Appearances Can Be Deceiving
“Where is the commander?” a low and raspy voice asked from behind the darkness of the cell.
Andy was trapped inside what looked to be a glass box. The corners were made of silver and he had salt at his feet. He didn’t understand how that worked, since he wasn’t a demon or a werewolf.
The glass, however, was keeping him in. No matter how much he tried, he couldn’t get through it.
“I’ll ask again. Where is the commander?”
Andy wanted to see his kidnapper, not only hear some low voice threaten him.
“You already know where she is. One of you already met her. He had the chance to kill her, but he didn’t,” the ghost spat.
The ghost heard someone laugh amusedly and turned towards him.
“Why would I want to kill her? It’s too soon,” a familiar voice answered, coming into the light.
“Hans. What a surprise.” Andy wasn’t surprised at all. “You can’t kill her. They won’t allow it.”
“I don’t want to kill her yet. She has to lead me to the inheritor. He is the real threat. You don’t know what her role is, but I do. She keeps a balance between demons. As long as she’s alive, demons won’t dare pass to Earth,” Hans clarified.
“Then leave her alone. Go search for the inheritor on your own.”
The older man clicked his tongue and touched the glass.
“I can’t do that. She is precious, Andrew. She is the only person who can identify the inheritor. These—” He pointed to his eyes. “—are very precious. Without a demon’s eye, you can’t see how evil looks.” He smiled and tilted his head to the side before he continued. “She will tell me everything I want to know.”
“I doubt she knows anything,” the ghost mumbled, crossing his arms against his chest.
Hans raised an eyebrow and leaned in. “You have no idea how much she knows.”
She didn’t know anything. From what Andy knew, she hardly opened a book about demons. Everything for her webtoon was taken from her experiences and the Internet.
“It’s raining,” she stated.
Zoe moved an armchair next to the window and sat there. She was holding onto her knees tightly while swaying back and forth.
“I remarked that much.” Eneizar brushed it off rather quickly, using the tone of an asshole, like always.
He recently found out what a video game was and was playing it all the time.
“It’s been one week since I came back. Where’s Andy?”
Eneizar was the only entity in the apartment except her. Ezekiel was in school and Iaosur was following him, since they were still connected. Rowan went to see a friend and ask for supplies—she didn’t want to know what those supplies were for. Mehrdir hasn’t shown his face at all since she came back.
“I have a better question. Why don’t you ask your fairies to sneak around and look for him?”
“I did. They haven’t seen Andy anywhere.”
“Then he’s been kidnapped.” She threw a pillow at his head, making him drop the console and lose his game. Eneizar turned to her and glared. “You made me lose!”
“Are you a demon are are you a child?” She scolded him.
Eneizar pouted at the game and sighed dramatically. He really liked that game even if he was on the verge of losing anyway, but her interference made him lose with more points than he wanted. Seeing as it was her fault, his head snapped towards her and narrowed his eyes, thinking of a way to pay her back. He appeared behind her and leaned over her shoulder with newfound evilness.
“Would you prefer Mehrdir in my place?” he teased. “That demon is so obsessed with the commander that he changed his master, you know. He wanted to meet you so, so—”
He stopped suddenly and disappeared. She glanced over her shoulder and saw a pair of dark eyes.
“Is that true? Are you obsessed with the commander? No matter whom he is?” she asked.
The greed demon glared at the place Eneizar occupied a few seconds earlier, knowing exactly why Eneizar suddenly vanished. Merhdir ran a hand through his hair and walked closer to her.
“On how much ruckus he creates in Hell. And believe me, you created a lot. I got curious and became faithful to Beelzebub.”
She didn’t know how to react, so she opted for a blank face.
“Mammon wasn’t happy. Luckily, Iaosur took my place,” he added, suddenly finding his nails very interesting.
“I had a different guardian before you. Is that why you kissed Beelzebub’s ass? To make yourself my guardian?”
The demon glared at her and scoffed. “I didn’t kiss his ass. Hiset had begun to care for you, so he backed down. I was his replacement.”
She leaned back and looked straight into his eyes.
“Why did you ask Eneizar to take your place for a while?”
Mehrdir blinked. He didn’t have a clear reason for that.
“I've had some businesses to attend to.” All right, maybe that wasn’t a good reason. “I—” He was squirming in his own skin, but admitting his feelings for her was an atrocity.
“You what?” She was pushing it but only because she was curious and wanted him to break one rule, for her.
“I was only trying to protect my investment.”
That was a bad comeback and he knew it. She got up and stared at him for a few minutes before she started to laugh.
“How old do you think I am? Did you actually believe that I would never be interested in what happens to me?” Zoe hissed. “I ran away because I knew someone around me was keeping me in the dark. Once Eneizar and Iaosur appeared, they started to push me towards knowledge. Once Ezekiel appeared, he started to ask questions and doubt what I knew. That was the moment I realised that you never told me anything. You never encouraged me and you never acted like a true guardian. Beelzebub wants me to know. You don’t.” Her tone was so cold and the look in her eyes sent a chill down his spine. Once her orbs became yellow, he realised she was serious.
“I did my job. I protected you. I did my job,” he said through gritted teeth.
Zoe was growing mad and the atmosphere in the apartment was darkening. Having two demons annoyed was bad. Having the commander and a high-level greed demon annoyed was life threatening.
“Then do your freaking job now and tell me everything!” She was finally showing her true nature.
Dark mist entered the room and the doors to the balcony opened. Her whole body was burning with a new sensation that may or may not be good news for Mehrdir. Besides, the apartment smelled of dioxide, making it hard to breathe.
“Why do you want to know so badly? I didn’t hide anything from you. I just avoided talking about it.” He spoke like it wasn’t a big deal.
Zoe glared at him. In her ears, it sounded like he was looking down on her.
“If you are so obsessed with the commander, you should know everything about him. You should know everything about your master, too. Why don’t you tell me how you found me?”
“Didn’t I tell you before? You created a big ruckus and demons were talking.”
She tilted her head to the side and bit her lip.
“When did you find me?” she corrected herself. “Was it before or after you became my guardian?”
He looked to the side. That only intensified the wind and the smell became stronger.
“Hey! Why is there a huge black cloud above your apartment building?”
Chen was there to get Zoe out since she’d been inside for a whole week. When he opened the front door, he didn’t expect to see two dogs snarling at each other.
“Never mind.” He closed the door silently and backed off. Once he got outside, he turned to look at the sky. He grabbed his phone and called his friend. “Zek? I think you have to come home. As soon as possible.”
Inside the apartment, the two demons were still at it.
“Well? You didn’t respond to me.”
“Before,” he whispered. “They knew it from the moment you were born. I found you when you were a kid.”
Suddenly, something clicked in her mind.
“When I was in middle school, there was a demon that used to follow me and get me in trouble. I had to change a few schools because people thought I was nothing but a rich girl looking for attention.”
“Was that you?”
He raised an eyebrow and smirked tauntingly. “What if it was?”
She could feel fire in her hands; no, she was fuming already. He was teasing her when it wasn’t his place to talk. Her eyes hardened and a gust of wind pushed Mehrdir against the wall.
“Why? Why did you come to me when there have been so many commanders before me?”
She walked to him and stared into his eyes. The pressure of the wind was keeping him there, immobilised.
“Because I am a demon, in case you forgot. That’s what demons do. Besides, you were squirming so beautifully. I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to!” Mehrdir reasoned—or at least tried to.
Her expression relaxed and she took a step back. The wind disappeared and the clouds above faded away; everything came back to normal and the smell vanished.
“It’s payback time.” She smiled sardonically and touched his forehead.
“No. You can’t send me back. If you do, I may not be able to come back!” he screamed, his eyes wide and scared.
She tilted her head to the side and caressed his cheek softly, enjoying the way he looked so pitiful in the face of exile—just like a human facing death.
“Is there any reason for you to come back? You have already done enough.” She leaned in and inspected his face. He wasn’t special and he wasn’t deadly handsome. Then what was he?
“I have every right to come back. I am a high—”
Zoe leaned closer to his lips and barely touched them with hers.
“I don’t care. Give me one reason why I shouldn’t send you back.”
Mehrdir looked down into her eyes and felt like something in him was going to break.
“You.” She tried to keep a straight face while hearing him say that. “I—” He stopped and thought over what he was doing before continuing. “I have feelings for you.”
The smile that spread on her lips was big and happy. He remained dumbstruck when the mood suddenly changed and her eyes went back to normal.
“Now, was it that hard to admit?”
She was standing there, in front of him, with such a smug expression.
Mehrdir narrowed his eyes when he realised what she had done. “I hate you.”
He didn’t have to breathe because he was already dead, but it felt like he needed it.
“Do you now?” She was enjoying every second of his pain.
While she was chuckling to herself, he thought about a way to turn the tables in his favour. He did the only thing that seemed to have a big effect on her: a kiss. Mehrdir pulled her by the waist and kissed her hungrily. It was different from the first time; it felt needy. He needed her to keep himself sane. It was unbelievable how much his obsession changed into human emotions. He was sick of them, but he didn’t want them to go away either. Mehrdir was hurting himself by feeling.
They stopped when her phone vibrated in her pocket. She pushed him away a little and licked her lips before responding.
“Y-Yes?” She tried to keep a steady voice while Mehrdir started to trail kisses down her neck.
“It’s Hans! Remember me?”
“Yes, I do. I wasn’t gone for that long a time.”
He laughed and coughed. “Anyway, let’s meet and have a chat. It’s been a year since we last talked and even then, you were always around your boyfriend.”
Mehrdir scoffed. Her heart started to beat faster and she could feel her cheeks getting red.
“We have so much to catch up on, Zoe.” His voices sounded different, somehow.
“What do you mean?”
Hans chuckled. That simple sound stopped Mehrdir from messing around and become serious.
“I’ve heard that sound before.”
Her eyes were losing that happy and amused glint slowly. He could feel her tense in his arms and only squeezed her waist, kindly.
“Remember you friend, Andrew?” Hans started. “Coincidentally, he was my former classmate. I have him locked somewhere safe, where he can’t escape.” She was too surprised to say something so he continued. “I take it I have your full attention?”
Mehrdir frowned, hearing Hans’s voice clearly from where he was eavesdropping. Once the demon realised where he’d heard the voice before, he took a step back and disappeared.
“Where is Andy?” she asked in a cold and authoritarian tone. It sounded more like she was giving him an order, actually.
“No. Not yet, sorry. We have so much in common, Zoe. You just don’t see it yet. But that’s not a problem. I will make sure you will see exactly what I see and vice versa.” He took a deep breath and she swore he whispered something to someone before he returned to the conversation. “Tomorrow morning, at your beloved coffee shop. Bye, bye.” He hung up and turned to the ghost.
Andy was judging Hans with every dark fibre of his being.
“She won’t fall for your lies.”
Hans raised an eyebrow and took a few steps towards him, placing the cell phone in his jacket.
“Who said anything about lying? I genuinely can’t wait to look into her demon eyes and catch a glint of Hell.” He sounded very excited but in a dark, demented way.
“What are you going to do?”
Zoe didn’t say a word about Hans to the humans. Actually, Mehrdir was the only one who knew.
After her conversation with the suspicious musician, she locked herself in her room. She drew something on the door that kept him and other demons out.
Mehrdir chuckled when he realised just how much she’d learned in a year. He had held her back for almost three years, but she’d learned it anyway in only one.
When she came out, she acted like nothing happened. She didn’t tell Ezekiel about Hans and Rowan proved to be a good distraction with his incoming supplies.
“What is this?” Chen was curious and grabbed one thing from the box. It was a white crystal in the shape of a heart.
“Don’t touch it!” Rowan ran to Chen and snatched the crystal from his hands. The younger human rolled his eyes and searched through another box.
“Then, what is this?” He took out something that looked like a music box. Rowan sighed and snatched it from his hands. “Oh, what is that?” Chen pointed at a big book that looked like it was barely holding up.
“That’s a book. Haven’t seen one before in your life, huh?”
The human glared at Iaosur and his smartass comment. The devilish human was a true competitor for the angst demon; instead of getting mad, he was getting playful.
“I’m surprised you had seen one before, truthfully,” the human shot back. Iaosur narrowed his eyes at the human and scoffed.
“Can you believe this guy? I’m an angst demon, human. I’m Iaosur, working under Mammon. I’m high level—” Chen rolled his eyes and saw something from the corner of his eye. It was a handkerchief, but it had something written on it. He took it and threw it at Iaosur’s head. “—you can’t even imagine how many people I—”
The demon stopped when the hankie fell on his face. His eyes widened and he screamed.
Rowan chuckled and watched the demon that destroyed his thug life squirm. When he finally got the hankie off his face and threw it aside, he glared at Chen. Surprisingly, the demon’s face was burnt.
“That hurt, you prick! Do you want to experience a near-death condition?”
Chen raised an eyebrow and glanced at Ezekiel. His best friend was standing aside with Eneizar, watching amusedly as the scene was unfolding in front of their eyes.
“No one will possess anyone. Iaosur, you’re still bound to Ezekiel.” The two males scoffed. “The point is, you can’t hurt Chen because Ezekiel would never allow it,” Zoe explained, happy that Iaosur was connected to Ezekiel in such moments.
On the other hand, the angst demon glared at everyone and turned his back on them.
“Just like a fussy girl,” Eneizar remarked.
Ezekiel turned to the pride demon and blinked. “You became a human from so many points.”
Eneizar had a moment of spacing out before he shrugged. He did spend a little too much time with humans lately but he had found some awesome stuff, like video games and something called a guitar. He didn’t know how that worked but it was fun and challenging. Eneizar loved fun and challenging.
When the door to Zoe’s room opened, everyone shut up. They all turned their heads that way and waited for her to come out and explain something. She only took a few steps in the living room when she noticed the silence.
Iaosur blinked; Ezekiel frowned; Rowan rolled his eyes and went back to look through the boxes and Chen found something else that was shining.
“What is this?” he asked Rowan. The former thug narrowed his eyes at the human and gave up.
Zoe walked inside the kitchen and closed the door behind her. Mehrdir was already there and it seemed he’d found something interesting called tea. He already knew about it, but he had never tried it before.
“What are you going to do?”
She sat down and dropped her head on the table. Mehrdir blinked and raised his pinkie, like he had seen in a drama on TV.
“That’s a very lame response.” He walked towards her and placed the second cup of tea in front of her.
Mehrdir frowned and leaned towards her, curious. “What?”
She raised her head and narrowed her eyes at him.
“I’m going to fight.” He tilted his head to the side and watched her silently as she was starting her speech. “I’m going to meet him tomorrow morning and have a chat, like he wants. He will tell me where Andy is or he won’t get what he wants.”
“He wants you dead,” Mehrdir added quickly.
“He had a lot of opportunities while we were in Japan. He doesn’t want to kill me, because he knows my life's worth something right now.”
Mehrdir nodded and sat down. “That’s true. You have to close down the hole or the higher demons will start doing whatever they want and enter Earth. That would cause a revolution in Hell, and we don’t need that but they want the inheritor dead. You can’t give them the inheritor.”
Mehrdir glared at her and got up. He hovered over her with quite an imposing aura.
“If the prophecy doesn’t happen accordingly, everything will be off balance and we will enter a war between worlds.”
She bit her lip and leaned her head on her right hand.
“But if the inheritor takes his rightful place and the commander does too, then Earth is doomed.”
Mehrdir didn’t seem to care at all. He shrugged like it was nothing.
“It’s a small price for—”
She punched him in the ribs and made him shut up. It actually hurt a bit and he spilled some tea on himself.
“It’s not a small price at all!”
She got up and hurried out of there. He rubbed his chin and leaned against the table.
“Such a violent human,” he mumbled while massaging his side.
However, he couldn’t help but smirk.