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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.
Eris was expecting a handful of scenarios when she made her way to the loft of the club, what she saw was not one of those scenarios. Eris stood shocked, and for once speechless. Max and Dahlia were dry humping and making out on the sofa. Eris thought she might vomit, but instead a nearly blinding rage filled her at the sight of his smug grin. She wanted to jump over and choke him. How she managed to take slow and steady steps towards him was a miracle. She eyed him with a look that promised a serious amount of pain until she was right before the two of them. Silently she held a hand out for Dahlia and helped her off the couch. She let her disgusted gaze linger on Max for a moment longer before she turned to study Dahlia.
[#B22222 “Are you okay?”] She asked softly. She could tell Dahlia was sorely embarrassed if not mortified by her actions. Eris didn’t blame Dahlia, she blamed Max. Eris received as little as a nod of Dahlia’s head, but she knew it was a lie. Dahlia was not 100% alright. [#b22222 “Why don’t you go downstairs? The guys are waiting outside… I can take it from here,”] She offered with a confident grin. She did her best to urge Dahlia as far away from Max and his persuasions as possible before she confronted him.
[#B22222 “You seemed pleased with yourself. Do you make it a habit to take advantage of lesser species than yourself?”] She mocked darkly and took the seat across from him, and helped herself to his vodka. The bottle was sitting on the table and she tilted it up to her lips and drank from it. Max sighed watching her with a look of indifference and sat up in his seat taller. She had his attention. She gasped out and slammed the bottle back on the table, a good portion of it now gone.
[b “Are you quite finished?”]
[#b22222 “Are you?”] She shot back. [#b22222 “I got your information, but my memory gets really fuzzy when I’m pissed off. I’m going to need an incentive to remember things. The sort of incentive that involves you never laying another one of your nasty hands on my girl, katanoó?”] Max glared at her as if she’d just taken away his favorite toy.
[b “I understand. What did you learn, Meanad?”] he growled with irritation.
[#b22222 “The commune is harmless, they don’t pose a threat to you or others. They just want left alone. They know big players are moving, and I got one name for you. The Coyote is movings now, and a faction known at Theta has started moving as well. That was all the information I could get.”]
Max arched a brow, his ire subsiding and his interest peaked. [b “That is interesting news…. How did you get them to tell you this?”]
[#B22222 “I told them a partial truth. That a Vampire wants to eat me, the way snobby millionaires like to eat rare truffles. “] Max sighed and murmured under his breath how much he loved truffles, and Eris had to roll her eyes. She didn’t want to be in his company for very long and finally stood up.
[b “Leaving so soon?”] he inquired.
Eris glanced back at him and glared. [#b22222 “Yeah, I’m done here. I gave you what I got. Deal with it.”]
Suddenly Max was chuckling and leaned back to observe her, but when Eris tried to leave the loft herself, his lackeys blocked her path.
[#b22222 “Can you tell your goons to get the fuck out of my way? We’re done here.”] Max stood up and walked over to her.
[b “We are done, when I say we are.”] Eris moved closer to where she knew Kael had dropped the bug and managed to get Max to follow. [b “You’re sure they gave you no other names?”]
[#b22222 “None.”] She held her ground and Max frowned.
[b “That’s disappointing, I was hoping for more. Oh well, there is one last thing I must do before I let you depart…”] he held his hand out expectantly and Eris looked up at him incredulously. He wasn’t seriously about to demand the medallion was he? [b “Hand it over. I must confiscate the medallion.”]
Eris sucked air through her teeth, looking thoughtful and pursing her lips. [#b22222 “Yeah… that’s going to be a strong No, from me. It’s mine now. They say possession is nine tenths of the law, so I’m keeping it. You can rest assured it’s safe with me, one of his kind. And if I am as you say I am, then by default, I serve under the Grecian Parthenon, which includes Hades… so by my logic, I should protect him. He’s an under worldly creature, and you being an angel… well, it just doesn’t seem right. So if you’ll excuse me. I’m leaving this loft one way or another with my deepest respects and thanks from my Lord of the Underworld.”] Max was smiling so hard she could see the muscle in his jaw tic, and could almost hear his teeth grinding together. She’d honestly pulled that out of her ass, and to see it was a working excuse made her preen with more confidence. Max had no choice but the let her pass, and she did so… but she wasn’t so stupid as to see she was being watched… they were all going to be watched now. ERis believed now, more than ever, that she had Hades in her back pocket.
Gaius was thankful of Kael’s loyalty in friendship, and accepted his help in standing up off the sidewalk. He felt better knowing that he had shared this truth with someone, the only one he trusted. It was safe to say Kael was the only individual Gaius considered to be a friend. When the girls finally returned to them, he was beyond relieved to see Dahlia. She looked a bit out of sorts, but Gaius didn’t think now was the time or place to question it. Instead Eris walked up with a sour expression on her face and hailed the first cab she could find. Once inside she said what they were all thinking, holding the medallion in her hand.
[#b22222 “I think it’s time we skipped town. Max tried to get me to hand over the Medallion. I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to evade it and got out of there. It’s only a matter of time before he comes for us and it. I want to make a suggestion… We go to Greece. I have a feeling my family will be the best bet in telling us what to do with it. Uncle Dio will know what to do.”] A Small shutter ran down Eris’ spine at the idea of having to return to her family and their cultish ways, but it was something she felt needed to be done.
Just as soon as Eris came through the screen door, seemingly unharmed, Kael smiled. He knew there was no reason to be worried about her. She was one hell of a gal. The smirk didn’t leave his face even when she came and filled them in on all that she’d learned. Apparently the group was just a bunch of wolves and the like. That basically described why they could get information that Max would covet… and why they wouldn’t trust him as far as they could throw him. Which to be fair might be a decent distance, but that was irrelevant.
He didn’t know anything about Theta, but he was a little irritated to hear there might be more than one group involved in all this nonsense. It made everything less black and white, which in turn made their job harder. There would be a fat stack of paperwork explaining what was whose fault if it didn’t turn out that the two factions were working together. Either way it was a headache, but not as much so as the mention of the coyote. [b “Fuck…”] He pinched the bridge of his nose. [b “You sure he said coyote?”]
There was a confirmation before the Maenad went on and Gaius disappeared in a flash. Blinking at the suddenness of it, he was certain Wrath was on his way to raise some hell over at the nightclub. That wasn’t good. Groaning, things kept getting worse and worse. Well, until Eris grabbed ahold of him. That wasn’t so bad. In fact it was quite nice even if she was just about pulling his arm off. He could get over that to hold a pretty woman’s hand. Again he was smirking to himself, it lasted up till the point she looked back at him. When it came to that he played it off smooth enough so that he wouldn’t look like a love stuck fool, Gaius could keep that category to himself.
Keeping his composure got a little more difficult when she started speculating about Gaius’ fixation with her friend. There wasn’t a lot he could say other than give her affirmation that she wasn’t looking too far into it. [b “Yeah, I’ve noticed that too. He’s definitely… strangely attached to her.”] The snake still wasn’t brave enough to straight up explain to her what was going on. There was a chance she would tell Dahlia and Kael was sure his partner would be pissed if someone else interfered.
The cab came quickly, which he was glad for, but sitting in back with Eris he felt the need to change the topic. [b “Since we’ve got time. I’ll go over a little about the coyote.”] She’d mentioned she didn’t know who he was, so getting her up to speed would be important. [b “The coyote is the trickster character in a lot of Native lore. Tricksters range in status, from plain mythical creatures to full blown gods. The coyote is closer to the former, but examples of the latter would be like Loki, or your namesake. They have their own tightly woven community and usually stick together, but a while back they fell off the map. Stopped moving or doing much of anything really. If what that Tony guy says is true, they might be making a reappearance. It could just be the coyote, but if it is the others as well, we can’t be sure what is going to happen. Especially if they are working with the Malumortis.”] In general the tricksters weren’t out for the destruction or enslavement of humanity; they just reveled in chaos and went wherever whims take them. [b “It’s a big deal, this should be enough of a tipoff to make Max happy and get him off our asses for a while.”]
The ride was enough to get that out there before they made it to their destination. There they found Gaius waiting outside, without Dahlia. He looked like hell. Either he had been kicked out or Kael and been wrong and the sin demon had been summoned by a higher power. The latter was more likely, especially since he dismissed Eris to enter the club on her own.
Kael listened to the thinly veiled demon as he spoke.
[b “Lucifer knows…”]
That was enough for the snake to rear back some, making a face of disgust. [b “Lovely.”] His tone was sarcastic for the moment, but then he fell back to silence.
At the end of the explanation, the red-eyed man received an explanation for Gaius’ odd behavior, but it wasn’t anything he didn’t already know. He sighed. [b “Yes, I’ve pretty much noticed that. You haven’t been subtle… It’s going to be hard to keep it from Eris though; she’s already suspicious that there is something going on. Last night only fueled that fire.”] Not to mention she was a member of lore as well, she was going to learn more about all of them sooner or later and it wouldn’t be long until she put two and two together. The journalist was damn good at it. [b “…but I won’t say anything directly. You have my word.”] He nodded, solemnly, as though verifying the promise.
[b “But we can’t give Lucifer custody of Hades…”] Clearly Gaius couldn’t flat out deny him, especially with his fatal on the line, however there were dire consequences to that. [b “It would start a war, one that would leak into several realms… However, there might be a work around.”] From the sounds of it Lucifer was a tad too specific. He only asked for the medallion. [b “We could release him before handing over the token.”] They would have to find a safe location, but it was a caveat that could get them out of this. Honestly Kael wanted to deal with the fallen angel as little as possible and giving him his way just might be the way to do that. But when given the chance to spit in his eye, it was hard not to give in and take it. And this time, it just might be the right answer.
A couple of drinks in for Dahlia and many of her inhibitions were gone. Something about the alcohol here was different. She didn’t know if it was stronger, or if it was something else entirely, but she was an open book not long into their little soiree. Max would inquire to silly little things about her and she would answer back without a thought. It wasn’t as though he was asking anything really important, so she didn’t see the harm in it. They had quite a little banter going back and forth. He was being way nicer than expected, though with a somewhat clouded mind she couldn’t see how suspicious that really was.
[b “I thought Eris was exaggerating when she told me you were just about as sweet as pie, but turns out it was the truth.”] The man was smiling warmly down at her, sitting a touch closer than before.
Dahlia giggled. [b “She did not say that. You are the one exaggerating.”] Sure, her best friend had a tendency of overplaying how nice she was, so she was confident it came up, but not in those words.
Max smiled back at her. [b “You caught me, but she did talk about you and I gathered my own conclusion from that. Not to mention the fact that it takes a very special person to keep a sin demon in line. I am sure he is absolutely enamored with you.”]
Was he on about that too? He really had talked to Eris. [b “No, I think he just happens to be a good guy. A little rough around the edges, but that’s okay.”] There really wasn’t much of a reason for her to defend him; it wasn’t like her words would change the angel’s opinion.
[b “I have my doubts about that, my dear, but let’s not ruin our conversation by wallowing in his pathetic existence…”]
Another hour passed, or was it two? And while she had slowed down with the drinking, the mortal woman’s head was fuzzier than ever.
[b “You really are quite lovely.”]
Dahlia jumped a little, as the unexpected words were whispered lightly in her ear. Max had come closer again. Now he was playing with the ends of her hair carefully with his fingers. Her face reddened somewhat, both from the compliment and the fact that she had spaced out for whatever he had been saying before that point. She didn’t know what to say in response.
The white clad man’s hand sneaked its way up to her cheek. His touch was comfortably warm and soothing in a way that seemed to draw her in. Enough so that she had no complaints when he gently guided her into a kiss. Everything she’d felt with his hand on her skin was amplified with his lips on hers. Despite there being no real spark, it was definitely the best kiss Dahlia had ever had. The woman got drunkenly caught up in it, reciprocating the motions.
She faded in and out from there. That was until his voice called out to her again, low and sultry. [b “Would you like to go somewhere more private?”]
At those words she snapped back out of the stupor, practically sober in mind. Max was nearly on top of her on the couch, face centimeters from hers. Warning bells blared in her head. Going anywhere else with him was a terrible idea. All of this was. What in the hell was she doing? [b “I-I’m sorry. It’s probably for the best if we don’t.”] Her voice was quiet, twanged with a fraction of the confusion she was feeling.
A look of irritation, unperceivable to her human eyes, passed over his face, but his voice stayed smooth. [b “Worry not, I understand. Another time, perhaps?”] He sat up, as to not make her any more panicked than she already was. The angel hadn’t been expecting to be rejected this late, but when he heard someone coming up the steps he thought it might be for the best. Eris had returned. [b “Welcome back, where are our other friends?”] The lack of Gaius’ presence was fairly disappointing. He’d hoped to see the look on his face.
Noticing her friend come into the picture, Dahlia became even more embarrassed. Hurriedly she tried to fix her hair so that it was half way presentable. Even with the preening, her lips were still swollen and there was a mark on her neck, though she didn't know about that last bit. How was she going to explain this? The human couldn’t think of a single decent excuse. Her eyes stayed low, not looking fully at Eris as Max started up a conversation with her.
[b “Dude Chill out.”]
Gaius arched a brow at Kael, a little impressed the man would say that to him. Then again, Kael and Gaius had come to learn the other during their years together. Kael was right though, they would be fine… it was Max that had him anxious. Gaius had heard rumors, though nothing had ever been proven. Gaius knew Angels couldn’t be trusted… he knew first hand. Taking Kael’s advice, he stopped his pacing and leaned against the trunk of a tree. Waiting, watching, he never looked away from the door. Inside his mind he counted down the seconds, and inhaled a cigarette.
Thankfully they did not have to wait long as they heard the door creak open and several footsteps follow. Eris eventually made her way out, and much to Gaius’ relief she was smiling, and shaking a man’s hand. So it seemed she had found friendlies. Hopefully she had learned some new intel. He stood up off the tree and turned with Kael to meet Eris back at the rendezvous.
She joined with them moments later back in the street, and the trio began their walk on the side of the road. Gaius looked over to Eris and asked her how things went. She looked between them, as she walked in the middle and frowned.
[#B22222 “They’re just a bunch of wolves and other loreans that want to be left alone, they don’t want to join sides. It almost seemed they wanted away from the Covenant…”] It made Eris wonder if shifters had been subjected for millennia by other more powerful loreans such as Gaius and Max. It made her recall the security guard the other night and how Gaius and Kael seemed more inclined to spit orders than a greeting. Still, now wasn’t the time to think on that and she continued informing them what she had gleaned. [#B22222 “Tony is their leader, I garnered good graces by being honest about my Vampire issue. They said they wished they could help, but there’s too much movement here. He mentioned the Malumortis, and another alignment known as Theta?”] She shrugged, but continued pointing towards Gaius. [#B22222 “They also know that you’re here. Word spreads fast, and you’re not the only one they’re worried about. They know about Greed, and they say that the Coyote are moving now. I don’t…. I don’t know what that means though. There’s something you two should know though… Max came up in conversation. He’s not very well liked by them. He apparently pressures them to align, or be crushed from both sides. They also said he’s been known to siphon light from other creatures, though it’s not confirmed. So I’m pretty worried about leaving Dahlia alon-“]
A crack and singe of fire snapped at her side. Shocked by the noise, and the heat of the quick burst of flame. Eris stumbled over and into Kael. When they looked over to see what had happened, they found Gaius had vanished, leaving behind the smell of brimstone. She gasped and flung her gaze to Kael, and saw he looked a mix between annoyed and uncertain.
[#B22222 “What the fuck just happened? Where did he go?”] Eris demanded, shocked and concerned. Apparently one of two things had just happened, though they still had no idea where he was. Either Gaius had used a skill of his to flash from one place to another within reasonable distance, or he had been summoned by a demon more powerful than him. Eris hoped it wasn’t the later, from what she’d gathered, if Gaius was summoned, it had been done by a Lord of Hell.
[#B22222 “My money is he went back to the club… You’ve noticed it haven’t you?”] Eris asked, walking a bit quicker than before with Kael. They needed to get a cab back to the club ASAP, and hopefully in time to stop Gaius from doing anything stupid.
Eris was of course referring to Gaius’ odd low-key obsession with Dahlia. Eris was glad she wasn’t the only one who saw it, though it did raise the concerning question about what that meant for Dahlia.
[#B22222 “I’ve always kept an eye on him, but I just notice things, you know? Last night was a sort of confirmation for me. Even in his other form he was tamed by her… That can’t be normal for his kind.”] Man oh man, she had no idea how right she was. [#B22222 “We should hurry back.”] She reached for his hand and dragged him into a run as they hurried to a good pick up place to catch a cab.
[center ———————— ]
Gaius hadn’t been expecting the summons. He couldn’t have fought it even if he tried. With one look he knew he had returned… he was home. Back in Hell. The sky was a haze of golds, reds, and orange. There was no true light source, save for the fires that burned all around a crumbling city in ruins. The air was boiling, and waved visibly from the heat. It felt like an oven on broil. He was still in his human form though, and he walked through the wasteland that was the ring of Hell he was born on. Burning buildings dotted the landscape, and it appeared an entire nuclear bomb had gone off and destroyed the area.
While no one was directly around him, he could hear the howls of hellhounds, other demon spawn, and tortured souls echoing off the space. None of that interested him, what did interest him was the figure standing on the top of a rusted car, his clawed feet bare and blackened from the soot ground. His eyes were a handsome shade of blue, making them piercing amid the orange hues that backdropped him. The skin around his eyes was reddened and raw, but he wore a smile, a dirty white suit, and he looked for all the world like a middle aged man with a dad bod. Gaius was a mix of rage, loathing, and of all the wild things... fear.
[#Daa520 “I was exiled! Why bring me here?”] Gaius called out towards him as he approached the car. The man smiled, his teeth perfect and white, even if his short hair was a matted greasy grey, and the rest of his appearance was filthy.
[b “Your King calls you back home, and instead of a thanks I get questions…”] he shook his head and jumped down from the top of the car to its hood and finally on the ground. [b “Can’t you at least be happy to see your dear ol’ grand-dad?”] Gaius retained his deadpan expression even as the man clasped his hands and offered a semi-sweet, if not insane smile.
[#Daa520 “No. Now why did you bring me here?”] The man’s hand reached up to rest on Gaius’ shoulder and he tsk’ed, herding Gaius in a new direction. With the man’s touch, Gaius horns grew larger, his skin went darker, his features sharper, and his eyes glowed that demonic gold. Power was surging through him.
[b “I heard a little birdie tell me you were looking for information on what your father is plotting in the human world. I'm really sad you didn't come to me for help... You know... I could tell you…”] the man smiled dangerously, goading Gaius like a salesman.
[#Daa520 “What’s the catch?”] Gaius asked accusingly. The man feigned insult and injury.
[b “Is it really so wrong of me to ask for a little compensation in exchange for information? Truly, my boy, you wound me. I only wish to help…”] Gaius seriously doubted that, but his silence allowed the man to continue. [b “I heard that you’ve come in the possession of two mortals who are carrying something… quite valuable on them. I'll be honest...I really want it!”] He exclaimed like some excited child. Of course he did. Gaius was more pissed that he found out.
[#Daa520 “She told you didn’t she? Lust.”]
The man continued to smirk. [b “She tells me lots of things…”] he whispered shoulders jumping giddily, eluding that there was more than just a working relationship. Gaius cringed, and cursed himself. [b "Should have known better than to ask her. She might hate your dear ol’ dad, as much as you do, but she [i loves] me. I’m her favorite… daddy Lucious takes good care of her, oh yes he does…”] he chuckled darkly licking his lips, and patting Gaius’ shoulder. The Man had said exactly what Gaius had been thinking. Should have known better...
[b “The trinket your mortals have, in exchange for information on your father.”] he finally offered. Gaius glared at his audacity, then again, considering who it was; Gaius was less than surprised.
[#Daa520 “It’s not mine to give away,”]
[b “Psh! Nonsense!”] the man waved his hands dramatically. They walked over a patch of broken glass and rubble, but the man paid it no mind. [b “Since when did ownership ever matter? Just take it, get them to hand it over… they trust you, don’t they? The information I give you might save her…”]
Gaius stopped and gave the man a side glance. He had also stopped and offered a sly grin. This was the ploy he’d been waiting to use since being summoned. It only enraged Gaius and he growled, hands curling tightly into fists. The man only continued to smirk his devilish smirk. He was taunting Gaius.
[#Daa520 "How did you-"]
[b “I know all about her… you forget I have spies everywhere. They tell me you’re very fond of your little human. It’s not the skinny one either, no, she's not your type… I’m talking about the one with the great tits. Hohohoo! I do love a good pair on a woman. Glad to see the apple doesn’t fall far!”] He reached for Gaius once more, but this time, Gaius reached out and swatted the man’s hand away.
A foolish mistake.
Without warning and quite suddenly Gaius was lifted up by the throat and hurled nearly the length of a football field into the side of a steel building. Rubble and dust fell around, some of it burning as it clattered the ground below them. He was pinned several stories in the air. Floating before him was the same man, hand around his throat and holding him still. Gaius could feel his throat crushing, the bones of his spine grinding together, and his windpipe collapsing. He struggled against the smaller older man, suspended in the air against a burning skyscraper. The man before him seemed perfectly calm and relaxed, if not wholly annoyed.
[b “Fight all you want, but you can’t beat me. I want that medallion, Wrath. I want it, and I will have it. If you don’t bring it to me, I will take it by any means necessary. You put your mortal in more danger now, than she ever was before… and I can promise you this… If I don’t get to kill her…”] he leaned in, his voice a whisper, but holding a haunting truth. [b “Then you eventually will.”] Leaning back before Gaius could bite at him, the man chuckled and suddenly dropped Gaius to the ground, [b "Think about my offer!"] he shouted from above Gaius, waving and calling Bye-bye, like a small child.
Gaius landed hard and fast on asphalt, and had just enough time to roll out of the street before a honking car could slam into him. No-one seemed to have noticed Gaius had fallen out of thin air. He sat up and saw a cab pulling up to a stop beside him on the sidewalk where he found refuge and sat down. He recognized their shoes, before he recognized he had been dropped out in front of Max’s club. His clothing was smoking, and singed in places. He smelled of burning sulfur and brimstone, and when Eris reached out to touch his shoulder, she jerked it back from the sheer heat still radiating off of him. He didn't want to talk about it. Instead he managed to get to his feet and shook the dust from his jacket.
[#B22222 "Umm, Gaius?"] Eris began, looking at him oddly, but he shrugged her off.
[#Daa520 "Go get Dahlia... I need to speak with Kael... Privately."] Eris frowned and looked back between the two but hurried into the bar and left the men behind. Alone, Gaius looked at Kael with a serious expression, unaware his demonic features were prevalent and in view of any who could see. One drunk passerby clapped and shouted at him.
"Cool Costume, Broh!" Gaius reached a hand up to feel his lengthened horns and groaned.
[#Daa520 "Lucifer knows..."] it was a dark reality, and Gaius began to whisper to Kael everything that had just happened during his summons... and finally confessed the truth about Dahlia. [#Daa520 "She is my Femme-Fatal. I can't deny it anymore. I'm sorry, that's why I've been more... wound up lately. She can't know... the less she knows... the better, for both of them."]
Leading the thin woman toward the foreboding farmhouse, the man never let go of Eris’ shoulder. All the windows were black, as there was no one inside using the lights. The apparent leader of the crew flipped a couple of switches coming into the mudroom that lit up this room and the kitchen they were about to walk into. The light made the place infinitely more welcoming and revealed rather homely décor. It vastly contrasted the leather biker aesthetic they seemed to have going outside.
Once everyone who seemed intent on following after them was in the house and the door was shut, the wolf released the maenad. He motioned for her to continue following after him, but didn’t bother to check if she actually was. It really didn’t matter if she did or not, but he doubted she would turn tail with six or seven curious individuals behind her. Just passed the kitchen there was a rather large formal dinning area. The man pulled out a seat there and offered it to Eris before taking the chair next to her at the head of the table.
[b “You hungry?”] He didn’t wait for an answer. [b “Jeremiah, go grab a plate from outside.”] On his command one of the smaller guys started stumbling over himself to get back to the door they’d come from.
Cautionary orange eyes looked over the shorthaired woman. There was a moment before he started back up in his low voice. [b “Look, Miss, we’re a motley group of wolves and other low profile loreans. We’re not equipped to go against high ranking vampires or anything of the sort.”] A flash of emotion on his face seemed to show that he was apologetic, but it was only a moment before his stony, flat expression returned. [b “If you are really desperate, we could probably keep you for a night or two, but I’m afraid any longer will endanger us and I can’t have that.”]
The squeak of the front door announced the return of Jeremiah. He walked in holding a plate overly full of all the stereotypical potluck and backyard barbeque foods. The younger man placed it in front of Eris before looking over to the elderly man at the end of the table expectantly. After receiving a thanks and job well done he beamed naively before taking a seat with rest of the curious onlookers.
Sighing at the eager to please member of the pack, the white haired man got back to business. [b “Now, we can’t take you in, but I would like to help you.”]
No sooner than he said that there seemed to be a collective wave of relief across the table. One of the women spoke out, [b “Come on, Tony, you should lead with that sort o’ thing. I thought you were gonna leave ‘er fer dead.”]
The man, Tony as it seemed, rolled his eyes. [b “Well, if you lot weren’t so damn nosy and impatient maybe you wouldn’t go jumping to conclusions all the time.”] He huffed gruffly. [b “Little miss, we don’t have a lot of man power, but we’ve been out here for a long ass time. We keep our ears and noses to the ground. I’d like to give you some advice if you want to stay alive in this area. First off, know a little about who you are walking up to when you go asking for help.”] It was solid advice. What was she going to do if they’d been hostile, or there’d been a legion of vampires lurking in the cellar? If Conrad was that hasty to sink his fangs in her, there was no way a bunch of small fry would be able to hold it together if she was in grabbing proximity. [b “There are a lot of bad dudes prowling around here recently. Conrad’s only one of them. Greed’s here, and rumor has it Wrath popped up the other night too. Things are going to the shitter. Now even the Coyote is on the move. He’s been dormant for the better part of a millennia, so I wouldn’t be surprised if things get even worse.”] Tony seemed to drone on about the chaotic nature of tricksters and the Coyote’s plausible association with the malumortis.
Without paying any mind to how long he was droning on, Tony continued. [b “There are several alliances on the move right now, we can’t tell who will be the first to actually strike, but we’ve got two main players. The malumortis, who I mentioned before, and another ancient sect called Theta. We don’t know as much about them since they’re pretty exclusive and aren’t based in this realm, but there’s definitely something going on with them… if either tries to recruit you, decline. You don’t want to be a part of their mess.”]
[b “One last thing, the gods are getting antsy. It might be best to stay away from them as well. Their all unfurling their tendrils searching of something, it’s better just to leave them to their own devices, I doubt they will bother you if you don’t bother them first… except for the magister here. He’s a prick, got a fetish for the light too.”]
Another member of the pack chimed in, [b “I heard he’s been known to siphon energy off of other creatures of light. Super sketchy for an angel, if you ask me.”]
Tony nodded, but his words contradicted the action. [b “That hasn’t been confirmed…”]
All this talk of potential disaster left the group in a bit of a slump, which was not a place he as a leader liked to leave things. [b “But hey,”] His tone was lighter, almost lacking his established sternness from before. [b “We can put a good word in for you, that way at least some of the lowlifes around here won’t mess with you. Our networks pretty good since we like to keep pretty neutral in this divine dominated region.”] After that it was pretty clear he was done rambling. It left time for the rest of the pack to give their two cents and for Eris to ask questions. The atmosphere was lighter as most the others had taken to the woman like a bunch of puppies.
Normally walking around on his own for perimeter checks in an unfamiliar area put Kael on edge, but right now it was more relaxing than sitting around with Gaius. With him pacing around and acting all a mess, it was hard to think positively. Kael was anxious for Eris’ return, but he knew she wouldn’t go down quietly and they’d yet to hear a scream or any signs of a serious struggle in the distance. There was definitely some roughhousing between wolves going on in the yard though.
[b “Dude, chill out.”] Probably not apt wording when dealing with a demon of wrath, but Kael was pretty much over it. Gaius wasn’t even actually worried about the Maenad; the snake could tell all that was on his mind was Dahlia. [b “They’re [I both]”] He put emphasis on both. [b “Going to be just fine. Besides, even if Max is up to something I doubt she’s going to fall right in line with it. Do you remember how pissy she got with him after he separated her and Eris the last time? Not to mention she was already incredibly paranoid last night…”] His bright red eyes flashed over to his partner. Maybe that wasn’t the best thing to bring up at the moment, but it was too late now. [b “Either way, stop with the pacing. We can worry about it what happens if she doesn’t come back in twenty minutes if it comes to that.”]
Honestly, Kael wasn’t sure what Gaius was going to do when they permanently split from the girls. Although, with the turn things had taken for Eris, that might be later than expected, which he was more than a little excited about. But there was a chance Dahlia would choose not to follow her friend. While he knew that was different than leaving her with an angel who was deliberately trying to get under their skin, he didn’t imagine it would go much better.
Now moderately worried that the wrath demon might jump the gun, Kael set eyes on the front of the old farmhouse. He waited expectantly, desperately hoping that Eris would walk through the door safe, sound, and with ample information for them to get out of this situation.
Eris hadn’t wanted to leave Dahlia behind. Gaius hadn’t liked it either, but try as both of them might, they moved forward with the investigation. Eris tried to absorb all they told her about being a Maenad , what to expect from the commune and how she should be expected to interact with them; but it was a lot. Eris didn’t know if she’d be able to remember all of this information. She was beginning to feel highly overwhelmed as the Uber came to a stop at the start of a long dirt path. She stared at the dark path and took a shaky breath. At least she didn’t have that dreadful sinking feeling like she had last night.
It wasn’t just that fact she was about to walk into a haven of paranormal alone, but she was pretty sure she was carrying Hades in her pocket at the moment. What were the fucking chances? Zero, she was pretty sure, the answer was zero. Yet here she was... She had no other option but to walk up the drive and get this over with. The sooner she got information to give Max, the sooner she could get Dahlia. She looked back at the pair at the start of the drive.
[#Daa520 “We won’t be far away, just on the perimeter. We’ll give you two hours. If you’re not back by then, we’re coming for you. Keep your eyes open, and listen to everything.”] Eris gave a nod of her head and looked over to Kael, a shaky breath leaving her. She was clearly nervous, but between Kael and Gaius, they seemed to have enough faith in her to do this solo.
Too bad she didn’t have a whole lot of faith in her to do this. Not since the near kidnapping and dinner fiasco at the warehouse. She didn’t know what to expect, and as she walked down the dark road path, she reached into her pocket and held onto the medallion in her hand. It was unnaturally cool to the touch, and heavy for a two inch coin. The idea that she carried the Lord of the Underworld in her pocket did give her an added boost of confidence, while also piling on the anxiety of what would happen if it was taken from her. She’d held onto it tightly since it had come into her possession, and now she knew why she’d been so adamant to keep it close. Like it or not, she was Greek, she was a Maenad, and Hades was part of her heritage. She felt obligated to protect the medallion, but her primary concern was Dahlia… alone with Max. It just didn’t sit well with Eris.
The commune ended up being a large old farm house, with several trailers and campers situated on the property, all strung together with Edison and Christmas lights. The large barn was the most lively structure. Motorcycles and vintage sports cars were parked in the fields and metal rock was playing in the barn. Did all immortals ever do was party? Eris had to admit, she loved to party, but she had come to learn it was part of her Maenad genes. Curiosity took over and she walked up to the barn to peak inside. She didn’t even have a back story prepared or an excuse if she was caught. This was probably the dumbest thing she had done in a while.
It was not as packed as she thought it would be. She expected to see some 50 people in the building, but it was more like 30. It seemed that this was where everyone came to gather. On the north side of the barn was a volleyball net, there was also a concrete pad for half a basketball court, and further off looked like a football soccer field hybrid. Whatever this place was, they were definitely a community that intended to stay for good.
The barn itself was full of auto and motorcycle parts, a small bar, and picnic tables. She couldn’t tell what they were, but she didn’t have to guess long as she felt a presence standing behind her.
[b “You lost?”] The voice was deep and gruff. Eris gasped turning around to see a hulking old biker glaring down at her. He was older, a thick white mustache and beard on his face, a black bandana, and a biker vest with coat of arms decorated his chest. With a look she could see a wolf snarling behind a field of fire. She gulped nervously and looked up at him. Was this a commune or a biker gang? What were the odds they were both?
[#B22222 “Uhhhh....”] She didn’t have a backstory, she didn’t have an excuse to be there. The man continued to glare at her in the shadows of the barn’s exterior walls. He had her cornered, because around her were other members of the commune, and all of them wore leather. At least she was up on the dress code. [#B22222 “I’m new in the area, and just newly… aware of what I am. A Man told me I had to choose an alignment, but I’m not down with that. I heard there was a place just outside the district that was neutral ground.”] Eris half lied, but she needed an in. Before she could do or say anything, another man walked up to her and sniffed at her. Werewolves?
[b “What are you?”] The sniffer asked. Eris swallowed down her fear and did her best to stand tall and frowned.
[#B22222 “A bit of a personal question don’t you think?”]
[b “Answer him,”] the pack leader warned.
[#B22222 “I am a Maenad,”] She told them honestly. The leader frowned, they all seemed unfamiliar with the breed. [#B22222 “My name is Eris, I’m just trying to figure myself and this world out. There’s a Vampire hunting me, named Conrad. Wants me to join his creepy club and drink my blood. Don’t eat me please”] she cringed shying away from them.
The invasive sniffer, leaned in closer, dangerously, and a woman had come to take up the other side. Eris noticed their eyes glowing a dangerous orange, not unlike Gaius’. There was a tense moment of silence as the group closed in on Eris, and finally the leader reached out and took her shoulder firmly in his grasp.
[b “I think you better come inside.”]
[center ———————————- ]
Gaius paced his area nervously. It had been over an hour and the two hour mark was nearing. He hadn’t sensed any danger, but he had hoped Eris would have returned by now. He circled the south eastern edge and met back up with Kael was was also waiting in the shadows for Eris’ return.
[#Daa520 “It’s almost been two hours...”] he whispered coming to stand beside him. From where they were they could see the distant lights of the compound, but they could not hear the music from where they were. It was dark, and it was quiet, the only sound was that of the bugs. It was slightly impressive that such a large compound was right on the outskirts of the city limits. [#Daa520 “She has twenty minutes to get back, or we’ll be forced to go in and get her. Why do you think Max wants into this place so bad?”] Gaius asked curiously. [#Daa520 “I smell wolf more than I smell anything else... gasoline, and I smell... is that... barbecue?”] he asked himself more so than Kael. He sighed, and commented under his breath that it smelled good. Gaius didn’t need to eat food, but he did like to eat some mortal food. Mostly fruit, but there were other foods he enjoyed tasting.
As he and Kael whispered among themselves, they haunted the southern half of the perimeter, and area Eris where was supposed to meet them at. Gaius was more anxious to return to Dahlia than he was for Eris to return. He was honestly surprised to admit, he wasn’t too worried about Eris. From what he’d experienced of her, she was crafty and silver tongued. She was certainly a fighter too, nothing refined, but she wasn’t the type to cave or cower. He knew first hand she was feisty.
There was a lot of information flying by. Kael hadn’t been sure how much they should relinquish to Max, but Gaius seemed fairly comfortable telling him most if not all of what they knew. It worked for him, but it was also wasn’t his family that was involved, so the younger demon had to trust his judgment. However, when the angel mentioned the Greek god of fortune and the underworld, he became a little more concerned. If Hades really was trapped in there, it would skew their data. Who was after the token as a portal and who wanted to god locked away inside of it. While thinking on it, he stayed silent.
Dahlia found herself worrying about other things. She listened to what the others were saying, but none of it really sunk in. Instead the time was dedicated to gathering her nerves. Although, when she was feeling a little more put together, she looked around to see that no one was all too pleased with the situation at hand. Aside from Max, that was.
Eris was always more worried about her friends than herself, but Max brought up a good point in saying that she would be able to reach places the demons could not. She could not stay behind. And so, to try and make the best of a shitty situation, Dahlia stepped back out. [b “Eris, he’s right. It’s probably best that you go.”] Eyes falling down to her wrist, she pulled the snug fitted bracelet from her arm and slipped it into her pocket. The illusion faded away and she was back to being her normal human self.
