Everything in the World Comes Down to Power in the End
“So your role in Solomon’s work was to eat babies?”
When his work produced unfortunate offspring, yes.
As one of the unfortunate offspring Solomon had produced, Sam wondered what could be so bad that it needed to be eaten by this demon, whose power felt like getting a face massage from Todd’s asshole and whose voice sounded like someone had poured a glass of anger into Sam’s brain. Solomon’s notes said it was named Timmy.
“Fine,” Sam said. “I’ll call on you if I need your services. I haven’t continued most of Solomon’s work, so we’ll find a new task for you.”
Oh, but I’m so delightfully good at my old one, Timmy complained.
Sam waved his hand, finished snapping the banishment spell into place, and sent the baby-eating monster back to hell. For good measure, he threw another spell on top of the banishment, just an extra barrier to keep the demon from returning without Sam’s explicit permission. Sam knew he didn’t need it for the demons who were bound properly, and Solomon would have cut his own cock off before cutting a corner with a contract, so that wasn’t strictly necessary. But Scott was going to need it.
“Okay,” Sam said, sighing, waiting for the stinging sensation behind his ears to pass. “That’s the last of them.”
He and Henry had read over every contract in Solomon’s records to make sure they knew the common provisions and most important gaps, and he’d spent the entire morning summoning, talking to and then banishing all of Clan Netzer’s demons to make sure he knew exactly what they were all up to. He’d found three more that had been left in this world guarding projects of Solomon’s, which Sam would go and check on when he had time, since it seemed like Solomon had had a lot going on outside the castle. But for now, he had bigger bugs to fry.
“Are you going to summon that one again?” Henry asked.
“Probably not. I didn’t like it much.” It had left a bad taste in Sam’s mouth entirely separate from the bad taste that it had actually left in Sam’s mouth. Maybe if Sam ever needed babies eaten—which was objectively a hilarious concept—he’d let Timmy out of his babyless hell, but he couldn’t really think of any practical use that he would have.
“Good,” Henry said, hand on Sam’s back. “It was awful.”
“I guess,” Sam said, ignoring the fact that Henry’s approval felt as nice as his hand. That wasn’t why he’d done it. “Let’s go.”
“Yeah. Are you okay to do this?” Henry asked. “You’ve been working all morning.”
“Yeah. I don’t want to wait any longer, we risk Scott getting back whatever power he’s lost.” Sam had the stone in his pocket and had all the banishment spells in his head. Now was the best time for this. “Let’s go.”
“I still think you should call James.”
“I still think he can’t help,” Sam said. “He can’t do a banishment spell for a demon bound to me. He’d just be in the way.” And although the Forces were flowing through him easily now, eager to be used, he knew that there were limits. Sam might be vulnerable after it was done. He wasn’t going to have that.
“Fine,” Henry said, with a sigh. “If you really think he wouldn’t help.”
“I know he wouldn’t.”
“It’s not just because you don’t like him.”
“It’s not just that,” Sam promised, though it was partly that.
“Okay,” Henry said. And they headed down to the pit. “He won’t give up without a fight like the other ones have, he has too much to lose here. He’s going to fight when he realizes what you’re doing.”
“I know,” said Sam. “It’ll be too late by then.”
“But you’re prepared for the possibility that it won’t be.”
“I am,” Sam said. He got why Henry was doing this, he really did. But it was so fucking annoying. Sam knew what he was doing, and he didn’t need advice. He didn’t need to run through a checklist to make sure he had everything. He’d planned all of this, made sure he had everything he could use at his disposal. He’d even thought about having Delilah brought down since her power had helped before, but the distraction she’d pose by being anywhere near Scott would counteract whatever help she might accidentally give. Sam hadn’t sent her and Daisy away, but he had made sure that they were kept in their room where they belonged.
“Okay,” Henry said. “I get that you’re not worried. But I am, that’s all.”
