Everything hurts and I’m exhausted. However I am too wired to sleep. Cameron is currently watching me, I keep telling her that I am fine and I only need to collect my thoughts about the past few days. I am unsure she is convinced. If I figure out what is going on, I can tell her.
I have changed.
I do not mean to be alarmist, but it is true. I no longer have that fear creeping into so many thoughts. Though, now, I suppose since drawing on more power than I could safely handle in the last few conflicts, The Lord has been nudging my mind.
The influence of the Almighty aside, I am different. More confident, powerful, dangerous. I worry that the White Council will find a reason to separate my head from my body to ensure that no demons run loose from my actions. Bastards, as if I take anything but precautions with the spawn of Hell.
Ah! Fuck the White Council. I will worry about that later. I am a different person from the cowardly demonologist who helped out when David Stuttler was murdered. This past day I have slain a demon-lord. Valhamarkem, Demon-Lord of Murder has been obliterated, not simply banished back to Hell. He is forever destroyed. In addition I destroyed a mummy and another lich. Oh yes, I also permanently slew a Marolith.
I wonder if Balthazar will even recognize me when he is freed of that damned jar. Note: Have Balthazar and Veronika destroy the stupid vase before someone else gets trapped for a decade
Kemmler has been trapped and locked away in a place where no one can reach him. At least that evil has been expunged from our world.
Aside from the adventures of the past few days, I have redeemed a Succubus. I also am planning to redeem one of the remaining Red-Court Vampires. Saundra Smythe, while a murderer, has been driven by the loss of her child to great evil acts. She seems to genuinely regret her actions. I hope to use this to redeem her. While I would like to imagine truly saving her life, and perhaps letting Cameron and Jane make use of her in the Agency; it is nearly beyond a doubt that this redemption will destroy her.
Might as well start as near the beginning of this mess to make some sense of it. Kemmler- the Kemmler, not some Kemmlerite necromancer, was inhabiting Patricia. She was unwittingly host to the most dangerous wizard to ever live, die, or continue in an undead form. I am unsure how he ever came to possess her, and I worry tremendously that Warden Charles Fischer is blind. His own romantic partner (since he claims calling her his girlfriend is some strange insult. I bet the constipation would end if he took the stick out of his ass) was the body of a nemesis we have been facing for months.
Our actions were tracked, analyzed, and used against us. How? Because Charles couldn’t keep it in his pants! Seriously? The archeologist and history professor can’t find some boring old facts to discuss during pillow talk? Instead he gives her a rundown of our intrepid band and lets fucking Kemmler formulate ever greater plans. And I represent a danger to the world because of my talent for utilizing demons in magic (not that anyone cares about the lives I’ve saved in exorcisms)? The White Council is blind and ignorant. They’re arrogance is their greatest weakness, and the world will be far worse off when they fall- I simply hope that I am not around to see it.
Back on topic- We had to find a way to save Patricia.
We did some digging, and maneuvering, and fighting, and dealing with Fae bullshit before finally having a ritual that would work. Then we had to prepare an assault an impenetrable fortress, on an island in Shadow, with the necromancer of necromancers waiting for us.
The solution? Use the Autumn Lady, pegasi, and a ghost to get to the island that doesn’t quite via a rented fishing party boat. Insane is one of the more adequate descriptors for the situations my companions and I seem to keep finding ourselves in.
Form there we had multiple battles. I slew a Marolith, and a demon lord, mummy and a lich. The Autumn Lady was able to put Kemmler’s spirit to sleep so that we could finagle a faerie circle to use a different ritual. Using a metronome from Apollo and information from Psyche we were able to trap Kemmler in a shard of a sword from another realm. Books and knowing people are handy.
So… we saved the world. Again. The White Council doesn’t even give a shit that a “minor talent” was there. Assholes. I kept telling Charles that his people suck. He thinks it’s a joke. Time to distance myself from the warden who didn’t notice his girlfriend was possessed. Remain professional, afterall he does business at my store; but no social calls with Warden Fischer.
Oh another thing, my Enochian Tattoo has spread, it is not visible on the back of my hand, though I don’t suppose most of my companions noticed it. It has also spread further along my chest. My defensive magic is more powerful as this correlation. Nice focus item I seem to have in my skin. If it is gone, I am sure conjuring enough power to use Soulfire defensively is the least of my problems. Cameron hasn’t complained about the tattoo, so I think it’s okay.
Next steps: have a few nights out with Cameron, evaluate new stock in the Flame, put up several wards for Lori Quaid and Maxwell Jones to protect them from Baphomet’s retribution.
Epilogue: A Debt Repayed
Hell smells. Decay, fire, brimstone, despair. The place is so terrible that it truly smells of despair. Good news, I have the Leanansidhe with me. Bad news…. I’m almost certainly going to die. As long as I can kill Baphomet, I’m free and more importantly I have a deal to protect Cameron. Working the deal was damned hard, but I’ll cover that later.
Baphomet finally tried to use the outsiders for a power play. Demons slaughtering people in the world to use during rituals is bad. The reaching out to contact outsiders attracted the Winter Court’s attention. This became my problem… stupid me.
I tried to explain this to Cameron, but despite being a super computer she cannot grasp magic well. I can draw on more power than I can handle to use my magic, which is extremely dangerous. Luckily The Almighty favors me and protects me, allowing me to continue to use excessive magical powers. But this comes at a cost. I am compelled to follow His directions. During the conflict with Kemmler and his minions, I drew on this power. A lot.
It cost me. The Lord, or more likely an archangel, negotiated on our behalf with the Leanansidhe for her help in bringing down Kemmler. In exchange she received some of the favors that The Lord can demand of me. It is a bit like taking out a loan. Only through favors- which often lead to fighting, like two weeks ago, on rooftops against a great winged demon in the middle of the night, during a new moon.
So I have spent the past several months paying The Lord back for my arrogance. When Romy saw this in action she laughed about hubris. I suppose it is true. I also suppose that I shouldn’t write this since it is very likely Cameron will read it and tell Romy that I thought she was right. Crazy, nosy, devious, beautiful, amazing, brilliant girlfriend of mine. Sometimes you drive me nuts, Cameron!
Anyway, to finish the repayment I made a big of a bargain. I would help the Winter Court with their issue with Baphomet (The Almighty is fine and dandy with his “trouble shooter’ slaying demons though he offers no help in binding them, even when I need to do so to get information for a hunt or exorcism) to finish the last of my debt to both the Leanansidhe and The Lord. Oh, yes I also get extra protection for Cameron. A one-time debt-free favor to be invoked by Cameron at any time, which the Winter Queen herself will perform, and she will follow Cameron’s intent, not her exact wordings (served a month on the Wall for that, even though in the world it was only one night). The final price: one more journey into Hell and Cameron working with Agent Jane Blue again with the Agency to finish off the stupid mortals who were serving Baphomet in the city.
Luckily The Lord was gracious enough to allow me to prepare VERY well for this trip. Demon protection charms, hellfire proof necklace, the single most difficult potion for empowering and controlling soulfire* I think exists (Uriel instructed me on how to make it and it still took four days), charms to prevent Hell from weakening my use of soulfire, and assorted other trinkets to save my life such as my foci for my evocation spells.
So she and I were at Central Park, at midnight, about to open a portal into Hell when the Angency’s fight with some of Baphomet’s followers came rushing towards us.
“We must go now, Mage of the White God,” the Leanansidhe said to me.
“Wait just a bit,” I told her scanning for Cameron. Finding her was easy, she looked beautiful even as she dropped to knee to let her a Jane rip automatic gunfire into a group of the demon lord’s followers. “Cameron, do not die! You are my link back. I need you to stay alive through this.”
“Through wh-” was all I heard as the Leanansidhe brought us through to Hell, while allowing about a half dozen demons loose; damn bitch.
