Chapters 10 to 13

Chapter Ten – Passing Time

I’d awoken the next afternoon laying across the couch, the sun once more pouring its warmth through the window. The sweet scent of pastry and fruit filled the room, enticing my senses.

A beeping sound went off from the kitchen and I hoisted my body up to take a look. Sandra walked back and forth in the kitchen, hair knotted back in a bun and mitts on hands. She passed the door again with a tray in hand, humming  cheerful tune.

My lips became moist as my gut rumbled in hunger. It’ d been a while since I’d eaten, aside from a bag of peanuts halfway through work.

She strolled past the doorway again, noticing my upturned head peering over the couch. “I just baked some fresh pastry-squares. The fruits a hot, but they’re edible. Come try one and tell me what you think.”

I filled my nostrils up with the delicious fragrance from the kitchen and hungrily climbed up off the couch and almost leaped towards the kitchen. Almost as soon as I walked through the door, Sandra came at me from the side with a warm hug, then invited me over to try the pastries.

It was odd still waking up in another’s home so late, and more so weird to wake up to the smell of fresh food; opposed to waking up in a dreary apartment with a damp and stale atmosphere. My head had still yet to get around the concept.

Even odder yet, was having Sandra around too. She’d taken a shine to me rather quickly since the fight. Perhaps she understood now why I’d missed our last date, and perhaps how much it meant to keep her safe from harm. As far as I was aware, she was the damsel, and I the knight.

My stomach grumbled again as my eyes ate up the sight of the pastries. Neat little packages filled with berries and apple. Sandra picked two up and handed one to me.

“Be honest. It’s been a while since I’ve baked anything with pastry and fruit, and I needed to… improvise, here and there.”

I noted the kitchen was in a small mess. Ingredients and boxes unpacked and not yet put away, and a bench still coated in flour. “I can help you clean up, if you’d like.”

“No, it’s okay. My mess, my problem.”

“True, but I should help out. Then there’s more time to do other things.”

Sandra gave me a wary look. “What other things are you referring to exactly?”

She actually put me in a corner; my speaking faster than I was thinking. “You know. Just get out and about. Relax.”

Sandra eyed me off for a moment, then took a light bite from her pastry, just enough to taste it. “So you do want to remain with me for other reasons.”

“What? I didn’t…”

She took a larger bite from her pastry, then in an instant regretted her actions and almost spat it out. “Oh, god that’s hot!”

I tried not to laugh, but she caught my efforts and playfully nudged me. She swallowed her piece and then laughed a little herself. “Go on. Try it.”

I took a bite of my own, being careful not to burn the inside of my mouth too much. The fruit was sweet and left a warm sensation after I’d swallowed the piece. “You’re quite the cook.”

She smiled. “Thankyou… Now, about this, ‘stuff’.”

“I wasn’t even suggesting anything.”

She laughed back at me as I blushed. “Your cute. Anyway, it’s a nice day out for the moment. How about we go down to the park for a while?”

I couldn’t object. Though I’d not meant to mean it, in a way I’d hoped that the idea would come up, and then there’d be a chance to spend time together before tonight.

We half-packed up the kitchen and went off to enjoy the remainder of the day.

 

* * *

            The day had passed quicker than I’d wished, and the clouds began to roll in and fill the air with a chilling breeze. I’d expected that by the time I’d be ready to leave for the party that it would be pouring down; perhaps even the pre-curser to the storm predicted for the week.

Despite the day passing quick, it was enjoyable to go out again and relax. Sandra seemed at ease with me around, though she shivered every once in a while when her own senses piped up and I’d reassure her that it was okay.

It was almost unusual in a way, because whenever she seemed to notice something, my own senses would not even pick it up. Even after years of honing. That in mind though, never before had I spent time with someone who’d developed the ability to sense demons.

It was something I pondered as I took a warm shower before heading out. There were always different ‘entities’ to say the least that roamed about; not always of a threat. If there were those that passed by, harvesting from human’s, then there had to be those that didn’t take any notice at all to the on goings of man, and perhaps dwindled of disappeared from the world entirely.

I pressed the concept off my mind for now as I draped a towel over myself and tenderly dried the fed wounds that were still etched. A long cut had sealed up and left a scar across my abdomen from a battle I’d nearly forgotten from many months ago. It wasn’t an impressive injury, but one of the few that remained even after time of healing. It was possible that with the correct focus it could be meandered but the scars that remained served as a reminder to my carelessness.

The night I’d scored that injury, I’d taken on a manifested demon at a construction site. I’d been careless in the battle and found myself slipping upon a gondola. The Demon took its chance and slashed right through my abdomen. Fortunately, not cutting too deep as to kill me, but enough to cause much discomfort later, even after remaining manifested for an extended time to force it to heal up before returning.

I slipped on the clothes that lay folded by the door. I was running out of clean clothing and decided to leave a reminder on my phone to go to the Laundromat tomorrow before work.

Sandra was busy vacuuming the floor where splinters of wood were still visible as she waited for the kettle to boil. She noticed me exit the bathroom and briefly turned the vacuum off to give me a hug and kiss before I left for Mike’s.

Again I felt slightly out of place by the scene, but enjoyed it none-the-less.

After saying goodbye and swinging on a coat, I departed and quickly hurried my way along to Mike’s, hoping that the rain would hold off from hitting a down pour for a moment, but the sky had already turned near black and the first drops of rain had already swept over. It was inevitable that it would pour down heavily later.

Hopefully, despite the heavy weather and darkness, Sandra wouldn’t feel too unsafe within her apartment. I’d done my best to reassure her of safety, but aside from work the last night, she had not been left alone at home. She was a woman of strong will and courage, but that didn’t mean that she couldn’t become lonely and frightened.

I pressed on harder to my destination as rain began to fall harder once again. A cold chill swept over along a strong wind. Other people scattered quickly to their homes, umbrella’s angled towards the sky. Despite my coat, it seemed logical that I should’ve brought my own umbrella with me as well, but it was too late to turn around as the weather steadily grew worse.

