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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.”]
Honestly, Kael kind of expected to be yelled at for his comment, even though it was playful. So when he was pulled into a tight embrace, he was more than a little caught off guard. His face heated up, and while he wasn’t sure if it was visibly red, he wrapped his arms around her as well to keep her in place so she wouldn’t see. With that time, he noted the change in her aura. It was similar to before, but kicked into overdrive. Something at the party must have released it. Kael wasn’t sure if it was the intoxicated atmosphere or the danger she had been in, but it was now plainly obvious she wasn’t human by any measure.
The hot feeling on cheeks faded quickly and he was soon comfortable loosening his grip on the woman. However it was all for not when the booming explosion went off behind them. As far off as they were, debris still came floating down at them. It took little effort to dodge, but it was concerning all the same. Immediately the nymph switched to worrying over Dahlia.
[b “No, no, I got her out. She’s fine.”] He doubted whatever went off had a radius big enough to hurl anything dangerous into the cover of the trees. Kael was confident in his answer to her, but they took off in that direction all the same. Partly out of concern and partly because of the sirens in the distance. They all needed to get as far away from the scene as possible. The urge to pick Eris up and run back to safety was there, but he pushed it down as they rushed back to what was left of the building.
On the way he listened to what the newfound maenad was saying, Kael shook his head. [b “That’s perfect, the more names we have the better idea we can get about their network. It’s a hell of a lot more than I thought we’d get after our cover was blown... Thanks.”] His words and smile were heartfelt as he assured her she’d done fine. When she mentioned not wanting to do this again, he nearly laughed. If he had anything to say about it, she wouldn’t be going within a hundred yards of the Malumortis again. One close call was enough, and while he knew it was impractical to think he could keep her out of any and all dangerous situations, at the very least they would be avoiding strange Craig’s listings from now on.
Not running at full speed, it took longer to get back to the site then to get away from it. But the closer they came the building the less of it there was. The fire had consumed just about everything, what little was left would be rendered to ash soon enough.
As if Gaius’ massive presence wasn’t enough to point them in the direction he’d gone, there were also smoldering footprints leading up to the forest. Oh good, he was headed straight toward Dahlia. Kael was a little worried, but in the distance it appeared as though he had come to a halt where the pavement ended. Motioning that way, he kept Eris close to his side. There was a chance that Malumortis lackeys were still hiding out, although it looked as though Gaius had been rather thorough.
Coming up to his partner, Kael slowed their pace. The sound Gaius was making was unlike anything he’d ever heard. Sad and drawn out, but it cut short when they apparently got too close. He had no problem obliging the unrestrained wrath demon. He even put an arm out to stop Eris from going any farther.
Looking out to the woods, he could tell Dahlia was there. Just as she should be. After a moment of waiting, Kael spoke. [b “Let us go-“] His suggestion was cut short by another snarl, this one more critical than the last. Gaius didn’t want them to interfere, but Kael really didn’t believe that the human was going to respond to the call. A fact that only made the morose screeching all the sadder.
At his side, Eris looked confused as to what was happening. Kael didn’t have the heart to tell her. Instead he looked at the ground, hoping Gaius would come to his senses and they could leave this place before Los Angeles’ finest showed up.
It felt like forever before Dahlia felt the rumble of the explosion. The shake of the ground was accompanied by a loud bang, and the sound of stone sliding. With time, ash fell gently through the branches of the trees. In the pale moonlight, it almost looked like snow, but the smell of scorch betrayed it.
There was a break where she didn’t hear anything. The night was completely silent. Stillness such as this was unnatural and put her on edge, but what came out of it was even worse. A metallic cry calling for help, again for reasons unbeknownst to her, she knew it was Gaius. Her brain, and every shred of logic it held, was telling her that he was too dangerous in that form. But the rest of her was being pulled to it. After all, it sounded like he was in pain. Perhaps there was something she could do to help?
Groaning, she pressed her palms tight to her ears, a futile attempt to keep the sound out. Still the cries carried on. They cut through her makeshift earplugs effortlessly. It was the third or fourth one before she stood and slowly started back the way she came. Her pace was little more than a crawl by the time she neared the edge of the woods. The glow of the flame within Gaius’ chest was visible from there. She stopped, half hidden behind a tree, to take a look at the situation. He stood, unmoving, but he didn’t look hurt. Was he just trying to lure more people out? It was pretty hard to ignore. Swallowing her fear, she stepped out. He didn’t attack her earlier, so maybe he wouldn’t now either. The thought let her come a little closer.
It wasn’t until then that she noticed Eris and Kael. Her apprehension was immediately uprooted and replaced by relief. Thank heavens he had gotten to her in time. They gave her the confidence to approach Gaius fully. She stopped just short of his reach, much like Kael had done earlier. Sure, she was less worried about being murdered, but he was still terrifying.
[b “Are you okay?”] It was hard to tell with him in this other form, but he didn’t look injured. Then why was he making that sound? She stared at him, a mild expression of concern on her features.
Eris was thrown into the van along with the others, but unlike the others who seemed to be easily herded like sheep and content to just go with the flow, Eris was the wolf waiting to strike. Her mind was already jumping to her plan of escape. There were two up front, a man and a woman whos job it was to operate and guard their van full of mortals. There were no windows, no way of opening the hatchback doors from the inside, and she was crammed in tightly with the others which would make it difficult to get out. For now she knew she had to bide her time until the right moment to get out. The van started up and she could heard the gears shifting into drive before she felt the lurch of the van as it started to drive away. Great… she was well and truly on her own now. She did her best to steady her own breathing and keep her mind from being her downfall when a heavy thud landed on the top of the van.
It caused everyone in the back of the van to gasp. All but Eris who felt a flare of excitement and hope. It had to be one of her boys. It gave her cause to smile, even as the van began to swerve and jerk from side to side. They suddenly hit something, or ran something over and Eris heard a loud bang and fight happening in the main cab of the van. She could feel the van was slowing down and finally came to a stop. They hadn’t gone far and when the back doors opened up, Eris was more than pleased to see Kael there. His appearance was disheveled no doubt from chasing the van down and taking control of it. He shouted at the other mortals to get out, go home, and to stay the hell away from occultist gatherings in the future, or risk being eaten for real. She didn’t care, she was so happy to see him she could have kissed him.
She was the last to jump down from the van and did so with Kael’s help. She could breathe with relief and refused to step too far away from him, one hand gripping his sleeve tightly.
[#B22222 “Damn, am I glad to see you!”] She exclaimed with a bright smile as the others ran off to safety.
[b “When did you become the damsel in distress type? You almost gave me a heart attack.”] Eris only laughed, happy to not be a vampire’s supper, and threw herself at his chest. Her arms wrapped tightly around him, thankful that he’d come to save her.
[#B22222 “I’m sorry! I’m sorry I couldn’t find out who their leader was, I was so close! I did get some names though-“] her words were cut off by the warehouse suddenly exploding as if a bomb had gone off inside. She ducked with Kael to shield themselves from falling flaming debris and looked back once they were clear of the falling sheet metal and warehouse lining. [#B22222 “Please tell me Dahlia wasn’t inside that building…”] She breathed moving to stand up and study the loading docks as they too were consumed by unnatural flames. Kael assured her he had gotten Dahlia out and Eris could breath better.
They weren’t out of the woods yet, sirens could be heard wailing and heading their direction. With a look to the other, they both knew they couldn’t be found here and needed to find Dahlia. As they hurried around the massive warehouse to where Kael had told Dahlia to go Eris informed him about the names she collected.
[#B22222 “I know it’s probably not much, but I did get some names and an idea of how they rank their leaders. It’s not just demons either, they’ve got at least one vampire. Fuck, I’m just glad to be out of that. I do NOT want to do that again.”]
Gaius had stepped from the flames, and saw the mortals flee from him. They should have run, he was on a killing spree. He moved with slow deliberate steps leaving a wake of death and destruction behind him. The only thing that stilled his path of destruction was the gleaming white aura he saw amidst the flames and the dulled auras of the humans and that of the underlings that came rushing in to try and take him down. He didn’t move so long as Dahlia was in the room. He hadn’t wanted her to see him this way, and sure enough by the way her aura flickered and moved -he had frightened her. She fell back from fear crashing into a glass table, and he smelled her blood mixing with the smoke of his flames. She was only down for a moment as she turned and bolted instantly. For a moment it seemed the terrifying demon was done with his destructive path, but the moment she cleared the area he felt a rain of bullets against his blackened body. He turned towards the collective group of underlings and their useless assault rifles. Roaring at them he bared his claws, the horns of his body and those that opened like a flower on his back, let the flames flare high and bright. His face finally opened to show his mouth. It opened up with rows of serrated teeth like that of a lamprey the back of his throat gleaming with fire.
The foolish underlings endeavored to shoot Gaius, and while they did some minor damage, such as irritating him further -they were ineffective. He reached out and grabbed the closest one in his large hand and without a care used his other hand to rip the man’s body in half. Blood sprayed out covering anything and everything in its path. Gaius didn’t bother to eat him, he simply engulfed the man’s body in flames, and tossed the two ends of his prey’s body at the group. Then he attacked them without mercy… He slashed and tore at them with his claws. He swiped at one of the men with such strength that he screamed as he flew through the air. His body smacking against a steel beam, killing him instantly. Gaius impaled the next with his hand, lifting him up and consuming him in a burst of flame, then for good measure threw him at another man. Gaius fed off their rage and their fear. It had been a while since Gaius last meal, that by the time he finished his slaughter he wasn’t going to need to eat for a while, and his human form would be healed -if not completely drained of energy.
Not wanting any evidence to be found, Gaius released one final bout of power in flames until it consumed even him and burst a hole through the warehouse ceiling. It was a massive explosion, and around him the building began to collapse. His rage wasn’t quite quelled even as he stepped out of the crumbling structure and saw the black SUVs rushing away to the highway to leave. He growled, smoke curling off of him as he relented and claimed his small victory -but this war had just begun, and he didn’t give a damn about how the Covenant would react to Gaius losing control. Gaius would exact his wrath against his brother and settle the feud between them once and for all.
Outside he could see Dahlia’s aura hiding in the trees. He knew he’d scared her, and rightfully so. He stomped out of the warehouse through a hole in the wall and towards the line of trees just past the crumbling parking lot. He huffed a growl as if calling to her -and though his thoughts were more animalistic and primal… something about her calmed him and kept him from harming her. He was aware of how he was...but changing back was difficult. He stopped at the edge of the parking lot, keeping off the grass. He made an inhuman groan like the grinding of metal to Dahlia. If one listened closely enough, it almost sounded like a wounded creature, one in pain, and in need of help.
From behind him he heard a set of feet skid to a stop and he turned to roar at them. By their auras they were not mortals. It only took a moment before he recognized Kael’s aura, but not the one beside him. He stilled his menacing roar to a warning growl and turned back to where Dahlia was hiding and made his inhuman call to her once more.
Parting with Gaius, Kael agreed that if they couldn’t avoid him losing his cool they might as well use it to their advantage. Playing the part of a shepherd to herd the mortals away from the destruction wasn’t going to be easy, but it was essentially what he signed on for when he joined the LPC. And so he didn’t mind. He rushed toward the front of the building, taking out any stray sentinels as he went. The more he disposed of now the less he’d have to worry about when the situation descended into madness.
At the entrance, the bouncer from the beginning of the night was still minding the entryway. Kael didn’t have time to deal with him before he ran into the main hall. Panic had set in already. All the lackeys converged, Kael could hear orders be shouted, but in the mess of everything he couldn’t make out the exact details. It was time to get started.
Removing the earing and shoving it in his back pocket, the snake demon punched one of the metal garage style doors on the side of the warehouse. Busting through he grabbed hold of it and peeled it from its place in the wall. One more exit for people to escape.
Now with a clear view of the inside, he snarled. The Malumortis had already begun to scatter, leaving the majority of the humans to fend for themselves. In the fray he had a hard time spotting either of the woman. There was a lot going on. Bringing his fingers to his lips, he whistled loudly. It was an earsplitting sound that grabbed the attention of most the attendants. They turned to the exit he made. Recognizing him as an inhuman entity many of them stopped to listen, they probably thought he was a member of their club. Definitely needed to clear that up.
[b “Listen up! Your leaders have abandoned you in the face of danger. This warehouse is under attack. You need to get out, try to be as orderly as possible.”] Despite his words of caution the horde threw itself straight back into a state of alarm. Most of them began to rush the exits, which he expected. It was the main reasons he created the gaping hole in the wall. When the swarm thinned he was finally able to spot Dahlia, alone. Not a good omen.
Rushing to her, he couldn’t contain the question that was buzzing inside of him. [b “Where’s Eris?”] Short and sweet, he watched her body language fall further as she explained that the other woman had been nabbed just as soon as the commotion started up.
Grabbing ahold of the tiny mortal, he rushed her to the exit, pushing through the others as he needed. Getting a little ways from the building he gave her clear instruction. [b “See that wooded area, go hide over there. I am going to get Eris, we’ll meet back there as soon as I have her. Gaius might have to meet up later.”] He wasn’t real specific about what was happening on that end, but she seemed to get it. So he left her there, sprinting off into the direction Dahlia had seen her friend taken.
He grew anxious; worried that the situation was worsening the longer Eris was out of his sight. Kael knew he needed to catch up to the kidnappers. Rounding the corner he caught sight of a multiple vehicles leaving the scene, but his sense of reasoning told him the mortals were in the van. That and his nose. There were several of them packed in there, it was hard to be sure Eris was as well, but it was his best shot.
Taking off in chase of the dark van, he kept his distance for a bit. He wanted to be out of sight of the other cars. There was no need for them to be able to get back up easily.
When he thought substantial enough time past, he ran up adjacent to the car. There were two guards in the front seats. Neither of them looked important. That meant there had been something back in the warehouse that was worth protecting more than a fistful of humans meant for dinner. He was worried about it, but not enough so to override his want to have Eris safe with him.
Taking out one of his guns, Kael had each move choreographed in his head. First he leapt effortlessly into the air and landed on the utility van with a light thump. The roof of the car bent under his weight. There was no doubt that they knew he was there, so he moved swiftly. Much like back at the warehouse, he forced his hand through metal. This time was much easier, as it was thin. It took almost no energy to rip the top like tin foil. The passenger seat was exposed as well as the woman in it. Aiming his weapon, Kael shot. A small device imbedded into the woman’s skin and released a strong but brief electroshock. Spasms shot though her, and she was rendered unconscious. From the back, fearful screams sounded out.
There was little the driver could do with a hand busy on the wheel. Using this to his advantage, Kael opened the passenger side door, and pulled the vampiric woman from the vehicle. Luckily she hadn’t belted herself in. It was easy to toss her. He took her place with a smile. Not about to take this sitting down, the driver reached over for Kael’s throat, but the dark green haired man had his wrist before he could get there. Wrenching it hard backwards there was a sickening snap followed by his scream. Taking this time to throw the car into neutral, they began to slow, which was good because the van began to jerk back and forth. The demon in control had relinquished the steering wheel.
Quickly using one hand to steady the vehicle, Kael used the other to grab the guy by his collar and forced him into the car door. The window gave way, safety glass shattering. That would have been the perfect opportunity to get him out too, but it was too tight to have a full rage of motion in here. So he had to keep him pinned until the car came to a stop. Once that came to pass, he was able to pull him out as well and knock him unconscious. Normally he wouldn’t mind killing him, but traumatizing this group of humans any further was not high on his priority list. That and he wouldn’t have time to dispose of bodies that might expose them to the bulk of humanity.
Taking a moment to breath, Kael was ready for this night to be over. It seemed like everything that could have gone wrong did. Hopefully this would be the last of the trouble they would see. Going to the back of the van he opened it. The people cowered, not understanding he was only there to help. Sighing he spotted Eris, at least he hadn’t been wrong there. [b “Alright, get out of the car.”] He would suggest they drive, but they all looked too inebriated for that to be safe. [b “You’re all free to go. They were definitely going to eat you, so stay away from this occult stuff from here on out.”] It was a halfhearted attempt at a life lesson. He also took note of the pendants around their necks. [b “Also, get those things off of you as soon as possible. You should be able to cut it with something made of iron or silver.”] Those were his final words directed at the group.
He turned to Eris and offered her his hand to help her with the tall step out of the van. Kael waited till they were out of earshot of the others before he spoke to her more directly. [b “When did you become the damsel in distress type? You almost gave me a heart attack.”] The comment was light hearted, as he didn’t want her to actually feel bad about it. Honestly, he didn’t mind saving her, not so long as she was all right in the end.
Dahlia nodded, fully understanding what Kael told her to do before he ran off. In fact she started off towards the thicket of trees almost immediately, but something made her look back. When she did she noticed people still in the burning building. Some looked confused while others appeared to be in shock. She knew she couldn’t forgive herself if she just left them, and so without much thought she was running back into the warehouse.
Inside it was hot, the flames had reached the main room. She pushed it from her mind as she went from person to person pointing them towards the doors. Most of the misfits snapped out of it when she touched them, ready to get out as soon as she made it clear that it was as simple as running toward the door.
The fire spread quickly, wicking onto everything, even the steel and concrete walls. It was unnatural, even the water that was still pouring from when the alarm sounded did nothing to help. It only created steam leaving the mostly enclosed area humid. Between that and the smoke it was difficult to breath. Still there was one final person she wanted to help. They sat on one of the couches, laid back asleep. She wasn’t sure how anyone could sleep through this, but wasn’t pessimistic enough to think the worst.
There was no response when she touched the woman’s shoulder. Officially worried, she checked her pulse. It was irregular, which meant it was incredibly likely she was overdosing. Not sure what to do, there was no way she’d be able to carry or drag her out. Dahlia resorted to shaking her harder and calling to her in a loud voice. This went on for thirty seconds or so before she the roar of the back wall crumbing. Her eyes snapped there.
In the wake of the destruction was a dark figure; it stood out on the backdrop of red. Although she wasn’t sure how, she knew it was Gaius. But even with that knowledge she was struck with terror. The small woman forgot what she was doing; all she could think about was getting out of here. Taking a blind step back she tripped over the coffee table. The large display glass of assorted prescription pills went with her, shattering. The pieces cut into her arm, a scathing pain that didn’t fully register as she scrambled to stand once more. This time she turned fully breaking into a run to get out.
Dahlia didn’t stop till her lungs protested. She fell into a coughing fit, expelling the last of the smoke and dust particles she’d inhaled. Looking around, she’d made it to the woods. It was dark and cold in comparison to where she’d just been. Breathing heavily the mortal woman tried to make up for the lack of oxygen she suffered. It helped to clear her mind.
In the quiet, the sting of the glass in her arm swelled. Straining to see with very little light, she picked out the small and medium shards from her forearm. None of them were deep, thankfully. After that there was nothing for her to do, nothing but worry. What if Kael wasn’t able to get to Eris in time? What if Gaius didn’t change back? What if she was stuck out here in this forest and no one came for her? With those thoughts, she sat there shaking the dark.
Gaius was loosing consciousness. His body gradually growing larger, heated, and his voice darker -less human, more monster. His face has twisted into something ugly and fearsome. His skin was blistering and falling off faster than he could heal it, and his golden eyes had gone away to leave two glowing orbs of molten gold to smoke menacingly. His enraged roars of pain were halted only by the lights cut from power. He couldn’t make out the argument between Kael and Dahlia, he wasn’t even aware another person had entered the room, until he caught [i her] scent.
She walked up to him cautiously, and his eyes finally opened to see her. Or try to… now he saw what he had suspected. Dahlia stood before him bright as the sun, and radiating a warm glowing aura. It was beautiful. His glowing eyes fixated on her the closer she came to him. He still couldn’t hear much, his head felt trapped underwater, but he strained for the sound of her heartbeat. It allowed him to catch his breath.
[i thump-thump, thump-thump]
Music to his ears… His inhales were sharp and quick, but his exhales were nothing more than feral growls. Her scent washed over him, and the steady beat of her heart brought some of his sanity back from the abyss. She spoke to him, it was muffled and sounded far away, but as he strained to listen to her, he caught the tail end.
[b “Don’t attack me.”] He growled at the prospect. He’d never hurt her. She was the only creature he’d come across in millennia that could soothe him the way she did just with her mere presence.
He watched her every move, up until the point she stood just before him and reached up. Her body pressing against his wrought him with nothing short of pleasure and pain. He vaguely caught her apology, and the fact she hadn’t run was comforting. She was fumbling with the lock above her and his head. It might have hurt to have her against his blistered skin, but he’d bare it for the feeling of her soft curves against the hard planes of his chest and abdomen.
[b “It’ll be okay, just another minute then it will be better. Until then focus on good things.”]
He focused on her, the way she smelled, the way she glowed with an aura of strong light, the way she felt against him, the gentle sound of her voice… it was soothing to the point he was pulled from the very edge and his eyes returned to their more human look.
[#DAA520 “Dahlia…”] he managed to breathe when he was able to think better. He was still grappling with his rage, but for now in the mix of her tender care, soothing words, and all that she was, he was able to hold onto himself a bit better.
Not a moment later did he feel the silver cuffs on his wrists give way, and he slumped forward. Luckily Kael was there and acted as support. Gaius didn’t speak, only bowed his head what might have been shame and allowed them to help him out of the makeshift prison. He hung off of Kael as he and Dahlia figured a way out and a way to get Eris. He felt useless, as he was dropped against a wall and Kael went out to clear the guards. His eyes looked up to find Dahlia standing by the door, but before he could even try and reach for her, or bring his voice to speak to her and thank her, Kael was back and picking him up, and Dahlia was making her way back to the warehouse floor.
It had started to rain outside and Kael sat him down on the wet concrete and leaned him against the steel siding of the building. He reached out with one shaking clawed hand and grabbed Kael before he could leave. [#DAA520 “Get them out. I’ll give you you’re distraction… I don’t have to tell you what’s about to happen, or how important it is you get as many humans out a possible.”] With that Gaius let Kael go and watched as he hurried off. Gaius would give him a moment for a head start, but then all bets were off…
Eris felt Dahlia had been gone for too long, and while Conrad had kept close company Eris continued to play the part of naivety. However, she feared she couldn’t keep it up much longer and stood up confessing she needed to use the restroom. [#B22222 “All the excitement has me anxious… you know what that’s like right? The infamous anxious pee?”] she joked, but claimed she would be back.
“Well don’t wander off for too long, the ceremony is about to start.” She smiled at him and wandered off into the thick of the crowd hoping he would lose site of her. She wormed past the bodies of other people still dancing, and imbibing. For a moment she found herself in the center of the mass of bodies on the dance floor and nearly tripped. An intoxicating sensation was washing over her. The room was coming more alive, more ramped up knowing the ceremony was about to begin. She had to shake the feeling of near arousal off and forced herself to continue to the back where she’d seen Dahlia sneak off to earlier.
Eris could have squealed when she saw Dahlia walking from the back of the warehouse and towards the main floor. She looked put out and anxious about something, but Eris didn’t care. She was so damn excited to see her back.
[#B22222 “Oh my God, where have you been? Did you find them?”] She asked quickly and in a hushed voice as she met up with her. Dahlia only answered she found them but before Eris could get any details the gong was banging loudly again and the music was turned down.
The Goat-man or Silas, as Eris had learned, was back on the catwalk speaking excitedly about the ceremony and called all the Chosen to stand before the knights. Eris frowned, but did as instructed, and once everyone was standing side by side, members of the club came by and donned capes of thick burgundy velvet over their shoulders. The hoods were drawn for them, and Eris had a sinking feeling in her gut, because no sooner was the cowl raised over her head was she escorted towards the back doors with the others. She glanced back towards Dahlia, not wanting to go, but knowing she couldn’t break their cover. She forced herself to take a steady breath and follow inside, but before she could even reach the door something rattled the warehouse and fire alarms began to go off. It caused pandemonium in the warehouse, and the sprinkler system kicking on and dousing everyone with ice cold water didn’t help. People began to flee, and Eris was ready to be one of them. She called to Dahlia and turned to run, but Conrad appeared before her suddenly, and without warning. He grabbed her and one other throwing them through the doorway before they could run and slammed the door.
“Hurry move the chosen. We’ve been compromised,” She heard someone say as she was dragged in Conrad’s strong grip.
[#B22222 “WAIT! My friend, she’s still out there. Please, let me go to her.”] Eris pleaded with Conrad, but he simply tossed her with the rest of them and shouted at one of their underlings.
“Keep that one in one piece. I am expecting to enjoy a rare delicacy tonight.” Eris blanched. What did that mean? Rare delicacy? Did she have some special blood type she didn’t know about? She tried to struggle shouting for Dahlia, but the underling held firm forcing her further into the complex to follow the other chosen.
“WHO LET HIM LOSE?!” Another suddenly shouted barging through the space with a detail of heavily armed men. Eris strained to listen as best she could. It was the expensively dressed knight with the piercing green eyes from earlier. “Get our Exalted Ruler out! NOW! You fucking idiots!” He roared causing Eris and the other humans to flinch. “He was no normal demon! That is Wrath! A Cardinal of Hell!” Eris was stunned by this revelation. She specifically recalled Gaius saying he was a dangerous kind, a sin demon… she just hadn’t realized he was THE Sin of Wrath.
She was dragged out through a back door and into a loading dock where she was tossed with the other humans to enter a utility van. There were no windows, it was painted black and there were no seats inside. Eris cursed out loud… she was about to find out what had happened to all those missing people…
After Kael had run off to create a distraction and get the girls out, Gaius’ breathing quickened until he finally roared out and his body snapped, grew and twisted into an unholy sight and explosion of fire. He rose up to a height of nearly ten feet, his face nothing more than a flat plane where his eyes like orbs glowed dangerously, and his open chest glowed with the same fires of rage and wrath. Fire burned actively inside him and rose out from behind him, crooked arches of blackened bone flared out behind him, and his heavy feet stomped towards the building where he punched a hole in the wall and ripped the door clean off. Gaius had allowed his wrath to be free. He let go of control, with only one thought on his mind… destruction.
Where he walked fire replaced his footsteps, and from his hands he threw fire at anything that would burn. Steel building or not, he'd bring it down. By the time he reached the main Warehouse, his fire was reaching the rafters and spreading, and he stepped from the flames with heavy thunderous footfalls and roared even with no mouth to make noise. The sound and vision of him was enough to send the humans running and screaming.
It felt like a waste of an opportunity to leave before the main event kicked off, but it was Eris’ life on the line and she wasn’t going to push to stay. They probably had plenty of information now anyway. Dahlia split off from her friend; no one seemed to pay her much mind, which was nice. She slowly moved her way toward the back. The number of people as she headed that way thinned, but they also got more absorbed into what they were doing. Small cliques chattered amongst themselves, an air of gossip around them. She was tempted to sneak in closer to hear, but felt it unwise to squander this chance to get into the back of the complex.
Making absolutely sure no one was watching her, she beelined for where she’d seen the others taken. Making it, Dahlia closed the door silently behind her, thankful that there wasn’t anyone behind it. In fact it was rather lucky that she didn’t see anyone at all. What she did see was a hallway full of doors. Letting out an inaudible groan, she had no idea where to go from here. Just because there wasn’t anyone in the hall didn’t mean that there wasn’t anyone in the various rooms. And the mortal did not want to walk in on something she wasn’t meant to see, lest she be hauled off as well. The petit woman had planned to use the excuse that she was looking for a bathroom if she was spotted, but choosing the wrong door might put the kibosh on that. Biting her lip, she took a slow step forward. There had to be someway to figure out which was the right one.
In the main room news of who’d been captured was spreading throughout the ‘staff.’ One of the men who worked as a bouncer perked up when he heard that there was a wrath demon with company. [b “Are you sure there was only two of them?”] His cohorts looked at him in confusion. [b “I was at the bar last night and a group fitting that description came in, except there was a fairy with them too. What if she’s here?”] A worried expression came over the group and they broke off to spread the description of the woman and see if Gaius and Kael had entered with anyone else.
Screaming, unearthly howling as though someone was in so much pain that it was unbearable, filled the hallway. Dahlia froze. It was absolutely chilling, but she got the feeling that was exactly where she needed to be. Following the unsettling sound she came to the last door on the left. Mustering all the bravery she had in her she opened it. For the most part there was darkness, but toward the middle of the room there was an eerie glow. It shrouded Gaius who was the source of all the commotion. Shaking she wasn’t entire sure what was going on. To the right of her she flipped a switch to turn on the regular lights. She needed to be able to see if there was anyone else here. As she did, she heard a familiar voice shout out to her.
Kael was shocked to see Dahlia made it back here. So much so that he was stunned into silence. The condition was temporary before he called out. [b “There’s another switch to the far left, flip it!”] There was a deep urgency in his tone, one that barely cut through the cries of anguish.
Looking where she was told to, the mortal woman did indeed find a second set of switches. Deft hands went to snap the toggle down. No sooner than it clicked, the faint buzzing that had permeated the quit and so did Gaius’ yelling. Finally able to think a little more clearly, Dahlia turned to look at the situation properly. Both of the men were chained and drained; however the silver haired demon was in far worse condition. Despite this, after grabbing the key that was lazily hanging from a hook on the wall, she went to Kael first. If Gaius fell over as soon as he was let loose, there was no way in hell she was going to be able to catch him.
As quick as she could, without being clumsy, Dahlia undid the cuffs that were holding the snake. He said his thanks, but as soon as she turned toward his partner he grabbed her shoulder. [b “We need to get out of here, he wants us to leave him behind.”] Sure, it didn’t sit well with him, but there wasn’t time to get into an argument over it.
While the woman turned to look at Kael as he mentioned what Gaius had said, she stared at him expectantly. There was a pause, but she did eventually speak up. [b “That is like the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”]
Kael didn’t really have a way to respond to that, he was at a loss of words. But when she started moving forward again he snapped out of it. [b “No, I mean, he is in a super bad mood after all of this. Getting too close to him is a really, and I mean really, bad idea.”]
Rolling her eyes, she completely brushed him off and began grumbling. [b “We won’t let anything happen to you, just leave me here and get out. God, get over yourselves.”] She wasn’t entirely sure why she was so irritated by it all, but that’s how it was. [b “If we did leave him, and then something happened to you? Eris and I would be sitting ducks. We don’t know where to go with this. There’s Cornelius but he doesn’t exactly seem too keen on helping, now does he.”] There best chance was to keep their numbers high. Not to mention she didn’t really want anyone to end up dead because of this nonsense, but she figured that was obvious.
Growing nearer to Gaius she could better see the extent of how badly he was suffering. It looked like he had third degree burns on all of his exposed skin. He was even smoking, which was… odd, but she accepted it. Eyes softened on him, she kind of felt bad for being so harsh a moment ago. [b “You poor thing.”] There was less pity in her words than empathy. [b “I’m going to let you out of that, so you know, don’t attack me.”] It felt weird to say, as she didn’t really think he was going to, but Kael was so on edge she felt like she needed to say something.
Kael stood back, cautious of Gaius as he was on the edge. He wasn’t able to stay like that for long as Dahlia called him over. Not willing to look a complete coward he listened to the dark haired woman, coming in closer, but still out of reach. [b “I’ll catch him if I have to.”] An attempt to let the man keep some pride while he kept his distance.
Glaring back at him, Dahlia sighed and moved in. It was harder to reach the cuffs on Gaius’ hands. She was on her toes, pressed flat to him in order to get the key in. Feeling him flinch, she apologized. [b “Sorry,”] The woman worried she might hurt him worse being pushed against him, and so she fell into old habits of attempting to distract and sooth. [b “It’ll be okay, just another minute then it will be better. Until then focus on good things.”] With him being a demon she wasn’t sure what all that entailed.
True to her words it only took another moment or two before she had him free. The man stumbled forward, and surprisingly enough Kael did move in. He acted as a shoulder to lean on. [b “Alright,”] Dahlia’s words were a little rushed. She felt as though they might run out of time soon. [b “There is usually an emergency exit in office places like this. We'll use that to get you two out. Then if all possible you'll need to start some kind of commotion outside. We’re gonna need it to get Eris out. She got picked for some stupid ritual thing so everyone’s watching her like a hawk.]
Seemed like things hadn’t gone so hot for the girls either. Kael had had a feeling that was the case when he heard that guy from before mention the Maenad. Sighing he replied. [b “We’ll try.”] He said we, but it seemed like it was going to largely fall on him.
Exiting the room, they put everything back in place so it wasn’t totally obvious anyone had been in, Dahlia followed them farther back down the hall. She kept her eyes pealed for anyone who might interfere, but it was just as desolate as before. There was an emergency exit sign as expected, it was no longer illuminated, however the green still stood out amongst the sea of dull concrete gray. [b “Let me check it first.”] She whispered and slipped passed the pair.
Cracking the door, she spotted a man on guard duty. He instantly looked back at her, scowling. [b “Sorry, looking for a restroom.”] Behind her back, she held up a single finger indicating the enemies number.
Kael took her queue with ease. Leaning Gaius against the wall, he pressed full force against the door hitting the werewolf who was holding it. Lightning quick, he slithered around grabbing the large male by the neck and bashing his head against the complex wall. Blood smeared the surface, the only hint of color for as far as the eye could see. The wolf was out cold. Dahlia cringed at the loud crack. She couldn’t see what happened but it sounded violent. In no time at all Kael returned for his partner. She took this time to go her separate way and slip back into the party.
Kael and Gaius were able to escape undetected, but all that was on the red-eyed man’s mind now was getting Eris out safe and sound.
The Malumortis. Eris had heard that correctly, and she still managed her smile. She claimed how excited she was to be chosen for such an honor. It didn’t take long for others to huddle around her, curious to know what it was about this newcomer to be chosen. According to the group, no one was ever chosen their first night of attendance. Eris tried to laugh it off by saying she wasn’t anything special, that she was just like them… looking for somewhere to belong. Eris always had done well in theater classes in her youth. Now it was actually being useful. Eris learned a good deal in her time talking with people, but excused herself when she saw Dahlia making her way through the crowd. Eris politely excused herself from the group, and met up with Dahlia.
[#B22222 “We’ve definitely found the place. This is the Malumortis… What did you learn?”] Turns out she didn’t learn much different from her. They had more than what they started with, but they still had more questions than before. Eris didn’t like the feeling she was getting and since she couldn’t see Gaius or Kael still it made her increasingly nervous. [#B22222 “We need to find the guys. I haven’t seen them since we walked in here. Where could they have gone?”] Dahlia knew the answer to that one too, she’d seen them being hauled off by a trio of scary looking bouncers. That couldn’t bode well, and so Eris informed Dahlia about the supposed Clans and her theory that humans were being chosen for food, slavery, or sacrifice.
[#B22222 “I think we still have time before the ritual takes place… let’s try to find the guys and get out of here. I personally don’t want to wait to find out if I get to be demon chow or a sacrifice.”] Eris hissed under her breath as her nerves took over for a brief moment. From a dark corner on the opposite side of the Warehouse where Dahlia said the men were taken, Eris saw the three leading knights from the catwalk return to the meeting. Eris nodded her head that way for Dahlia to look, and it was a pretty good guess the guys were in the back. Sharing a look it seemed they agreed and slowly made their way over to try and sneak into the back. Eris had more trouble moving through the crowd, being chosen and all, but it did take eyes off Dahlia which was good. Eris watched her nervously -generally Eris did the sleuthing in dangerous territory, but everything about their dealings with Kael and Gaius had their roles reversing.
Eris did her best to move away from the group that had detained her to get to know the new chosen, but no sooner had she done that did she come face to face with a man. He stood taller than her, with a well manicured haircut and expensive clothes. She recognized him as one of the men from the catwalk. Tensing, Eris did her best to try and relax.
“I have been watching you since you walked through the door, my dear…” The man said and took her hand planting a kiss to it, but that wasn’t all he did. He inhaled the scent of her flesh deeply and seemed to fall in a sensual reverie over it. Talk about being grossed out. Eris withdrew her hand, but painted a smile on her face.
[#B22222 “Me? I’ve been told I have a pretty face, is that a weakness of yours?”] The man chuckled thoroughly amused by her comment for some reason and glanced back to the other two that had returned to their places on the Catwalk. They looked back with mild interest.
“A Petty face? My dear you are a vision, and you smell divine! Is that you or your perfume?” Eris admitted she didn’t wear perfume. He growled in response as he seemed to contain himself. “I am Conrad, I happen to be one of the knights for our little club here. So what brought you to our quaint little get together?”
[#B22222 “I wouldn’t call this quaint, but I saw the add on craigslist, and I’m new in town. I heard that being chosen means I join a clan?”] Conrad saw her question as an opportunity to steal her attention and walk with her to one of the many sofas that decorated the space. Eris personally didn’t want to sit on them as she had no idea what had transpired on said sofas. Over Doses, sexual encounters, sickness… eww, she didn’t want to think about it.
However… the chaos of the entire group was incredibly alluring to her. The wine, the alcohol, the crazed merriment… it was a lot of energy in a small space and it was making Eris as warm as if she’d been drinking wine. She glanced back around to see if Dahlia had made it to the back, but when she couldn’t find her -Eris could only hope she had succeeded.
“It does. I will be remiss to admit if I don’t try and steal you for my house. A lovely woman such as yourself would make for a fine addition. Tell me darling, what is your name?” He cooed in question.
[#B22222 “You have to tell me where you’re from first, your accent is… really hot,”] she said forcing herself to blush and bite her lip. Conrad only seemed to smile and unlike Kael and Gaius who had noticeable features, Conrad had none. Just dark circles under his eyes, and incredibly pale skin… but by her guess of his cold touch, and how he smelled at her… her money was on Vampire. Sweet Zeus, she hoped she was wrong.
He was from East Europe, specifically Romania, and with a tap at her nose he grinned saying that while it was well hidden he could tell she was greek by her own accent and asked again for her name. Eris was honest and gave him her full Greek name. Eris Dionisia Alcone. He repeated what the Goat-man had said… Chosen already… what the fuck did that even mean?! He speculated that she would enjoy it with them, and that he had a feeling she truly belonged with them. Then he asked her something that had Eris feeling embarrassed.
“The energy of this room, it’s magnetic. You feel it don’t you?” by her lack of answer and her flushed cheeks, Conrad licked his lips and leaned in. “I thought so. This sort of energy makes your body come alive, makes you warm, makes you want to dance, and imbibe… makes you want to do things some people might not find kosher.” Eris looked at him with wide eyes. How had he known that? “I’ll wager on nights you go out you always find yourself in a strangers bed. I’ll wager you leave them depleted and satisfied, and you leave feeling energized and unstoppable.” She swallowed tensely. He was right, there was an undeniable appeal Eris always felt whenever she walked into a rave, or group of intoxicated dancing people, but the energy of the worship in this place was unlike anything Eris had felt before. She was embarrassed to admit that despite her nervousness coming here, and the bad feelings she felt… all that aside… this was the sort of energy she loved to be around. It always seemed to empower her. Conrad hissed between his teeth as if turned on by the prospect of his next words and her. “Oh the things I can teach you my dear…” Eris could only smile, and hope Dahlia was finding success with the mission.
Gaius was unresponsive for the most part. Chained up and being bombarded by the UV lights had him using all his focus on keeping him from losing his human form and shifting to his full demonic form and tearing this place down. Fuck his brother, Greed, and fuck everyone else in this pathetic shit hole. He’d tear it apart and burn it to the fucking ground.
Gaius’ subconscious was buried deep within in, fighting off the rage that warred on all sides of his mind. He barely heard Kael call his name, it sounded so far away, and where ever they were he could no longer hear Dahlia’s heart beat. Just the thought of that had him roaring angrily on the outside -desperate to break free.
The lights had been left off, and it seemed the Malumortis was fine with leaving him to hang burned and blistered for a little while. It was enough to allow him to bring his mind closer to the surface, and he could finally open his eyes and see Kael.
[#DAA520 “Kael, I don’t care what it takes… you get the women out of here, and get them to the Covenant. I can’t promise when my brother comes back I’ll be in my right mind much longer…”] he growled his voice distorted and deeper than usual. His eyes glowed, and smoke spilled out from his nose, mouth and his eyes. He was fighting not to shift into his true natural form. [#DAA520 “This is bigger than we anticipated it was. Leave me and get to The Covenant. If I survive… I’ll find my way back-AGHHH!”] He was cut short as the lights suddenly snapped back on, and burned him once more and he howled with agonizing pain.
Being tethered to the wall was unpleasant, but at soon as he saw what was in store for Gaius, Kael had minimal complaints. The posse left them, confident that they wouldn’t be able to worm their way out. It pissed him off. He wanted to think of some way around it. Kael was sure between the two of them something could be done. So no sooner than the lights went off he called out to Gaius. His words were met with sounds of fury. That was not a good sign. They couldn’t afford to have Gaius lose it. There might be no survivors to get information out of. After coming to this conclusion he kept his mouth shut and focused on himself.
The chains holding him were relatively short. They dug into his wrists, searing the entire time. It would be impossible for him to break them, but he wondered if he could pull them from the wall. Resituating himself, he pressed his feet to the wall. Try as he might with his legs, the bindings did not come loose from the concrete wall. Growling lowly, they must have been reinforced.
Again the light flashed on, it kind of hurt his eyes after being in the darkness. They snapped shut immediately, but the discomfort continued when Gaius’ howls of anguish and ire filled the air. This process repeated several times before he heard the door. A new trio entered the room. None of them faces he wanted to see.
The group kept their attention of Gaius for the most part, but Kael could hear what they were saying. There was no effort put into being discrete. For suck’s sake they were both going to end up dead here and they probably wouldn’t be the only ones. The normally red-eyed man flinched at the mention of a maenad. It was like something clicked in his mind as soon as he heard the word. Of course that is what she was. He groaned at their oversight. It confirmed that at the very least they were targeting Eris as well. This night could not have gone any worse if they had tried.
Everything after that was just icing on the top of this incredibly shitty cake. Greed ironically lusting after Gaius’ power, his impending death, or and whoever the fuck just showed up. The screaming hit his ears again, and he was certain nothing could be done.
Eris was too conspicuous now that she had been picked for what would likely be pan out as ritual sacrifice, so Dahlia branched off on her own. She essentially just found herself a seat on one of the sofas lying about and people came to her. At first there was a middle-aged woman. Her hair was just beginning to gray and her teeth were horrific, but she seemed willing to talk. However that wasn’t enough as she was so strung out that what little conversation they had descended into madness. It got to the point where she sort of wandered off, talking to herself the whole way. Honestly, Dahlia was not sad to see her go.
Her presence was quickly replaced by a small group. None of them looked older than nineteen. They were eager to have a place to sit, as things were getting more and more crowded. People were arriving late. A pair of boys flanked her on the couch. Neither of them looked like the sort of people she enjoyed talking to, and that was confirmed when they opened their mouths. Quote unquote good guys, but she could work with that. With any luck she could play dumb and the mansplaining would begin. Not to mention they looked stoned so they were more likely to sit still.
[b “Hi,”] she spoke with a smile. [b “Do you guys think you could do me a favor?”]
The one on her left jumped in first. He looked to be the more assertive of the two. But the other nodded along. [b “Of course.”]
[b “You can probably tell but this is my first time here. I was too nervous to come sooner… I’m happy I finally worked up the courage. This place is so welcoming, but I am a little confused about parts of it. What’s the purpose of the choosing and stuff?”] The answer she received was about the same as expected, an honorable but secret ritual. [b “Wow, that seems like a big deal.”]
The guy kind of shrugged. [b “They say that, but I think it is random. I mean I’ve been here since the beginning and I still haven’t been picked.”] He seemed a little bitter; he wasn’t the only one with that sentiment.
[b “That’s weird, you seem so nice. It really stands out to me. How long have you been coming?”] It seemed a natural progression.
[b “A year, give or take.”]
It lined up with what was happening back at home. Dahlia couldn’t help but think it connected the two all the more. Her stanch sank to think that this could be sweeping the entire country, or perhaps even the globe. [b “Oh man, I wish I would have come soo-”] she was cut off.
[b “Yeah, I chalk it up to me being an important senior member. I mean if the Malumortis ascended all the older followers who would be here to greet the newbies like you.”] He smiled sleazily, revealing crooked teeth. The kid continued to rattle on about the names origin and how even though it was routed in evil it was really just to stick it to the so called benevolent who couldn’t care less about people like them.
[b “Well I guess that’s lucky for me!”] She laughed, it wasn’t her best performance as he put his arm around her and she kind of wanted to die. But she dealt with it. [b “You must have gotten to know the guys who run this pretty well then.”]
His grin widened. [b “I’ve talked with them a few time. Silas, the one who was running the show earlier with the horns, he’s pretty much a buddy of mine these days.”]
It was then that the quieter of the two boys finally spoke up. [b “I’ve talked to him too… a couple times. Even being busy keeping this movement running he’s pretty sociable. It’s the exalted one that’s hard to get ahold of.”]
The talkative one cut in again, not too happy to have his achievement downplayed. [b “No one gets to talk to that one.”] His huffiness came through his words. [b “He just show up for the main event, you know when they take the ascended away. The Exalted leader’s always in a cloak, so none of us really know what he looks like.”]
He continued to blather on and Dahlia checked out of the conversation. They needed to figure out who that hooded person is. If they stayed for the ritual, which she previously wasn’t hoping for, maybe Eris could get a good look before they bailed? It was risky. Not to mention they had to find a way to get Gaius and Kael back… She needed to regroup with her friend.
Wiggling about, she squirmed from her informants grip. She politely excused herself, making a promise to talk again with them next week if she didn’t see them again tonight. Now she had to track down Eris. In order to try and kill two birds with one stone she stealthily brought out her camera and snapped a couple of photos of anything that was really damning. No one seemed to notice much, finally a decent benefit from everyone being high as a kite.
From the sounds and looks of it they were coming down to select their chosen ones for the evening. Eris retained her indifferent expression, simply observing the event. She was completely oblivious the men had just been compromised and carted off. She was busy trying to commit all the faces of those on the catwalk to memory. The Goatish demon came down from the catwalk with a few other hulking guards and began to hand out strings of braided rope with stones on them. Eris didn’t let her eyes leave the goat-man as he greeted people like a politician greets his constituents during voting season. People were falling all over for a chance to be chosen. Eris had no doubts that this was a cult, and the leaders of the cult were selectively choosing their targets to not draw suspicion.
When he reached their area of the warehouse floor he stopped and stared at Dahlia. When he reached out to touch her, Eris nearly bristled with rage, but she kept her cool. Then he looked at her and Eris felt a cold chill run up her spine. The same one she felt before they walked into this place.
“Ah, you’re new too, but I dare say you’re a chosen one already.” Eris’ brow furrowed. Chosen already? Chosen for what? Goddamn paranormals and their cryptic bullshit! She swallowed tensely as his clawed nails brushed her skin in the process of draping the necklace around her.
Frowning, Eris glanced back as the goat-man left them for the catwalk. Her eyes searched for Kael and Gaius, but she couldn’t find either. Where had they gone? With a glance at Dahlia, she knew something was up. Above them Goat-man encouraged the festivities to continue on, and Dahlia leaned over to whisper at her. Eris gave a nod of her head in understanding and looked around at the others in the throng of humans.
[#B22222 “Then let’s find what we need and get out of here. Try and snag a picture too… I’m going to do some more socializing and figure out what the fuck is about to happen to me. Meet back here in an hour,”] she breathed nervously and turned from Dahlia to go towards the table full of food, liquor and drugs.
On her way to the table she was stopped by the woman who she questioned earlier. She looked incredibly jealous and put out.
“How did you do it? You’re new. You shouldn’t have been chosen. I’ve been coming here for months now. All I want is to ascend, and you walk in and steal it from me.” Eris arched a brow at her, as she picked up a plate to make it look like she was interested in what they had. The girl wasn’t having any of it and slapped the plate and a handful of chips out of Eris’ hand.
[#B22222 “What the fuck?”] Eris asked a glare on her face, but with a clear look at the girl she was an obvious drug addict, and clearly not thinking straight. She had track marks on her arms and her nose was red and inflamed from snorting powders, no doubt.
“You don’t deserve it. I can see it on your face. You think this is all a joke. You just came here to laugh at us!” Eris looked around hoping to see Kael or Gaius, but still seeing neither. Fuck, where had those two gone?!
[#B22222 “Look, I’m not here to fight with you. If I wasn’t so damn curious, I’d let you have this thing and-“] Eris stopped as she tugged on the necklace and it wouldn’t budge from its knot. It remained locked around her neck, and grew heavy in her hand. It had been enchanted to grow heavy and or tighter the more she struggled to take it off. That was not comforting. She glared and looked at the jealous woman. Her bad feeling had returned tenfold, and it was making Eris queasy. [#B22222 “I don’t have time for your bullshit.”] Eris settled with and left the table to weave her way through the crowd of people.
She could see see Dahlia across the way talking with people, and getting work done. Eris however was approached by a few people who came to congratulate her. They were otherwise kind, if not envious, and were excited to tell her about how great of an honor it was to be chosen. Eris couldn’t help but ask what it meant to ascend, because to her it sounded a lot like a human sacrifice ritual wrapped up in a pretty package.
“You will be taken by one of the Knights or our Leader to a secret room. The Ascension is a very secret ritual, no one knows what really happens. Those that return after ascending are not allowed to talk about it.” Eris frowned and asked if those that returned came back different. “Of course they do. Their third eye has been open, they are wiser, stronger, and get to become a member of the clans.” Clans? That was curious. “The Clans are those chosen by the Knights and leaders of our organization. Depending on who you are given to, depends on what house you will become a part of.”
[#B22222 “Just what is this club called? I saw the add on craigslist, and since I’m new here I thought it would be a great way to meet new people”] Eris asked curiously with a fake smile.
“We are called The Malumortis.”
Eris felt like a plane that just lost cabin pressure.
[i -Houston we have a problem…-]
Gaius wasn’t expecting to be pricked with a needle right at a certain nerve point. It left him immobile, but it wouldn’t last long. He was still awake through it all as they carried him, his slowly began to melt from a gleaming gold to a dangerous shade of molten lava. Wrath, more aptly known as Rage or Anger began to grow dangerously inside of him, but so long as he was immobile he could do nothing. He was taken with Kael to a dark back room. Kael was chained with silver to a far wall, out of reach of getting to Gaius, who was strung up by his wrists from the ceiling in silver chains and cuffs that began to burn his skin. Steam even began to flare from his nose and out of his mouth as he slowly began to reclaim function of his body. It matter little so long as they were bound with silver. To make matters worse, Gaius glanced up and saw UV Lamps positioned towards him. This must have been a space used to hold Vampires… or kill them, because with a dark chuckle one of the goons flipped the switch and Gaius was drenched by the UV lights and the radiation it emitted.
Gaius howled and shouted in pain -definitely not a creature meant for the day. It forced his skin to turn a blistered red. It wouldn’t kill him the way it might a Vampire, but it was seriously weakening him. Soon his clothes were soaked through with the sweat of his body and the popping of the blisters that formed on his body. The glamour was of no help to him, and with no explanation the guards left Kael and Gaius alone in the back room.
Gaius would thank Satan for small favors when the lights were clearly on a timer and shut off after three minutes. Three minutes was enough to leave Gaius exhausted, in pain, and smoking from the effects of the lights. However, when Kael called to him, Gaius only response was a feral growl and the dangerous gleam of golden red eyes. Wrath was threatening to release itself and kill all in sight. As if the situation hadn’t been dangerous before, a group of crazies were officially trying to ramp up an already teetering Wrath demon to go on a killing spree.
It was twenty minutes before the door opened again, and in that twenty minutes the lights on Gaius had come on three times, burning him and leaving him to howl in angry pain. The sufferings of Hell had come to Earth. The Goat Demon entered first along with Greed and one Ancient Vampire.
“Well well, Wrath, brother… didn’t think I’d see you here, and with such pathetic glamours…” he chuckled to himself and shook his head. “I apologize for the uncomfortable bindings, but one can never be too cautious.” Greed said walking over and grabbing Gaius’ face. Doing so made Gaius roar out, large fangs dripping menacingly with rage. Grabbing his face made Gaius’ skin crack and bleed, but Greed didn’t seem to mind the blackened blood staining his hands. “When you get to be as old as we, hiding in plain sight is not an easy task to do… a shame you had to get caught up with him,” Greed said turning to look at Kael.
“How long is this going to take? I’m hungry…” The vampire crooned. His accent was old eastern European, and it was hard to tell just how old he was. Physically the man looked no older than 35, but it would be no guess if the vampire was well over a couple thousand years old. “I smelled a Maenad earlier, and I will be damned if I let it leave before I get a taste. It’s been eons since I drank one…” He sighed patting his belly and eluding to just how old and ancient he was.
“In due time Conrad…” The Goat man warned. “First we have to send a message to the Covenant. Bunch of damn fools to send any of their agents to stop us. Let’s just kill them already.”
“I have a better idea…” Greed whispered, reaching up and removing Gaius’ glamour. A shimmer waved over him before revealing his true appearance. Green smiled broadly and sadistically “I’m going to take his horns. I’m going to take his powers… a fate worse than death…” Greed sighed, feeling mighty proud of himself.
“I don’t care what you do, but it will have to wait. Our Exalted Ruler just arrived.” The Goat demon murmured looking down at his phone and turning to leave. The Vampire Conrad grinned snapping his fangs at Kael and then vanished. Moving so quickly it seemed as if he could simply teleport. Greed however lingered and stared up at Gaius.
“The prodigal son… won’t father be so pleased when I send you back to him, broken and useless…” Greed smirked, before turning on his heel and adjusting the cuffs of his expensive shirt and left the room. As soon as he closed the door the lights clicked back on and burned Gaius once more leaving him to howl in agonizing pain.
With Gaius in full glamor, they were all ready to go. Dahlia really thought he didn’t look all that different. At least not with the hat on, it was a similar shade to his natural hair color. And considering that was one of the standout features she would use to pick out of a crowd, she was kind of glad he was wearing it. They had no idea how busy this place was going to be. If all they had for advertisement was a vague craigslist post then she didn’t think it was going to be particularly popular. Although this was LA, and the west coast did have more of a reputation for being home to weirdos.
Eris being on edge put her friend on edge. In most cases Dahlia trusted her judgment. And while the demon’s words of comfort did put her a little at ease it was hard to be one hundred perfect calm knowing they were about to walk into either some sort of wild sex party or demonic paradise. Inside was an odd mixture of the two. Looking at some of the faces in the crowd, their features were abnormally sharp. It betrayed their true natures, although she couldn’t be sure exactly what they were.
Now that they were in the boys seemed to stiffen some. Even after they had been so confident that things would be fine. The short woman sighed, but didn’t have time to dwell on it as a glass was forced into her hand. [b “Thanks…”] The word came out instinctually, even if she wasn’t very happy with it. Once the man with the tray was a ways away, she dipped her pinky into the cocktail and stuck it in her mouth. Her eyes immediately shifted over to Eris. [b “It’s bitter.”] A fact that only confirmed their suspicions, although it was odd they would spike the drinks with so many other options just lying about on the table. Covering all their bases maybe?
All but gluing herself to the thin woman’s side, Dahlia listened in on what little explanation they were given for all these people practically throwing themselves to a mob of demons and the likes. At this point they were a little bit farther from their own demons. She could hear the murmur of Gaius’ voice, but couldn’t make out what he was actually saying. Looking back to him, she saw him glancing at Kael. That was… concerning.
Kael cursed under his breath at his partner’s mention of another sin demon. Between him and the other company attending this meeting, they were sure to be figured out. He was kicking himself for not getting stronger concealing spells, but with greed here, he wasn’t entirely sure it would have helped. It was about then that he saw the green eyed demon lean over to one of his cohorts and say something. [b “We should get out of here, the scene will only be worse if we stick around.”] More than either of them he was worried about the girls. There was a chance they could still learn something. Eris was a journalist, right? He trusted she knew how to handle this sort of thing. With that he turned to make a discrete exit with his black-garbed colleague. However, before they could make it to the door a trio shadowy figures flashed before them.
[b “Hey gents, where you off to?”] The tone the burly man took was condescending. None of them were part of the group on stage; that paired with the inhuman speed they used to close the gap made it very unlikely any of the mortals’ attention would be on them.
Kael was the one to speak. [b “We figured this wasn’t our kind of party, so we’re excusing ourselves.”] The snake was fairly sure the two of them could take the three in front of them.
[b “Mmmm.”] The same large man let out a sound of displeasure. [b “I am afraid that won’t work for us.”]
An unpleasant smile came across Kael’s face. [b “And I’m afraid we weren’t ask-“] His words cut off as he felt a stinging at the side of his neck. Automatically his hand went up to the irritation. He barely had time to recognize the item was a small pin before he lost control of his muscles, falling to the ground. He was unable to move, but fully conscious. Next to him, he heard Gaius go down as well. The group that stopped them had only been a distraction.
Now that the two of them were rendered practically useless, the brawny demon motioned for his lackey friends to grab Kael and Gaius. They swiftly obliged, hauling the men over their shoulders. Quietly they sneaked them to the more secluded back of the warehouse that was once outfitted as offices.
Dahlia had been glancing back just enough to catch what had become of Gaius and Kael. Biting her lip, she feared that the two of them might be in over their heads alone. However it wasn’t like they could just leave. They would have to do something, but it needed to be smart lest they end up somebody’s snack.
For the moment there was nothing to be done. So she turned her attention to what was happening in front of her, leaving rescuing the others on the back burner for now.
Up on stage, the goatish man had continued his ramble. Dahlia had been only half invested in it, but she got the feeling they were coming close to picking their ascended. They needed to know what all that entailed, but she wasn’t eager to get up close and personal with it. As the thought passed through her mind, the demon that seemed to be the MC hopped down from his post on the catwalk. He was joined by a few others that began making their way through the excited throng.
Being that they were on the outer edge of the swarm it took some time for the man to come anywhere near them. But when he did, Dahlia very much wished he would move on. His piercing eyes stopped on her for a time and it felt like her heart froze. He looked intrigued. Not sure what to do, she was damn sure she wasn’t blending in with those around him who were begging for his attention.
He smiled devilishly and spoke, [b “No need to be so afraid, we don’t bite... much.”] As though that wasn’t enough, he placed a hand on her head, tussling her hair. The whole interaction was exceedingly uncomfortable, but she fought to smile through it.
Luckily he moved passed her after that, although her luck was only marginal as he also stopped at Eris. [b “Ah, you’re new too, but I dare say you’re a chosen one already.”] The same grin played at his lips as he took a necklace and placed it around her neck. It was loose and simple, less of a necklace really and more a tightly braided rope with a stone pendant. The rock was smooth with a quarter-sized hole in the middle, it resembled a hagstone, but Dahlia couldn’t be sure if it was real. She was too busy being nervous for Eris’ wellbeing. The woman next to them didn’t seem too happy either, but that was out of jealousy than concern.
The demon returned to his place on the stage before speaking out to his audience. [b “The chosen have been selected!”] There was a roar amongst the mob. [b “Let us return to our merriment until the witching hour, then we will begin the ritual of ascension.”] With that the mortals seemed to wind down some, slowly they dispersed, returning to their indulgences. Although many stopped to congratulate those who had been chosen among them. It seemed that there was only one other after Eris, a young man.
Dahlia turned toward her friend, distressed. [b “I guess that leaves us a few hours to get what we need and get the hell out of here.”] The comment was under her breath, but she was close enough to Eris that she would hear.
Eris didn’t blame Dahlia for wanting more information about Eris’s changed opinion on Kael. Truth was, Eris wasn’t sure why she was more willing to trust the two of them either. Perhaps it had everything to do with having their story and the efforts they’d gone through to keep them safe and not demand the medallion returned to them. They’d allowed the women to continue to hold onto it… then again, that too could be a ploy. Eris didn’t think much on it as Dahlia brought up the ambrosia. It hadn’t really done anything to her except make her feel very tipsy. According to Dahlia the ambrosia pushed out the tattooed glyphs her crazy fucking parents had put on her when she was a child. Sensing that Dahlia was still troubled by it, Eris reached out and took her hand.
[#B22222 “Hey, don’t be paranoid about it. I’m pretty sure there’s an answer as to why out there. Think of it this way, Ambrosia is a drink of the Gods, if there are Gods… which… I’m beginning to think there are… hopefully they know what you’ve been through and thought to take away the reminder of those painful memories?”] Eris had never openly confessed her own religious beliefs. She had been raised with the old religions, her family worshiped Dionysius among a few of the more notable Gods of Greek Mythology, but Eris had never given it much stock. However, now that she’d found herself in the crazy world of Kael and Gaius’ she was beginning to question those beliefs.
Their conversation was cut short by Kael knocking on their door and poking his head in. There was another lead. Gaius had found an add calling for a meeting similar to the nonsense happening back in New York. Naturally they were both down to get into some shenanigans and the moment Kael left the room Eris rolled off the bed to start getting ready. Fetish group or not, Eris was going to enjoy herself and actually help this time. She began to dig through all the clothes the men had gotten them and did her best to find something that would act as a disguise for both Dahlia and herself. The clothes were entirely Emo or Goth which might have been preferred for this undercover gig, but it wasn’t anything some thick eyeliner couldn’t handle.
Gaius was pleased to hear the women agree to go, and for the next couple of hours he did some digging into who posted the ad. His search found nothing, but at least he tried. He didn’t really bother to dress too differently as he generally wore all black and grey no matter what time of the year it was. He had the address saved in his phone’s GPS to lead them there, and made plans for a taxi to come pick them up at a location not too far from the safe house. He did dress into a clean black tee, and put on tighter pair of black pants and a pair of old black vans. He looked more like a gothic hipster than a person desperate for inclusion. When the women emerged from the room he was pleased to see that they would at least blend in. Dahlia was dressed in all dark colors, a stark contrast to the soft pinks and warm tans he’d seen her wear. Eris? Well Eris looked the same, with a more edgy hair style, blood red lips and thick eyeliner. She looked like a vampire buffet, so whatever, it would have to work. Before they left, Gaius slipped the ring from his pocket and put it on his middle finger. Sure enough his horns vanished, as did his claws and teeth giving him human appearance. His eyes even turned from their eerie shade of gold, to a warm brown, and his hair darkened as well from its silver grey to dark brown. With his horns seemingly gone, he donned a grey knitted beanie and they left.
Kael hadn’t been joking when he said that it wouldn’t take long to reach the warehouse. They were dropped off just shy of a mile and decided it was safest to walk the rest of the way. They could see the warehouse when Eris started to get antsy. She stopped and frowned at the Warehouse just before they reached the gate that surrounded it.
[#B22222 “Something doesn’t feel right. I’ve got a bad feeling, guys…”] she frowned and glanced at Dahlia.
[#DAA520 “Just nerves. Come on, we won’t let anything happen to you two,”] Gaius said indifferently and started to the warehouse. He had the flier from Craigslist printed off in his hand and showed it to a rather large man standing outside, who gave a nod of his head. Gaius turned and waved them inside where loud techno rave music was playing. Lasers danced across the massive space, and lights flashed illuminating the warehouse.
It had once been a manufacturing warehouse, which was obvious by the large gaps in the concrete floor, where pits for machines once were. They were filled with stone and dirt, and no one seemed to mind it. He glanced around as the others entered with him, and at first glance it did look like a fetish party, but the more he observed the more he saw guards holding the perimeter. They were a collective group of paranormals from other demons, to wolves, and vampires, and other under fae that were less than desirable to be around. Above on a catwalk was a collection of chairs, covering the space into an almost throne room. On the edge of the dance floor where so many people seemed to rave and writhe, was a long table filled with food and glass jars of drugs available. The air smelled of cannabis, there were tabs of paper on the floor where people had dropped acid. Gaius was starting to think that maybe Eris’ bad feeling was rooted in something substantial. He was beginning to feel like this was exactly what he was afraid it might be. Wolves and Vampires were good at seeing through glamours, something to do with their ability to smell. They had been one of the last people to arrive, but shortly after their arrival it seemed to the meeting was about to start.
Eris didn’t like the feeling she was getting from this place. There was something off about it. Something sinister and cruel. It made her wary, but she kept her eyes open, prepared for anything that might jump out. She noticed the table full of drugs, liquor and food, and it was surrounded by people clawing for anything from LSD to cocaine. Not even the pull of the green herb would get her to go over there. If she didn’t get it from Mahlik, she didn’t trust it. A bulking bouncer of a guy walked over to Dahlia and Eris with a tray of drinks.
“New Faces,” He greeted with a smirk. “Have a drink.” He didn’t give them much of a choice and handed them each a glass. Eris took the drink with a smile, but didn’t drink it. She remembered what Mahlik had said about the Ketamine, and she wasn’t about to fall for it, if this was connected.
Suddenly a loud gong rang through the warehouse calling the meeting to order and cutting the music to a low background noise. Gaius stood behind them with Kael, almost protectively as they moved to hide in the crowd and listen. The gong rang several more times before, one of the people sitting on the catwalk finally stood up and looked down at the group. Eris noticed instantly he wasn’t human and he didn’t wear a glamour. His horns curled elegantly back like a rams, and even his ears flopped a bit like one too. His eyes were sharp and cold though, and even with his facial hair he did look a bit like a goat.
“Welcome! Welcome… I see many familiar faces tonight, and some new ones too. Welcome to our special club. You’re here because you received the call. You’re here because you knew deep down you belong here, with us. You are all the chosen ones, you are the children of darkness. Remember the honor you possess by belonging to this organization, and when you are chosen to ascend. Tonight’s ascension has not been chosen yet, but there will be lucky ones chosen tonight…”
Eris stared up at the obvious demon with a sense of loathing. Ascension couldn’t be a good thing, but the drugged up fools surrounding them must have believed it. Curious, Eris leaned over to a young woman about her age and asked her who the leader was.
“That’s our exalted knight. The Exalted Ruler will come when we are chosen…”
[#B22222 “What does it mean to be chosen? It’s my first night.”] Eris said trying to keep conversation going with the inebriated girl.
“You go with them, and you ascend to a new world…” She suddenly flung her arms upwards towards the group on the catwalk. “Choose me!” She begged. Eris frowned and glanced at Dahlia. For a group to have this sort of following was quite terrifying.
Gaius recognized one of the demons on the catwalk. He sat on the far end, and was staring right at him. Slowly a grin spread on his face and Gaius cursed through grit teeth. Quickly he turned around, trying to look nonchalant and glanced at Kael.
[#DAA520 “I think I’ve been compromised. Demon, far left on the catwalk, and green eyes. Another Sin Demon… It’s Greed. Vampires on the edge can probably smell us too… I think we may have walked into a trap…”]
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