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Author: Ryland Thorn

Book Two is Live! ?>

Book Two is Live!

This is the second in my brand new urban fantasy series. Filled with demons and monsters, it is powered by hate and rage.

A random series of attacks, or part of a more sinister plot?

The Daemonicon has been stolen. Jack and Lennox, enraged by the violation of the Lair and the death of their friend, are furiously looking for answers.

Standing in their way is a loathsome, part-demon fiend who is Hell-bent on stopping them. With an army of foul creatures at his command, he is relentless, an ongoing torment who is a major threat to all of New Sanctum.

Will Jack and Lennox find a way to defeat him and gain the answers they seek?

Get it on Amazon!

Demonic Snippet Number Two ?>

Demonic Snippet Number Two

There are only a few days to go before the release of book two in my new urban fantasy series, The Daemonicon Chapters.

Here’s snippet number two:

 

 

“A little closer,” Jack mutters under his breath. “Just a little more.”

The road is not perfectly flat, and Jack’s aim isn’t steady. The bike judders and vibrates over every imperfection. Nor is the tar man making it easy with his random swerves left and right. But Jack knows his gun well. All he needs is a smooth half-second with the tar man holding his line. That, and a little less distance between them.

Lennox is an experienced rider. She knows how to get the best from her bike even on roads that aren’t the greatest, and the tar man seems to be slowing down. Within just a few moments, they have closed the gap to no more than twenty yards.

Jack feels a surge of vengeful satisfaction as he gets his smooth half-second. It is all he needs.

Bang!

Jack pulls the trigger just as the tar man makes an abrupt left turn. Lennox and Jack both curse at once, and Lennox has to brake very hard to make the same turn. She does so, and they find themselves in a better-lit part of New Sanctum, with less garbage piled up on the streets.

They are out of Hope Town. The streets are wider, but this is a long way from good news. There are more people here, both in vehicles and just walking along the pavement. Lennox and Jack have come to a restaurant district. It is a picturesque area that surrounds a loop of the Styx, New Sanctum’s largest river, and not even its proximity to Hope Town can keep people away.

It is just the type of place Jack feared the tar man would lead them toward. There are too many people about in search of entertainment and a meal. It is a bad place for the tar man to release his spawn.

Jack curses again as Lennox pulls the Ducati over to the side of the road.

“Where is he?” she demands over her shoulder.

For an instant, Jack doesn’t answer. Despite the comparative brightness of this area, he too has lost sight of their target. “Look for where the most people are,” he says, and scans left and right.

It doesn’t take long to find him again. Jack spots the tar man at the same time as Lennox points and shouts, “There!”

The tar man is standing next to his bike, which he has parked in a crowded motorcycle parking space. He is staring straight at them from a few dozen yards away, and although he is no longer laughing, there is a wide grin on his oily, mucous-covered face.

He is in front of a restaurant with outdoor seating that nearly blocks the whole pavement. “Mario’s Pizzeria and Bar,” the sign cheerfully advertises in a mixture of reds and black on a white background. There are perhaps a dozen people seated at the outdoor tables under a scattering of gas heaters that resemble old-fashioned street lamps. Waiters and waitresses in crimson and black are taking and delivering orders.

Jack doesn’t bother too much with restaurant food beyond the occasional messy burger and fries. He sometimes doesn’t bother with food at all, and can go for days without it affecting him one way or the other. But to him, Mario’s looks like a nice place. He only hopes it will remain that way.

The tar man is still taunting them. He gives them a grin that is no different from a sneer and raises both middle fingers in their direction. Then he turns his back to them and walks into the restaurant as if he has a right to do so. Lennox and Jack are too far away from him to smell it themselves, but they are familiar with his stench. The customers at the restaurant and the serving staff all recoil. It is like a pebble thrown into a pond, creating ripples of revulsion as the waves of foulness expand.

In moments, the tar man is gone from view.

“Move!” Jack grates. Lennox opens the throttle at the same moment. The Ducati lurches into motion and they reach the motorcycle parking bay within seconds.

Jack is off before Lennox stops the bike properly. He puts too much weight on his wounded leg and winces in pain as it starts to buckle. He has to lean on the bike seat, gun still in hand, to steady himself.

“You all right, old man?” Lennox asks. She has taken off her helmet and looks worried.

