Chapter 11. The Eyes of a Devil’s Child
Cathy had changed her shirt, but the part where it was weird; Elle still wore the same clothes every day. They had checked out from the inn before they had a trip with bus.
The view behind the bus window was beyond amazing, the buildings around Vienna looked pretentious. The moment felt awesome for Cathy that she had forgotten the very monotonous days at school that always turned her mood into pieces of exasperation.
As a few passengers came out at the bus stop, the driver told her something about a peaceful valley, although it could be her uncle’s place, but she forgot what he called it.
They got out at the next stop, and Elle was bringing the belongings again without her consideration, as if without a burden. They stopped across the huge land filled with grasses and a sheepfold. At the edge of the area, she saw a mini market. Cathy wanted to buy something for her breakfast ever since her stomach felt crunchy during the ride with bus.
At eight a.m., she entered that mini market. Elle followed her from behind, looking just like a normal human again. They walked along to the snack section, and to her surprise, Elle suddenly grabbed one of the snacks in black wrapper that had a yellow fish logo. “Fish n Chip, please.”
Cathy narrowed her eyes in disbelief. “You never eat.”
“This looks good,” Elle smiled convincingly.
They stared insistently to one another, until Elle demanded, “You’re not going to buy it for me?”
“Alright, but stop that puppy dog face,” Cathy giggled over this strange incredulity, and soon, she went to the cashier after picking up some snacks and a cold ice milk. It seemed that they were the only visitors here.
Elle was skimming her fingers through the snack section again, but when the atmosphere felt changeable, she sensed something was odd suddenly.
Across the glass refrigerators in the beverage section, she saw a good-looking businessman walked oppositely from her. He looked like a superficial young man, dressed in a blue pinstripe suit, he had a slick ebony hair that looked wet, and he had a tan skin.
As he smiled creepily, she shot him warily with a sharp stare.
“What a little surprise for me to meet a little angel here,” he murmured, dramatically.
Elle stood emotionless as she noticed the sudden presence of that seemingly young man.
In a blink of an eye, he revealed his true form, forcibly. He couldn’t hide his true form, and he couldn’t endure the pain and heat to stand so close to an angel. The severe pain was emerging back and forth. His transformation was undone, but when he did, he turned into a beast with burnt skin, thick beard, and with a little horn in his head.
“The Obayifo must have been feeling contented to welcome you, they’re still asleep in their cave,” he had a sly smile while enduring his true transformation like a drunkard.
Elle was silent and showed him no interest after all. However, she remembered perfectly of what Obayifo meant; the mythological creature, described as an animal of bat. They had chocolate skin, some appeared in grey skin, and some burnt. Most of them looked fat with their distended stomach, and some were slender. Their faces looked the same, and it might hard to tell the difference. Their form could be changeable. If there was a demonic activity, they would transform into a pack of normal bats. They usually stayed inside a humid cave, and in the darkness.
From the frightening story, she became a legend for every demon in the nowadays.
She raised her small hand, skimming the shelf full of snacks with her lethal electrical shock without destroying them. It was a warning he gave him.
His eyes turned all blackish, it wasn’t brown like the first time. He looked nothing like human, even though he was in a handsome form now.
“Oh, I hate those little hands of yours,” he said, devilishly.
Once Cathy was done with her groceries, she returned to Elle, but another presence in the room had surprised her. It was because the devilish eyes of that young man stared at her, and as if like an elastic rubber effect, his face transformed into a beast, and he lost control.
“What… this young lady can see my true form?” He definitely shocked. “She’s human.”
Elle ignored him for sure, as she felt enormously nauseated with this encounter. “She did.”
That angel left ahead after she answered him, but Cathy was still gawking in a terrible shock. She wasn’t accustomed to see something as obvious as that, except for what she saw in her childhood time. The beast was staring in disbelief too. However, Elle returned to drag her along hurriedly.
They walked side by side on the pavement, and then Cathy asked rashly, “What was that? What were you two talking about?”
“He is the demons’ leader. Let’s say, he’s the leader in this land of Austria,” Elle answered without looking at her, and walking ahead straightly. “He talked nothing important, really.”
Soon, they walked through the uphill road. The tranquility felt alive around here as they returned to see a sheepfold around the huge green land.
“So, where are we going?” Cathy breathed deeply, thinking about no clue from her mom, and thus, she kept asking worriedly. “Do you even know his address?”
Sometimes she got frightened of her calmness in this kind of circumstance, as if nothing scared that white hair angel.
