For three days, Ga'briyel, Sophyra, and Adama stayed at the inn, and Ga'briyel let himself relax. Sophyra helped with that since Luija wanted to talk with Adama every night. For several hours, the Sainika and his wife were alone in their room, and the morning of the fourth day, Ga'briyel sensed something from Sophyra and knew that they would add another family member in several moons. He kept that knowledge from her, though, not sure how she would react to another child so soon after Adama's birth. That fourth day was also when Sophyra confronted him in their room before Adama awakened.
"He needs fresh air, Ga'briyel! I want to take him outside today!" Her voice was low, but the finger in his chest told him she was serious. "And I am not talking about the stink of the stables that filters in when you deign to open the window!"
"No, Sophyra! I still do not know where the daemons are, and I cannot let you leave here! They know exactly where I am, and if they kill you, I will go insane!" Ga'briyel dropped to his knees, wrapped his arms around her waist, rested his head against her abdomen, and whispered, "Please, my heart, do not do this to me. Please stay in the inn, please."
She pushed him back, and her eyes flared brightly. "You cannot keep us prisoner here, Ga'briyel! I want to take Adama down to the docks to see the ships. I have never seen one, and neither has he."
Ga'briyel sat back on his heels and stared up at her. He could feel her anger and frustration pressing down on him, and he nodded. "All right, but I am going with you. Promise me you will stay close to me, Sophyra, please. I cannot lose either of you." He stood and grabbed her arms tightly. "Promise me!" She grimaced, and he released her as if she had burned him. "I am sorry, my heart," he said softly. "I did not mean to hurt you."
"I will heal, Ga'briyel, and I promise we will stay close. I have no desire to lose you either."
"You will not lose me, my heart. But there are things out there that can take you away from me forever. I cannot let that happen." He took her face in his hands and kissed her passionately. "I cannot lose you again without losing myself in the process!"
She kissed him back. "You will not lose either of us, my love. We will stay close, and you will protect us as you always have. And we will all pray to Yisu that nothing happens today." She sighed and sat on their bed. "You have heard nothing of where the daemons are? Luija has not been able to find them?"
Ga'briyel shook his head. "I know the names they are using, and that is all. One is the Chief Minister of this city, and the other two are merchants with shops down by the docks. Apparently they do not have many customers because they do not deal honestly with anyone." He chuckled without mirth. "They are daemons. What else should one expect of them?"
Sophyra drew him down onto the bed with her, and they lay there waiting for Adama to wake up. He did so about an hour later, and he smiled when he saw his parents, as he did every morning.
"Is it true, Baba? Are we going outside today?"
"It is, my son, but you must promise to stay close to me. No wandering off no matter what you see or hear. Do you understand me?"
"Of course, Baba, I understand. I promise I will stay with you."
"Then let us eat and go. I want to be back here within a few hours." Sophyra frowned and opened her mouth, but Ga'briyel held up one finger. "Do not argue with me about this, Sophyra! A few hours, and that is all! Plenty of time to go to the docks and see the ships."
"We will see the ships, Baba? I have always wanted to see them." Adama slipped out of bed and climbed into his parents' bed. He hugged his father tightly. "Thank you, Baba."
Ga'briyel hugged him back. "You are welcome, Adama, but we must hurry. Get dressed now, my son. We will eat first meal and then take a journey to the docks."
Adama grinned and slid out of their bed. He went to the chest of drawers and pulled out a white linen shirt, black breeches, and a red coat. He dressed himself quickly, and then looked at his parents expectantly. "Come, Baba," he said, excitement flowing from him and covering Ga'briyel, as he held out his tiny hand to his father.
With a smile, Ga'briyel stood, held out his hand to Sophyra, who took it and joined him, and then took his son's hand in his. They went to the main room where Luija already had first meal on the table. The Debaduta was standing by their table, a worried look on his face.
"Are you sure about this, Ga'briyel? It will be dangerous at the docks. Two of the daemons have shops there, after all."
"How did you know?" Sophyra asked him. Luija just looked at her, and she nodded. "Yisu told you, yes?"
"Of course He did, and I do not think this is a wise move to make, Sainika. The daemons will be waiting for you to bring your family out of the inn. I have a very bad feeling about this."
"Nevertheless, Luija, my wife is correct. My son needs fresh air, and I will be with them the entire time. They will never be far from me, and I will kill anyone or anything that tries to take them from me."
Luija just shook his head as Ga'briyel and his family sat down to eat. When they finished, Ga'briyel went back to their room and armed himself with every blade he had, not wanting to be caught off guard by anything or anyone. Then he came back to his family, picked up Adama, took Sophyra's right hand with his left, and walked out of the inn.
The day was beautiful. There was not a cloud in the sky, and the sun shone down on the Sainika and his family as if Yisu Himself were smiling down on them. They walked toward the docks, Ga'briyel's eyes scanning every street and alleyway they passed, but nothing seemed to be amiss. It was not until an hour later, when they could see the masts of the ships in the distance, that Ga'briyel felt the oiliness of a single Daitya cover him, and he stopped in the middle of the wooden walkway that lined the side of the street.
"Ga'briyel, what is it?" He could feel Sophyra's terror crushing him even as the oil slithered down his body.
"A Daitya, my heart. Only one by the feel, but that one can kill you." He shoved her up against the front of a fishmonger's shop and handed her Adama. "Stay close, Sophyra. Please!"
"Of course, Ga'briyel. Always."
He stepped out into the street and closed his eyes. The sensation was coming from in front of him, and it was not far. He opened his eyes, violet light blazing from them, and stared at the people around him. Most shied away from him when they saw the violet light, but one simply stared at him. The Daitya. He walked toward the man, and Sophyra kept up with him, staying close to the storefronts. She clutched Adama to herself, and stared at her husband with wide eyes that shone as brightly as his.
"Do not be afraid, Mama," the little boy said, reaching up and patting her cheek. "Baba will kill it easily."
"But there may be more than one, Adama. We are close to the docks. Perhaps the daemons are only letting your Baba feel this one." She looked around at the people who had frozen around the two opponents in the street. Carriages stopped, men and women on horseback stood still where they were, and the people who were walking had stopped moving as well. More than one gasped when Ga'briyel unsheathed his sword, and they saw the glowing white light that engulfed it.
"Come to me, Hellspawn, and die! You will all die before you lay one finger on my family!"
The Daitya grinned. "You think so, Sainika? Look behind you before you kill me, then." He gestured with his head over Ga'briyel's left shoulder.
"After!" Ga'briyel yelled as he swung his sword. The tip just grazed the Daitya, but the Hellspawn screamed nonetheless, and moments later was nothing but a pile of ash. The shriek that rose from the pile stunned the onlookers into silence, and in that silence, Ga'briyel heard Sophyra scream. He whipped around and his eyes blazed when he saw another Daitya behind his wife, its black blade held to her throat. "No!" he shouted even as he drew a dagger and threw it in between the Daitya's eyes. As it fell, the blade scraped Sophyra's neck, and she fell to the ground with a wail as the poison began to flow through her veins. Ga'briyel ran to her, swung his sword once, cutting off the Daitya's head, and gathered her into his arms. He did not notice that the body simply fell to the ground and stayed there, nor did he notice the red blood streaming out onto the ground from the severed neck.
"No, no, no, not again, please, Yisu! I cannot go through this again! Please!" Tears streamed down his face, and then he felt a tiny hand on his arm. He looked at it and realized it was his son's. He ignored the boy and clung to his wife, burying his face in her hair as he sobbed. "No, no, no, Yisu, please no!" He was breathing so heavily that he did not notice when Sophyra stopped screaming. She stopped breathing at the same time. It took several minutes before Ga'briyel realized this, and then he stood, picked up his wife, and carried her back to the inn, Adama clinging to his breeches leg the whole way. They were halfway back when his son called out to him.
"Help me, Baba! Do not let them take me, please!" The little hand that had been holding so tightly to his leg was wrenched away, and he stopped and gently placed Sophyra against a storefront. He looked to his right and saw a large man with dark skin holding his son over his shoulder. A rage filled the Sainika with a fire that consumed his very soul, and he snarled as he held his sword in front of him in a front guard position.
"You dare take my son from me? Which level of hell do you rule, son of Sayatan? What is your name!" He took one step closer to the man, who just grinned. "I am collecting names of Sayatan's son's I have killed, you see," Ga'briyel said with a return grin, but the daemon said nothing. "Well, then, I will give you a name. How about Tamsaya, ruler of the twentieth level of hell? That sounds good to me!" He swung his sword, but the daemon danced backward into the crowd, waggled the fingers of his free hand at the Sainika, and disappeared down the street.
"Baba! Help me, please!"
Ga'briyel glanced back at Sophyra, and then took off after the daemon. He caught up with it a few blocks away, slashed at its legs with his sword, and severed them both with one swing. The daemon crashed to the ground, dropping Adama, but the boy simply rolled to his feet without injury. The child ran to his father and moved behind him as the Sainika swung his sword again and again and again, hacking at the daemon until there was no piece bigger than a gold coin left. Even bones and horns had been reduced to rubble. The street was strewn with bloody pieces and the black blood of the daemon. When Ga'briyel stopped swinging, he scattered the tiny pieces with his foot, but stopped when his son stepped close to him and gripped his breeches leg again.
"Hold me, please, Baba," the little voice pleaded, and Ga'briyel reached down to pick up his son. Tiny arms came around his neck, and Adama buried his face in his father's shoulder. "Is Mama dead, Baba?"
"Yes, my son, and she is not coming back at first light." Ga'briyel sobbed and sank to the ground in the middle of the carnage he had caused. "She is not coming back, Adama! I have lost her again!" He cried for a long time, and only stood when he heard people moving about him, exclaiming at the slaughter that surrounded him. It took a long time before he was able to make out words.
"That was the Chief Minister! Why would he take that little boy?"
"That could not have been him! He would not do such a thing!"
"It was him! I know what the Chief Minister looks like! Besides, that blood is black, not red! He was not human"
Ga'briyel slowly sheathed his sword, his son in his arms. He walked back to Sophyra. Shifting Adama to one arm, he picked up his wife with the other, slinging her over his shoulder. He walked back to the inn, tears streaking the black blood that covered him from head to foot. When he reached it, he pushed the door open, staggered in, and put his son down next to the bar. Then he gently laid Sophyra on the bench at the table on which they had eaten every meal since arriving in Mahasa. Luija slammed the door to the kitchen open and stormed toward them. Ga'briyel simply dropped to his knees and rested his forehead on the bench next to his wife.
"She is dead, Luija. A Daitya killed her, which means she will not come back at first light!" Tears fell to the floor of the inn, mixing with the black blood and staining the wood.
The Debaduta stepped close, laid his hands on Sophyra's head, and closed his eyes. "Ga'briyel..." he began, but the Sainika rose to his feet, his eyes blazing.
"Baba..." Adama tried.
"Watch my son, Debaduta. I have two more daemons to kill!" Ga'briyel stormed to the door, slammed it open, and strode out into the still-beautiful day. He made his way down the street, completely ignoring the looks given him by the people he passed. He knew he was covered in black daemon blood and gore, but he did not care. He drew his sword as he stalked down the street, and everyone shied away from him. His eyes glowed brilliantly, and he could feel the Daitya and Azazil in the town. Perhaps it had just been the one daemon who was blocking his abilities, or perhaps the other two did not yet realize their brother was dead. Ga'briyel did not care one way or the other. He strode down the middle of the street, and no one approached him. He walked through the carnage he had left in the street, scattering several ravens as he did so. His right knuckles were white as he gripped his sword, and he drew a dagger with his left, holding it just as tightly. He snarled at anyone who dared to get close to him, and he felt the prickling that signaled Azazil in front of him. When two large men stepped from adjoining storefronts, however, he knew that he had found the other two daemons. He stopped and faced them.
"What was your brother's name, daemon? What level of hell did he rule?" Ga'briyel stood stiffly and stared at the daemons, hate filling his eyes until they blazed brighter than the sun. "Not that it matters that much. Once I kill you two, there will only be seventeen more of you to destroy. Come and die, sons of Sayatan!"
The two men smiled. "His name was Abbsaya, little Sainika," the one on the left said. "He ruled the nineteenth level of hell. My name is Dolsaya, ruler of the twentieth, and this is my brother, Kaysaya, ruler of the second. Abbsaya is dead, you say?"
"Dead and food for the ravens by now. It was not that hard to kill him, you know, and it will not be that hard to kill you, either. And then I will kill every Daitya and Azazil in this city before I scour the face of Duniya to find every Hellspawn and daemon out there! Come and die!"
The daemons grinned, pulled massive broadswords from scabbards at their hips, and walked toward Ga'briyel, separating from each other to flank the Sainika. The Anmah knew their blades could not hurt him, so he turned his back on one and faced the one who had done the talking. He barely felt it when the other slashed his back with his sword again and again, shredding his clothing until it was falling off his torso.
"Impossible!" he heard the daemon behind him say. "He is healing instantly, Dolsaya!"
"Benefits of being friends with a Debaduta, daemon!" Then Ga'briyel stopped talking, swung his sword, and began the deadliest dance known to man with the daemon in front of him. Dolsaya's eyes went wide, and he tried to flee, but Ga'briyel was too quick, and soon the daemon was backed up against his storefront. With a single swipe, Ga'briyel removed the daemon's head from his shoulders, and with several others, dismembered it. Then he turned to the daemon behind him and resumed the dance. It seemed as if it only took a few minutes before Kaysaya's head was rolling along the middle of the street, caught in a rut formed by hundreds of carriage wheels, but when Ga'briyel had hacked the third daemon to pieces, he realized that it was dark, his muscles ached, and he stank like rubbish that had been sitting in the summer sun for a moon. He looked around and was surprised to see several people standing on the wooden walkways watching him. Most had torches, and he walked to one, grabbed his torch, and applied it to the pieces on the ground, watching them carefully as they went up in flames, burning quickly to ash.
He was not surprised when an officer in red and white slowly stepped out into the street. "I do not know who you are, stranger, and I do not care. What I do care about is the fact that you have killed five of our citizens of Mahasa today, and I must ask you to come with me to answer some questions." The man did not touch Ga'briyel but only gestured to his left. Ga'briyel sighed, rolled his shoulders, wiped his sword on one of the pieces of shredded clothing that had fallen from him, and sheathed it. His eyes still blazed with the hate and grief that filled him, and he started walking in the direction the man indicated.
"What is your name, soldier?" he asked as the officer caught up to him and walked beside him.
"Captain Garoyana Panakari, stranger. What is yours?"
"Captain Ga'briyel Mistri el'Adama."
"Captain? Of what?"
"The palace guard of Torkeln." He turned his glowing eyes toward Captain Panakari and glowered at him. "And I did not kill five of your citizens, Captain. I killed three daemons and two Daitya."
"Daitya, Captain Mistri? Spirit servants of Sayatan? How do you know?"
Ga'briyel stopped walking and stared at the man. "Do you see what is covering me, Captain! What human has black blood? What human's blood comes out smelling like this? The first Daitya turned to ash! There were hundreds of witnesses to that! The second was holding my wife hostage! And your Chief Minister tried to kidnap my son!"
"I see the blood, Captain, but why did you have to slaughter them like that? Why did you not just kill them if they are what you say they are?" Captain Panakari started walking again, his hands clasped behind him, and Ga'briyel joined him.
"Because they would heal if I did not burn them or turn them into raven food. I have no desire to kill them a second time." Ga'briyel sighed, and his eyes dimmed slightly. "Do you know what a Sainika is, Captain?" he asked softly.
"No, what is it?"
"A Sainika is an Anmah who is called to be Yisu's champion, the only human on Duniya who can kill Hellspawn and daemons. I am Sainika, Captain Panakari, and it is my destiny to lose everyone I love to the evil I fight." He caught his breath as he choked down the sobs that threatened to escape him. "The second Daitya killed my wife today, Captain. She was Anmah, but Daitya can permanently kill Anmah, and she will not come back at first light. Each time I died--eighteen times now--I came back, but she will not." He lost the battle with his sobs, and his legs collapsed underneath him, dumping him to the ground. "She is not coming back! I have lost her again! And my unborn child!"
"Again? She has died before?"
"Of course she has! That is how one becomes Anmah! You have to die to be reborn, Captain! But she is gone this time! She is not coming back to me!"
Captain Panakari knelt next to Ga'briyel, making sure he kept from touching the Anmah. "What would you say if I told you the second man you killed did not turn to ash? He was not a Daitya, Captain Mistri. He was just a man."
Ga'briyel's head snapped up, and his eyes glowed with hope. "Not a Daitya?" Then he growled. "Not just a man, either. He was a follower of Sayatan! There is no other explanation for why he would kill my wife, Captain! No one but Hellspawn and Sayatan's followers know who I am or who my family is! Am I sorry I killed him? No! He killed my wife with a Daitya's blade, Captain!" Ga'briyel surged to his feet and looked back in the direction they had come from. "Wait. If he was not Daitya, then she will come back when the sun rises at first light. Please, Captain, let me go back to her and my son! Please!"
"I cannot, Captain Mistri. You must still answer for killing the man if not the others. It is only your word that he was a follower of Sayatan."
"No, it is not! Where is the body?"
"At the barracks. It was brought there when no one claimed it."
"Then I can prove he was one of Sayatan's followers. I just need to see the body."
Captain Panakari looked undecided, but finally he nodded. "I will take you to it, but you had better be able to prove it, Captain, or you will be thrown into prison for murder." He started walking, and Ga'briyel followed.
"Do not worry, I will before we even get there. The man will have a tattoo somewhere on his body of a raven inside of a hexagon. If he does not, I will go with you wherever you want to take me."
"What is this a symbol of, Captain?"
"Sayatan. I saw it first on a man from a village called Difeld several hundred leagues north of here in the Kadara Plains. It was also on an evil temple of Sayatan's. I will bet my freedom that this man has one, also."
They had reached the barracks, and Captain Panakari led the Sainika to where they had placed the body. Ga'briyel sighed with relief when he saw that the captain had told him the truth about the body not turning to ash. He moved straight to the dead man, stripped him of his clothing, and searched his body for the tattoo with no luck. Then he had an idea.
"This may seem strange, Captain, but may I shave his hair, please?"
"His hair, why?"
"Where better to hide a tattoo you wish no one to see?"
"Fine, but I will have a hard time telling his family why he has no hair." Captain Panakari walked from the room and returned with a straight razor. Ga'briyel took it and slowly removed the man's hair. He grinned after the tenth swipe when black lines appeared. He only shaved the area around the lines, and when he was finished, the same tattoo that Omusa had on his wrist was revealed.
"I told you, Captain," Ga'briyel said softly, and the other man stepped close to look.
"All right, Captain Mistri. I believe you, but there are several in town who will not. They think we should hang you immediately."
Ga'briyel glanced at him. "They do, do they? What would you say if I told you to do it. Satisfy them that I am dead, and put this matter to rest."
"You would die to satisfy them, Captain?"
"No, I will not die. I cannot die from choking or suffocation, or even from a broken neck anymore."
"Oh, we have no broken necks in Mahasa, Captain. You are slowly pulled up by your neck until you choke to death."
Ga'briyel just shrugged. "It does not matter. I cannot die that way anymore. I can fake it, however, and give the people what they want. I just want to be back at my inn before first light to see my wife when she opens her eyes again."
The other captain looked at him skeptically, but then he nodded. "Fine, we will do it now. I must confiscate your sword and tie your hands behind you, Ga'briyel Mistri."
The Sainika turned around and held his hands behind him. "Do as you must, Captain." He winced when the captain tied his hands tightly and removed his sword belt.
"Come with me, Captain," the other said with regret in his voice. "I truly hope you are right about this. I do not want you to die."
Ga'briyel just grinned as the other pulled on a cord, ringing a large bell at the top of a tower over and over. As it rang, hundreds of soldiers filed into the courtyard and stood at attention.
Captain Panakari stopped ringing the bell and stepped forward. "This is Captain Ga'briyel Mistri of the palace guard of Torkeln. He has confessed to killing Jerema Kalama earlier today. As you all know, the penalty for murder is to be hung for his crime." He turned to Ga'briyel. "Do you have anything to say, Captain Mistri?"
"No, nothing. Just get this over with," Ga'briyel said with a snarl.
Captain Panakari flung the free end of a noose over a bar that had obviously been used for this before, and several men stepped forward and grabbed it. The noose went around Ga'briyel's neck, and he fought down the grin that kept trying to make itself known. Then men tugged on the rope, slowly raising Ga'briyel off the ground, and he just kicked his legs and struggled as he assumed people being hung would do. The soldiers kept pulling until his feet were a pace from the dirt of the courtyard, and then they tied the rope to a metal loop screwed into the ground. Then all the soldiers watched as Ga'briyel put on the best act of his life. He held his breath until his face began to turn blue, and then he thrashed around a bit more before hanging limply in the noose, his eyes closed. A cheer rose up from the soldiers, and several ran out into the city to tell the people that the murderer was dead. The men who had pulled the rope untied it, lowering the presumed body to the dirt, and Captain Panakari stepped up to him, pressed his ear to Ga'briyel's chest, clearly heard the heart beating within, and then stood.
"He is dead!" he announced, and the soldiers carried him into the same room as his supposed victim and laid him on the floor. Captain Panakari followed them, shooed them out of the room, and shut the door. "You can get up now, Captain Mistri." Ga'briyel opened his eyes, took his sword belt from the other captain, and stretched with a smile before strapping it around his waist. "There is a back way out of this room, Captain, but you must make your way to your inn on your own. Try not to let anyone see you, or they will know I lied, and then I will find myself in the noose."
Ga'briyel held out his hand, and the other clasped his forearm firmly. "Thank you, Captain. I appreciate everything you have done for me tonight. Please know that everything I did was for the good of your people. They may not understand that, but it was. My family and I will be gone in the morning." He followed Captain Panakari to the door in the back of the room, and after it was unlocked, slipped out into the darkness of the city streets. The torches and lights lining the streets earlier were gone, and most of the buildings were dark. A few still had lights burning behind shutters or curtains, and Ga'briyel avoided these. He made his way through the darkened streets until he saw The Weeping Payara ahead of him. It was one of the few buildings that still blazed with light, and he slipped around to the back door. He knocked softly, and Luija opened it slowly.
"Ga'briyel! Where have you been? And where are your clothes?"
"I have been killing daemons, Luija. They are all dead."
"I have something to tell you about Sophyra, Ga'briyel," the Debaduta said as he shut the door behind the Anmah.
"I already know, my friend, but thank you. I know it was not a Daitya that killed her today, and that I will see her open her eyes at first light. We must leave shortly thereafter, however. I supposedly died tonight for killing a man."
"I was hung in front of the entire barracks. I did not die, Luija. I cannot die like that again. Luckily the captain there believed me when I showed him the man's tattoo, and he let me go."
"I know the tattoo, Ga'briyel. A raven in a hexagon, yes?"
Ga'briyel just nodded, and then he moved toward the main room. "Where is Sophyra?"
"I put her in your room. Adama is with her. He knows as well that his mama will open her eyes at first light. He is an amazing child, Sainika. He knows things he should not, and talks with Yisu often. Take care of him, please, Ga'briyel. He will change this world."
"I know all that. But now I must bathe, and you must burn my clothing. The blood of one daemon would not come out of it, and I do not think the blood of three will do so any easier."
Luija nodded and followed Ga'briyel to the bathing room. As Ga'briyel readied his bath, he heard the patter of little booted feet behind him, and he turned to his son with a smile. "Hello, my boy. Luija tells me you know about your mama."
"I do, Baba, but I am surprised you do. How did you find out?"
Ga'briyel stepped into the bath while Luija took his clothing in between two fingers, and carried it out of the room. "I learned it when I saw the body of the man who killed her, Adama. Daitya turn to ash when they are beheaded, and this man did not do so. That was when I knew he simply used a Daitya's blade to kill your mama, but he was not Daitya himself. She will come back to us, my son."
Adama nodded and watched as his father cleaned the black blood, dirt, and gore from his body. "I know something else about Mama," he said softly, and Ga'briyel smiled. "Something she does not know yet."
"If you mean that you are going to have a brother or sister, I know that as well, Adama. It will be many moons before your sibling is born, however, and I do not know where we will be then. Yisu has not yet told me where we are to go from here."
Adama just rested his chin on his tiny hands and stared at his father. "Will it always be like this, Baba? Will you and I always know things others do not?"
"Always, Adama, but it is not a bad thing. Yisu has given us abilities that will help save Duniya from Sayatan, and that is an awesome responsibility that we must take very seriously."
Adama smiled at his father. "I am very happy to hear you say that, Baba. I thought you did not have faith in Yisu like you once did." His smile faded when his father frowned.
"I do not, Adama, but I am getting there. When your mama opens her eyes at first light, that will help tremendously."
Ga'briyel stepped from the tub, wrapped a towel around his hips, and took his son's hand with a bright smile. "Come, let us go and wait for your mama to wake."