Demon's Grace Ch. 15-17byakbunny©
I tried to talk to Lin again. She denied me. Big surprise there. We knew that Kiesh was in Seattle though. Nice to have a demon relatively nearby. Not nice for the locals. I counted on Taurin to fill me in with details, they were historic and gory. He really did like to gab. A lot more than Ezra.
What I found out was that Kiesh was what demons called a lucifer. A demon who had gone, essentially, insane. He gave me some demon talk for it to annoy me. As it turns out, there are all kinds of insane for demons. There also are a myriad of reasons as to why they go crazy. Last they both heard, Kiesh was traveling to the Ice Edges, about half a century ago. Ezra didn't know anything about the Ice Edges except that he was advised not to go there by his mother.
Taurin took up the lecture from there, but I really wasn't listening. I was just staring at Ezra as he drove the jeep. The only thing I could think of was, 'Ezra has a mother. What's a demon's mother like?'
Taurin snapped his fingers in front of my eyes. I blinked and turned to look at his striking features. He had taken off his sunglasses and was staring at me with his sparkling blue eyes. I felt like I was looking into ice as the sun hit it. I didn't want to admit it, but deep in my mind I knew I was letting myself be mesmerized, as much as I could be when Ezra showed me his galaxy of stars.
Ezra glanced my way briefly. "Taurin, continue with your constant gibbering."
"I would love to, but she is so," he paused for a long moment. "Your control must be like the bottom of the ocean." His voice had a dreamy quality to it as he continued to stare at me.
"More like the silence of the stars," I said in what sounded to me like a thick, husky voice.
"Mmmm." Taurin said in a similar voice. "I heard demon hunters were immune to our gaze. I could eat her up." He cocked his head in the way I had seen him do so many times before.
"They are," Ezra agreed. "I know that you have tried when one was hunting you."
"True. She is not immune to mine."
"You are now not immune to hers either. You could not eat her up if Dove concentrated right back at you."
Taurin took a deep breath through his nose, smiled thinly and narrowed his eyes. "My secret is out."
I willed my eyes to close and slowly turned my head. Taurin did not want to let it go so it felt like moving my head through jello. In the recesses of my mind I tumbled through the implications of what Ezra revealed out of spite at Taurin.
Taurin sighed, "On to business."
"Yes. Continue with business," Ezra replied soberly.
"Are you done?" My voice still sounded annoyingly husky to me.
Taurin's warm breath caressed my neck, "Would you really like me to be?"
Ezra jerked the steering wheel, causing the unbelted Taurin to be flung to the back seat.
"Foul," he said good naturally.
I shook my head and rubbed my eyes. "You were saying?"
"Kiesh. Ice edges. Not far from where I grew up."
I willed myself not to get distracted again about thinking about demons growing up with mothers.
He continued. "One of the in-between territories. Many demons come out as lucifers when they go to these places of dreaming. My mother insists that no one who is not of lineage of Ice Dwellers can dream in the Ice Edges. That would include humans. Of course, humans would freeze before they reached where they needed to go."
"You're lineage is called Ice Dwellers?" I asked, somewhat rhetorically.
"Ice Dwellers, Icelanders. Kiesh is not. He is a shadow offspring."
Ezra nodded his head in affirmation of this.
I looked from one to the other, "Like Bronti?"
"Yes," Ezra answered.
"Why does a demon want to go to a place of dreaming?" I asked.
Taurin replied, "Off subject. Since he's a shadow offspring it didn't go well for him. Hence, why he is slaughtering and eating the flesh off of any living he can get his hands on. Human flesh and blood being one of the most tasty, if lacking in power than most. His magic and actions will be unreasonable and unpredictable. Have you ever been sent up against an insane demon before, Dove?"
Ezra replied, "If you had, you would be dead. They are counting on Taurin and me to keep you safe."
I replied with sarcasm. "Thanks for your vote of confidence."
Ezra gave me a hard stare, "That is my observation." He turned back to watch the road.
"Would either of you know the names of other lucifers if you saw a list?"
"Why?" Ezra asked.
"Just wondering if maybe I should check out the records department and see the accounting for lucifers and successful kills."
"Usually other demons kill them."
Taurin scoffed, "And not for any altruistic reasons either." He smiled hugely at me. "By the way, who drinks down the power of the kill?"
My mouth opened slightly at the change of subject. "Uh, usually my blade. If it tells me it wants it."
"You ask your blade?" Taurin replied with a raised eyebrow.
"Sure," I replied not following his train of thought.
"Ezra, did you know this?"
"I'm impressed." He gave me curious eyes, "Can you talk to any blade?"
Suspicious of the question, I answered derisively, "Well, I haven't tried to talk to any other blade so I wouldn't know?"
He ignored my tone and eyed Ezra, who was steadily not looking at us. "Who will get it if not the blade?" He asked.
"Then I offer it to the earth. Why?"
Taurin gave me a thoughtful look. "Would you offer it to me?"
"You?! You're already a whirlpool of power!"
He shrugged gracefully, wisps of his blonde hair framing his face.
"I suppose so," I said slowly.
"What if we took turns. You, me," he turned to give Ezra a direct stare, "Ezra."
Ezra said nothing.
"Ezra doesn't ask for power."
"Why would that be?" Taurin asked innocently.
"I don't know."
"You never asked or he never told you?" Taurin prompted.
Ezra continued to remain silent.
I hesitated briefly. "He never told me."
Taurin leaned in close to Ezra's face and whispered something that I couldn't hear. Ezra's fist come flying back, but Taurin was already flinging himself to the back of the seat.
He was all satisfied smiles when he turned to me. "This will be a good kill." I felt revulsion because of his comment, so I turned away and looked out the window.
When we reached the city it was early evening. I disliked working in the sunshine, it seemed wrong to me. Sunshine reminded me of bobbing flowers, swimming salmon and popcorn. Not blood and gore. But, it was summer and that meant more light in the evening.
I directed them to a park and prepared myself. I chanted softly as I made a circle of power around me, tracing one in the air. I knelt on the grass and stuck the blade in the dirt. Taurin and Ezra stood in the background and watched. All they would see is me kneeling with my hands clasped on the pommel of my sword.
First part was to find the demon's scent. I could be kneeling on the ground for hours for this. My blade and I had to sort through every demon in the vicinity. I was bombarded with smells and brief vibrations of psychic residues from the places demons used magic.
With every warrant comes the scent and vibration of the demon. The Affairs' Office gets this from the memory of whomever reports the crime. Since no one but a demon and a demon hunter can detect a demon's magic they would need to use a very specific spell on the witness that only a demon hunter could do. That would answer the question of, 'Where do demon hunters go if they grow old?' I doubt I'd ever check this out though, the thought of growing old was foreign to me.
From there they find out if there are previous reports and whether the demon deserves a warrant. If he does, they attach this identifying magic to the warrant and send it off to a demon hunter, with the name if they have it, which they frequently do since the inclusions of demons into the Affairs'. The scent would tell me the type of demon. The vibration, or music coming off my blade, was their own version of DNA.
So, here I was sorting through demon "footprints" across the city. I wasn't too surprised that there were so many in the city. Demons liked metropolitan places, all the shadows and restlessness I think. Ezra once told me that he loved the elevated emotions and potential for anything in the air.
I cleared my head to focus on my job and finally tracked a residue of Kiesh. One direction would have me backtracking his steps, the other would lead me to him. I chose the one that went away from the alley. A skip and a hop and I had him. He could be gone by the time we physically got there though, not uncommon, at least not for me. Not uncommon that he detected me either. What was uncommon was that he could pinpoint my psychic presence and stare directly into my eyes. His malicious smile grew wider.
Saliva, blood, and unknown black stuff graced his entire face. His ears were sharp points and he hunched over. I watched as he brought a man's body up to his teeth and ripped off flesh. He continued to stare at me, smiling while he chewed. I felt my body back in the park start to shiver in reaction. Not good.
His eyes bore holes into me. They were entirely black, endless, and alive. A woman came into view and saw him tearing off pieces of dead flesh with claws. She stood paralyzed on the sidewalk with wide eyes.
"No time for a good chase," he directed to her with a gravely voice, "I have a previous engagement." He stared at me again, "I'll be there in just a second, love." He smirked as he threw the body to the side and disappeared into a building's shadow.
This had never happened to me before. A demon never instinctively knew exactly where I was when I searched them out. My blade was already in my hand and making music in my head when he stepped from the shadows of the trees made from the fiery orange setting sun.
He raised himself to his full height, which was impressive. I imagine I heard every vertebrae snap into place as he did this. They continued to pop as he moved toward me. My sword sang so loudly in my head I figured I'd have a headache in the morning if I survived. Within me I felt the stillness of Ezra, the constant swirl of Taurin.
I looked up, higher than I anticipated really, and stared into Kiesh's black eyes. He grinned. I could feel a drop of sweat trail down from my temple. "Delicious demon hunter. Did they send you for dessert?"
"No, they sent you for my dessert," came Taurin's careless answer.
I took a deep breath and centered myself, my eye sight never leaving the towering demon. I guessed even Taurin had to raise his gaze to meet his eyes. Kiesh did a sort of cough laugh. Blackish green globs spit out around him and dripped off his chin. I felt my face curl into a disgusted sneer. He gave a horrific smile of lunacy towards Taurin.
"Ice maidens are good to eat. I wonder how much better you'll be?"
Just like that, I was a gnat flying around to be brushed aside as he walked right past me. His intensity was zeroed in on Taurin. It was as if he really didn't see me anymore. I suppose my ego was a bit bruised, but really, I was more astonished. No matter though, I still had a warrant to fulfill.
Kiesh had magic shields up to deflect Taurin's immediate rush of ice shards so he wasn't prepared when I rushed at his back with my sword. Physical attack, different defenses needed. I stuck him in the lower right of his back and attempted to draw my blade up. It was like moving into granite. No sound came from his mouth, but his body turned to the right and his fist came with it. He landed a very solid punch on my upper right arm.
My sword was telling me 'out, out!', while the rest of me was in shock watching Kiesh's fist and arm become shadow. It continued its quick motion and ended up in my chest. The motion of his body helped me wretch the blade out of his back with my left hand. My right arm was stunned and not exactly obeying my commands. Part of that could also have been due to the fact that Kiesh's left hand felt like it was making indentations into my right shoulder. I felt his right fist open and move to grab my heart when he stopped.
The rest of his body had gone misty and I took the chance of hoping that my sword point would go into his underarm. Kiesh grunted as it hit mass and fisted his shadowed right hand again. He pulled it roughly down so that it ended in my stomach area. I hunched and used it to help me push my blade down into his rock like ribs. My breath came shallow and fast. It seared my lungs and throat, just like it felt when I ran in cold temperatures. I knew it was Taurin.
He was ice running through my veins. He traveled to where Kiesh's hand was and flowed over it. Kiesh opened and twisted his hand to grab and pull the freezing line. I ended up even closer. He angled his face down to me and gave me an opened mouth smile. I grimaced from his fetid breath and moved my head back as much as I could. Slick globs of rotten something struck my face when he gave his coughing laugh.
"You're the ice demon's. Can he keep you warm at night?"
"No. I do." Ezra's soft voice carried through the air.
Kiesh's eyes narrowed as Ezra's power traveled through my body at a steady burn. It flowed through my left arm and into the sword. Movement became easier and I sliced the demon's body across and out. Thick black blood sprayed. Kiesh gasped and pulled his hand out of my body. My breath caught in my throat and my back bowed. I looked down to see if he was pulling my intestines out and saw instead a sparkling line like crystal. Taurin was trying to use his power to freeze Kiesh's hand.
Spurred on by the fluidity of the blade with Ezra riding it I attempted to move my right hand to the pommel. I was mostly unsuccessful. Undeterred I started to chant a power spell and fed it into my left arm and sword. Indirectly I knew Ezra would enjoy some of the benefits too, since his power was pulsing in the same area. My voice came out breathy and strained as I rotated my shoulder and made a lunge directly at Kiesh's heart.
The angle was awkward because of his height and the fact that his right arm was crossed over his body. The blade reached its target, but Kiesh moved fast and the sword was ripped out. At the same time Kiesh's backwards movement brought me moving with him since he still had a hold of the line formed by Taurin. The top part of my body was wretched by the movement of the sword while my lower part was wretched in the opposite direction by Kiesh's hand hold. With my spell still active I forcefully arched my left arm back and slashed deep into Kiesh's right forearm. I jumped away but his grip stopped me from completing the movement. His face started to elongate and intensify on me.
'Shit, Taurin,' I thought, 'let go!' I started when I heard him answer in my mind.
