The room was as dark as the deepest pits of hell where there was no chance of the sun or moon’s rays touching the slippery surface. Nothing to tell you if the sounds echoing off the walls were friend or foe. Darkness so deep time has no meaning, an endless well of despair the mind cannot hope to survive intact. Nothing.
Michel hung in his chains, the sound of his blood hitting the floor below him a steady drip, drip, drip. His tormentors had left him in the oppressing darkness after spending days trying to break him. He suppose he should count himself lucky. Instead of weakening with every drop of blood that hit the floor, they could have had the whispers of his past misdeeds haunting him in the darkness. The makers only knew how many there were, but then, in the last millennia, most of those deeds were ordered by those who were torturing him. So he suppose they did not want to listen to them anymore than he did. Instead there was only silence and the knowledge that he was a trap and he had no way of warning those it had been set for.
There was a soft click and light flooded into the room. Too weak to lift his head, Michel waited for the next blow, but it never came. A soft hand gently cupped his cheek, warmth spread throughout his body and he began to feel his wounds heal. There was only one person with that soft touch, that warmth that chased away the demons in his heart and soul with forgiveness he did not deserve.
“Zara!” he breathed half in relief that she was there, alive and whole, half in panic.
“I am so sorry,” she breathed, the sorrow of those words spearing him. Gently placing her other hand on the others cheek, she lifted his head so he could see those beautiful blue eyes. “This will hurt,” she warned.
With a slight nod, Michel gave her permission to finish her healing. The soothing warmth grew until it became unbearable. Gritting his teeth, Michel tried not to cry out. Unfortunately he could not keep a whimper of pain from escaping. Another soft click and the chains holding him to the ceiling broke open. Rough hands caught him, easing him to the floor, Zara following him. Releasing his face, her hands moved slowly down his body, touching every wound, knitting them closed. When she was done, he was gasping for air, although he felt much stronger, whole.
“It’s a trap!” Michel gasped, grabbing Zara’s hand tightly in his.
“We know,” Damien soothed from the other side of him.
Michel turned his head to look up at the forbidding figure kneeling next to him, noting the leather armor and weapons. They had come for war and he was sorely under equipped. “I need my weapons,” Michel grimaced trying to rise.
“No, you need to rest,” Damien corrected, a hand on Michel’s shoulder gently pushing him back to the floor. “You’ve done enough. We will take it from here.”
“I didn’t tell them anything,” Michel assured, not so sure himself that he would be believed. He had been playing both sides for so long, even he was starting to question his loyalty.
“We know,” Gideon replied, towering over Damien as he looked down at Michel. “Rest assured, your loyalty has never been in question, my friend. Even if your methods have been…shall we say…methodical,” he grinned.
“A male has to hone his craft. Try different techniques, experiment. Otherwise, where is the fun?” Michel quipped grinning back up at the warrior.
“Indeed,” Gideon agreed, his face somber as he nodded. “It’s all part of the craft, to keep torturing those who have already given us the information we need. Especially when it’s given when all you do is walk into the room.”
“Not my fault my reputation precedes me,” Michel shrugged.
“You two are incorrigible,” Zara griped, although she too wore a smile.
“Would you have us any other way?” Gideon asked, eyebrows raised in his hair daring her to say he was wrong.
“I suppose not,” she sighed dramatically as she rose to her feet.
“As much as I like a good reunion, something is not quite right,” Quinn announced pleasantly from the doorway. “We came here knowing it was a trap. We tripped said trap, yet no one has come to protest our intrusion. I came here itching for a fight and…nothing,” holding out his hands to the side in exasperation. “I’m starting to feel inconsequential.”
“Heaven’s forbid that ever happens,” Talon remarked drily as he held out his hand to Zara. Taking it, she allowed him to help her to her feet as Damien help Michel to his. It was then Michel realized there were a few of their party that was missing. However, they since it was no secret this was a trap, they knew that whatever they said would be heard, so he kept his observations to himself.
“Seriously, I need my weapons. I have a few dents and bruises I need to repay a certain she-devil,” Michel grimaced stretching his still sore muscles.
“You would hit a woman,” Gideon gasped in mock distress, his hand to his heart.
“Godiva is no woman,” Michel growled. “She is evil incarnate dressed in a siren’s body. She also took my powers, so I cannot summon my armor or weapons, so be a good lad and help a male out by doing it for me.”
“Good lad?” Gideon frowned. “Not sure I’ve been called a good lad in…,” he thought about it for a moment, snapping his fingers absently. Suddenly Michel was in his armor, axe in hand. Looking at Michel, he shook his head. “Nope. Never been called a good lad. Too much of a mean streak from the day I was born.”
“Liar,” Zara countered checking her weapons. “You were a sweet boy. I should know, I looked.”
Gideon’s brow furrowed. “You never told me you went into my past. What else do you know?” There seemed to be a bit of panic that Gideon could not quite hide in his voice.
“Oh, this should be good,” Michel grinned a little too gleefully. “Please, my lady, do tell,” he urged.
“Do not worry, warrior,” Zara assured smiling at the stricken expression on Gideon’s face. “Your secret is safe with me. Yours on the other hand,” she turned a speculative eye to Michel who had the sense enough to look scared and maybe a little paler then he was a few moments before. The veiled threat had its desired effect. Michel was suddenly busy with his axe instead of pushing for more details. “That’s a good boy,” Zara cooed patting his cheek. “Now, I do believe we have a decision to make. Why don’t we find our errant children and finish this.”
“Quinn has a good point. They should have….”
The white room painted with Michel’s blood gave way to a grand hall filled with angel, demons and creatures that belonged to neither but were just a deadly. Tall pillars reached up to a ceiling that depicted a live rendering of the universe and all it’s moving parts, stars twinkling in the distance. Nebula’s glowing with magnificent colors. Dark twisting vortexes sucking the light from nearby solar systems, crushing them under its weight. But these things were not what captured the small group’s attention. It was the two ornate chairs at the end of the hall, sitting on a raised dais with an enormous stain glass window depicting peace and tranquility on the top, chaos and death on the bottom. Two halves of a whole. Zara and Damien’s seats, which were currently occupied by Godiva and Santon. Poetic really. The children sitting on the seats of power, their parents before them and their congregation, waiting for the next move in the intricate game of chess they had been playing. Who would win? Who, in the last countless years the parents were absent remembered the true account of how they came into being, and who believed the lies?
They were about to find out.
“Ah, there they are,” Gideon exclaimed.
“And they brought friends,” Talon remarked not unlike someone would remark on the weather. “I like the odds too. Twenty to one. Makes for a more interesting fight.” Pulling his sword from the scabbard attached to his back, he twirled it around a few times getting the feel of it, his eyes scanning the crowd.
“I was wondering when you would show,” Godiva greeted, her bearing regal as she lounged back in her chair, her voice calm, cool, collected. “I was beginning to think that maybe my brother was wrong and Michel was indeed loyal to me.” She turned her eyes to Michel who stood behind Zara, her eyes narrowed in anger. “Apparently he was not.”
“My loyalty has never wavered, Godiva. You just mistook where it lay,” Michel growled.
“I suppose it lays with them,” she sneered waving a hand dismissively at Zara and Damien. “The children,” she emphasized that word with disgust, “of Lucifer who believe they are the true makers. Oh yes,” she nodded to those around them who gasped in shock and surprise. “Lucifer created the prophecy that we,” she waved her hand between her and Santon, “were not the first. That there were others that brought us into being as a means to undermine us in his bid for power.” She laughed as if the mere thought was ludicrous. “When we found out the lengths he would go to, creating the abominations before you to bring his prophecy to life. Once again using the poor human woman, Sachi, under his spell to birth them.” Godiva put her hand to her chest, her voice and body language telling those listening that the mere thought of what Lucifer had done pained her immensely.
Gideon and Talon looked at each other, their expressions one of incredulity of the lies Godiva was spinning, expecting those that listen to believe them. Quinn stood with his mouth open, staring at Godiva, dumbstruck. Michel was scanning the crowd around them, gauging their reactions. Some stood in rap attention, every word Godiva spewed the utter truth. Most were growing outraged, their eyes narrowed into slits, their hatred growing as they glared at the accused standing in the center of the hall. A small majority, dispersed throughout trying to remain unnoticed, were horrified at what they were hearing. These were the beings that knew the Godiva’s lies for what they were. Blasphemy.
“Lucifer thought to hide them from us in the mortal world, but there is no spell strong enough to evade our majesty. Sooner or later, we will find the traitors that caste the forbidden spell and bring them all to justice. For now,” her eyes turned to Damien and Zara, “we will make examples of his children.”
The roar of the approval was deafening. The crowd was promised blood, and they were eager to have it, the truth be damned. Strangely enough, Santon lounged quietly throughout Godiva’s speech, his elbow on the arm of his throne, his finger sliding back and forth over his lips, his eyes on Zara, thoughtful. Zara held his gaze, her expression serene, as if the worlds were not about to come to an end. Then his eyes widened, understanding filling them.
Godiva raised her hand into the air.
“Fine accusations when Lucifer is not here to defend himself,” Damien said quietly in the silence that followed.
“He is hiding like the coward he is, along with the rest of the traitors. He will be found and punished for his sins,” Godiva assured arrogantly.
“Lucifer is no coward,” Santon murmured sitting straighter, “and Fallon would rather lose his wings then leave their side.”
“What are you talking about?” Godiva snapped looking at her brother then at the group in the middle of the room. After a moment her eyes too widen, only there was fear in them.
“Surprise,” a voice hissed from behind her.
Copyright © 2018 Heidi Barnes