CODEX Part 4: Among the Living

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Falling In

Next day, bright and early, Zoe was drinking her second coffee while doodling on an old file. It was coming out prettier than she expected considering what she used to draw before. It was surprising how Fallen has dropped into obscurity once her life turned upside down. Usually, her models would consist of real demons, fairies and Ezekiel but now that one out of two was gone and she was avoiding the other two, the only inspirational characters around her were humans.

Zoe chuckled, finding the situation very depressing because humans escape reality through stories while she escaped her reality through humans. Also, occultism classes were more theoretical than practical which was what Mehrdir preferred when it came to her.

“But Mehrdir is not here anymore, is he now?” She mumbled to herself, trying to shift her mind off the greed demon.

Classes in occultism were usually boring but not today. Professor Fauggerdy was especially excited and his creepy wide smile didn’t flinch once for the whole course. Zoe sat in the back, like usually, and unintentionally she searched around for a childish man that often saved her a seat. Stefan wasn’t there and she remembered he was murdered under very curious circumstances.

The course was a continuation of the former one about languages and The Confusion of Tongues. The painting was zoomed in on the screen behind the professor and he was explaining little details that seemed to make a difference in the modern world. She couldn’t care less to be sincere and unlike other times, instead of calling her out to answer, Fauggerdy only nodded at her.

Just after class ended, Fauggerdy called her out for a short chat.

“I heard about Stefan. Did the police find any clue of how or where he died?” The elder man asked with a tinge of curiosity.

“No. Do you know if he was part of some strange cult?” Zoe asked.

Professor Fauggerdy chuckled, leaning against his desk with his arms folded in front of his chest.

“Stefan did seem on edge and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case but I don’t think he ever mentioned a cult.” He answered thoughtfully, “Did he mention something to you?”

“No. He never mentioned anything of that sort.”

Fauggerdy smiled, almost as if he was expecting that answer, and let Zoe leave. She did so immediately and hurried down the hall and out on the campus grounds. The building was huge and had several blocks for each subject of education, the closer one being Literature.

She only wanted to take a break and not think about the recent death so the only place Zoe could rest her mind was the campus. The Literature block was right across hers and it had a fresh ambiance. It was always silence around that block and a lot of its students were reading or even writing. It was a sight she wished she could have been part of from before her commander problem but it’s never too late.

“Such a bright day, isn’t it? I think I like this nowadays. They make me feel alive for some reason.”

It certainly didn’t sound like he was complimenting anything with that scowl on his face. His empty eyes weren’t helping either and the way he was sitting next to her as if the world should bow down to his highness was making her question what his role in her life was.

“Don’t ignore me, Zoe. We should seriously talk about the vanity domain.” Mepalham continued, leaning towards her. “I’m not going to leave your side from now on. I will spend every moment of the day with you, nagging you or just giving my advise here and there. Believe me, I’m a demon of my word. Besides, we can begin right now with your interesting outfit choice. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you have been raised in a secluded area, away from-“

“Fine.” Zoe hissed. She grabbed her purse and searched for her phone and earphones. Once connected and with one earphone on, Zoe was ready to answer whatever he wanted to know.

“The vanity domain has been suspiciously silent and obedient after Lucifer’s fall. Mammon has been trying to expand his land but Beelzebub denied, as if it’s his choice. Anyway, the Gate is monopolized right now and Beelzebub’s lackeys keep watch over the Hell Hole.” Mepalham explained.

“And what does that have to do with me?” Zoe asked grumpily.

“You are Lucifer’s inheritor. Dozens of vanity demons have witnessed your initiation and after everything that’s happened, they respect Lucifer’s decision. It’s so silent, Zoe. Vanity demons keep themselves hidden from the rest if they step out of their domain and that’s all because they have no leader. They need someone to take responsibility over them and give them work to do. They’re just like old people without nurses to take care of them. They just wait to be killed.”

“They are anything but obedient. Their pride is what keeps them excited and strong.” She mumbled, bending her head when a student passed right in front of her. “Demons like them wouldn’t step back but try to become the new leader.”

Mepalham sighed and crouched slightly with his hands between his legs.

“I shouldn’t be surprised that you don’t care; I should have seen it but Beelzebub still wanted me to come and chat. He believes vanity demons will come to you because you sure won’t go to Hell. Maybe they’ll use people around you, maybe they will try and kill you, maybe even get you into a coma just to have both sides of you,” He chuckled, glancing at her with a boyish grin, “Or maybe you can just give them an order that would take a few decades to be done and live on peacefully.”

“Why didn’t Beelzebub take over?” Zoe hissed, getting a headache.

“Because he’s a secretive piece of shit; has always been. Only Mehrdir has seen his land and he doesn’t plan to open it up for visitors anytime soon. He comes out once in a while and instructs us as if he’s our leader. Ha!” Suddenly, he stopped and stared at Zoe with a new glint in his eyes, “Your demons feel everything you do. Mehrdir has been so cold lately, worse than ever before. Iaosur is now human, living in your apartment with the rest-“

“What rest?” She asked, turning towards him.

“Well, pretty much all of us. Hell became work and your apartment became home. Iaosur and that human, Chen, Mehrdir who pretty much lives in your room, probably smelling the sheets hoping he’d get a leftover scent like a creep.” He laughed before he continued, “Abigor comes and goes, he’s in charge of Abaddon and I thing he enjoys torturing him until he’s ready to die and then just heals him. Being human was not Abaddon’s plan.”

“Have you heard of Heaven?” She asked turning her attention on her phone. “Is everything alright up there?”

“You mean Ezekiel? He’s in Heaven, Zoe. Heaven is always fine and boring.” Mepalham answered.

“What about Eneizar then?”

There was a pause, which for a demon meant trouble. Mepalham looked down at his fingers before he answered.

“He’s gone.”

Zoe could feel her eyebrow twitch in annoyance. It’s been a while since she felt like punching someone and Mepalham could see it in the way she was gripping her phone.

“What does that mean?” She asked through gritted teeth.

“He’s been missing for a few months. We can’t track him down. Only you and Lucifer can feel him or reach out to him.”

“What have you been doing this whole time? Watching me? You said you do that in pairs and Eneizar’s pair is Mehrdir. What is he doing?” She continued, her annoyance growing in intensity.

“Eneizar is not a human. He can take care of himself.” Mepalham mumbled rolling his eyes, “Anyway, Mehrdir has been looking around for him. Those two bonded over their common weakness: you.”

Zoe sighed and got up, pulling her earphone away as well as her phone. The conversation was over for her even if he looked like he had more to say.

“Stay or leave, I will still follow you like a shadow.” He whispered, following her move towards her block.

She decided to ignore him just like she ignored everything for the past year. Mepalham was not her demon nor a vanity demon so she could easily pass him to another prince. Unfortunately, it seemed that Beelzebub was not interested enough to get involved like he's done for the past few years.

“He’s not winning anything so of course he doesn’t get involved,” Zoe mumbled to herself, rubbing her forehead in annoyance.

Mepalham was watching her have an inner fight between her need to socialize with the world she became part of and the want of normality. He couldn’t understand much since he has never thought of helping others –like Iaosur, that disappointment- but he could see it was difficult.

“Whenever you’re done, Zoe! I’ve got an eternity!” He shouted after her, a smile playing on his lips.

Zoe glared at her hand, sensing an incredible urge to break something but she couldn’t allow losing control. She was most definitely not a demon, especially on the campus and she didn’t not want any funny rumors circulating about her. Stefan was enough of a fuss as it was and Gakhas was hiding details that could help the case. At the same time, she knew she wasn’t ready to know those details because they would automatically draw her into the darkness she had left from.

It was a sunny day, incredibly beautiful compared to what has been forecasted that morning. Many students were out to read or where going to classes, anyway the audience outside seemed enough.

“Oi, what’s up there?”

With every step closer to the window, he couldn’t help but sigh over and over again. He was excited but he was just as scared, if not horrified. Life was precious and he had second thoughts now that he was so close to the window. But something was pushing him, urging him to open the large windows, step on the railing and jump into the abyss.

“Do you see that?”

With one final look at the sky, he closed his eyes and breathed in and out several times. Then, when he felt ready, he opened his eyes, ready to fulfill his destiny.

The encouragements to look up towards the Literature building was overwhelming. Students were pointing out and some walked closer to the suspicious sight. Mepalham tilted his head to the side, curiosity growing in his being.

Zoe frowned when she saw even more students from other departments rushing past her. She let herself driven by the crowd and looked up at the second floor of the Literature building. Up there was a young boy, looking at the people below him with some kind of wicked satisfaction.

“Do you see me?! This is for you! This is for Lucifer’s legacy on Earth! This is for the inheritor!” The boy screamed as loud as he could before he jumped.

Mepalham chuckled, enjoying the surprise suicide a lot more than he should. Of course, he was a demon and couldn’t care less about a human life but that couldn’t be said about the rest of the audience. Once the body fell on the asphalt, the noise of a corpse landing face first was enough to silence the whole campus.

“Well, wasn’t that a show?” Mepalham tried to make it seem lighter than it was.

One look at Zoe and the demon knew it was not something he could joke about at formal dinner parties. She was standing there like a statue with her face still looking up at the window. Her face was expressionless but Mepalham could see it; he could see her hands trembling and he hoped it wasn’t fear. He couldn’t have the inheritor scared now, could he? That was not Beelzebub’s plan.

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