Raph pushed to his feet and followed her out the back door. “They’ll wait.” He said, staying close behind her as they walked down the dank, dimly-lit alley behind the bar.
Cara snorted. “What do you know, Raph? They’re only waiting because I told them to. You aren’t their leader anymore--I am!”
Raph sighed--he didn’t have the patience left for her posturing. “I don’t care.” He said tiredly, speeding past her at a brisk clip. Cara clattered on her heels behind him, trying to catch up and swearing loudly as her ankles nearly failed her.
Ignoring her, Raph shoved the same pile of debris and bottles that has always been there out of the way and uncovered the grate in the wall. Prying it open deftly, Raph dropped himself into the familiar sewer tunnel that lead to the gang’s hideout, landing on his feet with a splash that soaked his shoes completely. “You coming?” he asked, popping his head out to watch Cara as she stomped over.
“Shut up and get out of my way.” She huffed, slinging herself in beside him. The grate slammed shut with a dull clang behind them. “Let’s just get this over with.” She muttered darkly, skulking away from him further into the cramped tunnel.
Raph followed after her, stepping lightly to avoid any traps or pitfalls. Luckily for him, it didn’t look like Cara had bothered to change them up since his time. An oversight on her part, sure, but it worked out just fine for him.
The tunnel stretching out in front of them began to widen, and soon opened up to a large cavern with three more tunnel entrances on the far wall. Cara veered towards the one on the left.
“That’s the wrong way.” Raph said quickly, glancing towards the path he’d always taken.
Cara rolled her eyes and kept walking. “You didn’t think we’d keep everything the same, did you?”
“I guess not,” Raph muttered under his breath.
Cara led him down an unfamiliar, twisting series of tunnels and corridors, stopping in the middle of one and pulling up a grate in the floor. “Watch your step,” she smirked before jumping down into darkness.
He let out a low whistle, impressed despite himself. “Nice.” He said, taking in the high ceilings of the rough, dark-stone cave. It was much bigger than their old hideout, which had been built into a forgotten section of the old sewer tunnels. There were mismatched sconces lighting up the room with flickering orange flames.
A long wooden table took up half of the room, and was surrounded by young demons sitting in an odd assortment of mismatched chairs. Raph silently wondered how they’d gotten a table that big all the way down here.
The kids began to stand up at their approach. “Raph?” A tall, thin boy with prematurely grey hair walked over. He looked Raph over with an expression of mock-confusion. “Wow, you’re a lot more…alive than I thought you’d be.”
Raph punched him on the shoulder lightly. “Nice to see you too, Allister.” Allister chuckled and rubbed at his shoulder. “Ow. Yeah. Nice isn’t the word I would’ve gone with. The hell did you get yourself into?”
A girl with pointed ears showing through her long dark hair came up behind Allister, draping herself over his shoulder and leaning heavily on him. “You mean what the hell did he get us all into, right, Alli? Hi Raph.”
It took Raph a second to place the girl’s face. He nearly did a double-take as he realized who she was. “Isabelle?!” he said, failing to hide the surprise in his voice. Her full lips pulled into a smirk that showed off a flash of fangs. That was her, alright. When Raph had last seen Isabelle she’d been a tiny, scrappy little thing, all adolescent angles and big, midnight blue eyes. She’d really grown up since he’d left the gang, and wasn’t hiding her hellhound features the way she’d used to.
“You totally didn’t recognize her!” Cara called accusatorily from her seat at the head of the table. Of course the chaise lounge was her seat.
Isabelle laughed and shook her head. “It’s okay, I almost didn’t recognize him. What are you even wearing, the Ralph Lauren Hot Mess collection?”
Raph scowled and grumbled something about portals made of angel flesh.
Isabelle raised both eyebrows and cocked her head to the side. “You know what? I don’t want to know.” She stated, walking back to the table and taking her seat.
“Come on!!” Cara cried impatiently. “Some of us were in the middle of looting, remember?”
“All of us were in the middle of looting, boss.” A boy sitting near her pointed out.
Allister nodded. “Know your enemy. You taught us that.”
“Right,” Raph said, inhaling shakily before he continued. He had to do this, even if it was crazy. He’d promised. “I need your help to break into the dungeons and rescue an angel.”
The room exploded into noise as a dozen voices began talking all at once.
“An angel? What--“
“HOW DO YOU EXPECT--“
Raph explained the situation, all of it, reliving details he’d almost forgotten and telling them why Abby, and therefore Gabe’s soul, were so ridiculously important to their continued survival. He finished and looked at the stunned faces surrounding him, feeling once again like this was all a huge mistake.
It was Isabelle who broke the silence. “I’ll help you, Raph. I owe you one, right?” She winked at him, offering a smaller smile than before. “But if we pull this off, you’ll owe me.”
Allister stared Raph in the eyes. “You’re crazy and this whole thing is suicide. But I’m in.” He grinned at Raph, who glanced at Cara.
She rolled her eyes. “You already know I’m going to help, idiot. I’d have led you into the death tunnel if I wasn’t.”
Raph blinked. Death tunnel? He didn’t have time to dwell on that as everyone else around the table grudgingly chimed in their acceptance.
“Okay, so we’re doing this,” Cara said, looking over the gang like a queen holding court. “Any ideas?”
A short kid near the end of the table spoke up in a surprisingly deep voice. “Getting in is the easy part. The palace is ancient. There are passageways and corridors that have been abandoned for years, entire wings that no one remembers. Getting in isn’t the problem. Getting out is.”
A girl with short spiky blonde hair nodded in agreement beside him. “You’ll need to escape quickly once you grab the angel--Gabe, right?-- but you can’t. Mirrors won’t work in the dungeons, not for demons like us. Ever heard of anyone escaping the dungeons?” she asked, looking around at her companions. “Yeah. You haven’t. Because only an Original Fallen’s power works in the dungeons. And unless one of us is secretly a General who’s been slumming it, we aren’t getting that angel out any time soon.”
Raph took a moment to digest this new information. The girl was right; without a quick way to escape, they had no chance. If he couldn’t just warp Gabe and himself to the surface, they’d both end up imprisoned, and Abby wouldn’t be far behind.
“Well that settles it then,” Allister said, like he already knew the answer. Raph shot him a questioning glance. Allister shrugged. “All we have to do is blackmail an Original Fallen. How hard could it be?”
Raph stared at Allister unblinkingly as he turned the idea over in his head. “That…might actually work. How good are you guys at stalking people?”
She pouted, and then smirked. “Sure you do, pops. You just weren’t a great dad. Kind of a deadbeat, actually.”
Mammon glowered at her; he’d never seen this girl in his life, and if he had, he probably would have snapped her neck long ago. She was annoying him.
She carried on, unperturbed. “My mother is Colonel Lyricia of the 1st Battalion. That should jog your memory.”
Mammon didn’t even try to stop the laugh that escaped him. “You presume too much, girl. You could rhyme off her name, address and a list of her best features, and I still wouldn’t remember the slut.”
Her face contorted into an ugly snarl.
“Calm down.” He snapped. Tiresome girl. “I only seduce people I want something from. If I slept with your mother, it was because she had something to offer me other than her companionship. Whatever it was, it couldn’t have been that memorable.”
The girl inhaled, sharply and irritably. “Fine, whatever. Since you obviously don’t know, I’m Lorelei. I just came here to help you out, dad. You seem to be in a bit of trouble, you know, now that you’ve pissed off all of the royals.” She grinned, pale eyes lighting up. “Besides, I thought we could get in a little father-daughter bonding!”
Mammon snorted. “Bonding?” he muttered, glancing at his exhausted, wounded dogs. They weren’t panting as hard, and were quietly checking each other for damage. He was glad to have stopped running, if only for their sakes. If they didn’t have time to recover, they would cease to be of any use to him. And by the sound of it, he needed all the allies he could get right now. Not that he trusted Lorelei as far as he could throw her. The girl was hiding something; that much was painfully obvious.
And what could that possibly be, he thought sarcastically. Satan and Lucifer both called for his blood, and if Lorelei was anything like her father, she was all ready to sell him to the highest bidder. No doubt his pretty head would fetch a handsome price. But, he had to admit, he was rather attached to it. A smile curved across his pale lips, lifting the edges slightly. His supposed progeny would soon learn the first lesson her father would ever teach her; never cross a double-crosser.
“So you want to help me, hmm? Somehow I doubt that.” Power flooded his veins in an instant, his eyes filling with black. Darkly glowing tattoos wove their way across his pale skin.
Lorelei blinked in surprise, then let out a low chuckle. “Should’ve known it wouldn’t be that easy.” Her light-gray eyes abruptly turned black as she tapped into her power. “Why don’t you make this easy on yourself and just give up now? I’d almost feel bad, hurting an old man like you.”
Mammon snorted again. “Worry about your own hide.” He said, warping behind her fast as a whip and curling his fingers towards her neck. She disappeared just as quickly, materialising at the far end of the clearing.
Freja growled low in her throat and made to rush Lorelei, dark markings swirling below the surface of her blood-smeared skin. “Stay.” Mammon ordered, giving her and Fenris a look. He wanted to test the girl’s abilities himself; he didn’t need their interference. Lorelei wasn’t nearly as dangerous as she thought she was. “I thought you came here to fight, not run and hide.” He called, voice ringing as it echoed off the preposterously large tree trunks.
“Fight, yes. Die?” In a snap she was in front of him, so near that he could feel her breath on his face. “Not today.” She pulled away from him, but he was too fast for her, feinting alongside her and gripping her arm. She tried to shake him off, to no avail. With a hard jerk, he twisted her around and pinned her arm behind her back.
“No?” he breathed, mildly disappointed that it was over already. The fight he had anticipated had been little more than a sorry spat; frankly, he had hoped for more from someone claiming to be his child.
He was about to say so when she suddenly twisted back around and rammed a short blade into his side up to the hilt. “No.” she snarled, dissipating in a blink.
Hissing softly through his teeth, Mammon reached down, probing the fresh wound with bare fingers. He held them up to his eye-level, rubbing the fresh, rapidly cooling blood between thumb and fingers. “Interesting,” he said, looking from his bloody fingertips to the girl.
He smiled coldly at Lorelei, who stood a good ten yards away, holding the arm he had twisted. With the odd way it was hanging, he assumed he had dislocated it. Good. “Well. Perhaps you aren’t as much of a disappointment as I thought. Who knows! At the rate you’re going,” His breath hitched as he pulled the short blade out in one smooth motion. “you might become daddy’s favourite.” He tossed the knife to the ground, carelessly stepping on it as he walked towards Lorelei.
He had what he wanted; there was no point in drawing this farce out any longer. Plans rapidly constructed themselves in his head now that he had a better idea of her capabilities. Yes, she would do quite nicely, he thought. Naïve, misguided little Lorelei wouldn’t realise what role she played in his own grand scheme until it was far too late to stop him; he would make sure of that. He just had to make the next bit convincing.
He was sure that the sharp blow to the back of her skull was convincing, as was the knee to her stomach as she bowled over gracelessly. The swift kick he dealt her face with his scuffed, filthy shoes had to have been convincing; he’d really tried on that one. He stood over her as she moaned, hands over her bloodied mouth. Something was missing. Ah! Of course. One short second later, he had the dirt and blood encrusted blade in hand.
“I almost forgot to return this to you, sweetheart.” He said, smooth as silk. “Let daddy help you put your toys away.” He said, plunging the knife into her torso, making a matching wound on the exact opposite side of his own. Her cries of anguish fell on deaf ears.
“Fenris. Freja. Here.” He commanded, and the dogs rushed to his side. Deftly, Mammon grabbed their hands in his. “Been lovely catching up with you, dear. We must do this again sometime.” He said, smiling pleasantly at the girl writhing in pain on the forest floor. “Now, daddy has to go talk to some very important people about a business proposition.” He braced himself for teleportation. “Be a good girl.”
He smirked, warping away from Lorelei and the forest of tall trees. He made sure she was following his trail before he changed directions. Stupid girl. Just as he’d banked on. She’d learn by the end of this to never, ever try to cross him again.
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- Thief (19)
Chapter One Abby had no idea what was going on anymore. She sat on the fold-out couch in the Ward family’s library, the same cou...
Chapter Seven Gabe’s eyes creaked open slowly and painfully. Ugh . What happened , he wondered as he stared blea...
Chapter Eighteen Aiden and Gabriel Sr. had checked every place they could think of that Abby might be. The scho...
Chapter Seventeen Winter’s calm had settled over the cabin like a blanket. The previous night’s storm...
Chapter Two They lay together in Satan’s chambers, Lucifer curled protectively around Sataniel’s sleepi...
Chapter Fifteen Lorelei had chased after him like a lost puppy. Mammon didn’t stop her, and didn’t let her lose...
Chapter Fourteen Aiden was doing his best not to pace back and forth; no matter how distraught he was, pacing just ...
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Chapter Nineteen Raph had been cooped up in Cara’s headquarters for days, if not weeks. He wasn’t sure how...
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