That night after everyone had dinner, and showered, and so on, we went off to bed. It didn’t take long for Amelia to crawl in and cuddle against me. I lay on my back, staring at the ceiling, my mind racing. Another hunter had appeared, and Amelia seemed to know her. Great. Just when I thought that maybe things could go right for once, that maybe my fresh start on life would lead to greatness. Not death by hunters.
I did find it strange that despite being with me, not a single heavenly fuck targeted Amelia. Was it because they believed she was too goody-goody to betray them? If that was the case, she would’ve turned me in already, right? Amelia isn’t the deceitful type. Not saying any of the heavenly beings are impure, but those of the Venus Clan valued purity more than everyone else, even ours, Helios. This possibly meant that they truly thought her imprinted mind was the cause of her decisions. Her leaders never once thought to talk with Amelia. This assumption worked in her favor, for now. Either that or no one knew she shielded me. Which meant that among Paradise Realm’s most wanted list, I could be at the top, tier one for sure thanks to Yulese. Fuck.
I turned to see Amelia, looking at me with eyes that put even the greenest of pastures to shame. Something within me struck hard. If I lost her in this mess, a part of me would break. Was…I actually growing attached to her?
“What are you thinking, Epex?” she said, softly.
I sighed. “The list is too long.”
“Don’t worry so much,” Amelia said. “I will protect you.” She closed her eyes. The warmth of the goddess calmed me down. I placed a hand on her face. She smiled as she grabbed my hand with both of hers.
“You’re all I have,” I said. “You’re the only one that gives a damn about me. Everyone else just want my blood.”
She opened her eyes to gaze into mine. “Things will get better. This is a great trial, and I bet your father knows that. Not matter what rubbish gets thrown at you, no matter what knocks you down, get back up again and face it. Overcome it.”
I nodded and turned my gaze back at the ceiling. Despite everything she had just said, I knew I wasn’t the “good” guy. I was being hunted by heavenly hunters for attempted murder against the current ruler of the universe and actual murder of Yulese and his misthanger servants. Even if it was self-defense, a crime is a crime in Paradise Realm’s book. It didn’t help that my track record sucked. My running only delayed the inevitable. I waited an hour to make sure Amelia was sound asleep, and then slowly pulled myself out of the bed. If she had woken up, I would’ve used the good ole, ‘gotta take a piss’ excuse. Fortunately, she didn’t, and away I went.
As I walked into Secure Corps, eyes settling on the security guard attendant, I let out a tired breath. Mickey and four others shared the day shifts. The building was normally shut down at night but with this meeting happening, somebody had to stand watch. Amony had no problem employing her night security to handle said duties. The middle-aged man grunted as he glanced at my badge and ID before letting me inside.
When I entered the meeting room, I immediately took notice of the new guy. He was a black man who looked to be about twenty-seven or so, dressed in a suit, sunglasses on his forehead. He looked like a CIA or FBI agent, faded haircut, sharp green eyes.
“Have a seat,” Amony said. I did. “This is Devante Harris. He’s the recruit I’ve told you about.”
“So, let me get this straight,” I said. “You involved the cops in something this dangerous?”
“I’m actually a professor at Middleburg University,” Devante said. “Prof during the day, sorcerer at night.”
I shot him a skeptical look and then turned to Amony.
“Devante, he’s not much of a believer,” she said. “Demonstration, please.”
Devante raised his hand slightly, palm up. Without muttering a single word or making any gestures, light flickered three inches above his palm before morphing into a bright orange fireball the size of a basketball. My eyes widened. Sorcerers didn’t worship demons like witches did, but they still weren’t in the smiling eyes of Paradise Realm. Tampering with nature and power that didn’t belong to you was a serious offense. Of course, Conus wouldn’t send them to Hell if they gave up sorcery to turn a new life of goody good. As for those that used it to kill or conquer, sometimes angels of vengeance visited. Let’s just say that if that sorcerer didn’t pack some very serious power to either kill the angel or get away, he was tossed into the depths, no questions asked. Knowing this much, I eyed Devante. I didn’t give a fuck about what he did with his life, but I also couldn’t have him attracting angels.
“You know the risks of sorcery, right?” I said.
“Of course,” he said. “Use it for good and you won’t attract them.”
“Sometimes you could attract them anyway,” I said. “Curiosity is a thing.”
“But he won’t,” Amony said. “The angels don’t go after witches, right?”
“That’s because you idiots don’t pull from nature like sorcerers do. Most of you pull from your demon gods.” I shook my head. “And you know the price you’ll eventually pay.”
Amony only smiled. “Someone’s in a feisty mood.”
I turned my gazed to Elly. She was playing on her phone, not caring one bit about this conversation.
“So, you’re in on infiltrating Sunset?” I asked Devante.
“Of course,” he said. “I owe the fuckers some payback for what they did to my sister.”
At that moment, I peered into his past. Non-sorcerer Devante visited his family after finishing doctorate and surprised his sister at her school. While walking her home, they were attacked by four men, whom I assumed were goons of Sunset. Three ganged up on him with superhuman strength while the other dragged his sister off. The rape lasted a few minutes before they robbed them both of their cash and fled. After that, his sister hadn’t been the same. She didn’t socialize. She became suicidal. Devante wanted revenge. Somehow, he ran into a shady monk who revealed to him what the attackers were. He warned Devante that fighting them was pointless. Devante begged for a way to get revenge and to heal his sister. The monk watched the man in silence before agreeing to teach him sorcery.
I turned to Amony. “When will we infiltrate Sunset?”
“I’m not sure if this will be enough,” Elly suddenly said.
“We don’t have much time,” I said. “If they continue their meetings and attract the Fallen, it’s over. Everyone here will die anyway. Especially you demon-types.”
“We’ll die pointlessly if we think we can march into their hideout with these numbers,” Elly argued. “Epex, these aren’t ordinary demons. The devil leading them wanted the organization to be something like the mafia but stronger. You can bet they’re going to be professionally trained.”
“Not what I saw in the vision,” I whispered.
“Nothing,” I said. “Maybe we can attack them on an isolated basis.”
“We still need more people,” Elly said. “At least a few more, strong people.”
Just then, my heavenly-being senses hit the roof. It felt angry. Familiar. Oh fuck. Oh, fuckitty fuck!
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Alvin Atwater is a man of humor, a starving author. With a unique writing style that can outshine even Jim Butcher, Patria Briggs, or Kevin Hearne, he is a character-driven lovable lump of mass. Born in Florida, he's on a mission to defeat his arch nemesis, Florida Man, once and for all.
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Author of the Blood for Soul series and a secret coming-of-the-age epic fantasy. Lover of anime and manga: so yeah, weeb shit? Fun. Sue me haha.
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