The dead body at the bottom of the stairs stopped Damien just inside the doorway. Outside he could hear Colin begging for his life. Blaming Caius for every vile act he performed. That his so called Emperor had ordered him to use any means at his disposal to break Kara. With each word, the sun dimmed and the wind gain in speed as the angel’s anger grew. Trees groan in protest, the windows of the house rattle as the gale force winds beat against the house.
Inside it was deadly quiet.
Knowing that the dead body at the bottom of the stairs was probably not alone, fear spiked through Damien as his eyes slowly moved to the top of the stairs. There was a hand dangling over the last stair that lead into the darken hallway above, proving him right. Pushing away the thought that Brynn had been too late, that Sapphira had not been awake to defend herself from the mortals, Damien allowed his power to breathe through the house, searching for any life. Before he could reach too far, pain lanced through his head driving him to his knees. The relief when he saw Gideon hovering in the air, every bit the avenging angel Damien knew he was, disappeared. They may have their memories back, but the chains were still firmly in place. That meant that whatever Gideon did to the two idiots outside would rebound on Kara tenfold.
“Shit,” Damien hissed pushing to his feet.
Grabbing the fallen blaster beside the dead male, Damien took the stairs two at a time, trying to be as quiet as possible. It was obvious Brynn had taken care of at least two threats, but it never hurt to be cautious. Blaster held before him, two-handed, Damien looked over the edge of the floor into the hall. There was the body at the top of the stairs and another further down the hallway where it had crumpled, neither of them Brynn. Stepping gingerly over them, Damien heard voices up ahead. One Brynn’s, the other female and they seemed to be arguing.
“We need to leave,” Brynn snapped.
“Kara is perfectly safe. I will not allow anything to harm her.”
“I can see by the bodies that you can take care of yourself, Selene. But those are mere mortals. Caius is not mortal in any sense of the word.”
“Caius would not harm me or my daughter,” Selene growled.
“What about Malphas?”
There was silence.
Screams of agony from outside ended any further argument. Agony that sent a shiver of remembered pain down Damien’s spine. It was as if Colin was having his flesh peeled away from his bones, ripped apart and burned all at the same time. A cruelty Gideon would have never imagined if it had not been for the overconfident female in the room with Brynn. Time to take that confidence down a few notches.
Damien stepped into the doorway and breathed a sigh of relief. Sapphira lay on the bed curled on her side facing him, sleeping peacefully. Seeing she was safe for the moment he scanned the room, his eyes narrowing when he saw one of the culprits sitting in the rocking chair in the corner, gently rocking back and forth as if she had not a care in the world. When his eyes narrowed further in anger, she looked away, unable to keep her calm façade up any longer. Good. She should be scared.
“He’s rather peeved,” Selene mused, her eyes on the open window where the screaming drifted through.
“I wonder why,” Damien said, his voice flat and angry. Taking the few steps to the bedside, he reached down and brushed the back of his hand across Sapphira’s cheek. Outside the screaming continued as the smell of burnt flesh began to waft through the open window.
“What is he doing to them?” Brynn frowned.
“Probably best not to know,” Damien answered grimacing. Turning that grimace into a scowl, he looked at Selene…or who he now knew was Godiva. A true goddess, but not in the way that Brynn thought. “Why isn’t she in pain?”
“Because I am blocking the necklace from sensing what Gideon is doing,” Godiva answered with a small smile. “There are benefits of being the creator of all that is.” She waved her hand to encompass the room and probably all that was outside it.
“Yet with all that power you could not see what was happening right in front of your nose,” Damien snapped. Moving so he loomed over her, he snarled, “Did you even know we were here, or did you turn a blind eye to what that bastard was doing to her for some twisted need of revenge?”
“What are you talking about?” Brynn asked not liking what Aden was insinuating. “What revenge?” When Aden did not answer, he took a step towards the two powerful pissed off beings and growled, “Aden! Answer me!” Was that ten kinds of stupid? Probably, but this was his wife they were talking about and he wanted answers.
Damien stood back, his anger filling the room. “We are not who you think we are. My name is not Aden. It’s Damien. Kara’s real name Sapphira and she is my mate, the other half to my soul. Literally. This creature,” his eyes narrowed on the female in the chair who had the sense enough to cower, “is Godiva. For all intent and purpose, our daughter.” He turned to Brynn. “To make this as simple as possible, Sapphira and I are the beginning of everything. We were the first sentient beings to come into, well, being. Long story short, Godiva and her brother Satan needed to learn a simple lesson. That life is precious and that our choices can create or destroy that life. That we, as old and omniscient as we are, must be very careful with how we use that power. Because they chose not to understand this and did not care what the consequences of their actions were, Sapphira and I created what we call trials. They were to create a universe of their own and keep it spinning, keep it balanced between good and evil, life and death. The demon, Malphas, was from one of those very first trials.”
“One they obviously failed,” Brynn added quietly. While the thought that the creatures before him were the creation of all was mind-boggling, if not downright insane, Brynn could feel some truth to what the being before him was saying.
“One of many,” Damien said, his eyes once again narrowing on Godiva. “Where is your brother?”
“Satan is on his ship, currently under the influence of Malphas,” Godiva answered brushing her robes, smoothing some unseen wrinkle.
“Caius is Satan?” he snarled.
Godiva was out of her chair and behind it before Brynn could blink. “You must remember, Damien. You were not supposed to be here this time. You were only supposed to watch from a distance. We had absolutely no idea Malphas had pulled you into this trial or put you in the place of the players we had already established.”
“Bullshit!” Damien spat. “You have learned nothing.”
“That is not true!” Godiva shouted. Her anger overriding her common sense, she stepped out from behind the chair to face the enraged being before her. “We followed your rules. We cared for every creature as if they were our own child. We allowed them free will and we kept the balance between good and evil. We did not invite Malphas into this universe. He broke in.”
“However, it was you who created him,” Damien reminded his voice cruel.
“It was you who allowed him to continue living when he should have been destroyed,” she yelled stepping another step forward in her rage. “Don’t blame me when your high and mighty ideals come back and bite you in the ass!”
Brynn watched from the other side of the room as the two immortals stood nose to nose, glaring at each other. He could feel the power build, pressing down on him, making it hard to breath. A part of him, the sane survive at all cost part, screamed at him to leave before they imploded and took him with them. The bigger part of him that stepped in front of a blaster to save those he loved moved a little closer to his wife. He did not care who they said they were, he was not leaving her alone while she slept unawares of the danger in the room. A movement from the corner of his eye drew his attention to the bedroom door. Tanis…no, Gideon was standing at the threshold frowning at the two snarling beings.
“Did I miss something?” he asked calmly. When no one answered, or moved, he turned his gaze to Brynn.
Taking a deep breath and letting it out in a huff, Brynn said, “From what I understand, Aden, I mean Damien, is angry with,” he paused frowning, not remembering what Selene’s other name was.
“Godiva,” Gideon provided.
“Godiva,” Brynn repeated suddenly remembering, “because of who Caius really is.”
“And that is?” Gideon prompted the two immortals again, turning his eyes back to them. Whatever the answer was, by the look in Damien’s eyes he was not going to like it.
“I think she said his name was Satan,” Brynn answered.
“Come again?” Gideon asked not quite sure if he heard Brynn right, his voice a calm that his worst enemy would cower from. Since the mortal did not know him or what that name meant, he had no reference to warn him that being in the room was probably detrimental to his continuing health.
“You heard him,” Damien snapped turning his attention to Sapphira, completely dismissing the goddess who still stood fuming behind him. Carefully sitting down on the edge of the bed, he brushed the hair that had fallen into Sapphira’s face away. Smiling and making happy humming noises in her sleep, she rolled over onto her back, revealing the necklace around her neck. Whatever calm Damien had gained by touching his mate disappeared as he stared down at the piece of filth that was effectively their chains in this universe. Looking closer he hissed, a distant memory surging to the surface.
It was early in the trials. Maybe the hundredth attempt, a small number when you live forever, yet Damien was beginning to lose hope his children would ever learn. Deciding to not participate in this particular trial, he watched from the safety of the orb room as they struggled to maintain balance as the universe spun ponderously towards its inevitable end. While for him it would take what the mortal’s calendar paced as a few months, to those inside the orb it would be millions upon millions of years.
In staying on the outside looking in, Damien could not interfere with what was going on within. Something that was becoming increasingly difficult as he watched his mate struggle through the horrors their children heaped upon her and her guardian.
“What are they doing to her this time?” a low familiar voice asked with a weary sigh.
Damien looked up towards the door at the imposing figure standing their frowning at the swirling colors in the orb. Dark as the abyss black hair that reached his shoulders, well over seven feet tall and built for battle, Fallon sauntered into the room, the tight leather pants creaking with newness as the long sleeved white linen shirt billowed around him. As the images in the orb became clearer, his frown deepened. Damien had to smile at the impressive male beside him because he looked more pirate than avenging angel, even with bare feet and no weapons. Fallon was one of two who had been created as his and Sapphira’s sentinels after they realized their children, their first creations, could not be completely trusted. Over the centuries the two had become much more than mere guards to Sapphira and himself. They had become close friends, confidents, lovers. While he and Sapphira could protect themselves, one of the angels were never far from their sides.
“It’s not the children,” Damien answered, his eyes moving back to the orb, his smile slipping away. “It’s the demon. Malphas. Somehow he has figured out who Sapphira and Gideon are and is trying to capture them so he can use them to escape the confines of this,” he gestured towards the orb, “universe into ours.”
“Can he do that?” Fallon asked his eyes wide with shock.
Damien slowly shook his head, one arm going around his waist so he could rest the elbow of the other on it while he rubbed his fingers over his lips, his eyes narrowing in thought. “I don’t know,” he answered softly.
“Explain?” Fallon prompted frowning when Damien would not elaborate.
Glancing at Fallon, his eyes went back to the orb. “Technically, the beings from one universe cannot break the barrier that divides the other universes from it and enter.”
“Technically,” Fallon repeated warily.
“Yes,” Damien said looking at his friend, his eyes showing his worry.
“What is different about this time?”
“This time, Godiva and Satan trusted too blindly, and they gave the wrong person too much information in the form of a prophecy. That information has fallen into Malphas’s hands. As convoluted as prophecies can be, he has figured out the hidden meaning behind this one. That there are multiply universes, and the veil that separates them can grow thin with time. If you know what to look for and you have enough power, you can cross through those thinnings.”
“Which is why he wants Sara and Gideon,” Fallon finished once again looking at the orb. “But how did he find out who they were?”
“That I don’t know, and that troubles me. What is worse is he has created a device that may bind Sapphira to him.”
A huge sword with an intricately carved metal handle that fit around his hand making it more of an extension of his arm then an deadly accessory suddenly materialized in Fallon’s hand. “That cannot happen,” he growled.
“Easy, my friend,” Damien soothed placing his hand on the wrist of the hand that held Fallon’s sword. “You know the rules. We cannot interfere.”
“Who made up that stupid rule?” he snarled.
“I did,” Damien answered flatly, his eyes narrowing at the insult.
Fallon grimaced at him. “Why?” his voice clearing telling the immortal that he was ten kinds of an idiot for doing such a thing. It was one of the drawbacks of becoming so familiar with each other. It was also one of those times Damien longed for the good old days when Fallon and Gideon did as they were told without questioning the reason behind it.
“Because if we kept interfering when things went sideways, nothing will be learned,” he growled.
Wisely, Fallon clamped his mouth shut. Although his eyes said everything he wanted to. Ignoring him, Damien turned back to the orb. “We just have to pray that Sapphira and Gideon remember who they are before it is too late.”
While they had managed to keep the powerful demon from escaping his own universe, they hadn’t been able to stop him from enslaving Sapphira and Gideon. It had taken Godiva and Satan years before they were able to free them and return to the safety of their plain, but the cost had been great. And now the bastard had the cursed necklace around Sapphira’s neck once more. The difference this time was Damien was here. Frowning, he looked at Gideon.
“Where is Fallon?”
“Good question,” Gideon answered his eyes going to Godiva. “I assumed he was Caius.”
“I have not seen him,” Godiva frowned, her eyes going distant as she wracked her brain for any sign of the angel she could have mistaken for something else.
Gideon’s looked back at Damien. “Maybe he wasn’t pulled in?”
“No, I remember him grabbing onto me. He has to be here somewhere.” Damien looked back down at the necklace. “I need to figure a way to remove this accursed thing.” Standing, he reached down and gathered Sapphira into his arms before turning towards Gideon. “You and Godiva look for Fallon. I’m going to take Sapphira someplace safe and try to break the spells around us.”
“How will we find you?” Gideon asked.
“As soon as the necklace is destroyed our connections should be reestablished. You’ll know then it is safe to come.” With a flash he was gone.
Gasping, Gideon fell to his hands and knees.
“What’s wrong?” Brynn asked moving to kneel beside the angel.
“The rules of this universe still bind us. Here I am one of Sapphira’s mates, or as you know her Kara. To be apart is….” Tightly closing his eyes, Gideon hissed in pain, his fingers curling into fists as he rode out the spasms that wracked his body. “Painful,” he squeezed out.
“How are you supposed to look for your friend if you cannot function without Kara?”
“Good question,” he whispered just before he collapsed onto his side, unconsciousness.
“Well, that is problematic,” Godiva huffed.
Sparing the female a glance that told her exactly what he thought of her and that comment, which wasn’t much, Brynn’s eyes moved to the open window. An idea forming that might just save all their lives.
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes