Death and all His Friends

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Smile like you mean it.

Thud.

The sudden sharp pain in my head stirred me awake and I opened my eyes, blinking frantically from the pain and the onslaught of images that temporarily ran through my mind.

After being yanked out of the strange dreamscape, I could still see bits and pieces in front of my eyes, only the colours were inverted. There was a beach, a girl with long black hair and a boy.

Raith.

I quickly sat up and rubbed my eyes, willing the strange images to go away so I could see clearly again.

Luckily, my eyes obeyed me and the dark green forest abrupty swam into focus so quickly that my head started to spin.

I fell forward onto my hands and knees, my pulse thumping uncomfortably in my temples as my cheast heaved. I was breathing eratically, sucking in the cold air like I was drowing.

The leaves and sharp twigs dug into my palms and I curled my fingers slowly, shutting my eyes as the cold dirt seeped under my fingernails.

What just happened? What was that?

My heart racing.

“Raith?” I called, the panic making my voice rise several octives higher.

I sat up again, alert this time as my eyes flew open end flicked back and forth, scanning the forest.

A strangled noise alerted my attention to my left and I felt the blood freeze in my veins as an electric current of fear ran through my body.

There, held up against one of the large trees, was Smile. He was staring at me with terrified large blue eyes as a hideous creature clenched a thin black claw around his neck.

I screamed and threw myself backwards, trying to get as far away as I could from the monster strangling the little boy.

I had never seen anything like it. The thing was a few heads taller than me, with skin as black as night and thin, skeletal arms and legs that looked like charred bones. Instead of hands and feet, it had black narrow claws that were several inches long and looked like razor sharp blades. It was like Edward Scissorhands but a billion times worse.

Along its back was a series of large, protruding spikes that ran along the length of its spine, and two enormous leathery black wings sprouted from between its narrow shoulderblades.

The thing let out a growl and Smile whimpered, flinching as the creature slammed him against the trunk of the tree again.

My eyes returned to the sharp claws that were clenched around Smile’s neck and my stomach twisted. Was that mosnter the thing that had attacked me?

Smile struggled against the creature that was holding him captive, but his small feeble arms were no match for the supernatural strength of the beast.

His terrified eyes met my own and he begged me to help him, his gaze pleading and distraught.

I didn’t know what to do.

I had inched so far backwards that my back was right against the fallen log and I couldn’t move back any further.

I couldn’t do anything! I couldn’t help him!

My heart was thumping so uncontrollably and fear paralysed me on the spot.

But I had to do something! I couldn’t just leave him!

I pushed the fear down to the pit of my stomach and sprung to my feet, grabbing a thick branch that was lying on the ground.

Then I ran towards the creature and swung, slamming the chunk of wood into its torso.

The thing let out a roar and released Smile, the small boy dropping to the floor with a loud thump.

“Come on!” I cried, grabbing the little boy’s hand and pulling him to his feet as the creature bent over in pain.

I hastened a glance at it and I felt the air leave my lungs.

It was staring at me with eyes as dark as the deepest night, pitch black except for two small white pupils.

Raith?

Smile tugged on my hand and my body moved mechanically while my brain went into shut down mode.

Raith was that monster?

My legs sprang into action and, with Smile’s hand firmly clasped in my own, we ran through the forest, over the fallen log, through the shrubbery and past the towering trees, running and running and running until my legs almost gave out from exhaustion and my lungs burst from the pain.

I was crying. I could feel the hot, salty tears running down my cheeks as we ran.

Smile’s small little hand felt cold and for a moment I thought I was dreaming. I only ever saw Smile in my dreams after all.

Maybe this is all a dream and I’ll wake up safe in my bed back in Fishbowl. Maybe all I had to do was tap my heels together and say ‘there’s no place like home.’

My foot slipped into an uneven hole and I fell, twisting my ankle with a snap.

Smile barely managed to let go of my hand to avoid joining my tumble but he saved himself at the last minute before I collapsed. Then he stood in front of me, starng as I sobbed, clutching my leg and wailing like fool.

“It’s okay Tegan.” He said quietly.

His voice startled me. It was soft and high and had an amazing melodious quality that was almost like music to my ears.

I continued to cry, my throat ragged and sore as I wailed and wailed like I was five again. I didn’t even know why I was crying. It just all seemed too much. All I wanted was to find Jess and go home. I couldn’t deal with all of this anymore. I couldn’t deal with this strange place and these strange people. Just when everything seemed to make sense, something had to come and mix things up again. I was just sick of it all.

Smile slowly sat down so that we were face to face.

I buried my head in my hands and cried even more.

Why was a boy from my dreams here in the world of the dead? Why did nothing go to plan?

I felt Smile put a small, cold hand on my ankle. The moment his skin touched mine, a soothing coolness spread through my foot and the pain faded away.

I slowly peaked at him through the gaps in my fingers and saw that my ankle was no longer red and swollen.

“Please don’t cry Tegan.” Smile said again, his huge eyes staring into me.

He had a light accent, but I couldn’t exactly place was it was. There was a touch of Italian im sure, but it didn’t sound like any typical Italian accent I had ever heard before.

Slowly my sobs started to ease and I was able to breath without gasping like a fish out of water.

I rubbed my face with my hands, feeling embarrassed at my stupid little break down.

“I’m sorry.” I muttered, my voice thick and my nose blocked and stuffy.

“It’s okay Tegan.” Smile said calmly.

He had a serene expression on his pale little face, and his lips were curled into a patient smile.

“You know, I didn’t realise you could speak?” I said with a hollow laugh.

“I chose not to speak in your dreams. Words have a certain power to them, and should be used wisely.” He said cryptically.

His eyes were old. I could see that now. They were the eyes of a boy from a time long ago.

“What are you?” I whispered, my eyes glued to my healing ankle.

“I am an angel.” Smile said simply.

What?

I stared at him, unable to believe my ears.

This little boy, in a white, one piece clown suit and jester hat, was an angel?

A small part of me felt afraid. The only other angel I’d met was Babu and he wasn’t exactly a pocket full of sunshine. Smile, on the other hand, seemed harmless. In fact, he seemed to fit the criteria of a guardian angel more than Babu did.

“Are you my guardian angel?” I asked him softly.

Smile shook his head and the small bells on the tips of his hat jingled from the movement.

“Not technically.” He explained. “You sister asked me to look after you on her way to the Beyond.”

His words made the blood drain from my face.

“Megan…asked you to…”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“She told me that she loved you dearly and begged me to do her this one favour. I promised I would guide you in your dreams, and protect you from the fears of your heart. It was only recently that I couldn’t fulfil that promise.”

I started to tremble, my mind racing.

Megan told him to protect me? Was Smile the reason I was able to lock away that part of my life so easily? More importantly, would my life have been different if Smile hadn’t protected me? If I had dealt with my demons and fears the natural way, would I have been a different person?

“Where is Megan now? Is she…is she also an angel?” I asked, hanging on his every word.

“No, but she is no doubt in heaven. She was a beautiful soul, shinning with purity and innocence. She ran from the Dance of Souls and into the forest because she couldn’t move beyond this place, not until she was sure that her beloved twin sister would be okay. She never forgot you Tegan. She never blamed you.”

The tears were coming again and I clenched my fists, taking deep, haggard breaths as I listened to him talk about my sister.

A small part of me wanted to doubt him. There was the possibility that Smile was lying to me. Everyone seemed to be lying to me these days. But then another part of me was sure he was telling the truth, and it was this part that won out in the end.

It was starting to make sense now; why this strange little boy had popped up in my dreams after Megan was gone. I remembered I used to sit with him in an imaginary garden in my dreams, and talk for hours on end. He would never talk back to me. He’d just listen as I poured out my heart and soul. I’d never talk about Megan though, not even to myself. I’d dream about her, but I would never utter her name, or speak about her. I didn’t want to. It hurt too much. But back then, that was all everyone wanted to talk about; everyone except Smile. Smile never spoke. Smile never pressured me. I hadn’t been ready to talk about Megan and he helped me bottle that away. He buried my pain because he knew how much it hurt me to think about the part of me that had died.