“Just follow the path,” Elle said.
There were grasses anywhere from left to right, with the addition of beautiful red and yellow flowers that could invigorate anyone who walked through here.
As they walked throughout the brown walking trail, Cathy kept wondering if Elle really knew which road to take from this area, even though she knew now that the person beside her was an angel disguised in a human form, her mind was still hard to accept the fact.
There was a possibility that Cathy couldn’t trust her, and so she kept seeking for the answer by herself. She dragged her suitcase, and murmured, “I hope there’s someone to ask.”
“You couldn’t really expect anyone to ask from here,” Elle shouted, while bringing the bag of weapons.
Cathy stared peevishly at her, but it was true, no one seen here except the animals. She didn’t give up and kept looking.
From afar, she saw a view of town that looked like countryside, but they would need a transportation to go there. However, she relieved to see the vaporing air emerged from one of the residential houses. It was a sign that people lived around.
As they walked further, Cathy finally relieved to see a few people were having a picnic under the big maple tree in the left side of the land. Once she walked closer to them, there was a little girl sat on the swing that hung in the tree, while two women were having a serious conversation.
Cathy approached the little girl on the swing, and her heart jolted by astonishment to see that the girl was not a kid after all. She walked backward carefully, but the girl’s eyes stared weirdly and creepily at her, as if wanted to swallow anything around.
The black hair woman, the one that wore a black cardigan and a long brown skirt, she talked in a language that Cathy didn’t understand at all. While the other woman was African, she dressed in a babysitter uniform.
“I’m sorry ma’am, I can’t speak German,” Cathy said.
The two women surprised to see a tourist around here, while Cathy stole a glance at the girl on the swing who seemingly about her age. The creepy girl had a small body, and always looked as if she was possessed by something.
“Oh, are you with that girl?” The woman in black cardigan beckoned her eyes at Elle.
“Yes,” Cathy nodded, and then focused and pointed her finger at the faraway town in the north side. “By the way, is that the only residential around here?”
“Not really, that’s the towns of Krem and Melk, the most crowded place and central. There are some Inns too, if you want to stay,” she said friendly. “You can go for sightseeing in Wachau Valley. It’s quieter than the towns.”
“That’s what I need, Wachau Valley,” she sounded excited. “Where can I go from here?”
“Oh dear, there are a few houses near the river, only five kilometers from here, turn left to that downhill,” that woman smiled while explaining to her. “Well, of course it’s a sequestered place. The tourists usually visit the town rather than the valley.”
“I’m currently looking for my uncle in that valley, so it’s okay,” she smiled back.
Cathy just realized that there was a downhill, covered behind the gigantic trees. A river could be peered up from there, and she noted it was the second longest river around Europe after Volga, people called it Danube River.
She thanked the woman to tell her the direction, but then she couldn’t ignore that creepy girl dressed in floral blue-white dress. “Is she your daughter?”
The woman nodded, hugging her arms worriedly. There was something unspoken which Cathy could tell from this changeable atmosphere.
The creepy girl suddenly stood on the swing, and looked very small like a gnome. Everyone looked shocked, and the babysitter approached the girl hurriedly, guarding her from falling.
Cathy noticed that the girl’s blue eyes changed blackish all of a sudden. The girl showed sharp teeth as she yanked her neck, choking her pretty hard. The black hair woman screamed out and muttered in her own language. While the babysitter tried to relinquish the girl’s hand from Cathy’s neck.
“I won’t let you go, little girl!” She talked with a hoarse and deep voice, it sounded inhuman, especially when she laughed creepily. “You just need to die!”
Elle took over the situation as she pulled Cathy away from that girl, and she demanded the women to step aside, making a room for her. With just one hand, she grabbed the girl’s neck harshly. The girl bulged out, showing her cat’s pupils. Elle stared more sarcastically with her eagle eyes to the girl.
“Will you dare to do that again?” Elle could determine whose soul she confronted. “You’re the devil’s child.”
The girl grinned and laughed hard in a creepy way. So on, Elle grabbed her face strongly with two hands.
“You’re so reckless, huh?” Elle said impudently. “I think your ancestors never told you about our legend. I can send you straight to hell, child.”
The girl giggled, and mocked her warning, “Try me.”
“Are you sure?” Elle asked daringly. “Because I’m giving you a chance to leave this innocent human body,” she waited for a few seconds, but the girl just kept pushing her hands away while giggling insanely, and then, although pretending to be brave, the girl suddenly looked worried.
“Please do anything to make it go away!” The black hair woman said, panicked. It turned out that she was the girl’s mother.
Cathy frightened to see that girl gone mad and showed abnormal behavior. While beside her, the babysitter only gawked and prayed alone.
“Time’s up!” Elle threw the girl to the ground.
She sat above the girl, preventing her from moving. Soon, she raised her right thumb, and murmuring a strange language that Cathy couldn’t hear, but somehow it sounded like ancient Latin. She placed her thumb to the girl’s forehead, and suddenly, a smoke emerged.
Everyone gawked in disbelief at this tension, especially when the girl writhed in a tremendous pain.
The mother stressed out, and yelled out, “What have you done?!”
Once the burning smoke evaporated in the air, the girl stopped crying. Elle rose from the ground immediately to clean the dusts in her hands, and she didn’t look exhausted after all.
“Your hands,” Cathy murmured.
“’It’s okay,” Elle smiled, and she turned to see the women. “She’s dead into ashes—the demon.”
The girl fainted, and the mother hugged her immediately while crying. She was afraid to lose her, especially with the idea of possession.
“How often this had happened?” Cathy asked.
“A lot of time,” the babysitter finally talked. “We did any ritual, but all failed, useless.”
“I don’t promise this would last, but for a very long time, this won’t happen,” Elle shouted.
“Why is it?” Cathy asked.
“Her aura was opened widely, that would invite any evil entity to possess her,” Elle said, and gave the mother a sharp stare. “You did this to your own daughter.”
The babysitter surprised to notice that Elle didn’t look ordinary.
“Dark art always has a price to pay, right?” Elle said rhetorically, while cleaning the leftover dusts in her palm hands. “Well, at least you deserve to live like that.”
“Elle!” Cathy warned her cynical manner.
“They need to know what they did was wrong,” Elle said harshly. “Why do you think we should come across with these people while there’s an elder on the right side of that road?”
Cathy felt blinded from seeing an old man across the road, who almost got a heart attack to witness this situation. Nevertheless, the atmosphere slowly turned normal again.
“I regret that decision in the past, we need money, and my brain has stopped thinking clearly,” the mother mumbled. “Now, I’m grateful with your help.”
“Thank you,” the babysitter added.
It was the last time they ever met them, and now they had to continue their journey. This time, Elle brought the suitcase and the bag of weapons.
While walking down the hill, Cathy had random questions on her mind that she couldn’t just ignore. “What exactly they did wrong?”
“They took an agreement with a demon in order to be rich instantly, now they have to pay for the price they can’t afford, hence, her daughter’s soul almost being eaten.”
“Even so, you save her life, I’m relieved.”
“I didn’t,” Elle smirked. “Because that demon almost killed you back then, I had no option instead to send her back to hell.”
“You didn’t intent to help them?” She baffled.
Elle stared back at her, smirking sarcastically. “Why would I help someone who works with devil?”
“And so, why did she want to kill me?” She wondered.
“It is part of their wicked hobby, you should have known it better,” Elle chuckled.
“What do you mean?”
“That demon perhaps wanted to be a parasite to your soul too, but it wouldn’t happen,” Elle said, gave her the creeps.
This topic had reminded her with the conversation they had, back then; about the demon domination, who wanted to live in the human world as well, taking human consciousness to fall into the dark. She understood the idea; if there was a bad human, it probably wasn’t their true nature, but it could be that their mind was controlled by a parasite of demon.
The whole thing stressed her out. Even though Elle had already explained it, she still felt breathless with her own confusion.
The rustling winds invigorated everything around, and the weather was summer solstice. They went downhill, and stopped to read the large wooden board; Wachau Valley to the east, the towns of Krem and Melk to the north.
“What is this place?” Cathy wondered.
“This is a little part of Wachau Valley… only it’s hidden,” Elle informed.
The pathways became smaller the more they walked down on the road. There were houses separated a few miles from each other, and no one seen outside. Elle focused to check on the white house that located not far from the edge of the river. The house had a small yard of wild grasses, and the house terrace had stairs, just like her house in Bisbee.
“Are you sure this is the right house?” Cathy hesitated to step further.
Elle was confidence. “Just follow me.”
Cathy pressed the bell button. They waited a few seconds for someone to open the door, and it was an old man, who wore a brown flat cap to cover his gray hair. He stood at the doorsill, looking defensive against their arrival.
“Good morning, we’re looking for—” Cathy just forgot the name of her uncle, since her mom only mentioned him once.
Elle added though, “Carl Dalton.”
“I’m Cathy Charlotte, and this is my friend, Sylvia Elle. We’re from Arizona,” she introduced, while feeling awkward to face him, and she still wasn’t sure if this was the right house. “Natalie Haile is my mom. She sends me to meet him. Does he live here?”
He seemed trembling, while holding the door, and gazed carefully at them. It took him for a while to be surprised with the presence of the white hair girl. He knew something.
“Natalie Haile Ann von Aloise?” He murmured.
Cathy nodded politely.
“I’m Carl Dalton, please be my guest,” he finally welcomed them to come in.
The house looked huge from inside than what it appeared from outside. The ambience was village alike, with the lavender aroma smelled around the room, but it mixed with the sandbar smell that came from the fireplace. The first floor had a kitchen, dining room, and living room. All the furniture had the simplicity design.
Elle threw all the belongings on the sofa, in front of the television. This living room had a mini terrace adjacent with the glass wall that displayed a few plants in the pots and a small fountain.
Cathy followed to see the view in there, and she loved the atmosphere in this house. “Beautiful, this is so relaxing.”
“The replacement of meditation,” he said.
From closer, Carl Dalton looked so small and fragile. Cathy was taller than he was.
“You do speak English,” she bewildered. “Not German?”
“I’m not always speaking of my mother tongue with a tourist,” he said and giggled.
As soon as they sat together on the sofa, the serious conversation started. Elle watched them as she leaned on the glass wall.
“My mom said that you would tell me something about the family,” Cathy said.
“I want to correct one thing,” his brown eyes focused and stared at her. “We’re not related by blood in anyhow, your family is just so good to me. We used to have an excellent time together, but since the circumstance is hard for them—”
She wanted the confirmation, whether this was the truth or not, “The Aloise family?”
“Literally, he doesn’t have any cognation with you,” Elle shouted, impeccably.
It was hard to believe, she had arrived here just to hear this shocking news.
“Yes, my dear,” he smiled. “I don’t know which story to start—”
“Just tell her from the beginning,” Elle snarled.
Cathy glanced in annoyance at her, for having such a cynical manner with the elder. As she returned to stare softly at him, she muttered, “Sorry, she’s kind of something. Please never mind.”
He was expressionless when he giggled. However, he already prepared the words for this encounter. “A long time ago, I wrote a book called Emperor of Souls.”
“Wait, I’ve heard that,” Cathy glanced at Elle as she remembered. “You’re the writer?”
He nodded. “It was popular among the people in here, now it’s almost forgotten. At least you can still find it in the particular library—the old one.”
“What does my mom has anything to do with your book?” She wondered.
“The book has treasured a secret legend that once believed by the ancient people. In the old time, people were forbidden to talk about it.
She was confused somehow. “You made it published anyway, is it non-fiction?”
“It’s fiction, for your surprise,” he said solemnly.
For a moment, they were silent before he continued explaining.
“Back in 1947, I was 17-year-old. I worked in the Aloise’s chapel as a servant boy. Every morning, a woman came to spin a yarn. I was intrigued to write it into a book since I thought it was a fantastic story, but apparently, the legend was true,” he said, recalling his nostalgia. “But the people nowadays believe it as a fairy tale.”
“Will you tell me about the legend?” Cathy asked.
“It’s a classic story about one empire that destroyed by a woman who envied a queen’s daughter beauty. The woman was a powerful witch. She had a perishable life, until she decided to collide with the devil’s promises to make her immortal, and with that strong power, she ruined the empire,” he told her.
Cathy listened to him carefully as he continued, “Although all of her effort was to fulfill the devil’s wish to get Sapphire stone, the one that sacred and believed by many to be the key to open the portal inside the castle, the place of another dimension.”
He informed her further, “The royals were never alone to face her, but in that one war, the three important figures weren’t there for them… well, the death of Princess Kathleen was misfortune.”
“Kathleen?” The sparkle came, as if there was butterfly on her stomach. She glanced slightly at Elle, and said, “I’m familiar with the name.”
He bewildered at her reaction.
“There’s no happy ending?” Cathy wondered. “What are the three figures and the Sapphire?” She shook her head and muttered, “I still don’t get it, of how this story could relate to my mom.”
“I can give you the copy of my book,” he offered kindly. “However, everything is connected, your mom is a descendant of the Aloise. The destroyed empire was the early generation of the Aloise family. Thus, Princess Kathleen was real, she existed.”
“No way,” she shook her head in disbelief. “Does it mean you want to tell me that my mom is really part of the royal family?”
“Yes, my dear. Haven’t she told you about it?” He bewildered and glanced at Elle. “And the key is that Sapphire stone.”
Once he mentioned it, Elle gave him a warning stare. He just realized that seemingly, it wasn’t the right time for that.
“I don’t understand,” she frustrated. “If it’s about the stone, is this why the demons are still chasing after my mom?”
“Exactly,” Elle shouted.
“Why my mom didn’t tell me by herself?” She asked, infuriatedly. “Why everything should be hidden?”
“This way the legend could only exist by hiding. Imagine if the world would notice, people might be dying to hunt the Sapphire, and it would be the reason to lead the world into doomsday,” Elle explained.
Cathy tried to contemplate what happened in the past, but her own confusion didn’t help her to understand everything at once.
He cleared his throat suddenly. It was the time to introduce himself in a proper manner.
“My real name’s Doyle Carl Dalton, and I only have one daughter named Elliana, but she passed away five years ago, and my granddaughter is the closest family that I have,” and he sighed, “Unfortunately, she doesn’t live here anymore.”
“Where is she?” Cathy sympathized. “Are you living alone now?”
“Alone is my everyday life,” he exhaled deeply. “She’s married and lives with her husband in America. They’re running a restaurant business, if I wasn’t mistaken to hear her, it’s in Bisbee, I don’t even know where that is,” he looked sad to tell her about it. “She changed her surname as Jones. I mean, her mom married to the Jones family. We are not even Native American.”
Cathy thought for a second, this circumstance was like a perfect synchronicity. “Perhaps, she’s Wendy Jones, your granddaughter?”
“How do you know that?” He astonished, and he rose from the sofa to show her a photo that placed above the television. “Is this her?”
“Yes!” Cathy bulged out surprisingly that it was true. “She’s a good person. We have talked a few times before. How small this world!”
Subsequently, he observed her tired face. “Please make yourself feel at home, there’s a bedroom upstairs. You need to take a rest.”
“Thank you so much,” Cathy nodded.
Elle followed her to walk upstairs while bringing her belongings. There was the aroma of teak wooden when they went to the second floor. This corridor had two sides of rooms. One was similar to the living room downstairs, but it looked more like personal space.
Cathy walked forward to the arched door, and found there was a medium-sized fireplace with the built in desk, where a mini horse statue displayed in there, and an old painting hung above it. The Native American red sofa was facing the fireplace, and the bookshelves adjacent to the wall, next to the window covered with creamy curtain. Nevertheless, Elle forced her to check out the bedroom first.
After they opened the room, they felt homey. There was a king-sized bed in the bedroom, where Elle threw all the belongings there. Soon, Cathy went to the bathroom to take a shower, although she didn’t perspire yet.
During that time, Elle went downstairs to have a conversation with him. In the dining room, a cup of hot tea was served at the table, where he sat oppositely from her.
“I know who had been accompanying you at those times,” Elle said, inscrutably. “So it’s true then, she chose you because of her own affection.”
“I know you’re not human at all,” he recognized her vibe since the very beginning.
“What am I then, old man?” Elle asked him rhetorically.
He just couldn’t say it right away, he was afraid with this particular emotion of encountering someone like her, and of that mysterious impression.
Elle spoke again, “People talk behind you, that you’ve been possessed by an evil spirit to write about that legend story.”
Carl Dalton was speechless and trembled, while she chuckled, that it was right of what happened.
“It was all wrong,” Elle said, convincing him. “You weren’t possessed after all, but she told you directly since she became the messenger. She is always like that. I know her.”
“Yes, just like you,” he added.
And she changed the topic, “How’s the stone after all this agonizing century?”
“I keep it safe in my bedroom. Perhaps, you’ve come to take it as well?” He wondered.
Elle smiled mysteriously, and said, “The preparation should be settled. We might keep our sharp sight for a moment.”
The placid atmosphere filled the room subsequently. At the time, he contemplated their conversation. He agreed of what she said, since everything was true. Elle knew the whole truth, even the things about him. He already noticed ever since she stepped in his house terrace, and that was the reason he kept gazing suspiciously at her oddness.
Without any hesitation that ever crossed on his mind, from his peripheral vision he could tell that the girl was something else, of a beautiful creature that people said coming from heaven, visiting human world—an angel.