Virginia Succubus

There are real demons in the World. I am one. Well, to be more accurate, a half demon. My father was a Demon Prince while my mother was human. She sold herself body and soul to the demon for power and I was an unexpected result. Most humans pretend the supernatural does not exist but it does. I am living proof. Most of us prefer to keep mortals ignorant but we have always been here. Demons, elves, vampires, faeries, werewolves, wizards. Some good and some evil. You name it, it exists.

I woke up and I looked up at the alarm clock beside the bed. It was around noon. An arm was wrapped around my naked breasts. It was not my house, the alarm clock was not where I had put it. Actually, it was a hotel room. It had been an interesting evening. An extremely young man, although an adult. I don't go for jail bait. He had been both caring and passionate at the same time. Smiling down at him, I wondered if I might have been his first. His face showed exhausted contentment with a tiny smile and I knew he would not wake up for a while. I had met him the night before in a club and we had come back to his home. I looked around for my cloths. My bra was laying on the floor beside the bed with the front snaps ripped out. It was not the first time it had happened. Stealthily so that I would not wake him, I found the remainder of my cloths. I tossed my ripped bra into my purse and started getting dressed. It would be best that I was gone when he woke and I had a meeting in a few hours. It would avoid questions I would prefer not to have to answer.

Having the blood of a Demon Lord running through your veins makes me as strong as any body builder and incredibly tough but it had its down sides as well. As a half demon, I had to feed on emotional energy. The term sometimes used was Psi-Vamp, short for Psychic Vampire. For me, it was mostly sexual energies. Since reaching puberty, my sex drive had been incredible. Monogamy simply will not work. I simply could not have a single lover without draining them to the point of being crippled or even possibly killing them. I had also learned that leaving as few clues for my lovers to find me again were good practices. Some of my lovers in the past had become extremely possessive. I did not use my car when with a lover and rotated through the various clubs and bars to avoid meeting the same guy again. It did get lonely at times and I had thought about starting a male harem but was not ready for that. Commitment to not just one man but several. Just too much work.

It was life in the big city if you could consider the Tidewater area of Virginia a big city. In reality it is just pretentious with the only real draw being the naval base. It was time to get ready to meet a client. There are many women who make their money shaking their tail feathers in clubs and with my ability to project sexual energies, I could make a fortune. I could probably make a fortune in New York as a fashion model as well although it would be entirely too easy for my mother or her allies to find me there. Many people had suggested that I enter beauty pageants but again it would be too easy for my parents to trace me down if I did. I make no secret of the fact that I am incredibly attractive. As the daughter of a demon, you can expect it. Magic or Genetics, I can only be described as a sex kitten. In addition to my voice, I have flaming red hair, slightly curly, with green eyes. While hidden under my business suits most of the time, I have full hips, a bountiful chest, and a narrow waist.

Don't get me wrong, I love sex. I just won't sell it. Well, I won't sell it directly. There is nothing wrong with using being attractive and sexy to attract clients. It made a good cover as well. I worked as a private investigator at times recovering relics mostly, a bounty hunter at times, and sometimes as a body guard. As a body guard, I would simply pretend to be a hired escort. Yes, I had slept with plenty of clients. Why not take advantage of the situation. Still, I was not hired because of that. I was hired because in the words of one of my clients, "I always got my man." For bounty hunting jobs, I was often brought in as a last resort. As you might expect, I was quite expensive. While I was a licenced private investigator, I do not do peeper work. Never will. Who people sleep with is their own business. People think I am an accomplished computer hackers and that is how I get my information. I let people believe that. After all, magic does not exist.

In addition to being a half demon, I was an accomplished sorceress. I use my magic to find out what cannot be found by normal means. My demon blood allowed me to control magical energies far greater than most wizards. My mother was a highly skilled sorceress herself and had taught me magic almost since birth. My father had taught me further magic as his darling half blood child, secrets which few mortals knew. It had been about four years since I had left the family fold and I had no desire to return. I do not call myself good but their plans for me were something I could not do. Seducing my way into power, the mistress of an important government leader, was their plan.

Before I stepped out of the room, I made sure that I was not projecting sexual energies. It would not be good to be grabbed on the street and have someone try and rip my cloths off. They were scanty enough as it was. I had worn a red mini skirt and a pink silk blouse to the club last night and that is what I was wearing today, without a bra now. It had happened before when I was not careful. I was strong enough that I did not have to worry about being raped but it could be embarrassing. I once had a Baptist minister try and rip my cloths off me. While I usually kept a low profile, all I would have to do is bring my sexual energies up and men would grab me and pull me into their arms. Some gay men seemed to be immune but then some women could be just as forward as the majority of males. Unfortunately, I can get no pleasure between myself and an another woman.

About two hours later, I reached my office in downtown Norfolk. I had to call a cab to get back to my car at the club. Unfortunately, I don't know any spells to bring cabs faster and a carrier just pulled into the Norfolk Naval Base. When that happened, it was virtually impossible to get a cab. My lover last night had been a sailor. Many of my lovers were. They were easy to find and often do not have any attachments.

I had chosen the Tidewater area because there were comparatively few wizards in the area. It was the home of Pat Robinson's Regent University and most wizards seemed to avoid the area. An overpopulation of Christian Fundamentalist one might assume. Contrary to popular belief among Christians, Demons are not isolated to their belief system. There are demons found in the Hindu, Babylonian, Chinese, American Indian, and many other belief systems. Still, with the large amount of transient sailors, it was easy to be virtually invisible and there were a few wizards and other supernatural to be found. Some of them were sailors themselves. Wicca, or Witchcraft, was an acknowledged religion in the United States Military.

My home is in southern Chesapeake and it would have taken me the better part of an hour to reach it and I would have definitely have been late in getting back to my office. I kept a fresh business suit in my office along with clean underwear in a duffle but did not have time for more than a sketchy cleanup. I had argued several times with the building manager about putting a shower in but she had resisted stubbornly. I just finished reapplying my makeup when it was time for my meeting. Bright red lipstick finished my image.

At exactly two-thirty, I heard a knock on my door. Scampering back into my office proper, I unlocked the door and opened it, "Come in" coming out sultry as usual. There is little help for it.

I knew instantly that this was not your average client. He glowed. His aura was the first thing I could see. His aura was not as strong as mine but was incredibly powerful for a wizard. It was mostly white although there were a few streaks of grey and black. I had met other human wizards and few had auras as strong as his and most I had seen had far more black on them. My mother's aura was virtually black due to her relationships with demons. Mine was pretty black as well. I don't really believe in the Catholic Church's idea of Original Sin but being a half demon leaves a taint on your soul. I don't even want to tell you what the aura of my father was. Funny was the fact that he wore no objects of power. Most wizards wore several. I had several. If I could see his aura, he could see mine. I wondered what his reaction would be. I had problems with white wizards in the past just because of my aura. Usually I could bluff the more selfish wizards about my aura.

I focused on the man. He was an older man, likely in his late fifties to early sixties. His hair was still mostly dark although had liberal streaks of grey through it. Pale skinned with grey eyes, he was thin and had the look of a scholar about him. He was dressed in a grey suit which spoke that whatever he was, he was not poor. He held his hand out to me, "Clarence de Salle"

I took his hand and replied "Nicolette Darkenwald" and shook it gently. He was not a hand crusher although he had a firm grip. I always enjoyed hand crushers. I loved applying my own strength until they were ready to let go, smiling the whole time. Of course the name Nicolette Darkenwald is not my real name. If a mortal knew the real name of demon, they could summon them with the proper ritual. Still, it is not the blood of a lesser demon running through me but that of a Demon Lord. It was not automatic like the summoning of lesser demons. As well, the summoning spell would not allow them to control me and my human blood would allow me to step out of any summoning circle. I had worked out several enchantments which prevented me from being summoned against my will and they seem to have worked. At least my mother had been unable to summon me back even with my father's energies backing up her magic.

I motioned to the chair in front of my desk and requested, "Why don't you have a seat?" and went over to my side of the desk and brought my computer up. While I am not a computer hacker as many people seem to think, I do have some computer skills. At least enough to look proficient.

Mr de Salle had sat down but looked uncomfortable. He stated, "Miss Darkenwald, I know what you are."

It took several moments for me to decide on a response. I discarded simply asking him what he thought I was. Instead, I stated, "You requested this meeting. Your know my reputation. If you need something recovered, I am the one to find it. If you have a problem with what I am, I suggest you find someone else," with my green eyes penetrating deep into his grey eyes.

He answered quietly, "No" and then repeated himself with a stronger "No!" the wizard continued with, "I have no right to judge you that way. You have a reputation for being able to find items which no one else can find. I assumed you were a sorceress with your success at finding your target but I was surprised by your aura. I am sorry, I need help recovering an artifact."

Breaking in, I stated, "I want to make this clear before you continue. I will not steal anything for you. It better be rightfully yours."

He replied quickly, "No, No, it has been my family for almost two hundred years. It is a head piece from a staff from back in the times of the pharaohs. It might have even belonged to the high priest Imhotep. I must have it recovered."He handed me a picture of the staff head. Raising an eyebrow, I took the picture from him. It appears to be made of gold and had the symbol of two winged guardians surrounding a gem. I look at if carefully. It looked valuable on its own but I got the feeling that it was more that he wanted it for more than its artistic value.

I shook my head, "I know that you have not told me all about this item. To be blunt, what kind of power does it have. Technically, if I find this item, I should have it returned to the Egyptian government." I carefully watched his aura to see if he was being honest with me.

He looked at me straight and the measure of his strength was obvious, "Young Lady, you are incredibly powerful. More powerful than I will ever be. You cannot tell me that you live by the technicalities of the law. The fact is that it is incredibly powerful as well. With it boosting my magic, I can create my own talismans. You might be capable of creating them on your own but most mages need to work in a circle to create them. I am sure that you have noted that I am not wearing any?"

Everything seemed to be on the level. I saw no aura pulses which would indicate lying and nodded my head in response but did not speak. He continued, "I have many talismans which I have created over the forty years I have been a wizard. The problem is that I dare not use any of them. With the possession of the staff head, another wizard could disable any of my talismans. What is worse is that with the Talisman, the same wizard might be able to siphon magic from me. I have linked with the item so often that my magic is joined with the artifact." I was about to ask him a question when he added, "It belonged to my father, grand mother, and great grand mother. It has their magic energies as well tied to it. They could be brought back as Revenants." Revenants could be extremely nasty. They were like Ghosts but possessed the skills they did in life and were completely dominated by their summoner.

Asking the question I had been getting ready to ask a few moments previously, I asked "Why haven't you tried to locate it yourself?"

He shook his head, "I tried, I tried. I have been unable to find any trace of it. Whoever has it seems to be able to block my magic to it."That was pretty ominous actually. It meant that whoever possessed the artifact now knew enough to block his attempts.

