Monday, October 12, 2015

III 2. Deep Sleep

When Ezekiel opened his eyes, he could only see a blank room. It had only a door somewhere in the far corner and it seriously looked more like a hollow in the wall. It was weird. The other person in the room appeared through the wall. Ezekiel knew he was dreaming but that looked very realistic.

“You’re not dreaming, Ezekiel.”
The human frowned. He could swear he didn’t say anything out loud.
“It’s written all over your face.” The person added.

“Who are you?”
The person raised an eyebrow and took a few steps closer to the human.

“You know already. I got you here for your own safety.”
Ezekiel gulped and took a deep breath of polluted air. He coughed right after and he had to pat his chest in order to make the burning sensation go away.

“This is not air,” He stated, more for himself than someone else.

“Do you want to see how it looks? You’ve been desiring this ever since you met Zoe.”
Ezekiel looked up at the man and blinked. The human wanted to know what he was talking about. When the man walked through the hollow, the human followed.

They walked down a very long corridor that had different paintings on each wall. Every portrait looked scarier than the other but they had something in common: they were all burned or scratched yet the hands were clean.

“Who are these people?” The man glanced at Ezekiel over his shoulder with an expressionless face. It actually looked very familiar. “And why are their hands intact?”

“You have a lot of questions, don’t you?”
The human nodded. The man stopped in front of a door and waited for the young male to reach him before he opened the door widely. Ezekiel’s eyes widened and he took a step forward in amazement.

“T-this is-“He felt a sudden chill run down his spine.

“Hell.” The man continued. “Welcome to Hell, Ezekiel.” The human gulped and licked his lips. He was scared yet at the same time, he was excited. “Do you know now who I am?”
Ezekiel turned his head slowly and looked at the man. His eyes were probably the biggest hint.

“Beelzebub.” The demon cracked a very weird smile that looked either forced either like that cursed Japanese ghost; or maybe like the Joker. Ezekiel couldn’t quite choose. “I-um-” He was speechless.

“You’re alive as long as you don’t enter.” Ezekiel took instantly a few steps back. “This is what some people call the purgatory. The world between worlds where lost souls await for their fate.” Ezekiel frowned.

“What about those portraits?” Beelzebub chuckled.

“Those are the past commanders and inheritors. They never made it this far. That’s why their faces are erased. Only their hands matter, where most had the sign.” Ezekiel looked out of reflex at his arm.

“Where is Zoe?” The human asked as soon as he remembered the commander business. Beelzebub tilted his head to the side and stared bemusedly at the human.

“Your strong connection never ceases to amaze me,” The human wasn’t sure that was a compliment. “She’s here, somewhere. Maybe she is down there.” He pointed at the widely opened door to Hell. “She’s been familiarized with it already. But you have no right to enter just yet. You’re still pure.” The demon prince finished.

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“What does that mean? That I’m pure, I mean,”
Beelzebub closed the door and walked back towards the empty room. He couldn't risk having Ezekiel spontaneously change his mind and jump in Hell.

“You didn’t kill, commit suicide or sinned so greatly that would place you among us. Yet, you wear the sign of the commander. You’re somewhere in between.”

“Did that ever happen before?”
Beelzebub stopped and looked at a certain portrait. The hands seemed feminine but then again. Beelzebub's hands looked like that as well.

“Once but that happened a very long time ago.” Ezekiel narrowed his eyes in concentration.

“It’s the watch, isn’t it? You gave it to her to keep her pure.”
The demon prince laughed. It echoed throughout the whole corridor and it made Ezekiel’s blood boil. He didn’t know why but he wasn’t like other demons.

“Do you know what makes me so different, Ezekiel?”
The way he said Ezekiel's name sounded like a bee. Actually, he looked like a mix of a bee and a man. His skin color was very, very pale next to how he imagined him to look like. Besides, he had hair; it was curly and a bright red color.

“You’re the commander?” Ezekiel half asked half stated since he wasn’t sure. Besides, he still couldn’t grasp the fact that he was in the purgatory.

"No. Unlike the rest, I do remember the time I was an angel. I fell because of my own selfishness but I didn't lose my memories." Ezekiel walked a little faster in order to walk next to the demon prince.

"What about your daughter?" The demon stopped. Ezekiel couldn't explain exactly what kind of expression he had. However, his whole body seemed to have relaxed.

"Did Eneizar tell you that?" The demon asked bemusedly.

"Is it true? The commander is your daughter?" The demon looked at Ezekiel for a moment before he pointed at the end of the corridor.

"That place, the closest to the door-" He started. "-it's an empty spot for a new portrait. This one won't be scratched."

"For Zoe's portrait, you mean." The demon nodded. "She is really the only one who got so close to the door," Ezekiel was genuinely impressed.

"Zoe looks like the person I once loved." Ezekiel's head snapped towards the demon. Beelzebub pointed at the first portrait. They suddenly got on the other side of the corridor. The face was scratched but only slightly. Ezekiel could still make out her face. "That's why I chose her to be the commander. I knew she won't disappoint me. Moreover, she's already created her own little army." The demon prince sounded proud.

"I wouldn't call three or four demons an army," Ezekiel mumbled yet Beelzebub laughed it off.

"You may not see it but there are more demons under her. She has the power to attract demons in her circle and make them depend on her." He glanced at Ezekiel from the corner of his eye. The human was thinking deeply about something.

"While I am here, where is she?" Beelzebub shrugged.

"I don't know," Ezekiel rolled his eyes at the cocky smirk on Beelzebub's face. Of course he wasn't going to tell him anything useful. "Do you know why I accepted you as her legacy, Ezekiel?"

"Because I pushed her towards the dark side?" The demon chuckled bemusedly. The human was funny, the demon gave him that.

"No. No, I don't give a shit about that." The demon leaned in and stared into his brown eyes. He suddenly grabbed Ezekiel's forearm and pressed his thumb on the sign. Surprisingly, when he was doing it, it felt a lot like he was giving him energy not hurting him. "She will never let you become a demon. You are what she's fighting for. A commander needs a reason to fight for." Beelzebub turned Ezekiel towards the same hollow wall.

"What is your reason?"
Beelzebub tilted his head to the side and stared at Ezekiel’s back.

"You already know the answer." He winked before he vanished in a puff of smoke. Ezekiel grimaced. Well, that went better than he imagined. But he still didn't know where Zoe was.

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Zoe opened her eyes in a room full of gold.

"What a pleasure. The thief is here."
She rubbed her head and took a good look around. The room was sparkling because of the piles of gold and diamonds.

"How did I get here?" Zoe was ready to get up when someone forced her back down. She looked at the stranger. His eyes were- she couldn't see his eyes. "Who the heck are you?" She waved her hand in front of him since she wasn't sure he could see her from the hair. It was stuck over his eyes.

"Stop it, you little shit. Is that how you thank me for taking you in my castle?" She narrowed her eyes at the man. He was short, almost the same height as Ezekiel.

"I didn't ask you to."
The demon was probably glaring at her. She could only see his scowl. His face was a scowl, as a matter of fact.

"I am your boyfriend's master. No matter what sign he wears, I created Mehrdir." Zoe stared at the demon. She looked at him from head to toe and rubbed her neck.

"You don't look like I thought you would. Shouldn't you be less aggressive?" The demon was even dressed like a royal.

"Take care how you talk. You're still human Zoe. You don't want me to shove your ass out and make you die, do you?" She rolled her eyes. "You stay here for a while. Don't touch anything. If you do, I will know." He pointed at his eyes. Well, at least his vision wasn't exactly blocked by the hair.

"Why do I have to stay here?" Her eyes widened when she remembered something. "Where is Ezekiel?"

"Stop, stop, stop. You're too loud and ask too many questions!" Zoe was amazed. Mehrdir resembled his master so much. "He's in the purgatory."

"Then, where am I?" She saw him turn his back to her and greet his teeth. He was growing impatient.

"Didn't you hear me earlier? You're in my castle," She sighed and searched for a window. Everything was blocked by the gold. "Stay here and don't touch anything,"
Zoe rolled her eyes and brushed him off. He glared at her before he left the room. She touched small piece of fabric on the ground and inspected it. It looked precious.
"DON'T TOUCH I SAID!" She got perplexed by the loud voice. It shook the ground and made a pile of gold fall.. She threw the fabric away quickly and sighed. It wasn't the Christmas she hoped for.

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“They’re dead.”
Chen’s statement was true yet not exactly. He was panicking even when Lestrade grandma called an ambulance. The demons disappeared and left Chen and Jasper to take care of the bodies.

“They’re not dead. Even the doctors said they are in an induced coma.” Jasper actually listened to what the paramedics said.

Weirder was the fact that Zoe and Ezekiel were impossible to put in two different rooms. Except the fact that their eyes were wide open and stuck on a certain point, once the paramedics tried to place them in two ambulances, they got burned. Therefore, the two have been placed in the same room, which made a complete fuss.

“They’re so creepy. Why didn’t they close their eyes?” Jasper rolled his eyes and walked towards Ezekiel. He closed his lids but a few moments later, they opened by themselves. “That’s even creepier.” Chen mumbled and shuddered. Jasper agreed.

“I can’t feel anything from Zoe. It’s like she’s been transported somewhere without signal.” Jasper added. Chen grabbed a hand through his hair and sighed heavily.

“We’re in deep shit if they don’t wake up before the doctors realize something’s fishy.”
The inheritor nodded and glanced at Zoe’s hand. Nothing was glowing, nothing was happening. It was so, so weird.

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Zoe was bored. Mammon left her in a room that had nothing entertaining. She thought about leaving a few times but every time she tried to, a force pulled her back. She sighed and sat in the corner, next to an immense dresser.

She looked at it once and noticed something familiar about it. She leaned closer and touched the mirror. Her reflection was normal; that probably meant she wasn’t dead. But she was curious why she got sent to hell.

“Does he even know I’m here?” She wondered out loud.
The mirror suddenly shifted and showed her the outside image. The whole place was a mess; even more than before. She could see only the vicinity of Mammon and Beelzebub’s domains. They were quite large so she could see enough. In front of Beelzebub’s cave, there were demons. She wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not because demons looked dangerous no matter what. She also noticed the burning signs on their foreheads. She narrowed her eyes to see better. They all had the greed and glutton signs; some had a dragon, even. She was sure they weren’t there for support; they were there for the war. Suddenly, she remembered the writing on the wall.

The Master is forming an army. The Inheritor will lead it once he’s found and the darkness will engulf humanity forever.

“Was it even about humanity or was it only to scare me?” Zoe wondered out loud. 
She leaned back and watched the events unfold right before her eyes. The one who walked out of the cave wasn’t Beelzebub. No, it was another demon of a high level. He told the demons something and they growled. It felt like she was watching TV on mute.

“Do you wonder what are they doing?”
She jumped in surprise. She didn’t notice the demon walking in.
“You’re Beelzebub’s protégé aren’t you? Mammon told me you’d be here.” She frowned and took a step back. “I’m not going to hurt you. My name is Mepalham and I will be the one to guard your for the time being.” She tilted her head to the side and inspected thoroughly the new acquaintance. He was short and slim but she was sure he wasn’t a weakling. She could feel him radiating some kind of firmness.

“I heard Mammon doesn’t have many demons left in his command,” Mepalham raised an eyebrow but didn’t move from his spot. He was standing in front of the door like a bodyguard. The exception was, well, he certainly didn’t look like a bodyguard.

“That may or may not be true. It is, however, irrelevant.” His response was vague. He was a smart demon; she could see it on his face. Actually, now that she was looking at him closely, he did have a face. He turned towards the image in the mirror and walked towards it. He stopped a foot from Zoe. “The army is still small but Beelzebub gathered the best demons under his command.”

“Are you one of them?” The demon chuckled.

“Maybe. As long as I gain something from this war, I might fight.” She scoffed and rolled her eyes.
Greed demons were known for that kind of selfish thinking but she never expected it to be so big. The war was just around the corner and he wasn’t even sure he wanted to fight.

“Where is Mehrdir?” Mepalham snorted while trying not to laugh. His smug face was getting annoying. “Or should I ask you for answers instead?”

“You know, Zoe-“ He started to pace round her. “You have no idea just how popular you are around here. Maybe I should show you,” His eyes widened in bemusement. “But if I take you outside, you will die.” He started to chuckle when he saw her take a step away from him. “But then, why not? You’re not afraid to die, are you?” She glared at him. He stopped behind her and pulled her closer to him. ”You’re afraid that people you love will die.” He whispered in her ear.

She turned quickly and pushed him harshly into the wall. Her eyes changed rapidly and her face complexion became sharp.

“Well, well. The demon surfaced,” She glared at him and pressed him against the wall.

“You should take care what you say. In case you haven’t noticed, I have a higher level than you.” Mepalham raised an eyebrow and touched her hand. She had a tight grasp on his neck and wasn’t wavering at all. Zoe wasn’t weak but she was still a novice.

“That may be right, commander,” He started. Mepalham was short so he used that in his favor. He leaned back and used her hand as support. He kicked her harshly in the stomach and sent her flying into a pile of diamonds. She got cut on her arms and legs when she fell. 

Mepalham took one diamond –that seemed to be sharp enough to cut like a knife- and drew a line along her collarbone. His eyes were shining with malice and greed. 

“You’re not dead yet, Zoe. You’re not valuable in your recent state; not to me, not to Beelzebub,” The demon mumbled while staring at her with superiority. She glared at him and leaned closer.

“Then what do you want me to do? Die?” The demon stared a her blankly.

“Yes,” Mepalham whispered before he narrowed his eyes and leaned in. "Die." 

Zoe was taken aback. She saw it coming but it was a completely different story when someone was telling her that face to face. 

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