Zephyrus of the Anemoi

.the ramblings of a radman.

Category: Anemoi

Escape

He awoke in a small, dank cell.

Aren’t they all?

He smirked at the thought of being locked up in the lush penthouse, something he knew all too well as a child, when he had been a prisoner in his own home. That had been ages ago. Just before he’d met Iris.

Iris!

The last few hours came flooding back to him. The fight in the lobby, the inhuman creatures doing his lover’s bidding, the way she drugged him and brought him here. Zeph had to assume the last bit, as he’d been unconscious, but it certainly seemed the most plausible scenario. He should have seen this coming, of course. He had broken Iris’s heart too many times through the years. It was only a matter of time before she did the same to him. He wanted to be upset, but realized it was futile. She had done what he had forced her to do.

The only thing to do at this point was to find a way out of here, and if he was very, very lucky, find a way to save Iris. If it wasn’t too late.

Zeph wondered what Notu had offered her. He could only assume he was in one of Notu’s dungeons under Anemoi Tower. Zeph never should have left the family business when Notu began to turn dark. If he had stayed, he might have been able to prevent the devastation of the last several months. But he had more pressing matters at the time.

Like the demon-spawn under Chicago, of course.

There was a scraping at the door and Zeph quickly feigned unconsciousness. The rusty hinges creaked as though the door hadn’t been used in years. It probably hadn’t, as Zeph and his brothers made a pact to seal them off in the ’50s, when their father passed. The gaoler entered slowly, cautiously. He had been warned of Zeph’s heightened constitution. Zeph leapt off the table in a flash, snatching the keys from the gaoler’s waist and slipping through the door. He slammed it shut behind him. The gaoler let out an alien growl. Notu had found this particular lost soul deep underground. It was accustomed to cramped passageways, but it didn’t take kindly to being trapped. It furiously and repeatedly threw itself against the door.

The gaoler’s strength proved great indeed, and the frame on which the door was hung began to shake, despite its sturdy nature. Flakes of rust showered down as the metal rattled. Zeph decided it was probably a good time to leave. He sprinted down the hallway and took a left at the first junction. The cell door came clattering off its hinges behind him and the gaoler roared so loudly that the ground shook beneath Zeph’s feet.

As he rounded the next corner, Zeph came face-to-face with three more of the creatures that attacked him in the lobby.

Good. Payback time.

Zeph threw his left leg out in a half-split and dropped into a low crouch. The Drowling, as he would later learn they were called, were caught off guard by his sudden appearance and hadn’t yet formulated plan of attack. Zeph’s smile grew so large it threatened to eat his face. He was going to enjoy this.

He quickly stood up straight and snapped one leg out at the throat of the closest Drowling. His foot connected hard and the Drowling crumpled to the ground. Down, but not out, the creature immediately began to rise again, gasping for air.

Okay, so they have to breathe, Zeph mused. That’s one way to kill them.

The second and third rushed right at him. Zeph ducked as the second hurled itself forward, shoulder first. Too slow, Zeph collapsed onto his back as the beast careened into him. Rolling through the fall, Zeph threw the Drowling down the hallway as the gaoler rounded the corner at full speed. The crunch of bone and flesh echoed as they collided and his two assailants collapsed into a heap, struggling to disentangle themselves. The first Drowling was back on his feet and breathing much better, though he still wheezed a bit. The third was upon him and Zeph raised his arms to protect his head as the Drowling pummeled him from above.

Enough of this.

Zeph sucked in as much air as he could while being punched in the chest and exhaled as hard as he could. The force of the wind from his mouth hurled one of the Drowling into the air above Zeph. Pinwheeling to his feet, Zeph spun round and hit the creature as it fell. He aimed for the dead center of the chest, hoping to stop the Drowling’s heart, but as he connected, he sensed that the beast had a drastically different cardiovascular system to his own. A psychic flash in his mind revealed the heart was much lower in the abdomen. With the speed of a striking cobra, Zeph brought his other fist up and crushed the creatures heart with force of the blow. It was dead before it hit the ground.

Two ways.

The last standing Drowling turned suddenly and ran away. Zeph, confused, turned to see the gaoler and other Drowling clawing at their eyes as rivulets of blood poured from them. Iris stepped around the corner into view. She raised her hand in warning and Zeph froze.

His pulse quickened and, for a moment, he was happy to see her. One look at her eyes and he could see the hate burning through her. He knew that this was no rescue.

“Why are you doing this?” he asked.

“My love, don’t you know?” mocked Iris. “Hell hath no fury like a witch scorned…”

They came on very quickly. Even with his superior reflexes, he nearly didn’t react soon enough. The first one fell on him from above. Rising as quickly as he could, Zephyr rolled out of the way, directly into the second one. It was waiting.

And that was the only way to describe them. “It.” They were clearly not human. Zephyr chuckled inwardly at the thought. He knew that humans were a lot less common than they realized. Many even believed themselves to be human and were not. Some, of course, knew what they were. The Anemoi had known for millennia. That knowledge had allowed them to protect the planet for some time.

But these things didn’t even appear to be human. They were quite clearly something different. Something new.

Someone had been busy.

Nearby, a scream split Zephyr’s thoughts in two, and his reflexes faltered.

Iris. Zephyr’s instincts had caused him to forget her briefly, and a third one had appeared and grabbed hold of her from behind. He turned toward the scream, prepared to rush to her aid, when the second one took advantage of the opportunity.

Lights blossomed behind Zephyr’s eyes. These guys hit hard, he thought to himself as he crumpled to the ground, a feint. The second one stepped in, eagerly. With his eyes still closed, Zephyr kicked out and up, snapping the thing’s head back with a sickening crack. His third eye, the one that could see everything, was satisfied that it would not stand back up.

One down.

“Zeph, help!”

Zephyr’s eyes fluttered open. The first one was missing, but the third was busy dragging Iris away. Zephyr rushed toward her, but was snagged from behind. The first one had slipped around behind him and it’s grip was deathly tight. Zephyr twisted and heaved, trying to break free, but found no way out.

“Sweetie, no…”

Iris’s voice had changed. It was softer, calming. She was no longer panicked. Zephyr looked up to see that the third had let her go and was standing idly by. Zephyr’s confusion radiated and Iris seemed to bask in it momentarily, a sad smile breaking out on her face. She approached him and placed a hand upon his cheek. Zephyr looked into her eyes and his heart shattered. There was no welcoming glance, no loving look from one who had claimed to love him. Only betrayal. For a brief moment a look of regret flickered across her face and vanished, to that place where suppressed emotions go, never to return. But it was in his head. It stayed there, and he treasured it for the rest of his life, knowing that a part of her still truly loved him.

Iris leaned in and kissed him on the lips, her tongue probing. His lips parted without thinking and his tongue suddenly felt a pinprick. He jerked back, the taste of blood in his mouth. The thing holding him shoved him to the ground at a nod from his love.

Zephyr struggled to his feet. The drug was working quickly. Too quickly.

What did she hit me with?

His mind reeled and his body faltered. He was strong, always had been, but even this drug was more powerful than he was prepared for.

“Iris…”

She appeared before him. His lover and betrayer.

“I forgive you.”

The world went away for a long time, and Zephyr found rest for the first time in months. A longer look of regret crossed her face, but Zephyr did not see it to take with him, and the two with her didn’t live long enough to inform their master that it ever occurred.

And suddenly, the light comes on. Paralyzing.

Zephyr finds himself staring into a small sun at the core of the room. His eyes, so well adjusted to the darkness never flinch. They are moths drawn to the flaming near-vacuum-encased filament. Burning away everything that makes them unique.

His eyes focus—relaxing, recovering, remembering what they are, their purpose, their teeny little place in this grand universe of insignificant pieces combining into even more insignificant wholes—upon a table.

No, not on the table. On the thing laying on the table.

He struggles to his feet, the paralyzing effect of the disorientation wearing off, and places one hand on the table for support. Dizzying images swim through his head, a nightmare of recent memories and fearsome probable futures ransack his brain, seeking a perch to call their own.

At least one is successful.

He sees a name slip in and out of focus on the cover of the folder on the table in front of him.

Brother, he says in that part of the mind that realizes things just a split-second before the rest, what have I done?

Frantically, he tears open the folder, scattering the malcontent pages to the wind. Zephyr finds what he is searching for and holds it up to the light, daring it to crumble to dust before his face under the searing heat so that he can pretend it’s not real.

But he is not so lucky. And neither is the one whose name is scrawled across the paper, a death certificate.

“Euri, no.”

He always was the unlucky one, he thinks.

Zephyr spins as he hears the creak of disused metal behind him. A door he’d not yet noticed opens and a familiar face enters the room.

Not a welcome face, but a familiar one, nevertheless.

“Zephyr.”

“Notu,” is his curt reply.

“Are you okay?”

Zephyr’s fist tightens reflexively around the morbid piece of paper in his left hand. Instinctively, he considers rushing the man standing before him. He also knows that to do so would be a terrible mistake. Determined to show no weakness, Zephyr nods his head. Slowly.

“I’m choosing to believe you,” comes the dry reply from Notu. “After all, if you can’t trust your family–”

“The last of my family is dead by your hand!”

“Brother…” Notu, with deliberate slowness that lends a poisonous air to his actions, begins picking up the papers from the file and placing them back in their obsessive compulsive home. “Let’s not fight today. I haven’t seen you in years and there is so much for us to talk about.”

Notu finishes gathering the papers and places the file on the table between Zephyr and himself. He motions to a chair for Zephyr to sit in.

“Please, let’s do begin,” Notu says, smiling.

His smile eats itself and Zephyr Anemoi begins to cry.

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