So there we were, staring right at Baphomet. I am pretty sure the demon lord was about to start a villainous monologue, but I just opened fire with a nuclear weapon grade blast of soulfire. I was running and sputtering lines of ancient Vandal to keep blasting the demon, hoping the Leanansidhe would do her job and keep Baphomet from ripping me to shreds. I brought up an armor spell just as a blast of hellfire send my wheeling through…. I’d really rather not say. But I stopped rolling in something that looked like Stonehenge if the stones were made of tortured souls.
The Leanansidhe kept a four of five Mariliths off of me, allowing me to keep blasting away at Baphomet. I wouldn’t have been able to deal with that many arms all trying to skewer me. The fight itself was terrifying. Really, go try to punch an army base commander, not easy. Now imagine trying to actually kill that commander while having a giant “I am here to kill your commander” sign in the air so that everyone in the entire base, and nearby cities, can see.
But, as you can guess I am writing this, it worked out. Mostly. I brought down Baphomet (demon lord kill count 2) but instantly the demesne started to deteriorate… with the Leanansidhe and me still inside. We couldn’t get out into Hell proper because the demons destroyed the way there.
The Leanansidhe looked at me and threw an icy “Foolish boy, you will perish her for being so reckless,” as she opened a portal to the Winter Court. I wasn’t going there. I called on my magic, and tried to open a portal, but nothing happened.
Okay, calm down. No demons are here to kill you, breathe. I tried again. I felt the spell working, but I was too exhausted to hold it.
Bad, this is bad. I crushed the panic down. I ran to a stable looking section of Baphomet’s collapsing demesne and drew a circle. I willed stepped in and willed it closed. The tingle of magic boosted my confidence. I thought of Cameron. Focused on her face and the feeling I get looking at her. The little gleam she gets in her eyes when she thinks of some new devious way to startle me. I held that look in my mind and called out loudly in Vandilic to “Open to Cameron.”
Good news, the portal began to open! Bad news, the demesne wasn’t winking out of existence, Hell was rushing in to obliterate me. I threw more and more power into the portal to keep it open even as the chalk circle was swept away with the blazing heat and gnashing of teeth. I was loosing the portal, so I did something really risky. Really stupid. I charged up my blasting rod and overloaded it. I used that explosion to create a new circle and threw all the power I had in the first spell into this new circle and I dove through.
I tumbled into the air about 12 feet up with a great claw mark from some demon on my back. I managed to spin in the air and throw a burst of soulfire at it. I caught the demon in its mouth and tore it to pieces from the inside. The demon exploded in Hell (hooray one more demon permanently slain). I saw Cameron’s eyes go wide as I fell. Then I saw nothing.
When I woke up, I learned that I slammed into the earth hard enough to make a tiny crater. I cracked about six ribs in that fall, snapped my blasting rod, lost a shoe, and now have a two inch scar under my left eye from that demon’s damned claws. The last of the Leanansidhe’s protection let me survive the violent portal opening and re-entry into the world; guess I can no longer say the Winter Court did nothing for me personally.
Cameron was crying over me when I woke up. I didn’t know she could cry. She was blubbering about not wanting to live alone, and how The Flame wouldn’t be the same without me. I tried to ask her why she thought that, but all I could do was wheeze and try to hold her hand. I was lucky that the Agency had some wizard who could help patch me up. She wasn’t able to do much about my ribs, but she did help the pain. I need to wait for them to heal, but they don’t hurt anymore. Her help and Cameron got me back to my apartment
I tried to make a joke to Cameron about not having a souvenir when she slapped me for going to Hell again. I tried to tell her that I was finally out of my debt to both The Lord and the Leanansidhe, but she just kissed me and curled up on the bed with me muttering about how I must being going crazy. I agreed and held her until I fell asleep.
When I woke she was baking. It smells like donuts, but I am exhausted and getting up right now feels like too much of a challenge. I reached over to my nightstand and grabbed my journal and pen. She’s coming back now. I’ll ask her about her adventure while I was in Hell, then it looks like a lazy recovery-filled day.
*Some of the ingredients for this potion: Tears of the Pope, the Blood of a Knight of the Cross, the Hair of a Knight of the Word, a Blessing from a Bishop, depleted uranium, gold shavings, and the light of both a full moon and light from the dawn of the first day of a new month.