Authors: Kris Greene
Tags: #Urban Fantasy
If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
THE DARK STORM
Copyright © 2010 by Kris Greene.
The Demon Hunt
copyright © 2010 by Kris Greene.
All rights reserved.
For information address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
Printed in the United States of America
St. Martin’s Paperbacks edition / February 2010
St. Martin’s Paperbacks are published by St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
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In the seventeenth century a supernatural anomaly swept across Europe, leaving chaos and death in its wake. The anomaly finally settled in Naples, Italy, where it manifested itself as a storm that would blot out the very sun. The locals called it the Dark Storm.
So powerful was this Storm’s fury that it created a rip in the dimensional barrier between the realms of men and demons and loosed the forces of hell on earth. The demons wrought havoc and destruction in an attempt to secure a hold in the realm of men.
Leaders from the surrounding provinces dispatched troops of men to battle these new foes only to have them slaughtered or bent to the wills of the dark things that had come through the rift. With most of their forces being decimated, the leaders of the great nations decided that it would take more than ordinary soldiers to combat the threat. Emissaries from all the lands touched by the demons assembled in Vatican City to petition an audience with the good and wise Pope Alexander X.
The pope was a pillar when it came to his devotion to his faith, but even he understood that it would take more than prayers to repel the invasion. It would take steel along with the word of God to drive their foes out. Pope Alexander dispatched his twelve most trusted cardinals to
the farthest corners of the world to gather warriors who were pure of heart, unwavering in their faith and touched by the hand of their lord to stand against the threat. These twelve men each took a vow of secrecy and complete loyalty to the church and became the Order of the Knights of Christ. In addition to their God-given talents they were entrusted with one of the Vatican’s most closely guarded secrets, the weapons of the First Guard.
The First Guard had been composed of twelve Roman soldiers who empathized with Jesus and his mission, so they secretly protected him up until the time when they were discovered and executed for their crimes. The weapons were the things they held dearest to them, and so said to carry the strength of their faith within them. Armed with these items the Knights had become the ultimate weapon of the church, but it was from the thirteenth that they drew their strength.
Bishop Michael Francisco. The Bishop was the favorite amongst Alexander’s initiates within the church and one of his most skilled captains on the battlefield. The Bishop was whispered to be a bloodthirsty fanatic who employed unsavory methods in his insane quest to spread the word of his pope, but because of Alexander’s fondness for him none dared challenge him. It was he who was chosen to lead the Knights of Christ and wield one of the church’s greatest treasures, the Nimrod, a jeweled trident of untold power.
There were many stories about the Nimrod, but the most common and closest to the truth was that it was forged by saints and cooled in the tears of angels. It was a gift to Neptune, the true king of storms and guardian of the seas. Neptune held the trident for nearly a millennium, drawing the attention and animosity of the death god Thanos.
The jealous god recruited a young Egyptian warlock named Ezrah and his pirate crew, the Sheut, to wrest the
trident from Neptune. Ezrah was able to successfully steal the trident but was captured by the Templar knights before he could deliver his parcel. The Egyptian was made to watch as his crew were locked belowdecks on their ship, the
, and burned alive. When the massive boat was reduced to little more than a smoldering frame, the Templar bound Ezrah’s hands and feet and cast him back to the very seas he’d plundered for so long. The Templar had left Ezrah to drown, but what they didn’t know was that the death god also had an agenda.
All the slaves who had been rescued from the
had been put to death to cover the story of the murders, save for the defiant young boy, who amused the Templar captain. The boy was taken back to Vatican City and brought to stand before Alexander, who held the office of cardinal back then. The cardinal too was intrigued by the boy’s defiance and decided to take him on as a student. Alexander gave him the Christian name Michael Francisco and began him on the path of Christ.
Under Alexander, Michael proved himself to be a worthy Catholic and devout in his newfound faith, soon rising to the rank of Bishop. Though he was one of the quickest and most accomplished studies in Alexander’s charges, this was only part of the reason Michael was chosen to lead the Knights. Like Neptune, Michael had been a child of the sea, and just as the cardinals had hoped, the sleeping weapon came to life in Michael’s hands. Blessed by his holy father and armed with anointed weapons, the Bishop led his Knights into the eye of the storm.
The battle that followed was a historical one, but never recorded in the books of men. For seven days and six nights, the two sides clashed, neither yielding nor gaining ground. But on the seventh night, the Knights turned the tide and the demons’ strength began to waver. Victory was finally in sight.
Though one of the most devoted of the pope’s followers, the Bishop was also human and subject to flaw. His captain and closest friend, Titus, arranged a secret meeting between the Bishop and the demon lord Belthon. Belthon promised to bestow upon the Bishop the power of the gods in exchange for an unholy alliance that would drive the other demons out and allow Belthon a small path of the world for himself. The Bishop reasoned that it would be a small sacrifice when measured against the millions of souls he would be able to cleanse with his new power. He accepted the demon’s offer, which proved to be his own undoing.
Being loyal to the Bishop, the Knights followed him blindly, never knowing of the bargain between him and the dark lord. When the demons had been vanquished down to a few hordes, Titus decided to change the terms of the agreement. Belthon would have his small victory, but it was Titus who would become the god. Under the cover of darkness, Titus took up the Nimrod and struck down the Bishop.
As the Bishop lay bleeding out onto the cold and rain-soaked earth, he had some parting words for his one-time friend. “Hear me and hear me well, for these words shall haunt you till the end of your days. You’ve set out to steal my weapon and my power, but that which is one can never be parted,” the Bishop sneered. The closer he got to death, the more violent the storm became. “I curse you, Titus, murderer of your brother.” The Bishop crawled to Titus’ feet. Both Knights and demons recoiled, but Titus stood firm. Even when the Bishop was standing eye level with him, Titus never budged. “So you have stricken me down with the Nimrod,” the Bishop continued. “Know that its same unforgiving points shall also know the taste of your blood. And when the day comes, it shall be me staring into your eyes as you take your last breaths.” The light faded
from the Bishop’s eyes and he crumbled in a heap at Titus’ feet.
With a knowing smile Belthon called forth the Sheut to imprison the soul of the Bishop to place with the others they had already captured during the siege. The life forces of the holy men would be ferried to the dead lands to serve King Morbius’ dark designs. But when the wraiths tried to collect the Bishop’s soul a most unexpected thing occurred: the Nimrod flared to life. As it turned out, the weapon wasn’t quite ready to part with its wielder. Both Knights and demons watched in shock as the spirit of the Bishop was sucked into the trident.
A Knight called Redfeather, who represented the buffalo hunters, took up the trident and was immediately consumed by its power. Hearing the whispers of the Bishop from the great beyond, Redfeather turned the weapon on the betrayer. Redfeather’s strike rang true, sinking deep into Titus’ chest, but the blow was an untrained one and the center point broke off in the chest of the betrayer and the magic went wild, slaying both friend and foe. Only when the Bishop’s thirst was sated did the trident go still, taking the storm with it and closing the rift. Most of the demons were destroyed or sucked back through the rift. The few who managed to escape retreated to the farthest corners of the world, where they would regroup and prepare for the day when they would again seek to take control of the world of men. Nearly four hundred years later, their time is at hand.
, the thought exploded so loud in her head that her temples ached. She turned to shout a warning to her cousin Michal, but his rib bones had pierced the soft flesh of his stomach. The second shot separated his shoulder from his collarbone. Michal fell over, lifeless eyes staring up at his cousin. Her heart cried for him to get up, but she knew that he was too weak in the blood to heal the wound.
The sirens in the distance snapped her head around. She could see the flashing lights in the distance, but there would be no salvation from the law. Another bullet shattered the window of the car she was standing next to, causing her to drop. Her back rested against the car with her package hugged tightly to her breasts. She could not see her cousin’s murderer, but she knew he was out there and she would be next on his list unless she made her move.
De Mona darted across the street, holding the hemp-bound package close. The sharp scent of fresh cloves singed her nose, but it was a necessary evil. When she hit the street she was blinded by lights as a speeding car plowed towards her. The driver slammed on his brakes but couldn’t stop in time. The impact sent De Mona flying through the air and skidding down the street before she finally slammed into the fender of a parked car.
“Dear God!” the driver shouted, jumping from the late-model Ford. When he took in the prone form of the girl he prayed that she was still alive, but at the speed he’d been going when he hit her it didn’t look good. In the distance police sirens sounded, and they were getting closer by the minute. The man had barely checked her for a pulse when the girl’s eyes popped open. In one swift motion she was back on her feet and scanning the block for danger. She still didn’t see her cousin’s murderer, but she knew he was out there waiting for her. Picking up the burlap sack, she began backing away cautiously.
“Jesus, are you okay? I didn’t even see you.” The driver approached her. “Listen.” He looked off and saw the flashing police lights in the distance. “Help should be here any minute. If you’re okay I’m just gonna—” That was as far as he got before a bullet struck him in the right cheek and sprayed De Mona with his blood. Eerily the darkness rolled forward and swallowed the driver’s body.