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 Post subject: The Cole Chronicles (Rating: K)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:55 am 
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CHARMED
"The Cole Chronicles"
by J. B. Tilton and Teri Thibeault
email: noazmale@isot.com evilgidget_2000@yahoo.com
Rating: K

Disclaimer: “Charmed” and all related characters and events are the property of the WB television network, except for those characters specifically created for this story. This is a work of fan fiction and no infringement of copyright is intended.

* * *

(Authors note: ) This story is actually a compilation of some of the various stories I wrote concerning the background of Cole Turner, a.k.a. Belthazor.

* * *

Now, for the first time, the life and exploits of Cole Turner, a.k.a. the demon Belthazor, that were never shown on Charmed are revealed to the world.

* * *

ONE

A female demon scurried through the caverns of the underworld. She clutched a bundle close to her breast as if at any moment someone might snatch it away. She stopped at the entrance to a cavern that was flanked by two large, upper level demons

“I bring a gift for the Source,” she said hesitantly to the two demons.

The demons looked over the red female of their kind. The personal bodyguards of the Source of All evil took their positions very seriously. These two were tasked with making sure that no threat made it into the cavern where their master was.

“She is only a female,” said one demon. “She poses no threat.”

Grateful, the demoness hurried into the chamber beyond. The Source had just finished giving instructions to another demon. The demoness waited patiently. When the Source, finished he dismissed the demon. Then he turned to the demoness.

“Why do you bother me?” insisted the Source. “What use have I for a female?”

“I bring you a gift, my liege,” said the demoness.

She extended the bundle she was carrying and opened the blanket it was wrapped in. The Source looked down at a human child. His displeasure was clear on his face.

“Fool,” snapped the Source, “you bring me a human child? What use is a human child to me? Do not waste my time.”

“No, my lord,” said the demoness. “Not a human child. My son. He is only half human. But he is also half demon.”

“Almost as useless,” said the Source. “A half human child is of no more use to me than a full human child. Do you think this is the first half human half demon child? There have been many in the past. All have proven to be great disappointments.”

“This one will be different,” promised the demoness. “He will grow to great power. I shall infuse him with my own power. He will not be like those who have come before. He will be a great boon to you, my lord.”

“You are deluded,” said the Source. “Even those that have been beneficial have only been so marginally. How could this child be a boon to me where so many others have failed?”

“My lord,” said the demoness, “we have always had to insinuate ourselves into the mortal plane. We must invent our past, our history. And we must spend time getting the humans to accept us.”

‘This I know,” said the Source. “It is nothing new.”

“Imagine,” said the demoness, “a demon that does not have to do any of this. A demon who can walk among the humans as one of them. And because he is half human, he will understand them as most demons cannot.”

“Intriguing,” said the Source. “Still, most half human offspring possess little or no power. Or they choose the path of good. Even those who have not done so have always disappointed me. How is it this child will be different?”

“He will be different,” promised the demoness. “Most half human children have a human for a mother. My son is different. His father was human. I am his mother. That will cause his power to be greater.

“And I shall raise him for the cause of evil. He will learn the power of evil. I shall teach him to serve you as a loyal servant. He will learn that the pathetic skills and talents of the good are no match for the power which evil shall bring him.”

“Grand promises,” said the Source. “But that is all they are. Promises. Have you anything to bolster your claims other than your boisterous words and hollow promises?’

“My liege,” said a black woman standing in the entrance to the cavern.

“Seer,” said the Source, turning to the woman. “I did not summon you.”

“No, my liege,” said the Seer. “I have had a vision. A vision regarding this child.”

“Speak, then,” said the Source.

“The female speaks the truth,” said the Seer. “This child, though half human, shall be one of your most loyal followers. He shall grow to great power. And his name will become legendary in the underworld. Even demons will grow to fear him.”

“If you’ll not accept my words,” asked the demoness, “will you not accept the words of your own seer? Her visions are always true.”

“I know,” said the Source. “Very well. You may join those who rear our young. Raise this child in the ways of evil. And teach him to fear and obey only me.”

“My lord,” said the Seer. “If this child is to understand humanity, he must be raised as a human. To learn their ways and understand their motivations. If he were raised as any other demon, much of his usefulness to you would be wasted.”

“Perhaps you are right,” said the Source. “A child raised as a human would have insight into the humans which other demons would not possess. And which would be of great benefit to me in my plans.”

He turned to the demoness.

“You have my permission to raise the child as a human,” he said. “But I shall expect to see results soon. When the child is of age, you will bring him before me. So that he may show his allegiance and prove his loyalty to me.”

“As you wish, my lord,” said the demoness.

“Do not think me a fool,” said the Source. “If this child does not fulfill your promises to me, I shall vanquish him. And you shall join him.”

“He will,” promised the demoness.

“The child must have a name,” said the Seer.

“Demon offspring are always named by the father,” said the Source.

“My lord,” said the demoness, “his father is human. He knows little of our kind or our ways. He has given the child a human name already.”

“Perhaps,” said the Seer thoughtfully, “in this instance, an exception to tradition should be granted, my liege?”

“As always,” said the Source to the Seer, “you ask more than most consider acceptable for a female.”

“I serve only you, my lord,” said the Seer, bowing slightly. “I ask only for that which will best serve you.”

“Very well,” said the Source. He turned to the demoness again. “You may name your child. Think carefully on this name. If he is to serve me as you claim, he must have a name worthy of me.”

“Thank you, my lord,” said the demoness. “I have already chosen a name for him. If it pleases you, my liege, the child’s name shall be Belthazor.”


_________________
"One day we are going to look in our microscope and find outselves staring into God's eye. And the first one to blink is going to loose his testicles." - Peter O'Toole in "Creator"


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 Post subject: Re: The Cole Chronicles (Rating: K)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:02 pm 
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TWO

A female demon stood quietly in the large chamber. Her skin was a deep shade of red. Although her eyes appeared to be normal in most respects, their dull yellow color belied that. His hair was coal black and hung to her waist. Her teeth were sharp, jagged things that looked to be razor sharp.

Next to her, nearly cowering in her robes, was a small boy. He was about 8 years old and appeared to be human. His brown hair was immaculately combed and his blue eyes twinkled in the torchlight of the chamber. He glanced around furtively.

Suddenly a male demon entered the chamber. He was large; much larger than most demons. His coal black skin glistened in the torchlight and the fangs from his mouth were as white as pearls. The high pointed ears and cat-like eyes showed that there was no humanity in this creature. He glared down at the demoness and the small child.

“What business have you here, female?” demanded the demon. “And why do you bring a human child to this place?”

“The boy is my son,” said the female. “His name is Belthazor. He is of the appointed age. I have brought him here for his training.”

“Bah,” the demon spat out. “You waste my time, female. This is a place for demons, not weakling humans. You know what he must endure. He would not last a week. Take him from this place and return him to the humans where he belongs. We do not accept humans for training.”

“He is only half human. As I said, he is my son. He is also half demon. And he has the favor of the Source.”

“Take care, female. I know of this child. And you have the permission of the Source to train him. That is a far cry from having the favor of the Source. While the Source may have granted you permission to train the boy it is the mentor who decides which he will take as students.”

“You would defy the word of the Source?”

“Hold your tongue,” the demon snapped. “The Source knows of my loyalty. But as I have said, it is for the mentor to decide who the students shall be. And I refuse this student. His would not be training. His would be a slaughter. I will not waste my time with one who has no chance of surviving.”

“But the Source has granted permission for him to be trained. He will one day be a great demon in the service of the Source. He will need the best training if he is to accomplish that goal. If you will not train him who will?”

“I will take the boy.”

The three turned to see another demon standing in the entryway to the chamber. This demon was less impressive. He stood just under six feet tall and he was somewhat overweight. Like the first male demon this one also had high pointed ears and cat-like eyes.

But there was a softness to the eyes of this demon. And a seasoned wisdom that could only be garnered from centuries of living. The latter demon stood in the entryway showing no fear of the larger demon inside the chamber.

“Cartrack, what are you doing here?” demanded the first demon.

“I have come for a new pupil, Trailin. As you said, it is the choice of the mentor which students he teaches. I choose to teach this one.”

“Why would you soil yourself with one such as this?” asked Trailin. “He is human. You know as well as I do that no human could withstand the trials a demonic child must undergo. They are too frail. Too weak. He does not even appear in his demonic form as tradition dictates.”

“It is not his fault,” protested the female demon. “He is young. He still has trouble assuming his demonic form. This is not unusual even for demonic children. But he will surprise you. I have infused him with my own power which will be enhanced by that of his own.”

“Silence, female,” demanded the larger demons. “This is a matter for males.”

“It is her son,” said Cartrack. “Even demonic females will defend their young. She cannot be faulted for that. And she is correct. At the age of 8 years even many demonic children have trouble assuming their demonic form. But he will learn. In time.”

“If he lives that long. Human flesh is frail and withers easily. He would not survive long.”

“That is my concern. And my choice. I choose to train this young one. As I have chosen to train demonic children for countless centuries. And I have trained those of less than full demonic birth before. It would be nothing new for me.”

“And we all know how well that is working out,” Trailin spat out. “I understand that Greggson is less than a stellar pupil.”

“All children progress at their own rate, you are aware of that. Even many demonic children will often progress slower than others. Being half human Greggson would be expected to progress perhaps slower than a full demonic child.”

“Just as this half-breed bastard will,” said Trailin, looking down at Belthazor. “He will do no better than Greggson. And you will have wasted all that time training one who will be of little use to the Source.”

“It is my time to waste. And since it is my choice the discussion is ended. You have refused to train the child. I have accepted him. The matter is closed.”

“You are a fool, Cartrak.”

“No, Trailin, you are the fool. When you look at a child you see only the power that child may one day possess. The level to which that child may one day ascend. You have always been short-sighted in that respect.”

“And what else is there besides power?”

“Knowledge,” said Cartrack, looking down at the young boy. “The humans have a saying. ‘With knowledge comes power’. The boy is half human which means he possesses a soul just as any other human. And that will give him knowledge that no demon can possess.”

“You speak like a foolish old demoness, Cartrack. It is strength and power that rules the Underworld. Your foolish notions will not allow the human child to survive the training.”

“We shall see. Now, return to your domain. I must become acquainted with my newest pupil.”

Trailin just snarled and then turned and left the chamber. The demoness bowed slightly to Cartrack.

“He is a fine lad for half human,” said Cartrack. “There is a strength about him that most do not see. I shall hone that strength so that he may use it in the service of the Source.”

“Thank you, Master Cartrak,” said the demoness. “When Trailin refused to train Belthazor I feared no one would train him. I have promised the Source he will be a great servant to him. He will need that training if he is to fulfill my words.”

“Don’t be fooled. His training will not be easy. He will have to be twice as good as any other student if he is to be considered half their equal. His human half will be a detriment to him. And I will give him no preferential treatment despite my words to Trailin.

“I ask only that he be given the chance, Master. You will see. He will be twice as good as any student you have ever had.”

“We shall see. Now, you call him Belthazor. That is a demonic name. I assume that he also has a human name. What would be the human name for our young student?”

“His human name is. . .” began the demoness.

“No,” commanded Cartrack. “If he is to take his place among the hierarchy it will be necessary for him to speak for himself. Tell me, my young pupil. What is the name by which humans call you?”

“My. . .my human name is Coleridge,” said the young boy. “Coleridge Turner.”


_________________
"One day we are going to look in our microscope and find outselves staring into God's eye. And the first one to blink is going to loose his testicles." - Peter O'Toole in "Creator"


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 Post subject: Re: The Cole Chronicles (Rating: K)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:59 am 
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THREE

Cole hurried through the passageways of the Underworld heading for a large chamber just ahead. He was late again. Master Boran would not be pleased. He seemed to take great pleasure in tormenting the young half human. And he took every opportunity to do so. As Cole entered the chamber he was suddenly hit very hard across the face. He tumbled to the floor of the chamber, his lip cut and bleeding. As he looked up he saw Boran standing over him.

“Late again, half breed,” snarled Boran. “You just never seem to learn, do you? I’ve told you before. You’ll be on time like the rest of the students.”

“Master Boran,” said Cole, regaining his feet, “I was delayed. My mother wanted me to. . .”

Boran hit Cole again, knocking him to the floor of the chamber again.

“Hiding behind the skirts of a female? That is not in keeping with a true demon. A demon does not make excuses. Especially using a female for his excuses.”

“I only meant that,” began Cole.

“Shut up, insolent whelp,” said Boran, striking Cole again.

“Leave him alone,” shouted one of the other students. “There’s no call to be treating him like that.”

“So, you speak in his defense again, Greggson?” questioned Boran. “I should have guessed as much. Two of a kind. As the only half breeds here I suppose it’s only natural you two would stick together.” He reached out and struck Greggson knocking him to the ground next to Cole. “But I’ll not have your insolence any more than I would have his. Hold your tongue before I have it cut out.”

Greggson suddenly jumped to his feet and formed an energy ball. Without hesitation he hurled the energy ball at Boran, knocking the larger demon back several steps. As Boran fought to keep himself upright Greggson pulled an athame from his tunic.

“Let’s see how brave you are with your tongue cut out, demon.”

He launched himself at Boran but never reached the demon. As if from nowhere a huge hand reached out and knocked the athame from Greggson’s hand. A second later the hand struck the young half demon sending him flying across the room. Greggson looked up to see a large demon standing over him.

The demon was in its human form and appeared to be male. Standing just over six feet tall, he had brown hair and was clean-shaven. Light blue eyes shone clearly in the torchlight of the chamber as he glared at Greggson for a moment.

“Such insolence cannot be tolerated from an underling especially one so young,” said the demon. “Boran should have taught you better.”

“I have tried, my lord,” said Boran, joining the new demon to stand over Greggson. “His stubbornness is great. And he chooses every opportunity he can to test my patience. I promise you he will be severely punished for his insolence.”

“Baldasor,” gasped Cole, looking at the new demon.

“Silence, whelp,” snapped Boran. “You’ve shown enough insolence for one day. Hold your tongue before you join Greggson in his punishment.”

“No, Boran, it’s okay,” said Baldasor. “Young Cole and I are old friends. In a manner of speaking.”

“You know this young student, lord?”

“Of course. She who bore him also bore me. Young Cole has the dubious distinction of being my younger brother. My much younger brother. We had different fathers, of course. His father was human. My father was demon.”

“Forgive me, my lord,” said Boran bowing. “I did not know.”

“Nor should you have. That knowledge was kept from you so that you would not show him preferential treatment. If he is to be trained properly he must receive the same training as any young demonic initiate. Had you know it is possible you might have shown him some favor if even subconsciously.”

“I can assure you, my lord, that would not be the case.” Boran turned to the class. “Students, we have a singular honor this day. Baldasor is a member of the Brotherhood of the Thorn. And we are honored that he has deigned to honor us with his presence today. The Brotherhood of the Thorn has rarely visited us in the past.” He turned back to Baldasor. “If I may ask, my lord, what is the purpose of your visit today? Have you come to see how your brother is faring?”

“Not specifically,” said Baldasor, looking down at his younger sibling. “Raynor asked me to see about getting a couple of initiates who are near graduation. As you are aware we use them for some of the more mundane tasks in the Brotherhood quarters.”

“Of course, my lord,” said Boran. “I have two that will suit your needs perfectly. I will have them sent to you immediately.”

“Good, good,” said Baldasor. “So, tell me, how is my brother doing?”

“As well as can be expected,” replied Boran. “I mean no disrespect, my lord, but there is little to work with. His human half has proved to be a source of constant consternation.”

“Yes, he always was that way. Our mother has commented to me many times that his human half makes him weak. I’m afraid I am forced to agree with her. I’m afraid his human half will always be a weakness in him.”

“I’m not weak,” Cole said defiantly through clenched teeth.

“Oh, you are stronger than most humans, I’ll grant you that. Your demonic half makes you stronger than most humans. But you’ll never be a true demon because your father was a pathetic human.”

“Come on, then, demon,” Cole said, facing his brother, his hands clinched into fists. He glared at the bigger demon. “Let’s see what you’ve got. And I’ll show you I’m just as good as you are.”

Everyone, including Boran, stood watching in shock as this young ten-year-old half human boy faced the larger demon that was nearly 400 years older than he was. A demon that belonged to the most elite organization in the Underworld. Even Boran felt that Baldasor would strike down this insolent whelp, brother or not. Suddenly Baldasor broke out into a huge grin.

“You have the insolence of a demon,” he said. “And you have courage. The courage of a demon. But it takes more than that to be a true demon. It takes more than what you have, I’m afraid. Still, you may be of use to the Source.”

Baldasor turned to Boran.

“Have the initiates delivered as soon as they graduate. I shall tell Raynor to expect them.”

“As you wish, my lord,” replied Boran. “They will be sent immediately. Do you wish your brother punished for his insolence?”

Baldasor looked at Cole for a moment.

“No,” he said finally. “Courage should never be punished. And he is only 10, after all. Besides, there is something to be said for sibling rivalry. But he is to be treated no differently simply because we are related by blood. All demons must prove their worth. Even a half demon who will probably not amount to much. He must still prove his worth. Whatever that may be.”

“As you wish, my lord.”

Baldasor turned and headed from the chamber without another word. As he did, Boran turned to Cole.

“You’re lucky, this day, half breed,” he said. “Not even I would ignore the desires of a member of the Brotherhood of the Thorn and risk his wrath. If not for the words of Master Baldasor I would strip the hide from your back for your insolence to him. Brother or not you must learn to show respect to one of his status.”

“Yes, Master Boran.”

“Now,” said Boran, turning to Greggson. “Master Baldasor gave no such instructions for you. And I’ll show you what happens to initiates who defy me. You will regret the day your pathetic human mother ever bore you.”

He turned back to Cole.

“You are still required to complete all of your tasks this day, despite your brother’s visit. And once you have finished with them you will clean the entire chamber from top to bottom. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, Master Boran,” said Cole. “Quite clear.”

“Good,” said Boran. “Now, on to the days lessons. Today we will be learning the proper technique for casting a fireball.” He glanced at Greggson and Cole. “Or in some cases, an energy ball. It’s not as easy as you might think. And I expect that before the day is finished that you all learn how to do it properly.”

* * *

Cole walked into the chamber where he and his mother lived. As an initiate in Cartrack’s training school he was afforded quarters near the school. There were times when the students were surprised with lessons that had not been announced. As his teachers explained it, it would help them as adults to be prepared for the unexpected. As he walked into the chamber, sore from the day’s work, his mother met him at the entrance. Without ceremony she slapped him hard across the face.

“How many times have I told you not to dawdle after your days lessons?” she snarled. “You are to return to our chambers immediately. I’ve told you a hundred times.”

“I’m sorry, mother,” said Cole, rubbing his face where she had slapped him. “Master Boran had me remain late to clean the training chamber.”

“Clean the chamber?” his mother asked in shock. “He had you doing female’s work? What did you do to warrant such punishment and disgrace.”

Cole told her about Baldasor’s visit. And about their encounter. She just stared at him as he related every embarrassing moment.

“How could you?” she shrieked. “You’ve embarrassed not only yourself but me as well. If the Source should get word of what happened he may recant his permission to allow you to be trained. Your brother is an honored demon; a member of the Brotherhood of the Thorn. You will show him the respect he has earned.”

“He said I wasn’t a true demon,” Cole snapped. “He said I would never amount to anything.”

His mother slapped him again, this time harder than before.

“He may well be right,” she snapped. “I blame your father for this. His half of you makes you weak and insolent. You don’t know your place in the hierarchy. If they expel you from the training school no demon will choose you to apprentice with them. You’ll be relegated to being the minor underling of some unimportant demon. Is that what you want?”

“What I want,” said Cole, fighting back the tears from the pain he felt from her slaps, anger in his voice, “is to be treated like everyone else. They call me a half breed. And they treat me worse than any of the other students. All because of what my father was. It’s not my fault my father was human. But I don’t have the failings of a human.”

“You’ll show me respect while you’re in this chamber,” said his mother. “I planned a long time for this. It took me quite a while to find just the right human to be your father. As a female I have no hope of gaining any influence in the hierarchy. But you can do that. With your human half you understand humans as no demon can. And with my power infused in you then you should be much more powerful than a normal hybrid. One day you’ll take your place in the hierarchy. I expect that place to be sufficiently high enough so that other females will treat me with great respect. But you have to learn to act properly. Especially around someone as high up as Baldasor. Even if he is your half brother.”

“One day I’ll show you,” Cole said through clenched teeth. “I’ll show you all. One day I’ll be so powerful and important that demons will never dare mention my human heritage to my face. Or call me a half breed. You’ll see. One day I’ll be important. Maybe almost as important as Baldasor.”

“Go get cleaned up for dinner,” said his mother. “You still have your chores to do and you’re all ready late.”

Cole headed for the small chamber that were his quarters. He’d show them all. One day he was going to be someone in the Underworld. And maybe, just maybe, even Boran would respect him them.

_________________
"One day we are going to look in our microscope and find outselves staring into God's eye. And the first one to blink is going to loose his testicles." - Peter O'Toole in "Creator"


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 Post subject: Re: The Cole Chronicles (Rating: K)
PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2013 8:37 pm 
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FOUR

“Well,” said Cartrack, taking with Cole in the training chamber, “you’ll be graduating soon. Have you given any thought about requesting an apprenticeship with a specific demon?”

“Not really,” said the fifteen-year-old Cole. “I’ve just been concentrating on getting through the training. It hasn’t been easy. Boran still treats me like I’m sub-demon. Like I’m not as good as the rest. I’ve put up with everything he’s thrown at me and passed each time.”

“Well, that’s certainly true,” said Cartrack. “I’m very proud of you, Belthazor. You’ve done better than even I anticipated. But if you don’t request an apprenticeship then you’ll be stuck with whichever demon decides to take you.”

“What if I request an apprenticeship and the demon refuses? I’d be in the same boat I’m in now.”

“There is always that chance. But your chances of be accepted are much better if you make a formal request for apprenticeship. You don’t want to end up a low level messenger, do you? There’s no status in that. And very few messengers ever rise above that position.”

“I know. I’m just not sure what I want to do. There are any number of positions I’d like. The problem is that most of the demons in those positions don’t even speak to me when I pass them in the passageways. I hardly think they’d be open to taking me on as their apprentice.”

“You don’t know until you ask, my young friend. Besides, it’s very possible they are busy with their plans. You’re hardly important enough for them to be concerned with. And I don’t mean because of your human half, either. You’re an initiate. Most mainstream demons don’t concern themselves with initiates at all.”

“Maybe,” said Cole. “But I still have a few days. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get lucky and the Triad will need an apprentice.”

“That’s hardly likely. The Triad only selects seasoned demons for their needs. They are unlikely to request an initiate for any reason. In all the time I’ve been training young demons they have never requested an initiate for anything.”

“Everyone has to have a dream. Maybe you could put in a good word with me with some high level demon. Get him to select me as his apprentice.”

“Belthazor, I like you. You’re one of the best students I’ve ever had. And one of my favorites. But I make it a rule never to involve myself in the apprenticeship procedure. If I were to put in a good word with a high level demon and he should follow my recommendation than I’d be obligated to him. It would be difficult for me to run a fair and objective training center if a demon should be calling in favors from me.”

“I guess you’re right. Do you have any suggestions about who I might approach about an apprenticeship?”

“Well, Beelzbor is always looking for good apprentices. And LaTarrin regularly chooses students from my training center. Of course, he normally selects them for menial tasks. Not much chance for advancement with him.”

“Half breed,” shouted Boran, entering the chamber. “What are you doing in here, half breed? I told you to meet me in one of the upper chambers ten minutes ago. There’s still the little matter of your shimmer evasion. You don’t graduate until you learn at least the basics of avoiding being traced through your shimmer.”

Without warning Cole suddenly turned and struck Boran across the face with the back of his hand. Boran was taken by surprise and lost his footing, falling to the floor of the chamber. As he looked up at Cole, Cole formed an energy ball and stood over the demon.

“Boran, I’ve put up with you for the past seven years. In all that time I’ve take every form of abuse you could think of. I’ve suffered concussions, broken bones, lacerations, burns and just about every other type of injury you could muster. And I did it all without crying or complaining. I think I’ve demonstrated that I can avoid being followed through my shimmer. I’ll graduate in a few days with or without your stupid training. And if you call me half breed one more time I just might decide to pay you back for all the abuse you’ve put me through.”

“Initiates don’t talk to their trainers like that,” said Boran, standing up, fear in his eyes for the first time Cole had known him. “Until you graduate you’re still an initiate and you’ll show me the respect I deserve.”

“Except I’m now 15,” replied Cole. “According to Underworld law and tradition, that makes me an adult. And I expect the same respect you demand. Just as any adult would.”

Boran looked at Cole for a moment. He seemed to relax some.

“Very well,” he said finally. “Since you will graduate in a few days I suppose a little respect is in order. And you have performed well during your stay here. But I do insist that you complete the shimmer evasion test. So there will be no doubt about your ability to avoid detection. Cartrack does not graduate any student who has not successfully completed all phases of their training. And I do not expect you to be the first.”

“Belthazor,” said Cole.

“What?”

“Belthazor. That’s my name. Or you can call me by my human name, Cole. In all the time I’ve been here I can count on one hand the number of times you’ve called me by name instead of half breed. I’ll complete your stupid test. But I insist you call me by my given names.”

“Very well, Belthazor,” said Boran smiling slightly. “Wait for me in the test chamber. This shouldn’t take long. I’ll be right there.”

Cole extinguished his energy ball and said good-bye to Cartrack. Then he left the chamber and headed for the test chamber to wait for Boran.

“I must say I never expected him to attack me as he did,” said Boran. “It was somewhat refreshing actually. In many ways he’s been the perfect student. I was beginning to think he never would stand up for himself.”

“He has been a bit slow in that respect,” said Cartrack. “Still, he did stand up to you finally. I think he’s finally ready for graduation. You know he’ll pass your test with no problem. He has yet to fail even a single test.”

“True. I suppose I should get up there. Wouldn’t want to keep him waiting.”

“Oh, and Boran. No more half breed. I believe he’s earned the right to be called by whatever name he chooses.”

“Agreed. Okay. I won’t refer to him as half breed any more. But there will probably be those who will always refer to him that way. Being half human is not something he’s likely to ever live down.”

“He may surprise you. Only time will tell. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Boran left the chamber and headed for the test chamber to give Cole his final test.


_________________
"One day we are going to look in our microscope and find outselves staring into God's eye. And the first one to blink is going to loose his testicles." - Peter O'Toole in "Creator"


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 Post subject: Re: The Cole Chronicles (Rating: K)
PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 1:17 pm 
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FIVE

Cole stood in the chamber with 12 other initiates. It was graduation day at Cartrack’s and these 13 students had finally passed all the requisite tests. Cole couldn’t help but think about Lawrence Greggson. After his little encounter with Boran he had suddenly left the Underworld. He would have graduated a couple of years earlier than Cole but they had become good friends. As the only two half humans they had naturally become good friends.

Cartrack was there, of course. So was Boran. As the primary trainers for the students both insisted at being at each graduation. Many of the parents of the students were also there. And, of course, Cole’s mother was there as well. This was an important day for the students. Depending on which demon of the hierarchy chose them to apprentice with it could well determine their permanent status in the Underworld.

Cole still had not chosen what area of the Underworld he wanted to join. There were many options open to young demons. Except that he was no ordinary demon. He knew that being half human many high level demons would discount him out of hand. More than one was openly hostile to him even now. He had decided that, rather than cause any disgrace for his mother by being refused apprenticeship, he would wait to see who would choose him.

On the opposite side of the chamber stood several male demons. These would be the ones looking for new apprentices. Or rather they would be the representatives of the demons looking for new apprentices. High level demons rarely performed this function themselves. They usually had one of their lieutenants handle such matters.

At present there were six demons waiting to select new initiates. Of the 13 students, 7 had all ready been accepted as apprentices for specific demons. They would be going to their new homes once Cartrack released them. Two of the students didn’t need to petition any demon for apprenticeship. Because of their status at birth it was all ready decided which demons they would be serving. Which meant that left only Cole and 3 other students to be selected for apprenticeship. Four students and six prospective new masters. The odds were good that at least one of them would choose him, his human heritage notwithstanding.

Each of the demons had all ready spoken with Cartrack and Boran in great detail before the graduation. They had learned about the students time at the training center and how they had progressed. They also learned about the strengths and weaknesses of each student. Presumably they had returned to their masters to discuss which of the students was best suited for their needs. Now it was time for the students to graduate and be selected for apprenticeship.

The ceremony, such as it was, began without any formality or preamble. Cartrack simply walked up to each student, congratulated them on successfully passing the requirements, and wished them the best in the future. Boran followed doing the same thing. He even treated Cole as any of the other students and not with the disdain he had shown for most of the last 7 years. Then he dismissed the 7 students who had all ready been accepted as apprentices. Those students left the chamber with their parents in tow to begin their new lives.

That left only Cole, Cartrack, Boran, the three other students, and the six demons. One by one Cartrack introduced a student and offered him for apprenticeship. The ritual was fairly straight forward. Any demon that was interested in the initiate would step forward. In the case that more than one was interested, Cartrack would negotiate with the two. Whichever demon offered the highest “payment” for the initiate won that initiate. If only one demon expressed an interest, he paid Cartrack the requisite fee for the student’s “training” and left with the initiate to begin his new life.

One by one the other initiates stepped forward. The first initiate had two demons vying for him. Although not of as high a birth as some he was high enough that he warranted ”special” treatment. The next two each had three demons vying for them. When all was said and done the three initiates were “graduated” and then left to go meet their new masters. Only Cole and three of the demons now waited in the chamber. Cole stood nervously waiting to see which of the demons would be interested in him.

“And now,” said Cartrack, putting his hand on Cole’s shoulder, “I present to you, Belthazor. As I’ve all ready told you he has been one of my finest students. He passed each of his tests admirably. And it goes without saying that he’s fully trained or he wouldn’t be here today. He will be a fine apprentice to any demon willing to train him.”

“He’s human,” spat out one of the demons.

“Half human, yes,” said Cartrack. “But I will tell you that has been little detriment in his training. He has handled himself just as any fully demonic child would have.”

Cole had to fight the urge to speak up in his own defense. The protocols for “graduation” were very strict. The initiates had to remain completely silent unless they were spoken to by one of the prospective buyers. If they spoke out of turn it was considered a great disgrace and none of the demons would show any interest in them. The initiates had to demonstrate their ability to obey which was a prime requisite in the Underworld.

“Little detriment,” spoke up a second demon. “That means there was some detriment. It does not speak well for him.”

“I meant it was nothing out of the ordinary,” said Cartrack. “As I’m sure you’re well aware most demon children have some trouble during training. As I recall you yourself had more than your fair share.”

“This is not about me,” snapped the demon. “Beelzbor is expecting a fully trained, compliant apprentice. And being half human was not part of the deal. If I brought a half breed bastard back as an apprentice Beelzbor would likely have me vanquished for such stupidity.”

Cole bit his lip. As an adult in demon society he was expected to be afforded a certain amount of respect. But he was still considered an initiate. At least until he was selected for apprenticeship. If he spoke up now he would disgrace not only himself but his mother as well. And he knew full well what that disgrace would bring him.

“He performed as well as any of my students, past or present,” said Cartrack, some anger in his voice. “And better than most. And I’ll remind you that until he has been chosen for apprenticeship he still belongs to me. I’ll thank you to hold your tongue with such insults until – and unless – he becomes your property.”

“Bah,” the demons snorted. “I heard about your last half breed apprentice. Couldn’t hold a civil tongue in his head. And I have it on good authority that he actually attacked Boran before he left. It seems your word about the suitability of your students is somewhat questionable.”

“Plagin,” said Cartrack, stepping up to the demon, “I’ve trained more demons than any other trainer in the Underworld. And my word regarding the training of one of my initiates has never been in question. Even the Source himself has chosen an initiate on occasion. And I would remind you that I am more than simply a trainer, as you well know. If you won’t observe proper protocol then I won’t be offering any initiates to you. Go back and tell Beelzbor that.”

“If this half breed is all you have left,” said Plagin, “then you have nothing Beelzbor would be interested in anyway.”

Plagin turned and stormed out of the chamber, nearly running into another demon that had been standing in the doorway to the chamber for quite some time. The second demon didn’t say a word, simply stepped to one side to let Plagin pass.

“Plagin is right about one thing,” said a third demon. “The boy is half human. And we are all aware of the trouble a half human child can be. Why, their power is hardly worth the price they cost. Assuming he has powers at all.”

“Oh, he has powers,” said Boran. “He has a fair energy ball which I’m sure will improve as he grows older. And he can shimmer with the best of them. I, myself, had trouble tracking him during his final test. He would be a fine addition to the underlings for your master.”

“LaTarrin has much the same mind as Beelzbor,” said the demon. “Humans are our enemies. LaTarrin is not in the habit of taking the enemy into his domain.”

“He may be half human by birth,” said Cartrack, “but that is the only human thing about him. He’s completed each of his tests as well as any demon. And I can assure you that in all ways that matter he is demon.”

“So boy,” said the demon, stepping up to Cole, “I assume you can speak for yourself. What have you to say about Cartrack’s words? Are you demon or are you human?”

“It’s true my father was human,” said Cole. “But I cannot be held accountable for that any more than you could be held accountable for your parentage. But I have been raised demon. I have no love for humans. And I embrace my demonic heritage fully.”

“Well spoken,” said the first demon. “You speak with the arrogance and courage of a demon. But there is still the matter of your human heritage. Humans are unpredictable. They are known for betraying those they serve. How can I be sure you won’t betray your master at the first opportunity?”

“I have dedicated myself to being demon,” said Cole, glancing at his mother. “I will serve my master faithfully for as long as I live. I ask only for the chance to prove that I am a demon despite the accident of my birth.”

“He does speak as a demon,” said the first demon. “And I believe he means every word of it. Perhaps he would be a fine addition as an underling despite his heritage.”

“I have come for a new apprentice,” said the demon that had been standing at the doorway to the chamber silently the entire time. “And I believe this young boy is exactly what I’m looking for. I’ll take him.”

“Dailak?” questioned Cartrack. “You’re a mercenary. Mercenaries don’t take apprentices. Why would you be bidding on this young boy?”

“I was hired by another party,” said Dailak. “He wanted me to select a new apprentice for him. And I believe this boy is exactly what he is looking for. Since I am currently in service to the one I represent I am well within my rights to bid on the boy.”

“This is true,” said Cartrack. “It’s a bit unusual but not without precedent. I would ask however which demon has seen fit to hire a mercenary to represent him. To my knowledge all those who would be interested in a new apprentice have a lieutenant to represent them. Which one would find it necessary to hire you to represent him?”

“Not all demons have underlings,” said Dailak, smiling coyly. “There are one or two who have no permanent underlings. They require the services of someone like myself to represent them in selecting an initiate when the mood strikes them. But in answer to your question I have been hired to represent Isladec in this matter. He is the one in search of an apprentice.”

A hush fell over the chamber. It was clear that every demon in the chamber stood in awe of this Isladec. Everyone except Cole. He had never heard the name before and had no idea who he was.

“Who’s Isladec?” Cole said before he realized he had spoken.

Almost immediately he was sorry he had. He had spoken out of turn. He closed his eyes. That had done it. It was almost a foregone conclusion that this Dailak would now withdraw his interest in Cole. He had disgraced himself, his mother, and Master Cartrack.


_________________
"One day we are going to look in our microscope and find outselves staring into God's eye. And the first one to blink is going to loose his testicles." - Peter O'Toole in "Creator"


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 Post subject: Re: The Cole Chronicles (Rating: K)
PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:41 pm 
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SIX

Cole’s head dropped. Whoever this Isladec was he had offered to take Cole. The remaining two demons had expressed reservations about Cole and it was not guaranteed they would change their minds. Now he had gone and ruined the only chance he would ever have to become an apprentice to any demon.

“A fair question,” said Dailak. “I would not expect one so young to know of Isladec. In time you would have learned of him. Isladec is an ancient demon who lives on the lowest levels of the Underworld. He’s so old that not even he doesn’t know exactly how old he is. Long ago he withdrew from demonic society. He’s so powerful there are few who can even challenge him. Even the Source treads softly around him. You will learn a great deal under his tutelage.”

“Do you mean you are still interested in him?” Cartrack asked.

“Yes,” said Dailak. “As I said, he’s exactly what Isladec is looking for.”

“He spoke out of turn,” said the first demon. “He violated protocol. Tradition dictates that he is no longer considered proper for apprenticeship.”

“And which of you would like to explain to Isladec why he can’t have the apprentice he wishes?” Dailak asked.

No one spoke. There was fear in more than one demon’s eyes. They simply looked around staring at each other wondering who would be the first to speak.

“I didn’t think so,” said Dailak, smiling. “Isladec cares little for many of the so-called traditions of the Underworld. The boy has spirit. And being half human he has proven himself quite admirably considering Cartrack’s words about him. Besides, he will understand humans as few demons can. He’s one of them. He will better blend in with them. That can be a great asset in our line of work.”

“Dailak has a point,” said the second demon. “I had not thought of that. Perhaps my master would be interested in this young one. He may be useful at that.”

“You expressed reservations about the boy,” said Dailak.

“I have had a change of heart,” said the second demon. “I believe my master will take the boy.”

“Then it appears we have some haggling to do,” said the first demon. “My master, too, would be interested in someone with such an advantage to him. I believe I will bid on the young one as well.”

“You clearly don’t understand,” said Dailak. “I have all ready decided to take the boy. He is no long available.”

“Except that he is available until Cartrack says otherwise,” said the second demon. “I’ll pay twice the normal rate for the boy.”

“I’ll pay three times,” said the first demon. “I’ll not be outbid by the likes of you.”

“I can see this could take some time,” said Dailak. “Very well. Let me put an end to this right now. Bid whatever you wish for the boy. Isladec has authorized me to double whatever any others are willing to pay for the boy. Which means at this moment my bid on the boy stands at six times normal price.”

The two demons looked at each other and then both bowed their heads once to Dailak. Dailak just smiled and pulled a small bag from his waist. He handed it to Cartrack.

“Consider this a down payment,” he said. “I’ll deliver the rest later. Assuming the word of Isladec counts for something.”

“Of course,” said Cartrack, taking the bag. “Six times the normal price? I’ve only ever had one student who went for so much. He went for seven times normal price. But he was the son of a Source. And here I was worried there might be no bids on young Belthazor.”

“He’ll make a fine mercenary some day,” said Dailak. “He’ll get the very best training from Isladec. And I can tell you from personal experience once Isladec is finished there will be no better trained mercenary anywhere in the Underworld. Have him delivered to Isladec’s chambers.”

He looked at Cole and winked once. Then he turned and left the chamber without another word.

“Six times normal?” questioned Boran. “I can’t believe he brought so much. I would never have thought a half human would be worth so much. And from Isladec, no less. It’s been more than a hundred years since Isladec chose a new apprentice. I wonder what prompted him to buy this one?”

“As he said,” said Cole’s mother, “Belthazor will be able to better understand humans. And as a mercenary he’ll make a very good living.”

“That he will,” said Cartrack. “Assuming he survives his training with Isladec. Belthazor, you must prepare yourself. You thought the training here was tough? Isladec’s training is legendary. More than one demon has died training under Isladec. But Dailak is correct. You could receive no better training in the Underworld. There will be many that will envy you, my boy.”

“Don’t you worry, Cartrack,” said Cole. “I’ll survive. And I’ll become the best mercenary in the Underworld. One day even Baldasor will have to admit I’m a true demon. I’ll show him. I’ll show you all. One day no demon will dare call me a half breed to my face.”

“Mind you tongue, boy,” said Cole’s mother. “Show some respect to your teacher.”

“And you should mind your place, female,” Cole shot back. “I’m an adult now. And I’m an apprentice. Which means my days of cowering before you are over. I’m a male and you are a female. Being the demoness that bore me grants you no special favors even with me. So if you know what’s good for you you’ll treat me with the respect I’m due.”

“Yes, sir,” said Cole’s mother, bowing subserviently. “Forgive me. I meant no disrespect.”

“Now you are a demon,” said Cartrack. “Boran will show you where Isladec’s chambers are. Good luck to you, Belthazor. You will need it where you’re going.”

Cole followed Boran out of the chamber to the lowest levels of the Underworld. He had no idea what to expect but he was sure of one thing. One day the demons that belittled him and called him names would fear his very name.

* * *

Cole stood alone in the chamber where Boran had led him. It was farther down in the Underworld than Cole had ever been. The chambers were lavishly decorated. His mother had made sure to train him in many aspects of human society that she felt he would need. And many of the items he saw in this chamber would be considered very valuable antiques on the mortal plane.

Isladec was the only demon that lived on these lower levels. He shunned most demons and they were more than happy to shun him. His power was incredible and there were few demons that could stand against him. A noise brought his attention around behind him. As he turned the largest demon he had ever seen stepped out of the darkness.

The figure stood nearly seven feet tall, its' black skin glistening in the torchlight. A pair of horns sprouted from its' head and razor sharp teeth filled its' mouth. Its' cat-like eyes glowed with an eerie red light. The pointed ears had to strain little to pick out any sound in the mammoth cavern. Involuntarily Cole took a step backwards.

“Do I frighten you, young Belthazor?” questioned Isladec.

“Y. . .yes,” Cole stammered.

“That is good,” replied Isladec, smiling at the young boy. “You will learn that fear can be a potent weapon. It will keep you on your toes. It will help you to hone your sense to your advantage. But never let your fear rule you. Always control it.”

“How?”

“I will teach you how. That is why you are here. Dailak tells me you are half human.”

“Yes, sir. My father was human. My mother was demon.”

“I’ve searched a long time for one such as you. One not of the normal demonic type. Dailak has searched for me for five years to find just the right demon for me to train. I believe he is correct. Your human half can be a great source of strength for you. You will learn to use that strength to your advantage.”

“How long do I have to stay here?”

“As long as it takes. That will depend on you. The quicker you learn the sooner you can take your place in the Underworld. It will not be easy. Nothing worthwhile is. I will test you to your very limits and beyond. But when you are finished there will be no demon in the Underworld you will need fear.”

“They . . . my mother and Cartrack say that apprentices die during your training.”

“It has happened. But only to the weak. There is a strength in you. I can sense it. Don’t worry about that. All demons die eventually. Even I will die one day. Concentrate on the task at hand. Commit yourself to mastering that task without thought of anything else and you will do fine.

“Now, I will give you time to rest. You have just finished your training with Cartrack and I know that can be arduous. Rest and recoup your strength. In three days we begin your training in earnest. These will be your quarters during your stay here.”

Isladec turned and left the chamber leaving Cole alone.


_________________
"One day we are going to look in our microscope and find outselves staring into God's eye. And the first one to blink is going to loose his testicles." - Peter O'Toole in "Creator"


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 Post subject: Re: The Cole Chronicles (Rating: K)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:22 am 
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SEVEN

Cole moved through the passages of the Underworld, his gray robes fluttering as he moved. Tomorrow would be his 21st birthday and Isladec had allowed him a few days from his training to celebrate. Such celebrations hardly held any meaning for most demons. But as half human Isladec said it was important that Cole learn to appreciate such milestones. If he were to assume a place on the mortal plane he would have to observe many of the rituals that humans observed, birthdays being one of the most important.

Not that Cole had any objections to celebrating his birthday. He had fully immersed himself in demonic culture. To prove he was just as much demon as any full blood. But it did give him some time off from his training with the ancient demon. And that training had been exceptionally rigorous of late. As if leading up to some demonic milestone.

Cole had a suspicion of what that milestone would be. Normal demonic training would vary depending on the function the demon would assume in the hierarchy after their training. A mercenary’s training normally lasted an average of ten years. But Isladec had often told him that he was progressing faster than any other student he had ever trained. Cole was nearly certain that the milestone would be his early graduation from apprenticeship to full fledge mercenary. Accomplished in only half the time it took most other mercenaries to graduate. A feat he took considerable pride in.

As he moved through the passages of the Underworld he contemplated what he would do with his free time. Isladec had been correct in one aspect. His training had been extremely arduous. And there had been more than a few injuries during that training. Several that had actually been life-threatening. The time away from such harrowing experiences was a welcomed respite for the young half human demon. He had decided to do nothing but indulge his own selfish pleasures while he had the time.

Which, of course, meant going to the mortal plane. Many activities which demons considered pleasurable were not that way for Cole. Even though he had forsaken his humanity in favor of a demonic lifestyle, his human half still yearned for many of the indulgences of humans. And demonic women were not exactly what Cole found appealing.

Oh, they were attractive enough. At least those with human forms were. But they were all so damned subservient. They bowed and scrapped even to him, a lowly half human, because he was a male. And as females they were considered more property than equals. While this could be entertaining, Cole found that he often longed for the companionship of someone who didn’t look on him as a master. And those were extremely rare in the Underworld.

As Cole rounded a corner he noticed a small gathering of demons ahead. All were in human form and they seemed to be gathered around a young woman. Young by demon standards, anyway. She appeared to be about thirty. She was dressed in a form-fitting black dress that accentuated her figure nicely. Her blonde hair hung to her waist and was braided down her back.

Three male demons surrounded her blocking her from traveling either direction down the passage. One demon in particular, Darian, was one that Cole had encountered before. He and Cole were about the same age and of similar temperament. He was the offspring of one of the members of the Hellborn Society. A group of demons that had served the Source until the arrival of the Brotherhood of the Thorn. Which meant there was no love lost between the Society and the Brotherhood.

The Hellborn Society was more a group of bullies. And their offspring exhibited the same traits as their parents. Cole had never cared much for any of them and Darian, especially, had rubbed Cole the wrong way. As Cole approached the small group he could overhear what they were saying.

“All I’m saying is that you should be a little more friendly to us, that’s all,” Darian was saying to the young woman. “We can do a lot for someone like you. Why, just being seen with us would raise your status in the Underworld a great deal. We do work directly for the Triad, after all.”

“More like your parents work for the Triad,” said the woman defiantly. Cole was quick to note that there was no fear in the woman’s voice. Nor the typical subservient attitude of most demonic females. “Which, I might add, is a step down from serving the Source, as they once did.”

“You need to watch your tongue, female,” said a second demon. “I think we need to teach this female a lesson, Darian. It’s obvious she has no idea who she’s dealing with.”

“Oh, I’d say she knows exactly who she’s dealing with,” said Cole, stopping only a few short feet from the group. “A group of bullies who need to gang up on a lone female to bolster their diminutive egos. You guys seem to be real good at that.”

“Half breed,” snarled Darian, turning to face Cole. “Stay out of this. This isn’t your concern.”

“Yeah, that’s always been a failing of mine,” said Cole. “Sticking my nose in where it doesn’t belong. Isladec says I should work on that.”

“Take care, human,” snarled another of the demons. “You don’t have your ancient master here to protect you. And there are three of us and only one of you.”

“You’re right,” said Cole. “Not exactly fair odds. You want me to wait here while you go get some of your friends to even things up a bit?”

Darian stepped up to Cole. He stood a good foot taller than Cole and glared down at the half human. Cole glared back showing no fear to his enemy.

“Pantor is right,” snarled Darian. “Isladec may protect you in the lower chambers. But we all know he rarely comes up here. You’re all alone, half breed. And I think it’s time you were taught your place in the Underworld.”

“You’re welcome to try,” said Cole changing to his demonic form. Belthazor stood facing the demon, his red skin glistening in the torchlight of the chamber. “But don’t make the first mistake. Underestimating your opponent. And I don’t appreciate the term half breed.”

“Nor do I.”

They all turned to see another demon standing only a few feet from them. He stood some seven feet tall and his skin was a dark green - nearly black - with bright yellow markings. His eyes glowed bright red like two piercing spotlights in the dark. His robes were the color of pitch. He stood facing the small group.

“What’s going on here?” demanded the demon.

“N. . .nothing,” stumbled Darian, backing away from Cole. He glanced nervously between Cole and the new demon. “Just. . .just a little misunderstand.”

“If you call three males ganging up on a female a misunderstand,” said Belthazor. “It appears that the offspring of the Hellborn Society take after their parents in more ways than one.”

“Who are you demanded?” demanded the demon. “Who is your master?”

“I am Belthazor and Isladec is my master.”

“Well, hold your tongue, Belthazor. The Hellborn Society serves the Triad. You will show proper deference to your superiors.”

“Forgive me,” replied Belthazor. “I meant no disparagement.”

“Your very presence is a disparagement,” snarled Darian.

“And you would do well to know your place,” the new demon snapped at Darian. “You have yet to prove yourself, just as this one does. And I would suggest that you forget about the female. She has business to attend to elsewhere.”

“Her kind shouldn’t even be here,” said Darian. “If it were up to me I wouldn’t even allow them in the Underworld.”

“I’ll be sure to pass your suggestion on to Mephistan,” said the new demon. “I’m sure he would be most interested in the advice of an insolent whelp who knows nothing of the workings of the hierarchy.”

“Mephistan?” questioned Darian.

“Yes,” said the female. “That’s where I was going when you accosted me. It seems he has a job for me. A job given him by the Triad. I’m sure he’ll be more than a little interested in why I’m late.”

“Move on,” ordered the new demon. “And pray I don’t inform Mephistan or the Triad of your interference in their business. The penalty for such interference would be most unfortunate.”

“Yes, sir,” said Darian.

Cole just watched as Darian and his two compatriots hurried from the passageway, fear evident in their eyes.

“Be on your way,” the demon said to the female. “Mephistan is waiting for you.”

“I was just going there.”

The demon looked at Belthazor once and then turned and left the passage.

“I would like to thank you for your assistance,” the female said to Cole. “Although it really wasn’t necessary. I can handle Darian and his kind. As you said, they’re nothing more than bullies.”

“You don’t act like most females,” said Belthazor, reverting back to Cole. “You have an arrogance I’ve not found in most demons.”

“Angelique,” said the female. “And there’s good reason for that. I’m not a demon. I’m a Dark Lighter.”

“A Dark Lighter? I’ve heard of them but I’ve never actually met one. I spend most of time in the lower chambers. Isladec keeps me very busy.”

“No doubt,” said Angelique. “So, you’re going to be a mercenary.”

“How did you know that?”

“Isladec only trains mercenary.”

“Who was that?” Cole asked, looking up the passage where the single demon had gone.

“You don’t know him? He’s called Malevant. And he works directly for Mephistan. Although rumor has it the Source is interested in him. He seems to be something of a genius at tacticians. His plans are quite ingenious.”

“Malevant? Darian seemed afraid of him.”

“And well he should be. Malevant is no ordinary demon. It’s said his father was a demon. And his mother was a White Lighter.”

“That explains why he doesn’t like the term half breed. His mother was a White Lighter? I didn’t think that was even possible. Since when do White Lighters consort with demons?”

“Well, consort isn’t exactly the word I would use. It wasn’t like it was a voluntary joining, as I understand it. But Malevant is extremely powerful. He simply appeared in the Underworld one day. I’m not real familiar with his history. But it seems he has a twin brother. Only his brother is a White Lighter. And a more intense hatred between two individuals you would be very hard pressed to find.”

“Well, enough about Malevant. What about you? As I said, I’ve never met a Dark Lighter before. I have a few days off from my training. Would you care to enlighten me about Dark Lighters? I can be most entertaining.”

“Sorry, but as Malevant said, I have a previous appointment. One I’m afraid I can’t put off. Besides, aren’t you a little young?”

“I’m 21,” protested Cole. “At least I will be tomorrow.”

“Only 21? You’re barely grown. But you are awfully cute. I’ll tell you what. Once I’ve finished my business for Mephistan I’ll consider your offer. No promises, but I’ll consider it.”

“Fair enough. If you change your mind, you know where to reach me.”

“I certainly do,” said Angelique, walking down the passage away from Cole. She took several steps and then turned back to him. “By the way. Unlike Malevant I prefer your human form.”

“Unlike Malevant?”

“Yes. It seems he has a particular disdain for humanity. If you encounter him again I would suggest you do so as Belthazor. He does have something of a temper I’m told.”

“I’ll be sure to remember that.”

“But like I said, I prefer your human form. And green is my favorite color.”

Without another word she turned and disappeared down the passageway. Smiling to himself Cole continued on his way. He made a mental note to be sure to get a green robe as soon as possible.


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"One day we are going to look in our microscope and find outselves staring into God's eye. And the first one to blink is going to loose his testicles." - Peter O'Toole in "Creator"


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 Post subject: Re: The Cole Chronicles (Rating: K)
PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 1:59 pm 
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EIGHT

Cole hurried through the passageways that made up the lowest levels of the Underworld. He was going to be late again. It did not happen often but Isladec insisted on promptness. But the last week has been so enjoyable that Cole had nearly lost track of the time. He had spent nearly the entire week with Angelique. Despite their age difference they found they had much in common. It was only the merest stroke of luck that Cole had suddenly remembered that his “vacation” was nearly over.

He reached the entrance to the training chamber that Isladec used to train his initiates. The master would all ready be there, of course. He always was. And while there were no time pieces in the Underworld, Isladec would know precisely how late Cole was. As Cole entered the chamber he found Isladec standing in the back of the chamber with his back to the door.

“You’re late,” said Isladec as Cole entered.

“Yes, Master, I’m sorry. I lost track of the time. I promise to train extra hard in the future to make up for my tardiness.”

“No, you will not,” said Isladec, turning to face him.

Isladec was not in his demonic form. Instead, he was in a human form. Isladec had no specific human form. But he did have a form of shape changing ability that allowed him to assume any form he wished. Normally, he would be in demonic form for Cole’s training sessions. He would occasionally, however, take on a human form for some specific training that required a “human” opponent.

“Master, you have my word,” pleaded Cole. “I realize that I was late again and I will work that much harder to make up for it.”

“No, you will not train harder. In fact, you won’t train any more. Cole, I’ve taught you everything you need to be a good mercenary. Any more training would be, as the humans say, overkill. You are now ready to take your place in the Underworld.”

“Really?” questioned Cole in total surprise. “You said I was progressing well but I never imagined this. I’ve only been here for six years. It normally takes 10 years for mercenaries to receive the proper training.”

“For most demons, yes. But you are the best student I have ever had. There is much I did not need to teach you because you all ready understand it. Your human half has been a distinct advantage in this instance. I imagine it will continue to be of benefit to you, regardless of what other demons may say.”

“Thank you, Master. I am honored.”

“You no longer need call me master any more. Your training is complete. While you will never be my equal in terms of power, you are my equal in terms of the Underworld. You are a fully trained demon ready to assume your place in the hierarchy.”

“Thank you, Ma. . .Thank you. I will do my best to honor your faith in me.”

“I have no doubt of that. There are just a couple of things I would still like to pass on to you, however. Call them suggestions if you will. And you may accept or refuse them as you see fit. You must make your own decisions now. Just as any demon must.”

“I would be a fool to ignore suggestions from you. What is it you would pass on to me?”

Without warning Isladec pulled an athame from his robes and cast it at Cole’s head. Before Cole could react the athame embedded itself in the wall next to his head missing him by less than an inch. Cole knew from personal experience that Isladec had missed only because he had chosen to. If he had wanted, Cole would now be dead.

“I have spent a great deal of time training you in other areas than using your magic. And yet you have never once questioned me about this.”

“I assumed it was necessary for my training.”

“It is. That athame. It could have killed you just now. Call it a demonstration. Do not rely too heavily on magic for your assignments. While your magic will be useful to you relying on it too much can be a fatal weakness. If I had cast a fireball at you, you would have sensed it. No matter how fast I was you would be able to at least avoid it.

“But the athame is not magical. You had no way to sense it and therefore it took you by surprise. Don’t worry about that. Even I can be surprised. My point is that magic has its place. But it is not the end all to your abilities.

“As a demon, your adversaries will expect you to use magic against them. And their magic will protect them, at least to a certain degree, from your own. But sometimes the easiest way to defeat a magical opponent is without using magic. Your magic would not have protected you against that athame as it would have against my fireball.”

“I understand,” replied Cole.

“Bring me the athame.”

Cole pulled the weapon from the wall and looked at it. It was a lavish weapon complete with a strange symbol he had never seen before. He walked over and handed the dagger to Isladec. As he did, the elder demon picked up a box containing two identical daggers. There was a place for the third one in the box. Isladec took the athame and placed it in the box. Then he closed the box and handed it to Cole.

“I know you will use them well,” said Isladec, smiling at Cole. “Call it a graduation present. Something to commemorate your human accomplishment as well as your demonic one.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Cole, taking the box. “But they are inscribed with a symbol. I have not proven myself yet. I don’t rate a special mark.”

“It is my choice to make that determination. As I have said, you have completed your training quicker than any student I ever had. And when you complete your assignments, I want it known that it was you who completed it. That mark will be your personal mark from now on. All demons will soon know of it.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“I have another piece of advice for you. One that may well save your life in the future.”

“I would be very interested in knowing what that advice is.”

“Specialize,” said Isladec.

“I’m sorry. I don’t understand.”

“You are going to be a mercenary, Cole. Mercenaries hire out to high level demons. Most will take any job for anyone who will pay their fee. And too many realize too late that they aren’t equipped to handle a particular assignment. No demon, not even I, can be efficient in all areas.

“Specialize in a particular area. One that will compliment your talents. One that you are equipped to deal with. It may narrow your choice of jobs a bit but you don’t have to worry about taking a job and then finding out you aren’t equipped to handle that job. Many a demon has been vanquished because of that failing.”

“That sounds like wise advice. Any suggestions what type of specialization I should go into?”

“Witches. They are the major source of problems for the Underworld and the Source in particular. And as half human, you can more easily blend in with humans than most demons. It will allow you to get closer to your targets than any full demon could.”

“And since a witch would expect a demon to use magic against her, these athames would come in very handy,” replied Cole. “Their magic won’t protect them against these. Using an athame a witch becomes just another human.”

“Precisely. You’d be able to strike before they even suspect who – or what – you are.”

“Thank you, Isladec. It’s very sound advice. There is, however, one small problem. No demon is going to trust me enough to hire me to go after a witch. Especially since I’m half human. Most don’t even consider me a demon, let alone a demonic bounty hunter. Making a name for myself killing witches is going to be difficult.”

“You don’t wait to be hired. Go after a witch on your own. Once you’ve dispatched her, find the demon she’s plagued the most. Once he learns what you’ve done he’ll be most appreciative. And he’ll be more inclined to hire you the next time he needs a witch taken care of. Not to mention that word of what you’ve done will quickly spread through the Underworld.”

“Well, if I’m going after a witch to make a name for myself, I might as well not dally around about it. I’m sure there are any number of witches that either the Source or the Triad would like to have removed. And there are probably more than a few that they’ve had trouble getting to. If I can take out one of those, it will go a long way to establishing myself in the Underworld.”

“I’ve trained you well,” said Isladec, smiling with pride at Cole. “Now tell me. What are the mercenary rules?”

“Rule one. Don’t ask too many questions about the assignment. Just find out what the assignment is and what the bounty for it is. Too much information tends to muddle the assignments.

“Rule two. Business is business. Never let personal relationships interfere with the job. That can be a fatal mistake.

“Rule three. When you’re working you don’t have any friends or family. Everyone is either your target or a means to get to your target. If you start thinking in terms of friends and not friends you begin to make mistakes.”

“Very well done. Exactly as I taught you.”

“Did you really think I had forgotten them?”

“Of course not. But it never hurts to recite them from time to time. Just to make sure you’re abiding by them. And the most important rule for a mercenary?”

“Never become personally involved with a target. It will ruin your objectivity. I remember. Don’t worry. Most of my targets will most likely be human. And you are well aware that I have forsaken anything that has to do with humanity. I’m a demon. Nothing can ever change that.”

“Very good. You’re ready. I’ll see to it that the word is passed that you have completed your training. You can now enter the Underworld proper and leave the training areas. And if you should need my help, don’t hesitate to ask.”

“I wouldn’t be a very good mercenary if I couldn’t handle my own problems,” said Cole, smiling coyly at Isladec.

“I have trained you well. Remember above everything else your personal honor. Most demons have no concept of what honor is. They would just as soon stab you in the back as look at you. That’s what will make you the exception to the rule. It will also help to confuse your enemy since most don’t believe that demons can have honor.”

“I remember. I’ll make you proud of me, Isladec. My own father was human. I’d like to think that if he had been a demon he would have been very much like you.”

“Go now. Show the Underworld that their misplaced disdain for you simply because you had the misfortune of being born half human. And know that I will be watching your progress with great interest.”

Cole bowed once to Isladec. It was a sign of respect that most demons did for their masters more out of fear and intimidation than true respect. As long as Cole could remember he had always vowed to one day prove he was as true a demon as any full demon. Isladec had given him the tools to prove that. As Cole turned and left the chamber he vowed that one day no demon would dare call him half breed. At least, not to his face.

Isladec watched as Cole left the chamber. As he did, Cole took one of the athames out of the box and shoved it into his belt. Isladec just smiled. He had trained Cole well. For a while, at least, Cole would have no use for them. Not until he took his first target. But Cole was all ready getting a feel for them. Very soon they would be more an extension of himself than a mere weapon. Isladec had no doubt that Cole would very quickly prove he was more than most demons ever imagined.


_________________
"One day we are going to look in our microscope and find outselves staring into God's eye. And the first one to blink is going to loose his testicles." - Peter O'Toole in "Creator"


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 Post subject: Re: The Cole Chronicles (Rating: K)
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2013 9:48 pm 
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NINE

Cole shimmered into the Underworld and looked around. It hadn’t changed ostensibly in the time he had been gone. But then, it hadn’t changed in hundreds of years. There was no reason to think it would change in the meager 4 years he had spent on the mortal plane.

After “graduating” from his training with Isladec he had considered his options. He was trained to be a mercenary. Which meant he wouldn’t serve any particular master for any substantial length of time. He’d serve whichever master paid his fee for whatever job he was hired for and then move on to the next job. Therein lay the crux of his dilemma.

As an “unknown” mercenary, most of the higher level demons would be extremely leery about hiring him. Hiring mercenaries was largely by word of mouth. Their past accomplishments often dictated which master would be interested in hiring them. The problem was, Cole had no past accomplishments. It was a redundant cycle. He couldn’t get hired because he had not proven himself but he couldn’t prove himself because no one would hire him.

And his human half would definitely be a determent. Humans were the enemy. As a demon who was half human, most of the hierarchy would look upon him as inferior at best. At worst, he would be viewed as either a traitor or a spy. Neither of which would help him gain the notoriety he would need to establish a name for himself.

Added to this that he had suddenly made a realization. Despite being half human, he had virtually been raised in the Underworld. He had only spent a few meager years on the mortal plane just after he was born. And he remembered very little from his time there. Then his mother had brought him to the Underworld to raise him as a demon.

It had often been said that he would understand humans better than most demons because he was, himself, part human. And while that might be true, he knew virtually nothing of human societies. He knew little of human customs and traditions other than what his mother or some other demons had related to him. And he realized that their accounts would be tainted by their demonic view of things.

So he had decided to learn firsthand about human society. For the past 4 years he had lived among humans as one of them. Foregoing his demonic heritage, he had traveled learning everything he could about them. It had not been easy. The natural arrogance and superiority demanded of demons was not necessarily prevalent in human society. In many instances he had to bite his tongue, as it were, and acquiesce to humans who were quite obviously his inferiors. But it was necessary to blend in with humans and learn what he could about them.

Now he was back in the underworld. He had learned what he needed to know about humans. He had blended in very effectively while on the mortal plane. No one had ever suspected he was more than what he had appeared. Now it was time to put his plan into action.

Isladec had suggested he specialize in witches. They were a constant bane to a demon’s existence. They helped and protected the inferior humans who did not have the knowledge – or power – to protect themselves against the powers of a demon. They were an ever-present obstacle to the plans of the hierarchy of the Underworld. So, removing any witches was always a benefit to higher level demons.

Cole’s main problem was finding a witch that was just such an obstacle so that he could remove her and curry favor with whichever demon they stood in the way of. On the one hand, this was quite easy. Most witches stood in the way of some demon of the hierarchy. It was just the nature of the “relationship” between demons and witches. The problem was that finding one who was visible enough that he would get noticed. The hierarchy wasn’t very forgiving when it came to demons that failed an assignment. So it was obvious that any demon sent to take care of a witch – and failed – was more than a little reluctant to talk about such failure.

Cole stepped into a large chamber and looked around. These were some of the lowest chambers in the Underworld. It was here that the lowest level demons resided, waiting to get a summons from someone higher up the food chain. Most would be a summons for some menial task that higher level demons considered to be below their status. Tasks that would rarely, if ever, bring them to the attention of a powerful demon.

Cole was glad he had been spared living here. It was cramped with dozens of demons lounging around waiting for the call. There was little for them to do. And no upper level demon would ever set foot in the place. They would, in all likelihood, send one of their subordinates to summon a demon for a particular task.

But it was a good place to start. He had learned on the mortal plane that rumors abounded in places like this. Snippets of conversation overheard by these menials just might provide some useful information that would lead Cole to his goal. He moved through the throng listening intently as demons talked among themselves.

All manner of lower level demons could be found here. Most were in their demonic form. Then again, most demons this low in level had no human form. But there were a few who had human forms and Cole could see them scattered throughout the crowd.

He passed virtually unnoticed. He knew that no one in this place were “friends”. Few demons had what could be considered “friends”. That was a human concept. To a demon, anyone they were associated with was merely a means to an end. That end being to rise as high within the hierarchy as possible. Which, for most of these wretches, meant being selected as an underling for a higher level demon.

Cole paused for a moment. He had overheard someone mention the name Tobash. He knew of Tobash, although he had never had the pleasure of meeting him in person. Tobash was a moderate level demon that usually operated behind the scenes in political areas on the mortal plane. He would covertly try to sabotage any plans that humans had that might be counterproductive to demonic interests. Cole looked around and found the 2 demons who were discussing Tobash. He found a seat near them and sat listening as they talked.

“I hear Tobash is fit to be tied,” said the first demon. “He sent one of his underlings, Karan, to take care of the human but she’s still alive. And I saw Karan in the outer chambers earlier. He’s hiding out until he can get another shot at the human. If he can take her out Tobash will be appeased and he won’t vanquish Karan for his failure.”

“You mean he didn’t finish the job?” questioned the second demon. “That’s pathetic. He can’t even take care of a single human female? I thought even Karan was more efficient than that.”

“Apparently she was no ordinary human. She’s a witch. And Karan said she had some kind of special sight or something. She took one look at him and knew exactly what he was. He didn’t even have a chance to defend himself. He told me if he hadn’t gotten out of there when he did she would have vanquished him on the spot.”

“A witch? Tobash sent Karan after a witch? Is Tobash crazy? Karan is no match for a witch. He’s a subterfuge demon, like us. He could never stand up to a witch.”

“My information is that Tobash didn’t know she was a witch,” said the first demon, lowering his voice some. “That’s one of the reasons he’s so ticked off. She owns some property that LaTarrin needs for one of his plans. Only she won’t sell it. So LaTarrin told Tobash to get rid of her. That will make it easier to get control of the property. Now, since the female is a witch, it’s going to cost Tobash a whole lot more than he was paying Karan to get rid of her. He’s going to have to hire a mercenary to take out the witch and he’s not happy about that.”

“I don’t blame him. Mercenaries can be expensive. Still, he doesn’t have much of a choice. Tobash isn’t stupid enough to cross LaTarrin. Hey, maybe Tobash will hire you and me to take out the witch. Between the two of us maybe we can get the jump on her. One of us distracts her while the other one finishes her. Even if he doesn’t pay full price for it because we’re just subterfuge demons it has to be a lot more than we normally get.”

“Which won’t do us any good if we’re dead. I’m not going up against no witch. Let the mercenaries do that. That’s what they get paid for.”

Cole turned and left the chamber, smiling to himself. LaTarrin was one of the highest level demons in the Underworld. Second only to the Triad and the Source himself. If he had told Tobash to take out the witch, it meant that whatever he had in mind for that property was important. And he would be very appreciative of the demon that removed her allowing him to gain control of that property.

As he moved through the passageways of the Underworld, Cole decided this would be the perfect mission to begin establishing his reputation in the Underworld. His first order of business was to find Karan find out what he knew about the witch. Then he could begin formulating a plan to kill the witch and claim the bounty for himself.


_________________
"One day we are going to look in our microscope and find outselves staring into God's eye. And the first one to blink is going to loose his testicles." - Peter O'Toole in "Creator"


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 Post subject: Re: The Cole Chronicles (Rating: K)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:27 am 
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TEN

Cole had little trouble locating Karan. If he was hiding out from LaTarrin, he’d be hiding in some place the senior demon wouldn’t think to look for him. There were a thousand places a demon could hide if he needed to. He couldn’t stay there long, but he’d be safe at least for a time.

In addition, the subterfuge demons had intimated that Karan was injured. He couldn’t go to any of the “normal” places for any kind of treatment. LaTarrin would soon learn where he was and come looking for him. But there were naturally occurring places in the Underworld that an injured demon could go to get at least some treatment for his injuries. Cole had only look in those places until he found Karan.

He finally located the demon in one of the outer fringe chambers. There was a pool of water in this chamber that was slightly charged by some form of magic. The mud from this pool was a natural healing ointment, although only marginally so. Still, it was better than no treatment at all.

Cole found Karan sitting at the side of the pool smearing some of the mud on a rather nasty gash along one arm. Even with a demonic constitution, it would require at least several days before the wound was healed enough for Karan to make another attempt on the witch. Not that it would make a difference. Subterfuge demons, as the two he had overheard saying, were little match for a witch.

“Here,” said Cole, pulling a small vial out of his robes and handing it to Karan, “try this. It will work a lot better than that mud you’re using?”

“Who are you?” demanded Karan, backing away defensively. “Did Tobash send you to vanquish me? Are you here to kill me?”

“Relax,” said Cole, sitting on the edge of the pool. “My name is Belthazor. Tobash didn’t send me. I doubt he even knows I exist. But with your help, I’m planning to change that.”

“What is this?” asked the demon, looking at the vial Cole had handed him.

“It’s an ointment of sorts. It should help with that cut. Humans use it.”

“Humans? You got this from humans?”

“That’s right,” said Cole, smiling. “It will work fine. But first, clean off that mud. Like I said, it will work better than the mud. Trust me.”

“What do you want?” asked Karan as he started cleaning his wound. “If LaTarrin didn’t send you, what are you doing here?”

“I hear you had a run in with a witch. I would guess that’s where you got that cut.”

“Who told you that?”

“It doesn’t matter. I know. And you didn’t kill her. So Tobash is probably looking to vanquish you for your failure. That explains why you’re hiding down here. Hoping to get another chance at the witch and redeem yourself.”

“What’s that to you?”

“At the moment, everything. Let’s face. You’re a subterfuge demon. You work behind the scenes spreading rumors and innuendo. Against an ordinary human you probably wouldn’t have any trouble. But against a witch, you’re practically defenseless. I, on the other hand, am much better equipped to deal with a witch. Not to mention she now knows what you look like. You show your face again and you probably won’t be as lucky as you were this time.”

“I’ll just have to wait until her guard is down. Hit her from behind. If she doesn’t see me coming she can’t defend herself.”

“You tried to kill her and failed. What makes you think she’s going to drop her guard? She knows someone is after her. And she knows who that is. Plus, I understand she has some kind of special sight. Something that let her know you were a demon.”

“Yeah, that’s true. She can read auras. I didn’t know that. I didn’t even know she was a witch. Tobash just said to kill her. By the time I found out she was a witch, it was too late. And you’re right about one thing. I was lucky to get away from her. I’ll be more careful next time.”

“Which won’t do you any good if she can read your aura and identify you as a demon. No disguise you come up with will hide your aura. And the next time she’ll probably vanquish you.”

“Well, maybe,” said Karan hesitantly. “I still don’t see what this has to do with you.”

“Just this. You sit down here, hiding out from Tobash, and letting your wounds heal. I’ll take care of the witch. As long as she’s alive Tobash is going to be out for blood. Especially now that it’s going to cost him more than he originally anticipated. Once the witch is dead, he’ll probably forget about the whole thing. You can go back to the Underworld without fear of being vanquished for your failure. Tobash will turn his attention to other matters.”

“And why should I let you get the bounty for this?”

“First,” said Cole, “you’re probably going to end up dead if you try. No matter how big the bounty is, it won’t do you any good if you’re vanquished. Second, you’ll have to rest up for a few days until that wound heals. I don’t have to wait. I can go after her now. Third, as I said, you probably won’t get the chance to try again. She’ll recognize you the instant you shimmer in and you probably won’t have a chance to strike. I’m going after her whether you agree or not. I just don’t want you showing up in a few days and spoiling any plans I might have. Let’s face it. This is the best course of action for both of us.”

“What makes you think you can do any better than I did?”

“Let’s just say I have a feeling. Here’s the deal. You just sit down here and let me take care of the witch. You don’t have to take any risk and you get the assignment completed. We can say you hired me to take care of it for you. It’s not unusual. It happens all the time. Once the witch is dead, will be appeased, LaTarrin will be happy, you don’t have to worry about being vanquished, and I’ll even give you have of whatever I get. Half a mercenaries fee has to be more than all of what Tobash is paying you.”

“Why would you pay me half your fee?” Karan asked suspiciously. "Most demons were not so generous.

“I want it known that I’m the one who actually took out the witch. I’m a mercenary but I don’t have a reputation. I need to prove I can deliver if the hierarchy is going to take me seriously. This little job is the perfect choice for that.”

“And how do I know you can deliver? How do I know the witch won’t vanquish you, as well?”

“What do you have to lose? If I can’t deliver, the witch will vanquish me and you’ll be no worse off than you are right now. Plus, you can always take another shot at her. But if I can deliver, your assignment gets completed, I get the credit for the actual kill, you get in good with Tobash for doing what he wanted you to do, and you get half my bounty for the job. The way I see it, you can only profit by this arrangement. If it doesn’t work out, well, as I said, you’re no worse off than you are right now.”

Karan thought about the offer for a moment. This upstart was right. If he could kill the witch, Tobash wouldn’t ask too many questions. Demons weren’t usually concerned with the “how” of what they wanted done. They just were concerned with the end results. If this Belthazor could kill the witch, all Tobash would be concerned with was that he had completed his assignment.

“Okay, you got a deal,” said Karan finally. “You take out the witch and I get half the bounty.”

“And I get full credit for the kill,” added Cole.

“Okay, sure, why not? But you only have until my arm is healed enough for me to go after her again myself. Once it’s healed, the deal is off.”

“Fair enough. A wound like that will probably take about 5 days to heal up. If I can’t get her by then I probably can’t get her at all. But you let me know when, and if, you’re ready to try again yourself. If you just shimmer in without any warning you could upset any plans I have in the works. That can be lethal for both of us.”

“Fine. The witch wears a charm bracelet that protects her against evil. She never takes it off. To prove you’ve killed her, you’ll need to bring me that bracelet.”

“Agreed,” said Cole. “Now, if I’m going to have any chance of success at this, you need to tell me everything you know about her. No matter how trivial it might seem. You never know what might be useful against a target.”

“Well, for one thing, she’s a widow,” began Karan. “She’s got a son about 12. He shouldn’t be a problem. He doesn’t seem to be a witch. I guess it skipped him. She lives in a place called San Francisco.”


_________________
"One day we are going to look in our microscope and find outselves staring into God's eye. And the first one to blink is going to loose his testicles." - Peter O'Toole in "Creator"


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 Post subject: Re: The Cole Chronicles (Rating: K)
PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:58 am 
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ELEVEN

Cole shimmered into a large building and looked around. No one was around so he wouldn’t have been seen shimmering in. He had appeared in the warehouse district to minimize being seen by any mortals. Inside a warehouse at night was the best option for that.

The building looked to be in very poor shape. Parts of it were burned. It had only been 4 years since a massive earthquake had rocked San Francisco. Many buildings had been destroyed in the quake. Even more had been destroyed in the fires that had broken out subsequent to the quake. San Francisco would eventually recover, of course. But it would take a long time.

Karan had told him that the witch live near the warehouse district. From here it should be just a short walk. He had 4 days to find the witch and take care of her before Karan came looking for her himself. Not that he would have any better luck than he had the first time. Still, Cole was determined to get the witch before Karan had the chance.

He hadn’t taken more than a couple of steps when he suddenly stopped and looked around. He hadn’t heard a sound but he knew he wasn’t alone. He could feel someone in the darkness of the warehouse watching him. He couldn’t see them but he knew they were there.

“Who’s there?” he demanded, ready to defend himself.

“That should be my question,” came a voice out of the darkness. “You shimmer in unannounced. You’re either a fool or very brave. Of course there are those who would say there is little difference between the two.”

“Well, to be honest, I thought this place was deserted. I just thought it would be a good place to shimmer into so no mortals would see me. I had no idea anyone else was here.”

Suddenly a man stepped out of the darkness directly ahead of Cole. Cole knew instantly that he was actually a demon. But he was one of the largest demons Cole had ever seen. Even in his human form he was nearly seven feet tall. Cole had no doubt he was probably as strong as he appeared.

“What are you called?” inquired the demon.

“I’m Belthazor. And you would be . . . .?”

“I am called Lornock.”

“Lornock?” Cole questioned. “My former master told me about a demon named Lornock. He was an enforcer demon who was condemned to death several decades ago.”

“That would be me. My master was Beelzbor and he was displeased with a mission I failed. So he ordered me vanquished. But I was not about to go quietly. So I came here.”

“And just where is here exactly?”

“In due course,” replied Lornock. As he was speaking Cole saw 4 other demons step out of the darkness surrounding him. “You mentioned your former master.”

“Isladec. I was trained by Isladec. That’s why I’m here. I’m on an assignment, so to speak.”

“Isladec? That would make you a mercenary.”

“That’s right.”

“What is this mission you mentioned? Have you been hired by the hierarchy to seek us out? Perhaps you’re after a specific demon.”

“Actually, my target is a witch. And I haven’t been hired by anyone in the hierarchy. I doubt anyone in the hierarchy even knows I exist. But I’m going to change that. I just need to get on with my assignment.”

“An unknown mercenary? I would assume this would be your first assignment. I seriously doubt that anyone in the hierarchy would hire a neophyte to come after one of our residents. They have to know that would let us know they’re on to us and that we’d immediately move to a different location.”

The voice came out of the darkness. Cole watched as another demon walked out of the darkness. This one was different from the others. He was about sixty with graying hair. He was as tall as Cole but less bulky. He was also dressed in a typical business suit of the day.

“As I said, I wasn’t hired by the hierarchy. In fact, I wasn’t actually hired by anyone. And you’d be right. This could be called my first assignment. You might say I’m using it as a sort of letter of introduction to demons who might need my services.”

“So the hierarchy doesn’t know about us?” asked the new demon.

“That depends,” replied Cole. “Just who are you? And what is this place?”

The new demon looked at Lornock and nodded once. All of the demons except the new one faded back into the darkness and vanished from sight.

“My name is Caprick,” said the new demon. “You might call me head of security for this place. It’s called the Overworld. You might say we cater to disenfranchised demons from the Underworld.”

“You mean demons who have been sentenced to death but were able to escape from the Underworld before the sentence could be carried out. I’ve heard rumors of this place. There are any number of high level demons who would pay a hefty fee to learn the location of this place.”

“Well, that is another way to describe this place. And you’re right. Most high level demons would pay quite handsomely to know its location. But as I said earlier, we’d just have to relocate to another location. Which would be much easier than you might think. So, Belthazor the mercenary. So I have to be worried that you’ll tell the hierarchy about us?”

“I don’t suppose so. As I said, I’m a mercenary. Or I’m going to be. Whatever demon might pay me to know where this place is located I can’t see how that’s going to further my goals. Besides, you never know when an outcast demon might come in handy.”

“The word of a demon? Not exactly the most tangible of collateral.”

“Well, to be honest, I’m only half demon. My father was human.”

“The word of a human to a demon. Usually even less reliable than the word of a demon.”

“My word is all I have,” said Cole.

“The word of one of Isladec’s pupils has always been good enough for me.”

“You know Isladec?”

“Once upon a time. It has been a very long time since we’ve spoken. But I do know that Isladec instills an unusual sense of honor in his pupils. And you would never have graduated from his training if you hadn’t learned that. I could be wrong, of course. Demons can be so unreliable. But I’m usually a pretty good judge of demons. I will say that not all of my associates are disenfranchised demons. I have a few who are still in good standing with the hierarchy. Should you betray my trust I can assure you that you would find the consequences most unpleasant.”

“You don’t have to worry about that. Like I said, I didn’t even know you were here. I’m after a witch. At the moment I couldn’t care less about some ‘disenfranchised demons’ or this Overworld you seem to have created here.”

“To be honest, I didn’t create it. The ruler of the Overworld is a demon called Gangus. He established this place when the Source became displeased with him and ordered him vanquished. Luckily he proved more powerful than the demons sent to vanquish him. He escaped to the mortal plane and has been here ever since. I joined him a few years later and it’s worked out pretty well all things concerned.”

“Well, like I said, I’m not interested in you or your place. As you deduced, this is my first ‘assignment’. I’m hoping to establish my reputation by completing this assignment.”

“Fine. I guess I should let you be getting to it. There are a number of witches in San Francisco. Which one is your target?”

“Her name is Kate Palmer. Apparently she owns some property that LaTarrin is interested in and she won’t sell it. One demon has all ready tried to get to her and failed. I figure if I can take her out LaTarrin would be appreciative.”

“Very industrious. But going after a witch on your first mission. Most demons would work their way up to that. I happen to know of her. She has a sort of charm bracelet. It allows her to see the aura around a creature. That’s probably why the other demon failed. She was able to read his aura and see that he was a demon. Even being half human won’t protect you from that.”

“That much I know,” said Cole, pulling a vial out of his pocket. “That’s why I have this. It’s a special potion that will mask my demonic half. Once she’s convinced I’m fully human I can get close enough to her to figure out some way to kill her. And I’m under kind of a time constraint.”

“Children,” replied Caprick.

“I’m sorry?”

“She has a young son. She also runs an orphanage. That’s come in quite handy the past couple of years. After that big earthquake a few years back there are more orphans than usual. She seems to have a special weakness for children.”

“Thanks, I appreciate the information. You seem to be pretty informed about San Francisco.”

“I’ve been here a long time. And you pick up a few things along the way. Many of our residents are permanent residents so they do some work around town to help support the Overworld. We can’t exactly get what we need from the Underworld. So we have to fend for ourselves. And naturally they learn things that they often pass onto me.”

“Well, it seems you’ve just given me another reason to keep your little secret. I’m specializing in killing witches. With connections like yours you can probably help me from time to time. I have a feeling I may be spending a fair amount of time here.”

“One rule. No violence is allowed in the Overworld. It’s a place where demons can come and feel safe from the bounty hunters looking for them. And if you ever betray our secret you won’t be allowed to return. Ever.”

“Understood. Well, I’ve enjoyed the chat. But as I said, I’m kind of under a time constraint. I really should be getting on with my assignment.”

“It was a pleasure to meet you, Belthazor the mercenary.”

“Cole. Cole Turner. That’s my human name. Guess I should get used to using it if I’m going to be spending time among humans.”

“That would be advisable,” said Caprick, smiling at him.

Cole turned and headed out of the warehouse. His first mission was beginning quite well. All ready he had made a contact on the mortal plane that could prove quite beneficial in the future. And one he wouldn’t have to hide who and what he was from.


_________________
"One day we are going to look in our microscope and find outselves staring into God's eye. And the first one to blink is going to loose his testicles." - Peter O'Toole in "Creator"


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