“How are you feeling?”
They had to get out of there. They didn’t have anyone with a driver license so Chen risked; luckily he hadn't met any police officer on the way to her apartment and he's done quite a good job at driving.
Once arrived inside her apartment, he placed Ezekiel on the right side of the bed and Zoe on the left side. Thankfully, Gakhas and Iaosur appeared at the most opportune moment, helping carrying the victims.
Zoe was the first to wake up. The wound on her wrist did help warm her up; it was weird, mostly because the blood became black after she got colour in her cheeks.
“Zoe? Are you alright?””
Ever since she woke up, she became distant. She was looking at her hands with pity and would always trace the endless knot with her fingers.
“No.” She mumbled, closing her eyes and grabbing Ezekiel hand, “I’m a monster.”
“I don’t disagree,” She opened her eyes and narrowed them at the human, Chen laughing nervously before continuing his idea, “But you’re not a monster. You’re just a nicer demon.”
“For how long?”
That certainly took him off guard.
“I’ll find the inheritor and then? What will happen with me? I don’t want to run away,”
“Then don’t. Fight back but don’t lose yourself in the battle.”
The look she gave him was one of pure innocence. She was another victim even if she wasn't showing it.
“If I don’t protect the inheritor, there will be no battle. There will be war.” She whispered the last and most important word, “War.” She repeated.
Chen could feel his hand getting all sweaty. She knew how to scare him.
“Going to The Volunteer was a terrible idea,” He decided to change the subject, “Someone locked you in an old freezer and Ezekiel went through some kind of pain. Eneizar disappeared right before I found you,” That quirked her interest.
“Did he say anything weird before that?”
Chen thought carefully about that and shook his head.
“No. He was just being bossy. He told me to stay with Zek and he sent Iaosur to guard the place. He said he’ll look for you,” She frowned and got up, Chen following her with his eyes, confused, “Is that bad?”
“Eneizar is a vanity demon,” She trailed, leaning against the counter,“Vanity.” She repeated, drumming her fingers on the surface.
“Don’t let any vanity demon near him, not even Eneizar.”
“He was very specific with the names,” She mumbled, remembering Belphegor's threat.
Zoe sighed and rubbed her head before she left for the bathroom. She looked into the mirror and saw her reflection; her true reflection: her eyes, her sharp facial features, everything that was making her a demon; and then everything faded away. Instead of that demonic appearance was a normal girl.
“I can be a true demon if I want to.” She repeated those words she told Mehrdir.
They were true. She could just turn to 90 degrees and show him what she learned in Hell and in her training.
“Maybe another time.” She sighed and washed her face.
She wiped the water off and went back into the room. Luckily, Ezekiel was waking up and didn't seem to remember what happened in the pub.
“After what happened in the restaurant, you want to visit the Cane Hill Asylum?”
Iaosur was driving and he was very silent. It was rare for him to shut up for longer than 5 minutes and it's already been 30 minutes.
“Yes. There’s someone I want to talk to,”
Chen was exasperated.
“In an abandoned Asylum? Abandoned Asylum.” He repeated. “Abandoned is bad enough but abandoned asylum is the worst. Broken people lived there; both figural and literal broken people,” The human explained, emphasizing what he was thinking was important, “You want to invoke someone?”
She chuckled and shook her head. Chen spent a lot of time with Ezekiel already and Ezekiel was that kind of guy.
“No. He’s already there, waiting for me.”
Everyone was confused, especially Ezekiel who had a certain attraction to danger.
"This place gives off such a bad aura."
Well, Chen wasn't entirely lying. The place, as it looked, was taken from a horror movie about haunted places.
"It reminds me of the second season of American Horror Story," Ezekiel was very precise. He watched that show a lot of times for research and was curious to see how the real thing was like.
Iaosur was silently surveying the place but didn't seem very content with whatever he was seeing. He walked to Zoe and placed a hand on her shoulder, making her tense up.
