Dark Covenant

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Chapter 8

I rubbed my forehead again, realizing that didn’t help one bit for the pounding headache that was threatening to make my head explode. My eyes returned to the illustration of a kappa, a Japanese water demon, that looked to me like the lovechild of a human, turtle and an electric eel.

I had been going through my father’s books for the past few hours, trying to distract myself from the fact that Samael had not returned. I wasn’t sure if I was worried about him bending my orders when it came to not killing humans or the fact that I had grown so used to his presence for just a few days that him not being there made me lonely. I pushed the thoughts aside, telling myself that he was probably just somewhere with another unsatisfied creature, or maybe two, indulging the need I was refusing to give into.

A very vivid image of him and a faceless woman with her ankles around his waist flooded my mind and I shook my head, looking back down at the poor water demon. I bet water demons didn’t have those problems.

My eyes moved to the small pile of books lying on the desk beside me, then to the two enormous libraries waiting patiently to share their knowledge with me. There were all kinds of books there, from fiction that incorporated some kind of mythological creatures to books about lores from dozens of countries, encyclopedias about magic and spells.

A week ago I would have dismissed them as a weird obsession of a crazy man. Or a writer spending too much time on research instead of writing - even though my father was positively a man of few words and barely knew how to use the Internet.

But now, after what I had witnessed in the tomb and after seeing Samael’s true face, I was going to think long and hard before entering any lake or a river or explore caves by myself. I had no idea which of those creatures were myth and which existed, but nothing was off the table.

A loud thud came from downstairs and I raised my head, my heart fluttering. Then I frowned. So far Samael had been extremely quick and quiet, almost always sneaking up on me without making a sound. It was unlikely he suddenly became so clumsy and obvious unless he was trying to make a point that he had returned.

I held my breath, listening for any more sounds. It was perfectly quiet if you didn’t count the distant shouts from the neighbors quarreling again.

I put the book down, taking a step towards the door. My fingers wrapped around the fire iron I had brought with me. After losing my bat I could not find anything else for self-defence and I imagined the kitchen knives will do me no good if my attacker ever got that close.

I opened the door and winced as a creak echoed through the house. So much for sneaking out of there. My palms were sweating already, my heart beating so fast that I was afraid that I wouldn’t even hear an attacker.

It’s just the house, just the house, I tried to convince myself as I headed towards the stairs. Everything was dark down there and I swore that if I survived tonight, I would leave the house lit up like a Christmas tree every freaking night. To hell with the electrical bills.

I moved down the stairs, my eyes adjusting to the darkness. By the time I was at the base, I could distinguish the silhouette of the front door, unlocked, barely closed but with the latch still on. One look at the kitchen told me it was empty, another one at the living room told me that there was nobody there too.

I swallowed with difficulty, creeping towards the door. Suddenly visiting Krystal sounded like a wonderful idea.

I was almost at the door, my eyes set on the latch, when I heard the floor creak. Panic overcoming my fear, I turned bashing with the fire iron. To my surprise, my makeshift weapon met flesh and bones, which broke with a loud crack, sending the figure to the ground with a painful shout. My eyes fixed on two more shadows that had materialized out of nowhere. One was about my height, slender and fit; the other looked larger than Samuel, even larger than Elijah, with long hair falling past their shoulders.

“Stay back!” I said with a shaky voice.

The smaller figure on my right whispered something in another language and I felt the fire iron leave my fingers. It flew across the hallway and into their hand.

Shit, I thought as I launched at the door, feverishly fighting with the latch. Despite my shaky fingers, I was done with it in a second, pulling the door that separated me from safety. Or at least I hoped I would be safer after I screamed like a banshee and woke up the whole street.

Before I could even open it enough to go through, two giant hands wrapped around me - one over my mouth, one around my waist. I was pulled back kicking and screaming in the stranger’s palm. Digging my nails into their hand, I tried to peel it off my face, but it was as impossible as pulling a rusty nail out of solid concrete.

“Keep her quiet.” The slender figure said with annoyance. “You okay, Gabe?”

“I think she broke my arm.” The man on the floor whimpered, staggering to his feet. He was holding his hand close to his body, glaring at me.

“Serves you right. You walk like an oversized buffoon.” The woman said, stepping towards me. I tried to kick her, but she caught my ankle, squeezing it painfully. “Try that again and I’ll let Gabe return the favor.”

She let go of my leg, stepping in front of me and catching my hands. A soft click and the cold touch of metal told me I wouldn’t be moving those much. My eyes remained on her sturdy face and I even forgot to scream when the guy holding me removed his hand and forced a cloth around my mouth.

I didn’t even notice it until it pressed roughly around my skin, tasting of dust. My eyes examined the woman for any trace of familiarity but found none. Her short hair and thin lips didn’t make her stand out much, but I was pretty sure a woman with one brown and one white eye would have made an impression. She had a giant scar on her left cheek to accompany the milky eye.

Her gaze moved away from me and she nodded to the man behind me. A moment later a bag was slid over my head and my feet left the ground. My stomach landed on something hard and uncomfortable, but even my feet were rendered unusable as strong fingers squeezed my ankles together.

One night, I thought, biting on the cloth as I felt myself being moved. One boring, uneventful night was all I wanted.

No more than two minutes had passed when we stopped. For a moment I thought I was saved. Maybe they were crossing the street and somebody saw us. Or maybe Samael had returned and now they were facing each other like the guys in the old western movies.

Instead, I heard the screech of a car door and I was put down. I couldn’t really stretch my feet and it smelled like gasoline around me, something prodding at my back. I heard the door slam and the whole vehicle swayed. I tried to sit up, but my head hit something hard, forcing me back on the ground. I twisted my body; the cuffs digged into my skin as I tried to find something around me I could use.

I was in the trunk; I had to be. My hands were bound behind me so moving was not only painful but impossible too. My shoulders were already so strained that they felt like they would pop off their sockets any second.

All my fingers could find were beer cans, some cloth and a cable. Nothing I could use or even know what to do with.

The ride didn’t take long and when the car jerked to a stop, I almost hit my head again. I heard voices outside, muffled by the metal around me, then the trunk door opened. I felt hands lifting me and I did not fight this time. I was god knows where, tied and gagged and not a soul knew where to find me. My best chance was staying nice and quiet and hoping they didn’t bring me here to just kill me.

The hands placed me down to what I thought was a chair, then the bag was pulled off my head. Bright light blinded me and I squinted my eyes until they adjusted.

We were in a warehouse or something like that, with a tall ceiling that had seen better days, and a loud echo which suggested the place was big. The light was coming from the headlights of the car, shining almost directly at me.

I felt hands fumbling with the cloth around my mouth and it finally fell around my neck. I moved my jaw that had grown stiff and looked at the one person standing in front of me - the woman with the white eye. She was wearing tight leather pants and a stylish leather jacket and while she did look like she had stepped out of one YA move she did not wear ten inch heels. Instead, she wore comfortable black boots which allowed her to easily crouch in front of me.

“Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Eleanora Sharpe.” She said with a smile. I couldn’t help but stare at the white eye. “It’s impolite to stare, you know.”

“It’s impolite not to give your name when you’re meeting somebody for the first time.” I snapped back trying to focus my attention on both eyes from now on. “And it is also very impolite to kidnap people from their homes.”

She laughed, glancing behind me.

“I like her. She has humor, unlike her father.” She rose to her feet motioning to the man behind me. “Untie her. She will behave, right Nora?”

“Who are you and what do you want from me?” I asked as the tension around my wrists disappeared and I was finally able to move them in front of me.

“My name is Mary,” she said, crossing her hands. Her name was most certainly not Mary and the ease with which she offered it only confirmed that. “We are friends of Elijah’s.”

“Elijah was my father’s friend. And he would never kidnap or try to hurt me.” I said with as much conviction I could fake. He would never kidnap me, alright, he would just try to kill me on the spot. “So what do friends of Elijah’s want from me?”

“We know he died in your house and we know that a wolf didn’t kill him. If you knew Elijah you’ll know there were very few things that could even hurt him.” Mary said, her voice laced with unspoken threat. “So we want to know what really happened.”

“I told the police everything. We drank coffee, some creature entered the house. Elijah shouted to hide so I did. When I came back down, he was dead.”

“See, a wolf would not just go inside a house. And wolves don’t kill for the blood.” Mary’s voice was low, almost like a hum, yet her voice carried in the big room like a creepy song.

“I never said it was a wolf.” My voice didn’t sound like that at all. It sounded scared and unsure. “I said it looked like a wolf. I don’t know what that thing was.”

“Let’s say we believe you,” Mary said, pacing slowly back and forth in front of me. “Let’s say it happened exactly as you said. Something came into your house and attacked you. Something killed Elijah. He came to that house for something and while he did not tell me what exactly it was, he said getting it was of utmost importance. What did he want?”

“He wanted coffee,” I said and immediately felt stupid. If I could see Mary’s face better I was sure I would be in complete agreement with my assessment. “That is what he said. He said he came to check on me and asked for coffee. Then that thing attacked.”

“You’re sure?” Mary asked, her voice dripping with disbelief. “He didn’t mention anything else?”

“No.” I lied. They didn’t know about Samael and they most certainly didn’t know about the book that was the key to his tomb. Even Elijah didn’t know what or where the key was. One thing was for certain and that was I couldn’t tell them about my bond to Samael. Nothing they could do to me would be worse than death which was the only thing they would be thinking of if they were hunters and they knew I was linked to a demon.

“Well, I hate to hurt a fellow witch but I hate it even more when somebody is lying to me.” Mary’s voice had the tone of somebody who was being forced to put down the cute neighbor’s dog for barking too loud. I was still working through the part where she called me a witch when she spread her hands, a low chant escaping her lips. I couldn’t catch the words, if they were words at all, from the loud ringing that filled my ears. I raised my hands to cover them but the sound only intensified piercing my head like a rain of needles.

My eyes darted towards the man she had called Gabe but he was standing still, still pressing his hand.

The chant stopped abruptly just as I thought my brain was going to explode. I didn’t even realize I was panting heavily, my chest tight from the pressure.

“Let’s try this again.” She said, her hands still spread wide. “What did Elijah want from you? I really don’t want to do this, Nora, but I made a promise to him. He was preparing me to take over the league and in case of Elijah’s death it would have been up to me to protect what your father was guarding before he died. I need to know what that was.”

“I don’t… know...” I said through gritted teeth. I let my hands fall just to notice blood on them. Splendid.

“Fine. It’s your funeral.” She shrugged just as she began chanting again. My hands flew to my ears again even though I knew that it was pointless. My vision blurred and the pressure on my head intensified. I didn’t even know when I fell off the chair and into my knees and when I started screaming.

How was this fair? I didn’t want any of this - my father’s death, Elijah’s death, even my bond to Samael which now seemed completely useless - what was the point of having a powerful demon linked to you if you were going to die anyway? I guess he was not that keen on living after all.

The chanting grew louder, rising over the infuriating sound. Her voice was trembling as if she was straining. Then it abruptly stopped.

I forced my eyes open to find Mary on the hood of the car, her painful moans filling the air. Gabe was on the ground too, holding onto his broken hand. Mary slid to the ground almost falling to her face. Despite my blurry vision I could see her shaking, eyes wide with shock.

My body felt warm and strangely light. For a moment I thought I had died and I was a ghost. But it hurt too much.

I looked down to my hands to find them glowing, the weird symbols from Samael’s box marching on my skin like little soldiers. There was steam swirling around my skin, like a shell that blinked in and out of existence.

“What the hell?” Mary and I said at the same time. Still staring at my hands I got to my feet. The ringing was gone and so was the pain - I was light as a feather. “So much power…” Mary whispered and I finally looked at her. “You should not have so much power. Did you take it from another witch?”

My throat was dry so when I tried to speak nothing came out. The dizziness was slowly returning and so was the pain. The glow faded as the letters disappeared.

A loud growl came from somewhere behind the vehicle and my heartbeat quickened. As terrifying and deadly as it sounded, I’d recognize that anger anywhere. He had found me.

Mary screamed as she was sent flying in the air, landing on a pile of crates that crashed in a cloud of dust. A creature made of shadows and teeth jumped over me and another scream filled the warehouse followed by a crash.

I heard hurried steps then a figure crouched in front of me, his hands touching my face gently as if I would break.

“Nora.” He said quietly, almost apologetically. His fingers wiped something from my cheeks and I was not sure if it was blood or tears. “I can’t kill those people, not unless you tell me to. Please, say the words.”

My eyes widened as I stared at him and I shook my head.

“If I don’t kill them now they will come back for you. And they will not show you that mercy.” His voice was cold but gentle. “Nora, can I kill them?”

A curse came from somewhere behind me and the sound of somebody kicking and pushing junk out of their way. I noticed Gabe getting to his feet.

“Yes.” I said barely audible, my throat tightening. Samael’s face shifted, his eyes darkening.

“Close your eyes, Nora, and don’t move.” He said, holding my gaze. “Now.”

I did as I was told and the reassuring touch of his hands disappeared. A few seconds later screams and curses echoed through the warehouse mixed with crashes and gun fire. I just stood on my place on the ground, eyes firmly closed and hands pressed over my ears. My body was shaking and I could distantly feel tears streaming down my face.

Just a few minutes later the noises gave place to utter silence. Not even a moan could be heard, just my heart beating like crazy.

A pair of warm hands picked me up and I didn’t even resist. My hands wrapped around his neck. I could feel his pulse beneath my fingers - slow and even as if we had just gone out for a stroll in the park. My own heart was trying to make a hole in my chest.

He walked in silence, his hold around me firm but careful. I would have asked to let me down so I can walk myself, but I was not sure if I was able to at the moment.

When I heard a creak I finally opened my eyes only to realize we were home and he was closing the door behind. It didn’t fully close but he ignored it stepping over the fire iron on the floor and heading towards the stairs. We were in my room in a blink of an eye and he finally set me down.

My knees almost gave in but I managed to get to the bed before falling. I sat down, letting my face fall in my palms. I didn’t care they were dirty, I didn’t care I looked like shit, I didn’t care he was still watching.

I had killed those people. I was a murderer.

“Whose blood is this?” I heard him ask. The mention of blood made my stomach turn.

“Mine.” I replied automatically. Before I knew it he was kneeling in front of me pulling my hands away. His fingers traced my face in a search for the wound. “I’ll live.” I said pushing him away. He let his hands fall but didn’t budge. Instead he kept staring at me until my cheeks started to itch. When I couldn’t take it anymore I raised my hand and rubbed my face realizing that it was all wet.

“It’s not your fault.” He said.

“I killed those people.” I choked on the words as I said them, my vision blurring in and out.

“No, you didn’t.”

“I may have not done it with my own hands but they are dead because of me.” I shouted at him but he didn’t even blink.

“You are alive and you are safe, this is what matters. It was not your fault for being taken. They tortured and they were going to kill you. They deserved to die.”

I looked away from him pursing my lips to stop myself from sobbing.

“Let’s get you cleaned up.” He whispered, pulling me up. I followed him without a word and didn’t even protest when he helped me pull my shirt over my head and kick off my ruined sweatpants. “I’ll be outside if you need me.”

He put the water on and actually left so I stared at the door in surprise. I got rid of my underwear and moved under the hot water, sliding by the wall and to the floor. J closed my eyes and let the drops hit my face, washing away the traces of blood and dust. After a few minutes I lowered my head and stared at my hands which were back to normal. No symbols, no glowing.

I didn’t even realize when the watercar had turned cold but I shuddered, still unable to move. A knock came from the door.

“Nora, do you need any help?”

“No, I’m fine.” I shouted back, getting to my feet. I stopped the water and wrapped myself in a towel. I wiped the mirror almost jumping back as I noticed my reflection. My red puffy eyes and skin paler than usual gave me a creepy, zombie-like look.

I got out of the bathroom only to find my room empty. At the thought of being alone I almost cried again. I forced myself to suck it up and quickly dressed into one of my pajama tops, unable to find the bottom. I resigned from my search, dropping on my bed and staring at my hands. The wound in my right palm had turned pink, the clump almost falling off.

“Here.”

Samael’s voice startled me with it’s closeness and I looked up just as he was handing me a cup, steam rising from its insides. I smelled of citrus and honey as I raised it to my lips. He watched me as I drank silently as if to make sure I’ll finish it. When I did and left the cup aside he nodded to one in particular heading towards the door.

“Samael.” I called and he paused, looking at me over his shoulder. “Can you please stay?”

He didn’t move from his spot, his face an exquisite mask. Then he moved towards the bed without a word, kicking his shoes and climbing next to me. He gathered me in his arms, my back against his chest, and pulled me even closer. I could feel his heart beating fast as his hands tightened around me, his chin snuggling in my neck. His hot breath and immediate closeness sent a certain warmth through me. Despite him being a demon, despite him being a monster, I felt safer than ever before.

“Samael, I…” I started but was interrupted by his hands tightening even more.

“We’ll talk tomorrow. Sleep.”

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