I quickly heard the sounds of a scuffle and knew instinctively that Cupid was being seized by a pair of heavily-armed demons.
I walked out of the tent just in time to see him being hauled off, but in the place of the anger I expected to see on his face was confusion and pain.
His eyes met mine for a split-second, and he looked as though he had suffered the greatest betrayal of his life.
“Soldiers, Council, demons and she-demons,”
Lucifer was standing on a makeshift pedestal at the centre of the pentagram drawn onto the grass with chalk.
The air was heavy with rain. From my place on the perimeter of the pentagram I could see Cupid’s shape hunched in front of Lucifer.
“Today I present to you one accused of the greatest crime possible in our empire – I present to you one who has committed treason.”
There was a chorus of angry noises from the crowd but Lucifer held up a gloved hand.
“Silence! As the King of Hell, I will deliver the only punishment suitable for a traitor. Banishment to the depths of Tartarus!”
An inhuman cheer rose into the air, and I resisted the urge to cover my ears. Lucifer raised his hands and spread his skeletal wings, beginning to recite what sounded like some kind of chant in an unrecognizable language.
Cupid was small, pathetic, chained to the ground like an animal. His head was hanging, and I could see blood dripping every few seconds from his pale jaw into the grey grass.
Lucifer looked huge behind him, with his absurdly tall frame and his expansive ruins for wings.
My eyes were glued to Cupid. I just wanted one second of guilt on his face, or even triumph, something that would serve as irrefutable evidence in my mind that he was indeed the manipulative mastermind I had convinced myself he was.
The drizzle became a downpour.
I realized with a start that the pentagram was burning with black flames, licking hungrily at the air and unaffected by the rain thundering into the earth.
Cupid looked up, straight at me without so much as searching the crowd.
I tried not to notice the blood dripping from his mouth and nose, or the bruises convalescing like dark clouds on his skin.
I tried not to think about him fighting my nightmares, or taking a beating from Eversio. I tried not to think about the expression on his face as I branded him with the arrow, as he was dragged away from the tent.
His glacial eyes weren’t asking me for mercy or forgiveness. They were making a promise.
A promise of return.
The ground shuddered violently and I watched in remote horror as the ground opened beneath Cupid, and he fell, out of sight, without a sound, before the ground closed up again.