The girl tried to breathe but her lungs were being crushed by some invisible force. Her body began to feel numbed and weakness filled her legs, making her lose her balance and fall back to her chair. She heard Vergil’s voice in the distance ordering the newcomer to stop but the pressure never left, only intensified.
Just as her vision blurred and began filling with black dots, the queen’s voice saved her.
“Come now, stop it,” Lilith ordered to nothing in particular. “Don’t you see you’re scaring young Mina to death?” she declared while levitating a couple of ribs to her plate and taking one to her red lips.
The dark force crushing the princess’ lungs vanished, letting her take some ragged breaths before she could breathe with normality again.
“I was just testing the abilities of our Chosen One.” A deep male voice echoed around the dining room a moment before mismatched eyes— the left one was black with no iris but the right one revealed a vivid, golden iris inside a dark sea— appeared from within the shadows.
“Don’t you dare stake a claim over her after you almost kill her!” Vergil growled and stood protectively behind his wife’s seat. “If you ever pull a stunt like that again I will rip you apart myself. Do you hear me, leech?”
“It’s that so?” A male with grayish pale skin and enormous black bat wings suddenly appeared at the other side of the dinner table, baring his fangs and hissing at them.
Mina screamed in surprise and jumped in her seat. The sudden appearance of the newcomer had scared the hell out of her. Panic tried to take root but as the adrenaline ran inside her veins, a warm energy filled her and pushed the fear out of her body. Her mind cleared, showing her possible outcomes if she didn’t take control of the situation.
She felt her demon husband move behind her and quickly grabbed his hand, stopping his advance. “Stop you two right now!” she ordered, squeezing Vergil’s hand but gazing into the other demon’s eyes without wavering.
“Mina.” Her prince’s voice sounded a bit annoyed.
“Please, husband.” She looked up into his red orbs, silently pleading him to calm down. You got badly injured this morning. Please don’t pick another fight for today! Her mental voice was loud enough for him to hear her.
“Saleh.” He kissed her on the forehead and put his hands over her shoulders as if he was some kind of animal marking his territory.
“Good.” Lilith forced a smile and, looking at the stranger, moved the chair beside him. “Sit down and tell us what brings you here, Gaap.” She then gave one look at her son and the boy took his seat beside the human girl.
Mina’s mind stopped the moment the demoness mentioned the name Gaap. What? HE is one of the four kings of Hell? The one who rules the south?
The creature in question stared at her while he took a sip of the red wine that a maid brought him. “Looks like our little Chosen One has recognized my name,” he said, smirking and leaving his queen without an answer. “Tell me… is it true that you’re a scholar?”
His eyes were strange enough but his regal-slash-goth style was even weirder. Long golden hair was pulled up in a high ponytail while a thin, silver crown rested atop his head and rows of silver hoops adorned both his pointy ears.
“Why do you keep calling me the Chosen One?”
“Because nothing!” Vergil shouted as he stood up. He looked to her new bodyguard behind her and yelled another order. “You there, take the princess to my room and make sure she eats. Now!”
“¿Qué? ¡Noo!” She raised her voice and faced him. “You can’t shush me and lock me away as if I were a child! What are all of you hiding from me? Answer me or I swear to God that you will regret it, Vergil Larsa!”
He stared at her. Her eyes were golden when she screamed the last part. Waves of raw divine power pulsed from her hands putting every demon in the room in a state of high alert. That kind of power could be dangerous even to high ranking demons such as his mother, Gaap or himself.
Swallowing his pride and rage, he motioned for Aaron to stop and grabbed his wife’s hands. “Calm down, dove,” he barely said, bearing the pain of having his flesh being slowly burned away without making a sound.
Her gaze softened for a second before she answered furiously and her hands grew hotter. “Dove? Stop trying to sweet talk me!” But when she saw and smelled the little trail of smoke rising from their hands, she opened her eyes wide and stepped away from him. “I... I will retreat to your room.” Hanging her head so they couldn’t see her eyes brimming with tears, she took her food and walked away escorted by her new demonic bodyguard.
