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They waited for the Skatman.
Clarence had gone on and on, as he always did, about the
different symbols on buildings and what they meant. It all just
sounded like free-form mishmash to Sasha. She stopped
listening just after he was warmed up. She had her own thoughts
to deal with.
The little, saloon-style building had been a shelter from the
savage storm felt almost comfortable, but the Abaddon taint was
as prevalent here as anywhere else. Winker was explaining, in
depth, about spiritual batteries when she heard the first sounds.
She wasn’t sure if she heard it, but Winker paused in mid-
sentence, freezing himself to hear. His elflike ears were keenly
listening, signifying that he had heard it as well. She was about
to whisper over the bloated pause when they heard it again.
The tell tale creaking of withered boards echoed. It was a
shuffling, above them on the roof. Something was up there. She
looked back to Winker but he had silently shifted himself to the
window. His papers already bundled under his arm, ready to
bolt at any second.
He peered out of the cracks of the has-been window and
began backing away. No words needed to be spoken; they were
in trouble. This building had to have a back door and Clarence
was heading for it.
The sound of collapsing brick and splintering wood came
from the back of the building. Rending claws were tearing at the
rooftop, and bits of dust and wood were falling as whatever-it-
was tore through.
Before Sasha could turn her head, she felt something grab
her. It was Clarence, half throwing, half leaping out the front
Clarence, through either experience or luck, had dove low
through the window just as something was jumping in, passing
them in mid-air. Sasha felt clutching hands miss her, and then
the hard crash of the ground outside. Looking around she saw
the unmistakable, flailing forms of the Hallows. She should
have been afraid, especially after the last attack had almost
ended her afterlife, but instead she felt her rage returning.
Clarence was up and running like a crippled spider, a flurry
of spindly legs over the street’s trash. Sasha saw a group of
them standing fifty feet away; they saw her and began to charge.
In rage, one had to pick battles, but this battle had picked her.
With a wicked jerk of her arm, a Hallow from the alley had
grabbed her. Huge hands led to long thin arms, only to end in
half a human torso and the head of a grinning drunkard. This
Hallow had her now, but the rage had her first, and something
had awoken within.
Sasha felt a power rush and screamed at the creature. The
Hallow exploded backwards, and away from her, in a mass of
clotting blood and flesh. The other Hallows saw the destruction
and slid to halt their attack. There had to be at least thirty of
them, but Sasha didn’t care. She turned to them and could feel
her eyes burning with power. The Hallows who paused at the
front were trampled by those behind them.
Sasha was hardly even in control now, her body shaking with
power. The rage inside her was the will to burn the world, a hate
so pure it sang.
Another blast of power came, and her arms flew out from her
sides, throwing energy at the approaching horde. Screaming
maws and groping flesh were met with a blast of force,
channeled through her body. Two Hallows at the horde’s front
exploded backwards, sending bone shards and hulks of muscle
ripping through the others.
Screams of pain and agony erupted from the wounded
Hallows. Six of them were killed, while ten more crumpled to
the ground, wounded and ripped open. The remainder tripped
and slid to a halt through the entrails of their fallen brethren.
Howls of hatred and fear were coming from the crowd. Sasha
turned her attention to the figures standing behind the attacking
She had not seen these white robed beings before. There
were three of them, standing near an alleyway. She watched
them back away as their robes reflected the dim light of the city.
More sounds behind her. Sasha spun low, arms swung wide
to embrace the enemy. Another horde of the Hallows was
fanning out in a wide line around her. She turned again back to
the blood-washed remainder of the other crowd who were taking
up a similar stance.
I’m being surrounded…
Clarence had vanished. It was probably for the best, there
was no sense in both off them getting into this predicament. She
could see, past the carrion, that the robbed ones were now
coming slowly down the street. Her rage was still flowing
freely, but she could sense the fatigue from the last two blasts.
She heard the sound of scuffling, and the writhing forms of
yet more Hallows came spilling onto the street from another
open alleyway. Reinforcements, the cavalry had arrived, too bad
she wasn’t on their side.
The Hallows would rush her; that was their style. She
remembered all too well their tactics from the last encounter,
only now she had begun to use her power. There were more
than fifty of them now, and they could feel their numbers. Each
one of the seething monstrosities began to swell with the
anticipation of having Sasha for their pleasure.
As sound came fast from high above her, a Hallow leapt
from the saloon rooftop with the speed of darkness. Sasha
turned, but she wasn’t fast enough. Its deformed body crashed
into her, nailing her to the ground. If she didn’t have the energy
running through her it probably would have broken her body, but
it didn’t. Instead, she was pinned under the creature’s long legs.
Great weeping sores covering his humanoid form opened,
allowing for thrusting genitals to crawl out of each orifice like
Her rage was still strong and she could have thrown it off,
but it was to late. The other Hallows had closed in. They were
grabbing her thrashing body and draining her strength away.
She could feel their fingers amongst a chorus of excited moans
and cries. The hate within her wasn’t enough; there was too
many of them. Hands were tightening on her throat. It got
harder to breathe. She could feel her self-slipping into
Then they were gone from around her.
A panicked Clarence pulled her to her feet.
Clarence Winker was not a heroic figure. He was not by any
means dashing. He was bumbling, in fact, but Abaddon was not
the place for those who were dashing. Dashing Wraiths drew
attention, and things that drew attention were consumed by the
predators here. Abaddon is not about the distinctly human
insanities like bravery or honor; it’s about survival.
To survive in Abaddon for a long time, you live like a rat,
perpetually hiding in the wreckage of the living under perpetual
twilight. You had to keep to buildings that you knew were safe
and forever hone your senses to danger.
Clarence Winker was a Wraith who had done that. Even he
didn’t know how long he had been keeping notes and lurking in
shadows, but he had learned a few things, to be sure.
He had learned where to travel in the city, and where not to
travel. He had learned some time previous that there was a large
Wulve den only a few blocks away. He knew that Wulves could
not resist a chase, if tempted, especially if a Wraith were to
strike at them or some of their young.
Wulves loved to run down the streets of the dead city,
barreling over the clutter with near-blinding speed, but they
can’t turn very well. They’re tenacious, and will go after you
until they can no longer see you. If you duck inside a building
or a small crawl space, they will sniff around and go back for
easier prey. They are opportunistic hunters. Therefore, if while
chasing one Wraith, they come across another Wraith, they will
just as quickly kill it as they would any other.
This was the essence of what Clarence had planned. Go
bother a cluster of Wulves, and then run out of there, leading
them back to where Sasha was surrounded. It was a simple plan.
However, the whole thing doesn’t seem so simple when you get
up from being pinned by Hallows, only to find three Wulves
tearing down the street, cascading over each other like a black,
There were two smaller ones and that were only eighteen feet
wide from curved leg to curved leg, but the larger one was closer
to twenty-five feet across. The two smaller ones had already
slammed their jaws around some of the Hallows and were
throwing their broken bodies into buildings. The larger Wulve
was more experienced; it knew to step on the Hallows, to cripple
them and come back for them later.
Sasha ran. Clarence took her off to the side towards a
waiting doorway; he moved as though he knew it. He jerked
Sasha around the immediate stairs in the foyer and back behind
them, making a makeshift barrier.
The papers were still falling back to the ground as they
crouched poised and ready. Outside, they could hear the rending
of Hallows and screams. Sasha could see Winkers gaunt frame
heaving under his coat from the intensity of running and the
labor of fear.
“Thanks.” She felt stupid for saying it; she owed him more
He was panting hard. “I should think…that perhaps…you
shouldn’t…attack things…that are chasing us.”
It wasn’t a joke but Sasha found herself smiling. It felt
foreign and strange and she stopped it immediately.
After a passing time, the sound of the Wulve frenzy was still
in the street, but they could tell that it wasn’t at their door, as it
had been only instants earlier. She stood up and slipped past
Clarence, his body slowly coming under control. He touched
her leg and met her eyes with implied action. She understood
and nodded. The Wulves were the strongest creatures that they
had seen so far; she was not to do anything stupid.
The cracked, tile floor was scattered with papers and refuse.
Ornate doors, once laden with stained glass, now hung like
skeletons in a slaughterhouse. Even with the noise of ripping
flesh, the crinkling sounds of paper under her feet were like
gunshots to Sasha. What took them mere moments to cross in
terror, now loomed endlessly ahead.
She scolded her self for being so paranoid, but she realized
she was weak. Destroying those Hallows had taken a lot out of
her, a lot more than she had thought; she had to be careful. She
glanced over her shoulder to see Clarence joining her in the
journey to look outside.
“I imagine they are rather miffed. I threw a table leg at them
in their den. I say, they didn’t seem to like that, rather not at
Sasha shook her head. “You could have been…”
“Consumed. Yes I know,” he said. “Rather a stupid thing to
Now Sasha trusted him.
The two of them looked out the once noble doorway into the
carnage of the street. Bodies of the Hallows were scattered
everywhere. Wulves were scooping up bodies with their out
hooked fangs and stuffing themselves, gorging on flesh. Sasha
and Winker could see that some of the Hallows weren’t dead
yet, but too crippled to get away. Sasha could not feel bad for
the Hallows, seeing them flail futile, broken limbs. There was a
sense of justice here.
Winker looked down the street. “Oh dear, I’ve never seen
those here before.”
Sasha followed Winker’s gaze to three trampled, white
figures lying in the street. They were the figures she had seen
skulking only moments before. The Wulves had caught them.
“I saw them before, controlling the Hallows,” she said.
“Ah, yes. Well that could mean a few things.” Winker’s
tone was that of the professor again. “They could be mages or
other practitioners, I understand that they sometimes are able to
control certain creatures here…”
“There!” Sasha said, louder than she should have. “I saw
one of them move. They’re not dead!”
Clarence was unphased by the discovery. “…of course if
they were experienced practitioners, you would think that they
would have been able to avoid the Wulves, or at the very least
get away. I wonder…” His voice trailed off into a ponderous
mutter. Sasha was fixed on the forms in the street.
Clarence brought her attention back to the Wulves. “I say!
See? Yes! They are carrying the Hallows back with them to
their den! This is most extraordinary! They are actually hording
the bodies for later. This is incredible! That shows surprising
foresight, don’t you think?”
Sasha wondered how he could be so glib as she watched
these monsters form a Hallow corpse pile, grabbing three or four
bodies each in their jaws. Within moments, all three lumbered
out of site down an alley. She waited until she couldn’t hear
them, then headed straight for the robed figures.
She walked out into the street, feeling vulnerable again. The
bodies of the Hallows were everywhere, scattered like toys about
the street. Clarence was fast behind her, also interested in the
The three had either fallen or been piled on each other, two
men and what had been a woman. The heads of the female and
one of the men were gone, but the Wulve had only severed an
arm of the third Wraith, and his blood spilled into the street. As
she looked down at him, the last of the light was fading from his
eyes. Maybe he could see her, but probably not. She knelt by
Clarence was busy looking over the other dead ones for
markings, jewelry, anything that could give him some indication
on who or what they were.
“Well, I don’t think they are mages, as such,” he said, “but,
they bear markings that look like angelic script. I think perhaps
these are some of same types of Wraiths that are members of the
Cult that took you and your daughter.”
“What? How can they be here?”
Clarence looked at her with a gentle patronization. “Oh, my
dear, there are many different sects that span across different
worlds. Quite often groups are thought to have committed
suicide when in fact they have only changed realms. If these are
followers of the angel Abaddon, he must be very strong within
this realm. No doubt, they are part of his legion here.”
Sasha took a moment. The notion seemed logical enough,
simple even, but it was still something that jarred her. Things
were starting to make sense, but reality had tripped again,
starting to stumble.
A familiar, foul stench filled the air. Babayan strutted from a
nearby alleyway. Not far behind, the flowing figure of the
Skatman came into view, stepping over the strewn bodies like a
Sasha and Clarence rose to meet him. The rooster stayed
wide, ever watching. He must have run to get the Skatman as
the Hallows attacked. Even the mighty Babayan couldn’t take
on that many Hallows, but she didn’t believe it was capable of
fear, only tactics. The Skatman had a Cheshire grin and a
twinkle in his eye.
“Ja been playin’, Moonchild. I-Ya!”
Clarence immediately burst into the story of the Hallow
attack and having the Wulves follow him back. The Skatman
listened, and watched Sasha wryly as the story unfolded. She
was looking back at the robbed corpses.
The Skatman snapped her out of darker thoughts with his
husky whisper. “Ja been fightin’ some o’ da holy demons. Ja
been seein’ some o’ da power, Moonchild.”
The flux of energy that had filled her felt so natural, felt so
normal that she hadn’t given it any thought, but now she realized
the extent of what she had done. It felt as natural as a dream, as
though she had had the power her whole life and just never
employed it, a long lost dance that she could still perform by
In life, she had had many dreams of being able to fly, or
being able to walk through walls. While in the dream, it didn’t
seem extraordinary in the least. Tearing those Wraiths in half
was as easy as passing the salt. The shock of it now was a wave
of realization. Her eyes met the inquisitive squint of the nodding
Clarence hadn’t been there to see the damage that she had
inflicted, but he wasn’t surprised by it. “Oh, you’ve gotten a
handle on your abilities have you? Jolly good! I imagine they
will be quite useful indeed!”
“But how am I…How can I…”
My God, what am I? she thought in horror.
Still nodding, the Skatman answered her. “Da power ja keep
is da power of Abaddon. Dey be takin’ da little one to da castle,
Craigdarroch Castle, for da crossin’.”
Sasha was snapped into the present. “Daphne! They going
to take her to Craigdarroch?”
“Ja be knowin’ dis place?” the Skatman asked.
“Yes I do! It’s in Victoria. It’s a huge, old mansion on a
hilltop, a tourist attraction. Why would they take her there?”
Clarence cut in. “I imagine they intend on performing the
same ritual on her as they did on you.”
“NO!” Sasha screamed. She couldn’t have it. She mustn’t
have her daughter suffer the same death she did. She couldn’t
create the image within her mind without feeling the rage begin
to grow within her.
“Ah, yes. Well, once we get to this castle then we can
interfere with the ceremony…”
Sasha saw what he meant and remembered her deal.
Suddenly she was anxious to get to the castle, anxious to die,
anxious to get the Skatman back. “We have a deal, that you will
save my daughter, correct?”
The Skatman’s grim smile came into place. “I-Ya,
Moonchild. Da promise of da Skatman.”
A long pause while the Skatman watched it sink in. He had
seen men shriek in terror faced with such a notion. The very
sight of this world had driven men to madness in mere moments.
But, here this woman stood, now able to grasp with cold
conviction her own death. In his own dark way, the Skatman
had gained respect for her.
“Not to be a bother, but there is the issue that we don’t really
know where this house is, do we? I mean, how does one find a
house like that here? Taking for granted that the house even
exists within this realm,” Winker said.
The Skatman’s eyes were roving over the fallen Hallows.
Movement in a building betrayed a Hallow lurking within. A
quick motion and Babayan released a horrific cry, flying into the
The rooster’s cries were mixed with the Hallow’s as it
dragged the sexually twisted form into the street. It had the body
of a woman, gaunt and black like a shriveled corpse, except for
the leather fetish attire that had been stitched into her skin.
Babayan had the Hallow by the hair; she was shrieking with
rage. The Skatman walked towards his familiar’s prey, pulling
the same Thetacheric Hunting shard from his pocket once again.
“Don’cha worry, Mista’ Winka’. Da Skatman be havin’
ways o’ findin’ dis place.”
Sasha didn’t think she could feel pity for the Hallow, but she
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