Authors: Randall Morris
BY: RANDALL J. MORRIS
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are a product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2015 by Randall J. Morris
Cover image used with permission of the artist (Gabriela at http://chimicalstar.deviantart.com/)
Cover by Elizabeth Mackey Graphics
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in critical articles or book reviews.
Hunting nephilim with a pregnant Lilith was driving Leech insane. After their brief meeting with the three Archangels, they had split into three groups of two. Uriel had gone with Raphael, Shadow with Gabriel, and Leech with Lilith.
Leech sighed and walked back to Lilith’s tent.
“Do you still think I’m beautiful?”
“Seriously? I’m really fat.”
“You’re pregnant. That doesn’t mean you stopped being hot.”
Lilith grinned at him.
“Right answer. So I’m hot enough for you to do a favor for me?”
“Lily, we’re hunting nephilim… I don’t really have time to…”
“You lied to me! You don’t think I’m hot anymore!”
“What’s the favor? What are you craving this time?”
“I would like the soul of a human who was very good for most of their life and then turned evil in old age and went to Hell. That should deal with this craving.”
“Raven is already getting you a new hairbrush because the old one wasn’t good enough. So I guess I’ll send Gangrene?”
“Yes. Oh and I want my pony.”
“Keshi is in Hell. You can’t ride her when you’re pregnant.”
“I just want her up here.”
“Because you haven’t been paying enough attention to me and Keshi won’t leave me to hunt nephilim!”
Lilith started to cry. Leech approached to comfort her. When he was within range, she spun off her bed and kicked him hard in the stomach.
“Ow! Lily you need to stop being insane! I’ve stopped every time you said you wanted more time with me. I doubt we’re even on that nephilim’s trail anymore. I haven’t seen any evidence that he went this way for days.”
“Don’t blame me. Blame your daughter.”
Leech’s grinned widely and he kneeled in front of Lilith and put his hand on her belly.
“So it’s a girl?”
“Well I’m not sure. It could be your son. Either way, I’m not responsible for any of this.”
“I’ll send Gangrene. Anything else before I send him?”
“Nope. Send Gangrene and then don’t come back in here until you have all of my stuff!”
“So I’m not spending enough time with you… but I can’t come in here unless I have your stuff?”
“And in Lily-land… that doesn’t violate… oh… I dunno… logic and common sense.”
Lilith shrieked like a harpy, picked up a small mirror from her bedside table, and threw it at Leech. Leech barely made it out of the tent in time. Gangrene was grinning at him.
“You’re not gonna think it’s so funny when I tell you what she wants now.”
Gangrene’s grin vanished from his face.
“If I ever decide to impregnate Raven, I want you to remind me of this. Deal?”
“We’ll see if I let you live that long. Now get back down to Hell and bring back her horse and a human soul that was good for most of its life and then turned evil.”
Gangrene sighed and turned to leave.
“Oh and Gangrene… one more thing.”
“If I catch you smirking at my discomfort again, I will demote you to be an errand boy permanently.”
Gangrene turned and started back towards Hell, mumbling about how insane the daughters of Vixen were.
Leech cautiously made his way back into Lilith’s tent.
“Do you have my stuff?”
“No, but I have a gift for you.”
Lilith thought about throwing him out again but decided to hear him out. Leech pulled a soft, dark green blanket from behind his back. Lilith raised an eyebrow.
“What the hell is that?”
“Well it’s just…”
“Let me finish!”
Silence followed Leech’s outburst.
“It’s the blanket I was wrapped in as a baby. I was hoping that we could wrap our kid in it when it’s born. Boy. Girl. I don’t really care. I’m just glad we’re having one.”
Lilith’s eyes started to tear up.
“Oh I’m sorry, Leech. That’s a beautiful thought.”
She wiped her eyes and then laughed.
“I’ll bet you were a cute baby.”
“The absolute cutest.”
Leech tossed her the dark green blanket and Lilith ran it through her hands.
“It’s so soft. Call Gangrene back, Leech. I don’t need that other stuff. I just want you. That’s all I need. Oh and the hairbrush. Don’t call Raven back. Just Gangrene.”
“Done. I’ll call Gangrene back and then I’m coming back in here for you. You’re still really hot and we’re long overdue for some make out time.”
“Hurry back then.”
Leech left the tent and saw Gangrene leaning on his spear.
“So it worked?”
“It did. Where did you find a dark green blanket anyways?”
“It was draped over my horse under the saddle. Nicely played, General Leech.”
“You should be taking notes. It’s gonna be this bad when Raven has a baby. You need to be on top of your game.”
“Noted. Should I instruct the armies to keep searching for the nephilim?”
“No. We’re done for the night. We’ll start back up tomorrow.”
When Leech entered Lilith’s tent again, he saw that Raven had returned and was brushing her hair.
