Envy walked for some time to reach the edge of the encampment. He knew the soldiers from the battle against the Horsemen were still being treated in field hospitals as their numbers were too great and their wounds too grievous to be transported back to the city. He was surprised that the Grimoire had drawn him here, to the sick and wounded, in search of the next host. He was glad that his supernatural strength allowed him to carry the tome even with the tiny limbs that the chiprel body possessed.
Envy found a temporary structure, not much more than a hastily erected wooden frame and awnings. There were several holes in the awnings that served as windows, letting the rays of sunlight inside and the stench of slow death and sounds of suffering escape from within its canvas walls. The deamon in disguise heard a melodic voice softly singing from within and, after tucking the book away in the crevice of a nearby tree, scurried up to one of the makeshift windows.
The chiprel peered silently over the ragged edge of the hole and saw a lovely woman tending to the wounds of the soldiers. Her very aura seemed to help them heal faster and both man and beast welcomed her soothing touch. Barely aware of it at first, Envy began to notice that he too was gaining strength back, revitalized by simply being near this creature. Surely, she was the source of the healing, not the herbs and poultices that she applied to the wounds of the injured. Her crimson and white robes hid her lovely features, but her red hair slipped from under the cowl. He was shocked when he realized who this was. Envy was once Parasite, the drainer of life and strength, and this woman was his antithesis. She was directly linked to all of the fruits of life and the world tree itself helped to sustain her. This was the Empath and her power was legendary before the coming of the Hellbourne.
She was but a fraction of her former self. The scars that the deamons had torn throughout the world cut her deeply and drained her spirit away. In her prime, she would have immediately sensed the presence of Envy but as she stood now, she could only tend to the wounds of those nearby and strengthen their souls. Envy watched as she finished tending to the wounded, made her way out of the tent and began walking through the encampment. He gathered his tome and followed her as she left the safety of the shelter, moving gracefully through the underbrush as if she was one with Nature itself.
As Envy trailed Empath through the forest he found the underbrush growing less dense and soon heard the sound of a waterfall in the distance. He moved out from the undergrowth into a clearing that ended at the edge of a beautiful pool which formed at the base of the roaring falls. A small stream led from the pool and at that junction of pool and stream, just barely removed from the mists generated by the water falling from above sat the Empath on a smooth stone bench. Even over the sound of the water, he could hear her weeping. Envy’s smile filled the entirety of the chiprel’s face and he moved closer to her to speak.
“Milady Empath, why do you weep when there is so much beauty around us?”asked the deamon with an innocent sincerity. “Surely you can find joy in this den of life.”
She wiped her tears from her cheeks and smiled at the chiprel. “Oh such innocence from the creatures of Sol is to be commended in these dark days. I am sorry youngling, but I have seen much sorrow these past weeks and feel the pain of the World Tree so strongly that even in these places where nature’s magic is strongest, I can still lose myself to grief. Forgive me for my negative emotions, as I mean not to convey them to you.”
Envy looked around and noticed for the first time that all of the trees and reeds were bent slightly as though in pain and sorrow. Across the pond, two black swans had placed their heads under their wings and even the dragonflies had stopped fluttering to and fro and were resting on the lily pads in the pond. Apparently, her mood was contagious… if only Envy were capable of remorse.
“It’s okay. I can see why you were sad. I have heard tales from the ancient nut-gatherers that you once were so strong you could spread joy through an entire wood merely by stepping into the tree line. That at one time, you were in touch with every creature in Newerth and you could feel the life force of each creature as it ebbed and flowed through the planet. I can only imagine how that must have been.”
“Little Chiprel, if you could only know the blessing and curse that is my existence. I have indeed felt every birth and every death on this planet since days lost to history. Lately it has been so much death and so little birth… the planet herself is wounded by this war. If only I could heal the scars. If only I could help them all finish this battle and let the healing begin anew.”
“What is your desire Empath? How would you fix this?” asked the deamon.
“The only way to change it would be to touch them all at once…to be inside each and every one of them. To make them feel the passion I feel for protection. To make them all care enough to stop fighting and simply love one another again.”
As she spoke, the chiprel opened the tome and read the words that glowed blue on the page. The magic was so powerful that he felt it pour out from the earth itself. A blue mist sprung from the ground near the Empath.
“Chiprel, what have you done to me? What is this I feel so strongly? I am burning up inside!”
She quickly dropped her robes to the ground and leapt into the water of the pool, attempted to quash the fires burning deep inside her. These were not physical flames, but instead the burning desire she had within, unleashed in its primordial form. She thrashed in the water, overcome by the passions that had been unlocked for several minutes before breaking the surface and moving slowly toward the shoreline again. Her voluptuous form was quickly clad in the blue mists: once, twice and then three times. Each time the mist touched her body, it left behind a layer of its magic and strengthened her again. When she fully stepped on the shore, she reached down and grabbed one of the swans that were still entranced from her earlier sorrow and plucked the long feathers from its tail and wing.
“No beast should have something that beautiful and not share it with me.”She placed the feathers in her hair and adorned her mystical vestments with them as well.
“Empath, you have changed,” said the chiprel that was Envy.
“Never again will I be forced to feel the pain of others. Instead, I will enter each of them and unlock their yearnings. Empath is no more, only desire. Only Lust remains.”
Envy smiled that full faced smile again and spoke, “Excellent. Make them feel, beautiful Lust. Make them all know the passion that you feel. I will find you once the rest of our brethren have been reborn.”
Lust moved back toward the field hospital. Envy gathered his tome and followed her out of the woods. As Envy passed the encampment he heard the sounds of carnal debauchery from within. He felt his power grow again as he headed off toward the City of Iron.