The Underworld (Chapter Nine, page 1 of 6)

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Andre walked for three hours along the trail leading from the Lake of Souls in the direction the demons had gone. With a knack for tracking the creatures, he knew when he was close, even before the two appeared on the path before him.

Darkyn and Rhyn were in the middle of a stare down with one another, growling and poised as if for a fight, despite the fact they had neither the time nor luxury of postponing their real mission to see which creature was stronger.

Andre wasn't surprised by the scene. Demons were temperamental creatures, prone to acting out of instinct primarily and viewing the world and everything in it as either belonging to them or beneath them. They were hardest to deal with when hungry, agitated or hunting, circumstances when their emotions were rawer than usual, and logic was generally lost on them. These two in particular were immensely powerful - and stubborn.

Andre's urge to calm those around him was born more out of necessity than anything else. A powerful empath, negative emotions clung to him like his shadow. He picked up on the feelings of others even without diving into their minds, and their instability managed to disrupt his own inner peace. It was like swallowing poison.

The eldest of the Immortals on the Council That Was Seven, Andre had honed his ability and self-control over thousands of years. What once drove him over the edge was now simply a nuisance. He hadn't dulled his sensitivity, simply learned to bear the fruits of feeling what those around him did with patience and compassion.

But never weakness. Inaction and fear were never part of who he was, even when facing down two demons strong enough to crush him.

"Does winning the Toughest Demon Award somehow transport you out of here?" he asked calmly of the two bristling demons.

Rhyn's jaw ticked, a sign he'd heard, while Darkyn remained motionless.

"You're right. This is a much better use of your time than rescuing Darkyn's mate or preventing the world from collapsing when Harmony succeeds in her mission."

That did it. His casual tone drew both of their hostile gazes.

Andre smiled gently, ignoring the anger he sensed directed now at him. Just as their emotions had an effect on him, his had the same effect on those around him. Another reason to always remain calm and open.

"Are you ready to do what we're here for?"

Neither responded.

"The trees want us to go west. If they have a west in the underworld." He glanced at the suns that had been frozen in the sky for a few hours before starting forward. "I'll be at the palace, whenever you all care to join me."

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