A Gathering Of Hawks (The Damnation Of Father Andrew, Part 2) by Keith Kitchen

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They lived by sucking up blood from any source, usually from the occasional blood storm, though Lucifer knows there were fewer of those here than anywhere else in the Nine Circles of Hell. That suited Isis, though, as it made it easier to torture the creatures that were trapped here. No subtle and intricate ways of torturing here! Isis liked to torture his creatures the old fashioned way. Until it all ended, he would beat and maim and hurt his creatures any way he could, and if that meant running the heat up to unbearable levels and keeping them dry at all times, then so be it.

The sky here in the Second Circle of Hell was more red than the yellow of the First Circle. There was no one really in charge of the First Circle, unless you counted Animosity. That fucking tree! It didn't know the first thing about torturing creatures. Okay, it liked to play mind games. Yeah, that could be a lot of fun, but it just didn't suit Isis! He liked the more direct approach. Even if they knew it was coming, pounding a creature unto pulp and then reshaping it and pounding it again was so much fun!

Isis stopped and looked around him. Here and there was a large cactus in the distance, along with the few other plants he allowed to grow in his circle. Heat rippled in the distance, but there wasn't even a creature to be seen. That was unusual. There was usually a creature of some sort, even if it was a human soul trapped in a mouse. Yet, there was nothing that was visible within his eyesight. Plus, it was very, very quiet. No screams. No moans. Nothing.

"Where are you, Priest? I know you've got to be around here, somewhere!" Isis shouted. "Come here, so I can hurt you. Come now, and I'll be gentle about it!"

Isis whirled around to see...nothing. He looked over his shoulder and saw...nothing. There was no doubt in his mind that the damned priest was somewhere near. He had to be. But, where was he? Isis began to feel something he hadn't felt since he had been cast out of Heaven with Lucifer by Jehovah in those days so long ago: Fear. That made him all the madder. Isis hated to be afraid and compensated by indulging even more in his rage.

"Fuck you, Priest!" Isis screamed. "If you want to play with the big boys, come on out and play! I'll take you apart and put you back together again and then jump on you and spit on you and burn you alive and then I'll fucking do it again! I'll ram red-hot pokers up your ass and knives through your face and bamboo shoots under your fingernails and laugh at you! Aren't you a man? Don't you have honor? I fucking know you're here! Are you afraid of me, you little fuck?"

Still, there was nothing. If anything, the silence around Isis got deeper. He started stomping off towards the small capital of his realm, but was surprised that he couldn't even hear what should have been the satisfying stomp of his feet on the dry, cracked ground. He began to feel something, an undefined, yet undeniable something pressing in on him. For the first time since he had seen the anger of God during Lucifer's revolution, he felt terror.

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