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Watching Cornelius get one hundred and ten percent shut down by Eris was about the best thing Kael had witnessed in his entire life. He even had to cover a smile when his brother looked back to him. But the action didn’t hide much, especially not from Cornelius’ keen eyes. The older male had been expecting something to this capacity when he heard his brother was dragging around a couple of mortals with him. So in the end it didn’t really matter.
Eris was cementing herself a place in his heart. The fondness was regrettable, but not because she was human. To him it was a matter of bad timing. With the situation being what it was. Any attempting to woo her would likely fall flat. Both because she was super on guard to everything the demons were doing, and it would make him feel like he was preying on someone who was stuck with no other options. Not exactly the type of character he wanted to peg himself as. For the time being he would focus on keeping everyone alive and maybe afterward he would stand a chance. If he was lucky.
When Cornelius was finished neither of the girls seemed to be particularly enamored with him, which was a good. There was no telling how Gaius would have reacted if Dahlia had shown interest in his brother. Although the situation still deteriorated when Eris and Gaius started to interact with one another. Getting anything done with those two together was going to be a challenge. Kael wasn’t looking forward to it, especially now that they would have to wait for Gaius to calm down before they went to LA.
Cornelius was surprised when Gaius pulled him into the fray. But he was more surprised at Eris’ moxie. He kept quiet. There wasn’t a reason for him to pick a side, and that seemed to be the same sentiment that the others were taking. Both Kael and the other human were silent as the more fiery pair went back and forth. Although Kael seemed to be growing irritated in his silence.
As for Dahlia she was anxious. Their dependency on these men was far too great for this. Not to mention the subject matter was something that worried her daily. One day Eris was going to get herself into trouble with that mouth, regardless of whether or not what she said was warranted. However, the incident passed quickly as the wrath demon removed himself from the situation. With him gone, she was free to turn to her friend with a disapproving expression. As Eris quickly worked to half-heartedly sooth her friend’s frustrations, the shorter woman accepted it with a sigh. After all, Eris hadn’t been the one to start the fight. But that left her painfully aware of the disparity between how Gaius treated the two of them. For the time being she would chalk it up to their strong personalities clashing. She didn’t have the energy to think about it any further than that.
Pushing up his glasses, Kael turned to Eris in order to answer her question. [b “Well, the plan was originally to go straight to Los Angles then make a run to get some things for the two of you. But now we have to wait for Gaius to chill before we move.”] The red-eyed man wasn’t about to be the one to push Gaius’ buttons any further. [b “Until then you could probably make a list of the things you want. Once we get over there and it is dark, I can go and grab it all.”] There was a chance they would want to go as well, but he hoped they would just let it go. Even if it is safer across the country there was still a chance they could run into problems. And if that happened it would be easier to move without hauling the women along.
Just as Kael was about to ask them to be as specific as possible, Cornelius butted in. [b “You really expect them to let [I you] pick out their clothes?”]
Staring at the other man exacerbated, Kael almost didn’t respond, but the expression on his brother’s face got under his skin. [b “What’s so bad about that?”]
To that it seemed that Cornelius had nothing to say, he just looked his younger sibling up and down before dropping it. Kael really wanted to smack him upside the head. He was so anal about the stupidest things.
Despite all the stress that had led up to that moment, Kael was finally able to relax. Having real security measures around helped see to that. Flopping on the couch, he took in the familiar layout. The place was set up like an apartment. It was spacious, at least more so than the hotel suit they had been in. All the safe houses were configured the same. So the next place would be identical to this one. And even though they would have traveled thousands of miles, it would feel as though they hadn’t gone anywhere.
Time passed relatively quickly there until Gaius emerged once again. With that Kael stood from his position on the couch. [b “Now that everyone is present, we can move on.”] With his words he motioned for everyone to follow him.
Walking down the hall, the carpet seemed to muffle everything. It was a great contrast to the hallway outside where everything reverberated. The dark haired demon corralled everyone into the final room. Flipping the lights on, the incandescent illumination fell on barren décor. Etched into the floor was an intricate series of circles. Archaic writing twisted around the shapes, seeming to pull them all together. This was how Cornelius had entered. The faint impression of ancient magic clung to the air.
[b “Everyone on the sigil.”] The mortals seemed hesitant so, Kael made sure to explain as he went along. [b “We are going to be traveling by lay line. Cornelius and I will activate it and we will be in LA nearly instantly. It’s old but reliable magic.”] Getting in position he signaled for his brother to wait. [b “Teleportation can be rough on the body. There is a chance you two will feel sick after this, but it won’t be anything too serious.”] Kael could remember his first time doing this; his stomach was upset for a few hours. His guess was it would be worse for humans, but there was no saying for certain. [b “Alright, here we go.”]
Kneeling down, the pair dragged their claws across their palms. The slow oozing blood was quickly pressed to the markings below. First the symbols began to glow, and then they were set in motion. Dancing about the floor the bright red glowing of the seal grew more and more intense until it was blinding white. Then there was darkness.
Gripping her arm tightly, Dahlia clung to Eris. No amount of explaining would do away with the fear she felt. Instead she would have to grin and bear it alongside her friend. A lot happened after they activated the seal, but there was hardly enough time to take it in. Not to mention her eyes were glued shut once the symbols started jumping about. It was pitch black up until someone hit the light switch. Dahlia wasn’t entirely sure who turned it on, because just as she went to check, it hit her. An intense wave of vertigo, almost like she just stepped off a record-breaking inversion coaster. The prickling sensation converged at her stomach. Falling to her knees she was trying desperately to hold down her breakfast. A feat she barely managed.
With nothing more to do, and an understanding that even if Eris and Dahlia couldn’t get their story out through their outlets, at least it might help Kael and Gaius’ world reclaim some semblance of sanity. Eris didn’t argue with Kael or Gaius about the possibilities, she was too busy watching Gaius more than graciously relinquish his coat for Dahlia. At her request he took it from her hands and held it up for her to wear.
“I should think you may borrow it as many times as you like. Why don’t you keep this until we can find you some new clothes?” He offered draping it over her shoulders and offering her a genteel grin. Kael made mention that Central Park was their goal for the time being, and Gaius opened the door for them to leave.
Eris exited the room after Kael and before Dahlia and Gaius, who took up the rear. She didn’t doubt for a moment that there wasn’t danger lurking around the corner. Kael had said it best: Humans generally didn’t leave this place once they entered. Which begged the question as to how the woman at the front desk survived this place. They didn’t make it to the stairwell when Eris saw a shadow move out of the corner of her eye. She jumped back, hand reaching to the waistband of her pants for her gun to stop whoever was reaching for her, when surprisingly Kael intervened. Her heart was pounding in her chest, and her eyes were wild with shock. The Vampire had reached for her, was still salivating at the mouth for her blood when Kael began to draw blood himself and issued a stern warning.
[b “If I ever so much as see you again, you’re dead. Got it?”] The Vampire got it, alright, and he took off as fast as he could the moment Kael let him go. Eris was able to gently sigh, letting go of some of the tension that had accumulated in her body. She looked to Dahlia who she was pleased to see was guarded protectively by Gaius. He had drawn her into his chest firmly with one arm around her and the other had drawn a silver dagger. ERis could only wonder where that had come from.
[b “Are you okay?”] The question caught her off guard and she looked at Kael uncertain, but managed a nod of her head.
“Yeah, I’m good.”
Gaius had his own concerns when the Vampire showed himself, and had quickly shielded Dahlia against his chest and was ready to stake the bastard if it came near her. His wrath had begun to uncoil dangerously, hungry to inflict damage to whoever dared to threaten his treasure. Pleased that Dahlia was well, and that Kael was quick to react, Gaius was able to relax somewhat, but he wouldn’t be able to relax until they made it to the safe house. From there it was underground to the subway, which left for a mostly uneventful leg of their trip. There was one rather desolate homeless man who had reached towards Dahlia asking for change. Gaius had to restrain himself from kicking the man back, but surprisingly, Dahlia’s compassion for the man touched him. Between Dahlia and Eris, they dug into their pockets and gave the man a few crumpled dollars. Everything they had left, and in return he blessed them and thanked them. Eris surprisingly shook his hand and gave the man a firm squeeze to his shoulder and told him: “Stay warm, brother.” Gaius found that interesting as he did not peg Eris as the compassionate sort, unless it had to do with Dahlia, but it appeared the two of them were more complex than what he was seeing on the surface.
The winter sun was bright and intense as it beamed down, that it was hard to believe that it was supposed to snow, or that it was only 30 degrees. The bright sun allowed for plenty of dark shadows to be cast and sure enough a figure was hiding in one, and Kael had seen it too. Together they kept their eyes open and made quick work to enter an old stone office building. Clearly built just before the Great Depression, like most things Loreans used. The Buildings were generally condemned and outdated, which made for a good cover as Mortals never used the buildings. Kael led the way, while Gaius ensured no one followed from behind and made sure every door they passed through was locked when he closed it.
“Just where are we going?” Eris eventually asked as they entered into a pitch black stairwell.
“Patience,” Gaius answered simply as the heavy door slammed shut behind him and shrouded them in darkness. “Ms. Dahlia,” He murmured taking her hand gently in his own. It was so small in comparison to his own, not including his claws. “Allow me to help you,” He said and helped her navigate the dark hall just as Kael helped Eris, who begrudgingly accepted his help.
From there it was up to Kael to get them through the security protocols, but when the second door began to open on its own, Gaius tensed and Kael stepped froward away from Eris, but Gaius was there to cull her back to safety with him, so Kael could confront whoever had broken into their safe house. Except it was no invader, it was: “Cornelius?” Gaius questioned softly, but at Eris and Dahlia’s confused look, he simply ushered them into the safety of the hideout while Kael and the newcomer bickered about family and logistics.
[b “Gaius.”] the man greeted. Gaius simply gave a nod of his head, and his general cold stare. He then turned his attention to Eris and Dahlia and apologized with a scripted statement, which Eris clearly wasn’t buying.
“That’s nice, so who are you?” Eris asked coldly and without care.
[b “I am Cornelius Neu, Kael’s older brother. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” He reached for her hand and Eris reach out with an intent to shake his hand, but he turned her wrist and kissed her knuckles, which caused Eris to arch a brow and wrinkle her nose.
“Ummm okay,” he winked at her then and Eris’ face twisted once more into grossed out confusion, and she subtly wiped her hand off on her pants. Gaius found it rather amusing that Eris was completely immune to Cornelius’ charm and manners. However, when he reached for Dahlia’s hand and kissed it, and she introduced herself, he felt himself take a steady breath, and his eyes gleamed dangerously in warning to Cornelius. The two women were oblivious to the subtle irritation in Gaius, but Cornelius saw it, which meant he was bound to figure out what Kael had not yet figured out himself, and what Gaius was refusing to let happen…
“Anyway,” Eris began and motioned towards her friend. “This is Dahlia, and I’m Eris. You the guy I’m supposed to talk to about getting us out of this mess?”
“Wouldn't be a mess if you’d just handed over the Medallion in the first place,” Gaius stated from behind her. Eris looked ready to murder him, but instead gave him a scathing look.
“Well excuse me for not allowing myself to be robbed at 3 in the morning in a back alleyway by two random creeps,” She spat back. Gaius curled his lip in irritation but instead of snapping back at her he looked at Cornelius. It seemed Eris was bouncing back to her same irritating self.
“As you can see this Mortal doesn’t have an air of caution or care when dealing with our kind, and is rather mouthy.”
“I don’t care for thieving scum is more like it,”
“You stole the Medallion first!”
“Um, no. Remember? That little shit stole it from Hade’s kid first? We just happened to find where he hid it, you tried to steal it,” she corrected with an impish grin. Gaius wanted the throttle her, it was clear those two were not likely to get along anytime soon.
“Your mouth is going to seriously-“
“What? Get me hurt?” Eris challenged back and scoffed. “Tell my something I don’t already know.”
“Are you crazy or something?” Gaius asked incredulously.
“I prefer the term Mentally Unstable.” At her comment Gaius looked to Cornelius.
“I give you the most irritating Mortal you will ever meet,” He spat and stepped away from them to collect his temper. “Must have a fucking death wish…” He growled storming past Kael and his brother to find a back room and steal a moment of privacy to collect himself.