“Whatever,” Sam told him. That wasn’t his problem. But he stopped anyway, took Henry’s hand in his. “It’s going to be fucking fine, okay? The way the Forces are feeling right now, I could cast this spell in my sleep. and I practiced four other banishment spells just in case. Scott’s weakened right now. There’s literally no possible time better than this one. So…calm the shit down, okay? Your nerves are distracting me.”
Henry was quiet for a second, letting Sam hold his hand. “Okay,” he finally said, holding back. “Thanks.”
“I didn’t do it for you,” Sam muttered. He stalked off, made Henry follow him.
The pit was unguarded, because Sam had insisted that everyone stay away from it. Which they hadn’t. “Your Majesty,” Derek said.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” Sam snapped at him.
“I was looking for Todd. Sometimes the guards bring him down here to taunt him and stuff. I was hoping I could get him out of here before you got here.”
“If he’s in there I’ll send him after you,” Sam said. And he’d cut the guards to pieces, too. They had orders. “Fuck off.”
“Yes, your Majesty.” Derek fucked off, and Sam waited until he was gone before heading inside.
Todd wasn’t in the pit chamber and neither was anyone else, so Sam went right up to the rail. “Lock the doors,” he told Henry. “Scott.”
“Hey, Sammy,” Scott said, already present. Sam had barely noticed him, his presence filling the whole chamber. “You’re ready for our big meeting? I got all dressed up and everything, but then I got hungry so I ate my shirt, which didn’t help because my shirt was made out of me.”
Sam was so glad he was never going to have to hear Scott talk again. “Yes, I’m ready,” he said. “Give me a minute to prepare the binding spells.”
“Do we have to do all the binding spells again?” Scott complained. “We’re friends, Sammy. We can trust each other!”
“No we can’t,” Sam said, preparing the spells as he heard the bolts on the door slide home. “Which dragon do you want to eat?”
“Oh, definitely Sleepy if I get to pick,” Scott said. “But ideally I’d like to eat five or twenty of them. Is it true that you’re getting them delivered soon? I do like fast food.”
“They’re not here yet,” Sam muttered, still working on the spell. He just needed Scott to talk for a bit longer. Henry came back over and stood beside him at the railing.
“Of course they’re not. You know, it’s always when you’ve got the worst craving that the delivery guy is late,” Scott opined. “I swear they do it on purpose. What do you want in exchange for the dragons, by the way?”
“Since we’re negotiating,” Scott said. “What do you actually want, Sammy? Kisses?”
“No, fuck off.” Sam cast around. He’d been so busy preparing the spells that he hadn’t actually thought of any fake demands to make of Scott.
“He wants you to tell him all the places where your kind are present and help him kill them,” Henry said. “He doesn’t want any of your kind in the world except the ones he can control.”
“Aww, you want me to kill all my dear baby cousins and brothers and sisters and pets?” Scott asked in a trickle. “Okay! I’ve always hated them anyway. I can eat them too, right?”
Thank God Henry had thought of something. “Whatever,” Sam said. “I don’t care as long as they die.”
“Sure. Now do you want to tell me why you’re writing a banishment spell up there, Sammy?”
Shit. Sam’s breath caught, the spell components wavering in his mind. Before he could finish aligning them, the floor underneath him crumbled, and Sam fell along with his spell circle, which broke apart with a burst, not that Sam noticed because he was landing on a pile of rocks. Pain lanced through his leg and Sam couldn’t move. “Fuck,” he whispered. “Fuck.”
“Oh, what’s the matter, Sammy?” Scott asked in a song, his voice coming from all around Sam. “Did you fall down and hurt yourself?”
“You didn’t really think that those cute widdle spells around the pit were stopping me from eating the floor, did you?”
Sam lashed out at the source of the voice, shoving it away. Scott’s power was everywhere. He heard Henry shout. “Henry!”
“I’m…fuck…” Henry sounded like he couldn’t breathe, his voice half a gurgle.
