This is just a short chapter. I originally had it as the introduction of the novel, because it shows what kind of person Adrian is.
“Pathetic!” Adrian taunted the demon as it tossed a couple books from the shelf behind him. He easily sidestepped them and continued drawing his marks on the over polished wooden floor. He used to use chalk, but carpet and slick tiles and glossy hardwoods were terrible for rune work. He now used shoe polish. It was nearly impossible to get up once drawn, and that was good for him, but bad for whoever owned the floor. Not that he cared how much trouble it was for them. They had brought this on themselves.
“I’ve seen ghosts stronger than you,” he continued as a painting bounced off the stones of the hearth. “Hardly even a poltergeist, you are a disgrace.” He was provoking it on purpose. He needed it to materialize fully before he could destroy it.
The demon began to dismantle the room in earnest, as a midnight black mist began to coalesce from the corners and drift toward Adrian where he stood in the center of the room. His devil trap was almost complete; he just needed to pour the ring of salt.
The temperature plummeted as the fog swirled and pulsed, chairs tipped, a mirror shattered where it hung on the wall and blood and slime began to drip from the wallpaper.
“Slightly better, but you are going to have to try even harder.” A shriek filled the air and the stench of rotting meat and sulfur filled the room. The love-seat the middle-aged owners of the house sat on was thrown back with so much force the only thing that kept it from toppling over was the fact that it hit the wall first.
“What are you doing? Are you mad?” The man held onto his frail little wife as the chaos escalated around them. He knew how this must look to them, a strange man just appearing on their doorstep at 2:30 this morning, telling them he can solve the problems that had been plaguing them. Neither he nor his wife would have ever told anyone about the strange things happening in their home.
It had probably started simply, almost innocently; things would not be where you left them. The car keys would show up on top of the refrigerator, or the box of cereal would turn up in the upstairs bathroom. Nothing to be afraid of; but it would escalate quickly, knocks, raps and bangs in the night turned into footsteps up and down the stairs, the television would turn itself off and on at 3 in the morning, and then the furniture would begin to rearrange itself. Finally, the walls would bleed and the smell of death filled every corner of the house. Their minister would never believe them and they were too afraid to approach a priest.
“I seem to remember I told you to sit down and shut your mouth,” Adrian snapped. This was the tricky part; he did not have time to be babysitting a couple of fools.
“Still not impressing me.” Adrian turned his full attention back to the creature that was now manifesting inside the circle. A couple more seconds and he could close the trap. He stepped over the salt ring and sprinkled the last of the salt onto the floor. A brief flash of blue light and a faint orange glow in the floor indicated he had had succeeded. He had it where he wanted it now.
It was an ugly one, though not particularly powerful. He heard the house owners gasp in horror and the wife began to sob when it finally materialized. The floor shook and bits of plaster sifted down from the ceiling. This was one insurance claim he would not want to have to explain. Of course, it wasn’t his problem.
“You!” The demon bellowed. “You dare set foot in…” It was cut short, a sizzling sound followed by a pop, like your ears make when you go up a mountain, and then it was still and silent. The couple looked up, blinking in shock, everything was broken or toppled, but the man knelt calmly in the middle of it all, casually sweeping a pile of oily looking ash into a glass vial.
“Give me the book,” Adrian demanded. Not even looking up from his work.
“B-book,” the woman stammered. “I don’t know what you mean.” His dark eyes regarded her coldly as the man rose.
“Give me the book you used to summon the demon.” He did not pretend to be sympathetic, he did not try to console them or reassure them that everything was going to be OK. “You were both marked by a demon.” Adrian stated flatly. “Not this one, a weaker one. However, like lions, the stronger one takes what it wants. You conjured a demon and I need the book you used to do it.”
“We thought it was just a joke, a great game to play on Halloween.” The man pleaded. “We didn’t think it would really work.”
“You reasons are of no interest to me,” Adrian snapped. “Give me the book and I will remove the marks from you both. With them on you, you will be a beacon to the foul things. This was not a particularly strong one, others will come.”
“I will get it,” the woman said meekly, standing on shaking legs she went to a shelf.
Adrian flipped through the pages quickly, satisfied that she had given him what he asked for; he slipped it into the pocket of his coat and turned to leave. He paused at the door, as if remembering something, turned, laid his hands on both of their foreheads. A sharp pain shot through them both and they clung to each other again.
“You no longer bear the mark of the demon. I suggest you burn some sage before the sun sets tomorrow.”
“Damn it!” Adrian threw the book against the wall, not caring where it landed. Samantha sat quietly on the sofa, thin arms wrapped around her legs, head bowed over her knees. She didn’t have to ask. It wasn’t the grimoire.
“I’m sorry, sweetie.” Adrian sat on the couch and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, pulling her closer. “I’ll find it, I swear I will.”
“Promise me, Daddy,” Samantha whispered quietly, look. “Promise me you will not let them take me.”
“I promise,” Adrian said grimly.