“I totally understand, Lily. That last hairbrush was unbearable. This one is much better.”
“It really is. Now get out. Leech is back.”
Raven looked slightly offended, slammed the brush down on the table next to Lilith’s bed, and stormed out.
“Did they find any new traces of the nephilim?”
“Nope. We still don’t even know who it is. There’s no need to worry about that right now though.”
Lilith grinned at him mischievously.
“You’re right. Come here, leechy face.”
Leech leaned in and kissed her. Lilith cried out.
“What is it? Is the baby coming? Raven, get in here! The baby is coming!”
Lilith grabbed Leech’s hand and shook her head.
“It’s not that.”
Raven entered the tent with an extra pillow and blankets, ready to play midwife.
“False alarm, Raven. You can leave.”
Raven threw the blankets on the ground and flipped them off. She turned and left.
“What was that then?”
“It’s one of the nephilim. I can sense it. I feel this sometimes when Shadow is around. There’s a nephilim stalking us.”
Lilith pointed outside her tent.
As Lilith was uncertain of the exact location, Leech teleported in the direction she had pointed. After a few minutes of running, he saw a creature kneeling in the sand on a beach as the waves crashed in around it. The creature wore a black, hooded robe. It stood and turned to face Leech.
“Leech of the underworld. Abandon the nephilim girl in your camp and I will spare the demon armies that travel with you.”
“Who the fuck are you to talk to me like that?”
The nephilim grinned.
“My name is Thanatos. My brother and I once saved the nephilim Lilith from death. It was only after we did so that our father revealed to us that she is our half-sister. We thought we were sent to aid Shadow.”
“There’s no way in hell you’re taking her with you.”
“Ah… but we’re not in Hell… are we?”
Leech pulled the guns from his belt and quickly fired off a shot from each. The bullets were swallowed by the sand where Thanatos had been standing.
“Where are you hiding, Thanatos? You’re only delaying the inevitable. I will slay you and you will fade into nothing more than a memory.”
Though Leech couldn’t see him, he could hear Thanatos’s response.
“Much talk. Talking will win you nothing. All the same, the woman goes with me to my father’s house. I go to take her now and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.”
Leech immediately teleported to Lilith’s tent and saw Thanatos standing over a sleeping Lilith. Leech grabbed his scythe and slashed it across the back of Thanatos. Thanatos did not bleed, but turned to face Leech and fell on his knees. His eyes started to glow white.
“My father has misled me once again. While I have brought thousands to their death, I could not see my own demise. I can see yours though, Leech. I was also sent here to deliver that message. If you continue to pursue the nephilim, one of them will strike you down. Your death is fast approaching. This is my final prediction.”
The robe of Thanatos fell to the earth, now devoid of its former occupant.
Shadow could sense they were closing in. He had hoped by now he would be close enough to read the mind of the demon he was pursuing but when he tried, he felt something else. Something was resisting and blocking his power. Something powerful didn’t want to give up information so easily. Shadow grinned. He was headed in the right direction.
“We’re getting closer. The demon went this way.”
Gabriel looked frustrated.
“The earth groans under the weight of chaos now running loose on its surface and we’re chasing a demon sorcerer? I thought you were taking us to a nephilim, Shadow.”
“This is more important than that. My uncle planted false memories in my mind. My mother’s memories are no different from mine. I need to know what he added… and what he took away. We have no information on how we’re going to defeat Abaddon.”
“We cut off his head, young demon. I’ve done it enough times to know. No demon continues to live on without a head.”
Sarah looked annoyed but tried to restrain her impatience.
“We’ve explained this to you, Grandfather. Abaddon is not a demon. He’s a nephilim. He’s Michael’s son.”
“The Archangels still don’t agree on that. When we asked for proof, Abaddon could not produce the ice powers of an Archangel’s offspring. There is no evidence that…”
Shadow lost his patience. He teleported in front of Gabriel and struck at his chest with an open palm. Gabriel caught Shadow’s hand by the wrist but Shadow’s hand still touched the Archangel’s breastplate. Shadow’s eyes turned white and frost began to creep from his fingertips onto Gabriel’s armor.
“Is that enough proof for you, old one?”
Gabriel’s eyes began to glow a fiery white. He shoved Shadow back.
“Strike at me again unprovoked and I will remove your limb.”
Shadow’s eyes shifted back to their natural red.
“I’m growing tired of your distrust, Gabriel. If you won’t believe me after I told you, after your granddaughter told you, and after I froze your armor then I will go after my father on my own. Don’t be surprised though when I enter the heavens afterwards and begin killing off…”
Sarah saw Gabriel’s hand reach for his sword. He had pulled it a couple of inches out of its sheath. She also noticed Shadow tightening his grip on Damnation, his dual-bladed scythe. She turned first to her grandfather.
