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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.”] .
Gaius wanted to smirk at her. She thought he was too hard on himself, perhaps she’d be hard on herself too if she’d done the things he had. To be fair, she was right, humans always had a choice. It was only recently in the past hundred years, he began to think he might have one as well. He listened to her words, her view of wrath and the human condition.
[b “Just because you have the capacity to be evil doesn’t mean you always have to be. And I think it says a lot that you’ve already made that choice.”] She smiled softly, no doubt feeling proud of herself for coming up with such a mature and well thought out answer. He couldn’t help but smile back at her, even if it was a small smile filled with humility.
[#DAA520 “For a human as young as you are, you are very insightful. In truth, I’ve been blaming myself for so long, I never stopped to consider that my influence is nothing more than a choice to humans. To act upon it, or not… I’m not the one who tells them they have to do things… I just stoke the flames. I am in sense, a temptation I suppose. Maybe redemption can be found for someone like me,”] He grinned at her hopeful. Truly thankful for her words, and her company.
Taking a gamble, he reached out and collected her hand in his, and offered her a warm smile. Her hand was so small in comparison to his own, soft and pale too. He was careful not to scratch her with his razor sharp claws, and stared intently into her eyes. [#DAA520 “You are kind to me, Dahlia Morgan. Far more kind than I believe I deserve from any creature, but… I am glad to know you. Thank you for listening to the musings of an old demon…”] He let her hand go and leaned back to lay down in the bed and rest further.
Normally Gaius hated humans, they were the cause of his guilt and his own wrath. They were self destructive, absorbed, idiotic, and fleeting. They were also the only creatures who on occasion showed him kindness in their naivety. Dahlia was different though, she was making him change his views on humans, mostly on her. He enjoyed her presence, and found it comforting. Her aura was warm and bright -a stark contrast to his own.
His eyes falling closed, he welcomed the comfortable silence between them, even he wasn’t comfortable. It was always a pain when he shifted forms. However, knowing that Dahlia was alright made it worthwhile, and he wouldn’t dare complain.
Eris hugged the pail to her chest, the way a child holds their favorite plush. A drunken smile filled her own face at the sound of Kael’s laughter. She’d seen a whole new side to him in the past forty-eight hours. A side she was realizing she immensely liked. She listened to him, enjoying the coolness of the stainless steel fridge on her back and the sound of his voice as he told her not to put too much stock in what Gaius said. She wouldn’t, but it didn’t dissuade her from believing that something was inherently special about Dahlia, because even Eris could remember meeting her the first time, and before they’d even spoken Eris had been drawn to her. Had known who she was before that incident on the Red line ever happened. She was also pretty sure that Gaius was a demon as old as the dawn of time, or at least as old as the human race was, and no doubt had a different view or understanding of the world. However, she didn’t believe Dahlia was a paranormal. She was hardly capable of swallowing her own truth, and it wouldn’t get easier until she finally got answers from her family.
[#B22222 “Opf, I told Gaius I’d get him some strawberries,”] she mused at remembering the whole reason she’d come to the kitchen. No doubt he would understand her weakened state after what she’d done for him, so she wasn’t into too much of a rush. Though she was starting to feel better with the cool effect of the fridge against her back. [#B22222 “He can wait though… hey answer me this: How did you end up being partners with him? I mean, I don’t know you very well, but you don’t strike me as the sort of guy who would befriend someone so… I don’t know… depressed? He seems too stuffy for you, but then I suppose opposites attract. For all I know you two might be super agents or something…”]
There was a moment of pause and Dahlia wasn’t sure if he was going to answer. Since it was a complicated subject, there was a chance he was just gathering his thoughts. After all, he would need to word it in a way that a human like her could grasp. The dark eyed woman was sure there was still much she wasn’t privy to in this world, but that was nothing new. When he did speak, she was glad, even if what he was said was dismal.
[b “Well, this that’s unfortunate.”] The comment was in response to humanities enslavement and not Gaius’ discloser about himself. She kind of figured that it was some sort of guise that he and Kael looked so close to human. Demons probably wouldn’t look down on them so much if that were actually the case, but who knew, people had a stupid tenancy to fear and hate things they don’t see in themselves. Thus the birth of racism and many other biases based in hatred for others.
Without much of a thought, the mortal woman took a seat on the bed as he called her to do. She turned so that she was better facing the wrath demon, her feet tucked back comfortably beside her. When she was all settled, he went on. This second stretch was harder to stomach. He’d had a hand in so many atrocities, even if it wasn’t directly. As she listened, she tried to form an opinion on it all. Should she be appalled? The feeling didn’t come even though it probably should have. Perhaps it was because she hadn’t fully heard him out.
The last stretch of story was a little more hopeful… kinda? At the very least it highlighted the fact that he was actively trying to change, which was commendable for anyone, let alone a demon born and steeped in literal sin. Not to mention he also had the devil on his tail waiting to snuff out anything of light that made him remotely happy. With that a warning bell rang loudly in her head. Gaius had made a fuss just a bit ago about her being a presence of light and now he was saying that his dad was rather adamant about ‘taking such things away’, which was fairly certain was a euphemism for ‘killing them.’ It made her a tad nervous.
Even though she was still thinking over what she thought of it all, Dahlia started talking. [b “I think you’re being too hard on yourself… It’s true that you are not blameless, but people have the capacity to make their own choices. Just because they are angry doesn’t mean they have to act, or do so violently.”] She stopped for a moment to let it sink in. Gaius was millennia old, it was probably unwise to assume she could teach him anything, but she wanted to say it all anyway. [b “I don’t believe wrath is inherently evil, just like anything else, it has its place in the world. There has to be fury against injustice for people to move against it. There’d be no change without that feeling; we’d be complacent. The same goes for you in a way, just because you have the capacity to be evil doesn’t mean you always have to be. And I think it says a lot that you’ve already made that choice.”] After all that though, it seemed that was her answer to herself as well. She smiled softly, hoping she’d be a positive presence despite the circumstances.
Kael had full and well been expecting the first bit of her answer, that being self-sufficiency to the point that she could be safe on her own. [b “I knew you’d say that.’] He wore a playful smile, as though it was a bit of a game. The hiding aspect of her plan was less predictable, but he wasn’t unhappy about it. Hiding was something he was actually good at. While his combat wasn’t awful, it paled in comparison to someone like Gaius, or half the other ancients that roamed around. But disappearing, that was something he could do and do well. There was no doubt in his mind he could get her back to Greece and her family without a trace.
[b “From the sounds of it your family has a perfect set up there. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were a clan of Maenads. They’re probably taking solace in a homemade sanctuary.] Chances were high they were some of the last.
[b “… I’ve always known she was a human unicorn…”]
The snake blinked, trying to fully comprehend the sentence that came out of Eris’ mouth. [b “A what?”] Shortly after that his composer fell to shambles and he was laughing. [b “A human… unicorn… what a fitting description.”] The words and syllables stuttered out between his chuckling. The fountain of laughter didn’t last long, allowing him to speak normally once more.
[b “Yeah, there’s definitely something strange about her aura. It’s brighter than most mortals, but I don’t really know what it’s about.”] In fact he wouldn’t have thought anything of it had Gaius not been so stuck on her, but he knew that was something else entirely. [b “I don’t know if I’d put too much stock in what Gaius says about that… He’s more sensitive to that sort of thing. There’s a chance he’s blowing it out of proportion.”] Sometimes when you focus really hard on something, it becomes special. Plus Gaius had to wade through all that fatal link nonsense; it might be clouding his perception of the situation. And while that was the camp Kael was in for the time being, but he wasn’t stupid enough to ignore the possibility that there might actually be more to it. [b “But who know, she might end up being like you, where something eventually comes to the surface. Only time will tell.”] That last bit wasn’t true, but they didn’t have time to waste trying to drag out the truth.
Gaius wasn’t expecting her next question or her comments. What made him want to protect humanity instead of conquering it the way most of his family and brethren did? That was something no-one had ever asked him, at least not in any recent history he could remember. He looked back at Dahlia feeling her expectant gaze and meeting it. He supposed he could tell her, and since he was more sure than ever she was what he thought she was… he knew he had to tell her.
[#Daa520 “They don’t want your heads, they want your subservience. They want your flesh, your sins, your darkest thoughts.… they want to be worshipped. It gives them power. Do not be fooled into thinking they want the human race to cease existing. It’s quite the opposite. This form you see before you is one I had to craft. My demonic form, the one you saw earlier tonight… is a physical manifestation of my true form. I know it probably doesn’t make sense, but I am Wrath. My purpose was to whisper in the minds of men and draw them towards their rage. I was nothing more than a violent emotion, and at times… I still feel myself being pulled to humans who are intimate with darkness. Most days people are consumed by Greed, gluttony, lust, and pride… there aren’t very many violent people out there these days. Not that I mind. It’s exhausting being angry all the time, but that doesn’t really answer your question, here, sit,”] he advised and reached a hand out for her to sit down on the edge of the bed by him, and he moved to make her room.
[#DAA520 “My answer is not so simple. You have to understand for the better of my life, I was a monster- I am a monster. I prevailed over mad kings like Vlad The Impaler, Atilla the hun, Ivan IV, even men like Adolf Eichman, who organized the holocaust… World War II was a turning point for me, and after Amin Dada of Uganda in the 70’s… I was tired… I was realizing the level of death my influences had on these types of men, and even the individual. There is a great deal of wrath from many a young man who you would now call extremists or radicals. Like the men who flew planes into the Twin Towers… My influence has evolved beyond me, as it has my siblings. It’s how I still draw my own power, through people’s wrath when they commit an act in its name. Being angry is not enough for me, I need rage and I need bloodshed. I sense every murder ever committed in this world, I sense every woman who’s had enough of being beaten by her husband finally lash out and killing him before he does her. I sense the rage inside thousands of young Arab men who have grown up with their homes being bombed by the Western Civilization. I sense the rage of hundreds of Sudanese women who want to kill their captors before they can be raped again. I sense and cultivate the world’s wrath, which means I am partially to blame for its suffering.”] he sighed heavily, feeling ashamed but knowing he could not lie to Dahlia. If he ever had a hope of her seeing more to him, she needed to know his turbulent past, his ongoing struggle, and his hopeful future of redemption.
[#DAA520 “Time brings with it wisdom, and in my time I have seen the damage my particular sin causes -more so than my siblings. It wasn’t until the year of 1979 I was shown kindness. I was traveling through India, where I met a Guru who invited me to travel with him. I still don’t know why I went with him, but he fed me, and enlightened me to the teachings of Buddha. I still think about the things he said… but when he was violently killed by a man motivated by wrath and basic cruelty… I blamed myself. I realized I no longer had control of people’s wrath, and I really didn’t know who I was as a man. A man who was now living among humans in ways I never had for the past two thousand years. I was learning the struggles of humanity, witnessing their compassion, their ability to forgive and their tenacity. I want to be on Earth because I want to learn what it is about Humans that allows them to have such capacity to grow and mature in such a short amount of time. My father, you would know him as Satan, did not like that I wanted to live among humans. He commanded I return back to Hell where I belonged. I refused, so he banished me from returning and vowed that one day I would regret living among humans. He told me one day I would find a particular human, and when that day came… if I didn’t kill them, he would. I have avoided contact with humans for that purpose, and serve the covenant in the hopes of finding redemption. If I can help save the human race from it’s own demise…. Perhaps I can save myself. I’ve already lived a life of damnation, but recently I’ve begun to think my father has always known of a crueler way to make me suffer. By taking the one thing that might give my whole life meaning. I assume he believes if he takes away whatever light in this world I find, I will return to him like a beaten dog with my tail between my legs. Despite my influences on humans, they are the only creatures who have ever shown me true kindness. That is why I want to help you, and why I will do whatever I can to help bring down the Malumortis and my father with it. I didn’t ask to be what I am, but I can try to be better.”]
Eris hugged the waste bin to her stomach, looking at Kael with tired eyes. At least she wouldn’t die, and she could only get stronger. That was good news, even better what his honesty about helping her. She liked that he was direct, and didn’t sugar coat anything or deflect from serious topics. She liked that he was a ‘live in the moment’ sort of person, and that he must value her life in some form or he wouldn’t care if she lived or died. He then went on to elaborate further options such as joining a faction, and learning how to defend herself. Both sounded like good ideas, and she certainly didn’t want him to be a body guard. She wanted to be able to take care of herself. She didn’t want to have to rely on another to keep her safe.
[#B22222 “I think no matter what, I should learn how to protect myself, and if you can’t teach me, I’m sure I can find another. I also don’t know if I want to join a faction or clan or whatever it’s called. I don’t know how your rules work, and if my family is in hiding, it’s probably for the best I try to do something similar. They’re clearly hiding for a reason, and I don’t think I’m really going to be able to help myself unless I can make contact with them and learn more about myself, and what I’m capable of.”] She frowned in thought, knowing that she was probably safest back in Greece, back with her eccentric family, and the community she had grown up in. [#B22222 “You know, thinking back, I must have already been part of a coven or clan… because the whole village that I grew up in was prone to having festivals in honor of the old ways, lots of wine, meals, music… and the motto: it takes a village, was taken literally there. Everyone is in each others business and knows what’s going on with everyone… you know, now that I’ve learned what I am, I’ve been having this urge to go back home. I haven’t wanted to go home since before I met Dahlia. Gaius says she’s special… I’ve always known she was a human unicorn, but now I’m thinking he might be onto something.”]
