Saturday, January 14, 2017

Book Sales Breakdown 2016

Another year down and another bunch of books sold. My goal for 2016 was to sell 1,250 books. I made it there in late-November / early-December. I actually finished 2016 with 1,325 books sold for the year. Like my 2015 breakdown, I'm going to break down my sales from most sold to least sold and all of the cover images are linked to the Amazon page for that book if you want to check it out. When I list a current price, that is the price of the ebook (and generally the price that the book sold at for all of 2016.) Total sold is the number of books sold of that title since it was published.

Ebook Sales: 340
Audio Book Sales: 31
Paperback Sales: 9
Current Price: $3.99
Books Sold 2016: 380
Total Sold: 663

Minor Demons is really starting to gain some momentum. 380 copies is the most I've sold of any single book in any year so far as an author. I think the fact that there are two follow-up novels and a prequel novella out now really helps. I have a lot of readers who enjoy this series who grab new books as they come out, but 2016 saw a lot more people stumbling into Minor Demons and giving it a chance. I ran a few targeted promotions at $0.99 but I've moved away from giving away free books for the most part because it isn't anywhere near as effective as it used to be. Minor Demons may be my first book to sell 1,000 copies. I hope it gets there in 2017. If you've read it and enjoyed it, please recommend it to your friends and / or leave a review. It has 20 reviews on Amazon US with a 4/5 star rating and 5 reviews on Amazon UK with a 4.8/5 star rating. I also shelled out the money to create audio books for Minor Demons and Middle Demons. The Major Demons audio book is almost complete and will be released in early 2017.

Ebook Sales: 313
Audio Book Sales: 10
Paperback Sales: 6
Current Price: $4.99
Books Sold 2016: 329
Total Sold: 634

Middle Demons has almost as many copies sold as Minor Demons and it was my top selling book last year. Now that Middle Demons has been out for a while, the numbers suggest that 95.6% of readers who read Minor Demons have gone on to read Middle Demons. I'm very happy with that number. The series seems to be doing well with Kindle Unlimited readers on Amazon as well. I'm a little worried about the sell through on the audio books, but I haven't paid too much attention to audio books since 2014. They're never huge sellers for me.

Ebook Sales: 236
Audio Book Sales: N/A
Paperback Sales: 7
Current Price: $4.99
Books Sold 2016: 243
Total Sold: 243

Major Demons was released in May on Friday the 13th. It hasn't even been out for a full year yet and it's already sold 243 copies. I got a lot of positive feedback from readers following the release of Major Demons, many of them hoping for another book in the series. I did give some thought to ending the series here and tying up the ending a little more so I didn't leave a few things open-ended. Readers convinced me that they enjoy this series enough that I should continue it. The Major Demons audio book will be available soon (hopefully February, it was delayed a little and I'm reviewing it right now) and I expect sales numbers to go up now that it has a full year to sell. I'm working on the next book in the series, Minor Nephilim, which I expect to launch in 2017.

Ebook Sales: 42
Audio Book Sales: N/A
Paperback Sales: N/A
Current Price: $9.99
Books Sold 2016: 42
Total Sold: 42

In an effort to get more readers interested in the series, I released Angels and Demons: The Demon Trilogy bundle that includes Minor Demons, Middle Demons, Major Demons, and Outcast Demons as a bonus. It has done pretty well and does better in some countries where I don't sell as many books (India, Canada, and Australia among them.) If you want to get your friends hooked, tell them to pick up The Demon Trilogy. It'll save them a little money over buying the books individually.

Ebook Sales: 19
Audio Book Sales: N/A
Paperback Sales: 17
Current Price: $3.99
Books Sold 2016: 36
Total Sold: 82

My fifth bestseller for 2016 was my photo tour of the Caribbean. This book also sold the most paperbacks for 2016. I imagine it'll break 100 total copies sold in 2017 and become the second of my travel photo books to do so (the only one that has made it so far is East Coast History.) If you want some ideas of what to check out in the Caribbean, check out this book. It has some great pictures and some interesting history.

Ebook Sales: 14
Audio Book Sales: 10
Paperback Sales: 6
Current Price: $2.99
Books Sold 2016: 30
Total Sold: 166

My short history article on Caribbean pirates and privateers is slowly making its way to 200 copies sold. When it reaches that point, it will be my second history article to do so (Constantine: The Emperor of Tolerance reached that point a while back.) This article goes along great with my Caribbean travel photo book. Definitely worth checking both out if you're headed to the Caribbean.

Ebook Sales: 13
Audio Book Sales: 0
Paperback Sales: 15
Current Price: $2.99
Books Sold 2016: 28
Total Sold: 96

Moving along alphabetically (tied for 7th place), Gateway to the Vikings: L'Anse aux Meadows comes next. I actually traveled to L'Anse aux Meadows in 2016 and released a travel photo book for the site plus Boston and Halifax. It goes great with this short history article. Feel free to check them both out. Gateway to the Vikings also placed 2nd for most paperbacks sold in 2016.

Ebook Sales: 28
Audio Book Sales: N/A
Paperback Sales: 0
Current Price: $2.99
Books Sold 2016: 28
Total Sold: 28

Law school and work get in the way of me just writing all day. That being the case, I wanted to get another Angels and Demons book out when I had some free time to write over the summer. I decided to write a prequel to Minor Demons. It's roughly 40,000 words (so a little more than half the length of the novels) and follows the demon Bumalin as he becomes a memory thief in the Philippines. It hasn't really sold many copies yet, but I only released it in late August so I'll give it some time. If you've read the three novels but haven't read Outcast Demons yet, head over to Amazon and grab a copy.

Ebook Sales: 12
Audio Book Sales: 4
Paperback Sales: 8
Current Price: $2.99
Books Sold 2016: 24
Total Sold: 139

My short history article on Luther Standing Bear was in the also-bought section of Luther Standing Bear's own works on Amazon last year. It sold 78 copies in 2015. Obviously that's not the case anymore, as it's down to 24. It's still a great short read and way less than the publishers of other works on Luther Standing Bear will charge you. That's still one of my favorite history book covers. It features an Igarut shield and spear I bought the last time I was in Baguio.

Ebook Sales: 4
Audio Book Sales: 10
Paperback Sales: 9
Current Price: $0.99
Books Sold 2016: 23
Total Sold: 182

These seven short computer stories from my days as an in-home computer technician were put together for an eight hour writing challenge. I put this entire book together (including the cover that I made in MS Paint) in under eight hours. It has now sold a total of 182 copies and is my most popular selling audio book overall. That's the most accidental success I've had with any title, so I just leave it alone and let it do it's own thing. It isn't very long, but it's very entertaining for a $0.99 ebook. It was also my best selling book in 2014.

Ebook Sales: 7
Audio Book Sales: 13
Paperback Sales: 0
Current Price: $0.99
Books Sold 2016: 20
Total Sold: 64

My Geekus Maximus short stories are hidden gems. Seriously, if you're a little geeky and want some laughs, go buy everything I've written under my Geekus Maximus pen name. It'll cost you less than $3 total (or nothing if you're in Kindle Unlimited). This 8,000ish word short story follows an out of work computer tech named Robert who finds new clients in a fantasy land of dwarves, elves, goblins, trolls, and talking horses. Yes, the trolls have original technology riddles that I created. See if you can solve them before Robert does.

Ebook Sales: 5
Audio Book Sales: N/A
Paperback Sales: 13
Current Price: $3.99
Books Sold 2016: 18
Total Sold: 121

If you enjoy U.S. history, you will enjoy this travel photo book. Over 125 photos and brief histories from: the Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, Arlington National Cemetery, Mount Vernon, Monticello, Jamestown (with excavation photos), Gettysburg, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 memorial, and more. History nerds will dig this book.

Ebook Sales: 15
Audio Book Sales: N/A
Paperback Sales: 2
Current Price: $2.99
Books Sold 2016: 17
Total Sold: 92

This 54,000ish word collection contains three short stories I wrote when I was first starting out as an author. It follows the last known descendants of Dr. Jekyll as they take on and attempt to stop the descendants of Mr. Hyde. They don't sell a lot of copies and don't make much money, but I will be adding the first short story to a multi-author bundle soon in 2017. If you like the Angels and Demons series, I imagine you'll have a good time with these as well, even though they're shorter.

Ebook Sales: 7
Audio Book Sales: 4
Paperback Sales: 2
Current Price: $2.99
Books Sold 2016: 13
Total Sold: 250

Constantine: The Emperor of Tolerance was my best selling book in both 2012 and 2013. It's a modified version of my senior thesis and explores the idea that Constantine shaped Constantinople as a city open to both Christians and pagans. By doing so, he set a model for emperors to follow. Any time an emperor diverted from that path like Theodosius (in favor of Christians) or Julian (in favor of pagans), it led to civil war. This one is my personal favorite. I'm thrilled that it's up to 250 total copies sold now.

Ebook Sales: 5
Audio Book Sales: 2
Paperback Sales: 4
Current Price: $2.99
Books Sold 2016: 11
Total Sold: 140

I wrote Explanations and Advice for the Tech Illiterate because I saw a need for it as an in-home computer technician. It covers a lot of computer and home theater basics and helps you understand the terminology and what you should be looking for in retail stores. I had these available on all outlets for a year and they still only sold on Amazon, so they'll be going back as Amazon exclusives this year. Great series if you need some help with technology basics.

Ebook Sales: 3
Audio Book Sales: 2
Paperback Sales: 5
Current Price: $2.99
Books Sold 2016: 10
Total Sold: 56

I actually thought I would stop the Tech Illiterate series after Volume II, but a reader left a review letting me know that she had purchased both the ebooks and the paperbacks (which she marked up) and that they had changed her life. She didn't feel afraid of technology anymore. She asked me to continue the series, so I did. I'm hoping the series does better back as Amazon exclusives this year.

Ebook Sales: 1
Audio Book Sales: N/A
Paperback Sales: 7
Current Price: $2.99
Books Sold 2016: 8
Total Sold: 33

I've talked about what's in this travel photo book before, so let me tell a story about the cover. That tiger was asleep nearly the entire time we were there looking at it. I had time to buy a shirt and walk around for a while. The tiger slept the whole time. As we were leaving, he popped his head up and I ran back. When I looked through all the photos I took for this book, one of the shots of the tiger that I took when I ran back was my favorite and ended up on the cover. I'm really glad he woke up.

Ebook Sales: 2
Audio Book Sales: 2
Paperback Sales: 3
Current Price: $2.99
Books Sold 2016: 7
Total Sold: 64

This is a pretty cool little article that traces some early sources towards the origin of prayers through Archangels and intercessory beings. The praying couple on the front are the Mary and Joseph from the carved nativity set I bought in Baguio. As you may have guessed, my house has a lot of wood carvings from Baguio. A lot.

Ebook Sales: 4
Audio Book Sales: N/A
Paperback Sales: 3
Current Price: $3.99
Books Sold 2016: 7
Total Sold: 37

This book is a great photo-based tour of three major Asian cities. The cover features the entrance to the grave of the 47 Ronin. Definitely worth checking out.

Ebook Sales: 3
Audio Book Sales: N/A
Paperback Sales: 4
Current Price: $2.99
Books Sold 2016: 7
Total Sold: 32

This is my photo-based travel book on Hawaii. It was my only book to sell 0 copies in 2015, so I guilt-tripped everyone in my last Book Sales Breakdown. The guilt-trip worked, because it sold a few copies early in 2016 and then a few more later on in the year. So thanks everyone. Someone go buy a copy now so I don't have to guilt-trip you in the 2017 Book Sales Breakdown. :-P

Ebook Sales: 4
Audio Book Sales: 1
Paperback Sales: 1
Current Price: $0.99
Books Sold 2016: 6
Total Sold: 36

This is the second short story in the journeys of Robert the computer tech. In this one, goblins release a virus so that they can drum up business for their anti-virus software company. My sister did the cover for this one. I'm gonna say it again, go buy every Geekus Maximus book. Less than $3 total.

Ebook Sales: 5
Audio Book Sales: 1
Paperback Sales: 0
Current Price: $2.99
Books Sold 2016: 6
Total Sold: 56

This is a combo of two really short articles, one about the theocracy that existed in early Utah and the other about Gregory Palamas of the Eastern Orthodox church. I'm really surprised it sold an audio book, because it's been blasted over on Audible. Writing about anything religion-related always brings out people with really strong opinions.

Ebook Sales: 2
Audio Book Sales: N/A
Paperback Sales: 4
Current Price: $2.99
Books Sold 2016: 6
Total Sold: 43

I miss the Philippines like crazy. I lived over there as a missionary from 2005-2007. In my travels, I've also discovered that I just really like islands in general. I also hate snow... especially Utah snow. This is a unique book in my travel photo series because I speak fluent Tagalog, so I've included some Tagalog words and a lot of really cool places to check out. The rice terraces of Banaue (on the cover) have been farmed for thousands of years. If I ever make enough money to retire early, I might move to the Philippines... or the Caribbean... or just away from Utah.

Ebook Sales: 4
Audio Book Sales: N/A
Paperback Sales: 2
Current Price: $2.99
Books Sold 2016: 6
Total Sold: 32

I should have named this one Traveling the U.S.: Salt Lake City. This mostly explores historical sites in Salt Lake, Echo, and Park City. It was fun to walk around and learn a little more about the history of Salt Lake for myself. It's a cool book with some great pictures.

Ebook Sales: 0
Audio Book Sales: 5
Paperback Sales: N/A
Current Price: $0.99
Books Sold 2016: 5
Total Sold: 39

This short story was free for a long time to generate sales of the next two short stories. I've changed it back into a $0.99 ebook and I think a lot of the readers interested in the series just buy the $2.99 bundle. I'm fine with that. This does have an amazing audio book version, though.

Ebook Sales: 3
Audio Book Sales: N/A
Paperback Sales: 2
Current Price: $2.99
Books Sold 2016: 5
Total Sold: 5

In our 2013 east coast history travels, we didn't have time to make it up to Boston. This year, I suggested we go to Boston and then fly up to Halifax to drive down and see L'Anse aux Meadows. We put that vacation together and I got some amazing photographs of colonial history in Boston and the only confirmed North American viking site up in Canada. It's a steal at $2.99. Go read it.

Ebook Sales: 3
Audio Book Sales: 0
Paperback Sales: 0
Current Price: $1.99
Books Sold 2016: 3
Total Sold: 46

This is the short story that started it all for me. I wrote it way back in 2012 when I decided being an author would be a fun hobby. I had no idea how much fun it would be and that it would eventually lead to an extra passive income every month. I still really like the cover for this one, even though it doesn't necessarily gel well with the genre.

Ebook Sales: 1
Audio Book Sales: N/A
Paperback Sales: 2
Current Price: $2.99
Books Sold 2016: 3
Total Sold: 11

This is the only Tech Illiterate volume that hasn't made back its costs, but I don't care. That's not why I wrote this one. I wrote this one because a reader asked me to continue the series. Her review made me feel like I had done something life-changing for her, so I wrote Volume III. It'll eventually make back its costs.

Ebook Sales: 2
Audio Book Sales: N/A
Paperback Sales: N/A
Current Price: $8.99
Books Sold 2016: 2
Total Sold: 10

So the history article collection finally got a new cover. I ran a Facebook ad early last year when I was still experimenting with Facebook ads. The ad sold two copies. I'll take it. At least the history article collection didn't go a year with nothing. If you're interested in a few of my history articles, buy the collection. It'll save you a lot of money.

Ebook Sales: 2
Audio Book Sales: N/A
Paperback Sales: N/A
Current Price: $5.99
Books Sold 2016: 2
Total Sold: 2

I created this bundle that includes all three Tech Illiterate books to save readers some money if they want more than one. I don't expect it to sell a lot, but it has already sold one in 2017.

Ebook Sales: 1
Audio Book Sales: 0
Paperback Sales: N/A
Current Price: $1.99
Books Sold 2016: 1
Total Sold: 24

This is a short 10,000ish word novella I wrote as a follow-up to Jehovah and Hades. I stopped the series after this one, but the things I learned writing this series ultimately led to my decision to write Minor Demons in 2013. Thank you to whoever purchased the single copy that this short story sold in 2016.

I've already sold over 100 books so far in 2017. That's insane. I'm actually starting to get some fans with the Angels and Demons series. Here's the total breakdown for the past 5 years:

2012 Books Sold: 157 (156 ebooks, 1 paperback)
2013 Books Sold: 372 (222 ebooks, 139 audio books, 11 paperbacks)
2014 Books Sold: 636 (404 ebooks, 160 audio books, 72 paperbacks)
2015 Books Sold: 998 (885 ebooks, 70 audio books, 123 paperbacks)
2016 Books Sold: 1,325 (1,099 ebooks, 95 audio books, 131 paperbacks)

That puts me at 3,488 books sold since I started in 2012. I put a lot more time into this now than I did back in 2012 and I hope the numbers continue to trend upwards. That's why I'm aiming to sell 1,750 books in 2017. That's a bigger jump than I've seen in years past, but I will be releasing the 4th Angels and Demons book this year and at least start working on the 5th. Ultimately, I would love it if I sold enough at some point in the future that I could go down to being a part-time lawyer and / or IT guy and dedicate more time to writing. I'm definitely trending towards that, so thank you to all of my readers. Here's to a great 2017!

You can check out my 2015 book sales breakdown here, my 2014 books sales breakdown here, and my 2013 book sales breakdown here.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Minor Nephilim: 5 Chapter Preview

What follows is the first five chapters of the rough draft version of Minor Nephilim. I hope you enjoy it and purchase the book when I release it (sometime in 2017).


This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are a product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016 by Randall J. Morris
Cover image used with permission of the artist (Gabriela at
Cover by Elizabeth Mackey Graphics
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in critical articles or book reviews.


Shade was surrounded. Two nephilim circled him, both of them grinning. He spun slowly as they circled, careful to keep his short blades pointed at them. They would occasionally lunge and pretend to attack, but neither of them actually struck. They half-heartedly swung their weapons and it was easy for Shade to evade their attacks. He knew what was happening. They were killing time until the real threat showed up.
“So the two of you are too chicken to take me on? You need to wait for your big brother to come save you?”
Shade’s taunting struck a nerve in one of the nephilim. He took a swing at Shade’s head, actually moving in close enough to mean it this time. Shade side-stepped the attack and elbowed the nephilim hard in the nose. He dropped his sword and clutched his nose with both hands, frantically trying to stop the bleeding. The other nephilim charged Shade, screaming like a banshee. Shade evaded the attack and tripped the nephilim. He went down hard, belly first. When he turned on his back, Shade brought his boot down quickly on the nephilim’s face. He was out cold.
“Picking on my little brothers again, Shade?”
Shade turned and saw Reaper approaching. He sheathed his weapons and shook his head defiantly.
“I wasn’t picking on anyone. I was minding my own business.”
“It doesn’t look like that. It looks like you knocked one out and gave the other one a bloody nose.”
“They attacked me. I was just on my way home from your father’s house when…”
Reaper laughed.
“Practicing again? When will it finally sink in? You can’t do magic. You’re terrible. The worst I’ve ever seen. The rumors about your father summoning ice and all of his other powers are bullshit. You’re a bastard runt of an angel and a demon that didn’t want you.”
Shade drew the longsword from his back and charged. Reaper yawned, then held up his hand and fire shot out. Shade flew backwards in the air and landed hard on the ground. Before he could get up, Reaper was on top of him. He hit him hard three times in the face. Shade held up his arms to block the next blow, but it never came.
“That’s enough.”
Shade tilted his head and looked up through his swollen eyes. Everything was blurry, but he knew who it was. Lucia was radiating light like she always did. Reaper got to his feet.
“Hey, babe. I caught your little buddy picking on my brothers again. I needed teach him another lesson.”
Lucia gave him a skeptical look. Reaper held up his hands in submission.
“I don’t enjoy kicking his ass. He was asking for it.”
Lucia reached down and offered a hand to Shade. He got to his feet without taking it, embarrassed by the entire situation. Lucia looked angrily at Reaper’s younger brothers.
“Fade. Backlash. Get over here now.”
Fade had stopped the blood from pouring out of his nose and helped Backlash to his feet. Backlash was clutching his head, still in pain from being briefly knocked out.
“Did you attack Shade?”
Fade shook his head.
“He attacked us. We weren’t even doing anything to him and we asked him to leave us alone.”
“Don’t lie to me. Backlash?”
Backlash looked at the ground.
“We were just messing around. We weren’t trying to hurt him.”
“You say that every time. It usually doesn’t turn out that way… does it? I don’t want to see any more bruises on Shade courtesy of you two morons.”
Shade couldn’t take it anymore.
“We were just messing around and Reaper misread the situation. It’s fine, Lucia. I don’t need your help.”
“Shade… I just…”
Shade turned and walked away. Lucia felt Reaper’s hand on her cheek and he turned her head to look at him. He was grinning mischievously.
“Am I in trouble?”
Lucia tried hard not to grin.
“You’re not going to get away with it so easily every time. The next time you do that, I’ll think about dumping you.”
“Hey, I should get a pass this time. I really thought that weirdo picked the fight. He was hurting my brothers.”
Lucia rolled her eyes. Reaper figured it was time to change the subject.
“We still on to hunt some angels and demons later on?”
“Sure. I need to sharpen my knives, but I’ll drop by your place after that.”
Lucia kissed Reaper quickly.
“Oh and I’m serious. Leave Shade alone. The next time I see the three of you attacking him, I’ll join in. On his side.”
“Just go get your knives sharpened. I’m sorry about the whole thing. I didn’t know that they started the fight. I’ll straighten my brothers out.”
Lucia grinned at him and walked towards Weapon’s armory. Reaper turned to his younger brothers.
“Since when can Shade beat the two of you up? That was pitiful. Do a better job ambushing him next time.”
Fade and Backlash looked at each other, then up at Reaper.
“We did what you told us to!”
“Yeah! Give us a break! He’s a good fighter!”
Reaper put a hand on his on each of his brothers’ shoulders.
“Our father is the most powerful nephilim sorcerer in the city. Use some fucking magic next time!
Reaper smacked them each hard in the side of their heads.


As Shade walked away from Lucia, Reaper, and Reaper’s brothers, he felt the inside of his mouth with his tongue. His teeth were all still there but he could taste blood. Shade felt the rest of his face and could tell that his left cheek was slightly bruised. He cursed Reaper and then he cursed magic in general.
As Shade followed the path to Weapon’s house, he got the feeling that he was being followed. He didn’t hear any footsteps, but could still tell that something was coming. There was something unnatural up in the trees. He pulled one of his short swords from its sheath right as he felt a blade press against his neck.
“I got you, Shade. Clean kill.”
Shade grinned.
“Check your hip.”
Shade pressed his blade slightly inward to emphasize his point. The nephilim removed the blade from his throat and frowned.
“You would have died first.”
“But you would have also died. You would have bled out. It wasn’t a clean kill, Nissa. Maybe next time.”
Nissa placed her sword inside her coat. It disappeared.
“How did you even know I was coming? I was up in the trees.”
“Well I’m still annoyed, but I wasn’t just looking for you to get a clean kill. I got a contract from dad. There’s a minor demon that has been stealing weapons from the armory. Five gold coins a piece if we can take him out.”
“Why doesn’t Weapon just kill him? Why the contract?”
“Do you really care? It’s easy money and good practice for the hunt. I hope you’ve been practicing. I’m not going to carry you through this, Shade. You need to pull your weight if you’re going to become a minor nephilim with me.”
“You just assume I’ll want to work with you? Maybe I found someone better.”
Nissa laughed.
“Very funny, Shade. There is no one better. I’m the greatest nephilim fighter there ever was, is, or will be.”
“Fine. I’ll help you with this job, but I want to see the contract first.”
“Because I found out that you cheated me last time. The contract was for fifteen gold coins and you only gave me five. I was even the one who killed the angel!”
Nissa grinned sheepishly.
“There was an extra fee for having to put up with your bullshit.”
“Then go take the demon out yourself. You don’t even need my help.”
“Stop pouting. I enjoy your company when I’m hunting and killing things. Happy?”
“I will be when you let me see the contract.”
Nissa weighed her options and then handed the contract over to Shade. She exhaled loudly in frustration.
“Why can’t you just trust me?”
“Because you were lying again. The contract is for twenty gold coins. That’s ten a piece.”
“I get twelve, you can have eight, and I’ll pretend I don’t notice when you stare at my ass the entire time. Deal?”
“I’m going home, Nissa. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Shade turned and started walking the other way. Nissa caught his arm.
“Fine. Ten coins each. Dad’s not sure this is a single demon. He thinks there may be a few. I need your help.”
“Ask me nicely.”
“Never mind. Go home then.”
Shade shrugged and started leaving again. Nissa caught his arm a second time.”
“And apologize for lying.”
“Oh come on! Are you serious?”
Shade smirked.
“No. I’m honestly surprised you even knew the word ‘please.’ Let’s go kill some demons.”

The small group of demons had successfully raided Weapon’s armory three times and turned an enormous profit from the weapons they sold when they made it back to Hell. The demons had scouted the place. They knew Weapon lived in the forest, a considerable distance from the nephilim city of Necropolis. They also rarely spotted him in the armory. Between training nephilim to fight, his duties on the nephilim council, and forging weapons in his blacksmith shop, Weapon only visited the armory to drop off weapons and armor.
The three demons entered the tunnel they built the first time they looted the armory. One of them lifted the circular hole they had cut in the floor and lifted his head inside. He looked around. Weapon wasn’t inside. This would be an easy score, just like the first three times.
The demon signaled to the others and then lifted himself into the armory. He reached for a sword and felt his hand severed at the wrist. His scream was cut short as his head was severed from his body.
“Is Weapon here? I thought he gave the signal?”
“There’s no one here. He did give the signal.”
“Well that’s just rude. I’m someone.”
The demons turned and saw an attractive female nephilim with dark hair, green eyes, and a trench coat. They eyed her hungrily, neither of them seeing her as a threat.
“Weapon’s daughter, huh? Why don’t you take off that trench coat and let us get a good look at what you’ve got underneath?”
“You haven’t earned it.”
“Well then maybe I’ll just remove it myself.”
Shade dropped from the ceiling and planted a sword in the top of each demon’s head. One demon fell forwards and the other fell backwards.
“Not gonna lie. I’m even impressed with how stylish that double kill was.”
Shade winked.
“Then why don’t you take off that trench coat and let me get a good look at what you’ve got underneath?”
Nissa smiled.
“Go fuck yourself.”
“Standard contract? We just need to deliver the heads?”
“That and we need to clean up in here. There’s demon blood everywhere. You made a mess.”
“You’re the one that severed a hand. This is mostly your mess.”
“Hey… equal pay for equal partners. That’s what you wanted. That means you do half the cleanup.”
Nissa tossed Shade a mop and a bucket.
“Hey, Nissa?”
“Wanna be my partner for the hunt tomorrow?”
“So you admit you don’t have better options?”
Shade looked like he was about to respond, but Nissa cut him off.
“I don’t need to hear the sarcasm. Yes. I’m in.”


There were four members of the nephilim council: Lilith, Steam, Weapon, and Selene. Lilith called the meeting to order.
“As we all know, the hunt starts tomorrow. Let’s try to keep this meeting short. I’ll only be taking urgent business to King Leech. Does anyone have anything?”
Selene shifted uncomfortably and nodded.
“Angels and demons have been hitting our new outpost hard for a while now. I’ve received reports that our defenses have fallen. Weapon looked into it.”
Weapon placed a piece of parchment on the table.
“I took a small group of nephilim to attempt to retake the outpost after Selene told me the defenses were down. All of our nephilim are dead. There were a few demon corpses mixed in as well. We found the charred remains of Earthquake. They burned him alive and placed this letter in his mouth.”
Weapon slid the parchment across the table. Lilith picked it up and read it. She shook her head.
“We’re sure this is legit? The angels would love to pin something like this on Muan if they can.”
Steam nodded.
“Weapon brought several demon corpses back with him. They were definitely berserkers. I recognize the spells they were under and the markings on their bodies. It looks like Muan was behind this. It’s no secret the demons don’t want us expanding.”
Lilith crumpled the letter and tossed it back on the table. She turned to Selene.
“Are the defenses of Necropolis in jeopardy? This situation worries me. Should we postpone the hunt?”
Selene shook her head.
“Our defenses here are fine. There’s no need to postpone the hunt. We just need to build out stronger the next time we expand the city. The outpost was too far away and we didn’t use enough magic. I think it would be a good idea to build another outpost closer and fortify it better. I can have walls up quickly enough, but I would like Steam to curse them with his sorcerers this time. We can’t let them get lucky again.”
“All in favor of rebuilding and reinforcing with sorcery?”
Steam, Selene, and Lilith raised their hands.
“I’d like to suggest a more direct way of dealing with the problem.”
Lilith nodded.
“We’re listening, Weapon.”
“I want to take an army, track down Muan and his berserkers, and kill them all.”
Steam looked confused.
“You want to track down a major demon and the entire berserker order and wipe them out? Why on earth do you want to do that?”
“If we kill Muan with his army, berserker demons are no longer a threat. Period. Muan consolidated all of Nightmare’s old berserkers into a single order. We know he’s in the area. Why not wipe them out all at once? We may never get a chance like this again.”
Selene cut in.
“I know I’m only in charge of defense, but do we actually have the forces to do something like this? Without risking the entire city?”
Weapon ignored Selene and looked at Lilith.
“It’s a good idea. Take it to Leech.”
“Answer Selene’s question.”
“I would need about three-fourths of our forces.”
Steam laughed.
“You’ve gone insane, Weapon. If the angels or demons attack while you have three-fourths of our army out there after Muan, we’re done. That’s the end of our entire race. Why risk that?”
Lilith looked at the crumpled up letter again.
“We’re done for today. I’ll take both proposals to Leech.”
Steam, Selene, and Weapon got up to leave.
“Stick around for a few minutes, Weapon.”
Steam and Selene looked annoyed that they were being excluded, but they left.
“What’s this really about? You don’t normally make suggestions that are tactically ridiculous. What aren’t you telling me?”
Weapon immediately turned defensive.
“So you don’t want to take down Muan when we have the perfect chance? I thought you’d realized that the old alliances are dead, Lilith. We aren’t their friends anymore. They want to kill us. All of us. I’m just looking out for our interests.”
“Steam was right. It’s an insane risk to take three-fourths of our army beyond the protections Steam and Selene have set up for us here in Necropolis. Why do this?”
Weapon thought for a moment.
“Would you trust Muan alone in a room with your daughter?”
Lilith didn’t hesitate.
“Of course not. He’d kill her. I know he isn’t our friend anymore. What does that have to do with…”
“He killed my half-sister.”
Muan killed your half-sister?”
Weapon nodded.
“Her name was Nissa. She was a middle demon in charge of the berserkers. Muan killed her to become a major demon after Adrenaline died.”
“So that’s where you got your daughter’s name. Weapon we can’t risk our entire race on a personal vendetta like this.”
“Then I’ll deal with it myself. I’ll take Nissa with me.”
“Nissa’s preparing for the hunt. Don’t take that away from her.”
“I can’t let it go anymore, Lilith. I need to take the little pygmy demon out for good.”
“I’ll talk to Leech. Promise me you won’t do anything until after he thinks about it.”
Weapon got up to leave but he nodded before he turned and left.


As Shade entered his house, he heard three loud barks and his three-headed dog, Cerberus, lunged at him. Shade laughed as the dog tried to lick his face.
“I brought something home for you, buddy. Are you hungry?”
Cerberus wagged his tail and barked an affirmative response. Share untied the top of the bag and let the remains of the demons they had killed earlier fall on the floor. Cerberus was munching happily on the demon limbs within seconds. Two of his heads fought over the same piece until Shade pulled it from both of them.
“No fighting.”
The two heads found new pieces to munch on and Shade threw the piece back on the floor. He started sharpening his swords when he heard a knock at the door. Cerberus looked up briefly, but went back to eating. Shade set his weapons down and answered the door.
“Lucia… I’m fine. Go home.”
“Not why I’m here, numb nuts. I wanted to talk about the hunt and you’re my little brother so just sit down and listen.”
“We’re not related.”
“I’ll burn your house down. I swear, Shade. You can pout all you want but you’re my little brother. Leech and Lilith raised both of us.”
“My father’s a psycho killer… my grandfather’s a psycho killer… my great-grandfather…”
“Sit down and shut up for a while.”
Shade looked like he was going to protest, but Lucia summoned fire in both of her hands and made her way towards the nearest wall. Shade grinned.
“Fine. I’ll go back to sharpening my weapons and you can lecture at me about the hunt. Go for it. I’ll even pretend to listen.”
“Why don’t you actually listen? I’m trying to help you.”
“And I’ve told you my entire life that I don’t need your help. I’m not some abandoned puppy that you need to take care of. I can do just fine on my own.”
“Reaper’s helping his brothers prepare right now. I know for a fact. So if you and Nissa don’t want my help…”
“How’d you know I’m going to partner up with Nissa?”
“You’d be an idiot not to. Are you an idiot, Shade?”
“Directly answering a question. That’s a new one for you.”
“Look… if it’ll give me an edge over Fade and Backlash, I’m all ears. Go for it. Tell me everything you can without getting in trouble.”
“If you keep your mouth shut, I won’t get in trouble no matter what I tell you. You’ll find all of this out tomorrow morning anyways. You can clue Nissa in, too. Just make sure you don’t get caught. I’ll deny that I told you anything. Reaper will vouch for me that I was over at his house all night if you try to get me in trouble.”
“We sort of… have a bet. He’s put twenty-five coins on Fade and Backlash. I’m putting my twenty-five on you and Nissa.”
“I’m gonna lose on purpose now.”
“I should just go over to Nissa’s place and talk to her.”
Shade laughed.
“I’m kidding. Don’t worry. Your money’s safe and you made a smart bet. Just start at the beginning. I’m not going to rat you out.”
“Alright. Well you know that Dad figured out how to steal angel and demon powers, right? He learned it from watching…”
Lucia almost said “Shadow,” but she caught herself.
“…anyways… Weapon and Steam were able to work with some blueprints that Dad drew up to make nephilim gloves. Once you kill an angel or a demon, you can use the gloves to steal their powers. You’ll get your pair of nephilim gloves tomorrow at the hunt. The few that make minor nephilim from this batch get to keep their gloves. Everyone else hands them back in until the next hunt.”
“I already knew most of that through rumors. What else can you tell me?”
“Every kill is worth a point. The most points wins. You bring back angel wings and demon heads…”
“I know all of that, too. It’s the same thing with the contracts Nissa and I hunt down.”
“Right, but each year Dad or the council picks a certain rule to tweak. This year, there’s a bonus for killing berserker demons. I just found out about it. They’re worth three points each.”
Shade immediately thought of his mother. Sarah visited on rare occasions when she was taking a break from searching for Shadow. The last time she visited, she had given him some small bags of fine powders and told him all about her training as a berserker.
“Would you try to cash in on the bonus? I know you did during your hunt.”
“That was very different. We got a bonus for bringing in angels’ weapons. It wasn’t any extra work really. Reaper and I just killed off a ton of angels.”
“But it’s how you won and that’s when you got your title. Lucia Lightbringer. Oh and by the way… I hope you know that adding a title to your name is really lame.”
“It runs in the family. Dad ran around telling everyone he was Leech the Angel Slayer for years. That was before he became King Leech.”
“So should we go after berserkers or not?”
“Don’t try it. The nephilim stupid enough to take on berserkers are going to get themselves killed. I overheard Mom say that Muan’s entire army is in the area. Just go for sheer numbers of weaker angels and demons. Play to your strengths. I know you and Nissa have a lot of experience bringing in demon heads for contracts and the occasional set of angel’s wings.”
Shade resolved then to hunt berserkers. The challenge excited him and he knew Nissa would feel the same way. He also had a pretty solid feeling that Fade and Backlash would be going straight for the berserkers as well.
“Just in case we run into a berserker, you kill them by taking off their heads, right?”
“That’s right but…”
Shade smiled innocently at Lucia.
“No, Shade. Don’t go after the berserkers.”
“I’m sorry. I’ll have to talk it over with Nissa. We can’t involve you in our hunt strategies. Thank you for the information, though. We’ll make sure you win your bet with your asshole boyfriend.”
“No berserkers, Shade. Promise me.”
“It’s getting late and I need to get some sleep. Big day tomorrow. Good night, Lucia.”
“If you die tomorrow hunting berserkers, I’ll bring you back to life long enough to kill you myself.”
Lucia stood up and left. Shade grinned as he made his way over to his bed. He stepped over Cerberus, who was already snoring loudly, hopped into bed, and fell asleep.


Shade met Nissa and they made their way to the front of the crowd that was waiting to hear King Leech’s opening speech before the hunt. Nissa saw that Shade had brought Cerberus. She leaned down and scratched the ears behind one of his heads. The other two heads got jealous and they growled at her until she scratched their ears as well.
“You think bringing Carebear was a good idea?”
“Don’t call him Carebear. It hurts his ego.”
Nissa raised her eyebrows, still waiting for an answer. Shade looked around and made sure no one was listening to their conversation.
“Yes. We need him if we’re going to track down the berserkers.”
“Your sister visited me last night. She doesn’t think we should go after the berserkers. She wanted me to promise her that we wouldn’t.”
“And I told her thanks for the info, but we can plan out our strategy on our own.”
Shade grinned.
“That’s why I love you, Nissa.”
Nissa blushed and then bent down to pet Cerberus so Shade wouldn’t see her reaction. She knew he didn’t mean it like she wanted him to, but the words still caught her off guard. Shade removed a small bag from his pocket and showed it to Nissa.
“It’s the chemicals that the berserker demons snort. My mom gave it to me the last time she visited. I figure we can have Cerberus smell it and lead us right to the berserkers. That’s where we cash in. Three points per berserker kill.”
“Sounds like a solid plan. Have you ever killed a berserker before?”
“No. We’ll be fine though. Just remember to take off their heads. That’s the only way to kill them.”
“That’s ideally how we kill everything.”
“So you’re in? Go for the berserkers?”
“Yup. Let’s do it.”
The gathered nephilim fell silent as Leech walked through the crowd and then turned to face them.
“Welcome, new recruits. Normally I love giving long speeches at the beginning of the hunt, but I don’t have time for that this year. You’ll pair off and be ranked according to the angels’ wings and demon heads you bring back. One point for a pair of angel wings and one point for a demon head. This year, we’re adding in an extra bounty on berserker demons. Each berserker demon head is worth three points. If any of you find the major demon Muan, you are to report it immediately. Do not attempt to fight him. You will lose.”
Steam cleared his throat to get Leech’s attention. Leech looked over at him and nodded.
“My daughter will explain everything else. Happy hunting to all of you!”
The nephilim cheered as Leech walked over to Steam and the two of them left. Lucia held up her hands.
“Minor nephlim and middle nephilim will be patrolling the area. You can summon us at any time with your gloves. Each nephilim will get a pair of gloves that can steal powers from dead angels and demons. If you get enough points to become a minor nephilim, you can keep your gloves. They’re also how you summon us if you need help. Clap three times and the nearest minor or middle nephilim will be there in seconds to help you. The top three teams will become minor nephilim, so there are six total openings. Everyone else will turn in their gloves at the end of the hunt and can try again next year.”
Lucia looked around and saw that the nephilim gloves had been handed out.
“I like to have some fun with the start of the hunt… so here’s what we’re going to do. You can all start when I burst into flames.”
Shade rolled his eyes.
“She’s such a show off.”
“3… 2… 1…”
Lucia’s entire body was engulfed in white flames and the nephilim all rushed off beyond the walls of Necropolis. Shade let Cerberus sniff the berserker chemicals.
“Go find it!”
Cerberus sniffed at the air and ran off beyond the walls. Shade and Nissa followed at a jog. It wasn’t long before the two crossed paths with an angel.
“So the nephilim are out in the open today? Good. We have an army in the area. I’ll go get them after I kill the two of you.”
Shade whistled for Cerberus to come back and then charged the angel. The angel swung at Shade and Shade ducked under the blow. He spun and struck the angel’s side with both of his blades. Instead of digging into the angel’s flesh, he felt his blades bounce off of something hard. Shade rolled and backed away a few steps.
“He has some kind of rock defense magic.”
Nissa nodded and started searching her trench coat. The angel lunged at Shade with a spear and Shade jumped out of the way.
“Have anything?”
“Yes… I just need to find it.”
Shade chopped at the angel’s head with his blade. The sword stuck in the angel’s head and he laughed before he removed it.
“Oh here it is.”
Nissa pulled a small bomb from her trench coat and tossed it at the angel. It stuck to his left hand, beeped three times, and then blew the angel into hundreds of tiny, rocklike pieces. Shade retrieved his blade and used it to cut off the angel’s wings before sheathing both of his swords. Nissa touched the pile of rocks with her nephilim gloves and Shade bent down to do the same.
“Rock defense. I guess it’s a pretty cool power. This guy was pretty lame overall, though.”
“You’re just saying that, because I killed him.”
“Your dad would have killed him a lot faster. Why can’t you fit a rocket launcher in your trench coat?”
“Not really sure. No matter how many times we’ve tried to duplicate Dad’s trench coat, we can’t get it exactly the same. Mine holds a lot less. Still more effective than you, though.”
Shade flipped Nissa off and she stuck her tongue out at him before Shade had Cerberus sniff the berserker chemicals again and they were back on the hunt.