“Why do I smell burnt feathers?” Loghan asked sniffing the air.
Damien knew the answer to that question and it made him ill. It was a punishment that the owner of this castle rarely met out because it was the one thing their kind, angel or demon, hell anything with wings feared most. Including the owner of the house. Where Lucifer was ruthless and at times sadistic, there were certain lines that not even he would cross. Burning the wings of his captives was one of them, because once burned, they could never grow back.
Usually the threat of burning the wings loosened the tongue faster than anything else Lucifer threatened. Gideon must have refused to tell him where Sapphira was, and paid the ultimate price for his silence. The sacrifice was not lost on Damien. It showed a devotion, a protectiveness for his charge Damien understood all too well, and sparked a jealousy that set his teeth on edge. Sapphira was his to protect, and after today he would make sure that was what happened.
Glancing back at the two following him, after the last couple of hours traveling Damien had developed an enormous amount of respect for Gideon’s wealth of patience. If he had to work with these two, he would have either killed them, or himself, long ago just for some peace. He could only imagine what the others were like. He had heard the stories of why each of the angels were assigned to this particular regiment.
Michel’s tendency towards blood lust was legendary. It was an almost demon like passion for slaughter that none of the other angels could stomach. So Michel found himself assigned to Gideon. Damien had seen firsthand what the angel would do and had to admit he understood why his kind feared him.
Loghan would not shut up. A sarcastic wit that knew no bounds led more than one captain into insanity. At the moment he was quiet, but Damien was sure it would not last long. He prayed that Loghan’s sword was as fast and cutting as his tongue, because if Lucifer found the…well, Damien did not want to dwell on what would happen. Although, the thought of doing the universe a favor and leaving the angel to his fate did sound appealing.
Another whiff of burnt feathers drifted by. Damien closed his eyes. He had sacrificed much to keep Sapphira safe, but to lose his wings…. Opening his eyes he began to move forward again. No time to dwell on what-ifs. They needed to get in and get out. Then he could finally be with the one being that made his life complete.
The three of them managed to sneak into the castle undetected. Whether or not they stayed undetected was still questionable. As they went from room to room, Damien tried not to think too hard about the last time he was here. He still bore the scars, mentally and physically. A constant reminder of what he had given up and his payment for betraying his lord and master. A payment, if caught, he was by no means done paying. However, when they entered the throne room he could not help but stop and stare at the chair on the dais. The chair of the man who filled a thousand years of his life with endless pain and torture. What did he expect though? Lucifer was not known for his tolerance of those who betrayed him.
“You have some nerve coming back here!” a woman’s voice hissed.
The three angels froze, their eyes and swords moving to where the voice came from. Out of the shadows floated a woman dressed in a long blood red cape with a deep cowl that hid her face. Or at least she seemed to float. Looking closer Damien could see the toes of her shoes peeking out from under the cloak as she walked towards them. Then she pushed her hood back revealing her face.
“Do you know what he will do to you if he finds you here?’ she whispered her voice laced with fear as she went directly to Damien. “I did not risk everything so you could walk back in here like some fool.”
“Mother,” he greeted coldly. “So happy to see you. You look lovely as ever.”
Mother? Loghan mouthed to Michel in surprise. Michel shrugged his shoulders, his expression saying he knew as much as Loghan did as to what was going on. For some reason Loghan felt as if Michel’s eyes said something very different. The ensuing argument between mother and son pulled Loghan away from that puzzle to the problem at hand. They had been discovered.
“Don’t take that tone with me,” Sachi hissed. “You need to leave. Now!” she ordered taking the hem of her long full length skirt with one hand and Damien’s arm with the other, fully intending to pull him back the way he had come. Considering her five foot four was considerably shorter than his six foot five, it was a surprise to the angels when she managed to pull him off balance.
“I can’t leave,” Damien protested angrily, yet he was gentle when pulled his arm from her grasp. He may be angry at his mother’s interference, but that did not mean he wanted to hurt her.
She still looked the same as the day she walked into this self- imposed prison she called home. Long raven black hair reached down to the small of her back, hanging loose. Exotic deep blue eyes that were the same as his, flashing in anger at his defiance. That look used to quell him in his boots. It still did to those demons stupid enough to anger her. She wore a long Victorian style deep blue dress that matched her eyes, the one his father was so fond of with elaborate embroidering of roses and birds throughout the full skirt. Silk slippers the same color as her dress peak out from under her skirt as she walked.
Damien glanced at Michel and Loghan who stood relaxed as they studied the two of them with no small amount of amusement. The last thing Damien needed was his mother unmanning him in front of these two. He would never hear the end of it.
“I see the hair and eye color,” Loghan was saying, one arm across his chest as he rested his elbow of the other on it, rubbing his lips in thought. “But the height, the facial features. Just not seeing it. Maybe he was adopted? I hear they eat the deformed ones as a delicacy, which surprises me that he is still alive. He looks nothing like the creatures who pass for normal here.”
Michel closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose as he slowly counted to ten.
“Why are they here?” Damien’s mother asked, her voice thick with disgust as she glared at the two angels.
“It’s complicated,” Damien gritted out glaring at Loghan.
“Now I see it!” Logan exclaimed happily.
Michel reached over and slapped Logan upside the head.
“Ow!” Logan cried out in protest once he regained his balance. “What the hell did you do that for?”
“Show some respect,” Michel snapped.
Loghan began to retaliate, but Michel held up one finger with a look that spoke of great pain if Loghan said one more word. Wisely Loghan snapped his mouth shut. His eyes, however, spoke volumes of what was to come once they were safely in their own realm.
“When your father finds out you brought angels into his home, he will kill you!” Sachi snapped ignoring Loghan.
“He can add it to the list,” Damien muttered. “I don’t have time for this, Mother. If he finds me here before….”
“If he finds you here the last thousand years will seem like paradise. He’s in a temper as it is,” she growled. “That bastard Loathar dragged someone in here bleeding all over my floor. They are down in the dungeons as we speak, torturing the poor soul for information about some whore,” she said bitterly.
Her bitterness confused Damien. Where his father had a habit of doing horrendous things, cheating on his wife was not one of them. He had too much love and respect for her to betray her in that way. Why would she think he was doing that now?
“Where,” Michel demanded all pretense of amusement gone as he and Loghan stalked towards them. Out of reflex Damien moved in front of his mother.
“Remember she is still human, Michel,” Damon said quietly.
“Human?” Loghan gasped in disbelief, his eyes going to the petite woman who was glaring at them from behind her son. A look that would incinerate him where he stood if she had the power. “What is she doing down here?”
“Long story,” Damien answered absently before turning back to his mother. “He’s looking for Sapphira,” he said quietly. Automatically he reached out and gently took a hold of his mother’s arms as the color drained from her face and she swayed.
“She can’t be here,” Sachi whispered.
“And the soul he is torturing is Gideon,” Michel added coming up beside them.
Sachi grew even paler. The fact that Gideon was one of the two angels responsible for his father’s downfall was only part of the reason Lucifer hated him. If he found out the rest, Lucifer would make sure Gideon never survived to see the light of day, and then the universe would crumble. The faster they rescued Gideon and left this realm, the better for all.
“Lizza brought Sapphira here to draw Gideon into a trap,” Damien continued gently. “I don’t think they knew who she was at the time, but they do now. She’s safely back in the human realm, but now The Forsaken One knows she’s alive.” His mother’s eyes widened further as she stared at her son in disbelief. “You know the part Gideon plays in this better than any of us. We need to rescue him and return him to Sapphira’s side before any more damage is done.”
“You can’t go with them. If you two are together,” she whispered.
“It’s too late, Mother. The seal has been broken and the spell is unraveling. I will not leave her again. I can’t.” Damien did not like the desperation he heard in his voice, especially in front of the two warrior angels, but he could not help it. For too long a part of his soul ached to be filled. Now that Sapphira was found his soul was finally starting to heal, and he refused to go through the pain of losing her again. Although, if the prophecy held true, he may not have a choice. Then again he will not be here to endure it.
None of them would.
“How can I help,” Sachi asked after a moment of hesitation.
“No,” Damien said firmly. “Father has yet to figure out your part in our escape and I want to keep it that way. We will free Gideon. I want you as far away from the fighting as possible.”
“He will not give you the angel just because you ask, and you cannot hope to win in combat. He is too strong here,” she said grasping Damien’s arms.
“We are stronger than we look,” Loghan muttered.
“You are in the Hell realm, angel,” Sachi snapped, her eyes flashing as she glared at him. “You are weak here and Lucifer is in a rage. He will destroy you.”
There was quiet. Damien and Sachi turned as one to look at the angels. Michel stood quietly, unmoved, although Damien being the son of Lucifer was not new news for him. Loghan stared at Damien as if he had sprouted horns and a tail.
“Lucifer is your father?” Loghan asked slowly, as if he were trying to come to terms with something so earth shattering it was hard to comprehend. Then his eyes widen as they snapped to Sachi, the realization of who she was rising the color his face. With a slight bow to show the respect he had neglected before, Loghan said, “I didn’t know he had any children.”
“You knew my father was a lord,” Damien snapped, “and he isn’t exactly celibate.”
“Yes. But not the lord,” Logan answered heatedly.
“You know as well as I do there is one higher,” Damien sighed, “and he is the one we should truly fear.”
“You are the son of the fallen angel and you want to argue semantics,” Loghan snapped.
Michel stood silent, his eyes on Sachi. Words were not necessary between them because they were both thinking the same thing. With the spell unraveling, it may already be too late.
“Damn it boy!” Loghan growled. “This changes everything.”
“It changes nothing,” Damien corrected calmly. “We will rescue Gideon and then we will leave.” Damien started walking towards the doorway that led to the dungeons. Loghan moved into his way, sword gripped tight in his hand, eyes flashing with anger.
“We are not going anywhere until you explain what is going on,” Loghan hissed, his eyes locking with Damien’s. It was a look that told Damien he was not going any further until he did as he was asked.
“Tell him,” his mother’s soft voice floated through the air.
“Sachi,” Michel warned gently.
“No,” she said shaking her head. “No more secrets between us.”
Michel looked into her eyes as if searching for something. Finally he nodded, his expression weary.
There was so much sadness in his mother’s voice Damien had to close his eyes so Loghan could not see the pain mirrored in his. He was not the only one who sacrificed everything that day. Taking a deep breath he let it out slowly and began.
“In order to protect Sapphira, we cast a spell that striped her of her demon side making her mortal. Afterwards, she was hidden where my father and The Forsaken One could not find her,” his tone saying he really did not want to be talking about this particular subject.
“When was that?” Loghan asked moving closer.
“Over a thousand years ago,” Damien sighed.
“When Gideon was given guardianship over Sara,” Loghan breathed looking at Michel who stared blankly back, his expression devoid of emotion. Frowning at the unusual reaction from the third in command, Loghan turned back to Damien. “That doesn’t explain her connection to you,” the anger he once held turning into something else. Something wary.
“She is my sister,” Damien answered quietly. The stunned expression on Loghan’s face would have been comical if the situation was not so serious. Damien was so tired of the games, the lies, the loneliness. All he wanted to do was finish this mission and return to Sapphira’s side. Then maybe he could finally be at peace.
“Tell him the rest,” his mother urged, resting a hand on his arm as she looked worriedly up at him.
With an expression that showed the amount of pain he had been hiding, he added quietly, “I am also her twin.”
The silence stretched on.
Twins, especially identical, in any realm were connected in a way few others could explain or understand. Twins of the supernatural kind were connected on a level that far superseded the mortals. They were literally two halves of a whole, and when one was injured or ill the other would feel that injury or fall ill themselves. If one died, the other soon followed. Usually because the loss of that other half left the survivor in so much pain physically and mentally that they either went mad and had to be put down, or they killed themselves ending their misery. In order to keep his sister safe, Damien had basically volunteered to have half of his soul ripped from his chest. A feat he barely survived.
The enormity of the situation was not lost on Loghan. Damien expected pity and was surprised when he saw the distrust Loghan had held in his eyes these last few hours turn into respect.
“We can finish this discussion later when we are on safer ground, Michel said suddenly all business. “Your father is well known for his love of playing with his victims, and he has wanted to get his hands on Gideon for a long time. Pulling him away won’t be easy. How do you suggest we distract him from playtime long enough to free Gideon?”
“Easy,” Damien shrugged, his expression one of determination. “We give him what he wants.”
“And what exactly is that?” Loghan asked.
Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes