Dantega:Volume 1 Chapter 9
Chapter 9: The Devil's Advocates
“Both of you have one of these maps?” asks Napoleon.
He is loitering in the back yard of the large stone house, accompanied by Rudo, Cyrus, Rage and the two thieves.
“Yeah, Papa… um, I mean our guardian gave them to us. One map follows a different direction than the other, but will lead us to the same destination.” replied Strauphius. When he brought up the person who gave them the maps, he looked like he was uncomfortable.
Cyrus catches this expression and it prompts him to ask, “Where is this guardian of yours any ways?”
The two thieves share a troubled expression; Aria squints her eyes with her head hung low and softly says, “He’s dead.”
Rudo sighs and shakes his head. “If the guy who wrote the damn maps is dead, there is no way we can trust that they're even credible. “
“It’s the truth! I know it!” Aria protests.
Napoleon can see why they would not believe in their story, but there is no doubt in his mind that they are telling what they believe to be the truth. The matter is whether or not this ‘Papa’ character who wrote the map could possibly be capable of such a feat.
Cyrus shrugs his shoulders and takes a seat on a large rock. “It doesn’t look like we have much of a choice in the matter.”
Rudo frowns and shouts, “Yes we do! If we follow a faulty trail we could become lost and never find our way to the Gate!”
Cyrus removes his dark glasses from his face and looks at Rudo with his empty gray eyes. “If you haven't noticed yet, we're already lost. It’s been that way since the beginning.”
Rudo clicks his tongue, he realizes that what Cyrus said is true. They have been stuck in this strange world for ten days now and there hasn’t been any sign of the correct path in which to take.
Breaking the tense moment between the two is a sound of the back door of the large stone house creaking open. Out walks Sora, she is carrying a dusty old looking book in her hand. She points out the hand that’s holding the book and like a robot simply says, "...Diary...”
Ignoring her statement, and the book she is holding, everyone, including Rage has their eyes stuck on her appearance. She gestures the group to look at the book as her bright violet eyes stare blankly into the core of the group.
“Whoah! What the hell are you doing!?” shouts Aria.
Sora looks back at her and tilts her head.
“...What?...” she asks in this unusual robotic tone of hers.
She is only wearing a thin white sweater over her black laced bra and underwear; the stunning tint of her white skin shines in perfect contrast with the white snow that tatters the tundra ground in various spots.
Though one wouldn’t immediately be drawn to Sora’s attractiveness when side by side with the princesses, she is still quite the beauty, and seeing her half naked is enough to make any man blush.
“...Please put some clothes on Sora.” Napoleon says as he rubs his temples.
He has seen Sora guarding prince Luke around the castle grounds throughout the last couple years but he has only spoken to her a few times. She is not one to say much; during her training in the elite Dravic branch of the La’Juutian army, she was taught to forfeit the body language of her natural emotions in order to keep secret the hidden missions and any other kinds of damaging information from reaching the enemy. Since the majority of the Dravic branch's operations involve spying on countries behind enemy lines, this type of reaction is vital in the event of an intense interrogation or torture. It can fool the opposing foe into believing something that is false, and vice versa. Sora can feel pain, sadness, or happiness just like anyone else, but after years in this academy it has become an impossibility to actually show it. She could be completely embarrassed about their gazes, but no one would be able to tell.
“...No...Time...look...” Sora says as she once again pushes the book closer to them.
Napoleon takes the book out of her hand and opens it up and tries to read its contents. "What kind of jibberish is this?”
“...Latin...” Sora quickly replies, she notices Rage’s eyebrows twitch with curiosity, she grabs the book out of Napoleons hands and puts it in Rage’s chest. "...Read...”
Rage stays silent as he opens the book and begins to skim through it.
Strauphius and Aria look a little lost, they assume the book that Sora had just brought came from their house but they have never seen it before. Strauphius walks to Sora, not making eye contact in the least he shyly asks, “That book... where did you find it?”
The two thieves pause in silence, they think about what she said, and they want more of an explanation than just one word, both of them simultaneously exclaim, “We need details!”
