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"Be it known, I am opposed to what you are about to do. My voice shall travel far into the night. The demons will hear and they will be angry," said Sylvia.
"Oh, shut the hell up," Franz hissed. His words were quickly absorbed by the oppressive heat of the summer night. He loathed his older sister, but if all went as planned, he would soon be rid of her.
Franz continually used his talents for wickedness, but Sylvia countered nearly all of his evil incunabula with a balm of benevolence. But this will soon change, he thought. If tonight's work goes well, I shall hold dominion over her. No longer will she thwart my spells nor cast my magicks aside with her negations--I, Franz von Blut, will smite her down, break her will, and destroy her utterly.
And then Franz would be the last of his family's long line of sorcerers. He would inherit all of the land, the great castle that stood upon it, the lovely books in the ancient library--EVERYTHING. He would remove his sister and no power in Heaven or Hell could?
Sylvia was whispering something that broke his concentration. He glared at her, but she did not respond as her own eyes were closed in prayer to whichever saint or angel might be listening. He shook his head and tried as best he might to ignore her, little knowing that his sister's spiritual entreaty was for "deliverance, whatever the cost." She could not, in good conscience, kill her own next of kin, but the thought of his demise did not displease her.
Sylvia continued for several minutes, then after a breathy "Amen," moved away from the area Franz had been preparing for his "workings." She moved backward, always keeping him in her sights untilshe'd maneuvered herself as carefully as possible through patches of thick weeds and felt something solid against her back. Looking round, she could discern a tall monument silhouetted in the humid, foggy gloom of twilight. The thing was nearly nine feet in height and its overall shape marvelously preserved considering the aeons it had brooded over the place. She traced a hand across the cool surface trying to make some sense of what had been written there, but the inscription was worn away to illegibility. Memento mori? Requiescat in pace? Impossible to tell for certain after the winds and rains of centuries.
Franz glanced up once more from his labors, briefly noted his sister's absence with a mumbled "Good riddance," then went back to scribing symbols into the soft earth beneath him. Soon it would be too dark to see anything--he wanted to be finished before night descended, but already he could barely make out what he was doing. When conjuring denizens from the Nether Realms one did not skimp on detail so he removed a small flashlight from a knapsack and flicked it on. He assumed no one outside the cemetery would notice, but knew that if they did, their superstitious minds would steer them away in fear of spirits, spooks, and worse. In this, their fears were justified.
Sylvia could see the wan glow of her brother's electric torch and knew he'd soon finish this stage of his operations and move on to more malevolent actions. I need to protect myself, she thought, but how? Usually, she had some clue to the type of madness Franz intended, but this time he had not made threat or boast of his plans. Indeed, he had been suspiciously absorbed in the family library, where'd he'd spent the majority of the past month, scrutinizing the weighty tomes bound in exotic hides and writ in blood.
Despite the muggy air, Sylvia shuddered as the sweat on her neck cooled with a sudden breeze. The sensation was that of icy fingers scraping the flesh from her nape. "This is going to be bad," she said and the sound of her own voice set her in motion. She rummaged through her purse in hopes of finding something, anything, that might serve her to?
To what? she thought. To stop Franz? "Yes," she said in reply to her own query, but she was terrified to admit to herself that merely stopping Franz was not the first thought that had come into her head.
Now the darkness seemed a living thing; a steamy entity pervading the lightless chasms of dreams--the chiaroscuro of night was such that she could not see, but she fumbled in her bag until her fingers encountered several familiar objects. She withdrew a pocketknife and packets of salt and sugar filched from some restaurant or other. Sylvia knelt to the moist ground, opened the knife and called upon Uriel the Just to bless her hand. Moving about on her knees, she used the blade to etch a large circle of her own--one that included the obelisk behind her. The protection ring grew larger still when she was forced to detour around a shaft of wood protruding from a grave whose headstone was so overgrown it could no longer be seen. It would have been easier to remove the stake, but Sylvia feared it might have been driven in to nail down a spirit, and thus, keep it from roaming. With Franz up to no good, there would be more than enough supernal forces flitting about; she needn't contribute by freeing others.
Repeating a prayer like a holy mantra (quietly, so as not to wake the dead), Sylvia inscribed another smaller circle near the center of the first. Within this enclosure she hoped to weather whatever shit-storm her brother was about to unleash.
After carving the names of other angels and spirits with her makeshift athame, she recited them aloud while turning to the four cardinal points: to the south, the west, the north, and finally to the east. As her body moved her hands gyrated in even smaller circles and hummed with static electricity. As she continued, her gestures produced green sparks and silver fire from her fingertips until the very air surrounding her crackled with the discharge and began to glow.
Sylvia opened one of the packets and touched the split end to her tongue. Sugar. She put it aside and tasted another and another until she found the salt. She dumped the contents into the palm of her left hand and sprinkled it over the circumference of the smaller ring. Her sanctum complete, Sylvia sat back against the stone to wait for her brother to finish raising Hell.
After perhaps an hour-and-a-half of preparation, Franz spoke the requisite words of entreaty and his voice rang out across the night as he called upon Dantalian and Furfur to answer his summons.
"Ye, great demons who turn men's minds from good to evil, ye who control all the storms of the sky, ye sentinels of Hell's depths grant this worthy mortal one boon on this night."
As Franz repeated his litany his voice continued to gain in volume until Sylvia was convinced she would be deafened by the din. She pressed her palms to her ears to shut it out, but his voice continued to echo in her head. Franz stopped speaking long before the cacophony dimmed inside her mind. By the time she looked up to see what next he would do, she saw Franz chewing a deep groove into the soft meat of one hand. He let the blood flow out upon the earth in sacrifice to those evil lords from whom he hoped would grant him favor. Both of them waited; Franz's body a stiff cipher of anticipation, while Sylvia trembled with dread, but his fancy words and offering went unnoticed. Nothing in the graveyard stirred, not even the ghosts moved about on this night, and after several hours of further recitation, Franz was tired and in too poor a temper to continue.
Through the interminable tedium of waiting, Sylvia had continued her prayers to Azrael, and Michael the Avenger. Simultaneously, she'd kept her attention focused upon Franz, waiting for the worst to happen. When nothing did, she was surprised, and perhaps a little disappointed since she despised him equally as much as he hated her. His light had dimmed to nothing as the drained batteries finally died, thus, she could see little more than a lighter outline of her brother's tow-haired head bobbing around as he threw his supplies into his satchel and prepared to leave.
Sylvia listened as Franz scooped up his pages of scribbled reference, a scribe, and the ashy remains of some burnt offering and was momentarily blinded when he struck a match and set fire to the sheets of notes.
Franz held the makeshift torch aloft and searched the site of his failure making certain to leave nothing behind. Sylvia watched in silent dread as the widening arc of his footsteps took him closer and closer to his circle's edge. You wouldn't be stupid enough to?
But he was. Before she could warn him, Franz accidentally stepped on the outermost line of his protection ring obliterating it. In that instant, two great hands shot forth from the ground in an explosion of soil and the remains of what had been buried beneath it. Franz was knocked off his feet, but was snatched up and made airborne so quickly by the scabrous limbs that, to Sylvia, he seemed little more than a blurred ghost floating in the foggy air.
She strained her eyes to see what fate awaited him, but the sheets of paper flickered out and she was left to imagine the rest. Franz tried to scream, but the sound was little more than a whistling gurgle. Then there was what sounded like dry twigs snapping as his vertebrae shattered and his innards liquefied. The mighty talons wrung his body like a wet towel and dropped it in a sodden pile.