Gerry sat cross-legged on the ground with half a dozen tomes spread out in a crescent moon shape around him. His eyes darted back and forth between them gathering information and storing it much more quickly and effectively than a human brain was capable of.
He’d moved the table to the opposite side of the room with a thought, which cleared a large open space for him in the center. In the open space he’d drawn a perfect circle. It was drawn in something sticky and red that had a strong smell of iron. That circle was divided into six sections and in each section a symbol was drawn. Those symbols were still drying, and one had begun to drip.
<Damn.> Gerry used his thumb to wipe away the leakage and return the symbol’s integrity.
The six symbols had varying levels of depth to them. They were more than something sketched out on the hardwood floor. They meant something more.
Gerry double checked all of the symbols, and then waved a hand and half the old, leather-bound books closed with a ominous SNAP. His first creation circle was complete.
He took a deep breath and smiled as the power of his demesne flowed into him unencumbered. It had been collecting for days, and it felt like submerging his head into an ice bath. It shocked him down to his core, and he felt his human form strain to contain it all. He pulled until he couldn’t hold anymore and channeled it into the circle.
The outer perimeter shimmered and glowed a deeper, sinister red before flames lept into the air. The scarlet tongues of fire didn’t scorch the hardwood or even heat up the penthouse. If anything, they gave the room a more cheerful glow.
<It’s ready.> Gerry consulted the remaining tomes and gathered the energies around him. He’d never done this before and he didn’t want to waste what he and his demesne had already collected.
The first symbol he had written in his own blood was the ancient alchemic sign for water. The inverted triangle shimmered just as the outer perimeter of the circle had, but it didn’t burst into flame. Instead he smelled an ocean breeze and tasted salt on the tip of his tongue. The symbol turned blue and rippled as he infused it with the natural element pulled from the environment around him. He used the skills he’d learned as a martial magician. It wasn’t that much different from pulling his human Chi and forming it into weapons.
Once the symbol was stable with a full amount of energy he tied it off and moved on to the second symbol. The symbol for Earth, a prerequisite for creating any creature in this realm, was nearly identical to the inverted triangle meaning water. The difference was that a line was draw horizontally through the triangle. Gerry focused beneath the foundation of the building and felt the warmth of the planet itself. He smelled richly turned soil as he channeled the power into the symbol. Instead of glowing it seemed to darken and grow more solid than the floor it was written on.
While the water symbol rippled, the symbol for Earth stood firm and resolute. It was the foundation for what he was trying to accomplish.
<Two down, six to go.> He felt a surge of excitement as he consulted the tomes again. There was just something about playing god that was intoxicating.
The third symbol was the symbol for air, a regular triangle with a horizontal line through it. As he reached up and pulled power from the atmosphere he didn’t smell or taste anything. This time he felt absolute freedom coarse through him. It was the opposite of the firmness of the Earth.
As power poured into the air symbol it became nearly intangible. To anyone else it would have looked like a wisp of nothing, but Gerry could see the power anchored to the section of the circle.
<Now on to the fun stuff.> The natural elements were the foundation of what he was creating, but to fulfill his mission it needed his own infernal touch.
“Wrath.” He muttered, pulling from his demesne and harnessing the anger and violence that he’d collected from the city.
It was surprising that such a simple symbol could create so much power. It was another horizontal line, curved upward at each edge like a scythe. In the center, pointing down and slightly outward were two more lines that looked like a mix between fangs and a curved sword blade. It burned the same red as the encircling fire, and Gerry could feel a rise in his bloodlust that he had to beat back before tying off the power.
“Gluttony.” He whispered the name for the fifth symbol.
It reminded him of an upside down smiley face, without the eyes, and if it was on the face of a mad-man. The symbol ate the power Gerry pumped into it like some ravenous beast. It roiled when he cut off the flow, and settled into shimmering blackness, like when oil sat on top of water.
“And lastly, a dab of Pride.” Gerry felt his chest puff out, his back straighten, and his chin rise as power flowed through him, from his demesne, into what looked like a tortured Y. It glowed with a golden color that reflected every image in its best light.
Gerry took a deep breath and exhaled. The ritual had taken power from several sources and his human husk was feeling the results. But he wasn’t done yet. Six fully empowered symbols of natural and infernal power waited for his command inside the creation circle.
All he needed to do was be God.
He got to his feet and rubbed his hands together. He channeled more power into the circle’s perimeter to ensure nothing leaked. He double checked the seals, took another peak at the tomes, and clapped his hands together.
A mini shockwave of creation exploded as the lines dividing the circle’s section vanished and the symbols exploded to cover as much space as possible. Earth, air, and water rushed to the center. They pushed past the emotional energies to form the foundation. Wrath, greed, and pride fought each other for space as the natural elements started to harden.
<Now!> Gerry sliced his palm with a knife and splattered blood on the construct.
It recoiled at first, but then the blood penetrated the weak areas. The thing shuddered as infernal power flooded into it. Wrath, gluttony, and pride took the opportunity to enter the construct as well.
<Easy…easy…> Gerry took hold of his creation with his mind and started to gently bend it to his will.
He looked down at a picture he had and worked off that. Time flew by as he created, but he didn’t notice any of it. He was completely engrossed in his work.
Finally, he was satisfied. He pulled back from his creation and let the circle of fire dissolve. The hardwood was undamaged and all signs of the creation circle were gone – until a claw reached out and dug a shallow groove in the wood.
“No!” Gerry admonished the creature by waving a finger in its face. “Bad Dog!” A carpet appeared underneath his creations feet, causing it to jump in surprise and start wagging its tail.
The dog obeyed and a large bone appeared at its feet. It went to work chewing it to pieces while Gerry sat back and watched.
<Now what should I name you?> His thoughts were interrupted as he felt a presence approaching the edges of his demesne.
“Stay.” The dog continued to chew on its toy and didn’t move as he approached the elevator.
A few seconds later it dinged and opened to reveal Vicky and another Soulless that Gerry hadn’t met.
“Sir,” Vicky bowed. “I’ve brought…” she caught sight of the dog, “…what the fuck is that thing?”
Calling it a dog was a bit of a crude classification. It was three feet tall on all fours with short black fur that bristled when it realized Vicky was addressing it. Hellfire burned in its eyes as it got to its feet and opened its massive maw. Swirling darkness stirred in its gullet while thick needle-like teeth gnashed in agitation.
“Easy boy.” Gerald put a hand out and the dog listened.
<That’s the beauty of being something’s creator. Absolute loyalty is a built in feature.>
“That thing is butt-ugly.” Vicky grimaced, which got her another growl.
“It is magnificent, Dux.” The other Soulless got on one knee in submission. “I have never been in the presence of a Hellhound, but it is a truly breathtaking creature. “
“So that’s not just a butter-face dog?”
Both Gerry and the new fellow shot her glares. Gerry’s hound was back to ignoring her though. He was too focused on his bone.
“Infernals have used Hellhounds as soul hunters for centuries. Give the masterful creature a scent and it will track it’s pray to the end of the earth, kill it, and eat its soul.”
Gerry was starting to like the new guy.
“Enter.” He allowed them to step into his demesne. “And who are you?”
“I am Anton, Dux, an emissary from my lord in Charleston. I have a message from him and Lord Lucifer.”
That put Gerry on edge, but he didn’t let it show. The last thing he needed was another Dux butting into his territory while he was still building his powerbase.
“What does your lord have to say?”
“My lord wishes to congratulate you on your ascension. He and the previous Dux had a mutual understanding and business relationship that was profitable to both parties. My lord simply wishes for that to continue.” Anton remained bowed the whole time he spoke.
“Do you have details of this arrangement?”
“Of course, Sir.”
“Leave them with Vicky. I will review them shortly, but as long as nothing is too arguable I don’t see any reason why a mutual partnership, where we both benefit, can’t continue. I will send word for you when I have completed my review.” He didn’t want to give any ground, so as long as there were no concessions within his territory Gerry wasn’t opposed to an alliance.
“Yes, Dux.” Anton bowed deeper and returned to the elevator. He knew when he was being dismissed.
Vicky…not so much.
“Why did you create a dog?” She looked around him at the heavily-muscled beast.
“Can’t I have a companion?” He teased as he went over to rub the infernal beast’s ears.
“I can get you a companion. A companion who will make you feel a lot better in the downstairs play area.” She frowned.
“You need to think a little farther ahead, Vicky.” He chided her. “I’m moving through these contracts and gaining the locals’ trust, but I’m going to have to start picking off the competition. The newest mystery martial magician in town is going to be the obvious suspect unless I have an alibi.”
He patted the hellhound’s head and a spark of enlightenment flared in his mind.
“I’m gonna call you Grimm.”
He grinned at Vicky, while Grimm drooled all over the carpet. He thought it was pretty clever, but the Soulless just rolled her eyes. Apparently, there were books and a TV show that already used the name.