I sit alone on the steps outside the church for quite some time before Noah joins me. I came out because I couldn’t stand seeing Jack and Tessa. He was so confused and she was so distraught…
“Are you okay?” He asks, sitting beside me.
“What do you think?” I say, trying not to snap. Sometimes it’s hard not to take frustration and anger out on others. “I just let my friends sacrifice parts of themselves so that I can raise somebody from the dead so that I can be happy despite how I could just be happy right now if I just gave up…” I take a deep breath. It’s bad being this emotional. Emotions make us weak.
Noah laughs sharply. I glance at him, seeing him brush his wild black hair from his eyes. He should probably trim it soon. “What I think is so fucked up about humans,” he begins, “is that most of the time, we have a lot of things that make us happy and yet we seek more things to make us happy. Why is it that we think more and more good things will increase our happiness? Why do we not just pause and let ourselves be happy now?”
“Because we’re a miserable, self-destructive race,” I answer tiredly. It’s still daytime but I feel as if night will never fall.
Noah sighs. “Jack especially… Obviously, I don’t know what memory I gave up but it certainly wasn’t one that changed very much. Jack’s basically forgotten everything.”
I frown. “What about Aaron?”
“Tessa’s inside figuring out how much he forgot,” Noah tells me. “Hopefully he’ll quickly start remembering.”
“Here’s to hope,” I mumble bitterly. “It’s a nasty thing.”
He just laughs. “Did you read that scroll yet?”
I nod. I read it as soon as I came out. It told me that four things are needed to get to Deucalion’s realm where Violet apparently is. Two of the four things are items I’ve never heard of and the other two are things that will prove to be awfully problematic, to say the least. “We need three things,” I lie. “The heart of a common enemy, a candle of enlightenment and a sphere of the undead.” I leave out the fourth thing. They’d never agree to it, it’s madness. It’s horrible… It’s something I have to do alone.
“Obviously it’s Valek’s heart we need,” Noah says. “Unfortunately I have no idea what a candle of enlightenment is, or a sphere of the undead.” I groan. “Bartholomew probably knows.”
“We should probably go talk to him,” I say, not wanting to get up. For once I’m enjoying the feeling of the sun on my face. It’s as if the heat is burning away my sins and stress. “We might be able to get one or two of the ingredients while Tessa helps Jack.”
Noah nods slowly, looking distressed. “She should be able to fix him, right? Tessa’s strong. Like, really strong! Surely she can help him remember what’s important…” He pauses for a moment. “If he remembers Aaron it should be okay. Maybe he just gave up the memory of meeting Tessa. If he hadn’t met her he wouldn’t have met us.”
“That makes sense.”
“If he remembers Aaron then it means he’ll still be willing to help us,” Noah continues. “He can help us resurrect Daniel before we find Aaron.”
I stand suddenly, unsure why. “I’m having second thoughts,” I tell him. The fourth ingredient is right in front of us but I don’t think I can bring myself to use it… Noah stands too, sighing deeply as he does so. “Why am I risking so much for him? We’re all risking everything for his sake and you guys don’t even know him.”
“I’m not too sure about Tessa,” Noah says. “But I’m helping because I care about you. You’re my friend, a pretty amazing one too. I want you to be happy even if it isn’t with me.”
It’s hard to keep the smile off my face. “I want the same for you too, Noah. Unconditional love and happiness.”
He smiles too, sitting back down. I don’t join him. Instead I go inside, trying not to think about the fourth ingredient.
I need to talk to Bartholomew about the ones that are obtainable as soon as possible to minimalize the time it takes to get them. I can worry about the fourth ingredient later. The sooner he knows where they first three are and how we can obtain them, the better. I know that we’re going through with this and I know it’ll all come down to me to finish this. The sooner the better. The less attached I grow the better.
At least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself.
I find Bartholomew in his office, asleep in his chair. I know that it’s rude to wake him but I don’t care. “Bartholomew,” I shout. “We need to talk.”
He sits up, jumping awake. “What is it?” He demands, blinking rapidly.
“What do you know about a candle of enlightenment and a sphere of the undead?” Straight to the point.
Bartholomew stands and yawns. “Both ring a bell,” he mumbles. He plucks a book from a shelf. “I think the candles are in the capital but I’m unsure about the sphere…”
The capital? Going to Lamridal would be such a stupid move but if something we need is there, do we have a choice? Then again; do we ever have a choice?
