The Salamander King

This is a brand new, completely rewritten from scratch, draft of a story I wrote more than 20 years ago. I thought it was time to revisit the character.

A red light appeared and slowly expanded in midair at the front of the church. A claw reached out of the light and seemed to grab the edge, pushing it wider.

“What in God’s name is that?”

“Wrong direction, Father. Think hotter.” The priest gave me a look of disbelief. I nodded confirmation. “You might want to run. This probably will get a little chaotic.”

The priest, frozen with fear, didn’t move. There was no time to worry about him, though; the demon was nearly through the portal. All I could do was draw my sword and move between the two, try to force the demon to deal with me first.

At least seven feet tall, scaly, and sharp points and edges everywhere, the thing was right out of nightmares. It saw me right away and snarled. “What do you hope to do?”

Intelligent as well as powerful. Not a good combination for me. It would be even more dangerous than I had feared. Best to end this quickly. The demon smoldered as it began moving cautiously towards me.

I took a couple of wild swipes with my blade just to see what its reaction would be. Nothing. It didn’t flinch. Simple steel couldn’t hurt it, and it already knew that. Good. That would make my task easier.

The demon laughed. It was a horrific sound. I had to duck a halfhearted swipe, as though I was nothing more than an annoying insect. Coming back up, I drove the sword into the demon’s chest. More laughter.

Until I released the fire from inside the blade. The demon screamed, a sound much worse than its laughter. It caught sight of my eyes, also alight with the same flame. Its terror grew. “Who are you…?”

Mercifully, the ordeal was short-lived. The screams, the words, died as the creature turned to ash. The sword, still lit, grew heavy in my hand and the tip brushed the floor. The fire did not catch the carpet, but simply hung tightly on the blade.

“What… what just happened?”

“Not to worry, Father. It’s gone.”

“Fire killed it?”

“Yes. Demons hate fire. That’s why hell is such torture for them.”

He nodded, but it was obvious he was still in shock. “Thank you… I… I don’t even know your name.”

“Jack. Jack Nimble. But when the authorities show up, best not to mention me. Or the demon. They don’t like me and don’t believe in them. Okay? Will you be alright?”

He nodded again, but managed no words. I needed to get going before anyone else showed up. I sheathed my sword and stole out into the night, disappearing into the darkness.

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