Vala Eminence, page 15part #4 of Vala Series
“To see my darling girlfriend,” he said and put an arm around her waist. She pulled away, and he noticed how dark her eyes were. Her eyes were supposed to be blue. They were quite possibly the most beautiful pair of eyes he'd ever seen. Instead of blue, he saw glossy, black irises. His heart sank.
Sighing, Cheyenne let go of Zes, holding a hand up as if to signal him to stay. She then grabbed Denver's arm rather roughly and dragged him off to the side.
He glanced back at Zes and snorted. “You going to give him a treat for being a good boy, later?”
“What I do with him isn't your concern,” she snapped. Her voice took on the same gravelly tone it had the other day in the hall when Persephone had taken over.
“Actually, it is my concern because you belong to me.” Pain unlike any other was in his chest — like his heart was being ripped to shreds. The last time he'd confronted her on the issue of her… thing… with Zes, he'd been hurt, but not to the point where he almost couldn't breathe. Did he finally have a heart full of light? Or was it the heart of Hades beating and bleeding inside of him. Why would anyone want to fall in love when it hurts this much to lose?
For a brief second, the blue returned in Cheyenne's eyes, and he saw her fear. She didn't understand what was going on. Furious didn't even begin to describe his emotions. When the black returned to her irises, his fists clenched together.
“I belong to you?” Persephone asked, using Cheyenne's body. “Your affair with this girl is over, boy. I have no use for you, and regardless of how she may feel for you, I find you filthy and disgusting. You aren't my king.”
Let me try, a voice inside of him urged. It had to belong to Hades. Relinquishing control over his life was not something Denver wanted to do, but he'd do anything to save Cheyenne.
“Persephone,” he said in a soft, gentle voice. “I'm more than you think I am. Remember our garden? I planted it with my bare hands and magic. We made the mural together. That thing who forced you into a marriage agreement isn't your king anymore than that boy who you're using.”
Tears filled her eyes. “You can't know about any of that. It's impossible.”
With a tentative hand, he reached out to stroke her cheek. Denver may not have been in complete control over what he was doing, but he was glad to be aware of it. If he blacked out the same way Cheyenne did, he'd be having a lot of words with his hijacker.
“Persephone,” he said again. “I've longed to say your name to you in person again for millennia. We're finally together, and you're fighting me? There's a reason you haven't been able to accept my imposter. You know in your heart that Lucien is not who he claims to be. Let the boy go. We can talk. I can prove to you that I'm telling the truth. I just need the opportunity for you to listen to me.”
He leaned in to kiss her cheek, but his lips never connected with her skin. Instead, he was shoved aside by Zes. Hades snapped out of Denver, once more giving him back total control of his body. You're the fighter.
Convenient timing for Hades to step away, but Denver didn't mind too much. He did like to fight, and he'd been itching for a rematch with Zes ever since their quarrel back in February when Denver and Cheyenne had first been caught making out next to a tree. At the time, Denver had gone easy on the guy. He'd deserved what he had coming to him. Now, the gloves were coming off.
Zes got in one more, hard shove. His strength was unbelievable, and he was able to knock Denver to the ground. Denver even slid a few feet back over the snowy gravel. When he lifted his gaze to see what Zes was going to do next, he noticed the other teen's eyes were a glowing shade of gold. Even more peculiar was how there was a red light pulsing from out of Zes's jacket sleeve on the side where his arm was branded.
Denver's eyes narrowed as he picked himself up from the ground. He charged at Zes, full on, his shoulder making contact with Zes's gut. They both fell to the ground, rolling over one another for a few feet before Denver landed on top. He pinned Zes to the ground and snarled.
“I thought you were over her Squeakers.”
Zes grunted and struggled underneath Denver's grasp. “I… am…”
“Then why are you fighting me? Just can't stand me that much?”
“You can't be with her. My master wouldn't like it.”
“What are you talking about?” Denver seethed.
A deep bark pulled his attention away from Zes. Standing across the courtyard was the rest of the family: Anj, Jewl, Teague, and their pooch. Each had a different reaction. While Anj's eyes glowed a bright blue and his fists were clenched, Jewl was wincing as if she understood that the fight was inevitable. Teague, on the other hand had wide, tear-filled, eyes — so innocent and distraught in appearance that Denver eased back off of Zes. The kid pulled on his heartstrings almost as badly as Cheyenne did.
Anj ran to his brother, the dog leading the way. He knelt down and frowned as the dog began to growl at his twin. “Easy boy, it's okay now.”
The seeing-eye-dog sat obediently, but he didn't relax. Not until Zes reached out to scratch him behind the ears, at least. Zes's eyes were their normal brown again. His wide-eyed gaze darted between the dog, his brother, and Denver, repeatedly.
Denver closed his eyes and started to walk away. He's having black outs too. I know that look all too well. But why was Zes having them too?
He stomped away. Cheyenne may have called after him, but he was too blinded by his anger to be certain his ears were working right. He could barely see straight. Talking to her was the last thing he wanted to do. Rather than go inside for class, he continued around the main building, needing the cool air to calm him.
A soft plodding could be heard behind him. Groaning, he expected it to be Cheyenne coming after him. But it was Teague's soft voice he heard.
Spinning on his heel, Denver faced the boy. “Yeah?”
“Are you okay?” Teague's wide blue eyes were still glossy. He fidgeted with his hands in front of him.
“Mmm-hmm,” was Denver's reply, though he truthfully didn't feel all that “okay.”
Teague kicked at the snow on the ground. “I saw the fight, or most of it.”
“Not a whole lot happened.”
“Thank you for not hurting him.”
With a shake of his head, Denver turned away again. He couldn't stand looking at Teague's face any longer. “I didn't hurt him because I didn't get a chance to. Trust me, if I had things going my way, he'd have a broken nose right now. He started it.”
“Plus, I don't think it was even him to begin with, if you know what I mean.” He glanced back at Teague to emphasis the point. The kid was usually pretty slow. He must have caught on, because his sad puppy-like expression became even more distraught than before.
Teague clenched his hands into fists. “I was hoping he wouldn't get lost. They told me if he was freed from his spell, then he wouldn't be!”
Immediately, the boy slapped his hands over his mouth. “I didn't say anything,” he said, voice muffled.
“You did,” Denver said, glaring. “Who said what? I expect everyone else not to tell me stuff, but I have higher expectations of you.”
A whimper left Teague's lips. “T-the Fates. O-one of them said if Zes was freed from his spell b-before Lucien tried to take over, he'd b-be okay.”
Denver closed his eyes and sighed. “You're one of them, aren't you?”
Biting down on his lips, Teague nodded.
“I'm one of the Divine. We've traded secrets now,” Denver said and moved to rest against the stone wall of the school. It was freezing outside, but he couldn't quite bear to go in yet. He still needed the cold air to shake the last of his adrenaline.
After some hesitation, Teague joined him. “I feel like I've made everything worse. Ever since I told you to help Zes, things have gotten more tense. Cheyenne isn't herself anymore. He's not like himself. Nobody is normal. I just want everything to be normal again!
“Then maybe you should remember your past and go home again,” Denver snapped. “Or don't give out crappy advice. Mind your own business. Then you don't have to deal with everyone's messes and can live in your stupid bubble.”
A fire seemed to light inside of Teague. His eyes narrowed into a sharp, piercing gaze, and Denver couldn't help but chuckle a little because in that moment he looked exactly like Jewl.
“I don't give crappy advice! Maybe you shouldn't be such a mean person all of the time. Then you could have helped him more!”
“I like being mean, kid. Get over it. Stop trying to change me and make me good.”
Teague shook his head vigorously. “I know you're not bad. I know it. You're good. Being mean is just a defense machiato!”
Laughter bubbled over inside of Denver, and soon he was holding his stomach, doubling over. “You're just like her. I can't get over it. This is hilarious.”
“Just like who?” Teague continued to glare. “And it's not funny, by the way. At all. Nothing about what's going on is!”
Denver knew he wasn't supposed to tell Teague the truth, but he could at least give the kid some encouragement in figuring it out.
He smirked. “Your mom.”
Teague's eyes went wide. “You know who she is?”
“Yup, and you will too, some day.”
He closed his eyes and breathed in, slowly exhaling through his mouth. “It'll all get better, right?”
“It has to,” Denver said. “I was told that light always conquers the darkness. Not the other way around. It just might take time.”
“Is it okay if I'm scared?”
“What about mad?”
Teague looked his way, seemingly more calm than before. “I'm sorry for saying all of that mean stuff to you.”
“Eh, it's nothing,” he said with a shrug. He had every intention of apologizing for his own behavior, but before he could utter a word Teague pushed him to the ground.
Not again! Denver thought, wondering if the teen was going to take after his demon-possessed uncle and start another fight. It wasn't until Teague pushed himself off that Denver noticed the demon standing forty feet away. Lying in the snow next to them was a bent knife. He never got a chance to act or ask what was happening.
With a simple snap of his fingers, Teague conjured up lightning that bounced between his fingertips. He pointed straight ahead of him as if he were firing a gun. The current of electricity flew from his hands, and soon a loud crack crashed through the silence of the winter. Denver covered his ears, not expecting the sound. For a moment, all he could hear was ringing as he watched Teague throw more lightning with his hands. When Denver sat up, he saw three demons on bended knee, nursing burns. The kid had only bought them more time; the demons were far stronger.
More assassins, that was the only logical explanation Denver could come up with. There was no way he was going to let Teague have all the fun.
Jumping to his feet, Denver clenched his fists, ready for a fight. The demons moved in fast as soon as they saw he was up. All three of them charged toward him at once. What he hadn't anticipated was Teague moving in front of their path.
“No!” Denver made a grab for him. Teague's jacket slipped through his fingers. When Denver tried to run after him, Teague turned his torso long enough to hurl a gust of wind at Denver. Idiot, he thought as he fell face first into the snow.
The demons attacked swiftly. One slammed against Teague's shoulder, and Denver could tell it had been dislocated instantly. The next one gave the kid a hard punch in the jaw. A low growl escaped from Denver's lips as he watched the boy crumple to the ground, unconscious. He had just enough time to at least get on his haunches before all three of the demons were upon him.
All three of them swung at the same time, easy enough for him to dodge. For being demon assassins, they sure don't seem too bright. Two of them pulled out knives while the third seemed content with only using his fists. Denver reached into his coat pocket where he kept his magic stones. He could tell the difference between them all based on touch alone. The one he was looking for was the only rough one in the pouch — fools gold, otherwise known as pyrite. As soon as his fingers wrapped around the cool, hard, metallic rock, he uttered the incantation to invoke the magic inside. And just in time.
His entire body became encased with a protective metal shell. The blades of the knives clanked on contact with his skin and broke in half. They all punched and kicked him with great force. He could still feel the pain, but it was only a tenth of how bad it would have been if he didn't use his magic. The spell would not last for much longer. Denver had to make the most of his limited window of time.
With all of his strength, he swung at one of the demons. His fist connected with the creature's gut and it sailed back into the brick wall of the building. The second one he tripped with his leg, and he was about to deal with the third as well when Ceete appeared. She literally leaped over him, kicking the last demon in the chest as she did so. After she performed an impressive-looking roundhouse kick, the demon was either unconscious or dead. It was hard to tell. She pulled out two knives from inside of her rather form-fitting jacket, and threw them at the remaining two demons. Each was impaled in the heart, becoming still instantly.
“This is why I am to be by your side always,” she snapped as she stalked over to Denver. She didn't even bother to help him up off the snow.
Denver rolled his eyes. “I was handling it just fine once I got control again.”
“You were lucky you had even an ounce of it. Both of you could have been killed.”
“Gee, you think?” He moved over to Teague, making sure the kid was, in fact, still alive before sighing with relief. Teague was obviously hurt, but it didn't seem to be serious. Then again, it’s always hard to tell with head injuries. He wasn't even sure he wanted to move the boy.
Sighing, Denver started for the nearest entrance. “I'm going to get help. Stay with him and make sure those things don't wake up to finish the job.”
“They only want to kill you,” she said.
“I'm not so sure about that. Either way, just stay with him.”
Denver ran inside, and of course the first teacher he had to see was Mr. Thantos. The dark angel had to have known something was going on because he was fully equipped, his large sword strapped to his back. When he saw Denver, his black eyes narrowed.
“Why am I not surprised,” Mr. Thantos muttered as he pushed his way past.
Denver followed. “It's already been taken care of. Teague's hurt. He needs some serious medical attention.”
Mr. Thantos didn't reply. He stormed outside. “Get away from the boy, you foul creature,” he seethed at Ceete as soon as he and Denver had returned to the chaotic mess left behind from the fight.
“I was only watching him, on orders from my master.” Ceete snarled.
The angel touched Teague's face with a gloved hand. “You are lucky he only has a mild concussion. I suggest you leave.”
“Let me help,” Denver protested.
“I believe you have helped enough as it is. I can handle this.”
Ceete scoffed. “Yes, just like you were there to protect your students when they needed you. And you call yourself a guardian.”
Mr. Thantos glared at her. “The demons went to a great deal of effort to misdirect my senses. Now, go. When I said it as a suggestion, I was merely attempting to be polite. I meant it as an order.”
Clenching his fists together, Denver was about to fight the teacher. Who was he to try and boss Denver around to begin with? Teague was the closest thing he had to a best friend. He didn't want to just abandon the kid.
With a much more gentle touch than he would have imagined, Ceete gripped his shoulder. “The child is in good care now. We must get you someplace safer before more assassins come.”
“We're ending this,” he said.
She nodded. “Yes, by some place safer, I meant the underworld. It is time for you to see your father.”
For the first time in his life, Denver stalked through the halls of Hades's castle as if he owned them. Because, he did own the castle and everything and everyone who was a true citizen of the underworld. Lucien should have been bowing at his feet and kissing his shoes upon sight. No longer was Denver going to tolerate the behavior of the demons. They were too cocky and it was time to put them in their place.
He barged into the dungeon, running down the floors. While he was pretty confident neither he nor Ceete had been noticed, he also wanted to get down to the bottom of the dungeon as soon as possible. The potential for unwanted company was great given the circumstances; nonetheless, Denver was surprised to find Johnathan Orinda in the stairwell between the fifth and sixth floor. In fact, he practically ran straight into him.
Ceete drew her knives. “How interesting to see you here.”
“I told you to tell me when you were coming down so I could join the fun. Good thing I can monitor what spells are being used. You know, who's coming and who's going and all that,” Johnathan said.
“We didn't tell you for a reason.”
“Shame, I thought you'd want all of the help you could get. Especially since I know where a lot of the traps are. After all, I helped Lucien put them together.” He smirked.
Ceete's gaze narrowed. “I'm sure you've done many things for that monster.”
Shrugging, Johnathan moved to continue down the stairs. “We've all done things for him, I believe.”
The apprehension Ceete had toward Johnathan made Denver leary of the guy as well. If a demon thought a person was bad news, then they probably were. At the same time, he still wasn't sure how much he trusted her either. For the time being he was willing to give Johnathan the benefit of the doubt.
“You can keep in front and disarm the traps as we get to them,” he said.
J. F. JENKINS SERIES:
Other author's books:
- AgendasVala EminenceLegend of the TribesControlBattlefieldA Slow Burning FireVala HeritageLegend of the Forbidden
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