I stared, incredulous. It wasn’t possible. Soul eaters couldn’t become solid, yet soon it had two legs and half a torso. Formed from mottled gray flesh, the limbs were abnormally long and stretched out. Tendons protruded out from its body in harsh contrast.
Emma cried out from behind me. “What is that?”
I didn’t have words as I watched it solidify up over two large arms then up over a head. The monster was now eight-feet tall. Where a face should have been, it was dark and fuzzy, like my eyes couldn’t focus. Putrid sulphur and heat pressed down on the store with unrelenting force. Chills wriggled down my spine like a waterfall of squirming maggots. Sweat poured down my face. I blinked. What I was witnessing was wholly impossible. To prove me wrong, the Soul Eater grabbed a rack of wine and hurled it at me.
I dove out of the way just in time, only to hear the rack of bottles smash and shatter against a display against the wall in a tremendous explosion of glass. Shards sliced the flesh across the top of my hands where they covered my head. Something bit deeply into my calf, just above my boot where my pant leg had ridden up, but I didn’t cry out. Lifting my head and turning slightly, I saw a jagged piece of curved glass four inches long sticking out of my leg. On my feet again, I reached down and yanked the piece out. Warm blood trickled down into my boot. Back to my feet, I searched for Emma.
“Emma?” So consumed with fear for her, I didn’t notice the soul eater upon me until the cold of its shadow fell over me. I whipped around, my head snapping back so I could look up into its hazy face. The dark sucking holes for eyes and a mouth appeared as it had when it was incorporeal.
“Chevalier,” the creature hissed through a mouth never used before.
“Soul eater,” I nodded back. I wanted it to believe I was still unafraid, but a soul eater becoming solid went against everything I’d ever been told. It had been a long time since fear had touched my heart.
Reaching into my heavy coat, I pulled out an opalescent moonstone the size of my palm and brandished it out toward the soul eater – the only useful tool I could smuggle through the metal detector. Most people knew it as a symbol of peace and harmony, but I knew it to be an amplifier to my power. I yelled out to the soul eater, “Hominay, regeta, questano.”
It threw back its massive head and let out a raspy chortle. Despite the light emanating from the moonstone reaching out toward the soul eater, the beast swept its massive arm, smacking me across the room, my body slammed into another rack of wine bottles. Bottles shattered under my weight. Corks popped with enthusiasm, followed by a hissing spray of liquid.
The breath had been knocked out of me, but my armor-lined clothing protected me from any broken glass. Wine dripped down the back of my head as I sat, gathering my wits.
From my new angle I could see Emma flattened against the floor behind a rack. Her eyes trained on me with a mixture of fear and wonder. Travis was crouched over her. He began to pull her up and toward the back exit, but they were too slow. The soul eater advanced on them. I tried to yell for them to look out, but the words came out as a wheeze after my hard impact. The soul eater hovered over them now. Travis’s body trembled, warring with its own fight or flight instinct. Glasses askew, Emma blinked up at the cloud as if she weren’t quite sure she could believe her eyes and was trying to wake herself up from a dream.
“Propheros,” the soul eater hissed at Travis. Holy gods of creation. The soul eater just named the Propheros, which could only mean one thing: the time of darkness was almost upon us.