‹ Prequel: Ethereal

Purgatorial

Chapter 29 - Wayward Son

Cam's POV

Coming back to the motel after that onslaught of dirty secrets and spell-breaking felt great. If only Nina and Phillip hadn't stayed behind, at the Coven's headquarters, I'd throw a party. The way things were looking… maybe an End of the World Party? Shit. I gripped my head, sighing. I still couldn't wrap my head around my mother having been a Vampire for over a year or that there was a cure. I needed to call V and tell her to get her ass down here, catch the first plane to New Orleans. Vanessa could be human again and I wouldn't need to feel guilty anymore, she could have her life back.

First though, I needed to tell Serena about what Phillip was going to be put through. They hadn't specified what sort of pain a Vampire went through before the virus was eradicated, but I could read the unspoken "a truckload of hell and then some". So, I was going to drive Serena to the Coven's mansion and bring Nina and the Sacred Word to Din.

I sighed, leaning against the mustang. The sky was cloudy and the air was charged. I could feel the incoming storm from miles away. It was going to be all thunder and no rain. A dry storm. My head whipped at the sound of a door softly closing. My eyebrows puckered at the shady form slinking around the motel, going for the tree's edge. I knew that shape. I'd worn that body for weeks. Plus, I could smell his newly turned human blood. What was Lucifer up to? Michael's words hit me like a ton of bricks: But I know you, brother, you'll do something on the sidelines that could get everyone else killed as long as you get what you want, as usual.

I bolted after the guy. For some reason, Nina thought she could trust him—even seemed to like him—and it pissed me the fuck off. How could she ever trust or forgive this motherfucking bastard? After everything he'd done to Phillip—to me—to her? I gritted against the images floating in my brain. Of them alone. My Power gave a kick against my veins and arteries, asking, want me to kill him? Oh, yes. Part of me wanted to off my not-so-dear uncle. No, I sated my Power, feeling it purr nonetheless. I edged closer to Lucifer, watching my step like a predator. It was pitch-black around here and he wasn't using a light to watch where he was going. Human senses weren't good for traipsing in the dark. I smirked from the shadows. My eyes were better than a cat's.

I flinched at the sudden blue light, throwing an arm over my eyes. With slit eyes, I watched Lucifer approach a Portal in the middle of nowhere. What the hell? Portals didn't just pop up out of the blue. He didn't stop walking. And… there was something off. The way he kept walking wasn't his usual regal, shoulders wide poise. His back was slightly arched, arms dangling with every step, like he was sleepwalking?

Throwing stealth out the window, I was standing between him and the precious Portal he seemed so hung up on.

"A little late for a midnight stroll, don't you think? Especially for a human." No answer. Lucifer's face was blank. Like I wasn't even here. and I knew my presence usually got a reaction out of him. Like annoyance. Or he'd smile like a condescending jackass. "Hello? Anyone home?" I said, grabbing his arm when he tried pushing past me to get to the blue-white light pulsing behind me. I waved a hand right in front of his eyes. Guy didn't so much as blink.

Maybe I should just let him go through the Portal. Maybe we'd never see him again. A humorless chuckle left me. Like that would ever happen. It was problem after problem with this guy. I tugged him back from the Portal. Something was seriously wrong with him and a nagging feeling told me this was Cain's doing. Lucifer jerked, getting my fingers to slip from his shoulder. I lunged for him, we tumbled on the grass, Lucifer squirming under me—reaching for the Portal. He kicked me in the stomach and then on my… I almost bit my tongue, hands cupping myself. Fuck. That hurt. Fuck. Growling low in my throat, I grabbed his ankle. His fingers were already dipping inside the Portal and it pulled him in. Before I knew it, my arm plunged into it, too.

***

If I ever tried to do something selfless—something not for Phillip or Nina—someone should cut off my head. Or my balls. Because I was knee deep in shit about now. Opening my eyes, I groaned. Massive headache? Check. Argh, Portal travelling was my least favorite form of traveling. it got worse, though. A blond man was standing above me wearing a grin that made me want to throw him into a shark tank and eat popcorn while they tore him apart, limb by limb.

"Looks like we got ourselves a hitchhiker. I'd prefer that sexy girlfriend of yours, but you'll be more durable for our entertainment. And I'm sure Cain will like to see you—for some reason he's obsessed." Azazel, I thought bitterly. I knew his face from when he'd gone into my mind and told me about Jade. Where the heck was I? "Cat caught your tongue, Nephilim? You weren't this quiet last time."

I was on the ground. It was hard and cold. It looked like a concrete building. I could feel my Power brewing. I almost sighed with relief. No Golden Chains or Golden Bangles. I focused on Azazel's face and saw his eye shine. A little smile spread as he stepped away, proudly displaying what was behind him. My body jolted. I was sitting and then kneeling, jaw muscles working against tension. I'd seen most of these torture devices in my history books and documentaries. Nothing really new. But there was someone—a very dead person—tied to a wheel, arms and legs twisted into knots. Bone was poking out. A saw was tossed on the ground with blood and guts attached to it.

"Where is he?" I hissed, tearing my eyes from the sight.

"Who might you be referring to?"

I could feel Azazel's Power hissing around my head, trying to break my barriers.

"Lucifer. You brought him here, didn't you?"

"Brought him here? And how do you suppose I did that, hmm? Last time I checked, my ability consisted of trapping someone in their own mind and… playing with them. I'll throw you a bone. Cain wanted Lucifer brought here. True. But I wasn't the one who guided him to that lovely Portal. No, that honor belongs to Sandalphon. Have you heard of her? No? Pity. She did some amazing work in the Pits. She loves to play with Cain, it was no surprise when they came together."

Someone who played with Cain? Just bloody awesome. Wagging a finger when I tried to get up, Azazel laughed.

"Are you so worried about your uncle that you'll leave before Sandalphon arrives? She won't like it. She's been waiting for you to wake up, little boy."

"I don't give a crap about Lucifer, but I won't let Cain sacrifice his and Etna's soul so he can get immortality." I saw a flicker of surprise cross the Fallen's face. Ah, so the info we'd gotten from Gavin checked out. By uniting and consuming a pair of Twin Flames Cain could achieve immortality. I launched myself at him, speed of light and all. He crashed into the concrete wall behind, shaking the whole room. "Enough talking. You got in my head last time because I didn't know what to expect, but not this time." I slammed a fist straight into his nose. The wet crunch laced with Azazel's pained yell made my Power simmer for more. I wrapped a hand around the Fallen's throat, holding him to the wall and off his feet. "Where are they?"

Azazel's vertical iris shrunk against the pain. His green eyes flared with Power pushing it my way, I could feel it settle like thick fog around me. My Power pushed against it easily, stabbing at his viciously. Blood poured down his lips and chin. I'd destroyed his nose. He looked like a snake.

"Do you think… there's no one else here? You'll be killed."

"No, I'll be doing the killing. Now, I won't ask a third time, Fallen. Where is Etna and Lucifer?"

I hovered a hand above his chest, just like Cain did days ago. Before he plunged his hand into my chest. Azazel debated, still forcing Power to infiltrate my mind. I scoffed.

"…your uncle and that Nephilim… bitch… are with Sandalphon." My thumb pressed deeper into his Adam's Apple. He choked on a swallow, sneering. "Do you think… I'll tell you where… they are? You'll kill me." Damn, there went my evil master plan. "…why would you want… to save Lucifer? I was there… when your brother got brought in—to Hell. He wasn't merciful. He let Phillip be tortured… made him fight for his life in the Games…"

I shoved my hand in. I grabbed his heart quick as lightning, ripping it out like plucking a ripe orange from a tree. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. It tumbled to the cold ground with a mute thud. I wiped my hand on Azazel's jeans before tossing the gaping idiot aside. At least now I knew Etna and Lucifer were together. I expanded my hearing and sense of smell. I could hear footfalls in the whole building, couldn't even count how many. I cracked my eyes open, breaking concentration and headed for the door. Lit concrete halls. Great. I loved bland. Only not. Keeping an ear out for Etna's voice and Lucifer's I took a left. Following the biggest flux of Power I felt. Bigger flux meant lots of baddies. I could tell because the flux was made of a mix of Power, they had different signatures to them.

I glued myself to a wall when my Power reared its head, hissing. Trouble just around the corner. I listened closely… Three heartbeats. Okay. Time for new tricks, my lips quirked into a dark smile. I could feel electricity pulsing inside their bodies. I'd never allowed myself to go this deep before, always afraid of what could happen—because of Dad. Not anymore, not since the Cube. I reached for more and more, channeling it forward. My Power split into tendrils thin as needles, flowing into their bodies. Heartbeats were controlled through electric pulses. What I needed to do was cut off that electric cycle, stopping the heart from pumping. And that's what I did. They jerked forward, swaying, before dropping flat on their faces. I advanced on them—bringing my foot down on one's neck, smashing the bones and punt kicking her head off her shoulders. One decapitated, two to go. I ripped their hearts out and moved on. Strong Power kept pulling me along the hall, making me turn right. Heh, all these looked the same. Ten minutes later, my t-shirt, arms and jeans were covered in blood. I'd ran into two Vampires and let's just say they didn't want to go gently. They'd gotten a couple of bites in, fucking bastards, I thought glaring down at the healed wound on my forearm. It was still pink as hell.

The stench of blood got me before the ripple of Power. I was halfway inside the room before I realized it was empty except for the walls. They were lined with Golden Chains. I rushed for the blond leaning heavily against the wall. Etna looked worse than when she'd woken up from her centuries long nap. Blood streaked from her left temple, down the side of her face. Looked like a flesh wound, though. Her legs were another story. Several stabbing wounds ran down her thighs… My eyes drifted to her right hand. She was holding a bloody knife. I drew a breath. Had she done this to herself?

"Etna?" I tried. Gently, I touched her shoulder. The only remaining Nephilim—besides me—jolted with a wince, gray eyes wide with fear. "It's me—Cameron. Remember me? I'm…"

"Lucas' nephew…" she croaked. Huh. Actually, I was going to say Nina's boyfriend. But whatever calmed her down. Her features morphed from fear to worry. "No. What... What are you doing here? Did Cain… You have to go now!" she whispered grabbing my hand. "If he catches you, he'll—"

"Relax," I said. "Azazel told me Cain isn't here and Azazel's been taken care of, so no need to worry about him. I dispatched a couple of lapdogs prowling the halls, but the place's crawling with heartbeats and Power signatures. I need to find us a way out." I was darting all over the room while explaining myself, looking for a triangle key to set Etna free. No matter how powerful, I couldn't break those Chains.

"She took them with her," Etna's voice floated from where she was slumped and I ended up kneeling next to her. "Sandalphon," she whispered seeing the question in my eyes. Etna's back straightened like she'd been pumped with an adrenaline shot. "Lucas. Was he… I saw him… Was it real? Is he here?"

"Yeah. Somehow this Sandalphon got him to walk through a portal and I ended up here because I'm an idiot." I huffed. "Any idea where Sandalphon is?"

"She… came in and Lucas was with her. He was not himself. His eyes were void… She has a hold on him, Cameron. Sandalphon she can make people do whatever she desires, turning them into her own puppets." She spat, face twisting in disgust. "But I do not understand, I mean… Lucas should be strong enough to resist her."

Oh. She didn't know. I checked myself before letting the big reveal out. Etna meant something to Nina and I'd already screwed up enough between us.

"About that," I began. "Lucifer's changed. He… Cain summoned him—"

"That's why he needed his real name." I nodded.

"Right. When Lucifer was caught in the circle they fought and he lost. Cain ended up stealing Lucifer's Power. He's human now."

"He…" she stopped. "He is… human? Oh my…" Yeah, shocker. Join the club. "I did not know a spell like that was possible. My God." Etna closed her eyes regaining her composure. After taking a long breath, gray storms opened for me. "Cameron, I know you do not like him and I understand why, but please… Will you help him? I cannot leave without him."

"No offense, but I don't have a choice. Cain needs you two for a ritual. It's because your Twin Flames and joining your souls will create an everlasting generator for his soul to feed off, which pretty much makes him immortal and lets him harbor as much Power as he wants. And do limitless Magic." I passed on what Gavin told us. I waited for her to ask how Cain knew about them being Twin Flames. But she never did. "Did Sandalphon say anything about where she was…"

Another Power broke into the nauseating room. Hairs on the back of my neck stood. I turned and stopped. What the hell was a ten-year-old doing here? She was beautiful. The kind of beauty people expected Cherubs to have. Shit, could this be… Yep. This was freaking Sandalphon. How did I know? Because my Devil-turned-human uncle was behind her, looking haggard and void. His eyes looked creepy. Big and vacant like a soulless doll.

"Hi," the little Fallen cocked her head, smiling. "Have you come to play with me, too?" I missed the days when all I needed to worry about were Demons and Raphael coming to visit us with more "requests". Cursing under my breath, I got to my feet. "I'm Sandalphon, what's your name?"

"Cameron," I answered. "What kind of game do you have in mind?" I was good with kids. I could manipulate them into going from sad to happy in a finger snap. But Sandalphon wasn't a child, despite the creepy rosy cheeks and pigtails. She was a freaking Fallen exuding a big Power wave.

Sandalphon smiled with glee, taking several steps forward until she planted herself three feet from me. Hiding a grimace, I stood tall, smiling ruefully like I did with Nina's little brother.

"You look familiar. Have we met before? I'm not good with names…" she pouted, seemingly angry at bad memory.

"No, we haven't." I chanced a glance at Lucifer. He'd followed her inside, but still hadn't said a word or looked at Etna, whose breath kept hitching at the sight. "So," I crouched at her level. "There's something I need to do, Sandalphon. It's very important and I can't play with you until I get it over with." My smile slipped.

She cocked her head, "Aw. Can I help? I want someone new to play with! And I really like what you did in the halls. It was so raw and pretty." Okay. This kid was seriously making me question my possible fatherhood.

Caging a weary breath, I kept the charade going strong.

"You thought so? I was bored."

"It was awesome! You're strong," she stated, nodding enthusiastically. "But… This is Cain's place. Do you know him? I really like when he plays with me. He calls us a golden-duo." Her eyes sharpened and Sandalphon came closer, brown irises widening. I almost couldn't see the white of her eyes. "I remember now! Cain talked about a Cameron. It has to be you. Wow, no wonder he's so obsessed with you. He doesn't feel things like normal people, you know, so anything he likes he obsesses over." A slow smile spread across her young face making my throat go dry. "But he always gets what he wants in the end. Is that why you're here?"

To give myself over to a psychopath who'd orchestrated my parents' deaths and massacred Nina's entire family? Not a snowball's chance in hell. Plus, I was so not going to dwell on what Cain being super-duper obsessed with me meant…

"That's something I have to talk over with Cain when he gets here. Okay?" I lied.

Sandalphon might be older than me a thousand times over, but she threw her arms out, excited, and jumped forward grabbing my elbow. It took a small miracle for me not to flinch.

"We can play now?"

Sandalphon was close enough for my eye to catch a glint of gold. One triangle key coming right up. One hand dove in to snatch the key and my other hand aimed for her chest. I tried not to think about her looks. She wasn't an innocent kid. She was a Fallen. She took pleasure in hurting people the same way Cain did. My fingers wrapped around the key and my hand… Crap. My hands stopped moving. Sandalphon's Power was breathing down my neck like a famished wolf, desperate to dig its teeth in.

"That's naughty, Cameron. Didn't your parents teach you stealing is wrong?" Sandalphon's voice was sharp now. No giggles and smileys. "You're here for Lucifer and Etna. Well, I can't let you have them. Cain needs them or he'll die. Now, be a good boy and drop your hands." My muscles fought against my brain's order. I could feel myself being pulled under something thick and constricting—like a straightjacket. It was her ability. Making me surrender my body as her plaything. "Resisting. Hum. Looks like I'll have to focus all on you…"

A gasp sounded throughout the room. It was Lucifer. He stumbled back before his gray eyes caught Etna. Etna was looking somewhere else. Had to be, because my dear uncle's eyes slid to me.

"Sandalphon," he gritted. "His Power is greater than yours. You're wasting your time."

Sandalphon's face reddened with effort. I clenched my jaw, pushing against her Power.

I worked my mouth, "Get… the… key…" it was a whisper. Barely there. Hoped Lucifer could read lips.

He moved fast for a human. Sandalphon was solely focused on me, giving Lucifer time to steal the key and run to where Etna was. My head bent, sweat built along my hairline, dripping to the floor. Fight, I whispered to my Power, a little more. We need to kill her. We need… to resist… Sandalphon's warning was a click and then Etna was lunging for her. The little Fallen bitch split her mind controlling ability between Etna and me. A corner of my lips kicked up. Big mistake. The Power she kept hounding me was too little too late. I shoved my hand into her chest and for the fourth time today I ripped out a heart.

"Good riddance," Etna gasped on her knees, holding her head. The chilling glare was replaced by warmth. Lucifer drew her into his arms like she was the only thing that mattered. Just like I did to Nina. I looked away. "Lucas," she whispered in a half-sob, half-laugh. "I was worried sick… Your shirt… it is wet—"

"Flesh wounds. I'm fine. Better than fine…" he trailed off, speaking in softer tones.

Stumbling once, I was on my feet listening for any footsteps coming our way. I heard two sets. Brilliant.

"We need to move. Someone's coming our way."

Lucifer's shirt was black, but I could see the material shine, slick with blood. He glanced over a shoulder, "Where do you suppose we go? I can barely recall how I got here."

"Sandalphon made you come through a Portal. I tried to stop you…" I shrugged, glaring at the door. "We can't stay here. Cain's coming. The Lunantis Coven told us what he wants with Twin Flames. Long story short, he'll have to sacrifice your souls to get what he wants. Doesn't sound too kosher, huh?"

Lucifer bared his teeth, gripping Etna tighter, "And whose fault is it?"

"He was going to murder Jade and make Phillip kill me."

"Oh? You could've told him about you and Nina. How you're Twin Flames."

Anger exploded inside me like stacks of dynamite.

"I could have. But I didn't. Because I'm selfish and because you've already taken enough from me. Nina might have found a way to forgive you—to like you—but I haven't." I heaved, gritting my teeth. "You've spent years pissed at Michael for betraying you, but you're the same. You tortured my brother, barricaded yourself inside my body and threatened Nina with my safety every day so she'd locate Etna. Family doesn't do that. So why should I have thrown myself and Nina under the bus instead of you?" my lips curled with disdain. Veins on my neck stood out as I grew livid, borderline yelling. "Family protects. Family cares. Phillip is my family. Nina is my family. Rory was my family—but you…? You are not my family and I'm not a fucking saint to die for you." I glared at Etna. "Whatever happens to you it's his fault. Not mine."

Lucifer didn't answer or move. Silence washed all around us and I was about to zoom out of there to look for an exit, when my eyes flickered to the door.

"Now, was killing Sandalphon and Azazel necessary? The Vampires and the Cambions I'm okay with, but them? I kinda still needed them." My hands fisted. Of course. Cain showed up just before we made a run for it.

I sneered at his face. Bits of flesh were falling out, I could see muscle. Some tissue was black, like cells were dying off slowly. It wasn't just his face. Across his arms were swells, red spots making him look like a rotting corpse.

Enslaving my anger with an imaginary collar, I twitched my head to the side, "What can I say? Good help's hard to find nowadays."

Sweat poured down his face. Maybe my ears were tricking me, but was he whizzing? The amount of Power was killing his body and soul. A Magic user is only as strong as their health allows them to be. Perfect timing for an assassination. If I could pull it off—kill him—we didn't need to open Purgatory.

"Want to fill out an application?"

"Not really," I rasped. Power was gathering around me, building to a peak. I couldn't feel his Power. Bastard was cloaked. Every inch of him. I swear I could still feel a chill just under the surface… "I work poorly under others. Just ask Raphael."

I shot aside just as Cain sent a wave of rippling Magic. Missed. I moved so fast I surprised myself. I didn't stop. Everything in the room was still, like time was frozen. Until I saw Cain's irises following me and he zoomed, slower than me, but still giving me a run for my money. No wonder. He'd assimilated hell knows how much Power. I dodged Cain's fist, cutting it close by swooping under his arm and rolling across the floor. All faster than a blink. Cain didn't let up. I felt Magic snap at my heels and this time I couldn't outrun it. I enjoyed his gobsmacked expression when his Magic dissolved inches from me. Doing nothing. We stopped moving, standing on opposite sides of the room. Lucifer and Etna's eyes snapped between us, finally able to see us.

"Do you think I'm an idiot? Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice… Not a chance." I sing-songed smugly feeling the bone bracelet bound in leather firmly against my wrist. Nina's birthday gift to me. It was meant as a protection charm, but like a lot of Witchy stuff you bought in New Orleans, it hadn't been activated. You needed a Witch or Warlock to activate the spell and guess what I asked for before leaving Lunantis? "I'm warded against Magic."

With keen eyes, I saw Cain charge for me. I got myself across the room, where he'd been. I perked an eyebrow his way, smirking.

"Not so easy to shove your hand through my chest without Magic, huh?"

The concrete under my feet started shaking—crumbling. I jumped from the gaping hole in time to see debris coil into a mesh, like clay. The thing became taller than me, in the shape of a snake. It raised its makeshift head, gunning for me. Shit. Just because Magic couldn't hit me directly didn't mean something built and controlled by it couldn't. The snake-like being made a pass at me head-on. I threw myself out of the way, hitting a wall with my shoulder—leaving a dent. Fucking concrete fucking hurt. The wall I crashed against went from rock-solid to mush, causing me to sink in. Like quick sand. I writhed away before I lost an arm. The clay-snake wasn't having me breaking free. It rammed into me, burying me deeper. The snake pressed against my body and wall, solidifying all around me. My entire body was encased in concrete. All but my head. What a bonus. But Cain was definitely panting now. And me? I was pumping with Power. An electromagnetic built from within me, outgrowing my body, pushing against the stone caging me. I listened to my heart beating faster. My breaths growing deeper. My eyes sparked with Power. The concrete encasing me shattered, flying in all directions. Cain's hair was sticking up everywhere from the electricity washing off.

"That's… new." Cain heaved with a laugh.

I said nothing, mouth pulling on one side. With electricity crackling in my veins, I became lighting personified and shot for him. I almost lost my shit when my hand broke through his ribcage. I… wrapped my hand around his heart. This was it. I was going to end it. I was going to make it right. Get revenge for my family. For everyone. Until a burning spread along my body. My hand faltered. Next thing I knew, Cain was gripping my wrist pulling my hand out and pushing me clear off him. I knew this—the fire. A hand shot for my neck. Warm and slick. Blood. My legs folded under me. I swallowed thickly and my throat felt like sandpaper. This feeling…

"Good thing you didn't kill all my Cambions off. Phew. A little touch and go there, Cassidy?" …Cambion bite.

"Sorry about that. I had to stop those two from running out…" Female Cambion said.

"Oh, right. I got a little sidetracked. Forgot they were here." Cain hunched beside me. Faintly, I heard his bones snapping together, already on the mend. "You won't get another shot like that, Cam. Too bad. Something about you has changed…"

The last sound I heard was a cough before my vision faded out.
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Sorry for the wait! Cameron went all out this chapter, what do you guys think it'll happen now?