Friday, July 31, 2015

He Entered a Place No One Could Leave From

The next day, Victor woke up early in the morning. He found Pauline in front of his room, with his clothes. That was helping much since he wore a suit on the night of the accident. He decided to wear it, though.

He had enough time to wander around. No one woke up yet and no one was at the reception either. He walked inside the restaurant and met Abel. He glared at him before he walked in the kitchen. Victor couldn't understand why Abel was so annoyed all the time. He didn't do anything. Was it because they took care of him for a year? But he didn't ask them to do it.

He sat at a nearer table with less chairs. Evan was the next person to enter. He noticed Victor and sat with him.

"How was your night, Victor?" The younger man chuckled.

"Not as eventful as yours." Evan laughed loudly.

"Let's do something today. Let's go to the lake." Victor leaned over the table with a glint of excitement in his eyes.

"There is a lake nearby?" He asked, just like a child. Evan chuckled.

"After lunch. We can skip dinner since the twilight at the lake is something you have to see." Victor nodded eagerly.

"Deal." Evan smiled.

"Now, where is that famous coffee of Abel?" Right when he addressed, Abel walked out of the kitchen with a trail of fresh fruits, tea and coffee. "Ah, I love this hotel." Victor stared down at his napkin. That hotel was indeed special.

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Throughout the period of time he spent with Evan at breakfast, Victor learned a few important details about that hotel. Only special people were guests because it was pretty expensive. It was a hotel that had everything for everyone. Not many children entered it because it was seen as a place to escape the tumultuous family or business life. It was a place to escape reality.

He learned that some women would come for affairs. It was a place that didn't grab attention and it was placed on a hill. The domain was large and it was covered with mist on winter.

He learned that the only staff he ever saw was the brothers, Pauline and the receptionist, Guillermo. The manager of the hotel was a young woman who inherited it from her father.

"I don't know what her name is. I only saw her once. She's always busy doing whatever she does. But I heard she is a true beauty and she manages the hotel very well. Everyone calls her Mistress." Victor’s curiosity increased. That woman saved him. He wanted to meet her.

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After breakfast, he went to look around. He started with the first floor. When he passed the big mirror in front of the L shaped stairs, he couldn't help but take a glance at it. His reflection was the same yet different. He couldn't quite point out why he was getting that feeling.

Once he got on the first floor, he couldn't help but go for the grand piano. It was an amazing piece and someone sung at it the night before. The carpet was different but not by much. The walls near the stairs were empty but as he was getting deeper down the corridor, he could remark more and more paintings; portraits to be exact. They were all drawn in a way that would make the viewer feel watched.

Once he got in the center that was separating three halls, he smiled at the sight of the piano. No one was there but he did notice a lamp on it. He looked above when he heard music. It was coming from the second floor.

On the way back to the stairs, Victor passed an important portrait. He didn't even glance at it. He didn't notice the resemblance to someone he knew.

As he was getting closer to the second floor, the music became louder. He smiled and ventured down the hall. Unlike the first floor, the second had sculptures as well. They were created by someone very good at it. He saw miniature versions of some great pieces from all over the world. They were made carefully, to the smallest detail.

He was ready to enter the living area when someone collided into him. It was Kain. He bowed his head as apology and ran away. Victor got dizzy from that friction. Kain wasn't a big guy but he was a man nonetheless. The collision wasn't exactly light. Anyway, Victor had a mission. He only got the chance to take a step forward when someone else interrupted.

"Hey, Victor! Let's go see the lake!" Victor frowned. The music stopped and he was forced to abort his mission.

When he got down, he couldn’t help but give Evan the mean eye. The man chuckled while he was putting on the coat.

“Did I interrupt something?” Victor’s gaze only intensified. “Ok, so I did. Was it something interesting?”

“Yes. It was.” Evan shrugged and waited for his new friend to get a coat.

Much like before, the receptionist told Victor to take one from the back room. Victor smiled at Guillermo and thanked him before he hurried after Evan.

“He has no idea.” Guillermo heard Abel comment from the side. The young receptionist blinked and turned back to his business.

“No one does, until she shows up.” Abel nodded and walked back into the restaurant.

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“That’s amazing!”

They weren’t even close to the lake when Victor said that. He could finally see how the hotel looked like and what was so special about that domain.

“It’s so large and beautiful!” He said again. Evan chuckled and put his hands in his pockets.

“And it’s in the middle of nowhere.” He added. Victor brushed that comment aside.

“I can’t believe I never noticed it. I did research on almost every hotel in Rome and around it.” Evan stopped and watched him. Victor was just like a child. He was going everywhere he could see, to take either every detail in or simply gasp.

“No one does. You pass it without a thought and when you finally see it, you know.” Victor walked closer to his new friend and shuddered. It was really cold.

“What do you know?” Evan’s expression changed. It wasn’t very obvious –or maybe Victor was dense- but his whole figure became ghostly.

“It attracts you slowly with the biggest temptations. There’s nothing this hotel can’t get for you and the comfort is high quality. You return once, twice and at some point, you find it difficult to leave it. In no time, you find yourself engulfed in the magic of it.” Victor listened Evan closely but he only extracted the things he liked. He didn’t read between the lines.

Evan raised his head and stared at the hotel. It looked brand new, like it didn’t even have a few decades behind. He noticed a woman watching them from the window. She was behind the curtain but he could see her eyes; those hauntingly green eyes.

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They walked through the forest, on a fresh path. At some point, it forked in four more paths. However, Evan seemed to know the way very well.

“You come here often, don’t you?” Evan chuckled.

“I don’t have a choice. This place holds my soul.” Victor nodded and patted his friend. He walked a little bit faster and left Evan a few feet behind. The Irish man wasn’t joking when he said that. It was the truth; it wasn’t only him, either. That was the reality he was living in.

The forest was old and it was mainly formed of old trees. It looked really calming and nice by day. He was sure it was the opposite at night. I anything, it looked like one of the oldest forests in ancient books. He couldn’t help but remember his mother’s fairy tales.

“My mother used to tell me stories when I was young.”  Evan raised an eyebrow and walked next to his friend. “She used to tell me about Greek gods and their adventures and wars.” He continued. Evan was curious where that was going. “He told me one the story of Pan.”

“Pan?” Evan asked uncertain. Victor nodded.

“Pan was the god of the wild, hunting and companion of the nymphs. He was depicted as being half human, while having the legs and horns of a goat, just like a faun.” He continued. Victor could still hear his mother’s voice if he closed his eyes.

“Tonight, I will tell you about Pan.” Little Victor stared at his mother in confusion.

“Peter Pan?” The older woman chuckled and shook her head.

“No. This is another Pan. One who loved nature; whose home was a forest.” Little Victor frowned.

“Isn’t that unhygienic?” The woman raised an eyebrow in surprise.

“Where did you learn such a big word?” He only blinked innocently. “Did you enter my library again?” He bit his lips and kept the puppy eyes. The woman smirked and narrowed her eyes at him playfully.

“According to a myth, one day he came across a beautiful nymph called Syrinx. He tried to seduce her, but she managed to run away. Followed by the god, she sought refuge among her sisters, who transformed her into a reed. When the wind started blowing, a melody was produced. Pan, not knowing which reed Syrinx was transformed into, took seven or nine of them and joined them side by side in decreasing length, thus creating his musical instrument that bore the name of the nymph.”  She changed the subject. She told him the story instead of making him feel guilty. That was probably what made her such an amazing mother. She was using stories not punishments.

“So he didn’t end up with the girl?” The woman stared incredibly at her son.

“Who knows?” Little Victor got on his feet on the bed and bloated with pride.

“I will find my girl, mom. And I will fight for her. I will get her in the end!” He said proudly. The woman watched her son with love and amusement.

“I’m sure you will.”

Evan stared at his friend as he smiled to himself. He was remembering something from his childhood, something that made him happy. He wanted that too. He’s been in the hotel for so long that he couldn’t even remember how his mother looked. He missed her, though. He really missed having a life.

While Victor was still reminiscing old times, Evan heard a branch crack. He narrowed his eyes warily and scanned the surroundings. He heard another branch crack and a few crows. He fell eyes watching him but didn’t feel anything dangerous. He glanced behind at a certain tree. In that white cover of snow, he saw two blue eyes. They were being watched by one of her slaves.

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When they finally got to the lake, Victor couldn’t help but gasp again. Evan laughed at his childish reaction. Besides, the lake was frozen. What was indeed beautiful was the landscape. Victor swore he saw it before.

“It’s a little bit early. It gives us enough time to bond, don’t you think?” Evan’s easy going tone and attitude was making Victor feel like he a teenager all over again.

“Manly bonding, eh?” Evan winked and leaned against a tree. He lit up a cigarette and looked in the distance.

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“What are they doing?” Kain and Abel glanced at each other before they turned to the chair. It was one of those high back chairs made from expensive red tapestry. The woman was hiding behind it. They could only see her hand, swaying with the music.

“Nothing. They’re going to the lake.” They heard her hum along the music.

“Did Evan say something unnecessary?” Abel looked at his brother and urged him to tell her something so they could leave.

“No. He didn’t say anything. They’re talking about some stupid stories about Greek gods.” She chuckled and put her hand down. She got up and stopped the gramophone. She turned towards them with those big green eyes of hers. They froze as soon as they looked into them.

“Good. Keep an eye on our special guest and don’t let him walk away.” They bowed and walked to their duties. She sighed and sat in silence. “No one walks away from the Moonflower Hotel.” 

18. Manipulative Perseveration

Days passed surprisingly fast. After she got discharged from hospital, Rowan became really harsh when training her. He jumped straight into the hard exercises after she got pushed on the street. It might have been by mistake, it might have not, it didn’t matter. Chris proved to be a good teacher, as well. Ezekiel was always there to inspect and help if he had to while Eneizar was staying on the chair bored, most of the time.
One week became a month. One month passed quickly and so did two, three and eventually, four months. It was the beginning of summer. Mark and the rest were already planning their vacation. On the other hand, Zoe’s parents were planning a vacation too.
“I have good news!” Ezekiel finished exams too. He was excited for his break but he had something to be even happier about.
When he barged in her room, he didn’t expect to see her in a towel. He didn’t know if he should cover his eyes or turn around. On the other side, she didn’t really care. She got used to people invading her privacy.
“Have you seen my bra? The red one.” Ezekiel froze. She glanced at him and rolled her eyes. He wasn’t a child anymore so he didn’t have to act so innocently. Ezekiel was anything but innocent. “Haven’t you seen women in towels before? What are you doing when you go over Alice’s?”
He blushed heavily and coughed, trying to hide his embarrassment. Ezekiel didn’t imagine when they first met but she was really blunt.
“That’s none of your business.” She chuckled and walked in front of him. He took a step back out of reflex.
“Come on, Zek. Are you playing doctor with her?” She joked, making his eyes widen in embarrassment.
“Wh-Are you even-Are you serious?” She stared at him bemusedly before she leaned in a little.
“Do I look serious to you?” She asked in a bemused tone.
Zoe was teasing him a lot lately and she had reasons to but that didn’t mean Ezekiel liked that side of her. Her eyes would glint evilly and she would torture her victims slowly, enjoying their suffer.
“What have you became, Zoe?” She stopped and blinked. Ezekie noticed something thrown under her desk and rushed there. He grabbed it and threw it at her head. “Here. Now, my news. We’re going to Japan for a festival!” The joy came back in his eyes and he started to jump up and down while clapping.
“Good for you. Now turn around. I really want to change now.”
Ezekiel turned instantly but that didn’t mean he couldn’t continue with his happiness.
“Actually, my whole department is going. Andy seemed really excited by it last night. Chen is already planning and I wanted to ask if you want to come?” He didn’t hear any response so he glanced at her over his shoulder. It was weird how fast she changed.
“It’s your festival.” Zoe started but Ezekiel didn't seem to understand her point. “Yours. You go enjoy yourself. Drink sake for me too.”
Ezekiel shook his head and jumped on her bed. The pillow was really soft and cuddly.
“The teacher said we can invite someone. Each person for student. I can’t ask anyone except you.”
She sat at the desk. The break was over and had to work on Fallen. Alec was going crazy after she told him she had no idea how to continue it.
“Come on, Zoe. Aren’t I your best friend and vice versa?”
“I’m starting to doubt that.” She mumbled. “Ask Alice.” He shook his head, looking exactly like a bad and stubborn puppy. “Why do you want me to come so badly?” That was when an invisible light turned on above her head. “I see ghosts.”
“Well, I was more thinking that you could use a break, far away from everything that’s going on here. But now that you brought it up, you seeing ghosts is a plus.” He smiled widely and tilted his head to the side. “What do you say, best friend?” She grabbed the pack of gum from the table and threw it at him.
“I say you’re a little manipulative shit.”
Ezekiel chuckled, that sounding like a yes to him. He could only imagine how much fun that festival was going to be.

Later that day, her parents called. She had to come up with an excuse for every plan her mother did. She couldn’t go to Europe with them because she had an important patient; she couldn’t go to USA with them because she had to leave town for some business and she couldn’t go visit her grandparents because she was going to Japan.
“Are you sure she’s not going to surprise you with a visit after you just lied to her?” Rowan asked, sitting on the couch behind her, who was standing on the floor only leaning against the couch.
She knew her mother was going to visit and she was going to appear in a bad moment. But that was far from present and she didn’t want to think about it.
“I am going to Japan next week. That wasn’t a lie.”
Rowan raised an eyebrow and leaned back against the couch. They already finished the training and were enjoying the peace. It was rare for the house to be so quiet and empty.
“You better take care of this place,” She threw him a nasty look, making him nod.
“Of course! This is my home too!” Rowan exclaimed in his defense.
Zoe would have preferred if it wasn’t like that. Her home became the headquarters of every suspicious guy that had a connection to the Underworld.
“You should take a few things with you, though. Japanese are famous for their creepy spirits.” Rowan started, ruffling his own hair since he had nothing better to do.
Zoe stared at him blankly. She grabbed her laptop off the table and started to do something. When she finished, she showed it to Rowan.
“What am I looking at?”
“How people think Japanese ghosts look like.” She responded. Rowan was overwhelmed by that subject.
“Have you seen one?” He asked in return. She shook her head. “Then maybe they’re right. Maybe they look like that.”
“Japan is an island in the middle of the sea.” Rowan would disapprove that a little. It wasn’t exactly in the middle of the sea. “They think that ghosts of the dead can’t leave the island. There’s nothing that connect the Japanese land to the continent. That’s why the bad spirits stay on the island.”
“So, is that right?”
“Spirits don’t care about land and water. They are spirits. They can’t drown, can they?”
“But it does make sense. Islands are the most haunted places on Earth.” Rowan rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
“That’s not true. Like I said, spirits don’t need something to walk on. They appear and disappear as they see fit. I think Japanese spirits are very proud but most of them are doing what they learned while being alive. Your personality doesn’t change after you die.” That made sense, too. But Rowan was one of the people who wanted to believe in legends not reality.
“What if you find a bad ghost?”
She smiled cutely and placed her laptop on the table.
“That’s not going to happen.” Rowan looked genuinely curious. “I’m going to ignore every single ghost I see and act like a normal girl.” She seemed so innocent that he might have believed her.
Rowan chuckled and turned on the TV. It was almost time for his drama.
“Good luck with that.”
She stuck her tongue out at him before she got back to sketching.
Her plan for the next week was simple: do her work in advance so that she could do whatever she wanted afterwards. Alec was thrilled since he wanted to go out with his girlfriend too. It was all good, except a little detail that she completely bypassed.

“No.”
She was having an argument with Mehrdir. It started that morning and despite the different interventions from both demons and humans, it was still going on.
“You’re not coming with me on my break. Let me repeat, in case you didn’t hear correctly. My break.” She snarled at her babysitter.
Mehrdir’s eyes were darker than they usually were. He was seriously annoyed and wanted to punch her badly.
He tried punching her but Eneizar appeared before he had the chance. He pushed her against the wall and almost threw her on the window. Iaosur interfered when he saw how mad Mehrdir was.
“I gave you enough reasons to understand why it’s dangerous if you go without one of us.” He leaned in and blew air on her face. Her hand was twitching, having a huge desire to kick his ass.
“I’m going with Ezekiel and Chen. You were the one who sent Chen to me, remember? He’s going to be useful. In case you forgot, I have a higher title than you. If I am the commander, I command you to leave me alone.”
Mehrdir was going through an inner battle. He did send Chen because he was useful but going to Japan all alone, without any protection, was stupid.  Mehrdir was speechless.
“So now you enjoy being the commander, huh?” Iaosur was greatly amused by that human girl. A few months ago she hated to be called commander but now, she was using it in her favor.
“You shut up.” She snarled at him, Iaosur chuckling and raising his arms in surrender. “Mehrdir, I command you to stay out of my business. You don’t have the right to tell me what to do and what not when you’re only supposed to guard me. Now, excuse me. I’m going to pack.”
Iaosur started to laugh after Zoe left. He wrapped an arm around the greed demon and tilted his head.
“You’re only supposed to guard her. Ouch. That was right in the pride.” Mehrdir didn’t even blink. He was ready to blow up in anger. “That’s what you get if you let your guard down. You get mad and worried, like a worthless human.” Iaosur  smirked when he got another idea. “Or more like, a jealous human.” Mehrdir pushed Iaosur away and disappeared. “Ah, I’m really enjoying this job.” The angst demon sighed happily before jumping on the couch.

“You don’t have to be so mean to Mehrdir. He’s only taking care of you. Something you clearly can’t do by yourself.”
She closed her eyes and sighed. She didn’t need a fairy to tell her what was good and what was rude. Moreover, not a muscular one.
“Why are you here anyway? Have information to gather about the commander?” The fairy changed quickly into his bigger version and chuckled.
Rubin, as she found out what his name was, wouldn't come around if there wasn't something bad happening.
“So now you are the commander,” She glared at the bulky fairy over her shoulder. She didn’t need another annoying little brat in her apartment. “I’m here because I have bad news. Ghosts and familiars have been disappearing lately. We don’t know exactly what’s going on but we have a few ideas. The demons around you are powerful enough to fight it, but they’re not humans. You have to fight the Holy Brotherhood.” The fairy continued in a serious tone.
“I got pushed on the street a few months ago and lately, I feel like I’m watched. It’s different than the demon guarding.”
Rubin nodded. He was the one who knew best how the Holy Brotherhood worked since he had seen it before, in action.
“Is Andy safe? He hasn’t appeared before me in a while.” Zoe asked only a bit worried since nothing could happen worse than death to her ghost friend.
“That’s because you’ve been bugging Jake, lately.”
Zoe Lestrade was a curious person. Once she planned to do something, she was going to make it right. She wasn’t a person to give up; not after what she had been through. Andy was her friend; he was important. Therefore, she wanted to give that Jake a piece of her mind. Maybe going to K University wasn’t a good decision but she got more than she expected.
“This is a bad idea. Bad, bad, bad.” Ezekiel was right there, next to her. He was annoyed when she asked him to show her his university but he couldn’t exactly say no. “Oh, Chen!” He ran to his friend happily and left Zoe in the hall. That was a bad move. When he glanced back, she was nowhere in sight. He sighed heavily and ruffled his hair.

“Ok, I have to find the Contemporary Dance Department. How hard can it be?”
Well, it was very hard. Every department looked pretty much the same. She had to stop and ask a few students where the dancing studio was. There had to be one, right?
She ended up in the theater. Her patience was running low and she had only two fairies whose eyes glistened at the sight of the stage.
“We’re not playing here. If someone catches me sneaking around, they will throw me out.” Zoe whispered to the two perky fairies. The female fairy rolled her eyes.
“Only for a few minutes. It’s deserted anyway. If someone catches you in here, we’ll break something and you can run.” That idea was stupid and childish.
“How old are you again?” 
The fairies chuckled and flied on the stage. Much to her displeasure, they actually changed into their bigger forms. Zoe had to agree that they did look really cute together.
“Let’s dance! Don’t they have some music here?” 
Zoe rolled her eyes and walked closer to the stage. The male fairy snapped his fingers and the music turned on. Zoe was a little surprised but only a little. 
“I’ve seen humans dance like this.” The female fairy started to dance what looked to be burlesque.
“You need a hat and a stick. And try to be more feminine. Move your lower side easily,” The female fairy nodded and followed her instructions.  “This genre is about cheeky seduction. Make each movement exaggerated and try using your facial expression more. Wink or gasp or whatever,”
“That’s quite some instructions, isn’t it?” She froze. She was afraid to turn around. Behind her could be anybody.
“It’s ok. It’s Jake. You don’t have to look so scared.” She sighed. When he got next to her, he glanced on the stage. No one was there but the music was turned on.
 “How did you get here?”
“I got lost while searching for you.” She was quite bold.
Jake raised an eyebrow, half impressed and half freaked out. He didn’t like how perseverant she was but he was curious why she was so keen on it.
“Are you going to leave me alone if I tell you the truth?” She nodded. “I do know Andy. Or at least, I did. I saw and heard him sing a few times. I really liked his voice. He showed me a few demos he made for a future job,” She was waiting for him to continue but he didn’t.
“That’s all?” Jake nodded. “What about the crush?” Jake’s eyes narrowed slightly in confusion.
“What crush?” 
Andy appeared quickly behind Jake and made something on the stage fall. That was enough to get his attention on something else. Zoe blinked innocently when the ghost glared at her.
“Get out of here or I’m going to write with blood on the walls.” The ghost threatened but it didn't seem to affect her.
“You don’t have blood.” 
Andy raised an eyebrow and pointed at her wrists. Her eyes widened when she saw the blood coming from her veins.
“I’m not joking Zoe. Don’t look for him again.” The ghost disappeared and so did the illusion of blood. She sighed in relief and sat down. Jake joined her a few minutes later.
“Are you alright?” She nodded. “Do you need something else?” 
She was ready to shake her head when she got another brilliant idea.
“Are you busy tomorrow?” Jake blinked. She smiled cutely and tilted her head to the side. It was an evil plan but she was turning out to be quite evil anyway. “Would you like to have dinner with me?” Jake’s eyes widened. 
Was she inviting him on a date?
Zoe couldn’t help but chuckle at that memory. Andrew was fuming and didn’t appear around her afterwards.
“Maybe you should stop talking to that boy. It’s not good for your cause.”
She stopped reminiscing and turned to Rubin.
“What cause? The end of the world? No, that’s not my cause.” Rubin stared at her curiously.
“You will end up in Hell.” She sighed and took a seat, preparing mentally for the continuation. “You’re starting to awaken as the commander. That’s why you have enough courage to hit a demon. Your lies became better and you became quite mischievous. The old Zoe would have never went on a date with Jake.”
She sighed and looked down at her hands. The fairy was right, she slowly started to embrace the title and deep in her heart, she admitted that she was the commander.
“But this Zoe knows how to fight back and live as she wants to. This Zoe has friends.”
Rubin watched her with soft eyes before he chuckled and ruffled her hair. She was finally getting rid of the mask, wasn’t she?

“Are you ready to go, Zoe?”
She nodded furiously before she checked her luggage again and grabbed her purse.
Ezekiel and Zoe were getting in the taxi when the three demons appeared at the window. They watched her with worry. Well, one of them was worried, the rest were pretty much the same.
“She’s going to be fine. She learned how to fight well from Rowan. Besides, she doesn’t need us to wreak havoc. She can do it by herself. She doesn’t even need spells. I hope she’ll break something and understand how important she is.” Iaosur commented from his place on the love seat.
Mehrdir scoffed and left. Iaosur and Eneizar glanced at each other, completely aware of how overprotective and possessive was the greed demon.
“He’s doing the same mistake as Hiset.” Eneizar mumbled, reaching out for the remote.
Iaosur hummed and swayed from one leg on the other.
“I think it’s a little different now~”
Eneizar raised an eyebrow and stared at his fellow demon in astonishment.
“No,” Iaosur nodded and laughed. “Is she?” Eneizar asked, on the brink of having a laughing fit. Iaosur shrugged innocently.
The two started to laugh and enjoy the empty apartment. The commander was more entertaining when it was a woman.

17. Conclusions

The way back home was even more awkward than the moment in the subway with Mark. Henry and Alice decided to visit for different yet obvious reasons. Zoe hoped that Ezekiel was home and Rowan left to do something; far from her apartment. But of course, she wasn’t lucky.
When she unlocked the door, she found suspiciously many people standing and talking in the living room. The worst part was the supernatural one; the demons were very noticeable because they were very visible. Ezekiel noticed her first and opened his mouth, ready to explain why they were there but she shook her head.
“I don’t want to get a hint of what you’re all doing here.” Eneizar rolled his eyes and forcefully pulled her on the couch.  She glared at him before she noticed someone new. “What is Chris doing here?”
“We came to the common conclusion that Rowan is good enough to teach you how to fight against humans.” Eneizar started. “But, we also came to the one sided conclusion of human perception that you may or may not need to know more about dark magic and what you can do as the commander.” The demon continued.
“And do not say that you’re not the commander because either you want that title or not, it’s yours already.” Iaosur added.
Without really thinking much, she hit his arm. That was a surprise for everyone. She had never hit a demon before.
“Did you see that? She hit me! She’s getting it, now!” The angst demon exclaimed with glee.
“Anyway, Chris and Ezekiel will accompany you on this journey to enlightenment. I will watch and decide what you can know and what you don’t have to know. Iaosur will watch you training with Rowan and Mehrdir is back to his original position as your babysitter. Isn’t that wonderful?” Eneizar continued, sarcasm dropping from every word yet everything he said was genuine.
Eneizar was the one who was going to take that responsibility and he loved how much he could manipulate her in those lessons. The humans shook their heads silently when they noticed but Eneizar rolled his eyes and turned to Iaosur.
“Can you believe these guys? They don’t know how to have fun.” The vanity demon mumbled.
Unfortunately, the doorbell rang. Zoe gulped because she already had a slight idea of who was on the other side.
“Oh, no.” She gasped, her eyed widening slightly.
Eneizar, however, got up quickly and walked towards the door with the intention of opening it and probably coming out with excuses to taunt the humans and end up killing them later.
Or that was what she was thinking. With no idea what she was doing, she ran and jumped over Eneizar.
“What are you doing?”
In that moment, she didn’t know what to do so she punched him. His expression changed quickly. He was annoyed and wanted to hit her but at the same time he was confused and surprised. It was a mix that didn’t make much sense for the demon. It was the first time he was in that position.
While he was living his first bewilderment, she ran to the door and opened it slightly.
“Hey. We want to go eat something. Do you want to come?” Henry asked, hopes up that he could spend more time with her.
But that wasn't what irked Zoe's guilt.
Alice’s smiling face was making everything really hard for Zoe. The guilt of refusing to go out with them was heavy because it wasn’t something from her every day routine. She spent too much time alone.
“I can’t. I’m sorry. But-“
Zoe closed the door in their faces and ran to grab Ezekiel. She opened the door after a few seconds and pushed him out. He was in his socks so she also threw his shoes at him.
“Wha-” He was clueless.
“I’m sure Ezekiel would love to go eat. He needs a break.” Zoe said while smiling innocently. She looked at him with a weird glint in her eyes but he got the drift and nodded.
“Sure. A break.” He grimaced before he got his shoes on. She was going to have to pay, and Ezekiel would make sure she would.