Eris watched him go with disdain, but it was Dahlia’s expression that had her stopping. Gaius’ attentions to Dahlia hadn’t gone unnoticed by the overprotective friend. She’d be damned if she let Gaius get too close to Dahlia and do something unforgivable. He was a demon, they both were and while they said they wouldn’t hurt them; Eris couldn’t shake the feeling they were in a lion’s den.
“Sorry,” She shrugged towards Dahlia, though it was clear she wasn’t entirely sorry. “He’s just too easy to get riled up,” she explained. “So what do we do now? Dahlia and I can’t really move anywhere until we get some clothes and toiletries and it’s not like we can go back home, even if I give you the medallion now.’ ‘Eris was still kicking herself for not giving it up now. Maybe then they wouldn’t be in this mess.
[b “Well, yeah. Humans who come in here generally don’t come back out…”] The way he said it didn’t sound like he was trying to alarm them, but Dalia felt that way all the same. Especially since these probably weren’t your average young adult novel vampires they were dealing with. These were the real dangerous deal. And she didn’t want anything to do with it.
The petite woman watched as her friend stomached the information along with her breakfast. Eris clearly wasn’t happy about this, but she ceded to it all the same. She even went as far to hand back the medallion they had been guarding. Dahlia wasn’t sure if this was a show of trust or if she was just that worn down, but she felt bad for her friend. She must have been at her wits end.
Eris’ comment about the story made Dahlia smile. She wasn’t sure if the play on words was intentional, but it was incredibly fitting for what they were going through. Now more than ever she was kicking herself for not having her camera. At least then they would have some semblance of proof, even if everyone tried to debunk it. Sighing, she knew she was going to regret not having it for the rest of her life. Even if that wasn’t very long.
Listening as Gaius and Eris went back and forth again, Kael was glad that this time it was somewhat civil. Although he was surprised that after all of this she was still planning to get a story out. If nothing else she was tenacious, but he seriously doubted they would get away with trying to market these happenings to humanity. They wouldn’t be believed, and if for some reason they were, there were plenty of officials dedicated to putting a stop to it. After millennia of keeping things under wraps, demons had gotten pretty good at making sure the general human public was ignorant to their existence. But it did get him thinking. [b “You know, you probably won’t be able to get this out on your side, but it might just be beneficial to document things for ours.”] At the moment, the demon populace was being fed lies. Uncovering that would create more unrest. With that came a demand for the truth that would put their enemy at a disadvantage.
Glad that a consensus had been reached, Kael clapped his hands together. [b “We can talk that possibility out later, for now we need to get the ball rolling.”] Looking toward the door he had no doubt that the vampire was still lurking about. So long as he hadn’t brought any friends they wouldn’t have an issue… probably.
[b “Grab anything you think we will need. We won’t be coming back.”] As he spoke, Kael replaced the ball cap on his head and hung the sunglasses from his shirt collar. He wouldn’t need them quite yet. Aside from those things and Eve everything he had at the hotel was expendable. The mortals hadn’t really brought much of anything, so they were good to go, it came down to Gaius who he didn’t expect to take long. He was efficient.
Dahlia wasn’t looking forward to going back outside. While leaving was the best option, it was also the dead of winter. It was freezing. Glancing back to the coat she had borrowed from Gaius before she wondered if he would be opposed to her using it again. [b “Um… Would you mind if I borrowed this one more time?”] She pointed to the black article.
Soon things were in order and all four of them were ready. Standing at the door, Kael took up the lead. [b “We are heading towards central park. Should anything separate us, we meet there before going forward.”] Looking across everyone’s faces to see they understood he nodded and opened the door.
The immediate hall was clear, so he moved without hesitation but his guard was sky high. Kael wanted to get this over with, but he made sure not to walk too fast. The girl’s had shorter legs and he didn’t want to wear them out in case they had to make a break for it. An occasion that came quicker than expected, as they rounded the corner the bloodsucker was indeed lying in wait. He sprung forward at Eris, but the snake demon was quicker by far. His crushing grip squeezed at the vamp’s forearm, holding it in place with fingers just dangling out of reach of the woman’s shoulder.
The red-eyed man’s other hand came up around the inferior creature’s throat, nails digging in. [b “You are a thousand years too early to take anything from me.”] His voice was low, the words almost a growl. Fear sparked in the light haired vampire’s eyes as he spouted something about neutral territory. Kael nearly laughed in his face. [b “That was out the window as soon as you made the first move.”] That caused the leech to backtrack significantly. He started apologizing and blubbering for his life. It was truly pathetic. Sighing, Kael dug his claws in a little deeper. Deep red blood flowed slowly from the indentations onto his fingers. [b “If I ever so much as see you again, you’re dead. Got it?”] That seemed to be enough for the frightened monster. Dropping him, he skittered off down the hall lightning fast. Kael was left shaking the gore from his fingertips. The blood of the undead always reeked.
Turning back to Eris he asked, [b “Are you okay?”] He knew the guy hadn’t physically touched her, but the encounter still might have shaken her up. Once he knew she was good to go, which was for some reason important to him, they carried on. There were no more encounters to be had in the hotel, not even Zenya at her desk.
Before breaking out into daylight, Kael exchanged glasses. The darker ones protected his eyes from the direct light of the sun, at least to some extent. One thing they didn’t help with was blending in. To be frank he and Gaius stuck out like a pair of sore thumbs. A combination of how tall they were with the fact that they were the only two in the entire state of New York wearing sunglasses in midwinter made sure of that.
That being said no one gave them more than a passing glance, everyone was too busy to care about people being strange. Of course this worked to their advantage. What Kael wasn’t looking forward to was the shuttle ride. Jumping across rooftops was too conspicuous for broad daylight, so they had to travel like mortals. The thought of being trapped in a tin can underground was not appealing when they might have people tailing them. Despite his worries it wasn’t until they got off the subway that he started to sense something was off. Keeping collected he looked about to notice a small, thin figure in the shadows. Falling back some he matched stride with Gaius.
[b “We’re being watched, looks like it is just a scout, but keep on your toes.”] Unless he moved on them, they would continue as planned. For now it didn’t matter if they followed them; they wouldn’t be able to trace them after the warp. Kael kept that in mind as they came up on the main street adjacent to the massive park. They came up on an office building. It wasn’t particularly tall, but it was a touch menacing. It was the sort of place you didn’t expect to see people coming in or out of on a daily basis. However, inside there wasn’t much of anything. It was vacant and looked as though it hadn’t been touched in years. Just as well, as it probably hadn’t.
Leading the small crowd to the door that led to the stairwell, Kael tested it, but it didn’t budge. Whether it was locked or broken, he didn’t know, but he kicked it with enough force to break it from the top hinge. Holding it open, he let everyone else pass. [b “We’re headed for the bottom floor.] With that he slammed the thing back in place. If anyone tried to open it after them, they would hear it.
Taking up the rear now, the dark haired man kept looking back over his shoulder as they descended two floors underground. There laid a set of metal double door, he signaled for them to push through to the hall beyond them. There were no more lights at that point. It was pitch black. He and Gaius could see but Kael was certain the human’s could not. Coming up next to Eris, he grabbed her hand and brought it to his sleeve. [b “Hold on to me so you don’t trip.”]
The corridor went on for ages, and placed them right beneath the park itself. When it came to an end, he found what they were looking for. A keypad on the wall, deftly he typed in a long string of numbers. When he was through, a heavy sound of machinery came form behind the wall. Shortly after it began sliding to the side. A bright light shone through the opening causing him to squint. Kael entered first and urged the others to follow.
As soon as they were all in the alcove, he pressed a button on the wall and the door began to close. Once they were sealed in it was time for the biometrics on the opposite wall, but before he could engage them the secondary door began to open on its own. There was someone inside. Kael wasn’t sure how they got there, but he was ready to rip someone’s throat out by the time the door was wide enough for him to fit through. Rushing in he went straight for the control panel inside. It wasn’t far. There he found someone he wasn’t expecting, and while he wasn’t a threat, Kael wasn’t particularly happy to see him either. [b “What in the hell are you doing here?”]
The dark chocolate brunette looked similar to Kael, the most notable feature being their matching red eyes. [b “Is that any way to greet family?”] The man sighed. [b “Mother was worried, so I came to help out. Besides that, did you really think you would be able to transport four people on your own?”]
Cornelius made sure to greet the others as they appeared. [b “Gaius.”] He spoke the name with a smile and nod; he didn’t bother giving his own name here as they had met before albeit only in passing. The older Neu brother worked under Atlas’ administration just like his father. However Cornelius had been set in charge of demon affairs in Europe instead of the main office. And while he generally dressed the part for such a job, he wore informal clothes at the time being. That being said, the outfit itself accompanied by his horn-rimmed glasses made him look like a hipster.
From there he turned to the ladies, who he paid more attention to. [b “I’m sorry you two were dragged into this mess. We going to our best to get you back to your everyday lives as soon as possible.”] It was a very scripted comment, to be expected from someone so deeply dredged in politics. With that out of the way he introduced himself properly. [b “I am Cornelius Neu, Kael’s older brother. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”] One at a time he took their hands, kissing them lightly. A greeting he held onto even though it had become somewhat old fashioned.
The man took note of the other’s reactions as he interacted with the mortals. He had been expecting to ruffle Kael, even going as far to wink at Eris when he saw his brother stiffen. Kael had always been the type to flock towards humans; it was Gaius that surprised him. The situation was definitely not what he was expecting, but it was what it was.
It was the smell of coffee that eventually woke her up. Not the night terrors, Eris could vaguely remember if she’d even had one, or what it was about. They happened in times of great stress, and when she clearly wasn’t taking care of herself. She honestly could have kept sleeping but nothing woke her up faster than the smell of coffee. It was startling to wake up in a bed not her own, and as she looked around she asked herself: What the fuck…
The room was impersonal, with little to no decor to leave a clue as to who lived here. There were no photos, no trinkets, just a carving in the door frame full of glyphs and symbols Eris couldn’t make out. She had to think back to the night before to remember what had happened. Curious to affirm she wasn’t dreaming about jumping rooftops, freaks with fangs, or demonic shit; she reached into her coat pocket and felt cold steel. Slowly she removed her Ruger .35 from her pocket and groaned. It was the only firearm Eris owned, and she’d only fired it at the shooting range when she got it. From there it had sat in her room as a last line of defense, and for the years she’d had it she never reached for it until last night. She knew if she’d grabbed the Ruger, things were as fucked up as she feared they were. Quietly she put her shoes on, dressed as best she could and checked the safety before slipping the gun into the back waistband of her jeans.
Not sure what was behind that door, Eris slowly pushed it open with one hand hovering over her back to grab her gun if needed. Except it wasn’t needed as Dahlia was there with a mug of coffee, and what looked like French Toast. Eris instantly relaxed, but said nothing as she took the food and coffee. She silently followed Dahlia back into the familiar living room, and the events of last night solidified in her mind. It had happened, and it wasn’t a bad dream.
She sat down on the couch and glanced at the clock, and was shocked to see it was almost 3pm. Red was the one to do most of the talking. Eris simply ate for the sake of eating. All the while she listened without comment what was said. They had a plan and a lead, but it involved traveling to LA. NYC wasn’t safe anymore. Obviously. Eris knew they couldn’t stay, but before neither Dahlia or Eris had anywhere to go. They wanted to leave as soon as possible, preferably while there was still daylight. Eris could feel them all glancing at her, waiting, expecting a reaction of some kind… but Eris didn’t have the energy and instead sat there mulling over there words with a vacant expression and chewed mindlessly on her french toast. It was good. The coffee sucked, but Dahlia’s cooking was always superb. The woman could make anything out of nothing, and Eris had always found that an impressive talent. Considering, the only thing Eris was good at cooking was ramen noodles and well… coffee.
Before Eris could even form a thought to voice her opinion, a knock on the door had everyone tensing. Eris gripped her Fork tighter in her hand, ready to stab any creature threatening to come near her or Dahlia. Kael was the one to answer the room and Gaius had even moved to act as a second line of defense. Eris couldn’t make out much, but when Kael closed the door he cursed, [b “Lazy fucking leeches.”]
The demon didn’t bother to sit back down as she watched him rejoin the group. Even Gaius remained standing, and it made Eris uncomfortable. When he said leech… did he mean Vampires? Eris had no choice but to accept that. As it stood, stranger things had happened. He commented about how they needed to leave because they drew too much attention and Eris only shook her head.
“You mean, [i we] are drawing too much attention,” She said motioning to herself and Dahlia. “I don’t imagine humans are common occupants in this hotel.” She looked down at her half eaten plate of food and frowned, her short dark hair fell in her face and it was obvious she was fighting with herself to say what she was about to say. It was evident enough by how she seemed ready to bend her fork in half.
Finally she heaved a shaky breath and looked back at both of the demons before her. “I don’t want to go to LA, but I know the city isn’t safe for us right now… and all over this piece of junk.” She reached into her pocket and removed the medallion and looked it over, before she carelessly tossed it towards the coffee table. It landed with a soft clink against the wood.
“You realize it’s too late to relinquish that now, yes?” Gaius asked her. Eris glared at him.
“I’m aware. The damage is done and whether we want to be involved or not, we are now.” Gaius reached down for the coin and held it back out towards Eris.
“Then you realize that you both are now responsible for helping us fix things,” Eris reached out for the medallion, but held Gaius’ hand firm.
“Then you also realize that it’s now your responsibility to keep us alive long enough to get our story out. That’s what all of this is for.”
“No one will believe you,” Gaius warned. Eris glared back.
“Perhaps, but there are those who will believe and if not…” Eris looked to Dahlia then with a sad almost defeated expression. “At least it will be one hell of a story.”
Dahlia listened intently as Gaius told her what he thought the future held for the lot of them. It made her uneasy. LA was on the opposite side of the country. The thought of being so far from home was concerning. Not to mention she wasn’t sure how Eris was going to react to this news of them being dragged around. While there was a chance that she would be okay, or at the very least willing, to go, it was slim. Despite all this there was something inside her that made her trust in Gaius. Like if they stuck around him they might make it out of this. But then again she might just have been naïve. You kind of had to be to trust a demon, right? Either way, she wanted to sit down and talk to Eris about it properly when she woke.
If that hadn’t been surprising enough, now he was helping her make something to eat. The kitchen wasn’t particularly big, but it didn’t feel awkward. With the few ingredients there were she was able to throw together some basic French toast. Plus the strawberries would be good on top since they were missing syrup or anything else you would normally put on there. All the while she was working, she kept looking over to the demon that seemed to be content cutting the little red fruit. Maybe he was particularly fond of cooking? Dahlia was glad for the help, but found it odd that she was getting used to his presence so readily.
In the quiet, she found her mind wandering. It kept drifting back to a short while ago. Gaius had called her his flower. There was a lot going on so she hadn’t had to time to think about it properly, but now that things had calmed down she was dwelling on it. What a strange thing for him to say, but in the end she chalked it up to being the way he spoke. Kind of like how some people said hon, or sweetie a lot. The woman didn’t think it suited him, but to be fair she also didn’t know anything about him.
In the midst of taking one of the slices of toast from the pan, a familiar groan came from down the hall. It was a sound the petite woman knew well. Immediately dropping what she was doing, she bolted to the back room where Eris was. Her friend was engrossed in a night terror. At her side as fast as she could manage, Dahlia cradled her friend. Cooing at her to lull her out of her sleep. [b “Shh, shh, it’s okay… I’m here.”] The petite woman’s voice stayed quiet as not to elicit any more fear from Eris. Dahlia knew full well that it was usually unwise to wake a person this entrenched in a nightmare, but she couldn’t bear to see her in such a state. That being what it was, Dahlia had taken her fair share of hits doing this, however this time she was lucky.
When she woke, she cried and Dahlia held on to her tightly until she could fall back into a more restful sleep. Even when the dark eyed woman knew that her friend was asleep, she stayed a bit longer to gently pat and stroke her head. A comforting gesture that she couldn’t be sure would make it though while she dreamed. With that she silently returned to the door where Gaius was waiting.
[b “Everything alright?”]
Looking up to the tall man, his eyes glowed, a mesmerizing liquid gold standing out from the dim lit hall. Stopping a moment, she hadn’t expected him to ask. [b “Uh, yeah, this just kind of happens every once in a while.”] It was more likely when she was stressed, but that didn’t really matter. Dahlia would just need to be sure to be around when Eris slept. Just in case. [b “…Everything is going to be fine.”] The comment was more to convince herself than anything else.
Headed back to the kitchen, she paused again to see Kael standing at the end of the hall. His eyes gleamed as well, but not as brilliantly. Darkness was going to take some getting used to with these guys around. [b “She is okay.”] She repeated what she had said for the dark haired man. He turned back to whatever he had been doing with a nod after that.
Upon hearing the screaming coming from across the hotel room, Kael was at his feet with heart pounding. Before he could move the other mortal was already running to the back. Wanting to know what the hell was going on he followed, but kept some space. Curiosity pasted him there until Dahlia returned to confirm things were going to be okay. Relieved, he released all the tension that he didn’t know he had been holding onto with a sigh. Walking back to his chair, his heart rate was still slightly accelerated. The incident had stirred him up more than expected. The man wasn’t sure if it was the paranoia that someone had gotten in or the fact that he hadn’t been expecting to see Eris so shaken. He had a feeling that it was the latter, and it made him want to look after her a little closer.
Things calmed own after that. There wasn’t a whole lot for Kael to do until they were all up and ready to talk things out, but he did find himself looking back to the pair in the kitchenette. It was almost unnerving to see Gaius playing house like that. And what’s more he seemed to be enjoying it. At the very least he lacked the irritated expression that he donned for most activities. Whatever was going on there was getting out of hand. The snake demon wasn’t one to judge for most things, but this was not the time. It also wasn’t the time to bring it up, so he stayed silent.
A few more hours would pass before Dahlia resorting to making coffee in hopes that the aroma would rouse Eris. That’s what worked at home. The scheme seemed to do the trick here as well, because sleeping beauty was up shortly after. The petite woman didn’t ambush her immediately. Letting Eris wake up before bringing her a cup of the cheap hotel coffee and reheated stack of French toast.
Soon enough everyone was situated in the living area again and they could talk business. Kael led the conversation, as he wanted to get out of here as soon as possible. [b “We’ve got a more concrete plan…”] Three fourths of them already knew that, but he decided to start from the top for Eris’ sake. And so he faced her directly. She still looked tired. Once again he felt guilty for being one of the main reasons this was happening to her. [b “I got ahold of my people, things are pretty much what we suspected last night. Top brass is in an uproar, but we managed to find a lead.”] The man pushed up his glasses at his nose. [b “However, said lead is in LA.”] Kael treaded carefully here. Having this turn into a fiery mess first thing was not what he wanted. [b “Basically there is a more secure location nearby that we can use to get us out of town. New York City is a liability for all of us. Leaving will throw our pursuers off. We will have more freedom to plan and move… The situation may not be ideal for you, but it is the safest option, especially since we cannot tell how much longer we will be secure here.”] The red-eyed man was trying his best to frame it in a positive light and intentionally left out the option that the ladies could split off from them. Gaius had done a good enough job driving that home the night before. No need to go back to old bouts.
[b “I think it would be wise to leave as soon as possible. Daylight is going to allow us some cover. We should be able to move as one unit that way.”] That was beneficial for more than one reason. One, they could break off later if needed, and two, Kael would certainly be there to open the door.
As he waited to see how the woman reacted a low-pitched knocked came from the thick wooden door behind him. Kael stiffened. It came again, hastened this time. Whoever it was, they were impatient. Standing, just in the time it took for him to make it to the door they knocked a third time. Peering through the door, it was someone he didn’t recognize, a vampire. He clearly wasn’t a part of the team from the night before. The dark haired man decided turning him away would be faster than waiting for him to leave on his own. His kind had a tendency to fixate.
Unlocking the deadbolt, he slowly swung the door open toward himself. Kael’s grip was steel on the door handle as he braced himself there just in case their guest tried to press through. [b “Yes?”] The irritation was plain in his voice.
[b “Excuse me.”] The stranger at the door spoke through an overly suave filter, as though he was trying to get away with something. [b “I am with the maintenance team. We noticed a problem with some of our heaters. I am going door to door to check that everything is working, would you mind if I came in to have a look?”]
Judging by his expression, the fraud actually thought he was clever. Literally no one in their right mind would fall for that, still Kael played along. [b “Well, my heating is working just fine, but thank you for checking in.”] It was unlikely that would be the end of it, but with this being neutral territory it was best to try the civil route first.
A gleam of dissatisfaction came across his eyes, as he looked Kael up and down. The vamp promptly stood down. Kael closed the door with a satisfying click, locking it back up. He grumbled under his breath as he returned to the others. [b “Lazy fucking leeches.”]
The demon didn’t bother to sit back down. He spoke, arms crossed. [b “We are attracting too much attention here. We need to get out.”] No doubt that slimy bastard would be waiting for them to leave now. One more thing to deal with.
Kael had informed Gaius he had a few safe houses in mind. He also warned there would be issues, of course there would be, there always was. Nothing could be simple. Gaius had learned that very rarely was anything so simple. He’d been alive for lifetimes, long enough to learn that life was consistently inconsistent. Reaching an impasse on their plans and conversations, Gaius bid Kael to get some rest, the sun would be up soon and it would be wise for them to sleep for at least a few hours. Demons didn’t particularly need sleep, but a couple hours a day was more than enough.
Gaius only slept for a couple of hours before he woke up feeling rested and rejuvenated. He was still simmering a sour mood and temper, but that would never change. He was a Wrath Demon after all, and nothing could sooth him. He shuffled over to the window in the living area to have his morning cigarette, when he realized he was down to three. He cursed under his breath, as he tucked the butt between his lips and walked over to pour whiskey into his coffee mug. Coffee wasn’t needed, just the whiskey, and he sat down to sip at it while he watched the world go by from his window.
It was a little after one when he realized he’d been just sitting at the window, letting his mind mull over the events of the past week… mostly whatever effect he was experiencing since laying eyes on the small mortal. Speaking of his flower, she emerged silently from the bedroom, and he spotted as she set his coat over the back of the chair. He remained silent and unmoving, simply watching her. She didn’t even notice he was in the room, as she turned and headed right for the shower. He looked away and back outside when he heard the water running. Staring down into his mug of whiskey, he contemplated being honest with Kael. They were friends right? Except, Gaius had never been good at trusting people, Ursula was example enough. He’d thought he could trust her, that they had gone back far enough he could consider her a friend. It certainly went to show how a hundred years of one-sided friendship could turn in an instant. All the more reason not to be honest with Kael, or even bother trying to make a good impression on his favorite mortal… if he could help it.
He could hear the water smacking against the floor of the tub every time she wrung her hair out. A Mortal shouldn’t have been able to affect him with such trivial things. Gods, but he was a mess. He had a minor god to get in touch with, and send a message to Valhalla, hopefully at a decent price. Then the real hunting would begin… Ursula would pay for her deception. No one ever betrayed Gaius and lived to tell the tale, if the Valkyrie thought she was powerful enough to take him on, she was dead wrong. He was looking forward to taking her head.
Gaius had been deep in LaLaLand imagining all the things he could do to Ursula to cause her pain before he finally killed her, that he did not notice the shower had stopped. It was the gentle padding of bare feet on the tile of the kitchenette that caught him off guard. His head snapped up to see Dahlia, hair damp from her shower, and wearing the clothes he’d brought her here in.
“Good Morning,” He managed, and quickly corrected himself. “Or, I should say: Good Afternoon.”
[b “Um… Is there anything in the kitchen that I could make?” ] Gaius slipped down from his perch on the window sill and walked over towards her.
“I don’t have much,” he warned, but walked over to a small fridge and opened the door. “But there should be enough here to make something…”
They were cut off by the sound of the lock turning. Gaius was on alert, and moved with inhuman speed to block Dahlia from whoever was coming through the door. Gaius motioned for her to take cover, but the door opened and Kael entered, dressed like a mortal with his ball cap and sunglasses. Even Gaius was able to relax at seeing the demon.
“Oh good it’s just you,” he commented, though his tone withheld any true joy at knowing it was Kael. Gaius caught the package that was thrown at him and saw it was a burner phone. Smart, these would be helpful. Gaius went back to the task at hand while Kael began setting his phone up and promptly making calls. He turned back to Dahlia and welcomed her into the kitchen. “I have a few basics, and I know I have some strawberries in here.” Some was an understatement. The man had several packages of Strawberries, clearly a favorite of his. He took everything out of the fridge he thought Dahlia might want to eat and set it on the small counter. “Make yourself at home, my flower,” He said and turned just as Kael returned from his calls.
Kael was able to confirm their fears. Atlas had been murdered, and he was wanting to peg it on Desmond, a petulant child of a demon. From the sounds of their conversation, and what Kael had to say, they could find Desmond in LA. Gaius had to hide his smirk. He liked LA, it was a bustling city, lots of weirdos, and plenty of nonsense to get lost in. It didn’t diminish the truth that Asher was compromised and they still had Ursula to contend with. Perhaps getting out of town for now was the best plan. Gaius knew he’d follow Kael’s lead with this little leg of their trip.
Their speculation and planning was silence by a single question.
[b “Where exactly are we going to fit into all this?”] Gaius turned back to see Dahlia in his small kitchen looking at them exasperated. Gaius sensed a hint of fear as well coming from her, and a bit of need within himself. A desire to calm her. He turned and gave her a placating smile.
“You’ll fit in right at our sides. The safest place for our most valuable assets is for you to remain close. You’ll obviously be coming with us,” Gaius told her. “It’s my fault you two are stuck with us. I was the one who hired Ursula to get the Medallion back… not drag you both into a Lorean Conflict.” He confessed with a hint of genuine guilt. “We will be moving you to a Safe House. The people after you will not hesitate to kill you if they think for a moment you are impeding their work.” It was a clear warning, but also a promise to keep them safe. Gaius just hoped he’d relayed the message well enough. He hadn’t been particularly fond of upsetting Dahlia the night before. “So long as we can help it, we won’t let anything happen to you or your friend. You have my word,” Gaius said placing a hand over his chest and giving Dahlia a courteous nod of his head. “In the interim, let’s make you something to eat, we can discuss our travel plans when your friend wakes up.” Gaius said this more to Kael than he did Dahlia. He figured it would be best to discuss these things with the group as a whole, though he knew it would be easier to just make the plans and force the girls to follow them. The only other option was leaving them with a choice: flee to a safe house until his blows over, or stay around and wait to get caught or killed by whoever Ursula was working for. in truth, a part of him refused to give the women that option. He could tell that the pretty flower standing close by him would most likely follow her chaotic friend, who no doubt would chose to stay and keep the medallion. He couldn’t let that happen… he didn’t want to see such a lovely flower perish.
Gaius decided to help Dahlia cook up some food for herself and her friend, letting Kael do whatever it was he wanted. If Gaius was being honest he was enjoying his time cooking with Dahlia. She did the cooking, he simply cut up strawberries but it was strangely soothing being in her presence. Gaius knew this could get dangerous for him, and her if he didn’t nip this fascination in the butt soon. There wasn’t much conversation, and it remained relatively quiet up until they heard a moaning and strangled shout coming from the back room…
“Was that…” Gaius’ voice trailed off as sure enough it was Eris in the back room. It was no surprise how quickly Dahlia moved to the back room. Curiosity drove Gaius to follow and peer inside the room. Sure enough Eris was laid in the bed, her body covered in sweat and twitching. She was still asleep and suffering from a night terror. That was unexpected. Her head tossed, her arms twitched wanting to lash out, and her breathing was ragged. Incoherent words riddled in fear tumbled from her lips, the volume growing with each moment. Finally they could make out the words: No, leave her alone, stop, and nothing more as Dahlia and managed to cull Eris from her nightmare. The Mortal came awake with a shocked breath and wild eyes, which quickly filled with tears she struggled to swallow back. With ragged breath she said nothing and turned to Dahlia hiding in her arms. Perhaps, Eris was not as strong as she led them on to believe she was. Whatever it was though, Dahlia seemed versed in the infliction, and without much ado managed to put the woman back to much needed rest. Gaius was there to catch her at the door, the dark hall made his eyes seem to glow as he looked down at her. “Everything alright?” he asked softly so not to wake Eris up, but it was clear he was more concerned for Dahlia than her unstable friend.
Kael shrugged. If the Valkyrie didn’t come for her after that, he considered Ursula fair game. Warning would be given and it was up to them to take it or not. Although the dark haired demon was worried about the price that Gaius mentioned. Not money could be just about anything, depending on whom the contact was they could want anything from human sacrifice to your unborn child. The supernatural world was kind of open ended like that.
As much as he wanted to go back to his own room and pass out in an actual bed, he knew it would be unwise to unnecessarily split their forces. Kael was as skeptical as Gaius when it came to neutrality. If things got any worse it would all be out the window. No need to make it any easier on the enemy. [b “I have a place in mind, but there are some pros and cons.”] Thinking it over to make sure he wasn’t missing anything, Kael began to explain. [b “My family has safe houses tucked away all over the place. They are all on ley lines so we would be able to jump about between them.”] It was a feat that took some energy but it would put them under the radar enough to be able to formulate a plot and gather information without the hovering pests from before. [b “However, they are all fitted with biometrics, no one gets in or out without being in the system... So I would be the only one who could open the door.”] That had obvious potential for disaster. And that was all if the system hadn’t already somehow been breached. He doubted it, but there was always a chance and he wasn’t about to risk it.
The conversation dwindled from there. It gave him time to his thoughts. Using the information he had, he mulled over possible plans for the future.
Nodding gently, Dahlia wondered if they would be allowed to contact their officer friend. If not she was sure there would be yet another dispute about it. She wasn’t looking forward to it. The woman continued to rub her friend’s back well past her falling asleep. As tired as she was, sleep was more elusive. This place was unnaturally quiet. They were still in the middle of New York City, how could it be this eerily silent. All she had to ground herself was the slow, steady sound of Eris’ breathing.
There in the stillness, all the weight of their circumstances came down on her in full. Dahlia’s eyes filled with tears. Biting her lip, she stayed quiet. Waking Eris was the last thing she wanted to do. Her friend would only blame herself further, and none of this was her fault. Rolling over, she looked at the ceiling through blurry eyes. When there was no more room for the salty liquid, the tears flooded over. There was no stopping it. The small woman allowed herself to get it out of her system now albeit inaudibly. When her eyes ran dry, she felt better. Not that the situation had changed any, but there was relief in venting. Luckily enough it also zapped her of energy and Dahlia was able to fall asleep.
When she woke, it was one o’clock. Dahlia wasn’t sure how long she had slept. She didn’t know when she final fell asleep. Might as well have been a couple of hours ago with how exhausted she still was. Unfortunately, it seemed no matter now hard she tried to go back to sleep it wasn’t going to happen. That led to another problem. She really didn’t want to back out there. The woman had been rather brazen the night before and while she didn’t regret it, she also didn’t want to go and deal with whatever terrible mood had been brewing. Especially not by herself. However, the need for a restroom won out in the end.
Carefully she crawled out of bed, as not to disturb Eris. She was quiet as a mouse as she picked up the coat from before and left the room. One of the men was gone but the other was still up. Dahlia wondered if demons needed sleep at all, or it they were just so on edge that they couldn’t. She wasn’t curious enough to ask. Draping the jacket over the back of the couch, she looked about to locate the bathroom. Inside there was a pile of folded towels so she helped herself to the shower. All the grime and sweat from the club left her feeling gross. It would help her moral to be clean. Well, besides her clothes, but she could live with that.
The urge to go immediately back to the bedroom was hard to ignore. This wasn’t exactly the kind of situation you make small talk in, but there wasn’t a whole lot else for her to do. Gaze drifting to the kitchenette she remembered it had been a while since she last eaten. Stress had her stomach off, but it would be unwise to go without food. [b “Um… Is there anything in the kitchen that I could make?”] This place was clearly a hotel. There was no telling how long he had been here; she figured chances were slim that there was much of anything over there.
The sound of the door being tampered with caused Dahlia to freeze. Turning just enough to catch Kael to come through, she released all the tension that had taken ahold of her. As scary as it was to be here, she feared what lurked just outside even more.
Kael had taken off close to noon. Getting around during daylight was a pain in the ass, but it would afford him some cover. It was straight to the store and back for him. The mission was to get phones; just about everything else could wait. After all, there was a chance they would be skipping town.
Everything was busier than he was accustomed too, but it gave him the advantage of blending in, at least to some extent. He picked up three cheap phones. They needed to be able to drop them no problem at any time. This way he didn’t feel bad about it. The thin man got some strange looks from the girl checking him out. He wasn’t sure if it was the multitude of cell phones, or his looks but either way he didn’t appreciate it. After that it was back to the hotel. There were no incidents, but he doubted there weren’t eyes on him the entire time.
Walking into the room, one of the mortal’s was up. He ignored her, tossing one of the plastic packages at Gaius. [b “Here, we will probably have to ditch our regular phones when we move.”] Kael immediately began unwrapping and setting up one for himself as well. The third was a backup.
As soon as he had the device ready to go, the red-eyed man was inputting the number for the most likely location of his family. The line rang endlessly as he concluded they were not there. Sighing, he knew this meant he would be systematically trying numbers until one was picked up. Deft fingers flying over the analog buttons he moved on to the next one. It wasn’t till the sixth attempt that he got an answer. The smooth voice on the other end was a familiar one. They were in Spain.
[b “It’s me.”] Kael barely got the words out before he was being yelled at. [b “Yeah, yeah, I get it already.”] It continued for a little longer before he could go on. [b “So what information do you have?”] The conversation from there was tedious. Cornelius, his brother, wasn’t keen on freely giving intelligence. There was unfortunately a lot of give and take that led to him explaining what his own situation was. When he had gathered everything that there was to know, the conversation ended and he was able to come back to Gaius.
Taking the same seat as the night before he began to relay what he figured out. [b “Atlas was definitely murdered.”] The words came out irritated. This whole situation was less than ideal. [b “Apparently one of the interns they brought into the office ended up being an assassin. They don’t know anything about him, but he was introduced to through Asher Citra.”] Kael was pretty sure Asher was the treasurer or something to that extent. [b “He is a pretty straight laced guy, but his son Desmond, not so much. He hangs out with a darker crowd. I don’t think it would have been too hard for him or one of his friends to get the hit man’s name in Asher’s ear.”] Good guys like him were easily manipulated. Kael wasn’t sure if he was fit for politics, but Atlas was always one to give people a chance.
[b “We might be able to get information out of Desmond. Finding him won’t be an issue, he’s usually skulking about in LA and he isn’t exactly the low profile type.”] The bespectacled man very much doubted Desmond would change any of this after his buddies made a move. [b “If we can get to the shelter, transporting to California will be simple. Plus we can move more freely there. I think it is worth doing.”] It would be even better if they managed it in secret.
Dahlia could barely believe what she was hearing. They wanted to cross the continent and he was acting like it wasn’t a big deal. Did they plan on dragging them along in all this? She’d never even left the state. [b “Where exactly are we going to fit into all this?”]
Gaius and Eris were about to go blow for blow when Dahlia cut in. Her words and eyes were as sharp as knives, and they silenced Gaius quickly. Eris was cajoled by her petite friend to retire to bed, and Gaius watched as they both disappeared behind the door to his bedroom. Gaius stood fuming for a moment, grappling for control of his temper and his emotions which tended to flare in stressful situation. It only spiked for a moment hearing his partner whistle at him, and comment on his skills with the women. Gaius inhaled a lungful of smoke from his cigarette and simply glared back at his fellow demon.
Gaius welcomed the silence as he finished his cigarette and sat back down in his arm chair and stared at Kael.
“Ursula is going to be a problem.” They were both thinking it, but Gaius voiced it. Kael suggested tattling to her Coven about it, suggesting that if the Valkyrie were aware of her actions they might step in and handle her. Wishful thinking, Gaius knew, but he didn’t blame his partner for the suggestion -it was a good idea. If it had been any Valkyrie other than the Impetuous Ursula. ‘It’s not a bad idea, but for the little good it will do us. I’ve known Ursula for the better of three hundred years, she is not close with her sisters. They will not come for her, they haven’t done so by now, and have left her unprotected to her own fate. I know a guy who knows a guy that can get word to Valhalla for us, but it won’t come cheap… and I’m not talking money,” Gaius warned. It seemed they would have no choice in that matter, and Gaius had agreed to take on the task of contacting the Valkyrie. As for other plans, Kael thought it would be best to wait until he heard more from his family. For the moment they were at a standstill, they could go no further, but they couldn’t go back either. Gaius hated being stuck in a bad situation, he also didn’t want to inform Kael of his own fears regarding the small flower currently in his bed.
Unlike Kale’s breed of Demon, Demons of the Deadly Sins could have a fated mate. Lately, Gaius had been wondering if the tiny flower he’d been following the past few days was affecting him the way she was, because she was his fated mate. It was a nightmare to accept -a human as his mate? He’d kill her in the first coupling, and while he had been a master of restraint for centuries now, just her presence was enough to unravel it all. He simply had to keep reminding himself that at least the Medallion was under their protection. Ursula didn’t have it, and while he found the Incarnate, Eris to be irritating to a fault, he would commend her cleverness in tricking the rushed Valkyrie. He’d just never voice it out loud, just like he wouldn’t voice how he noticed Kael’s appreciation of the wily mortal’s foolish bravery.
Gaius stared at his partner with an intense look. It was back to business and it seemed it would be nothing but business until they had sorted this mess out. For now, a more important question loomed over them. “We need to make a plan to keep the mortals safe. No doubt someone will notice they’re missing with time, and we can not keep them here for more than a day or two. If things are as bad as I believe they might become, I don’t even think the Rules of Neutrality will keep them from attacking us in this place.”
Eris allowed Dahlia to drag her away from Gaius and into the spacious room with an equally spacious bed. For a fleeting moment Eris wondered why a man would need a bed that big for himself, but it passed as quickly as it came. Instead she shed herself of her pants, boots and jacket, while Dahlia tossed away the warm trench coat that belonged to Gaius. Neither said a word as they crawled into bed. Eris was angry with the two men on the other side of the door, with the world, and mostly with herself. A part of her blamed herself for the mess they had found themselves in. She’d always wanted an adventure, but this had never been what she had in mind.
She laid down under the sheets with her back to Dahlia, feeling too guilty and angry to face her at the moment. Yet when she felt Dahlia begin to gently tickle her back, Eris was taken back to years ago when they were green eared college kids. It was no guess that Eris had her own inner demons and mental illness, and while over the years she had learned to control her anxiety, there were times it threatened to break her steadfast control and take over. Eris sensed that Dahlia could sense it as well… an oncoming panic attack. Eris knew that if Dahlia had anything to say about it, she’d help sooth it out of existence. It never failed to work its magic over Eris. Like taming a wild beast, Dahlia had done the same with Eris. Each stroke gently sending Eris closer to much needed sleep. She was on the brink of that sleep when Dahlia whispered to her of what she’d done. Ross was bound to find their apartment a ransacked mess when he dropped by in the morning. She wondered if they would just be added to the ever growing list of missing persons in Hells Kitchen.
“We need to get word to him soon. He’s a good cop, I don’t want him getting mixed up in some otherworld bullshit,” Eris stated with a sleepy voice. “He needs… warned…” Eris yawned before Dahlia’s final stroke put her into a deep sleep. One that Eris was sure not to wake from until at least mid afternoon.
Just as she had expected, Eris swiftly objected. Dahlia stared at her expectantly. Of course she thought they should try and help. If the world went to hell in a hand basket they were not going to have anywhere to live. At least not any place safe. She kind of liked not having to worry about demon folk breaking into their house and kidnapping them. She nodded vigorously as her friend questioned her. Honestly, she conceded a lot quicker than normal. It was probably because she was so tired. There would likely be a follow up discussion later when it was just the two of them and they weren’t so dog-tired.
Dahlia entertained the idea of playing the role of bait, but figured with how apprehensive Eris was to just helping out it wasn’t likely to happen. Although when she thought about it, the smaller woman wouldn’t want her friend to put herself in danger either. Not willing to give up entirely, she threw out one last idea. [b “You are both demons or something, right? Doesn’t that mean there are places you can’t go, or at least would have a hard time getting? I’m sure there are places like that that we could assist.”]
No sooner than she spat out the thought, Kael shot it down. [b “While that is true, it is incredibly unlikely anything like that will come into play with what we are dealing with. Our opponents are like us. We should be fighting on equal ground when it comes to such restraints.”] The only real worry there was Ursula and she already knew the mortal’s faces. The man wasn’t too keen on the ladies helping either. If they got caught in the cross fire they wouldn’t survive and he didn’t want to deal with that guilt.
Mind whirling as she thought about Ursula, Dahlia wasn’t entirely sure what had happened to her. By the sound of how everyone was talking it was bad news. Another tidbit of information she would just have to do without for the time being. It was about then that Gaius decided to put everything on hold. From there things went downhill quickly. The realization of how trapped they really were seeped in, especially for Eris and she wasn’t dealing with it well. Distraught would be an understatement.
Dahlia found her friend’s apology unwarranted. But before she had the chance to say so, the yellow-eyed man jumped in. His comments did nothing more than agitate the situation, which snowballed between them. The bickering that stemmed from it was stressful, but she focused on keeping Eris from flying off the hinge.
There weren’t many immortals that would cross paths with someone like Gaius, so there was a sense of humor to it when the scrawny human tried. Kael was confident if the little one wasn’t between them they might have started throwing punches, or worse. He was glad for her presence, as he didn’t feel like deescalating anything. There was enough for him to worry about. Still, the comedy of it all made him smile. An expression he quickly stifled when any of them looked his way. God forbid they assume he was reveling in the chaos, just it's namesake.
Growing increasingly irritated herself, Dahlia cut in. [b “Is it really necessary to be such an ass about it?”] Her words and eyes were sharp. Unconfident that her comment would do little more than aggravate him, she wanted to distance them from the conflict before it got any worse. It was bad enough that she felt the need to jump in. She pulled on Eris’ arm, prompting them to stand in unison. The first of many steps to making an exit and sleeping. [b “Come on, let’s just go to bed.”] The petite woman finally took her glaring eyes from Gaius. Her gaze now shifting between Eris and the door leading back to the bed they’d been offered.
There was no incident after that. The women made their exit, Dahlia closing the door silently behind them. She had briefly contemplated slamming it. But ultimately decided that was too juvenile. Finally they had some relative peace. Lord knew if they could be heard in here, but at the very least the pair was away from prying eyes. It wasn’t till then that she remembered she was wearing Gaius’ jacket. She swiftly took it off and threw it on the nightstand.
Without hesitation, the two crawled in the big bed. It was comfortable and the sheets smelt clean. There was tons of room, but Dahlia stuck close to her friend. Nestled cozily behind her, she gently rubbed Eris’ back. She hoped it might release some of the stress she was carrying and help her sleep. After all, the woman had been up for just about two days straight. She needed the rest badly, but there was one last thing Dahlia felt she needed to share. She whispered lightly, keeping her voice to a tone that could be considered soothing. [b “I don’t know if it actually helps anything, but before we left, I left Ross a voice mail. It was vague but I think he will know something happened.”] Dahlia doubted he could help in any way, but there was comfort in knowing that someone was looking.
No sooner than the door shut, Kael whistled somewhat sarcastically. Perhaps seeing the girls act so defiantly gave him a little more courage, albeit stupidly so. [b “You managed to piss both of them off, smooth.”] It wasn’t that he particularly disagreed with anything his partner had said, but he also thought keeping the girls’ cooperative was in their best interest.
Kael let his fellow demon finish his cigarette. The silence was heavy, but he welcomed it. The slight edge it gave him kept his mind clear to try and think of their next move. First and foremost be wanted to deal with Ursula. That witch would likely serve as the most imminent threat. No doubt she was seething wherever she stood, hatching up her own plan. Not knowing what kind of resources were at her disposal was maddening.
Taking in a deep breath, he toyed with a couple bat-shit crazy ideas. Tossing them to the side before he then found something moderately less dangerous, although he still didn’t like it. There was a sense of cowardice to it, but he didn’t mind so long as it furthered their goal.
[b “You know, we could always just tattle on her.”] His words were somewhat lazy. Not knowing what sort of reaction he would receive made him hesitant. [b “We know the Valkyrie won’t want their sister to die. If we tipped them off that she is meddling in demon politics and liable to end up dead, they may track her down themselves. And if they don’t make a move, they can’t say anything if we take her out ourselves. It should cover our asses from both sides.”] Kael’s real worry was that there were more than two dimensions to this particular problem. There was also the fact that he didn’t know how to contact the Valkyrie, but Gaius seemed the type to have connections everywhere. After all, he had known how to reach Ursula.
Other than that he didn’t feel like there was a lot he could do at the moment. Too many unknowns. [b “I think we should hold off on any other concrete plans until I get ahold of either my dad or brother. When we go out I am going to pick up a burner phone just to be sure.”] Who knew who had already tapped into his personal phone. The thing was probably trash by now.
Leaning back in his chair, Kael sunk into the well broken in cushions. Staring up at the ceiling it was completely nondescript, a blank canvas to project his thoughts onto. [b “I guess I should have listened to Mara when I had the chance.”] Regret clung to his soft-spoken words. He had been so sure of what she was going to say, the red-eyed man didn’t bother to let her speak. And while he was still confident he knew what she was going to say, there was an ember of doubt smoldering in him.
Eris listened to all Kael had to say, and his affinity for Eve had not gone unnoticed. She was glad he had grabbed the snake, and even shocked to see it had taken to him far better than it had to her. Regardless, his words about Atlas, his death, the chaos their government and people were in, and not to mention it had something to do with Kael’s father. That was interesting, and only made Eris that much more curious. He was certain too, that the Valkyrie being involved meant whatever was coming was bound to be big.
[b “Although I can’t say for sure at this point, Ursula may have been working on her own.”]
“That’s more likely,” Gaius suddenly quipped, his own gaze looking at nothing in particular, but it was clear he’d been deep in thought.
“Why do you say that?” Eris asked curiously. Gaius finally moved his golden gaze from nothingness to Eris’ face.
“Because she was outcasted by her sisters centuries ago. Think of her as fallen from grace.” Eris frowned, but didn’t press further, and a heavy silence fell over the group until Dahlia spoke.
Dahlia wanted to know for sure, that no matter what they would have been dragged into this mess, but as Kael made clear -they couldn’t be certain. They didn’t have enough information as to what was going on in their world, that it was hard to tell how it might affect the human world. Something was obviously going on, and underhanded techniques sounded as if they were expected. That much was made clear by Ursula’s betrayal. Eris sat back while Dahlia posed her questions and spoke with the two demonic men, it allowed her eyes to roam around the room, but the thing she noticed most was the Demon Gaius, and how his gaze seemed to change the slightest when those golden eyes settled on Dahlia. Most might not have noticed it, but Eris did. She saw a flicker of something in their depths, and how his hand flexed the slightest to dig his nails into the couch when the Fan blew air from behind Dahlia into his direction. Was it a smell? Did they smell bad to demons? Or was there more the Wrath Demon wasn’t telling?
[b “Do either of you have any sort of plan where to go next with this? Is there anything we can do to help?” ] Dahlia asked and Eris’ face twisted into shocked disgust.
“Help them?” She blurted out with an almost scathing tone. She couldn’t believe- no, yes she could believe that Dahlia would offer such a thing. It was well within Dahlia’s character to be helpful to a fault. Eris supposed she could see why Dahlia wanted to help them, but that didn’t make it easier to swallow. If what they said was true and it could affect the Human world, then Eris knew she had an obligation to help as well -she just didn’t want to readily admit it. What had the world ever done for either of them? “You really want to help these two?” Eris asked, but Dahlia was firm in her decision and Eris was left to pout and concede. “Fine… We’ll help if we can.” She settled with and crossed her arms.
[b Gaius] had been deep in thought trying to piece everything together in his mind, when it seemed the two women were having a disagreement about helping. He wanted to laugh. They couldn’t help, they were weak, flimsy mortals that would die if the wrong creature so much as looked at them the wrong way. Gaius glanced over at Kael wondering if he had a plan. To be honest, they’d been so wrapped up securing the Medallion that they hadn’t taken the time to sit down and discuss what they would do in regards to Atlas’ death and the coup that had taken place right under their nose. He leaned back into the soft cushion of his favorite chair and allowed his brows to furrow and eyes narrow as he voiced his thoughts.
“We’ve been taking this one step at a time. We have the Medallion now -or rather… we have you,” he said and gave both Dahlia and Eris a pointed look. “I don’t see how either of you will be helpful, unless one of you enjoys playing bait,” he eyed Eris then, the only one probably ballsy enough to do it willingly. Surprisingly she made no comment and kept quiet. He was pretty sure he preferred her that way. “Ursula will want blood, we could trap her…” He halfheartedly suggested to Kael. “She’s bound to have intelligence on who’s behind the coup and Atlas’ death.” Getting Ursula to talk wouldn’t be easy though, you couldn’t torture an immortal for information the way you could a mortal. You had to find something they cared about and threaten it. As far as Gaius knew… Ursula cared for nothing and no one but who could pay the highest dollar. It likely meant his idea to trap and interrogate Ursula was moot, if they crossed her path again, they’d likely have to just kill her, and killing a valkyrie was not an easy task.
Valkyrie could only be killed one of two ways; from a broken heart cause by a loved one, or beheading -like most immortals could be destroyed. If they didn’t take her head, she’d just regenerate and come back for them again and again. Personally, he didn’t want either of the mortals to taste Ursula’s claws, or her lightning. There was also the risk of incurring the wrath of other Valkyries. They might have ostracized Ursula, but he highly doubted that meant she didn’t have their support if she was murdered. No, Gaius knew then, if they intended to kill Ursula, they’d have to engage her in combat to legitimize them killing her. He certainly wasn’t about to suggest bringing in anyone else either after her betrayal… and here he’d thought they were at least friends.
He looked over at the women once more, and saw the exhaustion in their eyes. They needed to sleep. They still had alcohol flowing through their blood, and his pretty flower looked ready to fall over. The Harpy looked like she could keep going and stay up all night to plot and scheme, but he was pretty certain now that they were so close and she seemed particularly calm about everything that something wasn’t clicked into place correctly in her head.
“I think,” Gaius began, “that before we continue with this conversation you ladies should get some sleep. You may both take my bed in the back room,” He pointed across the living space to a set of double doors. “You’re safe here. This is what’s called Neutral territory.”
“Yeah? And what does that mean for us?” Eris demanded.
“Warring factions can not make a move on these grounds or lose their privileges to use and enjoy any and all neutral locations. No one lasts very long once they break the rules of Neutrality,” Gaius informed them. “In the morning we will attempt to find you both some clothes, in the meantime, rest and get comfortable, because you won’t be allowed to leave this Complex for a while…” he warned and reached forward for his cigarettes on the coffee table and proceeded to light one up. “I’m afraid there’s not much else either of you two can do to help-“
“I’m really sorry I got us into this…” Gaius frowned at the soft sound of Eris’ voice -it was clear that Eris blamed herself to an extent for dragging her best friend into this mess.
“What’s done is done.” Gaius rose to his feet and walked over to the windows of the living space and looked out at the twinkling cityscape.
“That much is obvious, but you can’t really intend to keep up locked up in here,” Eris tried. Gaius didn’t look back from where he stood, his mind was too cluttered and running too quickly.
“Then leave,” Gaius challenged. “Walk out those doors and we’ll see if you even make it back to your neighborhood… which I can promise you, you won’t. They’re watching your apartment now, just waiting for you to foolishly return. They will stop at nothing to collect that Medallion, and if they even think for a moment you’re still carrying it around, they will slit your throat where you stand.” Gaius said all of this very calmly and as if it were simply fact. Which it was, but Gaius knew he could speak this way to Eris and not alarm her, but she would understand. “And you’re a fool if you think that gun you’re carrying is going to protect you from them.”
“I can smell the powder in the bullets.” He shrugged.
“This is kidnapping,” Eris tried, and Gaius smirked.
“Call it what you want, but in here you get to stay alive, out there you’re as good as dead. You’ll be tossed among the other strange deaths and disappearances you were investigating to begin with. Full Circle. That should make you happy,” he mocked. Eris grit her teeth ready to snap back, but Dahlia managed to calm Eris and keep her quiet. “You should listen more to your friend. She wants to see that you keep breathing.” He exhaled a lungful of smoke and finally turned to face them again. “Fact is you’re alive because we bothered to help you, now you’re in our domain and you will follow our rules if you ever want to walk out those doors as free women.”
‘Is that a threat?” Eris growled, growing more angry with every moment.
“No, it’s a promise,” Gaius stated plainly and without an ounce of remorse.
Normally there wasn’t a single part of this story that Dahlia would be dumb enough to believe. However after all she had seen and been through she dared to think the men were telling the truth. It was earthshattering. There wasn’t anything she could say. The problem with it being so preposterous was that she had no idea what sort of questions to ask. Her brain was so filled with processing the madness that there was not room for much else. It would take some time to set in.
Kael watched as Gaius gave some explanation to what they were and more specifics about himself. He had never been particularly curious, but it was interesting to hear the details all the same. The red-eyed man was also glad to have a bit of a break. This was a lot of talking. The conversation jumped back to him when it was his turn.
The man brought his hand up to pat Eve on the head as he spoke. She was still nestled tightly about his arm and neck. [b “I am more akin to snakes myself.”] The demon wasn’t sure what he was going to do with the serpent just yet, but he would find a place for her.
Dread filled he small woman’s chest as the yellow-eyed demon listed off the mayhem that could ensue if the medallion got into the wrong hands. He finished off with, [b “…An era of darkness and death.”] Normally Eris, the strong-headed firecracker of a woman, was enough to make Dahlia feel safe. After all, she was pretty sure she could handle almost anything, but for the first time the onyx-eyed photographer had the distinct feeling that they couldn’t handle this on their own no matter how much moxie they had. Things only seemed to get worse as he revealed that there was a whole faction of demon’s who wanted nothing more than to wreak havoc on humanity. Even more so when he explicitly stated that there was no way for her and Eris to back out of this now.
It hurt when Gaius mentioned what they had been after. It forced her to wonder if it was worth it. Was this cockeyed story worth their lives? She really didn’t think so. After all, no one would believe it anyway. But there was no way they could have known it would have lead here when this all began. Hindsight was a bitch.
[b “What say you, red?”] Kael could only assume she meant him. He wasn’t too keen on the nickname, but he didn’t mention it. The man didn’t want to give the girls any more reasons to dislike him at the moment. [b “Who is Atlas?”]
The snake demon decided to keep things simple at first. [b “Atlas was our former president. The man who was running our whole world.”] Sure there were districts that were run by others, like hades was run by its namesake, but in the end Atlas had quite a bit of influence in places like that as well. [b “He’d is the one that united everyone on our side and called for the truce between demons, the angelic, and humanity... However a few days ago he died.”]
This was his first time talking about it since the incident, it had him more irritated then he would have hoped. He managed to keep a cool countenance though. [b “He was pretty much immortal and while he was old there isn’t a lot that could have killed him. Official story from the top is that he was sick, but that’s a load of shit. If he was ill I would have heard from my dad.”] He stiffened up thinking about it. Oddly enough he still hadn’t heard directly from his family. Mara, one of Atlas’ women, had tried to tell him something right after the incident, but he didn’t know if they were still all right.
[b “Either way, whoever took him out likely doesn’t hold his ideals. Things are about to get rocky on our side. And if the Valkyrie are in on it, it is probably going to be big. Although I can’t say for sure at this point, Ursula may have been working on her own.”] It would be easier to plan their next move with more information. For a split second Kael considered getting ahold of his family, but that was more liable to complicate things further. He didn’t want to deal with it.
Dahlia broke her silence after hearing this. [b “So even if we probably been pulled into this eventually, even without all this hades nonsense?”] If demons were going to be walking the earth freely, she didn’t see too much of a difference in the situation. Well, aside from being targeted directly by Ursula. They could probably do without that.
[b “We can’t say for sure. We still don’t know what the usurpers want. I don’t know anything about this Lysander Canterbury who took up the helm and he very well could just be a figure head while they work things in the background.”] Kael didn’t like not having answers; he could only image in unsettling it was for the women across the table from him.
[b “Isn’t there any sort of fail safe for this sort of thing?”] Sure Dahlia didn’t know a whole lot about government or politics but wasn’t there usually a chain of command in case of emergency? [b “I am sure this Atlas guy had to have someone under him who was his next in command right?”]
Sighing Kael nodded. [b “Yes, of course he did. As of yet, this information isn’t being given to our general public. They are keeping things under lock and key. My guess is that a lot of them have been caught in the crossfire. That or when things went sour they pulled back to regroup. Without contact to someone on the inside I can’t know the state of Atlas’ cabinet.”]
There were not a lot of definitive answers; it didn’t make Dahlia feel any better. She couldn’t bring herself to blame Gaius or Kael, but it was frustrating all the same. Somehow the idea of a safe house didn’t make her feel all that safe. Just sitting and waiting for someone to sniff them out and do them away. She also didn’t really know if there was anything they could do in a mess like this.
[b “Do either of you have any sort of plan where to go next with this? Is there anything we can do to help?”] She looked between the two of them. Being careful not to look Eris’ way. She wasn’t sure how keen her friend would be on the idea of them jumping into the fray. To Dahlia this world was the place that she lived. She wanted to keep it safe. Even if it was just something little, she couldn’t stand the thought of continuing to be useless all the time.
Eris could see their assailants jumping from rooftop to rooftop behind them. The way he carried her made it difficult to reach behind her and grab her gun, but from what she was seeing; she figured it would be useless anyway. She held on tightly and recognized where they were when he finally lost their followers and landed on the street. She was finally able to stand on her own two feet and looked around at where they were. The Historic Manny’s Music store wasn’t too far from where he’d dropped her. He started around a corner, and Eris quickened her pace to keep up. For now she wasn’t going to voice her questions -her curiosity was getting the better of her now. They came to the front of a dimly lit Hotel, the neon fading out and flickering. The building looked like a squatter hovel, one that should be condemned and demoed, but as he held the door open and bid her to follow she slipped right into the lobby and her jaw dropped.
Rich red carpet and dark leather chairs with massive crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling decorated the lobby. Everything was Art Deco from the intricate golden wall panels down to the exotic looking man. Cross dresser? Trans? Whatever it was it was interesting, and Eris instantly admired this person for their uniqueness despite the fed up expression she wore.
“You too, huh?” The receptionist asked. Definitely born male.
“Hi,” Eris waved quickly following Red eyes into the elevator. Eris crossed her arms and leaned against the far wall from Red, watching him cautiously. He didn’t even look her way, or speak to her. That was fine, Eris wasn’t exactly sure what to say to him as it was.
She followed him off the elevator to a room, where he knocked and once the door opened, Eris was greeted with the face of the other guy. She didn’t hesitate to walk in.
“Dahlia?” She asked, but no sooner had she called the name, did she spot Dahlia. The tiny woman came running for her and quickly hugged her. Eris finally smirked. “Oh I’m so glad you’re okay,” She said quietly, and finally noticed that Dahlia never got the chance to even grab a coat and shoes. Eris knew her sizes, she’d get her new clothes because she had a feeling they weren’t going to be able to go back to their apartment for a while.
[b “Go ahead and sit down so I can try and get you up to speed. You too, Gaius.” ] Eris looked over where Red was pacing. The Demon, Gaius walked over to a small coffee table surrounded by a lush sofa and two arm chairs and offered the sofa to both women. Eris kept Dahlia close, but allowed her enough space to remain independent. Gaius sat on the armchair closest to Dahlia while Red took the arm chair next to her and insisted that first and foremost they needed to introduce themselves. She finally had a name for him, but Red was sort of sticking on her now. Between Kael and Gaius she couldn’t tell which one was the lesser of two evils. Dahlia and Eris introduced themselves and if she wasn’t mistaken her name had caused Kael to look almost amused… almost.
[b “As you have probably surmised, we are not human and that medallion you picked up isn’t just a trinket.”] Eris scoffed at his comment and leaned back crossing a long lean leg over the other.
“So we’ve surmised as much, so what’s the deal with the medallion?” She asked.
[b “It belongs to Hades, and it links directly to his domain.”] Eris frowned. Being a Greek-American, she didn’t think this was very funny, but she made no comment and allowed Kael to speak about Hades’ daughter, how she had it stolen by a mortal and that if they weren’t careful Daddy Dearest was going to find out, and they didn’t want that to happen. [b “This is unfortunately why we confronted you a few days ago… Sorry about that.”] His apology sounded sincere, but Eris remained quiet and glared at him. She clearly hadn’t forgiven them just yet.
