Eight

Ezekiel's Wife

(Trigger Warning: This chapter contains generally disturbing images and themes.)


Quinn walked with guarded steps as he moved through enemy territory. Every god was an enemy in his mind - being as powerful as he was came at a cost. He liked to believe Calypso and her followers wouldn’t be stupid enough to attempt to kill him, yet that hadn’t stopped several idiots from trying before.



He had no trouble stringing up anyone who stood in his way, or even looked at him the wrong way, yet he was here on the request of his master, so he, unfortunately, had to be on his best behavior.
Quinn was normally eager to get up and away from Midnight Hollow. The town got under his skin and revolted him, yet this time was different. He actually had fun there. Esmerelda had proven, once again, to be a unique set of occurrences that kept happening to him over and over.



He told himself that he was satisfied with their encounter and that he could put her from his mind now. Yet here he stood pondering her once again as he walked the halls of Siren’s Cove.



“I was in the massacre of Siren’s Cove because that’s the only word I can think to describe it as.”
It was hard to imagine Esmerelda walking these very halls. They were so lifeless.



A woman stood, stone-still at the end of the hallway, her eyes of shattered glass and her tattered clothes revealed scales covering her legs - a Cursed Siren. Cursed Sirens always made him uneasy and he tipped his head slightly. “I have a message from the God of Magic.”



The woman blinked at him, lifelessness in her features and he briefly wondered if she was even alive.
That was the scary things about Cursed Sirens, he supposed. They were brain-dead: lifeless puppets controlled by the Goddess of the Sea. They had no free will and they had a taste for human flesh. He had heard Calypso boasting them to be the best soldiers, and Quinn could hardly argue.



Quinn could take on many foes, but all the ones who were mortal… who were human and entirely of sound mind would eventually desire to flee; to avoid death. Cursed Sirens ran straight into it. They had no other option. They fought until you pulled their head from their body and even then they might still take a few swings at you before collapsing.
Quinn had stood in front of this woman, his eyes glancing around the hall yet it remained eerily empty. It made him uneasy, and she had not made any response nor any notion that she had even understood his message in the first place.



The Cursed Siren lurched suddenly, seeming to have trouble on her legs as she walked for the door, scratching and pulling on it until it came open. She hissed slightly and stepped to the side, yet faced the wall blankly, as if that was cue enough to go in.



Quinn sucked in his lips and nodded. “Good talk.” He had to remind himself to not put his foot in his mouth. The Cursed Sirens may be brain dead, but they all had ears that went straight back to their master.



With that he sauntered into the intended room with as much confidence and sass as he could muster. He may have to watch his tongue, but he would hate to give anyone the impression that he’s toned down from whenever it was he had last seen Calypso’s court. How many years ago was it? Not enough.



Mania usually took care of these errands. She was the diplomat. Quinn had been relieved when she had taken over the job as messenger. Perhaps he had hoped too much that he wouldn’t have to be delivering painstakingly polite messages between the slime of the world after that?
The door slammed closed behind him and he was left staring at the back of someone all too familiar - yet not who he wanted to see. Quinn let out a sigh. “Zeke.”



Ezekiel Titus, the High Priest of Calypso.
He and Quinn ran in entirely different circles, likely due to the fact that Zeke was a psychopath and Quinn was only mostly a psychopath.



A female corpse sat at Zeke’s feet, lifeless with cuts up and down her torso. He stood leaning against the railing, looking down into the floor below them with interest before he nudged the body off the ledge with his foot.



There were several shrieks and the sound of water splashing violently and Zeke laughed darkly. “Hello, Quinn. You’re just in time for breakfast.”



Quinn shifted and bit his cheek slightly. He had been out of these circles for too long. He knew he shouldn’t react; they loved getting abhorred reactions out of people. So Quinn put on a smirk and stepped towards Zeke with confidence. “Oh how wonderful! Unfortunately, I'll have to decline: corpses are a bit chewy for my taste.”
Zeke was still laughing. “Yes, I suppose live flesh is easier to digest. The screaming makes for a nice show too.” He turned around and leaned against the railing.



Quinn was struck by something and he resisted smirking as he pointed to his own face. “That’s new from the last time I saw you.” He drew a line over the air in front of his face that followed the same patterns as the scars across Zeke’s. It was hard to not laugh at the prospect of something clawing the shit out of that psychopath.



Zeke smiled with good humor though. “Women.” He said it simply and it was answer enough.
“Gods damn… that must’ve been one hell of a lady.” Quinn shook his head. When you get high enough in the powerful circles, scars were irrelevant. You only wore them if they meant something or you were trying to look tough, because any healer worth their salt in the gods’ circles could get rid of anything unwanted. Either that scar across his face was deliberate or he pissed off Calypso’s healer. Quinn pursed his lips - or killed the healer... he supposed it could be either at this point, given Zeke’s nature.
Zeke nodded his head slowly, still smiling. “My wife.”



Quinn found himself genuinely surprised by this. Zeke? Married? Carule must be vomiting somewhere at the mention of it. “How romantic.” He shook his head as he grinned. “Can’t say I’m a big fan of the system, but if it works for you… good on you, mate.”
“What? The infamous Quinn hasn’t settled down with a girl or two? I suppose I lost a bet, then.” Zeke joked.



It was banter like this that made Quinn most unsettled. The man went from feeding a body to some Cursed Sirens with a listless look in his eyes to a seemingly normal gent cracking a joke like he would with an old friend. Eerie. Just eerie. Quinn shook his head, maintaining his face. “Me? Settle down?” He laughed loudly and intentionally yet despite his reaction his mind flickered to Esmerelda. Would he see her again? He shoved the thoughts back. “That’s the best joke of the century, Zeke. I rather like my face un-mauled.” Back scratched and shoulders bitten in passion? Now those he could do.



“Don’t worry, Quinn. One day you’ll find a woman who mauls you in just the right way.” And there was the unsettling listlessness again.
Quinn looked up, pretending to take in the room as he gathered his composure. “If you say so…” He brought his eyes back down, feeling more confident. “Forgive me, but I have a message for Calypso that I should attend to. Master’s orders, you know.” He shrugged.



“Calypso is busy with the Lady Ambar's skirmishes. Give the message to me - I’ve been handling her politics for her.” There was a distance in his voice in the way he talked about the wars like they were just a silly game between two people and that no one was dying in their wake. It was no wonder Esmerelda was so bitter when Quinn brought it up.
Quinn looked at him flatly but let it pass. He would say his master’s piece and get the hell out of here. It’d been awhile since he’d gone home, he was surprised he hadn’t missed it to some degree. Instead he was thinking about going back to Midnight Hollow.



His brain immediately halted the thought. It may be best if he saw Mania instead, for he must have caught something nasty if it made him want to go back to that wretched place.



“Very well.” Quinn sighed. He had no time to dabble in politics or arguing. Ok, so he did have time, but that time was much better spent seeing if Esmerelda was still in Midnight Hollow or if she had drifted onward to Moonlight Falls yet as she had told him that morning. He told himself it was entirely for round two. Or would it be called round four? He briefly wondered if she had gotten the message he had left for her. “The God of Magic and Madness formally states-” he paused as he smiled deviously and recalled the response word for word. “‘Blah-de-blah, words and things. Something, something, hookah setup, backwards, trinitarian, seventeen, randlebelle, stoplight, able-wonders, and no. Firm no. Shove it-’”



“That’s quite enough, thank you.” Zeke was looking at him with minor irritation and it filled Quinn with joy.



“I’m sorry, sir, but I was told to deliver the message word-for-word to Calypso. Seeing as you’re already hindering one of my requirements, I need to fulfill the other.” Quinn grinned and continued. “‘Shove it firmly into your skull or else I’ - being my master and not me - ‘will engrave it into your bone marrow for you, Fish-Witch.’ Well, that last part was intended for Calypso, but… as mentioned before...”



“Yes, yes.” Zeke said flatly. “You’ve more than made your point, Quinn.” His voice held reflections of minor irritation and patronization.
Quinn’s face darkened and he stepped forward. He had played nice for long enough, but Zeke seemed to have forgotten where he stood on the totem pole. Message now delivered, Quinn only felt it right to remind him exactly how things work. “No… I don’t think I did.” He gritted his teeth. “Your petty, stupid wars are getting onto our property. We’ve kept our noses out of your affairs and been very, very lenient with your master when she would come close to our boundaries. That. Is. No. More. You will not get permission to cross our territory and you will not sneak by thinking we won't know.”



Quinn punctuated each word with a hiss as he stepped forward again. His anger made the room darken as it stirred the magic in the air. He could hear the water below them growing still at the change. “We will not warn you again. Ambar may play for fun, but we do not. When we play, gods die. Clear?”



Zeke stared at him flatly, seemingly unmoved but that was the game. He could see the reminder of Quinn’s stance reflected in his eyes and he nodded. “Of course, Quinn.” He looked off to the side and downwards towards the water below him, his hand touching the fence he leaned against as a slight, defiant smile pulled on his lips. “How unfortunate Majnun sends his messengers alone. That seems a little… dangerous, doesn’t it?”



Quinn clenched his fists at the threat, yet he did what he could to keep his face level. “Yes well, unlike you, Zeke, I’m powerful enough that I don’t need bodyguards when stating facts to those too haughty to think rationally.”



Zeke stared at him flatly and Quinn wondered how much Zeke wanted to die. It was beyond comprehension yet in that moment they were at a stalemate. Quinn could not kill Zeke - not in Calypso’s castle; and Zeke could not kill Quinn - he lacked the power.



He certainly welcomed Zeke to try. Quinn would love to have a reason to eliminate every sorry sod in this stupid place. Yet Zeke stood there, staring at him with a slightly amused twinkle in his eyes like the twisted man he was. “It’s truly a shame you can’t stay for breakfast.” He held up his hand and snapped his fingers, causing a door off to the side to swing open and screaming filled the room.





Quinn didn’t want to look, yet his head snapped over as a woman was dragged out of the room that had just opened. The smell of blood filled the air and twisted his stomach. He gritted his teeth and watched as she was dragged, kicking and screaming, over to where Zeke stood.



Quinn’s gaze stayed firmly on her, only flickering up briefly to Zeke who was smiling, petting her hair carefully as she sat by his legs and begged him tearfully to have mercy. “Have a nice day, Quinn.”



The door came open behind Quinn and he watched Zeke grab the woman by her hair before yanking her backwards off the ledge. Her screaming filled the room as her body hit the water and the shrieking started once again. Quinn was clenching his fists so hard he could feel his nails cutting into his palm.
He couldn’t take it. His hand twisted up and pulled on the magic in the air.



His strings came up from below the woman and snapped her neck with a sound that echoed in the room - a quick death. The room immediately quieted of her screaming and was instead replaced by seemingly disappointed shrieks from the monsters below. “Have a good day, Ezekiel.” He spat as he turned and walked out of the door with the door slamming shut tight behind him.



Quinn pitied Ezekiel's wife; that was, if she hadn't already been killed. Even if by some chance she enjoyed this, her days had to be numbered.
He swallowed hard and kept walking. He would need something strong to drink after this.

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Ezekiel stood still in his chambers, taking in the mirrored version of himself carefully. His eyes were fixated on his arm. With careful fingers he traced the knife he held up and down the skin on his arm as he watched, fascinated, in the mirror.



He was certainly not uninformed in the acts of pain.
Oh he knew them all too well, yet there was nothing more painful to him than the coldness his wife was showing him - to run away from him as she had.



Ezekiel was a patient man, though, and he would bring her back. She wasn’t going to disappear anytime soon, and he had other priorities to manage. Skirmishes to win; people to track.
There was a solid three knocks on his door, a subtle space between each one and he turned his head slightly, his eyes still fixated on the mirror.



The door came open and a woman shuffled in, standing slightly limp as the door closed behind her. She stared forward with a lifelessness in her eyes and Ezekiel closed his own. “That disguise needs work, Lady Darko. Perhaps I should break your legs to help you remember.”



There was no response, yet the room shifted and her magic faded away. “You wished to see me, sir?”



She was uncomfortable in his presence and it pleased him. “I did.” He left it on that note, letting it hang in the air. It was a long silence and she stood unmoved before he spoke again. “The hunters came up empty-handed again.” He stepped away from the mirror and towards the archway looking out at the water.



“I gave you all I had.” She stared at him levelly. She was no longer uncomfortable in Ezekiel’s presence and it irritated him. After Quinn’s display that morning it beyond irritated him though.



His body liquified, the water racing for her form until he snapped up suddenly, reforming with his hands on her throat. He held above the ground as he bared his teeth at her. “My patience is growing thin, Juliana. Where. Is. Your. Daughter?!” He hissed.



Juliana gasped, and scratched at his hand. Her voice was weak as she choked on the words. “I… told you… the necklace…” He dropped her as she spoke and she sucked in a breath, holding her throat gingerly. “The necklace I gave her has a tracker in it. That’s all I have, sir. If she has that necklace… then we can track her.”



He took a step back, staring at the woman with pity. He reached over carefully and touched her chin. “Do not fear, Lady Darko. I’m not that unmerciful. We are all pulled in many directions during this trying time with the Lady Ambar. We will put our efforts there and then restart the search for your daughter when we win these skirmishes, ok?”
Juliana bowed her head, yet said nothing. She was grateful. She should be grateful.



He snatched his hand away and turned from her. “Should we return then without your daughter… that is when I would start to fear if I were you, Juliana. You’re dismissed. Consider what I’ve said a warning.”



Ezekiel took in a long deep breath after he heard the door close. If he wasn’t careful, people would think he’s gone soft. Yet, Juliana Darko brought out that side of him. He was soft on the Lady Darko, but his goodwill only stretched so far and it was only because of his wife. His… future wife, but he hated dwelling on that note. He had immense patience. He could wait as long as it took.
He stepped over to the mirror once again and reached to grab his knife. With a careful stroke he carved a cut down his upper arm to join the other seven scars he kept. Eight perfect scars. Eight self-inflicted reminders. Eight years since she slipped from his grasp.



Ezekiel’s hand placed the knife down before it moved upward on his cut forearm, smearing the blood and closing the wound leaving nothing but another scar in his hand’s wake.



He had never been caught off-guard by a woman - especially one who left such a… mark on him. He moved and touched his face, eyeing the scratches left by her delicate hands.



She had set his being on fire eight years ago. He had been sought to end the frivolous hunt by taking care of bringing her in himself yet she played tricks on him. She made him desire her and she played so coy when he had approached her, pretending to be afraid. She had known exactly what she was doing when she danced.



Ezekiel could see the light reflecting off her hair, the depth in her eyes. She was so good at her game, but he was better. He would win, and she would submit and be his wife.





Esmerelda.
It was like her essence was calling to him, teasing him and taunting him with the fire in her eyes. She pulled him over to the map once again where he waved his hand. He had done this so many times now he had the movements memorized.



He watched his gypsy temptress with cunning eyes - careful to stay one step ahead of her when he could, but she changed the game as she ran. It was infuriating and challenging and yet so rewarding all at the same time.
Ezekiel’s hand traced lovingly over the papers below him, his fingers touching the spot her tracker said she was. His lips twitched slightly and he looked back further at the map.



Moonlight Falls? That’s where his Mistress’s next skirmish was set for with the Lady Ambar. They were preparing for a glorious bloodbath there, and Ezekiel knew he was meant to stay out of these smaller fights.
He shook his head with disdain and felt anger boiling in him. “You dare tempt me against the Mistress’s will, my sweet gypsy?” He cooed at the map. “You will not succeed, but don’t fret… I’ve not forgotten our chase.”



Ezekiel was a patient man.
They would be together soon enough.


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Esmerelda sat on a bench, feeling the wind shifting. She had made it to Moonlight Falls.



She had made it all the way here and she felt an uneasy twist in her gut. She was tempted to chalk it up to Midnight Hollow, but Midnight Hollow had been so much funner than she expected.
Perhaps that was the reason she felt uneasy? She couldn't place it, so instead she put it to the side and ignored it. She had some contacts here she needed meet up with.



She planned to.
Yet that would involve calling them first; it was a lucky break she had gotten the phone she did from Melanie. Now it was just a matter of remembering the phone numbers she needed. That was much easier said than done.



Her hand traced over the phone in front of her carefully before hitting the button on the side. The screen flickered on and she opened up the contacts list.
The phone had only one number stored in it that Esmerelda knew by heart, yet she stared down at the contacts screen perplexed at a second number that hadn't been there the day before.


What was that? She smirked to herself as she saw the new addition. She immediately went to send it a message when she stopped herself. She had to.
She was getting attached.



Quinn was funny and interesting, and the coincidence of meeting him twice in the matter of weeks was a bit overwhelming.
He clearly had magic but there was no way he could be capable of handling her situation. She was running for her life. She couldn’t stop. If she slowed down at the thought of pursuing this… whatever this was - they would catch her.
They would kill Quinn.



Another person would die because she got attached.
She should delete the number and be done with it, yet she stared at it and carefully formulated a message.
She just couldn't leave well enough alone.



This was insane.
Yet the phone vibrated in her hands.


She smirked, knowing exactly the tone he was taking and most of her worries disappeared with the string of messages they sent back and forth.









She outright laughed but the laughter fell away, replaced with a hollow ache. Why was it so easy to get attached? She stared down at her contacts list and swallowed hard. She had no idea what to do with... with all this. It had always been easy to keep herself separated when she was always on the move, yet Quinn had found her twice. Could she stand to do it again?


Could she stand to lose him to the Sirens that chased her? There was a part of her that wondered if maybe she was meant to slow down. Maybe this was meant to happen?
She stared at the other number in her list and let out a breath. She had gotten attached to Casper so easily and she had nearly destroyed everything for him because of it. If she had stayed any longer the entire pack would've died. She couldn't do that again. She couldn't bear it if it happened again but worse.
Yet they had been her family for so long.


She let out a long breath and hit the familiar number. She was weak. She was weak and indulging in things she shouldn't have today. She should've deleted Quinn's number. She should've kept her straight face when she dialed Casper. She should've just remembered the phone numbers for Casper's friends in the area instead of needing to call him and-


"Hello?" His voice was weary, tired. Tears came to her eyes at the sound of his voice. She had probably called him at a bad time. She usually did.
She blinked and tears ran over that she wiped away hastily. She couldn't find her voice to say anything, her lip quivered.


"Hello?" He asked again, his voice still heavy with sleep.


She should've been strong in this moment, but just like every single time before: she broke. "P-Papi?"






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Playlist
"Sirens" - Fleurie
"Madness" - Ruelle
"Hellfire" - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
"Safe and Sound" - Taylor Swift

3 comments:

  1. *TRIES TO PICK JAW UP OFF THE FLOOR

    *JAW IMMEDIATELY DROPS BACK TO BASEMENT LEVEL

    WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?!?

    O_O_O_O_O_O_O_O_O_O

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ehhh, the Cursed Sirens remind me of zombies. Creepy!

    Zeke is also downright disturbing! Ah, I'm disappointed that Quinn didn't figure out Ezzie is the "Zeke's wife", then he would've had a good enough reason to tear this horrible place down.

    Ezzie darling, yes! Get attached to Quinn! He's the priest of a god, but I get the feeling he's not just any god ;) God killer isn't an easily earned title!

    I'm guessing Casper is her dad right? Though, in the flashback there was only her mom and her. That and how Ezzie talks about him, I'm guessing Casper adopted her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are a bit, they have no free will, nor thoughts of their own. They're entirely zombies to their master.

      Zeke is... he's something, I'll say. God what I wouldn't give for that fight scene, because you and I both know Quinn would bring his A-Game for that. At the very least taunt the shit out of him about how he could never get her. I digress, Zeke is... (shivers) bleh, but his theme-song being "Hellfire" just fits so beautifully I almost like him for it.
      Almost.

      Hahaha I'm so glad you're rooting for them; a little secret I keep is my husband is actually a cynic of these two. He hates Quinn, rather openly, and says he has a "punch-able" face. Therefore whenever I want to get my Quizzie love on, I gotta go outside to find all my dear friends who love them just as much as I do. It's good to know he's a minority and the majority (that I can tell) are as hard on this ship as I am... XD

      I won't spoil but I suppose it's been said that yes, adopted father, and a darn good one at that! Her biological father appears in her dreams/nightmares.
      And you're about to head into some deep chapters. (salutes you)
      I'll see you on the other side! XD Good luck and much love!

      Delete