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Shadow Slayers (Excerpt)
Quiet had come at last to the streets of the city. Well, at least it wasn't as noisy as it was twenty hours a day. The demon could have done with more quiet, but it was adequate enough that it could emerge without causing too much of a stir.
It wasn't that impressive a being, this demon. Others have called its kin Boggarts. That is what it is, a Boggart. And like all its kin, this Boggart was just a big blob of shadow with two globes of light for eyes. The only obvious sign of individuality among the Boggart are the color of its eyes. And even then, the color of their eyes is a matter of choice. Take this Boggart for example. It has bright violet eyes because it liked the color violet. Its sister liked pink, typical of a girl.
Boggarts are often taken as harmless by the unsuspecting prey. Adorable even. Some have approached a Boggart to pet it. Others required the Boggart to approach them. Only so very few smart ones have thought to run away. And even then, it would be too late.
The blob of shadow bounced out from the alley, glad to be rid of the foul stench of the homeless. Homeless humans never sat well in the Boggart's stomach. But sometimes there's no choice. You can't be picky when food was low and you had to remain in the shadows.
Sniffing around, the Boggart was pleased to find that there was the perfect number of options to choose from out and about. Sometimes, there would be too much around and it had to skip a meal. Drawing attention was not on the top of the Boggart's list. Boggarts might seem like wild animals, but they are in fact sentient creatures like any other of the demons that roam the earth and remain hidden from the human population. It had heard that there was danger nearby. A hunter had come to stamp it out just like it would any of its demon brethren.
The Boggart shivered and trembled at the thought of meeting this rare breed of human whose sole purpose was to disrupt the food chain.
The Boggart sniffed again and found the perfect target among the options. A female. That's what it smelled. And one around fourteen years old. Now that's rare. Not a lot of humans that young would be about at this time, making them a delicacy.
Not wanting to miss the opportunity for this treat, the Boggart crept about, crawling while keeping itself flat low. The female was far from the other humans, far enough that none of the others would notice when she is hunted. The Boggart caught sight of a leather black boot carrying the female's sent. Attached to the leather was the leg, clothed in dark denim overshadowed by the fabric of a black trench coat.
The Boggart stalked its prey a few lengths more before it pounced. Suddenly, the human spun at her heels and threw something in the face of the Boggart. With a yell of agony, the demon reeled back, but the salt was already burning its skin. When it landed on the floor, poisonous silver pierced its shadowy flesh and its body dispersed into trickles of smoke.
Fourteen-year-old Stacy Lawson stared coldly at the remains of the Boggart she slew as they disappeared into nothing. She pulled her dagger out of the concrete and sheathed it into the secret compartment of her trench coat with its sisters. Despite wearing both a trench coat and a black wool, turtleneck sweater, she felt the biting cold of night and shivered.
Fighting against the frost, Stacy pulled out her phone, scrolled through her contacts and made the call.
"Hey," she said into the device. "It's me. You were right. It was a Boggart, and not a very strong one too."
"You sound a little disappointed, Stacy," said the Australian man on the end of the line. She could hear him typing away on his computer, no doubt sending a report to the higher-ups.
Stacy shrugged, although she knew that the Australian man couldn't see. It didn't really matter to her whether a target was a weak Boggart or a strong Demon Prince. In her eyes, all of them deserved death. This view of hers became very strong with the death of her mentor and adoptive mother, Helen Lawson, Artemis to the people in their line of work.
Helen Lawson was a huntress sorcerer who freelanced her skills. Like most sorcerers, she upheld the duty of ridding the world of creatures of darkness, such as Vampires, Ghouls, Fiends, and Boggarts. Now Stacy, Helen's apprentice and adopted daughter, found at what remained of an orphanage, was doing the same in Helen's place.
"By the way, I just got a note from the higher ups saying they found someone to mentor you," said the man on the phone. "Oh don't give me that!"
He heard Stacy scoff wryly. For the two months since her former mentor's death, she had been put under the tutelage of three. One was a priest, an exorcist licensed by the church. The second was a Druid who owned a flower shop in this very city. Finally, the third to attempt teaching her was the same like Stacy and Helen, a warrior who was also a wealthy lawyer. None of them lasted very long.
The priest was too old fashioned and kept getting under her skin about her dress and how she dealt with the creatures of shadows, firmly believing that girls should stick to healing and making pretty flower fields. That was all he was really willing to teach. The Druid was just too much happy sunshine and always made this irritating cheerful grandma voice like she was some kind of toddler's TV show host. As for the lawyer, well he got a little bit too ambitious. And insane. Right now, that lawyer's trapped at some psychiatric ward, missing his two front teeth, for attempting to bring about the apocalypse through an army of gummy bears. Stacy used what magic she learned and sealed the lawyer's powers with the front teeth she kicked out of the lawyer's mouth.
Needless to say, the bureaucrats were having a hard time finding someone to finish Stacy's training. She said that she could learn on her own just fine, but they would have none of it.
"Who's it going to be this time?" Stacy said.
"Well, he's a - " the man began.
"He?" Stacy interrupted. "It's a guy?"
Stacy didn't like men being of higher position of power over her. It was something that she had inherited from Helen who was also a passionate feminist.
"Yes, he's a guy," answered the man, knowing how the Lawson women felt about men of higher rank than them. "He's a very powerful sorcerer who's actually pretty famous in Europe and Asia."
Stacy scoffed. Being a powerful sorcerer meant that he probably didn't do a lot of legwork, and was more of a book person.
"His main field, I think, is Taoist sorcery."
"A necromancer?" Stacy spat. "You're pairing me up with a necromancer?"
She hated necromancy for what it could do. Raising the dead. Calling on spirits. The thought of such things as possible made her skin crawl. This reaction to necromancy had gotten stronger since the death of her master.
"Hey, hey, hey," went the man. "Taoist sorcery isn't just about summoning spirits and making corpses hop around. Besides, he grew up in England and was actually tutored by a descendant of Merlin before he finished his training in Japan."
"So, he's a Brit," Stacy said, not enthusiastic with the fact.
"Hey, what's wrong with being a Brit?" the man demanded. "Besides, this is a good opportunity to get back to your roots!"
"And what is that supposed to mean?" she snapped. "I'll have you know, my birth parents were Korean! You can be such a bigot."
"Like you're one to talk," the man retorted.
Behind her, Stacy could hear scurrying around. The cold night air became even colder and her cell phone was chiming a special warning, an app courtesy of the Union. Stacy sighed. These demons are so rude.
"Hey, we'll talk about this later," she said, brushing her hand over the hilts of her many knives and daggers held in her coat. She chose the wood stick with a foam grip handle. "Looks like I'm doing some Pro Bono work."
She hung up and stuffed the phone into her pocket before turning around casually to face what was behind her. There were Boggarts everywhere, and at the head was a trio of ghouls, shadowy figures and a higher level species to the Boggart.
Stacy craned her neck, raised her wand pointing to the sky.
"So comes the light of the judging stars. May these heavenly spirits shine bright in pure night. Cleanse this earth of all things vile, and bring hope and salvation to those who seek it."
Globes of light rose from the ground and surrounded Stacy, illuminating her face made serene by the warmth her spell brought. Of course, the civilians saw the light and felt its warmth, but their eyes glazed over, entranced by the magic that Helen Lawson taught Stacy. They would not remember witnessing the miracle.
But where the light gave comfort to the humans, it burned the creatures of the dark. They recoiled and hissed as they retreated. However, there would be no escaping tonight. None of them will survive.
Find the full novel here:
- Shadow Slayers by Victor Kwok
Stacy Lawson is a warrior who, along with her Taoist Sorcerer partner, Nicholas Ling, sets out to investigate strange happenings surrounding a new popular brand of Ouija boards. Who is behind these boards? And what are they after? Also in paperback.