The New Guardian of London

Max Housesparrow is the New Guardian of London and his first task is to find and slay the Demon Queen Beelzebub.

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1. The New Guardian of London

The streetlights on the road were dim, set low for so that the working denizens of the quiet London street weren’t disturbed by their brightness, but, one by one, the lights went out. No one in the houses noticed, though, as they continued to sleep peacefully.

     Max took a deep breath; this was the sign he had been waiting for. The seventeen-year-old pushed his hair out of his face and walked into the middle of the dark, empty street.

     Bathed in the pale light of the moon, it was obvious to anyone that he wasn't normal; he was thin and wiry, light on his feet, but he had been like that before he had touched the Sacred Blade; it was his face that gave him away. His hair was a mess of tangled white curls, his ears stood pointed, high above his head and his eyes were glassy and blue with no whites and no pupils.

     He took a step further into the middle of the street and a bright, purple fire erupted from the manhole in front of him. He stumbled backwards but managed to catch himself before he fell. He squared his shoulders and peered into the jet of lilac flames that licked at the air in front of his face as a deep, guttural laugh broke through the silence of the night; it was so deep and gravelly that it shook the ground beneath his feet and set off a car alarm somewhere in the distance.

     In a blaze of blistering violet the lid of the manhole burst out of the ground and flew into the air as the fire spread across the road, hissing and lapping at his heavy boots.

“Who are you?”

     Max took a deep breath.

“I-I'm Max," he told the voice, “I'm the n-New Guardian of London. Who are you?”

     The ground began to shake again as the fire pooled around his feet and rose up from the ground into the figure of a person. It wasn't a defined figure and it didn’t form completely as the fire danced around it, but it was clear from its thin waist and defined curves that it was a girl.

     The figure laughed again, only this time it was much more feminine.

“Me?” she asked, circling around him slowly, caressing the back of his neck and burning him as he jumped out of her reach. She ran a hand over her head and a cascade of lavender tendrils fell around her face, forming a strange semblance of hair that crackled and bit at his face as he stumbled back once more, “I am Beelzebub; Goddess of edacity and epicurism.”

     Max shook his head.

“You're not a Goddess," he spat, moving away from the clutching tendrils of her hair and standing slightly taller, “You’re Beelzebub; Demon Queen of Gluttony.”

     The Demon laughed and turned to him, brushing her face with her hand and, when she moved her hand away, she almost had a face; two stony black eyes and a small, button nose.

“You are very correct, Little Guardian Boy,” she cocked her head at him before floating over to him, leaving a trail of burning purple behind her, “Now, how would a little nobody like you, come to be the Guardian of such an important place?” she blinked at him, “London is the centre of magic, you know. I don't know what the Guardians of Olde were thinking when they gave the job to such a meagre little boy.”

     Max glared at the Demon.

“T-they chose me for a reason," he told her, “To keep London safe... and I-I'm going to do just that.”

     Beelzebub cackled.

You? Keep all of London safe?” she leant in close to him and the flames of her hair tickled and stung at his face, but he didn’t move away from her, “Now tell me, Little Guardian Boy, how do you plan to do that?”

     Max smiled.

“I know a lot about you," he told her, “I know a lot about all of the Demons.”

     Beelzebub lifted her head so that it was directly in front of his and stared into his eyes.

“Is that so?” she asked, “What do you know about me then, Little Guardian?”

“You were once a Princess of the Seraphim but you fell with your brothers, Lucifer and Leviathan," he told her, “And you once staged a battle with St. Francis of Assisi... it was quite a battle too.”

     The Demon moved away from him slightly, the flames that made up her body hissing and spitting, as if he had said something to offend her.

What do you know of that battle? Of that day?”

“More than you'd like me to know, I'm sure," he tried not to smile, gloating with something he was strictly sworn against, “I know that, during that fight, you lost part of your soul. Half is in Hell and half remains here, in the Mortal World, which is why you can't hold your form; you're incomplete, only half of a True Demon.”

     Beelzebub began to laugh again.

“I may only have half of my True Form, Whelp, but I am not only half of a True Demon,” she rose up from the ground, fire gathering and sending her higher and higher until her great, fiery head blocked out the light of the moon. She bent down until her face was level with his, “Let us see how you handle Only Half a Demon!”

     She put her hands over her face, where her mouth should have been, and blew him a kiss. As her hands moved away a jagged split in the fire that created her face became visible and a long, barbed tongue shot out of the tear. He jumped out of the way and the tongue struck the ground where Max had been standing, breaking the ground into pieces.

     He rolled out of the way as she snaked after him. She lashed out, catching his stomach. He winced and pulled himself to his feet, turning to punch her, but instead of seeing her wince or even back away, he watched as his hand was enveloped within her body, the fire burning him and brining him to a white hot pain that he had never known.

     He wrenched his hand from the fire, letting out a shout, and stumbled backwards. He turned to look into Beelzebub’s eyes and looked deep into the stony blackness; he tried to take another step back, but she swatted at him, burning his face.

     He shouted again and ducked another bat of the Demon’s hand and when she failed to hit anything she stumbled forwards. As she tried to regain her balance, Max reached into his satchel and pulled out a long, thin blade; the Sacred Blade.

     From his vantage point beneath her he stabbed blindly upwards, into the Demon’s stomach. She shrieked and slithered away from him, slashing down at his face. He raised the blade above his head and her claws raked against it; the metal and the fire sparked and the Demon reared back, nursing its injured hand.

     She hissed at him and the tendrils of her hair untangled themselves before darting towards him. He dodged the first two but the third caught him off guard, searing through the side of his shirt and burning his ribs.

     He fell backwards and he held his head as he tried to get his bearings, but the fourth appeared from a blind spot in his vision, cutting his cheek and burning some of his hair.

     He cursed and tried to move away, but Beelzebub punched her fist out in front of her and a jet of lilac flames shot outwards, throwing him backwards into one of the lampposts. The molten metal tore through his coat and into his flesh, blistering it as he screamed and pulled himself away.

     He hissed as he felt the warm blood trickling down his back and picked himself up. He looked down at himself, quickly assessing the severity of his injuries, only to discover that his entire left arm had been burned so badly that the skin was beginning to peel off.

     He wiped his good hand across his mouth as the cackling Demon progressed towards him and wrinkled his nose in disgust as a trail of blood streaked across it. He threw himself at the Demon, wincing slightly at the effort, cutting and slashing and hacking at her, desperately trying to find a weakness.

     He jabbed at her again and noticed that her beady black eyes were transfixed on the blade; it was the only thing that had managed to hurt her so far. He paused, holding the blade higher and watching as she shied away from it; was the blade strong enough to kill her?

     Suddenly, he had an idea; it was crazy, it was potentially suicidal, but it was the only chance he had. If he didn’t kill her soon, she would kill him, or, worse, she could escape and continue to wreak havoc on London. The Guardians of Olde certainly wouldn’t be happy with that.

     He put the blade between his teeth and turned away from Beelzebub, towards the nearest lamppost and ran to it, grabbing at the heated metal which began to eat away at his gloves as he shimmed up as quickly as he could.

     The Demon cackled, seeing his retreat, and chased after him until she was directly below him.

“Come down, Little Guardian Boy,” she cooed, “You can't stay up there forever!”

     He tried to ignore her as she began to blast flames at the lamppost; the purple danced up the metal, biting and licking at his boots. He took a deep breath as another burst of flames set his coat alight and he screamed as the flames began to singe his skin.

     He felt something swelling inside his mouth and realised that he must have cut his tongue on the blade. He had to be more careful; he couldn’t afford any more mistakes.

     She cackled beneath him, her mouth opening wider and wider, revealing small, slimy black stumps that he could only assume were her teeth, as she prepared to... to eat him.

     He took a deep breath, wincing nauseously as the blood that was quickly filling his mouth spilled out between his teeth and down over his cheeks. He had to time everything perfectly, otherwise he would die.

     Max let go of the slowly melting lamppost and pulled the blade out of his mouth, cutting his cheek slightly as he did so, and pointed the sword downwards. Beelzebub’s eyes widened and she screamed, but it was too late.

     The silver of the sword sank deep into their throat, cutting off her scream as black blood bubbled up and out of the gaping wound. He jumped away as the Demon began to writhe in agony.

     The inky blackness began to froth up and a few drops splattered Max’s cheek. He winced and wiped it away quickly; the blood had burnt him. He wrinkled his nose in disgust as the blood began to pump faster and faster as his sword sunk deeper into the Demon.

     He took a step back as the blackness coated the Demon, sizzling as it ate away at her flesh until there was nothing more than a pool of bubbling black blood and his blade.

     He took a deep breath and smiled to himself as he wiped the back of his good hand across his face; it came back streaked with blood and sweat, but he ignored it as he hesitantly walked across to where his blade lay, unscathed in the pool of acidic blood.

     He pulled the blade towards him with his boot before picking it up and wiping the blood onto the leg of his trousers, pretending not to notice as it ate away at the fabric. He smiled to himself triumphantly.

“I am Max Housesparrow," he said aloud, “And I am the New Guardian of London.”

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