Geryon fortified the building against attack as best as he was able, given the lack of supplies and tools. Kadence remained at his side, lending a spiritual touch whenever needed, forcing the planks and stones to bow to her will. He noticed she grew paler with every minute that passed.

"What's our battle plan?" she asked when they finished, settling against the far wall. The only place without blood or...other things on it.

Keeping you alive, by whatever means necessary. He joined her, careful not to touch her. One touch, and he would pull her back into his arms. He needed to be alert, on guard. "You'll lock them in place and I'll slay them."

"Quick and easy," she said with a ring of hopefulness in her tone. "How long do you think we have?"

"A few hours. It will take a while for news of my arrival and intentions to spread. Longer still for the Lords to gather their forces and plan an attack." Geryon raked a claw across the floorboard to mar the curse etched there, stone shards flying into the air. "I understand why Lucifer wishes you to destroy the demons trying to leave hell and thereby prevent all other demons from following them, but why does it matter so much to you?"

She shrugged. "When I agreed to enter this realm, I became...connected to it. If the wall crumbles, I die."

She would die? "Why did you not tell me before now?" he growled. "And why would you connect to such a thing? Why would you come here willingly?"

"Had I remained in the heavens, I would have been punished every minute of every day. No one is crueler in that respect than the gods. They wanted me here, so here I came. But I had no idea how permanent the bonding would be. How powerful. As to why I didn't tell you..." She shrugged. "You had permission to finally leave your post yet you chose to help me. I didn't want to burden you further. Now you've saved me, again, and I don't wish to lie to you."

"Kadence," he said, then shook his head. "I should have remained at the inside of the gate, without you, and slayed the Lords as they approached. Now the wall is without protection, and you are in more danger than ever."

"They would have seen you and stayed away, for there is no place to hide above the pit."

"And that would have been fine with me. That would have kept you safe."

"Yet that is no kind of life for you, simply lying in wait."

"It is the life I am used to."

"But you deserve more!" Looking away from him, she traced a fingertip over the area he had clawed. "We had to do this. Or rather, I did. But I want you to know that if I fall, the wall will remain as it is, for it isn't bound to me. I have been hurt many times over the years, yet it did not show signs of damage."

"I don't care about the damn wall!"

Her eyes widened. Then she gulped and continued as if he hadn't spoken. "Without me, there will be no one who senses when something is wrong. The gods will have to find someone new. I know you are now free, but would you remain there, vigilant, until that person is found? Even if Lucifer has already appointed a new guardian?"

"You are not going to die, damn it. Now tell me why Lucifer allowed you inside? He needs you outside."

Color fused her cheeks. Embarrassment? Guilt? "He also needs his wall protected."

Guilt, most definitely. It was there in her voice, echoing off the walls. "He could have destroyed or imprisoned the Demon Lords."

"If he could catch them."

"I'll give you that." Geryon tapped two fingers against his chin, pondering the situation. "But Lucifer allows nothing, even those things he needs, without demanding some form of payment. What did he demand of you? And why did he allow you my services? Why release my soul? And where is my soul now, if Lucifer no longer has it?" Even as he asked the questions, a few of the answers shaped in his mind. He snarled low in his throat. "You bought me from him."

That color in her cheeks deepened. "Yes," she whispered. Her eyelids fluttered shut, the length of them casting spiky shadows over her cheeks. One of her hands rubbed at the amethyst dangling between her breasts. "I'm not sorry, either."

Was his soul inside? "Did you buy me with...yourself?" If so, he would slay the prince before allowing one evil finger to touch this woman's precious body.

A pause, her eyes slowly opening. Then, "No."

"Tell me." Anger was building inside of him. Anger with her, with Lucifer, with himself that this could have happened. What had this prized woman given up? Why had she given it up? He placed his hand over hers, not to hold her in place - powerful as he now knew she was, he doubted he could have done so - but to offer reassurance. He was here, he wasn't leaving. "Please."

Her chin trembled. "I gave him a year on earth, unimpeded, to do as he wished."

"Oh, Kadence," Geryon said, knowing the other gods would have to honor her bargain - and would make her suffer for it. Everything inside him rebelled at the thought. "Why would you do such a thing?"

"To save you. To save me. To save the world beyond our reach. I could think of no other way. A single year to wreck his havoc seemed a small thing to trade in comparison to an eternity of demons roaming free." Her mouth opened, but rather than words she gave a pained cry. Quick as a snap, her skin bleached of color and she doubled over.

Concern instantly rocked him. "What's wrong, sweet? Tell me."

"The demons...they're at the wall. They're...they're killing me."