Time for more questions, I asked, "What happened"

Mr de Salle responded, "I was away on business. I don't take the staff head with me because I cannot carry it in my carry on baggage and might get stolen if I put it in my luggage. I could feel my wards go off when they were breached but I was over a thousand miles away. The wards should have stunned or killed anyone who tried to breach them. It took me virtually the whole next day to get on a return flight and get back here. When I returned, the safe I had kept it in was open and the staff head was gone. The safe was designed to be fire proof but something burned through it like it was butter. It was not a torch either, it looked to be some kind of magical fire." Most fireballs I had seen thrown could not burn through a safe but Hellfire was something else. I shutters at the thought of it. It meant that either someone had summoned a demon or was linked to a demon like my mother was. I hoped my mother had not traced me here although chances were that she would have been more subtle about stealing the head piece than what the wizard described.

When he paused, I asked, "How about the rest of your house?"

"The rest of the house was ransacked but that might have happened after the person who stole the staff head had already left. One of my neighbors told me that a group of 'African American' males " using the name with distaste, "were seen around my house and that they heard glass breaking. The cops were called but the blacks had already left. I had my 'special' books with me on the trip so they were not stolen. While many valuables were stolen, none of my other books were stolen although my library was trashed. Some of those books were extremely valuable as well and had high value in the magical sense as well."

"I just have a few more questions and items which we need to discuss." I responded. I continued with, "First and foremost is my fee. Don't even think trying to suggest that about telling me that you will tell others if I do not help you. I think you know what my response to that will be?" cutting off any response until I had finished.

He nodded his head, "I would not think about that although I will appeal to your sense of honor. Even though your aura is black, I feel something I can trust about you. I really have no choice anyway. Just think about what danger this artifact might pose in the hands of another, someone who will abuse it. I do understand that you need money to survive as well though. I will pay ten thousand up front, one thousand a day, and an additional ten thousand when you return the headpiece. I will also offer to teach you several spells which were created by my ancestors which are not known outside of my family."

I was going to ask him why he trusted me but he had just answered me and I decided it would be best not to shake his faith. The offer of private family spells was an incredible offer. I was always looking for new magic spells to learn. I added, "Expenses as well. I will need to look at your house as well to see if I can get any traces from it. As soon as we can get the contracts filled out, I can get started."

I was on my way home. I had decided to check out his house the next day and I had already deposited the check he had given to me in my credit union. The clerk appeared to have been only mildly surprised. I had received payments this large before but they were still uncommon. Stopping at the Hardees restaurant on my way home, I had gotten myself dinner as well. A real burger with extra mayo. In addition to emotional energies, I needed to feed off of real food and my stomach had begun to rumble just as I had gotten to the fast food joint. I looked at the clock in my dash and it showed 7:12 PM. It was getting near Halloween and the sun had already gone down.

I lived in what had once been a farm house near North River Park in southern Chesapeake. It had been pretty run down when I had gotten it. Still, it was mine and was well hidden in the woods. I had hired contractors to do some of the work on my house but the bulk of the repair work had been done by Brownies. It had taken me a while to convince them of my good intentions but they had managed to restore the house to a pristine condition. The contractors had been brought in to add a central air unit and bring the electrical system up to modern codes. I had several other features added including a large whirlpool bath.

I was thinking about soaking in the whirlpool bath and not paying enough attention to the traffic on the road. I had picked up an older Ford Taurus sedan which had previously been a police car. Suddenly, I was surrounded by three old pickup trucks with their light off. One pulled in front of me, one pulled in beside me against traffic, and the third was almost at my rear bumper. I knew something was wrong in that moment and then the truck on the left of me slammed into me, trying to force me off the road. The impact spun me into ditch beside the road. A normal might have been badly hurt but being far tougher, I was stunned only for a few moments. Of course, I would need a tow truck to pull my car back out of the ditch unless I could find another way.

That was the least of my concern because I head the racking of a shotgun and the opening of car doors.. Even as tough as I am, I would have a hard time standing up against a shotgun. I jumped out of my car, drawing my pistol. I had gotten myself a used Smith 4516 automatic and drew the pistol as I took cover behind my sedan. Likely it was orginally from the police like my car. I could see six of them. I only saw the one shotgun though. They appeared to be black although I could only seem them partially from my cover. It did matter, they were just hired thugs. I wonder who had hired them. I opened up my mind to them and felt definite lust. One of them said, "Come on out, we need to talk to you. Talk to you about taking the wrong client."

I could pump my lust aura into fear if I wanted to and I considered it time for them to feel the fear they created in others. At the same time, I cast a tiny spell which would allow me to fade into the darkness. I heard one of then say, "Damn, where is she. This was just suppose to be an object lesson." I heard from another, "Get a grip, she is just a bitch."

I would show them how much of a bitch I was. I did not believe in making fights but I needed to give them an object lesson. Activating my talisman bracelet, I created a shield around me. Using a talisman meant that the magical energy did not come from me. It could be described as invisible body armor. Some wizards who grew up on Science Fiction called it a force field. Sometimes it could be penetrated but it usually would protect me against bullets although I would not trust it against a machine gun. It would likely go down quickly.

I gestured and Hellfire flew from my right hand to hit the grill of one of the trucks. The would be rapists jumped as one as the engine exploded. Before they could get over their shock, I gestured again, this time aiming for the gas tank under a second truck. It exploded even more spectacularly that the first, blinding them. Only demons and people tied to humans can summon true Hellfire. Hellfire burned like little else. Elemental fire could be just as intense but not normal wizard's fire. My mother could summon it but it drained her quickly. It was easy for me although my Hellfire was a pale imitation of what my father could summon.

The thug with the shotgun dropped it with the second explosion. A moment later, all six of them ran for the surviving truck. I ducked behind cover again, waiting for the right moment. Three jumped into the cab but three jumped into the bed. The driver gunned the engine, trying to escape as fast as her could. Just as I heard the truck accelerate, I jumped up, using magic to extend my jump, leaped about twenty feet, and grabbed one of the escaping thugs. We fell with him below me to catch my fall. The truck continued to speed away.

Still, I had a prisoner and could ask him some questions about his employer. Grabbing the back of his shirt, I slammed his forehead against the side of first of the burning trucks. I left a dent in the side and I knew I had to be careful not to kill him. "Who hired you?"

Luckily, he was still awake. "Tony, Tony" came his response.

Switching my grip on him and holding my pistol to his head, I asked, "And who might this Tony be?" I never said I was nice and these guys were going to rape me and likely kill me when they were done. As well, it would only be minutes until the police would get here and needed either get out of there or figure out a good story before they arrive. I preferred just leaving because there would be too many questions.

"Tony sells drugs and guns over on Princess Anne. He offered us thousand each to teach you. Doe know his last name. Doe know his last name." He continued mumbling unintelligibly. I thought I knew which Tony he was talking about. I had talked to some police who mentioned him. It helps to socialize with the police and make friends with them. I wondered who had hired him because I did not even know him.

I reached into his back pocket and pulled out a wad of bills. It did not look like a thousand but it was more that you would expect a thug like this to have. I asked, "This come from Tony?" The scum nodded and appeared too terrified to speak. That was good. I tucked the money into my jacket pocket. I could use it to trace this Tony. I considered simply offing this lowlife but it was too much like killing in cold blood. To be honest, I should probably kill him. He would have killed me if the positions were reversed. Still, I couldn't do it. Instead I told him, "Run. Fear me. Fear what I will do if I see you again." Switching my Smith to my left hand, I raised up my right hand and created Hellfire around it. He ran into the woods, stumbling from a bush or a root every few steps. I could feel his fear and to my demon half, it tasted so sweet.

I never like summoning creatures. Most of the books I had read indicate that lesser Earth Spirits are effectively mindless but I was not so sure. Still, I saw no choice if I was to avoid the cops. Mana, magic energy, bled from me as I did a quick summoning and I suddenly felt weak in my knees. Human Wizards usually did this in a circle with a whole group to draw from. I would have preferred to have more time myself and have the proper tools. At least my fire had burned off any paint from the truck which had hit my car. I had touched nothing which would likely leave fingerprints to trace either.

The Earth Spirit coalesced in front of me. It looked like a tower of earth with arms and the impression of a half formed face in clay. Even though they were considered mindless by most wizards, there was no harm in being polite. "Please, could lift up my car and move it back to the road." It walked over to my car and moved it almost effortlessly. I asked, "If you could, rip up the ground here until no trail remains," pointing to where the tire tracks of my could be seen. With enthusiasm as if wanting to be finished, the Earth creature ripped up the ground where my car had been forced from the road. There was no sign of car tracks when the Earth Spirit was done. I gave it one final command, "You may depart in peace." It suddenly became one with the ground again.

It was time to leave myself..

As I pulled into my driveway, the automatic lights came on around my house. I often arrived home late at night and I had them installed a few months ago. I have incredible night vision, far better than any human, but I still cannot see as well in the darkness as I can in sunlight. It was good to be home finally. Because of my need for a stead stream of lovers, I do not get home every night.

Even without the lights, my house was well protected. I could feel that my wards had not been disturbed and the only presence besides my cat was a fox which had investigated the trash cans beside the house for left over food. Like most wizards, I had wards protecting my house which would cause normals to not want to come near my house. It would give them a creepy feeling and the wards would keep most wild animals away as well. It was a pain to drop the wards when I had contractors around but keeping the ward was worth the effort.

Of course they were not designed to deal with major supernatural creatures. That is what I had more powerful defensive wards. They would stun anyone who tried to enter my house without me excluding them from the effects of the wards. It had also triple layered them so if someone was able to get through the first layer, the second or third layer should stop them. I could feel the master wards as I prefer to call them as I entered the front door of the house.

As soon as I closed the door, I could finally relax. I quickly threw my skirt and blouse on the floor with the thong panties I had worn following a few moments later. Then I transformed into my true form. It felt good to return to my true form although I could hold my human appearance virtually indefinitely. First, six foot bat like wings sprouted from my shoulders. I could fly with them even though by the laws of physic it should be impossible. Next, a long tail grew from where the tail bone in a human is. It was almost as prehensile as a monkeys. Less noticeable in my curly hair, I grew a set of small horns. It felt good like getting out of a suit that was just too tight.

A black tail rubbed along my leg as soon as I had tossed off my high heels. I had adopted a giant black tomcat who I had named Sebastian. He weighed as much as many dogs and was quite a bruiser. He was not afraid on anything including the wild animals around my house. I had given him a special collar which I had enchanted to allow him to get through my wards without any harm. I had a small cat door put in so he could go in and out. He probably wanted to get fed. He considered the house his not mine.

While I got my Tomcat a bowl of food, I considered what I would need to do the next day. The first thing would be to see if I could find this Tony and I thought about doing it. I considered hunting him down tonight but thought it best to do tomorrow. It might take me a while to trace him anyway. He would likely be asleep in the morning and could catch him unaware. Second thing would be to examine Mr de Salle's house for signs of the robber of his head piece. Damn, I also would need to have my car repaired. Luckily, I knew a auto body person who did excellent work. Alfred was an alcoholic and never asked many questions.

The house was huge with four bedrooms upstairs, a kitchen, a living room, a dining room, and a den downstairs. In addition, the previous owner had built a workshop in the back of the house. I continued using the workshop as a workshop although of a very type than the previous owner. There were signs around the house that he had been an extremely devote Christian and likely would not like my use of his workshop. Something about "Suffer not a Witch to Live." It was where I worked on virtually all my ritual magic. I would have preferred a basement for that use but few houses in this area even had basements. The water table is simply too high. I had the doors and windows reinforced but there was little more I could do. The room was also protected by a completely independent set of wards .

It was my work room which I headed straight for as soon as I completed my transformation and feeding the cat, folding my wings up to step through the door. I had the floor done in stone tiles soon after I moved in. I had told them that I planned to turn the room into a hot tub room for guests. With a touch of magic, they had believed me. Unfortunately, Brownies lacked the skills to add most modern equipment and I had to hire contractors for such things. A large marble table dominated the center of my work room and I laid down the cash from the scum on the table. Looking at it closer, it looked to be over five hundred and was folded and worn. The bill were not particularly new.

Doing impressions on money is never much funny. They say that money is the root of all evils and it is not far off. Actually, I would say that religion is the root of even greater evil but many disagree with me. Still, all that evil becomes part of the money and you can see much of that evil when attempting to get impressions off the money. Much of the dollars in the country have found their way into drug deals. The FBI says that virtually all cash has traces of cocaine on it. There is little honor among drug dealers and many end badly. Still, it was the best lead I had on finding this Tony. I debated if I should do an impression on the cash together. It would give a stronger impression but there would likely be many other random images than a single bill would give.

I fished through the money to find one of the larger bills. I found a fifty and began chanting over it. I felt the power build. I had used a lot of energy with the summoning of the Earth Spirit but had some reserves left. As I expected, the first impression I got was of a drug deal followed by a shooting. I kept concentrating. A office worker bringing another office worker on a date. That was a steamy one. It made me feel a little sad with longing because there appeared to be genuine love as well. The visions flashed again. I recognized the vision as on a street corner of Princess Anne near a convenience store. I recognized a face. It looked like the descriptions of Tony which I had been given in the past. I saw another give him a fifty along with several other bills in return for a pistol. I did not know what type of gun it was although likely it was a junk gun. I saw Tony pocket the money. Trying to hold onto the vision was not easy but eventually I saw Tony walk into an apartment complex. I had him. He would have an unexpected guest tomorrow. A plan was coming to me as well.

Sitting down on a chair in my work room, I waited until my vision cleared. I still needed to cast several more spell and work on some research tonight but I could afford to take a break. It did not take huge amounts of magical energy but it did take a while for your vision to completely clear. It was not spell you wanted to cast if you were concerned about being attacked.

After about five minutes, I decided it was time to start on my second spell. First, I pushed the cash to the side. It might interfere with any reading I might try. I then cast a quick cleansing ritual. The ritual took almost no magical energy and would prevent previous impressions from interfering with the spell. I then pulled the picture which Mr de Salle had given me and laid it in the center of the table. I began chanting a spell to locate the object. It is a similar spell to the one I used to trace the money but it was far harder to get impressions from a photograph. Still, it was all I had for the moment. Again, I began chanting, focusing magical energy into the photo. Nothing, it just skimmed over like there was nothing there. It did not feel like anyone was blocking me just that there was not enough to get any clear impressions.

With no clear impressions on the picture, it left me with no need to cast any more spells for the moment. I wanted to see if there was any source material on the head piece. I did a quick cleansing of the table again and grabbed the picture as I headed out. Always dissipate the magical energies so they do not become permanent. Locking the door as I exited, I turned to go into my library. It had once been the den and like my work room, I always kept it locked when I was not in it. Many of the books in there were one of a kind and others had only a handful printed. A few I had taken with me when I decided to strike out on my own. Still, most I had acquired over the last four years.

There was a mystic shop in a converted house in Norfolk on Chesapeake Street. It was in an area called "Five Points." In the back of the shop, the owner had a secret section with true books of magic and extremely valuable histories. The books were extremely expensive and unless you were gifted, you could not even see the door to the secret section. I always paid with cash and did a complete cleansing of the books because I was always concerned about where the books had originally come from. I had also collected some of the books from Estate Sales where the owners did not know what they had.

I wondered if the owner of the Mystic Shop could have been the one who stole the staff head for a moment. My gut told me no but there was no evidence one way or the other. I certainly got a feeling of amorality from the owner but this just did not seem to be her style. Still, I needed to consider her as a possible suspect. It was also quite likely that she might have gotten some hints of an extremely powerful object in his possession either from him or others. She was extremely well connected. It was also quite possible that she had visited her shop. Of course, she would be the first suspect and would know this.

I did not have many books on Ancient Egypt and it was something I needed to correct when I got a chance. A great deal of magical artifacts came from there and were known only inside magical circles. Many of the tomb raiders throughout time had been wizards of one type or another. Many of the better known spells had been created by wizards living in the Nile river valley during the height of the Egyptian Empire. They had held the supernatural back from their river nation although they had been unable to defeat armies from their borders. The last gasp had been under Cleopatra who was considered to be one of the most powerful sorceresses who ever lived. Her loss was sad in many ways. Much of her knowledge was lost along with her. I pulled the first book from the shelf. Even though my Egyptian section was tiny, it promised to be a long night.

It was not until past four in the morning that I finished in the library. I had not found out much. Definitely not as much as I would have liked. There were several other historical head pieces from Egypt but none which exactly fit the picture exactly. There was one which was close known as "Headpiece of Thoth." While there was no photo with the item, the drawing of it showed it had a similar appearance and was an incredible battery for magical energy from the description as well. It also appeared to have been found around the same time as the one I was looking for. That artifact was thought to be in the possession of a old and powerful English wizard. Wizards, being generally normal humans who have learned magic, are the most common beings in tune with the supernatural. While the wizards of England were getting old and new wizard populations were popping around the world include a huge number in Salem Massachusetts, likely the largest population of wizards was still in England and some of the most powerful wizards in the World resided there. Few would want to go against them to acquire an artifact. I certainly wouldn't want to.

Just before walking up the stairs to my bedroom, I laid out some sweets and milk for the Brownies. Sebastian had learned to leave the Brownies along after they had covered him in red and blue bows. I had taken the largest room for my own. Like the rest of the house, I had the room completely redone since moving in. I had also split the room closest to it. Half had become a large walk-in closest. Hey, a woman has to have her necessities such as mini-skirts and shoes. The other half had been converted in a master bathroom where I put in the large whirlpool tub. It was not quite a true hot tub but it was close. While I had refinished the other bedrooms as well, I had never actually had any guests for them.

I had personally added a lot of touches of humor into my room. All along the walls where shelves which contained plush toys which were basically various devils. That latest one I had picked up was a T.Y. Bear which was dressed in a little devil costume. I had done the walls of my room up in various tones of red including deep red shag carpeting. Looking around my room, the whirlpool looked inviting from the open bathroom door but I did not really have the time. I needed to be up in a few hours to see Tony. I turned down the sheets in my bed and prepared to take a fast shower. My mind was already on what I needed to do when I woke up.

Slamming Tony against the wall with my left hand over his mouth, I uttered an artful moan so that the residents in the other room would not be the wiser. The sheet rock cracked where his head had struck the wall. I whispered to Tony, "You yell, I will crush your throat and don't think I can't do it." He was being held where his feet dangled above the ground and I could see fear in his eyes. That was as I wanted it. While I was far stronger than any normal human, I had to be careful to brace because he did weigh quite a bit more than I did. Luckily, Tony did not seem to be much of a fighter, preferring shooting over using his fists.

The plan had worked like a charm. There is a relatively simple illusion spell which allows me to change my appearance. A person of true power would not have been fooled. The illusion I had chosen was a black woman who was pretty attractive but had let her looks go. It was pretty common among women hooked on drugs. I had simply pulled out some of the older cloths from my closet and had roughed them up a bit more. The torn top showed all the more of my cleavage. I went up to Tony's house while acing jittery and pretending to be in need of a fix while projecting for him to trust me. It did not take much. As soon as he gave in, I told him that I was a little short of the money need to buy a bag and would he accept services in return. At the same time, I changed my aura to flame his lust. It had already been burning. I had to be careful so that he would not rip my cloths off on the street. He had lead me into a bedroom through a crowd of other people who seemed half zoned out. After the bedroom door had closed and he had dropped him pants, the gloves were off. My fist in his gut had knocked the wind out of him. I am not much of a brawler but I know how to throw a good sucker punch. What followed was business mixed with pleasure.

Not much of a bedroom, like the rest of the apartment. The walls were of unpainted sheet rock with outlets with no covers. The ceiling had a light fixture with two bare bulbs in the socket. The bed was bare on a metal bed frame. The stains on the bed made it look like it was not the first time that he had taken services in return for drugs. Dirt was ground into the ancient brown carpets. Dust covered almost everything and it looked no where in the apartment had been cleaned in years. Incredible because in the living room, the stereo looked to be worth about a thousand dollars. As well, there was a BMW in front of the house which looked to be his. I had parked my own car several blocks away and had used some low powered wards to prevent anyone from messing with it.

I kept my right hand as I removed my left hand carefully. "You hired some of your friends to attempt to dissuade a female private investigator. Last night, they tried to run her off the road. They planned to rape her and then possibly kill her. Yes. Nod your head." He nodded his head vigorously and I continued with, "I know that you did not do it on your own. I want to know who contracted the job to you?

He was smart enough not to yell but was not smart enough to reason out the situation, "You work for her. I pay you more. I have good stuff."

Wagging the index finger of my left hand in front of his face, I replied, "I don't deal. I don't work for dealers. I want a name. I want the right name." I was whispering to him but pressed harder on his neck with my other hand.

It was the response I expect and it might even be true. Tony responded, "Can't tell you. He kill me."

Very mildly, I responded, "I am the one who has you dangling off the ground with my hand on your throat. Think about that."

"Who are you" he choked at me. I would have to be careful with my grip or I would end up strangling him and not get the information which I needed.

I reduced my grip slight and simply answered, "Who do you think I am." and strengthened my aura of fear while staring directly up into his eyes.

"I don't care who you are. Don't want to know. He into black magic. He show you what real power means. I have seen it." Well, it sounded likely that it was the sorcerer who stole the head piece although still far from conclusive.

"You have yet to see what black magic is. Maybe I should tear your soul out and eat it." still pumping an aura of fear at him.

I could feel him break suddenly, "I know him as Mr Morgan. He has powerful friends."

"So what is your relationship to Mr Morgan,"keeping the fear aura up but making my voice slightly sultry.

"He gets me Hell Dust. Primo stuff" Suddenly, much more made sense. Hell Dust is magically enchanted Crack Cocaine. Not just magic but black magic from Hell itself. It was even more addictive than Crack, absolutely one hundred percentage addictive. Unlike normal drugs, you could not detox from the drug either. Only a powerful wizard or a psychic healer could purge the evil drug. Addiction treatment centers could never do anything for these people and they usually just died from the withdrawal. That was not the worst part of the drug. The drug lasted far longer than Crack and had the effect of making a person on the drug follow their most evil impulses. There were cases of a man murdering everybody around him and then just coating himself in the blood of his victims and simply laughing. Like I can feed off of emotions, people on the drug feed from emotions. While I can feed off of lust, in the case of the drug it is fear and pain.

The only people who can make Hell Dust are those who have formed a link with a Greater Demon or a Demon Lord. It also explained why he could use Hellfire. I might be able to on my own but never planned to. The ritual involved in making the stuff was pretty complex and involved expended a large amount of Mana in the casting. It also involved human sacrifices, something I had sworn to never do since having escaped from my parents grip. The stuff is horrible and it stole the soul of its user. Often dealers would give the first taste for free and then start charging more and more per hit. Of course, the profit from the Hell Dust was not the primary reason why the sorcerer normally created it but the fear and pain which it created in its wake.

"Hell Dust is it. So tell me where he lives." continuing to purr although my eyes flashed murder back at this trash. At least he did not use it himself. It might have allowed him to see through my simple illusion. Hell Dust has a habit of opening up a person's magic senses.

"He lives at 1862 Ocean Point, in Virginia Beach." It was one of the wealthier areas of Virginia Beach if it was where I though it was. It was one of the newer waterfront communities. Large Condos, extremely expensive, but soulless. It also meant he would likely have a boat to escape. He stopped for a moment but continued, "Does matter, no one gets through his security. Won't prove anything either. He knows the Mayor and Chief of Police."They all seemed to say that, no matter if it was true or not. It was certainly possible.

"So why did he tell you to get that female private investigator?" I asked.

"He told me that the bitch was getting to close to him and that she had ties with the cops. I was to scare her but not to kill her. He payed me ten grand to send her the message. I heard she was quite a fox and thought the guys could have some fun with her. She hire you?"

I just shook my head and dropped him to the floor. I made another artful moan although one of the men in the other room yelled, "Hey, keep it down."

I whispered at Tony, "You will leave her alone or you will be seeing me again. Just in case you did not get the message," I put my left hand back over his mouth while squeezing back on his index finger. I heard an audible crack. I broke his right middle finger after that. Taking my time, I made sure he got my message. Unfortunately, he

lost consciousness about half way through the lesson. Even if the lesson did not take, it would be a while before he got the use of his fingers back. He would not be shooting anybody. Picking him up, I dropped him on the bed. It was a hard job because he was likely over twice my weight and was ungainly when unconscious. The springs creaked alarmingly but the bed held. I spread out the scene to make an illusion of what the others though had happened. While I was doing that, I made sure I gave the others in the other room what they though was happened. I uttered a bunch of moans followed by a bunch of screams increasing in pitch. I heard one of them mutter that they wish they were in the room instead of Tony. He would find out in time.

I took a few minutes to put my cloths in disarray and to give enough time to have redressed. Also, I checked the room out quickly. He had a big stash of bills in a box under the bed. I debated about keeping them or leaving them. Greed eventually won out. I am a devil after all and a girl has expenses. I grabbed what I could and stuffed it into my purse. He also had a Glock .40 cal pistol. Never really liked Glock pistols but obviously he did not believe in using what he sold. Using a tissue so I would not get any fingerprints on it, I stuffed into a plastic back and slid the bag in my purse.

Stepped from the bedroom, I said "I guess I was just too much for him" motioning to him lying on the bed seemingly sated. I headed for the front door and out of this filthy place. I could drop my illusion once I got to my car and drove the Hell out of here.

I thought about checking on Mr Morgan but decided instead to head for Mr de Salle's house. Even though I thought I knew who had stolen the staff head now, I still wanted to talk to my client more about what had happened. I knew nothing about Mr Morgan and hoped that my employer might know a little bit.

Instead of taking the time to go back home or to my office, I had carried a change of cloths in a gym bag. I went to a gas station and simply changed in the rest room. It also have me a chance to wash up and fix my make up. I wanted to wash the filth from Tony's apartment from my hands. I had been really careful not to get any of my cloths rumpled. I was now dressed in a carefully tailored hot pink woman's business suit with a white silk blouse partially unbuttoned. When I was working, I liked to look sexy but I did not like to look trashy.

The wizards house was in one of the nicer sections of Norfolk. Although it appeared to be an older house, it looked like Mr de Salle had kept it in good shape before it had been wrecked by intruders. The walls themselves were of brick and the house looked like it had been built to be incredibly strong. While the lot which it was built on was fairly small, the careful use of trees had enable him to have some privacy. Most wizards value their privacy. Of course, it also would have made it easier for the house to be broken into.

I parked my car in the driveway next to a Lincoln Town Car. The dark grey car was not a new one but appeared to be in good condition. I had made arrangements to drop my Taurus at the shop to get the dent repaired. In the back seat, I already had two bottles of Alfred's favorite whiskey. He was not a violent drunk and it never seemed to effect his work. We all have our addictions.

The windows had been boarded up and the front door had been replaced. Along the sides of the street were work trucks from various general contractor companies which I had seen on television ads. Occasionally, I do watch some television. Some of them I had even used myself. It would appear that Clarence de Salle had been able to persuade his insurance to pay up. Well, wizards often have a way with people.

As I stepped out from under the wards on my car, I could feel the remains of the wards on his house. They felt like that had been extremely strong and the collapsing was still resonating. I could feel much weaker wards which he had put in their place. They should keep out anyone normal who tried to break into the house and at least give him warning of others powerful enough to pass through them.

Some of the contractors were really cute. All that work had given them tight butts and nice muscles. While walking up to the front door, I decided to twitch my own butt and give a look at the possibilities. It was always good to see what potential prospects were out there. There were several admiring glances. One was especially handsome. He was carrying a new window over to the house.

I knocked twice and the door opened. At the same moment, I felt him create a hole in his wards for me to pass through. My client had been already waiting next to the door and he motioned for me to enter. He appeared even sadder than her had the day before. I asked, "Could you please show me where you kept the antique. We need to make sure it was properly safeguarded before paying out on the claim," attempting to make it look like I was an insurance adjuster. It was quite likely that he had been having visits of them all day long.

While the outside appeared bad enough, the inside of his house was far more trashed than the outside had appeared to be much worse. It had once been an incredible interior, as much a museum as a place to live. I winced at some of the valuable items I saw crushed on the floor. It took less than a minute before he led me to a room in the middle of the house where there had been a large safe anchored to the floor. The room appeared to have been his work room as well as where he stored the magical artifact.

I could see the melting of the safe's door. The sorcerer had been incredibly precise to have burned through the door the way he had. I was also surprised he had not burned the house down in the process. I wondered if he had wanted to leave a message. One thing was definite. It was hellfire. Only one fire burned that way, that was hellfire. I could feel the very presence of it, kind of a stink of corruption. I breathed the word “Hellfire” and suddenly Mr de Salle's face went white.

I walked over to the safe and laid a hand on it. I began chanting and focusing on impressions from the twisted metal. It had obviously been here for years because most of my impressions were of the owner. I saw several images of him handling the head piece and it appeared to match the picture which I had been given.

The visions switched suddenly. A figure, throwing hellfire. I could almost feel the presence of a demon behind the figure. A relief. I got a glimpse of long white hair, looked like a woman's hair. The figure also appeared to be rather slender. I wonder if I was wrong thinking it was this Mr Morgan. The aura felt female. Black aura, as dark as my mothers, although definitely not hers. Unless this individual served the same Demon Lord, it was unlikely that my mother knew where I was. Most Greater Demons and Demon Lords simply do not work together. Still, I got no impression where the staff head might be now.

I sat on the floor for a few minutes to get my bearings back. Eventually the real world came back. I stated "It was definitely someone with a link to demons. I think whoever did this sold their soul to a Greater Demon or a Demon Lord. Who do you know with connections like that?"

My client stammered out, "I don't know anyone like that."

I turned to look him straight in the eyes and asked simply, "Do you know a Mr Morgan." Suddenly, I saw shock. Not letting my gaze change, I bored straight in, trying to make him talk.

Mr de Salle found his voice after a few moments, "I know him. Extremely wealthy. I knew he was into some disreputable activities but I never knew he had dealings with demons. He." My client stopped for a few moments. "He stole my daughter. My wife and I had a daughter before my wife died. Her name is Rebecca. She was incredibly smart and gifted. I began teaching her the ways of magic but she never had the patience. She wanted to gain the abilities without all of the studying and focusing I was trying to teach her. She thought that the head piece was the solution to all of her problems. Then she met Mr Morgan. He promised her power without all the work which I forced on her. As you might expect, they became lovers. He changed her into something corrupt, something evil. I hoped she would change but never. Last I heard, they had left the area, supposedly vowing to never return." and I could see he was crying.

What he just told me changed the attack from being a stranger to being an inside job. I don't know why I had not asked him who would know about the relic. Of course, I had thought I could find out through my magic. While the cases seemed to be coming together incredibly well, I did not like the way it was heading. Fighting two powerful mages who have linked themselves with demons, especially with the head piece, would tax even my abilities. I would need to come up with a plan.

I saw one problem right away and figured I better address it straight off, "Mister de Salle, if I can call .you Clarence." He nodded his head and I continued, "Clarence, you realize how dangerous your daughter could be with the staff head and being linked to a demon?" He nodded his head against and I continued, "I know more about demons than anyone else I know including likely Mister Morgan. Allowing her, or Mister Morgan, to keep it would be disastrous. It may come down to a fight between her and I. I am sure you can guess at the potential consequences of that?"

He nodded his head again although this time he answered as well, "Miss Darkwald, I know. You might have to 'take her out' as might be the term you prefer." I grimaced at the term but did not otherwise answer. "I cannot help you do it." I could only imagine how it felt to have a daughter turn against him in this way. I knew that my mother did not feel this way. She would consider me to simply be a weak fool.

"I can try to capture her but if she has willing made a pact with demons, there is little that I can do. I don't know yet. Mr Morgan is making Hell Dust and I cannot imagine from your tone that your daughter is an unwilling participant." I stopped for a moment and asked, "I need from you a picture of her if you have one."

Wordlessly, he handed me a picture from his wallet. The first thing that struck me was the long white hair. She was extremely attractive and had an angel face. A face of a person who you would never expect to have dealings with demons. In the picture, she was dressed in a white sweater and a simple white skirt, making her even more innocent looking than she would be otherwise. Of course she had light blue eyes which seemed soft. She probably had hidden her evil from her father for years under that appearance of innocense. He stated dryly, "You can keep the picture" expecting that to be my next question.

It seemed to be a good time to leave. I decided to fib a little bit just incase he decided to interfere. I stated, "I have a few more projects I need to work on. I will call you before I make an attempted to get the artifact. It will likely be a few days." I was not planning to wait a few days but go after them as soon as possible. I did not want to warm him just incase he decided for blood over honor. I turned and left quickly, letting myself out before he reacted.

I needed to get that young man's cell phone number before I left though.

Sitting in the Norfolk Public Library, I was looking up what I could on Mr Morgan. I had decided on the library instead of my office. I had checked my messages and there did not appear to be any new potential clients. In front of me, I had my laptop and I would type in notes every few minutes. It was a bit old and beat up but it still worked well.

Before visiting the library, I had spent a bit of Tony's money. There were several nice restaurants in the mall next to the library but I decided to go a restaurant which is in a converted church. I guess I get a kick going into churches. Besides, it was Tony's money and it is certain that he never had the class to go anywhere like this. Might as well have some fun with it. Still, the waiter seemed to be immune to my charms when I tried to flirt with him. What a a disappointment. Probably gay.

There was actually a surprising amount of information to be found. What I found out was disturbing. He was very wealthy. He had returned to the Tidewater area about six months ago and had started up a new church. Apparently it was doing very well and he likely had the connections which Tony had told me about. Of course with the image which he had been projecting, the Mayor and the Chief of Police might simply have been duped by him. At least I was able to finally get a picture of Mr Morgan. He was a strongly built man although the way the picture had been taken was to make him look extremely wise. Steel grey eyes made him look patrician.

Mr de Salle's daughter name was given as Angela or simply Angel. Basically, Mr Morgans assistant. Mentally, I considered her to be the Fallen Angel. From the picture of her in the paper, she appeared a bit older than she had in Mr de Salle's picture but still projected an innocent impression. From an interview, the reporter seemed to think that she was incredibly innocent, and reading between the lines, even a bit naive. When the reported suggested that she and Mr Morgan were lovers, she had seemed shocked and had talked about being in the service of the "Lord" and that true faith would always prevail. It appeared that she had at least that reporter fooled. She was suppose to be in charge of his special projects. Stuff like healing the sick. She also was supposed to be in charge of the churches ministry to the prisoners. Several inmates had been released through the help of the church. They were suppose to work for the church now.

I was trying to see if I could find out who had been commissioned to build his house. It was only a few months old. One of the records was interesting. The land which his house was built on had to have been re-zoned. It had originally been listed as wetlands which could not be built on. He seemed to have payed the right people to get his house build. I wondered why he had his house built there.

I had dropped my car off at the shop before heading to the library. He had said it would take him several hours to get the work down at it and it would be better if I was to leave it overnight. With that, I had decided to rent a car. A nice brand new red convertible Mustang, perfect for what I was planning. Maybe it was time to do a bit of cruising.

One of the aspects of the Tidewater area which I really like is that the weather is really cold. It was mid October but the days were still in the low eighties or high seventies. Today was actually pretty warm even compared to normal and was almost ninety. I had swung by my office to get changed into something with would fit with how a babe might dress while cruising the beach.

Wow, what a gorgeous beach bum I though as I drove. Tight buns and even better built than the construction worker who I had seen earlier. By his haircut, I think he was a navy guy. Maybe a diver. He looked scrumptious. I pulled my red mustang over to where he was standing and pretended to be lost, "Hey there, I am from Cincinnati and I am lost. Could you give me some directions." I bent down over the car door to show my nice chest confined by the hot pink halter top which I had chosen. As I showed him my charms, I began to bring up a bit lust.

He walked over to my car and replied, "Wow, great car. Madam, where are you looking for?" Definitely a Navy guy from how polite he was being. His voice seemed to brim with power. I judged that it would best to let him feel like the master based on his tone.

I could tell by his expression that he was appreciating the view. That was fine. My reply was, "I am looking for the Sea Shell Hotel. Perhaps if I bring out my map, you can show me how to get back?" which was one of the hotels along Shore Drive. I was feeling a bit frustrated with the situation and thought that some one on one would relieve that frustration. He was definitely a hunk. I looked down at the shorts he was wearing, which was all he was wearing, and saw that the lump was quite satisfactory. My body got a bit hot and I felt my nipples hardening under the halter top. I hoped he would notice. I slowly increased the amount of lust which I was transmitting.

Just a few minutes before, I had finished looking at Mr Morgan's house. The magical wards around my house have a tinge of black due to my aura but nothing like this. The whole house, and it was huge, was surrounded by a greasy blackness. I had never seen this level of evil outside my mother's house. There was death involved. Many deaths. The wards were extremely powerful. I definitely did not want to fight my way through the wards. As well, the house had a tall stone wall around it with a guard post there. I could see movement in the guard post although dark tinted glass prevented me from seeing the person clearly. Where there was one guard, there were likely more. I should probably have gone up to the guard post and pretended to ask for directions but I did not want to potentially tip my hand.

Back to the hunk, I opened up the car door to stand up and brought the map out from between the seats. As soon as I climbed from the car, I dropped the map. Bending down to pick up the map, I made sure that he could get a good view of my rear. As I bent over, the skirt flipped up so he would have an unobstructed view. Under my short pink mini-skirt I had worn a thong. While a bit uncomfortable, I like thongs. I make a quick sly glance and it appeared as if the game was working quite well.

Laying the map on the hood of the rental and leaning towards it, I asked, "Can you show me where I am?" The map was on completely the wrong page.

The hunk responded, "You have your map on the wrong page, Madam."

I turned around to face him, moving myself inside of his personal zone, my lips just a short ways from his. I could smell sweat and salt from the ocean. He had apparently been swimming most of the day. I replied, "Cindy."It felt like the right name. I gave him a slightly evil grin while my eyes told him to take me to bed. I grabbed his hand gently. Sometimes I like to take things slow but this time I wanted the fire.

He replied quietly, "Cindy, I am Daniel." His hand grasped my as he told me his name. After a moment, he took a step forward and boxed me against the side of the Mustang. Things appeared to be progressing quite well.

A little over six hours later, I was pulling the Mustang into the driveway of my home. My interlude with Daniel had relieved much of my frustration with dealing with Mr Morgan. He shared a house with several other sailors but none of them had been home. He had been quite talented although I had the feeling that he would get tiring after a while. It would be too easy to damage his ego. Many Navy divers seemed to have that ego. Between wrestling in the sheets, all he seemed to do is talk about how wonderful he was. Still, it had been fun. With some reluctance, I had told Daniel that I had a flight back to Ohio in the morning and had to get packed. The flash of magic enforced the belief in his mind. With the success with the Mustang, I considered than maybe I should get one of my own. I had taken the back way home just incase someone had planned a second ambush. The ride had actually been pretty quiet and there had been almost no one on the streets once I had left the main roads.

I need to plan an alternate course of action. I could not settle for simply stealing the head piece back. First, it was just as likely that he would simply try and get it back again. Second, they was simply too powerful for me to allow to continue operating. Who knows what they would even bring down on the area. The distributing of Hell Dust was already bad enough.

If he used a security contractor, I might be able to sneak into the house that way. It was unlikely. It would me much easier if he had gotten hand picked men for his security, likely the inmates which his lover had managed to get released. As well, he had the house built custom and who knows what secrets it contained. He also likely had a boat and would give him an alternate means of escape. I might have no choice but it was definitely not my first choice.

There was the possibility of his church. It was likely they would have security there as well but it might be easier to get to them in the church. As well, I could enter into the church, pretending to be a potential new convert to the church. Every churches which I ever had known was always looking for new converts. How else would they keep up the donations which the priest used to put a new Jacuzzi behind his house. In many ways, the supposed servants of God can be just as corrupt as those serving the darker forces. At least those serving the dark forces were honest about it. I would need to find out what time his services were and would prefer to get a good look at his church before going in. It might take several days to get everything properly set up.

That was for tomorrow. As I parking beside the house, my main thoughts were for a hot soak in my whirlpool bath. I missed it last night. The almost scalding water jets would feel wonderful. After that, some sleep.

There is a commercial on television for a church. It has two bouncers who would select people to be allowed into the church while others would be barred at the doors. In front of the doors of Mr Morgan's church, there were two goons who reminded me of the church guards in the commercial. They were dressed in black sweaters and black khaki pants. While I could not seen any guns, they each had ear mikes. Every so often, they would press their fingers on the side of their face. These goons did not try and stop anyone from entering but they still reminded me of that commercial.

It took me a while to get good auras from the guards because they did not seem to practice magic on their own. The aura of the goons was strange although not especially strong. It was grey with lines of black traveling through it. The black streaks seemed to come from their associating with some kind of powerful evil, perhaps Mr Morgan and company. While they did not seem truly evil, I wondered to myself if their aura should actually be green. The green of money that is. In effect, they seemed to be mercenaries from the aura. I got the feeling that they would do anything as long as their employer continued to pay them.

Most church services are in the morning but a solid minority of church services are in the evening. In that, this church was not too unusual. The sun fell early at this time of year and it was full dark. The parking lot around the church was well lit although I had found the darkest corner which I could to park. The church exterior was well lit, allowing me to see the two guards quite clearly as well as the church itself.

The church's aura was even more ominous even though I had looked at it yesterday. It was black and the whole place had an unwholesome feeling. Still, it was without the raw power which I could feel coming from Mr Morgan's house. The doors were open as if inviting people into the church and bright light could be seen coming from the interior. Even so, to me it felt like they were giant jaws getting ready to spring shut. Painted white, the church itself was a large structure. While not as new as Mr Morgan's house, the church appeared to be quite new in construction. From what I read, it had only been built about three years ago. The church had been payed for by anonymous donations. It had previous been under another pastor but he had died about eight months ago and Mr Morgan had taken over the church.

I was as ready as I could be. In addition to driving by the church yesterday, I had charged up my shield talisman. It would give me some protection if all hell broke loose. I kind of wondered how literal I should take that thought. Involving demons, it could be entirely too close to the truth. My magical reserves were full and I was as ready for battle as I could be. I had decided to not carry my normal pistol but instead carry the one which I had borrowed from Tony. I had a conceal carry permit and the pistol was tucked into my purse, still in a plastic bag. I planned to use gloves and figured that the pistol would be traced back to Tony if I had to discard it.

Reluctantly, I got out of the car. It would be best if I entered early so that I could chose where to sit. I had held onto the rental car for a few more days. At least a quick check of its registration would not trace it back to me. I had decided to dress quite conservatively for me. I had worn a well tailored black suit with a skirt. It was not extremely revealing but still had a feeling of sexiness. I had it tailored for a funeral. I had been to several funerals as part of my job. Red and hot pink simply does not work for funerals. I already had black leather gloves on. I had finished my look with a set of black hose and a set of black leather high heels. Looking at some of the others, I appeared to fit in pretty well.

While looking at the other people entering the church, I noted that many of their auras were quite black. Not a majority but enough to make it clear that some of the church followers were willing participants in his darker rituals. I walked slowly up the steps into the church myself, my high heels clattering on the concrete. I considered transmitting an aura of fear but was worried about who might be able to feel it. When I walked by the two goons, they did not seem to react. One hurdle passed.

Entering the church, I looked around. At first glance it appeared normal but to my mystic senses, something was definitely off kilter. The inside was laid out as a conventional church with an altar towards the rear of the church and benches set in rows. I sat down near the doors. It should allow me to escape faster if needed, allow me a better view of events, and hopefully hid my aura when mixed with so many other members. The church was an expensive edifice with a raised altar. There was the suggestion of religious symbols but I was surprised that there were no actual crosses. Around the huge room, I could see where the locations of hidden speakers.

Slowly, people filed into the church. Virtually every seat was taken by the times the goons closed the doors. Whatever else could be said, Mr Morgan had quite a following. I recognized some of the people entering as prominent members of the community. Most of them I had never actually seen in person, only through the media. Only a handful of the people in the church did not seem to have some sort of magical mark on them. I wonder if that was how he marked his own.

Now that I could view them directly, many of the auras of those entering the church were quite black. I noticed that most of the ones with dark auras sat near the altar. Normal human evil rarely leaves such a darkness on the soul. Only openly serving demons or other supernatural evil will normally leave a stain on the soul like this. Only wizards and supernatural beings seem to develop an aura on their own. Of course, I was born half demon and there was no way I could get the stain of evil from me. Not very fair but I had to live with it.

From the rest, I got only flashes. Some good, some evil. Basically, what your expect from most normal humans. Her and there I got a flash of guilt. Something they wanted to purge. I wished them luck. This was the wrong church to go to if you wanted to purge evil.

With a loud thunk, the doors to the church shut. A second loud noise, this time more of a ringing sound heralded the bolts of the door locking. For some reason, it felt like being locked into a prison. I knew I could blow the door off the hinges with Hellfire but the locking of the doors still made me feel trapped. Covertly, I looked at the people beside me and the noise did not seem to be bothering them. Instead, they seemed to be looked raptly at where the altar was.

Music started playing, unusual for a church. Something like one might expect but is seemed to me to have evil undertones. In honesty, it could have been my own imagination playing tricks on me. The lights dimmed until the room was in virtually complete darkness. A single spotlight lit up the altar. With my night vision, I could see two men in business suits walking in. To me, they seemed to walk like body guards. They were definitely different creatures than the guards outside. Blackness, stronger that I had seen in a long time clung to them. Still, the strength of the evil inside did not come near what I remember from my mother. Of course, they did not appear to be practitioners of the arts themselves which might make the difference.

Behind them came the fallen angel. Mr de Salle's daughter looked even more attractive and more innocent in person. Her angelic appearance was further enhanced by her dress. It was cut from multiple layers of what looked liked white silk. Although it did not truly hide her figure, it de-emphasized it so that she would not be a sexual figure. Her sleeves hung down almost as if they were angel wings. Silver jewelry shined from her neck. An unbidden though came to my mind. Her makeup was subtle and designed to further enhance her innocent image. She knew how to enhance her charms and had the skill of dressing for success. It would be the job of a 'reformed' demon to stop a fallen angel

As I had expected, her aura betrayed her. It almost stunned me and I fully expected Mr Morgan's aura to be just as bad. Few auras I have ever seen have been as corrupt and as stained as my mothers. One of the few was the one in front of me now. It was obvious from her aura that she was an accomplished sorceress although her power was not up to my league. It appeared that Mr Morgan and the demon had taught her well.

The fallen angel walked to the altar and I heard the speakers keying on. The spotlight had the effect of making her practically glow. She began to hum and her voice seemed to carry a sadness on it. Suddenly, my defenses came up. She was projecting something at the same time using her humming to carry the magic. In the magic was a lulling peace, trying to lower the defenses of those listening. Those who succumb would believe practically anything they were told. The rapt expressions of those beside me appeared even stronger when I took a quick glance at those beside me. I began to feel an under current from the humming. It was whispering of power. A message inside of a message. It did not go beyond there but seemed to hang in the air.

After the end of her song, the regular church service began. Something was wrong with the basic service but I did not know what it was. Even though I may be half demon, there is nothing stopping me from entering a church. It is the teachings that I agree with. The concept that I am a sinful slut that needs to crawl of my knees for forgiveness for being born is something I simply cannot understand. My father was a demon but I believe that I stand or fall on my own merits. I had met many smug people who considered themselves saved due to Jesus who were among the most hate filled beings I had ever met. Just about every inmate when trying to get released from prison seems to talk about having found Jesus.

I realized what it was missing from this church service. I never heard an actual mention of Jesus. The big lie was very carefully crafted and designed to honor the demon which gave this church its power. They exalted him as their savior. Many of the church followers, those who had not been inducted into the higher circles, where unaware of this but they were feeding his power anyway. I had the feeling that this demon was less powerful than my father although he had a large source of power in this church.

The whole service seemed to building towards something. It seemed a good assumption that it was the sermon of Mr Morgan. Before that, the collection plates were brought out. At the same time, Rebecca began singing again. Her song was loaded with suggestions to donate heavily. A normal mortal would have a hard time not falling for the angel's song. I could see the flash of green beside me while multiple crisp hundred dollar bills were placed on the offering plate by a gentleman on the right side of me. On the left of me, an older women wrote a check for five hundred dollars. If this was the average donations which this church got, they had likely collected about one hundred thousand dollars just today. While most were well dressed, I had to wonder what happened when they ran out of money. Reluctantly, I pulled some of Tony's bills out and dropped four hundred dollars on the plate myself. I did not like 'donating' the money to this den of evil but did not want to look suspicious.

As I had expected, the sermon began soon after. This was my first glimpse of Mr Morgan besides the grainy photo from the paper and I did not like what I saw. He was dressed in grey clerical robes. They were incredibly well fitted and you could see where at least some of the donations were going. His aura was black as darkness when you are afraid that day will never come again. This was no worse than the fallen angel but he had a mantle of power which she seemed to lack. Not magical power, which was quite strong in him as well, but in the ability to influence others. He appeared to look directly at me. I worried for a moment that he had spotted me.

In front of him, he had what appeared to be a locked book but its aura definitely seemed to show it as something else. A strong and ancient came from the center of the book. It appeared that he had the book hollowed out and had put the head piece inside of the book. With the use of the head piece, his magic aura was just a little less than mine and his experience was likely greater than mine. For all my power, I am still very young and a bit inexperienced. Fighting him and the fallen angel together would be a challenge.

He started with, "Praise be to our Lord who fills us with his power. Almighty is our Lord. He who protects us from those who would strike us down. It is only true his power that we are saved and rescued from this wretched world. You must bow to him and let his glory fill you. You must give yourself to him. If you put your faith in him, someday you will all be kings and queens. When he comes back, you will be rulers in your own right. The Lord's viceroys. He will remember those who were loyal to him." I could feel sick waves of evil coming from his as he spoke. He paused for a few moments and I could see that the entire church was enraptured by his speech. His voice had even more power behind it than Rebecca's singing had.

When he continued he stated, "We must all sacrifice for our Lord. He has give us much. He expects our devotion and worship in return. Is that some to expect. The world of man is full of injustice. Many of you have been treated wrong by your fellow man. These people are not servants of our Lord. Through him we can find our just treatment and the chastisement of those who make themselves our enemies. Time and time again, there have been those who would persecute his true worshipers but he always finds a way to protect his followers. Will you trust him as I trust him? Will you put yourself in his hands?"He paused again while the church roused in support. I wondered about the ones who did not know what Lord he was really referring to.

His sermon was not done and he added, "The dedication to our lord is not an easy path. Many will try and stand against you. You may find yourself divided from your friends and your family, not understanding your new dedication. Still, your true friends will always be here to support you. They will nurture you and you will go strong with us. We will always be your family. While the path is hard, it is the only true way. Your eyes will be opened as his disciple. New glory and power will be yours. Keep that in mind. The way is to dedicate yourself to him, not allowing friends or family to hinder you. There will be sacrifices, small sacrifices every day." It came to my mind of a tiny puppy nailed to a board with its throat slashed. My mother had once done that and even then it had sickened me. There was an innocence in the animal. He continued with, "From time to time our Lord expects larger sacrifices in his name. I cannot express enough the need to sacrifice. Words must be followed by deeds. All sacrifices to him will be payed back from his glory and power. Bask in that glory and realize that you are one of his chosen disciples."

He looked around the room and definitely looked directly at me this time. I saw him lock eyes at several others. None of the others seemed to have auras of power so I wondering what he was looking for. His voice changed, becoming less stern and more kindly, "I note some new brethren here this evening. Some of you already have a kin spirit inside you." It was an interesting choice of words and he was staring directly at me. Mr Morgan obviously had seen my demon tainted aura and taken me as a potential ally. He continued with, "Others are yet to find their truth path. I am here to help you find the truth path. I see doubt in some of your eyes. You think you have heard it before. Do not let others confuse you." With his evil magic crushing down on them, there was little that they could do to resist.

He faced each one of the new people and appeared to be doing some kind of religious signing. I could feel from the power that was being fed that he was marking each of them as his. It would allow him to identify them and he likely could pull them back to the church every Sunday through the mark. He seemed to pass over me. Even at risk of being exposed, I would not have allowed me to mark me. Besides, I was suppose to have my own demon master.

He closed his sermon with, "I thank you all for coming. Those of you who are already on the path and those who are new to the path. You must dedicate yourself every day to him. After services, our members who have been called by him can join with me in private worship. I also ask that a couple of our guests come with us to see if you have a special calling as well. May our common Lord bless you through the following days." With that, he made a slight bow and stepped out of the main room.

Several additional prayers and songs followed his sermon but soon enough the church service was over. People stood up and seemed to congregate in various groups. Those with tainted auras seemed to drift together. There seemed to be about twenty of them total. Another group seemed to form was of the members who appeared to be mostly dupes of Mr Morgan and his fallen angel. When the doors where unlocked and the darkness outside was revealed, they began milling out of the church along with most of the new members of the church. I could feel cool air coming from outside. The tainted members stayed. Mentally, I dubbed them the Black Circle. The fallen angel came back out of the private rooms to talk to those with tainted auras.

After a moment, Rebecca started in my direction. Even though it was her territory, I did not think that she would engage in battle at this at this time. While she was walking over to me, a member of the Black Circle walked over to one of the women who appeared to be new. I wondered why she was being selected. She was young, likely only a little older than eighteen, but had no aura of power. She almost had a negative aura to be honest. I suspected she was looking for something to fill that hole.

"Miss Darkwald, I thought I recognized you from your picture. Mister Morgan did not realize that you were a servant of one our Lords brethren when he hired Mister Johnson to have you dissuaded from continuing you employment with my father." She was whispering and I could see a satisfied smile on her face. For a second or two I could not figure out who Mr Johnson was but realized that she must be talking about talking about Tony. She continued, "Mister Morgan also understands what happened with Mister Johnson. Still, breaking all of his fingers puts him out of the business for at least a while and Mister Morgan will have to find a new distributer. What did you send after him anyway." She had definitely taken me to be a demon's servant and I thought it best not to allow her to know otherwise.

How to answer her would have to be a careful dance of lie mixed with truth. One item which was lucky is that few demons really are willing to work with each other. Lesser demons are forced to serve by greater demons. Greater demons are forced to serve by Demon Lords. It was not likely that my father and their master would have any dealings with each other. There were dozens of Demon Lords and thousands of greater demons. Not all greater demons were all that powerful and there were a few hundred of the most powerful of the greater demons. I suspected that the fallen angel and her lover served one of the more powerful greater demons but not a Demon Lord whatever he called himself. My mother with the staff head would have been even more powerful than I was. Of course there are even more powerful Demon Lords. They are considered princes and princess. As well, I have heard stories on an emperor. I refuse to mention his name just incase it would invoke him. I refuse to mention my fathers own name for the same reason.

"She was a lesser brethren of my Mistress." I replied. There are powerful female demons as well as males. Some mystic texts seem to think that demons were created by human belief and as with human, there are female demons as well as male demons even without half breeds like me. Still, I have never heard of a female demon conceiving a child with a human. "My Mistress allowed me the services of the lesser demon for several hours and breached the barriers to allow her onto this plane. You simply cannot allow scum like that survive without an object lesson. I also did not realize at the time that he was serving a sister sorceress. I might have been gentler to him but he still had to have the notion that he leave me alone be burned into his head. Generally, my Mistress wants me to keep a low profile." In a manner of speaking, I was not lying. After all, I am my own Mistress.

It seemed a good time for flattery and getting more friendly. Maybe an opportunity would occur and continued with, "Go ahead and call me Nicole. Do you prefer Angela or Rebecca?"

Mr de Salle's daughter answered, "Angela or Angel. The name Rebecca would confuse any who might overhear parts of our conversation."

Whatever my differences with the other powers, I could not bring myself to call her Angel so I stuck with Angela.. "Your father did not tell me about you or exactly what Mister Morgan was initially," I stated. Continuing on I stated, "If I had known originally, I might have proceeded different. After I began to truly understand the situation, I decided it would be best to see for myself and see if some negotiation could be completed. Your father is a fool. He was a fool for not teaching you about true power. He is a fool for denying the power which you have found."He was a fool, a fool for not taking her over his knee and spanking some sense into her. She did not realize the plaything she would become for the demon she served once she crossed over. I have crossed over. There I am considered a lesser Demon lord and it was still not pleasant. Unlike me, hers would be a one way trip.

She seemed taken by my comments and she continued smile back at me. She replies, "You are right. I always knew the old man was weak. It was only through the use his artifact that he truly had any power. He kept trying to push concentration exercises down my throat. Dear Daddy. Daddy must suffer an accident. Perhaps you would be willing to help me with the accident."

"You might be right. He could be a potential thorn in the side of our respective Masters. There are ways to deal with him which will allow you to gain much of his power. Blood always call to blood. Still, my Mistress teach you that you need to be subtle when you take on such a task. It might be best if you pretend to have broken with Mister Morgan and be willing to come back into dear old daddy's fold. Mister Morgan could excuse your absence from the church by just being sick or in special prayers." In reality, if I could get the two of them separated, with her father help I might be able to trap he for long enough to deal with her mentor. I doubted it but maybe there was some good which her father could work on.

She stated carefully, "I will have to think about your suggestion. I will also need to discuss it with Mr Morgan and see what he thinks of the idea." I nodded my head. She continued with, "If you are interested in our private rituals, I would be interested if you would join us in our special prayer group." motioning towards the entrance to the back area. I notice that the young woman had also be invited. Most of the normal church members appeared to had left while the Fallen Angel and I had been talking. I had a bad feeling that I knew what was happening but I could not escape it. I nodded my head and followed her into the back.

The door closed to the back area as soon as we were through. I could hear bolts dropping, locking the door. We were locked inside and the outside world was locked out. The room appeared much smaller the main room of the church but it could be deceiving. All four walls were covered by red and black curtains, making me not certain how large the room really was. The air was heavy in incense but I thought I could smell something else. A metallic smell. I had smelled it many times. The smell of blood.

Mr Morgan was standing right next to the doorway. As I stepped in, he held out his hand and asked, "I hope that we can come to an understanding."

"I hope so as well," I replied and shook his hand. "Cooperation is always better than open warfare with such as us."He was eyeing the new girl so I continued on into the main part of the room.

He walked over to the girl and hugged her. He whispered to her, "Vicky, your task is not an easy one. You must give yourself completely to our Lord. It will be the dawning of a new day for you. Are you ready."

"Yes", she breathed, trembling a little bit.

He smiles at her, all of a sudden evil, and replied, "Very good." He turned towards the other congregation members and stated, "Get her ready for the ceremony." and stepped back.

Four of them stepped up and grabbed her. First, two grabbed her arms and pulled her arms behind her back. She knew something was wrong and began screaming and kicking to free herself. She tried, I will give her that much, but she was hampered by her skirt. After a moment, the other two grabbed her legs and the group of them began carrying her towards the back of the room. The curtains drew away and there was a large stone slab standing there between a small forest of black candles. There were manacles and chains imbedded in the stone which appeared to be rough granite. Also visible was dried blood. On either side were three foot wide stone columns. Each appeared to be made from marble and there was a silver pitcher on each. They likely contained a wine and blood mixture.

Somehow while the sacrifice was being prepared, the Fallen Angel had dropped her white gown to the floor and was dressed in a simple white teddy. I was willing to bet that she planned to wear far less by the end of the evening. Most ceremonies like this were done in the nude. She walked over to Vicky and ran a long fingernail gently across a tear soaked cheek. Rebecca whispered, "You offered yourself to our Lord. Before this evening is over, you will be his body and soul. Go ahead and continue yell, this temple is completely soundproof. Are you a virgin? Of course you will not be by the time you are offered to him."

The girls eyes locked onto mine for a moment. I tried to look impassive and think to myself, 'tough luck kid, you chose the wrong church to find enlightenment,' but I just could not. Instead I tried the only defense I could think of. I turned to Rebecca and stated, "Angel, it seems that she is just a waste. She looks like she would be a sweet tool once she is reeducated a little." It might come to blows tonight and I was not sure if I was ready.

Mr Morgan walked over to me and hugged my shoulder. "Miss Darkwald, it may seem that it is a waste but it is not. Anyone who wishes to share in her can and her death will mark our continuing fellowship with Lord Xra-ra." I was unfamiliar with that name. I suspected that he was not a Demon Lord because I should otherwise know his name. My mother had taught me all the names of the Demon Lords.

Vicky yelled, "You will not get away with this. My parents will send someone to find me."

"My dear girl, no one knows where you are. Your family is over a thousand miles away. You hitchhiked across country. The church members who are not in the inner circle have already forgotten you. You will just be another disappearance," Mr Morgan replied, satisfaction smiling on his face. She began screaming again. I could hear that she was beginning to become hoarse.

He turned back to me, "Perhaps I should take her first. Unless you wish to of course. Teach her the pleasure between women before I stick my shaft in her and consummate the ceremony. I of course consummate the ceremony before any of the men get a chance at her. If any of the men appeal to you, you can of course worship with them."

The four members of the Dark Circle had gotten her to the stone altar and her hand was held steady while Rebecca locked the first manacle on the unfortunate girls wrist. While watching the girl get chained down, I replied, "I will have to think on that." I just could not let this sacrifice take place. I just did not know what I could do.

In just a few moments, Vicky was completely chained down. She continued fighting but her struggles were getting weaker. As well, she had screamed herself completely hoarse and you could barely hear her anymore. Mr Morgan walked over to the altar and produced a long curved knife. It was incredibly sharp and with a single slash, he cut her blouse and skirt completely down the center. Here and there he had nicked her flesh and blood dripped down but none appeared to be life threatening. The four members who had carried her to the altar pulled her slashed cloths off. She appeared to be almost ready to faint.

He gestured and the candles around the altar lit. An easy parlor trick but quite impressive to the uninitiated. He stepped away from her and began pulling off his dress shirt. I looked around and saw that all of the other congregation members were stripping as well. All except for four guards who had stepped behind the altar. I needed to come up with a plan and come up with one fast. I had no real nudity taboo so to buy more time I began stripping as well.

Soon enough we were standing naked around the altar with the woman chained to it. I could see than most of the men, including Mr Morgan, were quite aroused. From her expression, it seemed that Rebecca was aroused as well. I could not tell with the other women around the room. The lights had been shut off and the room was only lit by the candles. Several member of the church had strapped belts on their waist with what appeared to be ceremonial daggers.

"Tonight we worship out Lord Xra-ra" came Mr Morgan's voice. He was again standing beside a stone altar where the young girl had been chained with the same long dagger he had used to strip off her cloths. "She is our altar and our gift to him. May he receive her and give us his power in return." The girl could only moan. Rebecca continued running her hands along the poor girls body as her lover began to chant, "Lord Xra-ra, please accept our sacrifice." The Fallen Angels hands would explore the scared girls breasts and then back down to her groin. It further intensified the girls fear although she was kept just to the point of not passing out. Along with her fear, I could feel power building with Mr Morgan's chanting. I had run out of time. It would be now or never.

"My Mistress would like part of the sacrifice as well," I stated as I walked forward. I held me hand out to Mr Morgan for the dagger.

