Jeff continued to purr, so I cautiously glanced at the robed figure that had been there when I woke from the oddly deep dream state. I wasn't sure if just a few hours had passed in the cavern, or far too many days to be counted. As it was, I was still holding the small cat -- he was now bigger than when we'd first stumbled into the space from the church -- I was fairly certain that the time in the cavern had been much longer than I'd even imagined. There had been that odd part of the tale I'd just been told of time passing differently for the two princes when they were sent away from their kingdom ... that seemed to have mirrored what'd happened to me.
The hood fell back to reveal a luminous man. I wasn't sure that man was the right term but it was male -- definitely -- whatever else it was. My hunter instincts definitely were pushing for me to determine if I should fight or flee, but having no idea where I precisely was on Earth or if I was currently stuck somewhere between here and there, I doubted that my running would do much more than make me appear stupid if nothing else. Not to mention that I would certainly look like prey if the creature before me was as powerful as I assumed from his demeanor. Every cell of my body wanted me to commit to some action but I resisted.
A soft chuckle, and the man drew closer to me with an obscenely smooth gliding step. I felt vulnerable while quietly seated on the soft bed with a cat glued to me, naturally getting petted. The chuckle wasn't resonating like his voice had before he showed up physically, so I figured he was trying to placate me or calm me in some unknown manner. I wasn't going to leap up, so I ignored his size and his stunning beauty. There really weren't any other words for the man. He glowed from within and his features were solid and could have been easily sketched by Michelangelo or any of the renowned classic artists throughout history. It then crept into my thoughts that this creature was possibly from the symposium that had been described to me in the dreamscape -- the very ones who had decided to free Matt, Bob, Adrienne and Rena and drop them somewhere on my Earth long ago. The ones that now apparently needed little old me to help. The chuckle stopped abruptly and he lowered down level with my face and said, "Delilah Monroe, you are too clever by half."
Not able to simply listen -- go figure huh? I was snarky enough to say, "Like that's a bad thing?"
His eyes met mine and I had to keep myself from blinking. They were an electric green that wasn't seen naturally in humans, or even with kick ass expensive contacts. I was wrong when I had thought him simply as luminous. No his eyes were incandescent with a heavy helping of mind-blowing power. This creature was a god for sure to somebody's culture.
Shaking his head he said from lush, temptingly sinful lips, "I know that usually that trait will serve you well, but you are not going to be able to accomplish what I had thought. Your will is stronger than most humans. This can be a bad combination with the trolls."
My eyes widened and I kept from blurting out my thoughts for a change. I couldn't see any up-side to making a stupid remark, at least not while I was in a cavern of unknown location. I had the odd feeling that I'd need his help to get back to that church I'd hiked to from Ruby's. It wasn't the best feeling, but mentally I shrugged it off for now. It wasn't like I could change the events unfolding.
"It doesn't matter what you say. I can easily hear your thoughts." He murmured while petting Jeff, who had abandoned me to seek strokes from the slightly glowing man. Jeff half stood from the corner of the bed to reach up his furry face to the man's attention. The rumbling purring grew louder as the man's fingers touched and caressed the cat's face and ears. The cavern held many dark shadows, but this creature was easily overpowering the dark and leaving light. That concerned me more than I wanted to even venture a stray thought to follow that line of thinking. I tapped myself mentally out of the god debate, and focused on keeping my head in the game. Because it was quickly shaping up in my mind that it was going to be a deadly game that I needed to really win.
Laughing instead of overreacting, I simply said, "What I think isn't always what I do."
And with that I leaped from the bed and landed a mere kiss away from his too-handsome face. I watched his eyes widen. Tapping his chest softly I said, "And with a blade in my hand I'd have already killed you."
He blinked and stepped back from me while Jeff made a grumbling sound from the safety of the bed, where he'd pounced away from the man while landing nearly exactly on the top of my backpack -- a thin perch, but he made it while keeping his ears flat and murmuring something nasty in an unknown cat language. It looked like if I survived the next few twists of the world I'd be a cat owner. (Thinking about what I knew about cats, I changed that to 'owned by a cat' in my thoughts.)
Another blink and he said, "Point taken." I figured he meant the blade comment, not the cat, but who knew? I wasn't going to repeat the thoughts in either direction but stayed focused, while softly blocking any of my mental meanderings. I was taking him at his word that he quite possibly could read my mind, and employed my usual defensive mind chaos. Without much effort I filled my mind with a running background noise of having spent far too much time listening to young girls blathering at the mall a few years ago. That was one of my best distractions and from the slightly furrowed brow it appeared he was getting some of that in his mind. Mentally I checked off my doubts about his ability to hear my thoughts. It sure seemed like that was a big old yes. Slightly grumbling in my mind, I kept a pleasant fake smile on my face.
Making as if he needed to pace to think he stalked off from me and rubbed his chin while looking at the ground. Keeping my eyes on him, I dropped back to the bed and pulled the backpack from beneath Jeff while wondering what he was going to do now.
Feeling my gaze on him or hearing my thoughts he spun around and said, "I'm going to ask your help despite my current misgivings." He made it sound like he was offering me some obscenely expense bauble, not what was looking like a massive headache in the making. Hell, I'd rather tangle with Archie from the home 'office' and I pretty much thought Archibald was useless on so many levels.
Gee, I was less than impressed by the man's misgivings.
So I slowly stood up with the bag and Jeff looked at me with those big cat eyes. He definitely was bigger than I last recalled. I shrugged my backpack on and picked up Jeff, who resumed his purring and allowing me to pet him. Tilting my chin up slightly, while my hands were full of cat, I met the glowing creature's eyes and asked, "What is it you think that I can help you with precisely?"
From all my wanderings, I knew better than leaving loopholes for supernatural creatures to use against me later in the day or night. That was something that Sam Fortuna had drilled into my head within hours of getting my attention to the finer details of being a hunter. I could now admit that it probably took longer than it should have, because I wasn't very good at listening back then, much less following directions. Jeff the cat was already better behaved than I was as a youth. I felt a pang inside at the memory of Sam back then, given he was currently missing as far as I knew. And damned Archibald wasn't going to tell me anything about my friend, Sam, if he was even in the loop. Dear old Archie wasn't one to be in the loop even if he was driving in circles.
The creature sighed as if my simple question was exhausting for him.
"Rescue all four of them. Trolls included. Note I said 'rescue' not 'slay'." He met my eyes again with a knowing smirk dancing on his face. I don't recall telling him much about me, but he certainly acted like he knew everything. With the god and goddess tale still occupying a portion of my concerns I wasn't ready to 'believe' it all, but I sure wasn't calling it all a bunch of fairy tales. I knew better than that.
He nodded back to the bed and said, "I'd suggest you take a seat. We have quite a few things to go over before you may leave."
Reluctantly I sunk back to the comfortable bed and he lowered himself onto a chair that was suddenly beneath his tush. The flowing robe didn't allow me to see said ass but his face and arms were those of a god so I was pretty sure that the rest of his body followed the design. Ruby would be more than a bit attracted to him. He was pretty much vibrant eye-candy and just her flavor.
"But not yours?" He interrupted my internal musings and I mentally cringed, then quickly began to think about how I cleaned my various weapons.
His eyes rolled upwards with a mocking motion and after his theatrics were noticed by me he said, "Funny thing, Delilah, you may think you are blocking me, but in actuality you are giving me more access."
Not up to calling his bluff I dropped the various images and focused back on him. He still was seated higher than me in his chair and it had a familiar feeling. It dawned on me that I wasn't going to easily be above his head. He liked lording over his company and worshippers far longer than I'd been alive. It wasn't even a question in my mind, but a straightforward acknowledgment of his otherly existence.
"Okay, so you said you have more to tell me?" I spoke softly while petting Jeff slowly.
He was beaming down at me; I could feel the energy wafting off his body. I let the hungry feeling travel over me without reacting. He fed off his worshippers, I quickly concluded, and by my not gushing back my feelings I was robbing him of a snack. His eyes flickered sea green and back to glowing. Had I not been watching him carefully I would never had noticed the anger inside the creature. He was far more deadly than he appeared, that was for sure.
He bit out briskly, "Naturally."
He was definitely sulking. I continued to pet the cat and was rewarded with deep throated purrs that calmed me. I knew pissing off a god creature couldn't be the best idea I'd had, but then I didn't exactly plan on it. It was something that just was happening. I wasn't one to worship fallen gods and was aware that I was definitely not what he'd thought I was. Oh well, I scratched beneath Jeff's chin and remained on the bed. The temptation to pull out my sharpest knife hadn't left me. I resisted, having seen in the dream the gods and goddesses tearing those four creatures out of their very lives and dumping them on Earth with little qualms. I was pretty sure that this creature had his fair share of individual power, that would easily squish me like a bug if he desired. My leaping to him had been more than likely the last time I'd be able to surprise him without his retaliating.