Thief: Chapter 4

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Chapter Four

    Panting, Mammon picked up the pace. Snatching his dogs by their coat-sleeves, he hurtled through space for what felt like the hundredth time that day. He couldn’t be sure how many times he’d zapped himself to a new locale in the past few hours--between the fight with the child (though he would hardly classify that as a fight; it had been more of a drawn-out murder) and avoiding the thing currently tailing him, he’d long ago lost count.
    As to exactly who or what was following him…he wasn’t altogether clear on that either. He shot a glance behind him, saw the other’s warp-trail glowing blackly past the bobbing and swaying of Fenris and Freja’s heads as they ran. He huffed a breath, darting forward as quickly as his aching limbs and waning power would allow.
    This shouldn’t be happening looped on repeat in his head--he should have been the only one left, the only teleporter remaining in creation. So what was the thing that was chasing him, had been hot on his trail since he’d dropped the corpse at the angels’ feet? It wasn’t another angel, that he knew. Angels didn’t feel like that. There was no cloying sense of virtue and light, no soft warmth in his pursuer’s aura. No; what followed him was as cold and ruthless as himself, if their unflagging chase was any indication.
    He heard Fenris stumble over something and yelp, and Mammon was reminded of their injuries and his own. They were running on fumes through a barren, rocky landscape--truthfully, he wasn’t sure where they were anymore--and they were all covered in blood. Some of it was their own; most of it was their own. He was concerned for his dogs--they were tired and in pain, any he didn’t want to abandon them, or put them down.
    He sighed. The night had not gone as planned, not by a long shot. He had meant to destroy the girl, the single simple damned-to-hell teenaged girl, and he couldn’t even manage that because of angels.       At least he had killed one, and it had been amusing to watch the boy die, but…he’d gotten his hands dirty, and he had nothing to show for it but the wrong corpse.
    It was gaining on them again. Reaching back, he grabbed the dogs again with his long, naked fingers and leapt forward, hitting the ground running in a vast forest of impossibly tall trees. It was warmer than the rocky place had been, the humid air filled with a loamy scent that intensified with each scrambling surge forward.
    Mammon’s foot slid in the moss that coated the forest floor like a thick blanket and twisted his hip sharply. He hissed as pain ricocheted through the wounds scattered across his tall, thin frame; the fight hadn’t been kind to him. Though he had gotten the upper hand and emerged victorious, he had amassed his own share of scrapes, bruises and gouges. He was fairly certain his nose had been broken, and the blood from it still continued to run down his pale face to drip off his delicately pointed chin. There was a tear in his side where the boy had dashed him into the side of the Appalachian Mountains, and a gash that tore through his coat and into his arm where an iceberg they had been brawling on snagged him.
    His gloves had been missing for hours, and he couldn’t be sure where he lost them; perhaps it had been in the candle-lit cathedral in Belarus, or the scrap-metal covered beach in India. Wherever he had lost them, he was annoyed. His hands were sticky with gore, his body ached and his head burned from sheer exertion--he couldn’t keep this up for much longer.
    But he had to, he had to keep running. If he stopped, even for an instant to catch his breath, that thing would catch up, and whatever it was, it would catch him. And he didn’t want to be caught, not after last night. He’d messed up, miscalculated and lost his chance for redemption. He had failed both the King and Queen of Hell, derailed both of their plans in one simple, stupid motion. He’d have to lie low for a few millennia and hope that things cleared up eventually; he was a dead man otherwise. He was likely a dead man already.
    Leaves rustled in their wake and moss shifted underfoot as they ran and ran, while their pursuer got closer and closer, chasing them into a small clearing. This was madness, Mammon thought bitterly, anger growing hot in his gut. He was a Hunter, a terror, one of Hell’s finest. He would not run any farther; his legs were ready to give out anyway, and his head throbbed painfully.
    He stopped, turned to face his attacker, standing as tall and proud as he could manage with blood pouring from him and his tattoos whirling over his skin. He waited, seconds ticking by in the silence of the untouched forest. It was still there; he could sense it, all of that dark, boundless energy. A demon, then. Idly, he wondered if it was Lucifer’s or Satan’s. Not that it mattered; they would rip it limb from limb, either way.
    He was focused on the way they’d entered, and whirled around when he heard the twin startled yelps from Fenris and Freja. A teenaged girl stood between their kneeling, shaking forms. “Good dogs. Stay.” She said, patting them mockingly on their heads as she strode towards Mammon, an uneven smirk on her tan face.

    Amazingly pale eyes stared into his as she smiled up at him sweetly, head tilted to the side. “Hello, Daddy.”


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