Five men rushed in with guns at the ready. They surrounded me. The guns didn’t concern me half as much as Noah Smith walking in holding his cursed knife. Finally, the demon walked in wearing the body of a muscular young man. The rest of them were middle-aged white men, not as fit as the demon’s host, but they clearly stayed active. The demon’s host didn’t look like he’d fit into this circle at all. I wondered how they’d convince the olive-skinned man to open himself up to this fate. It didn’t matter now. I couldn’t save him, even though the possession was clearly fresher than the last one I faced.
“My friend tells me you’ve been looking for me,” Noah said, stopping a few feet away from me. “Is it turning out as you expected?”
“Honestly, I thought you’d be taller,” I remarked as flippantly as I could. Noah squared his shoulders, showing the barb landed. If I could keep him talking, my backup could change the landscape. I didn’t know that the DPI agents would even the score exactly, but they’d at least pull focus.
“It said you’d be stupidly brave,” Noah mocked.
“I’m not sure you’re in any position to throw that word around. Letting that thing into our world doesn’t speak highly of your intelligence,” I countered.
“Do not listen. The witch wants to turn us against each other,” the demon said.
“No need to worry, my friend,” Noah said. “I’m quite satisfied with our partnership.”
“You think it sees you as a partner? You’re a tool at best. A temporary convenience. It’s already considering what to do when you’re gone. We’re mayflies compared to that creature,” I argued. I knew they wouldn’t turn on each other, but it kept the conversation going.
“I’m not going anywhere. Soon I’ll have all the pow—”
“Put the weapons down!” Agent Boone interrupted.
Noah and his men all turned to face the DPI agents. None of them followed Boone’s demand, instead taking aim at the new arrivals. The demon didn’t concern itself. Their guns wouldn’t stop it. It only had eyes for me. For a few seconds, no one moved. Then the demon rushed me. I raised a barrier in time, but it plowed into my magic, pushing me down the hall and away from the standoff. Gunfire shattered the silence of the foyer, but I couldn’t see who shot first. My back hit a wall, and inhuman strength pressed harder on my barrier.
“You’re weaker this time,” the demon observed. It twisted its host’s features into a manic smile.
I didn’t answer. Instead, I cast a spell that made the wall behind me permeable. As soon as I stepped through, I cut the spell off, solidifying the wall again. That wouldn’t stop the demon. So, I gathered as much energy as I could. The paint before me cracked. Slowly, the crack expanded until the drywall split. It crumbled under the pressure of the unnatural magic. I cast an imprisonment spell when the demon stepped through the makeshift threshold. My magic pulled the ruined building material and every other loose object in the room to box the demon in. The desk and chairs broke into smaller pieces, forming the bulk of the structure. Once the spell completely encompassed my adversary, it transmuted the mismatched components into perfect metal walls.
I stepped back as the metal heated. It glowed and slowly melted. I fled the room instead of watching the escape. There wasn’t anything I could throw at this thing that it couldn’t escape or endure. I couldn’t keep wasting energy like this. But could I banish it again without the extra power of Peter’s spirit? The demon caught up to me, grabbing the back of my shirt and dragging me toward it. Molten metal dripped off its blistered skin. The heat burned through my shirt, and I screamed when it reached my skin. The demon slammed me into a wall. I cast a cooling spell as it reached for my neck. The liquid metal hardened and sloughed off, taking layers of skin with it. Bloody hands wrapped around my throat.
Before the demon could tighten its grip, I cast the most powerful banishing spell from Peter’s spell book. The energy knocked the demon back. I watched my magic surround it. My hope died as quickly as I formed. Steaming, red, otherworldly magic broke through mine. The demon laughed as my spell fell away, not strong enough to unmoor it from its host. The last time, I hadn’t used a proper spell at all. I’d poured raw power into an attack on the demon’s bonds to this world. I isolated the demon’s link to this body and threw my magic at it.
The demon gritted its teeth and matched its will against mine. Our magic collided, sending shockwaves through the house. Picture frames fell from the walls. Knickknacks shattered on the ground. Loose baseboards vibrated away from the walls. And the gunfight stopped. I poured as much of myself as possible into my attack. In the end, it wasn’t enough. The demon clung stubbornly to its stolen body until I didn’t have the strength to challenge it anymore. I cut my assault and ran. The demon tackled me to the ground, panting. It pulled me to my feet and braced me against the wall. The gunfire began again. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. Noah Smith stepped up behind the demon, brandishing his cursed knife.
“You had to know it would end like this,” Noah said, smirking at what he was about to do.
I should have made a last-ditch effort to run. I’d stopped my assault against the demon for that purpose, but that smile pissed me off enough to fight. Noah drew back and thrust the knife toward me. I used the magic that could have saved me on a push spell. It hit Noah’s arm and deflected the knife into the demon’s gut. His eyes went wide. The blade absorbed the steaming red magic. The host’s body didn’t move its lips, but I still heard the scream as the knife pulled the demon’s energy in. As the body emptied, the demon’s grip loosened, and it collapsed. After my last spell, I couldn’t hold myself up either. So I slid down the wall, watching the knife pulling energy long after the demon couldn’t control its host anymore.
My eyes got heavier. Noah could still kill me, but I didn’t feel like I could do anything about that. I could barely fight the darkness closing in around me.