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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.
That wasn’t an answer that Kael wanted to hear. He was almost always on the side of running away to fight another day. And while Eris was right that he wasn’t one hundred percent sure what Max wanted, he was pretty damn sure. And because there was still a while before nightfall, he would have plenty of time for the feeling to stew inside of him.
As for Dahlia, it took a bit for her to process the plan when they explained what was going on. She hadn’t slept well. Unbeknownst to her, she was in the same boat as Kael. This didn’t feel like a very good idea, but there was nothing substantial for her to quantify it other than gut instinct. And so she stayed quiet. As time went on the feelings of anxiety waned.
Things went just about how Kael imagined they would as soon as they entered the club. There was no push back on the way in, and attention was swiftly on them as they stepped through the door. To his side he heard Gaius murmur under his breath.
[b “Why do I have a bad feeling about this?”]
He promptly, but quietly, responded. [b “Because it’s going to be a shit show.”] It wouldn’t be long until he was proven right.
They were up the stairs and greeted with a sickening front of hospitality. He could barely stand it, and it only worsened when he reached out to Eris, using her actual name and not the cover they’d fed him the other night. Signs pointed to the fact that Max had done some research and it did not bode well for any of them. Kael gritted his teeth as the angel put an arm over the maenad. To top it all off his false sense of friendliness melted away no sooner than Gaius spoke out. Although, Kael might have preferred it that way.
The downward spiral came to a screeching halt with Max asking him a rather offensive question. The red-eyed took a moment before answering. He needed to fully compose himself or else he was going to make it worse, albeit he was pretty sure there wasn’t a right answer in this situation. The magister seemed to be looking for any prompt at all to play his hand.
When it seemed that the angel was growing impatient, Kael went ahead and began talking. [b “Firstly, I am accountable for no actions other than my own.”]
Judging from the expression that flashed on Max’s face, he didn’t appreciate the sass. [b “Oh, is that so? So they did not pair you two off to keep him in check?”] He was being willfully insufferable. [b “Or perhaps to restore the ties between your families, detective Neu?”]
That confirmed he’d done some investigating. Unfortunate. [b “I can assure you, no such attempt is being made.”] There was no way in hell that would happen, but if that is what Max thought it wasn’t going to be good for them Kael needed to lead the conversation elsewhere. [b “As Gaius was saying, there is a good reason for what happened.”] He moved right along in hopes that if he did he wouldn’t be interrupted, but that hope came and went as Max jumped in.
[b “I, for one, don’t see any reasonable circumstances for the actions that were taken. Your kind may see endangering the lives of mortals as poultry, but I assure you I do not.”]
Kael chose to ignore the bite of the comment and continue. [b “With the circumstances being what they were, those humans were in grave danger. Even with things in disarray after we left, it must have been abundantly clear that the Malumortis were present. Had we remained idle, things surely would have become much worse. Many of the people present were able to escape this way.”]
Crossing one leg over the other, Max narrowed his eyes at Kael. Not sure he’d have another chance to speak after this, he continued before the angel could bring forth a rebuttal. [b “There is also the added affect that the malcontent will clear out for a while, giving us a chance to think properly over countermeasures and be able to survey their movement to see how deep the roots dig down in this district.”]
The angel wasn’t very happy with the insinuation that his municipality was deeply tainted, but the snake wasn’t entirely wrong. They had wrought an opportunity to exterminate the pests as they scurried from their boroughs. There was a long silence as he thought over it. As he did so he sipped off his drink, noting Eris’ refusal of her wine and the tension in her shoulders. She might not be so cooperative this time around. He thought it a shame, but he had a plan there as well.
Setting his drink down without a sound on the glass-topped table, Max broke the silence he had imposed upon the others. [b “I should have you all detained, but seeing as my mercy knows no bounds, I will save you that humiliation. However, you will not be getting off Scott free. Since this is all your doing, I expect you two to see to this investigation you mentioned.”] Once again he was linking them back to him. Kael didn’t like it one bit. [b “But this time, I expect results.”] The man in white narrowed his eyes at the demons, signaling that he wouldn’t be so kind if they came back empty handed again. To guarantee it in a way, he tacked on one last caveat. [b “Oh, and same rule as last time, the mortal stays with me.”]
Not even remotely ready to leave Eris here again, Dahlia broke into the conversation. [b “But she’s not human,”] her hand gestured towards her friend on the couch.
[b “Ah, my apologies, I should have been more specific.”] He smiled at Dahlia, taking a much softer tone with her as he spoke. [b “This one here is free to go.”] Max patted Eris lightly on the shoulder, emphasizing his words. [b “I was referring to you, Dahl, or is it Dahlia?”] Glancing over to Eris, he wondered if she remembered her slip up from the other night. [b “Witnesses from last night’s incident confirmed seeing those gentlemen in glamours. I imagine that if the rest of your party is in possession of concealment magic, it isn’t so far-fetched that you would be as well. By all means, my logic could be awry, but I have a have a quick way to check.”] Reaching in his pocket, the man pulled out a hagstone; most likely one that had been around the neck of last night’s would be victims.
Deflating somewhat, Dahlia flinched as Max used her real name. She didn’t want Eris to be stuck here, but she also didn’t want to be left behind. Regardless of his threat to see through her disguise, the petite woman did not move to remove her bracelet. Still, he was looking at her, as though he expected some kind of answer. It left her feeling uneasy. Reflexively she took a step to the side, hiding herself partially behind Gaius who was next to her.
Eris and Gaius returned from their smoke session, feeling relaxed and hungry. Gaius perched himself on the kitchen counter, eating strawberries, while Eris got to work making a breakfast for herself and Dahlia when she woke up. First things first: Coffee. Potatoes were in the skillet cooking along with a few rashers of bacon, when Eris spotted Kale enter the space. She blew the steam from the top of her mug when Kael warned of his bad news. Eris listened, but she was mildly distracted by how his hair was fluffed from sleep on one side, and he still had a sleepy gaze. He shouldn’t have looked so cute, but he did and Eris decided he could use a cup of coffee too to perk up. Did caffeine work on demons the way it did for humans?
Eris was more shocked that Max’s cronies knew where they were hiding. That was discouraging, if Max’s men knew where they were, what was to stop the Malumortis from finding them? What would stop Conrad, or Greed from finding them? She wasn’t surprised to hear that they’d been found out considering Gaius’ explosion of power and lapse of control.
[b “We can do as he says and hope he doesn’t detain us, or we can skip town.”] Kael finished. Eris frowned at Kael. They were all stuck in a tight position, and Gaius looked beyond guilty. His uneaten strawberries now sat ignored in his lap. Eris tried to remain hopeful, as she set to stirring and flipping the food she was cooking. It had been a while since Dahlia and Eris had a chance to really eat breakfast. Hell eating had been scarce since joining up with Gaius and Kael.
[#B22222 “I think we should go. We don’t really know what you’re being summoned for, it could be anything. It could be his weird obsession with Dahlia for all we know…”] That comment managed to make Gaius’ head snap up. Wanting to know what she meant by ‘weird obsession’. Eris could only shrug. [#B22222 “I’m not sure, he kept asking a lot of questions about her, and me too while I was with him. I didn’t tell him anything, but who knows what’s going through his mind. Did you get anything off that bug you planted?”] Kael hadn’t gotten a thing off of it, unfortunately.
They decided they would be returning to the club that night to confront Max, and the decision was relayed to Dahlia when she woke up and was able to eat her own breakfast. All day Eris was itching to leave the Safe House and go outside. She wanted to run off some steam, clear her head… but that wasn’t going to be possible, so when it was time for them to head out that night, Eris was one of the first ready to go. Gaius remained quiet and aloof. Keeping to himself and only speaking if Kael or Cornelius had something to ask of him. Eris supposed this was normal, and believed he was back to his same sullen self.
Dressed in black faux leather pants, her black boots, and a grey halter, Eris wore her hair partially up with two little space buns on the top of her head and sporting her choker. The entire ensemble was skin tight, but Eris had never bothered with being modest, and was well aware of her own figure. Good metabolism she supposed. It was warm in LA so she left her coat behind, daring to show her bare shoulders and arms off. Dahlia was a knockout too, and both were ready to make their entrance at the club. Hell, if they were about to go down, might as well go down in style, right? Even Kael and Gaius were looking their best, and it did not go unnoticed by the bouncer at the front door when they arrived.
