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It is the middle of the night and I am disoriented. We are all tangled in each other as we’d fallen at the end of our lovemaking. With a few pauses to eat we had pretty much been making love all afternoon and evening. It was dark before we finally fell into an exhausted slumber. And now I’m awake.
There is someone there; in the darkness. I can see well in very little light but there is something I am not seeing now.
Star hisses next to me and I am surprised to see that he is kneeling on the bed in a defensive position. Bridge and Sacha are stirring sluggishly but, as I look, Bridge’s eyes suddenly snap open and he sits up.
“What’s happening? Who’s here?”
What the hell is going on? Since when were Star and Bridge so alert and aware? Duh… since today of course.
Shadows are moving, flowing together into a vaguely human figure as someone steps forward.
“Shit, Serif, you scared the hell out of us.”
Serif smiles, but it isn’t a particularly nice smile.
“How much do you want to break free of the hub?”
“What?” I can’t comprehend the question.
“You heard what I said. How badly do you want to get back your position; get freedom to walk the spokes of the wheel again?”
“Is that possible?” My heart is beating frantically against my chest. There is something in his face that brings, at the same time, wild hope and searing dread.
“Oh it’s possible, it’s more than possible. Do you have any idea how much power you now hold Lumin’el?” As he speaks he moves slowly forward until he is close enough to touch. Something brushes my arm and I turn to see Sacha sitting up, awake now, his face pale with wide eyed terror. He slips his arm through mine and presses himself against me.
“Don’t trust him, Luma,” Bridge says softly, “something’s not right.”
“On the contrary, little fairy, for the first time in thousands of years everything is perfectly right. Right here; right now; in this room, everything is right. You know that don’t you Lumin’el?”
His eyes seem to be expanding; swallowing the room; the people, everything except my reflection in his enormous pupils and the image of the wheel spinning in my head.
“What does he mean?” Star asks defensively.
“He means you Star; you and me and Bridge and Sacha. Vampire; Dragon; Fey and Human: the four races together. It has been millennia since that last happened; before the war, way before the war.”
“Just a war.”
“Just a war? Really Lumin’el,” he says patronisingly, “you have sorely neglected the education of your playthings. It was ‘just a war’ in the same way as you are ‘just a vampire’.”
“It was a long time ago. I made bad choices and I’ve been punished. It’s all in the past.”
Serif laughs. “Oh Lumin’el, you do disappoint me. Haven’t you taught your little creatures about the war? Have you not told them your sad, sad story; how for love you took on the might of the Council of Angels and started the greatest war that was ever fought? It was a war that tore apart Earth and the Heavens. It almost led to the destruction of an entire civilisation. It was a cataclysm that impacted on every civilisation that has existed ever since. The War in Heaven was not ‘a war’ it was The War. Blood rained from a sky where the sun was blotted out by the bodies of angels; twisted in battle; fighting for their lives and for the lives of those they loved. One third of the entire population; from the lowest to the highest, either destroyed or banished from the wheel forever.”
The smile disappears from his face. “Haven’t you shown them the paintings… there are plenty out there after all? Haven’t you taught them Enochian and read to them the many works that have been written over the years? Haven’t you introduced them to the main protagonists? Haven’t you talked about Rapha’el, Micha’el, Gabri’el, Uri’el, Azaz’el, Sari’el? What? None of them? Not even Semyaza? You really should have mentioned that one. Tut tut. Have you not even explained your connection with Lucifer, the Morning Star? He will be so disappointed in you.
“I am disappointed in you,” he snarls. “I had thought you would have retained some of your pride; that you would at least have still owned your identity as a great leader and not turned into this… worm who grovels in the dust, sating his lust with pretty humans. You are not who you were Lumin’el and it was not ‘just a war’.”
“Not then,” I say tightly; my mind whirling with the images invoked by his words, “but now it’s forgotten; gone; over; no longer important… just a war.”
“For you maybe but there are some who have been fighting the same war, for all these years.”
“That’s not true, Serif and you know it. War against the Council was never what we wanted. We weren’t fighting to bring them down; we were fighting for acceptance. That’s all we wanted; to be accepted; to be left alone, just to be.”
“Well, you failed in that didn’t you?”
“Yes, Serif; we did… and so did you.”
Serif chuckles and moves closer, his baby blue eyes are as wide and innocent as ever but with something in their depths that poker oyna I don’t recognise and I don’t like. He is staring past my shoulder and I feel Sacha shiver. I turn and his eyes are wide and empty.
Serif holds out his hand and Sacha rises gracefully to stand in front of him.
“Sacha, don’t trust him. Come back.” I put out a hand to stop Star launching himself at them. Both he and Bridge are now crouched; one on either side, like flanking panthers ready to spring. I am surprised at the energy that is radiating from Bridge and it’s hard to remember him being so weak and frail, and to understand how I could have missed the flavour of it.
Serif reaches out his hand and tucks Sacha’s hair behind his ear, then caresses his cheek with the backs of his fingers. Sacha shivers but doesn’t move. Serif has eyes only for him now and my mind is screaming… ‘wrong, wrong.’
Slowly Serif runs his hands over Sacha’s shoulders and down his arms, then takes his hands and places them on his own chest.
“Can you feel my heart little one? Can you feel it beating?”
“Yes,” Sacha whispers; his eyes locked with the apparently teenaged angel.
Gently Serif strokes Sacha’s arms and then his chest and stomach while we are all frozen in some spell that stops us making a move.
Finally Serif looks up to meet and hold my eyes. “How badly do you want to break free of the hub Lumin’el? What are you prepared to do to walk the spokes again? Are you prepared to trust me?”
He turns Sacha so that Sacha’s back is against his front. He tilts Sacha’s head back to rest on his shoulder. Sacha’s eyes are wide and staring up at the ceiling. He looks ecstatic and gasps with pleasure when Serif runs his hands over his body. I can see the evidence of his pleasure hardening between his legs.
“No; I don’t trust you. If you had asked me yesterday I would probably have said yes but today… I don’t know what game you are trying to play, but I don’t like it.”
“I’m not playing a game, Lumin’el; I’m making you an offer. I can free you from the hub, if you are prepared to pay the price.”
While he speaks he kisses Sacha who moans; his eyes rolling. As I narrow my eyes at him, an uneasy suspicion squirming in my stomach he reaches around and massages Sacha’s groin either side of his now fully erect phallus.
“It depends on the price, Serif.”
Serif smiles at me in a feral way and starts to stroke Sacha’s erection with dextrous fingers. Sacha gives a long drawn out moan and tenses, his back arching.
“You know the price, Lumin’el,” he purrs speeding up.
My heart is beating painfully and I feel Bridge and Star moving closer to my sides. “Don’t trust him Luma,” Star whispers. “There’s something wrong. We should stop this.”
“I don’t know if we can.”
“Can you go to him, Bridge? Can you get off the bed and touch either of them?”
For a moment Bridge looks confused. He looks over at Sacha and Serif and then back at me. He shakes his head; half confused; half horrified. “No, no I can’t. I can’t get off the bed.”
“Neither can I,” Star says warily. “Be careful, Luma.”
“Don’t worry; I’m always careful.”
Serif laughs. “How sweet; you almost sound as if you care, Lumin’el.”
“I do care and I don’t know why or when you stopped.”
“I didn’t.” He grins and something inside me screams. “I’m waiting for an answer, Lumin’el. How badly do you want to be free?”
He makes Sacha whimper as his body tenses further and the muscles in his thighs start to tremble and twitch. “Not that much.”
Serif laughs and kisses Sacha’s neck at the same time as he runs his thumb over the sensitive head of his penis. Sacha cries out; a cry of pain and pleasure and ejaculates strongly, then goes completely limp. Clearly expecting it Serif lifts the unconscious Sacha in his arms and grins.
“Fucking hell, Serif, what have you done?”
“The same thing I did to the rest of your little playthings. Meet me in the summerhouse in an hour. Choose four and bring them with you. The rest; like Sleeping Beauty will wake with a… well, use your imagination… and it ain’t a kiss.”
“What are you going to do with Sacha?”
“Meet me in an hour and you’ll find out.” With an evil smile Serif steps back and the shadows seem to whisper and flow.
Suddenly I am free and I launch myself across the room with Star and Bridge close behind. There is no one there.
“Fuck. What was that? Who was that? What happened?”
I turn to Star and his questions open a window in my head. Of course. I had been so hung up on trying to figure out why Serif was acting so strangely I had never considered the obvious.
“We have to find him.”
“What about the others? What if he was telling the truth…?”
“Of course he was telling the truth.”
I am already half way across the room.
“Shouldn’t we get dressed?”
I am shaking inside as I stride through a house that feels… wrong; invaded; defiled. As I move from room to room the feeling of wrongness increases. They are all empty; there canlı poker oyna is no one here.
“Where is everyone?”
“I don’t know.”
“The basement,” Star says dully. I stop and stare at him.
“The basement isn’t there anymore.”
“Yes it is.”
There is something that is telling me very strongly not to go anywhere near the basement but they are there; I know they are there and their faces swim through my mind… Chancey; Ara; David; Pen; Sam; Alex… beautiful, broken little Alex; Mario and… Taz? Purposeful now I stride across the floor to the door down to the basement.
As soon as I open the door a foul stench hits my nose. It’s as if the air is stale and hasn’t known a stir of breath in centuries; centuries in which the only thing that has crawled across the floor is decay.
The steps look strong and whole and; with Bridge sandwiched between Star and I; we descend.
As we go lower and lower into the basement we notice a dim light below which grows stronger and stronger as we descend, whilst still remaining dull.
Before we reach the bottom I stop; my stomach turning over. They are all here; all of them, laid neatly in a line; naked; unconscious, their arms straight at their sides. They have all been drained, I can smell it, and I can’t feed them all.
“What the fuck…?”
“What has he done to them?”
“They’re drained. He’s fed on them; all of them. They need blood, quickly, and I can’t give enough. I can’t even revive enough of them to leave four.”
“I can help.” I turn and stare at Star. Could he? “I don’t know; but even so… we still can’t do them all.”
“What about me? I’m well now.”
I turn to Bridge and smile a sad smile. “I’m sorry Bridge; you can’t. Think of it like this… our blood is like medicine; yours like opium. You intoxicate us but you would poison them.”
“Oh.” His eyes are huge and bright with tears.
“Don’t worry; we’ll work something out.”
“Oh… oh…” Bridge cries out almost as if someone has prodded him with a pin.
His eyes have taken on a faraway expression as if he’s trying to hear something that is very far away. Then his eyes go very wide. “It’s alright, Luma,” he says simply with a huge smile on his face. “It’s alright. Do Taz first… and Alex.” He looks down. “I really hate seeing Alex like that. He’s too hurt and too sweet. How many can you do?”
“Three at a push. I’m not sure about Star as he hasn’t done it before.”
“Three is good. Three is enough. Do what you can…”
“Bridge what…?” But it’s too late. He pushes past Star and disappears. “Bridge…!”
“Are you going to go after him?”
“How can I? We have work to do here, and he seemed to know what he was doing.”
“Serif might be up there.”
I frown thoughtfully and nod. “Yes… he might.”
“Aren’t you worried about that?” Star asks, frowning for real.
“No. I’m not worried about Bridge at all. I think we have enough to worry about here.”
I head for Alex and raise him in my arms so that his head is draped over my arm. I can tell instantly that not only has he been drained but he has been deeply drugged. He’s not been drained as much as I thought; it’s whatever drug he’s been given that is making him so pale and still. As much as I hate to do it I have to find out what’s going on in his blood and there is only one way I can do that.
He tastes of smoke and fire. I jerk out my fangs. “Star; don’t bite them.”
“What?” Star dazedly raises his head from Taz; I am grateful to see that there is no blood on his lips.
His eyes snap down to the limp form in his arms. “Poisoned?”
“Not for them Star; for us.”
“I don’t understand.” I shake my head
“I’m sorry; that didn’t make sense. They’re drugged with a substance that isn’t poisonous to them but is deadly to us.”
“What? What substance?”
“The blood of a demon. They’ve been bitten and drained; but not dangerously, only in order that enough venom could enter their system to be deadly to us.”
“But why?” He asks, shocked and scared.
“Because whoever did this knew that when we realised they were drugged, and not with anything mundane, we would use the only means we have to work out what is wrong with them. They knew we would bite them.”
“Oh Gods Luma… you…”
“It’s alright Star; I recognised it before I let enough in to be harmful to me.”
“Will they be alright?”
Sensing the hesitancy in my voice Star gives me a piercing stare. “What? What’s wrong?”
“We can’t heal them by biting them. There’s only one other way we can introduce healing fluids. We can’t risk giving them blood because their saliva would infiltrate the wounds and transfusions would take too long.”
“We have to fuck them?” Star; beautiful, straightforward, direct Star, is shocked at the thought. He looks down at the unconscious boy in his arms and shivers. “But Luma they’re… they’re ill and helpless. I don’t… I don’t know if I can.”
“It’s either that or sit here and watch internet casino them die.”
“I thought you said the venom wasn’t poisonous to them.”
“It’s not; but it’s affecting them nevertheless. They are so deeply unconscious they’re bodies are not working as they should. Their breathing is too shallow to take in enough oxygen; their circulatory systems are too sluggish to move the blood fast enough to use what oxygen there is. Their brains are not being oxygenated; their hearts are slowing; their organs shutting down. If you concentrated you would know that. They’ve not been poisoned but they are dying: slowly, but undeniably.”
Star looks shocked. “How long do they have?”
“Who knows? They’ve been drained too… between the two… a few days.”
“Then why do we have to do this now?”
“Because in an hour we have to go to the summerhouse and face the demon who did this. We may not have another chance and; even so we need to have as many as possible awake and well and off our consciences or he will play on them to gain access to our minds; our souls.”
“I can’t believe that Serif would do something like this. He seemed…”
“Serif has never been what he seemed Star; never, not for one moment.”
With a sigh I lay Alex down and stare for a moment into his pretty face. I have never seen him so relaxed; so peaceful. He is, I realise with a small stab of surprise, a true natural beauty; possibly even more so than his brother, but when he is awake, even when he is naturally asleep, there is a sadness about him, a stress that detracts from it. Now; completely open as he is it shines through. I smile and brush the hair from his face.
“What?” I look up surprised. I had almost forgotten that Star is here.
“This feels wrong. Not… not in the way you think. He knew… Serif knew that you wouldn’t be taken in by the poison. He knew you would be too careful for that and for sure he knew you would know he hadn’t drained them. So, I think he would also know that you would work out how to revive them; and that you would want to do it straight away… so that makes me think that maybe it’s what he wants you to do.”
“But why? Why would he set all this up so that I could undo his work? What’s the point?”
“To weaken you? To drain you… us?”
“Maybe. But if I don’t…”
“What’s that?” Star stares into the ethers; concentrating hard.
I comply and hear it. It’s a hum; just the softest of sounds but once I hear it; it permeates everything.
“What is it?”
“Bridge,” I breathe and as I say it I know it’s true.”
Star doesn’t ask any other questions; he knows that as far as there are answers they have already been given and all that is left are questions which neither of us can answer. Without really knowing what we are doing we get to our feet and move together; standing entwined in each other, facing the door.
The humming continues and grows steadily stronger, making the air vibrate around us. I realise at some point that it is a sound I am not hearing with my ears. It is a sound I have not heard for a very long time and never thought to hear again. I tighten my hold on Star and he looks at me but doesn’t speak.
The hum changes as a second voice joins the first. That is more of a shock than hearing the hum in the first place; although I had almost expected it.
“Who…?” Star asks.
“Sssh, listen. They’re calling.”
“Who are calling?” he says anxiously. “What are they calling?”
My whole being is straining now; listening for the familiar harmonies; music I have not heard for millennia. And then it begins. Something flows through me; a wave of music so sweet there are tears flowing down my cheeks before I even register what’s happening. I close my eyes and I see… I see…
Star sounds afraid and I take him in my arms and pull him close. “Sssh it’s alright.”
I can barely gather enough of my scattered consciousness to be able to speak but I force myself to ground long enough to reassure him.
“It’s not dangerous, Star. It’s not a bad thing. It’s going to be alright now. It’s all going to be alright now.”
“It’s a choir, Star. I don’t know how but they’ve called up a choir. It’s going to be alright now but it’s going to be weird; very weird. Hold on tight.”
And then I let go. My mind spins through a kaleidoscope of colour and flashing lights. My body breaks apart into separate atoms each one vibrating with music that is way too pure for ears to hear. It was music like this that formed the world and music like this which will shake it apart again. The Earth has not heard it’s like in over seven thousand years. The last time a choir sang civilisations crumbled; stars fell; the earth changed forever but this time… this time the choir is singing for something else altogether.
Gradually I become aware of my body but it is not standing in the basement of my house; it is far too big for that. I am stretched across the heavens; my feet on the spokes of a giant wheel. Enormous wings unfold behind me and stretch for light years on either side. There is something spinning around my head and I look up to see the undulating form of an enormous red/gold dragon flying in circles around and above me.
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