The Brimstone War

When Phillip and Margot Heisey had been born, the town of East Redding had burned to the ground. The entire town. Every last structure. The fire had started in St. Catherine’s Hospital where Phillip had Margot had just been born. In fact, Mrs. Charlotte Heisey, their mother, had been forced to evacuate with her children almost immediately after their birth. Charlotte carried Phillip while a brave nurse carried Margot as they fled the flames and collapsed outside on the street. Mr. Luke Heisey, their father, had unfortunately succumbed to the flames and his body was never found in the ashes of the hospital.

Still, the twins were raised by their mother several towns over and they were fortunately not revisited by catastrophic fire. Their mother did the best she could but their upbringing was humble and relegated mostly to subsistence. They barely made their way in the world but the twins excelled in life anyway. Margot became a talented athlete. She hammered her body into shape through rigorous training and play. Meanwhile, Phillip became an excellent academic. He really enjoyed using his intellect and creativity and diving into his books. The two made an excellent team together.

On their thirteenth birthday, they received a visitor as they walked home after school. An old man, weathered by time and age stood in their path. He had a long gray beard and eyes like black coal. When the twins tried to pass, snakes crawled out from his long coat and blocked their path.

“Where are you going, children?” The man asked. “Come and talk to me.”

“We don’t talk to strangers,” Phillip said.

Margot picked up a stick, prepared to fend off the snakes. “Go away,” she said. “Let us pass.”

“But I have come to give you your birthright,” the man said.

“Who are you to us?” Phillip asked. “How do you know us?”

“My name is Nagas. I was sent by your true father,” the man said. “He wants to meet you.”

“Our father died in a fire when we were babies,” Margot said. “Go away.”

“Your father reigns over Hell,” the man said. “He sent me to collect you and begin your true education.”

“You’re telling us that our father is Satan,” Margot said. “and that we should follow him instead of our mother’s teachings?”

“I offer you unlimited wealth and unlimited knowledge,” Nagas said. “Luxury in a mansion of your own.”

Phillip seemed to seriously consider this offer until Margot put her hand on his shoulder which strengthened his resolve. Both twins looked defiantly at Nagas which made him frown deeply. His eyes morphed into those of a snake and two sets of bat wings extended from his back.

“Don’t be foolish!” Nagas yelled. “Don’t refuse your birthright.”

“Go away!” The twins yelled in unison. Nagas screamed and vanished in an explosion of shadow, uttering what the twins could only imagine were evil words in a foreign tongue.

The twins tried to convince each other and themselves that the incident had not happened. Weeks passed by and they returned to their lives and they were happy. There were no more thoughts of demons or Hell. They did not even think to ask their mother about it. Life was simple and they liked it that way.

On another walk home, their path was interrupted by a woman sitting on a stump, weaving something out of pieces of grass. As they approached, she smiled at them. Her teeth were green and she had a mad glint in her eye.

“Children!” She cried out. “Come closer!”

The twins were understandably hesitant. “No thanks,” Margot said.

“It didn’t go so well the last time,” Phillip said.

“Oh but I’m not a demon,” the woman said. “I’m a faerie. My name is Jenny.”

“What do you want?” Phillip asked.

“Well,” Jenny said. “I’ll be honest with you. More honest than that snake who was here before. War is rising again between Heaven and Hell. Hell created you two to be the perfect leaders for their new army.  Two antichrists for the price of one. If you don’t want to do that, things are going to go badly for you. Hell is going to want to eliminate or dominate you. Due to your origins, Heaven wants nothing to do with you. Total snobs. We’re somewhere in the middle and we’re offering our assistance. We don’t want to make you ours, we just want your help in protecting the Earth during the coming war. We want our kind and your kind to survive.”

“You understand that we’re hesitant to accept your offer,” Phillip said.

“It’s the best offer you are going to get,” Jenny said. “You’ll need some magic to survive and we’re stuck in the middle like you. This is an honest offer. We are nothing but honest.”

“We’ll think about it,” Margot said. “We’ll get back to you.”

“Fine,” Jenny said. “In the meantime, I offer you a book of spells. I’ll leave it here on the stump.”

The twins just stared at her and she shrugged and vanished. There was a book left on the stump just as she said. They approached with curiosity.

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