Chapter 42: Little investigation
Kerlvin’s head was throbbing. It took him several seconds to understand he was lying in the hallway outside Edgar’s room. The door lay partially on top of him. There were voices coming up the stairs. He couldn’t understand them at first; then the familiar voice of Alex was cut off by another voice. This one he had not heard in many years. This one he hated. An evil grin began to spread across the pointed red face. “Finally,” he hissed. The memory flooded back.
Edgar’s room darkened as the arch demon sunk slowly back through the portal. Kerlvin was still enjoying the squeaks Edgar made when he walked over the body. He was amused that Edgar thought he still had a body. The crack of light caught Kerlvin’s attention. The door stood open barely an inch. The demon approached and listened. A soft “psst” was coming through the opening. Curiosity got the better of him. Suppressing a grin, he moved to throw the door wide open. He could almost hear the crunch of bone and the cries of pain.
Kerlvin stumbled back! His own throat cried out in agony. A hand flew to his left horn; it was missing. Richard’s face appeared in the doorway. He held the horn, tapping gently on the tip. “These are very sharp.” Richard smiled. “So are those claws,” he mused. Anger boiled in the pit of the demon’s stomach.
How dare this mortal deprive him of his horn? Kerlvin crouched to spring. The man’s blood was already late to stain the walls. Claws scraped wood; wings caught the air in a flutter; the room rushed past. Kerlvin was on his back, lights exploding in his vision.
“Well, well. I guess it is true. You take a bit of a demon”—Richard casually examined the horn in his hand—“and you are safe from them. I wonder?” He pointed the horn at Kerlvin. “You will dance for me.”
Despite all his strength and will, the demon danced. Fighting at every step, he could not throw off the control. He was able to stop only when Richard said so. Next, he found himself flying in circles around the room. Every time he was released, Kerlvin tried to attack. After singing, walking backward, and cleaning the window with his tongue, Kerlvin did not make an attempt.
“Now, that is a good little demon,” Richard cooed at him. This earned him a snarl but not an attack. “I think you will stay in this house with my poor departed brother.” Richard’s laughing echoed in Kerlvin’s pointed ears for hours.
The door flew off, untouched by the demon. He was on his feet, flexing his four toes. The black claws began to grow sharp and lethal. His shoulders rolled as the broadened bones cracked in sequence up his neck, filling the air with gunfire-like popping. His three-foot frame swelled as strength and power began to return to his limbs. Kerlvin’s wings covered his shoulders like a cloak. A leather strap appeared across his chest. A sheath at his hip hung from the strap. He flexed his fingers while muttering a conjuring spell. With his eyes still closed from the concentration of the spell, his hand slid down to find the jewel-encrusted hilt of a short sword. A grin spread across the thin black lips. His long tail whipped the air with a crack. It sliced through the thick plaster like it was warm butter. “That fool brought it with him.” Kerlvin’s deep growl filled the hall. A blast of sulfur through a red cloud of smoke left the hall empty.
In the front room, the black cloud darkened and swirled. Electricity sparked through the bubbling mass illuminating the sharp-toothed grin and black eyes of Kerlvin, the fifth circle demon. He was a warrior of the legion of Baphomet. Lights in the room faded, drawn into the blackness of hatred, anger, and despair. In the foyer Alex could feel the change creeping in slowly. Behind Richard he could see the lights dimming. As discreetly as he could, he took a step back toward Chloe, reaching back for her hand. Richard was telling a story of an attack on a Korean village. Reveling in the bloodshed, he didn’t even notice what was happening around him.