Ch 31: Separate Ways
In the morning after everyone had woken up, and Vincent had recovered from a nasty blow to the head, Diamond gathered them to go over the plan before entering the desert that made up the vastness of Pride. “Okay, seems like they actually planned something out this time,” Diamond told the group as she motioned towards the desert, “they seem to have to put two extra seals protecting the portal, so we have to get rid of those two along with the normal one before Michael can seal the portal and we can get out of here.” She had gone out late last night and could feel the three energies.
“So we trudge?” Michael asked and took off his jacket preemptively before it could get destroyed by some outside force, it wasn’t a prospect he was excited about at all but at least it was helping his cardio.
“Patience, young stripper, patience,” Diamond said so to keep him from taking anything else off, and Michael motioned undoing his belt as if he had been ready to take his pants off; that motion actually drew a slight laugh from Diamond. “Michael can go straight to the tower behind me and deal with that energy so he can seal the portal- Vincent, what the hell are you doing?” Vincent had been attempting to draw some manner of laughter from Diamond by starting to strip, but put his clothes back on in the face of her glare. “Regardless, we need to split into two groups to deal with the seals in the east and the west. Izazu and Rose go to the seal in the east and deal with the threat there. Silver, you can go with Vincent to the west.” She looked towards to tower.
“So, you’re coming with me?” Michael asked, uplifted by that news.
“Come on, Iz,” Rose told Izazu and grabbed his hand, dragging him off to where Diamond had motioned, Izazu didn’t mind since it meant less walking he had to do.
Diamond nodded and grasped Michael’s hand “Come on,” she said cutely, a move made specifically to torment Vincent. They proceeded onward and Diamond let go of Michael’s hand as soon as Vincent was out of sight and walked ahead of him.
“Diamond,” Michael said as she walked ahead, “did you do that to just hurt Vincent?”
Diamond shrugged “Yeah, so?” she turned around to face Michael.
“You know that hurt him, don’t you?” he asked her as he kept walking to catch up with the now stopped Diamond.
“That was the point of it Michael; you know what kind of s**t he put me through?” Diamond asked him as she folded her arms.
“I don’t want to talk about that Karma Su-!” He was cut off by a kick in the gut from Diamond and he crumpled to the ground.
Diamond was blushing heavily with a grimace on her face “I’m not talking about that!” she yelled and followed up quickly with, “not that we did that kind of stuff anyway.” A hasty denial if there ever was one. She proceeded onward, leaving it to Michael to catch up.
Izazu and Rose had arrived in a series of catacombs which were, quite thankfully, cooler than the desert that encased it; even if it was muggy as hell down there. They trudged on through pitch darkness for a good while, bones from the catacomb’s occupants cracked underneath their feet. “Soooo,” Rose said and was responded to by the walls with an echoing ‘ooooooo’ “are you sure we’re going the right way Iz?”
Izazu shrugged, though it was a meaningless gesture in the darkness. “Nope,” he said confidently, which warranted a chuckle from Rose. He looked around, not seeing anything due to the darkness, and ran forward ‘til he either reached some place with light or ran into something hard enough to stop him. Fortunately the two happened near simultaneously as Izazu smack straight into a large object, his top went back while his bottom half attempted to go forward which resulted in him falling flat on his back. “Ugghhh,” He groaned as the world circled around him. Candles lit up the area and Rose ran over to him, standing over Izazu with a grin.
“Smooth,” Rose chuckled and stuck her hand out to help Izazu up off of the floor. Izazu smiled and grabbed her hand, pulling himself up and seeing what had stopped him in his tracks. It was a strange statue of a king who held out a stone sword so Izazu had smacked right into the broad side. He rubbed the bruise on his chest from the stone sword and took Rose’s hand as they went around the king’s statue. “Are you alright, Iz?” She asked him “Looks like you hit it pretty hard.” She said ‘looks’ because Izazu still had a winded expression and he felt it, and there was a small crack in the stone sword.
They went on into a huge circular room which seemed to be fashioned as some kind circular chamber. The floor had a pattern that consisted of black marble cut into triangles to give the impression that they were overlapping. In the center of the chamber was a grand star made out of golden triangles which were larger than the surrounding black triangles. The candles that lit up the room failed to penetrate the darkness that engulfed the ceiling. “Scenic,” Izazu commented looking around him for any potential threats, since they hardly ever went somewhere nice without getting attacked/nearly killed.
They reached the center of the room without incident and Rose looked around. The only way out of the room was the way they had come in and the room itself was featureless except for the floor and candles that jutted out from the pillars and supported the chamber’s roof. “Well, this seems like it was a great time killer,” Rose muttered and put her hands on her hips. “So Iz, what are you going to do once you get out of hell?” she asked him, waiting for whatever was going to try to kill them to show up.
Izazu shrugged “I don’t know,” he admitted, he hadn’t actually thought of what he would do after getting out of hell, “maybe I’d go back to my home island.” He had been off of the island before he had died but that was only to get some olives from the mainland villages so they could anoint the island’s idols in the olives’ oil.
“Do you know where it is even?” Rose asked bluntly. “The world upside is bigger than you probably think, and a lot more islands in it than yours.” She was naturally blunt and didn’t realize that she had just said a bit too much. She saw Izazu’s downtrodden expression and put her hand on his shoulder “It’s alright Iz,” she told, “even if we have to search every corner of the world, I’ll help you find your village.”
Izazu smiled at Rose and gave her a hug “Thanks,” he told her. It meant a lot to him for her to say that she would go all over the world with him.
“I’m just good like that,” Rose told Izazu and chuckled. She hugged him back and then let go. She put her hands on her hips and looked around “Well, where the hell are they?” she asked, frustrated that the monster was apparently late for trying to kill them. A few minutes passed and the monster still had yet to arrive and make an attempt on their life. “Soooo,” Rose tried to stir up conversation, “you have a pack of cards?”
“Nope,” Izazu shook his head and stuck his hands into his pockets. “So what do we do now?”
“We wait, I guess,” Rose said and sat down on the star, Izazu sat next to her and they started talking as they waited for whatever they had to fight to arrive.
Vincent and Silver walked through the barren mountain range which laid in the direction which Diamond had directed them. “Are you sure that Diamond wasn’t just trying to get rid of you?” Silver asked Vincent in a flat tone. They had been walking for at least an hour through the mountains and he had yet to see any demon, which leant credibility to his theory.
“Then why would she send you along with me?” Vincent asked him in the same tone.
“Maybe she figured I would kill you.” Silver practiced forming ice in his palm, hiding it so Vincent couldn’t see.
Vincent rolled his eyes. “Silver, I’ll give you three reasons why you couldn’t kill me. One: This is a dry area and you are out of your element; two: Fire trumps Ice elementally.” That’s right, the elemental matchups from all role playing games came from magic in hell, the more you know.
“So, what’s number three?” Silver asked Vincent, confident he didn’t have a third reason.
“Three,” Vincent stopped and looked Silver in the eyes, “you aren’t strong enough to scratch me.” He leaned in closer to Silver, so the Draconian had to step back for lack of space. There was a look in Vincent’s eyes; the look was like fire burning behind Vincent’s eyes straight from the depths. “I can crush you with only a fraction of my power, and if you hurt Diamond or the others, I will crush you. Do you understand, Silver?”
Silver pushed Vincent to a standing position, Vincent didn’t resist it either. “Whatever,” Silver attempted to brush it off, though the look in Vincent’s eyes did bother him. Vincent turned his back to Silver and the Ice Draconian again practiced forming ice in a sliver behind his palm.
“Stop forming ice,” Vincent told him rather plainly, the violence from his former tone gone and replaced with his usual voice. “It’s bothering me.” Silver stopped; taken aback that Vincent could sense such a low level ability. He didn’t learn much before he was imprisoned in Wrath, but he was pretty sure making ice no bigger than a tooth wasn’t even detectable through magic by anyone other than the wyrms, so he didn’t know where that put Vincent.
They made their way up to the highest point on the trail that wound through the mountain range. Vincent saw someone chained to a rock and ran ahead of Silver. “Come on,” he told the Draconian. He reached the man who had a tan from being out on the rock and was, for lack of a better word, ripped as far as physique went. The man wore nothing but tattered pants and had a sword with a golden blade sticking out of the rock next to him. He seemed to be asleep, which Vincent quickly solved by hitting him in the shoulder in order to wake him up.
“Huh?” He shook his head, trying to wake himself up. The man yawned and pulled at his chains. “Damn, still there,” he looked at the sun, trying to figure out what direction he was facing first of all. Though the sun looked pretty high up there near noon, which was generally a bad time for him. “Is it Noon?”
Vincent checked his watch, set to standard hell time. “Yeah, it is... why?” he asked the man.
“s**t,” the man swore and tugged at his chains with a sense of urgency as a dark figure came over the horizon. “Hurry, cut these chains,” he told Silver and Vincent. Before they knew it, a large eagle was upon them, like a parrot mating with the head of a nature show host. Its wings flapped through all possible shades of black as the light reflected off of it; its eyes were filled with a hell fire that reminded Silver of what he’d seen in Vincent earlier. The bird wasted no time in attacking the intruders and dive bombed Silver, knocking him to the ground with an ‘oomph’ It shot up at Vincent, going for a crotch shot with its head. The bird was taken by surprise when it smacked its head into a reinforced cup, though the force did knock Vincent down. The startled bird looked at Vincent with wide eyes.
Vincent got up from the ground “Please,” he dusted himself off, “Diamond has done that enough times for me to learn.” He jumped to the side when the eagle launched itself at him again “Silver, now!” he called to the Ice Draconian.
“R-right,” he stuttered and frost began to form in his outstretched hand. Silver fired a flurry of ice spikes at the eagle, those that hit drew blood from the eagle and some remained lodged hampering the eagle’s movement. The eagle went to retreat back to its lair, but Silver formed an ice pike and chased after the bird. Silver got into range of the bloodied eagle and threw his ice pike at the eagle. The pike arced through the air got the eagle in its back, as it rapidly lost altitude the ice spread through the eagle’s body and froze it solid. The frozen eagle crashed into the ground and shattered in several pieces.
The young man took a deep breath of relief “Thank the goddess,” he said, glad he wasn’t going to be eviscerated by the eagle again since it became a maddening pain after seven years of such torture every day. “Please, can you cut my chains? Please, I don’t want to wait for something else to come along and attack me.” He jingled his chains.
Vincent nodded and drew his katana, cutting through the chains easily and freeing the man. “Now, what was that all about?” Vincent asked him, more like demanding answers for the actions.
“Well,” he scratched the back of his head which felt good after such a long time, “That eagle came around every day to tear my organs, then leaving them to heal again before coming the next day at noon. That punishment was supposed to be all eternity for challenging the Leo flame lord, thank you again.” All the while, he was stretching and moving to get the feel of freedom again. He walked over to the golden sword and pulled it out, flames sprouting from the sword and circling it like a wind current “It didn’t help either that I stole this from his temple then stabbed him with it.”
“So you’re a Leo,” Vincent said and saw Silver’s confused look, “Silver, don’t tell me you don’t know.”
“Well, I WAS in the shithole cell in Wrath possessed by Dragoon, so I didn’t get to exactly go on a tour of hell.” He folded his arms after the comment. His reply was reminiscent of Diamond’s attitude, possibly for Vincent’s comfort. That led Vincent to wonder if all Draconians were like that. “So I wouldn’t exactly know the ins and outs of Hell.”
Vincent sighed, finding Silver to be difficult like he hadn’t threatened Silver earlier in the day. “Okay,” he said after a pause to mark exposition, “Leos, like Draconians, come from an alternate earth of kinds, all sharing the same heaven and hell; the worlds are just separate to prevent a calamity in one from wiping out everyone else.” He had gone off and explained why the worlds were separated before Silver asked the question. “Unlike Leos or Humans, the Draconians’ world has a portal between it and hell, so Draconians and Demons could come and go as they please. When they die however, Draconians aren’t able to go to heaven or hell if they are from the Draconian world; instead they are just reincarnated.”
Silver began snapping his fingers to get Vincent’s attention. “You’re going on a tangent Vincent.”
“Right,” Vincent nodded and continued about Leos, “Anyway, Leos have lords that reside over the elements, sort of like the Wyrms are for Draconians. Our friend here attacked the most powerful of the elemental lords, presumably to take his power. For that, and taking a sacred blade from the flame lord’s temple, he was cast down into the circle of pride for his arrogance.” He wrapped it up and looked to the man to see if he had missed anything.
“Close enough,” the man jumped off a boulder he had climbed up onto while Vincent was talking, he landed cleanly and stood up from the resulting squat. “I did it to prove that I could mainly, my clan is the strongest and I wanted to prove that I was the best of them.” He nodded and swung his sword, it cleaved through the air leaving a small vacuum. He stuck the sword in the ground and held his hand out towards Vincent and Silver “The name’s Lei, by the way, and thank you for saving me again.” He would have lied if he said he wasn’t humbled by the experience.
Diamond and Michael had made their way up the tower situated in the middle of Pride to find two circles lit up and a masked fencer standing on the third seal. “Time to scooch,” Diamond ordered the fencer, flicking her wrist towards him, “we have a portal to close.”
He just laughed and brought his rapier up to level “I’m afraid I can’t do that, girl,” he laughed, “the lord has offered control of four entire legions to whoever can dispose of the lot of you. Now, on guard!” he quickly moved in and stabbed at Diamond’s chest, aiming for a quick finishing blow
Diamond fell to the ground with a thump.
“What the hell?” she complained rubbing her arm, Michael had pushed her out of the way and deflected with Nirvana at the last second. “I could have handled it, Michael.” She told him stubbornly, like he was calling her weak by pushing her away.
“Not interested in seeing you stabbed,” he told her and nearly got stabbed himself. He jumped back from another stab and attempted to slash the man but Nirvana was parried. “I’m not one for much talking during fights.”
He was interrupted by Diamond who interjected, “yes you are.” She said it in such a tone as if it was common knowledge
He blushed “not the time Diamond,” he told her and was almost stabbed again. “Like I was saying, you should at least wait for someone to answer the question you ask. Their fight moved to the top of the stairs where the man gained the upper hand. The man kicked him to the floor at the top of the stairs and kicked Nirvana down the stairs so Michael couldn’t reach it.
“It was a rhetorical question that did not need an answer,” the man told Michael and thrust his rapier down at Michael to finish him.
Time came to a crawl, and instead of flashing through his life, he heard Rose’s voice ‘Do what I’d do’ the voice spoke to him. Michael brought up his foot and nailed the man in the family jewels. The man dropped his rapier and Michael threw him down the stairs ‘close enough’ the voice chuckled. The man apparently had died when he fell since the last of the seals opened up and the portal appeared for Michael to seal. He decided to seal it after a rest, since he was too tired to go down and get Nirvana. He sat with Diamond as they waited for the others to come to the tower. They looked over the vast expanse of Pride, which was very scenic if you could forget it was filled with tortured souls. Michael leaned towards Diamond as he drifted off to sleep and rested his head on her shoulder. “Wimp,” she said as she felt his head touch her shoulder.
“Oh hush,” he muttered closing his eyes, “I was almost killed twice in the space of three minutes, I’m tired.”
Diamond sighed and looked away from him, even though he wasn’t looking at her face. “Anyway,” she started off, “you know, for saving me there… thank you.” She had taken time before saying ‘thank you’ to search for any words that would be more appropriate for what just happened.
Michael smiled calmly, eyes still closed. “Having a little trouble?” he chuckled. Diamond’s fist clenched like a reflex but settled for pushing Michael off her shoulder which drew a surprised squeak from him when he hit the floor.
Vincent came up with Silver and Lei behind him, Vincent was carrying Nirvana in his arms. “We got another member?” Diamond asked Vincent who nodded in the affirmative. Vincent walked over to Michael and dropped Nirvana to wake Michael up. The sword hit the ground with a loud thud and Michael sat up almost immediately.
“Found it half way up, some guy fell on it.” Lei told her, making his first contribution to the team, even if it was insignificant.
Izazu and Rose came up shortly afterwards, both looking pale like they had just finished being sick and they were covered in a string like substance. “What happened to you two? You look like you were attacked by spaghetti.”
They both paused, thinking of how good of a description that was for the fight “Don’t talk about spaghetti, ever again.” Rose groaned, looking like she was ready to lose her breakfast.
Manage Your Items