'I... He has...,' frustrated and at a loss for words he gabbled something harshly in demon. 'He has us. He was searching for it. That's why he didn't crush your heart. He wanted to find me through you!'
'Well, fucking attack him!'
Taurin's tone became even more frenzied. 'Look around you! He took you with him into the shadows! I DO NOT walk shadows!'
'We are doing the best we can,' came Ezra's calm reply inside my mind.
By now Kiesh was pulling me closer to him as if I was on a leash. I dragged my feet and sword every bit of the way. When I directed my vision to his hands I watched ice constantly flow and crack over them.
"When I have found Taurin I will torture him through you. Then I will find this other and kill him. Then I will kill you and every bit of power will be mine!" The volume of Kiesh's voice rose as he got more excited.
Inside my mind I started hearing another voice. My blade sang to me to cut the line. My eyes narrowed at that bit of advice. I already felt like I was being pulled apart from the inside and I didn't want to cut a part of me. 'No way!' I countered.
It insisted. Then I thought, what if I cut off his hand. I smelled Kiesh's foul breath on my face and made to do exactly that. The sword took on a will I have never known. My hand blazed, as if on fire, and it was physically redirected to cut the line and not the hand that held it. The damn sword took over my movements with the help of Ezra's fire!
What was left of the ice in the line snapped back into my body and flung me a short distance backwards. Kiesh was roaring. I looked up at him and saw the ice finally moving up his arm. Kiesh's roaring started to sound scared, terrified. He thrashed around and spoke in demon, continuously trying to fling his arm away from him. I wearily got up and immediately hunched over from the pain in my stomach.
I chanted through gritted teeth for power to assist me with the killing blow and stood on weak legs. While I was charging towards Kiesh it seemed as if he didn't even notice me, so intent was he on the ice trying to freeze its way up his arm. I drove the blade up to the hilt into his heart with a power steadied left hand. His breath was frenzied as he continued to gibber. His wide eyes stared at something I couldn't see. As he fell to his knees I jerked the sword out and sliced deeply across his throat. He toppled onto the ground face first. I panted as I dropped to my knees to chant the final death to the demon.
Eventually, I heard the calm voice of Ezra through my mind. 'Dove. You must bring yourself out of the shadows.'
I ignored Ezra for the moment and grudgingly offered the kill to the sword. I was still angry at it for taking over my body. 'You must take the body with you,' it whispered to me.
"Dove? Can you hear me?" Ezra used his voice this time.
'Because it is for someone else,' the sword continued, its voice slowly fading.
Demon hunters have the ability to take the power from their demon kills. It's a tricky thing. Most gossip and recorded history proves that it is not a healthy lifestyle. The effects are unpredictable and, it seemed, addictive no matter the immediate magic results. This ability though would help me find his talent for shadow walking. I found it and cajoled it into me. Without hesitation I closed my eyes and trusted the magic to do as I needed. There was a brief moment of disorientation as I transferred myself out of the shadows. I opened my eyes and quickly forced the power back into Kiesh's body.
Taurin was on his knees to my left. I dropped my sword to the grass and turned my head slightly to look into his pale face. Unable to help him at the moment, I closed my eyes again and lay down on the grass. I was cold.
"Your lips are blue," he whispered.
Ezra moved my sword away and straddled my waist. He bent down and wiped my face, flinging Kiesh's bile into the grass. His breath of fire warmed my insides as he kissed me. I left my hands and arms trapped between his warm body.
Taurin moved in close. He lay down so his mouth was close to my ear and I shivered at the coolness of his breath. "That was risky, severing our tie like that. It hurt us both. Good luck for you that Ezra can deter frost in you."
"You were able to work your ice on Kiesh more effectively when I was no longer a factor in the equation," I breathed softly.
"Yes. But only since I was already latched onto his hand through you. How did you know?" Taurin's voice was just as quiet and strained as mine.
I opened my eyes at his question and looked into Ezra's flickering ones. He looked back at me with a knowing look. He was linked to the sword at the time too and knew exactly what happened.
I turned my head slightly to look at Taurin. "You may have him."
Taurin stared at me with eyes that shone like hard ice with something unfathomable beneath. He nodded briskly and crawled around us to be closer to the demon's body. Watching him I knew he was not waiting for my permission to take Kiesh's power.