Author's Note: I wrote this awhile ago, tried to submit it to magazines, and failed. It lives here now.
Here was the thing, when it came right down to it: lawyers and warlocks were really not that different at all. They were both seen, in one way or another, as parasites. They both used tricks and ‘magical’ incantations to get their way. They both invoked rules and made contracts with ‘other entities’.
And they both could go to such devious lengths to achieve their goal.
So it was only natural that Rafael was both a lawyer and a warlock. He had the underlying aptitude and drive for being a lawyer, plus a devilish sense of cunning, which thus meant he would be an excellent warlock too.
When he started law school, he had no idea that would be true. The vast, vast majority of the Human world had no idea warlocks existed, could exist, or that magic was actually real. Rafael only found out because a certain dark book fell into his possession. It somehow had known he would make an excellent warlock and that he did. He had poured through its blood soaked pages, pages made from flesh of Humans and things not quite anything, and practiced what it described. He became a warlock, corrupt to the core.
But he also became a lawyer: a prosecutor. As in, on the side of justice.
Never mind that his soul was more charred than any of the pieces of garbage he was prosecuting. Never mind that the cost of his magic would be worse than prison. Never mind the absurdity of it all: a lawyer for justice that was also a warlock who had consorted with dark forces far beyond any such mortal affairs. He knew that it was insane, he really did, but it was far too late to back out now. And besides, he loved it. He could be dark, damned, doomed, but he still could be a damn good lawyer for the good side of the law.
Maybe it would even out, in the end. All the bad, all the good—net zero.
That was more than probably delusional.
And he had been called out on it. As one, rather chatty, Demon had so astutely put it not that long ago:
“You’re digging your fingers into the side of a pit, holding on, thinking it’ll prevent you from falling all the way to the bottom, but the truth is—you’re already at the bottom. The only thing you’re doing is working your fingers down to the bone, feeding the rats with your flesh and blood. You’re alone in the dark and you ain’t getting out. Just accept it.”
Rafael brushed it off at the time. He just went about his days normally. Law, law, law, magic. Trying to keep the two sides of himself separate. Trying to minimize the magic, maximize the law, but he felt so hollow about it all. Alone, out of place. It felt so wrong, despite being the ‘right’ thing for him to do.
That was until he realized that what that Demon had said was absolutely true. Rafael was beyond salvation, he was in the pit, he was in the dark, he was a warlock.
But he was also a lawyer.
Those two things weren’t that different, but they were very different in practice, and yet, right now, all the worries over not crossing some fake line of blending the both seemed…stupid.
That was because, right now, he was a lawyer trying to prosecute this slimy executive. This piece of work was trying to evade punishment for tax evasion, embezzlement, and, amazingly, drug trafficking. A truly contemptible trifecta of crimes.
And he was evading well. They could not find anything conclusive enough to shake him into slipping up in front of a jury. Court was next week and it seemed like a sure loss for the prosecution. They had nothing that would bring this guy down for good.
And so for good, although Rafael was no good at all, he used some (very) dark magic. Magic that would make people scream in horror and vomit. Magic that would make this piece of crap give up all his secrets without realizing it. And then he would go to jail for a very long time, which was nothing compared to Rafael’s future condemnation and torment.
The magic was a spell to summon a Lywyrm. This is what the book said on Lywyrms and Rafael knew immediately that this was the spell that would get the job done in time:
“To beget a Lywyrm, a warlock must not speak or share any secrets in any way after uttering the conception spell. This is because a Lywyrm must fester in their silence and dark. The Lywyrm will grow inside the warlock's body, feasting on their blood and lies. The host cannot open their mouth before the Lywyrm is done growing or else it will die. No water or food will be required during the gestation. Once it is done growing, the Lywyrm will exit through the mouth. The Lywyrm can then be directed to extract secrets from others, existing as a servant of the warlock, an embodiment of their secrets and lies.”
A creature borne of someone’s sweet lies and secrets—Rafael would be especially fertile ground, then. Lying about what he was, lying about magic being real, lying about having done atrocious things for atrocious beings at one time or another or another… Secrets all the same.
Having something growing within him all while keeping his mouth completely shut for a reason he could not explain—that was another secret. He could say nothing to his coworkers, his team, nothing to anyone. And he walked into the office, knowing this, keeping this secret within him—that within him was a growing Lywyrm. He had not felt anything yet but the excitement was buzzing within him.
But he had to explain his lack of speaking to his coworkers. He made a show of touching his throat and then going to grab a pen and paper. He wrote down that he had came down with something awful and just could not speak. He wanted to be recovered before the court date on Monday.
That was true, though.
Regardless, they bought the crap and let him hang around silently, soaking in the lack of progress they were making without bothering him further. He had well established his boundaries around here. A assistant walked by silently, giving him a small smile that he returned and that was it. Rafael the Lawyer was chatty, amiable, and could do no wrong.
That was a lie.
What was not a lie, but was borne from them, was the pressing sensation he felt in his stomach that was slowly snaking up to the bottom of his throat. This was a definite sign of a successful Lywyrm conception, however uncomfortable it was. He quickly excused himself to the bathrooms.
He stared at himself in the mirror—oh, he looked nothing like how his coworkers saw him. Well. That was overselling it. In truth, his eyes had dark rings around them, his irises were tinted a dark red, and his cheeks were sunken in. The rest of his body was peppered and scarred with other signs and remnants of dark magic.
The dark magic currently within him, the Lywyrm, fluctuated somehow and it took all his effort to not gag or throw up at it. He kept his mouth shut, stared at himself again, and told himself internally that this was essential. Because it was. They were going to win.
So he washed his hands for no reason at all. As he did, he felt the nascent Lywyrm flutter, a nauseating experience, and watched closely to make sure nothing of it was visible. Once that was confirmed, he went back to do nothing at all.
He stewed in the dark of his personal office space until the day was done, savoring in the infrequent stirrings of his Lywyrm, and then the weekend was here and he was back at home.
He did not turn on the lights when he came in. He merely laid on the ground of his living room, in the dark, and started to unbutton his shirt part of the way. This was just so he could more easily caress his stomach and chest, feeling the Lywyrm respond to his touches by shifting around. He could feel it press lightly back at him, making his flesh bulge out when it did so. It was an uncomfortable sensation and a disturbing sight, but one he was growing steadily used to. And as soon as he did, it stopped and then he stopped.
Mouth closed, eyes open, arms to his sides, Rafael laid there, staring at the dark.
He was in the pit—right there at the bottom.
But not alone, not anymore.
And it was not rats he was feeding with his flesh and blood—it was his Lywyrm he was feeding with his lies and secrets. Those were his flesh and blood now.
He had certainly let go of his delusions by doing this. Never before had he used dark magic quite like this—to grow something within and of him. The description of the spell sounded revolting, but the end was what he absolutely needed, so he did it, and now…laying in the dark…having some ‘abomination’ growing within him…
He had no regrets at all. This was all of him. This Lywyrm was his.
Time passed that he could not fathom and all the while he could feel it getting bigger, taking up all the space he thought he had to give and more. There was a slight bulge to his belly, nothing some magic couldn’t conceal, but he did no such thing for he was in the dark, alone but not, and such appearances mattered little. He placed one hand over his stomach. The Lywyrm responded by shifting and the impact it made by moving was greater than it was before. A larger point of flesh moved out from its ministration. His other hand gripped the carpet below him, but the other rubbed soothingly over it. They both relaxed soon enough.
More time passed. He might have blanked out or just lied to himself that he had, but when he snapped back into consciousness, the Lywyrm’s head was poking out of his throat, into his mouth, and resting its head on his tongue.
He had sliced his arms open for spells, gouged out his eyes to give himself greater sight, and seen horrible, horrible things, but this made him want to scream. But he did not. He made absolutely no sound—instead, he thought of himself being in his office with this happening. The secret of it, the Lywyrm just resting right inside his mouth as someone stared at him, expecting him to say something. All the while there was something alive inside of him, lurking in his dark.
Maybe that thought was an offense to the Lywyrm because it wasn’t a real secret, just an imagined one, because it kicked him hard inside his gut. There was no food or water for him to throw up so all it did was kick up bile that burned slightly, but that was fine. Maybe there would be bruises later, but he took it. He took it and rubbed at his Lywyrm through the layers of his aching flesh and blood and it soon calmed down. Rafael heard it hiss inside of him and then it returned his mouth to him.
Not for long, of course, because the end of this was coming. His stomach was uncomfortably full and bloated and his throat just barely had enough room for him to breath. He curled up in a fetal position, which was poetic and ironic, and just laid there until it was going to birth itself from him.
And that it did.
It crawled up all of his insides, leaving a void where there was before an uncomfortable, delicious pressure. What space he had left in his throat to breath was gone and the room darkened further. His focus, however, remained crisp as it nudged at the back of his lips. He opened his mouth for the first time in what felt like ages. It slithered out of him, dragging itself against all the edges of his throat, his teeth, his tongue, and lips—and all with no saliva or any form of lubrication help guide itself through. But it was out of him now. The Lywyrm was hissing and cooing, getting used to being out in the open on its own.
He heaved in and out a few breaths then appreciated his work. Rafael reached out to it and ran his hand over its winding back. It was dark, thin thing with a long body. Its head was narrow and its little limbs started to pull out and find their footing. Wings broke off from its torso too and they began to flap rapidly, like a dragonfly, and it rose up into the air.
As it rose, so did he: Rafael picked himself up, feeling thin and light and empty, and stared at it. It stared back and Rafael felt kinship like never before. And possession too. But there was a purpose to this more than emotion.
He whispered the name of the person he needed secrets on. With that, it went off, opening a window to let itself out and then Rafael fell back onto the ground, mouth open, staring up, still, at the dark.
His eyes closed and the true dark swept over him.
When he woke up, he felt the pressure again, but it was external, not internal. When his eyes opened, the Lywyrm was on top of him, not inside him.
Staring right into his eyes was a mirror image of his own.
They were a secret, after all.
And such delicious secrets were shared to him by his Lywyrm. Secrets that would win their case in court. In return, Rafael whispered sweet nothings, lies, perhaps, to his Lywyrm.
After that, he checked what day and time it was. It was not yet Monday. Good. He needed to rest and cast some spells so that he would look as he did before—as people expected him to be. The birthing process had dispelled that magic.
The day and night flew by, his Lywyrm chittering in attendance as he did every thing, and then it came time to head to the office and then to court. He went to change his clothes. He picked out his darkest suit and put on a stark red tie.
Then he bid his Lywyrm a farewell and then went off.
All the way back to the office, he kept his mouth closed—a habit formed under duress. New secrets fermented with old ones until he met his team and then his role as a lawyer took over. He explained the plan for court, grimly admitting their odds weren’t good.
That was a lie. They were going to win and the process was going to be pure ecstasy.
Court went as expected, dull and tiresome, until the piece of crap executive took the stand, all smug. That was when Rafael pounced. He ripped into him with insinuations of the secrets he now knew. And when he played coy, Rafael gave him more than a taste. So much more that he was choking on his own lies. And what came out from his mouth was what the jury translated as:
Guilty, guilty, guilty.
Rafael won. But before it was all said and done, he whispered a quick curse to afflict the newly condemned man. A curse that would give him an ulcer that would never go away, and at night—at night it would feel like there were maggots writhing inside him. To no end, to no end…
But the trial was over—that was an end. His team won because of him (because of his Lywyrm, because of his lies). His team congratulated him and asked him how did he find that dirt out? How did he turn this case around?
He couldn’t say.
He really couldn’t.
So he said it was intuition and guesses and some other such nonsense, and that was it. More lies, more secrets.
He kept his mouth shut all the way back home. Kept it absolutely closed. Because what was a fleeting sensation, one he thought to be phantom twitches, was now growing firmer, more pressing inside him. This was all despite the fact that he had not uttered another conception spell and definitely hadn’t kept his mouth shut throughout the day.
And yet there was another Lywyrm growing within him. When he realized it, he felt a dull sense of concern, because how, but he mostly felt anticipation and glee from it. There was comfort to the company inside him.
And outside him. The first Lywyrm was sitting on his kitchen table, staring at him expectantly as he settled back into their home.
Rafael huffed and doted on it. Its translucent wings fluttered as he petted it. He chuckled softly and then pulled away as the Lywyrm inside him twisted about in his stomach. His hand clutched at his chest until the sensation stilled.
Then he wasted no time in going over to his dark book of magic, the source of all this. Perhaps there would be something to explain why there was another Lywyrm within him. Not that he would want it gone, but just to know why…
He started flipping through pages until he landed on the entry for Lywyrms. It was the same, but now at the bottom it said:
“If a warlock is filled with sufficient lies and secrets, then Lywyrms will continue to grow within them, without utterance of a spell and without keeping their mouth closed.”
Rafael looked at that and laughed. So the solution, if he wanted one, was to not be filled with lies and secrets. He would need to confess all his sins and admit all the things he had done to someone else. No someone—because that’d be another secret. It’d have to be a whole room of people, then. He’d need to go on trial for something and confess to the entire court. That was the only way this could end—he would have to be emptied of all his lies and then condemned for them.
But he did not want it to end. He wanted to keep going with this even as his second Lywyrm thrashed within him. He took those movements as a sign to get onto the floor, just as he had done so with the first Lywyrm. Speaking of which, it chittered from another room, staring at him as he laid back, book in his hands.
Hours passed, hours poring over spells, while the Lywyrm nestled inside him filled him up to the brim again, resting in his mouth. This time he was prepared for it and felt no desire to scream out. In a way, it was oddly comforting having the intimate company.
And besides, Rafael was too focused on finding the spells and rituals that would ensure his victory in every subsequent case. Planning out all that would come next for him—for all three of them.
Speaking of that third, the one waiting to be born…it pulled out of his throat and he felt the stirrings he remembered were associated with the first’s birth. So he set the book down and laid on his side, prepared for what would come next.
And right as he felt it move up his insides, ready to leave, Rafael had a realization:
Here he was, a lawyer and a warlock, a parasite, breeding more parasites.
The apt absurdity of it all made him cackle hoarsely as the Lywyrm pulled itself up from out of his dark. He didn’t need to pull himself out of the pit, he needed to dig it deeper. He needed to own the pit, to control it, to make it his.
His laughs were soon joined by two higher pitched echos of his own voice. A chorus of lies. His lies, his damnation, his Lywyrms.
He would have to think of names.