Jake had become increasingly stressed and nervous, yet Alaric seemed focused and astute. Alaric wasn’t losing himself to panic; however, Jake could see it getting to him. He just hadn’t let it control him as it had affected Jake.
“How are you coping with this all, man? I don’t get it, you almost tore down a city to help her before, and now you seem almost stoic. It doesn’t make sense.” Jake finally mustered up the courage to confront Alaric about his handling of their current situation.
“If I were to lose my shit and become unfocused, where would we be now? Nowhere good, and trust me, it’s killing me that she’s gone. I have an awful feeling about this, though, that it’s not what we think, but we won’t know until we can find her and her would-be captor.” Alaric had stopped and turned to Jake to look him in the eyes as he responded, taking his questioning very seriously, as much as Kimmy having gone missing. He was just holding it together much better and not visibly. This was also because Alaric feared that Bahlreq might have something to do with her disappearance. However, that could be because he had no idea since he still had to be trapped in The Pit.
“Alright, just please tell me if you know something though or have any ideas. I’m here to help, not be a pain in your ass. It’s hard to help if I’m kept out of the loop, Alaric; just please keep that in mind.” Jake responded to him as some of his visible panic shed off, taking more of a responsible stance in Kimmy’s disappearance.
Nodding in agreement, Alaric sighed, “You’re right, I’m still playing things close to my chest; nothing against you, Jake; just before a year ago, we barely talked, and most people I get to know ended up not living long. I just don’t want to endanger anyone else, I thought that was over, but now with Kimmy vanishing, I feel it’s my fault. I also fear its influence from The Pit due to last year’s events.” He finally confessed partly what was getting to him.
The two men had already made it back to the city as they stood before the sign that said ‘Welcome to Detroit.’ Glancing back and forth to one another, Alaric sighed loudly and began trudging back into the city they had left not just a year ago. His dread grew that something from The Pit had grabbed her somehow from under their noses. Perhaps it was something Balhreq had sent, some lesser Demlo under his influence. His first stop was Daemon’s; if anyone had any insight into what was happening, it would have to be that trash heap of a bar owner.
The bar was loud and violent as random scuffles broke out, ending as quickly as they started with one punch or maybe two. Usually, starting due to one or both being too drunk to be in public and taking something the wrong way. The music was louder than it needed to be, but it covered up most of the activity that had been going on inside of the bar, most of the learning, if not entirely illegal in general. The bar had thrived since the events of a year ago, which had been a dire night in which Daemon didn’t think he’d recover, financially or businesswise. The appearance of business today showed that those feelings had merely been a passing thought and nothing held in reality. Daemon should have known, though with the clientele he generally catered to, that an encounter of such would mean nothing to them all. It may have even helped business, putting his bar on the map as nothing of that level of activity had ever happened there before; the city’s underbelly took hold, and his new clientele in the underside of the city, that of the dark occult types. He didn’t care who was at his bar, so long as they didn’t bring cops with them, hinder his overall business, or engage in any of the illegal activities he had running through his bar either.
However, his new customers occasionally got under his skin, seeming creepier than those from The Pit he knew personally. He wasn’t sure what those who came here were looking for or their intentions. Still, they didn’t cause any disturbances and generally brought in quite a bit of money since they weren’t scared off by the typical boisterous biker crowd that frequented the bar every day and evening. It would seem that some of the new occult crowd had done so to some of his biker crowd, frightening some less hardcore or weekend warriors, as they liked to term them. Occasionally, groups of the new type would get booted by some bouncers due to bizarre behavior ranging from speaking in tongues to even conducting what could only be explained as rituals or spells. From what Daemon saw and felt, none of them were performing anything that would affect him or summon anything from The Pit, so all he could figure is they had found some book made by someone claiming to know what they were talking about to make money off of the ignorant. In his experience, there was more fake lore and knowledge out there than the truth, even that of the dark truth hidden behind the veil of what life was like for the general public. He knew how dark reality was, even if the more significant population was unaware of the pure dark nature of existence behind the image of light and hope. Some he watched came through his bar and seemed to show some potential, in his opinion, as he could feel some power radiating off of patrons here and there, but never frequent and never known to the individuals. If one of those he’d seen had gotten a hold of an actual book, then they might wield some power in their lives one day, but he didn’t believe they would in their lifetime.
One particular individual that caught Daemon’s eye was a woman who seemed to sit in the corner of the bar with her back to the same corner each time she was there. She also seemed always to have a book of some sort with her; generally, something looking ancient yet not giving him any vibes from it, so all he could tell was it had to be something of occult history or a fake book. She always watched people while reading, watching both entrances as if watching for someone. He wondered if the books she was coming in with were even hers due to her behavior. Perhaps her coming here to do her reading was for the protection of the environment and common ground with the other gothic types. She was the one that gave off the most actual witch vibes, though, as the others seemed to be more glam witches; there was something else about this woman he couldn’t put his finger on, something unsettled in his gut about her. He discovered her name through the bartenders as she got drinks there. They had known her as Alyse.
