Chapter 36: I’m here
Owen stood in Alyssa’s living room. He, Morgan and Daveigh looked around. From the floating island kitchen, to the broken door frame and the blood stains, it was a mess. Daveigh gently pulled Owen’s arm closer, and rested her forehead on his shoulder. Morgan finished some intricate pattern on the floor.
“Here goes nothing.” Morgan said.
“Owen, if we can’t get to Alyssa, or if she’s dead already…” Daveigh sounded sombre
“Then we come back. And I’ll try very hard to forget.” Owen grimaced
“I won’t let you die again.” She mumbled.
“I know.” Owen smiled. He spotted Alyssa’s katana out of the corner of his eye, and walked over to grab it. It felt light in his hands. “You never called me yesterday.”
“Owen, there’s something we need to talk about.”
“Oh. Is it something that can wait?”
“Not really. That guy from yesterday, Michael.”
“Is it something I want to hear?”
“He’s my ex.”
“And the one person on earth Drake St. Claire wants dead more than anything.”
“How do you know?”
“It’s really, really complicated.”
“Okay. So what now?”
“I think we go after Alyssa. Just… You need to know that if those two fight, one of them will die.”
Morgan stood a bit back, and then pressed his hand flat in an empty circle within the pattern. It glowed and softly hummed, and something seemed to tear at the very fabric of the air. After a few minutes, Limbo stood open.
“Ready?” Owen asked. Daveigh and Morgan nodded.
They walked through the portal. It was almost disorientating, but then Owen got used to it. He realised that the air was different, the world was different, the sand, the force of gravity… It was an odd sensation. He realised that as a human, he would never have noticed small details such as this. It was red sand and jagged black rocks stabbing through the ground, and the landscape was violent and untamed. He would name it the red desert, were it not for the deathly plants that had some demonic air about them.
Morgan held a hand out. Owen displayed his palm, and it seemed like there was nothing there. Morgan closed his fingers around Owen’s wrist, and motioned for him to do the same. Owen felt a feeling like pins and needles, only it felt warm and soft at the same time. Morgan let go, and it was like a glowing compass shined underneath Owen’s skin. It pointed violently in a single direction.
“We’re close.” Morgan said. He didn’t like that. It seemed too easy. “Be careful.”
They started walking in the direction the compass pointed them. Owen was suddenly uneasy. He didn’t like this feeling in his stomach. He knew what Morgan was thinking and his thoughts echoed the same thing. It was too easy. Every footstep seemed like a test, like something would jump out at them at any moment. He was tense. As they walked, they noticed a little blip on the horizon coming ever closer.
It was a house.
It was actually impressive. It had grand steps leading towards the entrance and the door was glass. As they came closer, more details of it became visible. There was even a fountain. It was like an oasis within a barren landscape.
They reached the door. Owen held the katana in one hand, ready to fight, ready to kill or be killed. They looked at each other. Morgan tapped his arms and runes all over his body activated. Daveigh’s iris’s became red, and her fangs came out. Owen looked at her. She looked fierce. He felt his gums start to ache, and his own teeth ripped through them and he tasted blood.
Owen yanked the door open, ready to for anything… But nothing happened. It was dark, as if it were abandoned years ago. Owen swallowed, and finally realised how anxious he really was. He half expected to die, but also suddenly had the nagging suspicion that they were chasing nothing. He took the first step inside. There was a light switch near the door, and he flicked it on. The room was as extravagant inside as out. The door faced steps. He lowered the sword, and exhaled. Daveigh and Morgan followed him in.
“There’s no one here.” Owen said.
“I know.” Daveigh looked down at her shoes. “I can’t hear a heartbeat, or smell anything, or sense a pulse…”
“We must be too late.” Owen said.
He turned to leave, and suddenly shadows rose from the ground to form a smoke-like cloud and Drake rushed out of it, tackling Owen, and Owen saw himself leave the house and enter another room. He collided with a wall, and the air was knocked out of his lungs. His eyes itched and he understood, his were doing what Daveigh’s did, and he shoved back as hard as he could, but Drake wouldn’t budge. Drake grabbed an ankle, and Owen’s feet were suddenly out from under him, and his head collided with a surface, and he didn’t know which way was up, or which way was down. Drake grabbed his wrist, and twisted it, forcing Owen to let go of the katana. Owen screamed, and Drake stabbed down.
It was impaled next to Owen’s head.
“Owen.” Drake said. He moved away. There was a chair in the middle of the floor, and he sat down on it. There was nothing else in the room. He tapped an odd rhythm into the arm of the chair. He wore a gold ring on one finger.
“I’m here.” Owen grimaced.
“Earlier than expected.”
“You have a choice. Either you explain and then I beat the living shit out of you, or I beat the living shit out of you and then you explain.” Owen got to his feet. He felt confident that he said the threat convincingly, but didn’t know if he could keep true to its prerequisites.
“I’ll gladly explain. Only because I’m tired.”
“You’re tired? I’m exhausted, man. You have got to have a better explanation than that.”
“When we get out of this room, we’re going back to the house you came through. I’m going to bring Alyssa downstairs, and you’re going to take her to her home. It’ll be cleaned up, everything as good as new.”
“You have my word, or you can drive that sword through my heart, that Alyssa St. Claire is alive, and relatively unharmed.”
“But you’re going to explain yourself.”
“Of course.” Drake started pacing the room, deep in thought on how to start. He remembered something, and laughed, stopping in his tracks. “About eighteen years ago, a beautiful baby girl, Riley St. Claire was born. The sweetest little angel you would have ever met. Owen… I loved her very much. Riley was everything to me… Well… No.” Owen looked at the katana. His hand was around the grip. Drake smiled.
“You can come have a go at me if you want, Owen. But you’re going to end up on the floor, again.”
“A chance to wipe that smug look off your face seems worth the risk.”
“How about this? I’ll finish my story, and then you can swing at me all you want until your little arms give in. I won’t even hit back.”
“As I was saying, Riley and her mother, Delilah were everything to me. But let’s go further back. About thirty years back. Alyssa and I had been running for a while. The war between Angels and Demons had ravaged the new world, Lados. And there she was. This figure, she came down in front of us. And I was ready to kill. I refused to let anything happen to my little sister. Then Delilah touched my face, and she just looked at me like she was intrigued. She said ‘I thought demons were supposed to be scary monsters. You almost look human…’ and she walked away.” Drake smiled, and a tear actually rolled down his cheek.
“I laughed. It was incredible. She took one look at me and decided that I wasn’t the enemy. She was so pure, and good. And when it came down to it, when another angel came… She defended us. We escaped together. From then on, it was the three of us. It went great, for so many years. Eventually we got sick of everything. We came to earth. I got on my knees and I begged Delilah to marry me. I told her that I wanted eternity with her. She said we’d never have eternity. But that she’d give whatever time she had to me. And I just accepted it. I didn’t care. I was too happy. And then we had little Riley together. Alyssa was an aunt, she was ecstatic. She loved that little girl, Owen. We were happy.” His facial expression changed. “And then they came into our lives. The angel Michael and the boy. Matthew. He had this unfathomable crush on Alyssa. But she loved Michael. He said he was escaping the fighting. He said it had gotten bad. He claimed to have these huge dreams of crusading for an end. Matthew was aware of everything. He was an orphan, but his parents were rune masters. He unfortunately didn’t have a drop of magical ability. So they were all friends. I had never met them. Delilah sounded surprised, but she didn’t mistrust him. So we invited them into our home. And the first thing Michael did was slit Delilah’s throat and rip out her heart. Then he killed my daughter. While I was holding my Delilah’s corpse, he got away. I chased him. I was going to murder him. I caught up with him. I broke his kneecaps first. Then I forced his wings out and ripped those off. I had my hand around his heart. And then… Then Alyssa stopped me. Literally broke my wrist and ripped me off him. Matthew was there. He tried to ask Michael why. And I should’ve killed the fucking bastard, because he then… I don’t even know what he did. I just felt my neck leaving my shoulders, and then nothing. The last thing I saw was Matthew getting caught in the crossfire. No idea if he survived or not. And then I was so angry that I put myself back together and came back. I fought death. And won. I walked out of there, with no memories of the last 27 years. Probably a mercy really. I found Alyssa and she was scared to death of me. I didn’t understand why. And we had a good year. Until I found my wedding ring. So then I set about to torture Alyssa. I was so angry at her. For bringing him into my home. For saying nothing. And I thought Michael would never dare show his face again.”
“You killed me to hurt Alyssa for something she didn’t do to you.”
“I’ve done worse. I don’t claim to be a saint. Delilah just brought out the good in a person, you know? She was too good for this world. So when Michael showed his ugly fucking face in this godforsaken town, I think I actually cried and smiled and laughed all at once. Suddenly, I didn’t care about whether Alyssa hurts. Suddenly, the only thing I want to do is beat the man who killed my wife and daughter to the edge of death, and then break his neck just when he thinks he might make it out alive.”
“Am I supposed to clap at that?”
“Cynical. No. I wish it were you. I wish Alyssa met you instead of Michael. Wish it were you Delilah and I welcomed into our family. I wish you could have been there. Hell, I’d even have made you godfather. Owen, if things were different, if what happened didn’t happen… Owen, you and I could have been friends. And I truly regret the last two years of my life. It’s been nothing but revenge, hatred, blood… And when I put her ring on, Owen… I could feel how ashamed of me she was. I can’t make it up to you. You can live out your eternity however you wish, Owen... I don’t even have cynicism left. I just have a few dry jokes and a comment or two on how scared you look right now. So this is where I say goodbye.”
“What if I still want to fight you?”
“Are you even going to try? I said you could have a free hit.”
Owen stood still. He looked at Drake.
“How do I know you’re telling the truth?”
“Well, you still have legs, my sister is still alive, and I don’t know, Owen, I am sick and tired of fighting. I want it to end. Maybe Michael might even kill me. I don’t know what happens after you die really. I don’t remember much before the putting myself back together… Maybe this time I’ll see Delilah…”
“I almost actually feel sorry for you. But you still killed me.”
“Sympathy for the devil is a dangerous trait. Hang on to that distrust.”
“You’re goddamn right I will. But... I won’t stand in your way. Even now, I doubt I’d even be able to stall you for more than five minutes. But you don’t get to die. Not before you give Alyssa back every moment of happiness you’ve stolen from her in the past two years. If you die, I will personally put you back together.”
“Can I admit something?”
“You’re the closest thing I have to a friend. I’m sorry that you got messed up in this world.”
They stood in silence. Drake nodded, and the world disappeared. Owen was back in the house he entered. Daveigh and Morgan had already torn the place apart, and he stood at the doorway. Drake walked down the stairs, and put Alyssa down on the bottom one, with her head leaning on a wall.
“Your sister reminded me of someone I really cared about, Daveigh.”
“Don’t you go near my… She’s my cousin. Why did you say sister?”
“So help me, I will beat it out of you. Or just shove my fist down your throat for stabbing my boyfriend…”
“I guess I owe you this much… The night we met, Juliet told me about her mother’s affair with Jack Deadroses.”
“Doubt her father even knew.”
“You’re lying. What kind of sick son of-…”
“I’m sorry you had to find out like this.”
Drake disappeared into the shadows. Daveigh looked at Owen, and he simply stood by idly..