Chapter Twenty-Five

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It doesn't matter how many times I encounter this man.

Looking upon him is to look upon pure evil, a creature without scruples, without ability to love. With a foreboding appearance—inky hair streaked with silver and a stiff suit that allows little movement—he stands above me, as if willing me to leave my knees.

To be between worlds, a place I've only been once before in the presence of the Lord, it is only natural to be fearful of the destination. The endless void of galaxies and never-ending space only heightens that sense of displacement.

Only knowing that I'm in the presence of a demon eager to see me disjointed do I find the courage to stand, to rise to his height and set my shoulders squarely, piercing him with a look that should easily show the hatred I possess for him. He is undoubtedly taller than I, freakishly so considering I already stand over six feet and yet once I'm up, he seems somehow smaller in comparison.

The god bristles, unable to hide his distain in this proximity.

The ordeal he's torn me abruptly from on earth weighs on me like a boulder. I speak through teeth that physically ache to be extended to their true length, wishing to bring forth death. "You brought me to this place because you fear me on earth?"

As expected, his head cocks with disbelief. "I do not fear you, vampire."

"Then return me to the ground." My wrists ache in the straining. I want very much to hurt him, and hurt him badly. "We will deal with this there."

"That would hardly be a fair fight. I cannot bring harm unto you."

An explosion of noise erupts from my chest, leaving me in the form of a snarl. "You dare speak of fairness while a graveyard now exists because of your pride!"

"Did you really expect I'd allow my brother to aid her and exact no countering attack? You are a war hero, lad. Surely you understand a fair deal about war by now." He shakes his head. "He's moved the chess pieces from the very beginning. I'm tired of losing this war because I don't want to hurt her."

"That's a goddamn farce and you well know it."

"It's not." He overlooks my disheveled appearance. "As much as you wish to deny it, I have restrained myself considerably from countering against her. Do you actually think I desire to torment her so?"

"I do. I think it gives you sick pleasure to exert power over her."

"Cassandra is by no means a submissive woman. Very little did I exert power over her in reality. The woman has a keen way of weakening a man to her will, as you well know."

"Is this why you've summoned me here? To fiddle around with words, persuade me to your cause?"

"I summoned you here to talk sense into you. After what you just saw, I thought perhaps you'd listen."

He's circling me, attempting to remind me of whose domain I stand upon.

Perhaps a smarter man would recognize the displacement, the Dark God's advantage of familiarized ground and keep a closed mouth. However, my skin feels as if it's peeling, tissue by slab of tissue. I can still recall Paris's agonizing wails, how Damien tried to carve out my very eyes. I can remember a man desperately using the people I love against each other, leaving me helpless to watch it unfold.

"I expected the earthquake, the threatening of our lives. I didn't expect you'd be heartless enough to take out your frustrations on the innocent. Somehow, we both thought even that was beneath you."

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