"Are you sure you want to enter? This isn't like any haunted place. Some people here don't even know they're dead," He grumbled, his eyes narrowing at the sight.
She chuckled, "Do you really care, Iaosur?"
The demon gulped and took a step back, "No." He lied.
He was connected to her and would always stay behind her when something was scaring him. But then again, he wouldn't recognize just how much he was relying on their connection.
As she was making her way on the propriety, she started to hear the patients talking to her or to each other; they weren't mean or bad and most of them were playing or trying to get her attention. Zoe was aware that Cane Hill has been abandoned for a while and visitors were rare.
"I can hear people whispering," Chen whispered to Ezekiel, grabbing his arm in fear.
They were walking close to each other while Iaosur was behind them, glaring at them for acting like they didn't just enter a haunted place willingly.
Once they got in front of the door, she turned to them and smiled.
"I have to talk to this person alone. You can walk around and enjoy yourselves meanwhile," Chen and Ezekiel blinked, registering what she announced, "Nobody will hurt you. Just, don't get too personal with them. They are dead." She finished before leaving.
The humans glanced at each other before they sighed and rubbed their heads; in sync, like they were twins.
On the other side, Zoe was searching for an empty room and had the chance to see what was actually going on in there. Nurses were dressed in white and blue uniforms but most of them weren't exactly trustworthy, shoving the patients in the hall like they were animals.
She looked inside every room along the hall. In the first, she saw a woman that didn't look ill but she did look mad. Her eyes were blue but not from natural causes, had bags under her eyes and smelled like chloral. Zoe walked further and noticed the way the patient was looking at her, standing in the middle of the bed.
"They will come take my baby," The ghost looked at Zoe and glared, "I won't let them take my baby. Not even if they kill me!"
Well, that explained the situation and her watery blue eyes.
"They drowned you,"
The ghost scoffed and turned her attention back on the door.
In the next room, Zoe saw a guy with no legs, scribbling something on the wall. When she got closer, she smelled blood. She looked around and noticed two legs, cut from the knee down, lying on the floor next to a mirror. She walked behind the man and bent in order to see what he was writing. Firstly, he was writing with blood and secondly, he didn't have a pen so he improvised; quite cruelly creative, she might add.
The man turned around quickly and surprised her by actually grabbing her head, pulling her close to the wall; or more like pushing her head against the wall in not a very nice way.
"Pretty girl can see what's there, can't she?"
"Not exactly," She grunted.
The man pressed on her head harder, making her flinch.
"But it's about pretty girl!" His voice was like a child's yet when he pushed her head harder for the third time, it became mature and sinister.
He grabbed her by the hair and pushed her head right in front of what he wrote.
"Read!" He ordered.
She looked at him before she tried to read whatever he wrote there.
"Everything is a lie. You are all alone," She started, her tone softening up as she was reading, "Pitiful pretty girl," She finished.
The man started to laugh like he just heard the funniest joke. He let her go and clapped excitedly.
Zoe got up and walked out of there with a knot in her stomach.
She entered three more rooms and each was a disaster. In one, she saw a nurse scolding the patient, an old man with half of his face burnt. That didn't stop the woman to hit him repeatedly with a lever.
In another room, she witnessed two patients having sex. She closed the door quickly when she realized they were both men.
The third room was dead silent and suspiciously clean.
"You're not crazy,"
She could feel it. The energy wasn't like the rest; it was human and a cruel one at that.
"I know but you are," He whispered from hit spot near the furthest wall.
She watched him come out from the darkest corner of the room, his hands linked behind him, his walking style very relaxed and laid back. His dark curly hair was messy and his clothes were wet.
"You are the devil," He spat with hatred.
"Maybe. But you already have one in here, don't you? Isn't that why you wrote on the walls and told everyone to leave?" She asked, not budging from her spot in front of the door.
He chuckled and sat on his bed, showing her just how he looked from the front. The young man stared at her with those blood red eyes from crying and other suspicious things before shuffling his . He had a few bruises on his body but none was as bad as the hole in the place his heart was supposed to be.
