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Apocalypse Run

 
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6/28/2016 19:09:51   
PhantomKnight
Member

Prologue

He took solace in the lantern that fought off the swarming darkness. Wiping beads of sweat from his brow, the young man picks up his shovel and continues the dig. Already he finds himself standing six feet beneath the surface, and every inch drives him further into the realm of Hades. As he thrusts the spade into the earth, it bounces off of something hiding under the dirt. Setting the shovel aside, he falls to his knees and brushes away the loose soil. In dismay he finds that it is only a rock that obstructs his dig. Letting out a small sigh, he picks up the stone and throws it out of the hole. Above him, he hears a shrill shriek.

“Watch where you’re throwing things,” caws a dreary old man. Looking up, the digger sees the pale wrinkly features of the elder. Sunken eyes filled with contempt peer down into the hole. “You nearly hit me with that rock you little twit!”

“Bischoff,” a deep voice booms across the cemetery, “If you would not stand so close, you will not risk being struck.”

“How dare you,” he turns his hooked nose to someone hidden by shadows. “You will address me properly as Bishop Bischoff, you insolent fool.”

A gloved hand leaps from the darkness, grabbing the bishop by the front of his holy robes. While Bischoff tries to wriggle out of the clutches of his captor, the man steps into the lantern light. He stands a head taller than the old man. A black scarf is wrapped tightly around his mouth, hiding all but his haunting emerald eyes.

When their gaze meets, Bischoff shrinks away, “M-My apologies, Lord Noah.”

The scarfed man shoves the bishop away. Gazing into the hole, he gives the digger a subtle nod, “Benjy, please continue.”

Nodding in kind, the digger picks up the shovel and returns to his work. From the hole another pile of dirt is thrown onto the surface, joining an ever growing mound beside the tombstone. Another follows suit. Thrusting his shovel for the third time, Benjy feels a violent tremor run up his arms. A familiar ring of his vibrating shovel fills the chilled air, but this time it carries a more metallic tune.

The digger sets his shovel aside before crawling on all fours to investigate this new obstruction. Brushing aside the loosen dirt, he finds a silvery surface shimmering in the dim orange light. He claws at the soil, unveiling buried steel. After he has tossed aside several handfuls, Benjy finds himself staring down at a metallic skull. The skull stares back with sockets filled with amethyst, which seem to give off a soft glow of their own. Its teeth are clenched shut, each tooth sharpened to a fine point. Looking at it, the skull appears angry for being awakened from its slumber.

“Did you find it?” Bischoff asks excitedly.

The digger looks up from the grave, “I believe so, milord.”

“Well, what are you waiting for?” the bishop squawks. “Bring it up, bring it up now!”

Benjy grabs his shovel and digs out the rest of the skull. Tossing dirt out of the way, he finds that the skull is only a decoration to something grander. Reaching into the earth, he pulls a steel chest out of its worm-filled bed. It falls against his stomach, pushing the air out of his body. Benjy stumbles around the hole and almost collapses under the weight of the mysterious box. Luckily he manages to wrestle it out of the grave. Light shimmers across its silvery body. Ancient runes are etched around the skull. The archaic symbols tell a thousand year old tale that will never be heard again.

“Yes, yes, this is it!” Bischoff wrings his wrinkled hands together. “Quickly, boy, open it.”

Climbing out of the hole, the young man uses the gravestone to help pull himself to his feet. Reaching down for the shovel, he walks over to the chest. Benjy steps on the skull, wedging the steel spade into the gap between its teeth. Forcing his entire weight onto the shovel, he manages to break the seal. The bottom jaw unhinges and opens as if it were surprised.

Trapped air hisses out of the mouth, pouring over the chest in a blood-red mist. The crimson fog rolls around at their feet. Noah steps away from the strange smog as it passes him. Looking back to the chest, he finds the frail bishop has already crouched over the opened hole with greedy eyes. The holy man shoves his arm into the mouth of the skull. A wrinkly smile soon sinks into a frown.

