“Alright, everyone, great job!” Kelly gave the infernal legion a clap of her hands, and the assorted demons beamed at her, smiling with whatever they had that served as mouths. The temperature in the studio was nearly a hundred and ten degrees, and Kelly felt sweat beading her brow.
Hellfire was brutal, and she’d been avoiding using it. After the run in with the Angel, however, she’d decided that it’d be good to get some practice with it in herself. In this area, at least, her students greatly exceeded her.
Clifford had gotten back to her during the class. Actual classes to learn sword fighting were rare, and most of them were focused around fencing, which apparently wasn’t much good for her burning blade. According to him, it was closer to something called an arming sword, and he’d attached some YouTube videos that might help. She made a note to watch them later.
Shannon had also texted her, wanting to grab dinner, but Kelly responded to put her off until tomorrow. She still hadn’t figured out what to do about Shannon. Her friend clearly had some issues that needed working though, and part of Kelly wanted to get her to open up about them, see if she could maybe help somehow.
Another part of Kelly wanted to get Shannon in front of Chemosh for some kind of infernal deal that would give Shannon everything she thought she wanted.
That’s not the only impulse problem you have, Kelly reminded herself. She played the earlier conversation with Chemosh in her head. She’d been loud, brash, demanding, in his face. It had ended up being good, exactly what she needed to at least make some progress getting the demon to talk to her, but…but it’s not you. With all of that, an evening to herself sounded like exactly what she needed. She wanted to go for a run, she wanted to take a nice, long bath, and she wanted to curl up on the couch with a glass of wine and good book.
She definitely didn’t want to go out and find angels who were claiming human souls. Absolutely did not want to do that at all.
Not even a little.
She waved goodbye to Orcus and stepped out back to have a frustrated cigarette. Before all this, she’d smoked maybe once a week, just a little treat here and there. With everything else going on, including the changes to her body…well, what was a little bit of carcinogens on top of freaking hooves.
Stepping outside, she realized she’d forgotten her lighter, and after a moment sighed and held up her fingers. A puff of flame erupted from them, catching the cigarette on fire. At least it’s somewhat useful.
“Don’t move! Whatever the hell you are, don’t move.”
Kelly froze. The voice was high and strained, but sounded oddly familiar. It was coming from her side, and she wanted to turn to look at the speaker. Given how frightened he sounded, however, she decided it was best to listen to him for the moment. “Okay, I’m not moving,” she said, slowly exhaling the smoke. “What now, big man?”
“Jesus. Jesus Christ. What the hell are you?” The speaker began to walk closer, circling around Kelly, until he finally came into her field of view, a gun raised and pointed at her chest.
She swore. “Sean?”
“Kelly. If that’s even your real name. Which, by the way, I doubt. Jesus Christ, you’re actually a demon!” She saw what was in his other hand now, a crucifix.
“And you’re actually an asshole. How the hell did you find where I work?” Instinct lowered her hands to her side, and his gun went off, hitting the stone wall behind her. She flinched at the sound and put her hands back up, though mostly what she felt was annoyance.
“I had your phone number. It was listed. Oh my God, what did I do?” He was shaking, and Kelly really wished his finger would come off the trigger. He’d looked at surprised at the shot as she’d felt.
“Nothing. You just swiped right on the wrong woman,” she said, forcing a smile to her face, trying her best to keep her voice soothing. “Why don’t you put the gun down and we can talk about this, okay?”
“I…you’re a monster. An actual monster! Look at you, you’re standing…Jesus.” Kelly glanced at her feet, saw she’d risen back up to her tiptoes again. Damnit.
“Look, Sean. Just relax, okay? I was just stretching my feet and didn’t want you to shoot me. So can you please lower the gun?”
Her voice was as reasonable as she could manage, but Sean wasn’t listening. It looked like his world was unravelling around him, and he was mostly talking to himself now. It took a moment for Kelly to pick up on the mutterings. “He was an angel. He was an actual an angel! So…I’m doing a good thing here, yeah?”
Oh shit. “Sean, who was an angel?”
He looked at her and laughed. “Sariel. That was his name. He said you were a demon and you…you’d cursed me. But he could free me.”
Kelly began taking deep breaths. The moment that gun waved away, she was going to charge him. Full bore, no stop. She just needed an opening. “Okay, so you’ve been touched by an angel. But I’m not a demon. Have you ever heard of a demon running a fitness studio?”
“The devil hath power to assume a pleasing shape! Get behind me, Satan!”
Kelly sighed. “Seriously? You’re going full crazy. Look, Sean, I-” The gun went down, the crucifix went up. Kelly started to lunge mid sentence, but Sean was already shouting.
“Olani Commah Ol!” Her leap was arrested mid-flight, like she slammed into a physical wall made of air. It would have been comical if it wasn’t so frightening. Immediately she unsheathed her hellfire blade and slammed it into the barrier.
Sean wasn’t done talking. “Olani Micma Ol!” he shouted, his voice gaining a resonance it hadn’t had before. The sky began to grow dark, and her sword winked out existance. Kelly felt her heart begin to pound, and she unsheathed her claws to turn them against the barrier.
“Old Olani Nanaeel!” Those last three words hit her like a brick to the stomach, driving her to her hands and knees. Her vision began to grow dark, and she saw Sean step forward, his face a wild grin.
“It worked! Oh my God, it worked! I bind you, demon!” He started to laugh, and Kelly felt the world fade away.
The last thing she saw before her vision completely faded was a hooded figure hovering just behind and above Sean, nodding approvingly.