He heard a chorus of whistles. Familiar tunes. Old slave spirituals he sang in Sunday School.
He paused. Considered turning back. Kept walking.
Something about suffering and Christ and finding salvation in heaven. Lyrics he didn’t believe… Not until Lucifer offered him free, fluorescent bottles of Moonshine. Money. Love. Promises of salvation. The catch… meet him in the alley.
He stepped through puddles.
Blood. Warm to the touch.
Money. Respect. Fame. Every desire. For something intangible. Illogical. Something he didn’t believe in…until the Devil offered him everything he desired. For a price. His most valuable asset.
Tightness in his stomach as he turned the corner. Into the alley.
The smell of sulfur was at its peak. Nausea.
He gripped his pistol in his pocket with one hand. Crucifix around his neck with the next.
Tink! Tink! The coin flips echoed through the alley. Pap! Pap! Spotlights exploded around him.
The sulfur. The nausea in his stomach. The impure thoughts.
He was getting closer.
The sharply dressed boy awaited him under the remaining spotlight.
Last time it was a woman. A woman who resembled his childhood sweetheart. The Devil loved to play games.
The boy snatched coin out of the air. Pointed a fist in his direction.
“Play?” The boy asked.
He shook his head.
“Heads or tails?” The Boy inquired.
“Fifty fifty chance.” The boy insisted. “Heads for salvation… Tails for…”
A lava red glow burned behind the boy’s jagged smile. “Fifty… Fifty.”
A once a century, secret Congress of the most powerful and influential monsters of all nationalities, species, and realms. A parlay among humanity’s predators. He was tasked with surveilling the meeting by the foolish and misguided Humanic Order. He had greater plans. The Order will thank him whence the smoke clears.
Red Vampire, the host, was in his cross-hairs. Succubus brides trailing behind him, arranging and rearranging furniture. Preparing for their big feast.
She stomped on the demon’s chest. Used the leverage to dislodge the divinespear of E’lees from itsbelly.
The Demon’s breaths were shallow. Its crushed rib cage slowly rising and sinking beneath her heels. Its long, shattered wings flapping wildly as if trying to escape its broken body.
The Demon spat in her face. “Finish me, insect!”
She plunged the consecrated spear through the Demon’s left eye. Twisted. Drilled it into the back of its skull. No regeneration this time.
Swooooosh! Escaped souls fired from the Demon’s socket. Ricocheted through the room like vexed lightning.
She raised the glowing spear to deliver the finishing thrust.
“Prophecy always prevails,” The Demon whispered.
Not this time.
She spent her childhood training to combat her so-called prophecy. Awaiting battle against the fate, clerics and superstitious townspeople claimed was inescapable. One strike to its remaining eye and none of it comes to pass. One more strike and she’s free.
The Demon cackled. “See ya.”
She plunged the spear into the Demon’s remaining eye.
Shrieking souls exploded from its skull. Destroyed her remaining dark magic artifacts and sigils in the room. Shattered the towering stain-glass windows.
She withdrew the spear. Wiped demon’s bile from her eyes. Lowered from its corpse before collapsing to a knee upon landing.
“E’lees,” She praised.
She couldn’t free every abducted soul. The souls used for sustenance and to power the Demon’s machines… Gone forever.
“E’lees, forgive me.”
She trained the spear on the quivering Demon.
Hiss… The Demon’s form disintegrated to ash. The ash quickly dissolved in the breeze.
Its done. The goddess E’lees granted her strength. The will. The arsenal. All she needed to defeat the Demon. To defeat prophecy. To prove mortals weren’t slaves to destiny.
Iku… I’m coming home.
She shuffled to a shattered window to bathe in the the sunlight. To inhale the sweet scent of grass on the breeze. To take in the sound of caroling birds.
Hell’s ice was thawing. Life was returning to the region. She was going home where there were endless hills, waterfalls and flowers.
To see Iku… To disembowl every thing you love.
Murderous thoughts increasing. Defeaning. Consciousness being crushed. Replaced by another.
Kill them all. Destroy everything… you… I care about.
“I defeated you!” She took an attack position. “You’re-”
“Ach!” She rolled up her sleeve.
Black scales formed on her arms and across her collar bone. Organs rapidly shifting. Expanding. Growing.
She’s dying. But she’d never felt stronger. More alive.
“I’m sorry.” She released the spear.
She jerked forward. Landed on all fours.
They tore through her flesh. Her shoulder blades. Her prickly black wings whooshed angrily.
She cried. Tears of pain. Tears of sadness. Tears of laughter.
Prophecy prevailed as it should. She gleefully embraced what she’s meant to become… The Scale Lord.World devourer. Her true self. Fate.