Vergil sighed and looked at his burned palms. All the skin had been melted away leaving the muscles completely visible. He took his seat and waited until they regenerated to start eating the steak in his plate.
“A feisty princess you got there. She reminds me of my Luzbel,” Gaap said to the prince before asking for more blood to fill his cup and changing the subject. “I never had the opportunity of tasting human flesh before. Is it true that is just as delicious and tender as the first sin?”
Catching the double meaning, Lilith interrupted. “I will not ask you a third time, Gaap.” Her eyes turned red with bright yellow irises. “What. The hell. Are you doing here?”
The mood inside the room suddenly turned serious as the Governor of Southern Hell gazed into the demonic eyes of his high queen. “Lu didn’t want me to tell you but I think that it’s of vital importance that I do because you’re the one in possession of the Chosen One.” He paused to take another sip of blood and continued. “Hell is under civil unrest, my lady. Word of you having the human chosen by the One God has spread like wildfire and there are some devils that want to swarm the human plane as soon as we have the Key.”
“But we have to wait until the right time. Even if we got the Key tomorrow we would have to wait for the signs.”
“I know.” The governor put his cup down and leaned in his seat. “Every high demon of Lucifer’s inner circle knows but the masses...”
“The masses are stupid. Demons or humans, they are always stupid,” Vergil cut in, drinking the red liquid that Mina though it was wine. If only she knew why he stopped her from eating anything from the table... “What can we do?”
“That’s exactly what I have come to discuss.”
The night view from the top of the so called Empire State building was gorgeous. No wonder so many humans come here to take pictures. From the exact point he was standing one could see almost the entire city. The countless skyscrapers gleaming in the night with millions of little lights, making it look as a sea of stars over the earth. The vast river that ran between modern buildings, shattered the concrete forest with a little bit of nature. Above them could be seen the dark navy blue sky with only a few clouds to adorn it because no star was strong enough to shine over the sparkling beauty of the human metropolis.
A true paradise on Earth for some and the darkest corner of Hell for others.
“Benvenuto, brother,” he said to the presence that arrived earlier than expected to their meeting.
“Don’t call me that! We are nothing alike,” the newcomer growled, sending a gust of wind against him that opened his skin. It felt as if dozens of knives cut into him at the same time. Seeing as he regenerated himself, his partner stood beside him and gazed to the city below. “A new high demon lord has crossed over. Are you aware of the danger that could bring to the completion of our plans?”
“Don’t worry so much. He will return home soon, just wait and see.”
His companion snorted— something than one would imagine unfitting to a creature of his position— and then began questioning him again. “How is the situation in Hell?”
“Perfect. Doubt and unrest is already covering the lower ranks, maybe if we are lucky they could attempt to overthrow Lucifer.”
“That will never happen unless we can convince one of his thirteen firstborns to our cause.”
He chuckled and smiled evilly. “I have a plan.”
The sun’s rays hitting her over the face made her turn and cover with the pillow. Someone had opened all the curtains in the room.
“Rise and shine, my sleeping beauty. I have to start your training before going to work.”
Vergil’s voice reached her and she cursed under the pillow without opening her eyes. “Why can you go to work and I got forced into a sabbatical leave in the middle of my semester? It isn’t fair!” Her voice came out muffled because of the sheets but she bet he had heard her clearly. “Plus it’s Sunday! Who works on Sunday?”
“One: we can negotiate your return to the university later. Two: crime doesn’t have a schedule, dearest.”
She could imagine him smiling mischievously as he spoke and a smile of her own came to her lips. Slowly turning and shielding her eyes from the awful rays, she mentally went over their conversation. “Did you say something about training?” The brunette looked at the digital clock on the nightstand beside the bed and grunted. He was waking her up at 7:15 in a Sunday’s freaking morning! She wanted to kill him right then and there.
“You need to know how to defend yourself,” he said, fixing his electric blue eyes on her annoyed form.
“It’s because of him, right? Because Thanatos wants me dead?” The look he showed her when she mentioned the Greek god could have scared the Heavens themselves but she only forced a small smile and nodded. “Okay, just let me brush my teeth and take a quick shower before...”
“Forget the shower,” he interrupted her, his eyes staring at her with hunger. “Do the rest but a shower is pointless when I plan to make you sweat for a whole hour.”
Blushing heavily, she walked to the bathroom without another word.
Almost fifteen minutes later, they entered a huge room with no other furniture than a few medieval armors and some shields crossed by axes or swords hanging from the wooden walls. The far one, right in front of the entrance, had a row of full length glass windows, each one separated by a couple of feet from one another. On the other side of the glass stood a gorgeous rose garden spreading like a maze over the nearby grounds.
“You train here?” she asked, looking all around her as they entered.
“Not exactly.” He stretched the words a little before continuing. “You may want to grab my hand before the shift; it could cause you some nausea since it’s your first time.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Just trust me, okay?”
“No,” he said shaking her head and stepping away from him with a worried expression in her face. “I may love you and accepted you for being a demon but that doesn’t mean that I will throw caution to the air every time you say trust me.”
The demon growled and grabbed her by the arm before he murmured some quick words, making the ground shake and ripple beneath her feet. She yelped and latched herself to his torso, closing her eyes tightly. Thunder roared inside her ears and a sinking sensation took hold of her stomach for what seemed an eternity; then everything stopped, leaving her head spinning and a slight queasiness.
“You can release me now.”
“Where the hell...” Mina trailed off when she opened her eyes and found rock walls instead of wooden ones and a black, creepy forest with yellow eyes looking at her from its depths replacing the beautiful rose garden. “Where are we?” she asked without releasing his arm or taking her frightened gaze from the creatures inside the forest.
“This is Kirash’ershiff, the Mirage World.”
“Mirage world?” Her voice shook. “Who name it like that?”
“I did. It’s my creation. We are currently in a place between dimensions.”
“You can create dimensions?” Mina looked straight into his blue eyes completely taken aback by the revelation.
“That explanation will remain for later. Now let’s focus on your training. Shall we?”
“Okay.” She sighed deeply, looking nervously outside, before stepping away from her husband. “What do you want me to do? I have to confess that my abuelo taught me some of his army moves so I know enough to defend myself against normal people.”
“Is that so?” Vergil asked with a cocky grin in his handsome face and crossed his arms against his chest. “Show me what you got.”
Mina gave him a once over. Her arrogant demon was wearing a black tank top and some gray sweatpants that had a black line running along the sides. His broad shoulders and chest muscles looked more defined with that shirt snuggled around them. The white skin and hair tone made perfect contrast with his clothes, making her itch to run her fingers along both things. I may miss his horns and fangs but his human form is just as delectable as his demon one.
Stop it, girl! Concentrate in the training.
Vergil laughed but didn’t move from place, obviously waiting for her to stop gawking at him.
She ran at him fast and threw a punch at his stomach which he didn’t even bother to evade. Turning, she lifted her leg, throwing a kick at his face that he stopped and use it to send her sprawling to the stone floor. She landed over her left shoulder, pain making her whimper but, once she saw his cold stare, Mina huffed, standing up and throwing some more punches with all her strength.
Only when she directed a punch at his jaw did he caught her fist and smirked. “Your skills and strength are fine to defend yourself against humans but with immortals you’ll need something more. Do you know how to handle weapons?”
“No,” she answered, trying to catch her breath.
The demon’s blue eyes glowed and a Japanese sword appeared inside his hand. “Then I’ll start by teaching you how to properly wield a katana.”
And so began her training days.
Each morning they would go to Kirash’ershiff and Vergil would mercilessly train her for an hour before returning to the mortal plane. First he taught her to wield the sword and then they began to practice merging her newly found power into the very weapon so she could purify their opponents with just one cut.
She only hoped her new ability was enough to protect herself against Thanatos and company.