Daybreak Ch. 12bypurefire©
Charisma watched with disgust as Zaide paced the length of her room. He'd long ago sent Nadia back to the place he'd kept her; she wasn't sure if it was another room or some sort of warped dungeon made to keep her friend traumatized. The longer she remained in the same space with the demon, the more she wished she had the power to destroy him. What made matters worse was that he continued to play the gracious host; she was fed, given multiple forms of entertainment, and even a change of clothes. He'd told her that his precious gem could not be allowed to wear such common clothing while his minions held up a multitude of expensive clothing. When Charisma refused to wear the clothes, he used his powers to put his preferences. The bastard had the nerve to grin at the flash of anger in her eyes and went so far as to tell her that he was looking after her best interests. Her best interests?! He might as well have told her that pigs flew to the North Pole when they needed a vacation.
"Her blood is like liquid fire," Zaide said whimsically. With every passing second, the woman's unique blood intensified the bolts of electricity that flowed through his veins. He wanted more; he wanted to bathe in the blood, to live in it. Despite the ridiculousness of the urge, he still wanted it. "Her blood is not entirely human, which means she has some sort of ability. I wonder if your blood would have the same effect."
"I'll kill you first."
Zaide smiled as he continued to pace. There was too much energy in his body; remaining still for even the briefest of seconds would drive him mad. "You do not have to worry. As much as I would like to, I cannot drink from you."
Her head told her to leave the topic alone, but instinct told her that she needed that particular piece of information. "Why not?"
"Your power is tied to your energy and your energy is tied to your blood." Zaide stopped pacing just long enough to give her a sidelong look. "Draining you means draining your powers. We can't have that, now can we?"
"How did you know about me and my powers?"
Charisma took a step back. "You- you knew my mother?"
"You take after her, though she had the power to absorb powers into herself and not transfer them."
Her head was swimming. Zaide knew her parents? "How..." There were too many thoughts running through her head at once. "What? I..."
"She was one of my best fighters. Trained my armies for decades. Brilliant warrior."
"My mother was evil?"
Zaide laughed at the question. "Good, evil... Prospective changes depending on what side you're on." He continued to pace and rubbed his temples with his fingertips as he continued to speak. "After she met your father, she decided that she didn't want any part in my plans anymore. I was fully prepared to let her go without argument." He stopped pacing to look at her. "Until I learned about you."
"It was only fair that she gave me what was due to me after leaving me so suddenly."
"Are you saying that you're my..."
"Father? Heavens no." Zaide chuckled at the thought. "Thought it certainly would have allowed me to avoid this unfortunate situation."
"You wanted my mother to give me to you?"
Charisma forced herself to take a calming breath. Anger rested heavily on her chest, and it was only a matter of time before she did something foolish. "And when she wouldn't give me up?"
"I'm not a man who enjoys hearing the word no. What she did not give freely, I took on my own."
"You killed them, didn't you?"
"If I'd killed them, would you have grown up with your adoptive family?"
"Maybe." She felt her eyes narrow when he laughed. "Why didn't you take me like you planned to?"
"Binding your powers until you were old enough for me to train you seemed easier than raising a child."
That certainly explained why no one knew of her powers or tried to kidnap her before now. "Why should I believe any of this?"
"Have I lied to you since you've been here?"
Zaide smiled at the comeback. "Your mother's name was Amaranda. Like you, she had green eyes, but her hair was darker than the midnight skies." Using his powers, he showed her one of his greatest memories of her mother.
Charisma felt her eyes water at the image of her mother using powers she acquired to slaughter a room filled with demons. The all begged for mercy, but she gave nothing. They had the same face, she and her mother, but that was as far as the similarities went. "Stop."
"If it wasn't for the fact that I need you, I would show you just how much I dislike being ordered around."
"I'm not afraid of you."
"I never thought you were." Zaide stopped his pacing to stare at her curiously. "Let us see what you are afraid of." He walked to Charisma and smiled at the nervous look in her eyes. "I can't hurt you, remember?" When she said nothing, he touched his fingertips to her forehead. "Your greatest fear is to die alone, to be as lonely as you were before..." He disconnected the link between them to stare into her wide eyes. "My, my, is someone in love with a member of the infamous Brethren?"
Charisma took a step back and forced herself to keep from hitting him. He may not hurt her, but Nadia, as well as the other hostages were expendable to him. She felt her heart drop to her feet when she realized what power he used. There was only one person she knew of who had fear recognition; Dion. "Fuck you."
"I would, but you aren't my type."
She ignored the backhanded insult and asked, "Why are you doing all of this?"
"To take over the underworld, of course. With the Order of Zebulon destroyed, their territories are ripe for the taking." Zaide resumed his pacing for a few moments before he said, "I intend to have them all, both human and demonic."
"It's rude to critique the sanity of your host." He walked to stand before her once more and nodded in approval when she did not step away. "With you by my side, giving me the powers I need to demolish my enemies, I'll be unstoppable."
He may have hid it well beneath the layers of expensive clothing, but he was, in fact, insane. "What makes you think that I would help you?"
"The same thing that tells me that you will." Zaide stepped back and crossed his arms over his chest. "Silly humans and your empathy. You'll never achieve superiority when you harbor such a weakness."
"You only consider it a weakness because you're too stupid to know how to use it." Charisma gasped in surprise when he slapped her in anger. She winced at the sting of it, but stood her ground. If this was the only way to fight back, she'd do it until he lost his patience and killed her.
"It would be better if you remembered that you are the only non Mordecai that is not a captive. Insolence will get you nothing you want."
"Neither will working with you."
"Your life isn't the only one in your hands."
Charisma let out a frustrated breath. Of course he would use the hostages against her. She decided to remain quiet, lest she did something that got someone killed. Once they got out of this, she would have a serious talk with Nadia. What in the hell was she thinking, sending her to the madman?
"Ah, our guests have arrived. Let us greet them together."
She opened her mouth to protest, but found that the effort was futile as he used his powers to teleport them to a large hall. The white and black checkerboard floor only seemed to emphasize the large size of it, and the fact that the only furniture in the room was the large throne and matching chair at the front. All of the windows were blackened, making the candlelit room seem eerie and uncomfortable. Charisma was sure that that was the effect Zaide was looking for. There were dozens of Mordecai present, most likely to be witness to what was to happen.
She watched as Jameson and Andraemalek were led into the room and would have run to him had Zaide not placed his arm around her waist. He was making it clear that he was the one who controlled the situation and that she had no say in what happened. She noticed that neither brother had a weapon, but they weren't bound. Why would they be? Zaide most likely had the power to subdue them with the simple flick of a finger. Wonderful; something else for her to worry about.
What was she talking about? Had she known about her power and the role she was to take, she would have done everything she had to do to prevent this situation. It made no sense for her to try to place blame on anyone other than Zaide, the mastermind behind this nightmare.
"Welcome. I'm glad you accepted my invitation." Zaide pulled Charisma toward the two chairs at the head of the hall and forced her to sit down before he took his place at the throne.
"Cut the shit, Zaide," Jameson said, "What are your terms?" He was relieved to see that no harm had come to Charisma, but the sight of the demon's hands on her set his blood to a boil. He had to remember that he was on unfamiliar territory and that he could easily be made into a living statue.
"Aren't we frank," Zaide replied with a smile.
"No, I'm Jameson. And you're scum."
Zaide narrowed his eyes as he sat back in his seat. He never liked it when people insulted him. Not since... No, he would not think of that right now. Turning to look at Charisma he said, "You know, she is quite a keeper. Can make a man extremely powerful."
Jameson was done playing games. "What did you want, Zaide?"
"Your powers for one." Zaide smiled at the incredulous look on Charisma's face before he turned to the men in the room. "The underworld, to see the Brethren wither and die for getting in my way. Stuff like that."
"You know we won't let that happen," Jameson said. He wanted so badly to throw a bolt of fire at the son of a bitch but not only was he too close to Charisma, but he would easily block it. Once he got her out of the way, he could concentrate on battle tactics.
Zaide laughed at the outrageous boast. "You act like you have a choice in the matter." Raising an arm, he teleported the not-so-human woman into the room. Within seconds, she and the half breed tried to run to each other, but he stopped the nonsense with a quick flick of the wrist. "Of course the stench was Belial. And here I thought she belonged to you, Flame Boy." Zaide watched as Jameson glanced at Charisma and laughed again once realization dawned. "Ah, I see. You two came for your precious women." He brought his attention to Andraemalek, who's skin began to darken and turn to its natural demonic state. "Tell me something; did you know that her blood is enough to drive me insane? She's not even my type, but I almost want to keep her to see if everything else is as intoxicating."
Andraemalek let out a feral roar as he lunged for Zaide. He found himself frozen in place but continued to struggle against the hold Zaide had on him. He would kill the demon and find a way to bring him back from the dead just so that he could kill him again.
"No, Andrae. Stop."
Zaide raised his brows in interest as he watched the half breed calm down. "She's even got the power to tame you." He smiled at Andraemalek's warning growl but decided to focus his attention on Jameson. "Back to business. As much as I would love to have all twelve of you assholes here, I think what I have planned is a lot more fun."
"Why play games?" Jameson asked, "Set the women free and do with us as you will."
"I plan to do just that, but I'm using the women."
"Leave it to a Mordecai to hide behind a woman." Jameson found himself smiling at the anger that was quick to take over the demon. Good. Let him get angry; he'd make a mistake.
"I was planning on being a gracious host, but I have now changed my mind." He looked at Andraemalek and ignored the deadly stare he was given. "Belial, do you love this woman?"
Andraemalek remained quiet. There was no way in hell he would give Zaide anything. His main concern was getting to Nadia and getting her to safety before he beat the life out of the demon.
"I really don't like the silent treatment," Zaide said. A scant second later, he used the back of his hand to strike the woman's face. Both of his guests and Charisma cried the woman's name as she stumbled backward. "Answer me or the rest of Nadia's life will not be pleasant."
"Yes, I love her," Andraemalek answered. He knew that he'd shifted to his demonic form; he was never able to remain human when such intense rage coursed through his system. Killing Zaide would not be enough; he would have to rip the demon apart limb by limb first.
"Good boy," Zaide praised. He turned to Nadia and licked his lips at the drop of blood that trickled down the side of her mouth. "Do you love him?"
Nadia was quick to reply. "Yes, I do."
"You mush have been really desperate for a date." Zaide turned to Andraemalek and tilted his head in thought. "Andraemalek, fearsome warrior. Your abilities are useless to me since your powers are tied to your life. Nice insurance policy you animals have." He ignored the half breed's loud growl and continued, "I suppose I could be gracious enough to let you live a while longer. Don't want you to miss out on the fun." To demonstrate his power over everyone in the room, he leaned over and kissed the side of Nadia's neck. Her skin seemed to smell sweeter than it had before, and it only made him want to sink his teeth into her delicate flesh once more. Instead, he pulled away from her and said, "I just might have to let you live as well, pet."
"Get your hands off her," Andraemalek said. He knew that his voice had turned guttural, threatening. The second he had control over his body, he wouldn't hold back.
Zaide only turned to look at Jameson as he said, "Give me your power and I will."
Jameson nodded his agreement. He'd already expected that request and if it meant protecting Nadia and Charisma, he would do anything he was asked. Their lives meant more than his ability.
"That was quick." Zaide said.
"No use beating around the bush," Jameson replied.
"And here I thought you'd be more fun." Zaide motioned to Charisma to take Jameson's powers. He watched closely to make sure no one came up with any brilliant ideas. She mouthed an apology to the fire thrower and he almost laughed. Leave it to a human to feel she had responsibility for someone else's brilliant plan.
Jameson had to remember to restrain himself when Charisma touched him. It would have been easy to grab her and shove her behind his back. Instinct told him that Zaide was anticipating a move like that, which meant that the situation would have escalated. For the first time in his life, he wished his father was available to help. Roycelyn was the only being he knew of who not only had the power to subdue Zaide, but would be willing to join the fight. At least he hoped he would; one could never be sure about his father.
He never expected the pain that came with the extraction of his powers. When Charisma accidentally switched his powers with Liam, he'd felt a cold burn sizzle down his spine. Now, it felt as if someone had placed him in a compressor and slowly worked to squeeze the life out of him. Jameson didn't flinch, but he did hold his breath. It felt as if the pain would never end; Zaide's torture was more bearable than this. Just when he thought that he would fall over from the effort of seeming emotionless, Charisma pulled away from him. The second she stopped, the pain ceased. He took a breath and looked at her; her skin was red and she looked ready to hurl. An intense urge to hold her took over him. Seeing the woman he loved in such a situation made his stomach lurch. He was supposed to protect her, do any and everything possible to keep her from danger. All he'd succeeded in doing was getting her and the woman he considered a sister caught by the enemy.
"Come here, Charisma." Zaide watched her walk to him and waited until she stood in front of him before saying, "You know what to do next." He hissed out a breath when she touched him. There was a moment of discomfort as he absorbed the power but it faded in moments. "Very nice," he praised before stepping away from her. Curiosity and excitement got the best of him and he eagerly threw a hand out. A burst of flame shot out and hit one of his guards at the far end of the room. Zaide ignored the tortured screams and turned to Jameson. "Since you were so cooperative, I'll give you special preference. "Do you love the woman?"
Jameson didn't hesitate as he said, "I love them both."
Zaide tsked at the answer. "No use beating around the bush, right Flame Boy?" He placed his hand on Charisma's back when she tried to move away from him. The game just wasn't the game if there wasn't close proximity. "Do you love Charisma?"
Jameson brought his eyes to Charisma. She did not look at him, but he knew that she wanted to hear the answer. For the briefest of seconds, he could have sworn that he saw hope on her face. Hope that he did, in fact love her. "Yes, I love her."
"How sweet." Zaide sat back in his seat and causally crossed one leg over the other. "She loves you too, you know." The look of shock on Jameson's face was classic. He would have loved to take time to exploit that, but he had other matters to take care of. With a clap of his hands he announced, "Two happy couples."
"I am going to enjoy tearing you apart," Andraemalek announced. He glanced at Nadia, who, like him, had remained exceptionally quiet. She didn't look scared, but the potent scent of her fear was strong enough to make his stomach turn. He'd never known her to be so frightened.
"Let's play a game." Zaide stood and walked to his quests and made sure to keep them restrained as he touched his fingertips to their foreheads. "One of the nifty gifts Charisma bestowed on me was fear recognition." He watched as the men shifted their eyes to look at each other, but paid no mind to it. "I suppose you should know that the Belial's greatest fear is losing his precious Nadia. Tell me something, Jameson; would choosing your happiness over your brother's constitute betrayal?" Zaide smiled at the hesitant and questioning looks on Jameson's face before he continued, "I mean, betraying a brother is your greatest fear. I wonder how that would work."
Jameson did not like the direction Zaide's twisted game was headed. "You need them both."
"Not really. The second Charisma gives me the power of mind control, I won't really need her to transfer powers to me, will I?"
"You couldn't stand the thought of others doing your dirty work."
Zaide wasn't in the mood to agree with that very important fact. "I'd learn to deal." He remained quiet for a moment, then moved to stand between the objects of his game. "So choose, Jameson; Nadia, or precious Charisma. Who dies?"
Andraemalek let out another roar of outrage and used all of his strength to fight the hold Zaide had on him. His efforts were useless, but he didn't give up. There was no way in hell anyone would put their hands on Nadia. Not again.
Jameson completely agreed with his brother's feelings about the situation. He knew that Zaide was sick, but he never guessed that the demon was so sadistic. "No," he said, "I won't choose."
"So I'll kill them both."
"No!" Nadia screamed. She looked from Jameson to Andraemalek before she said, "Remember what I told you; the Brethren is most important."
Andraemalek shook his head in denial. "I will not lose you again." He'd barely gotten over her last death. To even think that she'd be taken away again... No, he could not let that happen. "No."
"We don't have a choice," Nadia reasoned, "It was supposed to happen."
"I wasn't allowed to say," whispered, "I have to go."
Andraemalek fought against his restraints again. He needed to go to her, to talk sense into her. She wasn't supposed to die; she was supposed to be with him. They were having a house built in paradise, a home where they could raise their children. Death was not an option. "I will not let you sacrifice yourself."