He recognized Dahlia and Eris from the other night and welcomed them inside, and while he had orders to let Kael and Gaius in, he didn’t bother to hide his distain for ‘their kind’. The club was packed, bodies gyrating against the other on the dance floor, plenty of people shouting, and singing to the music, alcohol flowed, and Eris grinned at the energy of the room. Her grin was removed rather quickly though when she spotted Max at the top balcony looking down. He knew they were there. Behind her and Dahlia Gaius spoke, [#DAA520 “Why do I have a bad feeling about this?”] he muttered and looked to Kael, and then motioned with his eyes to the perimeter of the room. Security was amped up tonight. Was it because of Kael and Gaius’ breeds, or because of what happened?
Their group never had a chance to walk very far, because Max’s same cronies who dropped off the summons came to escort the group upstairs. It garnered a few looks from regulars of the club who watched on curiously, some of them were even eying Eris curiously. Was it obvious she wasn’t human now?
Max was waiting for them in his loft, away from the music and with plenty of alcohol and some finger food waiting for them.
“Ah, my newest [i friends],” Max crooned and walked over, his hands extended forward. “Sweet Eris, come and sit with me.” Eris was shocked to hear that but she allowed him to take her hands and lead her away towards the sofas, but not without a glance back at Kael and Dahlia.
Eris sat down next to him, and accepted the glass of wine he handed her, but Eris remembered how things had gone fuzzy for her the last time she was in his company, and so she set it back down on the small table between them all. “I was very worried about your little [i mortal] when I heard about your… [i explosive] display at an underground rally last night…” Eris tensed beside him, even as he pretentiously draped an arm along the back of the sofa and her shoulders. Across the table Eris shared a concerned looked with Dahlia.
[#DAA520 “We have a perfectly good explanation,”] Gaius began but Max cut a cold glare.
“I sure fucking hope so. I’ve been cleaning up your mess all day today. Deleting social media videos, wiping mortal memories, and tracking down said mortals… it has [i not] been easy. You… you proved to be a huge disappointment, Wrath…” Max tsked, but it did not mask his absolute rage over the situation, no matter how he kept his cool. His words were cut with a razors edge, salt and ice… it burned and it was cautionary… a warning not to cross him further. He glared over at Kael and snapped at him next. “You look like a smart man, The Covenant would not have partnered you with Wrath without good reason. You are supposed to keep him on a leash… care to elaborate why your hell hound ran wild last night?” From his place Gaius growled dangerously at the insult. Max paid him no mind, blatantly ignoring him and looking to Kael for answers.
Dahlia was glad when Eris finally appeared, but by that time it looked as though Gaius was already out of it. The two didn’t linger much longer after that. Instead they opted to leave together. Unsure of what to do from there, the shorter woman hesitated in the hall after her friend declared she would be off to bed as well. Dahlia wasn’t tired quite yet. Sure it was getting to be early but they had stayed up much later the night before and it felt like she had only be awake for a short while. Not that she blamed the newfound Maenad for being tired. It was tempting to join her, but the mortal knew it wouldn’t be much use so she wandered back to the living area.
There she found Kael, in the kitchenette. He was cleaning up the remnants of hulled strawberries. Dahlia figured he must have helped Eris out, probably why it had taken so long. It wasn’t a big deal, but she continued to watch him wondering what it was about him that seemed to appeal to her friend. She was usually curious about that sort of thing.
[b “Can I help you?”] The question was sincere and not meant to come off as harshly as it might have. Kael had felt the woman’s eyes on him since she walked into the room.
Blinking, Dahlia was surprised he noticed she was there… well kinda. At the very least she hadn’t acknowledged that he’d heard her enter in any way. [b “Um… no. Not really.”] The dark haired woman took this as her chance to populate the couch and turn on the TV. It was awkward and it made her antsy. Well, she assumed that was what had her nervous. She could barely focus on the sitcom playing on the screen. It was one she normally enjoyed, but was seldom able to watch since they didn’t have cable back home. This should have been a treat, but her nerves were all over the place.
Well, that was different. He wasn’t sure what had gotten into Dahlia, but Kael chose to ignore it for the time being. The man finished the cleaning he’d offered to do and then headed over to the computer. Despite all of what had happened, Kael had made it out without expending too much energy, so he wasn’t nearly as exhausted as everyone else involved. However on his way to sit down, the girl on the couch piped up again.