“What is the meaning of this?” he shrieks, grabbing the digger by the collar of his shirt.

“W-What do you mean?” the lad trembles.

Pointing a wrinkly hand at the chest, Bischoff screams, “It’s empty!”

The bishop scowls as he raises a hand to strike the boy. A gloved hand catches him by the wrist as Noah pulls hi off the young man. Shoving him aside does not douse Bischoff’s burning fury. He makes another run for Benjy, but the lord holds him at bay. When their eyes meet, the wrath is almost drained from the seething elder, returning him to his frail self. As he shies away from Noah, a weary frown grows when his beady eyes fall upon the box.

Noah also looks to the chest and takes a look into the opened mouth. Just as the bishop had yelped, it is empty. Turning to the boy, he finds him quivering like a puppy.

“I-I-I wouldn’t lie,” Benjy cowers. “I swear to you, milord, this is where the map said it would be. I wouldn’t lie to you, Lord Noah, I would never. I swear.”

“Calm down, Benjy, calm down,” the lord puts a hand on the boy’s shoulder.

The young man has turned a shade paler than death as he stares at the box. When he feels a pat on his back does color return to the digger. Turning his eyes to his lord, he can see a scowl emanate from the emerald eyes.

“M-Milord?”

“I was afraid this would be the case,” Noah says as if he is repulsed by the idea. “We are too late.”

The bishop scowls, “And what is that supposed to mean, Noah?”

“It means Death,” is his answer. “Four graves, four tombs buried in secret cemeteries across the globe. I doubt that the other three have been left untouched.”

“You never said anything about there being four graves,” Bischoff shouts. “You made me a promise, Noah. If I helped fund your expedition, you would give me something of great value for the Vatican. Yet all you have shown me is an empty box. Now, I have had enough of all your cryptic babbling. Tell me exactly what was supposed to be in this chest.”

“The instrument that will end all of humanity, and for that reason we must act,” Noah spins on his heel and snatches up the lantern. Walking away from the grave, he spies the shadow of the young Benjy following beside him. Back at the tomb, he hears Bischoff squawking like a caged bird. “We must hunt down those that would see all of existence destroyed. Four creatures will appear, each the embodiment of our destruction. Nothing more than foul beasts clad in human skin. Benjy our time is running short, we must find them. Send word to our brothers to scour the globe for them. If we are to fail, they will ride forth and bring about the end of days. As the Knights of Humanity, we must defend the realms of man against such monsters. It is up to us now to eradicate the four…and anyone else who would dare stand in our way.”

“I understand milord,” Benjy runs to keep up with his lord’s long strides. “But, if they look like humans, how are we supposed to find them?’

Noah keeps his emerald eyes ahead to the rising sun off in the distance as he speaks in a voice like thunder, “We shall slay all who answer that ancient call: Come and See!”
DF MQ AQW  Post #: 1
6/28/2016 19:16:21   
PhantomKnight
Member

Chapter 1

“Huh?”

A young lady looks back down the hall, expecting to see someone behind her. While there are a mesh of students filling the halls, no one appears to be looking at her. Tuning to her friend, she gives a curious look, “Did you hear something?”

“No,” the other girl also looks over her shoulder.

“I swore I just heard someone whisper something in my ear,” looks suspiciously down the hallway, tucking a few loose strands of platinum blond hair behind her left ear. Then her suspicious silver eyes look to her friend, “Rose, are you messing with me?”

“Of course not,” she answers defensively. Both girls turn right to stop at a row of lockers. “Maybe you are just hearing things.”

“Maybe…”

Her delicate, pale fingers fiddle with the locker combination. The dial spins to the left, and then to the right. When she tries to open the handle, it does not budge. Grumbling something under her breath, the girl makes a second attempt at her locker. To the left and to the right, she stops it at each number. Pulling at the handle, the locker refuses to budge. Letting out another curse, she punches her locker. The metal lets out a resonating ring that thunders down the emptying halls. It still refuses to open for her.

“What is wrong with this stupid thing?” she stamps her feet as she reaches for the lock again, reworking the dials.

Her friend looks over and then taps the girl on the shoulder, “Uh, Kiera, that is not your locker.”

Kiera looks up and sees the number “6” bolted at the top of the locker door. Blush rushes over her pale cheeks, as she walks around her friend to another locker. Slowly, she works the dial on the combination. Lifting up the handle, she manages to open it.

“Thank you, Rose,” she says sheepishly. “I don’t know what I would—”

Just as Kiera opens her locker, a ball of confetti explodes in her face. For a moment she is blinded by a wall of colors. Shredded paper plasters her face and nests in her hair. The shock causes her to stumble and eventually fall on her back end. Wiping some of the confetti from her eyes, she finds Rose on the floor beside her. Her best friend is down on her knees, holding her stomach. Tears roll down the girl’s eyes as she struggles to control her laughing.

“That’s not funny,” Kiera glares, picking some of the paper out of her hair. “You gave me a heart attack.”

“Oh come on,” Rose manages to find a moment of relief in her laughter to speak. Taking a deep breath, she then says, “It is a little funny.”

While Rose remains on the ground as she tries to catch her breath, Kiera gets back on her feet. Some more strands of confetti fall on the floor around her. Opening the locker, she winces in case of another attack. Instead, there is single blue balloon tied down by a box wrapped with a red bow. Sitting beside the gift is a yellow card with the phrase HAPPY BIRTHDAY written in a rainbow of glittery colors. Kiera recognizes Rose’s bubbly penmanship. At the bottom of her locker, she sees a colorful cannon that is still aimed at her face. The barrel is empty so no second round is likely to hit her. Looking over to Rose, she sees her friend back on her feet and grinning from ear to ear.

“Awe,” Kiera has a smile crawling across her face. “Did you do all of this for me?”

“Of course!” Rose wraps her arms around her best friend, giving Kiera a rib-breaking hug, “Happy Birthday, Kiera.”

Kiera feels her body ache, but hugs back as best as she can, but pales in intensity, “You are wonderful. Thank you so much.”

“So,” Rose lets go and puts her hands behind her back, sticking out her chest, “How does it feel to be an adult now?”

“Not that different from yesterday,” Kiera shrugs, as she brushes off some confetti sticking to her shirt. “I never saw the big deal about turning eighteen. It is not like we can go to a bar, or anything.”

“Awe, come on, it is a big deal,” Rose shouts, waving her hands over her head. “You are an adult now, a full grown woman.”

“I have been a full grown woman for a year now,” Kiera mocks as she rolls her eyes.

Her silvery gaze falls upon her friend, causing her teeth to clench, Between the two of us, you at least get to look like a full grown woman. We are the same age, yet you have curvy hips and bouncing breasts that make every boy in this school turn heads. Your hair is like spun gold, all long and curly like any Miss America. And those blue eyes that look like two sapphires. Even I sometimes get lost in them.

I do not think she even wears makeup. Of course, she is the epitome of beauty. Me on the other hand, I look more like I just hit puberty, but I am going to be stuck like this forever. No matter how much I am outside, I always look pale like a ghost. Rose says my skin is like silk, but I think she is just being nice. And I guess those boys that asked me out said they liked my platinum blonde hair and silver eyes. They would call me a mysterious beauty. I guess I, wait, what was I talking about?

“Hey, Kiera, you okay?” Rose notices that her friend has been zoning out.

“What? Yeah, yea I’m fine,” Kiera shakes her head to clear away her daydreaming thoughts. “Oh yeah, I need to show you what my parents gave me this morning for my birthday.”

She pulls at the silver chain linked around her neck. Out from her plain t-shirt is a medallion that fits in the palm of her hand. The pendant is that of a silver snake with scales outlined in obsidian. Snaking in a full circle, the serpent consumes the tip of its tale. Its body encompasses a pentagram etched in silver. Ancient runes are formed around the star, so black that they seem to fluently meld with the rest of the pendant. At the heart of the medallion is a ruby the size of a dime. As the light touches the blood red gem, it seems to pulse as if there is a fire dancing inside it.

“Oh my gosh that is beautiful,” Rose lets out a gasp. Her sapphire eyes seem to pale in comparison to the shining ruby. “Where did your parents get that?”

Kiera twists the pendant so that her own gaze may fall upon it, “My dad said that it is a family heirloom. The snake eating its own tail is a sign of the ouroboros, dating all the way back to ancient Greece.”

“And they let you just have it?” Rose looks a little concerned.

“Yeah, I guess so,” she answers. “My dad told me that every daughter inherits it on their eighteenth birthday. Apparently I’m the first in a few generations.”

“Wow, that is so awesome,” Rose beams, but then her smile fades when she looks at the box still sitting in the locker. “But after seeing that thing, I need to get you a new gift.”

Both girls exchange looks before their hands reach for the box. Rose makes an attempt to snatch the gift box back, but the birthday girl nimbly steals it out of her fingers. Pulling the box out of reach, Kiera rips the ribbon off and unveils the pair of tickets waiting for her. Etched in the paper is a woman all in green with a red smile. Kiera’s eyes widen.

“Wicked!” she gasps. “You really got me tickets to go see Wicked!” Rose smiles and then breaks out in a high-pitched squeal. Kiera then looks back to the tickets, making her mouth hang open, “Wait a minute. The show is this weekend? Oh my god, this is so amazing. Thank you so much!”

“Oh you’re welcome,” Rose answers as her friend throws her arms around her. “I have the whole day planned out. We’ll take the train into the city and go shopping before the show.”

“You are the best friend anyone could ever ask for,” Kiera gives Rose an extra tight squeeze until she hears her friend gurgle for air. Before Rose turns blue, she lets go. “We’ll have to talk about this later tonight. Call me tonight okay?”

“Okay? But where are you going?”

“Home,” Kiera closes her locker.

An eyebrow raises suspiciously as Rose says, “Uh, Kiera, you do know that it is only sixth period?”

“Yes,” Kiera throws her backpack over her shoulder, “But I have study halls the next three periods today, so I am just going to head home early. My parents said they had a big surprise they wanted to show me when I got home. I can’t wait any longer.”

“Oh, alright,” Rose gives her one last hug. “I’ll see you tomorrow. You’ll have to tell me all about it, though.”

“Of course.”

Kiera parts ways with her friend and sneaks out of the school before any teachers spots her. Outside the school, the place is completely void of people. Littering the parking lot is an assortment of cars, both teachers and students alike. The types range from brand new sports cars that were bought on the parents’ dime to pieces of junk purchased through months at minimum wage jobs. Kiera falls into neither category, forcing her to walk a mile home. Thankfully, the October sun hangs high in the sky, sending waves of warmth upon the earth below while the autumn winds keeps the temperatures from rising too high. Smiling, Kiera hops down the front steps on the school and embarks on her journey home.

A sudden gust of wind tosses the leaves up as they dance around her. The chill causes the flesh on her arms to pimple. Shivering, she picks up the pace to a brisker walk. Along the road the trees sway lazily to and fro as if they were dancing to a silent song. Kiera watches a pair of chipmunks run across one of the branches, one trying to steal acorns from the other. The one with fattened cheeks leaps for a branch, but falls short. It plummets to the grass, but lands on its tiny paws before darting for another tree. The chipmunk left behind stops giving chase, scurrying off to collect nuts of its own. Kiera lets out a chuckle and continues on. As she enjoys the scenery, thoughts of the surprise pop up in her mind like fireworks.

