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[b “Oh nothing of consequence. I am probably going to die young. That's all." ]
Gaius arched a brow at her sudden jab of sarcasm. It he hadn’t expected such a comment. What in Hell had Dion told her? Gaius didn’t know, but he knew he wanted to understand what exactly was going to get her killed. Whatever it was, Gaius had a strong desire to keep it from taking Dahlia. He looked her over, her playfulness melting away. He did not like the idea of Dahlia dead, at all. Dahlia sensed his disquiet over the issue and quickly apologized for her harsh tone, and confessed she needed to talk but wasn’t interested in talking with Eris. Much to Gaius’ surprise, she wished to speak with him.
He found her request humorous, no doubt assuring that he was here to actually talk with her. He gave her a wan smile and a subtle bow of his head. His horns played curving shadows over his face from the daylight, but his eyes and ears were strictly on Dahlia. At her offer of a more comfortable space to talk, Gaius stood up taller and looked around through the dark shade of his sunglasses. It was still too bright for his liking, and he was rather tired of holding his stupid umbrella.
[+gold “I think that would be good. My Lady,”] he offered his arm to her, and to his delight, she took up her arm in his.
Gaius led them back inside where he could finally lower the parasol, and in silence he walked her through the large home and up a set of stairs to the guest rooms. He stopped outside his room and opened the door for her. It was dark, with just enough light to seen around in, but for Gaius it was perfect. They had brought in blackout curtains for his room, and closed the shutters to his windows. For not being entirely welcoming, the Maenads had been thoroughly accommodating.
[+gold “Please have a seat,”] Gaius offered a chair to her beside an empty fireplace. In this sort of darkness he could see the gentle glow of her aura radiate in the dark space around her. He took his own seat and removed his sunglasses, folding them carefully and setting them aside. The gentle ‘tink’ as they hit the wooden table between them was the only sound. The fact Dahlia was so quiet gave Gaius pause. He stared at her and noticed a moment of awkwardness, perhaps anxiety? He hoped he wasn’t making her feel that way. Hoping to dissipate her nerves he asked [+gold “So what did Dion say to you?]
After all she told him, he almost wished he hadn’t asked. The moment she’d said she was an Oracle, Gaius immediently felt the floor fall out from under him. If he’d been standing he would have fallen to a knee. An Oracle?! If Lucifer found out about her too? The outcome would not be nice.
[b ”My options are either stay hidden or find a god strong enough to keep me safe... So it looks like I am kinda screwed.”]
[+gold “An Oracle… you’re sure?”] He asked breathlessly.
[b “You probably know more about all of this than me, so I don't know why I am explaining it." ] She let out a nervous laugh. Gaius sensed it and he heard it in her voice. She assumed he knew all there was to know about being an oracle. He didn’t, all he knew was they made great conduits into seeing the future and influencing it. Or they were literally the mouth and hand of the Gods - a Prophet. With the current state of affairs between pantheons and lore alike… Dahlia would be in grave danger until she pledged herself to a God or Deity. As an immortal sin… Gaius qualified as a Deity, but he would never be as strong as a god.
For a moment Gaius was quiet as he processed her words, now would certainly be the worst time to mention that Lucifer knew about the Medallion, and at least that Dahlia existed, but it wouldn’t take Lucifer long to learn of what she was. It gave him the chills.
[+gold “I know that you will have a difficult journey ahead. I know it will not be easy, but… if you will have me, I will walk this path with you, and offer you protection, Dahlia Morgan.”] He placed a black clawed hand over his chest, where a heart would be if he possessed one. [+gold “Let me use my powers for something good.”] Gaius had a deeper meaning to his words. True to his nature, he was vengeful, and he wanted it against his family. Protecting Dahlia from them would be just the thing, and it gave him an excuse to keep her close. That was if she even accepted his offer.
Much like before, Dahlia did not feel like being stuck in her room [i and] alone with all this. It was going to have to be one or the other, and since solitude seemed to be a given, she chose to walk around. Maybe she would be able to find the way outside so she could go to the garden again. It was awful pretty. But then again, there might not be a need to rush. There was a chance that she would just stay here in Greece. If she did, she could see the flowers whenever she wanted. Sure, she would have to learn the language, and might never see her family again, but it was better than stepping outside and dying cause she got caught up in some godly drama.
This all played at her mind as she wandered. Her feet took her this way and that until a voice stopped her. Heart nearly jumping out of her chest, she had not seen or heard Gaius coming. Did being so sneaky come with being a demon? Or was she perhaps just that distracted? Once she saw him with that big umbrella she knew it was the latter, and she cursed her own obliviousness. Her face flushed in embarrassment. And it did not help that he seemed to be taking enjoyment out of her reaction. That smirk was so damn hot. Like, she knew he was attractive, you would have to be blind not to see that, but this was on a whole different level. She'd never seen him with that expression so it caught her off guard, much like his presence only moments ago.
Dahlia was in the midst of calming herself back down when he got along to asking her what she learned. There was not much time to debate talking to him about it before he mentioned Eris. Telling her friend what was going on was pretty much the last thing on her priority list. She was very much still mad about the lies... That frustration must have shown on her face, because Gaius was quick to defend Eris. Apparently he thought everyone had their secrets, but that was not true. She didn't. Dahlia did not keep anything from Eris, not before this. And she was sure that would come out of the woodwork given long enough. Looking down to the floor, she knew she could not be angry about this forever, but was so hard to get passed it in the moment.
Mad that it felt like he was trying to run the conversation in a way that got him exactly what he wanted, her words came out with a harsh tone. [b "Oh nothing of consequence. I am probably going to die young. That's all."] The sarcasm left a bitter taste in her mouth. Glancing back up at him, his playfulness seemed to melt away. Exactly what he was feeling, she could not tell, but she did know it made her feel guilty. Dahlia began to backpedal. [b "... I am sorry... I am frustrated, but I should not take that out on you. It's not your fault."] Really it wasn't anyone's fault. More of a terrible twist of fate, really.
[b "I need to talk about it, but I am not ready to go to Eris just yet... I'd like to talk to you, if you don't mind."] He was the one who offered, so it was weird that she would ask. But there was still a chance he only meant it in a polite way. [b "And we can go somewhere more comfortable for you."] Her eyes flittered between the thick parasol and the man underneath it. He did not look exactly comfortable, but that could have been the conversation as well.
The silver haired man seemed to take her up on the offer, leading her back through the house. Once again, Dahlia found she had no sense of direction in this place. It was not until they were standing in the hall that held their rooms, that she knew where they were headed. She followed him to his guest room. Inside, there wasn't a single ray of natural light. It have the place a strange, eerie feeling. One that was different from the rest of the home.
This was not their first time alone together, but after her encounter with Max, Dahlia felt a nervous to be here with him. Thankfully there were no couches. They each took their own chairs seated at a light wood table in the corner of the room.
After so long in silence, it felt awkward to break it, but she supposed she had to be the one to do it. [b "I, um, guess if what Dion said is right then I am supposed to be an oracle, or something like that."] It was kind of embarrassing to talk about. She sort of felt like a middle schooler who was making something up to sound cool or important. [b "He thinks there are going to be some gods who want to make a pact with me so we can tell the future."] Even after everything she had seen and heard, it sounded ridiculously far fetched. [b "But since I can only have one pact, that might make some waves..."] She had read enough Greek mythology in high school to know that you did not want to piss off the gods. And that was not going to be the only pantheon she was dealing with. [b "My options are either stay hidden or find a god strong enough to keep me safe... So it looks like I am kinda screwed."] At least those were the only options Dion gave her. The first being that she stay hidden here, though she knew from experience there were other ways of doing it. He just was not so kind as to tell her about them.
[b "You probably know more about all of this than me, so I don't know why I am explaining it."] She let out a nervous laugh, not really knowing how else to react. To her it was a lot of bad news. Dahlia just wanted to be normal. Of course she knew there was no such thing, but still. A regular old human would have suited her just fine.
Gaius had nothing to do all day. He sat in his dark room, pacing, and not giving a rats ass if The Alcones cared if he smoked in their home or not. He was impatient for the sun to set, or for Kael to at least come and visit him. All of the books in this place were written in Greek, he didn’t know where to go in this place that would be safe for him to travel to. He was impatient for sunset so he could venture out and find Dahlia. He was curious to know what she was up to and what Dion might have said to her. To impatient to wait for supper or for the sun to go down, Gaius grabbed sunglasses and an umbrella to shield him from the remaining afternoon sun and ventured from the room.
He was shocked to find the large home empty and quiet, but there seemed to be a great deal of movement going on outside. With a spy out a front facing window, Gaius was able to see that flowers and platters full of food were being transported to another place on the grounds. He surmised they must be preparing for the evening event. They certainly didn’t waste time, which was good, Gaius didn’t feel comfortable staying here, and there was too much going on outside of this sanctuary for them to be idle for too long. The Malumortis was still at large, and they ran the risk of exposing this colony to the vampire maniac that had been searching for Eris. He was turning from the window with umbrella in hand when his phone suddenly began to ring. He grit his teeth to see the number and answered it with a cold glare.
[+gold “What do you want you backstabbing bitch?”] from the other end the sultry giggles of Ursula could be heard.
[+blue “Is that really any way to speak to a lady?”]
[+gold “You’re no lady. I thought we agreed that you would get me the talisman-“]
[+blue “Because we’re such good friends? Please, you and I both know we only use the other, and what loyalty do I have for you? I have my own people to answer to. I’m curious though... where have you gone? I can’t find you.”]
Gaius glared at the phone, not surprised she would play coy. [+gold “Like I’m telling you where I’ve gone.”]
[+blue “I know you were summoned not too long ago. I wonder why that is -“] The phone flipped shut as Gaius was done talking to her, and not so stupid as to think she wouldn’t try and trace the call. Sure enough the phone rang again, but this time Gaius sent her to voicemail, and then shut his phone off.
The only good news that came from her call, was knowing that no one knew where Kael and Gaius had gone with the two mortals. He intended to keep it that way, but how the hell did Ursula know Gaius had been summoned? It didn’t sit well with him, and so he proceeded to scowl and brood as he walked down the halls of the mansion in search of anything to occupy his time. He took in the obnoxious opulence of the home, from the many preserved artifacts, tapestries, and gold idols right down to the Persian rugs, crystal chandeliers, and Italian marble floors.
It was during his walk of boredom he spotted Dahlia wandering the home herself. She explored with clearly a far more open mind, even if it did seemed weighted down by something. He followed her for a moment, knowing he couldn’t remain hidden with his ridiculous umbrella, and he certainly wanted to catch her before she went outside. She must have already gone to speak with Dion as well, he could tell by the furrow of her brow as she contemplated whatever revelations now known to her. He watched herm, and surmised her truly was the most lovely creature he’d ever laid eyes on. She had the purest heart, and a gentled soul. Two things he desired greatly. He stalked for only a moment, not wanting to startle her… at least not too much, but when he spoke it still came as a shock; breaking her solitude.
[+gold “So what did you learn?”] he asked from where he hid in the shadows. At the way she jumped by his presence, he couldn’t help but flash a handsome smirk her way. [+gold “You must have learned something important to be so deep in thought, but if you don’t want to talk to me, I understand. You would rather talk to Eris, I’m certain,”] mentioning the Maenad seemed to irk Dahlia, and for some reason that delighted Gaius, it meant a chance to have her time for once. She must still be angry from all the secrets thee Maenad kept. To be fair, Gaius didn’t blame the Maenad, Gaius had his own secrets as well.
He stepped out of the shadows, braving the sunlight and moved to stand at her side. He let her have her moment to be angry, but it was short lived, and she was contemplative once more, if not a bit hostile. He found it cute, seeing her so worked up. He let her speak her peace as to why she didn’t want to talk to Eris at the moment, and Gaius gave a solemn nod of his head an surprisingly added: [+gold “We all have our secrets, Dahlia. Try to understand why they were kept in the first place… so… what [i did] Dion say to you? Or do you wish to keep your own secrets?”] He mused to her with a playful grin.
[b "No, no they do not. But I suppose this is the sort of thing that shouldn't be left half done, so I cannot blame them."] While Kael was fairly certain nothing bad could come of her be partially awakened like this, he was not entirely sure. It was better to be safe than sorry, though that was not a rule of thumb he generally kept when living his life.
Her somewhat bashful response to his question brought a playful smirk to his lips. It was an unexpected reaction, but he liked it a great deal. It was cute in a way he hadn’t seen from her before. The snake added it to the list of reasons he was finding himself fond of Eris. A list that was getting longer and longer with each instance they spent time together.
Kael laughed lightly at her dramatic pose. He was a tad curious where she picked up this part of her personality. Clearly it wasn’t from anyone here. Or maybe it was, it wasn’t as though he really thought he was seeing anyone’s true face in this place. Either way, it pulled him back from his thoughts as she asked him to join her. [b “Anything to abate this boredom.”] His smile pulled into more of a grin, a sure sign that he was downplaying his delight to come along on this mystical mission of hers. Though, it appeared he did not have much of a choice. Eris grabbed ahold of him and was half dragging him down the hall before he even answered, not that he was going to complain about it.
He followed after the woman with little to no regard for where she was taking him, a sign of trust in her that he hadn’t noticed had formed. Nor did he now, but the sentiment was there whether he realized it or not. In the end they came to a garden. One he had not seen coming into this place. It’s chaos and general disorder felt more akin to Eris' general aura.
[b “I guess I can do that.”] He didn’t much know what was supposed to go in this wreath, but if they were leaving it up for her to herself, it must not have been a super exact science.
The pair walked around for a bit, he eyes wandered about as he tried to think what might be fitting for Eris’ personality and looks. Knowing floral languages might have come in handy right about now, or at the very least having an Internet connection to look it up, but his was out of luck with both. As he thought about it, the thin woman piped up and brought his attention back to her. She told him a little bit more about this place, and then somehow the conversation shifted towards him and his family.
[b “I am not too worried about it. Cornelius would have said something if our parents were in danger and I am half certain my mother can worm her way out of anything. She is pretty good at not being found when she doesn’t want to be.”] He rolled his eyes just thinking about the woman. [b “She is paranoid, and while I can’t say it’s without reason, a person can only take so much. Between her and my brother, there is entirely too much nagging at home… I don’t need them reminding me of every little thing that can go wrong, I just want to live my life, you know?”] He got the feeling she could relate, probably why she brought it up in the first place. [b “Anyway, that is enough complaining from me. Right now you have a lot more to worry about.”] He let that be the Segway back to trying to find some plants for her headpiece.
[b “How about those?”] He pointed at some anemones, not knowing what they were called. They were red with a striking white ring around the dark black center where the stamen sat. Next to them was a darker variety that he thought might also look well on her. [b “This with some thyme might look nice?”] It was almost a question, as he did not know what sort of look she wanted to go for. [b “I mean, if you want a simple sort of elegant look.”] The small leaves of the herb would contrast the larger flowers and help them to stand out. In his head it looked all right, but he could also see Eris wanting to go all out with this and make something that was just as busy and chaotic as the garden they were standing in.
Eris left her uncle’s office with a sour taste in her mouth. She had to begin her own preparations for the ceremony. She would have to find a robe that would fit, and construct her own wreath to wear. The colony would handle the rest. Those weren’t the most pressing issues on her mind, it was her Uncle’s ultimatum. Leave, or stay… but Kael would have to leave…. For some reason that thought was mildly upsetting, and she realized that aside from being keenly aware of how cute he was, she had also grown fond of him. She wasn’t ready to give up on the story either, or learn what Max was up to.
Having a bit of free time, Eris thought she might go look for Dahlia, but she also knew it was very likely her uncle had already summoned her to chat. She just hoped Dahlia didn’t believe everything Dion told her.
She was suddenly shocked from her brooding by the sound of Kael’s voice. Having just been thinking about him, among other things, she froze on the spot. He was smirking at her, his eyes playfully over the rim of his glasses and she felt her stomach flutter. She wasn’t sure how to respond to him, and he seemed to take the silence and their solidarity to his advantage. He had stepped in closely to stare into her eyes, and she couldn’t help but stare back, her cheeks flushing nearly as red as his bright eyes.
[b “Hmmm, you look the same to me. Did it not work?”]
Eris blinked. [#b22222 “W-what?”] She quickly reached up to touch her own face, fearful that something [i did] change. He asked further questions, admitting he didn’t know much. This Eris would use to her advantage. Firstly, she had to take a step back from him, she was starting to smell his cologne, and she couldn’t help notice how she liked it.
[#b22222 “I think my uncle just wanted to hear himself talk, told me what I could do. Didn’t sound all that great to me. Tonight’s going to be my ceremony. They certainly don’t wait around, which means I actually have to tend to a few tasks. I have to chose a robe, and I have to build my own head wreath. It’s all very mystic.”] She said striking a sudden pose. She grinned, and relaxed taking up steps at his side. [#b22222 “Why don’t you come with me?”]
She took his hand, partially because she wanted to, and because she wanted him to go with her. Dahlia was bound to be with Dion by now, and if not, Eris was positive she was the last person Dahlia wanted to see right now. At this point, not telling was just as bad as lying… they had been friends too long. Regardless that Eris had hoped it would never come up, and could be forgotten. How wrong she was. Kael was just the distraction Eris wanted and needed. Perhaps alone with him she could get to know him better. He was at least more open for conversation than Gaius was. He was always so serious, and boring.
[#b22222 “I’m taking you to the best kept secret in this place, you’re going to help me pick out what to put in my wreath.”] She told him, moving from holding his hand to wrapping her arm about his. She lead him towards an end of the house and down a set of service stairs. They opened up to a lower level of the house: the kitchens. Tables were full of plates of cheese, fruit, decanters of wine, olives, and a myriad of other native foods. She led her out through another door and into the herbal garden. It wasn’t like the pristine and geometric hedge and rose gardens off the main veranda. This garden was a chaotic beautiful mess of wildflowers and assorted herbs for cooking and healing. There was even an olive tree, two lemon trees, and a stone walkway lined with lavender and sage.
Eris smiled at it fondly. [#b22222 “This is where I would come to get away sometimes. I couldn’t get very far, but at least here… tucked in the side of this hill… I could pretend I was somewhere else. From what I’ve gathered you have a strained relationship with your family too. I see it in the way you interact with your brother. Do you think they’re alright after everything that’s been going on?”]
He nodded in agreement and hoped that Gaius' excess of paranoia was unwarranted for the time being. Kael was glad they on relatively the same page, even if the other demon was on a more extreme end of this spectrum. But that seemed to be the end of their talk, so the pair split ways. His guess was that the wrath demon was on his way back to his room. It was the only safe haven for him in this place filled with light. Kael felt like he needed a break too. He might not have been as affected as his partner, but all this light exposer was starting to wear him out. That fatigue drove his own decision to return to his room for a bit.
Knowing this trip would consist of a lot of waiting around; Kael wished they at least had a basic timeline to work with. Sitting around in suspense was far worse than knowing it would take three day, or whatever it was they were going to be dealing with. But just because he did not have anything in particular he needed to be doing, did not mean that he had to sit around in complete boredom. Once better rested, he struck out from his room again. This time with no particular goal or destination in mind, he just sort of walked around trying to get a feel for this place. And perhaps to find a common area to sit in. One that he did not feel like he was intruding in, because quite frankly whenever he happened upon some of the inhabitants in this place, they practically ran away. They did so with polite smiles, as not to be rude, but it was not much of a consolation. Not that Kael was really looking to chat with these people, so it was just as well. For now he was using this as an excuse to map out the house.
That was until he ran into a familiar face. Eris must have finished with her lesson, as he did not see her uncle anywhere about. [b “Ah, finally, someone who might actually talk to me...”] He smirked more than smiled as she sarcastic barb passed through his lips.
Looking at the woman, nothing had immediately changed about her aura. He stepped in for a closer look, leaning forward and staring into her wine-red eyes. [b “Hmmm, you look the same to me. Did it not work?”] She was certainly a maenad, so that wouldn’t have made much sense. [b “Or was that just a run down of your abilities and how to harness them? I’ll admit, I do not know anything about this process.”] Clearly Maenads were a pretty secretive bunch, so it was not like this was common knowledge. Dion had also mentioned something about a ritual planned for the night, so there was a good chance that was going to be the main event. Still, he had expected at least something after their meeting.
For the longest time, Dahlia just let herself roam about the park outside. It was a little chilly but it felt more like a nice autumn day than winter. Despite being dragged all around, at least she couldn’t complain about that. Everywhere they had visited was warmer than home, so she did not have to suffer the cold New York weather for a little while.
As she wandered around, it came to be that there was not a whole lot to keep her mind busy. Dahlia found herself wondering how Eris was doing with her training, and then reminding herself that she didn’t care, because she was mad at her. It was a repetitive process. The petite woman knew that it was stupid to be so upset, and that she would have to forgive her friend eventually, but she was determined to stick to her guns a least a little longer before folding like the huge ball of fluff she was… at least when it came to her friends.
Time seemed to escape her here. Dahlia did not know if it was her state of mind that made it so, or if this place was just magical. Neither would surprise her at this point. But eventually that same woman who had came to fetch Eris appeared in the garden and told her that Dion was ready to see her. It was odd that she knew where to find her, but she did not linger on it. Instead she followed quietly after the aunt to an office.
Once there, it was just the two of them and it was… uncomfortable. The small woman did not particularly want to be left alone with strange men at the moment, but given this was Eris’ family it would probably be okay.
The gentleman motioned for her to sit in one of the chairs on the other side of his desk, the whole while smiling kindly. She took the seat tentatively, but as nervous as she was, the atmosphere in this room was not bad. Rather jovial. Dahlia hoped, rather than believed, this was because he had good news for her.
[i [b "The best place to start, I think, is to ask you what you know, so that we might branch out from there."]] Dion's smile stayed in place.
She didn't [I know] anything, so it was difficult to know exactly wanted to hear. So instead, she decided to spout off some of what she heard from others. [b "When I was little I remember a lot of people talking about energies and auras around me. But I think that was circumstantial. It stopped right after I stopped seeing those people."]
He hummed, nodding his head as he listened. [I [b "That is not a lot... I can assure you, this is not circumstantial. Though, it is strange that such talk would halt directly after that."]] Dion wore a look of interest, as he probed for more information.
She shrugged, not super interested in diving any deeper on the topic with a stranger. When the man seemed to understand that she did not plan on divulging anything else, he went on. [I [b "I will be frank with you, child. You are in a rather dangerous position, especially with so little knowledge."]] He was amazed at how she had made it this long, and was still infinitely curious about that. His eyes made that clear. [I [b "You are an Oracle. At least that is what we would call you in our house of lore."]] The man went on to explain how she was a conduit for the gods, and given the proper contract, they could use her to glean glimpses of the future. A handy tool for anyone, but most of all to a deity who was trying to build or grow a following.
[I [b "Because you have not made a pact with anyone in particular, you are susceptible to the auras of all the gods. They are mingling inside of you and making you a beacon of sorts. The light will only get stronger when you leave these grounds, as they have been enchanted to negate exactly this sort of thing."]] Even if all that godly energy was getting in, it was not being transmitted back. There was a chance at safety here for her. So he went on to mention that, knowing full well if he got this girl to agree to stay, they might just be able to stop Eris from leaving.
The pair chatted about it a while long, talking about her options and things she should be mindful of. As far as Dahlia was concerned the outlook was pretty bleak. When it looked as though things were wrapping up, she had one last question. [b "May I?"] She gestured to a notepad that was out on his desk. When he nodded, she took it and jotted down the symbols that had once been laid into her skin. [b "Do you know what this means?"] This was might be her last chance to find out, so she decided to take it.
Looking on them for a moment, Dion finally had an answer to his question of how she had managed to hide away all this time. [I [b "These"]] He motioned to part of the scribbling. [i [b "Are severance sigils. And this..."]] His hand moved to the last bit. [I [b "Is a symbol denoting deities. As a whole this would cut any and all ties a person had to the gods. If the caster had the right set of skills that is. Symbols carry power, but things like this have to executed correctly."]]
Nodding, that explained a lot, but also left her with a whole slew of different questions. But those were not for him, so she let the conversation fully wind down from there.
[I [b "Think about your options for a while and get back to me about whether you would like to join our happy little colony here."]]
Dahlia gave him a polite goodbye and then excused herself. This was a lot to think about.
Gaius hadn’t expected to frighten Kael as much as he did, which caused a rare handsome smirk to grace his face. It wasn’t often he could catch Kael off guard, but when he did it was always a delightful experience for him. He listened to Kael speak his mind about taking only one woman. He was right, they were a packaged deal, and he was pleased to know that Kael agreed on this place being odd. He didn’t sense anything dangerous to them, but the fact he had an uneasy feeling made Gaius less inclined to stay. Perhaps Kael was right. Perhaps they were so used to looking over their shoulders and second guessing people that he didn’t think about the risks the Alcone Family would have to make to follow.
They certainly didn’t seem the type to risk it.
He knew the smell of fear well, and at mention of the Vampires last night, he smelled it from the Maenads. That was neither here or there. He couldn’t be worried about a group of fearful lore either. He gave in, relenting to Kael’s point of view and nodded in agreement. [#daa520 “You’re probably right. I think I’m just old and paranoid.”] he was also worried about Dahlia. Dion’s comment about her was vague and concerning. He wanted to know what the man meant at breakfast. Sure Gaius knew there was something different about Dahlia, but even he hadn’t been able to figure it out with his millennia of knowledge and experience. Whatever she was, even Lucifer had taken notice. What did Dio know that he didn’t? He could only hope that Dahlia would talk to him after she spoke with Dio. Which in itself was a pitiful thought as Gaius had yet to master the ability to say more than three words to her since their meeting.
Sighing Gaius looked around the opulent home. Not sure what to do, or where would be safe for him to sneak away to. He wanted a smoke, but couldn’t go outside. He couldn’t even follow Dahlia out into the gardens. He would never be able to walk in the sun with her.
[#daa520 “Let’s just keep our eyes and ears open. Don’t let the medallion fall into their hands no matter what. Maenads are obligated to protect and serve their gods. If they find out we potentially have Hades hanging out in the girls’ pockets, who knows what will happen. Let’s just be ready to bolt if necessary.”] Kael seemed to agree if not finding him a bit over dramatic.
Eris was stuck in her uncle’s office with her aunt listening to them breakdown maenad skills and that not all maenads are the same. They were able to explain how Eris felt so energized at clubs or bars. Anywhere where there was a large group of people putting off energy, Eris would absorb it. It also explained how Eris could eat very little and be fine, but when she was alone or isolated from people she could eat and eat and never be full. In a sense, Eris got the bulk of her nutrition just by walking through the city, going to work and interacting with other people. It made sense the abundance of food at every meal, and platters of meats cheeses and fruits constantly available.
It was a lot of information to absorb, but Eris was able to follow the bulk of it. When it came to other creatures of lore, Maenads were generally though of as lesser creatures. Some saw them as food, such as vampires. Others saw them as a battery- capable of being syphoned for their ability to create and redirect energy. Eris was beginning to feel like a glorified nuclear reactor. However after hearing how her kind were hunted down not only by vampires but demons of lore, and humans. She understood their fear. Demons, like Gaius, dark and cruel -the type that were evil incarnate. Eris didn’t believe Gaius had an evil bone in his body. Sure he was dark, brooding, and definitely dangerous, but pure evil? Eris found that laughable.
She found it more irritating that they said the flip side to that was she could control a small portion of demons.
[b “You can control snakes, snake demons, and some snake Youkai with the right power of persuasion.”] He meant demons like Kael. The incident at breakfast between Kael and one of her aunts finally struck her and her face twisted into a glare, anger bubbling up in her chest.
[#B22222 “You mean like you tried to do to my friend today?”]
[i “Friend? With a demon? Both of them?”] her aunt asked
Eris scoffed, almost shocked and yet, not surprised at all to hear them speaking this way. [#b22222 “Yeah! Obviously we are more than just work partners”]
[b “Don’t tell me you have feelings for this demon.”] Eris was quiet for a moment. Did she? She frowned, but looked to her Uncle and answered in the affirmative.
[b “Good, you cannot be friends with demons. They can’t be trusted. In due time they will betray you. They always do. We only let them in because they were with you. We assumed you already had control of the snake demon”]
[#b22222 “No! Why on Earth would I try to control someone? What’s the point?”]
[“The point is, it’s what you do!”] Her Uncle boomed. To the side her Aunt stood quietly, but her expression was scolding of Eris.[b “Your powers allow you to feed off of the hubris energies of mortals, and if you collect enough of it you can sway an entire village of humans to constantly feed you and serve you. You can take that energy or use it to amplify another’s powers.”]
[#b22222 “And you wonder why Human’s hunted us…”] Eris grumbled darkly under her breath, but loud enough for Dion to know… she wanted him to hear.
Her Aunt sighed and spoke plainly. [i “Eris, tonight we will take you through the ceremony. After which you will be a fully awakened Maenad. No two Maenads are the same. Some are quite special with special gifts… I have a feeling you will be one of them. Also… I hope you will stay. You and your friend, Dahlia are welcomed to stay. The Demons… can not remain.”] Eris frowned, taking in this news. All the work to get here, and she was here less than a full twenty-four hours and they were already pinning and ultimatum on her.
The lack of a response from Eris only pissed Dahlia off more. In all honesty, there was nothing she could have said to alleviate the situation in that moment, so this was just as well. But the petite woman wasn't seeing that. She was just angry and hurting and wanting to be back home. A night away from it all sounded perfect, but that like everything else was unreasonable. When it became fully apparent that her friend had no words to give her, she decided to leave. Dahlia turned on her heel and continued back down the hallway. The only reason she looked back was at the unfamiliar voice that sounded. It was only one of Eris' relatives though, so she kept on her path.
At first, Dahlia had decided to go back to the room assigned to her, but upon venturing further into the house she passed a window. The sun filtered in through the sheer curtains; it fell on the floor in a beautiful golden hue. That warm yellow was one of her favorite colors and it beckoned her. That breakfast was her first time out in the light of day in what felt like forever. And so, missing it already, she changed her course. The dark eyed woman wanted to spend some time in the sun before retreating back to her room to sulk. That or being called out to talk to Eris' uncle. He had mentioned wanting to talk to about something. She was fearful to find out what it was, as she couldn't imagine it was anything pleasant. Not with the way things were going at present.
Without anyone to guide her, the house was a maze, but with some time she made her way out of the labyrinth. It was not through the front door though. Dahlia exited through a side entrance into a garden area. That was just fine, as she liked all the finely manicured bushes and trees that lined a pretty pebbled pathway. Following it out, she was able to see all sorts of flowers. There were many she did not recognize. The climate and flora in this place were naturally different than back in the states, so it was quite a treat and helped distract from everything else for the time being.
As expected, the whole exchange between the women was awkward. The only solace Kael took in the situation was that they seemed to entirely ignore him. No one made any attempt to pull him in for an opinion or even acknowledge he was there. Not that that would have been very in character for either of these girls, but you never knew. Some people change drastically when angry. Women could be cutthroat. And for Eris he’d kind of come to expect it, but she completely shut down when Dahlia tore into her. He found it curious and wanted to move to comfort her. Even after knowing the pair for so short a time, he felt like the smaller woman would come around after she had some time and everything would be okay between them. But the Maenad’s aunt appeared and pulled her off before he had a chance to say a word. It was probably for the best.
Kael was planning to head straight back to his room so that he could pass the time there in peace when he heard Gaius call out to him. While he had felt his partner’s presence he hadn’t expected him to be so close. The snake nearly jumped out of his skin. [b “Fuck me, dude, give me a warning next time.”]
After listening to Gaius and taking a moment to compose himself the shorter demon nodded. [b “Yeah, no, this place is strange. I think there is a reason Eris got the hell out of here and didn’t plan on ever coming back.”] They would have to keep their ears to the ground. Though he thought his ears were deceiving him when the older man suggested leaving the girls behind. He really was not too sure about that. [b “I don’t know, it would probably be better to have both of them. Even if they are fighting right now, I don’t think Dahlia will go quietly without Eris. They are kind of a package deal and neither will let go of that token lightly.”] He was partial to the idea of keeping them close. Especially after promising to try and help protect Eris. It was kind of a vague offer, but he’d still feel bad going back on his word. A strange notion with him being both a demon and a snake, creatures known for being notorious liars.
He also didn’t really believe Gaius would leave his lady behind. Sure, he talked a big game now, but if there was any sign of danger later, Kael very much doubted he would be able to leave Dahlia stranded in it. Fate was a powerful thing…
Not wanting to bring it up, he put his focus elsewhere. [b “Besides, I think this family has too much to lose in leaving this place… if we all run, I doubt they will take the risk to chase us.”] There was no way to tell for sure, but Gaius was right on one thing. They needed to be ready to leave at a moments notice.
Eris withstood DAhlia’s angry rant to her. She had every right to be upset, and it filled Eris with an immense sense of guilt. She watched with saddened eyes as her friend stormed away further into the gilded house. She sighed heavily feeling sorry for Dahlia and herself. Who would have guessed a simple investigation into missing people’s would lead to this epoch of revelations. Eris didn’t blame Dahlia her frustration, Eris would have felt betrayed as well if the roles were reversed.
She knew it was best to let Dahlia have her space during this time. She needed to digest this new information, and Eris didn’t want to sway Dahlia’s mind in any direction. Eris could only hope that in the end, Dahlia might forgive her. Eris didn’t want to lose one of her only true friends, even if Eris hadn’t been a true friend herself. She had been too scared and too reluctant to share any true information about her family or their wealth.
Behind her came to soft patter of feet, and she felt a hand rest on her shoulder. A voice encouraged her to follow and begin her lessons. Eris gave the hall one last longing glance after Dahlia and followed her kin towards a large office. It was Dion’s and he was seated behind his large desk. Her aunt placed her down in a seat before taking the adjacent one.
[b “We’ll begin with teaching you what it is that you are capable of. Then we will show you how to do such things,”] Dion began. Eris braced herself for a long lecture but paid close attention to her Uncle’s every word.
Gaius had overheard the spiff between Eris and Dahlia. Hiding in the shadows was something Gaius was very adept at doing. The women’s departure from the halls left Kael alone. Gaius wouldn’t leave him that way for long and stepped out of the shadows enough to be seen by his partner. [#daa520 “There’s something strange about this place. There’s something strange about Dion,”] Gaius said simply, remaining in the shadows to let his partner come to him. They’d have to find a dark room to truly speak, somewhere away from prying ears. [#daa520 “I saw what that Meanad tried to do to you at breakfast… I’m impressed and pleased you were stronger than her, but it does not leave a taste of trust in my mouth… We should keep our eyes open and be prepared to flee if we must.”] Which would be difficult as they were pinned on a remote island in a locked compound.
Gaius was undeterred by such an obstacle. He’d steal a boat if he had to. He also had a fear regarding Eris, but he wasn’t sure if he wanted to voice that to his partner. Kael hadn’t been as immune to the women’s charms as he wanted to let on. They had been rare flickering moments, but Gaius had seen Kael take a keen interest in the Maenad. He didn’t believe it was anything quite like what he was experiencing over Dahlia, but he imagined there was at least a minor interest on Kael’s part. He didn’t sense any from the Maenad in return. Gaius liked Kael, he didn’t want to see him get crushed over a woman that would most likely be dead by the end of this mission. It was exactly why Gaius was refusing to allow himself to get any closer to Dahlia than necessary.
[#daa520 “They still have the medallion… so if this family turns on us, we grab the medallion and go. Dahlia currently has it. If we have to… we’ll take her as well. If we leave Eris behind, the maenads won’t follow.”]
This medallion sure was making waves among the hoards and covens of the Paranormal world.
Kael was pleasantly surprised. He hadn’t expected Gaius to get so heartfelt with all of this. But in the end it seemed to work out for them. There were fewer worries, across the board, even for himself. The conversation quickly digressed and the sin demon was given permission to leave the table and did so. Kael stuck around to finish with the food. It was more a sign of good faith than anything else as the conversation turned more mundane, though the air of worry did not entirely dissipate. For that, he could not blame them.
When it all wrapped up, there was mention of meeting Dion for the ceremony or whatever they wanted to call it. Kael still was not sure exactly what was going to happen there, but he was intensely curious. Perhaps he would try and tag along. It was worth a shot. The worse that could happen is that he would be kicked out and have to find some other way to entertain himself.
He did some mild plotting as he joined the maenad and her friend in the hall. Like the front foyer, everything here was finely decorated. The distinct feel of ancient Greece seeped from the style. The red-eyed man wondered if that was done intentionally, or if it just came naturally with the aura of this family. Probably a bit of both, not that it really mattered.
It was just the three of them heading back to the main sector of the house. As everyone else had gone their separate ways, the atmosphere took a turn. It started with Eris rushing past him. Her movement was hurried but not frantic and there was a somewhat concerned expression on her face. Kael thought there was a lot that could have caused that, but with some patience he discovered the answer.
The apology alone would have been fine, but with just a look he could tell whatever was wrong with the shorter woman was going to take more than a few sorry-s to diffuse. Stopping, he looked for a route of escape before things got awkward, but there wasn’t anyplace to go. Not with the pair blocking the way. Running passed would only make him look like an ass.
Dahlia’s mood had indeed worsened. After all the questions for the nymph family were through, it seemed as though they all switched back to speaking Greek. It really didn’t give the native New Yorker much to work with. Other than Dion, who she caught words from here and there as he spoke with his family. She had entirely no idea why he chose to keep up the English, but she did not question it.
All these feelings came to a peak when Eris came to her with an apology. [b “No, I’m really not.”] She was a long ways from all right. All right was about ten stops back on this really shitty bus ride of an adventure they were on. [b “I just don’t understand.”] Her voice came out with an exasperated edge. [b “I told you everything about myself, even the hard parts. Things I’d never told anyone else, but you couldn’t even spare me a single detail about the people here.”] It was always that they were crazy and cultish, but no actual aspects from her life before coming to the states. Thinking back on it, Dahlia realized this was something that had been bothering her for a while. There just hadn’t been a chance for all the annoyance to surface, not like this.
It probably wasn’t fair to dump this all these frustrations on her friend all at once, and she knew that. But between this and the droning in her head that called her back to darker times, Dahlia was losing her optimistic self. She placed a hand on her head, shaking it as she tried to find words. [b “I can’t play this game with you, Eris. I don’t want to comfort you because you were too caught up in whatever this is to include me in any of it; I need to focus on me right now.”]
Gaius was silent through the better part of breakfast, allowing Kael to take over explaining how they’d come this far, and yet... they’d only begun to scratch the surface of what was really happening. Around him, the Maenads listened and watched curiously to Kael’s tale. Gaius was more preoccupied with what Dion had said earlier to Dahlia. Gaius had sensed it too, but the concept and full understanding were beyond his grasp. There were some things even a primordial demon didn’t know, but where Dahlia was concerned Gaius was determined to know all he could. One thing he knew for sure, was that even Lucifer was interested in her enough to know about her and her importance to Gaius. It was dangerous just for him to be here, and it was the truth that by allowing them to stay the Maenads endangered themselves.
He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. It was stifling hot for him, and the sun was blinding. Even with the umbrella shading him from the sunlight, it still burned. It wasn’t just the sunlight either, but the entire colony gave him a strange vibe. Had they unwittingly walked into a dangerous situation? Or was Gaius simply becoming paranoid? Gaius watched as one of the Maenads reached over to grip Kael’s shoulder, in an attempt to persuade the snake demon to reveal the truth. Gaius‘ lip curled with irritation, a subtle growl developing in his throat. It never had a chance to live as Kael handled the situation perfectly and the Maenad, embarrassed retreated back to her own space.
The conversation seemed to calm from there and for a short quiet time, everyone simply ate. Dion was in thought from everything he heard, and Eris finally reached for her plate to eat. After a moment of silverware tinkling, glasses being set upon the table, and quiet murmurings between small groups of the family; Eris spoke.
[#b22222 “Uncle Dio, why did we go into hiding in the first place?”] Dion explained that the Maenads were being hunted by Roman Christians as well as some other members of the Lore, specifically creatures that could harness their power, such as certain Demi-gods, demons, but their greatest threat had been the Vampires of Eastern Europe. Dion had no choice but to round-up his people up and run away for one of the many secluded Greek Islands where they had built their home and had been ever since.
[b “Master Gaius is of a breed of demon that could siphon your energy away if he knew how... which... I doubt he does.”] Dion finished with. Gaius looked at him through his dark shades and remained impassive.
[#daa520 “Even if I could, I wouldn’t use Eris that way. We have become a close group through this. I consider Eris a friend.”] Eris gasped and looked over at Gaius.
[#b22222 “Really? Aww, I knew you liked me.”] Gaius made no further expression but turned to look at her with a serious expression.
[#daa520 “We are here for you. For you to learn and to grow. Take this seriously, and drop the humor. It’s clear you have a past to reconcile with. I suggest you do so soon, because the longer we stay here, the more the Malumortis can spread. The more people will go missing, and the more people will die. The threat of our exposure is imminent, and there’s no telling what will happen to our kind, humans, or the world in general if we are found out.”] Gaius warned her. Eris turned sober, nodding her head in understanding.
[#b22222 "So no pressure,"] Eris murmured taking a rather large sip of her breakfast mimosa.
[b “You make a rather good point, Master Gaius. I’ll see to it that the ritual is prepared for, and tonight we will awaken all of Eris’ full abilities. As you said, time is of the essence, and we can not waste a moment of it. Since Eris is assisting you, we will see to it she is fully prepared. Her success ensures our survival as well. From what you have told me, we have a vested interest in your mission and will help in any way we feasibly can.”] Dion spoke intermittently between bites of his breakfast. [b “Enough business, for now, I know all I want to know and am satisfied. Let us finish this wonderful meal, Master Gaius you may retire back into your dark room if you so desire. Thank you for joining us.”] Gaius gave a nod of his head, not bothering to wait a moment longer. He stood up taking the umbrella from the footman and left the table to retreat back into the safety of the houses shadows.
With Gaius' departure, the table turned towards more mundane daily topics. For Eris, it was a chance to catch up on what her family had been up to in the years of her absence. Mostly it was who had built what in their home, or who had the most appealing garden. Trivial things Eris was not interested in. Eris finished her meal and made to stand up seeing that both Kael and Dahlia were also finished as well. [b "Eris, I want to begin your training soon. We will start in the next hour, my office suite."] Eris looked over at him with nothing to say, partially dreading it partially looking forward to it. Gaius was right, she had to get over her childhood.
She looked to Kael and Dahlia, asking if they would like to leave with her when she noticed Dahlia didn't look particularly pleased. Eris realized that everything must have been a lot for Dahlia to take in. Honestly, Eris didn't know how to approach the situation, anxious that she'd destroy their whole friendship. She knew for certain she would destroy it if she did nothing. She passed Kael to speak with Dahlia and walked with her from the table to the interior of the home.
[#b22222 “Dahlia? Are you alright? I… I’m sorry, I can tell you’re upset. I know this has to be a lot to digest. I should have told you about my family, but was too much of a coward to do so…”]
Walking back the way they’d come, it wasn’t long until a smartly dressed servant pointed the pair in the right direction. Kael wasn’t too terribly excited when he discovered they would be meeting outside, but actually walking out into the bright light of the morning he caught sight of Gaius. He was about a million times worse off than him, so he bit his tongue and dealt with it. The golden rays were irritating, and with enough time they would come to burn him, but he’d probably be fine for the duration of a breakfast gathering.
The two found their seats. It wasn’t difficult as they were last to arrive, but the nameplates did cement it fully. Kael’s place was next to Gaius, which was to be expected. What wasn’t expected was that they jumped straight in to it. Kael had thought they would make some polite conversation while eating, but no. He watched as Eris went back and forth with her uncle. He found it impressive to say the least. Nearly everyone in this room had more ability and authority than her, especially Dion, but it didn’t stop her from speaking her mind. The whole scene brought a smile to his face, despite the subject matter being rather serious in nature. Though, the sentiment faded a tad when accusations of putting in the girls in danger turned the demons’ way. It pissed him off, but he kept quiet. Protesting too much would rouse suspicions.
As for Dahlia she was getting weird looks from more than one person and it made her severely uncomfortable. It even got so bad that Eris felt the need to point it out, which made her felt even more self-conscious. This place was odd.
Watching as things unfolded further, Dahlia continued in her silence. No one seemed to interact with her directly, which was nice. Though eventually a question did come to mind when Dio mentioned Eris practicing her abilities. [b “Um… excuse me, Dion.”] She called to get the man’s attention. [b “How long do you think it will take for Eris to learn all of this?”] The mortal woman did not want to be stuck here any longer than they had to be. This place had a weird vibe, probably part of the reason Eris had kept quiet, though she still didn’t think that excused it.
[I [b “That all depends on my niece.”]] The man spoke with a kind smile, it was reassuring. [I [b “But worry not, there is safety here for you. It will be a reprieve from the madness you have undoubtedly endured. There is no one after you here.”]]
She found it odd that he specifically singled her out in that statement. Her brow furrowed. [b “No one has been after me…”] Well, not including Max. But he was just a creep and she got the feeling that wasn’t what he was talking about. Other than that she couldn’t think of anyone who had singled her out. Everyone wanted the medallion or had some grand scheme for the human race. The idea that anyone would be looking for her directly was frightening.
Looking back at her, lifting a brow, it looked as though he didn’t believe her. Not at first, after watching her, and seeing her looks to be truthful he spoke again. [I [b “Interesting… Somehow this must have been a recent development. I think it best that we have a chat later. It seems there will be a lot for you to learn as well, child.”]] He didn’t look entirely happy about that, which was worrisome to her.
Things moved on again, but now they were being called for more details. Dahlia left this to the men. They were demons; deceit shouldn’t be a problem.
[b “Well,”] Kael began. He tried to think of a way to put it so that he didn’t give too much information, but also didn’t sound as though he was completely avoiding the topic. Honestly, he was at a disadvantage here. He concluded that it was best to take Eris’ lead and leave their original objective out of this. [b “As she said, it all started with the disappearances. They were getting out of hand in that area so we were sent to investigate.”] He motioned between himself and Gaius. [b “We came across a ketamine trail that seemed suspect. It happened to be the same one us Eris and Dahlia were following, so eventually we crossed paths... and with the two of them being rather determined, they convinced us to join forces so that we can have easier access the mortal side of the investigation.”] He also redacted Kara and Ursula. No need to make this any more complicated. Dion only asked about the immediate case dealing.
[b “From there things got a little dicey in New York… We didn’t have much information but people were already on our tails. So in order to keep those two safe.”] He put emphasis on the last word, still not entirely over the previous allegations. [b “We moved to LA, knowing big operations like this usually sweep the globe and have hubs in metro areas. There we found another trail, again highly dependent on ketamine, but this one led us to some answers... The Malumortis are at work.”] Another dramatic reaction came from around the table, gasps and sounds of fear filling the air. But this time the family did not immediately jump to say give their two cents.
Kael was able to continue. [b “Along the way there were some stressful situations and magic that could have brought out Eris’ change. Though we can't say for certain exactly what did it... Either way, things became more perilous for her, so she wanted to come back here to try and find a way to protect herself. And that is where we are currently.”] He thought it sounded pretty coherent even if they were missing large arcs of their story.
Now that he concluded, whispering started up amongst the table once more. The woman adjacent to him was looking him over, skepticism in her wine red eyes. [b “So, that’s all. There were no other happenings?”]
He had already told them about the malumortis, what more did this lady want? Kael could tell she must have been the pessimistic sort. The type who thought when it rained, it poured. And while she was not wrong here, he really just wanted her to back off and accept what she’d been given. [b “I don’t believe so.”] He tried to leave room for Eris to elaborate further details if she wished.
Looking over back to the youngest maenad, he nodded, as if to say he was done here and she could take it away. But he felt a soft pressure on his shoulder. Turning, he saw the woman next to him had placed her finely manicured hand at the source. [b “Are you sure?”] She spoke in a soothing manner.
This was exactly what Kael had been worried about. It felt as though he was being lulled into a euphoric sense of security by her aura as she pointedly directed it at him. The snake-charming bitch was trying to force his hand, but try as she might, he was determined to keep tight lipped. It helped that she was attempting to be discrete and was therefor dulling her abilities. [b “I most certainly am.”] He smiled pleasantly, but a flash of his eyes told her he knew exactly what she was trying to pull. She did not seem all too pleased with the response, but she did take her hand back.
He hoped that would be the extent of that. As much fun as all these intoxicating energies could be, it wasn’t ideal at the moment.
Eris woke up that morning to the sun shining far too brightly in her room. Her room hadn’t changed a bit since she’d left for school with the intention of never coming back here. She groaned into her pillow, attempting to burry herself within her bedding, but knowing it was pointless. Her room was still painted a pale grey with white trim, the floor was made of dark wood and the bed was nothing more than a mattress and boxspring on the floor. The walls were covered in music posters and artwork done by her friends from over the years, and photos she had taken in her youth. It was the one part of the house that her family had let her make her own, and had clearly left untouched in her absence. The bedding was even the same plain black sheets with a simple off-white knitted blanket on top. Despite her families wishes to decorate the room, Eris wouldn’t let them. If anything her lack of care or decor in the room was a small way she was able to rebel against them. The stolen stop sign and caution tape still attached to her door was another clear deterrent to them not to enter or touch her space.
And yet… despite her ire with them, she found comfort in knowing they had kept her things as they were for her.
Breakfast was outside on the pool patio. The long glass and marble table was set with bone white china, gold cutlery, and crystal glasses filled with water. The family was already seated and helping themselves to the assorted breakfast foods with quiet chatter amongst them when the house guests arrived. With the warm and bright weather Eris opted for a black skater dress and black hat with sunglasses. Everyone, including Eris was barefoot, but she wasn’t the only one in black. Most of her family was dressed in white or bright colors. Gaius also sported black. Even in the heat he was dressed in a black turtled neck, black slacks, shoes, and even gloves. He too wore shades, and carried a wide black umbrella over his head to keep him in the shade. He did not look pleased.
Honestly? Gaius was already in pain. The bright opulence of the home coupled with the truth they were going to be having breakfast outside made him cringe. His skin was at least covered and he also wore a hat to help further shade him with the help of his umbrella, but he knew this breakfast was going to be a living Hell. He took his seat at the table and he knew it was his seat because there was an actual card with his name on a plate. In large scrawling gold letters on the black card read: [i Master Gaius of Sin].
-[#daa520 [i Because that’s not creepy at all… they already know exactly who you are… fuck.]]- he thought to himself and sat down.
He looked over to Eris who looked back at him from behind reflective aviators, and then towards her Uncle who had his eye on her since she sat down. Gaius could feel the tension between them and he wasn’t even seated near Eris.
Dahlia and Kael showed up next and they were the last to join the table. Kael took the seat beside Gaius and Dahlia beside Eris. Then Dio spoke to them all.
[b “Kaliméra, good morning. I hope you all rested well?”] Dio asked and when assured they had he nodded and waved a hand to a manservant who walked over to Gaius and took over the umbrella holding it over his head for him. [b “I’m so glad to hear it. My home is your home for as long as you need. Now that Eris is returned she can finally learn her heritage. Tell me, how did you manage to convince her to return?”]
[#daa520 “It was her idea to come here.”] Gaius stated simply. This earned Eris several curious looks from her family.
Without skipping a beat Eris growled at her family, [#B22222 “I deserve to know exactly what I am.”] Dio nodded his head, not disagreeing, but holding a finger up at her to stop talking.
[b “You were not ready, and you left so suddenly we could not tell you, for speaking it would not have been enough. You, would have wanted proof. That is not something we could have given to you in New York. Though it seems the truth has found you-”]
[#b22222 “It hath bringeth me home. Praise Sweet Baby Jesus…”] Dio seemed unfazed by Eris’ comment and continued to talk, now to Dahlia, Kael, and Gaius.
[b “Eris has always been high strung. It is no surprise she has developed into a full Maenad. Had she not run off to college she would have gone through an Awakening Ritual on the night of her eighteenth summer solstice. On that night she would have either become a Maenad or she wouldn’t have. We are glad to see it happened naturally. Though, troubled as to what might have caused it… perhaps you two can shed some light on that?”] He waggled his finger between Gaius and Kael. He eyed them with olive green eyes, and a dark curl fell forward on his face, before he lifted up a bite of his bread and fish taking a bite.
Gaius glanced over to Kael, but both men were unsure as to what might have caused it. Their theories revolved around Eris having been in life threatening situations. This concerned Dio and he looked to Dahlia. He had seated himself at the center of the table and across from them. [b “And you child, have you been put in dangerous situations? Oh no… not good. Now you’ve dragged a mortal into danger… what sort of threats were made?”] he asked Eris.
[#b22222 “Well I have a Vampire who wants to eat me. So there’s that. I’ve been attacked by them at least twice now.”] At the mention of Vampire, several at the table gasped, and cursed in ancient greek. One even spit at the floor and cursed all Vampires. Others were more concerned that a vampire even knew of a Maenad.
[i “Dion, if even one knows about a single Maenad, they’ll realize there’s more and tell others. This region will be over run and we will be in danger once more!”] a woman warned, her voice angry and frightened.
