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After Kael became more active to snag a couple bites of food, Eve decided to poke her head out. The animal curiously eyed the world around them. Her surroundings had changed a great deal since she left her tank. But as far as the man who held her could tell; she didn’t seem to mind. His guess was that between himself and Eris, the little ball python was cared for enough to be at ease. And from the way that beady black gaze followed his nigiri, she was obviously comfortable enough to try and beg food off of him. It was probably too late to demand any sort of respect, so he sighed and quietly tried to reason with her. [+forestgreen “No, you can’t have fish.”] The man shook his head, near iridescent hair glinting in the light as he did. [+forestgreen “No, not even a little bit.”] His voice remained a whisper, not wanting to be caught arguing with a juvenile. [+forestgreen “[i I] am not a ball python, I get to eat what I want... Besides, you just ate.”] He recalled feeding her a day or two ago back at the apartment. And that seemed to be the end of it. Well, for the most part. There was a bit of a tantrum being had as Eve wriggled her way up the side of his head. She was persistently nosing her way between his glasses and face, trying to remove them as a sign of protest. Sighing again, he removed them himself. It would be less of a pain than continually trying to fix them. At least until the snake decided she was done. Until then he would have a seat. Though, it was tempting to pawn her off on Eris. There was no way Eve would act up on the maenad like she was doing to him.
Sitting back, the demon closed his eyes. He wasn’t really tired per se, aside from mental exhaustion; this was just comfortable. However, in his stillness he couldn’t really help but overhear Eris’ and Dahlia’s conversation. Their concerns seemed to be on their friends back in the states. His eyes remained closed as he wondered where their conversation would lead. Really, Kael found it silly. They should be more worried about themselves. They were the ones in danger, but he supposed that was the demon in him.
To hear that Eris didn’t think it would do any good was disheartening, but to be honest Dahlia was half expecting that. All this magic and supernatural nonsense made everything confusing. Not to mention life had gotten a lot more stressful ever since they got mixed up in all this. What was one more thing to add to the pile? But as all this sort of swirled around her, the welcome distraction of food came into the picture. She was as gung-ho as the others to dig in. It really had been forever since they had good sushi. Asian cuisine was trendy in New York right now, so that meant it was expensive and they only got it as a treat. So, she savored it.
When the pair had had their fill, Eris turned to Dahlia. It looked as though she had something on her mind, but nothing came out. The short woman smiled at her all the same. The expression acting as a warm, encouraging gesture, and eventually she spoke, though it was not on a pleasant topic. [+mediumvioletred “Me too.”] She wanted to know how the others were getting along and to be able to let them know that they were okay. Or at the very least that they should stay out of it, Ross especially. He was nearly as nosy as Eris sometimes. [+mediumvioletred “My grandma is probably freaking out…”] That was a depressing thought. She was the last person Dahlia wanted to worry, but they were probably long passed that. And suddenly her wine-eyed friend’s idea of a drink didn’t sound all that bad.
Then as if this was the anticipated outcome, a member of the staff came around the doorway pushing a bar cart. How he had been able to do so silently with all that glass and metal atop it was a mystery lost on Dahlia. She just kind of blinked at the unexpectedness of it. [+mediumvioletred “Well, I suppose that takes care of that.”] It was better than getting caught snooping around looking for booze, so at least there was that.
Stepping forward to have a better look at what was there, the oracle didn’t know why she was surprised to see a collection of top shelf options and a stock of things to mix them with. Damn rich people… Still, this was for her benefit, so she couldn’t be too mad about it. Picking up a frosty bottle of vodka, the dark-eyed woman looked to her compatriot. [+mediumvioletred “Could you make me one of your lemon drops? You always get them just perfect.”] In all reality, it was probably because Eris knew her tastes and tailored it appropriately, but that was only a testament to her skill as a bartender.
Eris’s thoughts were interrupted as Dahlia came to sit beside her, the comforting warm aura she exuded helped to ease Eris unease. She gave a halfhearted smile towards her friend, as even this close contact showed a new facet to the situation. Eris could [i feel] Dahlia’s aura… was this what caused Gaius’ proverbial wrath to ease that night at the warehouse? Dahlia offered to cut Eris’ hair or braid it, and in response she let out a little laugh.
[#b22222 “Don’t bother… I think even if I cut it, it’s here to stay. Thank you though,”] Eris told her, and simply let her head rest against the chair until food arrived.
Their meal was a dazzling platter of assorted sushi. All of it smelling and looking so delicious that Eris realized how hungry she was. Hoping to improve her own mood, she tried to adopt Dahlia’s optimism and allowed herself to excited over the food.
[#b22222 “Oh wow! It’s been so long since we’ve had good sushi. I wonder if it’s as yummy as it looks…”] Eris reached for a roll drizzled in eel sauce and took a bite, only to grin and nod her head. Even Kael reached in for a bite to eat, and Eris looked over towards him as they ate in silence. She suddenly felt guilty for the burden she had caused him, and the mess they had all found themselves in due to that stupid medallion, and the story Eris had been so adamant they expose. So much for that… how on earth would she tell this story? Dahlia didn’t even have her camera. How did Kael truly feel about this situation? He'd been nothing but kind and had shown more compassion than most people she knew. She was at least glad to see that the sweet Eve was still with them, wrapped around Kael warmly under his shirt, her head laying gently on his shoulder. It brought a fleeting smile to her face.
His phone suddenly went off and Eris arched a brow at him, hoping for an explanation, but he said nothing and put it away. Eris tried not to dwell on it and focused instead on her sushi. She looked over to Dahlia and tried to make conversation about anything other than what happened to them, but there was one thing she knew for certain... she wanted a drink. a Strong one too. [#b22222 “I wonder how everyone back home is doing. Ross is probably freaking out, and I miss Mahlik’s weed…Who wants a drink? I need one after this mess. Gaius’ sister has to have alcohol around here somewhere.”]
[+pink “So what’s the real favor?”] Vanna asked as she and Gaius stepped outside onto the stone balcony that led down to a Venitian-styled garden, with towering spiraled trees, rose like swords from the ground. The garden was dimly lit by the moon and the lights of the house, but it made for a peaceful backdrop, and they were alone. Gaius frowned at nothing in particular, but snatched out a cigarette and snapped his fingers together to produce flame. He inhaled deeply before he finally spoke.
[+gold “Protection, for the women. We’ve found a big problem… have you ever heard of the Malumortis?”]
[+pink “Of course I have. They’re our version of if the KKK, and The Third Riech had a baby, and that baby was raised by all modern terrorist organizations from The Taliban to Westborro Baptist, and all the others in-between… They’re quite ambitious, you have to admire that.”] Gaius frowned at her, but made no comment towards his disapproval.
[+gold “Yeah, well were you aware they’ve been abducting humans under the guise of a Human Trafficking operation? That they intend to overthrow our government and enslave all humans?”]
It was Vanna’s turn to sigh, and she did so dramatically with a large roll of her eyes, and wave of her hands.
[+pink “Would that really be so bad? Truly? Think back to the dark days… you were a [i king], brother!”] She said suddenly turning on him and grabbing the lapels of his very worn old grey coat. He merely blew his cigarette smoke in her face, and she remained undeterred. Her face was actually awash in dreamy nostalgia. She sighed, [+pink “Demons and monsters of all kinds feared you, revered you, respected you! Even the Angels left you with a wide berth. All of Hell could have been yours, why do you want to protect the humans so much?”] Gaius frowned at his sister even as she tried to beg and plead with him. He knew he’d taken a chance coming here, and he wasn’t sure what he was hoping for… but he was also not surprised by the words she spoke.
Gaius took his sister’s hands in his own and placed a gentle kiss to her knuckles. She watched him with concern on her face, and maybe a touch of horror. Gaius simply looked sad.
[+gold “I need to know I can trust you, Vanna. That I can still depend on you as I did in those old days.”] Vanna nodded her head, and reached up to hold his face in her hands and pinned him with a look. That look was one he had seen many a time, one he knew meant she'd keep her word, she'd keep her Vow, and Gaius no longer doubted her loyalty. [+gold “It’s more than just the Malumortis, that up until now haven’t been a threat, but they’re numbers have grown, they’ve gained power, and I think they’re tied to the death of Atlas, if they overthrow the Ministry, there’s no protection for you either… all the Cardinal sins will be rounded up.”]
[+pink “How do you know that?”]
