A sense of foreboding washed over Damien as he stared at the dark monstrosity that passed for a castle in the only place he knew as home. This was the last place he wanted to be. In fact, in the last hundred years he had done his best to avoid it. Now he was willingly walking into what he knew was a trap to rescue the one angel who could save humanity while at the same time destroy his existence.
Then there was…him.
It had taken almost a thousand years to escape the living hell inside that castle. Years of unending pain and suffering, and now Damien was walking right back in on his own accord. He had to be ten kinds of an idiot for doing this, but for Sapphira, Damien would walk to the deepest foulest pits of hell and back if it meant she was safe.
After what seemed like a life time of searching, Sapphira walks right into his arms without realizing who she is or how dangerous it was to be there. Never in his wildest dreams had Damien consider they would send her to earth as a human. How many lifetimes had she lived not knowing who she was? What she was. When Damien understood why he was having such a strong reaction to a human, that it was Sapphira in the last place she should be, his heart had stopped.
Hiding her from those that would use her to control the fate of the universe was the only solution he and the others could think of to keep her safe. There was one condition, though. He had to sever all ties. They might as well have asked him to rip out his soul, because that was what it felt like when they took her from him. She had been with him since the beginning of his existence, and having that presence taken from his so thoroughly had left him weak and vulnerable.
That was how the lord of this realm found him. Then the real fun began. The same fun Damien knew Gideon was enjoying right this moment. He may not like the angel, in fact he was insanely jealous of his connection to Sapphira, but Damien would never wish that kind of pain and humiliation on anyone. Not anymore.
When he had dragged himself out of his prison, Damien was a different being. All he had wanted was to be left alone, and until now he had managed it. Keeping his whereabouts from one of the most powerful beings in this realm was not easy. However, Damien did have an edge over those who had tried, and failed, in the past. One he tried not to dwell on too much. Even now, knowing made him shudder in revulsion.
A sharp and sudden pain shot through his chest, radiating outwards to his fingers and toes. Gasping, his hand clutching his shirt over his heart, Damien’s knees buckled sending him to the ground. At the same time a howl of rage shook everything around them.
“What the hell?” Logan gasped slowly uncovering his ears as he scanned the area around them, looking for the attack he knew had to be coming.
Damien tried to answer, but he could barely suck enough air into his lungs to stay conscious. There was a movement beside him and a hand rested on his shoulder.
“She’s escaped,” Michel said gently. “She’s safe.”
Damien could only nod that he had heard the angel. Although now that He knew how close Sapphira had been and what her power tasted like in this new form, safe was a relative term. They needed to find Gideon and get the hell out of here. The more of them surrounding Sapphira, the better camouflaged her power would be, and in turn the safer she would be.
Michel saw Loghan watching them, unsure of what was going on while realizing Michel and Damien were keeping something important from him.
“Why does Sara leaving Hell affect Damien?” Loghan asked.
“Long story that we have no time for,” Damien answered hoarsely, moving so he was sitting back on his heels. At least he was still conscious, could now breathe. He looked at the angels who looked back at him with expressions of uncertainty, even pity. “I’ve been through worse,” he snapped scornfully. “The lord of this realm knows Saph…Sara is gone and he is not happy. We need to break in there,” he pointed to the castle, “find Gideon and get out before He calls the lords of this godsforsaken place down upon us and they tear us and anyone near us apart.” Because as much as he despised the owner of this castle and most of its inhabitants, there were a few that dwelled within Damien did not want harmed.
“And you know a way in that we won’t be detected?” Loghan asked, his voice thick with disbelief. The smile Damien gave him did not give Loghan any confidence they would make it out of this stupidity waiting to happen in one piece. Although, the Gods knew he had done his fair share of stupid in his existence and made it out relatively unscathed. What was one more? “Lead the way,” he sighed.
“You might want to put away the wings. The glow is a bit much,” Damien grimaced pushing himself to his feet, his sword in hand. The world wobbled then righted itself. When he saw Michel looking at him with a frown, pity in those blue eyes, it pissed him off. Damien did not know who he could trust, and this particular angel knew more about his life than Damien was comfortable with. Enough that if he wished, Michel could destroy him and the universe along with him. “I’m fine,” Damien muttered before heading past them and towards the last place in the universe he wanted to be.
* * *
Immortality had its ups and downs. To watch the universe from its beginning, watch it grow, make mistakes and learn from them, or sometimes not. To heal any wound, never become sick, never die were amazing gifts that through time one started to take for granted. As Gideon hung in his chains, his body broken and bleeding, the ability to heal, to never die, no longer seemed like a gift. In the hands of the enemy gifts could become a curse. When you can never die torture can last a very long time, and this particular captor has had plenty of time and practice to become particularly inventive. It was not Gideon’s first time at the hands of his enemy, and he was sure it would not be the last, but in the short time he had been here it had been the worst.
Then he found he had been wrong.
Pain like he had never felt before tore through his body, his soul, leaving him completely shattered. Sara was gone. When he had felt her presence surround him, envelope him, giving him her strength, the completeness he felt was something in his entire existence he had never experienced, yet at the same time felt as familiar as his own skin. Now she was gone. The howl that rent the air, breaking his eardrums, freezing the breath in his body, his heart, gave him hope that she was not dead. That his men had found her and managed to escape. There were only a hand full of their kind that was powerful enough to feel others between the realms, and he was not one of them. Neither was his captor.
The door crashed open and a hand was around his neck, slamming him against the wall. Pain radiated down his spine into every nerve ending in his body.
“Where is she!” a voice he was all too familiar with snarled in his face.
Gideon opened his eyes to find red eyes glowing with flame and rage. There were very few he feared, what stood before him in his full glory, seething with a rage none could match, was not one of them. A fallen angel that ruled this level of the hell realm with pain and vengeance. One Gideon used to call friend.
“Answer me!” he snarled again, his voice low and dangerous.
“Somewhere you will never find her,” Gideon croaked with more bravery than he was feeling at the moment. The thought of Sara in the hands of this bastard filled his soul with a kind of terror Gideon was not used to. Although, the one thing that he would never show the bastard in front of him was fear. Satan, Lucifer, Lightbringer, The Prince of Hell, Angel of Death, whatever name whispered, right or wrong, he was not one to goad. Yet from years of hatred born from betrayal, Gideon could not stop himself. “Did you really think we would allow you to have her? She does not belong to you, Lucifer.”
“And I suppose you think she belongs to you,” Lucifer sneered. “I can feel your connection to her, guardian.” That last word was said with the amount of disgust one would use if they stepped in a pile of demon dung.
Gideon knew it was not the actual title that irritated Lucifer, but that he held it. Only those who were considered pure of heart and thought could hold the title of guardian, and as far as the evil in front of him was concerned, Gideon was anything but pure. Betrayal can cut two ways, and it can cut deep.
“Do you think I would allow you to touch her after what you did to me? You who, unlike the rest of us, was allowed to rise above your past crimes and the gods now praise as a hero. We both know you are no hero, but a worthless backstabbing bastard only out to save your own skin. I have waited a millennium to pay you back for the hell you have put me through, brother.” Lucifer snarled.
“The only one to blame for your hell, brother, is yourself.” Gideon hissed. “The fact that you dragged Sachi down with you only proves how much of a selfish bastard you are.” As he knew it would, saying the name of the human woman Lucifer had risked everything for brought his fury back with a vengeance.
“You are not worthy to utter her name,” Lucifer snarled with a quiet calm that turned Gideon’s blood cold. “Gideon, decorated warrior, guardian, have done something that not even your master can save you from. You have broken one of our kinds strictest rules by falling in love with your charge, so technically you are mine and you will tell me what I want to know.”
With an audible click, the cuffs around Gideon’s wrists and ankles opened and then he was airborne. Slamming against the far rock wall with such force rocks and dust followed him to the hard dirt floor. Before he could push himself to his hands and knees, every thought in his head rattling around in chaos from the impact, a foot ground into his back keeping him down.
“And since you are mine, so are these.”
Excruciating pain tore a scream from Gideon’s air starved lungs as one by one Lucifer tore his wings from his back. Then he was once again slammed against the wall, the jagged surface digging into his ravaged back as some unseen force held him there.
“You will tell me where she is or I will make sure you never fly again,” Lucifer snarled.
Gideon looked at his bloody wings lying in the dirt at Lucifer’s feet. To not be able to fly, to feel the wind under its wings, the sun at its back was an angel’s worse nightmare. One that Gideon knew he would bear if it meant Sara was safe from this monster. Swallowing hard, he closed his eyes and refused to answer.
A snarl so menacing it raised the hair on Gideon’s body filled the room. Then heat scored his front and he could not help himself. He opened his eyes and watched as his wings were turned into nothing but a pile of ash, ensuring that escape from this cell, this realm, this hell was now impossible.
Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes