That night, Zoe locked herself in her room again and drew. She drew the demons around her and everything she saw while training. She drew almost fifteen pages in one night and she was still up for more in the morning; she drew the moment she met Mehrdir and the day she met Andy. It was quite intense and she knew it, but it was the only way she knew how to express her feelings.
When the sun rose in the sky, she was on her bed, thinking about what she was going to do. She flinched when her phone rang. She looked at the caller ID and prepared herself mentally.
“Yes, Mum?” She didn’t need her mother to piss her off when she was trying to be all Zen.
“You haven’t come home in a while. I know you’re busy, but I’d like to see you, sweetheart.”
Zoe closed her eyes and leaned her head back.
“This is not a good time. I have a very important patient and I have to take care of him.” She heard her mother sigh in disappointment.
“But Zoe, I miss you and I’m worried.”
Zoe looked at the clock and realised it was almost time to go and meet Hans. She got up and grabbed a few things from the drawer, things she got as presents after she finished her training. It wasn’t anything big: only a small dagger that had demon inscriptions on the blade, and a small black diamond.
“I’m the only one that can help him, Mum. You don’t have to worry. Everything is going to be all right.”
She hung up before her mother could say something. Zoe threw the phone on the bed and sneaked out of the apartment.
The demons were all sitting on the couch, doing nothing. Rowan and Ezekiel were sleeping on the ground but the demons were too excited to leave.
“We can’t go after her. She has the diamond,” Eneizar stated.
Mehrdir sighed and leaned his head against the arm of the couch.
“She has the dagger, as well. What do you think she’s planning to do?”
Iaosur was very curious. No, that was still an understatement. He was dying to find out what she was going to do and could barely hold his excitement in.
“Well, whether she dies or not, she will get to Hell. If that happens, we’ll have a lot of work to do.”
Mehrdir and Iaosur looked at Eneizar with the same expression: one eyebrow raised and a scowl on their handsome faces.
“Aren’t you so wise?” Iaosur’s ironic answer made the pride demon glare at him. Eneizar scoffed and left, Iaosur’s eyes turning to Mehrdir. “Aren’t you worried, lover boy?”
The greed demon shrugged.
Hans was peacefully drinking his coffee when he felt a sudden dark energy coming through the door. He opened his eyes and smiled at the person who sat opposite him.
“Good morning, Zoe.”
She raised an eyebrow and stared at him.
“What’s so good about it?” she muttered, throwing him a nasty look.
The human chuckled and placed the cup down.
“I came here for a reason,” she started firmly, getting straight to business.
“Of course you did. You came here for your friend.”
Her face was the definition of nothing. Hans wasn’t sure what was going through her head in that moment.
“Andrew is a smart ghost, isn’t he? He didn’t squirm in his little cage, but he didn’t show his pain either; must have learned from the same person you did,” Hans continued, taunting her yet not getting any reaction.
Without Zoe reacting, it wasn’t as fun as Hans had predicted. Well, that only meant he had to force it a little.
“I’m planning to send him to Hell.”
That definitely snatched a quick glare from her.
“That’s not your choice to make.”
He raised an eyebrow and smirked. “Isn’t it? I’m pretty sure there is a spell that lets me send unfortunate souls connected to Earth back where they belong.”
“He doesn’t belong in Hell. Besides, he is not connected to Earth either.”
“No. He’s connected to you. He was sent to you, much like every familiar and demon in your neighbourhood, but that’s not exactly what I’m after.”
“You’re after the inheritor.”
He shook his head and wagged his finger in front of her, animating the atmosphere a little.
“Actually, the inheritors. One is the inheritor of Beelzebub and one is the inheritor of the Devil. One gets to be a prince and one gets to be the king.”
He even used his hands as ponders of a balance, explaining who was higher and who was lower. She could feel herself getting dizzy with all those details. Besides, something in her was squirming. Zoe closed her eyes and gripped the side of the table when she felt a sudden wave of adrenaline rush through her.
Hans noticed the struggle and how tight she suddenly grasped the table. “Don’t keep it in, Zoe. I want to see the eyes of evil. I want to see the commander.”
Much to his discontent, she didn’t open her eyes.
Hans leaned over the table and touched her hand. He froze when he felt the mix of energies in her; the inner battle that was going on between a human and a demon.
She threw his arm aside and opened her eyes. Luckily, they were in the back and no one could see her; no one could see the mesmerising yellow orbs. Her features were sharper and she did look different. She wasn’t a monster on the outside, but she was definitely a monster on the inside.
“Are you happy now?” The woman growled.
Hans nodded eagerly, at a loss of words and leaned closer, looking deeply into her eyes. He swore he heard screams of anguish. Those were the yells of the unfortunate souls who knew nothing but pain and were suffering for their entire existence.
“You are still not entirely devoted to Hell, are you?” He asked seriously as he leaned back.
The yellow in her eyes faded away. It was weird to see it change in front of your eyes. The yellow just got absorbed in her orb and disappeared.
“Return Andy to me,” she ordered, just like a commander.
Hans raised an eyebrow and chuckled, comparing the Zoe he met in the airplane with the demon he was looking at right now; it was such a big difference in such a short time.
“No,” he responded simply, leaning back in his chair. “You have to do something for me first,” he continued before asking for the cheque.
“I’m not going to look for the inheritor only because the Holy Brotherhood wants me to,” she hissed, leaning over the table.
Hans’s glint of amusement vanished. His eyebrows furrowed and his eyes took on a different glint.
“You’re going to do it, or I will send every entity we caught to Hell. Some of them already know how that feels, but for some it will be too much.”
She frowned but never once lost eye contact with him. He could see her chest rising with each furious breath and he couldn't help but feel pleased.
“Don’t make me mad, Hans. The Holy Brotherhood is not powerful enough to face real demons.”
The human looked at her incredulously and started to laugh.
“Okay, you’re funny. That got me.” Hans laughed for a few minutes before his expression changed to one that could send a chill down anyone’s spine. He caught her hand and pulled her closer. “You know nothing about the Holy Brotherhood, and you know nothing about me. I never said I was part of that cult, did I?” he whispered with venom, but had to let her free when the cheque came.
Her eyes widened and froze for a moment.
“Then what are you? A demon?”
Hans hissed and for a moment she felt something touch her legs. He chuckled and sniffed her hair. That was weird, even for her.
“Do you know who created the hole to Hell, Zoe?” His voice sounded different. It was higher somehow. “We did. The Hunters.”
She blinked quickly and pulled her hand back. “What are the Hunters?”
His eyes inspected her closely before grabbing his jacket and getting up. “Let’s take a walk, shall we?”
She followed him outside the district. Actually, it was outside of London, somewhere in the suburbs. It was silent and empty.
“What are you?”
Hans turned to her and blinked. “I am human. Do you know the story of the Lost Boys?”
“Peter Pan?” She asked sceptically.
“Every story has some truth at its core. Neverland was never a fairy tale place and Peter Pan was never a kid with a pure heart.” He frowned while thinking of it. “Neverland is the place where Asmodeus tortures the half souls—people who are in coma or are barely living thanks to the special equipment in hospitals. You call it Purgatory; the World between Worlds. We call it home.”
“But that’s—no one has ever heard of it.”
“That’s because not many get out of there. Souls that have no place in Heaven or Hell go to Neverland. But Purgatory itself is bigger than that.”
She looked down at her hands and fidgeted. “And Asmodeus is in charge of it.”
“Asmodeus is in charge of the wild part. Leviathan is in charge of the rest. I come from a long line of Hunters. My father didn’t want me to get involved and wanted to put an end to it but that was impossible. I met another hunter and he welcomed me to this world.” Hans spoke with a tint of melancholy.
“What’s with the Lost Boys?” she asked curiously.
He stopped and pulled up his shirt. She could see a thin line along his stomach.
“I had this, too,” she said, pointing at the cut. Hans raised an eyebrow and waited for her to continue. “In Japan, someone attacked me and cut a thin line along my stomach.”
“Hunters have only one reason to live: they do what Asmodeus orders them to. If they don’t, they go back to Neverland.”
It was still a lot to take in, even for her.
“And what’s the sole reason of your existence?” She was genuinely curious, but it came out more sarcastic than she wanted.
“Killing the inheritor.”
She blinked in astonishment. “But if he dies, he goes to Hell. Besides, he is the inheritor. Asmodeus doesn’t have any power over him.”
Hans placed a hand on her shoulder and smiled. “Not if he is innocent. Then, he goes to Heaven. If you don’t do anything evil in your life, then you pretty much don’t end up down there.”
“But if he dies and doesn’t go to Hell, the prophecy won’t be fulfilled. The demons will rebel and will come here,” she combated, but Hans shrugged.
“I don’t want a one-way trip to Neverland, Zoe.”
