Chapter I: Ballroom Blitz
It was dark—it had always been dark. For nearly a millennium, the sky had been perpetually bleak. A great evil had vexed the world and cast its shadow over the world trying to suffocate the light. But the light was fighting back through its champions. Champions like Azrael Chaos.
Azrael walked the streets of Innsbruck, Austria toward his next assignment in a dank but popular club. The streetlights were coming on, and all around him, people were wandering the streets so self-engrossed that they were completely oblivious to him.
Azrael was a young man, standing six and a half feet tall with reddish-grey eyes, and waist-length white hair. A unique appearance to say the least, but not so unusual for a demon slayer.
He was one of the best. Not only because he was a member of the Chaos family, the first as well as one of the strongest demon slaying families, but he had also been trained by the Maleiorcum, demon slayer extraordinaires; and by the strongest Maleiocur—Grand Master Alaric.
Azrael was dressed from neck-to-toe in black clothing with leather boots, gloves, and a duster. The really interesting thing about his jacket though, was that it bore the symbol of the Order of the Maleiorcum: a Gothic cross that almost resembled a sword emblazoned on his jacket’s upper arms. The motto of the Order, Nihil Sine Deo, arched above the cross. Arched below it was the phrase Daemonium Interfectorem.
And because every demon slayer was armed, Azrael carried a guitar in a vinyl case that he had customized to be equipped with a submachine gun, shotgun, and axe blade. He figured that he wouldn’t need his sword on this assignment.
This assignment was supposed to be an easy job. The manager of a club had discovered that one of his subordinates was a demon. Afraid of confronting the subordinate himself, the manager decided to hire Azrael. It was supposed to be a weaker demon and the pay wasn’t very good, but he needed food and grocers only accepted cash.
Azrael approached the inconspicuous entrance to the club. It was a small stairway leading up into a building with a purple awning arching over it with an orange neon sign above the awning reading “Aphrodite’s Heaven.” As he stepped over the threshold, the bouncer walked up to him to ask for ID, but because he carried an instrument he was freely admitted as performers were admitted regardless of age despite that Aphrodite’s Heaven served alcohol and could host some racy shows.
Azrael walked over to a table and took a chair facing the stage. A waitress clad in a fake vinyl corset and a vinyl skirt barely capable of covering her rear approached his table. Azrael ordered a shot glass and a bottle of scotch, and observed the club from behind his bangs. It was a dark place with lights shooting across the room in an array of colors. The club was roomy with wide open spaces and the occasional load-bearing pillar encircled by a spiral staircase leading to the second floor. People were dancing to some kind of abhorrent music, while others were at their tables talking, flirting, and creating foggy memories.
Azrael’s whiskey came, and he tipped the waitress. As he poured himself a shot, a voice came over the speakers largely distorted by the unnecessary high volume.
“Good evening, everyone. Tonight, Aphrodite’s Heaven is proud to present ‘Exotic Dances of the Dire East.’ So, grab a chair and please enjoy the show.”
Trouble was though that Azrael hadn’t heard the announcement with that much clarity, and after his shot, he had heard it worse. He peered into the shot glass with one eye, felt the inside of it with his finger, tasted it, and decided that the whiskey had been laced. He didn’t touch the rest.
The whiskey had made his mind foggy, so he leaned back and made sure he could remember the finer details of his assignment. He remembered that he would be working with someone else, a woman. Although he persisted that he wouldn’t need a partner, the manager insisted to ensure that the job would be done. He also made sure he could remember what the target looked like, and remembered how it was supposed to go down.
The act was supposed to be done in his partner’s room. She would use her sensuality to lure the target into a false sense of security and hopefully, he would reveal his true nature—demons loved stupid humans and women were their favorite sport. Azrael would then leap in and finish him. But now, his stomach was full of butterflies and he could feel his adrenaline rising. Something was off.
Azrael looked around. People were on edge, and he worried that he’d lose his pay to damages. He also began to wish he had brought his sword. Just then, Rock music mixed with creepy ambient sound effects started playing and the lights hit the stage.
Three women, belly dancers dancing in the gothic style, appeared, and Azrael noticed something strange. Two of the women looked blasé while the third, the middle girl, was smiling. It wasn’t a fake, showy smile either; she was genuinely happy about something. More than once she looked at Azrael and winked at him. What was her game?
Azrael tried to decipher the middle dancer’s intentions, but as the show went on though, he found himself staring intently at the girl. She had fair skin and was about five foot ten. She had raven hair in a long bob cut, and she was full-bodied, but still possessed perfect hourglass curves. She also had the bluest eyes Azrael had ever seen.
She wore a black outfit with a plain top that gave her the support that a buxom girl like her would need and left her beautiful stomach uncovered. She had a skirt that covered her both front and back, but was slit along the sides of her legs. Lastly, she wore a black choker on her neck with oval garnets in it.
Azrael thought she was absolutely gorgeous, and he couldn’t remove his gaze. Not just because he was attracted to her, but because another spell had bewitched him. He knew it wasn’t malevolent though. It contoured itself to his mind, body, and soul just like the most comfortable beds in the world. The spell’s aura was safe, warm, and loving.
He was so comfortable that it took a semi-violent shake from the waitress to snap him out of it. Azrael looked up at her disdainfully. But then she dropped a note onto his table. Written on the note were instructions from his employer saying to “follow the belly dancer with the black and red choker so as to take care of the problem.”
Azrael looked up to the girl who had lulled him into a waking dream. She looked right at him. He had never felt eye contact so tangible before. Then with an extremely subtle nod and point with her chin, Azrael turned his head around slowly in the direction she pointed. There was the target; tall, skinny, and snide-looking. Azrael brushed his calf against the guitar case for reassurance’s sake.
The show then reached its climax with a heavy, quick drum solo and shifting pelvises. Azrael reached for the guitar case when the music died, but stalled when he heard a heavy clapping. The belly dancers, who were bowing to the crowd, looked up as everyone looked around to the target who was approaching the stage, clapping loudly.
Something was definitely off. There was electricity in the air prompting Azrael to grab the handles on his guitar case. Something was about to go down and Azrael prayed that Rock God!, his weaponized guitar would keep him on top.
As the target approached the stage, he said, “What a beautiful performance. All due thanks to our gracious host.” The target turned to the manager who sat on the second floor and a yellow spotlight shone on him.
The mark then walked on stage and wrapped one arm around Azrael’s partner, making her appear very tense. And then a chill shot through Azrael. The room was crawling with demons, and the head honcho was onstage. They were still oblivious to Azrael’s presence though; he had learned how to subdue his aura very well.
“But alas,” continued the target, “this pretty little head will never be seen again.”
Azrael sensed the threat and rose. He kicked his chair out behind him, threw the case up with one hand, caught the bottom with his other, unzipped it at a speed almost inhuman, tipped it slightly so the guitar fell into his hand, and he threw the case away. Finally he performed a complicated but well rehearsed movement with the whammy bar, and two gun barrels slid out from the headstock. He aimed at the mark’s head. “Let her go!”
“Azrael Chaos!” exclaimed the target. “Didn’t expect you here.”
“Yeah, I’m full of surprises.” Azrael was aware that the circle of demons around him was closing-in in some spots, faltering in others, and some were in full retreat.
“We have you surrounded.”
“None of you are a real challenge,” said Azrael, his aim unwavering. “None of them are above the basic Angel. And you’re barely a Principality yourself.”
“Cocky. But I wonder, is this girl really worth so much to you that you would risk open combat with so many ‘innocents’ around?”
“A human’s worth is always greater than a demon’s.”
“Ah! So, you don’t know her true worth.”
Azrael shrugged. “C’est la vie.”
He rapidly picked the first three strings on the guitar spraying machine gun rounds at the stage. The target grabbed the dancer and jumped off the stage with demonic prowess. Thankfully, Azrael had made sure that none of his fire had endangered the other performers. Despite that, the next instant was pandemonium. People were fleeing for their lives and more than a dozen demons were leaping toward Azrael.
Azrael plucked the fifth string of the guitar, pumped the shotgun by sliding his hand from the seventh fret up to the twelfth, aimed at seemingly nothing but darkness to the left of his head, and plucked the sixth string. A deafening blast came from the end of the guitar along with the death moan of a deterred demon.
He pumped the shotgun and aimed at darkness again. This time, a splatter of guts accompanied the blast and death wail. Azrael continued to shoot seemingly blind into the darkness all the while working his way toward the stage to spot the target who had leapt up to the second floor to deal with the manager.
Azrael tried one of the spiral staircases, but people of all kinds were running franticly down it and screaming. Azrael jumped from where he was onto the stage, which was about ten feet away and chest high. He then repelled off the wall and staircase to get up to the second floor. He landed over the railing gracefully enough to allow a small turn back to blast a demon who had tried to follow him.
After Azrael fought his way through a massive crowd, and at least two more demons, he found his employer lying on the floor in a puddle of blood. He was certainly dead. Luckily, the target had stepped in the blood and left a trail.
Azrael followed the tracks to a door leading to an emergency staircase where he followed the tracks upward. At the roof, he kicked the door open so hard that it broke at its hinges. There, standing near the edge of the building, was the target with one of his arms transformed into a demonic claw with one of the talons across the dancer’s neck. Azrael raised the guitar to the sky, and crossed the roof casually, digging in his pocket for more shells.
