"Fake?" Holly repeated. She didn't have the strength to try to free herself any longer. "All fake?"
"Every last one," Krim agreed. "This entire world has been created for you. To study you, to judge you."
"Judge me?" Holly frowned. "I don't understand. Why am I being judged? By who?" how could she even ask questions? Her mind was still trying to comprehend what Krim had revealed. There was no way this entire world was fake, was there? None of it made sense.
Krim picked up his pace as they got farther and farther away from the others. "Death can explain more if he feels like it. I don't know how much I should give away. I don't need to put myself in danger over this."
"You said you'd tell me everything," Holly reminded. Inside, her world was spinning. None of this made sense. "Why would this world be created for me? Why? And who did it?"
"You want all those answers?" Krim twisted his neck to study her. "Then I need something from you. It's the only
Holly followed Death but as they traveled their surroundings blurred around them. Holly stopped but was tugged along by his grip on her. "What is this?" she whispered. Every step was taking them away from her friends, the only ones who might be able to save her from this awful choice of hers."You didn't think that I lived in that old shack, did you? I live wherever I want, and right now I'm taking you straight to my throne so we can talk." Death smirked. "I hope you don't give me what I want though, it's more fun when I hear screams and begs.""Throne?" Holly frowned. "I don't understand. Why would you have a throne? You're one of the four horsemen," she looked around. "Without a horse.""Nah, I've got a ride but have no reason to pull my baby out right now. You came to me willingly enough, so I let that escort of yours live. If you had denied me, you'd be drenched in his blood right now."Holly swallowed. "I don't understand any of this.""
Holly didn't know when the pain stopped. How could so much agony come from the tips of fingernails? But they had been like knives, slicing her skin, causing her blood to flow.But where had they gone now? The servant was gone without a word, and so was the master as well. Now it was just her alone and tied up. Was this a ruse on their part?"Holly," the whisper was close to her ear and she turned to meet Quix's eyes. "Stay quiet," he whispered as he went to work on her restraints. They popped off and he pulled her into his arms, closing his eyes as he willed them to travel.Nothing happened. They were still in the bowels of Death's trap.Holly sobbed."Don't worry," Quix whispered. "I have a plan."Holly didn't believe him. This had to be a trap. If she showed any sign of hope, it would slam down on her. The pain she had endured already was just the start. They were going to do so much more to her. "Leave me," she whispered.
When Holly woke up, she was pressed against a half-naked chest. She didn't move as she blinked and tried to process just what was going on. She lifted her head and looked into Quix's sparkling eyes. "Hi?" she greeted."Hi," he responded with a lazy smile. He pulled her back against him and cuddled his nose into her hair. "I'm still sleepy and you smell great.""You said you wouldn't try anything," Holly growled at him as she fought to pull away."I'm not doing anything. Just holding you closer and enjoying that scent of yours. Maybe Ruby will have some competition if this keeps up." He chuckled down at her.Holly pushed against him to free herself and Quix's smile vanished in an instant to be replaced with a grimace. "Quix?" Holly froze. "Did I hurt you?""I'm still tender from yesterday's heroics. I'll be fine later. Man, Krim would laugh..." he frowned and shook his head. "Never mind. Ruby, she'd find this whole situation amusing."Holly d
"Dagon?" Holly whispered. She remembered that name and that voice."Are you really Dagon?"He nodded. "I am, and as I told you, I'm here to save you." He frowned at Quix. "First of all, I'll take care of that trash for you."Holly's arms came around Quix as she pulled him closer to her. "He's not trash, he saved me."Dagon stepped closer his eyes narrowing. "Saved you? Let me see you, take that cover off."Holly flushed and shook her head. "No way, I-"She was interrupted as Dagon took the corner of the blanket and swept it away leaving her huddling against Quix for warmth.Dagon's lip flared seeing the reaper's state of undress but if faded away as his eyes roamed over Holly. His dark blue eyes shimmered like the depths of the ocean as his fist clenched. "Those marks, tell me what happened to you, right now."Holly swallowed, she didn't even want to remember a single moment of that. "I was captured," she whispered
Eros grunted. "Still, even though your help will be appreciated, you know this is all your fault right? You're the cause of her being in danger in the first place."Dagon shook his head. "You can never just say thank you, can you? I'm not the one that betrayed her, one of her followers did that, or one of them pretending to be." He turned and surveyed the group. "If any of you are Krim, I am going to rip you in half, just know that.""Why do you have a problem with Krim?" Ruby demanded as she pushed the others out of the way. "Who are you even?"Dagon laughed. "Just one of the Hell Princes, are you sure you want to get on my bad side right now? I really don't want to have to deal with you reapers too much.""Hell Princes?" Ruby frowned. "Are you the one that Lust mentioned?""That would be me," Dagon bowed. "Dagon, Prince of Pestilence. It's why I created the seven sins.""Krim is the one that betrayed Holly," Quix growled out. He was still
Holly stared at her teacher and Quix as they waited for her in the cramped room. "Why can't the others be here?""Someone has to guard the building. Krim could come back in, or he could send his necromancy experiments. I'm staying by your side to get you out of here in the worst-case scenario." Quix replied.Holly sighed. As much as she appreciated Quix being there. The more time she spent around him the more she was becoming hyper-aware of everything about him. He even had long lush eyelashes she kept sneaking peeks at.Quix turned toward her and smirked. The smirk grew even more as she flushed and looked away from him. How could she let herself be caught like that? She had never been like this with her boyfriend."Holly, come here," Dagon ordered."Are you going to test to see the amount of magic power I have again?" she demanded with a sigh. They were never going to get anywhere if they just tread the same ground over and
Holly didn't even care that she was being labeled as someone's at this point. She'd rather belong to Dagon than ever have to touch Death again. That much was true.Death cracked his neck as he laughed. "You're really cute. You think that working hard is all you need for success? You're never getting Father's throne. Hard work can never beat natural talent. It is going to be fun to engrave this lesson into your body, and when you're on the ground and hurt, I'm taking her in front of you."Dagon growled. "I swear," he whispered. "You will never touch her.""What does a demon want with a pure soul like that anyway? Besides consuming it I mean. I could understand if you were after her for a feast, but that look in your eyes isn't about that.""None of your business," Dagon rushed forward but Death was prepared. As Dagon kicked out and tried to take his legs out from beneath him, Death hopped over them like they were a jump rope.Death didn't waste any
The mist surrounding her clued her in before anything else. Holly had passed out at some point after using her magic and now here she was once more sleeping. This was truly horrible timing. If Death attacked while she was out, the consequences could be disastrous."Holly?"There was that man. He was sitting on some rock or something. She couldn't make it out against the fog so she was using her best guess. "You're the dream stalker."He chuckled. "I'm trying to protect you, not stalk you." He shook his head and then as she got closer he frowned. "Why do you have cuts all over you? Isn't Angel there to protect you?""I still haven't met this Angel of yours," Holly replied. "But there are a few people protecting me.""They're not doing a good enough job if you've been hurt already." Tydeus stood up and towered over her. "Listen, I think I'll be there tomorrow. Just try to stay in one place and I'll do my best to make it to you. Stay with those