Copyright © 2020 Heidi Barnes
Copyright © 2020 Heidi Barnes
Moving ever so slightly, because that was all the chains would allow him, Damien tried to release some of the stiffness in his arms and shoulders. All he achieved was sending sharp shooting pain throughout his body. Hissing, he pushed the back of his head against the cold stone wall as he rode the agony out. The one thing he did not envy mortals was their slow healing. The thought of using his power to heal was quickly stifled as the memory of the last time he had tried pushed through the pain induced haze in his brain. The chains that bound him also punished him when he tried to use his powers. It was probably the same metal that accursed necklace Malphas had forced on Sapphira was made of. It explained a lot on how the demon was able to keep her prisoner, hidden from him all those years.
Another shift, another spike of pain that left him gasping. Damien was not entirely sure what kind of creatures Malphas had given him over to, but they were very precise and vicious in inflicting pain without endangering their victim’s life. It was the only reason Damien was relatively sure Malphas did not know his true identity. Because for the moment, he was being careful not to kill him.
Footsteps in the dark, slow, methodical. Slow even breathing filled the cavern, echoing off the walls. Sighing at the obvious attempt for the dramatic, Damien lowered his head, cracking his eyes open. Or at least one of them. The other was swollen shut.
Malphas stood before him, his expression thoughtful as he studied Damien’s bruised and battered face.
“See something you like?” Damien quipped.
“Not so much as a like than puzzling,” Malphas answered rubbing his chin with his clawed hand.
To the passerby, they could have been two people having a conversation about the weather. Well, if you took away the chains, bruises, blood, put clothing on Damien and made Malphas look less reptilian and more human they might resemble that. Damien watched those red eyes roam his face before heading downwards.
“No offense, but you are not my type,” Damien said drily.
“None taken,” Malphas answered dismissively as he continued his perusal. “I tend to enjoy the softer more,” he made a motion with his hands to indicate curves of a body, “curvaceous bodies of your species. Although I have dabbled a time or two on the opposite side.” The grin he gave Damien was meant to incite the male’s ire, making it obvious who he was referring to. That the bastard had touched Sapphira and Gideon at all was enough to set Damien’s teeth on edge, but he had played this game one too many times to allow the demon to get under his skin. As Kara’s son, what happened to Gideon, or Tanis, would not bother him. The males were supposed to be the enemy after all. Two males who would take his mother away from her mortal family. Whatever happened to them they deserved.
“What you do with your free time is something I really do not want to hear about,” Damien said screwing up his face in disgust, playing his part.
The frown returned. Obviously not the reaction the demon was expecting.
“You play the game well, my friend,” Malphas murmured.
Damien’s face narrowed down, allowing a little of the omniscient being he was peak out. “I find life and death not so much a game, but a necessity of being.”
Malphas studied him for a moment longer before turning and walking across the small cavern to his throne.
“Yet we all play it,” he commented as he walked. Turning with a flourish, which would have been far more dramatic if he wore a cape or robes, not the loose leather pants or the tight red wife-beater t-shirt, which showed the well defined muscles under his black scaly hide. Damien had to admit, at almost seven feet the demon was impressive. Or would have been if Damien had not seen it all before. The demon continued; his voice conversational. “I think you’ve played this game many times. Just as my pets have. The question is, which player are you? I know about the Trials, what they are meant to do, and I know the hundreds upon thousands of times they have been played out and failed. I know that the universe I was created in was among the first of many that have long been forgotten. Who my creator was and why I was created. I also know who and what Sapphira and Gideon are. That Godiva and Satan are in some respect their children, and it was their arrogance that brought about the necessity of the Trials. I know that Fallon is a sort of guardian to Sapphira. Created to make sure she does not come to harm. Although, within the Trials he has failed many times, and correct me if I am wrong, he was not even in my Trial until he realized that I had enslaved his charge and master.”
“It seems you know a lot,” Damien commented drily. Too much, he thought.
“I can be very persuasive, and Godiva thought I was to be trusted. Even loved. She was very gullible, still is in some respects,” he mused. Shaking his head as if this was a sad point, he refocused on Damien. Leaning forward, his elbows resting on their respective sidearms, fingers interlaced before him, Malphas refocused on Damien. “You play the son of the heroine in this story, but I think you are more important than a mere stepping stone in the continuation of this universe,” he motioned with a wave of his hand to the outside of the cavern, “but I am not sure how.”
“Seems you are at an impasse,” Damien shrugged as best as he could in his chains. Pain, sharp and immediate, sliced through his chest and he could not stop the hiss of agony.
Rubbing his chin, his red eyes and expression thoughtful, Malphas studied his prisoner as he hung against the wall gasping in obvious agony. Trying to see past the façade of the son to see who, or what, was hidden beneath. He knew the conditions of the Trial had been met, if prematurely, and the others knew their true identity. So if there was someone else hiding behind the character of Chris, he should have shown his true self by now. And if he was still trying to hide, the manacles should have prevented him from using his powers to do so. Yet the boy still hung before him. Maybe there was nothing here to see but the obvious. Still…there was something…not right.
Suddenly standing, he strode over to Damien, grabbed his chin with his clawed hand, shoving Damien’s head against the wall.
“Pain does not motivate. You have no fear save one, and that will never happen,” Malphas mused. Roughly pushing Damien’s face away, relishing the sickening crunch of skull meeting rock, he turned and walked to the middle of the cavern. “The one motivator is the one we both cherish and would never harm,” he said loudly.
“You and I have very different opinions on what cherish means,” Damien grimaced trying to blink the spots from his one good eye. When it was semi clear, he glared at Malphas who was once again studying him not unlike a scientist studies an insect. “I have a question for you.”
“Ask,” Malphas urged. Spreading his arms wide, palms up, he said, “I am an open book.”
Damien made a noise that said he did not believe the demon. “Why do you want my mother so badly? Especially when you know she can never be yours. Not really. She belongs to something much high, much bigger, than a mere demon. Someone,” he added ominously, his eyes narrowing.
“You know something,” Malphas accused striding towards him, stopping a foot away but not touching. Narrowing his eyes, he hissed, “Tell me!”
It was tempting to tell the bastard who he was, but until Damien figured out how to circumvent the dampening powers of the chains he was at a disadvantage.
“I only know what I have been told and overhead. Without my mother, the prophecy cannot be fulfilled and the universe as we know it will cease to exist.”
“Do you think I care about your paltry universe?” Malphas growled, turning and storming away. Flopping onto his throne, he made a sound of disgust. “There are plenty more where this one came from. All I have to do is choose and it will be mine.”
“What do you mean it no longer exists? You destroyed it?” Damien asked his tone shocking. Malphas stilled on his throne. “How could you destroy a universe? All those people. Everything living in it. Gone? Why? What is so important that so many had to be sacrificed?” It was a question Damien had wanted to know the answer to the moment he saw the broken glass scattered on the floor of the orb room.
“You are too young to understand,” Malphas snapped, his expression thunderous. “When you value something, someone, more than your own life. When you realize sacrificing the few to obtain what you desire, what you love is the only way, then you will understand why I did it,” he growled.
“Isn’t the phrase ‘sacrifice a few to save the many’? You sacrificed the many for your own selfish needs,” Damien corrected, his anger rising. “You desired something that was not yours, that did not want you. That is not love. That is evil.”
“Who says she does not love me?” Malphas growled, the black skin on his hand turning grey as his grip tightened on the arms of his throne.
“Responding to your touch because you have cursed her so she is unable to fight what that touch does not mean she loves you. What you forced on her was monstrous,” Damien growled, his eye flashing black, his rage lashing out.
Malphas stilled, the power that flowed through the room stinging his skin as it washed over him. Impossible. The boy was powerful, but not powerful enough to circumvent the metal of his chains. No being was. Yet that power had tasted familiar. Narrowing his eyes, he hissed, “Who are you?”
“The son of the female you have abused far longer than I have been alive,” Damien snarled. “An act you will be punished for.”
The words echoed throughout the cavern, a feeling of a vow that was set in stone, a prophecy come to life, settling in, around and through the fabric of life. Of Malphas’s life. The only being able to bring prophecy to life was a god. Not any god, but the one who was the beginning, the middle and the end of all. Like his Sapphira.
A flash of memory, of eyes black as coal. A face closed down in a fury so fine it burned. A powerful unknown that was cast and locked out of this universe before it could ruin all his carefully laid plans. A fourth….
With a smile that spoke of victory as it was deadly, Malphas hissed, “Liar.”
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes
Two long days. It was two long, no sleep, frustrating days before Satan decided to look in the last place he thought Fallon would go. One, because the demon knew about this cave, and two, it was too obvious. Maybe that was why he chose it. That, like him, the demon would never think to look here. It was the logic that finally led Satan here. The makers only knew what Malphas was doing to Damien during those two days. Hopefully he had not figured out who it was he really had in his grasp. Once Satan realized the demon was gone, he had put up every ward, cast every spell he knew to keep one safe from being possessed. It was a fool’s hope it would work, because once invited in it was damn near impossible to keep them out. Since Malphas was now residing inside of Godiva, apparently it worked. Or he had been damn lucky, so far.
Stopping at the top of the narrow trail that led up to the cave to catch his breath, Satan looked out over the pristine vista before him. The small planet they were on was in the center of the universe where few had traversed, and those that had somehow overlooked this little gem. Untouched by outsiders, Satan had been drawn to the power, the spirit that lived within the planet. Yes, the trees and plants and animals were all alive, but so was the planet. Where every planet to some extent was alive, this planet was sentient. She was a living and breathing entity that had seen what man, in its various forms, had done to their planets and refused to allow that to happen to her. Yet for some reason she had seen something within the two of them and was gracious enough to allow them to live upon her. It was a small miracle that Satan had marveled at and had never taken advantage of. They lived in this natural cave, only used what resources they needed with care, leaving the planet virtually the same as they found it. Kept safe even from the demon’s influence. Maybe that was why Fallon came here. He thought Malphas did not know of this place. Unfortunately, having been ensconced inside his head for so long, the bastard knew everything Satan knew.
A soft breeze brushed against his face, like a caress from a lover. Within that wind a soft female voice whispered, Not everything.
Closing his eyes, Satan smiled as the wind gently wrapped around him, giving him strength, soothing his worries before wandering off across the tops of the trees, reminding him that as long as they were here no one could harm them. Feeling more at peace than he had in years, Satan opened his eyes. “Thank you,” he whispered before turning towards the opening of the cave. Now to face what he was sure would be a less than warm welcome. He had a lot of explaining to do, and he was not sure anyone within would believe what he had to say.
Walking into the cave he was surprised to find everyone asleep. Fallon was stretched out on one of the couches, an open book resting face down on his chest, snoring lightly. Quietly walking to where he stood behind the couch, Satan frowned down at the books cover. Why was Fallon reading a thousand year old book on curses? Looking around the room, he saw Brynn draped over the table filled with open books. Walking over, he noticed that most of the books were various version of the same theme. Curses, counter curses, spells and potions. What were they looking for?
Then he saw the medallion peeking out from under one of the books. Careful not to touch it, Satan gently closes the book so he could look at the offending piece of metal closer. When Gideon had fallen to his knees in obvious pain, unable to release the damn thing, Satan was not proud of his reaction. Instead of trying to pry it out of the sentential hand, he and his sister had moved as far away as they could, yelling for the mortal to do it. You would think they were a couple of sniveling children, not powerful gods. Although, even now as he reached for it he hesitated. If it could so easily take down a power being like Gideon, Satan was certain it would render him useless. Glancing over at the bed where he lay, Satan’s frown deepened. The immortal lay on his back, his skin grey, his breathing rapid. There was a sheen of sweat on his naked body where the sheet did not cover. Looking down at the medallion then at all the books, Satan wondered if there was more than what Malphas has done to Gideon in the vision.
Squatting down, he looked closer at the medallion. The symbols engraved on the surface were familiar, but Satan could not remember where he had seen them before. Standing once again, he moved so he could see the books strewn on the table. These where not right. He did not know how he knew that, just that he did. Another gust of wind pushed through the cave, rustling papers, flipping pages of the books. What should have woken the occupants of the cave did not even stir them.
They were running out of time. I put them in a deep sleep until you returned. You must find a cure, or the guardian is lost and you will not win against the evil that threatens you, a soft voice whispered in the air.
“Where do I start looking if I don’t even know what is wrong with him?” Satan asked.
Another gust of wind and a book in the far corner fell of it’s stack. Quickly going over to it, Satan reached down and picked it up. “Herb Lore of the Napalli,” he read out loud.
The answers you seek are in this book. Hurry, or all is lost.
Just as suddenly as the presence was there it disappeared. Opening the book, Satan began to thumb through it as he walked back to the table. About halfway through he found the symbol that was on the medallion. Above it in scrawling letters of a language long dead it said, “Lingering Death”. Below the picture was a description of what the poison was. A concoction that was meant to make the victims death a long and painful a possible. The length depended on the strength of the victim. Gideon was technically an immortal, but as with all creatures there were ways to kill the seemingly untouchable. As he read the ingredients of the poison, he realized this just might do that.
Towards the bottom of the page was the antidote. His frown deepened as he read the ingredients. Some he recognized, a few he didn’t. Since the book was from a different world, he supposed he would have to go to that planet to retrieve those ingredients. Looking at the bed where Gideon lay, he wondered if he had time. What he needed was help. Turning back to the book, he began to walk towards the table where there was some paper he could jot notes down on.
A groan from the bed snapped Satan’s head around. From the other side of Gideon, Sapphira slowly pushed herself up onto her elbow. Placing her other hand on her forehead, she tried to shake the cobwebs away. Grimacing at what Satan could only guess was a headache from sleeping for so long, she slowly opened her eyes. When she saw Satan staring at her in shock, she froze.
“It’s just me,” he assured quickly turning his full body around so he faced her.
“How can I be sure?” she asked with a fair amount of skepticism.
“You have only my word, which I know is not the best,” he added as her eyes narrowed. “Malphas has moved on to…shall we say more deceptive pickings.”
“I don’t understand,” Sapphira said moving so she sat up. “Why am I so groggy?”
“Because you’ve been asleep for a couple of days,” Satan answered moving so he stood by the bed, on the other side from hers.
Struggling to come up with a shorten version to explain what he meant, Satan finally sighed. “Long story short, the planet is alive, as in a sentient being. She realized you were running out of time to save Gideon, so she put you all to sleep until I arrived.”
“As she trusts you because?” Sapphira growled.
“Because in the three hundred years that Fallon and I lived here, we never gave her any reason not to. She knows who I am, what I am. All strengths and all my faults. She has never judged me, and she kept us safe from those who were searching for us until it was time for us to leave.”
“And even after all you have done, she still trusts you,” Sapphira countered, clearing not believing him. The fact that this planet was a sentient being, a living, breathing entity was not what she questioned. As a being that was created in the very beginning of time, one of the first to think, to question, to understand, she had seen many what others would call impossible things. No, what was in question, and she had every right to question it, was that the planet trusted him.
Smiling, Satan shook his head. “Yes. She trusts me, and Fallon. And apparently you, even though she does not know you. Otherwise you would not be allowed to stay here. But that is beside the point. To your other question, Malphas has turned his attention to Godiva, and apparently it is not for the first time.” Sapphira’s eyes widened. With shock or disbelief he was not sure, but now was not the time to figure it out. “We don’t have much time if we are to save Gideon. The poison Malphas used is very rare, as is the antidote. I asked for more help, and the planet woke you.”
Groaning as she moved, every muscle stiff from laying in one position for so long, Sapphira pushed the covers off her and swung her legs over the side of the bed, giving Satan her back. The trust in doing this was not lost on him. Waiting a few moments, she slid off the bed and instantly crumpled onto the floor. Satan was around the bed and beside her before she could blink.
“Why am I so weak?” she asked hoarsely, her hand once again going to her forehead.
“Did you try to help Gideon?” he asked, gently pressing the back of his hand against her cheek. It was cool to the touch, so no fever. A good sign.
“Yes. Contact always helps when one of us is sick.”
“You’ve probably drained your reserves,” he frowned. “Here, let me help you to a chair and we can figure out how to help you so you can help me.”
Wrapping his arm under hers as she reached for him, careful to make sure the oversize linen shirt she was wearing still covered her, Satan pulled her to her feet. When her legs still refused to hold her, he swept her up into his arms and carried her to one of the oversized chairs.
“I’ll get you some water,” Satan offered as he stood and headed to the kitchen area.
Leaning forwards, Sapphira put her elbows on her knees and her face in her hands, willing to world to stop being wobbly. She had slept for long periods of time before, and there was always a bit of disorientation when she woke, but never like this. It was as if she had been drugged.
I am sorry, a female voice breathed through her head. Sapphira jerked up in surprise to find there was no other woman in the cave save herself. I did not realize you would react to strongly to my suggestion of sleep. I only wanted to slow the progress of the poison. Now that you are awake, you must hurry, or you will lose the one you love.
“Gideon?” she asked to the air.
No. The one the demon holds. Once he finds the true identity of his captive and who he is to you, he will destroy him the same way he is destroying your sentential.
“No,” Sapphira whispered in horror.
“Sapphira?” Satan asked kneeling down in front of her with a glass of water, a frown on her face. “What’s wrong?”
Before she could answer, the voice continued, There is only time to make one dose of the antidote. Then you must choose….
Choose? Between two men who are as much a part of her as breathing?
“Sapphira?” Satan said urgently. “What is wrong? What do you hear?”
Moving her wide frightened eyes to his concerned ones, she grabbed onto his arms, sloshing water onto the them and the floor, before whispering, “We must hurry.”
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes
You would think being the creator of all that you see, that surrounds you, saturates you with its very essence, you might know every nook and cranny. That every thought, every sound, every vibration would tell you what you wanted to know within an instant of asking questions like, where is the demon hiding? What are his plans? How did he manage to escape his realm and enter this one without even so much as a whisper? It was a foreign entity. Shouldn’t it have made some sort of noise, disruption in the harmony of this realm? Something to alert the deities that there was a disturbance in the…. Satan struggled for the right word. The one that came to mind he did not want to say. It sounded so clique, yet…oh hell. In the force. A disturbance in the force. There. He said it, the gods help his sanity. He was just happy no one was paying attention and heard him. Not that he did not like the movies. They were one of the few pleasures he still enjoyed after all these centuries. Still, he would have to figure out a different word to explain what he meant. If that were possible. It was was it was. A force of power, of personality, of life and death.
Mentally shaking his head to get back on track, Satan looked at his surroundings. He had not graced the halls of the deities of this realm for many lifetimes. This is where his character, Caius, was supposable created. Where Caius had met his brother and sister. Where the prophecy had begun, and hopefully where he would get some answers. Many Trials before, he and Godiva had decided that micromanaging every aspect of their creations was too exhausting and usually ended badly. That maybe their true creator’s teachings might have some validity to them. Plant the seed, nurture it the first few millennia until the roots take hold then stand back and give it room grow, to blossom. Watch as the leaves form, the colors shine. See what happens when the seeds drop and the new generation begins, how it is different, what new colors emerge, how it spreads, how it dies. Learn from its triumphs and its mistakes. Maybe every once in a while nudge it in a different direction, but most of all allow it to breathe.
It hadn’t been easy, and some of their nudges had been disastrous, but with each Trial they learned, and they grew, and they understood a little more. This Trial was to be the last. Finally, he and his sister understood what their creators had been trying to tell them all these centuries. Life of a mortal is precious, finite, and should be respected. That chaos is as much a part of that life as serenity is. Yet with all this knowledge he did not know how one vengeful demon they created could hide from them in a universe where he did not belong.
As Satan neared the throne room where the deities of this realm resided, he could already hear their squabbling. As one of those deities, Godiva had arrived before him to take her place as the queen. The gods and goddesses knew that something evil had gained strength in their little universe, something that did not belong. Now the blame game was in full swing as each one accused the other of bringing that evil in.
Shaking his head in disgust, deep down Satan knew once upon a time he had been just as petty, just as juvenile. Thought himself invincible, untouchable. How wrong he had been. He supposed it was all a part of the process. Now he had to try and reason with stubborn petty gods and make them understand how important it was to pool their power, find and destroy this new threat so they might have a chance of surviving. A task, from what he was hearing, seemed suddenly impossible. The knowledge that one comes across, the one where what their parents had been telling them all along suddenly makes sense, washed over Satan. It was a strange and somewhat unsettling epiphany that they had been right all along. Stopping in his tracks, his face screwed up as if he had just swallowed something vile, Satan shook himself. Ah gods! Was he becoming his parents? The horror! Before he could complete shove that unsettling thought into a box to not look at later, a sense of foreboding slithered across his skin.
It started as a low rumble, growing in intensity until the entire planet violently shook. Suddenly the air was sucked out, leaving a hollow void where there was no sound, no light, no thought, no feeling. Nothing. Just as he thought he would go mad; all sensation came rushing back in an explosion that buckled his knees. Satan grabbed onto the nearest pillar to keep from falling. Part of the ceiling collapsed near him, the ground under him heaved upward knocking him off his feet. Around him, demi-gods grabbed their heads crying out in pain, falling to the floor. Then the pain hit Satan and he screamed, his entire body tensing with agony. It was as if something were pulling him apart from the inside then slamming it all back together.
As suddenly as it started everything stopped. Satan lay gasping on the floor, dust and debris settling around him. What the hell? Then he felt it, felt her, and he knew what had happened. Fallon and Sapphira had had finished the second part of the ritual that bound their characters, Aden and Kara, together. That meant they were both open to the universe, a conduit waiting to receive power that would determine the course of the Universe for the final time. The thought chilled him. Even though they knew who they were, what they were, somehow the rules of the Trial still bound them. The prophecy would still play out. That meant he had to find Malphas sooner rather than later or he, his sister, the two sentinels, Damien and everything they had built would cease to exist, and Sapphira would belong to the demon for all eternity.
Shaking his head in confusion, he tried to flash to the planet where the others were to finish his part of that ritual, but as it had since he arrived on this planet something stopped him. It was like hitting a brick wall, slamming him back to the ground. Slowly pushing himself to his feet, Satan leaned against the wall until the hall stopped spinning. Someone was keeping him from Sapphira, leaving her open for anyone to claim her as theirs. Like the demon. That could not happen.
Pushing his bruised and battered body from the wall, Satan carefully picked his way through the mess of marble and bodies to the Great Hall where the deities were holding court. They needed to find and destroy Malphas or all was lost. The problem was, while the role he played in this Trial was important, to them Satan was a child. A piece of a chess game they had been playing for their entire existence. A mere pawn. Here, in this universe, he had no real power when it came to the council. He would have to be very careful with his actions and words or they would not listen to him. Godiva, on the other hand, was different. She was their queen, one half of the ruling couple. Hopefully her silver tongue had already begun the process. That thought was short lived as once again the bickering began.
“Lovely,” Satan muttered under his breath. “Just what I need.”
When he reached the door he stopped, accessing the mood of the crowd. Not good, apparently. They were scattered around the room. A few were still on the floor groaning, their servants, hovering over them. Some were righting their various ornate thrones while others still were already seated. There were ten in all. All beautiful, most self-absorbed. They had earned their reputations well.
“I don’t think racing out into the universe without knowing what we are up against is the smartest idea,” the one Satan knew as Marcus, the God of War argued. It was always a curiosity to Satan that someone who was supposed to desire the chaos and pain of war, he strangely did his utmost to avoid it. However, one did not question a god and not live to regret it.
“So we sit here and wait for them to find us?” Sasha asked incredulously as she gently set her ornate throne down onto the floor. The youngest among the twelve, blonde, slim and beautiful, Sasha was the Goddess of Youth.
“We are the strongest here, in the Great Hall,” a small sniveling voice reminded.
Satan cringed, his eyes involuntarily going to the slimy pocked mark man he knew as Nusair, the God of Lies and Despair. This man looked like a cross between a snake and a raptor, and not the pretty kind. This…god made Satan look like a saint. Evil oozed out in an inky black smoke that curled around him like a lover. The smell that followed him everywhere was that of rotting flesh. He was given a wide berth around his throne, which was made of slick black onyx. It was also the only throne in the room that did not have any carvings in it. It was just big and black, sucking in the light around it, attempting to shroud everyone in darkness.
“Hiding here in the halls will not help us find out who it is and how strong they are,” Marcus spat in disgust.
“They shook the halls of this temple. The shockwave was felt to the edges of the universe without diminishing in strength,” Godiva reminded. “I think we all know how powerful they are. The question is who is it and how many are there.”
Satan frowned. They do not know about the prophecy and the role Aden plays, or, it seems, about Malphas. Maybe Godiva has not had the chance to tell them.
There was only one other stronger than Godiva, and despite his obvious indifference to her in public, Satan knew he was very protective of her. Looking around the hall, his eyes fell on the deity who was his father in this universe. Zorya. The King of the Gods. Zorya’s eyes caught his and held them. In that one look Satan knew the god knew the truth, and he was beyond angry. Whether it was at the situation or at him, Satan was unsure. What he did know was if his father decided he was the problem and wanted to punish him, there was nothing he could do to stop it. Damn it! As powerful as he was, he was still the weakest one here. A choice he had made when they were creating this universe he was sorely regretting now.
Grinding his teeth in frustration, Satan made his way around the circle to where Godiva sat. By the time he reached her, everyone that was conscious was sitting on their throne. Satan took note of the ones that weren’t. The ones who would be of no use to them in fighting the demon.
“And when we do?” Nusair’s oily voice broke into Satan’s thoughts. “What then? How do we fight against someone who can shake the very foundations of the universe?”
“Caius,” Zorya called calmly. “Is there anything you need to tell us?”
Every eye turned to him, but the only one he saw was Zorya. The god knew his time was at an end, and it shocked Satan to see just how tired he was. He had been waiting for this day when the power, the responsibility, would shift to someone else’s shoulders. Wanting it. Godiva seemed, angry. Maybe even a little fearful. They had talked about their strategy before she came here. They were going to work different angles in order to bring the deities to their side. There was something wrong, though. Something out of place with his sister. It was then he realized she was the one keeping him from Sapphira.
“Son?” Zorya prompted before he could do more than narrow his eyes at Godiva in confusion.
Frowning, Satan ignored Godiva’s glare he could feel burning a hole in-between his shoulder blades and walked into the middle of the room to play his part of the dutiful son.
“What do you know about this, young one?” a tall formidable woman demanded. Girisa. Goddess of Wisdom and Truth. She was not one to trifle with. “And do not lie to us, Caius. You have broken enough covenants the past two thousand years to warrant your termination. Do not push our patience any further.”
“I would not dream to, Girisa,” Satan bowed, a smile plastered on his face. Girisa snorted, clearly not believing him. “But I can’t tell you what is happening or why.”
“Because you refuse to?” Marcus demanded sitting forward in his chair as if he planned to attack Satan.
“No, because I cannot,” Satan answered doing his best to keep his voice as neutral as possible. They may not be able to kill him as Girisa threatened to, but they could make his life very painful for a very long time if they wished. “From what I have learned in the last two thousand years, this has all happened before, but only those involved in its outcome know the details.”
Marcus and Zorya exchanged a look of understanding. Satan filed it away for further investigation. Right now, he needed to convince Godiva to release him so he could find Sapphira. She was in danger. He could feel it. If anything happened to her….
“But we are involved,” Sasha countered. “Whatever just happened affected us greatly. I feel as if my powers have weakened.”
“I too was affected by whatever happened, but my greatest concern right now is Kara. She was taken from us, and if this…power hurt me then she may be hurt too. I need to find her to make sure she is safe. If we lose her the universe will come apart at its very seams, and no one will survive. Including you.”
“And your brother, Tanis?” Godiva asked.
“He is safe,” he frowned. Godiva knew where Gideon had gone, that he was wounded, yet her question sounded sincere. As if she truly did not know the answer to her question. The feeling that something was not right with his sister once again pushed at him. Deciding to cautiously test if his intuition was correct and things were not as they seemed, he continued the lie. “I left him at the house on the planet Cennad, unharmed.”
“Isn’t that the planet Kara’s human mate lives on? The one where you hid her and your bastard child,” Girisa growled.
Satan bristled. “Yes,” he answered after a moment, his tone as stiff as his body.
“Did you really think you could hide your treachery from us?” Girisa sneered.
“This may surprise you,” Satan answered, his disgust with the beings in front of him barely contained, “but I believe a child should grow up knowing the love of its mother.”
“If you had grown up knowing the love of a mother, you would not have been what you needed to be,” Zorya reminded calmly.
“And what is that, Father? Someone who knows only pain and suffering? Someone who can’t show how much he loves a woman without hurting her?” Satan snapped.
“Don’t blame your upbringing for your poor choices,” Sasha snapped, a rare hint of anger in her voice.
“Choices? What choices? We had no choices. We still don’t. I want…need with a desire none of you can in your petty, self-absorbed minds understand to find Kara, and yet you are keeping me here against my will.” He glared at Godiva.
“Selene?” Zorya asked calmly looking at his wife.
“I do not know what he is blabbering about,” Godiva answered arrogantly, not meeting her husband’s eyes. Instead she glared at Satan. Yes, something was very wrong with his sister. “He never recovered from Kara choosing another and has blamed me for it all these eons. Like I can interfere with something that was written down before time began.”
“But we are not above interfering with prophecies, are we,” Zorya accused quietly. Everyone in the room was silent as Godiva’s eyes snapped to his. Eyes narrowed, he glared at Godiva. “I know what you have been doing. Don’t you think it is time to allow the Fates to do their work without our interference?”
“I have no idea what you are talking about,” she snapped. “The only time I intervened was when he almost killed Kara in an attempt to break Tanis, and right before….” She let that one drop, her glare returning to Satan as she sneered. “Well, we don’t have to go into what happened then, do we.”
Satan looked baffled. What in the hell was she talking about? And why did he get the feeling Zorya was not talking to his sister but someone else? Satan looked closer at Godiva, trying to see what his father saw.
“Don’t give me that look,” Godiva snapped, fidgeting in her seat. “You know what you did to Kara and then to Aden. You forced her into your bed, abused her, then forced him to relive the horror of what you did to her until you broke him. I will not allow you to torture them again for some stupid prophecy!”
“I would never force Kara into my bed!” Satan was completely dumbfounded by Godiva’s accusations. “That is one line I would never cross. You know that.”
Zorya looked from his son to his wife, his eyes narrowed in anger. “Leave us,” he ordered suddenly. Immediately everyone began to clear the room, those who were still unconscious being carried out by their servants. “Not you, my son,” Zorya said stopping Satan as he moved to follow the others. “This pertains to you as well as us.” He explained when Satan looked at him unsure. “And you, my brother,” he added, a hint of anger in his tired voice.
To Satan’s complete shock, Marcus hesitated at the door. Brother? Wracking his brain, Satan tried to remember when they had decided that Marcus would be Zorya’s brother. Nothing came to mind. In fact, there was a huge gap of time were there was a complete blank. He remembered planting the seed that would begin all creation. Sitting back, watching, waiting for the time when sentient life appeared. Then…nothing. Looking from Zorya, to Marcus then finally to Godiva, who refused to meet his eyes, Satan realized he had no memory of their creation. Of invoking the prophecy that would result in the creation of their characters, his role in this universe. It was all a complete blank. What was going on here?
“You made it abundantly clear many eons ago that this was none of my business,” Marcus snapped, not turning around.
“That was…necessary. Please, hear me out before you leave. I think I know what is going on,” Zorya bargained quietly as he stood turning his gaze to Godiva. “And so do you, Malphas.”
Satan froze. An emotion that he rarely felt washed over him. Horror. Unable to swallow it back, he asked hoarsely, “Who?”
“Someone I think you are well acquainted with, Caius,” Zorya explained as he stood and walked towards Godiva. “Fight him, my love,” he whispered his voice breathing through the room along with his power. “Fight him and come back to me.”
“But that’s impossible. He is locked away where no one can escape,” Marcus breathed, walking back into the room.
“His body is,” Zorya reminded stopping in front of Godiva, who sat in her chair, back stiff glaring at him. “But I think not his spirit.”
Godiva glowered at him. “You and your arrogance. You think you can simple banish me into the darkest pits of hell and keep me there? As I have told you many times before, she is mine!” The voice that came from Godiva’s lips was not hers. It sounded like her, yet it wasn’t.
Satan stared at his sister in shock, then fear as recognition washed over him. It was the same voice that he had been hearing in his head. The one that had been whispering for him to do things he would have never done or gave him answers to puzzles that he was unable figure out on his own. Like how to survive the last two thousand years, where to look for the scrolls, how to gain control of Sapphira. Oh gods! The nightmares. All those horrible things he had done in his dreams that had left him gasping and dripping in sweat in the middle of the night. Did they really happen?
“She has never been yours,” Zorya growled, his voice showing his anger as his power lashed out at Godiva/Malphas. The laughter that came from his sister’s mouth sent a shiver of fear down Satan’s spine.
“You cannot get rid of me that easily, brother,” Malphas sneered. “Not this time, and definitely not alone. I am too strong.”
“Maybe not alone,” Marcus said standing beside Zorya. “But, then again, he’s not alone, brother.”
“You always thought too much of yourself, Marcus,” Malphas spat. “Always interfering where you did not belong.”
“Interfering? Me?” Marcus gasped as if affronted by the mere suggestion of being interfering, his hand on his chest, a pain expression on his face. “You wound me, my brother. Or should I call you grandpa? Besides, you have no room to throw stones after what you did. If you had just cooperated instead of trying to control destiny, we would not be here today.”
“What is he talking about?” Satan rasped, the horror of what he was discovering threatening to drown him. “What is going on?”
“This is not the first time the fate of the universe has tried to come to a conclusion. We had a choice, just as you do. One that would decide how the universe would continue, but one of us had his own agenda,” Marcus explained, his eyes narrowing on Godiva, his voice filled with annoyance. “Before we were able to banish Malphas to the hell he currently lives in, he tried to thwart the Fates and in the end cursed us.”
Satan’s mind was still reeling as he tried to understand what was going on when the tension in the room shot up as Zorya placed his hands on the armrests on either side of Godiva.
“Let him go, love,” Zorya pleaded softly, leaning in so his face was mere inches from hers. “I’m tired of these games and want to rest. Let the young ones have their glory. Then maybe we will be free to have what we’ve always wanted.” He teased her lips with his.
“Do you really want to lose all of this?” she asked breathlessly. “All the power, the ability to control the universe on the off chance you may be able to love me again?”
Zorya looked into Godiva’s eyes with such fierceness that it took Satan back. As Selene, Godiva was fated to love Zorya, to only want Zorya, but he was not supposed to love her back. And Marcus was their brother? The third demi-god? As far as Satan knew, the third had been banished, which would be Malphas. Questioning everything he had known in this Trial, which he thought he had control of, that he had created, Satan’s jaw dropped as Zorya dropped another bombshell.
“Please, Godiva,” Zorya begged, brushing the back of his hand across her cheek. “Let this torture end. Let us have a chance to finally be together again. I love you.”
He knew Godiva’s true name. That meant he knew her true identity. Their true identity. And since Marcus did not react to the name change, then so did he. Staggering backwards, Satan tried to push through the chaos of questions and horror that threaten to overwhelm him and listen and watch what was going on before him.
“You say you love me, yet that does not seem to stop you from fucking every female you meet,” Godiva snapped pushing him away from her so she could stand. But Satan could see the pain in her eyes, hear the hint of regret behind her anger. Did his sister truly love this male? Was she capable of love?
“Sasha is wrong,” Zorya said sadly. “There are those of us who do not have a choice in what our lives are to be. You and I know that better than most.” He moved closer to Godiva. Reaching out he pulled her to him, wrapping his arms loosely around her. “I can already feel the change; feel the bindings Malphas put around my heart loosening. His mind is elsewhere and so is his power. If you would only let go of the hurt and pain you would feel it too.”
“How can you be so sure?” her voice low with uncertainty, and maybe a little hope.
“Because after all this time I can finally do this.” Tightening his arm around her waist, a hand tangling in her hair, Zorya pulled Godiva against his for a searing kiss.
Caius watched with fascination as Godiva answered that kiss with as much passion as was given. Apparently she did love Zorya. Then another thought crossed Satan mind. All this time, Godiva knew who Malphas was, what he wanted, and she had never told him. Had lied to him all these centuries. Why? They were so close to proving to their creators that they had learned their lesson, that they could be released from their punishment, and she goes and lies to him. To all of them.
Zorya released Godiva’s lips, resting his forehead on hers, both of their breathing ragged. “I want to be free of this curse. I want to hold you and only you in my arms again. Please, Godiva, fight him. You must find the strength release Satan. He needs to be with the others or the Malphas win, and we will descend into chaos.”
“I am trying,” she breathed her voice showing the strain she was under as she clung to Zorya.
“What is going on here?” Caius rasped stepping forward, his anger rising. The fact that Zorya had used his true name hadn’t even fazed him. At this point he didn’t think anything would surprise him. “How do you know who we are?”
Zorya looked at him, keeping his arms around Godiva. “You should know you three were not the first to fight this battle. Like your sister, or I should say your maker, Godiva had to make a choice. Back then Malphas was charming, easy going. He hid well the evil that lurked behind his smile, the power he held over us. What he did not know, or understand, was even though he may have created the characters, written out the storyline, the ending may not come out as you planned. That one thought, one word, one little action can tilt the those carefully laid plans into a completely different direction. Somehow, Godiva saw through Malphas’s façade and realized who he was. That he did not belong. When she chose me the story he so carefully crafted veered into a different direction. One he could no longer control or see the ending. He did not take it well. Long story short, when Marcus appeared, and it was clear the time had come to let go of our differences and join together as one, Malphas refused. Instead he took Godiva and ran.
“It took years, but we finally found where he had hidden her. Together the three of us banished him to a place where the gods are forgotten, but he made sure he was never forgotten. On his last breath he cursed us. If he could not have Godiva to use to achieve his goal, then we could not have her either. The rest you know. We know that Malphas is gaining in strength. He sees his prize and he will do anything to achieve it. To have Sapphira as his queen and Gideon as his pet. If he manages to ensnare them, he will use their power along with his to destroy everything that threatens to take them away.”
Tightening his grip on Godiva so she could not pull away, Zorya put his other hand out and an ancient looking scroll appeared in it. “This is the original prophecy. Take it to the others. It might help you defeat Malphas, or it might not. What we do know is you must all fight him, together, or he will win. Everything.”
Satan took the scroll from Zorya, looking at it as if it would bite him. One question that he had tried not to think too much about because there were more pressing issues at hand pushed forward. He had to ask, if only to know the answer. “And my child?” not looking at them, his eyes transfixed on the brittle parchment in his hand.
“The child was not yours, my son,” Zorya answered sadly. “Although he wanted you to believe otherwise Malphas was in possession your body when the child was conceived, so in turn the child was his and it had to be destroyed.”
Satan tightly gripped the old parchment in his hand, hearing it crackle. Not his child? And the things that he thought were nightmares of what he did to Sapphira were true?
“I will kill him,” he growled.
“If you all work together you may be able to do just that. Go, find them. There is not much time left.”
As if on cue, a mixture of pain and pleasure the likes Satan had never felt before encompassed him, sending the room into a tailspin. Right on the heels of that an unholy roar that shook the building, threatened to burst his eardrums as every molecule in his body screamed RUN dropped him to his hands and knees. Forcing himself to look up, he found Zorya and Marcus holding Godiva in-between them as she fought with everything she had to break free. When her eyes landed on Satan, the snarl that left her lips and the hatred in her red eyes shook him to his core. This was not his sister, but the demon in disguise. A demon that she claimed to know nothing about yet had full possession of her body. What. The. Hell?
“We are out of time!” Zorya bellowed. “Go! Find the others. Figure out the clues before it is to late.” he commanded.
Needing no more prompting, Satan disappeared.
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes
“NO!” Sapphira screamed sitting up. Eyes wide with terror, they darted around the room searching for something that in the back of her mind was not there. She was not trapped in the cave with Gideon, unable to release the medallion that held him prisoner while Malphas sunk his claws into his belly, slowly digging so to cause as much pain as possible upwards towards his heart. She was in her room, at the Llassar farmhouse. She was safe.
Pain wracked her body and she doubled over, clutching her chest. Inside her head Gideon screamed her name, screamed for her to save him. Gasping for air, Sapphira kicked at the covers that tangled her legs until she was finally free of them. Sliding from the bed, she staggered a few feet before she realized the voice she was hearing was not Gideon but Brynn’s. Strong hands grabbed her arms as her legs collapsed from under her.
“Kara!” Brynn called anxiously. “What’s wrong? What’s happening?”
“Gideon,” she rasped, desperation thick in her voice. “He has Gideon! He’s killing him! We have to save him!”
When Brynn did not answer her, his body suddenly still, she looked up and froze. His face was slack, eyes glazed over. His body jerk violently then blood gushed from his open mouth. Screaming, Sapphira backed away, Brynn’s hands falling limply by his side. With one more jerk, his knees collapsed and he fell in slow motion to his the floor. Listing sideways, his lifeless body hit the hard stone floor with a muffled thud. In his place was a clawed hand holding his bloody beating heart. Staring at it in horror, Sapphira tried not to look up, but her eyes betrayed her. Slowly they followed the red leather clad arm up, and up, and up, past the armored shoulder to the strong smooth chin. Past the cruel mouth that held a sneer full of malice. Past the strong smooth nose to crimson eyes that bore into hers, the lustful triumph they held freezing the air in her lungs.
“I have waited a long time to make you mine, and now that I have eliminated all the obstacles between us, you will never escape me again,” Malphas sneered. As he spoke, he raised his bloody hand to where Sapphira could once again see Brynn’s heart and began to squeeze. “You are mine!” he snarled as Brynn’s heart disintegrated, blood gushing down his arm covering the wood floors.
“NO!” Sapphira screamed sitting up in bed, sweat drenching her, terror stealing her air.
“Sapphira!” a familiar voice cried.
Arms encircled her, pulling her against the warmth of a hard body, but she knew it was a trick. Malphas would torture her for days, making her believe she had woken from her nightmare only to find she was still trapped within one far more horrifying. Fighting with everything she had, the arms finally opened and she scrambled from the bed. She only made it a few feet when the pain wracked her body again, dropping her to her knees screaming. This time when the voice called her name, it was gentle, careful.
“Sapphira?” he coaxed. It was definitely a he and it sounded so familiar. Like home, but Sapphira still did not trust it. “Please, love,” he begged.
Now the voice was in front of her. Refusing to open her eyes, her arms tightly wound around herself as spasms wracked her body, Sapphira cowered away from the voice. Pain, sharp and immediate tore a scream from her. Falling to her side, she curled into a ball, her teeth grinding together as she tried to hold in another scream that threaten to break free. Exhausted and beaten as she was, she would not give the bastard the satisfaction. So tired. So very tired.
There was a small movement of air, warmth to the front of her. The male had quietly moved towards her, but she could not unwind herself to move away.
This time the voice held a note of command, even though she could also hear worry. “Sapphira. You must tell me what is happening, or I cannot help you.”
Help her? She choked back a burst of laughter, which strangely sounded like a sob. Too many times she had believed him, and each time had left her broken, lying on the floor in a pool of her own blood. Not today. Someone shoved a white hot poker into her brain and she could no longer keep her scream inside. Clutching her head, she rolled onto her back, scream after scream tearing at her throat.
Cursing vehemently, the male grabbed her wrists and suddenly the pain was a little less. When those curses became strangled she realized whoever it was, was feeling what she was feeling, yet they did not let go. Instead, they held on tighter as power flowed through his hands, into her arms pushing away the pain. Malphas was not ready to let go of his prize. Growling, the demon pushed back.
In the back of Sapphira’s mind she registered that if Malphas was the one holding onto her wrists, then why was he fighting with himself to gain control. With a cry of pure rage, the male holding her wrists pour more power than Sapphira had felt in a long time into to her. Enough power to shove Malphas back and out, locking an invisible door behind him. That shouldn’t have been possible. The necklace bound them, making it impossible to use that amount of power against the demon without agonizing repercussions. Yet, as the residual pain began to subside, inside her there was only peace.
The figure slumped over her, his breathing ragged, the hold on her wrists still bruising. Gasping for air, Sapphira cracked open her eyes, trying to focus. The room wavered, spots dancing before her, but slowly a mass of black hair that belonged to the head resting on her chest came into view. With a shudder, the male lifted his head to catch his sky blue eyes with her hazel ones. As the face came into focus, Sapphira already knew who her rescuer was. The face and body may be different in each Trial, but the eyes. The eyes never changed. Yet these eyes were not who she expected.
Parting her lips to ask how, the male shook his head slightly, his eyes begging her to not say what she was thinking. They may have won this battle, but they were still not safe.
“Fallon?” she mouthed. She was rewarded with a small smile that he saved just for her. The one that spoke of how much he loved her. A smile she thought she would never see again.
“Are you with me?” he asked releasing one of her wrists so he could brush the tears from one side of her face, his face etched with worry.
Nodding, she released a sob and suddenly she was in his arms. Everything would be okay. He was here and they remembered who they were, what they were. They were no longer bound by the demon’s spells. Where they were still trapped in the Trial, but for the moment they were safe. They were finally safe. Sapphira allowed that feeling to wash over her as the tears fell faster, pushing away the nagging feeling she was forgetting something very important. She wasn’t sure how long they sat there as she cried out all her pain while the male they thought lost to them whispered soothing words in her ear. When she was finally spent, he gently picked her up and carried her back to the bed. Lying her down on it, he crawled in next to her and pulled her to him. Once again snuggled against him, she drifted off to a dreamless sleep. The outside world and all the horrors that awaited forgotten for the moment.
The next time she woke, she felt rested along with a lightness within her she had not felt for a long time. The spells that had weighted her down for so long were truly gone. Stretching her body, reveling in the feel of her body feeling like her own, she opened her eyes and looked around the large cave. Frowning, she also realized that she was alone again. Did she dream Fallon was here? Sitting up, she saw the pillow next to her had a depression in it. Feeling the sheets, they were still warm. No, he had been here. The question was, where was he now? Looking around at the large cave, it reminded her of the one where….
“Gideon!” she gasped.
“Safe, for the moment,” Fallon answered from somewhere near the entrance of the cave.
Turning, she watched as he strode into the cave, the deep cowl of his cloak hiding his face. A jolt of fear that she had been wrong and this was another trick shot through Sapphira until he swept his cowl away and she could see his eyes. Some say the eyes were windows into one’s soul. Sapphira believed that to be true because those eyes were the one thing Malphas could never duplicate. It was how she learned to see through his illusions.
“What do you mean, for the moment?” she asked her eyes narrowing.
Watching with fascination as Fallon dropped his cloak to the floor as he kept his pace towards her across the immense cave and began to pull his shirt out from his leather pants, she barely heard what he said to her question. As Aden and Kara, they had been kept from finishing a ritual that was essential to this Trial. While they now knew who they were, the ache they had lived with for so long was still very present. The ritual needed to be completed in order for the Trial to move forward. Not that Sapphira needed the excuse. The four of them had crossed that barrier some of the mortals in the Trials had placed on relationships many eons ago. Jealousy was not an emotion they carried so they shared just fine. Still, they needed to keep their thoughts on the problem at hand. Defeating Malphas. “I’m sorry,” she said closing her eyes and shaking her head to try and bring her thoughts deep from the gutter where they had traveled the surface where their existences were uncertain. “What did you say?”
“Malphas laid a trap and Gideon walked right into it,” Fallon repeated smirking. With a sharp tug, he pulled his shirt over his head and dropped it to the floor. The heated look in Sapphira’s eyes hardened him even further. While they were in a dangerous situation, and they needed to find where Malphas was hiding their fourth, for the moment they were safe and had time to rest. Not that resting was what Fallon was after. He had been denied the touch of the female before him for far too long. It was time he remedied that.
By the time he reached the bed, his had unlaced his leather pants and they hung loosely on his hips. Climbing onto the bed and into Sapphira’s waiting arms, his hands slide up her hips, pushing the linen shirt further up her waist, exposing her.
“Brynn was able to pull medallion out of his hand before Malphas could kill him,” he continued huskily, his eyes following his hands. “So for now they are safe and we have time to reacquaint ourselves with each other.” Before Sapphira could say much more than a groan, he claimed her lips, pushing her down on the bed with the weight of his body. Coming up for air just long enough to free himself from his pants, Fallon breathed hoarsely as his hand slid down her side and under her hips so he could angle himself to slide inside her. “Next time we will take our time to enjoy each other. For now…,”
When she pushed her hips up taking him inside and there was no more talking. There was only sensation. Fallon took her mouth again as he drove into her with a ferocity he could not even begin to contain as Sapphira answered him with her own unbearable need. Years of being denied. Of being together yet unable to touch, kiss, rarely able to just hold each other. Outside the cave was a demon who was hell bent on destroying everything Sapphira loved in order to possess her. Inside, they were safe and warm, and the outside world did not exist. There was no one to hide from. No one to stop them. With each thrust they came closer to climax, with each thrust their power grew stronger, the prophecy finally being realized, until they suddenly spilled over the edge. Sapphira’s hands scrambled at the sheets trying to find something, anything to hang on to, screaming as her body bucked under Fallon’s. Fallon pushed one more time and joined Sapphira roaring to the heavens. Their climax so intense as it rolled over and over, them taking them into oblivion.
A bubble of power that had built around them, surrounded them flex once before, in a blinding flash of light, exploded outward. The universe held its breath as the shockwave pushed its way through, waiting in anticipation of what was to come. Light years away, animals tensed as if they heard some predator nearby ready to pounce. Every sentient being looked up from what they were doing, woke up with a start thinking they had heard something in the dark, straining to hear it again, not understanding what the feeling of unease that made their hearts race was. In the heavens the gods of this universe were in a panic as they fell to their knees, holding their heads crying out in pain as the pressure continued to build. Then the universe shuddered as it breathed out, animals and beings smiled and went back to what they were doing. The Gods screamed as the heavens shook down to its foundations. Walls began to crack, pillars crumbled, everyone ran as chaos ensued. Then as suddenly as it started it stop, and everything was eerily silent.
* * *
In a cave deep underground in the heavens, a lone figure sat on his throne of skull and bones as rock and debris rained down around him. Clenching his hands over the ends of the armrests until the bone cracked, eyes burning with a rage that threatened to melt the very walls, Malphas ground his teeth.
“Enjoy your time together, for it will be your last,” he snarled. Those burning eyes slowly turned towards the figure gagged and chained to the wall. Stupidly that figure glared back, his own eyes black with rage. A show of power that should not have been possible with the chains that bound him. Slowly rising to his feet, Malphas strolled over to the figure who he had at first thought was only a boy to use as bait to catch his prize, his eyes boring into his captive’s, trying to break through the barrier that held the information he was seeking from him. “You are not what you seem, boy. I intend to find out exactly who you are and your relationship with my pets.” The only answer he received was a silent glare that challenge the demon to do his worst. “Oh, I will, my friend. I will,” he sneered.
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes
Sitting on the white sand, his bare feet brought up so he could rest his arms loosely on his knees, Gideon wondered why he even tried. It seemed as if everything he did to keep those he loved safe only made things worse. Now he was afraid it was too late.
It started out as such a simple plan. Hide Sapphira in plain sight and then wait for the danger to pass. Who would have thought it would take this long or the cost would be so high?
Eons lost because in the end she was lost. Not lost as in her soul slipped into the darkness never to return to the light, but lost as in physically could not be found, and yet she was right in front of them the entire time. Damn Michel and his games. If only the angel had talked to him before they wiped his memory he would have ended this madness a long time ago.
Grinding his teeth, Gideon cursed his brother’s part in all this. Just as quickly he took it back. Fallon had suffered just as much if not more for his part in their deception. At least Gideon had been allowed to stay in the heavens and, even though he had not realized it at the time, keep Sapphira safe from the demons that constantly hunted her. Fallon…. Gideon shuddered. No angel, fallen or otherwise, should be subjugated to what his brother had endured these last millenniums.
And now the Unspoken One was loose and hunting the one being that even after all this time he was still obsessed with owning. The one being that could either bring them peace, or destroy them all.
There was a rustle behind him followed by a soft thud, as if something fell onto the deep sand. Gideon did not turn around to see who had landed behind him. He did not need to. His brother’s presence was as familiar as his own.
“Any luck?” Gideon asked staring out at the light blue sea stretching out before him. A beautiful view if only he was in the mood to enjoy it.
“Nothing yet,” Fallon sighed wearily. More rustling and the dark angel sat heavily in the sand next to Gideon, his huge ink black wings lying in the sand next to Gideon’s pure white ones behind them. Pushing one hand through his shoulder-length black streaked with red hair, a stark contrast to Gideon’s short blonde hair, Fallon growled in frustration, “It’s like they have vanished into thin air.” After a moment of silence, he whispered desperately, “I can’t lose her again. Not like this.”
Gideon looked down at the sand between his knees knowing how his brother felt. He could not lose Sapphira either, but then again she wasn’t really theirs, was she. That privilege belonged to another far more powerful god. One they were, at one timed, devoted to just as deeply as they were devoted to Sapphira.
One hand snaked down and idly picked up a sea shell. Rubbing it between his fingers, old memories melded with new. Where Gideon knew Sapphira was far more than what she seemed, that together she and her mate were what kept the known universe, and those unknown, from ripping apart at the seams, it still did not completely erase the bitterness he felt every time he thought of her in the one male’s arms that had made the last thousand years a living hell. Or did it erase the deep feeling of loss.
Bitterness was a human emotion he should be far above being who he was. Yet it still tormented him. More so, it seemed, than his brother.
As calmly as he could, Gideon said into the silence, “They couldn’t vanish again without help, and we would know if she was…dead.” The word practically choked him.
“They have been hidden from us before,” Fallon reminded.
The Unspoken One did not want to hide, though. He wanted to possess and once he did he would make sure they all knew he had finally won.
Fallon suddenly pushed himself to his feet, his wings fanning out behind him in agitation.
“Sitting here is not going to help us or them. Maybe if we go back to where we were separated. Pick up the trail….”
Fallon kept talking as he paced back and forth in front of Gideon, but Gideon did not hear him. His attention was on one of Fallon’s feathers that had dislodged itself from his wings and was slowly floating down to the soft sand. There was a memory that was buried deep in his subconscious that kept trying to remind him of something important. Of pain and blood and fire. Of darkness and light and unconditional love so deep that even now it soothed the ache in Gideon’s heart. Something that would help them find Sapphira.
Slowly, he reached out his hand to the feather that had settled softly in the sand. Picking it up he stared at it, twisting it one way then another. Then one of the words Fallon had uttered whispered in his head and he suddenly knew what to do.
“Are you even listening to me?” Fallon snapped.
“Back,” Gideon answered, his voice that distance when someone is thinking out loud.
“That’s what I was saying. Go back to where we…,” Fallon began again in frustration.
“No,” Gideon said grinning up at his brother. “Back.”
Fallon stared at Gideon as if he had lost his mind. Maybe he had, because what he was thinking was insane, but it just might work. Jumping to his feet, Gideon showed Fallon the feather.
“We go back,” he repeated enthusiastically. “To the beginning.”
“The beginning,” Fallon repeated slowly, staring at the feather. “As in before it all started? Time travel?”
“Are you insane? We can’t do that. It could rip the very foundations of the time continuum, not to mentions there are only two beings that have that kind of power and even they refuse to time travel.”
“Not true. You and I both know Sara has gone back in time to save us. Now it is our turn to go back and save hers.” When Fallon continued staring at him like he was insane, Gideon tried one more time. “What do we have to lose?”
“Everything,” Fallon breathed.
“Haven’t we already lost everything?”
Fallon’s eyes snapped to Gideon’s. While what his brother said was true, this was the most insane, stupidly dangerous idea he had ever come of with. So much could go wrong, yet at the same time everything already had. Gideon was right. They had nothing to lose.
“What if it doesn’t work?” Fallon asked still unsure.
“Then we try again,” Gideon said firm in his conviction.
“And if it all goes to hell and we destroy everything they have built, everything we have fought so hard to protect?”
There was an uncertainty in Fallon’s voice that made Gideon hesitated. It was a huge risk, but the feeling in his gut was telling him that it was the only way. “Then they will truly begin at the beginning because everything will be gone, including us. It is a sacrifice I am willing to make to keep them safe.”
After a moment, Fallon’s hand came up, a small smile crossing his lips. Grinning, Gideon grasped Fallon’s forearm, the agreement made and sealed in that handshake.
“For the record I still think it’s an insane idea,” Fallon said grimly.
“Noted. Now to figure out how far to go back.”
“The day of the sentencing,” Fallon said quietly. “That way we don’t run the chance of changing too much and destroy everything.”
The color drained from Gideon’s face. It would mean Fallon would have to live through the horrors that followed that fateful day all over again.
“Are you sure?”
Fallon took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “No.”
“Do you think it will be far enough?”
“Only time will tell.”
Copyright 2016 Heidi Barnes
This story came about from a Free Write that I used to do every Friday on the Kellie Elmore website that took off. She is thinking about bring back her FWF and I hope she does because it was a lot of fun. There is a lot more (an entire book actually) that I will let you what I decide to do with it, whether it is to publish it through Amazon or on here.
Have a great day! 🙂
“I’m going to let you go,” he whispered very slowly as if he was talking to a person ready to jump off a ledge. “Please to do not scream. I would rather live to see tomorrow.”
Nodding she understood, he slowly released her. Once free Sara turned to look into dark blue borderline black eyes. She had never seen such dark blue eyes before and they memorized her. Wicked thoughts sent shockwaves down low in her body clenching it tight while at the same time making it tingle in anticipation. Oh my! How could one look do all that to her? And she hadn’t even seen the rest of him.
“Hello?” he said waving his hand in front of her eyes.
Blinking, suddenly coming back to the present, Sara blushed when she saw his smirk. She got the impression he was used to this sort of reaction from girls. Then she saw the rest of him. If she thought Talon was perfect, this man was beyond perfect into Oh My God! Way beyond. The black hair that hit his shoulders and fell artfully around his face and eyes only enhanced his gorgeousness. The tight black t-shirt hugged his well tone body down to his narrow waist to black jeans. Since he was kneeling beside her, Sara could not tell what below the waistline looked like, but she could imagine.
Something soft touched her under her chin and gently pushed up. It was then she realized her jaw was on the ground and she was gawking rather unattractively. How embarrassing! Snapping her mouth shut, she felt herself heat even further.
“Leaving that open around here isn’t healthy,” he chuckled. “You never know what…or who might fly in.”
© 2014 Heidi Barnes Just a little tease. 🙂 Forever Lost will be out soon in eBook format on Kindle.
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An Empyrean Cycle
Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry Journal
Mindfulness, Philosophy, Spirituality, Meditation, Awareness, Religion, Nature Photography
Layers Of Life
Conjured by Sarah Doughty
Excerpts from book writings :)