It’s been ten years since the war between Heaven and Hell began, a war that started an era of suffering and unrelenting horrors. The humans that now live under demonic rule and the few angels that survived face a world that had never seen the light of day before.
This new world is filled with demons, progeny and other creatures that previously called Hell their one and only home. Among these creatures are cambions, the offspring of an unholy union between a demon and a human.
Shandra, one of the two main protagonists in Archangel is one of these creatures. In today’s behind the scenes blog, get to know this witty, determined half-demon some more.
There isn’t a lot of historical lore written about cambions. The creatures are somewhat obscure, especially in societies that were created on the foundation of Judaeo-Christian beliefs. That being said, the 1825 edition of the Dictionnaire Infernal had an entry for cambions, describing them as children of demons, the union between an incubus and a succubus.
The Malleus Maleficarum, also known as the Hammer of Witches, is one of the most well-known books written about demonology. It has a complex way for incubus and succubus to create cambions. Click here to learn more about that, because I’ve tried about six different ways of rewording it in a way that isn’t weird.
In the Shadow’s Advent series, I introduced cambions in simpler, if not more vile way. In Shandra’s case, her human mother was raped by a demon, an act that actually created twins.
The gestation period for cambions is short, just a matter of days if not less. Shandra’s mother was left, crippled, to wait that time out among the carnage that the demons left in their wake. It was then that a troupe of angels, led by Raphael, came around.
Being Heaven’s greatest healer, Raphael attempted to purify the children and rid them of their demonic corruption. He was successful on the first but, with his powers limited by the black clouds, he could not purify the second child.
“The second child, however, was different. As she felt it come out of her, there was a sudden sense of alarm. She heard one of the angels shout ‘Monster!’ as he withdrew his hand from her. The now familiar sound of a sword being drawn rang in her ears. The other angels, just as panicked, seemed to jump away, not necessarily from the woman, but from something else. And, as the warming touch of the angels disappeared, the woman felt a flash of tremendous pain as every cut, bruise and tear ignited in agony. It was only for a brief second, however, and it was the last thing she ever felt.”
Loss and pain are an everyday thing in the world under the black clouds, but Shandra’s entire life is defined by it, right from the very beginning. Despite the best efforts of Raphael and his angels, Shandra was born a cambion. The strain of a demonic birth killed her mother.
I didn’t want Shandra to be just another monster, though. More than any other character, I wanted her to be relatable to anyone who has ever suffered a loss or felt guilty for something that wasn’t truly in their control. So, rather than let her fend for herself and embrace the demonic side of her heritage, Raphael left one of his angels, Hadriel, to raise the twin girls.
Cambions mature faster than humans, though. When we meet Shandra and her sister Elena, Shandra looks like an adult woman while Elena is still a seven-year-old girl. Along with more rapid physical development, Shandra had to mature faster than a human would, too.
Just a few years into their lives together, Hadriel was murdered by a witch and her familiar. Angels are particularly vulnerable to the infernal magic that witches can conjure, but cambions are hardly affected. For that reason, at such a young age, Shandra was able to avenge her surrogate father.
From then on, it was up to her to look after her human sister. And now she has to look after Uriel, too.
Where Uriel is virtuous, optimistic and steadfast in his beliefs, Shandra was raised in a literal Hell on Earth. She knows the tragic reality that Uriel is only starting to understand.
“Don’t.” The cambion’s gaze was cold as ice and left no room for argument.
“You do not understand how difficult it is for me to stand by and do nothing,” Uriel rebutted.
In the alley, the archangel saw a man curled up on the ground as five other figures loomed over him. They were kicking the man and beating him with makeshift weapons. One assailant, a woman who could not have been more than two decades old, brought her foot down on the man’s broken face.
“That is exactly what you are going to do,” Shandra whispered harshly, her gaze now holding his own. “How many times do I have to tell you this? What the fuck do you think will happen? You just walk over there and cut them all down with your fire sword? Use a little angel magic to make their heads explode? Think, you moron. Botis doesn’t know we’re here. His demons have no idea we have an archangel in the city. It’s our only advantage over him and you can’t afford to throw it away over the life of one man.”
Shandra’s life is truly defined by her pain and struggles, far more than the red eyes and demonic blood of her ancestry. But these experiences have shaped her, made her stronger, and will help both her and Uriel in their quest to bring light to the world once again.
What that light looks like, though, Shandra doesn’t know. Her whole life, she has only known darkness. But nothing will stop the cambion from changing that.
Join Shandra and Uriel as they renew the fight against the darkness in Archangel, Book One of Shadow’s Advent. Click here to buy the book, available in paperback and e-book!