Cutlery Book 1: The Sword collector part 6

Continued from here part 5

Many years ago, Marshal's Academy at the Capitol.

A young Victor stood before a group of new recruits doing an amount of push ups that bordered on abuse. As they counted off The then High General Magnus along with his brother and second in command Marcus approached. Victor turned and gave a nod, "Morning Marcus."

Magnus rolled his eyes a bit, "No greeting for a superior?"

He glared to his father, "Morning, you rat bastard."

Magnus had a slight grin, "Better."

Marcus cleared his throat, "We have business."

Victor sighed then patted his underling Reeves on the shoulder, "If they loose count, make them start over."

Victor turned and followed them. He entered a room where two nervous looking boys sat. One was a ten year old Gunnar and twelve year old Harris. Victor looked them over, "Bit young for service."

Magnus nodded, "These boys need someone to take care of them."

Victor gritted his teeth, "I'm already raising one son for you...."

Magnus cut him off, "They're war orphans, they have no place else to go and I don't want them in the orphanage."

Victor growled, "Fine, under one condition."

***

The boys stood out on a field as Victor stood behind them. Magnus and Marcus watched from a distance as Victor called, "Vargas, get your ass out here."

An eight year old Vargas wandered out, "What?!"

Victor tossed his little brother a wooden sword then handed one to each of the boys, "If one of you manages to land a hit on him, you both can stay."

Gunnar looked hesitant, "You want us to beat up a little kid?"

"You don't need to beat him up, just hit him once."

Harris didn't question as he ran headlong at the boy. He was caught by a foot to the chest as Vargas leapt up. He then landed behind Harris and slammed the wooden sword across the back of his knees. Gunnar ran up and attempted to catch him off guard but took a knee to the gut for his trouble before Vargas brought the hilt of his weapon down on his head.

Gunnar got angry and began wildly swinging his blade as Vargas easily dodged. As he backed up he suddenly stopped as he felt the point of Harris's sword poking his back. Victor caught Gunnar's hand as his blade nearly crashed down on Vargas' head, "Your buddy already got a kill shot. You're good."

He then looked to Vargas, "You still ain't watching your back boy."

Marcus noticed the faint grin on Magnus' face, "Careful, they might find out you give a damn."

Magnus noted the sarcastic tone as he turned to his brother, "Their hate'll make them hard and strong. They'll need that."

"If you say so, still sounds like a terrible idea though."

He nodded, "Has to be done. You'll understand when its time."

***

The Present, The Capitol

Gunnar still fumed in his chamber as Marcus spoke, "I sent out riders to confirm it, if Victor is dead they'll bring him back to be buried with honors. I have to ask, would it be wise to tell Vargas. We want him to stay for a bit."

Gunnar glared, "The Wrath showed me an image of a Reaper, a Tiger and a Dragon marching on the Capitol. If he knows they're coming he'll wait, trust me on that."

Marcus sighed, "You say the vision showed a dragon striking down a bear, you know what that could mean?"

Gunnar silently nodded.

***

Belial stood next to an angry Paimon, "You should have let me kill them."

Belial rolled his eyes, "You still on that?"

Harris seemed a bit sullen before noticing many men marching toward them. He yelled to Belial, "We have company."

***

Several men broke away from the large group and approached Belial. One called Erick stepped forward, "Rumor has it, one of you managed to take down Victor the Bear."

Belial nodded and pointed to Harris, "The blood still stains his blade."

Erick gave him a nod, "His brother killed our leader, I figure that means we owe you for the small measure of vengeance."

Belial grinned, "We aim to exterminate the marshals, if you march with us you may consider your debt paid."

Alana watched as she hid in a nearby tree. She sighed as she muttered to herself, "This doesn't bode well."

***

Vargas nervously boarded Uri's machine as he began to wind it, "I don't think a full wind will be necessary this time."

Uri shrugged as he stopped at a quarter wind, "If you say so."

The machine then launched down the hill as Hana, Angus and Vargas clutched the sides of their seats.

***

A couple minutes later they found themselves speeding toward the city gates as a royal guardsman raised a hand to stop them. Uri's eyes went wide as he kicked the break lever. The guard barely managed to dive out of the way. The machine screeched to a halt as Uri began to apologize profusely. Vargas stepped down and the guard gave a hateful look, "You can never arrive like a normal person, can you?"

The guard then glared up to the gate keeper, "Its just Vargas."

A massive stone wall lowered into a cut in the ground as several locks sprang loudly. Uri watched as several massive wooden planks slid away as the main gate opened, "Marvelous, but still nothing compared to my machinery."

As they entered a woman armed with a rapier, Sarah stood before them. She looked on Vargas, "The High General needs to see you immediately."

"Can't I get lunch first."

She gave him a blank look, "No."

Angus and Hana's eyes went wide as they saw the city for the first time. Angus turned to Vargas, "Meet you later, gonna go waste some money."

Vargas then tossed a small purse of coins to Hana, "Go get yourself some cloths that fit, grab a bite or something."

A man with Sarah called named Oleg leered at Hana, "Allow me to escort you, mi'lady."

Vargas gave a fake grin and a nod as he pulled Sarah over, "Tag along, and tell Oleg if he lays a hand on that girl, I'll remove it from his body."

She chuckled a bit, "Will do."

He then looked to Uri, who was already happily boasting about his machine to whoever would listen. he shrugged and headed toward the Marshal's Headquarters.

***

A mile from the Capitol riders came upon Clive carrying the Big Bear to deliver to Vargas. After a quick exchange of words Clive agreed to carry out the confirmation as they proceeded in their task to retrieve the body.

***

Vargas had become sidetracked on his way to the headquarters but eventually made his way there. As he arrived an aide ushered him into Gunnar's quarters. He looked around the room, "This is quite a few steps up from the crap holes Victor raised us in."

Gunnar had a stern look as Vargas noticed the Big Bear sitting on the desk. "Is Victor here?"

Gunnar shook his head, "We need to talk."

Clive nervously entered the room as anger started to form in Vargas, "Why the hell is the Bear here without Victor?"

Gunnar motioned for Clive to sit down, "We're both about to find out."

Clive sat and told his story. Vargas and Gunnar listened intently to every word the nervous young marshal uttered until he'd finished. Gunnar sat back, "So he died fighting?"

Clive nodded. Suddenly Vargas stood and flipped the desk sending it crashing through a window. Clive looked frightened as Vargas turned and kicked open the door nearly taking it off the hinges as Gunnar ordered, "Vargas, stop."

Vargas gripped the hilt of the Coyote, "This can't go unanswered."

Gunnar stood, "It won't. His killer is marching here. Aside from that he's with the man who wields the Reaper's Arm. We both want Harris to pay but I also need to protect this city. With you here we can do both."

Vargas took a breath, "I brought a man with me, find him and bring him to the city's engineers. Perhaps he can help with defense, if he refuses just stroke his ego a bit."

Gunnar sighed, "Can I trust you to keep your head on straight? You know him as well as I, one mistake, one second of hesitation and he will kill you."

Vargas gave a nod, "I know."

***

Angus sat at a small table outside a restaurant. The waitress commented, "The marshals seem on edge today."

Angus nodded, "Fight's coming."

She looked down to him, "You know something?"

"Nothing specific, I just feel it in my gut. If you'd been in as many fights as me, you'd see the signs too."

The Changeling had been vibrating in his pocket off and on since they'd entered the city. He knew something bad was coming.

***

Several royal engineers approached Uri. One spoke up, "Sir, we were told you were a man of great skill and we'd like to have your aid."

Uri smiled, "Well of course you would, a man of my genius is rare indeed."

One of the men rolled his eyes, "That was easy."

(To be continued)

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Cutlery Book 1: The Sword collector part 5

Continued from here part 4

Vargas walked with Angus and Hana for quite some time before the group was stopped by an odd sound of clanking metal and wood. The turned and walked toward a large lake and saw a strange looking machine dragging a pole over the water with a rope hanging down.

The rope began to tug from under the water and the pole raised and a man came up holding the rope. He had an odd looking helmet made of metal and glass over his head with a tube coming from the top and leading back to the machine.

As he came to the shore he removed the helmet and picked up a note book that sat on a plank on the machine. The man muttered to himself for a moment before seeing the others, "I've got no gold and I doubt you could sell my machine for much."

Vargas looked it over, "What the hell is that?"

The man smiled, "This is my mobile laboratory and defense system."

Angus huffed, "Doesn't look mobile."

The man grinned and yanked a lever. A wall on either side spun around and spring loaded wheels popped into position as a wood block pushed the body over on them. He then pulled down some folding stairs and flipped another lever that revealed a seat and pedals in the front. He then attached a set of handle bars to the front, "I wind it up with the pedals. It will go 25 miles in just under an hour before I need to rewind."

Vargas stepped up to look it over more thoroughly, "It's all clockwork, right?"

The man nodded with a grin. Angus whispered to Hana, "Don't know what's stranger, that contraption or that mustache."

Vargas looked back to the man as he stroked his absurdly long mustache, "You have a name?"

"Euripides Maximilian Marcum, friends call me Uri."

***

Many miles away Victor stood holding the ax Big Bear as he glared on the traitorous former marshal, Harris. Paimon looked to Belial, "Hold the men back, my Tiger is hungry."

Harris charged toward Victor and moved to slash with the Dragon's Tail but Victor knocked it away with his ax before delivering a hard punch to Harris' face. He staggered a bit and spat some blood. He again moved to attack but Victor drove his ax handle into his gut flinging him back several feet.

While this was going on Paimon unleashed a blast of red energy hoping to kill the marshals in one shot. Suddenly the land ripped upward and blocked his power. The marshal called Reeves pulled his large mace from the ground. It had five long scythe like blades protruding from the large metal ball at the end. Paimon looked stunned, "What the hell?"

Reeves smiled, "This is the Stone Crusher, I can split a mountain with this. Your skull will be no trouble."

He yelled back to the marshals, "You fellas clean up the riffraff, this one's mine."

Belial smiled as they rushed on. He ordered his men to fall back a bit. Meanwhile Harris made it to his feet and raised his blade as it became covered in blue flame. As he brought it down a rush of wind knocked it from his hand. Suddenly Victor had his hand around his throat and smashed a fist into his face before slamming him to the ground. Harris held his side as he looked up, "You intend to avenge you're old man?"

Victor spoke in a voice that was almost a growl, "You should know me better than that, boy. I'd have liked to kill him myself, but I will have justice for the fifty marshals that died to line your pockets."

Victor then kicked him in the gut, sending him a few feet in the air. Reeves again slammed Stone Crusher into the ground sending several large chunks of earth into the air. He then struck them, sending them flying toward Paimon. He twirled the Red Tiger in front of him making a shield of energy to deflect the stone. A grin began to creep over his face but a stone spear raising from behind ended it. He dodged but caught the edge as it slashed across his side. Reeves then charged, intending to end the fight.

Harris crawled to his blade but Victor stepped on his wrist before he could grab it. Before the marshals delivered their killing blows a wave of black energy swept the field. Reeves barely managed to raise another stone shield to save himself and two others and Victor managed to evade it. The rest of the marshals on the field where wiped out instantly.

As Victor looked on in horror Harris grabbed his blade and drove through his back to the hilt. He then twisted it and yanked it free. He then limped away. Belial turned to leave but Paimon attempted to finish off the few survivors. His energy lashed out but a burst of wind blocked it. Victor had used the last bit of his strength to save his men before falling over.

Paimon gritted his teeth but Belial yelled back, "We need to move."

He sheathed his sword and left with them. The three surviving marshals ran to Victor's side but he was beyond help. Victor looked up to the one called Clive,"Don't leave the Bear here."

He nodded as Victor's eyes closed. He went over to the ax and attempted to lift it but it burned his hands. Reeves took on a stern look and ripped the blood soaked shirt from Victor to wrap the ax in, "This will protect your hands."

Reeves then stood up with hate in his eyes as he spoke to Clive, "Go back to the outpost and grab the fastest horse you can find. You take the Bear with you to the Capitol and when Vargas arrives you tell him what exactly happened here, who did it and how. Don't leave out a single detail."

Clive had a grim look, "And what then?"

"Get the hell out of his way."

***

Back by the lake with Vargas and company, Angus looked out on their path, "If Uri was telling the truth that machine of his could shave a few days off our journey."

Uri looked up, "That all depends on where you're headed."

Vargas noted the hesitation in Uri's voice, "We're headed to the Capitol. You know the gates to the city are clockwork like your machine."

Uri seemed to have his interest piqued as Vargas continued, "They claim its the finest clockwork machine on Earth. Every time I'm there I hear someone claim no other could compare."

Uri looked back at his machine, "Is that what they say?"

Angus looked ready to chime in but Vargas waved him off, "It'd be a shame if someone did manage to out do them and nobody knew."

Uri then stroked his mustache in thought before proclaiming, "Well, I was heading there anyway, so I may as well let you tag along."

Hana fought back the urge to chuckle.

***

The Capitol

Gunnar sat in thought as he puffed away on his cigar. He casually laid a hand on the hilt of the Angel's Wrath and saw a vivid image in his mind of a bear falling to the ground. His eyes went wide as he yelled to the aide across the room, "Get me the High General."

The aide gave him a curious look. He bellowed, "Did that sound like a request, boy?!"

The aide leapt to his feet and hurried out the door as Gunnar angrily kicked his stool across the room.

***

Marcus entered Gunnar's chambers, "What in the name of the gods possessed you....."

He noticed the stool embedded in the plaster of the wall and the fuming anger on Gunnar's face, "What is it"

His voice was like a low growl, "Victor is dead."

***

Several hours later on a hill over looking the Capitol Uri's machine came to an abrupt stop. Uri had a wide grin as he looked over to Vargas, Hana and Angus clinging to their seats. Angus blurted out, "That was a hell of a lot faster than 25 miles an hour."

Uri sat his feet on the pedals, "One quick wind up and we're there."

Vargas jumped out, "No!...I mean, rest your legs, we'll camp here for the night then ride the death traa.., machine into the city tomorrow."

