It is said that pets take after their owners. Familiars most definitely aren’t pets, and Cat was proving the point by running straight to the church.
“Cat! Get back here!” Phantasmo said, then added “Yaargh!” as a fireball exploded right in front of his feet. The wizard made a dash for the side of the church, and crashed right into Damien. Phantasmo brushed himself off without even acknowledging the angel.
“Cat! If you don’t get back here right now, I’m not giving you any food for the next six months!”
"H-heey--ahh!" Damien went crashing into the side of the sturdy church, getting his head lifted just in time to avoid bouncing it off the bricks. Phantasmo just went on shouting, in the first fit of action either of them had ever seen him in. Did he really care for his cat? Or was it just cowardice, and the acknowledgment that the animal was important and made up for the only brains in the duo? Neither of them could be sure, but there was precious little time to think with demonic magic still raining down and a church to save.
"M... Marianne... I'm okay..." Damien brushed his clothes off, hefting himself back to his feet with a groan. He was lucky angels didn't get hurt as easily as humans did, otherwise his back was going to be smarting something awful. He fished out a cross necklace from under his shirt collar, took it off, and held it out by the chain to the girl. "Here, wear this when we try to get inside... it should protect you..."
"Damien..." She reached out with a small sound of awe and took the borrowed silver necklace, promptly putting it on over her sweatshirt. There was a warmth to the metal, even after the heat faded from it being close to the young man's body. A kind of lightness that surrounded it. Marianne couldn't quite put a word to the feelings... it was almost... blessed? Holy?
By this time, Damien's heart was already in his throat, and a blessed pellet was in his slingshot, blanketed with energy from his single proactive prayer. H... here goes nothing...
Avoiding Phantasmo's frantic motions made it harder to aim, and the first shot failed. So did the second. The angel was soon murmuring prayers frantically under his breath. But with luck he was sure could not be his own, finally the third pellet sailed onto the roof, and moments later, an agitated cry rose up from the demon.
"Angel...!" a hoarse and hideous voice cursed. Adrenaline had kicked in and was screaming at Damien's instincts to fire another shot while the demon was weakened. A first sailed too short, but when another struck, a burst of smoke went up from where the demon had been. Defeated? Probably not, the young man thought. He didn't want to be too hopeful. But he had at least harried it enough that the demon must've decided retreat was best for now. The gawky angel had surprised him--and himself.
“Angel?” Phantasmo said. “Hah! The demons are so terrified of me they think I’m an angel. How about that?”
The wizard peered inside through a broken window. It seemed to be empty on the inside, save for a small white furry creature strategically hidden in the remains of a statue.
“Hah!” the wizard shouted at any demon willing to listen. “You’d better run away from me, because I’m coming to smite you! Flee while you still can!”
Inside, the white animal moved it’s right front paw towards its face, and if Phantasmo had looked very closely, he might even have seen the cat roll his eyes while doing so. Instead, Phantasmo moved away from the window, gave Marianne (whose current stance and expression managed to mirror that of Cat surprisingly well) a thumbs-up, then went to the next window, ready to taunt the demons some more.
“You don’t stand a chance against me, so you’d bet- yeaAAARGH!” Phantasmo said straight to the face of the demon that was standing right on the other side of the window. Phantasmo’s knees, being a good deal more virtuous than the person they belonged to, decided to save Phantasmo’s life by collapsing just moments before a spell whizzed through the window.
OoC: Sorry for the delay. ^^; Mostly school's fault, but yay spring break!
"Marianne, get down!" Damien's voice screeched before they both hit the floor, behind some larger pieces of rubble. Demonic magic whooshed over them, making the air split and crackle with its dark energy. Fire? Or just so malicious it burned? The angel wasn't sure, but it made his whole body prickle and tingle with its proximity. This was bad. He'd gotten the Lord's help in taking down that first beast, but a whole church full of them...
"O-oh I hope Cat is okay..." Marianne murmured, holding her head with her hands as she quivered. She didn't dare try to look ahead and see the cackling demon or whatever might have befallen the animal beyond the open church door.
"H-h... he's smart... probably... probably smarter than the demons," Damien tried to assure her, but the quavering in his voice was none too helpful. And then under his breath, he began to pray. The only thing he could think to do was just try to purify the whole entrance, or if he got ambitious, the whole churchyard. If he fainted in the exhaustion of the process... well, it was no worse than being burned to a dark smear on the ground by some demon.
"Oh Father, we ask now..."
As he prayed, he wasn't aware that the demon was preparing for another spell, with its sights set on his hiding place.
Demon screams of agony are, if nothing else, unique. Spending most of your existence in a terrible netherworld where the very air is both poisonous and acidic, while everything is constantly trying to do horrible things to everything, probably has something to do with it.
Phantasmo, Damien and Marianne were experiencing demons screams of agony right now. A spell whizzed over the hiding place of the latter two, its caster unable to aim due to an unexpected white furry creature blocking its view while clawing at its face. Cat let go, and landed gracefully. If he’d been capable of speech, he would have spit out a one-liner ending in the word “bitch”.
He proceeded over to Phantasmo, and gave the wizard a very careful, well-calculated and very painful scratch across the face. Phantasmo sprang back into action from the shock, and quickly made his way over to Damien and Marianne, followed by Cat.
“So, uhh... Now what?”
OoC You ruined a perfect non-OoC-comment streak! ;-;
"Shhhh! Damien is working on something!" Marianne thwapped Phantasmo on the back of the head for quiet.
Ohhh, if only, Damien thought. He wished he had the focus to have kept up his prayer through all of that ruckus! He'd started and stopped, started and gotten cut off again so many times that he'd tangled his words, and was only just beginning another attempt. Meanwhile, horrible screams were coming from within the church. And most of them were human.
"Oh hurry, please, hurry..." the girl whispered as the angel tried to work. She picked up Cat and found comfort in gratefully stroking his fur. "You saved us, Cat... I wish I was more help... I-I... I'm afraid those screams were... w-were..."
Damien suddenly looked up from his prayers, peering at the building like he could see through walls. Words were echoing in his ears.
Someone... someone very holy is praying in there... his mind told him. It encouraged him to go on with his own recital. But as he did, he strode forward from out of their hiding spot, looking calm and focused and totally unconcerned with the threat of any demon attacks. He walked like a man well-practiced at crossing a tightrope, unwavering, guided by the voices. Someone was calling for angels. Something just felt natural about answering the prayer. A faint golden light began to outline his body as he walked.
"Oh Father, thy will be done..."
Under his feet, the ground also began to gently glow with energy. Marianne stared after him, eyes as wide as saucers.
"D... Damien...?" she looked down at Cat for a moment, wondering if he was seeing what she was seeing. Then she stood up, very much not wanting to be left behind. "Wait...! Come on, let's go inside! I think he's showing us the way!" The girl was uncertain how exactly she knew this, but a little warm feeling inside of her told her it had something to do with the cross the young man had given her to wear. Somewhere inside this church, a group of priests were still holding out. And she could only hope her uncle was among them.
Damien forged on into the dark, damaged church, his immediate path free and clear of demons. But there was no telling what lurked in the shadows of the broken pews and upturned furnishings, waiting to snatch them all away out of his faint holy light.
“C’mon, Cat,” Phantasmo whispered. “Looks like the chump has got everything under control. Let’s get out of here!”
Cat struck the most regal pose he could muster, looked straight at his wizard, yawned, then gracefully trotted towards Damien. Phantasmo made a rather less than wholesome comment, then chased after his familiar.
The brave adventurers (and Phantasmo) made their way forwards. The shadows moved altogether far too much. They were also making far too many creepy noises, and shooting far too much magical energy at the group (specifically, exactly enough magical energy for one fireball). The spell singed the side of the sorcerer’s skull-adornment.
As the demon who had casted the fireball showed itself, the wizard’s face was trying to decide whether it should be expressing mortal terror or burning rage (after all, wizards are very protective of their headgear), though it was very clearly leaning towards the former. The demon began preparing another spell, and it wasn’t the only one.
"D-Damien, what do we do...?" Marianne's trembling voice was asking.
He wasn't quite sure how to tell her he didn't know. Suggesting they all ducked sounded pretty lame right about then, over the sounds of the demon's disturbing chanting. But the voices were still further inside, calling for someone like him. He couldn't give up now, with everyone who was depending upon him. How fast were demons, anyway? Could they outpace them if they just broke out into a breakneck run?
"J... just hang onto that necklace I gave you..." was what he finally decided on saying.
Staying on course and hoping to the Lord that his holy energy could protect them seemed like a good plan, until another demon burst through the wall beside the spellcasting one, sending wooden paneling flying in a spray of splinters, snarling hunger and rage as it dragged a shuddering bald-headed priest out behind it, clutched in one of its hideous talons. It opened a gaping mouth, with rows of piercing yellow teeth, like a shark who wasn't too particular about cleaning its jaws of debris, and turned to the one readying fire.
"What is taking so long?" he hissed.
Fireslinger glared daggers back at Nastyteeth. "There'ssss... an angel here..."
Both demons turned poisonous looks towards Damien. And suddenly, he found himself wishing he could be a tiny little flea safe on Cat's back, instead of the gangling, lanky, awkward, six-foot-one-inch angelic target he was.
And as if things couldn't get any worse, Marriane thrust out her arm to point at the man in Nastyteeth's grasp and shrieked, "He has my uncle!"
O-oh Father, why couldn't there be a REAL angel here!? Someone who actually would know what they were doing! We're all gonna die!
Phantasmo quietly wondered if he would be able to convince anyone that he was the angel in question. The fact that the angelic glow had come from the chump was going to count against him. The fact that the demons were clearly considering Phantasmo to be little more than glorified scenery didn’t help either.
He considered giving a demon a face full of brick. He decided he was far too pretty to take such a risk. In the end, he came up with a rock-solid plan: he was going to cower like a little girl for a while and see if he couldn’t flee like a frightened little bunny. The wizard quickly went over the details in his mind; he proudly concluded that it was a brilliant strategy, though he expected nothing less of the genius that was himself.
Cat, meanwhile, was sneaking up on Nastyteeth. He stopped dead in is tracks when the demon hissed at the cat.
“One. More. Sssstep. And the old man gets it!”
Cat hissed right back at the demon, but didn’t take another step.
Then a winged man clad in a flowing white toga appeared out of the sky overhead and landed with a percussive stomp! and a flash of brilliant light right on Nastyteeth's head. The startled demon crunched and screamed, light burning into his blackened flesh and making it boil and melt.
"The angeeeel!" he screeched, squeezing the priest in his death grip even as the strength faded from his hands. What began as a crippling grasp amounted to nothing more than an aggressive hug, until Nastyteeth was a smoking pile on the floor under the winged man's golden sandals, sitting in a little puddle of black ooze and, well, nasty teeth.
"I'm sorry, did he say not another step?"
Michael the archangel, Damien's counselor and guide back in Heaven, the very angel who had allowed him to come down to Earth to search for happiness as he had longed to find, turned to the group with a wise, calm smile as he folded in his magnificent wings. Help from on high had come.
Damien could hardly believe his eyes.
He'd had faith, yes, as he always had, but never had one of his prayers been answered so swiftly or so directly before. Maybe it hadn't just been his calls that had fallen upon the Lord's ears, and brought his counselor to him. Maybe it had also been those pious voices he heard, trapped deeper in the church...
"M-M-Mah... M-M... Mich... Michael!" he managed, his brain still trying to catch up with a shockingly fortunate reality. No, no way this was his typical luck at all. The Lord had responded to all the staunch belief in this church, for sure. Damien thanked him over and over in his heart.
"It is I, yes," Michael dipped his blond head in a terse nod, wholly expecting or wholly ignoring his pupil's astonishment. "I have come to--" he paused mid-sentence, to seamlessly spin around, draw a gleaming broadsword, and slash through Fireslinger's neck as the demon tried to creep up on him. The grotesque creature's head hit the ground and rolled, as its severed neck spewed little screaming, crawling critters that went skittering away from the holy angel into the dark corners of the room. "--deal with the demons infesting this holy ground, Damien."
Marianne's eyes were fixated on the chiseled, rippling muscles Michael displayed as he went through the motions as casually as someone might swing a tennis racket, his legs flexing as he stomped on some of the critters. But then she noticed her uncle hurrying his way over to her, pale in the face and breathing hard.
"Marianne!" the bald priest called wearily.
"Uncle!" the blond girl cried, rushing over to support him. They embraced hard, both crying tears of relief and fear and gratitude, both still awed by the presence of the archangel in their midst. It was a moment of great affirmation for her Uncle Patrick's faith. God himself had sent someone to save him and his small cathedral.
"Do not celebrate yet," Michael advised, running cool gray-blue eyes over both Phantasmo and Cat as he spoke. The wizard, he decided, was of no real importance. He would be an obstacle at best, but he would certainly hurry himself out of the way when trouble broke out again. The cat on the other hand... the cat was a potentially worthwhile ally, assuming his "owner" hadn't tainted his clever mind.
"There are still others we must save."
Damien gulped at this. Michael just gazed down at Cat.
"You will help us save the other clergymen, feline, will you not?" he asked the animal, meeting its intelligent eyes for a moment. Cats were often one of his favorites amongst God's creatures. They held a certain dignity about them, even when other animals and humans were running around senselessly in danger, like chickens with their heads cut off. Felines kept their cool. He could appreciate that.
Phantasmo looked at the angel that had suddenly appeared. He tried to think of ways to look impressive when sharing the room with an arch-angel. He could think of none. He wondered if he could convince him to leave. Meanwhile, Cat was sharing some friendly banter with the divine being.
“Ah, but I am but a humble familiar. I can only go where my master goes. Or at least, that’s what it says in my job contract. Granted, I tend to interpret it a bit liberally from time to time. It helps that the wizard doesn’t know that I have to be near him at all times. He could’ve gone back home and I would’ve had to follow him, you know.”
“Anyway, those clergymen seem like the kind of folks that would be more than willing to give a cat some leftover food and a scratch behind the ears, so I’m in, but only on one condition. You have to promise the wizard’s getting a kick in the nuts. He needs one, it’s for the best.”
Michael restrained what would have been a most inappropriate chuckle and replied, "Quite unorthodox terms, but... agreed. If it's for the best."
Damien wasn't sure, but he swore he saw the archangel wink knowingly at Cat then. Maybe it was just some dust in his eye. Did that happen to archangels? Demon debris, maybe? That sounded even worse. He doubted that happened to anyone who looked like his mentor did.
He was about to ask what they'd do next when Michael spoke up, as if answering his thoughts.
"We must forge our way further--"
The rest of the sentence was drowned out by the sound of a giant, spiked shell breaking through wooden boards as if they were just oversized toothpicks. The first percussive crack shot through the air and made Marianne and Father Patrick rush to cover their ears and get behind Michael, as Damien's eyes debated whether it'd be worse to look or not look at the horrifying creature that was busting down the wall. On the one hand, he wouldn't have to see the terrible thing, but on the other, well... not seeing what it was doing sure put him at a steep disadvantage to evade whatever it was. In the mayhem, they all rushed behind the archangel, whether as a conscious choice or not, and formed up in a defensive triangle behind him with Michael on point. It didn't take the angel very long to realize they were all cowering and relying on him.
That was when two more of the abominable shelled demons broke through the walls, boasting spikes on their armored backs as hard as iron and hungry, gaping mouths. They fixed their red eyes on the small group and lumbered toward them like demented tanks, slow but steady as tortoises.
"O-oh God!" Marianne cried, hanging onto her uncle, "it just keeps getting worse!"
"Stay behind me, everyone!" Michael commanded, drawing his holy sword once again, "their heads are unprotected! If I can attack them there, they should go down well enough!"
"Cat, as long as you're working with me, you'll find yourself protected from damage. Can you go and strike their eyes? We can trust Damien enough to keep the girl and priest out of the path of danger."
A giant spiked demon had just crashed into the room. Phantasmo responded by running very quickly as far away from the demon as he could manage. He’d have gotten far were it not for another demon crashing through a wall right in front of him. He changed direction and made his way to the chick, the chump, and the champion of heaven. He started cowering behind Damien, hoping that the chump du jour was tastier than wizard flambé.
Cat, meanwhile, had no intention of allowing the demons either of those treats.
“Aim for the eyes, huh? Good thing I have experience in doing so. Just ask the wizard. He’ll tell you all about it.”
Cat proceeded to run at the nearest demon, and leapt at its face. Phantasmo’s familiar became a furious furball for a brief moment, before leaping off the hulking behemoth again, an eyeball on his right claw and another in his mouth. He calmly trotted back to the group to deposit the eyes in front of Phantasmo.
"Please," Michael answered, brandishing his sword, "we mustn't waste any time."
Damien watched in awe as his mentor charged forward and lopped the head clean off the blinded demon, earning himself a nasty spray of black ichor and a chilling, reverberating cry in return. T-the cat just... he... The beast's death roars shook the small church and loosened small boards and plaster from the ceiling, sending it raining down on the group. The young angel gave a little startled yelp, and hurriedly but clumsily led Marianne and Father Patrick dancing around out of the way of the falling debris. Phantasmo seemed to have his own ideas.
"C... careful everyone!"
Damien was leading them out of the path of some falling mortar when they bumped into the snout of one of the other demons, who snarled and opened its great maw.
"O-oh my L..."
"Damien, get away!" Michael shouted, already on the move.
Where just a moment earlier had stood a giant demon roaring at Damien, there was now a giant demon howling at the sudden and painful loss of its eyes. A white blur could be seen moving away from its face before depositing two eyeballs in front of a terrified Phantasmo.
Cat wasted no time, and immediately made his way to the last demon still capable of seeing, fully intent on making it match its comrade. Swiftly, two vicious glowing eyeballs were removed from its skull. Cat, ever the decent feline, made sure to once again give the eyeballs to his master, even if said master had gone catatonic.
“I hope I won’t have to keep removing eyeballs all night. They’re a ❤❤❤❤❤ to get off of my claws”
Michael gave a quick bark of a laugh, and made swift work of another of the blinded demons, seeming almost to glow with the glory of battle. His sword was a beam of light, a blade for good, and he matched Cat in grace as he charged towards each foe.
But as the archangel and feline were taking care of business, another entity was planning something different. The group seemed pretty solid; an arse-kicking archangel, a clever cat, a timid but trustworthy teenager, and their two humans. But then... there was the coward. A magic-user. One who probably knew how to side with the winning side. And if he could perhaps be offered something to help tip back the tide a little, betray the others...
Runt the demon had never been fond of his nickname, but he had always boasted a decent brain in his noggin to make up for it. And now... well, he could probably persuade and outsmart some human spell-slinger, couldn't he?
"O Great Wizard..." he whispered in a magic-enchanted voice, sending the words to Phantasmo as the last shell-demon's head went rolling and spilling ichor. "Why shouldn't it be you everyone is cheering on out there...?"
Phantasmo was no fool. This much he was sure of. Reality didn’t quite agree on the matter, but reality, unfortunately, had yet to convince Phantasmo. At any rate, the great wizard was more than a little enticed by the demon’s offer.
“You’re right! Everyone should be cheering on me! What did you have in mind?” Phantasmo said, his words echoing through the church.
Runt had never been very happy with his physique. He’d often wished for bigger scythes, or stronger tentacles, or a more powerful jaw, or maybe even great fiery wings. Right now, however, the one part of anatomy he missed having the most was a forelimb ending in a hand to apply to his oversized forehead.
"Well... could you not summon up a spell to best that archangel? Show him how it is done...? Make him look poorly compared to you?" Runt hedged. He was suddenly having some very grave misgivings about this plan, but with little other options left to him, he figured he may as well go for broke. If things went wrong, he could at least scurry away before he was seen. That was one of the only advantages of being so small.
"Join with me, and we shall make a fool of that sword-swinging glory-hog... what say you?"
Would this idiot wizard really help him kill the other demons and throw a wrench into the angels' efforts as he wished? Not a snowball's chance back Home, he thought, but maybe a half-assed attempt at either could accomplish something. The fewer demons left, the higher he could move up the devilish chain of command in this dump for his cunning. And then let the wizard take the blame.
Phantasmo was a man with a plan. A brilliant plan. A plan that was in now way inspired by any demons. That last part may have been an outright fabrication, but as far as the wizard was concerned, no-one would ever know aside from the demon, and only a complete idiot would trust a demon.
“Hey angel guy,” the brilliant wizard said to Michael, “I just came up with an absolutely brilliant plan that’s sure to make us win this thing! All you have to do is stand perfectly still for a few minutes and not break my concentration. Also, if it looks like I’m going to cast a spell to kill you, you should ignore it. Can’t possibly go wrong with this!”
Michael surely hadn't intended it to be a killing blow. No, he probably feared the idiot blood might be infectious if he spilled it. So instead, he simply clubbed the wizard with the flat of his sword hard enough to make sure he stayed out for maybe a week. Maybe more. He wasn't too concerned about the timeframe.
Then, because the archangel was the type to keep a promise, he was sure to raise a knee as hard as stone while he caught Phantasmo, which just happened to hammer him in the groin while his arms supported his fall. All totally in the interest of helping him, of course. As was the cavalier way he just tossed him over his shoulder as if he were a slab of pork.
"We must be on the move!" he beckoned to his allies. This was one of the very rare times Runt wished he could actually be smaller. Then maybe he could crawl into a crevice somewhere where the archangel's piercing gray-blue eyes did not see.
"Cat, there is one last rat to be had. There, hiding behind the rubble, it cloaks itself from sight. The light from my sword shall make it visible."
Damien watched in awe as his mentor pointed his blade at a pile of debris, and an ugly little thing wriggled out and away from the light, shrieking. H...has that thing been here the whole time?
"I-I offer peeeeace!" Runt screamed.
"It looks kinda like those rats from that Pinky and the Brain cartoon..." Marianne murmured to Damien, as she and her uncle huddled near him to watch.