Trying to look more confident than she felt, the short woman walked up to the gentleman garbed in pristine white, taking the thin-stemmed glass from his hand. It looked like regular old champagne, which she was grateful for. There would be no more ambrosia for her if she could help it.
Where Dahlia had expected to hear Eris, Gaius’ voice rang out. [b “Not a hair on her head better be out of place when I return.”]
Turning back to the man, she saw his expression for the first time. He looked absolutely ruffled. Even more so as the well built men around the room began herding the three of them back down to the first floor. While he was still in view, Dahlia mouthed the words ‘I will be OK,’ in hopes that he might trust her and be calm enough to focus on the task set before them.
When her onyx eyes came back to Max the remnants of a smug smile were disappearing from his features. They melted into a charming grin. It was hard to believe that he was able to switch so seamlessly between the two, even more so as he opened his mouth. [b “So, my dear, shall we have a seat? I’d love to get to know you.”] His voice was honey-sweet. She nearly forgot how much of a pill he’d been only moments before, as he took her hand just as he’d done with Eris and led her to the couch. The pair sat together. Thankfully he kept his hands to himself from there, but he was lightning-quick to launch them into small talk. Much to her surprise it was pleasant. Perhaps the night wouldn’t be so bad, even though something still didn’t feel quite right sitting there with him.
Kael was glad that Eris hadn’t been the one left behind this time. He preferred her company and was looking forward to her sharp viewpoint. What he wasn’t looking forward to was how both Eris and Gaius were going to act with Dahlia absent, especially with how keen the magister had been to dismiss them this time. It all but confirmed his fixation with the mortal. Although there was still the chance he was acting that way for no other reason than to rile Gaius into giving him a reason to remove him from the picture.
As soon as they were out the door, the snake had his phone out. He needed to get ahold of his brother, who answered swiftly. [b “Hey, I need a favor.”]
[b “No, not that.”] Kael spoke quickly as if he knew Cornelius was ready to make a move. [b “I need you to head down to Hades’ place. Make sure he is there. Persephone should be around this time of year. If he is gone see if she knows anything.”]
[b “Excuse me?!”] Kael had to reign his voice back in to a whisper. [b “Isn’t this something you think I should have known sooner?”] The bickering went on for a while longer before he ended the call.
Pushing his glasses up and onto his head, his clawed hand came back down to pinch at the bridge of his nose. After a moment of silence to compose himself, he relayed what he’d been told. [b “Yes, Hades is missing. It’s been kept under wraps to prevent panic and any of his enemies making a move… this also explains why they chose us for something as simple as retrieving a travel token.”] It hadn’t made sense to move Wrath for such a menial task. Sure the medallion could cause trouble, but not that much. [b “We’ll have to keep this in mind from now on. It would not be wise to release him in the human realm.”] For the time being Hades was going to have to stay put right where he was. But it begged the question; did Ursula and her employer know just what they were trying to get their hands on? If so, they might have a bigger problem than he thought.
In that moment, Kael couldn’t remember just how much Eris had been filled in with the situation on the lore side of things, so after calling a car to get them out of town he started with the run down. He recanted what had happened to Atlas, their previous leader, and that now that he’d had a chance to talk with Cornelius he’d found that the interim Lysander Canterbury checked out. It must have changed since last he heard.
So long as they were scrambling to ready the next in command to step up, things would be unstable. [b “With how the Malumortis are moving in junction, it really does look as though they had a hand in Atlas’ death.”] Originally he’d thought it might be an inside job, but perhaps that was not the case.
[b “I wouldn’t put it past them to have dug their claws into Kara in order to trap Hades either. He isn’t exactly happy with how things are run currently, but he wants things to be more efficient. Letting everyone loose on the mortal plain is the exact opposite of that.”] Hades had been turning down offers to ally with the princes’ of hell for quite some time; it’d led to tension between the factions. [b “There is no doubt in my mind that he would move against the malumortis, even though he prefers to keep a neutral stance.”] Yet more motivation for them to remove Hades from the equation.
Max had made it clear she was likely to be the only one who could get into the commune. So most of the drive out was filled with trying to get Eris up to par. That also meant letting her know a little more about maenads and the laws lorean creatures abided. They didn’t want her getting caught up on anyone’s questions while she was in the commune. After that, Kael and Gaius made an attempt to try and work out a list of things for Eris to look for while they were separated. It was a lot to pile into the hour or so they had, but the demons managed as they systematically went through it all.
[b “As Gaius was saying, there is a good reason for what happened.”] Max was wholly unconvinced and Eris sat tensely at his side. Any time she shifted away he would brush his fingers against her shoulders and arm to keep her seated. It made her seethe with rage while Kael gave Max the details and reasonings from the night, as well as his beliefs that there was more corruption in the region than the Magister was aware.
That didn’t make Max too pleased either, he sipped his wine in contemplation before threatening them with the possibility of detainment. However, he was going to be merciful so long as they provided results from here on out. Eris gave him a side glance of loathing, but across from her Gaius stood off to the side, his face unreadable, and his body statuesque. He hadn’t moved, hadn’t blinked since they’d begun this conversation. That changed when he mentioned the same rules and that the ‘mortal had to stay.’
Eris didn’t want to be left behind again, besides… it was pretty obvious now that she wasn’t mortal.
[b “But she’s not human,”] Dahlia tried. The entire aura of the room shifted, all because of one damn smirk. Max smirked at her leaning in and looking smug. He wasn’t referring to Eris… he was referring to Dahlia… and it was clear he knew their names. Fucker had done his homework. He had an answer for everything, an explanation… and a Hag stone to see past Dahlia’s glamour. Not that it mattered, he knew who they were now. Eris reached up, seeing Dahlia move to hide behind Gaius, and placed her hand over Max’s and the stone. Gaius had moved finally to allow Dahlia to hide behind him comfortably.
[#b22222 “That won’t be necessary. You’ve made it very clear you already know who we are. Dahlia is special to me, is there any way I can sway your decision?”] Eris said now taking the protective stance ahead of them all. She stood in front of him, holding onto his hands, and even with her height still had to look up. He was a good head taller than her. Knowing that they’d gotten along alright the night before, and his flirtations she flashed him a pretty smile. Max grinned back and turned Eris’ hand until he was holding it and placed a kiss to her knuckles.
“Oh my dear woman, you are a lovely sight to behold, but your pretty face will not curry my favor. You’re not immune from my ire. I can’t find you anywhere in our systems. It’s illegal to be among mortals and not be registered with the Covenant, you’re aware?” Eris’ expression was enough of an answer. She stared at him with nothing short of confusion. “Ah, so you didn’t know… how adorable. You poor sweet thing, I do love a good mystery. What are you?”
[#Daa520 “Alright Max, that’s enough.”] Gaius finally spoke, seeing that Max had yet to figure out what Eris was. Max looked up and smirked. The Angel and Demon stared the other down, until Max let go of Eris’ hand.
“Perhaps I should ask you what went down, not that a filthy Sin can be trusted.”
[#B22222 “Racist…”] Eris called out, which caused the Angel to arch his brows at her, but Gaius held his hand to calm her. He needed to clear the air with Max and try to alleviate some of this tension. It was his fault Max was in his current mood as it was.
[#DAA520 “It’s alright Eris, Max has every reason to distrust my kind. I am not the Sin you need to worry about. It’s my brother, Greed. He’s working with a satyr named Silas and a Vampire named Conrad-“]
[#B22222 “Who wants to eat me, by the way. Guy is as creepy as he is good looking.”] Gaius and Max both gave Eris a mildly irritated look to query if she was done talking yet. She simply shrugged and crossed her arms over her barely covered chest.
“I knew of Silas, but Greed and Conrad are news to me. Do you have other names?” Gaius promised to send him a list later once he was done collecting information, as well as explaining that try as he might he had no choice but to release his wrath after the torture he endured. Max looked more disappointed that the Malumortis hadn’t just killed him.
“So you expect me to believe that out of self preservation for yourself and your group, you would release your demonic form in front of mortals, knowing the laws of our kind? Regardless if the mortals present were aware of Lorean creatures. I will be filing a formal complaint on your record.” Gaius didn’t care. He’d manage to stem Max’s ire from outright arresting them all. “If what you are saying is true and the Malumortis is recruiting in LA, it means their reach is spreading. Something like this can’t network without help from the inside. Someone has to gain from this.”
[#DAA520 “There are several who benefit from Atlas’ recent death, especially the Malumortis. Any change in the chain of command or structure makes us temporarily weak, now is the prime time for whoever is behind all of this to strike.”] Gaius warned.
“You think it’s all connected? Any proof?” That was when Max heard a clink on the glass table. He looked down and saw the medallion that Eris had been carrying. “What is this?” He reached down to pick it up and held it in his hands.
[#B22222 “I’ve been told it’s a couple of things. From a cheesy token, to a covenant VIP pass… Found it with some kid’s things… he was running around with a woman named Klara Croft before he went missing. Since you know who I am now, I suppose I don’t have to keep this from you, but people have been going missing in New York, and I think she’s a big connection to it, because no one has seen her either. The Valkyrie Ursula also tried to steal it from Dahlia and I. Whatever it is, it’s important to her, and it’s the reason we’ve been dragged into this mess.”]
Max looked the large coin over in his hands and frowned, his gaze pinning Gaius and Kael.
“If Hades is working with Lucifer…”
[#DAA520 “I don’t think they are… I think it’s their children. I think Klara and my father are behind this. They would benefit the most from a Malumortis coup. It would essentially knock your gilded asses down and instate a new order of law. Humans would no longer be safe. Hades and Lucifer begrudgingly hold up the covenant… for the right motivation they would break the agreement. The Malumortis might just give them that motivation.”] Max looked back at Eris then and held the medallion up.
“This is more than a Covenant Pass. This is Hades’ personal travel medallion. If you found this in the belongings of a mortal boy… he must have stolen it-“
[#B22222 “I don’t think so. He was pretty close with Klara from the looks of his journal. She might have gave it to him for safe keeping.”]
“Doubt it,” Max said and flipped it over. “I think Hades is in the medallion…trapped… There’s an interesting Aura around it… You see it, don’t you?” That was curious. Eris looked it over in his hand and asked how they would know if Hades was inside the medallion. “Open it,” he said handing it to her. She didn’t see a strange aura, but she had felt something different about it from the time she picked it up. An odd presence she had kept close to her, because on pure instinct she didn’t want it near Dahlia.
But to open it?
It suddenly felt very heavy in her hand. Open the medallion? This was too much like Pandora’s box. Just a bad idea all around. Well it wasn’t like Hades was the devil, or the Lord of Hell himself… Hades was a caretaker of the dead, not a torturer of the damned and corrupt. Curious, Eris looked from the Medallion to Max uncertain how to open the damn thing and uncertain as to why SHE had to do it.
“Only one of his kind can open it. I’m going to go on a hunch by your name that you’re Greek, and if you are Lorean, you’re a Greek Lore, and therefore capable of opening it.” He wasn’t wrong. Glancing back at him, Eris wondered if this was the best idea. She also decided she didn’t trust Max not to arrest or simply murder Hades for appearing.
[#B22222 “I think for now I’ll just keep carrying him around if he’s really in there.”] Had Gaius let out a tiny breath behind her?
Max seemed displeased, but undeterred. Grinning he walked over to his bar and collected a new drink for himself and Dahlia. “I much prefer to do business with you, Eris. I’ll solve the little mystery that is you, but for now… go solve the mystery of the Malumortis. I’ll take care of your little mortal.” Eris frowned. She didn’t want to leave Dahlia behind, and Gaius looked miserable with the idea.
[#B22222 “I’m not a member of the Covenant though… shouldn’t I stay too?”]
“Not if you don’t want to, but I’d say not being like those two allows you to do certain things that are outside their jurisdiction; such as looking into a rowdy communal house at the edge of town? Should prove fruitful. It’s out of my jurisdiction, but not a freelancer such as yourself. Have fun…” He waved them off, done with the conversation, and turned his interests towards Dahlia. He handed her a flute of champagne looking the image of gentlemanly, and it seemed to simply rise Gaius’ ire.
[#DAA520 “Not a hair on her head better be out of place when I return,”] Gaius warned. Max simply gave the Wrath demon a smug look as his bouncers came forward to strong arm them out of the loft and out of the club.
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