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?


33. Chapter 32

Author's Note: This chapter isn't for the squeamish. 


July 20th, 2017
1:02 AM

The Vicars did not see the hellhounds coming. Only felt them, the wind that rushed past them with each of their violent passes through the doors around them. They saw glimpses of them. Eyes that they traced, that looked like lines of blue and yellow across the black void of the building walls. 

They saw their fur like wild weeds growing into tangles of black knots. Dion shot out at a hallway. The bullet raced down, illuminating the area and eventually coming out a wall and into the abandoned building neighboring them. He hit nothing. They saw everything. Jagged teeth, snouts so elongated as to look like whips or tusks. They were deformed, awkward, drooping. Diseased hellhounds. With long, flat faces. Wide too, especially as they turned and tried napping at the two. Apollo stared inside their mouths and saw nothing. A void.

“We’re going to get cornered.” Dion said.

“We already are.” Apollo spat. His blade was resting on the wall he had just finished crushing. It was atop the pile of rubble.

“We need to move.” Dion kept his body low. He was breathing hard behind his mask, the fumes came from underneath his jawline.

“On my count.” Apollo said. 

"One." He looked around him. No exits near him, the doors were too far and there were three dogs in between them all. 

"Two." His eyes raced. He felt the wall with his sword. Like a walking stick, hearing for the low tap of wood. For any fragile walls. 

“Three.” He shouted. The three dogs rushed at him, north, west, east. Apollo rose his blade to the south and let it fall, down. The floor exploded. The rotten wood and pipe fell burned, smoldered, melting around Apollo and Dion who sank further down. They were in the cafeteria, atop the tables and chairs now dented or lying injured, arms broken around their fallen bodies. 

“Did you get ‘em?” Dion said. He was digging out wood from his legs.

Apollo said nothing. He tried to stand quickly. He couldn’t. The dogs were coming down, from the red, smoldering ring. Like fish in the lake of fire, jumping, flapping around. 

But they bit. They bit hard.    

The first thing eaten was Apollo’s hand. The jaw dug deep into his bone, into the veins that gushed violently, into the marrow slurped and sucked and dried. Then it climbed up. His forearm was gnawed it, it was meatier. More satisfying. And only when his flesh lay in ribbons in the air like some gory wind chime with its whistling tune did Apollo finally strike back. His sword lay on the floor, his only other arm was swinging strong. His fist was in the shape of a hammer as he brought it down on of the four-eyed great dogs. He dug deep into the furred darkness, he ripped hair out. He looked at its flesh, a cloudy mixture of gray and black. They were dead animals, demons, that much was sure. Apollo stopped punching. All four eyes looked at him and they bit harder into his arm. He couldn’t help but moan. It seemed to call the second animal. This one looked hungrier, he aimed at Apollo’s rear.

A bullet shot it down. The second dog spun in the air from in the impact, a ballet toss, and collapsed. It whimpered. One of its legs flew away. Dion smiled for a moment. Apollo struggled with the parasite on his arm. Then they both stared in awe as the leg regrew, as the dog mounted itself again.

“Don’t just stare in awe.” Apollo screamed. His voice was strained, high pitched. “Watch out for the third.” 

He grabbed the beast with his only free arm and swung it down. Both Apollo and the monster fell, he slammed it harder again. It let at last, pinched between a punch and the wall, its mouth opened and Apollo retreated his arm. He stared at it, his face looked dull. It was different. White and red all across, he couldn’t tell what it was. Splintered, eviscerated. He screamed, at last. Apollo held his shoulder, it was the only thing that wasn’t hurting. 

Oh, his arm was terrible. How it drooped on his side, lame and dead, and how it made him stand lopsided. He could not bear to look at it. He stood, his eyes focused. They were attentive. His body tried healing it, what little it could and the smoke rose up between him and the animal. 

Apollo reached with his left to the sword fallen near him. He walked or rather the dog let him walk. He put his sword back inside that insignia in his jacket and there, dropped the jacket as well. He ripped something from it, black cloth from the suit. Cloth he held, cloth he wielded inside of his blade. And then he faced the animal. Handicapped.

They were both low, both primed and high-shouldered. They were breathing and sniffing the air and running around each other in their private dance.

The dog flew out. Like an arrow camouflaged in the darkness. Apollo moved forward and in the middle of its trajectory shot his only good hand out. It broke the beast's teeth and the shrapnel shot out. It cut his cheeks and left him with a Glasgow sneer. And his arm was inside the mouth of the beast, his only good arm. He wiggled, he scratched the inside of the beast mouth and felt his arm beginning to hurt and stab. The weight dragged him down and the hound pulled, hoping to leave him armless. 

Apollo smiled. He bent his knee. He rubbed something in his hands, inside the steam and wet flesh of the hound's mouth. It was the very cloth of his jacket, sticky and damp. It was a special piece of his make. The only piece that mattered, the arcane symbol. He rubbed the embroidery of the design and his hand slipped in. Deep inside he thrust his arm and deep inside he removed the blade from its small scabbard. It was the magicians trick, the pull of the rabbit out of the hat. And he would pull it all out.

The beast growled. Then expanded as if to vomit. Apollo smiled, he kept dragging the blade out of the arcane symbol. it was too late for the hound to spit by then. It exploded. Too small to eat arm and blade. It was just too full. 

The dog cried out. It rained. The lower half was scattered about, the mouth, the face just stared off and away from Apollo, all eyes looking at each corner of the earth, a cross-sighted death. Its grip became limp as the muscles eased and Apollo dragged himself out. His own arms fell as well. He could not move them, he only looked at what was left of the hound. His eyes were heavy and the sounds of violence and of Dion’s struggle were low behind him like a shout in an empty tunnel, fading away.

Apollo shook his head. He looked deeper into the body of the monster, he found the glow of the philosophers stone and rubbed his mask upward with the knob of bone hanging barely on his wrist. His mouth salivated, his chin felt cold in the open air. 

Apollo reached down and dunked his head into the body of the animal. A carnival game, he almost laughed at the thought. He was bobbing for apples. And it wasn't difficult, there wasn't much left. He rubbed his mouth past some organs, past the stringy flesh and muscle, past the ropes of guts. 

He found the gem, the sweet fruit and swallowed it whole. His arms returned to him, muscles regenerating first, then skin. Barely healed, barely moving. But there, at least.

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