Jack knows that it isn’t his wound that is the key source of her worry. Like him, Lennox fears what might happen in the restaurant. Even now the first shouts of shock and confusion are starting to ring out. Soon the shouts will turn into panic and horror. Beyond that, there will be screams and anguish beyond measure.

Unless Jack and Lennox can stop the tar man.

“I’m fine,” Jack says. “Let’s go!”

Together, they step up onto the curb.

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A Demonic Snippet ?>

A Demonic Snippet

The countdown is on. The release of book two in my new urban fantasy series, The Daemonicon Chapters, is only a few days away. Filled with demons and monsters, it is powered by hate and rage.

The Daemonicon has been stolen. Jack and Lennox, enraged by the violation of the Lair and the death of their friend, are furiously looking for answers. Standing in their way is a loathsome, part-demon fiend who is Hell-bent on stopping them. With an army of foul creatures at his command, he is relentless, an ongoing torment who is a major threat to all of New Sanctum.

Will Jack and Lennox find a way to defeat him and gain the answers they seek?

Here’s a random snippet:

“Who is there?” Jack demands of the darkness. “What do you want?”

The laughter continues unabated. No answer is forthcoming.

To Jack, it seems like the temperature has dropped, and the odor of sulfur and rot grows perceptibly stronger. Jack glares into the darkness with a snarl of anger already twisting his lips. He knows what has happened. He and Lennox have stumbled into a trap.

The Ducati’s headlamp lights only part of the road. Other than that, it is too dark for him to see, but he can hear movement in the shadows. It is like rats creeping over crumpled newspapers, or shy beetles chirping to each other in the blackness.

It is an unnerving, ominous sound, made more so by the way it is coming from every direction at once.

“Lex,” Jack says, his voice low and tense. “Let’s see what this darkness is hiding.”

Jack is more than irritated. More than angry. He has been fighting creatures from Hell for most of his life and hates it when something happens that he failed to predict. He hates such failures almost as much as he hates the creatures he faces themselves. And yet, hate is not his only emotion. Despite everything he has been through, he can’t help but feel a shiver of fear.

The darkness, the cold, the creepy laughter all combine to give him a sense of foreboding beyond what is normal even in a world filled with supernatural dangers.

In response to Jack’s suggestion, Lennox pronounces words in an ancient tongue that is awful to hear. Somehow, the words she says taste metallic to Jack, as if he has a mouth full of his own blood. It sets up an uncomfortable resonance within him that grates at the base of his skull.

It is as discordant as a death metal song played in reverse, but it has impact. Almost at once, a ball of angry, red demon fire appears in between Lennox’s hands. The ball swiftly grows to match the size of the helmet Lennox has looped about her elbow. It becomes bright enough to cast a red glow over the road, bringing what is hidden into view.

The first thing Jack sees is a man standing in the shadows.

As wiry and unkempt as Jack himself, the man looks like a homeless person in his tattered overcoat and torn, dirty jeans. Yet the most obvious thing about him isn’t his clothing. It is the way that the lower half of his face is covered in a black, oily substance that looks like tar.

The man reminds Jack of Samuel. Not in build or appearance, but because of the blackness on his face. Samuel’s Hellfire burns had given him a similar look.

To Jack, it is unsettling to see, made more so by the knowledge that comes with it. This man, this tar man, has demon blood in his veins. It is something that Jack has been able to sense for as long as he can remember.

As fast as thought, Jack draws his gun and aims it. “Who are you?” Jack demands, unconsciously echoing his earlier words. “What do you want?” And then, as the thought comes to him, “Was it you who stole the Daemonicon?”

The tar man just laughs even harder.

Jack snarls in anger. He wants to pull the trigger out of nothing but spite and a deep-seated feeling that this man is dangerous. Before he does so, he hears Lennox stifle a gasp.

“Look,” she says in a voice that is both shocked and disgusted. “His hands.”

Jack glances down and immediately sees what Lennox has noticed. Like the lower part of his face, the tar man’s hands appear covered in a thick, gelatinous blackness. But unlike on his face, the oily substance at his fingers is moving. It is dripping onto the road as globs of putrescence. The tar man is exuding it as if it is sweat.

And the globs of putrescence are alive.

