Things are moving along with the Armageddon Angels novella that will be out early in 2015. I thought I would share a little of the work in progress and introduce our villain.
The Angels turned to see a man entering the shop through a doorway behind a broad wooden counter. He was tall for a human, though he fell well short of Justin’s six and a half feet. He wore a dark purple button down shirt that nearly concealed the tattoos that covered his biceps and upper chest. His head was bald, but there was enough stubble remaining to show that it was by choice rather than genetics. It was his eyes that caught Justin’s attention though. He had seen that sort of dark fire burning within the eyes of men before, and their names were etched in monuments and filled tomes with tails of their heroics or infamy.
“Welcome to The Curious Cat. My name is Mathew Finitz, and this is my shop.” The man stepped past the shelves and stands with the ease of someone that is comfortable in their surroundings. There was little doubt that Matthew had spent countless hours navigating through the maze of charms and spell components. Once he stood before Samantha he gave a short bow and asked, “Is there something I can help you find?”
“Actually, there is,” Samantha said. “Tell me what you know about the Og—.”
“About your store,” Justin said as he stepped in front of Samantha. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a collection of…oddities.”
Mathew looked from Justin to Samantha and back again. “Yes, well I’m sure that is not the case.” Mathew waved his hands at the shelves and then at the front of his shop. “You see, I have enchanted the building so that normal folk don’t really notice my shop. They walk on by without so much as a blink, but anyone attuned to magic will see it and be able to come on in.” He smiled and Justin practically saw the oil oozing from the man. “If you’re standing in my shop, you’ve seen these sort of these things before.”
Samantha opened her mouth to speak, but Justin cut her off. “You’ve got us. I’ve never been in your shop before, and I never know when I’ve found a genuine store or just another person catering to the goth crowd.”
“Yes, I’ve seen such places,” Mathew said with a laugh. “Filled with cheap, over-dried crap from overseas, and those silly little prince and princesses of the night buy them and perform the silly little rituals they find in their mass-produced copies of the Necronomicon.” He turned his head and spit on the ground. “I have no patience for that sort of shit. The money is good, but I take the art seriously.”
Justin watched as the spittle on the floor evaporated before his eyes, erasing every trace of its existence. “I understand completely. You have a very impressive shop.”
“Thank you. You’ll find only the finest goods here,” Mathew said. “I can’t guarantee that your spells will work, but I will guarantee that the quality of your components and foci will not be the cause of your failures.”
“Good to know,” Justin said. “I’m pretty well stocked at the moment, but I have been looking for a few new charms and artifacts.”
“Justin, what are you–?” Samantha started to ask, but a look from Justin silenced her.
Matthew kept the smile plastered to his face. “As it happens, I have a few select choices available.” Greed oozed from the man’s pores as that potential for a big sale loomed before him. “Is there anything in particular you are looking for?”
“Summoning is what I’m interested in,” Justin said. “It’s never been my strongest skill, and I have need of some instant muscle.”
“Ahh yes, I see. I may have just the thing,” Mathew said. “Wait here.” He slipped back down the aisles and through the doorway behind the counter.
The moment he was out of sight, Samantha grabbed Justin’s shoulder and turned him around. “What are you doing? He summoned the ogres. You know it, and I know it. So why aren’t you interrogating this mortal and figuring out who the girl is or why he wants her?”
Justin picked up rat skull carved from a single piece of obsidian. He was not sure exactly what use it would be, but it felt heavy with darkness, so he set it back on the shelf. “Beating the answers out of someone is not always the best way to discover the truth.”
“But the longer we take, the further away the girl will get,” Samantha said. “We don’t have time for this.”
“Don’t have time for what?” Mathew said as he emerged from the back room carrying a small stack of intricately decorated boxes.
“Too much browsing, I’m afraid,” Justin said. “We have other stops to make today. You’re store was an unexpected surprise.”
“Well then I won’t waste your time with the small stuff.” Mathew waved the pair forward until they were standing in front of the counter. “He pulled open the largest of the boxes and pulled out a bowl of delicately etched jade. The carvings told a tale of sadness; the destruction of an empire rotted from within by a king that sacrificed his daughter in order to win a war with his neighbors. “This bowl predates the Babylonians by nearly a thousand years. It’s a lovely little device used for summoning goblins.” He traced his finger around the edge of the bowl. “Of course there is a price that comes with the summoning.”
“And what is that?” Justin asked.
“Blood.” Mathew let the word hang in the air before continuing. “Of course the blood need not be your own. The blood of animals will do if you only want a handful of goblins to aid you, but human blood will summon more, and the purer the blood, the more powerful the summoning.” He held out the bowl for Justin’s inspection. “I’ve never been brave enough to offer up more than a few drops of my own blood, but I have little need for bodyguards or underlings.”