[b “Hey Kael,”] She paused to make certain he had his attention. [b “Actually, do you think it might be time we think about moving on again?”] The longer she sat there the worse she felt about staying in LA. There wasn’t an actual explanation for it, and so her mind was racing to grasp a logical reason for her concerns.
[b “Hmmm?”] The red eyed man let out a confused sound. [b “Eventually yes, but we just made a big wake, so we need to see what they do next. We might be able to uncover more of the network in this area.”] Usually when something like this happened the important parties involved would move in some way or another. They needed to wait and see if anyone significant in the area shifted.
That answer did make her feel any better. [b “I just thought that since we made a wake, like you said, we might get unwanted attention.”] Weren’t they supposed to be laying low so Ursula and her posse didn’t find them? [b “If this malumortis is that bad, I assume we don’t want them pinpointing us either…”] It felt like there were a lot of people out to get them at that moment. Chances were high one of them would succeed if they stuck around too long.
Had Dahlia always been this paranoid? Maybe it was just when she was on her own? Either way, Kael wasn’t entirely sure what to say, as her fears weren’t entirely unfounded. [b “Yes, we will get some of that too, but we are secure here. And if push comes to shove we can quickly relocate if the need arises.”] He smiled at her assuredly. [b “Try not to worry so much.”]
She wasn’t really convinced with that, but it seemed as though it wasn’t really up for debate as most of their group wasn’t present. Perhaps when everyone was a part of the conversation they could continue further down this rabbit hole. For now she just needed to wait, so she grabbed up the couch cushion, wrapping her arms tightly around it, and tried a little harder to focus in on her show.
Kael continued on his path, sitting in the leather office chair. It took a few minutes for the computer to fully boot up, but he didn’t mind waiting. There was plenty of time. When the screen came to life, he pulled out a pair of headphones from the desk drawer. They were a little bulky, but they managed to filter outside sound out fairly well. He plugged them into the computer console before placing them on his head and over his ears. A few keyboard shortcuts and passwords later and he was in the LPC mainframe. It was finally time to go over some of that audio he’d been collecting over the last day or so. Several more passcodes and he was at the data itself. There were several instances of spikes in sound, but overall there wasn’t a lot. Maybe three hours of recordings and he was sure some of it was from the downstairs area. Max had probably been out a lot since they’d left. It wasn’t promising, but Kael jumped right in, starting at the beginning when they left the club.
It began with a lot of complaint about him and Gaius; although Max seemed to focus most of his bitching at the sin demon. Probably just in his nature. And true to what Kael expected, there was a lot of nothing, just blasts of music or yelling off in the distance that got caught on the device. It was a bore and so he sped it up further to make it pass quicker. An hour in he noticed Dahlia get up and return to her and Eris’ room. He used it as excuse to get a drink then it was back to the grind. It wasn’t until he came to the end of the recordings, stuff from only a few hours ago, that it got interesting. Finally the magister made a vocal appearance, and he was pissed. There was the sound of hustling. Max was yelling; most of it was indistinct. But it was clear he was moving around. Kael had a bad feeling he knew why. And before he had a chance to get any further into it, an urgent beeping came from across the room. The motion camera at the entrance was picking something up.
Immediately Kael was at the control panel, the small screen showing a trio of well dressed men examining the door. It was no time at all before they noticed the camera. One of the group opened his jacket and made a show of pulling out an envelope. He dropped it on the ground, staring directly into the recording lens the entire time. There was a smug air to every move he made, even after that point. Then the three left without much more ado.
Fuck, it was probably a summons. Kael would bet money Max was calling them back to his club. Giving it another hour or so, the snake opened the entrance and retrieved the letter. Sure as the moon was in the sky, it was exactly what he’d thought. Groaning, he quickly reentered the house. This wasn’t good. How many humans had seen Gaius in full demon form? Max had a right to be pissed, but he really didn’t want to deal with it… maybe they should have left…Kael returned to his room for the rest of the night and most the next morning. He didn’t say anything to Cornelius just yet.
Upon hearing the others rousting throughout the house and smelling the breakfast they’d started, Kael was still hesitant to leave. He really didn’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but there was no way around it this time. Walking out with the others, he didn’t see Dahlia, but it wasn’t of much consequence. He already knew she wanted to get out of here.
