A Diary of Gods (previous version)

Status: 2nd Draft

A Diary of Gods (previous version)

Status: 2nd Draft

A Diary of Gods (previous version)

Book by: spear-shake

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Genre: Fantasy

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Content Summary


Aiden de Clare's found himself in a place few individuals have ever been.

 
 

Content Summary


Aiden de Clare's found himself in a place few individuals have ever been.

Chapter Content - ver.0

Submitted: July 21, 2021

Comments: 1

In-Line Reviews: 2

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.0

Submitted: July 21, 2021

Comments: 1

In-Line Reviews: 2

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Chapter IV

Manhattan’s crowded streets passed them by in a blur as they drove in Aiden’s Cadillac. Aiden sat in the back seat of the SUV, squirming in anticipation of the coming engagement. His eyes went to Calypso.

‘’What did your father do?’’ he asked.

Her eyes snapped to him. ‘’What did they tell you?’’ She wore a suit again, though on her it looked like a knight’s armor. She always looks ready for a brawl. The suit to guard her against anyone who’d think to use her femininity against her and the shaved head to keep an unobstructed view of her opponent in a knife-fight. Even her high heels didn’t get in the way; she moved like Cat woman, swift and agile, always on her balance. He would have thought her a robot since her practiced charm didn’t fool him for a second, but sometimes when she thought he wasn’t looking soft smiles lit up her features. She’d stretch like an old drunk and yawn during their early-morning meetings, flick imaginary hair from her face with the exaggerated elegance of those old Hollywood divas, and grumble endlessly when he made a mistake.

‘’Nothing,’’ he told her, worried about her reaction, but not enough to stop. ‘’Except what Peter said the other days.’’

She looked away and stared out the window. ‘’Ah,’’

‘’What did he do?’’ Aiden asked again. His eyes drifted down to her lap; she clenched her hands so hard her knuckles turned white.

‘’I wouldn’t know.’’ She offered a cynical smile. ‘’They refuse to tell me.’’

‘’You’re kidding.’’

‘’Apparently, he was some kind of a traitor. Worked with the Russians and the Chinese, and all that,’’ she told him but didn’t believe a word of it.

‘’Why didn’t you tell me any of this?’’ he asked in a wary tone. The beige leather of his seat felt slippery beneath his fingers.

‘’Did you tell me anything about your mother?’’ she bit out.

Aiden reared as though she’d slapped him. He blinked at her and looked away.

‘’Aiden—‘’

‘’The woman hates me. Never tried very hard to hide it, either. It’s all about my father, I think. She never told me much.’’ It all came rushing out of him. ‘’After I gained my inheritance, I thought we’d have a chance. Father was dead, after all. She took the money I offered and disappeared. Off to travel the world like she always dreamed.’’ He looked back her way to gauge her reaction.

‘’I’m sorry, Aiden. I shouldn’t have said that.’’ Calypso replied, her eyes on the floor. ‘’But it’s a sore topic.’’

‘’It’s fine.’’ He offered a brittle smile. So much for that attempt.

A cacophony of voices rose outside. He looked out the window to find hundreds crowding the street, holding signs and slowly marching towards Wall Street. ‘’I’m afraid this is as far as I can take you,’’ Bernard informed them from the front seat, eyeing the protesters in suspicion, wondering who’ll be the one to scratch the car.

‘’That’s alright,’’ Aiden told him and got out. The sounds and the smells swept over him and took the foul taste of their conversation with them. The shouting of the people, the smell of the Jalal stands down the street on the corner of Liberty Plaza – they all overwhelmed his desire to sulk. Calypso joined him as they navigated the chanting crowd that demanded financial equality and fiscal responsibility. Thank God I brought my Yankee hat.

A noise rose in his ears, like static but much louder. He tugged on his ear, but it didn’t go away. ‘’Can you hear that?’’ he asked Calypso.

‘’Hear what?’’

‘’Never mind.’’ Between the shouting and the people speaking over megaphones, he’d have a hard time explaining it.

He elbowed their way through the crowd of the New York youth; some wore nothing but undershirts or no shirts at all, enjoying the cool day to its fullest. Others held cans of beer in one hand and signs in the other. The crowd moved between the buildings like a river, small groups of people gathering on the sidewalks to watch them go by. Aiden held onto Calypso’s hand as they struggled through the chaos of bodies, his eyes searching for Peter, their guide for the day.

They emerged at the head of the crowd and spotted him a block away on the corner of Zuccotti Park, standing before a line of policemen in visibility vests who’d come to stop their advance on Wall Street. Squad cars and police vans were parked behind them, mounted officers watching them approach.

Peter wore a faded black hoodie and some jeans. He kept his hands in his pockets, his hood over his head, and his eyes on the ground. ‘’Good afternoon, Aiden,’’ he nodded without looking up. ‘’Calypso, what are you doing here?’’

‘’I went for a walk,’’ she replied as she eyed the silent policemen, who looked at everything but them.

Peter shrugged and kept his eyes on the ground.

‘’What am I supposed to do?’’ Aiden asked him.

‘’Nothing. Move around, get a feel for the crowd, and pay attention to the rising emotions. Right now we have members stationed all around Manhattan, herding people this way. Keep a lookout and jump to help if anything goes wrong.’’

‘’Alright,’’ Taking Peter’s silence as dismissal, he moved away to the side of the street. He and Calypso came to stand before the sculpture of giant red dice and watched the crowd reach the line of policemen.

Aiden kept his gaze on Peter. Where Calypso had done much to inform him of the power of impulses, and their ability to evoke a single emotion within the target, he’d seen little and less of the power of frequencies. They required a far greater level of focus and a far greater level of understanding of the human mind. Impulses influenced, whereas frequencies assumed control, which is why Order members most often used them to manipulate large crowds.

‘’Should be interesting,’’ she murmured as the protesters came to a halt, fists in the air as they shouted.

Hope not. He kept his eyes on Peter who stood still as a statue in the crowd, ignored and untouched. He did nothing, but the moment of action approached. The crowd swelled with each moment; they came alone and they came in pairs, two dozen streams of human bodies emerging from every direction to add to the growing wave. Police officers called into their radios, demanding reinforcements while casting wary looks at the protesters. They expected a couple of hundred enraged kids. Now they stared in the face of a crowd that could soon number thousands.

Aiden and Calypso had to keep retreating until their backs were pressed against the Brown Brothers Harriman building as the crowd looked for room at the head of the protest. If this is a river, that dam is too small, he thought as the policemen screamed over the din of the crowd, pushing back the few protesters who looked too enthusiastic to pay Wall Street bankers a visit while pointing their fingers at others in warning.

The noise of the crowd rose slowly like a bubbling cauldron and then Aiden heard it. No wonder they call it the symphony. A song rang through the air, one only the members could hear. The violins, the piano, the bass, they all played in concert, carrying a message that screamed righteousness. But it remained cool and controlled. A guard against darker, base emotions that had the power to derail the entire affair.

The crowd came to stand in place; they still shouted and waved their banners, but no one sought to push to the front as if they’d all been assigned seating. Peter slowly raised the intensity and goosebumps ran down Aiden’s arm. A desperate wish to join these people and help them in their righteous cause arose in him.

Police vans drove up from behind the picket line. Men wearing riot gear jumped out the back and ran to reinforce the other officers. No one cared. They’d stopped pushing against the policemen but held their ground, shouting slogans as if they were in a military parade.

Jesus Christ. Peter was but another speck at the front of the crowd, but to Aiden, he seemed a giant. If he looked up, he could see Peter’s hand hovering above the street, a thousand strings dangling from his fingers, connected to the back of every protester.

The plan was to keep it up, and slowly raise the intensity until the protesters burned themselves out and retreated home of their own accord, slump-shouldered and bereft of hope. All to give me a good show. One he wanted to see. If I should ever find myself dancing with the devil, I want to know the tune.

A note rang through the air.

One, single note, so wrong it sounded as if someone had brought a saw to a performance of the New York Philharmonic. Aiden and Calypso both flinched when they heard it. His eyes searched the crowd and found Peter had broken his focus, looking around with frantic eyes.

Someone had come to oppose him. Someone had come for battle.

Don’t accept it! But Peter had no choice; he raised his hand in the air, and the response whistled through the crowd. He fought to recapture the atmosphere, and the music regained its power, but it stood as a flimsy bulwark against a creeping danger. A dark thundering began to sound in the distance. The power of it battered against Peter’s defenses with reckless fury, pushing him back inch by inch, gaining ground, and passing over the people in the street.

The crowd became restless at first. They stopped shouting political slogans and replaced them with curses. The thunder in the distance grew and with it came anger, and fury, and violence. The diamonds beneath Aiden’s shirt grew warm.

‘’Aiden, we have to go!’’ Calypso screamed over the shouting.

‘’What about Peter?!’’

‘’He’s committed. Come on.’’ She grabbed him by the hand. ‘’We have to go.’’

‘’No, not yet.’’ He wrenched his hand from her grasp. The music had become so loud he reflexively looked up, certain that streaks of lightning flashed above him, the thunder like cannon fire in his ears. The power of the opponent made the hair on the back of his neck stand up. He doesn’t stand a chance. He looked for Peter in vain. He disappeared like a sailor in a sea in storm, and with every second his song lost strength. If I commit, I go down with him.

The first bottle flew through the air at the police, and now the shields of the Riot Squad came up, and the batons came out. They pulled back a bit to allow the two buildings on both sides of the street to guard their flank and held their ground like the Spartans at Thermopylae.

‘’Come on, Aiden, let’s go!’’ Calypso shouted now and pulled him through the crowd. He looked back; the people were throwing themselves against the shield wall of the police. A window shattered from a thrown rock as they passed it, and pandemonium reigned.

‘’Who’s doing this?’’ he shouted over the noise. The police fired tear-gas canisters into the crowd of protesters, but it did not stop them for a second. Berserkers. Viking’s most valuable contribution to the Order library.

Calypso didn’t answer him and kept pulling him along. People pushed against each other to get at the police and one of them came stumbling into him. Aiden pushed him off and kept going.

‘’Hey, where are you two bankers going?’’ someone called. Aiden looked back to find a disheveled man pointing his finger at them.

‘’Come,’’ Calypso led him straight into the mess of bodies. She snatched two Guy Fawkes masks off the ground. ‘’Now we’re one of them.’’

His heart pounded in his chest as they pushed through the mess of people, trying to reach the other side of the street. Aiden got hit in the back of his head by waving protesters, he stumbled left and right, yet in the middle of it, he somehow spotted the glint of a diamond.

‘’Calypso,’’ he called as his eyes tracked from the precious stone up the arm of the man who bore it. He wore a mask as well, but he stood still in the chaos, a mourner at a funeral while the world around him went mad.

He kept his eyes on him to the other side of the street. Some of the trees in Zuccotti Park were on fire, and protesters overturned one car after another. ‘’I know who’s doing this!’’ he shouted when Calypso kept pulling him on.

He looked around for anything that might help him and found an empty wine bottle on the ground. He reached down to pick it up, turned around to find the person in the crowd, and chucked it at his head without even thinking.

It hit him right above the ear and he staggered to the side. The rolling thunder stopped as if he’d flipped a switch; fear returned to the eyes of people, the tear gas made itself known and the danger of the moment set in.

They did not withdraw at once; some still pressed against the line of policemen, but the trickle of retreating protesters began. It was over. ‘’We need to find Peter!’’ he plowed through the people trying to get away without checking to see if she followed. His throat burned from the gas and he had to keep wiping his eyes to stop from crying. A policeman came at him when he approached the front lines, a baton in hand. Stop! Aiden snapped his fingers, tried to make him understand he meant no harm. The officer didn’t so much as flinch. Aiden ducked under the swing, but it grazed the top of his head and sent him stumbling to the ground.

He looked up, waiting for the next attack, his head pounding. An impulse sent the officer fleeing. A firm hand grabbed him by the arm and pulled him to his feet. He wheeled around only to find Winthrop standing before him. ‘’He’s not here, the police have already taken him away,’’ he said, his tone measured despite it all. ‘’Come with me.’’ He looked at Calypso and added. ‘’You too, Ms. Molon.’’

He took them to the other end of Zuccotti Park where a row of black Range Rovers waited for them. They got into the one in the middle and drove off. ‘’How’s Peter?’’

‘’He’s been rushed off to the hospital,’’ Winthrop replied from the front seat.

‘’Will he survive?’’ Calypso asked.

‘’We will see, though Mr. de Clare’s unorthodox solution might’ve given him a chance.’’

‘’You saw that?’’ Aiden demanded, rubbing his burning eyes. ‘’Why didn’t you help?’’

‘’We’d only gotten to the scene moments earlier, young man,’’ Winthrop’s voice held a clear note of warning.

Aiden fell back into his chair, too exhausted to argue. His throat burned and the world swam with every jerk of the car. Calypso fared no better, cursing under her breath until Winthrop passed them each a bottle of water. ‘’For your eyes.’’ he told them, then his eyes flickered to Aiden. ‘’And your head.’’

Aiden opened it and poured it into his mouth, taking deep gulps. The worst of the pain immediately disappeared; his eyes stopped burning, his throat didn’t feel as raw, and the headache went away.

‘’You went with empathy, didn’t you?’’ Calypso eyed him knowingly.

‘’I—I don’t know.’’ His memory of the cop wiggled at the back of his head and called him a liar.

She shook her head in disappointment and turned her attention to Winthrop. ‘’Where are we going?’’

‘’The hospital. Mr. Bosworth will need our assistance.’’

Aiden’s mind drifted off and the streets passed by in a blur. When they arrived at the hospital, one of Winthrop’s men guided him through its clinically white hallways, the air thick with the alcoholic smell of disinfectant. They dropped them off in the waiting room as Winthrop rushed off with Barbara and Lancing.

‘’He could die?’’ he asked Calypso as he sat against the wall, his face buried in his hands. She only gave him a nod, her eyes glued to the door Winthrop disappeared through an hour earlier. ‘’How could this happen?’’

‘’I don’t know.’’

‘’Why did he accept the challenge? He could’ve refused.’’

‘’And ended up humiliated before the Order. You don’t refuse a challenge, Aiden.’’

That took the fight out of him. His shoulders slumped. ‘’He asked me to help if anything went wrong.’’

‘’He meant if he lost control, not if he found himself in a duel to the death.’’ She took a deep breath and put her hand on his shoulder. ‘’You did the right thing. And you gave him a chance.’’

Fat lot of good it did him. The memory grew foggy in his mind, the overwhelming combination of adrenaline and fear distorting images in his head. He flinched when the door at the end of the hallway slammed open and Eddie came storming through. ‘’Where is he?’’ he shouted.

Aiden jumped to his feet to get in his way. ‘’It’s all right. The Archon’s in there helping him.’’ He held Eddie back when he tried to push past him.

‘’Whaddya mean it’s all right, they’re the ones who did this.’’ Eddie hissed and kept pushing against him.

‘’What are you talking about?’’ he struggled to hold him back. He glanced back at Calypso for some assistance but she stared at them with a blank face and didn’t move.

‘’Calm yourself, Edward.’’ A flappy man walked through the door. Short with a mature gut, Aiden knew him to be Eddie’s father at a glance. But where Eddie had a quality about him that spoke of a spine made of steel, his father waddled down the hallway like a rabbit chased by foxes.

Eddie shot him a nasty look but stopped fighting against Aiden’s hold. ‘’Apologies for this, Mr. de Clare, though I thank you for stopping Edward from doing something foolish.’’ his father said with a sheepish smile.

Aiden didn’t reply and kept his eyes on the son. I need to know what he’s talking about. ‘’Come with me.’’ He grabbed him gently by the arm and dragged him towards the elevators. ‘’Let’s get some fresh air.’’

They came out by the emergency exit. Eddie pulled out a pack of cigarettes and sucked on them as if he didn’t like the taste of air anymore. Aiden took the moment to get himself together. I don’t want to ask. ‘’Why would Winthrop want Peter dead?’’

‘’To send a message,’’ The rage went out of Eddie. He saw it would help no one, and he swayed on his feet when he lost the crutch it provided. ‘’The Priests don’t like the younger generation undermining their agenda.’’ He took a puff. ‘’And it’s worked. Georgia, Zara, June, and Devon were supposed to meet me here. They’ve gone to ground. They’ll never risk their powers while Winthrop’s killing everyone who opposes him.’’

Aiden frowned; for all his skills, the Archon still had to negotiate the politics of the Order to get his way. ‘’What about Peter’s father?’’

‘’He won’t do anything. Too frightened to try, though he’ll say it’s a matter of loyalty.’’

‘’What did you do to make them come after you in the first place?’’

‘’Nothing,’’ Eddie exclaimed. ‘’We did nothing. Nothing to undermine Winthrop, not even to voice our disapproval.’’

Being sneaky isn’t a good idea if you can’t tell when you’ve been caught. ‘’The Book? You stole it for Peter?’’

‘’Yeah,’’

‘’Any chance Barbara found out?’’

‘’That information’s too precious. She wouldn’t let us get away with it just to keep us from finding out they’re onto us.’’

He had to take his word for that. He wrung his hands and asked, ‘’Not even if she thought it’d check-mate you?’’

‘’This isn’t a fucking game,’’ Eddie raised his voice, then ducked his head when a pair of nurses looked their way. ‘’Peter’s up there dying.’’

‘’That’s not what I meant, and you know it.’’

‘’It’s more likely one of the others blabbed.’’ The fight drained out of him. The possibility of betrayal hurt worse than the pain; he looked into the distance to juggle the faces of his friends and wondered which one he had lost.

All of them. One betrayed them, but the others wouldn’t do anything about it. ‘’You need to keep cool,’’ Aiden whispered to him. ‘’Let’s take care of Peter first, but whatever you do, don’t go after Winthrop.’’

‘’Someone’s got to,’’ he dropped the cigarette and put it out with the heel of his shoe. ‘’Who else is going to? You? You’ve barely been here a week and you’re already playing it safe.’’

‘’Eddie...’’

‘’I know, I’m sorry.’’ He ran a hand over his face. ‘’You don’t understand. This is our duty. It’s what we were born for.’’

Aiden nodded as his thoughts drifted off. Take it easy, he took a deep breath. He had to find out what was going on. Winthrop and his Priests speak of freedom and prosperity, and they’ve just tried to murder a member to achieve it. He feared he already knew everything he had to. ‘’Eddie, listen to me. We’ll go in there, we’ll take care of Peter, and then we’ll figure out what to do, alright? Don’t reveal anything to Winthrop.’’

‘’Yeah, okay.’’

‘’Good.’’ They made the trek back into the hospital, up to the fifth floor. Most members of the Order stood in the waiting room, including Peter’s parents. His mother, a frail-looking woman, stood leaning against her husband, weeping into his arm while he stared stone-faced at the door. The others made room for them to reach Calypso who hadn’t moved an inch from her spot.

‘’What’s happening?’’ Aiden whispered as she stood up. He turned as the doctor emerged through the door, Winthrop on his heels. One look at the man and every member of the Order present knew the kind of news he’d come to deliver.

 


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