Rabdos noted with some pride the miniature fortress he and Dante moved through following the young girl. He’d selected Kicker for grooming and possible domination some time ago. The man was progressing quite nicely, which as he thought about it might end up costing him more in the long run.
The young girl acting as their guide reached the landing of the stairs and turned left. The landing extended to the right as well into a large open area with low light, old couches, and huddled bodies sucking on smoking glass pipes. He assumed the actual product was purchased somewhere downstairs and only brought up here for consumption, or elsewhere. They made another left hand turn and the view disappeared.
Dante stumbled slightly making the turn, snapping Rabdos’ attention forward. Two more heavily armed men wearing police-style body armor stood flanking a door at the end of the short hall. Lemurs sat, tails wrapped around the wrist of each hand gripping their respective weapons. Both man and lemur never took their eyes off Dante or Rabdos. This needed to be completed quickly. The men of valor would come looking for Dante at any moment and he could not be found again, not in the current condition or he’d be turned from his purpose, captured, or slain for certain.
“What lies beyond that door is of my purpose,” Rabdos said. “You need fear nothing you see. In fact, be commanding for they who survive will serve you.”
Dante flinched as the last portion of his statement set in. “What are you going to do?”
“I am going to lay the ground work for your ability to move about the world again,” he decided a little honesty would do in this occasion, as distasteful as the words were.
The girl never paused at the door. She opened it and moved through with the ease of familiarity. The two thugs noticeably gripped their weapons tighter and scowled down at Dante as he passed. Rabdos didn’t like the air of those two lemurs. They clearly thought themselves above him. He’d have to remedy that shortly, assuming all went as he planned.
The girl moved to the right into the main portion of the room. A large couch sat facing with its right arm against the wall, forcing all traffic to flow as the girl had gone. Another thug and lemur sat in the couch, though this man was much more overweight than any they had seen previously, as the sag in the middle of the couch attested. He did not stir, though the lemur tightened its tail around his wrist.
“Do not let their leader speak first. When he rises, tell him you’ve come to offer him employment. When one of his lackeys tries to interrupt shout him down,” Rabdos whispered in Dante’s ear.
“He’s here, Kicker,” the girl said in a slow drawl of a voice, thick with intoxication as she sauntered over to a dining room table where several men were forming short lines of a white powder. One of the men offered her a short straw, which she took and bent over the powder as she raised the straw to her nose.
A group of five young women of various ethnicities halted their pawing of a man in a large leather chair as the man pushed his hands forward and rose with a swimming motion that moved the women aside. He had long tight tendrils of hair hanging to his waist twisted into tight ropes of various sizes. He wore no shirt, exposing coal dark skin. His large and well defined muscles spoke of the raw power only hours of time lifting dead weight could bring. The pearl handle of a chromed .45 caliber hand gun poked over the waistband of his tailored slacks, and his right hand slipped to the butt of the weapon naturally. A large imp cut in similar muscles and bearing the red sword brand in the middle of his chest, rode upon the man’s shoulders much the same as Rabdos rode Dante’s. The imp made no move to genuflect at his arrival. Good. Two at the table, one at the door, and six fawning concubines. Easily managed. Dante hadn’t spoken yet so Rabdos thumped his axe haft into the man’s neck to prod him along.
“Nice place you’ve got here.” Rabdos dug his heel spur into the man’s chest so the imp wouldn’t notice. The idiot was acting like this was a social call. It had the desired effect.
“You work for me now,” Dante said shifting his stance and dropping one hand into his pocket. The two men at the table rose, picking up their weapons as they did.
“Man you got some bal…” one of the men started. Dante never looked at him but stabbed his free hand at him.
“Shut up,” Dante demanded, allowing his eyes to drift to the man as he dropped his forehead and scowled at him. The fat man on the couch exhaled heavily as he hoisted his mass out of the groove his weight had carved into the piece of furniture. Kicker’s right hand gripped the chrome handgun and drew it from his waistband but he didn’t point it yet. The imp softly caressed the man’s right temple as he also rose to stand on his charge’s shoulders.
“My,” the imp hesitated before adding the honorific, “lord. To what do we owe the honor of this visit?”
Rabdos rose to stand as the imp stood, and as he did so he casually allowed the head of his axe to shift in the imp’s direction. “In the old ways, I now hold sway over this lair. You and all your chattel now belong to me.”
“The old ways? What are the old ways to me?” the imp asked, cutting his eyes to slits and forming a tight-lipped smile of disdain.
“Thank you,” Rabdos said, and he launched a bolt of hellfire that cut straight through the imp’s chest, knocking him off the man’s shoulders. Instantly he uttered a single arcane word that shifted the tight line of fire into a wide swath as he splashed it over the two men standing at the table. The lemurs burst into flames, falling to the floor as the fire singed off their tails, where they writhed in pain as they died. He shifted his stance and swung his axe overhead to face the fat man at the door and shot another blast of wide fire scorching the lemur there as well, just as the man raised his weapon.
All four men seemed to go stiff and their eyes widened as their unseen masters perished. Rabdos wasted no time bouncing off Dante’s shoulders and onto Kicker’s in one smooth leap. Once there he began to rub the man’s bare chest with one hand and lick his throat. Kicker’s eyes sagged and the tension left his body as Rabdos ministered to him. Dante grimaced and made a noise of distaste but stood his ground.
“Shut up you fool. Now, while he’s vulnerable make the offer,” Rabdos commanded.
“What offer?” Dante asked. The girls all turned to look at Dante but they didn’t move.
“What? Man you…oh yeah,” kicker responded, but stopped as Rabdos returned to caressing his throat.
“Idiot! To serve. Offer him whatever he wants to serve,” Rabdos said, leaving off exactly who he’d be serving on purpose in between his caresses.
“Oh, right,” Dante said. “You serve me now. All this is mine and you belong to me too.”
He sounded exactly like what he was. An idiot suburban man trying to act tough in the inner city. This would never work, but the offer had been made, so the opening existed.
“Move him to the table to show him, as I showed you,” Rabdos said. Dante moved to the table as instructed. The two men standing in his way parted as though in a trance.
“Come here and I’ll show you,” Dante said.
Rabdos straddled the man’s neck from the back and took hold of his ears. He thumped him in the chest and Kicker jerked but responded with forward motion. Rabdos tugged his ears and the man maneuvered to the table. As soon as he reached the table, Rabdos leaped off to land on the flat surface and thumped the haft of his axe on the table top. A stack of parchment appeared where he’d smacked the table. Kicker’s eyes widened as he saw the papers materialize before him too.
“What the hell?” Kicker whispered and then took a step back as Rabdos’ form materialized as well, standing over the parchment. The man didn’t run though, as Rabdos had hoped. He had to act quickly or he’d lose his opportunity.
“I am not a drug-induced hallucination, and this is your ticket to power beyond your wildest dreams,” Rabdos said, waving a hand at the stack of parchment as the words of the deal began to materialize on the paper.
“Man, I got power,” Kicker said, clear-headed enough to realize he was negotiating. “Dope car, kicks, and bling too. Whachoo got I don’t got?”
At that moment the two men from outside came in to see what was going on. Rabdos leveled his axe at them and bathed their lemurs in hellfire to die, writhing on the floor as their companions had. Kicker jerked as he watched and raised his gun, aiming at Rabdos but he didn’t pull the trigger.
“Thas a nice gat. How does I get one ah dem?” Kicker asked.
“Who you talkin’ to boss?” one of the men asked as he noticed Dante standing off to the side and Kicker seemingly addressing the table top.
“You kill all your friends in this room, sign this paper in their blood, and leave here with this man and I,” Rabdos said.
Kicker never hesitated.
Guardians of the Herald is live on Kickstarter to fund the production of Angels and Demons as a real book! Go to this address to get involved and see the nifty rewards available to backers of the project: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thecavalier/angels-and-demons-guardians-of-the-herald-issues-1
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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