He handed me the long blade and stated, "Remember, the sacrifice is not to be killed until the ceremony has been consummated by all." I nodded and took the final couple of steps over to her body.

My acting would have to be perfect for me to pull this off. I ran the flat of the blade along her loins and looked down on her. Lifting up her right hand, I pricked her index finger and sucked on it. When I tasted blood, I move over to her head and laid the dagger on her throat. A kiss to her mouth completed the act. I held the kiss several long moment. Pleasure could be seen in the men's eyes and even the guards behind the altar looked distracted. As I pulled away from her I whispered, "We will get out of here."

I leaped at one of the guards with the knife drawn, throwing my whole weight against him. I caught him by surprise and my weight knocked him towards the ground. I allowed myself to fall with him. At the same moment, I slashed across his jugular and the blade bit deep. Blood sprayed all over me.

While not a martial artist, I know a few tricks. For better or worse, my mother taught me how to use a knife. The guards were well trained but luckily they had not expected my attack. They were still stunned but as a reflex they were reaching into their coats for guns. Still having the initiative for the moment, I rolled across the ground to the closest of the standing guards and slashed at his ankles. He had dress shoes not boots on and I cut across his Achilles tendon. No longer able to stand, he fell down with his head hitting the floor hard. His pistol clattered next to me.

The two remaining guards had recovered from their initial stun and had opened fire on me. They missed me by only inches as I grabbed the dropped gun. It was a Glock. At least, I would not have a safety to contend with. I opened fire. The first two rounds hit him in the groin exploding with blood but the following rounds hit higher. Apparently he was wearing a vest because the later rounds did not seem to cause any additional blood to spray.

I was continuing my roll and ended up behind one of the stone pillars. I crouched behind the pillar. He walked towards me with his pistol drawn towards me. It seemed likely that he wore a vest as well. The girl was also behind him so shooting at him would risk shooting her as well. I heard Mr Morgan yelling, "Kill Her!" followed by the sound of daggers being pulled from their sheaths. I had to act quickly or I would find myself badly outnumbered.

Suddenly inspired, I focused my entire fear aura onto the remaining guard, augmenting it further with my magic. Dropping to his knees, the pistol fell from his hands. Grabbing the pitcher, I ran towards him, slamming the silver vessel against his head with all of the force that I could muster. Red liquid splashed everywhere, soaking me further and crushing in the side of the container. Some slashed in my mouth. I was right, it was a mixture of wine and blood. From the dent in the guard's skull, I suspected that he was quite dead. I flung the destroyed pitcher at the Fallen Angel although I missed. To be honest, I was not even close.

Mr Morgan made a mistake. He threw a ball of Hellfire at me. It was an impressive ball although even though a more experienced sorcerer, his Hellfire was not up to my level. His expression was one of triumph. Stretching out my hand, I simply caught it. If there is one thing you do not try to use against Demons is Hellfire itself. That includes half demons as well. I had been catching Hellfire thrown at me almost since I could walk. His expression changed from triumph to shock. The other members of the church seemed to be suitably impressed as well. They stopped for a moment and gazed at me wearily.

Adding my own Hellfire to the captured hellfire, I let go of it in a spray careful to make sure the girl was not within the area of effect. When used in this way, Hellfire is not particularly powerful but it was enough to stop all the members of the Dark Circle before they could overwhelm me with. They all went down screaming with much of their bodies covered with second and third degree burns. It they had been wearing cloths, it is likely that they would have been at least partially protected. It might not even have stopped them. They were alive for now but would quickly die without emergency medical treatment. The fire also caused the wall curtains to go up in flames. I hoped the building would not catch fire and attract the attention of others.

Mr Morgan and Rebecca had both brought magical shields almost instantly and were unharmed by the blast. I saw something flying with the corner of my left eye. He had picked up a metal chair with telekinetic force and slammed it against me. My shields snapped into place from my talisman and the chair shattered with blinding sparks on my shield. My shield would hold for a while although not forever. I hoped that he was not strong enough to lift the stone blocks. Even if my shields held from such an impact, it would stagger me. There was also a concern about what Rebecca would do. I saw her chant something but was not sure exactly what she was doing. A second large object slammed into my shields, again exploding into sparks.

Taking the offense again, I threw Hellfire bold after Hellfire bold against his shields. I was hoping that I could drop his shields before he managed to drop mine. My shields were slowly weakening from the repeated impacts but his seemed to weakening faster. Rebecca had yet to have gone on the offense against me. The room was filling with burning curtains but it appeared that walls were made from concrete and the ceiling had not caught fire. The girl was fairly low chained to the stone slab and hopefully would be alright.

Suddenly I realized what the Fallen Angel had been doing. She was trying to complete a summoning. I hoped she would just completely fail not partially succeed. Her skill was still low to risk a summoning. Demons were very deadly to those who failed in a proper summoning. I could not risk it though. I launched a concentrated stream of Hellfire against her shields. Hers were only a fraction as powerful as her masters and went down within seconds. The constant stream of Hellfire was taxing and I felt myself weakening.

I could not bring myself to kill her but instead grabbed at the smoke magically. It came easily at my calling. With my magic, it became almost solid and I wrapped her in the smoke like you might with a rope. I made sure to block her mouth so that she could not finish her summoning. She could still breath through her nose and taking control of the smoke had cleared most of it from the air.

While I was fighting the apprentice, the master had continued to pummel me. He had continuously thrown objects against my shield. I was almost surrounded by various pieces of rubble by now from his continuous attacks. My shields had taken quite a pounding. I saw a weakness in his shields and brought a concentrated blast of Hellfire down on the crack in his defenses. At the same time, he pulled a large light fixture down upon me head, causing me to fall from the force. Sparks exploded everywhere, blinding me for several key moments. My shields still held weakly but he had me pinned under the damn ceiling light. It would take a few moments to dig out, time I did not think I had. I still had control over the smoke. I grabbed a piece of smoke and brought it against his neck.

While he was fighting with the smoke, I fought my way free from the remains of the light. A dagger glinted on the group, dropped by one of the Dark Circle. I grabbed the long knife and brought the blade in an upward stab into his gut. With all my magic, it came down to this. He looked at me in disbelief as he went to his knees. Life slowly faded from his eyes. As he collapsed, he dropped the book containing the head piece. After picking it up, I collapsed for a moment, taking in breaths of air.

After a few moments, I got my focus back. I used the smoke to dampen out the remainder of the fires. I stop up slowly. Other than a few minor bruises, I was fine. They would heal in just a few minutes. I had left no blood on the scene so I should be safe. Just incase I had missed something, I had a spell which was extremely useful. There was great danger with magic rituals which use blood, hair, or skin to invoke. A flash of will and all of it just simply disintegrated. The power needed to do that was tiny compared to magic I had been slinging around. Still, I was extremely weak.

In truth, when the police found the scene and who was involved, they would likely try their best to bury it.

There were a few moans coming from people on the ground. I thought about the dagger in my hands. I should kill them. Damn, I found that I could not kill them. Still, I did not have to save them. It is likely that they would be dead in the next few minutes anyway. They were far worse burned than I thought that they were anyway.

I walked over to where the girl was still chained. She appeared to be breathing at least. I was about to start working on releasing her when it suddenly felt like the whole building was shaking. My head hurt from the magical concussion and I had been unable to fully shield from it. The magic had a reality rendering feel to it and it felt similar to the creation of a magic portal. I heard a voice in my head, *What a mess you created here.* I thought I had stopped her before she had completed her ritual. *You did* came back. *She completed enough that she is now mine.* The body of the Fallen Angel disappeared and there was a scotched spot where she had been laying. I had no understand how he had done something like that. A fading voice could be heard in my mind, *You have been very naughty.*

Damn, the manacle holding the girl were locked and the key had been on Rebecca's wrist. Going to hell to the get the key was not an option. I looked where she had been laying but there was no key. I pried at the lock with the knife. It seemed to take forever but finally the lock snapped. I went to her other wrist but the knife snapped almost immediately. I looked around and almost instantly saw one of the guard's guns. I grabbed guard's gun and pointed the gun point blank against the lock. When I fired, the lock shattered. The noise had partially roused he and she looked up at me, still with panic in her eyes. I stated, "You are safe" and moved to her ankles. The pistol made quick of the locks there as well.

I pulled her off the slab and stood her on the floor. "I need to get dressed so we can get out of here," I told her. She collapsed to the floor as I let go of her. It would likely be best to simply let her sit there until she recovered. My cloths were smoky but otherwise fine. I looked my arms and noticed that they were covered in blood. This would not do. All I needed to be is pulled over by the police and be covered in blood.

I hoped that there was a shower in here.

About an hour later, I arrived at Mr de Salle's house. The contractors had done quick work. The door and windows had been fixed. The only light which I could see appeared to be the light of candles. Vicky was still unsteady on her feet and I had wrapped her in an unburned curtain and carried her to the car. While I was strong enough to carry her, she had been awkward to carry. Instead of taking her home, I had decided to take the girl to Mr de Salle's home. It felt like the right thing to do.

To remove chance of accidental discovery, I had locked all of the doors to the church before I left. If there was any luck at all, it would be days before anyone learned of what happened. They say that all criminals keep souvenirs and I guess that I am no exception. Mr Morgan's dagger had been rare and extremely old. It also was magical and I wanted to discover exactly what the enchantments were.

She had recovered enough during the ride her that she could walk if I helped her and we walked together to the door. I knocked but got no answer. I knocked again and a few minutes later, Mr de Salle open the door. He saw the female I had with me and at first he had a relieved expression. Then he noted that it was not his daughter and his expression became bleak again.

All of a sudden, I was mad. "This girl was to be a sacrifice to the demon that your daughter and her lover joined themselves with. You owe her something." Apparently what I said worked and he stepped out of the way. I led her to a couch where I sat her down. After sitting beside her, I laid the book on the table in front of us. The bindings were slashed and I opened it up to reveal the head piece.

I heard the door close and Mr de Salle started doing something in another room. It sounds like a kitchen. When he returned, he brought three cups of steaming tea. He looked at the head piece but did not comment. Instead he sat across from me and asked, "Would you tell me what happened?"

I told him. It seemed to take hours. I stressed how I had tried to capture his daughter but the demon lord had taken her. Maybe I felt guilty about it. In my mind, I knew that he was better off without her but in my heart, I still had problems with what had happened. In the end he stated, "Thank you for telling me. I am sorry that I misjudged you." He handed me a check. It was for fifteen thousand dollars. He added, "I will teach you the new magic which I promised you but not today. I need to recover. I will take care of this young lady for you if you wish." Even though no words had been expressed between them, I felt a bond between them already.

I stood up to leave and I heard a cracked voice, "Thank you for my life."

By Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Copyright © 2006, Kitsune. All rights reserved.