Spades Fiction

Episodic stories of fantasy and science fiction.

Category: Seeking Dusk

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 demon 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.”

Seeking Dusk: Part 3

This alley… Nice little secret back entrance into the doctor’s medical facility/ home. Hadn’t been out here in a number of years. Really gone to hell. I remember when humans took better care of these cities.

Then again, so does he.

I have two more demons to hunt and little idea where they might be. The Presence sent me here for the first one, but with my connection severed from it down here, memories of what I could have known are hazy.

And if I hadn’t got the old man in a kicking-angels-out-of-his-house mood, he might have had a way to help me track them. Or maybe just rumblings of any kind of demonic activity. While my chest was healed, I lacked the energy for another fight like that hidden demon.

If something like that can sneak up on me again, I’m not sure if I…

No. None of those thoughts. Focus on what we can do. Doctor’s office is off limits until he cools down. There’s the bridge, but it’s more than several blocks away. I don’t have a body, so I can’t exactly call for help.

Lacking options, the bridge is the best choice. Getting there without having half the city’s demons on my tail will be tricky, but if I can get there, it will be worth it.

I pull my wings in tight, and take off running into the city. Getting there before nightfall could mean my survival.

The bridge is protected ground. Long ago, a place of worship stood in its place. A place to praise The Presence. It has been torn down in the intervening years, the greater land around it turned into a park. The bridge used to run over an artificial river that has since dried up.

But lucky for me, the ground is still consecrated. While there, I should be protected from the nasties that lurk in this darkness. Even a simple rhyming demon would be a challenge when I’m drained like this.

It’s a sad thought. The great story of Aluma “Firebrand” ended by a low level demon. Not that the irony would be lost on me.

What’s that?

I dive off to the side, hiding behind the wall of a building. Up ahead are a pack of grief demons. How did I nearly miss them? My mind moves a thousand miles a minute. Thoughts too uncohesive.

Focus, Aluma.

Ahead the demons are still huddled around something. Whatever that something is, they seem… excited? Grief demons don’t get their kicks from much, but that little thing seems too small to be a dead body. If only they could get out of the way, I might see it!

I get my wish, but not how I expect. The demons poof into a puff of sulfur, whatever they were obsessing over going with them. I don’t like this. Grief demons themselves are insignificant, but exhibiting such odd behavior, coupled with the demon who could hide his power earlier…

I really don’t like this. No time to waste, though. Have to get to the bridge. I can think over this all I want once I’m there.

The city seems to fly by me as I resume my rush to the sacred ground. With each step, I hear it. It can’t be coincidence, as each pitter patter of foot hitting ground happens almost exactly as my own do. And they’re keeping up with me, which is no easy feat for a mortal.

Demon’s can’t enter hallowed ground, but a human certainly can. And there are ways for a human to… No. Get to the bridge. You can stop worrying about the demons then, and focus on the human.

I turn down side streets, half hoping I might lose him in the confusion, but he keeps up at every twist.

C’mon, I’m nearly there. Just a little bit more…

“Base! Haha! I’m on blessed ground now, so don’t you-“

I turn and face my pursuer and come face to face with the last person I expected.

“Well, you’re pretty spry for a nearly dead halo. How are you, Alli?”

Before me stood Rand Garrow, an old friend.

“What the actual Hell, Garrow? Why were you following me?!” the words spit from my mouth with a fire that nearly lights up my sword.

“Calm down! I’m just checking on ya, girlie! The doc put out a call for someone to keep an eye on you when you first landed,” he says with a smile. I can’t stay too mad at him. I have to admit, the accent helps.

“Why would he care?” I pout.

I look over Garrow, his outfit absolutely ridiculous. He’s clad head to toe in black, little pouches at his waist. In them, he has gadgets and gizmos, that I’m fairly certain he doesn’t use half the time in his line of work. He’s covered in a long coat. It’s an old thing, likely something he keeps for a reason.

“He may have kicked you out, but he is still a believer. He knows you need help. I told him I’d be the best to calm you down if he pissed you off.” He giggles. “Which he obviously did.”

“And the sneaking up on me helped with that how?”

“Figured I’d never get the chance to catch an angel unawares again, and thought I’d have some fun.”

I give a slow clap.

“Bravo. Really calmed me right down.”

He gives an exaggerated bow, then returns to standing, a massive grin on his face.

“Now, how can I be of service to a heavenly host?”

“I need some sleep. Doc stitched me up, but I’m still not at 100%. While I rest until morning, you keep watch. Saw some grief demons escaped you earlier.”

Rand’s face contorts, his eyebrows smushing together as he stares at me intently.

“Grief demons? Nearby? That’s impossible, I’d have sensed them.”

Oh. Oh shit.

“Garrow, I can’t take another game right now, so please be serious. I saw a pack of grief demons just back the way we came.” I point back from the way we ran here.

“It was just before you started following me.”

Rand shakes his head.

“Alli, I’ve been following you since the Doc’s place. We never saw grief demons on the way here.”

Yeah. Okay. Now I’m starting to worry.

Seeking Dusk: Part 2

My eyes open slowly as I come to. This is definitely not the alley. I squint around the room, but shades are blocking most of the light. As my eyes adjust, I realize where I am. The mix of medical and occult books strewn about tell me he didn’t take much time to clear a space for my body when he brought me back.

I sit up and feel the soul thread tighten in my chest. I run my fingers over it, the wound completely gone. I guess he hasn’t had time to pull out the string after healing me. The doc did a good job stitching me up. The poisonous energy that had affected me from the demonstrike was dispelled.

That was a stupid mistake. He was strong, I should have seen that coming instead of standing around, letting it infect me.

The door opens and I turn to face my rescuer. Dr. Alexander Matthews walks in. He’s an older man, somewhere in his 80’s, who’s helped The Host for several decades. A devout catholic, and excellent medical doctor, his assistance has proven invaluable to pretty much all of us who’ve passed through The City. A few of us have even been lucky enough to run into him on his travels.

He’s not a huge fan of the repercussions from meeting the angels. It’s nice to think we’re all little mindless servants to The Presence, but to learn we all have our own personalities, some of which are a bit… cruder than what you’d expect upsets him. My personal love of curse words ticks him off good.

“Good afternoon, Doctor! Fine day?”

“Hello, Aluma. It’s good to see you up,” he says as he takes a seat in his office chair. “I see you got yourself in a good mess. Care to tell me about it?”

I could hear the distaste in his voice, like a disapproving father.

“Just demon hunting. This one wasn’t too bad, he just got a lucky shot in.”

“Lucky? Last time I saw a beast get a supposed lucky shot, you barely had a scratch.” He lights his pipe before continuing.

“You normally acknowledge skill in your adversaries, even in these filthy creatures. What happened?”

I sigh before answering. Not that I have any answers.

“I’m not sure. He seemed weak. Didn’t even think he was the demon I was after. But he was just standing there, I knew something wasn’t right. I knew it. I, of course, engaged him anyway.”

The doctor looks over me thoughtfully.

“And you underestimated his skill?”

I shake my head.

“No. I underestimated his power. Doc, when he jumped out of the human, he was taller than the buildings near where I passed out.”

“Disturbing… A demon with the ability to hide its power… Any thoughts?”

“Don’t I normally ask you that?” I jumped down from the table.

The doctor walked over to some of his books and started leafing through them. “I’m afraid my knowledge of any such ability in demonic beings is lacking. I’ve never encountered it before. There are some materials they can hide behind, but it’s unlikely this man had a cursed iron wall.”

“No. Ooooh! Unless he made it invisible! Demons are sneaky like that!”

“Cut it out. You’re such a child,” he places the book back on the shelf.

“Don’t say that to me, youngster! I’d been a warrior-legend before your parent’s eyes first met.”

He shoots me a dirty look. For a human who supposedly follows a humble path, he sure demands respect.

“You have to be careful. Your enemies are exhibiting a previously unheard of ability. They may be hiding more. Use your head for once, Aluma! Courage doesn’t have to mean stupidity.”

“Oh, Dr. Matthews! I didn’t know you cared!”

Okay, now even I’m not sure why I was teasing him. Was I scared?

“Child, you may have years on me, but your maturity could do with some work. For just a man, I’ve had contact with so many angels, but you have to be the most frustrating! For the servants of my Lord, I never expected such… weakness!”

I tensed up. He’s gone too far.

“Alex, do not presume me to be human. My conscience does not weigh upon my actions. I do not fail in my tasks. If I was chosen for this assignment, then I can and will complete it. And to question my role, is to question that very Lord you so revere.”

I’d gotten to him. Not a single curse word in the past day and I got to the old man. He opens his mouth and says one word.

Exieris.”

In a blink, the old office disappears and I find myself outside, staring at his door. Oh yeah, I got to him.

Seeking Dusk: Part 1

I can only imagine what it was like to see all of reality form in the beginning. There isn’t any evidence, but I’d like to imagine it’s much like leaving The Presence. One minute, you’re part of a massive consciousness of angel and god, the next, you are you. Complete

As the dimensional tunnel swirled around me with every and all colors at the same time, I felt the last bit of The Light leave me. It always felt so strange for it to be gone. More so than the sound of a symphony, the smell of your favorite food, or a piece of art leaving your short term memory. I couldn’t imagine it in my life at all.

I can only guess that this makes it easier to leave. Which is especially necessary as I may be gone a long time. Three demons had escaped into the human world and I was chosen to hunt them down. I dunno why they would risk escaping the pit so brazenly, but there wasn’t any kind of excuse. The punishment for escape is clear.

The tunnel of light around me began to dissipate. The Presence should have me land fairly close by the first of the demons. While I don’t have it now, in the collective we can see nearly all of the earth. It was this one poking its head out for a moment that made us take action.

Metal poles shot up around me, as concrete materialized and formed into buildings. The asphalt flowed down like a river, making the street. The entire physical world seemed to come into being, much as I did only moments ago.

The city was an impressive feat for these creatures. They had manipulated and built great structures to their own benefit. But with so many people here, the demon was not lacking in people he could hide in.

The bustling on the street goes right through me as I stretch out my wings. Humans have always felt so limited. They can’t see that which is right in front of them. They can’t feel that which is most important.

My wings flap and I ascend, overlooking the crowd. A demon could see me coming this way, but then he’d have to move, and I could feel when he does.

“No. No way it is that easy.”

Across the street is a shady looking guy. Slightly ragged clothes, wearing sunglasses, standing in the alley. He might be a drug dealer, might just be waiting for someone. But the darkness flowing off his person is palpable. It is so much more than even the worst human, but not at the level of the demons I’m looking for.

Still, I guess it’s my obligation to check it out. I glide across the street. A bus passes through me and kind of tickles. Just a bit. I fight the urge to smile though, as it’s hard to be intimidating to a demon when you’re giggling like an idiot.

I fly up, rather than directly approach. Not yet, anyway. I can sense a dozen or two humans in the vicinity. Most are in the buildings at his sides. Two are vagrants in the dumpsters behind him. None have the level of darkness he does. No one seems to be spying on him. No one could come to his aid.

Something isn’t right, but that there is an easy solution for that. I draw the sword on my back and light it up. A holy fire engulfs the blade as my own Light pours out. I don’t push it enough for my armor to form, but it shines off me very clearly. If there’s a demon down there, he should be afraid.

The man is still just looking around. I float to within a foot of him.

His head quickly turns and stops, looking right at me. He lowers his glasses, revealing the darkness behind him. He is possessed by a demon.

“Leave the human, foul one! You have no business with him.”

He laughs a dark cackle.

“Does that usually work? Yelling at the spirits? And here you were supposed to be a hot shot.”

I ignore his insult.

“I’m giving you a chance to go back quietly. Surrender now, return to the pit and-“

“You know that’s not happening,” he interrupts. “I know what you’re here for. So why not summon that armor of yours.”

“I won’t need it to handle you.” I ready my blade.

“Oh shit. You really can’t tell can you.” The man looks genuinely surprised. “Guess it really works.”

He lets out a laugh so disturbing I actually wince. What is he talking about?

“If you had half a brain, you’d have struck me down the moment you saw me. Guess it’s my lucky day.”

The spirit jumps out of his host, the human body collapsing on the floor.

It’s impossible. I’m looking right at it, but there’s no way this was the demon I had sensed inside the man. He was gigantic, easily three stories tall. The power wafting off him was ten times the darkness I felt.

The flam on my sword flickers for only a second.

“Die!” he screams as he swipes at me with his claws.

I try to move, but I’m a little too slow. Too taken in by surprise. His claws get a good hit, as I feel the warm blood running down my stomach. It’s a lot. More than it should be. He’s so strong though…

He laughs that horrible laugh that makes me so uneasy.

“I never thought it could be so simple! Fight back, host!”

His booming voice snaps me back into the moment. He goes to strike again, but this time I fly up, dodging the blow. I make him pay for this mistake, slicing at his arm. The yellow, sulfur smelling liquid that’s replaced his blood squirts out. It was a good cut. That arm will be out the rest of the fight.

He screams out in pain.

“You stupid bitch! I’m going to kill you!”

In tap into my Light more, pushing my Power further. I move blinding fast, shooting toward my foe like a bullet.

Three strikes is all it takes. Three strikes and a monster the size of a building falls.

He cries out in his death throes, as yellow ooze squirts everywhere.

The string of obscenities he shouts make me blush. I would never have considered something in that order. I’ll have to remember that.

For about 15 seconds, the alley is covered in the creature’s innards. I think I might nearly pass out from the smell.

Just as quick as my strikes, the parts of the beast dissolve. His body, his blood, everything. It all disappears into The Void where he’ll remain until the end days.

I release my Light. The glow fades from my body as the fire on my sword extinguishes. Strange. The smell is gone but I still feel off. Now why would-

*Thud*

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