Sorry it's been so long since I updated! I won't give you a big monologue so you can get to the story. And seriously?! No reviews for the last chapter? Shame! Shame, shame, shame!

Quote of the Chapter:

"The lesser of two evils is still evil. And I'm not a lesser anything."

~Kaziel from Lords of Avalon


Chapter 19: Retrieval

Kiara

It didn't take long to get to the abandoned building on the outskirts of New Orleans. It was an old office building four stories tall. It was surrounded by a chain link fence that was rusted. The moon was set high in the sky, telling Kiara the group had under five hours to get Cherise out of the dilapidated building surrounded by at least five dozen Daimons before the sun came up.

Piece of cake.

Kiara was in her Lamborghini with Kyrian in his on her left, Ash in his Porsche on her right. Julian and Talon both had Ferraris; Zarek had an Aston. Lorraine was with Ash. Caleb was with Julian. Nick was with Kyrian and Kody was with Kiara. With her adrenaline pumping, Kiara revved her engine, grinning at the sound. Kyrian revved his in response. She hated to damage her car but she had plenty of money to repair it.

Ash's voice floated into her head saying: Arm your cars and on the count of three, let loose all hell.

Kiara pressed her weapons button. Her tire rims shot out deadly spikes; a gun hidden in the grill of her car got ready to aim. Ash counted down and on three, the drivers tore towards the gate. The crash wasn't as violent as she thought it would be but almost nothing can stop a Lamborghini going full out.

The Daimons never saw what coming… or what hit them. About ten were eliminated by Kiara with a time frame of thirty seconds between her car and her gun. The gun worked more effectively than the car; however, the bullets ran out quickly and Kody and Kiara decided it was time to do hands-on combat. Before the girls got out, Kiara grabbed her sword from the glove compartment. It was compactable which made it easy for travel. When the girls got out of the car, they were instantly swarmed by Daimons. Kiara lashed out at them viciously with her sword. She killed two in one swipe that had attempted to team up against her. It wasn't long before Kyrian found his way next to her side; they fought as if they had never been separated, as if they had never gotten into an argument for thousands of years. They slashed through the ranks of Daimons in perfect synchronization. Sometimes, they fought back to back, right up against each other; other times, they fought shoulder to shoulder, demolishing everything that stood in their way. At one point, a Daimon caught Kiara by surprise and yanked her back. He was about to stab her but Kyrian killed before the Daimon could even lift their arm to get some momentum. Kyrian looked murderously at the spot the Daimon had been in as he grabbed Kiara's hand. She squeezed it and got ready to fight some more.

But there were none left. The group of ten had completely destroyed the Daimon guards.

"Why does it seem like that was too easy?" Nick inquired.

"Because there are more inside, stronger ones; the ones out here were distractions and weak ones to wear us down," Acheron informed.

"I say bring it on. They have obviously never met me when I'm ticked off," Nick said, punching his fist into his other hand.

Rolling his eyes, Caleb said, "The first time you were attacked and pissed off, you were overtaken and I had to save your Cajun ass. Don't be asking for challenges boy."

"That was also when I had no idea how the hell to fight. I have experience now," Nick retorted.

"All right you two, stop arguing. We have a job to do," Acheron snapped. That sobered Nick up as he remembered who they were rescuing.

"Let's go," he said determinedly.

"Hang on; we need two people to go find Cherise. The rest of us will kill the remaining Daimons and get the place secure," Ash informed.

"I'll go. She's my mother," Nick declared, stepping up.

"No, you will be doing no such thing. You're mother will kill me if she knows I let you come on this trip. You will stay out of sight from her," Acheron reprimanded. Nick started to protest vehemently but Kiara stepped in.

"I'll go," she said firmly. "Cherise knows who I am. She trusts me."

"I'll accompany her. Cherise trusts me as well," Kyrian offered, although Kiara knew it was because he wasn't going anywhere without her.

Ash was silent for a few seconds before consenting to the idea. Kiara could tell Nick was infuriated with the decision but knew better than to argue. It was decided that Kyrian and Kiara would enter behind the group and slip away to go find Cherise. Lorraine, Julian, Nick, Kody, Acheron, Zarek, Caleb, and Talon lined up and charged. Kiara could've sworn Nick might have yelled "For Sparta!" but she wasn't sure.

"You ready?" Kyrian whispered.

"Yeah. Come on General. Lead the way." Still holding hands, the two slipped out of the battleground and up the stairs. They were immediately greeted by five Daimons. With a grin, the two Dark-Hunters advanced. Two Daimons flipped high above their heads but Kyrian jumped up and was able to slash one of them into oblivion. The second one landed but Kyrian stabbed at it from behind and it crumbled to dust. Kiara kept on fighting the other three; the Daimons kept backing up and she had a feeling they were leading her into a trap. Frustration burst through her in literally a blinding white flash. When the flash cleared, the three Daimons were disappearing as dust.

"Kiara, what on earth-?" Kyrian began.

"I-I don't know…" she replied, confused about what had just happened.

"You just-"

"I know."

The pounding of footsteps made the two of them whirl around to face the doorway at the bottom. Ash, along with the rest of the group behind him, was running towards them.

"You two okay? A flash of light just suddenly appeared and when it disappeared, the Daimons were dead. You know what happened?" Ash demanded.

Before Kyrian could reply, Kiara said quickly, "No, it happened to us too but we don't know how… or why for that matter."

She caught Kyrian's eye; he was looking at her curiously but he wasn't questioning her. Ash seemed to sense something was going on because he said, "We'll talk about it later. Privately. Come on, let's go get Cherise. I have a feeling the rest of the Daimons were flashed to death too."

Ash pushed his way to the front and led the way. Nick was protected in the middle. Kiara could tell he hated being protected. She understood. It was the problem with being important. He didn't know she knew, but she knew exactly who he was. It was intimidating knowing that at any moment, his gentleness could disappear and he could turn into the person that was supposed to destroy humanity. Lovely thought.

The ten of them reached the second floor and after exploring it thoroughly and finding nothing, went on to the third floor. Kyrian and Kiara took one of the bigger office rooms. One wall was a book shelf with forgotten dusty books and papers scattered on the shelves.

"Kiara! Come here!" Kyrian whispered. She walked over to him. He was studying a wall. It was paneled but besides that, it wasn't anything special.

"What?"

"Tap the wall right there, and then do it over here," Kyrian ordered, pointing at specific points in the wall. She did as she was told and noticed that the first point sounded hollow unlike the second one. She looked up and down the wall, searching for something to see if the wall was removable.

She didn't need to.

She hit the wall with her knuckle three times and it slid open, revealing a hidden staircase. The two Dark-Hunters glanced warily at each other before going in.

"I swear, we get into the most interesting situations together than anyone I've ever known," Kyrian joked.

Kiara cracked a grin, remembering the first "interesting" situation they had ever gotten into together.

Kiara lay in her bed, staring at the ceiling. There were still a few weeks left before she and Kyrian married. It was daytime, about noon. She had just eaten lunch and was closing her eyes to get some sleep when someone knocked on her door. She suppressed a groan and went to open the door.

Kyrian was standing there, dressed in a cloak that hid everything but his face since the hood was down.

"What in Zeus's name are you wearing?" Kiara asked.

"I am going to take you on a tour of Thrace so you can get acquainted with it… and me," Kyrian replied mischievously.

"Do I get to wear an awesome cloak?" she countered. He pulled one out from underneath his and handed it to her. She slipped it on.

"Follow me my lady," he said, bowing. She took his hand. Together, they snuck through the hallways, avoiding anyone who came their way. Miraculously, they made it out into the stable without being seen. Kiara thought Aphrodite must be condoning their excursion because this was way too easy.

Kyrian leapt onto the white horse and lifted his arm for Kiara but she had other plans. She wanted him to know she was independent and so, without any help, jumped up on the horse's back. Wrapping her arms around his waist, Kiara kissed him on the cheek.

"Hold on, sweetie; this might get a bit crazy," he warned impishly. He urged his horse to go and they shot off into the courtyard. It wasn't long before guards were shouting and were trying to catch up to them. Kiara saw Julian smirking among but the clamor of the rest of the guards quickly made him disappear from view.

"I thought we were supposed to be secretive about our little escapade?" Kiara shouted over the wind.

"Until we got on the horse. Then I decided we should just let all fury loose," Kyrian replied with a holler. He cautioned her to hang on because they were about to jump over a small wall. The impact when they landed was jarring but Kiara managed to stay on. The guards were far behind them now. Before long, the two of them entered Thrace. Kyrian jumped off his horse and brought it to a boy barely twelve years old.

"Bring this horse straight back to the Royal Palace. I will pay you well if it gets there unharmed," Kyrian told the little boy. "Here is a note that gives you permission to enter the palace gates to return the horse back to the stables. Stay there until I return. So I can return you to your dwelling personally."

The boy nodded hurriedly, wide-eyed, before taking the horse. The boy was tiny and Kyrian helped him up.

"Be careful, okay?" Kyrian said gently.

"I will, your highness. I promise your horse will get there safely," the boy promised.

"Call me Kyrian. And I trust you. Now get going. Do not work him too hard. He just had quite a run."

With one last nod, the boy headed off to the palace. Kyrian turned back around to face Kiara. "What?" he queried.

"I never knew you were so good with children," she replied. He smiled as he put on his hood. Kiara did the same.

"Come on," he said, offering her his hand, "let's go look at the city."

Taking his hand, they set off. No one seemed to recognize them. They passed vendors of all sorts, from jewelry to food to drinks to clothing. Kyrian bought Kiara a turquoise necklace which she promptly put on. At one point, they had to hurry and hide in an alleyway to avoid being seen by palace guards. They were pressed up against a wall which made Kiara feel strangely claustrophobic until her fiancé caught her off guard with a kiss.

"Sorry, could not resist with you being so close," he apologized. She knew she was blushing but Kiara couldn't help it. He had that effect on her.

"It is not like I am complaining about it. Come on, I want to see more of the city!" She slipped away from him and he followed her. The city was amazing but the crowds made it hot and Kiara became very thirsty very quickly. She voiced this to Kyrian and he promptly led her to a bar.

"Stick close to me. This place is great but a bit rough." He gripped her hand tightly and led her into a pub with soused men stumbling, grunting, and shouting all over the place. Kiara was positive she was the only woman in there; any woman had to be crazy to come here. Of course, the gods decided to prove her wrong because she saw a woman with thick, raven locks traveling around, smiling flirtatiously at men.

"That is Theone. She frequents the place and is a-"

"Lady of the Night?" Kiara suggested. Kyrian grinned and she knew she'd gotten it right. But then a question struck her: How did he know Theone frequented the place unless… "And you know this how?"

Kyrian turned to face her; he must've heard the change in tone in her voice. "Julian and I came here when we were younger. She hit on us but we politely declined her. Do not worry about her Kiara. She is absolutely no threat to you."

With a smile, they walked to the bartender. Kyrian ordered two cups of wine. While they waited, two of the biggest and drunkest men got into an argument. The shorter one by an inch which Kiara immediately dubbed as Mr. Cherub because he looked like an overgrown baby, threw the first punch. Mr. Cupid, the other guy that Kiara had nicknamed since his handsomeness nearly rivaled Kyrian's, punched back. That's when the full bar brawl broke out. Kyrian grabbed Kiara and they took dashed for the door but it was blocked by five men duking it out. So instead, they took cover behind a table and waited for it to settle down. Kyrian had his arms wrapped protectively around her; he kept peering over for an opening to escape.

Finally, the brawl started to settle down but that was because about fifteen palace guards, who were searching for Kiara and Kyrian, stepped in and stopped it. Kyrian cursed softly.

"Not good… we are going to make a dash for it because I still have not brought to the place I wanted you to see the most. Are you ready?" he inquired.

"I am always ready," Kiara said indignantly.

"I love you so much," Kyrian said with a laugh. After that, they bolted. The guards recognized them and chased them through the streets but the people were on Kiara and Kyrian's side because it was almost as if they were purposefully blocking the guards' way.

"You're thinking of the brawl aren't you?" Kyrian's voice brought Kiara back to reality.

"It's scary how well you know me."

"Come on, let's go get Cherise." They went up the staircase; it was old but seemed sturdy. It went all the way to the fourth floor without stopping. Quietly, Kyrian opened the door. Kiara's eyes were drawn straight to a blonde figure in the corner of the room. She was huddled into a ball; a man was standing over her. Kiara hated him instantly.

"Disilarius," Kiara hissed quietly.

"I'll be back, Cherise. I have to go see what your friends are up to. Your son Nick has been causing quite a commotion trying to find you," Disilarius mused.

"You hurt my son, I will kill you. Never underestimate a mother who loves her child," Cherise warned.

"How will you do that chained up, sweet cheeks? I'll be back."

When Disilarius had left, Kyrian and Kiara, after making sure the hidden staircase door stayed open, dashed to Cherise's side.

"Cherise?" Kiara whispered frantically.

"Who are you?" Cherise demanded. For someone who looked so bedraggled and exhausted and weak, she sounded strong… and extremely pissed off.

"It's me, Kiara. I used to babysit Nick when he was younger."

Cherise studied her and the recognition slowly dawned upon the mother. "My dear, why you've hardly changed a bit! When did you come to town?"

"The day you disappeared."

"And Mr. Hunter? You're here as well?" Cherise asked suspiciously.

"I wasn't letting Kiara go anywhere by herself. Our reinforcements are downstairs. We need to get you out of here before that guy comes back." He and Kiara set to work breaking the manacles holding Cherise to the wall. Kyrian lifted Ms. Gautier up and the trio went back down the hidden staircase, with Kiara shutting the door behind them. They went through the third floor and down the stairs. Kiara sent a mental message to Ash letting him know Cherise had been found. Ash and the group met them downstairs.

"Mom!" Nick cried.

"Nicky?!" Cherise replied frantically. Kyrian set her down as Nick came rushing up to hug his mom. Words were exchanged between the two of them but everyone respectfully ignored them. Ash helped carry Cherise to his car. Kiara and Kyrian were walking behind everyone, holding hands. Cherise was safe and sound.

Suddenly, Kiara was jerked back. Turning around, she saw Kyrian clawing at his back and turning a deathly shade of white.

"Kyrian!" Kiara screamed. Everyone turned around as Kiara pulled a knife out of his back, eight inches long. It had been just above it heart. An evil laugh sounded from behind Kiara and whipped her to face the person. Disilarius stood there, a malicious grin etched onto his face. Julian appeared next to Kiara and started to try and stop Kyrian's blood loss. With a growl, Kiara jumped up and went after Disilarius. Julian called out her name but she ignored him. Vengeance coursed through her veins. The Daimon was no match for her in the state she was currently in and she tackled him to the ground. They wrestled each other, rolling over one another, trying to gain the upper hand. Disilarius had no idea who he was messing with now. He had unleashed a fury Kiara had never felt before and it wouldn't be satisfied until he was dead. They finally got up and started fighting hands-on. Kiara kicked him in the stomach but it wasn't long before he charged her and putting his hands on her shoulders, pushed her all the way to the building, pinning her to the cold brick. His hand closed around her neck and tightened. Kiara couldn't breathe. She was rapidly losing consciousness. Spots danced across her vision.

"I won't die. Not like this," Kiara thought determinedly. She remembered back to the first stairwell with Kyrian when she had let loose that flash of light, killing the Daimons. She knew she had created that and she intended to do it again. With as much focus as she could muster, she imagined a flash of light spearing through Disilarius.

Almost instantaneously, the grip on her neck disappeared. Kiara slumped to the ground as she watched the Daimon's petrified face disappear into the ground. He was dead; that was for certain. She staggered up and ran back to Kyrian who was now in shock. He wasn't responding to anyone or anything. Kiara ordered Julian to carry Kyrian and put him in her car. He didn't argue and did as he was told. Kiara hopped into her car and after Julian had strapped his friend into her car, she tore out of the area and drove like a madwoman to Ash's house.

"Kiara…" Kyrian murmured.

"I'm here," she said softly, attempting to keep her voice steady.

"I love you."

"I know. I love you too. Just hang on; we're almost to Ash's house. You're going to be okay," she assured, her voice cracking.

"Kiara, we both know I'm not going to-" Kyrian cut himself off by cringing and hissing at the pain.

"No!" Kiara exclaimed hysterically. "I'm not losing you! Not when I finally have you back!"

She pulled into Ash's drive and hopped out. She lifted Kyrian up and stumbled to the door. Ash was already there and he relieved her of Kyrian but she was right behind him as they went up the stairs.

"Keep her down here," Ash commanded. Julian and Zarek grabbed Kiara's arms and struggled to bring her to Ash's living room where she lost her will to fight and sank to the floor, leaning against the couch. Julian and Zarek sat next to her, making sure she didn't bolt. Nick was nowhere to be seen. He was probably with his mom in another room.

Looking at everyone staring at her, she decided to try and hide from the world by hanging her head and staring at a pattern in the carpet. She waited in agony to hear from Ash. He came back down an hour later, looking melancholy; a wave a terror crashed over her because she knew what was coming next.

"Ash, please, he can't be," Kiara managed to whisper.

"He's not yet. He doesn't have much longer."

Kiara's mouth parted open slightly in from shock. Kyrian was dying and there was no way to save him. He had always been so strong, he had always been her rock for most of her life, and now, once again, he was slipping through her fingers.

"Go up and see him Kiara," Julian whispered. Numbly, she got up and went to his room dreading what she was about to see. Whereas she had had a good chance of surviving when she'd been injured, Kyrian apparently had none. Entering his room, she stifled a cry. He was literally as white as the sheets. His head lolled to the side since he was leaning against the headboard, and he had gauze wrapped all on his upper torso.

Kiara started to cry softly as she went and lay down next to him, shifting him gently so that she could hold him in her arms. His breathing was shallow but steady and as she cried to herself, she hoped no one would come up to check on Kyrian.

"Kiara?"

Her eyes flitted to the center of the room where a man with golden eyes was standing, watching her and Kyrian curiously. "Apollo!"

"What's wrong?" he asked walking over to her. "Why are you crying over this cheater?"

"No! You have it wrong! I did too! So did he! Our fight, it was all a big misunderstanding." Kiara hurriedly explained what happened.

Apollo was silent, looking solemn. "You still love him?"

Kiara nodded. "I don't want to lose him again."

There was a tic in Apollo's jaw. "I can save him, Kiara, but it comes with a price."

"Anything, Apollo. Please, for the love of the gods, save him," she pleaded.

"In order for me to save someone this close to death, you would have to accept my hand in marriage, two lives joined together to save one," Apollo explained.

Kiara felt her heart drop. She had planned on marrying Kyrian now that they had everything sorted out, but the Fates were being cruel to her yet again. However, she wasn't going to lose Kyrian. She couldn't live with herself knowing there was a way to save him and she hadn't taken the opportunity.

"Kiara?" Kyrian croaked. Her eyes found Kyrian's emerald ones staring weakly at her. "What is the not-so-hot sun god doing in my death room?"

Flooded with relief that he was awake and that he had enough sense still in him to try and crack a joke, Kiara let out a sound that was mixed between a sob and a chuckle.

"I'm going to save you," she told him.

"How?"

"She's going to marry me," Apollo notified. Kiara despised the slight smugness in his tone.

"Kiara, I'd rather die than let you marry him," Kyrian declared heatedly.

"And I'd rather than letting you die knowing I'd had an option to save you. I will do anything to save you," Kiara whispered.

Turning to Apollo, looking grim, he said, "Then you need to promise me something and you need to swear it on the Styx." The god looked annoyed but agreed. "Promise that you will take good care of her. Promise you will do anything to make her happy. And promise you will never hurt her, physically or mentally. If you do, her oath to you is broken and she is free of your marriage and I still live. Swear on the Styx."

"I swear on the Styx to Kyrian Hunter's terms on treating Kiara, my future wife," Apollo promised.

"One more request," Kyrian said.

"What?" Apollo demanded exasperatedly.

"I want no recollection of this moment. I don't want to remember giving away the girl I've loved forever to another man."

That was the last straw for Kiara. She started full out sobbing.

"Fine. You will remember it if Kiara or I mention it but I doubt either one of us will; I know I won't."

Kyrian turned his head to look up at Kiara. "I love you, vasílissá mou."

"I love you, General," she sobbed back. He wiped away tears on her cheek with his thumb before kissing her. It was a kiss of longing of what was and what never would be, of what they'd had and what they wished for but now knew would never be possible. It was a kiss of love and passion and heartbreak.

Neither of them wanted to break it off but they needed air. They were breathing heavily, their foreheads pressed up against each other.

"Okay, Apollo, do your little zappy thing and make this memory disappear," Kyrian said sadly. With a disturbed look, Apollo snapped his fingers and Kyrian was knocked out, slumping against Kiara's chest. If possible, she sobbed even harder.

"He'll wake up in a little while. Let him drink some of your blood too. It'll help the healing process; your blood isn't poisonous to him. I'll see you later, okay?" Apollo said, kissing her on the head. She barely managed to nod. The god disappeared, leaving her.

Kiara cradled Kyrian like he had cradled her when he'd rescued her. He was safe and sound now. The world could be on fire, the battle could still be raging on, but the only thing that mattered to her was Kyrian was alive.

He was safe.


Wow, this was a long chapter. I hope you enjoyed! Please review! I'm sad I didn't get any for the last one :(