He then looked to Angus, "Can you help me peel Hana off her seat?"

(To be continued)

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Cutlery Book 1: The Sword collector part 4

Continued from here part 3

Vargas sat by a fire as Angus boiled something he'd bought at the outpost. He looked up to Vargas, "I assumed your girl would be joining us."

Vargas grinned, "I'll see her again. She goes where ever the wind blows her."

His eye then moved left, "You notice our tag along?"

Angus nodded, "He still there, figured he would have wandered off by now."

Vargas shrugged, "Wake me up if he decides to rob us or kill us."

Angus nodded, "Will do."

***

After he finished eating Angus seemed to nod off as Vargas snored away. What appeared to be a boy, thinking he'd remained unnoticed crept to their camp site and attempted to grab Vargas' bag. Suddenly the blade of the Wolf was resting on his shoulder as Vargas stared down at him, "Why don't you head back home. I don't relish the idea of beating on a twelve year old, but I won't let you rob me."

The boy's eyes went wide. Suddenly he rolled away and hurled a shuriken at Vargas. He struck it away but it multiplied. He then went on the defensive as the began chaotically flying at him. He managed to dodge them effectively but the boy grabbed his bag and tried to run.

Angus locked a hand around his ankle causing him to slam into the ground. The boy raised a hand and the shuriken flew toward Angus. The Changeling grew into a large shield that blocked them. Vargas snatched the bag away from the boy and grabbed the shuriken out of the air with a gauntlet covered hand, "The Starburst, I've heard of this. Too bad you haven't mastered it, they say it can multiply a thousand times and appear as a rain of steel."

The boy yelled, "Give it back."

"This isn't a toy, kid."

"I'm not a kid! I'm 16."

Angus patted him on the head as he stood, "That's still a kid."

Vargas looked him over and noticed his tattered cloths, "What are you doing out here?"

"I'm hunting a bandit named Bedo. He killed my family and burned my village to the ground. I'm gonna find him and kill him."

Angus chuckled, "You're a little late kid, we collected his bounty a couple days ago."

He glared up, "He's in jail."

Vargas shook his head, "By now he's probably in an ash pile somewhere. Marshals don't waste good land burying bandits."

"So he's dead? Who killed him?"

Angus pointed, "The guy you just tried to rob."

"I was just looking for food."

Vargas sighed and looked to Angus. Angus nodded and pulled a loaf of bread from his pack, "Have a seat kid. You got a name?"

"Hana."

Vargas looked confused, "That's a girls name."

"I am a girl."

The two men looked surprised as Angus replied, "Its hard to tell with the baggy cloths and dirt."

She got a stern look, "If you killed Bedo, I owe you a debt."

Vargas shook his head, "The bounty covered it."

"No, I am in your debt and I will stay with you until its repaid."

Vargas shrugged as he tossed the Starburst to her, "Go where ever you want kid. We're heading for the Capitol, you could find some work there if you like, but get that debt nonsense out of your head."

***

Belial stood with Harris and Paimon in front of several dozen men. The crowd was mostly bandits and wanderers. Paimon looked on the crowd, "There are a few blades of minor power among them, most are just rabble with common steel."

Belial shrugged as he used a small stick to clean dirt from under his nails, "They'll serve their purpose."

Harris crouched down as he looked on them, "Pitiful, the lot of them. If this is the caliber of men you seek, we'll need a lot more of them before we can take on the Capitol."

Paimon looked over, "I heard Bedo was killed, we could move to recruit his men. Rumor says he had numbers in the thousands. I doubt that's exactly true but he's sure to have had at least this many given his reputation."

***

Victor sat on a porch at his outpost beginning to nod off as a rider approached. He looked up as the man jumped down, "This better be important."

The man nodded nervously, "Scouts spotted a large gathering, mostly bandits. Paimon and the Traitor Harris were among them and he swears he saw a man holding the Reaper's Arm."

Victor picked up Big Bear, "Gather the men. Looks like we're gonna have a fight on our hands."

***

The Capitol

Gunnar stood next to Ian as they looked down on the city from the balcony of the Marshal's head quarters, "Been having a bad feeling lately."

Ian nodded, "I'd say it started about the time you picked up the Wrath. Magnus used to say the ax carried a hint of prophecy in it."

Gunnar leaned on the ledge, "It be nice if it was more specific."

Ian nodded in agreement, "I'll put the royal guard on alert."

Gunnar chuckled, "Oh, that eases my mind."

Ian gave a shrug, "At the very least they make an effective alarm until we get the Marshals rallied."

An aide came up, "We've received a message from the Twain outpost."

Gunnar took the small scroll from the aide and opened. He grinned a bit, "Vargas killed Bedo. Apparently he's also got a few more additions to Marcus' collection."

Ian seemed to have a thought, "When he arrives, try to get him to stick around for a few days."

"Why?"

The counselor shrugged again, "Couldn't hurt to have the Wolf and Coyote around, just in case."

***

Vargas stretched as he woke and looked around, "Where's the girl?"

Angus took a break from breakfast, "I bought some soap at the outpost, I sent her down to the stream with it."

Vargas reached over and grabbed a few slices of bacon, "Figured she'd have taken off by now."

At he took a bite Hana returned and sat on a nearby log. She stared at the food but didn't take any. Angus rolled his eyes, "Just get a damn plate. Them sad dog eyes are annoying."

Vargas laughed a bit as she quickly gathered up a mass of bacon and eggs and began wolfing it down, "Ease up there, girl. It ain't gonna run away."

She had a sheepish look as she wiped a bit of egg from her mouth. As she swallowed she asked, "What is our business in the Capitol?"

"Well my business is making a delivery. Angus here, just wants to see the place. Also I just gotta see how Gunnar acts with all those priests and royals fluttering about. I'll be shocked if he hasn't knocked someone out yet."

She had her serious look again, "You shouldn't speak of priests and Royalty in such a manner. They hold the honor of our world."

Angus and Vargas burst into laughter. After a couple minutes Vargas finally settled a bit, "You really are a child."

She gritted her teeth at that and turned away from them, "You are awful men."

Angus nodded, "You got us there, girl."

***

Belial and his men stopped their march as they noticed men on horses ahead. Across the field Victor stared on the enemy as he pulled Big Bear from his back. He pulled out a spyglass and looked to Harris, "I'll personally see to it that the man who brings me that traitor's head will be a colonel by the end of the week."

Paimon looked on, "I wish to see the Big Bear in combat."

Harris had a hateful glare, "That man is mine."

He already had the Dragon's Tail bared with blue flame sparking around it. Paimon nodded, "As you wish."

(To be continued)

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Cutlery Book 1: The Sword collector part 3

Continued from here part 2

Vargas and Angus had been walking for two days when they came across a huge net made from thorny rosebud covered vines. Angus grew a bit anxious, "This looks familiar."

Vargas sliced the nearest vine and pulled Angus back as a tree dropped right where he was standing," Alana loves her traps."

Angus looked around at some strange markings on the trees then back to Vargas, "We're in Bedo's territory. He's got a damn army with him. If your girl is fighting them she's as good as dead."

Vargas thought about it for a moment, "You know, Bedo's bounty could probably buy a lordship. It'd certainly keep me well supplied for the road."

Angus shook his head, "What you're paying me ain't worth dying for."

Vargas then pulled out Bedo's wanted poster to show the bounty, "I'll give you half."

Angus looked at the amount with a nod, "Alright, lets go kill us some bandits."

***

A woman with bright red hair and emerald green eyes stared hatefully at nearly a hundred bandits being temporarily held at bay by her mesh of thorny vines. She held her daggers tight at the center as she looked for an opening to attack or flee.

A large man holding a cutlass yelled to the men, "I'll give triple rations to the man who brings me her blades."

As she prepared for a rush she heard a whistle from behind her. She turned her eyes in its direction to see Vargas giving a wave. She yelled back, "The bounty is mine!"

"Doesn't look like it."

Alana sighed as he and Angus stepped up. She glared at them, "You gonna help out?"

He gave her a blank stare for a second before she growled, "Fine, three way split."

Vargas looked to Angus who nodded, "A third is still more money than I've ever had."

Just then several men broke through the vines. One stood ahead of them all, "You should run fellas, or face the wielder of the Wolf and Coyote."

Vargas got a grin as he put his hand on the Wolf's hilt, "Is that so? If that's true then we should be worried."

Alana chuckled under her breath as Vargas turned to face the bandits and continue his speech, "They say the Wolf can shatter steel like glass and the coyote can level a forest. With their power combined, rumor has it they can split a mountain."

The bandit nodded, "All true."

Vargas shrugged, "Not sure about the mountain thing."

He then pulled the Wolf from its sheath and shattered both the man's swords in one stroke while the sound of a howl echoing through the forest. He then aimed the sword at the man, "This was just bad luck for you all round, fella."

Bedo gripped his cutlass tight as he shouted, "I knew that son of a b*tch was a liar, but the Cobra's Fang is real enough."

Angus pulled out the Changeling and it grew to a broad sword. Vargas then waved the Wolf toward the crowd of men sending out a wave of energy followed by a growl that sent them flying, clearing a path between himself and Bedo.

Bedo aimed his cutlass toward Vargas sending the form of a coal black snake. Vargas struck its head away before it could bite but left himself open for a hard strike to the face from Bedo's ham like fist. Vargas staggered back a few steps, "You're quick for your size."

Bedo nodded as he swung his blade. The Cobra's Fang clashed with the Wolf as Bedo looked down at the sheathed Coyote, "Aren't going to use that?"

Vargas pushed him back, "If I have too."

He then slashed across Bedo's chest but he managed to avoid a fatal injury. Bedo looked down on the blood dripping from the wound, "You'll pay for that."

As this was happening the rest of the bandits moved to attack Alana and Angus. Alana pulled her blade back and flung her vines like bullwhips into the crowd. As the vines hit her attackers they wrapped around and crushed them. Angus was immediately overwhelmed but his sword expanded to shield him. Spikes then emerged killing those in front of him. More came forward but the Changeling suddenly seemed to become liquid before enveloping Angus.

Angus looked down as his fingers became metallic talons, "This is new."

He then charged into the crowd to test out his new armor. Bedo saw his men falling and grew angry. He began spinning his cutlass creating dozens of coal black cobras that shot out in all directions. The mass of snakes crashed down toward Alana, Angus and Vargas like a tidal wave.

Angus was unharmed but knocked away by sheer force. Alana quickly wove her vines into a shield but one made it through. It missed its bite but burned her arm as its tail lashed. Vargas was nearly swept away but raised the Wolf just before being hit. He shouted the word, "Howl," as they came down.

The Wolf's howl hit the wave with a sonic blast that destroyed them instantly. The remaining bandits were hurled away and Bedo was launched back into a tree. The last sound he heard was the sound of his skull crunching against the trunk.

***

As the surviving bandits crawled away, Vargas started walking around collecting their dropped weapons. When he came to the Cobra's fang he pulled a gauntlet from his bag. He could still feel the heat from the hilt and had to quickly stow it to keep it from melting through.

The Changeling shrunk back to a small pocket knife. Angus walked over and tossed Bedo over his shoulder, "Nearest Marshal outpost is three miles that way."

Vargas looked to Alana, "You coming?"

She nodded, "A third of the bounty is mine."

Vargas then chuckled as he looked to Angus, "See, she can't resist me."

***

Belial and Harris found themselves outside a small Marshal's outpost. Harris looked the place over, "I got a bit of a bounty. This may not be a great idea."

Belial rolled his eyes, "There is a prisoner in there who took down six entire divisions of the royal army alone. If they hadn't caught him in his sleep he'd have never been captured. I intend to enlist him."

Harris shrugged as he unsheathed the Dragon's Tail, "You're the boss."

He swung his blade sending a wave of dark blue flame crashing through the gates. The few marshals inside ran out to defend the place but Belial waved the Reaper's Arm causing them to rapidly decay into dust. The two then casually strolled to the cells.

A tall thin man with long braided blond hair sat on the cell cot with a foot propped on a small stool as the two approached. He sneered a bit, "Hello Belial."

"Paimon, my dear friend. I've come to free you. That is if you agree to join me."

Paimon sighed, "You found the scythe. Very well, but I expect to be entertained. They're keeping the Red Tiger in a safe two floors up."

***

As the three left Paimon unsheathed his katana Red Tiger. He turned and slashed toward the outpost. A red beam of pure energy swept across the place destroying everything it touched. He then kissed the hilt, "Good girl."

***

The Capitol

Gunnar and High General Marcus stood before the crown prince, Edwin who gave them an eye roll as Marcus spoke, "The reports have been confirmed, their is a new wielder of the Reaper's Arm running free. I suggest you put the royal army on high alert."

The prince gave a yawn, "That sounds more like a Marshal problem. The royal army has more important matters to attend to, now move along. I've got important business...."

Gunnar stepped up to the prince and back handed him hard across the face knocking him from the throne, "I'm tired of your s**t boy. Maybe your father didn't tell you, but your position is ceremonial. Your job is to wave at parades and let the people have something to gawk at, this meeting was a courtesy. I ever hear that disrespectful tone in the High General's presence again, I'll cut out your tongue."

The prince had tears in his eyes as he wiped blood from his nose, "You can't treat me...."

Marcus cut him off, "You don't need a tongue to wave to a crowd."

A royal guard whispered to his partner, "Should we arrest him."

"You can try if you want, I ain't doing it."

The head of the ruling counsel shook his head as he walked past the guards, "Well this seems to be going wonderfully."

Gunnar looked back, "He'll be fine."

Marcus looked back, "Morning Ian, Gunnar was just explaining politics to our young prince here."

As the prince ran out Ian sighed, "He's gonna be crying about that for a month. Just got a report that Paimon has escaped from Marshal custody. He was aided by two men, one of my men told me all signs point to the Reaper's Arm being used. It isn't confirmed but they believe the Dragon's Tail was there too."

Gunnar dropped into the throne, "That's no good."

***

Vargas and Angus sat at a table in an outpost inn with a large meal in front of them. Angus looked over after swallowing a bite, "I think bounty hunting suits me better."

Vargas put down an empty mug, "Glad to help you find a new calling."

As they ate Alana sat down and looked to Vargas, "Where are you heading?"

"Nowhere in particular."

She sighed, "Well, I have a room for the night. I'm still not gonna marry you but if you're interested I'm heading up."

He grinned, "You think I'm that easy?"

She gave him a wary look as he continued, "You're right. Good night Angus."

Angus nodded as he dug into his plate.

(To be continued)

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Cutlery Book 1: The Sword collector part 2

Continued from here part 1

Outside the gates to the Marshal's outpost Vargas stands with a nearly empty bag as Victor steps up, "You seem to have done some business."

Vargas nodded, "Yea, you work these men too hard. Those normal blades do break easier than ours you know. Plus I managed to get a few coppers from the scrap yard for that crap I picked up at the bridge."

Victor shrugged, "I just got a report that might interest you. Apparently the Blood woods up and died. Whole damn forest just rotted away. You know anything about that?"

Vargas gritted his teeth before answering, "I know enough to leave it alone."

Victor sighed, "Well, I guess I'll be seeing you. Try not to make it so long till the next visit."

Vargas walked off giving a wave over his shoulder, "See ya around, Old Man."

***

A man named Harris sits by a tree cooking some lunch for himself when a cloaked man carrying something large wrapped in cloth on his back. Harris looked to the long scimitar leaning on the tree ready to fight if need be. The cloaked man pulled down his hood, "Mind if I sit by the fire for a moment, there's a chill in the wind today."

Harris gave a nod as the man sat and pulled out a canteen. After the man took a drink he looked to the scimitar, "That would be the Dragon's Tail?"

Harris tensed up a bit, "That's what they call it."

The cloaked man grinned a bit, "They say it is nearly as powerful as the Reaper's Arm, and its reputation is almost as bad."

Harris glared, "You got a name?"

"Call me Belial. I have been searching for the wielder of that blade."

Harris gripped the Dragon's Tail as Belial began unwrapping his cloth. His eyes went wide when the Reaper's Arm was revealed, "Calm yourself, if I'd wanted to kill you it would be done already. I wish to ask you to join me. They say the Reaper's Arm and the Angel's Wrath wield the power of Life and Death, if a man were to wield both he may as well be a god. I'm asking you to help me be that man."

***

As Vargas walked he noticed a bandit hanging upside down from a thorny vine wrapped around a tree branch. He looked up to the man, "It seems your day has gone poorly."

The bandit looked down, "I've had better."

Vargas chuckled, "Did you do anything to deserve it?"

He grunted a bit as he answered, "Occupational hazard."

"Perhaps you should find a new one."

Just then the bandit pulled a small knife from his pocket. He bent upward and grabbed the vine as the knife grew a bit larger. He cut the vine then aimed the blade down. It shot into the ground and held the hilt. As it shrunk he stepped down safely.

Vargas looked at the blade, "That's handy."

The bandit grinned, "It's called the Changeling."

"And what are you called?"

The bandit dropped the Changeling into his pocket, " Angus."

Vargas rested a hand on the hilt of the Wolf, "Perhaps the job of a guide would suit you better."

"If it pays, I'll do it. I've tried the bandit life, its not for me."

Vargas then looked back to the vine, "How did you end up in the tree?"

"My crew and I attempted to rob a woman wandering alone. She took it poorly, her daggers made those vines I was trapped in and of course my crew left me for dead. She was fast, didn't even have a chance to show my blade before she had me in the tree. I hit the trunk going up and was out for a while."

Vargas grinned, "Alana was her name. The daggers were the Rose and the Thorn. You and your crew are lucky to be breathing."

"So you've met?"

Vargas gave a nod, "Yea, I plan on marrying her, just as soon as she agrees to it."

Angus chuckled, "Have you asked?"

"Oh yes, dozens of times."

Angus shook his head, "You're an odd fellow."

***

The Capitol.

A man kneels down before an elderly priest in an ornate robe and large garish hat. He sighs under his breath as the old man drones on with a speech about tradition and history. He was a young Marshal named Gunnar. He was the new chosen barer of the Ax known as the Angel's Wrath. This was an unpopular decision among his superiors but since the blade burned all but one of its own choosing who try to hold it.

Gunnar had never intended to take it and had been content with his position. He had simply picked it up by accident one day and was now being forced to endure what he considered asinine pageantry. Finally the priest went silent as two men carried out a decorated plank of wood with the ax laying on it.

Gunnar took the ax and stood lifting it over his head as he smiled over gritted teeth.

***

Later Gunnar sat in his chambers when the High General Marcus of the Marshals entered. Gunnar sat reading a book with a cigar hanging from his lips. Marcus noted the Ax leaning by the wall. He dropped down in a chair beside Gunnar, "Magnus didn't want the damn thing either. Not sure he cared either way but he hated those priest always pestering him."

Gunnar nodded, "I was told his son refused to even touch it."

Marcus nodded, "My brother had a hard relationship with his sons, he did his best to make them strong but they hated him for it. I knew Victor would never take it, Big Bear suits him better, and Vargas, ahh who the hell knows what that boy would have done."

Gunnar laughed, "He wouldn't have made it through the ceremony without hitting the priest."

Marcus nodded.

(To be continued)

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Cutlery Book 1: The Sword collector part 1.

An man sits on a wagon made from the remains of an ancient truck bed next to his son. The cart moved along, being pulled by buffalo sized creatures jokingly referred to as Bully Goats. As they went the man opened an old book to read to his son.

"You sure you want to hear this one again, its gotta be the hundredth time?"

The boy gave a grinning nod as the man read on, "No one knows where the blades came from, some said they fell from the sky, some claim they were already here from a time before the ancients. All that is known is that they were discovered at a time when the world was ruled by lost science, houses were lit by bottled lightning and carts required no beasts to pull them."

The man looked to the boy furrowing his brow, "Get to the good stuff."

He chuckled a bit, "Okay then. Now when the blades arrived it didn't take long for their power to be discovered, The great scythe known as the Reapers Arm was found by a hateful man who feared his god was angry with the world for choosing their science over their faith. He gathered a great army of blade wielders to force the world to return to old ways. His greatest warrior was a man with no faith in any god and joined only for the promise of riches, he wielded the broad sword known simply as the wolf."

"In response a force rose up to stop the forces of the Reaper's Arm. A great man took up the axe called the Angel's Wrath and gathered an army of his own. This is the army we call the Marshals now."

The man looked to the boy staring at his shoes while he waited for his father to get past what he considered tedious detail. He sighed and flipped a few pages forward, The clash of the Reaper's Arm and the Angel's Wrath had brought the world to the brink of destruction. As this was going on a force led by the Wielder of the Wolf neared a library said to be the last vestige of the knowledge of the ancients."

"The Wolf slaughtered his enemies at first but halted when he saw a young warrior doing the same to his own forces. The young man wielded a short sword called Coyote. The two men made their way across the field to each other. The blades seemed to call to one another, unknown to the warriors, these blades had been intended as a pair and were never meant to clash. As they met a wave of power swept the armies away...."

The man stopped his story as several armed men stood before the bridge they intended to cross. The leader of the group stepped forward, "Sorry to interrupt the story, but this bridge has a toll."

The man grew nervous, "I have no gold, we are heading to the nearest village hoping to sell some crops."

One of the men shook his head, "Tsk, tsk, that just won't do."

He eyed the boy, "Though I bet what we could get from slavers from a good strong boy like that could cover your passage."

As they moved toward the wagon one noticed a somewhat short man crossing the bridge from the other side. He had a large bag and an even larger battle axe strapped to his back and on his hips he held two sheathed swords, a broad sword on the right, and a short sword on the left.

One of the bandits walked toward him, "I guess nobody pays attention to tolls now."

As he drew near the man with the bag he seemed unconcerned. The bandit reached to grab him but the man quickly drew his short sword, taking the bandits arm before he'd even seen the blade. The leader of the bandits began to speak but the short sword flew through the air and buried itself in his chest. The man then looked to the rest of the bandits with his hand on the hilt of his broad sword, "How about the rest of you drop your weapons and run along."

They obeyed his words without hesitation. The boy's eyes went wide as he noticed the hilt of the short sword in the bandit's chest was topped with a silver coyote's head. His father hopped down to thank the man but noticed him leafing through some paper as he looked on the bandit, "Well, I guess he'll cover a night in the inn."

The man from the wagon gave an annoyed look, "Are you a bounty hunter, or a Sell Sword?"

The man shrugged, "Well I do sell swords, but I'm no mercenary. As for the bounty, well no sense letting it go to waste."

As he gathered up the weapons he looked on the wagon, "You know, I could help you out with something more threatening than a rake to defend your crops."

The farmer grimaced, "I have no money."

The man nodded, "Well, tell you what. This ax is heavy as hell and carrying it and my bounty here is going to be a pain. So how about I trade you for a few of those apples and we call it square."

He held the ax out to show the farmer, "Its not a bad deal."

The farmer nodded and took the ax. The man then looked to the boy and tossed him a small sheathed dagger, "Here kid, consider it compensation for helping with the bounty."

After taking some apples he sheathed the Coyote short sword and tossed the bandit on his shoulder and walked on. After he was out of sight the boy looked up to his father, "That man had the Wolf and the Coyote."

The man patted his son on the head and chuckled, "Don't be silly, boy."

A few miles down the road near an outpost for the army known as the Marshals the man began to feel exhausted. A few marshals rode up, "We seem to have a bandit slayer."

The man looked up, "Is that against the law?"

The marshal shrugged, "Probably, but you saved me some trouble so I'll let it slide."

A one eyed marshal rode up and stared hard at him, "Maybe we should take those blades as a fine."

He looked up with a grin, "You're welcome to try."

The one eyed man hopped off his horse and they stared hard at each other, making a young marshal nervous. Suddenly the two burst out laughing. The one eyed Marshal clapped a hand on his shoulder, "Its been too long Vargas."

The young one looked confused but the other marshal turned to him, "Vargas is Victor's brother. Good thing too cause if those two had to fight the whole damn county might get turned into a crater."

Victor chuckled as he patted the massive ax on his back, "Nonsense, Big Bear could curb his little dogs with ease."

Vargas grinned, "You sure about that? I heard them bones creaking when you got off the horse, maybe you can't swing that thing?"

Victor took Big Bear off his back and swung sending a massive blade of wind that sounded like the roar of a bear toward several tress felling them as they blasted through, "That work for you, little man?"

Vargas looked at the strained expression on his brother's face, "Did you throw your back out?"

"Shut up, boy."

***

Later at the outpost inn Vargas was counting his gold from the bounty as Victor sat down next to him, "You know, my offer still stands."

Vargas rolled his eyes, "I can't be a marshal, I don't have the patience for it. I'd end up in a stockade in a week."

Victor shrugged, "You could name drop the old man and get a command."

"Would you do that?"

Victor looked indignant, "Hell no, I wouldn't give the old bastard the satisfaction."

Vargas shrugged, " I saw his grave up by the capital a while back. They planted a big marble statue of him waving the Wrath around."

Victor burst out laughing, "Glad to here it, he'd of hated that. Here's hoping the demons in hell let him see it."

The young marshal named Clive looked to his elder named Reeve, "Who are they talking about?"

"Magnus of the Angel's Wrath, he was their father. Apparently he wasn't quite the hero he's made out to be. See Victor was nearly a grown man when Vargus was born. His mother died before seeing him and Magnus was always away in battle or just away so Victor raised the boy. Victor had never been too fond of the old man anyway so when Vargas was twelve and he came around talking about his boy earning a blade Victor was not too pleased. Magnus dragged the boy out to the blood wood by the Needle Point ruins and left him there. No one knows exactly what happened but he was missing for a couple years. He came back with the Wolf and Coyote and a bitter hatred for his father. Some people claim he actually glimpsed the Reaper's Arm and scared his soul with the evil of it but he always laughs that off as a myth. They offered Victor the Angel's Wrath after Magnus died but he said he'd just as soon toss it in the ocean."

***

A cloaked man looks on the ruins of the city once known as Seattle. He notices a forest just beyond a fallen building that people now refer to as Needle Point. The forest is an odd place, the trees bare blood red leaves year round. Legend has it that this was the site of the final battle of the reaper war, where the Reaper's Arm clashed with the Angel's Wrath and destroyed the world of the ancients.

The cloaked man walked deep into the Blood wood until he came upon a stone where he found the Reaper's Arm stuck in a large rock with a decayed hand gripping it. The rocks and trees surrounding it had years old scars. It looked as if a giant dog had scraped his claws across the half mile of land behind the scythe. The cloaked man looked down on a third of a skeleton. It had been cleanly cut in thirds but was missing a hand.

The man tossed away the hand and yanked the scythe free. The sky itself seemed to scream as he lifted it. He looked down on the dead man, "If you had been worthy of this, there's no way a child with those dog swords could have defeated you."

He then swung the scythe and grinned as the trees around him rotted and fell.

(To be continued.)

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Malignant part 4

Continued from here part 3

Grigorri main house

As the sun rose Jared made it to a chapter in the hunter's histories called Acton the swordsman. As he read a memory came forth. Jared found himself on a battlefield. Acton stood over a severely injured Aaron and pleaded with a man in front of him, "If he's made like you, he will survive."

The tall Danish man looked them over, "There's no telling whether or not he'd even survive the process, and quite frankly I don't know if he deserves to. Not much good in a fight."

Acton pulled his sword and dagger, "I could just kill you and take your blood to save him."

The Dane rested a hand on the hilt of his sword, "Does he mean so much to you?"

"He's my brother, I will save him."

One of the Dane's comrades looked Acton over, "Grimmr, he's a hunter."

Grimmr nodded, "Then he will be replaced."

The Dane then shouted to his men, "If he wins, no vengeance will be taken. Am I understood?"

The men behind him all nodded as Grimmr pulled his sword and focused on Acton, "Are you sure?"

The hunter gave a nod. Grimmr then charged. His men seemed shocked when Acton blocked and slashed across Grimmr's chest. The took a step back and grinned, "I haven't been cut in a while."

Acton then swung for his head, he dodged but was caught in the arm by the hunter's dagger. The Dane then slashed at his hand removing Acton's dagger and three finger. He then swung hard at Acton's sword snapping the blade before driving his own deep in his chest.

Before he fell Acton grabbed Grimmr by the arm and looked into his eyes, "Please don't let him die."

Grimmr had a solemn look as he stared into the man's eyes. Acton slid off his blade as he fell to the ground. Grimmr looked on Aaron and spoke, "You owe that man a debt."

The memory faded to black in that moment.

Aaron spoke up from behind, "It was during the crusades, Grimmr and his people had no love for the Catholic church and the Muslims paid well."

Jared turned, "Did you get revenge?"

Aaron shook his head, "The Dane made me immortal and turned me into a warrior. Knowing what I do now, there was no other way it could have ended. You should be prepared for the possibility of an early death, I've never met a hunter that made it past 40."

***

Namtar stood just outside a protective barrier around the Grigorri main house and talked to the Oni behind him, "So close yet so far."

The Oni glared, "Why not just go take him?"

Namtar chuckled, "You young ones, always so impatient. It would take all the power I have just to keep from being ripped apart crossing this barrier, then I'd have to deal with a small army of magic users trained specifically to kill our kind."

"Then what was the point of coming here?"

"Its always a good idea to know where the enemy hangs his hat."

The Oni rolled his eyes, "And why am I here?"

"To send a message."

He then pushed the Oni over the line and watched him explode as alarms went off throughout the main house. Namtar then quietly slipped away as several people ran to look on the remains of the Oni. Their was a patch of skin in the shape of a hand with a simple message written on it, 'Hello, Jared.'

***

New York City

Namtar appeared behind the demon lord Asmodeus, "I don't see a hunter's head with you."

Namtar shrugged, "He's been shielded by the Grigorri."

"That was fast."

Namtar nodded in agreement, "That house did have much to be concerned about. The Dane's prized student was there, and it appears Ezra has collected your half monkey bastard as well."

He then turned to a large man sitting on a sofa in the office, "And speaking of half monkeys, You are Viggo?"

Viggo nodded, "Do not compare the Nephilim to half demon offspring."

Asmodeus glared at them, "We all serve the same master. Viggo's people have agreed to help us in exchange for aid in eliminating a problem of their own."

***

A new crater on the side of Mount Karpinsky along the Urals.

A man name Rick sits on a rock in tattered and torn clothing as a cigarette hangs from his mouth. He looked to a pair of dead Nephilim as Ezra appeared in front of him, "You made a bit of a mess."

Rick looked to the sorcerer with annoyance, "They started it. My people don't take no for an answer very well."

Ezra sat down on a rock near him, "Have you given any thought to my offer?"

"Since when do your hunters need help?"

Ezra sighed, "Something bad is coming, can't say for sure what it is but this world is going to be trapped in the middle of it. Whether he needs help or not is inconsequential, leaving the fate of billions on one man's shoulders is illogical and unfair."

Rick flipped away the butt of his cigarette, "Should have thought of that when you cast your spell."

"It wasn't my idea."

Rick sat in thought for a moment, "You still offering a pay check?"

Ezra nodded.

(To be continued)

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Malignant part 3

Continued from here part 2

Grigorri main house

Jessie escorted Jared around the ground floor as he lugged the large heavy book the gnome had given him. He was surprised that he was beginning to feel strain while holding it. As he considered it Jessie clapped his shoulder to get his attention back as she motioned toward the man practicing with a wooden sword, "Jarred Maxwell, meet Aaron. He's been an agent of the Grigorri longer than either of us have been alive."

Jared looked the man over noting he didn't look more than 25. Aaron noticed the confused look, "I'm a hell of a lot older than I look kid. You want a real shock have Ezra show you how he looks without that spell some time."

Aaron looked to Jessie, "He have any combat experience?"

Jessie shrugged, "I doubt it, he's only 19."

Aaron chuckled, "In my day he could have been a veteran by then."

Jarred dropped the book on a near by table with a thud. Aaron looked on the tome with a small grin as he tossed the wooden sword to Jarred, "I suppose I should take his measure."

Before Jared saw him move Aaron revealed another wooden sword and swung for Jarred's head. Without thinking Jared moved his sword and blocked while his other hand reached for his belt for reasons Jared couldn't quite explain. Aaron laughed as he looked at his stance, "Its instinct, you're going for a dagger. The hunter Acton was fond of paring sword and dagger."

Aaron stepped back before looking Jared in the eye, "Ready for a rematch old man?"

Jared heard a chuckle from inside his head as Aaron charged him again while gruffly speaking, "The abilities of your predecessors are within you."

Jared's body once again moved without him but Aaron struck him across the midsection with the flat of his blade and knocking the wind out of him.

Aaron stood above him, "Its just a matter of you learning to follow those new instincts."

A memory flashed to the image of the demon hunter Acton looking over armor he was wearing in a mirror as a young boy who bared a striking resemblance to Aaron helped him with the straps. Jared looked up from the floor to Aaron, "How do you know Acton?"

Aaron offered a hand to help him up, "I was his Squire, before our lives got strange. He taught me to use a sword when I was a boy."

Jared's eyes narrowed a bit, "You aren't human."

"Not for quite some time, no."

***

Aurora, Illinois

Namtar appeared in front of the home of Jared Maxwell and his father. He felt as the demon died inside the house and went to walk toward the house. He stopped at the sight of many very small, almost imperceptible arcane symbols on the lawn ornaments and furniture. He stepped back and muttered to himself, "The one inside must have been young, this place is clearly a death trap."

The door swung open to reveal Bob Maxwell. He stepped out on the porch and sat in a chair as he opened a beer. Namtar gave a slight grin as he spoke, "Don't suppose you'd just invite me in."

Bob shrugged, " I guess this means you haven't found my boy yet."

Namtar placed a hand on his hip, "Do you expect these traps to stop all of my kind?"

Bob chuckled, "Nope, but that old wizard has been calling for a couple days. I'm pretty damn sure none of you is gonna just stroll up on his lawn."

Namtar sighed, "This is just not my day, but do advise your son that a relatively quick death from me would be far preferable to what awaits him should I fail."

Bob sipped his beer and shrugged, "Why are demons always so damned dramatic?"

With that Namtar was gone.

***

New York City

A large man named Lloyd Wilson sits staring at a building. The office of the demon lord Asmodeus resides on the fifteenth floor. Lloyd had been watching this building for days biding his time, waiting for the demon lord to come out alone. As he stared a voice comes up next to him on a bench, "Its not like in the movies kid."

Lloyd turned to see Ezra as the wizard continued, "That building is a little patch of hell on Earth. No amount of righteous indignation is going to get you out alive. Being half demon isn't going to help either."

Lloyd glared at him, "Are you trying to scare me off?"

Ezra grinned, "No, I'm offering you the chance to help me get rid of the place. It sits here like a tumor. Sure its not the only place demons come from in this world but taking it down would be a hell of a black eye for them."

Lloyd turned, "Who said I wanted out alive?"

Ezra shrugged, "Its a moot point since you wouldn't make it past the receptionist without help. Meaning you walk in there now or try to take him out when he comes out the door, you'll die. No revenge, no closure, just instant death."

"So how are you going to help?"

The bench suddenly appeared before the Grigorri main house, "You'll see."

(To be continued)

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Splicers: The Corps part 20

Continued from here part 19

Rob and the rest looked on in horror as the monster of a man hurled Kirby through the small guard shack. He then turned to face them. Rob looked to Hollis, "Who the hell is that?"

Hollis shrugged, "No idea."

They heard a laugh from behind and Rob turned to see Markus Drake, "Rossini says he's got a bunch of names. Hercules, Gilgamesh, there's even a good chance Paul Bunyun was based on this guy. Regardless of what you call him, he's probably gonna kill you."

As he spoke the man snatched Rob and Hollis up by the throats and looked ready to crush them when he was struck by a chunk of wall from behind. Agent Johnson's voice echoed in the big man's ear as he ordered him to crush the two he held but a grin crept across his face and he dropped them.

He turned to Kirby and bellowed, "You think you can beat me?"

Kirby cracked his knuckles as he answered, "Only one way to find out."

Agent Johnson hit his comm and spoke to Rossini, "He ignored an order."

Rossini nodded as he watched a monitor, "I noticed."

"Should I shut him down?"

"No, I want to see how this goes."

The big man charged toward Kirby. As he came in striking distance Kirby slammed a fist into his jaw sending him to the ground and letting out a shock wave that rattled the ground around them. The big man looked up to Kirby with a smile as blood dripped from his mouth, "That's the spirit boy."

He then drove a foot into Kirby's gut and launched him into the air. Before he landed the man was up and caught him with a right hook that drove him hard into the ground. He then moved to grab him but Kirby punched him in the knee before raising a shoulder into his gut and slamming him down. As they landed, the man drove a hard shot into Kirby's kidney and flung him off. He then rolled over and got Kirby in a head lock when he whispered in his ear, "Break the collar if you can, I do not wish to fight you but I cannot hold back."

Kirby grabbed his arms and forced them apart as he threw him off. He then attempted to go for his throat.

Across the field Emerson pulled herself up as Drake appeared behind her with a gun, "You shoulda stuck with clubbing girl."

As he pulled the trigger he was shocked to see her dodge at such close range. She then drove a fist into his gut before slamming an elbow into his mouth. She snatched the gun but he was gone before she could shoot. He appeared behind her and attempted to grab her but she turned quick and delivered a high kick to the side of his head.

Agent Johnson passed up through the ground behind Rob, Ellis and Hollis to take them out but Ellis had seen it coming and slammed the but of his gun into the Agent's nose as he went solid. The team then focused on Kirby's fight.

The two monstrous men squared off and charged at each other. The man tried to punch Kirby but was dodged as the blue man finally got a grip on his collar. Rob over heard Rossini practically scream over Johnson's comm, "Shut him down, shut him don now!"

Rob chuckled as Johnson layed unconscious. Kirby ripped the collar from the large man's neck and dropped to a knee breathing heavily as the fight halted, "Now what?"

The man walked toward the building. As he stood before it he lifted a foot and slammed it down as hard as he could. Several supporting walls crumbled from the vibrations it caused and the building dropped down around them. They team looked a bit shocked at this display of power as he spoke, "This man, Rossini was his name?"

Kirby stepped up beside him, "Yup."

"If he were to die tonight what would happen?"

"You'd be labeled a terrorist and Nexus would treat him like a fallen hero."

The man sighed, "When you reveal him for what he is, come find me and I will kill him slowly. I will not make a martyr of him."

Rossini dropped down in his chair as his monitors went blank, "S**t."

(To be continued)

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Malignant part 2

Continued from here part 1

Los Angeles, California

A creature that looks like a man stands over a frightened woman in the living room of an opulent mansion, "There's that look again. Why is it that when humans sell their souls, they're always so surprised when we come to collect?"

The woman began to whimper as he sighed, "Don't cry to me lady, I'm just the collection agent."

He snatched her up by the throat, "It's over, just accept it."

Just before he killed her another like him appeared, "Namtar, you are summoned."

He looked back still holding the woman, "I'm busy."

"Lord Asmodeus requires your presence."

Namtar sighed again as he snapped the woman's neck, "I hate the quick kills, so unsatisfying."

The two then disappeared.

***

Grigori main house, Outside Chicago, Illinois

Jared followed Ezra into a massive room filled with books. Ezra pointed to the stacks, "This library contains pretty much every bit of known information on demons, monsters, magic and pretty much everything else that the modern world can't explain. Also the librarian keeps an excellent music collection on hand, not particularly helpful but its nice to have."

The heard someone clear his throat from behind. Jared turned to see a small man like creature that stood no higher than Jared's thigh holding a book more than half his size. He looked Jared over, "He doesn't look like much."

Jared was mildly insulted, "What's that supposed to mean?"

The creature tossed the book to Jared who just now noticed the rough pale skin of the creature. He noticed him staring, "What, never seen a gnome before?"

"Umm, no."

The gnome rolled his eyes, "Oh good another blank slate."

Ezra stepped between the two, "This is Dovel, the librarian. Yes he's a gnome and no he will not have a conversation about it. The book is the history of your predecessors, I'd suggest you become familiar with it."

The sorcerer walked on as Jared tried to keep up, "Wait, gnomes are a real thing?"

"Yup, gnomes, elves, trolls all real along with many other things people assume are fairy tales but your primary concern is demons and the trouble they cause."

They rounded the corner and met the red haired woman who had been watching Jared. Ezra gave her a smile as he introduced her, "This is Jessie, from this point on she will be your handler."

He then patted her on the shoulder, "I leave him in your care."

He turned to Jared, "Welcome aboard."

With that he was gone. Jared looked to Jessie, "It that guy normal for this place?"

She grinned, "One thing you'll learn working here, normal is a myth."

***

New York City

A large creature in the form of a man sits at desk in front of a window overlooking Central Park as Namtar enters, "It was very rude to interrupt my work."

The demon lord Asmodeus looked up, "A new hunter has been discovered."

"And?"

"Is that not reason enough?"

Namtar dropped in a chair, "There is always a new one popping up. You've personally killed what, five?"

"Six, but this is different. Apparently there's some prophecy about him that Lucifer himself is concerned about. He asks that you nip it in the bud before it becomes an issue."

Namtar gave a nod, "Where do I find him?"

***

Aurora, Illinois

Bob Maxwell and his date walk to the house. Bob enters first and turns on the light as his date stops just inside the door. Bob looks back at her surprised face, "Yup I was expecting that. Its too bad, that's a fine looking suit."

The woman tried to step back but was stuck as Bob continued, "Its a salt trap, my Grandpa taught me how to make it. Old witch hunter trick, oddly enough it doesn't actually work on witches but demons get stuck."

He then opened the closet and slid away a hidden panel as he pulled out an ax, "Now are you gonna tell me why you things have been following my boy?"

The woman practically hissed, "He is the hunter."

Bob nodded, "That actually explains a lot."

He then swung the ax. at her head."

(To be continued)

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