Not Your Choice
The vanity domain was immense. Entering the Front Gate of Lucifer’s personal space made her shudder because she felt his presence even if he wasn’t near. Zoe believed that it was only her, that it was the aftermath of their recent meeting but Iaosur was frozen next to her and he was scared.
“Shouldn’t you be braver than me? I’m sure you’ve been here before.” She tried to calm herself down by sharing the pressure with the angst demon.
“I haven’t, actually. I hate this place. I don’t want to enter.” He said surveying what was beyond the gate.
“Have you ever met him?”
“I did, once when I fell into damnation. I don’t want to repeat that awful experience and yet here I am.” Iaosur answered feeling incredibly tense. The domain looked empty but he knew once they will step in that will change.
“I met him too, just a little while ago in the cave I was in. His influence is overwhelming. I felt so small and insignificant and desperate.” She answered remembering that brief surge of power she felt every time he’d let her taste it. Iaosur licked his lips and looked ahead, fear overwhelming him.
“Let’s just get it over with.” He said but he didn’t move. Zoe glanced at the emptiness in front of her before she turned to Iaosur. He was anxious and he would have prefered to go anywhere else but there.
“Give me your hand,” she concluded that he was like a child on his first visit to the dentist. The unknown was before them and none knew if it will hurt them or not but holding his hand was the least she could do. “We’re here because of me so I’ll protect you.”
Iaosur raised an eyebrow and Zoe expected him to laugh in her face and say something offensive. But he didn’t. He grabbed her hand and felt this surge of electricity go up his arm and into his head. It was like a wave of water splashed him and let him wet and cold from head to toe but the sun was warm enough to make him feel better, refreshed even.
Once they walked in, the wind stopped and the desert before them started to take form. There was a mansion in the middle and they started towards it. The path was clean but on each side there were vanity demons, corpses in suffering and raw creatures kept in chains. At the sight of the new faces souls begun moaning and asking for forgiveness and help. Their voices mixed together into this awful choir of cries that both rose pity and annoyed them.
“This is not exactly the Inferno I expected.” Zoe muttered while keeping close to Iaosur.
“Dante’s never actually been to Hell. Why would it be an upside down pyramid? That guy had amazing imagination and he made Hell according to his own life experiences. I guess Hell has always taken different forms depending on who imagines it. But one thing I can tell you for sure: it’s always been the pit where souls burn and suffer and they all deserve it.”
“Did Rowan deserve to be sent here?” She asked grasping his hand.
“Yes. Rowan made many mistakes in his little mortal life and he was prepared to take responsibility. But I also misjudged how well your relationship could turn out to be, a truly grave mistake on my part. You got him to Heaven, not his sacrifice.”
Zoe was content with that explanation and he felt it strongly. Iaosur’s lips curled into a smile which was very odd coming from someone whose natural expression has always been a frown or a sneer.
“Aren’t there any celebrities here?” She asked trying to loose the tension. “I expected to see Cerberus at the entrance but there’s nothing. I feel like I closed my eyes and teleported in the cave.”
“That’s because you are not dead. There is a whole process behind going up or falling in here. There is still so much of Hell that you haven’t seen. If I were you I’d wish not to know more.” He advised her with good intentions. After the words came out he wondered when did he become so nice...
The Vanity Domain was definitely Lucifer’s. It seemed every prince had elements that defied their reign: Lucifer was simple but it felt like he had eyes everywhere. The cave she was in was Beelzebub’s, it seemed he preferred small places. On the polar opposite was Mammon, whose domain was a lot smaller than Lucifer’s and it looked even smaller because all the shiny little houses spread all around, each with a lot of souls hanging around either for expensive food, expensive clothes, expensive jewels and gold and so on. She wasn’t sure how they were punished because she didn’t stay for long. Another curiosity was the reason why Mammon gave several caves to Beelzebub when the latter also probably had his own space somewhere. She glanced at Iaosur but he probably knew as much as she did.
Once they arrived in front of the mansion, she realized they were really going to the Prince of Hell willingly only to ask for Eneizar. Was he even there? Did Lucifer even know his name? Was Eneizar as important as he made himself sound?
“Are you going to enter?”
An ancient voice asked and it was the first time she noticed a goat man standing at the end of the stairs like a butler. The creature was horrible and he smelled even worse. His goat eyes were staring at her and if Iaosur wouldn’t have grasped her hand she would have vomited and fainted.
“Don’t get scared yet, you’ve seen such goat men in movies before. One detail that humans actually got right.” Iaosur mumbled although he wasn’t comfortable either.
Zoe nodded and used years of practice with her mother in order to walk past that vile creature. He was even more disgusting up close but she forced herself to enter the mansion. The hall they walked in was just as large and it was empty. The floor was made of glass and at the end of the front stairs was a throne not a corridor. On that throne made of red leather from what she could see stood Lucifer himself. In a way, he reminded Zoe of Tolkien’s Elvenking as introduced in the movies. His eyes were sharp and held centuries of knowledge and malice. He was drumming his fingers on the arm rest and the sound resonated loudly in the great hall.
When those eyes fell on Zoe and Iaosur, the demon wanted to rush out and hide in a hole. He tried his best not to show how scared he was but Lucifer was making it hard by just standing there. Zoe noticed Iaosur squirming and dragged him closer to her as if to say it’s alright, that she was there and won’t let him leave.
“Did you come back with a purpose, little bee?” He asked not sounding like that nickname was a friendly gesture. “Or did you finally decide what to do with your friend’s pact?”
Iaosur frowned and turned curiously at her but she shook her head.
“I want to meet Eneizar.” She said loudly in a steady rhythm.
“Of course you do. And? Why did you bring this betrayer here? Does he want to change his masters again?” Lucifer asked with a sneer. Though he sounded cold, he looked very calm.
Iaosur glared at him for a second before Lucifer looked straight into his eyes. The angst demon gulped and grabbed Zoe’s arm with his available hand, looking like a koala bear gripping a tree.
Lucifer descended the stairs and stopped in front of her.
“Eneizar’s favor for Mehrdir is done. He has nothing to do with you anymore.”
Zoe closed her eyes and controlled her tremors at the smell of his breath.
“But I want to see him. I can do that much.” She responded, using the courage she gathered through the years of being around Mehrdir.
He chuckled darkly and leaned in. Completely black and empty eyes were staring into her orange orbs. Lucifer doubted that she was aware of her appearance in Hell: her blue eyes were now completely black and her orbs were the colour of autumn leaves, just like Beelzebub’s. They had pretty much the same features but she was not dead yet and still looked more or less human.
“You have a lot of courage to stand up to me. Give me one reason why I should let you see Eneizar.” Lucifer started in a low murmur that would scare even the biggest bully.
“The inheritor.” She mumbled, her eyes looking at anything on his face except the eyes.
Well, that seemed to do the job. Lucifer leaned back and looked to the side. He made a sign to a goat man before he returned his attention to Zoe.
“Fine. You can have him for the time being but that doesn’t mean he will be around you as much as before.”
That was a good deal and she was content with only catching a glimpse of the vanity demon.
"I'll leave your friend's fate in your hands too." As he said that a piece of parchment appeared in his hand and burned until there was nothing of it. "Don't forget Zoe, you don't want to see me angry." He advised her in a husky and low tone, almost a growl.
With that established, Lucifer retreated into a dark corridor next to the stairs. Zoe breathed out in relief and Iaosur unwrapped himself from her.
“You’re scared of him, aren't you?” Iaosur noted although he was shaking harder than her.
She was actually terrified. Nothing in her entire life ever scared her as much as the vanity prince. He was a monster with the face of an angel, far more intimidating than any picture or story.
“I’m scared because I don’t know what to expect. Stories do not exactly prepare humans for the real deal.” She whispered, turning to look at him.
The angst demon swayed back and forth on his toes in boredom. It’s been approximately ten minutes since Lucifer left and they were waiting for Eneizar.
“I heard someone came here and asked for me!”
The guests turned around quickly and saw Eneizar entering the large room with a smirk on his face.
“Should I be honored or should you?” The vanity demon teased in his usual smartass manner.
Iaosur chuckled and greeted his friend. They even hugged manly like humans, patting each other’s backs.
From a few feet away, Zoe realized that Iaosur and Eneizar got a lot of traits from Ezekiel and Chen. Their friendships were very much alike.
“The brotherhood in this room is overwhelming.” She mumbled from the side, grabbing their attention.
Eneizar laughed and surprisingly hugged her.
“When I see Ezekiel I will make him feel the same pain I did when he exiled me.” He whispered in her ear, squeezing her lightly.
Her eyes widened and her body tensed by reflex, stopping Eneizar from doing anything else.
“I’m joking!” He chuckled, his mouth saying something but his eyes telling Zoe that he was serious.
“Now that you are here I'm ready to go back into my body.” She added quickly after the demon unwrapped his arms around her.
Eneizar raised an eyebrow and glanced at Iaosur.
"That was fast. I thought you wanted me to give you a tour of this majestic place," Eneizar said pointing at the front door.
“I saw enough, believe me. But before leaving I do have to find a demon for Beelzebub. He’s hiding in Japan and he’s been acting suspiciously.” She continued, rolling her eyes. Somehow she felt like she should remain in Beelzebub's grace even if he didn't move a finger for her.
The demons glanced at each other curiously before they turned to look at her.
"What makes you think that only because we kept close to you up there-" Eneizar actually pointed up, "-we will agree to follow you wherever you go?" He ended, crossing his arms in front of his chest.
She stared at the blond demon before her eyes moved on Iaosur. He looked smug now that Lucifer was gone and he was reunited with Eneizar. And yet, in the moment those yellow-ish eyes fell over his form he felt compelled.
"Alright, I'm in."
Eneizar looked suspiciously at the angst demon, scanned him from head to toe and puckered his lips thoughtfully.
"I can't leave you have all the fun, I guess..."
“This is not exactly what I imagined the famous Hell hole to look like.”
To get back Upwards (as it seemed that damned souls referred to life) , they had to go through the small Hellhole. Well, she didn’t know what small meant in Hell because that was definitely not small. It was a huge crater in a valley and it looked really bad, smelling even worse.
“It smells like death.” She added, sniffing the toxic air coming from the pit.
Eneizar glanced at Iaosur and they smirked at each other. She leaned closer in order to see if it was moving. In that moment, Eneizar pushed her in. She screamed and closed her eyes. They heard one thing before she got engulfed and it sounded a lot like bastards.
“You didn’t have to push her.” Iaosur stated after feeling guilty for some reason.
“I know but I wanted to.” Eneizar answered.
The demons chuckled between them and walked behind her.
“Is this for real?”
They were on an island, in the middle of the ocean. She had never expected the other end to be in such a place.
“Did you really think the real Hellhole is in America? Ple-ase! The only Hellhole is in Hell, as it should be. The rest are just arrival points, if we can really call them that.” Iaosur answered in what sounded like an offended tone.
She blinked in astonishment and turned to them.
“Where are we?”
Eneizar took a deep breath of unneeded air and smiled.
Her eyes widened and she took a closer look at what was around her: airplanes, ships, skeletons of every shape and so on.
“I thought people would have already realized why this place is a black hole.” Eneizar muttered leaning towards Iaosur, placing his hands in his pockets.
“So what exactly happens here?”
After she registered where she was and what that meant, she started to ask questions.
“Even now you ask so many questions. This place is like a magnet. We lure people here through different ways and steal their life force.” Eneizar explained, looking like he was strolling through the garden in the back of his house.
She narrowed her eyes at him and crossed her arms in front of her chest. So that was the mystery behind the Triangle of Bermuda.
“Actually, that makes more sense than any theory I heard before.” She mumbled, rubbing her chin thoughtfully.
People would always talk about the mystery behind the strange disappearances in the Triangle of Bermuda but no one ever looked at the problem from a religious point of view; at least not from what she read. It was always about aliens and negative energies or black holes made into the water and whatnot but never a Hellhole; pardon, an arrival point of a Hellhole.
“Are we going any time soon?” Iaosur asked, stretching and staring at her expectantly.
Zoe took a long look around before she turned to him.
“You said it before. We just appear when we feel like it. Let’s appear in Japan.” Iaosur added, looking at her as if he was looking at an idiot.
Eneizar rolled his eyes when she didn’t move. He grabbed her hand and she felt the ground shift under her feet, making her dizzy like she just got off a roller coaster; she hated roller coasters. That was enough, though, to get in Osaka, Japan.
“Let’s possess someone and get this over with.”
For them, that was part of the job but she wasn’t even 100% dead.
“Do you see someone you like?”
They’ve been walking around Umada for an hour and nothing was happening. Iaosur was looking forward to seeing her behave badly but Eneizar was definitely not experiencing the same emotions.
“No.” She responded quickly.
“So this demon is in a host club?” Iaosur started, “And he’s been doing some nasty things? Then why don’t we let him continue?”
She sighed and rubbed her forehead. Iaosur wrapped his hands around them and leaned towards Zoe.
“Wait. Host clubs are that kind of clubs right?” He moved his eyebrows up and down. “It’s going to be so fun.”
“Because you have to possess a woman.”
She didn’t understand at first. Eneizar chuckled and patted his friend. When she finally realized what he meant, she stopped.
“When are you going to accept the fact that you really don’t have a choice?” Eneizar mumbled before pulling her forward.