Hand of Death 3
“I understand now. You don’t know the laws of the Choir of angels.” Sebastian goes on as if he hasn’t heard me, but he places his feet on the pegs anyway. I sit in front of him and start the engine, drowning out any further conversation. I don’t care about the laws of the Choir. Sebastian’s a victim and any ruling body that can’t acknowledge the victimization of one of their own who’s been browbeaten into submission and forced to perform acts against his will—well, they don’t merit my allegiance. I’m the Hand of Death. I decide when death is deserved, and this is not one of those times.
His hands wrap around me; he clutches me tightly as we begin our ride. Despite the fact that I’ve secured lodgings in an older but clean motel nearby, and the ride takes little or no time, Sebastian falls asleep on the back of the bike. With one hand I hold his clasped hands together upon my chest. I feel his head loll slightly, back and forth, against my back, between my shoulder blades. I have to work to keep the ride smooth, and prevent my charge from taking a nasty fall.
Despite myself, I consider that maybe I’m making a mistake here by not killing him. He obviously thinks he should die. Who am I to second guess a ruling body of his peers? I pull into the parking lot of the motel and park the bike, carefully grabbing hold of the man as the bike settles onto the kickstand. I get off and draw Sebastian more securely into my arms. No, I’m not making a mistake. Victims don’t deserve to die, regardless of how they see themselves.
I carry him to the door. Holding him clutched in one arm, I swipe the keycard in the door with the other, giving the door a push when the light turns green. It strikes me again how little he weighs. How good he smells. How completely he fits in my arms, and yet he’s an angel; perfection’s what they strive for. In the physical form, there can be a no more flawless a specimen on the face of the earth. His hair a deep brown, lush with sunkissed blond ends. His eyes are closed as if in prayer, but when open—they’re a beautiful soft moss green. He’s small; five foot five or six at the most. Yet his body shows what once was strong lean muscle, and will be again, if I have anything to say about it.
I lay him on one of the beds and close the door behind me, latching it before I return to sit by him. I pick up one of his hands and carefully examined the silver manacles on each of his wrists. They have to come off. They’re inscribed with magic symbols, and will eventually draw others to us. Being silver, I can’t touch them directly, but with my leather riding gloves on, there’s no hazard.
Sebastian’s skin is raw beneath the cuffs. They were designed to be uncomfortable, as well as to keep their charge under control. I go to my bags and draw out a camera, snapping pictures of the inscriptions on the shackles as well as Sebastian’s state: undernourished, dirty, and unconscious. There’s no doubt he was their prisoner.
Having taken pictures for the record, I pull the bolt cutters from among my tools, and cut them from Sebastian’s wrists as carefully as I can. I don’t want to harm him further, but they clearly have to go. The symbols flash in the silver, sparking under the blade of the bolt cutters, as the final snip breaks the ring and they disintegrate into silver dust. Holding my breath, I gather the dust, sealing it in a ziplock bag before disposing of it in the trash can outside the room. The magic dissipated and the silver disposed of, we should be safe for a little while.
Still Sebastian sleeps. I cover him with a blanket and pickup my cell phone. I don’t want to disrupt his rest, so I step outside the room to call my superiors. If an error’s been made, they need to know about it and dispatch a rescue team to deal with Sebastian, and begin his recovery.
“Madeline, sweetheart, how’s it hanging?” I greeted Maddie. The succubus who runs our dispatch department.
“Snake, you viper. Another job done. That was quick, but I suppose one wizard’s hardly a challenge for the likes of you.”
“About that, Maddie, I need to talk to Sanders. Something’s seriously wrong with this one. The intel was completely wrong. The mark’s one of the fallen. An innocent.”
“I’m sorry, dollface, Sander’s isn’t here. The council’s in session and has been for two days. Nobody in or out until they’re finished. It’ll be another week and a half before the doors are opened.”
“Well, how’d I get this assignment then, Maddie? Nobody’s supposed to be dispatched on a kill while the council sits.” It’s all I can do to keep from snarling at her. I know it’s not her fault, but this is completely outside of regular protocol.
“I don’t know what to tell you, hon. Sanders gave me orders to dispatch you just before he entered chambers. I can’t do anything further until they come back out.”
“What do you mean, nothing further?”
“I can’t send you any backup, no cleanup crews, no recon, no rescue teams… I got nothing until those chamber doors reopen. Honey, you’re on your own. So take care of yourself and keep your head down. If you think this angel’s been wrongly accused, then baby, you have to keep him alive.”
“Son of a bitch!”
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