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|Slowly, Chris began to wake. He felt as if a blanket of fog had descended upon his mind and prevented him from thinking. However, he had begun to fight the strange compulsion to remain asleep and was slowly regaining consciousness. He was vaguely aware of voices speaking to each other, but they seemed muffled and hardly audible. Likewise, his eyelids felt so heavy that they could have been sealed shut with lead. As he continued to fight his drowsiness, the voices became more and more clear and he was able to move ever so slightly.
�-took your sweet time.� A voice said irritably. It sounded feminine, but Chris�s head was so fuzzy that he wasn�t sure.
�I wanted to wait until we were away from all of the other people.� Another voice replied. Chris immediately recognized it as Maria�s.
�Really? Was that all?� The voice was practically dripping with sarcasm.
�He�s not my type.� Maria stated. �Now, it�s time for you to pay up for the delivery.�
�You got paid already.� Another voice said flatly. It was definitely a guy this time, Chris thought.
�Then why is my pocket still empty?� Maria objected.
�You had fun trying to seduce that demon, didn�t you?�
�That�s part of the payment, yes,� Maria admitted, �But where�s the money I was promised?�
�We paid you in advance for Kou, but you failed to capture him.� The guy stated. �Therefore, we�re using the money that you owed us in refund for payment of bringing in Chris.�
�Stingy.� She retorted.
By now Chris was more aware of himself. He could hear the voices a lot more clearly then before, and his mind was slowly shaking off the last bit of the strange, lulling call back into to sleep. His wrists and ankles were bound tightly by something cold and hard, and whenever he moved slightly, he heard the clinking of chains. However, he wasn�t chained down to a table or the ground. Instead, he realized he was pinned upright against cold hard stone. Judging by the draft he was feeling, his shirt had been taken away, though he still had his pants on at least. With a great deal of effort, Chris opened his eyes halfway. His vision was slightly blurred, but he was able to see enough to go by. He was trapped in a very dark room, lit up by a row of candles along both the left and right sides of the stone walls. On the far end was a set of stairs that ran up the wall to a closed door high above the upper right. In the middle of the room was a table where two black robed people were arguing with Maria.
�Who�s the one asking for a ridiculously high price?� The female voice came from the shorter of the black robed duo. Her back was turned, so Chris couldn�t see her face, but there was something familiar about the voice and the way she spoke.
�I put myself into considerable danger each time you ask me for one of these jobs, you know.� Maria pointed out.
�And in return you get to do whatever you want with them once you got them under your control.� The thin male robbed figure added. The man�s voice sounded familiar to Chris as well.
�It�s part of my payment, remember Famine?� Maria smiled.
�Hmph.� The thin man, the one who Maria called Famine, crossed his arms.
�You�re degrading all women with your disgusting little habits, Tesstarosa.� The black robed girl said crossly.
�I�ll do whatever I want, Miss Plague.� Maria responded. �I don�t really care what everyone thinks. I�m just going to keep on enjoying playing with all those gorgeous hunky men.�
�You�re paying a little too much attention to your hormones, Maria.� Plague placed her hands on her waist. �If you�d stop thinking about what�s down a guy�s pants, you could really start earning a good living with your talents.�
�But I am living, Plague.� Maria chuckled.
�You won�t be able to change her mind about this, Plague.� Famine told her. �It�s not really doing any harm, and it doesn�t do any harm to her work for us.�
�Fine.� Plague said grumpily.
�And if you�d like to give me a tip, I�d be happy to be on my way.� Maria flashed her dimpled smile.
�Pay her Plague.� Famine muttered.
�Up yours!� Plague snapped, but bug into her robe and pulled out a wad of cash. �There, hope you-� she mumbled the rest, making Chris unable to hear.
�My, you have a vivid imagination.� Maria said with mock wide eyed fascination.
�Beat it already!� Plague waved her arms threateningly.
�But before that, you should let go of Chris and wake him up.� Famine added.
�I�m no amateur.� Maria said with a dignified stance. �I always do a thorough job.� Maria turned and looked straight at Chris. He felt a slight sense of vertigo when their eyes met, then it passed when Maria broke eye contact. �It looks like he already broke free.�
The two robed figures turned around quickly, and Chris gasped. He immediately recognized the faces under the black hood. The two robed figures were Jonathan Hunter and Paige Matthews, his schoolmates!
�How did he do it?� Hunter asked with a slightly puzzled expression on his face. Hunter�s white eyes, which Chris had always shrugged off before, gave him goosebumps.
Maria shrugged her slender shoulders. �Who knows? He�s the first human being I kissed that had been in close contact with a demon. And, if you didn�t remember, Kou was more or less immune to my kiss, so maybe it passed on to Chris.�
�At least we managed to tie him down before he woke up.� Mathews said, walking over to Chris. �Otherwise we might�ve had to use force.�
�Paige,� Chris�s voice was barely a whisper, �Why?� His throat felt as if it was clogged up, and his heart started to beat fast. What was going on here? Why was Paige and Hunter wearing those black robes? Where was he? Why was he tied against a wall? These and a hundred other questions flashed through his mind as he looked into Paige�s face
�Why?� Mathews echoed. �Because we need you to draw out your demon friend, that�s why.�
�Kou?� Chris choked.
�No, not Kou.� Hunter said. �We want the monster living inside of him.�
�Because that�s what we Satanists do; worship demons.�
* * *
Kou stepped lightly, (Well, as lightly as he could since he was over 8 feet high and several hundred pounds,) down the sidewalk, somewhat anxious to get home. He felt strange ever since he left the library. First, his face had become hot, and then his head began to spin. Now it felt as if the whole world was pressing in on him. A normal person might�ve shrugged this off, but Kou hadn�t felt hot, dizzy or particularly small in years. And there was that nagging feeling in his gut that something was terribly wrong.
And it turned out that something HAD gone wrong, for as soon as he opened the door to his house, his father rushed over to Kou and began feeling Kou all over.
�Kou! Thank God you�re alright! Are you okay? Are you hurt?� Lou blurted out rapidly.
�D-Dad!� Kou took an involuntary step backwards, surprised by his father�s sudden questions. �What�s wrong Dad?�
�This!� Lou held up a folded slip of paper that was slightly crumpled from the sheer grip Lou had on it. Without another word, Lou thrust it into Kou�s hand and began pacing around nervously.
Quietly, Kou opened the letter and began reading it out loud. �Demon, we have taken away your chosen one. Seek us out if that is what you wish, for if you do find us, we shall purge you of that mortal body and offer you the human in which we are preparing as our sacrifice.� Kou stared at the letter. He read it over and over again in his mind, but each time he couldn�t believe what it said.
�When I came home, that thing was in the mailbox.� Lou said, still pacing. �Somehow, someone found out about you, and unless I�m mistaken, they�ve kidnapped Chris.�
�No�� Kou said in disbelief.
�This is bad�This is WORSE then bad.� Lou muttered to himself. �Dammit, what do we do?�
�We go rescue Chris.� Kou crumpled the letter and started off towards the door.
�Kou, no!� Lou said, placing himself between Kou and the door.
�Dad, I have to save him!� Kou tried to go around his father, but Lou moved to block him.
Kou stood up straight, looking down menacingly at his father. �Move.� He was easily a foot and a half taller, weighed over three times heavier and could easily overpower his dad. His muscles all tensed up, making him appear impossibly huge. His chest heaved and stretched the cotton of his shirt. His arms pumped up and filled his sleeves to the limit. His neck threatened to rip the collar of his shirt and veins were popping out everywhere.
Lou�s stand began to weaken. �I won�t let you get yourself killed.�
�It�ll take a lot to kill me Dad.� Kou said.
�I guess there�s nothing I can do to stop you then.� Lou said, then reluctantly stepped aside.
Kou took two steps forward�then whirled around and grabbed his father�s hand, which was about to plunge into his pocket. �You can�t fool me Dad.� Kou said coldly. �I can smell right through your acting to know what you were planning to do. I�m going to save Chris, and I don�t care if I get killed in the process.� Then, very carefully, since he still loved his father very much, he threw Lou across the room and into the wall. Without waiting for Lou to hit the ground, Kou turned and ran out the door and into the night.
* * *
�W-worship�?� Chris echoed.
�That�s correct.� Hunter nodded.
Chris gave a rueful laugh, more to put up a show then anything else. �I doubt Kou would just sit on a throne and let you guys grovel before him.� Chris speculated. �It�s not his style.�
�That�s where we come into the picture.� Mathews said. There was no hint of the person Chris remembered from his childhood in that voice. �We�re going to turn Kou back into his true demon self.�
�You wouldn�t!� Chris gasped. The mere memory of what happened when Kou turned into a demon the last time almost made his heart beat so fat that it could burst out of his chest.
�He�ll be a true demon once more,� Hunter said chillingly, �And we will serve his every need until he returns to his world. We exist only for finding stray demons that have lost sight of their true power and reveal them to the truth.�
Chris stared at them in disbelief, and then hung his head. �I trusted you guys.� Chris said lowly. �I even considered you as friends�but this�this is madness!�
�Maybe,� Mathews said, �Or maybe not. One thing for certain is that you won�t survive to see the next morning.�
Chris felt his body stiffen up when he realized what they had in mind for him.
�War!� Hunter turned and yelled.
�What?� A muffled voice shouted back.
�Get down here! It�s almost time to start the ritual!�
�Alright, alright!� The door at the top of the stairs burst open. �No need to get yer undies in bunch.� A big bodied black robed man walked through the door and climbed down the steps. It wasn�t until the man was at the bottom and turned to face Hunter and Paige that Chris saw the man�s face.
�Lucas?� Chris gaped. �Lucas Warrens?� He had never would have guessed it. Lucas was handsome, athletic and the star quarterback of the school football team. The fact that light and carefree Lucas was part of this insanity had shocked Chris to his core.
�Please, when I�m in this getup, call me War.� Lucas grinned somewhat evilly.
Mathews rolled her eyes towards the ceiling. �I�m surrounded by idiots.�
�You�ve just noticed?� Hunter raised an eyebrow. �I guess it takes an idiot to notice an idiot.�
�You shut up!� Mathews snapped.
�Anyways, when do we start?� Lucas asked, crossing his thick forearms across his chest.
�Now.� A chilling new voice said. Everyone turned and looked at the source of the voice. It was sitting quietly in the shadows just underneath the stairs. He had been so quiet and still that Chris didn�t even notice him until he spoke. The person sitting on the chair in the corner wore a black robe like the others, but the front of the hood was pulled down, so the insufficient light hid the person�s face completely. Chris guessed it was a guy, but wasn�t sure. However, further observation revealed that whoever was under the robe was quite bulky from the way the robe flared out in various places.
�Death, don�t do that.� Lucas said, thumping his chest. �You almost scared me half to, well, death!�
�I wonder why we call him Death then?� Mathews said sarcastically.
Lucas returned an annoyed look �Let�s just get this over with, alright?�
�Very well then.� Hunter said. He reached into his robes and pulled out a wicked looking dagger. �Let us begin the ritual.�
* * *
Kou ran. And he ran. And he ran. The problem was the fact that he didn�t exactly know where he was running to. The letter didn�t tell him anything about where Chris was being held, so Chris would have to tear the whole city apart, building by building. After a moment of mulling over the problem, Kou figured the logical starting point was the supermarket. That was where Chris had said he was going to after he had left Kou in the library, so there might be a clue somewhere around that region.
When Kou reached the supermarket, however, there wasn�t a trace of Chris anywhere inside of around it. �Of course he�s not here.� Kou muttered angrily to himself. �They already grabbed him!� Kou resisted the urge to break things, especially in such a public area. He was already attracting quite a few stares by the normal shoppers, and he suspected that smashing newspaper stands and breaking telephone poles would attract even more attention.
Kou took deep breaths to calm himself down, causing his massive pectorals to move up and down. His nose caught a whiff of a very familiar scent. Kou�s eyes snapped open when an idea struck him. �That�s it!� He snapped his thick fingers. He could follow Chris�s scent! He read about bloodhounds doing it all the time, and with Kou�s sensitive nose, he could do the same!
Kou walked slowly, his nose carefully sniffing to see if he could still follow the faintly lingering smell of Chris. At first, it was awkward, trying to smell something that was very faint in the air and moving at the same time. The first two minutes Kou walked right into a trash can (Actually, he stepped on the trash can and flattened it just like a coke can.) Kou had almost been hit by several cars as well when he tried to cross the street. After awhile, he began to get used to the whole process and started to jog and sniff at the same time. There was something about Chris�s scent that stuck vividly in Kou�s mind, and that scent beckoned to him. Already he felt his mouth water and his loins come alive, but his mind was more focused on following the trail.
Eventually, he came to a dimly lit street that was in dire need of cleaning. Why Chris was in such a place, Kou had no clue. He did catch a new scent in the air. It was very familiar, but Kou couldn�t put his mind on what it was. It didn�t matter one bit though, because Chris was the one he needed to find. He ignored the new scent and followed Chris�s trail once again. Soon, he was begun to pick up the pace, going faster and faster. Soon, he was running faster then any Olympic runner, all while keeping the trail. He raced down streets, following Chris�s scent straight, left, right, wherever it went. His breathing became frenzied, and his blood boiled from rage.
The trail ended at a non-descript house. It was about one story high, its walls were painted a faded white and the lawn was slightly overgrown. Chris�s trail went right up the walkway and into that house.
Kou gave a beast-like howl of triumph. He had finally tracked down his prey. And now all that was left was to kill it.
* * *
Hunter, Lucas and Mathews began chanting in a strange language that contained some ugly and vile sounding words. Chris couldn�t really understand what they were saying, but it didn�t take much guessing to figure out what they were doing.
Hunter raised his knife and increased the pace of his chant, the silver blade gleaming in the candlelight. Abruptly the knife fell and slashed Chris�s bare chest.
Chris cried out in pain as the knife cut through his skin. The cut wasn�t fatal, but it hurt like hell. The knife didn�t stop right there, however, as Hunter slashed again and again until he slashed a pentagram right on Chris�s chest.
Lucas and Mathews stepped up then. They both took a paintbrush and dipped the tips into the blood that was seeping out of Chris�s wounds. They then began drawing obscure symbols on Chris�s face and body with his own blood as paint. When they were done, Chris was covered from head to waist in blood, like a scene from a horror movie. The irony was that this wasn�t a movie; this was all real.
Their chanting began to reach a high point then, as their movements and words came quicker and more frenzied. Finally, Hunter raised his dagger high, prepared for the final blow.
It didn�t come, however, because at that moment a bone chilling howl shook the house, followed by a the sound of something crashing up above.
�He�s here�� Death voiced.
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