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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…”]
Eris held something up to Dahlia but she wasn’t entirely sure what it was until she came back to the room. The sweet smell of glazed chicken and noodles came from the white and red plastic bag and her mouth was watering. Snatching the food from her friend, the petit woman took a seat on the messy bed and began to unwrap her breakfast, if it could even be considered that at this time of day. She didn’t think about it too much before getting into the honey-glazed concoction with the chopsticks provided. It was quite different from their favorite place back in NYC but it was still delicious.
Taking in all of what the taller woman was saying, Dahlia was kind of shocked they still made these old disposable cameras. They were relics of the past now that everyone had a camera on their phone. But she was thankful they hadn’t faded out just yet. She took it with her free hand, the other still busy with her eating utensils. [b “We’ll have to find a dark room at some point.”] She wouldn’t be able to trust any one else with developing this sort of thing. There was no saying what they were going to capture on this film and she wasn’t about to have it confiscated or ruined because someone reported or mishandled it. [b “I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get pictures with them always three feet away, but I will try.”] Sitting back, she thought about where she would stash it while it wasn’t in use.
What came out of Eris’ mouth next made both the chicken she was holding and her jaw drop. Thankfully the sticky morsel fell back into the Styrofoam container, saving her the effort of cleaning it up. Although, that wasn’t where her thoughts were at the moment. All her focus was on the comment and she didn’t know how to respond to it. While technically Eris wasn’t wrong, as almost every supernatural person they’d met so far was ridiculously attractive, she hadn’t been expecting her friend to change opinions so suddenly. Just yesterday she was wildly paranoid about both Kael and Gaius and that usually trumped everything for Eris. With her brain stalling, Dahlia didn’t have time to say anything before her friend reached out in attempt to steal some of her food.
Snapping out of her silence, Dahlia went to smack her friend with her chopsticks, purposefully missing. [b “Hey, that’s mine. Just because you probably ate all of yours doesn’t mean you can have mine too!”] She was mainly joking, as the small mortal really didn’t mind the minor thievery.
Narrowing her eyes at the other woman, she could tell she didn’t particularly want to stay on the subject. Not keen on forcing her into talking, Dahlia would save it for later. [b “We’re not done with this, got it?”] She expected full details and updates after Eris had time to sit on it a little longer.
Getting a little further through her meal, the brunette was pretty much full. Something about Chinese food filled her up fast, but she was sure she would be able to finish it off in an hour or so. That’s just how it was. Closing the to go container, her thoughts were on the night before. [b “Hey, did that ambrosia stuff have any weird effects on you?”] She eyed her friend curiously. [b “I mean, I can’t say for sure that was it… but I don’t know what else could have done it.”] Looking to her side, Dahlia’s brow furrowed.
[b “I’m pretty sure it pushed my tattoo out.”] It was a strange sentence, mainly because it was a strange occurrence. To prove it she pulled up her shirt. Her skin was still faintly streaked with the mixture of ink and blood, but where she’d thought she might have a scar was practically healed. Was that another effect of the ambrosia? The woman didn’t keep her side revealed for long, instead moving to her arm. [b “I got really paranoid after that. I rewrote it on my arm.”] By now she was feeling better about it. Perhaps she would let the already faded marker disappear and be done with it. It wasn’t like it meant anything to her. The symbols were something that her bat shit crazy, cultist parents had put on her as a kid. Subsequently, she lived with her grandmother after that. Child services wasn’t a particularly big fan of tatting up five year olds after all. Eris knew all of this already; she was one of the few people Dahlia had told. Everyone else was fed the lie that it was some sort of manta she got one drunken college night. [b “I don’t know what it means, but I figured I should at least tell someone.”]
Outside, Kael pulled the stud from his ear, returning to his natural form. Even if the change was minor, he felt less stuffy this way. More comfortable, he listened to Gaius confirm what Eris had told him in more detail. He wasn’t entirely happy having to rely on the malcontent, but he would trust Gaius with this one. They would just have to be sure to steer the girls clear if for some reason they needed to meet.
Standing from his seat on the couch, the snake demon came in closer when it came to the online ad. He skimmed over it. [b “It’s definitely promising. I don’t see any harm in giving it a try… and I am confident the girls will want to come along. Eris was rather upset at missing out on the second half of last night.”] And if she went, Dahlia was bound to come along as well. They would be in full force. [b “What day is it?”] Glancing down to the bottom corner of the screen, he took note of the date. It wasn’t normally something he kept track of. It was indeed Thursday; they only needed to sit around for a few hours. Lucky them.
He hummed, pleased that they wouldn’t have to wait long. [b “Guess I’ll go let them know the plan. Double check that they are onboard.”] Straightening back up, Kael headed back to the room that had been handed down to the ladies. He wrapped lightly on the wooden door, waiting for a response before opening it. The bright-eyed man took only a single step in, keeping the door open so it would be easy for Gaius to hear. This way he wouldn’t have to relay anything.
[b “Gaius found us a new lead.”] Gaze falling in the direction on the bed, where both mortal woman sat, he spoke languidly. [b “There’s an advert calling out to outcasts and the likes. They meet tonight, we were going to take a look to see if it might be a similar operation to what’s probably happening up in New York. You two in?”]
When an affirmative answer came his way, his lips curled into a warm smile. [b “Glad to hear it… It will only take about thirty minutes to get to the meeting site, so you have a couple of hours to get ready.”] The comment was more aimed at Dahlia who had quite clearly just rolled out of bed.
He turned to leave, then stopped short. [b “Oh, and there’s a chance this might turn out to be nothing more than a quote unquote, weird fetish group,”] He used his hands for emphasis here. [b “So dress accordingly.”] The advice was mainly given in humor, but there was a hint of sincerity. They weren’t going to get in if they all looked like a bunch of normies.
With a plan set and limited time to sit back, stint went a little faster for Kael. He picked up whatever show it was that he brother found. It was awful, but he had a feeling he wouldn’t find anything better by randomly clicking through the channels. The girls basically stuck to their own thing, and Gaius seemed quite content on the computer. It was a little boring, but with how chaotic life had been, it was kind of nice.
When the time came, Kael returned the earing to his person. They needed to keep a low profile, well low profile for a couple of demons. Admittedly, he was a little interested in how his partner would look under the glamor. And he wasn’t the only one; he could see Dahlia watching the wrath demon with curious eyes when they grouped up by the door to leave. The human’s had taken his advice, opting for darker clothing. Nothing screamed ‘I’m misunderstood,’ but they did the best with what they had. Honestly, it wasn’t much of a change for Eris, although he noticed her makeup did look different than before. So there was that.
Eris didn’t want to readily admit it, but her opinion of Kael had changed drastically in the short afternoon they’d spent together running errands. Dare she admit it? Perhaps she actually liked him! When he’d smiled and laughed at her satisfied food baby, she felt pesky butterflies in her stomach. Of course she stamped them down as soon as they appeared, this guy had openly attacked her… then saved her… once from that crazy ass valkyrie, and then a vampire. He’d been hard to figure out, but with the passing afternoon she had discovered he wasn’t as bad as she originally thought. By the time they reached the safe house, Eris was eyeballing Kael with something like appreciation.
He told her to place the groceries wherever she liked, but with one look inside the small fridge that was available she knew she wouldn’t have trouble finding places for groceries. There was nothing in here but a couple bags of blood, and a carton of Strawberries that had Gaius’ name written on it with a demon emoji beside his name. It wasn’t long into her sorting out the groceries that she could hear Kael and his brother arguing. She couldn’t help but listen in curiously and when she looked over the countertop towards the room she could see Gaius listening to them as well and he caught her gaze. If she didn’t know any better, she would say Gaius was amused by the sibling squabble. It was interesting to know that Kael had placed a bug in Max’s loft. She didn’t know how well that would work, but she’d be willing to go back and actually place one in his office. Eris just didn’t like the idea of losing memory again while in the Magister’s presence.
Their argument ended with Kael putting his foot down and Cornelius having no choice but to acquiesce. He stormed from the room and slammed his door in the process. Eris stood uncertain in the kitchen, waiting to see what happened next…
Gaius wheeled his chair around to give Kael a look, it was one of general indifference, but Gaius offered what might have been a compliment.
[#DAA520 “Bravo. That’s a first, I’ve never seen him pout like that.”]
[b “That should keep him out of our hair for now. Although, I can’t say for certain he will give up on playing baby sitter.”]
Gaius waved a hand at the admission, not bothering to worry about it. They had bigger issues than Cornelius wanting to be an overprotective pain in the ass. Gaius had several centuries on both the Neu Brothers, if age was a factor in ability to protect, than Cornelious should have had no problem trust Gaius. Unfortunately not many trusted Sin demons.
[#DAA520 “A Baby sitter isn’t a bad idea, especially with our little mortals. Extra eyes will help, but you’re right… he needs to stay out of our business-“] He was cut off by the creaking of a door near the far back of the safe house, and looked to see Dahlia sticking her head out the room. She wanted to know if everything was alright. Gaius shamelessly stared at her. Her sleepy eyes and mussed hair gave her a sweetly innocent look. Eris was there in no time to assure her friend everything was fine.
[#B22222 “Just a male pissing contest… you know how those things go. More importantly, look! It’s your favorite!”] She played it off with her cheshire grin, and showed Dahlia the Chinese takeout she’d brought with her. She carried the bag of food into their shared room for private conversation for themselves and the two demons. If the men could keep secrets why couldn’t they?
Eris closed the door behind them carefully and moved to sit down on the bed with Dahlia while she ate her food.
[#B22222 “That was a little tense… Definitely some family issues going on, but good news. I started writing our article. It’s not much, but I managed to hide it on a cloud based server. I should be able to access it anywhere, and they won’t be the wiser about it. Also…”] She smirked devilishly as she removed a small item from the bag she carried into the bedroom. [#B22222 “Don’t laugh. It’s not your old Nikon, but it should help. Just don’t let them find it.”] It was one of those older disposable film cameras. She whispered in warning, handing the camera over to Dahlia. [#B22222 “I’m assuming you know how to use this relic from our distant childhoods.”]
Dahlia assured her she could, and Eris was able to relax once Dahlia managed to hide her disposable camera. Eris sighed then falling into the bed beside Dahlia and letting her eat her food while Eris relaxed. [#B22222 “Nice afternoon though. Kael took me to get groceries. We now have food and will no longer starve. He also… took me to lunch. He isn’t all that bad. He’s actually… kinda cute,”] Eris chuckled goodheartedly at Dahlia’s admonishment before she reached over and stole a bite of her food so the topic wouldn’t linger.
In the main room, Gaius turned his chair back and forth with a new stress ball in his clawed hand. He took their private time to fill Kael in on the contact he’d reached out to. A Succubus, who still lived in Hell, but had close ties to Malcontents. Hell her whole family considered themselves Malcontents -even she believed that Humans were for Paranormal Consumption. Case in point why she wasn’t allowed on Earth.
[#DAA520 “I should hear back from her soon. She is a Malcontent, but she values her life more than the cause. Only time will tell, which is something we don’t have a lot of… That means we get to play the waiting game… if you want to wait for her to get back… I did find an add on Craigslist that looks… interesting.”] He smirked bringing up the internet window on the computer to show the add.
-Open Minded individuals seeking acceptance in new club. Welcome all freaks and geeks who love all things anti-establishment, anti-religion, occult, witches, vampires and paranormal freakiness. Come find like minded individuals who share your ideas and beliefs in a truer greater purpose. Meet every Thursday night at 7pm at the old Packaging Warehouse on Elm St. In the Industrial Park.
-All Hail The Dark Lord
Gaius smirked at the screen. It sounded like bait to humans desperate for inclusion. Those types were generally the sort of person to go missing. [#DAA520 “Best case it’s some weird fetish group, worst case, we find what we’ve been looking for. Think the girls would be up for some more fun times?”] he asked in an almost challenging way. Gaius had never been good at sitting idle, and any lead no matter how insignificant was something to follow up on, and Gaius had clearly already decided to go with or without back up.
Kael was slightly relieved that Dahlia’s attention grabbing was not new. It was one less thing to worry about, at least for now. Although, he still didn’t see the appeal. Shrugging he spoke, [b “Yeah, she’s not really my type so I guess I missed that.”] And he would probably continue to as well. Between his distinct lack of interest, and the fact that Gaius and or Eris was always in view, checking the other mortal out wasn’t high on his to do list. One of them was bound to smack the shit out of him if he looked at her the wrong way.
When she brought up his partner, Kael was less sure of what he should say. In the end he sighed. [b “Yeah, I’ve noticed… I’ve never seen him act like this with anything before.”] Then he chuckled some. [b “But I really don’t think you need to worry about him eating her. Despite everything that’s happened so far, I’m fairly sure she’s safe around him.”] The demon wasn’t about to go into the details, however he hoped that would put her at ease. Eris really didn’t need any more anxiety. Like she had mentioned, her stress levels were way too high. It was going to start affecting her health, and he really didn’t want that.
Conversation coming back to Max, the currently dark haired man kept silent. His mind went to what Dahlia had been saying the night before. That something was going wrong with Eris. Had the magister actually done something to her? She looked fine when they saw her, just sleeping. Now more than ever he was glad that he bugged the room, he only wished he’d done it before they left to meet with Desmond so that he had more insight to what might have happened while they were away. She seemed concerned that her memory was failing. [b “Don’t worry about it, I’m sure it will come to you later.”] He smiled, not entirely sure it was the truth.
Kael planned to pay special attention to the audio now; although it was liable nothing would come up. The urge to use one of the women as bait flickered at the back of his mind. More Dahlia than Eris, as the rather outspoken woman had gone though enough. But he wouldn’t mention it as they went on. That being said he lost it when she mentioned the food baby. Kael laughed outwardly as she touched her tummy.
When Eris returned to him, groceries in hand, he offered to take some of the haul. Her reply was not needed as he took half of what she carried despite her answer. He would have taken all of the bags, but she seemed the type to feel bad when not pulling her weights so he split it down the middle. Then they were back on their way to the house.
[b “So what’s the plan for tonight? Any leads for us to follow?”]
Kael’s currently dark eyes fell to the mortal. She was just as antsy as they were to get to the bottom of this mess. [b “I think we will probably spend tonight waiting.”] He thought about it a little more. There wasn’t a lot to do with what they had. [b “Our best bet is whoever Gaius is trying to contact. We may not be able to act until he hears back.”] But there was no saying for sure if that would pan out. [b “… If that fails, I bugged Max’s loft. It’s a long shot that we will get anything out of it, but those are really our only two viable options for the time being.”] The snake demon hadn’t shared this tidbit of information with Gaius quite yet. He would make sure to pass it along later.
Arriving back at the safe house, everything was as they left it. Well almost. Cornelius was now eyeing him suspiciously from the couch. The younger of the Neu brothers shrugged, as though their delayed return wasn’t entirely his fault. Unloading the small armful of groceries onto a table, he would leave finding a place for them up to Eris. She could decide what was convenient for her and Dahlia. [b “Wherever you want these is fine. Feel free to moves stuff around if you need.”] From that he went directly to Cornelius, sitting next to him on the couch. With any luck, they could keep this conversation out in the living area. Then everyone involved would know just what he planned on omitting. [b “So what do you want to know?”]
Sighing Cornelius stared at Kael expectantly. [b “Why did you meet with the Magister, and what did you find out?”] It was basic. He didn’t need every detail, but those things were kind of a big deal. The brunette hated being the only one out of the loop here. He’d come to make sure they didn’t get in too much trouble, which was damn near impossible with how Kael was acting. He knew his brother liked to keep his privacy, but there was a limit to how selfish he could be when they were in crisis like this.
[b “Magister Max happens to own the club we went to. He spotted us as soon as we showed up and called us to have a chat with him. It was rocky, but he told us where Desmond would be in return for whatever information we got from him.”] Kael kept a cool air to him as he spoke. He was still in glamor; he would remove the earring once this was through. [b “What we found was disappointing. Desmond didn’t know anything. Despite helping his friend worm his way into that internship, there was no plan on his end to make a hit against Atlas… I can tell when that guy is lying, and he wasn’t. Now we are back to square one.”]
Cornelius’ expression turned to one of skepticism. Kael wouldn’t have avoided this so fervently if that was all there was to it. [b “What else?”]
[b “Huh?”] The unnaturally dark haired man stared at his brother with a look of confusion. [b “The hell are you talking about?”]
[b “You’re not half as clever as you think, Kael. What else is there?”]
He kept eye contact for a long time, and then sighed. [b “Fine, I bugged Max’s place. He was acting suspicious, I wanted to know what he is covering up.”]
Bright red eyes widening, Cornelius did not look pleased. [b “You what?!”]
[b “I wire tapped his club.”] The admission was the lesser of two evils and would throw Cornelius off of what he was really hiding. His brother might not have thought he was clever, and he may have been right, but at the very least he knew how to outwit him.
[b “You can’t do that, if someone discovers what you’ve done you are going to wind up in serious trouble!”]
Kael shrugged again. [b “That’s only if I get caught.”]
[b “You are taking this too lightly.”] The older demon narrowed his eyes at his brother. [b “You can’t just do as you please all the time, there are consequences. These things won’t fall back on just you, why don’t you ever think about that?”]
[b “I have considered it. Why do you think I’m doing all this?”] His voice remained even notwithstanding the anger that was laced into it. [b “With no leads we are forced to suspect everyone… This is my job, and I’d appreciate it if you kept your nose out of how I do my business.”] He was a grown man; he didn’t need his older brother telling him what to do. [b “And if you don’t think you can manage that, I’d appreciate it if you left.”] It was point blank, but Kael wasn’t in the best of moods.
About half way through what Kael was saying, Cornelius could feel himself seething. [b “You are a fool.”] He glared fiercely as he insulted him. From there he opted to stand and walk away; he thought it better than letting the situation escalate too much further. And while Kael expected him to leave the compound, he heard the door to their room slam toward the back of the apartment.
[b “That should keep him out of our hair for now.”] He looked over to Gaius who was still sitting at the computer. [b “Although, I can’t say for certain he will give up on playing baby sitter.”]
Eyes opening groggily at the bang that reverberated down the hall, Dahlia looked to the clock. It was not helpful, as she didn’t remember when she fell to sleep. Somewhat fearful that something had gone wrong, she slipped out of bed and poked her head out the door. Catching sight of people in the living room, she called out. [b “Is everything alright?”]
The woman saw Kael nod at her, so she stepped back into the bedroom. The petite woman didn’t think she would be able to fall back to sleep at this point so she opted to pull some pants on and regroup with the others. She was pleasantly surprised to find Chinese food waiting for her.
Eris dove into her food, wielding her chopsticks like a master and collecting mounds of rice and spicy chicken to stuff in her mouth. She shamelessly devoured her food. Humans gotta eat, right? She didn’t speak a word as Kael told her about their escapades last night, she was too busy eating to respond, and she didn’t even care that he wasn’t eating. He confessed he wasn’t sure who Gaius’ contact was, and that he most likely came directly from Hell. So Hell was a real place… figures. It also figured that a demon of literal Biblical Proportions would have a ton contacts to pick from. Still, from the sounds of things she had to agree that the other bar would have been worlds better than… what did she do last night? The events were still a little hazy. Had Max done something to her?
“So does Dahlia always garner so much attention, or is this new as of entering the world of Lore?” He asked. Eris finally slowed her eating and chewed thoughtfully. She’d never really thought about it, but sometimes weird things definitely happened more often when Dahlia was around.
“Dahlia always draws attention, I mean, have you seen her? She’s like a petite Victoria Secrets Model. Men flock to her…” Eris tried to joke it off, but knew she really couldn’t. “She definitely drew me to her in the beginning. There’s a… warmth about her that’s inviting.” She took another thoughtful bite of her food before continuing. “Weirdos always go up to her in the streets, like that homeless guy on the way to your place in NYC. Usually they’re harmless, other times they obviously want to take advantage of her genuine kindness, but since getting mixed up with you guys it’s like there’s a spot light on her. Makes me uncomfortable and has added a ton of unexplainable stress to my already high levels…” She groaned, but popped another bite into her mouth.
She glanced at Kael and tried to gauge his belief in her, before finally poking at him a bit with her own observations. “What about Gaius? Does he always fawn over tiny humans the way he’s obviously doing over Dahlia? You have noticed right? I catch him watching her like a hungry wolf… all. the. time! Just waiting for the right moment to strike her down. Like he wants to eat her,” Eris cringed at the thought when she had the foggiest memory of talking to Max about Dahlia. It cause her brow to suddenly furrow. “Now that I think about it… Max seemed interested in Dahlia too… he.. asked me questions, but… that’s so weird, can’t remember them, it’s all foggy and then nothing.” She frowned looking mildly embarrassed by that, but shrugged it off and took the last bite from her plate.
Where she packed all that food no one would know, but Eris ate every bite and placed all her things together for the young kid who came to bus the table and hand Eris Dahlia’s meal. She didn’t know when she’d get to eat again, but at least she’d have some food back at the safe house. From there it was back to collecting the groceries that Eris had ordered. Outside the sun was bright, blindingly so and Eris promptly put a pair of sunglasses on. She enjoyed going out during the day, but preferred if the sun wasn’t overly hot or shinning like a damn super nova.
“I have a Grade A food baby, thank you for that,” She teased patting her stomach with a grin, and falling in line beside him as they made their way down the sidewalk.
It wasn’t a long walk, just a quick block, but surprisingly there were plenty of people about, and plenty of them took passing glances at Kael as he passed. She supposed he was good looking with the glamour on, but she preferred his natural look. Red eyes and all. She would have thought with Kael being a snake demon he’d like to be out in the sun, what with reptiles being endothermic. Maybe she was missing something to that, maybe it was some sort of ‘Creatures of the Night’ nonsense that made Kael recoil from too much light. Gaius didn’t even dare to venture out in the sun, and she wondered how a massive ball of gas in space could cause one demon to literally hide in the shadows and the other cringe in its presence.
It took no time at all for Eris to get their groceries. She walked right up to the Customer Service counter where they offered Online Pickup, gave them her order number and got her goods. Victorious with her haul, Eris emerged from the store with arms full of groceries, and with Kael made her way back to the Safe House. “So what’s the plan for tonight? Any leads for us to follow?”
Gaius stared at the ceiling from where he sat at the computer… purposely not speaking to Cornelius. He wouldn’t talk to the other Neu Brother unless Kael was around. Dahlia had been sleeping like a rock, and with Cornelius there it wasn’t like Gaius could do what he wanted and watch her sleep. As it was, he was still waiting to hear back from his contact in Hell that was going to check out the Malumortis for him. He checked the clock and saw that not much time had passed, but that Kael and Eris had been gone well over an hour at that point. He was curious to know what Eris had seen or heard during her time with Max, but that would have to wait. There was still the issue about Daddy Dearest that was unsettling to Gaius. He couldn’t go against his father, for starters Amon would rip Gaius to shreds. The whole: ‘I brought you into this world, I can take you out of it…’ literally applied to Amon and Gaius’ relationship. Gaius had come to Earth in part because it was what he wanted, and the other part because his father expelled him from their home. Said he was too soft on Mortals…
With a glance in the direction of Dahlia’s room, that was an understatement. He had soft, hard and hungry spots all for one mortal in particular. In his hand he held a stress ball which suddenly ruptured in his clawed hand. He watched absentmindedly as the granules of sand fell down to the floor from between his fingers. With a quick sigh, Gaius reached down and began to clean up the mess before Cornelius could start to complain. Honestly, Gaius wished the man would find somewhere else to hide, and stop trying to get involved with PC tasks. If the man wanted to be an Agent for the Covenant he should look into career changes through the right channels instead of hoping to tag onto theirs. At least that was how Gaius saw it, and most of his irritation came from not being able to be alone with Dahlia. All he wanted was a chance to not be the scary wrath demon and try to show her a more… compassionate side of his personality. Funny since Gaius generally disliked mortals, but with Dahlia he was protective. As he cleaned up the mess from his ruptured stress ball he stared down the hallway her room was located and listened for her steady heartbeat… a calming metronome that was miraculously keeping him grounded and calm, despite everything that was going on in his mind.
Kael was a little confused when she ordered two plates of food. Was she that hungry? Then he remembered that Dahlia was passed out back at the house and would probably be starving when she woke up too. Did these girls ever stop thinking about one another? It really didn’t seem like it, but hey, they’d be easier to keep an eye on if they were basically magnets for one another.
About that time he noticed she was just about scowling at him from across the table. The demon wasn’t sure what he had done wrong, or at least recently done wrong, to warrant the look. He didn’t care to ask, nor did he have time, as Eris started asking her own questions rapid fire, only stopping when her food arrived.
It seemed Gaius had filled her in for the most part; Kael didn’t feel like having to go over everything multiple times. Especially since he got the feeling Eris would be just as probing as his brother. However, there wasn’t anything to hide from her so she was definitely the more enjoyable one to talk to.
As Eris ate, Kael took the opportunity to start giving answers before she started adding to the list again. [b “I’m not sure who his contact was.”] Admittedly, Gaius’ network was extensive; there wasn’t enough for him to go off of just knowing he was talking to someone. [b “Sin demons generally come directly from hell and spend a lot of time there, so there’s a pretty long list of people it might have been… I just hope whoever it was is trustworthy.”] Sighing, he didn’t really want a repeat of what happened with Ursula. Not to mention if Lucifer was a part of this plot it was going to be difficult to know who to trust in hell. This whole situation was a hot mess.
He was glad to have a more concrete answer to her other inquiry. [b “It depends on the bar.”] Kael chuckled, knowing she wouldn’t appreciate the vagueness. But he continued on immediately so it wasn’t like she would be too terribly mad. [b “Just like human bars it depends on the place, but where he stopped last night was along the lines of a dive or tavern. Not super exciting, but leagues better than sitting around with Max.”] The last bit betraying his great distaste for angels. [b “But if it is any consolation, you didn’t miss much.”]
Leaning forward, he rested his head on his palm. [b “It was pretty seedy, but we didn’t encounter any problems, at least not any of consequence.”] He thought about the troll holding the door and the couple of friends Desmond had as backup. They had been pretty lucky over all. Although, he wasn’t sure it made up for how unlucky they had been at the angelic club.
Kael let the woman eat for a bit, before pushing the conversation any further. [b “So does Dahlia always garner so much attention, or is this new as of entering the world of lore?”] Personally, he didn’t get it. Sure she had an unusually strong presence of light, but people were losing their shit. Both of these women were strange. He wanted to get to the bottom of it, but for now they had bigger fish to fry.
As Eris finished eating, the demon was a little surprised she finished the entire thing. The portions here were not small, they weren’t even regular. Places like this always seemed to give out heaping plates. He once again noted to make sure they gave the girls a chance to eat. It would be easier as soon as they got the groceries back to the house. At least then they could graze during down times.
Someone behind the counter must have been paying attention, because no sooner than her plate was cleared the bored teen returned holding a plastic bag containing their to go order. Kael took it from the kid, thanking him, as Eris bused her plate. Standing he met up with her over by the door to leave.
From there it was a short stroll over to the market. The overhead covering kept them out of the sun, which he appreciated. Even if his glamor warded off its effects on him, he felt uncomfortable standing around in direct daylight. The supermarket itself had incandescent lights. There were a few that flickered intermittently up above, but that was common in places like this. It was hard for humans to get up that high just to change a light bulb.
It was interesting to Eris to hear Kael talk about how he was born, his mother, his family dynamic, and that he grew up in a different realm aside from Hell. She had to wonder how many different worlds there were. Was it a multi-verse? Or were there just numerous worlds all interconnected with Earth? She frowned as she realized answers to her first questions only left her with more, and she didn’t want to bother him with it. She also had to wonder if it might be best the less she knew. Still, she was a journalist, and it was in her nature to be curious.
She could see the Grocery up ahead. The small parking lot was packed, but to be honest, she was more shocked it had a parking lot. This was LA and parking was a precious commodity, just like in NYC. Eris didn’t think too hard on it, the sun was out, the bustle of the city was entertaining to watch, and she was just happy to be outside taking in the sights as she listened to Kael answer her questions. However, it was a question he posed to her that had her stopping.
Get a bite to eat? She didn’t think he ate. Wait, was he asking to get lunch with her? She wasn’t sure how to take that. He really didn’t seem the type or that he was at all interested in herself or Dahlia.
“Eat with you?” she asked, cursing herself when it sounded almost accusatory. He clarified he wasn’t hitting on her, but that his brother was nosey and he didn’t want to go back too soon and have to deal with it. She didn’t have siblings, she didn’t know what that was like, but she knew what it was like to try and avoid conversations with people -mostly coworkers. She was hungry, there was no denying that, and as if sensing she was tempted to say yes, he picked a restaurant.
He chose the Chinese place that she had smelled from a block away. It had smelled delicious, and furthered her hunger. Before she could even protest or agree he had opened the door with a smile. She tried to hide her grin as she slinked past him into the restaurant and looked around. It looked like any other Chinese Restaurant one might find in the USA. There was a wide banner with photos and names of the dishes. Eris didn’t need that, she was New Yorker now, and she’d ordered her fair share of chinese food in the past. Without hesitation she jumped right up to the countertop and ordered a meal for carry out, Dahlia’s favorite; and then ordered for herself.
“General Tso’s! Extra spicy, with steamed white rice, and a crab ragoon instead of an egg roll, please!” For her drink she got a large bottle of water and sat down with Kael to wait for her food. She wasn’t surprised he didn’t order food, and the staff didn’t seem to care.
Sitting across from him, she studied him closely as he messed with the paper on his straw. His glamor worked perfectly, if she hadn’t known any better she’d have thought he was a plain ol’ human. She didn’t like it. It wasn’t a good look on him. She couldn’t believe she was thinking it, but she preferred his red eyes and green hair.
“Gaius filled me in on what happened last night,” She said striking up conversation. “We talked while everyone else went to bed, but uhh… I caught him talking to someone… he said it was a contact from Hell? You wouldn’t happen to know about it would you? I got the feeling he didn’t tell me [i everything] that happened last night.” she shrugged playing it off, and then leaned across the table to whisper. “So what’s a demon bar like? I bet it was loads more interesting than that Club, Max was boooooring!” She sighed dramatically, but her theatrics were cut short as a large plate steaming with hot food was delivered to the table. She gasped, her mouth practically watering and quickly snapped a pair of chopsticks before digging in.
Kael hadn’t expected her to get this excited at his proposition. It starkly contrasted the general air she had about her, but then again he really only been around her a few days. And stressful times like these didn’t exactly allow a person’s true personality to shine though. He knew he hadn’t exactly been himself either.
Seeing her bound about to get the things she needed to go out, the snake of a man smiled. An expression that wouldn’t soon fade. They were out the door and on the way to whatever store she had mentioned in no time flat. He didn’t bother remembering the name since she was basically leading the way. What probably would have been a rather dull walk got a lot more interesting as he watched her bounce down the walkway jauntily. He snickered quietly, what was she a kid?
It wasn’t till the Sun caught the golden pendant of the necklace that he came to realize she was still wearing it. She looked good in it, but it was baffling as to why it wasn’t doing its job properly. He decided that instead of dwelling on it he would revel in the fact that he had picked something that she seemed to like well enough to want to keep on her person. It was satisfying.
[b “Dahlia was right you know.”]
Her words snapped him from his reverie. Kael listened intently as she spoke of her childhood. He held back laughter when he heard what Eris’ grandmother used to call her. It could have been taken two ways. The first, that she had been a rather spirited child. This was likely. The second, that her grandmother didn’t like her very much. Greece had a feral cat problem so he wasn’t sure it was the nicest moniker, but with how warmheartedly she seemed to look back on it, he was sure it had to have been said lovingly and that Eris had only been full of energy.
[b “I think the nickname fits you quite well, you must have been close with your grandmother.”] He was curious as to how she had ended up in the states, but before he could ask Eris was asking questions of her own.
He wasn’t surprised at the conflicted accounts, as they were both correct in a way. [b “It really depends on the demon or creature, however I personally was born.”] She had been kind enough to share some of her story, so he only thought it fair to do so back. Plus he didn’t see any harm in it. [b “I grew up between this plane and another that you probably wouldn’t recognize. It’s where most of our politics take place. My father’s family has always been a part of that.”] Thinking of his did lead him to also feel the need to mention his mom. [b “We didn’t spend a lot of time in hell. My mother had a falling out with some of the people who run things over there… She is… paranoid, and a tad overbearing.”] That was probably the kindest way to word it. [b “But she means well and loves her family a lot. She puts us before anything, a trait that has rubbed off on Cornelius.”] He rolled his eyes as he thought about it. That was probably why his brother had been so eager to rush into his business. Kael loved his family well enough, but couldn’t stand to have someone constantly looking over his shoulder. He wanted his space. Not to mention some of them didn’t know how to let sleeping dogs lie.
After all that he felt as though he may have dragged on a little too long. Store was even in sight. At this time of days mortals were swarming the place, hundreds of cars in the lot. It reeked of exhaust but that was nothing new in Los Angeles. Along with the main supermarket a couple of smaller shops took up residence in the complex.
A thought then occurred to him. [b “Hey, would you like to stop and get a bite before getting the groceries?”] It was nothing fancy, but he sure one of the food spots was bound to sound good to her. He also didn’t think she had a reason to decline seeing as Dahlia would likely be asleep for a few more hours. [b “You know, not in a creepy hitting on you way. I just know my brother is going to be on my ass for information as soon as we get back. I don’t really want to deal with it.”] Kael was pretty sure he was going to stick to the truth with a few omissions. It wouldn’t be hard, but he was generally tedious to answer the barrage of questions that came along.
Eris looked as though she was considering it, so he took a harder look at the small restaurants that filled in the covered walkway. Most of them were fast food chains, but there was a Chinese place that looked more like a mom and pop shop. At the very least it didn’t stink of fry oil and preservatives. [b “Here, this one smells nice.”] Kind of corralling her toward the door, he opened it with a sly smile. [b “After you.”]
Inside they the décor was sparse, but a few of the tables were taken up with customers. They walked up to an order counter where a rather bored looking young man tended the register. From there you could see a woman at work in the back. There was a tarp like menu was strung up in plain view above the boy’s head. Every entry was done up in large writing making it easy to see and read. Kael really wasn’t in the mood to eat, but he would order a drink just to keep face.
That noise turned out to be Kael’s brother entering the living area. She blushed harder when her stomach growled again for food and at his apology.
“It’s cool, it’s not like you were expecting us,” She said simply and went back to her internet search. She tried to keep to herself, but she had felt eyes on her. It made her slightly uncomfortable considering everything that had happened and that the events of last night were a huge vague blur. She kept herself distracted by reading the news, watching cat videos on Youtube, and playing with Eve. She didn’t talk to Cornelius, but would on occasion look over to the TV he was watching.
By the time she heard a shower running, Eve was wrapped up around her shoulders and neck, resting her head flush under her chin. The constrictor was well behaved and gave Eris an outlet to pour her restless energy into. More often than not in the long wait she had paced around the room. No doubt driving Cornelius crazy, even if he didn’t show it. She was out of cigarettes, there were no windows, and she needed to go outside and slink along the city streets with the people. She was ready to tackle Cornelius and make a break for the door when he finally spoke.
Kael was awake and wearing his glamor. She surprisingly perked right now, looking between the brothers as they bantered when he finally addressed her.
“Oh, it’s not far from here...” she began but he saw something else. She frowned, did she had something on her face? No, it had something to do with Dahlia getting mouthy with that angel from last night. She wondered what the Angel had said for Dahlia to say those things, but they were all correct and true. She couldn’t believe how excited she became when he asked if she’d want to tag along. Before she had a chance to answer though, the brothers were back to the bickering. Eris didn’t know what that was like, having been an only child.
She remained hesitant, watching them, even as she slowly unfurled Eve from around her. The snake gave her a chiding look as if to say: I was warm there, and I was sleeping! How Rude! She’d have to bring her a mouse as recompense.
“You’re sure I can go with you?” She asked unsure. Kael only looked at her and added,
[b “This way you can also grab anything that was forgotten on that list, or that I chose poorly on.”]
Eris didn’t bother with a reply she grabbed her black leather jacket and pull it on, eager to leave. Standing at the door she wore a grin. Her obvious excitement was answer enough. She also knew Dahlia would be safe here without her, so she wasn’t concerned and waited for Kael to open the door and all its locks. She all but skipped out the door and up the passageway and into the sunshine. There was no point in her wearing a glamour as hers didn’t work, but that didn’t retract from her actually wearing it. If all it did was change her eye color, then she’d keep wearing it because she liked it.
Her mood improved immensely once she was outside. Winter in LA was more like late spring in New York, and with the bright sun, Eris didn’t have to worry about being cold. She was glad to be out, but she wasn’t alone and being with Kael meant she’d have to be extra sneaky to get her hands on a disposable camera for Dahlia, and a burner phone... how else would she be able to contact Ross? No doubt Kael would be pissed if he knew Eris had plans to write her article and get photos out. More so if he found out she wanted to reach someone on the outside. Hoping to keep his relaxed and trusting of her Eris decided to strike up conversation with him. He was the only one she hadn’t really spoke with yet. She had Gaius had sorted themselves out, the bulking brute ended up being cooler than she expected. He was still fucking terrifying though. With his height, those horns, and his eyes? Yikes.
“Dahlia was right you know?” Eris began as she walked down the sidewalk with Kael towards the grocery store she’d ordered from. “I don’t like being stuck inside for too long. I’ll go stir crazy with nothing to do. [i Giagia], my grandmother used to call me Agria Gata when I was little. It means Wild Cat. She said I was always coming and going just like a cat, but wild enough I couldn’t stay inside all day. She used to send me out to play in the streets until supper and then much to my displeasure to bed...” she smiled fondly at the memory of her grandmother, and the streets of her small Grecian town where she grew up. It seemed so long ago, and it felt odd to talk about her past, but not so much with Kael. Curiously, she glanced over at him and frowned. “Were you ever a child? I’ve heard conflicting myths that some demons are born and others are made... What was that like? Did you grow up in Hell or some other world unknown to my kind?”
Cornelius spent much of the night worrying over what was happening outside of the house and a great sense of relief came over him when the four returned. His brother especially. He didn’t like this feeling of helplessness, but it had become commonplace over the past few days. There was information he wanted to get out of Kael, but by the time his younger brother came home that morning he was much too exhausted to have a serious conversation. And there was no doubt in Cornelius’ mind that he would push it off after that too.
The master bedroom was suit-like and gave him enough room to do his own thing while his sibling slept. He passed time reading some of the books stocked on their parent’s shelves. While there wasn’t anything that particular took his interest, it gave his mind something to focus on. That being said he was easily distracted by the sound of footsteps down the hall. One of the girls had gotten up, though Cornelius couldn’t tell which.
Eventually he grew bored with the book, and decided to make his way to the living area. There was a television set up there and while he didn’t generally have time for that sort of thing, he currently didn’t know what to do with himself. It was worth a shot and might gain him an indoor hobby, as apparently he was missing one.
Coming down the hall, the man heard a loud grumbling. Confused at first it only took a glance into the living room to figure out what it was. He laughed under his breath at the woman seated at the computer. When he spoke, his words still held a needless sense of formality. [b “I’m sorry, if we had known we would be keeping humans we would have stocked better.”] While demons did eat, the actual need was sparse. In between that, it was generally an action of pleasure for them.
Taking a seat on the couch, Cornelius paused before turning on the TV. He looked over at Eris with curiosity. Maybe she would be willing to get him up to pace? Not know how much of the previous nights happenings she understood, he decided against asking. Instead he pushed the button the remote and began flipping through channels until he found something even moderately interesting.
Several hours later Kael rolled out of bed. He was fully rested, or at least he wasn’t feeling the affects of the teleportation’s magic drain anymore. There was a bathroom attached to his room so the shower was his first concern. Glancing at the clock on the nightstand he’d been out for roughly six hours. It was entirely too long, but it wasn’t like there was anything else he needed to be doing at that point in time.
Out of the room, Gaius was the first one he ran into. He relayed that Eris had made an online shopping order that needed to be picked up. [b “Yeah, I can go out and get it.”] It was an excuse to be away from Cornelius, so he didn’t mind.
Running his hand through wet hair, he tried to fluff it some that it would dry faster. Kael returned to the room in order to collect his glamor. He’d need it to leave during the daytime, at least if he didn’t want to have to prowl about like a creep. And he didn’t. Fixing the small stud back into his ear, the glamor took its hold immediately and he headed out to the living area to see just where the woman had placed her order.
Eris was on the computer, while his brother took up the loveseat. He didn’t take his eyes from the flashing screen as Kael crossed the room, but he did take the time to comment. [b “Ah. Our sleeping beauty finally rises.”]
[b “Shut it.”] The quip accompanied an eye roll before he pressed on to see where he needed to be going. [b So, I hear I need to make a food run. Where did you order from?”]
As he asked the question, he could kind of see that the mortal was displeased with something. For some reason Dahlia’s words from the night before came to mind. [b “Your friend popped off to Max last night, saying something about you getting restless when you are stuck inside too long. I’m not sure if she was being serious…”] Sure Eris had left the house last night but she had spent the entirety of the night locked in that club. [b “… but do you want to come with me?”] It wouldn’t be a long trip by any means, but it might help. Plus he was low-key excited by the prospect of getting to spend time with her. He was still curious to know more about her, as she continually piqued his interest.
From behind him, Kael heard his brother shift on the couch. [b “Max? As in this district’s magister Max?”] His tone was almost accusatory; as he knew the angel also ran the nightclub they had attended.
Letting out an inaudible groan, Kael turned around. [b “Yeah, a lot happened last night. I will fill you in in later. She hasn’t eaten since yesterday morning and we kind of ruined that when we came to LA.”] Cornelius didn’t look happy to have his answers pushed off again, but he didn’t fight it. Kael was right, the girls hadn’t had anything to eat in entirely too long. He was kicking himself for forgetting such a critical thing.
Looking back to Eris he decided to try and tempt her further. [b “This way you can also grab anything that was forgotten on that list, or that I chose poorly on.”] He referred to his trip to town the day before, although this would also be convenient for forgotten food items.
What a night it had been. Gaius was more than relieved to be back at the safe house, and Eris was too. All of them were quiet as they made their way back to their bedrooms to rest. Gaius stayed up though, not really needed to sleep but maybe a few hours every two days. He wasn’t the only one. Eris had been able to sleep the majority of the night in Max’s office, and she was the most awake of them all.
She curled up with Dahlia for a little while in the bed. It didn’t take her friend long to fall asleep, and in the quiet of the room Eris began to try and recall her last memory from the night. Frowning and staring at the ceiling, Eris could only recall drinking a glass of wine and overlooking the dance floor when she felt a haze coming over her, and after that nothing. She’d never felt so well rested before either, and considering sleep was generally out of reach for her, it was incredibly odd that she slept all night in a loud dance club.
The Safehouse was quiet, with the exception of quiet voices she could hear in the living area. Slowly getting out of bed and not disturbing Dahlia, Eris crept down the hall until she could see in the living room. It was only Gaius. He stopped mid conversation and glanced over his shoulder. Eris cursed -apparently there was no sneaking up on him.
“Shouldn’t you be in bed?” he asked.
“Shouldn’t you?” Eris challenged back. He frowned but looked back to whatever was in his hand.
“I have to go. I will contact you again soon.” He clipped a small compact shut and dropped it in his pocket.
“What was that? Who were you talking to?” Eris demanded to know. Fear that Gaius might actually be a traitor swelling within her.
“It’s a compact mirror. It’s enchanted to allow communication between realms.”
“So who were you talking to?” Eris demanded to know again.
“A Contact of mine in Hell.” ERis blanched at his blunt and open answer. She wasn’t so sure. She knew how well these guys could lie.
Gaius spent the next half hour filling Eris in on everything that had happened. Informing her that they had another name, and the man they were looking for last night was found. They had managed to talk to him and worm that new name from him. When Eris asked who it was, Gaius looked her dead in the eye and said: “Amon, but you would know him as Satan. He is Lucifer’s right hand.” That had thrown Eris for a loop and she sat in dread that the Malumortis had sponsors from Hell. Why wasn’t she so surprised?
“Did your friend know anything?” Eris dared to ask.
“No, but she said she’d contact me if she heard anything.” Eris supposed she would have to be satisfied with that answer for the time being, and got up to grab her coat.
“Where are you going?” He asked in a stern fatherly way. Eris frowned.
“To get food. I didn’t see a kitchen in here, or a fridge or anything. Dahlia and I do have to eat you know?”
“Yes I know. I can’t let you leave though.” Eris grit her teeth. She wanted to go out. She wanted a black coffee a sprinkle donut, and some damn sunshine. Gaius wasn’t budging, and said once Kael was awake one of them would go get food for the girls to eat, and in the interim he placed her before a computer and made her shop for groceries online to be picked up. For the first time Eris glared at the ease of technology.
A digital shopping trip wasn’t the only thing she did on the computer. She opened up a document and began to type. Gaius had retired back to his own room, and left Eris to play on the computer.
[center [font “courier” [b Demons in Hells Kitchen]]]
[center [i Article by Eris Alcone, Photos by Dahlia Morgan]]
[font “courier” There are many things in this world we still do not understand. Is there a heaven? Is there a hell? Is there anything at all, or is there some small glimmer of truth to everything we think we know? I wondered one such question when the number of missing people began to climb, and there was no explanation in sight. Not even HKPD could come up with an answer. Every visit was met with more head scratching on their part and a lot of excuses. The public is tired of excuses. We want to know what’s really happening in our little corner of New York City. I can promise you, it’s not pretty. I was recently approached myself, but thankfully not by those in question.
There is always an underground subculture, be it the people who live on trains, migrant homeless individuals, or more darker individuals who can profit on the exploitation of vulnerable people. We stumbled on one such underground culture during our pursuit of answers to the growing number of missing peoples.]
Eris stopped and looked at the document. She clearly couldn’t tell the full truth or people would call her mad. She knew she had to find a way to write this as to shed light on the Malumortis as a cult full of human sacrifice, while trying to keep Kael and Gaius’ world a secret. Also, how would she be able to use photographs if Gaius and Kael would refuse they have a camera? That was parcel in part the reason Eris wanted to sneak out. She wanted to get herself and Dahlia their own burner phones, and to at least get Dahlia one of those disposable film cameras.
She was tempted to try and sneak out regardless, but Gaius had warned her before going back to lay down that if she did try to leave the whole house would know it. She felt trapped, and she didn’t like it. She would have continued to work on the article, but she heard a noise coming from the back. Not sure who it was she made quick work to save the document and hid it in a random folder until she could move it to a cloud storage. When whoever was entering the living area did enter, Eris looked for all the world as if she was just doing research. A wiki page on Amon was pulled up on the screen to act as a cover. She worried that if Kael and Gaius knew she was writing her article they might get angry, and she didn’t want to risk that.
Her stomach growled loudly, and she groaned dropping her head to the table. “So… hungry…” She whispered, resenting the demons and their lack of need to eat food, and the fact they didnt have any food here. One of those horned buffoons couldn’t wake up soon enough to go pick up the grocery order Eris had placed. She knew Dahlia was bound to be starved when she woke up too.
Dahlia didn’t appreciate her question being ignored. Irritated, she only half listened as Gaius relayed what they had discovered. Or at least what he was willing to share with the angel. She made note of that, as she didn’t want to be the one to accidentally leak confidential information.
Honestly, she hadn’t planned to pay much attention to anything Max had to say after that, aside from where he’s tucked Eris away. But the comment about keeping her friend rubbed Dahlia the wrong way. [b “No, I’m afraid she’d make a terrible pet. She needs to be let out regularly or else she will go stir crazy. It’s not ideal, you see, so I will keep ahold of her.”] Her tone was less than amused. He kept treating her like an object, and she hated it. Eris was a human being.
With that she reoccupied herself trying to locate her friend. The man was helpful enough for that, as a door appeared out of thin air. Swiftly walking in, she didn’t even bother to turn on a light. Eris was exactly where he had said she would be. Perhaps she was worried over nothing? She felt a bit silly after making such a fuss out of it. But when she saw how peacefully the other mortal was sleeping something felt off again. Eris doesn’t sleep well normally, not like that, and especially not in a strange man’s office. Not wanting to make a fool out of herself again, Dahlia ignored it.
[b “Yep, we came back as soon as we could.”] It didn’t really need explaining, but she was excited to talk to her lethargic friend.
Wrapping her arms around Eris, Dahlia pulled her into a tight hug. The thin woman smelled of wine, which might have explained why she was in such a lull. Either way, the disguised woman didn’t dwell on it. She’d missed her friend an awful lot. All sorts of things had happened, and the woman hadn’t had anyone to talk to it about. At least not anyone that would understand. Kael and Gaius were nice enough, but they had context to the world the women were dabbling in. She wouldn’t find the empathy she wanted there.
Allowing Eris to take her time, she slowly helped rouse her friend, so that she would be ready to leave whenever the others stopped talking. She couldn’t hear much from in here, but she didn’t really mind that.
Kael didn’t know why he was surprised at how pretentious this guy was, but he was. If a lead was dry you had to deal with it, that was kind of how this line of work went, but apparently to Max, he and Gaius were the disappointment in this scenario. What was even odder was that even after that, he wanted to prolong the acquaintance.
[b “Yes, we should be in L.A. for a while. If we hear anything while in your jurisdiction we will be sure to inform you.”] He couldn’t image what else they were find that would be worth the aggravation of coming all the way back here, but you never know. It was usually best to keep things pleasant when the future social climate was uncertain. And because of that, he decided to play Max’s game. [b “In return, we’d appreciate it if you called on us if any suspicious demon activity crops up.”] As he spoke, Kael fidgeted around some.
Max lifted a brow, with a pleased smirk. [b “Well, well, I never imagined you would be requesting to run errands for me.”]
[b “Yeah, well, we aren’t exactly swimming in viable leads at this point. We will take what we can get.”] This was going pretty much how he thought it would, but he still took a less than enthusiastic tone. Had to keep up appearances.
Max hummed. [b “I do appreciate it. I’ll be in contact if I catch wind of anything that might be helpful to you all.”] Conveniently the girls exited Max’s office and his eyes were pulled there momentarily.
Hands moving behind his back, the snake fiddled with his watch. It dispensed a small device and he took it on his finger. Being incredibly careful not to touch it to anything just yet, Kael had his hands back in front of him by the time Max turned back to the pair of demons.
[b “Also feel free to call on me if you need a sitter for Erin. We wouldn’t want her in harms way.”]
[b “We’ll keep that in mind.”] At that point the conversation and Kael’s patience seemed to be wearing out. However, with both the women with them now, it wasn’t a problem. They bid the magister farewell and made for the door once again.
Just before descending the stairwell, the red-eyed man reached out for the handrail. Tapping his finger against the wall just shy of the rail, he hoped the bug stuck and was oriented correctly. If it was, the device should pick up conversations taking place up in the loft here. There was no saying if that would be of any use to them, but there was no harm in it. A wire in that office however, that would have been almost guaranteed to be useful, but unfortunately that wasn’t feasible at the time being. Perhaps if they ended up coming back it might be worth the effort.
For the final time that night the group shoved themselves in a car. Kael barely kept his sanity by reminding himself he would get to sleep just as soon as they got back to the house.
He wasn’t the only one that was tired. Dahlia had been up all day and night and she was ready to get some rest too. It didn’t help with how groggy Eris had been earlier either. Sleepiness was contagious. Allowing herself to rest her head on her friend’s shoulder, she quickly nodded off. Sleeping for the duration of the ride, she did not stir until Eris moved to unbuckle her seatbelt.
Getting out of the car, there was still a bit of a walk before they were where they needed to be. Kael knew he and Gaius should use this time to go over their findings, as it was safely out of Cornelius’ earshot, but he let it pass. His fatigue was getting the better of him and he wasn’t a hundred percent sure if he’d be of any use in an informational break down.
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