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[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.
Kael had been right, this time around the trip didn’t seem quite so terrible, but it was still hell on the stomach. Dahlia wasn’t sure how anyone could get used to it, though it seemed as though Eris was over it. Perhaps it was because she was the only truly mortal one now, an alienating idea. Despite all that, Dahlia was kind of excited, which was a pleasant distraction from all the nonsense back in Los Angeles. She had always wanted to meet Eris’ family. After all, her friend had met her grandparents on several occasions. Sure, Dahlia was a little worried since Eris talked about them having cultish tendencies, but as much as she hated that sort of thing, she was optimistic. Anyone who raised Eris couldn’t be all that bad.
Eris was quick to snap up a phone and give someone a call. Dahlia couldn’t understand a word of it. All this time together and she hadn’t learned a word of Greek, the best she could do was pronounce the word gyro correctly. And while that was a step in the right direction, it was a far cry from anything that might help her out here.
Kael on the other hand, like Gaius, did speak the language. He listened intently as she spoke quickly on the cellphone. Excellent, she was setting them up a ride. The snake hadn’t been all that sure as to how they were going to get off the mainland in the middle of the night but this worked perfectly. They did seem to be on a bit of a timeline though, so leaving sooner rather than later would be for the best.
The man wondered how long they would be over on Kea. It wasn’t a huge issue, as they had to come back here at some point. He let everyone know they could leave anything unnecessary behind.
Then it was time to be off. The group was filing out when Kael stopped. [b “What do you think you’re doing?”] The question directed at his brother who seemed to be leaving after them. The dark haired snake didn’t wait for an answer. [b “You are staying behind. You are supposed to be in hiding, remember?”]
[b “Yes, but a break out to the middle of no where shouldn’t do any harm.”] The man trivialized the situation a great deal.
Kael could already tell he was just intrigued by the idea of a colony of maenads. Honestly, he was too, but he wasn’t down for Cornelius tagging along. If anything went wrong there would be no lying to him about it like they had previously. Not to mention he didn’t want to piss Eris or her family off. The younger of the two had a little more stake in this to keep him well behaved. He wanted to make a decent impression, even if the woman didn’t seem all that fond of these people.
Bringing up the fact that they couldn’t be sure how comfortable they’d be with a boatload of demons trespassing on their land and a little more general arguing, Kael managed to talk Cornelius down from trying to come with them. It would just be the four of them once again.
And then they were off. Making it down a ways from the storefront that acted as a cover for the safe house, they were able to meet up with the cab that’d been called. It was an hour or so drive to Lavrio, but that only gave them time for night to fully set. As it was now, there was still a sliver of light off in the distance. It was kind of pretty, not a sight that Kael got out to see very often.
For Dahlia it was different. The last remaining light in the sky made her miss being out and about at a normal human hour. It had only been a few days, but it felt like forever since they’d been home and running about New York like they always were.
In attempts to keep her mind from it, she tried to look out the window. She would have liked a better view of the scenery, as this was her first time leaving the United States. But being the smallest, she was stuck in the middle most back seat of the car. Oh well, there would be plenty to see later when they were out. It wasn’t like Greece was going anywhere either. This country had been around for thousands of years.
The ride, for the most part was silent. Each person to their own thoughts. Though there was a sense of levity in the air. Maybe it was because they were finally out of LA and Max wasn’t liable to bother them any more. Surely that was a positive for all of them.
Making it to Lavrio, they were dropped off somewhere near the docks. Given it was the late evening, the area was pretty much devoid of people. Anyone that generally spent time on a boat would have gone home by now. The same could be said for the tourists, as ferries did not generally run during the night.
Naturally able to see in the darkness, Kael looked out for any sort of movement of the dark waters. Perhaps Eris’ friend had already docked? That didn’t help him any, no one besides her knew who they were looking for.
[b “Were you given a specific place to meet?”] It was a fairly large port and walking back and forth trying to find a stranger wasn’t too appealing at this moment.
Eris was surprised to hear Kael offer that Greece wasn’t a terrible idea. She didn’t think he’d go for it, nor Gaius who seemed not to mind at all. She sighed, a little shocked they had agreed so quickly, and further stressed because she was returning to her family. Her family was the reason she left in the first place. Luckily for Kael, they were only going to the island of Tzia, more commonly known as Kea. Of course most Greecian islands were now tourist hot spots, and so it was nice to know that Kea was never as busy as Mykonos or Santorini. Thankfully Kea wasn’t too far off the greek coast. They would have to ferry a ship to take them from the mainland to the island however, and Eris still had no idea how she was going to approach her family.
She did what Dahlia suggested and began to pack up the groceries. Gaius went off to take a shower and redress after whatever had happened to him. Not that he or Kael were talking abut it. So that wasn’t helpful. Eris couldn’t help feeling that shit was coming closer and closer to hitting the fan… and when it did… they’d all be in trouble.
