Deidre's Death (#2, Rhyn Eternal), p.1Lizzy Ford
#2, Rhyn Eternal
By Lizzy Ford
Cover design by Regina, Mae I Design
Deidre’s death copyright © 2013 by Lizzy Ford
Cover design copyright © 2013 by Regina, Mae I Design
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
This novel is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events; to real people, living or dead; or to real locales are intended only to give the fiction a sense of reality and authenticity. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and their resemblance, if any, to real-life counterparts is entirely coincidental.
From “Gabriel’s Hope”
At the Caribbean Sanctuary, Fate watched the Oracle record the latest batch of deals made between deities. They were routine. Boring. Nothing he really wanted to see.
And then it came. The one he was waiting for. He leaned forward, intrigued as the Oracle scribbled down the agreement.
Immortal Mate (Death – current) and Immortal Mate (Dark One - current)
This much he predicted. Sometimes, he kept himself entertained by forecasting what happened without letting himself peek at the details. This was one such instance where he refused to look, instead reveling in the thrill of anticipation. Now it was time to see if he’d guessed correctly.
IM-D given one week to make Death fall in love. Deal: IM-D, IM-DO souls. Winner takes all.
Fate contemplated the deal between Gabriel’s new mate and the Dark One’s new mate. A week was generous to one woman and dangerous to the other. His guess had been three days. Little Deidre was going to have a rough go in Hell, especially when she discovered what it meant to have the Dark One as a mate, while past-Death was going to find herself unprepared for the mortal world.
Prior to the details of the deal, Fate was considering going on vacation. Seeing the bet, he decided he wanted to stick around long enough to observe a few more events in the women’s futures. Both were on the courses he laid out for them, though that was not always an indication his preferred outcome was inevitable.
Straightening, Fate smiled.
He had a good feeling about this one. He was definitely sticking around.
Wynn paced in the closet –sized portal room. The two demons lurking in the shadows weren’t opening the only way out of Hell for an Immortal. They were waiting for their ill-tempered demon lord, Darkyn.
Which meant Darkyn wasn’t done with Wynn yet.
He had done his part. He didn’t even demand a deal of the demon lord, knowing the terms weren’t likely to be kind. He’d agreed to come down to help Deidre. It was meant to be the final act of their friendship, spurred only by the memory of the look on her face when he was forced to tell her what he did to her.
It didn’t quite work out as he planned. He paused in his pacing, staring into space. He came to help her, to appease his guilt once and for all. It hadn’t worked. He was leaving conflicted after seeing the marking on her back, the one that identified her as Darkyn’s mate.
Sweet Deidre. The woman who brought sunshine into every room, who managed to touch his sick heart. The only innocent soul in Hell, for Wynn’s was as black as the stone blocks of Hell’s fortress. What kind of deal did she make with Darkyn to rewrite the mating laws of the time-before-time?
Gabriel had to fix this. It was beyond Wynn’s control, but maybe, somehow, another deity was able to save Deidre from Darkyn, who was not likely to be merciful, even to his mate. This thought, of what the demon lord might do to the poor girl who had suffered enough, was what made Wynn feel guiltiest.
Had his actions truly set her on this path to end up as the plaything of a creature with no capacity for mercy? Gabriel was struggling with his domain. What if he wasn’t strong enough yet to fix the chain-of-events that Wynn had unknowingly started?
The door to the portal room opened, and he readied himself for an interaction with Darkyn. To his surprise, Deidre strode into the portal room.
“Wynn. Nice to see you again,” she said with a cool smile.
For a long moment, he was too surprised to speak. It wasn’t his Deidre. It was the Deidre, the deity who ruled over Death’s domain before turning it over to Gabriel. She crackled with the power of a goddess, her eyes turning colors and her delicate features cold.
“It was you in her head,” he managed. He knew there was a soul in the tumor in human-Deidre’s head. Suspecting it had belonged to the goddess who was Death, Wynn still wasn’t expecting anyone in their right mind to revive the most dreaded of the deities.
“Back from the dead-dead,” past-Death said. “Raised by the Dark One, the only other deity capable of reviving a dead-dead soul. Heading home to my Gabriel.”
“Home,” he repeated.
She turned to display the marking on her back. The immortal mating script clearly read, Gabriel.
“I don’t want to know what you did to rewrite the mating laws,” Wynn said. “Let’s get the fuck out of here, before Darkyn changes his mind.”
“He’s busy with her right now,” she replied then snapped her fingers at a demon. “Portal!”
“Lord Darkyn says you will await him,” a demon delivered the same message Wynn received a few minutes before.
Wynn’s jaw clenched. Darkyn was ruthless. The demon would leave nothing to chance, especially not the claiming of his mate. In the meantime, Wynn was trapped in a room that felt way too small with the deity he meant to kill instead of the human he almost succeeded in killing.
No matter how he looked at things, he’d fucked up worse than he initially thought.
“You came out better as a human,” he said without heat.
“She’s beautiful, isn’t she?” past-Death’s smile was genuine. “I didn’t expect her to turn out as perfect as she did.”
“What made her beautiful had nothing to do with your tinkering,” he snapped. “Or mine. She was naturally good. If anything, you and I nearly broke what was too good to be real.”
“You’re still in love with me, after all I did to you,” she murmured. “How can that be?”
Wynn eyed her. He suspected she was taunting him. The look of consternation on her face, however, told him differently. She was curious.
“Emotion is a weakness, one we cannot always control,” he replied. “You will find much of your power diminished, especially among those who used to bow to you. I’ve learned this altogether unpleasant lesson myself.”
“You mean Gabriel.”
“I mean everyone,” he said with a smile. “You and I were at the top when we became dead-dead. We are at the bottom now, hated by all, without the resources of power to which we were accustomed.”
“Interesting,” she said. “You will help me relearn.”
“No, I will not.”
“You will, Wynn. As the deity who brought you back from the dead-dead, you are obligated to me,” she reminded him. “You will do as I say.”
His jaw clenched. He almost spoke, then stopped. If she hadn’t learned anything yet, she would soon. He was happy to sit on the sidelines and wait for those hard lessons
“You can start by telling me how my replacement acted,” she continued. “What she did. How she won over Gabriel. If I am to become her, I need to know more.”
“You have a better chance of telling him what you did and begging him for mercy,” Wynn said with a shake of his head.
“Mercy?” Her eyebrows shot up. “I’ve never begged anyone for anything, let alone mercy.”
“You are like me, too broken to pretend not to be. Deidre isn’t broken like us. Honesty is what will win you Gabriel. Deception will not. You want my help then do what I say.”
Past-Death frowned. She looked ready to ask him something else when the door opened again. The demon lord entered and closed the door behind him. Darkyn was lean and wiry, his youthful looks at odds with the ancient intelligence in his black eyes. His quiet power was underwhelming, until one saw him in action. Short, dark hair framed a face with plain features that showed the signs of a lifetime of battle. His fangs were receding. A demon’s canines grew when he fed.
Wynn didn’t want to imagine what Darkyn did to the sweet girl he left behind in Hell.
“Going somewhere?” the demon lord taunted in a low growl, no part of which sounded human.
The human was lost the moment Darkyn’s name appeared across her back. Wynn pitied her but wasn’t about to ask any favors of the demon lord that didn’t involve Wynn leaving Hell – and Deidre – behind.
“Waiting on you,” past-Death replied. “We had a deal.”
“I always keep my terms.”
“I know. For which I thank you.”
“You also made a deal with my mate,” Darkyn said. He crossed his arms as he approached the woman who was identical to his mate. The demon lord stared down at her.
Wynn stepped back. Past-Death didn’t recognize the threat before her, not yet. She’d learn when she returned to a world she no longer controlled. Past-Death hadn’t felt the sting of reality that Wynn learned the hard way his second time around. Survival was a skill, one that creatures like the two of them had been never needed when they were rulers over their domains.
He listened, though, curious what kind of deal human-Deidre had made with the only goddess to ever outsmart the Dark One and Immortal Laws.
“It was made between us. I assume you know the terms, since it was sealed with your power,” past-Death said firmly. “There’s no room for your interference. It’s done and was executed between her and me. You cannot interfere and you must respect the terms.”
“I always do,” Darkyn growled. “I am aware of the terms.”
“It does, however, place you in a potentially bad situation, doesn’t it? If she wins?”
Darkyn was listening with the focus of a predator, his sharpened teeth resting on his lower lip.
Neither a hero nor a Good Samaritan, Wynn found himself retreating to the far wall, in case the worst-case scenario happened, and one of the powerful creatures decided to act. Past-Death was far too arrogant for his comfort. The idea of watching Darkyn strike her down made him eager to see blood spill. No part of him wanted to see her spared a demon’s mercy.
“You may want to take steps to prevent her winning,” she suggested. “Just in case. You don’t want to risk losing your blood monkey. It’s a potential outcome, if this doesn’t go my way.”
“I don’t lose deals,” Darkyn replied.
“It wasn’t your deal.”
“She used my magic to seal your deal, just as you used Gabriel’s to seal yours,” he said with a slow smile. “Her win or loss is mine to enforce, if either of you chooses not to honor the terms. I do not lose. Neither will she.”
“You won’t want her to win,” past-Death insisted. “Not if it means you lose her.”
“How I plan to keep her is not your concern. Your outstanding debt to me is.”
“There is no outstanding debt.”
“I raised you from the dead-dead. As past-Death, I’m sure you remember. It creates a sort of obligation,” he said mockingly.
Wynn watched their exchange, fascinated by the idea of seeing two bloodthirsty deities try to outwit one another. His own interactions with deities left him more than willing to shun them, if at all possible.
“You forget your new place. You are a deity without a domain or source of power, which means you have nothing I could possibly want,” Darkyn said. He circled the small, blonde woman and stopped behind her, gaze on Gabriel’s name, which was written across her back, along with the Immortal mating script. “But I will consider your obligation to me complete, on one condition.”
“I’m listening,” she said, frowning.
“You leave Hell a human in every way.”
“Then you don’t leave.”
“We had a deal,” she snapped, facing him. “You bring me back, I provide you a mate, and you let me go.”
“Who defines the terms to be completed for the reincarnated?” Darkyn snarled.
“The deity who brings one back,” Wynn supplied, gaze on past-Death. “It’s a separate obligation.”
She shot him a glare.
“You will try to win the deal you made with my mate the same way she won him. Without your powers,” Darkyn said. “These are the terms of you leaving Hell.”
“If I win the deal, will you return my power?” she asked, face flushed.
“No,” the demon lord said. “Gabriel or power? You choose.”
She looked ready to challenge Darkyn. Wynn wasn’t able to pity her, but he was able to understand the bigger picture. Darkyn wanted more than for past-Death to lose her bet; he intended to guarantee she never again became the threat she was.
“You’ve gone this far to guarantee a life with him,” Wynn said to her gently. “You’ve got one chance. You’d be a fool not to take it.”
Past-Death was quiet, considering Wynn then Darkyn. He saw the uneasiness on her face. She was starting to taste the bitterness of reality.
“I’ll do as you asked and help you,” Wynn added. She didn’t need to know he planned on having her killed off, once and for all, once they were free of Hell. As a human, she’d be much easier to render dead-dead. For good this time.
Past-Death was visibly torn, her eyes changing colors faster and faster as she thought. For a moment, Wynn thought she’d refuse.
“Very well,” she said at last. “I agree to your terms, Darkyn.”
“Then you may leave.” Darkyn motioned to the portal.
She hesitated, as if waiting for him to say more. When he didn’t, past-Death stepped onto the dais. Wynn trailed her, but the demon lord rested a hand on his shoulder to stop him.
Wynn cursed silently. He watched as past-Death disappeared through the only way out of Hell for regular Immortals like him.
Wynn drew a deep breath and faced the smaller demon lord.
“Sasha,” Darkyn said.
“My son, dead by your hands, I believe,” Wynn replied, tensing.
“Not by mine directly. He served me well for the time he was here. Sharp but erratic. Born to betray any master he served. My favorite kind of creature.”
Wynn said nothing. He hadn’t wanted to believe one of his sons betrayed the rest of the Council, though he wasn’t exactly surprised, either. Sasha had a side that was far more depraved than that of any of Wynn’s other sons.
“How badly do you want to leave Hell?” Darkyn sounded amused.
“What are the terms?” Wynn said through clenched teeth.
“Very simple. You undo what Sasha did.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Come.” The demon lord strode out of the portal room.
Wynn’s gaze lingered on the only outlet home. He sighed and followed. Darkyn opened one of the internal portals within Hell and strode through it. Wynn trailed, dread growing at the pit of his stomach. He emerged in a hallway lined with stone doors. Darkyn waited beside an open door, hands clasped behind his back in a deceptive display of ease.
Wynn entered and stopped a few steps into the room, not expecting what was before him. A girl in her mid-teens lay in a hospital bed in the center of the large chamber. She appeared to be sleeping. Half her face was knotted with horrible scars, the other half displaying skin close to the same shade as the white pillowcase beneath her.
“Sasha did many things to her, the finality of which was kill her,” Darkyn said. “I raised her when I was able to. I went after him, not knowing that whatever he did, it was something only he could undo. His soul was … lost soon after we threw your old body into the deepest chasm in the mortal world.”
There was no emotion in the demon lord’s voice, no indication of warmth or affection whatsoever.
“Who is she?” Wynn ventured.
“Selyn. My daughter, a hatchling born by an Immortal blood monkey.”
Wynn hid his surprise. And then something else clicked. Only the Dark One was able to raise someone from the dead.
“You raised her?” he asked, the words from Darkyn’s discussion with past-Death returning. “You raised past-Death. You got promoted.”
“Rarely does a promotion involve conquering a creature older than time.” Darkyn’s smile was chilling.
Wynn felt cold inside. Dealing with Darkyn was bad enough. Knowing the most powerful creature – one the Dark One himself exiled at one point for his ruthlessness – had taken over Hell was another matter entirely.
“You’re the Dark One. It’s not common knowledge yet,” Wynn whispered.
“Not yet. Soon.”
“What are the terms?” Wynn wasn’t about to ask why it was secret or spend too much time in Hell with the violent creature before him.
“Heal her,” Darkyn said. “You have five days. If you succeed, you leave.”
“If I can’t?”
Darkyn moved in front of him. Half a head shorter than Wynn, the demon lord nonetheless commanded any space he was in. His black eyes saw through Wynn.
“If you can’t. If you won’t. If you don’t. If you cause more damage,” Darkyn said in a soft, lethal voice. “I will do to you what I wanted to do to Sasha. It will last for eternity. Every second of your life will be worse than the last.”
“Understood,” Wynn said. He looked away.
“You will have access to any equipment you need from any realm. The oldest of the healers has tried to repair her without success,” Darkyn added. “Summon me when you know what you may need.”
“What of Deidre?” Wynn ventured. “Your … mate.”
“What of her?”
“She’s the only innocent caught up in this mess. You are showing your daughter mercy,” Wynn said carefully. “Can you not also show her mercy?”
“What I decide to do with my mate is of no concern to you,” Darkyn said in a low growl. “If I decide to keep her, I’ll blood-bind her, in the tradition of demon mating. It’s the oldest bond there is, old enough to keep the mating bond from shifting when she wins her deal.”
Wynn listened, aware of the demon blood bond and its origins from the time-before-time. The mating bond of the Immortals and deities and the blood bond of the demons were the two oldest bonds, unbreakable under the Immortal Code and from the laws older than the Code. But he didn’t see Darkyn taking a blood bond. The creature that refused to bow down to the Dark One was not going to allow itself to become blood-dependent upon a mate of human origin.
It would be endless torture for Deidre. There was only one creature in any world that deserved to suffer from a blood-bond, and that was past-Death.
“I don’t lose deals, Wynn. If I decide not to keep her, I’ll kill her,” Darkyn finished. “Either way, she will not leave Hell.”
“Will you kill her quickly at least?”
“How important is she to you?”
“Not enough for me to consider a deal,” Wynn said, aware of where the Dark One was headed. Hell ran off deals, but Wynn’s life was already in enough trouble without incurring another debt on behalf of a woman who had no hope of ever escaping Hell.
“For you, Wynn, if I decide to kill her, it’ll be slow. You can watch the woman who brings sunshine into every room fade away like the sunset.” Darkyn’s words were mocking.
Wynn gritted his teeth. He didn’t feel the Dark One in his mind, but he was there, reading his weaknesses.
“I hope you can one day see her as I do,” Wynn said.
“You have a greater concern,” Darkyn reminded him. He slid away.
Silently agreeing, Wynn released the breath he held only after he heard the door close behind Darkyn. His eyes went to the girl in the bed. At least the challenge and its terms were almost fair. What was Wynn, if not a healer?
He pushed Deidre from his mind. His own survival was more important. She was fucked at this point, and he hoped Darkyn killed her. Even if slow, her death would spare her an eternity at the hands of a demon with insatiable bloodlust.
Deidre's Death (#2, Rhyn Eternal) by Lizzy Ford / Fantasy / Romance & Love have rating 1.9 out of 5 / Based on31 votes