Rabdos’ enormous lance of fire streaked away from his blazing axe head toward the two women on the plain below. They saw it coming just before impact. The smaller woman suddenly shifted out of range, throwing up a wall of force to shield her from the blast. The larger woman was not his intended target and only had to erect her own wall. The fireball burst on the ground bathing their barriers in hellish flames. He shot several more fiery missiles but the distance separating them gave both women ample time to avoid the impacts. He’d have to get closer to finish them, but that suited him just fine.
“Where are you going?” Dante’s voice asked. Rabdos ignored him as he strode down the stone steps of the high castle walls. Dante’s voice continued to question him as he reached the courtyard and prepared to open the gates. “No, they’ll get in!”
“Silence, dog! This is my realm. I rule here. There is no power they can summon I cannot quell. Watch and learn.” Rabdos waved his arms and the gates slammed open with a thunderous, deep-bass boom. Dust and mortar fell from the walls as he strode out onto the plain to meet their adversaries.
The larger woman emitted a guttural growl and leapt at what she perceived as a weaker foe. She apparently intended to grapple with him. “Good,” Rabdos thought.
Rabdos brought up his axe with inhuman speed, catching the woman in the pit of the stomach and sending her flying over his head to impact the wall of the gate tower to his left. He spun and leveled his axe at the smaller woman aiming for her legs. He’d cripple her here just as she was in life. That should deflate her spirits some.
His target saw the obvious attack, as he intended, and erected another barrier of force. He smirked and launched his attack. The lance of flame shot forth and cut through the barrier as though it weren’t even there, catching the woman in the right knee. She screamed and collapsed to the ground with one leg severed. He took just a moment to bask in the soothing sounds of her anguish and pain until his other opponent tackled him from behind, knocking the wind from his lungs and his axe from his hand.
The woman snaked a muscled arm around his throat and began to apply pressure that would have cut off the circulation of blood were they on the mortal plane of Eden. He tensed the muscles in his neck, gripped her arm, and spun around to face his attacker in a move no physical foe could have made.
“Are you quite through?” he asked through gritted teeth. The woman let out a primal scream and shifted to a two-handed grip on his throat. He laughed in her face as she leaned in, teeth clenched. He decided she’d had enough hope and locked both his hands on either of her wrists. The touch of his hands caused her to redouble her efforts to choke the life out of him. “Were we on Eden you might win this confrontation. You are quite strong after all, for a woman.”
She didn’t like his barb one bit. He already knew that though. She lifted his head off the ground and smashed it down, striking what would have been a crushing blow anywhere else. Rabdos laughed.
“Is that the best you can do?” he taunted her. He could see worry cross her face as the blow seemed to have no effect at all. “My turn.”
Rabdos tightened his grip on the woman’s wrists and slowly pulled her arms apart. He held her weight off his body as easily as holding a babe. He let that idea sink in a bit as she struggled against the steel of his grip.
“You see Dante, these mortals cannot harm me here, and by association they cannot harm you so long as we keep this stronghold intact.” He punctuated his statement by kicking upward and back, throwing the woman more than fifty feet to land in the dust of the plain outside the castle. He flipped himself to his feet in a nimble gymnast’s move and faced the two women. “I grow weary of this game. It ends now.”
He throw out his open hand, calling for his axe. The weapon launched itself from the dust, flying across the rocky ground and smacked into his open palm. He took hold of the weapon with both hands, sending hell-fire crackling across the length of the haft and across the weapon’s head. This final blast would end them here and now and Dante would see who reigned in this realm.
Just as Rabdos prepared to bathe both of the wounded women in hot hell-fire, a flash of light announced a new arrival standing next to the smaller woman. Whoever it was, they’d perish along with these two making the object lesson all the more fruitful. As the flash of light cleared he saw the form of the boy who’d chased him out of the strip club.
“You are a pesky one, youngling, and so brave venturing where your angel cannot follow,” he said, but he held his fire. Bravado from the condemned would only cement the lesson to Dante.
“I don’t need Theliel for what I have to do,” the young man said as he moved to the women with the wounded leg.
“Oh, do tell or rather, show me,” he said.
The young man retrieved the woman’s leg and moved toward her. Surely he didn’t have the healer’s gift? Ah, well it would be even sweeter to let him heal the woman, returning hope to her just before he destroyed her soul for all time.
“Angela, you can heal this,” the boy said. “I know you can, just try.”
“She’s in shock Cherry,” the larger woman said. The boy ignored her with a look of anger on his face. Perhaps he could use that against this one. He was young after all and might be vulnerable to being turned if the right leverage were discovered. That would certainly be worthwhile, turning an apprentice. He watched as the boy took hold of the woman’s hands placing one on her upper leg and the other on the severed lower. The touch of his hands seemed to jar her from her fevered state and she looked, first at Rabdos, then the boy.
“You think you’ve found a healer in this age, apprentice? You don’t even have proper men and women of valor, let alone someone to guide them,” he said laughing at the three mortals.
His words of scorn seemed to solidify something in the wounded woman the boy had called Angela. She locked gazes with Rabdos and added a look of resolve as she began rubbing both portions of her legs. The motion caused her to wince, but she closed her eyes and wrinkled her brow in concentration. Light engulfed her leg, then flashed. When the flash dissipated, her leg sat on the ground whole, and unmarked. They did have a healer, and a powerful one at that.
“You ventured into my realm where I hold sway. Your souls are forfeit to the Lake of Fire. I claim the victory this day.” A gout of fire erupted from his axe head and shot across the short distance before any of his targets could react.
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.
For more information about this story please join us on our Facebook page community at www.facebook.com/firstchevalierbooks.