Blaylock went through the incantations under his breath as he packed his bag. He would have to be word-perfect; one slip of the tongue and – well, he didn’t like to think of the consequences. He weighed bags of salt in his hands. Would four be enough? Was there to time to pick up more on the way? Perhaps the villagers would have some. It was in their interests, after all.
The Book of Araminth… The weighty tome, rumoured to be bound in human skin, from whence he drew all his arcane knowledge, dare he risk bringing it with him? Dare he risk leaving it behind, where the wrong hands might come across it? But to carry it with him – it could only slow him down should the need to run arise.
He decided to take the book to the outskirts of the village where he would stash it in some outbuilding to be retrieved when his work was done.
The Sacred Daggers of Muzardo… so sharp they hurt the eyes that looked upon them. Blaylock had rolled them in oilcloth, each handle nestled in its own little pouch. He ran over the formation that must be used to pin a dark entity to an altar: a quincunx, first the centre where the fiend’s heart would be (if these creatures could be said to have hearts), then the corners, top left, bottom right, bottom left, and top right… Or was it top right and then bottom left?
Blaylock couldn’t remember. He consulted the Araminth. He’d been right the first time. It doesn’t pay to second guess – and out in the field, there would be no time for second attempts.
The village had been plagued with hellacious outcasts for weeks. The villagers had tried everything in their power. The local holy man had been found, with his insides on the outside, impaled on his own steeple. The monsters were preying on the young; it was the usual pattern: possession, corruption from within, using the host body to commit atrocities, damning the souls of the possessed into the bargain.
And now, in their desperation, Blaylock had been enlisted. As a last resort. It was invariably the case, when consulting a professional demon hunter ought to be the first port of call. It was as though his clients only truly believed they were battling the dark forces of Hell when everything else had failed.
Well, Blaylock smirked, adjusting his black hat, it meant he could keep his prices high. Desperate people in desperate times would rain money on their saviour.
He left his greatcoat unbuttoned to allow easy access to the weapons and the vials of holy water in his belt. He strapped the Sword of Uthorn to his back and hitched the strap of his carryall over his shoulder.
He was ready.
At the door, he paused.
What if you’re not ready? A voice plucked at his mind. What if you can’t do it? You’ll probably stumble over the words, you tongue-tied fool! You won’t have enough salt to draw the pentagram. You’ll cut yourself on the daggers. You’ll let those people down. All those people who have put their faith in you – they’re all going to die, they’re all going to be dragged down to the bowels of Hell, all because you aren’t good enough. You’re not good enough. You’re worthless. Useless, worthless, piece of shit.
Blaylock turned from the door and sat on a chair.
The one demon he couldn’t defeat had him in his clutches, and down in the valley, the village burned and the people screamed.