The Sorcerer And His (Weird) Angels
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Phnom Penh, Riverside, Sarak’s place.


"Pawn in C3. By the way, is the familiar spirit I provided you still suitable for you?"


Sitting in his salt circle, Amy, president of the hells and commander of thirty-six infernal legions, was, as usual, giving Sarak a hard time. Without answering, the demonist stared at the board, looking for a solution.


Knight in B6, he finally announced. And yes, I maintain that this was probably the best deal I could have made with you.

- Queen to E1. It's strange he laughs, I have the same feeling as you about it! Be careful on your next move."


Their frequent chess games had almost become an institution. The demon always had a definite advantage through his centuries of practice, but since he could not find many human game lovers in his own plane of existence, he gladly accepted a game of it from time to time and even regularly asked anyone who would invoke him to do so.


"Knight in C4 .

- Queen in C3. You lost. Again.

- No, not yet.

- Well, try looking, but I'm telling you, checkmate in three moves. Maximum."


The tattooed colossus stayed a few minutes in front of the chessboard, looking for a solution under the mocking eyes of the demon, before finally accepting the evidence.


"Mate in three moves. You won.

- I told you so! Another one?

- I pass, it's already late and I'm getting tired of losing.

- So give up your Indian defense Sarak, it doesn't work for you. Are you sure, not another game?

- Definitely. However, it was a pleasure to play against you, as usual.

- Come on, I might be able to convince you to do it again!

- Don't try, it's over for tonight.

- A price on something, maybe?

- Forget it.

- The inscriptions on your dead body, did you finally find out what it was? I can take a look at it…

- That was six months ago, I didn't wait for you. It cost me a lot, but still less than with you. We had to find a trick for insemination, but it went well. It was supposed to do something at birth at first, a power transfer via blood or something like that. Not embarrassing for us.

- By the way, is your project progressing?

- Slowly. We wait for the birth, it takes time to grow. Goppette got a couple of fears about body preservation, but he's handling it.

- Your necromancer?

- That's right."


The demonist finished putting the pieces away and began to approach the circle to break the invocation, when the demon took over.


"I have one last question about that, if you don't mind.

- Go ahead, please.

- Let's imagine, it's a hypothesis, that during my social outings in the underworld, I also heard about it, I mean, about you and your little plan?

- The colossus stopped for a moment, waiting for the next part.

- Are you interested in my source? This is definitely worth an extra game…

- Indeed.

- Don't think I've become more sweet with time, I know that my advice is still worth more than just a game…

- I don't know your information, and in case of doubt, you know I wouldn't pay that much. What's your price?"


The demon thinked for a moment.


"Do you know why I like playing chess?

- Your price, demon.

- In hell, the few games we have have already been codified for thousands of years, taken up the demon, indifferent. Impossible to innovate, each move has already been explored a thousand times and no matter what the game, all the games are the same, there is nothing more stimulating. Some exult at the idea of approaching the "perfect game", but in the end, it's a bore… Most make fun of human games, too volatile for their tastes, a few centuries of existence at the most…. That it is difficult to find regular players there.

- So, you want more games? Other partners?

- No! Although I won't spit on it. But the fact is that it is almost impossible, in my plan of existence, to find out about the latest games in vogue in your country. This is extremely damaging, both for our intellect and for the invocations. Do you know the "Bridge"?

- Vaguely, why?

- Once, in England, an old lady and her friend summoned me, desiring my services. Not wanting to pay the price, she asked me to bet it. Confident, I accept, without knowing the game. My intellect, I thought, would be enough. Guess what they choose?

- Bridge?

- Bridge. A crushing defeat, for me and Stolas called in as reinforcement. An interesting game, but impossible to learn in a few minutes, I'm afraid.

- And so?

- I'm interested in it. I want you to teach me how to play bridge.

- That's it?

- That's all. Two full chess games tonight, and three months playing bridge every night.

- Go for chess. Two nights a week of bridge, for three months.

- Three nights, three months. It will only be a little more than our current chess games anyway. And you find the players."


The demonist sighed.


"Sold. I hope it's worth the price," he muttered as he concluded the pact.


The demon, happy with his performance, gave him a wide smile.


"Tonight you might lose the kid."


The demonist's blood froze, while the demon's face warmed up.


"I heard that Haagenti was looking for you, for a man named Francesco Campamanes. He found you a few days ago. I appreciate those games, but moving away from your loot, even for one night, it's risky…

- Goddamn it! Shouted the colossus, the bastard was waiting for me to leave!"


Mad out of rage, he grabbed his jacket for running to protect his due, when a wall of flame suddenly sprang up in front of the door.


"…

- Two games, were we saying?"



Sorya had never really had a smooth ride, but the circumstances were not helping. With her hands tight on the handlebars of her motorcycle, she was now crossing the city as quickly as she could, despite the traffic disrupted by the work on the Chroy Changvar Bridge. The demonist had called her in an emergency, it was the first time she had ever heard the colossus panic. Forced to admit it was contagious. She passed on the sidewalk to avoid a traffic light that was a little too long, as she gradually approached her objective. And Goppette who still didn't answer… After a few long minutes of disrespect for the traffic laws or even for any elementary notions of road safety, she finally saw the doctor's office at the end of the street and stoped abruptly in front of the property. Everything was strangely calm and she climbed the gate before trying to call Goppette back, still without success.

She ran to the main door, unfortunately closed, rang the intercom without answer and finally fell back to the inner courtyard. This one, particularly flowery, would undoubtedly have been magnificent by day, but the time was not for tourism. Goppette's car was lying in the middle of it, between several huge flowerpots mostly filled with water, where small fishes were sleeping quietly, without knowing what was really going on. She looked for a way to enter or warn the necromancer of his presence, without much success, the doors were all double-locked. She hesitated to scream under her window when she noticed broken glass at her feet. It was not obvious to see in the darkness of the courtyard, but on the first floor, a window had been broken.

It was bad.

She tied her hair back, climbed on the roof of the car, took a little momentum and jumped to grab the window ledge. She pulled herself up painfully and confirmed her suspicions: a window pane had been broken to open the window from the inside. She opened the window larger, taking care not to cut herself and passed through the frame. A dark corridor was now standing in front of her.

Calling for help without more information would have been dangerous, so she decided to find out more. She hesitated to go up to the rooms to try to find out from the necromancer, but the idea of hanging around the laboratory was far too tempting. She took a small knife out of her jacket and took a sneak step down the stairs. She had not much knowledge of the house, being invited here only to the laboratory and to guest room when she was needed to study the inscriptions on the body of the deceased, but her good sense of direction was more than enough here. She quickly found herself in part known and headed towards the small passage leading to the laboratory, where the dead woman was stored waiting for the "great day". Stopping only very rarely, she stayed alert for the slightest suspicious noise. The door was open, a strange thing knowing the doctor. A dry noise was heard at the other side of it. She took a quick look down the corridor and her blood froze.

on the other side, desperately trying to break into the laboratory door, stood a nightmare creature, similar to a human being who would have been cut in half at the waist, with two huge bat wings coming out directly behind it, at the shoulder blades. The creature had spread its wings between the ground and the ceiling, to lift the legless torso at the handle level, which the creature was now pulling with a demonic force, driven by the amplitude of the wings.

Sorya stood against the wall, her breath panting. She was expecting something, but not… that, whatever that may be. What to do about it? Another quick look. No, it was definitely not a dream, no awakening to hope for. Try the kitchen? Find knives, ingredients? Trying to find Goppette? A new cracking sounded, indicating a new charge of the beast against the door.

What to do about it?

What to do what to do what to do what to do what to do what to do what to do what to do what to do…

Damn it, make a decision!

She put her head through the frame again, hoping that the solution would come on its own.

Missed. In fact, it was even worse: the creature had disappeared, the door was open, the lock smashed.

Shit. No time to think, act now or lose six months of work. She took quick steps into the corridor to approach the broken door, while grabbing her knife by the blade.

She took a deep breath.

She charged while screaming. The creature was lying on the body of Virika Kayanan the dead mother. She turned around suddenly when the scream was announced. The knife burst through the room, to crash into the creature's eye, which screamed in pain. Jumping over the central table, she rushed straight for the creature, to retrieve her weapon before giving him time to react. She approached her hand to the handle of the knife when the creature responded violently, throwing the young woman backwards with a ferocious punch into the ribs, taking her breath away. Before she could do much, two huge hands laid her shoulders on the ground, while the creature was now bending over her, revealing a dentition far too full for a herbivore, as well as a tongue far too long to be good. Without thinking, Sorya closed her eyes and threw her head forward. His forehead hit the handle of the knife, still planted, ripping out a new cry and precious second of attention from the creature. A kick in the chest later, she was released from her embrace.

She hobbled towards the door taking a wing blow as she passed, as the creature tore the knife off with a sharp blow, before spreading her large membranous wings to rush on the poor sorceress….

The secret to success, it's the timing.

As the creature's hand rushed to her face, Sorya closed the door with a sharp blow. The impact produced a dry sound as the sorceress lost her balance. The creature, groggy, had little time to come to her senses as a hand grabbed her hair firmly. The creature's infamous head was pushed a few feet and the door closed abruptly, playing the role of the hammer and the frame of the anvil. At the first strike, the creature screamed in pain, the second, Sorya screamed in rage. The third, we only heard the dull sound of a skull breaking. The fourth, like the fifth, was not really necessary, but still happened. Faced with the creature's inert corpse, the victorious fighter collapsed, shortness of breath. She had succeeded. She didn't know what she had killed yet. But she had succeeded.

She laughed alone, with the corpse of the creature as the only audience, she laughed at the gods, she laughed at the world, and at her.

But it seems that fate does not like us to laugh at it. A noise was heard in the corridor. She turned her head and saw three similar creatures running towards her, like a crawling nightmare. They must have broken into the house during the battle. Sorya had not had the opportunity to worry about the outside world at that time.

Too bad.

The first one tackled her to the ground before she could think of getting up. The second one passed over her, without even paying attention.

Two hands now grabbed her neck with monstrous power, so much so that she didn't know for a moment, which would kill her first: asphyxia or the grasping.

She felt weaker and weaker.

Gradually, small white spots appeared in his field of vision. White, or simply fuzzy. Gradually, everything turns white. Only pain and distress remained.

From the corner of her conscience, she heard a noise. She thought about her neck. Everything becomes black.

She suddenly inhaled all the air she had missed earlier. And she coughed.

A lot.

She leaned to her side, as she now spat out a kind of black soot that was heavily mixed with blood and mucus. The creature had apparently disappeared, while the same type of soot was now covering the ground. One of the two creatures passed over her, the wings plated along her body to pass into the corridor, soon followed by the second. A thumping noise was heard. A winged figure was now wriggling on the ground, while in the distance, blurred, a figure seemed to be struggling with the second creature.

A third noise, this time clearly identifiable even by Sorya as a detonation, sounded, and the creature quickly moved away from the misty silhouette. She didn't quite understand what the figure did, busy manipulating something in her hands, until another shot rang out. The last creature, wounded in the corridor, suddenly evaporated in black smoke, as the sorceress gradually regained the use of her senses. She finally recognized the man who was now approaching her with a rifle in his hand. Goppette, in her underpants, had a hard face, which she had never observed on the man until now. The rage was in his eyes, and his eternal swaying step had been replaced by a strong and violent one. She didn't had time to say a word that the necromancer was already on her, two fingers resting on her neck to take the pulse.


"Are you all right?

- Yes… I think… I think… She says with a cough."


Without further warning, he put the rifle in her hands.


"Rock salt shells. The book is safe, he said looking for a few flasks in his devastated laboratory.


He looked at the non-corpse of Virika Kayananan for a quick examination. He began to speak again a few moments later, after a quick examination of the body.


"The child will live.

- Damn, we saved him.

- But we still have a problem. One escaped, obviously with blood.

- Is that problematic?

- Yes."


Silence fall on the room.


"Why?

- There are many things you can do with blood… Especially the location, through the limbo.

- He's going to attack again?

- No, the association will kill this bastard for treason before that.

- So what's the problem?"


The necromancer helped the undead to get up, while she obeyed without a word.


"Do you know what she misses? Her?

- Intelligence?

- A soul. Or more accurately, her own. Actually, she does have a soul, I shaped one for her. We always avoid bringing back someone's true soul into necromancy, because it is very quickly complex on the one hand, and very consequential on the other hand. A soul torn from the kingdom of the dead does not easily return there and it is assuming that it returns here in a correct state. So we don't bring back a soul. But you can't control a body without it.

- And so?

And so, apart from the work of regeneration and conservation of the body, the work of the necromancer is to create an artificial soul to do this. A primary thaumaturgical instance, to replace the first one. But this trick has another purpose. What is the risk of leaving an abandoned house?

- …

-That something else go in there. You have no idea how many things, sometimes of human origin, are lurking around.

- And then you made up your thing, no, we're safe?

Her ? yes."


She immediately thought of the child. Did he have a soul? The question, new to his mind, had something deeply disturbing. For the first time, she did not see this being as a key, as an object, but as a possible human being. Being cruel is one thing, being aware of it was another. Goppette continued, distancing herself from her considerations.


"For the child, it's a different story. There are relatively few studies on the subject as you might expect, but it seems that the infant's soul premise develops itself from the mother's one.

- So here…

- From almost nothing. Before the birth, the mother's artificial soul should protect him, but after that… I had thought of using the child to open the book and then kill him to avoid the problem, but here… we risk being overrun. The association is not going to kill Campamanes for treason, it won't have the time. He will prepare himself, kill himself and wait for birth, hidden in limbo before re-emerging in the right place at the right time, guided by the blood.

- Really?

- He knows he's doomed by his action, the guild won't let that pass. I don't know yet how Sarak got his name, but it's definitely going to precipitate things.

- So what do we do? There must be a way to protect ourselves from it, right?

- No. Not against a user of this level."


A new silence passed.


"On the other hand… Goppette thinks, if you can't fight against the assault, you can assault before it… A occupated body can't be possessed.

- Could we outrun him?

- Not before birth, but yes, in theory… It remains to be found who would be crazy and indebted enough to dare to bet his existence in a race against a practitioner of his level…

- No one in the association will be…"


Hesitant steps were heard in the corridor and the sorceress raised her rifle to what turned out to be no more than a woman's pelvis, carried by two legs covered by a long skirt. The thing stopped in front of the inert body of the first creature discovered by Sorya, the only one who was not reduced to ashes by the salt. Goppette approached the body gently, with a scalpel in his hand. Waving to ask to keep the both legs in line of shot, he knelt down and nicked the body at the neck. A chirping sound was heard and suddenly Goppette extracted a small black bird from it, as the body and the pair of legs fell to the ground in ashes.


"At least, this evening was an interesting one, he announced as he examined the twitting bird. Concerning our problem, if the association does not have any volunteer, the solution is simple…

- We need to hire."

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