The Prologue: All Hallow's Eve
“This business of the multiverse, I must confess, both thrills and frightens me…”
Damien Thorn, dressed in an impeccable suit, sat behind his desk, stroking the head of his favorite Doberman. Before him lay the battered, slumped body of a Roman Catholic priest drawing rasping, shallow breaths. Looming over the priest was a tall, severe, evil looking woman.
“I wonder if it didn’t frighten you as well, Father?” Damien continued. “Countless realities with countless forms of evil. Where the struggle between myself and the wretched Nazarene counts for absolutely nothing.”
Damien rose from his seat, and strolled around the desk to better face the priest. The Doberman emitted a low growl. “Tawdry hells and devils with unlimited and ridiculous comic strip powers...I confess, Father, these things lie outside the simple duality I am comfortably used to…outside the purpose of my unholy birth to a jackal mother….”
He sighed. “But of course, I cannot ignore it. And I must claim this power of other hells, other worlds. I must Ascend, and then I can be comfortably free of the return of the Nazarene.”
He then addressed the woman. “Dear, dear Mrs. Blaylock – you have served me so well. Would you please hand over The Darkhold?”
“Of course, Master!” Mrs. Blaylock responded. “Oh Little One! How you’ve grown! I’m so proud!”
Damien accepted the Darkhold from Mrs. Blaylock with a wicked smile. He then turned to the Priest. “Incidentally, I feel I should let you know - your efforts to try to stop me from gaining The Darkhold have been a great honor to my person. You were one of my Father’s most celebrated enemies, Father Merrin!”
"The Darkholde is not yours yet, Evil One!" A woman hissed in a throaty alto. The speaker emerged from the shadows, a beautiful, dark-haired woman in a tight, vintage dress. Her green eyes flashed defiantly as she held up a severed hand that glowed in crepuscular fashion. Madame Xanadu held the glowing hand out as if to ward off Damien Thorne. "Let the Hand of Glory bewitch you, holding you enthralled in its power!"
Mrs. Blaylock growled as she pulled out her ritual knife. "Bitch! No one may accost my lord so!" She lunged at Madame Xanadu with a blood-curdling scream. The madwoman had every intention of sinking that blade in the woman's throat.
She never made it, as she ran headfirst into a mystical barrier created by a younger red-head. "Now, you just wait one minute there, Scary Poppins! There'll be no stabbing of the cartomancer on MY watch." Willow Rosenberg gave a definitive nod. Blaylock screamed in gibbering, inarticulate rage.
Willow just rolled her eyes. "Oh yeah? You know what I say to that? Excutio!" Hand held open, a glowing orb of light shimmered into her. Willow hurled it with all her strength. The bolt of light slammed into the crazed disciple, sending her crashing through the banister behind her.
Before Damien could react, a third woman joined them. "Be still, O' bastard spawn of Satan!" Her voice was paper-thin, low, tremulous, yet managed to hold an authority of considerable gravity. Unlike the first two, she was a wizened crone. Her eyes spoke of wisdom gained from several lifetimes of experience. She slowly stroked a black cat that purred in her arms.
Agatha Harkness faced Damien with a thin smile stretching even thinner lips. She waved her hand and the air crystallized around Father Merrin. The elderly witch invoked ancient words of power. Madame Xanadu and Willow exchanged looks, then began reciting in unison with Agatha. Father Merrin vanished from sight. "Father Merrin is a conscientious man who deserves better than writhing on a floor before the likes of you."