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Part 2 of 4. This is a world of lies. Or is that only what you want me to believe? No, it can't be. If you lied to me, the truth of this world would long ago have been devoured. You've been scheming.
“My marionette! I did not expect you here so soon!” Apollyon emerged from the shadow of an overhanging crag, his hands clasped behind his back and a crescent-shaped crack in the ceiling casting sickly yellow light down into the red sandstone cavern, painting his toothy grin with an ethereal glimmer. “The puppet who dances on a string cannot wait long before she misses the life that her master can spring into her lifeless limbs.” Rachel stood poised at the entrance to Sheol. Apollyon held out his hand gracefully, motioning her forward. “Welcome home.”
She descended into the pit, taking his hand without a word. They continued to walk in silence, Apollyon leading and Rachel clasping mutely to his hand, the dull echoes of distant footsteps and muffled speech creeping from the adjoining tunnels. When Apollyon took a step toward the center of the crescent-shaped beam of light, Rachel pulled him gently to a stop.
“Why so silent?” he asked, turning and taking up her other hand in his. “Where has the defiance gone?” He smirked. “I enjoyed it ever so much.”
She shook her head slowly, refusing him an answer; instead, she slid her hands through his, her lithe fingers creeping slowly up the rolling muscles of his arms and finally around his neck. Leaning forward, her warm breath puffing across his collarbone, she reached over his shoulders to brush through the soft, downy plumage at the base of his wings. His feathers ruffling at her touch, his eyes drifted closed as he encircled them both with his wings, encasing them in a cloak of warmth. Rachel’s right hand retreated again, tracing over his ribcage as she, in answer to his ages-old question, said, “I prefer the silence this way.”
With complete stealth she continued to lean into his embrace, stepping closer, as her hand crept to her hip, unsheathing the dagger and embracing him again to position the blade. He sighed deeply, pulling away slightly, and she paused momentarily with the dagger hovering at his back – if her heart were still beating, it would have fluttered in terror. He smiled, pressing his forehead against hers.
“You succubae really are amazing temptresses,” he mumbled, a soft smile spreading on his face. She sighed in relief. His amber eyes gazed deep into hers, probing. “However –”
Suddenly he ducked sideways, his left hand shooting out to snatch her dagger wrist in his crushing grip as he struck her to the ground and lanced the blade into her abdomen.
Warm crimson painted his hand as he gripped the jeweled hilt of the dagger. “Do not mock me!” he growled. “You had no power here. Or have you forgotten who it was that created deceit?” Her wings fanned and trembled as pain wracked her body, her head lolling from side to side. He scowled, all pleasure in his eyes burned away. “You cannot string me up like a doll, like a puppet, like…like you!” He tightened his grip on the dagger. “What a pity; it seems you have forgotten your place!”
With the last word he wrenched the dagger sideways. Rachel lurched, giving a pitiable beat of her tattered black wings. Through a bloodstained grin, she finally gasped, “You were never the puppet master.”
|Concealed: Chapter 3||The Drakes of Wind and Water|
|At the Pendulum's Behest||Apollyon (3)|