For a few days, our small group made plans on what to do. After figuring out that we were in need of something Hailey called ‘the gateway’, we had been going around town, getting supplies and searching for anything that could potentially be said gateway. The only information we had to go off of was the fact that the gateway to Hell – the Earth gate, anyway – looked like a fairly regular if not slightly out of place door, and that it was located in the town that Tiff and I went to school in. We just had absolutely no idea where to even start looking. Hailey could give us advice (for some reason I couldn’t actually guess), but she couldn’t tell us the gate’s location, which kind of sucked; The more time we wasted, the more time Ryval had to move ahead with her plans… and that was going to be disastrous if we didn’t keep up with her.
The worst thing about the entire situation? Tiff and I had to seem normal… so we were sent straight back to school. Lydia forced us to, although it did play to our advantage; going to school allowed us to search another place for the gateway we so desperately sought out. The first few days back yielded no results. It didn’t help that I was distracted a lot of the time, due to thinking about everything that had happened, and about Ryval. Often I found myself zoning out while walking around, and it was only when I almost hurt myself did I ever snap out of my daze.
It was the fifth day back before Tiff and I found a lead.
We were sitting in Maths, and I was eyeing the clock as it ticked closer and closer to lunchtime. I was absolutely starving and fidgety, and while I knew that I shouldn’t be so nervous, I couldn’t help it. It felt like something was wrong in the air. Well, not wrong, per se. More like… abnormal. Yes, that was the feeling. There was an abnormality affecting the atmosphere, and while Tiff couldn’t sense these things as I could, it was obvious to her that something was up.
As soon as the bell rang, Tiff and I had scooped up our things and had left the classroom. We hurried to the locker bay and put our books away, grabbing food before heading back outside to the table where we usually sat with our other friends. They were arguing over something trivial again, but this time, we didn’t try to understand them. Tiff and I had our own thoughts to deal with, and while we couldn’t speak of them in front of our friends, we could still mull over them in our own minds.
“Hey, Tiff, Sai,” our only male friend said, and we both looked up to see all of our friends staring at us, confused. “You both okay? You seem bothered by something.”
I immediately shook my head, alarmed but hiding it. “Oh, just mulling over a test that Tiff and I have in Maths.” We didn’t share Maths with our other friends, thankfully, so it was easy to create that lie. Especially because none of the others did Maths anyway. “We don’t think we’re going to pass.”
Tiff chuckled, but I could tell it was forced. “Yeah. Neither of us understand the topic.” She looked at me, and I grinned, before she looked back at the others. “We’re so going to fail.”
“Right…” Our friends didn’t look convinced, but they were smart enough to let the subject go and went back to arguing about which current television show was the best. I rolled my eyes, not really interested, and got to my feet before explaining that I was going to head back to my locker. Tiff decided to join me, but our other friends just decided to keep arguing, so we went back on our own.
“Ugh,” I said once we were out of their earshot. “Is all they ever talk about?” I asked, looking over at Tiff, who started laughing at the expression I gave her. “Seriously, they’re just freaking television shows!”
“I have to agree,” Tiff mused, grinning. “Besides, Disney movies are far better than any silly television show!”
I nodded. “I have to agree… at least with the movies part. Maybe not Disney.”
“Did you seriously just say that?” Tiff gasped. “Disney movies are life!”
I laughed, before falling quiet as we walked past something that looked very, very out of place. I came to a halt to get a closer look at it, and very quickly I realised that it was a door. I frowned as I grabbed Tiff’s arm – she was about to walk straight on past – and she jerked to a halt as I said wondrously, “That’s a really weird place for a door.”
Tiff frowned as I released her arm. “Yeah, it really is…,” she murmured. Realisation struck us in unison, and Tiff’s eyes widened before she turned to me and asked, “Do you think…?”
I nodded. “It just has to be,” I whispered, looking around. “There’s no room on the other side of that wall, and if we were to check outside… there’d be no sign of a door.”
“Should we open it?” Tiff asked curiously. “I mean…”
I shook my head briskly. “No. The risk of getting spotted is too great. We’ll have to investigate later tonight, with the others.” I bit my lip as I spoke, looking around at the flood of people that just appeared as the bell rang. “We’ll tell the others as soon as we return, alright?”
“Why’re you asking me?” Tiff chuckled as we departed from the door, and continued on to the locker bay. “You’re the Nephilim, not me.” She spoke in a low voice, and luckily for that, too; our other friends walked in at that moment, and as soon as they spotted us, they strode over, joining our conversation without permission. Either way, we didn’t mind. It was a welcome change, and besides, we’d found what we’d needed to anyway.
The rest of the day passed very quickly after that, and soon enough, Tiff and I were walking out of the school gates. Tiff would have gone home immediately, if we hadn’t already thought up a rather simple ruse for why she wasn’t… without telling them that she couldn’t. They believed that she was staying with me for a few weeks, which was fine by them, because they were about to go on holidays, and her being with me allowed them to not worry so much about her. It was perfect timing on their parts, because it also allowed for us to go about our Demon hunt without telling them, which eliminated the risk of them keeping her in the house under their strict supervision.
We got to the place where Nathan was to pick us up only to see a familiar Land Cruiser, and we raced over before jumping in. Nathan grunted in lieu of a greeting as we got in, before pulling out from the car park and heading out of town.
As we drove towards the safehouse – staying under the speed limit because there were cops everywhere today – I asked Nathan, “How’s the search for the gateway going?”
The Nephilim man sighed and shook his head. “It’s not.” He looked back at us two in the back seat, his eyes somewhat sad. “We have no idea where it could be. We’ve looked everywhere and we just cannot find it.”
“Oh,” I said softly, not yet revealing what we’d discovered. That was the end of the conversation, and silence reigned as we drove the rest of the distance. Once we pulled up to the safehouse, however, I said to Nathan, “Can you gather the others?”
He seemed a little confused, but still nodded before getting out and heading inside. Before Tiff and I went inside, however, she grabbed my shoulder and asked, “Why didn’t you tell him in the car? About the door?”
I shook my head slowly before meeting her eyes. “This is something that everyone needs to hear at the same time.” I smiled sadly at her then as she removed her hand from my shoulder. “Trust me on this one.”
She nodded tentatively, biting her lip, and said nothing as we walked inside. We quickly navigated the house to find everyone in the lounge room, and I almost laughed at how normal everything seemed. Lydia was sitting on an armchair, holding a mug of coffee in her hands, while Hailey was sitting on the floor, reading a novel and drinking a glass of orange juice. Yet despite the normality of the situation it was also anomalous… because everyone was tense and on edge. They looked at Tiff and I as we entered, and I felt a little nervous under all the eyes as Lydia asked, “Why did you want us to gather? Did you find something?”
Tiff and I both nodded before I said, “We both think we found it. The gateway.”
Lydia looked at us, raising an eyebrow. “Are you certain?” she asked, her voice both sceptical and hopeful.
We both bobbed our heads again.“Yep. It’s a door that doesn’t really stand out, but at the same time, it does, because it leads to nowhere and you can’t see it from the outside.” I frowned. “It’s at the school, close to our locker bay.”
Every single person in the room frowned upon hearing this, but it was Soren who spoke. “That poses an issue. Isn’t that place, like, secured with alarms and cameras?” He sighed. “That means not all of us can go.”
“What do you mean?” Iris asked, looking at him and cocking her head to the side.
“To conceal you guys,” I said with a frown, “It would take a lot of Magic, and it would also be risky. We need to have contact – physical touch – to conceal a Human, and in the event one of you accidentally moves away from our touch…” I shuddered. “That won’t exactly be easy to explain to the authorities.”
“I have to agree with Soren. Only we Nephilim should go,” Lydia said. “The Humans can stay here.” She specifically looked at Aidan as she spoke, and something passed between them, for he nodded before she turned back to me. “We’ll leave here as soon as the sun sets.”
I nodded before I looked out of the window, noticing that the sun was sinking lower into the sky. That meant we would be leaving quite soon, at least half an hour from now, which allowed for a period of rest, so I plonked myself down on a couch while Tiff went to go shower.
Half an hour passed very quickly, and soon we were all packed into the car and heading back towards town. Each one of us was understandably nervous; if our Magic failed us before we turned the security cameras off, we were screwed. Getting inside the building was no problem, provided we all used the right phasing spell. And since we were only using a basic one, I knew that we all knew it. I just had to hope that all of us hadn’t wasted our Magic reserves.
We parked the car a short distance from the school, to ensure that our plates wouldn’t be known if our Magic failed us, then headed up towards the buildings. Under cover of darkness it was easy to get up there unseen, but we still kept our wits about us, concealing ourselves as soon as was suitable.
We used our Magic just a little more to phase through the doors of the administrative office, and I crept quietly over to the desk to turn the alarm system off. Once I disabled them I joined the others again, and led them towards the locker bay, dropping my shroud to conserve Magic.
Movement caught my eyes then, and I hissed in shock, causing everyone to come a halt. We all watched the door opened, and a man – Demon, obviously – stepped out. This served to confirm our thoughts that the door was truly the gateway, but we didn’t move, instead watching the Demon man closely. He was quite muscular, which indicated that he was a warrior, and the expression on his face revealed that something was on his mind. If I didn’t know any better, I would have said that he was worried about getting caught, but he’d clearly been here before and had clearly timed his coming here.
None of us remembered that we’d dropped our concealments until the warrior looked right at us and gasped, before muttering something in the Demon tongue, opening the doorway again, and rushing inside. Stunned into paralysis, none of us moved a muscle, only capable of watching.
The moment the door closed, Nathan cursed. We’d lost the chance to follow. The door obviously needed a Demon incantation to open it, and while we’d all heard what the Demon had said we had no way of replicating it. No Nephilim did, unless we were specially taught Hell’s tongue.
“Damn it,” Soren grunted once we had reactivated the security systems of the school and retreated back to the car. “Well, at least we know where the gateway is.” He leaned against the bonnet as he spoke, biting his lip.
Lydia shook her head and crossed her arms, looking rather annoyed. “The issue now is getting through it.” She looked back in the direction of the school, pursing her lips and thinking for a few moments before looking back at us. “None of us know that incantation, and it’s painfully obvious we need to know it.”
We all heaved a sigh before Nathan said, “Let’s head back to the safehouse. We can discuss this dilemma further there.” This was unanimously agreed upon, and we all crawled back into the car and headed home.
Once we had returned, we informed the others of the dilemma at hand. Nobody could think up a way to replicate the Demon incantation or an alternative way of getting the door open, even though we discussed the topic for three hours. Eventually we all just gave up and went to bed, despite the questions plaguing our minds. Regardless of Nephilim immortality, we still functioned like Humans, and did require sleep. Not much, but it was a necessity for us to remain healthy.
Of course, I failed to get any sleep. I laid awake, staring at the roof, my mind working in overdrive.
The hushed voice distracted me from my thoughts, and I sat up to notice Soren standing at my door. We each had our own rooms, and since it was the middle of the night, I’d not expected to be interrupted. But I didn’t mind. “Hey there,” I said. “What’s bothering you?”
Soren sighed as he walked over and sat on the edge of my bed. “I’ve been meaning to ask you something ever since we found out that… well… you were related to Ryval.”
Immediately I became tense. I didn’t even know what he was trying to say, and already I didn’t like where this was going. Knowing that my mother was a Demon and not an Angel was bad enough. And any discussion about Ryval was bound to be an unpleasant one. “And that would be?” I asked, trying to keep my voice calm, and failing miserably. I could hear the strain.
Soren clearly heard it too, for he flinched a little before saying, “What are your feelings on this? Knowing you have to kill your own mother… It can’t be easy.”
I growled at him. I knew there was something about this conversation I wouldn’t have liked. “That,” I hissed, “Is none of your business.” I then turned my back to him and huffed, trying to tell him with my body language alone that this conversation was over.
Apparently, he didn’t getit. “There has to be a reason for you wanting to kill her. Not many Nephilim would agree to kill their own parents, even if you want to save your friend and her entire race.” He shook his head as I looked back at him using my peripheral vision. “You would still hesitate. So why didn’t you? Does it have something to do with Vera?”
I stiffened a little, hearing that name. Vera was the name of my mentor, the second Firstborn ever. She’d been the one who’d cared for me when I’d been left with the Nephilim, and the first friend I’d ever had. Unfortunately, little under three years ago, Vera had stumbled upon a Demon woman brutally murdering a Human girl, and she’d tried to stop the Demon… which had resulted in her own death. I’d thought the event was a one-time thing, back then… but now I knew differently.
I could still remember finding Vera’s body. There had been a large hole blown through her chest, and her eyes were glazed over in utter agony. I’d also seen her attacker that day standing in the shadows. The Demon woman that had killed my closest friend and my mentor… was the very same one we were trying to track down and eliminate now. It was just that, back then… I’d not realised she was my mother, and she’d given no indication she was.
The fact that Soren knew about Vera was interesting indeed, and he clearly knew that she and I had been friends, but it appeared as if he didn’t realise that we’d been as close as mother and daughter.
I heaved a sigh. “Ryval… may be my mother, but I feel no love for her. Besides, I grew up believing that an Angel was my mother, not a Demon. I don’t consider Ryval my mum.” I looked up at him, my eyes flashing dangerously. “Vera was the one who cared for me and raised me anyway. If anything, she was my mother.” I turned away, gritting my teeth and clenching my fists. “I want to kill Ryval for two reasons. I want to save the Human race from extinction… and I want to avenge Vera. I didn’t realise until recently that Ryval was the one who killed her.”
Soren appeared to be quite shocked. “I… I wasn’t aware that you and Vera… were so close…” He hung his head before he looked away. “Sorry, Sai. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
I shook my head. “You couldn’t have possibly known.” I meant my words to be gentle and comforting, but I was still a little enraged, so they didn’t come out as I intended. “It’s not well known. The Nephilim Council itself barely knows what killed Vera; they just know she’s dead.” I crossed my arms. “I’ve not told anyone because I didn’t know the identity of the Demon. But now I do.” I looked back at him, my eyes glittering with fierce determination.
Soren nodded. “I see… Saving the Humans just gives you another reason to kill Ryval, then?” he asked, cocking his head slightly to the left.
I nodded. “Yep. And it also gives me a good cover story for my true reason.” Then I yawned, and laid back down. “I don’t want the others to know the truth. Can you please keep this a secret, Soren?”
Soren nodded. “Sure. This will be strictly between us,” he said, smiling at me.
We both went to bed after that, and I awoke to getting prodded in the cheek by my best friend. “Oi.”.
“Hey,” I greeted lethargically, sitting up. “What’s up?” The roof,” she sarcastically replied. “Actually, I had something to tell you.”
I frowned. “What is it?”
“Lydia and Nate went out early this morning.”
“Why?” I asked. It was a Saturday morning, which we had decided that we would use for planning our next move, but before Tiff could answer Lydia and Nathan walked into my room… followed by the Demon man from last night.
I was more than a little surprised to see him, if I was being honest, and he seemed a little hesitant to be here. He kept looking around nervously, and his unease grew as he laid eyes on me. “Ah, you’re the one I seek,” he said, and I was shocked by how… young his voice seemed. “My name is Lazarus, and I have come here to request a private audience with you.”
“You want to speak privately with me?” I asked, bemused..
Lazarus nodded. “Yes, if that sits well with you.” He seemed well-spoken and polite enough, not a trait I would have expected in a Demon. I couldn’t help but feel as if he’d come here for a reason, though, so I nodded.
“Sure,” I said, waiting for the others to leave before telekinetically closing the bedroom door. “What do you need?”
“A favour of you,” Lazarus said, his voice calm. “I need you to eliminate Ryval.”
He spoke in a nonchalant way, but at the same time he appeared to be begging me, and I frowned. “You want me to kill Ryval?” I asked. “As much as I’m happy to oblige, I’m a little shocked… You look like you’re related to her or something.” I wasn’t kidding; he shared the same features as her. The horns, the same colour of eyes… even the way he stood was similar. “Are you?”
He grimaced at me. “That is something I cannot answer. I just need to know you’ll do as I ask,” he said, his voice a little more desperate now. “Please, Sai.”
“Why are you so desperate to have her killed?” I asked, frowning, wanting to know. “Sorry, but… It just seems a little odd that you want her eliminated so much, seeing as you’re one of her own people.”
Lazarus bit his lip, revealing that his teeth were slightly sharp. “The Archdemon is amassing a force to stop her. That normally wouldn’t be an issue, but…” He turned his head away. “Ryval is powerful, even by Demon standards. The entire Demon army is being gathered to stop her, and they will destroy everything to their attempts kill her. And when I say everything, I mean everything. Including the entire population of Earth.” Sadness flashed in his eyes, while horror appeared in mine. “I would like to avoid that… which is why I ask this of you.” He stepped over and took my hands in his own. “Please, Sai. You’re the only one I can trust to not destroy everything in your way.”
Even if he hadn’t explained his reason to me, I still nodded. “Of course I’ll do this for you. I don’t need another reason to eliminate Ryval.” I already had two reasons; why not add another one to the ever-growing list?
Lazarus smiled happily at this, yet at the same time his smile was quite sad. “Thank you, Sai. I knew I could rely upon you. You truly have grown into a level-headed young woman with a good heart.”
His words caught me by surprise, but I said nothing as he turned and left the room. I tossed my blankets off and followed wordlessly, heading out to the living room. Lazarus then farewelled us… or went to, but he laid eyes on Aidan.
“Ah, I didn’t expect you to be here,” he said softly, and Aidan frowned as Lazarus walked over. “Listen to me very carefully, youngster.You will need to know this.” Aidan – still confused – nodded before Lazarus said something in the Demon tongue; it was the exact same incantation that he’d said to open the door to Hell.
After getting Aidan to repeat the words a few times, Lazarus departed, disappearing in a flash of fire leaving no mark upon the floor, thankfully. The only lingering trace of his presence was the slightly smoky scent of the air. None of us really cared, however; we were just confused on why Lazarus had informed Aidan of the incantation.
But our confusion was also mixed with happiness. Aidan knowing the incantation was beneficial to our cause.
Because now, we could seek an audience with Hell’s leader… and see if we could convince him to allow us to deal with Ryval.