Vala Eminence, page 17part #4 of Vala Series
“There's a lot I still don't understand,” he admitted. Like my magic. If this place has taught me anything, it's that I'm helpless against all things magical. And he used to pride himself in his knowledge. In truth, he knew just the minimum to scrape by. That's not going to cut it for the ruler of the underworld.
Smiling, his father pulled Denver in closer for an awkward hug. “You'll learn. Just stick to your guns and don't show them you're afraid. My biggest regret was not fighting back hard enough. I let them win, you see, because I was too scared.”
“Gotcha.” Denver shifted between his feet, pulling away from his father. “So uh, do you have any special requests? Quick and painless? Slow and dramatic? Can't say much for last requests because I can't get you much, but I could at least try.”
“I appreciate the gesture, but I'm good. As for how to do it, you can simply take my soul from me.”
“I don't know how to do that.”
His father frowned and Denver wondered if perhaps he'd finally managed to disappoint the man. After all, he'd let everyone else down throughout his lifetime. Even if he was only getting all of ten minutes with his father, it seemed appropriate Denver would do something to mess up the moment.
Shrugging weakly, Denver was disappointed in himself, too, for a change. “Sorry…”
“No.” His father shook his head. “Don't apologize. I doubt anyone wanted to teach you, yeah?”
“Mr. Thantos tried to teach me about seeing the spiritual realm so I could protect myself and make better wards. That was about it. My other tutor told me that my magic was only limited by my imagination. Frankly, I think they both sucked at teaching me stuff. They didn't want me to learn. Nobody does.”
“I do. They were both right, in a way. You do need to tap into the spiritual and see it, and your magic is one-of-a-kind in that as long as you can think it, you can do it. Controlling an element is limited by your confidence and energy.” His father offered a weak smile. “You don't need them or anyone to teach you anymore. Everything you need to know you'll get from me, from our family history.”
Denver exhaled slowly. “Got it.”
Chuckling, his father continued. “So that's how I want to go. When you enter the realm, you'll see me, my heart, my spirit. Take it. All of it.”
“Okay.” Denver swallowed. He closed his eyes and opened himself up once more to the spiritual world around him.
Everything surrounding the cell was a blinding white. His father, in comparison, was a dark gray, solid and unwavering. Taking in a shaky breath, Denver pressed a hand against his father's chest. Perhaps he should have said something before taking the soul of the man who gave him life, but words were escaping Denver's mind. How did he say goodbye to someone he barely knew?
So he said nothing, and pulled his father's spirit from his body, absorbing it into himself.
His father wasn't kidding when he said Denver would gain all of the knowledge from his ancestors. As soon as he took his father's soul, there was a great surge in his magical energy. Flashes of memories appeared before his mind's eye, memories that were not his own: the wedding of his mother and father, images of a once flourishing underworld, and the wedding of Persephone the First to a man he'd never seen before. Those were just a few of the things that stuck out to him, but countless lifetimes worth of information poured into his brain. Most of it was too much for him to decipher right then and there.
Denver was brought out of his trance when he felt someone grab his shoulder. He spun and faced Zach once the initial surprise wore off.
“We need to leave,” Zach said. His gaze was beyond Denver, and the young man was trembling.
A quiet, guttural growl rumbled through the dungeon. Cold wrapped itself around Denver's entire body like the embrace of a ghost. When he gazed into the dungeon using his spiritual magic, he saw a swirl of blood red and the blackest of black. He swallowed. The Devil had awoken.
Nodding at Zach, he started for the stairs. “Let's jet.”
Zach grabbed hold of Denver's arm and they teleported to the top floor of the dungeon.
“So why do you get to do that and not me?” Denver scowled. Teleporting through the building would have been easier than going down so many stairs.
“I've seen you walk through walls here,” Zach said, giving Denver a pointed look. “Pretty sure you can directly teleport to wherever you want to, but never realized it. Now you know. You'll pick up on a lot of things about this place, boss.”
Denver smirked. “Boss, I like the sound of that.”
“It's what you are. You're officially the next Hades. Feel any different?”
“A little tingly, but otherwise the experience was sadly anticlimactic.”
Laughing, Zach stepped into the hallway of the castle. “Were you expecting confetti and a party or something? If it's any consolation, the castle feels different, alive. I've never noticed so much energy here before.”
“I notice it, as well.” Before the castle of the underworld had been dull and desolate, like it was starving for sustenance. Perhaps it reflected how Dad was feeling while he was imprisoned. The castle must have some kind of a connection to whoever is in charge. Now that I'm officially the head of the household, so to speak, its strength is returning.
“So what is the first official business you want to do today as Lord Hades, ruler of the underworld?” Zach asked.
“Find my woman.” Denver said, heading in the direction of the garden. He could sense Cheyenne was there. Now is as good of a time as any to test out the teleporting thing. I mean, if a guardian can do it, why can't I?
As he walked, he focused on the garden, trying to visualize it. The warm water of the pool, the soft crashing waters of the waterfall pouring into it, the luscious, vibrant flowers decorating the area. Cheyenne in her sexy bikini was a strong enough mental image to actually bring him to the garden, and she was the first thing he saw when he arrived.
She sat up, startled by his sudden intrusion. Denver sauntered over, sitting down in the chair next to her and relaxing.
“Hey, Babe,” he said and gave her a large grin.
Cheyenne gasped. “D-Denver, what are you doing here? This has got to be some kind of a dream, right?”
He pinched her arm and was satisfied when she winced a little. “Nope, not a dream. I'm sure you think it is, because let me guess, the last thing you remember doing is taking a nap.” She nodded. He sighed. “That's Lucien's way of bringing you here. He gets you while you're sleeping and tries to brainwash you and Persephone.”
“Understand? Yeah, I figured you didn't because you don't even realize she's there.”
“Dr. Warhol told me, once upon a time, that her spirit was inside of me because of something Lucien had done.”
Denver bit down on his lower lip. “Actually, it was my fault, but we can talk about that later, fight about it, even. Right now, I want to make sure I have as much of your attention as possible. I don't know when I'm going to lose it.”
She frowned deeply, her lips pushing out into a pout and he noticed them quiver ever so slightly. “Y-your fault?”
“Please, let's focus on something else,” he begged, and grabbed her hand. “I don't know when Persephone is coming and I don't know when he is coming. Focus on this detail; I am going to protect you from him.”
“Lucien!” He gave her hand a squeeze. “He's brainwashing you and bringing you here any chance he can. I don't know what he's been telling you or Persephone, but it's all lies. He's not who he's claiming to be, and he's definitely not the real Hades. I am. That's why I'm so drawn to you. That's why I love you.”
Cheyenne gazed into his eyes, tears pooling inside of her own. “You love me?”
“Yes!” If only he knew how to express how much, but he'd never been good at pouring out his emotional guts.
It must not have mattered to her, because she flung her arms around him
A slow clap snapped Denver's attention away from her. Lucien stood in the entryway of the garden.
“Well done. I was wondering when this performance would be put on,” the demon said.
“The only one of us who's performing is you,” Denver seethed. He let go of Cheyenne and stood, ready to fight the monster, kill him, and end everything once and for all.
Lucien laughed. “I never lied to her.”
“You told her you were the heir.”
“And I will be, once you're out of the picture.”
The demon lunged at Denver, knocking him to the ground. Denver rolled back and pressed his foot into Lucien's abdomen, sending the demon backward. Flipping onto his feet, Denver stalked over toward the demon, his fists glowing with blinding white fire. Lucien had a few tricks up his sleeve as well. He moved with an insane amount of speed and grabbed Cheyenne.
He held her with one hand around her neck and the other around her waist. “Come after me, and I'll snap her neck.”
“She's too important to your plans,” Denver said, moving toward them slowly.
“Are you sure about that? You'd risk her life on a whim?”
Denver nodded. “I'm pretty sure, yeah. Either way, I know she'd rather die than see you win.” I can't be weak. I can't show fear. That was the one piece of wisdom his father had given him. He had to call Lucien's bluff.
His plan seemed to be working, because the demon's slate gray eyes went wide before narrowing once more. Lucien even stumbled, which was not like his usual calm and collected self.
“Perhaps you're right. She may be vital to my plans”
“It's over, Lucien. I have my inheritance. I am Hades,” Denver said.
Laughing, Lucien relaxed his grip on Cheyenne, but only slightly. “Being Hades would have made things easier for me, but it is not a necessity. Any Divine will do, and thanks to some of your previous errands, I now know of how I can become Divine. My father Lucifer will be released from his cell, and we will rule all of the realms.” He smiled at Cheyenne. “As long as I'm around, she's still my wife.” And then he kissed her fully on the mouth.
Denver charged forward, his rage boiling over. He would rip Cheyenne free from Lucien's grasp and then kill him. Just as Denver's hand was about grab hold of her, both she and the demon disappeared into a puff of smoke. Anger rising beyond his control, he picked up one of the tables and threw it across the garden.
“Gonna throw a temper tantrum?” Zach asked from the entrance.
Shooting him a glare, Denver picked up another table and threw it at him. The young man easily deflected the flying furniture with a casual swipe from his sword.
“I made it this far and he got away. He took her!” Denver sat on his haunches and ran a hand through his hair.
Zach moved a little closer. “So get her back.”
“Do you know where they went? I sure don't,” he snapped.
“No,” Zach said, kneeling down so his gaze was level with Denver's. “You've got him scared of you. He can't hide forever. You control the majority of his minions now.”
The dead, dull, ice blue of Zach's gaze was unnerving. Denver had to look away. “I'll find her.”
Denver clenched his fists. “He's going to wish he was never born.”
Denver returned to Vala hoping, even praying, that Cheyenne would be there as well upon his return. No calls or texts from her were on his phone, and she didn't answer hers when he called it. Desperate, he tried calling the room.
“Hello?” Halyn greeted from the other end.
Not the voice he'd been hoping to here. “Chey there?”
“Ugh, you mean you don't know?”
“Don't give me attitude right now. It's important that if she's there, you tell me. Something happened and I need to make sure she's safe,” he snapped.
Halyn grew quiet. “She's not here. What do you mean something happened? What did you do, now?”
He almost insisted that he hadn't done anything, but that would have been a lie. A lot of things that had happened to Cheyenne were his fault. Because of him, she couldn't be protected from the sins of his past. Everything had started when he had agreed to run all of Lucien's errands in exchange for his freedom. The curse upon Denver's soul allowed for him to do so many bad things with no remorse. Breaking the wards that kept the demons out of Vala was something he regretted most of all. The night the wards were stripped by his magic was the night Lucien had tricked Cheyenne into being his bride.
Everything was his fault.
“I tried to make things right,” Denver whispered.
There was a long, sad sounding sigh from the other end. “I can see how being with Cheyenne has changed you and made you a better person. She's good for you, but I've never seen you do anything good for her.”
It was true, what good had he done for the only person he'd ever loved?
You've loved her, and sometimes that's more than enough, Hades said, deep inside of his heart.
Closing his eyes, Denver clenched his jaw. “Keep your eyes open, so you don't miss it, Halyn.”
He hung up the phone, not bothering to say goodbye. “She's really gone,” he whispered. Cheyenne was kidnapped.
Unsure of what to do next, Denver sat down on his bed and the reality of everything that had happened in such a short period of time finally hit home. Not only was the love of his life taken from him, but the last of his living relatives were now dead. Ceete annoyed him sometimes, but he missed her. He missed her much more than he thought he would.
Sitting in my room and moping isn't going to do anything. Snap out of it and buck up. He couldn't sit. He couldn't take the time to mourn. Denver needed to start making a plan of action.
Hades chimed in again then. You're not going to like this, but you need to rest. You need to breathe. You need to pool your resources together before you can make any kind of plans.
His spiritual companion was right, but Denver hated being so helpless. Standing up from his bed, he paced his room for a moment before leaving it all together. He needed to check on Teague. The kid was probably fine, but the good news, cheerful smile, and innocence would be a welcome sight. The cool air between the courtyard and the infirmary would also refresh him.
Denver found Teague in one of the small rooms lying in bed next to Jewl while Anj and Zes sat off to the side. It wasn't quite the perfect family picture. Anj looked bored. He'd probably only come to be polite. While Teague seemed more than content with snuggling in close to Jewl, she didn't appear all too comfortable with it. Her smile was a little too tight and forced. All the same, Denver was happy for his friend to be so close to his family — happy and a little jealous. Rather than interrupt the moment, he stayed off to the side, watching through the open doorway.
“I think you should leave them be,” Mr. Thantos said from behind him. His voice was soft but stern. If his goal was to not disturb Teague and his guests, Mr. Thantos failed at it. Everyone in the room glued their gazes to where Denver stood.
Denver nodded. “I'll come back later.”
“No, I think you should leave them be, forever.”
“Excuse me?” His eyes widened.
Mr. Thantos peered down at him. “I believe you have done enough. Miss Loveless is missing, and a man is dead because of your efforts. You should not have gotten involved until it was the right time.”
As soon as Mr. Thantos said that Cheyenne was missing, Zes was rising to his feet and walking toward the door. Denver had to suppress a groan, but he didn't hold back his eye roll.
He glared up at the angel. “I have every plan on getting her back. As for
“Of course it is!”
“Right, don't worry, I won't tell anyone about how you've been lusting after his widow in the name of love.”
Mr. Thantos's jaw tightened, and he faced away. The angel's secret was a well-kept one, but Denver paid attention. Lucien had mentioned it a few times, and he also noticed how tender Mr. Thantos was with Mrs. Orinda. He wasn't tender with anyone.
“What do you mean Cheyenne is missing?” Zes asked, causing a nice distraction.
Denver hated that Zes cared so much; Cheyenne was not his girlfriend anymore. Rather than chew the guy out, Denver pushed past him to let Mr. Thantos answer all of the questions. Jewl took the hint and let out a soft sigh of what had to have been relief. She got out of bed and grabbed Anj gently by the arm to lead him out. Everyone was out of the room, just as Denver preferred it.
“Can you shut the door please?” Teague asked softly.
She nodded, and did as she was requested upon leaving the room. All for the better because Teague didn't need to be upset by the details of what happened in the underworld less than two hours ago. Denver was surprised Mr. Thantos even knew about what happened, but the dark angel always had a way of finding things out that weren't his business. Why wouldn't he know all about Denver's grand adventure too?
The door closed, Denver was much more comfortable with showing affection to Teague. He sat close and gave his arm a small pat.
“You feeling okay buddy?”
Teague nodded, smiling, but it soon faded. He swallowed and chewed on his lip for a moment. “Is it true? Cheyenne is gone? Someone… died?”
“Yeah, it's true.” Denver let out a long and heavy sigh.
“That never happened before,” Teague whispered.
Frowning, Denver sat back in his chair. “What do you mean, that never happened before?”
Teague closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. “I remember where I came from. I remember home. I remember everything that happened. I remember who they are.” He opened his eyes again and tilted his head toward the door.
J. F. JENKINS SERIES:
Other author's books:
- AgendasVala EminenceLegend of the TribesControlBattlefieldA Slow Burning FireVala HeritageLegend of the Forbidden
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