Zoe walked towards living room and took note of every piece of furniture that was either thrown to the side or opened. Every counter has been searched through, every cabinet had a trail of mess that led towards the couch, which was also upside down some place near the wall. The carpet was destroyed and there was a mark in the middle of her apartment. Zoe took a deep breath before she entered her bedroom, where she saw messages written with blood everywhere. They were more or less about the same thing but the one above her bed was the most significant one, the scariest one. It said PRIVILEGE. Just one word that could mean literally anything and yet Zoe knew it was not about her family situation or her race.
She glanced at the bathroom and saw the door was half broken, barely in its hinges. She took a look inside and couldn’t help give a loud and angry shout. Mehrdir frowned at the sight: it was blood everywhere but inside her bathtub was a dead white dog.
“What the hell?” Mehrdir whispered not understanding who could make such a display of whatever this was. “This was not done by a demon, I assure you. We don’t like to get dirty.”
But she didn’t answer. Zoe went inside her bedroom and straight to her bed. Since even her sheets were nasty and smelled bad, she took care to stand on the very edge of her mattress and simply stared ahead with a poker face.
“It was not me.”
“How curious. On the day you showed up, my apartment was broken into.” She said very calmly but with a cold and apathetic tone.
“I did not bring this upon you. I’ve been minding my own business and Hell is busy enough as it is, believe me.”
“You were busy? Doing what? Stalking me? Making it obvious for every dead and living creature that I have some sort of power?” She asked still not even looking at him.
Mehrdir couldn’t deny that indeed he has been watching her but it was not from a populated place.
“You shouldn’t stay here by yourself.” He changed the subject like he usually does when she is right. “I will-“
“You will leave.” She said finally looking into his eyes. “You will leave.”
Mehrdir saw the glint in her eyes, the way her beautiful blue orbs became black except the bright yellow dot that made her look so much like Beelzebub when she was angry. He disappeared in the next moment. All by herself, Zoe sighed heavily, her hands trembling because she was not stable enough from a mental point of view in order to deal with such coincidences. Tears fell down her face and then, as if someone above took pity on her, the doorbell rang.
“Oh my God, what the heck happened here?!” She heard Caleb’s voice as it got closer. “Sorry, the door was agape so I just invited myself in. But I did ring the bell, to inform whoever was inside that I have arrived.” He explained when he reached her.
For some reason Zoe felt like laughing. She grabbed a hand through her hair and calmed herself down really quickly. Caleb hurried to her side and couldn’t care less that he just sat down on a bloody sheet. He didn’t ask her if she was alright, which she felt grateful for.
“Do you want to sleep over my place tonight? I think we should call the police.” He said in a less demanding voice than Mehrdir.
With Zoe out of the apartment, and police not yet informed of what has happened yet, Mehrdir reappeared at the crime scene. The moonlight was shining on his profile as he stood in the living room, staring with worry at the mark drown on the floor. It was a C with an inversed I going through the middle. He knew that sign, he designed it after all. He couldn’t believe that this group that he left behind was still very much into the business. If there was something worse than demons, that was humans who believed themselves to be above their kind.
“You know who did this, don’t you?”
Mehrdir was surprised to have the Lord of the Flies himself approach him. Beelzebub looked the same, nothing has changed for him. He had a lot of land now and a lot of responsibility over two domains but that was all. He seemed to be thriving, if anything.
“You know too.”
Beelzebub placed his hands in his front pockets and seemed rather laid back.
“This was not done by a demon or a creature under my jurisdiction therefore it is out of my field of expertise.” Beelzebub replied pointing at the drawing with his foot. “Besides, why have someone else take care of this when the creator himself is right here.”
“You know this is not what I intended to do.”
“Really? Then what were your intentions, Marcus? Wasn’t it the death of your father? Didn’t you want to become immortal? Didn’t you escape your own cult by hanging yourself?”
Each statement, because these were facts that both knew were true, stung Mehrdir more and more. He was young back then and very intense so most of his actions and decisions were made on impulse. This was not one of them, though. This cult that he created was planned down to the tiniest details.
“Why are they coming after Zoe? She could kill them in a blink if she is taunted.” Mehrdir thought out loud.
“Maybe it’s not about her. Maybe it’s about you and the choices you made while you were alive.”
The walk to Caleb's apartment was slow. They had to take the subway which made Zoe feel like she was suffocating. It was pretty late and yet there were so many people still traveling, always busy, never truly looking around them. Unfortunately, Zoe was very careful of who sat next to her, or who was listening to music a few seats up and reading the news a few seats down. She could also see all the spirits that seemed either lost either stuck with their day to day schedule although they were dead. But not the spirits were the problem now, for a change.
As soon as they got off, she didn't even check the station because she had this impression that someone was following them. It was only when they arrived at his building that she felt someone behind her. She glanced over her shoulder several times but nobody was there. Caleb's apartment was a man cave through and through, but a man who loved the supernatural. It was odd to be in someone else's personal space, she has never been to Ezekiel's home before.
"Back in London it all happened in my apartment so I never believed I could ever sleep over someone else's place." She started without thinking twice.
"What do you mean? What happened?" He asked putting their backpacks near his dresser.
"I killed a lot of people."
Caleb stopped moving and blinked in shock. He then turned to Zoe very slowly with a nervous laugh.
"You don't mean for real, right? Like, killing for real."
Zoe nodded without looking very apologetic.
"I killed the one person that kept me human. These hands are stained with the blood of many innocent lives." She said showing him her hands. Caleb didn't know what to say, he was genuinely thinking he could die any minute if he wasn't careful.
"You didn't kill them." Was the voice that calmed Caleb down. "Your soul was down in Hell, if I remember correctly."
"Elijah. Haven't seen you since you abandoned Jasper." Zoe said not surprised of his appearance. "And now you are using Caleb, I see. Very responsible of you."
Elijah rolled his eyes and showed her the mark of Leviathan.
"I'm a demon now. Of course, you probably know since you were the one who handed me to him."
"You killed your family because you were jealous. That's not something I caused." She said taking a seat on Caleb's armchair which was already covered by clothes.
"Ha! Let's not talk about what you caused, Zoe. There is a whole freaking list." Elijah said going to her as if he was talking to a long lost friend. "Why are you here anyway? Got tired of being rich?"
Zoe threw Elijah a look that made him shut up instantly. Caleb watched from the side as this woman who didn't look like much could silence a demon with one stern look.
"Her apartment was broken into by some psycho. It looks like there was an orgy that went bad. It's really, really gorey." Caleb explained trying to tidy up the place. "That mark on the ground was weird too. I've never seen it before."
Elijah raised an eyebrow at the information. He then crossed his arms and sat on Zoe's left.
"Well, it is true that thanks to the war a lot of demons came up here. Most of them are of low ranking who have rarely or even never before rose to the living. They are not exactly right in the head." Elijah explained, aiming more at Caleb's interest than Zoe's. "What else was there?"
"It said Privilege above the bed. What does that even mean?" Caleb added since Zoe wasn't speaking.
"Privilege? For what? For being the Princess of Darkness?" Elijah joked, laughing at himself. "Right. If only she'd be down there, then sure. But she's wasting herself up here. Besides, that doesn't sound like a demon. Lately we just...don't want to dirty our hands. Better manipulate somebody to do it."
"So it was definitely a human." Caleb concluded with a thoughtful crease of the eyebrows. "But that means somebody knows about her. Someone other than me."
"Fauggerdy was part of a cult." Zoe finally spoke. "They made a show out of his death so maybe it's them. It looks more like a statement than a threat. Besides, they killed a dog and left it in my bathtub."
"Who the hell kills a dog? They are super cute." Elijah wondered surprising Caleb. "What? I like dogs."
"Zoe...do you think it's those people that were praying to Asmodeus? You did insult them."
Zoe rolled her eyes while Elijah laughed out loud.
"Wow. But I guess he deserves it after he tried to use Eneizar against you." Elijah threw that bit of information into the room.
"Who's Eneizar?" Caleb asked feeling like there was so much he had to find out.
"A vanity demon. He's been away ever since Zoe left Europe. Nobody knows where he is or what he's doing. Mysterious." Elijah said using exaggerated moves. "He is one of Zoe's knights. Or used to be, at least."
"Yeah. The other knight has been closely watching Zoe through a hell mirror. It shows what happens up here but you need a strong connection to someone who is already here in order to be able to open it. And Mehrdir...ah, he is the Hamlet of the 21st century." Elijah explained.
"Nobody." Zoe replied already annoyed. "I'd like to go change and sleep now. Where will I sleep?" She asked her host.
"Um...with me on my bed?" He asked with a shrug. But Zoe was so tired that she couldn't bother fighting that idea.
That night was awful. Zoe was sleeping with her back towards the snoring Caleb and she was sweating and whispering in a language that very few knew. That was the main reason why Caleb woke up. But as soon as he opened his eyes and turned to check on Zoe, he noticed that she was in great distress and whatever was happening to her had real repercussions. The boy uncovered Zoe's body and gasped at the sight. Something was moving on her back very slowly and it seemed to be pulsating.