Dantega:Volume 5 Chapter 9
(Fight it, fight it, fight it, fight it...)
These thoughts are running through Lelaine’s head as Sturgess takes off his pants and readies to force himself on her.
It’s bad enough that she is already naked and he can see her in a way only one person before has, but is she really going to let him do this to her? Is she really going to let hopelessness be the cause of allowing something as disgusting as another man touch her?
Her body is weak, and the will to fight takes its time to reach her body, and when it finally does, she is able to weigh her options. Her thought process starts off with clawing and scratching, and anything else she can do to deny him entry. Then it molds into plucking his eyes out with her bare hands.
From there, her decision is made when she remembers one of the maids putting a pencil like metal hairpin in her hair. The maid looked at her with pleading eyes as she did so, those eyes were asking for Lelaine to do just this, to fight.
She can pull this hair pin and send it through his neck or eyes, anywhere would work as long as it will stop him.
The light in her golden eyes shine once more and emotion resurfaces in her expression, and right before Sturgess can get close enough to enact his desires, Lelaine grabs the sharp hairpin from her hair without him noticing and readies to jab it into his temple when she hears someone rush in through the door.
“WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS!?!?”
The both of them look over and reveal two different looks of shock; standing at the doorway is someone Lelaine thought had died.
Sturgess on the other hand, knew of his survival and was trying to get his pleasure out of the Queen before he arrived; he angrily frowns at the King's entrance and the fact he wasn’t able to get it done in time.
All of the strength re-enters Lelaine’s body and with a rush of adrenaline she kicks Sturgess off of her and runs to Zurvick with tears in her eyes.
She throws herself onto him and starts crying into his chest. “You’re alive, you’re alive you’re alive. I can’t believe it, I thought you were gone!”
Zurvick doesn’t embrace her back, instead his hands are frozen in the air as the thought of touching her disgusts him.
With teeth chattering he struggles to say, “Y-You two... How long has this been going on!?”
“What..?” she asks.
“What do you mean what!? Is all it took was word of my death for you to throw yourself onto another man!? Onto Sturgess for that matter!? I told you, I promised you that I’d come back! I always came back to you, I’ve fought through everything that could keep me from you, I’ve lived only for you! And now I come back to this!?”
“N-No I’d never! He has kept me locked in a dungeon until today because I wouldn’t let him! He was forcing himself on me!”
Zurvick is unable to comprehend this, what he saw when he walked through the door was a complacent and receptive woman; to him she wasn’t doing anything to show that she was unwilling.
“It sure as hell didn’t look like it!!!”
The look on Zurvick’s face is one that can be described as despair, devastation, disgust, disdain, and flat out horror. He has just seen his wife; the person he loves most in the world with a different man between her legs, in his own room and on his own bed for that matter.
This place should have no space for a man like Sturgess. Yet here he is, doing the things that are only supposed to be done between husband and wife in this room.
He has just fought alongside thousands of Trojans to save his wife, and this is what he finds after the long and bloody battle?
It almost makes him gag.
“Zurvick, you have to believe me! Look!” She shows him the pencil long metal hairpin she’s holding in her hands. “I was going to try to kill him with this right before you came in I swear it! I’d rather die than be touched by anyone else!”
From behind a deep laugh is heard, Sturgess has pulled himself together and while tightening his belt he says, “You didn’t say that the first few times we did it right? What’s with the sudden change?”
“H-He’s lying, that bastard, he’s lying to you Zurvick!”
“Get off me...” Zurvick demands.
Lelaine doesn’t let go as she stares at him with eyes pleading for him to believe her.
This prompts Zurvick to look away from her and push her off of him while shouting, “I SAID GET OFF ME!!!”
Lelaine falls to the floor and can’t believe what has just happened, this is the man she loves refusing to listen to reason, refusing to even touch her. To make matters worse, it is for something that never happened; he has bought into the lies of Sturgess before even thinking that his words might be false. He believes a man like Sturgess over the word of his own wife.
She had thought that the bond they shared in marriage and in bearing a child together was stronger than the words of a traitor but she guesses she must've been wrong.
Without that bond, without him, her life means nothing at all.
She stands to her feet and walks to the foot of the bed to grab the robe she had entered the room in; she throws it on and shows Zurvick a dead expression.
“If you can’t believe my words, then what am I supposed to do to convince you I am telling the truth?”
Zurvick just glares at her speechless.
Sturgess on the other hand continues his slander of her. “There is nothing you can do to convince him, what he’s seen with his own eyes is enough to doubt your touch the rest of your lives. Just let him go and come back to me.”
He speaks as if she was ever his at one point. He himself is also in a pit of denial. He thinks that by having her submit to him, she belongs to him. Even though Zurvick is back, he still feels that it is too late for them to salvage anything, so she might as well switch.
Lelaine ignores him and walks to a cabinet by the balcony door, she opens it and pulls out her pipe. It has been sitting there unused for over a month so she blows out the dry tobacco left in the pipe and replaces it with a new batch from a bag. She then lights it and starts smoking as she leans against the door.
She then grabs another item out of the cabinet, this time it’s a slightly charred flask. It is Zurvick’s flask to be exact. The one used as evidence of his death back at Tronoble.
She holds it out to him and says, “Someone must have grabbed it from you at the Ball back then, whoever it was had this on him when he died... I’ve cleaned it off and refilled it with your favorite liquor, hoping that one day you’d return to me. And now that day has come, but look at what a mess it is, the only thing happy about our reunion is the fact that you’re still alive.”
Zurvick still remains silent, Lelaine tosses the flask at him and he lets it fall to the ground without attempting to catch it.
She smiles sadly and takes a drag from her pipe, after blowing out the smoke she says, “Oh how rude of me, I really shouldn’t be smoking inside our room.”
She then walks out to the balcony and sees for herself the thousands of people fighting to save her from Sturgess.
“Those people... How kind of them.” She turns back to Zurvick and talks to him through the doorway. “You were just like one of those people right? Fighting to save me from that bastard standing next to you... Is it really too hard to believe in the person you are trying to save over the person you are fighting against?”
“I see, well then...” She takes another drag and blows out the smoke. “If you are unable to do that, then I’ll just have to prove that I'd never touch that worm of a man.”
She tips her pipe and the tobacco is swept away by the wind and taken into the blue sky, she drops the pipe on the ground and leans against the railing.
“You know... There were so many things I wanted to do with you once you got back. Pointless things that we used to do as kids, like going horseback riding in the mountains, dancing with no music, hell I’d even want to play hide and seek like we used to just so I can re-experience the reasons why I fell in love with you in the first place.”
Sturgess frowns, he remembers those times all too well, he was forced to watch as his feelings for Lelaine were tossed aside as she fell for Zurvick. He hated those times, what’s nostalgic for them is torture for him.
Lelaine’s hair blows with the cool breeze as she continues. “But most of all... I wanted us to be together with Trojia once more, the three of us as a family. But I guess that’s no longer possible, that too is my fault. I’m sorry Zurvick...”
“L-Lelaine... I---“ Zurvick attempted to say something but is interrupted.
“I told you earlier that I’d rather die than let another man touch me.” she says, inching toward the balcony railing. “Well I’d also rather die than have you believe that I would do such a thing. I’d rather die than not have you believe me, I’d rather die than not have you love me.”
This is when an odd aura spews from throughout the room, it would seem that Sturgess is the first to realize this and he slowly begins to walk toward her while saying, “Lelaine... Step away from that railing.”
Lelaine doesn’t listen and looks Zurvick square in the eye, tears begin falling down her cheek when she smiles and says, “I have always, and will always love only you... If you find it in your heart to believe in those words, then I can die happy.”
As soon as she finishes, she tilts her upper body backwards and flings herself over the railing.
Sturgess shouts as he runs after her but it is too late, from the very top floor all the way down to the ground is over 25 stories. No human can survive such a fall.
After a few seconds of an eerie silence, a loud splash is heard from outside. Lelaine’s body has landed in the moat at the base of the castle, even though she landed in water, it might as well have been concrete, there is no doubt she’s dead.
Zurvick, in a severe state of shock, shoddily walks to the balcony and peers down; he can see her lifeless body float in the water of the moat with a circle of red around her. Down there is the woman he vowed to spend the rest of his life with, the mother of his daughter, the person he loves. Down there is the woman that will never come back to him, he’ll never be able to touch her again, she’ll never touch him again. They will never see each other again.
And for what?
Because he couldn’t believe in her? She did this to prove to him that she was loyal only to him until the very end. Does he see it now? Can he believe her?
His tongue grows very dry and he has a hard time breathing as he drops to his knees and puts his head up against the white stone railing of the balcony. His body begins to convulse as though he was struck by a severe cold.
“YOU FUCKING BASTARD!!!” Sturgess shouts at Zurvick’s back, “How could you let her do that!? I was obviously lying you dumb fuck!!! I didn’t get the chance to do anything! She wouldn’t let me!!”
Even Sturgess can't believe this happened, he didn't think that holing her up in solitary confinement would make her so susceptible to her negative emotions. He thought she was stronger than that. But yet, she might have just showed him a different kind of strength, one that shows how much she's willing to sacrifice to prove a point. And when he thinks about it, she was always that hard-headed and stubborn. It was a trait he'd had always hated about her, and having her end her own life due to it angers him to the pit of his soul.
Somewhere deep down inside, Zurvick knew that nothing had happened, he knows of that hard-headed nature of hers that made her strong. It only strikes him after the fact that she would have fought it. But hearing it from Sturgess himself sends shock-waves down his spine.
Because of him, his wife is dead. There is no way around it, he could’ve reacted any other way and the results may have been different. His body is so overrun with regret and despair that he can’t even cry.
Sturgess is beyond angry, he did all this just so he could have Lelaine; not only did he not get her, but she killed herself in the process. This is the ultimate insult to him. He was so far from being Zurvick’s equal that she’d kill herself over sleeping with him.
Looking at the man who caused her to have those feelings makes him want nothing more than revenge. He points his hands at Zurvick’s back and prepares to blow Zurvick to bits when the snake exits out of the pentagram.
“You’ve done well my fair General. The contract has been completed.”
“Get out of my way snake! I’m going to kill him!”
“No no, you’ve failed to understand me. Your body doesn’t belong to you any longer.”
The next heartbeat Sturgess feels is so intense that it buckles him to his knees and he coughs out blood.
“Gbbbhhaaah!?” He holds his throat in anguish as he moans. “W-What!?”
“Don’t look so surprised, you have sold me your soul in return of my fulfillment of all your carnal desires. I offered you all of the kingdoms of this world did I not?”
“Nnnggghh! Do I look like I have the kingdoms of the world in my possession!? You also promised that I’d have Lelaine!”
The snake begins slithering around Sturgess’ neck as it continues to speak, “That would have been the case If you had fulfilled my requirements.”
“All you needed to do was have your fun with that woman and kill her, afterwards I would have allowed you to accompany my conquering of this world, you would have been able to enjoy the ride as you watched your body rule over this land. However you hesitated, you let your lust for her ruin your sense of judgment, you did not succeed in that manner, instead you let her kill herself.”
“Damn you! She’s dead isn’t she!?”
“She is, but not at your hands. That spoiled any chance of you joining me in my rule of this world, you lost the prize of your carnal desires by failing in that regard. However, her death did complete one of my conditions for the contract. And that in turn ended our agreement.”
This is what Satan does, he’s been known for this all throughout time. He is the master conniver. By showing people delusions of grandeur and offering them their wildest dreams on a gold platter, he tempts them into signing a contract that only he can see. Every man he’s made a deal with doesn’t bother to consider that there just might be something wrong with this because the miracles Satan performs is used as evidence for belief.
Sturgess had no clue that if he did not kill the Queen he’d lose his body and soul, and that is because the rewards flashed before his eyes at the time clouded his judgment.
“Y-You double crossing bastard!”
“Hahahaha, did you actually think I’d give a mere human rule over my world? A human is simply a vessel without its soul, you were nothing but a flask from the very start. I never had any intentions of giving you anything, I simply showed you what you could’ve been apart of and you gave me everything to obtain it.”
“No... I won’t allow this!” Sturgess shouts at the snake, the reality of his situation is beginning to make him panic.
“Oh but you will my fair general, you have no choice.”
All of the snake’s scales fly off its skin and roam around Sturgess’ head like a swarm of bees; the body of the snake then dissolves into what looks to be a fine powder and storms into every opening in Sturgess’ face. It would seem that this is very painful for him because his screams of agony are loud enough hurt Zurvick’s ears.
After a few agonizing moments, Sturgess’ hair turns jet black and the veins bulging in his forehead and cheeks turn black as well.
Satan’s poison is eating him alive.
This is a hostile takeover of a human body; what he’s experiencing is far worse than any average possession by a demon. He’s literally having his soul ripped from his body.
“I have reserved a special spot in Hell for people consumed by Lust such as yourself.” Satan’s voice echoes around Sturgess’ screams. “You will become nothing but a statistic in the mass numbers of man who are to be swept by terrible winds to and fro without any hope of rest for all eternity. Enjoy, my fair General, this is the punishment for your failures in life.”
When he is referring to never ending winds blowing people all about he is talking about the Second Level of Hell; the place where humans who lived their lives consumed by lust are doomed to. In the Second Level, a wind so loud and so severe blows that the constant torrent sends naked men and women bashing into each other violently, making sure that each contact with one’s skin results in nothing but the pain of broken bones instead of pleasure. This torture continues forever as they are doomed to never sleep, eat, and drink. They must endure the pain of the ear shattering noise of the wind and the horrors that goes along with it for every waking moment.
“Noooo!!! This can’t be happening! This is not how it’s supposed to be!!” Sturgess shouts in denial.
“Has anything gone the way you’ve planned it to go your whole life? This is just another one of your many disappointments, you should have expected nothing less.”
“I am supposed to be someone that achieves greatness in life! Someone who gets everything that he’s ever wanted! It can’t end like this!!”
“That’s too bad General, greatness is achieved by years of suffering, there’s no easy way to the top. And all it takes is one bad decision to demolish every past accomplishment. In this case, it was allying yourself with me.”
Sturgess’ eyes roll back in his head and his tongue seems to shrivel to the back of his throat as his humid mouth becomes as dry as a desert. With one final gasp of air, his breathing stops and as stiff as a board he falls backwards and leans on the wall.
He twitches a couple times when seemingly out of nowhere a black tornado of wind swirls all around his body and he is engulfed.
The wind is so hard that it’s leaving gashes in the wall of the castle behind him and sending lightweight items of the room swirling all about.
After a few seconds of this the wind suddenly stops and the room is peppered with an eerie silence; only a ball of smoke surrounds his body and that slowly dissipates, finally revealing the man in the middle.
There stands Sturgess with a smile on his face.
His hair is completely black, his eyes that were rolled in the back of his head just moments earlier are now in a proper position and hold the color of red. And resting atop his forehead is a black pentagram.
Just these three things are enough to show that this is not Sturgess any longer, and that truth becomes even more evident when the man begins to speak.
“It’s done... I have returned to this world once more!” The voice of Satan exits out of Sturgess’ mouth as he spreads his arms in triumph.
Zurvick is just standing there speechless, he was told by London and the others that this is what they were fighting to avoid at all costs, but something as far-fetched as the Devil taking over Sturgess’ body and replanting himself on the face of the world was a little beyond him. Actually seeing it happen before his eyes is borderline maddening, especially when he could’ve have stopped it if he’d kept Lelaine alive.
It’s his fault...
“I must say King Zurvick, you’ve done nothing but help me since you got here. I was worried that Sturgess would lose control and easily be defeated once you gallantly returned to save your beloved. I was right, he would have lost to you and those bastard Knights while wallowing in his own disposition on life. However, you immediately accused your wife of adultery and sent her to her death for me; this couldn’t have worked out any better.”
Satan walks to the frozen Zurvick and continues to speak.
“You know, this whole thing, the war, the kidnappings of your daughter and the others, that was all a precursor to this moment. Everything was for me to rise once more. I’ve gambled almost everything on this chess game of mine, I sacrificed many pieces to get to where I am now, and I must say, if it weren’t for you I would have lost to Noah.”
Satan can see the dead look in Zurvick’s eyes as every word that exits his mouth stabs into the disgruntled King like knives.
This doesn’t halt the Devil's speech though, he keeps pressing forward with his torment. “I had one final piece left as of an hour ago, and that was my King piece, my King was Sturgess all along. And the enemy King piece was none other than Lelaine... Would you like to know why?”
Zurvick can’t speak, he’s heard the gist of this ‘Chess Game’ between Noah and Satan but couldn’t see it as anything more than a figure of speech.
“I saw all of this coming.” Satan says with a confident smile, “I knew that this country would fight back after a hostile takeover from Sturgess, I knew that there’d be thousands of deaths in this city. In fact, I was already thinking ahead of even that when I took the General’s soul. You see, I am the Devil, but with only a fraction of my strength in this vessel, I'd still be vulnerable to mass numbers. If the population of La’Juune and Eiyalazo were to attack me it's very likely that I'd be defeated eventually if I were to fight by myself. I needed a contingency plan, so I figured I’d take advantage of whatever it is my son is scheming down in Purgatory. Along with your daughter, he abducted the Angel of Death. Sure there are other reapers desperately trying to send souls to their proper destinations but they’re not enough to do it all. He stole the one man who could harvest the souls of all the lives lost in this war.”
Satan can still sense that Zurvick is borderline clueless about where he’s going with this so he decides to get to the point.
“What if I told you that I have my own reapers collecting souls? Well I have many, and the majority of them are here today, around this very castle, specifically for this very rebellion.”
“You can’t mean...”
“Oh you’re starting to get it now huh? That’s good, I hope you understand that in order win, sacrifices must be made. In this case, in order to raise my army once more, a certain amount of souls must be sacrificed.”
Zurvick takes a deep gasp of air as what he’s planning on doing finally hits him. He’s heard the stories of the Apocalypse, he’s heard that in order to rise an army from Hell, the Anti-Christ killed off millions of people at once and used their souls to do it. What Satan is saying is that he’s planning on doing to the same thing, and he’s using the deaths of this rebellion as a kick-start.
“Everyone in this castle will be used as kindling for the flame of my victory. No soul shall escape, they will all be used to start my rise to power.”
Satan takes another step towards Zurvick and puts his hand on his shoulder. The mere touch from the Devil is enough to break a man but it would seem that Zurvick has already been broken.
As if pitying him, Satan reveals a smug expression. “But don’t worry my fair King. I won’t use your wife’s soul, instead I’ll send it where it belongs. I’m sure you’ve heard about what happens to the souls of people who kill themselves right?”
“That’s right, she’ll be in Hell for all of eternity. Far from the reach of tenderness from any man. She’ll be in a state of despair, suffering through the regrets of her past life forever.”
Zurvick’s breathing becomes shoddy and his body begins to rock back and forth.
“What do you think of that?” Satan asks as he squeezes onto his shoulder. “What do you think about that being your fault? How will you deal with that? Do you want to die?”
He doesn’t answer.
“I could end it for you now. You wouldn’t have to see the world become swallowed by darkness, you wouldn’t have to suffer with the guilt of knowing that you played a direct role in it. I can give you the easy way out if you simply say the word.”
It’s very likely that Zurvick would rather die than live through that kind of pain, but sadly he can’t even speak. His loss is too great, not only did he lose his wife, but he’s lost her in a way that she’ll be forced to spend the rest of time in the complete agony of Hell. The guilt he feels for that is enough to constrict his heart so badly that he has trouble breathing.
Satan releases his grip on his shoulder and says, “Very well then. I shall let you live, I’m not a very merciful person anyway. Killing you would only do you a favor, it wouldn’t be a proper punishment for what you’ve done, would it?”
Satan walks to the window and peers outside.
“I think you deserve to watch your Kingdom, your people, your world, all succumb to me. I think that you should watch closely as they worship me and address me as God, and live with the fact that you had a chance to stop it. Only if you could’ve believed in that woman.”
These words absolutely crush Zurvick, he throws his face in his hands and stares at the ground with small pupils peering through the gaps between his fingers. The look in his green eyes is that of pure devastation.
“Now go.” Satan says as he gives him a hand gesture, “Get out of my castle, and live the rest of your pathetic life with this guilt as your burden.”
Zurvick fumbles as he takes his first few steps until shoddily halts and leans over to pick of the flask that Lelaine left him. Squeezing it tightly in his palm, he somehow steadies himself as he exits the room in which he and his wife once slept happily.
Zurvick makes his way down a flight of stairs from the top floor of the castle and ends up on the level where he last saw London. In a blank haze he is walking down the bloodstained hallways of his home, weaving his way through the bodies of his own countrymen.
These dead men, all of them, whether they fought for the Queen or for Sturgess, their efforts were all for naught because in the end of it all, their souls are just going to be sacrificed for a different cause. There are still people fighting even now, but their figures are all blurry to him and their screams don’t reach him, he can only hear the sound the blood makes under his feet with each step.
He’s in such a daze that even the enemy soldiers pay no mind to him as they don’t see him as a threat, to them he’s just another casualty of mental illness on the battlefield.
He takes a slight turn to the left and sees an even more gruesome sight, dozens of dead bodies tatter the area around London as he walks towards another batch of frightened enemy soldiers.
The Knight is such a force that a group of ten soldiers are scared stiff of him; the men allied with Sturgess have been trying to find a way past him this entire time and every last one of them has failed miserably.
But there is someone brave enough to stand in front of those ten frightened soldiers and confront the Knight. He is Anders Henson, one of the co-conspirators of Sturgess' coup, and the leader of the Royal Guard.
"I don't know who the hell you think you are, but you're blocking the path to my King." Anders said, he wears a bitter frown as he walks towards London.
"Captain!" One of the frightened soldiers behind him shouts as though Anders' appearance is their salvation.
London simply sighs and replies, "Ah, I see. So you're the leader of the pack?"
"Step aside." Anders demands.
"Not until the true King exits that door." London said as he gestures down the hallway leading to the Queen's room.
"Fine then, it's about time I shake off some rust. I haven't fought in a while."
Anders rushes London without another word. He pulls out his sword in full sprint and holds it up above his head for a downwards strike.
London doesn't even flinch, he smoothly takes his right leg and pivots forward. Immediately after that simple motion, a gurgled moan is heard.
"Didn't anyone ever tell you not to blindly charge an enemy? You should've taken your time to at least see what kind of weapon I have."
That weapon, the fencing sword, is sticking into the back of Anders' throat through his mouth.
One must wonder how this happened so fast, Anders certainly wants to know, and London answers.
"I use this sword because it causes confusion in an enemy's depth perception. The blade's thin, very thin, so if you're not careful, you'd think that I was swinging it further away than it actually is."
London twists on the pointed fencing sword and blood gushes out of Anders' mouth. The pain causes the leader of the castle's guard to collapse onto his knee.
"In this case." London continues, "You couldn't judge the space between us by looking at the front of my sword. You probably thought you had plenty of room. That's why when in doubt, you should always look at the arm of the man swinging the sword."
The Knight pushes the blade deeper into his throat and Anders begins to fall back.
"Too bad no one taught you that."
Without any further ado, London pushes his weight into the sword and it skewers through his throat and out the back of his neck. As if that wasn't enough, London swings his sword to the side and sends half of Anders face flying in a gale of blood.
It's definitely overkill, but he only did that because if he pulled straight back out, the blood would've sprayed on his shirt. Instead it sprayed on all the onlooking men who had thought that they were going to be saved by their captain.
London killed him so easily that it sent even more fear into them.
The Knight's glare turns to those men and with it, a few of them make nervous groans as if they've just been spotted by a bear alone in the woods.
And that's when London starts walking towards them. It's obvious what he intends to do once he closes the gap.
Out of the corner of his eye, London catches sight of Zurvick and turns to him. “King Zurvick? What are you doing here so soon?”
Zurvick doesn’t answer and simply walks right on past him and right on past the confused enemy soldiers. London is bewildered as well; he wonders what has put him in such a state and what could possibly be the reason for his separation from his wife at the top floor.
Then it hits him, the many different situations roll through his mind at once and his eyes instantly widen.
He makes his way past the frightened men in pursuit of Zurvick, as he goes he leaves the enemy soldiers with some final parting words.
“The battle’s over.”
The men don’t do anything and just stand there as London runs after Zurvick.
London grits his teeth and has genuine worry in his eyes when he thinks to himself,
(I have a bad feeling about this...)
Ash is at the bottom floor of the castle, her fighting is over because this certain floor, and just about the entire castle has been won over by the rebellion. The remaining enemies still fighting are completely surrounded and it is only a matter of time before they surrender.
The mass of loyal Trojans are already celebrating their hard fought victory, and Ash is no exception. For the most part, this is her first real battle, to have it happen here and for this cause, and to obtain victory is more than fulfilling.
“I can’t believe we did it.” Ash says as she leans up against a staircase somewhat of an exhausted fashion, “We won...”
She smiles wholeheartedly and takes a look around, through the carnage of this morning, happiness has broken through. A new surge of emotion brews in her chest and all she can think about is Zurvick, she figures he’s probably enjoying his reunion with the Queen at this moment, but that won’t stop her.
After taking a deep breath of determination she says to herself, “Alright! Let’s go find him!”
She begins to run up the rather large staircase leading to the upper levels of the castle and weaves her way through a couple people when,
She nails someone straight on.
She barely keeps herself from falling down the stairs and after grabbing the guardrail she instinctively shouts, “Hey watch where you're going!”
That’s when she catches glimpse of the person her verbal assault was directed towards. She recognizes the man, and can tell right away that the life in his eyes is non-apparent, it’s as though she has just ran into a zombie.
“Zurvick!?” she shouts in surprise.
“Damn it all, how the hell could I lose track of him?” London says to himself while squeezing his temples in annoyance. “He’s walking a grand total of no miles per hour for Christ’s sake.”
London is up on the tenth floor of the castle and is quite angered at the fact that he lost track of Zurvick in the fray. Even though he was walking lifelessly and rather slow; he managed to blend in with the thousands of people making their way throughout the castle.
To be perfectly honest, he’s not the only one wearing that kind of face and moving around with that kind of demeanor. None the less, he was still careless, for one of the Knights to get distracted so easily is pretty embarrassing.
Trying to find the stairs down and pushing people out of the way in the process, he stumbles upon a few familiar faces in the crowd. Coming up the clustered stairs is Ebihara Seiri, Haas Avondale, and Lennox Applewood.
Their appearances are completely different from everyone else because they are completely unscathed and have this disinterested air about them whilst everything around them is so hectic.
Lennox shoves a guy out of the way and waves to London. “Yooo! There you are, for a second there I thought we’d never find you in this cluster-fuck of humanity.”
“Now that we have, can we go home now? We’ve won this battle already so there’s nothing keeping us here.” Seiri added.
Haas stays completely silent like usual.
London sighs and pushes up his glasses; his voice turns solemn when he replies, “Something’s telling me that we didn’t win this one...”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m sure we’ll find out any moment now.”
Zurvick ignores Ash’s presence and walks right past her as if she were a ghost. He slowly makes his way through all of the cheering Trojans and heads toward the large front door of the castle. The morning sunlight beams through that open door and it makes Ash feel as if he is going to walk into the light and never return.
She immediately pursues him and rushes to his side. “What’s wrong Zurvick!?”
The broken Zurvick just keeps his wide eyed glare directly toward the light in which he is walking to.
With yet another snuff of a reply from him, Ash begins to become angry. When she kicks him about as hard as she can in the shin, and sees that he didn’t even flinch. His reaction is completely different from normal, he should have hit the deck and shouted ridiculously.
Not seeing that reaction, her anger molds into an intense worry.
“Z-Zurvick... Where’s the Queen?”
This question finally gets an answer, but not one that Ash wanted to hear.
After finally reaching the outside of the castle, a cool morning breeze hits them as the light from the sun warms their bodies. The smell of fresh air replaces the smell of blood that runs rampant in the castle.
With the breeze blowing through his hair, he slowly turns to her and answers,
“It’s time.” Satan said as he walks out on the balcony in where Lelaine committed suicide.
About a hundred feet above him is the crow’s nest that holds the Trojan flag atop it; he simply looks up and he begins levitating towards it. Standing impossibly on the thin flag pole, he takes a deep breath and holds his finger out. From above comes a little black orb that floats down and lands on his fingertip.
“Hmmm... Not quite enough yet.” he says as he squeezes the orb in his palm.
He then drops it and it stops its fall directly below his feet. With a snap of his finger, the orb flattens and expands to form a massive pentagram that surrounds the entirety of the castle from above.
This is obviously some kind of seal, and if one looked at it closely, they could see that all the little intricate designs of it hold similarity to the seal used to bind Ubica to the eternal lake during the Apocalypse.
“But I don’t need many more souls to complete this seal. The ones left in the castle should be more than enough.”
With a couple odd hand gestures, Satan then slams his open palm down on the pentagram seal and it turns bright purple.
It begins to spin as he says, “All men in this castle, I hereby claim you as enemies. As punishment, I demand your souls!”
The pentagram seal shoots downwards and makes its way through the castle while spinning.
This pentagram is actually a spell used to consume the souls of the living in mass numbers, once the mass of the pentagram reaches the bottom floor, everyone who survived the gruesome battle for the Queen will be wiped out.
On the tenth floor, London and the other three Knights stand cautiously as a rumbling sound from above makes its way down towards them.
The rest of the men in the hallway are clueless as to what is going on and are continuing to ramble on about their victory. Then a bang is heard so loud from above it actually stops them in their tracks, they all look up like turkeys on a rainy day and wonder what that sound was.
As if answering their worries, a man in a Cardinal's robe rushes down a flight of stairs that led to the next floor.
The man is none other than the spiritual adviser for the country of Troy named Cardinal Luudnt. And the men alongside the Knights instantly recognize him.
They figured that the Cardinal has been in hiding this entire time judging by his unscathed appearance, but the look on his face is absolute fear as he makes his way towards London and the others while shouting,
“RUN, RUN!!! IT’S COMING!!! IT’S--------“
All of the sudden, following him down the stairwell is a massive gust of wind that shatters every window of the hallway in its path. Four or five windows shatter before the wind hits Cardinal Luudnt and a purple orb of light screams out of his mouth, breaking his jaw and taking teeth along with it.
That light then flies through the wind and makes its way back upstairs as if it was vacuumed by something.
This sight was all it took for the remainder of the men to turn away from the ensuing gust of wind and run as fast as possible to the lower floors.
London on the other hand, tries his best to remain calm and turns to the others.
He pushes up his glasses and his usual calm demeanor shatters when he shouts,
“WE NEED TO GET OUT NOW!!!”
The other three don’t ask questions and quickly jump to their right and directly through the closed windows of the hallway. Once out, the rushing wind from inside the castle blows the already broken glass in their direction as they fall and they can only cover themselves as the loud sound of the outside air surrounds them.
They have narrowly avoided having their souls sucked out of them, but they are not out of danger just yet.
And Lennox points this out while the shards of glass chase them as they fall.
“HOLY SHIT THAT’S A LONG WAY DOWN!!!”
“What do you mean she’s gone..?” Ash asks in disbelief.
Zurvick’s face twitches awkwardly for a moment, he turns away from her and begins to walk across the bloodstained bridge over the moat from the battle earlier. He has no intention of going into detail about Lelaine, if possible, he’d like to block the entire thing from his mind somehow; reliving it is just too painful.
Ash doesn’t let him get off easy, she rushes him and again asks, “What do you mean!?!?”
Now Zurvick frowns, he turns to her, grabs her shoulders and shakes her violently. “WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK IT MEANS!? SHE’S DEAD! SHE’S FUCKING DEAD!”
Faced with his sudden change of character, Ash is left speechless. She’s never seen such pain in a person’s eyes, she’s never heard such despair in someone’s voice.
The fact that it is him of all people is enough to break her heart.
Zurvick lets go of her and falls to his knees, it would seem that his own words made the reality of his wife’s death all the more realistic. His shoulders drop and his head hangs low as tears start to fall from his eyes for the first time in what seems to be years.
The sobs of the person Ash cares about the most hurts her ears, she had never thought she’d see him in such a state. This is the man that she has only seen smile for as long as she can remember, she now feels that he’ll never smile again; it will be replaced permanently by the expression he’s wearing now.
What can she do to give him back that smile?
What can she say that will help ease his pain?
Is there even anything that can do that?
Ash doesn’t know, and she doubts heavily that her words will even reach him at this moment, but she decides that this is the only thing she can do for him.
She leans down to his level and grabs onto each of his cheeks, she looks him square in the eye and says,
“Listen Zurvick... I lo-----“
A thick, loud base noise is heard from behind them as a severe concussion is felt under their feet. The water of the moat begins to wake as the suspension of the bridge begins to swing a little.
Ash turns around and looks up to see a sight that so far outstretches her length of imagination it’s mind blowing.
Thousands of purple, blue, green, and red orbs float upwards toward the sky, followed by a massive pentagram seal. The little lights seem to scream in agony as they twirl about towards a figure dressed in black and the very tip of the castle.
She doesn’t even have time to think when all the windows of the castle begin popping like balloons.
The shards from the smaller ones can’t reach them; but she is terrified when she catches sight of the largest window of the castle that stretches from the second floor all of the way to the fifth expanding from within and exploding outwards in a great torrent of wind.
The hailstorm of glass is sent on a direct collision course with her and Zurvick.
Some pieces of the falling shards are so big they easily double the size of a human body, if one of these pieces were to hit them they’d be crushed instead of skewered. As if the small shards weren’t deadly enough.
Knowing what comes next, Ash shouts, “ZURVICK LOOK OUT!!!” and dives on him without even thinking.
The two lay on the wooden bridge as the splashes from the shards of the massive window hit the water around them. Then what follows is the sound of the wooden bridge being pelted by the razor sharp shards, it’s as though someone was playing a dart game with their position on the bridge as the board.
From within the fray of all these different noises, a distinct sound is heard. It is the sound of flesh being sliced, followed by a liquid being spilled. Zurvick knows this noise all too well and once the warmth of that liquid is felt on his chest his tongue feels like a ball of cotton.
He takes sharp, deep breaths as the glare from the shard of glass that fell atop them beams his eyes.
Ash slowly gets up and looks around; they are absolutely surrounded by glass protruding from seemingly every spot of the bridge. She then looks to Zurvick, and other than the shocked expression on his face, he is completely fine.
She smiles at him as the light from her eyes begins to fade. “Thank goodness... You’re... Okay...”
Her body falls limp and she collapses on top of him.
Stabbed into her back, is a foot long shard of glass from the window of the castle.
She has sacrificed her body to protect the disgruntled King of Troy, and by the looks of it she has paid the ultimate price.
Zurvick can’t handle this, he can’t watch another person he cares about die right in front of him. He leans up and pulls the glass shard out of her back, and to his dismay, blood squirts everywhere and begins to puddle around their legs.
The usual tanned Ash is losing her color rapidly and becoming as pale as the moon. She is dying in his arms.
He groans as he tries to find a way to beg her to wake up, but he is in such a poor mental state that his brain can’t even configure what words to speak.
All he can do is shake her and look down on her with pleading eyes. When she doesn’t even budge, it hits him again.
This is all his fault.
His wife, his daughter, his country, and now this young girl who’d sacrifice herself to protect such a weak man like him. He can’t lose her too; he refuses to lose her too. But sadly he doesn’t know how not to lose, he has forgotten what it was like when he was able to win and protect others in the process.
He is now completely useless, a helpless man who’s watching everything he’s ever cared about being taken away one by one.
And once Ash is gone, everything is gone.
He’d have lost it all.
He’s only capable of squeezing her limp frame tightly within his arms and letting all of the pent up emotions of guilt, shame, regret, and despair, exit his mouth in a blood curdling cry.
The souls of all the soldiers of the rebellion shine above Satan’s head like stars until he raises his hand and they all begin to swirl and mold into each other.
The souls mix all the way until there are only two orbs left, they have mixed in so much that the pretty colors are now gone and instead are an ugly black, just like the one that formed the pentagram.
Satan holds the two orbs, one in each hand and smiles. He then tosses them to the side and they both float off in opposite directions until landing about a hundred meters away on each side of the castle.
After a few moments of silence, two beams of black energy shoot from the ground and tower into the sky. The two towers are so high it seemingly stands parallel with the mountains that surround the city. The two structures have got to be at least five times the size of the Trojan castle.
These two towers, formed from the two little orbs, have hundreds of windows that stretch all of the way to the top.
Satan spreads his arms and begins to speak, “To every man and every woman of the world, I speak to you in every tongue, to inform you that everything is now under my rule.”
When he says he speaks to every man and woman, and in every language, he is literally doing that. The Archangels have used this very method during the Apocalypse, and in some sense, so did Ubica. Everyone in the world can hear Satan’s voice at this very moment.
“My name is Satan, and I am now your God! Worship me! Pray to me! And I shall give you all that you have ever asked for!”
