All demons have magic. Except one. And that’s just the beginning of my troubles.
I’m Ezekial. The only demon in Hell without magic. Yeah, me!
Being an outcast should keep me away from the attention of Lucifer’s Council, but apparently, they see something in me to use.
That, or they need someone to back a chimera carriage over.
I’m leaving for Seattle to find a runaway demon, who also happens to be the first of the Zodiac. A powerful magic-user. Heading to the Overworld, the only place where demons can be killed. I’m so lucky.
Remind me to thank Hell’s rulers… if I make it back.
But since when did anyone care what I have to say?
Being a loser is so much fun.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I wanted to do something fun after years of writing horror and thrillers. I was making career switch into fantasy, and felt like this series was speaking to me the loudest. So it received the attention before my more epic stories. Now, the Zodiac series even has its own spinoff series in the works.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I've had this main character in my head for years. His friends, enemies, and everyone in between were developed during the outlining phase of writing.
Let's get a few things straight.
All demons have magical Abilities—except one, and we'll get to that. Also, we don't look like those ridiculous caricatures you humans paint us as, even in Hell—which most demons, not me, prefer to call the Underworld—or walking the Overworld. Red skin and horns? Silly artifacts of ancient mortal political plays. Everything you've heard is an ugly stereotype, and more than a little offensive, if I'm being honest.
Before I get too far, let's address the minotaur in the room that is everyone being able to cast spells except for me. Being the only demon in the history of our race who can't wield magic is not something to brag about.
How did it happen? No one knows. Mother and Father—yes, us demons are victims of procreation too—have been shamed and criticized by the community from the beginning, so they stopped talking about it well before I turned three thousand years old. I mean, who wouldn't? Never in the million year history of our kind was there a demon like me.
I guess that makes me special, though you wouldn't know it by talking to Father. But he's an ass. He was from my earliest memory and I don't see him changing soon. I'm the shame of the family. The Segregate, different from everyone in the Underworld. Lucifer's reject.
"You're pathetic, Zeke."
That's me. Pathetic. The oddball. Nearly friendless and constantly getting my ass kicked by my closest friend.
I dodged the giant boa's strike, tucking and rolling behind a log before leaping on the fallen trunk and racing its length, knowing the snake would not be able to climb on it. Having put distance between me and Bilba's hellacious beast, I pushed my hair out of my eyes to look for an escape route.
There were none.
"Yeah, I'm well aware," I reminded Bilba Ravenous. "And you've got a stupid name. What of it?"
The blood on my lips, the result of tripping over Bilba's conjured snakes and falling face-first to the ground, left the taste of iron on my tongue. I was swallowing blood. My stomach was not going to be happy with me later, and I wasn't happy with my friend using his go-to spell—though I was more upset at myself for not anticipating him using it. He always did. Sometimes, I wanted to punch him hard enough to knock his stupid buzz cut hair off his even stupider head. Bilba could cast a number of spells, but most of them were half-ass attempts to learn something new. Snakes were his thing. How did I not see it coming?
After he tripped me with those slithering nightmares, he was kind enough to let me get to my feet before sending them after me. A simple task for him.
I ran for the nearest obstacle, a large, round evergreen shrub, thinking it would impinge the boas' ability to crush me. It circumvented the bush by cutting through the middle of it and was at my feet before I'd rounded the stupid thing. I jumped for the branch above my head, thanking Lucifer that he'd put it within my reach. Fate and all that, you know? How else could someone under five foot seven reach the blessed thing?
And there I hung, giving my temporary enemy the cockiest smile I could form.
"That's cheating," Bilba crossed his arms, pulling his loose shirt tight across his flabby chest.
"And you promised to try new spells and stop using those dumb things." I jerked my head at the coiled boas beneath me.
"But I win when I use them."
"Oh wow," I grunted as I pulled myself up to sit on the branch. "You beat the only magicless demon in Hell. Good job, buddy. You must be so proud of yourself. Let's agree to fight without magic and see how it ends."
"Fat chance," Bilba smirked.
I was drenched in sweat and he was barely breathing heavy, and he was the one who was desperately out of shape.
Bilba threw his head back, releasing a guttural laugh from the deepest part of his extended belly. Thankfully, he spared me the sight of it bouncing up and down by placing both of his hands over top of it, his long, black nailed fingers crisscrossing.
"I could crush you," he said in between chortling like a sow stuffed on a trough full of garbage.
I flicked my hand at him, unimpressed. "You and everyone else on the Fifth Circle. Heavens, everyone in any Circle of the Underworld. Big deal."
The Underworld has nine Circles. The Fifth Circle was home. A boring, crowded realm about as stimulating as having 'that' talk with your parents. It isn't at all like what your mortal Dante says. It can be nice in places. We have spots of open land, gardens, and prairies, that are designated as public spaces. My parents live near a garden, which makes it nice at times like this when Bilba wants to spar to improve his casting. Eve's Sanctuary—look, don't get mad at me, someone named these places long before I got thrown into the Underworld like a pariah—was today's location of my ass-kicking. A small but lush garden, it had become a regular spot to hang out and spar. Few demons used it, allowing me to lose to Bilba without completely being humiliated in the face of witnesses. I've had enough humiliation so there was no reason to pile more on.
Reaching down, I brushed the clumps of wet soil from my pants. Those were temporary; the grass stains were not. The small clumps fell and hit one of the boas on its stupid, small head. It looked up at me with a vengeful glare.
Bilba chuckled. "Your mother is going to kill you."
"You know what would be cool?" I asked, now adjusting to brush off the seat of my pants. "If you stopped abusing our friendship and the fact I'm the Segregate."
He cocked his head.
One corner of his lip pulled up, making his chubby cheek look like it was rolling into his eye, made funnier because his thick eyebrows scrunched down, cutting his face in half. "Why do you call yourself that? It's a bullshit name, but it's one you can reject, you know?"
Bilba shook his head. "I think you do."
"Maybe I'm into masochism?"
Bilba snapped his fingers, cutting off his spell. The two terrorist snakes puffed out of existence. I watched the grass for a moment longer.
"I won't conjure them again, I promise."
He was telling the truth, suddenly turning serious. Jumping from the tree and landing softly, I approached him. "Good, because I would have stepped on that one's head. I don't think he likes me."
"They're spells, Zeke. Nothing more. I'm pretty sure they don't have feelings."
I shook my head. "You don't know that for sure. Watch how he looks at me sometimes. I don't trust that little bastard."
Bilba slapped me on the back, still serious. "Stop avoiding the question."
I was the Segregate, Lucifer's Council—oh, we'll get to them, trust me—made an official declaration when it became clear that I lacked Abilities in my first year of school. During the basic Abilities curriculum, all the other imps got to explore their magical gifts, and when my teacher discovered I could not even boil water, she isolated me until the school figured out what to do—which was to assign special homework, which was nothing more than busy work to keep me out of the way. Plenty of parent-teacher conferences and medical appointments followed and, after it was confirmed that I could not cast the officials got involved. They confirmed the findings, made an announcement that ostracized my family and created the societal reject that was me. At least I still had access to social programs like medical care and the such, but I lost the ability to go to a good university after school, making finding a reliable job nearly impossible. After the initial media frenzy, life returned to normal for everyone except me. Even my parent's friends and coworkers accepted them back into their circles after a time. Few demons my age gave me that same allowance, and only Bilba publicly allied himself with me, though he also accused me of holding on to my resentment, telling me for the past few hundred years that I needed to let it go or it would make me angry and bitter.
I resented him for telling me that.
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