To Hunt A Level Four – Part 7
When he finally regained his wits, he found himself on the floor and a blade pointed to his forehead.
Femi heard a wail proceed from his lips. It was a pathetic sound that remained aloft in the small room. The lady sniggered and shoved the blade to his chin. Femi’s body trembled at the mortal cold touch of the bright blade and let it raise his head such that he gazed upon this beautiful death. For she was both beautiful and deathly.
Her face must have been divinely sculptured, no doubt created to lead the legendary amazons. Her skin was pale and smooth, a supple combination that called and pleaded and appealed for a touch or at least a longing for a touch. Her lips were thin and pressed into a line, but they were luscious. They were blood red. Her eyes…her eyes were a startling hazel.
Scarlett snarled deeply. Yet, twisting her face in the most grotesque of ways did nothing to ruffle her splendor. She had a powerful energy revolving her being, crashing into the walls of the room, and reverberating back upon them. She was in control. She was in charge. She was a senior witch hunter.
She looked deep into his eyes. “You failed,” she whispered, like the whisperings of lovers in the night. “You have failed your sacred duty. The Conclave has sent me to clean things up.”
“Is that why you came?” Femi’s hurt had evolved to anger. “To rub in my failure and then kill me?”
She gave a sarcastic smile. The whole room lit up like the first few minutes of dawn as her lips revealed a perfect set of white teeth. She descended to her knees—a fluid and graceful motion that could have fooled the eyes for the pleasure it gave. There was an erotic softness to her eyes, to her gaze, and to the way she held her lips. “If I wanted to kill you,” she breathed, causing Femi to pull nearer to hear, “you’d already be dead.” She rose to her feet, turned, and walked back towards the mirror.
Now that she wasn’t so close, Femi realized he was short of breath. He sucked in a lungful of God’s precious air and let his heart calm down, all the while observing the witch hunter. Femi felt two emotions towards her. Envy and yearning. She possessed an uncanny audaciousness that bothered on impudence. The way she strode, you could have mistaken her for a king—not a queen, but a king! A brash king. Yet, there was no atom of masculinity to her. He found himself envying these qualities and yet yearning for the girl that she was.
Femi was close to twenty six and had no person in his life. It was a cold and dark place to be, and it was where Femi had made a home.
“Why have you come, then? Where have you come from? You are not from these parts are you?”
Scarlett stood before the mirror gazing around the frame as if observing the complexities of the artlessly designed glass. Whatever had piqued her interest about the mirror, it could not be observed by the mere eyes.
“Where I come from is none of your business,” replied Scarlett. “Why I’ve come is to kill the level four that you failed to kill.”
Femi scrambled to his feet. “Hey, I was told it was a level one. I certainly wasn’t expecting a level four! Someone messed up at the Conclave.”
Scarlett swung around to face him and took two quick steps towards him. Femi took an equal number of steps backwards and tried to force his body out of the fits of trembles that had wrapped around him.
“Are you listening to yourself?” She had a look of disgust on her face. “There’s a powerful witch running amok and you’re playing the blame game?” She drew nearer. “You know why I attacked you? It was to test you. To see if you were worthy of a promotion. But you failed. And Simon’s request will be denied.”
For a few seconds, they glared at each other.
“The Conclave has placed you under my direct command. You will do whatever I say.”
A spirit of anger fell upon Femi’s heart. He felt a great urge to grab a hold of the girl’s head and smash it into the wall. But even that couldn’t have quenched his fury. He bit his lips. “What do you need?”
“Look,” Scarlett started after a deep breath. Her demeanor seemed to have softened. “There was a breach at the Great White Temple. You were never meant to go up against a level four. You could have been killed. I’m sorry about that. But I need to locate this level four and find out what evil plan it has.”
Femi nodded. “How can I help?”
“Last night, when you were attacked, what did you see? What did it look like?”
“Nothing,” replied Femi. “It was definitely not human. But it had the form of human and was cloaked in a thick darkness that covered the whole street.”
“What?” Scarlett must have meant that as a question to him, however, it came out as a whisper and her eyes had already lost focus. She was in shock.
“Why? What kind of creature is this?” Fear taunted Femi’s heart. He furiously fought to keep from falling into it.
Scarlett’s gaze slid to him. “Open your scriptures to Psalms ninety one and verse five and six, and read aloud.” Then she turned and looked away.
Femi brought out the black book and searched out the passage. He felt like there was a swirl of utter despair around him, and that at any moment, he would fall in, never to see the light of life again. His finger settled on the scripture and he read. “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.”
Femi heard it—an almost imperceptible sigh escape the mouth of the red draped figure before him. Her shoulders were slack in resignation. Her head a little hung in submission. “The world is a very dangerous place, Femi,” she said wistfully, “a very dangerous place.” Her tone carried a hopelessness that made Femi want to cry out in distress.
“What does that mean?” Femi asked.
Still backing him, she said, “There are four of them. Four spawns of a level four. Terror. Arrow. Pestilence. Destruction. You fought Pestilence, the one that walketh in darkness.” She was quiet for a while, then she added, “you shouldn’t be alive. They want you alive. Which means whatever they’re planning, you’re an important piece.”
“How can that be?” Femi replied, few seconds from irreparable panic, “the witch said my living or dying was of no consequence to their plan.”
“Does it surprise you? Are they not children of the one who is father of all lies?”
There was a silence.
“There’s one more thing.” Scarlett turned.
“What?” asked Femi.
“These four: Terror, Arrow, Pestilence, Destruction—they are related. Pestilence and Terror are night creatures and so they only operate in the night. Arrow and Destruction are day creatures and so they only operate in the day. When one comes—”
“Others will follow,” Femi cut her off with a whisper. “Terror, Arrow, and Destruction.”
She nodded. “There will be deaths. Deaths on an unimaginable scale. We can’t let that happen. I can’t let that happen.” Her resolution was evident both in her tone and in her eyes.
“How can we stop them, then?”
Scarlett shook her head. “You don’t seem to understand.” She came up so close to him that he could perceive the alluring freshness in her lustrous black hair. “Going up against any of these dark spawns is suicidal. We go after the level four. We kill her, and they’ll vanish.”
“Simon says the level four witch went to Enugu. But Enugu is a large place. It’s like finding a drop of water in an ocean.”
Scarlett smiled. “I know a guy.”
That was all she got out of her mouth before the door broke free of its hinges with an explosive sound and flew into the room. Scarlett jerked him down in a duck as the door tore over their heads and smashed into the mirror.
A deep laughter rumbled into the room from the adjoining parlor. Smoke flowed in overlapping waves into the room and soon, they were engulfed in a flood of white smoke. A figure stood in the doorway and remained. From this figure proceeded forth another deep and dreadful laughter.
“Who are you?” Scarlett’s voice was hard and strong, but her hands still gripped Femi’s body, and they trembled with fear.
The figure came into the room and let loose a guttural laughter that shook every bone of Femi’s body. It was fear unspeakable—full of terror!
“I am the Destruction that wasteth at noonday. I am the father of Pandemonium, and Chaos and Mayhem are my children. All die before me and behind me there’s only grief and sorrow. Darkness is my birthright, eternal sadness for menfolk is my earnest desire and sole purpose. I am the author of fear and the messenger of death. None can stand before me. No life can exist in my presence. I have come to finish what Pestilence started. And I shall finish what Pestilence started.” He laughed again. And again. And again—an unending melody of their departure from this life. The white smoke had thickened such that nothing was visible save the figure of a man, which man was no man, but Destruction that spoke with a deep rumble of a voice. “For who can stand before Destruction? Hath God not said it? Dust ye came from, to dust ye shall return. I am come to return you to dust. And so shall it be, that I return you to dust.” He laughed them to scorn—harshly, loudly, and harrowingly.