Another cold chill swept over sending a shiver down my back and an odd sensation crossed of being watched came over me. I stopped briefly in my tracks and scanned around me. Something felt amiss, but it was difficult to deduce what.

The sensation passed as quickly as it came along the chilling breeze. I dreaded that I may not be able to enjoy a night out as I’d hoped.

 

* * *

            There weren’t many at Mike’s little party. A couple faces I recognised from another party Mike had held a few months back, but other than that the rest were all strangers, leaving Mike and Patrick the only two whom I was really affiliated with.

We’d found ourselves spending the first part of the night playing poker and blackjack, sometimes with a couple of the group laughing at us as jokes were passed and drinks had.

It was a good night to remain inside and enjoy a few drinks as the weather turned worse through the night. And as the warmth of alcohol slowly overcame me, I forgot all my troubles and allowed a sweet mortal bliss to take over.

Inevitably, however, as the early hours of morning crept in and part of the group began to disband , I found myself sitting sloped in a chair, laughing at nothing and lamenting that the party could not continue further.

Like the other my time came to leave. It was earlier in the morning than I’d expected to leave, but at least the storm had briefly passed. I imagined Sandra would be a little angered by the time I returned. Perhaps it was best for me to return to my own apartment for the this night rather than disturb her slumber.

With a few slurred goodbyes and laughter, I left Mike’s home, hailing a cab to drop me off. Through my drunken haze, a strange feeling crawled over me again as with before, but this time it didn’t bother me. My cheeks were rosy red and I struggled to fight off laughing at nothing once more as the cab driver brought me back to my own apartment.

The sensation swept over me again as soon as I’d reached the entrance to the apartment and paid the driver. It was difficult to really discern where it was coming from through my drunken haze, but it was clear enough that something was watching and it was nearby.

The cab drove off leaving me to groggily make my way into the building. The sensation remained throughout my ascension to the eighth floor. Growing slightly stronger as I progressed.

The Old lady sat in her chair, knitting away at a long scarf. She looked up at me as I walked past to my room and cackled to herself. “Been up drinking till the morning, have we?”

I half smiled and stumbled to my door, fumbling for my keys as I did. The sensation grew stronger and in an instant felt as if it were looming right over me. The Old lady laughed louder as I turned around to see her form distorting and twisting into something. Her skin seemed to peel off as she grew in height and bulk, a wolf like snout appearing along her face.

“I really hope you didn’t forget the tea, Shaun.”

Before my mind could react, she charged at me and shoved me through my door, slamming me onto the floor heavily. I hadn’t even phased out yet and the blow knocked all the wind right out of me. I felt ribs crack and my arm dislocate itself.

“It’s time for payback, Shaun.” It’s voice sounded familiar. “This time, you will not get out alive!” The demon picked me up and threw me into the wall. It’s form had fully transformed now to a demon in heavy red and gold armour. From its waist hung a large scabbard containing a sword decorated with a jewel encrusted hilt. The demon roared out and withdrew it weapon. “Manifest, yourself so that I may fight you at full strength!”

“Duran… But I killed you.” I focused my strength into phasing out, willing the alcohol to subside for a while to let me fight a full strength. The world around me rippled as my anger welled up and my form began to distort.

“Yes… Ready yourself. This time you will die by my sword!” He struck out and slashed downward at me. The world distorted and I rolled out of the way, a sharp stabbing pain cutting into my sides. His weapon cut through the wall behind me and revealed the room next to it. A startled man fell out of his bed, half dazed by being woken up, and screamed. Duran spared no time in slashing him in twain. “Filthy mortal.”

I stood up, sword ready in hand. My body ached from my injury and my head still felt to be floating. I’d gotten myself into a huge snag. I needed to focus more power into manifesting to defeat Duran once more, but if he kept up his attacks then there was likely o be no chance for me.

“Explain to me. How have you returned?”

Duran grinned, bearing large fangs. He took towards me with a faint attack, then grappled my arm and swung me across the room. I managed to Phase out and cushion the impact across the floor, and tumbled back to my feet.

“My master has resurrected me to fight you again. He has granted me a chance to redeem my honour!”

“Your master?” Duran attacked again, slashing through the air and slicing through anything that got in the way. He was still too powerful for me to manage and each blow that was parried rang through my arm. “Tell me, demon! Who do you refer to?!”

“You, filth, do not deserve to know my master’s name.”

“Then why has he resurrected you? There must be more a reason than to redeem your honour.”

We traded blows for a moment before pulling back and assessing the battle. My room had already been destroyed and torn apart. The scent of gas began to fill the room from a ruptured main in the wall. Duran struck out again and cut through the wall behind me, grinding across cables. A ball of flame erupted and the gassy room filled with a roaring heat, sparking fires through the room.

Duran strolled towards me, edging me back into the hallway. “If you insist, yes, this is not simply about honour, but about removing you from the equation. My Master is tired of your interference and finds you to be a troublesome factor in his overall plan. He resurrected me so that I may correct his problem.”

He snarled at me and slashed through the wall, revealing the apartment where the old woman once resided, the wall crumbling away. “My Master hasn’t just resurrected me. He has given me a gift, a new raw power.” Is stood at the ready as I felt the demonic energies from Duran swell up around him. The air became hot and the scent of hot ashes filled my nose. “Tonight. You DIE!”

Duran erupted into a mass of heat and energy, casting waves of fiery heat through the building. Scream were echoed from other rooms as the other residents awoke, startled by the sudden immense heat and burn. Duran’s bright yellow eyes glowed through the flames that erupted around him. He held his sword high and charged again.

Our blades clashed and another wave of heat washed over me. If not for my manifestation, the blaze would surely be killing me. Duran roared out and I found myself roaring in return as our blades pressed against each other in a deadly deadlock. The fires raged violently and the buildings fire alarm sounded. Water pouring down through the emergency sprinklers.

I briefly observed residents barrelling out of their room, some scolded by heat and perishing before they could get any further. I imagined that the same was happening on all floors of the building as the flames picked up in heat. Duran was going to any measure to kill me this time, and take everyone else with him while doing it.

