Damien walked into the cell where a man was chained to a wall. "Where am I? Unbind me!" the man demanded imperiously, used to getting what he wanted.
"And risk touching you? No, I think I'll have one of my minions do it in a few minutes. After I've explained to you that you're wired with a bomb that will blow if you get within ten feet of me, try to escape, disobey me, or do anything I don't like, there's also a dead man switch I won't bore you with the details of—sufficient to say that if I die or am indisposed, you'd better hope I get better in less than twenty four hours."
"All this for little old me? Sounds like someone's scared." Ironically, it was the human's voice that cracked and sounded jittery with barely-controlled panic.
"Please, this was just the only way I could get the point across to you that you can't use your powers against me that would leave your limbs intact, and I do need you intact." Damien shook his head. "Honestly, you have the power to control minds and you've only been using it to get yourself laid. Some people are so…unambitious. No matter; come and meet our guest, boys!"
Guineas, Hedge, and Vlad entered the room; the human cowered at the sight of them.
"You did bring the Dewitchery Diamond, right?" Damien asked.
"Yes, milord," Hedge handed the giant diamond over to the fiendish creature.
"Excellent, you finally did something right for a change!" Damien said with scathing mock-cheer. Hedge flinched in anticipation of a blow that, for once, didn't come. "Now we're going to see if this thing works as advertised. Human, you will cast your spell of obedience on my minions now."
"With my hands bound?"
Damien nodded at Guineas, who unlocked the awakened human's manacles. The shape-shifters lined up, and the human touched each of them to cast his spell. "Good. Minions, touch the diamond." Damien held it out, and they did so. They were thrown against the far wall, each one of them two. Damien grinned. "Human, make the ones you're still in control of leave." The human, wide-eyed and dry-mouthed, nodded, and four shape-shifters got up and left. "Well, so far so good," Damien said, sounding pleased for once. "Cast your spell again, human—it's time to see if we can repeat our results."
Damien watched as the process repeated and another trio of clones was created. Hedge may not of found Grace, but he did well when he brought this artifact back instead (not that Damien had treated him like it at the time). Creating an army this way wasn't going to be as much fun as it would have been with Grace, but it would be much, much faster…
Abraham stood at the edge of the forest. Someone was deliberately using the Dewitchery Diamond for evil. The wizard privately thought that the diamond had a will of its own, and found himself disappointed, realizing that he'd thought it had better judgment than that. There were two roaisol seyonolu (guinea pig, hedgehog) and one tulougol seyonolu (bat…mainly) who had been cursed with mind control and then had the curses split from them over a hundred times apiece by now, and, here was something that annoyed Abraham for the sheer fact that he never thought of it, they were using the same technique on a herd of cattle in order to feed this army in a sort of perpetual miracle of the loaves and fishes. There was also an awakened human who did the cursing and a…thing, who was apparently the leader, but how he could maintain leverage against one who had the power of mind control and was controlling the higher functions of the brains of his army, he couldn't fathom a guess.
Abe wondered if they knew he was here yet. "Silere carcer," he intoned, causing every communications device—as well as anything powered by electricity—in the enemy stronghold and indeed in the surrounding forest to die. Well, they know I'm here now. The elderly wizard calmly strolled towards the citadel of evil.
The awakened human (who did, in fact, have a name…in all probability) was being ran ragged. It hadn't been so bad at first, ironically because Damien, in his quest for power, had studied military tactics. They started with a squad's worth of chimera clones and worked their way up from there, with Damien wanting to be sure at each level that they were adequately controlled and coordinated and that his human slave had a good enough grasp of the tactics involved. But that was then, and they had a whole platoon of chimera clones now.
Careful re-reading of his spellbook revealed that he could multitask by borrowing 'processing power' from his puppets like networked computers, which is how Damien's army wasn't tripping over its own feet, but it all still ran on his magical energy—and he could not dismiss the spells, because they weren't spells anymore, they were living things. But what was almost worse than that was that due to the nature of the spell they were using for the "curse," he came into contact with the Dewitchery Diamond every time it was used, and it was fraying something inside him. He could swear that the damn thing was alive, that it could see into his soul, weigh him, and had found him wanting. There were nights he awoke in a cold sweat, convinced he could hear it laughing at him in his sleep.
The human glared at the giant green diamond, convinced that it was glowing menacingly, and then the lights went out. Elsewhere in the compound, Damien walked up to a Guineas-clone; "Human, get up here, now."
"What, you want me to do something about the lights?" the human demanded incredulously, but came. He'd learned to do as bid in these last six weeks. He entered the room Damien was using as a throne room. "Milord?"
"Map," Damien commanded.
"Yes, milord." Another of the awakened human's spells had been that he could map a territory and then call up a table-top illusion of it to show what was going on in real time. Basically the only use it had seen up until now had been for spying on various women's locker rooms. A holographic display of the surrounding woodland appeared on the table between them. "What are we looking for?"
"Whomever turned out our lights."
"C-couldn't it have been an accident?"
Damien shook his head. "I sensed something before the power went out. Besides which, the generators should have plenty of gasoline and be in top working condition…assuming your Guineas clones have been performing their duties." Assuming you've been performing your duties.
"Y-yes." The awakened human studied his map. "I don't see anyone who shouldn't be there."
"Then the range of his spell is simply longer than the range of yours. Send a couple of Vlads out to patrol," Damien ordered.
The human nodded, and closed his eyes. His mind was everywhere in these woods, but the overarching part of it went and found some Vlad clones, and got them to search the woods in a complicated spiral pattern. "I see something. An old man in a trenchcoat," his mouth said, a million miles away. He spiraled down, prepared to use his screech—"I've been hit!"
"I don't know; it happened so fast…"
"Yes, yes, but was it magic?"
"I…that is…yes. I'm not—that is, the Vlad isn't dead, but I can't wake him up; it must be a sleep spell. I'm fighting it but…well, I can hear him now, but that's all. He's saying: 'On some level, I know you will hear my words, and through you, all of you, so I've only got to explain this once. It'll be the cliff notes version, I'm afraid, as I somehow doubt the rest of you will calmly wait while I explain why I've come to kill you all and then kill this you. God, addressing a composite being is tricky.
"'Many centuries ago, I was a wizard's apprentice. I created a diamond that was meant to lift curses, and in that it worked, but…' oh, God!"
"Keep talking," Damien ordered. "I want to know my enemy." The human did so, but he also found a squad of Hedges to attack the wizard. Nine werehedgehogs ran towards the old man's last known location.
"…and so with my noble friend's blood on my hands, I swore a solemn oath to him, my master, and God that I would hunt down the"—he dodged a thrown chain and—"monsters that the"—without missing a beat in his story, turned and—"Dewitchery Diamond creates"—vaporized two of the Hedge clones with fireballs; the others winced in sympathetic synergy (and back in Damien's throne room the human screamed)—"and kill them." He grabbed a flower, it was a pity there were no roses here, but, "Dandelion whip," he intoned; Abraham flicked his wrist and took out five more, then struck again for the final two.
"I made several attempts to destroy the diamond, but it soon became apparent that it was indestructible." Abraham picked up the Vlad clone and continued walking through the forest. "That was when I knew that, mortal as I was, I would die long before the Dewitchery Diamond stopped producing monsters, and so created a spell that would allow me to lie as stone when there was no monsters to destroy so that I may use my feeble lifespan as efficiently as possible." Abraham spotted another Vlad clone flying his way, and with an outthrust wrist threw a fireball at it, incinerating the chimera instantly. "Sometimes decades would pass as I slept, sometimes mere months, but for me it was but an instant, and always when I awoke there was some new monster, some new threat for me to kill. A thousand years have passed in the world of men, and, for me, I estimate about fifty years. In that time, I became quite good at what it is that I do.
"You know, in some ways, this will actually be my simplest job. Not my easiest, certainly, but very straightforward; here we are in the middle of nowhere with no one anywhere near us who can possibly qualify as an innocent bystander. For once I can use my full power." Abraham dropped the mostly-sleeping Vlad clone, drew his sword, and struck his head from his body.
"Oh, God, he killed me! He blew me up, then he cut me in half, then he blew me up again, then he cut off my head!"
Hedge, the real Hedge that is to say, slapped the human. "Get a hold of yourself before Damien has to."
"So what? He can only kill me once!"
"Yes, but it's the once that counts," Hedge said.
Damien pointedly ignored this display. "A truly powerful foe. But our army has weapons, does it not? I'd like to see this medieval wizard stand up against an uzi."
"Right," the human nodded, and concentrated on the clone army. The Hedges and Vlads marched to the weapons lockers and armed themselves with machine guns and rocket launchers. Dozens of Hedges and Vlads, armed to the teeth, marched or took flight out to meet their foe.
Abraham saw the Vlads over the treetops, and quickly launched a series of fireballs; the first two hit and incinerated their targets, but then the Vlads responded by adopting a random flight pattern. "That was a rookie mistake on my part," the awakened human said through gritted teeth. Abraham also sensed the Hedges hiding behind trees and seemingly ignored them while he closed his coat, turned up his collar and turned down his hat brim, until they started to move—then he struck with his rose-, er, dandelion whip, taking out three Hedge clones and a number of trees. The other Hedge clones started to fire; most of their bullets hit his trench coat…which had been specifically enchanted to turn away bullets; they bounced off him, which didn't mean they didn't hurt.
Abraham continued to walk calmly forward, flicking his wrist whenever he got close enough to a Hedge clone to use his dandelion whip. "He just won't STOP!" The Hedge- and Vlad clones switched weapons using grenade- and rocket launchers instead of machine guns.
Abraham's eyes widened. "Well, crap. Whirlwind!" A twister appeared, centering itself on Abraham and throwing the bombs and rockets awry and forcing their explosions as they hit each other outward. There's reportedly hundreds of these guys; at the rate I'm using magical energy, I might not make it all the way through. The whirlwind spell had one other weakness—it was open at the top, which was about twenty feet above his head—and the wizard's multi-bodied foe apparently noticed this, for it started raining grenades and rockets. Abraham could destroy these as fast as they could come, but it all took magical energy and this was still the first few dozen foes.
He crossed a magical threshold and knew that he could now be sensed on the enemy's security system. Not that they didn't already know he was here. Nothing in his manner changed. The clones ceased tossing rockets and grenades down the neck of his whirlwind, presumably because they ran out, and in either case he dropped the whirlwind spell, which had been protecting his foe as much as himself; now he found himself in the center of a group of Hedge clones and could use his dandelion whip again. Abraham twirled, and was suddenly standing in a crop circle of trees and bodies sixty feet in diameter.
"Why haven't you used Vlad's screech?" Damien demanded.
"I can't get close enough to him!"
"You have twenty Vlads in that group; if they all attack at once, one will have to get close enough."
"I…yes, milord." The Vlad clones all charged as one body, screeching at the top of their lungs. Abraham struck at them with his whip, killing one, then one, then two, then three, then two, then began a blow that would have killed three but found his knees giving out after only getting one. His equilibrium was…gone. He fell to the earth, a rag doll.
"Bring him to me," Damien said. "I wish to punish him for his insolence in slaying thirty of my soldiers."
"Um, are you sure that's a good idea?" the awakened human asked.
"Do you doubt my ability to handle him?"
"I…uh…" There was no good answer to this question. "I shall bring him presently, milord." One of the ten remaining Vlad clones picked Abraham up and they flew in formation.
Well, at least they're taking me in the correct direction, Abraham thought. It was hard to judge when the best time to make his move was in his inhibited state. Is this what being drunk is like? There had never been enough room in his life to have a life in. Eventually, he figured it was almost too late, shouted "Here!" and hit his captor in the nose with the back of his head. The Vlad clone dropped him instinctively, and before any of the Vlads could react they were destroyed by dragon fire.
A great beast appeared on the map. "What is that thing?"
"Damfino. It looks like a scaly bat was unfaithful with a bulldog."
Abraham could not regain himself before he landed, and hit the ground like a rag doll. He did a mental scan of himself and decided it was worth using a healing spell on some of the more serious-looking damage. Then he stood and looked at this enemy stronghold.
It had belonged to a militia sect before Damien had moved in and killed them (as had most of the weapons, though Damien had taken full advantage of the Dewitchery Diamond by making sure anyone it cloned was carrying more weapons than anyone could possibly use on them at the time); There was a farm house, a barn, and a silo, and below each of them a bunker. Abraham took a moment to really sense the place out, getting a hold on exactly what was where. He nodded to himself and pointed to the silo. "There!" The Draco taurcanis opened its mouth and breathed flame at it.
The silo exploded with far more force than it should have, taking out the bunker below and a few dozen Guineas clones. That would have been the munitions plant, then, Abraham mused. He pointed to the barn and said, "There!" The other Draco taurcanis flamed at it from hundreds of feet away, and destroyed it.
"What the—where did that come from?" The answer was soon provided as another of the great beasts flew onto the map. "How many of those things does he have?" Hedge wondered.
The awakened human slammed his fist into the table. "No! He keeps killing me and killing me, but I will not be slaughtered like sheep! If he wants my life, he's going to have to take it from my cold, dead hands!"
The rest of the Guineas clones flowed from the bunker that had been below the barn, and Vlad clones flew from the windows of the house, firing rocket launchers. My, someone's going all out. Abraham launched himself away from the hoard of Guineas clones, who were hit with the rockets.
"God damn it!" the human shouted.
While he was in the air, a couple of Vlad clones flew at him; he sliced them in twain with his dandelion whip. "There!" he shouted, pointing at the house. The first bulldog dragon fired, and the house went up in flames. Hedge clones and Vlad clones fled the wreckage. They attacked with any weapon they could get their hands on, but it was clear the mind behind them was panicking; Abraham limped towards the house, destroying any clone or rocket that got too close to him with his dandelion whip.
"Enough of this," Damien said. "I will take care of this pest myself!" He climbed the stairs and emerged from the bunker to see Abraham with his own eyes. "You are truly an obnoxious little worm, do you know that?"
"From you, I think I shall take that as a compliment," Abraham said, and lashed out with his whip. The dandelion whip touched Damien and burst into flames. Damn it, I knew I should have brought a rose with me!
"What are you going to do without your little toy?" Damien mocked.
Abraham pointed at him with both hands. "There!" he shouted, and two dragons breathed their fire breath at Damien.
When the smoke cleared, Damien was still standing. "Oh, no, fire! What am I to do? After all, it's not like I'm fireproof or anything," he mocked.
"Sword," Abraham intoned solemnly, and a sword and shield appeared. He approached Damien.
"Oh, please," Damien said, and levitated twenty feet off of the ground, and spammed fireballs at Abraham.
Abraham dodged and weaved. "If that's the way you want it…get him!" One of the bulldog dragons flew at Damien, who turned his attention to it. Abraham gestured at the other, which swooped low so the wizard could jump on its back. Abraham winced as he landed. Oh, right; broken leg. He stood on the dragon's back, sword extended, and flew at Damien.
Damien meanwhile had blasted the other bulldog dragon with a fireball and observed that it had done nothing. Very well, then; he flew at it and punched it in the jaw. The dragon grunted in pain, and Damien laced his fingers above his head and brought them down on the dragon's skull. The dragon clawed at his guts before he connected, but Damien ignored it; it fell, and he was already healing by the time he turned around to face the wizard again.
Abraham sliced with his sword, taking Damien's legs from him. Already they were growing back when the other dragon recovered and each dragon grabbed a stump with its mouth…and they pulled in opposite directions as Abraham cut up the middle. The results were not pretty and what was left of Damien fell to the ground. The bulldog dragons landed and Abraham dismounted to look at the freak of nature that was Damien; even as he bled out, still the fiendish creature's body was trying to heal itself, but the damage was too great.
"But…how?" Damien demanded. "I…am…a…god…"
What does one say to that? "Apparently not"? Abraham wordlessly turned his back on the dying creature and walked into the remaining bunker. He found the awakened human and the three natural chimeras (if that wasn't a contradiction in terms). He pointed his sword, which was covered with burnt-on blood, at the human. "If you value your life, you will have what's left of your creatures destroy themselves. Now."
The man closed his eyes, and a minute later there was the sound of an explosion in the barn's bunker. "It is done. I am alone. For the first time in more than a month, I am alone in my own head. I'm free."
"Actually, the FBI is on their way," Abraham said.
"Wait, what? Why would they let you come alone?" Hedge asked.
"A fellow named Edward Verres thought that Damien has an informant in the FBI, which is how he learned of the Dewitchery Diamond and of your human friend here, who was already under investigation for the disgusting way he used his powers. Not trusting that said informant wouldn't warn him of a raid, Verres…looked the other way when I showed up, and let some information slip. He also said to tell you that your sister is fine and would love to see you all."
"Even me?" Vlad asked.
"I assume so," Abraham said.
"Wait, I specifically remember hearing him say you say that this job would be simple because there would be no innocent bystanders," Hedge said.
"You're really more of a victim than a bystander, so it's technically true," Abraham said. He concentrated on his sensing, sensed nothing that seemed like it came from the Dewitchery Diamond, and nodded. "Do keep him from escaping," he gestured at the awakened human, and left.
Modern law enforcement would sort this mess out. At long last the "Lycanthrope family" were free and about to be reunited, no innocents had to die this day, and hell, they even had all the proof they needed about the nature of the powers of Damien's slave; a happy ending all around. Except that it wasn't part of Abraham's story; it was time for the reaper of monsters to lick his wounds, return to the stone, and wait for the next mess, for his was a tale of blood and death and a very long tale it was. For now, though, the danger was over; Abraham healed himself with what remained of his magical energy and walked off into the woods like a legend into the mists.
In retrospect, I probably should have given the damn human a name. Quite frankly, though, his only purpose as a character was to be a tool used by Damien, and I didn't exactly like him much as a person either, so really, screw that guy. Really, he was more of a plot point than a character. But then I turned this thing into a Mook Horror Show, and all the mooks were, well, him, so really, I might of ended up saying things like "the awakened human" too many times.
I explained in the Author's Commentary of A Matter of Honor why Abraham was probably more of a badass than we give him credit for, but frankly, Damien is probably also less of a badass than we give him credit for!
To be sure he was very strong, but we only know of two groups of people he actually killed; the scientists that created him (probably including Noah's parents) and the scientists that created Grace and her brothers. He controlled Grace's brothers through fear, but by that point they were pretty traumatized; I'd bet the last time he had to take all three of them on at once, they were children. Furthermore, we know that Grace and her brothers moved about a lot under Damien—it could be that the only reason the FBI never defeated him was that they couldn't find him. I somehow doubt that he was the prophesized master of fire on account of he, well, failed in his gambit to take over the world.
Frankly, however, there's direct or circumstantial evidence that at least half a dozen named characters are stronger than Damien: Grace, obviously, on account of she beat him; Nioi, who interposed herself between Grace and an exploding Damien and didn't suffer so much as a scratch; General Shade Tail, implied by the fact that Nioi doesn't solve her problem with him by simply backhanding him into submission; Abraham and Raven, for whom as I explained in the Commentary for A Matter of Honor there is strong evidence that they're stronger than Grace; and Noah, though quite frankly we only have his word for this last one. Technically speaking we've also got Nanase, once she gets her magic back and if she can use her Angel Form spell.
Under almost any condition other than what happened in canon, Abraham would have been a hero, so what sort of hero would he have been? As ought to be apparent from the fic you've just read, my answer to that question is "a game breaker."