As soon as they leave the tar man’s fingers, they start to grow. Within seconds, they are as big as a man’s head. They are repulsive to look at. Somehow wet and slimy, almost glittering in the darkness. They are like slime molds given life and mobility. There are dozens of them, more, and they already cover large parts of the road.

All of them are slowly heading toward Jack and Lennox. To move, they extend pseudopods out in front of themselves, tendrils with which to pull themselves slowly along.

“What in all of Hell?” Lennox mutters. She has managed to get the ball of glowing fire in her hands to be self sustainable, at least for a moment. Her tone is filled with disgust and loathing, and she takes an unconscious, fearful step back.

“Demon spawn,” Jack spits. He now understands why there is so much of the slippery sludge on the ground. These vile Hell creatures secrete it, like slugs secrete the slime that helps them to move. The tar man has set the trap that Jack and Lennox have sprung. He has been conjuring these loathsome things as he hid in the dark. And the cry of fear Jack and Lennox heard had heard was the worm on the hook.

The realization is enough to turn Jack’s anger into rage. Without hesitation, his finger tightens on the trigger.

Bang!

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It’s finally here! ?>

It’s finally here!

This is the first in my brand new urban fantasy series. Filled with demons and monsters, it is powered by hate and rage.

Demon by blood. Hero by choice.

Jackson Kade is an immortal with demon blood in his veins and hate in his heart. Lennox Valdis is wild and fiery, and her demon heritage gives her a talent for magic. Together, they are the bane of every loathsome creature that crawls up from Hell. Raining down bullets and sorcery with malice and glee, they strive to keep the streets of New Sanctum free from the corruption of Hell.

Now there is a Hell-beast on the loose that is a greater threat than anything seen in decades. Whether it is just an anomaly or if there is something more sinister behind the attack is unknown. To prevail against such a monster, Jack and Lennox must call upon all of their strength and courage.

Can they survive its onslaught?

Get it on Amazon!

Anthology Insight #2 ?>

Anthology Insight #2


I have written a number of short stories, many of which have been published in anthologies. Every few weeks, I will pick one and shine a light on it. 

I actually have two stories in the Prime Shadows collection. The one I want to highlight today is called, Blood Messages. It’s a creepy little tale that comes with a message: Be careful who you choose to bully.

Here is a snippet:

Tyler Scott was a picture of hurt and despair and an increasing measure of suppressed hate. Not yet seventeen, he was too tall and too thin, and his hair was too long and too much of a shaggy, brown mop to be thought of as cool. His cheeks and the back of his neck were covered in angry red boils, and his earlobes had been stretched by long use of black tunnel earrings.

He sat on the floor in the middle of his room with his stereo blasting the nu metal sounds of nostalgia in the form of Linkin Park set at high volume. His overly long limbs were all folded in, and he rocked slowly back and forth.

His eyes were closed. For the most part, his expression was neutral. But every once in a while the muscles of his face would give an involuntary twitch.

Those twitches bent his face into a snarl of anger for a tenth of a second. Then a grimace of disgust for another tenth. An expression of hate. A moment of pain. Then back to anger again. All unconscious signs of the turmoil and torment that tortured him.

He was surrounded by the wreckage of his life. His laptop was twisted, the screen broken and the keys no longer in place. His school notebooks were torn, the pages scattered. The posters of the late nineties and early two thousands bands ripped from the walls and left in piles.

It was as if he sat in the middle of a disaster zone in small scale. As if a tornado had burst through the walls of his room to destroy everything he held dear.

But it wasn’t a natural disaster that had caused all the damage. It had been Tyler himself, in a fit of rage and despair that had been building for weeks and had howled for release.

For Tyler, it had been a choice of either lashing out at a stranger or confining his mad outburst to hurt only himself. So for some fifteen minutes, he had hurled himself about in his room, tearing everything down and smashing all he could reach.

Then, long after Gandalf the cat had fled in terror from Tyler’s apoplectic display and he’d demolished everything he could, he had collapsed onto the floor and cried as if he was still a child.

It took long minutes for his tears to dry up. When they did, he gathered himself enough to sit amid the ruin he had created. Even then, the remnants of his frenzy kept his blood boiling to the point where his temples throbbed and the palms of his hands itched.

