I look at the three boys incredibly, each one looking back at me seriously.
"Japan," repeats Egyn.
"How do you know?" I ask, quieting down.
"Big brother kidnapped her," states Amaimon.
"Mephisto Pheles. Also known as Samael, Demon King of Time and Space," says Kage.
"Well, how do you know she's in Japan?"
"That's where big brother lives. He runs an exorcist school there," says Amaimon.
"Yes, True Cross Academy. It's where people train to become exorcists," says Egyn. "Exorcists kill demons, like us. But they mostly kill lower level demons. They're too afraid to come near demon kings."
"So how are we supposed to get Cici back?" I ask.
"Well the quickest way is to go through Gehenna," says Kage.
"Gehenna? As in Hell?"
"Yes. The easiest and quickest way to get to Cici is to take a portal to Gehenna. From there we can take another portal to Japan," says Egyn.
"Will I be able to come with you? I'm not a demon."
"We're not sure. No live human has ever attempted to go to Gehenna," says Amaimon, popping a lollipop into his mouth.
"This is true, no human has ever had a reason to go to Gehenna," says Egyn matter-of-factly.
"It's your choice. You can either stay here, or you can chance it and come with us," says Kage.
All three boys stare at me intently, awaiting my answer. So, I either stay here and wait for them to come back with Cici, or chance possible death and go with them. Maybe I should just stay here and wait...but then I won't know what's going on and worry. I begin pacing around in thought. I'm no use to Cici if I'm dead. But then again, we don't know what will happen. I could survive. I could just walk right in and walk right back out with no problems. But there's still that slight chance...
"We should probably hurry. Mephisto isn't one to wait long before 'getting to it'," says Egyn, snapping me out of my inner battle.
Cici... "I'm going with you guys," I say confidently. They nod and hold out their arms. I watch as each of them uses their nail and cuts their arm. Blood starts to pour from their wounds and falls to the floor. The blood starts to form a shape, that of a door. The blood begins to bubble and soon there is a gate in the floor before them.
"This is the Gehenna Gate," says Kage.
"So, do we just, jump in?" I ask hesitantly.
To answer my question, Amaimon jumps confidently into the gate. He stands amongst the many gruesome faces of the gate, slowly sinking. He salutes at us as he sinks.
"See ya on the other side," he says. And with that, he's gone.
"My turn," says Kage with a leap. He sinks and is gone within a minute.
"Let's go then," says Egyn. I nod and look at the gate.
"I'm coming Cici," I whisper and jump into the gate. It's like water, but sticky and thick. I sink slowly, preparing myself for the worst. I shut my eyes as the liquid reaches my neck. "Please let this work," I say and then my head is submerged and everything goes black.
"Hey, Alex. We're here," I hear someone, Egyn I think, say.
I open my eyes and look in front of me. Before us is a large, barren desert. Far in the distance I can see the outline of a city etched into the sky.
"Welcome to Gehenna," says Amaimon with a smirk.
"Is it what you expected?" asks Kage.
I shake my head and they look at me in surprise, apparently not expecting that answer. "I expected it to be, I don't know, chaotic. Demons running rampant around a barren wasteland, causing chaos wherever they are. But, it's not like that at all," I say.
"That's because our father doesn't tolerate it to get too out of hand. Chaos can lead to an uprising," says Egyn.
I nod in understanding. That actually makes sense. It seems demons aren't as different from humans as we think...
"So," I say, "how do we get to Japan?"
"We have to get to the portal that goes there," says Amaimon, looking to the city.
"Can't you just do that blood thing again?"
"Summoning the Gehenna Gate takes a lot of energy and power," says Kage. "We can't summon the Gate again, we'd lose all of our strength, leaving us useless against Mephisto."
"That makes sense," I say. "So, where is the gate?"
"In the city," says Egyn, thinking. "But, there is an even faster way."
"Mm. Mephisto has a private portal in his chambers that lead straight to his home," he says. "We would have to enter the castle though..."
I look at the city in the distance, able to make out the large silhouette of the castle.
"Is that...Satan's castle?" I ask.
"Yes. We would have to be very careful if we were to sneak inside," says Amaimon.
They look at me, thinking. I can almost hear the gears turning in their heads. Suddenly, each of their faces gets a look of realization.
"Alex, there is a way to sneak you into the city without any problem," says Egyn seriously. "But, it takes a big sacrifice."
"What is it?" I ask nervously.
"As a human, if we walk into that city, you will be the center of all attention. Demons of all kinds will be after you, and we won't be able to hold them all off. Even Satan will find out you're here with all the chaos," says Kage.
"But, if you were to be a demon," says Amaimon, "you wouldn't gain any more attention than anyone else."
I process what they're saying in my head. If I walk into that city now, as I am, I'll be attacked by every demon there. But if I were to be a demon...
"So you're saying, I need to be a demon?"
They nod slowly, watching my reaction carefully.
"Is that even possible?"
"It is," Kage hesitates, "but it won't be easy. And it definitely won't be painless."
"What do I have to do?" I ask.
"That doesn't matter right now. The question is," says Egyn, "are you willing to do it?"
Cici... "I am."
The three boys share a look and then jump onto me, each one of them biting into me deeply. I scream out in pain as their teeth go deeper and deeper. The pain is intense and I think I might black out, but I never do. After what seems like an eternity, but in reality is only a minute or two, they let go of me and I collapse.
"W-Why?" I whisper.
"We have to inject you with demon venom for you to become one of us," says Amaimon. "Kinda like vampires when you think about it."
"I don't feel any-" I begin but stop when I get a strange feeling. A wave of pain hits me and I begin to shake violently on the ground. I can almost feel the venom spreading through my veins, strengthening my bones and muscles. It's painful. Too painful for me to handle. This time though, I do black out.