Fallon was helping Sapphira dry her back when he felt Gideon enter the cave. The part of him that had been Aden pushed forward, overshadowing this own self-awareness. It was a side effect of the trials that could leave them disoriented, depending on how deep their memories were suppressed. Apparently Malphas had tried to bury them so deep they would never remember who they really were. One of the many ways he tried to keep them under his control.
After so many centuries of being someone else, it was strange and a bit disorienting being able to feel Gideon so intimately. In the last six years, unless the emotion was being specifically directed at him, there had always been the small tastes of what the male was feeling. The rage his brother was directing at him now was palpable. Fallon knew when Gideon saw the rumpled sheets on the bed because the jealousy that intensified that rage almost brought him to his knees. Right on the heels of that was frustration laced with guilt. These were Tanis’s emotions, and Gideon knew that. There was no jealousy between the brothers, there never would be, but until they could separate themselves from their counterparts their emotions were going to be debilitating. With some effort, Fallon pushed Gideon’s rampant emotions away enough so they were only a dull roar in the back of his head.
“What’s wrong?” Sapphira asked turning towards him frowning in confusion.
“The usually emotional chaos that ensues once our true selves awaken,” he sighed, placing his hands on her hips, drawing her closer so he could rest his forehead on hers. “The part of Gideon that is Tanis is pissed I took you from him. Seeing a bed rumpled from us having sex did not help,” he grimaced as a particular strong shot of rage sliced through his head.
“Why don’t I feel him?”
“I am blocking him. I was worried if I didn’t shield you, you would not have survived the pain of separation as Kara and Tanis would experience,” he explained. “Now I’m glad I did.”
“That bad?” she asked warily. Like Fallon, Gideon’s emotional turmoil would mix with hers. When they were this high, it was never a pleasant experience.
Closing his eyes, Fallon nodded.
“You might as well drop the shields so I can get it over with,” Sapphira sighed
Opening his eyes, he regarded her warily. “You sure? I’ve never felt it this intensely before. It’s as if the emotions are heightened somehow.”
“Do I have a choice? We need to remember who we are, regain our powers before we try to rescue Damien or Malphas will enslave us again. I don’t think he’ll give us another chance to escape.”
“You really think he is more powerful than you?” Fallon asked surprised.
“I think he has done his homework and he knows our weaknesses,” Sapphira frowned. “I can still feel him…here,” she whispered putting her hand over her heart, shuddering. When she looked up into Fallon’s eyes they were full of something he rarely saw from the goddess. Fear. “I do not want to be under him again. In any sense of the word.”
“I’ll so my best to make sure that never happens,” Fallon vowed.
Nodding a little too much, a little to quickly, Sapphira squared her shoulders and braced herself. “Okay. Hit me,” she ordered.
Smiling as her overexaggerated bravado, Fallon brought down the shields that kept her and Gideon separated.
Sapphira gasped when the full force of Gideon’s anger and jealousy hit her. There was so much anger, so much hurt, and mixed together was a heavy dose of guilt followed by physical pain. Gideon was still wounded from Malphas attack. That should have not been possible. One, because Gideon’s physical body had not been in that cavern. Two, because he was an immortal. He should have healed by now. Why wasn’t he healed?
Fallon tightened his grip on her waist as she felt his powers start to mask Gideon’s feelings.
“No,” she gritted out. “It just startled me. Give me a minute.”
Fallon froze, watching Sapphira carefully as she not only pushed Gideon’s emotions back, but began to sooth them. While Damien had created her sentinel, he had used both his and hers essences in that creation. It was the reason the four of them were so closely linked to one another. It was also one of the reasons Satan and Godiva were jealous of the two males, because they had not been created from Sapphira and Damien, but from the matter that created all. Sapphira used that link to assure Gideon, she was okay as well as remind him of what was real, and what was a product of the Trial.
“He’s hurt,” she whispered, her face showing the pain that Gideon was feeling.
Fallon stilled. Why wasn’t he feeling Gideon’s pain?
“Because Tanis’s rage is trying to take over, and he wants nothing to do with you,” she answered his thoughts. “He’s,” the grip she had on Fallon’s arms tightened as her face closed down even more with pain. “There is something wrong with the wound, but…there is no physical wound,” she frowned. “There is no torn flesh, no blood. Just burning and so much,” she swallowed hard, “pain. He’s,” her eyes flew opened, fear once again lacing them, “dying,” she breathed.
Within a nanosecond she was dressed and heading for the door, Fallon closely on her heels. Gideon may have escaped Malphas’s trap, but the damage had already been done. If they did not reverse it, and soon, Gideon would not survive the night.
* * *
Brynn carefully laid a barely conscious Gideon down on the rumpled bed. Reaching for Gideon’s forehead, he gently placed the back of his hand against it to find his skin hot. That was not good. Brynn was not sure what had happened when Gideon took the medallion from him, but when he had finally been able to pry that damn thing from his fingers, Gideon was curled in a ball on the floor weak and shaken. Godiva said he needed Sapphira in order to heal him, but neither she or Satan knew where they were, and Gideon was too weak to teleport himself there. Knowing that if they could they would leave him behind because he was only a mere mortal and not a part of this particular story, Brynn volunteered his ship. If Gideon could direct him, he would take him to Sapphira. So here they were and so far no Sapphira.
Straightening, he looked around the large cave, doing his best to ignore what the rumpled sheets on the bed meant. He glanced at a door off to the side of the cave where he had heard a male’s voice then a much softer female’s voice. The knowledge that his wife had been with other men, that because of some cosmic rule she was not his alone was not a new concept. Seeing it so blatantly before him was not what you would call, comforting. Jealousy so thick he would choke on it if he allowed it to take control swam just below the surface. Part of him wanted to storm into that room, grab Kara and take her somewhere all this madness would never find them. The other part knew if he wanted to find their son he needed the help of the two immortals that were connected to his wife on a cosmic level Brynn could not even begin to comprehend.
Focusing on finding something to help bring Gideon’s fever down. he spied the sink across the room. Making his way over to it, he took in the ratty furniture, papers and books strewn all over the place that were covered with a thick layer of dust. Whoever had lived here had been gone for some time. Kara would have called it shabby chic, one of her home world’s terms. He would have argued it was more of a mess. The smile that thought had brought to his face dimmed as he remembered Kara, or Sapphira, was not only not his wife, but not even from this reality. That once this latest emergency was over, she would leave here and never return.
A wave of vertigo hit him so hard Brynn had to grab one of the kitchen chairs for support. When she had been taken from him by Colin his world had collapsed around him, yet he knew that someday she might return to him. That she was still somewhere in this universe. How was he going to cope when she was completely gone? Then another thought hit him hard. Chris was not his son, not really. Brynn may have been one of the two parts that created him in this universe, but in reality he was some sort of god that would return to his own realm with Sapphira, never to be seen again. That was if they survived. After what Brynn had seen this Malphas do to Gideon and he wasn’t even in the room, Brynn was not so sure they would.
Shaking the thoughts of losing his family out of his head, he turned to what he assumed was the kitchen and began to look for a clean towel. First thing first. Try to keep Gideon from dying, help defeat a demon to save his son and probably the universe at large, then, if he survived, go home to his daughter. There would be time enough then to grieve.
Shaking the dust from the towel he found under the counter, he turned to the old fashion water pump attached to the counter that stood next to the sink. Grasping the handle, he lifted it then heaved downwards. Deep within, there was a hollow gurgling sound that shook the pipes, making them clang loudly. Well, that did not sound good. And the Gods only knew how deep the pipes ran before they hit water. Grimacing, he tried again with the same result. A groan filled with pain from behind him spurred him on. After ten more pumps, water finally started to trickle from the spout. One more and it gushed into the sink. Putting the rag under the spout he gave it one more push, noting how cold the water was as it poured over the towel and his hand. Wringing it out, he returned to the male and placed it over his forehead. Straightening he looked at the cave opening. Where were Sapphira and Fallon? Gideon said they would be here.
The door he had notice before opened and the female that rushed out of it was as unfamiliar as she was familiar. Her auburn hair was pulled back in a loose bun, revealing a face that was so beautiful all Brynn could do was stare open mouth. It was her hazel eyes that lit with mirth and the small upturn of her lips that brought to home that this beautiful creature was his wife. It was then that he noticed what she was wearing.
The thick leather tank top that hugged her curves while covering them up at the same time tucked into tight leather pants of the same dark color. Brynn could not determine if that color was a deep brown or red. A wide deep red belt circled her waist just above the hips. It all had a look of a layer of clothing you would wear under some sort of armor. Unfinished. The bare feet that quickly made their way to Gideon’s side told him what she had put on was in a hurry.
“Gideon,” she breathed hovering over him.
Cracking his eyes open at her voice, Gideon managed a weak smile. “Hey gorgeous,” he whispered hoarsely. “Sorry I’m late.”
“Hush,” she admonished, her eyes roaming his body for any sign of injury. Reaching down, she gently touched his cheek with the back of her hand and hissed when she felt the fever in his skin. “I thought you said he was fine,” she snapped at Fallon, who was standing at the end of the bed frowning at his brother. Brynn took in the sleeveless leather shirt that hung over loose leather pants of the same black color. While he knew this was who he thought was Aden, like Sapphira there was something very different about the male. As if his aura was changed, enhanced, far more powerful than before. It was the same male, yet not.
“He said he was,” Fallon growled, none to pleased he had been lied to. Turning his sky blue eyes onto Brynn, he gruffly asked, “Tell me again what happened when Gideon took the medallion from you.”
Running his fingers through his hair, Brynn blew out the air he had sucked in. He did not even understand what had happened. How would he explain it so the others would? Glancing at the bed, he saw Sapphira bent over Gideon, eyes close, her lips moving silently, her hands slowly circling over his head before moving down his body.
“I’m not sure,” Brynn answered his eyes going back to Fallon. When I held the medallion, nothing happened. It was just a hunk of metal. When Gideon grabbed it took him to his knees. When he started crying out in pain, it took everything I had to pry it from his hand. It was like it was glued to him.”
“Did he say anything?”
Frowning, Brynn tried to remember. Godiva and Satan were yelling for him to take the medallion back, too afraid to touch it themselves lest they too were caught in the trap. He shook his head. “No. At least not that I could hear.”
This time it was Fallon’s turn to frown. Holding out his hand, he asked, “May I?”
At first Brynn did not understand what the immortal wanted, then he remember that Sapphira could read other’s minds, their memories, through touch. Figuring it was the best way for Fallon to understand what had happened, he held out his hand and nodded.
Taking Brynn’s hand in his, Fallon closed his eyes. Very carefully, he searched for the memories he was looking for. When he found them, his frown turned into a scowl.
“Remind me to beat those two within an inch of their lives,” he growled as he watched Godiva and Satan stand as far away from Gideon as the room allowed, yelling at the mortal in the room to save him from an immortal’s trap.
“Only if I can help,” Brynn countered.
Turning back to the memory, he saw that Gideon’s lips were moving, but he could not hear anything he was saying, and his head was bent so he could not read his lips. Releasing Brynn’s hand, he took a deep breath and let it out slowly to help center himself back in the present.
“Did you find anything?” Brynn asked.
“Nothing I already don’t know,” Fallon sighed rubbing his face wearily with his hands. Resting them on his hips, he turned his attention to the two on the bed. “While Gideon’s consciousness was in the hole Malphas is hiding in, Malphas tried to rip his heart out.” He turned back to Brynn. “You saved him.”
Grimacing, Brynn looked towards the bed. Sapphira’s hands were over Gideon’s abdomen, her concentration solely on the immortal. “Not in time. What is wrong with him?”
“Poison,” Sapphira rasped, her eyes still closed, her hands still hovering over where the physical wound would be if Malphas had actually dug into Gideon’s flesh. “I just don’t know what kind. If I did, I might be able to counteract it before it’s too late.”
“No,” Gideon rasped weakly grabbing her wrist. “Trap.”
“I won’t allow you to die because it might be a trap,” Sapphira growled, turning her arm so she could grasp her hand in his. “I will not lose you to this madness.”
“It’s what we were created for, my lady,” Gideon reminded, his eyes locked with hers. “I could never rest if I caused your death.”
“Malphas does not want me dead. He wants me as his, and he’s willing to sacrifice you to get to me,” Sapphira reminded angrily. “Whatever this poison is, it is not meant for me.”
Gideon collapsed back onto the bed, gasping for air, his eyes closed as pain wracked him. “I won’t take the chance you are wrong.”
“He’s right, Sara,” Fallon said moving to the side of the bed next to them, using their nickname for her from a previous Trial.
“No,” Sapphira countered stubbornly. She turned to Brynn. “Do you still have the medallion?”
Nodding, Brynn took it out of his pocket and held it up. Sapphira stood to go to him for a closer look, but a hand on her arm stayed her. She looked at the hand then up into the owners worried eyes.
“Don’t touch it,” Fallon warned.
“I won’t,” she promised. “Trust me,” she added with a smile. That smile grew when Fallon grunted in obvious skepticism. He knew her too well. Gently pulling her arm from his grasp, she moved towards Brynn. “Hold it up,” she instructed.
Doing as she asked, Brynn watched as her eyes narrowed while she studied the markings on the medallion. The urge to pull her into his arms, make sure for himself she was alright, assure her he would allow nothing to harm her, was strong. The imposing figure watching them like a hawk kept him where he was. First they saved their son, then he would think about what happened after that. Right on the heels of that thought, the compulsion to reach for her intensified.
“Sapphira,” Fallon’s voice growled in warning.
Startled by the sudden noise in the quiet, Brynn turned back to see Sapphira’s hand frozen in mid-air. Frowning, he pulled the medallion further away from her. “What happened to trusting you?” he admonishment, an eyebrow raised with disapproval.
Closing her eyes, Sapphira shuddered. “It was calling to me. Wanting me to touch it,” she whispered hoarsely. Opening her eyes, she trained them on Brynn’s. “You don’t feel it?”
Brynn started to shake his head no then stopped. “I feel a strong compulsion to hold you, even though I know now is not the time.”
A small shy smile spread across Sapphira’s lips. “There is always time for a hug,” she teased.
A hand gently wrapped around Sapphira’s wrist, pulling her away from Brynn. Sapphira turned to Fallon who was frowning down at her.
“You took a step towards Brynn and reached out for the medallion again, but you don’t know that do you,” he said.
Swallowing hard, she shook her head. “You don’t feel it? The pull to touch it?”
“No,” Fallon answered turning his attention to the medallion. “The trap was not set for me. It was set for you and Gideon.” He looked up at Brynn. “And it is using every means at its disposal to make that happen.” Making sure Sapphira was safely behind him, his hand still wrapped around her wrist, Fallon took a closer look at the medallion. “That symbol. It looks familiar. Could you put that on the table, over there,” he motioned Brynn towards the kitchen table. Giving Sapphira a considering look, he added, “Then I want you to make sure she stays away from that medallion. I don’t care how you do it, just make sure she does not touch it.”
Raising his eyebrows in surprise, Brynn walked over to the table and set the medallion with the symbol facing up on the table. The moment he let go, the compulsion to hold Sapphira decreased. Then he went to Sapphira, hesitated for a moment as he watched her stare at the medallion as if it was the most fascinating thing in the world before wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her back against his front. The moment she was safely in his arms, and Fallon did not object but turned to start rifling through the many books and papers filling the space, a weight lifted from Brynn’s shoulders. Especially as Sapphira settled in against him, her arms hugging his against her. As if she belonged there.
“What are you looking for?” Brynn asked, turning his attention back to Fallon, his thumb absently rubbing Sapphira’s arm. A comforting gesture not only for him, but also her.
“When Satan found me as a young Aden, he brought me here to live for the first few hundred years. When I was old enough to read and understand what I was reading, we would spend hours looking for clues about how to work around the boundaries of the prophecy.” Pausing, Fallon grimaced as he looked around the cave. “Caius had told Aden that it was he, not Malphas, who had raised him. Now I wonder if that was entirely true.”
“Why do you say that?” Sapphira asked.
“There are times where Satan would not remember something I told him happened while we were here. Could Malphas had emerged without Satan noticing?”
“Maybe,” Sapphira answered after a moment of thinking about Fallon’s question. “I guess we will never truly know.”
Shaking his head, Fallon returned to his searching.
“Can we help?” Sapphira asked.
Looking around at the mess, Fallon gestured to the farthest stack of books and papers from the kitchen table. “Try those over there. Look for anything that talks about compulsion spells, or poisoning, or that symbol.”
“You think this is some sort of spell?” Brynn asked taking Sapphira’s hand and leading her to the other side of the cave. At first she resisted him, but the further they moved away from the table, the easier she seemed to breath.
“I’m not sure,” Fallon answered thumbing through a book. “But it’s a place to start.” He glanced at Gideon who had grown quiet on the bed. There was a moment of panic before he saw the shallow rise of Gideon’s chest. He was still alive, but for how long? And what about Damien? What was Malphas doing to him why they tried to save Gideon? No matter what disaster they tried to fix first, there was one thing that kept repeating over and over in Fallon’s mind. They were running out of time.
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes