Home > Bond of Passion (Demonic #21)

Bond of Passion (Demonic #21)
Author: Larissa Ione

 

 

One Thousand and One Dark Nights


Once upon a time, in the future…

 

I was a student fascinated with stories and learning.

I studied philosophy, poetry, history, the occult, and

the art and science of love and magic. I had a vast

library at my father’s home and collected thousands

of volumes of fantastic tales.

 

I learned all about ancient races and bygone

times. About myths and legends and dreams of all

people through the millennium. And the more I read

the stronger my imagination grew until I discovered

that I was able to travel into the stories... to actually

become part of them.

 

I wish I could say that I listened to my teacher

and respected my gift, as I ought to have. If I had, I

would not be telling you this tale now.

But I was foolhardy and confused, showing off

with bravery.

 

One afternoon, curious about the myth of the

Arabian Nights, I traveled back to ancient Persia to

see for myself if it was true that every day Shahryar

(Persian: شهريار, “king”) married a new virgin, and then

sent yesterday's wife to be beheaded. It was written

and I had read that by the time he met Scheherazade,

the vizier's daughter, he’d killed one thousand

women.

 

Something went wrong with my efforts. I arrived

in the midst of the story and somehow exchanged

places with Scheherazade – a phenomena that had

never occurred before and that still to this day, I

cannot explain.

 

Now I am trapped in that ancient past. I have

taken on Scheherazade’s life and the only way I can

protect myself and stay alive is to do what she did to

protect herself and stay alive.

 

Every night the King calls for me and listens as I spin tales.

And when the evening ends and dawn breaks, I stop at a

point that leaves him breathless and yearning for more.

And so the King spares my life for one more day, so that

he might hear the rest of my dark tale.

 

As soon as I finish a story... I begin a new

one... like the one that you, dear reader, have before

you now.

 

 

Glossary


Aegis, The—Society of human warriors dedicated to protecting the world from evil.

 

Carceris—The jailers of the underworld. All demon species send representatives to serve terms in the Carceris. Carceris members are responsible for apprehending demons accused of violating demon law and for acting as guards in the Carceris prisons.

 

Fallen Angel—Believed to be evil by most humans, fallen angels can be grouped into two categories: True Fallen and Unfallen. Unfallen angels have been cast from Heaven and are earthbound, living a life in which they are neither truly good nor truly evil. In this state, they can, rarely, earn their way back into Heaven. Or they can choose to enter Sheoul, the demon realm, in order to complete their fall and become True Fallens, taking their places as demons at Satan’s side.

 

Harrowgate—Vertical portals, invisible to humans, which demons use to travel between locations on Earth and Sheoul. Very few beings own or can summon their own personal Harrowgates.

 

Resurrected—Those who, until recently, existed as souls inside Sheoul-gra. Upon its destruction, the souls returned to their former physical bodies, resurrecting to fight in Azagoth’s war. Survivors of the battle now walk the realms with their memories intact, many seeking revenge against those who killed them.

 

S’genesis—Final maturation cycle for Seminus demons. Occurs around one hundred years of age. A post-s’genesis male is capable of procreation and possesses the ability to shapeshift into the male of any demon species.

 

Sheoul—Demon realm. Located on its own plane deep in the bowels of the Earth, accessible to most only by Harrowgates and hellmouths.

 

Sheoul-gra—Formerly a holding tank for demon souls. A realm that existed independently of Sheoul, it was overseen by Azagoth, also known as the Grim Reaper. It is currently under reconstruction.

 

Sheoulic—Universal demon language spoken by all, although many species also speak their own language.

 

Ufelskala—A scoring system for demons, based on their degree of evil. All supernatural creatures and evil humans can be categorized into the five Tiers, with the Fifth Tier comprised of the worst of the wicked.

 

 

Prologue


About a dozen years ago…

 

 

“Eyeballs! Kidneys! Gargantua bile ducts! Get ‘em here, hot, fresh, and deep-fried in genuine manfat! Get yer crisssspy eyeballs!”

Holy beer-battered shit on a stick, Tavin hated demon festivals.

He was a fucking assassin, and yet even he couldn’t stomach the insanity that went on at the massive events. Events where tens of thousands of demons of all sizes and species gathered to hawk their wares, showcase their skills, or slaughter as many things as they could in inventive ways.

At least the fests were divided into surprisingly orderly districts according to both population and the Ufelskala, a scale of evil ranging from one to five.

Demons from species categorized as Tiers One and Two got their own tiny sections to do their relatively non-evil things like sell vegetables, sharpen horns or hooves, or give orgasms with their minds. Tiers Three, Four, and Five demons got much larger areas to do things like play grotesque carnival games, hire assassins, or buy and sell cursed artifacts and implements of torture. You even got to “try before you buy!”

He knew that because some eyeless, snaggletoothed chap was currently yelling it in his ear as he strode past the dude’s stall. An ugly, squat booth fashioned from a moist gray hide stretched over the rib cage of some massive creature. And, no, Tavin didn’t want to try that bone saw on any of the victims huddled in a cage nearby.

Damn, Sheoul sucked. Every time he started thinking the human realm was a cesspit, he got some sort of assignment that sent him to a demon festival and remembered right quick that most of the human realm wasn’t so bad.

Renewing his focus on the mission, he tuned out the people peddling their goods, the wet sounds, the shrieks of pain. People were butts to balls in thoroughfares as wide as a four-lane highway, and he had to navigate carefully to avoid pissing off a twelve-foot-tall Gorehorn demon or getting a knife between the ribs.

The aroma of roast fleshebiest seasoned with a fragrant Neethul herb told him he was nearing his objective.

He slipped through the crowd, slowing as he caught glimpses of spiky, black and gold Neethul armor. He’d have to get past the sentries to enter the Neethul camp, but that wouldn’t be the tricky part. The tricky part would be locating his mark.

Gristlen the Unseen was a bit of a hermit, not often seen in public—hence the name—unlike the rest of the mercenary clan members. Tavin’s research indicated that Gristlen, a high-ranking Neethul royal, served the clan from a desk, dealing with their financials and scheduling.

Had to suck. The Neethul were Fifth Tier demons on the Ufelskala, about as evil as underworlders came. Neethul didn’t want to be behind desks. They wanted to be out causing pain, fighting, and running slavery operations.

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