Forever Lost – Chapter 17

Chapter 17

 

Sapphira closed her eyes as she fell into the sensation of the wind flowing around her, through her hair, her wings. By instinct only, she weaved through the mountains as the dragon followed close behind, roaring at the joy of freedom that only flight could give. It was something that had been denied her for over a thousand years, even though she had not realized it. Now she knew what that feeling of longing that not even Gideon’s presences could completely erase, the feeling of something vital missing in her soul. The freedom of flight.

Flying in hell was exhilarating, but the true joy of it was diminished by the heat and thickness of the air that her angel side could barely tolerate. It was more necessity than joy that her kind flew in the pits of hell. Here, in this realm where the air was cool, clean, and the sun heated from above, flight took on a whole new meaning. Here the freedom was so complete that one could forget the ties that bound them to a fate they did not want. Freedom from the constant threat of being hunted down and used by whatever power that managed to imprison her.

When she fell off the ledge, the human emotion of the fear of dying momentarily paralyzed her. Then she remembered she was no longer human, that she was once again supernatural. Closing her eyes, she pulled on a long unused power and summoned her wings.

Normally angels, fallen or otherwise, and those demons that could fly kept their wings free behind them unless trying to hide who they were when walking around with humans or having to traverse in tight places where their size would hinder rather than help. When those instances happened, with only a thought their wings could be turned into elaborate tattoos on their backs. A vivid image of what was possible.

The spell that had been wound around Sapphira to hide her identity had taken even that tattoo away, leaving no trace of who she really was. When they arrived at the monastery and she started to regain her memories, she went into the bathroom to see if her wings had returned. At that time they had not, so pushing the unhelpful thought that they may never return aside, she closed her eyes and summoned the power that would bring them to life.

There was a moment of insecurity before with an unusual searing pain they burst forth. That was new. Except for the first time, there had never been pain before. No time to think about it now. The ground was coming up rather fast. Rolling over so she faced the upcoming uneven craggy rocks below, she spread those huge silver appendages that were as familiar to her as her arms and legs, gave one mighty flap and was off, the dragon close behind. The sense of freedom was overwhelming and she had given herself into it and the peace it brought.

Said dragon suddenly roared in warning breaking that peace, somehow making it sound exasperated at the same time. Opening her eyes, Sapphira found she was quickly coming to the end of a long ravine. Before her was a mountain side that looked quite painful if she were to accidentally slam into it. It would not kill her. Incapacitate her for a while, break every bone in her body, but not kill her. Not something she was relishing living through, with a slight angling of her body and a flap of her wings, instead of impacting she raced upwards, inches away from the face of the mountain. Then she was free of them.

Laughing with a joy that she rarely felt, one that filled her body with light and triumph, she headed towards the heavens. Halfway between the darkness of space and the planet, she stopped and hovered. Surveying everything around her. The skies far above with their stars winking down at her and the planet far below with its continents and oceans and white clouds. Up here in the in-between she was alone and could think. Figure out what her next move would be. Since the spell was now broken, the powers who wanted to control her would know she was once again active. They would come after her, that she knew, and they would not care who they had to kill to get to her. She could not put those she cared about in anymore danger. Gideon had already paid an unthinkable price when her father had torn his wings from him and burned them.

Frowning down at the planet below, she knew she could ask no more from him, no matter how her heart hurt at the thought of leaving him. Since the beginning he had been her constant, her companion, broken rules to be at her side. Leaving him seemed…cowardly, but was it fair to either of them to stay? Without flight he had a serious disadvantage against what would be coming after her.

“How many more surprises should we expect?” a calm voice asked behind her.

Sapphira stiffened. Without turning around she said, “I think you know.”

“Sadly enough, I don’t.” Drew moved so he faced her, his eyes narrowed in anger. “In fact, we’ve all been under the assumption that you were human, mortal. Now we find you are much more.” He looked at her wings with a fair amount of appraisal as they slowly fanned back and forth, keeping her in place. “Silver. Interesting.”

“What do you want, Drew?” she asked her own eyes narrowed. “Or maybe the better question is who is your master?”

This time Drew stiffened.

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” his voice and expression going neutral; telling Sapphira he was lying.

“Who holds your leash, Angel, for you do have a leash? I’m surprised the others haven’t smelled it on you,” derision thick in her voice. The only reason Drew would have the kind of leash or mark of ownership she smelled, old with a tinge of rot, is if he had sold his soul of something that was not meant to be his. Some power or need. Something her father would have offered, although it did not smell like his mark.

“We all have a leash of some form or another, Princess. Some are just tighter than others,” Drew answered, his voice filling with a sadness so profound that Sapphira could not hold her anger because she knew he was right. Whether it was someone who was stronger than you, or rules that bound your hands that desperately wanted to help, to love, or a destiny you never wanted, true freedom was a dream for their kind. Only a few among them were powerful enough to stay free. The question was who owned Drew and what did he or she want from Sapphira.

“What does your master want from me,” she sighed.

“What everyone with enough power wants. To control you,” Drew answered softly.

Sapphira looked into the angel’s eyes and saw he was as unhappy with his role as she was with hers. Then she had to ask.

“Do you come from my father?”

“No,” he answered.

“Do you come from Her?” she asked looking up at the heavens.

“No,” this time his voice was a whisper. “You know she does not interfere in the outcome of her creations.”

“Yes. Free will and all. Yet we don’t have that do we, you and I,” looking back at Drew, her eyes sad. “The mortals are given free will, but us, the immortal; we were never afforded such a luxury.”

“We have it…to a point,” Drew frowned, looking down at the planet below.

Sapphira snorted, her gaze following his. “Yes, to a point. Then we are reigned in like an errant dog to be beaten back into submission.” She wrapped her arms around herself and shivered, although it was not the cold of the air that chilled her, but something inside that could not be warmed by the sun. “I have spent hundreds of years hiding, years away from the only one that makes me whole. And even though he pulls at me with a yearning I understand all too well, I do not wish to go back,” she whispered. “I do not wish this destiny because I know the pain that awaits us is far more than the pain we have endured to keep me hidden from those who would use me. Use us.”

The last was said in a whisper so soft Drew almost missed it. Looking at Sapphira as she stared frighteningly down at the blue and white orb below them, he understood her fear. Where he may someday break free of his master, she would never be able to break free of her destiny. Just what that destiny is was still a mystery. His master only told him what he deemed necessary, although the fact that she could fly would have been a nice little tidbit. And the color of those wings. The bright silver that shimmered in the light. It was something he had never seen, and aside from her parents Drew was pretty sure neither had anyone else.

“What do you mean us?” he asked carefully.

Sapphira looked at him, her eyes not really focusing on him at first. As if she had responded to the sound of his voice but had not really heard him. Then she focused and her eyes turned wary.

“Who is your master?” she countered.

They were silent; each bobbing with the gentle stroke of their wings as they stared at each other knowing the other would not answer.

“Can you really leave Gideon without telling him why? Can you leave your brother now that you are reconnected?” Drew asked. “Though twins among us are rare, I know the bond they share. I know how deep it goes.”

Sighing Sapphira’s eyes turned back towards the planet below. “My brother would understand.”

“Gideon would not.” The flinching of her eyes told Drew he had hit a nerve. She did not want to hurt Gideon and he would use that emotion to coherence her back to the monastery. Afterwards he would figure out a way to bring her to his master without the others knowing he was involved. The last thousand years were the first peace he had known in centuries. If they knew him for the traitor he was, they would make him wish for death long before they were done with him. It was something his master had done to him many times over, and would do so again once Drew brought Sapphira to him. If there was a possibility that he could prolong the enviable by keeping her whereabouts secret a while longer, he would. Carefully he floated a little closer. “He has sacrificed so much to keep you safe. How can you leave him when he needs you right now?”

“How much help will I be when I am drawing every supernatural creature to me?” she snapped, her anger tempered by her desperation. “Do you think this is an easy decision for me? I have been separated from my brother for a thousand years, and even though I did not realize it while I was human, every day of that separation was excruciating. In here,” she put her hand over her heart. “And as for Gideon,” she hesitated looking away trying to reign in her emotions. “You know as well as I they will never allow us to be together.”

“The monastery is Warded. They won’t find you there,” Drew reminded.

“Just as you’re master has not found me?” she asked raising an eyebrow. A light shade of red bloomed crossed Drew’s face, but he hid his embarrassment with anger.

“My master does not know where you are…yet,” he reminded ominously.

“And why is that?” Sapphira asked.

It was a valid question. Impending torture for disobeying aside, why hadn’t he told his master? Taking a moment to think about it he said, “Because I owe Gideon a great deal more than what lost me my freedom. He believed in me when no one else would.” And in saying those words he realized it was that loyalty that was the reason he did not want to turn Sapphira over to his master. Because Gideon was his friend, they all were, and their trust in him was something he could not lose.

“Even so, your master will yank your chain soon enough and you will have to answer him.”

“Maybe, but I will stall for as long as I can.”

“It will not be long enough,” a deep angry voice snarled behind them.

Sapphira did not wait to find out who it was. Immediately she dove towards the planet, knowing her only chance of escape was to lose her pursuers in jungles and mountains below.

“After her!” the voice snapped. As the four warriors that were with him descended after Sapphira, the owner of the voice turned its cold eyes onto Drew, and even though the eyes were cold the voice was not. No, its voice was heated with a fine rage that told Drew he would pay dearly for his defiance. “What part of I own your ass do you not understand?” he asked, his face close enough to Drew’s he could smell the sulfur on his breath. “Your only objective was to bring the princess to me. You had her alone and yet I had to come for her myself. Explain to me why.”

“This was the first time I was able to get her alone, my lord,” Drew answered, his voice and expression as neutral as he could make it. Even though it was the truth and his master knew how carefully the others guarded Sapphira, Drew knew it would not be enough. As a slave he was not afforded any mistakes. He either did as he was told or he paid, and that payment was usually incorporated with an immense amount of pain.

“You better pray they catch her, slave, or what you have endured before will seem like paradise,” his master sneered.

Drew highly doubted that, but he was not a masochist so he kept his mouth shut. Apparently that was not good enough. A clawed hand wrapped itself around his neck, squeezing his airway shut. Even though he knew it was useless, instinct took over and Drew tried to pry it off. Soon his wings were hanging limp as his air deprived brain began to shut down. Immortal or not, if you wanted to stay conscious air was a good thing,

“You are extremely lucky I still need you alive. Now go down there and find that brat and bring her to me, or by all that is unholy you will spend the rest of your miserable existence in the deepest foulest hole I can find.”

