Rabdos stood on the street corner as though he were actually there, leaning up against the lamp post waiting for the cross walk to change. The sun had set some time ago, and as if on cue the sound of an electrical circuit closing announced the lamp atop the post warming up. Across the street, a young man stood wearing a knit cap, hooded sweat jacket, torn jeans and black sneakers. He had his hands stuffed in his pockets, looked back, and surveyed the parking lot of the strip mall as he stood in the shadows under a storefront awning.
The youth wiped an errant lock of black hair away from his face as a car rolled to a stop at the curbside. The driver rolled his window down and thrust out his hand as the young man stepped off the curb toward the car. A quick exchange was made and the car sped off as the young man returned to his previous position and continued his vigil.
Rabdos chuckled softly at the sight. He picked up his axe, spoke a soft incantation with a name in it, and stamped the axe shaft on the ground firmly. When the oily black smoke cleared the imp Cagrina stood in the spot where the axe had touched.
“I live to serve master Rabdos. What is your bidding?” Cagrina asked, bowing deeply.
“Tell me what you see, imp,” Rabdos said, not shifting his position. Cagrina moved to the edge of the street and surveyed the area. She sniffed the air and turned around to ensure she’d seen everything. When she finished she focused on the young man as well.
“I see a young man who should be cultivated all by himself,” Cagrina said as a smile spread across her face, wringing her hands in anticipation.
“Yes, precisely. He is your charge for the time being. You have served me well thus far. Ensure it continues,” Rabdos said, striding across the street oblivious to the cars speeding by. Cagrina began to follow but stopped in the middle of the road as she caught sight of the window decorations for the store behind the youth.
“Master, this place!” she screeched loudly. Rabdos stopped, hung his head, and turned.
“This place holds no power over us. The one who thinks he serves the adversary preaches our gospel. He is in love with his nice cars, position of authority, and adulation of his tiny band of followers. He can do us no harm,” Rabdos said, waving the imp to his side. Cagrina did not move.
“The cross master. It has the cross in the windows. Everywhere!” she screeched again. Rabdos began to grow angry. He strode back to the center of the street, balled up his fist and punched Cagrina square in the face.
“Fear me, imp. Fear my wrath. That symbol has no power by itself. It is just an image on plastic in a window you stupid imp!” The punch had done its work, refocusing Cagrina’s attention on him. Rabdos realized she was young and had no training in such things. He’d expand her knowledge here but perhaps no more punishment would be required. He extended his hand to help her up as he said, “Some of the cattle of Eden believe it has power on its own and worship the symbol more than what it symbolizes. We have nothing to fear from a thing made of wood, stone, metal, or plastic. It is just a thing. It is the faith of the person holding it or standing by it we must fear, and this one has no faith at all, at least not anymore.”
“Not anymore?” Cagrina asked, scrambling to her feet but avoiding the outstretched hand, Rabdos noted. Good, she learned quickly.
“I’ve seen to that grooming him for a purpose.”
“What purpose, my master?” the imp asked, wiping thin blood from her broken nose as the pair finished crossing the street to stand next to the young man. Rabdos considered keeping her in the dark. After all it wasn’t prudent to let too much of one’s plans out, even to the help. However, Lord Malphas had always said a little confidence early helped to weed out the crafty, duplicitous ones. He had several candidates under observation already and could afford to lose this one so he decided to enlighten the curious imp.
“He has a partner in this business of his,” Rabods said as another car pulled up, repeating the scene earlier. Now standing next to the young man, they could see the money being handed out by the car driver and the small plastic packets being handed back. “You will keep this one safe until his partner arrives. When the two of them meet up you will let me know immediately and then be ready to protect this one at all costs.”
“Protect him from what?”
“We are going to recruit him through violence and a threat on his life.”
“And what of his partner?”
“His partner is of no consequence beyond being the object lesson of why his life is in danger.”
Understanding crossed Cagrina’s face as she smiled, nodding before shifting her gaze back to the young man who smiled also, counting his money.
Guardians of the Herald is a weekly serial published and copyright by The Cavalier, Mark Malcolm. To catch up on the first 45 issues you can either read them for free on the web site or purchase the compilation, Guardians of the Herald Issues 1-45: Angels and Demons for the Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/Guardians-Herald-Issues-1-45-Angels-ebook/dp/B00IJIFXSY.
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