“Grandpa, you are a being of light and reason. Ignoring the method, Shadow did give you evidence that nephilim exist. What demon do you know that could have spread frost on your armor?”
Gabriel’s expression softened.
“I guess you’re right, Sarah. That doesn’t excuse…”
“I’m getting to that.”
Sarah turned to Shadow.
“I know it’s difficult for us to trust each other. Angels and demons have never worked together before like this. I need you to keep your impulsiveness under control though. We’re here to help you.”
“I could have dealt with all of this on my own. I’m
the angels to play a role in…”
Gabriel gave Sarah a stern look but she ignored it.
“What… you would have formed that Legion abomination with Lilith and Leech? One powerful being cannot stop the onslaught of all the nephilim and the Dragon’s armies. You need more than one powerful ally. Also… what do you think Legion would be like if you have to share your mind with a pregnant Lilith? You really think that’s your best move?”
“Fine. I’ll play nice. I need the help for now. One thing I don’t need is attitude from the angel of ancient asshood over there. I’m sick of it. Like it or not, I’m Michael’s grandson and the angels wouldn’t treat
this way. Trust goes both ways. If I’m going to play nice, I need the two of you to trust me.”
“I already do.”
Sarah turned to her grandfather. Gabriel glared at Shadow.
“Angel of ancient asshood?”
Shadow met his gaze but couldn’t stop a smile from spreading across his face. Gabriel eventually smirked as well.
“I trust you more now that I know with certainty that you are a descendant of one of the archangels. I don’t know for sure that it’s Michael, but you definitely have the ice powers of one of the Seven. So there must be some good in you. We’re wasting time. Let’s find this demon. Lead on, Shadow.”
Shadow nodded, turned, and continued up the winding path they had been following up the mountain. He whistled loudly to signal to their armies to continue following at a distance.
As they walked the winding path up the mountains, woodcarvers crafted eagles, caribous, lions, and other small trinkets for their livelihood. They were oblivious to the nephilim and angels that moved quickly up the mountain path and the armies that followed. As they made it to the next switchback, a five-year-old made his way into his father’s workshop to see if he could help him. Sarah watched the encounter and smiled. She blessed the family as they continued up the mountain and then turned to Gabriel.
“Where are we anyways?”
“The mountains of Baguio. We’re in the Philippines. There are powerful demons in this country as well as powerful angels.”
“How do you know he’s here, Shadow?”
“It was a story my uncle told me a long time ago. There’s a demon named Bumalin that lives here. My uncle told me about how he would walk around this country erasing small memories when he was a minor demon. He made humans forget things… just small things. They couldn’t remember where they had left their money or what they were sent to the market to buy. It generally led to small fights. It wasn’t a very impressive amount of power but he kept practicing.
“Bumalin eventually became a middle demon. I don’t know which of the Six he reported to and I honestly don’t know that he cares to report to any of them anymore. No one from Hell knows much about him. Any time one of the Six would send a demon or two to bring Bumalin back with his horde of souls, the demons would return having forgotten why they were sent to earth in the first place.”
Gabriel gave the story some thought.
“Why would your uncle tell you these things if he had Bumalin take your memory?”
“He never thought I would figure out what he did. I imagine if he knew how powerful I would become he would have killed me when I was a child.”
Sarah put her hand on Shadow’s shoulder. He brushed it off and quickened his pace. Once they passed the woodcarvers, they started to see children playing outside in the dirt and mud. Their parents were inside, generally watching gameshows on tube TVs. An old man stepped outside to burn his garbage in a pit. There was no sign of a demon.
“He’s somewhere around here. I can feel it.”
Shadow used one of his powers and split off into several copies of himself. All of them explored the area. All he found was more humans. A teenage boy roasting a goat. A mother doing her laundry in a nearby stream. An old man in a tattered cloak holding out a tin cup. Several small children playing with a monkey.
Sarah cried out. Shadow merged the copies of himself back into one and ran to her. She was lying on her back with her eyes closed. Shadow lifted her head. She looked at his face and became horrified.
“Get away from me, demon!”
Sarah crawled backwards several paces until she ran into Gabriel’s legs. She tilted her head back and recognized her grandfather.
“Grandpa, it’s a demon! He must have attacked me! Kill him!”
Shadow grinned and gripped Damnation.
“You have permission now, ancient one. Do we fight to the death?”
“Stop messing around, Shadow. You know that Bumalin stole part of her memory. You’re right. He’s around here somewhere…”
Gabriel closed his eyes and focused. Without warning, he grabbed the old man in the tattered cloak and lifted him into the air. His tin cup fell to the ground. The hood of his cloak fell to his shoulders and exposed the demon’s face. The demon squirmed and placed its hand on Gabriel’s head.
“Unfortunately for you, that isn’t going to work on me, Bumalin. I am the Archangel Gabriel. Now let’s have a chat about what you did to my granddaughter…”