[ The art is totally not my own and is actually Kirei from Fate/Zero, done by someone on pixiv ]
He regained consciousness with a gasp, a fit of coughing that started deep in his core hammering against his ribs. It was sometime after dark and the rain continued to pour down, thunder cracking in the distance. He was soaked to the bone and ached as if he’d been hit by a wagon, groaning as he began to try to catch his breath once the coughing fit subsided. Where was he? He glanced around the area slowly, trying to process the intricate symbols in the now wet clay ground around him. Ah, yes, the ritual site, that’s right. He coughed again, his breath forming a dark smoke before his face, dissipating into the air.
His ribs and head throbbed equally sore, though as he looked himself over he seemed no worse for wear. He was caked in wet clay and drenched to the point of ridiculousness sure, but he seemed to be physically okay. Pulling himself to his feet, Varinn stepped towards the center of the ritual circle and knelt to pick up the old leather bible from where it now sat, soggy and bloated though it appeared to now be burned with runes. He looked at the book curiously before closing it with care, sliding it into the pocket of his duster as if to keep it from getting any more wet.
A flash of lightning gave him enough light to see by, and Varinn spent the next few minutes attempting to cross out the various ritual symbols and lines that he had drawn with meticulous care before the ceremony. Once happy with the result, though still exhausted from the effort, he began the trek back towards Old Mantell. There had been no demon, no fallen angel, no Lucifer. There were no footprints in the clay, nor had he been dragged to Hell in chains. Clearly, Varinn realized, he had failed in his attempts to summon from the dark side of things, in his attempt to find a way to bind a demon to use for his own goals.
The Order… they had strictly forbid even the knowledge of the dark arts. To learn of it, to play with it, to test it was to corrupt one’s self. To attempt to bind one of the dark beings themselves, to use them against their own kind in a war that had gone on for so long in secret, such things were punishable by excommunication… by severance, and even by death if the High Order found out and deemed the heresy that severe. Yet there was no demon here, no dark angry God seeking to lay vengeance among those living. Varinn had been a great many things in his life, true; though tonight, he thought as he walked back towards his room in the rain, he could add failure to his list.
His steaming breath rolled from his mouth in a dark mist, leaving him to wish he had a cigarette with him. He yearned now for the warmth of even a sip of whiskey, the embrace of a blanket by the hearth, perhaps a woman at his side. What did it matter if he sinned now? Yessss, whispered a voice in the back of his mind. What doesssss it matter now? He wished he had brought his hat now, to keep the rain from his eyes as he walked the two and a half miles back towards civilization… if one could call Old Mantell that.
The moon would break between the clouds, letting out slight slivers of silver-white light that lasted no longer than a minute before being engulfed in darkness again. Varinn never paid attention to his shadow, for it was his constant companion. Perhaps if he had, he’d have noticed the shape it took during his travels, the way the arms and legs bent at inhuman angles, the overly long limbs, the erratic gestures as if it were being puppet being handled by a child. Perhaps he would have noticed that his misted breath in the chilled night came out black and wrapped around him, clutching at his body like clawed tendrils before absorbing into his clothing.