“It was a good plan.” Manoach held out his hand and the oily black serpent at his feet grew and fattened into a caricature of a little boy. Harold could see Lentil in the features, and the mythical grandson, Leonard. He'd been right to reject them both. Even in his dreams his will was stronger than Manoach's.
“But doomed to failure.” Harold rose slowly to his feet. How long had he lain of the cold floor? Everything ached. “Admit it, Manoach. You've lost. My will was stronger than yours.”
“Lost? Lost, he says.” He laughed aloud. Even the plastic face of the demon-boy giggled, though the demons holding Gillian didn't utter a sound. “I haven't lost, Mr Waterman. True, I've failed to engage your services as a host to one of my people but I've far from lost. Even now my army grows, day by day, until such time that I can march on Hell itself.”
It was Harold's turn to laugh. “You mean the golems? We disabled them. Every one of them lies soulless and vacant, waiting to be melted down and turned into something useful.”
Manoach made a dismissive gesture. “Well done. That is a setback, true, but nothing that can't be replicated. It's merely a matter of gathering more souls.”
“That might be difficult if you've been banished from this plane.”
“Banished? I don't think that's possible.” He held up a hand as Harold began to respond. “Oh, I know you have a demon of your own but rest assured, Jasfoup is no match for my people. The blood you carry might be enough to ward them off but he's so far down the hierarchical ladder he couldn't see our feet with binoculars. A pity. He could have served us as a trusty lieutenant.”