Episodic stories of fantasy and science fiction.

Category: Seeking Dusk Page 1 of 2

Seeking Dusk story

Seeking Dusk: Part 13

I don’t move. This is not my fight, but I am somehow involved. How could a member of the Dominion threaten another? I’d never heard Lord Zadkiel be so intimidating.

This whole endeavor is quickly escalating into something far beyond my expectations. They should have decided all this before they came. And what is Puriel thinking? If there is such a threat to reality, more help is better than less. It’s why The Presence sent me in the first place, isn’t it?

“Aluma Firebrand, if you would stem this tide of darkness, listen well.” Zadkiel spoke, lifting what felt like a long silence after his threat.

“There is an artifact that has been taken from within the Gates of Paradise. It would for all appearances be nothing of value. A small wooden box. But the power it holds could turn the tide of our war.”

“Do we know who has taken this box?” I ask, my mind cleared of previous doubt. Zadkiel smiles.

“Yes. He is one called Azazel, and he is a former angelic host.”

A fallen angel? How could someone like that have gotten a hold of such an artifact?

“After taking the box, he fled to earth, and has been in hiding beyond even our combined sight.”

“How can something hide from The Presence?”

“Well, The Presence is-“

Zadkiel is cut off by Puriel.

“Absolutely not! You may fight us on telling her why we’re here, but business involving The Creator is far beyond anything I would allow you to share with a mere soldier!”

If what I thought I saw in her before was anger, then there isn’t a word to describe what she’s showing now. The Power in her is leaking out, far more than she means to. And if this is but a fraction of her power, she is not someone I want to have for an enemy.

A smile stretches across Zadkiel’s face as he looks at Puriel.

“My apologies. You are absolutely right.” He turns back to me. “This fallen host is hiding from The Presence. That is all I can tell you.” His eyes glimmered as if to add ‘for now’ to the end of that sentence.

Kushiel breaks their hovering formation and quickly flies to the other side of Rand, intensely studying the man.

“Tell me, Mr. Garrot, are you willing to lay down your life and soul for this mission?”

Rand barely moves, glaring at the large angel out of the corner of his eyes.

“Like I haven’t proved that already?”

Kushiel’s eyes narrow.

“Don’t be flippant. This is far beyond your petty squabbles with these lesser demons. You’ll need to be ready to fight a full-blown angel.”

I interrupt this rousing conversation.

“But he is fallen. He doesn’t have access to The Power. And unless he can venture down to the bottom of The Pit, he won’t be receiving any help from the Morning Star.”

“That is where the artifact comes into play,” Ariel says, in her relaxed voice.

“Indeed.” Muriel spoke next. “Tell me, Aluma, have you ever heard the human legend of Pandora’s Box?”

Human legends? What kind of nonsense is this? Rand must have seen my look of confusion because he took this opportunity to step in.

“Pandora’s box, Greek myth of a girl who opened an ancient box and let loose all the ills of the world. But the box also contained hope, keeping mankind ever determined to push past such problems.”

“Yes, in ways, very similar to the story of Eve eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge.” Muriel seemed to know much of human story telling.

I found the courage to speak.

“Okay, so you’re saying this box is real?”

“Degrees of truth, my dear.” Zadkiel took over again. I glance at Puriel, only to see her trying to contain her anger. But Lord Zadkiel just ignores it and keeps talking.

“There was an incident of someone opening a box and releasing something terrible. But the box didn’t contain ‘the world’s ills.’ Instead, it housed power. Tremendous power. Dark power.”

“And our job is to retrieve it from someone who is likely willing to use it against us?” Rand sounded annoyed.

Zadkie’s lips curl into a sly smile. Which is my clue that this is going to be beyond dangerous.

“Of course! Aluma is already tasked with the hunt for demons associated with the theft. What’s one more task for our beloved soldier?”

Seeking Dusk: Part 12

Looking around, the other craters have their own angelic beings float out. Each one is adorned in more ornate vestments than myself. With their staffs, sashes, and crown-like halos, The Dominion looked resplendent.  And I quickly became all too aware of my less than suitable clothing to be standing in their presence.

“Aluma Firebrand. We were not expecting to see you so soon.” One of them spoke.

She was to my far right. Her garments were accented with violet rubies. The small scepter she held was how she poured out the love of The Presence. Her halos burned with holy fire, casting harsh shadows on her face that did not immediately endear her to me.

“I received the announcement of your arrival, and immediately sought for your landing. I apologize if I was not meant to.” I spoke humbly, but with as much conviction as I could muster.

The same angelic host, who spoke before, looked confused.

“We did not send an announcement. Where did you get such information?”

Lord Zadkiel spoke. “I sent it to her. I felt we needed a soldier, one we could trust. And there is no host I trust more than the angel of courage. It is for the best, Puriel.”

The idea that Zadkiel thought so highly of me made me blush.

“Thank you, my lord.”

The other Dominion, whose name I now know is Puriel, looked upset. “We were to look into this matter ourselves before seeking any help. Those were our orders.”

“I agree with Zadkiel’s actions. We need help. It has been far too long since we’ve been on this lovely blue planet, and much has changed.” Another of The Dominion spoke, just to the right of Zadkiel. She was slender, her mouth curled into a playful smile. Her halo sat behind her head, looking like a rising sun.

“He should have consulted us! Do you understand the severity of the situation?” Puriel was not pleased.

“If I did not, I wouldn’t be here. The Five Dominion have not walked this planet together in eons. Please, do not mistake my agreement with Zadkiel as complacency.” The other angel spoke with soft words, that carried an unseen force. I felt more calm just from listening to her.

“Ariel, Puriel, enough! What’s done is done, and cannot be undone. But Zadkiel does not get off so easily. Decide now if we shall follow his plan and reveal why we are here.” The angel to my far left spoke, one I’m all too familiar with.

Kushiel, the angel who lead me through The Old War. He was large, made for battle. His right eye was slashed by the Morning Star himself and replaced with a new glowing eye of pure Light by The Presence.
“They are trying to decide. Let them work it out.” Muriel, a summer angel spoke next. Her sash appeared to float around her, the flowers in her hair seeming to spin.

To see all five of them here together… It is rarer than seeing two of the Archangels. And while it should be their decision, I must admit, I am curious as to why they’re here.
“Are you old dozy nutters going to get on with it? What are we here for?”

My head slow twists to the side, as I try to stare right through the human. Rand! What are you thinking, talking to them like that?!

All five of The Dominion turn to my human companion. Kushiel, Puriel and Muriel had looks of disdain. Ariel was curious. But it was Zadkiel that surprised me. He had an amused smile on his face, like the words Rand spoke came from an infant. Rand himself gave a rather menacing glare back at the group of powerful beings. An ant staring down an elephant.

“Aluma, illuminate us. Who is your friend here?” Zadkiel spoke with a playful melody in his words.

I lay my arm across my chest and bow a little in reverence when I speak.

“My apologies. This is Rand Garrow a particularly impressive human. He has the ability to tap into The Power and fight demons much like an angel. He has proven useful on past missions.”

“Your apologies are unnecessary. I have heard of this human. His reputation is most impressive indeed.” Zadkiel turns his attention back to me. “And more importantly, he is right. Whether or not my cohorts agree, I plan to tell you why we are here. We need your help.”

“Absolutely not! Zadkiel, are you-” Puriel’s words were cut off by the sight of the angel she was yelling at.

He didn’t move much. Just turned his head slightly. His facial expression didn’t even change. But the way his words came out, one had to wonder if he was really capable of it.

“Puriel, my dear. Reality might cease to exist and I will do whatever is necessary to prevent that. Whether that be letting a trusted host in on the conspiracy, or sending you straight to The Pit, it doesn’t matter to me. Just don’t get in my way…”

Seeking Dusk: Part 11

What am I to do? I ask myself as I float over the city.

My powerful wings flap, pushing on nothing as I am intangible to the air around me. Is that what I’ve become? A superfluous remnant of a time when I used to be necessary?

The war had changed. Mere soldiers were no longer enough, we now required diplomats and spies. We required compromise. I had seen such a thing happen in the realm of humans, but I never considered it would touch the holy war.

Eons of unchanging battle waged against the powers of The Adversary, and it is the introduction of humans to the fight that shifts the rules.

Thinking on it now, why am I surprised? We were told they were special. We were told to bow before the new apes. And it was the unyielding resolve of Lucifer that started all this.

I can see now. So many of the host may obey the command, but they don’t understand it. Humans are still young, weak and prone to far too much sin. But they can overcome that. Angelic hosts have no choice. We are what we are.

But we can learn.

I have to find Rand. I must apologize.

I swoop down closer to the ground, feeling for his energy. The bustling people below me make it slightly easier, since none have the kind of power Rand does. And yet I don’t feel him. He couldn’t be too far out of range, I should get a taste of his power somewhere around here, unless he’s intentionally hiding himself.

I return to the park, hoping he went back there to regroup, or just kill time protecting it. Despite flying all over, I feel nothing. Flying to the bridge, I wonder where he could be. There’s no way Dumah could have done something. He’s far too weak, as most creatures in The Milton are.

My search is cut short when I feel something new. It’s flying low. The energy is unnatural, but barely there. And worse I recognize it. It was beautiful, though I wonder how it found me here. The fluttering of its wings caught the light, refracting it in unnatural ways. As it landed upon my outstretched hand, I almost admired the form of such a creature. The butterfly was not real. It was a message.

The insect burst into sparks of light and faded; its job complete.

They were coming.

They don’t normally come down to earth. They normally speak directly with the Seraphim, Archangels and Principalities. Why they would come down to the planet is beyond me. Unless something were to threaten the very fabric from which reality is woven.

They are The Dominion. And they are my bosses. And they have me scared far more than anything else that has happened tonight.

I take off into the air, looking for a sign of their arrival. Scanning the skies, it shouldn’t be too difficult to see. They can be such drama queens, arriving with a bright light, or…

Off in the distance, I see them. Five shooting stars streaming across the sky. I have to find Rand. I have to warn him. I…

Why am I so scared? What have I done wrong? If the Dominion are here, it must be for another purpose. I’ve slain the first of the escaped demons. I fought and felled many a beast at that club last night. And they know nothing of the deals Rand has made with those lower creatures. I need to not worry.

Though I’d feel better if I knew Rand was safe.

I fly in the direction of the streaming lights. As I travel, my mind begins to wander. How could I have not known all the pain and sacrifice that lurked in Rand’s heart? His power is greater than many of the Host, and he fought hard to obtain it, so how is it when he starts dealing behind my back, I’m oblivious to what he had to fight?

Rand Garrow… They say fools rush in where angels fear to tread. I suppose that makes him a fool.

It flickers. Just for a moment, but a moment is all I need. Rand’s power turned on and off quicker than you could flip a light switch. It’s the perfect little message to get my attention. Which I can only hope isn’t because he’s in trouble. Oddly enough, it’s in the same direction as the stars that signaled the arrival of The Dominion. Why would Rand be over there?

There’s an old junk yard just outside of the city.  The meteors and Rand’s power converge there, from the looks of it. Piles of old cars, broken equipment, and some odd pieces of art litter the lot. I touch down quietly, still unsure if this is a trap. I may also be a little afraid my superiors would find me and while I don’t think I’ve done anything against the rules, I’d prefer to not take any chance with them.

I pull my energy back, hiding as much of it as possible. I can tell a little bit is still leaking out, but it’ll have to do. Skulking around the stacks of old cars, I look for a sign of Rand.

Row after row, I find nothing. No meteors, no Dominion, no sexy, British demon-hunters. This junk yard is just filled with junk, which I suppose is appropriate, but I still feel swindled. I look to the sky for the shooting stars The Dominion were riding. They were getting closer. So that’s one mystery, but where is Rand?

“’ello, Alli!”

“BY THE PRESENCE!” I turn quickly, to find Rand laughing his ass off. “RAND! What the hell is wrong with you?”

“It was too easy. You were so focused on the bright lights in the sky, you didn’t even detect me.”

I punch him in the shoulder. “Doesn’t help that you can suppress your power completely.”

“So what is with those stars anyway?”

“Right, you’ve never met them. You’re about to be special.”

“You mean I wasn’t before?” He gives me a wink. I let it slide.

“They are The Dominion. They’re above myself, and even some Archangels Think of them as-”

“Bureaucratic nightmares?”

“…Sounds about right.”

I turn my attention back to the sky. “So how did you know they’d land here?”

Rand takes a few steps forward, standing in line with me. He looks to the stars with me.

“Good, old-fashioned estimation. I could sense those weren’t natural and thought we might be in for a fight. Finding out we’re about to talk with your boss almost makes me wish that were true.”

“They’re about to land. Try to make yourself presentable.”

The meteors come in fast, crashing into the piles of junk around us. They slammed into the earth, making some brand new craters that this lot owner will have a fun time dealing with in the morning. I run forward to the largest, already knowing who’d I’d find.

He slowly floats up, his sash adorned with blue gems. His gray hair is slicked back into a ponytail. The halo above his head splits in the center, turning back and forth, lazily scanning the horizon.

I run toward him and kneel to his grace.

“Rise, Aluma. We have much to discuss.”

“As you wish, Lord Zadkiel”

Seeking Dusk: Part 10

I couldn’t stay around Rand any longer. I take off, flying into the night air. I need to clear my head and try to figure all this out. Rand was out of his mind.

He questioned The Presence? Willingly threw himself in league with lesser demons in the name of compromise? The words he speaks remind me of someone else. Someone who long ago thought to question our creator. And the Morning Star paid dearly for his transgressions.

I don’t want to see a good man, my friend, go through all that. But talking with him was impossible! He countered every argument I made, in his on twisted way! Dammit! He’s probably still mad. Still cleaning that mess. If only I could show him. Or talk with someone about it.

Actually, I do think I can do that second one.

The question is whether he will see me. I change direction and fly back to the office of Dr. Alexander Matthews.

I touch down just outside the doctor’s office. It was a strange sensation. Humility. I had angered him and been angry in turn on my last visit. That was a mere day ago. And here I am, already having to come back and ask for help. My foolish pride was going to bruise on this one.

I slide through the door, my spiritual form allowing me to bypass the wall. I’m sure he knows I’m here, it’s not like I’m hiding the energy flowing out of me. He’ll be down shortly.

The office still had all sorts of books and artifacts thrown about the room. The man might have acted all high and mighty, but he’s one hell of a pig. His bookshelves are a different story. Each and every volume was specifically chosen. Each one contains some of the most important information we’ve ever utilized. And a select few shelves contain the only pictures of friends and family he has. It’s actually a little sad. All those memories in his head and-

“Aluma. Back so soon?” The doctor had entered from the hall while my back was turned. Looked like he hadn’t changed out of his clothes from yesterday. Polo shirt tucked into some old jeans all partially hidden under his white lab coat.

The man retired years ago and patching up angels doesn’t exactly get you dirty. I suppose it’s habit. Though that means someone else was just here. Hell, they might still be.

“Of course, doc. You know I can’t stay away.” I walk over and take a seat in a chair he had in the corner of the room. I need to be calm. No insults. I need his help. Be modest, and apologetic.

“How’s the investigation with Rand going?” The doctor moves to his desk, sifting through the drawers. I can’t tell if he’s actually looking for something or just making it seem like he didn’t come in here for me.

“Hard to say. On one hand, we’re talking with someone who might know where to look. On the other, Rand has been making deals with this informant for some time.”

“Is that so? Who’s the informant?” His eyes never leave his desk. Is he really being this petty?

“A shame demon. He runs The Milton.” And here’s the reaction…

“Ah, yes, Dumah. Lucky he’s a coward, or many of your missions would have failed.” …You’ve got to be kidding me.

“You knew about this?” I don’t think it is possible for me to be more incredulous.

He finally looks up, straight at me, like I was the one who just said the completely crazy thing.

“Of course I did. I’m the one who told him where to find Dumah.”

“…I think you broke my brain.”

The old man gives a sigh.

“Aluma, I understand that you were created with the specific purpose of killing demons, but haven’t you ever wondered how we found out where their most secret compounds are? Haven’t you wondered why, despite proving so useful in The Old War, you haven’t moved up in rank?

“You are so narrow minded, and want to kill everything labeled ‘demon.’ There’s a big difference between demons and the fallen. Though they take similar paths to get there, demons started off as humans. Which gives them that freewill we were so special for.”

I can feel myself instinctively roll my eyes.

“So you’re trying to say demons aren’t all that bad. Oh gee, why didn’t I ever think of that? Thank you so much for showing the error of my ways. I’ll be sure to give the next demon I see a nice big hug.” I start to get up.

Desine

And I immediately freeze in place. Damn.

“Please sit.” The biggest downside to being an angel, is that you were made to serve.

I resume sitting, and the doctor continues his lecture.

“Aluma, you have to understand, as much as I wish we could just run out and kill every last bit of evil on the planet, that is not our duty. Ours is to hold back that tide of darkness for as long as we can.”

“I fail to see how protecting them helps us accomplish that…”

“We’re not letting them do as they please. Aluma, there will always be evil in this world, from now until judgment day. So in turn for letting small fish roam free, we can put our efforts towards stopping the bigger fish.”

“Well, even if I did believe that, that’s not the biggest issue I have. It’s Rand. He’s talking about wanting an end to the war.”

“Well my goodness, that most certainly does sound horrible.”

Okay, it kind of stings to have your own sarcasm thrown back in your face.

“Well, it’s just… I…”

The doctor finally sits at his desk and addresses me directly

“Tell me, Aluma. Why did you come here?”

I think over the question, genuinely wondering the same thing. What is it about Rand that bothers me? If he still has use of the Light, shouldn’t that mean he’s doing something right?

“… I’m lost.” It was painful to admit, but it needed saying. It was what Dr. Matthews was looking for. His proud little smirk tells me that.

“You’re a host of heaven. Not the Lord himself. It’s natural to lose your bearings and need guidance.”

I didn’t want him to be right. The Great Aluma reduced to this. Asking a human for help.

“What has Rand done to shake you? What of it has made him so compromising?”

“It’s the callous way he so quickly became trusting of those we considered enemies. Maybe they can be of use, but to me, they were just things we killed not too long ago. I haven’t been sneaking around the backs of other angels to get what I need. I’ve entered a new world where allies, enemies and tools can spring from nowhere, and just as easily switch what they mean to me. And somehow, I’m just supposed to accept all this?”

The doctor shifts forward in his chair, his face showing concern. This hasn’t been easy for him either.

“It takes getting used to, but I can speak from experience on this matter. You want so badly for things to be one way. Black and white. But time with the angels of our Lord has taught me of the shades of gray plaguing my previous assumptions. While I might not always claim to understand the actions taken by such heavenly beings, I can tell you I either trust them, or call them out. Which do you think this deserves? What has Rand done?”

I can’t answer. I can’t say he’s compromised his ideals, since his first and foremost goal was protecting mankind as I have. I can’t say hiding these dealings from me, since even I can see, and am currently proving, I would take the news so poorly. I can’t respond.

“Aluma, why don’t you go get some air? I’ll send for you if I hear movement on more of the demons.”

I obey.

Seeking Dusk: Part 9

Most of the creatures are smart. They fled off into the night after the death of the lead vampire. The few scragglers who wanted to stand their ground would soon know why I am feared among their kind. Why my sword is the bane of their masters. And why my temper is something not to be trifled with.

I grip the hilt of my sword tighter and prepare the descent to-

“ALUMA!!”

Dammit. It’s Rand. He’s standing just out of the door of the club, arms crossed, wearing the face of a disappointed parent.

The other beasts notice the second holy warrior and run away.

“Don’t you ‘Aluma’ me! These creatures laid a trap for us!”, I cry out.

“That you willingly walked into. Did you even consider asking for help? Did you think when you maimed a dozen human souls without the mercy of a swift death?”

I float down slowly, my anger far too focused on my friend for me to go faster.

“You don’t get to judge me, Garrow! How long have you been coming here?! How long have you been making deals with the darkness? You offered what I could never condone. Was I to ignore that? I leave and they ambushed me. They wished to cause me harm. Yes, the vampire gave them courage to attack, but they’re the ones who wanted to. I refuse to let a mortal judge me for defending myself, especially against such an attack by the lowest of beasts.”

I touch down right in front of him. He’s thinking. Thinking about what happened here. About my words. He’s trying to find a way to turn this around. To find a way I could have avoided violence. But he knows there is none. Humans. Ever hopeful.

“You still could have come and got me.”

“I didn’t think I had the time with a wendigo at my throat.”

“No, you just didn’t think.” He turns to one of the wounded creatures. He points his hand at the beast and lets his energy pour out. The bright white beam shooting out his hand envelopes the monster and when he’s finished, there is no more.

“I’m going to take a while cleaning up here. Go patrol. We’ll rendezvous-”

“No.”

He turns and faces me.

“Excuse me?”

“You’ve been acting so morally superior all day.  What is wrong with you?”

He looks around, slightly annoyed. He doesn’t get to play this game.

“Tell me Rand. Something happened between last night and this morning. Hell, something happened in the last few years. When I was last on assignment, you never would have gone to The Milton alone. You never would have defended these monstrosities.” He turns back around. I won’t let him escape so easily. “You never would have lied to me.”

“I didn’t-”

“Don’t start. Those marks on your arm this morning weren’t from a dog. It’s my turn to tell you to stop being stupid and tell me what’s wrong.”

He sighs. His head moves from left to right, surveying the carnage I wrought.

“I’m tired, Alli. Tired of fighting. Tired of this war.”

Is that all?

“You’re only human. An absolutely amazing one, but still human. Been fighting for, what, 10? 15 years? I’ve been at this for eons. Since the Morning Star first fell. The doctor isn’t as active-”

“No. I’m tired of this war. Tired of seeing pointless blood be spilled.”

Surprise doesn’t begin to describe how I felt.

“Rand… this is far from pointless.”

“Sure it is. One ideology versus another. Good and evil are merely-”

“Don’t you dare blaspheme around me, Garrow!”

“Alli, we want to protect humans, yet here are souls, wounded by your own blade. I can only purify so many before I get exhausted. Our God chooses to leave them to the wolves.”

“He leaves them to us. And we are-”

“Warriors. Spillers of blood. Violence is our nature, and he expects us to be equipped to heal the very warped souls he orders us to destroy?”

“He expects us to do our best.”

“Then I will. And if that involves me making deals and allies you don’t like, don’t complain to me.”

This is insanity. How could he have lost so much faith in The Presence? 

“Garrow…”

“Don’t you ‘Garrow’ me. Humans are born into a trap. Our world pains us. Teases us. Brings us down.”

“You at least have freedom.”

He walks over to the next creature and extends his hand.

“Freedom to choose how we die.”

The white energy fires from his hand.

Seeking Dusk: Part 8

The lead vampire puts his hand stretched out into the air. I could feel him gathering energy into it. Absorbing bits of power from the other creatures. Three vampires, a wendigo, and two animali. Those would inspire lots of fear in any other hunter.

I start trying to tug out of my body. This is going to take a bit. Picking this fight was a bad idea.

Without warning, one of the animalus shifts into his true form, a wolf, and starts jumping down from the fire escape he was perched on. My attention is focused on the beast as it descends, but I forgot about the vampire. He throws the ball of destructive force at me, leaving barely enough time to react. I jump to the side and fall behind a dumpster as the energy explodes and sends chunks of concrete in the air.

This body is so damn annoying. I’ve got my head and shoulders out, but the rest of me is still stuck in here. The wolf is on the ground, but where is his companion?

“CRAHHH!”

Oh wonderful. He’s an eagle. And he’s divebombing right for me. I get up and run towards the wolf. He roars at me and lunges. Got to time this just right…

I jump and step on the wolf’s head for added momentum. Pushing with all my strength, I break free of the false body. It falls to the ground. Going to be pretty dinged up when I return it. If I return it.

In midair, I extend my free wings and quickly spin around, drawing my sword. Holding it out just in time, I block the bird from hitting me. He knocks me back a bit. Even without drawing on The Power, he shouldn’t have been able to do that. Still, just a shrug.

“GRA-ha! I wonder what Angel tastes like?” The other two vampires tackle me while I was dealing with the eagle, and latched onto my body. The air isn’t safe when four of the things I’m fighting can fly. They pulled me down a little. This is getting to be too much. One started going for my neck. Dammit.

My body lights up, engulfed in holy fire. The vampires are thrown back, burning to ash from the experience. My armor materializes. While I should now have the upper hand, this shouldn’t have been necessary.

“There it is. That’s what we came to see.” The last vampire was laughing from atop the building. I shoot a dirty look to the monster. He just smirks back.

I aim straight for the ground and slam my sword as hard as I can into the wolf. He dodges at the last minute. Something isn’t right. These creatures should know that with this power I could annihilate them all. Why aren’t they running?

“The prototype can’t give these beasts enough strength to bring you down, but I have a feeling I know what will.” The lead vampire puts two fingers to his lips and whistles. A group of about a dozen and a half more supernatural beasts pile outside from the door. He had backup hiding in the club.

They should still be nothing, but then that eagle was supposed to be nothing. The doctor’s words echo in my head. Courage doesn’t have to mean stupidity. Damn humans…

A good number of those reinforcements can fly. And if they’re as unnaturally strong as the vamps and animali, I have less than a second. A thousand and one ideas all go rushing through my mind. And the simplest one sticks out.

Take out the ringleader.

I push The Power just a bit more, the wave of light shoving the beasts away from me. I speed towards the top of the building keeping out of reach of the now ascending monsters. I ready my sword to rend that vampire’s head from his shoulders. I barely noticed the oddly cold wind brushing against my face….

I’m hit and knocked to the side. The wendigo tackled me in midair.

“They aren’t very bright, but they do make such lovely pets, wouldn’t you say, Host?” I hate vampires. Always so damn cocky.

I struggle with beast during the descent, which I was able to slow just a bit. The deranged human looking fiend kept gnashing at me. I finally spin and throw him off, just in time to see the group of monsters flying up at me.

I am not prepared for this. I should have ran. I should have called for Rand. I never should have agreed to this idea in the first place. I should never have sat there wishing for the bar to attack just so I could wipe them out.

The beasts finally reach me. I start slashing. Each cut is made without conscious thought. Instinct kicks in. It feels like it did during the war. That horrible war. Battle after battle.

It was cruel. I didn’t kill most of them. Sliced off an arm here. A leg there. I finally did stab that harpy at the end. It didn’t last long. One second, they were charging me. The next they were falling out of the sky. That harpy looked at me with a tear in its eye. But I could feel no pity.

“You realize they’re all part human, right? That each one is a soul. And because of your sword, none of them will reach your beloved heaven.”

I look up to the vampire. I see him smile that damned smile.

That did it. I point my sword back up at the vamp. I didn’t say a word. I didn’t make a sound. I manipulated The Power in a way I haven’t in so long. One instant ago I was halfway between the top of the building and the ground. No time passed. I was just there. Behind the vampire. My sword already sliced through his neck. His head fell the long way down towards the other beasts. They lost their leader. They lost their controller. And they knew fear of me once again.

Seeking Dusk: Part 7

“Are you two done?” Dumah said as we re-entered the room.

He looked annoyed. Or at least I think he did. It’s difficult to tell emotions under that slime.

“Dumah, we can discuss terms. But how do we know you can make good on your end of the deal?” Rand crosses his arms, trying to look tough, but I bet we’ve lost ground.

“You’ve got no choice. You’re desperate if you came to me for help.”

Rand scoffs at the suggestion.

“You’re stop number 1, mate. Don’t get me wrong, I figured you most likely had the information, but we haven’t knocked on any other doors yet. We’re far from desperate.”

Dumah scans Rand’s face, trying to detect any hint of lies. He shifts to me, almost imploring me to tell him the truth.

“He’s honest. We’ve not questioned anyone else yet. But Rand guessed you’d be our quickest option.”

Dumah sets his drink down and curses under his breath.

“Fine. You want proof?” He reaches into his jacket’s inner pocket, pulling out black smoke. He lays it on the bar.

I step closer, trying to figure out what it is, when Rand puts his hand in front of me.

“Don’t. It’ll make you sick.”

This human is getting on me nerves.

Rand steps forward and holds his other hand out. As he does, a light shines out from his hand, purifying the energy surrounding the item.

The smoke dissipates, revealing a stone totem. Enochian runes are carved into it, denoting a demand for payment.

“Someone is calling in a favor?” Rand asks.

Dumah sighs.

“I don’t know the three demons you’re looking for. But I know who called them. Because he called me too.”

Rand takes another step forward, when Dumah, snatches the stone up and puts it back in his pocket.

“You have my proof. Now I need your word. My person. My establishment. Both under your protection.”

I shake my head.

“I can’t give my word about that. It’s not possible for an Angel to swear to protect a demon, even one as lowly as you.”

“Then you have nothing for me. There’s nothing you have that I want besides to live.”

I’m about to make a threat, when Rand steps in again.

“What if we do?”

Dumah and I are surprised and each of us gives Rand a strange look.

He continues.

“What if we have something you want more than protection for your bar?”

Dumah laughs at the suggestion.

“You’re looking to stop a war, and will probably start one instead. What could I possibly want more than survival?”

His phrasing intrigues me. I’m just here to hunt demons. What makes him think it will start a war?

“A source of true obsidian.”

Dumah stops laughing. I stand up. Rand, you cannot be serious.

“You’re lying.” Dumah is quiet, but curious.

“You could outlast whatever war you’re afraid of. You could outlast even our winged friend here.”

I don’t move. I can’t. How did Rand find it?

“You’re promising me the source of the Devil’s Mirror?”

Rand takes a seat and puts his feet on the table.

“No. I’m offering to get you a piece. A very small one. Enough that you can weather the storm.”

Dumah considers it. Even if he doesn’t use it all, a small piece would be more than enough to buy him a piece of the pie.

I can’t stay here. I start walking to the door, when Rand notices me.

“Alli! Where are you going?”

“I need air. And I have nothing I can offer. Get our information and don’t do anything stupid.”

Rand looks down and back up. Before he can say anything, I speak again.

“You better know what you’re doing. Because if this goes south, it’s on you now.”

I leave the room and cross the club to exit again. The whole building is awash in dark energy and it’s making me sick. I finally make it back out to the alley and take a seat next to the wall. Feels good to breathe again.

The idea of Rand cutting deals feels horrible. How long has he been doing this? Has he given them true obsidian before?

And why do I feel like shit?

I have to wonder if I ever really knew him at all. I’ve lived for millennia and known Rand for only ten years. Why does this feel like a betrayal of a brother?

He isn’t even doing anything officially wrong. If he was, The Presence would have stripped him of his powers. So he has to be doing something right, right?

Damn it, Aluma. Stop being so melancholy.

“Out for a nice stroll, host?” a voice yells in the distance.

That’ll do it. I jump to my feet and look around for the source of the voice.

“Up here!” it calls out.

Up on the building across from me, stand shadowy figures. Looks to be about six of them, though more might be hiding nearby. They’re all low-level creatures and shouldn’t be able to sense me. Dumah barely could and he was suspicious enough to suspect me. Something isn’t right.

“Well boys, you found yourself an angel. Now what are ya going to do?” I shouldn’t be taunting them. It’ll take me a bit to get out of this body. They have the upper hand.

“I think we should play a game. What do you all say?” Vampire was doing the talking. The fact they knew I was here should put me on edge, but all I could do was fight back a smile.

“If you really want to play, I’m game.”

Seeking Dusk: Part 6

This is a horrible idea. My wound has pretty much healed, enough so that Rand removed the spirit thread. Still, I’m not at full power and don’t like the idea of being ambushed.

I also don’t like the idea of Rand dealing with demons. Lesser demons are borne of negative human emotion, while stronger demons used to be human souls themselves. They represent a deep corruption of everything The Presence had made. And Rand cuts deals with them like nothing.

Rand went inside the building, while I sat on top of a neighboring roof looking down. We can’t risk any of them being strong enough to sense me, so I hide inside the false body. He gave me a little radio to listen to him inside, his silly gadgets proving useful for once.

It crackles on, his voice coming through a little grainy.

“If you’ll just step out here, we can talk.”

“This is very annoying Garrow! Why couldn’t we just speak inside?”

And there’s Rand. He was exiting the back of the building with what looked like a normal human. But I knew better. The slimy aura coming off him was unmistakably a Shame Demon. As Garrow leads him outside, I start my descent. I jump from the roof and grab on to a fir escape on the opposite building. I slide down a little before jumping back across touching on a windowsill and pushing off to take a few steps off the wall. I’m behind the demon, hopefully keeping myself hidden, and overhear their conversation.

“Well, you see Dumah, we have a bit of an issue.”

“I have no issue.”

“You weren’t part of the ‘we’ I’m talking about.”

Oh, thank you, Rand for setting up such a perfect introduction. I take another leap off the wall, close enough that I can land. While the false body replicates being human, it’s a little more durable. I land behind Garrow, hoping to spook our friend.

Instead, he is thoroughly unimpressed.

“What do you want, host?”

I was really hoping for a bit more cowering, but I suppose we can’t have everything.

“You don’t seem surprised?”

“Your power flows through the air, even when you think it concealed. Took me a minute to figure out what it was, but I understood once Garrow here started acting suspicious.”

“Aw, and here I was thinking I was so sneaky.” Rand has a weird smirk on his face. He knows something I don’t. Hate when that happens.

“So, what do you two heavenly warriors want with a worm like me?”

I guess Dumah doesn’t have too high an opinion of himself.

“Well, my lovely winged friend here was wondering if you’ve heard of anyone wanting to escape the pit.”

Dumah’s face barely changes, registering our query. He’s thinking, probably wondering if we’re deadlier than a higher demon. Maybe we aren’t but we’re the ones who can kill him right now.

“What, in particular, are you referring? Plenty have schemes for what they’d do if they escaped, not realizing you would send them to the void if they did.” He gestures to me. “So, if you could narrow it down for me, I’ll see if I can be of some service. And make it quick, I have customers waiting in there.”

This time, I take the initiative. “How about something along the lines of three demons with enough power to warrant me willing to talk to you and some unknown way to hide their power while possessing a human?”

Dumah’s eyes go wide. Almost afraid they’ll pop out of his head.

“Ah, shit…”

“I take it you know something, then?” Rand is far too pleased with himself. I can’t blame him, it’s good we have someone who knows something.

“We can’t talk out here. I have a sealed private room. Come with me.”

He leads us inside the club, the security guard inside giving me a dirty look until Dumah waves him off. While I got some better fitting clothes, I still don’t think I’m properly dressed for a night on the town.

Walking through this place makes me sick. It’s not just demons. It’s vampires, werewolves, sirens. A chill in the air tells me a wendigo is somewhere among them. These perversions of humanity were just here, pretending to be human. Hell, some people might actually be human and unaware of what stands around them, but most of the humans have to know.

There’s a private back room, spiritually sealed from attack and eavesdropping. I’m rather impressed. I can’t sense anything through it. I suppose this is why Dumah wanted to bring us in here.

In the private room, is an office, set up with a private bar on an opposite wall.

Dumah walks behind and pulls a bottle out.

“Drinks?”

“I’m fine.” I quickly state. By now, Rand has noticed me fidgeting.

“I’ll take a shot of whiskey.” Really?

I shoot him a dirty look.

“What?” he says. “If I’m going to be stuck with your bad mood, I may as well enjoy myself.”

“Surprised you don’t drink around me more, then.” I turn my attention back to our demon. “Tell me, what do you know about the demons I’m hunting?”

Dumah sits down and slides Rand’s drink over. The demon is drinking what looks to be pure Everclear.

“You two are a little in over your head.”

Rand downs his shot and wipes his mouth. “So we’ve gathered. Skip the warning and get to what we’re here for.”

“I’m going to need more than some idle threats.”

“I can make them less idle if you want.”

“Quiet, Alli.” Rand shoots me a dirty look before turning back to the demon. “What are you looking for exactly?”

He glances at me before addressing Rand. “I need assurance of protection for myself and my establishment.”

“Like hell we will!”

“Aluma…”

“No! I refuse to protect this slimeball-“

“Well thanks. I’m right here…”

“-and this horrid place he operates! All his clientele are the worst kind of scum in that they not only commit unspeakable acts, but lie through their teeth to escape retribution!”

“I’m sorry Dumah, please excuse us.” Rand gets up, grabs my arm and leads me out the door. If I weren’t trapped in this damn doll I’d make him pay.

“Alli, what are you doing?”

“Chewing out a demonic being. See how I didn’t slice his head off? I think I’m showing a lot of restraint.”

“We need his information.”

“And I need to kill some demons.”

“You agreed to go about this the smart way, did you not?”

“…yes”

“Now, can you do me a favor and let me do the talking?”

“You know I’m bound by my word. And I don’t want to protect this piece of-“

“Then don’t! We’re here to bargain. So bargain. Make your own demands. Set your own terms.”

I pause. I guess that makes sense.

My look of confusion must have given away my thoughts.

“Have you seriously never considered that?” Rand asks, incredulously.

“I’m a warrior. I’m not often in situations to bargain!”

“I can’t believe you’ve lived for millennia and never considered…” He trails off, but quickly comes back, “Let me do the talking. I won’t make you agree to anything you don’t want to do.”

“Fine. Just don’t expect me to not come back here when this is all over and wipe out every monster here.”

Seeking Dusk: Part 5

Rand dropped his coat off at his apartment and met me at a diner he frequents. We sat in a booth near the back. While it’s unlikely anyone would purposefully listen in on our conversation, people who happen to overhear us talking of demons might get the wrong idea.

“So a dog attacked you, eh?”

…I don’t have to start the conversation with business.

Garrow is still looking over the menu, eyes never leaving the page.

“Yup. Mangy mutt. But at least I’m not dressed like a regular at Walmart.” He folds up his menu and gives me his damned self-satisfied smile.

I sit for a moment, and consider abandoning the body, to leave Rand looking like a lunatic, but decide against it.

“Point. What are you getting?”

I look over the menu myself. It has felt so long since I’ve had the sense of taste, but I am salivating. How do you keep yourself from ordering everything?

“I’m considering an omelet. Might go crazy and fill it with spinach. What about you?”

“Haven’t had human food in a while, I kind of want everything.”

“Sadly the pockets of a freelance demon hunter don’t stretch that far. I recommend the French toast here. It’s terrible, but absolutely an experience.”

Our waitress walks up, a woman named Daisy. As I turn to look at her, a chill shoots up my spine.

“Ya’ll know whatcha orderin’?” she asks, unceremoniously.

I can’t explain it, but when she looks at me, I could swear she lingers. Her eyes dart above and behind me, just for an instance, like she can see my now non-existent wings.

Rand speaks up first.

“Yes, could you please get me a bacon omelet with spinach and peppers and just a bit of mild cheddar cheese? No sides. And an orange juice to be brought with my meal.

Garrow gives her his winning smile after his order. She somehow appears unaffected.

“Right. And you miss?”

“I’ll have a waffle.”

“Oooh, the waffle meal is a good choice.” Rand interrupts. Daisy and I both stare at him.

“And if you could, please top it with some whip cream and strawberries?”

“Uh huh. Anything else?” Daisy looks ready to leave.

“No, that will be all, thank you.”

“Right. Be right back with your orders.”

Daisy walks off.

Rand’s silence has gone on too long.

“You know, if I didn’t know any better I’d say you ordered your waffle with whip cream on purpose.”

“Don’t forget the strawberries,” I coyly respond. “Or did you forget that part of the night?”

I take a long sip from my water, staring down the now blushing British man across from me. He quickly looks down, quite possibly in shame.

That’ll teach him to make fun of my clothes.

“What’s your big plan for hunting down your demons,” Rand quickly asks.

I think for a moment. While there’s been plenty of time for me to come up with something cleverer, I hadn’t dedicated enough time to the thought.

“I suppose they’ll come to me.”

“Bad plan.”

“Why?”

Rand rolls his eyes.

“We went over this.”

“Did we now?”

Rand leans in a little closer, his voice noticeably quieter, but not quite a whisper. Like he’s genuinely afraid.

“We can’t take that chance. We don’t know what these things are capable of, or what they even want.

“We do know they like hurting me.” I point to the spirit thread in my chest, which, now that I think about, isn’t visible in the false body.

I think he got the point anyway.

“That’s precisely the problem.”

I give a small grunt of disapproval.

“Okay, so what do you want to do?”

His eyes get shifty, and his voice even quieter. I’m not going to like this, am I?

“Well, if you want to find information about demons, who better to ask than another demon?”

I’m not quite following. My eyes must have given away my confusion, because Rand continues.

“We could ask someone at The Milton.”

He did not just say that.

“Are you insane?! An angel and a devout in that literal God forsaken place? I thought you were trying to keep me from doing something stupid!”

“I have a contact there who might know something.”

My mouth drops as I try to find the words.

“How long have you been going there? Why? What in The Presence possessed you to go there? Wait, are YOU possessed?” I stat trying to remove the false body, but Rand puts a hand on my shoulder.

“I get it. It’s a horrible club for low level demons, evil spirits, and the possessed. But it’s also a place the bigger baddies stay away from. You and I could easily wipe out everyone there.”

He leans back trying to look cool.

“Here’s the catch though: those little guys hear things. And even better, they’re there getting drunk. If we’re going to get information somewhere, that’s the place to go.”

For once, he’s dead wrong. This is bad. This is an outstandingly bad plan.

“Garrow, I want you to really understand how much it pains me to say this, but I’d rather go back and apologize to the doc than go there.”

“You know him though. It’ll be a few days before he’ll see you in person again.”

Ugh. So frustrating. Maybe this is the best plan. Maybe the entire bar attacks at once and overwhelms us.

But I need information.

“Fine. I’m in.”

Seeking Dusk: Part 4

“So, let me get this straight. You fought a demon and couldn’t tell how strong it was beforehand. And you stopped for a pack of grief demons I couldn’t see?”

“Yeah. That’s about the size of it.” I am surprised. I didn’t expect Rand to take this so calmly.

“Screw this, I’m out of here.”

Or so I thought.

“Aluma, you’re in way over your head. I’m not going to go down because you’re too arrogant for your own good. Call back home. Tell them what’s happened. The Presence can take care of this better than either of us can.”

“That’s ridiculous. What am I supposed to say? You think they’ll send down a squad because I got surprised and a human couldn’t see a pack of specks? Very convincing.” I give Garrow a sarcastic clap.

He crosses his arms and shoots me a dirty look.

“Then what? You keep looking for an enemy that can possibly hide from either of us? One who likely now knows you’re after them? By the time you present more evidence, you’ll be dead or worse. Don’t be stupid about this. You’re a high ranking, and might I add, trusted member of The Host. My name even has a certain amount of respect among the angels. They’ll trust you.”

That’s the second time today someone has called me stupid. Not liking it at all. I hate to admit when he’s right.

So I won’t.

“At best, they send a squad to look around. You know how much attention they can draw? Those demons will be gone in an instant.”

Rand looks like he’s about to say something, so I quickly continue.

“At worst, they send someone without taking the threat seriously. If the other two demons are just as strong, they’ll wipe out the unit. I refuse to let that happen.”

My friend’s face contorts as he thinks through several different thoughts, but he knows as well as I. The Host for all their power tend to be lacking in creativity. They’ll play this by the rules, and it will get them killed.

“Fine. What do we do then?” he asks.

“Well, I need some sleep. A night in this consecrated area should get me back to 100%.” I take a few steps away finding a fairly flat part of the park near the bridge. “In the meantime, you can patrol the park. I’d appreciate the help.”

The gears in his head were turning as he looked me over, then to the surrounding park.

“Alright. We’ll keep going until we find those grief demons. After that, you report back with the evidence and get backup down here. Agreed?”

“Of course,” I lied. “Anything for your peace of mind. Now, I need to sleep. Keep me safe, Garrow.”


“Well, a wonderful good mornin’ to you! Get plenty of sleep?!”

The loud yell forces me to acknowledge Garrow’s presence. But I don’t wanna.

“Too early… let me sleep…”

“Most certainly not! I’ve been here all night and I’m bored. You should be healed by now, let’s get going!”

I roll over, facing away from him. No way in hell am I-

“GAH! What in the name of The Presence do you think you’re doing?!”

Rand had picked me up and hoisted me over his shoulder. The bastard.

“We are getting our morning on. The doc was kind enough to send a false body and clothes for you. Damn lucky too. He just replaced the one he lost last time. Mentioned something about that being your fault?”

I stop squirming at hearing that.

“That was not my fault?”

“Then I suppose that false body walked into a patch of doubt demons all on its own?”

“…not entirely my fault.”

With some exception, including people like Rand and objects of spiritual importance, angels cannot interact with the material world. It is possible for us to possess a human, but it is forbidden. It is said it makes us too much like the demons we hunt.

So, since the days of your ancestors, The Presence has guided people to crafting suitable humanoid figures for us to manipulate. You’re more than aware of them, but likely didn’t understand their true purpose.

However, using these statues has become more and more difficult over the years. Humanity holds these in such high regard, we can’t just take them anymore. To help, Dr. Matthews has been special ordering components to make new ones. They’re cheaper than buying priceless art, but still difficult to come by.

I suppose I’ll owe him yet another favor for this.

“Can you put me down? I’m awake now.”

Rand takes me off his shoulder and stands me up. As he does, I notice a bit of his coat is ripped. He’s also covered in dirt.

“Bit of a bigger demon to make those marks.”

“Bit of a bigger dog, I’d say,” he replies.

I laugh. I shouldn’t, but I do it anyway.

“Hardy-har-har. Next time, I’ll let the mutt rip you to shreds.”

I regain my composure and decide Rand’s put up with me enough.

“Thank you, my knight in dark leather.” I give a gracious bow. “Now, take me to the false body. I imagine you’re starving.”

He gives a half smile and steps toward a large bush he was walking toward before.

“Your clothes are in the bag next to it. Put on your meat suit, and let me know when you’re done.

He walks away leaving me to my process. Humans and their strange sense of modesty. Why would I care about my unclothed body being seen?

The body itself looks plain. Flesh colored ceramic molded into a vaguely humanoid shape. The materials mixed in are somewhat difficult to come by, and the incantation developed by Dr. Matthews has allowed for some great alterations.

I step into the form and take it over. The ceramic springs to life, changing to match the flesh of a human. Instead of me possessing this blank form, it conforms to my figure, bright hair sprouting where there was none. It hugs me close, like clothing that’s just slightly too tight, but it works.

The process complete and I am practically human. Minus my lack of a naval, no doctor in the world could find something wrong with this body.

While the forms are useful for allowing me to hide my own power, and interact with the human world, they also seal away my abilities. I have to pop out of it to summon my sword and armor.

I reach for the bag and pull out the clothes provided for me.

Oh hell.

I step out from behind the bush and tap Rand on the shoulder. He turns around and nearly laughs himself to tears.

I’m wearing a sweatshirt that’s far too large for me. No way it was the doctor’s, so that means he picked it out sspecifically. The jeans are tight and stop at my mid-calf. And he gave me flip-flops to wear for shoes.

“Shut it, Garrow. I want breakfast now.”

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén