August 15th 2014
The silent lull of the evening breeze was being disturbed by the hustle and bustle of human civilization. Again. Abbadon sighed from a park bench. These humans never seemed to take a day off. It had been several decades since he last had to deal with these two-legged animals. Back then they spent most of their time hunched over their desks writing letters. Now every single human in sight was hunched over tiny glowing boards of varying size, repeatedly poking them with their thumbs.
Abbadon sighed again. There was just no helping these creatures. Totally irrelevant anyway. The humans weren't what he was there for. He was on the hunt again. For a cambion this time. Abbadon smiled to himself. It had been at least a century since he'd gone up against a fellow half-demon. The cambion, much like the nephilim, were seen as an abomination in both heaven and hell and they spent a good chunk of their long lifespans being ruthlessly hunted by the forces of both sides.
Most of these cambion and nephilim, half demon and half angel respectively, often spent much of their lives in hiding, trying as much as possible to blend in with the humans they looked so similar to. Some of them were able to pull it off, and they lived and died naturally without ever showing up on anyone's radar. Some of them weren't so fortunate. There was always some sort of slip up they never fully anticipated, like walking too close to a demon without realizing it.
Once their scent was picked up, that was it. The hunt was on. These hunts were one of the few occasions when both sides opted to work together, sharing resources and information, all born from a mutual need to rid the very universe of these…mistakes. Abbadon knew somewhere in his heart that he probably shouldn't hold the cambion in such high contempt. Being one of them himself, he had no idea when hell would decide they no longer had need of his services and turn the hunt against him.
He shook his head and pushed the thought out of his mind. Most of hell was busy with attempts to invade the mortal world anyway. Beelzebub's first order as the new ruler of hell had been to seize control of earth from the grasp of humans. He hadn't counted on their resilience. Or that they'd receive help from heaven. For almost three hundred years the main demon army had been held a few kilometers outside the Gate of Solomon that the demons used to cross into limbo.
The tactics of the humans had actually impressed Abbadon. In addition to holding the demons near the gate in limbo for so long, they even had specialized forces they called Verses, some of which actually foraged into hell itself in search of information and general weaknesses to exploit. Abbadon had watched most of the war play out, and he still wasn't entirely sure the humans weren't acting alone, without some form of demonic guidance. The idea of demons working against each other wasn't entirely unheard of.
Abbadon glanced at his watch. Time meant nothing to an immortal—as a concept, it didn't even exist till the humans came around—but the cambion he was hunting kept to a very rigid pattern on this particular day of the week. He glanced across the street just as his target stepped out of one of the many buildings lining her side of the road. It was a little girl, probably around seven years old, with her blonde hair tied up in pigtails.
Abbadon felt a slight tug in his chest as he recalled a distant memory. He'd had a sister once, and she'd had blonde hair, same as his target. Same as him. He felt a small spark of hesitation at having to kill this cambion that reminded him of a little sister he barely even knew. He shook his head again. Whatever his feelings might be on the matter, that was still a cambion, and he still had a job. "Hesitation only leads to death." He reminded himself as he got off the park bench. He made his way toward the little blonde girl with renewed purpose. He would not enjoy this, but it had to be done.
As he walked he suddenly became aware of the humans around him. Their panic was rising. He became even more aware of the fact that the panic was being directed at him. He found out why a few seconds later. He'd stepped out onto the road and a bigger variation of the horseless chariots he'd been seeing all day was suddenly barreling toward him at a frightening speed.
The chariot's rider seemed to have lost control of it. Abbadon stretched his left hand toward the chariot and focused his energy. A portal suddenly opened up between him and the chariot. Abbadon heard a short squeal as the rubber wheels of the chariot fought to stop it's momentum. The chariot sailed through the portal and it closed. Abbadon turned to his right and opened another portal. This time the chariot wheeled its way out slowly and came to a stop.
All the humans around him were silent as they struggled to process this sudden chain of events. Abbadon figured someone would start screaming eventually and send the rest of the humans into a blind panic. He scanned around for his target. He found her quite a distance away from his little performance.
Abbadon pushed his way through the stunned crowd and started after her. The closer he got the faster she walked until she suddenly broke into a sprint with Abbadon close behind her. This was the part of the job he liked the most. Even more than studying the target's patterns looking for the best opportunity to strike, it was when the initial strike failed and the target ran. He enjoyed the target's fear of knowing they were about to die. He almost fed off it.
This current chase was going just fine until the little girl—who moved deceptively fast for someone her size—ducked into an alley. Abbadon followed her in, totally ignoring his self-preservation instincts. Turning the corner into the alley, Abbadon barely had half a second to react to the blade sailing toward his neck.
He'd spent about forty years of his life building up his reflexes. Those well refined reflexes were the only thing that saved him. He ducked under the initial swing and rolled out of the way of the second downward swing. The heavy blade dug itself into the ground.
Abbadon smiled. It wasn't often his targets actually fought back, and even when they did they were mostly on the defensive, all the while pleading for their lives. They'd never actually tried to just outright kill him before. This hunt was getting more enjoyable by the second. The target struggled for a second to free the blade from the concrete floor. That second was all Abbadon needed to close the distance between him and the target.
He'd reached for his hidden dagger and thrust it into the target's neck in the same amount of time it took her to take a defensive step backwards. 'Mission accomplished.' Abbadon thought smugly, basking in the face of yet another efficient kill. The lack of a death scream or the thud of a collapsing body quickly brought him back to reality.
He'd certainly gotten her neck, but the blade had apparently broken harmlessly against her skin. He was so stunned he didn't notice the target's foot until she buried it into his chest, sending him flying back a few feet.
Abbadon go to his feet cautiously. This girl wasn't like any cambion he'd faced in recent times. This one was old. Probably as old as him, he reckoned. The more he studied her, the more confused he became. For one thing, he was certain he'd been chasing a little girl. The girl in front of him could easily have passed for seventeen. The blonde hair she had now fell down toward her waist and in her hand was a familiar looking weapon.
His mind went into a haze as he realized that he'd almost been killed by his father's axe, Balthazar. He considered his target again. Perhaps this wouldn't be quite as easy as he'd assumed. "What is your name?" he asked. The girl yanked the axe out of the ground and balanced it on her shoulder.
"You're the one trying to kill me, shouldn't you know?" she shot back. Abbadon tilted his head to the side. He was usually given a target and a general location, after which he'd have to sniff them out by their essence. He'd never once thought about their names. He was just going to kill them anyway, names weren't entirely necessary to memorize.
"Why would I know your name?" he asked.
Now it was the girl's turn to consider him. People had been hunting her all week. She could have left the area any time she wanted, but the feeling of being hunted; always looking over her shoulder, constantly being on edge…it just reminded her so much of her childhood. Besides, try as they might, none of her hunters had ever been able to kill her anyway. And when they failed, she got to have a little fun with them. But more importantly, they all knew her name. Had this one just come after her without even knowing who she was?
"Because of the bounty?" she offered. "That's why you're chasing me, isn't it?"
"Bounty?" Abbadon repeated uncertainly. "Are you some sort of criminal?" This just wasn't right. Cambion usually did their utmost best not to attract attention, and here was this one just flouncing across the land with a bounty on her head. If whoever was chasing her found out she was a cambion it would most certainly make his job a lot harder than it already was.
"No, I'm not a criminal," the girl said tersely. "Not technically, anyway."
Stranger and stranger. But Abbadon had just about reached the end of his tolerance for her games. "Do you understand why I was chasing you?" he asked. The girl hefted the axe and shrugged.
"Not really, but I'm guessing you're here to kill me like all the others so," she swung the axe again. Abbadon dodged the swing by a hair's breadth. He could feel the heat of the blade as it sped past him.
He took a few steps back. Heat? That wasn't right either. He glanced back at the girl and chuckled darkly. She'd somehow managed to set the axe on fire. The girl gave an impish grin and spun the axe. Abbadon returned a half smile. So she intended to kill him, and then set him on fire for good measure. Clearly he was dealing with a pro. Fighting her directly would be a bad strategy. He needed to throw her off balance somehow.
"Where did you get that axe?" he asked finally.
"That's more of a second date question." The girl chuckled playfully as she pushed some hair out of her eyes. "Certainly not something I'd tell nameless men who try to kill me."
"Of course, where are my manners?" Abbadon straightened himself and offered a friendly smile. Better to play along with her game till he found an opening. "My name is Abbadon. Now, would you be so kind as to—" he was cut off by the girl's heavy swing. The axe dug deep into the wall at neck height. She seemed to have no trouble freeing the blade from the concrete this time.
She slung the axe back onto her shoulder and glared at Abbadon with the type of hatred he'd only seen beyond hell's fifth level. The air around the blade's edge shimmered as the flames intensified, moving from yellow to a menacing shade of blue. Abbadon couldn't for the life of him figure out what had set her off.
Any further thought on the matter was cut off by her second swing. An overhead strike. Abbadon steeled himself and caught the blade with his right hand. "What are you doing?" he asked. The girl's reply was a sharp kick to his chest. Rather than a few feet, this kick launched him back several meters, right into the side of a building.
Abbadon got to his feet amidst the sudden screams of terror and pain coming from the humans, desperately trying to make sense of the situation. So far, two things were certain. This cambion was definitely old, and she was very, very angry.
"Finally decided to crawl up to the surface did you?" the girl said, picking her way toward him through the rubble. "I really thought you'd learned not to mess with me after our last encounter."
"Don't play coy with me, Abbadon." The girl's calm voice was beset by the tempest unfolding behind her eyes. The very air around her seemed statically charged with her anger. "You thought you could distract me with a pretty face and a composed demeanor?"
"Wait a second—"
"If you were going to come attack me after all this time, couldn't you at least have chosen a sturdier vessel? Barons of hell aren't supposed to bleed."
Abbadon reached for the side of his face to feel a huge gash. He followed the thick trail of blood down his face as the feeling of terror slowly crept into his mind. If he didn't act quickly there was a chance he'd be killed right then and there. He had no idea what the baron of hell he was named after had done to upset this particular cambion, but he was not about to sit there and let himself be killed for something he had no part of.
The girl, meanwhile, seemed to have calmed down a little, but the look on her face said she was probably just trying to decide how best to go about killing him. It was safe to say she had no intention of listening to him. He'd just have to make her pay attention.
Abbadon stretched out his hand and opened a portal. He yanked out a sword and leveled the blade at her menacingly. He'd be a fool to take her lightly. He took a tentative step forward and swung the sword. What would have otherwise been a fatal blow was negated when the blade of the sword turned to ash as soon as it got within a few inches of her skin. She hadn't even bothered to dodge.
Abbadon dropped the now bladeless sword handle. The feeling of terror had become slightly stronger now. Steel blades crumbling to ash on contact was something he'd only seen the older demons pull off. The reports said she was a young cambion. What was going on?
He reached his hand into the portal again and pulled out a spear. The cursed spear, Gae Bulg. Cursed weapons were immune to the ash trick, as far as he knew. "Let's try this again, shall we?" Abbadon smiled. He lunged forward again and struck at her. She rolled out of the way this time, confirming Abbadon's belief. This weapon could hurt her.
Of course, that was only half the problem solved. The girl was still deceptively strong. There was no room for error. He took a slowly took a step to the right. So did the girl. He took another one and she copied. Abbadon continued this till he had his back to the hole he'd made in the building's wall and she was effectively cut off from any exit. The only way she was leaving that building was through him. And now that he had an idea what he was working with, going through him wasn't a very likely option.
"Well?" the girl smirked. "You've got me cornered. Now what, Abbadon?"
"I think you have me confused with someone else." Abbadon said. "My name is indeed Abbadon, but I'm not a baron of hell."
"But you're here to kill me?" she asked, lowering her weapon a little. Abbadon nodded a confirmation, and the girl smiled. "Then the situation remains the same." She lunged forward and swung the axe in a broad arc. Abbadon blocked with the shaft of his spear. A loud boom filled the air as the shockwave sent rubble flying in every direction. The force of her swing caused her to stumble back a bit, ever so slightly off balance.
Abbadon lunged at her leg, slicing her just above her left knee. Before she'd had time to react to that, he barreled into her, knocking her to the ground. He leveled the tip of the spear at her neck. She shot him a dark smile. "One last question before I send you off to the next life." Abbadon said calmly. "Why do you have my father's axe?"
The smile drained away from the girl's face and was replaced by a look of cold panic. "Y-your father?" she mumbled. "What do you mean your father? Balthazar is—"
"I am Abbadon, son of Marcus; and I'm asking how you got your hands on his axe."
The girl said nothing, instead her gaze shifted to the space above Abbadon's head. He followed her gaze, noticing the portal swirling above him. He returned his gaze back to the girl in time to watch her kick the spear out of his grip, and then kick him a few feet away from her just as a volley of swords rained through the portal like arrows.
The girl got to her feet slowly and held up the axe. "Balthazar is mine." She said quietly. "It was a gift."
"A gift?" Abbadon repeated hazily. What was supposed to be routine assignment had turned into a deathmatch against a cambion nearly as old as he was; who was not only in possession of his father's axe, but was also somehow able to use the same portal magic as him. "Who are you?" he demanded finally.
"I am Bonadel." She said. "Daughter of Marcus."
TO BE CONTINUED.