Alyse had a new book that evening. This book didn’t seem to have a visible title and had an odd leather binding. One he soon realized wasn’t regular leather but that of what appeared to be human skin, a common binding ingredient for ancient dark tomes. It was then that Daemon realized that the feeling he was getting from her that evening was the combined sensation of her power with the power of the tome she was holding. The powers of the two were intermingling as if she’d been already using it; the feeling he got was familiar. He found a scuffle near her and decided to take care of it himself to see if he could get a better feel for what he was sensing.
“Hey, you two! Break that shit up now! Don’t make me kick you both out for that stupid bullshit!” Daemon exclaimed as he rushed to the two rowdy bikers twice his size, yet he handled them quickly, pulling them apart with a single hand on each man. They both looked back at him in shock as one shoved him back toward Alyse. As his momentum carried him in her direction, his back began to burn and singe as he let out a yelp and cold-cocked the man who shoved him, almost removing his head with the strike as he crumpled to the floor knocked out instantly. The other man in the scuffle, appearing in shock, turned tail and shot out the door. “Yeah, asshole! Don’t come back!” He kicked the man on the floor as he rubbed his back from the burning sensation and motioned to his bouncers to remove the filth on the floor. He kept clear of Alyse after the almost encounter now that he realized what he was feeling from her was, in fact, a ward against demons, the very reason his back started burning when he got close to her. Making his way back to the bar, he kept his eye on her, keeping track of her whereabouts for the rest of the evening. He didn’t want to get another burning surprise like the last one, unsure if she was onto him not being human or just putting up wards in general due to the type of book she had gotten a hold of. This also made him a lot more interested in her new book, wanting to see who wrote it and if it was something from The Pit or perhaps just another wielder of Pit magic as it was referred to. Her aura, as he looked, gave off the dark lines and shade of corruption, the very aura of a human dabbling in the magic arts of The Pit.
Alaric and Jake went through the city to the alley they had abandoned just a year ago. Looking for any evidence of Kimmy or if anyone from before had still been around. As they rounded the corner and made their way down, they noticed no one was there now. It had appeared as though their alley had been thoroughly cleaned out of everything, no trash, temporary homes, or even people besides the two of them. Any evidence of the fights from a year ago had also been repaired or cleaned up. This city area had never had that kind of attention, which was why such a community lived there. To find it empty and void of life was a shock to them both.
“That’s strange, and I would have thought to at least see new people living here, even if not seeing anyone from before, but to find no one here, that seems… well, odd,” Jake muttered as he stood next to Alaric.
Nodding, Alaric responded, “This doesn’t seem right, but we have more important things right now than this alley.” He walked straight out of the alley and headed towards the abandoned apartment building where the fight had ended. “Hey Jake, let’s go; we’re going to the crime scene.”
Trotting up behind Alaric to catch up, “Oh damn, really? Ok, man, I got your back.”
Alaric chuckled and nodded as they headed down the street, and he hailed a cab.
The cab pulled up to the dilapidated building, with all other facilities around looking the same, a run-down part of Detroit that once buzzed with life and people, now falling apart with homeless and junkies living where they could. After Alaric paid the driver, he sped off immediately, not wanting to get into trouble in the bad area.
Looking up at the building, “Alright, man, let’s do this.” Alaric said as he started towards the apartment building, motioning to Jake to follow behind, and Jake did take to his lead.
Huffing and puffing up the stairs, “how… huff much, further huff….” Jake struggled up the stairs as they were rounding the 20th floor.
Alaric chuckled as he responded, “Heh, we’ve still got a way; if you need a break, we can stop, or you can catch up later.” He didn’t slow his pace the entire time.
“Naw man, I huff… got this” Jake pulled it together and caught up to Alaric, but he didn’t know how much longer he’d make it before he would need that break.
They finally rounded the 43rd floor, and Alaric stopped at the opening to the floor. “We’re here.” He looked down both sides of the hall, and seeing nothing, he stepped out and made his way to the apartment where he fought Bahlreq.
Jake stopped at the top of the stairs and stood in the entryway to the 43rd floor, leaning on his knees with his hands, and he gasped hard, catching his breath, “Go ahead man, huff… I’ll… catch up.”
Alaric was already most of the way to the apartment, where everything went down. As he got there, he stood in the doorway, feeling the energy in the air from the confrontation. Stepping into the apartment and walking to the broken-out living room as he stopped in shock at what he saw.
Jake ran in, catching up, and bumped into Alaric, bouncing back a bit, “Ooofff… uh… What is it?” He righted himself and looked at where Alaric was dead, staring, and his eyes transfixed at what he saw. A red circle on the ground painted appeared, and in blood, it would seem. There were two inner and outer circles, and between these were some runes that Jake had never seen before. Everything was dried up, and some of it was barely visible. “Ww..what is that?”
Alaric finally broke his frozen state as he walked up to the edge of the blood-painted work on the floor. He knelt beside it, touching it and pausing to see if he sensed anything. The only thing he sensed was sadness, which was familiar; he felt Kimmy. “It’s a summoning circle for summoning something from The Pit.” his head hung down after he finished his words. “She was here too, Kimmy; I don’t know why, but I can sense her presence recently tied with this ritual, and it’s not her blood, about the only good thing here, it seems.”
Jake was still in shock, which grew as Alaric explained what was before him. The fact that Kimmy had been here when whatever happened, he hoped that she wasn’t involved in any events involving this circle and was just a captive. “What! Was she here? Fuck man, I hope she’s still safe.”
“I have a bad feeling about where she might be now. And it’s only somewhere that I can go.” Alaric sighed loudly, “Firstly, we’re gonna go say hi to Daisy….” His expression turned with a sneer, and he started back towards the city.
Jake followed along, “Daisy?! Who the hell is that?”
Daemon had been keeping his eye on Alyse, still trying to figure her out; if she was aware of the power she was dealing with if she knew the capabilities of that book that she was reading, as well as where she got a hold of something like that. That book was older than he was and had to have been written by some Demlo.
“Hey! Daisy! Knock fucking knock!” Alaric shouted as he easily barged through the many bikers by the door. Some fell to the floor, those in front of him backing away, as they all remembered the last time he was there, even though it had been a year. That event had been scarred into their memories, some experiencing phantom pains from amputated hands as they scowled at Alaric, yet they all parted like a sea on a path to Daemon.
Shocked, having thought he was finally rid of Alaric, “What the hell are you doing back? I thought you finally left the city.” He audibly sighed in complete disappointment, as he also gave up on correcting him on his name, knowing it was useless.
Alaric walked right up to the bar as he reached over, and pulled Daemon over it with one hand by his neck. “Where the fuck is she?! And I swear if you give me shit, I’m sending you on an express trip back home.” He was just about nose to nose with Daemon.
Unsure, he wanted to answer as he had no clue to whom Alaric had been referring, “Fuck man, I don’t know who you’re talking about. I know you won’t believe me, but it’s the truth, man. I have no fucking clue. Look at my bar! It’s still wrecked from your last visit, and I’ve been paying to fix it. No one tells me shit; you should know this by now.” His body language was defeated as he awaited a fist to the face.
“You’re right… I don’t believe you; there’s something you’ve had to hear at least that perhaps you don’t think is important but could pertain to what I want to know; it has to do with Bahlreq,” Alaric spit the name out at Daemon.
Daemon went from fear to shock, “w…what? Bahlreq? What does he have to do with anything? He’s down in The Pit; you sent him there a year ago before you left. Fuck man, everyone in my circle knows that, though. It’s all the talk after it happened for a while. He can’t be back unless someone summoned him, and word out there was you also killed all his followers, so I doubt that could happen any time soon.” He was puzzled by Alraic’s response.
“Exactly, Daisy, so who the fuck up here is still involved with that shithead? The little girl I was protecting is gone, and he’s the only tie to her disappearance… And there’s a summoning circle where I sent him back to The Pit, so you know what that means….” Alaric’s face hadn’t moved from being centimeters from Daemon’s face.
Nodding in agreement, “Yes, that makes for an easier summon; of course, I know that. That still doesn’t mean I know who did it. It’s not like I’m an operator of summons and know all of them going off around me or som….” He was cut off from finishing his sentence as Alaric quickly flung him across the room to the other side of the bar. Daemon crashed through the table in front of Alyse as she stood up with a start, slamming the book closed and beginning to mutter words in tongue under her breath. Daemon was too distracted with his other problem to realize what she was doing.
“Now, you little shit….” Alaric was closing the new distance between them, utterly oblivious to Alyse and the spell she was casting right in front of the two of them. “Tell me what you know; by that, I mean anything. I want to know everything you’ve heard or anything that’s happened. Even the trivial crap you don’t think about, anything could be a link to what has happened to her.” He was standing over Daemon by the time he finished his sentence. At this point, the bar patrons were either gone or near the exits to dart out immediately. Their sheer curiosity kept them still in the bar, mouths agape at the events.
Daemon sighed, “Fuck man, ok, give me a minute, ok?! Just a minute. Let me think; you’re probably right; let me just think back and roll things back from a year ago to….” He stopped, as his head turned to Alyse, her words finally hitting his ears just behind him. A summoning spell, and she was just finished. He darted up, almost as if he flew up from the floor just past Alaric, “FUCK!! Man, get out of here! This bitch is summoning something now!”
Just then, before Alaric could react, his gaze met hers, and red and black runes flared to existence in the air just feet away from Alyse’s face. Flaring up and circling her position, when the first appeared, she seemed shocked, then shaking the feeling and moving on, more words followed that no one but Daemon and Alaric understood. She was summoning something and giving its name now. “Sha-UUr!” Alyse shouted, the only word heard by everyone else standing around. The runes flared brightly, then fizzled out, it seemed.
Chuckling, Daemon made his way back, obviously pissed off, “You need a fucking summoning circle for that shit to work, you stupid ass, biiiittt….” He trailed off as the red glow caught his eyes he could see from the doorways. Darting to the door, he looked outside and realized she had created a giant summoning circle around his bar. Seeing the runes sizzling to life in the same red-black glow as they rose off the ground floating in the air shining bright before they completely vanished, and all was quiet.
“Alaric…!?” Jake said as he looked at the floor in the bar backing away towards an exit. His eyes were transfixed on the cracking on the floor as something seemed to be banging or clawing through the ground.
“Fuck, everyone, get the hell out of here now!” Alaric screamed at everyone, grabbing Daemon by the neck and Alyse by her waist, and darted through the door. She has some shit to answer for, and he wouldn’t let Daemon go unless he sent him back to The Pit.
The ground surged up then down as if breathing. It did this three times, each time growing in size until the third time it was the total size of the inside of Alyse’s summoning circle around the bar. The last upward heave of the ground ended in its complete collapse into absolute nothingness, altogether eating Daemons bar and all the bikes parked around it. A car here and there toppled in after teetering on edge. Everyone looked on in shock; however, Alaric looked on in curiosity. He set down the two he carried out, unzipped his coats, and shrugged them off in a familiar fashion Jake had seen a year ago. This time he stood there walking toward the circle in a tight-fitting gray shirt, hugging the raw muscle he exhibited. More raw strength and less show, like in movies. He stopped about twenty feet from the edge and waited.
Appearing out of the nothingness was a large demonic-looking charred red hand. The hand that came out of the nearly 100 yards diameter hole was as wide as a bus, with three fingers at the end of each, a long blood and gore-covered tallon, and an opposable thumb with similar talons on each side of the palm. The second came out shortly after, and two more followed as they flexed and pulled up an astoundingly large Demlo, a Lord, to be exact. Its head had three horns protruding grotesquely through the flesh, with puss dripping down the edges of the skin that met the base of each horn. One from each side and the third from the center of the forehead arching up into the air. Its skin matched the hand, scorched black and red skin, irritated and burnt. Its body was covered in a scorched black chain mail that seemed to have grown into its skin, some links woven into the skin or covered as if absorbed by skin from however long it had been wearing it for. It stood to its feet, appearing to be bloodied hooves mixture of a pig and goat, thick redwood tree size legs, a broad torso with ancient infecting wounds all over, and atop its meaty neck was the maw of jagged teeth. Its lolling tongue ended at a point like a snake’s tail whipping about in the air. The eyes were a bright glowing orange ember, smoke emanated from the sides, and a faint sizzling could be heard.
“I AM THE ARMAMENT; I AM THE WEAPON; I AM SHA-UUR!” The Demlo Lord uttered as it came to a standstill. The voice instantly shattered all windows within range and quite a few eardrums, as several cried out in pain, grasping at their ears as blood oozed out of them. A few stood fast, while most ran away; Jake and Alaric stood their ground. Alyse and Daemon stood in utter shock side by side, frozen in place at the sheer presence of Sha-UUr, Daemon having never actually been in the presence of a Demlo Lord, which was only mid-tier of the Demlo Hierarchy, yet it had shaken him to his core, much like Alyse, her wards being all that protected her from Sha-UUr’s voice.
“I am Alaric, firstborn of the Anglo, and I will send you back to The Pit.” Alaric stood defiantly ten feet from the giant Demlo as his hand reached into his jacket and pulled out his massive sword from his hidden place.
“YOU WILL ALL DIE; I AM THE ENDER; I AM SHA-UUR!” With its final word, its right had flashed past Alaric in speed as one of the gore-encrusted talons from its index finger impaled Jake straight through his torso.
“NOOOOOO! Jake!!” Alaric screamed as he blurred in speed to Jake’s side; however, he was already too late to aid him. Most of his vital organs were added to the gore of Sha-UUr’s index talon.
To Be Continued…
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