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Authors: S. E. Campbell

Where All Souls Meet

BOOK: Where All Souls Meet
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Where All Souls Meet

By S.E. Campbell

Published by Astraea Press

www.astraeapress.com

This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.

WHERE ALL SOULS MEET

Copyright © 2013 S.E. CAMPBELL

ISBN 978-1-62135-207-5

Cover Art Designed by FOR THE MUSE DESIGNS

For Jethro, who decided the name of the trilogy.

Prologue

Donovan kneeled by Satan's side. He'd been kneeling there for over five hours but he didn't care. Something bad had happened. Normally, this would cause him to grin, but not when it came to his master. When ill fate befell his master, it happened to
everyone
. He frowned at the wall of Satan's palace. The wall had been made from white stone which looked like seashells.
How despicably romantic.
He growled as he thought about it.

The wall reminded him of his dead wife, Clarice, and their honeymoon in North Carolina where the beach path had been made of crushed seashells. Their night together had been a blissful one. He had stood over her body, basking in yet another evil deed, another soul for his master. Unfortunately, the morning had been less grand. He had gotten caught.

"Do you know what the wall is made from?" Satan asked, yanking him from his thoughts. Satan must have followed his eyes, or maybe he had even read his mind.

"No, Lord," Donovan said quickly, knowing how his master hated to wait for anything, including answers. He glanced at Satan and wanted to breathe in deep as the scent of death overcame his nostrils. His lord smelled like his life during his most blissful moments. There was a coppery scent as well as the heady scent of death. Sometimes, when he knelt in front of Satan, he got the same high he had received during murder. And this was just the scent.

Satan had five glorious heads. There was the rotting corpse, the snake, the hand, the demon, and the beautiful woman. His two clawed feet were like the massive paws of a bear, but without the fur. His skin was dry and scaly. Donovan loved each of the heads, or rather, he loved to drink in the expressions on peoples' faces when they stared into Satan's eyes and were overcome by the most intense fear they'd ever experienced in their entire life. There was no knife, no gun, which could create as much fear as seeing Satan.

He also had no doubt whatever the wall was made of was frightening, just like Satan was.

"The wall, Lord," Donovan said.

"What?" Satan snapped.

"You never told me what the wall was made from."

"Don't you think I know that, you human twit," Satan said. "It's made from human bones. Now—" Satan brought back his arm, grabbed Donovan by his shirt, and hurled him all the way across the human bone tile floor until he hit the wall on the other side of the room with a thud, "—get down like the dog you are. Don't you dare ask me questions."

He needs somebody to punish, and I shall be the one to accept his violence, if only to remain close to the scent.
Donovan shut his eyes and inhaled, imagining a body upon the floor as he heard the sound of footsteps. His dark lord was coming for him again. Donovan felt a sharp pain as his master held him up by his neck and shook him, forcing him to open his eyes. He stared straight into the shriveled face head, the main head. With a groan, he willed himself to stay still. It did not matter what he did now, after all. Satan would be dead set on punishing him, regardless.

"Do you know how many people built my palace?" Satan asked. "Do you know how many corpses?"

"No, Lord."

"I swept the Earth as the Black Death and killed almost one hundred million people, but it wasn't enough to even make the floor of this room. I caused a famine which killed forty-five million people in China. I—" Satan threw Donovan to the floor and his back seared. The pain gave him an odd sort of pleasure and he almost smiled. "—planted the idea of exterminating Jews in a man's mind and managed to convince him to kill fifteen million people."

Instead of attacking Donovan, Satan paced back and forth, his greasy wings twitching on his back. His hand head, which was a large, disgusting growth in the shape of a hand with eyes on two of the fingers, jerked in rage. Once again, his footsteps made loud thudding noises upon the bone floor.

"I did all of these things." Satan's beautiful blonde woman's head twisted all the way around. His bones made a loud cracking noise as the spine twisted. Her blue eyes stared forward, staring blindly. "I did all of these things, and do you know the one thing it appears I cannot do?"

Donovan stared, unsure of whether he was supposed to reply.

"Answer me!" Satan boomed, his voice deep and loud.

"Nothing, Lord," Donovan said.

Throwing back his head, Satan let out a loud, piercing shriek of rage which echoed throughout the throne room. The throne of un-crushed human bones with skulls as the headrest shook in the process. Donovan covered his head in pain, though it would do little good in blocking the sound; souls did not hear through their ears — they just
heard
.

Finally, Satan stopped howling and continued to thunder about the throne room. "It appears even though I can wipe out a fourth of the Earth's population, I cannot catch a single human soul. A young female soul." Satan slammed his fist against the wall and the bone pieces crumbled into dust. "Argh!"

In horror, Donovan struggled to his feet.
A human girl? Is he talking about the one who was in the chapel with us and tried to stop the ceremony?
After his master had come up with a plan to shut the gates of heaven, they had to have a ceremony called the Blood Stone ceremony in order to seal the deal. Right as they had begun the ritual, a blonde-haired girl had attempted to stop it and failed. He shut his eyes and imagined her body lying on the floor. But it was no longer possible. He could not slice her open as a soul.

"Lord, maybe I can try to find her," Donovan said. "I can teach her a lesson. I can do things to her, Lord. Awful things."

"
You
,"
Satan said, turning around to face him. He threw back his head and laughed. "What could you do? She transformed the demon of sickness, the one who started the plague, small pox and famine, and convinced him to gouge out his own eyes. She took one of my strongest, deadliest allies and made him into a blind, gibbering fool
.
"

Donovan pictured the small, mousy girl. At the time of the Blood Stone ceremony, when his goal had been to close the gates of heaven, she had appeared so simple, so ordinary. In comparison to the large, eight-armed demon, the extremely thin blonde girl was insignificant in comparison. How could she have been victorious? Did she have some secret, God-given ability?

Silence fell as Satan continued to pace. He threw back his heads and screamed, "Come to me.
Now
."

Though Satan did not specify names, by the time he marched over to the double-doors in front of him and opened them, a group of his most fearsome demons awaited him on the other side. They entered the throne room. It seemed to Donovan they had been waiting for him, and all of their jaws dropped open.

Abyzou, a fish-faced demon, puckered her fat blue lips. Lady Midday, the bearer of heatstroke, gripped the staff in her hand tightly enough the skin paled over her bones. Lamashtu, the menace of a woman with a face of the lion, growled and shook her head.

Lamashtu said, "I do not want to face this human woman. Make Pazuzu do it."

The only one who did not appeared worried was goat
-
headed Aka Manah, the disturber of moral duties. Donovan always felt that Aka Manah, with his long face, appeared permanently sneering.

"I
do not
like to be mocked, and this girl, Eden, mocks me," Satan said. "At first, she was merely an annoying fly. I thought I'd toy with her. But now… It appears she has powers I have not foreseen, and because of this, my sense of humor is running thin."

Silence filled the room. Abyzou made a squelching sound out of the back of her throat, like a bathtub with a clogged drain.

"What?" Satan asked.

"Is it true she convinced Asag to blind himself?" Abyzou said.

Turning, Satan shouted over his shoulder, "Asag,
come out
."

Out of the second set of doors behind him, there was a loud thud against the wall. The demon Agares, an old man with red eyes, in charge of the 31 legions of hell, came out gripping the arm of the most hideous demon of them all. He had a dry tongue which hung out past his waist, and eight sets of arms with claws extended outward. Donovan could not forget the way Asag's eyes had bulged from their sockets, but now all that remained were two holes. Asag's gray, slimy skin appeared melted, as if somebody had poured acid upon him. His left foot was bloody and he limped as he walked.

Everyone gasped, and Donovan froze.
What kind of soul could do this damage to a demon? She must have powers.
He licked his lips at the thought of having such powers himself. But he could not query her. Satan wanted her, and his lord's needs had to be met before any of his own.

"Do you see this?" Satan hissed, each of his heads focusing on a different minion. "Do you see what the girl has done? Asag was supposed to collect her and bring her to me, but he failed me and she destroyed him. Feasting on human ichor will heal some of his injuries, but not all of them. I do not like this. I do not like it at all. And do you know what I do with things I do not like?"

The room stilled again. Everyone knew what happened when Satan was displeased, but even demons feared their lord. He threw back his head and howled again, and even the strong walls of his palace began to crumble around them. Donovan half feared the ceiling would cave in and he would be trapped for all eternity beneath the bones, unable to move. That was a lot worse than reincarnating or being able to move around freely. Finally, Satan stopped and focused on Lamashtu. She gasped in response and took a step back.

With a howl of anger, he seized her by the neck and hurled her across the throne room. She let out an inhuman screech as she hit the wall and bone dust fell on top of her from the shaking ceiling. Blood trickled down her fish face; she groaned and did not get up. Satan spun toward his other minions and they all gasped and stilled.

"I said I do not like this," Satan said. "What are you going to do about it?"

Agares released Asag. Wobbling, Asag stepped away from Satan. Ignoring his ally's retreat, Agares stepped toward his master. Satan whipped around and looked Agares up and down with all ten eyes, as if he contemplated throwing him against the wall too. Donovan subconsciously backed away because he was close to Agares.

"What?" Satan snapped.

"I will find the girl," Agares, the old man and the leader of legions, said. "I am stronger than even Asag. I also have the most control over First Beast and Second Beast."

"I need them now," Satan said. "Second Beast is good with the humans."

"Then you shall have me face the girl alone?" Agares asked. "A girl who did this?"

Waving at Asag's now demented face, Agares frowned.

"You will not be alone," Satan said.

"Then what do you expect me to do, Lord?" Agares asked. "Would you have me summon the thirty-one legions?"

With a growl, Satan stepped toward Agares and held him up by his shirt collar. Donovan winced. Something similar had happened to him many times, and it was painful. Unlike Lamashtu, Agares did not flinch at his lord's anger.

"I want you—" All five heads let out hissing breaths at once, "—to find the girl and bring her to me. When I have her, I will use my powers to keep her in hell. I will torture her until she forgets love and anything else. And I will find whoever is close to her and I will ruin them and make her watch every second of it
.
"

Nobody spoke until Agares stepped forward.

"I know where she is. Her cross may have saved her, but it gives her away too. I can sense its power. She is on the continent of Horace, on her way to the city of Gabriel," Agares said.

Satan threw Agares to the ground, but Agares raised his hand and his own powers slowed his decent. He landed gracefully on his feet.

"You wish for me to go there?" Agares asked.

"No. I wish for
all of you
to go there," Satan said. "I will take care of destroying the Earth. I want you — every one of you — to go to Gabriel and look for her."

All demons in the room, except for Agares, nodded. Even Lamashtu, who lay on the floor like a limp fish, nodded. Satan let out a grunt, whirled around, and sat down on his throne. He stared at his minions but did not appear pleased.

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