Home>>read The Demon Within (A PeaceKeeper Novel Book 1) free online

The Demon Within (A PeaceKeeper Novel Book 1)(5)

By:Stacey Brutger

She ran her hands along the walls, searching for the slightest cracks.

A sound came from behind the altars.

Moving cautiously, Caly knelt on the unforgiving floor and pressed her ear against the icy wall. At the contact, the temple seemed to leech the warmth from her soul. Just when she would've pulled back, she heard it.

A scuffling noise.

She shifted her stance and crouched lower. A low grinding of stone against stone came from behind the wall. A shiver of dread danced down her spine, and she groped for the four-inch blade from the vest across her chest.

With quick prayer that she was wrong, she scraped the metal across the wall. The rock façade flaked away, leaving behind an ugly gap.

The stones were shifting.

Something wanted out.

When she would've called out her finding, awareness plowed through her. Heat rushed up her hands and spread to her chest. Something was close and getting closer, moving fast.

She jerked her head up and turned toward the opening of the temple. The gloom of fading light slowly crept along the stones like an animal on the hunt.                       


A shadow danced in the opening.

"Head's up." The blade flew from her hand before she processed the command. It sailed end over end, passing within inches from Oscar's ear and landed with a heavy thump directly into the chest of a demon.

There was no way to adequately describe the sound when a demon died. The noise swelled like a squeal from a wounded pig. In a bright flash like when gunpowder ignited, the demon vanished. A sugary sweet smell similar to antifreeze filled the air as hellfire burned away their remains. In the sudden silence, all you heard was the weapon clatter to the floor. The only thing that remained was dark burn marks on the scarred stone.

Metal usually only slowed a demon down. It was the iron built into her blades that killed with a single touch. That and beheading were the only surefire ways to kill demons.

Still crouched behind the altars, she pulled out a second knife in the hope of buying the men some time as they scrambled for cover.

"Oscar, the room has a second entrance."

He grunted. "Guard it. Henry and I will watch the front. We must stand firm until daylight."

Demons had limitless energy while in their domain of darkness. The battle would last all night or until the team ran out of weapons. To prove her words, a demon materialized near the entrance.

The foot soldiers conserved their energy for fighting, the demons not even bothering to pretend to be human. They usually didn't if they had no intention of letting their prey live. The emaciated husk was a sickly gray-green, covered in brown liver spots of a decaying body.

No hair. Shattered teeth. Tattered clothing.

A light sheen covered him, almost like sweat. Caly knew the cold feel of that slimy skin under her hands.

In a blur of movement, Oscar swung his staff. A hidden mechanism exposed the iron and steel blade. Metal sliced deep into the demon's throat, dissolving him in one clear thrust.

As the threat increased, the metal in the leather wrist guard she wore for protection against razor sharp claws burned her sensitive skin icy cold. Her demon cracked open an eye from its slumber, and Caly was afraid to even twitch.

It wasn't fully aware. Not yet, but she had to step carefully. It would watch and wait for a moment of weakness to strike.

Two more demons charged through the entrance, snarling like rabid dogs, a wildness to them that bordered on kamikaze. With a few choice swear words, Caly turned her back on the fight and the near desperate urge to defend.

She might be part demon, but she'd never felt any allegiance to them. Part of her was afraid if she ever gave into the dark urges to let go, that would change.

Shaking off her morbid thoughts, Caly saw that the stone had moved. Stale air from the quarter inch gap breathed against her side of her face, wrapping the scent of decay and death around her. It took all of her will to stay when every inch of her demanded to run.

She gripped her knife as if she could fight stone. The blade reflected a hint of light, and an idea sparked.


Sheathing the blades at her belt, Caly snatched up one of her homemade bombs. The narrow vials inside the tube clanked together.

They were untested. She had no idea if they would work. After months of tinkering, today was supposed to be her chance to prove what they could do. What she could do.

Inside each small vessel were two tubes suspended in pressurized, carbonated water. One held powdered metal, the other vial a product similar to breath mints. If snapped, the chemicals would combine into a dirty bomb designed to eat away at the demons flesh. The water would make it impossible for them to brush off the metals in time to survive.

When Henry staggered under a particularly heavy blow, Caly twisted the stopper. The vials rattled, and a fine crack spidered down the side. Water fizzled and trickled along the case until the glass grew slick to the touch.

She dropped the exterior tube, and snapped off the vial containing the powdered metal. A tremor shook her hand, and she closed her eyes, forcing the racing beat of her heart slow and steady. She poured a thin line along the length of the block. Once empty, she bent over and smiled.

"Hope you enjoy, boys." She blew along the powdered ridge, directing a steady stream of fine grade metal into the crack.

The last of the metal disappeared.

Nothing happened.

"Damn." She threw the empty tube in frustration, and resisted the urge to slam a fist into the stone. A heavy sigh of disappointment squeezed the last of the air from her lungs.

Metal plumed back in her face, dragging a cough from her.

A faint sound came from behind the blocks. The wail gained force, reverberating in the temple with the strength to rain debris down on her. A scratching sound, similar to cat's claws as they scurried on linoleum, told her of the demons' hasty retreat.                       


"Hot damn." Bounding to her feet, Caly turned. The excitement of her discovery paled when she saw both men under heavy attack. Henry finished off his demon and faced the entrance. Saturated in sweat, his shirt clung to his shoulders.

"Wilson, Cunningham, where's Andrews?" She followed his line of site. From the darkness, the two men lurched into the cave, their movements jerky and mechanical.

"Henry, wait." The plea came unbidden from her lips, all her senses rose like fur from a cat backed into a corner. The men appeared battered, dark bruises dotting their face and skin, but the look in their eyes, the black, glossy stare hinted at something very, very wrong. Reaching down, she ripped open a small Velcro pouch strapped to her thigh and withdrew a Chinese Star.

"Don't be daft. Back-up's arrived." Henry lowered his weapon and stepped toward the men.

Reacting quickly, she widened her stance, fingering the warm metal, fighting the impulse that said they were friends. With the full strength of her body behind her, she swung. A flick of her wrist sent the star tumbling through the air.

With a heavy heart, she watched it sail true. Her hope that this was a dreadful mistake dwindled. Wilson took a hit to his upper shoulder. The man shuddered, paused in confusion then collapsed. A curl of smoke hovered over his body as the demon evaporated through his pores.

"What the hell." Henry fell back, nearly tripping over his feet.

Oscar vanquished his own demon and turned toward the entrance in time to face three more creatures as they edged inside. Cunningham's body stood between them and the demons. His solid frame twitched, and he lurched forward in an uncoordinated dance like a marionette. In an eerie, vengeful howl, he launched himself at Oscar.

"No!" The raspy denial scraped against her throat. Cunningham was no longer in control, but maybe the demons hadn't killed him. The likelihood of being able to bring him back was little to none, nor would he thank her for trying as few came back whole, but what choice did she have?

Caly took a step, but paused as the scratching of stone against stone began anew. Duty fought loyalty and her chest tightened at the choice.

There was no decision.

Reaching back, she pulled out a rope from her pack. All she had to do was tie him up until this was all over. She would find answers. A cure for them both.

Then Oscar moved.


In a smooth arch, Oscar struck Cunningham with his spear, cleaving his chest open. Cunningham fell in slow motion, his eyes locked on hers. When he landed, nothing moved except for a curl of dark smoke that escaped his parted lips.

All the air left her in a rush, and she fell back against the wall. She waited for some sign from her friend.

And sensed nothing from the still body on the floor.

When no blood oozed from the wound, she knew he'd been dead before he had entered the cave. She couldn't have saved him. Rage tore through her mind, raking across her skin in a blast of heat. She took a gulp of air, tensing against the urge to seek vengeance.

Instead, she was stuck watching a block move when she should've been up front fighting. She was built for battle. A wild wave of emotions swelled through her, and a bite of panic broke the wall of hatred threatening to consume her.