“Take this one to my quarters. I have use for her,” Rabdos said, waving a dismissive hand at Farrow. The demoness Amy moved quickly to take charge of the naked and bleeding young woman, who looked terrified but moved along in a compliant manner. The four men huddled around the corral’s center post as though that simple shaft of stone would provide some protection from Rabdos’ ire should he decide further pain was required. It was. “As for the rest of you some changes are needed if you are to be of use to me. You do wish to be of use to me, don’t you?”
All four men began crawling to Rabdos babbling about how they would be more useful than any of the others. Good. They were ready. He nodded and four imps launched into the air as he snatched up his axe and began bathing the four men in hellfire. The flames began to consume the men’s flesh, but just as it started Rabdos spoke the incantations Lord Malphas taught him and the fire ceased consuming and started changing the flesh instead.
The imps dove into the flames without hesitation as soon as Rabdos began speaking. They latched onto each man’s face and began molding the flesh beneath their talons. The men felt the unfamiliar weight latch onto their faces and they clawed at their tormentors to be free of them, but the imps’ grips were too strong. One man dropped to the ground and began smashing his head, and the imp attached, into the ground. The imp lost its grip, tumbling through the air as it was flung away. Rabdos smashed the haft of his axe into the back of the man’s head and he collapsed into the dirt. The imp flew back in as Rabdos used the axe shaft to roll the man over so the imp could continue his work.
Slowly, each man’s face began to shift under the painful ministrations of the imps. Demons rushed in to help secure the men as they flailed about in agony, to better allow the imps to do their work. Rabdos continued applying hellfire as he chanted, supervising each face’s alteration. Finally, he was satisfied and called for his charge to come out for comparison, “Robert, come outside and bring your lackey, so I can see how well your minions have studied your face.”
A wiry, naked man emerged from the tower. He had the build of a runner but not the musculature of a weight lifter. His short, coal-black hair sat atop a face that seemed shaped in a perfectly proportioned vee-shape, from the brow to the jutting chin covered in a short goatee with just a hint of grey. A hawkish nose sat in the middle of the face under non-descript brown eyes that seemed almost sad.
“But I wanted to see Amy again,” Robert Dante whined as he strolled over to stand next to Rabdos.
“You may come play with Farrow, Amy, and I in my chambers after we have finished turning these four into your likeness,” Rabdos said. He looked past Dante, searching the area, and then a scowl crossed his face. “Where is Kicker?”
“He said he’d be down when he was finished,” Dante responded, stepping away from Rabdos reflexively.
“Send him down the hard way,” Rabdos said to a group of demons lounging against the tower wall. He wasn’t sure who they were, but his tower was now attracting recruits and rapid growth of the cadre was inevitable. He’d have to look into all that now enjoyed his protection and make sure they were all properly branded.
He continued working on the four men with his Hellfire and chanting as the imps put final touches on their faces. A few moments later a cry of pain and outrage issued forth from the tower floor. Shortly after, the pack of demons herded another naked man out of the tower.
This man had an athletic build and chiseled, clean shaven chin. His skin tone appeared as though it were airbrushed to perfection like a magazine model. His long, black hair fell loose past his shoulders as Rabdos turned the chin from side to side. Fire still shone in the ice-blue eyes, but not so much that the drug dealer who lived inside that head still thought of resisting his new master. At least, he hadn’t until now. Perhaps a new lesson was called for.
“Yo man! That ain’t right interrupting a dude with his woman!” he exclaimed, rubbing the back of his head. Rabdos glanced over his shoulder to judge the distance and then stepped back before driving the butt of his axe haft into the man’s midsection. Kicker dropped to his knees gasping for air as the wind was driven out of his lungs.
“I am lord and master here, chattel. I command and you do. Always,” he said, now standing a good head taller than Kicker. Robert Dante came alongside Rabdos as he spoke. “When I call you, you drop what you are doing and attend me without question or you will suffer as these behind me suffer.”
Yes, this face was a very good copy of Robert Dante’s original, Rabdos thought. He grabbed a large handful of Kicker’s hair and drug him over to the four men held to the ground by imps and demons. Kicker scampered across the gravel and dirt of the corral after Rabdos, but made no attempt to rise.
The flames bathing the men in sorcerous hellfire had died down to almost nothing, allowing each face to be observed. Rabdos drug Kicker from one man to another, first looking at Kicker’s face, then at the man on the ground. In each case he applied a judicious amount of flame and instructed the attending imps to make several changes. Both Kicker and Robert Dante flinched as the men screamed, but neither said anything.
Finally, with all the minor changes complete, Rabdos released Kicker and waved his hands to the demons to release their charges. All four men rolled over and drew their knees up under them, but none rose. Two curled up into the fetal position and began to cry. Kicker stood and laughed, openly pointing at the two, but Rabdos paid them no mind.
“Rise,” Rabdos commanded. The four men started moving, but not quickly enough for him. He shot a bolt of fire into the sky and all four scrambled to stand despite the aches and pains they felt.
The four men seemed to realize their cuts and bruises were gone at the same time they all realized they looked alike. The startled expressions were rather enjoyable, he thought. “Yes, you are now identical to the one you know as Kicker.”
Kicker put his hands on his hips and stood just a little taller as Rabdos waved his axe in his direction.
“You will serve him in his every command, just as he serves me in my every command,” he said.
“Yeah,” Kicker intoned with a little more pride than Rabdos felt was necessary or healthy.
“If Kicker fails me, I will promote the best of you to his position and banish him to the Lake of Fire for eternal torment as we recruit another to take his place,” he said. Kicker’s eyes went wide as he looked from the burning lake to Rabdos and back. Good. “He will instruct you in what is expected, but your freedoms and pleasures are at his discretion.”
“You fools goin do what I say do now,” Kicker stated, nodding. Rabdos pulled Kicker aside near Robert Dante before speaking privately.
“They are to stay in the area of the tower and not go into the boulder field. Give them each a demoness to pleasure them and then come to my chambers in one hour. You will return to Eden with a pack of demons and imps to lay an ambush for the men of valor who are sure to note your return. Kill them all so Robert may go about the task I have for him unmolested,” he said.
“I get to show’em how the demoness thing works, right?” Kicker asked.
“Yes, you may dally with a demoness,” Rabdos acquiesced. “But see to it you are…”
A shriek of alarm erupted from the tower as several imps flew out a window of the upper floor. They circled once to get their bearing and then made a beeline to Rabdos.
“Master, the demoness Amy banished two imps and has stolen your pleasure slave and fled Gehenna for Eden,” the imp hissed as it fluttered before him at head height. He suppressed a grin but instead turned his face to pure rage as he spun to face the corral guards.
“You four, take eight imps to Eden and bring them back!” he shouted.
The four guards quickly pointed to their favored imps. The creatures flew to their respective demons almost instantly. The demons struck the hafts of their axes in unison and vanished into cracks in the ground amidst oily black smoke. He rounded on Kicker who now stood near the four copies of his face, which was itself a copy of Robert Dante’s old face.
“No time for pleasuring now. Gather your pack and make ready to depart. We must not allow Amy to inform on us to the accursed men of valor or Our Father Below’s plans might be in jeopardy,” he lied. “Go!”
The courtyard erupted in activity as he turned and strode into his tower. He’d make a show of storming into his chambers and perhaps call the pack of Dantes in to him. Maybe he’d demean them and force them all to pleasure him while he waited to see how the recapture attempt went? The idea appealed to him and he waved for an imp as he entered the tower.
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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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