The cover art features a violet, a bloody dagger, a crown and a blue-black book all over a deep purple background.

Of Justice and Demonic Intentions: Chapter One

By Lauren Rabalais
Web Content Contributor

Chapter One title slate with a drawing of Alphonse’s dagger.
Chapter One: An Instrument of Vengeance. Image by Lauren Rabalais.

“We are all children of blood and bone. All instruments of vengeance and virtue.”

–Tomi Adeyemi 

It was a surprisingly peaceful night for a séance.

He had studied this ritual for weeks, and only tonight did the fleeting full moon wait for him— he had to do this now. The brass grandfather clock ticked steadily—impatiently— urging him to get a hold of himself and go through with the ceremony. After all, this ritual was very important.

This was the night when Prince Alphonse Harrison Edward, secret warlock of the House of Watson, would summon a powerful demon and commit the ultimate act of treason in the name of justice: killing the wicked beast that called itself his father.

A few weeks ago, he found a spell book of sorts hidden in the bookshelf standing proud in his bed chambers. The book was a deep blue, and it had no text anywhere on the cover nor the spine. The leathery exterior wasn’t scratched, but the pages were golden and crinkly with age.

Alphonse had read at least hundreds of books on this shelf; how had he only just found this one? Who would bring a book like this into the castle? Those who used witchcraft in Apatéa would be executed, wouldn’t they? Was there an ancestor of his that turned to the occult?

Alphonse hurriedly knelt down and ignored the familiar, sharp pain of his knees hitting the floor too hard with clenched teeth. White chalk in hand, he etched a summoning circle onto the once-pristine wooden floor. His hands shook like the dried-up, attention-starved daisies that were wilting in his inherited vase as he stood up and retrieved the materials that were sitting on the ornately carved mahogany dresser: six black candles and a handful of clear quartz stones.

He really had to thank Adelia for retrieving them, sometime. He retrieved his personal dagger (which he was finally allowed to have after his most recent birthday) and some emergency cloth that he kept tucked away in his nightstand. He stared down at the blade— at the small smile he didn’t recognize in the polished metal— as his brittle hand clenched firmly around the shiny hilt. 

He bent down to place the candles on the six points around the circle, piling the quartz right in the center. The circle, as if it lived and breathed, seemed to suck the life force right out of the room as he grasped the dagger with held breath, willing himself to not drop it in the presence of such power. Now, he just needed a blood offering. 

Alphonse was relentlessly reminded of his sickly, pitiful existence whenever the chorus of gussied up nobles with their unfriendly faces wailed their condolences to his family, but he only recently discovered what his illness meant. Too deep of a cut would result in death.

It would be truly useless to die in such a manner, he thought, and his resolve became his armor. He raised the pointed-end of the dagger to his index finger, gasping for desperately needed air as he held it there for far too long before he delicately pricked his fingertip. 

He hissed from the pain, but, as the pain diminished, his cracked lips upturned into a childish grin as his finger stained red. He turned his feeble wrist and let the blood drip onto the gemstones. He wasn’t sure just how much blood was required for the offering, but he was willing to offer as much as it took.

His eyes forcibly snapped shut as anticipation overwhelmed his entire body. His ankles quaked as he collapsed onto his knees and his hands splayed out in front of him. His head bowed and his face burned as an outpour of relief traced down his face and fell into the cracks of the wooden floor. There would be no more lonely days spent locked up in his chambers by himself. No more abuse. No more pain.

He tried to focus as he spit out the haunting chant that had been swirling in his head for weeks, otherworldly syllables inharmoniously colliding together and shattering the deafening silence in his room.

He felt slinky, shadowy figures swirl around the core of his being, their luminous, ghoulish faces smiling eerily—expectantly—at him. He felt needles prod at his brain as his soul latched onto something unfamiliar. Was this a demon? He wanted to open his eyes and see if a demon was staring back at him, pupils catlike and thin, but he couldn’t risk breaking his focus. This was a mind game he had to overcome. His stomach lurched at the thought of failing.

His head felt hollow and his shoulders sank like bricks; he was definitely starting to become lightheaded. Nevertheless, his chanting grew louder as he draped his words like fish netting around the sinful creature dancing in the shadows, dragging it into the mortal realm.

Alphonse let out a breathy laugh of disbelief as he caught it, ensnaring the being with his spell and affixing it to the earthly plane, cementing it down in the center of the circle. He thought he could hear his late mother crying out to him, pleading, as he sealed off the connection.

All at once, his back creaked and his stomach knotted up and his head throbbed and everything hurt, but, on the eve of judgment day, he didn’t—he couldn’t— care.

Featured image by Johnnie Losoya.

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