Sam could smell blood, but he wasn’t sure if it was his or Henry’s. It didn’t matter—they were both bleeding. He focused on the pain in his leg, on the stone, letting them throb together. He wasn’t going to let Scott fucking… “You’re in violation of your contract,” he spat.
“Am I? I don’t remember you ever stipulating that I couldn’t eat your castle.”
“You know full well what I mean,” Sam said, feeling the stone’s power inside him. “Harming me is a direct violation. You’re going back to hell for this.”
“The rocks hurt you,” Scott whispered in Sam’s ear. “Not me. Do you want me to help you out of them? You seem stuck. Also I’m pretty sure Sparkles is dying over there. One of us should help him.”
Sam didn’t answer, slamming out his power into everything around him, twisting it into the shape of the banishment spell by brute force. The rocks shook, which sent arrows of pain all through Sam’s leg and his body. It felt like his leg was being torn from his hip, and he couldn’t feel anything but a mass of pain. His other leg was numb. It felt like insects were crawling into his stomach, but Sam welcomed them, burned at them with his magic. And he cast the banishment spell with a shout.
It flew out from himself, latching onto Scott. And stopped, held in place, Scott’s magic pressing against Sam’s. “Oh, Sammy,” Scott said, none of his usual cheer in his voice. “This was a very stupid thing for you to do.”
“The only stupid thing,” Sam said, pressing back against Scott. He was just some fucking bugs. He wasn’t anything. “Was letting you loose all this time.”
“You never let me loose, stupid. I was always loose. Even your father could never contain me, you never had a chance. You’re just too small.”
“I’m not afraid of you,” Sam snarled, pulling on the stone, pouring more and more power into his spell.
Sam’s magic shattered, the spell vanishing into nothing, all his power flittering away into the air. A weight settled on Sam’s chest. “Yes, you are,” Scott said, right in his face. “And that’s the right thing to be.”
Sam screamed at him, pulling all the hurt in his body to get Scott away from him, but that weight didn’t leave his chest, and Sam was soon out of breath. His whole power was at his disposal, and it wasn’t doing anything.
“Now listen carefully, we’re negotiating now,” Scott told him. “Sparkles is about to bleed out from that big hole in his armpit. I’ll save him for you if you want. But in exchange you’re taking my leash off and letting me do whatever I want. Or, you can let him die, and we’ll just pretend this never happened. Totally up to you.”
“No time for insults. Humans leak blood really fast,” Scott said.
Sam…Sam didn’t know what to do. There was nothing he could do. Henry was…Henry didn’t matter. Sam was going to die if he didn’t do this. Scott was going to destroy…what? The world? Sam didn’t care about that. He didn’t care if Scott ate some random people, or a city or ten. What did it matter? Everyone died eventually and it wasn’t like it was people who mattered.
Henry was going to die.
Everyone died eventually. It didn’t matter if Henry died. If he didn’t die today, he would betray Sam eventually, or just leave. He was just another person Sam couldn’t afford to rely on. Sam was the only person who mattered.
Henry was going to die.
He’d ruined Sam’s life anyway. He’d shown up and taken over and now he never let Sam do anything, like Sam was some child who needed disciplining, like Sam was a project to be managed, like Sam didn’t matter. With him gone, Sam could do whatever he wanted, and he’d have Scott on his leash, and everything would be fine.
Henry was going to die.
Sam’s world had never had anything good in it until Sam had met Henry. His life had never been worth having until Henry had showed up and fucking ruined it. Sam wasn’t…Sam wasn’t the only person who mattered.
Henry was the only person who mattered.
And Sam would give anything to keep him.
“What’ll it be, Sammy?” Scott asked, leaning in close, his smell overpowering. “Quick, make up your twisty little brain before it’s too late.”
“Heal him,” Sam rasped, tears on his face.
“Heh. A smart decision for once.”
As he said that, Sam felt something else. A heartbeat, not his. Touching him. Touching the stone. Delilah. She started to resonate with it, and Sam’s heart started to beat in tandem. It wasn’t like when he’d fought with Solomon for it. She wasn’t trying to take the stone from him. She was trying to push it closer to him. Into his own heartbeat, his own power.
And as the weight of Scott left Sam’s chest, Sam felt his power surge.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Scott demanded, but Sam didn’t hear him. His power, their power, engulfed him, cascading outwards, touching everything. And Sam felt everything.
He felt the stones, the dusty air, the dirt underneath them. He felt the castle, the people in it. He felt Henry, bleeding, unconscious. He felt Scott, his power, everything about him that was wrong and that needed to be removed. He was a cancer in the world, and the only way to cure it was to cut it out.
And so Sam started cutting.
Scott screamed, his voice ripping the air in half and igniting it, the castle shaking around him. Sam didn’t care. He kept cutting and cutting, excising the tendrils that kept Scott tied to this world. He wasn’t just those centipedes, not really. He was something more than that, an idea, a thing that couldn’t be said. And that thing needed to attach itself to Sam’s world to live here. And so Sam detached it. Over and over and over again, until he had something that was just a ball of Scott’s power.
And then, because this wasn’t where Scott really lived, Sam touched that ball, and used it to find the rest of Scott.
Scott’s screams got louder and louder until they stopped being sound altogether and Sam heard them for what they really were. Just more power. Everything was just power in the end. Scott had more than him. That was fine. Some people had more power than others.
But some problems were too big to be stopped with anything but power, so Sam reached…not out, not to Delilah, but in. Into himself, through himself, and found…something. Something more. Something else. Something at least as big as Scott. And Sam used that, pulled it out of himself and pushed it into Scott, feeling a tinge of power already there, already weakening him, and Sam weakened him even more, destabilizing him.
Scott started to wither away, lashing out at Sam, at Henry. Sam protected Henry, because Henry mattered. But he let Scott hit him, flail at him, harm him. It was useless, the desperate lashing out of a petulant child against something far bigger than it. Nothing could stop Sam, not right now. Maybe never again. He wasn’t sure there was going to be a Sam after this.
And then, all at once, with a lurch that shook the world, Scott disappeared.
And now Sam sat there, with all the power in the world, and he didn’t know what to do with it. He could…he could…
He could reach out, find the bleeding human beside him. Touch him. Heal him. Fix him. And he could…and he could…
The other heartbeat had disappeared. His heartbeat had disappeared.
Everything had disappeared.
And then he felt himself disappear too.
26 thoughts on “Villain, 69”
Well. That can’t be good.
On the bright side, Scott’s gone!
Maybe, anyway! 😀 But yes, that’s something, even if everything else is probably not looking up, haha.
Scott was panicked and screaming, which is a reversal of the usual state of affairs. That’s a victory in my book.
😀 I agree! It’s very rare to see Scott angry and screaming with it, so that’s good all around, I think.
get rekt scotty
Seems like he did!
…hm. Did Sam go incorporeal somehow? Like Isaac and Seth, maybe?
Did he make like a spider and explode from drawing on too much power?
Is he ascending to…whatever sorcerous messiahs ascend to upon channeling way more of the Forces than any mortal ought to be capable of?
(Please tell me Henry isn’t dead. You showed us in a side story what happens when Henry dies and Sam survives. That’s not good for anybody.)
I will of course answer zero of these questions, but you’ll get answers to some of them in the next chapter, possibly! 😀 Good questions, though! Let’s all hope Henry pulls through!
Sam is a villain, but the way he learns from his mistakes and grows is great.
I wonder what Derek and Scott were talking about.
It’s really true. It’s a very slow process for Sam, but he really does learn from all of his (many) mistakes. Eventually.
I’m sure they weren’t talking about anything that important. You know Derek and Scott, they’re both pretty frivolous. 🙂
How much of Scott did Sam manage to banish? Everything in Menechit? Everything in the planet? Everything in the universe?
😀 No comment, of course. Some of him, for sure.
I imagine Derek isn’t happy about this development. His two most powerful and influential marks just up and vanished.
Yeah, I don’t imagine he’s going to be in a very good mood when he realizes that. Poor everyone who knows him. 🙂
Derek tipped off Scott, didn’t he? That’s how Scott knew far enough in advance to set up his trap.
It seems to have backfired spectacularly. On everyone.
Imagine, something in this castle, backfiring spectacularly! But yeah, I think it’s fair to at least wonder whether that’s what happened. 🙂
I assume Sam is going to need James’s help to deal with the fallout of…this. Just for maximum irony and I-told-you-so.
I do like maximum irony and I-told-you-so, so that seems likely, yes. 🙂
Why do I get the impression that Solomon was after something particular in his children? Something that might require them to be eaten, but that when successful, was… Sam. Of course it would need to be something he could then take for himself, he doesn’t seem like the dynastic sort. So, what kind of ultimate cosmic power is fungible? I have some ideas, but they’re based on peeking ahead a little, so I won’t try.
It wouldn’t be too hard to try to engineer a special-birthday-buddy situation, with access to enough women (birthday paradox and all that) but that’s too cooperative for Solomon.
I do like the parallels between Giacomo and Derek continuing as they both try to do things themselves, only for everything to blow up in their faces. (Maybe.)
I think ti’s very safe to say that Solomon was looking for something specific, yes. He had a lot of goals that were mysterious but quite well defined in his mind. When you’ve got to the point where you’re ready to share your ideas I’d love to hear them, of course. You’re very right that Solomon wasn’t the dynastic type, so whatever he wanted, he wanted it for himself.
You’re definitely right that it wouldn’t be hard to engineer such a situation, though Solomon wouldn’t enjoy his plan relying on anyone else’s participation but his own. He didn’t work well with others who weren’t totally subservient to him.
Giacomo and Derek both kind of have this attitude that everything is proceeding well and would continue to do so, if only everyone else would stop acting so irrationally. They don’t plan quite the same way (Derek is a longer-term planner than Giacomo), but at the end of the day they’re both sure that they only time anything goes wrong is whenever someone else decides to have an opinion. Always a mistake.
Actually, the theory is really getting more coherent, and doesn’t rely on spoilers that much after all, much of the other information is already present. I was missing the obvious about the Super Birthday Twins by assuming that they would need to be Solomon’s children (no way he’d be interested in giving power to, not one, but two of his kids.) But no, we have no reason to think that a father and child who share a birthday wouldn’t have the same power-sharing. And Solomon would absolutely arrange for his child to have godlike power if he also thought that he could drug them up in the castle somewhere and access it for himself.
So in fact, I’d bet Uri’s ass to Theodore that if we checked a calendar we would find that Sam-Delilah’s birthday falls rather close to Solomon’s own. And so do the rest of the siblings. It’s basically identical to Jocelyn’s plan, except that she couldn’t get the link herself. Pesky biology. (Aside: I do wonder if she influenced the conception of James’ baby cousin somehow, or perhaps just the timing of labor.)
But, Solomon wasn’t just going to bind the stone to his birthday-baby, once he hit that jackpot. Not if he could also stack some extra power on for free. He was working on a super-baby.
What could be a more unfortunate infant than one with access to vast power and no means for Solomon to control it? Non-birthday super-babies get eaten. Non-super non-birthday babies get kept around as long as they’re useful. Never got to see what he’d do with a non-super birthday baby. Maybe settle for the stone’s power. Maybe not.
Trouble is, Sam was a super-baby, and Solomon missed it. I suspect due to ableism. The blind one is definitely harmless, right?
And what’s the nature of the power he was trying to invest in these babies? It’s power that’s lethal to demons. He was experimenting with furries. The faux-demons were doing something similar, when they accidentally gave Darby the ability to transform into a demon-killer. I don’t think Sam shapeshifts, I think that whatever this species is that kills greater demons so readily, he has its equivalent of cat-ears.
