4. Hex

Where was he? Where the hell was Darien! He had taken him. He had taken Joshua – her Joshua. Blair cut through the shadow creatures with a renewed energy, taking out two to three at a time. She was furious. How dare he steal her Joshua from her? If he died, there'd be hell to pay.

The enemy was dropping like flies, Blair mowing down the majority of them. A few of the smarter ones turned tale and ran, and Blair was soon on their heels. Kane and Ion chased after her, leaving Vincent. However, that didn't blow over well with the demon, and in one giant blast he blew the rest of them sky high where they dissolved. One of the three human shaped shadows stopped and attacked Blair in an attempt to thwart her pursuit and it caught her by surprise. She managed to take an arm off before it knocked her down. Kane cleaned up with a sweep of his icy waters, and it vanished just as she came up.

Ion aimed an arrow at the back of one of the retreating figures as Kane shaped his deadly ice needles.

"No!" Blair roared, catching them both off guard. She wiped dirt from the side of her mouth and lifted her sword once again. "Leave them. Without them – without them we won't find Joshua."

"That's absurd!" Ion retorted, "How do we even know that they're heading to the same location!"

"I can feel it. That bastard's not getting away!"

Blair was back on the trail again. Sure the shadows were a little farther off, but Vincent had showed up at just the right second. His eyes could see far, and he knew within seconds just where they were going.

He placed a hand on Blair's shoulder, "Wait," he ordered.

"Wait? Wait?" she asked, the pitch of her voice rising dangerously close to hysteria, "Wait for what? For Joshua to be killed?"

"Calm down Blair. If Darien had wanted to kill Joshua he would have done it on the spot," Kane replied, "Just listen for a moment." He then turned his attention to Vincent, his eyes narrowing a bit, "He's taken Joshua to that place, hasn't he?"

Vincent nodded, his eyes still focused ahead, "I'm sure of it."

"What place?" Blair questioned.

"Kane, Vincent, what is 'that place'?" Ion asked, he too seemed not to know what it was.

"It's the place where Anika and Kale died four years ago…" Vincent answered.

Ion stiffened, what little color there was in his face drained completely away. The scar on his neck suddenly throbbed – a reminder of the agony he had suffered over news of her death. He had never once seen the place where Anika had died, nor had he been told all the details about it.

"Let's go," Ion declared suddenly, turning to face the path, "We don't have any time to spare if we want to rescue Joshua."

The four of them then turned and ran, sprinting down the path. Each held their own well, but Blair's anxiety had her second in lead, right next to Vincent. They kept distance from each other, making sure there was room for their weapons without fear of hitting one another. It was a smart choice, for soon after they passed the fork in the road they came across shadow creatures. Ion blasted the smaller groups away with his wind, flinging them back like measly play things, but as the bundles of them grew thicker and thicker, it became more difficult to make fast work of them.

The pace they then moved at was agonizingly slow. Blair wanted nothing more than for them to vanish. "Get out of my WAY!" she screamed as her blade cut through four other creatures, killing three and wounding one. She kicked the wounded on where the blue blood pulsed out, moving it from her path. Just ahead she could see the empty stretch of deadened grass before a charred building. The walls were dark, small little patches of white peeking out from where an old fire has missed it. Most of the roof was missing, and it expelled a soft glow from the light of candles within.

A human shaped shadow took her by surprise and she was thrown down claws cutting through the flesh of her arm without trouble. She screamed, the pain shooting up through her arm. Her sword, now useless with only one good arm, was dropped in the deadened patch of grass beside her. She clenched her teeth. This couldn't be it, she wouldn't accept that – this would not be her ending.

A brutal gust of wind slapped the shadow back before being impaled by Kane's deadly ice needles. Two pairs of hands reached down and pulled her up to her feet, one held her steady and the other examined her would.

Blair's head spun, and by time her vision focused, Ion was ripping a piece of his shirt off and wrapping it around her arm as a temporary bandage. It was tight and it stung, but they said it would do.

Vincent took out the last of the creatures and they were running again, this time Kane at Blair's side in case she should fall back.

Ion was the first to reach the burnt remains of the building. Half of the double door was gone, the other half was missing bits of itself, leaving huge gaps. The inside was just as bad, but it wasn't the burnt innards that made the blonde male freeze in his tracks. It wasn't the rows of candles or the alter at the end of the former church building that made his heart sink and his blood run cold.

At the end of the building, still pinned to the back wall by the broadsword that had stuck her there was the charred and skeletal remains of the girl he loved. Her corpse – what was left of the tissues – was still bound to the wall in a disgraceful display that shook his very core. Every cell in his body was screaming at him – telling him he had to get her down and give her the burial she deserved. He was so focused on Anika's remains that he didn't notice the second corpse – much like Anika's – that lay on the ground at the first one's feet. He took a shaky step forward when a hand grabbed him by the shoulder.

"Not now," Vincent said. He saw that terrified look on Ion's face. He knew what it meant for the boy to see this, "This mission is for the living."

The blonde nodded his head. He understood. The living came first – that as the rule. The group's pace down the aisle was slow, their steps cautious. All around them the sights screamed of something dark and evil. Black candles liked the walls and surrounded the table Joshua's body was bound to. In the background was the low hum of a chant – or was it a spell?

Joshua's head turned, and he easily spotted Blair. A desperate smile flashed across his face and his struggles against his restraints began anew. "Blair! Thank God! Help me! Help me, Please!" For the first time in his life he was actually terrified. It was as if he could feel his end drawing nearer with each wasted second. "Help me!" His time was coming to an end – that was what he could feel in the ach of his bones – and he was scared to death by it. "Blair!" Joshua was to the point of breaking out in hysterics – laughing when he should be crying and begging for his life – but the sight of his best friend had suppressed that sudden urge. His heart skipped a few beats at Blair's appearance, and he wished to tell himself he was saved.

However, he knew he was far from it.

Suddenly, Joshua felt his heart slow, and the terror subsided. His mind cleared, and he was at peace despite his current situation. "Blair," he called, his gaze softening. He knew this was the last time he'd see her.

Blair stopped in her tracks. Something was wrong. Something was dead wrong, and she didn't like it at all. Joshua was being too serious. He had stopped struggling – he stopped pleading for her to save him. She stared at him in wide-eyed terror, afraid of what his next words could be.

"Just go," he said softly, letting his voice drift to her over the ritual Darien was performing somewhere in the background. He could see the creatures in the corners of the room, ready to spring out and attack if her group got to close to the ritual. "It's alright, I won't blame you. It was my fault…" There was no way out. He'd rather let Darien finish his summoning than let Blair die trying to save his sorry ass. "Goodbye, Blair."

"No, Joshua, NO!" Blair lunged forward, but was held back by Kane as Darien dragged out an object from his belt.

It was a dagger, the blade longer than the usual piece of work, but too small to be considered a short sword. The blade was so dark and black it seemed to absorb light and expel none from its curved jagged surface. Darien raised the blade high above his head, his eyes locked on the exposed flesh of Joshua's torso.

"And now, my Lord, I release you," he hissed.

Darien brought the dagger down, plunging the blade into Joshua's stomach. The boy screamed, his head jerking back and his eyes widening as the pain raked his body. Darien removed his hand from the blade's hilt, letting half of the blade protrude from his flesh. His eyes lit with enjoyment as a matching grin stretched across his features.

Blair screamed, thrashing against Kane's arms. She struggled too much that Ion had to step in and help hold her back. None of them knew what was happening, rendering them all useless. They could only wait and see what was to happen to Blair's best friend.

Joshua's nerves went haywire. His back arched and his body trembled. The black dagger seemed to melt into him, its dark surface spreading across his skin. It slipped over his flesh – tendrils of dark matter – sinking into the pigment and spreading itself. The boy writhed under its poisoning tendrils, his screams so loud he was sure his throat was to bleed. He began to choke on them, the verbal shrieks of agony. Joshua felt something tearing inside him. He could feel his very soul ripping apart and vanishing. There would be no Heaven or Hell for him – only oblivion. He could hear the screams of his friend, and he only regretted that she had to witness this.

The dark vines slipped over his bare torso and up to his neck, down his arms and legs. It was determined to take every part of him. Every inch meant more power. It penetrated deep inside him, digging in and anchoring itself to his very core. Through the body's wild thrashing, the restraints weakened, and soon, when Joshua had no control over most his body, they broke. Chains shattered like glass, looking as weak as a piece of yarn snipped ruthlessly by a pair of scissors.

That was the moment it had waited for.

The dark matter then shot up the boy's neck, taking away what verbal ability he had left. Instead, as the boy choked on his last moments of existence, the voice grew deeper. The teeth in his mouth grew more jagged – the sharp incisors of a predator. His iris and pupil faded into nothing, leaving only the whites of the eyes. One last rip, and Joshua's soul was gone, the screams of agony stopped, soon replaced with laughter. It was low at first, but grew volume as the body's hair color changed as the rest of him had. Tresses of chocolate brown lightened and shifted to locks of an eerie crimson, and the transformation was finished.

Laughter filled the rundown church as the figure slowly lifted itself to a seated position. His head turned and he flashed his sharp incisors at the group of witnesses in a malevolent grin. "Is this the welcoming committee?" he queried. The man lifted a hand, his forefinger curled against his thumb, "I have to say; I'm not impressed." With the mere flick of his finger, he cut a gash across Kane's forehead.

The line of blood came quick. So quick, in fact, that there was no time for the young man to dodge or defend himself. A sharp pain blossomed from the tip of his brow to his hairline. Kane flinched back and lifted a hand to wipe at it. His palm returned covered in his own blood, and soon enough, the warm liquid began to spill down the side of his face.

"Run!" Vincent shouted, pulling at the shoulders of the kids in front of him. "Don't just stand there, we don't have a chance of survival if we stay. Turn and run now!" he instructed the three.

"But – but Joshua-!" Blair gasped. Her knees grew weak. Tears blurred her vision as she stared at the figure before her. This - this thing that had spread over Joshua's body and taken him away. "Joshua, Joshua!"

The demon lifted her and threw her over his shoulder. He knew Blair wouldn't be able to run, not in the state she was in. Vincent turned to face the exit, "Move!" he ordered. As soon as the boys were in front of him, he turned and took Blair with him out the rundown building.

Blair screamed the whole way out.

"Joshua! You son of a bitch! What did you do to him? I'll kill you! I'LL KILL YOU!" she sobbed, reaching out for the Joshua that was no longer there. He was gone – gone forever – his soul obliterated as if it had never existed in the first place.

Vincent soon took the lead as they ran across the field that separated the first building of the old rundown town from the forest. They day was overcast, the sky littered with clouds. Little sunlight came through, leaving only little patches to spread and give them the sunlight needed. Several times the demon looked over his shoulder. Not only did he glance back to make sure they weren't being followed, but he was making sure that Ion and Kane weren't turning back. He was worried about them, as well as Blair. Each of the three had lost someone dear in the Void; each had a good reason to do something reckless.

Every time he checked, the boy's were still there, sprinting behind him.

They bypassed Blair's sword without as much as a glance to its shining surface in the deadened vegetation. It was left behind. Even if they had seen it, there was no time to stop and pick it up. Vincent wouldn't feel safe until they were back at the Heart – back in the orphanage where they weren't so exposed.

As a precaution, Vincent took a well worn path through the forest, rather than the main road. The main road was to open, too exposed. Aside from their footfalls and the snapping of twigs beneath their feet, Vincent could clearly hear the sobs Blair was desperately trying to fight back. He felt her fingers entwine with the material of his shirt, a gesture of one's desire to calm the turmoil inside.

His fire affinity acted automatically as he ran, blocking any attempted attacks from nearby creatures with a wall of flame. Behind him, he could hear Ion's wind and Kane's icy water do the same.

The shadow creatures were following them, tracking them. They ran alongside the path they took, waiting for their opening or diving in to please their bloodlust. Among the other creatures was another figure. It was leaner than the human shaped shadows – faster. Vile laughter poisoned the air around them, and soon enough, their new foe was easy to spot. It wasn't hard. After all, he wasn't trying to hide – he had no reason to.

"What's wrong, demon? Afraid of me?" chortled the thing. He drew closer to Vincent's side with each step, and in a few steps, the thing in Joshua's body would be running beside him. This speed was easy for him, and he knew it was easy for Vincent to keep this pace as well. After all, demon's were much better built than humans.

But he was better built than any demon.

"Come now, demon? Are you going to answer me or do I have to guess?" Amusing. It was always amusing to see how others reacted to him. With a grin, he sprinted ahead of the group, disappearing in the thicket of threes around them. He would have his fun – whether they wanted any part in it or not.

As soon as his figure disappeared, Vincent spoke, "Ion, Kane, no matter what happens – head straight to the orphanage. He slowed for a moment, passing Blair off for Kane to carry. "If you get separated from each other, make sure you don't stop running until you get back to the Heart. Whatever you do, don't answer his questions, don't even look at him. Just keep running."

The two nodded, and the three of them were off again.

It didn't take long for them to catch up to their new enemy. He stood in their path, the white eyes in his skull staring straight ahead. A grin had plastered itself on his lips and as he spread his arms, shadow creatures seemed to spawn from his very essence. "Let's play a game of tag. Only one rule, boys: I'm always it." He leaned forward, his knees bent, waiting for the right moment.

Ion and Kane branched off, taking separate paths and disappearing from the path. They would follow Vincent's orders.

With a laugh, the creature shot forward, running straight at the demon – the only one left on the path. He would go easy on this Vincent character. After all, what fun were toys when you broke them on the first day? The force of his sprint blew his crimson tresses from his visage, displaying his wide whites without any distracting strands in the way. A melodious laugh ripped from his lips as he swung a clawed hand at the demon.

Vincent ducked in his run, dodging the hand. However, that didn't stop the damage from being done. The skin along his shoulder and neck blossomed, splitting open to spill his warm beads of blood. The entire section of his shirt was shredded from the force of the invisible blow, but neither the wound - nor the pain that came with it - stopped him. Vincent weaved between trees, the new enemy on his heels. He could have easily picked up the pace and made it back to the orphanage in no time, but he needed to buy time for Ion and Kane. Running at human speed was the best he could do.

It was easy enough to say that the thing in Joshua's body was enjoying himself. The redhead he chased was taking the long way home. Vincent thought he was helping his friends by 'distracting' this one. The thing laughed. The only reason he hadn't gone after the other two was because they weren't interesting to him.

Well, not yet at least.

Minutes ticked by. The man chasing him wasn't getting any closer. Vincent was losing energy. His flames kept reaching out to push away and block attacks from the shadow creatures. He was being toyed with. Bit by bit, the creatures were draining his energy, while the other followed him, waiting for him to mess up and fall. Vincent's amber eyes looked forward again. He could see the Heart just ahead. Just a few more yards and he was there.

The wall was repaired, and their earth affinity was holding a segment open for him – waiting for him. Behind the child Vincent could see Ion and Kane. They were safe – meaning the three had managed to get back without trouble.

The demon opened up, increasing his speed in a sudden burst. He left the creatures and the strange new enemy behind, crossing the last distance in seconds. As soon as he passed the wall, it slammed shut behind him and sealed itself. The barrier went up, covering the exposed sky above the orphanage just as Vincent came to a halt in the backyard.

His breath left him in heavy pants, and in seconds, Erik was at his side, helping him stay on his feet. The angel exclaimed something about his shoulder wound, but Vincent didn't hear it. Aside from his heart hammering in his ears, he could hear the creature's laughter. It penetrated the wall around the Heart and echoed all around them.

"Let's play tag again soon, Vincent."

Author's Note: So, I hope you all enjoyed Chapter four. I've been typing this like mad lately. I need ot go find my notes to see what I'm supposed to write out next in my sequence of events. I'm already missing Joshua. Dammit. Just a warning, this story is much worse when it comes to cruelty than the last one was. This is the last book, and there's alot of shit that goes down.

Just a notice for my readers. Those of you reading DC (Death Child) still, I'm going to be taking it down soon. This is because I might be getting an agent for a chance at publication. Once I get an agent, DC is going down. As soon as that happens, the title of this is going to change. It's now called 'Hex' and the first book will be called 'The Living Void'. I will do my best to keep these chapters coming for those of you reading my series. I apologize again to those who are angry at me for killing Anika, but it was for the development of Ion's character. He becomes stronger because of all this.

Also, I would like to request none of you try to kill me for what will soon happen in this book. Several bad things happen in this final segment about the Living Void, and I already fear for my life because my friend Jessica is threatening to kill me if something happenes to her favorite character - which will happen thanks to my brainstoming sessions with one of my best friends Alex.

However, I do hope you all enjoy my works. I will be doing my best to continue writing work that is enjoyable to read - after all, I cant shut down my brain. IT KEEPS YELLING AT ME! It's like, "MEKENA, YOU MUST WRITE THIS STORY! IT'LL BE EPIC!" And then I'm all, "But I'm busy~~! I'm trying to work on this one~!" Then it retortes with, "IF YOU DON'T DO IT NOW YOU'LL FORGET! THEN WHAT? YOU'LL LOSE A BRILLIANT IDEA! THAT'S WHAT!"

So please bear with me if I stop writing for certain stories for periods of time - I'm apparently a multitasking author.

Thank you again for your time, my wonderful readers. If I do get my work published, I'm deticating it to all of you here on this site. You're reviews encourage me to keep up my work and strive to improve. You all are what keeps me going. You're what keeps me determined to smash through my writers block when I get it. Thank you all very much for you're support - even if you dont review, just the fact that you're reading gives me the strength to strive for better.

-Mekena VerSluis