Remain. [NaNoWriMo '16]

[Sequel to NaNo '15 novel Run.] Ruling the world isn't as easy or as fun as it sounds, especially not when a group of angry angels are thrown into the mix. What's worse is that Baxel is without his right-hand man, who just so happens to be the key to everyone's plans.

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14. Thirteen: La Salle de la Mort [Alt: Call Me, Maybe?]

    The moment I appeared in front of Damian, he was grabbing my arm. “The shadows just came back. France. Sathariel’s in France. I saw through the shadows, and…” he shook his head. “I don’t know. You should see it.” 

    I was already pulling at the darkness. “Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s go.”

    Damian led the way, heading to the part of the Nether beneath where the shadows had pinpointed. We returned to the surface a little off of the exact location, but close enough to spy with the shadows without any great effort. 

    “Be careful,” I warned Damian. “They’ll be able to sense movement in the shadows with their light sensitivity. You should be fine just watching, but don’t move the shadows at all, okay?”

    “Got it.”

    The angels were situated in some kind of sprawling villa almost resembling a compound. I connected from shadow to shadow and jumped rooms, investigating each one without moving a muscle. Samyaza seemed to have set up camp in a makeshift office, two angels outside his door. I lingered there for a minute as he spoke to another angel inside the room. If I was remembering correctly, it was Yomiel, though he looked a lot worse than the last time I had seen him. So did Samyaza; his skin hung off his frame like melting cheese, but somehow that only made him more terrifying. 

    “Did you locate our descendants?” Samyaza asked, crossing his arms and cutting a striking figure in a suit crisper than his skin. 

    “It seems that there are a few branches, sir,” Yomiel replied. “The largest is in America, but they all go by the name…” he referred to a sheet of paper in his hand. “The Guild of International Transmutative Sorcerers.”

    Samyaza moved his chin a fraction in acknowledgement. “I think it is time I pay them a visit. See how our descendants have grown their power.”

    Yomiel nodded. “Now, sir?” 

    “Not at this moment, but soon.” Samyaza laced his fingers together as he paced across the room. “How is the newest generation doing?” 

    “They are growing nicely, sir. They should be hitting puberty in the next twelve hours.”

    “Good,” Samyaza replied. “Have you found a fresh group of women?”

    Yomiel handed Samyaza another paper. “They are waiting in the hold, sir. You, of course, have preference.”

    Samyaza nodded. “I will be down shortly, and after they are all impregnated, we will visit the Guild of International Transmutative Sorcerers.”

    “I believe they refer to themselves as the GITS.”

    “The GITS, then. Leave me now,” Samyaza dismissed, and Yomiel hurried out. 

    I decided it was best that I, too, leave before I got to imagining Samyaza impregnating anybody. I followed the shadows out into the corridor and around the compound. One area seemed to be a nursery while another held a group of young children, perhaps around eight or nine years old. As I continued, I passed a group of teenagers, then older teens, perhaps eighteen or nineteen. And that was all before I came to the room of that held the corpses of maybe a hundred women recklessly piled one on the other. I was glad that shadows couldn’t convey a sense of smell. 

    The only living humans I found in the place were taking care of the children, or cooking like slaves. I wanted to pull one aside and force them to explain, but to do so would give away my presence, and that wouldn’t do. Instead, I pulled back, returning to my own awareness and nudging Damian. He opened his eyes. 

    “Wow,” he breathed. 

    “Yeah.”

    “What did you see?”

    I pinched the bridge of my nose. “Samyaza, mostly. Talking about the next group of women they’re going to impregnate before he pays a visit to the GITS to see how ‘his descendants have grown their power.’ He’s going to be pretty disappointed.”

    Damian’s face seemed paler than usual. “He’ll kill them. The GITS are no match for him.”

    “Why would he kill his descendants?”

    “Because they’re weak,” Damian answered matter-of-factly. “I don’t even know how many are left, but I’m sure they’d be disappointing to an angel like him.”

    “They are pretty weak,” I admitted. “There are maybe like… fifteen left?”

    Damian looked up. “Fifteen? That’s all?”

    I shrugged. “Maybe a few more than that.”

    He narrowed his eyes at me. “What happened to the rest of them?”

    “Um…” 

    “Baxel.”

    I rolled my eyes. “Fine. Some of them are in hiding, some of them joined me, and some of them were… collateral damage.”

