Heathens

Apollo and Dion, a dysfunctional rag-tag pair of demon hunters have been sent to investigate the city of Havenbrook and its inhabitants.

The mission is simple: to find the cultists responsible for a recent string of murders and to bring them to justice. Even if it takes killing dozens of demons on the way there.

But things are never that simple when you deal with the dark arts. Cultists, demon pacts, sacrificial murders all stand in the demon hunters' way as they search for the truth. A truth that will force them to question their own identities, a truth about the absolute evil lurking beyond heaven and earth. The question is, if they find the truth, will they be strong enough to handle it?

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23. 7:45 AM

Apollo came to the front door and knocked four times before he realized no one was there. He sighed and fixed the cough mask the covered his mouth and nose, he still looked like a terror. He felt like one as he began to shove his shoulder into the door, wondering what tension would make it break. He was about to remove the knob before he smelled Dion. It was like a dung heap, creeping up on him across the hallway that seemed cluttered with the ghastly smell in the air. There were curious faces that showed their eyes, they took a whiff and they ran back inside.

“I forgot my key.” Apollo said. 

“You look tired.” Dion said. “I thought you said part of being a Vicar was not standing out?”

Apollo lifted his coat and showed him the bullet holes across his abdomen, where the blood had dried and where the scars protruded. The lead was still inside of him and moving to his desk in the room, sitting down, seemed to shake them and grate against his rib cage. 

“Please tell me you killed it and that you’ve got the stone.” Apollo said. Dion lifted the red rock from his coat, he threw it and Apollo ground it in his hand. He lifted his mask and show him the image, Dion looked disgusted, it was bizarre staring at such an injured man and it made him feel guilty. 

If only I had dodged. 

“I didn’t ask you to help me.” He mumbled. He was surprised the words had come out, something moved him to say it, like a second soul inside of him. 

“If I didn’t you would have gotten your head cut off.”

“I won’t apologize for what happened to you. You should have just acted like you always do, alone, calm. Collected. You had no right.” Dion said.

“I had no right to save you? Do you think I care about you?” Apollo shoveled the powder into his mouth. It tasted like candy, coating his tongue and fizzing, melting into him. “You’re church property. I was just protecting an investment. I understood the risk and I thought that me getting injured was a better alternative to you getting your head cut off.”

“Well don’t next time. You’re not my mother. So stop with your patronizing.” 

“Did I hurt your pride? Let me kiss your booboo, sweetheart.” Apollo mocked. His voice was high and it made Dion reach over, with anger in his fists, to remind him that he too was a man. He was about to swing before the door opened. 

“Another one.” Apollo rolled his eyes. He leaned back into his chair and kicked his shoes off, it felt like steam escaped him and he was only gathering the smell. He reached for his nose and fixed a bone in place.

“It never heals right.” He said to the crack of his face. 

“Did you think I wouldn’t read the news.” The Priest was screaming. He held the paper in his hand and waved it like a town crier. Here ye, here ye. Dion was trying to grab it but his hands flailed around and the Priest threw it on the table across from Apollo. He grabbed it and looked it over. 

“They almost got a picture of my pretty face.” He said. He felt his skin and watched it recede from a purple, burned and sickly color back to his tone of brown. Though lighter, less tanned. 

“You destroyed a helicopter. You destroyed a couple thousand in property damage. Roads will need to be rebuilt, fences will need to be re-stood.” The Priest was drooling. His dog face was drooping and his eyes would not blink. “It’s anarchy out there and you’re adding to it.” 

“A couple thousand seems like a better number than last time. It was just a couple scratches, some small infrastructure work.” Dion said. His head was low in reverence to the rabid holy man. 

Apollo touched his stomach. The bullets were coming out and falling on the floor. 

“We killed it.” Apollo said.

“I did.” Dion corrected.

“You’re right, I just got my face stabbed.” Apollo said. “The point is it’s dead. What’s the big deal?”

“You couldn’t have done it a little cleaner?” The Priest was slapping the back of his hand. There was no deal to broker though. 

“Nothing is ever clean with hellspawn. Maybe you should do it yourself if you want it done better. Assuming you have the balls to pick up the sword in the first place.” Apollo picked up one of the shells and laid it out in front of them all. The Priest slammed his hands on the table and watched the casing fall off.

