Eva landed within her domain with far more grace than Nel. Given that jostling Serena might kill her if she wasn’t dead already, that was probably a good thing.
The first thing that Eva noticed was the lack of any ill feelings. Every time she had shown up while Shalise had been residing inside, Eva had felt sick. The same enigma sickness that she felt around the field. It was entirely absent.
There were no tracks in the sand that might have belonged to enigmas either. They had burrowed beneath the sand before, but Eva had still felt their presence.
Eva was quite confident in declaring her domain free of enigmas. And after she had been all prepared to use Sawyer’s whistle too. At least she wouldn’t have to touch her lips to that thing.
Why it was free of enigmas was another matter entirely. She had cleared all the carcasses out after freeing Shalise from Prax. But it had been months since then. Eva had expected there to be at least some buildup.
Prax was around somewhere. Eva could feel him as clearly as she had been able to feel Zagan and the other demons during her treatment. Maybe the lack of enigmas was all his doing. Honestly, Eva hadn’t expected him to stick around for very long. Though with that doll snooping around his domain, Eva couldn’t really blame him.
Surely the doll was gone by now? Maybe he just liked the humbleness of Eva’s abode.
Shaking her head, Eva moved towards the alternate women’s ward building. Sawyer was around somewhere. She could feel him as well, though it wasn’t quite the same sense as that of Prax. If she had to guess, it was her domain providing her with information about an enemy.
Eva paused as she realized that Nel wasn’t following. Turning back, she found the augur just staring at the pitch black sky.
“They’re not going to follow us, are they?”
“As soon as I left the mortal plane, channeling magic to power the transference circle was interrupted. If that wasn’t enough, all the blood making up the portal would have fallen to the ground without me there to hold it up.”
“And she can’t make another circle?”
“If she knows how to,” Eva said with a shrug. “But she would have to know how to target my domain specifically. Otherwise she’ll wind up who-knows-where.”
Accepting that response, Nel took her eyes off the sky and looked towards the alternate women’s ward.
Eva did not miss the frown on her face as she took in the sight.
“So, this is Hell, huh?”
“You lived inside of Ylva’s domain for more than a year. You’ve been in Hell before.”
“That… it was different. I didn’t even know that it was literal Hell for the first several months. After that, it was just strange to think about,” Nel said with a shrug. “Besides, I was expecting something a little more grandiose. I didn’t realize just how attached you were to that prison.”
“I wouldn’t say that I am,” Eva said slowly. “I just needed something for Shalise to live in and this was the first thing that popped into my head.”
“Instead of a regular house or an apartment?”
Eva just shrugged. She had never really lived in either one. The closest that she came to living in a regular dwelling was the Brakket Academy dormitories. With the women’s ward fresher in her mind than anything else, it was a natural and almost subconscious choice.
Something more grandiose, as Nel had put it, would be nice. Her first thoughts on that went towards Prax’s castle. It didn’t fit Prax and Eva didn’t think that it would fit her, but it was along the right ideas.
Eva had to wonder just what Catherine’s domain looked like. Would she have a large castle as well? Eva couldn’t really imagine that for her. Maybe just a small room with a computer inside.
What about Lucy? Or Zagan?
All of them were in the mortal plane at the moment. Before she left, maybe she would go see their domains. It should be relatively safe with them absent. Zagan’s domain especially, now that she had thought of it. Surely that would be a sight to see.
Their domains might give her ideas on her own domain.
It was a thing that Eva decided that she would work on when she found some spare time. Perhaps it would start out as a few doodles in a notebook. Maybe some research into buildings and architecture on Earth. Her domain should be something more impressive and imposing that would intimidate any guests who saw it.
Guests like Sawyer.
A few steps closer to her domain and Eva started smiling. She had found Sawyer. He was present in her blood sight up ahead, just outside of the main women’s ward building.
“Come, Nel. Let’s get Serena into a bed and then have some fun.”
Eva glanced over her shoulder with a grin. “Are you forgetting that I sent Sawyer through first?”
Nel’s eyes widened. She started looking around like Sawyer might jump out of nowhere and attack her.
“Don’t worry,” Eva said with a laugh. “I know exactly where he is. He won’t hurt us.”
Although Nel didn’t look entirely convinced, she gave a slow nod and followed after Eva.
When she reached the courtyard before the women’s ward, Eva spotted several trap doors in the open state. Prax was standing over one of the ones closest to the entrance, glaring into the wide-open pit.
Moving up next to him, Eva looked down inside.
Sawyer sat in the pit. He grasped at one of his legs. A long metal spike had punctured straight through from just above his ankle to his knee. His other foot had a hole in it, but he had managed to pull it off the bloody spike. Looking up to Eva as she leaned over the edge, he smiled. It didn’t quite reach his eyes.
“Nimble bastard,” Prax grumbled. “Jumped over three traps before I came out. I guess I was enough to startle him into the pit.”
“Slippery as well,” Eva said. “But there is no escape this time, Sawyer. As I said before, welcome to Hell. It might not live up to the biblical tales, but I will try my best.”
With that, Eva continued on towards the women’s ward. Sawyer wouldn’t be going anywhere. Even if he managed to climb out of the hole, there was nowhere to go. He could try for the waters, but Eva doubted that he knew enough about Hell to know what the waters were. If he had, he would have run to them first and avoided her women’s ward like the plague.
If he accidentally stumbled into the waters anyway, it probably wouldn’t do him much good. The first time that she had gone anywhere, she had accidentally gone to the abattoir. In retrospect, that was probably one of the better choices. Winding up in a domain like Willie’s could have been far more unpleasant.
So, if Sawyer wanted to take his chances, Eva would wish him luck. It wouldn’t be as satisfying as torturing him herself, but other demons probably had much more experience than she did.
Eva’s focus was on Serena for the moment.
It was worrying. She still hadn’t moved the slightest bit. Eva didn’t know a thing about vampires, but this couldn’t be healthy. For all she knew, she was carrying around a corpse.
A real corpse.
Carrying Serena into her room, Eva set the vampire down on her bed. She tried to straighten her neck as much as possible in the hopes that vampire healing would work its magic. Beyond that, she had no idea what to do.
Eva glanced around. Nel and Prax were both still outside, keeping an eye on Sawyer.
Alone with Serena, Eva pried open her jaw to expose her sharp fangs.
Eva’s forearms would be the easiest part of her to use, but they were covered in hard carapace up to her elbows. She tried for a moment to get her upper arms into Serena’s mouth. After a few minutes of awkwardly changing position, she gave up on that.
Eva leaned over the vampire and rested her neck inside the wide open maw. She half expected Serena to jump up and bite down of her own accord, but the vampire was still unmoving.
With a shake of her head, Eva pulled away. “What am I doing?” she mumbled to herself. “Am I a blood mage or not?”
Pulling out her dagger, Eva sliced a cut on her upper arm.
Blood started trickling down into the vampire’s mouth after a little manipulation on Eva’s part.
To create the transference circle, Eva had shed a good deal of her blood. Now she was giving up more. It probably wouldn’t be a problem. She would be a little light-headed from the anemia, but she wasn’t expecting any sort of fight in the near future. Even with Sawyer around.
The blood just pooled in the back of Serena’s mouth. She had wanted the vampire to swallow it herself, but that wasn’t looking like it was going to happen. Eva sent it all down Serena’s throat to her stomach.
Blood safely inside Serena’s stomach, Eva stepped away from the body. It still wasn’t moving, but hopefully it would just take time.
Eva was feeling somewhat guilty over not letting the vampire drink her blood before. If she was dead, she would never get to enjoy it.
But there was nothing more that she could do at the moment.
Pushing the guilt and worry from her mind, Eva put on a smile as she stepped back outside the women’s ward.
Nel, contrary to Eva’s expectations, did not appear wary of Prax in the slightest. She stood at his side with a hateful gaze locked on Sawyer. So focused was her gaze that Eva wondered if the augur had even realized that Prax was a giant, red-skinned, horned demon with muscles capable of snapping her in two if he decided he didn’t like her.
On the other hand, Prax had clearly taken notice of Nel. He was leering at her with a fanged grin just as one might expect from the spawn of a succubus.
Actually, it might have been more of a curious stare than anything nefarious. His demonic features removed a lot of the innocence from his looks. As far as Eva knew, cambions had none of the proclivities that succubi possessed. Shalise had never mentioned him being anything less than a gentleman, anyway.
That was if the rumors about succubi were true in the first place. Catherine sure didn’t fit in with the popular depiction. Sexy and easily able to draw attention, definitely. Anything beyond that still remained to be seen.
Shaking her head, Eva cleared her throat. Only Prax looked up, but that was fine. Eva waved him over.
“While I do appreciate you capturing him, I hope that you wouldn’t do that to everyone that shows up here. Some might be friends.”
“I could tell that he was not your ‘friend,'” Prax said with a sneer. “Your domain was hostile to him. So I was as well.” His sneer twisted into a grin, punctuated with a short chuckle.
“Really? Huh.” That was good to know. Of course, unless her domain had been the one to activate the trap doors, it probably hadn’t done anything aside from informing Prax. Maybe something could be set up in the event that she had future prisoners.
Prax’s deep bass voice interrupted her thoughts. She made a mental note to ask him about domain defenses later.
“I want out of here.”
“You’re free to leave,” Eva said with a shrug, intentionally misunderstanding the demon. “Were the enigmas too much for you?”
“They have not been around since you all left.”
Eva blinked in confusion. Prior to rescuing Shalise, they had been showing up with alarming regularity. Now they were just gone?
Unless it had been Shalise and Lynn that had been attracting them. In which case…
Eva’s head snapped to the side as a crack of thunder shattered the silence.
Nel, standing over the pit, had her withered arm outstretched. The glove that normally covered the arm was lying on the ground. A small trail of steam was coming off her fingertips.
Running over, Eva was glad to note that Sawyer’s heart was still beating. His right arm, the same one that had his still existing hand, had ruptured. The scarring to his blood vessels looked distinctly familiar. Eva had seen enough injuries caused by nun lightning to recognize what had happened.
Injured, but he wasn’t dead yet. Though, with the amount of blood around him, that was slightly surprising.
“He deserved it.”
“I’ve no doubt about that,” Eva said, looking down at the lightning burn marks on his arm. “Why don’t we get him out of there and take him inside.”
Glancing down in the pit herself, Eva frowned. “But first,” she said as she reached behind her back. Curling her fingers around the hilt of her dagger, Eva knelt over the pit containing a certain unhappy necromancer. She dug it deep into his shoulder with all the force that she could muster.
Sawyer didn’t make a noise. In fact, he started smiling as he glanced down at the dagger.
The smile was slightly unnerving, but Eva ignored it. The more of his blood flowed over her dagger, the more he was under her control. Eva left the dagger in his chest as she stood back up. It was too late for him to grab it and use it against her. He would be dead faster than the vampire that had tried to call him.
Some of the blood that she had control of moved down to his leg and foot, blocking off circulation. Messy and it would potentially ruin the limb for all future use. Eva didn’t really care. The spike from his ankle to his knee had actually punctured through some major blood vessels. The spike itself was keeping his blood in, but that wouldn’t be the case once he got out of the pit. She only needed him alive long enough.
Eva looked up towards Prax. “Mind helping me get him out of there? No need to be careful. I’ll keep him from bleeding to death.”
Prax’s lip curled. Not quite a smile, nor a sneer. It was just him baring his teeth. With a clipped grunt, he reached into the pit and grasped Sawyer’s unstabbed shoulder. His claws dug into Sawyer’s flesh and even his bone as Prax used a single hand to yank the necromancer out of the few foot hole.
Sawyer still hadn’t made any noise.
Though it had been fading, Eva was extremely grateful that kicking Sawyer into Hell had broken the effects of her blood ritual. Sawyer looked to be in a sorry state, covered in blood and with several holes in his body. Eva had no desire to feel even a second of that sorry state.
Besides, being able to feel his pain would only ruin what she had planned for next.
Taking over for Prax, Eva dug her own claws into Sawyer’s arms and started dragging him into the women’s ward. His legs were trailing limp along the ground and he made no effort to fight against her.
And he was smiling.
Eva hated the feeling that she was missing something. The idea that he still had some card up his sleeve was preposterous. They were in Hell, Eva’s own domain. He was missing one hand, his legs were unusable, she had control over most of the blood in his body, and he had three enemies here. One of whom was a full-blooded demon.
For just a moment, Eva thought Sawyer might have convinced Prax of something in the brief time between his and Eva’s arrivals. Prax had just barely expressed a desire to leave Hell, unless Eva grossly misunderstood him. Maybe Sawyer had promised to summon him.
But then why would Prax have told her that he wanted to leave? Whatever the case, she would try to mollify him if he brought it up again. Zoe could probably summon him. Or Nel could be persuaded.
Technically, they weren’t supposed to be summoning demons. But Eva had already broken that rule. What was one more summon?
Her thoughts reassured Eva. Whatever Sawyer thought that he was planning, it wasn’t going to work.
Lacking any kind of real torture chamber in her little home, Eva just threw Sawyer right into one of the seats in her common room. She pulled her dagger out of his shoulder and sheathed it.
Enough of his blood was under her control that leaving it in wouldn’t do much more.
She did make sure to plug up the wound with hardened blood. The shoulder had many major blood vessels. He could bleed out in minutes.
Minutes would be far too fast for him. Eva wanted him to suffer.
“Comfortable,” Sawyer quipped as he settled into the chair.
“I do apologize for not being able to meet your standards in my accommodations. I hope you won’t mind.”
“It leaves something to be desired.”
“Well, I’m afraid I must disappoint further.” Eva reached out, taking hold over his ring finger and bent it straight backwards.
Sawyer didn’t appear to notice despite the sickening snap. The hand was stitched to him. It was entirely possible that he had absolutely no feeling in it, but Eva had been hoping for some sort of reaction.
Ignoring it for the moment, Eva just flashed a small grin. “All those fancy tools you had for me… I don’t have anything similar here.”
“A shame, to be sure.”
“Nonsense!” Eva dug her claws into his middle finger and crushed her hand into a fist. Not only could she hear the snapping of his bones, but also the blood and flesh that leaked out and ran over her smooth carapace. “This way is far more intimate.
“But I can’t have all the fun,” Eva said as she wiped the finger pulp off on the side of the chair. She turned around to find Nel actually shying away while eying the smear of blood on the chair. “Nel? He has a finger and a thumb left.”
The augur blanched, taking a step back.
Eva rolled her eyes. Given that she had just fired lightning at him while he was helpless and likely hadn’t provoked her, her shying away from a little harmless torture was somewhat disappointing.
Though, Eva wasn’t feeling the torture herself.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
This was to be her revenge. She finally had Sawyer helpless. Thinking back to when he had her strapped to a chair barely got Eva fired up.
Part of it was because of his smile. His failure to cry out in pain as she crushed his finger didn’t help matters. Eva wanted to hear his screams, but that wasn’t happening. The other part of it might be her mindset. It just wasn’t satisfying. Serena had her worried and being watched by the obviously squeamish Nel had her spirits dampened somewhat.
Maybe she didn’t have the inclinations to be a proper torturer.
Prax was standing back a short distance, watching with obvious disapproval on his face.
Probably thinking about how much better he could be as the torturer.
Steeling herself, Eva turned back to Sawyer with a glare. Even if she wasn’t feeling it, that was no excuse to let him off easy.
“I guess it’s just me and you right now.”
“I’d be disappointed if you handed me off to others.”
Eva gripped his hand as a whole and crushed the entire thing all at once. “You took my fingers, my toes, and my eyes. I really don’t care about your toes and your hands are mutilated enough.”
“My eyes then,” Sawyer said with a smile.
Lip curling in distaste, Eva shook her head. “Eventually.”
There was something else that she wanted to take from Sawyer more than his eyes.
Lifting up her hand, Eva moved the sharp tips of her claws towards his face no faster than particularly viscous honey flowing down a slight decline. She was hoping that the apprehension of not knowing where she was targeting would make Sawyer squirm at least a little. Unfortunately, that was a failure.
Sawyer kept his eyes locked onto Eva’s eyes, seemingly taking no notice of her hand.
An inch away from his face, Eva shot her hand forwards. Her claws found their way into his mouth. Pinching his teeth between her fingers, Eva squeezed.
Teeth were hard. That was essentially their entire purpose. For a scum of a necromancer who wound up eating dead flesh that fell into his food, Sawyer’s teeth were actually well cared for. Perhaps that was why he smiled so often; he wanted to show off all the hard work he put into his teeth.
Unfortunately for poor Sawyer, Eva’s fingers were stronger.
Shards of calcium exploded between her fingers.
The top row of Sawyer’s front teeth was just stubs and his gums.
Twisting her hand around, Eva dug her claws into the bottom of his jaw. She broke off the teeth from partway through his gums. His stumps of flesh started to fill his mouth with blood.
Eva pulled her hand out of his mouth and smiled.
“Your incessant grin looks so much better now.”
Sawyer twisted his head to one side and spat, expelling as many of the shards as he could.
When he looked back, Eva couldn’t actually tell whether or not he was trying to smile.
It was a definite improvement.
“Now that we’ve got that out of the way, what next? Nel, Prax,” Eva turned her head over her shoulder, “any ideas?”
The red demon’s scowl twisted into a grin. “If you are going for pure mutilation, there is a spot on any man which cannot be topped.”
Eva narrowed her eyes. Of course the cambion’s mind would head in that direction. Obviously she had been wrong about him being dissimilar to succubi. She did not want to touch Sawyer anywhere around there.
Although, Eva thought as she turned back to Sawyer, maybe it isn’t such a bad idea.
Sawyer’s eyes were wide. Even with his mutilated mouth, he didn’t appear to be smiling in the slightest. It was probably the first thing that actually caused a spike in his heart rate as well.
If it was the one thing that could get him to lose his cool, who was Eva to pass it up?
But she still wasn’t going to fondle him or anything resembling such an act.
Thankfully, her hands weren’t her only inhumanely strong limbs.
Lifting up a foot, Eva brought it down right on top of Sawyer’s groin. Sawyer drew in a sharp gasp as Eva crushed everything all the way to his hip bones. Grinding her foot in, Eva was almost disgusted by how his organs compressed and ruptured beneath her foot.
Blood and viscera dripped off the edges of the chair. Eva was holding most of it in, but some of the blood was outside of her control. His intestines and stomach and spleen and whatever other organs were falling out of the suddenly opened cavity were just a bit too heavy for her to contain. Not that she cared all that much about keeping it in. As long as she kept his blood circulating through any ruptures, he’d live for now.
And that’s really all Eva needed.
Sawyer started coughing. Blood and spittle flew from his mouth as his coughs shifted in tone.
Eva grit her teeth.
Sawyer was laughing.
“‘oo should haff killed me when ‘oo had the chance,” he mumbled out through his broken teeth.
Eva didn’t have a chance to question what he meant.
Sawyer’s heart seized up. His eyes rolled back up in his head the moment it did so.
Using her blood magic and her control over his blood, Eva tried to force his circulation. Carrying his blood through his lungs and the empty air itself in an attempt to oxygenate it enough to keep his brain alive.
Despite her efforts, Sawyer slumped over in the chair, arms and head all falling limp as he moved.
“No,” Eva hissed.
She clenched her fists even as she stepped forward. With as much haste as she could, Eva clasped her hands on either side of his face and shoved her thumbs into his eyes. The twin orbs burst beneath the pressure of her claws, spilling blood and clear liquid all over her carapace.
Her fingers dug into his skull, burrowing through the bone until she reached his brain.
“You should have waited before killing him,” Prax said. “Let him feel the pain and humiliation a little longer.”
Eva pulled her fingers out of Sawyer’s skull, flinging blood and brain matter to the floor. “It was all too late,” she hissed. “He died before he even felt his eyes explode.”
“Died? You must have damaged the wrong spot.”
Eva shook her head. “I hit nothing. He knew he was going to die. He killed himself, taking the satisfaction away.” Turning around, Eva was about to ask Nel if she had any ideas on what happened.
The augur was lying on the ground, eyes closed.
“She passed out around the time your foot passed through his body,” Prax said with a deep grunt.
Eva just stared.
In a way, it was something of a relief. Her torturing Sawyer just hadn’t felt right. With him dead, she could rest easy. At least on the necromancy front. Des was still around, but she was just a little girl. If she carried that mummified corpse around with her constantly, she could be problematic. Between Eva, Nel, Ylva, and Zoe, they should be able to find a way to neutralize it.
For the time being, Eva just shook her head again. Leaving Nel on the floor, Eva walked off towards the shower room.
She was feeling somewhat drained. Getting the remains of Sawyer off her seemed like a good way to start feeling rejuvenated again.