“Thank you.” I whispered, finally looking back at Smile. “Thank you for telling me this.”

It was a weird feeling, finding solace in a little boy I thought I had dreamt up. It made my heart ache and triggered the dull pain of loss that I had held onto for so long.

The feeling was short lived when a sudden rustling sound made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Brief memories of that hideous creature returned to me and I shuddered.

“Smile…that thing back there…” I began, staring into the deep brown eyes of the circus boy. “Was that really Raith?”

The atmosphere suddenly changed.

Smile’s warm eyes narrowed and his expression became icy. There was something eerie about such a manevolent expression on such a young boy’s face. A boy who looked so pure and innocent shouldn’t be capable of having so much hate.

“He’s dangerous.” Smile said between clenched teeth.

I nodded, although Smile must have seen the doubt in my eyes because he continued.

“You don’t truly understand how dangerous he is. That monster back there was Raith’s true form. He has been using you since the beginning.”

Smile’s gaze didn’t falter, although mine did.

I cleared my throat uncertainly, letting his harsh words wash over me.

“Using me? What do you mean?” I asked, afraid of what he might say next.

“Why do you think Raith never confronted Babu or got him to leave you alone?” Smile demanded, his eyes flashing with rage.

“I…I don’t know.” I mumbled.

“He needed you to be afraid of Babu so that you would come to rely on him. He has been manipulating you so that you would give him a place to stay while he hides from the Death Lords.”

I shook my head.

“I don’t believe it.” I said stubbornly. I couldn’t believe that after everthing we’ve been through, Raith would treat me like that.

“Think about it Tegan. He’s never done anything to try and help you with the Babu situation.”

“Smile, I trust Raith okay? And I know he wouldn’t do anything to hurt me. He’s my friend.” I said sharply.

“If he’s such a good friend then why has he been hiding things from you? Why hasn’t he told you what he’s done? Why hasn’t he told you who Scara is?”

That brought me up short. I didn’t know what to say. I just sat there, with my mouth hanging open as doubt crept into my mind.

Scara…

“Well you’re not exactly a saint either.” I said quickly, trying to regain my composure despite my misgivings. “You’re the one who made Raith have that seizure back there aren’t you? I’m not an idiot. Why else would Raith attack you like that?”

Smile looked surprised.

“You’re defending that beast for almost killing me?” the little boy whispered incredulously.

“I’m not defending him but-”

“I had to show you his past. You wanted answers right? I had to make him relive his past for you to see what you needed to see.”

“That’s just cruel.” I whispered. “I didn’t have to see him being beaten by his stepdad.”

“I had no control over what memories he would see when I put him under the trance. I was hoping you would see what happened with Scara.”

My head was a whirlwind of information and confusion.

Smile was so certain that he was right about Raith.

“I still can’t believe he’s been manipulating me this whole time.” I said eventually.

Smile nodded but there was sadness in his eyes that ran deep.

“Do you remember that time when Babu kicked you out the window?” He said softly. “You didn’t fall the whole way. Something stopped you midfall so that the full impact wouldn’t kill you. Who do you think did that?”

Raith let me fall from the window?

All the confused voices in my head fell silent.

If that was true, then Raith must have been watching the whole time Babu was threatening me. He just stood by while Babu kicked me to my almost death. He let that happen so I would be afraid. All those times when Babu had been terrorising me; pouring blood into my bed and filling my room with bones…had Raith seen all that too?

The dread that was growing in my gut suddenly grew stronger.

It was a new kind of sadness that I felt. It wasn’t from sense of loss I was used to. This sadness came from the betrayal of the one person I thought would never hurt me.

~

Smile took my hand and led me through the forest, just like in my dreams.

It was eerie how similar the forest looked to the one I was accustomed to in my nightmares. It made a strange feeling of unease settle over my shoulders, like I was waiting for the inevitable to strike.

The little boy walked with confidence, like he knew exactly where it was that he wanted to take me. He dragged me along like I was a limp ragdoll, weaving this was and that as my dull eyes took in tree after tree in this emerald maze.

We moved into a deeper part of the forest. The trees were packed much closer together, making it hard for me to walk without tripping on upturned roots that twisted and turned on the forest floor.

It smelt damper here, and the air was chilly and moist like it had rained recently. The colours were different too. There was a steady transgression of red to orange, then orange to yellow, then yellow to green. The trees became sturdier and covered in green moss, and strange pale vines twisted up and down the tree trunks like skinny snakes.

The ground was no longer littered with leaves, but instead pebbly and damp with dark rich soil. Every now and again, small ferns and shrugs would obscure the way, and we’d have to side step them and avoice trampling on the various other leafy, dark green foliage littering the ground.

I was surprised that it took me over ten minutes of walking before I realised that we were now trekking through a lush, green rainforest.

We continued to walk and eventually I heard the sound of water in the background, the soft trinkle breaking the still silence that cast a spell around Smile and I.

There were enormous, moss covered boulders up ahead, framing what appeared to be a pool of water that was being fed from a trickle of water rolling of the pile of boulders that stretched up high over the hilltop to my right.

We walked closer and the sight left me breathless.

The pond was beautiful.

It was a large, glossy sheet of water that stretched out many metres before me, about a quarter of the size of a small football field and framed by marshy maroon reeds and large stone boulders. The surface of the pond was partially covered in small circular lilypads and white lotuses. The sections of water that I could see, however, were crystal clear, reflecting the rich green of the tree tops above.

This place had a strange power over me. There was a magic about it, a magic about the placidity of those still waters and the sound of the falling water from high above. It was captivating. It felt like I had opened a door to something more, something that I only ever felt in half remembered dreams.

“The water is drawing you in.” Smile said beside me, squeezing my limp hand.

I moved forward without conscious thought, but Smile stopped me.

“You need to resist it. Many souls have been lured into this pool of water. It is greedy.”

I shivered, tearing my eyes away from the mesmerising sight.

“What do you mean?” I asked the little boy, staring at the bells on the tips of his jester hat.

“I’m not too sure what it is about this pool of water, but once you fall in, you can never come out. No one knows what happens to those who lie beneath its depths.”

I sighed and rubbed my eyes tiredly. I guess it was just another mystery to add to my growing list.

I watched as Smile looked up at me and gave me one of his trademark glowing smiles.

It was weird though. It didn’t touch me the same way it used to. I didn’t feel the familiar feeling of comfort that I did in my dreams.

Smile must have realised the same thing because his smile faded and I abruptly looked away.

I let go of Smile’s hand and approached the pool of water. The little boy followed behind me and together we both sat down on one of the large flat stones that were conveniently placed around the water’s edge, like little benches.

Smile leaned down and cupped his hands into the pool. I watched as he raised his submerged hands out of the water and drank the crystal clear liquid in his palms.

I guess he could touch the water, being an angel and not a feeble little soul like I.

I twisted so that I was kneeling on the flat stone ledge and looked into the lake.

My reflection stared back at me, only it wasn’t me. It certainly looked like me, but the girl in the water was a much more beautiful.

At that moment I think I understood how Narcissis felt when he fell in love with his reflection. The girl in front of me breathtaking.

Everything seemed to fade at once; everything except the cold, clear depths of the shimmering lake. The girl was trying to tell me something. She was speaking but I could’t hear her.

I leaned forward, my eyes glued to her moving lips as the girl in the water spoke. What was she trying to tell me? What secrets did she want to share?

Her lips moved again and I caught a whisper of her voice. If only I could get a little closer. If only I could hear her.

I leaned down even further, inching closer and closer towards the water until I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.

I turned and screamed as Raith suddenly appeared beside me and clenched his right hand around Smile’s throat.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” He growled, lifting Smile up with superhuman strength and holding him over the deathly water.

Raith! Stop it!” I screamed, watching in horror as Smile dangled precariously over the pond, the tips of his slippers mere inches from the water.

“You don’t understand. This little shit was trying to kill you! You’ll die if you touch that water!” Raith yelled back at me.

“What are you talking about? I wasn’t going to touch it!” I shouted back.

“You were about to dive in you idiot!” Raith shouted.

He turned to look at me and I flinched at his soulless black eyes.

“What…what are you?” I whispered, remembering the black creature from before. I started to tremble as my eyes flicked to his right hand that was currently choking Smile.

There was something wrong with his fingers. They were grossly elongated and black, ending in razor sharp claws that looked like blades.

I couldn’t breathe. This wasn’t possible.

“Raith, you need to tell me right now what is going on!” I shouted, standing up slowly and backing away.

“Tegan, you need to trust me on this.” Raith said, his eyes never leaving my own.

“How am I supposed to trust you when you’ve been using me this whole time?” I cried, my breathing eratic as I desperately tried to figure out what to do.

“Is that what he told you?” Raith said darkly, shaking Smile like he was a limp rag doll.

“He just confirmed what I already suspected. You were just using me to hide from whatever it is you’re running from! Is it true that you didn’t stop Babu from hurting me so that I would depend on you?” I demanded.

“I couldn’t do anything! It was never meant to be like that-”

“But that’s what happened isn’t it?” I screamed.

When Raith didn’t say anything, I felt like the wind was knocked out of my lungs. I stumbled backwards and leaned against one of the boulders for support.

“Tegan-” Raith began but I cut him off.

“Let Smile go and tell me what’s going on!” I shouted.

“Tegan, I-”

“No more excuses!”

I suddenly climbed onto the flat rocky ledge I had been kneeling on before and stared down at the water.

“Raith, I swear to god if you don’t tell me what is going on, I’m going to jump.” I said with full seriousness. Deep down my brain was having a seizure.

Tegan Michaels, are you crazy?

No. I need to do this.

Tegan, you moron, this isn’t worth killing yourself over! Get a grip!

Shut up brain! This is the only way!

Like hell it is!

Raith is going to kill Smile!

So what? Save yourself! Run for it!

No!

Raith was watching me, his eyes cold and calculating. I returned his gaze head on.

“I’ll do it, whether you believe me or not.” I whispered. There was no way I was going to be able to get Jess back if I didn’t know what I was up against. I needed know that Raith was hiding from me.

“Don’t Tegan!” He cried.

I took a deep breath and edged forward, allowing myself to be hypnotised by the calm water.

My reflection nodded at me encouragingly, and held out her arms as if to pull me down into a deep watery embrace.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

My toes reached the edge of the stone.

It wouldn’t be so bad, to sleep forever beneath this cool calm lake. At least there, nothing would harm me.

“Tegan stop. I’ll tell you want you want to know.”

There was a defeated acceptance in his voice and I felt relief course through my veins.

I opened my eyes and looked over at Raith.

Smile was no longer dangling over the pool of water. Instead, he was standing back on solid ground. Raith was stood beside him, tooking tense and flexing his right hand which had returned back to normal. As I watched him, his eyes slowly changed into the deep familiar green I knew so well, but I was still weary.

“You can start by telling me who Scara is.” I said coldly.

Smile walked over to me and held onto my hand, while I waited for Raith to answer.

Raith took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Then, reluctantly, he began his story.

~

He had met her on the beach a few years ago, on one of those lazy summer days that seem to last forever. There was something about her that captivated him. Perhaps it was the tragic way in which she spoke, or the manic gleam in her eyes.

Whatever it was, Raith was overcome with something he hadn’t felt before. It was the feeling of connection, of sharing something profound with someone. They were both broken.

She was missing her memories. She remembered nothing, the way it was meant to be. The only problem was that she felt something. She discovered it when she was first reborn into Purgatory. She awoke on that table and felt the stirring of nausea in her stomach, the way they all felt when they woke. She leaned over and threw up but it was in that act that she felt it, the tinge of familiarity that stirred in her mind. It was comforting, but at the same time, scary.

