Hell's Heroes


By Darren Shan

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Beranabus and Dervish are gone. Bec has formed an unholy alliance with Lord Loss. Kernel is blind, held on Earth against his will. Grubbs is mad with grief and spinning out of control. The demons are crossing. The Disciples are falling. The Shadow is waiting. Welcome to the end. The tenth and final novel in the chilling Demonata series by Darren Shan, author of the New York Times bestselling Cirque Du Freak series, will bring everything to a terrifying, cataclysmic conclusion.



Copyright © 2009 by Darren Shan

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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First eBook Edition: May 2010

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

ISBN: 978-0-316-12633-5

Also in

Lord Loss (Book 1)

Demon Thief (Book 2)

Slawter (Book 3)

Bec (Book 4)

Blood Beast (Book 5)

Demon Apocalypse (Book 6)

Death's Shadow (Book 7)

Wolf Island (Book 8)

Dark Calling (Book 9)


I miss Cal," Dervish says. "We fought a lot when we were young, like all brothers, but we were always there for one another."

We're lying in the mouth of a cave, admiring the desolate desert view, sheltered from the fierce afternoon sun.

"It's funny," Dervish chuckles. "I thought I'd be the first to go. The life I chose, the risks I took… I was sure I'd die young and nastily. I pictured Cal living to be eighty or ninety. Strange how things work out, isn't it?"

I stare at the hole in the left side of Dervish's chest. Blood is seeping from it and I can see bone inside. "Yeah," I grunt. "Hilarious."

Dervish shifts and grimaces. He's in a lot of pain, but he won't have to suffer much longer. My uncle was in bad shape before we took on an army of demons. Now, having come through hell, he doesn't have a prayer. He's finished. We both know it. That's why we came up here from the underground cave, so he could die in the open, breathing fresh air.

"I remember one time," Dervish continues, "not long after Cal married your mum. We had a huge fight. He wanted me to quit being a Disciple, marry and have kids, lead a normal life. He thought I was crazy to do what I did."

"He wasn't wrong," I snort.

"You love it really," Dervish grins. Blood trickles down his chin.

"Save your breath," I tell him, trying not to shudder.

"What for? I won't need it where I'm going." He raises an eyebrow. "You don't think I can survive, do you?"

"Of course not. I'm just sick of listening to you whine."

Dervish laughs softly. The laugh turns into a blood-drenched cough. I hold him as he shakes and moans, spewing up blood and phlegm. When the fit passes, he asks me to move him out of the cave. "I don't think I need worry about sunburn," he murmurs.

I pick up my dying uncle and carry him outside. He doesn't weigh much. Thin and drawn, overstretched by the world. He rests his head on my chest, like a baby cuddling up to its mother. I prop him against a large rock, then settle beside him. His eyes stay closed. He's dozed off. I study him sadly, memorizing every line of his creased face, brushing the wilting spikes of hair back from his forehead, remembering all the nights he comforted me when I'd had a nightmare.

With a jolt he wakes and looks around, alarmed. When he sees me, and the hole in his chest, he relaxes. "Oh, it was only a dream. I thought we were in trouble."

"Nothing can trouble us here."

Dervish smiles at me lopsidedly. "I loved having you live with me. You were like my son. Billy was too, but I never got to spend the sort of time with him that I did with you."

"If you were my real dad, I'd have asked to be put into foster care."

Dervish's smile widens. "That's what I like to hear. You're a true Grady. We don't do sympathetic."

His eyes wander and he sighs. "I hope I see Cal again. Billy and Meera. Even Beranabus. So many who've gone before me. Do you think there's an afterlife, Grubbs? Will I be reborn? Or is there just… nothing?"

"There has to be something," I mutter. "Why would the universe give us souls if not? It'd be pointless."

Dervish nods slowly, then frowns at something behind me. "What's that?" he wheezes.

My head shoots around and I scan the surrounding area for danger. But I can't see anything except dry earth and rocks. "There's nothing—" I begin, then stop. Dervish's eyes have glazed over. He's not breathing. His face is calm.

I tremble and reach out to close his eyelids, blinking back tears. My fingers are just a few inches from his eyes when… snap! Dervish's teeth clamp together and he bites the tip of my index finger.

"Hellfire!" I roar, toppling backwards, heart racing.

"Your face," Dervish snickers—always the bloody joker!

"Try it again," I snarl. "Next time I'll dig a hole and bury you alive."

"Don't be so sensitive," Dervish coos, still giggling. He runs an eye over my unnatural muscles, the tufts of red hair sprouting from my skin, my wolfish features, yellow eyes, jagged claws, and blood-spattered fangs. "You're a real mess."

"With a role model like you, I never had a hope," I sniff.

"Poor Grubbs." Dervish makes goo-goo eyes at me. "All you ever wanted was for someone to show you some love."

"Get stuffed."

We both laugh.

"I'm going to miss you," Dervish sighs.

"Yeah," I mutter. "I'll… y'know… you too."

"Part of me wishes I could hang on and see how it all turns out. But then I think about the odds…" He shakes his head.

"Don't worry," I say grandly. "I'll take care of the Demonata. The Shadow too. I've seen enough movies to know how these things end. We'll all be high-fiving each other and celebrating a glorious victory by this time next month. But you won't see any of it. Because you'll be dead."

Dervish scowls. "You really know how to comfort a dying man."

We're silent awhile. The flow of blood has slowed, but I don't kid myself—it's only because he doesn't have much left. There's no getting better, not this time. Dervish has cheated death for the last few months, but he played his last card when we faced the demon hordes.

"What's going to become of you, Grubbs?" he asks. "This new look… the way you kill so freely…"

"I'll be fine." I poke the ground with my bare, hairy toes.

"No," he says. "You've changed, and not just on the outside." He lays a weak, bloodstained hand on mine. "Don't become a monster. Remember who you are, the people who love you, why you fight. Beranabus acted inhumanly, but he was never fully human to begin with. You were. You are. Don't lose track of that."

"Is this really how you want to go?" I squint. "Lecturing me like some second-rate TV psychiatrist?"

"I'm serious," he growls.

"Don't be stupid," I smile. "It's far too late for that."

Dervish rolls his eyes, then shrugs. "Don't say I didn't warn you."

"I won't."

Dervish shivers and glares at the sun. "It's so cold. Why's there no warmth in that thing?"

"Eclipse." It's the first thing that pops into my head. Dervish cocks an eyebrow but otherwise ignores the inanity.

"I wish we could have had more leisure time," he says. "Apart from the trip to Slawter, I never took you on any vacations."

"If Slawter was your idea of a vacation, that was probably a good thing."

"Orlando," Dervish nods. "That's where we should have gone. Roller coasters. You, Billy, and me. We'd have had so much fun."

"We were never meant for a life like that," I mumble. "I used to think I could choose it, just turn my back on magic and demons. But I've been locked into this course since birth, just like you. Bec, Beranabus—all of us—we never really had a choice. I hate the unfairness of fate, but…"

I pause. Dervish's head has slumped. I tilt his head back, keeping my fingers clear of his mouth, expecting him to bite again. But this time it isn't a joke. His eyes are closed. The last breath has slipped from his semi-parted lips. His heart has stopped beating.

"Guess the last laugh's on you, old-timer," I croak, letting his head rest on my shoulder and patting him clumsily.

Rising, I gently lay him back against the rock, then pad away and choose a spot in the shade. As I bend, I get the feeling that Dervish is sneaking up on me. I turn quickly, lips lifting into a smile, but he hasn't moved. He never will again.

Sighing emptily, I clench my fingers tightly, then drive them into the dry, hard-packed soil, scooping out the first fistful of my dead uncle's grave.


CREEPING through a factory, in pursuit of a snake demon twenty-five feet long. I wouldn't have thought a beast that size could hide easily, but I've been searching for several minutes without success. I should be out on the streets, battling the masses, but this demon killed a Disciple. She was an elderly, frail lady, but she could swing a spike-headed mace more effectively than anyone I've ever met. I never asked her name, but I liked her. I'm going to make her killer pay.

I slide around a corner, checking the pipes overhead. I feel edgy, which is odd. I haven't felt anything but cold, detached hatred recently. I guess the tension of the moment has got to me. I'm sure the demon won't prove to be a serious threat—I'm more than a match for any of the familiars who cross through windows—but it's fun to pretend I'm in danger. I'd almost forgotten what fear was like.

A scraping noise behind me. I whirl, a ball of magical energy crackling at my fingertips. But it's only Moe. He followed me into the building, even though I told him to stay outside. Moe's one of three werewolves who've been with me since Wolf Island. Werewolves don't need names, but after a few weeks with the trio, I felt like I should call them something. So I christened them Curly, Larry, and Moe, after the Three Stooges. I never had much time for the Stooges, but Dervish loved them, so I named the werewolves in his memory.

I growl at Moe to let him know I'm displeased. He makes a soft whining noise, but he can tell I'm not that bothered. Moe takes his bodyguard duties seriously. He never likes to be too far from me. I think he feels a bit lost when I'm not there for him to protect.

Letting Moe fall into place behind me, I push farther into the factory, past a long conveyor belt. Workers were sitting in the chairs alongside it just an hour ago. It's been nearly a month since Dervish died in the desert. There have been dozens of crossings since then. Hundreds of thousands of humans have been killed. People are terrified and desperate, but life goes on. A few of us know the cause is hopeless, but we haven't shared the bad news. As far as the general population is concerned, we can beat these demonic invaders. So, as the body count mounts, folk carry on normally, manning their posts even in the face of an impending crossing, slipping away to safety at the last moment, returning as soon as the window closes.

Moe growls and darts to a nearby locker. I start to follow, assuming it's the demon, but when he rips the locker door off and tears open a lunchbox, I realize he's found a sandwich.

"Idiot," I grunt, turning back to the conveyor belt.

Fangs sink into my thigh. Yelling, I fall and the snake drags me into the gloom beneath the belt, where it's been lying in wait. I strike at its eyes, but it doesn't have any. Gripping me tightly, it drives its fangs farther into my flesh, crushing the bones in my leg.

I once read a survival pamphlet that said if a giant snake ever got hold of you, you should lie still, so it thinks you are dead. Then, as it swallows your legs, you free your knife (too bad if you don't have one) and hold it by your side. As the snake devours your thighs and sets to work on your stomach, you drive the tip of the knife up through the roof of its mouth and deep into its brain. That always grossed out girls when I told them!

I'm sure it's sound advice, but I don't have time to test it. Unlike most large snakes, this demon's poisonous and I can feel its venom coursing through my veins. I don't have the luxury of playing possum. Besides, that's not my style.

Grunting against the pain, I grab the demon's fangs and snap them off. The beast chokes and releases me, spewing poisonous pink blood. I drive one of the broken fangs into the side of its head. It squeals like a baby and thrashes across the floor. I hang on, riding it bronco-style, stabbing at it again and again. More blood froths from the wounds, soaking my face and chest.

As the snake slams against the conveyor belt, knocking it over, I thrust my head in its mouth and roar down its throat. A ball of magic bursts from my lips and rips through the demon's body. It explodes into tattered, slimy shreds. I pick some of the foul scraps from between my teeth, then focus magic into my leg and repair the damage. Getting to my feet, I look for Moe. He's still munching the sandwich.

"Great help you were," I snarl, using more magic to clear my veins of poison.

Moe looks at me guiltily, then holds out the last piece of sandwich. I turn my nose up at it and hobble for the doorway, eager to squeeze in more killing before the window between universes shuts and robs me of my demonic punching bags.

The streets are awash with demons, the usual assortment of vile concoctions, many cobbled together from bodies resembling those of animals, fish, and birds. Demons are an unimaginative lot. Most can use magic to mold their forms, but rather than give themselves original, amazing bodies, they copy ours.

Dozens of werewolves are fighting the demons. I had them imported from Wolf Island, to replace those of my original pack. Most of the new specimens aren't as sturdy, fast, or smart as those I first chose, but they get the job done. Curly's in the middle of them, acting as pack leader in my absence. She's a fierce creature, taller than me, though not as broad. Sharp too. She can always spot if one of the werewolves disobeys orders and attacks a human instead of a demon. She pounces on the offending party in an instant and slits the beast's throat without blinking. No second chances with Curly.

Soldiers and freshly blooded mages support the werewolves. The soldiers don't do much damage—you can only kill a demon with magic—but the mages are doing a pretty good job. They're learning quickly. Not up to the level of the Disciples, but getting there fast.

I move among the apprentices, taking the place of the mace-wielding old lady. There aren't many Disciples left, so they're spread thinly across the world, one or two per group of mages. I see the men and women around me flinch as I pass. They know who I am. They've seen me kill more demons than anybody else. They know they're safe when I'm around. But I'm a fearsome sight, and most find it hard to suppress a shudder when they find themselves beside me.

I could change back if I wished, resume my human form. But I prefer it this way. It's easier to lead people to their death if you're not truly one of them.

A girl, no more than twelve or thirteen, is playing with a wooden yo-yo. As a demon comes within range, she snaps the yo-yo at it. The wood splinters and the shards puncture the demon's eyes. She replaces it with another yo-yo, this time a plastic one.

"Nice work," I grunt.

She looks up at me and fakes a yawn. "Whatever."

Magic isn't a natural part of our universe. But some humans—mages—are born with the ability to tap into it. When a demon opens a window from its universe to ours, magical energy spills through. If you're a mage, you're in business.

In the past, very few mages got to unleash their power. Windows weren't opened often. It was hard for the Disciples to find new recruits. Now that demons have gone into overdrive, and two or three windows open every day, it's simple. When a window is forming, we arrange for crowds of people to wait close by, then test them for magical prowess. Those who show promise are thrown into the fray after a quick burst of training, to perish or triumph.

I see a window in the near distance. A child, even younger than the girl with the yo-yo, stands to one side. A man and woman are behind her. I guess they're using the girl. She probably had no choice in this. But, innocent or not, the Demonata are working through her, so she has to die.

As I push through the battling demons, werewolves, and humans, I marvel at the greed of mankind. I should be accustomed to it, but I'm still astonished every time it happens. Most mages use their powers for good, especially now that people can clearly see the full, destructive evil of the Demonata.

But there are others who side with the demons. They seek power, wealth, a longer life. They scent an opportunity to get ahead and sell off their souls to the highest bidder without a second thought. It never seems to occur to them that there will be no place in a demon-run world for any humans, even the most evil. Demons don't do coalitions.

The woman behind the girl spots me. She taps the girl's shoulder and mutters in her ear. The three of them edge closer to the window. Uh-uh! Can't have them slipping away early. That wouldn't be fair. I bark a phrase of magic and erect an invisible barrier between the trio and the window. Panic shoots across the faces of the adults. The girl simply looks confused.

The man hurls himself at the barrier, trying to smash it with his shoulder. The woman curses and draws a gun. As she trains it on me, I turn it into a posy of flowers. She stares at the petals, sadness filling her eyes as she realizes this will serve as her death wreath. Then Moe barrels onto the scene and knocks her to the ground. Her screams excite the wolf in me and I fall on the man, snarling. He just has time to beg for mercy. Then my teeth are around his throat and the sweet taste of human flesh fills my mouth.

I gulp the man's blood, then toss his carcass aside and loom over the girl. She gazes up at me, that confused look still crinkling her features. She's even younger than I thought, maybe seven or eight. She's clutching a small teddy bear in one hand.

"Are you the boogey man?" she whispers, eyes round.

"Yes," I croak, then take hold of her head with my huge, scarred, blood-soaked hands and crush.

Thoughts of Juni Swan flicker through my mind as the girl shakes and drops the teddy bear. Juni was Lord Loss's assistant. She could catch glimpses of the future. We fought on Wolf Island. She had me beaten, but then let me go. Because, in a vision, she saw me destroying the world.

I've tried to dismiss Juni's prophecy, but I'm sure it's true. I often think that I should throw myself off a cliff or let the demons kill me. The world would be a safer place without me. But I can't do it. Life's too sweet. So I lie to myself and cling to false hope that she was wrong, even though I know it's selfish madness.

As the girl goes still, I set her down and wonder if I'll crush the world as easily as her head.

The window flashes out of existence, stranding the demons. With screams of despair, they battle furiously, eager to kill as many humans as they can before this universe rids itself of their ugly stain. But they're already weakening, robbed of the magic they need to survive.

I feel my strength fading too. I'm a magician, so I can operate in the absence of a window. But I'm nowhere near as powerful as I am when the air's thick with the delirious energy of the Demonata.

It doesn't matter. I'm not essential in this final stage. Nor are the mages. This is where the werewolves and soldiers come into their own. They rip apart the weakened demons with fangs, claws, bullets, and machetes. The demons don't die, but they no longer have the power to put themselves back together, so they can only lie there in pieces and wait to dissolve as magic drains from the air.

Moe cocks a deformed eyebrow at me and grunts questioningly.

"Go on," I sigh, wincing at the pain in my leg. That's the downside of using magic to heal a wound. It's fine while there's magical energy in the air, but once that passes, pain kicks in with a vengeance.

As Moe joins the bloodletting, a pale, thin, icy-looking woman approaches me. It's Prae Athim, head of the Lambs, a group that once acted as executioners of Grady children who'd turned into werewolves. Now they supply me with fresh recruits from Wolf Island.

"That looks nasty," Prae says, nodding at my leg. It's purple, and pus seeps from the cuts that have reopened.

"I'll be fine," I mutter. "I got rid of all the poison before the window closed."

"Does it hurt?" she asks.

"Yes. But it won't kill me."

"Still, you should have it looked at."

I grin. Prae loves to mother her wolfen wards, even a semi-werewolf like me. She's cold with humans but has a soft spot for those who've turned into savage, mindless killing machines.

"Will you look after the others?" I ask.

"Of course," she snaps. "Don't I always?"

Prae can't directly control the werewolves—only I can do that—but she's had years of experience and commands a team of specialists. When I'm tired or don't have the time to round up the pack and settle them down, she moves in with her troops. They use electric prods, nets, and shackles where necessary, though having feasted on so many demons, most of the werewolves are happy to do as ordered.

"Will I see you later?" I ask. After a battle, Prae often spends the night with me, looking ahead to the next assault, discussing tactics.

"No," she says. "We're accepting a new shipment from the island. I want to make sure the transfer goes smoothly and get them quartered close to the others."

"Do you want my help?"

She shakes her head. "I'll make them comfortable first. You can give them your pep talk in the morning. I'm sure they'll be impressed."

Prae leaves and I chuckle softly. I've grown fond of her in recent weeks. She reminds me of Dervish. He could be a distant customer too, when he needed to be.


On Sale
May 11, 2010
Page Count
224 pages

Darren Shan

About the Author

Darren Shan is the bestselling author of the young adult series Cirque Du Freak, The Demonata, and the Saga of Larten Crepsley series, as well as the stand-alone book The Thin Executioner. His books have sold over 25 million copies worldwide. Shan divides his time between his homes in Ireland and London.

Learn more about this author