Thinking about it, Dahlia knew one didn’t have to be from the tapestry of lore to be extraordinary, but even then she didn’t consider herself to be amongst that part of humanity either. Gaius was quick to derail that train of thought though. He claimed there was something more to her, something inherently good, or at the very least steeped in light. She wasn’t sure how she felt about that. It was familiar, reminding her of things she’d rather leave behind, but the warm way her spoke about her made it feel like it might not be so bad. All in all, it was a perplexing entanglement of emotions. But because it was not the first time hearing such a spiel, the woman was hasty to believe him. Even if it wasn’t something she should accept without at least a second thought. [b “Well, I guess there’s that then.”] Her words were soft, and somewhat lackluster.
Watching Gaius, he was back to avoiding looking at her. She wasn’t sure if it was still out of shame or a sign that he wasn’t telling the whole truth. He didn’t seem the type to have such an obvious tell when lying, so she pegged it on the former for the time being. That being the case, it might not be a bad idea to distract him with something else.
[b “Umm, if you don’t mind me asking, what made you take this side on things? I mean, you mentioned seeing your brother at the Malumortis get together, and something about your dad popped up before. It’s seems to me their all determined to have humanity’s head on a platter, but you’re just the opposite.”] There was a good chance she was jumping out of the frying pan and straight into the fire, but at least he might actually look her way.
Kael was up and out of his seat before Eris even mentioned feeling ill. He could hear it in her voice; her tone lacked the same energetic bite that it usually held. This outcome wasn’t all that astounding, but he was impressed she held out as long as she did. [b “That’s pretty common when you overdraw your magical energy, it starts to dip into your physical stamina instead.”]
At the mention that she was feeling sick to her stomach, he popped around the corner and grabbed an empty wastebasket. Kael handed it to her with a sympathetic smile. [b “Just in case.”] It was more dignified than puking on the floor again. [b “Luckily you can’t completely deplete your energies,”] you’d pass out before you’d die. [b “With more use you will be able to increase the size of your magic pool. It’s the sort of thing that takes years of practice, but at this rate you might have it in months.”] He was only half joking.
The man was silent as he listened to her fears and concerns, all of which were very real. When she finished up, he sat down next to her so that they were on the same level. [b “I wouldn’t worry too much about your family. It’s unlikely anyone you’ve met so far would be able to trace you all the way back to them, but it is something to be mindful of in the future.”] Eris really needed to be worrying about her own hide.
Kael wasn’t expecting her to bring up his proposal so soon, but he wasn’t going to dance around the matter. [b “Yes, I was.”] Despite his directness, he knew it was an odd thing to offer someone he essentially just met. And so he attempted to alleviate that before he went on into details.
[b “I’m the type who lives life in the moment… and right now I don’t really want to see you dead. So you have my services if you want them.”] Perhaps putting it that way made him sound fickle, but he was completely set to help her as long as he feasibly could. This was important, so it wasn’t the sort of path he’d easily turn back on later down the line when things got rocky.
[b “Though, the nature of my assistance depends on what you want. It could be as simple as playing the role of a body guard, but I wouldn’t suggest that. I won’t always be around, so it would be better if we paired that with teaching you self-defense that’s geared toward our world...”] He thought about it a moment. It might have been a little creepy that he started off with only offering her with options that tethered both her and her safety to him. [b “…Or, if you’d rather, I could help you find a faction to join that could do the same. More eyes equals more cover. There’re a million circles that would gladly take someone like you under their wing, but there would be less freedom in that.] Either way she went he was getting what he wanted. An excuse to keep in contact with her after the Malumortis thing blew over… assuming it worked out in their favor.
[b “Sure, it was frightening, but so is everything else I’ve seen these past few days. Honestly, after everything I’m more confused than anything else… you just seemed so sad.”]
Gaius tensed in shock at her perception of his demonic form. He swallowed tensely, his mouth feeling a little dry, and his hand curled tightly into a fist. He felt the sharp prick of his claws digging into his palm, but it did nothing to stop his stomach from twisting into uncomfortable knots. It was the silence that cause it, not her words. He could tell she wanted to ask questions, but he was too ashamed to even look at her. She must have sensed it because she attempted to say she wasn’t special. That she was average.
Gaius actually let out of half hearted chuckle.
[#DAA520 “I think you fail to realize that you don’t need to be of the Lore to be special.”] He stated firmly, his eyes finally lifting to look upon her. She was beautiful in the old classic way. Dark hair like chocolate and big doe eyes that could swallow him whole. He felt his heart thunder, and an ancient pull inside him that longed to reach out and touch her. He desired her light because he was demon... but he desired her because she was his female fatal. [#DAA520 “Human or not, you possess a light that has long been lost in this world. It is something no mere human can possess, and no mere paranormal can sense. Even Kael is unaware of what you have, but a Primordial -the first of our kind, like myself... like Max... we sense it. I am a creature consumed by darkness, Dahlia. I am Wrath. Angels like Max, were once keepers of light. I saw how he looked at you, and I don’t doubt for a moment that he sensed it too. I’m shocked my brother didn’t realize you at the meeting last night. Though... he was a bit preoccupied...”] Gaius murmured darkly. He swore when he saw his brother again, he’d kill him.
Gaius felt bad putting this on Dahlia. She was far too good to be weighted down with such things. He watched her closely, wondering how she’d take it. For all he knew, she might not even believe him. He wondered further how she’d react if he told her what he thought she was, and what made her special to only him...
Eris left the room, closing the door behind her and leaned against the wall. She was feeling dizzy now hat she was standing up. Perhaps it wasn’t the smartest thing to try and rouse an ancient and crazy powerful demon. Maybe her charge was low? How would she regenerate power? Could she regenerate or was he amount finite? Questions buzzed in her head as she felt her way back down the hall to find the kitchen. The lights were a bit brighter than she would have liked, and under her chin Eve slithered down to her arm and wove tightly around her elbow to get a better view. What was she getting out of the fridge again? Oh right, Strawberries. Eris reached for the handle and shook her head of further dizziness, and a swell of nausea when she heard Kael call to her.
She knew it was a compliment, but she was starting to think she didn’t deserve it. Rather, she needed a reprimand for using her powers blindly without any understanding of how they worked.
[#B22222 “I don’t know... I think I could use some work. I don’t feel so good now,”] she admitted breathlessly, letting go of the fridge and slumping down to sit on the floor. She didn’t regret helping Gaius, but she was starting to regret her blind enthusiasm. She looked up to see Kael come around towards her grinned sheepishly. [#B22222 “I feel like I just ran a marathon and want to puke,”] she half heartedly joked. She sighed growing serious and looked into Kael’s eyes. [#B22222 “I have questions, Kael. Questions I need answers for. If the Malumortis knows who and what I am, they might track down my family back in Greece and then who knows what? I might have just... royally fucked my whole family. Perhaps even... the last of my kind?”] She bit her lip in thought and palmed her face with a groan. [#B22222 “The Vampire called me a rare delicacy. It’s weird to think of yourself as food. I don’t think hiding is an option for me, I’d drive myself crazy. I plan to arm myself, even if I have to carve my own stake. You said all options were available to me earlier... did that mean you were offering to help me?”] she asked looking at him hopefully. She wouldn’t have shown it to Dahlia, but there was fear in her eyes.
From the couch Kael glanced over to Eris as she got up. It was definitely odd that Dahlia felt the need for a proof read for something this simple, but he kept his mouth firmly shut. He was content to watch them from where he sat, although he kept it low key.
Dahlia was always so impressed with how effortless Eris seemed to make things like this. She would have never thought to code it in such a way. And while she hadn’t really wanted to use social media, the longhaired woman didn’t have her friend’s email memorized. Luckily Eris was sharp with that sort of thing as well.
Letting the other woman do as she wished with the message, Dahlia sat back and watched. Nodding when appropriate. When all was said and done, she took a few moments to add a few extra details that might put Ross at ease, and then sent the thing off. Now there would be one less thing for her to worry over, well, that was if Ross actually took their advice. She hoped he would, so they would all be able to laugh at this one day in the future.
Even with how long the process was taking, Kael still didn’t make a move. There was inkling that the pair wasn’t up to exactly what they said they were. He’d be a fool to think they were, but after all this he at least trusted Eris well enough not to endanger them all with a useless call for help to their mortal contacts. And so he continued to stay put. Cornelius on the other hand must not have had the same faith. The brunette shifted to stand from his seat, but Kael caught his arm and kept him planted firmly in the cushion. Shooting him a look that said to keep still, miraculously he listened but he didn’t look too thrilled about it.
With that all out of the way, Dahlia was finished with the computer, but she wasn’t really sure what to do with herself. Then came Eris right on queue asking if she wanted to check on the demon in the other room. She nodded enthusiastically, the curiosity from earlier re-bubbling up inside of her.
Entering the room, nearly all the supernatural aspects were lost on her. The only exceptions being Gaius and Eris themselves. Instead her focus was drawn to the man on the bed. He didn’t seem to be back to one hundred percent, minor things seemed off including all the painful looking wounds that still marred his Adonis like body, which in and of itself was attention grabbing. It was a far cry from him being stark naked like a short while before, but it still made her nervous to stare at him too much.
Eris was swift to action. He must not have made her half as nervous as he made Dahlia because the Maenad didn’t hesitate to reach out and touch Gaius. There was a pause; her friend was concentrating for the duration of it. Meanwhile, Dahlia’s stomach was in knots. She very much wanted this to work. Both because she’d like to see Eris get a better understanding of herself and abilities, and she wanted the wrath demon to be better again. About when this longing hit its peak something happened. She wasn’t entirely sure what, but Gaius was up and he was on edge.
When he lurched forward she just about jumped out of her skin. Eris was a thousand times worse off than her being as he had ahold of her. [b “Where is she?”] It was a moment before his eyes locked with hers and he calmed down. Apparently Dahlia was the she he was looking for. It was an odd realization; one that she wondered meant what she thought it might. There was too much lore nonsense mixed in for her to be sure of anything.
The dark eyed woman followed along as the others spoke. Eris was showing genuine concern for the golden-eyed demon, trying to make him feel better by making light of everything that happened. A gesture that only went so far, as it looked like there was something that was still bothering Gaius. In the end the taller woman excused herself to go and fetch a snack for the man. It was just the two of them left.
There was almost no pause before Gaius began trying to explain himself apologetically. She didn’t know how to respond to any of this. He was scary, or at least he had been, and it was wild to think he was literally wrath incarnate. To top it all off, he seemed to think she was special… but compared to everyone else that really wasn’t the case, nor did she want it to be. It was tempting to brush it off, and try to make a joke like Eris had, but it wasn’t a skill that she had. Instead she was left with honesty.
[b “Sure, it was frightening, but so is everything else I’ve seen these past few days.”] Dahlia looked to the silver haired demon, but his brilliant golden eyes were elsewhere. Fixated with his hand it seemed. She had the urge to place her own hand atop of it, much like she had done before, but she fought it off. [b “Honestly, after everything I’m more confused than anything else… you just seemed so sad.”] Her final words faded off as she recalled the heart wrenching call from earlier that night. That seemed the perfect preamble to lead into her questions about what was going on, but she’d lost her determination. She was too anxious to ask outright. Instead the woman chose to try and clear up what was something of a misunderstanding. [b “And I’m not special. That’s a word for people who are outstanding, like you or Eris. I am just your average human being.”] With the matter of fact tone she took, it was clear that she wasn’t intending to self-depreciating.
It wasn’t long after the girls left that Cornelius tried to get up again. Kael didn’t hold him back this time. The older Neu brother disappeared back to the room, there was nothing more for him out in the common area and the book he’d been reading before he had to go bail his brother out was calling him. The man passed the door to Gaius’ room and could feel a shifting of energies. While a tad curious to know if Eris could pull of drawing the sin demon from his slumber, it wasn’t enough to halt his stride.
Kael on the other hand stayed put. Alone, it was silent. He recalled the tranquil feeling from a few moments prior and tried to get back to that state on his own. It took a bit but eventually he got as close as he could. Eyes closed with head pressed comfortably back onto the sofa he pondered if there was anything left for them in Los Angeles. He wouldn’t be too terribly sad to part with this place if that were the case. In the midst of this thought he heard the door down the hall, accompanied by light footfall. It was Eris. Opening his eyes once more he finally noticed the change in status in the other room. He found it surprising both that she managed to rouse Gaius and that Eris was willing to leave him alone with Dahlia for any length of time.
[b “I’m impressed.”] He called to her as she made her way to the fridge. [b “You’re a natural with those abilities of yours. I would have guessed it would take you much longer to get a knack for it.”] It was a sincere compliment. Even children who grew up with a clear idea of what they were capable of took time to actually harness their powers. It was probably for the best, the sooner she could get a grip on all this the better a chance at survival Eris had. Her future might be brighter than he originally thought.
Eris took it all in. Her options were limited, her family either hid the truth from her, or they didn’t know themselves; but at least Dahlia was still at her side. She held no judgement towards her, and Eris was pleased in the concrete knowledge that her best friend was her bestie for a reason.
Eris continued to just sit and stare off into space, however she was deep in thought, processing everything she just learned from Cornelius and Kael. She wanted to do her own research but knew that would have to wait. There was still her story to write, the player behind the coup she was curious to unveil, and maybe once that was taken care of she could return to Greece and begin her self discovery. She wondered if Dahlia would like a vacation on the Grecian Islands, because Eris didn’t really want to go by herself.
She felt the smooth scales of Eve moving up along her arm until she felt the slithering sensation across the nape of her neck. Eve had come around to hang over her shoulders lazily, stealing the warmth off the back of her neck, and rested her head on Eris’ collarbone. She glanced down at the snake before realizing that both Kael and Cornelius were acting similar and relaxing near her. For some reason that irritated her. She looked to her side and saw Kael was one side and his brother on the other. A part of her wanted to shove them both off the sofa, and remind them that whatever aura or energy she put off was not for free. Then she had to remind herself that they were helping her and Dahlia from certain death. She supposed if anyone was going to benefit from her lame battery powers it might as well be the person who was helping her.
It was quiet with both brothers sitting in content silence, Gaius incapacitated in the back room, and Dahlia on the computer tip tapping away. It was enough to rouse Kael from his relaxed state. He was accusing of what she was doing, but Dahlia was quick with the response. Eris wasn’t fooled, she knew Dahlia only did private photoshoots for a handful of reasons, and her book wasn’t that busy with it being winter in New York. Eris kept her smirk to herself as Kael relented and Dahlia called her over to proofread. On the screen was the familiar screen on a Facebook and she read over the message with a frown. She was contacting Ross.
[#B22222 “You don’t sound stupid in this. Though I wouldn’t use Facebook…”] she glanced at Dahlia and reached for the keyboard to type out her own bit she couldn’t say allowed.
-Knowing Ross this will only encourage him. He might not think it’s actually us? Let’s try this and send it from a spoof email account?-
She highlighted a section of the message Dahlia wrote and quickly edited it to read:
[fb Message to Ross][I Ross, this message is to inform you that Frodo and Sam are safe. They made it out of The Shire with some friends. Things are more complicated than ever imagined. It’s not something the law can touch, and any extra meddling will be found out by those who are conspiring against us. Please, don’t push any farther than you already have. We will be in touch… remember that not all who wander are lost.]
She purposefully used Lord of the Rings references knowing that Ross was a huge fan, and would pick up that Dahlia and Eris had in fact written the message in hopes of concealing who and where they were. Especially since it would be coming from a spoof email account. Eris suggested using their first initials and their apartment number to also be another clue for him. DE515@email was made and used to send their message. It was only a matter of hoping that he figured it out and they didn’t reveal too much themselves. They had to avoid using their own names. They had to avoid mainstream social media. Dahlia and Eris were good as snooping out people who didn’t want to be found, that they’d learned a few tricks to not being found themselves. She typed an extra line to Dahlia so she wouldn’t have to say it aloud.
-If we let him believe we will be sending more information, he might be more inclined to let the information come to him instead of seeking it out. This way we save him from becoming “chosen”-
Eris glanced back to Kael and Cornelius to see if they were watching them, and was pleased to see they weren’t. She stood back to let Dahlia embellish the message a bit more if she desired to, and when it was sent Eris looked down the hallway to see that Gaius’ door was still closed. That was when an idea struck her. Cornelius had said she was like a battery, or conduit of energy. Perhaps she could use that energy to help Gaius?
[#B22222 “Want to go check on Gaius with me? See if he needs anything?”] she asked curiously. When Dahlia agreed she grinned and the two made their way back before Kael or Cornelius could try and dissuade them or stop them.
Gaius was still asleep on the bed. His shoes had been removed, and his chest was bare, which showed off his impressive figure. The bruises, burns, blisters, and cuts had already healed a great deal, and Gaius seemed for all the world asleep. Eris however was noticing something strange. Once she might have simply felt the dark aura in the room, but now she saw it, like liquid smoke or ink in water a dark cloud of black, greys, and silver leaked off of him to the floor and up the walls. It left the room oddly cold, and under the skin of his chest they could see the faint glow of his enflamed heart. His skin was still red and his fangs still curled out from behind his lips, with his horns a bit larger than normal, but Eris supposed that had to do with all the residual power still coursing through him. Even stranger was how the miasma of darkness seemed to curl away from Dahlia as she got closer to him. Eris walked through it, feeling its tendrils sweep against her ankles. Dahlia clearly didn’t see what Eris was seeing, and she had to rub her eyes to make sure it was real… it was.
Nervously Eris glanced at Dahlia and held up a hand. [#B22222 “I’m supposed to be a battery right? Maybe I can use it to help Gaius? Or is this going to be a bad idea?”] she murmured looking around, and not mentioning the aura she was seeing around him. It was palpable and strong, and left Eris feeling dry mouthed and frightened. He had been called a Cardinal of hell, admitted his father was THE Satan, which meant Lucifer was what? His Grandfather? Wouldn’t that mean Gaius was in a sense, Hell Royalty? He wasn’t just a run of the mill sin demon, he was THE Demon of Wrath. No doubt he wouldn’t be in a good mood when he woke up, but after all he’d done to help Eris and especially Dahlia, Eris was prepared to face the backlash… she hoped. Dahlia seemed to give her the green light, and Eris tried to focus the energy she had collected at the Malumortis meeting and lightly placed her hand in the center of Gaius’ chest.
At first it seemed as if nothing was happening, that it wasn’t working. Eris was blindly attempting to learn new things about herself, but she could sense Dahlia willing it to work as well, and before Eris realized it she was pulling energy from Dahlia, and for the briefest of moments felt a complete connection with her as if she was a physical part of Eris. It was fleeting for as soon as Dahlia’s will struck Eris, and she channeled her own will, the spark of energy transferred from Eris to Gaius. It was small and unimpressive. Dahlia most likely didn’t see anything from it, but Eris could see her arm glowing with an aura of prismatic pastel rainbow like colors that swirled down into Gaius. She felt a single thump of his heart beating and Gaius sucked in breath, his back bowing off the bed. His claws dug into the bedding, ripping and puncturing holes before his eyes snapped open. They were glowing that dangerous molten lava color, and right before Eris and DAhlia’s eyes they watched as her dose of energy seemed to heal Gaius in rapid form.
He was heaving for breath and looked beyond confused, his eyes glued to Eris, who’s hand he took off of his chest and held firm.
[#DAA520 “Where is she?”] He growled his voice still demonic and grating. Eris quickly turned her head to look at Dahlia, and his gaze followed. Instantly his hand released Eris and his gaze simmered back to their general gold feline shade. He stared at Dahlia a moment longer before looking away, almost as if he was ashamed. To Eris she saw a look of fear, relief, embarrassment, and anger. Eris could almost sense it too, it was coming from him, a desire, hunger, longing… he couldn’t possibly be falling for Dahlia? She was human! Wouldn’t he kill her?!
[#B22222 “You going to be alright?”] Eris dared to ask. Gaius only shook his head, but didn’t look at them.
[#DAA520 “Yes, I… I’m sorry if I frightened you both.”]
[#B22222 “Yeah man, you’re fucking scary… but it was kinda cool. I mean, it’s not everyday you get to hang out and tear shit up with a Wrath Demon -I’m sorry, THE Wrath Demon. It’s like hanging out with a celebrity,”] Eris said trying to lift Gaius’ mood. He frowned at her and then looked to Dahlia, hoping for confirmation -though he doubted he’d get it from her.
[#DAA520 “Right…”] he murmured, still embarrassed. Eris sighed then and asked if he wanted anything. His answer was simple. He was hungry and wanted strawberries. ERis nodded and glanced between the two of them before stepping out of the room saying she’d be back in a short.
Gaius was quiet for only a moment. He didn’t want to waste a moment with Dahlia in explaining himself.
[#DAA520 “I hope I didn’t scare you too much. I… I only lost control and changed because… because I am Wrath, and it is my nature. You were also in danger and I… I wanted to protect you. You’re special, Dahlia.”] He swallowed tensely, the muscle in his jaw ticking as he glared down at his clawed hands. Hands that wanted to reach out and touch her, even a simple caress of her cheek. Just to assure himself she was truly there and safe, but he was a monster, he knew that, and no way would she want him to touch her.
Kael let his brother take the reigns with the explanation. Although, knowing a bit about how Eris grew up from their time together, he didn’t doubt she had a well of knowledge of her own. Listening to Cornelius, it was clear that he had essentially dropped the façade of pleasantries; probably because he now knew Eris wasn’t human. His words were straight to the point, although it was a little unexpected since Dahlia was still around.
At some point during the conversation Eve slithered her way up to Eris from her makeshift nest in the corner. The reptile wasn’t the only one feeling the change in Eris’ presence. It wasn’t overpowering, that being that he could get up and walk away at any time, but the aura she was putting off was somewhat intoxicating and he didn’t want to. Honestly, Kael wouldn’t mind just sitting around and basking in it, which was probably why Maenads were so adept at handling snakes. A dangerous tool if Eris ever got around to figuring out how to use it properly. He made a mental note not to get on her bad side, just in case.
The mention of vampires put him in a sour mood. This was his first time ever seeing this sort of nymph thanks to them. They couldn’t keep their grubby hands off of anything, and now simple pleasures such as this were off the table for just about everyone.
Cornelius was just about done with his analogy when the shorthaired woman asked about keeping herself. His response in turn wasn’t exactly helpful. Letting an exasperated sound out of his nose, Kael quickly punched his brother in the arm. [b “Don’t be a dick.”] He turned to the rightly worried woman and apologized. [b Sorry.”] Kael wore a genuine look of repentance.
[b “The best way to keep safe is to keep out of sight.”] That meant going into hiding, probably exactly what her family back home was already doing. [b “The next thing would be to keep company that is willing and able to take out the leeches… then lastly, as Cornelius suggested, arming yourself.”] He for one wouldn’t mind volunteering for the second choice, but Kael opted to be less direct with that fact. [b “Any of these options are currently available to you.”] There was a glint in his eye as he spoke, betraying his intention to keep her from harm’s way. A look that did not go unnoticed by Cornelius, who could only sigh.
Not keen on rushing her, the bespectacled man continued. [b “If I were you, I’d think on it some more though. There is no rush at the moment.”] Now was a time for recuperation. There was no need for Eris to stress herself out over it for now. They could all take some time to clear their minds before they moved on to whatever was next.
Through all of this, Dahlia felt very, very far away. Out of nowhere she seemed to be the only mortal caught up in this. Of course that wasn’t something she would ever blame her friend for, but it was isolating. She noticed Eris’ guilty looks she was sending her way. Unable to ignore that, she shook her head, indicating she didn’t feel any of this was her friend’s fault. The dark eyed woman let her hand rest on Eris’ for the time being. It was a comforting gesture, but also helped to ground her as she listened intently to what the Neu brothers were explaining. All the while hoping this wouldn’t be something to separate the two of them when they were finally free of this mess.
The conversation wrapped itself up and no one seemed to move. It felt odd. Usually Kael was in a rush to be rid of Cornelius’ company. However this time Dahlia was the first to move. She went to the computer. Eris had mentioned having some time there before, so she figured it wouldn’t raise too much suspicion if she did as well. On a mission she immediately went to Facebook. She had a list of people to get ahold of.
Taking his own advice to take this time to relax, Kael sat back and took in the lovely air Eris radiated. It appeared as though Cornelius wasn’t passing up on the chance either. The two of them sat quiet and content on the soft sofa. Between the comfort of home and Eris, he was able to let everything blend into the background. For the first time in what felt like eons Kael felt optimistic, like things might turn out all right.
Opening his eyes at the clicking of the keyboard, the green haired man was pulled to the familiar blue color on the monitor in front of Dahlia. [b “What do you think you’re doing?”] The question came out accusatory; as he couldn’t think of a single thing she could be doing on social media that wasn’t going to compromise them.
While the petite woman had hoped to avoid any attention on what she was up to, she did have an excuse at the ready. [b “I’m getting in touch with my clients. I need to let them know that I won’t be able to meet up for our appointments. I was planning on telling them that I’m out of town due to a family emergency and point them to other photographers. That alright with you?”] Turning in the chair, she shot Kael a look that let him know she didn’t appreciate his previous tone, and to tread lightly going forward.
Not particularly in the mood to get into it, the red-eyed man stood down. [b “Fine, just keep it vague.”]
[b “Will do.”] With suspicion off her for the most part, Dahlia got to work. It took almost no time to write up an apology. She kept it up as a front before getting onto her real objective. Getting ahold of Ross.
[FB Message to Ross] [I Ross, this is Dahlia. Eris and I are safe. We made it out of NYC with some friends. Things are more complicated than we ever imagined. It’s not something NYPD can touch, and I fear any extra meddling will worsen our situation. Please, don’t push any farther than you already have. We will explain when we see you next. Thank you, and I’m sorry.]
Dahlia read over the message a few times, not sure if there was anything else they needed to get across to keep him safe. Turning back toward her friend, she called her over. [b “Eris, you’re the writer, can you come proof read this for me? I don’t want to look stupid because I missed a spelling mistake or something.”] She would let the maenad go over it and add her piece if needed before she sent out all the messages.
Eris had clearly hit a button, but she admired that Kael was man enough to know when he needed help, or when another person was right. She helped him set Gaius down as he made the call to his brother. Every once in a while as they waited Gaius would mumble something nearly incoherent, but enough Eris could make out he was speaking Latin. It was still jibberish, and Eris wasn’t the only one concerned about what had happened with Gaius, Dahlia looked concerned too. Kael did as well, but Eris suspected for different reasons.
She kept her concerns to herself. Gaius’ transformation, the words of Conrad, Max’s shady personality, the cultist following the Malumortis had all flooded her mind. She knew it was dangerous to get stuck in her own mind, so she was actually glad there were more pressing issues at hand. Luckily, Cornelius showed up rather quickly and was able to pick them up. Between Kael and his brother, they managed to get Gaius dressed and carried him to a car. Cornelius had charmed some poor woman into driving him and the rest of them around, but it mattered not. She was compensated and they were able to get back to the hideout safely.
Dahlia was hovering around Gaius even after they arrived and laid him down in his bed. His skin was still blistered red and raw, but there was no doubt he’d wake up fine and able to explain to them what the Hell had happened. That allowed for things to migrate back into the living room where Cornelius made a strange comment in regards to Eris.
[b “So do we know what brought out the change in her?”] Eris’ brow furrowed. In her? What could possibly be different about her? Eris was the first to admit she was definitely quirky, but not entirely abnormal. Kael wasn’t sure what caused the change, but he admitted one had happened, but it’s cause was a mystery. Eris was willing to wager it was all of it. No way could she return to her old life the same person…not after all she’d seen and learned since they crossed that stupid medallion. Dahlia was less inclined to believe the men, calling them out on it, but what Kael said next had Eris going cold.
[b “Yes, I’m quite certain she is a maenad.” ]
The room went quiet and all eyes were on Eris, she knew this because she could feel them on her. Their eyes felt like a thousand little insects crawling on her skin, but her arms were crossed and her head down in contemplation. She also didn’t want them to see how she was trying to process all of it, and hiding that her face carried more realization than fear. She was Greek, grew up on grecian islands and ate plenty of lamb meat, as well as hear plenty of superstitions and mythology. Maenads were not an uncommon facet of her childhood bedtime stories… now she knew why, and so much about the family she had tried to cut ties with was finally making sense. Her mother had been the only sane one who tried to keep Eris away from her aunts and other family members who were devout to the old ways. Especially Uncle Dion, who had always been super creepy to Eris as a child. Perhaps Eris had always known, deep down, and that was why she wasn’t so freaked out as she expected one might be when they learn they’re not entirely human. Another idea would be that Eris just didn’t know how to process that, and might possibly be in denial. Eris certainly didn’t want to entertain the thought that she wasn’t any different from Kael or Gaius. She wanted to be normal, always had… even if she always knew she wasn’t.
[#B22222 “I know what a Maenad is. I grew up in Greece, I have family that honors the old pagan ways… I…”] she sighed not sure what to keep saying, but not entirely shutting the idea down either. Too much weird stuff had been happening as of late for her to dispute it too much. Her strange obsession with the Medallion, going to raves and bars filled to the brim with lots of energy, her uncanny strength when she needed it, and her ability to simply sense things. Not to mention the Vampire Conrad had called her a rare delicacy. The real question was: [#B22222 “I have no idea how I could even be a Maenad… I just don’t understand… my family… they, they would have told me… right?”] she asked more herself than the others. Either way, she hated to admit she had a need to call her family now, specifically her Aunt and get answers. It was something she highly doubted Kael, Gaius, or even Cornelius would recommend or allow. She groaned and dropped her head down into her hands. She blamed herself inwardly, angry that this was somehow her fault, and finally sat back up and looked at the two brothers across from her. [#B22222 “So I know what a Maenad is, but what is it in your world?”] She asked. Cornelius had the answer for her, and explained it simply.
[b “You know Maenads worshipped one particular deity in Greek Mythology, that their energy and power was derived from their God. Well, when Maenads were prevalent they did worship Dionysus. Druids are not so different from the Maenad, and are considered cousins if my Lore history is still right. You’re a conduit for paranormal energy. Your kind uses rituals and humans to fuel them with the energy needed to feed to their God, or… any Paranormal that can accept the power you have. You can use the power you create too, but it’s severely limited to what your body can handle. You’re still rather fragile, and certainly not immortal, but you could make particular Immortals, demons, angels, or even vampires very strong.”]
That was comforting, and Conrad’s words made perfect sense now. It was haunting.
Cornelius turned then towards Kael as if intriqued. [b “Perhaps that explains the Vampire that tried to attack you and Eris when you were leaving Zenya’s Hostel.”] he glanced back at Eris who clearly wasn’t liking what she was hearing, and asked her if she’d been feeling strange lately. Eris had to confess, she’d been feeling rather peaked since they brought the Medallion to their apartment.
[#B22222 “Honestly? I’ve always felt something deep within me, but it’s been… manifesting and growing since we came across this.”] She dropped the medallion from her pocket and to the coffee table. For now she was going to blame the medallion for starting her change. [#B22222 “So I’m like a battery?”] she finally asked and Cornelius shook his head
[b “Try to imagine you’re like fuel. Premium, High-grade Octane fuel, that has addictive properties like a shot of coccaine to the brain. That’s you just on your own. Put you in a crowded room full of raving humans? You might as well be rocket fuel, or nuclear energy. I should also tell you, that your kind was hunted to near extinction… because of Vampires.”] Eris felt her mouth going dry.
[#B22222 “Great, so aside from the million other questions I have, how the Hell am I going to protect myself from Vampires?”]
[b “Try keeping a wooden stake on you,”] Cornelius shrugged. Eris frowned and looked over to Dahlia, feeling like she should apologize for this mess, and hating more than ever that she dragged them into this.
Every move Gaius made seemed to be deliberate. He came down to her level slowly, offering his hand at the same pace. After that he didn’t move. Dahlia watched as a flame danced across his palm, becoming smaller and smaller as it did. No sooner than it extinguish did it look as though his ebony hand start to cool, cracking. She stared at it, thinking demons were strange. Then the chuffing began and it was clearer what he wanted. As docile as he was acting, the onyx-eyed woman was still hesitant to touch him. Only moments ago his palm had been on fire. But soon enough she extended her hand, placing it lightly in his.
Immediately Gaius recoiled back and she thought she’d done something wrong. The feeling intensified when he screamed. Before she knew it he was back to how he looked when they first met… well mostly, he was wearing a lot less now. The man before her was battered and bruised, but at least the terrible burns from before were gone. So there was a little bit of a silver lining. All in all she was confused by the entire encounter.
Eris jumped into her line of view, hugging her, before she took her eyes from the wrath demon. It pulled her back to the real world and the fact that she probably should be looking when they go to haul Gaius off the ground. Instead she turned to the green haired man. [b “Hey, Kael, do you know what’s going on? Like, what just happened?”]
Being busy afforded the snake demon a chance to avoid Dahlia’s gaze. [b “I’ve got a good idea…”] He didn’t want to freak her out and make it seem like this whole thing was a mystery. [b “But it’s really something Gaius should talk to you about. For now it’s fine, so don’t worry too much.”] They had bigger things to worry about, like getting the hell out of dodge.
Once Gaius was fully situated in a way that Kael wouldn’t drop him, the snake was quick to focus on leaving, lest his brain linger on the nudity aspect of this rather awkward situation. They were a fair distance away before Eris dropped her idea.
[b "… Maybe we should call your brother to come pick us up?”]
Looking over to the maenad, he made a face of disgust. Before he had a chance to rebuttal, they had to duck down to avoid the view of a couple of police cruisers and other emergency vehicles whizzing by. A line of reminders that Eris was right on this, even if he really didn’t want her to be.
When she brought it up again, he couldn’t think of even a half decent excuse not to call. It was raining, cops were crawling all over the scene, and they had no idea if anyone from the Malumortis was coming after them for releasing their haul of humans. Sighing through his nose, he conceded. [b "Alright. Let’s find somewhere to stop for now.”]
They went a little farther before finding a small alcove of shadows were they would be out of sight of any potential onlookers. With some help Kael set Gaius back down and covered him with his over shirt. This would give him a modicum of decency for the moment. Then he was free to retrieve his phone and call the landline in the safe house. The line only rang twice before he heard Cornelius’ voice.
[b “Hey… things got a little out of hand.”]
There was shouting on the other end. Kael held the receiver away from his head for a moment before going on. [b “You done now? We all made it out relatively fine, but the situations a little difficult. I’d appreciate it if you came out and helped us get back.”] There was quiet for a moment. The younger of the brothers waited for a positive answer. When he got it he continued. [b “Thanks, also, bring a change of clothes for Gaius… yes, an entire outfit… It’s hard to explain, you’ll see when you get here.”] The conversation went on like that for a bit, Kael relayed their location relative to the house and finally he hung up. [b “He should be here in a bit.”]
It was less than fifteen minutes before Cornelius arrived. He had a black ensemble in hand and a smile on his face. Kael raised a brow at him. [b “What has you in such a good mood?”]
[b “You’re finally smart enough to call for help when you need it. This is a beg step for you.”] The smile that had once been joyful turned to one of pride.
[b “Don’t get ahead of yourself, this wasn’t my idea.”] Kael motioned over to Eris and his brother shrugged.
[b “Then, thank you, I suppose. It seems there’s finally someone who can talk some sense into him.”] As his red eyes fell on Eris, he blinked. [b “… Is that a glamor?”] He vaguely remembered it not working last night and was understandably befuddled.
[b “No, but we can try and explain that later. Right now we need to deal with this.”] This being Gaius.
Cornelius hummed, pleasantly surprised by this turn of events, but it didn’t take long for him to do a one eighty. Before he could inquire further, Kael jumped in again. [b “When we get back, we need to hurry.”]
The two made a collaborative effort to get some clothes on the mildly singed wrath demon. When the task was done a collective sense of relief washed over the group. It was time to figure out their next move, however Cornelius was two steps ahead of the curve. [b “Alright, the car is around the corner.”]
Looking at the brunette as though he had two heads, Kael was fairly certain of two things. One, his brother had been so waist deep in bureaucracy that he probably had no idea what Uber was, and two, he couldn’t drive for the same reason. How in the hell did he get a car here? When he saw a mortal in the front seat, he was colored impressed that Cornelius might have gotten ahold of some sort of taxi service. But the second he got closer it was clear that wasn’t the case. He just spellbound some poor soul into driving him around. Groaning, Kael wasn’t overly mad at the tactic, just that he hadn’t thought of it. With this he wouldn’t have needed to call his brother at all. Honestly, he would do well to remember his natural born talents every once in a blue moon.
The five of them were back at the house with minimal effort after that. Kael also left some cash in the woman’s car. It didn’t really make up for overriding her will, but it should have covered the gas expense. From there Cornelius got the door and Kael was able to carry Gaius back to his bed. Dahlia seemed to hover around. She wanted answers, but wasn’t willing to push for them. Instead she joined the others in the living area where Kael was giving the obligatory, and somewhat edited, run down of the nights events. It didn’t take long for the conversation to turn toward Eris.
[b “So do we know what brought out the change in her?”]
Kael shook his head. [b “Not definitively. It could have been the atmosphere, or the danger, or maybe even a final effect of something that glamor started.”]
Dahlia was having a hard time following what they were saying, she knew what it sounded like but she couldn’t believe it. [b “Are you two really suggesting that Eris isn’t human?”] For goodness sake, nothing had changed. She looked like the same old friend she’d know for years.
Kael was the one to answer. [b “Yes, I’m quite certain she is a maenad.”] He looked to the woman herself, hopeful that this wasn’t too much to process all at once.
Gaius didn’t blame her for not coming near him. He knew what he must have looked like to her in his natural form. It pained him deeply, and at one point made his rage turn inward towards himself that he roared at the trees. Which made it all the more surprising when he saw the gleaming aura of light moving towards him in the dark shadows of night. He stilled, long knobby hands curled into fight fists as he waited for her. He finally saw her spy him from the trees. He remained unmoving, knowing best not to frighten her. He treated her like prey, luring her out under the guise of safety.
It seemed like an eternity before she finally walked out towards him. She stood just beyond his reach and stared up at him. His glowing orbs stared right back waiting for the moment he could let her know he meant her no harm. It came with her question, and of all things she asked if he was okay. What a foolishly sweet mortal. He slowly fell to his knees one at a time to be closer to her height, and slowly extended one closed hand towards her. It didn’t reach her, but came close. When she seemed comfortable with his hand there, he began to unfurl it. Inside his palm the spark of a fire burned, but quickly extinguished. The skin blackened and hardened like the surface of cooled lava, and his long black claws stained with blood and the charred flesh of his victims nearly caressed her cheek. His hand was large enough to wrap around her head and crush it like a sugar cube.
His body language had to speak for him, and he wanted her to place her hand in his. Even he could hear the sirens in the distance growing closer, he knew time was of the essence, and he didn’t have the time to bring himself down to change back to his more human form. He believed her touch could do it... the touch of his Female Fatal. He huffed at her with encouragement to touch his hand. All it took was a simple touch of her palm to his and Gaius began to shrink away from Dahlia before he burst into flame with an agonized shriek, and shrunk down to his human form. When the fire cleared he was laid face first in the pavement and naked with bruises all over his body and the blood of his victims painted his flesh.
Eris and Kael saw that as their cue to rush over. It was hard to explain what had just happened, and harder to understand how Dahlia could have made Gaius change back so quickly. Eris wasn’t in a hurry to ask questions, she was just happy to see Dahlia alright, and glad they would be leaving this place together. She rushed her friend and hugged her tightly.
[#B22222 “Thank God you’re okay! Let’s get the Hell out of here!”] Eris turned then and helped Kael get Gaius up off the ground. Once she was sure Kael had him, she stepped back to stand by Dahlia. [#B22222 “Not the first time we’ve run from the cops, don’t suppose it’s going to be our last either.”] Eris tried to joke, and it wasn’t a lie... Dahlia and Eris had stuck their noses in restricted places plenty of enough times, that they weren’t half bad at running from cops.
They kept off sidewalks and main roads. Only going onto streets in the need of crossing them. It wasn’t like they could just walk down the street with an unconscious naked man. Eris knew she was probably going to get death’s glare for this, but she turned to Kael while they hid in the bushes checking the coast was clear to cross the street. They weren’t anywhere close to the safe house, and traveling with Gaius was going to be difficult. It had to be done.
[#B22222 “Kael? I know you’re not going to like this, but... maybe we should call your brother to come pick us up?”] Eris could already tell she’d pushed a button, and quickly raised her hands in surrender. With the low light it was hard to tell if what she was sensing from him was irritation, or displeasure. [#B22222 “Just an idea-duck!”] They quickly ducked low as cop cars went flying past followed by two fire trucks towards the warehouse. They remained low until the coast was clear and Eris looked over at Kael. [#B22222 “Either we continue to haul Gaius naked through the shadows, or we call your brother and stay low until he can pick us up.”]
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