Sam grimaced at Dev. “What do you mean two demons were found drained?”
He slid his phone into his pocket. “The police found their remains this morning right out in the open for the world to see. Luckily, the demons were in a human form so we don’t have to do cleanup with the mundanes. But that makes Ash think it was done as a warning to us and not to scare the humans. Why else leave them exposed for the police when they’d assume the killings were just a bunch of unlucky humans who were mugged?”
That made sense to her, but she did have one question. “If they’re in human form, how does Acheron know they’re demons?”
“Their remains were sent to the deputy medical examiner for Orleans parish. Simone’s a half demon married to a half demon demigod and they live with two ghosts. If that’s not enough, her boss is a Squire with a long history of covering up preternatural blips on the human radar. Believe me, she knows demons when she sees them—both before and after she autopsies them.”
Sam gave a short, dark laugh. “This is an interesting town.”
“Ain’t it though? And you have to figure Acheron can tell the difference between a demon and a human too. Not like he’d mistake one for another.”
That was a very valid point. But it still concerned her. “Any idea who killed them and why?”
“Not a bit. You got any ideas? Ash said they’d been completely drained of blood. Other than that, they looked normal. Simone thinks it’s some kind of demon ritual where another group must have needed their blood for something. Why else would they drain it out of them? Not the usual modus operandi for demon deaths.”
Sam fell silent as she remembered what she’d seen last night through the slug demon’s eyes….
The demon on the floor as the Daimons fed on him. Oh my God. In that one moment she knew exactly what’d happened.
“Daimons did it.”
He frowned. “What?”
She ignored his question as a wicked premonition went through her. There was no doubt in her mind what had happened and who this message was meant for.
“Can Acheron get me a photo of the demons they found?”
Dev scowled. “Why?”
“I have a bad feeling. I saw the Daimons kill a demon in their hall and I’m wondering if it was one of the two the police found on the street.”
He frowned. “What are the odds of that? I think it’s a long shot.”
“What if it’s not?” What if they really did want her to know what was going on? It could be some kind of head game or something else entirely.
Either way, she had to know.
Dev pulled out his phone and started texting. Less than a minute later, he received a text back. He checked it, then held the phone up for her to see. “Look familiar?”
The pictures expanded until she could clearly see the two vics on the ground. Their pale features were contorted by the last few horrific moments of their lives. Their faces were a permanent mask of their torture. The worst part was that she recognized one of them.
Oh yeah, this was really not good for them.
Sam met Dev’s gaze. “The one on the right. I saw the Daimons killing him.”
The color drained from Dev’s face as he looked at the picture. “You sure?”
She nodded. “The slug demon was his servant. There were several Daimons feeding on him until he died. I saw the whole thing…. Well, not his actual death, but that I felt as the slug demon so there’s no doubt that the Daimons feeding on him are what killed him. They did this.”
Dev cursed. “They’re taking demon powers the way they take a Were-Hunter’s.”
“That has to be what allows them to walk in daylight. It has to be. Nothing else makes sense.”
Still there was doubt in his eyes. “But they don’t get that ability when they take down one of us, and we walk in daylight.”
“Why else do it then? The Daimons basically have the same powers as most demons. More so most of the time…except for daylight. There’s no other reason for them to target the demon population. Not when humans are such easy prey for them. You know a demon doesn’t just lie down and let them feast. Not without a brutal fight, hence the bruising on the bodies.”
Dev considered that. She might be right. Why else would the Daimons feed on a demon? “You think that’s why they were trying to get to you? See if they could pull some powers out of you?”
“No. Dark-Hunter blood’s poisonous to them.”
Oh yeah, he’d forgotten that. “Then why come after you?”
“I have no idea. Maybe because I saw them?”
“How would they know that?”
Dev tucked his phone in his pocket as he tried to think of what the Daimons could want from Sam. But he kept hitting a wall. “Did they say anything to you when they showed up in your house? Did you pick up on anything from them?”
“What I picked up was useless. Friggin’ pansy Daimons. More worried about their love life than me. The only thing they said was that they were taking me to Stryker.”
“The Spathi commander?”
“Yeah. Or it was someone else sitting on his throne surrounded by Daimons in their command center.”
Dev let out a low whistle. “You’re in trouble. That is one seriously messed-up man with a hard-on for Acheron and Apollo in the worst way. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do to kill either one.”
“I assume he hates Ash for being the Dark-Hunter leader. Apollo because he’s Stryker’s father.”
Sam gaped at the last thing she expected to hear. “What?”
Dev nodded. “Apollo created the Apollite race intending to use them to take over the Atlantean empire, then Greece and finally the Olympian pantheon. He wanted to rule the world and displace Zeus as the king of the gods. But when the Apollites killed Apollo’s mistress and child, he went postal on them and in his madness forgot he was cursing his own half Apollite child and grandchildren too. Stryker never got over it and he’s been looking for a way to kill his father ever since. Damn that whole vengeance quest. Not that I blame him. I’d be looking for blood too if I had to watch my children die because my dad was a flaming moron who couldn’t keep his dick in his pants.”
Sam held her hand up as she tried to digest everything he was telling her. But it wasn’t making any sense. If what Dev was saying was true, Stryker would be…
Acheron’s age. Which would be over eleven thousand years old.
No. It wasn’t possible. “Wait. There aren’t any Daimons that old. Most of them drop after a few decades. Some lucky ones every once in a blue moon might make it to a hundred or better. But they never—”
“Stryker has a whole army of people who are thousands of years old.”
Sam refused to believe it. “Bullshit.” How would that have failed to make the go-round in the Dark-Hunter gossip mill?
Dev shook his head, his gaze burning into hers with his sincerity. “No, for real. I know this for a fact. The Spathi Daimons are all thousands of years old.”
She still found that hard to believe. She was five thousand years old and in all that time she’d never seen a Daimon more than a few decades old. The Dark-Hunters were too proficient at hunting them. They always found their prey. “How?”
“They’re real good at what they do. Killing humans and surviving.”
“No, not that. How do you know they’re out there? It could all be a lie or like the Dread Pirate Roberts where it’s one guy saying he’s this Stryker while the real Stryker has been dead for centuries.”
Dev grinned as if he appreciated her Princess Bride reference. “One of Ash’s servants happens to be Stryker’s son and is over eleven thousand years old himself. I’ve had many a talk with Urian about his father and their history.”
That hit her like a punch in the gut. “And Acheron has never seen fit to tell us about this?”
“And risk you freaking out? Why would he?”
Because Daimons with that kind of training had to be brutal to fight. “Don’t you think we need to know this?”
“You’ve lived how many centuries without it?”
Yes, but knowledge was power and they had a right to know who and what they were fighting. “You’re just like Acheron.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“It wasn’t intended as one.”
“I know. But it irritates you that you’re not irritating me.” His grin widened. “I can live with that.”
She rolled her eyes at him. “What ever.”
“Give me ’tude, woman. I live for it. And none of this is germane to why the Daimons are now after you.”
No kidding. “That is the question.”
Dev sobered as he gave her a look that chilled her all the way to her missing soul. “No. The real question is…how many more of them are going to come after you?”