In this, part 8 of Death's tale, we find that a pair is worse than a horde.
Many of you know Mimi Manderly as a regular participant in Lily's Friday Prediction, bringing the darkness in high style, but she's also an artist. I was absolutely gobsmacked to wake up yesterday morning and find she'd drawn Death and Moira! Make sure you check out the cheeky details. :-)
A portrait of Death and Moira
As usual, links to previous installments:
Parts Two and Three
Parts Five and Six
8. Flight Through the Catacombs
The screech reverberated through every one of Death’s bones. For good measure, Death stomped on its skull one more time. The demon dissolved into the earth with a hot sizzle, leaving behind no soul, which was unfortunate. Death would’ve liked to hold it in his hand and crush it to dust.
Moira swore, and he whirled. Seeing its companion defeated, the second demon chose escape. Moira flung herself after it, with Death right behind both of them.
A litany of abuse echoed back at them. “Ugly Fate! Smelly Death! Foolish Death!”
Its flight through the forgotten catacombs took them deeper—the bones were no longer human. The wet earth and mildew smell was replaced by sulfur and the stench of rot. Moira jerked her arm left, and Death ran without hesitation. In moments, they had reunited, two tunnels bringing the careening demon and its pursuers to a single fork. Death got there first.
The demon licked its lips, stretched its jaws, and snapped them shut.
And was gone.
“The surface!” Moira grabbed his arm. “Hold tight. This might hurt.”
Death remembered reading once in a magazine about deep sea divers; he didn’t remember much, as it had been National Geographic and he’d only picked it up for the pictures of the naked women in Guyana. But he recalled one shot of a diver, a tiny body on the edge between nighttime-blue and sun-ocean-blue, pressing upwards. This is what it must feel like, he thought. To be squeezed and have no choice to but to go up.
Just as he wondered if it would hurt very much when his ribs cracked, the open sky exploded above them, gray and bright.
Moira’s horse was just where she’d left it, standing in the street beside a light post. Only now, it had a demon beneath one of its massive dinner-plate hooves.
The thing snarled and spit.
“Loathsome Fate! Her so ugly, no one wants her! Get her horse off me!” Claws raked the horse’s leg and chest. The horse leaned down and casually chomped with giant yellow teeth on the demon’s head. It screamed, flailing.
“It’s like a terrible red baby,” said Death. “Look at it.” He knelt down. “Does baby need a change? Hm? Does baby want a--”
A bloody snaggletooth hit him in an ocular cavity and rattled out the bottom of his skull.
“We haven’t got time for this,” Moira said, pushing him aside. “Why did the Devil send you?”
“Stupid Death terminated.”
“Not yet, he isn’t.”
The demon stopped squirming and grinned. “He will be. And Fate too. Hag, hag, hag. Dead hag.”
Death punched the demon in its already-squashed nose.
From her robes, Moira drew silver scissors. She shoved the blades into the demon’s chest, and like its brethren, it, too dissolved into the earth in a bubbling, steaming sludge. She wiped the scissors through a hedge and replaced them in her robes.
“I don’t know why the Devil only sent two demons to stop us,” she said, reaching for her horse’s bridle, “but we need to go, now.”
“Because,” rumbled a voice behind them, “if he sent a horde, it would attract attention. And we only needed to slow you down a bit.”
They turned. Striding towards them, in his finest furs and boots, was a man so tall and blonde and broad-shouldered that Death always found himself slumping in his magnificent presence:
Thank you so much for reading! I'm a bit flabbergasted by the numbers, so to all you lurkers, I raise a glass of wine in toast to you. Thanks for coming back again and again.
Parts 9 & 10 here.
Blog fest news for March! Over at the Leaky Pencil, Chris Allinotte will be hosting an Ides of March fest. Click on the link for details, and please... bring your best madness. Let it all hang out. I'm looking forward to this already!