The sound of a whip cracking the air resounded and echoed violently in the cell. Michael groaned in pain, the hell-lit rope slicing and scarring his burned back. Yet he refused to let Gryphon have the satisfaction that he was getting away with bringing Michael to his knees so easily.
But it hurt like hell. Michael’s hands yanked on the rough ropes that dug painfully in his skin. He bit his lip, tasting his own coppery blood as his nerves screamed at him to end this torture.
Gryphon laughed manically, watching Heaven’s future prince suffer before him. He hated angels, with the exception of his Zamora. Above all, he loved watching most any supernatural, powerful being cowering in his presence. He lived on fear, relished in the control he received from it. Each muffled cry falling from Michael’s lips was like music to his ears. Though Gryphon wanted louder. He wanted Michael to scream, loud enough so Zamora could hear the piercing cry on the other side of the stone wall.
“Do you wish to know why I’m doing this Michael?” Gryphon’s baritone voice taunted Michael from behind him. Rage went through the blond angel like ice, briefly numbing the excruciating pain. “Fuck you,” Michael hissed through clenched teeth.
A small smirk graced Gryphon’s full mouth as his slitted eyes narrowed. “Could you say that any louder? Loud enough for Zamora to hear?”
Michael’s forest eyes widened as his brows furrowed in suppressed fury.
Gryphon thumbed the handle of his right whip as he tilted his head in mocked innocence. “I told you not to touch her. Next time I won’t be so forgiving.”
One last strike of Gryphon’s black whip sent Michael in a rapture of blinding agony.
Out of all the questions Zamora could’ve asked, she chose the most prominent one on her mind. “How did you get captured?”
Pisces shrugged as her frightened eyes darted to some dusty space in her monochrome cell. “Master Gryphon hates angels. I was naive enough to believe he loved me when he told me to come to his castle. He was so handsome, so good to me. At first…”
Pisces purposefully shifted so that her white clothes slid slightly off her angular shoulder, revealing what looked to be angry welts and red whip-marks. Zamora covered her mouth in horror. “I’m sorry.”
Pisces gave a small, sad smile. “Don’t be. It’s not your fault. But now, Michael is here. He can save you- us. You will be Princess of Heaven, working alongside a handsome Archangel. You just need to hope.”
Zamora bit her lip as she thought of Salem. How she missed him, how she would betray Heaven by being with him.
“Please, Princess. Please forget that demon. I know it is cruel, but let him go,” Pisces reasoned. She was sent to kill Salem, to end his life and drag Zamora with her to heaven. But now here she was, taking the nice way out.
Zamora frowned as her heart sank. Leave Salem? Just like that? Just let him go? How could it be so easily to Pisces, so simple?
“Do you understand how difficult that would be for me?” Zamora’s voice came out colder than she had expected. “I love that demon. I’ve never fallen so hard for anyone in my entire life. That demon gave me something so rare, so beautiful and you expect me to just leave him? I’m sorry, but I’m giving up my position. Pick someone else to be Heaven’s princess. The perfect Prince Archangel can work alongside someone else. I need that demon. Not just any demon, but Salem. My Salem.”
Zamora’s lower lip quivered at the built-up emotion she’d just released. Pisces was frozen. And when she spoke, her voice held no hint of abnormality like before. She sounded so strangely human.
“True love between Heaven’s Angel and Lucifer’s Demon. Princess, I know you are kind-hearted. You would make a wonderful ruler. But if you don’t agree to marry Michael, a war will break out. You’re the daughter of Queen Ephemera. Risking everything for love is reckless, and only those with the strongest souls can do it. Are you willing to fight this hard for a demon?”
Immediately Zamora answered. “Yes.”
The guardian angel sent a sad smile. “You know, you’re name was originally going to be Hopeful.”
Zamora’s amber eyes crinkled at the sweet reminiscence in the angel’s voice. “What made them change it to Zamora?”
“Angel Sagittarius. He went straight to Queen Ephemera and said it was a stupid choice for a name, that they should at least make it Hope.”
Despite their current state, Zamora giggled. She could just imagine how sassy Sagittarius and straight forward he’d be. The guardian angel was absolutely fearless. Even so, Zamora kind of liked the name Hopeful.
Though at the mention of Queen Ephemera, a feeling of curiosity went through Zamora. She wanted to know who her mother was, and her father as well. There was some sort of urge in Zamora to seek them out, to discover who they were.
“Do you know of my father?” She asked. At that question, Pisces frowned. “I don’t know. No-one knows. Queen Ephemera had you out of wedlock.”
Zamora shook her head. “I can tell you’re lying.”
Pisces adopted a look of fear. “I can not tell you, princess. It could ruin all chances with Michael-” She covered her mouth once she realized her mistake.
“There is no chance with Michael and I. Just tell me, Pisces,” Zamora coaxed.
Pisces let out a breath in defeat. “Archangel Zerachiel. Father of Angel Michael.” Zamora bit her lip as her fingers dug nervously into her palm. “So Michael is my brother?”
Pisces’s blue eyes darted away as guilt washed over her. She could’ve just ruined Heaven’s entire plans. But Zamora deserved to know the truth.
“It is not uncommon for brother and sister arrangements in Heaven. Genetics work differently- as you took completely after your father and Michael took after Queen Ephemera. There is barely any trace of your ties to one another.”
Zamora shook her head as she glanced at the brightening sky outside her cell window. “Nevertheless, Michael is my brother.”