Gargoyles: The New Adventures of Old Pog

Chapter 11: Orion the Hunter

12:57PM, 1844, Venice, the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia

Natalie looked at Pog's stone form closely in the mid-day light. She was amazed by the fact that even his clothes had turned to stone. Yet somehow, the bandages around his left talon, neck and shoulder had not changed. She wondered if he had consciously instructed them not to change, or it was random chance.

These gargoyles fascinated her. She had spent seven years of her life fighting every sort of evil imaginable; to find a mythic creature that was inherently good…it was refreshing.

Plus, he was sort of handsome…in a strange way. Noble and fierce looking…the hippogriff-like gargoyle was something out of a fairy tale. He even looked like a guardian.

The door creaked open and Nat turned to see Abelard returning with their lunch. In fact, it looked as though he'd brought a whole goose in the market place.

"For our friend," Abelard said. "When he awakens tonight. He'll need to regain his strength."

"So," Natalie asked. "Is he really asleep? I mean…he can't see or hear anything we do?"

"Yes," Abelard answered. "In fact, from what I understand…he even dreams. I looked around rooftops for possible members of his clan…a futile effort. There were too many of the damn statues to distinguish a real gargoyle from a statue. Probably why a clan here would have survived so long."

"I wonder what a gargoyle dreams about?" Natalie said wistfully.

Pog swirled about in a shadowy dark room. He seemed surrounded by a black viscous material. The scent of garbage perforated his nostrils, and there were a large number of flies, gnats, mosquitoes, and other pestilent insects buzzing around.

Pog frowned and stepped up to the black goo. He wrinkled his face and tentatively touched it with his talon. The black goo attempted to wrap around his talon. He jerked back before it could succeed.

"Hello, Pog," a silky smooth voice called out to him. It was clear, and yet seemed oily at the same time. Pog was fairly certain that the black goop was talking to him. The voice seemed to come from the glutinous substance.

"Who are you?" Pog asked the goo…at least he hoped that he was asking the goo…something didn't quite seem right. The black goo began shifting in front of his eyes, melting and oozing. The black liquid suddenly assumed a solid shape, a very familiar shape.

Pog gasped and stepped back. The ooze now looked like a pitch black version of him…though with glowing red eyes. The Pog replica smiled at him

"My pleasure Pog," the Ooze-Pog said. "You don't know how long I've wanted to talk to you. But I've never had the opportunity till now. My but those vampires did a nasty number on you didn't they?"

"Vampires?" Pog wondered out loud. He wasn't sure what those creatures were when they had assaulted him, but vampires definitely made the most sense. Pog then furrowed his brow once again. "You still haven't told me who you are."

"I haven't," the Ooze-Pog said. "Well how rude of me. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Ba'al Zebub. Lord of the Flies, and Prince of the Lower Court."

"Ba'al…Zebub," Pog whispered to himself. "Ba'al Zebub…Beelzebub?"

The creature winced. "I hate that name. It's so typical of humans to butcher the Enochian language. There was a time when I was worshipped. I was the god Hadad! Commander of 66 legions of Hell."

"What do you want with me?" Pog asked, terrified. He looked around the enveloping darkness of the expanse. Pog was unsure where he was, the only thing he could see clearly was Beelzebub in his "Pog-like" form.

"Please, Pog, my host," he said soothingly. "Call me Ba'al."

"Host?" Pog whispered.

"Yes of course," Ba'al said. "You who released me from that prison; the box of Pandora. My fellow angels remain trapped…lost in the void of Hell. It may take them several millennia to return to earth. Damn that Nought. Still, there's nothing that can be done about that. How may I serve you?"

"Serve me," Pog whispered again. "Why would you want to serve me? You're a demon. You're THE demon of gluttony."

"Pog," Ba'al said, twisting his beak into a shape that looked something like sadness. Though, the black form, and the red eyes ruined the image. "We 'demons' as you call us, were once Angels. Just because we had a little disagreement with the Tyrant, doesn't mean that we've lost our angelic nature…we're meant to be servants. Messengers."

"So... " Pog frowned…rather disturbed by what he was hearing. "Why has it taken three years for you to appear to me?"

Ba'al Zebub looked annoyed. "Gargoyles are strong willed and fierce. I was merely a passenger, until enough of your life force was drained so that I might make contact with you."

"And my worst sin is Pride," Pog murmured. "Not gluttony, which is the easiest for you to manipulate."

"I am insulted…" Ba'al started to say.

"How do I get rid of you?" Pog demanded suddenly. "If you're so eager to serve me, tell me how I banish you."

"You don't," the Pog clone said grinning. His body began melting back into viscous goo, the black substance began to wrap around Pog. Pog jerked back but found it climbing up his legs and tail, completely enveloping him. The demon felt oily and warm to the touch. "We are a part of you…now and forever. We will make you strong…we will grant you longevity. Like your mentor, Lazarus…did you know that he used magic to slow his death? After all, have you ever heard of a 300 year old gargoyle before? With me you can live twice that long. Anything you desire will…be…yours"

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5:14AM, 1844, Venice, the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia

Peryton attempted to dodge the fireball as it hurled towards him. He banked to the right to avoid the flame, but his wings betrayed him and the flames struck his left wing.

"AAAAAHHHH!" the cervine gargoyle screamed in pain and tumbled towards a rooftop. He plummeted onto the roof of a building and began rolling over and over—putting out the flame.

"Did you think that I'd forgotten what your clan did?" Marquis said landing. His dagger continued to glow blue.

Marquis' eyes glowed—not the usual white—but pure green. He pointed down at the canal. A rock levitated out of the water, up next to Marquis' head, and flung itself at Pery. The rock hit him directly above the eyes, right on his forehead.

He groaned and tumbled backwards. "Marquis listen to me, it wasn't us, it was Nought."

"Do you think me a fool?" Marquis demanded. "Nought sent the Amphora Pandora to Hell. Hell is a difficult realm for any to break into without dying…even an Oberati. He needed some poor unsuspecting soul in his own personal void to recharge his powers. To drain them of life! You tricked Lavue into that void!"

"We didn't trick her," Peryton said. "She volunteered! You have no idea how that haunted us…how it haunts us still."

"LIAR!" Marquis snarled. The glowing blade began to intensify, and thunder cracked in the distance. A Mediterranean storm was moving in. "You're lying now, just as you did then!"

He pursed his lips. "Fuego!" Another fireball materialized beside his head.

"I know why you've come to Venice," Marquis said, stepping towards Peryton and looming over him. "You seek the Star of Arabia and the powers it will grant you. I have come for the Star as well. I will not allow it to fall into the wrong hands…you most certainly qualify."

Peryton did not look Marquis in the eye; instead, he glanced at the eastern horizon. His salvation had arrived in the form of the rising sun.

"Dawn is upon us," He said. Marquis head snapped around in surprise. "No, I haven't had time to prep…"

There was the unpleasant grinding gravel sound that always accompanied stone sleep, and then both gargoyles were frozen in the moment. The dagger that Marquis held had turned to stone along side him. The fireball hovered for a moment and then sizzled away, no longer capable of sustaining itself with no fuel.

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5:16AM, 1844, Venice, the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia

"Pog's not back yet?" Cam asked landing on the rooftop alongside Unette and Abernathy. The leonine gargoyle frowned. "And Peryton is not back either."

"I thought Pog would be meeting with you before you returned," Unette said, sounding slightly bitter.

"We were supposed to," Cam replied, pretending she didn't hear Unette's tone. "We were to meet in St. Mark's square…I had hoped he'd merely forgotten and went ahead here."

She frowned, her worried look becoming worse by the second.

"Did either of you find the Star?" Abernathy asked. The two females shook their heads.

"And with dawn fast approaching," Abernathy said. "I cannot fathom…something is very wrong."

"With the whole city," Cam replied. "I can feel it, a dread evil. Like an infestation that everyone knows about but no one will speak of."

"I don't feel anything," Unette said.

"No offense Unette," Cam said. "But you're not a practicing sorcerer. I am. I sense something."

"I fear Cam is right," Abernathy said taking up a position on a precipice. Unette and Cam followed his lead.

"The streets were eerily quiet," he continued. "Especially for a city that's supposed to have an active night-life. As though they were afraid to be out of doors."

"Something is deathly wrong," Cam said. "And whatever it is…it's got Pog and Peryton."

The three gargoyles hardened to stone.

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12:32PM, Knight's Spur, London, 1841

"Fyn?" Pog asked cautiously as he entered the clan's study for the second time in one week. He blinked in surprise. The griffin-like gargoyle had his head buried in his talons…he looked as though he had been crying. Keythong stood behind him, her talons gently massaging his shoulders.

Fyn looked up in surprise. "Oh, Pog. I hadn't expected to see you tonight."

"Are you all right?" Pog asked looking at Fyn in concern. The older gargoyle smiled and nodded wearily.

"Lazarus was the first Wind Ceremony that I've ever had to perform," Fyn said. "It's more taxing than I expected. That, and we're having some budgeting issues with the shop that I have to deal with…this is a stressful job Pog."

Pog nodded back, Fyn had only been the clan leader for less than a year. He was still new to most of the tasks that were required. It hadn't even occurred to Pog that this was Fyn's first Wind Ceremony.

"I wanted to tell you tonight," Pog said softly. "That I am willing to accept the responsibilities of Second in Command."

Fyn smiled, "I didn't scare you off?"

Pog shook his head. "I've already spoken to Cam; she's willing to tutor me in sorcery. She actually leapt at the chance."

"Of course she did," Keythong said winking.

"All right, Pog," Fyn said sighing. "Since you've chosen to become my second then there's something that I need to tell you. Close the door."

Pog looked surprised but did as he was asked, closing the door, Keythong walked over to the door and locked it with her key.

"What I'm about to tell you cannot leave this room," Fyn said. "We're strapped for cash in a very serious way; there is a very real possibility that we will lose both Into the Mystic, and Knight's Spur."

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6:57PM, 1844, Venice, the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia

"This should be very impressive," Abelard said smiling. Natalie and Abelard stood in front of Pog's stone form as the last rays of daylight faded from outside. "What I've read says that a gargoyle awakening from stone sleep is far more interesting than one entering it."

Cracks began appearing along the statue; quickly spreading across the whole sculpture.

"He's going to fall apart," Natalie whispered.

"No he's not," Abelard replied. "Just watch."

"HUH-ROAAAAAAAR!" Pog roared as he escaped from stone sleep, his eyes glowing white. He then gasped for air and steadied himself on the bed. He'd awoken from a very troubling day-mare.

"W-what?" he said, suddenly feeling very light headed. He stumbled forward. "Where am I?"

"Here," Abelard said handing Pog a long oaken staff with a small knot in the top. The knot looked almost like a curl, as though the staff curled up upon itself.

"You lost a lot of blood last night," Abelard said. "Your stone sleep replenished some of it, but it may be a few nights before you are feeling 100 percent again."

"This is a sorcerer's staff," Pog commenting, noting the magical energy that easily pulsed through the staff.

"Very perceptive," Abelard said. "You must be a practicing Spellcaster, or you would not have noticed. That staff is one of my prized possessions. It is said to have been one of Prospero's staffs."

"Who are you?" Pog said looking at the two humans. They appeared to be at opposite ends of the spectrum, the girl, just 16 or 17, the old man, perhaps in his 60s.

"My name is Abelard Van Helsing," He said. "And this is Natalie Orion."

Pog blinked. "Pog, of the London Clan."

"London clan?" Abelard said looking surprised. "You're not from Venice?"

"Our clan has Venetian blood," Pog said. "But no."

"You're awfully forthcoming about your home," Natalie said. "How do you know we don't mean you ill will?"

"Because," Pog said. "If you did, you could just as easily have smashed me while I slept. Plus you rescued me from those creatures in that alley."

"Fair enough," Natalie said. "Those creatures were vampires. Inhuman and unholy. Not unholy the way that a horse is not holy. Unholy in the way that demons are unholy."

Pog shifted uncomfortably.

"They murdered my family," She said bitterly. "I've been hunting them ever since. Killing them wherever I find their filthy kind."

"I've raise Natalie as my own since she was 10," Abelard said. "Educating her in all manors of fighting and controlling the supernatural. Gargoyles have never come up because wickedness is not a common trait in your kind. Usually you protect with honor and nobility, even when others persecute you."

"In Bagdad I got this," Natalie said smiling and pulling out her revolver…it looked like a Colt, though Pog knew very little about guns.

"I encountered a necromancer who had imprisoned a Jinni and was using her for evil," Natalie said. "I rescued her and in exchange she granted me three wishes. This gun can kill any supernatural being, regardless of its normal killing requirements."

That made sense to Pog, it was why a gun—a weapon that was usually useless against vampires—was able to slay the ones in the alleyway.

"I never have to reload it either," She said. "Moonlight will refill any empty chambers."

"This city has a vampire infestation like I've never seen," Abelard said. "We think they're looking for something."

A small chill went up Pog's spine.

"Abelard," Pog asked suddenly. "Do you believe in coincidences?"

"No, I do not."

"Damn."

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11:15PM, London, Present Day

"That looks like the time my rookery brother Rhynos tried to learn ballet," Pog commented looking at a series of broken glass vases inside a shattered china cabinet. "That's why we don't have a crystal chandelier in the Library anymore."

"Why would he try to learn ballet?" Griff wondered as the three gargoyles stepped down a darkened aisle filled with books.

"To impress a female," Pog said. "Why else?"

"And why are we talking about yuir rookery siblings?" Hudson whispered.

Pog smiled. "Because it distracts me from what I know we're going to find."

"I smell blood," Griff whispered. Pog nodded, he smelled it too.

"I wish yuir clan had beasts," Hudson commented as the three gargoyles walked down the bookstore aisle. They came to the end of the passageway to find it blocked of by several red filaments of an organic substance blocking their path. Blood dripped from the fibers.

"Hudson," Pog said. The Scottish gargoyle understood immediately. He took his curved blade and began slicing through the cocoon-like cords.

"What is that stuff?" Griff wondered.

"You do not want to know," Pog answered…which was more than enough for Griff.

Pog, holding his staff in a battle stance, stepped out into an area of the bookstore that was designated for people to read their purchases. At least that's what it had been originally intended for: but the beanbag chairs and low tables had been shoved aside and several corpses wrapped up in the same blood-drenched cocoons lay on the ground and hung from the ceiling. Some of the people wrapped in the cocoons struggled…though it was still uncertain if they were truly alive.

"I think I'm going to be ill," Griff gagged.

"I don't see Leo or Arthur," Pog said as all three of them stepped into the room, Griff bringing up the rear.

"Griff look out," Leo's voice called out. Griff raised his lightning gun in preparation for an attack. The vampires lunged at the gargoyles from atop the bookshelves, knocking all three of them to the ground. Griff's lightning gun clattered and spun underneath a radiator on the far wall.

Pog groaned, reaching for his staff as Hudson turned…the Scottish garg had not let go of his weapon as Griff and Pog had. There were eight or nine vampires atop the gargoyles. Each struggling to keep the stone warriors pinned to the ground.

Hudson managed to take off one's head and another's hand before the lamia wrestled the sword away from him. The vampires forced the three gargoyles to their feet, dragging them fully into the reading room. A single light hung from the ceiling, barely illuminating the horrors around them. Pog would have preferred a tad more darkness.

"I don't believe it, Pog," a voice crooned. "I mean, I'd hoped that you were still around, but seriously? One hundred and sixty years is a long time. But you're really here, in the flesh."

A familiar figure stepped out of the shadows and Pog gasped.

"It can't be!"

To Be Continued…