My eyes sealed shut, I inexorably came to,
Hunger burning through my system
Like a gasoline tanker in a 15 car pile up,
The poison echoing through my nerve endings,
An unnerving, fully weakened, bloated, floating, spine-tingling sensation;
Azrael had summoned a witch, "a wild card" he'd said,
That did not bode well at all,
My salvation in a gambling toss of the dice,
My odds were shit,
Hot and cloudy with a slight chance of maggots;
While awaiting the arrival of the wild card,
I'd struggled to stay lucid, conscious,
But I'd slipped away rather quickly,
I feared I had even less time left than Azrael had estimated,
My eyes fluttered open, immediately seeking out Azrael's dark form,
Again he was braced against the wall near the corridor exit,
The firelight from above abusing my eyeballs, pupil to socket,
Non-cooperative eyeballs refusing to adjust properly,
Underlying mad cackling struggling to bubble out of me,
Azrael's expression gave me the impression
That I'd said some pretty extreme things while delirious
His gaze seared me to the core perhaps seeking some solace from me
But I could find no words for Azrael
Then a flash of purple flame and smoke erupted just in front of Azrael
Out stepped a short viciously gorgeous red head
In an ornate crimson satin corset and long black velvet skirt,
Slits up the sides revealing thigh high lace up heeled vinyl boots,
Lace topped red stockings peeking out above the boots,
She'd a delicate, intricate silver pentacle choker at her pale throat
And a floor length velvet crimson hooded cloak
Entwined serpents adorned her silver arm cuffs
Engraved finger armor completed the ensemble
From behind her, as the smoke cleared, emerged a small goblin-esque minion
Dressed in a blue Hawaiian shirt
And matching Bermuda shorts complete with little flip-flops
If not for the miserable hunger I'd have laughed at the sight of him
The woman's head bowed, arms folded, she said, "You summoned me your worship?"
A mad giggle escaped anyhow, my eyes dancing about uncontrollably,
The witch's violet eyes snapped towards me, head still bowed,
Taking in my shiny new look and my pathetic burlap sack dress
Her lip curled slightly,
Azrael shoved off the wall, stalking her in a predatory manner,
Stern look upon his face,
Thinly veiled threat in his tone he said, "Yes. Over an hour ago."
Her head snapped up, a moment of fear passing through her dazzling eyes,
Firelight from the Lake above flickering reflectively within her widened pupils,
She recovered quickly, replying glibly, "Ah, forgive me dark lord.
I was at this fancy little soiree, underground kegger meets demon birthday bash,
Full of silly young things.
You do know how time slips away at these social obligations.
The birthday boy, Slog, has been a loyal customer for some four or five decades.
Could've sworn I was only a couple minutes late..."
She shifted uncomfortably, I gathered she wasn't lying,
Azrael made an exasperated sound, threat still in his tone,
"Don't let it happen again,
I am not one to summon a witch for something less than urgent,"
Her hands fluttered to her throat for an instant,
She curtsied low, and murmured, "Of course, sire,"
Rising she undid the red satin ribbon at her throat,
Removing her cloak, the full length of her lustrous blood red hair
Swished down around her narrow waist, bouncing curls at the bottom,
The urge to pluck out her hair by the fistful and strangle her with it
Slammed through me like a freight train on acid,
Her eyes flew to me again her lips thinned,
Shiny violet eyes narrowed, a dangerous look in them,
So then she had some mind reading capabilities, good to know,
Casually she draped her cloak over her minion,
Hawaiian coat-rack minion, another giggle escaped,
Aggh! This mad drunken giggling was worse than the time
My brother Liam and I got into the Schnapps when I was 14,
The witch drew nearer, Azrael moved closer as well,
"All efforts to determine her species of undead have failed,
And she appears to have some kind of poison steam-rolling through her,
I need you, Astromena, to figure out what Gillian here has become,
Including what her species eats, also determine the nature of the poison
Then generate an antidote. I've plans for this creature,"
He gave me a sheepish look over her head and my instant hurt turned to relief,
Certainly Astromena caught all that though,
Astromena closed the distance between us and my flesh crawled,
I flinched, bouncing backward nearly hugging the wall,
"Hmmm, adverse reaction to the initial proximity to witches’ magic,
Well, she's definitely no vampire, they've the opposite reaction,
Hunger for it really, makes the bloodlust soar,
No signs of blood lust of any kind?"
Azrael confirmed, "None that I've seen, Mena,
I suspect Gillian's transformation
Is the work of a necromancer, but she denies it,"
Astromena continued in her poking, prodding, probing exam,
Lifting my limbs, checking my tongue and teeth,
Feeling my skin, tugging my ears, examining bone structure,
Testing reflexes, and so on, all while asking questions of Azrael
Though I weren't even there, and suppositioning upon my condition,
"I can't tell if the blue tint is from the poison or the species,"
"There's some serious incongruities here,"
"Possible zombiism, but only of the voodoo run variety,
Have you noticed any increased puppet-like behavior?"
Azrael replied, “No puppetry at all Mena.
You've noticed her soul is still in there, right?"
Mena's eyes gazed deep into mine, "Hadn't actually checked for that yet,
Some of her features suggest there should be no soul in there,"
A noise of surprise escaped her vibrant red lips,
"Well I'll be an imp's debilitated pork loving uncle!
It really is in there isn't it?!
So inconsistent with some of this other data!"
She stepped back and swept her eyes all over me,
"I've never seen such an unusual aura,
There is some wild rainbow helixing and
A golden pulsating glow going on in her aura,
Mind-bending! This was certainly NOT the work of a necromancer,"
I gave Azrael a triumphant fangy grin,
"She was human before this?"
Azrael replied, "Yeah. Well she was human before her death,
She was from a 7 innocents tribute,
A Lake inmate, for over a hundred years prior to her transformation,"
Mena made a strangled sound and had this cat with a canary- kid in a candy shop-
Humble mad scientist with a wealthy empire's facilities
Suddenly at his disposal expression,
Miss Astromena clearly enjoyed a complex puzzle,
A good mystery, a mad experiment,
It shimmered in her eyes, came off her in waves, as she crooned,
Girlish delight filling her voice,
"Corporeal undead derived from spirit form?
Oh, Azrael, you bring me the best goodies!"
Her eyes widened and she cringed, realizing her informal slip,
Azrael let it pass,
He was just plain mellow for the prince of all evil,
I knew his station in life did not suit him,
He struck me as more of a dangerously sexy scholarly type,
More belonging half naked in a pile of books in a firelit mansion library,
Glasses practically dangling off his nose as he excitedly read
A gilt-bound first edition of some ancient crack pots highly advanced theories,
Pet miniature dragon perched on his shoulder reading along,
That was more Azrael than ruler of Hell any day,
I sighed indulging in the imagery until my gut twisted inside out on me
My eyes met Azrael's sharply, getting the impression he'd been right there with me,
Seeing what I saw, enjoying the fantasy version of him I'd concocted,
His eyes glossed over with unexpressed pain,
As my innards ate at me with intensity, my body pouring sweat,
It was then I understood that whatever I'd become
Came with more perks than I'd imagined, perks like
Extra sensory perception and some sort of projecting abilities,
Though racked with pain, and plagued by demented grotesque thoughts,
I grew eager to discover more about my new abilities,
Again, none of this was lost on Mena, who looked like a kicked puppy,
So, she had feelings for Az too, just fricking great,
Like all my drama wasn't enough on its own, let's throw in a love triangle!
Astromena was quick to hide her pain,
I gathered Azrael knew nothing of her crush,
My pain tripled as if a pack of rabid jackals had been unleashed on my insides,
Screaming I doubled over, as far as the chains would allow,
My ever-present rage swelled to the surface,
The rage, it seemed, had become utterly constant since the fight with the Elim,
Always there coursing through my system,
Mostly a low volt steady pulsing,
Surging to the forefront with alarming ferocity
When triggered by my circumstances,
Azrael, hard edge to his voice, "Mena, time is running short,
Gillian has not fed at all since turning,
She's coming up on the threshold here,"
Mena hesitated, then "Well, shit, that's not good,
I haven't even done the deep reading yet,
Plus there's samples to be taken, rituals to be done,
And I'll likely need to engage the services of an alchemist and an apothecary,"
Azrael acquiesced immediately, "Whatever's necessary, just hurry,"
Astromena gulped, well aware of the pressure attached to that,
Then came closer, pulling me upright,
Lacing her fingers through mine she initiated her deep reading,
At first Mena rocked back and forth a bit then progressed to full on convulsions,
Throwing my hand to the wall she dropped to the ground, scrambling backward,
Trying to get away from me as quickly as possible, her nose dribbling blood,
The minion she'd brought flew to her side,
Helping her off the ground dusting her skirt,
Giving her a tissue for her nose, all the while clutching her cloak,
It was some time before Mena could speak,
Coughing up some blood and delicately spitting it on the ground,
Mena was still shaky,
"Sire, um, Gillian is playing some very deep fucking traffic,
I could get nothing beyond her being an undead hybrid of some kind,
And the presence of an insidious substance worming its way through her system,
Could be poison, could be something else.
The deeper I tried to read, the harder I searched,
Well something, someone basically reached out and
Bitch slapped me the hell out of there,
I assume the same someone who turned our Miss Gillian,"
Azrael said nothing, lips pressed in a fine line,
And merely gestured for her to continue,
Mena appeared to screw up her courage,
As though expecting another dose of repercussions,
Her minion scrambled forward
Pulling a case out from beneath her luxurious cloak
He opened it gingerly, and Mena began the process of taking samples,
Selecting vials, instruments and whatnots one at a time,
The witch took a wide variety of samples,
Flecks of skin,
Bits of hair,
Swabs of saliva,
Digital snapshots of my telling features,
And so on until at last she appeared to hesitate,
Slowly Mena withdrew an athame from her boot,
To Az, "Blood sample sire?"
Azrael gruffly gave his consent,
Astromena grinned at me, out of Azrael's line of sight,
Swiftly she plunged the athame deep in my gut,
The force of it doubling me over again
Blood and gurgled scream shot out of my throat,
Azrael rapidly closed the distance between himself and her as she gathered the sample,
My wound sucking closed nearly instantly,
Though I knew the internal healing would take a bit longer,
My rage sloshed dangerously over the edge as I glared at Astromena,
Azrael grabbed the back of Mena's head by her hair,
He pulled her, bent over backward, to look up at him,
Mena letting out a screech,
Her minion taking the sample from her hands, virtually panicking,
As he sealed up the case and fluttered around Mena,
Azrael roared his usual calm nowhere in sight,
"What the fuck are you playing at witch?!"
Mena replied hastily, words stumbling over each other,
"F-F-Forgive me, sire, I n-needed a blood sample from her inner gut!
I m-must test for Ciribism, as well, mustn't I?!"
This seemed to have a cooling effect upon him,
Me, however, I had no clue what Ciribism was,
I must remember to ask once I regain proper motor functions,
My rage was not remotely pacified,
I had seen the look of purpose and intent in her grin
Prior to her little dungeon surgeon episode,
Hunger clawed at my gut and my mind continued turning down dark roads
I'd never imagined my mind traversing until recently,
In life I'd been such a sweetheart, after all,
Thoughts of slowly gutting Mena like a fish and worse
Trampling through my brain,
Straining against my chains,
I rasped out, barely audible, "Hurry, I feel it...I-I-I f-feel it changing,"
Azrael practically dropped Astromena to the floor,
The witch took that opportunity to skedaddle,
Pausing only briefly as she noticed the gilt red flame sword,
Cloak bearing minion in tow,
Azrael drew towards me,
In the rear of my skull a pricking tingle began,
Something big, mean and pissed off was approaching
From somewhere beyond the Lake of Fire,
Having just arrived in Hell proper from its outskirt regions,
It was coming for me,
A look of fear engulfing my features,
Though not just due to my impending confrontation with big & cranky,
Azrael's feature's softened his fingers trailing my cheek,
"Now you see why I waited so long to resort to the use of a witch,
I suppose not all witches are like that
But I've yet to meet one who isn't,
Most of them had been worse,
Mena should return soon with results,
She's more skilled than any other I've seen,
Though let's hope she takes a liking to you,
It's extremely dangerous to let a witch out of your sight with a blood sample,
There's a vast array of vicious stunts they could pull armed with that,"
He moved closer cradling my head against his chest,
Soothing my hunger induced spasms,
Stroking my hair,
He helped keep the increasingly violent and disturbing thoughts at bay,
Azrael continued to do so until I drifted into a dreamless sleep,
Clearly he'd worked some magic-based sedative on me.
Awakening sometime later to the sound of my name,
The fire of hunger roared to life in the pit of my stomach,
Burning a flame path all the way to my parched mouth,
Azrael was next to me as my eyes slowly came into focus,
My limbs feeling like weird neon noodles,
My mind was a little foggy,
So groggy, an after-effect of the tranquilizing mojo Az had lain on me,
And I was eternally grateful for it,
"Mena has returned," he said plainly,
Her decadently clad form shimmered into my view,
This time she wore a lavender, purple and black tight bodiced dress,
Her violet eyes shining mischievously, for a moment,
The minion from before again at her side,
Though less comically attired,
In what I assumed was Mena's household servants' livery,
In the corridor half bathed in shadow,
Stood a figure I never thought to see again,
Petite and lovely, blonde and leather clad,
Miradra, one of the false angels who'd slaughtered me,
Clearly she'd taken a liking to me,
A slow sensual smile spread across her face
As she saw me looking at her,
My chronic rage blistered to the surface
I glowered at Miradra, weakly,
She grinned harder, in what I supposed passes for effervescence in a demon,
Not to be ignored, Astromena cleared her throat,
Azrael gestured for her to begin her presentation,
She flicked her wrist at the minion,
Who quickly presented a large stack of data to Azrael,
"For your later more leisurely perusal, sire, my full report,"
Miradra quickly relieved him of the voluminous leather-bound vellum report,
Then returned to her temporary station in the corridor entrance,
Not to be outdone, Mena's minion clambered over to Miradra's side,
Well out of his mistress's way, as Mena began to pace,
Her eyes lit up with that mad scientist glow,
She outlined her findings,
"Well, hmmm, here's what I've got,
Gillian is most definitely a hybrid, her species
A muddle, a mix of several undead species more popular in ancient times,
And a few completely unidentifiable ones,
This whole thing is fascinating, entirely unprecedented,
Some of the species mixed are well documented as unmeshable,"
She paused registering Azrael's hurry the hell up glare,
"Anyhow, I won't go in depth now, perhaps later,
Suffice it to say that her primary species,
And this just blows my noodle,
Clocking in at 33%, is ghoul,"
Miradra, Mena's minion, and Azrael collectively gasped,
"I know! A djinn sub-species! You see Gillian
The djinn species cannot turn others to their kind,
Their spawning is pretty random and uncontrolled,
Through unorchestrated nature-originated magical means,
A whole new djinn will arbitrarily spring up from
A few cells detached from another djinn;
Dismembered body part, a hair, a smidgen of exfoliated skin, a fingerprint even,
That sort of thing, and therefore it does not blend with other species,
Not before or since the Angel Iblis, djinn master, fell becoming an uber djinn himself
Has any djinn ever been derived of anything non-djinn,"
Azrael cleared his throat,
"Well, yes, we shall perhaps discuss all that when time is not an issue,
As to the supposed poison, it's not poison at all.
Whatever it is, it moves like a virus,
It's something new, very new, designer,
With some serious mutagenic properties,
Someone infected you with it very purposefully,
It has very limited transferability,
It's not contagious at all,
Whether or not it was how she was turned seems inconclusive-"
I interjected, "I was turned long before I was infected,"
Mena seeming disappointed, continued,
"It's more advanced than anything I've ever seen,
We attempted several experiments,
Transferring it to others,"
Her minion shifted uncomfortably, with a pained expression,
Fingers tracing a Papa Smurf band-aid absently,
"All effects of this super virus were wild, brief, disconnected - inconclusive,
The infection and its symptoms dissipating from the subject in exactly 22 minutes,
Gone entirely from their system, leaving no trace,
Like nothing had been there at all,
Which I can only assume means this thing is rigged
Specifically to Gillian's new DNA, perhaps to her species mix,
Or perhaps only to Gillian herself,
It does bear markers identifying it as likely
Made by the same whoever who turned Gillian,
The super virus thing had an aura,
I've never seen that in a virus before,
The aura matched Gillian's precisely,
I will not be able to synthesize an antidote,
Nor can I say just what it does,"
Azrael prompted her, "Astromena, the food,"
Mena dipped a quick curtsy, "Of course,
The primary species of undead determines what the creature eats primarily
And thusly determines what is the only thing suitable
For the newly undead citizen's first meal,"
Azrael, "Mena, hun, remind me again what ghouls primarily eat,"
An eyebrow raised, with a sparkle in her eyes,
That sparkle suggesting to me that she relished her news,
Having purposely saved it for last,
"A ghoul's primary food source is the flesh of the dead, fresh."
How did you like this here part 11? Questions? What do you think of Astromena the witch so far? Who’s happy to see Miradra back? Of the five false angels she was definitely my favorite, all five will at some point make at least one more appearance. I’d love to have my own little minion just like Mena’s little minion, who else really wants one?
~ Christina Nabity
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