“I’m your boss. Don’t you forget it. When I tell you to do something, you do it.” He said. He took his hands off it, he backtracked and touched the wall and looked at them both. They could barely look at him, only passed a glance before straying their vision away. 

“Are you getting closer to these freaks, at least.” The Priest said.

“Yeah. I have a name for a drug supplier that might have a connection to them.” Apollo said. 

“You dragged me all night for a name?” Dion asked.

“You seemed to have enjoyed yourself.” Apollo said.

“This guy doesn’t even know what the heck is going on?” The Priest rose and dropped his hands. “Maybe you should act, you know, like more of a partner.”  

“Another one with the fucking hecks. Is that hard to curse?” Apollo stood and threw his coat to his bedside. He walked over and laid himself on the mattress. His eyes were beginning to fall and he couldn’t help but feel wanting of another nap. 

“Whoever is doing this mess is an amateur.” Apollo rolled around. “He’s not really summoning demons, more so, personifications of demons. Very shallow stuff.”

“What do you mean personifications.” 

“I mean to say, they’re like puppets. He thinks the idea of one of the demons but doesn’t really call upon him. For example, the first thing we killed.”

“The bird.” Dion shouted, as if in a game show with the buzzard ringing off to his joy.

“Yes Dion, the big bird. That was a very simple rendition of Amon, one of the lords in the second layer of hell. Of course, it wasn’t actually Amon, more like the idea of Amon.” Apollo traced fingers into a sky, imagining the incantation that must have taken place. “Yesterday’s monstrosity took the shape of Bael, or at least, what we think of Bael. Lord of the third circle.”

“Why doesn’t he just conjure up the real things then?” The Priest asked.

“Because you can’t just conjure up princes and nobles and lords, they’re stuck in hell for a reason. For someone to undo the chains of God would require a godly power. That's equivalent exchange. For that reason, it’s very hard getting a real, tangible prince or noble up here on. Demons usually appear as shades, ghosts, as animals or illusions. They're more interested in haunting, pushing people. They’re rarely ever tangible and if they are, they usually aren’t very strong.” He said.

“Listen, I’m glad for your demonology lecture. But this only affirms one thing: you need to do your job better.” The Priest went off. 

“I’m putting the squeeze on them. It doesn’t matter why this person is doing it, who he’s doing it for, he’ll be fucked in a couple days.” Apollo yawned.

“You could speed it up if you got off your ass.” The Priest tapped on Dion. “Convince your partner to stop being lazy. Sloth is a sin, after all.”

“There’s no convincing him. He’s a dog. A stubborn dog.”

“Part of catching a criminal is giving him room to breathe and you do want to catch the right criminal, right?” Apollo asked.

The Priest nodded and rubbed his scalp. He looked around the room and the mess of clothes and papers scattered about with important, giant red circles over them. He looked at the map and the threads and pins that wrapped around the city and it made his head spin. He felt anger for his powerlessness, his inability to understand and remembering last nights face only made his feelings worse. The idea that people were suffering, the idea that they bled and died underneath what he felt was his city made him yank his hair. In the end, he took a deep breath of air. 

“By the way.” Apollo started. “How’d you know there would be a demon last night? You of all people.”

“Someone gave me a heads up.”

“Did you bother to get his name? Address? License plate?” Apollo rubbed his chin.

“No.”

“Right. Well, I’m going to sleep.”

“And if you’re going to sleep, then I’ll pick up after your slack.” Dion said. “I need to make the city safer since you won’t.” 

Apollo began to laugh. “Go ahead superman, just don’t cause any trouble.”

“Not any more than you would.” Dion said. The Priest exhausted his anger, felt something underneath his flesh that just disappeared into the environment like heat or energy. He could not move them, they were stones and he was too weak to push them on the incline. He felt like some Egyptian slave, empress-less, just pushing and moving and getting crushed. How could they not feel urgency? How could they not pity the weak? 

He sighed. He scratched his head and the spot where his hair used to be. He let the small gray threads fall to the floor. They looked like broken cobwebs. 

“Take some showers at least, you both smell terrible.” He said. And he was gone, getting ready for the new day. 

 

Author's Note: A little exposition heavy, I know. I'll trickle it down a bit better from here on out. Also, we're done with episode 2! Episode 3 starts Wednesday. And yes, it gets worse. For literally everyone. Some folks are ganna have to start dying, sorry! It won't be as bad as GRR Martin, I promise. I think. I hope. Maybe?

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