She flashed them as promised, and it took Geryon a moment to orient himself, inside a tavern one moment, in front of the wall the next. When he comprehended the carnage around him, he couldn't quite believe his eyes. The demons had worked so fervently, they had bled all over the stones - stones that had been shredded, almost paper thin. A hole was imminent.

Worse, the horde of Demon Lords was still there. They were huge, all of them at least seven foot, their bodies so wide that even Geryon, massive as he was, would not be able to stretch his arms wide enough to measure them. Skeletons were visible underneath the translucent skin. A few had wings, and all were grotesque in their evil. Red eyes, horned like Geryon and fingers like knives.

He must have made a noise, for one of the...things spotted them. Laughed a sound that raised every hair on his body. "Now," he shouted to Kadence.

She glared over at them - nothing. Pointed her hands at them - nothing. Groaned with the force of her will - but still nothing happened. The Lords did not freeze in place.

"I can't," she gasped out.

"What's wrong?" He glanced at her, even as he moved in front of her, keeping his arm around her waist. She had paled, and her trembling had returned. Had his arm not been around her, he knew she would have fallen. Had the bonding not worked, then? "Talk to me, sweetheart."

He watched the demons as they rallied together, watching him. Laughing. Imagining how they would kill him?

"I'm bound to you and the wall. I can feel your strength, its weakness, and it's tearing me apart," she cried. "I'm sorry. So sorry. All of this was for nothing, Geryon. Nothing!"

"Not nothing, never nothing. I have you." But for how long?

Slowly the demons stalked forward, predators locked on prey. Eerie delight radiated from them.

"You are the best thing that ever happened to me," Kadence said weakly, leaning her cheek against his back. "I do not care about my demise anymore, but I hate that I've placed you in grave danger."

No. No! "You will not die." But even as he said it, the wall, so badly damaged, began to crack, to crumble, a hole appearing. Widening.

Kadence's knees finally gave out, and he turned, roaring, easing her to the ground. I failed her. Damn this, I failed her!


No response. No rising and falling of her chest, no moaning in pain. She was as still as death.

"Tell me how to help you, Kadence. Please."

Again, nothing.

Tears burned his eyes. He had not cried for the wife that left him, had not cried for the life he'd lost, but he cried for this woman. I need you. She would want him to stop the demons from leaving this realm, but Geryon couldn't bring himself to move from her side.

Something sharp scraped at his neck, and he jerked his head to the side. The Lords flew around them, cackling with glee. "Leave us," he growled.

Kill her.

Destroy her.

Maim her.

Too late. She's gone. More laughter.

One of them swooped down and raked a claw over her cheek, drawing blood before Geryon realized what was happening. The rest scented the lifeblood and attacked in a frenzy.

Geryon roared, throwing himself over her to take the brunt of their assault. Soon his back was in tatters, one of his horns chewed loose, a tendon severed. All the while he swung out his arm, hoping to slay as many as he could with his poison, but only one failed to dodge his blow.

On and on the laughter and abuse continued.

"I love you," Kadence whispered in his ear.

His muscled spasmed in shock and relief at the sound of her voice. She was still alive. "I love you. Stay with me. Don't leave me."


He never would have brought her into hell had he known this would happen. He would have spent his entire existence at the gate, fighting to protect it. Her. "Go," he screamed to the demons. "Leave this place. The mortal realm is yours."

As if the wall had merely been waiting for his permission, it finally toppled completely. Which meant - "No," he screamed. "I did not mean for you to collapse. I only meant for the demons to fly through." But it was too late, the damage was done.

Gleeful, the Demon Lords flew into the cave, then disappeared from view. A new stream of tears burned Geryon's eyes as he gathered Kadence in his arms. What did he care about the mortal realm without this woman?

"Goodbye, my love," she said, and died in his arms.