The poor woman.
His face grim, Sin closed the woman’s eyes and whispered an old Sumerian prayer for her soul to rest peacefully in spite of the violence that had taken her life. Kat was surprised by his actions. They seemed completely incongruous with everything she’d just witnessed from this man.
At least that was her thought until he retrieved a knife from the back of one of the demons. He made a ball of fire in his right hand to heat the blade, then once it was hot, he placed the blade over the bite wound on his hand. She cringed in sympathetic pain even though he didn’t so much as whimper.
He merely stood there with his teeth clenched while the stench of burning flesh made her queasy.
But he wasn’t through. Once his wound was cauterized, he went back to the human woman and then mercilessly cut her head from her body. Kat cringed in horror.
There was no other explanation. Why would he do something like that to their poor victim? It didn’t make sense.
And still he wasn’t through. He repeated the decapitation on the two male demons before he piled all the bodies together and burned them. His face completely stoic, he watched them burn. The flames illuminated his cold, emotionless features. The shadows darkened his eyes, making him look even more like a demon than the ones he’d killed.
He didn’t speak a single word the entire time or show even a drop of compassion.
Once they were completely burned, Sin spread the ashes with the toe of his boot until there was no trace left of any of them. No one would ever know what had befallen the one poor woman.
Kat felt sick. How was it this man had been allowed to live given this kind of savagery? Did Acheron not know what Sin did at night? That he desecrated human remains? She couldn’t imagine Acheron forgiving something so horrendous. It wasn’t in his nature, any more than it was in hers.
Maybe, for once, Artemis was right. A man like Sin didn’t need to be let loose on the world. He was too dangerous.
But before Kat went in there blazing to attack him, she needed to know what his powers were. From what she’d just seen, he could control fire and he was well versed with weapons and hand to hand tactics.
Taking him out would be tricky. Perhaps stasis would be a wiser choice. She could put him to sleep where he couldn’t hurt anyone-it would be like death, only he would still be alive. Yeah, that might be her best bet instead of just outright killing him.
And while she contemplated his death, Sin headed for his coat.
He put it on with a flourish and then vanished into a shimmery mist.
Kat closed her eyes, trying to locate him again so that she could finish her mission.
But she felt nothing. No trace of him anywhere.
She frowned. How could that be? He had to have an essence, and that essence always left a calling card. She tried to locate him again, and again there was nothing. It was as if he were no longer part of the earth. She had no idea where he’d gone.
That had never happened to her before. "Where are you, Sin?"
But the real question wasn’t where he was. It was what he was doing…
Sin flashed himself back to his hotel room even though he could have just as easily taken himself home. Right now he didn’t want Kish or Damien to bother him. He needed his space and time alone to prepare himself mentally for what he had to do.
He was coated in blood, and though there had once been a time when he would have reveled in it, those days were past. Now he was tired of the never-ending battles. Tired of fighting in a war he knew he couldn’t really win.
There was only one person whose blood he wanted on his hands. One person whose blood would make him rejoice to feel its stickiness coating his flesh.
The mere thought of cutting her head from her body brought a smile to his face as he made his way into the bathroom for a long, hot shower.
After turning the water on, he dropped his weapons to the floor, where they landed with a heavy thunk, and stripped while he waited for the water to heat. As soon as it was scalding hot, he stepped inside and let the water rinse him clean. The fighting had left him gritty and covered with sweat and blood-his and theirs. Dipping his head down, he watched as all of it slid from his flesh to the tile and then circled down the drain.
The heat felt good against his sore muscles. But it did nothing to alleviate his troubled thoughts.
The Kerir or Reckoning, as some called it, was coming and he still had to find the Hayar Bedr or Forsaken Moon before the gallu demons found him and destroyed him. Without the Moon, Sin stood no chance whatsoever of beating them back.
Not that he had much of one even with the Moon, but that sliver was infinitely better than no hope whatsoever.
Sin ground his teeth as he envisioned the Kerir in his mind. At midnight on New Year’s Eve as people rushed to celebrate, the seven Dimme demons that Anu had created to avenge their fallen pantheon would be freed. The only one who could fight them was Sin, and since he no longer possessed his god powers, he didn’t have a hope in hell of succeeding in beating the Dimme back.
May the gods, ancient and new, have mercy on them all. "Damn you, Artemis," he snarled. The stupid bitch. By one act of selfishness, she’d condemned them all. And she didn’t even care. She thought her own godhood would protect her from the demons to come.
She was such a fool.
Why do you even bother? All fighting would do was prolong his own death. But it wasn’t in him to just stand aside and do nothing while innocent people were killed. Do nothing while the earth was overrun and destroyed. No, he’d been fighting back the gallu demons for too many centuries to just cede the earth to them without taking out as many of them as he could.
They were hard kills, but the Dimme…
They would rip him apart and laugh while they did so. Sighing, he turned the water off and reached for a towel. He paused as he saw the latest scar on his hand. Damn them for it. Unlike the Daimons the Greek god Apollo had cursed to live by stealing human souls, the gallu could turn humans into one of them. The poison in their bite could infect even Sin and make him a demon as well. It was why he had to burn the poison out every time it invaded his body. Why he had to make sure to behead the creatures and burn their bodies. It was the only way to completely destroy the poison and to keep them from regenerating.
They were prolific breeders. One bite, one blood exchange… that was all it took. They didn’t have to kill humans to turn them into demons. But the gallu enjoyed the killing so much that they usually did it just for shits and giggles. Once infected, the deceased human quickly lost control of their id to the gallu, who could command the human to do anything they wanted. The humans then became mindless blood slaves.
Eleven thousand years ago, there had been designated warriors sanctioned by the Sumerian gods who had been trained to fight the gallu off. When the number of those warriors had fallen and they’d become all but extinct, Sin and his daughter and brother had trapped the gallu to keep them from preying on humanity. But over time, and after the death of the Sumerian pantheon, the gallu had begun working their way free of their prison. They’d also become smarter and more organized.
Now they were trying to find the artifacts Sin’s brother had hidden to help awaken the Dimme, hoping that the Dimme would reward them for their loyalty. And the Dimme probably would.
Yeah, in three weeks’ time it was seriously going to suck if you were human.
Sin towel-dried his hair. There was no use thinking about it tonight. He’d found the Tablet of Destiny. Tomorrow, he’d seek the Moon. Until then he needed a few hours of rest.
Completely nak*d, he tucked himself into the bed and tried to put the night out of his mind. But it was no use. He could picture the gallu gathering their forces. See them turning the humans into creatures like themselves. It wouldn’t take them long to overrun the world. Mother would turn on child, brother on brother. Theirs was a blood hunger that knew no satiation. The ultimate weapon, they’d originally been created to combat the Sumerian pantheon’s enemies.
Specifically, they’d been created to battle against the Charonte demons that Sin’s father had been convinced would one day destroy them all. What his pantheon had never envisioned was the day when Atlantis would be destroyed and her Charontes along with her. With no other demons to keep them in check, the gallu had turned their attention and hunger on the humans.
They’d laid waste to entire cities before Sin, Ishtar, and Zakar had corralled them. Sin could still see the bodies of the slain humans rising up as mindless demons to fight.
But more than that, he could see his own children turning on him…
Sin growled as he banished those memories. They would do nothing but cut him more deeply. And he’d been cut enough. The past was gone.
He had a future to fight for and he’d need all his strength for it.
Closing his eyes, he forced himself to think of nothing. To feel nothing. He couldn’t let anything as petty as revenge or hate deplete him. He had too much to do.
Kat wandered through the streets of New York, trying to get a bearing on Sin. He might not even be in the city anymore, but since he’d been here the night before, it was the most likely spot to search for him. A chill wind cut through her as she made her way through the holiday crowd.
Honestly, she loved visiting New York at Christmas. She could well understand her father’s need to be in the city this time of year. True, it was cold, but there was a lifeblood here as people rushed through the streets, shopping, working, and living.
What she loved best was the decorated store windows and the fun themes their decorators chose. They were exquisite and made the hidden child in her giddy, especially when she saw other kids squealing in delight as they pointed to a window and then rushed to the next one, pushing past aggravated adults.
Kat had never been so carefree. Even though she’d been sheltered, her childhood had never been innocent. She’d seen things no child should see, and though she tried not to be jaded, it was hard not to be.
But those children who were laughing and giddy… the ones who had no idea how ugly the world could be-they were the ones she fought for. And those children were why she had to find Sin and stop him. He couldn’t be allowed to prey on them.
Not after what he’d done last night to that poor woman. Why would he desecrate a human body? Kat still couldn’t get over that. It hit her on a level so raw that she could do nothing but ache for the woman and her family, who would never know what had happened to her.
It was mean and it was awful. More than that, it was just wrong.
As Kat paused to let a little girl cross in front of her, a large man shoved her from behind. Kat scowled at him as he passed by her, mumbling to himself. He took one look at the child and hissed like a cat. Then he stared at the child speculatively… like a feral beast contemplating its next morsel.
But as he reached for the child, her mother snatched her back and chastised her for running away.
The man turned a hungry look on the pair that made Kat’s blood run cold. It was unnatural. What’s more, there was a flash of red in his eyes that wasn’t human.
She’d never seen anything like it.
With one last sneer, he seemed to think better of attacking the mother and child before he continued on his way.
Curious about him and his intentions, Kat followed inconspicuously. If it weren’t for the daylight shining so brightly, she’d think him a Daimon trying to find a human soul to steal to elongate his life. But that wasn’t possible. Because of Apollo’s curse on their race, none of the Daimons could come out so long as the sun was shining. If they did, they burst into flames.
What was he then?
More to the point, what pantheon did he belong to? If he wasn’t human and he wasn’t Daimon, some god had created him. The question was for what purpose?
Kat reached out with her powers, but all she could sense was his human spirit and his anger as he stumbled about.
Maybe he was simply insane…
He darted into a side street where there weren’t any people.
Something in her compelled her to ignore him and continue her search for Sin.
Kat didn’t. It wasn’t in her to just let such a thing go. If the man was up to no good, she was one of the few people who could stop him. She would never be like her mother and just ignore people’s pain. Not when she could stop it.
So instead of walking on, she followed the man down the empty street. She didn’t make it far before he turned on her with a feral snarl.
This time his eyes were a flaming red that swirled around his black pupils. He opened his mouth, showing her a double row of fangs before he grabbed her by the shoulders and threw her into the brick wall.
Stunned by his attack and appearance, she swung to hit him.
He caught her hand, then grabbed her throat and shoved her back into the wall with a force so great, it rattled her to the marrow of her bones. Had she been human, it would have rendered her unconscious or dead.
As it was, it hurt like hell and it seriously pissed her off. "What are you?" she asked.
He didn’t answer as he picked her up-something that was no small feat given the fact that she was six foot four and solidly built-and tossed her into a parked car so hard she bent the hood and popped the latch on it. The windshield shattered under her as the car alarm began wailing. She could barely breathe as she tasted blood in her mouth. Pain pierced her.
She tried to move, but her arm was broken and she seemed to be stuck in the bowed, shattered windshield. His eyes churning red, the man stalked toward her.