Haunted Prey Ch. 01bypurefire©
If you have not read "The Order" or "Daybreak", it is highly suggested that you go back and read those first as this chapter contains spoilers.
There wasn't much time left. He'd taken too long getting inside; there were too many sentries on guard. Fighting them off had been harder than he'd imagined. He was the only one fighting. The sudden sound of approaching footsteps had him crouching, ready to attack. The dim candlelight in the barren hallway didn't allow him enough of an advantage to assess how many he had to fight this time. There were three - no, four - and each one of them were heavily armed; the familiar clanging of metal weapons made him sigh in relief. He used his back to slide back upward into a standing position seconds before he made his presence known.
He didn't give them time to reach for their weapons. He didn't give himself the chance to look at their faces. He lifted his hands allowed the bolts of electricity to burst forth from them. His enemies seized violently as the unbearable volts of bright blue energy consumed them. They couldn't scream; the intensity of the voltage paralyzed them into silence. Within seconds, the only evidence left was charcoal dust.
He grunted in frustration when he was attacked from behind. How could he have been so careless as to forget to mind his surroundings? That was an easy enough question to answer; he had to get there before it was too late. He turned in time to receive the powerful uppercut his opponent threw. He stumbled backward a few steps before regaining his balance and made quick work of throwing his hands up to launch another series of electric bolts. The move only succeeded in having his hands pushed to the side. Shit, his attacker knew what he could do. While that only meant that he was close to his goal, he also had to revert to classic combat, a form that might take too much time. It wasn't as if he had a choice, the charcoal colored demon used its fearsome looking talons to slash at his chest. The demon made his mark; he clutched his chest in pain for only a second.
And then he heard her scream.
Rage and determination coursed through his veins as he balled his fists. One solid punch to the demon's horned face had his opponent flying backward. He didn't allow the demon a chance to gain its feet; he continued his attack. He didn't care that the demon's horned face cut into his hands or that the hardened skin comparable to a ceramic pot bruised his legs; he would not stop until he'd cleared this obstacle. When the demon dropped to its knees in exhaustion, he used the opening to electrocute the enemy. The bolts of electricity burned his raw, open wounds, and it felt as if he'd placed his hands in hot acid. He didn't stop until the demon was nothing but a pile of dust at his feet.
He remained still for only a moment to ensure no other surprise attacks. The sound of another scream made him throw caution to the wind. He ran in the direction of the pained sounds, praying that there was enough time. His heart felt like jackhammer in his chest and had he taken a moment to stop, he would have seen how much his hands shook. He was dizzy with fear and panic; he didn't even stop running as he shot approaching demons with electricity. His goal was to make it to the large double doors at the end of the barren hall. Nothing was going to stop him. He used an electrical surge so intense that it was white to blast the doors open. And has he ran into the room, he stopped tat what he saw.
There at the head of the room, a large demon, much like the one he fought in the hall, stood, shifting color as it grew in size. In its hand was a half eaten heart. A human heart. He could only stare in horror as the demon completed the shift and retained its charcoal color. He knew, even from the distance between them, that its skin would feel like ceramic. And when the demon shifted eerie yellow eyes to him, he knew that he was too late.
He'd wasted too much time.
He gasped for breath as he came awake. A thick layer of sweat covered his bare chest and caused his wild hair to cling to his face. He surveyed his surroundings; three white walls led to the large glass doors that took up the length of the fourth wall. The drapes had been drawn, leaving him with a view of a star-filled sky over bright city lights. He looked up and sighed at the familiar steepled ceiling and wooden ceiling fan hanging from the apex. He was in his bed. He was home.
He'd been dreaming again.
"Shit," he mumbled as he rolled out of bed. That made four times this week that he'd had the same dream. With each dream, he woke up in a cold sweat, disoriented and anxious. He hadn't thought about it since... He groaned angrily as he padded toward the kitchen. Alcohol. He needed massive amounts of alcohol to stave off the oncoming headache he was getting. As he walked, he considered which form of poison he'd go for; whiskey made him emotional, and considering he was looking to numb himself from the pain coursing through him, that option was out. Brandy made him calm and relaxed; it would soothe him enough to at least get some rest if he couldn't go back to sleep. But he didn't want to relax. Relaxing made him think and he didn't want to think. He wanted nothing more than the dark abyss that forced him to lose himself.
Tequila. It was hard, and it was the fastest route to finding that abyss. Yes, tequila was his weapon of choice tonight.
He'd just crossed the threshold that led to the kitchen when he noticed the light coming from the living room. He hadn't left that on when he went to sleep. He really wasn't in the mood to deal with incompetent thieves tonight. He considered launching a sneak attack on the bastards, but changed his mind at the last minute. Walking proudly into the living room to face his adversaries, he stopped at what he saw.
A lone man sat in his plush and overused reading chair, an over-worn copy of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein in hand. His dark brown hair was mussed and looked windblown, though it was obvious that that was his preferred style. The man's dark brown eyes were intense and seemed to bore into the surprised man standing in his underwear. He would have smiled, but he didn't like the way the action pulled on the sickle-shaped scar on his cheek. Instead, he merely nodded his head in greeting.
"What are you doing here?"
The man in the chair tilted his head to the side curiously as he replied, "Is that any way to talk to your older brother?"
"Don't give me that big brother bullshit, Alexis. What are you doing here?"
Alexis stared at his brother and felt the sides of his mouth turn up in the beginnings of a smile. His brother's brilliant green eyes were narrowed in annoyance and his thin lips were pursed in annoyance. "I thought it was obvious that I'm reading a book."
"You know what I mean."
"Lindsay, can't a man visit his brother?"
Lindsay felt his eyes narrow even more at the statement. Though he was somewhat happy to see his brother, he did not appreciate the unannounced visit. "I told you bastards never to come here unless-"
Lindsay stopped cold at his brother's words. Alexis couldn't be saying what he thought he was saying. But he had to be; he'd told every single on of his brothers never to visit him unless there was a death in the family. "Who?"
Alexis sat back and watched as Lindsay took a seat on the large maroon couch docked against the far wall. He hated to be the bearer of bad news, but as the head of the family and unofficial leader of The Brethren, an elite group of demon hunters, he felt compelled to inform Lindsay of what had happened.
"Out with it already." Lindsay knew that Alexis was infamous for his quiet nature; the brunette rarely ever spoke as he preferred to observe what went on around him. While it made his brother quite the perceptive person, the trait did nothing to ease his growing anxiety. "Who died, Lex?"
Alexis had expected a more detached reaction from the self-proclaimed loner. It satisfied him to know that Lindsay was more compassionate than he cared to let on. "We had two sisters."
This, Lindsay was not expecting. "What?"
"Charisma is Jameson's woman. They met six months ago when he and Liam saved her from an attempted kidnapping." Alexis was as concise as he could manage as he told Lindsay his story. Zaide, the leader and creator of the Mordecai, demons that lived on the souls of humans, wanted Charisma for her ability of power transference. His initial plan was to capture as many magical beings and humans with paranormal abilities as possible and have her transfer their powers to him.
"But Mordecai don't have the capacity to take in abilities like that," Lindsay interrupted.
"Zaide did," Alexis replied on a nod, "Something about him being the first."
"Obviously his plan failed if you are telling me that she's with Jameson now." Lindsay watched as his brother nodded before continuing his tale. Apparently Zaide had managed to capture Charisma, as well as another and had diabolically gotten her to give him Jameson's ability before the tables were turned on him. "What happened to give you guys the upper hand?"
Alexis sat forward in his seat and rested his elbows on his knees. He stared at the ground before he took a long, tired breath. "Nearly four months before we ever knew about Charisma-"
"Lex, why are you starting another story when you haven't even finished the first one?" Lindsay didn't like the run around and would be damned if his brother took him for a spin.
Alexis ignored his brother as he continued. "Her name was Nadia, and because she knew too much about our world, The Order of Zebulon contracted Andraemalek to kill her."
Lindsay waited for Alexis to continue and found himself sighing in frustration when the brunette remained silent. "Finish it, Lex."
"D. ended up falling in love with her, and she with him. He double-crossed The Order and long story short, they killed her."
"How does this tie in?"
"The old man brought her back."
Lindsay knew that Alexis spoke of their father, a member of the High Council. The Council was responsible for creating the Brethren after Roycelyn, their father (and member of the Council), formulated a plan to create his own personal army of fighters by impregnating women on the human realm. The 'brilliant' plan yielded twelve demigods who were forced to walk away from their lives to act as the High Council's personal bouncers while their father was banished to another realm. "He gave her an ability?" It was generally known that for a member of the High Council to bring a being back from the dead, a part of themselves would have to be given away. The sacrifice usually manifested itself in given the lucky beneficiary a paranormal ability.
"She became a Daemis."
"Wow," Lindsay said on a breath. A Daemis was one of the most powerful oracles ever created. They didn't simply see what was to happen for the simplest of decisions could alter the future. The things Daemis' saw were destined to happen; nothing could be done to change their prophecies. "She must be a valuable asset to you."
"We never saw her as an asset."
Lindsay found himself frowning in confusion. "Why do you talk about Nadia in the past tense?"
"I told you we had two sisters, remember?"
A sense of dread washed over Lindsay at his brother's words. "What happened?"
"I told you that the tables were turned on Zaide after he captured Charsisma." At Lindsay's nod, Alexis continued, "He captured Nadia as well and forced Jameson to choose which one of the women he wanted to die."
"Both women wanted Jameson to choose her, but Nadia must have been better at convincing him. Roman witnessed the whole thing. He told me that she foresaw her death, the very reason why she implored Jameson to choose her."
Alexis stared at the ground as he said, "Ziade drained her of her blood before he stabbed her in the heart."
Lindsay sat quietly for long minutes, shocked by what had happened in the space of ten months. Part of him was upset because he wasn't told of his new family or that there was the potential for him to help. Another, more secret part of him was glad that he wasn't given the chance to become close to the two women. He'd had his fair share of watching women he cared about die in front of him. He refused to go through it again. "Tell me you killed the bastard."
"His captives banished him to another realm."
"That's not good enough."
"Nothing ever will be, but it was the simplest solution considering everything that happened."
Lindsay figured that his brother made sense. Based on what he was told, Zaide was one powerful demon. It was better that he was banished to another realm instead of potentially hurting anyone else in the battle trying to kill him. "How is D.?" Alexis shrugged silently, immediately annoying him with his stoic behavior. "Do you know where he is?"
"Only the twins know."
"Why did you tell me all of this?"
"You needed to know."
Lindsay shook his head as he said, "If that was the case, you would have told me six months ago, when it happened. What does all of this have to do with me?"
"Absolutely nothing. I simply figured that I would tell you what happened while I was here."
"Which brings us back to the question of why you're here."
Alexis almost smiled at how quickly he managed to rattle his brother. Lindsay was known for his brooding and intense personality. He was also known for his lack of patience. If he wanted something, he had to have it that second or there was hell to pay. "I'm here to help you."
"I don't need help."
Alexis watched as his brother stood and walked to the small countertop that held all of his liquor. Lindsay reached for a brandy sifter before he poured himself a good amount. "You should meet Charisma." Alexis denied the offer of a sifter of his own with a shake of his head as he continued. "She's a bit of a skeptic, but she's sweet."
"No, thanks," Lindsay replied. He gulped down a large amount of the liquid and allowed it to warm his insides pleasantly. Growing close to any female was absolutely out of the question. He was alone for a reason.
"You have to pull yourself out of hiding sometime."
"I said no, thanks."
Alexis sat back in his seat and watched his brother polish off three glasses of brandy. Though it had been nearly two centuries since he'd seen Lindsay, the men kept in contact with letters, emails and semi-regular phone calls. As far as he knew, the loner rarely left home and spent his time reading, as evidence by the pile of books littered on the coffee table. "If you don't want to come home, that's fine. But you should get out of this..." Alexis looked about the room, searching for the appropriate description. Dull grey walls were barren and only emphasized the maroon couches and reading chair. A black coffee table and matching end tables gave the room a dark feel and paired with the ominous chrome chandelier hanging from the ceiling, he felt as if he was in a dungeon. "... Mausoleum seems to be the best word for this."
"It's a condo, Lex."
"If you say so." The only aspect of the room that could be considered bright and welcoming was the liquor display, and that was because of the way the light glittered off the bottles and surrounded glasses.
Lindsay shook his head in annoyance as he poured himself another glass of brandy. "And where, exactly, were you expecting me to go?" He was convinced that his older brother was sending him on some oddball mission simply to get him out of his house. He wasn't about to fall for it.
"Wherever the wind takes you."
"That's original." Lindsay felt his eyes narrowing once again when his brother only shrugged in answer. Was he seriously supposed to follow this bullshit advice? "And what the hell am I supposed to do after I follow this... wind?"
Lindsay lowered his glass in shock as he asked, "Listen?"
Alexis nodded and looked away from Lindsay's surprised and curious expression. "Listen to the music."
Lindsay had to put the sifter down before he dropped it and wasted precious brandy. Not only had his brother traveled hundreds of miles to tell about sisters he wanted nothing to do with, but he was telling him to follow the wind until it led him to music. Alexis was always an odd one, but that was because of his silence, not his cryptic words. Lindsay wanted to say something, but found that he could not form any words. His brother had stunned him into silence, and it wasn't even because he appeared to be high on some serious drugs.
Lindsay was stunned because his brother's eyes were glowing.
* * * * *
He wasn't exactly sure why he wanted to go out walking at two in the morning. Lindsay usually found himself engrossed in one of the many novels littered throughout his condo or sleeping. But he couldn't deny the urge to go for a walk. So he dressed himself, stepped outside of his building, and looked around. As he expected, there wasn't anyone outside; the long street crowded with apartment buildings and condos was barren, save for the random car that drove through. Lindsay looked left, then right, unsure of where he wanted to go. He knew that there was a nearby park towards the left, but there was also a fantastic view of the bay on the right. The sudden indecision prompted him to turn around to go back into his building.
Lindsay stopped at the faint and pleasant breeze that brushed over his skin. He tilted his head when he thought he heard a voice. A woman's voice. A second later, he shook his head and searched for his keys. Another breeze washed over him. This one was stronger than the first, and Lindsay was sure he heard the word 'left.' He stopped for a moment, and felt his eyes narrow dangerously when he remembered Alexis' words. His son of a bitch brother was playing games with him and had the bastard not left earlier that morning, Lindsay would have shown him just how much he wanted to play. For three days he was fed the 'follow the wind' mumbo-jumbo. And now he was going on two in the morning walks and hearing voices in the wind. "Bullshit," he murmured.
But that didn't stop him from going left. Lindsay kept his senses on high alert as he walked, waiting for the moment his bullshit brother would step out of the shadows. He'd be dead once that happened, but Lindsay couldn't find the compassion within him to care; it was rude to barge in on someone's space, give him cryptic messages, then go so far as to play tricks. All of this to a brother, one of his blood! It was cowardly, it was inconvenient, and most importantly-
Lindsay stopped at the faint sounds of a familiar nocturne. The notes barely registered over the sounds of the wind that grew in intensity behind him. For a moment, he felt as if he was being pushed in that particular direction. He wanted to turn away, wanted to go back home, but realized much too late that he'd long ago continued to walk toward the music. He didn't stop until he was in front of the old brick building, staring up at the lonely lit window. Yes, it was a piano nocturne, but he didn't remember the name of it. Lindsay was only able to concentrate on the music, the passion behind the notes that were played. Every chord held, and every note trilled filled him, held him in suspension. He wasn't listening to the music, no; he was the music. He was every note and every chord progression. An intense feeling of longing and desperation washed over him and he just knew that he could stand in that very spot forever if it meant feeling like this.
As the final notes of the nocturne bled into one another, Lindsay found himself lifted out of his trance. He looked around the deserted street, realizing he was nowhere near the bay, given that he'd walked in that general direction. He didn't know where he was; he'd never had reason to wander to this particular section of town. Jones Street; that was what the street sign said.