Chapter Twenty Seven
As we reach the manufacturing district, our car slows down in front of the huge, probably, unused factory. The building is colorless, gray, the kind of place where no happiness ever reached. Every building looks the same way, only a few workers walking outside with their bright colored vests, probably, taking their earned breaks.
I turn my head to the left to look at Kai, his serious face, as if all the warmth was sucked out of him; now it’s all business. His face is stern, yet surprisingly peaceful as he stopped the car and kept his eyes on the area in front of him; lifeless building, and his people, getting out of their black cars.
When my voice breaks the uncomfortable silence, he finally turns to me, his eyes soften in an instant. I notice the corners of his lips moving, trying to fight a smile as he looks at me and immediately starts calming down.
“Are you ever afraid?”
“That you might… not make it?”
Within his often serious and mobile face are eyes that twinkle. In just moments his mouth gives up the tension and worry our days keep building, his lips breaking into a boyish grin. I feel his gentle, but electrical fingers sliding into my palm, spreading the warmth, and the heat seems to travel through my veins, warming me up. When Kai touches me, it all changes; there's no war, no death, no suffering, just us.
“Sometimes. But I have to deal with the perks of being an assassin. But to be honest, I’m more fearful that someone that I care about will not make it. That’s why I would prefer to be working alone.”
“But we’re a team.”
“That’s why I’m not making those decisions alone. But I would always choose to die myself, to make sure I did everything to protect you, and others.”
I smell his sweet, yet spicy cologne when he leans a little closer, lifts his head up to reach my forehead. When he plants the kiss there I feel warmth spread through my limbs and my mind feels a pleasant buzz. Everything seems possible now, likely even.
When we pull apart, a man in front of our car catches my attention and it’s a sign that we have to get out. His dark brown eyes, somehow, seem to be filled with pain and hidden trauma, glistening in the light that radiated off the sun above him. His forehead is hidden under dark brown hair, but you could still spot the odd wrinkles; and a silent half-grin on his face, a little tipsy.
“Well finally, the most beautiful couple of assassins.”
“You want to piss me off? Already?”
As we hop out of the car, he spreads his muscular arms to the sides, as if we were his old friends that he was happy to see again. The playful smile on his lips is kind of annoying, something inside me tells me not to trust him; but if Kai does, it means I have to believe in him.
I notice a few men with black suits behind Daryl, as if this was a business meeting; which we all know, is not.
“No need to be so angry, Diabolus. We are a team now, we have to work together.”
“We’re not a team, we just have the same aim.”
“Isn’t that the same thing?”
Daryl chuckles and quickly shoves his hands into his pockets, rocking from his heels to toes. When we get closer to him, all of us, I feel the tension starting to grow. I know no one trusts him, but Kai. And I have no idea why he is doing this, being so gullible, a little irresponsible, yet I know no one will have doubts about his decisions.
“Are you all ready for the dance with Caden?”
“Do you have the weapons?”
“Of course. Like I promised.”
“Then we’re ready to kill him.”
“What’s the plan? How we’ll find him?”
When my lips part and words leave my mouth, I see how Daryl draws his eyes to me and for a moment, he keeps his gaze on both me and Avery. It seems like he knows a lot more than he says, or at least, he understands a lot more. I fight an urge to ask him if he knows something about both of us, if we are actually related; yet I know it’s not the right moment.
Avery, who was standing behind me, takes a step forward. I noticed how she watched Daryl’s mouth as it moved, as he spoke, it seemed like she just looked at him as if he was a radio and not a person who is there to be interacted with. It’s like as if the words are still circulating her mind and not yet allowed to flow outward into the world.
Before opening her mouth to talk, she lets out a shaky breath. Like the he dread and anxiety would have deadened her mind and body. In her frozen state, she lets out a shaky breath, closing her weary eyes. Daryl was the person who always knew where she was, and what she was going through. Yet he did nothing to save her.
“Caden has a lot of buildings that he owns, most of them are outside the town. If we would start searching, I think we could find him.”
“Avery, darling, if we started searching for Yellow Eye, his men would quickly tell him where we are, and our plan would be ruined.”
I notice her lips purse, as Daryl makes sure to put her in the shadows with rejection. Of course, he has no reason to show that he cares about any of us; but with Avery, at least, he should be more than polite.
“Okay, so you do have a plan on how to find him?”
“No. I know exactly where he is.”
“Because you, my friend, killed his father and the rest of his men, he has no idea where the script is. He still believes I have it. The treasure is still the most important thing for him, so I agreed to sell it for a small price.”
“And he believed you?”
“Of course he did. Wealth, gold, is blinding people. That’s why I don’t want to find the treasure myself.”
The deepest part of my mind had a thought that Daryl might have some secret plan, on how to destroy Caden, and find the treasure himself; but that look on his eyes, that hides some deep, slashing pain, is the reason why I couldn’t let this thought to blind me. He must’ve went through something painful, tragical, his reason has to be deeper than finding that treasure.
“But you all have to be smart. Careful. His men are trained killers, they’re ruthless, cruel, if you’ll get distracted, only for a second, you will be dead, trust me. If some of you aren’t sure if you’re able to fight, then please, don’t.”
“Avery and Maileen will stay out of this, I can’t protect them while we fight. At the end, at least those girls will be kept alive.”
I turn to Kai, but it seems like he refuses to look at me; his eyes are only on Daryl, like they were having an invisible fight. I can feel the tension in my bones, in my veins, growing with every second. It’s always that strange feeling when we have to work with someone, accept someone into our crew - especially a guy like Daryl, whose intentions are still obscure.
“If anyone is hesitating, just think about it.”
“Please, it’s not our first fight.”
“Believe me, it could be the last.”
“Why does it seem like you’re trying to scare us away? If we said we can do this, it means we can. Period. We’ll survive, because we work together, we fight together.”
Brent takes a few steps towards Daryl; his huge body seems to be diminishing Daryl’s, until he’s as small as a bug, compared to the giant Brent. I see his muscles tensing, as if one wrong word, or move, would make him throw a fist straight to Daryl’s sharp jaw. Who surprisingly, is standing still. No fear in his eyes. Just the same pain, which shows how sure he is about reaching his aim.
“If you say so. It’s for you to decide, all I care about is killing Yellow Eye, and like we agreed to, I made sure that you will be as much armored as you possibly can be.”
“You have nothing to worry about. He will be dead.”
I notice Kai, and how slowly he draws his eyes to Avery. In an instant, she notices his suddenly soft look, like he was trying to deliver a silent message to her.
“Like I told you… I will make sure he goes through hell. For everything that he did.”
Like I had to expect, Daryl was right. The place where he led us to is maybe fifty miles outside the city. Streams of sunlight fall through the thick wall of trees, filling up every space between the leaves with warm, sugary light. I wouldn’t call it a forest, nothing like that; just a spot on the bare field, thick with about a dozen of trees, hiding Yellow Eye’s mansion like soldiers.
Nothing that I could call a house, a mansion, hidden from the world. The old winding stone path just a few meters away from us, which lead directly to the colossal structure. The mansion looms proudly behind creaky iron gates, and black suited men, walking around it with guns, armor, protecting it from intruders that might bother their king’s rest.
Rows of skeletal trees crowned in bright green, swaying gently to the warm spring wind, as if they were trying to hide the place from unwanted eyes. That’s nothing that I have seen before; I was used to old, abandoned factories, houses that criminals choose to hide at. Nothing like a colossal mansion; but probably, this is the place which Caden actually calls home.
That we will take away from him, together with his life.
“Have you been here before?”
I turn to Avery, who now looks more like a corpse than a living person. Pale in face, her arms, crossed by her chest, keeping her eyes on one spot somewhere by her feet, like she was watching the ground intently. She finally draws her scared eyes to me when my voice seems to wake her up from the terrible nightmare, her pupils immobile, like they had not enough energy to move.
“You said that Caden kept taking you to every place he was at. Have you been here before?”
“No… I had no idea this place exists. He usually kept me at old, gross houses that he owns. Nothing beautiful like this one is.”
“After we’re done, there will be nothing beautiful about this place anymore. Trust me.”
Even though Brent is weighing the golden bullets in his hand that Daryl gave to him; golden like the sunlight and the highlights of Avery’s hair; he turns his eyes to her in an instant, comforting her with the warm look and an encouraging smile. This means not as much to us, that it means to both of them. Now it’s not Kai that needs revenge, it’s Brent. And I have a feeling that they had known each other long enough for Brent to use Kai’s methods, this time.
“I can’t wait to see this place drowning in blood.”
“Like I told you, our goal is to kill Caden. As soon as we’re done, we’re leaving.”
“What about his men? They will still try to kill us.”
“Probably. That’s why you should leave the city.”
“That’s what we’re planning to do.”
When Kai locks his eyes at me, I know exactly what he’s talking about. We’re leaving the city. Going back to Chicago. Back, to meet my father. To get the answers.
Although the thought of it makes my hairs stand up straight, I see the sunshine in his eyes. I see the love that burns there too, the sort that goes for an eternity. I always knew, there is something in his spirit that dances when he looks at me, like a fire giving just the right amount of warmth.
After armoring ourselves, putting on the bulletproof vests, making sure to have as much weapons as our bodies can carry, I know the time has come. Only moments before the fight begins, and that feeling that I was dreading of, came back and shut down my brain. The anxiety, maybe, fear, that some of us will not get out of there. It’s always like that, and each time, I hope we all are strong enough to defeat our enemies; yet we never know what destiny has prepared for us.
“Can I trust your men to protect Avery and Maileen?”
“That’s what I was thinking about. Of course, Gary and Jack will make sure to keep them alive.”
Daryl points at two men, standing a little further away from us with their hands in their pockets, their faces serious, their eyes register no life at all, like there was only duty, and nothing else. Even though I’m still not sure if I can trust Daryl… we all have to fight. And those girls still have to be protected.
“Make sure they will. Or all of you are next to lose your heads.”
“That will be unnecessary, Diabolus, trust me.”
Kai keeps his eyes on Daryl for a few more moments, before giving him a cold, callous nod. He looks at everyone of us, at every pair of eyes, like he was trying to get silent answers that we’re all ready. When his eyes stop on mine, warmth fills up those greenish hues in his eyes, and I get the same feeling he gives me all the time. Strength. Courage. Power.
“We’re ready. Let’s end this madness.”
Only a little, almost invisible smile plays on his lips as he turns around on his heel, and starts walking towards the trees, as everyone starts following him. Just when I’m about to take my first step towards the lethal fight, I feel a hand, grabbing mine. It’s a gentle, warm touch, which immediately makes me turn around.
“I know I can’t fight, I’m nothing like all of you are. But at least I can try to help you with something.”
Avery still holds my hand, her eyes, full of fear, as wide open as if newly awoken with an extremely loud noise, she’s breathing faster than a resting person should.
“Caden calls himself Yellow Eye for a reason. You should be aware of it, and you should tell it to others.”
“What are you talking about?”
“He calls himself Yellow Eye, because of his passion to snakes. Not any kind of snakes, the most poisonous ones, the ones that could kill you in an instant.”
I feel my breathing getting heavier, as if my lungs were shrinking and not accepting as much air as my body needs. Just now I realize I have never thought why Caden would call himself like that; after all, every criminal, assassin has its name that others recognize him by. And most of the time… there’s a reason.
“But Daryl… He should’ve told us.”
“Most of Caden’s men don’t even know about this, I know it, because one time, when I was trying to escape, I found the room where he’s keeping those snakes.”
“And he told you what he’s doing with them?”
“It’s pretty obvious, he keeps them in the room with his weapons. You all have to be careful. Daryl might not know about this, but he was right when he told that this is very dangerous. Caden is using the poison for his every weapon, every bullet, every knife he has, everything is soaked in deadly poison. If the poison gets into your blood, you have only a few minutes left to live.”
“What about the time when we saved you? Kevin and Lexi were injured, but they didn’t die.”
“He’s using the poison only for his weapons, there’s not enough poison for his every men’s weapon, and that time, he wasn’t there. But after you saved me, and killed Alexander, I would believe that he got enough of it. He’s ready to fight, trust me.”
I can’t believe what I hear; I don’t want to, anyway. The fear, shock sits on me like a pillow over my mouth and nose. Enough air gets by it, allowing my body to keep functioning, but it's crippling all the same. This is worse that I could ever thought, yet, it’s brilliant, to get rid of your enemies. I bet that Kai would be interested in using this… if we will survive.
“Don’t worry, I’ll warn the others. We’ll come back.”