|Depths of Reality
Author: JumperxMelon PM
The Demon kills any human that steps into The Depths. Except for me that is. I'm the girl who named Azrael. I'm the girl who he spared. I'm the girl who visits him everyday. I'm also the girl who's going to kill him. Felicity Edmonds was always known for her luck. But now it looks like it's about to run out.Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Drama - Chapters: 25 - Words: 54,983 - Reviews: 48 - Favs: 14 - Follows: 19 - Updated: 03-03-13 - Published: 09-27-12 - id: 3061382
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter Twenty-Three: Zero
By the time we were finally about to be sent to the Depths, the Leading Families were talking every opportunity to make my last day as difficult as possible. Coyle took great pleasure in explaining that they weren't on planning to spill the fact that Azrael had switched places with Blake (something about keeping up appearances), and so he proceeded to inform me in unnecessary detail what they'd tell my Grandfather about my death. He even asked me what colour I wanted for my funeral theme – it was tradition that the colours for those who died in the Depths were black and red, but Coyle thought I 'might like to be overthrow some more beloved traditions'.
I wasn't even allowed to see anyone I had vaguely gotten along with since arriving at the Fuse Box, with the exception of Azrael of course; for he was pretty much completely ignored by everybody around us. Whenever I asked about Leo or the others, the response was either silence or (in Coyle's case) laughter. Even my own Grandpa was barred from seeing me; he'd already lost Casey to the Depths – Azrael reassured me that she was simply being left alone at the bottom of the steps – but now the child he'd raised since birth was being sent down too, and he couldn't even say goodbye. My only comfort was reminding myself that Grandpa would probably believe I would be in safe hands in the Depths, so he would hopefully worry slightly less. Yeah, the comfort didn't so much good.
And yet, after all this, my final humiliation was still to begin. Yes, they would keep Blake's true identity secret, but I was widely known for being the 'demon-hugger'. My latest demonstration with my envelope at the Light of the Depths only gave them more of a reason to disgrace me completely.
Typically, each Light Bearer is dressed and escorted everywhere on their last day by one of the Fire Council Representatives. Of course, that was when there were four Bearers and four Representatives. This time we had a total of eight Bearers and three Representatives, so they had to ask some of the older Fire Council Members to help out. I had the privilege of being paired with Grace Hughes; the only current female Fire Council Representative, and well known for being supremely stuck-up. Azrael was stuck with the widely loved Zeke Keegan, but refused to leave my side for even a moment.
Or at least, he did until I told him to get out when we were dragged to the top floor of the building to get dressed. I had never actually watched the Light Bearers enter the Depths, nor had I seen the group last month depart from the Fuse Box, so this idea of having a traditional dress was new to me. It only made Grace scoff when I asked if this was normal.
The dress I was forced into seemed extremely unpractical for killing demons; knee length and with long sleeves that fell off the shoulders. It was completely black, but the sleeves and outer lining of the skirt was made of a lighter and translucent material. Around my waits was a section of pale blue that also seemed a little strange. Finally, Grace handed me a pair of black pumps, to which I asked to wear my much more sensible trainers. She scoffed again and threw my trainers into the bin. Seriously. The whole ensemble seemed like a joke; no wonder the Bearers died so quickly if they were made to wear this. I felt a little better when I saw Azrael dressed in an all black ensemble consisting of a high collared jacket over a vest and loose trousers. We weren't allowed time to comment – though our equally baffled expressions spoke plenty – for Grace and Zeke propelled the two of us back towards the elevator so we could be piled into a car with the other Light Bearers.
My breathing hadn't improved since waking up properly, but I had mastered the skill of diving into my breathing space at any time I was really air deprived. Safe to say, Grace hadn't been happy with it; though I'd never asked anyone what happened to my physically body when I stepped inside the space. The only times I'd done it were in my sleep or when I was alone – excluding the time I passed through my space to meet Sullivan.
I took another quick breather whilst in the elevator. It was a good thing too, for when the doors slid open and all those eyes turned to me, the disgust the spread across all their faces was enough to stop anyone breathing.
We were pushed out of the elevator into the lobby, but then Azrael and I could only stare into the glaring crowd. All it took was a step forward to part the mob and create a path for us to the cars outside.
That's when I realised what my final humiliation was.
Standing by the cars were the other Light Bearers – Leo, Mabel, Felix, Andrew, Gertrude and Coyle – all in their traditional attire. Yes, they wore the same outfits as Azrael and I... except...
"The colours..." Azrael muttered to me as we walked.
I knew that the dress seemed off; black was a colour for funerals, and blue? That was stereotypically the colour for the Depths – the place of cold demons. The only colours the others were wearing were white and red: the two real representative colours of the Light Bearers.
They had us walking into the Depths already tainted. Azrael was already marked for death. I was wearing the colour of the enemy.
And I still held my head up high.
If someone was in my eye line, staring at me, I stared right back. I walked with as much pride as anyone else did; though I'll admit most of it was faked. Azrael didn't seem fazed either, though I think he sometimes forgot who he was pretending to be.
There were only a select few who I couldn't look in the eye. One was my Grandpa: he was in my peripheral vision at one point, but I walked right on by. Two were Audrey and Brandon; I had to actively look away from them, too aware that I was probably to blame for their father being taken away.
Coyle wore this look of conceit that he tried (and failed) to mask with feigned shock. The others – with the exception of Leo, who had the same expression of guilt as he always seemed to have lately – all seemed genuinely horrified at what we were wearing. As expected, it was Gertrude who opened her mouth to speak, but she was stopped as we were all shoved into the cars as fast as possible.
Azrael and I wound up riding with Leo and Coyle – though it seemed planned – and as the car pulled away from the Fuse Box, I silently revelled in the knowledge I wouldn't be going back, no matter what happened.
I was more than happy to wait the drive out in silence, as was Azrael who was noticeably growing more and more expressionless the longer we were in the car. His arms were folded tightly across his chest and his eyes glazed over as he stared straight ahead.
Unfortunately, as I said, I was in a car with Leo and Coyle, and it seemed that the two Higgins' didn't get along that well.
"Whilst I think you two look fabulous, I'm not sure on the outfits," Coyle grinned, tugging at my sleeve.
"Cut it out," Leo told him.
"What do you think of them Leo? Isn't it a bit bold of them to so obviously state their defiance?"
Leo's eyes did in fact flicker over to me for a moment, but then he looked back out the window and shrugged. "They seem suitable for the circumstances. It's not like they're on the White side."
"Someone sounds sour!"
"Coyle, shut up."
The two continued arguing for the rest of the car journey; the topics mainly surrounded Azrael and me, but we gladly stayed out of it. I was much too focused on keeping my breathing in check, so the others didn't think I was panicking or something. I was grateful when the car pulled into my old home.
Everyone clambered out of the cars, and most begun pulling things out of the boots and handing them to Coyle and the others. The main thing that caught my notice was how Gertrude and Mabel were being helped out of their dresses (which were apparently half detachable) and into clothing that would indeed be more suited to demon killing. After that, they were all allowed to choose their weapons from the wide selection brought along.
My Grandpa – who had come in a separate car as Defender of the Door – wandered around giving his blessing to the Bearers as they prepared. The responses varied: Gertrude simply scoffed; Andrew and Mabel each gave him proper thanks; Leo didn't respond at all; and Felix handed him something to give to his children. Coyle was the last of them to be approached, and spoke with a wide smile to Grandpa about how Casey would be in safe hands soon. I doubted that.
Finally, though everyone else was completely ignoring us, my Grandpa made his way over to Azrael and I. The disguised demon couldn't stop fidgeting as his eyes stayed glued on the walled shrine.
"May the fires of our ancestors guide you through the darkest depths."
The words were rehearsed and spoken without a hint of emotion. After, however, he looked me square in the eye and asked "Will you come back?"
"I don't know," I admitted. He looked defeated. "But, I swear Casey will. If it's the last thing I do, I'll send her back to you, Grandpa."
All of a sudden, a wave of uncharacteristic emotions raced across my Grandpa's features. I couldn't tell if it was pride or sadness I saw, it might have even been repulsion – though I hope it wasn't. In the end, he didn't say anything.
He placed a hand on my shoulder, and said the first words he'd ever said directly to my grandfather. "I've protected her for eighteen years; that's not going to change any time soon."
I don't know if Grandpa knew from the start Blake was Azrael, if he just realised then, or if he realised at all; but the silent nod he gave to Azrael seemed to be a rite of passage for the demon. If Azrael understood the meaning behind the old man's eyes, he never said, but his arm was suddenly wrapped around me protectively.
As we were called over to the shrine, my Grandpa walked away from me. There was no last goodbye and there wasn't a kiss on the forehead. Not a hug or a smile of kindness. Just his terribly small back as he walked back towards my old house. Azrael pulled me away, and my eyes eventually had to turn away from the man who raised me.
I expected there to be a more ceremonial entrance, for someone to make a speech like they did when they picked the Bearers; instead, the eight of us were pushed inside that small room. The Door in the middle was still shut as the shrine door closed behind us, leaving us alone in the dark.
Then, there was a click as Leo opened a Lighter. That tiny flame was what filled the room with light, and allowed me to watch as all sex of the people across from me unzipped their jackets. A lump rose in my throat and I suddenly felt light headed.
"We changed the outfits this year. I thought it would help you out a little," Coyle grinned wickedly.
Each red vest that was worn had a symbol over where their heart was. Each symbol tore at my heart. Each one was a white chess piece.
Felix: The King.
Mabel: The Queen.
Coyle: The Bishop.
Gertrude: The Knight.
Andrew: The Pawn.
And Leo? Leo didn't have a chess piece. He had a small white flame.
I'd known they were the ones I'd been playing against, but it wasn't until that moment that I believed it.
It suddenly became very real.
Without another word, Andrew moved over and opened the door to the Depths. Beside me, Azrael flinched in anticipation. I inadvertently inhaled. The cool air that filled my lungs brought me back to life.
"Flick," Leo said softly. "I never wanted to do this."
"I know," I nodded. "Neither did I."
He tossed the little Lighter towards me.
The flame went out half way.
I caught it.
Azrael moved. Swinging his arm out and hitting me in the gut, sending me flying backwards through the Door.
I couldn't even gasp. I just waited for the impact with the stairs.
Instead, a thin pair of arms wrapped around my body.
"Castle! At least warn me before you send our Master flying!" the high pitched voice that held me screeched.
There wasn't a reply.
A cascade of ice surrounded me.
And I was dropped to the flat ground.
When my eyes adjusted, I was staring up at a group of faces: some I recognised, some I didn't.
"Well, Master," said King with a pleasant smile. "That was a truly inspiring entrance. Was the theme: jump for your goals?"
A deafening cackle that matched the voice which caught me sounded from a young woman with cropped hair.
"Azrael?" I called out; sitting up to look around the darkness for him.
"Castle's busy dealing with the Whites. Trust them to attack before you even step into the Depths," Queen shook her head in disapproval. "Oh, how rude of us! These are your other Chess Pieces: Bishop, Knight, and Pawn."
She motioned to the tall thin man who'd originally tried to kill me in my bedroom – he still had his eyes closed – when she said 'Bishop'. Knight was the young woman with the high voice who'd saved me from my fall.
And Pawn? She was a small girl who knelt beside me: eyes wide and lips twisted into a sickening smile. Her clothes were the only ones that were ragged and grimy, and even her skin was dirtied with something. Slowly, she shuffled forward until she snaked her bony arms around me.
"Pawn like new Master. New Master good. Yes. Very good. Same."
Somewhere behind me there was a bright flash of light and a BANG that made us all cringe.
"Oh joys, they're already breaking out those little exploding things," King grumbled.
I hadn't realised it, but my hands were shaking.
My hand tightened around the Lighter Leo had thrown to me, and my ears began ringing with the same words in a voice that I somehow recognised.
"And so, another Game begins."