Viktor was drooling in his sleep, his mind elsewhere. Far beneath the manor in which he dreamed, Lorcan and Colt were hanging side-by-side in endless torment. As far as the demonic faery was concerned, they were back where they belonged -- in hell. More importantly, they were hanging in the pit beneath the newly renovated demon lord’s castle. He had defeated Colt in the faery realm much because he threatened to bring the other faery woman to hell with them. Margeret included. No, them all included. The demon couldn’t always get his way though.
It was all because of...
Something shook his shoulder.
Viktor looked at the annoying faery child. He imagined Elaine would cry him a river at the sight of Mason walking around like he had never been killed. He ignored the second faery child he had searched for and claimed to save. It was screaming and crying for its rightful mother. Not the callous of the brute who had stolen it away and locked it up in the castle.
Viktor eyed the black baby crib and mocked the faery baby nestled inside. Its face was damp with tears and it smelled foul having soiled its pants one too many times. The demon lord rolled his eyes, sharpening them on Mason as he cowered away from his fake father’s leer.
He watched the gone-mad faery’s golden wings meld into the hellfire that flared up around their edges.
His anger was not because of the child, but because of something moving beneath his castle now that did not belong there...
Lorcan couldn’t see anything in the darkness of the pit, but Colt, on the other hand, could use his shadows to sense what was around. It was something huge, hulking over them. It had swum up from the depths of the pit that he knew now was not so bottomless as his kind believed. Colt knew it, in essence, could even be a portal perhaps.
The mayor of Hegley Hallow smiled, his elongated teeth cutting through the hanging chains of the two damned souls in one sharp closing of his jaw. Lorcan felt the air rush by him, but Colt was already flying upward. The mayor didn’t mind, the faery would do. His huge hand closed around Lorcan’s body as he sunk down the way he came.
Lorcan screamed, his body healing, but slowly now since it was free of the chains. Mush, cold and gooey closed around him as he sunk downward with the ancient demon.
It wasn’t the first time Cordelia planned to make Elaine suffer. She pretended to mourn with her childhood friend’s mate. Deep down, she had a feeling there still hope though. She didn’t want to believe Lorcan would be gone forever. The demon she didn’t mind gone. Mira and Margaret, she wasn’t sure about. Her head burned badly still from Elaine’s sadistic brother she remembered.
Little did she know the extent of the demon’s power surpassed his ability to control and summon hellfire. He was in her mind already as he appeared in the night, in the guest room in which she was currently mulling over things.
“G-get away from me,” Cordelia staggered back as she lowered her voice. It dripped with malice now, “Take Elaine and leave! I didn’t ever cross you.”
Viktor laughed. “You’ve made me angry,” he spoke in a shaky voice. Cordelia gaped at the faery child cowering behind him when she recognized it was Mason. The demon’s fire burst around him in a bubble. He had gotten bored of hell. Cordelia would help lighten up his mood. “Very,” His fire rose as his voice raised, “Very, angry!”
Heat flashed across the stuffy bedroom, turning into a wave of hazardous scalding flames. Cordelia was covered in the irremovable blanket of fire. Her screams were muffled quickly by the growing flames growing up from the ground around her.
The door opened and in ran Elaine completely oblivious to the deadly atmosphere of the room until the door was open and she already was inside. Her stomach twisted seeing the cruel smile on Viktor’s face. His eyes were lit up with fascination as they landed on her and not the dying faery beside he at present was burning alive.
It was too late though. The deed was done.
Cordelia’s charred corpse fell to the hardwood floor with a loud thud, kicking up ash and the foul stench of burned flesh into the air. Viktor stomped over to her corpse and crunched her blackened skull beneath his boot with a satisfied smirk. The twins were just outside in the hall, trembling against the wall in terror as they hid out of the demon’s sight.
“How could you?” Elaine screeched while covering her mouth in tribulation.
She looked up into his uncaring golden eyes finding no emotion. He stuck his hands in the deep pockets of his long black coat. Where inside, he clenched them tightly, but they still shook in restlessness along with his arms. She pushed him hard and he scoffed at her weak attempt to attack him.
Mason ran around him. He leaped into Elaine’s waiting arms. “You’re alive!”
“Mother...” he croaked into her chest.
Elaine’s heart went cold seeing Viktor’s wolf-like grin. He sauntered toward them, Elaine flew backward into the hallway. She handed Mason off to Mira and Margaret, hoping Mira would keep her sister in check while she confronted the temperamental faery man.
Since Viktor had taken Colt and Lorcan to hell, his heart had darkened in the recesses of his castle. It had been over a month and he spent it alone with the two faery children acting as a single parent. He had done a lousy job of it too Elaine could tell. Mason appeared malnutritioned and brainwashed. She could only imagine what state Simon was in, she hoped he had sense enough not to enter a baby’s mind and scar them for life.
She cowered away from the demon lord now alone with him as the others had fled the house. Viktor’s smile dropped into a grimace seeing a trail of liquidity black glitter travel down the side of her leg. She was wearing shorts, allowing him to watch her faery dust run down the side of her leg where it got wasted and dirty on the floor. The smell relaxed his mind, despite its pungent odor.
The truth was Viktor’s body was still silhouetted in orange-turned-red flames. She had indeed peed herself in fear, and like all fae, some of her faery dust came out in it. She tensed up seeing him reach out to her as his flaming arm moved beneath his fire-proof clothes. She couldn’t see his face anymore, but when he touched her arm she could. His fire vanished in a heavy cloud of dark grey smoke. She coughed as he tugged her roughly down the hall.
“My prisoners have escaped. Tell me where they are little sister or I’ll burn you next...” he threatened in a deep voice.
Elaine let her feet drag. Viktor stopped walking and gritted his teeth. He didn’t want to be affected any more than she wanted to be affected by him. Unfortunately, faery men don’t really get a choice as their moodiness changes depending on the level of intimacy they had with their mate. Only, Elaine knew she wasn’t Viktor’s.
His purring sounded more like an impatient soft growl. She was done with his little fits though and sick of watching his emotions control him. It made him vulnerable, but right now he seemed quite the opposite.
“Tell me!” he yelled.
“I don’t know.”
Elaine had enough. She flicked his forehead because he was hovering too close. He leaned back, rubbing his face as his wings fluttered in pleasure at her fleeting touch. The purring grew louder, enough for Elaine to notice the change in its tone. Its sound made her face flush for more reasons than one. She hiccuped, a cloud of her dark shimmering faery dust drifting between them.
She ran away hearing his annoying purring grow impossibly louder.
“Mason? Mira?” she asked loudly as she stormed down the stairs.
She looked around outside, seeing nobody. Viktor watched her in amusement as he sifted through her memories to test the truth she shared. He found her not to be lying. He gathered if Colt and Lorcan were not in the faery realm and not in hell, they could be somewhere between.
He had a bad feeling though about returning to that place. He had some idea of how his prisoners had escaped and he knew he was being baited out of hiding. Well, maybe he’d use someone else as bait inside. He didn’t want to get on the mayor’s bad side again. It was the one demon he hoped to avoid. Elaine had a habit of befriending his brethren. He chuckled while watching her and imagining her reaction to seeing the ancient demon in its true form.
She would make perfect bait. He knew she wouldn’t put up a fuss with him either about it. And if she did, he would simply help change her mind. Her mind needed much fixing anyway. Mason was easy for the demon to control, but his starry-eyed sister already had her head in the clouds. She would be hard to control Viktor knew. He had already tried to control her mind once and it didn’t end well. It landed him in Hegley Hallow and in a mess he hoped to avoid with the gatekeeper of a place that may or may not be his afterlife.
He growled catching himself doubting his status as a demon. He could not afford to think or fall into the trap fo thinking himself something so pathetic as the woman crying out in the yard.
“I will fetch the crying worm and Mason for you if you do something for me in return,” he announced while approaching his sister.
Elaine scoffed, remembering him claiming Simon to be his. A large part of her felt he was right because he was showing the signs Lorcan discussed with her about a mate protecting his own...mate. She gulped at the disturbing thought. What was just as disturbing though was her recent discovery that they were indeed more than likely not even related after all. She did think her parents were telling the truth when they said they had raised them both and also admitted their choice of giving up on Viktor early on.
Her thoughts drifted back to her initial observations that lead her to believe Viktor could be her...no. Lorcan was already her mate and there was no argument to be had there. She felt it and her parents knew it too before Viktor had ever entered the picture. Yet, she couldn’t ignore his persistent purring. She just wanted to cover her ears and fly away, but where was there to hide with him so close by?
Viktor watched in fascination her wings wilt as her emotions downward spiraled. It wasn’t enough though to make him forget her ignoring of his offer. He thought he would try to make an offer, but bait always acted better when fresh. He needed her to keep up her sulking so he could simply dump her off again, and this time, ensure she’d stay there.
Unsurprisingly, he made no move to act on such a wish because he once again was caught with a dreamy look while lost in thought. Elaine frowned at his creepy zoned-out look and brushed by him. His mind was elated. Evil little butterflies and black and grey rainbows formed in it while he got off on the buzz her faery dust had a habit of giving him. He stumbled across the yard unable to ignore the sweet smell. Sparks of fire flickered beneath his feet in unpredictable bursts, some bigger than others.
Elaine made it inside the house. She slammed the door shut, but a moment later it came burning down. Viktor entered inside, curling over promptly. He vomited on the carpet and Elaine. It was a natural reaction to something very unnatural. Elaine felt ill as she frantically wiped his sticky gritty faery dust from her shirt.
She looked up, catching him wipe his mouth as a peculiar feeling rippled through her body. Viktor’s wings fluttered happily in response, but neither knew what was really going on, again. Perhaps it was better that way though, Viktor certainly was not parent material. Lorcan was. It was only in her nightmares that things could be the other way around. A terrible thing indeed for Lorcan be distanced from his mate at such a critical time.
No longer did the demon wish to make Elaine the bait. His mind was changing rapidly. Everything started to come together in his twisted mine. He knew where Lorcan was and he guessed already who had him.
Essentially, he was made a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Only, he was beginning to forget he was a wolf. His heart always rested in his interests -- as ever-changing as they were. Perhaps, he played sheep too long around Elaine and that must have been why he changed his mind about using her. So he thought.
Elaine went rigid feeling his hand curl around her own. One moment, the ground was solid and the next, it dropped out from beneath her as the ground swallowed them up.
To call it a return though would be misleading. The two had already both been dead for some time. One had drowned and the other’s original death had been lost in their muddled past. It was by fate they find their way back there again. Where their souls really belonged. Elaine had been announced dead for time already the demon discovered during his last visit to Hegley Hallow. He was too much a coward to check up on his own death records in the realm for he knew he had been dead much longer.
Death in their unique cases was relative. It was their souls that the dark-eyed demon waiting beneath the golden hill waited to devour because they had not paid their dues yet for vacationing in the afterlife. There was no vacationing there. The mayor knew they were dead and it was time he devour their souls too and be done with it. There was simply no other way he could keep more of the dead from leaving -- which was becoming a growing number.
He was an old demon, but had grown soft in some areas more than other. The idea of removing the souls from his townspeople did not sit well with him, but he had already done it many times before for those who were antsy to stir trouble. He had laws there, to keep things less miserable than they already were. It’s not like it was hell, the demon scorned the lucky souls who never entered such a place. The realm had become his own living hell, but he controlled it so that brought some peace of mind. Like all demons, he had no intention of losing that control to another of his brethren.
Unfortunately, Viktor got easily bored. Somehow his ego had inflated being around the woman his mind nagged on about.
Elaine stormed ahead of him across the pumpkin patch in which they landed in. Viktor was still just standing up and wiping the smashed pumpkin guts from his pants.
The moon hung above them, a large yellow crescent in a sky of black. The lights from the town below gave them enough light to see their surroundings. The ancient demonic mayor aside, Viktor didn’t really mind the realm. It was growing on him and so was something else. Something he dreaded, but increasingly wanted.
Mate, mate, mate, his mind blabbered on.
Arguably, he had gone insane long ago. Viktor felt weaker now than he ever did when she was walking away as she was now. He felt insecure and anxious, knowing behind the shadows of the hills they walked from was the mayor of the Hallowed ground. It was the excuse the demon came up with so he did not have to admit Elaine made him vulnerable.
He kicked at the crushed pumpkins, throwing a little tantrum over his inner turmoil. Elaine turned around and thought he had finally lost it. She didn’t know why he brought her to Hegley Hallow. She could see him talking to himself and using a rusty shovel to play whack-a-mole with the harmless rotting round vegetables surrounding him. She wasn’t going to stick around waiting for answers she already knew.