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.
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,Â 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,Â Zeph mused.Â 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.
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 scornedâ€¦”