    Damian glared at me. “I thought you said you didn’t kill anyone since I left.”

    “I didn’t say I didn’t kill anyone. Just, like, not as many as you’d expect,” I hedged. “Besides, I didn’t kill all of them. That’s not to say that they didn’t die trying to defeat me. They’re not the same thing.”

    “Those are my friends, Baxel. Sounds like the same thing to me.”

    “Okay, okay,” I gave in, raising a hand. “You can chastise me later, but pretty soon your friends are going to be in danger. How long do you think it’d take Samyaza to get someone pregnant anyway?”

    There was a moment of silence. 

    “Yep. Nope,” I said, shaking my head. “Sorry. Neither of us want to think about that.”

    “That’s for sure,” Damian agreed. “We’ll just assume… not long? Or… maybe a long time? I really don’t know.”

    “Change of topic,” I said, snapping my fingers, then pointing at Damian. “What’d you see?”

    Damian replied, “Two of the human servants were talking to each other about the children. Did you see all the kids?”

    “Yeah. Weird.” 

    “Super weird,” Damian agreed, shoving his hands in his pockets. “They think they’re starting an army.”

    I nodded, expression grim. “An army of Nephilim.”

    “Yeah, I guess they grow, like, super fast.”

    “They stop around twenty years old looking,” I informed him. “But yeah. It’s not looking promising. And they’ve got the Nephilim wing protected with wards. We can’t go in there. Can’t even bomb it.”

    Damian’s lips drew into a frown. “They were also talking about this room; they called it la salle de la mort. The room of death.”

    I regarded him. “You know French?”

    “The GITS have a branch in France. It’s small, but they included it as an option in our curriculum,” Damian explained. “But that’s not important. You interrupted me before I could see what it was.”

    “You don’t want to,” I told him.

    Damian looked at me. “Why?”

    “Because all those kids? They all have mothers. And their mothers generally don’t survive the birthing process,” I said. “Trust me, it’s not pretty for someone with compassion or empathy or whatever they haven’t learned how to cure yet in you humans.”

    “We have to stop them,” Damian said urgently. “Before they kill more women.”

    “Stopping them is the plan, isn’t it?” I tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. “But first, you should be concerned about the GITS. We can’t storm the castle without an army behind us.”

    Damian’s eyes snapped to mine. “You want to work with the GITS.”

    I was staring out at the horizon. “Those angels are a force to be reckoned with. If we’re going to stop them, we’re not going to rush in just to save twenty women. We need a plan and we need to go in there with every single magical person we can get behind us. Especially since once those Nephilim are all mature, they’ll be like super humans. Killable, sure, but they’ll have light powers.” I looked over at him. “If we’re going to have a shot at this, the sooner the better. Once they get those kids trained, they’ll be formidable soldiers.”

    I hadn’t felt this serious in a long time, and I got the sense that it came across in my voice. Damian didn’t argue with me. 

    “There’s one other thing,” Damian said. “They said something else that I didn’t quite catch all of. It’s been a while since I studied French,” he excused. 

    “What is it?” 

    “I think one of the older Nephilim escaped,” Damian replied, a little uncertain, but sure enough to bring it up. “I think some of the angels are hunting for them.”

    I perked up. “That’s perfect. If we find them first, maybe we can convince them to join us, act as a double agent, destroy them from within. Or, at the very least, we can lay a trap for the ones chasing them.”

    Damian agreed. “Alright, so what’s the plan?”

    I mused for a moment before replying, “You go warn the GITS and help them prepare for a fight just in case. I’ll look for this Nephilim; they’re only human, after all. I doubt they got too far.” Damian nodded as I continued, “Then when Samyaza shows up at the GITS, call me. Or send a shadow message, but calling would honestly be faster. I’ll come help.”

    “Okay,” Damian said, letting out a breath he’d been holding. “I guess it’s time for me to go home, huh?”

    I clapped him on the shoulder. “You got this.”

    “A demon is giving me encouragement,” Damian muttered, half to himself. “Past me would be so confused by this.”

    I grinned. “Got to admit, your life is more interesting now, isn’t it?”

    “Interesting,” Damian contemplated. “Not sure if that’s the word.”

    I stepped back to give him room to drop into the Nether. “Call me,” I reminded him.

    Damian quirked a smile. “Another one to tell past me.” He drew the shadows around him and was gone.

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