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 Demon Hunter Chronicles (Not Fanfiction)

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PostSubject: Demon Hunter Chronicles (Not Fanfiction)   Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:34 am

NOTE: This is not a fanfic, this is an original work by me. I was told that since their isn't a section for original pieces I should just post it here but make it clear that it was NOT fanfiction. For that purpose I will repeat again, THIS IS NOT A FANFICTION!

P.N.: One more thing, believe it or not I did develop the character Celestius long before I had ever even heard of Hellsing, take that with as much or as little salt as you want.

Any and all criticism welcomed.

Demon Hunter Chronicles
Vol 1.
By *censored for the author's protection*



Prologue

The soldiers moved quickly and silently, rifles up and gazes alert as they slipped between the trees of the forest with no company but the dark stillness of night. No sound but the faint sound of breathing, yet there passage was noticed.

Demons, a powerful and evil race who live on an entirely separate plane of existence from our own.

Suddenly a branch snapped somewhere in the forest, the soldiers stopped, peering into the forest. One, the officer, raised his hand and signaled two soldiers to scout the area the sound had come from. The two soldiers quietly walked forward, one facing the front, the barrel of his rifle following his gaze, the other peering to the left and right, watching for anything that might attack from the sides.

Demons are arranged into four types, ranked in accordance to how they act, the ranks are D, C, B, and A.

One of the pair raised his hand, signaling an all clear and the two slowly rejoined the main group of fifteen men. The troop again began moving through the forest, seeking their quarry.

D-ranks are the weakest individually, dying as easily as men; they do however have one redeeming factor, the power of numbers.

In the tree branches, several feet above the heads of the soldiers unfriendly eyes witnessed their passing. Then, with a terrible shrieking, a terrible humanoid shape launched itself from the darkness. The reactions of the soldiers were immediate, four rifles swung up and fired, the demon’s momentum was reversed and it flew back into the darkness, its chest ripped apart from the powerful fire of their rifles. Then the forest came alive in a raging whirlwind of teeth and claws as the demons attacked.

C-ranks are next in the hierarchy and are almost completely opposite of D-ranks. Massive territorial creatures the only time you will ever find more than one in an area is during the mating season of that particular C-rank demon.

The soldiers were arranged in a circle, nine soldiers in the front ring with the other six inside, the forest was filled with the shrieking of demons and the deafening crack of gun-fire. Already a massive pile of dead demons littered the ground; the soldiers were literally knee-deep in the dead. Then an ominous bellowing, as from a creature far larger than these miniscule beasts echoed through the forest, they had more to deal with than a swarm.

Then there are B-ranks, the first of the demonic types to have intelligence, they can speak, cast spells and even comprehend our own technology, they can also tame the more primitive demons.

The C-rank demon appeared from the trees running forward, a horrid construction of flailing, clawed limbs, and gnashing teeth well over twenty feet tall. On its back a horrid figure, like some monstrous mockery of a man rode on its back, whipping the behemoth into an even greater frenzy, cackling madly as the beast ran straight into the gunfire directed into it, many of the bullets glancing off or barely penetrating as it smashed into the line of soldiers, knocking aside three in a single blow, killing two of them from impact, the third broke his neck landing.

One of the soldiers unslung a case from his back and opened it, a grenade launcher, already loaded with powerful incendiary rounds. Yet the demon spotted the soldier, dropping the whip it pointed its hand at the soldier and uttered a phrase in a snarling, blasphemous language, a bolt of red light shot from its hand and took the soldier in the chest, hurling him a dozen meters where he lay motionless, only to have his corpse ripped apart by the rampaging D-ranks.

Finally we have A-ranks, the strongest and most powerful demons, while B-ranks are fairly smart A-ranks are as intelligent as anyone you could name…and powerful. The weakest of A-ranks could overwhelm the strongest of B’s and no normal weapon can even kill them, only special weapons forged for one purpose, and one purpose only can kill them, to do anything else is to prolong the inevitable.

The C-rank snatched up a soldier and placed him in its hungry maw, his legs sticking out and flailing before falling to the ground as the demon’s fangs clamped down, slicing through bone, armor, and flesh with equal ease. Only six soldiers remained, firing madly and in one case even running, his rifle thrown aside, the other five were nearly broken themselves. One by one the remaining soldiers either turned and fled, or was ripped apart, and those who fled did not fair any better for the D-ranks merely chased them down or the B-rank smote them with a bolt of energy, until all the soldiers were dead, and the only sound was the triumphant roaring of the C-rank, and the bickering of the D-ranks as they fought over the pieces of the men’s’ corpses.











Chapter 1


Antonio carefully and calmly set the report on his desk, wanting to slam it down, or crumple it, or rip it to shreds. Christ he wanted to rip his whole office apart! An entire squad of soldiers slaughtered, not a single survivor in the lot of them, killed by a B, C, and swarm of D-ranks! No, not a swarm, it was an entire goddamned hive of D-ranks, a hive! Nearly eighty miles from the nearest portal to the Demonic Plane!
Antonio rested his elbows on his desk, rubbing his temples and staring down at the report, alas such attacks were becoming frequently more common. For some reason he could not figure out demonic activity had spiked dramatically within the last two months, raising from 33% of reported demonic activities actually being demonic in origin to 88%, it was astounding. The last time in history that demons had been this active was just before the Demon Master Falasius led his screaming hordes out of the Demonic Plane and nearly conquered the entire world, and that was nearly three-thousand years ago. Of course, just because demonic activity had spiked so drastically didn’t necessarily mean that another Falasius had appeared, although that was the most likely and certainly the least liked of the possibilities.
The demon hunter shook his head, focusing his thoughts, idle speculation on the spike in demonic activity would get him nowhere, and he needed to think about what he could actually do. Here in the grand city of New York relatively few demons attacked, maybe because they were scared of Antonio’s reputation, that brought a wry smile to his lips. Then again, while New York had fewer demons, those demons that did come here were usually very, very powerful, or not even demons.
He shook his head again, focus he needed to focus, but he didn’t want to. Pretty much everything he’d gotten was either a report on more soldiers dead or an agent reporting a dead-end on an investigation into a demonic attack. The fact was Antonio felt…useless, not something the demon hunter was used to feeling. It was a frustrating emotion, uselessness, his hands itched with his inaction, itched to get out into the field and fight as he had once done when he started this group four years ago.
Yet, he couldn't a commander was not supposed to charge into battle sword swinging, he was supposed to tell the grunts to do that. It was his job not to fight, but decide how to fight and what to do after the fight. Yet...he had to do something, even if it was just going over a crime scene he had to do something, he couldn't stand to do anything else. Standing up he headed, not to the door, but to a weapons rack hanging on his left wall, on the rack were several weapons, a shotgun, SMG, spear, all of these were plain, functional weapons except…one weapon, near the top, was not so plain. This blade was massive, easily a great sword. It was fully six feet long from pommel to blade-tip and a dull, lustreless black. The hilt and cross guard accounted for a foot and a half of the total length. The hilt being rougher in feel to the rest of it for a better grip. The pommel was rounded with a spike out of the bottom. The cross guard was the most arresting feature, being shaped into the head of a demon shrieking in pain, spikes curved upwards towards the blade protruding from its head.
This was the weapon Antonio pulled from the rack, holding it firmly by the hilt, blade pointed up. This blade had a lot of history, Antonio had been using it for years and before that…Antonio gave himself a shake, he’d drifted off again. Strapping a rather large sheathe to his back he then placed the blade into the sheath and then began walking towards the door. Admittedly where he was going he shouldn’t need to defend himself but…better safe than sorry. Antonio’s office was deep in the massive complex that formed the main branch of the Demon Hunter Initiative, or DHI for short. The DHI was formed four years ago in 2038, when Antonio had appeared and brought with him the knowledge of demons. It had rocked humanity to the core but they had accepted it with relative ease, after all he did have proof. Immediately the United Nations created an official worldwide organization for the combating of demons. It held authority in every location on the globe except for the Middle East, the forces of Al Qaeda refusing to agree to the UN’s authority.
Even back then Antonio was greatly supported to be the leader. However, at Antonio’s own urging, they put someone more experienced in the matters of running an organization at the head, with Antonio functioning as an advisor in demonic affairs until he was deemed ready for the role, three years later. Antonio himself was an imposing figure; fully six feet and three inches tall he had a quiet authority. His hair and eyes were both black and his body was lean and muscles, not largely muscled, being slimmer and wirier than the typical idea of muscular, but strong nonetheless.
Since a good portion of being a leader was looking the part his wardrobe consisted of functional suits, similar to what FBI agents were supposed to wear. It looked quite odd with the massive blade strapped to his back. Additionally his hair was neatly combed and cut short enough to make it difficult for an opponent to grab it but long enough to actually have a hairstyle. Everything about Antonio either spoke of authority or function, as he progressed through the building he was greeted by the numerous employees, whether agents, soldiers, or simple clerks and secretaries all stopped what they were doing if only to say a brief word.
“Good afternoon Mr. Antonio.”
“Greeting sir!”
“Nice to see you looking so well.” And other such statements followed him throughout the building; he met each of these with a nod, and for the high-ranking individuals a word in return. Tedious, but necessary. Finally, he reached the parking garage, where his own vehicle, a motorcycle, was parked. It had little difference in appearance from the motorcycles of forty years ago, having merely two strange openings facing towards wherever the motorcycle would be headed. Antonio didn’t give these a second thought however, merely getting onto his motorcycle, adjusting the sword’s position on his back as he did so, and then drove off.
His destination was in a section of New York City devoted almost entirely to warehouses. A few days ago DHI forces had eliminated a C-rank Arachnid type demon. As of yet it was unknown how the demon had been transported to the location or why it was even there. Although it was unlikely Antonio would be able to find anything the forensics team hadn’t it would at least feel as if he were doing something, and who knows, maybe he would find something.
The city of New York hadn’t changed much over the years, it had gotten bigger yes, and the buildings had gotten taller, but for the most part little was different. Traffic was heavy and many people walked to and fro along the streets, heading somewhere all of them or wanting to have the illusion of heading somewhere. Some parts of the city were run-down with crime and gang activity running rampant. Homeless took shelter in the alleyways and scrounged along dumpsters for recyclables. Finally Antonio reached his destination, a non-descript warehouse in a long line of non-descript warehouses, notable only for the yellow tape with the big black words “CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS” printed across it.
Parking his motorcycle along the edge of the road Antonio dismounted, walking towards the entrance to the warehouse. It looked big from a distance and looked even bigger up close, the doorway being especially large to allow large cargo to enter and exit with ease, and it was all strung over with tape, gaps at the bottom allowing a person to slip in with a little care. Entering the warehouse one would receive the illusion that it was even bigger than the outside. Directly in front was a large aisle path, with numerous crates, boxes, and metal containers filling the building. The roof stretched up, easily thirty feet above Antonio’s head and aside from the open path in front one could not see far into the warehouse due to the all the containers filling it.
The actual scene of the attack was further in a ways, deep in the maze like tunnels of containers and boxes. It only took Antonio a few minutes to navigate the warehouse and reach the actual scene. Having been only a few days the scene was much unchanged from after the fight with the C-rank. It seemed to be another typical box-lined corridor, except for the bloodstains and massive spider web blocking the path through.
Antonio eyed the strands of webbing warily as he approached, a light brush and he’d be stuck for hours unless he was willing to cut off whatever had gotten entangled. So…now what? Unfortunately in his haste to actually do something he’d forgotten to bring any tools that could actually allow him to perform any kind of forensics…oops. Antonio sighed, running a hand through his hair, this was what happened when you let emotions rule your mind. Antonio turned around, this had been a pointless, idiotic idea, he didn’t even know why he’d really decided to come here. He was leaving, now.
“Going somewhere Demon hunter?”
Antonio stiffened, slowly turning towards the source of the voice. In the shadows a figure could just barely be made out, apparently leaning against a crate. Grasping the hilt of his sword with one hand Antonio spoke, “You are trespassing on an official Demonic Crime Scene, come out with your hands where I can see them.”
The figure chuckled and walked forward into the light. He was of average height, with steely-grey hair drawn into a tight ponytail. He was dressed…he was dressed in old-fashioned, white samurai clothing, with a matching katana sheathed at his side. His eyes were grey and he had a mocking smile as he walked forward, hands held up in the air.
“Stop there, and identify yourself.”
The man’s mocking smile widened, his teeth were filed to points, “Name’s Celestius, and you…you’re Antonio.”
Antonio was unimpressed, he was in the news frequently and it wouldn’t be difficult to recognize him, especially with him carrying his great sword, that was an especially distinguishing item. “Alright then…Celestius, why are you here?”
“Nothing really, I was just given this pesky mission to assassinate a powerful leader if he showed up.” If it wasn’t for the grin one could have thought Celestius was talking about getting a cup of tea.
The sword made a rasping sound as it was pulled from the sheath, blade tip resting on the ground as the demon hunter regarded the figure. So…there was a spy in the DHI, not unexpected but somehow they’d also known that Antonio was headed here, unless there were multiple assassins, spread over different possible locations around New York…but why here? How had they even known this place was a possibility? At any rate there was no point in telling Celestius he was under arrest, the man was obviously playing with the whole hands in the air thing…mocking Antonio, not a smart move. “So then, I assume since you were hired to assassinate me you know of my skills?” He asked in a quiet, steady voice.
“Oh yes, I know all about yo-“ Right as Celestius had begun speaking Antonio suddenly dashed forward, a light wave of air following him. Only, he was moving far faster than a normal human should be able to. There was the ringing clash of metal on metal as Celestius drew his blade in the nick of time, catching Antonio’s black sword on his own shining steel. “Hehe, its not polite to attack while someone else is talking you know.” Although he tried to put amusement into his voice Celestius couldn’t hide the strain of holding Antonio’s blade back, sweat dotting his forehead.
Antonio pressed hard, another slight gust of wind seemed to come from Antonio, then Celestius was suddenly flying through the air, to be stopped cold, thanks to a nice steel container that had courteously stopped his flight. Celestius fell to his knees, gasping, and barely rolled aside in time to dodge a powerful overhand swing from Antonio. The assassin scrambled madly to avoid getting carved up as Antonio patiently pursued him, that black blade flickering and probing, eager to spill his blood. Celestius managed to get to his feet and jumped, landing atop the aisle of crates and boxes, nearly thirty feet in the air. “You’re not the only one with magic, Demon hunter!” Celestius spat, wiping a bit of blood off his cheek from a narrowly avoided thrust.
Again, Antonio didn’t answer, merely leaping himself, easily reaching Celestius’ former location, the assassin having jumped away, to another aisle fifty meters away from Antonio. With distance between them, and Antonio not immediately pursuing Celestius seemed to regain some of his bluster, “hehe, gotta say that air pressure of yours is impressive.” Antonio’s eyes widened slightly, “Oh yes Demon hunter, I know all about your Pressure magic, you decrease the air pressure on your body, decreasing your weight and air resistance, allowing you to move faster and hit harder its quite the fancy little technique.”
“Thanks.” Antonio said, suddenly dissappearing, he reappeared in front of Celestius, blade slamming downwards, only to clash in a brilliant play of sparks against Celestius’ own blade. “Air pressure is 14.7 pounds per square inch of body area, the average human male has over seven thousand square inches of area, its an obvious technique to use when your standard physical abilities are insufficient.” The last word came out a grunt as Antonio, pivoted, bringing his great sword around in a powerful horizontal slash, the assassin leaped over it, landing twenty meters away, grinning.
“Ah, but its not that simple is it? After all, some portion of that weight is cancelled out thanks to opposing forces so you don’t become quite as strong or fast as you’d think.” Again Antonio rushed forward, and this time Celestius met him blade for blade, in a powerful exchange of blows, the assassin showing a remarkable turn of speed, the two separated facing each other, a new wariness in Antonio’s gaze.
Antonio’s breathing deepened and he uttered a single word, “Zero” he dissappeared, immediately appearing behind Celestius, his sword held out paralell with the ground as if he’d just completed a slash, a moment later, blood fountained from Celestius as a devestating gash opened up all along his chest, from the right shoulder, down to the left hip. Celestius slowly fell to his knees, blood leaking from his mouth, eyes wide in surprise and shock, “It would seem Assassin, that you didn’t know my power as well as you thought.” Antonio said, beginning to walk away along the mountain of containers.
“Perhaps I don’t…but you clearly don’t understand my powers at all.” Celestius…giggled, and Antonio slowly turned, to find Celestius facing him, completely unharmed, the only sign he had been hurt were his robes, which were bloodstained and torn in the exact path of Antonio’s slash. Antonio took a step back, eyes wide, knuckles white from the deathgrip he had on his blade. “Don’t look so surprised Demon hunter, I am a soulstealer after all.” The…soulstealer grinned and pointed his blade at Antonio, “I can absorb the souls of those I kill, and use them to increase my physical abilities and even heal myself, wanna see?”
Antonio never got the chance to answer, as suddenly all the air was knocked out of him by a ruthless punch straight into the demonhunter’s stomach. He hadn’t even seen Celestius move! Before Antonio could even begin to recover from the sudden blow, Celestius grabbed a fistful of Antonio’s suit and tossed him, sending the demon hunter flying across the warehouse, where he crashed heavily into a wall of containers…the tables had turned. Antonio picked himself up, wincing in pain, he might have a broken rib or two after that. At any rate, he needed to get out of here, it seemed that Celestius didn’t know where he’d landed or else the soul stealer would be all over him by now so he had some respite, but there was no way he could defeat Celestius on his own, not without a miracle or a stroke of genius.
Leaning against the containers for support Antonio moved quietly along the pathways, his blade clutched tightly in one hand, alert for the slightest movement or sound that would indicate his discovery. If he could just get to his motorcycle he could radio for help, maybe get Ajit or Kirill out here to help him. Suddenly a voice rang out, “Come on out Demon hunter! I can’t spend all day playing with you!” Celestius, looking for him. He didn’t seem to know where Antonio was, but he still sounded a bit too close for comfort. Antonio kept moving, now moving even slower and quieter. Celestius kept calling out, taunting Antonio, trying to find him.
The Demon hunter kept moving, the sound of his breathing seemed incredibly loud. His chest hurt every time he took a step, a sharp pain, which was definitely not good. There was a thump from above him, “Demon hunter.” Celestius called out tauntingly. Antonio slowly looked up, to the source of the call, eyes wide. And then had to suppress a sigh of relief, Celestius was right there above him, but he hadn’t seen Antonio, it was merely coincidence that Celestius had called out from this position. However, the demon hunter didn’t dare move until he was out of sight. After a few seconds Celestius leaped off, and Antonio relaxed, again beginning his quiet movement out of the warehouse.
After ten more minutes of careful creeping he began to grow frustrated, he had no idea where he was and a confrontation with Celestius would be madness. Had Antonio been sufficiently prepared he might have considered it, the soul stealer’s style of fighting was ludicrously straight forward, but as it was he was horribly prepared for a confrontation with someone physically superior to him. Then he turned a corner and inspiration struck him.

Celestius leapt across another row of crates, frustration mounting as that bastard demon hunter remained stubbornly hidden. Where the hell was that guy!? This was supposed to be simple, wait at the warehouse in case Antonio showed up here and if he did, kill him dead. He hadn’t thought he was going to be playing a horribly dragged out game of hide and seek in the process! “Demon hunter!” Celestius called out tauntingly for the thousandth time, managing to keep his growing frustration hidden. He didn’t expect the man to answer, but he wanted Antonio to feel fear, to keep huddling in the shadows like a frightened mouse, frustration or no frustration.
“I’m over here you slimy bastard!”
The soulstealer was so surprised he very nearly tumbled off the containers. Antonio had actually answered! In a flash Celestius dashed towards the location, arriving in the aisle in just a few moments, katana held in one hand. His excitement faded though, Antonio wasn’t here, and there were just those massive strands of webbing from the demon. Had he gone to the wrong aisle? His hearing picked up a sound coming from behind and he whirled, blade flashing. The clang of steel on steel rang out as Antonio’s massive sword clashed with Celestius’ then the demon hunter rammed his blade up, catching the soul stealer’s in the crossguard and sending both swords flying. Before Celestius could recover, Antonio grabbed him by the arm and spun him around, tossing the soul stealer like a rag doll. Strangely, his flight didn’t come to an abrupt halt but slowly ended, as if he had impacted on something soft and pliable…the spider web!
Celestius realized too late the trap Antonio had laid for him, and could only struggle helplessly as Antonio enacted the second phase of his plan, catching the black great sword as it fell back down Antonio dashed forward, leaping and slashing. Celestius flew off in two directions, the spider web hitting the containers with a thwack and sticking there. Nearly thirty feet separating the soul stealer from his legs and part of his abdomen. Blood poured from his body, an unceasing torrent as the magic of his sword, still in effect despite the distance, caused his body to regenerate, but it couldn’t heal itself completely, not without Celestius getting back to his legs, and he couldn’t, he was trapped like a fly.

Antonio rested against a crate, watching as blood poured from the two halves of the soulstealer. That little stunt had worked, Celestius wasn’t going anywhere, but he had to be sure. So Antonio would stand there, until the would-be-assassin was dead, and Antonio could be sure he wouldn’t trouble anyone. It was unpleasant, but necessary.



Chapter 2

The very next day Antonio was back in his office, doing that joy of leadership, paperwork. His outfit wasn’t much changed except under his shirt was a bandage, he’d broken a rib, and only worsened matters by walking and then throwing, jumping, and slashing. Fortunately, modern technology was excellent and they had fixed Antonio up no problem if with strong admonishments not to do any strenuous activities in the next week. That wouldn’t be a problem, he hadn’t been planning on strenuous activity when he’d gotten the broken rib! That incident with Celestius was a fluke…no, not a fluke, somehow someone had known Antonio was going to be there, or rather at one of several locations. He wasn’t certain which yet but he had sent several highly skilled agents to check various crimescenes around the city.

It was in this state, doing paperwork and contemplating recent developments, that he was found by one of his agents, who entered the room after a brief knock. Kirill was one of Antonio’s best agents, and definitely not human. He was easily seven feet tall, probably more, and covered head to toe in shining metal armor, that let not a single feature of him be seen, the joints were covered and connected by chain. However, one could easily get a good impression of his features for the armor was molded to his form, outlining his body and giving a rough idea of the creature beneath.

Judging by the armor he was a very muscular creature, with a long, powerful tail. His head had a distinctly reptilian shape to it, or perhaps draconic would be a better word. His fingers were clawed and his feet had the three toed appearance most associated with dinosaurs. Finally his helm had the short, triangular shape of the stereo-typical European Dragon, complete with horns on the back, or rather hollow pieces of metal that his horns fit into. “What news?” Antonio asked, getting straight to the point.

“I journeyed to the location specified and there I found and apprehended an individual who I believe was placed there for the same purpose as Celestius.” Kirill replied, his voice a growling rumble, “He currently awaits in the interrogation room as we speak.”

“Well, well, I must say that’s far better than I did.” Replied a smooth voice from the shadows. Out of the darkness emerged a slim, elegant figure. He was dressed in a pin-striped suit, under his arm was tucked a book. He had tanned skin with black hair and brown eyes. He was smiling, an amused expression as if he were watching some little bug squirming beneath his fingers. His name was Ajit Agarkar, a dark elf and one of Antonio’s elite agents.

“I see you’ve taken some time from defiling graves?” Kirill asked insultingly.

“Oh, I don’t defile the graves, I defile the bodies.” Ajit responded right back, almost seeming not to care at all about the exchange.

Kirill growled and took a menacing step forward, Antonio simply ignored the conflict and turned to face Ajit, “What have you got?”

“Nothing really,” Ajit said, turning from the Dragon-kin, “No one was there although I could detect the residue of an incredibly powerful magical presence.”

So, it would seem that only one of the assassins had still been in place, although it was far more likely that Kirill had found him by coincidence. Of course there was still one agent he hadn’t heard from but he was confident what that report would be. Almost as if on cue, the door burst open and a powerful, booming voice proclaimed, “And thus did Odin create Ale! So that enemies might drown their enmity in the drunken stupor of camaraderie.”

This loud booming voice, combined with a reference to the Norse Gods, would undoubtedly have the person looking up, for a tall viking like individual. Antonio looked down, as Ruenoc Lightningforge, one of his three top agents, was barely three and a half feet tall.

Being a dwarf Ruenoc thus had the great bristling beard and hair, both of which were a vibrant blonde, his eyes were a stormy gray and he wore simple medieval style clothing, which did little to hide his powerful, if a bit stout, frame. In his left hand Ruenoc held a mug, which never seemed to run empty (Antonio was fairly certain it was enchanted) and on Ruenoc’s back was a truly massive battle-axe, if with a slightly smaller haft than would be expected. “What have you to report?” Antonio asked, seeing Ajit and Kirill lapse from their enmity to stare amusedly at the dwarf…well Ajit seemed amused at any rate.

“By Odin’s Beard, that place was a pigsty! I didn’t find a blasted thing, and now my feet ache as if they’ve been pounded on with Thor’s Hammer itself!” As he finished the dwarf took a hearty swig from his mug, presumably filled with ale. Antonio withstood the rant in silence, best to let the dwarf warrior get it out of his system. After he was finished Antonio stood up and walked around the desk, heading towards the door.

“I’m going to interrogate the prisoner, Kirill, Ruenoc you may come if you wish. Ajit, you’d better follow, you’re better at interrogation than me.” All three followed him, Kirill to make sure Ajit didn’t do anything…unpleasant, Ajit because he was told to, and Ruenoc because he could drink anywhere and the location didn’t really matter to him. The foursome proceeded through the DHI headquarters, moving at a slightly slower pace then Antonio would normally take, he needed to take care with his rib after all, and once again Antonio withstood the barrage of comments, now mixed with questions concerning his health or his rib.

Of course, Kirill got his fair share of attention, some were used to him but the more new members couldn’t help but stare at the Dragon-Kin’s massive armored frame. Ruenoc got a few dirty looks for drinking on duty, but the Elite Agents of the DHI, handpicked by Antonio himself got a few exceptions and noone really begrudged them for it, they had the toughest work of anyone there. Finally, the quartet reached the interrogation chamber, basically the same as the design that had been used in America for nearly a century by now. Two rooms, connected by a hallway and a window. The window was filled with one-way glass so one person would interrogate while the others looked on unseen, recording, listening, speculating…drinking in Ruenoc’s case.

The four entered the observation room, where they could see the prisoner, but he couldn’t see them. The four observed the prisoner for a few minutes, he appeared to be human, at least he lacked the beautiful features and pointed ears of the elves. He was also to short to be a dwarf, thus he was a human…presumably. Then again, his outfit was fairly…outlandish, he was dressed all in very tight leather that left his arms, and most of his legs bare. This included a mask that obscured his features, the demon hunter wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.

“That man,” Ajit said suddenly, pointing at the figure behind the glass, “That man is a necromancer.”

“How do you figure? He barely fought back against me.” Kirill asked, doubt in his voice, unwilling to believe anything the elf said without proof.

“There are seven paths a necromancer can take, one for each of the different forms of death, I can tell just by looking at him that he follows the path of pain, also known as the path of torture.”

“Path of torture?” Antonio asked quizzically, “So he’s a masochist?”

“Technically yes, it is a bit more complicated then that but you wouldn’t really understand. At any rate, I will interrogate him, I know just how to get under his skin.” Ajit said and left the room before anyone could answer, a few moments later he entered the room that the necromancer was in. “Well hey there buddy.” Ajit said, sliding into a seat across from the necromancer, “How you doin’?”

“What the hell do you want you pansy elf-bitch?” The necromancer said, in what seemed an attempt to purposely antagonize the dark elf. Ajit simply ignored this, still smiling in a friendly manner knowing full well that striking the man would simply be giving the man something he wanted.

Ajit raised his hand which became engulfed in strange blue flames that flickered and twisted around his hands, “Now, I have some questions for you, and you’re going to answer them or el-“

“I ain’t tellin’ you nothin’ dickweed.” The man replied, smiling himself.

“If you’d let me finish, you will answer my questions or I will make it so you can’t feel pain ever again.” Ajit said smiling brightly.

The man’s response was extreme, he jerked backwards, a disbelieving look on his face, “You wouldn’t!”

“Oh I would, and since I’d fry a part of your brain to do it you wouldn’t feel a thing, seeing as how there’s no pain receptors in the brain.”

“Alright! Alright! I’ll tell you whatever you want but please don’t take the pain away!” the man said, giving in immediately, fear plain on his features.

Antonio, Kirill, and Ruenoc stared, unable to believe what had just happened. Ajit had broken the suspect by threatening to take away his pain. How the hell did that work?! At any rate, he was broken might as well take advantage of it, Antonio figured Ajit knew which questions to ask.

“Now, why were you at the location in which you were found…no lies now, the same power that lets me fry your brain will let me know if you’re lying.”

“I was one of seventeen assassins scattered at locations around the city that Antonio was likely to go to in the next few days.”

“I see, so the others must have been gone because they’d received word that Antonio had thwarted one of their number.” Kirill mused out loud, his voice a rumbling bass.

“Good, good, now, who do you work for?”

“I am a member of the Parlen Sect, also known as the Parlen Cult.”

“and why does this Sect want Antonio dead?” Ajit asked, hand still flickering with flame.

“They didn’t tell me that, the Council of Scales does not inform lesser minds like mine of their every move.”

“Parlen Cult? That ring any bells to either of you?” Antonio asked, looking at Ruenoc and Kirill.

“Never heard of it in my life, but what’s with that Council of Scales? Do they mean scales as in a reptile or dragon’s?” Kirill replied, again musing out loud.

“By Loki’s eyes I bet he means balance scales!” Ruenoc proclaimed in a big booming voice that Antonio was certain could be heard through the soundproofed room.

“Balance scales?” Antonio asked, “Well, I suppose that does make a bit more sense than the scales of a serpent or dragon…but I still have no idea what it means.”

Apparently Ajit didn’t either, although he apparently picked up on the balance scales, “and what is it your Parlen Sect keeps in balance?”

“The world, we follow the Doctrine of Balance, which states that evil must equal good and good must equal evil.”

Ajit raised an eyebrow at that, “But isn’t the world already in balance?”

“No you fool, a ne-“ Suddenly the man convulsed, his body twitching and spasming as some unknown magic coursed through his system.

“Shit, they must have figured out we captured one of their warriors!” Kirill exclaimed, already moving to help Ajit, who was trying to hold the thrashing figure still, Antonio was right behind him, with Ruenoc right on his heels. However, when they entered the room his figure was still and the dark elf had already closed his eyes…and was rifling through his possessions.

“What have you found?” Antonio asked, elbowing past the armored draconian, who hadn’t picked up on Ajit’s intent in searching the man’s body.

“Nothing really, most of his possessions were already taken when he was brought in, although I did find a tattoo that had peeled off with his death, obviously a curse mark designed to be activated from a remote location, although I’ll need a day or so to figure out how it works completely.” Ajit replied, lifting up a strange black lump from the man’s back.

“You have it; I want this to be your top priority for the moment.” Antonio said, already turning around and heading back to his office, there was nothing left for him to do here.

Again he walked through the mass of people, giving greeting to those who acknowledged him until he reached his office, where he stopped. There was someone inside. She was seated in the chair in front of his desk and thus he could only see her back, and she hadn’t noticed his entrance…strange, he made a point of having the door make noise whenever anyone opened it so he would thus be warned if he was preoccupied. “Can I help you?” He asked, still in the doorway.

The figure jumped and turned around, hastily standing up. “Oh, hi, you must be Antonio. I’m Elena, pleased to meet you.” She said, proffering her arm, for she was a she. She had blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skin, a good figure, she was dressed in blue jeans, a red shirt and a…labcoat. Besides that her hair was cut short, barely past the ears. Speaking of ears, she wore a pair of diamond earrings. She had a piece of paper in her hand, he figured it was a resume.

“I take it you are here to apply for a job as an Elite Agent?” He said, taking the paper and moving around to sit at his desk.

“Yep.” She replied, sitting back down, hands folded in her lap.

“I see.” He said, looking over her resume, hmm, she was aware of the existence of magic, was in fact an elf not a simple human. Skilled in crafting and enchantment, moderate combat ability, small amount of experience, weapons… Antonio did a double take, “Uh, on your resume…are you really using these weapons?”

“Yep.” She replied immediately.

“I see, well we’ll have to set you up for a trial run with a more experienced agent, who will write a report on which your employment will depend. I’ll call you when the mission is set up.”

“Of course, thank you very much.” Elena said, pressing her hands together and bowing at the waist, before leaving…apparently humming a happy tune.

Antonio put the paper in his desk and leaned back, rubbing his eyes. He already knew who to send to evaluate her, Ajit because he was the one who could be most trusted to tell the truth. He just needed to give Ajit a few days with that mark thing…

“I’m finished!” Ajit said, bursting into Antonio’s office, smiling proudly.

“What?” Antonio said, looking at Ajit blankly.

“I figured out the mark.”

“but you said-“

“I gave myself the limit of a few days just in case, but it wasn’t that complex after all.”

“…okay, what do you have to report?”

“The mark is a simple remote activation that could be activated anywhere from right next to the victim to up to three hundred miles away, it kills the person by sending powerful electric shocks up the spinal cord which fry the brain, thus the victim’s convulsions.”

“I see, anyway to trace the mark back to where it was triggered?”

“Unfortunately not.”

“Damn, so what would you recommend?”

“ I suggest we wait until they try again.”

“I figured as much. Anyways, Ajit I have a new job for you.”


“The prisoner is dead?”

“Yes, he told Antonio some small tidbits but nothing of serious importance, merely our name.”

“I’d say that’s fairly important.”

“It is of no consequence.”

“Like hell it is!”

“Both of you be quiet, we have more important things to discuss.” The room was in darkness, obscuring everyone in shadow, their features hidden. There were eight people in the room, all eyeing the other as if expecting a dagger in the back.

“Very well, what is it you wish to discuss?” Asked one figure, her voice clearly female.

“Antonio.” The figure at the center of the group replied, his voice steeped with age and experience.

“Yes, yes but what do we plan to do with him? Our plan to draw out his true power failed utterly, we learned nothing that we hadn’t already known.” Replied another female figure, her voice cold and distant.

“We learned that it will take an individual of significantly greater power than that idiot soulstealer to draw out his hidden potential.” Replied still another of the figures, this one male.

“I know that, but why do we want to learn his potential?” The female asked, anger seeping into her voice.

“To see if he is the one we seek.” The aged man replied, silencing both of them, “Now, I have a plan, gather closely and listen for we will act soon.”


Chapter 3

Ajit stood outside the DHC, his outfit changed little except for the colors, waiting impatiently for the “noob” to use game speak. Why did Antonio have to make him test the new recruit? Honestly, you’d think Ajit had nothing better to do, well he didn’t have anything better to do but he did have things as good to do. Well, no point crying over spilt milk, unless of course the person whose milk you spilt was going to kill you over it and was capable of killing you over it. This wasn’t that situation however so there was no point in crying.

“Um, excuse me but are you Ajit Agarkar?” A distinctly female voice asked from behind the waiting dark elf.

“Hmm?” Ajit said, turning on one heel to survey the questioner, who it seemed was the initiate he was to, well, initiate. “Why yes, I am he and he is me.”

“Oh good, so shall we head to the mission location?” Elena asked, shifting from foot to foot.

“Of course, if you’d follow me my vehicle is right this way.” Ajit said, abruptly turning around and setting off down the street, forcing Elena to rush after him. He led the recruit to a pure black lambourgini with tinted black windows, a bit of a surprise to Elena considering the car must be thirty years old and be incredibly expensive considering the scarcity of gas and how few people used gas-powered cars nowadays.

“Wow, is it very expensive to maintain?” Elena asked, moving around to the passenger side of the car.

“Of course not, it’s powered by magic.” Ajit said, chuckling as he got into the driver’s side.

“Oh, I don’t suppose its good magic?” Elena asked, strapping on the seat belt.

“Nope, necromancy tortured spirits dragged from the afterlife and all that.” Ajit said, the car coming to life with a purring rumble. Elena lapsed into silence after that, something Ajit had expected, really high elves had no stomach for evil, so Ajit was more than happy to enjoy the silence of the drive.

The mission was a simple one, there was an infestation of D-ranks at a nearby construction site, he and Elena were to clean them out. During this clean-up Ajit was to evaluate Elena’s abilities and decide if she had the necessary skills to be an Elite Agent. After a few minutes they reached the site, a large sky-scraper type building, the walls were mostly intact but inside it would be one big hollow room with steel girders everywhere, plenty of places for a D-rank to hide and yet be able to launch an attack almost instantly from, fun!

“Alright, lets kill us some demons!” Ajit crowed, practically leaping out of the car as he headed towards the building, Elena hurrying up behind him.

Once inside the building it was rather dark, only a few windows letting in a few sulky rays of light giving the atmosphere a sinister cast only aided by the seemingly endless roof criss-crossed with steel beams. The pair moved cautiously, alert for the slightest sounds, Ajit’s hands stood out in the open, ready to release a spell, Elena’s hands were inside her coat, gripping something tightly. The two moved slowly towards the center of this massive room, very nearly back to back as they traveled across the floor.

Suddenly, a hissing roar sounded from above them and a monstrosity leaped down upon them. It was a wicked ten limbed beast, a hideous cross between some form of many legged insect and a wolf, fur and exoskeleton covering it in different, mis-matching parts. Ajit looked up, already beginning the words to a spell, but before the first word was out of his mouth the demon suddenly lurched back up into the air, a blast of light blooming in its chest, to land on the ground several feet away, a gaping hole in its chest.

Ajit was not staring at the demon’s corpse however, but at what Elena held pointed into the air, it was a silver pistol, emblazoned with ancient runes and a pair of angelic wings grafted at the tip of the barrel. “You use enchanted pistols?” He asked, staring at her incredulously.

“Well, yeah.” Elena said, lowering the pistol and actually looking a bit embarrassed, “I know most magical folk don’t like using human technology but its actually very useful, far more useful than an enchanted bow…why do you care?” She said, growing a bit defensive.

Suddenly there was more roaring as the rest of the demons realized that their comrade had fallen to the intruders and Ajit had time to say one thing before they were on them, “Because that means we match!” He said, pulling out a pair of black pistols, with bat wings instead of angel wings. Then he fired one of the pistols, causing a black blossom to erupt where the head of a demon used to be, and danced off, shooting his pistols as he went. Elena was only a step behind, going off in a different direction as she fired radiant bolts of death from her handguns.

The two dealt a great deal of death to the swarm of abominations but Ajit couldn’t help but notice that considering these demons didn’t care how many of them died and that there were a good many of them he and Elena were going to be overwhelmed and would start taking injuries the first time one of them had to reload, well assuming they had to reload. Ajit didn’t but that girl might. So it seemed they needed a little help, a little extra kick to take these demons out. “Boys, time to get to work!” Ajit said, still firing his pistols into the mass of demons. The dim light seemed to dim further, nearly becoming dark, a thousand-thousand voices began whispering insane things from the shadows. It creeped Elena out but seemed to have no effect on the demons. The shadows drew forth into four clumps which began to solidify and form into four distinct figures, Ajit’s familiars.

All four of them were in shades of black and dark grey, as if they’d been carved from some shadowy stone. Each of the four was designed to form a specific function, allowing these four to adapt and crush any threat that appeared before them. One gave the impression of some strange, humanoid toad, his body fat and squat, arms and legs stubby. His head was bald with no ears to speak of and he had an unpleasantly wide mouth, stretched in a smirk. In his stubby claws was a truly massive warhammer.

Another was incredibly tall, easily topping nine feet in height. His body was thick and etched with powerful muscle and his hands ended in brutal, jagged claws. His face seemed human but for the razor sharp teeth that his mouth could barely contain.

The third was the only female in the group, her body was covered in a form-fitting shell-like armor, with a helmet on her head that gave her a distinct, insectoid appearance, if it was a helmet that is. In her hands (she had six fingers) was a powerful long-bow.

The final was easily the most intimidating, appearing as a four-armed human, his legs were bound together by barbed wire, a black liquid leaking from his legs to the floor. In his bottom two arms he wielded a pair of claws, four of them, straight and extending a full foot and a half of black metal. His top two arms held wicked black bastard swords. His face seemed permanently fixed in a snarling rictus, the eyes slits, the mouth forced open by hooks drawing the mouth to the sides, a row of spikes literally slammed through the top of his head so two sharpened points showed in a long crown of them. The Shadow Wraiths were here.

None of them looked towards Ajit, the four-armed one merely uttered a guttural snarl and the quartet leaped into action. The four did incredible damage, the toad-like wraith swung his hammer with incredible speed and dexterity, every swing crushing several demons and sending them flying with enough force to crush the demons they crashed into. The behemoth wraith attacked with his bare hands, lashing out with claw, fist, and foot, everywhere he struck demons fell, bludgeoned or torn to shreds. The female wraith moved nimbly among the demons, dodging every attack launched at her and launched arrows of pure shadow from her bow, where the arrows flew they flew through demons, their power allowing them to penetrate multiple beasts before stopping. Finally, the four-armed wraith undertook guarding Ajit personally, fighting with the dark elf back-to-back; Ajit fired while four-arm sliced and stabbed, killing dozens of the creatures.

Elena herself kept shooting, apparently she didn’t have to reload, and she felled countless demons on her own as well, bursts of light erupting all around her as the enchanted shells impacted. Yet, the demons kept coming and coming and coming, non-stop. Hundreds of their number died and still they didn’t stop, they had to climb piles of their own corpses to reach the fighters but still they came. Truly D-rank demons knew no fear, and although they were pitifully weak in the individual they were incredibly strong when allowed to swarm, to breed, and to feed. The D-ranks would continue fighting until every last one of them was dead and survival be damned.

This was clearly discernible to Elena as slowly she, Ajit, and Ajit’s familiars collected wounds. They were small, a slight scratch on the arm, a chip in armor, a gash across the ribs, a cut on the cheek, but it indicated an important factor, if this kept up much longer they were going to be overwhelmed.

“Ajit, I need cover!” Elena said, blowing off a demon’s head. Ajit didn’t question, merely gestured to behemoth and hammer-toad. The two leapt to action, surrounding Elena and rending the demons. Elena wasted no time, she dropped one of her handguns and pressed a button the other, immediately the magazine slipped out of the gun and she pulled a new magazine out of her pocket and slammed it in. “Now, CHAINSHOT!” She shouted, pulling the trigger and pointing straight at a charging demon.

From the gun emerged a single bolt of glistening white energy, it streaked forward, hitting the demon in the chest which imploded in the span of a second and then exploded into four identical bolts of energy which went shooting off in random directions. Chainshot lived up to its name and in the span of ten seconds, several hundred bolts were flying around, ripping the demons apart. The chaos was so great that the demons were no longer capable of mounting an all out attack as they were also trying to attack the bolts which merely resulted in causing their death faster.

After a few minutes all t he demons were dead and there were thousands of the bolts flying around, Elena and Ajit were standing next to each other and the shadow wraiths had vanished. “Very impressive Elena, that is quite the enchantment…you do it yourself?”

“Well, the design and actual calculation are mine but I didn’t have enough magical energy to actually enchant the bullet so I had to hire someone to actually graft it into the shell.”

“I see,” Ajit said, and observed the flying bolts for several more seconds, “how do you turn it off?”

“Uh…I don’t think you can?” Elena said tentatively, at this point a bolt flew right past her face, causing her to jump back and nearly run into another bolt. It became quite apparent that their previous calm was a result of dumb luck and now they were dodging for their lives as the bolts flew around, seeming almost to seek them out deliberately. Fortunately both were elves and thus quite agile and were more than capable of dodging the bolts, but eventually they would slip.

Ajit was pondering this and came to the decision that his life was worth using a pin shell. Thus, he did something quite similar to what Elena did earlier, he popped his magazine out of one of his handguns and slammed a new one home. He then fired, but straight up, the bolt of black energy soared and then suddenly erupted into a downward rain of black streaks that looked like falling needle pins. Every time one of these “pins” stuck a bolt both the pin and the bolt disappeared and yet it did no damage to either Ajit or Elena. After a few seconds all the bolts had disappeared and the two were safe for real this time.

“That, was invigorating.” Ajit said, exhaling loudly and stretching.

“Yeah, you said it.” Elena said faintly, leaning against the wall, too tired to pant.

“That was the most fun I’ve had in a millennia!” Ajit said, throwing an arm around Elena’s shoulders and supported Elena as they began walking out of the building, “I’m going to write you a report that makes Hercules seem like a wimp!”

“Great.” Elena said, trying hard not to pass out.


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PostSubject: Re: Demon Hunter Chronicles (Not Fanfiction)   Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:35 am

((The board said my message was too long so I broke off the last two chapters of what I currently have into this second post.)

Demon Hunter Chronicles Continued.

Chapter 4

Antonio stared at the computer screen, brow furrowed in thought, hands clasped in front of him. It couldn’t be a coincidence…could it? What may or may not be a coincidence involved a recent spree of destruction all across the U.S. one hospital blown up a day for a total number of twenty-five hospitals. Of these twenty-five, five were…

It had to be a coincidence, there was no way anyone could know about them, yet…five out of twenty-five? Sure the order they had been blown up in was completely random, but the end result on this twenty-fifth day? It didn’t matter whether it was coincidence or not, whoever was behind this (and it was clearly magical if not demonic) needed to be stopped. Antonio dearly wished to go himself but if he did that would definitely bring more attention than he wanted, especially if he was right. Besides, he couldn’t just abandon his duties here, he needed to send someone, an elite agent but not one so strong that whoever was doing this realized they were getting to him…if they were in fact trying to get to him.

All at once, the answer hit him, looking away from the computer desk Antonio picked up and opened the file containing Ajit’s most recent mission report, and his evaluation of Elena. If Ajit was to be believed, Elena would be the perfect person to send on this mission, an underdog as it were. Come to think of it, Elena should be showing up to get her first official mission assigned right about…

“Good morning Mr. Hernandez.” Elena said brightly, poking her head into his office, right on time.

“Ah, good morning, Ms. Delacroix, please have a seat.” Antonio said, gesturing towards the chair on the other side of his desk. Elena obediently, sat down, looking a bit nervous. “Now, as you know it was Ajit’s job to write an evaluation of your abilities, which I have right here.” He said, holding up the folder, “I must say, I’ve never seen Ajit right such a glowing report on someone’s abilities, he seems to believe you make Hercules look like a weakling.”

“Well that’s very nice of him.” Elena said, positively beaming.

“Yes, at any rate I figure that a person who shows such promise as you deserves a truly top-notch mission.” Antonio said, setting the mission report down and picking up a folder next to it. “You are to investigate a series of attacks at hospitals across the U.S. It is believed that the culprits are demonic in nature.”

Elena took the folder and skimmed through it, “Have you considered the possibility of a Magical Kingdom terrorist group?”

“A distinct possibility, but I ask that you refrain from mentioning the Magical Kingdom in the future unless I mention it first…the walls tend to grow ears every now and then.”

“Righto…Is there any particular reason these five hospitals are marked as scenes of special interest?”

“Yes, I believe that these five hospitals were the main goal of the attacks with the other twenty merely as a cover to keep it from being noticed.” Antonio responded, watching her evenly.

“I see…why do you believe the other twenty were merely a diversion?” She asked, looking a bit perplexed.

“Classified.”

“Oh…well I better get started then.” Elena said, standing up and closing the folder. “I’ll start with the most recent attack on a scene of special interest.” She said, “I should be in Las Vegas in a few hours.”

“Good luck Agent Elena, I expect weekly reports on your progress.” Antonio said, turning back to his computer, a clear dismissal.

“Will do sir.” Elena said, quietly leaving his office, she had some work to do.
Later that same day, at about seven ‘o’clock, most of the DHC employees had gone home for the night, with only a small staff to take any night calls and a few soldiers and a couple agents on duty to respond to emergency events. Antonio was in one of the seedier neighborhoods of New York City, out of Manhattan and into one of the districts surrounding it. He hadn’t gotten nearly enough information from the assassin Kirill caught, tonight he was going to rectify that.

He was dressed not in a tuxedo, but a long brown trenchcoat, a black T-shirt underneath it with worn but serviceable blue-jeans, and sneakers. It didn’t do to stand out to much in this place, inside the coat he had a silenced 9 mm handgun, and a sturdy steel combat knife. It didn’t seem likely that he’d need them, would be muggers and other assorted criminals took one look at him and flinched away, deciding to wait for easier prey than the hardened demonhunter.

After a few minutes of walking he stopped in front of a run-down building, at first glance it didn’t seem any different from any run-down building on the street, to those aware of magic however, the door glimmered with eldritch runes. The runes were an incantation that was designed to make itself invisible to any but those who knew of magic, it would have been considered redundant two thousand years ago, now with humanity separate from magic it served the purpose of allowing magical denizens to meet & greet without worry of non-magic folk barging in uninvited.

Antonio entered the building, sparing the runes barely a glance, just inside was an orc, dressed in, shabby clothes that you’d expect a homeless person to wear, his job was to make sure that any non-magic folk who thought to come in here, maybe to smoke a little crack or just get a little shelter for the night, didn’t stay long. Antonio gave the orc a nod, who nodded back, and then walked past. Once past the “parlor” for lack of a better phrase, it no longer looked like a run-down building, inside it looked like the common room of an inn from a story. Solid wooden floorboards covered in sawdust, a homey fire in a nice riverstone fireplace. Oak tables scattered throughout the room where magical folk of all kinds chatted, traded, or simply got a bit to eat. On the left side of the room was a polished bar of ash wood, where a jovial fat innkeeper, (a human, a rarity in the magical kingdom) polished a mug with a towel. From a doorway behind the bar the savory smells of roast boar and potatoes was drifting out.

It took Antonio but a moment to scan the crowd and determine that Adelheid wasn’t here yet, so there was nothing to do but to wait. He took a seat at an empty table, a barmaid, elven, came by to see if he wanted something to drink, he ordered some ale and a plate of potatoes and boar, this inn had good food. The waitress had barely left with his order when Antonio’s quarry entered the common room. To anyone he appeared to be a tall, handsome Jamaican man, dark skin, finely muscled body, and black hair arranged into dreads. He was dressed in worn but serviceable clothes (nobody came to this inn finely dressed due to its location), and the only jewelry was a plain copper band on his left hand.

The Jamaican spotted Antonio and gave a friendly wave, smiling broadly. It didn’t take him long to reach Antonio’s table and sit across from him, “’Ey brudda, how you been doin’?” He asked, in a thick Jamaican accent, still smiling.

“Ring, Adelheid.”

Adelheid’s grin disappeared and he scowled at Antonio, “Why you always got to make me take off da ring, eh?” At Antonio’s glare he waved his hands in a placating gesture, “Alright, alright, fine.” He said, slipping the copper band off, immediately his body morphed in an unpleasant, queasy fashion. His body shrank, fingers merging together, hair shrinking and finally disappearing, skin changing from a dark chocolate, to a pasty green, first in patches and then all over, he shrank, about two feet. Where before there was a tall handsome Jamaican, there was now an ugly little creature, with three fingers, two toes (three if you included the one in the back) and a truly large and pointy nose…your average goblin. “There you happy?” Adelheid asked, his voice changed from a deep voice with a jamaican accent, to a high-pitched whine that brought to mind witches cackling over a cauldron.

“I’m satisfied.” Antonio said, staring at Adelheid evenly, “Now, on to bus-“

“Hold on Demonhunter, you used up the last of your credit last month when I helped you bust that smuggling ring. If you want any more information you’ll need to provide payment first.”

Antonio didn’t answer, merely reaching into a pocket of his trenchcoat, where he pulled out a cloth sack, shut with string, it looked right at home in their fantasy-esque surroundings. He tossed it onto the table, where the greedy goblin quickly snatched it up, untying the string and peering inside. Whatever he saw must have been good, for he smiled widely. “Excellent, most excellent, what I’d give to know where you get this stuff! It doesn’t matter, at any rate this will provide payment for a good long time…so what do you want to know?”

“I’m interested in a group calling themselves the Parlen Cult.”

Adelheid studied Antonio’s face, pondering the question, “Interesting, I haven’t heard that name in a long, long time.”

“What can you tell me?”

“I can’t speak for their current behavior but the Parlen Cult I know of was originally an offshoot of the Grey Knights.”

“The Grey Knights?” Antonio asked, at that moment the barmaid returned with Antonio’s food and drink, setting the plate and mug down with a soft excuse me before hurrying off.

Adelheid waited until they left before answering, “The Grey Knights are a secretive order that believe in the ‘Doctrine of Balance.’ The Doctrine states that the world must have an equal number of evil to match the number of good, lest the world fall into chaos and catastrophe.” Adelheid took the mug and swallowed, having known Antonio long enough to know that the demon hunter had only gotten it for the goblin, “The Grey Knights have always been trying to have just as much evil as good, they helped Hitler rise to power, and then helped to bring him down when he became too powerful. They probably had a hand in Al Queada although I don’t know for sure. The Parlen Cult split off from them because they have a different view of the Doctrine.”

Adelheid wet his throat from the mug, Antonio was listening intently while he ate his food, “The Grey Knights like the world the way it is, good is balancing bad and that’s just the way they like it. However, the Parlen’s believe that a present balance is not enough, the Grey Knights look only at the present, the Parlen’s look over all of time.”

“So, they believe that the world has had to many periods of good outweighing bad and thus seek the world to be cast into an extended period of evil right?” Antonio asked, when Adelheid stopped for a drink.

“Aye, naturally the present focused Grey Knights saw them as deluded fools attempting to destroy the world, and vice versa. So the Parlen’s split from the Knights, led by a man named Robert Samuel, it was about…thirty years ago I believe.”

The table lapsed into silence, Adelheid apparently out of things to say, and Antonio chewing slowly, mind churning. “Can you think of any reason as to why they’d believe me to be a threat to their goals?”

“Ah, so that’s why you want to know about them.” Adelheid laughed, “Well, the Grey Knights believe Demons are abominations and have no place in the balance, the Parlen Cult…not so much.”

“Very well,” Antonio said, swallowing his last bite of boar, “thank you for the information Adelheid, I’ll contact you when I next need information.”

“Yep.” The goblin said, raising the mug and calling loudly for more ale.
Far away from the dingy slums where Antonio met his goblinoid informant, Elena was settling into her hotel room. Immediately after receiving her mission from Antonio, she’d headed home and began making travel arrangements. Her luck was in and she’d been able to book a flight to Las Vegas, leaving in just a few hours. Upon arriving a rented vehicle was waiting in the parking lot for her to take to her hotel. Strangely, the hotel she was staying in was not part of a casino but merely a hotel, although there were quite a few casinos close by.

Unfortunately she’d arrived just a bit too late to begin investigating the crime scenes themselves, so now would be a good time to go over the file Antonio had given her. She’d read it on the plane, but there was always the possibility of finding something that she didn’t find the first time. The file indicated the obvious patterns; five hospitals per state, five states hit so far, and once five hospitals were blown up, the culprits moved to an adjacent state. There was another pattern that the file didn’t point out, involving the “scenes of special interest” that Antonio had circled. There was only one “scene of special interest” per state, and the scenes were always within six of each other. First hospital in the first state was a special interest, second hospital of the second state was a special interest, third hospital in the third state was a special interest, etc, etc. Yet, was this an actual pattern or merely there because Antonio had circled them?

No matter how she looked at it, there didn’t seem any way to resolve this pattern without the classified information that had caused Antonio to mark these hospitals. What did he find so special about these five hospitals? Elena set the folder down and collapsed on the bed with a frustrated growl, it seemed she wasn’t going to figure anything out tonight, maybe she’d get some puzzle pieces at the scene tomorrow, right now she might as well go to sleep.
Elena woke bright and early the next day, the frustration of the previous night banished from a good night’s sleep. The sun was just peeking his golden head above the ground; people were bustling to and fro, cars racing by and people walking by. Today she would solve this case or at the very least make an important breakthrough! With this thought in mind she raced through her morning routine, she changed into her normal clothes, blue jeans, a yellow shirt today, and her labcoat. She then brushed her hair, had some breakfast brought to her room, and after that she brushed her teeth.

About an hour later, she was heading through the lobby of the hotel to the parking lot, where she would then get in her car and drive off, headed towards the Las Vegas General Hospital. It was fairly early in the morning, around eight or so, but already the streets were packed with cars and Elena was wondering if she might have been better off walking. After a couple of hours in the traffic jam she was certain she should have, an hour later she was finally parking next to the hospital. You couldn’t park in the hospital because it was nothing more than a smoking ruin now.

It wasn’t certain just what had happened for sure, all that was known was that yesterday, around three ‘o’ clock in the afternoon, the hospital suddenly exploded, killing hundreds of people and wounding a hell of a lot more. Parts of the hospital had collapsed, while others remained standing but were little more than hollow shells, where an unwary walker could find herself falling through what was left of the floor if they weren’t careful. The entire hospital was blocked off, and relatively few people were around, well few civilians were around. There were plenty of police officers and a few DHI members as well.

One of the officers moved towards her, he was wearing the blue uniform with the LVPD badge on his shirt, he appeared to be nothing more than an ordinary cop, whose job it was to keep civilians away from the scene. “Sorry miss, this is a restricted area, please move along.” He said in a bored tone, he’d obviously been doing this for a few hours now.

“Elena Delacroix, DHI Elite Solo Operative.” She said, pulling out the badge she’d just gotten yesterday.

“Ah, my apologies Ms. Delacroix.” The policeman said, shocked, “Please, go right ahead, Detective Weaver is just ahead.” He pointed towards the scene and stepped aside, allowing Elena to pass. Elena continued on her way, smiling slightly at her new authority, but that quickly disappeared as she remembered where she was and what was going on. The charred timbers of the hospital, and the groups of people moving in the wreckage…looking for bodies.

The detective was easy enough to find, he was the only cop not dressed in the standard uniform, he was wearing a brown trenchcoat, beneath that was a white T-shirt and khaki pants, there was an old-fashioned shoulder holster with a handgun of some sort inside. He was ruggedly handsome, with black hair and brown eyes, a strong jaw and a muscular body added to this. He was deep in discussion with two other individuals, one had the black suit and neatly kept hair of the cliché FBI agent, the other was similarly dressed but gave the impression of a lawyer rather than a tough agent type person, likely he was with Homeland Security.

The three stopped talking as Elena approached, regarding her silently, the detective was curious, the FBI agent indifferent, and the HS guy suspicious. “Hello, I’m Elena Delacroix, DHI.”

“Detective Hoffstadter.” Said the detective warmly.

“Agent Ramirez.” The FBI agent replied.

“Agent Lynch.” That was Homeland Security.

Elena shook each of their hands, and then got back to business, “So what can you tell me?”

The detective raked a hand through his head, “To be honest we can’t tell you all that much, most of the surveillance tapes were destroyed in the explosion and the rest were fried from the heat.”

“We have determined that the blast was primarily an incendiary, having little real blast.” Lynch said, looking at Elena closely.

“We’ve also pin-pointed that the explosion originated from the hospital’s Coma Ward.” Said Agent Ramirez.

The detective gave the two agents a rye look, “Yes, but that’s pretty much all we know.” He finished, turning back to face Elena, “Frankly, I look forward to your help on this case, I don’t have much experience with demons.” The two agents nodded their silent agreement.

“Hmm.” Elena tapped her lip in thought, “Well the explosion is easy enough to explain, obviously the demons used one of their ‘runes’” To the denizens of the human world, who knew nothing of magic, “runes” was a slang word for a demonic technology that used an advanced form of energy harnessing technology to produce a startling variety of effects. To those who did know about magic “runes” meant exactly what it said, ancient symbols imbued with powerful magic.

The three men gave this a bit of thought, turning it over in their heads, “A sound theory, but we found no traces of any form of writing in the coma ward.” Said Lynch, Elena was already starting to dislike his stuffy, lawyer voice.

Before Elena could speak though Ramirez spoke, “Of course not, a Flame Rune powerful enough to bring down a hospital this quickly would incinerate all trace of the rune as well.”

Lynch turned to face Ramirez directly, “They wouldn’t need that powerful a Flame Rune to bring the hospital down, just strong enough to make certain that any attempt to put out the fire would be futile.”

“Then why can’t we find the rune? That’s the most obvious explanation unless you think the demons smuggled a few hundred pounds of napalm in there without anyone noticing and then came back to get rid of any residue.” Hoffstadter responded, coming to Ramirez’s aid.

“For all you know they could have! It’s not like the patients would see them!” Lynch yelled, clearly disliking being questioned and ganged up on.

“Um, excuse me,” Elena said, moving between the three and jumping up and down, “but the demons would have a logical reason for using a Flame Rune strong enough to remove any trace of the lettering.”

All three of them turned to look at her, Lynch coldly angry, Ramirez and Hoffstadter curious, “Oftentimes the residue and tracery of the rune can be used to pinpoint just who wrote it, narrowing down the possible suspects considerably if not pinpointing one completely. Thus, they used a stronger then necessary to ensure that we couldn’t figure out which demonic group they are.”

Hoffstadter grinned, Ramirez’ eyebrows rose up in surprise, and Lynch’s face went a funny shade of purple and then stalked away, muttering under his breath. Elena watched him go with a puzzled look on her face, not quite sure why he was so upset.

“Don’t mind him.” Hoffstadter said, moving up next to Elena, ”He’s been insisting the entire time that the culprits were not demons, he was against the very idea of the DHI getting involved.”

“He’s been ridiculously stubborn about this and his so called ‘theories’ stretch believability to the limit where they don’t break it completely.” That was Ramirez, who had moved up to Elena’s other side.

Elena looked from first one to the other, and then something struck her, about their behavior and the way they’d been talking, “Are you two brothers?”

Ramirez grinned and Hoffstadter burst out laughing, “She’s a smart one.” Hoffstadter said, still laughing.

“We’re twins, fraternal not identical.” He said at Elena’s puzzled stare, “Yet we still seem to possess some of the personality characteristics associated with twins.”

Elena grinned, “Someone studied psychology.”

Ramirez grinned thinly, “Yes, I did.”

Elena grinned back, it seemed she’d have some help in this investigation.
Chapter 5

Antonio hung up the phone and sighed, this wasn’t going to be fun. The UN was having a meeting and several items on the agenda would have to do with demonic affairs or the DHI. As such Antonio would be required to attend, something he really didn’t want to do. Mainly because he didn’t have much care for politics, also because he had a big enough job juggling Magical Kingdom politics without Human Kingdom politics thrown on top of it. As if that wasn’t enough, there was both the possibility of a demonic and or magical attack and the possibility of an attack by Al Quaeda, currently led by Saddham Bin Laden Hitler. Finally, there were plenty of people who wouldn’t mind seeing Antonio: make a fool of himself, dead, replaced, in a coma, afflicted with cancer, and tortured. Some of these people were fellow Americans.

Unfortunately, he had to go, so he would have to deal with it and pray there wasn’t an attack or an assassination attempt. To aid in both the discouraging of such an event and retaliation of that event he was going to require that all three of his elite agents in New York City were going to accompany him. Two of them were likely to be very angry about that, Ajit would probably love it. Antonio picked up the phone on his desk and pressed a button, immediately another voice sounded on the other end, his secretary.

“Yes Mr. Hernandez?”

“Please have Mr. Dragomiroff,, Agarkar, and Lightningforge report to my office asap.” Antonio said and hung up the phone.

It was only a few minutes before the three shuffled in, well Kirill and Ruenoc shuffled in, Ajit materialized from the shadows behind the desk, and then shuffled to the front with Kirill and Ruenoc. “You summoned us Lord Hernandez?” Kirill asked, referring to Antonio in the draconian formal way.

“Yes, the UN is meeting tomorrow and we are all going to attend.”

“Ooohh,” Ruenoc groaned, “I hate those meetins, they never let me bring my ale.” This was followed by taking a swig from his tankard.

“Fun, what are the politicians trying to do this time?” Ajit asked, leaning over Antonio’s desk, eyes shining.

“The Russian, Chinese, and German embassies are going to try and push the UN to declare outright war against the Demonic Plane.” Antonio replied levelly, “and until the situation with Al Queada is resolved starting a second war would be foolish.” Antonio said calmly, “Which is exactly why we will attend, to oppose this plan.”

“Fufufu, and what is our plan of attack?” Ajit asked, looking quite happy with the whole situation.

“We four are all veteran demonhunters, thus our testimonies will hold great sway, I also intend to get the aid of several generals overseeing the battle with Al Queada, they are already dissatisfied with the troops and munitions being allocated to them. Not a one of these generals would look fondly on anything that would take away from these supplies.”

“So, the army versus the politicians eh?” Ajit laughed evilly, “What fun, well then, I need to start preparing.” With that he left, walking out before anyone could say anything, muttering under his breath.

“Myself and Ruenoc will take our leave as well Lord, we will meet you at the UN building tomorrow.” Kirill said, and bowed his way out, followed by a miserable Ruenoc.

Antonio leaned back in his chair and picked up the phone, he had some calls to make.

The next day Antonio, Kirill and the others stood inside the UN’s New York HQ. One of several dozen scattered across the globe. The entrance didn’t seem all that great, simply a flat building, only a few rooms and not very big. The reason for that was because the UN complex was largely underground, made it safer and more stable in case of attacks. Additionally, it meant the escape route (which was on the very bottom) was also more likely to remain open for longer.

The facilities were actually quite comfortable, which surprised those coming here for the first time, because most people consider something designed purely for function and survivability to not be very comfortable. The only really awkward part was security check-in, and that was going to be very difficult for Antonio’s crew. Kirill was covered head to toe in metal armor that it seemed was impossible to take off. Ruenoc tried constantly to smuggle alcohol (which could be used to make explosives) into the facility, and Ajit…Ajit just liked screwing with security.

“Alright, Ruenoc you’d better not have any alcohol, Kirill just be patient this time, and Ajit, you will keep your mouth shut.” Antonio said as they all stepped up to the security personnel for scanning and searching. Antonio was cleared through rather quickly, he was one of the very few individuals in the facility allowed to carry a weapon, his sword, because nobody wanted to run the risk of an A-rank showing up and the one person capable of fighting it not having the necessary equipment. At least, they didn’t anymore. Surprisingly Ajit kept his mouth shut and went through easily, Kirill was okay, but Ruenoc…

“OI!! GET YER HANDS OFF ME MEAD!” The dwarven fighter shouted at the security officer, his voice ringing throughout the room. Ajit did an exaggerated face-palm and Kirill adopted an embarrassed stature, somehow Antonio wasn’t surprised.

“I’m sorry sir, but we can’t allow any alcohol within the facility.” The officer said in a strained attempt at calm.

“CAN’T ALLOW ME ARSE!!” Ruenoc screamed, spittle flying from his lips, “I’M TAKING ME ME-“ Ruenoc’s tirade was interrupted by Antonio kicking him in the back of the neck. The dwarf crumpled to the ground, unconscious.

“Keep him here, but don’t imprison him. When he comes to tell him I want him guarding the entrance in case of attack.” Antonio told the officer, who was looking very relieved now that Ruenoc was unconscious.

“Of course, sir.” The officer said, gesturing to two others to take Ruenoc and move him out of the way. He then got back to the matter at hand, there were a lot of people arriving after all. Antonio walked back to the others, apparently he had already put the matter behind him.

“Very well handled.” Ajit said, smiling brightly.

“Did you have to knock him out? He is one of our comrades.” Kirill said, in stark contrast to Ajit.

“It wasn’t right, but it was necessary.” Antonio replied to the both of them, moving quicker as he spotted someone he wished to talk to.

This individual spotted Antonio and turned to face him, smiling slightly as the demonhunter approached. Burkhard Holtzmann was a tall man with blonde hair and vibrant green eyes. His skin had a small bit of tan and his body was still in shape from his service in the German military. He had served in the military for thirteen years, during which he rose from the enlisted ranks to an officer and later retired, taking up a career in politics. He was the only member of the German embassy against the proposal that was going to be presented during the meeting, and thus one of Antonio’s allies.

“Greetings honored ambassador.” Antonio said in near perfect german, shaking Burkhard’s hand firmly.

“Good to see you again Antonio.” Burkhard responded, also in german, his own handshake firm, “I’m glad you are here, we will need all the help we can get to stop this fool proposal.”

“So you are against it then?” Ajit said, sliding into the conversation, unlike Antonio who had an accent with his german, Ajit’s german was absolutely flawless.

“Indeed, in fact my fellow politicians tried to pull me out and replace me. Fortunately the military holds enough sway in the government to make such an effort futile, but I’m afraid I have virtually no sway in Germany’s position.”

“It doesn’t matter, your testimony as a former officer in the army will hold sway with the other nations.” Antonio said.

“Yes, and I’ve been talking with the Russian and Chinese, none of the ambassadors in their embassies are even remotely against this proposal.” Burkhard replied, turning to walk down the corridor.

Antonio followed, walking directly to the left of the German politician, “I was afraid of that but it’s to be expected. Have you managed to get a few soldiers, or better yet officers out of the Middle East to testify as to why this is a bad idea?”

“Yes, I was able to get Major Krueger a temporary leave for that purpose.”

“Good, I was able to get Officer Sondheim of the U.S military to show up, lets hope our combined testimonies will keep this nightmare from happening.”

Ajit listened attentively as the two began discussing the matter at hand, deciding not to speak as he had nothing worthwhile, humorous, or interesting to add to the conversation. Kirill was standing right next to him but he was silent because he didn’t know German, or Goblin if you were in the Magical Kingdom. “Ajit.” The armored leviathan suddenly said, bringing Ajit out of his reverie.

“What?” Ajit asked curiously, normally Kirill wouldn’t say two words to the dark elf if he could help it.

“What exactly is the big deal with declaring war? I know the Magical Kingdom hasn’t because they are much more divided than the Science Kingdom, but I can’t figure out why Antonio seems to detest the idea so much.”

Ajit chuckled, earning him an angry growl from the Dragonkin, “How much do you know about the situation in the Middle East?” He asked, still following Antonio and the German.

“Enough, various military forces from the various nations of the UN are battling with the military of the terrorist group Al Queada, what about it?”

“The thing is, is that this war is a very exhausting and taxing one, Al Queada has proved remarkably adept at guerilla warfare and is very good at keeping the UN’s armies from establishing even a minor foothold. Forcing them to wage war from bases stationed outside the Middle East, in the surrounding countries in Africa and Asia. This war is very costly as well, meaning that if they were to declare war on demons as well, perhaps half of the forces in this war would be taken away, severely hindering if not crippling the efforts in the Middle East. Plus, there is the fact that a war with the demons would be…unwise for the Science Kingdom as of yet. They are strong, but they lack the strength to go toe-to-toe with one of the strongest magical powers ever to exist.” Ajit finally wound down, looking at the dragonkin expectantly.

“I see, that explains it quite well, then Antonio is right, declaring war on the demons would be foolish.” The dragonkin lapsed into silence, and by now Antonio and Burkhard had to separate, the quarters for the German embassies were in a different place from the American embassy quarters where Antonio, Ajit, and Kirill would be staying.

“Ajit you have room 4, Kirill you have room 6, get some rest and stay out of trouble, the meeting’s going to start early tomorrow at eight.” With that he walked off, heading to his own rooms, leaving the elf and dragonkin to themselves.
Back at the surface politicians continued to arrive, they came from all nations, China and Russia, Britain and Egypt, and many, many more. The talk on everyone’s tongue was the proposal that China, Russia, and Germany planned to put forward. Some were for it, some against it, others tried to figure out who was going to be on which side so they could be on that group’s side, others tried to figure out the same thing but so they could oppose that group’s side. It was politics, pure and simple, and in the midst of this chaos nobody noticed their arrival.

It was so funny, she was certain they must stand-out in some way, but it seemed he had been right. With these disguises they looked no different from any other politician, not even the other members of their embassies noticed anything wrong or different. It was going perfectly, and tomorrow’s meeting was going to be a riot.
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