The cloying, overpowering scent of incense clawed at the back of my throat, making me feel a little queasy. It dominated the other scents in the chamber; the permeating whiff of mould, the tang of candle wax, the acrid scent of sweat, and the musk of sex.
Hidden beneath the heavy cowl of my robe, I drew nearer to the black altar, stepping over the other worshippers at the mass. Did they really come here to worship the devil, or was this an excuse to abandon their inhibitions?
I squinted in the poorly-lit chamber, trying to make out details. My eyes stung from the smoke. For a moment I thought I saw a shadow behind the altar. It was humanoid, but I doubted the shadow was made by a man. Tall antlers crowned the large head; a rack that would make any stag envious. The shadowy form was broad of shoulder, heavily-muscled, and slim of waist. I tried to focus on the shadow form, to capture its face, but as quickly as it had come, it was gone.
I wondered whether the cloying scent contained some drug that was causing me to hallucinate. Could the monotonous chanting of the worshippers have caused the shadowy daemon to appear?
The temperature in the room fell dramatically, which was something of a relief. Dressed in the heavy black robe, I was sweating profusely.
The atmosphere changed, becoming ominously heavy. My head ached and I could feel the touch of a migraine coming on. I wondered if the clouds outside the disused church were building for a storm, or whether the oppression was isolated to this dim cellar. Instinct told me that the night sky remained clear.
The chanting continued, adding to the tension in the room. Whatever was going to happen, it would happen soon. It was time to act.
Hands suddenly gripped my robe, yanking at me.
I looked at the naked bodies writhing about on the floor. A naked young woman, eyes glazed with passion and perhaps something more medicinal, was looking up at me. He hand stroked up my thigh, urging me to join her.
Repulsed, I yanked myself free from her grasp and slipped into the shadows at the side of the crypt. Taking a few deep ragged breaths to calm myself, I reached within my robes and tapped on the microphone hidden there. One, two, three taps, then a pause, followed by two more.
It didn’t take long for reinforcements to arrive. They were waiting close by.
Slipping on the gas mask, I closed my eyes and covered my ears. I didn’t have to wait long.
Flash grenades tinkled onto the floor of the crypt, exploding moments later. The room filled with tear gas, further confusing the devil worshippers. And then, the witch-hunters charged in, bludgeoning any resistance with vicious blows.
The black mass was halted, and everyone arrested. Nevertheless, it would be a long night for me.
These days, even witch-hunters are plagued by paperwork.