Daos IV ~ Prologue: Rubble and Dust

Previously ~ Dramatis Personae

A/N ~ The noble family we're about to meet is entirely fictional, though the time, place, and reigning monarch are historically accurate.

The scene we're about to witness is in part inspired by the Japanese film Dororo, in which Lord Kagemitsu thinks his fate is secure, but one of the demons he bargained with basically shows up and calls him a fool.

Goguryeo, 668 BCE
Last days of King Bojang's reign

Lord Gung Yiryeon
In the House of Lord Gung, there was saying that his youngest son,Yiryeon, should've been born a woman.  He was not a good archer.  He was not a good swordsman.  He was not fond of riding horses.  He didn't have a religious bone in his body and avoided temples like the plague.  But it was said one look from Yiryeon could fell a nation.

His own servants often whispered he was better suited to the life of, say, a royal courtesan, for he spent most of his days either at his calligraphy (which was so-so) or tending to his looks (which were exceptional).

The saying was somewhat ironic, for this evening, as he casually pampered his face, his countrymen were actually at war, with his own father and elder brother leading a good portion of the royal forces.

Yiryeon had always lived in his brother's shadow, friendless and odd.  He rarely spoke to anyone save to give an order to his servants, and fervently avoided his own relatives.  His mother had died in childbirth and his stepmother bore him no love, nor did any of his extended kin.  His only companion was a totem of a dokkaebi he'd bought in the market years earlier, which he often conversed with at random.

"They have been gone ten days now," Yiryeon mused aloud, twisting and turning before his bronze mirror.  "Perhaps Muhyul has been killed.  I always thought he would die in battle; he seems like the type.  Probably rushed the enemy's ranks and in his ardor fell upon a spear."  He chuckled, amused.  "Then Father will have only one son left, and no choice but to finally acknowledge me and make me his sole heir."

For the first time, he heard a rasping voice on the wind.  At first, he thought it was his own imagination running away with itself or a servant playing a cruel prank.  But when he turned, looking across the vast wooden floors in the sparsely decorated chamber, Yiryeon knew he was alone.

"Foolish Yiryeon," the voice derisively whispered.  "Even now the armies of Tang and Silla reduce your lands to ashen ruin.  You will be the only son and heir of dust."



Daos IV

Previously ~ Volume III

Picking up a few weeks after Volume Three, Volume Four's themes will revolve around humanity, origin, ancestry and how these concepts influence individual identity.  Heads up: there will be no "Big Bad" this season volume, because sometimes an internal demon is far more challenging than an external one.

Besides...as the city tries to get back to normalcy after the mysterious evacuation, new "people" will start arriving in town.


Daos III ~ Human Error, an Epilogue

Previously ~ Believer

Hyun-jun Im
Hyun-jun Im coughed suddenly, reclaiming their attention.  An amused Daos helped him up, and as he did so, wondered why he was helping him up.  Hyun-jun had never needed "helping up" before.

"What happened?" the demon broker asked hoarsely.

Daos's eyebrow went up again, even higher this time.  "You don't remember either?"

"The Horde....," Hyun-jun shook his head.  "I remember...I remember...you were supposed to cover me, Daos!  How the hell did I get knocked down by one of the Horde?"

Daos gazed at him in astonishment.  While he wasn't entirely surprised Dominador had forgotten (again), he hadn't expected Hyun-jun to forget as well.

Unless that's what the Umalagad was doing, he suddenly realized.  Burning away Hyun-jun's memory.

"I'm dizzy," Hyun-jun swayed on his feet.  "Why am I dizzy?  I've never been dizzy before in my life."  He looked up and around.  "And where is the Horde?"

Daos III ~ Ch9: Believer

Previously ~ A Heroic Trio

Nicolao Daos
Despite all the nay-saying and political theater, the evacuation was actually quite successful, with the town being emptied by sunset.  Daos mused at the convenient timing, repeatedly glancing to West as the sun went down.

"It's so quiet," Dominador murmured softly, as they walked the empty streets towards Club Piel Desnuda.  "I mean, I always thought this town was quiet but...."

"It'll be over soon," Hyun-jun assured him.  "I take it this is your first infestation?"

"How about you?" Daos asked suddenly.  "As long as you've been around, I know you've had to have seen a few."

The demon broker was grim.  "This will be my third.  My last one was during the reign of the great Seondeok herself."

Dominador shook his head in disbelief.  "Wait a minute...the Seondeok?  Queen Seondeok?  But she ruled, like, a forever ago!"

Dominador Ona
"Infestations are extremely rare," Daos explained.  "The trick is to catch the portals before any of the Horde come through.  Every time one of them enters our world, the portal is pushed open wider, which makes it increasingly unpredictable and harder to control."

"So where's the calvary?" Dominador asked.  "I mean, everyone seems to be on the same page when it comes to these guys - where are the shamans and bounty hunters and the like?"

"En route," Daos assured him.  "The Horde has a way of bringing folks together.  But the others have to travel by conventional means.  If they try opening portals of their own to get here, it could make things a lot worse."



Daos III ~ Ch8: A Heroic Trio

Previously ~ The Vermin Horde

Dominador Ona
"Uh...Daos?" Dominador began awkwardly, once they were back in the SUV and speeding back towards the other side of town.  "If I understand correctly, you intend to ask Hyun-jun for help."

"That's right."

"And if I understand the relationship between you two correctly...he dislikes you," Dominador blinked.  "In fact, it's safe to say he emphatically despises you."

"Correct again," Daos snorted.  "But in this gig, Dominador, everybody's got their price.  And as for Hyun-jun's detest, trust me when I say there are folks much higher up on his list."

The detectives weren't surprised to find Hyun-jun Im up and about at this hour, wearing the hell out of one of his impeccable suits no less.  He was in his new office space downtown.  It was newly renovated and expensively furnished, looking even more elegant than City Hall itself.

Dominador tried to ignore the discomfiting lack of "human" things in this guy's office, like a water-cooler or box of Kleenex or a mug of fresh hot coffee.  They found the demon broker behind his giant new cherry wood desk leisurely lounging in his large, leather-bound chair, feet propped up on his desk.

"And to what do I owe this...non-pleasure?" he gleefully asked.  Dominador noticed that when this man smiled, it never really reached his eyes.

Nicolao Daos
Daos was blunt, to the point.  "Hyun-jun, this town is on the brink of a full-blown infestation."

To Dominador's surprise, Hyun-jun's feet promptly dropped to the floor as he shuddered, visibly horrified.

"Good gods!" the demon broker recoiled.  "I thought you were running a clean city, Daos!"

"I was running a clean city until someone decided to play judge, jury, and executioner, going all ham on that water demon," Daos snapped.  "You want to play your little capitalist games in this town?  Fine.  I don't give a shit.  But the Horde is coming, and if you ever want to see your friend Gomez re-elected, a few plumes of your precious Hellfire would not go amiss."




Daos III ~ Ch7: The Vermin Horde

Previously ~ "Daos" Posters

Dominador Ona
Daos's call with the Consultant had barely ended before he got an urgent page from the Chief.  As per his new policy, he went to get Dominador, even if it meant waking a very grouchy man and dragging him from bed.

"It's barely dawn," the junior detective yawned for the hundredth time as Daos sped down the empty streets of Soleado Valle.  He took another swig of his hot black coffee, no cream or sugar.  "What the hell could possibly be an emergency in this town at this hour?"

"Couple of dancers down at Club Piel Desnuda found a body around 3 a.m.," Daos said grimly.

"Oh, no," Dominador shook head, running his fingers through his thick black hair.  "Not again.  We burned down the old club and Strawberry relocated to a new club - why is this still happening, Daos?"

"The dancers freaked out so they didn't get a good look at the corpse, but the Chief is already guessing it ain't human."

Nicolao Daos
Dominador sat up straight now, suddenly alert.  "Demon?"

"Most likely," Daos nodded.  "It's at the morgue.  Supposedly it looks as though it fell from a great height and splattered against the pavement behind the club."

Dominador was confused.  "But all the buildings in that area are two stories high or less."

"Which means it probably didn't fall from a building, but more likely through a gateway," Daos scowled.  "I knew Hyun-jun shouldn't have been messing with portals. Not in this friggin' town."



"Daos" Posters

Previously ~ The Prince Who Swallowed the Sun

All right Daos fans, Christmas is coming a little early to Dark & Twisty. As I prepare to wrap up Volume III and start drafting Volume IV, here's a tiny present for all the loyal readers, and yes, yes, yes, Amanda O...I made sure Aljur's pic is a shirtless one.

Next ~ The Vermin Horde