“Give me time to do some research,” Bartholomew tells me. He sits back down with a book in hand. “I suggest you reflect on what happened last time you were in Deucalion’s realm since you will be returning there soon enough.” I nod, standing. “Also check in on Tessa and Jack. She could probably use some moral support.”
I nod again, leaving the office this time.
The only other time I’ve been in Deucalion’s realm was towards the end of the war. It was quite a tedious journey, all planned by Jojen of course. A couple of weeks after we discussed getting the weapon he gathered us all again. This time it was outside of Dalmerton during the night.
“This is ridiculous,” Daniel complained. He had just almost tripped over another rock. Every time he did so, which was surprisingly often, I had to hold in my laughter.
“This will end the war; you know?” I told him.
He had done nothing but complain about this mission since Jojen had first talked about it. Isaac disapproved of it too but only because he didn’t want us to have the final battle in Dalmerton. He liked that the war would end, as did Adrianna and Allyssa.
Daniel sighed. We were almost at the cave Jojen told us to meet in. “I just don’t want Dalmerton to be affected.”
“The war began in Dalmerton,” I argued, thinking back to the first attack. I also thought back to the abundance of time we spent in Dalmerton, all the meetings and all the mages that resided there. Dalmerton was already affected. Dalmerton would forever be affected by the war… “It only makes sense that it ends there.”
He only fell over one more rock before we reached the cave. Isaac and Adrianna were waiting outside.
“Oh good,” Isaac said with a smirk. He and Adrianna were holding hands. “The whole crew is going to be here!”
I rolled my eyes but then instantly regretted it. It was a bad idea doing anything to anger him. I thought about what happened after the meeting and shuddered inwardly. “Where’s Allyssa?”
Adrianna sighed. “She said she’d meet us soon. I don’t think she wanted to walk from Dalmerton with the two of us.”
“I have no problem with that,” Isaac mumbled. Adrianna gave him an irritated look. “Do any of you know when Jojen is getting here?” Isaac asked after a minute of silence. He groaned when nobody responded. “Let’s just go in. Jojen might already be in there…”
Isaac didn’t wait to see whether we thought it was a good idea. Instead, he let go of Adrianna’s hand and walked into the cave. He illuminated it with numerous lights. Adrianna, Daniel and I followed him. It was just a passage way that went on for quite a while. It was going downhill which made me feel a little panicky. I worried we were at the wrong cave but after a few minutes we reached a room that was obviously quite far underground. There was no way magic wasn’t involved in making the passage and the room.
The room was large and rectangular with way too many candles. There were chairs and tables, all pushed against walls. Jojen stood in the centre of the room. He had an old looking book in his hand.
“I’m so glad you guys decided to join me,” he said, not looking up from the book. “Where’s Allyssa?”
Adrianna was looking around the room, frowning. “She’ll be here soon.” Jojen nodded.
“Why exactly are we here?” I asked. It seemed obvious but I wanted to be sure.
“We’re going to Deucalion’s realm,” Jojen said with a grin. “We can get his sword.”
Isaac cursed loudly. “Does it have to be Deucalion?” He groaned. “Can’t we steal from another Daemonic-King or Queen?”
Jojen scowled. “His sword is the best hope we have of winning the battle once the worshippers come to Dalmerton.”
Allyssa walked into the cave. She looked angry. “Which is when exactly?” She snapped.
I shivered. I hated the tension in the room. I didn’t hate that it made me stick close to Daniel.
Allyssa obviously didn’t want to be there. She most likely didn’t approve of whatever was happening between Isaac and Adrianna. Isaac still had reservations about the plan as a whole, and a sudden reluctance about stealing from Deucalion. It was almost as if Daniel didn’t want the war to end. Our team had fallen apart just as quickly as it had come together.
“In a few days,” Jojen said. “Which is why we don’t have time to find an alternative weapon to Deucalion’s.”
Isaac glared daggers. I heard Daniel mumble “if looks could kill” and had to hold back a laugh.
“Let’s just get this over with,” Adrianna sighed. She was holding her staff tightly as if she was expecting to be attacked at any moment. Isaac had his strapped to his back. His hands were instead fidgeting with something around his neck, probably his strange gem.
“The sooner the better,” Isaac snapped. “We need to get in and out of Deucalion’s realm as fast as possible.”
Allyssa laughed sharply. “So you can run off with my sister, right?”
Adrianna and Isaac both glared. “You can always come with us,” Adrianna said calmly. “All of you are welcome to leave this war to the professionals.” She said that while looking at Jojen.
He rolled his eyes. “The two of you don’t need to be such assholes about leaving,” he snapped. It was strange seeing him lose his temper. “And you certainly don’t need to try and take people with you!”
“How awful of us,” Isaac retorted with an eye roll. “Trying to save them from inevitable death.”
I frowned. Part of me liked that they were turning on Jojen, but another part of me pitied him. Jojen dragged us into the war but he was just trying to save Wychelm. All Jojen ever wanted was to stop the worshippers and save Wychelm…
“I’ve kept you all alive this long,” Jojen sighed. He looked defeated. It was probably a good thing that nobody mentioned Thalia, or the other countless people who had died in the war. “I can keep you all alive until the end.” Isaac tried to speak but Jojen spoke over him. “If you want to leave, go now. Any of you. Just fucking go.”
For a moment I thought that some of us would actually leave. “I’m our only hope of surviving Deucalion’s realm,” Isaac said. His voice was icier than my magic. “I’ll help you with him but then I’m gone.” Nobody questioned why Isaac felt he was our only hope, or why he was hesitant to go to Deucalion’s realm.
Adrianna nodded. “Me too. One more battle and then I’m done with this war.”
Daniel sighed. I kind of hoped he’d leave too and take me with him. “I’m staying,” he said through gritted teeth. “I’ve come this far.”
I looked down. “Me too.”
“Fucking hell,” Allyssa mumbled. “I’m leaving. My place is with my sister, not in a war…”
Jojen nodded slowly. “So after this, it’ll just be me, Damien and Daniel again. That’s probably for the best.” He turned his back to us and began reading from the book. He read very quickly. It was almost as if he wanted us to get there and back again so they could abandon us.
The portal to Deucalion’s realm was more dizzying than any teleportation crystal. I went through third, after Isaac and Adrianna. I basically stumbled through and knocked Isaac down when I arrived. He angrily pushed me off as Allyssa came through. She didn’t fall but her nose began bleeding heavily.
“Allyssa!” Adrianna gasped, rushing to her.
Groaning, I closed my eyes and leaned against a wall. I knew I needed to see where exactly we were but my head was spinning and a strange shame had come over me. Knocking Isaac over was embarrassing. Thankfully his only reaction was pushing me off, not threatening me again.
Daniel came through next and staggered, sitting next to me. “Well that was awful,” he mumbled.
I nodded in agreement and looked around. We were in a corridor. It wasn’t very long and had only one door. What kind of moron built a corridor with one door?
Once Jojen came through, the portal closed. He looked around. “I didn’t expect us to land in a corridor.” He marched straight to the only door.
Groaning, I stood up and helped Daniel to his feet. The dizziness had worn off but my stomach still felt like it was turning. I was tempted to ask if we could rest. Unfortunately, everybody had already gathered around Jojen and the door.
“We’re definitely in Deucalion’s realm,” Isaac sighed. “This is his mansion.”
Allyssa rolled her eyes, watching Jojen. He was examining the door instead of opening it. “How do you know?” She snapped. Isaac just looked away and shrugged.
“Why does a Daemonic-King have a mansion?” Adrianna asked nobody in particular. Nobody answered. It was truly a mystery.
Jojen finished examining the door and opened it. I was surprised to see that it took us to a well-lit, very large library. There were rows upon rows of tall bookshelves and there were a lot of random tables covered in scrolls. Luckily we seemed to be the only people, or things, there.
“Don’t read anything,” Isaac told us as Jojen began walking down a row. He was looking around with a peculiar, nostalgic look in his eye. “There are a lot of things not meant for human eyes here…” Of course, everybody ignored him. Adrianna, Allyssa and Jojen pulled books off shelves while Daniel and I went to the nearest table and picked up scrolls. Isaac sighed loudly and sat on a chair. “Just hurry up and sate your curiosity, chances are, Deucalion already knows we’re here.”