He sighed, standing at the edge of the kitchen. [b “Bad news.”] Might as well lead with that and get right to it. [b “Last night Max’s cronies stopped by. We’ve received a summons.”] The tall demon tossed the thick, legal grade paper onto the counter. [b “He caught wind of what happened last night and he isn’t happy… how I see it, we’ve got two options. We can do as he says and hope he doesn’t detain us, or we can skip town.”] There was a good chance that when they brought all this to light, they could weasel their way out of reprimand for all the unregulated measures they’d taken, but as of right now everything was still shrouded. Not to mention disobeying a direct command from a regional magister was grounds for termination in their line of work. And he doubted Max would let it slide no matter what they did from here on out. It was a difficult choice.
Eris listened to what he had to say in regards to how he and Gaius became partners. It was strange to think that Gaius, and even Kael’s mother could be so old their sheer aura could be stifling to others. Eris hadn’t even thought that Kael wasn’t in their league until he said he wasn’t in a round about way. Hell, she hadn’t even realized there was such a caste system within the demonarchy. Demonarchy, was that a legitimate word? If it wasn’t, it was now, she decided. She could only roll her eyes at him when he said she must be disappointed. In her most sarcastic tone she nodded.
[#B22222 “I’m so disappointed…”] she teased, but the moment fizzled out soon, as it went quiet between them. She stared at his red eyes, captivated by how they seemed to carry every shade of red, flecked within the iris. Suddenly she realized he was waiting for her to answer his question. She blushed slightly and cringed inwardly for letting herself get distracted by his eyes. They had once freaked her out, and now she was seeing a depth in them she hadn’t before.
[#B22222 “I don’t know what I was expecting. It was more excitement than I think I was ready for. Tonight was just a lot for me to process. Not just being in that situation, but learning that I’m not … Human. I think I just need to get these strawberries out to Gaius and go lay down. I was tired earlier, but I’m exhausted now.”] she said setting the pail aside and stood up with some effort.
She then reached into the fridge and removed the case of strawberries, and set to work cleaning them. She looked back at Kael and asked if he’d like to help her. If she got weak again he’d be there to help her, and she had found she liked his company. It was twice now he’d saved her from being a Vampire’s dinner, and it was safe to say when a guy did that for you, it was hard not to become attracted even just a little bit.
When the strawberries were all cut and sugared Eris carried it with a small glass of water to the back room and set it on the nightstand. Gaius seemed asleep, and looking peaceful. Eris was sure to be quiet and seeing Gaius so relaxed, they both dragged a blanket over his lap and left the room.
[#b22222 “Gaius has the right idea… I’m going to get some sleep too…”] Eris muttered tiredly, and gave Dahlia a quick parting hug before shuffling off to hide away under the covers.
The moment the closed his eyes snapped open, and he reached over for a strawberry, proving he hadn’t been asleep the entire time. Just relaxed. He felt he’d put Dahlia on further edge just by enjoying her company, the subtle flush of her cheeks earlier, hadn’t gone entirely unnoticed either. So he decided to just lay back and let her be. If it was truly meant to be, it would find it’s way, until then he wasn’t going to do a damn thing that could potentially scare her off… aside from his earlier stunt.
Gaius had never been ashamed of his demonic form, but he now found himself feeling… inadequate. Dahlia wasn’t even in the same league as him. She was fragile, innocent, pure… and 100% mortal. Still, a man could dream, and he did… after he at his strawberries.
The following evening Gaius was the first to wake, and he was surprised by how the women had managed to shift their sleeping patterns to be more nocturnal. It was a quarter after 4 in the afternoon, when he woke up, but he wasn’t the first for very long. He managed to pour himself a glass of whiskey when he heard Eris emerge from the women’s shared room. He could smell the cannabis on her before she reached the kitchen. They locked gazes as she passed, and for a moment she stared at him, until finally sighing and motioned for him to follow. A grin crossed his face and he followed her to partake in what she was willing to share.
[#Daa520 “I never properly told you thank you. Thank you, but you shouldn’t be using your powers when you don’t understand them.”] Gaius said as they stood outside sharing a smoke. Eris looked at him, and he was noticing the subtle changes that had been taking over since she’d get submerged in this mess. From her pocket she produced the medallion and began flipping it over her knuckles.
[#B22222 “You’re welcome, but in my defense, I didn’t expect it to be so draining. It has gotten me thinking though, why now… why would these changes start now? And I realized… ever since I started carrying this around, nothing has been the same. I don’t know if it’s the cause of my change, or the events surrounding it… but it started this. I won’t learn if I never try, and if I’m as rare as everyone keeps making me out to be… then I need to learn how to survive and do it quickly. I understand there are risks… and that Hades is probably real-“] she looked at the medallion now in her hand, but Gaius interrupted her to remind her, he was very much real. Unfortunately for Eris, that factoid wasn’t very comforting.
Gaius suggested the return inside and help him cook dinner to feed the mortals with, before they all ventured off to see if there weren’t more leads to follow.
Dahlia had been afraid that she was being too preachy. So when Gaius smiled back at her all sincerely like that, she was hit with a wave of relief. The smile on her lips only brightened. He even went so far as to compliment her, calling her insightful. She wasn’t sure if she would agree, but it was awful nice of him to say. The petite woman was distracted with this thought when she felt his hand envelope hers. It caught her off guard, so her eyes fell to their place of contact. His touch was deliberately soft, warm, and not as unwelcome as she would have imagined. When she looked back up, his brilliant golden eyes were staring raptly back into hers. Something about it was incredibly intimate, in a way she’d never experienced before.
Just as she felt her cheeks begin to heat up, he spoke. [b “… Thank you for listening to the musings of an old demon…”]
Oh, he was just trying to say his thanks. She’d really gotten ahead of herself. This was exactly the reason she didn’t like to assume she was being singled out. Suddenly she was very self-conscious about sitting so close to him on the bed. Her face grew red, now out of embarrassment as apposed to whatever the hell was going on before. Dahlia was glad Gaius had closed his eyes. It would only be worse if he said asked what was wrong. But along with all that mortification at her mistake, there was also a twang of disappointment. And that was more than just a little surprising. Especially after she’d given Eris such a hard time about dropping that bombshell about maybe liking Kael. Internally groaning, she covered her face in her hands. This was too much.
Dahlia took deep breaths in order to calm herself. When she was feeling a little less hypocritical and ready to face the world, she lowered her hands back to her lap. In attempts to distract herself, she thought to her friend once more. Where was Eris anyway? She was supposed to be right back with the strawberries.
Kael shook his head; smiling at the fact that Eris was undoubtedly blowing Gaius off. It took a brave soul to do that, especially now that she knew exactly who he was. Not that the snake had come to expect any less of her.
At her question he shrugged. [b “You’re probably right there…”] The older demon didn’t fit in with the usual company he chose to keep. [b “It wasn’t my choice though. We were assigned to each other. I think he went through a couple of partners before the agency stuck us together.”] Kael didn’t know the details there and he didn’t care to ask. [b “As you’ve come to learn, Gaius is kind of a big deal. And when demons get that old and that powerful the aura they exude gets very strong… it can be stifling if you’re not used to it. But, I grew up around that sort of thing. You see my mother, much like Gaius, has been around for a while. So since she raised me, it doesn’t really faze me anymore. I kinda forget about.”] In a way he’d build up immunity.
Thinking about it a bit more, Kael let his eyes rest on Eris features. They were sharp, much like her personality. More so now that her maenad blood had been awakened. She was a stone cold fox, but he had thought that back when he fully believed her to be human. He wasn’t sure how he’d describe her looks now… gorgeous maybe? No, it didn’t really encompass it correctly. Not that it mattered; he had time to sort that out. Right now he needed to finish answering her question.
[b “There are also certain higher ups that think Gaius’ whole being here is a long con to further the malumortis’ plans. And that his alliances still lie with his family.”] If any of them actually used their eyes they could see that wasn’t the case, but unfortunately they were all too paranoid. [b “My family takes a firm stance on the other side of things, so they probably think I’ll let them know if he makes any suspicious moves.”] Honestly he hated how focused on familial ties everyone was.
[b “… So was that as exciting as you thought it would be?”] Kael took a teasing tone with the question. [b “I mean, I’m flattered that you want to know about me, but I’m afraid I am not some sort of ‘super agent.’“] With a wide smile, he brought his hands in quotes to emphasize the term [b “I imagine that is disappointing.”] .
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