Shadow Games

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Chapters 15

Kylia followed closely behind Persephone as they navigated the quieter halls of the house. Persephone wasn’t exactly sure what she was doing but it seemed better to be mobile, instead of sitting and waiting to be found. She took a quiet breath as she moved closer to the end of the hallway. She didn’t know which way would lead to where she wanted to go. Vin had taken off leaving the two women to find their own way to safety. Persephone would have been angrier at him if she hadn’t been so focused on blocking out the high emotions. A pang of guilt hit as she found herself backing into Kylia, using her as a buffer. Her shoulders sagged in relief when the screaming bouncing around her head dulled.

“What’s going on?” Kylia asked softly.

“Sometimes it’s too much, that’s all.” Persephone breathed as she set her determined gaze towards the sound of fighting.

“You sure?” Kylia asked as she followed Persephone’s gaze. All she could do was nod as she straightened her shoulders.

Persephone had spent so much time hiding from what her ability could be and anger thumped through her. Her feet started to carry her towards the screams and clang of metal, her foot falls matching the heated pulse of the blood through her veins. Too long she had been a timid little demon . The staccato of her boots on the hardwood floor became more urgent the closer she got to the fight. The slow burn of her rage insulated her from the emotions slamming against her psyche. She was amazed her head hadn’t exploded by now. But she couldn’t let that distract her, not now that she was set on destruction. Kylia dropped back and Persephone felt it more than saw it and she stopped. The ring of steel became sharp as she rounded the corner. She stopped short when she finally saw the fray. James stood with his back to Elira as demons surrounded them. His patent smirk had turned into a vicious grimace as he swung his long sword again, separating the arm from a demon that got a little too close. The clatter of metal on the floor brought Persephone back from her thoughts and she pressed her lips into a thin line. She let the emotions pour into her, she knew this was going to hurt but she knew exactly what to do. A niggling past guilt threatened to stop her but she pushed away the thoughts of Lukas. Her head swam with the flood she was letting in unchecked. Channeling this much anger and fear threatened her sanity but the flow of emotion was dulled by her own and her vision cleared. Persephone squeezed her eyes shut at another sharp clang of steel.

A grunt from Elira almost broke her concentration as she fisted her hands. Everything she had let in she started to channel outward.

“Sephie?” At Kylia’s frightened whisper, Persephone’s eyes opened. Instead of the soft gray they were a shimmering gold that flashed as they darted around the room.

“It’ll be alright.” She said through gritted teeth and Kylia backed away.

There was too much, too much raw emotion hitting her in waves. Every nerve in her burned with the raw power she let run through her. Her eyes met Kylia’s and the look of fear there threatened to quell the rage she’d let take over. With a shuddering breath, Persephone willed herself to focus and control what was trying to tear her apart. With a deep thrum of power that shook the air as she fully reversed the the flow and held a hand out. Directing the raw emotional power, she lost all sense of control and screamed as it poured out in a violent torrent of unseen force. The demon that had been about to rush Elira was suddenly missing a fist sized chunk from the center of his chest. Kylia’s scream spun Persephone around as the Elf backed away from the swing of an ax. The world turned red and Persephone was moving before she’d consciously decided to and grabbed the demon by the throat, forcing him against the wall. With a pulse of power the demon’s head disappeared in a spray of thick dark blood. Screams brought a fresh wave of emotion slamming into her and the force made her stagger. Persephone slowly turned around as she felt more than saw her body start to glow with the over flow of power she no longer had control of. She felt her feet leave the floor as the force of it lifted her. Panic shot through her and only added to building power. Her chest heaved as she closed her burning eyes and gave complete control of herself over to what she knew was going to happen. Persephone could only hope that those she cared for would make it out of this.

James spun with a sweeping blow to the nearest demon and his mouth dropped open seeing the little demon, the light blindingly brilliant. Sweeping his arm around he grabbed Elira around the waist and lifted her in a jerky motion.

“Move! Get out!” He called out to Kylia as he pulled a now half conscious Elira from the room the Elf scrambling in his wake. Persephone’s only bit of control over herself manifested in a cruel grin as she heard the door slam behind her. Her head snapped back and a guttural scream broke free from her already raw throat. The glow of the power around her pulsed and grew as if she were about to explode with it, it pulsed outward blindingly. The handful of demons that were able to run vaporized in the blink of an eye. They hadn’t had time to scream let alone find shelter from her. Persephone didn’t know exactly when the sound of her voice had given out but as her body burned from the inside she still attempted to scream in agony. With the power spent there was no gentle lowering to the floor, no movie like landing to help lessen the pain. Persephone dropped like a stone to the floor in a heap. Panting she cracked her eyes open just enough to see a dark shape appear before she blacked out.

***

Serina shifted through the shadows feeling Alec on her heels. His was starting to put her on edge for a whole new set of reasons and the emotions bothered her to the point where she started grinding her teeth. She stopped and spun around to confront him. She stopped as she glared at him in the darkness. The shadows drifted around him, making his eyes and hair glow. She blew out a breath as some of her anger deflated.

“Why are you following me?” Serina asked as she refused to meet his eyes. She watched the shadows swirl around them as she waited for him to respond. He was taking an infuriatingly long time when his soft intake of air made her look up.

“To make sure you’re safe?” He answered sarcastically but concerned. She rolled her eyes and looked away again.

“Why does it matter to you?” Serina breathed as she felt the last of her anger leave her.

“It just does, alright?” Alec said a little more sincerely as he took her hands in his. She looked down at their intertwined fingers and sighed softly before shaking loose from his grip.

“Thought that was over and done with.” She said jokingly, but her tone fell flat. It was Alec’s turn to roll his eyes as he breathed a light chuckle

“I’m not as callous as some would have you believe. I do care about people despite what I am.”

Serina shook her head and turned from him, continuing on paths she’d memorized.

“I tend to reserve judgment on words, actions tend to speak a little louder.” She murmured as she took a quick turn and a new portal opened before her.

“Thought that was what I was doing... acting.” Alec murmured sullenly as he followed.

“And that’s why I haven’t told you where you can go yet.” Serina stepped into a room coated with blood and stumbled back a step when the acrid smell of burning skin hit her. Alec caught her a moment later. The light blinded her as she tried to orient herself with what she’d walked in on. When she realized Alec was holding her she pushed away, pulling her shirt straight. The blinding light stopped with a thud and Persephone lay on the other side unconscious.

“What the hell happened?” Alec muttered in astonishment as he looked around the room. Serina silently pulled her swords and stood ready.

“A massacre it seems.” She muttered as she stepped forward, her boots squishing on the sodden carpet. She looked down in confusion.

“That’s disgusting.” Alec muttered and stepped lightly in the other direction. She rolled her eyes and ignored the squelching noise. She did a small circuit of the room as Alec bent to check on the unconscious Persephone.

“She alright?” Serina asked absently as she kicked over a mass of god only knew what.

“She’s breathing... not sure about the alright part.” He said softly as he brushed Persephone’s pale hair back from her damp skin.

The door opened and a startled whimper pulled both Serina and Alec’s attention up. Kylia stood there, her hand covering her mouth.

“No.. no no no no.” She muttered over and over and Alec’s eyebrows drew down in confusion. He looked down at the little demon then back up at the statuesque Elf slowly losing herself to grief. Realization dawned at him and he drew his hand back from Persephone’s hair throwing his hands up to try and reassure her.

“No! She’s fine.. I wasn’t...” He stammered as he rocked back to his feet and took a step back. Kylia’s eyes met his, anger shinning through her tears.

“She saved us... and you took her!” The Elf screamed and bolted across the room, her good arm swinging to him. Only one hit connected before Alec wrapped his arms around her to keep from being struck again. Kylia went limp sobbing in his arms.

“I did not do anything.” He repeated as he set her gently on the floor, where she leaned down pressing her forehead atop Persephone’s limp hair as she cried. Alec let out a frustrated sigh as he looked around, a look of helplessness breaking through his cool exterior before he locked it away again. The tight set of his jaw told Serina that he was hurt but would never admit to it. She didn’t have a chance to say anything before James swept into the room again.

“She’s alive?” He asked tersely and Serina nodded. He gave Alec a wary look before leaning down to check for himself. Alec’s jaw muscle clenched a final time before he strode purposefully from the room. James noted his exit with a bare glance from the corner of his eye before looking up at his daughter. Serina pressed her lips together and she forcefully sheathed her sword again.

“He was with me, not here for her.” Serina muttered under her breath and followed Alec from the room. It didn’t take her but a moment to find Alec angrily navigating as far away from everyone as he could.

“Hey... hey!” She called but was wholeheartedly ignored as he turned the corner. She grumbled under her breath and jogged to catch up. She rounded the same corner and ran straight into him.

“Stalking me?” He asked, anger heating his words.

“Hardly...” She breathed as she brushed her hair from her face. “You stormed out...”

“I’m fine.” He grumbled as he spun around but his steps were more subdued.

“Yeah it seems like it. Your reaction just screamed ‘I’m just peachy’ actually.” Serina scoffed as she kept pace.

Alec shook his head as he kept silent for a few more steps. His motions were jerky with anger.

“You don’t get it.” He muttered as he spun on her again. “You could never get it.”

“Get what, exactly?” She fired back as she met his ghostly eyes. Alec sighed and looked away from her.

“Have you ever had any one look at you with primal fear for just being where you were? A fear so deeply rooted that it’s essentially an instinct? You wonder why I’m so cold and callous to everyone around me. Why I act like I could care less about what people think of me. How would you be if everyone you’ve ever met, any one you’ve ever been with flinched at your touch.” He ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. “I’m Death. Generally the living would like to avoid me.”

Serina watched him silently as he started to pace. “They’re all afraid of me, even you’re father is wary of me.”

“I’m not afraid of you.” Serina returned calmly. Alec turned back to her, his eyes luminescent.

“No... you’re fascinated by me. You’re attracted to what others run from. You craved death and got me. No... not me. You wanted the darkness that comes with what I am. The peaceful silence that only death can give you.” He spat his words.

“You’re not wrong.” Serina said quietly and he thew his hands up in surrender. “But you’re not completely right either.”

“You act like I don’t know what a longing for death looks and feels like. The need poured off you in waves.”

Serina lashed out and shoved Alec in her anger.

“Yeah a huge part of me has wanted everything to end for a long time. I’m not denying it. But you...” She stopped and shook her head.

“I what?” He growled.

“You’ve brought me back from that.” Serina admitted quietly both to herself and Alec. He sighed softly and grasped her upper arms gently. When she didn’t react he gently squeezed her arms and she looked up.

“I’m sorry I can’t be more for you.” He breathed as he looked into her eyes.

“I don’t think you need to be. I think you’ve been exactly what I needed when I most needed it.” Serina tried to smile but her lips wouldn’t respond. Instead a tear slid down her face. Sorrow creeped into Alec’s eyes and he licked his lips slowly.

“Yeah. I think you’re a little what I needed too, to put me in my place I guess.” He joked and dropped his hands from her.

“We all do what we can.” She laughed softly as she crossed her arms, wiping away the errant tear.

“Very few treat me like an equal and even those who try have a healthy fear of me.” He sighed again and turned to walk down the hall, his hands clasped behind him. “It’s not easy and often when I try to help people they expect the worst of me.”

“I do understand what your saying.” Serina muttered to herself as she caught up. The house had fallen silent around them except for the the sporadic murmurs of people helping others. Absently Serina wondered if she should be doing something, organizing things. But she was woefully out of her depth when it came to dealing with people in the aftermath of a fight. Generally she was cleaning blood from herself, whether it were from her wounds or another rarely mattered. She figured James would be taking care of the professional tasks, he always had.

“It seems things have settled.” Alec interjected into the silence. Serina nodded as she kept a wary eye out.

“A lot of the Darklings were fleeing into the shadows when we came through. They avoided us.” She shrugged. The tension from the lack of fight she’d participated in had her in knots. “This leader bullshit is for the birds...” She mumbled to herself and Alec chuckled.

“Not enough chaos for you?” He asked quietly as they came to a stop. His brow quirked, all trace of frustration and sorrow well hidden behind his usual mask.

“Chaos? No, there is quite enough chaos... Just not enough for me to fight. I don’t like sitting around organizing things.” She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms again.

“But that’s what James is passing to you.” Alec guessed and Serina nodded.

“Yeah I’m not sure I want that particular torch passed to me. Patrick would be better suited. He’s more level headed... more...”

“Sane?” He asked quietly and she let her lips curl in a small smile.

“I guess you could say that. He’s been here the whole time, he was raised here as James’ son. I think the position should be passed to him, he should be next in line, not me.”

“He has his reasons. He always does.” Alec muttered as he breathed a sigh.

“Oh I’m sure he does.” She agreed and turned a circle looking at the minor destruction that had happened in this part of the estate. “I just don’t know what they are.”

“You’ll eventually find out.” Alec shrugged a shoulder and looked like he wasn’t sure what to do with himself. The new silence was deafening and Serina started to feel uncomfortable. She expected more to be happening around her, or rather she wanted something to take her out of this awkward silence. She didn’t have to wait long as from just up the stairs the sound of shattering glass had her running, sword in hand. Alec was close on her heels as she reached the top and saw a figure hop out and into the sun dappled court yard.


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