When we last saw Misery, he’d just threatened his uncle with the revelation of one of his darkest secrets. What will happen now?
New to the Misery series? Let’s get you all caught up.
- A Demon Lord is Here and He Wants to Interview Me
- Nulli On My Mind – Misery, the Demon Lord Returns
- Misery Sends for Nulli
- Misery Loves Company – Nulli Pays a Visit
- Misery Loves Company – Nulli Pays a Visit Part 2
- Misery and Yuri Have a Chat
- Misery Loves Company: Surprises All Around
- Misery Loves Company: Date Night
- Misery Loves Company – Date Night Part 2
- Misery Loves Company – Yuri Raises the Bar
- Misery Loves Company – Yuri Raises the Bar Part 2
- Misery Loves Company – Change of Plans
- Misery Loves Company – Change of Plans Part 2
- Misery Loves Company – Search and Destroy
- Misery Loves Company – Where’s Nulli?
- Misery Loves Company – Visitations
- Misery Loves Company – Confrontation
As always, thanks to Yuri Bellamy for collaborating with me on these posts!
Efrayim glowered at Misery, still holding his gem out as if it were a shield. “I will remember how you have acted today.”
“How I’ve acted?” He shook his head, taking another step toward his uncle. He was fully aware of how much larger he was than his uncle, and ordinarily he would never purposely intimidate a smaller man on principle, but he also knew Efrayim could kill him where he stood with one of those magical stones of his. Misery’s size and strength was all he had. “I do not think you see yourself very clearly. Now either take me to Nulli or use that little stone of yours, but you and I both know that if you kill me, I’ll never give you an heir and you will be short one demon lord—which will put you at risk of filling my position with a demon far less competent at the job.”
Efrayim curled his lip and lowered the hand aiming the gem at Misery, though not before holding his gaze for a moment with a look of pure hatred on his face. “Fine. I will take you to your human.” He pocketed his gem and took a different rock Misery recognized as his uncle’s usual teleportation stone out of his suit. “However,”—and here he shook the stone at Misery with an unpleasant smile on his elegant face—, “You fuck her at your own risk. I want no accidents, understand? I will not accept any child you make with that woman as your heir.”
Yuri made an enraged sound from the direction of the door, but Misery motioned for him to be quiet even as his own anger caused a muscle to pulse in his jaw. He couldn’t let his uncle bait either him or Yuri into getting any angrier than they already were–not when they were so close to recovering Nulli.
To Efrayim, he said, “I understand, and I never expected otherwise. Teleport us now–Yuri as well. Do not delay this any longer.”
Misery deliberately delayed his response to Efrayim. He needed time to throttle back enough of the frustration coursing through him to avoid shouting his reply. When he regained control, Misery gestured for Yuri to come closer to him and his uncle. He knew from experience his uncle’s method of teleportation would pick up anyone within a five foot radius of those being transferred elsewhere, and he wasn’t going to go anywhere without his friend.
He refocused on Efrayim and let his reply flow out of him in a colder, smoother version of his normal voice. Nonetheless he shook with the strain it took to keep his tone noncombative. “No need to worry, Uncle. It never occurred to me to bring any child of mine near you. Now teleport us! I need to see proof that she’s alive.”
Efrayim scowled, but complied. Immediately, a strong wind began to gather around the three men. When Misery next blinked, he stood in a stone-walled corridor with his uncle and Yuri. There were several steel doors spaced along the hallway with small windows built into them at eye level. Misery stiffened as soon as he saw them. He hadn’t been in his uncle’s dungeon for decades, and he remembered too much of them now. Far too much, for Efrayim had once locked him in a cell for days when he was a teenager. He could still recall how the cell looked and felt even now.
Was Nulli here? The thought of her being kept in one of these cells could only build his rage–as well as his certainty that their short-lived relationship was at its end of days. No woman would want to stay with a man with family like Efrayim.
His uncle moved to one of the doors and unlocked it with a key he took from his trouser pocket. He stepped back without opening the door and swept a hand toward it. “You first. Your pet is less likely to attack you.”
Misery couldn’t help feeling a small burst of pride when he realized his uncle was cautious of Nulli. Human or not, she truly was unique in every way.
Still, he didn’t like the fact his uncle was the only one present who had a key. It seemed a little too convenient that he wasn’t willing to go in ahead of them. Was he planning to lock them inside?
Yuri stepped toward the door, but Misery stopped him, looking at Efrayim. “Give me the key, Uncle. Then I will go in.”
Efrayim scoffed and pushed the key in Misery’s hand, seeming to know just what his nephew suspected him of. “That’s paranoid of you, but very well.” He grabbed the door handle and twisted, shoving the door inward before swiftly stepping to one side of the doorway. “Now go. I want this human out of here as soon as pos–”
Yuri shoved past Misery and hurtled into Nulli’s cell. He let out a strangled roar.
All of Misery’s instincts seemed to activate at once as his brain registered the sound. He ran into the cell and stopped short of where Yuri stood in the center staring at the bed off to one side of the room. A handsome but very unconscious young man lay on the bed face up. His limp arm hung over the side of the bed frame, and at such an angle that Misery knew the limb was broken. Nulli wasn’t in the room.
“Fuck! That little bitch knocked my servant out!”
Misery turned in time to see his uncle stalk into the room. “Where is she? What have you done?”
Things to remember when breaking out of a dungeon:
- Be silent.
- Be wary.
- Take your time.
- Don’t be afraid to clock someone in the back of their head and steal their weapons.
- Stay in the shadows.
- Demons can smell better than we can.
- Stay downwind.
It took far longer than I’d hoped to pick my way through the maze of the house undectected, but seven knocked out workers later, I’d managed to find an exit.
The moment my feet hit the cobbled stones, I took off as fast as I could.
Where was I going?
Anywhere away from that house would do. I could only stay locked away for so long.
My heart raced, my lungs burned, and even though my muscles protested, I ran into the darkness of this foreign world. Damn that uncle of Misery’s. Every single meal was meat. The growls and pains in my belly only served to spur me on. What I wouldn’t give to find a garden.
No time for food, even though images of fruit salad and mixed vegetables haunted my waking dreams. My feet pounded out an even rhythm while my ears listened in for any sounds. A faint roar flitted on the breeze, but I wouldn’t dare stop, not until that house was out of sight.
After one too many rolling hills, I slowed to catch my breath. Stretched out in front of me was a massive city with hundreds upon hundreds of clustered buildings. Dozens of people moved through the streets. I eased my way down the narrow path before me and hid behind a small building. Each of the people roaming the streets had one thing in common. They all had normal eye coloration. “They’re human.”
Would any of them know a way out of here? Only one way to find out.
I stood and inched my way toward the street when a firm hand grasped my elbow. I whirled around, clutching the handle of one of the daggers I’d taken from the mansion.
“Easy! I’m not trying to hurt you.” A tall, slim man with long dark hair and green eyes lifted his hands. “You must be new here. I’m Stephen. Are you hungry? Thirsty? Did the greeters tell you everything you need to know?” His voice was both friendly and soothing.
He looked welcoming, but I wouldn’t trust anything. This was Hell after all. I held my ground and kept my mouth shut, even though my body latched onto the promise of food.
“This may seem confusing at first, but you’ll learn the ropes here soon enough. It’s not safe for you to be alone in dark alleys, Ms. I own the restaurant you’re hiding behind. Let me give you a meal. My treat?” He walked toward a door and gestured for me to follow.
Could this be a trap?
What if he was right? What if I wasn’t safe in this place? What if I wasn’t safe with him? I took a step back.
“I can serve you out here if it makes you more comfortable.” He stood in the doorway, eyes hopeful, and without a hint of malice.
“Out here is fine.”
“Excellent.” Stephen dashed into the building and returned with a small table, then a chair, and then a table cloth. “Have a seat, mystery woman. Will you tell me what you’d like?”
“No meat.” I sat when he pulled out my chair, and watched him from the corners of my eyes.
“Ah, a vegetarian. Can I get you something to drink while I whip this up?”
“Water is fine, but what I’d really like is some information.”
A look of surprise washed over Stephen’s chiseled face, and he lifted his eyebrows. “Information?”
“How the hell do I get back to the living world?”