“Little Rabdos, you are quite the celebrity these past few days.” The blazing eyes of Satan hovered just at the edge of the sooty black cloud that hid the devil’s true form. Only a dim outline of some enormous, horned bulk could be seen behind the eyes. The cloud of soot roiled all around Satan but never drifted close enough to his body to allow anyone to see real details. Rabdos knelt before the lord of the infernal pit and said nothing.
“He was on the edge of the plain of Gehenna, Master, hiding in the boulder fields. I believe he met with someone in secret,” Baalberith said, without looking up from his kneeling position.
“Secrets, you say? That is a harsh accusation dear Baalberith. I trust you have proof of this transgression?” Satan said, focusing his gaze squarely upon his secretary. The rotund demon’s eyes shot wide and he began searching the floor for some way out of the predicament he’d accidently gotten himself into.
“My Lord, I…” the demon blubbered.
“If that was what you were doing, accusing young Rabdos here of keeping something from me,” Satan added.
“No, no my lord. I was, well, um.” Satan cut him off.
“Speculating, I know. Speculation is not a good thing my loyal secretary. It too often leads to thinking,” Satan chided. “Now, run along so that I might have a word with our celebrity of the day.”
Baalberith rose but kept his eyes downcast. He backed away from the master of Hell toward the chamber entrance. When he finally reached the entrance he turned and bolted from the room as fast as him ample bulk would allow.
“Alone at last. Excellent. I am assigning another cadre to your care. They belonged to a stupid demon named Karack who allowed himself to be defeated by the enemy. His host is a medium level functionary in a company called Tech Evangelist LLC, I believe you are familiar with this company and have a host of your own somewhere there?”
Rabdos did not move and kept his gaze riveted to the stone floor when he spoke. “Yes, Master, I am familiar with it. I do have a host there.”
“Good. You will go there at once and bind Karack’s former host to yourself. I give you the authority to make any agreements necessary with this human to make that happen,” Satan said, and a hand that looked like it was covered in blood and soot extended from the cloud. Satan spread his fingers and dark red electricity arced across the distance to grab Rabdos. His back arched and his limbs flung wide sending his axe clattering off the nearest wall of the chamber as the electricity lifted him off the ground. Sweet, excruciating pain coursed through his body, filling the reservoir of his power with dark, loathsome energy from Satan himself. Rabdos screamed in both pleasure and pain soaking up the hate. Satan withdrew his arm back into the cloud and the electricity ceased. Rabdos dropped hard to the stone floor of the chamber smashing the back of his head on the rough floor. Thick, black blood oozed from the wound as stars filled the demon’s vision. Rabdos rolled over onto all fours and struggled to his feet. His vision was still blurred to the point that he wasn’t sure if he faced Satan or not, but he straightened his spine to stand proudly before his Master.
“I will not fail you, I will not fail you Father,” Rabdos said trying to put steel resolve in his voice. Satan nodded.
“Your new cadre awaits you in the corridor through there,” Satan said indicating a wall to one side. Instantly an opening began to form in the solid rock revealing a corridor and chamber beyond. “Put them to good use little demon.”
Rabdos’ vision had cleared enough for him to make out the change in the wall’s coloration where the opening formed. He tried to walk in a stately manner to where his axe lay but he stumbled slightly as he bent to pick it up. He walked to the opening with his axe in hand and bowed nearly to the floor before backing out of the chamber into the corridor. As soon as he passed through the opening the rock closed, cutting the corridor off from the chamber. Rabdos turned and headed down the short corridor to the chamber at the other end and his new recruits.
Rabdos’ vision cleared with each slow, deliberate step. By the time he reached the chamber entrance he’d recovered enough to enter in a commanding manner for his first impression. The gathered imps and lemurs were waiting in small clusters. He wasted no time.
“I have no time to properly figure out which of you to kill to make an impression so I will say this; I have been assigned a task by Our Father Below. Those who help me complete this task will find rewards waiting. Move too slowly in your duties or fail me and I will banish you to the Lake of Fire and watch your torment for eternity from the towers of my estate on the Plain of Gehenna. Serve me well and you shall command your own cadres.” He let those dual concepts sink in for a few moments before he continued. “I go now to advance Hell’s agenda against the enemy. Find your comrades already on the plain and help them secure my place here. Any not working for my interests when I come back will be destroyed.”
With that Rabdos leveled his axe and marked his new property with the invisible brand of the twisted scrap of ribbon. “This is my mark and I follow the old ways. Reveal it to any and you will perish. If another tries to take you as their own, let them but come to me at the first opportunity. Go now.”
The newly branded chattel stumbled from the chamber and away from the smell of charred flesh. Rabdos moved quickly and snatched one of the lemurs before the horrid little creature could escape the chamber. It instinctively snapped it’s claws at Rabdos but stopped after a few feeble attacks when it realized it was held by its master.
“You, I have plans for. Pay attention and I shall teach you how to travel between this world and the world of the humans.” Without another word Rabdos raised his axe over his head and began reciting a practiced but simple incantation. The lemur soaked in every motion, every word. Upon completion of the spell Rabdos slammed the butt of the axe against the stone floor. Cracks began to spider web out from where the butt of the axe hit the ground. The circumference of the crack reached just beyond where Rabdos stood. As soon as the edges of the cracks stopped moving, inky black smoke rose up covering Rabdos. As soon as the last portion of the demon’s body was covered in the smoke everything began imploding back into the crack. When the last of the smoke sank into the stone the cracks raced back to their point of origin leaving no mark that they had ever been in the stone and the chamber empty.
Guardians of the Herald is a weekly serial published and copyright by The Cavalier, Mark Malcolm. For more information about this story please join us on our Facebook page community at www.facebook.com/firstchevalierbooks.