Part 1 here
Part 2 here
Mephistopheles had survived everything from being cast from Heaven to spending eternity in Hell. He knew when to strike, when to retreat, and when to do nothing. A Nocturne alone, he could have forgiven. A Nocturne who created others of its kind, whether of beast or human form, was unforgivable. Only he created Death. Only he was master of the undead.
He rose from the earth before the old lady’s home in a blaze of volcanic activity: magma, spewing; lava, flowing; the hordes of Hell at his side. He came prepared.
The children down the hill fled, their parents, too. The battleground was drawn and Mephistopheles waited, his great crimson horns flashing in the fire, his cloven hooves stamping at the ground.
The net curtains twitched. Somewhere, a dog howled. A yard gate creaked open.
The hordes of Hell looked upon their lord for leadership. He had no choice but to extract she who would not appear. And so he stomped across the yard, his feet leaving a blazing path, and burst through the old lady’s door. Even he turned his head from the hound before him, rotten, yet alive. It fled. He followed.
The beast of the Netherworld crashed through the hall, burst into the living room, then stopped. There before him, huddled in a chair by the net curtains, was a woman older than time itself. The moment she stood, her guise slipping, he realised his mistake.
“You are not Nocturne. You are one of the Fallen,” he said in voice of cracking granite. And Mephistopheles trembled then.
“I was Fallen,” said she, oozing into the air as black smoke. “Now, I am Nocturne. And, my emboldened once friend, I am hungry.”
It was said the hordes of Hell swept back to the underworld like whimpering children, masterless, they just upped and ran away. To the children and their parents who returned after a week of whispers, nothing had changed. All was as it was before. All stood familiar. Except, as noted one young boy, for the fire that now burned in the old lady’s fireplace, its acrid smoke spewing into the atmosphere. The flames could be seen flickering, the figure they silhouetted just sat. Nothing more.
The old lady still did not appear, though the children knew her there. The nets did not twitch. And although it might have sounded strange to say it, the world seemed more at peace than it had in living memory. Quiet even. At least, until the smoke stopped and a dog began to howl.