Devil May Cry (Page 7)

Devil May Cry (Dark-Hunter #12)(7)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Not even her own granddaughter. But Kat could feel Apollymi’s sadness and grief in all its harsh bitterness. Kat’s father’s empathy was one of many things she’d inherited from him. It was why she would never embarrass Apollymi or anyone else if she could help it.

So Kat approached slowly, just in case Apollymi needed time to compose herself. There was a light breeze whispering by. The garden itself was surrounded by high black marble walls that shone so much they reflected images like mirrors.

Apollymi sat on a black chaise with her back to Kat. Two Charonte demons, a male and a female, flanked the chaise. The male demon was dressed in a loincloth that left the whole of his lean, muscular body bare. His skin was a pale maroon that had yellow mingled with it. His eyes were as black as his hair and wings. The female was orange and red in skin tone and dressed in a black leather halter top and shorts. Her hair was a dark brown bob that only emphasized the sharpness of her features and the redness of her eyes. The demons were as still as statues, but Kat knew they were highly aware of her presence and watching her every move.

Dressed in a black flowing gown that left her shoulders bare, Apollymi cradled a small pillow in her lap. It had been a gift that Simi, Acheron’s personal Charonte demon, had brought to her years ago. And because it held Acheron’s scent Apollymi kept it ever near her so that she could feel closer to the son she could never touch.

Kat’s grandmother was absolutely beautiful and appeared completely serene. With long white blond hair and swirling silver eyes, she didn’t appear any older than her mid-twenties. Her pale skin was luminescent, and small drops of glitter sparkled in her hair.

She turned her head slightly to greet Kat, but Apollymi’s welcoming smile turned to a frown as she saw Kat’s broken arm. "Child," she breathed, moving from her chaise. She placed the pillow on her seat before she crossed the short distance to Kat so that she could inspect her arm. "What happened?"

"I got caught in the cross fire."

"If that bitch Artemis-"

"Please!" Kat said between clenched teeth. "Enough with everyone insulting my mother. Am I the only one in existence who loves her?"

Apollymi arched a brow. "Of course you are. Everyone else sees her for what she is."

Kat growled at her, "Be that as it may, if not for her you wouldn’t have me. So could we please not insult her and just make my arm better, okay?"

Apollymi’s features softened instantly. "Of course, my baby." Apollymi touched Kat’s shoulder and immediately her arm was cured.

Kat took a breath in gratitude as the pain finally receded. She’d inherited her grandmother’s healing powers, but unfortunately, they didn’t work on herself. Only on other people. Which really sucked when she couldn’t get to her grandmother for comfort. "Thank you."

Apollymi smiled, then kissed her lightly on the forehead before she fanned Kat’s long blond hair around her shoulders affectionately. "I haven’t seen you in a while, agria. I’ve missed you."

"I know and I’m sorry about that. Time tends to get away from me."

Sadness darkened Apollymi’s eyes as she patted Kat on the shoulder before she stepped away. "I wish I could say the same."

Yeah, it was hard on Kat’s grandmother to be trapped here in what had once been the Atlantean hell realm. Eleven thousand years ago, Apollymi’s entire family had banded together to imprison her, and so long as Acheron lived, Apollymi could never be free.

Kat felt deeply for the solitude her grandmother suffered from even though Apollymi commanded an entire army of Daimons and Charontes. They still weren’t her family and they didn’t make her happy.

"How are things with Stryker?" Kat asked. Stryker was Apollo’s son and he now led the Daimon army Apollymi controlled. When Apollo had cursed the Apollite race to die on their twenty-seventh birthday, he’d unknowingly cursed his own son and grandchildren to die as well. Since that day, Stryker had hated his father and had plotted his destruction.

The only reason Stryker was still alive was because Apollymi had seized the opportunity to make Stryker her adopted son so that she could use him against Apollo and Artemis. For centuries the two of them had been united in their hatred against the Greek gods.

Then three years ago, after a rough confrontation between the two of them, Stryker had begun turning against Apollymi. It appeared to be an unending battle of one-upmanship.

Kat’s grandmother laughed angrily. "We are at war, agria. So he sits in the next building, plotting my death as if I’m too stupid to know it. What he forgets is that far better men than he have tried to kill me and while I may be in prison, they are dead-which will be his fate once he grows enough nerve to openly attack me. But that’s not why you’re here, is it?" She took Kat’s hands in hers. "What has you troubled, precious one?"

There was no need to sugarcoat her inquiries and Kat was nothing if not blunt. "Have you ever heard of a gallu demon?"

The two Charontes hissed vehemently the instant the word "gallu" left her lips. Kat’s eyes widened at their unexpected response. She’d never seen them do that before, or even anything similar to it.

"Relax," Apollymi said soothingly to her bodyguards. "There are no gallu here."

The male demon spat on the ground. "Death to the Sumerians and all their progeny."

Apollymi let out a deep breath before she released Kat’s arms and walked her away from the Charontes. "The gallu were created by Enlil, the leader of the Sumerian gods, to fight and kill the Charonte demons back in the day when the Charontes roamed the earth freely." That explained the unexpected hostility. "Needless to say, the Charontes can’t stand even the mention of those disgusting creatures. Now why do you ask of them?"

"Do you know what has become of them?"

Apollymi nodded. "After I destroyed Atlantis and the gallu no longer had the Charonte to fight, they turned on the humans and on their creators. Eventually, three of the Sumerian gods united and locked them away such as was done to me."

"And the Dimme? What are they?"

Apollymi gave her a suspicious frown. "Why do you ask of the Dimme?"

"I was told they’re about to go free and destroy everything."

A peaceful, dreamy look appeared on Apollymi’s face as if she was relishing the mere thought of the bloodbath to come. A slow smile curved her lips. "That would be a beautiful sight, truly."

"Grandma!"

"What?" she asked as if offended by Kat’s tone. "I’m a goddess of destruction. Tell me honestly that you find nothing exciting about the idea of a billion people screaming out for mercy and help when there’s no one left who cares what befalls them. Or the entire earth being rained on by all manner of demons bent on ultimate torture and sacrifice. Them ripping and shredding human flesh as they claw in a drunken frenzy fueled by their hatred of everything. Drinking blood in an orgy of terror… ahhh, the beauty of annihilation. There’s nothing like it."

Kat would have been appalled had it not been a very typical thought for her grandmother. "And I’m, well, not technically a goddess since I don’t belong to a single pantheon, but I follow after my father, who likes to protect mankind, and I really don’t want to see a bunch of demons eating people. Call me sentimental."

Apollymi made a noise of extreme dissatisfaction. "That’s the only thing I detest about your father. You two are, what is that human word you use… wimps."

"Hardly. Dad and I can more than hold our own."

Apollymi gave an uncharacteristic snort that Kat decided to ignore.

"And you still haven’t answered my question," Kat pressed on in spite of her grandmother’s ill mood. "What are the Dimme?"

Now the goddess was irritated, which was manifested in her grabbing one of the sweet black pears that grew on black-barked trees of her garden. She crushed it in her hand. "They’re Anu and Enlil’s final revenge on us all. While the gallu may be seen as the atom bomb that negated my Charontes, Anu created the Dimme as a nuclear holocaust."

Kat wasn’t sure what she meant. "How so?"

"The Dimme are seven demons unlike anything you can imagine. They are uncontrollable, even for the gods. They’re so dangerous that the Sumerians never even dared release them. From the moment they were created, they were put in a cell that has a time release. Every few millennia, whatever is holding them weakens. If the Sumerian gods are still alive, they reseal the seven demon sisters and life goes on as normal. But should something happen to the pantheon and there be no more Sumerian gods to reseal their tomb, the Dimme are unleashed on the world to destroy it and whatever pantheon is in charge. It’s Anu’s last laugh against whoever killed him and his children." So Sin hadn’t been lying… It made Kat’s stomach ache to think of what the seven demons could be capable of. She already knew what the typical monsters could do. And the Charonte. There was no telling what the Dimme would be like. "Don’t you think that harsh?"

Apollymi gave her an arch look. "I only wish I’d thought of it myself."

Kat shook her head. She didn’t know why Apollymi hated her mother so much, since the two of them were pretty darn close in personality-and thought similarly on most topics.

Apollymi licked the sweet juice from her fingertips. "But that doesn’t explain why you’re asking me all this, child. What about the Sumerians has you so curious when you’ve never asked about I them before?"

"Well, right now, I have their last survivor locked in my house."

Apollymi went rigid. "You what?"

"Sin’s in my house, down the street."

Apollymi’s swirling eyes began to glow-something they only did when she was highly agitated. "Have you lost your mind?"

Before Kat could defend her decision, Apollymi vanished.

Kat cursed. There was no doubt in her mind where her grandmother had gone. Aggravated, too, Kat flashed herself back to her house.

Sure enough, Apollymi was there and Sin was pinned to the wall.

"Grandma."

"Back off," Apollymi snarled.

Kat was stunned by her response. Not once in all her life had Kat’s grandmother ever raised her voice to her. The next thing she knew both Sin and Apollymi were gone.

What in the name of Zeus was going on? Kat closed her eyes but couldn’t find any trace of them.

They had to be at the palace and there was no telling what Apollymi was doing to Sin. But whatever it was, it was sure to be bloody and painful.

And that was what Apollymi did for people she liked.

CHAPTER FIVE

Sin cursed as he landed on his side in the center of what appeared to be a Charonte feast. There had to be at least a hundred Charontes present… and they were all staring at him in silence as he lay on the cobblestone floor in front of them. There was no sound whatsoever except for the occasional whisper of a Charonte wing.

The room reminded him of a medieval great hall with arched rafters and exposed beams. The stone walls gave the place an eerie hill that didn’t seem to faze the half-naked Charonte who were eating everything from roasted pig, to cows, to things he couldn’t even begin to identify.

"Is he for us to eat?" one of the young male Charonte asked an older one.

Before Sin could stand or respond, Apollymi appeared on the other side of the main banquet table beside the adult male Charonte the boy had spoken to.

Her silver eyes swirled violently as she stared at him. "Tear his worthless Sumerian hide to shreds."

"Sumerian?" the adult male snarled.

Sin cursed. Yeah-his being Sumerian to this group would go over like an Ozzy Osbourne/Marilyn Manson duet at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting. He might as well be wearing a shirt that said "Kibbles and Bits", with a heavy emphasis on the "bits" part.

Sin pushed himself to his feet in expectation of the death that was about to run him over. "Look. Can’t we all just get along?"

"Ekeira danyaha," a female spat, which was the obscene version of "screw you" in Charonte.

Suddenly a male Charonte came at his back. Sin caught the demon and flipped him to the ground. But before he could punch him, another demon bit Sin in the shoulder. Hissing in pain, he head-butted the demon, knocking him back. Sin’s shoulder was ripped open as the demon fell away.

A woman ran at Sin then. He picked her up and tossed her at the next two men who were coming for him. "Where’s a damn can of Raid when you need it," he growled as another demon caught him from behind.

He dropped all of his weight, which didn’t do a damn thing, since the demon was so strong. Changing strategies, Sin kicked his legs back against the demon’s knees. The demon shrieked in pain before he released Sin. He swung around and caught the demon a blow to the rib cage.

"Stop!"

Sin staggered back as the demons actually obeyed the order. He saw Kat standing to his right, staring in horror at what had happened.

"Do not interfere in this," Apollymi snarled.

Kat shook her head. "I won’t let him die. Not like this and not without an explanation."

"Explanation?" Apollymi pushed past the male demon before her to approach her granddaughter. "I went to his pantheon and asked them to help me hide your father so that my pantheon wouldn’t kill him. Do you know what they did?"