She couldn’t think of anything else. The sense of duty that was instilled in all the other denizens of Purgatory was not present in Scara. Perhaps it was that inkling of a memory that drove all other feelings out, but a yearning for knowledge possessed her.

She neglected her duties. She ran away from them all. She hid in remote places and pondered for hours on end.

She would eat and then force it back up, revelling in that strange comforting feeling. Had she been bulimic when she died? Is that why it felt so right?

She was a damaged girl, and Raith would often wonder what she had done to be given the role of a Reaper.

She had let him into her little world, and although she loved him, she also envied him. He remembered his life. He knew where he came from and how he died. She would give anything to know. In the end, that’s what she did.

She made a deal with an angel, although Raith had no idea about this until much later. If he had known about the deal, maybe he wouldn’t have agreed to help her uncover her past, but by the time he found out it was too late and there was no turning back.

The angel was called Babu and like Raith, he had fallen hopelessly in love with the strange girl. She had met him before Raith. In fact, he was the first person she had met in Purgatory. He had been there when she woke up but he had also been there when she chose to run away.

He was meant to act as her guide, to convince her to do her duty to God, but he pitied Scara. He saw the pain in her eyes – it was a pain he had seen so many times in the eyes of the suffering. He had an unbending loyalty to God, but he was an angel who wanted to rid the world of pain. That, and his heart was loyal to Scara, whether she knew it or not.

He convinced her to return to the Death Lords, as long as he returned to her a piece of her memory. A small piece. She said it would be enough. At least that’s what she thought.

He knew her past. He knew because he had been her guardian angel once upon a time. That’s why the Death Lords thought he could talk sense into her; because he had known her ever since she was a child.

He travelled back to her house and retrieved a single ring; a thin, silver filigree ring that had been given to her on her sixteenth birthday by her father before he passed away from terminal cancer.

He returned to Scara and gave it to her. He embedded the ring with a memory; a small memory. It was the memory of the beach. Every summer her family would take her to the beach, and she and her two little brothers would play in the sand and surf from dusk til dawn.

It was the memory of the beach and two little boys that he gave to Scara. He thought it would be enough, but he was wrong.

Scara wanted more. She wasn’t satisfied with this small memory. She became greedy.

Babu couldn’t give her anything else. It was already against the rules to retrieve memories and objects from a Reaper’s past. He had put himself on the line for her because he loved her dearly. He was enraged. She had promised him that she would return if he did this for her, but she didn’t.

He tried to take the ring back but she refused to give it up, claiming that she’d tell the Death Lords what he had done. He couldn’t take that risk, and so he left her.

Scara didn’t care.

She treasured the ring with her heart and soul. She’d sit on the beach every day and relive the fragment of memory Babu had brought her. That was until Raith came.

Raith agreed to help her uncover her past. Together, they travelled the world, walking the beaches of every continent, hoping one would match the hazy memory in Scara’s head. She lied to Raith about the ring. She said she had woken up wearing it. She didn’t want him to know the truth behind it, although she didn’t know why. It was just a feeling she had, like some secrets shouldn’t be shared. She loved him though, of that she was sure, and he loved her too.

They searched for many years. Raith kept up with his duties to the Death Lords but he met Scara at every chance he could. The Death Lords thought Raith was trying to convince Scara to return to the fold, not the other way round. They eventually found out.

They tracked down Scara, and the three Death Lords decided that she needed to be disposed of. She was of no use to them if she would not fulfil her duties or listen to reason. They refused to return her memories because they knew she would try and contact those from her past, which was absolutely forbidden. They believed they had no choice.

Tomb was the one designated to do the job. He was the weakest of the three, but it wouldn’t require a lot of strength to get rid of her. It wasn’t uncommon for something like this to happen, and so they knew exactly that they needed to do.

Tomb found her at the beach the next day. She was always at the beach.

She must have known it would happen, but she was willing to pay the price. Without an identity, Scara felt she was nothing.

When Raith found out what they were going to do, he was too late. Babu told him their plans only minutes before it happened. He also told Raith about the true nature of the ring, and begged him to get it back from Scara before the Death Lords found it and found out he was partially responsible for Scara’s quest for her identity. Raith didn’t care about that. He only wanted to find Scara.

He arrived at the beach the instant she died. He saw her fall to her knees in front of the dark, hooded figure of Tomb. He saw her head hit the sand and her body go limp. He watched as she disintegrated into a haze of black smoke leaving behind nothing but the thin silver ring.

He couldn’t explain what happened next. He didn’t understand it himself.

All he knew was that he was overcome with anger; a terrible anger that ran through his whole body like a massive wave of energy.

He ran at Tomb and let loose his anger. He let loose his feeling of upmost sorrow and betrayal at loosing the one person he had ever loved in his entire life. The sand started to rise as he ran. The waves turned turbulent and there was a dull ringing noise in the air.

Then, when the rage built up so great that it felt like it was going to burst out of him, it did. He never made it to Tomb before there was a blast. Shock waves of energy exploded all around him and he screamed, his tormented voice echoing and adding to the chaos. It felt like he was dying all over again. He felt like he was being ripped to shreds. The pressure in his head suddenly reached a climax and he passed out, falling forward onto the soft sand; onto the sand she had loved so dearly.

When he woke up again, he was alone on the beach.

Parts of the sand were black and still smoking, and around him were charred bits of driftwood crumbling into ash. He slowly raised his head and saw, several metres in front of him, the crumpled remains of a black cloak, still alight with a ghostly blue fire.

Raith had killed Tomb. He had killed one of the three Death Lords. He knew he was in trouble.

The Death Lords had existed for as long as Purgatory itself. They were the true immortals. They were invincible.

Raith didn’t know the connotations of killing one of them. It had never been done before. But he didn’t care.

He crawled towards the burning cloak and stared at the object partially embedding in the sand before it.

It was Scara’s ring.

He picked it up and starred at it in the dying light of dusk.

It was all that was left of her, this object that didn’t belong in their world of the dead. He hated it. It was the thing that had kept her consumed in her quest for knowledge all these years, the thing that tied her to the world of the living; a place she didn’t belong in anymore.

He stood up and clutched it tightly in his hand. He wanted to throw it into the ocean. He wanted to throw it into the icy cold depths so that it would disappear forever. But he couldn’t. He just couldn’t.

So he put it in his pocket and disappeared.

He moved around a lot, staying in obscure little towns that no one had really heard of. He knew they were looking for him, but he was scared. He didn’t know what they would do to him. The thought of dying in death was possibly worse than dying in life. He didn’t know what to expect this time. Then again, he thought he would go straight to hell when he chose to end his life the first time.

Raith also knew that Babu was looking for him. Babu wanted to get ring back to erase the proof that he was also responsible for helping Scara; he wanted to hide the fact that by giving her a small piece of her memory, he had fuelled her passion to find out more. Raith wouldn’t do it. He wouldn’t give up the one thing that was left of her. The one thing she had treasured had become the one thing he now treasured.

Babu eventually found him on top of a tall building in the small town of Fishbowl. It was the roof of one of the tallest sections of a school.

They ended up fighting, first verbally and then physically when both were lost for words. They fought all night and into the day, until Babu knocked Raith unconscious off the ledge of the building.

He landed on the roof of another wing of the school with such force that he fell through the tiles and concrete and into the girls’ bathroom. That was when he met me, but also when he lost the ring.

It was by coincidence that Babu was also the guardian angel of Sabrina and he considered it lucky that Raith had chosen to come to the town Babu had been watching over. He was relieved when Sabrina picked up the ring and kept it. She had earned herself a new piece of jewelry and the cursed ring would disappear into her box of pretty trinkets, just another shiny thing to add to her collection and nothing more. Babu thought he was finally safe and the ring would be forgotten.

But Raith couldn’t survive without the ring. His emotions took a physical toll on his body and that’s why he used me to get it back for him.

Then he decided to stay, because he was tired of running for so long.


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