The screams from the corral four stories below drifted up to Rabdos’ ears as his minions assaulted the three women and four men below. He sighed enjoying the sight of naked human flesh covered in its own blood. He’d have to go down shortly and send two of the females to the master mason as the promised bribe for the subtle corruption of the stones he was sending to Dagon and Keteb for their own towers just a short distance away. The third he had larger plans for, and needed bent but not totally broken.
The thought drew his gaze to the two lines of thralls laboring from the quarries to the construction sites. All the stones would appear as normal tortured souls bound into their block contortions. However, the enchantments masterfully held subtle differences that would create holes in the tower’s defenses should the need ever arise. Oh to be sure, several of the stones held small, almost undetectable imperfections, but those were designed to be discovered. You had to give them something to find or they’d keep looking until they found something, and that might lead them to the real enchantments.
“You prosper, imp,” a deep voice said from the open stairwell behind him. How did he get in and out of his tower without setting off any of the alarms?
Rabdos casually spun and locked eyes with his lord before dropping to a knee. The ten-foot-tall demon, sporting ram’s horns on his head that were easily two feet in diameter at their widest and whose tips curved around following the jawline, crossed the tower floor to stand before his minion. Natural armor plates created an alabaster shell overlapping blood-red skin, and though his jet black cloven hooves sent sparks flying from the tortured stones of the parapet they did so in absolute silence. “Lord Malphas, you simply must teach me how you move so silently around another’s domain.”
“You dally with diversions my protégé. Should you not be about the task to which you were set?” Lord Malphas asked, moving to stand at the parapet alongside Rabdos.
“I dally no longer than is necessary, master,” he responded as he rose and turned to stand beside the larger demon. “I merely await word that all is in readiness for the next phase of the plan.”
“And that is?” Malphas questioned.
“One of the female humans below has recently turned on those she serves. I send my demoness with her back to Eden to infiltrate and report on their activities,” Rabdos reported.
“Your inroads into a politician’s office are of no concern to me. These are easily corrupted. I need word on this age’s men of valor who have begun making forays into Father Satan’s domain with impunity,” Malphas said. Rabdos felt a shudder slide down his spine at the hint of malice in Lord Malphas’ tone as he spoke of the intruders into Father Satan’s realm. He was very glad he had the news he was about to reveal to his master.
“But my Lord, the woman serves those very same men of valor within their holy of holies,” he said without fanfare or embellishment. Malphas inclined his head down at Rabdos with arched eyebrows, almost as if he were surprised at the news. He realized his feeling of amazement must have shown on his face because Malphas instantly shifted his expression to a toothy smile.
“Truly, young demon?” the change of title was not lost on Rabdos. “That explains much of my last encounter with the Red Rider of War and Our Father Below. Clearly they knew this already.”
“Nothing passes in Hell that Our Father Below does not know,” Rabdos said.
“Indeed,” Lord Malphas agreed as he turned back to the view below. A sharp high pitched wail of pain drifted up and elicited a small smile from both Lord Malphas and Rabdos.
The two demons stood in silence observing the tortures below for several minutes. Rabdos felt pressure on his left foot and looked down to see the small hand of the tortured soul contained in the stone he stood on subtly pressing against his foot. The soul shifted a finger toward the staircase ever so slightly as it whimpered in agony from the shape it had been compressed into. Finally, Amy had completed her task and returned. Lord Malphas had not noticed or if he had he didn’t indicate the fact.
He waited the amount of time he’d learned it took for someone to move from the lower bottom floor to the roof of the third floor on the tower before announcing without turning around, “My demoness returns.”
On cue, a grey-skinned demoness moved up the staircase in a loping gait. Her thin, sagging breasts swayed as she crested the top of the stairs and turned to find her master. Her eyes shot wide when she saw Lord Malphas and the greasy locks of her hair cascaded down to hide her face as she dropped to a knee immediately, inclining her head as she did.
“Speak,” Rabdos commanded.
“I bring news of my task, Lord Rabdos,” the demoness said.
“The female known as Harrow is ready and the way back is clear. I can get her back into their sanctum, but they will know I have come and gone,” she reported without rising up.
“That is unexpected. Have you a plan to deal with this?” Rabdos asked.
“I do, my lord,” she said. Rabdos motioned for her to stand, and she did before she continued. “Harrow hasn’t been here long, but in a stolen moment I confided in her that I wish to escape Gehenna and return to the hated one’s realm above, so I am turning on you as an informer to the men of valor.”
“Ah treachery. Is there anything sweeter?” Lord Malphas asked smiling as he turned to look down on the corral again. “Which is this Harrow she speaks of?”
Rabdos turned for a moment to locate Farrow and then pointed. “The one on the left, master.”
“I snuck her water past the guards. She believes I am her friend,” Amy stated. Malphas gave a slight nod of approval, but Rabdos felt anger rising. His guards would have to be punished for allowing someone to get something so precious as a cool drink of water past them.
“A bold move. You are certain she trusts you?” he asked.
“Indeed my lord. She will do whatever I ask,” she answered.
“Excellent. Then go and plan her escape and return back to Eden,” Rabdos ordered. Amy rose and moved to the stairs quickly, but he stopped her with an upraised hand. “Realize I will treat you as a traitor and send a demon and imps to destroy you.”
Amy nodded her full understanding.
“Good. Feel free to banish them all, as I am not sending anyone I wish to retain,” Rabdos said, waving a dismissive hand and turning back to look over the edge of his tower.
“You must keep an eye on that one,” Lord Malphas said as Amy’s footfalls softly announced her rapid descent of the stairs. “Treachery sometimes has a way of becoming infectious.”
“I’m not sure I understand, my lord?” he questioned.
“Ah, still the newly raised imp I see,” Malphas said, reclining on the parapet as he regarded his young student. “The best lies always have a grain of truth in them. What if she means to betray you once she has earned the trust of the humans?”
He had not considered a double cross. He was newly raised and had not had Amy’s fealty long, but his observations of her had always led him to believe she was a resourceful demoness just looking to get away from her former pack. He hadn’t thought that desire was more than just her old master.
A quick whistle drew the attention of all gathered below. He motioned towards a large gathering of lemurs to one side of the corral. Instantly, the imps on the ground dove on the pack of lemurs who scattered. The first imp to capture a lemur took wing and flew to the parapet, landing on the rooftop at Rabdos’ feet.
“You will follow the demoness who just departed this tower and report directly to me on all her movements. Do this, and you will be raised to an imp,” Rabdos stated. The lemur licked Rabdos’ toes enthusiastically before scurrying over the parapet and down the tower wall.
“A generous reward for such a simple task,” Malphas stated flatly.
“This plan cannot fail my lord,” he replied. “Nothing must be left to chance, and as you taught me, there is a time and place for generosity.”
“So there is, young demon, so there is. Note the White Rider’s preparations are nearly complete. Timing is essential or all will be lost. You must not fail me or not even I will be able to staunch Our Father Below’s wrath,” Malphas said, hanging his head before locking eyes with Rabdos. The earnest concern Rabdos saw there gave him no question as to what would happen to them both should he be unsuccessful.
“We will gain access to Eden my lord,” he said, as strongly as he could. “We will, I swear it.”
Malphas nodded before rising to leave. Rabdos walked to the stairs with his master, but stopped when he held up his hand indicating he wished to depart alone. He stood there a moment before returning to the tower edge, but this time he viewed the lake of fire and contemplated the eternal torment that awaited those banished, and hoped he would not be among the damned in that fiery body of torture.
The Kickstarter project to turn the ebook version of Book 2 The Templars’ Return into a real book has begun! As of this writing we are at 59%, well on our way to funding. If you don’t know what I’m talking about follow the link below to the project and see how YOU can help turn an ebook into a real book!
Guardians of the Herald: The Templars’ Return Kickstarter Project: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thecavalier/the-templars-return
Guardians of the Herald is a weekly serial published and copyright by The Cavalier, Mark Malcolm. To catch up on the first 107 issues you can either read them for free on the web site or purchase the compilation of Book 1, Guardians of the Herald Issues 1-45: Angels and Demons for the Kindle at https://www.amazon.com/Guardians-Herald-Angels-Mark-Malcolm-ebook/dp/B00IJIFXSY, or get the actual book from the author’s website at http://www.firstchevalier.com/product/guardians-of-the-herald-angels-and-demons/. The compilation of Book 2 Guardians of the Herald: The Templars’ Return is now available for the kindle on Amazon as well at https://www.amazon.com/Templars-Return-Guardians-Herald-Book-ebook/dp/B01HTMBRQ2.
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