I know of a species that’s rather notorious for their effectiveness at keeping demons contained, now that I think of it. And who, while all but extinct, still have a handful of members who might be up for manipulating an epic dumbass into restoring their genes to the world even if it does mean attaching them to humans. Gods. Sam has god-ears.
(While I’m doing theories, I’ve dropped some hints that I think this already, but I may as well come out and say it: I’m certain Geoffrey and Giacomo are the Leader and Beast. And the obvious parallels make Derek seem very likely as the Messiah.)
(Er, Leader and Liar… mixed up my apocalyptic prophecies there.)
Ah yes! It happens, haha. Almost like the prophecies in various worlds are based on each other!
You’re right of course, there’s no reason to assume that a father and child having the same birthday wouldn’t create the same birthday power. Which of course, if Solomon could control the resulting child, would definitely be a boon for him. 😀
I don’t think I’d take that bet, and not just because Uri’s ass deserves better than Theodore if you happen to be wrong. It’s very possible that Jocelyn tried something like that, but no comment on her for now!
I think it’s very possible that your theory about just what Solomon was looking for is on the money here! Giving himself a super-baby whose power he could take and control. And it’s also very possible it could have been Sam and he never noticed, which would definitely have been because of abelism. Solomon had that in spades, along with misogyny and a few other things.
I was thrown completely for a loop by “he was experimenting with furries” for a minute but you’re very right, he was doing that, and demon lethality might well have been one of his goals. The experiments happening in Pelican Bay seem to be related to the demons’ experiments. Sam with cat ears is an amazing image, but the segue into him having god ears is even better. You should really think about being a writer or something! 😀 But yes, not to distract from the goodness of this theory. I think Sam having god ears is a good theory and we’ll have to see how right you are about that in the coming chapters! 😀
As for your prophetic theories, those are equally good~ They work really well for the characters, for sure. Once again we’ll have to see if you’re right!
Thanks so much, I love this theory! 😀
> I don’t think I’d take that bet, and not just because Uri’s ass deserves better than Theodore if you happen to be wrong.
Phew! Just goes to show how risky wordplay can be. All I really wanted was to bet something more interesting than my own ass, and poor Uri could have suffered for it! Almost said Robby, but post-Lyren some of the impact would be lost. (Oh, gods, never let Lyren meet Theodore…)
> Sam with cat ears is an amazing image
He would hate them, and he’d look so grumpy, but if Henry told him they were cute he’d keep them on. XD
> You should really think about being a writer or something!
People keep telling me that! Then I think, “What shall I write about?” and nothing comes to mind… (certainly nothing problematic!) Alas.
Anyway, props for the whole “birthday powers” concept. The dream for magical plot devices is that once you know the premise, all the plot consequences feel very natural without further explanation. This one nails it: it seems like randomness or fate, but then it’s open to this manipulation that a villain might think of, with very natural unintended consequences that make for good plot.
Uri definitely doesn’t deserve ass-related suffering…but that really just made how serious you were about this theory clear! Robby would also have been a good bet, but you’re right, at the moment that might not matter much for him (we definitely shouldn’t let Lyren and Theodore meet…as if Theodore needs more reasons to be a creeper).
Sam is really good at mind games and he’s really good at playing the mind games against himself, so he’s very good at convincing himself that he’s doing something like wearing cat ears to mess with someone else when actually he’s just messing with himself. Truly one of his best qualities.
I’m sure if you just keep at it you’ll have some ideas! Inspiration sometimes strikes like a whip, you know!
But thank you! I’m really glad you find that such an effective plot device, because it’s proven to be really effective and helpful. I think the really simple stuff is the stuff that tends to work best for something like this. Because it really has one clear rule and that’s it, it ends up being very versatile, and because it’s a known rule in the world, you’re right, anyone can apply their nefarious intentions to it and then everything can just spiral into what we get as an actual story. Thank you!