Major demons, p.2

Major Demons, page 2

 

Major Demons
 


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  CHAPTER 3

  Murmur entered Dagon’s tavern and was greeted by the demon cook. He was wiping his hands on a rag that was just as dirty as his hands were.

  “It’s been a while, Murmur. Here for a beer?”

  “I don’t have time for that right now, Dagon. I’m supposed to be meeting Nightmare and Astaroth. Can you point me in the right direction?”

  “VIP room upstairs. Let me know if you change your mind on the beer.”

  Murmur thought for a moment.

  “You know what? I do have time for a beer. Those assholes can wait another five minutes.”

  When Murmur finished his drink, he tossed a coin next to his mug and made his way upstairs to the VIP room. As he trudged up the stairs, he adjusted his shield Dragonscale on his back and made sure that his scythe could be quickly drawn from his belt. He didn’t trust either of the major demons that he was meeting with. Murmur entered the room and took a seat across from Nightmare and Astaroth. Astaroth slid a drink to Murmur from across the table. It looked like the beer from downstairs but slightly darker in color.

  “Have a drink.”

  Murmur slid the drink back.

  “I already had one downstairs.”

  Astaroth feigned insult.

  “What’s wrong? You don’t trust me?”

  “The snake queen who gets her way by poisoning anyone in her way? No. I don’t imagine I’ll ever accept a drink from you.”

  Murmur turned to Nightmare.

  “Why are we meeting? We have nothing to discuss.”

  “The three of us are running Hell without the Dragon present and we have nothing to discuss?”

  “No. You two run your departments and I’ll run mine. Three of the Six aren’t even here so there’s no reason for the three of us to meet.”

  “You’ve hit on exactly what we need to discuss. Shadow, Leech, and Lilith aren’t here. They went to Earth to deal with something that isn’t our problem. I think the three of us should take power while we have the opportunity.”

  Murmur laughed.

  “So you want to start that stupid fucking war all over again? The descendants of the Dragon against the other three? Wow. You really don’t learn lessons, do you?”

  “I could ask you the same question. Remember what happened the last time you fought me? The trials?”

  Murmur stood and grabbed Dragonscale and his scythe.

  “I’m ready for Round 2 whenever you are.”

  Nightmare gripped his scythe, Rage, and grinned back at Murmur. Astaroth stood and held up both hands.

  “Boys, that’s enough. We’re not here to fight.”

  Murmur responded without looking in her direction.

  “No. You’re just here to poison me, right?”

  “If I drink it myself, will you sit back down and talk to us?”

  Murmur nodded. Astaroth drained the mug in one gulp and slammed it down on the table. Murmur sat back down.

  “Do you need to be excused to go to the ladies’ room and vomit up the poison you just drank?”

  “I’m fine.”

  Nightmare stood and started pacing the room.

  “Let’s just think about the opportunity we have here. Shadow, Leech, and Lilith are going to return to Hell with severely weakened armies from fighting nephilim topside. That’s if they return at all. It’s natural self-interest to consider the possibilities. We could each become the ruler of an entire additional department. My proposal is this… I kill Shadow and take control of the department of murder. Astaroth kills Lilith and takes the department of lust. Murmur, you kill Leech and take control of idolatry. If any of those three don’t return, we divide the demons in their army equally.”

  Nightmare and Astaroth expected resistance, but Murmur asked an unexpected question.

  “And what about the Dragon?”

  “What about him? He doesn’t really care much what we do anymore. He’s up there with the other three trying to kill that horrid abomination, Abaddon. The entire Six have been killed and replaced in the past few months and the Dragon hasn’t given a damn. I doubt he cares if the Six become the Three. Even if he does, I’ve proven that he doesn’t always get his way. I marched into a camp of one of his armies and stole the berserker staff to fuse it with my scythe. He didn’t have the power to stop me.”

  Murmur scratched his chin, considering the possibilities. Astaroth seemed uneasy.

  “Not gonna lie, Murmur. I expected more resistance from you. I thought you were Shadow’s friend.”

  Murmur pointed at Nightmare.

  “Shadow had the opportunity to save me from being a pawn in that asshole’s army and he didn’t do anything. He just let me suffer. I had to take the major demon spot for myself and it would have taken a lot less time if I could have dedicated my time and energy to that end instead of wasting time in the department of lies. A shitty friend can be the same thing as an enemy when circumstances shift. Shadow has been a shitty friend and the circumstances have definitely shifted.”

  Nightmare was not convinced.

  “You expect us to believe you won’t run to Earth after this meeting and warn them? What reason do we have to believe that?”

  “I honestly don’t give a shit whether you believe it or not. My past actions evidence that I put my own self-interest above everything else and I only maintain friendships as long as they are mutually beneficial. Remember Tannin? He humiliated me in a fight. I put my revenge on hold because I needed him to climb the ranks. When he was no longer useful to me, I let him fight Belial and then I cleaned up the remains of that duel to take Dragonscale and my scythe. A few months ago, you might have accused me of being Tannin’s friend as well. Friends with power aren’t as useful as having power yourself. What reason do I have to think that you will be true to your word? You’re the head of the department of lies, after all. I’m sure you’ll attempt to kill us when the opportunity presents itself… or you’ll attempt to take whatever armies we take for yourself… or…”

  Nightmare laughed.

  “Making counteraccusations to deflect suspicion. Amusing. I’m not on trial here. You have to convince me. You’re the odd man out here, Murmur. Astaroth and I want the same things. You’re the one we don’t trust yet.”

  Astaroth nodded.

  “Actually, we have a way for you to prove that you’re dedicated to this. I’ll be right back.”

  Astaroth got up and left the room. Murmur shifted in his seat so he would have easy access to his shield and scythe. Astaroth returned to the room with a small demon that was bound and gagged. Murmur recognized the little demon. It was Muan, the commander of Shadow’s armies.

  “You want me to get him to talk?”

  Nightmare and Astaroth looked at each other and both laughed at the suggestion. Astaroth threw Muan on the table.

  “Nothing like that, Murmur. We just want you to kill him.”

  Surprise registered briefly on Murmur’s face but he quickly changed it back to a neutral expression and then the corners of his mouth arced up into a grin.

  “I see the game you’re playing. I’m supposed to kill Leech, but you want me to kill Muan before that which ensures Shadow comes after me. I’ll have to deal with two major demons and if they kill me, the two of you will kill a weakened Shadow and Leech. I just explained how I played a similar role in the deaths of Belial and Tannin. Were you not listening?”

  Nightmare shook his head.

  “Nope. You’re not talking your way out of this. We’re the only three that know that this little guy is here. You kill him to prove that we can trust you. I’ll spread the rumor that I did it. Shadow’s death is my responsibility.”

  Murmur considered accusing Nightmare of lying again, but didn’t see what good it would do. If he didn’t kill Muan, Nightmare and Astaroth were going to attack him. He didn’t have anything against Muan, but one of their lives was going to be forfeit. Murmur knew it had to be Muan’s. Murmur nodded and removed the scythe from his belt.

>   “One condition. You need to bring a messenger demon in here and start spreading the word that you killed Muan now. I’ll kill him after that.”

  “Not a problem.”

  Nightmare stomped his foot and the ground shook. A messenger demon from the department of lies ran into the room and bowed.

  “You summoned me, General Nightmare?”

  “Yes. You’re to spread the word to all of Hell that I’ve killed Muan and I’ve issued an open challenge to Shadow. Make sure it reaches everyone.”

  The messenger nodded and exited the room. Nightmare turned back to Murmur.

  “Well?”

  Murmur swung his scythe and buried it in Muan’s chest, pinning him to the table. The little demon screamed through his gag and finally settled into death.

  CHAPTER 4

  Raven asked what they were all thinking.

  “What do we do now?”

  Leech didn’t have an answer.

  “We can’t really move much with Lilith in the condition she’s in. The baby is going to come any day now. Since I killed Thanatos, we don’t really have any leads on any nephilim in the area either. I’m thinking we should stay here until after Lilith has the baby.”

  Gangrene kicked his feet up and placed them on a tree stump.

  “I’m fine with relaxing in the Caribbean. No argument here.”

  Raven rolled her eyes.

  “What about after she has the baby? Is it really our job to kill off the Dragon’s personal army and go after the nephilim? Why don’t we just go back to Hell?”

  “It’s pretty simple. We need human souls. We can’t keep receiving human souls if the nephilim kill the humans off. Earthquakes. Tornadoes. Hurricanes. The nephilim are messing with the elements. Deaths are only in the tens of thousands now but we can’t let them stay up here and do whatever they want.”

  “Shouldn’t this be the angels’ job? They’re the protectors of humanity.”

  “So you would put our food source in the hands of the angels?”

  Gangrene closed his eyes.

  “You guys need to relax. There’s no point in discussing this. I know what we’re going to do after Lilith has the baby.”

  Leech didn’t look optimistic.

  “And what’s that, Gangrene?”

  “Whatever the hell Lilith wants to do. It’s what we’ve been doing up here for weeks. Why mess with the plan? Just take the opportunity to relax now while she’s asleep.”

  Raven knocked his feet off the tree stump and sat in his lap. She stroked his cheek slowly and then slapped him across the face.

  “Ow!”

  “You don’t do what Lilith tells you to… you do what I tell you to.”

  “Right. I forgot. We have two psychos in our group. I follow one and Leech follows the other. I also have to follow Leech. Come to think of it… I’m starting to think I got the shit end of this deal.”

  Lilith cried out in her tent. Raven and Leech were there in seconds. Leech stuck his head back out briefly.

  “She’s going to be making a lot of noise. The baby is coming. I think it’s real this time… not like the other couple of times she just wanted attention and pretended the baby was coming.”

  “I’m not going in there.”

  “No… you’re going to make sure nothing comes in here while this is happening. Get our armies to form a circle around the tent but give us plenty of room. Don’t let anything within the circle. Understood?”

  Gangrene nodded and ran off to organize the armies.

  With Leech and Liliths’ armies surrounding the soon-to-be parents in their tent, Gangrene paced nervously inside the circle. The birth of their child was taking a long time and Lilith was being very loud. Gangrene had a gut feeling that they were being watched and couldn’t shake it, even from the center of two large armies of demons.

  “Lord Gangrene.”

  One of the messenger demons ran to Gangrene’s feet and bowed, gasping for air. Gangrene pulled the demon to his feet.

  “Catch your breath.”

  “There’s a nephilim outside our armies. He approached and demanded to speak with General Leech.”

  “His name?”

  “He wouldn’t say. He just demanded to speak to the General.”

  Gangrene opened a small sack on his belt. He removed some demon power rings and swapped them for rings on his fingers. Finally, he pulled his spear from its place on his back.

  “Take me to him.”

  The nephilim looked confused as the army parted and Gangrene approached.

  “I came here to speak with Leech.”

  “He’s busy with something. I’m in charge here. Who are you and what do you want?”

  “I’m here to speak with Leech and only Leech.”

  “Well you can tell me or I can have you killed. Your choice.”

  Gangrene raised his hand and a dozen archer demons trained their bows on the nephilim. He lowered his head slightly and grinned back at Gangrene.

  “My name is Scapegoat. I serve Azazel, the ruler of this world and commander of the nephilim. I’ve received word that Lilith’s nephilim baby is coming. I was sent to kill Leech and bring Lilith and her offspring to Azazel.”

  “My name is Gangrene. Lilith is having a baby right now. That’s why Leech can’t come out to see you. He’s with her. As for the rest of your story, this is as far as you go. If you attempt to go after Leech, I will kill you. After your heart stops beating, I’ll attach your limbs to four horses and have them run in opposite directions. Then I’ll remove your head and bring it as a gift to General Leech.”

  Scapegoat laughed.

  “It’s funny that you think you can do all of those things. You obviously don’t know who I am or the power of the nephilim commander that I serve…”

  Scapegoat drew his two swords.

  “…but I’d be happy to instruct you in such matters…”

  The demon archers looked at Gangrene but he waved them off. This was his fight. Scapegoat looked amused.

  “You’re going to fight me yourself? Big mistake. These blades were forged by Azazel, one in the forges of Hell and one in the forges of Heaven. There’s no way you can defeat me. You should command your armies to all attack me at once. At least that would be an interesting fight.”

  “Thanks for the narrative. I look forward to prying your swords from your cold, dead hands and adding them to my weapon collection.”

  Scapegoat swung at Gangrene with both blades. Gangrene attempted to block with his spear but the swords cut clean through, leaving him holding two small pieces of what had once been his favorite weapon. Scapegoat spun and came down with another strike. Gangrene caught one of his arms by the wrist and met the other blade with his spear point. It shattered. Scapegoat brought that hand up again to strike but Gangrene rolled backwards and backed up several paces. Scapegoat grinned at him.

  “I told you it was pointless to fight me alone. Either attack with the full force you command or take me to Leech.”

  Gangrene put up his fists. The ten demon rings of power glistened in the sunlight.

  “So be it. Every creature deserves to choose how they die.”

  Scapegoat swung his swords down at Gangrene’s head. Gangrene caught both of his arms this time and focused his energy into his hands. Slowly, Scapegoat’s arms began to sizzle and he let out a scream. He tried to pull his arms away but Gangrene held on. Finally, Scapegoat dropped one of the swords and Gangrene delivered a head-butt to the suffering creature’s nose. Scapegoat stumbled back and pinched his nose to stop the bleeding. Gangrene looked at the sword that had fallen in the sand of the beach.

  “The one forged in Hell. Fitting. It’s mine now. It’s what you get for breaking my spear.”

  Scapegoat spun his sword and adopted a defensive stance. Gangrene charged.

  “What is it?”

  Lilith sat up and waited for the answer. Raven wrapped the baby in the dark green blanket and then met Lilith’s gaze.

 
It’s a nephilim, stupid.”

  Leech took Lilith’s hand.

  “Stop being a bitch, Raven. It’s a girl.”

  Raven put a finger in front of the baby’s face. The baby clamped down with both hands and tried to pull Raven’s finger towards its mouth.

  “Oh she’s adorable! You know what the best name ever is for a baby girl? Raven. You guys should name her Raven.”

  “Not happening. You know… I think we should name her Gangrene.”

  Raven huffed.

  “That’s not funny, Leech. You can’t name a girl Gangrene.”

  “Gangrene’s parents did.”

  Leech grinned.

  “Very funny. Well obviously the two of you want to be alone.”

  “You caught on. I thought I was going to have to tell you to get the fuck out again.”

  Raven handed the baby to Leech, flipped off the new parents, and left the tent.

  “You don’t really want to name her Gangrene, do you?”

  “No. I was messing with Raven. What do you want to name her?”

  “Well we are in the Caribbean… in St. Lucia…”

  “You want to name her after a saint?”

  “Lucia means light in Italian. It’s a fitting name for a nephilim.”

  “You are such a nerd.”

  “Well Shadow will hate it. It’s pretty much the opposite of his name. So that’s bonus points…”

  “I like it. It sounds pretty… plus I like pissing Shadow off.”

  “Lucia it is then.”

  CHAPTER 5

  “Start talking. What did you do to her?”

  Gabriel tightened his grip on Bumalin’s throat.

  “It was just a defensive move. She’s confused. She’ll be fine in…”

  Bumalin struggled to breathe and Gabriel dropped him. He gasped for several seconds and then tried to run. Shadow cut him off.

  “Oh I see. Cain’s nephew. Well I can’t say this is unexpected.”

  Shadow pulled Damnation from his belt.

 
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