Eris leafed through the book, slowly at first and then quickly. There was nothing much to see other than that symbol on page three, and that was why Eris tore the page of and decided to take it with him. No one would be able to find out it was Eris.
Eris then decided to take the route the old man had come by. He moved a few books around, guessing that would lead him to the entrance of the secret tunnel. For once, he was right. The tunnel was quite small, and Eris would have to bend and go through.
Eris went inside and the covered the entrance, neatly placing the books as they were placed earlier.
The tunnel was lined with symbols that were unfamiliar to Eris. There were also ghastly paintings of some rituals of some ancient cult. One of them showed a group of people sitting in a circle. Instead of human heads, they had red demon like heads with curvy fangs. In the centre was a man with a chalice in his hand.
Another painting depicted the ritual the king went through every week. The children lined up outside the city gates.
As Eris walked down the never ending tunnel, he saw various grotesque depictions of worship in different ways.
Eris could see the rays of daylight. The beginning of the tunnel was nearing. Warily Eris stepped out into the sunlight, wondering where he would be.
What he saw around him surprised him. He was on the very edge of the kingdom. In his vicinity, he sensed a cornfield, and also one tiny cottage.
Eris walked towards the cottage, wondering who would be there, but it was deserted. It looked like the people had left in a hurry, as if pursued by someone.
Just then, Eris heard the thud of horse hooves against the cobblestones. The king seemed to be in a hurry. He thundered down the road towards the forest. Eris decided it was time to find out what was going on. He followed the king into the forest. And that was how Eris came to find Rogue and Aerys hiding on his tree. Eris decided it was enough, they wouldn't have to hide from the king anymore.
Eris flew up to their hiding place and covered them with wings. They wouldn't be seen.
As for Rogue and Aerys, they felt a slight ripple in the air, and suddenly they were covered in a white velvety structure.
“What is this?” Rogue asked, her confusion mirroring that on the face of Aerys.
“I don't know, but whatever it is, it is protecting us.” Aerys said. It seemed like ages, but Eris finally spread open his wings. It was time to reveal himself to these humans who seemed to have done something to the king.
Suddenly, it struck Eris. The king had spoken about Satan. In the courtyard, near the palace. He had forced the people to renounce their faith in the Akan religion and promoted Satanism. Eris cursed himself for being so stupid. Maybe there was a connection between the pentacle and Satan. The pentacle and the king. All of it didn't make sense now, but maybe that was because it was in pieces. Eris was sure it would make sense in a while.
Well, that could come later Eris thought as he shifted his attention to the humans who were now trying to climb down the tree.
Eris felt a weird feeling actually going to talk to a human. He revealed himself to Rogue and Aerys.
Rogue screamed while Aerys took a step back in shock.
“What is going on?” Aerys asked shocked.
“I am Eris, an angel.” Eris said slightly amused at the shock he was creating.
“So all of it is true. The gods are on earth once again?” Rogue said coming out of her shock.
“What? No. I'm an angel.”
“What?” Rogue said perplexed.
“He's and angel Rogue. Those humanoid creatures with white feathery wings and all. Am I right?” Aerys said nodding towards Eris.
“Yes, basically I am here to protect you puny humans, and also I am on the side of life and I happen to be helping you, so no need to look so worried.”
“Oh, so was it you who covered us up in that tree? “Rogue asked suddenly remembering the white structure that had protected them up in the tree.
“Yes, who did you think?”
“I don't know.” Aerys said.
Rogue and Aerys were shocked and amazed that such a mythical creature actually existed. Myth had said in many scrolls that angels did exist, but they had never anticipated actually seeing a real angel. She remembered reading about how an angel was supposed to be the anti-thesis of demons, like night and day. One couldn't live without the other. But Rogue decided to save the question for another time.
“So, will you help us?” Aerys said voicing the question on Rogue's mind.
Eris sat deep in thought. Helping these humans would mean embroiling himself in their petty problems. Did he really want that?
He sighed” I will.”
“First of, we need to go hide somewhere far away and then plan on taking the king down.” Rogue said.
“Okay” Eris said. They would need help taking down the king. But first things first.
“Do you know this symbol?” Eris asked taking out the manuscript page he had torn. The one with the fiery red pentacle.
Rogue gasped, memories flooding her mind. Guilt as well. Rogue thought of the blade, the blood, the gore. The way she had killed her father. The way she had etched the pentacle on the wall. Realization hit her that Eris must have witnessed the murder or at least the murder scene.
“It is Satan's symbol, Satan the demon. Your anti thesis.” Rogue said at last, her face giving away no emotions.
Fear coursed through his body as he heard those words. His antithesis a demon?
Over the years, Eris had come to believe that his opposite was the grim reaper. Not that Eris had cared much, but the reaper didn't seem to care even a little about him. He had never actually talked to Eris, and so Eris had soon forgot about his paranoia of finding his opposite.
One evening, Eris had suddenly noticed that everyone had their other half, every coin had its other side. Everything had an opposite. What about Eris?
“Hello” Rogue said snapping her fingers in front of Eris' face.
“Yeah, was just thinking. How can you be so sure about the demon?”
“I read in a scroll that you were destined to kill each other.”
Just great. She had to say that didn't she. Eris was a coward, and facing the demon wasn't something even brave could do.
“We have to find him and kill him then?” Eris said uncertainly.
“Of course or do you want him to come to you?” Aerys spoke up suddenly.
“We should hide and then find him.” Rogue said finally. The conversation was over, they had to find their way out of the forest as soon as possible. They couldn't risk another altercation with the king.
“So you coming or not?” Aerys asked Eris.
“Yes” Eris said sighing. This was going to be one tough journey. Eris was sure he was going to regret this decision.
They moved forward, Eris scouting the way ahead and protecting them from any danger. He remained hidden all the time, appearing visible only for Aerys and Rogue.
As he flew above, Eris though over things. Sure they said that demons were his anti-thesis, but who knows if that scroll was right. There maybe was still hope left for him. Demons, or fallen angels denote the devil or even some evil spirits. "Diabolus enim et alii daemones" (The devil and the other demons), all are demons, and the chief of the demons is called the devil This distinction is observed, where diabolus represents the Greek diabolos and in almost every instance refers to Satan himself, while his subordinate angels are described, in accordance with the Greek, as daemones or daemonia.
But Eris knew nothing about all of this, and obliviously he would fall prey to the myths and lore.
Suddenly Eris gestured to Eris and Aerys to hide and he quickly disappeared in front of the humans.
The king rode into the clearing, the anger on his face was evident as he talked to the soldiers around him.
“You fools, where are they?”
The guards shuffled their feet in fear and tried looking anywhere except at the king. “We don't know your majesty.”
“Fools. Go find them” he screamed in anger.
Eris silently waited for the king to ride away towards Ashanti. They had to be careful now, the forest would be teeming with the soldiers.
He gestured to Rogue and Aerys to come out, but they still crouched low, warily looking around the forests, trying to see where the soldiers went. It then struck Eris that they couldn't see him.
Making himself visible he said,”Come on now.”
They stood up and walked out.
“That was close” Aerys said.
They walked on for miles and miles, not getting anywhere. The forests were extremely thick and dense. Moreover, it was now teeming with soldiers as well as fearsome beasts that threatened to be the end of Rogue and Aerys.
They walked on and on, the trees getting greener and taller as they went deeper and deeper into the forest. Hardly anyone ventured so deep into the forest, and the undisturbed beauty of the trees and birds was the epitome of serenity. The tree barks were gnarled and ancient, stretching far and wide across the forest floor.
It was almost night time, and as they sat around the campfire Eris decided to tell them a story.
“The last kingdom I was in was an ancient Indian kingdom. But leaving those details aside, I was once sitting near a pedlars cart when I first heard those words, “Ab pachatae hoot kya jab chidiya chug gayi khet.” In simple language, those words mean why repent an action when time passes. An alter to the 'Dont cry over spilt milk proverb. As time passed, I repeatedly heard that hindi saying again and again. It was only until later when I truly understood the meaning of the saying. I truly understood it when I met Iftar. Or actually saw him. He was a Muslim, who would pray fervently at certain intervals. He was a god fearing man, but also happened to be in the king’s army. He was an ardent supporter to the king and was a very loyal person to the king. He could dream of no other thing than serving his majesty. Once, there was a battle. In that battle, Iftar managed to lose one of the elephants onto his own soldiers. He was dismissed from the king’s service. He cried and cried in dismay, repenting his deed for years to come. You see, Iftar had two children. One was 7 and the other 15. The fifteen-year-old had to forsake education all because Iftar couldn't get over his sin. He couldn't move on. One bright morning, Iftar woke up to his wife wiling. His oldest son had been badly injured while working in the forest to earn a loving. It was then, standing by the doctors at his son’s bedside that Iftar truly understood what had led to this. If he had stopped repenting and moved on, this situation would never have arisen. Iftar so became a pedlar, moving from door to door. And from him only did I hear the proverb for the first and last time. Iftar's story may not seem interesting. It isn't, but what one must come to understand is that to repent is no good. It is just better to let go. Why cry over spilt milk when you can start over. What I want to say is that have the courage to move on. Have the courage to start over”
There was silence, as each one of them digested the words that Eris had just said.