This piece actually introduces a part of Gabe that he has struggled with for a long time and to be perfectly honest, I hate this part of him… not in the sense of what it is, but in the sense of what it does to him. I have never written Gabe’s ‘passenger’ before aside from referring to him during dialogue and this scene will hopefully explain why.
Here is the full encounter from start to finish of the ‘god of chaos’ trapped inside Gabe finally rearing his head in writing.
She knew the moment he wasn’t Gabe anymore when her skin crawled as his deep voice lilted into the tone of a well seasoned predator. It was the cold edge that leaked out when someone had caused incredible anguish and drank it up like water.
It was a drawl that was as familiar to her as her own name.
There was a monster in her midst.
Sable turned slowly, casting Not Gabe a confused look, in response to the statement he’d made about her archery. She could not let on that she knew he was not himself, though. This was a game she was all too familiar with.
“You don’t seem to enjoy death from what I can tell,” he began to explain, smiling in a way that was meant to appear kind. “So then, why did you choose this life, to become a killer?”
She frowned in response, taking a step closer to the fire under the guise of thinking. His face was hidden by the dancing shadows cast from flames, but she knew there would be something off about him only she could see. She was no fool to a demon in disguise; there was always a sign.
“I use my skills to protect. Sometimes protection of one or a few means the death of another.”
He leaned close to hear her reply, revealing exactly what she’d been looking for while he let out a chuckle. Gabe’s beautiful, unique eyes were gone. All the way from the colors straight down to the depths of his anguish and loneliness usually buried beneath dark humor. It was all gone.
“But you’ll try to reason with your assailant and choose their death as a last resort,” he asked, pretending to be amused the way that Gabe would be.
“They don’t usually give me the chance to explore other options,” Sable replied, studying him closely.
The whites of his eyes had filled in with the dead black of an abyss, broken only in the middle by scattered shards of a vibrant electric blue surrounding the pupils. Behind them was only an empty void, cold and cruel as if his very soul had been drowned by thick, sticky tar that would swallow her.
She had heard of his passenger through the stories. Kiro Baroch, the deity trapped inside Anzillu’s biggest mistake. He was locked up behind thick mental walls that Gabe had nearly perfected over the last few decades, or so she’d been told. Current evidence would beg to differ.
His official title was the ‘god of chaos’, but she knew better than to give him enough credit to truly use it. In the end, he was still nothing more than an unclean spirit. Yet he was much more dangerous than his host for he truly had no place for guilt or compassion within that sticky, endless black soul. Only a heart begging for anguish.
How had he come forth with such ease?
~Perhaps that would be a good question for Gabe. Bring him back.~
Sable’s shock reverberated through her as she nearly laughed aloud, standing abruptly with a sudden need for space from the fire. It was so calm and simple of a command, she thought for a moment that He was making fun of her.
But she knew better.
The girl let out a heavy breath, resigning to her duties even as that familiar old coil began to form in her chest. She had not a single clue how to push back on one as powerful as Kiro was fabled to be. The masses thought him a god for all the destruction he could unleash.
~Have I not moved mountains with your voice?~
He came again, clearly allowing amusement to trickle in behind her eyes.
“Yes, but this is different,” she responded from deep inside her secret heart. “I don’t know how to fight this one without bringing harm to my friend.”
~Do you trust me?~
“You know that I do.”
~Then trust in my sword as well.~
Not Gabe was watching her through this short exchange, losing his smile while his hands seemed to twitch like the skin covering them was too tight. They would stretch and then clench, shaking with annoyance. His black gaze did not leave her all that while, sending bugs skittering across her skin.
She had to step back farther into the darkness at the edge of their campfire, reminding herself to breathe. Even though she trusted her master without hesitation, it didn’t mean that her racing mind and heart were always on board. She forced out a slow breath before chancing a glance up.
He hung his head low, watching the flames from beneath his bangs; darkened eyes reflecting the dancing orange that she’d suddenly felt so irrationally threatened by.
“Do you realize the position you’re in,” he inquired on an uncharacteristic frown.
She did not respond. Of course she knew exactly what kind of threat she was facing.
“You’re bloody stupid. Do you realize that?”
He did not turn to her when he stood. She forced her legs to remain still even as the coil yanked her chest hard, begging for retreat.
“Here you are, traipsing through the woods with some little kid who is wholly unstable, yet housing enough power to cause his own creator to tremble at a mere mention of his name… And you think you are safe? You are a bloody, ignorant fool!”
She realized then that he knew she was aware that he was no longer himself. Sable breathed deep before choosing her response carefully.
“I was well aware of exactly what I was getting myself into when I asked that powerful, intelligent man to accompany me on this journey,” she was thankful when her voice was unfaltering.
Kiro threw back his head, barking out a laugh that punched her ribs, reverberating up each bone until it reached her throat.
“Intelligent,” he repeated, chuckling mockingly.
He flinched suddenly, scratching at his shoulder, frowning, and twitching the same way his hands had done earlier.
“What’s intelligent about wasting away over centuries, playing with vermin like you?”
Kiro was hardly speaking above a whisper while he squirmed visibly, rolling his shoulders as if they were in pain.
Sable tilted her head to the side, calmly letting her lips curve up as he grew more and more irritable in Gabe’s skin.
“Problem with your host,” she asked, slipping her hand behind her back to touch the short blade tucked away in a deep pocket of her cloak.
He cast her a glare that chilled her blood. It was the first time he’d truly looked into her eyes, pinning her with haunting obsidian. He was fixated now, mild annoyance creeping into his face while she began to fall inside the sticky tar in his gaze.
Without turning away, he raised his hands to claw at his chest, shredding the shirt into ribbons. Pale, sickly skin glowed in the firelight. Sable respectfully turned her eyes away once she registered the angry, purple scarring telling her a story across his flesh that she knew Gabe did not want her to see yet.
“You fool,” it was a dark chuckle far too close, delivering warm breath across her face.
His fist appeared suddenly around her throat with bruising force. Her coil snapped in her chest, shooting her arm up at the same time as her eyes had shifted to mirror the flames behind the demon. The blade slipped into his ribs as easy as a sigh while the ground fell away.
Kiro didn’t even blink. There was no registry either in action nor face that could so much as hint that he felt the blade. He continued to lift her higher with that one hand while she resorted to clawing at his wrist. Gabe’s lips wore a snarl while those perverse, black eyes ate her up whole and spit her back out.
Her mind started to retreat into that little girl who once allowed hands to wander filthy skin. It tried to escape into the memory of indifference and no resistance. It knew exactly what was coming even as this mockery of Gabe leaned close, brushing her cheek with his nose.
“I wonder what you mean to him,” he whispered. “If he’ll rip new scars into his flesh to make up for your pain when he returns too late again? Do you think he cares about you enough for such a pathetic reaction? Would he weep like a child?”
“Not a chance,” she forced out, spitting the words with scorn. “He’d barely flinch.”
Kiro laughed, low and sinister.
“Still, it would be rude of me to leave without even giving him a humble gift. Let’s allow him to decide your worth later, for now, you can help me ‘shop’.”
That door her mind chased was wide open far in the back at the end of a blackened corridor and the coil was dragging her towards it where it could lie to itself about ‘happy places’ to hide away in.
But she slammed it shut. Gabe’s clo-caillea did not run and hide. It was time for Kiro to meet the stone witch.
“You seem to have me mistaken,” she struggled to release each word in a growl around his hold.
He flicked his wrist and a moment later, she struck a tree, shooting lightning through her spine. She swallowed her groan while crumpling to the cold earth, cheek pressed to soft grass. Her back grew warm and she knew her wounds had been torn open.
Still, she scrambled to her feet, fighting off a haze from what she saw. Kiro was licking his glittering blood off her blade. His black eyes appraised her above a sick grin which seemed to pervert Gabe’s once handsome face.
“Where is my mistake, enlighten me,” he growled, stalking about her in a semi circle like a lion eyeing its prey.
“In thinking that I am alone.”
Kiro barked his wicked laughter again, though she knew he would, and took that opportunity to shoot her arm into the sky. Her hand clutched around something solid above and as she pulled it down, a pale rapier materialized as if the sky itself were its sheath. The blade shone with a tinge of purple in its long, thin, folded metal.
“I don’t want to kill him,” she sent cautiously to her commander. “Guide this blade, let me release him without losing Gabe.”
~Trust in me and you will strike true. This sword will only harm the evil within. The body’s wounds will seal themselves again. Gabe is safe.~
She needed no further assurance.
Kiro stood off to her left, watching her with a thin smile. His hands flexed again, getting used to that skin which was likely tighter than his true form could find comfort in.
“Would you truly harm the man you thought you could save, and honestly do it with a stick?” He was mocking her, pulling his lips into a grin too wide. “What do you do when you must protect the very thing which will destroy everything?”
“You give yourself too much credit for someone trapped in a malnourished, immortal body with incredible powers you can’t even access! How can you say Gabe is weak when all you have is claws?”
His growl was her only warning before he leapt for her. She closed her eyes, breathed in deep. Warmth came at her chest, the impact only seconds away. A quick step following the curve of a circle at her feet took her off the path. Her waist turned in the direction the impact pushed her to, allowing the very claws she mocked to barely graze her collarbone. The sword followed the shape of her circles, singing on the wind and striking flesh.
She heard the grunt that signalled pain and opened her fire tainted eyes.
No blood coated her sword.
Yet there was a strange, clear ooze dripping from his hip.
She leveled the blade, its point steadied at his heart across the gap while she waited, ready.
“Oh this is the most fun I’ve had in ages,” Kiro declared, throwing his arms out to each side. “It is a rare day when my prey fights back!”
“You talk like you’ve already won. You can’t even subdue me,” she spat back.
He lunged for her again, reaching out like he would choke her and spanning the distance too fast for her senses to register. His lips twisted up into that sadistic grin, but she only smiled in response. Her legs moved on impulse alone, pivoting from the path once more, and slicing the weapon across his shoulder blade while it sang its deadly melody. More clear goo oozed with a black tint in its center from the long wound which crossed over a thick, purple scar spanning from the opposite shoulder down to the hip below her cut. She breathed slowly, readying for the drive, ignoring the twinge of sorrow that reared up seeing the thick mark across his skin.
He spun back, jumping at her with a furious roar.
“You will die,” it seemed more like a desperate command which gave her more strength.
His wrist struck the rapier, barely noticing the wound that opened while shoving her back and effectively pinning her against another tree. Her spine screamed against the assault, forcing her to remember the building that was dropped on it only a few days earlier. His face came inches from hers while he breathed out raggedly across her face.
“How dare a tiny roach think it can run from me,” he whispered hoarsely. Then he moved closer yet, his nose touching hers, lips inches from her own. She breathed in rancid air, her skin skittering with old memories, but she held her ground.
“How dare you raise a blade against me! I am a god, you insignificant coward!”
Sable spat in his face, declaring with more power than she possessed, “you have no control over that body, and you are no god! You are nothing but a sack of skin and bones dancing like a fool.”
She felt a warm stirring rush through her chest, up into her throat, and her voice released a blue wave that shoved him back. It was only a step, but it was enough for her to spin out from his path, and slice down his arm as she moved away. He faced her with a flash of confusion written across his face before it could be hidden by rage.
“I don’t need his powers, he is pathetic, and you will regret taunting me you whore!”
At this, she howled a loud cackle into their encampment, feeling a tingling warmth spill through her rapidly.
~Call Gabe back now. Remind him that he has the strength this one lacks. Remind him of who he is.~
Sable stepped forward, pulling the thin sword back while Kiro lunged again.
“GIVE HIM BACK,” she screamed. “YOU CAN’T HAVE HIS BODY, HE’S STRONGER THAN YOU!”
And the needle shaped blade sank to the hilt straight into his chest, earning a gasp from the mouth now gurgling with clear ooze.
“It’s all up to you now. I gave him back to you, now you have to lock him up and come out,” she whispered, hanging her head. “Come back to me, Gabe. Come back.”
He stumbled on his suddenly awkward legs as the blade disintegrated and a strange calm settled in her chest, telling her that the threat was gone. Moments later though, stark realization froze her solid. She hardly noticed him gasping a few feet away as if air was a new concept to him. Her hands were shaking violently.
She’d just faced the strongest evil the world has feared for decades.
And she survived.
Sable’s throat constricted, shooting fluid into her eyes. No mortal has ever lived to talk of facing Kiro Baroch. Then again, none of his victims had a loving master standing behind them.
A quiet sob broke out of her as she chanced a glance up.
Brown and blue stared at her in pained wonder. Her breath rushed out in a haze of relief.
“Thank you, my lord,” she shakily sent through her secret heart. The gentle response allowed those glittering tears to free fall along her rose-tinted cheeks.
~I give authority to those who obey. You have brought me great joy tonight, my darling girl. Thank your own self as well.~
Sable let out a sound halfway between a groan and a crazed laugh. Gabe stared at her, numb to the wounds his body was beginning to seal. She did not think there would be a moment when she would be so glad to see those strange eyes.
They stood in a silence only broken by the crackling fire, neither knowing what to do in the aftermath of a nightmare that should have left her with much less life and far more bruises. He took in that purple ink blooming with black edges across her throat, knowing that his long fingers would fit into each painted wound. Her hands were still shaking while she stood transfixed, yet he could not find any trace of fear inside her eyes.
Finally, she collapsed to the grass below, knees striking with harsh thuds, and fresh tears screamed down her cheeks. Gabe raised his hand as if to reach out for her, but dropped it again, hopeless. What does one do to comfort another after their own hands were the cause of that person’s anguish?
“What did you do to send him back,” he asked in a barely audible whisper.
Sable couldn’t find her voice to give him an answer, only stared at him with those huge eyes of flame.
“You should be dead,” he whispered, horrified at the resonating truth in that statement.
She nodded slowly, her expression slack and stunned.
“What did he do to you?”
At this, she finally closed her eyes and pulled in a long, tormented breath. He was trembling when she returned her gaze to him, calm and monotonous.
“He wanted to kill me… slowly. He said he would be leaving you a ‘humble gift’.”
Gabe’s jaw locked as he turned away from his guilt. Sable stood on brittle legs.
“I know that it wasn’t you, Gabe.”
The sound he released was meant to be a mocking laugh, but it was strangled, coming out like the cry of a wounded animal.
“It was my hands that bruised you, Sable. Mine that wanted to kill you,” his shoulders began to quiver while his voice rose to near hysteria. “Do you know what he does? He wouldn’t have simply beaten you! His joy is in breaking not the body, but the spirit inside. He would have made you so ashamed of your skin that you would have begged him to kill you.
“And then he would have left you broken, dying, and used for me to find. He would have made me watch you die. He would have made sure that I knew that you were so tainted, your master would grow sick if they looked upon you and the unfathomable evil that stained you. And it would have been my hands that did that to you.”
He collapsed, striking the earth with his fist. Sable watched, her throat was nearly closed off as she realized how truly blessed she was that she survived. Gabe’s shoulders violently shook while he howled into the silent forest.
“Look around you! Even when I am myself, my power grows strength in my rage. Do you understand me? I am a monster.”
As if to prove his point, the wind was whistling through the trees and whipping her curls across her face. It rushed to him, dancing in circles about his crumpled form and pressed against him as if it were holding him in concerned arms.
The sight settled her nerves almost immediately as she realized with clarity like cold water to her face that even Gabe was wrong.
“It isn’t rage that calls on his power,” she concluded aloud. “It is his psychic relationship to that power which calls it to him like a lover to comfort him.”
Her lips pulled up into the barest smile, watching his wild hair dance while the breeze wrapped tight around him in a strong embrace. Slowly, it caressed the crumpled spider web of scarring across his lower back, easing the tension in him even as he let out a wretched scream of his anguish.
“You give him such power over you, even now after you were given back control,” she carefully stated, slowly coming towards him.
That wind lashed out when she drew close, which in turn widened her gentle smile.
“Do you realize that he can’t use any of your abilities?”
As swift as if she’d slapped him, Gabe froze.
She stepped closer, raising her hand to the protective gale like it was a dog she was to offer her scent to, in order to earn its trust. It parted after a moment’s hesitation, warning her with a whip across her legs to be gentle with its friend.
“He doesn’t know how to call the wind or read my mind or shape the shadows into powerful objects. He can only use the flesh because the power will not show him this respect and love.”
Gabe turned to her, staring in awe when she kneeled down with a visible flinch when her wounds protested. He could not fathom her stepping through this cyclone twisting about him. The smile on her lips was so kind, he felt it strike his chest and send cracks splintering from the impact.
“The wind is a wild thing, constantly changing shape and ferocity, never contained to any single place. It cannot be commanded. It will only remain by love and love alone. Why else would it desperately rush to bring you comfort this way?”
It had softened its intensity as Gabe regained his peace, yet still it pressed against him in hesitation.
“Are you alright now,” it inquired with grave concern.
He stared at her, speechless that once again she was teaching him of his own self in ways that he had never understood before. Sable reached out, placing a hand over his heart.
“I wasn’t the one who gave you control back,” she whispered cautiously.
She pulled her smile up into a gentle, playful grin, “what you have with the wind, I have with the one who made that wind.”
Instead of scoffing, he was reminded of a time when he’d grabbed her and shook her in rage when she’d tried to tell him where her power came from. What was it that she’d told him then? Let that incredible mind of yours prove which of us is true. He narrowed his eyes at her, suspicion replacing guilt for the moment.
“Do you realize that the only time I have regained control has been at the hands of either an angel hybrid with the power to manipulate a soul or the first arch demon bashing my skull in until the body is too weak to sustain him? And you want me to believe faith brought me back?”
Her amusement hardly faltered while she shrugged. “Would you prefer the story of a regular human woman defeating him with nothing but her witticisms and charm?”
He let a chuckle loose, shaking his head as he told her, “you’re insane, you know.”
“You do realize that’s basically the pot calling the kettle black, correct?”
The seemingly easy humor felt strained between them. Silence washed it away as if a curtain had pulled back suddenly, revealing solemn eyes, and a hard frown while Gabe whispered with grave sincerity, “I don’t know how you did it, but I do appreciate that you gave me back control. I don’t know what I would have done had he –“
He couldn’t finish, setting his jaw tight. Images flashed behind his eyes of her beautiful hair wild and matted with mud while her body screamed at him from hundreds of bleeding wounds, crimson pooling between her legs. Purple blotches all over her arms, her legs, her belly. Her orange eyes losing their spark, pale, and swollen nearly closed. Lips busted, throat screamed raw. He couldn’t say any of it. His hands trembled.
Sable moved her hand from his chest to his arm, pulling him towards her slow enough that he could have moved away. She embraced him with her long arms, holding him close and letting him rest his head on her shoulder. One hand reached up to smooth his thick hair down in a way someone once did for her, far too long ago.
“I’m so sorry, Gabe,” she murmured into his ear. “I’m sorry that you are forced to suffer this way.”
Silence overtook them as her shirt grew wet beneath his clenched eyes. She did not say another word, and he did not make a sound. Each drop onto cloth spoke more than enough for the two of them.