I wonder what they could be planning, a smile grows across her lips. Maybe they are planning a trip to Greece. That would explain why they gave me the medallion this morning. Or maybe I am getting a new car. Not likely, but I can still dream about that convertible. Oh no, I hope whatever it is does not interfere with Rose’s planned trip to go see Wicked.

At the halfway mark between the school and her house, the grassy terrain is barred off from the road by a white picket fence. Much like she does on every trip, Kiera runs her fingers across the wood, finding it smooth to the touch. Taking a moment, she stops and leans on the fence. Over the rolling hills there is building that looks like a red block, but she knows that it is the barn. She makes out four white dots near the barn, but the loud cry moo lets her know that the cows are out grazing. Then comes another barnyard noise, which makes Kiera turn her head.

Thundering over the grassy knoll is pale figure, driving upon four powerful hooves. It white mane flaps in the wind. Unlike the other horses that live on the farm, this stallion was never afraid of her, and enjoys being near. The horse stops at the fence and lowers its head. Kiera pets the muzzle of the horse. A smile reaches her face as she spies his tail swaying happily. Sliding from its mouth is a long tongue that laps against the side of her cheek. A trail of slime reaches from her cheek back to its mouth, but Kiera laughs as she wipes it away. Then, the horse begins to nuzzle his nose in her hair. It takes a few sniffs, as if trying to catch a sent.

“Okay, okay,” she giggles as she pushes the horse away. “Don’t worry, I brought it.”

Reaching into her backpack, she retrieves a shiny red apple that she took from the cafeteria. Before she has the opportunity to take a bite, the pale horse snatches the entire thing out of her hand. Kiera tries to pull it away, but it is too late. Two chomps of its large mouth turns the apple to mush, as it swallows the whole thing including the core.

“You are such a pig,” she scolds the horse, but it snorts hot wind in her face. It then nudges her face with its nose, and continues until she starts to pet his muzzle again. “Oh, you are such a big baby. I cannot stay mad at you. You are too cute.”

Gently patting the side of his thick neck, she continues walking home. Yet as she walks, she notices that the steed is following beside her. It only stops when it reaches the edge of the farm. As she walks away, she can hear it let out a whinny which sounds sad. Kiera decides to turn around and wave the pale stallion goodbye. Only then does it race off to the fields to join its kin.

Walking a few blocks down the road, she comes up to a familiar ranch house. From the road, a serpentine stone walkway leads to the front door. Merrily racing up to the porch, she grabs the gilded knob and throws open the door.

“Mom, Dad, I’m home!” she shouts to greet them as she enters.

Instead of smiling parents, she is met by an unwelcoming scene. Her family is there as expected, but no one says a word to her. On the floor their bodies lie lifelessly. Their throats have been opened up, blood still oozing onto the beige carpet. Twin puddles of red soak into the fabric. The walls are decorated in the same crimson, splattered over family portraits and pictures of their daughter. Standing over their bodies is a man dressed all in black, including a ski mask to hide his face. Clutched in his right hand is the murder weapon. Six inches of a dagger blade is soaked in the blood of her parents.

The killer looks at the horrified expression her face. White teeth seem to shimmer against the black of his mask as it twists into a smile. A deep, guttural voice speaks harshly, “Oh, you’ve come home early. I guess I should say…Happy Birthday!”

DF MQ AQW  Post #: 2
11/23/2016 20:53:24   
PhantomKnight
Member

Chapter 2

“No,” Kiera covers puts her hands over her mouth to muffle a sob. Her eyes are locked on the two mangled corpses lying on the floor until tears blur them from sight.

Their assailant turns the weapon over in his hand, the blood giving off a glint like rubies. In the red glimmer, the blade creates a mirror image of its next target. Kiera looks up from the bodies to that the knife has been turned to her. As if standing before a vicious beast, she locks eyes on the man before taking a step back. Each step slow and methodical as to not arouse him. The heel of her shoe hits the wall with a soft thud. Through the front door comes a gentle breeze that kisses the nape of her neck. Another step causes a familiar creak in the floorboard.

I have to run. I have to run now!

Turning around, Kiera tries to make a sprint for the outside, but ends up slamming into something. For a moment she thinks it I the door. Deep, haggard breaths rain hot air down on her head as she reels away from the chest of another person. Another masked man blocks her exit with shoulders so broad that he has to step sideways to enter the house. While his chest and arms appear thick with muscle, signs of a potbelly poke through his sweater, unveiling a hairy stomach.

Kiera turns to run away, but two large hands clamp around her. The portly man picks her up off the ground as if she were nothing more than a doll. He brings her in and grapples her in a bear hug. Oozing from his pours is the pungent smell of garlic that makes her choke. She flails in his arms like a fish, but he manages to keep a firm grip on her.

“Let go of me, you creep,” she shouts as she continues to squirm.

“Hold still you little—”

“Horus,” the knife wielding man barks, causing both his associate and Kiera to stop moving. “Quit fooling around and bring the girl closer.”

“Y-Yeah, sure thing, Cain,” the large man carefully waddles over.

The masked murderer steps over the bodies of his victims as he lifts the knife up to their daughter’s throat. Kiera whimpers as the warm, blood-covered blade touches her flesh. A sudden sting makes her wince as fresh blood trickles down onto the steel.

“Wait, Cain,” Horus shouts, stopping his companion from opening up Kiera. “We better make sure that this is the one we’re after. Check to see if she has the medallion.”

“Fine,” Cain scoffs, lowering his knife.

Using the other hand, he reaches into her shirt. A flush of color rises to Kiera’s cheeks when she feels his fingers brush against her chest. She begins thrashing around wildly in Horus’ arms, making the big man struggle to hold her. One of her legs makes a crazed kick between the legs. Cain lets out a shrill groan as the blade slips from his hands. Legs turn to jelly, unable to support him after such a devastating hit. He collapses to the ground. Curling into the fetal position, he cries softly and holds himself.

“Hey, you okay?” Horus asks as he tries to hold back a laugh.

“S-Shut up,” Cain answers at a higher octave.

Another swing of her legs lands a blow to Horus, catching him between the thighs. Like his partner, he gives a high-pitched squeak as his legs go out from underneath him. The strength in his arms disappear, giving Kiera the chance to slip free. She darts out of the path of the falling man as he collapses on top of his compatriot. Pinned underneath several hundred pounds, Cain gasps for air as their target scurries away. With the front door still blocked by the mound of flesh, she heads for the back.

“Get off of me, fat bastard,” she hears Cain scream as she rushes into the kitchen.

Under her feet, her shoes have left crimson marks on the tile, marked with the blood of her parents. Seeing it makes her tear up, but the sounds of the two men getting up snaps Kiera back to her senses. Beside the refrigerator is a door. Throwing it open, Kiera sees stairs leading down to darkness. Above her head is a metal chain, which she pulls. Lights flood the cellar, revealing the remaining steps that lead underneath the house. Making sure that the door is closed behind her, she hurries down the steps. The old wooden steps let out loud moans even under her miniscule weight. She winces from the groans, but does not hesitate to hurry down to the bottom. The cement floor amplifies every sound her sneakers make, turning their rubbery squeaks into lion-like roars.

Across the room, there are another set of stairs carved from concrete. The gray steps lead up to a pair of heavy metal doors leading to the outside world. Scrambling across the floor, she climbs up to the door. Through the small gap in the doors, she feels the breeze and the scent of the autumn air. Warmth of the sun touches a sliver of her face. She pushes against the cellar doors, but they do not budge. Taking a brief breather, she tries again, putting her whole body into it. Her sneakers start to slip underneath her, forcing her to stop. Standing there for a moment, she scratches her head before peeking through the crack. The sight of something wooden lying across the doors causes her heart to skip a beat. Kiera realizes that it is the shovel from the shed that barricades her in the house.

They knew, she gasps. They covered all the exits so that none of us could escape. They are going to kill me, just like they killed Mom and Dad. But why? Why are they doing this?

“Hey, did you hear that?” she hears Cain talking as footsteps move to the kitchen.

“Yeah,” Horus says with a hoarse cough. “It sounds like we caught a little bird.”

Kiera holds her breath as she listens to their footfalls thumping from upstairs. The cellar door swings open with a screech of the hinges, and then it bangs against the wall. Shadows stretch on the concrete floor followed by the creaking of the floorboards. Every one of their steps matches the heartbeat pounding in her chest. Frantically, she looks around for something, anything.

Nothing in the basement could prove to be a useful weapon to fend off the masked pair. With no other options, she chooses to hide. Running to the crawl space under the stairs, she squeezes behind the space between the wall and the water heater. Inches away from the heater she can feel the heat emanating from the metal shell.

“Come out little bird,” Cain taunts.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are,” Horus chimes in.

Kiera chews on the bottom of her lip as she watches them from her hiding place. A slight twitch of her arm causes the flesh to touch the water heater. Blistering heat bites into her arm like a vicious snake. She gnashes her teeth to keep herself from screaming. Pulling away from the heater she accidentally smacks her head against a pipe. The copper lets out a vibrating song that makes the masked men turn in the direction of the heater. Kiera shouts from the throbbing in her head and the fact she has been found out.

“Found you!” Horus shouts with a guttural laugh.

An arm reaches for her in the small space between the wall and heater. Kiera presses against the wall, kicking any time Cain’s hand lingers too close to her ankle. Despite her heel smashing into the back of his hand, he endures the pain to grab her foot. He pulls her out from her hiding place and Horus pins her arms over her head as she is thrust onto her back. Cain has her legs underneath him and a sickening grin poking through his ski mask.

“Enough playing around, girl,” he snarls.

Using the tip of his knife, he cuts into her shirt, ripping it down to the navel. She wants to cover herself, but her arms cannot budge under Horus’ weight. A flush of red hits her cheeks as her petite frame is exposed to both men. Unsettling eyes fall upon her chest, but soon she realizes that they are more fixated on the pendant wrapped around her throat.

“Is that the seal?” Horus looks up to his partner.

“Yes, that’s it,” Cain takes a sigh of relief. “This is our girl.”

What? Kiera looks down at the medallion. They are after me, because of the pendant? My parents died all because of this!

“Alright,” Cain draws his knife. “Let’s get this over with. Sorry, girl, but we got to kill you now.”

“No, please,” she begs, her body wriggling to break free. “I won’t tell anyone I saw you. Just take the pendant if you want it so badly. Please, I don’t want to die. Please, please, don’t kill me!”

The tip of the knife hovers over her heart, inches from piercing the skin. Cain takes a deep breath as he lifts it over his head. Kiera continue to thrash. Horus keeps her pinned down for his partner as the weapon is thrusted down. Just before it plunges into her breast, she moves one last time, causing the pendant to jostle. It leaps before the blade. Then, the basement resonates with the metallic clash.

Crack…

The knife protrudes from the center of the ruby. Several cracks leap from the blow, reaching all the way to the serpent. Blood-red steam hisses from the jewel and the cellar grows colder. Seeing his mistake, Cain pulls the knife away and stumbles from the girl. Horus does the same, sprawling up against the wall with a look of horror plastered on his face.

“W-What have you done?” he screams at Cain.

“No, no, no, she moved! Damn it!”

“You have to hurry,” Horus barks. “Kill her before it is too late!”

Pouncing on the girl, Cain holds the knife with both hands as he slams the weapon down onto her chest. With her hands free, she catches his downward thrust, yet the knife still inches closer.

No, I don’t want to die, tears well in her eyes. Please, someone, anyone, help me!

…As you wish.

The ground begins to violently quake, knocking Cain off of her. He hits the floor as the cement begins to crack under Kiera’s feet. The earth splits apart, the rock jagged like rows of razor sharp teeth. Steam hisses out of the maw, and growling comes from the depths. Flames of a sapphire hue leap from the hole. Their embers dance to a haunting song of agonizing cries while the fire swallows the light. It casts the cellar in a pale blue glow.

Wings of the blackest pitch cut through the sapphire inferno. Reaching outwards the obsidian feathers fall from the leathery frame only to be eaten by the fire. A figure pushes the ghastly embers aside, stepping forth onto the cold cement. It is a young man whose skin is as fare as Kiera’s. Locks of hair as dark as coal hang about his head in a wild mane. Black rags cover only his waist and lower. Turning, he faces Kiera and looks upon her with sharp amber eyes with an inlay of gold that make them flash like fire.

“Did you call me, fair lady?” he says, his voice as fierce as a serpent’s bite.

Kiera struggles to swallow the lump in her throat, “Y-Yes?”

Looking over his shoulder, the winged demon asks, “Have these men attempted harm on you, fair lady?”

“Yes…”

“I see,” a smile crawls over his face, make his eyes burn brighter with their golden fire. “And what is your name, fair lady?”

“My, my name,” she pauses, “It’s Kiera.”

“Beautiful,” he says. “Little dark one, my name is Lucifer. I am sure you are familiar with it.”

The flames slither back into the depths as he steps forward. Around him the air ripples, warping the sight of his wings. Cain and Horus both back away, but the latter ends of stumbling backwards. He falls on his backside and screams as the devil stands over him.

“No, please,” he begs. “Spare me! For the love of God, don’t kill me.”

“He will not save you now,” the devil retorts. “Your sins have been weighed and you are damned for your actions. As they say…burn in Hell.”

Lucifer places the palm of his hand on Horus’ forehead. Flames of a sapphire blue sprout from the head and travel across the body, swallowing the masked man whole. He screams in pain as his entire body is on fire, but it soon cuts out. In a matter of seconds, he is reduced to a pile of ashes.

Brushing the soot off his hands, the devil steps over to Cain, who has drawn his knife. Sweat drips from his chin, landing in a growing puddle. As the devil draws closer, it appears to bubble and then turn to steam in a chilling hiss.

“S-Stay back,” Cain threatens, slashing at the air. “Don’t come any closer, you monster.”

“A monster, am I? I did not slaughter two people for my own desires. If I am a monster, what does that make you?”

“Shut the hell up,” Cain charges.

He thrusts the knife directly for the layer of flesh covering the heart. The air ripples around Lucifer as the blade starts to bend before reaching its target. As it touches the skin, it buckles and then melts like butter. Drops of steel fall to the concrete, hardening as they touch the cold floor. All that Cain is left holding is the handle to his murder weapon.

“You, you damn demon,” Cain cries as he drops the useless knife handle.

“I am not just any damn demon,” Lucifer grabs the masked murderer by the throat and lifts him in the air. “I am the demon. The Prince of Darkness, the Fallen One, the Dragon. Lucifer, the Morning Star. Now, join my fiery kingdom.”

No sound escapes from Cain’s lips as he is also swallowed up by the sapphire fire. All that is left are his ashes, which fall into a small pile at Lucifer’s feet. Looking down at the dust with disgust, he stomps upon it, sending the remains scattering into a small cloud. Kiera sits there, unable to think or move. Before it dawns on her, the King of Demons stands over her.

“Th-Thank you?” she looks confused.

“You are welcome, fair lady,” he answers with a smile, “I mean, you are welcome, Kiera.”

Wings fold against his back as he drops to a bended knee, his head tilted to the ground. She looks at him oddly, as he appears to look like knight waiting for the command of His Grace.

“What are you doing?”

“And Hell shall follow you,” he speaks as if reciting something. “That is the duty of all those called to the aid of the Horseman of Death.”





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