Aset paused before descending into the rolling beat and dangerous play of the real underworld, “What’s your name?” she asked the bouncer.
He looked at her while she studied him, he was tall with broad shoulders and heavily muscles, he had rich blond hair and reminded her of the Vikings that had roamed the earth at one point, she hadn’t paid much attention to them when they’d been around and they’d ignored her and her brother so it suited her fine.
Eventually he answered, “Rex.”
Aset smiled, “I like you, Rex, you’re not scared of me.”
Rex laughed again, “Ahh, there you’re wrong Lady, I’m just not stupid enough to show it,” he said with a charming smile.
Aset shrugged, “I still like you, all the same, it’s been a long time since someone’s found me funny,” she added absently before turning and following Von.
Aset paused on the last step into the basement floor, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Analysing as well as enjoying the smoke, the drugs, the drink, the sex and the sweat as bodies writhed on the dance floor to the heavy beat and rolling base that pummelled its way through the massive speakers that hung from the ceiling. A DJ controlled the music from within a cage, and opening her eyes and glancing at him Aset guessed that that was more for his own safety than anyone else’s. To her right was the bar, lit up from within the chest high counter and from behind the shelves upon shelves of bottles and glasses. People sat at the bar or at the tables further into the basement, tables which also turned into booths the further away from the dance floor you got.
Grinning, Aset saw two Fairies go the full mile with at least three others watching and helping. She let her eyes drift close as she raised her nose and drank in the elation and ecstasy that was rolling from their bodies. Having had her fill she returned her attention to the room again.
A raised dais sat off to her left, half hidden behind layer upon layer of plush fabric that had been draped to hide and conceal only what it needed to. There was power radiating from within it or perhaps behind it and it sparked Aset’s curiosity, her fingers brushing against her gun she set off through the crowds. Crowds which senses her approach and were otherworldly enough not to need to see her eyes to figure out what she was. Hisses of anger and displeasure followed her as people parted from her path, with such intense emotion running Aset smiled broadly. This was yet again one of those situations where she couldn’t be sure if she’d walk away and it pleased her, made her feel alive. The people around her shrank back even further as her fangs dropped within her mouth and became visible over her bottom lip, they were curved unlike a Vampire’s and slightly thicker but just as deadly when she wanted them to be.
She was vaguely aware of Von following her, calming the more violent of patrons as he went but following her all the same. She smirked as she wondered for whose safety that was actually for. Hers or JJ’s other customers?
When she got to the first wall of curtains she flicked them aside with power rather than touching them and managed to silence most of the growls that came from behind. Glancing back over her shoulder she grinned evilly at those closest before stepping up and disappearing within the folds of fabric. Almost immediately the nose level lowered but that ringing note of power remained.
A thin catwalk preceded her, leading up to a raised platform that held a chair that could only be called a throne. To either side of the catwalk the floor was lowered and filled to the brim with cushions, cushions that held Vampires, Shades, Fairies and Weres of differing races and power levels. Most were sating bloodlust or other lusts and the scent of that in the air made Aset shiver agreeably.
She glanced around, she was still hidden within the shadows and no one had noticed her yet, feeling oddly jealous. She remembered a time when she’d been as carefree and as open in scratching that inevitable itch. Humans, Demons, Weres, Vampires, Shades when she could find one willing, even Fairies – the race hadn’t mattered, they sated each other and then went their different ways. No strings, no attachments, no hearts lost or broken. One of the things she liked most about beings that weren’t human was the fact that they were completely open with their sexuality; boys, girls, it didn’t matter – you could have fun with both.
Aset felt the familiar pang of heartache that always followed when she went down this route and she clenched her eyes shut, refusing to picture his face or whisper his name. No one was supposed to steal her heart but he’d done a runner with hers and left it staked in fire when he was done with it. Her power escaped her and thrashed out like a beast against its cage with a sudden force that sent electricity through the dais and told everyone of her presence. Sighing Aset walked into the candle light, light that flooded from glass orbs hanging from the covered roof, and strode out along the catwalk; she’d never been able to resist a throne, after all she technically was one.
She felt the room hold its breath and she instantly knew she’d be doing something to irrevocably piss someone off if she went through with this. But she didn’t care; she was Isis, the Throne of Iah, God of the Moon, and she be damned if she wasn’t allowed to sit in a chair just because it belonged to someone else. When it came down to it they all, technically, belong to her anyway.
A Shade sitting close to the catwalk near the throne hissed violently and flinched away from her as she passed. Aset paused and glanced down at him, her lip curling; he was aligned with one of the branches of Shades that hated her and her brother, although it was a hatred inspired by fear.
“Who let her in? Simmons said we’d be safe in here, away from her kind,” the Shade spat at Von who was lingering at the entrance to the dais.
Aset rolled her eyes and settled upon the masterfully carved throne before answering the Shade, “Relax, I’m not here to kill anyone, unless they give me reason too, you’re perfectly safe,” she muttered sourly, as if she wished she hadn’t just given herself those rules.
“You’re a Demon, a Goddess at that,” the Shade snarled, “No one’s safe when your kind is around,” he said disgustedly and untangled himself from a naked Were girl before he flitted to the catwalk and stalked from the dais.
Shades were odd like that, they were more magic than anything else and had an affinity for nature and the elements unlike anything Aset had ever seen before, and she’d been around for a long time. She watched him go and understood his and his kinds’ fear, beings like her and her brother were the beings nature and the elements answered to. A Demon was one thing, almost as powerful as a Fallen – the race that had descended from the now extinct Angels – and a God or Goddess quite another but of a similar power level to Demons. Aset and her twin were half breed, sharing both Demon and Godlike lineage and qualities that put them at the very top of every food chain that ever existed. Fallen were a miniscule step behind but Aset had never met one to put the metaphysical theory to the test.
Aset’s eyes flashed in the flickering light and she rested an elbow on an arm of the throne before placing her chin on the upturned hand. It was always the same, always feared and hated wherever she went nowadays and without Iah, she was completely alone in suffering from it. She became unnaturally still, even for those in the room who could mimic something similar Aset took things to a whole other level when it came to sitting still, as she waited and slowly the underworld beings around her slowly relaxed and returned to their business.
It took a long time but eventually, the power source she’d sensed upon entering the basement came to her. She felt him enter the dais from behind the set of curtains behind her and she also felt him paused when her saw her legs crossed as she sat on his throne.
“You’re sitting in my throne,” he pointed out, his voice a deep baritone that sent unwilling shivers down Aset’s spine and drew an all but silent gasp from her lips before she could scold herself and take control.
She didn’t dignify his observation with a reply and waited for him to pace into her view. Once he had, the sight of him stole her breath away although this time she was able to conceal it and meet his own angry glare with a murderous one of her own.
He was tall, well over six foot, and powerfully built, muscles rippled with the slightest movement and Aset found it hard not to be distracted by it. He was bare chested, showing off a set of abs that most men, and women, would kill for and shoulders so wide it set her heart racing. He wore black leather trousers that rode low on his hips and Aset found her eyes trailing along the thin line of hair that ran from his navel to disappear into those trousers as she eyed him up and down. He was barefooted, she noted, and had slightly tanned skin, a shade or so lighter than her own. His face was perfect, even sculpted into a look of pure anger he was perfect, straight lines and chiselled features were framed by a mane of wild black hair that stopped short just before his shoulders. Aset suddenly had the ludicrous thought of running her hands through it to see if it felt as silky as it looked.
But what made a knowing, anticipating smile pull at her lips until she allowed it to show was the expanse of feathers, muscle and bone that stretched out from his shoulder blades and just below. He had the most gorgeous set of wings Aset had ever seen, all fourteen feet of them shivered and flexed in his anger, the light bouncing off their glossy texture and shining out deep navys and royal purples.
Fallen. She’d finally met a Fallen. Interesting, she hadn’t known that about Rousen.
“Technically, all thrones are mine,” she said softly before she met his gaze and lost herself in the swirling ebony pits of her eyes.
Rousen held her gaze for a moment, struggling not to fall into the trap of her silver eyes and finding himself slipping all the same. She was truly exquisite, the air around her screaming danger, predator and sex at the top of its lungs much like it did around him.
“Von,” he snarled, forcing himself to look over his shoulder at the Vampire lurking at the entrance to the dais, “Who is this bitch?”
The Demon Goddess surprised him by laughing quietly but he didn’t look back at her, not for the moment. Von shifted nervously, “Drake knows her, called her a few things; JJ called her Isis but Drake used Aset more than the Greek name. She’s after you, mate,” he added apologetically and then tactfully slipped from the dais and out of the firing zone.
Rousen turned back to the woman in his chair, she didn’t look more than twenty but if JJ was calling her Isis and Drake naming her by the Egyptian form Aset he knew she was ancient, even older than he, “Goddess of the Sun, the Moon’s Throne – I assure you Isis, while all other thrones may indeed technically belong to you, that one does not. Move.”
Aset rolled her eyes and jumped up so that she now sat crouched in the throne, “I’d ask you for the magic word but you probably know too many for your own good,” she replied, inwardly surprised that he hadn’t needed telling just exactly what her names meant her to be.
Rousen glared stormily at her, the air fizzing around him with the weight of his annoyance. Aset raised an eyebrow with the air of an attitude that matched one she’d hold as if she was scolding a two year old having a tantrum. The resulting effect made her grin evilly.
The Fallen strode over to the throne, placing his hands high up on the arm rests and forcing her back into the wood as he leaned over her. The scent of him, the danger that rolled of his skin like liquid ice and the overpowering sexual prowess that he carried around him like a cloak was intoxicating and Aset took a moment to simply inhale him, even while actual sparks filled the air where their powers touched and repelled, “Move. Now,” he ordered but he stopped short of actually manhandling her. He was also intoxicated by her scent, he’d never been this close to a Demon Goddess, never actually met one before but he knew her by reputation and had spoken to her brother once or twice.
Aset looked confidently into his ebony eyes and grinned, showing fang that gave him a hard on just by thinking of what they could do to him, “Bite. Me,” she breathed slowly.
Rousen inhaled sharply at the effect those words had on both his imagination and his body, he lent closer, his own fangs dropping and showing. Excitement raced through her eyes as he came so close their lips almost touched and then,
“Back off, Rousen, you do not, under any circumstances, want to take her up on that,” Drake yelled from the entrance to the dais.
Aset rolled her eyes and looked almost sullen, Rousen raised an eyebrow at her but stayed where he was, his voice carrying across the room without needing the help of volume, “And why not Drake? I’m sure I could handle her,” he pointed out and smiled slightly as Aset’s gaze flashed back up to him as she ran her tongue over her bottom lip in anticipation before biting it slightly.
“Rousen,” Drake barked, “She has enough power to geld you where you stand, you idiot, and she’s grieving,” he added.
At that Aset really did look sullen, the excitement fleeing from her eyes and was replaced with bitter pain as her jaw clenched. She dropped her gaze from Rousen’s and he let her push him away, she steadily ignored the feel of his warm skin against her palms. It’d been so long since someone had felt warm to her, they usually didn’t hold enough power to registered anything but cold against her body.
“Right now, Drako, you’re higher up on my list of things to geld than Rousen is,” she pointed out.
Drake was striding towards the pair of them and ignored her degrading nickname for him, “You owe me an explanation, and you are grieving Aset, you said yourself you’re in constant search of a high that makes you feel alive; playing with anything at the moment is not going to be good for you,” he scolded.
Aset glared pure murder at him, “What gives you the right to govern over me, Drake?” she shouted, moving to stand in front of the throne, “You’re not my brother, or my Father, nor anything remotely related.”
Drake’s fists bunched and Rousen marvelled at the way the Vampire was handling this young woman – he didn’t even appear scared when he knew full well that Aset had the power to blast him from the face of the earth.
“No,” Drake conceded, “But I helped Iah pick up the pieces of your broken heart the last time you got mixed up with something you decided to play with after you lost another of your pantheon,” he pointed out, “I don’t want to have to do that again; it took a good three hundred years before you were right again, after Dixon.”
Aset screamed at the sound of that name and moved with a speed even Rousen had trouble following. She backhanded Drake with such a force that he fell to the floor, “I warned you never to even think his name in front of me,” she snarled viciously before she flew from the room and vanished to all current appearances but Rousen noticed the slight flutter in the curtains that he’d entered through only minutes before.
Rousen folded his arms over his chest, watching Drake as he sighed and heaved himself to his feet, “Who’s Dixon?” he asked when the Vampire was stable on two legs.
Drake sighed heavily again, “She normally just fucks them, once, twice, any number of times and then leaves them. She doesn’t even normally tell them exactly what she is, leaves it up to them to make their own assumptions. Iah is ... was the same,” Rousen picked up on the changing of tenses but he didn’t question it for the moment, “But Dixon, Dixon came along at the wrong time and she got attached to him. He was a nasty little Demon who ripped her heart from her chest, literally, and then stood over her, laughing while he made it pulse in his hand. He then ran off with it just as Aset was building up enough power to kill him. Fuck knows why she didn’t die but she survived, got her heart back and Iah and I had to help her pick up the pieces. She’s never trusted anyone since, not really even Iah, definitely not me.”
Rousen heard the note of sadness in his voice every time he mentioned the Demon God, “Drake, what aren’t you telling me?”
Drake looked up, surprised that Rousen hadn’t just picked it out from his head, his eyes grew haunted as he replied, “It takes a helluva lot to kill a Demon God,” he pointed out needlessly, “Iah was murdered three weeks ago, his last words to Aset were your name and the name of this club. I was supposed to be guarding his back but JJ ordered my return and Iah cleared it,” he added his tone telling Rousen that he was trying to convince himself of his own innocence in the matter and Rousen, having seen enough of Aset to guess, predicted Aset was in a pretty foul mood with Drake.
Rousen placed a hand on the Vampire’s shoulder, “Would she allow me to be present while she gives you that explanation?” he wondered out loud.
Drake inhaled and exhaled deeply, he moved a hand to rub idly at the rapidly spreading red graze on his cheek, “Only one way to find out,” he said miserably and headed for the secret door at the back of the dais, Rousen followed after he took the memory of all that had happened from the minds of those on the dais’ floor.
Behind the curtain Aset found herself in a dark tunnel with five steps that led downwards. Not even bothering to scout ahead with magic, she flew down the passageway for a good five hundred meters and figured that the tunnel led into the building next to the one the club was actually situated in.
Flickering light came and signalled the end of the tunnel then after scaling another few steps Aset found herself in a huge basement room. Her eyes grew wide as she paused to take the room in, it was about the same size as the underground room next door and was lit with thousands of candles that sat on every available surface, even the floor. The ceiling was flooded with curtains of rich blues and purples and they were attached to the walls and hung as drapes. Aset momentarily wondered how the drapes managed to flutter in a nonexistent wind and not catch a light on the candles. Dismissing the thought she turned back to the room.
The carpet was a dark red and even through her boots she could tell it was thick and soft, now she knew why Rousen was barefooted. There was a roaring fire in the black marble fireplace on her left, around that were a number of large leather easy chairs and a small coffee table, and directly in front of her was a huge oak table with an elaborate silver centre piece and fourteen chairs sitting around it. Then to her right was a raised platform the size of four double beds, it was covered, like the lowered area in the dais, with large cushions and soft fabrics.
Aset stepped further into the room and inhaled the rich scent of power, mixed with Rousen’s own unique aroma and blood and sex that rode the air and settled comfortably around the room. She sighed and carried on into the room, she headed for the black leather chair in front of the fire and ran her hand across the top of the back before using power to enable her to slip out of her boots and then sliding over the arm to sit in it sideways, with her legs lolling over the arm. Settling back against the other arm she reluctantly let her eyelids flutter closed, she hadn’t Slept in a long while and it was catching up with her. She couldn’t see the door from where she sat but she laced a thread of power over the doorway while she enjoyed the warmth that radiated from the fire.
Perhaps Drake had been right, perhaps it wasn’t sensible to start anything with Rousen while she was still grieving for Iah. She may not like Drake ordering her around or deliberately pointing out the danger in things she was ignoring but he had been there for her in the aftermath of Dixon. Like it or not he was just about the last person she had in the world, and one of the only ones who’d live as long as she would to see the world out. He’d been wrong in what he’d told Rousen as she left, she’d never stopped trusting either him or Iah; she’d stopped trusting herself, and that was a different matter entirely.
She groaned and hit her head against the leather arm, “Bugger,” she hissed quietly, she hated admitting she was wrong and apologies rarely fell from her lips but she knew she owed Drake one. She’d even called him Draco, a name he despised almost as much as dragons themselves – although he’d never told her the reason why.
Aset leaped to her feet as Drake and Rousen stepped through her power web, ignoring the immediate sense of dizziness and drowsiness that made her unsteady on her feet, she scowled at Rousen as he stepped forwards as if to help her. Rousen backed off with an amused smirk as she righted herself, he shook his head idly and walked past her further into the room to lean up against the table, his wings tucked neatly up behind him.
The pair grinned at each other sheepishly, “Look, Drake, I ... I’m sorry,” Aset said at length, “I ... I shouldn’t have hit you, you didn’t deserve that,” she said slowly, dropping her eyes and wringing her hands almost nervously, “And,” she paused and sighed heavily, running a hand through her thick black hair and pushing it away from her face, “You may have been right about being careful with me heart as well,” she added very quietly, refusing to turn around to see how Rousen was reacting to this.
Drake stared at her, mouth almost falling open, “Who are you and what have you done with Aset?” he asked hoarsely.
Aset’s eyes shot back to Drake’s face, narrowing them into a glare, “You’re not funny, Drake,” she said in a tone almost a snarl, “I was trying to apologise.”
Drake sobered and looked at her fondly, “I know Assy, I know, sorry,” Aset growled at him playfully and then turned away to slouch back into the leather chair.
“Anyway,” Drake started, shooting a glance at Rousen who was watching Aset avidly as she wearily rubbed her eyes, “How about this explanation? You okay with Rousen being here?” he asked, edging his way over to one of the free chairs.
At the mention of Rousen staying Aset’s eyes had snapped open and she met his curious gaze with a hostile one of her own, her brow creased and she tried to understand the look in his eyes but she couldn’t decipher anything from those inky black swirls. Then suddenly she dropped her gaze to the floor at his feet, and then sharply away to the left. Reluctantly she nodded and closed her eyes, allowing her head to fall back against the arm of the chair.
“Yeah, whatever,” she said bluntly but didn’t make any apparent move to start the story.
“Aset,” Drake nudged quietly, drawing a long sigh from her but she began talking. Her voice was quiet and tinted with pain but she began from the top.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time here, in this realm, but Iah and I always had an open connection we shared wherever we were. We hadn’t spoken directly for a few days, that’s why I didn’t know about you not being with him, and I had my own ... issues to be dealing with,” her eyes flashed open just as Drake opened his mouth and her lip curling angrily, “And no I wasn’t ‘playing’ with anything or anyone,” she sighed and closed her eyes again, “Those issues were .. something else,” she said but didn’t elaborate, her hands suddenly clenched into powerful little fists and she pressed them into her eyes, “I was so dammed scared, Drake,” she whispered hoarsely, “Part of our being twins, God and Demon born twins, is that we share emotions and feelings but fuck,” she drew a breath that caught in her throat as she remembered the pain she’d felt radiating from Iah that night, “I’ve never felt anything like it, I lost control of everything, power, movement, speech. There was nothing but this mind blowing pain that incapacitated everything else,” she paused, pressing her fists even harder into her eyes and almost gasping for breath but then she continued, “It’s a reflex I have no control over, to move to Iah’s side no matter where he is when something like that hits. I’m sure he was trying to do the same bu—“ she broke off and the candles in her close proximity flared violently before dimming back down to a normal flame. Aset moaned as she drew breath, “They’d pinned him to the wall in our temple, behind my throne with three Godblades. One through his heart, one through his hands above his head and one through his crossed over ankles,” she hissed in pain and the candles flared accordingly, “Fuck knows what they did to him before that, he only had time to tell me to find Rousen before he died and then Anubis took him,” she launched herself to her feet and paced rapidly up and down the room swearing in ancient Egyptian, her voice so laced with threads of power the room shook around her.
“Godblades?” Drake asked, not familiar with the term.
Rousen glanced at the Vampire, surprised he didn’t know of the blades seeing as he was supposed to have been guarding Iah – there was another question, why had he been guarding Iah? Did he even know?, “Blades forged from power, there one of the only things able to take the life of a Demon God or Fallen,” he explained, his eyes flashing over to the still pacing Goddess, “They’re said to have been destroyed,” he pointed out quietly.
Aset turned on him, dropping her hands and she literally flew towards him, “TELL IAH THAT!” she yelled, her voice cracking and then before she could reach him she swayed and stumbled. Her legs giving out from underneath her as the overwhelming need for Sleep reached her.
Rousen moved quicker than she’d suspected he could and caught her safely, lifting her up into his strong arms and against his warm, bare chest before Drake had even reacted. She moaned and complained in a weak voice but Rousen ignored her.
“What’s wrong with her?” Rousen asked Drake who was frowning intently at Aset as he crossed the room to place a hand on her forehead, he reached out with his limited power and scowled at her.
“How long have you gone without Sleep, Aset?” he demanded, Aset moaned again and turned away from Drake, pressing her face against the wall of muscle that was Rousen, “Aset,” Drake said again, his tone unforgiving.
“Since that night,” Aset answered weakly.
“Fuck, girl!” Drake exclaimed, “Three whole weeks? You’ve fended off Sleep for three fucking weeks?” he demanded.
Aset scowled against Rousen’s chest, not bothering to answer.
“I know she has fangs and a thirst for blood, like most Demons and Vampires, I’m guessing that for her Sleep is like that for a NightStalker?” Rousen guessed.
Drake nodded tersely, he was still scowling at Aset’s form, “Where are you staying, Aset? We need to get you safe so you can Sleep.”
Aset shrugged pathetically, “Anywhere, nowhere,” she mumbled, her teeth rasping against Rousen’s chest, her breath skating across his skin made him hard but he pressed the desire down before Drake could notice it.
“On the streets? Again? Hell, girl, you know that ain’t good for you,” Drake snapped impatiently and Aset cringed away from him as if his voice hurt her ears, the reaction inspired a series of swearwords from Drake, “She need to be safe before she Sleeps, she becomes dead to the world,” a hint of panic inserted itself in his voice.
“Drake,” Rousen said soothingly, “I’ll take her to my place, I was headed that way anyway,” Rousen shook his head gently at Drake when he opened his mouth to protest, “I’ll watch over her, you still have your shift to do and don’t panic; Heidi and Feodore are already at the house and Rex’ll be along after his shift. We’ll keep her safe,” he soothed and waited for Drake to give him a terse nod before swiftly heading through a parting in the drapes along the walls that Aset hadn’t noticed. It lead to a wide stair case and then out onto a wide balcony and before Aset could gauge what Rousen was going to do he’d thrown out his beautiful wings and launched them into the night sky.