[+gold “Our brother, Greed has teamed up with them, but he’s not pulling the strings someone else is, I just don’t know who. I don't doubt he won't be here soon to try and recruit you. If he gets his hands on either Dahlia or Eris, it's game over."]
[+pink "What is it about those two that makes them so special?"] Vanna dared to ask.
[+gold “I’ve found my Femme Fatal, the short one with the pretty eyes... She’s an oracle, Vanna. The first in millennia… I can’t let her befall some ill fate like so many before her have.”]
Vanna turned away from him to hide the shock on her face and to try and think. Part of her was suddenly insanely jealous of a woman that might dare come between her and her brother. Who was she kidding though? These last two hundred years, Gaius had grown further and further away from her. She was beyond happy to have him here, asking her for favors, and divulging secrets. She knew her brother would not tell her this information lightly, and she was inherently aware of the risk in taking them in and what it meant to know these things. Her life too could now be in danger.
[+pink “What about the other? What is she? She’s is not human at all.”]
[+gold “We discovered she's a Maenad…"]
[+pink "What?"] Even Vanna had believed them to be extinct.
[+gold "I wish that's all she was. She’s the vessel of Chaos, of the Goddess Eris, whom she was named for."]
[+pink "You've got to be fucking kidding me..."]
[+gold "I believe she’s becoming a demi-god. It is not coincidence the two humans came together I believe there is something more at work, and I know I have to do what I can to help those two succeed at whatever it is needs done. Please, sister of mine, help me?”]
[+pink “Does Kael know about your clandestine beliefs?”] Gaius went quiet then and Vanna held her glare…
[+gold "He thinks we are simply doing our job. Look, I’ve got an angel wanting one of the humans, a tribe of Maenads and a Vampire after the other, and I know I have to do this because... I also know how to find Hades…”]
That last part seemed to capture Vanna’s attention, and she stepped back from him and looked him over. [+pink “That’s not possible… When Lucifer was cast to Hell, he raised his own army and conquered the Underworld. He destroyed Hades."]
[+gold “I think he tried… I don’t think he was successful. Hades is the only one who can quell the uprising of underworld creatures… and he’s probably the only one that can truly protect her…”] Vanna glared at him, seemingly angry that he was wanting to protect all of humanity over one woman.
[+pink “Your little human will be the death of you."] Vanna warned... but ultimately assured Gaius she would help him -favor or not.
The reaction to her offer was… intense. Dahlia didn’t know why. It wasn’t like she had offered up anything and everything to the demoness. Just a night of nail painting and dress up, and she for one thought that that was worth keeping Eris around. Though her face reddened when Gaius said that she didn’t understand. It sort of felt like she was a child and her guardian had rushed in to apologize for some misstep on her part.
Vanna clung to her as long as she could, which was impressive since her brother seemed hell bent on separating the two. The taller woman was able to admit she would let Eris stay before she detached entirely. And while Dahlia was happy to know they wouldn’t be separated, she was still fighting back the bit of shame gnawing at her stomach. [+mediumvioletred “I am glad to hear that... Thank you.”] Well, maybe she wasn’t too glad to hear that Gaius was basically indebted to her, but the part about Eris being able to stay was great.
The cardinal demons left shortly after that with the promise that food would come soon. Dahlia was ready to eat, so overall she was happy. Though, from the corner of her eye she noticed Eris look somewhat uneasily at her hair. Hungry or not, that commanded her attention first. And as her friend looked up at her, she smiled. She was already on her way to the sofa to take the seat next to her, however instead of sitting normally she faced her newly longhaired friend. [+mediumvioletred “If that is getting in your way, I could braid it back for you. Or we could always find someone to cut it again. I bet with all this staff Vanna has one hand, at least one of them must know how to cut hair.”] The human woman wasn’t entirely sure what her friend would want, but she didn’t want her to suffer in silence if this sudden change was bothering her. And thankfully enough, hair was one of those things you had some control over. At least in most cases, she wasn’t entirely ready to rule out the possibility that there might be some weird magic tied to her hair. There might have been a reason it grew after that ceremony.
They had been there for less than twenty minutes and Kael was already full ready to leave. Dahlia had put him on edge, maybe not quite so much as she had Gaius, but he damn near had a heart attack. So needless to say, he was tense. Even after his partner managed to defuse the situation with his sister and direct her elsewhere. It wasn’t until she was completely out of the room that he felt he could breath again. One of them was going to have to sit down to have a chat with Dahlia about the dangers of making deals with demons. Terms and conditions be damned, they would always find a way to get more than you bargained for. Doubly so if you were mortal, and that wasn’t even considering the fact that she was an oracle. Just thinking about it was tedious, so he let it be for now. Besides, she was busy with Eris. He didn’t want to bug them. The maenad had gone through a lot, and it was clear her friend was going to be able to sooth her a lot better than he could. He wasn’t going to get in the way of that. Plus, he it turned out he didn’t have the time to interrupt, even if he wanted to. The food was arriving. The fact that it came so soon told him whomever Vanna kept as her personal kitchen staff was probably on call 24/7, which was unsurprising after what he had seen with the rest of her help.
Several plates of varying types of sushi were served to them. It was of outstanding quality, not that the snake was expecting anything less. And while he probably could have gone without eating, it was tempting enough for him to snap up a couple pieces of salmon nigiri himself. Plus, there was a sense of solidarity in eating together, especially in a foreign place. He was confident enough that they were safe here to do that much.
As Kael popped another piece of sushi in his mouth, he felt his pocket begin to vibrate. That was odd… this was a new burner phone, no one should have this number. Quickly taking it out, his red eyed scanned over the screen. There was a message, instructions to meet at the nearest communal gathering place for another announcement. No doubt it was an update on this trouble with Atlas. There was no way he or Gaius were going to be able to attend. Staying below radar was the number one priority right now, so they would have to get an update from elsewhere. But this was good news in one way; his phone hadn’t been compromised. These sorts of things get blanket signaled out to any device close enough to a demon aura. No doubt Gaius and Vanna were seeing the same exact thing right now.
At Dahlia’s words, both Kale and Gaius tensed. Eris had finally seemed to gain control over her emotions and though she still looked ready to hit the Demoness, she resigned to crossing her arms and staring at Dahlia. Her arm of comfort had been a tremendous help in Eris regaining her composure, but with the Demoness having the oracle tucked possessively against her, Eris was left alone to grappling with the new sensations of her “Demi-god-hood” It was infuriating watching the Demoness snuggle Dahlia as if she was some pet to coddle. At least that was better than outright refusal. Eris knew she needed to get her shit together, but something worse was now at hand and it was obvious as Gaius suddenly stepped in and peeled his sister away from Dahlia.
[+gold “Dahlia doesn’t understand what she’s saying. I’m here to ask for the favor -you deal with me.”] Gaius warned, but even he seemed a bit tense for a moment, especially as Vanna wore a sly smirk. They stared each other down for a terse moment, but something seemed to flash between their eyes and Vanna relented a moment later with an exaggerated sigh.
[+pink “Calm down, brother. I deal with you, and only you.”] She turned to Dahlia then, and took a closer look at the little oracle. [+pink “And don’t you worry your pretty little head. I won’t kick your friend out. My brother has asked me a favor, I am honor bound to fulfill it. Just as he is honor bound to repay it in the future.”] This last part she said in an underhanded tone towards Gaius, but her inquisitive eyes never left Dahlia. Satisfied she let go of Dahlia and gave Gaius a glance of something like approval, and turned her gaze to Eris.
[+pink “Why don’t I like you?”] She asked herself and Eris. Eris only glared at her in silence. [+pink “Oh well, it matters not,”] Vanna said with a toss of her hair and turned to grasp her brother’s arm. [+pink “You all must be starving, I’ll have the staff bring you something to eat while you settle into your rooms.”] With that both Gaius and Vanna left the room to a private room.
Eris sighed in the absence of the prideful Demoness and fell into the sofa to sit for a moment before staff came for them to show them where to go. Were all immortals ridiculously wealthy? She was agitated and she couldn’t pin down why. She’d save deeper thoughts for the privacy of her own room, or in the council of Dahlia. Eris stared at her lap when the sight of her hair caught her attention. She absentmindedly picked up a lock of the dark raven strands and frowned. It was so long now. She worn her hair short since she had left the island the first time. Now it was going to serve as a constant reminder she wasn’t the same. She was something else... and who was she? Was she Eris... or was she... [i Eris, The Goddess of Discord and Chaos]? This was trippy, and Eris wasn’t sure how she was going to handle this. As it was, her emotions were a torrential cyclone of rage, guilt, frustration, remorse, elation; all constantly going round and round inside her. She kept herself calm, dropping her hair and looking over at Dahlia to see how she was dealing with this.
The shriek that preceded a smear of color that was just about too fast for Dahlia’s eyes to catch threw her into alarm. But she soon realized it was a sound of joy and not terror. In fact, the woman pasting herself to Gaius’ side seemed absolutely delighted to have her brother around. She watched as he was attempting to peel her from his person. It was funny, that was for sure, but it did not work. Vanna was stuck to him. It made the human woman smile. She thought it was sweet, even if everyone else seemed more on edge.
Then as quick as she came, she was gone. Vanity bounced from her brother over to his friend. Kael was pretty much prepared for it. That was how these rare visits went, but for once it did not bother him so much. At least so much as he could ignore it knowing that the plan to distract her from the girls for the time being was working. So, he reciprocated her banter while keeping his hands firmly to himself. [+forestgreen “Of course, would I miss a chance to see the gem of the cardinal sins?”] Flattery could get you anywhere, especially with pride herself. But thankfully, it was not so out of character for him. Kael was never looking to piss anyone with this much sway off, he went along with her shenanigans to assuage her. However, that task was a little bit more difficult with Eris seething in the background. Why she was reacting this strongly was a mystery, though that was nothing different for her. She was full of mysteries, but for now his attention had to stay on the woman curling into him. [+forestgreen “I think we both know there isn’t a force in this world, or any other, that can keep your brother in line, but I am trying my best.”] He smiled back at her, even as she blew kisses his way. She really was a lot. Definitely too much of a handful for him, though no one could argue that she wasn’t beautiful.
It didn’t take being an expert aura reader to see that Eris was upset. No sooner than she tensed, Dahlia could tell something was wrong. She knew her friend had something or other building up with the snake demon across the way, but she was also not the type to get all in a twist over a boy. There was more to it, even if she could not put her finger on it for now. That was fine though. Dahlia did not have to know what was upsetting Eris to care. So, she moved in a little closer and placed an arm around one of her friend’s. There she squeezed lightly before running her thumb slowly back and forth over her skin in as soothing a manner as possible. Whether it was actually any degree of helpful or not was up for debate, but the petite woman wanted her friend to know she was there with her, so she kept at it. At least, she did until Vanna came over to them, pointedly announced she did not care for Eris and snatched Dahlia up into a hug that ripped the two apart. She was not ecstatic about that, but the unexpected gushing over her cuteness coming from the beauty caused her to flush. Normally she wouldn’t mind too much, but in this case, it almost felt like she was being adopted as a pet to toy with rather than being offered shelter as a person. It was a little humiliating, but there was nothing to be done about it. Not if they wanted Vanna’s help. Still, Dahlia was willing to press just a little for her friend.
[+mediumvioletred “Um, Miss Vanna.”] Her voice was on the quiet side, not wanting to sound too imposing or demanding, not that she usually carried such tones. [+mediumvioletred “I know Eris looks a little rough around the edges, especially since we have been on the run without much of a break, but she is my very best friend and I am not sure I can do without her... I don’t mean to be rude, it is just we have been through a lot and we really need one another right now, so could you please allow her to stay as well...”] It was tempting to propose that she would do whatever Vanity wanted in exchange, but that was a trifling too dangerous to offer to a demon, so she settled with a smaller suggestion. [+mediumvioletred “If you do, maybe we could have a girls’ night or something. You know with makeovers and that sort of stuff.”] Dahlia hoped it might be tempting enough since she said she wanted to play dress up.
Kael on the other hand was panicking a touch. Gaius, being the favorite, got to ask favors, he was worried Dahlia was seriously overstepping. His eyes flickered from the trio back to Wrath, hoping he might step in before things took a bad turn, though maybe he was being overly sensitive. After the week they had had, he was really turning into a pessimist.
It was a three hour trip between the flight and the driving. Gaius was tired, so it wasn’t unbelievable to see how exhausted the two women were. Eris looked ready to fall over, or scream... one couldn’t be sure. One thing was certain, the Eris they had met in New York was no longer with them, she had changed in more ways than just her appearance. It was different to see her with hair so long, when he had become so accustomed to seeing her hair short. She was also still dressed for the ceremony, but the wreath of herbs and flowers on her head now sat in her lap and it seemed to be the only thing she wished to concentrate on. Always so loud mouthed and opinionated, it was unnerving with how quiet she had become.
He was relieved when the car finally brought them to their final destination. At least here Gaius knew they would all be safe. Vanna would no doubt love Kael’s company, and with time might come to accept the two women. They were led inside an opulent old mansion just outside the main city. The home was in a gated lot, guarded by large black Italian Mastiffs that were just as vicious as they were beautiful. Animals never did like Gaius, it had everything to do with his energy, and when the duo of Cane Corsos came trotting down the hallway to investigate the newcomers, they instantly began to bark at Gaius, who was quick to snarl with his own warning at them. The two dogs whimpered and hurried off to find their master.
[+gold “Good for nothing guard dogs... better than the poodles she used to keep. Those things were dumb enough to keep barking and bite at me...”] Gaius murmured to the group as they made their way into the sitting room where they were to be greeted by his sister. Gaius plopped down into a chair and leaned back with eyes closed as he waited for the tell tale shrill squeal of his overzealous sister.
He did not have to wait long.
[+pink “EEEEEEEEEEEE! Gaius! My darling favorite brother!”] She came like a blur, rushing into the room and jumping right on top of him, that Gaius was not ready for her, and she knocked him clean off his feet. He had just enough time to stand and catch her before falling back into the chair. She nuzzled him like an affectionate kitten, with a happy idiotic smile on her face. [+pink “Oh you’re here! You’re here! I missed you so much! It’s been almost fifty years! Why do you always stay away for so long? Don’t you love me? Aren’t I your favorite as well?”]
Gaius on the other hand was frazzled and irritated by the excitable affections of his sister, and minor horror at the embarrassment of what Dahlia was witnessing. Though he’d never admit it was because of her he was mortified, or that he actually cared what the little oracle thought.
[+gold “Damnit woman, I can’t breathe!”] Vanna only laughed happily and squeezed him harder until she flung him away and turned her eyes on Kael, completely ignoring the women. She moved like a flash until she was pressed up right against Kael’s chest and her eyes went hooded with lustful coyness. Her hands wandered over his chest to his shoulders until they were wrapped around him and her fingers began to play with the ends of his hair, her face moving closer and closer with every word she spoke.
[+pink “I see you came along, Kael. I was hoping you would. Where my brother is, you’re not far behind. Are you keeping him in line? He does need quite a bit of guidance with that temper of his-“] From her seat Eris suddenly went tense as a bowstring, just as red faced and frazzled as Gaius was, and her hands gripping the wreath so tightly the leaves were starting to rip. She looked ready to kill, or throw the wreath at Vanity.
Eris wasn’t stupid though, she knew Vanity was Pride, and the only way they would get help would be to stay on her good side, and feed her ego. So Eris kept her mouth shut and looked down to her feet letting her hair curtain the view of the seductress up against Kael... and why did that bother her so much? She didn’t want to think about it, besides, she didn’t have time to.
[+gold “Vanna, leave him alone. We came for a reason, and it is not so you could harass my partner.”] Vanna was suddenly pouting from where she had curled herself up against Kael’s chest and looked to her brother. Eris took a moment to finally look the woman over. She was unearthly beautiful, with large doe eyes of pale brown, and rich chocolatey hair that fell in dark waves, so glossy and so shiny it looked like doll hair. Her figure was shapely, and she was surprisingly shorter than Eris, but still taller than dahlia. A solid 5’5 with the figure of a dancer, and creamy pale skin, full lips, and impressively long lashes. It was sinful the beauty she possessed... and she knew it.
[+pink “I’m not harassing my sweet Kael,”] she winked and kissed upwards towards Kael. [+pink “So, what did you wish to ask of me?”] Vanna sighed and finally looked over at Dahlia and Eris, resting her head against Kael’s chest. Eris had the insane urge to strangle the woman.
[+gold “A favor.”] Vanna seemed to pique at that and her eyes grew large like a kitten ready to pounce a toy.
[+pink “A favor?”] She repeated with enthusiasm, favors were no light matter among demons.
[+gold “Yes. We need shelter and connections. We need a place to lay low for awhile, while Kael and I sort some things out. I need you to watch these women. Vanna, this is Dahlia and Eris.” ] Vanna looked as if she had suddenly smelled something she didn’t like and stepped away from Kael to look at the only woman who was looking at her -Dahlia. She walked over slowly and stood before Dahlia with a stern expression.
[+pink “They’re not mortals... let them fend for themselves.”]
[+gold “They’re not demons either-”]
[+pink “Since when has that mattered?”]
[+gold “Vanna,”] Gaius chided and she was forced to roll her eyes.
[+pink This one is obviously not... but that one...”] She pointed from Dahlia to Eris, who was still gripping her wreath tightly and grinding her teeth together in an attempt to quell a sudden burst of unfettered rage. [+pink “I don’t know about that one... I don’t like her aura.”] Eris looked ready to snap, but instead the wreath finally gave way under her white knuckled grip. [+pink “This one though,”] Vanna turned her attention back to Dahlia, and her cold expression flipped once more to something adoring and excited. [+pink “Is so cute! I just want to dress her up! Oh Good Satan you’re adorable!”] Vanna squealed suddenly rushing Dahlia with a tight hug. [+pink “I’m going to keep this one... I can sense her power! Plus she’ll look perfect in pastels!”] She squealed out excitedly with a rosy blush and she cuddled the unprepared Dahlia. Gaius was unfortunately at a loss of words, but with a moment’s time he would be renewed in calming his eccentric sister. Vanna was right though, a dark aura was staring to bleed off of Eris from her own frustrations.
Dahlia was anxious, and quite frankly scared. It did not help that as soon as they got far enough in that boat the buzzing in her ear got a little more prominent. It was strange, like white noise that it could be ignore for great lengths of time, but it was always there. However, as worried as she was, the woman was a million times more exhausted. They were not in the car for very long at all before she passed out with her friend. That was for the best. The two of them definitely needed some rest. Especially if they were off to meet yet another powerful demon. Having their wits about them was probably a good idea, though of everything going on Dahlia was not too terribly nervous about that. If Gaius thought it would be okay, then it would be. After everything they had been through together thus far, she thought he had proven himself trustworthy enough for her to put her faith in him about this sort of thing. The plane though, that was a different story. Thankfully, she was too tired when they boarded to overthink everything that could go wrong. Dahlia had never been on a plane before. Until recently she had never even left the state of New York. Had she not immediately fallen back to sleep, she would have eventually been excited about the experience, but this time she wound up just sleeping through it till they landed.
Somehow it turned out that getting north to Milan was the easiest thing they had done in the last week. It was a pleasant surprise. The overall luxury of it was just a bonus, though Kael didn’t know why he expected anything else when it came to Vanna. She always looked to impress, it came with the territory. Compared to Gaius’ other siblings, she was one of the more tolerable as far as the snake was concerned. He still wasn’t really looking to cross her or do anything to piss her off, but if he had to be locked in a room with either her or Greed who they had seen back at that warehouse, it was no contest. It helped that her wiles were less effective against him. He had his own set of powers to captivate, so it took the edge off hers just enough to act somewhat respectable. Thank the powers below for that.
From the plane it was straight back into another car. This one the same as the last, down to every detail. Even the driver seemed eerily similar to the last. There were some obvious preferences on Vanna's part here, but it was probably more about consistency than anything. Despite the fact that they came in on a private airfield, it was still located in the more metropolitan part of the city. Through the dark tinted windows, the hustle of bustle of it was apparent, even at night. Half the people moved quickly on the streets, all as if they had someplace to be, while the rest meandered with their eyes up on the buildings, tourists no doubt. It was not unlike New York in that way, but this seemed a little more civil. It didn’t look as though anyone was yelling angrily on the streets, so there was that.
Eventually the cityscape broke and transformed into something more historical in a sense. The buildings were well kept, but it seemed this area was all about the aesthetic of being in Italy. Not that you could forget it. Just seeing the people in the streets and how well dressed they were, you knew you had to be in someplace fashion forward. Milan fit the bill on all accounts, and doubly so in this district with all the concert halls and museums around. It only made sense that someone like vanity herself would stay in a place like this. And when they finally stopped wherever it was the driver had been directed to take them, it was as expected. The home was extravagant, every detail done perfectly. It was at least on par with Eris’ home back on the island, if not a little nicer, and that placed housed a small group of gods.
Inside they were instructed to wait for their hostess. Apparently, she was finishing something up and would be with them shortly. Until then they were sat in a very comfortable drawing room. There were plenty of places to sit, but Kael opted to stand. The idea was to be near the entryway so that he might pull attention away from the two ladies they brought with them for at least long enough for Gaius to explain what was going on... as well as that could be done. The red-eyed man was also primed to give a somewhat flowery greeting when she arrived. As Gaius mentioned, sucking up was somewhat crucial.
Eris was beyond relieved to have Dahlia’s forgiveness. She felt a heavy weight was finally lifted, but with it was the traded weight of truth. The truth of her heritage, her family, and that she was more connected to that stupid medallion and Dahlia than she ever realized. Was this all the work of the Fates? Had they woven this destiny to happen? What would greet her at the end? Would a thread be cut short before they reached the end of this woven story?
She sighed heavily and leaned her head against the comfort of Daliha’s shoulder and closed her eyes to take a moment. Dahlia’s promise that they would get through this, was the affirmation Eris needed.
[#b22222 “You’re right… We will, but this is so much bigger than the story we initially thought. We’ll never be able to tell it…”] Eris mused defeatedly. She felt Dahlia’s comfort and finally sat back up with a glance behind them. She knew that someone would come for her. They would never let her be free now. [#b22222 “Our list of enemies keeps growing… how are we going to outrun them?”] She asked more to herself than to Dahlia.
They were lucky to make land well before sunrise, and wasted no time in continuing to move. So far they were not being followed and though they had none of their personal belongings anymore, Gaius still managed to have money on him. Gaius always seemed prepared, must have something to do with centuries of living among humans and having enemies. Eris was the one to go in and purchase the burner phone for them from a late night gas station, and they went to replan behind the building. Gaius was quick on his phone dialing a number from memory….
[b [i MILAN, ITALY]]
Energetic dubstep music filled the specious industrial building, while a dazzling laser show illuminated the space. Chairs lined a fashion runway where people milled about taking their seats. The stage was illuminated with recessed floor lights making it look like a glimmering rainbow prism that the models would walk. Above on his own lift the DJ was setting the tone, camera men prepared to record the event, and fashion photographers were bull-penned at the fringes of the seats. Ushering people to their places were beautiful women dressed in black sequin dresses and other serving drinks. One in particular made her way through the crowd of spectators and to the backstage.
Behind the partition was a new world. Models hurried to their places, getting dressed by their drapers. Stylists and MUAs put the finishing touches on hair and makeup. Show coordinators began calling orders and for line up. At one station in particular sat a woman of other worldly beauty. Her skin was a warm flawless blend of caramel and cream, luminous green eyes encased in thick black lashes, and rich chocolatey hair. The woman was being tended to by both a stylist and an MUA who put the final touches on her before she would go on.
“Ms. V, Phone call for you. Said it was family.” The server informed. The woman looked up and looked to the revealed tray with a cellphone placed on mute.
V sighed heavily and took the phone with perfectly manicured hands, and picked up the call.
[+pink “Who is it?”] She asked sharply, having little patience for her family, and exhibiting an interested accent.
[+gold “It’s me,”] The woman suddenly perked up with a large grin.
[+pink “Is it really my sweet Gaius? Oh Darling brother, where are you? I haven’t heard from you in… well… decades!”] she laughed for the sake of it, but Gaius’ voice remained steady, undeterred by her personality.
[+gold “I need to ask a favor,”]
[+pink “Anything for you brother! But make it quick, I have a show this evening and I must go on soon.”] She looked down at her other hand eyeing her nails, before waving off her stylists.
[+gold “You’re more hospitable than usual.”]
[+pink “Nonsense, darling. I simply miss my favorite big brother.”]
[+gold “I’m in Greece with company. I need a lift, and will explain everything when we get there.”] Suddenly V was gleaming with joy, her eyes almost sparkling. She made a girlish squeal that had Gaius holding the phone away from his ear and wincing. V knew what company meant. Gaius would be with his adorable little friend, Kael. Clearly not her type, but his rejections had always made here that much more interested. She loathed him and loved him
[+pink “OF COURSE! Thank Dad! You’re coming to visit! Oh this is going to be so much fun! I’ll have a plane chartered for you in the next hour. Keep this phone, my assistant will be in contact. Go ahead and start for the airport if you can! Ciao! Love you, see you soon. Have to dash!”] She hung up then and stood up from her chair and turned screaming for a most unfortunate assistant.
[b [i BACK IN GREECE… ]]
[+gold “Well… my sister is…. Being helpful…”] Gaius said after hanging up the phone, and putting it in his pocket. He was a little confused. He thought he’d have to do more ass kissing, it put him a little on edge, but it was minimal. Out of all his siblings, Vanity, or Vanna as he called her, wasn’t lying when she had called him her favorite. Vanna might have been a self-absorbed little twat, but she did adore him. He looked over to Kael curious to know how the second meeting between them would go, and how Vanna would take to a literal Pandora’s box, and an Oracle. He looked over to the two women and frowned, and was about to speak further when his phone rang. He reached back into his pocket and was shocked to find when he answered it, it was Vanna’s assistant. She had called for a car to come get them and take them to a small regional airport where a plane would be taking them to Milan. Gaius hadn’t even hung up the phone after his conversation with her, when a black SUV pulled into the gas station and came around to the back of the building. Gaius tensed and the woman made a final departure over the phone.
[i “That would be your ride, Master Gaius. You will arrive at the airport in one hour and the plane will be ready to depart at your arrival. Master Vanna looks forward to your visit, and wishes to know of any requests you have for your arrival so she may accommodate. You may text such details at your leisure. Easy Travels, Sir.”] The line went dead and Gaius watched a man get out of the car and open the back doors for them to enter.
[+gold “It’s safe, go ahead and get in.”] Gaius assured the women, and he too got in, taking the front seat up next to the driver.
The driver did not speak, and for the most part no one else did either on the drive to the airport. Eris had fallen asleep in the backseat with Dahlia, both women exhausted from the event. Gaius wanted to talk with Kael, but until they were on the plane away from prying ears he wouldn’t speak either. The SUV drove up to a gate to the runways and managed to get through security and towards a hangar. As they got closer Gaius could see the small personal jet waiting for its passengers outside on the tarmac.The stopping car roused Eris from her sleep and she nudged Dahlia awake to board the plane.
The interior of the plane was high class and luxurious. The captain was already in the cockpit getting the plane started, while his copilot closed the main door and sealed them all inside. A Stewardess greeted them with a smile only Tour Guide Barbie could rival. Eris wondered if she was even human. She wasn’t trusting the things she was seeing. The stewardess made sure they were buckled in safely and the plane made its way towards the runway before it finally sped along and lifted up into the air taking them North to Milan.
Receiving a rather negative review of his plan right out the gate, Kael had a feeling he was not going to be able to convince Gaius, but he also was not sure what other choice they had. [+forestgreen “It’s not like I will be completely out, I will-“] He barely started when Eris began apologizing. That shut him up, well at least when it came to his idea. The red-eyed man was not looking to make her feel any worse than she apparently already did. [+forestgreen “No, it’s not your fault. You were just as surprised as the rest of you to discover your family’s secret, so there is no way you could have known it was going to play out this way.”] He was attempting to comfort her, but the maenad come vessel of calamity was more focused on her friend than anything he had to say, so Kael left it at that.
Having such an adamant and sorrow-filled apology directed at her, there was little way for Dahlia to reject it. Not that that was an issue, as she was good and ready to forgive her friend. Strange how traumatic events speed up the mending process when it came to this sort of interpersonal divide. The petite woman squeezed her friend’s hands tightly, tempted to hug her again, though she restrained herself. [+mediumvioletred “I was always going to forgive you, silly. I just needed some time... You really hurt my feelings before, but I have decided to try and see it more from your side of things and I understand why you didn’t say anything about your family.”] Gaius had helped her see that she was being a little silly herself when it came to that and while she was not a hundred percent over it, Dahlia knew it would come. There was no point in drawing it out forever. [+mediumvioletred “Besides, you’re my best friend too, I can’t stay mad at you forever. Who would get stuff off the high shelves for me?”] It was a bad joke, but she didn’t much care at the moment. Squeezing Eris’ hands one more time, Dahlia smiled. [+mediumvioletred “It's gonna be alright, we are going to make it through this."] Of course there was no way for her to know that for sure, that was the dark-eyed woman's shining optimism coming through. She knew she had the tendency to be a little too hopeful, but right now hope was something they needed if they were going to keep fighting.
While all that went on in the background, Kael was glad that Gaius came in to give him something else to focus on, something he found somewhat more pressing. And what was better was there seemed to be more options for them than he thought. It allowed him at least a little bit of relief though he nearly laughed at his friend’s comment about brown nosing. [+forestgreen “Half my family is in politics, I think I have the ass kissing thing down pat.”] Between his dad, his brother, and all their associates, Kael had seen enough sucking up to fill a couple of demonic lifetimes. They would probably be fine. [+forestgreen “And if it is between dealing with my sibling and yours I’d rather it be yours.”] Technically it was the more dangerous route, seeing as he knew Cornelius wouldn’t go for blood even if he went hostile, but Kael [i really] didn’t want to deal with the aftermath of doing what it would take to get passed him and use the warp point. [+forestgreen “If you think we can trust her to keep her mouth shut about those two,”] he motioned back to the ladies who were still talking about something or other. [+forestgreen ‘Then I think it’s worth a shot. It will just be a matter of getting to Milan, but I don’t think that will be too hard.”] Difficulty was not the real issue though. It was keeping a low profile. And unfortunately, between Wrath himself, a literal goddess, and the ridiculous conglomeration that was Dahlia’s aura, they were going to have a hard time with that.
Eris wasn’t expecting Dahlia to rush her with relief. To be honest after everything that happened on this trip, Eris wasn’t sure what to expect these days. Regardless, it brought a smile to her face despite the guilt she felt for bringing them all into this mess. The original part of Eris wanted to joke about the reasons why she ran from her cult-like family in the first place, but the island visit had changed her irrevocably. Even now Eris did not know what those changes would bring. For the moment she was content to hold Dahlia close.
[#b22222 “I’m so glad you’re alright,”] Eris murmured, but Kael made a call for them to hurry and move. Eris had to agree, and Gaius was the first to jump on board and help preparations to leave. Eris helped Dahlia into the boat and proceeded to take a seat with her. Eris made no move or spoke a word as Kael sped the boat away from the island, while above the sky raged and the ware grew restless. Eris looked back to the shrinking island with nervousness. She wasn’t certain fit hey would follow or not, and that made her even more anxious.
They were nearing the magical carrier when Kael began to formulate the next plan. Eris made no comment, not confident enough to offer a suggestion. Especially since the last one involved the current mess they were in.
[i [+purple -Yes, but now you have also claimed a fraction of my power. That makes you almost as powerful as our friend, Wrath.-]]
Eris looked across the boat towards Gaius who was seated near the bow of the boat, his eyes fixated on the horizon and any threat that the barrier might possess.
[i [#b22222 -Perhaps... but he has centuries worth of knowledge, which means I wouldn’t stand a chance. So I still have no power or stance to offer suggestions. I have to learn I’ve made a mistake, and the best way for me to not make it worse is to actually let these two demons handle it.-]] The Goddess could not argue her host’s logic and so went silent.
It seemed the plan Kael had in mind was to go to a new place with his wrapping abilities. Eris looked up with concern at that suggestion, her own fears voice by Dahlia... but not all of them. Kael even admitted to the inevitablility that he would be incapacitated in the aftermath. Eris had to grit her teeth. She didn’t want Kale to go through that -not because of her mistake.
[#daa520 “No. We can’t afford for you to be out of commission. Any plan that takes you off the board, is a ‘no-go’, in my opinion. We’ll find another way -“]
[#b22222 “I’m sorry!”] Eris suddenly interrupted as they broke past the barrier and were welcomed to open calm waters as the illusion of the surrounding fog and storm evaporated away to nothing. [#b22222 “It’s all my fault we’re in this mess. We never should have come, I never should have suggested it, never should have put Dahlia in danger like that.”]
From where he stood Gaius’ eyes narrowed with uncertainty on the girl. He had seen what she was capable of, or at least some of it. She was a Pandora’s box, a Vessel of Calamity, and he no longer trusted her. She was too unpredictable, but it was hard to stick to that mindset. He could see her shoulders and body tremble, her long curtain is silky black hair cast a dark shadow on her face, and over her thighs her hands fisted tightly in a white-knuckled grip. She suddenly moved and sprang on Dahlia, her hands quickly grabbing Dahlia’s and a pleading look in her wine colored eyes.
[#b22222 “Please forgive me, Dahlia! I never meant for any of this! I never wanted to lie to you, I never wanted to put you in danger. You’re my best friend.”] Eris bowed her head forward in a sign of humility before Dahlia. Gaius made no comment towards the women and instead crossed his arms over his chest and moved towards Kael to speak amongst themselves.
[#daa520 “I may have a suggestion of my own. This one will be more reliable than the last... I have a sibling who lives in Milan. She would be able to get us where we need to go... only.. it’s V...”] Gaius’ nose scrunched up, not too particularly please, but no different than asking an annoying sibling for a favor. [#daa520 “I hope your ass kissing is as good as ever... we both know how Vanity loves to be complimented...”] Gaius sighed with an annoyed expression and looked out towards the twinkling lights of the Grecian Coastline and waited to hear Kael’s opinion, or suggestions.
Upon Gaius’ announcement that they would need to go on without him, Kael was liking this whole thing less and less. They were losing half their party all because they came to this stupid island, but at the same time, he did not see what other choice they had. Whatever the Greeks were planning would be infinitely more dangerous if they had an Oracle’s premonition and allowing them to keep Hades locked away was not exactly a good prospect either. They had to escape, and unfortunately because Kael was not exactly the type to fend off an army, it was Gaius who had to stay behind.
Nodding to signal his agreement, much like his partner, Kael did not turn to look behind. They were in much too much of a hurry to waste any time with even the simplest of goodbyes. He did however look over to Dahlia who seemed to have even more qualms with the problem than he did. But before she could open up to say anything to prolong their departure, the snake grabbed ahold of her and made off through the now warped gate. There were some words of protest when he picked her up, but he did not pay them any mind as they raced off toward the ocean. With any luck they could find something faster than a ferry to commandeer.
Without worry about those who were immediately tailing them and being able to set his own pace without a human to slow him, it was not long before they made it to the docks. The red-eyed man was quick to set Dahlia down and hop into one of the sportier boats. It was nice and well-kept, so Kael almost felt a little bad when he busted the front console open to reach the wiring. He was no boat expert but hotwiring this thing couldn’t be that different from a car, and the steering mechanism looked straight forward enough as well. It would be better than trying to swim it, that was for sure. Crouched down he looked through the mess of wires beneath the dash and tried to piece it together so that he could get the boat to start. When the engine did eventually jump to life, it was quiet. Kael felt it more than heard it through the unstable floor beneath his feet. That meant it was time. Hopping back into the wooden dock he turned toward Dahlia and told her to get in as his eyes scanned the horizon, but before either of them moved something unexpected happened: Eris and Gaius materialized from thin air. [+forestgreen “… Okay…”] The flat, somewhat drawn out, word expressed his disbelief as he blinked at the pair. Perhaps it would have been better to be on edge with such a happening, but it wasn’t like Wrath himself had an aura that was easily mimicked, so at the very least he knew it was really them.
Dahlia’s reaction was much the same but mixed with a bit of alarm at the sudden appearance of two figures. Obviously, it did not take long for her to recognize who they were. A longtime friend and very striking demon were not exactly easy to mistake for anyone else, but the woman’s dark eyes wandered over her friend for a short while. She was taking in everything, all the differences that were visible in her appearance, but as unnerving as those were, she could tell her Eris was back. The terrifying glint in her eyes from earlier had faded and there was just something about how she held herself that confirmed it for her, so the petite woman rushed right up and wrapped her arms tightly around her best friend. [+mediumvioletred “I am so glad you are okay.”] Her eyes were brimming with tears, though she managed to hold them back for now. It was a little irritating. Dahlia felt like she had been constantly crying these last few days; it was childish.
Still very much ignorant to what had transpired, Dahlia made a mental note to thank Gaius for bringing Eris back, but for now she was content latching herself to the other woman. Her hug persisted right up until Kael butt in. [+forestgreen “I hate to be an ass, but we really need to get out of here. This reunion can continue on the boat."] The man felt genuinely bad breaking it up, but survival came first and if they were here that meant the search party would not be far behind.
The boat rocked on the water as three of them boarded. Kael took an additional minute as he untied the rope that tethered the vessel to the dock. Once everyone was settled in, he pushed off with his foot and jumped in with the others to take the captain’s seat. With no more immediate distractions, he hit the throttle and they were speeding away from the island. With any luck, they would be one of the only boats on the water at this time of night and he wouldn’t need to worry about any boating restrictions, seeing as Kael was no expert in all this and being tailed by some costal police was no his idea of a good time right now.
[+forestgreen “So, the immediate game plan...”] As always, the snake like to have these things thought out before hand, even if they never went to plan. [+forestgreen “We need to get as far away from here as we can, as fast as we can. Warping would be ideal, which means going back to the safehouse, but I seriously doubt Cornelius will keep any of this under wraps. We would have to get passed him in order to transport and even then, with Dahlia popping off with deity energy, our location won’t be secret for long unless we can find some way to put up a barrier.”] There were a lot of potential issues they could run into any step of the way. Biting his lip, Kael was wracking his brain for an answer that did not involve having to assault a magister, but for the time being that was his go to, unless someone else had a better idea for what they should be doing right about now.
[+mediumvioletred “Umm… not to be a doubting Thomas, but didn’t it take both you and your brother to warp us all before?”] Dahlia remembered how tired Kael had been after using the lay lines things before and she wasn’t exactly confident he would be able to do it on his own.
That was something that had already crossed the red-eyed man’s mind. [+forestgreen “It might put me out of commission for a little bit, but its better than letting those guys get ahold of us.”] He glanced back over his shoulder towards the ever-shrinking island. For the time being there was nothing but their own wake following them on the water. A nice break for them that would not last, as they soon crossed the magical barrier that was shielding their maenad paradise from the outside world.
Dahlia had already been channeling the obvious energies from within the barrier, but now that she was out in the open it was not taking long for others to lock on and begin throwing their own auras her way to make the beacon stronger and easier to target. With a little attention the others might have been able to pinpoint who all was exactly throwing their hats into the ring, but for Dahlia all this meant was a louder, harder to ignore, buzzing in her ear. It was something that would ebb and flow, as she vaguely remembered, but for now she did not say anything about it. She already felt bad enough making things harder on everyone, she did not want to complain on top of it. Instead the dark eyed woman opted to lean against Eris who was seated next to her and let the conversation about what they should do continue around her.
[b “STOP THEM! Capture them and bring back The Oracle!”] Dion shouted into the night sky. Ares was beside Eris, coaching the Goddess to stay in control of her pitiful mortal consciousness. The Goddess ground her teeth, the maenad’s will was strong, and Ares’ coaching was irritating to her. She understood this mortal’s desire to be free and in control. She too wanted the same thing: Free Will. She didn’t want to bring a second coming like the rest of the fools that surrounded her, she wanted to find her own little corner of the world and rule it without interference.
Inside, her mind was in turmoil, and the Goddess raged as she realized she was slowly losing control. Fighting with a Maenad host had only happened to one other God in the past, and they did not speak of it, the mortal coil was cut, and the God erased from history. Eris wasn’t going to go down like that.
[+purple “Little Maenad, you try my patience! Do have any idea what will happen to both of us if you don’t comply?!”]
[#b22222 “This is my body! Get out!”]
[+purple ‘You are a Puppet. I stay... or we die.’] The Maenad was quiet for a moment, but did not lessen her fight for control.
[#b22222 ‘You leave, or you give this puppet total control. You clearly can’t survive without me, and I’m too strong for you to dispose of. Besides, at this point I won’t survive without you. We need each other. Help me make room for you. Help me, help you.’] The Maenad left no room in her voice for argument, and the Goddess realized if she did nothing soon, Ares was likely to cut them both down. She had a choice to make, return to the Aether or stay and become a tool....
Just as Eris feared, Ares had risen to his feet and was looking at Dion, who was frowning.
[b “I will give her another moment to find control, or I’m ending them both-“]
[+purple “Don’t fucking dare...”] Eris suddenly growled, her eyes still that deep wine red, and her hands reached from her own self to her brethren and took the ceremonial dagger she’d had this whole time and plunged it into Ares’ side. She shoved him back into the others and with a hiss, turned away. A dark funnel of shimmering black fog surrounded Eris and when it cleared in a sudden flash of lightning she was gone. From where he stood Dion screamed at the sky and even Zeus’ own rage could be argued now streaked across the sky in a sudden storm that was striking the island. Even fleeing on boat would be difficult, if not impossible.
Gaius hurried with Kael and Dahlia to the edge of the compound when Dahlia suddenly stopped, unwilling to leave Eris. Gaius too would have liked to go back, and he knew Kael would too. The women had grown on them and they did feel somewhat responsible for this. Well maybe not this event specifically, but for all the rest, yes. Who would have thought the Olympic Pantheon was planning such a vicious uprising? Were they working with the Malumortis to form a coup against humanity and the current Paranormal Government? There were too many questions at the current moment, for Gaius to think too much on them.
They needed to get off the island.
Gaius looked back to see that a group of armed Maenads were running towards them. This was bad, he had to think fast to get them out and prepared himself to unleash his true form, or at least let down a wall or two to fight them off. No matter what Dahlia and the medallion needed to get off the island. The gate was just ahead of them, and Gaius suddenly flashed ahead of Dahlia and Kael with a great shout his monstrous hands turning to flame, and struck a heavy blow to the center where the lock kept them barred. It crumbled and broke, the steel warping from the impact and Gaius ripped one of the doors back. His eyes burned with Hell Fire and his skin had begun to peel charred dark remnants... his demonic form beginning to take shape.
[+gold “Kale, take Dahlia and follow the plan. Get her out of here. We can’t let them have her, or the medallion. I’m going to buy you some time.”] Gaius growled as he hurried towards them and clasped Kael’s shoulder. Gaius didn’t look at him though, his eyes were on the maenads now close enough to start shooting, and he gave Kael a firm push back. [+gold “Go.”] He said simply.
He didn’t look back at Kael or Dahlia... if they did, they would see the awful features he had, the flayed flesh on his skin, the missing half of his face, the way his horns curled menacingly. He was nothing like the night at the Rave, that was his true unleashed form. This was smaller, this was control. His hands grew into blackened claws, razor sharp and catastrophic, and with a menacing smile unleashed wrath on the shooters.
He sprang forward, taking the nearest shooter out. His hand grabbed the man’s face, lighting on fire and flung him into the next two bodies that came at him. Another series of shots came from behind him and one struck his shoulder. He grunted in pain, feeling the acrid burn of a bullet doused in Holy Water. They were clever Maenads. He went to turn on the shooter, but found Eris already had them. Her hand around their neck and staring up at them. They began to scream in terror, and Eris dropped them to the ground.
[#b22222 “More are coming,”] Eris said coming towards him. Gaius blinked, and noticed how quickly she was moving, and without fear or hesitation took his deformed hand and dragged him away, and then quite suddenly -nothing.
He felt his body had collapsed into nothingness and then was brought right back with a vicious snap. He stumbled a bit to see Eris standing on the docks and now facing Dahlia and Kael.
Eris had won over the Goddess with a loose compromise, and while her new features remained, she was the Eris who had brought them here, and the Goddess was now a part of her. She was by no means a Goddess herself, but could call upon the most basics of the Goddess’ powers. Limited, but helpful.
[i [+purple “The power of a God cannot be ruled by a mere mortal. I won’t allow it. I grant you an allowance of my power to keep us alive. If there is such a moment I deem necessary to take over for our survival, you will relinquish your control. Are we in agreement?”]]
Those had been the terms, and Eris stood before Dahlia, hoping for a chance it hell that they could all make it out of here...
Quite frankly Dahlia was not even remotely okay with the idea of leaving Eris behind, however, she was much too scared to voice her opinion on the matter. She was practically clinging to Gaius now, so it felt like whatever small portion of decision making power her vote had was null and void. But she was barely able to worry about that before the maenads that had been bothering the now half out of it Kael were turning their attention on the wrath demon. Her stomach did flips. This was not good. It felt like she was falling, hurdling towards the ground, and her one last safety net, Gaius, had fire licking at the edges. He was shaking, and standing so close to him, she could feel it. Dahlia’s hands gripped all the tighter at his arm and shirt, hoping that there was some way he could fight them off just a little longer. Then bam, like a bolt from the blue there was silence. Even the auras died down for the moment as Eris emerged. However, as the woman came into view, Dahlia’s worst nightmare was basically confirmed. Something was wrong with her friend, very wrong. She was not herself, and Gaius confirmed it. There was a goddess in there and she did not seem all too friendly to the dark eyed woman.
However, the real gravity of all this did not hit until the stranger’s voice came from her friend’s mouth. This other Eris called for her possessively, saying she could protect her, but Dahlia did not like it, not one bit. She came in closer and with a better look at her, it became harder and harder to distinguish her from her Eris. The features were all there, just about; it was just that hair and a few other things. [b “Eris?”] Her voice was shaky coming out, she was crying for what felt like the millionth time these last few days. She felt pitiful.
Dahlia was only able to see it through a teary veil, but there was a split second that Eris, the real one, her Eris, came back. She urged them to leave and without a moment’s hesitation, Gaius obliged her. He scooped up both her and Kael and made a break for it. Despite staying very obviously being the wrong answer, leaving did not sit well with the mortal woman either and she began to squirm as if there was someway she could actually get loose from the golden-eyed man’s grasp. [b “No, no, no, we can’t leave Eris. She is still in there. She needs our help.”] There was some more fruitless struggling and sniveling as they breached the edge of the main compound, before she tried to appeal to the man more directly. [b “Gaius please. I can’t leave Eris behind; she hates it here. She hates it here and she needs me… Please.”] It was a pretty big turn around from how mad she had been at the other woman not more than a couple of hours ago. That all seemed petty now and Dahlia was mad at herself for how she acted.
Given some time with the cacophony of energies ramped down, Kael was beginning to recover. At the very least he thought he would soon be able to handle himself. Especially given the distance they were putting between themselves and the maenads. He did not think any of them would be able to outrun wrath, but if one of those gods decided to give it a try, they might have a problem and a big one. But that was a maybe, the main threat right this second was Dahlia, strangely enough. The way she was begging at Gaius concerned the snake. Sure, he doubted the age old demon would give in, that went doubly so knowing their lives were on the line, but Kael did not really want to risk it. [b “Hey, Dahlia, Dahlia, listen to me.”] His voice was relatively quiet, but he was able to project enough to get the woman’s attention. [b “We can’t afford to get caught right now. If we go back, it is game over, understand? None of us will be able to leave this place. What’s more, if you get stuck there, there’s gonna be no reason for Eris to want to break free. We’ve got to trust her. She is strong, you know that better than anyone, right?”] He was talking her up, but he meant every word of it. Even from just their short acquaintance he knew she was a fighter. Eris wasn’t just going to let someone else have her body; god or not that bitch was in for one hell of a fight.
Somehow, Kael was able to hold the woman’s attention. Probably had something to do with him looking over his glasses and maybe, just maybe, using the tiniest bit of his hypnotic abilities. It was just enough to make her listen, so hopefully Gaius wouldn’t get too mad. Especially since those pleas faded away and her sobbing was dwindling to sniffles as she agreed to trust in Eris’ fighting spirit to get her out of there. With that crisis diverted, the red-eyed man was able to talk to his partner more easily. [b “We just have to make it to port, once there we hijack a boat or I can force someone to help us and we will be out of reach.”] That was probably already Gaius’ plan, but by going through it verbally, Kael was able to show that he was becoming clear of mind once again. And with that clarity he became less useless. It was nice to feel like he wasn’t about to lose control. That being said, he did not let that relief linger just yet. His crimson gaze fell back behind them, scanning every nook and cranny to see if anyone was in pursuit and sure enough there was. [b "Fuck."]
Gaius wasn’t sure how much more Kael could handle, even for himself the energy was suffocating. Dahlia was kept close to his side, and he was all too prepared to take Kael, hoist them both over his shoulders and get the Hell out of there. He doubted they would be stopped, but with Dion aware of Dahlia’s prophetic abilities, he doubted he’d make a clean getaway. The only problem with such a plan, meant Eris was left behind. His more wrathful and vengeful side, blamed her for bringing them here in the first place, and perhaps this was her due reward. Besides, she made it out once before, couldn’t she do it again?
He grit his teeth, hoisting Kael back up to his feet and protecting them as best he could when he noticed that Dion and the upper Echelon of the family remained immune to the energy and intoxication of the space. However, several more Maenads had come closer and this time they seemed more interested in him. Their eyes gleaming and their auras peeling off of them in palpable layers, had Gaius suddenly trembling to hold his own. He felt what they were trying to do... draw his wrath out.
[i “We want to see...”] he heard one hiss.
[i “Such power to be had... won’t you give us some?”] Another asked reaching forward. Gaius stepped back still holding Dahlia and Kael at his side. Eris needed to hurry the hell up....
[+gold “Don’t let go of me, you two... if this gets worse... I am making a break for it, with or without Eris.”] Gaius warned darkly, and with a look Kael would know that Gaius was dead serious.
[b BELOW] in the underground shrine, Eris could feel the effects of the poison. She grew increasingly dizzy and disoriented the further she went. She followed the torch-lit path until she reached a chamber where an ancient tree with golden leaves seemed to illuminate the space. The effects of the poison was making her hallucinate, because she saw a divine feast laid out before the tree which had morphed into a garden in the clouds, but one item captivated her attention the most and it was being offered by a familiar hand. A Golden Apple sat in the hand of her very own doppelgänger. The woman before her looked identical to Eris in all features except the dark abyss of her own eyes, and the length of her hair which cascaded to her hips like a sheet of black silk. There was a terrifying aura about the creature, absolute chaos swirled in her black eyes, and before Eris could reach for the apple the doppelgänger crushed it in her palm.
[i [+purple “It is time for us to wake up... We have work to do...”]]
Eris backed away and stumbled in her drugged state, uncertain about the reflection she was seeing. There was something dangerous about her that paralleled Gaius’ darkness.
[#b22222 “W-who are you?”]
[i [+purple “You already know the answer. Afterall, you are my aptly named vessel.”]] She smirked wickedly, a finger caressing Eris’ cheek. [i [+purple “For too long they’ve left you ignorant, longing for a future we’re we are not returned. Their tradition forces them to allow this meeting. Every one hundred years a Maenad is born with the ability to channel all energy, including godly power... Each one is perfectly wired to fit a single God inside it. You see, we do not have corporeal forms of our own... so vessels are needed. That’s what you were born for. For me. It’s my turn to walk among the lore and do my part in the coming war. You sense it don’t you? Factions of Lore are about to collide, and the Gods are moving the pieces. There are no coincidences Eris, you have in your possession a very valuable medallion. You carry our Ally. Not only that... you have the Oracle. You are a dutiful avatar. Together we will wreak such Chaos the world has never before seen...No other God will hold us down again.”]] The dark reflection of Eris grabbed her face and pried her mouth open. [i [+purple “Now open wide...”]] She cooed, and against Eris’ will, the doppelgänger turned into a dark purple miasma and funneled its way into Eris.
Gaius’ legs were shaking, the pressure being pushed on him was intense. He felt he might buckle soon, when it suddenly seemed to snap and everything was dead silent. The maenads suddenly paused in all their exploits and turned towards the stone that began to shift away. Sweat on his brow, Gaius looked towards the shifting stone and watched just as entranced as everyone else when Eris rose from the darkness. He gasped, his body tensing as he looked upon her. It was not the Eris they had sent down into those depths....
The wreath in her hair that was now decayed wasn’t the only thing strange and off. Her hair was now a long curtain of black, and her eyes were a deeper red wine, her nails were long and sharp like claws. Wine red lips smirked wickedly against porcelain skin. The Maenads lowered to their knees except the Elders who greeted Eris with a olive branch.
[b “So you have returned...”] Eris grinned at Dion and looked about at her equals.
[+purple “Dionysus, Hera, Ares... are you all there are?”]
[+red “For tonight,”] One of the men said, the one Eris had called Ares. He was tall, muscled, handsome, and fierce. They might have been called elders, but those who had the spirit of a God in them, did not age past a certain point. Ares would always be in his peak physical shape. [+red “All that are needed are here. Others are scattered tending their own subordinates.”] Eris seemed pleased to hear that and she finally looked over her shoulder towards Gaius, Dahlia and Kael. Gaius wore a look of shock and one that wished what Eris was now... was not true.
He pulled Dahlia and Kael closer, nervously stepping back, as Eris turned to face them, her look stoic if not dangerous and approached them.
[+gold “I don’t think that’s our Eris anymore...”] Gaius murmured. [+gold “I think it’s... the Eris, Goddess of Discord and Chaos.”] Hearing him, Eris smirked, a blatant confirmation.
[+purple “You’re a quick one, Wrath. Now hand over my dear Dahlia. She’s very important to me. I can keep her safe...”] Eris cooed, still approaching, her hand reaching for Dahlia. Gaius grit his teeth, backing away further, but one word from Dahlia had Eris suddenly tensing, her eyes going from hazy to clear. Their Eris was fighting her namesake to protect Dahlia.
[#b22222 “G-go...”] Eris grit to him, and Gaius nodded. Yes, Eris escapade once, he had faith she would do it again...
[+gold “Quickly!”] he shouted to Dahlia and Kael, grabbing them and running.
Dahlia took the offered arm with little thought or hesitation. Had she not been so focused on getting this over with and getting out of this place she might have enjoyed his company on this pleasant little stroll. Surely it would have stood out against her earlier walk by herself. Even without all the flowers, walking with a handsome man had its own charm, but unfortunately, she was too absorbed in her worries about the future and her friend to pay any real mind to it. She didn’t even really notice the glares when they came into fancily decorated garden, though that was in part due to Gaius who guided them away. But mostly Dahlia was content to look over to the area that seemed to be the center of this celebration and what would likely turn out to be the stage of whatever ceremony was to take place. Another source of anxiety for her. The petite woman was beginning to understand more and more just what Eris had meant when she called her family a cult.
After what felt like a long while, things got started, but they did not get any better. All the lofty words and toting around of that dagger only had Dahlia all the more tense. She did not like this one bit. Organized religion usually got her jittery like this, things like churches and such, but this was just close enough to have her on edge. She found herself creeping closer to Gaius to be on the safe side. Strange that she felt more comfortable in the presence of a demon as opposed to these people. He calmed her a bit, which was doubly weird since he was supposed to be an entity of wrath and anger.
As soon as Eris was out of sight, the atmosphere ramped up to eleven. It was a more intense version of how Eris got when she drank wine… which made sense now. But this was like there was a bunch of her and it was a lot. Trying to take it all in, or rather push it all out, she was nearly run over by a pack of maenads running by to join some of the others rutting about on the ground. Gaius managed to stop her from falling flat on her face. [b “Thank you.”] Her voice was soft as she instinctively took another step closer to the man. This whole thing was terribly uncomfortable. When was Eris going to be back? Dahlia hoped it would be soon, and she hoped she would be as she remembered.
Kael was doing all right at first. There were a couple of suspect glances coming from the aunts and other attendees of this party, but for the most part they were all leaving him alone while he waited for the others. This also gave him time to look over things. Eventually things got on and the party got started. And one hell of a party it was. Kael had been to his fair share of less than appropriate social events, but this was on another level. The whole atmosphere was something else. It ramped up and up and eventually it was starting to get to him. Around that time a trio circled around him, the snake began to think he might be in trouble. He was able to bat off that other lady before, but with the current ambiance and there being three of them, he was going to have a harder time of it. Their auras flared around him and it had his head euphorically hazy. If it weren’t for Gaius jumping in and saving his ass, he wasn’t sure what he would have done.
Red eyes glinting up at the taller demon’s in thanks, Kael staggered every so slightly as he was brought in next to his partner. It was currently difficult for him to keep attention on his surroundings. Perhaps if they weren’t in a den of lions it might have been pleasant, but knowing they were one misstep from being in big trouble kept his wits about him. At least a little bit. [b “I don’t know if I am going to be able to hold form.”] His words were slightly slurred as he spoke. For now he was stable enough, but if it got any worse there was a chance Kael was going to lose it and revert. And unfortunately it wouldn’t be to his true form like Gaius had done some day’s prior. It would be to a third weaker form, which was liable to leave him helpless in a place like this.
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