"He killed me and doomed everyone to stay here and wait," He explained in a tone that reminded her of Eneizar.
"For what?" She asked before taking a few steps closer.
The boy jumped on his feet and ran in front of her. He leaned in and looked straight into her eyes, forcing her to lean back just in case he had other ideas.
"For you," He started before laughing like a maniac, "Do you know what's funny? You can't save us!" He started to laugh harder and louder, "You!" It sounded a lot like he was suffocating, "You!" He repeated before he started to cough, "You are a weakling! You can't save anyone~"
Zoe let him act the way he wanted as long as she could get the answer she wanted from him, "Where is he?"
The boy shrugged.
"He comes and goes. But you can always call for him; he's always there when new patients come. He can't wait to spill blood on the walls and there's always room for more. Two more,"
She tensed and ran out of the door. She had to find Ezekiel and Chen before him. Iaosur wasn't going to protect them when the killer was his creator.
"Run, devil, run run. Devil, run run!" He sung before he started to laugh again.
"Excuse me, ma’am. Do you know if we can-" Ezekiel started yet jumped back when the woman turned around. Her eyes were out of the orbits and she was missing her front teeth. She looked scary,"-doesn't matter. Go along."
The woman chuckled and went into another room.
"I can't see anything but I can feel like I'm watched," Chen mumbled, his legs trembling from being alone.
Actually, he was still in the hall while Ezekiel already went inside what looked to be a recreation room. No matter how many encouragements he was using in his head, Chen was too paranoid to follow Ezekiel.
"That's because there is a lady looking at you,"
Chen gulped and took one step to the right.
"Does it look like she hates me? She wants to take out my heart?"
Ezekiel narrowed his eyes and tilted his head to the side, "Not exactly."
The woman was staring at Chen like he was a God, admiring him with a suspicious glint in her eyes. She wasn't that old but she was at least 10 years older than them. Right before he moved again, she tried to touch his crotch, sending a chill down his spine.
"Then what does she want? It's so intense,"
Ezekiel muffled a laugh. Of course it was intense since she walked closer to him.
"I feel trapped," Chen whimpered.
"I bet you do," Ezekiel was having a lot of fun, surprisingly.
Iaosur, on the other side, was standing on the stairs. He was curious where Eneizar vanished and why; he was also curious who was in the asylum because Zoe didn't tell them and he couldn't feel anything out of ordinary.
While laughing, Ezekiel didn't notice the kid who just came from around the corner, colliding into the human and falling on his bottom. Ezekiel bent before him and stuck his hand out.
"Sorry. Here, let me help you-" He stopped when the kid looked up. Ezekiel had never seen such big eyes before and he had never seen such big holes in their places. The kid had blood on his right cheek and his lips were burnt.
"-up." His voice cracked.
The human gulped but didn't leave. The kid smiled and grabbed his hand; the little hand had only three fingers: the big one, the middle and the pinkie.
"Are you my daddy?"
Ezekiel felt his heart break, "No. I'm not."
The kid walked closer to the human and smiled widely.
"Do you want to be my daddy?" He squeezed Ezekiel's hand until he cut the blood circulation, "Do you?" The ghost repeated.
Ezekiel shook his head and tried to pull his hand out of the grip. He got on his feet and the kid let go of his hand but he didn't leave; he clanged on Ezekiel's leg and even crawled on it.
"Do you want to be my daddy?" The child repeated innocently.
Ezekiel sighed and shook his leg but the kid had a tight grip and didn't even budge.
"What are you doing?" Chen got away from the perverted ghost and noticed his friend shaking his leg. He walked there and glanced at his leg before his eyes moved on his face, "What's there?"
"A kid. He wants me to be his daddy,"
It was revenge time and Chen knew it. He smirked and Ezekiel prepared himself mentally for the wave of comments.
"He wants you to be his daddy, huh? How interesting~"
"Don't even go there," Ezekiel threatened his friend even though he wasn't in a good position either.
