Arthurian

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Death Song

"When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home." – Tecumseh


"You're hiding something from me," Lucifer said to Moses Ambrose Penn as the two minds slept in a sealed coffin. The seraph in front of Moses did not hide his true form. He presented himself as a six-winged angel with lizard scales and a full-body halo.

"You betray me even after I gave you this chance to sleep." Moses told him everything he knew. He didn't have a choice, what with his ability to probe the deepest reaches of his mind. Lucifer's eyes brightened. "Oh, I see." The Devil circled the wizard. "You don't know." The monster in his head gave him a golf clap.

"Clever." Lucifer smirked. "You erased your own memories of the hidden thing so that you would not know about it." Shifty eyes darted back and forth. "I suppose that means you erased their memories as well but Alex remembers, doesn't he?"

Moses' mind lit up with an answer. He does.

Moses didn't even know what that meant. "It means that you rushed an amnesia spell on yourself and you're starting to remember." Moses clenched his eyes shut. "You can fight the tide all you want but eventually you will remember."

Lucifer grinned a big toothy grin. "Besides, what could you possibly know that could bring down the Devil?" The Devil pressed his finger through his skullcap.

Moses screamed bloody murder. Lucifer pulled his index finger out of his head. Lucifer licked it clean and approached with his another finger ready for penetration.

"You're a monster," Moses said with evangelical certainty.

Lucifer rolled his eyes. "Yes and no." Lucifer grabbed Moses by the throat. "I'm a monster in the sense that I'm going to destroy everything you hold bear. I'm not a monster in the sense that I enjoy destruction." Moses hollered as the finger went in.

"I'm merely a farmer. The harvest had begun and I must reap the fields to make ready for the next growing season." Lucifer pulled the finger out again.

"Listen, you can't keep this up forever." Lucifer whispered in his ear. "I can." Lucifer reached into his chest. Moses stared as Lucifer showed him his still beating heart. "I know it hurts but I can end your pain. Just give in."

Lucifer tossed the heart back into Moses' chest cavity . Even in a dream, it hurt like Hell. "C'mon, I'm trying to reason with you, Moses." Lucifer stepped back. "Whatever little plan you and your brother have cooked up to kill me, it won't work."

Lucifer extended a hand as a floating jungle island in an infinite blue sky appeared. The tall blond-haired seraph stabbed the short red-haired seraph in the chest cavity with what looked like a sword made of stardust. The short redhead stared daggers at the tall blond. The carcass descended from the floating island.

"My brother killed me with a sword so powerful that it makes a Sword of Creation look like a rusty dagger. You're all dead; you just don't know it yet."

"You are wrong." Moses laughed. "You are the one who is dead and does not know it yet." Moses knew that they couldn't kill the Devil. That was just a title given to the Supreme Commander of the Infernal Armed Forces but they could kill Lucifer.


Valac had spent five weeks already away from his master. The Wallace family kept him fed but they didn't know the true nature of the Penn brothers' pet chicken.

Valac wanted to leave but, as usual, he had nowhere to go. Who would take in a demon who spent this long in the company of the white hats? Damn. Valac felt a presence. As a demon, he should have gotten more than a sense of someone nearby.

That could only mean one thing. Something of demonic power or greater had decided to drop in on him and his humble abode. "Hey, Gorgeous," a voice said.

Valac turned around to see a skinny Hispanic girl staring back at him. More importantly, he could see her real face, a golden visage like an angel. Nonetheless, Valac knew better than to mistake this creature from one of God's. "Aradia."

"Guilty as charged." Aradia circled him. "That must make you Valac." Aradia looked around for witnesses. "Believe it or not, we're on the same side." Valac tried his best to roll his eyes. Not an easy thing to do with chicken eyes. "Scout's honor."

Aradia started foraging for rocks. "It's an odd partnership but it's an odd set of circumstances too." Valac shook his head. Also a difficult maneuver for a chicken.

"I don't buy it." Valac walked up to Aradia. "We haven't seen you in a long time." Aradia smirked at his use of the word "we." "I mean I haven't seen you in a long time. If I didn't know any better, I'd say you ducked out on us."

Aradia didn't miss a beat. "I did duck out on you." Aradia sorted through the rocks in her hands. "Only so long that you can fight for shaved apes with nukes who hate you before you consider switching sides." Valac glared at her. "But I didn't because Lucy has gone off the deep end and humanity is the lesser of two evils."

Valac sighed. "So you've had a change of heart." Valac pecked at Aradia. "Why should I help you?" Why should he give a damn about all this madness anymore?

Aradia looked to Valac. "Anybody home?" Valac shook his chicken head.

"I went to Elijah Addams' house. You probably don't know him. He's gone; daughter's in foster care. My guess: he made a deal with Michael and now he's at Bible Camp." Aradia threw the rock through the backyard windows.

"I don't see anyway around it." Aradia returned from her home invasion. Whatever she had planned, Valac didn't want anything to do with it. "We must go back to Hell." Valac' tiny chicken eyes dilated. "It's the only way." Aradia began setting up an Infernus spell. "I can't go there automatically but you can."

Aradia chanted in Old Angelic. Graveyard dirt touched the sigil. "We can go together." Valac sniffed at the air. "Or we cannot go at all. Dealer's choice, Birdman."

Valac turned his back to her. "I don't know about you but I'm not some demon fairy princess you can shoot lightning out of my ass." Valac growled. "If the greater demons get a hold of me downstairs, they'll make me the belle of the infernal ball."

Valac made his experience in Hell sound unique. In truth, everyone who got knocked downstairs had to endure some awfulness during his/her time in the pits. Aradia's shoulders slouched. "Lucifer plans to merge the two dimensions." Valac shook his head. "He knows the spells and pretty soon he'll have the ingredients."

Valac knew this moment quite well. He saw it in the eyes of human beings right before they decided whether or not to make a deal with a devil. The time of dire choice. The moment of truth. Right or wrong, it was time for him to make a decision.

Valac had spent a long time as a chicken. Right idea but wrong bird. Valac had more in common with ostriches, flightless birds who hid from danger by burying their heads in the sand. Valac knew ostriches didn't do that but people often did.

"Alright," Valac finally relented. "I'm in."

Aradia placed a hand on his head, unbinding him from his familiar host body. Valac allowed himself to drift to the outer reaches of his domain. Then, he waited. He didn't have to wait long before the pull of Hell itself dragged him down into the pits.


Atop Tiamat, Alexander Julius Penn stared out across the expense of Hell. Dante described this accursed place as a world of fire and darkness. And, though Hell had those elements in spades, here and there, much more of Hell resembled things no scholar or poet had ever ventured to dream of.

Tiamat glided over a lake of acid. Though its burning waters ate away everything that lingered on its shore, a massive hybrid of shark and eel launched itself up at Tiamat. Apsu gripped the nameless beast and ripped it in two.

Hell beasts reminded Alex of Purgatory animals. That nameless abomination that Apsu bifurcated didn't attack out of malice. Malice required forethought. It attacked out of sheer instict. Honor didn't (and couldn't) exist for it.

In a way, Alex envied them. In the year he spent living on the Miskatonic Desert, Alex had done things that qualify as cowardly and dishonorable when viewed through the lens of civilization. He had lead nightly raids against sleeping villages and greedily slaughtered the women and the children of the ghouls.

As dragons, the two lovers could go anywhere in the universe and they had agreed to join him in a raid against Hell. Even fire-breathing sapient reptiles as big as whales couldn't always depend on their size and power to protect them.

Alex steadied his breath as he saw the profile of an old enemy against a nearby cliff. Alex signaled. Tiamat dropped him down in front of his enemy.

"Mordred," Alex said with gravel in his voice. "You and I have unfinished business." Apsu looked hungrily at Alex. "No," Alex replied. "He's mine."

Mordred sniffed at that remark. He obviously didn't like the implication that the slightest nod and Apsu could smash him into a fine paste. Alex didn't want to win like that. Mordred had a way of coming back. Again and again and again.

Alex would have to break his spirit once and for all. Before that, Alex tried one last thing. "I'm sorry it had to end this way." Alex sighed. "I'm willing to give you one last chance to just walk away." Mordred shook his head. "Like father, like son."

Mordred laughed. "We're nothing alike … Father." Mordred said that last word like a vile curse. "You abandoned my mother so you could rule on high surrounded by spineless sycophants and cuddle that whoring wife of yours."

Mordred spit on his face. "You make me sick." In a nod to Atticus Finch, Alex calmly wiped the spit from his face with a handkerchief.

"Poor Mordred," Alex chided. "Even when you have regained your eloquence, you're still more beast than man." Alex placed his hand upon the hilt of his sword.

"Ready?" Alex looked at the dull wet machete. "Perhaps, we can wait so you can arm yourself with a proper weapon." Mordred growled. "Fair enough."

Alex had cleared his conscience. If Mordred wanted to die like this, he did everything he could think of to stop him. Mordred screamed like a madman as he charged at Alex. "Damn." A patch of flesh got ripped from his right leg.

Mordred thrust his machete at him as Alex did his best not to occupy the same space as that butcher's blade a second time. Green ooze leaked from his wound.

"Poison," Alex realized aloud. Mordred nodded and smiled. Win or lose, Mordred had finished him off. Alex grinned. Nothing left to do except return the favor. Alex let a battle cry, desperately trying to mimic Mordred's ferocity.

"Die, die, die!" Mordred prepared to finish him with one last all-out attack. Alex brought Tizona down on Mordred's machete. Still on his feet but deader than dead, Mordred fell over into two piles as Alex limped away from this "victory."


In another lifetime, Aradia might have commanded these legions of imps alongside her father. Instead, she had every intention of turning them against their lord. Every instinct in her told her to take her place at her father's side and help him.

Meterbuchus, her brother, didn't see their father in his true form, a creature who hated everything and everyone, including his allies. Lucifer planned to destroy the universe. She had seen the fire in his eyes, the same fire that burned in the eyes of suicide bombers right before they exploded into fiery chunks of dead flesh.

First order of business, Aradia needed to free her brother and make him see the error of his devotion to that man. Aradia had abandoned Alicia Alvarado in the backyard of the Wallace residence. She didn't need her flesh down in Hell.

Valac had done the same to his chicken. The netherworld provided its own source of corporeality, the second fresh that all spiritual entities who descended into the fire came to possess. Wasting no words, Aradia sneaked up behind Eric Weiss.

The old mumbler of incantations strained to speak words of powers but merely gurgled on his own blood. Aradia ripped out his tongue with her teeth and spit it out onto the cave floor. The tongue would grow back. Sooner rather than later.

Still, it would buy them precious minutes. "Don't bother," Aradia said, wagging her finger at him. "You can't cast a lot of spells without a tongue."

A flash of light exploded from his body. A pair of nictitating membranes shielded her eyes. "And the ones you can have no power over me."

Aradia reached into his pocket. "My brother's in this coin, right?" Valac nodded. The chicken imp had told her about her brother's imprisonment. "Good." Together, the two started chanting. In mere seconds, Lord Belial emerged from the denarius, a handsome youth with cloven hooves dressed in a golden imperial robe.

"My Lord." Eric's tongue grew back and his slashed throat fastened itself up. "These traitors have returned. I implore you to follow your father's commandment and kill them where they stand." Eric's blood flowed down his cheeks in tiny rivers.

"Yes, it's true." Aradia circled her brother. "I did betray our father but look at how he has betrayed us." Lord Belial's eyes dilated to impossible widths. "He could have freed you from that coin but he chose to keep you imprisoned there instead."

A moment of dreaded silence passed as his surroundings finally registered with Lord Belial. "Don't listen to her." Eric got down on his knees. "I swear on my soul, she seeks to confound us, to sow the seeds of discord into our hearts and minds."

Eric tugged at his robe. "Please, Lord, smite this infidels for their blasphemy."

Lord Belial nodded. "Yes, it's true. They do blaspheme." Eric's eyes brightened. "But there's something you don't seem to understand; I like blasphemy." Lord Belial lifted Eric by his neck. "And they are not the ones I feel like smiting at the moment."

A crowd of demons harvested Eric Weiss the wizard for his organs. Lord Belial bowed to Aradia. "Now, if you'll excuse me, sister, I must have a talk with our father."


"Aaahh!" Abigail Kathleen Vennard screamed. Morgan le Fay stretched her out on a torture rack. Lucifer had held them back as long as he could (or cared to).

Then, he decided to feed Abby to his chief sorceress, King Arthur's half-sister, Morgan le Fay. Abby choked back the urge to scream again. Abby looked around.

Morgan could not wound her during her torture sessions. If she did, she would have to heal her up. Because she found the idea of healing her enemies repugnant in the extreme, Morgan resorted to every type of bloodless torture she could draw upon.

Morgan didn't even want information from her. A sorceress of the highest order, Morgan could extract such information through occult means.

No. Morgan tortured for the sake of torture. Morgan removed her from the rack and chained her to the wall next to a bowl of water and bread."Eat up!" Morgan held Abby's sword against her throat. "We wouldn't want you to starve, would we?"

Abby clawed her nails against her forehead. Possessing this so-called second flesh, Morgan didn't even flinch. Morgan wagged her finger at Abby. "Behave now."

Morgan left the cell. CLANK!

Abby heard a noise outside her cell. Beyond belief, the door to the cell swung open. "How did you get here?" Abby looked over her savior. "No, get away from me!"

One of Morgan's tricks again. Alexander couldn't have gotten here on his own.

"You're not Alex. No way!"

"I don't have time to explain …" The creature masquerading as Alexander Penn unsheathed his weapon. "Stand back." Alex brought the burning blade down upon her chains. "Let's get out of here." Abby took stock of "Alex."

A part of her wanted to keep disbelieving this illusion but too many details clashed. A villain trying to get at her would not leave so many gaps in his narrative.

Abby saw the wound in Alex's right leg. It didn't bleed, per se. It oozed a green fluorescent viscous goo. "Omigod, you're bleeding." Alex nodded. "You need a doctor."

"I'll manage." Alex leaned against the walls of dungeon. "Besides," Alex said as he dipped his hand into the wound, "I'm not sure a doctor can fix this."

Abby wondered if Alex knew about his brother's condition. Abby wondered if she had the guts to tell him. Alex cringed in agony. "In case, something happens …"

Alex struggled to catch his breath. "I want you to know that I love you." Alex sighed. "I love you." The weight of those three words hit her like hard rain.

Abby resisted the urge to slap him for three whole seconds. "Don't say that!" Abby screamed"People only say that when they're dying." Abby gripped the sides of his head. "And I'm not going to let you die." Her way of saying, "I love you too."

lex laughed, his chuckle cut short by a cry of pain. "I'm not saying this for you." That caught Abby off-guard. "I'm saying this for me. I have always hated the idea of love. The idea of caring for someone I might just end up losing anyways …"

Alex's feet gave out from under him. "I'm sorry for that."

Abby heard footsteps. "Don't worry about it." Abby grabbed Tizona. "I've got an idea." Abby still hadn't gotten payback for what Morgan had done to them back in Las Vegas a year ago. Abby wasted no time getting the upper hand on the sorceress.

As Morgan le Fay moved through the threshold, Abby slammed the door on her hand. Kladenets, the Sword of Creation, Water Element, fell out of her hand.

Abby picked it up and charged at her with both swords drawn. In the ensuing chaos, Abby managed to pin her against a wall, her neck caught in a scissor lock between two swords. "He lives, you live. He dies, you die. Simple as that."

"Go ahead; kill me."

Abby smiled. "I will." Abby pressed the blades against her neck until she bled. "But not today, bitch." Morgan growled at her. "Fix him up and you are off the hook."

Morgan laughed. "Even if I wanted to, I couldn't. It's beyond my power." Abby laughed. "Fine. Don't believe me but it's the truth." An incantation formed on her lips. The severed head of Morgan le Fay hit the floor. Abby led Alex down the hall.


Alexander Julius Penn soaked Tizona with a wet rag. Alex needed to face Lucifer alone. That made Lord Belial's presence inconvenient to say the least.

"I'm done with you, Father," Lord Belial explained to his brother Moses. Alex shook his head. He could not think of him as Moses anymore. Lucifer chose Moses as his host body for a reason. He believed that he wouldn't kill his own brother even if he knew how to. Alex could only hope to God that he did. "I challenge you to a duel."

Duels happened between civilized combatants. Even a liberal definition of the word "civilized" would not incorporate either Belial or Lucifer. In the blink of an eye, Lucifer ran his son through with Excalibur. "Satisfied?" Lucifer asked his son as he twisted the blade. "Happy now that you had a chance to stand up to the old man?"

Lord Belial simply gargled in reply and fell over dead. "No point in hiding from me, Alexander." Lucifer wiped the blood from Excalibur.

"'You and I have unfinished business.'" Lucifer laughed at his own jest. "A damn classy quote to start this fight on, if I do say so myself." Lucifer nodded knowingly. "Too bad you didn't let your double dragons fight your battles for you."

Moses had warned him about the telepathic abilities. Fortunately, Moses wizard had installed in Alex a psychic bunker big enough to hide one very valuable secret in. Alex emerged from behind the giant boulder, ready to use his one secret.

"Wow," Lucifer said as he looked at the wound in his side. "Mordred messed you up pretty bad." Alex limped down to meet the Devil. "Nasty wound you got there. Perhaps, you'd like a time-out so I could fix that up for you? Level the playing field?"

Alex shook his head, the exertion sent a stabbing pain into his neck. Lucifer broke down into full-bellied laughter. "You plan to kill me wounded and poisoned?" Lucifer wiped away a tear. "I forget how much you white knight types believe your own press."Alex's thoughts turned to his dragon friends. "They can't help you now."

Lucifer pulled the corners of Moses' lips into a wicked grin. "I knew Manisha would double-cross me. I knew she would let you live. I knew you would seek Tiamat and Apsu. I knew you would come here to challenge me. Like clockwork."

A smirk. "You white knight types always go for the melodrama." Lucifer extended a hand revealing an altar of questionable building material.

"I killed ten thousand virgins. But not for their blood." Lucifer snapped his fingers. "For their bones." The altar glowed as eldritch symbols appeared upon. "So I could build a proper altar for the final sacrifices." A look of absolute self-satisfaction filled his face. "So, go ahead. Summon your dragons and spare me the tedium of having to hunt them down myself." Lucifer clawed at the sides of his head.

"You and Moses have managed to keep a secret from me. An impressive yet futile gesture."Moses was fighting back. "I'm not a werewolf or a vampire. No silver bullets or wooden stakes. I'm a seraph, one of Father's truly deathless creations."

Alex charged at Lucifer. The old monster parried Tizona with contemptuous ease. "I grow weary of your attempts to save this miserable universe." Lucifer shot a bolt of lightning through Alex's heart. Alex grinned as the bolt passed through him.

I knew it. Tizona worked on electricity. It absorbed just enough of it to keep Lucifer from killing him. Still wet, the sword didn't seem to notice the extra voltage.

"Why?" Lucifer asked as shocked Alex again. "I could kill you with a thought." Alex's vision blurred. "There's no hope." Lucifer shocked Alex a third time. "None whatsoever." Lucifer circled Alex as his half-dead body still holding Tizona.

"I could give you all the kingdoms of the earth and a thousand years of paradise before I must destroy it all." A jeweled palace rose out of the ground. "Lay down your sword and I will give you all this and much more." Lucifer whispered in Alex's ear. "I know you're tried, Arthur." Lucifer shook his head. "I'm tired too."

Lucifer presented Excalibur to Alex hilt first. "Come at me with your best shot." Lucifer smiled. "If I live, you must allow me to return the blow in kind." The palace vanished. "Sound familiar?" The ballad of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

"I already have a sword." Alex prayed that this would work. "I'm sorry, brother." Alex plunged Tizona into Lucifer's heart. Even if this did work, his brother would still die. Lucifer didn't even flinch. A bellowing laughter erupted from Lucifer. "Is that it? Was that your glorious plan to kill the New Master of the Universe?"

Lucifer smirked. "I know about your girlfriend and how she killed me with a Sword of Creation in her first life." The wound oozed with the juice that Alex had applied to Tizona before the fight. "I have spent countless eons devouring the souls of the Dark Ones." The wound sealed before Alex's eyes. "No weapon can kill me now."

Lucifer placed Excalibur directly over Alex's heart. Alex pulled the bottle from his backpack and waved it in Lucifer's face. "How about poison?" Alex could spot the moment when Moses allowed Lucifer to see the thought they had hidden from him. A bottle of juice made from the apples of a certain tree given to them by a former angel.

The wound reappeared on his chest. Lucifer dropped Excalibur as he bled against a cave wall. Moses figured that Lucifer, the ultimate schemer, had upgraded since his last defeat. The unholy apple juice or a kill-anything sword alone wouldn't work against him. But, in combination, perhaps, with a little luck, it might …

"You think you're clever but I'm not done yet." Lucifer sizzled. "I'll drag your wizard's soul into the Outer Dark." Panic gripped Alex as Lucifer teleported away.


You're pathetic, Lucy had brought Moses Ambrose Penn to the northern rim of the Malebolge Trench, a pit that made the Grand Canyon look like a shallow grave.

Lucy hoped to intimidate Moses by standing at the edge of a chasm deeper than the Earth was deep. In the hope of kicking Moses out of his private thoughts, Lucifer had tried to break his faith in Alex by breaking Alex's resolve to fight back.

It didn't take. Even wounded, poisoned and electrocuted, Alex refused to give up. If anything, his brother's fortitude had inspired him when he felt like giving up and letting go. "I'm not dead yet," Lucifer said. Again, Lucifer meant to intimidate him but to how could he? His voice sounded like himself slowly bleeding out.

"I can feel it." Lucifer spread his face into an anguished grin. "The portal to the Outer Dark, opening inside of me." A drop in temperature followed. "Bye bye."

Drowning in darkness. Moses couldn't think of any other way to describe this sensation. Though the Sword of Creation demanded its due, it didn't have to take them both. Lucifer planned on shoving his ass down the rabbit hole to Super-Hell.

The absence of light penetrated his very essence as he struggled to breath. Had Lucifer endured this for thousands of years? This feeling of asphyxiation that the sweet mercy of death could not alleviate? Moses Penn almost left sorry for the old monster but not enough to take his place in that eternal void of darkness and agony.

Then, he heard it. That noise that neither light nor hope could distract him from. He heard the collective weeping of millions upon millions of lost souls.

The Qlippoth. Moses had seen them in Lucifer's thoughts. He loved them so much and Father allowed his older brother to kill them all. Even in death, the suffering of the Qlippoth lived on. Then, Moses heard the gnashing of teeth.

The Dark Ones, the degenerate spawn of the Qlippoth, clawed at him, rending his soul asunder. Moses regained control of his lips and larynx. "No, Lucy, I'm not going anywhere." Moses lifted his head. "Except out." Moses' soul unfastened itself.

Astral projection usually worked on the implication that the traveler had every intention of returning to his body after his journey. Not this time. Moses thought of his body as a sinking ship. He needed to get to a life raft. And he needed to make sure that Lucifer went down with the good ship. Moses looked back at himself.

Moses could see the black hole growing in his chest. Three pairs of ghostly wings unfurled from his dying body. Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness, would not go down without a fight. And, regardless of what happened next, someone would have to go through that black hole and spent half an eternity in the Outer Dark.

Moses dug his fingers into his own skull. Lucifer growled as he struggled against his grip. His hands felt like a platoon of fire ants had chewed their way into the bones beneath. Moses couldn't let go. The universe would pay for such a dire slip.

God help me, please! Thousands of years of subjective time passed before Lucifer's soul got dragged, inch by inch, into the portal in his chest cavity. In a final bid for freedom, Lucifer tossed himself into the trench. A spark of light like the flash off an atom bomb lit up the skies as Lucifer disappeared into the Outer Dark.

It's done. Moses felt a hand lift him up as he closed his eyes. Merlin had just saved the entire universe. Hopefully, God would have mercy on his half-demon soul.


Hadrian Galileo Wallace had carried a pencil in his pocket down here. Nothing special. Just a garden-variety No. 2 yellow wooden pencil. If not for that pencil, Haddy would have died in the area from exsanguination. "Suck on it, Dracula."

The vampire gladiator just laughed it off as the pencil jutted out of his chest. What did I do wrong? Haddy tried to fend off the bloodsucker with his bare hands. The vampire had disarmed him early on and tossed Fragarach into the stands.

Then, it dawned on him. The pencil hadn't pierced his heart yet. As the undead opponent closed the gap between them, Haddy delivered a donkey kick to his ribcage. The force drove the pencil into his heart. A spurt of blood erupted from him.

Raised on re-runs of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he expected the corpse to ash out. Instead, Hadrian watched in horror as the bleeding vampire crawled after him. Haddy grounded his boot into his head and then ran to the edge of the arena. The audience booed him. Haddy didn't care anymore about looking like a coward.

Hadrian didn't care about the so-called "good fight" anymore. He had seen and done enough horror to fill the nightmares of countless future incarnations.

Haddy just wanted it to end. The stands grew deathly quiet. Haddy knew this silence well enough. Down in the pits, this silence presaged the arrival of some nasty big-name demon lord making his rounds among the serfs. It was never a good sight.

I guess it'll never end. Fragarach landed back into the arena. Haddy grabbed his old friend and comrade-in-arms and prepared for another fight. Hadrian hadn't expected to see Alexander Penn again with Abigail Vennard helping him to walk.

Hadrian could have hugged them both but, if Alex had arrived, surely Lucifer would know about it. "What happened to Lucifer?" Haddy should have asked about the green stuff oozing out of Alex's leg first. Hell had a way of killing one's manners.

Still, if Lucifer still lived, they needed to deal with that first before they worried about getting Alex a doctor down here in the underworld. A deep haggard breath left Alex's mouth. "Lucifer's gone," Alex explained. "I killed him. He's dead."

Haddy blinked. He said it as if saying he had finished eating breakfast. Haddy didn't buy it. He knew Alex well enough to know that some awful crap must have gone down while Haddy had watched a vampire gladiator bleed out in front of a hundred of its fans. Hadrian realized they had lost someone. "Where's Moses?"

Indeed, if Alex needed patching up, who better than his own brother to do the job. Then, Haddy realized the horrible truth. When Alex confirmed his deduction, his words seemed more like an afterthought than anything else. "He didn't make it."

Of course. Lucifer had taken over Moses' body. Alex hadn't discovered a way of kicking him. Moses clawing away at the Devil from the inside had probably helped to turn the tide of battle and allow Alex to land the killing blow against the bastard.

Then, it happened. All the monsters in the stands got up and trampled each other as they squeezed through the exit doors. Some of these monsters never left. Now, all of them had departed. "That's not good," Haddy realized aloud as explosions erupted in the distance. Hadrian climbed out of the arena and looked out from the highest stand. "Holy God!" This was the sight nightmares were made of.

Nephilim, demons, efreets, minotaurs, hags, everything they had ever fought against, moving towards them in phalanxes that stretched out into infinity. Haddy gave them the good news. "Three of us against a million of them; It's just not fair."

"Yeah." Haddy returned Alex's smirk. "For them." Alex had killed the freaking Devil. Taking out an apocalyptic army? Piece of cake. Right? "I don't know about you but I'm sick of this place." Haddy raised his sword. "C'mon, guys. We're going home."


THE END

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