December already?! Seriously... wow. Okay, so the story is drawing close to it's climax... but I won't spoil it for you. This week's update was inspired by the prompt: The whole thing was just swept under the carpet.
Take Flight Part 21
“I don’t figure you’re too worried about the iron part,” Mr. Rittenhauser said. “But a shot to the chest will kill you just as quick. I see a hint of that foul magic from him and you both die.”
The older man curled his lip in disgust. “I always knew you’d be the link we needed. Filthy, unconsecrated sinners like you always draw in the demons.”
Birch blinked. “What?”
“I know! I saw the pale demon enter your window one night, like smoke from the fires of hell. No one believed me but I started watching. I got proof. Then Father Biscayne finally took me serious. Then the pale one left and you went away.”
Birch shivered. Icy tendrils of dread coiled in the pit of his stomach. What proof did he have?
“The whole thing was swept under the carpet. I began to dig, to find ways to stop the demons from coming into our world.”
Birch struggled to keep the cross from slipping without moving. Rittenhauser’s cross had poisoned the fae realm, but had he meant for that to happen? His raving didn’t sound like it.
Spit sprayed from Rittenhauser’s mouth. “I had to test it. So I offered you a job. But he came back! That filthy demon wasn’t stopped by the righteous power of the Lord. Now this one escaped, due to you.” Rittenhauser jerked the gun toward Ange and then back to him. Birch flinched.
Ange’s eyes began to shine in the waning light. The change wasn’t sudden, but his glamour faded. The men surrounding them didn’t seem to notice but Birch could see it from the corner of his eye. The other men were all listening to Rittenhauser’s psychotic rant.
“I knew when that freak took you from your house that you’d be back sometime. We were watching. The faithful stand firm, as the Lord commanded us.” Birch’s former boss stabbed his finger into his chest. “We’ll purge the forces of evil from the heavenly places in this world, as He commanded.”
“Amen!” the men chorused.
The agreement bolstered Rittenhauser’s grandeur and he swelled up like a toad. His eyes bugged out as he glared at them.
Birch’s arms began to tremble. The standoff couldn’t go on much longer. He’d either drop the infernal cross and Rittenhauser would shoot, or the religious fanatic would get tired of his self-aggrandizing and shoot.
He felt a moment of sorrow for the pain Sayer would feel when he died, but Birch couldn’t let Ange be killed. He’d never get away, but Ange might. He was a dryad, and they were surrounded by trees. The trembling in his hands was almost too strong to let Birch get a good grip on the arms of the cross. He licked his lips.
“Run, Ange!” Birch screamed and heaved the cross at the men closest to him. The cross knocked two men over. Birch rushed toward Rittenhauser. He hoped Ange listened to him.
Shots broke out in the clearing as the men reacted to the confusion. Birch flinched as he dove toward his boss. A fiery trail slid across the top of his shoulder. Pain burst through one thigh, and Birch fell.
He struggled for possession of Rittenhauser’s gun. The older man had a strong grip. They rolled on the ground. Birch tried to brace his leg and buck his hips but it wouldn’t move. He was too weak to stop the blow as Rittenhauser brought the gun down on his chest.
The next strike was to his head.
“My Lord!” Two guards burst into Sayer’s suite. They carried a dryad… Ange!
“What are you doing here? Where’s Birch?”
Sayer had woken from the madness of the taint. His time as a Darkling had been short, but the damage had been done. He couldn’t access the magic of the fae realm for more than a trickle of power. Haverlseen sent all the recovered Darklings to rest. It was all he could do.
“Some guy, his human boss, surrounded us as soon as we left the fae realm with the cross. He knows about us and was watching the cross. He…” Ange drooped between the guards. “He captured Birch when your beloved threw the cross at the men and attacked.”
“He what?” Sayer shouted. He threw the blankets off.
Ange flinched. “I’m sorry, my lord. I didn’t want to leave but he ordered me to run. I knew you had to be told, so I left him there. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!”
“It’s not your fault. Birch made the right choice. We never would’ve known who was behind all this if you hadn’t listened to him. Did you…? Was he…?” Sayer couldn’t bring himself to finish the questions.
“Communing with the trees in the human world was hard, but I was still close. He was hurt, but still alive. I heard the one who was in charge, Mr. Rittenhauser Birch called him, order the guys with him to tie Birch up.”
Ange swallowed. “They plan to use him as bait. For you.”
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