“It’s bad enough we allowed the two demons on our compound. A Mortal we can hide from-“
[b “SILENCE!”] Dio slammed the table, making everything rattle from the force. With the table quiet Dio pushed his hands through his shiny gelled black hair and then straightened his white linen button down. [b “Last I checked this is still my colony, and I was the head of this family. I decide what we will do. What I say, goes. The demons are welcomed for as long as I say. Understand?”] No one spoke against him and he returned to eating his meal. [b “Aside from Vampires, what other mess have you found yourself in?”] Eris glanced to Dahlia then, a nervous look in her eyes behind her aviators. She wasn’t ready to tell her family about the medallion just yet, and so she quickly spoke.
[#b22222 “Nothing else, just a story. That’s what caused this whole mess. We were looking into missing people around Hells Kitchen and discovered an underground group. We ran into these guys and have been working together ever since.”] Dio looked unconvinced and eyed the demons.
[b “You two just decided to work with two seemingly normal mortal women? Out of the blue? The Covenant must love you two.”] Dio mused, but he was not a man to be fooled or trifled with.
[#daa520 “I can assure you [i Dion], there was never anything normal about them.”]
The tone of Gaius’ voice caught Dio with a smirk and his eyes flickered over to Dahlia. Amusement and curiosity in his gaze. [b “Yes… yes… I see what you mean…”]
[#b22222 “Okay, what the fuck? Stop looking at my girl friend like that, Uncle D. Can we just discuss how you can help me be a better Maenad, or at least understand what I can do so I can finish this story and help these guys close their case?”] Dio looked Eris over then and nodded.
[b “That was without question, dear niece. You have much to learn. I hope you understand the circumstances. You might have missed you ritual, but we will see to it that you have it, and then you will know all you need to know.”]
[#b22222 “And after that?”]
[b “Practice,”] Dio said raising his glass with a grin and drinking his water. Eris frowned, she was still hurt, but she understood now… or at least it was a well crafted excuse.
[b “So… friends of Eris… tell me more about this case you’re working on.”]
Dahlia was glad they didn’t have to wait long to find Eris friend. She’d already been through one entirely too eventful night. The woman didn’t need another one that involved tracking down some guy with a boat. Introductions went by quick. Alec seemed nice, she shook his hand gladly, though was a little surprised that he knew about her. She might have heard his name a few times, but the longhaired woman didn’t know anything about him. Eris seldom talked about anything Greek, not even her family or friends. Dahlia always figured there wasn’t a whole lot to talk about. Well, aside from them being crazy, but maybe that was not the case after all.
The ride out to the island was long and most of the people aboard didn’t really know what to do with themselves. It was officially too dark for Dahlia to see much of anything off the side railing of the ferry and for Kael; he was too tired from the transportation to what to do much of anything. He found a chair out on the deck and claimed it as his own. The new night air was cool, but it kept him awake so he didn’t much mind.
The ferry trip inevitably came to its close, but there were plenty more surprises in store for everyone. A butler being one of them. The snake found it curious, as Eris really did not seem the type to be exactly comfortable with that sort thing. But perhaps there was the reason for that. He really didn’t expect to find out, not with how confused Dahlia looked about the whole situation. If the Maenad’s best friend had been left in the dark about what was going on, the red-eyed man very much doubted he was going to get any answers.
There was more than confusion whirling behind Dahlia’s eyes. There was confusion, curiosity, and hurt. A monstrous amount of hurt. She had thought they told each other everything, but that obviously was not the case. Somehow this made her feel even worse than earlier. A feat she hadn’t thought possible. Why did everything have to happen all at once? Tonight was rivaling for one of the worst nights of her life. The woman kept quiet as they were ushered into the extravagant house.
Kael heard Gaius comment and rolled his eyes. He had to restrain himself from punching the other demon in the arm. [b “Yeah, yeah, we’re all a little excessive.”] Much like Eris, it wasn’t his fault his family lived the way they did.
As reunions went, this one was short and sweet. No one seemed very interested in talking about anything that could be considered important. It seemed rather familiar to Kael, although he didn’t want to judge too quickly. It was late and there was a chance they might actually sit down for some answers tomorrow, but then again it might just play out into more avoidance.
Dismissed for the night, Lucius escorted them across the large house. The dark haired man was ready to pass out. As intrigued as he was at everything that was going on, sleep was taking precedence at the moment. Though he did stick around as Eris gave them one final run down and passed the medallion onto Dahlia. He mentally noted where her room was, just in case, before giving his farewells to the others and entering his room.
Oddly enough, the shorter woman still did not have a lot to say. She tried her best to put on a brave face. Knowing that she would only feel worse if she took her insecurities out on Eris. Dahlia smiled tiredly as she looked up at the other woman. There was a faint nod of her head as she stuck out her hand and took the token. Her heart stung at Eris’ thanks for trusting her. Could she trust her? Dahlia knew it was a stupid question; she needed to be rid of this terrible mood before she said something she regretted. It caused her to rush their parting. [b “Yeah, I can take it. No problem. You make sure to get some rest too.”] The coin like item felt warm in her hand, it must have absorbed the Maenad’s body heat.
Retuning Eris’ embrace, Dahlia squeezed her lightly before waving her off to bed. It was time to retreat to her room as well. But before she could open the door, a hand stopped her. Dark eyes following the black-clawed fingertips up, she saw Gaius. He reminded her that he was close by. She knew she was not the best actress, but with her exhaustion as an excuse, she didn’t think her performance was that bad. [b “Oh, umm…”] She didn’t know what to say. It felt like he knew she needed something right now, and even though he didn’t know what it was he was trying. It was a simple gesture, but it was enough. [b “Thanks, you too.”] He practically ran away after that.
Kael had been the first one back to his room, but he could hear Gaius’ attempt to reach out through the walls. He snickered. That’s what he got for being so cheeky earlier. The man smiled as he collapsed on the bed, instantly falling asleep. He very much doubted anyone here would be trying to murder him, but if they were he was making himself a very easy target.
Despite being told to get some sleep, Dahlia knew it wouldn’t be so easy. As she looked about the large room, she felt it was too big for a single person. Her eyes fell to a door over in the corner. It must have been a bathroom. Did all the guest rooms here have on suite restrooms? She didn’t know but she trudged on that way in order to see if it was a full bath. It was. The white tiled design included a full shower and tub.
Turning back to the bed, the night’s events came to the front of her mind. Despite there being literal hours between now and then, it was like she could still feel Max’s hands on her. She felt dirty. Perhaps that shower could be of use after all. Going back, she fiddled with the series of knobs until the water reached a temperature that was close to scalding, but not actually hot enough to burn her.
Going through the motions she removed the days grime, but she still didn’t feel clean. The petite woman scrubbed her skin over and over, but no matter how much rose scented soap she used, it didn’t work. Eventually she just sat on the porcelain floor and let the water run over her. She must have stayed there for an hour expecting the water to run cold. But it never did. In that time, Dahlia cried until her eyes were puffy. And regardless of how exhausting it was, she did feel a little bit better. The woman was able to think a little clearer. Her feelings were still hurt, but she knew there must have been a reason Eris never brought any of this up. It wasn't some grand scheme to alienate her further... She was able to look on the bright side of things when it came to Max as well. At least things hadn’t gone any further. Nothing here was the worst-case scenario, and she was choosing to take solace in that.
Twisting the golden handle until the water came to a stop, Dahlia stood and readied herself for bed. Picking up the medallion, she examined it. Did they really think their was a god trapped in this thing? It seemed a little far-fetched, even with everything she’d seen already. But it was better to be safe than sorry so she stuck it under her pillow before getting comfortable and passing out. Sleep came quickly with her mind a little better sorted out. Expending all that energy on crying didn’t hurt either.
When everything was still, and it seemed all the excitement had drained away from everything, one more unexpected thing came to pass. It came in conjunction with a dream. Dahlia’s more specifically. There was a black backdrop, almost as though she wasn’t dreaming at all, but there was a murmuring in the distance. A low voice that she couldn’t quite make out into intelligible speech. But then as though something snapped, the man’s voice came through. He was calling for her, wanting something but before she could hear what it was he was drown out. Becoming one among many, there were so many voices she couldn’t single any of them out.
Outside, in the real world her aura was flaring. Pulsating like a beacon, there was a solitary burst and then it faded down some. The brightness that usually cloaked her was magnified, but it was nothing compared to the surge that came and went before it.
By the time she woke, the voices were gone. All that remained was a persistent buzzing in her ears. The mortal woman thought that might have been what caused the bizarre dream. There wasn’t much time to dwell on it, as shortly after that she and the others were called down to breakfast.
Kael did not wake until there was a knocking at his door. He was groggy, but that came from oversleeping. Quickly washing up, he made his way out to the hall where he found Lucius. The smartly dressed man seemed to be waiting for him and the others to escort them back down to the formal dining area. The natural light was jarring. And while it wasn’t as detrimental to him as his partner, it was definitely grating. He wondered if Gaius was going to be able to join them at all with all these windows that lined the walls. Well, he would find out soon enough.
