Chapter 18 (Part Two - Toward Persephone)

Greaves dreams were troubled, there was nothing coherent, no through line, just flashing images and samples of conversations that echoed over centuries.  Slick images of rotting corpses, mercilessly smiling demons salivating in illustration of previous defeats and victories. 

Belials name was whispered in his dark unconscious, then it was screamed.  Recent pain flared up in his shoulders and a warped, pulsating memory of being dragged to a car.  A silver ring from an unknown white hand, and then the sound of thunder. 

Thunder again, but it was different, there was no echo or effect that his unconscious had presented the rest of his nightmare with, and slowly he was slipping away from the visions, away from the images and pain and into the thunder.  A blinding light completed his transition.

Awake with a start he registered the scene around him without sequence or reason.  Belial was stood in the middle of a glowing circle of flame.  Emannuelle was behind him with both arms raised above her head mouthing an urgent something to Belial.  Behind the lights were many horses, but nothing was making sense until an arrow landed squarely between his spreadeagled legs.

"Get up you filthy hound."  An unfamiliar voice grated against the air in a half whisper, half shout.  Greaves slowly got up, the sight of the air reminded him of pain, one that he didn't wish to experience again now that the wound was almost healed.  His arms raised above his head and he looked around at the scene.  There were no horses, just twenty or so Centaurs.

"Belial, please put your hands in the air before the shoot us."  The urgency behind Greaves' first image was all to clear now.  Belial was unwilling to yield.

"Let them shoot me.  See where it gets them."  Belial's legs were shoulder-width apart, his arms pressed firmly against his hips and a stern glower contorted his face in the flickering light.  Greaves looked into the face of a tall, intimidating and amply muscled Centaur.  He saw a mixture of aggression and anger blended in a mauve rage.

"Still so foolish Belial, you think we wont pepper you with arrows on a whim?"  The Centaur trotted ahead of the blazing torches, momentarily casting a threatening silhouette over Greaves.

"I think if you were going to do that, you would have already.  I think you want to ask me some questions first. There must have been a good reason for you to tear down our shelter and drag us out of our much needed slumber."  Belial's mocking tone frightened Greaves more than the Centaur.  He had seen the capabilities of this Demon.  If he wasn't scared, then the Centaurs ought to be.  But they vastly outnumbered the trio. Outumbered, outgunned, outwitted and outmatched Greaves looked wildly from Belial to the talking human horse hybrid.

"You may be right Belial, but forgive me if I don't care for you lack of concern.  We are far too much for you, maybe you should consider surrendering."  The heavy Centaur leant his bald face to almost touching distance with Belial's face.

"You may consider the from this distance I would rip your ugly head from the fat neck on which it rests.  Tell Dobbin, Black-Beauty, Eeyore, and company to lay down their weapons and I will answer to you."  Belial hadn't even flinched away from the monstrous Centaur; he blatantly spat the words in his face.

For a long sickening moment no movement was made, the flickering olive spinney around them pulsed and throbbed in the torchlight.  The centaur stood upright and nodded to the troop behind him.  There was a clatter of spears and arrows and the very obvious inhalation of Emannuelle.

"Belial have you been to Persephone recently?"  The Centaur thudded his heavily weary body to the ground in front of Belial.

"Just on my way there ironically enough.  Tell her to get the flags and banners ready will you."

"I would if she were there.  It seems that she has been kidnapped."

The End

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