“You’re out of your mind.” Liem huffed in exasperation. There was a hunch of defeat in his shoulders as he stepped toward the door.
Ky watched him impassively. Liem paused in the doorway and opened his mouth to try a final time to stop what was about to happen. He remained silent once he looked down at Master Tobias’s crumpled form. Tobias was practically on top of Fido where he fell, the sorcerer’s breath shallow and weak. The wolf demon snarled even though he was too wounded to move.
Fido’s eyes glowed the same otherworldly blue as Ky… No, Brave’s eyes.
Ky owned the wolf demon. He claimed Brave far more completely than Liem or Tobias ever could. He named the demon, and Liem knew without a shadow of a doubt Brave would be glad to have a master like Ky.
“This isn’t right.” Liem didn’t attempt to convince. Tobias proved weak and by some twist of fate, Ky, the idiot he thought would crumble and run at just the threat of Fido’s teeth, was untouchable. Brave didn’t bother looking at him; Liem was as invisible to the demon as the Relics normally were to people.
Ky stared him down and waited until Liem finally left. Once he was out the door, Ky stepped over and listened to Liem’s footsteps fade down the long corridor. He looked out into the warmly lit hallway. Did he want to leave? Did he really want to stay and see what would surely happen next?
Ky thought of Lovely, his cat prince, his beautiful, damn near perfect Relic. His long white hair and pale limbs would have been stained in Tobias’s blood by now. Lovely would have led the charge and knocked the master sorcerer out. He would have sliced his throat with ease instead of leaving things up to a selfish sorcerer apprentice.
Lovely was home, and Ky was beginning to realize how good he was at clinging to the catboy instead of dealing with the things he was supposed to deal with. He came there for Brave, and Tobias tried to kill the Relic right in front of him. He would have if Liem hadn’t acted. Ky froze and just watched the demon trainer attack Brave. Tobias killed Relics before, taught Liem to do the same, and he just stood there and watched. No, Lovely wasn’t there, and Ky had to do what needed to be done.
Ky shut the door and made sure it clicked tight. He turned and met the four sets of eyes glowing the same color of Magnificent Night’s. He could feel their desire like a weight, a demand inside of him. It was stronger than anything Ky could have ever raised on his own. He couldn’t deny the Relics their wish for death and knew he had no right to interfere.
Ky stepped around Tobias’s bleeding form where Nightshade, Brave, and Roar glared down. He kept his gaze fixed on the fox demon who was chained and struggling to get free. Ky pressed a soothing hand to his arm. Blood stilled at his touch and let him unbuckle the leather bracer from his left wrist. The Relic was still too new to know their language, but Ky spoke in hope he would understand through their link. “You won’t be tied like this again. I won’t own you, Blood. No one will hurt you.” He fell silent when the demon’s freed hand cupped his face.
Ky unbuckled Blood’s other arm and held still when the fox demon pulled him close and lips slid hot over his. He let his lashes flutter shut and tried to block out the snap of bone behind him. Loud growls rose up and echoed off the stone walls. Blood kissed him hard and deep to intentionally block Ky’s view of what the others were doing.
“It’s okay.” Ky gently turned his head and broke the kiss. He should look. It wasn’t right to hide from what he was allowing to happen. It was his fault, and he should watch.
*Hush*. Blood pressed his forehead to his, and Ky couldn’t find the will to pull away and look. Instead, he let Blood hold him in place as he flinched with every sound of torn clothing and wet slice of flesh. Ky hissed and his eyes closed tight when he heard a sound so reminiscent of Demencious eating a dog, he could almost feel the wicked creature at his back with sharp talons clicking on the floor. Ky’s jaw felt like it was going to break. His neck and shoulders were tight, and his nerves jolted at each noise that reached his straining ear.
Ky jumped and gasped when a phone rang. Blood reared back to stare down at his pile of clothing on the floor. “It’s okay,” Ky said hoarsely. He stepped over, fished through the clothes, and pulled his cell phone free. It was his father, and after a long second of uncertainty, Ky pressed the accept button.
“What?” Ky’s voice was surprisingly steady, if not a bit rough.
“It’s after midnight.” Marcus was curt, but there was a tiredness to his tone Ky wasn’t expecting.
“The time got away from me.” The lie came out easily, a marked difference from the last time he’d spoken with his parents on the phone. Ky’s gaze slowly strayed from his pile of clothes to where Brave was lying on the floor. The wolf demon was in a new spot and blood coated his clawed hands. Tobias’s master collar sat in a heap of blood on the floor. Nightshade pushed the sorcerer’s ribs apart with an ease of strength that looked beyond the slender cat demon’s capability. It wasn’t. Relics weren’t weak little slaves created to serve even weaker humans. They were warriors who battled every day in a dangerous world to survive. They had families, culture, language, and like anything else that breathed, they didn’t want to be chained.
“If you’re in some sort of trouble… You know you can talk to me, Ky. Whatever it is.” His father’s voice floated to his ear, Marcus hesitant in the silence.
It wasn’t true, was it? His dad wouldn’t even listen to him about simple things when it came to demons. He sure as fuck wouldn’t listen about this.
Ky blinked, and his gaze focused on Roar, who hollowed out Tobias’s torso with quick, efficient tugs. Crimson coated the horned demon’s powerful, scarred forearms and dripped down onto his bare thighs. He pressed a piece of liver to Brave’s bruised lips and urged the injured demon to eat. The fox demon joined them, and Blood did the same of Tobias’s heart. He picked through the sorcerer’s cavity in a fashion nearly ritualistic.
“I’m fine,” Ky finally spoke, his voice steady as he cut off Marcus’s concern. “I’ll be home when I’m done.”
Marcus waited and silence stretched between them. Ky had no interest in telling his father where he was or why he wasn’t coming home, and he had no guilt left in him to be compelled. “Ky, I just want to…”
“I’m busy, dad. I’ll be home later.” Ky quieted and turned back when he felt Brave’s condition change. The wolf demon could support himself on his forearms now. With trembling, blood-slick hands, Brave reached for the heavy collar around his throat. The magic that kept it bound to him was gone with the death of his master. The leather unwound, and Brave made a noise between a sob and a growl as he threw it across the room and nearly collapsed from the effort.
“I’ll leave the porch light on.” Marcus sounded defiant and defeated all at once when he hung up.
Ky dropped his cell phone on top of his shirt and met Roar’s piercing gaze. The horned demon held up his cupped hand; small, bite-sized pieces of red flesh floated in his large palm. Ky approached and stepped carefully around Brave’s legs and the pool of blood slick on the floor. Spots of crimson stuck to the flat of his bare feet and made each movement tacky.
*Magic is held here.* Roar pointed to each piece of flesh, and finished with his thumb pressed to the morsel of heart. *Magic he stole from us, magic that made him. It should not be wasted. This one will nourish.* He pointed to another piece, a dark organ Ky didn’t recognize when torn to the small size. *This one will poison. Each death must be carried inside.* Roar flicked the poisonous meat aside and held his palm up in offering.
There wasn’t any point trying to explain this to his father. Even if Marcus did come down and see the demons spelled to be visible, what difference would it really make? His father chose to believe he was lying instead of facing the truth. Ky knew now he didn’t need his parents anymore. There was nothing left they could protect him from.