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

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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

 

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

Forever Lost – Chapter 8

Chapter 8

Sara was not sure how long they hiked through the trees. All she cared about was that they were not heading for the castle she had seen earlier. Something in there was…hungry. For what she was not sure. She just knew she did not want to go there and find out.

Damien never seemed to tire carrying the dead weight of the huge angel. Even when they had to hike up a steep incline, slipping and sliding on the loose black rock, he did not falter. It was Sara that needed rest. Damien helped pull her over the lip of a very high cliff, hopefully the last cliff, Sara lay on her back staring at the red sky gasping for air.

“How come…you’re barely…breaking a sweat and I’m…about ready to…expire,” she gasped.

“Expire?” he smirked.

Apparently he thought that word was amusing. Sara’s racing heart and starved lungs thought otherwise.

She glared at him.

“The air is different in this realm,” he explained, trying to hide his smile and failing. Clearing his throat as Sara continued to glower; Damien went on with his explanation. “Think of it like this. If you live near the coastline you have more oxygen to breathe. But if you venture into the mountains, or into a different part of the country that is far above sea level, then the air is thinner so it’s harder for you to breathe and you tire faster. Here the air is different enough from the air in the Earth realm that when you exert yourself it’s harder to breathe.”

“Makes sense I guess. So is it the lack of oxygen that is making it seem darker, or is it becoming night time?” Sara asked turning her head to look around. She still was not up to moving much else.

“It’s growing dark and we do not want to be out in the open when it fully descends,” Damien voice wary as his eyes scanned the shadows. Something in the tone of his voice told Sara that whatever lived in the dark was not something she wanted to meet. “Can you stand yet?” he asked looking down at her, his hand extended for her to take, his amusement suddenly back as he waited for her to move.

“I’m glad you find my nearly passing out so amusing,” she snapped taking his hand and allowing him pull her to her feet.

A sudden wave of dizziness would have taken her back down if Damien had not pulled her into his arms to hold her up. Again that surge of power tingled between them, only this time it hurt a little. Like being jabbed by little pins and needles. For some strange reason it felt good. The sharp hiss of air along with his arms tightening around her told Sara that Damien liked it too.

“Why does that keep happening?” she asked breathlessly.

“I don’t know,” he breathed, his forehead resting on the side of her head.

It felt so intimate having him this close, as if he needed her as much as she needed him to hold each other up. Sara felt herself sinking into that feeling of mutual need and safety. After all that had happened in the last hours, days, it was welcomed.

A mournful howl reached through the night freezing the blood in her veins, pulling her from the spell that was weaving around them. With a gasp, she pulled away. The sudden chill that shuddered through her at the loss of Damien’s heat brought Sara to her senses far better than any pail of ice water. What the hell? Sara knew nothing about this man, if he was a man as he claimed, which he did not. What had he said? Not exactly? So many things were not what they seemed here. Was Talon even an angel, or was he some demon in disguise to lull her into a sense of safety only to kill her later. The only thing she trusted was the feeling she felt when Gideon eyes met hers. That familiar sense of home. He she knew without any doubt would not hurt her.

Sara did not know why she felt that certainty. Maybe because those eyes seemed so familiar. As if she had known them all her life. Especially those nights after her mother passed away when, in the safety of her room where her father and brother could not see or hear her, she would silently cry herself to sleep.

As Sara stared up into Damien’s eyes, she realized that he was just as confused and shaken as she was. His wide eyes showed a fear she did not think he was used to. That did not help alleviate hers, but with practiced ease she squashed it down before it could overwhelm her.

“What just happened?” she asked glad not to hear her voice shaking.

“I’m not sure, but let’s not do that again,” his eyes thoughtful as he studied her. She thought his eyes once again widened in understanding, but it was only a flash and he was once again back to thoughtful and confused.

“You’ll get no arguments from me,” she readily agreed rubbing her hands up and down her arms, trying to dispel the tingling that still lingered.

“Come on.” The words came out in a shaky breath as he turned to Talon.

Even though they were in agreement that whatever had happened between them could not happen again, the problem now was Sara wanted to feel that warmth, that sense of security, those pins and needles running across her skin with the craving of an addict, and the only source of fix was heaving an unconscious angel onto his shoulders. When he turned to look at her, she saw that same wanting in his eyes. It took a lot of will power for her to stay where she was and not reach out to touch him.

“Ready?” he asked his voice hoarse.

The only response she could manage was a nod.

“Follow me,” he said with a bit more surety before he turned and headed towards the woods that bordered the cliff. Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly in an attempt to slow her racing heart, Sara followed him. Another mournful howl, this time closer, hurrying her steps.

They did not walk very far before there was the sound of rustling wings and they were surrounded.

“Far enough,” a voice so deep it vibrated up Sara’s spine commanded.

Damien and Sara froze.

“What have you done to Talon?” another slightly higher voice hissed.

Sara looked towards it to see a blonde haired blue eyed very pissed off angel stalking towards Damien, turning the sword in his palm clockwise before taking a firmer grip on the handle.

“He didn’t do anything to Talon,” Sara answered quickly trying to head off the fight she knew was about to happen. “Talon fought with Lizza and we fell.”

It did not stop the angel’s advance, but he also did not cleave Damien in two as Sara was afraid he would. Another angel came to help the blonde take Talon from Damien’s shoulders, carrying him a short distance away and laying him on the ground. While the blonde hovered, his eyes going from the unconscious angel to Damien and back as if he was not sure if he should stay with his friend or kill his enemy, the other took off a satchel he had looped over his head. Laying it on the ground next to Talon, he began to take out what looked like medical supplies.

“His wing was dislocated when we fell. When I popped it back into place he passed out,” Sara continued seeing that those who still stood glaring at Damien had not relaxed their demeanor. “Damien was helping us escape some demons who were hunting us.”

“I’m sure he was,” the shortest of them snorted. Although since most of them had to be at least six foot five and above, only a head shorter did not make him short in Sara’s eyes.

“Loghan,” Damien greeted calmly, his hands out to the sides in a show of being unarmed. It would have worked if his eyes had not been blazing with hatred. Again, Sara strongly felt there was bad blood between him and the angels. “A pleasure as ever.”

“We never did finish our discussion from the last time we met,” Loghan said, a sinister smile on his lips as he thumbed the blade of his sword.

“I would be more than happy to start where we left off,” Damien sneered, a sword materializing in his own hand. There was a rustle of metal and wings as the others responded to the threat.

“Enough!” the tall dark angel’s voice boomed silencing everything for miles. It did not, however, stop the two hotheads from glaring at each other. If looks could kill, Sara was positive they would both be piles of smoldering ash on the ground.

Deciding that involving herself in the middle of a pissing contest between these giants would not be one of her brightest ideas, Sara moved towards Talon and the two angels looking him over.

“Is he going to be all right? He’s been unconscious for so long,” she asked worriedly, keeping her voice low. The blonde angel looked up at her and smiled. It did not reach his eyes. Those were laced with worry. The second angel had his hands on Talon’s chest and his eyes were closed in concentration.

“He’s fine,” the blonde assured. “We just need to get him out of here. Our powers of healing are hindered by the darkness of this realm. Even for one like Adalrik,” he motioned to the angel with his eyes closed, “who is gifted with healing. Once Talon returns to our realm, he will be fine.” Then, he took a closer look at Sara and did not seem to like what he saw. “How are you holding up?” standing and moving closer to her.

“Well, my best friend is not who she seems to be. I’ve been dragged into hell, chased by demons who are apparently trying to kill me, and now I’m surrounded by angels.” She shrugged. “Just another day in the life I wish I did not have.”

For some reason, voicing all this out loud brought tears to Sara’s eyes again. The thought that once again her life was taking a road she did not want to travel yet had no choice in angered her. There was no turning left or right, no turning back. Just some unseen force pushing her onward to whatever destiny was laid out before her. Angry at her situation and the fact she was crying in front of others – she hated crying in front of others – Sara turned away from the blonde angel and wiped forcefully wipe the tears away.

“What the hell did you say to her, Michel?” Damien snarled.

Sara looked to see him pushing tbrough the angels surrounding hin and stalk towards her, sword raised, eyes flashing with fire and a possessive rage that frighten her as he glared at Michel. He had no right to act this way. They barely knew each other. Before Damien could reach her, the blonde angel had notched an arrow to a bow Sara had not seen before with a speed her human eyes or brain could not comprehend; ready to stop Damien from coming closer.

“Stop!” she yelled moving in between them. Both men froze, their eyes not leaving the other.

“Get out of the way, Sara,” Michel commanded, his voice a deadly calm that told her he would shoot Damien in a heartbeat and not cry over the spilt blood.

“Do as he says, Sara,” Damien said just as deadly. “I don’t want you to accidently become injured.”

“No,” Sara answered firmly. “No more fighting. I’m tired and hungry and I want to go home, crawl into bed and pretend this was all a bad dream.”

Damien eyes moved to hers, softening with sadness. “I’m afraid it is too late for fairytales, Princess.” he said softly.

Something about the way Damien said princess touched a spot deep within Sara she did not know existed. Another part of her that had been kept hidden for far too long. With a sounding like a gong that reverberated through her and out, that sudden awareness reached out touching everyone and everything around her as it spread out like a wave a pebble would cause if tossed into a pond.

It also woke a memory.

One she never knew she had.

Sara tried to grasp it, but it slipped through her fingers, falling back into the hazy mist it came from, yet not totally gone.

“Why did you call me that?” she whispered.

“Because that is who you are,” Damien answered, his voice still gentle, his sword lowering. There was a sadness in his voice and expression that frightened her.

“You said I was a puzzle, that you did not know why Lizza brought me here,” she reminded growing angry at the thought he had been lying to her this whole time.

“I didn’t know why,” Damien answered, his sword disappearing into the mist where it had come from. “It wasn’t until I held you in my arms,” there was a growl of displeasure from the angels but Damien chose to ignore them, “the second time that….” More growling and rustle of feathers and metal. Damon glared at the angels who glared back then turned his attention back to Sara. “It wasn’t until then that I started to realize who you were. The fact that these particular angels are here to protect you confirms my suspicions.”

“Then who am I? Why am I here?” she demanded stepping towards him. She wanted to push at him in frustration, but the memory of what his touch did to her stopped her.

Damien looked around at the angels then at the trees behind them. “Not here,” he said quietly. Sara opened her mouth to protest but he hushed her. “The trees have eyes, and I do not think everyone here knows who you are.” He looked at someone behind her as if confirming his suspicions, then back at her. Apparently one of the two angels behind her knew. “I would rather not be the one to let slip that little secret until we are safe.” Then he looked around at the others. “Although I don’t think I need to worry about that any longer.”

Sara followed his gaze and saw that all their eyes were on her, each one wearing a look of shock. As if they were seeing her for the first time. It was unnerving. It was also when she noticed Gideon was not with them.

“Where’s Gideon?” she asked her eyes still searching in case she missed him, or he was lurking in the shadows. Somehow she knew when it came to conflict he was not one to lurk, so that meant something was wrong. Sara looked at Michel and saw how uncomfortable he had suddenly become. Something was wrong. “Where is Gideon?” she demanded.

“Distracting the horde,” the tall dark one rumbled.

“What does that mean?” she asked suddenly angry and frighten all at once.

“It means we need to get you out of here before they figure out he is just a distraction and come looking for us,” the one Damien called Loghan answered walking up to Michel. He shot a venomous glare at Damien as he passed.

Damien smirked in answer.

Sara gave him a look that said not helping. Bowing his head, Damien rearranged his features in a more neutral expression.

“I’ll help Adalrik with Talon,” Loghan said. “Either you or Aitan can carry Sara, and then we will….”

“I don’t think so,” Damien uninterrupted, moving so he stood directly behind Sara, their bodies almost touching. Almost was almost too much.

Sara did not want the others see the affect Damien had on her, but with him this close it was becoming very difficult not to lean back against him. Feel his warmth, and that strange pins and needles sensation that she craved. The angels had already voiced their opinion on the subject of him touching her, and they were not too happy with how close he was now.

Too close, she thought breathlessly.

As if he had heard her, he stepped back one step. Suddenly it was easier to breathe.

“You think you can defeat all of us?” the tall dark one rumbled.

“No,” Damien said calmly keeping his eyes on Michel and Loghan. Adalrik was still kneeling next to Talon, his hand on Talon’s chest eyes closed in concentration. “But do you honestly think they will allow you to leave? She is too valuable. The gates will once again be guarded, and this time they will not allow you to leave. If you want to escape, you will need me.”

“We do not need your help?” Michel scoffed dismissively.

“You do if you want to find a way out of here the others don’t know about,” Damien said his voice low and dangerous. “And you would do well to take me with you.”

“And let you loose on Earth? On purpose?” a red headed angel snorted his accent thick. Looking at him more closely Sara could see that his leather was a bit more intricate with designs that were sewn in different color thread. His red-orange hair was long, down his back, braided close to the head on the sides with two small braids falling on each side of his face, the rest was in some sort of intricate braid she could not see, holding it back off his face. He had a large double bladed axe in his hand and his green eyes held amusement as he stared at Damien as if he was daft. Like the others, he was well over six foot. “I think not.”

“Do you have another plan, Celt? I’m willing to listen to any ideas you may have for escaping the most tightly sealed realm in existence,” Damien snapped.

“If it’s so tightly sealed, then why do your kind always seem to escape?” he asked sweetly.

“Enough,” a weak voice commanded.

All eyes turned to Talon. A weight Sara did not realize was there lifted from her chest. She started towards him, but Damien grabbed her arm stopping her. The effect was immediate. Both of them sucked air in as the pins and needles shivered across their skins, several times more intense than before. It seemed the more they touched the harder it was to let go.

Stepping so his body touched hers from shoulder to waist, his nose buried in her hair Damien whispered, “Don’t.”

One whispered word, a plea, and Sara could not pull away from him. Looking up into his eyes, she saw his worry, his need, his determination, even fear and she wanted to take that look away.

“Stop,” Talon barked. This time his voice was more firm, more in control. “No one touches them,” he added a little more softly. “We do not have a choice now. We need to take Damien with us.”

“Talon,” the tall dark one protested.

“No Aitan,” Talon said.

Sara was able to tear her eyes away from Damien to see Talon was on his feet, if unsteady. He looked at Michel who shook his head slightly, his brows furrowed with worry. They were not expressions that put Sara at ease. They were expressions of uncertainty, apprehension. Like Damien, they knew something. Something that would change Sara’s life forever.

“What has been done cannot be undone. Now we must live with the consequences, whatever they may be,” Talon said ominously. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, looking around him counting heads. “Where is Gideon?” Alarm replacing the unease.

“He led the horde away so we could find you and the girl,” Aitan rumbled. “We don’t know where he is, or if he is alive.”

Alive? The thought of him in the hands of those monsters, wounded, or worse dead, gave Sara the strength to pull away from Damien, although it cost her. Gasping she tried to reorient herself as the world spun out of control and pain twisted her insides, almost doubling her over. Behind her, Damien made a noise of intense pain, as if he was gritting his teeth to keep from crying out. Sara wanted desperately to stop his pain, but she knew if she stepped back into his arms she would not be able to think clearly.

Gideon could not be dead. She would feel it, wouldn’t she? Hugging herself tightly, Sara closed her eyes and concentrated on those amazing clear blue eyes. Those blue eyes that felt like home. She tried to concentrate on other features but for some reason they kept slipping away. As if something was keeping her from seeing them.

Behind her, Damien growled in warning.

“Easy, half-breed,” Talon’s voice said very close to her.

Half-breed? Sara opened her eyes to find Talon in front of her. When she turned towards Damien, she could see he was not happy Talon was so close. Again she wondered why Damien was so possessive when they had only met a few hours ago, and why that possessiveness felt so right. When he looked down at her and saw her frowning at him, his anger faltered. She could tell he wanted to say something, but he kept his mouth shut. Sara was not sure if that was a good thing, or a bad thing, but at the moment she did not care. Gideon was somewhere out there, on his own, with a thousand demons after him. She had better things to worry about than misplaced over-protectiveness.

Talon’s voice brought her back to him.

“Sara, Gideon is your guardian angel. There is a link between you that allows him to know when you are hurt or in trouble. Now that you know who he is, that link should work both ways. If he is still alive you should be able to sense him,” he said gently.

Sara did not like the word ‘if’. Gideon was not dead!

“How?” she asked surprising herself with the calmness of her voice.

“Close your eyes. Concentrate on him,” he instructed. “He has been with you since the moment you were born into the mortal realm. You have always known he was there on some level. Concentrate on how he makes you feel.”

“Home,” Sara breathed.

Talon smiled down at her. “Yes, home,” he said.

Sara closed her eyes and once again brought the image of Gideon’s eyes to mind.

“You don’t know what you are asking her to do,” Damien snarled behind her.

“You know as well as we do that she can do this, even with what has happened,” Michel said patiently. “Whether you like it or not they are linked. It was part of the price. Don’t think that a short time with her will erase what was done.”

“And when she does find him. When we are brought together what then? You know the prophecies as well as I do,” Damien hissed, his voice low so the others could not hear. Sara felt him at her back and it momentarily distracted her. This time not so much pins and needles, but a need that was deep in her soul to become one with Damien. A low groan told her he felt the surge between them. This did not make any sense. Why was he affecting her like this?

“Can’t…concentrate,” she said through gritted teeth. This time she kept her eyes closed, because if she looked at Damien there would be no more thinking.

“Damien, please,” Michel appealed just as quietly. He too sounded closer, but again Sara did not dare open her eyes. “You cannot stop what is already set in motion, and we need Gideon. Back away from the princess.”

There was a moment of silence, then a noise of frustration and Damien was no longer behind Sara. “This is not over,” he snapped.

“I know,” Michel said his voice weary.

“Sara, concentrate. Where is Gideon?” Talon gently urged.

Taking a deep breath and releasing it slowly, Sara once again focused on that sense of home. It was there…faint, flickering. Her heart began to race as the thought he was dying filled her with dread. Falling to her hands and knees, she pushed that feeling away and grasped onto that flicker presence, willing her strength into him. It flickered once more, like a flame in a breeze threatening to blow out. Then, slowly, it started to grow stronger, more sure.

Sara, his voice breathed in wonder through her mind.

Before she could answer, a presence so foul engulfed both of them, constricting, smothering, demanding obedience. Sara and Gideon screamed, their backs bowed in pain as they gasped for air that was not there. Sara’s entire life was suddenly flashing in front of her mind. As if someone was looking through a slide show, pausing every once in a while on a memory, taking special note of one thing or another until the images were finally at the present. Then images she did not remember, places she had never seen before from a past that was hers, yet not, began rushing by at a pace that made her dizzy. Just as suddenly as the presence appeared it was gone. Sara collapsed to the ground sucking in precious air, her body trembling with terror.

I have waited a long time for you, Sapphira, a low lazy voice filled her mind. Welcome home.

Chapter 7
Chapter 9

Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes

 

Forever Lost – Chapter 6

Chapter 6

The ground just kept coming closer and closer. Somewhere above her, or was it below her? Sara was spinning and turning so much she was not sure which way was up. What she did know was that the ground was coming. That was just plain physics.

Another angry ear piercing shriek told Sara that Talon was still busy with Lizza. He had tried to reach her and almost made it, but Lizza had swooped in and crashed into him, both of them tumbling out of sight, which in turn sent Sara spinning. Another ear splitting shriek, this one more pain than anger. Harpy came to mind. From what little Sara knew of Harpies, they were vicious creatures. She hoped Talon was strong enough to defeat the creature, or at least force her to run off.

“Got you!” A male voice grunted just before a body slammed into Sara, jarring everything including her back teeth. Arms, legs and something exquisitely soft enveloped her. “Hang on!” Talon gritted.

Even though he sounded calm, there was an underlining level of stress in his voice and body that told Sara they were not safe. Wrapping herself around him, she belated realized the softness she felt were his wings. If his wings were around her, how were they supposed to fly? No sooner had that thought finished itself, they hit the ground and all she knew was her back teeth were not only loose, they were rattling around in her head.

When they finally stopped rolling, Sara lay in Talon’s arms trying to relearn how to breathe. As her heart rate slowly lowered and her lungs began working, she realized that Talon had not moved. Her heart rate once more skyrocketing at the thought he was dead, she tried to move away from him so she could look him over.

“Shhh,” he hushed. “Lizza is looking for us. If we stay still she may not see us.”

Holding her breath, Sara did as he told. What seemed like an eternity, she finally felt Talon’s body relax. It did not last long. Sucking air through his teeth when he tried to move told Sara he was injured. By the hissing curses, it had to be bad.

“Can you move your wings enough so I can move off of you?” she whispered. Lizza was gone, but that did not mean there were not others lurking nearby.

“I think so,” Talon answered slowly unfurling himself from around her.

Sara carefully pulled away, doing her best not to jar the angel too much. Once she was free, she moved far enough away to give him room to stretch. Then it hit her. She was looking at an honest to God angel. His dark shoulder length hair did not quite fit the pictures of angels she had seen at church, but then again she did not take much stock in the human version of heaven. Something just smacked too perfect. Too boring. If God could make a world that so varied and wondrous and full of imperfections, then why could heaven not be the same way?

As Talon turned pain filled hazel eyes towards her and she was able to see his chiseled features, slightly crooked nose that looked like it had been broken one too many times, and lips that begged to be kissed, she realized he was just about close to perfection as he could come in her book.

“Are you okay?” he asked concern replacing the pain, breaking into her stunned silence.

Slamming her mouth shut and turning what she knew had to be a lovely shade of red at being caught drooling, Sara thought about his question. Was she okay? She had been too busy coming to the realization that angels and demons were real and she was apparently in Hell to really take stock of herself. That the blue eyes that haunted her dreams, her waking hours, that had made her feel safe, loved ever since her mother had become sick with cancer was in fact her guardian angel. One they left behind battling a monster with a sword. The need to go back and help him overrode her common sense until she realized that there was nothing she could do but hinder him. That demon…what was his name? Loathar? He seemed more than ready to use her as a distraction. She would not help the bastard by going back and doing just that.

What she needed to do was find a way out of this hell. Only problem was, she had no clue how she got here in the first place.

Looking around her, aside from the bad smell, the red haze and the burning lungs, Hell looked a lot like any other…forest? Thinking back Sara remembered seeing places that looked barren, desert like as they flew over. There were trees surrounding the castle they had been heading to. Maybe that was the forest they were in now. The thought of that dark place sent a shiver down her spine. Every cell in her body screamed to get as far away from it as she could. The entire place reeked of pain, death…evil.

“Sara!” Talon voice snapped, along with his fingers in front of her face.

Jumping at the sudden sharp noise, she returned to the original question. Was she all right?”

“Aside from some bumps and bruises, I think physically I’m fine,” Sara answered hesitantly. The smile Talon gave her said he understood the rest of what she was not saying.

“Except your mind is telling you that everything you have seen is fairytale, myth and shadows,” he said grimly. Pulling her knees up to her chest and tightly wrapping her arms around them, the only answer Sara could give him was a nod of her head. With a deep sigh that seemed filled with more than exhausted, Talon carefully rolled over onto his back. Rubbing his face with his hands that were covered in dirt, blood and other things Sara did not want to contemplate, he muttered, “Why is it always me that has to explain the unexplainable to the unbelievers?”

“Unbelievers?” Sara asked studying him now that he could not see her eyes taking in all of him.

In the pictures she had grown up with, angels wore anything from togas to nothing. Over six feet tall, Talon was covered in what looked like thick brown leather armor. The sleeves were short, but he had braces on his forearms that were studded with some sort of metal. A belt ran diagonally across his chest and around to his back. Since he was lying on it, Sara could not be sure if it was a scabbard or maybe a quiver. On his shoulders and shins were more of the studs. Extra protection maybe? Another belt at his waist held a long knife and other weapons she did not recognize. On his feet were leather boots. The leather itself was made up of different colors. The pants were brown, the shirt red with brown at the shoulders and sleeves. The boots a dark brown. All this leather and she could still see that he that he had the build of a well-seasoned warrior. Looking back into those hazel eyes that were now on her sparkling with amusement, she wondered why the angels she grew up looking at were not this gorgeous. Probably too sinful for those stuck up prudes she had to endure when her father dragged her to church on Sunday.

“Are you through taking inventory?” he asked with a smirk. He chuckled as Sara felt her face heat once again. “Don’t let Gideon see you looking at me like that.” He grimaced as he tried to move. “I’d like to live to see another sunrise. That is if we can escape this God forsaken realm first.”

Sara’s blush disappeared when Talon tried to get to his feet only to collapse back onto the ground with a groan of pain.

“What’s wrong?” she asked unwinding and moving towards him.

“The ground is too damn hard, that’s what is wrong,” he snapped. When he saw her hesitation at his anger, he softened his expression and tone. “Sorry. I don’t do well when I’m in pain. I think my wing is broken.”

“Which one?” Sara asked suddenly all business. She had plenty experience with broken limbs with a little brother who spent most of his time in the ER having one limb or another set. She also had designs of becoming a veterinarian, so any creature four footed or winged found its way to her so she could heal them.

“Left,” he hissed trying to move it.

“Keep still,” Sara admonished moving around him to reach the damaged wing. They were huge and a white so pure that even under all the dirt and blood they shone. Although on closer inspection of Talon’s, she found not only was it at a strange angle, but a lot of the feathers were missing too. “I think Lisa…I mean Lizza did most of this damage,” she murmured as she inspected the wing.

“One of these days I’m going to put an end to that backstabbing siren,” Talon growled in disgust. It quickly turned into a hiss as Sara touched the edge of the wing. “Careful!” he snapped, but there was no anger in his voice. Just pain.

“Sorry,” she apologized quickly. “So you know Lizza well?” she asked conversationally, her eyes on his wing.

“Unfortunately,” Talon groused, his voice tight with pain. “Before she became fallen, she…did something that none of us can ever forgive.”

“And that was?” Sara asked keeping the conversation going not only because she was curious, but it kept Talon distracted as she gently inspected his wing.

Talon sighed, the sound so resentful that it brought Sara’s eyes to his face. His expression was one that said his mind was on a long ago memory that was not pleasant. “That is not my tale to tell, I’m afraid. Suffice to say, after today, Gideon will not hesitate to kill her.”

“Because she brought me here?” Sara asked.

“That is one of the many reasons, and because she took something that was his.” Talon looked into Sara’s eyes, his dark with anger. “Something that he considers important to him.”

Unsure how to respond to his anger, because as far as she knew she had done nothing wrong and he was clearly blaming her for something, she turned back to his wing. After further inspection she decided that the wing was not broken, just dislocated.

“You’re in luck. Your wing is only dislocated. I need to set it if it is to heal properly,” her mind more on the how and less on informing Talon what she was going to do.

“Do you know how to do that?” Talon asked looking at her with a fair amount of skepticism.

Sara shrugged. “I’ve set my fair share of birds’ wings. Aside from size, I assume this will not be much different.”

“Birds’ wings,” his voice flat with skepticism.

For some reason this, out of everything else that had happened to her today, pissed Sara off. “Do you want it set or not?” she snapped.

“Okay, okay,” Talon soothed through gritted teeth. “I’m in no shape to argue with you. Just…be careful. Please,” he added in a more gentle tone.

Sara could imagine the thought of never flying again would be a frightening one. “I will be as gentle as I can, but it is going to hurt,” her voice apologetic.

Nodding he understood, with Sara’s help Talon shifted until he lay on his stomach with his upper half raised above the ground as he rested on his forearms. Already white and sweating with pain, he braced himself as he watched Sara moved around his wing, trying to find better footing. Wings normally were delicate things. The last thing she wanted to do was cause more damage. Tentatively she took a hold of it, one hand on either side of the joint that was distended.

“Ready?” she asked her voice breathy with uncertainty.

“Ready,” Talon answered through gritted teeth.

“One, two, three!”

There was an audible snap and Talon’s back arched as he head went down, eyes closed tight, trying to stifle his scream of pain. It was too much, though, and he collapsed flat on the ground, out cold.

As gently as she could, Sara arranged his wing so it lay in as close to a naturally relaxed position as she could make it. Then she inspected his right wing to make sure nothing was wrong with it. Like the left it was missing feathers and covered in places with blood and dirt, but otherwise it looked fine.

Glancing around her once again she wondered what she should do. Obviously she could not leave Talon unconscious and vulnerable. Especially since he had not been very successful in stifling his scream. If anyone was close by, they would have heard him. What she needed was a weapon. Looking at his back, Sara saw the empty scabbard and knew the sword that filled it must be somewhere close by. Digging around in the underbrush, she finally found it. Like him, it was huge and as she tried to lift it she knew it would be more of a hindrance than help. She needed something smaller. Then she remembered the knife on his belt. After dragging the sword so it was closer to him, and her, Sara carefully pulled the knife from its sheath. For her size it was more like a short sword, which was perfect, if she knew how to wield a sword that was. Oh well, it was better than nothing.

Sitting down a few feet away from Talon, she strained to hear anyone coming. Nothing. In fact, there were no birds, no insects, no noise of any kind. What did she expect though? She was in Hell. Anything as small as an insect was probably too scared to come out because there were far more bigger and scarier creatures ready to squash them. As if to emphasize that thought, in the far in the distance there was a scream of pure terror followed by howls of hunger. Yes, bigger scary things that roamed the shadows and would do more than take a little blood from her.

Looking at Talon’s still form, Sara prayed he woke soon. She was no match for what lived here, and to make matters worse they were actively looking for her. Talon said there were many reasons why she was brought here, and he had only listed one, so she still did not totally understand what these creatures would want with her, but something told her she really did not want to know.

Chapter 5
Chapter 7

Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes

Forever Lost – Chapter 5

Chapter 5

 The day had started out so normal.

After attempting to smash her alarm clock into pieces, Sara dressed and ate a quick breakfast before heading into town to…what was she going to do? Oh yeah. She had to stop by the feed store and order a part for the lawnmower. The damn thing was forever breaking down. What they needed was a new one, but that was not going to happen. Ever since….

Sara shied away from that painful memory. No time to lose herself in grief. Not in public where she would have to endure the looks of pity.

After placing her order, she headed for their family store, the persistent feeling of being watched that had been there most of her life irritating her today. Whenever she looked to see who it was staring at her, there no one paying any attention to her. It was so strange and annoying, yet at the same time comforting.

Then something in a store front window she never remembered being there before caught her eye. What was it? Racking her brain she finally remembered. An old clunky black and white TV mixed in with the new HD flat screens. She had stopped to make sure she had seen what she thought she saw when everything went…weird.

Hell, weird did not even begin to cover what she was seeing.

This could not be happening. None of this was real. Yet as she looked around her at the glaring hungry eyes, the different shades of skin – most that had never been seen in the human world – teeth and claws that could rip her to shreds; she was having a hard time convincing herself it wasn’t.

Demons. Things of mythology and nightmares. Things of evil. And apparently her best friend was one of them. While it did explain a few things, Sara thought she should have noticed something was not right with Lisa long before this. It just showed Sara that no matter how much she had tried to ignore, push aside and fight her feelings in order to survive, her mother’s death affected her more than she realized.

Swords clashing, bones crunching and screams of pain in the back of the horde that surrounded her pulled all the demons’ hungry eyes away from her to a more immediate threat. A battle was taking place and it was heading towards them. Behind her, Lisa hissed angrily. Sara turned in time to see huge glossy black wings of feathers fan out behind Lisa as she took a battle stance.

“It’s too soon!” she hissed.

“He must have been watching her,” a rather large more intelligent looking demon said pointing at Sara.

“Impossible. He was miles away chasing a false lead,” Lisa snapped. “Someone betrayed us.”

Sara looked perplexed. She didn’t know anyone who could wield a sword let alone come into the bowels of Hell after her. She was not even sure how she got here. Last she remembered she was in a circus tent in the 1950’s, which was also wrong….

Wait a minute. She must be dreaming. That’s what this was. She was safely in her bed having a nightmare. Damn horror books. Maybe she should quite reading them if they were going to create hallucinations like this one.

“Okay,” she said taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. “It’s only a dream. It’s only a dream. All I have to do is wake up and I will be safe and sound in my bed. Come on, Sara. Wake up!”

“What is she doing?” a demon asked his neighbor in a surprisingly normal voice, as he watched Sara in confusion.

“They all do that in the beginning,” the demon next to him sighed. Sara was shocked to hear a female voice. “They think they are dreaming, and if they could only wake up then it won’t be real.”

“You’re female,” Sara breathed in shock.

“Yeah? What of it. You think baby demons just pop out of the males? Girlfriend, they couldn’t handle the pain,” she scoffed.

Hmmmm, sounds like something her mother would say. Although her mother was a gentle soul and would not end up in a place like this. Still, Sara took a closer look at her.

“You get any closer sweetheart and I’ll have to kiss you,” the female demon warned suggestively.

Sara jumped back, a look of horror on her face. The two demon’s hair raising cackle was cut off by someone yelling Sara’s name.

“Sara!” a male’s voice called frantically.

The sound of that voice sent a flood of relief through her that almost buckled her knees. He was coming. He would keep her safe. But, who was he?

“Sara! Where are you?”

“Here!” she called starting towards the voice. Even though she could not put a name to it, that voice was somehow familiar. It sounded like home, and she desperately wanted to go home. Not thinking about the danger of wading through a horde of hungry demons, Sara started moving towards that voice.

“Oh no you don’t!” Lisa snarled grabbing her arm. Pulling Sara to her, Lisa tightly wrapped both arms around her and then they were airborne. “You are mine. I will not let that sanctimonious pompous bastard come in here all blazing glory and save your ass. Not this time. If he wanted to keep you, he should have been more watchful and less trusting.”

This time? “Who are you talking about?” Sara asked struggling to get free.

“Your guardian angel of course,” Lisa said as if Sara was daft.

Her what? Sara looked down at the mass of bodies beneath them.

Lisa had stopped so Sara could finally understand what just how much danger she was in. Hovering thirty feet in the air there was a lot to see, but what drew Sara’s eyes was a knot of…beings fighting their way through a horde of demons. She thought beings because they glowed with an unearthly light. Even as they slowly became covered in blood and gore the light shone through. But what really caught her attention were their wings. Huge, glorious white wings.

“Angels,” Sara breathed.

“Yes, and that one,” Lisa let go of her with one arm long enough to point at an impressive figure at the head of the group fighting with a ferocity that was awe inspiring, sending the demons around him that survived his sword cowering in terror, “is Gideon, your guardian angel.”

As if he heard his name being said he looked up at them. The clear blue eyes that caught Sara’s and held them were like none she’d ever seen before, and yet she had. It was so disconcerting. Those eyes held a great deal of rage as they narrowed on them. There was no doubt in her mind, or any of the demons below that fought, lay dying or were dead, that her angel was pissed.

“Let her go, Lizza,” he snarled.

Lizza…not Lisa? Sara was going to have to remember that.

Lizza only laughed as Gideon’s attention was taken by a new demon that towered over the rest. With huge leathery wings, bulging muscles, wearing battle armor that was the color of blood and decorated with spikes and skulls, he was an impressive figure. Actually he looked more human than demon, but there was no mistaking the malice pouring off of him. He was definitely evil.

Sara watched in fascination as a ring was formed around the two. It was obvious the other demons wanted no part of this fight, and the other angels were too busy with their own battles. Lizza laughed gleefully in her ear as her arms tightened around Sara pushing the air from her lungs.

“Loathar. High lord under the Horseman called War. One of the most dangerous forces of evil that has ever lived. He has had a hard-on for Gideon since before the fall, but has never been able to defeat him outside this realm. Today will be different,” Lizza cackled.

No! Sara thought feeling the blood drain from her face. She would have screamed for Gideon to run, but because of Lizza’s hold on her, she could not draw a breath.

“You can’t just come in here and claim what is rightfully ours, Angel,” Loathar’s voice boomed over the noise of battle.

“She is not yours, Loathar. She belongs with me,” Gideon snapped.

“Then I suggest you keep better watch over your charges if you wish to keep them, Angel. She is in our realm now, and she came here freely, therefore she is ours. Your claim is null and void,” Loathar laughed. Then his voice grew low and husky. “And I plan to take pleasure in every part of her.”

“Over my dead body,” Gideon growled.

“If you insist,” Loathar smiled. It was as if he was waiting for Gideon to say those words. With a huge roar that shook the ground, Loathar lunged at Gideon.

“No!” Sara screamed, managing to suck in enough air as she struggled to get free. It was her mother all over again. She was helpless to stop what was happening, only unlike her mother, the demon bent on destroying Gideon was on the outside and he had a huge sword to help him. Thankfully Gideon’s sword was a match and parried the blow with effortless ease.

“Shit!” Lizza hissed in Sara’s ear.

Sara dragged her eyes from the battle below to see where Lizza was looking. A dark haired god was winging his way towards them. Were all angels this yummy?

“Release her, Lizza!” the angel snarled.

“Catch me if you can, Talon,” Lizza taunted.

Laughing in obvious pleasure of the thought of a chase, Lizza gave one mighty flap of her wings and they were off. Sara tried desperately to see Gideon, but they were moving too fast. Soon, the horde was tiny ants in the far distance. Realizing that gawking like an idiot was not helping matters, Sara did her best to pull herself together and find her bearings.

Lizza had a death grip on her and it was once again becoming increasingly hard to breath. An angel by the name of Talon was following them trying to rescue her. They were flying at speed Sara could not even begin to fathom and heading across land that looked far from habitable. Below them more demons snapped and snarled as they passed over, all smelling the blood of a human and angel, all wanting a piece of flesh.

A castle came into view ahead of them. Tall spires ending in points that looked sharp and painful rose into the air, the walls that surrounded it were high and formable. Even though the castle itself was perched on top of a low mountain with an easy path to the open gates, with its black shiny surface it screamed stay away. That death awaited those who dare approach. Something told Sara if she wanted to escape now was the time, because if they reached that castle she would not be leaving. Taking a deep breath, trying not to think of how far below her the land was, she began to struggle harder.

“Enough!” Lizza snapped. “Stop or I will drop you!” she commanded her grip tightening around her prey.

That’s the idea, bitch, Sara thought. Then a disgusting thought crossed her mind, but she saw no other option. They were almost to the castle and Talon was too far away to stop them. Grimacing, Sara swallowed hard, opened her mouth and bit down on Lizza’s arm. The metallic taste of blood filled her mouth, gagging her, but Lizza did as Sara hoped she would. With a screech of pain, she let go.

“Sara!” Talon cried behind her. Far behind her.

As she fell, Sara prayed he was as fast as she had heard angels were and he would catch her before she hit the ground, because nightmare or realty, this was going to hurt.

Chapter 4

Chapter 6

Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes