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*includes a digitally signed author note*


Once upon a time in Chicago…

There are only two things Artemus Steele and his friends want after their latest battle with Ba’al in Rome. Some R&R and zero encounters with demonic entities trying to kill them. Unfortunately for the angel and his allies, Ba’al is headed to Chicago in search of the slumbering Guardian they know to be there.

Detective Jeremiah Chase does not believe in monsters. But when his partner is attacked by one, he can no longer deny the evidence of his own eyes, nor the suspicions he has always harboured about Artemus Steele and the incident he once investigated at Elton LeBlanc’s auction house.

Leah Chase knows that lying to her father about her secret meetings with her estranged grandmother will come and bite her in the ass some day. When she receives a mysterious pendant from her grandmother, Leah wonders whether her father had done the right thing keeping her from seeing her mother’s family after all. Because strange things are starting to happen around her. And she can feel the presence of an otherworldly being growing within her soul.

When Haruki Kuroda saves Leah from a newborn demon, his actions trigger her awakening and set off a chain of events that no one could ever have imagined. With Ba’al intent on laying a trap to lure out the new Guardian and use her to open another gate of Hell, Artemus and the others must hunt down the divine beast who continues to elude them.

The question is, who will find her first?


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Blood and Bones
Fire and Earth
Hallowed Ground


Jeremiah Chase did not believe in monsters.

As he lay sprawled in a dirty alleyway in Chicago’s North Side, the metal dumpster he sat against leaching the warmth from his back and the savaged body of his partner and fellow Chicago PD detective Tony Goodman lying limply in his arms, Jeremiah repeated those words over and over inside his head, as if they were a prayer that would dispel the horror of what he was witnessing with his own eyes.

Monsters don’t exist!

The shrill howl of police sirens rose in the distance to the west, the sounds muted by the blood thundering inside his head. Though he knew his unconscious partner would not register the words, Jeremiah felt compelled to comfort him nonetheless.

“It’s okay, Tony,” he mumbled. “Help is coming!”

He pressed a hand against the gaping wound on the detective’s chest. The coppery smell of blood filled his nostrils and hot wetness soaked his fingers; Tony was bleeding profusely, his body growing colder and heavier with every passing second.

Jeremiah had already stripped his and Tony’s belts from their waists and tied them above the jagged lacerations in the detective’s leg and arm. Though he could feel Tony’s heart racing beneath his touch, his frozen gaze remained locked on the creature crouching over the remains of a dead man some twenty feet away.

Jeremiah could not have taken his eyes off their attacker even if he’d wanted to. Every instinct he possessed told him that to look away was to invite instant death.

Gore and human remains coated the vile beast’s jowls and fell thickly from his wicked talons. He buried his maw in the corpse’s gut, his strong jaws working hungrily while he crunched and chewed and swallowed.

Bile rose in Jeremiah’s throat at the wet sounds the creature made as he feasted on the dead man’s entrails. His knuckles whitened on the empty gun in his right hand.

He had already fired every round he had at the beast, to no avail. Though the monster had oozed black blood from his wounds, the gunshots had not impeded his ferocious assault on Tony, nor the men who had once been his allies.

The mangled bodies of the four drug dealers Jeremiah and his dying partner had hoped to question lay scattered across the alley behind the creature, the ground beneath them dark with blood. One of them was still breathing, albeit shallowly, his chest rising and falling raggedly with his labored gasps.

Even if Jeremiah managed to recover Tony’s handgun from where it had skittered under the dumpster behind them, he knew there would be no point using it on the beast to try and save his partner and the criminal. The creature was insanely fast and had avoided half the shots Jeremiah had aimed at him.

Jeremiah didn’t know if it was dumb luck or some stupid twist of fate that had kept him alive and unharmed so far. What he didn’t doubt though, was that he would not leave this alleyway alive. Not if the creature who had just manifested its evil presence inside the body of the fifth drug dealer had anything to do with it.

A low moan left Tony’s lips.

The beast’s head snapped around. Ochre pupils dilated in a sea of obsidian as he stared at Tony, his expression ravenous despite the gruesome meal he was gorging upon. Jeremiah could barely make out the features of the man he had once been, so grotesque was his ungodly transformation.

The creature looked up and met Jeremiah’s petrified stare. A diabolical smile split his mouth wide, much wider than should have been humanly possible. The beast raised his hideous face to the sky and roared.

He moved in the next instant, his actions so fast he was already halfway to Jeremiah before the detective was even aware that he was closing in on them.

A knife! Jeremiah looked frantically around the alleyway, despair a living entity throbbing through his veins. I need a knife, dammit!

Coldness filled him as the monster’s shadow engulfed them. Jeremiah instinctively covered Tony with his body to shield him from the attack and raised a hand defensively toward the claws descending upon them, conscious of how futile his actions were.

Something flickered in the air above the creature, drawing Jeremiah’s gaze through a gap between his fingers.

An object sailed the length of the shadowy alley and crashed into the back of the monster’s head. The creature jerked to an abrupt halt a few feet from Jeremiah, his claws raising sparks on the asphalt as he dropped on all fours.

The item peeled away slowly from the monster’s misshapen skull and thudded to the ground. The beast stared at it, its ugly features growing perplexed.

It was a backpack. A red one, with bright, colorful stickers all over it.

Jeremiah blinked.

He recognized the bag.

Terror clutched icy fingers around his heart at the same time an achingly familiar voice bellowed out a warning that echoed against the grimy walls of the alley.

“Get away from them!”

The words resonated starkly in Jeremiah’s ears. His stricken gaze found the figure standing braced at the opposite end of the gloomy passage. His stomach twisted.


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