos’s own spawn?”
It made two fists and plunged them back into my chest, a shrill scream breaking from me. I struggled to contain myself and my heart. “I think, the fuck not,” I seethed, pain blinding me for a moment.
The tulpa hissed, reaching for my heart, and once again, I failed myself.