The Bloodlust Power
Eros stepped inside the hall, taking in the decadent details of the room. Last night, he’d been to Kireh’s Winter Palace—it was the palace the ehol had reserved primarily for business, but tonight, Kireh called an emergency meeting at his Throne Palace in Summer Court.
Eros never expected to fly all the way here. He’d left the comfort of his home in Kidul to come face to face with the one regency he’d hated the most. But he pressed through it. Kireh never invited anyone to his private residence. This was the first time Eros was ever going to see the place.
He’d been impressed so far. The entrance to the palace was exquisite, with landing balconies built inside the palace rather than outside. The lobby area was even outfitted with the latest technology. Summer Court was notorious for being behind times, so to have come across an iris scanner took Eros by surprise.
Eros tucked in his wings and pulled a seat. He and Adriel were the only ones here besides Kireh.
“Is there a problem?” Eros asked.
“We should wait until the others get here,” Kireh stated.
Eros slipped into his chair. He wondered why Kireh would’ve called them all here again. Last time, he practically tried to accuse Levi of the sudden deaths of the sanyas. Eros shook his head at the thought.
Sanyas died all the time. Maybe the uptick was more because of the seasonal changes, but Levi couldn’t answer for everything. The ehol was a bit headstrong in how he did things, and maybe his punishments were a bit severe, but Eros would never accuse him of being responsible for the sanyas’ deaths.
There was no way Levi would be here if that was true.
But Eros still couldn’t push the possibility out of his mind. In truth, lately, Levi had been distant. From all of them.
Soon, the other ehols started pouring in. Luce and Yugi came first, followed by Bry and Levi. One by one, they took their seats. Yugi seemed amused by the sight of it all, as usual, but Levi was obviously distraught.
“Is everyone here?” Kireh asked. He glanced around, then perched himself on the table and folded his wings into his back. “This is about Levi,” he stated a-matter-of-factly.
“What about me?” Levi’s eyes darted toward Kireh.
Eros quietly thanked the Divine Ones he sat at the farthest end of the room—near the door. The hostility that drained in Levi’s voice was one to keep him on edge. Maybe what Kireh was accusing him of was true. Besides Luce, Eros was the only person close to Levi.
He’d heard a few rumors here and there about sanyas going missing, but the only thing Eros could attest to was the punishments Levi distributed. They were a bit harsh, Eros would admit. Maybe unusually cruel, but crimes needed punishment. At least, that’s what Levi said the last time Eros had questioned him.
“About all of you, actually.” Kireh lowered his eyes. “You must give up using your Sẹda. An order of the Divine Throne.”
Eros’s lips tightened. Give up his Sẹda? All of them?
Eros shuffled closer to the edge of his chair.
Why? The only thing he ever used his power for was to create new technology and to fuel his Kingdom. Maybe he’d play around and construct small items to enhance himself, but Eros never used his Sẹda for anything else.
“Why?” Adriel picked the question right out of Eros’s mind. With that being said, Eros tightened his mental shields.
“It is much too dangerous. At least for now, at this stage. Sẹda is too great for your minds to handle.”
“But we barely do anything with it,” Adriel argued, pushing aside the dreadloc dangling over his face.
“I’ve been using my power just fine,” Levi protested.
“I see.” Kireh’s sight was set on Levi, and there was an underlying emotion in it Eros struggled to make out. “But you use your power to suppress your people, and they suffer because of that.”
Air caught in Eros’s throat.
Goosebumps rose on his skin, and a swelter of cold sweat beaded on his forehead. Maybe the rumors were true. The cruel punishments Eros saw with his eyes; Eros didn’t want to believe Levi was using his power to torture the sanyas. Their crimes were mediocre at best. Eros shifted his gaze to Levi. The ehol was stiff, his eyes glued to Kireh, and his face emotionless.
“No one complains,” Levi said.
Kireh’s lips formed somewhat of a smile, but Eros could tell the ehol was upset about it. “I’ve heard rumors you kill the sanyas mercilessly.”
“Rumors are just that.” Levi sat up in his seat. “What does Bry say?” His eyes darted to the ehol who lounged on the sofa opposite the rest of the ehols.
“It was Bry’s suggestion.” Kireh made no tarry to reply.
Bry was staring out the window, his gaze fixed on whatever was happening in the lower courts of Kireh’s residence. The ehol was the strangest one, by far. Eros couldn’t make him out. He was timely and obviously well-learned.
He was the oldest among the ehols, but the air of mystery surrounding him blocked everything else out. The ehol even refused to let his embers flutter about him, as though his Sẹdawas something too precious to let roam.
Eros shut his eyes; the image of blood sprawled across his mind. Sanya blood. He smelled the iron thick in his nose, burning his skin with each breath he took.
He remembered. The child Levi held, her limp body dangling between his fingers. “She stole,” Levi had said, his words callous and filled with poison. “She stole … bread.”
Eros choked the tears back.
“Would you prefer your core ripped out?” Bry didn’t exactly address anyone, but Eros knew those words were meant for Levi.
“I prefer to be left alone. How I do things have always worked for me,” Levi replied.
Blood and oranges. Eros smelled it, the odor taking the shape of light pink embers that trailed Levi. Blood dripped from his alabaster fingers, the young child lifeless in his arm.
She stole the bread because she was starving. But why? Why would she be starving? If Levi was her Ọba, he could’ve easily helped her family. But he chose to kill her instead.
“Never did I dispute that. But if believing such pleases you, then so be it. Blood will be on your shoulders if the Divine Ones find fault with the way you do things.”
“It’s always the Divine Ones with you. When would you state how you truly feel? You know my way is right. There are legends—”
“Legends can be interpreted in any twisted way you desire.” Bry cut Levi off.
Eros opened his eyes. Bry now stood in the center of the room, too close to Eros for comfort, but his back was turned. Thank the Divine Ones.
“But if how I truly feel is what you want to hear, then I will tell you this: This meeting is a cause of the Divine Ones and Kireh.” There was a pause. “Not me.” That was a threat.
Eros’s chest tightened. He knew exactly what Bry meant; he felt it in his skin. This was the meeting of chance. Everything in Eros told him Bry was giving them an opportunity to make amends for their actions—but if Levi was the only one committing these atrocious crimes, why did the rest of them have to be punished?
“And the death of the sanyas. I have been given reports that the sanyas from your Kingdom have suddenly been dying. You haven’t given either Kireh or me a response to that.” There was a bitterness in Bry’s words.
Bry’s eyes glowed silver, his gaze stuck on Levi as he spoke each word. Eros trembled. Fear kept him frozen to his seat. What if Bry could kill Levi? That was true power—power only the Divine Ones had.
What if Bry threatened to kill all of them? There was a time in history when an ehol had murdered a slew of Titans. Stories were written, and songs were sung. Eros gulped. He’d never witnessed any of the more powerful Elohim kill another ehol, but it could be done. It was done before. And if Bry was threatening…
“Also, I’ve observed,” Bry continued, “your inability to properly handle your Sẹda is just shallow water compared to the insanity it can cause if used excessively. Insanity I fear has already begun to manifest in some of you.”
The hall fell silent. Deafeningly silent.
Eros quickly glanced in Levi’s direction. The already-pale ehol grew paler. Levi knew fear, but he was always the one to cause it—never to show it.
“Insane?” Yugi repeated. “How?”
“Your mental capacity as ehols is built to withstand many things. As gods, you have transcended even time itself, but as much power as you have come to gain, you lack the comprehension of it, and as such, it steals from you the ability to control it. With each use, your minds deteriorate. You become more mortal and ignorant in your understanding. You slowly die.”
Yugi’s face went blank. “So, because we’re not old enough to use our own Sẹda, we’re going crazy? Am I hearing this right?”
“Half of it.” Bry’s tone held amusement, but his face was stoic. “You are old enough. You are just an idiot.” That was meant directly for Yugi. “For the rest of you, he is right.”
Yugi raised a questionable eyebrow to Bry.
“Does this ring true for you as well?” Eros pulled himself up in his seat. Images of dead sanyas had already saturated his mind, picking at his skin with guilt. If he stayed silent, engulfed in the memories of the dead mortals, he’d only slip further into the hole of death brewing inside him.
“No.” Bry let the word slip out with no remorse. “I had no reason to use my Sẹda in my Youth.” It was the first time Bry had ever mentioned anything of his past. “I was able to control it. Age has fused my power with me. I have become it.”
“Sounds silly to me.” Levi got up. “You can’t become power.” Levi pressed his black coat and strode toward the door.
“Sit.” Bry formed the word as still as the calm sea, but it was wrapped in something more potent than power. It was almost like the word itself snaked toward Levi and forced him back to his seat. Levi’s face turned red, sweat beading on his forehead as he carefully sat into his seat, unable to fight against whatever Bry did to him.
Eros clutched his arm at the sight of it. If Bry could do that with spoken word alone, what else could he do? Bry was indeed powerful, his Sẹda unlike any other, but Eros couldn’t describe it.
A slight smile formed on Bry’s lips. “It’s true that to you I cannot become power, but if you ever live to see my Age, then you would think otherwise.” His gaze shifted to Yugi. “To give up power isn’t a hard thing to do. It is merely a question of trust and greed. We all want power, but we don’t need it.”
“And what if we don’t stop using it?” Yugi pushed.
“Then consequences will follow. But for now, I’ve given you the choice.”