She managed to pack up the food rather quickly, not that she didn’t think they’d need it with the way her family kept food, but it wouldn’t hurt to have it. Carrying her own bags, Gaius had two large duffle bags over his broad shoulders, no doubt full of weapons, and gave her an odd look as she came to stand on the dais with the rest of them. Kael mentioned it shouldn’t be so bad this time and Eris cringed. She wasn’t so sure about that. The last time had left her vomiting on the floor, embarrassingly at Kael’s feet.
[#daa520 “So where exactly in Greece are we going?”] he asked looking to Eris as they all clamored on the dais. She frowned at her feet and the glowing magical seal beneath her and looked to the others. Not even Dahlia knew where Eris was actually from.
[#B22222 “The Island of Kea. It’s not far from the mainland. Just a ferry ride might take another couple hours to get there.”] Gaius seemed familiar with the island and looked Eris over curiously. It made her uncomfortable, as if exposed, like he could see something she couldn’t.
Once everyone stated they were ready for the transport, Eris exhaled the air from her lungs and felt her body twist and compact in a million different directions. Would this feeling ever normalize? It was only a moment, but it felt so much longer, and before she knew it, her body snapped back to a more solid state and she stumbled. Her head began to pound but at least she didn’t feel the need to vomit, and after a few breaths her head began to clear. Were they really in Athens? Had she truly returned to Greece?
Gaius was the first off the platform, followed by Cornelius and then Eris. He watched as Eris turned to check on Dahlia who had impressively once again managed to hold her stomach. He felt a sense of pride at his strong mortal. He still didn’t know what was bothering her, or what had happened during her time with Max. While Gaius was anxious about it, he refused to let himself dwell on it. It wasn’t like he could force her to tell him what happened while she was with Max. He’d just have to listen to the bugs Kael planted with him later. Only problem, he quickly realized… they weren’t staying in this hideout. Eris had mentioned having to travel to a nearby island. Kea was a tourist hot spot, but for the most part it was inhabited by natives and relatively low key with plenty of nature preserves and the Archeological Museum was there.
[#B22222 “I have to make a call…”] He looked over to see Eris, palm up towards Cornelius. He reluctantly handed one of the burner phones over and Eris flipped it open and quickly dialed and started walking ahead of them to get out of the safe house. Someone had gotten a little ballsy all of a sudden. No, that wasn’t it. It was more of reluctant determination, a force of will power. He shrugged and turned to follow, listening to her as she suddenly began to speak Greek to someone on the phone.
[#b22222 “Geia sou, eínai i Éris. Eímai stin Athína, apofásisa na ekplíxo tin oikogéneia.”] Gaius was pleased that Greek was on his list of learned languages. [i “Hey, it's Eris. I'm in Athens, decided to surprise the family. Yes, for real. It was last minuet. I wanted to know if you still ran that charter? You do? Wonderful, could you do an old friend a solid? I’ve got company I’m bringing with me. Yeah I know it’s late, but we wanted to go now. One of my friends has a bad sun allergy. It’s weird, but I’m sure he’d be willing to pay you for it.”] At this point Eris turned to look back at Gaius who nodded his head, and she reacted with a look that clearly said she wasn’t expecting him to understand Greek. It was currently the early evening in Athens, whereas LA was about to get it’s wake up call. The jet lag on this was going to suck. [#b22222 “Efcharistó,”] she thanked her nameless friend and clicked the phone shut. Gaius gave her an odd unreadable look. Perhaps he was impressed? Eris turned to face the group at the door and waited for the clear from Kael to open it and officially leave this place.
[#Daa520 “So Eris, you going to share with the rest of us what you’re up to?”]
[#b22222 “I contacted an old friend, who lives near the port of Lavrio. It’s a few hours boat ride to Kea, and Gaius can only travel at night. We have to move, because we still need to get a cab and get to Lavrio. Umm… a few things about my family… they’re… I suppose you would call them eccentric. I call them cultish. This should be fun.”] she bemoaned sarcastically and turned to lead the way out when Kael gave her the go.
Gaius tailed along, impressed that Eris had thought to remember about his little issue with sunlight. He wondered how her family would feel with her bringing three demons with her, but he didn’t dwell too much on it. He was looking forward to getting a look at Athens. It had been centuries since he’d been here. It would make for a nice distraction from Lucifer’s threat earlier. He still didn’t know if he wanted to release Hades… and it didn’t matter where Gaius went, Lucifer would and could find him anywhere in the world or in any realm. Gaius feared Dahlia would never truly be safe.
Max was livid that Eris somehow knew to evoke the old laws in times like this. His hands were tied, but he would have the last word, spoken through gritted teeth.
[b “On your way out be sure to tell that cursed little monstrosity he’d do him well to stop playing spies.”] The vindictive smile on his face conveyed his anger at being foiled and his intention of goading the demons outside. It was a last ditch effort, as he knew it was unlikely she would repeat his message, but he would just love it if they stormed back in here and gave him a reason to put them in holding. Then he’d have all the time in the world with the ladies. More time to get that medallion and time enough to further ensnare Dahlia.
Making it safely down the stairs, Dahlia was able to catch her reflection in one of the many mirrors that decorated the club. She was a mess. Now able to see what she was doing, albeit around a plethora of bottles and beings, she put her hair properly in place. Well, until she noticed the dark spot on her neck, then her biggest concern was pulling it to the side to cover it up. The thought of Gaius seeing it bothered her a lot. She wasn’t sure if it was because she knew he would be mad, or something else, but she was feeling incredibly stupid. Max wasn’t even that charming, handsome sure, but that wasn’t such a big deal. She struggled to remember just what led up to that predicament.
Loitering by the bottom of the stairs, the petite woman didn’t want to leave without Eris. With the music playing she couldn’t hear what they were saying, but she hoped it would not take much longer. Getting out of here was high on her priority. So she stared up, wistfully waiting until the maenad appeared and came bouncing down the stairs. She looked as though she was in a hurry to get out of here too.
Together, they met up with the guys outside. Gaius looked nearly as bad as she did. Dahlia wondered just what all she missed when they were gone. How long had it been anyway? She didn’t ask, not wanting to draw attention to herself. Keeping quiet and close to her friend, she left the talking up to her. Apparently, Europe was in their futures.
When Eris walked out she was on a mission, a mission to get the hell out of here. She didn’t say a word as she called on a cab. The silence made Kael far more nervous than had she come out screaming about Max being a dick. Something was up, and he didn’t like not knowing, but he didn’t have to ask. As soon as the crew all crammed in the car, the woman started talking.
It seemed as though everyone and their dog wanted ahold of that medallion. Technically he and Gaius were no exception. That was what their whole mission was about in the beginning, and now they needed it in order to get Gaius out of this nonsense with Lucifer. But that could come later. For now, she was right, they should get out of town.
[b “Greece isn’t a bad idea.”] It was far away, and if they did end up releasing Hades they’d be better off doing it there. It all came down to what the rest of what was likely a commune of Maenads thought about it. Though at the mention of someone named Dio, he couldn’t help but wonder if it might be who he thought it was. The snake decided not to put too much conviction in that idea, after all Eris was named directly after a god herself. [b “Cornelius will be on board too. He’s got more influence there… though he’s probably still too scared to be out for long.”] For a moment, Kael almost forgot the rest of his family was still lying low.
[b “The only safe house we have in Greece is in Athens, so that’s where we will have to warp in, but getting around shouldn’t be too difficult if your family isn’t near there.”] There wasn’t much of a reason for anyone to suspect that they would move that far after staying in the United States, so the four of them should be relatively free to move around without the malumortis on their tails. At least at first. It would still be better to keep a low profile so that they had more time to work.
Stepping out of the car, they waited for it to pull away and out of sight before entering the apartment like complex. Kael opened the door for everyone in a hurry. He, like most everyone else, wanted to leave as soon as possible. Plus keeping busy would have the added benefit of keeping attention off of Dahlia, who was still visibly shaken from whatever it was that happened in the club with Max. A metaphorical land mine, that he could only hope Gaius would stay far, far away from.
[b “I am going to let Cornelius know the plan, make sure you two grab everything you need. Food, clothes, whatever, so we don’t have to take up time replacing it all… there should be some spare travel bags in the hall closet by the bathroom.”] With that he was off toward his parents' room.
Dahlia nodded then turned to Eris, [b “I can get our stuff in the bedroom together, if you’ll do the groceries.”] She kind of wanted to be alone to try and sort out what had happened. Well, maybe not alone, but definitely away from Kael and Gaius. Having her friend to talk to would be nice, but they needed to be quick and the best way to accomplish that was to divide and conquer.
Finding a bunch of oversized beach bags in the closet, they weren’t the most convenient, but they would work for getting everything packed. Dahlia opted to combine her and Eris’ things so that there would be fewer bags to carry. Plus, they’d be sharing a room again, so it wasn't like it really needed to be separated.
By the time she had everything folded up and neatly packed away, Kael had returned with the other snake demon, ready to leave just as soon as the ladies were done.
With everyone congregated in the living room once more, he nodded and motioned for everyone to return to the back room with the teleportation seal. [b “It should be easier this time around, since the two of you have done this before. You [I probably] won’t feel as sick.”] Every person was different, so he couldn’t say for sure, but that was the general trend. Though, there was a chance that Eris’ awakening to her Maenad blood might help her out too.
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