I found this situation to be quite ironic. Conus and Hialucus once commended me for staying in shape and reframing from gluttony, yet here I am, walking with the legendary sin herself. The only thing that kept me alive really was her not caring about anything besides food and power. That included politics between Paradise Realm and Hell.
I was on edge the entire time, internally cringing each time the devil girl looked at me. Damn, I hate being around beings that outclass me. Well, Amelia’s an exception to that—but that’s beside the point. Miliana basically held me hostage.
Devils can’t be trusted—even if they valued their “deals,” you could be sure to get the shit end of the stick, no matter what. Hmm, I suppose that’s why many of them were probably disguised as lawyers. I could only hope that she was taking me to the city with nothing extra in mind. Not turning me in for some bounty. I’m not trying to be Ghost’s personal dartboard or something. Sadistic asshats. We walked in silence for what felt like hours.
Well, I walked silently. She hummed maybe thirty different songs. The only lightning came from the fire. It didn’t take long for me to realize we were traveling along one of the fiery paths I took before. Damn…how much time has passed. Maybe days, weeks—between walking the trail of pain, then dealing with the night terror’s forest, escaping, then getting caught by an Oni who placed me in an unconsciousness spell for an indeterminate amount of time.
Just then, Miliana shifted to her adult form before speaking. The transformation took like three seconds, if that.
“What does sex feel like?”
I blinked, snapping out of my daze.
The super murderous death girl stopped and turned to me, hands on her hips.
“What does sex feel like, mortal? Humans seem to do whatever it takes to have it.”
I blinked again.
“Aren’t you demon-types all about sex, money, and power? Your kind left a stain of it on humanity.”
“Yeah as if any devil is stupid enough to have sex with another our kind. Especially in this place.” Miliana continued to walk. I followed. “You know the deal with us, it’s either show strength with a brutal fist or crumble with the weak. And we’ll do whatever it takes to climb to the top.” I wanted to retort something sarcasm, but thought better. What good would it do to piss off the super murdering endless eating death machine? “So, what’s sex like?”
“I’ve burned in Hell for eight years,” I said. “Can’t except me to have much of a social life.”
Miliana gave me a skeptical look.
“Just asking. I want to try it but getting out of this place is impossible.”
Good, bitch. I hope you never get out.
My eyes widened when she looked at me as if looking for answers.
“Yeah you can forget it,” I said. “I’m just a soul. Couldn’t get it up even if I wanted to.”
“You probably don’t have immunity to this heat either. No worries though. Ghost’s city is its own dimension, mirroring the human world. The essence inside will bring you back to life, since you don’t have a chain. To this day, no one can figure out how Ghost did it. He doesn’t associate with royals outside of meetings.”
My eyes widened.
“What do you mean I’ll be brought back to life. That sounds impossible.”
“Indeed, it does,” Miliana continued. “Every devil in that city wants to get ahold of that kind of power. Some of the skanks tried to get into Ghost’s family, offering themselves to marry his son before he was banished. Regardless of his age. Desperate whores. Ghost wants no one close to him.”
“Can’t blame him,” I said.
“That deters from the point. If I had the time, I’d simply force the sex out of you. But with this fancy new sword, I’ve got places to be, power to gain. Maybe resistance to eat.”
I shuddered. The devil girl continued to boast. “I’ll probably hunt you down when you’ve adjusted to city life. If I don’t like what the humans keep trying to do at every moment, I could always chomp you down.”
I did my best to ignore that comment. My escape route had been given to me on a silver platter. The second I get to the city, I’m ascending the fuck out of here.
“How long do we have until we get to the city?” I asked.
“We’re approaching the entrance,” the death machine replied. “You won’t see it at first due to the spell.”
She was right. In a blink, gates to a…freaking modern human city appeared in front us, about ten yards ahead.
I couldn’t describe my bafflement—on the other side of those gates was a blue sky, traffic, people or beings in human form walking amount. Some of them looked like a typical businessman with a briefcase. It looked like a New York City clone. How in the hell did this escape the eyes of Paradise Realm?
I depowered out of my locked state so I wouldn’t attract unwanted eyes.
A guard took one look at Miliana, bowed, and let us through without saying a word. I felt a second of vertigo, then the world for me changed. The effects of the depths were completely gone, leaving me feeling…normal.
The need to breathe came from nowhere—and I inhaled air and then exhaled. My soul generated a flesh body instantly—but no would be able to tell—my clothes didn’t shift or anything.
“This…is unreal,” I said softly. “I’m alive again.”
Miliana shrugged then froze, her eyes widening as she looked at something behind me.
I turned to see a man. A very intimidating-looking man who looked to be in his late thirties with long black hair, a goatee, red eyes. Vicious, immense, world-expanding invisible aura radiated around him. I could feel his power…it matched Conus. No…there was even more power, a depth that I cannot sense. There could be only one being down here that could have power that felt like this. The man’s presence was neither human, devil, demon—it just felt alien. Something way above my capacity to understand. Something that didn’t belong here.
“I have no idea what you’ve done to get that one interested enough to not consume you,” he said in a voice smooth as silk. It’s one of those voices that emit the, “you can relax. I won’t need to kill you. I’ve got people for that,” feeling. There was a slight accent in the voice…Italian? Damn did his power exerted around him, outclassed everything here. The pressure made it a bit tricky to stand. He continued to talk. “Come, Epex Helios, demigod son of Conus. We need to talk. And trust me, you’ll want to hear this.” He turned and began walking in a direction. I started to follow but Miliana grabbed me with two hands. The man stopped without turning around but said nothing.
“You…you,” she said softly, eyes filled with a little mania. “You…can get me out of here, right? You’re really one of them. This place restored you. I want out. I’ll do anything. Get me out—”
“You will go,” the man said in a voice that was final. “If you think the King would stand by and allow one of the seven sins to roam free, you’re mistaken and foolish. Your intentions were to simply drop this one off, yes?”
“Yes, my lord,” Miliana replied, “but…I want to be human and get out of here. I don’t want to be this anymore. He’s the heir. He can make it happen.”
“Not anymore,” the man said then turned to look at her with a glare that made the death machine bow down. I would’ve shat myself it was directed at me. I liked this guy already. Not taking shit from any of these sadistic fucks. That’s why I didn’t feel bad for her. She sure as hell didn’t feel for Mack or anyone else she consumed.
I was curious though. Could it be possible that she was tired of the hunger? She seemed to control it during the walk. I must say—good thing the deadly mistress of doom had no idea of my identity. While the elite’s sword had real value, I had no real qualms about giving it away to stay alive.
“Begone,” the man said without raising his voice. “He is no longer in a position of power. Use your head. Why would he be here?”
Miliana nodded, seeming to deflate.
“Forgive me, my lord. I shall be going.” She shrunk to her kid form, looking a bit awkward carrying the sword as she walked away. I gave myself a mental pat on the back for surviving a threat as powerful as she.
“Come,” the man said. “You know who I am. It is time for you to learn some truths. And deliver a message to my son.”
“You’re letting me go?” I said, surprised.
“You see me as the enemy, narrow-minded vision, but not the big picture,” he said.
“Well, growing up knowing you only as Demon King Ghost is kind of the reason why,” I said. I fought against the inner nervousness that wanted to make me shit myself.
“That ridiculous nickname. Very well, you shall call me Ghost until after you’ve learned the truth. Without it, you will end up getting killed again, chained, and stuck down here. And only the king can remove a chain.”
He walked toward a very tall building—a mega version of the empire state building. I followed without saying anything else.
I still couldn’t believe that I…was trailing the one and only…Sin’s freaking father. And not dead! This will be a story the others would love to hear. Damn did I miss them.
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Alvin Atwater is a man of humor, a starving author. With a unique writing style that can outshine even Jim Butcher, Patria Briggs, or Kevin Hearne (It's a joke. These are among my favorite authors) , he is a character-driven lovable lump of mass. Born in Florida, he's on a mission to defeat his arch nemesis, Florida Man, once and for all.
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