Light’s Out, by Michael Bilderback

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“I think the red of the sunset is what makes that demon summoning circle so creepy”, said James Wong.

James was a short, balding Asian man of indeterminate middle age with plain features. Despite being excommunicated, he still wore the black slacks and black Oxford shirt of a priest. The collar simply hung open, showing off a colorful tattoo around his throat that mimicked a torc of Celtic tradition.

“Sunset? Really?”, said Greg. “I would have thought the fact that it had drained a major city entirely of electricity which has the entire police force tied up in other concerns.”

Greg was the opposite from his friend as they crouched on a hilltop overlooking the park. Powerfully built, Greg stood impressively tall and vital. He wore loose black clothing as well, but of a military cut. The only thing that linked the two was that Greg had a nearly identical tattoo on his throat as well. The city around them darkened rapidly in the twilight gloom. The city had been without power for hours now. The park on the outskirts of town in the best circumstances now housed a circle of enormous size in lieu of its normal soccer field. 4 couples laid within the rings of the circle, giving life energy to the construct with depraved sexual acts.

“Mmmmm, point. So who’s it calling anyway? I’ve never read about one this huge.”

“4 rings, 8 summoners, 200 ft across. This has got to be a Demon Prince. No one has ever tried to get one of them before.”

“A Prince! Lord preserve us! Is that why there is a second set of runes are hanging in the air like that?”

“Yes, and the circle I think. Steel cabling shaped into runes and held by steel plates. These guys are serious. It must have taken trucks to get those plates here. Serious time to make them and muscle to set them up. Look at how the existing cables were guided into place once they severed the overhead lines.”

“And then they left? Abandoning their friends?”

“These people are sacrificing themselves. Princes aren’t like normal Demons. They only have physical form when they arrive on our plane. After that, they assume the form of the energy that summoned them. So they need material to manifest into when they do. Those people are dying gloriously for their cause.”

“Damn Demon Fundamentalists! Alright, so if we take the life from the circle, it stops summoning. You got a rifle in that truck of yours like a good American?”

James started to crawl back down the hill, staying on his belly.

“We’re not going to do it that way”, said Greg

James stopped and looked at Greg in horror.

“You cannot be serious.”

“When will we get another chance at this?”

James hurried back to Greg’s side.

“Hopefully never, you idiot! You can’t hope to contain energy like that! Do you any idea what devouring a part of that being will do to you? This isn’t some incubus or Legion Demon. This is a Prince!”

“I know, James. I’m sorry. I have to try.”

“You’re sorry?! For…”

Greg’s form blurred in motion, his arm moving with inhuman grace and speed. His open hand hit James on the temple. James’s head rebounded off the ground and his eyes rolled back into unconsciousness.

“Gods protect you, old friend”, said Greg and he waited for the Demon Prince to take shape.

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Anger, by Michael Bilderback

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Pain throbbed through Byron with every breath. The ache of old bruises blended into the agony of fresh welts. Ragged breaths made his body tremble. His waster trembled in a shaky grip. Sweat had pasted his tunic to his chest like a skin. In contrast, the Maestro was still, sword and buckler poised in casual grace.

“Again”, Maethius Maestro intoned.

The maestro’s wooden blade began to move through the beginnings of the drill of the day. With deceptive speed, the waster cut the air lazily while Byron and Maethius stepped in rehearsed steps. All Byron needed to do was score a hit on the maestro and this pain would end for today.

The drill be damned!, thought Byron. Instead of dipping his sword into The Fool, Byron pushed his waster into The Wheel, knocking Maethius’ blade away. Byron wasted no time and stepped into a half lunge, waster thrusting at Maethius’ body.

The Maestro reacted with the skill of a sword master. He rolled with the thrust and wrapped his buckler arm around both of Byron’s arms. Maethius made a quick snap of his arms and calmly broke Byron’s right elbow.

The old aches went unnoticed in the wake of this new injury. The feeling was awful. His arm below the elbow hung limp, the waster falling out of his hand. There was no sensation there either. Nothing…yet the joint itself cried in agony.

Maethius released Byron’s arms. Byron sank to his knees, cradling his useless arm. Tears burned down his cheeks, gasp of pain racked his body.

“I will see you flogged for this!”, said Byron. “No House will have you when I am through with you!”

Maethius turned and loomed over Byron.

“I think Elizabeth Reina will see this as an object lesson in failure. One, you failed the assigned drill utterly. Two, you failed even to win when you changed the conditions. And three, you have failed to make me remotely concerned with your surprise.”

“Now, see if you can make it Zoya Voodez without failing that as well.”

Maethius heaved his waster and buckler into the far corner of the salle and stalked away. When the Maestro reached the door, he turned his head once last time.

“You may leave for the healer after you have seen to the equipment or I will see you flogged, you insolent whelp.”

Welcoming Michael Bilderback

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My friend, Michael Bilderback, also known as GuyRand, has decided to join me in Promptly Writing.