The Guardian

Chapter 15


A golden mist shimmered in the air like beams of sunlight first thing in the morning, then slowly turned into a beautiful, tiny woman. Her cafe au lait skin glowed and accentuated the greenness of her almond-shaped eyes. Her dark brown sisterlocks were pulled back from her face and held with a leopard-print scarf that matched her long skirt.
Lydia was stunned by the elegance of the woman who was so beautiful, it was hard to look at her.
Making a sound of total disgust, Carson relaxed and dropped the scalpel back onto the tray. "Menyara, you scared the shit out of us with that over-the-top entrance. What are you doing here?"
At first, she didn't seem to hear him. She stared at Seth as if she were looking at the ghost of a loved one.
Taking her cue from Carson, Lydia stood down as well. Obviously Menyara was a known entity here.
When Menyara finally spoke, her voice was incredibly deep and powerful for her dainty size. "I felt the blood call of one I thought was long dead. I couldn't believe he was here, in this realm, after so long." She approached the bed almost reverently so that she could stare down at Seth and study his pale features. "But he's not the one I feel." She reached out and traced the line of his swallow tattoo. "Still ... they are very similar and yet so different. I don't understand how this is."
Lydia started to speak, but Carson motioned her to silence. "She is Ma'at," he whispered. "The Egyptian goddess of justice."
Menyara turned Seth's face toward her, then frowned as she smoothed down his left eyebrow. "Where did he come from?"
"He serves Noir," Carson answered.
"Is he a demon, then?"
Lydia cleared her throat, testing to see if Carson would let her answer yet.
He nodded at her to continue.
"He's not a demon. He's an Egyptian demigod. Noir bought him when he was a boy, just coming into his powers, and enslaved him."
Menyara winced as if the mere thought caused her pain. "His mother was human?"
"His father?"
By the way she asked the question, Lydia could tell Menyara knew the answer, but wanted it confirmed before she spoke it out loud. It was almost as if she feared by saying it first, it would somehow make it true even if it wasn't.
Lydia licked her lips before she answered. "Set."
Menyara spoke rapidly under her breath in a language Lydia had never heard before. But it sounded like she was cursing someone. She hoped it was Set and not Seth.
After a few seconds of her anger, she calmed down, then closed her eyes and hovered her hand over Seth's heart.
Seth's eyes immediately flew open as he sucked his breath in sharply and arched his back. It was as if someone had a hook in his chest and was trying to lift him from the bed. He panted in pain as every muscle in his body tensed and bulged.
"Stop it!" Lydia snarled. "You're hurting him." She rushed for Menyara, but Carson caught her.
Still, Menyara chanted in that lyrical language, not caring how much agony she caused Seth.
He groaned and cursed as if he were being tortured all over again.
Shrieking at them, Lydia wanted to stop her, but Carson wouldn't let her. "Damn you, let me go!" She tried using her powers on both of them, but somehow they deflected them, making her feel weaker than she ever had before.
How could she not be able to stop this? How could they hurt him more? Couldn't the goddess see he'd been through enough already?
Suddenly, light streaked out of Seth's wounds. One by one, they began knitting themselves closed. The bruises and cuts on his face and hands slowly faded.
Lydia froze as she watched it.
When the last one was healed, he fell back flat on the bed where he lay panting. At first, he stared up at the ceiling as if waiting to feel pain again. Then he turned his head toward her and she saw the relief that filled his beautiful blue eyes. Eyes that were no longer haunted by his battle with physical pain.
It was the first time she'd seen him without any injuries or marks. Only the tattoo showed on him now.
She smiled in amazement. While she'd known he was unbelievably handsome, she'd never quite imagined the exact beauty he would hold once he was whole.
Now ...
He was stunning. His coloring so unusual and exotic. And those curls ... They made him irresistible.
"You need a shave, hon," she teased, walking over to him so that she could playfully scrape her fingers against the auburn whiskers that darkened his cheeks. Even they didn't mar his looks. They only made him appear more rugged.
More masculine.
And if they were alone right now, she'd be nibbling her way down that angular jawline until she tongue-bathed him all over.
"What happened?" he asked in a low whisper as he reached up to finger his lips and eye that had been so damaged by Noir's cruelty. "Why don't I hurt anymore? Where did it all go?"
Those words brought home the fact that this was probably the only time since Noir had bought him that he hadn't been in excruciating agony.
Lydia indicated Menyara with a tilt of her head. "She healed you."
Frowning, he turned his head. The moment he focused on Menyara's features, he curled his lips in disgust.
Whoa ... that was not the reaction she'd expected. By the look on Menyara's face, it was evident she was expecting something a little kinder too.
"What are you doing here?" he growled at her.
Menyara's gaze turned dark with sadness. "Shh, child," she said soothingly. "I won't hurt you."
His cold expression showed every bit of his denial. "Your presence here offends me."
Menyara winced. She reached out to touch him, then stopped herself as if she feared how he might react to it. "What was done to you by your father was so wrong, and for that I apologize even though I know no amount of apology will ever take away the pain of what he did. I weep for that, too. But I am not my brother and I would never deny my kin."
The pain and accusation in his eyes was tangible. "You didn't come when I called for you and I screamed for all to have mercy on me until my throat bled."
"I didn't hear you, or I would have come."
"I don't believe you. You are a goddess. One of order and justice. When I called for you, your silence judged me unworthy, and you left me to suffer unspeakable horrors."
Lydia wasn't sure if she believed Ma'at either. But either way, it didn't matter. No apology or anything else would ever be able to undo the hell they'd all damned him to.
Menyara swallowed as if she heard Lydia's thoughts. "You look so much like my brother." She held her hand out toward his face as if she imagined she was cupping his cheek. But she didn't make contact with him. "It's been so very long since I last saw his face. In spite of what you think, Set wasn't always bad or evil and I did not judge you. While your father was born of darkness, he also fought against it every night by our father's side, making sure that Ra would rise and drive the evil back for another day ... Like you with Noir ... You have the better part of his nature."
"Don't you dare defend him to me. Ever."
Menyara nodded sadly, then looked at Lydia. "The two of you must go. It's why I've healed him. Your enemies won't let you rest. Not until Seth's powers are fully regained."
Lydia frowned. After what Menyara had just done for Seth ... "Can't you give them back?"
"Unfortunately, I'm not the one who has them. They have to leave Noir and return to Seth and there's nothing any of us can do to rush that happening." Taking a step closer to the bed, she reached out, this time intending to touch Seth, but he grabbed her wrist before she could make contact.
"Don't touch me."
Menyara's eyes misted as she dropped her hand. "Noir has already sent out his hounds to find you. It won't take them long to catch your scent here. They will sense it just as I did. I've healed your body, but-"
"You'll forgive me if I don't thank you."
"I will indeed." She stepped back and whispered under her breath.
An instant later, a tall, extremely muscular man appeared by her side. His short hair was dark brown with blond highlights, and there was something about it that reminded Lydia of a lion's mane. His green eyes were a perfect match to Menyara's, making her wonder if they weren't related as well. His skin tone was much closer in color to Seth's.
Dressed in a pair of jeans and a dark blue T-shirt, he stood as if ready to tear someone's, anyone's, head off.
"Maahes," Menyara said sweetly, in a tone that made his name sound like Me-uhs, "this is my nephew, Seth. I want you to watch over him until his powers return."
Maahes brought his right hand up to his left shoulder and bowed his head reverently to her. "I will guard him with my life, my lady."
Seth sneered at them. "I am the High Guardian of Azmodea. The last thing I need is someone watching over me. Trust me, I know how to fight."
Menyara sighed. "That is the same arrogance that cost your father his life."
"I'm not my father."
"No, you're not. But you are my family, even if you deny it. And now that I've found you, I have no intention of seeing you hurt if I can help it." She pulled the necklace from around her neck and kissed it. She held her hand out toward Seth. The necklace vanished from her fingertips, only to reappear around his neck.
He scowled at it before he tried to snatch it off. The chain wouldn't break.
"The kiss of Ra cannot be removed by violence. Only by love. It will protect whoever wears it from any physical harm."
Seth ground his teeth at her words, hating her for them. It was too little, much too late. His aunt Ma'at was one of many gods he despised. "Where was your kindness when I needed it?"
She glanced away, but he didn't miss the guilt in her eyes. She knew he was right. "Sadly it wasn't there for you. And for that I am very sorry. But things change. People change. There aren't many of us left anymore. And I'm tired of losing the people I love. Of burying my family."
Ma'at looked at the god of war who stood next to her ... another relative Seth had no use for and no desire to be near. "Travel with Maahes. If not for your safety, then for Lydia's. He can protect her should, Ra forbid, you fall. And unlike you, he's familiar with this world. He'll know best where and how to hide her from harm."
Seth started to argue, but she was right. He knew exactly what Noir would do to Lydia if he caught up to them. And he was woefully ignorant of the human realm. Everything had changed so much since the last time he'd walked it as a boy. There was absolutely nothing in this room that was familiar. Not even the peculiar bed he lay on.
Reluctantly, he nodded.
His aunt smiled in satisfaction. "May Ra be between you and harm in all the empty places where you must walk." And with that, she vanished and left them.
Seth looked down at his undamaged body, amazed by it. Nothing, absolutely nothing hurt. Nothing throbbed. Nothing pinched. It was incredible. He honestly couldn't remember the last time he'd seen it this way. The last time he'd felt no physical pain whatsoever.
So used to pain as a constant companion, he kept waiting for it to kick in.
But it didn't.
Unable to comprehend why Ma'at would be kind to him now, after all these centuries, he conjured his armor to cover him, then scooted off the bed. Thank the gods he finally had enough power to at least clothe himself.
Lydia stopped him as he started for the door. She pressed her lips together into an adorable smile that did make one part of him hot and aching again. She swept his body with a bemused gaze, but he'd much rather have her sweep it with another part of her body. "Sweetie ... honey ... sugar-pie, you can't walk around like that. There's not a Ren Faire in town. And people will notice."
There she went with her foreign terms again. "A what?"
"Exactly." She put her hands on his chest and his armor turned into a strange short-sleeved black shirt and a pair of very uncomfortable blue pants like Maahes wore.
Holding his arms out, he looked down at it in disgust. "What is this?"
"T-shirt and jeans. It's what modern man wears."
"But I feel naked in it."
"You'll get used to it."
He wasn't sure he wanted to. It offered no protection whatsoever. "Where do I put a sword?"
"You don't," she said with a hint of laughter in her voice. "That will get you arrested."
He was completely perplexed by her words. "People have no weaponry here? How do they protect themselves from roaming animals and barbarians?"
"We do have weapons, we just don't carry them out into public, and while some of my past dates would lead anyone to believe barbarians are still alive and well, and thriving, the real thing is something of the far distant past."
Maahes laughed at them. "Good gods, boy, how long has it been since you were in the human realm?"
Seth had to think about it for a minute. "When Neferkare was pharaoh."
Maahes arched a brow. "Which Neferkare?"
"There was more than one?"
Maahes snorted, then laughed. "Damn ... you're old. Not compared to me, but ... you are definitely long in the tooth, and setting you loose in the current world after all this time should be entertaining as hell." He laughed until he coughed.
When he realized no one else was amused, he sobered.
Sort of.
Lydia gave Maahes a chiding glare. "How long ago was that?"
Carson answered, "Second Dynasty."
And that meant absolutely nothing to her.
When she deepened her scowl, Maahes clarified the description, "Around 2686 BC."
She gaped at Seth, unable to comprehend how long Noir had kept him. How long he'd been tortured.
That was over forty-five hundred years. Forty. Five. Hundred. Years. She could barely get her mind wrapped around it. And she'd stupidly thought herself to be old. She was an infant in comparison. Good thing she'd never thrown that in his face.
"Dang, you're old." She'd been right. Seth did predate Rome.
By a lot.
"How long?" Seth asked.
Suddenly she felt bad for being even the least bit amused. "You really don't know?"
"You've been to Azmodea. You know it's always hard to tell the days apart, and then during my confinement ... I honestly have no idea."
Even Maahes sobered as he realized the horror of Seth's existence. "It's been over forty-five hundred years since Neferkare was pharaoh."
Seth couldn't breathe as that sank in. No wonder it'd seemed like an eternity.
It had been.
And he wasn't sure how to deal to with the knowledge. He was strangely numb. It wasn't like he'd expected to come out of Azmodea ever again, but ...
Lydia leaned into him. "It's okay, Seth."
Was it? He really wasn't sure about that. It was a good thing he'd agreed to having Maahes with them. He'd be all but worthless here.
Lydia exchanged a concerned glance with Maahes. "He's going to seriously wig when he sees what's out there."
"Wig?" Seth asked.
"Lose your mind. Wave it bye-bye."
He frowned. "I still don't understand most of what you say."
"And now I truly understand why. C'mon, Grandpa, we need to get going."
They started for the door.
Lydia paused to look back at Carson who was putting together a quick bag for them. One that held bandages, medicine, his wallet, and a cell phone that he'd kept in a drawer. He handed it to her.
"What's this?" she asked.
"In case you need it. Make sure you don't use your own credit cards or accounts. You don't want to create a trail for anyone to follow. There's enough cash in there for you, and feel free to use my cards." He picked the cell phone up. "This is a burn phone with my number already programmed into it. If you need a cavalry for anything, call me. I can get to you in a blink and I will bring as many soldiers as I can, and our army is by no means small."
His offer touched her. "Are you sure?"
"Absolutely. I can't stand to see anyone hunted. Good luck to you guys."
She inclined her head to him. "Thank you, Carson."
"Walk in peace," he said, stepping back.
Lydia took Seth by the arm and teleported him to the alley behind the house they'd been in. She and Maahes started for the street, until she realized that Seth wasn't moving.
Arching her brow at Maahes, she turned back to find Seth staring up at the sky with the most incredulous expression she'd ever seen on anyone's face. His features were filled with boyish wonderment and awe.
And it reminded her of his staring at the sun on the computer in his room.
He turned around in a slow circle while he tried to take everything in. The trees, the sky, the buildings, and what to him had to be all the alien sounds of faint jazz and zydeco, cars, and people talking and laughing as they went by on the other side of the brick wall.
Her heart breaking, she walked over to him.
"It's so beautiful," he breathed reverently. "And warm."
"New Orleans usually is."
"New Orleans?"
"That's the name of this city."
"Oh." He finally looked down at her, and she realized he was squinting to the point she was amazed he could see anything at all.
No wonder. He'd lived in darkness for so long, his eyes weren't used to light anymore.
She conjured a pair of sunglasses for him, then put them in his hand.
He scowled at them. "What are these?"
Oh yeah. He wouldn't have a clue.
Maahes folded his arms over his chest. "In your day, Egyptians used kohl to protect their eyes from the harsh sun rays. Today, we use these ... they're called sunglasses."
Lydia took them from him and put them on his face. Boy, did I choose well. He looked great in them. She glanced back at Maahes. "Is that really why Egyptians did that?"
"It is indeed."
"Wow, and I just thought they did it for fashion."
Maahes didn't comment on that. "We need to get going. I have no idea where I'm taking you, but it doesn't seem wise to stand out here in the open when we have preternatural trackers trying to find us."
He made a really good point. "Where are going?" she asked.
Seth shrugged. "As long as it's not Azmodea, I don't care."
In that moment, she felt completely lost. She really had no place to go. Home was out of the question. Solin was MIA.
All she had were the two men with her.
"Hey now," Maahes said. "Don't be making that face. Okay? You start crying, I start crying, and I look like a total freak when I cry. Nothing worse than a big-ass man blubbering like a baby. Totally kills my chances with the women. You know?"
"I wasn't going to cry. But it was sweet of you to be concerned."
"No problem."
Seth scowled at the easy way they conversed with each other. Especially since they'd only just met. Worse was the jealousy inside him that wanted to punch Maahes straight in his arrogant jaw.
"Well," Maahes said finally. "I guess the best place would be mine. It's isolated and should be safe should something scary go down."
Lydia couldn't think of anything better. "It sounds perfect."
As they started to leave, she realized Seth had wandered off again.
This time, he was at the wall, looking at the parked cars lined along the curb. Smiling, she went to wrangle him.
As soon as she reached him, a car went flying by. Eyes wide, Seth jumped about ten feet.
She put her arm out to settle him. "It's okay, Seth."
"What was that thing?"
She answered him with a question of her own. "Didn't you see a car online?"
Maahes made a sound of disgust in the back of his throat. "This is going to get annoying fast if he freaks every time he sees something he's not used to."
Curling his lip, Seth started to attack. But Maahes caught him with what appeared to be a Vulcan death grip and pulled him into his arms.
Seth froze instantly.
After a few seconds, Maahes released him.
Staggering a bit, Seth pressed his hand to his forehead as if he was dizzy. He curled his lip at Maahes. "What did you do to me?"
"Brought you up to date. I don't want you pissing in a sink or doing anything else to draw attention to us. We need to blend in and not look like refugees from a badly written time travel movie."
Seth still felt sick to his stomach, but he now had a whole new vocabulary and an understanding about the world he was in. For that, he could almost thank the bastard.
Almost. He still really wanted to slug Maahes, though.
Lydia reached up and laid her hand on his cheek. The moment she did, he completely forgot about his need to put his foot in an uncomfortable place on Maahes's body. "Hey."
Seth looked down at her.
"We'll get through this. Trust me."
"I do trust you." And he did. But then he cut a glare to Maahes. "That son of a bitch is another story. I don't trust anyone who serves a god, and especially not one whose most celebrated epithet was Lord of the Massacre."
She widened her eyes at that. Her face pale, she met Maahes's smug look. "Is that true?"
"It is."
"Do I want to know why they call you that?"
Seth answered for him. "He's the hand of retribution. Ma'at's personal slayer for anyone she wants punished."
It didn't have the effect on her that he'd hoped for. Instead of being angry at his enemy, she was rational with him.
Seth hated rational.
"So he's kind of like you, then. I would think you two would get along."
The taunting smirk on Maahes's face was definitely not helping his mood. "I'm also the one invoked by the innocent to protect them."
Lydia sucked her breath in as Seth's eyes darkened in a way that let her know Maahes was about to bleed.
When he spoke, his tone was deadly calm and razor sharp. "But only when it suits you."
There was so much buried rage in those words that it made the hair on her arms stand up. When Seth had been wounded and in pain, he'd been scary.
Whole, even without his powers ...
He gave the full god in front of him a run for his money and Maahes knew it.
The cocky went straight out of Maahes as he caught Seth's meaning. "Are you saying you called for me and I ignored you?"
Seth didn't answer.
Instead, he brushed past him, driving his shoulder in to Maahes's and headed for the street.
Maahes frowned at her. "What didn't he tell me just now?"
Lydia sighed as part of her wished she was still as ignorant about Seth's past as he was. "When he was a small child, his mother," she choked on using that title for the bitch, "took him into the desert, broke his legs, and left him there to die. From what I've heard, I'm pretty sure he called on all of you to help him and not one of you could be bothered."
Horror played across his face as he thought through what she told him. "Why did she do something like that?"
"Set thought he was pathetic and worthless. He insulted the mother for bearing him, and most of all for giving Seth his name."
Maahes cursed. "So she took him into the heart of Set's domain to die in front of him. No wonder we didn't know."
"What do you mean?"
He didn't answer.
Instead, he ran after Seth and pulled him to a stop. "Before you continue to hate us, let me explain something. Set was the god of the desert. That was his domain, not ours. We were never allowed to venture there unless he invited us. He would violently attack any god who dared to encroach on his territory and need I remind you what he did to Osiris and Horus? Your mother took you into the desert not just to hurt you in front of your father, but to keep us from finding out about it. Because I can promise you that had any of us learned of her cruelty, we'd have killed the bitch for it."
Seth fell silent as he digested those words. Honestly, he'd never expected an apology from any member of his family. As a rule, the gods never admitted to any kind of fault.
Now both Ma'at and Maahes had offered him one.
But in the end ...
"It changes nothing."
Maahes nodded. "You're right. It doesn't change whatever happened to you, and that is a tragedy. However, it should comfort you to know that we would have helped you had we known."
Oh yeah, that was great comfort to him. Especially given how many times he'd called them, for what was it again...?
Forty-five hundred years? Oh wait, he hadn't called for them quite that long. He'd probably given up after a thousand or so years of them ignoring him.
He sneered at Maahes. "You offer me empty words that mean nothing. It's easy to say what you would have done, if only. But neither of us really knows what action you'd have taken. Believe me, the one thing I've learned about the gods is how fickle all of you are. Praising a person one moment, and then damning them in the next. So don't try to alleviate your guilt by offering me what you think will make me feel better. I want nothing from any of you except to be left alone." Seth turned and continued down the street.
Lydia patted Maahes on the shoulder. "I know how you feel. He's kicked me like that, too."
"Yeah, but you probably didn't deserve it."
"And neither did he deserve what was done to him. Unlike you, I've seen the horror of his existence. He's entitled to his hatred."
"Then I will stay behind you two and try not to offend him with my presence."
Lydia started to respond, until she realized that Seth had stopped on the sidewalk about a block from them.
That wasn't what concerned her.
Rather it was the tall, skinny puta pawing at him that made her blood boil. Her vision turned dark as she quickly closed the distance between them. Why wasn't Seth sending her away? Look at her, Lydia. She's gorgeous. Which only made her ache all the more.
The blonde ran her tongue around her index finger while she looked up at Seth from beneath her long, over-mascaraed eyelashes, then bit and sucked it in a suggestive manner. She continued to run it around her lips as she spoke. "So you're visiting, huh? How long will you be here and where are you staying?"
Lydia wrapped her arms around his and glared at the woman. "He's staying with me. Right, pookie?"
Seth wasn't sure what to say. Lydia's voice was sweet and at the same time brittle ... like her eyes as she stared up at him. He wasn't quite sure what was going on, but he had a bad feeling he was in trouble for it.
Lydia turned her gaze back to the woman who'd stopped to ask him directions. "Now if you don't mind, we're late for a meeting with his 'special' doctor. We have to make sure he doesn't run out of cream for his genital rash. After all, it's highly contagious, and burns like crazy when left untreated."
The blonde rushed off.
Seth kept opening and closing his mouth as he mentally ran through what she'd just done. He was stunned, appalled, and at the same time, oddly amused. And he had no idea which emotion was strongest.
Had she really just said that about him? To a perfect stranger?
Lydia snarled as she moved away from him. "You are such a man!"
He wouldn't have thought that was a particularly bad thing, except for the tone of her voice, which said it was. "What did I do?"
She raked him with a glare. "Chasing after the first piece of skank you see? Really?"
Thanks to Maahes, he understood the words. But her fury left him completely lost. "Why are you angry at me?"
"Why do you think?"
"I honestly don't know."
She rolled her eyes. "Yeah, right. You all but drooled on her."
"At no time did I drool." His mouth was completely dry and had been the whole time he conversed with the woman.
"Your eyes drooled. I saw them."
He was totally perplexed by this argument. Was he not allowed to speak to anyone? "I'm wearing dark sunglasses. How can you see my eyes?"
"She's jealous, Seth."
He looked at Maahes for an explanation. "Why?"
Lydia broke off into her hand gestures.
"Are you yelling at me, now?"
Maahes laughed. "Oh yeah, kid. She's calling you a lot of names."
That surprised him. "You understand her?"
Maahes gestured back at Lydia in the same language.
For some reason, it angered and hurt him that they'd cut him out of the conversation. "Are you mocking me?"
Lydia flicked her nails at him, then turned and stormed off.
Seth had no idea what he should do. He didn't understand human emotions or relations. Not really. It'd been too long since he had any.
Maahes let out a heavy sigh. "You hurt her feelings, boy. You need to go apologize."
"How did I hurt them?"
"Think about it, Seth. She risked her life to bring you here, to save you from hell, and what do you do the first minute she leaves you alone? You let another woman flirt with you."
That was flirting? Really?
He'd thought the woman attractive, but she was nothing compared to Lydia. She hadn't made his blood race or given him thoughts of her draped over his body.
Only Lydia did that. She was the only woman he was willing to bleed for. How could she not know that?
Seth ran to catch up with her. "I didn't mean to hurt you if I did. She asked me for directions, and I told her I couldn't help her. That's all that happened."
"I don't care."
"Then why are you mad at me?"
Lydia didn't have a rational explanation. She knew she was overreacting and behaving badly. Yet ...
"I don't know, okay? I just know it hurts inside."
His features tortured, he cupped her face in his hands. "You are the one person I would never hurt."
Lydia went to kiss him, but he snapped his head back before she could touch his lips with hers. His rejection cut her so deep, it felt like her soul was bleeding. "I don't understand you, Seth."
And the sad truth was, she wasn't sure if she ever would. Her heart aching, she walked back to where Maahes waited for them.
Seth sighed as he tried to understand what had just happened. You should have let her kiss you.
But he liked the fact that, for the first time since he was a boy, his lips didn't hurt or sting or bleed.
Idiot. Women liked it. He knew that. He wasn't sure what pleasure they got from biting him so hard, but ...
I suck at this world, too. And in that moment, he realized the sad truth he'd never wanted to face.
He didn't belong anywhere. Especially not in this world.
It was just as well. She wasn't his anyway. She could never be his.
Once his powers returned, he'd leave her and go ...
He had no idea. There was no home for him here. No one to call friend. Suddenly this world was even more terrifying to him than Azmodea.
Why are you panicking? Either there or here, the results are the same.
He'd be alone. At least here, he wouldn't have to worry about Azura and Noir.
But as he went back to where Lydia stood and she refused to look at him, he discovered a pain even worse than their torture.
Seeing the hurt in her eyes and knowing he was the one who'd given it to her.
* * *
Solin slammed his hand against the clear door, knowing it was useless, but unable to stand in here and do nothing.
Madoc paced behind him. "You're not accomplishing anything."
"It makes me feel better and it keeps me from beating the shit out of you. So you ought to be grateful that I'm banging on it and not your head."
Ignoring him, Solin looked around at the small group that was caged with him. In addition to Madoc were Deimos, Phobos, Zeth, and Delphine. It seemed as if they'd been locked in this pit for days.
Like him and Madoc, Zeth had black hair and blue eyes. Phobos and Deimos were twins and, until they were locked in here, were the leaders of the Dolophoni who were now in pursuit of Lydia.
Delphine was one of the rare Dream-Hunters who had blond hair. "We need to figure out who betrayed us," she repeated for the millionth time.
Solin growled. "We've been over it and over it again. I don't care about your traitor. What we need to find is a way out of here. Preferably before they kill Lydia."
But at least he took comfort in knowing none of the people in this room had betrayed him. Hence why they were his jail buddies.
But who had? What god would be so stupid?
Deimos patted him on the back. "We'll get to her in time."
"What if we don't?" Solin couldn't bear the pain of the thought of losing her. She was everything in his world. "The Guardian said he'd kill her today if I didn't get back to him."
Phobos, who was sitting on the floor with his head on his legs, looked up. "Maybe he'll suck you back to Azmodea and then you can locate her."
"Yeah," Deimos agreed. "How did he nab you last time?"
"Through my dreams. He sent a lure in to trap me."
Deimos cursed. So long as they were imprisoned here, none of them had any powers. Not even the ability to travel in dreams.
They were totally screwed.
"Look on the bright side," Phobos said with a cocky grin as he cut his gaze to Delphine. "Sooner probably than later, Jericho will notice his wife's not around and he'll find us and kick the door down."
"He's right. My baby won't play."
Yeah and as the son of Warcraft and Hate, Jericho was a formidable god.
Still, Solin had looked into the painted face of hell and seen what it was capable of.
And right now, that beast had his daughter, and he had no idea what the Guardian was doing to her.
Hold on, baby. I'll get to you. I swear it.
Solin only hoped that his enemies didn't kill him first.