When she turned back in the living room, she found Chris all alone. Everyone else left or moved; she could hear Rowan and Iaosur bicker about some random human stuff in the kitchen.
“So this is your life, huh? I can’t say I envy you but some people would do anything in order to see what you see; even make a deal with the Devil.” He started. No one sane would like to live such a life.
“People who make that deal don’t know what they’re getting into. Besides, they do it because they need something badly. They’re irresponsible and place their dear ones in danger.”
“You’d know.” Chris hummed and rubbed his chin. She did know. “Did they ever- you know- ask you to sign a contract?”
Zoe shook her head. Actually, they never did and that was a little weird. Mehrdir was her guardian and he had the right to ask or force her to sign one; but he didn’t. Neither demon talked about it.
“Did your uncle sign one?”
Chris seemed surprised by her blunt question. That was rather mean since he was his uncle and he loved him dearly. Chris knew that the old man was weird and had some kind of bipolar disorder but he was his uncle.
“I think he did once.He got into dark magic after he watched movies with witches. He even went to see one and asked her to ‘tutor’ him. That was how he got so deep into this business. He used to tell me a lot of stories when I was young. It got so far that my parents forbade him to come again.” Chris chuckled at the memory.
Well, reality was even worse. His uncle was amazing and cared for Chris but he did some bad things when he was young and restless.
“But you ended up living with him anyway. Doesn’t he place you in danger every day?”
“I’m not allowed to read or try out some spells. He says I am not at that level yet. I think that’s why I have to teach you about dark magic; I know enough to protect myself but not enough to actually send demons back to Hell.”
That made sense. They wanted someone who was still a novice in the dark arts yet be able to do some little evil chores. She looked at Chris closer and actually started to inspect his attitude towards what he has been hired to do. He didn’t look scared; moreover, he was quite joyful and proud of himself.
“This is the first time you see demons, isn’t it?” She asked suddenly. He chuckled but nodded nonetheless, explaining a few things. “Well, don’t have high expectations. This dark world that you and Ezekiel like so much is bullocks. It’s made out of nothing but disappointment and stupid games where you, as a human, never win.”
Chris bit his lip while staring bemusedly at Zoe. She wasn’t seeing it at all but she was enjoying the latest events much more than she was giving herself credit for. Zoe was enjoying being the commander in her subconscious.

“Why are we here, again? Is your uncle home?”
Since Chris didn’t know how the training would go in her apartment with so many supernatural beings around, he dragged her to his uncle’s store. Much like before, Eneizar had to grab her hand when they entered the store.
“Did he make such a big impression on you?” He asked bemusedly while leading her further into the store. She stared at him skeptically.
“He conjured a demon to posses me. What do you think?”
“He had a bad day.”
She scowled and walked faster, planning to leave before the old man would return.
The first lesson was not going to be in Leo’s room. No. It was going to be in the basement. It was dark and dusty and it looked like a place from Criminal Minds, where the culprit was doing his activities; like cutting people and eating them afterwards, because why not.
She glanced back and noticed Eneizar. Well, at least he was there. He had some kind of protecting aura around him even though it looked more like a murderous intent. It was so confusing.
“Here,” He led her through the curtains, into a room enlightened by candles. There was a circle in the middle of the room and a lot of artefacts and books on the shelves. “We’re going to start here.” He stated.
“This looks like you want to teach me how to send demons to Hell.”
Chris chuckled. He placed his arms on her shoulders from behind and pushed her towards a table.
“We’re not using the circle yet. And for your information, is for calling out spirits.” It was the same thing for her.  “We have to start by reading some basic stuff. For example, you have a deep connection to Beelzebub. Let’s learn about him first. That way you can also find out what you can do.”
Eneizar narrowed his eyes at the human. He was going to pass the chapters where her true powers were written in detail.

Fortunately for the demon, the books were about everything but Beelzebub's powers. On the other side, he was seen as the prince of Hell which made Zoe panic for a while.
“Don’t be stupid. You should be honored to have such connection to him.” She stared at Eneizar skeptically.
Somehow, that panic evolved into a full fight between the vanity demon and her. Chris wasn't sure when it began but he was enjoying it in a twisted way.
“I feel like punching you in the face right now.” The demon narrowed his eyes at her.
“I’d like to see you try. It happened once because I let you off easily. That mercy I won’t show twice.” Eneizar threatened.
Chris took a few steps out of the fighting range and chuckled. It was very entertaining since he couldn’t see Eneizar.
In the end, no one fought. Chris was a little disappointed that he didn’t get to see it but Zoe made sure to push him harshly when he voiced his thoughts out.
“Don’t walk so fast. Take your time and enjoy the life around you.” He smirked before he continued. “You won’t see anything so lively in Hell.”
She couldn’t turn and glare at him because there was someone else behind but she could glare to the side. It had the same effect; more like same no-effect.
“I appreciate your advice but I would prefer to be alone right now.”
Eneizar chuckled. She was a bundle of sarcasm and irony. He hadn’t heard her say something genuine since he appeared in her life. Well, she didn’t need to since they weren’t friends.
Zoe was walking in front of him, with her hands plunged deep in her jacket’s pockets. She was annoyed from diverse reasons. It was March, the beginning of spring and the time when everything was coming back to life. It was the time for optimism and love. She was really curious where those factors were; certainly not in her life. It was also the time when her parents would like to go places together. That together part was troublesome because her mother was very perceptive. It was really hard to hide from her.
She was really worried of that moment when her mother would call and tell her the plan. That subject absorbed every quantity of attention she had so she knew where she was going only by reflex.
Zoe didn’t see nor expect someone to grab her arm and push her on the street. It happened so fast that she couldn’t register what happened.
She fell on the street at a rush hour. People were getting out from their work and were returning home.
The car honked, but she just appeared in the middle of the road. It was impossible to stop in time so the collision was certain. Eneizar wasn’t allowed to pop up all humanly like in front of the car and stop it miraculously so he appeared before her and wrapped his arms around her, protectively. Her eyes were wide and scared, grasping on his arm like her life depended on him, which it was.
Fortunately, the evil was supposed to keep her alive since she was the commander. The familiars started to push the car so that it would stop in time. That was proving to be hard since they weren’t really powerful and big but the car did stop a few millimeters from Zoe. She pushed Eneizar’s arm slightly to the side to see who saved her. It was someone familiar; very familiar but she didn’t know why he was so familiar.
On the other side, Eneizar knew exactly who that demon was.
The driver got out from his car and rushed to her side.
“Why did you jump in front of the car, you stupid student?”
The driver started to swear and complain but she couldn’t hear him. The shock was too big. She almost got run over by a car. Moreover, someone pushed her in the middle of the street. The demon disappeared quickly but not before he nodded at Eneizar. The vanity demon got the idea and touched her temple. She fainted instantly.

When Ezekiel and Rowan came to the hospital, Zoe was already awake and looking very uncomfortable. She was staring intensely at a chair placed in the corner of her room.
Ezekiel and Rowan glanced at each other before they looked at the chair.
“Who’s there?” Ezekiel was the one to ask since she was a little freaked out.
“An old lady who’s judging me hard.” Rowan raised an eyebrow before he started to laugh. She gave him a sharp look that shut him up instantly. “Can you tell her to leave, please?” She asked her puppy friend innocently. Ezekiel sighed and turned towards the empty chair.
“Can you please leave, ma'am? This isn’t your room.”
He couldn’t see it but Zoe could. The lady flipped him off.
“She flipped the birdy at you.”
Ezekiel got taken aback but Rowan found it really funny.
“She’s not very friendly. She gives this thug feeling.” Zoe continued, flinching when the lady narrowed her eyes at her.
Ezekiel crossed his arms in front of his chest and turned expectantly to Rowan. The former thug raised an eyebrow.
“What?” He asked, Ezekiel shrugging innocently.
“Why don’t you try? It takes one to know one, right?” Rowan glared at the shorter boy and leaned in.
“What did you say, midget?” Ezekiel glared at Rowan and straightened his back.
“Sorry, I didn’t understand a word you said. Can you repeat in a language that we all know?” Ezekiel asked, fully aware that Rowan's thick accent was always a problem for him.
Zoe watched the two boys fight with each other in silence. The lady already moved next to her bed and was watching the fight too.
“I wouldn’t like to be in your shoes.” Zoe turned to the lady perplexed. “Ghosts talk, mostly in hospitals. There’s a price on your head, Zoe Lestrade.” 
“Who?” The lady chuckled.
“You already know who. Demons can’t help you against humans. There are higher forces getting into this problem of yours.” The lady said before she left.
Zoe was confused. What kind of higher forces? She has never ever seen an angel.
“Guys.” The two didn’t even hear her. “Guys!” They turned to her with narrowed eyes. “She left already.”
An hour later, Rowan had to leave. He and Ezekiel made peace quickly, over a pack of Oreo’s.
“Oh by the way! Chen’s in this hospital, recuperating. Do you want to go visit him?” She blinked and pushed the hospital food aside. “I think he’s on this floor, too.” Ezekiel was deciding it by himself, as it seemed.
“Isn’t that wonderful?” She was sarcastic. Zoe smiled all annoyed at Ezekiel but he didn’t seem to get the point. “It’s too soon. I’m not spiritually prepared to see him.” She responded more seriously. Ezekiel rolled his eyes and moved the pillow aside.
“Don’t you want to test your theory?”
Well, she was curious if what Mehrdir said was true but she knew that the world wasn’t exactly going as Mehrdir wanted.
“How long am I supposed to stay in hospital for?” The doctor entered at the right moment.
“Only today. At the end of the day, you’ll be free to leave. We ran a few tests and everything seems to be fine.” The doctor smiled kindly at her. “Your boyfriend was here until you woke up.” Zoe pointed at Ezekiel, unsure. The doctor chuckled and shook her head. “The other one. He was really worried.” The doctor checked her IV and winked. “He was quite the catch.” Zoe was confused.
After the doctor left, Ezekiel sat on the empty chair beside her bed. He was trying not to smile but the corner of his lips were moving; he couldn’t hold it back for long, he wanted to tease her.
“Just say it.” She grumbled, her expression blank.
“It seems someone is getting all mushy for you.” Ezekiel started bemused. She raised an eyebrow and bit the inside of her cheek. “You know. We all noticed how much Mehrdir cares for you but now, Eneizar? You have them all wrapped around your tiny finger, don’t you?”  Ezekiel was enjoying it a lot.
“You’re spending too much time with demons.” Ezekiel chuckled and shrugged, not really caring what her opinion was.
His circle of friends became thin and most of them were demons but it was fun as long as he wasn’t going to be killed.
Ezekiel’s phone rung and it seemed he got very good news. He went out for a moment and came back with someone. Zoe froze when she saw that person again.
“Hey, Zoe. Look who I’ve got here. Chen, this is Zoe. I’m sure you heard about her."
His smile was wide and evil. If she didn’t know better, she would have swore Ezekiel was possessed but the bad thing was that he wasn’t. Chen blinked in confusion. Both Zoe and Ezekiel were curious what he was going to answer.
“Hello. I’m Kim Kyung Jae but my friends call me Chen.”
His smile was nothing like the one in his ghost form; it looked joyful and human. It was good to see someone who was gleaming with life after he woke up from a coma.
“Why did you drag me here, Zek?” The evil puppy laughed and hit his friend’s back playfully.
“You’re so funny! Now excuse me, my mom is calling!” He rushed out and closed the door.
Zoe and Chen looked at each other in complete silence. She didn’t know what to say and he didn’t care enough to think about it.
“So, you and Ezekiel are friends,” She started.
“Yes. Are you his girlfriend?” He asked bluntly. It didn't seem like he had any memory of her.
“No! God, no.” She choked on saliva. Chen chuckled.
“He’s a hard one to handle?” She scoffed. That was an understatement.
“He’s a pain in the ass. His phone didn’t even ring but his mother was calling? Please.” Chen laughed and walked closer to her. “For how long have you two been friends?” She changed the subject.
“A long time. I can’t even remember how exactly we became friends. We were both interested in music and we took lessons together. Now, we’re in the same university.”
That was a good starting point. She could move around that subject.
“What university?” She already knew but it wouldn’t hurt to play a little.
“K University. What about you?” She rubbed her hand and chuckled nervously.
“I already graduated and finished the master class.” Chen’s eyes widened. “I’m 26.”She continued. His eyes widened even more.
“Seriously? You don’t act your age.” Her smile dropped instantly. That statement was getting old.
“Anyway, I had a friend in K University. He was a Music Major too.” Chen tilted his head to the side and narrowed his eyes a little.
“Had?”
“Yes. Andrew Garley. Did you know him?” She was really pushing her luck but maybe it was going to worth it.
“He died two years ago. Some dumbass pushed him on the stairs and he fell. He hit his head really hard and he died,” Chen was uncomfortable telling that story. “We were in the same class and we were friends, in some way.” She licked her lower lip and inspected his facial expression. He was sad about what happened but he got over it quickly. “Me, Ezekiel and Andy were the best in our year but truthfully, I am better than both of them. I have a larger vocal range.” He looked so innocent while saying that.
“Some things never change,” She mumbled. Be it human or ghost, he had quite an ego.
Ezekiel wasn’t exactly the master of patience. He was dying to know what they were talking about and if Chen remembered Zoe. He barged in happily and stared at his friend.
“Well? Did you remember?” Ezekiel asked with a weird glint into his eyes. Chen had no idea what his friend was talking about.
“Remember what? What are you talking about?” Ezekiel’s creepy smiling face turned to Zoe. She shook her head.
“It’s fine. Tomorrow is another day.” The puppy said optimistically. Ezekiel waved at Zoe before he wrapped an arm around his friend and pulled him out of her room.
“Wait! Remember what?” She could still hear Chen shout outside.
“You got yourself some interesting friends, haven’t you?” She scoffed and rolled over her left side. She didn’t feel like seeing Mehrdir.
“He doesn’t remember.” She mumbled. The greed demon glanced at the door.
“Not yet. But he will.”
She snorted before he closed her eyes and went to sleep.