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Part 1 of 4. What kind of world is this? Who is he who haunts her steps? Watch the puppet dance on strings of steel.
Rachel’s first trip to England didn’t go as planned. A flash like lightning, the passing spectral figure of that tall young man casting a momentary glance through blazing amber eyes…was that all? She couldn’t remember. The steel and shattered wreckage weighing her down had vanished, replaced by the distorted view of a smoking, dismembered railcar leaning ragtag against the gouged stone wall of the Piccadilly line subway tunnel. An embracing warmth surrounded her quickly before a wave a cold splashed against her, forcing her eyes open with a jolt.
She ran her fingers irately through her thick hair, trying to tear out the distant memories along with her ruddy curls. Reaching around quickly, Rachel plucked a handful of feathers from her sable wings, savoring the lifelike pain, before shirking quietly through the wall of her current nest and into the cool morning streets of London. Opening her hand, she watched impatiently as the torn black plumes dipped back and forth toward the ground, vanishing in puffs of smoke before they touched the cold cobbles. Everything eternally ending unfinished and unfulfilling – it was a way of life that she was grudgingly becoming accustomed to. She padded soundlessly down the abandoned street, observing through cursed eyes the distorted images of once graceful buildings now looming as if she were trapped in a not-yet-dry watercolor painting smeared by a careless hand.
She jolted, scowling at the sound of his voice.
“Don’t call me Rachel,” she growled, casting an angry glance over her shoulder. “Rachel died in the Piccadilly attack.” The man grinned slyly, amber eyes glinting.
“Would you rather I called you ‘marionette,’ my enchanting succubus?”
She fanned her wings, feathers bristling. “I will create my own plans, Apollyon,” she whispered. “I am not your puppet.”
He perked his eyebrows for a moment before a wicked grin spread across his face. “I see,” he said with a chuckle. “Well then. My intent was to order your return to Sheol so that you could assist me in person, but I see that I was far too presumptive,” he said, raising his hands in fake submission. “You are free to come join me whenever you wish,” he snickered, bowing as a fit of mocking laughter overcame him. Rachel scowled and ground her teeth but said nothing.
After a few moments, his laughter faded and he sighed deeply. Rachel turned her face from Apollyon, who was standing only hairsbreadth from her, all signs of mirth fading from his face. Suddenly, he snatched Rachel by the chin, whipping her face toward him again. “Take care to choose very carefully whom you will threaten,” he said, enveloping her in the shadow of his massive black wings speckled with gold, “lest you forget who pulled you from the darkness at Piccadilly.”
She refused to meet his gaze, and she remained still, her wings defiantly fanned as his grip on her chin began to bruise her skin. Finally he backed away, cast a warning scowl at her, and then disappeared in a ripping crack of thunder.
She waited for a few moments before pulling in her wings again. Reaching down to her thigh, she unsheathed the ornamented dagger given as her first gift in the world of the dead. “It’s time you learned,” she whispered, fingering the keen edge of the blade, “that the marionette can cut the feeble strings that bind her, Apollyon.”
|At the Pendulum's Behest||Forbidden|
|Running Red Rewrite p4||Concealed: Chapter 3|
|Running Red: Epilogue|