Guardians of the Herald – Issue #9

Guardians Logo Draft IIThe bravado that Rabdos had felt at his elevation to full demon and award of his new cadre ended as all of Hell descended upon him to show him his true status.  The first blows came from behind, which actually ended up saving his vision.  The first blow sent him to the ground on his right side, allowing him to protect that side of his head, including his eye.  The beating had left nothing broken but everything was either bruised or ached so deeply he thought it would never heal.  According to the law they had to let him live, but only just barely.  They let him crawl away back to his home, a hole in a nondescript wall somewhere in Hell.

The cadre of imps and lemurs formed a semicircle around Rabdos and the rock wall behind him.  Rabdos stood with his back to the small imp-sized opening of his home, waiting.  The denizens of Hell were nowhere to be seen granting Rabdos a small reprieve to at least heal from the beating given earlier.

Finally, a tap on the back of his calf caused him to look down and behind him.  A small lemur held a length of dirty yellow ribbon.  Rabdos snatched the ribbon away from the lemur and drove his foot down hard on the insect body as he hid the scrap of color from the dinginess of Hell.  He hunched over, hiding the ribbon and looked around furtively to see if anyone noticed what the lemur brought out of Rabdos’ old hovel.  None of the creatures within sight seemed to be paying either Rabdos or his minions any mind.  He whispered a short incantation as he pressed his clawed palm against the haft of his axe.  The ribbon melded into the ebony wood of his weapon and he turned to face his minions.

“My mark is hidden, following the old ways,” Rabdos started without preamble.  His followers turned at once to face him attentively.  He continued, “If you reveal it to anyone they will cause you pain simply for seeing it.  If I find out you’ve revealed it I will destroy you.”

The gathered minions didn’t seem to care one way or the other what Rabdos said.  He leveled his axe, closed his eyes and summoned forth the power stored in the axe as he’d been taught.  Immediately a bolt of energy shot forth from the axe head touching each of the creatures and began to etch something into their flesh.  Rabdos continued talking as the electricity slowly worked the pattern on those assembled.

“If another tries to mark you, you are to take that mark and begin working diligently for whoever claimed you.  But, you are to return to me as soon as possible, reveal to me the mark, and tell me of your instructions.”

The crackle of electricity subsided.  The smoke cleared but the acrid stench of burnt flesh hung heavy in the air as the assembled lemurs and imps looked at each other’s chests.  Glowing in yellow flame was the symbol of a twisted ribbon, a scrap from a woman’s sewing kit.  The faces of the imps fell noticeably.  Rabdos scowled with rage and took a step into the midst of his minions, leveling his axe as he came.

“This is my mark!” he hissed sharply.  “I will destroy your soul just as surely as the sins that brought you down here, now pledge your service so we you may be about my tasks.”

The collected creatures came forward and kissed the side of Rabdos’ axe, one by one.  When all had paid homage to their new master, Rabdos stood fully erect, as much as the pains in his body would allow and surveyed his forces.  They were small, but then, he’d just begun.

“The lemurs will go forth and locate a suitable site for our base of operations.  Find a remote location on the plain of Gehenna away from others but with sufficient land to build upon.  We will become a force in Hell and need comparable lands.”  The lemurs scattered, scuttling off in various directions happy to be away from their new master.  The imps tried to follow them.  “Not you, imps.  I have other tasks for you two.”

The imps paused and returned to face their master instead of heading off.

“I have two people in the garden who have turned, but they are unescorted.  You are to locate and turn two more lemurs.  Once you have done that, find me so I may point these two people out to you.  You will gift them the lemurs as familiars and then guard them.  Be on the watch though, for guardians are returning to the garden in greater numbers.  I feel a change has come to the garden again not unlike the day the son died.  If you see a guardian or any other soldier of Heaven do not fight them.  Observe only, and report back to me.”

The imps nodded their understanding but hesitated to depart.  Rabdos locked eyes with first the one, and then the other before nodding himself, releasing them.  They spread their wings and quickly launched into the air before Rabdos could change his mind.  He had not been around in the days the son walked the garden but from what he knew it had been a mistake to kill him.  He needed to know more about the change that was sweeping through the garden, and from what he was able to glean from the two people he’d managed to turn they were in a position to provide him at least some of the answers he sought.  If he could continue to cajole information from the two of them he might even be able to turn a few more in higher positions of authority in what they termed as their Congress.  If he was right, time would soon become his ally rather than the enemies.

Until Next GotH

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