“Devil’s Revenge” Chapter 19

 Devil Overlooking Paris

There! He said it. Or almost. As in, “If I claimed you on the terms of love…” Not exactly a declaration, but close to something. What, I wasn’t at all sure. Perhaps it was as close as he could get, considering he was only half mortal. Perhaps that other half of him kept from acknowledging anything of  love.

I wondered how I should feel. I once considered myself a virtuous wife. Before that, a virtuous woman. I had been raised in the turmoil of free sex and much changing of partners, but escaped much of that to be married  early. The temptations of sex, when actually tasted, were enough like water, and they went through me with little regard for my memory or heart. I married for the second time to a gentle and generous man, younger, who was kind to a fault. I was left to myself, mostly and I had my own interests.   Not having children did not help fill up my days. My husband encouraged me in most things, and I did not realize for many years how lonely I had grown. There was nothing wrong with him, just a natural growing apart over the years. It happened with many couples and was the standard among most of my friends of a similar age. I had no intention of taking a lover, because the men I met were not of much interest. On occasion I would meet a man and a small flame of passion would spring up for a while, would flicker faintly, then sputter out. These little dances generally bored.   I went through the rounds of a mild courtship very rarely, but either grew tired or disinterested. Men were just too full of their own issues to be I wanted. I wouldn’t be able to even say what that was, but I knew something was missing. An emptiness, a void, no different from anyone else, but something that gave a dull pain when I remembered to think.

The Demon had crashed into my life like a rock through a window. There were no decisions to make, he was just there. I was sure he had put a charm over my heart, for I rarely thought about my sweet husband, nor my household. I did miss my chickens. He had taken away both the guilt of my leaving, and the guilt of our coupling. My reality had shifted, had changed, and what I was ‘living’ daily now, was more real to me than anything before. I didn’t miss friends, husband or anyone else. They were almost immaterial, just fading memories pricking at the edge of my conscience every once in a while. I was even losing the memory of their voices, and the memory of the touch of my husband. Surely magic played in the equation, there was nothing else that could explain it. It was a cruel magic though, because it robbed me of something that was once important.

But if I really was truthful, I believed myself to be living in a dream; a nightmare at times, but  mostly an extended dream.  How could this happen?  I had no answers and it was as if I had fallen down a rabbit hole to a dimension of unbelievable chaos.  No rational mind could accept the living these past few weeks.  Still, I thought the dream would end, and with a snap of my fingers, I would return, all atoms and molecules in place, to a rational  and known life.

“You are pensive this morning, Bess. Why such a long face?” He came in, stamping his boots, for the snow has not stopped for two days and mounted up the steps of the house. It was silent outside, and the same in the house. I could well believe him when he said the house was haunted..

“I am thinking about my life before you and wondering why I don’t remember  much. Have you cast a spell over my brain so I don’t?”

He removed his overcoat and rubbed his bare hands by the fire. He didn’t answer, but stared into the flames.

“I had thought of doing so in the beginning. But I didn’t.”

“Then how can I account for this loss of memory?”

He turned and  looked at me sitting at the little table and smiled. “Perhaps something has changed in your heart. Perhaps  nothing at all to do with magic.”

Was it possible to love two men at the same time? But this hardly accounted for a similar time sequence. I had come into his dimension, left my own reality. I could not deny I cared for this man, or demon, whatever he was. If love meant tenderness, then yes, I loved him. I had grown tender towards him, and it seemed enough for now. But there was still a future, and I was concerned where this was going.

“Garrett, I will try not to call you ‘demon’ any longer. I don’t know what you are, but I admit that I have grown to care. You have shown the same.   Oh, I don’t like you stopping up my voice!  No, that is not what I am talking about. That was annoying! But I can understand why you did it. Especially if it kept us alive.”

I fell silent, trying to gather my thoughts.. “What comes next? I don’t mean Andras or Obadiah or anything else of magic or that other world. What happens to us?”

Garrett looked into the fire. “I have been thinking of that.”

He looked at me with an expression I could not read and sighed.

“You know that I am not mortal. Only half.   But that half gives me some of the feelings mortals have. What they are and what they mean, I don’t know.   I don’t understand what mortals call ‘love’. Except in the coupling. That I can understand.”

He smiled and I wondered what he really knew of the human heart.

“Little.” He was again minx-reading..

“Perhaps the blood of my immortal father doesn’t give room for the heart.”

“Garrett, listen to me. Most of us mortals don’t understand love. It’s not just demons or spirits or humans who are confused. It can be treacherous ground.”

“Do you want to go home to your husband, Bess?”

I thought for a few moments. Since he had appeared, memories of my former life and my husband seemed to fade. Oh, not completely. I was racked with guilt from time to time, but this life here, with him, seemed more real than my previous life. I can’t account for this at all, but perhaps it had something to do with the way I appeared in this room. Perhaps the molecules of my brain, my memory, were scrambled. In any case, I was more than curious about him .Some thing was powering my life. I had no control over events.  This was hard to accept, but there seemed to be elements at work that were incomprehensible, at least to me.

“Garrett. I want us to decide what we are going to do. Here. Are we to have some sort of ‘life’ together? Is that what you want?”

“Good woman, what can I tell you? I have this issue of Obadiah in front of me. I have to keep him from taking you.   I don’t want him to have you, and for my own reasons.  I know he would kill you. Perhaps I will get us both killed.” He looked back quickly into the fire and was silent.

“Is there no way we can flee all this? Go to another dimension?”

“You have heard of the “Hounds of Hell”, Bess? They exist for a reason.”

“So, the only way is to make a stand and defeat Obadiah?”

“Seems so to me. Of course, there are other Demons to advise…   The battles, the forces. Remember, Bess, all this was set in motion long before you were here. This has been brewing with Obadiah for a very long time. Would have to be settled in some life.”

“Garrett. Would you want to have a child by me?” He seemed surprised by my asking.

“I thought you detested the idea.”

“I never had a child, and have missed being a mother. If we had any future together, I would not be totally against it.”

“Well, darling one, there’s fun in the making of babies…even baby demons. Do you think you could love a child who was part immortal?”

“If I loved you, sweetie, I could love your child.”

“I would be willing, but we should see to defeating Obadiah first. Would not be good for you to breed and fall into his hands. Abigor is right. I need to keep close watch on you. Obadiah would want to snatch you away from under my nose. A babe in your belly would give him even more reason to do so.”

I shivered in spite of the warmth of the room.

The afternoon was a quiet one, no usual tricks from him. He read his books in his library downstairs and I worked on his vest. He said I could roam the house at will, and decided to see more of the kitchen. It was colder in the main house than in my bedroom, and I dressed with more petticoats under my skirt. I had a good woolen shawl to cover my bodice and a pair of soft leather shoes to wear. I went down to the hall, past his open library door, where I saw him quietly reading at his desk, and into the kitchen passage. There was no door to the kitchen, just a wide entrance. These houses were built for large trays to be brought to rooms. There must have been servants hired from the surrounding farms. These would have been maids for the laundry once a week, though where the copper boilers were I didn’t know. Might be in an outbuilding, where wood and grain were usually stored. A cook would have been employed and a general housekeeper with a few young country girls to clean the house and change the linens. Probably there were rooms in the attic or somewhere in the house where a housekeeper would live. The house had grown larger over the generations, and it probably meant land was acquired for farming and timber. Whatever the source of the wealth of the original family, they must have been comfortable for the times. I do remember the owner of this house, as I wrote him in the book: Jacob Wyckoff. He was a draftsman, designed some of the houses in the area, and worked from pattern books from England. Actually, he was what would be considered an architect for this region. I remember writing a section where he designed an addition to a farmhouse. This was common in the eighteen hundreds as multigenerational family would live out their lives in the same house.

I looked in at the kitchen. The stove was still warm, no fire in the fireplace. The room was cold enough to wrap the shawl tighter around my shoulders. The flagstones that made up the kitchen floor were dirty from feet tramping in from the outside. I went about the task of making a fire in the stove, and having worked a woodstove before, I knew how to lay a fire. There was kindling enough and some smaller logs, and I teased a fire slowly to life. That done, I looked around the cupboards for something to cook for the evening.

The creamery was colder than the kitchen and I knew I would be able to find something in there. A haunch of venison, baskets of potatoes and onions, some carrots and cabbages were plenty enough for dinner. There was a jug of milk and a pottery crock of butter. Under the long shelf that was waist high and held the crocks in front of a small deep window, I found a basket of apples.   I brought in the venison and placed it on the table. It was half frozen, like it had been buried in snow. It wasn’t yet smoked, though I saw there was a stone smokehouse outside the creamery door. I got a basket from the shelf in the back of the creamery, and filled it with apples, onions, potatoes and carrots. This would make a good stew. I could make a pie from the apples if I could find any flour.

The venison was too frozen for to cut, so I went looking for Garrett. He was sitting behind his desk, his boots propped up upon the surface, a large book across his lap.

“Can you come into the kitchen and help me?”

He was deep into his reading, and looked up, his eyes blurry. Blinking, he closed the book, got up and followed me back to the kitchen. He saw the deer meat on the table, and before he could extend his hand, I called out to him.

“Do it the ‘regular’ way, Garrett. Don’t use magic on my food. Use those mortal parts of yours to cut it.”

A grin spread across his face. “Get a knife then, and make it a big one.”

I found a very large cleaver in a heavy drawer beneath a cabinet. I handed it to him gingerly and he set about chopping the frozen meat.

He laid into the deer meat before him on the table. He grabbed the cleaver with both hands and slammed it into the haunch. It cleaved through bone and gristle and the blade made deep grooves into the wood of the table. With short work, he had cut up the meat into pieces enough to fit into a large Dutch oven.

“Anything else you need my mortal brawn for?”

“No, go back to your reading, it will be hours before it’s done, but I’ll make you a pie for dessert.”

I put a large nob of butter in the Dutch oven, heating it on the top of the stove, and threw in the dear meat. I sat down at the long, pine table and peeled potatoes and onions, and cut up carrots to add to the pot. A bit of water to cook , and I carefully put it into the stove. It was hot enough to cook, but not too hot to burn. I hoped. These stoves were tricky and there was no thermometer to tell how things cooked. I would just have to watch the oven. I found some flour, but it didn’t look like the fine, white flour of my century. Courser, and a bit more brown in color. Probably a lot more healthy, too, because those brown parts were part of the bran. I hoped. They could be dead weevils, for all I knew.

Coring the apples and mixing the flour with butter, made the crusts. I didn’t know if there was cinnamon or sugar, but found a jar of what seemed to be honey. It was, dark like molasses with a honey comb inside that I fished out and licked. . Covering them with my crust, I let it sit in the creamery until the stew was almost done. Cleaning up the table I decided to wander the house and see if there was anything of interest.

I avoided the front room, the sitting room where Obadiah had attacked me. Too soon to forget my humiliation, and even to enter it seemed to draw evil. Hah! There was evil enough in the happenings of the recent past, with the meeting with Abigor and the demons in the trees. It seemed almost as if it was a dream, but this dream didn’t fade.

The house was not so big as to lose your bearings. Besides the front room which was a large enough, across the hall there was a front room, a smaller parlor, sparsely furnished. A fireplace, with three long windows, a corner room, and shabby furniture obviously second best. There was a small portrait of a young woman over the fireplace, probably a relative of the household. The room had been painted a bright yellow fifty years ago, but the walls had faded, dulled from the smoke of the fireplace. The sofa was a small one, drawn up to one side of the fireplace, and a round tea table in front of it. There was just one stuffed chair across from the table, that suffered mice removing the wool stuffing for their own nests. There was dust everywhere, but apart from this, the room was intimate. A low chest against a wall was all the furnishings of the room.   The floor was scuffed wood, with a very dusty small hooked rug in front of the sofa. Obviously a woman’s room. It was a nice change from that eternal upstairs bedroom. There was a faded copy of Richardson’s Pamela stuck in the corner of the sofa seat. I pulled it out and started to read. Tucking my feet under petticoats, after reading a few pages, I fell asleep.

I woke up to Garrett shaking my shoulder. “Is this what mortal women do? Put the dinner in the oven and take a nap?”

I blinked, not understanding him. Her stew! He was laughing and helped me to my feet.

“I have a pie ready to burn, too, if the stew’s not edible.”

“Oh, I’ll eat it alright. You, know,   ‘the fires of hell’ stuff.”

I laughed. “We have another saying. When we burn dinner, we are “treating our men like Gods. As in burnt offerings.”

We went back to the kitchen, where I saw he had removed the Dutch oven from the stove. It wasn’t burnt….much. I put the pie in the oven, adding some wood to the fire below.

“This is tricky business, you know, cooking from a wood oven.”

“Might be easier if you stayed in the kitchen like a woman should.”

“Ah! So that’s where you think women belong?”

“Well, that and in the bedroom. They are most useful in those parts of a house.”

“You are two centuries behind times,” I said dryly. He grinned as he speared more meat from the pot on the table between them.

“Good!” He said, with his mouth full. “You should cook for me every day. Then I won’t be so cranky.”

I started to laugh. Nothing more of a pain in the ass than a cranky devil. I saw him smile, he was reading my mind again. Well, let him. He seemed to enjoy my thoughts. Let him read this.

He looked up with surprise, his fork suspended half way from his mouth.

“Bess, do you know who your father was?”

My father had died years ago. “Yes, I do, why?”

“Methinks he was Agares. Was he a pale old gentleman riding on a crocodile with a hawk on his wrist?”

“No, silly demon. But he was elderly. Why?”

“Because Agares was the demon, a nice old fellow, who pandered in immoral expressions. You are getting creative with your taunts. Want to play a game?”

Ah! This could be interesting. “What kind of game, Devil?”

He grinned broadly. “You think dirty thoughts, and if I don’t guess at them…you get to keep your clothes on.”

“Like strip poker without the cards?” He thought for a moment.

“Something on the lines of that.”

“It would be a lot more fun for me if I could read your thoughts. Then I could strip you,” I said coyly.

“Ah, but you can’t. Not now. Not yet.”

“Will I ever be able to do that? Just curious now, don’t want to push the devil.”

He chewed a mouthful and thought about it. “There will be a time, perhaps, when you can read my thoughts. Happens around breeding time.”

“Isn’t it possible for me to read your thoughts now? When you want to ‘couple’ as you put it?” I laughed.

“Well, that’s different. There are parts of me that signal what I am thinking.” He grinned and speared more meat from the pot. He forgot about his game as he wolfed down the food. I had never seen a man eat so much. He must have been starving. The pie cooked fast, and I went to make some tea, putting the kettle on the stove. He ate the entire contents of the pot, and looked pointedly at the oven.

“You aren’t speeding the cooking with magic are you? You know that I don’t like that. Might ruin the crust.”

He grinned. “Alright, I’ll withhold my powers. You just cook for me, and I won’t bother you with magic.   Is that pie done yet?”

“Zounds! Can you possibly find room in that stomach for more food right now?”

“Ah! “God’s Wounds”…Haven’t heard that in centuries. And yes, I can eat that pie now. Want to see?”

After dinner, we discussed some of what he had been reading all afternoon.

“I’m going through the books looking for demons compatible for defense and offense. I have a listing of them that will help build my forces. Want to hear who?”

Great. A list of Demons. But since he was taking this seriously, and it probably was serious business to him, I sipped my tea and listened to him.  Obviously an extension of the rabbit hole.

“Of course, Abigor will be most helpful in strategy and tactics. He’s the granddaddy of all that. I have to think creatively. Plan a battle with forces other than on the ground. Got to consider the air, too.”

“What about water, like ponds? Any frogs in this?”
“You would do well to remember Obadiah’s handling of you before you release your wit.”

That made me pause.

“Please continue. Your words are well taken.”

“Good. As I was saying, ….there are a couple of Demons I want to see. Ascaroth is a good one to consult early.”

“And what does Ascaroth do in Hell,” I asked, adding a piece of honey comb to the tea.

“He’s over Spies and Informers. That could come in handy. Obadiah is a tricky lad. He will be doing the same.”

He snapped his fingers and a full tankard of ale appeared on the table. “Oh, sorry, did you want one?”

“No, thanks, my tea will do.”

“As I was saying, there’s Bechard, Demon of Tempests, Behemoth, Demon of Animal Strengths, Lainthros, another demon of the air and I think Tenebrion will do nicely.”

“Who’s he pray tell?”

“Ah. The word ‘pray’ doesn’t go with demons, now does it?”

“No, it doesn’t. Who is Tenebron then?”

“Telebrion. He’s a particularly handy Demon…the Spirit of Darkness.”

“So what do you do here? Call them up? Dance the dance of Seven Veils?”

“No, I hang you out a window and they come snooping around. They will be at you in a flash.” He grinned evilly. “You will be doing the Dance of Seven Veils.”

I hoped he was kidding. Never knew with this sly Demon. “So the process is similar with these as with Abigor?”

“Well, I have to pay them a visit, offer them something.”

“And what will you offer for their services?” I took a sip of my tea and looked over the cup at him. I would call all this insanity if I hadn’t seen Abigor with my own eyes.

“Depends upon the Demon. They all clamor for different things. Some probably would settle for your underwear.”

I laughed, hoping he was teasing. He grinned, not reassuring me a bit.

There was a window over the stone sink. It had darkened since we sat down to eat our meal. Time was hard to tell here, since clocks and watches were not in abundance. He didn’t seem bound by time as I was. But the kitchen was warm and making me sleepy. I yawned, covering my mouth with my hand.

“Ah, Bess. You have fed me well. You will make a good consort.” He grinned over his tankard.

“I have been meaning to ask you more about that. What are my obligations here? Do you just declare me a consort and it takes off from there?”

“It’s simple. You oblige me in all things and make me happy.”

“Come, Demon…you have more up your sleeve than that. Any spirit you pick up can do that for you. Be more specific. Give me a clue.”

“Ah. A clue. Come upstairs to my bed and I’ll give you a clue.”

“Oh. I already see where this is leading. Don’t you have more work to do among your books?”

“That can wait until the morning. I have a full belly, for once, and I aim to please another appetite tonight.”

He would not be put off. I allowed him to clean up the kitchen with magic, comes in handy at times, and we mounted the stairs together. It had grown very dark but he didn’t seem put off by the lack of light. I believed he could see in the dark like a cat. When we entered the bedroom, he went over to the fire and pushed it around with his boot. The flame leaped up and the room brightened. He sat down, drawing both chairs again to the fire, and lit his pipe. He lit one for me, too. This was nice.   I had never smoked a pipe before. He handed it to me and I puffed on it gingerly. It was sweet and mellow, and I saw why he smoked.   It was a pleasant sensation.   We sat for a while, puffing away, as he taught me how to make smoke rings. They sent up rings to the air above us, and he had a trick of making his ring chase mine. They would float around the room, and then when they joined, they would dissolve in the air. I was sure this was more of his magic, but it was an innocent kind. After a while I found that I was floating high above my chair, like the rings we had blown. It was a strange sensation to be as light as the air!

“Nice feeling, that.” He grinned up at me.

“What was in that pipe, Demon!” I thought of hash and pot and opium. Whatever this was, it was more powerful.  Probably his own brand of magic.

“It is. Nothing in the weed you are smoking. That is only tobacco. This is an illusion and I’ll make you fall into my arms now.”   He stamped his boot on the floor.

Screaming, I fell into his lap.

“Ah, about time. I thought you would stay up there all night. Gets lonely down here by myself.”

I laughed in relief and snuggled close in his arms. He hummed a little tune I had heard before. Sitting  in his lap, I looked at his face in the firelight. He had lit no candle and the fire was the only source of light in the room. The wind raced around the corner of the house and whistled under the eaves. For now, I felt safe in this room, in his arms.

He picked me up in his arms and carried me to the bed, settling me gently amongst the quilts. It was hours before we slept in each other’s arms. When I awoke the next morning, I knew then what it meant to ‘cleave’ to a man. He had possessed me completely that night, and I had possessed him back. From then, there seemed to be a balance struck between us. No magic exchanged, but something of mortal love.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

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2 Responses to ““Devil’s Revenge” Chapter 19”

  1. TR Says:

    Hah! Falling for a demon, dangerous, very, very dangerous! xx

    Like

  2. ladynyo Says:

    Probably as dangerous as falling in love with a mortal man.

    xox

    Like

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