tagSci-Fi & FantasyBlasphemia II: Deus Vult Pt. 05

Blasphemia II: Deus Vult Pt. 05

byNathanRavenwood©

Here, beneath the Earth so old.

In this pit we call our home.

Down in this frozen deep.

Toiling ever 'til we sleep.

Even though the succubus was singing under her breath, Judith found a flush creeping along her neck at the sound of Filia's singing voice. It was smokey and deep, resonating with an otherworldly thrum. Did succubi have powers of seduction via singing? Or was it just because it was Filia? She didn't know, but pondering it was enough to keep her distracted. It kept her grounded on the floor of the cavern, rather than pacing as she had as Luca's scanning stretched on and on.

The scholar was sitting by the hole Filia had made in the cave wall, sitting cross-legged with his back straight. His eyes were closed and his arm tattoos glowed with faint iridescent light. He'd been poised as such for the better part of an hour. Judith had been repeatedly tempted to ask him what progress was being made, but held back out of fear it would break his trance and ruin his efforts. All she could do was watch and wait, and keep her eyes peeled for any impending threats that might take notice of them.

However, the world outside had gone eerily quiet, save for the gentle whisper of the wind along the rocks outside. Judith found herself craving the sounds of Rome that had existed before - the clatter of old cars along the cobblestone roads, bakers speaking in rapid-fire Italian with the farmers bringing them fresh produce, the toll of church bells pealing out across the city. Now, there was just the wind, and whatever strange dirge Filia was singing under her breath.

The succubus rose from her sitting position and stretched, canting her upper body to the side and making a small mewling noise as she did. She padded over to Judith's side and sat down. Judith shuffled aside a few feet to ensure there was no chance of bodily contact.

"So," Filia began.

Oh dear, Judith thought.

"Think he's packing?"

Luca gave no indication that he'd heard the scandalous remark. "I've no interest in finding out," Judith said. "And I'll make damn sure you never do so either."

Filia smirked and leaned in close to Judith's ear. "Liar," she whispered.

Judith's fingers tightened on Celerity's hilt. "Tread lightly."

"See, the fact that I keep getting a rise out of you means I'm just going to keep on teasing you," Filia murmured. Her nose touched the side of Judith's cheek, warm spreading from the contact. "Because we both know how much you like to be teased."

The succubus's fingers slid up Judith's thigh, and the skin underneath her armor broke out in goosebumps. Judith shifted slightly, trying to cinch her body in a way that clamped down on the smoldering heat flickering to life in her groin. "I swear, killing you will be the most satisfying thing I will ever do," she growled.

"Nothing so reveals the nature of a relationship like the promise of sex and/or violence," Filia said. Her fingers went higher, tracing a line up Judith's body to grope her breast. "Even better if you do both at the same time."

Judith panted slightly and squirmed, desperate to not make noise and throw off Luca's concentration. Was Filia just blithely ignoring the urgency of their current situation? Or was this just another one of her games? "How would that even work?" Judith hissed.

"Ever seen Hellraiser?" Filia's grin was wicked.

"No?"

"Oh. Well, it's like that, but less extreme. Also now that I really think about it I don't think you'd be into that level of nasty. Nico is sometimes, but only because he can regenerate quickly."

"Just what kind of deranged sex act are you even talking about?"

Filia sighed. "After this, we're having a movie night. You, me, some snacks, big comfy couch that we can fuck on during the boring parts of some of the essentials." She nuzzled Judith's cheek, then kissed her lightly. "Sound good?"

It was as if they were two young paramours stealing tiny moments together and not sworn enemies! Judith set her jaw and shoved Filia away roughly, pouncing on her with Celerity in hand. She had to stop herself from sawing Filia's head off then and there - even then, her sword bit into the line of the succubi's throat, drawing blood. "I've had enough of your games!" she roared. At what point was Filia going to understand that they were destined to be enemies, so she should stop with the playacting?

As always, the succubus was unfazed by anything. "So that's a no on the movies then?"

Filia roared and stabbed down with Celerity. The blade sheared off a lock of Filia's gossamer hair on it's way down. With all of Judith's inhuman strength behind it, the blade penetrated half a foot into solid rock. Judith was panting in rage, glaring down at Filia, hoping to impress some of the pure loathing she felt with her gaze alone.

"You're so cute when you're angry," Filia smirked, casually reaching up to brush some of Judith's hair aside. "Also keep going, this is turning me on something fierce."

A cough made both of them turn their heads. Luca was on his knees, looking at the both of them bewildered. "Uh... I found His Holiness."

Filia sighed. "Just as the mood was getting right. Ah well." SHe licked her lips. "Unless... quickie?"

Judith scrambled off Filia, ripping Celerity out of the stone. "No," she growled. "Where are we going, Luca? And why did it take so long?"

"There's a lot of different energies in the air," Luca said, eyes flicking between her and Filia. "Concentrations of faith being blown about like clusters of sand in a desert. Sometimes there, sometimes gone. I had to keep poking around until I found one that stayed constant for an extended period of time. If it's not His Holiness, it's at least bound to be someone who might be able to help us."

"Where?"

Luca pointed at the floor. "Down."

Filia made a face. "Towards the eye?"

"Close to it." Luca got up and peered out through the hole in the cavern wall. A moment later, he pointed.

Judith followed his finger. Below them floated a structure that looked like something plucked from the mind of M. C. Escher. Several single story buildings had been mashed together into a tall skyscraper, with more affixed to the sides at perpendicular angles. It spun on no set axis, simply twisting this way and that, as if it were a brick and mortar Rubik's cube being toyed with by the hands of an invisible titan.

"Gah, just looking at that makes me sick," FIlia said. "What wonderful nightmares are we going to find in this one, I wonder?"

"We'll find out when we get there," Judith said, jamming her sword back in its sheath. "Filia, you're strong enough to fly us both down there, correct?"

The succubus shook out her wings. "We won't exactly be a Lockheed Blackbird, but yeah, I can do it."

"You know what a Blackbird is?" Luca asked, sounding surprised.

Judith blinked. "You know what that is?"

"Hell doesn't exist in limbo, library boy," Filia said with a sulty wink. "I keep dropping references hoping Judith will pick up on any of them but she's sadly out of touch."

"LIke I would ever watch a movie called 'Hellraiser,'" Judith snorted.

"It's... not that bad," Luca said, with a sheepish cant of his head.

Filia laughed so loudly that Judith was worried every eldritch creature within a league could hear it. "Judith, you have some serious competition here! Hahahaha!"

Luca blinked, his eyes flicking back and forth between them again. "Am I... missing something here?"

Judith made a frustrated noise akin to a caged bear on amphetamines and stomped over to FIlia. She grabbed the giggling succubus by the wrist, then took Filia's hand and closed the fingers around Luca's wrist. "We're going now," she said, tugging them towards the hole in the wall.

"Wait, what?" Luca managed.

Judith heaved with all her strength, pulling them all out into space. Luca screamed in terror as he plummeted into open air, the three of them tumbling end over end for several heart-stopping moments. Then a strong hand grabbed Judith's collar. "Nine rings, you're a real cunt sometimes," Filia said, still sounding giggly. She swooped low, grabbing hold of a flailing Luca by the collar. Her wings flared wide to slow their rapid descent.

Luca reached up and grabbed hold of Filia's wrist, his grip white-knuckled. "Are you mad?" he yelled at Judith.

"Furious," Judith snapped back.

"She's just going through a rough time, cut her some slack," Filia said, adjusting her wings into an easy glide down towards their new destination. "Her home's been turned into an eldritch nightmare, she can't make up her mind about how she feels about me, and she's also wrestling with her perfectly reasonable desire to get into your pants." She shrugged. "Normal girl stuff, really."

Judith made a strangled noise and spluttered. "I am not!"

"Your indignance says otherwise!" Filia said in a singsong voice.

Luca had gone beet red, turning his head to the side. The expression was adorable, but thinking that made Judith want to kick herself. They were both sworn to celibacy, and though her promise lay in tatters, she was sure that a demure individual such as he had never lain with another. Shame prickled her skin as she thought of such things.

The building loomed large in their vision as they drew close. "Okay, question," FIlia said. "How do we land on or in this thing?"

"Find an aperture and go for it?" Luca offered.

"Works for me!" FIlia chriped. She tucked her wings in, making all of them drop like stones again. The building was still shifting rapidly, and Judith clenched her teeth hard enough she feared they might shatter. There was no pattern to the building's movements, and they could easily wind up pasted against a wall.

"Gotcha," Filia said, aiming for an archway. A moment later, it spun out of reach. "Fuck!" The succubus twisted around at the last possible second, eating the impact of their collision with the building entirely on her back. Over the rush of the wind Judith heard something snap followed by a hiss of agony from Filia.

The building moved again, rolling them onto an unsecured front door that opened under their combined weight. Judith cursed as they fell further into the structure. Something hard jolted them again, this time stopping their momentum.

"Fuck that hurts," Filia hissed, shoving them off her and rolling onto her stomach. Judith's stomach turned at the sight of the shattered pieces of several of the succubi's vertebrae sticking out of her back.

"God in Heaven, are you okay?" Luca asked, concern etched across his features. Judith did a double take. Did he not remember what she was?

Filia grit her teeth, and the bits of bone began to slid back inside her body. "No, but I'll live," she gasped, her nails carving furrows in the wooden wall underneath them. "I'm a tough bitch."

Judith got to her feet, drawing Celerity and projecting a little power into it to light the blade. They were in a small apartment of some kind, the furnishings within shattered by the jerky movements of the ersatz building. At that moment they weren't on the floor, rather on one of the walls, owing to the apartment building being at an odd angle.

The floor shifted underneath them, and all of them went still. "Oh, don't tell me," Filia panted, hanging her head. Her hair flowed down around her face like a funeral veil.

Then the structure jerked, flipping over in a second. Judith's body seized up for a moment in shock at the transition. Then she realized she was poised right above the door. A moment later, it slammed into her back, then gave way under the impact. Her hand shot out and grabbed the door frame. Burning pain flared in her shoulder at the sudden stop, leaving her hanging out over open space hanging by only her fingers. She looked down at the ground far below, with the phantom image of the massive eye superimposed over it. No amount of Nephilim resistance would help her survive a fall like that.

"Judith!" She looked up. Luca had grabbed hold of another nearby doorframe to keep himself from falling as well. His other hand was firmly clasped between Filia's hands, the succubus kicking wildly as her body dangled in open air. "Are you okay?"

"I've been better!" Judith replied. She began to heave herself back into the apartment.

The building shuddered again, then rotated rapidly ninety degrees upward. Judith was tossed forward, rolling over and over across the floor of the apartment - the actual floor this time - towards the back room that Luca was holding onto the entrance of. "Son of a-" she coughed out as she stopped rolling.

Luca scrambled into the room, dragging Filia behind him. He shut the door behind him, and not a moment too soon. The building lurched backwards ninety degrees, making them all fall into the wall again. Judith covered her face as the remnants of a bedside table clattered around her, one of the legs cracking her on the wrist and sending a stinging pain up her forearm. She took several deep breaths, forcing air into her battered lungs. "Good move," she panted, tapping the door.

"I'm never going to an amusement park ever again," FIlia groaned, rolling over so her back could finish healing. "I've had enough jumping through magic portals and getting tossed around to last a lifetime, thank you."

"How are we supposed to get to the center of this mess?" Luca asked.

"Is that where the faith you detect is coming from?" Judith asked. Luca nodded. "We should take it room by room. Advance slowly and carefully, that way we can-"

"Boring," Filia drawled as her back rippled and healed fully. She rolled back over, popping her neck with a jerk of her head. A red sigil appeared around her body on the wall underneath them. Hellish energies colored Filia's eyes as she raised an arm. "We're taking the direct route."

Judith cursed and rolled over on top of Luca just as FIlia let rip with a column of hellfire from her arm. It lanced up, hit the wall opposite them, and kept going, punching through barrier after barrier. The heat was intense, causing sweat to bead on Judith's shoulders.

Filia kept the stream going for a long while, until tapering it off with a hissing noise like water on charcoal. Her face was smug as she looked up at her handiwork. "Clean breaks, all the way through. Go me."

Judith scowled, pushing down to lift herself up off Luca. The casual motion made their bodies brush together for a few moments, and she went still at the electric current that sparked through them. It was the same thing she felt whenever Filia touched her. Her gaze snapped to Luca. The scholar was looking up at her, his gold eyes questioning. "Is something wrong?" he asked.

Judith's fingers curled into fists. "No," she lied, slowly peeling herself away from him. "Nothing at all."

Damn you Filia! WHy are you right about everything? How is it that you know me better than I know myself? How am I this weak? Judith wanted to scream her frustrations to the Heavens, beseech the Lord and beg forgiveness for her transgressions. Despite her vows, her body kept betraying her, first with Filia, now with Luca. It was maddening.

"Uh-oh," Filia said.

Judith looked up at the hole Filia had made in the wall - rather, the ceiling. The edges of the wood still smoldered from the column of hellfire. Peering over the edge of one of the floors further up was a verde zombie. It let out a raspy, creaking groan. Then another joined it. Another appeared further up, followed by another, and another, until there were almost twenty looking down at them with dead, glassy eyes.

"Luca," Judith said. "Find some cover."

Then one of the verdes screeched and leaped down at them like a pouncing jaguar. Filia whipped her arm around, a chain slicing the thing in half down the middle and reducing it to ash. A moment later, the rest of the verdes followed.

Judith surged up, drawing her sword and cleaving a verde in two with one fluid motion. Celerity sang through the air, felling two more before a verde tackled her to the ground. A moment later, one of Filia's hellfire chains pierced the back of it's skull, the bladed end jutting our through it's gaping maw. "Keep your green mitts off my woman," Filia snapped, yanking back with all her strength. The pull yanked the verde off Judith and into another, slamming both into the wall.

Judith slashed at the ankles of another verde near her, slicing its head off as it went down gurgling in confusion. She grabbed another by the neck, focusing her faith into her palm in a Consecration. A moment later, the verde's head burst like an overripe melon, unable to take the searing power concentrated at Judith's will.

"Judith!" Her head snapped towards Luca's voice. The scholar was backed into a corner, looking for an escape from two massive verdes looming over him. "Help!"

"Begone, foul creatures!" Judith bellowed, rushing the pair. The two's heads turned towards her, their eyes glassy and dull save for pinpricks of green light in each. Judith's first stab speared one through the middle, severing it's spine and turning it into deadweight. She ripped Celerity free in a plume of gore, spinning and beheading the other with a powerful two-handed swing. At the end of the follow-through, she reversed her momentum and did the same to the first. Another lurched forth and met the same end, then another. Putrid green-black gore splattered on Judith's armor, the pungent smell making her nose burn and her eyes water.

A loud banging noise came from a nearby wall, and a moment later another group of verdes crashed through, their combined weight bringing down the surface weakened by furniture smashing into it. Judith let out an animal roar and waded into the group, holding Celerity with two hands like an axe as she swung and cleaved. The verdes' weak flesh parted like wet paper before her mighty swings, and any she didn't behead immediately she finished off with stabs, blasts of holy magic, or smashing their heads underneath the soles of her boots. She let the fevered pitch of battle overtake her, rending flesh and crushing bone in her righteous fury.

As the last fiend fell, she spun around, looking for another thing to kill. Gore caked her armor and skin, the disgusting flesh growing clammy as it dried. She reached up to brush her hair away from her face, and found it slick too. Her heart thundered in her ears as she bellowed, "Is there anyone else?"

"I think you got them all, Judith," Filia said, gingerly stepping over a dead verde.

"Remind me to never raise your ire," Luca piped up from the corner where he'd been taking cover.

Judith spat on the floor. "Let's get a move on." She took a step, then stopped. "The building isn't moving any more."

Filia looked around the room. "Huh. You're right. Maybe I hit something vital."

"You think this building is alive?" Luca asked.

"Buddy, have you seen what's been living and moving the past few hours?" Filia said, jerking a thumb over her shoulder. "The giant living flesh tower?"

Luca made a face. "Good point."

Judith scowled at the two of them being chummy. "Let's keep going."

Filia moved under the hole she'd made and shook out a length of shadow chain. She whipped it up and around, driving the point into a wall. She gave it a tug to make sure it was secure. "Hope you lift, librarian," Filia said, eyeing Luca's arms. "I'm assuming you do, of course."

Luca wrapped his hands around the chain, then slowly heaved himself up hand over hand. "I had to train my body somewhat."

Both Filia and Judith watched him shimmy up the chain. "Complete package, that one," Filia remarked. "Soft-spoken, considerate, brawny, probably hung like a-"

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