I rolled my eyes. It was kind of annoying that Isaac was being so controlling. As far as we knew, he hadn’t been there before. Maybe he just didn’t trust Jojen to lead us anymore. Everybody was doubting him, it only made sense that somebody would try and take his place as leader. Apparently Isaac, despite planning to leave after that mission, thought it should be him.
It was hard to understand any of the scrolls. Not only were they written in old, Daemonic languages but the paper was yellowed and torn. Daniel apparently had no problem. It was surprising that he was reading the scrolls with very little difficulty.
“Since when could you read Daemonic languages?” I asked in a hushed tone. I was standing right next to him so nobody else could hear us.
He shrugged. “I had to do something with all the time we’ve spent in Dalmerton. Learning new languages is useful.”
I frowned, wishing I had thought to do something productive. On the days we were sat around waiting all I really ever did was exercise. It was nice jogging around Dalmerton and the surrounding areas, but I realised it would have been nicer to spend the time with Daniel. It was a massive mistake not treasuring the time I had with him.
I noticed him putting a small scroll into his pocket. “What’s that?” I asked.
All he said was; “A last resort.”
Before I could question him further, Isaac stood up and groaned loudly. “Can we go now, or are you morons going to start a book club?”
“A book club could be nice,” Allyssa mumbled dryly. “Could give us reason to stay in Dalmerton.”
“Saving a country from Daemonic rebellion isn’t a good enough reason?” Daniel mumbled. Thankfully only I heard him.
Jojen put the book he was holding back on the shelf. “These books and scrolls could tell us all we need to know about Daemons,” Jojen sighed. “But sure, let’s just leave them.”
“All that we need to know about Daemons is already in the college of Farhaven,” Isaac snapped. “Somebody so nicely told us everything we need to know. The books have also been spread all around Wychelm too. Try giving them a go, it’s a lot safer than lurking in the library of a Daemonic-King.”
I frowned, wondering why he was so angry. It was scary…
On the bright side, it was then that I decided I would go to the college of Farhaven if I survived the war. I knew Daniel would be happy to go. Educating ourselves could be fun.
Jojen rolled his eyes. “I’ve read those books. They were written by an old man who supposedly once lived with Daemons. They were very educational, but what could be better than reading something that was written by a Daemonic-King?”
“Not getting killed by that Daemonic-King…” Isaac muttered.
Jojen looked like he wanted to punch him. “Whatever. Let’s just find the damn sword.” Jojen began walking down one of the rows of books. It was clear that he had no idea where he was going but we followed him nonetheless. After what felt like hours of walking in silence, we reached a door.
Isaac stopped Jojen before he could open it. “This door leads to the entrance room.” Nobody questioned what the hell an entrance room was. “From there we can reach the stairs, dungeons and throne room. The throne room is where the sword will be.”
“How do you know all this?” I asked. Somebody had to.
“I read about it,” he told me, obviously lying. “In books written by a very, very old man.”
Jojen laughed a little before opening the door. It took us to a very large room with a high roof. There were two staircases, both leading to the same landing. Between the staircases there was a double door. Across from it was what seemed to be a metal gate where a door should probably go. Outside I caught a glimpse of black stone and fire but quickly looked away. I didn’t want to know what a Daemonic realm looked like outside of a mansion. Not yet at least.
“That’s the throne room,” Isaac told us, pointing at the large double doors. As we approached it I noticed how red everything was. There was also a large brazier in the centre of the room with a fire burning brightly.
“Get back!” Jojen shouted suddenly. The fire suddenly began growing rapidly! We backed up against walls, watching it in horror. At first I thought Deucalion would come out but instead a group of smaller Daemons did. They looked scarily humanoid and as if they were made entirely of molten rock. They each had small horns on the top of their heads.
Isaac pulled his staff from his back and held it in front of him. “Don’t let them touch you!”
I pulled my daggers from my belt, knowing that my ice wouldn’t be at all effective. I stood in front of Daniel. He wouldn’t be able to do anything against them. I had to protect him!
As the Daemons charged, Isaac spun his staff in the air before swinging it at them. He only took out two of them and more were quickly appearing! Adrianna was hitting them with her staff too but it wasn’t doing much. Allyssa’s air magic wasn’t very effective.
“Just get to the door!” I commanded.
Jojen appeared magically on the other side of the room and whistled. Most of the Daemons turned to him, giving Daniel and I the chance to run. We got to the door before turning around. I examined the scene while he tried to open it.
The Daemons were closing in around Isaac, Allyssa and Adrianna. Two clones of Isaac appeared behind the Daemons. They both struck down with their mimicked staffs, knocking two Daemons away before disappearing.
“Get the door open,” Daniel instructed. I nodded as he ran to help, turning my attention to opening the door. I kneeled beside it and jabbed my dagger into the gap. I heard a scream as I shifted it about, praying it would open. After a few seconds it did. I threw the doors open, turning around.
It was Allyssa who screamed! She was laying on the ground, clutching her stomach and gasping. Adrianna and Daniel were both stood over her, shielding her. “Go!” Daniel shouted.
Isaac nodded, looking at Adrianna. “Be safe,” he said before running towards me.
I followed him through the door, surprised when the room was pitch black. I turned and saw Jojen running towards the door. They slammed shut before he could reach them. It was just me and Isaac.
“Where are we?” I whispered. The room was entirely dark once the doors had closed. All I could hear was Isaac’s eerily steady breathing beside me.
“The throne room,” he said calmly.
Suddenly, the room was illuminated. It was about the size of a church. There were small braziers of fire that lined the rooms and candles floated around. On the far end of the room was a giant throne. It was almost twice my size and looked to be made of bones. Above it, on the wall, were three large weapons. A black sword, a bloody axe and a heavy looking mace.
Isaac looked around, not looking nearly as shocked as I felt. “Show yourself, Deucalion!” He commanded in a booming voice.
I shivered as a three headed Daemon appeared only a few metres in front of us; Deucalion…
“Isaac Hawke,” it said, all three heads grinning wickedly. “We meet again after all these years…”
Isaac was clutching his staff tightly with both hands. Small flames were flickering where Isaac held it. He hadn’t told us he had fire magic. What else was Isaac hiding from us? “This will be the last time we meet,” he snarled. I gripped my daggers tight, knowing that either of them would charge at any moment. “I will kill you Deucalion, I swear it! I will fucking destroy you!”
Deucalion laughed and held out his hands. The axe from the wall flew to his hands. It was almost as if the blood was fresh…
“Damien, get the sword. This is personal.”
I grimaced, not even questioning why it was personal. There was definitely something I was missing but it wasn’t the time to question it. Isaac charged forward. As he did his staff erupted into flames; growing into an axe much like Deucalion’s. I gasped as their weapons collided; sparks flew and the sound of clashing metal filled the room. It was shocking that Isaac could even withstand Deucalion’s strength, he was basically twice his size!
It was hard to keep my hands from shaking as I ran past them and towards the throne. I spared a look at the two of them. Isaac was swinging at Deucalion. His staff seemed bigger and scarier than ever, not only because it had an axe head but because it was completely ablaze! Isaac screamed furiously as he hit Deucalion in the side, knocking him down.
It was only when I reached the throne that I realised it would be hard to reach the sword. I erected a pillar of ice that raised me up to the throne. I felt sick as I stood on it. Bones crunched underfoot. I had to climb up the back of the chair. It made me feel incredibly small, and sick. I didn’t know whether they were human bones or Daemon bones… Which would be worse?
I heard Isaac gasp loudly and I turned just before I reached the sword. Deucalion had recovered. He knocked Isaac back, causing him to fly across the room and hit a wall! “Isaac!” I gasped, unable to help myself. He landed and dropped to the floor. I was impressed when he didn’t even wince. He just stood back up, his staff still in hand.
The fire began engulfing his arms and torso. Thankfully it didn’t seem to be affecting him or his animalistic expression. Isaac brought his staff above his head, spinning it with a terrifying speed. The axe-head looked sharp enough to cut rock. “You deserve to die, Deucalion,” he said in a voice that would forever haunt me. “You served the worst Gods and you killed her!”
Deucalion just laughed. “I would do it again.”
Isaac let out a battle cry that was more terrifying than a thousand Daemons charging. He stopped spinning his staff and began running at Deucalion, ready to cut him down one and for all!
I turned away, wincing as I reached for the sword. It shrank at my touch.
