Chapter 43: Uneasy partnership
“Hello, old friend.” Kerlvin smiled. Edgar spun to face the short demon that had tormented him for years until he got bored. Edgar’s fingers traced his cheek as he remembered all the times Kerlvin had shredded it. He could still feel the agony of claws ripping his chest, of the broken ribs from the hopping up and down, claws scratching and ripping with each jump.
Kerlvin had to use those jumping skills as solid black columns of smoke shot toward him. They smashed into the walls as Kerlvin leaped this way and that. He spun in the air, tail flipping. Wings spread, he flew circles over the swirling mass. Changing course, avoiding more lethal spikes, he barely escaped the onslaught. “Relax. I just want to talk,” he called. His pause almost cost him his other horn. A blast of electricity singed his cheek. His face distorted in anger. Fire blasted from his hand, parting the smoke on the floor. He caught a glimpse of Edgar before the storm swelled back over him.
“Listen to me!” Kerlvin roared. “Let’s kill Richard!” The reply was another onslaught of spikes. Frustration grew as Kerlvin had to continually dodge and weave around the room. Several more failed attempts to strike up a conversation found the creature sitting on the ceiling light. Rage coming out in smoky snorts, a grimace on his face, Kerlvin had had enough. A flash of steel and gold followed by the threshing of wings, he dove into the cloud. The blade struck and clanged against spikes and gauntlets of swirling hate, covering Edgar’s arms.
“Would…you…calm…down…and listen!” Kerlvin shouted over the cacophony.
“Why should I?” Edgar demanded. “You tortured me!” he lashed out. “I have lived with this guilt!” He ducked a slash from Kerlvin. “You and Richard cursed me to this house.” The blade held between two spikes.
“Your bastard brother cursed me to stay here with you.” Kerlvin gritted. “I was here to collect your”—dislodging the sword, he parried, spun, holding the blade to Edgar’s throat—“retched soul, not be your babysitter.”
Edgar’s eyes dared him to do it. “Go on then. Kill me…again.” He lifted his head to allow an easier kill. “I never wanted to be here in the first place.”
“Your soul is damned and mine.” Kerlvin lowered his blade. “I would rather have your brother’s.”
Edgar took in the lowered weapon and the look on the demon’s face. “Do you have a place for him?” he asked. “I know I am going to hell, but is his worse than mine?”
Laughing, Kerlvin threw an arm around Edgar’s shoulder. “His pit is lower and full of more torment than you can possibly imagine.” He was smiling. “Every death he caused will be dealt back on him. Each death will last centuries. He will feel each lung full of water, every bullet shattering bone, every crushed organ exploding inside the body. Every second will be drawn out and exquisite.” Kerlvin was leading Edgar to the French doors. “In fact, I think we may be able to have you assist in punishment.”
Edgar shuffled off the demon’s arm. “What do you mean?”
Holding Edgar at arm’s length, his wings flapping, causing him to move up and down but never breaking eye contact. “You are a being of hatred, anger, and despair.” He smiled. “You have everything needed to join us.”
“What? Become a demon?”
“Better to be a tormentor than a tormented.” Kerlvin shrugged. “Think about it. For now, let’s go kill your brother.”
“I will. Think about it and kill Richard.” Edgar stood in his swirling anger next to the demon. Kerlvin waved his hand. The French doors slowly creaked open. With an evil grin and a nod, Kerlvin bowed to Edgar. Edgar’s rage exploded.