“In our defense,” Gaius suddenly said and eyed Eris. “We thought we could scare you into giving it to us, be on our way and you’d never see us again.”
“I don’t scare easily,” Gaius actually grinned, showing small fangs, and that was when Eris noticed he also had strange claw like nails.
“Yes, we figured that out pretty quickly. We are sorry,” Gaius tried to placate her, but Eris was still warry.
“Apology accepted,” She settled with, but that didn’t mean she forgave them. “Tell us more about you guys and what’s all going on. We’re in this mess now, might as well help us figure it out,” Eris advised, though it was more of a command than anything else.
Kael began to tell them that their would wasn’t so different, and recently a coup had taken place. It was something that seemed to be directly affecting Kael and apparently his family. That was interesting. she wondered if he had planned to get the medallion and skip town to help his family. Then he mentioned Ursula and Eris grit her teeth. She’d been such an idiot to let that woman into their home while barely knowing her. Damn the Tequila, and Damn her. Double agent, and slippery bitch who had played all of them. Kael looked directly at Eris then and warned her that once Ursula realized she was tricked, Eris was sentenced to Ursula’s Shit list.
[b “…there is no wrath like that of a Valkyrie.”] Eris frowned, she’d heard of Valkyrie. Norse Mythos, shield maiden warriors used to collect fallen warriors in battle where they would be held in Valhalla until Ragnarok. It was all supposed to be legend and myth, but apparently Eris was wrong -so very wrong.
“I’m named after the Goddess of Discord and Chaos. She can kiss my ass,” Eris grumbled in a grumpy manner. That seemed to make Kael give her a chiding look, and she sorely wanted to smack his face for it.
[b “I don’t particularly like others dying because of my mistakes, so I’d like to try and keep you both alive at least until this gets sorted out. Any questions?”]
Any questions! HA! Eris rolled her eyes.
“Yeah, lots of them,” she warned. “First off, what are you?” Gaius was the one to answer that, he leaned back in his seat, hands on the armrests and glanced to Kael before speaking. What was this guy? Some Underworld Royalty or some shit?
“We are both demons, but different classes. I’m a wrath demon for example.”
“Like… the seven deadly sins?” Eris asked. Gaius nodded his head.
“Yes, every sin has its own Demonarchy, and even then there are other demons with different classes.”
“You seem pretty chill for a Wrath Demon,” Gaius smirked again.
“Oh my dear, the amount of restraint and control I have is beyond your abilities.” Eris frowned, it almost sounded like an insult, but it made her think more of the Hulk. Would she not like him if he got angry? Probably not.
“Whatever. Ursula, She’s a Valkyrie? How’s that possible? You’re telling us that mythological creatures are real?”
“All Myth is steeped in truth to some extent,” Gaius informed her. “Think of all the Mythological and current Gods as sorts of Royal Families. Earth is just a playground and you all the livestock,” Gaius told her. It wasn’t the most eloquent explanation, but it was blunt and safe for diabetics. No sugar coating what so ever.
“That’s comforting…” It wasn’t though. Eris glanced back between the two demonic men and finally looked at Dahlia. “We’re in this mess now,” She looked back to Gaius with a determined look. “You said that if the Medallion fell into the wrong hands it would mean the end of the world as we know it. What did you mean by that?”
“I mean, that if the Medallion had been taken by Ursula and delivered to whoever she’s working for they could very well open up the gate between this world and the underworld and all sort of unsavory creature would rise from the bowels of Hell to feast on Human Flesh, enslave mankind and black out the Sun. An Era of darkness and death.”
“Sounds like a Demon paradise. So why are you trying to stop it?” Gaius leaned back in his seat and sighed heavily.
“Humanity is… a fickle creature, and fun to watch if I’m being honest. Just as there are humans who protect the world, there are those who seek to destroy it, to watch it burn. We,” he waved to himself and Kael, “Very much enjoy Earth, it’s far more interesting and the landscape far more appealing than fire and brimstone. We are aligned to uphold what is called The Covenant. Centuries ago our kind warred with yours until we finally settled on a truce. We uphold that truce, and the stipulations attached to it. No exposure en masse to Humans, or lay threat to a new war. Contrary to what you may think, we are far more peaceable than our counterparts. The Malumortis, as they’re called have much darker plans.”
“Evil Death?” Eris asked. Gaius’ brows rose.
“You know Latin?”
“No, but I know enough of my root words to figure that out,” Eris told him plainly and still seemingly unimpressed. Gaius shrugged. “So what does this mean for us?” Eris asked waving between herself and Dahlia. ‘I can’t give you the Medallion now and walk away.”
“No you can not,” Gaius agreed. “You’re right, both of you are in this mess now. So it would be best to know that in my opinion the two of you be put into a safe house, and that you forget any notion you had of writing that Expose you were hoping for.” Eris glared then, this was the piece that could shoot herself and Dahlia to real journalist status.
“What say you, Red?” Eris asked Kael then. “And who is Atlas?”
Everything moved so fast that Dahlia had a hard time keeping up. She struggled against the golden-eyed man who grabbed ahold of her up until the point that he jumped from the window. After that all bets were off. He didn’t really have to tell her to hold on. She essentially glued herself to his side.
The freezing night air nipped at her bare legs. Sure she had been glad that she hadn’t fully undressed to sleep, but now she was wishing she had left her jacket and shoes on too. Doubly so when the man set her down, the graveled rooftop was painful against the soles of her feet. And while she was given more freedom, enough to stand on her own, it didn’t amount to much as he never let go of her hands. Options were laid out in front of her, but none of them sounded any good. She had nowhere to go if she didn’t stay with this stranger. Not to mention his friend had Eris. Hesitant to agree, she nodded and that was enough for him to drag her along behind him. It was difficult to keep up with his stride. Each of his steps seemed like two of her own.
The building they entered was old and run down, but her jaw hit the floor at the inside decor. Dahlia was sure it was a piece of history straight out of the vaudeville era. She wished she had her camera. Her awe did not last. The tall man quipped to and fro with a woman behind the counter who did not look pleased. The displeasure was aimed squarely at Dahlia and that made her nervous. However the woman never moved from her post. While the mortal was glad for that, being shrouded in the silver haired man’s jacket wasn’t much security from the dangers she rightly assumed were lurking further with the hotel complex.
There was a bit of solace being in an enclosed area. The apartment like room at least afforded her that, but there was still the fact that she was stuck with this man. Dahlia’s eyes never left him. Her expression was grim. The woman almost tripped over herself stepping back when he tried to come closer to her. Thankfully he backed off promptly. He offered her this and that, all of which sounded nice, but she didn’t say anything. It felt like a trap. Kind of like the old story of Persephone in Hades. Take anything while your there and you’ll never get out. However she felt weird not giving her name in return, so she at least did that. [b “I’m Dahlia.”]
Feet sore, the woman gravitated toward the desk chair at the side of the room. Taking a seat, she pulled her knees up and rested her head there. His jacket smelled of cigarette smoke. Although it wasn’t much of a consolation it reminded her of Eris and it calmed her some. She still wasn’t comfortable looking away from Gaius. It didn’t take much longer for the adrenaline running through her veins to wear off. In its wake, a pounding head ache. All that alcohol had cleared her brain, but there was one hell of a hangover on the way. Not to mention all the jostling of running across town had agitated it further. She wanted to sleep it off, but that wasn’t an option.
It seemed no matter how fast he ran, or how many bustling areas he cut through Kael couldn’t shake whoever was tailing them. It was frustrating and he was getting winded. He promised himself if he made it out of this he was definitely going to work out more. At the very least he wouldn’t spend so much time dicking around in the mortal world.
Running circles around the destination, he had hoped to be rid of the pursuers before returning. Eventually he gave up on this aspiration, deciding it was enough when they backed off. Sure he could tell they were still following behind, but he would take it.
Aside from his heavy breathing, there was silence between them until they reached the hotel. Not a second sooner than he breached the doors, the red-eyed man returned the mortal to her feet. [b “They should of beat us here, follow me.”] He probably hadn’t needed to say any of that, but he thought it might be slightly reassuring to let her know she would be reunited with her friend shortly.
Across the lobby, Zenya sat behind her desk shooting him an exasperated look. All he could do in return was offer an apologetic smile. The gaudy woman shook her head, but didn’t say anything. It confirmed that Gaius must have already come through. That made things easier. Kael bee lined for Gaius’ room with Eris in tow. The halls and elevator were vacant the whole way there. Normally that would have felt off, but given the circumstances it wasn’t unsettling.
Assuming Gaius locked the door, Kael wrapped at it with the back of his hand. Footsteps came into earshot on the other side and the door opened. Kael motioned for Eris to enter first. He followed shortly after.
Dahlia’s heart nearly jumped out of her chest at the knock of the door. It startled her, but once she got over the initial shock she was excited that Eris had arrived. When Gaius went to open the door she was standing. The minute she saw her friend, the woman ran across the room. She wrapped her arms around the taller woman, squeezing tightly. It felt as though she was about to cry. Somehow she managed to hold it back.
Sure the whole gunfire and semi-kidnapping thing might have been a little traumatic, but Kael found the mortal’s reunion over the top. They had only been apart for thirty minutes max. He shook his head, but didn’t say anything. Besides, the longer they took with that the more time he had to figure out how in the hell he was going to explain what was going on. Thinking about it, he was sure there was no easy way about it. Sighing he spoke [b “Go ahead and sit down so I can try and get you up to speed.”] A tired tone in his voice betrayed both his mental and physical state. [b “You too, Gaius.”]
When everyone seemed comfortable at the small table Kael took a seat himself. [b “Let me start off with an introduction. My name is Kael and this is Gaius.”] He gestured over toward the other man. The girls gave theirs in return and he finally had a name to put to the face. Eris, it was fitting. [b “As you have probably surmised, we are not human and that medallion you picked up isn’t just a trinket. It belongs to Hades, and it links directly to his domain. His daughter was borrowing it, but rather stupidly allowed a mortal to steal. We were sent to retrieve it before her dad finds out.”] It was bare bones but it explained half of what was happening. [b “This is unfortunately why we confronted you a few days ago… Sorry about that.”] His apology was directed at Eris and while it probably sounded superficial it was sincere.
[b “The world we are a part of isn’t all that different from your own. Politics are shit there too. Recently there has been something of a coup and things are a mess. My family has backed our former leader for eons. They were part of his cabinet and everything. My guess is that whoever the usurper is, is trying to be thorough and take care of the lose ends. Both my family and myself are going to be targeted. I thought I would have enough time to finish the mission and skip town... Unfortunately we hired help, Miss Ursula that you met before. Turns out she was in the other side’s pocket. As soon as she thought she had the medallion she bolted and had an ambush waiting for us. Not only does that mean they know where I am, but my guess is that she isn’t going to be happy once she figures out she was tricked. You are going to be on the shit list too and there is no wrath like that of a Valkyrie.”] That was basically where they were at now. [b “I don’t particularly like others dying because of my mistakes, so I’d like to try and keep you both alive at least until this gets sorted out.”] He was vaguely sure that was everything. [b “Any questions?”]
Eris was about to go for something she never thought she’d have to use, but the red eyed demon spoke with anger. Snapping at them that they didn’t have time for argument, and that they had better get out of there before more heat showed up. Eris realized then he was talking to her too. Go with them? Were they insane?! She voiced those concerns, slowly backing away to find the gun hidden in her nightstand.
“I’m not going anywhere with you guys! I want to know what the fuck is going on!” She shouted. She stepped back when Red Eyes stepped forward.
“Look, this isn’t personal. You got roped into something huge and it really sucks, but your best chance is to come with us and let us protect you.”
“Protect me?! You both tried to assault me!” She shrieked back, but they were interrupted from their argument as a canister came crashing through the window of her bedroom. Smoke began to spray out from the can and fill the room. Instantly Eris began coughing even as Red eyes took the can and flung it back out the window.
‘Who’s here?” Eris coughed, but he didn’t answer her question just barked another order at her.
“Times up, you have approximately thirty seconds to grab some clothes and the medallion before we are getting the hell out of here.”
