Godiva had just placed the still unconscious Gideon on the bed Sapphira had once lain on when there was another flash by the door. Thinking Damien had returned, Brynn turned to tell him his idea and froze, his smile sliding into a scowl. While he had never met him, Brynn knew the being that now stood in the doorway looking calm yet far from harmless was Caius. Or was it Satan? To be honest, all these new identities were beginning to confuse him. Either way this creature had cause them all a lot of pain.
“You!” Brynn snarled stepping towards Satan.
“Think very carefully, my friend, before you do something unwise,” Satan calmly cautioned.
“You and I have never nor ever will be friends,” Brynn snapped. “Not after the horror you have put someone you claimed to love through.”
“What I have done?” Satan laughed. His eyes traveled to his sister who sat glaring at him. “What tall tales have you been telling today, Godiva.”
“Only the truth,” she answered no inflection in her tone to give hint to what her mood was. Only her eyes spoke of anger and distrust.
“You would not know the truth if it bit you in the ass,” Satan snapped his pretense of a calm evaporating as he scanned the room.
Power flowed out from him, thick and hot, filling the room before pushing outwards. Brynn had a moment to realize how powerful the being before him was before all that power snapped back, pulling him a couple of steps forwards with its momentum.
Satan’s eyes narrowed on Godiva. “Where is she?” he demanded.
“With Father. Where I don’t know,” she answered primly, settling herself back in her chair.
“I felt the wards collapse first, then the barriers that hold their memories snapped,” Satan said, once again calm. He moved into the room until he stood at the end of the bed staring at Gideon. “And I am not the only one,” his voice confused. Pointing at Gideon, he turned to look at Godiva. “Why didn’t he go with them? They are never far from at least one of their sentinels.”
“He was supposed to look for Fallon, but the chains you helped Malphas wrap around Mother are still firmly in place,” Godiva answered, her voice telling Satan how much this news really angered her. “The moment she disappeared with Father, he collapsed to the floor.”
“Did they take the baby too?” he asked looking around the room.
The silence that followed that question was deafening.
“What aren’t you telling me?” Satan asked after he looked from Brynn to Godiva and back when he received no answer from either.
“Kara…I mean Sapphira, lost the baby,” Brynn finally answered quietly.
Satan’s expression slowly changed from disbelief to rage so fine that Brynn took a step away from the immortal. Thankfully, he then turned that rage onto Godiva.
“What did you do,” he snarled stepping towards her.
To Godiva’s credit she did not even flinch.
“It was an abomination,” she hissed.
“It was my child!” Satan roared his fist hitting his chest as he took another step towards the goddess, who stood up.
“No, Satan. It was Malphas’s. He may have wanted you to believe that in that small reprieve he gave you that you fathered the child, but in reality Mother was already pregnant by then.” When Satan deflated at this news, the loss and horror of what he had been forced to do to someone he claimed to love etched in his expression, Godiva moved that small space in-between them, wrapping her arms around him. With a choking sob, Satan wrapped his arms tightly around his sister, clinging to her as his legs gave out from under him. Taking both of them to the floor.
“I tried to stop him,” he sobbed. “I thought that once I broke free…gasp…I could throw him out…gasp…that I could banish him. He was too strong. He was just too strong!”
Brynn did not know what to make of the seemingly broken man in his sister’s arms. This was not the monster he had learned about through Damien then Sapphira. This male had been just as used and tortured as the others, only his wounds were not on the outside. They were within, and the hardest to heal.
Quietly moving towards them until he caught Godiva’s attention and she looked up, her eyes stricken, Brynn quietly said, “I think I may have an idea where this Fallon might be.”
“Where?” she gasped, desperation thick in her voice.
“I want to make sure before I tell anyone.” He glanced at the still unconscious Gideon. “So far, this demon, Malphas, has been able to take down three very powerful immortals. I don’t want to chance he is somewhere listening to us and I endanger the fourth.”
Nodding her head a little to quickly, Godiva wiped a tear from her cheek. Swallowing hard, she half gasped half whispered, “Good idea. I will stay here and guard Gideon while I try to calm my brother.”
With a small nod of his own, Brynn ran out the bedroom door, down the hallway then stairs, jumping over the dead males, and out the door. As he leaped over the stairs to the ground, he prayed he was not too late. They needed one immortal who had his head on straight, or else he feared they were all lost.
* * *
Sapphira slowly became aware of her surroundings. She lay on a comfortable bed in a room that felt vast in size. Open as if maybe they were outside. That didn’t make any sense. Why on earth would she be outside? Opening her eyes, she stared up at the impossibly high ceiling made if rock. Okay. Not what I expected.
I guess the next question was, what did she expect? Memories that were hers yet not fought for dominance with who she knew she was and who she was not. Feeling a headache brewing of magnificent proportions, Saphira took in a deep breath, held it for a moment then slowly let it out, willing her mind to settle into blankness. Once her mind settled she tried to bring forward the last thing she remembered. Two memories pushed their way forward. The first of a farmhouse with three men, two who looked vaguely familiar and one she had never seen before yet also felt very familiar, discussing a danger that lurked nearby. The second was of the Orb room. Of her and Damien watching their children, of reaching out to touch the orb and coming away feeling unclean, sticky.
Sapphira’s eyes flew open as she sat up, gasping for air. They were being pulled into the orb by something malevolent. Something that did not belong in that universe. Something that desperately wanted her and Gideon back under his control. What he ended up with was more than he bargained for.
“Malphas,” she hissed, anger surging through her.
As per the rules of the Trials, the moment they landed hard on the cold dirt covered rock floor of a cave very similar to this one, their powers had been restricted. What did not happen per the rules was that the memories of who they were had not been immediately bound so they could play the roles Godiva and Satan had created for them unhindered. Instead, Damien was instantly put in a large square cage that hung from the ceiling while still disoriented from being pulled through the barriers of their universe into this one. With a cry of rage mixed with disbelief, Fallon had been thrust back out while in mid-stride, sword raised, ready to cleave their captor in two. Before Gideon could rise to defend Sapphira he was gagged and bound in chains from shoulders to feet and left on the dirt floor. No matter how much he struggled, cursed, he could not break free. Sapphira had been left where she landed, groaning in pain both physically and mentally. When she rolled over onto her back and opened her eyes, Malphas was standing over her, smiling, something dangling from one hand, the other behind his back. When Sapphira focused on the vile piece of metal her blood had frozen in her veins.
“Hello, my dear,” Malphas cooed.
Her hand flew to her neck to find it bare. “How?” she breathed looking around her, fearing the worst. That since she had remembered who she was Malphas had her brought back to the cave where it all started. Yet as she looked wide eyed around her, she realized this was not the same cave. It was too big, and too open. The cave they first appeared in felt as if it were deep underground, the earth above them pressing down, suffocating. Then where was she?
Frowning, Sapphira threw the covers off and slipped from the bed, revealing that she was wearing a white linen male’s shirt that fell to mid-thigh and little else. Okaaay. Her frown deepening, she looked around the enormous cave. The bed was at the back away from the large opening that looked out into the afternoon sky. Other than the sky, she could see the tops of trees that told her the cave must be very high. To one side was a kitchen complete with sink and water pump, some sort of cooler that looked like a small refrigerator and a cast-iron woodstove. Shelves lined the grey rock above the counter filled with dishes and cups, and worn cupboards lined the bottom under the counter.
Sitting in front of the counter was a wooden table that looked like it had seen better days surrounded by mismatch chairs. Across from the kitchen was a fireplace hewn into the wall with a fire blazing in it, an old couch, two worn but comfortable looking plush armchairs and a couple of small tables. Cluttered along the walls, on the table, under the small tables, and along the back of the couch were books. Hundreds of books and papers everywhere. Most of them were in languages long forgotten. Some of the books were dry and brittle with age as were the papers. In all, the cave had a feeling of being very old and well used, but where was here? And who lived here? Better yet, how did she get here?
Another question came to her. Where was Gideon? He would have never left her side for this long. Once she woke with her memories returning his would have too and he would have come to her. A chilling thought crossed her mind. If he could not come to her then Malphas must have him, but if that was so then…where was the pain? None of this made sense.
