Let’s just send a human…to the demon world?! (Journal Entry #51)

Coty had been right. Kindara did have something planned for Blaire. I’m not entirely certain of the details, but apparently Blaire has the unique gift of being able to pick up a foreign language within hours of hearing it. Someone said she’d spoken Dardaptoan after less than ten minutes in the room with Cormac Jareth. 

Apparently, Kindara is having a bit of difficulty in the demon realm with the communication aspect. Seems the great healer isn’t so great at everything she tries. 

She wants Blaire to work with her as her personal assistant in the demon world. The actual, honest-to-goodness demon world. 

Well, Coty and Aida and the rest of her sisters are completely against that idea. 

Considering that demons want to kill all of them, too. They think that the demon world will be too dangerous for them.

But Blaire…

Blaire says she wants to do it. She wants to make amends, I think, for whatever evil her father committed. 

At least that’s how I interpreted what she was feeling when I told her goodbye yesterday. 

She told me herself she wants to fill useful again. Like she matters.

Instead of like she’s been forgotten on the top floor of the hotel. Kindara has promised that Blaire will be well guarded. Ironically enough by two demon males. The demon king’s brothers. 

Blaire has asked to meet them first. She told me that she didn’t want to be guarded by males who scared her. That she needed to feel safe with them. 

Blaire wants to feel safe most of all. 

She’s one of the most hurting of Coty’s sisters, I think. From what I’ve figured out from context given by the different sisters, the three elder sisters would be the ones to deliberately draw their father’s ire. 

So that he’d leave the four younger girls alone. 

I understand that. I will do anything to protect my own sisters. Why should human females be any different?

Blaire has asked me to be there when she meets these demon protectors. 

I’m a bit…um…terrified.

I’ll admit it: in my limited experience, demons haven’t exactly been all that safe for me to be around. How do we know this isn’t some sort of trap?

Maybe Kindara traded Blaire to the demons as payment for her father’s sins? I mean, I don’t think that is something that would happen, but I think there was a story element that was similar to that in one of Alaun’s books.

Fiction, probably. But I’m not entirely certain where my sister got the idea. Maybe…it could happen?

Of course, I’m being ridiculous. Probably too much time stuck in the hotel with nothing but video-recorded classes and books to occupy my time. 

I’m getting loopy. 

Tomorrow…tomorrow we are meeting the demons who are supposed to protect Blaire. 

I’m trying not to freak out. What does one wear when meeting demons? Especially since demons have put a fifty-thousand-dollar price on your head? 

NOTE FROM CJ: Jume is referencing events that take place in Captured by the Hunter and Bound to the Demon. Both are now Available HERE!

Sometimes, I just feel things… (Journal Entry #50)

Destiny is our own. I heard that recently. 

I don’t believe it for one moment. I mean, Faith was attacked by demons yesterday. She was walking back from the company cafeteria with one of the young healers who was assigned to help with the study of demon medical knowledge, when the two of them were attacked by four demons.

I’m not supposed to know this. But Coty was so upset when I knocked on her door that I knew something had to have happened. Faith was hurt, a few scratches and bruises, but the healer who had been with her was horribly injured. 

They’ve given her the same demon concoction they gave me, and Faith said she’s getting better. She’s found her male, the healer has, and that undoubtedly helps. 

She’ll be ok. 

Coty said she saved Faith’s life and didn’t even hesitate. Of course she wouldn’t. She’s a Dardaptoan healer, after all. They will fight to the death to defend someone. Everyone knows that.

Except for Coty and her sisters. 

We chose to stay in the suite this time. Blaire was in there, and that poor female. She was extremely freaked out by what was happening.

And she felt a great deal of guilt. Coty had explained it to me. 

Blaire always felt she was to blame for what happened to the younger girls. It was a leftover from her childhood when their father would deliberately target one of the younger four sisters whenever Blaire had displeased him. Because he knew how much it hurt Blaire. 

I couldn’t help myself. The girl was hurting so strongly, I wrapped her in my arms the way I used to do Julea. “It will be ok. I promise. You did not cause this. It is the Goddess and the Four Fates at work.”

Then I had to tell them the legend of the goddess. And what I knew of the Four Fates. 

They had, of course, never heard these stories. I went into more depth, telling them the legends of the Woald family as well. 

felt like they were family somehow. Or they will be someday. 

You know how it is with Dardaptoans; how that familial bonds feel and grow over time. 

I feel that for the Boltier sisters. I don’t know if it’s our current situation, or if it’s something else. But I feel it. 

Blaire collapsed on my shoulder, just shaking. She never cried. Just shook against me. I did what I could to take her pain into my own heart, to lessen her grief somewhat. 

I’m not sure if I succeeded. 

When she finally pulled back, Coty was there with a mug of hot tea. “It’s not your fault we’re stuck here, Blaire. We’ve told you that. It’s his. And his alone. We’re just victims. We’ve been victims our whole lives.”

“But you don’t have to be victims forever,” I said gently. “We don’t know what the goddess has in store for each of us, whether Dardaptoan or not. This is just a season of your life now. And you have people who care about you here. I know that.”

She nodded. “I know. I just…I feel…

That was the word. Feel. 

Sometimes those of us with that little extra something don’t know how to put it into words. Feeling and knowing aren’t exactly the same thing as seeing. We’re not prognosticators. 

But we just sense some things at times. I do. I tend to sense feelings. Emotions. 

Empathy, my mother had always called it. Ambrea is the seer. She knows what will happen in the future. Riv gets premonitions, or feelings of danger or doom or rightness. 

I suspect some of the Boltiers have similar gifts. 

NOTE FROM CJ: Jume is referencing the short story “”…

I am the teacher now! (Journal Entry #49)

Every day after work and before I watch my class videos now, I spend at least two or three hours with Coty and her sisters. Aida now works with Joselyn and Aida’s former supervisor Anna McGregor. She is in Dardanos now. Something happened to her, but no one is talking about what it actually was. 

From what I have seen, she spends most of her time with Joselyn’s father, Joselyn, and Aida. Aida’s been sworn to secrecy on whatever project it is. Faith, too. 

Aida is no longer in the suite with us each day, now, either. It’s down to Blaire, Coty, Einsley, and Grayce. 

They are all so full of questions. Some that I have to research of the evenings before I can answer. 

None of them feel they are fully human, and after having been close to them for a while now, I can agree. They don’t feel entirely human. Not at all. 

I told them that. 

They just looked at me like I knew a dark secret. Then they told me about them. About how half of them just felt things, too. Coty knew when danger was coming. Blaire could feel how people felt. Just like me. 

I told her that; she was the first person of any Kind that I told that. 

I haven’t even told my sisters. Though I suspect Kellis knows. I think Kellis probably has the same gift, and it terrifies her.

Kellis is a ball of anxiety ninety percent of the time after all. 

For the first time since the first demon attack, and since Mak left, I am starting to feel happy again. (Even though I am probably defying like fifteen different rulings of Theo, Aodhan, and Dahr Rydere by being with them!)

I know we have been spotted together in the hotel. Especially Coty and I. Grayce and Einsley tend to stay in their suite and basically not come out. Too frightened. 

That’s another one of my goals. I don’t want them to be afraid to leave the safety of their suite. 

Coty has told me quite a bit about them all. About how their father treated them. Abused them. It’s no wonder they all seven greet life with a big dose of fear. The one male in all of the worlds who should have protected them didn’t. In fact, he targeted them. 

I just can’t understand that. 

Each day I spend with them, my determination just deepens.

They need an advocate in this world, and if those who should be taking care of them won’t step up to do it, then I will. 

Someone has to.

“So what about you?” Coty asked me as we shared a vegan human pizza in the small pizzeria. It was a lot more affordable in the human restaurants than it was in the Dardaptoan. Coty had nagged me to try it. I told her that I couldn’t do anything that came from actual animal meat. 

The mere thought…abhorant. We settled on a pineapple and mushroom. I will admit it was very, very good human pizza. Not as good as Dardaptoan, but still…very nice.

As we were eating, and discussing how much we were enjoying even this small bit of freedom, something completely odd occurred to me.

Do they have pizza in the demon world? 

I hope I am never even close to finding out!

Grayce is Kierce’s Mate! (Journal Entry #48)

The Boltier sisters are like the human versions of my own family. It made me homesick and it helped me not feel so alone. Aida and Blaire were a lot like Coty. Hurting and afraid for their younger sisters so much. Drew was extremely snarky, once she opened up. She liked to crack jokes at Theo’s expense.

Jokes that I understood very well. She reminded me of Riv. 

Einsley, Faith and Grayce were just quiet young females stuck in a world they most certainly did not understand. Faith was enjoying her new position with the Jareth Equa though.

But it’s Grayce who is the most confused. She’s only twenty-one. Her twenty-second birthday is still a few weeks away. That’s when, if she was Dardaptoan, she would become a legal adult in our society. 

She was terrified of that day. I could feel that, too. 

Mostly because of Kierce. 

Kellis’s former lover has made it known to everyone that Grayce is his female. Once she becomes of age, he’s probably going to turn a bit…relentless.

It explains why I saw Kierce floating around the hallways every time I left my room. He wasn’t there to look for Kellis; he was watching over his female. 

Kellis had made it clear she wanted him to leave the girl alone, too. Not because she was jealous or anything—but I think Kellis feels protective over her, too.

It’s hard not to.

No one was really giving her much choice. It was just assumed that because he was her male, as soon as she turned of age, she’d leave her sisters behind and just…go with him. 

She’d have to be converted into Dardaptoan, too. And from what the rumors have been, that is an extremely painful process. And not even guaranteed to work.

She and Kierce could both die. 

I wouldn’t want to do it. Not at her age. Even if I was feeling the strange ties between me and my male that I have no doubt she will start to have soon. 

Kellis has very definite opinions on the subject. She wants Kierce to give Grayce far more time than he was probably planning to. But he says that because demons are after her, he wants her Dardaptoan as fast as possible.

It’s safer for her that way.

Which I also agree with. But…what about her sisters? I wouldn’t want to leave mine behind, to face horrific threats like demons by themselves. I couldn’t.

I’d die to protect any of my sisters. I have no doubt that Grayce feels the same.

Apparently, Theo thinks I’m his responsibility…(Journal Entry #47)

I got started educating Coty and her sisters the next afternoon after finishing my work for Alaun. My sister knew I was up to something, but Alaun was not the type to question me about my actions, at all. Thank goodness. If she told me this was a bad idea, I’m not certain what I would actually do.

Probably exactly what I am doing now. 

I have had time to think. And to come to a resolution. Regardless of what threats exist against us out there, and for whatever reason, we have done nothing wrong, and nothing to deserve being forgotten about.

Maybe Theo and his cronies—and there really isn’t another word that describes them quite as well as cronies—were doing what they could to keep everyone safe. Maybe they were just overwhelmed and busy with their new females, but hiding us away on the top floor of the hotel probably isn’t the way to go about it. 

I have printed out—I requested a printer from Theo, and he was happy to oblige, though he wasn’t paying much attention to me when I made my way back down to the office. 

I found out where Coty’s sister Drew ended up yesterday. 

She’s now working in Theo’s office, doing what Mishja used to do. Mishja and I were replaced easily enough. Drew was in there when I went to speak with Theo about an update on my case—and to request what it was I needed.

I didn’t even think about filling him in on what I was planning. 

Drew thanked me for being kind to her sister the day before. I just nodded. I liked the female I met yesterday. She reminded me a great deal of Kellis. Willing to do anything to protect her sisters, but oh, so very afraid. 

Deep down.

I could feel that about her, just as I can about Kellis. 

Theo told me to order whatever I wanted, using supply forms from his office. Apparently, he was bankrolling my stay here in the hotel, as a close male relative. 

Yeah. I’ve worked for that male for fifty years, and he hasn’t visited me even once since I have been stuck here. But he apparently has some warped sense of responsibility for me. 

But let’s be honest—I can’t afford even the smallest suite here in the hotel, even at a week or monthly rate. Neither can my sisters. If someone wasn’t fronting the bill, I would no doubt be at home—endangering everyone I love.

No. I’ll pack my bag and hit the road alone before I ever let me be a danger to them. 

My printer and laptop were delivered two hours after I ordered them. I hadn’t even ordered a laptop, but there was a note in the box from Theo, saying it was a gift. 

Well, my pride was insulted, of course. But beggars can’t be choosers. The old laptop I have been working on is a Mac from a good fifteen years ago. It was extremely slow on everything. 

But this one…will help me do what I need to do for Coty and her sisters. 

They have at least one friend here in Dardanos now. 

Human Captives…Just as forgotten as I am… (Journal Entry #46)

Well, so I was feeling some bravado when I was speaking with Coty today. But now that I’m back in my suite, doubts are filling up. I mean, what if it had been ordered that the humans be kept in ignorance? Even though they were the Dahn’s cousins? 

I could go to jail easily for a decade for defying an order from the dhar or one of his top advisors. 

But then again…what was so different between a Dardaptoan jail cell in the basement and the suite I now occupy? 

Size. And decorations. The jail cells for females are in the basement of this very hotel. They are painted much like my suite, with off-white walls and gray accents. I wouldn’t be able to do my pottery or walk around the hotel. Or work. 

That is about it. I have seen the jails and the female prisoners many times before. They even have their own courtyard!

I, on the other hand, am not allowed out in the courtyards. Too easy for demons to come for me outside of the walls, apparently. 

I spent the rest of the evening making a list of everything I thought Coty might like to know. I wish she had permission to enter the libraries of the Houses, but she doesn’t. 

She can stay on the main public floors of the hotel, visit the courtyard, the private family pool—though she said that wasn’t about to happen anytime soon—and our particular hallway on the sixth floor. 

I’m allowed in the public floors, the libraries, Theo’s Hall of Justice, the pools, the cafeteria for employees in the basement, and our hallway. So not too much different. 

We made plans to meet the next afternoon, after I finished my tasks for Alaun.

I’m not going to let them be forgotten here. 

They are human. They won’t live as long as I will; it isn’t right that their lives be spent being held captive here. 

What kind of lives can they have here trapped on the sixth floor?

Coty and the Boltier Sisters… Captives of the Jareth (Journal Entry #45)

I couldn’t believe what she was saying. 

But then again…yes, I could. “They just said don’t deal with demons and shoved you up on the sixth floor? And forgot about you?”

Coty nodded. “Yes. Basically. Most of us, anyway. Except for Faith. She was an intern, now she’s an assistant. Joselyn Taniss asked her if she wanted to help her with some research or something, a week ago. Faith says she’s mostly just entering data into an Excel sheet all day. Her, not Aida, even though Aida is a brilliant doctor. We don’t understand why she’s not working with Joselyn—except maybe they don’t trust us. Drew’s friend Mickey came for her, too. Took her off somewhere today. She hasn’t been back yet. I’m not even sure what is going on. Or what the rest of us are supposed to do with ourselves. Other than don’t cause trouble and don’t invite demons to the hotel. So…what’s your story?”

“I guess it’s not that much different,” I told her. “For some reason paid assassins were hired to kill me. Fifty thousand dollars. It’s been mostly demons, I think. I’m not even sure what I’ve done to get their attention. My sister was staying with me, but I can’t expect her to stay with me here forever. And…if demons are coming for m-me, then I d-don’t want—”

“Your sister anywhere near them. I get it. I really do. Sorry this is happening to you. At least we kind of understand it. Our father helped the Taniss guy kill like thousands, so people want revenge. Never mind that we had no part of it.”

The bitterness was hard to miss. How could it not be? I felt the same thing. 

Coty Boltier

“So we’re just supposed to hide. Until they tell us they have the answers and we are free to go. Prisoners. Even with all of this around us.”

“As long as we can afford to p-pay for it. I was told the room was comped, but food and clothing—that’s all on me. And what I can make working part-time for my sister. She writes novels.”

“They can’t logically expect us to just…live like this forever?” Coty asked. “I mean, I thought…I guess I don’t know how vampires really work. I have so many questions. Questions no one can answer, because other than the guards on our floor, you’re the first vampire to even talk to one of us. Besides Joselyn and her research assistant, but all they tell Faith is next to nothing. Mickey to Drew—and that’s just because they were kind of friends before all of this happened. What are we supposed to think? I don’t even know what a Dardaptoan is. Just that it’s a vampire. Maybe. And demons are real, too. And mermaids, but they are monsters. We don’t even know if we’re safe here.

I couldn’t believe it. They should have at least assigned someone to serve as an aid to Coty and her sisters. To answer their questions and help them transition into the world they now found themselves in.

Instead…they had just been forgotten.

Just like me.

Well, I was going to change all that. 

I leaned toward my new friend. “Y-you ask me whatever questions you and your sisters have, Coty. I promise you I will answer you as b-best I can. Because you deserve to know the truth.”

“You won’t get in trouble for this?”

“I don’t care if I do or not. Some things…just have to be done because they are the right thing to do. Period.”

NOTE FROM CJ: Coty and her sisters first appeared in Captured by the Hunter.

Time just keeps ticking away… (Journal Entry #44)

I’ve been alone for days now. It’s a different world, alone. My work for Alaun is only ever going to be part-time. We knew that going in. Classes take up another small fraction of my day. That still leaves…hours.

Hours to sit in my room on the sixth floor and just…think.

Mak is gone. He’s been sent somewhere that I am not allowed to know about. On a secret mission. I suspect he’s guarding Kindara now, in the actual demon world. 

I feel like I’ve lost my only real friend in the world. 

I can’t stand it. I’m going to get out there. Actually walk around of the evening. See what the hotel has to offer without having to have my big sister there to hold my hand. I’m going to stay where there are other people. I have my phone with me, too. 

I can’t do this; I can’t stay in my room forever. I already feel invisible. I don’t want to be invisible, too. I’m on the sixth floor. Next to Joselyn’s cousins, though they rarely venture out. When our paths cross, we rarely speak. They are just as afraid as I am. 

Demons want to kill them, too. No one is exactly sure why demons are suddenly so angry at Dardaptoans. Especially since their new queen is one of us. Then again, maybe that is it.

This time when I opened the door, there was a young female leaving the room next door.

She paused and stared at me, a suspicious look on her face. She had green eyes, like Mickey’s. She is a head shorter than I am, with straight dark hair. 

“H-hello.” I can’t stand it. Not connecting with my neighbors. I have spent the last sixty-eight years living with and working the farm in Woald Hollow. It was not unusual for us to meet up once or twice a month for cookouts and sitting around the fire, roasting marshmallows while Alleah and the Woald cousins would play. 

This…this floor in the hotel is nothing like that of the ruling Equa and Equan. It looks much more like your generic chain hotel anywhere in the world. There are no beautiful decorations, just a few floral arrangements—plastic—here and there. The doors to the small suites are plain and utilitarian. 

It’s barren. 

It’s also where government refugees were housed. There were four suites three doors down from mine used to house the witnesses in some of Theo’s trials. A guard stands at the door to keep them from intermingling. Another three guards were throughout the hall—to guard me, and to guard the Boltier sisters. 

From demons. 

“I-I’m Jume. I’m stuck here in hell, too. Would you like some company? We can share a guard? Make it easy when the demons finally c-catch up to us.”

“What?” She shot me a suspicious look. “What do you know about demons?”

I pushed back the sleeve of my yellow vestis. The scars would be with me always. “They came for me, too. And I don’t know why. It’s the reason I am stuck here on this floor—instead of at home with my sisters.”

“I’m sorry. I…demons want us dead, too.” She held out her hand, in the typical greeting for humans. I shook her hand quickly. “I’m Coty Boltier. Third sister.”

“Jume Woald, fourth sister. Of seven.”

“There are seven of us, too. Strange that. We have seven cousins, as well.”

“Some say seven is the number of the goddess. I’m not sure I believe in that. I’m headed to the cafe. I want real food.”

“I just have to get out of the room. My sisters…sometimes I just need quiet.”

“I understand. Would you like some company?”

“I’d like that very much.”