Eris debated what her next move should be, but the two men left her room for other things, and Eris turned around with no choice. She grabbed her black frayed pants and jumped into them, grabbed her boots and quickly sat down to put her socks and boots on. She reached quickly for her black leather jacket and from in her nightstand pulled out the gun which she quickly stuffed the small box of ammo for in her other pocket and went to rush out the room to collect the Medallion. She was stopped in her tracks when she spotted Red Eyes picking Eve from her tank. Was he really rescuing the snake? Why did she find that endearing? Glaring she marched over and reached into the tank as well, locking eyes with Red in the process and reached under Eve’s water bowl. There under the round bowl was the medallion. She quickly tucked it away in a lined pocket of her coat and spotted Dahlia, already dressed and looking highly confused.
“Eris, what is going on?” Eris could hear Dahlia’s fear. To be fair, Eris was barely keeping her wits about her. She didn’t have a chance to reply as Red beat her to it. In the meantime, Gold was shutting the lights and locking the windows, except the one to the fire escape. He was also shoving the couch across the apartment to block the front door.
“We’re getting out of here. Gaius, grab one and let’s meet back at the hotel. They wouldn’t dare raid that place.” Eris frowned watching as the one with silver hair and gold eyes turned from his current task and grabbed the closest one -Dahlia.
“NO! Dahlia!” Eris shouted reaching for her, but was stopped by Red, who picked her up just as soon as Gaius had grabbed Dahlia. They ran out of the window first scaling the fire escape and vanishing into the darkness. Eris was stunned with fear as she watched the one named Gaius flee with Dahlia, her shrieks of fear filling the night air. Eris would have turned to Red to hit him, but he grabbed her and jumped out of the window of her room with her. Eris got out one startled shout from the force of his powerful jump into the air before it was muffled into his chest. Around her gunfire exploded and Eris had no choice but to hold on.
[center ——————— ]
Gaius hadn’t hesitated to grab Dahlia and bolt from the apartment that was about to be overrun by whoever their enemy was. He held her firmly against his side with one arm, while the other helped to brace him when he jumped between two building to make his way up to the rooftops. He glanced behind him once his feet hit the rooftop of the apartment building to see Kael land on the next building and take off north to circle around back to the Hotel. Gaius took the direct route, and holding Dahlia began to sprint, jumping from rooftop to rooftop. If they could just make the Hotel, they’d be in the clear. It was a serious NO-no and taboo to fight on neutral ground. If they did then it would turn into total chaos.
“Hang on tight,” Gaius told her and vaulted from the ledge of a roof to one that was significantly farther than the others had been and lower. He landed more gracefully than a panther would have, and glanced behind him, setting Dahlia on her feet. “Keep up,” He told her and took her hand, but she seemed to be reluctant. “Listen,” He said sensing her nervousness to go any further, and miraculously managed to keep his tone level, and his temper stemmed. He glanced down at his hand holding hers and wondered if she was keeping him calm -despite his elevated sense of urgency. “I’m sorry I can’t take you back. I’m sorry everything is so confusing, and I will answer all of your questions in time. First I need you to run with me. I need you to trust me,” He said staring into her eyes and gripping her hand tightly. “If you do not, I can not guarantee your safety. Please,” He nearly begged. There was a sincereness in his gaze. He wanted to keep her safe -she’d been disrupting his thoughts since they started this mess. He couldn’t fathom why, but everything about her was highly appealing to him. The moment he caught a whiff of compliance from her, he took her hand and made her run with him across the rooftop and dropped down into an alleyway.
They were hidden and alone, and would be able to slip out onto the streets, keeping their head low and make their way to the old hotel.
“Keep close,” He advised and draped an arm around her shoulder, as he pulled the hood to his jacket up over his head. He made it look like they were just a regular couple out walking at night to some unknown destination. They walked briskly and in silence until the front of the old Hotel came into view. He quickly rushed forward to the door and opened it up to let Dahlia in. The moment she stepped through Gaius was able to heave a sigh of relief. Until-
“Oh Zeus, you can’t be serious!” Gaius whipped his head around to see the dark skinned Transvestite back at her desk. Today she was sporting gold bangles, and a metallic magenta head wrap with large golden hoop earring and sparkling gold lipstick. “You know Mortals aren’t safe, Gaius,” Zenya warned. Gaius frowned.
“There’s one more coming. Don’t tell anyone you saw her,” Gaius warned shaking his coat off and draping it over Dahlia and using the hood to cover her face and hopefully mask her floral scent. She was tantalizing enough for him -he wasn’t about to see what her scent could do with blood sucking leeches. “Besides, you’re human,” He reminded as he escorted Dahlia across the foyer and to the elevator. Zenya rolled her eyes and watched them, not really approving. The only Mortals she generally allowed to stay ended dead by morning.
“Just keep your head down,” Gaius whispered as they entered the elevator. They went up to his floor, thankfully avoiding anymore interactions and Gaius quickly led her to the apartment where he ushered her inside and shut the door quickly, locking it and turned to see Dahlia was standing in his apartment, draped in his coat and looking so unsure about everything. Something in his ached to hold her and comfort her -to brush that furrow from her brow, but the moment he took a step towards her he seemed to startle her. Quickly he raised his hands and stepped back towards the small kitchen area. “Can I get you something to drink? Are you cold? I have blankets…” he tried in an attempt to help her feel safe and comfortable. “Kael and your friend shouldn’t be far behind.” They didn’t get caught in a serious shit storm. Gaius planned to give them an hour or he’d go out and look for them himself. “My name is Gaius, if you need anything… let me know. You’re safe here.”
Inside the apartment was just about what Kael expected after seeing the outside. And thank goodness, had it been much bigger he might have had a conniption at the task at hand. Having to search a bigger space for a literal coin would drive him absolutely mad. Sighing, he left the Valkyrie to the mortal’s rooms. There were plenty of places to look in the common area.
With the assistance of Gaius he had been hopeful to find the thing swiftly, but there was no such luck. The pair looked the place top to bottom with not so much as a hint in sight. Growing bored with the task, he was pretty sure at this point it was with one of the girls. It made the most sense; they had just been too optimistic about the situation.
Gravitating towards the tank holding the constrictor, the red-eyed man smiled at the snake. Leaning down he began gently speaking to her. The creature responded swaying her head to and fro as he went on. He was on the verge of asking if she had seen if the human had hid the medallion in view, but before he had a chance a voice stopped him in his tracks. The voice of someone who was promised to sleep through this whole operation. Groaning, Kael hoped the blonde could talk her way out of it.
To his dismay this was not the case. As soon as the mortal’s voice rang out in a scream both he and Gaius were in the room quicker than a New York second. They were only able to catch the tail end of Ursula’s departure, and it was about as unpleasant as they come. The betrayal left the demon absolutely seething, but there was an underlying hint of panic as well.
Maybe it was desperation, his brain just looking for something to distract from the horrible situation, but his eyes fell slowly. On the way down they scanned the woman in front of him. Somehow before that point he had failed to notice her lack of pants. For the moment he let his focus stay there. The lightly toned shape of her legs cloaked in pearly white was pretty much picture perfect. He found himself regretting their first encounter yet again. He didn’t allow the feeling to consume him; but kept his eyes moving to the floor with a sigh.
When his partner mentioned wanting the girl’s help, Kael’s full attention snapped up to him. His eyes narrowing into a glare, what they hell was he thinking? Bringing more people into this was only going to make things even more complicated. Look where hiring Ursula had gotten them! The disgruntled expression didn’t leave his face as he looked back to the human who wasn’t having any of it. His feeling of animosity didn’t lessen until learning that the Valkyrie had been had. Even then it was only slightly. After all, it wasn’t much of a consolation and their going back and forth was driving him nuts.
[b “Enough! We don’t have time for this.”] He growled, bringing their attention to him. [b “My guess is this place is about to get lit the fuck up, so if you all don’t mind we need to get moving. We can sort out all the fine details later, but I for one would like to live to see that happen.”] Self-preservation drove his attempt at diplomacy more than anything else. He sighed, knowing he was being overly critical towards the woman. It really wasn’t like him. He turned fully toward her while still keeping his distance before continuing. [b “Look, this isn’t personal. You got roped into something huge and it really sucks, but your best chance is to come with us and let us protect you.”] The man hoped it was enough.
His gaze stayed trained on her fine features, as she seemed to inwardly debate what she wanted to do. The pause was long, too long for his liking. Kael hadn’t been exaggerating when he said they didn’t have time.
The crash of broken glass sounded and a dark gray fog began to fill the room. Spotting the canister on the ground, the red-eyed man was on it inhumanly fast. He chucked the thing back out the shattered window. Remnants of the smoke scattered in tendrils through the room like thin grabbing hands. [b “They’re here.”] The words left an unpleasant, bitter taste in his mouth. Their assailants had forced his hand. [b “Times up, you have approximately thirty seconds to grab some clothes and the medallion before we are getting the hell out of here.”]
Out of the room in a flash, the demon was on a more personal mission. He didn’t have the heart to abandon the snake, however there was one other thing he had forgotten. And she didn’t come back to mind until he saw her in the living room. Kael put off dealing with her for the moment. That was until he noticed the cellphone in her hand. Stopping in his tracks, he couldn’t quite make out her exact words, but whatever they were would likely make this whole thing worse.
Deftly his hand rose up, lifting his glasses. The demon’s red eyes glowed, borrowing into her dark ones. Her mouth stopped moving and he began to speak. [b “You are going to hang up the phone.”] The mortal acted as he gave orders. [b “Now drop it, and stay right there.”] The thud of the device against the carpet left him reassured as he went to collect the boa from her tank.
It didn’t take much to coax the slithery girl up his arm and around his neck, but apparently it was too long because long haired woman broke from his trance and ran off to her friend’s room. It wasn’t an ability he used often, so he was understandably out of practice. Aggravated Kael swore under his breath. He had been hoping to grab her before she ran into Gaius. Something about that chick threw him off and that was the absolute opposite of what they needed.
Terrified at having lost control of herself, Dahlia’s eyes darted across the room. The almost numbing sensation soon faded, and when she could muster the strength to move again she bolted for Eris’ room. It was late, so Ross hadn’t answered the phone but she was able to leave a message that she prayed was enough to let him know what had happened. Through the doorway she was able to see the other man she had met just earlier than night. What were the chances that they were the ones who were targeting her friend?
It wasn’t until she saw Eris safe and relatively calm that Dahlia’s pounding heart was about to get any rest. Although the scene was somewhat disturbing. They had complete and utter strangers in their home, ones that had previously attacked her. She seemed way too level headed as this was playing out. Clearly Dahlia was missing something. Skirting around the tall silver haired man, she reunited with her friend who was pulling some pants on. [b “Eris, what is going on?”] There was urgency in her voice, betraying the sense of fear she was trying to hide.
The voice that responded was not the one she wanted to hear. It was the glasses wearing one again. [b “We’re getting out of here. Gaius, grab one and let’s meet back at the hotel. They wouldn’t dare raid that place.”] She had entirely no idea what was going on anymore. Dahlia just thanked her luck stars that she had managed to pass out fully clothed and wasn’t stuck in a robe or anything.
Much to Kael’s chagrin, his partner grabbed the smaller one. Probably since she was the closest, but he had his doubts. Hopefully the rage demon could keep his wits about him long enough to make it back to safety. That left Kael with the other one. He wasn’t mad about it but he also wasn’t confident she was going to let this be easy. And while he was going to ask how she wanted to hold on, a shuffling coming from the living room put the kibosh on that. He rushed over, scooping her up in his arms bridal style and made a quick escape out the open window Ursula had used.
Not any sooner than their emergence did the crackle of gunfire fill the night air. Pushing the mortal’s head into his chest, he attempted to keep her covered and braced before leaping from the fire escape and to the roof of the next building over. He only looked back to make sure his fellow demon had taken a different route before pressing on.
The snake’s coil tightened around his neck. Enough for him to reassured that she was secure there with him bounding about. He couldn’t afford to be careful; there were two shadowy figures hot on their trail. Had there been more information on the pursuers, Kael might have stopped and took them on. But there were too many unknowns as things were. The best course of action was to flee and save the fight for another night. After all, the hotel wasn’t too far away. And if he kept to areas that were just populated enough, they wouldn’t be able to make any moves without drawing attention to themselves.
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