Sora isn’t accustomed to speaking full sentences, in fact, she’s terrible at it, so she is constantly struggling to make things as short as possible.
“...Loose brick in wall... I noticed while bathing... Curious... Opened... Found book... Instinct says important... Excited... Rushed to show...”
“Well that explains why you’re half naked, though you don’t look like the kind of person to get excited.” said Aria while scratching her head, she looks at Struaphius who has a serious look on his face.
“Wait a second, we have read every one of Papa’s books in his collection. That means that this is one Papa has intentionally hid from us.”
“Why would he do that?” Aria asks with wide eyes.
“Let’s find out!”
Rage is reading through the contents of the book; so far the only things he has read are simple occurrences from this man’s daily life. There has not even been a mention of what the writer's name is yet. Rage is actually in a kind of shock over this book, the mere fact that this man even knows how to write in Latin is amazing.
Latin was once the main language of Christianity, throughout the generations it increasingly became less used and was almost to the point of extinction by the time of the Apocalypse. Even at that point, a small number of scholars and members of the clergy could fluently speak it. So naturally after the so called ‘End of the World’ the majority of smaller languages disappeared or molded into new ones. Already considered a dead language, Latin completely vanished. Very few people now even know of Latin’s existence, there definitely shouldn’t be anyone in Purgatory who knows anything about this.
The diary explains: 'I found two homeless children today, they were trying to rob me of my money purse. From what I understand they are twins, and they are only eight years old. I have decided to take them in and raise them properly, in the future years, they might be of help when traveling to the Gates.’
Though there is more information on the two siblings, Rage ignores it and continues to flip through the pages. Rage isn’t looking for a history lesson on these kids, he's trying to find something that he can gain confidence in proving the validity of the two maps.
Nothing of what he considers is important has been skimmed through yet, until he catches another interesting paragraph. This one is different from that of the others, deeper into the pages of the book, the date on the upper right side of the page is dated further in the past. 'I had been traveling north in this strange world on foot for over a month when I saw it, connected to the face of a massive cliff, a Gate. This Gate stands well over fifty meters high and one hundred meters wide. It was the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen, the arch was engraved in gold and numerous different colored diamonds. The stone was painted with the design of angels and cherubs. It’s as if God himself christened this massive canvas to be painted as the glorious image of his world. The only thought in my mind was to walk through the bright light that lies in the middle of the Gate; it felt like the warmth of paradise was but only a few steps away. However, before I could reach that light, I was attac-‘
The writing suddenly stops, covering the bottom half of the page is a large black stain. It looks as though someone carelessly spilled a bottle of writing ink on it. Even so, Rage believes this is just enough proof to trust the maps. He figures that the man wrote this page and drew the maps in a round trip conjunction of a two month long journey of exploration, the starting point being from this town. Rage also assumes that it is likely that the man decided to go on this journey when he became ‘aware’.
There are only a few pages left to turn, and finally reaching the back end of the book, he reads the last paragraph. The date written down is recent, only a year earlier...
'I have raised the two twins to the adult age of eighteen, they have grown into great people. I am proud to say that I consider them my own children. And because I see them as so, I cannot bring them into the dangers of where I am going. To my son and daughter, if you ever read this, I hope you know how much I truly love you both. I must apologize for my sudden disappearance, it's just that I knew that you two would follow me no matter what I said, so this was my only solution. I pray that one day I will see you both back on Earth. Until then, become strong. Sincerely: Achille Gallo.'
He shuts the book and looks at the two twins who are staring at him with eyes like that of two children begging their parents for ice cream. He gets ready to tell them the contents of the book when a small piece of paper falls from it and lands on the ground, Rage picks it up and notices that there are words written in bold red ink reading...
'Memor quis ut vir said , si unus est ut obduco porta , immortalis est sumo.'
Depending on how one reads Latin, this can be construed into meaning many different things. But Rage knows exactly what this says
'REMEMBER WHAT THAT MAN SAID, IF ONE CAN PASS THE GATE, IMMORTALITY WILL BE TO TAKE.’
This statement shows him that there is no doubt this Achille person’s maps are legit. Only people like Rage would know that if a human escapes, they can obtain immortality if they wished. The Purgatory Gatekeepers are also considered deities like Rage, so it is only natural that Achille gathered this information from one of them.
Rage hands the book to Aria and asks, “You said that this guardian of yours is dead, correct? What makes you think that?”
“Because that bastard left us without a damn word! Just like our parents did…” she replies while gritting her teeth.
Rage smiles wryly, “I’m not a guidance counselor, so I refuse to say something overly comforting, but I will say that you should be grateful to him. This book, most of it is about his love for the two of you.”
The twins stand like statues.
“But!” shouts Aria.
Before she can continue, she is stopped by the feeling of Strauphius’s hand on her shoulder.
“It’s okay." he says, "That is all we needed to hear.”
“This map is true, it should take a month to reach the first gate.” Rage says to Napoleon, Rudo and Cyrus.
The three all drop their head and sigh loudly in disappointment.
“Tch, damn it all, that’s a long time.” hisses Rudo.
Cyrus shakes his head in agreement. “Yeah and it’s only the first gate. By the time we get back, Eiyalazo could be destroyed.”
Napoleon lifts his head up and takes a determined breath, “If that is the case we shouldn't waste any more time here.”
Rage pauses for a few moments, then says, “I agree, but not all of us in the same direction. We need to split in two groups.”
“What!?” shouts Rudo.
Both Cyrus and Napoleon gesture in confusion.
“There are two maps following different directions that lead to the same destination. If we all follow one route, we would move slower and we are just one giant target for our enemies.”
Napoleon thinks about this dilemma for a moment and comes to the conclusion that Rage is correct, all sixteen of them following in one group would be foolish. If the enemies weren’t beings of outstanding power, it would be wise to copy the maps, split them into groups of four and send them off at separate times. But this idea is obviously meant for Ubica to lead one group, and Rage to lead the other.
“So how do we go about choosing who goes with who?” asks Napoleon.
To which Rage replies, “That is where I come in, I know that the bodyguards would want to protect their princes and princesses, however that would make things uneven, and that kind of emotional commitment could become a distraction. So I will choose, whenever Ubica wakes up I plan on discussing this with him. Of course you are welcome to join in Napoleon.”
“Don’t you dare think of splitting us away from our princesses!” shouts Rudo, threatened by the mere thought of this proposal.
Rage turns away to ignore him by walking through the back door and into the house. It is exactly as Rage said, he knows this will be hard on them to separate from the people they have risked their life on for years. In Rudo’s case, he has been the royal guard for Daey since her birth, he feels like she is a daughter or granddaughter to him. Sadly though, Rudo has no choice in the matter now, the God of Death is in control now and what he says goes. All he can do is clench his fists and grit his teeth in frustration.
Rage walks through the innards of the house towards the front door, he remembers that Luke, Xavier, and Phoenix were out in the front yard so he wants to tell them what he is planning. To his surprise he sees the anxious faces of Tsubiri and Trojia staring at him, their faces quickly drop at his appearance and they sigh loudly.
Rage scoffs at this reaction and asks, “Expecting someone else?”
Phoenix, and the two princes are standing to the left alongside Daey and Niera.
“They are waiting for Ubica to come out in the new clothes they bought for him.” Phoenix answers.
“He’s awake?” Rage asks in an uncommonly polite tone, he is probably anxious himself about finally getting out of this town.
“Yeah, he woke up just a little while ago.” answered a smiling Daey.
As if right on que, the creaking sound of the large wooden front door can be heard.
Out of the door comes Ubica, his face is a little flushed and he holds a rigid body language. He is wearing a huge blue snow coat that looks five sizes too big on the wide side; on his head lies a thick woolen black beanie that has a ridiculous looking big ball of white fluff on the top of it. These two non matching features combined with his skinny gray jeans and white slip on shoes gives off the impression of a fat guy with a small head and twig legs.
“Hahahahah!! You look like a giant puffball!” laughs Tsubiri as she points at him mockingly.
Ubica’s eyebrows steepen as she shouts, “You’re the one who bought me this stupid looking thing!”
“Hahahah well I had to make sure you are gonna be warm! But this is just too funny, hahaha I wish there were more hills here so I could roll you around!”
This truly is a hilarious scene, even Rage is struggling to hold in a chuckle, Daey is about dying with laughter and the rest are close to the same.
“Why you little!” Ubica rushes to her and grabs her head and begins to give her a ferocious noogie.
“Waaaaa oww oww oww! Why am I the only one who's getting punished like this!? Trojia bought you that idiotic looking beanie!!!” Tsubiri yells while her soft magenta colored hair is being scruffed over her gold eyes.
Trojia frowns and exclaims, “Hey I put a lot of thought into that thing, I think it looks cute on him!”
Ubica looks at Trojia with an agitated smile and says, “She’s right!”
And with that, Trojia’s face is engulfed by the thick padding of the giant jacket as well.
“I hate to ruin this touching moment, but we need to get down to business.” said Rage with a serious look on his face.
The three instantly stop and look at him like a deer in the headlights, stopping their gayety in their tracks.
“Everyone needs to gather their things and get out here. I have something to discuss.”
“I’ll go get them." replies Napoleon as he goes back inside the house.
“So what’s up?” asks Ubica.
“We are splitting into two groups, I need everyone to get out here so I can choose which people go into each group. After that, we’re leaving this town and heading toward the first Gate.”
The group all inhaled in surprise.
“What do you mean? We can’t just leave half of them to fend for themselves.” Ubica said assertively.
“We aren’t, you are going to lead one of the groups and I’ll be leading the other.”
Ubica looks surprised, “You actually trust me enough to allow me to do that?”
Rage stays silent for a moment, he rubs his temples as if he is contemplating the thought of himself making a terrible mistake. Then he remembers that Ubica lost himself to his evil during his battle with Nero, and somehow he managed to control it and revert back to his normal state.
”Do you trust yourself?” Rage answers Ubica’s question with one of his own.
Ubica shows a happy and determined smile, “I do.”
The thought of potentially ending up in a group separate from Ubica is hard on Trojia's and Tsubiri; and for Daey, she really doesn’t want to split from Niera and her elderly bodyguard.
Gloomy expressions can be seen on their faces, Tsubiri sees the princesses and can feel the worry emanating from the two; but unlike them, she has no one she holds particularly dear in the group except Ubica, he’s the only one who has ever been truly kind to her.
She gently grabs Ubica’s pinky finger and whispers to him, “Can I come with you?”
Ubica looks at her, her large gold eyes looking back up to him anxiously, in a way he can understand why she doesn’t want to make this trip in the other group because of how isolated she’d be.
“I’ll make it happen, don’t worry about it.”
Squeezing his finger a little more tightly before releasing her grip, she takes a sigh of relief and sofly says, “Thank you.”
“Napoleon sure is taking quite a while to get everyone out here.” says Phoenix, who's been steadily growing impatient for a while now.
“They are probably packing their stuff, good thing we already packed, right Luke?” replies Xavier with his chest puffed up.
Luke shows a strained smile, “Right.”
Ubica walks up to the middle of the walkway that leads to the door and scratches his head. “Sorry about keeping you guys here for so long, I’m sure that you all have wanted to leave over these last few days.”
Xavier somehow sees this apology as an opportunity to one up Ubica and shouts, “That’s right! You should be-oww!“
Xavier’s soon to be rant is halted by the feeling of a small marble hitting the left side of his head; the little marble bounces off his head and rolls to Ubica’s feet.
“Hey! Who the hell threw that at me!?” shouts Xavier while holding his head in an overly dramatic fashion.
They all look in the direction in which it came but see no one, Xavier is about blame someone in the group when the sudden voice of an unknown man is heard from above.
“It’s been a helluva long time since I last saw ya, Ubica!”
Ubica looks toward the source of the voice, across the way on top of the neighboring stone house is a man clad in a deep red cloak, he has light brown hair that hangs to his bright blue eyes.
Ubica’s face drops and Rage’s eyes grow large, Ubica immediately slams his foot on the little marble and spreads his arms like a bird and shouts “PULSUS!”
Instantly, Trojia, Tsubiri, and Daey are pushed ten meters to the right, while Xavier, Luke, Phoenix and Niera are push ten meters to the left.
Ubica looks down and yells out, “Everybody run away now!!”
Rage grabs Niera and jumps to the top of the house while Phoenix helps the two princes scurry further away from Ubica’s position. A tremendous shockwave is felt at their feet, causing everyone's knees to buckle for a moment and the ground under Ubica’s feet cracks into thousands of pieces and breaks. With Ubica in tow, the ground falls violently into a dark and seemingly endless abyss.
“Ubica!” Trojia yells frantically while being pushed by Tsubiri.
The hole grows larger and larger and is quickly growing closer towards the three.
“Run!” shouts Tsubiri.
The ground beneath the three starts to crumble and they begin to fall. As a royal bodyguard, Tsubiri’s natural reaction is to protect the two princesses, she pushes them away from the hole to safety, thus sacrificing herself to fall helplessly into the abyss.
(Shit, I’m going to die.) she calmly thinks to herself with her eyes closed.
As soon as she resigned herself to her fate, she suddenly felt her head fall softly into a thick padding, she opened her eyes to see that she was looking up at the serious face of Ubica. The two are flying from the hole towards the light of the sky as Ubica jumps upwards off of the falling rocks.
They reach the surface, and without saying a word Ubica softly sets Tsubiri onto her feet and begins to assess the damage. Strauphius and Aria’s large stone house is split in half, one side of it lies on Ubica’s side of a three hundred meter wide crack, and the other on Rage’s side. Following the trail of the crack in the ground leading towards the town, the sight of true destruction can be seen as houses, shops, and people unlucky enough to be in its path fall hopelessly into the darkness of the hole.
Ubica shifts his attention to his right to make sure that Trojia and Daey are alright, and much to his chagrin he only sees an out of breath Trojia. Ubica’s face turns blue at the fear that Daey had fallen in and he didn’t see her fast enough to catch her. “Hahaha, doesn’t it all look too familiar?” said the man in the red cloak.
Ubica clenches his teeth at his statement; he turns towards the sound and sees a sight that sends a shiver down his spine. The smiling bright blue eyed man is standing calmly on top of a house that has been split in half, and in his arms he holds a frightened Daey.
Ubica clicks his tongue and holds his right hand behind him. With that gesture, out of the massive crater comes his sword, he grabs it and glares at the man with eyes full of killing intent.
“Let her go… Abaddon.”
Rage is on top of the left half of the house looking out to the other side of the crater, he sees exactly what is happening and is hurrying to check on the others before jumping over to help.
Rage looks around and sees that Phoenix and the two princes are safe. He wonders about the safety of the rest of the group that were gathering their things in preparation to leave, but doesn’t have time. He is confident that Napoleon would have been able to get the rest to safety so long as none of them were unfortunate enough to be in the middle of the house when the crater formed.
He looks down at Niera, who’s eyes are fixated on the far away scene of her sister held captive by this strange man.
Rage gently strokes the top of her head and says, “Don’t worry, I’ll go over there to help.”
He readies to jump off the house when a few feet behind him, the sound of another unknown voice is heard.
“I don’t think that is such a good idea Rage.”
Rage slowly turns around as if he is frozen in shock.
A tall man around Rage’s height stands ten feet away from him atop the roof. He has dark green hair with its tips black, and light brown eyes hold a black line that swirls to form his pupils. Over his shoulders he is loosely wearing a large white and gold coat, under this coat is a black vest that is lightly worn above white pants that are tucked into aristocratic black boots.
A cold sweat rolls down the side of Rage’s face, his throat is dry and the only thing that he can even mutter from his mouth is the name of the man standing in front of him.
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