“Damn you, Demon… Your resurrection will be short lived.”

The deadlock ceased with a burst of energy and we both barrelled back, the energy from our attack tearing open the walls around us. I watched further as people in their rooms, unable to escape the blaze burned. My rage reached a peaking point and for a brief moment my mind was completely blank.

I charged forward, my blade manifested into a strong, sabre from with a elongated hilt. My form as demonic as possible. I pulled back some of my mind, fighting off the demonic control as my humanity was dragged away.

Duran roared in delight as we clashed heavily. Our blades ringing out against one another. I felt a blade cut through my waist, then grinned satisfied as my own hit its target directly through the chest. I yanked my weapon out and spun about, Decapitating the again defeated demon. He mouthed something along the lines of ‘impossible’ and keeled over. The flames taking him over and burning his body to cinders. He would not be coming back again.

My form had returned  to a human one by the time I’d reached the bottom of a flight of stairs and as soon as I pushed open the door to the entrance hall a fire blanket was wrapped around me. Cold night air filled my burned lungs and my mind went blank once more. The next thing I could remember was the sound of a siren and the beeping of a machine as a voice urged me to stay with them.

Chapter Eleven – Revival

My eyes opened to a massive blurry light above my head. A faint beeping nearby. I fumbled with my hand to find the noise and silence it and found a hand come down over my arm. A voice spoke, asking me to remain calm. My mind told me to find out what was going on, but my body felt too weak to struggle against anyone.

I massaged my eyes with my other hand and tried to remove the blur in my vision. I found that there was a mask over my face pumping air into my lungs and out. I heard the same voice again, this time clearer.

“He seems to be recovering just fine.” The voice sounded feminine and sweet.

Another voice sounded, this time a male. “Remarkable. His body and mind must be immensely strong to have kept alive during such an ordeal.”

I felt my heart beat loudly in my chest as my vision returned to reveal the sterile looking ward where I lay. A man to my right surveyed a sheet with a smile on his face. I prayed that when I’d ended up in hospital that my form had returned completely to normal. If any part of me was unnatural when they got to me, there was no telling what may have happened.

The doctor looked down from his data sheet and smiled. “Looks like you’ll be making a complete recovery. There’ll be at least a month yet before I believe you are ready for any hard ordeals, but with the rate you seemed to heal up, I doubt that’ll be an issue.” He flipped over the sheets on his clipboard and gave me a ‘sorry’ look. “Since you’re conscious now and should be capable of walking soon enough, we can’t detain you here any longer. No Hospital cover means you’ll have to be at home, and not here. However, the hospital can supply you with a temporary wheel chair for the time being. Mrs. Patterson, I’ll leave our patient to you for now.”

The nurse walked up along the other side of the bed, nodding to the doctor as she did. By the look in her eye, I could tell that she was also a little fascinated by the fast recovery I’d managed.

“How long have I been out?” I inquired.

The nurse checked the IV drip and replied, “Surprisingly, only a few days.”

“Did I have any serious injury?”

She checked the charts for a moment. “Seven broken ribs, dislocated shoulder, moderate abrasions, a rather nasty gash across your waist… quite close to your spleen too.  And almost both your lungs had deflated… I’ve never seen a patient like you before.”

I interrupted her, “Were there any unnatural abnormalities discovered?”

She looked at me quizzically. “That’s quite the question. But aside from your somewhat rapid healing, nothing. Your ribs were broken, but from what surgery worked out, they’ve been broken many times before. They’re super strong. In fact, quite a lot of your bone’s seem to have been re-mended before and have become strengthened due to it.” She raised an eyebrow. “Are you a dare devil, or something?”

I shook my head a little. “No. Just a bar tender, believe it or not.” She looked a little cautious and I realised that she may have be getting the wrong impression. “I’m not a mobster or anything. No need to worry. I’ve broken a few bones once when I was a kid, and some time ago I was in an air crash, which broke me up a little. That’s all.” I’d lied.

She seemed to consider the story for a while, sussing me out, then seem to agree. “Well, we couldn’t even get a record on your next of kin, so I that would explain while that incident isn’t in your records. Speaking of a next of kin. There was a woman who demanded to be here, claiming she was your partner. She visited you all of yesterday with another group of people. She went home late last night though. I assume she’ll be your escort home?”

I nodded. “Yes. Can I contact her now?”

“Well the doctor said you can go. So I’ll fetch you a wheel chair and you can go use the phone.” She went to leave the room, as just as she reached the door paused for a moment , turned and said. “You’re quite the extraordinary man.” Then she walked off.

* * *

            Sandra nearly crushed me when she arrived at the hospital; embracing me with a long warm hug. She seemed on the bridge of tears of happiness. Mike was trailing in a little behind her.

“Good to see you back in action.” He said with a grin on his face.

Sandra gave me a quick kiss. “I thought I’d have lost you at one point when I first saw you… But I remembered how strong you are.”

I grinned cheekily. “Nothing I can’t handle. I’m glad to see that “

She wiped back a couple tears. “Your friends kept an eye out for me. And your boss let me stay over at the bar for a night too.”

“That was nice of them.” I peered around past Sandra to say something to Mike and found him trying to flirt with a nurse. “Oh dear. Was he hitting on the nurses here every other time too?”

Sandra looked back and Mike and giggled. “Actually, I think so.”

“Well I was about to ask how he held up without up me backing him up at work, but it seems he’s still functioning properly.”

We both laughed and Mike turned around and walked back over, grinning.

“And the other night you called me a dog.” I remarked to Mike.

He laughed at me. “Hey, a man’s gotta’ do what a man’s gotta’ do!”

Me and Mike laughed a bit and Sandra fought it off with a disapproving look, but laughed a little under her stern gaze regardless.

“Anyway, I think I’ve spent enough time in this hospital already. They said I can borrow the wheel chair until I can stand up properly and walk. Should only be a few more days, if I know my body well enough.”

“Well you stay off your feet for as long as you need. Don’t want you over-exerting yourself.”

I considered the thought of being stuck in a wheel chair doing nothing all week. Though the majority of my life seemed to be just that, I’d have preferred to still be able to go out and about… Then there were demon’s to combat.”

I’d been out three days. The longest I’d ever been before. I wondered what the news would invent for the fire and the deaths.

Mike run up from behind the wheel chair and popped a wheelie with me in it.

“Argh! Shit Mike, I’m injured, remember?”

“Aw, you can handle it. Common, let’s get you checked out of this place and to a more comforting environment.”

* * *

            We’d finally made it back through peak hour traffic to arrive at Sandra’s apartment. It was getting towards four O’clock, so Mike had departed with a light pat to the shoulder and left to prepare for work.

Sandra grinned almost evilly at me as soon as he’d left. “Finally. We’re alone.” She helped me to the couch and then sat on top of me. “You won’t believe how worried I was. You should’ve come back here after Mike’s, not back to your own apartment. The whole place was almost burn down, and along with the buildings next to it.” She leaned back and snatched a newspaper off the coffee table. “Look. They said it was caused by a catastrophic gas leak.” She stared at me sincerely, then gave me a long, deep kiss. “But I watched it happen from here… What happened, Shaun?”

I pushed the newspaper aside and kissed her back. “I’m sorry. I thought that I shouldn’t disturb you, so I went home… Some demon caught me off guard. If it hadn’t, I’d not have taken such serious injuries. But I could not manifest in time to avoid such harm.”

She bit her lower lip. “Can you not fight… for a while… Please?”

I looked away to stare at the floor for a moment, then back into her eyes. “I… I can’t do that. It’s my sworn duty.”

“But you’re still injured! You can’t fight in this state, or you’ll end up doing yourself more harm.”

She was right about that. I’d not had time to properly heal up before. In order to be able to fight, the healing process had to be sped up.

“I have to fight still. I’ll be in peak condition before the end of this night. If I manifest myself into a meditative state, it’s possible to more than double the speed of the healing process. In no time at all, I’ll be fit and healthy again.”

Sandra looked sternly back at me, hoping to think of something to say that would prevent me from fighting. But she’d have to put up with the fact that I needed to continue doing my duty. She gently kissed me once more and climbed off, looking a little defeated.

“I… You do what you need to do.” She walked off to the bathroom kitchen to make a coffee.

“Will you be needing your bedroom for the next couple hours?” I called out to her.

She took a moment to reply. “No.” She called back, he voice a little hollow.

I struggled to stand, wheezing a little as my body protested against it. Sandra was clearly upset about my ‘duty’ to fight, which put me feeling at uneasy. But it was necessary to fight. It was my purpose to do so, and there was little that could be done about it. If a fight came, then there was no running.

My legs almost buckled under my weight as soon as I’d begun to sit down in the bedroom. My lungs felt heavy and my breath staggered as my heart pounded heavily. The world shifted as my form morphed slowly and my own energies swelled up around me. It wouldn’t take too long for me to fully heal up.

* * *

A little under two hours passed by as my meditation progressed. It took a lot of focus to maintain a fixated state, and even after eight years I’d not been able to perfect the status. But, it despite the odd lapse in concentration, it did its job and my energies slowly repaired the heavy damage incurred from the other night.

It wasn’t the first time, of course, that I’d been in such a serious state. But during those times I’d always remained manifested  to allow healing to progress for longer before shifting back… and then drowning back the pain with alcohol abuse.

About an hour’s way in, I spotted Sandra sneak a look through the door and observed her gaze. Of course my form had not taken on a full form, more of a mid way point. But as she watched for a minute, she observed all my altered features. It made me uneasy and shift on the spot. As soon as she spotted the discomfort, she moved off.

I manifested back out as soon as the two hour mark had passed. Though manifesting for a long period of time wasn’t any difficult feat, to stay in such a way could cause some difficult to reverse affects. I’d no desire to remain looking like a demon when there were things to be done outside still.

The sun had set down behind the buildings and the clouds had parted enough for the new full moon to poke through and cast a bluish glow. Sandra again peaked through the door just as I’d phased back to normal

She poked her head through, cautiously. “Is it okay to come in now?”

“Yes. That is all the meditation needed for me to heal up properly.” My back cracked rather loudly as I stood up to stretch out.

“I’m sorry I got a little mad before.” She said as she walked up to me. “I was just…”

I didn’t let her finish. I hugged her tightly. “I understand. It’s okay.  I’m sorry too.”

There was a brief moment where we held each other. Then she embraced me further. My heart began to beat harder again as she forced me down to the bed. I didn’t resist her as we grappled each other upon the bed.

I felt her skin, warm and soft as she removed her top. Kissing me harder. I wasted little time in joining her effort.

We embraced passionately, pressing hard against one another, not letting the other go as if fearful that they’d never come back. I felt my heart race and my body act and move on an instinct I’d thought lost since before I’d become who I was now.

“I love you” She whispered to me.

A pain briefly stabbed into my chest, but not strong enough to stop me from accepting the feeling.

“I love you too.”

As soon as the word was uttered, we made love through late to the night.

But though it all there was a discomforting sensation that something was wrong. My inner demon was becoming angry.

Chapter Twelve: Retribution

A fraction of light pierced through the window, casting a glow along the bed. I’d awoken for the first time in years feeling well rested and in complete relaxation.

Sandra stirred next to me and then rolled back over. Her silky hair draping partly over her face. I felt the urge to hold her, kiss her, but decided it best not to wake her yet. My gut rumbled lightly and I realised that I’d missed out on eating anything yesterday, side from a muesli bar Mike had sitting in the car on the way back.

I carefully edged my way out of the bed, taking all the car to make any noise. She stirred again and seemed to stretch out an arm towards where I once lay. When she found nothing she yawned softly and spoke.

“Don’t take too long.” She giggled a little and smiled before rolling back over an cuddling up to her sheets.

I smiled at her and leaned down to kiss her cheek, then moved off to find a quick meal in the kitchen.

The day was fairly clear this early in the morning. I imagined that it’d rain later once the mist lifted and the clouds rolled in.

There was a box of oats sitting along the bench and some Mild-Roast coffee sitting nearby. Dishes sat in the sink, unwashed and scattered crumbs lay along the bench tops. Sandra must’ve been in a low mood while I was gone. Unable to focus on much or eat. I regretted not being more alert. If I’d been able to react and fight before Duran had manifested, then  I’d not have suffered a near critical injury when he’d attacked me in my still normal form.

I’d need to make it up to her for all the worry I’d put her through. Maybe some flowers?

Sandra appeared from the bedroom draped with a woollen gown, hold her arms crossed tightly to stave off the cold.

“Coffee?” I asked gesturing with the tin.

She nodded her head and shuffled over to the kitchen and wrapped her arms around my waist from behind.

“Didn’t think you would be getting up for a while.”

“Need to go to work in a couple hours anyway.”

I activated the kettle and turned around to hug her back. Her face rested gently on my chest,  warming it. I felt a deep affection rise up as I held her until she let go to use the bathroom and get ready.

It was going to be a different kind of day for me. As far as work was concerned, I was still too injured to come in tonight. Though my meditation had done exactly as it needed, healing up any damage that’d been dealt in my last battle, it was necessary to continue to play on being hurt in order to not arouse un-needed questioning.

Already the people at the hospital had discovered my extraordinary self-healing capabilities. I’d be on their medical records now, but at least they couldn’t trace me back to anyone, except for my co-workers and employers.

I began to recap my last conflict; recalling the reappearance of Duran as clearly as possible. He’d been slain twice nice by my hand, but after coming back already once, I wondered if he’d make a third appearance. Whomever it was who’d resurrected him, they were most certainly a very powerful demon.

Just like that another piece of the puzzle seemed to fall into my hands. It was likely that those that brought back Duran to kill me were those who’d been behind the demon that’d been harvesting from the people earlier last week.

The kettle whistled and steam poured up through its spout. “Extra creamy… three sugars?” I mused to myself as I prepared Sandra’s coffee, then my own. Making mine as strong and bitter as suited.

I sipped slowly at the coffee, taking time to test it without burning my tongue, then after touching it up with a little sugar,  I went back to my thoughts.

There was no way to link any recent events as of yet. The demon that had attacked last week could have been under the control of another, or it could have been acting on its own accord. And Duran’s ‘Master’ could be anything. For all I knew, his Master could’ve been a tiny archaist the size of a small dog.

Sandra emerged from the bathroom with, re-dressed and letting out a long yawn as she approached the kitchen. She promptly picked up her coffee and drank. “Mmm… I needed a coffee… Especially after being warn out.” She playfully nudged me and strolled off to make breakfast, giggling softly while she did.

I laughed to myself and returned back to my thoughts. But my mind was unable to pull any answers out. To learn anything new, I’d need to investigate. I had a few days before work could accept my supposed ‘newly healed up’ body. Hopefully more than enough time to search for answers or clues.

There was one method that could help in my search.

A few  weeks back, there was that Demon who’d lured me in and warned me about causing trouble to his own kindred. Perhaps he was linked in some way.

He was powerful though. But if I could somehow gain his attention, then I’d be able to work out what was going on behind the scenes. That was of course so long as I’d mustered the power to defend myself if he, or something around as powerful appeared.

There was now an objective for me to work towards over the next few days. Sandra would likely not like it, but it was still my duty to hunt down these demons and bring them down. One way or another.

I’d take the time to explain it to her later.

* * *

            Sandra’d not taken kindly to my idea. She felt that it was too soon to go back into combat, especially if that combat involved invoking a demon who’s power was far stronger than my own. But, after much frustration, all she could do was briefly whimper in my arms and head to work. I felt a bit bad that she’d be worrying all day. But it was better than her not knowing what I was up to.

I decided that the best plan was to head manifest myself and send out pulses of energy, which would hopefully attract the attention of any demon’s or spectre’s that were nearby. Dark foreboding clouds roamed over the City, casting into a shadowy haze as rain settled in. Good weather for hunting. More shadows in which to lurk within.

I began my search starting in the same place where the demon who’d bested me, then allowed me to live had lured me in. It had been some time since when it had last passed through, but a very faint aroma of death still lingered.

Two creatures roamed nearby, their eyes glistening in the fain like that pierced from above. They bared fangs, invoking me to approach. They were not going to be of any use to me, so I focused my attention into finding any clues.

The Demon had passed through between dimensions with seamless ease. Though there was still so much I could learn about True Blood’s, to manifest in a way that’d mask its own true presence, and to lay a trap which furthered to disguise its own meant that it was possible that dark energies had been bound to something.

The two demon followed me carefully with their eyes, watching my every move. They seemed uninterested in attacking, but with the right provocation they’d jump in an instant.

Suddenly there was a loud screeching of tires from above, followed by car horns. One creature was startled enough to jump and knock the other, which charged. The other, not quit aware, charging behind.

Without directing more attention than what I could see through the corner of my eye, I slashed through the air, my dark, ethereal like blade slicing them in twain.

This place was no longer going to be of use. The Demon had not left any true clues, side from some residual energy. But it had a bit of use. The energy left behind could potential serve to identify locations where the same demon had gone.

Rain poured heavily as I migrated back to Sandra’s home, hoping that what dark energy that lingered could direct me in the right direction.

The building, to my knowledge already, held almost no energy, except for where the one in control had taken to combat. The other spectres were of no use since they were spawned by the demon in control.

As I stood, observing the patch of floor where the demon had fell, I remembered that there was another presence that seemed to watch over me.

I looked outside to the building where I’d felt the presence strongest. There had to have been something else behind it all. Duran had resurfaced not long after the battle here. Was he in control?

No, there had to be something else behind it all. If Duran was powerful enough to have commanded the demon, which had put up such a ferocious fight, then he’d have been a far greater match than he was. Strong as he was, this could not have been his handy work. But he had a Master, strong enough to resurrect him. I needn’t a bigger hint to tell me that there was defiantly a link between them all

And that Demon from in the sewer’s was quite easily related as well.

The day leeched on as rain slowly started to pour outside. I pieces, but no set. It’d been a while since my last sighting of any major demon, and it intrigued me a little that none had engaged me during my stay at the hospital. Perhaps there was a spiritual reason for why, or just that these pure-breds preferred to fight me in a full state than an unconscious one?

What-ever the reason was, it had to be due time to battle again. My previous injuries had healed and my meditation had patched up and rejuvenated me further. They had to be out there, roaming the City, perhaps watching right  now. If this demon behind all the recent events truly had it in for me then there had to be another waiting to fight me right now.

It’s battle was going to come a lot sooner than it would expect.

Focusing my energies, my form phased further out and transformed slowly into the demon it was. I lifted momentarily before shooting up through the building and hovering myself high up above the building tops. The park was a perfect battle zone, and in this weather it was very unlikely that any people about.

I jetted off, leaping off of  tall sky scraper and hurling towards the park. Once I’d landed I let loose a terrible roar, invoking a challenge to any willing to do battle. With any luck, another serving under this “Master” would appear, and I’d get more answers.

In only a few minutes demons on varying shape, size and manifestation appeared.

This ground was now an arena.

Chapter Thirteen: Warzone

A large, animal-like demon charged me, baring its fangs. I braced myself for collision, then swiped under it with my pike. It skidded to its knees, digging up dirt. More charged behind, screaming out in a demonic tongue. Before the first creature could regain itself, I mounted it and gripped tightly at the scruff of its prickly coat. It reared, then charged for a moment, but my firm and demanding grip quickly told it who was in control here.

With my new mount under my command, I raised my blade high in the air, letting out another massive roar. The first line of demon, daring enough to engage first halted immediately in their tracks. I was nearly impressed. Spectre’s had very little reason and control over their hunger to kill and feed, but almost the entire first line of attackers seemed to have reason enough to not go against me.

I let loose another roar as I trotted my mount up to the first line, invoking them with my blade to either turn and engage those behind them with me, or die.

Of course, my human side knew that when this battle was nearing its end, I’d eradicate all of them with no remorse, simple to wipe their taint from this plain. But my inner demon seemed to rise with pride as the demon were invoked, mostly through fear of death, to choose my side and fight with me. It was a sense of honourable battle that my inner demon seldom  felt, and was normally only invoked on a rare occasion.

This was different to anything else. Free roaming demons and spectres were, even to manifested, filth. Or so I’d heard lately from all those pure-blood’s had spoken. They held no allegiance, and only turned tail when if they themselves were manifest enough to reason between a losing battle and a quick victory.

Those changing their allegiance turned to face the next wave of demon approaching. They were incoming from every direction, and as with the forty-odd that had turned to my side, many more nearby seemed to turn tail and flee, or try to join me and fight those that approached.

It was a unique sight to see them in-fighting like this and it filled me with more disgust for their kind.  I felt a sensation much like the pure-blood’s that had engaged me would have felt towards them. It was almost sickening.

I shook my head and regained my poise. I’d taken command over a group of demon’s and if my power slipped, they’d just as quickly turn on me once more. I had a mission to accomplish here. Surely, with so many fighting like this, a pure-blood would be invoked to put a quick end to the rebellious creatures.

I let loose another roar and found more turning away in fear and a decision to help my fight. My mount quivered under my weight, afraid that one slip up would mean death by my hand.

More poured forward from all directions, drawn by the conflict. The weather became horrific as lighting brightened up the sky and thunder roared. It was becoming far worse than predicted and I curiously pondered if the presence of so many demon had an impact upon the natural order of things, such as the weather.

Suddenly a wave of energy clashed with the ground, tearing up the surface and casting bright, bluish-green flames along the crevasse; engulfing the creatures nearby and causing my mount to rear up.

I scanned the sky and spotted two emerging through a large rift which opened up in the sky. They lowered themselves to only around fifty feet from the ground, then raised their own blades towards me and roared.

Demon’s poured through the rift and charged. Raising my blade high once more, I let loose my best roar. Those that had no alliances with the two demon’s that had appeared quickly made a decision to flee or join the battle. As I’d imagined, almost every demon that had appeared turned tail and fled the scene, not wanting to get more involved with the conflict.

It didn’t matter. My prey had appeared, and if my powers held, it’d hopefully be a brief battle.

The two Demon’s waited as their small army charged forward, clashing with the other’s that remained. They seemed intent on letting the battle dwindle before interfering themselves. But I had other plans.

In a brief instant, I jetted up through the air, a loud clap sounding behind me as sound finally caught up. The two Demon’s were startled momentarily, but managed to regain their poise and guard against my pike.

They roared at me as our weapons clashed in a power struggle. One motioned to the other with a nod of its head, and the second returned the gesture. The first slipped away letting its friend to keep up the struggle as it attempted to strike from behind.

I grinned sinisterly, forced the second back, then slashed out violently with my sword. The first demon was caught by my weapon, the blade gauging deep into its flesh. As it hung suspended by my blade, I cut away and smacked it down with my pike towards the earth below.

The second Demon managed to regain itself and flew forward, roaring out a curse at me. It was carless and with a swift movement, I parried its weapon away and cut through its torso. Before it lost focus and tumbled down to the ground, I grabbed it by the scruff of its neck and held it up.

“You are a pure-blood. Are you not?” I roared.

It coughed blood and sneered at me. “What filth are you to cause this warzone.”

“You should know me very well, Demon. I’m renowned for my efforts.”

It spat blood at me. “Filth! Half breed scum! How dare you…”

I focused my energy into my grasp and sent waves of pain through to the Demon. It roared out in agony, swiping with its gnarled hands to get free.

“There is a Demon. Strong enough to resurrect others. It commanded another to attack me earlier this week. Tell me who it is!”

I snarled and tried to pull out a dagger from its waist. My blade came down upon its hand, slicing it cleanly off.

“TELL ME!”

“I would never betray my own kind to filth like you.”

