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Gaius and Eris were about to go blow for blow when Dahlia cut in. Her words and eyes were as sharp as knives, and they silenced Gaius quickly. Eris was cajoled by her petite friend to retire to bed, and Gaius watched as they both disappeared behind the door to his bedroom. Gaius stood fuming for a moment, grappling for control of his temper and his emotions which tended to flare in stressful situation. It only spiked for a moment hearing his partner whistle at him, and comment on his skills with the women. Gaius inhaled a lungful of smoke from his cigarette and simply glared back at his fellow demon.
Gaius welcomed the silence as he finished his cigarette and sat back down in his arm chair and stared at Kael.
“Ursula is going to be a problem.” They were both thinking it, but Gaius voiced it. Kael suggested tattling to her Coven about it, suggesting that if the Valkyrie were aware of her actions they might step in and handle her. Wishful thinking, Gaius knew, but he didn’t blame his partner for the suggestion -it was a good idea. If it had been any Valkyrie other than the Impetuous Ursula. ‘It’s not a bad idea, but for the little good it will do us. I’ve known Ursula for the better of three hundred years, she is not close with her sisters. They will not come for her, they haven’t done so by now, and have left her unprotected to her own fate. I know a guy who knows a guy that can get word to Valhalla for us, but it won’t come cheap… and I’m not talking money,” Gaius warned. It seemed they would have no choice in that matter, and Gaius had agreed to take on the task of contacting the Valkyrie. As for other plans, Kael thought it would be best to wait until he heard more from his family. For the moment they were at a standstill, they could go no further, but they couldn’t go back either. Gaius hated being stuck in a bad situation, he also didn’t want to inform Kael of his own fears regarding the small flower currently in his bed.
Unlike Kale’s breed of Demon, Demons of the Deadly Sins could have a fated mate. Lately, Gaius had been wondering if the tiny flower he’d been following the past few days was affecting him the way she was, because she was his fated mate. It was a nightmare to accept -a human as his mate? He’d kill her in the first coupling, and while he had been a master of restraint for centuries now, just her presence was enough to unravel it all. He simply had to keep reminding himself that at least the Medallion was under their protection. Ursula didn’t have it, and while he found the Incarnate, Eris to be irritating to a fault, he would commend her cleverness in tricking the rushed Valkyrie. He’d just never voice it out loud, just like he wouldn’t voice how he noticed Kael’s appreciation of the wily mortal’s foolish bravery.
Gaius stared at his partner with an intense look. It was back to business and it seemed it would be nothing but business until they had sorted this mess out. For now, a more important question loomed over them. “We need to make a plan to keep the mortals safe. No doubt someone will notice they’re missing with time, and we can not keep them here for more than a day or two. If things are as bad as I believe they might become, I don’t even think the Rules of Neutrality will keep them from attacking us in this place.”
Eris allowed Dahlia to drag her away from Gaius and into the spacious room with an equally spacious bed. For a fleeting moment Eris wondered why a man would need a bed that big for himself, but it passed as quickly as it came. Instead she shed herself of her pants, boots and jacket, while Dahlia tossed away the warm trench coat that belonged to Gaius. Neither said a word as they crawled into bed. Eris was angry with the two men on the other side of the door, with the world, and mostly with herself. A part of her blamed herself for the mess they had found themselves in. She’d always wanted an adventure, but this had never been what she had in mind.
She laid down under the sheets with her back to Dahlia, feeling too guilty and angry to face her at the moment. Yet when she felt Dahlia begin to gently tickle her back, Eris was taken back to years ago when they were green eared college kids. It was no guess that Eris had her own inner demons and mental illness, and while over the years she had learned to control her anxiety, there were times it threatened to break her steadfast control and take over. Eris sensed that Dahlia could sense it as well… an oncoming panic attack. Eris knew that if Dahlia had anything to say about it, she’d help sooth it out of existence. It never failed to work its magic over Eris. Like taming a wild beast, Dahlia had done the same with Eris. Each stroke gently sending Eris closer to much needed sleep. She was on the brink of that sleep when Dahlia whispered to her of what she’d done. Ross was bound to find their apartment a ransacked mess when he dropped by in the morning. She wondered if they would just be added to the ever growing list of missing persons in Hells Kitchen.
“We need to get word to him soon. He’s a good cop, I don’t want him getting mixed up in some otherworld bullshit,” Eris stated with a sleepy voice. “He needs… warned…” Eris yawned before Dahlia’s final stroke put her into a deep sleep. One that Eris was sure not to wake from until at least mid afternoon.
Just as she had expected, Eris swiftly objected. Dahlia stared at her expectantly. Of course she thought they should try and help. If the world went to hell in a hand basket they were not going to have anywhere to live. At least not any place safe. She kind of liked not having to worry about demon folk breaking into their house and kidnapping them. She nodded vigorously as her friend questioned her. Honestly, she conceded a lot quicker than normal. It was probably because she was so tired. There would likely be a follow up discussion later when it was just the two of them and they weren’t so dog-tired.
Dahlia entertained the idea of playing the role of bait, but figured with how apprehensive Eris was to just helping out it wasn’t likely to happen. Although when she thought about it, the smaller woman wouldn’t want her friend to put herself in danger either. Not willing to give up entirely, she threw out one last idea. [b “You are both demons or something, right? Doesn’t that mean there are places you can’t go, or at least would have a hard time getting? I’m sure there are places like that that we could assist.”]
No sooner than she spat out the thought, Kael shot it down. [b “While that is true, it is incredibly unlikely anything like that will come into play with what we are dealing with. Our opponents are like us. We should be fighting on equal ground when it comes to such restraints.”] The only real worry there was Ursula and she already knew the mortal’s faces. The man wasn’t too keen on the ladies helping either. If they got caught in the cross fire they wouldn’t survive and he didn’t want to deal with that guilt.
Mind whirling as she thought about Ursula, Dahlia wasn’t entirely sure what had happened to her. By the sound of how everyone was talking it was bad news. Another tidbit of information she would just have to do without for the time being. It was about then that Gaius decided to put everything on hold. From there things went downhill quickly. The realization of how trapped they really were seeped in, especially for Eris and she wasn’t dealing with it well. Distraught would be an understatement.
Dahlia found her friend’s apology unwarranted. But before she had the chance to say so, the yellow-eyed man jumped in. His comments did nothing more than agitate the situation, which snowballed between them. The bickering that stemmed from it was stressful, but she focused on keeping Eris from flying off the hinge.
There weren’t many immortals that would cross paths with someone like Gaius, so there was a sense of humor to it when the scrawny human tried. Kael was confident if the little one wasn’t between them they might have started throwing punches, or worse. He was glad for her presence, as he didn’t feel like deescalating anything. There was enough for him to worry about. Still, the comedy of it all made him smile. An expression he quickly stifled when any of them looked his way. God forbid they assume he was reveling in the chaos, just it's namesake.
Growing increasingly irritated herself, Dahlia cut in. [b “Is it really necessary to be such an ass about it?”] Her words and eyes were sharp. Unconfident that her comment would do little more than aggravate him, she wanted to distance them from the conflict before it got any worse. It was bad enough that she felt the need to jump in. She pulled on Eris’ arm, prompting them to stand in unison. The first of many steps to making an exit and sleeping. [b “Come on, let’s just go to bed.”] The petite woman finally took her glaring eyes from Gaius. Her gaze now shifting between Eris and the door leading back to the bed they’d been offered.
There was no incident after that. The women made their exit, Dahlia closing the door silently behind them. She had briefly contemplated slamming it. But ultimately decided that was too juvenile. Finally they had some relative peace. Lord knew if they could be heard in here, but at the very least the pair was away from prying eyes. It wasn’t till then that she remembered she was wearing Gaius’ jacket. She swiftly took it off and threw it on the nightstand.
Without hesitation, the two crawled in the big bed. It was comfortable and the sheets smelt clean. There was tons of room, but Dahlia stuck close to her friend. Nestled cozily behind her, she gently rubbed Eris’ back. She hoped it might release some of the stress she was carrying and help her sleep. After all, the woman had been up for just about two days straight. She needed the rest badly, but there was one last thing Dahlia felt she needed to share. She whispered lightly, keeping her voice to a tone that could be considered soothing. [b “I don’t know if it actually helps anything, but before we left, I left Ross a voice mail. It was vague but I think he will know something happened.”] Dahlia doubted he could help in any way, but there was comfort in knowing that someone was looking.
No sooner than the door shut, Kael whistled somewhat sarcastically. Perhaps seeing the girls act so defiantly gave him a little more courage, albeit stupidly so. [b “You managed to piss both of them off, smooth.”] It wasn’t that he particularly disagreed with anything his partner had said, but he also thought keeping the girls’ cooperative was in their best interest.
Kael let his fellow demon finish his cigarette. The silence was heavy, but he welcomed it. The slight edge it gave him kept his mind clear to try and think of their next move. First and foremost be wanted to deal with Ursula. That witch would likely serve as the most imminent threat. No doubt she was seething wherever she stood, hatching up her own plan. Not knowing what kind of resources were at her disposal was maddening.
Taking in a deep breath, he toyed with a couple bat-shit crazy ideas. Tossing them to the side before he then found something moderately less dangerous, although he still didn’t like it. There was a sense of cowardice to it, but he didn’t mind so long as it furthered their goal.
[b “You know, we could always just tattle on her.”] His words were somewhat lazy. Not knowing what sort of reaction he would receive made him hesitant. [b “We know the Valkyrie won’t want their sister to die. If we tipped them off that she is meddling in demon politics and liable to end up dead, they may track her down themselves. And if they don’t make a move, they can’t say anything if we take her out ourselves. It should cover our asses from both sides.”] Kael’s real worry was that there were more than two dimensions to this particular problem. There was also the fact that he didn’t know how to contact the Valkyrie, but Gaius seemed the type to have connections everywhere. After all, he had known how to reach Ursula.
Other than that he didn’t feel like there was a lot he could do at the moment. Too many unknowns. [b “I think we should hold off on any other concrete plans until I get ahold of either my dad or brother. When we go out I am going to pick up a burner phone just to be sure.”] Who knew who had already tapped into his personal phone. The thing was probably trash by now.
Leaning back in his chair, Kael sunk into the well broken in cushions. Staring up at the ceiling it was completely nondescript, a blank canvas to project his thoughts onto. [b “I guess I should have listened to Mara when I had the chance.”] Regret clung to his soft-spoken words. He had been so sure of what she was going to say, the red-eyed man didn’t bother to let her speak. And while he was still confident he knew what she was going to say, there was an ember of doubt smoldering in him.
Eris listened to all Kael had to say, and his affinity for Eve had not gone unnoticed. She was glad he had grabbed the snake, and even shocked to see it had taken to him far better than it had to her. Regardless, his words about Atlas, his death, the chaos their government and people were in, and not to mention it had something to do with Kael’s father. That was interesting, and only made Eris that much more curious. He was certain too, that the Valkyrie being involved meant whatever was coming was bound to be big.
[b “Although I can’t say for sure at this point, Ursula may have been working on her own.”]
“That’s more likely,” Gaius suddenly quipped, his own gaze looking at nothing in particular, but it was clear he’d been deep in thought.
“Why do you say that?” Eris asked curiously. Gaius finally moved his golden gaze from nothingness to Eris’ face.
“Because she was outcasted by her sisters centuries ago. Think of her as fallen from grace.” Eris frowned, but didn’t press further, and a heavy silence fell over the group until Dahlia spoke.
Dahlia wanted to know for sure, that no matter what they would have been dragged into this mess, but as Kael made clear -they couldn’t be certain. They didn’t have enough information as to what was going on in their world, that it was hard to tell how it might affect the human world. Something was obviously going on, and underhanded techniques sounded as if they were expected. That much was made clear by Ursula’s betrayal. Eris sat back while Dahlia posed her questions and spoke with the two demonic men, it allowed her eyes to roam around the room, but the thing she noticed most was the Demon Gaius, and how his gaze seemed to change the slightest when those golden eyes settled on Dahlia. Most might not have noticed it, but Eris did. She saw a flicker of something in their depths, and how his hand flexed the slightest to dig his nails into the couch when the Fan blew air from behind Dahlia into his direction. Was it a smell? Did they smell bad to demons? Or was there more the Wrath Demon wasn’t telling?
[b “Do either of you have any sort of plan where to go next with this? Is there anything we can do to help?” ] Dahlia asked and Eris’ face twisted into shocked disgust.
“Help them?” She blurted out with an almost scathing tone. She couldn’t believe- no, yes she could believe that Dahlia would offer such a thing. It was well within Dahlia’s character to be helpful to a fault. Eris supposed she could see why Dahlia wanted to help them, but that didn’t make it easier to swallow. If what they said was true and it could affect the Human world, then Eris knew she had an obligation to help as well -she just didn’t want to readily admit it. What had the world ever done for either of them? “You really want to help these two?” Eris asked, but Dahlia was firm in her decision and Eris was left to pout and concede. “Fine… We’ll help if we can.” She settled with and crossed her arms.
[b Gaius] had been deep in thought trying to piece everything together in his mind, when it seemed the two women were having a disagreement about helping. He wanted to laugh. They couldn’t help, they were weak, flimsy mortals that would die if the wrong creature so much as looked at them the wrong way. Gaius glanced over at Kael wondering if he had a plan. To be honest, they’d been so wrapped up securing the Medallion that they hadn’t taken the time to sit down and discuss what they would do in regards to Atlas’ death and the coup that had taken place right under their nose. He leaned back into the soft cushion of his favorite chair and allowed his brows to furrow and eyes narrow as he voiced his thoughts.
“We’ve been taking this one step at a time. We have the Medallion now -or rather… we have you,” he said and gave both Dahlia and Eris a pointed look. “I don’t see how either of you will be helpful, unless one of you enjoys playing bait,” he eyed Eris then, the only one probably ballsy enough to do it willingly. Surprisingly she made no comment and kept quiet. He was pretty sure he preferred her that way. “Ursula will want blood, we could trap her…” He halfheartedly suggested to Kael. “She’s bound to have intelligence on who’s behind the coup and Atlas’ death.” Getting Ursula to talk wouldn’t be easy though, you couldn’t torture an immortal for information the way you could a mortal. You had to find something they cared about and threaten it. As far as Gaius knew… Ursula cared for nothing and no one but who could pay the highest dollar. It likely meant his idea to trap and interrogate Ursula was moot, if they crossed her path again, they’d likely have to just kill her, and killing a valkyrie was not an easy task.
Valkyrie could only be killed one of two ways; from a broken heart cause by a loved one, or beheading -like most immortals could be destroyed. If they didn’t take her head, she’d just regenerate and come back for them again and again. Personally, he didn’t want either of the mortals to taste Ursula’s claws, or her lightning. There was also the risk of incurring the wrath of other Valkyries. They might have ostracized Ursula, but he highly doubted that meant she didn’t have their support if she was murdered. No, Gaius knew then, if they intended to kill Ursula, they’d have to engage her in combat to legitimize them killing her. He certainly wasn’t about to suggest bringing in anyone else either after her betrayal… and here he’d thought they were at least friends.
He looked over at the women once more, and saw the exhaustion in their eyes. They needed to sleep. They still had alcohol flowing through their blood, and his pretty flower looked ready to fall over. The Harpy looked like she could keep going and stay up all night to plot and scheme, but he was pretty certain now that they were so close and she seemed particularly calm about everything that something wasn’t clicked into place correctly in her head.
“I think,” Gaius began, “that before we continue with this conversation you ladies should get some sleep. You may both take my bed in the back room,” He pointed across the living space to a set of double doors. “You’re safe here. This is what’s called Neutral territory.”
“Yeah? And what does that mean for us?” Eris demanded.
“Warring factions can not make a move on these grounds or lose their privileges to use and enjoy any and all neutral locations. No one lasts very long once they break the rules of Neutrality,” Gaius informed them. “In the morning we will attempt to find you both some clothes, in the meantime, rest and get comfortable, because you won’t be allowed to leave this Complex for a while…” he warned and reached forward for his cigarettes on the coffee table and proceeded to light one up. “I’m afraid there’s not much else either of you two can do to help-“
“I’m really sorry I got us into this…” Gaius frowned at the soft sound of Eris’ voice -it was clear that Eris blamed herself to an extent for dragging her best friend into this mess.
“What’s done is done.” Gaius rose to his feet and walked over to the windows of the living space and looked out at the twinkling cityscape.
“That much is obvious, but you can’t really intend to keep up locked up in here,” Eris tried. Gaius didn’t look back from where he stood, his mind was too cluttered and running too quickly.
“Then leave,” Gaius challenged. “Walk out those doors and we’ll see if you even make it back to your neighborhood… which I can promise you, you won’t. They’re watching your apartment now, just waiting for you to foolishly return. They will stop at nothing to collect that Medallion, and if they even think for a moment you’re still carrying it around, they will slit your throat where you stand.” Gaius said all of this very calmly and as if it were simply fact. Which it was, but Gaius knew he could speak this way to Eris and not alarm her, but she would understand. “And you’re a fool if you think that gun you’re carrying is going to protect you from them.”
“I can smell the powder in the bullets.” He shrugged.
“This is kidnapping,” Eris tried, and Gaius smirked.
“Call it what you want, but in here you get to stay alive, out there you’re as good as dead. You’ll be tossed among the other strange deaths and disappearances you were investigating to begin with. Full Circle. That should make you happy,” he mocked. Eris grit her teeth ready to snap back, but Dahlia managed to calm Eris and keep her quiet. “You should listen more to your friend. She wants to see that you keep breathing.” He exhaled a lungful of smoke and finally turned to face them again. “Fact is you’re alive because we bothered to help you, now you’re in our domain and you will follow our rules if you ever want to walk out those doors as free women.”
‘Is that a threat?” Eris growled, growing more angry with every moment.
“No, it’s a promise,” Gaius stated plainly and without an ounce of remorse.
Normally there wasn’t a single part of this story that Dahlia would be dumb enough to believe. However after all she had seen and been through she dared to think the men were telling the truth. It was earthshattering. There wasn’t anything she could say. The problem with it being so preposterous was that she had no idea what sort of questions to ask. Her brain was so filled with processing the madness that there was not room for much else. It would take some time to set in.
Kael watched as Gaius gave some explanation to what they were and more specifics about himself. He had never been particularly curious, but it was interesting to hear the details all the same. The red-eyed man was also glad to have a bit of a break. This was a lot of talking. The conversation jumped back to him when it was his turn.
The man brought his hand up to pat Eve on the head as he spoke. She was still nestled tightly about his arm and neck. [b “I am more akin to snakes myself.”] The demon wasn’t sure what he was going to do with the serpent just yet, but he would find a place for her.
Dread filled he small woman’s chest as the yellow-eyed demon listed off the mayhem that could ensue if the medallion got into the wrong hands. He finished off with, [b “…An era of darkness and death.”] Normally Eris, the strong-headed firecracker of a woman, was enough to make Dahlia feel safe. After all, she was pretty sure she could handle almost anything, but for the first time the onyx-eyed photographer had the distinct feeling that they couldn’t handle this on their own no matter how much moxie they had. Things only seemed to get worse as he revealed that there was a whole faction of demon’s who wanted nothing more than to wreak havoc on humanity. Even more so when he explicitly stated that there was no way for her and Eris to back out of this now.
It hurt when Gaius mentioned what they had been after. It forced her to wonder if it was worth it. Was this cockeyed story worth their lives? She really didn’t think so. After all, no one would believe it anyway. But there was no way they could have known it would have lead here when this all began. Hindsight was a bitch.
[b “What say you, red?”] Kael could only assume she meant him. He wasn’t too keen on the nickname, but he didn’t mention it. The man didn’t want to give the girls any more reasons to dislike him at the moment. [b “Who is Atlas?”]
The snake demon decided to keep things simple at first. [b “Atlas was our former president. The man who was running our whole world.”] Sure there were districts that were run by others, like hades was run by its namesake, but in the end Atlas had quite a bit of influence in places like that as well. [b “He’d is the one that united everyone on our side and called for the truce between demons, the angelic, and humanity... However a few days ago he died.”]
This was his first time talking about it since the incident, it had him more irritated then he would have hoped. He managed to keep a cool countenance though. [b “He was pretty much immortal and while he was old there isn’t a lot that could have killed him. Official story from the top is that he was sick, but that’s a load of shit. If he was ill I would have heard from my dad.”] He stiffened up thinking about it. Oddly enough he still hadn’t heard directly from his family. Mara, one of Atlas’ women, had tried to tell him something right after the incident, but he didn’t know if they were still all right.
[b “Either way, whoever took him out likely doesn’t hold his ideals. Things are about to get rocky on our side. And if the Valkyrie are in on it, it is probably going to be big. Although I can’t say for sure at this point, Ursula may have been working on her own.”] It would be easier to plan their next move with more information. For a split second Kael considered getting ahold of his family, but that was more liable to complicate things further. He didn’t want to deal with it.
Dahlia broke her silence after hearing this. [b “So even if we probably been pulled into this eventually, even without all this hades nonsense?”] If demons were going to be walking the earth freely, she didn’t see too much of a difference in the situation. Well, aside from being targeted directly by Ursula. They could probably do without that.
[b “We can’t say for sure. We still don’t know what the usurpers want. I don’t know anything about this Lysander Canterbury who took up the helm and he very well could just be a figure head while they work things in the background.”] Kael didn’t like not having answers; he could only image in unsettling it was for the women across the table from him.
[b “Isn’t there any sort of fail safe for this sort of thing?”] Sure Dahlia didn’t know a whole lot about government or politics but wasn’t there usually a chain of command in case of emergency? [b “I am sure this Atlas guy had to have someone under him who was his next in command right?”]
Sighing Kael nodded. [b “Yes, of course he did. As of yet, this information isn’t being given to our general public. They are keeping things under lock and key. My guess is that a lot of them have been caught in the crossfire. That or when things went sour they pulled back to regroup. Without contact to someone on the inside I can’t know the state of Atlas’ cabinet.”]
There were not a lot of definitive answers; it didn’t make Dahlia feel any better. She couldn’t bring herself to blame Gaius or Kael, but it was frustrating all the same. Somehow the idea of a safe house didn’t make her feel all that safe. Just sitting and waiting for someone to sniff them out and do them away. She also didn’t really know if there was anything they could do in a mess like this.
[b “Do either of you have any sort of plan where to go next with this? Is there anything we can do to help?”] She looked between the two of them. Being careful not to look Eris’ way. She wasn’t sure how keen her friend would be on the idea of them jumping into the fray. To Dahlia this world was the place that she lived. She wanted to keep it safe. Even if it was just something little, she couldn’t stand the thought of continuing to be useless all the time.
Eris could see their assailants jumping from rooftop to rooftop behind them. The way he carried her made it difficult to reach behind her and grab her gun, but from what she was seeing; she figured it would be useless anyway. She held on tightly and recognized where they were when he finally lost their followers and landed on the street. She was finally able to stand on her own two feet and looked around at where they were. The Historic Manny’s Music store wasn’t too far from where he’d dropped her. He started around a corner, and Eris quickened her pace to keep up. For now she wasn’t going to voice her questions -her curiosity was getting the better of her now. They came to the front of a dimly lit Hotel, the neon fading out and flickering. The building looked like a squatter hovel, one that should be condemned and demoed, but as he held the door open and bid her to follow she slipped right into the lobby and her jaw dropped.
Rich red carpet and dark leather chairs with massive crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling decorated the lobby. Everything was Art Deco from the intricate golden wall panels down to the exotic looking man. Cross dresser? Trans? Whatever it was it was interesting, and Eris instantly admired this person for their uniqueness despite the fed up expression she wore.
“You too, huh?” The receptionist asked. Definitely born male.
“Hi,” Eris waved quickly following Red eyes into the elevator. Eris crossed her arms and leaned against the far wall from Red, watching him cautiously. He didn’t even look her way, or speak to her. That was fine, Eris wasn’t exactly sure what to say to him as it was.
She followed him off the elevator to a room, where he knocked and once the door opened, Eris was greeted with the face of the other guy. She didn’t hesitate to walk in.
“Dahlia?” She asked, but no sooner had she called the name, did she spot Dahlia. The tiny woman came running for her and quickly hugged her. Eris finally smirked. “Oh I’m so glad you’re okay,” She said quietly, and finally noticed that Dahlia never got the chance to even grab a coat and shoes. Eris knew her sizes, she’d get her new clothes because she had a feeling they weren’t going to be able to go back to their apartment for a while.
[b “Go ahead and sit down so I can try and get you up to speed. You too, Gaius.” ] Eris looked over where Red was pacing. The Demon, Gaius walked over to a small coffee table surrounded by a lush sofa and two arm chairs and offered the sofa to both women. Eris kept Dahlia close, but allowed her enough space to remain independent. Gaius sat on the armchair closest to Dahlia while Red took the arm chair next to her and insisted that first and foremost they needed to introduce themselves. She finally had a name for him, but Red was sort of sticking on her now. Between Kael and Gaius she couldn’t tell which one was the lesser of two evils. Dahlia and Eris introduced themselves and if she wasn’t mistaken her name had caused Kael to look almost amused… almost.
[b “As you have probably surmised, we are not human and that medallion you picked up isn’t just a trinket.”] Eris scoffed at his comment and leaned back crossing a long lean leg over the other.
“So we’ve surmised as much, so what’s the deal with the medallion?” She asked.
[b “It belongs to Hades, and it links directly to his domain.”] Eris frowned. Being a Greek-American, she didn’t think this was very funny, but she made no comment and allowed Kael to speak about Hades’ daughter, how she had it stolen by a mortal and that if they weren’t careful Daddy Dearest was going to find out, and they didn’t want that to happen. [b “This is unfortunately why we confronted you a few days ago… Sorry about that.”] His apology sounded sincere, but Eris remained quiet and glared at him. She clearly hadn’t forgiven them just yet.
“In our defense,” Gaius suddenly said and eyed Eris. “We thought we could scare you into giving it to us, be on our way and you’d never see us again.”
“I don’t scare easily,” Gaius actually grinned, showing small fangs, and that was when Eris noticed he also had strange claw like nails.
“Yes, we figured that out pretty quickly. We are sorry,” Gaius tried to placate her, but Eris was still warry.
“Apology accepted,” She settled with, but that didn’t mean she forgave them. “Tell us more about you guys and what’s all going on. We’re in this mess now, might as well help us figure it out,” Eris advised, though it was more of a command than anything else.
Kael began to tell them that their would wasn’t so different, and recently a coup had taken place. It was something that seemed to be directly affecting Kael and apparently his family. That was interesting. she wondered if he had planned to get the medallion and skip town to help his family. Then he mentioned Ursula and Eris grit her teeth. She’d been such an idiot to let that woman into their home while barely knowing her. Damn the Tequila, and Damn her. Double agent, and slippery bitch who had played all of them. Kael looked directly at Eris then and warned her that once Ursula realized she was tricked, Eris was sentenced to Ursula’s Shit list.
[b “…there is no wrath like that of a Valkyrie.”] Eris frowned, she’d heard of Valkyrie. Norse Mythos, shield maiden warriors used to collect fallen warriors in battle where they would be held in Valhalla until Ragnarok. It was all supposed to be legend and myth, but apparently Eris was wrong -so very wrong.
“I’m named after the Goddess of Discord and Chaos. She can kiss my ass,” Eris grumbled in a grumpy manner. That seemed to make Kael give her a chiding look, and she sorely wanted to smack his face for it.
[b “I don’t particularly like others dying because of my mistakes, so I’d like to try and keep you both alive at least until this gets sorted out. Any questions?”]
Any questions! HA! Eris rolled her eyes.
“Yeah, lots of them,” she warned. “First off, what are you?” Gaius was the one to answer that, he leaned back in his seat, hands on the armrests and glanced to Kael before speaking. What was this guy? Some Underworld Royalty or some shit?
“We are both demons, but different classes. I’m a wrath demon for example.”
“Like… the seven deadly sins?” Eris asked. Gaius nodded his head.
“Yes, every sin has its own Demonarchy, and even then there are other demons with different classes.”
“You seem pretty chill for a Wrath Demon,” Gaius smirked again.
“Oh my dear, the amount of restraint and control I have is beyond your abilities.” Eris frowned, it almost sounded like an insult, but it made her think more of the Hulk. Would she not like him if he got angry? Probably not.
“Whatever. Ursula, She’s a Valkyrie? How’s that possible? You’re telling us that mythological creatures are real?”
“All Myth is steeped in truth to some extent,” Gaius informed her. “Think of all the Mythological and current Gods as sorts of Royal Families. Earth is just a playground and you all the livestock,” Gaius told her. It wasn’t the most eloquent explanation, but it was blunt and safe for diabetics. No sugar coating what so ever.
“That’s comforting…” It wasn’t though. Eris glanced back between the two demonic men and finally looked at Dahlia. “We’re in this mess now,” She looked back to Gaius with a determined look. “You said that if the Medallion fell into the wrong hands it would mean the end of the world as we know it. What did you mean by that?”
“I mean, that if the Medallion had been taken by Ursula and delivered to whoever she’s working for they could very well open up the gate between this world and the underworld and all sort of unsavory creature would rise from the bowels of Hell to feast on Human Flesh, enslave mankind and black out the Sun. An Era of darkness and death.”
“Sounds like a Demon paradise. So why are you trying to stop it?” Gaius leaned back in his seat and sighed heavily.
“Humanity is… a fickle creature, and fun to watch if I’m being honest. Just as there are humans who protect the world, there are those who seek to destroy it, to watch it burn. We,” he waved to himself and Kael, “Very much enjoy Earth, it’s far more interesting and the landscape far more appealing than fire and brimstone. We are aligned to uphold what is called The Covenant. Centuries ago our kind warred with yours until we finally settled on a truce. We uphold that truce, and the stipulations attached to it. No exposure en masse to Humans, or lay threat to a new war. Contrary to what you may think, we are far more peaceable than our counterparts. The Malumortis, as they’re called have much darker plans.”
“Evil Death?” Eris asked. Gaius’ brows rose.
“You know Latin?”
“No, but I know enough of my root words to figure that out,” Eris told him plainly and still seemingly unimpressed. Gaius shrugged. “So what does this mean for us?” Eris asked waving between herself and Dahlia. ‘I can’t give you the Medallion now and walk away.”
“No you can not,” Gaius agreed. “You’re right, both of you are in this mess now. So it would be best to know that in my opinion the two of you be put into a safe house, and that you forget any notion you had of writing that Expose you were hoping for.” Eris glared then, this was the piece that could shoot herself and Dahlia to real journalist status.
“What say you, Red?” Eris asked Kael then. “And who is Atlas?”
Everything moved so fast that Dahlia had a hard time keeping up. She struggled against the golden-eyed man who grabbed ahold of her up until the point that he jumped from the window. After that all bets were off. He didn’t really have to tell her to hold on. She essentially glued herself to his side.
The freezing night air nipped at her bare legs. Sure she had been glad that she hadn’t fully undressed to sleep, but now she was wishing she had left her jacket and shoes on too. Doubly so when the man set her down, the graveled rooftop was painful against the soles of her feet. And while she was given more freedom, enough to stand on her own, it didn’t amount to much as he never let go of her hands. Options were laid out in front of her, but none of them sounded any good. She had nowhere to go if she didn’t stay with this stranger. Not to mention his friend had Eris. Hesitant to agree, she nodded and that was enough for him to drag her along behind him. It was difficult to keep up with his stride. Each of his steps seemed like two of her own.
The building they entered was old and run down, but her jaw hit the floor at the inside decor. Dahlia was sure it was a piece of history straight out of the vaudeville era. She wished she had her camera. Her awe did not last. The tall man quipped to and fro with a woman behind the counter who did not look pleased. The displeasure was aimed squarely at Dahlia and that made her nervous. However the woman never moved from her post. While the mortal was glad for that, being shrouded in the silver haired man’s jacket wasn’t much security from the dangers she rightly assumed were lurking further with the hotel complex.
There was a bit of solace being in an enclosed area. The apartment like room at least afforded her that, but there was still the fact that she was stuck with this man. Dahlia’s eyes never left him. Her expression was grim. The woman almost tripped over herself stepping back when he tried to come closer to her. Thankfully he backed off promptly. He offered her this and that, all of which sounded nice, but she didn’t say anything. It felt like a trap. Kind of like the old story of Persephone in Hades. Take anything while your there and you’ll never get out. However she felt weird not giving her name in return, so she at least did that. [b “I’m Dahlia.”]
Feet sore, the woman gravitated toward the desk chair at the side of the room. Taking a seat, she pulled her knees up and rested her head there. His jacket smelled of cigarette smoke. Although it wasn’t much of a consolation it reminded her of Eris and it calmed her some. She still wasn’t comfortable looking away from Gaius. It didn’t take much longer for the adrenaline running through her veins to wear off. In its wake, a pounding head ache. All that alcohol had cleared her brain, but there was one hell of a hangover on the way. Not to mention all the jostling of running across town had agitated it further. She wanted to sleep it off, but that wasn’t an option.
It seemed no matter how fast he ran, or how many bustling areas he cut through Kael couldn’t shake whoever was tailing them. It was frustrating and he was getting winded. He promised himself if he made it out of this he was definitely going to work out more. At the very least he wouldn’t spend so much time dicking around in the mortal world.
Running circles around the destination, he had hoped to be rid of the pursuers before returning. Eventually he gave up on this aspiration, deciding it was enough when they backed off. Sure he could tell they were still following behind, but he would take it.
Aside from his heavy breathing, there was silence between them until they reached the hotel. Not a second sooner than he breached the doors, the red-eyed man returned the mortal to her feet. [b “They should of beat us here, follow me.”] He probably hadn’t needed to say any of that, but he thought it might be slightly reassuring to let her know she would be reunited with her friend shortly.
Across the lobby, Zenya sat behind her desk shooting him an exasperated look. All he could do in return was offer an apologetic smile. The gaudy woman shook her head, but didn’t say anything. It confirmed that Gaius must have already come through. That made things easier. Kael bee lined for Gaius’ room with Eris in tow. The halls and elevator were vacant the whole way there. Normally that would have felt off, but given the circumstances it wasn’t unsettling.
Assuming Gaius locked the door, Kael wrapped at it with the back of his hand. Footsteps came into earshot on the other side and the door opened. Kael motioned for Eris to enter first. He followed shortly after.
Dahlia’s heart nearly jumped out of her chest at the knock of the door. It startled her, but once she got over the initial shock she was excited that Eris had arrived. When Gaius went to open the door she was standing. The minute she saw her friend, the woman ran across the room. She wrapped her arms around the taller woman, squeezing tightly. It felt as though she was about to cry. Somehow she managed to hold it back.
Sure the whole gunfire and semi-kidnapping thing might have been a little traumatic, but Kael found the mortal’s reunion over the top. They had only been apart for thirty minutes max. He shook his head, but didn’t say anything. Besides, the longer they took with that the more time he had to figure out how in the hell he was going to explain what was going on. Thinking about it, he was sure there was no easy way about it. Sighing he spoke [b “Go ahead and sit down so I can try and get you up to speed.”] A tired tone in his voice betrayed both his mental and physical state. [b “You too, Gaius.”]
When everyone seemed comfortable at the small table Kael took a seat himself. [b “Let me start off with an introduction. My name is Kael and this is Gaius.”] He gestured over toward the other man. The girls gave theirs in return and he finally had a name to put to the face. Eris, it was fitting. [b “As you have probably surmised, we are not human and that medallion you picked up isn’t just a trinket. It belongs to Hades, and it links directly to his domain. His daughter was borrowing it, but rather stupidly allowed a mortal to steal. We were sent to retrieve it before her dad finds out.”] It was bare bones but it explained half of what was happening. [b “This is unfortunately why we confronted you a few days ago… Sorry about that.”] His apology was directed at Eris and while it probably sounded superficial it was sincere.
[b “The world we are a part of isn’t all that different from your own. Politics are shit there too. Recently there has been something of a coup and things are a mess. My family has backed our former leader for eons. They were part of his cabinet and everything. My guess is that whoever the usurper is, is trying to be thorough and take care of the lose ends. Both my family and myself are going to be targeted. I thought I would have enough time to finish the mission and skip town... Unfortunately we hired help, Miss Ursula that you met before. Turns out she was in the other side’s pocket. As soon as she thought she had the medallion she bolted and had an ambush waiting for us. Not only does that mean they know where I am, but my guess is that she isn’t going to be happy once she figures out she was tricked. You are going to be on the shit list too and there is no wrath like that of a Valkyrie.”] That was basically where they were at now. [b “I don’t particularly like others dying because of my mistakes, so I’d like to try and keep you both alive at least until this gets sorted out.”] He was vaguely sure that was everything. [b “Any questions?”]
Eris was about to go for something she never thought she’d have to use, but the red eyed demon spoke with anger. Snapping at them that they didn’t have time for argument, and that they had better get out of there before more heat showed up. Eris realized then he was talking to her too. Go with them? Were they insane?! She voiced those concerns, slowly backing away to find the gun hidden in her nightstand.
“I’m not going anywhere with you guys! I want to know what the fuck is going on!” She shouted. She stepped back when Red Eyes stepped forward.
“Look, this isn’t personal. You got roped into something huge and it really sucks, but your best chance is to come with us and let us protect you.”
“Protect me?! You both tried to assault me!” She shrieked back, but they were interrupted from their argument as a canister came crashing through the window of her bedroom. Smoke began to spray out from the can and fill the room. Instantly Eris began coughing even as Red eyes took the can and flung it back out the window.
‘Who’s here?” Eris coughed, but he didn’t answer her question just barked another order at her.
“Times up, you have approximately thirty seconds to grab some clothes and the medallion before we are getting the hell out of here.”
Eris debated what her next move should be, but the two men left her room for other things, and Eris turned around with no choice. She grabbed her black frayed pants and jumped into them, grabbed her boots and quickly sat down to put her socks and boots on. She reached quickly for her black leather jacket and from in her nightstand pulled out the gun which she quickly stuffed the small box of ammo for in her other pocket and went to rush out the room to collect the Medallion. She was stopped in her tracks when she spotted Red Eyes picking Eve from her tank. Was he really rescuing the snake? Why did she find that endearing? Glaring she marched over and reached into the tank as well, locking eyes with Red in the process and reached under Eve’s water bowl. There under the round bowl was the medallion. She quickly tucked it away in a lined pocket of her coat and spotted Dahlia, already dressed and looking highly confused.
“Eris, what is going on?” Eris could hear Dahlia’s fear. To be fair, Eris was barely keeping her wits about her. She didn’t have a chance to reply as Red beat her to it. In the meantime, Gold was shutting the lights and locking the windows, except the one to the fire escape. He was also shoving the couch across the apartment to block the front door.
“We’re getting out of here. Gaius, grab one and let’s meet back at the hotel. They wouldn’t dare raid that place.” Eris frowned watching as the one with silver hair and gold eyes turned from his current task and grabbed the closest one -Dahlia.
“NO! Dahlia!” Eris shouted reaching for her, but was stopped by Red, who picked her up just as soon as Gaius had grabbed Dahlia. They ran out of the window first scaling the fire escape and vanishing into the darkness. Eris was stunned with fear as she watched the one named Gaius flee with Dahlia, her shrieks of fear filling the night air. Eris would have turned to Red to hit him, but he grabbed her and jumped out of the window of her room with her. Eris got out one startled shout from the force of his powerful jump into the air before it was muffled into his chest. Around her gunfire exploded and Eris had no choice but to hold on.
[center ——————— ]
Gaius hadn’t hesitated to grab Dahlia and bolt from the apartment that was about to be overrun by whoever their enemy was. He held her firmly against his side with one arm, while the other helped to brace him when he jumped between two building to make his way up to the rooftops. He glanced behind him once his feet hit the rooftop of the apartment building to see Kael land on the next building and take off north to circle around back to the Hotel. Gaius took the direct route, and holding Dahlia began to sprint, jumping from rooftop to rooftop. If they could just make the Hotel, they’d be in the clear. It was a serious NO-no and taboo to fight on neutral ground. If they did then it would turn into total chaos.
“Hang on tight,” Gaius told her and vaulted from the ledge of a roof to one that was significantly farther than the others had been and lower. He landed more gracefully than a panther would have, and glanced behind him, setting Dahlia on her feet. “Keep up,” He told her and took her hand, but she seemed to be reluctant. “Listen,” He said sensing her nervousness to go any further, and miraculously managed to keep his tone level, and his temper stemmed. He glanced down at his hand holding hers and wondered if she was keeping him calm -despite his elevated sense of urgency. “I’m sorry I can’t take you back. I’m sorry everything is so confusing, and I will answer all of your questions in time. First I need you to run with me. I need you to trust me,” He said staring into her eyes and gripping her hand tightly. “If you do not, I can not guarantee your safety. Please,” He nearly begged. There was a sincereness in his gaze. He wanted to keep her safe -she’d been disrupting his thoughts since they started this mess. He couldn’t fathom why, but everything about her was highly appealing to him. The moment he caught a whiff of compliance from her, he took her hand and made her run with him across the rooftop and dropped down into an alleyway.
They were hidden and alone, and would be able to slip out onto the streets, keeping their head low and make their way to the old hotel.
“Keep close,” He advised and draped an arm around her shoulder, as he pulled the hood to his jacket up over his head. He made it look like they were just a regular couple out walking at night to some unknown destination. They walked briskly and in silence until the front of the old Hotel came into view. He quickly rushed forward to the door and opened it up to let Dahlia in. The moment she stepped through Gaius was able to heave a sigh of relief. Until-
“Oh Zeus, you can’t be serious!” Gaius whipped his head around to see the dark skinned Transvestite back at her desk. Today she was sporting gold bangles, and a metallic magenta head wrap with large golden hoop earring and sparkling gold lipstick. “You know Mortals aren’t safe, Gaius,” Zenya warned. Gaius frowned.
“There’s one more coming. Don’t tell anyone you saw her,” Gaius warned shaking his coat off and draping it over Dahlia and using the hood to cover her face and hopefully mask her floral scent. She was tantalizing enough for him -he wasn’t about to see what her scent could do with blood sucking leeches. “Besides, you’re human,” He reminded as he escorted Dahlia across the foyer and to the elevator. Zenya rolled her eyes and watched them, not really approving. The only Mortals she generally allowed to stay ended dead by morning.
“Just keep your head down,” Gaius whispered as they entered the elevator. They went up to his floor, thankfully avoiding anymore interactions and Gaius quickly led her to the apartment where he ushered her inside and shut the door quickly, locking it and turned to see Dahlia was standing in his apartment, draped in his coat and looking so unsure about everything. Something in his ached to hold her and comfort her -to brush that furrow from her brow, but the moment he took a step towards her he seemed to startle her. Quickly he raised his hands and stepped back towards the small kitchen area. “Can I get you something to drink? Are you cold? I have blankets…” he tried in an attempt to help her feel safe and comfortable. “Kael and your friend shouldn’t be far behind.” They didn’t get caught in a serious shit storm. Gaius planned to give them an hour or he’d go out and look for them himself. “My name is Gaius, if you need anything… let me know. You’re safe here.”
Inside the apartment was just about what Kael expected after seeing the outside. And thank goodness, had it been much bigger he might have had a conniption at the task at hand. Having to search a bigger space for a literal coin would drive him absolutely mad. Sighing, he left the Valkyrie to the mortal’s rooms. There were plenty of places to look in the common area.
With the assistance of Gaius he had been hopeful to find the thing swiftly, but there was no such luck. The pair looked the place top to bottom with not so much as a hint in sight. Growing bored with the task, he was pretty sure at this point it was with one of the girls. It made the most sense; they had just been too optimistic about the situation.
Gravitating towards the tank holding the constrictor, the red-eyed man smiled at the snake. Leaning down he began gently speaking to her. The creature responded swaying her head to and fro as he went on. He was on the verge of asking if she had seen if the human had hid the medallion in view, but before he had a chance a voice stopped him in his tracks. The voice of someone who was promised to sleep through this whole operation. Groaning, Kael hoped the blonde could talk her way out of it.
To his dismay this was not the case. As soon as the mortal’s voice rang out in a scream both he and Gaius were in the room quicker than a New York second. They were only able to catch the tail end of Ursula’s departure, and it was about as unpleasant as they come. The betrayal left the demon absolutely seething, but there was an underlying hint of panic as well.
Maybe it was desperation, his brain just looking for something to distract from the horrible situation, but his eyes fell slowly. On the way down they scanned the woman in front of him. Somehow before that point he had failed to notice her lack of pants. For the moment he let his focus stay there. The lightly toned shape of her legs cloaked in pearly white was pretty much picture perfect. He found himself regretting their first encounter yet again. He didn’t allow the feeling to consume him; but kept his eyes moving to the floor with a sigh.
When his partner mentioned wanting the girl’s help, Kael’s full attention snapped up to him. His eyes narrowing into a glare, what they hell was he thinking? Bringing more people into this was only going to make things even more complicated. Look where hiring Ursula had gotten them! The disgruntled expression didn’t leave his face as he looked back to the human who wasn’t having any of it. His feeling of animosity didn’t lessen until learning that the Valkyrie had been had. Even then it was only slightly. After all, it wasn’t much of a consolation and their going back and forth was driving him nuts.
[b “Enough! We don’t have time for this.”] He growled, bringing their attention to him. [b “My guess is this place is about to get lit the fuck up, so if you all don’t mind we need to get moving. We can sort out all the fine details later, but I for one would like to live to see that happen.”] Self-preservation drove his attempt at diplomacy more than anything else. He sighed, knowing he was being overly critical towards the woman. It really wasn’t like him. He turned fully toward her while still keeping his distance before continuing. [b “Look, this isn’t personal. You got roped into something huge and it really sucks, but your best chance is to come with us and let us protect you.”] The man hoped it was enough.
His gaze stayed trained on her fine features, as she seemed to inwardly debate what she wanted to do. The pause was long, too long for his liking. Kael hadn’t been exaggerating when he said they didn’t have time.
The crash of broken glass sounded and a dark gray fog began to fill the room. Spotting the canister on the ground, the red-eyed man was on it inhumanly fast. He chucked the thing back out the shattered window. Remnants of the smoke scattered in tendrils through the room like thin grabbing hands. [b “They’re here.”] The words left an unpleasant, bitter taste in his mouth. Their assailants had forced his hand. [b “Times up, you have approximately thirty seconds to grab some clothes and the medallion before we are getting the hell out of here.”]
Out of the room in a flash, the demon was on a more personal mission. He didn’t have the heart to abandon the snake, however there was one other thing he had forgotten. And she didn’t come back to mind until he saw her in the living room. Kael put off dealing with her for the moment. That was until he noticed the cellphone in her hand. Stopping in his tracks, he couldn’t quite make out her exact words, but whatever they were would likely make this whole thing worse.
Deftly his hand rose up, lifting his glasses. The demon’s red eyes glowed, borrowing into her dark ones. Her mouth stopped moving and he began to speak. [b “You are going to hang up the phone.”] The mortal acted as he gave orders. [b “Now drop it, and stay right there.”] The thud of the device against the carpet left him reassured as he went to collect the boa from her tank.
It didn’t take much to coax the slithery girl up his arm and around his neck, but apparently it was too long because long haired woman broke from his trance and ran off to her friend’s room. It wasn’t an ability he used often, so he was understandably out of practice. Aggravated Kael swore under his breath. He had been hoping to grab her before she ran into Gaius. Something about that chick threw him off and that was the absolute opposite of what they needed.
Terrified at having lost control of herself, Dahlia’s eyes darted across the room. The almost numbing sensation soon faded, and when she could muster the strength to move again she bolted for Eris’ room. It was late, so Ross hadn’t answered the phone but she was able to leave a message that she prayed was enough to let him know what had happened. Through the doorway she was able to see the other man she had met just earlier than night. What were the chances that they were the ones who were targeting her friend?
It wasn’t until she saw Eris safe and relatively calm that Dahlia’s pounding heart was about to get any rest. Although the scene was somewhat disturbing. They had complete and utter strangers in their home, ones that had previously attacked her. She seemed way too level headed as this was playing out. Clearly Dahlia was missing something. Skirting around the tall silver haired man, she reunited with her friend who was pulling some pants on. [b “Eris, what is going on?”] There was urgency in her voice, betraying the sense of fear she was trying to hide.
The voice that responded was not the one she wanted to hear. It was the glasses wearing one again. [b “We’re getting out of here. Gaius, grab one and let’s meet back at the hotel. They wouldn’t dare raid that place.”] She had entirely no idea what was going on anymore. Dahlia just thanked her luck stars that she had managed to pass out fully clothed and wasn’t stuck in a robe or anything.
Much to Kael’s chagrin, his partner grabbed the smaller one. Probably since she was the closest, but he had his doubts. Hopefully the rage demon could keep his wits about him long enough to make it back to safety. That left Kael with the other one. He wasn’t mad about it but he also wasn’t confident she was going to let this be easy. And while he was going to ask how she wanted to hold on, a shuffling coming from the living room put the kibosh on that. He rushed over, scooping her up in his arms bridal style and made a quick escape out the open window Ursula had used.
Not any sooner than their emergence did the crackle of gunfire fill the night air. Pushing the mortal’s head into his chest, he attempted to keep her covered and braced before leaping from the fire escape and to the roof of the next building over. He only looked back to make sure his fellow demon had taken a different route before pressing on.
The snake’s coil tightened around his neck. Enough for him to reassured that she was secure there with him bounding about. He couldn’t afford to be careful; there were two shadowy figures hot on their trail. Had there been more information on the pursuers, Kael might have stopped and took them on. But there were too many unknowns as things were. The best course of action was to flee and save the fight for another night. After all, the hotel wasn’t too far away. And if he kept to areas that were just populated enough, they wouldn’t be able to make any moves without drawing attention to themselves.
The Tequila was ice cold and the lime tart and ripe. Eris gasped and growled with vigor.
“OOOH yeah! Party Goblin is out to play tonight!” She said clapping her hands on the bar. Ursula set her own shot down, licking her lips, and Dahlia turned to grab Eris’ face. Eris stood there dumbly, not feeling her cheeks as Dahlia pushed them together and informed her she was leaving them for the bathroom. “But girl code!” Eris tried, even as Dahlia vanished in the crowd to find the restroom. “I could have shown you the employees toilet, you terd!” She hollered drunkenly into the crowd, but Dahlia was gone and a group of extremely good looking men turned to gaze at Eris. “What the fuck are you looking at?” She snapped, waving a hand at them. Ursula snorted with laughter and came over to grab Eris.
“ Come on boo, let’s do another shot,” She whispered into Eris’ ear. “My treat.” The men watched Ursula plant a kiss to Eris cheek and they all grew heated, before turning away and assuming Eris and Ursula were a pair.
“Okay,” Eris murmured and saddled up to the bar while her coworker poured them another round of shots.
“I don’t want to hear your bitching tomorrow night, girlfriend,” her friend laughed as he slid the shots across the bar to them.
“You won’t… hopefully,” Eris said, and clinked shot glasses with Ursula and the Bartender before they all threw it back.
Gaius took another shot at the bar. It had been all he could do not to jump down from the railing of the second floor to rip the throat out of the mortal who had danced himself against his flower. Funny… when did he start thinking of her as [i His Flower]? Must have been the copious amounts of liquor. This wasn’t like him, and Kael was catching on that something was not right with him. He had to look away from her, he couldn’t keep watching -it was getting pathetic, and downright creepy. Mortals were taboo for demons, especially his kind. He could kill her with a single claw, a minor loss of temper… too dangerous. Gaius had learned centuries ago that mortal women were completely off the table for him. So why was he allowing himself to get so bent out of shape over one now? Ursula was their best bet for getting close to the women and retrieving the Medallion. He had to stay focused! He couldn’t let his mind be preoccupied by something so trivial as a pretty face.
He had just turned from the bar collecting another round of drinks when he saw his pretty flower talking to Kael. She swayed slightly where she stood, clearly intoxicated.
“How about you? Do you want to come dance?”
He paused, realizing she was speaking to him. His jaw slackened not sure how to respond. He’d love to dance with her -even though he hadn’t danced in nearly a century. He was also certain his waltz was not only rusty, but a bit dated for her. Thankfully Kael, stepped in and ushered her away before her scent became too overpowering for him. Already his golden eyes had started to gleam, and drunk or not, he didn’t want to frighten her. He slowly walked towards the railing of the second level and watched her descend the stairs back to her friend and Ursula. He only shared a glance with Kael, and continued to wait until they got the message that Ursula was leaving with the girls. Now it was only a matter of time…
Gaius and Kael left the club shortly behind the trio of women, following them at a distance back to their apartment. Now they just had to wait for the women to go to sleep and Ursula would find the Medallion and bring it to them. They waited a good hour before the lights started to turn off and finally they got their signal. Ursula opened the window into the living area at the fire escape. Gaius was the first to climb up, Kael following him and they both entered the apartment silently and looked around. Ursula stood at the door to Eris’ room and carefully pushed the door open.
“Wait-“ Gaius warned.
“What? She’s so drunk she’s not waking up, I made sure of that,” Ursula told them. Gaius frowned and watched as Ursula slipped inside the room. Sure enough the tall loud one was laid out on her bed in nothing more than a pair of panties and a tank top, long limbs stretched across the bedding. Gaius spotted the snake raising its head curiously from in its tank watching them.
“Did she mention where she hid it?” Gaius asked. Ursula frowned and shook her head.
This wasn’t exactly what he had in mind; digging around in their apartment while they remained unaware in a drunken slumber. He’d have preferred if they weren’t here at all while they did this. Ursula looked through Eris’ coat and her drawers, while Gaius slipped back out of the room and crossed over to the living area to help Kael look for the medallion. They turned over Pillows, looked under and between books, they checked drawers and air vents -anywhere they thought she might be hiding it. They even opened trinket boxes and decorations to find it, but with no luck. Gaius finally decided to go into Dahlia’s room to look, when they heard a noise from Eris' room. It made both Kael and Gaius tense and go still.
Inside Eris’ room Ursula stood in the closet looking through all the coat pockets and shoe boxes. The darkness didn’t bother them, they could see better at night anyway -Ursula however had different motives. She wanted to find the Medallion first when she heard a voice.
“Looking for something?” Ursula tensed and turned to see Eris sitting up in bed and glaring at her. Ursula wanted to frown, but smirked instead.
“You’ve got a higher tolerance than I expected.”
“Functioning Alcoholic. What the fuck are you doing in my closet?”
“Where is it? You know what I’m looking for,” She hissed crossing the room towards Eris. Eris produced the Medallion from where she’d been hiding it and held it up.
“Why do you want it?”
“Don’t be a stupid Mortal and hand it over. You’ll get yourself killed running around with that medallion,” Ursula warned. Eris slid off the bed to keep an eye on Ursula but to maintain distance.
“Why do you want it?” Eris asked a second time.
“It doesn’t matter. Now let me help you. Give me the Medallion. It’s not safe,” Ursula tried.
“What are you?”
“I am literally the stuff of nightmares, now give it to me or I’ll have to take it from you-“
“You’re with them…” Eris breathed backing away. Ursula finally smirked, but before Eris could react, Ursula was upon her in a flash and had her pinned down in the bed. Eris struggled against Ursula, who pried the medallion out of Eris' hand. “NO!” Eris shouted.
It was then the door to her room opened and she watched horrified as the two men who had attacked her in the Alley were now standing in her apartment. Ursula however grabbed Eris and threw her at them, taking the Medallion and rushing to the window. Eris fell into both Kael and Gaius, not really sure who to be more afraid of now. The two men or the batshit woman now about to jump out of her window.
“Sorry fellas, but a girl’s gotta do what a girls gotta do. Send my regards to Atlas,” She smirked wickedly -knowing that Atlas was dead now… which meant… she was with the enemy. Before they could stop her she dropped from the window into the night and was gone. Eris stumbled back, looking at the two men who now stood in her home looking furious and betrayed.
“What the fuck is going on?!” Eris snapped. She wouldn’t tell them, that Ursula had run off with a fake. All it was, was a simple Gold Dollar Coin, but in the dark and in her hurry, she hadn’t checked to make sure it was right. Eris was nearing the verge of a breakdown at this point, but she wasn’t about to let them get close to Dahlia.
“We don’t want to hurt you -we want your help!” Gaius suddenly said holding up his hands, his golden eyes gleamed in the darkness. It was Kael’s red eyes that had her backing away though.
“I don’t believe you,”
“That Medallion is a one of a kind. It can literally open the gateway to the Underworld. In the wrong hands life as you know it will cease to exist,” Gaius told her. Eris frowned looking between them. “WE have to go after her,” Gaius said to Kael. “THis is my fault, I’m sorry,” he said. Eris swallowed past the lump in her throat and slowly approached.
“she doesn’t have it,” Eris suddenly said catching them both off guard. “She took a gold dollar that I had. In the dark they look the same, but that doesn’t mean I’m telling you where I hid it. I don’t trust you, or what you plan to do with it. If it's as dangerous as you say it is, I’ll take it with me to the grave.”
“If you’r not careful, you will,” Gaius growled in warning.
Dahlia was pretty much content listening to Eris talk to their new friend. She looked like the type of gal who did what she wanted when she wanted. Not that much different from Eris, but she liked that type of person. They were usually the most fun. Her shorthaired friend was talking about the two of them when she felt someone come up behind her. Immediately Dahlia froze. Not really knowing what to say to make him go away, she went ahead and pushed off from him. This wasn’t enough of a deterrent though, seeing as he kept at it. Before she could do anything else the blonde jumped in. It was surprising that she beat Eris to the punch. Only moments later the short woman was practically sandwiched between the other two. It was nice that they were looking out for her, she really appreciated it, but sometimes she thought people thought she was a little too fragile. Perhaps she needed to work on being a hard bitch so that her friends wouldn’t worry about her so much.
Back at the bar one round turned into two and Dahlia was confident she would soon be thoroughly sloshed. Before things moved back to the floor, she was finally feeling too hot. Removing her jacket, she asked for Eris’ friend behind the bar to keep ahold of it. Another perk of knowing the bartender. She was happy to finally show off her outfit. A pair of high waisted shorts over some dark color tights, her top was strapless, flaring out at her midriff and barely meeting the hem of the shorts. The best part by far was that it showed off her boobs. Eris might have been the hot one with the graceful figure of a super model, but Dahlia had the tits of a victoria secret girl.