She scoffed, narrowing her eyes at Hans. “I don’t want a revolution. Not there and not here. I will close the hole and you won’t touch the inheritor.”
“Then what will happen to Andy? Should I send him to Neverland as a sacrifice?”
She glared at him and grabbed him by the neck. “I’m not going to give you the inheritor and I’m not going to let you send my familiars and demons anywhere.”
“Is that a threat?”
She pushed him aside and walked back the way she came. Hans rubbed his neck and chuckled.
“Asmodeus or the Devil on Two Sticks. People who fall to Asmodeus’s ways will be sentenced to an eternity in the second level of Hell. That’s pretty much Neverland. It’s not exactly Purgatory. I think he got the two mixed up so he could feel better about himself.” Eneizar’s explanation wasn’t exactly what had Zoe expected.
After she came home, she told Eneizar to follow her in the kitchen—only Eneizar.
“Then who are the Lost Boys?”
He hummed and rubbed his neck. “There is an old story about a few humans who tried to get into Hell. They only wanted to catch a glimpse of how it looks, but human curiosity can lead to trouble and that’s exactly what happened. Asmodeus caught them and tortured them for a while. But the others caught him doing something to humans who didn’t sin. It was still His jurisdiction. They weren’t dead, so Asmodeus got imprisoned to a place created especially for him.”
That was indeed an interesting and old story.
“But he got out.”
Eneizar nodded. “He lured humans towards him and he used their broken souls to escape, yes. He is the lust prince. He can lure anyone. Those four men who entered Hell, they were called the Lost Boys. Asmodeus took revenge after they died and he locked them in his cell. They called it Neverland because that place doesn’t exist, theoretically speaking,”
She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. It was so complicated.
“And their inheritors ended up having the same fate as their ancestors,” she concluded, rubbing her temples. “Is it something that only these four bloodlines have to go through?”
The pride demon frowned.
“I’m not sure. But yes, it should only be these four families. They are connected to the Lost Boys by blood. They can’t escape Neverland, no matter how much they try while they’re alive.”
Suddenly, Eneizar realised what was going on. He found out why she was acting like that and asking so many things about the Hunters.
“So Andrew was kidnapped by Hunters?” he asked curiously.
“I’m starting to think that the Holy Brotherhood haven’t found me yet. But the Hunters did and they’re going to announce it to everyone if I don’t kill the inheritor.”
Eneizar moved in front of her and leaned in. “Then kill them,” he whispered. “All of them. Kill the hunters and send them to Asmodeus. He will be thankful.”
She stared blankly at Eneizar’s excited face before she pushed it back.
“No. I’m not going to send them to Neverland. No one deserves such a fate.”
Eneizar rolled his eyes before he wrapped an arm around her and pulled her closer. “You’re too soft, Zoe. That’s going to come around and bite you in the ass.”
Zoe looked at him, directly into his dark eyes, and Eneizar felt a chill go down his spine. He let her go before he turned his back on her and went in the living room.
“What are you doing?” Ezekiel asked warily, noticing her hiding something. “Where are you going dressed in black?” he continued the interrogation. “Eneizar already told us about Asmodeus.”
Ezekiel sighed and threw something to her. She furrowed her eyebrows in confusion at what she caught.
“This is a gun,” she stated. Ezekiel scoffed and glared at her.
“Not shit, Sherlock. It’s for your safety. You’re going to save your familiars, aren’t you?” She nodded slowly. “Keep your phone close. Rowan will give you a ride to that place and we’ll keep in touch. The demons will appear only if you need them.”
“Where are they, anyway?”
Ezekiel didn’t respond. Instead, he hugged her tightly.
“Don’t die, Zoe. We made a promise to each other.”
She felt herself blush furiously, wrapping her hands around him and gripping his shirt.
“I know. I’m not planning to break it anytime soon,” she mumbled into his chest.
Ezekiel smiled softly and kissed her forehead. It was a weird feeling mostly because it felt like family; like someone was finally accepting her with her baggage.
She walked out at midnight. Surprisingly, she met Luke in the hall. He was confused. When she walked past him, he felt something weird. He noticed something trailing after her. It was—
“Mist?” He looked after her but she already went down the stairs.
“Are you ready?” Rowan asked, patiently waiting for her in the car.
When she opened the door and got in the passenger seat, she had quite a serious expression on her face.
“Do you have a driver’s license?”
He narrowed his eyes at her and turned on the engine. “I don’t need one to justify my driving skills.”
Rowan smirked and pushed the acceleration hard. His life was about breaking rules, not following them, after all.