“So, what were you thinking?” Bella laughed as she stood before me.
I was sitting in the living room, curled on myself. Kuryo sat beside me, a hand on my shoulder. He’d brought me crackers and hot soup, but I had been puking bile and couldn’t keep anything down.
It hadn’t been god who had been speaking to me. It must have been someone from inside the hive, which explained how they could speak to me without a spirit being around. Had it been Bella? A demon spirit? Someone who just wanted the fight to break out?
Bella was spattered with blood, but seemingly fine. Her vampire horde had prevailed over the weakened forces, evidently. Without the Trinity, half the rebellions’ army had just lost its godhead. They were weakened and their power would have been draining away. Some might have even died with the Trinity.
I buried my head in my arms and squeezed my eyes shut. Bella laughed. “Good job, Chaos,” and she tousled my hair before marching away.
Snippet by snippet, news came to me. Vampires and even demon overlords came by and found it important to tell me what had happened. They seemed to think it had all been part of Bella’s plan, and they were honoring me for my… bravery? One demon even bowed to me. I could barely look up from my arms. I seemed to have lost the ability to move.
They had won. Bella was now the undisputed overlord of the sky and earth. And with that power…
“We will have our third portal tomorrow,” Bella cackled as she sat down in her comfy chair, mug in hand and cookie in the other. She propped her feet up on her pouf. “Your father will be there to open it for me.”
I looked blankly at Bella. She opened her eyes wide, making a shockingly amused face. “Tomorrow we are invading the Pure Lands.”
I buried my face in my arms. Kuryo kept massaging my arm and shoulder, but the day faded from me.
Somehow I got moved upstairs, walking dimly through the house with Kuryo guiding me. I showered, then curled up in a ball in Bella’s bed. She was busy celebrating with her buddies and vampires. I closed my eyes and wished I was dead. Tomorrow I’d even have to face my father. He’d see what a failure I’d become.
I couldn’t even find it in me to cry anymore. I was wrecked. I’d killed, again. I was such a pawn. So useless. So pointless.
I wallowed in my despair all day. I slept fitfully that night, not even noticing Bella come to bed. I did notice her waking me the next day however.
“Wake up wake up!” she cheered, bouncing over me and dragging the pillow out from under me. Then she smacked me with the pillow playfully. “Today is the day!”
I startled (understandably) but by the time I was sitting up she was already bounding away, laughing giddily into the bathroom.
Still confused, I looked around. My eyes met Kuryo’s, which were dark and grudging. I wondered why I felt so terrible. Like – and then it all came crashing back to me.
“No, no,” Kuryo said, probably seeing it in my face as I remembered everything. In a flash he was by my side, holding me up to keep me from curling into a tiny ball. “You’ve got to get up,” he hissed.
I looked tearfully up at him. I didn’t feel ready to do anything! I felt like such a wreck…
“Bella,” Kuryo glanced at the bathroom door, then back at me with warning lights in his eyes. “Wants you back on your feet.”
Bella began to sing (off-key). I looked pleadingly at Kuryo. “I can’t do this,” I whispered. “My father’s going to be there. I-”
Kuryo rattled me gently. “Come on,” he whispered. “Get up. You’ve got to.”
What did Bella say she’d do to me to get Kuryo like this? I sniffled but shook myself. I huddled myself. Then I swung my legs off the bed and got up.
Everything ached. My reflection was hunched, my eyes were puffy, and I looked like a train wreck, complete with smeared eyeliner.
A short stint in the bathroom fixed the eyeliner problem, but no amount of cold water on my face unhunched me or fixed my broken expression. I just was over.
Bella, however, was twirling and singing as she made her way through the house. Kuryo held my elbow and directed me around in her wake. Down the stairs, to the living room to a chair. Breakfast was offered to me – I ate a cracker or two and swallowed my tears – and then Bella was up on her feet. “Let’s go!” she cheered, clapping her hands and twirling on the spot like an overexcited child. I wanted to smack her. So did Kuryo, by the look on her face.
“Try another cracker,” he muttered at me.
“We don’t have time!” Bella snapped. “I want to go! Now!”
Kuryo stashed the cracker in his pocket and swallowed a comment. Again, he took me by the elbow and hefted me to my feet. Then towards the door –
“She can stand on her own,” snarled Bella as she put her coat on. “Don’t baby her!”
Kuryo wanted to stab her. Repeatedly. With something jagged and sharp. He let go of my elbow, nodding me towards my coat. I shuffled forward and got it myself.
It was okay. I could do this. I just wanted to curl up into a little ball and was fighting back tears but I could do this. Just – one step at a time. I just had to get my coat on.
I managed, though my hands were shaking and I felt like barfing all over the place. Tears swelled in my eyes, and then I thought of my father. What he’d be thinking of me.
Kuryo took me by the elbow again. Bella had turned her back and sauntered out of the house. “Come on,” he murmured.
Together, we followed in her wake.
Outside, the air was biting cold. It made my skin hurt. But it was nothing like the sickenign sight before me.
There was Bella, and there was a crowd of vampires and werewolves and even some humans, all cheering and clapping. There was even some motivational cardboard posters being waved by the humans in the lines of “go get ’em”. Everyone was ecstatic. Bella was grinning, soaking it all up. And oh yeah, there was this massive portal.
But the portal wasn’t here to send us anywhere, at least not yet. It was a portal from the underworld, and minions from it were arriving, with Lucifer at their head. Smug, celebratory, they too were all applauding Bella.
I felt really, truly, sick. Disgusted down into my bones at the adoration in everyone’s eyes. Worse, Bella was just so childishly gleeful at it all.
A portal to the sky realm was set up (with lots of magical bla bla) on the opposite side of the street. As soon as it crackled to life, minions from the demons of the sky realm began arriving, with various deities and godheads at their helm.
Armies stretched on. I mean, of course they couldn’t fit the whole two armies on this street. There was probably just the leaders and stuff. But the street was filled, the vampires were squished up together, and hey, the air stunk of the mihs-mash of various realms clashing.
Then, the scents faded. Ashes swirled on the wind. A particular scent fluttered in, faded, wistful, and impossible to grasp. Death.
He materialized somewhere, and strode in from down the street, mother at his side. They were solemn, but looking their very truest to their nature. Mother was sprouting white rays, beaming with budding leaves and with a smear of fresh, vibrant blood on her hands up to her elbows, like a midwife. Death was wearing his charred robes, ashes smeared across his bones and scythe in hand, only dried and still blood to be seen upon him.
Hand in hand, they approached. The crowd parted for them. My stomach flipped. Kuryo held my hand tighter. I didn’t realize until then that he had taken my hand, but I was grateful for it.
Bella stood her ground, head held high and arms crossed across her chest. I stood behind her and to her left side, just wanting to hide. Lucifer was to her right. Minions spread behind us.
The moment Death and Life reached us, Bella snapped “I want my portal.”
Death and Life inclined their heads respectfully. Bella did no such thing. She remained straight-backed and arrogant as my parents rose from their incline.
They didn’t say a word. Neither Life nor Death showed a shred of emotion. Instead, they faced each other solemnly and stretched out their hands. Between them, precious and sparkling, formed a third portal.
Bella giggled. My stomach was doing somersaults as I realized my parents hadn’t yet looked at me. Was that a good thing? A bad thing? Now I just wanted them to look at me. See how much I regret it? I’m not awful, I promise…
But the portal grew and grew until it was the size to fit one person. Then, Death and Life drew back. They inclined once more, and turned their backs on us all to walk away.
My heart shattered somewhere beneath my feet. I felt like this, truly, was the fated punishment of ‘hell’.
I was so striken, watching my parents walk away, that I almost didn’t notice Bella march head-first into the portal. Kuryo tugged on my hand and, like two bodyguards, we went after her in the portal.
Ahh, the Pure Lands. I was instantly soothed as we stepped into it. The softness, the purity, the gentle truth of it all. My heart felt light and it felt like all my burdens were lifted away.
Bella was there, and before her was some sort of goddess with nondescript features wearing a simple red kimono (or maybe it was a chinese hanfu? I had a hard time telling them apart, to be honest).
“Guan yin,” Bella snorted. “You’re who they sent to guard the gates?”
Guan yin didn’t move. Instead she looked us over with a patient smile.
Lucifer stepped to Bella’s side. Somehow, probably through the hive, I knew that the others were to wait outside until further orders were given. Bella wanted this moment alone, to herself. But with her bodyguards there to keep her safe of course, and Lucifer there to applaud her on.
Do it now, Yhwh’s voice echoed in my head.
I startled, turning on myself. But he was nowhere to be seen. There was just us and the stretching fields and valleys. Yet the voice continued.
Bella is at her weakest in the Pure Lands. Her army is far away. Run her through.
I gawked, my insides turning to ice. Kuryo was tugging on my arm but that felt a whole world away. I was shutting down inside myself.
Do it! This is your only chance! The voice commanded.
I can’t I can’t, I thought, pressing my palms to the side of my head. I just can’t – not her, I can’t-
Lucifer was stepping to my side. Kuryo had my shoulders but Lucifer brushed him aside. Bella was ignoring it all and sneering something to Guan Yin.
“Hey,” Lucifer pulled me to stand behind Bella. As if that would shelter me from anything. He took my hands from the side of my head and shook them out. My swords snapped out accidentally, narrowly missing his hips.
“Sorry,” I babbled as he took my wrist – and stabbed my sword right through Bella.
For good measure, he put my second through her stomach.
I gasped. There was a gurgling sound. Lucifer smiled at me. He ruffled my hair. “That’s how it’s done,” he said in Yhwh’s voice, deep and somber. Then he strutted to Bella’s side.
He bowed to Guan Yin respectfully, his voice switching back to it’s usual drag queen falsetto. “I hope you will accept this soul’s offering as a peace token. I have no intention of striking a war against your realm, and I hope this will, ah, make up for any undue stress we may have caused you.”
Guan Yin inclined her head, like one does when they are not totally sure what to make of a situation.
Lucifer turned to Bella. “Nama-stay here you bitch,” he whispered sweetly, tapping her on the nose. “You,” he pointed to Kuryo “Fuck off to your realm. I don’t want to see any of you around here. Get lost. Now. You-,” he turned to me. With a sigh he shook his head. “Do I have to do everything?”
In two strides he was at my side. Yank! He pulled my swords out of Bella. With a splutter she crashed down.
Lucifer patted me on the cheek. “Don’t worry! She’s in heaven. Her hell, but hey! They’ll purify the shit out of her. Now come along, this way baby,” and he turned me back to face the portal.
A hand seized my shoulder, yanking me out of Lucifer’s grasp. I stumbled back, swords slipping back into my wrists. Kuryo had his arm around me. “You’re not taking her,” he said sharply. “You’re going to blame Bella’s death on her.”
Lucifer chuckled. “You’re not as stupid as you look.”
Kuryo drew me back, stepping slowly away from Lucifer. “I’m taking her,” he said sharply. “And I’m taking Jade and Aaliyah as well. And Charr. We’re all leaving, and you get this realm to yourself. Deal?”
Lucifer grinned, obviously thinking some other plan. He looked far too pleased for this to be right.
But he shrugged nonchalantly. “Do what you want. I’m not stopping you.”
Kuryo hesitated. Then, the world swerved around us and darkness enclosed me.
I felt the brush of blackish blue feathers. Heard their rustle and felt the cosmos rushing around us. I may have also blacked out.
The fact was, I came to sitting on a couch with water being scrubbed on my face with a damp cloth. I spluttered, startling awake.
“Shhh,” Kuryo said. He was crouching before me. My jacket was gone and my hands were washed. A blanket was wrapped around me. “You stay here,” he said gently. “You’re safe, okay?”
I looked around. This was his apartment. His home. It was so quiet, but my mind was racing, my heart was hammering, and I could feel my mouth pasty and dry and my stomach roiling-
“I’ll be right back,” he said, squeezing my hands. “I’m just going to get everyone.”
I just stared at him. Don’t go!, my mind shrieked. Something bad is going to happen to you! Something terrible!
But he squeezed my hands and stood. “I’ll be right back,” he repeated. Then he vanished.
It felt like an eternity that he was gone. But I didn’t move. I couldn’t. I could barely think, even though my mind was rushing full of disasters – half of which had already happened. I was numb, it felt like I was dead in some way, but the icy river inside of me churned on and on.
There was a stumble and a thud who knows how long later, and Aaliyah, Jade, and Kuryo appeared all together in the hallway. Aaliyah and Jade crashed to the floor, Kuryo doing his best to let them fall gently, but not quite managing.
“Found them!” he announced with a sort of grin. Was that supposed to make me feel better?
Aaliyah moaned, not moving. Jade rolled onto her back, gasping as if she’d just died and come back to life. Then she giggled. “The ceiling!” and she burst into another fit of giggles.
“They’re drugged,” Kuryo announced. He rolled Aaliyah over and hauled her to her feet. “To the bed with you,” he said.
I just sat there, staring. This was good, I was telling myself. Things were good.
But still my mind was telling me that this was disastrous, that we were all about to die – or worse. So much so that I was shaking when Kuryo reappeared to haul Jade into the bedroom as well. That done with, he came back to me. Crouched back down, taking my hands in his as if he was pleading with me.
“I’m leaving again,” he said softly. “I’m going to find Charr.” He reached and cupped my cheek with his hand. “You just stay here, okay?”
I started to sob. I didn’t want him to go. Something so bad was about to happen.
I curled on myself, pressing my face into my knees and clutching the blanket around myself. The couch creaked and arms passed around me. Kuryo shushed me gently over and over, whispering that everything was okay.
Hiccups were ripping through me, and he was rocking me back and forth. The world turned dark, and stayed that way.