Out of the windows of the two towers come thousands upon thousands of demons, flying, climbing, falling from the darkness and into the light of the world.
“This is my army! You can all see it can’t you? This is who you’ll be fighting alongside, these are now your allies against Heaven and all that oppose me. But to those who refuse to worship me, this army will be your death!”
Satan showed visions of his army through every human’s mind as he said that, this way they can get a grasp on what is actually happening. This is more or less a way to intimidate them into believing that his words are true; no one in their right mind would be able to refuse the reality of it all after seeing it with their own eyes.
“No one can stop me, I rule this world, I rule all worlds! So join me! Share with me the ownership of this world! All it takes is to accept me as God, and you can indulge yourselves in my spoils! You can have riches, women, fame, your wildest dreams for saying but only a word! For those who still wish to oppose me, my army and I will begin a great purge of the non-believers. I give the world one month to make a decision, for those who haven’t by then, it will be death to you all!”
This has always been his main tactic. Conform or die.
With that jumble of threats, Satan’s message to the world ends and he is left laughing in pleasure as the form of his army begins to multiply in size from behind him.
This is it, this is his time, this is what he’s been waiting over a thousand years to do.
Satan once again has control of this world.
“I’ll tell you what; I’m amazed that we didn’t break any bones after that.” Lennox said while scratching his head in amazement.
The four Knights had all jumped out of a tenth story window and landed on the down-slope of a grassy hillside and slid into the water of the moat. In there they share space with a countless number of dead people as they float unscathed in the blood red water.
“You know, even I can get grossed out. I’d really like to get out of this nasty water.” Seiri said, her misery is written all over her face.
“Moats were made so people can’t get out of them, it might take a while before we find a sewage drain to swim into.” London states.
“Whatever let’s just get going, I’m starting to get uncomfortable with all those weird looking monsters hovering around us.” Seiri responds as she points to the many demons circling the castle.
Perhaps due to them being covered in the blood of dead soldiers and blending in so well, the demons don’t seem to notice them. If they were spotted, it’s likely the demons wouldn’t hesitate to attack them, chances are they are itching to kill someone as of now.
“...Agreed...” Haas struggled to say his first words in a while.
With that, the four of them begin swimming in order to find a way out.
Of course, that is not the only thing on their minds. One thought they are trying not to think about is the fact that they have failed their mission. Their job was to protect the Queen and kill General Sturgess, and looking at what has occurred it is quite obvious that both of those objectives went unaccomplished. It is almost a complete disgrace for them, and the feeling of actually failing has yet to fully sink in because it has never happened before.
And since it hasn’t happened before, they don’t know the protocol of what happens in the aftermath of such a failure.
This prompts Lennox to ask,
“So... What are we supposed to do once we get out of here anyways?”
“That much should be obvious.” London replies as he leads the group through the bloody water of the moat. “We return to La’Juune and prepare for war.”
Down in the most southern point of La’Juune; Celestia, Allia, Olin, and Jessiah are riding back to the Capital through the snow on a lifesaving dogsled. They had heard Satan’s message loud and clear and all stay in silence as the dogs pull them towards their destination.
Jessiah is the first one to break this silence and he does so in a way that makes it seem like he has no clue how dire their situation is.
“What a bunch of losers. How the frig’ did they fail? Four Knights should be more than enough to handle a stupid rebellion.”
The other three don’t respond, in hindsight, they had almost failed as well. They couldn’t count the numerous times they almost died in their battle with Captain Red.
Allia sighs and turns to Celestia to ask, “So what do you think our next orders will be?”
“We fight duh.” Olin answered before Celestia had a chance.
“I wasn’t asking you nimrod.”
Celestia looks very serious when she says, “I don’t know what they’ll be... But I know what I must do.”
“Those weapons back at the plant, I think I figured out how to make them. And something’s telling me that we’re going to need them against this new enemy.”
“So you’re buying into this whole mess with the Devil? I thought you didn’t believe in that stuff.”
“I didn’t, at least not completely until now. I’d be stupid to not believe in Heaven or Hell now that all this happened; it has officially become a fact. That being said, we’re going to fight in a war on a scale this world hasn’t seen since the Anti-Christ’s time. We’re going to need everything we got to win this, so I’m going to make as many weapons as possible for us to fight with.”
For a non-believer, she knows about the Anti-Christ and the happenings foretold in the New Book of Revelations. For the most part, the entire world has heard of that story, and that was one of the reasons why there were so many non-believers. The Battle of Armageddon was simply on a scale too epic for their minds to wrap around.
But now, that stunning story is unfolding itself once more right before their eyes. They have no choice but to deal with it.
Their futures depend on it.
Allia smiles, looks tenderly at her tattered arm and says, “Make me the best weapon possible... With my arm the way it is, I think it’s time to graduate from a bow and arrow.”
Celestia smiles back and replies, “I already have one in mind for you. I’m going to use the same philosophy behind Jeffrey’s rings for it.”
“Something to do with magnets?”
“That’s right, except this just might even make you more of a monster than Jeffrey.”
“Well that’s going to put a fat wrench in our plans.” said Jeffrey as he and the rest await the Eiyalazonian soldiers at the top of the castle.
They were waiting anxiously as they tried to figure out a way they could talk their way out of this mess without being thrown in prison or executed on the spot.
“I can’t believe London and the others actually failed...” Elise replied, completely disappointed.
“I’m sure there were extenuating circumstances, but now’s not the time to be worrying about that. We need to figure out how to handle all this.” Jeffrey says as he glares at his unconscious King and adds under his breath, “Sorry Noah, but I won’t be leading La’Juune after all.”
He then turns to Diana and looks at her square in the eye, she seems genuinely frightened just as most people should be when confronted with a bleak future. He sighs and folds his arms, one can tell he’s in deep thought and the others wait anxiously for his decision.
“Here’s the plan... Elise.”
“When you get back to La’Juune, I want you and London to rule the country.”
“Hah? But what about you? And wouldn’t it be better if I was paired with Celestia instead? I mean, London just failed in Troy.”
“Celestia works on her own pace, I’m guessing she has a plan to make weapons or something. She’s not going to want to lead the country. London on the other hand, is the most qualified out of all of us no matter which way you look at it. He’s the only one capable of thinking many steps ahead and acting accordingly. He’s the closest thing to Noah we have. As for me...”
He turns to Diana and says, “I’ll be staying here with the Queen.”
“Are you kidding? Why in the world would you do that??”
“Think about it Elise, you heard what Satan said right? It is worship him or die. Do you honestly think that this shitty Prince could keep the country united under that kind of pressure? The people will falter and this whole country would be fucked.”
“We need as many allies as possible in this war, and now we all have a common enemy. I’ll be damned if I leave the people of this country out to die. We’re all in this together, so it’s about time we put past grudges in the garbage where they belong and fight for a future.”
Elise understands where he's coming from, she actually thinks that that might have been the coolest thing the normally dry Jeffrey has ever said.
She smiles and pats him on the shoulder rather hard before saying, “If you were a girl I’d totally fall for you.”
“I don’t have anything to say to that.” Jeffrey replies, completely indifferent to her words.
“W-What about me?” Comes the soft voice of Rain from below, she has Noah’s head in her lap and is still quite distraught about everything.
“That’s a good question, I haven’t really thought about that.” Jeffrey answered while scratching his chin.
“Then have you thought about Noah yet?” she asks rather coldly.
“If you mean his funeral, I haven’t.”
“How could you be so cold to your King!?”
“He’s not the King anymore, you heard him shift his power to us before he died right? As far as I’m concerned, all three countries no longer have a single ruler.”
Rain scowls at him and hisses, “He’s still breathing you bastard, he isn’t dead.”
Jeffrey begins to laugh slightly, he throws his hands on his waist and fights back a smile when he responds to her glare. “Alright alright, I’ve seen enough.”
“There’s no point in continuing to give you shit when you can help me.”
“What are you getting at?”
Jeffrey walks up to her and leans to her level, with a straight face he asks, “What would you do to save Noah’s life?”
“Then you are just the right girl for the job.”
He stands back up and walks away from her, he still continues as he begins pacing.
“Remember when I said that we’d need some kind of miracle to keep him alive? What was it again? Oh yeah, killing the one responsible for poisoning him.”
A new light begins brewing in Rain’s eyes as she starts to see where he’s going with this.
“Well that person is here, on Aires, and we are about to fight a war against him. The leader on the losing side of the war usually ends up dying right? So what do you say we win this thing and wake Noah up?”
Determination boils in her chest as she shouts, “What can I do!?”
“You are going to go back to La’Juune with Noah and Elise. From my understanding you are one of, if not the best Battle Strategist in the world. We could use your talents on our side, you will be the leading Strategist for all of La’Juune.”
“Do you really have that much faith in her?” Elise asks skeptically.
“I do. You can see it in her eyes, she’ll do anything for Noah. Even more than we ever could.”
“Thank you.” Rain bows, “I promise I’ll wake him up.”
“Good... With that, I think we’re ready to get the preparations underway. Diana, come with me, we have a lot of shit to talk about; it hurts my head to think about all the political nonsense we’re going to have to go through to get the other Royals of this country on board.”
“Ahhh Jeff, I like that.” he says with a pleased smile. He’s wanted the others to call him that all along but everyone strongly rejected it for whatever reason.
Diana follows Jeffrey but she hesitates when she looks back to the unconscious Dice.
Jeffrey answers her look by saying, “Leave Dice here, the medics will tend to him once the soldiers get here.”
She runs to his side and the two get to the door leading to the innards of the castle, he lets her in first and turns to the others to leave them with some final words.
“We have one month until the war of all wars starts. I’ll be doing my part here; you two make sure that La’Juune is ready to put a serious hurting on that bastard by then.”
Both Elise and Rain salute him and reply in unison,
In Hell, on the shore of a certain massive swirling lake, stands Damien with a confident smile on his face.
As if sensing Damien’s presence, Leviathan appears from the swirling torrent of agony that he calls home and stands atop it as if there was nothing below him.
“Judging by the look in your eyes, I can see that you are pleased about something.” Leviathan said.
“What a good eye you have... Would you like to know?”
“Does it involve me?”
“It involves everyone allied with me, so if you are on my side, then yes it does.”
Leviathan walks onto the shore and says, “After messing around with Ubica a little, I’ve come to the realization that what’s best for us, is your plan for him. If that means I’m allied with you over your father, then so be it.”
“Good, I actually came here in regards to some news about my father.”
“You’re one of the very few people that know of my true intentions, so I’m sure I’ve told you of my prediction on what my father was going to do about a vulnerable Earth after the abductions.”
“He was going to rise a portion of Hell’s army right?”
“Yes, and he’s done that, just as I thought he would. He has half of his power in that human container up on Earth whilst the other half of his power resides in his real body here in Hell.”
Leviathan’s interest is piqued. He wants to know what is in store for the future and asks, “What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to continue things as originally planned. It is what you are going to do is what's going to matter most.”
“Oh? And what might that be?”
“Get my father to Purgatory...”
In the familiar room with the checkered floor, Satan sits on his throne with the chessboard resting in front of him. On it shows that there are many white pieces left whilst there is only one black piece. But that one black piece is all that was needed to win the game.
With his bright red eyes he glares at the game and a deep chuckle forms in the back of his throat.
“Hehehe, Noah you foolish child. You should have known that no man can oppose me. You were never going to win this game.”
He moves his black King piece and knocks over the white King piece, sending it off the table and bouncing onto the marble ground.
“With this, the world is now mine...”
His deep chuckle makes way for a heavy laugh as he leans back in his chair and lets the glory of his victory sink in. He’s finally accomplished something that took thousands of years to fulfill; he now has an able body on the face of Earth.
Only this time, he doesn’t have to worry about the interference of Angels because they’re all dead.
He doesn’t have to worry about Jesus interfering because he’s stuck in Purgatory.
He doesn’t have to worry about God because for the most part, God never does anything in the first place.
But most importantly, he doesn’t have to worry about Ubica any longer because in his mind, Ubica will be killed and Dantega will be rid of forever before he even gets a chance to see the light of the Earth again.
This is an absolute victory, and there is nothing here to hold him back any longer.
His hysterical laugh is followed by a quick kick of the chessboard in front of him, the pieces and the board fly off everywhere but it seems to add to his already loud laugh.
During this moment of bliss he realizes that he hasn’t said the words that are used after a victorious chess battle like icing on a cake.
His eyes shine brighter than ever before as he stands to his feet and shouts,
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