Exercise had the alcohol really pumping through Dahlia’s veins. She wasn’t sure who the DJ was, but he was playing all the right music. It was hard to take a break to catch her breath when she liked every song. Even more, she was getting way too hot with her leggings on. At the tail end of the current song, she announced that she was going to the bathroom to take them off. Eris wasn’t too keen on the idea, however Dahlia was determined to go on her own. Reaching up, she took either side of Eris’ face in her hands. Squeezing her cheeks into a pout and pulling her closer. “I am an adult, I can piss on my own.” That didn’t quite do the trick so she quickly added a caveat. “If I am not back in ten minutes you can come get me.” With that she dashed off to the restroom.
The line for the ladies room was outrageous and seeing as Dahlia had a time restriction she opted to go upstairs. That bathroom was always vacant because people were too lazy to climb the stairs. Turning on her heal she rerouted to the second floor. Reaching the top of the stairway, the dark eyed woman looked around. It was definitely less busy up here. There wasn’t even a visible line to the bathroom. There were however a few drunken patrons inside. She waited her turn. when she made it in the stall, she struggled to take off the tight article of clothing, but she felt ten times better once they were gone.
All that was left was to head back down. However, things are not that simple when a person in heavily intoxicated. Just as she was about to walk down the staircase again, a peculiar man at a table overlooking the main dance floor caught her eye. She followed his gaze with her own and it seemed as though he was watching Eris. Having exactly zero inhibitions at the moment, she made her way to the table. “Hello.”
The simple greeting snapped his attention to her. For a split second it looked like she scared the crap out of him, but he quickly gained his composure back. “If you promise not to be a creep, I can introduce you.” To be completely truthful, he could have been looking at anyone, but in her tipsy state Dahlia was unable to draw that conclusion. Just as she was unable to come to the conclusion that this was the same red-eyed man Eris had described to her less than a day ago.
Sitting in a club not doing much of anything was just about as dull tonight as it had been the night before. Except now there was the extra pressure of getting the job done quick and having to watch out for two women instead of the one. Not to mention Gaius was in a hissy about something or other. Perhaps he disliked the Valkyrie woman more than he had previously thought. Kael didn’t think it was too outlandish a theory, but probably not correct. The mystery had his curiosity piqued. He let his mind wander a he attempted to figure out which of the long list of things had the wrath demon in a tizzy.
It was then; right as he was distracted he heard a voice much closer than expected. Attention drawn to the feminine sound he saw an all too familiar figure. Pausing, he wasn’t entirely sure what to say. Swiftly he pulled himself together. However he was unable to answer before she chimed in again.
“You were looking at my friend. She is super pretty, right? I bet she is your type.” Her voice was overly jovial as she slurred her words ever so slightly. “You should come dance with us!”
He was basically back to himself once it was confirmed she didn’t know who he was. Thank the powers below that she hadn’t seen them the other night. “Yeah. I admit she is.” It wasn’t a lie. He had a thing for rough girls, too bad they had already assaulted her, or he might have taken up the friend’s offer. Looking down at the thin woman, she was looking around. No doubt she was trying to find her friend. It wouldn’t be long before she tracked her down and shut down their whole operation. He needed to get the short one back down there.
“But I don’t have the confidence quite yet. Do you think I could get a rain check?” He put on his biggest smile, asking the favor like he would actually cash in on it one day. Her response was rather defeated, but she looked as though she might actually leave him alone. That was until she saw Gaius.
“How about you? Do you want to come dance?”
Fuck this chick was a pushy drunk. Before she could do any more damage he jumped in for his fellow demon. “He isn’t much of a dancer.”
Standing up, Kael placed his hand on her shoulder turning her towards the floor. “Anyway, your friend is looking for you, you should probably get back down there.” It was much more straightforward than he liked to be, but she was either too dense or too drunk to take the hint. This last ditch effort seemed to do the trick though.
“Oh shit… times probably up.” He had no idea what that meant, but she said her goodbye and got out of their hair.
Kael was able to sit back down to relax once the friends were reunited again. She didn’t seem to point up to the balcony or do anything that drew the feisty one’s attention back to them. Either way they switched tables, just in case she did try to come back.
Time continued to dredge on after that, but eventually they received a message from Ursula that the women were leaving. He wasn’t sure how, but she had convinced them to let her come over. That or she manipulated them in to asking her themselves. Either way, the plan was working. It wasn’t long after the trio left that he and Gaius made their way back to the apartment complex to stake out until they were given the next signal. Hopefully it wouldn’t be too long. Kael really, reeeeally, didn’t want to waste another full night sitting outside the rundown building.
The day had been long and grueling for Eris, and though she was tired, she knew she wouldn’t be able to sleep. Between the Police Department in the morning, the Wiccan shop, and all the research they spent the afternoon doing, Eris wanted to just forget everything for a bit. She was feeling slightly self destructive -but that was normal for her. Dahlia had found a tumblr account with a good lead, and Eris had suggested bookmarking it for reference in the future. She had spent her afternoon working on her notes for her story. She had to get at least a pitch article together for her editor, plus she intended to send the article to a few online news sites.
Dahlia was the one to voice her desire for a drink, and Eris didn’t need her to say another word. She snapped her laptop shut and jumped to her feet. “Then let’s get this party started,” she said and with a grin hurried into her bathroom to shower and dress. Getting to drink without having to pour her own shots? Hell yeah! It was also a great excuse to get gussied up. Eris slipped on a fitted black body-con dress, and a pair of black heels. Her dark short hair was smoothed and her make-up on pointe. Eris honestly couldn’t remember the last time she and Dahlia had actually gone out to have fun and let lose. She even offered to leave early if Eris was too tired, causing Eris to laugh at her, and drag her right into the club, waving to the Bouncer in passing as he let them cut the long line at the front door.
They made a bee-line for the bar, and the bartender laughed when she saw them. Eris didn’t have to say anything, she bartender was already getting shots ready.
“You girls look like you need shots!” The girl said. Eris smirked at the bar, looking like she owned the place.
“We always need shots,” Eris said as if that should have been obvious.
“Good thing I know what you want,” The girl said and poured the drinks from her strainer into shot glasses. “Bottoms up, bitches,” She told them, taking one for herself. Eris smirked and turned towards Dahlia.
“To a night of shenanigans and selfies we’ll regret in the morning!” their glasses clinked together and they both downed the shot. They did two more, before grabbing an actual drink and carried it with them to the dance floor. Eris decided she wasn’t going to let anyone or anything ruin her night out with her best friend.
The dance floor was packed with people, their warm bodies fighting off the chill from outside. The music was loud and heavy with base, the DJ expertly spinning his records and hyping the crowd. Normally Eris was behind the bar, just wishing she could be on the other side. Most nights she just enjoyed watching the people, and telling gross creepers to ‘Back off’ from other women at the bar. Not tonight, tonight she was going to enjoy herself and not let anything bother her.
Ursula sat beside Gaius and Kael watching the dance floor. They had followed the girls from their apartment to the club. Ursula decided then to make her move, once Gaius pointed out the pair of women they were after.
“Are you sure they didn’t leave the medallion at their apartment?” Ursula asked from the railing overlooking the dance floor. Gaius frowned uncertain, but Kael seemed confident that the tall loud one still had it. Where she was hiding it on her person, Gaius had no idea. Ursula scoffed telling him he knew nothing about women and female ingenuity. Gaius would have told her off, but when he turned to tell her so, she was gone.
“God Damned Valkyrie…” he grumbled darkly, and watched with Kael as Ursula worked her way across the dance floor towards the two girls. They both watched as she effortlessly joined their duo and danced with them. Gaius was stunned further by how quickly the short haired one welcomed her, followed quickly by the other.
Gaius had learned her name -no thanks to the internet. Dahlia Morgan. It was a fitting name as she reminded him of a flower. She oozed an innocent purity about her that called to Gaius’ darker desires. As a wrath demon, her serene aura was intoxicating… not being able to approach her without recourse was infuriating. He watched an unknown male approaching her, and dancing behind her. Unable to do a damn thing, Gaius stepped away from the railing and turned away from the dance floor. He wasn’t worried about her, he was confident the tall one would do something feisty if the mortal didn’t exercise restraint. He knew Kael was eyeing him curiously, because even as a Wrath Demon, Gaius was impressively mellow… most of the time. His golden glower settled on a pretty blonde at the second floor bar. She smiled at him as if attracted to the dark aura that peeled off of him in thick waves. Before she could make a face or motion for him to come to her, he turned away -disinterested and glanced back curiously at the dance floor.
“So where are you from?” Eris asked over the music to their new friend. She was tall and fit, built like a brick shithouse, and the body of a sex goddess. Her name was Ursula, her coy wit and striking features was making Eris question her own sexuality, but maybe that was the liquor talking.
“My family is from Norway, but I’ve been living in the states since I was a little girl,” Ursula said still moving her body to the music. “I just moved here.”
“I grew up here! I met Dahlia while in school,” Eris said excitedly pointing to Dahlia, who was looking uncomfortable as a man came up behind her and began to awkwardly grind against her. Before ERis could get a word in though, Ursula had grabbed the man by his shirt and tore him off.
“Do you mind, creep? You were not invited,” She said and shoved him aside. Eris watched wide eyed, and possibly in love as the guy glared and flipped her off.
“Fucking bitch,” he growled at her. Ursula made a face.
“Ohh no, my feelings are hurt,” she said sarcastically.
“Get the fuck outta here!” Eris added, shoving him for good measure, and moved to block Dahlia from another unwanted creep.
“If she wanted to dance with you, she would have. Buh-bye!” Eris grinned, liking this Ursula immensely and grabbed a hand from Ursula and Dahlia.
“I think it’s time for another round of SHOTS!!!!” She shouted. “Come on Ursula, you’re with us now!” Eris excitedly grabbed Dahlia, spinning her around and ran off with her towards the Bar.
Ursula lingered for only a moment, glancing behind her towards the upper level and smirked at the scowling faces of Kael and Gaius. She then followed Dahlia and Eris towards the bar. These two mortals were friendly and fun, Ursula was going to almost feel sorry for stealing from them. Humorously the woman giving the two demons the most trouble, was the most inviting, and if Ursula wasn’t mistaken open to same-sex flirtations. What was proving difficult and impossible for the demons was going to be a cake walk for her….
Dahlia was hesitant to return to medallion. Still, she had said they would take turns just in case, so she really couldn’t fight her friend on it. Handing over the token, Eris continued. She thought it was a good plan to look online again. Now that they had a more narrowed idea to search it was infinitely more likely that they would find something. Things almost seemed like they were looking up. If it wasn’t for the metaphorical dark cloud that seemed to be hanging overhead, she might have actually believed things could get better.
Then like a switch was flipped, Eris’ shining light of a personality started to claw its way out. While it was probably forced, Dahlia still felt a great sense of relief. The tall woman’s plotting to go out try and blow off some stress was crazy, but really tempting. “Actually… That sounds super nice right now.” A dozen or so drinks were probably do her some good right about now. “Who knows, maybe I will pull an Eris and spend the night with a handsome stranger.” She nudged her lightly with her elbow. Dahlia hadn’t gone out in ages, but it had been even longer since she fooled around with anyone. She laughed melodically at the idea, not entirely forgetting it when the conversation moved on.
Things only got better the closer they got to home. Both the mood and her hopes that they might be okay heightened. It was only a short walk to Mahlik’s place, but in that snippet of time Eris dropped quite the bomb on her. It seemed nuts to try and go directly up against these people. Even if they were only half as dangerous as Dahlia was thinking, it would still be stupid. Although, the idea that Ross might be in on it placated the longhaired woman some. But before she could say anything on the matter, a familiar voice rang out. They had made it.
It was Dahlia’s turn to sit back and watch Eris do the talking. Sure she chimed in when Mahlik spoke to her, “I’m trying but trouble follows her.” The tone was comedic, but there was a lot of truth in her statement.
Mahlik was more Eris’ friend than her own. Not that she disliked the man by any means. He was definitely a sweetheart; at least he had always been nice to her, but a bad feeling washed over Dahlia as they moved to a more secluded area. Moving away from the beaten path only meant one thing, bad news, something they didn’t need any more of. Still she listened intently to the man’s story in disbelief. Where did people get the audacity to do these sorts of things?
The woman doubted that all these strange and terrible things weren’t all somehow connected. Sure there wasn’t any solid evidence, but Dahlia just had this nagging feeling that it was all some intricately woven web and they were about to be caught right in the center of it. It wasn’t a good sentiment.
Bidding Mahlik farewell with a smile, the walk home wasn’t spent in silence. The two ladies bounced ideas of what might be going on off of one another the whole way there. The conversation didn’t end when they made it back to the apartment either. It went straight up until the point that they were both on their computers scouring the Internet for any hints. Honestly there wasn’t a lot of reliable information on transportation whatever, but there was plenty speculation and hearsay. Sorting through it all was the real task at hand.
They had probably spent close to an hour sifting though it when Dahlia found something. “This might be nothing, but I’ve found a tumblr account here. It’s talking about something that sounds an awful lot like what we’ve got.” She scrolled a little farther down the dash before pausing. “Do you think the username DownWithTheDeity is edgy enough for our missing Ben? ‘Cause I am pretty sure this is a picture of Eve.” Swiveling her computer screen around to face Eris. Honestly, she was no reptile expert, but the snake in the picture sure looked a whole lot like the one that was currently in the living room.
Once she got a confirmation, the short woman sent a link to the page to Eris. After that she continued to read through the posts. “If we go ahead and assume the girl he is talking about in these is Kara, it seems like the coin is actually hers. He is also claiming to have actually seen her use it to travel.”
Even though everything they were finding was leading to some oddly supernatural stuff, Dahlia was having a hard time believing it. This all had to be a joke. Perhaps an elaborate ruse set together by some guy that Eris had jilted. And if it did turn out to be true, there wasn’t a chance in hell that anyone would take the pair seriously. An earthshattering story had fallen into their laps and there was no way for them to tell it without losing all credit in the journalism community.
After gleaning everything she could from the social media account, Dahlia closed her computer and flopped back on he couch. It was hard and lumpy, but she was tired of sitting up straight. With a long sigh she spoke, “I need a drink. At this point I don’t even care if we go out for it.” Sure going out sounded fun, however a bottle of whiskey in their apartment was just as viable an option. Not to mention with all that talk about ketamine she wasn’t sure hitting the club was a wise plan. Then again as long as Eris was there, there weren’t a whole lot of people who would mess with them. At least not in clubs that she frequented.
Although after the comment, Eris seem to have a fire set beneath her. There seemed to be a fierce determination in her eyes that said staying home wasn’t an option. And so Dahlia agreed to go out. It had been a long day so she took the time to shower and get herself properly gussied up for a night out. It was getting pretty late as it was, so she tried to be quick.
All in all the shorter woman was surprised to see Eris still had so much energy when they headed out. After all, she hadn’t slept the night before. Then again she had had more than her fair share of caffeine that day. She had loaded up on it at the police station and when they took lunch before headed to the Wiccan shop. “Let me know if you get tired, so we can head home.” Sure she might have been mother hen-ing her friend, but she wanted her to be healthy and happy, so she didn’t mind if she was a little on the annoying side.
The walk to the club was one the two of them knew well. The entire trip there, Dahlia felt herself getting excited. It was a little embarrassing. She really needed to get out more. There was a stout man watching the entrance of the establishment, he gave a smile and nod to Eris as the ladies strolled on in without a problem. Inside, the place was already packed with people. It was a weekday, but a weekday in New York City might as well have been a weekend anywhere else. The flashing lights and hot atmosphere were welcome after having been out in the cold winter air.
The friends made a beeline for the bar. First thing first, they needed to take a couple of shots to start this party off right. After that Dahlia would be relaxed enough to actually go dance. It wasn’t as though she was entirely terrible at it when she cut loose, but when she was sober things got dicey. The brunette had the tendency to be too self-conscious and focus on her movements. So much that they didn’t flow at all. It was a hot mess and better left entirely avoided. And thus she found herself keeping pace with Eris, shot for shot, at the counter before they hit the floor.
Normally Eris did the talking. She was blunt and to the point, got in your face and practically demanded answers. This time, she stood back, allowing Dahlia to try her hand at talking to an informant. Eris stood glowering in the background, making sure that despite Dahlia’s gentle disposition -they weren’t going to be able to swindle her. Not while she was around. Eris didn’t pay much attention to all the knick-knacks in the shop, or the woman behind the desk. She was on the heavier side, with a kind face, warm eyes, and a friendly smile. She was kind and informative, confirming what Eris already thought. It was of Greek Origin. The theory that it was used for otherworldly travel had Eris doubting that. Creepy dudes with glittering red and gold eyes were far fetched enough, she wasn’t about to entertain the idea of hopping between worlds. People really would think she was going crazy, and say it was about time.
The woman suggested calling an associate of hers, and Eris had yet to say a word. She spent the next few minutes looking around the store with mild interest. Her interest didn’t spike until the man arrived. He was unimpressive, short and thin with greying hair, a stern expression and a worn old suit. Without speaking a word he walked up to the counter and held out his hand. Eris made her first facial expression at that. He reminded her of a pompous man, walking on airs because he thought he was smarter than everyone else. To Eris, he looked like a nut job in a suit. Eris would give him this, he had one hell of a Poker Face. He flipped it over, his eyes squinting at the markings before he spoke, his voice was lower than she expected, monotonous and bored.
“It’s a transportation ornament. It is said that those who were favored by the gods were given them in order to slip between this plane and theirs. I’ve never seen one in person though.” He might have looked disinterested, but Eris saw a greedy glimmer in his gaze and her own eyes narrowed on him. “How much for it?” he asked. Eris felt a swell of pride as her friend held her ground informing him they wouldn’t sell. He asked her to reconsider, and that he would pay any price. Eris caught Dahlia glance back to her, but Eris held the man’s gaze with fierce intensity. Dahlia was quick to pick up on that reiterated that they were not selling it, but would consider him if they decided to. For now that was enough for the man and he handed over a simple business card. Dahlia took it, and Eris watched him leave the store in a disappointed huff. Something about him was just… off.
The woman behind the counter tsk’d as the collector left, and Dahlia thanked her for her help before they both walked out into the chilly afternoon air.
“What do you think?” Dahlia asked even as Eris stared distractedly around the city streets.
“I think we are either chasing a ghost… or something bad is about to happen. I’ve got a bad feeling, and it’s not because Mercury is in retrograde,” Eris said with a frown and turned to face Dahlia. “Let me take the medallion. I’ll hold onto it and find a place to put it, at least if those guys show up again, they’ll come after me and not you.” Dahlia didn’t like that already worried about her enough, but Eris had seen those guys first hand and wasn’t about to let what happened to her happen to Dahlia. “Let’s head home and get online and start doing some research into Greek Mythology and see if we can’t find some answers,” Eris said. She had a sinking feeling that they would only end up with more questions then answers. Eris could tell Dahlia was still worried about her, and so Eris turned and gave her a smile, being taller, Eris looped an arm around Dahlia’s shoulders. “Maybe afterwards we’ll go out and shwasted, my treat. I made good money last night,” Eris said with a grin, doing her best to bounce back to her normal self. “First things first, I owe Mahlik some money,”
They hopped back on the trains to go back to Hells Kitchen, taking another hour from their day as they crossed the massive city of New York. When they finally got off the train in Hell’s Kitchen, Eris felt a modicum of safety to be back in her part of town. She had noticeably relaxed since leaving the Pagan Shop, but she was still put off by the gentleman who came to observe the medallion. Suddenly a thought struck Eris and she stilled just outside the train station. It was dangerous and seriously insane. “I just had an idea…” she murmured, falling back into step with Dahlia, and stuffing her hands in her coat pockets to keep them warm. “I know it’s going to sound crazy… but I think we need to set a trap. We can try and catch these guys. We’ll call Ross and get him in on it and he can help us, and he’s the only one I trust-“
“Trust?” Eris stopped hearing Mahlik, sitting outside smoking a cigarette. “Like how I trust you-“
“Got your money, of course babe, you know I wouldn’t leave you hanging. You take good care of me,” She winked back to Dahlia and jumped up the steps to hand Mahlik his money, he grinned and stuffed it in his pocket and waved to Dahlia.
“Hey Dolly, you keepin’ this girl out of trouble? You know I heard some weird shit today,” He said and waved a hand for them to follow him to the side of his building and into a nearby alley. Eris followed with Dahlia and Mahlik glanced out to make sure they weren’t seen and finally pushed his hand through his thick coarse and wild hair.
“What’s the weird shit?” Eris asked nonchalantly.
“Aight, So I’m doin’ my thing earlier today, right? Anyway, this kid walks up, asks me if I know where he can get some ketamine. First of all, I don’t play that game -got mad respect for the ladies,” Eris smirked at him, and he continued on. “So I tell him I ain’t got it, but if he tells me what it’s for, I might be able to score some. Cuz I’m like, what the fuck, I’ll see what this kid is up to-“
“What did he look like?” Eris asked. Mahlik waved a hand.
“Bish, I don’t know. He was some scrawny white kid -all them little motherfuckers look the same to me. He was wearing a black hoodie and sunglasses. Never took them off. Said his boss wanted the ketamine. So I was like, yeah aight -how much you need? Get this Bish, he wanted a whole kilo of this shit.” Eris frowned.
“A Kilo of Ketamine? He either wants to party pretty hard or wants to do a lot of raping,”
“Nah…” Mahlik shook his head. “This was some back alley bullshit, this dude wanted me to sell him this Ketamine, and not only that he wanted to know if I was interested in dealing in humans. Like what the fuck, man? I deal weed, girlfriend. I ain’t about some Human Trafficking bullshit. I don’t know what this dude was thinking, he was straight tripping on some shit. Couldn’t tell what it was though. I tell you this because I know how you crazy enough to look around. Anyone gonna figure that mess out in this neighborhood it’s you two,” Mahlik said gesturing between the two women. “But ya’ll play safe. Dude gave me a number, just a number no name, here,” He handed Eris the black card, she had to tilt it under the light to get the silver lettering of the number to show.
“That’s a fancy card.”
“Yeah, no shit… hey, you be safe, both you guys. You need anything, I got your back girl. I’ll give you more info later.”
“Thanks, Mahlik. Keep your ears open for any more news,” Eris said and slipped an extra twenty into Mahlik’s hand. He grinned and nodded.
“Yeah Boo, I got you. You too Dolly,” He said and pointed with a grin and a wink at Dahlia as Eris escorted her out of the alley. Eris frowned. Kids were going missing, a human trafficking ring was in the works in the area, and she was probably carrying a mythical talisman in her pocket… Could this week get any worse?
It was a wonder people ever reported anything with how long it took. Dahlia spent a lot of her time bored, but at least she felt safe in the precinct. There was no way those two guys would have the audacity to pull anything with them surrounded by cops. At least not if they were altogether sane, which was not something the woman would bet on. The mixture of emotions she felt when they were through was unusual, but the photographer kept it to herself.
It was a quick trip to the Greek restaurant. A well deserved treat before they got back to business. Dahlia ate slower than usual. Taking the time to relax, something she hadn’t been able to do at the police department. Across the table her friend was uncharacteristically quiet. It put her in a state of unrest, although she would do her best to endure the strange silence.
Entering the rather unique shop, the short woman allowed her eyes to wonder. She had hopes of seeing the mark someplace among the crowded walls and tables. Their luck, however, was not that good. Once she was content in having seen just about everything, Dahlia meandered her way up to the woman minding the desk. The blonde was heavy set, the sides of her thick thighs spilling over the sides of the padded stool she was sitting upon. Garbed in bright colors, the woman almost seemed out of place in the shop, at least against the preconceived notion that Dahlia had in her head. When she made it up to the glass table that served as a point of sale, she was met with a bright, albeit crooked, smile.
“Hello, we called in about a symbol last night.” Eris had been the one to make the call so she wasn’t entirely sure if this was the person that had been on the other end of the line. However they were lucky enough that it was.
“Ah, yeah, I remember talking to you.” Dahlia didn’t bother correcting her on it. “Can I see the medallion?” Not wasting any time, the woman opened up a dark wooden drawer in the stand next to her to retrieve a small case.
Fishing the pendant out of her bra, the dark haired woman was glad it was winter for once. It would have been terribly embarrassing if she had been a sweaty mess. The trinket was uncomfortably warm in her palm, but it was better than warm and moist. Giving it one final look over she handed it to the older woman across the counter.
Taking up the bronze colored piece, the blonde opened the small dark case. Inside were all manners of magnifying tools. Taking one up she then reaching out she flipped on a desk lamp that sat on the glass top. It gave off a yellow tinted light. There was a moment of stillness as she examined it. Dahlia watched nervously, hoping that she could give them any sort of hint.
Eventually there came an answer of sorts. “Well, I’m no expert in this sort of thing, but it is definitely Greek like you said.” Using her pinky she pointed at a small faded symbol at the edge. “It is hard to make out but it looks like a symbol that used to be ascribed to travels especially those which are other worldly.” The lady looked like the type that wouldn’t say anything if she wasn’t fairly certain. This gave Dahlia optimism they might finally have a lead. “Either way, this is definitely be something my buddy wants to see. The guy’s a self-proclaimed expert with this sort of thing. He lives nearby, so if we are lucky he will able to come right down.” She smiled again, an excited look in her eyes.
Nodding, she was glad to hear they probably weren’t going to have to run across town again. Dahlia watched as the woman picked up an old touch dial phone. The thing looked ancient. All the numbers were worn, but the saleswoman had both the placement and the number she was dialing memorized. Her associate answered almost immediately and she explained what was going on. The smile on her face told Dahlia he had answered positively. Once the phone was back on the hook, the blonde’s attention came back to Dahlia.
“Alright. He is on his way, should only take a couple of minutes. But let me give you a quick heads up. Richard’s the type of guy who’s a little pushy. He collects this sort of thing so he might try and buy this thing off you. Just stand your ground if you want to keep ahold of it, okay?” It seemed like an okay trade to her. Dealing with a pushy man was nothing especially at the price of information. Generally Eris was better at that sort of thing though.
True to what had been said the man arrived in less than ten minutes. He was short and thin. His hair was dark with streaks of gray running scatter through it. And for some reason he wore an extremely serious face. Without speaking a word he walked up to the counter and held out his hand. The Wiccan woman obliged him, setting it lightly in his palm. His stern expression narrowed as he made out the details laid into the faded metal. The look in his eyes didn’t change even when he began to speak. “It’s a transportation ornament. It is said that those who were favored by the gods were given them in order to slip between this plane and theirs. I’ve never seen one in person though.” His voice stayed put on a monotonous track as each syllable passed over his lips. However there was a slimmer in his eye that betrayed his stoic countenance. “How much for it?”
It was just as the portly woman from behind the counter had predicted. “I am afraid we aren’t interested in selling it at the moment.” She did her best to keep her voice stern, reflecting the look on his face.
“Mmmm,” he made a sound of displeasure. “I believe you should reconsider.” He stood up straight, landing him a couple of inches taller than Dahlia. “I am willing to pay whatever the price,” his words carried a mildly threatening tone.
Dahlia threw Eris a glance letting her know she might need some help, but she was going to try one more time before she let her friend rip him a new one. “That is very kind of you, but we are going to hold on to it for a while longer. You will definitely be the first one we get ahold of if we do consider selling it though.” She did her best to smile, although it probably looked a little forced.
Richard sighed deeply. “Very well.” Reaching around to his back pocket he pulled out a business card and handed it over to Dahlia. “If I don’t answer just leave a message.” After that he gave a curt farewell and left, a look of dissatisfaction on his features.
The short woman felt a little bad not having properly thanked him, but there really hadn’t been time between all that had happened. She turned to the woman beyond the counter once again. “Thank you for all the help.” Then she turned to regroup with Eris knowing she had been listening in on everything. “What do you think?”
Making sure to be pleasant, Kael returned the woman’s greeting, but for the most part he was quiet. He left the introductions and all manner of speaking to Gaius. At least he would until things were completely hashed out. In the meantime he was on high alert.
The quick worded exchange between Gaius and Ursula had Kael’s eyes bouncing between the pair. They had obviously done this before. Not that he didn’t trust Gaius before this, but it put him at that whatever deals they had struck before ended with both of them still in one piece. With a look from his partner the deal was done and the three of them would now be working together from this point on. He only hoped that meant things would be easier and not harder.
“Alright, now that that is out of the way. We need to get this show on the road. I have been thinking about it and I believe the best plan of action would be to get Ursula in that apartment.” If she was as good as her price tag suggested it wouldn’t be a problem. “If we wait for them to go out we can set up someplace near their house. We’ll catch them as they are coming home.” It was simple, so long as it didn’t freak them out enough to make them turn tail and run the other way. But judging by what he had seen of the shorthaired one the two wouldn’t be able to stay away from another girl in need.
“We’ll stake out and when the time is right play out a scene similar to what happened last night, but our target will be Ursula. When they come across that we,” he motioned between himself and Gaius, “can skedaddle and leave her behind. My guess is that they will come to help.” He turned his attention to the Valkyrie. “So long as you put on the water works and ask for someplace to calm down I am fairly certain they will invite you in. Then it’s just a matter of snatching the medallion and getting the hell out of there.” The one worry was that the wily one might stay up all night again. If that was the case it might come down to a conflict. Either way he assumed Ursula could handle it. “I’m confident that it would work, unless either of you have a better plan or something to add.” His red eyes bounced between his two cohorts. The sense of urgency continued to pull at his gut.
Gaius couldn’t sit still, his leg was shaking while he burned through another cigarette. Across from him at the table sat Kael looking otherwise uninterested in anything happening around him. Gaius kept checking his watch waiting for Ursula to arrive, but in the meantime he couldn’t shake the look off of Mara’s face when Kael and he had met with her in the room Zenya sent them to. Kael wasn’t having any of her drama, and Gaius was sure it had something to do with his brother. Gaius wasn’t about to go asking questions, because by the look of Kael’s face when he snapped at Mara, Kael didn’t want anything to do with it. Well if Kael wasn’t away from it, Gaius would be wise to stay away as well.
Gaius knew Ursula had arrived when A. He could smell her perfume, and B. Kael sat just a little bit straighter. Gaius stood up to greet the angelic being, and extended his hand for her.
“Gaius,” She greeted and leaned in sharing a kiss to each of his cheeks. Ursula turned then and Gaius moved to make the introductions. Ursula was tall, svelte, with clear Scandinavian features of pale skin, icy blonde hair, and piercing blue eyes. She had an hourglass figure, and wore expensive clothes. She looked like she had come from Corporate America with her sleek black pencil skirt, and airy silken white blouse, not to mention the purse she carried or the red soled Louis Buttion Heels on her feet.
“Ursula Tijis, meet my partner Kael Neu, Kael this is Ursula,” Gaius introduced and made sure Ursula was seated before taking up his own seat. He knew a few of the more… undesirable immortals sneered at him for catering to a creature like Ursula. Demonic Hierarchy avoided Angelic Soldiers like Ursula or even the Arch Angel Michael at all costs, and vice versus. It was a wonder how Gaius and Ursula rubbed elbows the way they did. However, that is a story for another time.
“Kael, bonchance.” She greeted, and set her bag down and leaned back in her seat. Within a moment Zenya had arrived to take their drink orders and was off to make them. They didn’t begin their conversation until Zenya returned bringing them their drinks and left. “You mentioned you have a problem…” Ursula said sipping from her dirty martini. Gaius glanced from Kael to Ursula and nodded.
“You could say that… Clyatt lost her medallion. Mortal boy had it, opened it, she fell through with him and the Medallion was picked up by two women who have it now.” Ursula looked unimpressed, and actually yawned.
“Oh wow, excuse me… I thought you called me for something important… not because Hade’s spoiled little shit got busy with a mortal and lost daddy dearest’s Covenant,” she gave Gaius a pointed look. “I’m not going to kill two mortal women because they succeeded where you failed,” Gaius had to stem his temper and spared a look to see how Kael was doing with his. Ursula was not one to mince words or sugar coat anything.
“We need the medallion back,” Gaius tried.
“Oh Boo hoo, I suppose the Lords of the Underworld are trapped… maybe Hades shouldn’t have let little Clara run off with a very powerful Covenant.”
“Hades doesn’t know… as far as we know,” Ursula scoffed at Gaius, making a most unladylike snort.
“If he doesn’t know, he will soon. When he finds a Mortal boy running amok in his underworld, Cerberus with either turn him into a chew toy, or Hades will dump him in the River Styxx and let him drown. Then he’ll really be trapped…”
“We are trying to avoid that, but for now, Clyatt can’t return to this world, and she can’t bring the mortal back with her. If Hades does find out, it could threaten exposure… he’d rain Hell upon this place, and the all the Maligned Demonarchies would follow suit, including Satan himself!” Gaius hissed quietly. Ursula sipped at her martini once again, seemingly unphased by any of Gaius’s words. “We need for you to get close to the two women who currently have it in their possession and steal it back for us. They know our faces, so we can’t get closer.”
“Half a Mill,” Ursula stated coolly. “Come on Gaius, you know I’m not cheap, even with a friendly discount” She flashed him a flawless smile showcasing petite fangs that could be considered cute until one remembered she was technically an Angel of Odin AllFather. Gaius sighed.
“A Quarter Mill… You like to incur work related expenses,” Gaius growled. Ursula only smirked.
“Fine… Three Hundred Thousand –final offer.”
“Done,” Gaius said and cut his palm with a small silver knife in his pocket, he handed it to Ursula who cut her own palm and together they shook hands. They had made a pact, a blood binding contract… because sometimes paper couldn’t be trusted –but a blood oath and witness worked every time… it was actually rather standard way of contractual agreements among immortals. It was olde magic and fully binding. Gaius looked over at Kael… Ursula was now working for them.
Dahlia wasted no time in dragging Eris to the prescient to speak with Ross. Eris had been busted a few times as a juvey for minor drug and petty theft charges… so sitting in a Police station, even innocent, didn’t sit well with Eris. Ross was however, kind enough to chat with Eris out on the sidewalk so she could smoke a cigarette and tell him what happened, and what the men who attacked her looked like. She did have to go inside and sit with a sketch artists, but even he looked at her crazy when she mentioned red and gold eyes. She never mentioned them again. Dahlia had been patient all day, allowing Eris to stay cooped up in the Police Department while she began all the proper channels. By the time Eris had finished it was well into the evening and she was starving for food. That was exactly what they did. They left the HKPD and made it to their favorite Greek Restaurant… mostly because Eris wanted a Gyro… and the owner was a childhood friend, so… discount on food was always a plus.
After food it was off to grab the train to take them to Astoria and Queens so they could meet with their contact at the Wiccan shop. Eris didn’t really talk much, which was highly unusual for her, and she knew it was probably putting Dahlia on edge. Eris wasn’t doing too well mentally –not since she really began to recall all the tiny details from that night. She constantly checked her pocket for the medallion, remembering that Dahlia had it for the time being. Something was definitely off about it, and Eris could only wonder what it had to do with the missing people. For now they were stuck until they could figure out what the Medallion meant. At first she thought it was just some fancy little trinket, or something to do with whatever cult she was about to expose…but when those two men had shown up to reclaim it… Eris knew then it was more than just a trinket.
The subway train stopped in Queens and from there Dahlia and Eris walked to the corner street that housed the Wiccan shop. It wasn’t hard to find, the outside was decorated with decorated candles, pentagrams, and a myriad of other things that Eris had no idea what they were. For the time being, Eris walked around and for once allowed Dahlia to do the talking, but Eris kept her ears primed for listening.
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