They’d only just found each other, and now they’ve been separated again…
Adelaide has been dragged deep inside her own mind to discover that she and Iaoel aren’t the only two inhabiting her body anymore. While two was company three is a crowd and Adelaide’s life hangs in the balance now more than ever. Meanwhile, Tab has been forced to leave her side and entrust her care to some unlikely guardians.
So much remains unresolved just as more tribulations are piled upon them. Battles are waged at the gates of Hell and new discoveries made.
The game is set, the pieces moving, but who are the real players behind them all?
“Oh, the fuck you did!” I uttered in disbelief. Iaoel simply stood placidly in the snow, the wooden door open behind her, the warm glow of a fire bouncing along the textured rock of the cave inside. She glanced over her shoulder and turned back, one eyebrow raised in amusement.
“You kept picturing shoving me in a box or a cave, I figured if I were going to be there, I might as well make it homey.” Did this bitch seriously just use a sense of humor on me? I jerked back and instinctively reached for the guns that weren’t there. Iaoel frowned and gave a sigh. “This is supposed to be a peaceful meeting, a summit where we may talk and come to an understanding, yet still you turn to violence? I will never understand you humans.”
“I’m an American, it’s sort of ingrained that when someone tries to kill you, or have you killed, you go on and try to kill them right back. Or did you forget the multiple occasions where you’ve stabbed me in the back just like you did Tab?” I arched an eyebrow in her direction and waited for her reply. She wilted around the edges, her wings even going so far as to droop and she sighed.
“Yes, well, unfortunate errors in judgment on my part, I will have to admit. Now please, will you come inside?”
I thought to myself, come into my parlor said the spider to the fly… but I couldn’t remember the rest of the rhyme. I couldn’t remember if the spider devoured the fly or if the fly was too clever, and managed to live. It seemed like an important detail for some reason to my racing mind, even though if the outcome to some kid’s rhyme didn’t have any bearing on how things would play out here and now.
I stood for long moments and weighed my options and could only come to one conclusion. That everything I had done so far and up to this point hadn’t exactly been working. That Tab was right, I’d been going from one decision to the next to the next to the next almost entirely on an emotional response, and that leading emotional response had been and continued to be anger.
Like right now, it seethed through my veins until I tingled hot and wanted so badly to enact my rage all over her perfect angelic face. I shook with how bad I wanted to pummel the bitch, but what would it get me? I mean seriously, I had no idea what was going on outside my own head. Was I in a coma by all appearances? Was I dying? Was Raphael working on me as Iaoel and I spoke, trying to get me back? If my body died, it stood to reason I would die in here with it. Just like the old belief that if you died in a dream you died in real life too… I was pretty sure if I died in here that it would be all she wrote and that Iaoel would take the driver’s seat, wandering around the earth in her brand new Addy suit.
“There’s nothing more you can do for her,” Raphael said.
I shook my head, watching Adelaide convulse on the bed. “Addy, no. Save your strength.” I told her. It had no visible reaction, of course, and she continued thrashing on the bed.
“Tabbris, you need to go,” Gabriel said, laying a hand on my arm. “I’ll stay here with her and Raphael.”
I tensed at the contact, looking between them.
Azrael, who had been, disturbingly, looming at the foot of the bed the entire time started to say something as well, when everyone, and everything, froze. It took me a few moments, trying to figure out who in the room was still moving before I felt the additional presence in the room. I should have been warier. It’s possible that I’d been too distracted by Addy’s situation, or else the demon was truly skilled at hiding her presence. The fact that we were in the midst of a time-stop also spoke volumes about her power.
“Merihim,” I said, turning to face the corner where the woman in red was standing. Despite Azrael’s comments regarding Merihim being something of a spy for us on the inside, I wasn’t about to trust any of Hell’s residents. The current situation and comments about the Horsemen’s potential role in things to come didn’t help either. It didn’t help that I really didn’t want the Horseman of Pestilence this near Adelaide in her current state.
Merihim smiled, and slowly began to transform. I’d seen Gabriel do this enough times that it wasn’t much of a surprise as she went from a slightly curvy, lithe woman, to a slender younger man, in a red crushed velvet vest and top hat. Pestilence smiled, “Merihim, or Pestilence, or Alex, as you prefer. In any case, Tabbris, I thought we might talk, man to man. I have some information of use to you.”
“And why would I trust anything a demon has to say?”
“Ascended demon, please. And you shouldn’t. We’re known liars and prevaricators, however, that usually involves telling people what they want to hear or giving them just enough information to jump to the wrong conclusions. I’m doing neither.”
“Ascended demon, still a demon. And you’re enjoying stringing this out far too much.”
“Tsk,” he scolded, with the same easy smile, “I enjoy every moment of every day. Hells, I’d say I hate to be the bearer of bad news — but even that has its little pleasures.”
“Fine, tell me your news, and I’ll decide what to do with it. I’m surprised that you didn’t talk to Azrael, or Miri, though.”
Text Copyright © 2016 A.J. Downey
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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