I strolled around the table, glancing at all of the unreadable faces watching me.
“I’m afraid there’s something I’ve been keeping from the Council.”
I looked at Athena and she nodded, as if to reassure me.
“I was made aware that there was an information leak among us. The matter was investigated thoroughly.”
“A mole? In the Council?” Dionysus asked, his eyes shifting colours.
“Yes.” I replied, “And tonight, I have been informed of their identity.”
I continued walking around the table, aware of how the Council members stiffened as I passed them.
“You see,” I continued, “The plans for the Eunoe were bait. You were all placed under constant surveillance by demons. One of you was found sending a letter via an unauthorized demon to Purgatory’s closest scouting regiment.”
I stopped by my seat, and put on a mock smile.
“Would the mole like to confess, or should I dishonour them for eternity myself?”
The table was stunned into silence.
I sighed, and slammed my fist into the table.
“I put my trust in each and every one of you. I considered you my friends, my family.” I said in a low voice, my hands burning with black fire, “And this is what I get in return?”
After a few moments of more silence I exploded.
“Enough of this charade!” I hissed, “Explain yourself, Eversio!”
He finally looked up at me, but his golden eyes were cold.
In a blur of movement he had jumped out of his seat, knocking over his chair, and burst out of the tent.
I didn’t have to say anything. In a split-second everyone was in hot pursuit.
It was dark outside and the cold night air hit me as I ran after him, keeping my eyes glued to the blonde head of hair.
“You can’t run from this, Eversio!” I yelled after him, my legs pumping against the soggy ground, “Face it!”
I heard the flapping of wings and felt a gust of wind as Cupid flew overhead, closing the distance between us and our quarry.
I saw him tackle Eversio to the ground, and they were quickly locked in a fistfight.
I heard something crunch and saw Eversio’s nose bleeding profusely as another blow crashed into his skull.
“Cupid, take it easy!” I yelled, “Just restrain him!”
Cupid turned to me for a split-second and it was long enough for Eversio to smash Cupid’s head against his knee.
As the god crumpled, Eversio looked at me with wild eyes, as if his flight-or-flight instincts had become irreparably confused.
“Eversio, just give it up.” I pleaded, “I don’t want to fight you.”
That seemed to jolt his consciousness back to him.
“Why not? I’m a traitor.” He spat, “I’ve been ruining everything for you since this war started!”
“Why did you do it?!” I shot back, “Wasn’t it enough being a prince on the winning side?”
“No! It wasn’t enough! You know why? Because I was never enough! For that...bastard.” he seethed, his eyes darting towards Lucifer, who was about thirty yards from us.
“So your daddy issues are enough of a reason to endanger your realm?” I asked incredulously, “Grow up, Eversio.”
“I’d been warning him about Purgatory for months. He didn’t so much as look at me. And then he made you Commander...Purgatory listened. Purgatory took me seriously. And when we win the war, the throne is mine!”
“You can’t possibly believe what they told you!” I scoffed, “You’re the means to an end. You don’t mean anything to them.”
“And you...” he continued, his face contorting, “If it wasn’t for you, we would have already won. This is all your fault!”
His eyes became red and he lunged at me, enraged.
The force of his attack took me off guard and his hands closed around my throat.
“You’ve done enough damage.” He hissed, “I’m going to enjoy eating your soul, Commander.”
I felt his nails digging into my skin, and was momentarily paralyzed with fear.
That is, until energy surged into me and he was thrown back by an invisible force.
There was the sound of rapidly-approaching footfalls.
“Sorry, m’boy, but this soul’s mine.” Lucifer declared, before promptly grabbing Eversio’s collar and punching him. Hard.
“Father...dear...” Eversio spat out between punches, “I’m...thrilled...to...see...you...one...last...time.”
“Shut up, you little brat.” Lucifer hissed through gritted teeth, “I should have expected you’d be as pathetic as Sister Myrtle – “
Eversio spat blood in his face.
“Don’t say her name, you piece of crap!”
He was punched again.
“She let me into her room, Eversio. She took off her cross. And you know what she did afterwards? She cried.”
“Shut up!” Eversio roared, getting himself punched yet again.
“She had to leave the convent, thanks to you.” Lucifer continued, “And after you were born, she shot herself in a church. I took you home, Eversio. I made you a prince!”
Eversio didn’t reply. He looked like he had passed out, his bloody face limp.
Lucifer let him drop to the ground, disgusted. He turned to me, likely on the verge of saying something.
And then his face contorted into a mixture of pain and shock, and I looked down with him to see the blade protruding from his knee.
Eversio had propped himself on one arm, still holding the sword with the other.
I ran forward and held Lucifer as he fell, helping him to the ground.
When I looked up, Eversio had vanished.
I barely had time to think before I was caught hard across my jaw with an invisible hook.
I could hear Eversio laughing.
“Don’t look so confused, Commander,” he chuckled, before an invisible shove made me stumble to the ground, “Shadow-walking, remember?”
I felt the world lurch as an invisible booted foot smashed into my temple.
“Show yourself!” I yelled, “Don’t you have any self-respect?”
Another kick was aimed at my ribs.
“Not in the least. This way, I get to kill you both slowly.”
I gasped as I felt an invisible blade slicing open my cheek.
“What’s wrong with you?” I asked angrily, “I trusted you! Manara trusted you!”
I heard him sigh.
“She was so...conformist. When you talked about ‘changing things’ I thought you might be different...but here we are.”
“I am different!” I shot back, “And I thought you were too!”
“It’s too bad you got caught up in this.” He admitted, “You weren’t as blatantly stupid as everyone else. But you’re right – I am different. And to prove it to you, I’ll spare you.”
I started to try to get up but a foot pushed me back down.
“On one condition.” He continued, “Tell me everything about the Eunoe.”
I felt a blade against my neck.