Ok, so I’ve been doing a lot of posting chapters here lately and not much in the way of talking or typing about stuff that isn’t just the published works linked through Wattpad. There’s a lot going on at home right now, with a change of jobs for my husband, Christmas, and illness (namely me with migraines). Just the usual stuff that sometimes prevents me from doing what I’d really like to do all day, every day. However, I’ve managed to get another chapter for Oath of God done and will tag that onto the end of this post!! I’m hoping to complete Chapter Four for the edited version for House of Sept and a short story called, None Shall Remember, before the end of next week. That should be possible with the kids back at school. Hopefully, there’ll be a lot more updates.
Anyhow, Chapter Three of Oath of God is ready to go! Enjoy!
‘Told you this was a bad idea,’ Valdis snapped at Lilah who was slumped against the far wall.
Ripping a knife clear of the dead man propped up against him, Valdis let the body collapse to the cobbled ground in a thickening pool of spreading gore along with the rest of his murdering friends.
Stepping around the corpses of the five idiots who’d made the mistake of trying to rob and kill him, Valdis knelt and pressed a finger to her neck. Lilah knocked his hand aside, eyes blazing.
‘I have no heartbeat, you fool,’ she snapped. ‘How do you expect to find a pulse from the lifeless?’
Valdis rocked back on his heels. ‘Just checking.’
Scowling, Lilah pulled herself upright. ‘Stupid,’ she muttered, plucking at the front of her cloak, dark fabric now glistening with a blackened stain where one hooligan got in a lucky thrust.
Sighing, Valdis helped her get up. ‘Come on. I’ve still got a blade to retrieve.’
Pulling away from him, Lilah scraped aside the hair that’d come loose from its braid. ‘I should have let you handle this on your own. Things like this always happen…’
‘To me,’ Valdis finished for her. ‘I know.’
‘Next time, be more convincing,’ Lilah suggested. ‘That way I’ll get the message and stay home.’
‘Yeah, like that’ll work.’
‘And pigs might well fly!’
Lilah opened her mouth to say something, but decided not to bother.
Probably a good thing, Valdis considered, she might just tell him porkers did have wings.
‘So, where do you think they hid it?’ Lilah asked, nudging a clump of refuse with her booted foot.
Valdis stared back at her. ‘You say that like I should already know.’
Lilah’s thin mouth quirked into a brief smile. ‘The blade is yours,’ she remarked.
‘Great.’ Valdis glanced about the decrepit alley where deposits of filth clung to the brick walls.
‘I’d suggest haste, before anyone else comes along and tries to knife you.’
Valdis gave her a hard stare. ‘Anymore helpful hints? Stab myself in the eye so I can better see?’
Lilah shrugged. ‘If you like.’
‘Sadist,’ Valdis muttered.
‘Idiot,’ Lilah shot back.
Valdis lifted an eyebrow. ‘Really? You’re going with that?’
‘If the cap fits.’
‘This better not take all damn day,’ Valdis griped. ‘I don’t think I could take all the crappy insults.’
‘Funny. Now why don’t you take this seriously.’
‘How about you go search through other people’s shit!’
‘Why have a dog and bark yourself?’ Lilah quipped, but when she noticed his expression she rolled her eyes. ‘Oh, all right.’ She sighed, pointing to an uneven pile of discarded rags.
‘You’re sure?’ Striding toward the pile of old clothing, Valdis hesitated. ‘It’s at the bottom, isn’t it?’
‘Naturally,’ Lilah replied.
Valdis grit his teeth and pushed a hand into the damp folds. ‘Some days, I really hate my job.’
‘It keeps you in cigarettes and Spice Powder,’ Lilah remarked.
Saying nothing, Valdis got on with the task at hand. That way, the faster it’d be over.
He was up to his elbow in rolls of musty fabric when his fingers closed on cold metal. Pulling back, his hand came out clenching the hilt of a sword, its curved blade sheathed in darkly laquered ebony.
‘Well, well,’ a cold voice announced. ‘It seems my sister has helped you once again.’
Valdis turned to face the man standing at the mouth of the alley. Well, Zelos was half man anyway, the rest of him was all twisted and scarred just like his wretched soul most likely. Pallid daylight shone behind him like an insipid halo, highlighting the fact that even immortals can go bald.
Belting on his new found sword, Valdis ignored Zelos posing in his grey robe like a sullen boy with a bad skin complex that went hand-in-hand with his sour attitude and lack of patience.
‘It’d be so easy to just snap my fingers.’ Zelos made the appropriate gesture. ‘And poof…!’
Valdis snorted. ‘Go ahead. It’s not like Lilah hasn’t killed me ten times over already!’
Siffening slightly, Zelos flicked his sister a harsh glare. ‘Yes, but she always brings you back.’
‘I’d have some peace at least,’ Valdis added. ‘Maybe even get some sleep.’
Lilah moved between them, one hand on a blade at her right hip. ‘What do you want, brother?’ she asked politely enough, but only an idiot would dismiss the cutting edge to her otherwise demure tone.
Apparently, Zelos was even more stupid than he looked. ‘You’re sending this butcher against one of the most powerful beings of the old world. What possessed you to make such a foolish mista-‘
‘I do not make errors in judgment.’ Lilah answered coldly. ‘That is you department, brother.’
Even Valdis flinched at that, but was smart enough not to get involved.
Predictably, Zelos had a thick skin to go with his thick skull. ‘A single lapse in an otherwise perfect record, sister,’ he replied with a sly grin. ‘And I have learnt my lesson, have you?’
Lilah’s cloak fluttered in the sudden breeze gusting through the alley. ‘It would be unwise of you to remain here, lest I make another error and decide to pull the festering thorn from my side.’
This time around, Zelos began to understand. He swallowed and took a step back. ‘You wouldn’t dare touch me,’ he voice screeched above the howl of the wind. ‘We are bonded, this would kill both-‘
Closing the distance between them, Lilah’s tone was hard as stone, easily cutting through the rage of the storm . ‘Right now, I care not for the consequences, only that you do not interfere.’
‘Alright,’ Zelos snapped. ‘Stop it! I’m leaving. Play your stupid little game,’ he spat, eyes bulging like two wet marbles, pale and colourless as a corpse. ‘Be warned, though, Father is watching us all!’
When his words failed to have an impact, Zelos turned on his heel and stormed off into a swirling clot of dirt that rose from the street to cloak him in a whirlwind of refuse, loose grit and damp mud.
Once the muck settled, Zelos was gone. Lilah let out a long breath and eased herself against one of the walls. She tilted her head to regard Valdis. Dark circles under her eyes aged her by decades.
‘Family,’ she muttered. ‘Can’t pick them, just have to put up with the bastards.’
Making no remark on Lilah’s sudden lack of etiquette and her loose language, Valdis nodded.
Laughing softly, Lilah rested her head against the crumbling brickwork. Even as she used the wall to keep herself upright, her face regained it’s lost colour and haggard lines of fatigue vanished.
‘So,’ Valdis drawled. ‘Where is this woman who should never have lived?’
‘Across the Waste,’ Lilah replied.
Valdis drew in a sharp breath and let it out through his nose. ‘Naturally.’
‘I don’t do these things in order to purposefully kill you.’
Looking back the goddess who literally owned him, body and soul, Valdis held his tongue, for now.
Lilah knew better. ‘I’ve a gift for you,’ she offered, reaching into her cloak.
‘It’d better be an inexhuastable supply of water and magical flying horse,’ Valdis retorted.
Pausing in the act of withdrawing her hand from her inside pocket, Lilah said, ‘How did you know?’
‘Don’t tell me you actually-‘
Lilah removed a small charm from her cloak and smiled. ‘No, i’m not that good.’
‘Bugger,’ Valdis muttered sourly. ‘And here I was thinking i’d actually get this done without dying.’
Handing him a miniature silver urn, Lilah gripped his hand. ‘If i could do more, I would.’
‘Yeah, yeah.’ Valdis pulled away to unclip the ring of charms from his belt and add the new one.
‘Don’t take anything you don’t need,’ Lilah suggested. ‘No extra baggage.’
Val glared. ‘Am I allowed a damn horse?’
Lilah shook her head. ‘Ive got something better.’ She stuck two fingers in her mouth and whistled.
‘Oh wonderful!’ Val glowered as a great ugly brute covered in coarse brown hair the colour of sand, squeezed out of the bricks and into the alley like a blob of melted wax.
Slapping the demon, or whatever the heck the thing was, on the rump, Lilah grinned.
‘No.’ Valdis shook his head. ‘I’m not riding that!’
‘Why not?’ Lilah’s humour vanished.
‘Because it looks like it’d be quite happy to munch on me while I’m sleeping!’
Lilah stroked the beast as if to soothe it’s bruised feelings. ‘Flavian is quite gentle, I assure you.’
‘I’m sure…What? Flavian? Are you serious?’
‘Yes, I created him.’ She frowned. ‘I’m not sure what to call the species, however?’
‘How about, monstrosity?’
Lilah stamped her foot. ‘Apologise, this instant.’
‘Fine.’ Val sighed. ‘I’m sorry.’
‘Not to me, you fool.’
Val rolled his eyes and turned to the beast. ‘I’m sorry.’
‘Flavian,’ Lilah insisted. ‘He has a name, be so kind as to use it.’
Gritting his teeth, Valdis tried again. ‘I’m sorry, Flavian.’
‘Good.’ Lilah beamed. ‘Now, Flavian doesn’t require any water, and he doesn’t eat.’
‘All the more for me, then.’
Lilah continued as if she hadn’t bene interrupted. ‘He can run for hours, maybe even days.’
‘Not very precise.’
‘You try creating an enitirely new species in one night and see if you remember all the details.’
‘I’d probably chalk up a quick manual for any prospective victims…I mean riders.’
‘Oh, you’re funny,’ Lilah said without any trace of a smile.
Val shrugged. ‘I have my moments.’
‘Which are getting fewer every minute you stand here making sarcastic comments.’
Giving the demon Flavian a quick once over, Val noted the leather harness and what passed for a saddle in Lilah’s warped imagination, and sighed. ‘Right, I’ll just get on the thing and pray, shall I?’
‘Flav obeys the same commands as any horse, he’s just better that’s all.’
‘Don’t expect me to call him, Flav. Sounds like something the night soil collecters might shovel out of a cesspit,’ Valdis retorted as he mounted. Flavian twitched a little, but otherwise didn’t react.
Lilah craned her neck to look up at him. ‘Just bring him back in one piece.’
‘Thanks and what about me?’
‘Be wary,’ Lilah warned. Her eyes darkened slightly.
Val shuddered. ‘Great, I feel about as reassured as a criminal about to get hanged.’
‘The charm will supply you will fresh water for seven days, no more.’
‘How long does it take to cross the desert?’ Valdis asked, despite not really wanting to know.
Lilah hesitated. ‘Usually, fourteen or fifteen days, depending on dust storms and other hazards.’
Looking down, Valdis griamced. ‘You know something?’
‘I liked you better when you weren’t trying to get me killed.’
Lilah’s eyes softened. ‘Me too.’
‘Well, see you later.’ Valdis dug his heels into Flavian’s ribs and added under his breath, ‘I hope.’
Either Lilah didn’t hear or she wisely chose not to comment as he rode out into the street.
‘He’s going to die,’ Zelos whispered as he tucked a stray hair behind her ear.
Pulling away, Lilah slapped him, leaving a red mark on his cheek. Zelos smiled, stroking the welt of her fingers on his skin. He seated himself on a high backed chair of silver, padded with black velvet.
‘You’re so predictable,’ he remarked, stretching out to expose the pale flesh of his bare legs under the thick wool. His left knee was swollen as an ancoent tree root, the other whole and unharmed.
‘That makes two of us,’ Lilah threw his comment back. To relax here, in his presence, would be like throwing herself into a snake pit and hoping she didn’t get bit.
Zelos regarded her with his pale, dead eyes. ‘Please,’ he cojoled, gesturing to the jug of wine on a nearby table. ‘At least drink with me.’
Lilah gazed at the beaded clay jug as if it were a poisoned blade about to be thrust into her heart. ‘I’d rather scoop out my eyeballs with a rusty spoon, thanks.’
‘Always suspicious.’ Zelos gurgled a laugh. ‘Why would I kill my other half?’
Folding her arms across her chest, Lilah scowled. ‘I’m not worried about you murdering me.’
Sitting up in his chair, Zelos tensed, and then, relaxed. He smiled. ‘That was a one time deal.’
‘Yes,’ Lilah spat. ‘I made sure of that, brother,’ she emphasised.
Picking at some imaginary dirt under his fingernails, Zelos shrugged, but didn’t look her in the eye as he spoke. ‘You made your aversion quite clear. As I’ve said, I have learnt my lessons well.’
Moving to the arched window overlooking the overgrown gardens beyond, Lilah tried to ignore the fact she wasn’t alone, not here, not in her head. She leant against the cool stone casement.
‘He won’t rest until the whole land is purged,’ Zelos called out.
Lilah looked out at the vines choking fruit trees and struggling flowers. ‘I know,’ she whispered.
A shadow crossed over her. ‘He never stops talking to me,’ Zelos murmured, his breath hot against her neck. His fingers were clammy on her skin as he clenched her shoulder. ‘He won’t ever shut up.’
Dragging herself free, Lilah spun around to face him. ‘Don’t ever touch me.’ She jabbed him in the chest with one finger. Zelos gasped and doubled over. ‘I won’t tell you again. I’ll just end you.’
Drawing himself upright, Zelos was white as a starched sheet, but managed to rasp. ‘One day you will lower your gaurd and He will worm his way inside your head, then you’ll beg me to help you.’
‘I doubt it.’ Lilah turned away and stormed out the room. Left the temple and went out into the light.