“If we have a soul, then maybe we can call a portal?” I suggest.
She closes her eyes in defeat. “I knew you were going to say that.”
“First we recon this place. We’re no help to anyone if we rush in like we’re an army and get our asses kicked. We’ll do a quiet walk around the perimeter, sticking to what shadows we can. Then we find an access point. Go in, find the souls, get out again. Once we have a soul, we should be able to cross back into our side of the veil.” She nods her head in agreement and we both keep low as we dart to the next rock for cover. I have never been more thankful for the black reaper uniform. With darkness starting to fall the shadows deepen, and the black helps us blend in at least a little.
When we make it to the back of the mansion, I hear footsteps crunch along the gravel walkway. We duck behind the boulder again and wait, listening. Another demon walks past, his skin a pale gray and the smell of burning garbage permeates the air in his wake. If we want inside, we’ll have to get rid of him first.
I signed up to reap souls, not be a badass demon hunter.
When his steps fade around the building we make our way back to the corner of the mansion and slowly peer around it. No other demons are in sight so we creep up to the back door. Thankfully it has a broken frame that allows us to see inside. A demon wearing a leather apron is stirring something on a wood burning stove.
The sight may have been comical if it wasn’t for all of the blood along the countertops and sink. A pile of carcasses towers in one corner of the room, and they look like humans.How the fuck are they getting them?
The cook leaves the stove and walks to the pile. Once it starts to throw things around looking for something, we risk opening the door and quietly run for the closest doorway.
He doesn’t look our way at all but of course the moment we make it through the doorway we come face to face with a demon who didn’t see us coming. Without hesitation, I grip my dagger in a tight fist and slide it across its throat. His eyes widen but he can’t call for help, only gasp for air as blood pours from the fresh wound. Sam just saved our asses with this weapon.
Not an ounce of regret sits in my body after seeing what they’re capable of. The moment I see its life fade, I wipe my blade on my pant leg and keep it in my grip, ignoring how badly my hands are shaking. I’ve never killed anything in my life and even if I don’t regret it, the action itself leaves me more than a little uneasy.
“Don’t do it, Luz. Don’t you dare let your compassion have a place in your heart right now. These creatures would kill us andeatus without hesitation. They’re killing souls and denying them an afterlife. They have to die,” Thea reminds me fiercely and I nod numbly in response. It takes a few tries but I manage to shove my emotions to the back of my mind. I have to work on instinct now.
The hallway is empty and we hurry forward, not wanting to get caught. At the end, it branches off in two directions. Unsure, I turn to Thea.
“Any ideas? Can you feel the souls?” She closes her eyes. After a moment she points to the right. Thank goodness for her connection to souls, since it may be the only thing that gets us home again.
We follow the new hallway with quiet steps. Most doors are closed but as we pass our first open one I wish I’d never peered inside. This place truly is hell. The coppery smell of blood fills my nose and sounds of anguish threaten to pull my emotions free. It takes everything in me to not run as far away as I can. Three demons surround one human man, who is bloody and tied to a hook in the ceiling. I know we can’t help him, not with these odds, and I hate myself for it.
Thea lays a hand on my arm to stop me from beating myself up and urges me on. We walk around another corner before she grabs me and silently points to a door nearby. After a quick glance around to make sure we’re alone, I grip my dagger and walk up to the door.
The door doesn’t budge when I try the handle so I step back and lift my foot, kicking just inside the doorknob to break the door free. The noise of the splintering wood is so loud we both gasp, glancing around to see if we’ve just alerted the entire mansion. Thankfully it stays silent, or at least I thought so until we step inside the room.
The two demons waiting for us try to split and take us out together, but I sidestep to put myself between them and Thea. She protests behind me. When I don’t back down she presses her dagger into my free hand.
The demons lunge together and I meet them head on with daggers at the ready. My left dagger lodges in the first demon’s throat while the second demon slams his fist into my face. Pain explodes on my eye and if not for Thea keeping me upright I might have hit the ground.
I definitely underestimated the strength these fuckers have, even though they look like walking corpses.
Slender, bony hands wrap around my throat and I slam my dagger into his temple with enough force I hear it scrape the bone. Blood gushes out of the wound, spraying my face and coating my arm.
Shoving him off of me I roll over and wrench the dagger free before slamming it home a second time, going for the eye socket this time as I straddle his thin form. The angry wail he’s letting out cuts off abruptly and I stand back up, taking the dagger with me.
I’m covered in blood and who knows what else, breathing hard, but we’re alive.
Thea grunts as she tugs her own dagger free and somehow the asshole is still alive. Not taking chances I rush forward and pull back a boot before stomping as hard as I can on his head. It takes several tries before his skull shatters but at least this way we won’t be followed.
The sound of Thea gasping in pain has me looking up just in time for her to fly into a wall. The demon in question looks far too pleased and I race toward him without a second thought. A feral scream escapes me as I jump on his back and reach around with my dagger, digging it deep into its throat. Thea gags as the demon gurgles blood and collapses.
She got the brunt of the spray this time and I rip off the bottom part of my tank top and find a clean spot to wipe off her face clean.
“I’m so sorry, Thea,” I whisper, hating that I just spilled demon blood all over my seventeen year old companion.Fucking demons.
Part of me is angry at the council as well. They knew we were different yet couldn’t offer a single bit of insight on what we can do. All these centuries of doing this job and they couldn’t offer a single bit of advice?
“Oh, god, Luz!” Thea calls out, gaping over my shoulder with her mouth open in horror. I turn in time to see a demon staggering to his feet, blood trickling from his temple and eye.
“They can fucking heal?” I gasp. “What the fuck?”
There’s no time to dwell on it. He’s regaining strength so I’m forced to strike. This time after I cut his throat I make sure to stomp him down as well. At least it will buy us a few minutes to find these souls and get the hell out of this place.