Suddenly Drew was falling, but it was no use. His last thought before everything went dark was the pain of every bone in his body broken was far preferable to what his master had in mind for him. If he was lucky, his master would even allow him time to heal….

Yeah. Probably not.

Chapter 16
Chapter 18

Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes

 

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One Touch – Destiny

Just one touch.
Is it too much to ask
for just one touch?
A brush of skin
the feel of silky strands
sliding through fingertips,
the breath of air
before lips feather caress.
Denied what is rightfully ours
agony so sweet
pain becomes pleasure
unending as time itself.
To ease the fire in our veins
all I ask for is
just one touch.
– Marc & Emma

Copyright © 2018 Heidi Barnes

Forever Lost – Chapter 16

Chapter 16

 

A roar that shook the foundations of the monastery bringing dust down on the angels froze them in mid-sentence.

“What the bloody hell was that?” Drew demanded.

Another roar much closer had them running to the nearest door and out onto the path that bordered the buildings built into the mountain. They stared in awe as an enormous red dragon passed so close to the monastery the force of wind blew the angels back against the wall. Another roar had them crying out in pain, their hands over their ears trying unsuccessfully to deafen the sound.

“Where did that thing come from?” Darrick asked his voice sounding muffled because his ears refused to work. “I thought they were all dead.”

“Apparently not,” Drew muttered pushing himself off the wall to join Gideon who had moved back to the balcony’s edge, his eyes following the great beast. When it angled its wings and headed to where he knew the mouth of the cave was, his heart stopped.

“Sara!” he breathed.

Then he was running.

Realizing what Gideon had seen, Drew unfurled his wings while drawing his sword.

“What’s wrong?” Darrick asked moving next to Drew.

“It’s heading for Sapphira,” Drew yelled just before he launched himself into the air.

“Shit!” Darrick hissed following his brother over the side.

When they reached the cave entrance, they stopped in mid-air gapping at the scene before them. The dragon was too large to fit on the ledge, so over half its long body was down the mountain side, his back claws dug deep into the rock to keep it in place. The upper legs were on the ledge with its wings tucked into its sides as his short nose head was laying on the ledge with its eyes closed. The thing that stunned the angels into silence was that it was purring. That red scaled monster was purring like a large cat while Sapphira scratched it behind its ear with both hands.

“Just when you think you’ve seen it all,” Darrick said the awe thick in his voice.

“There is more to this girl than we’ve been told,” Drew frowned.

Darrick looked at him as if he was daft. “You’re just figuring this out? And they call me slow,” he scoffed. Ignoring Drew’s glare, Darrick started to very slowly descend towards the cliff’s edge, careful to stay as far away from the large lizard as possible. The moment his toe touch the ledge the loud purring turned into a deep growl. Darrick froze.

“Sapphira,” he called, his voice as careful as his movement as he floated a short distance from the ledge, “could you tell you’re oversized lizard that I’m not dangerous?”

The dragon snorted in disgust. As if saying the thought of Darrick being dangerous was laughable.

Darrick glared at it.

“Two words, big and scaly,” he snapped holding up two fingers in front of the dragon. “Breath. Mint.”

The dragon lifted one side of its lips barring his long razor sharp teeth, snarling. Apparently it understood English quite well and did not appreciate Darrick’s sarcasm. Unfortunately Darrick did not know when to back down and continued glaring at the dragon, itching to take it on.

“Do you have a death wish?” Sapphira asked calmly.

“Yes, yes he does,” Drew answered, slowly coming even with Darrick. Giving him a look that said shut it, he turned his attention to Sapphira. “I take it you know each other,” nodding towards the dragon.

“I have never met this one, but yes. I am familiar with dragons,” she answered carefully gauging the two angels’ reactions. This could go either way. She had no idea their dealings with dragons, so she did not know if they held grudges or not.

Dragons had not always been cast in a good light, and there were good reasons for that. Like everything in life, there is a good side and a bad side. Good people and bad people. Good dragons and bad dragons. Then there are those who are in-between that are just trying to get through life without causing too many ripples, but if angered were one of the most fearsome of their kind. This particular dragon was one of those. It was one of the reasons he was still alive when his brethren were all gone.

“So, not to harp on the obvious, you can control dragons?” Drew continued.

“I can, but I prefer not to. They are living creatures, sentient beings. I do not believe in slavery of any kind.”

“But you called it here?” Drew persisted.

“I asked him to come to me. He was about to eat my brother and the others for disturbing him. I needed to explain they were no harm to him so I called him. He is very lonely.” She turned her attention back to the dragon and began to scratch behind his ear again. She smiled affectionately as his eyes rolled into the back of his head and he began to purr with what was as close to a smile a dragon could have on his snout. “It has been a long time since he has seen anyone, dragon, man or beast. He will not harm us as long as we do not harm him.”

“How do you know that? He looked like he wanted to eat me,” Darrick’s skepticism in his voice and on his face as he watched the large lizard warily.

The dragon opened one eye and swiveled it around to look at Darrick, the smile turning menacing as his long tongue slipped out between his teeth and he licked his lips. The sound that came from it was close to a chuckle. An evil chuckle.

“See!” Darrick squeaked, pointing his sword at the dragon as he floated a few more feet away.

“Maybe he realizes that you’re an idiot,” Drew snapped. Just what they needed. A dragon with a wicked sense of humor.

Darrick opened his mouth to retort but two things happened that stopped any further talk. Gideon burst into the cave, sword drawn yelling Sapphira’s name. It was enough to startle the dragon and he reared up knocking Sapphira off balance. She gave a yelp of surprise, wobbled a few seconds, her arms flaying, before disappearing over the edge.

“No!” Gideon cried heading for the edge forgetting that he could no longer fly. With one huge clawed foot, the dragon knocked him back into the cave before diving over the edge after Sapphira.

“Go to Gideon before he catches his breath and keep him in the cave, I’ll go after Sapphira,” Drew ordered. With a nod the two angels separated.

As Drew followed the dragon down the edge of the cliff, he hoped one of them would make it in time to save Sapphira. From what he had learned these last few days, Drew was pretty sure she would survive a fall like this. What he was not sure of was how much of the part of her that was immortal had returned since the spell had been broken. If she died, a lot more than Gideon’s heart would be shattered.

When the Dragon suddenly veered to the left then leveled out, Drew breathed a sigh of relief thinking that it had caught her. That relief was short-lived. What he saw did not turn his blood cold with horror, but shock that quickly heated into anger. What the hell? Having had enough of secrets that were potential deadly, he followed the small silver blur as it streaked between the craggy mountain tops with the ease of one who had been flying all their life. If the powers that owned him would not give him answers, then he would go to the source of all this turmoil. One way or another he would get answers. Afterwards, he would decide what his next move would be, not that he had much of a choice.

Chapter 15
Chapter 17

Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes

Forever Lost – Chapter 15

Chapter 15

After stopping by the living room to pick up Adalrik and Quinn, Talon led Sapphira through a maze of tunnels that went steadily upwards until they reached a large cave. Walking out onto the cave’s ledge she gaped at the vista before her. Jagged edges of mountain tops as far as the eye could see. The sky a clear blue with a few scattered clouds in the distance. The warmth of the sun beating down on her was gentled by a cool breeze. If she had a picture of the perfect day hanging on her wall, this would it.

The need to stretch her wings, to soar in the open sky, feel the wind on her face through her feathers filled her with longing, but years of hiding what she was, who she was, was not easy to shake. Yes, the angels with her had spent many human lifetimes protecting her from danger; it still did not mean she could trust them. The only ones she could truly trust were her mother and Damien. Even though her heart argued she could trust Gideon, that little voice inside her questioned his love and loyalty to her. Especially after he had pulled away from her in the reception room. Why would he do that?

“Careful, Princess,” Talon cautioned next to her. “It’s a long ways down, and if I let you fall Gideon would make the rest of my existence very unpleasant.” When she looked up at him, he could see the question in her eyes, the hurt. “He doesn’t understand and he’s in pain. Give him some time. Show him that even though he considers himself half a man that you still love him.”

“How do you know what I’m thinking?” she asked suddenly defensive.

“Because I see the way you look at him,” Talon smiled. “And I know how fiercely protective he is of you. When we were in Hell and he saw you surrounded by those demons.” He shuddered. “I would not want to be at the end of his sword.” He hesitated.

“What?” Sapphira asked.

“You were his ward, his human to protect. Now that the spell is broken and your powers are returning things are different, and we don’t know how much your father told him about you. Lucifer is one of our greatest enemies. Falling in love with his daughter will not go over well with our boss, and I’m rather certain your father will blow a gasket.

“They used to be friends, you know. Gideon and your father. When Gideon saw the path Lucifer was taking, he tried to talk him out of it. Even went to earth with him in an attempt to stop him. Finally Gideon broke all ties. It wasn’t easy. They were like brothers, but to lose his place in heaven was not worth the love of a human. At least it wasn’t at the time,” Talon smiled when he saw pain flicker through Sapphira’s eyes. “When the powers that be tried to…coerce Gideon into betraying his friend, he refused. Still, Lucifer swore vengeance when he saw Gideon standing in the crowd watching as he was cast out. We found out later that there were those who told Lucifer that Gideon had betrayed him. Ever since then Gideon never trusted easily. Even now there are those of us who surround him he does not entirely trust.”

“He trusts you,” Sapphira countered with a soft smile.

The smile she received did not erase the sadness in his eyes. “It was hard won and the cost was great. But I would not trade his trust or friendship for anything…or one.”

“I don’t want to hurt him,” Sapphira assured quietly, unable to meet his eyes.

“You don’t, but you cannot promise you won’t.” There was no condemnation or anger in those words. Talon knew as well as Sapphira that her life was not her own, and there were many out there who wanted to either control it, or end it. Sapphira did not want to bring anyone down with her, especially those she loved.

Pushing those unpleasant thoughts aside, she closed her eyes, let her breath out slowly and concentrated. She would find her brother first then figure out where to go from there. Reaching out she searched for something familiar. Something that was Damien. There were those of their kind who could feel another’s power, know when one of them was close by. Know whether they were angel, demon or some other supernatural being. Within all the realms there were many creatures of power. But twins were special. They felt each other’s emotions, each other’s pain. Because of this, Sapphira and Damien had learned long ago how to shield from each other. If one became injured, the other would not be able find them because they felt the injury just as intensely. That, in turn, would incapacitate the twin. What little Sapphira had felt told her Damien was in bad shape and very weak. Only because of the horrors of their childhood was Damien able to hold that shield in place so Sapphira had a chance to find him.

Then she felt him. It was barely a whisper, but it was enough.

“There!” she pointed towards the east where a lone mountain stood taller than the rest. “On a ledge on that peak.”

“The Wards do not reach that far and to remain safe you must stay within them, so we cannot take you with us, Princess,” Talon said as his wings flexed out. Loghan, Adalrik and Quinn unfurled their wings from where they hid them and leaped off the edge, soaring towards where she had directed. God, she wanted to follow them, but her secret must be kept a little while longer. “Please help me stay in one piece by staying here, in one piece,” Talon implored.

“I’ll stay here,” Sapphira grudgingly agreed.

“That’s a good girl.”

And then he was following the others. Sapphira only hoped they would make it in time. Damien’s power was not the only thing lurking in the mountains, and what she felt was immense and not happy to be disturbed.

*  *   *

As Damien lay on the narrow ledge trying to catch his breath, the random thought that it was quite warm for so high up in the mountains cleared his head from the pain. Grabbing on to it, he concentrated on how good the sun felt, how different it was from the heat of his home realm. The beings of worlds like this one really did not understand how well they had it. The fresh air, amazing blue skies, colors not seen through the red haze that was a constant of his birth place. If he could, he would stay here, but there were those who would hunt him down to either take him back to his father for the hefty bounty on his head, or use him to lure his sister into a trap. Then again, he did not have many friends. He had spent too many centuries wreaking havoc in this realm as an outlet for his frustration of not being able to fight back when his father took his rage out on him.

After he recovered, he would come here, get the attention of the angels – the only other creatures he deemed worthy opponents – and burn off some of his frustration, hone his skills. Honestly he was surprised his father had not heard of his exploits. It was not as if Damien had kept his name a secret. One would think he wanted his father to know how powerful he was.

Then the spell was cast and he was too weak to even find his way into the sunlight, and truly too weak to fight his father.

Lucifer’s wrath when he found his daughter missing was something of legends. After a few hundred years of torture trying to glean information of his sister’s whereabouts Damien did not have, Lucifer chained him in the deepest darkest part of his dungeons where only the vilest of creatures lived. There the torment lasted for another six hundred years until one day the power to hide himself from others suddenly returned.

As his strength began to return in bits and pieces, Damien was afraid the spell cast to hide his sister was weakening. If so, that would mean she would be alone and vulnerable to attack from others, not understanding who she was or why they wanted her.

Knowing she was not in hell, once Damien escaped he began to look in the other realms, desperate to find her before their enemies did, before their father. The last place he suspected he would find her was in their home realm, the most dangerous place for either of them.

Fighting his father, the injuries Lucifer had inflicted on him, and the power it had taken to escape the Hell realm to get to this ledge had taken its toll. What he wanted to do was pass out, but first he needed to find Sapphira. She was here, somewhere in these mountains. He just could not pinpoint where. So he had called out to her. Unfortunately, she was not the only one who had heard his call. Something large and powerful lived in these mountains, had it had been sleeping. Now that it was awake, it was hungry and pissed.

Once again he tried to at least sit up, but that was not happening. Broken ribs, one broken wing, and a deep gash in his stomach where his father had buried his sword into him, barely missing vital organs, was still bleeding. It was amazing he had made it this far.

A loud roar bounced off the mountains and off his skull. Shit! The mystery of what lived in the mountains was solved, and it was the last thing Damien needed. What any of them needed. Now he had no choice but to move. Find somewhere not so out in the open.

By the time he managed to push himself to his feet the world was spinning and he was drenched in sweat. Leaning back against the rock, he hissed in pain when he jarred his wing. Shit that hurt! Eyes closed he tried to breathe through the pain. A shadow flicked in front of him, freezing the air in his lungs. It flew by a second time.

“Who the hell woke that thing up?” a familiar voice snapped.

Oh thank the Gods!

Damien sagged in relief, his knees collapsing out from under him. Strong arms caught him before he fell the thousand feet below.

“Easy,” another voice soothed, gently setting him back against the rock. “We’ve got you.”

Damien opened his eyes to find Talon a few feet away hovering in mid-air, sword drawn, apparently not happy to see him.

“What the hell happened to you?” he snapped.

“Nice to see you too,” Damien hissed with a fair amount of sarcasm. This only narrowed the angel’s eyes into slits. Centuries of hatred did not disappear because of one shared cause.

“We can deal with the pleasantries and bash each other’s heads in later,” Quinn growled, the expression on Talon’s face telling Damien that he would like to do far more than bash his head in. “Right now we need to get demon boy back to the compound. Can he fly?” This question was directed to Adalrik who was examining his wing. Loghan was the one keeping him from falling off the ledge.

“No. His wing is broken and he’s lost a lot of blood. I’m surprised he made it this far,” Adalrik answered with a note of respect in his voice.

“I’ve had better flights,” Damien hissed through gritted teeth as Adalrik turned his attention to the wound in his gut.

“I did not realize the son of Lucifer had wings,” Talon commented, his tone suspicious.

Damien looked up at him to see his expression matched the tone. Talon did not like surprises. Especially deadly ones. Well, the warrior was in for a whole shitload of disappointment, because once Damien found his sister the surprises were not going to stop.

“There is a lot you do not know about…us,” Damien said carefully.

Talon’s eyes narrowed again and he looked as if he was about to say something when another earsplitting roar vibrated down their spines, turning everyone’s eyes to the skies.

Winging its way around the side of the mountain, enormous in length and wing span, was a dragon. Its red scales gleaming in the sunlight, the dragon roared again as it saw food sitting precariously on a ledge and floating in the air. With another roar that showed its razor sharp teeth, it angled its wings and dove for them.

“Mother of all that is unholy,” Quinn whispered.

“MOVE!” Talon roared.

Adalrik on one side and Loghan on the other, they pulled Damien from the ledge and down the side of the mountain just as the dragon snapped his massive jaws where Talon and Quinn had been hovering only a few seconds before.

“How in creation do we fight that?!” Quinn yelled as they darted in and out between craggy tops of mountains and hills.

“We don’t,” Talon yelled back. “We need a distraction. Without his wings, Damien is no help maneuvering, and his blood is drawing the dragon to us. If we bring this thing home….” He did not have to finish that sentence. Everyone knew how much destruction and chaos a dragon could create.

Unfortunately for Quinn, he was the only one besides Talon free at the moment. That meant they were the bait. “I hate lizards,” he muttered angrily.

But before they could turn the dragon suddenly veered away.

“Not that I’m complaining, but where is it going?” Loghan asked as they came to a halt in mid-air.

“Sapphira,” Damien yelled hoarsely.

Talon looked at Damien, unsure if he had heard right. Nope. The fear in Damien’s eyes told him he had heard just fine.

“She called it,” Damien explained.

“How…? Nevermind,” Talon growled in disgust. No, he did not like surprises. And a girl who could summon a dragon was one of them. “Quinn!” he barked. “Make sure they get back to the monastery in one piece.”

Quinn nodded he understood and moved closer to the three struggling to stay in the air.

“Where are you going?” Adalrik called out.

“To save one little girl’s life so I can kill her,” Talon grumbled. Then he was gone, flying as fast as he could towards the compound.

“What is he talking about?” Quinn asked as they followed at a much slower pace.

“Sapphira can call any creature to her, including the forgotten ones,” Damien explained grimacing as pain lanced through him.

“Nice,” Quinn smiled with more than a little awe. “I haven’t heard of that power in a long time, and only to those of us higher up on the power grid.” The look he gave Damien was calculating. “So the lassie can call dragons. I guess the next question is, can she control them?”

“We’ll find out,” Damien muttered as his eyes turned towards where the dragon had disappeared. Once upon a time Sapphira could control the beasts, but that was a long time ago. Without him there, with their powers not fully returned, it was anyone’s guess what she could and could not do. He just prayed that if that power had not completely returned to her, Talon was not too late.

Chapter 14
Chapter 16

Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes

Forever Lost – Chapter 14

Chapter 14

When Gideon’s scream of anguish and pain filled the ancient monastery’s walls, sending the birds that roosted in the crevices into the skies, Sapphira turned and headed back for the door. Only Talon moving into her way stopped her.

“He needs time alone,” Talon explained gently when she glared up at him. “Please, give it to him.”

The silence that followed was deafening. They stood that way until they heard the shower turn on. Talon eyes sad but patient, Sapphira’s angry and full of guilt. It was her fault they had been dragged into the hell realm, her fault Gideon was tortured by her father, her fault he lost his wings. And to make matters worse they had no idea where her brother was.

Ever since they emerged from the tunnel she and Damien had built when they were young to traverse between realms, her memories started to return to her bit by bit. Starting with her brother on his knees in excruciating pain as the spell those trying to protect her wove around them, tearing them apart. Her pain was no less and mercifully she passed out before it killed her, but it was necessary to keep Damien and the universe safe. At least that was what she kept trying to tell herself.

The lives she had lived between then and now were a hazy blur. Some were full of love and family, some painful, some short. Lifetimes in the earth realm away from her mother and brother, but never alone. Gideon was always there, keeping her safe.

Helping her through all the hard times, the pain of her many lives. Always there at her lowest to pick her up, hold her, comforted her, and now she wanted to help take his pain away as he had helped her.

Secrets were unraveling, truths told and sacrifices that could not be foreseen made. Gideon was her guardian, but he was not alone in keeping his charge safe. As Sapphira stared up at Talon’s determined expression, she knew what she would have to do to keep these men who had kept her safe all these centuries alive, what she needed to do to keep her brother alive, and it frightened her.

Talon must have seen something in her eyes because he took a step forward, his eyes widening slightly in trepidation.

“Don’t,” he pleaded softly. “It will not help.”

“How do you know?” she asked sadly. “Everything that has happened is because of me. I don’t even know where my brother is or if he is alive.”

“Giving yourself over to those looking for you will not help him or Gideon.”

“Again, how do you know that? If it’s me they want, that is what I should give them. Then everyone I love will be safe.”

“Or the end of life as we know it will begin.” Talon started reaching for her then hesitated. The only one brave enough to touch her since the spell was broken had been Quinn, and that was only because his special power was that he made all other powers null and void when he touched the person wielding them. Sapphira did not care. The only ones she wanted touching her were Damien or Gideon. “If you leave Gideon will only come after you, and he is in no condition to even leave his bed. That means he will send me and I need some rest. So please, don’t leave the monastery. If not for us, then for your brother. He expects us to keep you safe, and I for one do not want to deal with his temper tantrum when he realizes you are gone.”

A sudden dawning filled Sapphira. Relaxing her stance, she crossed her arms as she smirked at him. “You’re afraid of him.”

“No, I’m not,” Talon sighed patiently, telling Sapphira that the thought of the warrior being afraid of anything was ludicrous. His body language said otherwise. “I only know that if someone allowed my sister to rush into a situation that was incredibly dangerous and stupid, I would be hard press not to gut the idiot. Personally, I prefer my innards on the inside.”

“I see,” she smirked. Talon’s patient expression turned into a scowl.

“What I am afraid of is of no consequence,” he snapped. “If I have to lock you in the dungeon I will. You are not leaving and that is the end of it.”

Sapphira opened her mouth to argue when Loghan rounded the corner.

“Did I hear Talon say he wasn’t afraid of anything?” he asked in a tone that spoke of trouble in the making. Keeping Sapphira in-between him and Talon, Loghan continued on what Sapphira surmised would be his last words. “Spiders,” he whispered loudly in her ear as he grinned at Talon. “Can’t stand the sight of them. Screams like a little girl.”

Sapphira choked back a laugh as Loghan’s eyes went wide and his hands flapped in the air as he imitated a little girl screaming and dancing in fright. Talon’s growl of certain death only made Loghan up his antics, which ended when Talon lunged for him and Loghan had to hide behind Sapphira.

“You’ve always had a death wish, little brother,” Aitan’s voice thick with weariness rumbled. It gave Sapphira the impression he had pulled these two apart more than once, and really had no inclination to do so today. “Save it for the demons. We have a visitor,” he added looking at Sapphira.

“No one knows we are here,” Talon said his anger forgotten. Even Loghan became serious.

“Evidently she does,” Aitan corrected calmly. The reaction to the word she was anything but calm.

“What does she want,” Talon snarled starting down the hallway. Sapphira’s hand was on the doorknob to Gideon’s room when he did an abrupt about face and took a hold of her arm pulling her down the hall with him. “I don’t think so,” he muttered.

“I think she would be safer in Gideon’s room than with her,” Loghan suggested as he and Aitan fell in behind them.

“Who is Her?” Sapphira asked as she tried to keep up with Talon’s long legs. She was by no means short at five foot nine, but he was far above six foot and a lot of that was leg.

“Someone I am sure you will enjoy meeting. I know we all enjoy her company,” Loghan sarcastic tone telling Sapphira this was as far from the truth as he could get.

“I don’t understand…,” Sapphira began just as they entered what she had been told was the reception room.

The room was not very big and sparsely decorated. It was designed to impress with its tapestries from the dark ages that depicted angels and demons fighting in fire and blood, ornate furnishings that consisted of a side table with an oriental vase from a culture that Sapphira had never seen before. A few knick-knacks just as old and expensive finished the impressing, while at the same time two very uncomfortable ornate chairs told visitors they were not welcomed.

During the last few days as she explored the monastery out of boredom. The beauty she had found in this place lost high in the mountains had stunned her, but it was nothing compared to who stood in the middle of the room decidedly unhappy to be there.

Draped in a black cape, long black hair cascading down her back was her mother’s handmaiden, Ayame. Sky blue eyes flashed angrily as they took in Talon’s hand around Sapphira’s arm. The room’s temperature took a steep drop as those cold eyes moved up to Talon’s. This was not the small obedient servant who stood behind her mother wherever she went, waiting on for her every word, her confidant, her best-friend who gave up everything to be with her. This woman commanded attention and radiated power that rivaled the angel’s around her. Well, some of them.

“Get your filthy hands off the princess,” Ayame snarled walking towards them. Sapphira had never seen the petite woman angry before and was so in shock that she could not find her voice to tell Ayame that she was in no danger.

“Watch your tongue, witch,” Talon growled pulling Sapphira behind him. Loghan and Aitan spread out on either side, effectively blocking her from Ayame’s site. “Sara is under our protection and I will not tolerate you barging in here issuing orders like you own the place.”

“Since you can’t seem to do your job properly, Princess Sapphira,” emphasizing the different name, “is no longer under your so called protection,” Ayame snapped. “I have been ordered to hide her somewhere the others cannot find her. Somewhere safe from the likes of you.”

“Over my dead body,” Talon growled moving so he towered over the woman, his wings flaring behind him.

“I can arrange that,” Ayame hissed glaring up at him.

As much as Sapphira admired the woman’s fearlessness – or stupidity, depending on how you looked at it – she had no patience for this.

“Enough!” Sapphira snapped pushing her way between Loghan and Aitan. When they did not budge, she put her hands on her hips and stamped her foot in frustration. It shocked her because it was something she had never done before. Little princess temper tantrums were not tolerated in her house growing up, and to be honest she thought the act beneath her. Those demons and a few of the newly fallen that would whine and wheedle to get what they wanted always nauseated her, and she vowed she would never stoop to that level.

Sapphira frowned as a flash of one of her human lives showed her a little girl who was spoiled and apparently used those same tactics with a fine art to get what she wanted.

Apparently she had. Ugh.

Glowering at the look of surprise mixed with amusement Loghan was giving her, she growled. “Move!” putting power behind those words. Whether it was her power or the shock that she had any that moved the two mountains in front of her, she did not care. Only that they moved out of her way, their eyes wide with surprise. Really! She had lived for thousands of years, even if she did not remember most of them, yet, and was powerful in her own right…well her power was returning slowly but it was there. So she could damn well take care of herself.

As she passed them on her way to stand next to Talon, she realized she had touched them and nothing had happened. Good to know.

“What are you doing here Ayame?” she asked glaring at Talon before turning her attention back to the handmaiden. “Better yet, how did you get here? You are human and therefore trapped in my father’s realm.”

“Hush child,” Ayame admonished moving to touch her as she glanced at the others as if they were not to be trusted. Talon moved so he was in-between them yet not. It brought Ayame up short.

“Close enough,” Talon warned.

Ayame huffed, straightening her elbow length pristine white gloves while she attempted to reign in her anger. Managing a weak smile, she turned to Sapphira, clearly ignoring the large angel looming over her. Something about her demeanor made Sapphira’s skin crawl.

“You’re mother sent me to make sure you were safe. These idiots,” she said in disgust waving at the angels who bristled, “can no longer be trusted and your guardian is incapacitated.”

“My mother doesn’t have the power to send you anywhere,” Sapphira’s suspicion growing. “And it still does not explain how, as a human, you could leave my father’s realm.”

“This…woman is no more human than I am,” Aitan deep voice rumbled with disgust.

“What does that mean?” Sapphira asked looking back at him.

“It doesn’t matter what he is babbling about,” Ayame snapped bringing Sapphira’s attention back to her. “There are powers at work who are trying to find her. Power that none of you could stand against. I am to take Princess Sapphira to a place that is detectable only by those who know it exist, which is none of you. She will be safe there until she regains her powers and can protect herself. Now come, child. We must hurry.”

“Like hell she will,” Talon snapped. “For the last thousand years you have been plaguing us with unfounded accusations and threatening to take Sapphira to this hidden place.”

“It seems my accusations were not so unfounded. Gideon cannot properly protect the princess if he is in love with her,” Ayame hissed.

“It’s because he loves her that she is still alive. If he did not care she would have been dead a long time ago. Orders only go so far, and the demons that have sought Sapphira are formidable.”

“Yet they still were able to reach her,” Ayame sniffed. “Love blinds those foolish enough to fall into its deadly clutches. As proven by the fact the princess ended up in the last place she needed to be and the spell protecting her was broken.”

“If your informant had not led Gideon on some wild goose chase he would have been there,” Talon snarled.

“At the time she was taken you were the one protecting her. So don’t blame that one on the guardian,” Ayame growled mockingly. “Maybe you are in love with her too. Men have always been fools for a pretty face.”

“You might want to step back,” Loghan whispered, his sudden nearness making Sapphira jump. “I’ve seen these two go at it. It isn’t pretty.”

As Loghan pulled her a few steps away, a memory surfaced that puzzled Sapphira. A part of the spell that would have made it difficult if not impossible for Ayame to find her, yet Talon said the handmaiden had known of her whereabouts since the beginning.

“The ugliness within usually ends up leaking out onto the surface, as you should well know, witch,” Talon sneered. “Jealousy is always ugly.”

“I am not jealous!” Ayame snapped indignantly. “And what are you talking about? I sent no informant.”

It was the look Ayame shot Sapphira – one that seemed wild, desperate, panicked – as she stepped away that brought a frown to Loghan’s face as he once again moved in front of Sapphira. This time Sapphira did not protest. Something was not right. The quick change of subject was proof enough Ayame was hiding something.

“What do you mean you did not send him?” Aitan ask his deep voice effectively stopping the argument.

“I did not send anyone,” Ayame repeated her anger replacing the panic.

“Then who did?” a voice asked behind them.

They turned as one to see Gideon standing in the doorway looking pale. Immediately Sapphira went to him.

“Are you sure you should be up?” she asked searching his face for any sign of the pain she knew he had to be in.

Taking her hand in his and bringing it to his lips, he smiled. “As long as you are safe I am fine,” he answered softly, touching her cheek with the fingertips of his other hand. The smile Sapphira awarded him went a long way to healing his broken spirit. Yet a part of him wondered if she would still love him once the fact he was only half an angel finally sank in.

“As long as she is here, she is far from safe,” Ayame snapped.

They turned to see Ayame was trying to push her way through Loghan and Talon and failing miserably. Finally she gave up.

“If I can find you, then who knows who else is lurking in the shadows waiting for you idiots to make another mistake?”

Lacing his fingers with Sapphira’s, Gideon moved further into the room, his eyes on the handmaiden. “That is a good point. How did you find us? Our other dwellings I understand, but only a chosen few know about this place and it is heavily Warded against humans and the paranormal alike,” his eyes narrowing in suspicion.

“You cannot hide the power she holds,” Ayame proclaimed with an authority that did not reach her eyes. In fact she looked very nervous as the others parted to allow Gideon and Sapphira through and she backed away from them. “Only I can…,” she hit the wall stopping her words abruptly.

“Only you can what?” Gideon asked calmly. His eyes and posture were anything but calm. This witch they had barely tolerated and trusted even less was not telling them something important.

A feeling, one that was as familiar as the feel of her own hidden wings, flitted through Sapphira. It was the only way she could describe it. One moment it was there, strong, comforting, then the next it was gone leaving her cold.

“Damien,” she whispered, her hand going to her throat. Mentally searching she found him again, and again he slipped through her fingers. He was close by but he was hurt. Badly.

Gideon did not like how pale Sapphira had become. “What’s wrong?” he asked turning to her.

“Damien, he’s hurt,” she breathed looking up at him. “He’s,” she frowned in concentration. “He’s close by.” She looked up at the ceiling. “In the mountains. He’s looking for me and he can’t find me.”

The way Sapphira said Damien’s name, as if he were one of the most important people in her life, left Gideon with a cold dread. There was so much about her that he did not know. Who she was? Why she was hidden? If she had any past loves. Was Damien a lover from that past, from her life before she became human? Was he looking for her because he wanted to reclaim her? Were they mated? That thought had Gideon dropping Sapphira’s hand. If that were so, then she would be lost to him forever.

So much unknown, so much to lose.

It was brought home with clarity that fractured his heart into pieces why guardians were forbidden to fall in love with their charges. Because they were not theirs to have, and to lose her would destroy something inside of him. Especially to one he considered his enemy.

Ignoring her look of confusion at his sudden withdrawal, he turned to Talon. If Damien was this important to her, then he would help find him. “Go with her into the mountains. Take Loghan and Adalrik with you. If Damien is injured, you may need them. Help Damien in any way you can and bring him here,” Gideon ordered not looking at Sapphira. If he did, he would lose his resolve to let her go.

“What about the witch?” Talon asked, clearly not happy to be leaving his commander injured and unarmed with Ayame.

“We will take care of her,” Aitan assured pulling his sword and taking a step towards Ayame who cowered back.

“Gideon.” Sapphira put her hand on his arm, moving so she could catch his eye. She did not like his sudden withdrawal and wanted to assure him she did not feel any differently towards him. When he finally looked at her, the pain in his eyes hurt her heart. “It’s not what you think,” she said quietly.

“We’ll talk about this later,” he smiled. It did not reach his eyes. “Go. Find Damien.” With a supreme amount of effort, instead of kissing her lips as he wanted to, he kissed her forehead and let her go.

Opening her mouth to say something, Sapphire suddenly decided against it. Turning she walked away, Talon and Loghan in tow.

“You let her walk out of this monastery, you allow her to find that demon and you will lose her, angel” Ayame sneered.

If it was what Sapphira wanted, if Damien was the one who made her happy, then he would so be it. Although, until he knew for sure, and even after that, he would not stop protecting her. Turning to Ayame his eyes narrowed.

“We have a special place for creatures like you, Ayame. So until you are ready to tell us the real reason you are here, plan on staying for a while,” the threat clear in his voice.

“I am handmaiden to the beloved wife of Lucifer. If I am missing for too long, he will send others to find me. You cannot keep me hidden forever,” Ayame sneered.

“You’d be surprise what I can do,” Gideon smiled. It was a cold evil smile that promised unpleasant things, and it drained the color from Ayame’s face. Gideon’s smile widen because they both knew that she had every reason to be afraid. Very afraid.

Chapter 13
Chapter 15

Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes

Forever Lost – Chapter 13

 

Chapter 13

The first thing Gideon noticed as he came back into himself was he was laying on his stomach on something soft. That was different. The last thing he remembered was Lucifer with his hand in his chest squeezing his heart, trying to get information of where Sara was hiding. But he called her something different. Sapphira. Now that Gideon was not in so much pain and he did not have the Fallen One snarling in his face, that name tickled something in the back of his memory. Something from a long time ago that he had heard regarding Lucifer. The memory slipped away as quickly as it came, leaving Gideon even more confused.

Time to ponder on that puzzle later. Whatever had pulled Lucifer away had to be important. It did not mean the bastard would not return to finish what he started. He seemed desperate to find Sara. But why? With the exception of Sachi, after his fall mortals no longer held any interest for Lucifer.

Opening his eyes, Gideon realized he was no longer in the cell, but his room in his house on a planet in the mortal realm far from Earth. Well, it was more of a series of rooms built high in the side of a mountain. Far from crude, each room was comfortably decorated and kept warm by fire places. Electricity brought from generators gave them lights, modern Earth conveniences like a state of the art kitchen, hot water for showers, TV, game room, and electronic surveillance system. Things not found on the primitive planet that he kept this safe haven. Primitive by earth’s standards.

What this planet did have was magic. When he had found the monastery, he had a local spell caster put Wards around it to hide it from prying eyes. However, Wards did not keep everything out and sooner or later they failed. Along the outside wall of the mountain were stone paths with half walls built to keep the wingless visitors from falling, not that they had many, and a thatched roof overhead to keep them dry. If someone was to look up and see past the Wards they would think it an old abandoned monastery and that was what Gideon wanted. He knew he could not hide from the powers to be for long, no one could. But he could buy some time to figure out why Sara was so important to them.

A small sound beside him brought to his attention that he was not alone. Carefully turning his head, his back burning for some reason, he looked into the face of a sleeping angel. Sara lay on top of the blankets on her side facing him, curled around her pillow. She was here, she was safe. Relief flooded his body, taking away some of the aches and pains of his wounds. Smiling, he reached out and gently touched her face with his fingertips as he had done so many nights before. Only this time she felt him.

Without moving, those beautiful deep chocolate eyes fluttered open and a smile slowly spread across her lips as she focused on him.

“You’re awake,” she said quietly.

“And you’re safe,” he smiled back. When her smile faltered and her eyes dimmed into something haunting, he frowned. “What is it?”

“I will never be safe,” she whispered.

Taking his hand in hers, she brought it to her lips and gently placed a kiss on his fingers. That one small touch sent a shiver through Gideon’s body that he knew all too well. One he had been fighting for the last thousand years every time she became of age. Her voice brought him back from the forbidden thoughts he should not have for his charge.

“And as long as I am here neither will you.”

“What does that mean?” he asked dread replacing the warm fuzzy feeling.

“I can’t stay, Gideon. I can’t place you in danger while you are so weak. I have to leave so….”

“No!” Gideon cried angrily trying to roll over so he could stand. Pain so intense it sucked the air from his lungs shot through his back and chest.

“Gideon!” Sapphira cried reaching for him.

The door crashed open and Talon was suddenly filling the opening.

“What is going on?” he demanded.

“He tried to get up?” Sapphira explained as she moved to her knees on the bed, took Gideon’s arm and gently tried to move him back to his stomach. Talon was there in an instant helping her.

“You need to stay still,” he said gently. Once Gideon was back on his stomach, Talon pulled up a chair and sat down, his elbows on his knees so his face was closer to Gideon’s line of sight.

“What is wrong with my back?’ Gideon gasped. Before Talon could respond, a movement on the other side of him alerted Gideon that Sara was leaving the bed. With lightning speed that shot pain through his back once again, he grabbed her hand stopping her. Something deep inside him told him if she walked out of his room she would not be walking back in, and he could not have that. Turning his head so he could see her, he whispered, “Don’t leave.”

She smiled at him, but it was a smile that did not reach her eyes. Glancing up at Talon, she moved so she once again lay next to Gideon, her hand still firmly in his. “I’m not going anywhere,” she assured, the not yet implied.

What had happened while he was unconscious?

Turning back to Talon, the movement sending a fresh wave of pain through him, he asked hoarsely, “What happened after I left you?”

Talon gave Gideon the summary of the events that happen up until they parted with Michel, Loghan and Damien. At the mention of Damien’s name Gideon’s hand tightened around Sara’s. Unlike the others, he knew Damien’s secret. The son of Lucifer, something that should have been impossible. And there was something else. Something important, but the harder he tried to grasp a hold of the memory the quicker it slipped away.

Those of the higher realms had been trying to capture Damien for centuries. He would appear in the mortal realm to start some sort of chaos, and he was not subtle about it. It was as if he were looking for a fight, and when the angels sent to stop him found him, the blood bath was gruesome.

Finally Gideon and his command were sent in to eradicate the menace, but Damien had always managed to slip their grasp. When they did meet face to face it was never pleasant, and Damien would leave behind more destruction than Gideon cared to remember.

Then, suddenly, a little over a thousand years ago, he disappeared. No one knew to where or why, but when Damien was spotted a hundred years ago he was said to be looking for something. Something important to him. There were also reports that something was different. Instead of creating trouble, he went out of his way to avoid it, and that was not like him. What had changed was a mystery, but Gideon knew that did not make him any less dangerous.

The fact he had been with Sara, alone, sent a chill through Gideon. The thought of what Damien could have done to her….

A look passed between Talon and Sara that told Gideon there was something they were not telling him. Something he would not like. Sara started to slip her hand from his. At first he tightened his grip, afraid she was leaving. Then he let her go. Keeping her where she did not want to be was wrong. If she wanted to leave she was free to go, even though that thought tore something inside him to shreds. Nothing before in his entire existence had ever caused him fear, not like the thought of losing this woman. It was…debilitating. When she made no further attempt to move, the choking fear he was unused to loosened.

“What did they tell you about Sara when you were first assigned to her?” Talon asked.

Gideon thought back. “Not much. Just that she was important and needed to be watched carefully. When I realized demons were hunting her, I asked more questions but they would never give me an answer that was satisfying. There always seemed to be something left out. Why?”

Again the look. This time Gideon turned his head so he could see Sara. The haunted look was back in her eyes. And something else. Something he could not quite put his finger on. She was…different. Even though she was lying on the bed seemingly at ease, there was an air around her, a self-awareness that was not there before. There was also knowledge. Knowledge that gave her more confidence while at the same time frightened her.

Having enough of the tip-toeing around whatever was bothering them, Gideon pushed himself up.

“Gideon, don’t!” Talon ordered moving to stop him.

One look from him and Talon backed off. Sara did not even try to stop him. Instead, as he moved to sit on the side of the bed, she slid off her side and came around to the end, keeping her distance, her eyes wary.

“What the hell is wrong with you two? I’ve been through worse,” he snapped. Slowly and carefully he stretched his muscles, the burning sharp pain in his back once again sucking the air from his lungs. He started to flex his wings…and froze.

The memories of what Lucifer had done to him came crashing back. The pain, the humiliations, the utter despair as he watched his beautiful wings turn into ash.

The color drained from his face. His wings were gone. An angel without his wings was a creature lost. Neither mortal, angel nor demon; the few of them that were still sane roamed the earth trying to fit into a world they did not belong. Each trying to earn back what they had lost. Those whose minds broke were either locked away or destroyed like rabid animals. But to burn an angel’s wings meant that they would never be able to earn the right to fly with their kind again. It was the ultimate punishment, one rarely dealt and one Gideon had not earned.

“Gideon,” Talon started his voice full of worry and what Gideon know knew was pity.

“Get out,” Gideon whispered.

They hesitated for only a moment then both started for the door. Gideon did not look up. He did not want to see that look pass between them again. That look of pity.

Once he heard the door quietly click shut he let his rampaging emotions loose. Pain, anger, fear, desperation. All of them converged into one long endless scream. When he was through screaming himself hoarse, he was on his hands and knees on the floor. Shaking with weakness, he pushed himself to his feet and stumbled into the bathroom. Turning on the lights he forced himself to look into the mirror.

From the front he did not look that much different. Healing scars from where Lucifer had torn through his flesh to get at his heart ran down the middle of his torso. Other, lighter scars from cuts of a blade or whip, bruising that looked days old along his rib cage and disappearing under the white linen pants that hung low on his hips told of the beatings. It was what was missing behind him that he could not tear his eyes from.

His wings. His magnificent wings. Torn from his body and turned into black ash before his eyes all because he would not reveal where Sara was. And he had known. Even though he could no longer feel her, he knew Talon would take her to the only place he felt was safe, and still Gideon did not tell.

Putting his hands on the counter he dropped his head in between his arms. How could he protect her now? When he could not fly her to safety, when he now had a huge disadvantage from those who would come for her who had wings, how could he protect her? And the pity in her eyes. She must only think him half a man now, he sure felt like one.

Even though the self-pity tried to take over, Gideon knew he would not change what he had done. Sara’s safety was his one and only priority. He would sacrifice a lot more if it meant she stayed out of the hands of those who would hurt her.

Carefully standing straight, he dropped his pants and headed for the shower. He needed to wash the filth of Lucifer’s realm off him. Giving the water a moment to warm, he gingerly stepped inside, hissing when the water made contact with the open wounds on his back. While normally wounds healed quickly, these would heal human slow, and he would have the same phantom feelings one did when they lost a limb. As the nerve endings became numb and the pain receded into a dull ache, once again his emotions took over.

Hands on the tile before him, Gideon slowly slid to his knees, the anguish of his loss engulfing him as his tears disappeared into the fall of the water around him.

Chapter 12
Chapter 14

Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes

 

Forever Lost- Chapter 12

Chapter 12

Damien knew exactly when his father arrived in the room. It was not hard to miss his overwhelming presence, although the sound of flames flaring and the sudden quiet that followed was a giveaway too. Lucifer always did like an entrance. Unfortunately the quiet did not last long.

“You dare call me like some peasant?” Lucifer snarled

Damien looked dispassionately at his father. To show any other emotion in the mood Lucifer was in would only end badly. As it was, his father was in a rage Damien had only seen a few times in his existence, and the creature it was aimed at rarely lived long. Being his son had never saved him from his father’s wrath. No, the only one immune was his mother. Although, now Damien was not even sure she was safe. Sara…Sapphira was a special case.

“Hello, Father,” he greeted quietly from where he stood in front of the dais. “Glad to see you too.”

An instant later Damien was airborne, crashing into the black obsidian throne with such force the massive chair toppled over. Groaning, Damian tried to get to his feet before his father could hit him again, but he was too dazed and soon found himself once again airborne, this time slamming into the wall in the back of the room. With a resounding crash, he landed on the table that stood against it full of gold and silver vases, breaking them into pieces as he crashed through to the floor.

“Do not be insolent with me, boy! I am in no mood for it,” Lucifer growled stalking around the toppled throne towards his son.

Shifting carefully, noting the broken ribs with a grimace, Damien glared at his father in his full glory. Black leather vest that showed his well-muscled chest and arms, tight black leather pants tucked into the same color boots that reached up his calves. Enormous glossy feathered black wings flared out behind him as his eyes flashed with fire, his power radiating around him, stirring his hair and feathers. Yes, Lucifer was beyond pissed and far into furious. If it had not been for the pain Damien might have been frightened, but he had seen it all before and he was very well acquainted with what would come next. The moment he betrayed his father by hiding Sapphira, the small amount of clemency Damien had by being his son vanished.

“Where is she? And don’t lie to me by telling me you do not know!” he snapped as he reached down and grabbed Damien by the neck, hauled him to his feet and slammed him once more against the wall, his feet far from the ground. Strangulation would not kill him, but it was very uncomfortable.

“I don’t know where she is,” Damien choked, his hands pulling on his father’s wrist, unable to get a good grip because they were covered with something slippery and slightly tacky. Blood, and Damien could guess at whose. “She is out of this realm so I cannot sense her, and even if I could I would not tell you.”

With a howl of rage Lucifer launched Damien into the center of the room. Damien landed hard on the stone floor, rolling to the middle of the room to stop on his side coughing and gasping as he tried to open his airway and breathe around the pain in his chest.

“You lie!” Lucifer roared.

Damien was barely able to roll out of the way before his father landed right where he had been laying, the rock under his feet cracking from the force. Struggling to his feet, one arm carefully wrapped around the broken ribs that were slowly knitting themselves back together, Damien backed away as Lucifer advanced.

“If you cannot sense her, how in the hell am I supposed to?” Damien snapped. “You’ve reminded me enough times of how weak I am. How worthless.”

“Because you are worthless. Hiding behind your mother’s skirts when you were young, and when you outgrew her you hid behind Sapphira. Always following her around like a lost puppy, claiming you were keeping her safe from those that would harm her. You who would never pick up a weapon, afraid of sullying yourself with the blood of others. You were a disgrace! You would not even defend yourself when I punished you!”

Those punishments were a result of his father’s frequent rages that needed an outlet. Usually there was some unfortunate demon nearby that would bear the brunt of his fury, but more often than not it would be him or Sapphira who were the closest. Fiercely protective of his sister, Damien would step in between them, purposely catching his father’s eye, and his fists. Afraid if he fought back, if he showed any form of the strength he held inside, Lucifer would turn towards Sapphira who was an easier target, Damien would be left broken and bloody on the floor, barely able to move or breathe. Even though it meant he looked weak in his father’s eyes, he would endure the humiliation again if it meant Sapphira was safe. Today was no different.

“And if you did not have me to beat, who would you have turned on? Sapphira? Mother?” Damien asked quietly.

That stopped his father.

“I would never hurt your mother,” he whispered. Fear was not something you would think to see in the Fallen One, but the thought of losing his beloved Sachi was at times debilitating. If Lucifer had one weakness, it was his wife. It was why she was kept locked safely in the castle where those that would use her to overthrow him could not reach her.

“When you were in one of your rages, you didn’t care who it was standing in front of you. As long as you bathed in someone’s blood you were appeased,” Damien reminded bitterly. “Better mine than theirs.”

With a wave of Lucifer’s hand, Damien once again was airborne, flying sideways onto long wooden table laden with plates of food, vases full of his mother’s favorite flowers, and bowls of fruit. When he landed on the other side, the glass cutting into his skin as the gold and silver clattered to the floor around him, he stayed where he was. The memory of his father’s power and the pain behind it was never far away. He was not relishing reliving it.

Gritting his teeth, Damien slowly rolled over onto his back, praying the angels had found Gideon and were on their way out of this realm, because he was not going to take much more of this. For the first time in over a hundred years he felt strong enough to fight back, and for once he could.

“Enough talk. You have a connection to your sister that I do not,” Lucifer snarled as he stalked around the end of the table. Damian quickly pushed himself to his feet, but he did not back away. He stood his ground. “Don’t,” Lucifer warned when Damien opened his mouth to deny his father’s statement. “I know the spell is broken. I know your bond is reconnecting, that I can feel. So don’t tell me you can no longer sense her. Now. Where. Is. She!” he repeated through gritted teeth, his face in Damien’s.

“Somewhere you cannot reach her,” Damien answered evenly.

Lucifer started to retaliate, but Damien acted first. This time it was Lucifer who flew through the air, crashing against the far wall. It would be the first and last time Damien knew he would be able to catch his father off guard, and because of his injures he was not up to full strength. Something he could not let his father know.

Nephilim. The children of angels and humans. Creatures of great strength and beauty, yet they held no real power and could not fly like their angel parent. It was one of the things his father used to use against him. However, there was one secret that he and his sister had kept from him and everyone around them.

Being the oldest, Sapphira had developed her power and wings first. So surprised they had not thought to hide it from their father. She was a first of their kind, and it was what alerted Lucifer to the fact that she may be the one prophesized a millennia ago when he and his kind were cast out of heaven. The one who would free them from their prison.

Because of Lucifer’s obsession with Sapphira, Sachi had wisely decided to keep quiet when Damien’s power and wings had begun to develop. Years of abuse could have been avoided if he had only shown he was not weak, but his powers had grown stronger than his father’s and Sachi was afraid that Lucifer would fear that power and destroy her son and thus destroying the very fabric of the universe.

The time for secrets was over.

Appearing out of mist, a sword, long and broad, its handle carved with intertwining runes that spelled his and Sapphira’s names curved around Damien’s hand as he gripped the long pummel. Runes of power and battle graced the blade. Keeping the sword to the side, he calmly walked to stand in front of his father. Lucifer was down on one knee, fists resting on the floor, head bowed, wings spread out to each side trying to catch his equilibrium. Damien could feel the rage radiating off his father and knew he was trying to quell the urge to kill him because he needed answers. Dead Damien could not give them to him. His wings flaring wide behind him, Lucifer raised his eyes full of anger and hate, his own sword materializing in his hand. When he saw his son, his rage turned to shock and Damien knew he had his father’s full attention.

Stretched out behind him, a wing span as large as his father’s, were silver wings. The air moved his hair and feathers, not unlike his father’s had only a few moments ago, as his power pulsed around him. The creature that stood before the Fallen One was not Nephilim nor angel, but something quite different.

“How?” Lucifer breathed, his voice filled with shock as he slowly stood.

“It was easy when all you cared about was the chosen one,” Damien answered bitterly, raising his sword point to his father’s chest. “When you were so focused on Sapphira and her powers and what it meant to you that the son you bore, her twin, was no more than a bug you stepped on when it suited you, it was easy to hide what I had become. But I am not going to hide who I am any longer, Father. Just as I am not going to suffer your abuse.”

“You cannot leave here,” he scoffed. “None of us can.”

“None of the Fallen can leave. Unlike you, I am not fallen and neither is Sapphira. We are from all realms – heaven, earth, hell, and many more you have no idea exist. So we are free to traverse each one freely. The prophecy states a single power will unleash the End of Days. Sapphira and I are two halves of the same whole. Together we are one, and I will not allow you or anyone else use us in some twisted game of power. All we want, all we have ever wanted was to be is left alone.” He took a step forward, his voice low and dangerous. “I am only going to tell you this once. Do not search for us. Do not attempt to use mother to lure us back. Leave us in peace and we will leave you in peace.”

“Do you think they will allow you to live in peace?” Lucifer scoffed. “Every god and goddess in every pantheon will be hunting for you. You cannot defeat them all. One way or another you and your sister will have to serve your fate. You will release the apocalypse.”

“We have managed to avoid it this long. I think we can manage to avoid it a few centuries longer,” Damien said.

“If you think I am going to allow you to simply walk out of my kingdom, you are mistaken,” Lucifer sneered with an evil smile, bringing his own sword level with Damien’s.

“I think you will find I am not so easily defeated, Father,” Damien countered with a wicked smile of his own.

“We shall see,” Lucifer sneered.

With a lunge, the sounds of swords clashing filled the air and castle as father and son fought to defeat the other. Flashes of fire and lightening singed the floors, walls and ceilings, narrowly missing skin and feathers.

From the shadows a pair of dark blue eyes watched and waited with worry as the two most important men in her life battled for dominance. Both equally matched in power and skill, neither one willing to back down. As the first metallic tang of blood filled the air, a hand rested on her shoulder. Jumping, Sachi turned to see her husband’s second in command, Elden, watching the battle with sad wary eyes. He turned those eyes to Sachi.

“Please, my lady. We mustn’t stay here,” he urged, taking Sachi’s arm and pulling her away. “Lucifer and Damien will never forgive themselves if you were hurt in the crossfire. Please. Come away.”

Knowing he was right, Sachi allowed him to lead her away from the sounds of battle. Whatever the outcome, she prayed that the sacrifices she had made to keep her children and the universe safe were not all in vain.

Chapter 11
Chapter 13

Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes

 

Suzi’s Holiday Surprise…ish

Sitting in her favorite tree Suzi leans against the bark, overlooking Heidi’s house. “No bodies home” she’s thinking. “Perfect time for setting up her epic Xmas/ New Year’s surprise!!” Sitting forward she runs her chin as she contemplates what to do… all the sudden Suzi jumps to her feet. “Got it!!” she yells, startling the bird on the next branch over. “Oops, sorry.”

Rubbing her hands gleefully she begins her plans.

Looking over the newly manicured lawn, she sees there is not enough space for what she has planned, so grabbing her wand she takes to the sky and circling the yard she systematically removes all the trees and bushes, leaving the entire property bare. “YES!!” She thought… now the fun begins!

Barely being able to hide her excitement Suzi begins to “redecorate” Heidi’s lane for the epic surprise. Wanting to do something completely different, Suzi waves her wand and BAM a volcano appears in the upper left-hand corner of the yard. Next to the volcano 2 big palm trees. Looking at the trees she decided to add coconuts, bananas and 12 monkeys. Then around the volcano and the trees she added pink sand and a large body of water. The moneys were having a wonderful time and Suzi stopped a moment to laugh at their antics.

Looking at the water she Suzi decided a water fountain in the middle would be quite nice, so with I flick of her wrist. Voilà! A big water fountain. Hmmm… that’s a big fountain. Ok… now some lighting. Oh! Tiki torches! Perfect! Again with a flick, 6 torches appear on the edge of the sand.

Looking around, Suzi was almost satisfied with her gift… but something was missing… hmmm… music!!! Thinking for a moment she added a gazebo on the lower right-hand corner of the yard and put in a oom-pa-pa band. Cool! And for an added touch Suzi added a handful of tropical birds, 3 more trees, a lion and his lioness, two adorable, rambunctious cubs, and last but not least three Yorkies.

Waiting until after the sun set, the full moon rose, the stars lit up the sky…the stage was set, almost. With a flick of her wand Suzi lit up the torches and signaled for the band to start. The trombonist hit the first note… ooooh no…

Just then Heidi drove up. Getting out of her car she stops dead in her tracks with her mouth hanging wide open. What the…!!!!

Just as Suzi was fluttering over to greet Heidi, a large shriek rent the night air, following by several more, increasing in volume. Oh lord, the birds were screeching in agitation. Rushing to see what was happening all Suzi could do was stare in silence at the utter chaos around her.

Apparently, the music startled the birds, causing the monkeys to get agitated and in their pancaked state started throwing the coconuts and bananas. One of the coconuts hit the lion and he roared angrily, causing his mate to roar in kind. The cubs thought it was great fun and started chasing the monkeys around. Not wanting to be left out, the Yorkies started yapping at full volume, and in their excitement started to pee all over the side of the house.

Dropped her wand in dismay, one of the monkeys grabbed it and imitating what he saw Suzi do, flicked the wand and caused the volcano to erupt! Just as Heidi was starting to back away, a coconut whizzed by her head, barely missing her, and went through her picture window. Another one flew by and lodged itself in the trombone, causing the band members head to almost explode.

The volcano was now shooting mile high flames and the lava was beginning to run red rivers… right… toward… the … house! Ooooh crap. Calling back her wand, the monkey who stole it looked down in his hands with dismay, let out a loud shriek of disapproval and started throwing bananas. One flew by Suzi, but unfortunately hit Heidi Square in the head.

Suzi had to laugh… the look said it all. So now the animals were running wild all over the neighborhood, the volcano was spewing fire and lava all over the place, and OMG!! The fireworks!! BOOM, Whiz! Shoom!! “Take cover!!” Suzi shouted over the loud din as she flew behind the tree.

The only thing left was the water fountain in the middle of the body of water. Taking out her wand, Suzi got ready to direct the water from the fountain towards the volcano, but a frightened bird hit Suzi’s arm as it flew bye, throwing her flick off course and causing the water to hit the broken window and filling the house with water. Well at least it won’t burn down… Suzi though… “um… I stand corrected.”

Blinking, Heidi tried to figure out why her vision was blurry and what the cacophony around her was. The last thing she remembered was pulling up to her house and feeling as if something was…out of sorts. It was a feeling she had had before, and it sent a sense of dread throughout her body. “Oh, please the power that be, no,” she muttered. Then….

As a what looked eerily like a flaming ball of fire soared over her head it all came back to her. The birds, the band, the VOLCANO! Sitting up, her head spun almost sending her back into the darkness. When the world righted, and she saw what her beautiful backyard had been turned into, she wished she had.

Monkeys were jumping from tree to tree, screaming as below lion cubs tried to catch them when they came to close to the ground. The trees that were not in were on fire. Stampeding past her was a group of four men, two of who were dragging another half-conscious man in between them, eyes wide, skin white, screaming, “Run! Get out of the way!” When she saw what was following them she understood the hurry. A massive male lion was chasing them, and behind him….

“SUZI!!!”

Sudden yapping from her left turned her attention to three Yorkies harassing a monkey. Or was the monkey harassing them? Frowning, she shook her head in confusion. What the hell was going on? Suddenly everything went still. As if someone pushed a pause button on a remote. Afraid to look, but unable to help herself, she looked towards the volcano that had suddenly become quiet. Lava still flowed down its sides, catching everything it touched on fire, but the flying boulders of fire had stopped.

“That can’t be good,” she muttered.

Scrambling to her feet, Heidi saw she wasn’t the only one staring at the deadly monstrosity in her backyard. Every animal stood stone still staring at it with wide eyes. No, not good at all. Thank the gods that the nearest neighbor was miles away. As the pressure in the air built, pressing in on her eardrums, even her skin, she frantically scanned the area for the culprit of this newest disaster

“Suzi! I know you are here,” she growled. “You need to come out here and help me clean up this mess before….” That was when she noticed her house, or what was left of it. “SUZI! Get out here NOW!!!”

Fluttering from around the only standing tree, Suzi sheepishly smiled and in the bravest voice she could muster replied. Merry Christmas and happy New Year!

“I’ll just … um… start cleaning up this mess.”

“Yes, that would be nice, but it will take the two of us,” Heidi said as calmly as she could, pulling out her wand. Looking wistfully back at the bonfire that used to be her house, she turned to the wildfire in front of her. “You remember how to make it rain, right?”

“Yes ma’am.” Taking her wand in hand, Suzi aimed toward the sky, but instead of a medium rain a deluge poured down from the sky, drenching everything and everyone in seconds

Standing in mud, completely drenched, her hair hanging heavy down her back, shoulders, and face, Heidi sighed. Reaching up, she pulled her hair back from her face so she could see. “Well, at least the fire is out.” She looked up at the volcano that was reading itself to implode. “For now. We need to stop that volcano before it blows us back to the dark ages. Any ideas?”

Creating a tornado, Suzi directed it over the water that now covered the entire yard, hoping it would collect all the water and she would then aim it into the volcano.

Well…that was the plan, but ya know what they say about the best laid plans….

The ground began to shake. The pressure grew. The animals suddenly came alive and scattered in all directions. Heidi dove out of the way of the lioness and her cubs, landing hard on the now dry dirt.

Now was her chance. Digging into her pocket, Suzi grabbed her magic dust pouch and headed for the volcano. Taking a hand full of dust, she dropped it over the volcano and poof it disappeared from sight. Not really knowing where she sent the volcano, she could only hope it was someplace uninhabited.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Heidi sits up and surveys the damage. Here and there wisps of smoke rose up into the night air. Everything as far as the eye could see in the dark was charred black. Pushing a stray strand of hair from her face the breeze blew, she realized that the sudden absence of moisture left her hair a curly frizzy mess. If only that was the mess to clean up. Looking sideways up at Suzi, who hovered just out of reach, once again looking sheepish, Heidi asked, “Anything else I should know about? Piranha in the Koi pond? Venomous snakes in my….” Heidi glanced behind her at the rubble. “Never mind.” Pushing herself to her feet with a groan, she brushed off her wrinkled slightly tighter clothes, pushed her hair into something that resembled sanity and took a deep breath, squaring her shoulders.

“This is going to take a while to clean up and put right. We better get started.”

Each taking their individual wands, Heidi and Suzi worked their way around the yard and replaced all the grass, the trees and the shrubs. Meeting at the charred remains of what used to be the house, Suzi dropped her head and in a tear strained voice said “I’m so sorry Heidi. I just wanted to make up for the lost holidays.”

Taking a look at the tiny tear streaked, ash covered little fairy, Heidi felt the anger drain out of her.

Lifting up her wand, Suzi wound up what little power she had left and in a brilliant flash of light recreated the original house. Falling out of the sky, she landed on her butt with a tiny thud.

Sitting down heavily next to her in the dirt, Heidi sighed. “I know, and I’m not mad. Nobody was seriously hurt, I think. Hey,” she nudged the fairy. “How about a bath and some dinner. I’ll order from the Thai place in town. They deliver way out here.”

Looking up at Heidi in gratitude, Suzi picked herself up and crawled into Heidi’s outstretched hand. Curling up into a little ball, she sighed in relief and closed her eyes.

Smiling, Heidi carefully got to her feet and walked into the house. In one of the guestrooms she had a specially made fairy alcove for just such an occasion. Although Suzi didn’t know about it because it was a Christmas present. After tucking her in, Heidi took a shower and went to bed, too exhausted to eat, happy to have survived the night in one piece. Tomorrow….well she would see.

Copyright © 2018 Suzanne Carey & Heidi Barnes

I hoped you enjoyed one of many antics of Suzi and her surprises. This is a fun exercise in writing where Suzanne plays Suzi the Fairy and I play myself only as a witch of sorts. Suzanne lives on the east coast and I live on the west coast. We play on Facebook messenger, and usually it’s Suzi the Fairy that starts the well intended mischief. I have other little stories that I thought I posted on this site, but as I look I see I haven’t. I’ll have to find them and put them here and add a link to them as they are written on my page A Little Bit of Fiction. There is very little editing done to these stories. Some punctuation, formatting and spelling. Everything else is as it was written. Thank you for reading. 🙂

 

Forever Lost – Chapter 11

 

Chapter 11

“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.

Not even….

“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.

“Me.”

Chapter 10
Chapter 12

Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes

Forever Lost – Chapter 10

Chapter 10

A sense of foreboding washed over Damien as he stared at the dark monstrosity that passed for a castle in the only place he knew as home. This was the last place he wanted to be. In fact, in the last hundred years he had done his best to avoid it. Now he was willingly walking into what he knew was a trap to rescue the one angel who could save humanity while at the same time destroy his existence.

Then there was…him.

It had taken almost a thousand years to escape the living hell inside that castle. Years of unending pain and suffering, and now Damien was walking right back in on his own accord. He had to be ten kinds of an idiot for doing this, but for Sapphira, Damien would walk to the deepest foulest pits of hell and back if it meant she was safe.

After what seemed like a life time of searching, Sapphira walks right into his arms without realizing who she is or how dangerous it was to be there. Never in his wildest dreams had Damien consider they would send her to earth as a human. How many lifetimes had she lived not knowing who she was? What she was. When Damien understood why he was having such a strong reaction to a human, that it was Sapphira in the last place she should be, his heart had stopped.

Hiding her from those that would use her to control the fate of the universe was the only solution he and the others could think of to keep her safe. There was one condition, though. He had to sever all ties. They might as well have asked him to rip out his soul, because that was what it felt like when they took her from him. She had been with him since the beginning of his existence, and having that presence taken from his so thoroughly had left him weak and vulnerable.

That was how the lord of this realm found him. Then the real fun began. The same fun Damien knew Gideon was enjoying right this moment. He may not like the angel, in fact he was insanely jealous of his connection to Sapphira, but Damien would never wish that kind of pain and humiliation on anyone. Not anymore.

When he had dragged himself out of his prison, Damien was a different being. All he had wanted was to be left alone, and until now he had managed it. Keeping his whereabouts from one of the most powerful beings in this realm was not easy. However, Damien did have an edge over those who had tried, and failed, in the past. One he tried not to dwell on too much. Even now, knowing made him shudder in revulsion.

A sharp and sudden pain shot through his chest, radiating outwards to his fingers and toes. Gasping, his hand clutching his shirt over his heart, Damien’s knees buckled sending him to the ground. At the same time a howl of rage shook everything around them.

“What the hell?” Logan gasped slowly uncovering his ears as he scanned the area around them, looking for the attack he knew had to be coming.

Damien tried to answer, but he could barely suck enough air into his lungs to stay conscious. There was a movement beside him and a hand rested on his shoulder.

“She’s escaped,” Michel said gently. “She’s safe.”

Damien could only nod that he had heard the angel. Although now that He knew how close Sapphira had been and what her power tasted like in this new form, safe was a relative term. They needed to find Gideon and get the hell out of here. The more of them surrounding Sapphira, the better camouflaged her power would be, and in turn the safer she would be.

Michel saw Loghan watching them, unsure of what was going on while realizing Michel and Damien were keeping something important from him.

“Why does Sara leaving Hell affect Damien?” Loghan asked.

“Long story that we have no time for,” Damien answered hoarsely, moving so he was sitting back on his heels. At least he was still conscious, could now breathe. He looked at the angels who looked back at him with expressions of uncertainty, even pity. “I’ve been through worse,” he snapped scornfully. “The lord of this realm knows Saph…Sara is gone and he is not happy. We need to break in there,” he pointed to the castle, “find Gideon and get out before He calls the lords of this godsforsaken place down upon us and they tear us and anyone near us apart.” Because as much as he despised the owner of this castle and most of its inhabitants, there were a few that dwelled within Damien did not want harmed.

“And you know a way in that we won’t be detected?” Loghan asked, his voice thick with disbelief. The smile Damien gave him did not give Loghan any confidence they would make it out of this stupidity waiting to happen in one piece. Although, the Gods knew he had done his fair share of stupid in his existence and made it out relatively unscathed. What was one more? “Lead the way,” he sighed.

“You might want to put away the wings. The glow is a bit much,” Damien grimaced pushing himself to his feet, his sword in hand. The world wobbled then righted itself. When he saw Michel looking at him with a frown, pity in those blue eyes, it pissed him off. Damien did not know who he could trust, and this particular angel knew more about his life than Damien was comfortable with. Enough that if he wished, Michel could destroy him and the universe along with him. “I’m fine,” Damien muttered before heading past them and towards the last place in the universe he wanted to be.

Home.

*  *   *

Immortality had its ups and downs. To watch the universe from its beginning, watch it grow, make mistakes and learn from them, or sometimes not. To heal any wound, never become sick, never die were amazing gifts that through time one started to take for granted. As Gideon hung in his chains, his body broken and bleeding, the ability to heal, to never die, no longer seemed like a gift. In the hands of the enemy gifts could become a curse. When you can never die torture can last a very long time, and this particular captor has had plenty of time and practice to become particularly inventive. It was not Gideon’s first time at the hands of his enemy, and he was sure it would not be the last, but in the short time he had been here it had been the worst.

Then he found he had been wrong.

Pain like he had never felt before tore through his body, his soul, leaving him completely shattered. Sara was gone. When he had felt her presence surround him, envelope him, giving him her strength, the completeness he felt was something in his entire existence he had never experienced, yet at the same time felt as familiar as his own skin. Now she was gone. The howl that rent the air, breaking his eardrums, freezing the breath in his body, his heart, gave him hope that she was not dead. That his men had found her and managed to escape. There were only a hand full of their kind that was powerful enough to feel others between the realms, and he was not one of them. Neither was his captor.

The door crashed open and a hand was around his neck, slamming him against the wall. Pain radiated down his spine into every nerve ending in his body.

“Where is she!” a voice he was all too familiar with snarled in his face.

Gideon opened his eyes to find red eyes glowing with flame and rage. There were very few he feared, what stood before him in his full glory, seething with a rage none could match, was not one of them. A fallen angel that ruled this level of the hell realm with pain and vengeance. One Gideon used to call friend.

“Answer me!” he snarled again, his voice low and dangerous.

“Somewhere you will never find her,” Gideon croaked with more bravery than he was feeling at the moment. The thought of Sara in the hands of this bastard filled his soul with a kind of terror Gideon was not used to. Although, the one thing that he would never show the bastard in front of him was fear. Satan, Lucifer, Lightbringer, The Prince of Hell, Angel of Death, whatever name whispered, right or wrong, he was not one to goad. Yet from years of hatred born from betrayal, Gideon could not stop himself. “Did you really think we would allow you to have her? She does not belong to you, Lucifer.”

“And I suppose you think she belongs to you,” Lucifer sneered. “I can feel your connection to her, guardian.” That last word was said with the amount of disgust one would use if they stepped in a pile of demon dung.

Gideon knew it was not the actual title that irritated Lucifer, but that he held it. Only those who were considered pure of heart and thought could hold the title of guardian, and as far as the evil in front of him was concerned, Gideon was anything but pure. Betrayal can cut two ways, and it can cut deep.

“Do you think I would allow you to touch her after what you did to me? You who, unlike the rest of us, was allowed to rise above your past crimes and the gods now praise as a hero. We both know you are no hero, but a worthless backstabbing bastard only out to save your own skin. I have waited a millennium to pay you back for the hell you have put me through, brother.” Lucifer snarled.

“The only one to blame for your hell, brother, is yourself.” Gideon hissed. “The fact that you dragged Sachi down with you only proves how much of a selfish bastard you are.” As he knew it would, saying the name of the human woman Lucifer had risked everything for brought his fury back with a vengeance.

“You are not worthy to utter her name,” Lucifer snarled with a quiet calm that turned Gideon’s blood cold. “Gideon, decorated warrior, guardian, have done something that not even your master can save you from. You have broken one of our kinds strictest rules by falling in love with your charge, so technically you are mine and you will tell me what I want to know.”

With an audible click, the cuffs around Gideon’s wrists and ankles opened and then he was airborne. Slamming against the far rock wall with such force rocks and dust followed him to the hard dirt floor. Before he could push himself to his hands and knees, every thought in his head rattling around in chaos from the impact, a foot ground into his back keeping him down.

“And since you are mine, so are these.”

Excruciating pain tore a scream from Gideon’s air starved lungs as one by one Lucifer tore his wings from his back. Then he was once again slammed against the wall, the jagged surface digging into his ravaged back as some unseen force held him there.

“You will tell me where she is or I will make sure you never fly again,” Lucifer snarled.

Gideon looked at his bloody wings lying in the dirt at Lucifer’s feet. To not be able to fly, to feel the wind under its wings, the sun at its back was an angel’s worse nightmare. One that Gideon knew he would bear if it meant Sara was safe from this monster. Swallowing hard, he closed his eyes and refused to answer.

A snarl so menacing it raised the hair on Gideon’s body filled the room. Then heat scored his front and he could not help himself. He opened his eyes and watched as his wings were turned into nothing but a pile of ash, ensuring that escape from this cell, this realm, this hell was now impossible.

Chapter 9
Chapter 11

Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes