"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." Anton Chekhov


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

42. Could This Day Get Any Worse?

 “I’m really scared, Dom.” Katy’s voice quivered in his ear.  He'd been struggling to concentrate as the talons dug deeper into his flesh and his mind raced frantically for a means of escape, but her words, her fear, helped him focus.

“I know, baby,” he soothed, “just hang on to me.  It'll be okay.  Someone wants me alive or I wouldn’t have made it this far.”  Dom desperately wanted to reach back, rip the talons out of his back then tear the creature to shreds.  If Katy hadn’t been part of the equation he would have done it already, damn the fiery inferno waiting below.

Katy tried to look over her shoulder, the movement causing his body to shift slightly.  Hissing out a painful breath as a long claw scraped across bone, he groaned.  “Don’t move, Red.” 

She froze, then carefully moved her mouth close to his ear and whispered, “Why is it getting so hot?  I feel like my back is on fire.”

Dom didn’t want her to see the burning river of molten lava seething, bubbling, beneath them, each lazy spiral taking them closer as the winged beast descended with the thermals.

When he didn’t answer right away, Katy asked softly, “Are we going to die?”

“No love, not if I can help it.”  He could feel the heat scorching against her back, against his arms as he clutched her to him.  It wouldn’t be much longer and they’d be at the bridge where he’d been with Daniel.  How fucked up was it that he’d climbed for hours to get out and now in minutes was right back where he started?

He was just wondering if the bat would glide close enough to the bridge for him to drop Katy, when the creature suddenly flapped its leathery wings, increasing its speed.  Katy shrieked and tightened her legs around Dom’s waist when the talons tore out of his back and the creature launched them toward a narrow opening in the rock face.  Free of the fiend, Dom spun as they landed, breaking Katy’s grip so she sprawled across the front of his body.  They skidded several feet along a dark narrow passageway.

Dom couldn’t move or catch his breath from the impact and the pain of rough stone abrading his already lacerated back.  Then Katy scrambled off him and began feverishly patting his cheeks.  “Dom?  Dom?  Oh please be okay,” she murmured.  “Come on, big guy, don’t leave me now just when things are looking up.”  She leaned over, gave him a soft kiss, then said sharply, “Come on, demon boy, don’t wimp out on me.”

When he opened one eye and looked up at her, she grinned, then wildly covered his face with kisses.  “Demon boy?”  He frowned.  “Wimp?”  Her smile was so pure and open and beautiful he shut his eyes against the sight.  He had to get her out of here no matter what it cost him.

“I know what you’re thinking,” she said, “and you can just forget it.  I didn’t come all this way to leave without you.”  Her heart in her kiss, she gave it to him freely and without reservation.  He tried to resist, but at the first touch of her tongue across his lips he moaned in surrender, pulled her across his body and wrapped his arms around her, desperately returning the kiss as fear and rage and desire surged through him.

After reassuring each other they were still alive, Katy untangled herself and crawled behind Dom, helping him sit up so she could look at his back.  His shirt was shredded and bloody, though the long rips in his skin were healing already and looked more like new scars than raw wounds, and the abrasions from sliding over the stone floor looked like nothing more than bad scrapes.  “You heal really fast, Dom,” she said quietly, running a gentle finger down one of the fresh scars.

“Yeah, it’s the demon part.  I’ve never been sick a day in my life.”  He stood up, then pulled Katy to her feet, looking her over thoroughly, running his hands from head to scuffed boots to assure himself she wasn’t injured.  “You’re all right?  Not hurt where I can’t see?”

“I’m fine, just too hot and sweaty.”  Fanning her face with both hands, she turned away from the opening and the heat, peering down the dark tunnel.  “Do you feel that cool air, or am I just imagining it?”

He took her hand and began to walk carefully into the darkness.  “I feel it.”  He didn’t tell her that cool air this deep in the Abyss was unlikely to be anything short of bait to lure him in.  It didn’t matter who--or what--was behind this.  He would bargain with his own life to get Katy out of Hell.  And surprisingly, despite his usual way of taking care of things alone, he found himself hoping Daniel and the Wardens might show up to help.

A short hike later, they came to an arched entryway leading into a vast cavern.  Katy stared, dumbfounded, at the opulent space.  Enormous crystal chandeliers filled with thousands of candles were suspended from thick gold chains placed high in the curved dome of the ceiling, lighting the immense area with a soft, almost intimate glow.  Tapestries hung on the rough-hewn walls by the hundreds, dozens of beautiful Persian carpets covered the stone floor.  And a throne, more grandiose than anything in the human realm, stood on a large dais across the cavern.  Sculpted from a single block of obsidian, it dominated the chamber with its imposing size and though the tortured figures carved across its surface were hideous, it was the way the ebony glass seemed to devour the light that was most frightening.

“What is this place?” Katy asked, her whisper a tiny echo of sound in the cavernous space.

Cursing, Dom tried to pull her back the way they’d come, but only managed two steps before a deep, arrogant voice arrested him.

“Oh, please stay, my Prince.  I’ve been anticipating this meeting so much.”

Dom turned around, though kept Katy behind him as he entered the cavern.  Narrowing his eyes, he took the measure of the creature who had appeared in the middle of the chamber.  Tall and well-built, with short black hair combed back from his chiseled face, his smile--curling the sensuous lips of an unforgivably cruel mouth--never reached eyes black and cold as the dark throne at his back.  He was dressed in faded jeans, a worn purple tee shirt that said I Am the Grateful Dead in bold white letters across the front, and red Converse high tops.  The incongruity was chilling.

“Who are you?” Dom demanded.

Pressing a hand on his chest, the man affected a hurt expression.  “Your father never mentioned me?  Not once?”

Shrugging, Dom said, “Won’t know until you tell me who you are.”  Then anger flared as he snapped, “And cut the crap.  Trust me, I’m not in the mood for bullshit right now.”

Rage burned in his eyes for a moment, then he bowed insolently.  “I am Belrath.  Once I was your father’s second, his right arm, his enforcer and trusted confidant.”  He raised his head, and glaring in open hostility, he snarled at Dom, “And true heir to this House.”

Dom stared at the demon as pieces began to fall into place.  How could he play this to his advantage?  Get Katy out of here alive?  He had to stall, trust that Daniel would come, hope that Lily wouldn’t rest until she found Katy, believe the Wardens wouldn’t forsake a half-demon who’d spent his life plotting revenge.  He felt Katy clutching the back of his tattered shirt.  The only good thing he’d ever done was love this small, ferocious woman and look how that had turned out.

“Let me guess,” Dom sneered.  “You took over after my father disappeared.  Now he’s back and you don’t want to be second best again.”  He smirked, deliberately antagonizing the wannabe demon lord.  “Oh no, wait.  That would be third best, after me now, of course.”

Belrath rushed forward, fury darkening his face.  “Ah, but what would your father give to save his son?  Are you worth his kingdom, I wonder?”  Before Dom could laugh at the ridiculous assumption his father gave a rat's ass about him, Belrath caught sight of Katy peeking around Dom’s arm and stopped abruptly.  Locking eyes with her, he smiled with an avid hunger.  “What have we here?” he crooned softly, approaching with the sinuous grace of a lethal predator.  “Something luscious to nibble on?”

Red instantly suffused his vision.  Dom vaguely registered pain scoring his muscles, barely felt his tendons stretching and flexing.  He would drown the world in scarlet, revel in the pain and death of anyone who dared touch what was his.  The wide-eyed shock on the creature who threatened her meant nothing to him.  Only tearing the bastard apart would satisfy him now.

They erupted in a collision of animosity and resentment, a whirling clash of ripping fangs and tearing claws.  Dom took no notice of the cuts and gashes he received from the older, more experienced demon.  His only focus was protecting Katy and trying to stay alive until help arrived.  The fight filled the cavern with grunts and snarls, blood splashed on the tapestries, soaked into the carpets.  And still they fought, the echoes of their battle thundering off the walls as if an entire army were at war within the cavern.

Katy was stunned when Dom had suddenly gotten…bigger. He’d grown—at least seven feet or more—and his muscles looked like solid rock under his skin.  But his fangs.  She hadn’t expected that, or how beautifully they curved, long and sharp, just below his bottom lip.  Watching how he moved, fascinated by his deadly control, she finally had to shake her head and turn away from the distraction.  She needed a weapon.  There had to be something in this chamber that would help them escape.  Besides, if Dom thought for one minute they wouldn't be leaving together, she just might need a weapon to convince him otherwise.

     Timing her move, she ran toward the throne when the two fighters rolled across the floor away from her.  Hidden from sight behind the towering throne was a huge wooden door.  Katy tried to turn the large iron ring that seemed to be the handle, but it wouldn't budge, then a sudden roar of pain drew her to the side of the throne just as Dom dropped to one knee, blood pouring down his chest from a deep slash across his neck.  Belrath slowly advanced, a look of victory in his cruel smile.  Katy knew she was out of time.  Somehow she had to distract the demon.

Frantically looking around, she suddenly had a thought as her eyes settled on the throne.  She didn't even want to touch the thing, but determined, she hurriedly climbed up into the seat.  It was so broad she couldn’t reach the armrests and her feet seemed miles from the ground as she peered over the edge.  She had never felt so small and ineffectual in her life.

Katy took a deep breath. “Hey,” she shouted across the cavern, “what do you think?  I could get used to this.”

Belrath looked away from Dom, then hissed in outrage to see her seated on the throne.  Changing course, he began to stalk toward her.  “You dare?” he growled.  “You dare to sit on the ancient throne of my House?”  Katy kept her eyes focused on the enraged face of the demon, not daring to let her gaze waver as Dom silently rose up behind him.

“I think it might be time for a female to rule the House,” she taunted.

As he lunged forward with an unearthly scream, Dom took him down, the unexpected force of his weight driving the demon into the ground.  He took a savage pleasure at the sharp crack of the demon’s nose when his head smashed into the floor.  Snarling, he grabbed a fistful of hair and bashed his face into the stone until the creature went still, a large pool of blood spreading over the floor.

 Frowning at the small gasp of fear from Katy, Dom sighed and rolled to his back, his chest heaving as he tried to catch his breath.  If he’d wanted to drive her away, seeing him for the first time in his demon form should have done it.  Hell, he didn’t even know he had a demon form until a few minutes ago.  As the urge to kill Belrath subsided, he felt his fangs retract and his muscles and bones return to normal.  Slowly getting to his feet, he finally raised his head, steeling himself for the shock and disgust he expected to see on Katy’s beautiful face.

     His father held her by the throat, a malicious smile of triumph on his face as he tightened his hand around her fragile human neck.  Katy grasped his wrists, her legs flailing as she dangled several feet off the ground.  In his true identify, the ancient demon lord Razeph was the stuff of nightmare.  Over nine feet tall with a massive build, twin horns jutted thickly from his temples, sweeping back over his head for nearly two feet before narrowing to arrow-sharp tips.  His skin resembled hide, scaly and gray, and long, black fangs curved below his wedge-shaped jaws while his eyes danced with an oily shimmer as he toyed with Katy.  Two of the bat creatures stood behind him trembling with excitement as they watched Katy struggle to breathe.   The Hound, nearly as large as a pony in his natural form, sat quietly at the demon lord’s side, eagerly awaiting his master’s bidding.


  1. Now may not be the best time to mention it is anatomically impossible for a human to give out their heart, let alone in a kiss, without it being instantly fatal.

    The book I wrote, once upon a time, had demons in it that shifted shape from humanoid to demonic as well. Although, mine were solid black in color and their heads were that of predators-e.g. wolves, cats, reptiles, etc...

    I really don't think Belrath would be dead so quick, but, however unlikely, I could be wrong ;p...

    1. Too literal, man, too literal. And I believe I gave my heart away once and barely got in back before it was too late.

      I like the changeable head thing.

      Course he's not dead, though he's gonna have a killer headache. I just needed a break in the action to get my little duckies all in a row for the next bit... ;D