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A Taste of Mercy for the Damned

I’m done with my first round of edits for Mercy for the Damned, and now I get a little breathing room while my editing team takes over. I thought I’d share an excerpt from what’s been keeping me busy for the past month and a half.

I slipped out of the car, hurrying across the street to follow after the dark figure whose absence of a soul marked him a demon.

He turned off the sidewalk into an alley and as soon as my eyes adjusted to the change in light, I realized I couldn’t see him anymore. Figuring my cover was blown, and he could see me better than I could see him in the shadows, I changed tactics, slowing my step to draw him out. “Come out, come out, wherever you are…” I called out in a sing song voice.

“All alone are we?” came from up high, maybe on top of the dumpster, it was hard to tell. “A bit dangerous for the likes of you, ain’t it?”

I knew my Grace would be too much temptation for him to pass by, and I suppressed a smile as I recognized his gravely voice. “I can handle myself.”

The demon himself stepped out of the shadows, all casual as if he held all the cards. Still dressed shabbily like one of the unwashed homeless, he’d added a ratty bowler to the ensemble. “If you need a bit of protection, just ask old Cephas. I’ll keep you safe from the other rabble for a taste now and then.” He smiled, showing the sharp teeth I sometimes still dreamt about, but I gathered my courage around me. I wasn’t the same girl who he’d met on the church steps months ago.

“Who says I need protection? Do you see me quaking in my boots?” my chin came up in challenge.

“I ‘ear your boy is in chains under Raum’s boot. I ‘ear your boy bleeds real pretty-like,” he chortled, and I got a flash of an image I’d been trying to ignore ever since Adam left.

“Okay, you know what? I’m done playing.” I wasn’t there to verbally spar with the scumbag, I was after some answers.

“I’m not, Pretty; I’ve only just begun,” he advanced, his grin stretching obscenely wide.

Somehow I knew he wasn’t in for a Carpenters sing-a-long, but I was ready for him. With a flick of the wrist, I called forth my sword, gratified to see his eyes bulge in acknowledgement. “On second thought, I could go for a game or two. How about we play… pin the tail on the demon? No? Where’s your laughter now, you bastard?” Rage swept through me, all the anger and frustration finally having a target right in front of me to take it out on. What was to stop me from killing him? Absolutely nothing. I would be doing the world a favor.

Cephas must have seen the deadly intent on my face as he started to back up, his hands stretched out in front of him. “Now ‘old on there, Pretty. Don’t go doin’ anythin’ you’d regret later. I ain’t done nothin’ to you since Adamiel told me not to.”

“But you did go back to Raum and tell him all about me, didn’t you?” my eyes glittered dangerously. It was because of him that I’d drawn Raum’s attention in the first place.

“I might ‘ave said some such…”

“You little rat; this is all your fault!” I laid the flat of the blade against his throat and he let out a shriek as it burned his skin with a hiss.

“I beg mercy, Mistress,” Cephas whined, going down on his knees.

“The hell I will, none of your kind have ever shown me the smallest amount, why should I?” Pressing a little harder, I felt the sword bite into his neck, just enough for the stain of black blood to taint the blade.

“Merceline,” I felt Sam’s hand on my shoulder, but I tried to shrug off the soothing waves of Grace I felt emanating from him. I wanted to hold on to my anger, it gave me strength.

“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t skewer his black heart right where he stands.”

“Perhaps he has some information to tell us?” Sam’s face took on a speculative look.

“Old Cephas knows lots of things, ‘e does,” the demon nodded quickly, spittle flying from the corners of his mouth in eagerness to offer his services.

“He doesn’t know dick,” I maintained, holding the sword in place.

“No, I do! Just ask and you’ll see,” Cephas begged, and I gave Sam a faint nod to go ahead.

“What do you know of another way in to Midian, beyond the main gate?”

“You’re askin’ about fairy stories?” his face scrunched up in confusion and Sam nodded.

“Tell us and we’ll set you free.”

Cephas sat back on his heels as he thought it over. “There is a way, but you gots to know where the portal is. I’ve never ‘ad cause to find it m’self, Naberios lets me go through whenever I want to.”

“So where is the portal?” I pressed again with the blade.

“Don’t know ‘ow much stock to place in it, but I’ve ‘eard stories. Was a legend once of a fallen angel who falls in love with a demon, see? And they worked a spell to create a doorway. Don’t know if it’s true or a load of bollocks,” he shrugged.

“Can you ask this demon where it is?”

“No good, she died real tragic-like. Shame too, she was a pretty piece of crumpet, as I recalls it.”

“What’s the name of the fallen angel?” If he said Adamiel I was going to seriously lose it, but instead he named another angel I’d heard of before.

“Name’s Remiel. Fell ‘ead over ‘eels.”

“Oh, Remiel and Lysha… I have heard this story before,” Sam’s eyes widened in recognition and I shot him a withering glance.

“And you didn’t think to mention it before now?”

“Lysha, that’s the one,” Cephas nodded energetically, reaching up to straighten his hat. “Right, I gave you what you wanted, you said you’d let me go now.”

I moved the sword away from his throat, but Sam replaced it with his hand, slamming Cephas back against the dirty alley floor. “I said we’d set you free.” Sam’s eyes narrowed, that deathly calm settling over him as his hand began to glow. “I judge thee, unclean thing. I abjure thee, and cast thee into the cleansing fires of hell.” Cephas’ mouth fell open with a horrible gurgle and I turned around, not having the stomach to watch. When I felt Sam rise to stand beside me, I darted a quick look, but there wasn’t a sign of the demon anywhere. Nothing left but a scorched mark on the pavement.

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