I’d grown tired of this. I let the demon go and brought my blade across its throat, severing off its head. My patients had grown thin. The demons below continued their infighting, screams and roars rising up between intervals of thunder and lighting,

My Demon was angered by the results. A strong desire to destroy welled up as the pitiful creatures below fought on. My resolve weakened and the urge to destroy began to overwhelm.

“NO!” I screamed out to myself, but no words could be uttered. My Demon was relishing in the conflict below, drawing on a satisfaction it hadn’t felt in a long time. “This is MY mind, damn it! NO!” I screamed to myself again. I’d pushed myself too hard today, and now my human side had lost control. I needed a way to regain myself as quickly s possible, or risk my demon taking me on an infernal rampage.

Suddenly my prayer was answered as another rift opened up. A large creature, almost luminance in reddish-yellow glow, edged out. Large ivory wings unfolded to reveal a slender, feminine form, wearing a bluish grey armour with a deep blue cloth linking the pieces of plating together. Long blonde hair flowed from under a silver helm with a golden wing-shaped crest. For a moment I was enchanted by its form. For a Demon it looked remarkably normal; even beautiful.

It’s eyes opened to reveal their bright, orangey colour as it gently withdrew a sword from its hilt and pointed it towards me.

Then it spoke in a soft, yet commanding tone. “Demon. You have proven yourself to be a danger to the balance of our two worlds. In the name of the Order of the Blade, I shall smite you.”

It’s blade pulsed and a disturbing ripple was felt through the park. All Demon’s below ceased their battle and looked up, then, horrified, began to turn tail.

I watched for a moment as the creatures scattered aimlessly tripping over and cutting down some of their own kind as they did. Then just as I looked back up at the woman who’d emerged, I found her appear right in front of me, her eyes gazing deeply into mine. I stumbled back, almost losing my focus and dropping like a stone.

My Demon took over again. “The Order of the Sword has no business here. Be gone from this place, or it will be you who is felled.”

The creature brought down her sword, my sword arm reacting just in time to parry it. I shifted away, ready to defend myself again. It was odd. Despite all the rage, the urge to kill, my inner demon was not in the least bit interested in killing this creature. But why? It was a Pure-Blood Demon, certainly. But there was something different. And what was this ‘Order of the Sword’?

My memory flashed back. Duran had spoken of a legion he was with before. The ‘Unholy Legion’. Were these rival faction from the Spirit realm?

The creature attacked again, slashing out with her eyes dead-locked onto my own. She seemed perfectly calm, as if this battle required no more effort than that to silence a mortal.

“Leave!” I bellowed out, my voice now able to penetrate my demon’s control. “I do not wish you harm.”

The creature stopped and shifted back for a moment. “Of course… I have heard the stories of you. The Slayer, sharing both the soul of a mortal and a demon.”

“Please, I have no quarry with you. I seek answers leading to that of the Unholy Legion.”

Now she seemed curious. She a slashed downward, my sword arm only just withstanding the force. “There is no such Legion to which you speak, Slayer.”

“There must be.” The creatures swiped out and knocked me off focus. I felt my weight shift as my energies failed and I dropped like a stone fifteen feet before regaining my poise. “A Demon. Duran U’ Malganis. Told me he was working for such a legion, so it must be real.

“Madness! You mortal’s are so fragile to facts. If there was such a group as you speak, then the Order would surely be aware.”

Then maybe they didn’t know, I thought. Whoever this creature was, she was defiantly not someone I could risk messing with. This battle had to be ended with the result of death.

My Demon bellowed out again, “You damn fools no nothing of what goes on underground. You’re failures to keep track of such things are what will be the Order’s downfall.”

The creature seemed pissed, and violently slashed out, the sheer force of her blows pushing me further down to the ground. “How dare you undermine the Order!” Her sword began to glow with a faint red aura and her eyes seemed to glow more deeply. “We who serve the Order are in perfect command of all that happens in our realm. None can defy us.”

It was useless trying to convince her. She was too full of herself to listen.

Then without warning, another rift opened.

* * *

            A great dark rift, like the one at first, opened up and a shockwave of dark energies rippled through. A massive pair of hands reached through and gripped the edges of the rift, then forced them open further as the large angular and skeletal looking head of a demon pushed through. It continued to force the rift open until its entire body was able to squeeze through.

It’s large, bulky form crashed to the ground as it forced itself through the rift before it closed behind. It stood up, cracking its neck and flexing its arms. It stood twice the size of myself in full form, and had enough body mass to hold me down.

It looked at me and the woman and sneered, two long, forked tongue whipping out across its bony lips. “Finally… My Master has granted me a feed… But two encounter a warrior from the Order of the Sword itself.” I licked its lips and gazed at us hungrily. “I shall not go hungry tonight.”         I charged forth at a remarkable speed for its size. With the woman no longer trying to fight me, I could focus my energies into a battle that required my attention. This creature mentioned a ‘Master’, like the ones before. Hopefully this Master and the one mentioned before were one in the same.

“Foul Demon spawn!” Cried the woman as she swiftly evaded blows with the same intent focus as she did with me.”

“Weakling. You’re no match for me. You don’t even wear the armour of a Paladin! Not even a Knight!”

“Do not let my garments fool you, Demon, I am power still!”

I charged off to fight the Demon. Whether or not the woman could best the creature or not didn’t matter. I wanted answers.

“Demon!” I roared, “who do you serve? Is it the Unholy Legion?”

It’s gaze briefly locked onto me. With a quick swipe it bashed back the woman and charged me. “Foul half-breed!”

My blade came up in time to block its large, gnarled hand as it tried to bash me back. My weapon didn’t even cut the flesh, despite that the demon was wearing little more than a regular garment for armour. It’s skin was either very thick, or just very strong. It brought its free hand around to swipe at me, forcing me to edge back and jump-retreat out of the way before it could collide.

Meanwhile, the woman attacked from behind, hoping to gain the edge in doing so. The creature didn’t even pay heed as her sword came down across its back. Through her attentive gaze I detected shock. She was fool-hardy to have thought she had enough power to fight back. If this Demon were to be felled, then it was going to be down to me.

“Speak, Demon! Do you, or do you not, serve the Unholy Legion!”

It sneered at me again and bared large, hooked teeth. “Half-Breed! What does it matter if I did or did not. Either way, your end is inevitable.

“Then you do serve them.”

“Who else to send off to finish you off better than one of its best Knights!”

I grinned, satisfied now that I was on the right track. “See, woman! The Unholy Legion exists! Your Order is no more insightful than a child.”

She seemed frustrated by my remark, but kept her focus on trying to wound the great Demon regardless.

“Half-Breed! My Master has warned you enough already, but still you intervene. It is my charge now, Groth, the Mighty Seventh Knight of the Unholy Legion, to finish you off before my Master becomes any more temperamental.”

I snarled at him as he charged forth and continued his attack, still ignoring the woman attacking from behind. I needed a strategy to win here before fatigue set in. Though it was possible to push myself further still, I’d remained manifest for far too long; plus the large scale battle that had raged on.

“Woman! We must work together!”

She ignored me, muttering only a curse under her breath as she continued her futile assault. The fate of this battle was down to me alone. No matter how much energy the woman put into her attack, she could not make any real dent in Groth.

Suddenly she shifted back and focused all her energy into a ball of pure white energy on her blade, then struck forth, hurling the ball towards the demon. Energy splashed over Groth, causing him to roar in what seemed more of annoyance than pain.

“Pathetic creature!” He shifted quickly, getting around her ability to dodge, then struck her cleanly across the back. She hurled down to the ground, unable to phase in time to protect herself. It was now or never. Physical assaults could do nothing, so I needed to focus all my energies to attacking him.

The woman struggled to get up off the ground as Groth lifted his two massive fists into the air, ready to bring them down. She lifted herself up, coughing blood as she did. She’d been badly injured from that blow. Though she was just as likely to attack me as Groth, she was not my enemy.

I charged forth, my own blade glowing a crimson red that wound around a faint white. Just before Groth’s fists could come down, I slashed through, blocking his fists. With energies focused through my weapon I cut a wound in his hands, almost slicing through one of his fingers in the process.

He launched back, roaring out in anger. The woman slowly edged herself back up, then attempted to slice my legs up from under me.

“Damn Demon’s!”

I jumped out of the way, keeping myself still between her and Groth, who had began to charge again, baring his teeth and preparing to launch another attack.

Maintaining my calm, I focused as much of my available energy into my blade. He launched his attack, his fist moving towards me with an amazing velocity. But I was still quicker, and ducked swiftly under his attack before bringing my weapon on an upward strike through his arm.

He roared in agony now, curing me in a demonic tongue. “You bastard! Fucking bastard! I’ll kill you! KILL YOU!”

He stumbled forward, launching another attack. Again I readied my weapon for a single strike. The second he was upon me, I launched myself past his own attack and brought my blade down upon his remaining arm.

He slopped to the ground, skidding to a halt.

As he struggled to get back up, I questioned him further.

“Tell me more. I demand to know about your Legion and your Master.”

Groth stopped groaning in pain and began to laugh. He rolled himself over and coughed up blood. “Fool. Do you really think that you can beat me so easily?”

He roared as sharp, whip like protrusions launched out from him. I brought my blade to bear, defending against a few, but more shot out, violently searching for their target as Groth continued to laugh. He roared out again, casting a shockwave of energy that cut through the air. More shot out, flying around to overwhelm me.

“DIE!” He roared at me as my senses kicked in time to notice a line of the tentacles striking from behind. I was surrounded and unable to evade without being hit.

Then a strong bolt of energy came down upon them, it’s pure energy tearing them to pieces. The Woman had regained herself and was helping force the onslaught back.

“Idiot! You would have yourself killed letting your guard down!”

I didn’t reply as we both struck back against Groth’s attack until he decided to retreat back.

He jumped back, retracting his protrusions. Laughing still menacingly. “I haven’t had this much fun for a while.”

“If we combine our energies together into one attack, we can defeat him.” Suggested the woman. “It may be the only way to beat him.”

Groth roared again at us as the parts where his arms had been removed popped and sizzled. Suddenly two new arms grew out.

“Right. I’ll follow your lead then.” I began to focus my energy into one attack, just as the woman did to hers. Our energies entangling around our proximity and directing themselves to our weapons.

Groth began  to focus his own might in an attempt to finish us off. He was the first to charge, quickly covering the short amount of ground between us in a few steps, then he launched his fist down to crush us both.

“NOW!” Roared the woman as she struck upwards slash. I followed suit, brining my weapon up almost in sync. A blazing trail of reddish orange and white energies followed our weapons and movements as our blades cut through the dimension between the two. Lightning struck nearby, lighting up the field as Groth roared out in agony. A searing pulse of energy cutting through and tearing him apart.

Our counterattack was finished and what was left of Groth fell to the ground. Despite the attack, most of his torso, upper thighs and head remained intact, and with Groth still alive.

He tried to laugh. “I am… invincible… weaklings.”

The woman took no chances and focused her energy into a killing blow. Stabbing her weapon downward into his head. Groth began to disintegrate and vanish in a pile of hot ashes and smoke.

The woman sheathed her blade and watched as the Demon disappeared completely, then, satisfied, she reopened her wings and lifted into the air.

“Wait!” I yelled out. “What will you do about this now?”

She stopped and looked back down at me. Searching for the right answer. “What business the Order undertakes is none of your business, Slayer. I believe you got all the answers you need for now. Stay out of our way and don’t cause any more trouble as you did today. Unless of course you want to bring more of the Order of the Sword’s warriors down upon you, and next time, you won’t be so lucky, I promise.” She then lifted into the air, a purplish rift opening up for her to vanish into.

As soon as the rift closed, my form began to shift back. With the little energy I had left, I launched myself up through the air in a single bound, heading back to the apartment. I’d lost track of the time during the battle, but despite the duration, I’d managed still to get back an hour before Sandra finished work. Just enough time to return to normal and relax.

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