Companions- Episode 1: No Return
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Ara_Relia

An instance of Entity 115 from Level 10 named Ara Relia.

She was sitting on the floor, waiting for another human to come by. Its quite clear she expected another hobo as the last one who had ran into her was a hobo. A lot of hobos ended up in the Backrooms, especially where she resided. The poor bastards had more food on them than they ever let on. The others back home really hated what she did, and she was eventually exiled. She didn't really care what they thought, but she went along all the same. If she could do what she did in peace, so be it.

Just now, another human came down the corridor. A young girl with a denim sweater, a black shirt displaying the word "Fresh" in some strange font under it, torn skinny jeans, those strange shoes that she'd been seeing every few weeks people said were called sneakers, brown hair and wearing a heavy backpack. Ara put up her sign and waved.

"Ah! Dear, let me look at your horoscope! All it will cost is some of whatever food you have!"
The girl turned to look at her and just sighed. "If you're another one of those things trying to kill and eat me, you ain't fooling me."
Ara looked at here indignantly.

"I don't eat humans, I take their stuff if they refuse the price of my abilities. The other Created Ones are dumber and won't try to make livings off you guys like I do."

"So you're a scammer." She turned to walk away before Ara stood up and shouted.

"Far from it! My predictions always come true. You're just leaping to dumb conclusions!"

"You want people who jump to conclusions, I'd direct you to my parents. They think I'm going to hell because I don't do everything they say and beat me when I tell them to cast the first stone."

"I'd like to meet people outside the Backrooms, but currently, there is no way out."

That stopped the girl straight in her tracks. If you could look into her eyes, you could tell she was experiencing a stinging despair alike that felt when you've arrived at a college only to hear your parents never submitted the paperwork for your dorm room and meal plan the day they should have. She sat down, and went completely silent with dread in her heart. She must have been a relatively recent arrival.
They always reacted to the news like this. Ara had seen 40 people flat out kill themselves in front of her before. She could tell this wouldn't be another case, and had split feelings about that fact. It was rare to see a person who was happy they ended up here. She could almost never understand the languages of those who spoke it. She had only encountered those sorts who spoke a language she could understand twice. Both between 106 and 80 years ago.

The girl was lost in thought. She pulled her phone out to try and tell someone where she was, but Ara interrupted her as she was about to do that.
"Don't bother. Nobody believes you when you tell them whats happened to you. I've seen 14 people try that and it never worked. You're better off forgetting your old life. This is your universe now. Cosmos, stars and all."

The girl looked at her and took off her backpack and took out her lunchbox before throwing it at her before breaking down crying. Ara was unmoved and opened the lunchbox. Those plastic cups of chopped fruit which you hope to heaven don't have papaya pieces in them, a sandwich and a thermos of soup. She smelled the sandwich and tossed it back to the girl before downing the whole thermos of soup.

"Your parents make damn good soup."

The girl flew into a rage and attacked her with the backpack. It was full of books so, Ara was knocked over onto her back immediately. She jumped back up and tackled the girl to the ground and cracked a rib with one dangerous volatile punch. She walked away from the girl and sat back down.

"You're lucky. Any entity other than those like me would kill you right off. You'll heal from a broken rib relatively quickly. Now, scram."

"Wouldn't you make a great parent?" the girl replied before passing out.

Ara went silent. She became deep in thought, and her thoughts went back to a day 1600 years ago.


Ara Relia was a young girl who was subject to an abusive stepmother. Her father, a blank book named Athelstan, was always afield combatting the Smilers, Skinstealers, Hounds, and Deathmoths. The other children hatched half empty in the head in her eyes. She found it annoying how they followed the adults so calmly and loved the idea of picking up the roles of their parents when the time came.
She was pondering this as she was cleaning up the Bedroom they resided in. Her section with the bed she slept on, specifically. Her half-brother Edgar, a book on pottery, walked in.

"Sister, I have sword combat practice tomorrow. We're working with cutting swords for that. I was hoping you might have some advice. Mother has no ability to advise, so I was hoping you would."

"Keep your eyes on their sword and stay on the defensive until you're at a point where you can go on the offensive. Block everything they attempt to hit you with and flout their attempts at blocking you."
"That's what everyone says."

"You could just skip it."

"Fully not! I will not dishonor Father like that nor slight my classmates and teacher like that! I will not cower in the face of fear. You're seventeen, you should have better ideas."

"Then the advice everyone gives you is the best."

"All right…"

He left. She returned to cleaning her room and eventually began sweeping. When she was halfway through sweeping, her fiancé entered, ran over and gave her a big hug.

"Good evening, Ara. I have good news!"

"What news is that?"

"Your father has returned from the field of battle to help us be wedded. He is excited to see you and will be staying for the next few months."

"That's nice to hear. I imagine he and his wife will be happy to see each-other. We've written letters and talk that way, but we don't see him more than a few times a year."
"You sound very sure about what you're imagining will happen."

"Its…a matter of experience."

She wiped sweat off the area above her eyes, and sighed.

"Fair enough. Are you feeling all right, dear? You look like you've seen a ghost."

"All I want to do right now is put a knife in that woman's back."

"That's scary. Why is that?"

Ara looked around before answering.

"She broke one of Edgar's ribs for being reluctant to listen to her a month ago. He only finished recovery a week ago."

"Oh. He told me it was from something else. Said he was trying to do a handstand."

"No. He got a mean punch to the ribs."

"Poor boy. I'd never do that to our son."

"Neither would I. It's evil, harming a child."

"I can't imagine doing that."


And now she sat here, having done just something she was disgusted by when it happened to her brother all those centuries back. The words of the girl stung hard. She sighed, and decided to help her out by attending to the broken rib she just gave the girl. Her conscience would clobber her heart if she didn't.
Hours later, the girl woke up. She was stunned to see that Ara was not only still nearby, but tending to her.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"What does it look like?" Ara snapped back.

"Well, why are you doing it?"

"I…I must. I have no reason to, but my gut tells me I have to."
The girl was skeptical, but was in no position to deny the help. Ara helped her up and put her stuff back into the lunchbox and then that into the backpack. She then handed it to her and they started walking along the halls. The girl was stunned.

"We need to make our way to Flat 11, as there's people there who can help you more than I can, and I'm going to find a friend there who has something I need to attend to."

"Flat 11?"

"Yes. It is an endless city as opposed to an endless bunch of rooms and hallways."

"Is it just endless environments here?"

"No, but the places that aren't are worse. Far, far, far worse."

"What do those usually look like?"

"Death traps that come in all shapes and sizes…I don't usually meet anyone that's made it out of them."

"So, how do we get to Flat 11?"

"Well, we're in Flat 1. We've got to get through this one, and Flats 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 first."

"Are they all this empty?"

"Nope, and you'll find a lot of those monsters that kill people are in great supply in most areas of those levels. So lets go."

"Who's going to protect us?"

Ara turned to walk backwards and looked at her like she was a clown.

"Me! Those things are easy for me to fight. You think I just sat around for years and didn't encounter any of those things?"

"You seem like you would."

"If I could, which I couldn't, I would have."

She turned back to facing and walking forward.

"Uh-huh. Do you have a name?"

"Ara Relia. I prefer to be called Ara, though. Whats yours?"

"Infinity."

"Nice name."

"Thanks."

"How come you talk but the other things don't?"

"My kind are able to."

Infinity coughed before responding.

"Yeah, but you look like a living 3D cartoon character."

"Fate allowed it to happen, so there's no point in questioning it."

"That's-"

"Ridiculous? I hear that lot."

"I bet you do."

They went the rest of the way in silence. Infinity thought back to the hours before she arrived here.


It was a cloudy afternoon after the end of school for the day. Unbeknownst to her, her significant other, Taylor, had been in a car crash just fourteen minutes ago. She was perplexed as she always knew Taylor to be on time. They almost never missed a chance to spend time together.
Now, she had to walk home this time around as she did not care to call either of her parents to pick her up. She crafted her schedule around avoiding them whenever possible. She would not be foiled by this mishap of fortune.

The only other person who walked with her then was a guy who lived pretty far down the street where she did and was walking home was Nick. A big guy with a freckled, peach complexion, a sort of glassy look in his eyes, and a dirty shirt. She always felt he had this musk about him, and she hated it. She and him never got along. He always asked the freshmen if they were his friend. A total creep. Infinity thought he was secretly over 18 and hiding it.
Eventually, they went separate paths as they lived different places. She had taken three hours to get as close as she did. She sat down on someone's lawn chair to catch her breath, but it gave way, to a dark void, a cold vacuum, moments stretched into minutes of agonizing terror before Infinity landed in Level 1, falling out of a wall flat onto her butt. She spent most of her time here trying to avoid the monsters on the level or asleep.


Thinking back to it, she wished that guy ended up here instead. Of course, now she was in a stranger rather than dangerous predicament now. This talking astrology book is taking her somewhere and outside of their name, she didn't know anything helpful about them.

At some point, they climbed up a flight of stairs and entered a room with a haphazard series of tables and chairs. Infinity sat down to catch her breath and take off her denim sweater. As she put it in her backpack, Ara walked over to one of the larger desks and shoved it out of the way, revealing a door. Ara opens it.
"All right, on to Flat 2."

"Wait, a door?"

"Yep. Flat 2 has a thing for doors, and you'll see why later on." They enter, and begin the next leg of their journey.

TO BE CONTINUED...

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