Dantega:Volume 3 Chapter 6
Belphegor sighs and continues to tend to the wound on his stomach, he is pretty pale and it would seem as if sending the group to his soul storage facility has expended a lot of his energy. After getting himself out of the embedded lie in the crater wall he was once in, he lands on his feet and leans against the wall to keep himself upright.
"I wonder if they'll like my little world, hehehe..." He coughs and covers the wound in his stomach to keep blood from coming out. "As soon as this thing is healed, I'll be joining you all there. No one can stop me there, not even you Rage."
He sits there and laughs softly to himself until he sees a shadow being cast over his head in front of him, someone is blocking the bright sun from the surface.
The person casting this shadow then floats softly to the ground and lands in front of the demon. The man is clad in priest garments and is holding a bible, he is a black man with starch white hair and glowing purple eyes.
It is Phoenix Navara.
Belphegor is stunned at his appearance and asks, "How are you here? I sent you away with all of the others, I'm positive you were in my range."
Phoenix smiles and responds confidently, "I was."
"I simply didn’t allow myself to be sent somewhere against my will."
In this weakened state, Belphegor is physically more like a regular human than a powerful demon, and knowing that, he has to feign strength to infer that he’s still a threat to the priest.
He smirks and chuckles before saying, "Though that doesn't explain how, I think the most important thing to ask you is what you intend on doing here all by yourself? Do you plan on fighting me?"
Phoenix puts his hands behind his back and shuts his eyes with a wry smile. "Not at all, I try to avoid fighting." He takes a step closer to Belphegor and leans down to his level. "But I will kindly ask you to release my comrades and leave this place."
Belphegor doesn't know if he's serious or not, but finds that extremely amusing.
"Hahahahahahaaha are you kidding?"
Phoenix smiles in reply.
"I don't know who you think you are but there is no way I'll give up such a big advantage. Those people are as good as dead."
Phoenix stands back up and repeats himself, "Once again I must ask, will you let them go and leave this place?"
"That’s not gonna happen."
"Where is everybody?" asked Niera when she woke up alone in one of the rock houses.
She exits out of the home and finds that the village is just about completely demolished.
"Umm... did I miss something?"
She is really worried for the other's safety and decides to go explore the area.
Out in the distance she spots a couple plumes of smoke that rise into the air, she heads in that direction when she finds the hundred yard crater.
(Where did this come from!?) she thinks to herself.
She walks to its edge and sees Phoenix standing worry free in this anomaly of a hole. Niera is about to shout to him until she sees that he is looking down on an unfamiliar man. Though she has yet to find out that they have been under attack, she recognizes the man in front of Phoenix as the one who was laying on the mountain of bodies before she fainted.
Instead of reaching out to him, she chooses to lay down in silence and listen.
She can feel a distinct pressure coming from them, a pressure so overbearing that she feels it would crush her if she gets too close.
Phoenix turns away and walks a few feet in the opposite direction while talking, "Isn't this exactly what you dislike doing? I imagine it takes a lot of effort to keep them in there. I can see how it is affecting you."
"Of course, this is a shitty job but someone's gotta do it."
Phoenix turns around, "Does it have to be you?"
Belphegor frowns and replies, "If this is some kind of an attempt at changing my mind, it won't work. I'm committed to this, and when a lazy person like me is committed to something, there is nothing that will stop me."
Phoenix takes a deep breath and pulls out his bible, his demeanor grows serious and he even looks a little annoyed.
He once again leans over and says, "Since you won't voluntarily do what I ask, I guess there is no choice but to use something that will make it impossible for you to resist."
He opens the bible and puts it a couple inches away from Belphegor's face.
Belphegor suddenly feels himself tighten up and he cannot control his own body, confusion rips through his head when Phoenix begins to glow gold.
"May the power of Christ compel you."
Belphegor's eyes start to burn red and he writhes in pain. "Is this some kind of exorcism!? I'm not such a piece of garbage that a mere human can exorcise me back to Hell!"
Phoenix smiles and roughly pushes his bible into Belphegor's forehead. This kind of thing should be impossible, the bible should never be able to make direct contact with one of the Seven Demons of Hell.
"GRRRAAAGGGCCKKK!!! THIS SHOULD'NT BE POSSIBLE!!"
He keeps screaming in agony while he feels that his soul is being ripped from his body as a red light glows around him and separates. The light floats off and plants itself into the center of the crater, it grows larger and larger until it looks like a ten foot high and ten foot wide cube.
Belphegor starts to fade away when his body is engulfed in purple flames, this is extremely painful and through the back of his throat he groans, "Who are you...?"
Phoenix opens his bible and reveals a conniving smile. "I am a man of this book. If you read it closely, you'll find me there."
Belphegor's body is quickly disappearing as he is spirited away, the last part of him that can still be seen is his head.
(Wait a second, those eyes of his... I've seen them before.) Belphegor thinks to himself, his eyes start to grow large when an epiphany reaches his conscience.
With the last bit of strength he has left he says, "No way... It's you! You are--------"
Before he can finish that sentence, Phoenix abruptly shuts his book, making a loud thud.
His mouth fades into transparency and his eyes look as if they are seeing a ghost, they too fade, and just like that, the evil Demon Belphegor is no longer a threat.
Phoenix chuckles and says, "Thank you for accepting my request... had you stayed, you just might have ruined my plans."
"Alright... that means that Phoenix got away somehow, so there's nothing we can do but go on ahead with what we need to do." said Rage as he holds his hand on the door knob.
"Okay, let's go." says Cyrus.
Rage opens the door quickly and they all rush out in a wave of adrenaline.
Rage is confused when he sees that they are in the same crater that they were in before they were sent away.
Aria has her eyes shut when she runs out so she doesn't see that Rage has stopped so she ends up running into his back and is propelled to the ground.
"Owww..." she groans as she looks up to find a scene that is far from what she was expecting. "Eh? We're back??"
They had all come rushing out of the cube of red light that came from Belphegor's body, and once they exited it quickly dispersed into the sky. "Glad to have you back! I was getting worried." said Phoenix with a pleased smile.
Rage turns to him suspiciously and asks, "What happened?"
Phoenix rubs his head and replies, "It would seem that he was really weakened by your attack, Rage. He fled shortly after all of you disappeared." They all take a collective sigh of relief upon hearing that.
"That guy was a real monster, huh Sora?" asked Aria as she nudges Sora's shoulder.
Sora doesn't reply but she definitely agrees, what they had all just experienced was one of the most evil beings in all of Hell, it's without a doubt that the reality of their situation has finally struck them.
Rage is still skeptical of everything, he turns to Phoenix and asks, "How did you avoid being dragged in with us?"
Phoenix shrugs his shoulders and replies, "I guess I'm lucky."
Still suspicious, he fights his urge to query any further and says, "Well then, if that's the case there is no point in us hanging around here. Let's get going."
This tiny little voice comes from Niera, who is standing above on the surface and looking down at them.
"Oh you're awake Niera! Boy have we got some stories to tell you, you're lucky you got to sleep through it all." Aria said with a bright smile, obviously relieved to find Niera unscathed.
Phoenix is looking up at her with a troubled face and it makes Niera a little nervous. (What was it that I just saw?) she thinks.
She is racking her brain about what Phoenix had just done to that man. She had thought that he was a normal priest until that moment, at that point in time he didn't look like anything good, and she assumes that it is something that he doesn't want any of them to know.
(Oh? Did she see that?) Phoenix wonders, he chuckles and turns back to the others, "Now that we're all here, we should leave now in case he decides to come back."
Though Rage prefers to be the one handing out orders, he agrees and they all head north once again and exit the doomed village.
Belphegor sits on a large velvet chair, he is breathing hard and his wounds from the earlier battle are still apparent.
"Damn that priest... to think that he’s actually----"
"I never woulda thought that one of the Seven Demons of Hell would get whooped so badly."
The voice comes from the darkness behind the large chair that he sits on, he doesn't turn but he replies angrily, "Like you would've done any better, you'd be in the same spot as me if you were there in my place."
"Oho? Now why do I not believe that?"
"Because you're a piece of shit... and I won't allow you to talk down on me, know your place."
Abaddon laughs and then a door opens from one of the walls of this dark room and in comes Damien.
Damien is wearing that same confident smile as always as he says, "He does know his place, the one with superiority here is Abaddon."
Belphegor coughs and blood comes out of his mouth, he leans back in his chair and replies, "You think that I'll just let that happen?"
"No I don't actually... I don't give handouts, he has to show me his worth."
"And how is he going to do that?"
Abaddon leans down over Belphegor’s shoulder, and with a menacing whisper says,
"I just gotta kill ya."
Belphegor frowns and does his best to ignore Abaddon's presence, keeping his glare solely on Damien, he asks, "Did you get the approval from your old man?"
"It wouldn’t matter if I did or not."
"I won't do anything unless I know for sure that he’s agreed to it."
Damien smiles and replies sternly, "You don't have a choice."
He snaps his fingers and in an instant they are in an endless white room with a checkered white and black marble floor that stretches so far around them that it’s disorientating.
Damien spreads his arms and declares, "This is a part of Purgatory, so you both know the rules that apply with that." He then raises his index finger and states his final words, "Only one of you can leave this place."
As soon as he finishes that sentence, he disappears and leaves the two men to their ways, he intends for the two to fight to the death for the right of power.
Belphegor gingerly stands up off of his chair and blood falls from his stomach onto the marble floor. He stretches his arms and cracks his neck before saying, "Man what an awful day, this has truly been a day of excess effort."
Abaddon puts his hand in his red cloak and pulls out a bag of marbles, he grabs a few of them and starts tossing them up in the air. "Ya know how long I've been waitin' for this day to come? It's finally my time to take your seat and begin my rise up the Hierarchy."
A blue light shines around Belphegor's hands and his eyes start to glow, he looks very angered and this is an emotion that he hasn't shown thus far, even when he was critically wounded. This overwhelming hate he holds towards the former Angel of God makes him feel as if all of his strength has returned to him despite his grievous wound.
But the anger clouds his condition, it’s obvious that this is going to be a one sided affair.
With one final sigh, Belphegor says, "Don't look so cocky just cause I'm injured, I have some important information about a certain priest to give the big boss, so I won't lose."
Abaddon holds a marble in a flicking position and smiles pleasurably. "Whatever that info is, it isn't near as important as this!" He flicks the marble at Belphegor's face.
While looking and the approaching projectile Belphegor frowns and says, "This info is far more important than either of our lives."
It has been two days since the incident at the rock village, and other than that set back, they have been proceeding as planned. There have been no problems with visits from the enemy or anything else for that matter, it is midday and they are walking up a large hill that leads to a dry mountain range.
"Hey, it's been a while since we left. We got to be getting close, what does the map say?" asked Cyrus. He knows that they are ahead of schedule and that they ought to be within striking distance now.
Rage reaches into his long over coat and pulls out the piece of paper that holds the etchings of the map, after scanning it for a moment his eyes widen. "It says we're right on top of it!"
Cyrus jolts in shock, "Really?"
He excitedly runs down the hill to inform the rest of the group that is lagging behind.
The reason why they are so far ahead of the rest of the group is that Rage is always leading the group from afar. He is very antisocial and he walks very fast because he doesn't seem to get fatigued, so there is usually just one person who struggles to keep up with him every once in a while and at this moment of time it happened to be Cyrus.
Rage double takes on the map and finds that they are only a mile away from the first Gate, he starts to feel a little nervous as to what to expect upon reaching it. (We did get here quite quickly. I wonder where Ubica and the others are?) he thinks this as he turns to the rest of the group who are now rushing to him in a celebratory fashion.
He sees that Phoenix is jogging up the hill effortlessly and wonders what this mysterious priest is coming to say.
"I would like to join you for this walk to the Gate Rage." Phoenix said as he jogged past.
Rage follows him and asks, "What's the rush?"
Phoenix turns and smiles, "I want to be the first to see it."
"That kind of desire doesn't suit your personality."
"I have come to find that my personality has completely changed since arriving in this place."
Rage blows air out of his nose and asks, "Good or Bad?"
Phoenix starts running and begins to laugh, "That would depend on how you would want to perceive it."
Rage wants to investigate further into it but Phoenix is still gaining speed and leaves him behind.
"Hmm? Fog?" Phoenix comments to himself on the environment atop of this large hill as he proceeds to walk through the thick fog.
This place is odd because there aren't many trees around but the ground in which he walks is covered with fallen leaves and twigs, with each footstep he makes, an incredibly eerie noise crunches under his feet and breaks the silent serenity of the fog he's found himself in.
Rage catches up and joins him in the fog, "We're supposed to be at the Gate... in Achille's diary, the description of this place and what it actually looks like is way off."
Phoenix shrugs his shoulders and replies, "Well this is kind of fitting don't you think?"
"Hmph, I don't know about that."
Out in the distance, the fog seems to weaken and some beams of sunlight are protruding through the denseness.
"It looks like the Gate is just yards away." Phoenix says with a smile, he is starting to become excited and rushes out into light.
He stops and basks in the sight that is the Gate, it is just as Achille Gallo said. Connected to the face of a massive cliff, is a Gate. This Gate stands well over fifty meters high and twenty meters wide, the arch is engraved in gold and numerous different colored diamonds. The stone is painted with the design of angels and their cherubs depicting a glorious image of Heaven.
"So this is it huh?" Rage asks not in awe at the sight in the least.
Phoenix begins to walk toward the white light in the middle of the Gate, causing Rage to become concerned.
"Wait! It's dangerous if you get too close!"
Phoenix keeps moving forward and nonchalantly waves his hand back at him, brushing off his warning.
Rage clicks his tongue in anger, he wonders if Phoenix has been entranced by the light of the Gate just as Achille did. He readies his scythe and runs forward, fully expecting yet another battle.
Phoenix is just steps in front of this Gate, with a frown he scours the area.
"Are you looking for me?"
This unfamiliar voice comes from a man who is standing atop of the fifty meter high Gate, he spreads his arms and floats downwards. Phoenix backs away and lets him land softly, the man has short brown hair and only the white of his sclera can be seen in his eyes, he has intricately designed red armor on and a white cloak flows down his shoulders and back that drags to the ground.
"Phoenix! Get away from him!" Rage shouts as he makes his way to him.
Phoenix shrugs his shoulders and takes a few steps back.
Rage looks surprised upon seeing the man in the white cloak and says, "Is that?---"
"Pontius Pilate." Phoenix swiftly interrupts.
"What is he doing in a place like this? Didn't he kill himself?" asks Rage.
Phoenix starts to laugh, "No, the history books were wrong, this man was far too proud of his work to end his life."
The man named Pontius spreads his arms and ignores them, in a business like fashion he asks, "Do you wish to pass the Gate?"
Rage pulls out his scythe and swiftly answers, "Yes we do."
Pontius raises his arms to the air and says, "Very well then."
All across the length of the cliff appear thousands of crosses, and nailed upon them are people, some still alive, some dead, some are rotting and some are all bones, they have all been crucified.
Pontius points out his hand and says with authority, "I shall add you to my collection of people who have attempted to pass this Gate."
The smile from Phoenix's face dissolves and is replaced solely by a bitter frown, he walks toward the Gatekeeper and says, "I had heard that because you washed your hands of the deed, you avoided going to Hell for sending Christ to the cross."
Pontius Pilate was a Prefect of the Roman Province of Judea during Jesus' time, and as a result, he was the judge at Jesus' trial and gave the authorization for his crucifixion. But as soon as he made this order, he washed his hands of the deed, claiming that he sent the so-called conspirator against Rome to death out of reluctance.
"That is correct." Pontius replies, no emotion can be seen in his statuesque expression.
Phoenix turns to Rage and asks, "Purgatory... this place is out of the view of Heaven right?"
Rage looks confused and responds warily, "Yeah that's right."
Phoenix starts to laugh rather loudly, "Hahahahahah! This is good!"
He pulls out his bible and points it as Pontius.
"I recognize you. Though you do look slightly different." said Pontius as he walks toward Phoenix.
Rage is completely bewildered as to what is going on, it's like the two of them are moving at their own pace and left him behind in the dust. "That's right…” Pontius says, taking another menacing step forward. “I know exactly who you are."
Pontius holds out his hand, as if he is announcing something to the audience of crucifixion victims surrounding them, he loudly says...
"BEHOLD THE MAN."
These words send shock-waves down Rage's spine, he now knows the secret that the mysterious Phoenix has been hiding.
"Impossible." he says, stunned as he looks to Phoenix's back.
"Let me handle this one,” Phoenix says, walking towards the Gatekeeper. “my arrival has long since been overdue."
Rage steps back and he is shaken up at this sudden revelation, he watches the two proceed on a collision course with each other and mutters the identity of the priest.
"It's you... The Messiah."
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