Slate leaned back in her chair, prim and proper for the feast. Her golden dinner fork and knife made quick work of Amy’s added addition, which the royalty enjoyed tremendously. She would have eaten with ferocity, but had kept that urge in check due to the company of the others. She had never tasted such food before. The spiritual impact from the cheese alone was worth the feast. Music rang out, filling the halls with a pleasant tune.
But then the taste!
It was dull cheddar. Sharp cheddar. Hideously stinky cheddar. White cheddar with holes. Nutty cheddar. Cheddar you had specifically with wine. Cheddar that was called blue, except this one was not blue. And then there was Mozzarella, which was pizza cheddar. It didn’t help that she only cared to know of a single type of cheese and compared everything to that. She finished off another wheel, tasting it as it passed into her gullet. She continued to taste it well into the abyss of her stomach.
It had been aged for close to twenty thousand years; or longer. It was old world old. Antediluvian cheese. The spiritual impact of the love that went into making that cheese, the time, the emotions, all felt like the equivalent of devouring several hundred people. Powerful people. Her hands trembled at the flavor, at the masterpiece craft of food. Slate glanced to the smaller being that glanced to her with large white glowing eyes. Eyes filled with gratitude, eyes of happiness. And also eyes of confusion at the sudden feast that the angel was a part of.
“Uh, Slatey- where are we?” The angel asked, snapping her head left and right around the table.
“Slatey? Is that what they call you… Outside?” One of the royalties inquired before Slate could answer.
“Mm. Yes. I do prefer ‘Marquess’,” Slate stated monotone as she turned to Amy, “We’re in the kingdom of Telabrite.”
Amy adjusted her cowl, narrowing her eyes at the oddity of their location. It was to be expected. She had devoured Amy, sending her to this realm, rushed her along to meet the royals without explanation. Slate had also changed wardrobes, preferring her cream and green dress with poofy skirt, accentuating her pallid grey skin. Her silver diadem was adorned with emeralds. Amy appeared most confused of all with Slate’s change from casual sleepwear to royal attire. Her oily hair was done into intricate french braids, leaving her face fully exposed.
The gold and crystal palace they occupied was the empresses idea, giving the appearance of heaven itself. Slate sipped her wine, enjoying the red with her white cheddar. Amy gingerly lifted her chalice, lest she fumbled it with her massive armored hands and pointed fingers.
Although I would enjoy any type of cheese with any type of wine… Mm.
“This- well this is not what I expected…” Amy muttered as she lowered her chalice.
To Slate’s left and head of the table was the one person in charge of Telabrite. Leadership was something she didn’t care for. Marquess and savior of the realm were good enough for her. She slowly turned her head to the ruler.
“Empress Theodora, how is the cheese?” Slate asked, her voice as flat as a blade.
The woman was a transcendent beauty with fair skin, french braided hair, and a golden crown. Her green and golden royal robes were the plainest attire of the feast goers, which did little to dilute her physical elegance.
She tilted her head to Slate, breaking into a warm smile, “my dear Marquess, the flavor was as mighty as the quantity. Realmhopper Amy, you must teach the friars a thing or two!”
The angel cover her face with her large hands, blushing at the compliment before recovering.
“Yes Empress! I’ve been making cheese for an age now! I’m the best!” She crowed.
Empress Theodora let a quiet laugh escape her lips, “Charming! Most charming! Now Amy, you are an angel, yes?”
Amy nodded quickly, sipping her wine.
“Then how did you come into the company of the Marquess? She is of a- how shall we say- opposite nature to yours.
Slate answered dully as she began carving into another wheel.
“Well, we met by chance. We fought-”
“-Battled one another?” Theodora interrupted.
Slate nodded, “Yes, Empress. Demons and angels are natural enemies. However, during the fight, we connected.”
Amy piped in, adding to the story, “Yeah! We wanted to destroy each- really make each other suffer. But then- well, after a while it was fun. And then she likes to eat and I like to make food… and well… Now we’re besties!” Amy shrugged with open palms.
“Wonderful. Simply wonderful! An angel and demon- you said best friends?” The Empress asked.
Slate collected another wedge of cheese with her fork, tasting the extreme tartness of it. Chills ran down her spin at the outpour of energy. She could still taste all of the cheese in her gullet still.
Slate cleared her throat, place the utensils to the side.
“Yes, Empress, we are in fact besties, just like the other realmhopper I’ve spoken of,”
The empress hummed as she nodded.
“Ah, the dark one. Void. The one we have yet to see. Was it the food that won you over?”
Slate grabbed at her fork and knife and began carving into her forty-third wheel of cheese, “Mm,” She answered with a dry grunt.
“Realmhopper?” Amy asked, glancing from the Empress to Slate.
Theodora cleared her throat, leaning in, “You mean you don’t know what that is?”
“Uh! Yeah, of course I do!” Amy turned to Slate, palming her mouth, “what’s a realmhopper?”
Slate finished off the wheel of cheese, “It is the term we have for those able to travel not just outside of Telabrite, but beyond,” Slate gave Amy a knowing look that was half threat mixed with mischief as she narrowed her sole eye.
Oh! So that’s what you call it! It’s different for me, I call it- uh- Landpopper!” Amy’s answer drew a look of ire from Slate.
You big idiot.
“Land… Popper?” Theodora asked incredulously.
“Yeah! We- uh- pop in and out of lands! It’s like- OK, Realmhopper is better,” Amy conceded as she began gulping down her drink, ending the conversation.
Slate took control, turning the Empress’ attention to the new followers.
“Dear Empress, how fair the Ranidae family?”
Theodora took a sip of her tea, her movements smooth as gentle waves.
“They are confused- as to be expected. I do suspect they may have been fighters in the past, which we are always in need of.”
“Mm. They were a group of adventurers, I- I didn’t make it in time. But I did collect their souls afterwards,” Slate explained, her supposedly sad story completely colorless due to her tone.
My collection facility was in ruins due to the Ranidae, but not without them being collected.
“How bad is the outside?” Theodora inquired.
Slate looked down, pursing her lips. Amy took her queue, sadly shaking her head.
“Mm,” Slate grunted.
The Empress understood, clasping her hands. The table seemed to deflate of hope.
“And that is why we need others like you,” Theodora exhorted, cutting off hopelessness at the pass.
“And how fair our enemies?” Slate asked.
The empress splayed her hands as she spoke, “biding their time since you extinguished their general.”
“Mm,” Slate grunted.
“And that’s why I’m here! Slate said you needed help, and so- because I’m the best- here I am!” Amy bragged.
Theodora blinked at that.
“And Amy- if I may- what are your callings?”
Amy smiled at that, adjusting her robes smugly. She cleared her throat, preparing her speech.
“I am Amy! Angel of Familiars!”
Slate palmed her head at the theatrics.
“Lesser Key of Solomon!”
“Angel of Astronomy!”
“Angel of the Goetic Demon!”
“Angel of Treasure Seeking!”
Amy’s voice went to a bare whisper.
“Angel of Liberal Arts-” Amy coughed at that, trying to redirect away.
The room was silent, with Amy’s shoulder’s slowly slumping.
“Angel of Liberal Arts? How peculiar,” Theodora commented, unphased by her poor attempt at hiding her title, “Marquess, are you sure she can fight?”
“Hey now I said other titles, remember??” Amy whined, her ego deflated.
“She can, yes. Her cheese making is her strongest skill, though,” Slate replied blankly, glancing to Amy, mischief adorned on her face.
“I will squish you,” Amy mouthed as she turned to the Empress, smiling bright.
“Try,” Slate mouthed back.
A robed figure hurried into the room, rushing to the Empress. He whispered something in her ear.
Ah, looks like they aren’t so quiet now. Guess I’ll need to fight.
“Marquess, it appears cherubs are scouting the outer edges of Conclave.”
Theodora looked disturbed as she rose from her seat. The royals began to clear out, rushing to the militarium.
“Mm, I guess I’ll take a look,” Slate announced as she rose from her seat, rushing to Amy’s side.
“Cherubs? We should talk to them-” Amy was interrupted as Slate grabbed a hold of her and began stuffing her down her gullet.
“Wait! Wah! Don’t eat me again-”
And with a loud swallow, Amy was gone.
