Miliana, Gluttony of the seven sins, one of the royals of the depths and the one being I hoped not to fight, rushed me before I realized the fight started.
I was sure it was over. Earth, what have I unleashed…. wait. I was blocking…with one hand. I blinked.
Even Dante’s eyes were wide. I didn’t get the chance to fully unlock state three. Miliana pulled back her hand, as if coming to a revelation. Dante laughed.
“I…I cannot win,” Miliana admitted then stomped. “I…I’m stuck down here. Forever with this curse. Never to be redeemed. Never to see the blue skies, to see what it’s like to live like them.”
Something seemed to break within her, as black light began to ooze out of her mouth and eyes rapidly. The city shook.
“What’s going on, Ghos—Dante?” I said.
“It is still your fight. Your dialogue. Your call.”
“I’m not going to feel sorry for her if that’s what you think,” I said. “She sure didn’t when she ripped into everyone like fucking bloody sausages.”
“Your show,” Dante said. “I will observe. You may want to hurry. You wouldn’t escape the blast, even with ascending.”
Ah shit. I inhaled, exhaled, then for the first time, entered into the new state. A fiery heavenly-light burst around me. For a second there, I thought I lit myself on fire somehow.
Shaking off the thought, I mentally assessed my capabilities. I still had my previous abilities, but…wait. A quick trick of time and space and I could go intangible for a few seconds. That’s probably one of Conus’s old tricks I adopted. There’s something else I could do, something he can’t, but I’d have to figure it out. This state was just too new to me.
I quick-ascended to Miliana and then peeked inside her psyche. Normally I had no control over this ability. It was also only meant to work on humans.
Despite all that she’s done. Despite my twitchy fingers to denotate this psycho, as we’d probably be better off without her, I peeked. She mentioned a curse and a starvation for redemption. Very odd desires for a devil.
Unfortunately, I saw no past. Inside the psyche was a terrifying black void, emptiness, and a young woman seated on a floating rocky platform. Tears flowed from her eyes like rivers. Then the crying turned into emptiness.
“Aren’t devils evil spirits?” I said.
“Of course,” Dante answered. “Something she saw in you made her sick of the power game.”
I shook my head.
“No, it’s beyond that. Makes me question if she’s truly a devil or something else.” I paused in thought. It took only a couple of seconds for me to realize I just didn’t care for this situation. I looked Dante in the eyes, resolute. “I blew up the earth twice. I’m the last person that should be casting judgments, even to her. However.” I pressed a hand on her stomach and released the essence. “In about ten minutes, you’re going to vomit every soul you’ve swallowed, all at once. Fully restored. And you’ll feel the pain of it. You’ll feel what they’ve went through, even if they’re the vilest people in existence. Afterwards, return to Ghost. Besides serving me indefinitely, you’ll serve under him for a few years. He’ll send you to the surface afterwards. You’ll live there for some more years, then…Ghost will determine if you’re ready for redemption. He can let me know through his son. If you are, then I’ll personally send you through reincarnation. That’s the only deal you’re getting from me. No easy card, Gluttony of the seven sins.”
The light show ceased, lucidity returning to her eyes.
“You mean it,” she said softly. “Is it really a shot for redemption?”
“Yep. Also, give me back that sword.”
She returned it without a moment of hesitation. I opened a pocket dimension and tossed the thing inside for examination later.
“That sword,” Dante said. “Epex, you will ask my son about the seven swords that interrupt reality. He will know about your own then tell you what it means to possess it.”
“Seven swords that interrupt reality?” I asked as I exhaled, letting my state return to semi-three. There really was no going back.
“Not now—it’s time for you to go back.” He turned to Miliana. “As for you, out of my city. Go vomit the souls somewhere far.”
“There’s someone named Mackarth,” I said. “He’s a blue guy who’s from a realm that I don’t know. Let him live in this city. I don’t know his full story—he seemed sincere when he said he was betrayed. Cut him some slack. I can’t do anything about his chain though.”
“You heard him,” Dante said to Miliana. “It’s your path to redemption. Get him to the city, arrange an apartment and a place of employment. It’s his choice to accept or sulk.”
Miliana bowed then hurried off. When she was gone, Dante turned back to me. “Remember that whatever hope you installed in that woman is your responsibility. To give one of the seven this…Keep it in mind.”
“I don’t know what the hell I did,” I said honestly. “I peeked into her mind. There was so much sadness and emptiness. A void and a crying girl. That one’s better off being remade. Not all of them are like her though—she’s just the first to leave the power game.”
“You are a contrast of your father. I’ll be on the lookout for whatever’s next. For now, you’ve got a lot of work to do. Get moving. The crack in the balance may explain why some of dangerous devils went missing a while ago.”
I nodded, focused, and then charged essence into my back. I had to charge a ton and then picture Middleburg in my head. Thanks to dimension being cut off from the depths, nothing interfered. It was a clear shot.
“Hopefully the next time we meet will be when your duty is over,” I said.
“Drinks would be on me then.”
I laughed then ascended. Really ascended—pushing with…fiery wings that materialized from nowhere. My vision became that of blues, purples, and silvers.
Then I was in space, over the earth, a cool icy breeze blowing across my face… Something that I will not dare try to think about being in a vacuum. I suspected I wasn’t truly in space, just honing back to earth in some weird fourth or fifth dimensional way.
The space view vanished as quickly as it came and I found myself standing in a ruined Middleburg.
Felt like I went through a small hole just get inside this damn city.
Six powerful dark presences. Combat happening. I felt strangely calm. Very calm. Alright, I’d take back my city in a matter of minutes.
End of part two….
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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, 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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Author of the Blood for Soul series and a secret coming-of-the-age epic fantasy. Lover of anime and manga: so yeah, weeb shit? Fun. Sue me haha.
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