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From Inside the Flap
The Elementals’ Price
The room was no ordinary room.
The house was like any other, like that which could be seen in any suburban neighborhood. It was a ranch-style house with bright red vinyl siding and white shutters. Its yard flourished with a variety of exotic plants and flowers, which had been fashioned into an award-winning garden around the home.
Inside, the rooms were contemporary and well decorated, neat and clean. Not a thing was out of place; lavish works of art covered the walls, imported curtains hung on the windows and the rugs were always professionally cleaned.
However the main room was no ordinary room and the couple of this house was no ordinary couple.
It should have been a den, used for the calculating of household budgets and finances or used to surf the Internet on a fully loaded computer or even used to file away insurance papers and receipts for tax time - but no, this room was used for more sinister purposes.
Its walls were black, deliberately painted pitch black. The floor was a pale, bone white with an enormous black circle, nine feet in diameter, painted in the center of it.
In the center of the circle a Satanic pentagram had been drawn.
Against the north wall sat a great altar, draped in black cloth with another inverted pentagram, this time in gold, stitched upon it. On the wall above the altar hung a large pair of goat horns, which twisted above it like serpents.
Sitting upon the altar was a host of exotic and bizarre items: a solid brass incense burner, a genuine one-hundred-year old human skull, a black chalice, a razor sharp dagger with a solid black handle. Among the stranger things were petrified insects, a vulture’s claw and a variety of herbs and bottled oils.
The altar was flanked with large black candles that sat in each of its corners.
Against another wall of the room was a great library of arcane and ancient books, their pages brittle, their bindings broken, covers worn and tattered. They lined a cluster of manmade shelves with such titles as The Grand Grimoire, The Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin and The Necronomicon.
Yet another wall exhibited a group of charts, charts filled with the signs of the zodiac and the phases of the moon.
The corners of the room were filled with pedestals holding more brass burners that burned with perfumed charcoal at the moment. The room filled with a strong and pungent odor.
Every window within the room was covered with black shades that barred the light and attention of the outside world.
At the stroke of midnight, the sound of a bell reverberated in the room, shattered the unsettling silence. Every candle in the room ignited, illuminated it with soft radiance.
The scent of sulfur and brimstone filled the room as the door floated open.
Through it walked two black robed figures, a man and a woman.
Walking ahead of the man, the woman carried a brass bell and a massive black book. Behind her the man followed, a staff with a carved serpent coiling around it in his hand.
The couple entered the circle on the floor.
"Nightmare," the woman called and a raven soared promptly into the room taking its place on the altar as the door eased itself shut.
Meet David and Gloria Barnor, skilled practitioners of black magic and followers of the left-handed path.
Gloria rang the bell in each direction of the room before she left the circle to place it on the altar along with the black book she carried. Gathering up the dagger, the chalice and a collection of different colored candles she returned to the circle and took her place beside her husband.
Stretching his staff into the air, David called out with authority: "Spirits of the netherworld hear my command! Be at our side during this most important ritual. I command it to be!"
Gloria bent to the floor and placed a candle at each point of the black circle that surrounded them to represent each of the four directions; one red, one white, one green and one blue. Lighting them, she stood again to take the staff from David’s hand as he took the dagger from hers.
David held the dagger aloft, his eyes burned with fiery intent. Lowering the staff, Gloria hesitantly lifted the chalice in the air, paused and turned to look at her husband.
"Are you sure we should do this?" she asked, the doubt hung on her face. "It’s the most dangerous ritual of the practice."
"Quiet. I need complete silence," his eyes narrowed, a scowl washed onto his face. "Never break the concentration of wills. We are ready for this moment. We’ve been over it many times. The elementals are the key to all magical power. With command over them, the Earth itself will bend to our will. We have studied and learned enough from our alternative faith. We are ready. Continue the ritual."
A foreboding silence again returned to the room. Gloria shivered but said nothing. She had no choice but to obey her husband’s wishes.
They made a vow to one another and to the Dark One. It could never be broken.
Their pet raven let out a screech, alerting them to the fact that a presence was now in the room with them.
David turned to his wife and nudged her, lifting her eyes to the ceiling, she called out. "Oh great and grand master," she spoke the words with clarity and precision, remembered each letter from memory perfectly. "Hear our plea. Open the doors to the abyss and grant us the command over your servants."
A gurgling sound echoed in the room as the chalice filled with a red liquid.
Gloria lowered the chalice in front of her, staring at the strange liquid that had just materialized. Her eyes met those of her husband and she nodded.
"Asteroth, Mammon, Lucifer!" David thundered, his grip tightened on his dagger with both hands. "By these names of the deceitful one, by these names of power, I command the we be protected throughout this ceremony and that the unholy spirit fill us now!"
The blade of the dagger glowed red hot, a seething heat emanated from it. Without hesitation, David brought the dagger down and plunged it into the chalice; steam rising into the air.
The pair of them called together: "This is the communion of darkness, we now posses the power to control all the we call forth. So it must be!" Both drank heavily from the chalice, Gloria winced at the taste of it.
Gingerly they set their tools on the floor and joined hands, closing their eyes, called in unison again. "Earth, air, fire and water. We command you to come forth, what has no substance we command take form, what is discarnate we command become incarnate. Elementals of the next plane, we command you come forth!"
The room suddenly dropped in temperature as the raven screeched once more as if in fright. The couple watched their breath enter the air in puffs as they shivered, listening to a moan sweep into the room. It was deep, mournful and tainted with eternal suffering.
A light breeze whisked into the room, the candles began to flicker, as vibration crossed the floor.
The entire room shook violently, a crash of thunder accompanying the event. It felt as if an earthquake assaulted the house. The couple fell to their knees as they watched the altar nearly collapse in front of them.
Then it all just stopped.
Peace and calm filled the room as an eerie silence struck Gloria with terror. Something was coming...
A cracking sound resounded and they watched astounded as the floor around them split and broke, cracks shot through it like veins upon flesh. A green vine slithered out of one of the cracks in the floor. Struck dumb with awe, they witnessed a huge plant-like pod follow the vine.
The pod was a twisted mass of leaves and roots that squirmed out upon the floor and rolled to a stop. The pair continued to watch as an arm punched its way out of the pod, followed by another, until both hands reached up and tore the pod in half.
Out of the pod’s carcass stepped a woman, her naked body squirming with vines that twisted and writhed over her as if they were alive. Her raven black hair danced in the breeze.
Turning rotten brown, the pod shriveled up before it dropped back through the crack in the floor.
The woman stood in front of the couple and smiled. "I am Earth", she said as the breeze around her gained strength and whipped into a frenzy. A great whirlwind formed in the room, snuffed out the candles and hurled the pair through the room. The windows of the room shattered, the shades luckily kept the glass from shredding the couple to ribbons. The whirlwind spun across the room as David and Gloria clutched one another so they would not be swept up in it. Finally it settled beside the woman covered in vines and vanished.
In its place stood another woman - her body covered in a sheer white gown just barely exposing her ample breasts. Blonde hair cascaded over her shoulders. "I am Air," she said with a smile.
The heat climbed back into the room and grew hotter and hotter as the sweat broke out on the cringing couple. They watched as an enormous fireball burst into the room, burning on the floor in front of them like a bonfire. It sizzled and crackled until a man stepped out of it, the flames dying behind him. His hair was vivid red, his bare chest heaved and swelled with heat as his lower half was hidden behind rippling flames. He too smiled at them and said: "I am Fire."
Another crack of thunder pealed through the room as a rain shower poured down from the ceiling. The rain fell into one spot in the room, beside the man called fire. When the shower had subsided, a puddle shimmered on the floor. Seconds later, it rippled and stretched, rose into the air and took the shape of another man. His legs were a pillar of water, his chest riddled with what looked like gills, his eyes were piercing blue, brighter than any ocean and his hair looked like seaweed. Smiling, he said, in a gargled voice, "I am Water."
David and Gloria were speechless. Pulling themselves to their feet, they stared in awe. Four mystical, not quite human strangers stood in front of them, a chilling force radiated around them.
"We are the elementals," they said in unison. "We are the spirits of the elements, in combination we are all powerful, all knowing and may grant anything. We have been summoned, what would you have of us?"
Gloria cringed behind her husband, the very sight of them struck fear in her heart, she had always been afraid of this ritual, but those fears had fallen upon ears of stone. David was all too eager to elect himself as the spokesman of the both of them and he addressed the spirits of the elements. "David," Gloria whispered before he was able to breathe a word. "Be careful, we have never summoned spirits before. I don’t trust them."
"I am David, this is my wife Gloria. We are masters of the dark arts and have summoned you here for ultimate power. But first, I need a demonstration of your power, so that I may know you are who you say your are."
"Very well," they said.
Earth stepped forward, waved her hand over the floor. A tree sprouted up out of it, a fruit bearing tree, fruit that the couple had never seen before. Lifting her hand, a hail of stones battered the room before it stopped as quickly as it begun. Lastly, with the flick of her wrist, a throng of vines slithered out of the floor and entangled the altar.
Earth stepped back as Air took her place. She lifted her arms and the winds lashed at the couple, stripped their robes off of them with delicate precision and left them in their house clothes. Lowering her arms, air held out her hand and tightened it slowly into a fist. David and Gloria felt the air cutting off from their bodies. Gasping and choking, they fell to their knees until she opened her hand again and their breathing returned.
Fire stepped forth next, pointed his finger at the circle the couple stood within. Its perimeter burst into flames and burned all the way around, encircling them. With the snap of his finger, the fire was gone.
At last, Water melted back into the puddle he came from. He rushed around the room in a wave before returning to his place and took his shape again. Lifting his right hand, lightning flashed in the room and a rainstorm exploded in it, water crashed down on everything and flooded the room in seconds. With the clap of his hands, the water was gone and everything was once again bone dry.
"Proof enough?" They asked.
"More than enough," David smiled, their acts amazed him beyond words. It was not easy to impress David, because he had performed many magical feats in his time. "As previously stated, we would like our wish granted by morning. We would like to awaken the most powerful humans on the Earth. This I command."
Laugher filled the room, a cackling sound that was unnerving and insulting. "Foolish mortal," They said. "We grant nothing until our price has been paid."
"Name it," David said. "Whatever it is, we’ll pay it."
"Yes," Gloria cried, seeing her chance at true power finally slip away. All she ever wanted was to have a better life than she had growing up. She came from an extremely poor family, everything they had owned was either a hand me down or used. She felt her family had been a charity case, always in need of help from friends and neighbors. She promised herself she would have the best of everything out of life, that was the whole reason she let David teach her the black arts and she agreed to help him attain ultimate power. "Tell us what it is?" she begged.
"Our price is a sacrifice," They said.
A horrific silence befell the room. Repulsion laced the couple’s thoughts. They had never performed a sacrifice.
"The sacrifice must be performed on the day before the new moon," They continued. "And it must be someone you both love."
No! The very thought of it shocked them. How could they ever do that? Pacts with spirits was one thing, murder was another. Gloria took hold of her husband and glared into his eyes. He could see the fear in them but it made no difference. Prying her grip from his arm, David turned to his guests and agreed. "It will be done."
"What?" Gloria gasped.
"Very well," the elementals cackled. "Your wishes will be fulfilled when the sacrifice has been completed. Do not try to deceive us or your punishment will be eternal." In a blinding flash, the spirits vanished, the room returned to normal as if nothing at all had ever happened.
A sense of calm fell over the room. David stood confident, proud of his dealings with the spirits. He turned to his wife, who was aghast. A look of sheer horror hung on her pale face.
"Are you insane?" she yelled. "I’ve changed my mind, I don’t want the power. Call them back and break the agreement."
"You damn fool," replied David. "We can’t now. If we do that, then we forfeit our own souls. You made a vow to me and you’re in this all the way." He took hold of her wrist, restrained her tightly, his eyes narrowed into slits, his face flushed. "There’s no going back now."
"Let me go, you’re hurting me," she whimpered.
"Shut your mouth," he snapped. "You’re going to help me with this sacrifice, whether you like it or not!"
Gloria said nothing. Her resistance was overwhelmed by the insanity of her husband. She was trapped in his quest for power and there was going to be hell to pay. A sacrifice was called for.
Blood Moon Publishing is an imprint of Double Dragon Publishing