“You are a brash one, Azrael Chaos,” said the target in a resonating, demonic voice.
“I am supposed to be one of the best,” replied Azrael, shoving the shells into the guitar’s body. He then finger slid up the neck.
“That’s what I heard, but I never heard you were so careless.”
“What do you mean?” He was genuinely interested but asked in such a way as to mock the mark.
“Discharging your weapon in full view of the public, allowing your employer to be slain; you need to go back to school.”
“First off,” started Azrael, “I’m a demon slayer. All discharges are necessary. Secondly, requiescat in pace, and thirdly…well, I hope I still get paid.”
“‘Rest in peace?’ Is that all you can say for your dire failure to protect an ‘innocent?’”
“Unfortunately. But he’s with Hyperion now.
“As you will soon be.” The demon pointed his claw at Azrael.
Azrael leveled his guitar at the demon.
“After such failure, you would dare to fi—umph!”
The belly dancer had taken the opportunity to back kick the target in the crotch with her heel. As he let her go, she bent him forward and slammed her hip into his face. She then dashed to Azrael’s side who plucked the fourth string on the guitar switching modes and started spraying machine gun fire into the demon’s head and chest. Once the girl had cleared the firing range, Azrael switched back to the shotgun and let the blasts echo as he advanced.
When the demon stopped thrashing, Azrael stopped firing, but he didn’t lower his guitar. He feinted a turn away, but then pressed down the volume dial and flipped the guitar around to hold the neck as an axe blade slid from the body of the guitar. He spun back around, and smashed it into the chest of the rising demon. This time, the target fell to the ground convincingly.
Azrael dusted off his gloves and walked over to the girl. “I hope we still get paid for this.”
“Me, too,” said the girl with a sweet smile. “My name is Nissa Omen, by the way.”
“Pleasure,” replied Azrael unenthused. “You know my name, right?”
“Well… yes. But I would prefer a proper introduction,” she gently prodded.
Azrael groaned. “I am Azrael Chaos.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Azrael Chaos,” replied Nissa. She smiled and looked up into his eyes.
“Lust is… blind,” came a voice from behind them.
Azrael turned around to see the demon, or rather, what was left of him, get up from the ground. The axe stuck out from his chest and didn’t hinder him from walking. “This… isn’t… over,” said the demon between rattling breaths. “I can still move… and I still need to finish my… mission.”
Azrael turned back to Nissa and in a bored tone said, “Do you mind if I waste him right now?”
“Knock yourself out.”
Azrael turned back to the demon, opened his hand casually, and waited a few seconds. Eventually, a huge sword came flying through the air and crashed into the roof of the building. It was a true greatsword: six feet long with a blade that was almost five feet long and six inches wide with the hilt measuring a little longer than a foot. The last foot of the blade ended in two very sharp tines. The pommel was a six-sided diamond and the crossguard had the shape of the Chaos Angel, an intricate, but ambiguous figure that looked to be made mostly of wings. Only Chaos Blades, swords belonging to the Chaos family, held this telltale distinction.
Azrael closed his hand around the grip and lifted it up easily despite its immense size. He walked within striking distance of the demon, lifted the gigantic sword over his head, and brought it crashing down. But it hadn’t met its mark.
The demon used the last of its energy to run around Azrael, pulled out the guitar, and made a grab for Nissa. But it missed as Nissa bent over backwards into a flip and kicked the demon in the head with her bare foot. It smashed his head against a chimney, and spent a few seconds righting itself.
When it realigned its remaining eye with Nissa, she started shaking her hips and it was stopped in its tracks. Azrael stopped to look at the spectacle before him. The demon looked both comforted and in pain. She had paralyzed him with the sensuous movements of her dancing. He would have continued to analyze what he was seeing, but Nissa looked at him. “What are you waiting for?”
Azrael snapped to and brought his sword into both his hands and charged forward. He cut across, back diagonally, launched the demon up with a mighty kick, skewered it, and then jumped into the air catapulting him downward into the roof breaking the concrete into chunks. He then finished it off with a stab down into the spinal cord severing the head off. As the head popped up, a strange force smashed it into dust in midair. Azrael turned to Nissa who had her hip jutting out.
Azrael wiped his sword down with a white cloth, smoke curling up from where the rag met the demon blood, before placing it on his back and walking over to Nissa. When he got to her, she innocently stared up into his eyes as he said, “Miss Omen, you have some explaining to do.”
 Pronounced Mal-a-yor-cum
 Latin: Nothing without God
 Lat: Demon Slayer