"Go where? I don't intend to go anywhere." His eyes were shining with malice, resembling a demon, "I'm staying here." Chen teased his best friend with a wide smirk
Ezekiel scoffed, "Don't give me this bullshit. Help me get this kid off!" Chen tilted his head to the side and didn't move a muscle, "Kim Kyung Jae!"
"Using my full name won't get you anything. We both know you are too young to have kids. Besides, who knows who you will end up with? Might as well have a baby with Zoe since she already made you her legacy,"
That triggered something in Ezekiel's mind. He put the leg down and the kid let go of his leg, feeling Ezekiel's energy calming down suddenly.
Chen realized he went a little over the line. Well, it wouldn't hurt to go further.
"I heard from Gakhas. You became her legacy. Wouldn't that make it easier if you two would actually have babies? Then your bloodline would mix with hers and the perfect little monster would be born,"
Ezekiel froze but his mind was working overload. He was thinking so deep about that idea that he might had even considered it.
"That's-" He didn't have any idea what he wanted to say or even explain to Chen.
"Hey, Zek?" Ezekiel glanced at his friend a little dazed, "Do you like Zoe?"
"Yes. We made a promise and we've been friends for two years. I risked my life for her and vice versa and-"
Chen clicked his tongue, "No. I mean do you like her as a woman? As someone you could be interested in romantically?"
Ezekiel was taken aback; he had never thought about that nor had the time to.
"I- no. No, we are just friends or even like siblings,"
Chen stared at his friend with worry, noticing the way he started to play with his shirt nervously.
"Are you sure? From an outside point of view, you look like you would do anything for her, even die. Friendship doesn't go that far and you already crossed that line a long time ago." Chen explained, since he could see the relationship between the two with different eyes.
Ezekiel frowned, "What do you mean?"
Chen sighed heavily, "I think you fell for her. Big time."
Ezekiel's eyes widened and he started to panic. He didn't even know why because Chen's statement wasn't based on anything. He certainly didn't love Zoe like that.
Or did he?
Iaosur left the two humans from the moment Chen got checked out by the ghost. It was boring besides, something was luring him upstairs. There was a back room somewhere and he felt like he needed to find it. He could hear screams of anguish, pain or just joyful, wrecking screams and he couldn't help but feel like home.
He clicked his tongue and peeked inside one of the rooms. It was a woman who looked half dead and had her whole face bandaged; her pupils were moving chaotically as if she was sleeping with her eyes open. Actually, now that he was looking closely, he wasn't sure it was a she because he couldn't see breasts and he swore he saw a penis.
It was just an IT; like most humans.
But Iaosur wasn't just a demon any more.
The IT was trying to get to the food on the ground but it could barely move. Iaosur walked inside and pushed the food closer to the ghost. It looked up at him with those crazy eyes and nodded in thanks. It was heartbreaking and Iaosur felt something inside him flinch.
"You became soft, Iaosur,"
The demon didn't have to raise his head in order to see who was there. He knew that voice well.
"You are the same bastard, Master," He emphasized the title knowing it would please the elder..
The demon prince laughed.
"I heard you got signed by the commander. Does that still make you Mammon's propriety?" Iaosur flinched at the superior tone he used, "But I am your creator, ain't I? You have to do everything I say or else you become ash."
Iaosur closed his eyes and took a deep breath, "What do you want me to do?"
The demon prince smirked.
"Get me the ghost boy."
Iaosur blinked in confusion, "What? Why?"
The angst prince raised an eyebrow, leaning against the door frame, his pupil suddenly becoming white.
"Since when are you questioning your missions, Iaosur?"
That hit a sensible chord in his pride. After his creator left, Iaosur looked down at the IT ghost before grunting and grabbing a hand through his hair. Working for Zoe was so different from his old job.
Zoe was lost; or more like someone was leading her towards some place. The building wasn't that big but it was like a labyrinth.
The word written on most walls and doors was annoying her: lies, lies and lies again. She got the point already.
"Is the princess lost?"
Moreover, that little ghost tagged along.
"Frowning causes wrinkles~" He sung, following her like a shadow.
She scoffed, "How do you know that?"
"My mother was that kind of woman. Always careful how she dressed and looked. It was so annoying. When I cut her head off I felt this huge relief come over me." He spoke with such indifference.
She stopped and stared at him blankly.
"You cut your mother's head off because she was doing all she could to look young?" He nodded like that was nothing, "You killed her for nothing."
"My sister too but that's another story."
Zoe blinked and shook her head. She continued to walk wherever the halls were taking her.
"You are fucked up."
The boy scowled, "That's obvious since I got into the nuts house."
"Why are you following me?"
The ghost hesitated. He knew something but didn't seem too cooperative.
"You're fun and you're a safe zone." She heard that answer way too many times.
"So what? You want me to protect you?" He nodded eagerly, "From what? Nurses? Humans?-"
She blinked and stopped in front of a clean door.
"What would he want from you?"
The ghost leaned in and inspected her face.
"I have demon charm. He wants me in hell." He whispered, "I don't want to go down there yet."
"You won't be saved by an angel either. You sinned." The boy shrugged. "What's your name anyway?"
"Elijah. It seems I'd make a good envy demon but whatever,"
She hit his forehead lightly and narrowed her eyes at him.
"Being under a Prince is better and safer than being on your own, stupid."
He smirked, "Call me a rebel. I'm smart and don't need anyone to order me around."
Of course. He was a psychopath, in the end.
They walked down the hall until she felt a breeze swaying her hair slightly. The ghost tensed and hid behind her. She already got used to people using her as shield but that was different when it was a ghost she just met.
"That's you, isn't it Leviathan?"
The demon chuckled evilly. He walked towards her, looking like he just crawled from the hole, literally. The demon really looked like a dinosaur; he looked like an evil Mark, actually.
"You knew where to come,"
She grabbed Elijah's hand tightly, "I knew you want him. I saw him when I was in Hell and heard his name. He didn't want to leave Earth so you sent a few demons after him. Didn't work, as I see."
The demon clapped ironically.
"And now you're going to give him to me as a present, right?" His eyes moved on the ghost with an evil glint.
The ghost froze but couldn't disappear; Zoe's sign was keeping him there.
"No. I want you to accept a deal. Asmodeus and Lucifer are working together to find the inheritor and send him to Neverland," Leviathan didn't say anything so she took it as a sign to continue, "You don't want a rebellion, do you? Then help me protect the inheritor."
"I'm not sending you any help." He responded quickly.
"You are the gatekeeper of Hell; you know who enters and who leaves. I want you to keep an eye on vanity and lust demons."
He scowled and took a few steps closer.
"Why would I do that? I have plenty to do already," She squeezed Elijah's hand, grabbing his attention, "Are you offering me an offer, Zoe?"
"I'll keep him around,"
The demon laughed loudly and clasped his fingers. Iaosur appeared in front of Zoe, intending to punch her. She moved to the side and left an opening to Elijah. The angst demon grabbed the ghost by the forehead and squeezed it, making the boy scream in pain before his eyes suddenly became empty.
"Good, Iaosur. Now our deal is sealed. Great doing business with you, commander."
The demon vanished as quickly as he appeared.
Elijah was trying to stabilize his anger and disappointment in a corner, gripping on the wall like his life was depending on it.
On the other side, it was Iaosur's turn to scream. His hand hurt and it sent this incredible stinging feeling up his spine.
"In case you forgot whose sign is shining beautifully on your hand," She stated, intensifying the pain so much that he fell back and felt his veins burn.
Iaosur reached out to Zoe but she glowered at him with superiority before she left. The demon glanced at Elijah, who was still getting used to his new purpose; he wasn't a ghost anymore, he was half demon; the lowest kind but he was half demon nonetheless.