Lying back in the bed, Huan hummed a nameless tune as she listened to James shower in the bathroom.
She was dressed in her usual sleeping attire, and was surprised at how warm she felt despite her simple shorts-and-shirt combination. Reaching into the nightstand, she pulled out a ziploc baggie of rilled cigarettes.
"Hey James?" She called out, putting a joint between her lips. "You going to be much longer?"
James answered from within the shower. "Yeah, kind of sore after training today. Not all of us hold a demon in our crotch, so you'll have to be patient."
Huan snorted. The Chinese-American was a vivacious twenty-two year old college student. She'd probably be wasting her time studying if it hadn't been a chance phone call from her illustrious professor.
Davis Nickels had called, and she'd answered with utmost glee. She was getting A's in all her courses, as Davis had quite a bit of clout in the Archaeology office, and she was allowed to play with guns all day long. From an early age, she'd been around firearms, her father teaching her how to handle them as he was in probably the worst profession to be in.
"Hope you're happy, wherever you are Dad..." Huan smiled, taking a long pull off the freshly lit joint. "Now I'm the one hunting monsters!"
Huan ran a hand under her short and over her stomach, past a column of runic tattoos that crawled from her hip, all the way to her neck. The runes thrummed to life, marking a slight chuckle from Huan.
Every time that happens, the Father's child is trying to break free, Huan thought, remembering what the monks high in the Nanling Mountains had said. The three women had taken her aside, pulling her clothes off before pushing her into a natural spring. They'd scrubbed the grime from her days of travel, wiping the blood that'd splashed on her away, before guiding her to a calm older man.
Ever since she'd met Davis, Huan couldn't really call anyone an "old man." The codger was easily over the century mark, and would deflect any questions asked of him that tried to pinpoint his date of birth.
The older man in waiting for her and the entourage of monks had pointed to the stone floor, where an animal pelt had been laid out. Huan had lied down, before the strange man flipped her to her back.
Taken by surprise, she'd been prepared to hurt the shorter figure, only for the monks to hold her down. One, the only one that spoke Mandarin, had told her that she was to get a religious marking to help the seed of the Father assimilate within her.
That'd led to a strange conversation.
The actual tattooing was performed by four younger monks, all watched over by the older one. The short man had walked around them, barking orders in their strange language. The three female monks had begun to chant after forming a triangle around Huan. While not well-versed with the Ether, even she had been able to notice the passage of power that flowed over her during the ritual.
Now, a little over a year later, she was smoking weed in Blackmoore Manor, a historic site that Davis owned. He lived there during his stay in the States, and would lease out the halls as a paranormal museum. She chuckled to herself, as there would be some gala held to honor Davis's work in Asia.
James, clad in a towel with dripping hair, walked into the room. His fair skin and white locks were fairly new, as he'd been foolish to look into one too many a dark manuscript. His year at the monastery had been like hers; endless training in martial arts, mystic studies, and swordplay. When James was busy studying the Ether, she would listen to other Blessed who were bonding with the demonic essence of the Father of Flesh.
James cleared his throat. "Mind sharing?"
Huan gave a lecherous grin. "Loose the towel and we'll talk..."
Before James could respond, he doubled over in agony. Eyes wide enough for Huan to see his pupils roll into the back of his skull, he crashed into the floor.
Leaping to him, Huan winced as she splashed into a puddle of crimson slime. Confused, she flipped hjim over to look for any sign of a wound.
She found it.
A carved pentagram lined with strange markings, the old wound had bubbled with new life as blood flowed from the brand. Huan dropped to her knees, lifting James up enough that she could look into his eyes.
He didn't stare back, he didn't even look confused or disoriented. His bloodshot orbs were devoid of an iris.
"Shit!" Huan exclaimed, turning to look at the door. "Professor! Lawrence! Come quick, I need help!"
Nobody responded, though Huan could hear the slow thuds of something heavy dropping in the night. She looked down at James, putting a hand over the bleeding brand. The blood sloshed out like a faucet blocked, the overwhelming force pushing through her fingers increasing her worries.
"Fuck!" Huan cried, draging James through the blood to prop him against the end of the bed. She pushed up top her feet, slipping in the two to three centimeters of blood filling the room.
The heavy strikes made the manor shudder, the floor heaving as if it were breathing. Huan ran over to the bureau that held all of her clothes, flinging it open. Pushing her clothes down the pole, she found the gun safe that'd been installed there. Jamming a thumb up to the print scanner, she waited for the beep.
The safe popped open, revealing a liberal collection of shotguns and boxes of shells. Pulling down the Remington 870P, she grabbed a box of ammunition and quickly began to load it.
"Can't believe this shit," she muttered, jumping in surprise when a miniature wave of blood lapped at her ankles. "Goddammit! I don't know who the fuck is doing this, but you are so fucking dead!"
Spinning to look across the blood-drenched room, she pumped the first shell into the shotgun. "Alright, you better be ready to deal with me, whoever the fuck you are!"
The distant sound, which had slowly been growing closer, fell silent. The blood, hot and steaming, bubbled as if someone was swimming beneath the surface. Stepping up, and out, of the blood and into the bureau, Huan studied the room.
"Deal?" A horrid voice, almost impossibly alien, croaked from the darkness of the bureau. "You wish to bargain?"
Huan spun in place, letting out a breath.
The gun safe was still open, but was no longer a container that held her armament. Instead, there was a slatted panel, the like one see in a confessional that separated the priest from the congregant.
A foul odor, a combination of rotting meat and manure, wafted from beyond the panel.
"Oh fuck," Huan said, wincing as her tattoo began to heat to a painful degree.
Dark laughter, the sound of several voices coughing through a phlegm-filled mouth, echoed from beyond the darkness.