Diabolus: The Lost Phoenix

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Chapter Twenty Four

KAI WOODS

“Are you sure about this?”

I watch the script; the damned piece of paper that ruined so many people’s lives. Avery’s life. A few words, written in Latin, but having so much power. Giving my brain a lot more questions than it can absorb.

“I’m sure.”

Everyone surrounds me, while I stand by the fireplace. We stand by the flame, our features illuminated by the flickering light, the only one in the room, that is supposed to make us feel cozy; but instead, the air is full of anxiety. Though the air isn’t smokey we can smell the pine as it burns, just a faint fragrance that tries to reassure our senses that there will be comfort on this chilly night.

After we decided to change the place we’re living in, we rented a cozy house outside the city. No unwanted eyes. No witnesses. Just us; a family, that stayed together no matter what.

But I’m waiting, I’m still waiting for a guest. For Daryl; that possibly knows something about the words written in script. Because until I won’t find out, I won’t be able to sleep. Does it mean that we fought for nothing? And Avery was kidnapped for all those years, for nothing?

Almost nothing.

“There’s no turning back after you do this, you know that.”

“There will be no treasure to find.”

I sigh, feeling Beverly’s hand slipping into mine and how perfectly our fingers intertwine. Giving me warmth that the fire can’t give me. Giving me the strength that needs to be rebuild everyday. Hoping that the things I’m keeping for myself won’t ruin the bond that we have.

“This has to end. Now.”

No turning back. No second chances. I look at the script for the last time before my fingers loosen and I release it, letting it freely fly into the fire, the hungry flames that lethally lick everything around them. I look at the little paper, the script, that’s probably worth more than my life, being fed into the hungry fire until all that is left of it is some ash and an imperceptible darkening of the sandy brick work. It’s gone. Forever.

Beverly’s hand squeezes mine even tighter as all of our eyes keep locked on the fireplace, watching the flames beautifully dancing with each other, letting the sparks fly and showing the most beautiful hues of amber and red.

“Hey.”

Brent stops next to me, handing me a glass of scotch. I glance at his worried eyes, looking at me, and the reflection of fire in his pupils looks like it’s his eyes that are burning.

“You know we still have a fight ahead of us. And probably, a bad one. But this is a first step closer to the end.”

“I know. I’m glad that this nightmare is going to end soon.”

I turn around to face others, that already took seats on black leather couch and armchairs behind me; but no one seems to be happy. And just a couple of days ago, the smiles were all over their faces...

“Avery.”

She suddenly lifts her eyes at me; her raised eyebrows don’t bother to show the surprise that she feels, when I said her name.

“I must say, I wasn’t truly a believer at first, and I’m really sorry I haven’t believed in the gift that you have.”

Sadness flashes in her eyes, but she doesn’t turn away from me, watching me, being surprised and confused at the same time.

“It is a gift, Avery. And you should appreciate it.”

“Thank you, Kai. This really means a lot.”

We both smile to each other as I take a sip of scotch; letting the spicy drink to burn down my throat, at least for a second, giving me a relief that I needed.

“You know I’m proud of you, baby. I know this was hard for all of us, we fought so hard for this piece of paper, and now it turned into ashes. But your decision was right, and my respect for you grows with every day.”

I turn to Beverly, to meet her big blue eyes that are watching me; and seem to be seeing only me. And every time I look at her, it feels like I’m seeing her for the first time again. That relief that calms me down every time she’s near me. Just after more than a year... it seems like I can’t breathe when she’s not close to me. She’s my air. My heartbeat. She’s everything that I live for.

“I love you more than life itself. Remember it, because it will last forever.”

Beverly smiles the way a little girl would; widely, with sudden happiness glistening in her eyes. I lean closer and as soon as our lips touch, it feels like it was that fire burning on my lips, hot, melting every bad thought inside my head and lifting me up to the sky. Her hand cups my cheek and pulls my face closer, not to make this intimate, not to make this passionate; to show, how much she actually loves me.

But suddenly, our kiss is interrupted by a sound outside the house. A car, turning into our driveway.

“Everyone, get away from the windows.”

I nod to Brent and we both carefully walk to the window that opens the view to the driveway, but it’s hard for someone to see us in there. I spot a black car, and it’s door slowly opening. I hear how Brent loads his gun, waiting for someone to hop out. Expecting to see Caden.

But the person that gets out of the car is the one that I expected. Daryl.

He closes the car door and reaches for his pocket, I feel how Brent holds his breath for a moment. Then suddenly, Daryl pulls his gun out and throws it on the lawn. Then another gun. And another. He lifts his hands up, like he was surrendering; but no one is attacking.

“Perfect. Now we can ask some questions.”

“No.”

“Kai? Who is out there?”

Beverly looks at me with the most anxious face that I’ve ever seen, like a puppy, which makes my heart melt in an instant.

“Daryl.”

“Then Brent is right. We have to ask him about the script. Why did he gave it to you-”

“Please, Beverly.”

I walk to her and place both of my palms on her cheeks. She looks deep inside my eyes, like she was trying to find an answer; which I cannot give to her. Not yet.

“Will you let me handle this? Alone?”

For a moment, she hesitates, but nods in agreement. I place a kiss on her forehead, like it was a promise that everything will be alright, holding my lips on her skin for a while; like her touch was giving me the strength that I need. As I lean back, Brent comes to me and hands me his gun. They don’t trust Daryl, and neither do I. But he’s the only one that can answer my questions.

With no hesitation, I storm out of the house and stop on the front porch, shutting the door behind me. A smile creeps on Daryl’s face and he lets his arms down.

“Have you read it?”

“Yes.”

“Everything?”

“Yes.”

“So which one of you can read Latin?”

“I do. No one else of us does.”

Daryl chuckles as I walk towards him, squeezing the gun in my palm. He lifts his head just a little up, and his face and also, his words, seem like he was reading me through like a book.

“Have you told them everything?”

“No.”

Daryl nods, I bet he was expecting that. I bet he was expecting I will want to find out what those words mean before I tell everyone else; and give them one more thing to worry about.

“Alright. Let’s take a walk, Diabolus.”

“Why should I trust you and go somewhere with you?”

“I gave you the script. For free. At least I deserve your trust to take a walk with me.”

I nod in agreement when I can’t find the words to argue with him and we start walking further away from the house. He did gave it to me, not explaining anything. Not telling me anything.

“Will you tell me what those words mean, now?”

“You know exactly what they mean. There’s no other explanation.”

I sigh, thinking that the glass of scotch would be the greatest salvation right now. The best thing to forget those words that are repeating in my head; both in English and Latin.

Tantum modo invenire thesaurisare thesaurum quod puella cùm caput aureum, et oculi qui videns in posterum. Potestatis eius et ne nostram vestramque progeniem ad illud solum in auxilium a persona ex idem sanguine.

The only way to find our treasure is a girl with hair made out of gold, and eyes that see the future. Her powers will lead our descendants to it only being close to a person from the same bloodline.

And it makes no fucking sense.

“I don’t, Daryl. What the fuck does it mean that they have to be from the same bloodline?”

“You’re just overreacting, and you don’t want to accept the fact that there’s someone related to Avery.”

I swallow as we keep walking, surprised by Daryl’s answer. And indeed, I can’t accept that thought. Because it gives me one more reason to be anxious and angry at the same time. Because the only person that could be related to Avery, is Beverly. Because of their strong connection.

“Tell me everything you know. Just fucking tell me.”

“You know, I’ve heard a lot of stories about you. I actually really admire you.”

“That’s not a fucking answer.”

“What do you want to hear from me? That I know how your wife is related to Avery? Unfortunately, I don’t.”

“Why do you think it’s Beverly?”

“Come on, are you blind? They look practically the same.”

Then it suddenly hits me, the fact that was right in front of me, the answer that was right in front of my eyes for all this time. They both look really alike. They both have issues with their families. And for some reason, they were dreaming about each other.

It would explain a lot of things. But still... I can’t believe that this might be true.

“Even if it’s true... how it will lead Avery to the mysterious hidden treasure?”

“It’s simple. It won’t.”

Daryl clears his throat before continuing to speak, and I feel how my head fills with all the thoughts that will keep me sleepless at night.

“I want you to trust me, Diabolus. I was an archeologist once, and I was obsessed with Vikings. Unfortunately, it didn’t end up well. But I still know a lot of things about them, and most of all, this hidden treasure. For many years, a lot of people tried to find it, but no one succeeded. If it was not even existing. I started to believe in it, until one day, when I found the script.”

“So you were trying to find it, too?”

“Not exactly. A mind is the most powerful weapon, and I’ve seen a lot of people that were driven insane just because of desire for treasure. We have an example that you killed a couple days ago. And this kind of power shouldn’t exist in the world, it has to be destroyed, forever.”

And as much as I don’t want to trust Daryl, unfortunately, I do. I do agree with every word of his, I know he’s right about everything. About the damage that money does to people. And probably about Beverly, being related to Avery.

“So what? Why are you doing this? Why did you gave me the script when you could’ve sold it to someone?”

Suddenly, Daryl stops in front of me and looks at me. There’s no smile on his face, only seriousness, showing how much it matters to him.

“Because I need a dance partner. And who would be better than the famous Diabolus?”

“A dance partner for what?”

“To get rid of Caden, of course.”

I watch him, waiting for some sign that gives out that he’s lying. But he keeps that seriousness on his face, that kind of look that gives me a reason to trust him.

Maybe I’m dumb. Maybe this will be the worst decision in my life. But I’m willing to take the risk.

“I thought you were willing to have a deal with him.”

He would have never payed me that much money for a script, and I know him for many years, I know how Caden thinks. But without your help, I won’t be able to kill him.

“Why do you want to kill him?”

“I have my own reasons.”

I keep staring at him, at his dark eyes that glow in the nightlights. His serious face expression, none of his muscles move, like he wasn’t a human. Waiting, while my brain is full of thoughts and questions, the things I should do, that give me nothing but anxiety.

The only thing I know is that I have to save us. All of us.

“If you want me to trust you completely, I have to know there’s nothing you’re hiding from me. If I agree to work together with you, there has to be no secrets. At all.”

“Let’s just say Caden was guilty for someone’s death. Someone that was important to me. A very long time ago.”

“So why is he still alive?”

“You shouldn’t underestimate Caden, he’s a very smart, sly man. But from the stories I’ve heard about you, I believe you’re smarter. Stronger. And that’s the partner that I need.”

The look that he gives me is making me feel that the fight is about to start. A fight with no rules, and I will have to risk my life again. I love rules. I do. They tell me what boundaries need breaking next. But I don’t want anyone else to risk their lives. I know we’re all in this together, but it happens every time I know that something bad is coming. I’m afraid, not because I could die. But because I could lose someone that I love.

I have to make sure my people are going to be safe. I don’t want to lose any of them, not for a crazy man like Caden is.

"I need him dead, and I honestly don’t care about people who will die in the process."

It’s like a volcano started erupting inside me; suddenly growing fury, sweeping off me like ferocious waves. Daryl notices it; he notices how my face turns into a frown, and my eyes paint in blood red from anger.

"But I’m willing to offer you a deal. I’ll make sure you’ll get the best weapons any person could ever give to you. I’ll make sure you’ll get armor so no one could hurt you. Any of you. But as soon as the fight starts, we’re not leaving until Caden’s head is separated from his body."

I take a deep breath, letting myself to calm down. Already tasting the blood and adrenaline this fight will give, and even if I won’t agree to work together with Daryl, the fight will still happen, there’s no way to avoid it. I’m not the person that runs anymore. But I have to make the best decision for me and my family.

And end this forever.

"So, Diabolus. Do we have a deal?"

"Now we need a plan."

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