Malphas’s words came back to her.
“I have fought long and hard to find you,” he said, squatting down next to her. Reaching out, he started to touch her cheek with the back of his hand. All Sapphira could do was stare in horror at the demon above her, terror freezing her where she lay.
“Don’t touch her!” Damien snarled, pulling at the bars of his cage hard enough to start it swinging.
Fallon growled low in his throat, his eyes turning black as night. Something that should not have happened if the rules of the Trial were in place. Beside her, Gideon grew still, his eyes riveted on the necklace in Malphas’s hands. Memories, horrors, of the time he and Sapphira were trapped within its spells freezing him in place as they did her. Memories that leaked out onto the rest of them.
Malphas’s eyes moved to Damien’s. “What I choose to do with my pets is no concern of yours.” Then he saw Fallon’s eyes. Frowning, Malphas stood and walked over to stand before his cage. “You, my friend, are a conundrum.”
“Let me out and I’ll show you just how much you do not know of me,” Fallon snarled.
“I think not,” Malphas mused. “I think it is a good thing I reinforced these cages with spells to keep you from using your magic. Even so, if I am to concentrate on what needs to be done, you need to be thrown back from whence you came.” With a flick of his hand, Fallon was thrown towards the back of his cage and with a flash was gone.
“What did you do with him?” Damien demanded.
“Just as I said. I sent him home,” Malphas answered still frowning at the empty cage. When his eyes turned to Damien, they narrowed. “Which is a much better place than where you will be spending eternity my lord,” sneering the title as if it was something vile. Turning his back to Damien in dismissal, his sneer turned into a smile when his eyes landed on Sapphira. “Now, where was I?” he asked cheerfully. “Ah, yes. I was about to reclaim my pets. You were very naughty leaving me,” he chided as he walked to Sapphira and once again squatted down next to her. “For your disobedience I have no choice but to punish you. What better way than to have you play out what I have devised for the heroine and hero of this little story your lovely children have so graciously provided for me.” His eyes moved to Gideon who lay glaring at him. “Although I have made a few…tweaks here and there.” His smile slide into something full of evil intent.
His eyes widening with a fear he rarely felt, Gideon began to struggle harder to get free as Malphas turned his attention back to Sapphira, slowly lowering his hand to her forehead. The last thing Sapphira remembered was that laughter ringing in her ears.
Her fist clutched to her chest, her breathing coming in gasps, Sapphira’s knees buckled and she landed hard on the cold floor, her free hand keeping her from completely collapsing. Staring down at the rock under her, the memories of her life as Kara assailed her. Colin had not been far off when he blamed another for the atrocities he heaped upon her. Although it had not been Caius, but Malphas whispering horrors in his ear, and because of one of those ‘tweaks’ Malphas had place on Kara’s character, she had enjoyed every bit of what had been done to her.
Nausea assailed her; her stomach heaved but she had no food to throw up. It did not stop her from dry heaving over and over until her stomach and ribs ached and her head pounded fiercely, threatening to send her into oblivion.
“Sapphira!” an alarmed voice cried out.
“Damien,” she breathed listing to the side, spots dancing before her eyes. Before her shoulder hit the ground, strong arms caught her.
“I’m here,” he breathed in her ear as he held her tightly to him. “I’m here.”
Her soulmate was here, holding her. Their memories were returning in bits and pieces. They were still weak, yet they must face a demon with enough power to pull them into another universe and bind them to him, keeping them prisoner for thousands of years. The necklace was gone, but were they truly free of his spells? Could they fight him and win? Or would he enslave them once more and destroy everything they had built in his need for revenge?
As the world swam before her, Sapphira tried to stay in the here and now. She could not afford to lose consciousness and put them all in danger. Together they were strong, apart….
“Where are Gideon and Fallon?” she whispered.
“I left Gideon at the farm. I don’t know where Fallon is. Gideon was supposed to look for him and meet us here when he found him,” Damien answered. Shifting her so she sat more upright, he asked anxiously, “Are you going to stay with me?”
“Trying,” Sapphira wheezed, her eyes tightly closed as the pounding in her head increased. With a blinding flash of pain, everything went dark.
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes