Chapter II: The Great Oppression
“What do you mean, Mr. Chaos?” asked Nissa. “And please, call me ‘Nissa.’”
Azrael gave her a hard look while she returned a bright smile. But before Azrael could get out his next question, they were interrupted.
“Holy shit!” exclaimed a voice from the stairwell. “Mephisto was a demon?!”
“‘Mephisto’ is a demonic name,” said Azrael matter-of-factly. He turned to the shocked man in the doorway.
“Always knew there was something fishy about him,” said the man, fidgeting with his nose and lip rings.
“I’m the Assistant Manager, Cromwell,” he said with a sweeping bow.
“Please, please. We don’t deserve that.”
“Like hell you don’t! It’s a bloodbath downstairs. Demon bodies, human bodies, blood here, blood there, that thing!” He indicated Mephisto with his finger. “Dead and headless, and my boss slaughtered. I am very grateful!”
“Fine, great, good; I’m glad,” said Azrael. “Does that appreciation have a monetary value?”
“Monetary? Well, I will see to it that you are compensated, but it may not be much. Aphrodite’s Heaven will never live down this controversy. It’ll be closed for good!”
“Well,” began Azrael, “as a start for that compensation, how about a free meal and drink?”
“Oh! Of course! As long as you don’t mind the gore.”
“There are worse things than having a drink in a demon corpse infested room. I’ll give you the name of a reputable exorcist to prevent possession later. C’mon, Nissa.”
Azrael and Nissa pushed past Cromwell and headed downstairs to where the bar brawl took place. It required stepping over a few horrendous sights, but once they were at the bar, things started looking up, except for maybe the smell. Azrael leaned as close as he could to either his food or Nissa so as not to smell the pungent scent of rotting demon. Demons’ physical bodies decomposed rather quickly since they weren’t of the physical world. As a result, Nissa couldn’t eat; the smell was too much for her. She had turned a pale green.
Azrael tried to lighten the mood. “So, how long have you been with your troupe?”
“What? Oh, um, I don’t dance with them,” she replied. “I only stood in for the job. I had never met them before tonight.”
“Hmm, that might explain why you were smiling and they weren’t. Plus, I thought you were better than them. You had sharper movements.”
“Thanks! But I was actually smiling because I was excited to meet you.”
“Meet me? What’s so special about me?”
“You said so yourself, you’re one of the best. And I am something of a fan.”
“I didn’t know demon slayers could have fans.”
“What about that Dante guy who is always on TV?” asked Nissa.
“He’s a fraud. He can’t really hold his own in a fight.”
“Have you met him?”
“No. I can tell just by looking at him. If he isn’t a fraud, then I have a theory he’s actually a demon himself.”
“Oh, okay.” Some of Nissa’s fairness returned as she got her mind off the smell. After a while, she spoke again, “Um, Azrael? I have a ticklish question for you,” she said a bit nervously. “Um, I don’t have anywhere to stay tonight, so could I… maybe, possibly… spend the night with you?”
Azrael put down his fork and cocked an eyebrow at her.
“I don’t mean it that way.”
“Oh. You want to bum a room,” said Azrael, finishing his meal.
“I’m fine with it so long as you know I only have one bed.”
“Meaning, I’m on the couch?”
“No, you can take the bed. I’ll take the couch.”
“You don’t have to do that!” said Nissa hurriedly. “I’m the one bumming a place to stay.”
“Well, I’m not taking the bed.”
“Then I guess it looks like we’ll be cuddling on the couch,” Nissa concluded.
“I have more than one couch,” said Azrael flatly.
“Oh,” said Nissa slightly embarrassed. “Pity,” she added jokingly. “I love it when a strong man holds me close to his heart.”
“And how often does that happen?” asked Azrael, draining his tankard.
“Um… well…” Nissa stalled. She scratched her head looking up and away.
“I’ll take it that it doesn’t happen often… if at all.”
“Yeah… if at all…”
“Well, what do you do that doesn’t offer much time to canoodle?” asked Azrael.
“I’m a demon slayer.”
“You?! You’re like seventeen and there’s no place to carry any weapons on those clothes.” Then Azrael quickly mumbled to himself, “Not that that’s stopped some slayers. Cana always fights nude when she can get away with it, and she fights with fisticuffs. Crazy bitch.”
“What was all that?” Nissa had caught all of it except for whom Azrael had called “crazy bitch.”
“Huh? Nothing! Never mind! You said you were a demon slayer?”
“Yes, I did,” said Nissa. She sat up straight and put her hands on her hips.
“How?” asked Azrael stupefied. “What’s so special about you?”
“I am Nissa Omen.”
“Are you not familiar with the Omens?” asked Nissa a bit crestfallen.
“Obviously not.” Azrael got up and led the way out.
“I’ve heard of the Chaos’s,” retorted Nissa.
“Anyone who has studied demon slaying knows about the Chaos family. We’re the oldest family in the business. We were the first and we’re purported to be the strongest.”
“Well, the Omens are old and strong, too. Wanna hear about them?”
“Sure.” Azrael wasn’t actually all that interested. He was just being polite and decided that he would humor her.
“Well, the Omen family originates back to the year 2427 AD. One day in a small village in a place that struggles to exist, the first Omen was born. She was born with the power to bewitch people. To manipulate and control others to do what she wanted them to.”
“Really? That’s interesting.”
Nissa turned. “Why?”
“Well, these days most demon slayers are created via baptism or some kind of spiritual and religious initiation. In the early days however, it was common for people to be chosen because there weren’t any demon slayers. Or at least, not that many. So, the fact that a person was chosen to be a demon slayer four hundred years later when such a method wasn’t in vogue, so to speak, is unusual.
“And, that’s a very unique power. Hyperion doesn’t interfere with free will, so why would He have blessed a demon slayer with that particular charism. What was so special about the first Omen? Why would Hyperion grant that kind of power to man? Or rather, woman. Wait, woman? Did you say ‘she?’” asked Azrael.
“That’s right. The Omen family has always been particularly feminine.”
“The Chaos family has always been particularly masculine. Doesn’t mean that there aren’t daughters of Chaos, but they’re uncommon.”
“Ditto for the Omen’s, except with males. Anyway,” continued Nissa, “she was labeled a witch and any time people walked around like mindless zombies, they considered it a bad omen. The village eventually hunted her down and drove her out. But after she made it to the neighboring village, she led a rebellion against the lord of the land using her powers against the lord’s men. Eventually, she became the new lord and established a more just rule.”
“And let me guess the next part,” interrupted Azrael, looking back at her in the lamp light. “She fell in love, got married, and mothered a family? Not necessarily in that order… of course.”
“Right! Well, kind of…” Azrael’s last remark confused her a little.
“So why are you called ‘Omen’ then? Omens are typically bad signs.”
“Well, she didn’t use her powers much after that, but her children used them often. Again, what happened in the first village happened in the second. She and her family were driven out. Soon, throughout the entire land, word had circulated about these witches who could control people and they were told about what signs, or omens, to watch out for. Pretty soon, anyone who could manipulate people into doing their will, even if done by just talking them into it, was considered one of those witches because that was one of those omens. Soon, people just started calling them Omens instead of witches.”
“Okay. But that doesn’t explain how a small obscure family with a mysterious power lasted five centuries.”
“Well, the first Omens went into hiding, and their children took spouses and had children. They lived by themselves in almost perfect isolation for two centuries mastering their new power. Around 2672 AD, a new terror gripped the land.”
“Demons?” asked Azrael.
“Demons,” confirmed Nissa. “Almost instantly, the Omens launched themselves into the conflict using their powers to aid the descendants of those who hated them killing the demons. The old stories about bad omens and witches slipped into legend and were eventually forgotten. The new Omens had won the people’s adoration and the family flourished.
“And! The really cool thing about my family is that each Omen uses their powers in whatever way they choose.”
“Yeah. So, how did the Chaos’s come to be?”
“Well…” began Azrael; he was so tired of this story. “Have you ever heard of the Great Oppression of Hell?”
“I thought that was just a fairytale.”
“If it was, there wouldn’t be any demons, and you and I would be out of a job. Anyway, twenty-first of December, 2012,” began Azrael, “there was a great deal of buzz about some ancient prophecy about the end of the world and that it would take place that day. Something about some ancient calendar ending on that day or something… I don’t remember entirely. It was pretty stupid. But, people being the imbeciles they always are, they started preparing for the end of the world. For some, this included living the dreams that were unlived, while for others, it was a reason to indulge in some perverse fantasies. And for religious nuts everywhere, it involved the repentance of sin, or lack thereof if you were on the other side.
“One of these moronic cults got the bright idea to summon demons into the physical world using a book supposedly written by King Solomon on how to control the nasty little beasts. Well, they do and as it turns out, the planet, for some strange reason, is perfectly aligned with the rest of the universe for some freaky stuff to happen. That opens a gateway from this side of existence into the next, and then all Hell broke loose. Literally!
“The planet became overrun with demons and they started to open more and more gateways allowing their buddies to flow into this world. Well, as fate would have it, a mysterious bunch of wise men that had gone into the Alps to be away from the evil of this world found favor with Hyperion.”
“Hyperion?” asked Nissa.
“God. Y’know, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Yahweh, the God ‘I Am,’ the God of Abraham and Isaac, Allah; all the same deity. I don’t know why they called Him ‘Hyperion,’ but they did.
“Anyway, they had found favor with the Lord, and he sent his messenger, y’know, ‘angel,’ to them and told them that the one above would give them the power and ability to train others to cleanse the world of the physical Hell that had just taken over. And that He would deliver unto them a man with no past who would become their first student. It’s all in the Neo-Testament, or the demon slayer handbook, if you prefer. Anyway, Hyperion blessed them and turned them into the Maleiorcum. We don’t know much about this very unique blessing though since the Maleiorcum keep it a secret.
“So, they pick this bum out of the snow after a storm one day and they start training him. This was my great patriarch, Drusus Chaos, but he wasn’t known as ‘Chaos’ just yet. First, he went off into the world with the Maleiorcum backing him up and started freeing the people from the demons. But anywhere he went, chaos would soon follow because demons would get word of a town that had been liberated and would crush those people in that town harder and harsher than ever before. Drusus would return and get rid of the chaos, but it would always return.
“Eventually he won the heart of my great matriarch, Ophelia, who would nurse him back to health whenever he got injured or was fatigued. They fell in love, got married, and started a family that would last for almost a thousand years. And they took the name ‘Chaos’ because that’s what they were known for.
“Luckily, more slayer families started popping up and looked for the Maleiorcum so as to be trained by God’s special demon slaying forces. The second and third families were the Grims and Diorazzos. The Grims are known as death lords due to their close association with the personification of Death, and the Diorazzo family can control the hottest fire in all of existence, Hyperion’s fire; something that was only thought to be controlled by the Seraphim and Cherubim.
“And eventually, the Order of the Maleiorcum absorbed and took control of the Catholic Church turning it into the Neo-Catholic Church. That’s it. More or less.”
“So, what happened to the Chaos family then?” asked Nissa. “Or rather, what will happen to them?”
“What do you mean?”
“You said that they would only last for a thousand years. It’s 2980. So, what will happen to you and your family?”
“Oh! I said it that way for this reason.” He grabbed onto Nissa’s shoulders, bent down, looked into her eyes and said, “I am the last Chaos.”
“I’m the last Chaos on Earth. If I don’t find a wife, that’s it. It’s over for my family.”
“Oh. How’d that happen?”
“Huh. Wanna know something weird?”
“Always.” Azrael walked up the porch to his shop which was also his home.
“I’m the last Omen,” said Nissa. “And for the same reason. We’re the same,” she said with a coy smile.
“Yeah, pity that,” he replied without any pity.
Nissa rolled her eyes. And under her breath, “Take a hint.”