Zoe ended up in hospital, not dead but in a very bad condition. She cut really deep in her wrists and the wound in her side was horrifying but the worst was the cut on the back of her head which made her bleed a lot; she needed blood transfusions and surgeries. Overall, it was as bad as it looked.
Ezekiel called her parents and told them that she got stabbed and tortured by a fanatic that broke into her apartment. Her mother instantly remembered the mysterious patient that her daughter mentioned before and her first thought was to call the police but Ezekiel convinced her that the fan committed suicide soon after. Even if Mrs. Lestrade would go through all those formalities, there wouldn’t be any results.
Unlike what he expected, Zoe didn’t stay on as a ghost. She was in a coma and the chances for her to wake up were slim, or so the doctor said. Her parents were devastated but Ezekiel and Chen were waiting patiently for something to happen.
“She’s still asleep, isn’t she?”
Ezekiel went home for a few hours, mainly to change and take a shower, and came back. He couldn’t let her unprotected from her mother. If he learned something in the past months was that Mrs. Lestrade is far worse than any demon they have met and she is incredibly persistent.
“Yep,” Chen responded from his seat in the corner, across her bed.
They made themselves quite comfortable in her room. He and Chen were taking turns so they brought books and other things to get the time passing faster.
“I don’t know what’s going on, truthfully.” Ezekiel continued. “She should have woken up by now and I hoped at least Mehrdir will appear to tell us something, anything!”
Chen looked pitifully at his best friend before responding.
“Zek, it’s been 6 months. I’m sure if anything were to happen, it would have already. Mehrdir is gone too.”
The puppy human narrowed his eyes at Chen.
“She’s not dead!” Ezekiel snapped, taking Chen by surprise. “She’s not dead yet. She has to find the inheritor.”
Ezekiel really hoped he was right. He could still remember how awful that night was.
Zoe collapsed in the hall with so much blood around her that she could have saved a few lives. It was coming from everywhere.
Ezekiel was ready to call for an ambulance when he remembered where he was and what kind of situation he was in. The house was hiding in itself and would move as soon as an ambulance arrived. He had to think of an alternative and it wasn’t looking like he had a better way than grabbing her bridal style and taking her to the closest hospital.
In the end, Ezekiel broke a lot of rules. With only the image of what he had seen at others and no clear idea how to drive, he turned on the engine and went to the hospital. Luckily, the streets were empty and he didn’t meet any police officer.
The nurses grabbed her out of his arms as soon as they saw her. She was in a horrible state. The doctor rushed to her and got her into surgery.
“You’re really pissing me off right now,” Ezekiel started when he noticed Mehrdir has appeared suddenly on the bench.
“Because I didn’t help you carry her?” The demon asked nonchalantly, “You did fine by yourself.”
Ezekiel scoffed loudly. He couldn’t be bothered with people hearing and watching him, he just wanted to make himself clear.
“Are you stupid? She’s in such a bad state that she might even die!”
Mehrdir narrowed his eyes at the human who was raising his voice to someone of a higher rank than he was.
“She will be fine.” The greed demon said firmly.
“No, she won’t. The best thing right now is for her to open her eyes and we both know that won’t happen. What if she gets to Neverland? What if she seriously dies?”
Mehrdir ran a hand through his hair and sighed.
“So what? She’s the commander. She can easily waltz out of there and even have tea with Asmodeus.”
Ezekiel glared at him and tried to punch him. Unfortunately, his form was ghostly so Ezekiel stumbled when his hand went right through Mehrdir’s face.
“Listen very closely, Ezekiel. Maybe it won’t be now, but she will die one day. You can’t change that.” He said and disappeared, leaving Ezekiel in a state of anger.
Fortunately, she didn’t die but she wasn’t alive either. Ezekiel had to confront her parents and tell them that no matter what, she was going to wake up. That was 6 months ago, though. His hopes were getting smaller and smaller.
The young guy turned around and smiled softly at the sight of Mark’s bright dinosaur face.
Mark returned the smile and ruffled Ezekiel’s hair in comfort. A few more people passed Ezekiel and walked straight to Zoe’s bed.
“So, how’s Sleeping Beauty? Still waiting for her prince to come and kiss her?” Gabriel asked as soon as he entered. “I think we should have Henry and Mark take turns. Maybe then we’ll finally find out who is Prince Charming.” Gabriel continued in a teasing manner getting a light hit from Alice before she walked to Ezekiel’s side.
“How is it? Did she move?” The response wasn’t positive so Alice grabbed Ezekiel’s hand and squeezed it before continuing, “I’m sure she will one day. We have to keep faith.”
“I think she’s been in this coma for a long time. If she doesn’t wake up soon she may not wake up at all.” Alice hit Gabriel again. “What? I’m only stating facts! I don’t want to see that happening either.” The boy added, his hands raising in surrender.
“She needs a miracle.” Mark started. “I wonder if there’s anything that could tell us where she is and if she’s in any pain.” The human wondered out loud.
Ezekiel glanced at Chen, a new sparkle brightening his eyes.
“You want to invoke a demon again?”
Ezekiel took a deep breath and nodded. They were at her apartment, in her bathroom more exactly.
“Last time, you asked for Hiset but you got Iaosur.” Chen stated in a sassy tone, making Ezekiel narrow his eyes at his friend.
“I’m not going to invoke anyone. I’m going to make a contract.” The puppy human answered.
“A pact with the devil, wonderful,” Chen repeated with irony.
Ezekiel grabbed Zoe’s dagger and put it next to the other things in front of him. He opened his worn out witchcraft book and enlightened the candles in the room, poured water in the bathtub and took a deep breath before getting his feet in.
Unlike in movies, once he cut his palm and let the blood cover the glass of a pocket mirror, he felt like he was going to die. His eyes widened and he felt his heart breaking in two.
While Ezekiel was doing dangerous stuff, Zoe was living her worst nightmare.
“Now that you left behind your body, you should think more about your title.”
Zoe looked up and down at the creature that approached her. She knew who he was because they have met briefly before but now was a whole different context and he didn’t seem as friendly as before.
Beelzebub looked to be an albino yet he had bright red hair and his eyes were the colour of autumn leaves. He looked very elegant and dignified in contrast to the clothes he wore: they were Victorian peasants clothing of an ugly brown and visibly patched several times, especially his jacket. She was unaware of how much judgment she was passing through her expression but Beelzebub didn’t seem to care as he stepped closer to her.
“You look decent compared to what I imagined,” she mumbled, realizing what she said only after the words were out.
“I can be your friendly neighbour or I can be your most frightful nightmare. That’s up to you.” The demon explained staring down at her, because he was at least one head taller.
“What do you mean by that?” She asked after registering the tone he used with her was not the same as before.
“Huh, your inheritor is blind Beelzebub. Maybe we should take off her eyes so she could see the world as we see it.”
The voice came from behind her and it came with a breeze around her ankles that felt like something was there, circling. It didn’t stop until the voice materialized into a man that passed her and went next to the ginger.
Zoe raised an eyebrow and looked at the newcomer with interest. He was not as tall as Beelzebub but he was definitely more careful about what he wore because he looked like a fashion enthusiast. Everything was brand new and yet his face and his grey hair made him look like he was a thousand years old (which he probably was). More exactly, this demon had a sculpted face with defined cheekbones and shiny skin, eyes incredibly dark and sharp chin. Zoe could have sworn he was cosplaying if she would have been in a different place.
“If I don’t have eyes, I can’t see anything.” She stated as matter-of-fact. He chuckled and hit Beelzebub’s shoulder lightly with bemusement.
“How cute~ You still don’t know how Hell works, pet. You can’t even recognize me.” He threw that nickname with such hatred as he also turned to her, his face shifting dangerously under her eyes. He only showed her a faint glimpse of the monster he was beneath but it was enough to have her step back in fear. “You do not talk so familiarly with the Prince of Lust, pet.”
Zoe’s eyes widened as she finally understood who he was but having Beelzebub near made her feel protected. There was no reason to accept bullying from Asmodeus, no matter how highly he believed himself to be, because she was the Commander and Beelzebub still needed her.
“Without eyes I can’t find the inheritor and I believe that’s what all of you expect me to do, isn’t that right?” she stung him with her words.
Asmodeus was surprised for a moment before he started to laugh and walked in front of her while Beelzebub watched silently from the side.
“Is that really what all of us want?” He leaned in and whispered. “Who needs the inheritor anyway? There are seven princes of Hell. None is more powerful than the other.”
“I beg to differ.” Someone new interfered.
Zoe was in a tight position and not only because she was being overwhelmed by their energies but because this new shadow was the worst of them all. It was so intense and so playful in the way it reached her, like a wave of suffocating darkness, and then retreated in order to let her calm down before repeating that over and over. Once he stepped into the dim light of this cave they were in, she got the chills.
“I am the Loved One. Without me, you are nothing but ash.” Lucifer told Asmodeus coldly before his eyes moved on her.
Zoe couldn’t move a finger under his gaze, which Beelzebub did not enjoy watching from the side. She could be witty with Asmodeus, say everything without having second thoughts, and yet once Lucifer came into the picture, she could hardly say a word.
Asmodeus glared at the higher prince but didn’t say anything else and Zoe was surprised to see him take a step back.
“Whatever,” Asmodeus muttered.
It was rather familiar now that she had all three of them in her sight. She couldn’t help but remember Iaosur and Eneizar and how the former would prefer to let the other take charge. Lucifer was staring at her as if he could eat her alive if he wanted to and nobody in the world would be able to interfere; it was strange how much fear she could feel standing in front of him. But Lucifer quite liked that, Beelzebub could see it in the way he was maneuvering his shadow to reach Zoe for enough time to give her a taste of his power and then give her the time to compare their energies.
“I didn’t expect you to come. I thought you said this is a waste of your time.” Beelzebub said far more relaxed than Asmodeus.
Lucifer was ready to answer when an entity that Zoe could hardly define barged in from the darkness behind her and literally threw himself at Beelzebub’s feet.
“Oh Master of Gluttony, Oh Beelzebub the Flying Devil, Oh-“
“Just get to the point already!” Lucifer shouted disliking how servile were the greed demons before one that was not even their master. Zoe flinched at the booming noise but the low demon looked up with tears in his eyes.
“T-there i-is a human t-that wants to make a deal with the devil.” The demon announced, growing firmer as he focused completely on Beelzebub.
“What seal did he use? What type of soul is he?” he asked and to Zoe’s bewilderment, the demon took out a file from God knows where. He gave it to the ginger and he read it slowly before he continued, “Ezekiel Addams wants a deal with the greed demon, Mammon.”
“What’s so special about him that you had to come he-“Asmodeus stopped his ranting when he noticed Zoe’s reaction. “I see…nepotism even in Hell.” He added jokingly.
“Don’t give him anything. I don’t know how this pact works but don’t,” Zoe pleaded with the ginger.
“It’s not me he wants the pact with, though. It’s Mammon.” Beelzebub explained, “His legions are small, he won’t give up this pact.”
“I will take care of it but you have to give me the inheritor in return.” Lucifer surprised everyone by snatching the file from Beelzebub and swaying it tauntingly under her eyes. “What say you, Zoe?”
She glared at the upper-class lord and scoffed.
“You’re blackmailing me.”
That attitude seemed to greatly amuse Lucifer.
“Then should I give this mediocre soul to the Prince of Greed? An eye for an eye, that’s how the saying goes, doesn’t it? You, humans, created it.”
“I made a promise and I don’t intend to break it. Isn’t there another way?” Zoe asked Beelzebub firmly but he only blinked and stared at her with no emotion whatsoever.
“Keep him aside. Who knows, maybe Zoe will choose who deserves to be saved.” Lucifer ordered with a smirk. The demon bowed and left. “You better not disappoint me. You don’t want to see me angry.” He hissed, his orbs disappearing into the back of his head, letting her look at empty sockets.
But Zoe was quite disappointed that Lucifer was taking the lead when Beelzebub should have done it. They were connected and she wished he was on her side rather than playing neutral.
After Asmodeus and Lucifer left, Beelzebub walked and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“I want you to do something for me before you return in your body.” He said as if she was supposed to accept whatever he was throwing at her.
“Why should I? You haven’t done anything for me yet. What will happen to Ezekiel?” she hissed, her eyes narrowing at the Prince of Gluttony.
“Nothing. He’s on the waiting list for now.”
“You’re all the same, aren’t you? Human lives can always wait a bit more. What’s a year or two next to infinity?” she hissed. Her reaction was not what Beelzebub expected from her and it annoyed him. She watched how he raised one of his pale arms and grabbed her harshly by her chin. His eyes were flaring with malice and she remembered that in the end, Beelzebub did not have any type of softness for her.
“Do not bite my hand, Zoe. I can end you with one touch and you won’t like spending time in Hell as a wandering soul.”
“What makes you believe I’ll end up down here? What if I go to Heaven?”
Beelzebub glared at her and let out a growl. Those blue eyes of hers and the defiance in them mixed with fear and worry made him remember it was his fault that she ended up like this. He underestimated her for a very long time and now it was coming around. Calming himself down, he let her go and took a step back.
“Where are my demons?” She changed the subject quickly. Beelzebub raised an eyebrow and started to laugh.
“You know what’s surprising? Your thug friend didn’t end up down here. His noble sacrifice lent him a ticket upstairs.” She was genuinely happy for Rowan which made him scoff, “Don’t show any positive emotions in Hell. It’s sickening.”
“I want to see the rest.”
Zoe looked up at him with hope sparkling in her eyes, making him sigh heavily.
“Go see them but remember my words. I’m not going to show you mercy if you don’t act accordingly.” The gluttony Prince threatened in a high-pitched yet monstrous voice.
The situation changed so much from before and she hated it.
Zoe walked out of the cave through a hollow that Beelzebub created and went down what looked to be an abandoned railway. She was jumping around, trying to find someone adequate but it was deserted.
“Well, well, well. If it isn’t Zoe,” A teasing voice quirked from the pile of corpses.
Zoe smiled happily and jumped over him. The angst demon froze since he had never been hugged so tightly before nor had he someone to express so much joy at seeing him.
“Ok, ok. I got it. Get off me.” He actually pushed her like she had the plague before continuing, “Were you looking for me? After all, I was exiled because of you. And that freaking prick didn’t get down here. Ha!” Iaosur scoffed, thinking just how much luck Rowan found while staying with Zoe.
The brunette rubbed the back of her head out of reflex, still feeling something uncomfortable there.
“Actually, I wanted to see all three of you.” She mumbled as they started walking in a random direction.
Iaosur raised an eyebrow and patted her head as what he had seen on television to be a comforting gesture.
“Let’s go see Eneizar then.”
She blinked as he turned her towards the right way, falling into a rhythm.
“He’s a pride demon, right? Where can he be?” She wondered out loud, linking her hands behind her back.
“Lucifer’s domain is wider than the continent of North America. Eneizar can be anywhere.” Iaosur explained, “We’re outdoors now, which is a terrible place for someone in your state. If I wasn’t here you’d be surrounded by millions of low demons and mixed Hellish creatures trying to eat you. Souls are placed in Purgatory until their judgment is done and then each falls into a category. Wandering souls end up eaten or altered…like in Bleach.” Iaosur added, suddenly remembering the cartoon he had watched a few years back with Rowan.
She tilted her head to the side in order to see him better and thought about something she had heard Lucifer mention.
“Can I have my own demons? Like, get my mark on them?”
Iaosur stopped abruptly, making her crash into his back. He glanced at her over his shoulder and smirked.
“Maybe. Why? Had a change of heart and need an army of your own?" He asked, raising his eyebrows up and down.
Iaosur laughed it off but deep down he knew his priorities changed.