Chapter Thirteen

Don't be naïve enough to think you're unaffected

The conversion has already begun

--Disturbed, Haunted

 

"Lord Abaraxas, the kinsfolk be in a right state. Five men were killed trying to capture a human."

Abaraxas sighed and ran his hand through his long, silky hair.

"How many times must I tell you not to interrupt my gazing time unless it's important? The impish creature apologized and nodded to his master.

"You know how the people are all talk and tall tales. Lead me to this human then." He stuffed a single rose into the breast pocket of his tasteful suit then rose form his throne. They walked in silence to woods outside the Palace of Desires where they saw demon after demon attempt to engage the boy, yet they all fell by his hand. Abaraxas watched yet his eyes couldn't comprehend it. This kid was an obvious Wildling but there hadn't been one this strong in centuries.

Abaraxas approached and Travis turned towards him, red eyes a glow and unleashed his tendrils. The Demon Lord raised an earthen shield and dodged as it crumbled. Him pulled the rose from his pocket and blew on it. The thorns enlarged then fired off like a gun. Travis waved his hand and the thorns rebounded, skewering those who hadn't the sense to get out the way. Abaraxas hissed then slammed his hand into the ground.

Roots sprang up and encased Travis. Abaraxas disappeared in a cloak of shadows then reappeared with a bracelet. He wiped blood from his wounds on to it and the bracelet glowed black. Satisfied he placed it on Travis and the boy came to.

"Where am I, who are you, and why am I imprisoned?"

"Child, you killed several of my vassals but we'll speak of repayment later. Were it not for me you'd be condemned to the life of a strigori, mindless creatures that live to kill."

That's nice," Travis said and torched his way out of the roots.

"That's not possible. The bracelet should have bound your demonic powers, unless..."

"What?"

"Nothing boy, come with me. There is much you must learn."

"I don't think so." Travis formed a sword of flames and leveled it at Abaraxas. The Demon Lord frowned and began chanting at a rapid pace and when he was done Travis was knocked out and imprisoned in a cage of brambles.

 

***

"Ooh, do I get a taste of the human? I can smell the innocence wafting off him."

"Still your lecherous tongue Demeter, the boy is mine."

"Oh Abe can't we share like old times?" she said and ran her jewel encrusted hand over his chest. Abaraxas stifled a moan and flared up his aura. The air cracked with energy and the form of a giant vulture surrounded him.

"No need to be rude, Abe. The boy is yours, for the time being." Demeter laughed then slinked away, a mischievous glint in her eyes. Abaraxas pinched the bridge, he knew that look all too well. Heaven help the boy if she got her hooks into him. Her set the floating cage down on the ground and snapped his fingers. The spell broke and Travis was awake again. Part of him wanted to rip Abaraxas a new one but he thought it best to bide time until he knew the full extent of the other's power.

Abaraxas studied Travis as much, if not more than the boy. Who would be dumb enough to risk full scale war for a piece of mortal tail? Lord Hades? No he was too busy fighting the Thoth. Balder? No, Even the Lords of Chaos weren't crazy enough to pull something this dumb.

"Oblivion," Travis said and looked at Abaraxas as if to say, "You're welcome."

Abaraxas' demure façade crumbled at the mention of the name.

"How do you know of the Old One?"

"Duh, he only comes to me in my dreams and tries to possess me."

Abaraxas charged forward and pressed Travis into the wall.

"Don't joke about this boy! What dealings have you made with him?"

Travis flexed a bit of his power and Abaraxas went sailing into the other side of the room. He folded his arms and smirked.

"He told me I'm his vessel."

The Cadaver King's pale face flushed and Travis glimpsed his true visage.

"If what you say is true, then why haven't you given in to him?"

"Because I choose not to."

"No one tells the Father of Demons no and lives, unless the prophesy..."

"Again with this prophesy crap? Ultimate evil, Armageddon blah, blah, right?"

"No the prophecy says the Vessel will bring on the end or restore balance to the universe."

"Which is it then?"

"That's the problem. There are four factions. We Djin of Rose believe the vessel will lead us to an era of prosperity. The Lords of Chaos from Eris believe it will free the Old One and lead them to victory over the other demons. The lords of Death from Necron believe he will do both, while the Thoth from Minerva believe the prophesy is bullshit."

Travis worried his thumb nail, weighing his words before he spoke. "And what do you believe."

"I believe it was no coincidence you turned up in my domain and that there will be chaos if you don't learn our ways."

"Then let's begin."

"No, first you must learn to control yourself. I'm going to remove the bracelet and you'll become a strigori again. I want you to fight the urge to kill me. Fail and you die."

Travis braced himself and fought as hard as he could. Oblivion whispered for him to let go and kill, kill, kill! His hands sprouted claws and his mouth reshaped into a maw of razor sharp fangs. But still he held on to the last scrap of his humanity. As the seconds ticked by he felt it slip away and Travis attacked Abaraxas. The Demon Lord thrust a finger and pinned him to the wall. He shook his head then manifested a sword decorated with peacock feathers and brought it down on Travis's head.

"No, I won't fail. I am Phoenix."

Golden flames encased the boy.

Abaraxas stood stupefied as his blade was stopped inches from the boy's neck. He watched in awe as Travis pushed back the blade with the sheer force of his will. Abaraxas nodded and his blade disappeared. He congratulated the boy but couldn't help look at him with a mix of respect and fear. So this was the fabled Cambion, spiritual son of the Old One.

Demons were created in one of four ways. A wildling was the half-breed offspring of demon mating with a human. When their powers manifest they are tested and given the option to become a full demon or have their powers stripped and live as humans.

Your common demon was a human whose soul became corrupted, while lesser demon lords were human that bargained away their souls. Demon Lords were creature of pure demonic energy born from two demons mixing their essence.

Cambions however, were another matter. Rarely humans are born with the soul of a demon and can serve as a vessel for any demon strong enough to possess them. Travis filled this information away and bid Abaraxas goodnight.

This boy gets more interesting every second, he thought to himself. Abaraxas laughed as at last he was entertained. His left mind was ablaze with the possibilities Travis could lead to.

***

Travis awoke the next morning to a scrumptious array of fruit and pastries laid out before him. He took his fill, never pausing to wonder who set it out for him. >From the corner of the room Demeter emerged from the shadows and laughed. Travis turned and saw her scantily clad form and gasped as the light from the window washed over her olive skin, and revealed the predatory lint in her feline eyes.

"Did you enjoy your meal?"

"Yeah thanks, why?" he said and stuffed another crêpe into his mouth hopping see couldn't read him. Demeter sauntered over and sat in his lap.

"Well, my precious it's my turn to eat." She ran her hand over Travis's chest and he felt an over whelming hunger. Demeter laughed and led him to her quarters. There on her bed was a pregnant women cuffed and bound. She undressed Travis and fondled him until he was aroused then disrobed.

They rutted like animals in heat. The pretext gone Demeter dropped her glamour revealing her true form. The cougar demon was ready to play.

Her claws dug into Travis, but he showed no outward sign of pain. Instead he wrapped his legs around Demeter's waist and sank his fangs into the nape of her neck. She wrapped her tail around him and paused as Travis came for the third time in less than two minutes. The bed burst into flames and the ground shook just as it had done the first time he climaxed. Demeter rode him until his pelvis shattered ending her fun. She pulled the catatonic boy from betwixt her legs and laughed when the spell broke and he tried to pull away.

"Precious, time to eat." She walked to the bound women and cut just above her clavicle. The scent enthralled Travis once more and before Demeter had a taste, he pushed her out of the way and tore the woman's throat out. Demeter laughed and joined him and as one they bathed in the blood and rutted again and again until she was too tired to move.

Travis tore the fetus from the womb and drained it of blood and howled. A sadistic smile splayed across her face. Demeter waved her hand over the corpses and two balls of light floated in the air. She drew in a breath devouring the souls then placed her lips against Travis's and fed him.

He deepened the kiss and Demeter had to pull him off least he begin absorbing her essence.

"You will pay for this!" Abaraxas said as he finally broke the wards on the room and forced the bracelet on Travis. When he realized what he done Travis broke down. Oblivion was right, he loved every second of the carnage he caused and couldn't wait to have another go. Abaraxas told him to dry his tears and they began training.

"I should have warned you about Demeter. She has a passion for corrupting young boys, especially virgins. Rule one of Pandemonium: Never accept anything from a demon unless it's freely given otherwise they can enthrall until your debut is paid. Rule two: when dealing with others, always know what angle they're working."

He tried to forget what happened but flashes kept jumping into head as the day progressed. Abaraxas sighed and told him they'd pick things up in the morning and to stay away from Demeter. The vixen popped into his room the second he was alone. As his training progressed Travis was able to hold her bay, but he'd never be the same after those first nights.

"So what angle are you working?" Travis said a month into training. He strummed his lute while and the plant next to him responded as it should and blossomed.

"Good, you're learning. You my boy will by my trump card."

"Meaning?" He raised an eyebrow and smacked the plant away when it tried to take a chunk out of his leg.

"If I can get you to control your powers you'll be an asset to me." Abaraxas smiled and spread his arms in a grand arc.

"And what do I get out of this arrangement?" Travis rapped his fingers on his knee then incinerated the Devil's Head blossom for failing to follow his commands.

"The bracelet for one and two I'll make you a Demon Lord so no one can do what Demeter did to you."

"Deal. But when we're done she's mine, understood?"

"Control your emotions or they will be used against you. Shall we begin?"

"Yes." Travis ran his thumb down his forehead and stopped when he'd reached his chest. Lord Abaraxas returned the gesture and smirked at the use of the nick name. The cheeky bastard should know better by now.

Abe sent a hail of thorn bullets his way. Travis raised a magical barrier and dove out the way as it broke. He smacked the ground and a wall of dirt formed blocking the thorns, then crumpled. Travis slammed his fist on the ground and got up as they tried again. He saw the thorns coming bet refused to act until the last second. Travis focused and the ground liquefied then crystalized forming a wall of diamond.

"How did you do that?"

"Um, just visualized it and it happened. Guess it's the other side of my powers, maybe?"

"Very well then. Let's try that again, but this time use your essence. Remember demonic essence is all around us and in you."

"Gotcha. Wax on, wax off."

Travis closed his eyes and focused again. He sensed the thorns as they hurtled towards him, and then he saw them. Waves of demonic essence shimmered like emeralds. He pulled them in then pictured the ground rising up.

"Open your eyes boy!" Abe said then clapped. A ten foot earthen wall stood before Travis and blocked all the thorns. They practiced for hours until it became second nature for him. When they were done Abe told him it was time to learn how to manifest his aura.

A basic skill, a demon's aura was the physical manifestation of its essence and acted as a warning. Abe showed Travis his and the boy laughed when he saw the giant vulture. Abe stuck his nose in the air, folded his arms, and told Travis to try his. He took in a deep breath and visualized expelling his essence. White smoked formed then it began to take shape.

There before them a hydra formed and he passed out. Abe shook his head and levitated Travis. The boy learned fast, but his results were spotty at best. Perhaps he'd erred in teaching him and should focus his attention else, but the intrigue of what Travis could do once he got a handle on his power was too much for Abe to stop now. With a swish of his finger he placed Travis in his bed and warded the room so Demeter couldn't shadow meld in.

Months flew by and while Travis struggled he'd mastered manifesting his aura and accessing essence, but he would never master song spell. They agreed to move on to manifesting his aspect. A fragment ripped from their soul every Demon Lord had a weapon which multiplied their power several folds. But it came at a price: creating one was unimaginably painful and if an aspect is destroyed the Demon Lord it belongs to losses its powers. Weeks passed but no mattered how hard Travis tried his aspect was out of reach.

"I'm going to try one more time before lunch."

"If you keep this up you'll permanently fracture your soul, and become a strigori forever." Abe placed a hand on Travis's shoulder and looked him in the eyes.

"So be it."

He gritted his teeth and plunged his hand into his chest and pulled. The pain started immediately and increased as inch by inch he removed the soul fragment. A jolt of pain racked his body and he lost his grip. He clawed at the fragment, caught a corner of it and pulled with all his might. At last he'd done it but was disappointed when he saw a lousy rib bone.

Abe laughed.

"Boy, once you've removed the fragment you must temper it in the fires of your will. Only then will the aspect be complete. I suggest you take a break."

Travis smirked. If it required fire and will, then he had that covered. He inhaled then blew on the bone covering it in his essence. Red flames engulfed the bone and pulled it into a void. Travis pulled and after a long battle out came a three foot scythe with blades on both ends. He dubbed it the S-blade and practiced fighting with it. He smiled when he discovered the weapon could separate and if he chose could be linked with a chain for throw attacks.

"Well done, you're two steps away from becoming a full Demonic Lord. You must go through a rite of passage and slay a razor walker using only your essence and spell work."

"So when do we get started?"

"Tomorrow. Tonight we celebrate."

Travis changed into the white toga laid out for him and made his way to the court yard were the festivities were in full swing. The whole kingdom had turned out and were decked out in their most elegant outfits. Some wore suits that changed color at random, while others wore gaudy outfits circa the 1920s. The band playing instruments fashioned from human remain struck up and as one they began to sing.

 

We are the Sons of Perdition.

The scions of chaos.

The sowers of discord.

We are daemonis, daemonis, daemonis!

 

We are nightmares you can't un-dream,

The source of every scream.

We are the monsters under your bed.

We are the things that you dread.

We are Daemonis, daemonis, daemonis!

 

We are creatures of the deep,

Who make mothers weep and children afraid to sleep.

We steal your breath and swallow your souls.

Where we dwell only blood flows.

We are the thorns on every rose.

We are Daemonis, daemonis, daemonis!

 

"We are the things that go bump in the night,

The cause of every fright.

None can escape our sight.

We are the instrument of evil's might.

We are daemonis, daemonis, daemonis!

***

After a third rendition of the Demonic Creed, it was time. Abaraxas rose and clapped his hands. An altar appeared in front of the feast table and on it was bound a child not much younger than Travis .

"Help me," he said as Travis looked on. He knew what was expected of him.

Beauty is only skin deep was the motto of Rose. Everything to them was about the facades they built to hide the evil within. Djin fed off the sexual and emotional energy of their victims and found great joy in bring out the inner beauty of things by corrupting them.

Hundreds of eyes fell on Travis and he stood before the boy. He knew not following through would be a huge faux pas and sign of weakness. He swallowed down the lump in his throat and tried to think his way through this.

If he made a run for it they'd only be buying time until the shadow assassins were after them. He could claim the boy as a catamite, but his status left his claim open to challenge from senior vassals and Demon Lords. Fast as he was learning they had centuries of experience over him and his inconsistent abilities.

"Is my precious getting cold feet?" Demeter's laugh broke him out of his thoughts. Travis schooled his face and turned to her.

"Of course not, my Lady. Merely planning the best way to torture this worm. Any suggestions?"

"Far be it from me to intrude, but do hurry. I'm getting a bit peckish."

She gave him a knowing smirk and sat back down. Demeter spread her legs and idly played with herself. He fought back the urge to retch and turned back to the boy. His rosy cheeks were stained by tears, the look in his green told of utter desperation as he thrashed against the bindings to no avail. Travis tried to block out his thoughts but they crept in.

His name was Cole, and he was just shy of his 13th birthday. A good little Italian Catholic boy, he never missed mass and always told the truth at confession. And right now he prayed to anyone who would listen to save him.

Travis locked eyes with Cole and saw his life flash before his eyes.

I'm sorry.

With a wave of his hand Cole's heart stopped and he lay still. A single tear trickled down Travis's check, but he knew what came next. He ripped the heart from Cole's chest and ate it. Boos rang out.

"Didn't your mother tell you not to play with you food?" His face was devoid of all emotion but inside he hated himself. The others cheered him on as he devoured part of Cole's soul and distributed the rest out to them. He took his place to the left of Abe and laughed at the hurt look on Demeter's face.

Rule three: everyone wears a mask, but make sure they never see yours slip. He was still new to the game, but when he was ready they'd pay.

 

A/N: Sorry about long wait between updates. I'm currently up to chapter 22 and would appreciate if anyone would like to beta edit for me. Send comments to silentbutcudly@hotmail.com and remember to donate if you can to keep nifty free.