“Let me in…” a man’s voice drifted in from outside the Leftover tent. Margot woke up to familiar surroundings, covered in the skins of animals with names she couldn’t even pronounce. The Underworld is home to ancient predators, but necessity and hunger make everyone prey. Margot checked around and saw her mended suit folded neatly in the corner, though it still looked tattered and torn. She lifted the covers, feeling the night air on her naked body and took a moment to check herself. There were cuts, bruises and sutures all over her frame and she winced with every movement. I can still move, and my head isn’t pounding. I’ll take it as a win, she thought to herself as she stood, crossed the tent and slowly put on her clothes.
“I said, let me in. I’ll take care of her.” She recognised the voice as it spoke with greater urgency, but she couldn’t quite place it. She only knew it was unfriendly.
“No. I told you before, Rob, I won’t let you have her. You’ll have to go through me.” Albert said sternly, and she could see his shadow blocking the tent’s entrance.
The other man cocked a shotgun, but Margot and Albert knew it was an empty threat. No intent to kill, just making a point, she calmed herself. She now knew who it was, the man with the golden eyes, the one she’d met in the graveyard. He was here to make good on his promise. Why am I so scared of him? Margot thought when she realised she was hugging herself waiting for what happened outside.
“She’s dangerous!” Golden Eyes growled. “They’re all dangerous! I warned Weston and Illusionist that making them Fixers was a bad idea. I knew they would snap. I saw it in them!”
“No she’s not. She’s just like all of them. I met her. She needs a bullet in the head.”
“No…” Albert seethed and his voice changed, becoming deeper and wilder as his frame shifted, bone spikes breaking through the skin, tendons and intestines slipping out from his body to become flailing tendrils. His skin retracted over most of his body, leaving bone and sinew to form claws and a solid mass of scales. His face was a nightmarish visage, with rows upon rows of jagged teeth in each of its five maws. Glad I’m not seeing that. Not surprised everyone’s screaming. With how Albert is, it’s easy to forget he’s a Gomorran. She felt the horror around the camp, the shame in Albert but nothing from the stranger. He was calm as a pond, only certainty in him. At that moment, she knew that if he wanted to, nothing would stop him from killing her. “Leave my camp!”
“Sure…but you know I’m right. And soon she’ll snap, the bad blood will take her and we’re all screwed then. I can take out other supernaturals easily, even when riding the blood.” Margot heard him sliding his boomstick into the back holster. “I’ve done it before, will most likely do it again soon with the other fixers running about out of their minds. But a Psyclone riding the harrowed wave is something else entirely.” Albert growled in the stranger’s face. “Keep a lid on it Gamorran or I drop you.” Rob seethed. “You say you love this girl, tear her throat out then, before she turns into a monster!”
“She won’t!” Albert roared.
“Why? Because Weston and John tweaked her? Made her different? She still has the blood in her veins.” He said and left.
Albert reverted to his human shape. One of the security guards brought him a change of clothes and he hastily put them on when Margot slipped out of the tent. “How much of that did you hear?”
“Enough. You knew about the bad blood then…” Margot gave him hard eyes.
Albert looked away. “Mar…honey, I…”
“Don’t ‘honey’ me Albert. You knew and you didn’t tell me.” The Leftover leader stepped back from Vance’s angry scowl. “Tell me about the bad blood!”
“Don’t!” Albert matched her look. “Don’t say its name. Don’t even talk about it!”
“What?” Margot seemed confused.
“Names have power Mar, especially here and that in particular has more power than other things! I didn’t tell you because I can’t, because every time I mention its name it becomes stronger. I can feel it in the soil. I can feel its masters growing in strength. It might just be a drop, but I won’t give it to them!”
“You’re so full of shit!” Margot spat. “You tell him that the bad blood won’t take me, that I’m different and you stop him from killing me, but you won’t tell me the one thing that might save my life and help me solve this case?”
“I can’t Mar. I just can’t. You want those answers, you go to the King and make him talk, he’s bound to know more than I do anyway!”
Margot sucked her lower lip in frustration. “Ok, then tell me something else. Who the hell was that? Golden Eyes. Or is he also so powerful you won’t even say his…”
“Roberto Peralta.” Albert interrupted, his head hanging low. “His name is Roberto Peralta.”
“South American actually, don’t know where exactly. He’s a hunter.” He said, matching her intense glare with his calm, tired eyes. “He’s a hunter.”
“What? Hunters are forbidden in Makai by Royal decree!” Margot said, shocked.
“Why do you think that is?” Albert said. “He wanted Roberto out. But you can’t keep him out. He learned long ago how to get into places where he’s not wanted.”
“Is he the one behind the Fixers vanishing? How about John?” Margot stepped closer and roughly grabbed the Leftover leader by the shirt. He didn’t resist.
“No…he said he’s just cleaning up after them, killing the ones he finds. The thing in their veins has taken them…” Albert groaned, then pushed himself off her.
“What’s the deal with the eyes?”
“Do you know what a Curse King is?”
“Yeah, someone who breaks their curse but keeps some aspect of it as a gift, a power.”
“He’s one of them. The gift is the All-Seeing-Eyes. He sees it all, absolutely all. Good and evil, sins and boons, he sees through all of it.”
“Holy shit, and he uses those to hunt?”
“It’s what he did cursed, he didn’t see a point in changing. I met him a long time ago, when they first annexed the Underworld to Makai, anchoring it. He’s not so bad, but he is dangerous. And he will kill you Margot, there’s no question about it. You need to keep away from him.” He said urgently, almost pushing her to run away.
Still trying to piece together the truth, Margot changed the topic. “Enough about him, I’ll take care of him at some point and don’t give me that look. He was afraid of me, of a Psyclone. Now tell me, what did he mean with Weston and J.W. ‘teaking’ me?”
“I don’t know much, they didn’t give me any details.” Albert walked towards the nearest bench and sat down, motioning her to join him. “Sorry, transforming takes it out of me.
“The dynamic duo, as Rob calls them, did something to you, something to stop the thing in your veins from taking over, I don’t know what, but it’s got something to do with your eyes.”
“How do you know all of this?”
“When I heard from Rob what they were doing, experimenting on you as he said, I rushed up to the palace and confronted them. They didn’t tell me much, only said they’d secured the lock in your soul, placed a seal on some of your powers.”
“Didn’t know you went up to Makai.”
“I did get you out didn’t I? I know the way out, I just can’t leave the people here behind.”
Weston has the asnwers then…and the mapmaker. How long have I been here? It’s probably been days outside. I miss that, time moving forward inexorably, not an eternal sun-less existence in the underworld. Margot mused, looking around her, then noticed her Impala was not there. “Did you find my car?”
“Latest report has it boning a barkhound…you know how it is, nothing I the wildlands stays…”
“Dead or inanimate, I know…dammit!” She paced around, trying to find a way out, then turned to Albert. “I need you to get me out, up top!”
“Very well, but it’s best if you know, there are some hunting you, looking to square some imaginary debt with fixers. Or they just hate Psyclones, I’m not entirely sure.”
“I’ll deal with them, just give me something to eat and drink and we can go.”
“It’ll take me a few hours to get things sorted, then we can go. I’ll get you something to eat.”
Someone’s hunting me. Must be Violet, only one with a grudge. Don’t force my hand old friend, or I will have to take those arms of yours.
“I can take care of them.” She lied.