When Dahlia exited her room, Kael noticed an immediate difference. What in the hell happened to her? At the very least, it seemed supernatural. But whatever it was was lost on him. More than anything it was frustrating. Nothing could remain simple and at face value. Honestly, he just wanted a single day with no surprises. Something he knew wasn't liable to happen anytime soon.
Lavrio wasn’t hard to get to, though Cornellius was certainly put out by not being able to follow. Eris partially just wanted to get it over with. Her family could be a lot to deal with sometimes. She also felt back for Dahlia, she could see the girl was exhausted and wanted to be able to see the sights. She made a personal promise to bring Dahlia back soon and let her do all the exploring her little heart desired. Knowing that she wasn’t human wasn’t just hard for herself, but she could only imagine what it was like for Dahlia to learn the same.
The wharf wasn’t entirely deserted when they arrived. Most of the people were leaving after arriving on their ferry. The docks however, were entirely empty. There were a few lonely crew members leaving for the day, and seeing the quartet arrive earned them odd looks. Eris however knew exactly where she was going, and so at Kael’s question she gave a nod of her head.
[#B22222 “Didn’t need it. My friend Alec runs his own Ferry. It’s his family business, but his grandparents are long time family friends, so that’s how we know each other -there!”] She pointed towards a building that still had its lights on as well as its lights over a dock that housed a 20’ long boat for personal ferries, charters and fishing excursions.
The door to the building opened up and a tall swarthy man, easily in his late 20’s with jet black hair, green eyes, and a handsome smile with straight perfect white teeth, walked out.
[b “Eris! You really are here!”] He rushed out to greet her, wrapping her in a hug and lifting her off the ground. They kissed the others cheeks with familiarity. Eris was tall, but so was Alec giving Kael and Gaius a run for their money. A genuine smile graced Eris’ face at being reunited with a longtime childhood friend. [b “You bring friends?!”] He asked setting her back down and waving to the remaining three. Eris looked back and nodded, an easy smile of her face.
[#B22222 “Yeah! This is my best friend Dahlia, and this is Gaius and Kael.”] Alec looked both demons over, but was completely unaware as to what they were. Alec reached over to shake their hands, and waved them forward.
[b “AH! This is Dahlia? I’ve heard so much!] He reached forward to give her an enthusiastic hand shake. [b “Nice to meet you guys. Ship’s ready to go when you are.”]
If there was any concern about taking a boat at night, it was quickly put to rest with the use of the ship’s lights, and the skill of its captain. He had clearly done this for a long time. Gaius hung on the main deck for the duration of the trip, while Eris was up top with Alec catching up. Their greek was rapid, as was the laughter between the two of them, but the distance between them and the constant whirl of the engines and rushing water made none of it discernible. This made eavesdropping impossible for Gaius.
The ride took nearly two hours to complete; but once they reached land Alec skillfully brought the boat up to the sea wall, and Eris jumped down to help fasten it.
[b “Thank you for riding with Alec’s private Charter service this evening, it’s been a pleasure,”] he teased lowering a ramp to allow everyone to disembark safely. Eris leaned over and gave him a thankful hug for his help and bid him farewell.
Kea was quiet, with rolling hills and twinkling lights from the whitewashed buildings and terra-cotta roofs. It was a rocky landscape, but with plenty of vegetation.
[#Daa520 “So where to now?”] Gaius asked, reaching over and taking the bag from Dahlia and carrying it for her. She looked exhausted, and he didn’t blame her. Eris was clearly more accustomed to staying up at odd hours.
[#B22222 “We wait for our ride.”] Eris muttered, her joy at being reunited with her friend replaced with apprehension. Sure enough, Gaius and the others could see a car making its way through the street and towards where they had exited the wharf. It was an older Mercedes in mint condition and a man was driving. Eris stepped forward as the car came to a stop and the gentleman exited the car. He was dressed smartly in a plain black suit -an obvious butler. At his words Gaius arched a brow. Another layer to the strange Maenad.
[i “Miss Eris, welcome home. Your family is prepared to receive you… and your friends.”] He stated looking to Gaius and Kael suspiciously.
[#B22222 “Thank you. Everyone this is, Lucius. He is my family’s butler.”]
The trunk popped open, and Lucius began to take everyone’s bags and load them up. Once everyone was inside, Lucius started up the car and began the half hour drive into the center of the island. Just past the Kea Museum, was a hidden drive. Halfway down the drive they came up to a steel security gate. It opened for them after verifying a barcode on the window of the car and Lucius drove them right through an opulent gated community. The houses were massive, some of them mansions, All surrounded with lush vegetation, gardens and dramatic views of the Island from their hill top view. They were taken up to the biggest house in the back of the community and brought up via a roundabout that circled a massive fountain of the Greek Gods.
Eris stared at the fountain with new interest, and further apprehension. By first glance her eyes connected to the image of Hades, and she felt the medallion in her pocket grow warm. Her ears began to ring, and sound became muffled, but at the opening of the car door beside her, she gasped the slightest. Brought crashing back to reality, she looked over to see Lucius holding the door open for her. Everyone else was waiting for her at the steps, and it took all of her courage to get out of the car and towards the front doors to see her family for the first time in nearly 5 years…. And she swore she’d never come back here.
She was also certain, Dahlia had a hundred questions. Eris never spoke often of her family, and since they both lived in relative squalor, it was probably shocking to know that Eris undoubtedly came from money. They were led into the main foyer, which caused Gaius to give a low whistle.
[#Daa520 “Well I do say, Kael, Eris’ family gives yours a run for their money when it comes to being modest…”] he smirked at his sarcasm, but his gold eyes fixated on a figure coming towards them.
She looked like Eris, only older and roughly in her thirties. Tall, willowy, with dark brown eyes, and pitch hair that curled down her back. She wore fitted jeans, a pink silk blouse, and pointed leather flats.
[#87cefa “Welcome home, Eris. We were so excited to hear you were coming back.”] Eris looked across the hall and walked toward the woman, but the moment she came closer and her eyes settled on Kael and Gaius she tensed. [#87cefa “Your friends… have you…”] She looked to Eris with something akin to realization, and pity. [#87cefa “That would explain a lot…”] Eris glared at the woman.
[#B22222 “so you knew… you all knew!”]
At Eris’ outburst, doors in the back of the house opened up and a man’s voice carried through the mansion. He was old and portly, with thick grey hair and rosy cheeks from too much wine. Eris tensed and watched as her Uncle came down the hall followed by several other family members. All of them older than her. They all peered at her curiously and then to Kael and Gaius. The patriarch of the family reached out to Eris and collected her face in his hands.
[i “My beautiful niece. You’re home, and I see you have brought guests. Welcome to my home, it is now yours too. My name is Dion, Lucius will show you to your rooms. We can all talk and get to know one another at breakfast in the morning. You as well Eris, you are home, no words tonight -we just wanted to see you well, and… aware. Welcome home.”] Dio kissed her cheeks, but Eris barely returned the sentiment. The rest of her family moved to leave the house, all of them seemingly in on some grand secret. ERis watched them leave with distain before following Lucius up the grand staircase to a series of suites. Dahlia was roomed on one side of the hall, and Kael and Gaius were roomed opposite. Eris’ room, according to Lucius, was just as she left it. At least her family hadn’t been intense about her return, but they knew… they knew she had changed. She could tell Lucius even knew as he went to take her bags to her room.
She turned to the others finally in a place where at least they wouldn’t be attacked by those they had already pissed off, and sighed.
[#B22222 “So… this is my childhood home. It’s extra, I know… Umm, anyway, I’m on the third floor, north eastern room. You won’t miss my door, if you need anything”] She grinned, remembering how she’d taped and tacked so many stickers and music memorabilia on it. [#B22222 “Gaius, your curtains should be thick enough to block out most of the sunlight for you, Dahlia, for the love of Zeus please get some good sleep. Thanks for trusting me, and coming here, all of you. Dahlia… would you?”] Eris removed the medallion from her pocket and held it out to Dahlia. She knew she was asking a lot, it was risky keeping the medallion. [#B22222 “It’s been giving me weird vibes since we got here. Until we can figure out why, I don’t… I don’t think I should hold on to it.”] she advised. Gaius nodded in agreement.
[#Daa520 “You’re entire family gives me an odd vibe. Go to your room. I’ll keep a eye on Dahlia’s. You need rest too.”] Eris couldn’t argue with that, and turned giving Dahlia one last hug before she sulked off to her bedroom.
Gaius remained at his door, but reached for Dahlia before she could retire to her own. He couldn’t tell you why he reached for her, only that he had the impulse to say something reassuring, but what he wasn’t certain. Now that he had her attention, he felt foolish and exposed. Why did trying to be nice with her have to always be so awkward? Was he doing this wrong?
[#Daa520 “I’ll be right across the hall. You know, if you need anything. Not that you will, but you know… just in case. Umm -“] he cleared his throat. [#Daa520 “Sleep well.”] he hurried and went into his room to hide his embarrassment. Kael was right… he wasn’t being very subtle.
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