Of all the things of value in his room, he left only his stereo and his phone untouched. Even his desk had suffered, with the top buckled from the impact where he’d angrily struck it with his chair. The chair itself was in splinters. He’d even torn the cover off his pillow and emptied it of the misshapen corners of foam rubber that had filled it.

The phone sat on the floor in front of him. Its screen was dark, but if it had been on, it would have displayed Megan Sanders’ last hateful message:

“Kill yourself Freak. lol”

 

You can read the rest of this story here on Amazon.

 

Anthology Insight #1 ?>

Anthology Insight #1


I have written a number of short stories, many of which have been published in anthologies. Every few weeks, I will pick one and shine a light it. 

The story I have in Prime Fiction is called Showman. It features a devilish street performer who is able to turn a pleasant evening into a living nightmare. Is he really a demon from Hell, or is it all just an illusion?

Here is a snippet:

The devil waits for the laughter to fade. He is a showman, and holds the attention of everyone in the crowd.

“Now!” he shouts. He holds the whip out for all to see. “Are you all ready for My Final Trick?”

“YES!” the audience all cry in response.

Leigh is shaking her head in denial. I mumble “no,” but nobody hears.

“What did you say?” the devil asks.

“YES!!” they all shout, more loudly.

Leigh is still shaking her head. She’s looking down at her feet, plainly terrified and hating every moment.

“I can’t hear you!” the performer says, an obvious lie.

“YES!!!” The noise is deafening.

The devil stands back for a moment with his hands on his hips, enjoying the response as if it’s a form of adulation, or worship.

“OK! Now Leigh, Stand Very Still!” He’s moved behind her and punctuates his words with a crack of the whip. Leigh flinches. Several people in the crowd let out small gasps of surprise, and there’s a snigger or two from the back.

I shut my eyes and grimace as if the whip has opened up a wound on my back. The sound has caused me physical pain, and I could only guess at what it has done to Leigh.

When I open my eyes, the devil is looking around. I want to rush into the stage and steal my Leigh away from him, but I’m too afraid to move.

“Very good, my precious,” he says. “Very good indeed.” He moves so close that he’s almost rubbing against her, making her lean away from his loathsome face in revulsion. He runs his tongue suggestively over his teeth and I hate him like I’d seldom hated anyone before. But I’m powerless and ashamed of that lack of strength. He has us both under his spell.

“Now,” he says just to her, but loud enough for all to hear. “This is what we’re going to do.” Still too close, he opens his jacket and takes an innocuous drinking straw from an inside pocket.

“We’re going to play a little game,” he says. He’s still breathing at her, drooling over her cheek. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

“No,” says Leigh. I can hear the fear and disgust in her voice. My heart aches to do something, to do anything to make this stop. But the crowd simply chortles in happy anticipation.

The devil grins. “Of course you would,” he says, but Leigh shakes her head. “Aww, please, pretty lady? All I want you to do is hold this straw between your teeth.” He holds the end of it close to her face and gives her no choice. I can see that she is afraid and wants only to run, but the demon holds her in place by his strength of will.

And the crowd … the crowd is no longer a random collection of strangers watching a show.

The crowd is instead a gathering of ghouls, of imps and creatures of the dark, watching with an avid hunger and excitement all of their own. They drool and snarl like slobbering beasts, and I expect to catch the stench of sulfur for the third time.

Instead, it’s the odor of death and decay that fills my senses.

This time, it’s so quick that I barely have time for panic. Before I can do so much as clutch at my chest to keep my heart from bursting, Leigh accepts her fate and bites the end of the straw…

You can read the rest of this story here on Amazon.

 

A CyberWar snippet: Check out this short section from my story in the CyberWar anthology ?>

A CyberWar snippet: Check out this short section from my story in the CyberWar anthology

My story in the CyberWar anthology is called Demon Installation. It’s a blend between science fiction/fact and urban fantasy, and this snippet is part of chapter two. So if you like your cyber terrorist thrillers spiced with a little magic and the odd demon, check it out.


It is too much for Nikolai. Anton can see him twitch like he does when he fears he is going to be hit. He is about to start babbling in terror, to start apologizing, and if he does that, Anton knows, this meeting will go badly for everyone.

“The Ukraine was just the first stage,” Anton growls, forestalling his brother’s words. “Our deadline is yet to pass. Your senseless attempts to scare us do no more than interfere with our plans.”

Anton speaks with all the confidence he can muster. He knows that their very lives might hang on whether or not this woman believes him. And not just his life and that of Nikolai. There is another whose life hangs in the balance.

“How will your superiors respond if they find out our failure is due to you?” he adds.

As he speaks, his attention is split between the woman and his brother. He sees doubt creep into her expression at the same time as he sees his brother’s look of astonishment.

“But —” his brother begins.

“Be silent!” Anton hisses. “I said I will do the talking!”

But it is already too late. “You are lying to me,” the old woman snaps her tongue, sharp and cutting like a knife dipped in poison. “You are done. Your attempt has been made, and you failed. So tell me, why should I not order your sister killed right now? And you two as well? Why should I wait for the deadline to pass?”

It is a threat that makes Anton’s blood run cold with fear and forces a panicky whimper from Nikolai despite Anton’s demand for his silence. Not the threat against themselves, but the one against their sister. Sofia, the one person Anton loves more than anyone else. Even now, she is caught by these people. Held no doubt in fear for her very life, just because she is their sister. She is the joker in the deck, the one awful lever that can be used to bend Anton and Nikolai to do anything.

It is a threat beyond limit. For her even more than for Nikolai, Anton will commit cold-blooded murder. He will swim in molten lava and dig out his own heart with his bare hands.

Sofia is fifteen years old and as innocent in her own way as Nikolai is in his and then some. ‘Touched,’ some would call her. A chromosomal defect of some kind that occurred before she was born.

Protected by Anton all her life, to him she is beautiful. A mixture between the two brothers, her features, and nature the best of each of them. Despite her misfortunes, she is as happy and content with her life as it is possible to be.

For her, Anton and Nikolai will craft a virus that will destroy nations, if they can. Anton will not even blink.

And these people are holding her hostage.

The thought is enough to unfetter Anton’s rage. For an instant before he acts, naked hate is plain on his face. It is extreme and primal, a visceral response of pure instinct and fury, and it is accompanied by a throat-ripping howl that is much more animal than human.

His howl and expression are enough to make grown men flinch all by themselves. But such is not the limit of Anton’s response. Without consciously deciding to do so, he lurches to his feet and stands as if ready to fight everyone in the room with his fists alone.

A moment later, his conscious mind clicks in, and he unleashes the power of his amulet. He doesn’t need to say any words. This isn’t a spell so much as an unshackling, a single, concussive release.

A pulse of pure energy erupts from him. Not just from the amulet, not just from his green-glowing eyes, but from all over. It is like he is the center of a detonation as if an electromagnetic pulse has exploded from his heart. The leading edge of the pulse expands too quickly to see, yet nevertheless leaves an impression of green, liquid fire.

It is powerful enough to knock everyone in the room from their feet. Even his brother, who until then had been sitting on the other plastic chair. One of the lights explodes on impact. The other flickers and dies, plunging the room into darkness.

It is too soon yet for terror to kick in, but the others in the room give a collective, reflexive groan of pain and confusion.

Anton makes use of the darkness. He still carries a remnant of the amulet’s power within him. It gives him strength and propels him forward, much faster than he would normally move.

In the darkness, he finds the old woman, wraps his hands around her throat, and drags her away from the others until his back is against the wall. She starts to struggle. “Don’t move!” he hisses, his words filled with undisguised loathing. She ignores him and continues to struggle, clawing at his forearm. Perhaps it’s a reflex.

He doesn’t care. His jacket protects him, and he tightens his grip around her throat. “You have no idea the pleasure it will bring me to wring your miserable neck!” he grates. “Now be still!”

The women stops struggling. “We still have your Sofia,” she says, her voice surprisingly calm.

Want to read more? Check out the CyberWar anthology!

CyberWar Anthology ?>

CyberWar Anthology

Another Phoenix Prime anthology has gone live! This one tackles the serious topic of Cyber warfare. Within its pages, you’ll find more than a dozen stories written by the talented Phoenix Prime authors – including one by me!

My story is a darker tale that takes the reality of cyber warfare into the realms of Urban Fantasy. If you like your hackers with a heavy dose of magic and demons, check it out!

 

 

Snippet Time! This one is from a story I have in an upcoming anthology called Prime Shadows ?>

Snippet Time! This one is from a story I have in an upcoming anthology called Prime Shadows

This is from my story, Legacy of a Regrettable Game. It’s dark and angry and is set in a gaslamp fantasy world that never existed. Like a lot of my writing, it deals with demons.


The laughter grows louder. If anything, it becomes even more scornful. At the same time, it loses its hollow aspect and becomes more substantial. More localized. And even though Francho assured himself only moments before that he was alone in the sunroom, now there is a shadowy figure seated on one of the chairs.

The figure is indistinct, yet gives an impression of wiry strength. It is like a smudge given form. A three-dimensional shadow. A dirty cloud in the shape of a man.

At its appearance, Francho recoils. His old heart is pumping blood filled with horror through his veins. Yet Francho’s instinct is not to cower in fear, or to run and hide. His instinct, beyond his first hesitation, is to raise his cane and attack, his expression a grimace that combines hatred with murderous rage.

Without pausing to think, without allowing himself to consider the consequences of attacking a shade without true provocation, he swings as hard as he can. He madly lashes the insubstantial form on the chair left and right.

But the cane makes no contact. It cuts through Marzal’s ghost as if through a fog, leaving no mark and rousing no more than a swirl at its passing. And all the while, the laughter continues.

Spurred on by insanity and fear-driven rage, Francho gives voice to a strangled snarl as he continues to swing. But he is old and lacks strength. In only moments, he is struggling for breath and his arms start to ache, both the one swinging the cane and the other holding the lamp. He has to stop, has to step back else risk injuring himself. Already, his heart is thundering too loudly, like the drums of impending doom.

He does so and stands panting like a dog after a run, glaring with hate at the specter before him.

As Francho tries to recover, the laughter fades. It is replaced by a low drawl of a voice that carries infinite menace.

“Is this how you greet your brother after so many years?” it asks. “With violence and hate?”

The shadowy figure seems to expect no response, yet Francho will not remain silent.

“My brother is dead! For half a century he is dead, rotting and forgotten! You are not him! You cannot be him! There is no such thing as ghosts!”

For just a moment, the laughter returns. Then the shade surges to its feet, and the dark fabric that makes up its head swirls in place. Its – his – face becomes clear. It is thin and hollow and appears to be covered in scars. It is the face of a Demon of pain. Yet its eyes are human and blue, and put Francho in mind of a wheat field on a clear summer’s day.

The shade’s eyes also put Francho in mind more strongly than ever of his brother.

Francho flinches away and tries to hide behind arms raised to ward off a blow. But the remnant of Marzal, the shadowy presence before him, doesn’t attack.

Instead, the demonic laughter fades, and the voice returns to bellow out loud. “I am not dead!” the thing that has Marzal’s eyes shouts in anger to more than match Francho’s own. “I am not a ghost! Think back, brother dearest, and remember what it was that you purchased! Remember the results of our last game of chess!”

Despite his burgeoning terror, Francho does as the phantom in front of him demands. He has no choice. The memories come unbidden as if this fragment of Marzal has conjured them from the depths of his mind.

He lives again a moment in time before his second decade was done when playing against his younger brother. He remembers the pride he had taken in his skill at the game, the condescension he held for his opponent. The countless games in the past he had won.

He remembers the creeping sense of surprise as he realized that Marzal had the upper hand and was going to win. The disbelief. The sense of almost betrayal. And the angry denial that led to Francho moving a critical piece out of turn just one square when Marzal had looked briefly away.

That had been the start of it all. The moment where Francho’s life had turned into Hell. Marzal had caught the deception and confronted Francho. It had led to a fight, with Marzal smashing Francho’s nose with his fist. Three drops of blood had fallen onto the chess set, a match for those Marzal’s shade had now reproduced. And worse, Marzal had told their father what Francho had done.

In the darkest parts of Francho’s heart, he always suspected that Marzal was the favorite. And at that moment, his suspicions proved true. Their father had cut Francho’s allowance and treated him with scorn.

With a bitter resentment that followed him for the rest of his life, Francho had sworn vengeance on Marzal for his treatment. He had stolen a great sum of their father’s silver and sought the services of a Diabolist.

Using Francho’s own blood as the catalyst, they had summoned a demon. And when that demon stared out through a wall of red flames into Francho’s soul and asked what it was he desired, Francho had responded.

Drag my brother into the deepest pit of Hell itself and leave him there to rot!