Slate glanced to the Empress, the woman’s countenance changed as the room was empty. The god felt the icy cold daggers from the woman.
“Keep to your part, Theodora of Green and Gold. Or else. Remember?” Slate asked, tilting her head down, peering up at the empress. The intent was clear. She had no patience for obstinence.
The ruler closed her eyes as she nodded, the icy gaze replaced with a warm smile.
“Yes, my god. Your will be done,” the Empress conceded with a bow.
It did little good to have her top followers ignorant of her ways. Theodora knew, even with her knowledge of Adonai. She signed, just as all the others did. It was easy once an incentive was found.
“Good. Remember what happened the last time you tried to subvert,” Slated threatened nonchalantly.
Theodora shook he head, as if remembering.
“Full reset,” Slate added blankly.
Slate stuffed her legs into her mouth and slurped, vanishing into her own gullet. Everything was black for a brief second before she popped back into existence, in a wooded meadows of green and red. Amy was spiralling in circles, one of her wings flapping madly as her eyes looked on vacantly. Slate skipped over, slapping Amy to the ground.
“Stop playing,” Slate stated dully.
Amy sat up, her eyes still spinning.
“Wah! What! I said- I said dont eat me…” Amy whined as she got to her short legs.
“It was faster,” Slate retorted.
Amy did a double take at Slate’s new look. She wore shining platemail of chromed steel and gold. She was armed with just a side sword. Slate was a very short knight.
Amy squealed in delight.
“You’re so adooorable!”
Slate nodded as she clapped down the visor of her closed gothic sallet.
She marched along with Amy in tow, her armor clanking together the only disturbance in the forest.
“So what should we do? Speak to them?” Amy asked worriedly.
“We destroy them,” Slate responded with a muffled yawn.
“What? Why? We could work with them now that I’m here!”
“Can’t. They’re blanks,” Slate replied.
“Blanks? Like- They’re… No way!” Amy stammered, “no callings…”
“So you understand it would be a mercy to put them down,” Slate explained.
“Yeah… But I need to ask, what the hell is going on?!”
“Oh. Right. This is one of my games. I get bored,” Slate shrugged.
“Games?” Amy replied as she skipped over a log.
“Yes. We have Telabrite here and then Stern elsewhere. They are at war with one another. They think our reality is different. They are just caught up in my collection. Realmhoppers is just a gimmick.”
“And let me guess, you’re the savior to both realms?” Amy asked incredulously.
“I am the balancing factor. I usually keep away, coming to rescue a kingdom before it falls,”
“A never ending war…” Amy nodded.
Slate brushed past a thick branch, snapping it in half as she walked.
“Stern uses angels. Guess what Telabrite uses?”
They passed into the clearing, spotting the conflict. An imp brawler slowly fell over, riddled with holes from the skybound figures.
Amy shook her head at the demon force.
“Brawler imps and Magi demons… That’s pretty weak.”
The Magi imps were robed, their dark bony heads were eyeless and featureless apart from the jutting jagged toothed maw. One cast a spell, sending black flame into the sky. The Cherub dodged, shooting rain of golden energy bolts, felling more brawlers.
A lucky hit from a Magi brought a burning Cherub to the ground. It shrieked and squealed like a crying child.
“Blanks…” Amy muttered.
The Cherub was small, appearing as a white featureless mannequin with white wings. A normal Cherub was unique in all regards. The ones dotting the sky were all the same. Soulless. Without calling. The six foot lance lay at its feet as it rolled about, trying to put the demonic fire out. A brawler trundled in, crushing its skull in with a foot.
Slate could hear more fighting, more gasping death rattles.
“I keep everything basic. If it escalates too much, I need to reset,” Slate commented as a golden bolt burned into her armor. She didn’t even feel it as she stood still, casually eyeing the battle.
“Oh… OK. I mean, it’s your game,” Amy stated as she scratched at her head, “what do we do?”
Slate pointed a finger, shooting an ink bullet into the sky, punching through a Cherub.
“Wait… You’re not casting, are you?” Amy caught on instantly.
“No. It makes it seem like I put effort into it,” her monotone voice was drowned out by the combat.
“May I?’ Amy asked.
Slate shrugged. It was a small skirmish, nothing more.
“Ok! Here I go! Fireball!”
Her hands glowed as a metal canister shot out into the sky. Tiny explosions dotted the sky, felling the Cherub to the ground. The Brawlers and Magi moved in, crushing the fallen combatants.
“Do you always do that? Cast a fake spell?”
Amy giggled, putting a hand to her mouth in a whisper, “I’m castless! I don’t need to say anything-” She flicked a wrist, sending a fireball tumbling into a Brawler, detonating it into ash, “oh. Oops. See? It really throws people off!”
“Mm,” Slated grunted with a nod.
She’s smarter than she lets on. She’s still a dork though. I like her.
“I guess we’re done here-”
“Already? That’s it? Awww…” Amy whined.
“And that was Telabrite. Next time we’ll see Stern-” Slated stated as a sigh escaped her lips.
“Really? That’d be great!” Amy cheered.
“And do not, under any circumstances give it away,” Slate warned, her voice raising to mildly concerned.
“Right. Reset. Right,” Amy nodded hurriedly.
“Now. we need to go,” Slate stated with a yawn as she turned away.
Amy let out a sigh of relief as she wouldn’t be eaten again as she lowered her guard. Slate ripped off her helmet, spun, and lept over Amy, her maw widening to full engulf the angel.
“Waaah!-” Amy’s shriek of a protest was cut to a muffle as Slate swallowed her with a roar.
Slate then devoured herself, appearing outside of the realms that she enjoyed.
Slate and Amy were in a massive room, beyond the size of giants. Nearby was a floating white cube, thrumming serenely.
Amy slapped at her head, coming to.
“Ow… Wah, I hate that… Why-hy-hy??” She whined powerlessly. She glanced to the cube, her eyes widening to dinner plates, “Slate. Slatey. That’s a penteract. How did you get Watcher tech?!”
“Oh. I got it,” Slate answered as clear as Void.
“What? No! You can’t just say that!” Amy protested.
“Yeah,” Slate countered as she sat down, wearing her hoodie and pajamas again. Amy scurried to her, sitting beside her as they stared off into cloud covers beneath them.
“How did you do all of this?” Amy asked in wonderment.
“I ate. A lot. Also, Stern and Telabrite are stuck inside the Pentaract,” Slate answered blankly.
“You’ll have to tell me that story some day,” Amy replied with a contented sigh, “ Slatey, I can feel it, you’re hiding your true self. What do you really look like?”
Well, she was bound to ask anyways.
“Mm,” Slate grunted softly.
“Is that a mm- yes- or a mm- no-?
Well, better get this over with.
Slate stood up, taking off her hoodie, pants, and slippers before stuffing them down her gullet. She stood, naked and unashamed.
Ayaiugghbbl!” Amy blubbered as she flapped her wings to her feet, “I didn’t mean it… like that!”
“Huh?” Slate asked, unaware what she was doing was wrong. She glanced down at her grey naked form and then back to Amy, “I don’t want to rip my hoodie,” She stated plainly as she lept from the top of the city-sized, four-legged altar.
“Slate wait! I meant ‘show your true form’- not- not naked skydiving! Where are you going??” Amy protested from up above.
Slate closed her eye as she dove through the cumulus cover. And then she relaxed her body. Her constricted grey flesh expanded, becoming black and oily. Her flesh flowed and changed, just like her Compilers. Her foot softly touched down first, her head and body still in the clouds, miles above. She felt her form grow, rushing in size. She moved from her squat position and stood, the cloud cover dispersed with her movement. She stood, staring at the kitchen she was occupying. In the center of the kitchen table was a tiny white cube. And next to that was a spec of an angel. One greatly disturbed angel. Slate pulled up one of the titanic chairs, sitting down as she braced her elbows on the table and her head on her hands. Every movement should have cracked the planet in half. Her body steamed from the collected clouds.
It had been an age since she devoured the Titans of this planet. And the Kaiju.
She had mastered the gravity of it ages ago as well. Her body was thicker and feminine, her flesh flowing with black oil. Her hair trailed down to the ground like a massive root system, covering her eye. She flexed her hand, her joints popped akin to a meteoric impact, thundering down the kitchen. She gazed down at the tiny being, eye blinking and mouth flat as she brushed her hair back.
“Is this better?”
The tiny dot of angel flapped her wings before glowing and vanishing. She appeared in front of her face, flapping madly with eyes as big as her own. Slate let open a single finger, allowing Amy to touch down, a gnat to a giant.
“This is —-!”
Slate could tell Amy was losing her mind over the current situation.
See. She’s like all of the rest. Only Void stayed after I showed her myself.
Her eye snapped to the cube, and then back to Amy. Shame was forming within her.
“Am-az-ing! This is Amazing!” Amy shouted, amplifying her voice.
She still likes me?
Amy sat atop her finger, waving at her. Slate focused herself down, forming a tiny figure from her own flesh. The nondescript pillar of oil stood, awaiting Amy’s judgement.
“Oh! You’re here! And- Well and up there! I…” Amy stopped, pulling her hood over her face.
“You’re gorgeous! I can’t-” Amy cut herself off with a whine, “I’m so hideous compared to you!” Amy stated with a sniff.
“I’m an all devouring cyclopean titanic demon god. I’m the hideous one,” Slate countered.
“Nuh-uh!” Amy shot back boldly, “I know demons; they’re my thing! I studied them since my very creation! That is my calling! And I’m older than you, so listen!”
Slate was taken aback at Amy’s boldness.
“You’re the most beautiful demon, like ever! And I’ve seen a lot! Yup!” Amy began, gushing over her.
“Fine. Stop making it weird,” Slate shot back, rolling her eye, causing a massive torrent of displaced air. Amy gripped on for dear life before it subsided. She spoke up again.
“Hey now, I’m not the one who stripped naked and jumped off a cliff!” Amy snidely shot.
“Mm,” She grunted.
“After all, I used to be beautiful myself! And then it got taken… No way…”
Amy sat down, pulling her cowl over her face.
“Taken? I can’t take you seriously because you look too cute to be threatening,” Slate replied with a sigh.
Amy looked up, pulling her cowl back, “Really? I mean… You’re so cool… Not like me-”
“No,” Slate ordered, silencing everything, “Don’t say it.”
Amy nodded in understanding. Slate wouldn’t allow such talk.
I have my presence at full blast, too. Can she really… Really know it?
“How are you still awake?”
Amy looked coy as she clasped her hands.
“Oh silly! I have Aegis: Demon! It’s not just protection, but inverted damage; healing from demonkind. Like I said, I fought demons for eternity! I’m the best!” Amy bragged.
Slate scoffed. Of course Amy had more than she let on. Maybe more than she even knew.
“Well, you may have guessed my name is not Slate,” she began.
Amy’s hands trembled upon hearing that. She peered up expectantly. Slate narrowed her eye as she spoke. Her voice shattered souls. Her words smelted planets. Her name broke reality.
“I am Nemesis Leviathan, Inky God of Deep Depths.”
The power was released, traveling through Amy like lethal radiation. And doing absolutely nothing. But now Amy knew. And with a knowing came another ability.
“Oh my Lucy! That’s so cool!” Amy stated excitedly, the tension of knowing her name had vanished.
Really? I mean… I guess- OK.
“What! I get to travel to you anytime I want? That’s amazing!” Amy cheered as she flapped her crow wings.
“Mm, so you know what it does.”
“Can’t get past me; Amy! Best angel ever!” She crowed.
Slate still tasted the remnants of the cheese, inclined to agree. But prejudices were not overcome in a day, even with the milestones being created.
Amy had been tested in the forge of Nemesis’ making, going in as a lump of coal.
And came out as a… Spotless lump of coal. Nothing changed. No major breakthrough or revelation. Nemesis Leviathan just chalked it up to perfect matchups. There was little wonder why she didn’t destroy Amy when they fought. And Amy acted like it hurt. Amy was a nerd. A dork. Insecure. Needy. Bragging. And sharper than she let on. And just as powerful. Not many knew her name and lived. To Nemesis, this was a once in a reality event.
To Amy, it was Tuesday.