As I turned back around a shock wave knocked me into the air. The sword flew from my hand as I crashed down, hitting the floor hard. All the air was blasted from my lungs and my ears rang…
Groaning, I tried to stand but only managed to get onto my knees. My whole body ached horribly. I opened my eyes slowly. I had landed in front of the throne; the sword was a few metres to my side. Isaac was standing where Deucalion was. His staff had gone back to being nothing but a staff. The fire was gone, leaving his shirt burned away and small parts of his blonde hair singed. He was breathing heavily. The strange black markings seemed strangely prominent.
“Isaac,” I said, trying to stand again. He was in front of me before I could react, swinging his staff and pushing me back down. I gasped in pain and shock… He was standing over me. “Stop!” I tried to shout, it came out as a croak.
He dropped his staff and pinned me down easily, punching me in the face. His strength caused darkness to crawl into the edge of my sight. He punched me two more times before I mustered the strength to knock him off me. I managed to get to my feet before he charged at me again.
It took a lot of effort to remain on my feet as he picked up his staff and hit me with it. I forced myself to stay upright because if I dropped to the ground it would be worse. More pathetic, more painful.
Isaac hit me twice before I managed to grab the staff. I don’t think he expected me to so it was easy to wrench it from his grasp. I threw it to the floor. As I did so, he punched me again, causing me to stumble backwards. Each punch felt as if it had every ounce of his strength behind it.
Weakly, I tried to hit him back. Unsurprisingly, he blocked the attack and pushed me down. I foolishly twisted my body as I fell. I landed on my hands and knees, crying out in pain. Who knew it would be my ally beating me instead of the Daemonic-King?
I looked at Isaac with tears in my eyes. His staff was back in his hands, the golden blade was ready to come down and kill me.
I bowed my head. I closed my eyes. I accepted death.
He didn’t smite me down. After a few long seconds I heard the staff drop to the floor. A few seconds more and I looked up.
Isaac was offering me his hand. I ignored it, standing up by myself with great difficulty. All the anger and strength seemed drained from him very suddenly. “What the hell was that, Isaac?” I asked calmly. Every part of me ached and stung.
“We all have Daemons inside of us Damien,” he told me. Despite how he had just almost killed me, it hurt me to see him like that; so ashamed and defeated despite how strong he had shown himself to be. “Sometimes it becomes impossible to keep them inside…”
That didn’t quite justify what he did but didn’t make a comment. I walked over to the sword, wincing when I bent over to pick it up. “I hope this was worth it,” I mumbled bitterly. The sword had jagged edges and was scarily dark. I didn’t understand what was so powerful about it but didn’t question it.
Isaac wearily picked up his staff. He looked very weak. I took off my jacket and handed it to him. It left me wearing just a shirt, but he smiled gratefully and put it on, covering his muscled chest and back.
Without saying a word about what happened, we walked slowly towards the door. I dreaded what we would see on the other side. Isaac opened it and the sound of sobbing could instantly be heard. Adrianna was holding onto Allyssa. She was obviously dead. Her eyes were closed and her torso and arm were burned horribly…
I gasped quietly as Daniel rushed to me, hugging me tightly. “Are you okay?” He asked. I could tell he was crying.
The hug was painful but I wouldn’t let him go… Why did I ever let him go? “I’m fine,” I whispered, holding back tears. I buried my face in his chest as if it could keep all the problems at bay. Allyssa was dead. I was almost beaten to death. Isaac was a monster… “It was just Deucalion,” I lied, looking at Isaac. Adrianna was hugging him now. I wondered if she knew how powerful he was. He could’ve killed me so easily. Why didn’t he? Maybe he wasn’t a monster.
Maybe Daemons do live in all of us. Maybe he just couldn’t keep his in anymore.
Thankfully, we got out of Deucalion’s realm quite quickly. It took a lot to get Adrianna to leave Allyssa behind, but it had to be done.
I stop as I reach the top of the stairs. Tessa and Jack are probably in one of their rooms. I should probably tell Tessa what happened last time in Deucalion’s realm but she has other things on her mind right now. She has to figure out how much of Jack was lost…
Sighing, I go to mine and Noah’s room. He isn’t here so I lay on the bed. I won’t be able to sleep but I close my eyes anyway. I hope Noah joins me. I need somebody here with me. There’s nothing wrong with needing somebody.