Chapter 14. Inside the Darkness
The view of a few crumpled papers at the edge of the dark fireplace had stunned her. As Cathy looked closer, she found some of the handwritten poems.
“My oblique to the happiness,” Carl Dalton startled her, as he appeared behind her. “It bored me now.”
She amazed at his beautiful writing skill, but the papers just turned obsolete. “You also wrote a poem?”
He nodded and stood next to the bookshelves. The room filled with a hallow atmosphere, it was peaceful.
Cathy started demanding for what she came here, “I’m sure, there’s a lot that you haven’t told me yet.”
“Yes, my dear,” he agreed. “You may read the book by yourself for the comprehensibility.”
“Emperor of Souls?” Cathy guessed it right.
He revealed random documents as he pulled out the drawer shelf beside those bookshelves. “Which format would you prefer… the manuscript or paperback book?”
“The paperback, please,” She felt more convenient with it, especially when she recalled the books that they supposed to borrow from the library was left on the administration desk. She totally forgot it all after a demon arrived. “What about the one from the library?”
“Ah, you can’t bring those books to America according to the library’s regulation,” he chuckled.
“I know that, I mean, I can’t just read it in a day. The journal is almost eight hundred pages alone, addition with the book. They’re so thick,” she protested.
“I suppose, you’re right,” he wanted to calm her though. “You know I’m not coming from the circle of your family, I couldn’t know more than what was written in the book. So, I’ll tell you briefly.”
She received the book from his hand, and then he moved weakly toward to sofa where Elle also sat there. He sighed, and he glanced at the bright morning sky through the window.
This was Saturday, the third days that Cathy stayed in Austria. She should leave before Monday, since her school in Bisbee won’t give her another extension for absent.
Now, they stared intensely to one another. He started talking, “I give you that book. Please keep it.”
“Thank you, Mr. Dalton,” she was grateful. “I’ve read the first chapter yesterday. It’s amazing.”
“There weren’t any easy days in the writing process,” he muttered, chuckling by himself.
She baffled with his confession, but then her curiosity became alive and it was unstoppable, “What’s with the writing?”
“It’s not purely fictional, beyond the non-fiction incident,” Elle shouted, while her arms were leaning leisurely on the sofa. “Marissa told him the story. He became a medium for folks out there.”
“Because she isn’t human?” Cathy asked. “And that’s why you seemed shocked to meet her again, yesterday?”
Carl Dalton breathed deeply before he answered her, “It would seem impossible to retrieve the whole enigmas, because the story couldn’t hide continuously. And yes, she is a good messenger, a good angel. I already told you about how I met her for the first time.”
Cathy glanced back and forth between them before she wondered again. “The fire you’ve mentioned at the library, was it the incident that destroyed the empire?”
“Indeed,” he assured.
“Did you write about the secret portal too?”
“No, it’s part of secrecy. Marissa told me not to mention it,” he said alerted.
“Even the servants never knew about it, except for one loyal servant named Miranda. She wasn’t just a helper in the empire, but because of her huge love for the princess,” Elle said, as if she was narrating a story “—it was just among the royals, warriors, and those annoying demons.”
“Okay, so, who is the parsimonious man that Stefan mentioned about?” Cathy asked, finally.
Elle guffawed at her disposition thought, and then she sighed uninterestedly. “You believe what he said?”
It wasn’t such a response that Cathy would understand immediately, thus she got baffled. The exact explanation would probably make her mind to venture better. Altogether, Carl Dalton squinted gloriously at that angel.
“Alright, since both of you are deathly curious—” she still chuckled in disbelief. “Actually, he was a good man.”
“So, how about now?” Cathy asked.
“He becomes—dark,” she said hesitantly. “I don’t know if that’s the right word to describe how he appears now, because he has changed after the fire incident. Everyone changed as well though,” it wasn’t her notion, but the truth through the perspective of angel’s eyes. “He was missing for several decades, and then he returned as a half hell creature. He’s known by the entities as the frightening red eyes in whitey figure.”
“What do you mean as a half hell?” Carl Dalton asked upon his own bewilderment.
“Originally, he wasn’t one of our kind. He exists between the good and evil,” her eyes stared keenly at the fireplace. “He could be evil, and at the same time being kind-hearted. It’s always hard to explain… if you see him directly, perhaps the description will become fully clear.”
“Is he really the gate keeper?” Cathy asked.
“Indeed,” Elle nodded. “When he was gone, no one could either get in or out from the gate. The only way is to use the Sapphire stone and its master key—Puissant.”
“So, could a royal open the gate even if he stood behind it?” Cathy asked again since she fell deeply into her own curiosity. “What if he doesn’t give the authority to any visitor to open it?”
“For Puissant, there’s no need to ask for his permission,” but then she shifted her gaze solemnly to Cathy. “The main reason why demons have been chasing after your mom—is because they would do anything foolish to come inside Caecus.”
“I thought you’ve said that demons want to live in the human world… the domination, remember?” She recalled their superstition talk in the dining room, back in Bisbee, of the night when her mom got the incident.
“That’s also true,” Elle substantiated. “They seduce humans to do evil business, and later when humans fall into their trap, humans will be forced to accompany them as a loyal friend in hell.”
They were listening quietly as Elle kept explaining, “Demons know about their own legend, that their kind will never touch heaven’s light till the end since their ancestor made a commitment with God in the first place. Obviously, they love to bother any fragile humans for fun, but that dimension behind the gate is totally different. They also want to get welfare before plunging themselves into hell,” Elle chuckled sarcastically before she continued telling them. “The conclusion is like an obscure threat for all of us to accept evil kind in there, because almost every secret about the real fairy tale exist inside Caecus.”
“Would it mean they already knew the truth about many legends?” He muttered.
“They’re trying so hard to steal the truth for humans, even just a little, which to make the deal easier. It’s like a story of a demon tried to steal the angel’s conversation in the sky about the written future,” Elle said firmly. “It’s a huge effort to make human have faith in them, really miserable.”
“What will happen if demons live behind the gate?” Cathy asked.
“A collision will happen between demons and other entities, and not only angels, there are also the good and evil Djinn as well. It may seem like two mountains get collided—tantrum.”
“You’ve been calling the term as the gate. Does it literally mean the secret portal?” She was confused. “Can you describe about that dimension?”
Elle still stared silently at her, so Cathy had to repeat, “It sounds more like a huge portal.”
“It’s a code, alright,” Elle emphasized her words while crossing arms. “Word in a code—the term of portal is too conspicuous. So, we’ve been calling it as the gate. It’s safer and it still has the same meaning as the entrance.”
Cathy narrowed her eyes, baffled. “I just thought that it doesn’t sound fit.”
“The demons from nowadays generation wouldn’t understand if we mentioned it that way, and they wouldn’t bother to peep hardly in our conversation,” at the time she said that, her eyes were keen, “Humans are out of number against demon’s children. They would almost have a long live, far from sickness, unlike humans.”
Carl Dalton still hoped. His eyes got glimmered. “I wish I could see the place.”
“Don’t. Just don’t. Once you see it, you don’t want to live in your own land,” she said firmly.
“It sounds like heaven, the place of every affection and affliction,” Cathy murmured, as remembering that Marissa had once described it that way somehow.
“Who said that place is like heaven?” Elle exclaimed. “I’d perfectly say—far beyond and not even close, but just like a magnet for any pair of eyes. It’s hard to describe.”
Cathy couldn’t imagine comparing any of splendor places against Caecus, and yet, she wanted to know something else, “Doesn’t he have a name?”
For a while, Elle shot her with sharp eyes. It was like a warning, the same one she gave at Stefan. The atmosphere felt different every time the topic was about the gatekeeper. The two humans had their muscles weaken, as if they went paralyzed.
“I don’t feel to talk about him too much, despite you know why,” she stared at them. “Because we shouldn’t.”
“What’s wrong with him?” Cathy baffled at this white hair angel. “Have he done something?”
“I told you, he’s unlike our kind. We’re two different creatures. I always suspect him to have something to do with demons after the fire incident,” she sighed for a while. “His name is—Lazuerre.”
“Lazuerre?” Cathy repeated, she felt absurd about the name.
“Sssttt!” Elle bulged out when her heart seemed to get a heart attack. “Don’t call his name out loud!”
“Seriously what’s with him?” Cathy raised her voice now, she was extensively stubborn. “Either you or Marissa have been keeping a mysterious secret about him.”
“Do you know one of the good things about any entities?” Elle asked them mysteriously. “They would know if you called their name, it’s like inviting their energy to come.”
This topic reminded Cathy about random storytellers, the one who told horror tales, and so often, they mentioned the creature’s name and everything related with evil kind. Thereafter, both of them felt the sudden eerie about the fact.
At twelve in the afternoon, Cathy returned to her own bedroom, with Elle following her from behind.
Cathy sat crossing her legs on the bed while reading the book—Emperor of Souls. At the time, Elle stared observantly at her stillness.
Cathy realized she was being watched by an angel. “You must have known the whole story in this book, right?” She was tingled to ask further, “Tell me the ending, is it sad or happy?”
Elle narrowed her eyes precisely that it sounded unfair. “That would be cheating. You’ve promised to read it by yourself.”
“I’d like to know, but that’s okay if you don’t want to tell me.”
There was a minute of hesitation on this angel’s mind. Elle started smiling in a mysterious feeling again as they sat oppositely, facing each other’s eyes.
“There’s the thing that I want you to know instead about the ending.”
She annoyed. “Can you stop acting like everything is mysterious?”
“Ah, really?” She asked in return. “Anything involving mystery is fun. You should give it a try. Never underestimate anything if you’re not seeing things objectively.”
“Objective or subjective, it is depend on the topic,” Cathy said.
“You’re not one of the people in close-minded category, right?” Elle giggled assuredly. “Therefore, objective is more proper as a good perspective.”
“Subjective seems like seeing a canvas through a tiny glass vase. Of course, sorry,” she shook her head as she realized how wrong to think that way without having the right perspective.
The sound of the ticking clock was in the air while they still sat oppositely on the bed.
Suddenly, Elle thrust her hand to her as she asked for her braveness, “Are you ready to see the truth behind the gate?”
Cathy baffled. “What?”
“You’ll never forget it,” Elle assured her.
Once they held each other’s hands, the view of this room dissolved, it felt like they were being absorbed into another surrounding, which was white, pure, and strange.
Cathy felt dizzy, as if her soul floated into a huge corridor, until she felt the cold sensation of the air was swirling on her cheeks. Once she opened her eyes, the winter ground already seen there among the trees in the forest, and then the view dissolved again, into the dark now.
Cathy was enduring the flying dusts that got into her eyes, she remembered this sensation resembled the time when she saw the princess’s past live on her mind.
The vision went blurry sometimes. The whole space was dark, there was a few of huge pillars, which was all looked magnificent as if she was travelling to the oldest place in the world.
For a second, her soul’s barrier went flimsy when she reached to the midst of this long corridor. She got stopped in front of the strange double door, or it could be the gate that the angel had told her before. Random flower patterns engraved on each side of the gate, which felt rough when it was touched.
Cathy was about to hold the rounded knob, but she noticed that the Sapphire stone was already hung inside the knob that had a special template to put the stone as the key to enter the gate.
When the gate opened slowly, the bright light emerged from behind, striking into her eyes. Soon after, she was dumbfounded by the sublime scenery, where the winter ground was literally seen there with the falling snowflakes, and the trees from afar were part of the wild forest. The ambience had captured the eternal tranquility. Strangely, there was no sign of life, neither human nor animal.
Her vision vanished as soon as Elle pulled off her grip, and they exchanged stare. Afterward, Cathy felt her stomach got the tingling sensation that she couldn’t bear not to giggle. It might be the effect of feeling floating into a strange dimension.
“That’s how you will feel if you see the place,” Elle said.
Cathy flickered to know the sensation, that it was Caecus realm. “I think I understand why anyone won’t forget the scenery. It’s tingling in your throat and down to your lungs, obsessive compulsion.”
Elle snapped her fingers lightly to resuscitate her from falling into a deep reverie, and thus, Cathy breathed deeply, and giggling. “Sorry, I feel like I’m getting absorbed into it.”
“Actually, the unseen world isn’t that different from human. You see.”
“I don’t know but, it feels like I’ve been there before,” Cathy murmured, recalling her memory hardly.
“Like a flashback?” Elle asked.
“Probably in a few months of… well, I don’t know,” the words stopped as soon as she realized what she was about to say. She wanted to mention about her haunting dreams, the certainty of absurdities to prevail what was beneath her mind, especially when the strange same figure that stood in the ravine stone had appeared in front of her eyes. She almost believed this angel was the same person as the one in her dreams.
She thought sentimentally, Why wouldn’t she say anything if she was the one who came in my dreams?
“Dubiousness is buried under a pristine illusion, if only you could survive such a mindless havoc of your own thought, enlightenment would come easier to find you,” Elle spoke her wisdom.
Cathy was quiet, baffling alone whether what she said was just an assumption or an answer to her unspoken thought.
A knock on the door had disturbed them. It was Carl Dalton, informing that two guests had waited for Cathy in the terrace. She was surely baffled since there shouldn’t be anyone who would know her in this house. It was odd.
Her heart pounded faster as she walked downstairs.
Carl Dalton was stroking her shoulder to calm her before he opened the door, and said, “They don’t seem like the police. Don’t worry, dear.”
As soon as she walked out the door, it didn’t take so long to recognize who the guests were. The two boys stood waiting for her—Josh Kingsley and Scott Herron.
“Cathy, don’t you have any idea how worried am I?” Josh asked with his glimmering eyes almost in tears.
Her eyes were wide-opened surprisingly as he hugged her excitedly. “Please, I can’t breathe!” She yelled out. “How did you guys knew I’m here?”
“Elle told us by phone yesterday,” Scott said. He looked worried just like him, but he didn’t dare to hug her like that.
“How did you make it to come here?” She crossed arms while asking, and her tone sounded harsh toward them. “Don’t tell me that you two are skipping school just to visit me here, because tonight I’ll be going home, so this is useless.”
“Cathy, you should be grateful that your friends are worried about you so much,” Carl Dalton admonished her, since he knew the grief feeling and living alone without anyone had ever worried for him.
Altogether, she sighed and stared down at his wrinkled forehead. At that second, she pitied him. She patted his shoulder gently, apologizing, “I’m sorry, I just—”
He stared back at her eyes while the boys still stood waiting in front of them.
Cathy lost in words, because she didn’t know how to describe her feeling properly. “I don’t want anyone to suffer because of me,” she blinked repeatedly, and glanced at the boys. “Haven’t my dad told you that I’ll go to school like usual tomorrow, on Monday?”
“Your dad didn’t say anything when we met him in the hospital. He looked, well, pissed off,” Josh was being honest.
“Maybe because your mom’s condition has been unstable since the day you left Bisbee. She’s in coma now,” Scott added.
Carl Dalton seemed to know nothing in the first place, he baffled alone, “What happened to Haile?”
Thus, Cathy stared hesitantly at him before explaining. “She went coma because of demons, some kind of animal attack.”
“May God deliver angels around her,” he murmured. “I’m shock of this sudden information, why haven’t you told me?”
“I was about to tell you,” she sighed “—but it would be complicated, and you haven’t told me about further story of the Aloise family, and how’s the journal can be concluded then?”
“My dear, it’s the family matters that I don’t have the right to tell you by myself, but it’s also not a good time if you wanted to visit them, even though their place isn’t that far from here.”
She gawked. “Are you just telling me that their castle is in Lower Austria?”
“Not a castle, but an old chapel,” he half smiled. “The place was used to become the Francesca’s castle, she was Princess Kathleen’s younger sister. But now, it’s only a shelter for the rest of the descendants.”
Cathy felt as if her heart was gnawed bitterly by this complicated moment. Her eyes wandered at the boys again. “Are you two came here just to drag me home?”
Just at the right time, Elle walked out steadily from the house, and shouted. “I called them to do something important.”
“For what?” Cathy was bewildered after she was truly assured that Elle was really the one who called the boys to come here.
Elle always appeared inscrutably, just like in this moment, “You’ll see later.”
At the finest superb penthouse in Vienna, a huge living room was built with a very comfortable sofa, where two gentlemen were sitting down side by side with insecurity. They stared up at the woman in black suit, who had been walking back and forth in front of the glass window. Her black heels were making a noisy sound on the brown carpet.
“If I say find her, you will find her for me!” Chantel yelled at their faces, she felt a tremendous rage.
She bulged out at the handsome young man, who wore a navy blue pinstripe suit, and beside him was a corpulent man dressed all black and had a bowler hat.
The handsome one rose from the sofa immediately. He approached her a little closer as he wanted to speak up, but his voice got trembling, “You don’t understand, that little girl is being guarded under the angel’s protection.”
The other man added “—or an archangel that one. She’s different from any angels we met before.”
His hazelnut eyes bulged out warningly at him, as a code to stay silent. Afterward, he faced his honorable queen again. “It’s almost impossible for our kind to survive this. One angel could kill hundred or perhaps thousands of demon at a time.”
Chantel had been crossing arms for the past half hour, and now she stared blankly at the wide window where the perfect view of cotton candy clouds seen hanging in the blue sky.
The two gentlemen still waited boringly behind her. They waited for her further demand.
“You don’t know one thing,” she finally spoke “—make her tired, so that will make her lose so much energy.”
When both of them noticed that she was smirking devilishly, they finally had enough courage to chuckle along with her. The handsome one—Richard admired her idea, “You’re brilliant.”