Chapter 5: Tenebrae

Part 1: Fireless Candle

1461 B.C.

As she stepped towards the entrance to the tomb, two guards clasped their pikes and looked at her with cautious, angry looks. They wore flowing headdress that was intricately lined with blue and white silver threads. The tops of their headdresses had a miniature golden cobra, which also seemed to be looking at her with a careful, venomous look.

She smiled and stepped towards them, moving the pikes needlessly with her finger as the guards collapsed in sound, peaceful slumber.

She walked down the stone stairs towards a chamber. The chamber was lit with crystal orbs that were powered by the static electricity of the very air around the small pyramid tomb.

She hadn't bothered to read the hieroglyphics on the wall, nor tried to solve the riddle of how to open the door, she simply phased through it. With a careful eye, she looked at the portal and examined the symbols around it. Certainly not hieroglyphics this time, these inscriptions were undoubtedly, Mafal. They specifically outlined the coordinates of Inferus, a world that swam on a cosmic shift that caused the top surface to be in the real universe, and the rest of it to be inside a reminiscence.

"Time to destroy you." She uttered beneath her breath.

A cold wind that could chill her very bones, had she been an actual human, ran across her black hair.

"Think again." A deep voice said from behind her. She turned around with a grin. She saw a creature, tall and well built. He wore the same headdress that the guards did. He had a long, thin protruding beard that may have looked like a cane. But strangely enough, he had long triangular ears that disappointed you if you were looking for human features. This was Anubis, the Jackal God.

"Hello demon." She said with quite a calm demeanor. "Heh. Demon? How modest do you think I am?" He said with a wry smirk. Before accepting a reply, she chucked a thumb behind her, pointing at the gate. "Apparently not too much. This your portal?"

"Built under my instructions, yes." Anubis replied.

"You know that you're not allowed to have these," She noted with a thoughtful tone, "The rules clearly sate that people are not allowed to build portals that may potentially allow an army of demons to ravage the earth and massacre humanity. Not without a permit."

Anubis grinned. "You underestimate me. You see, Devic guardian... This empire that bows down to me does not recognize your God. To them, we are the only Gods. And I cannot say that I disagree."

She cleared her throat by coughing into a closed fist, more for dramatic effect than practical. "Well first of all, my name is Neria, Iím not just a Devic guardian, but the queen of the Devans. Secondly, I've got a huge list of things to do on my agenda so why don't you just let me destroy this portal and Iíll be on my way?" Neria then turned towards the portal and light began to glow in her fists. Suddenly her hands were thrown behind her back, she tried to pull them back but she couldnít move them, it was as if an invisible Hercules was tugging on them.

"I don't think so, Neria." Anubis said, pointing a strange key-like object towards her.

"L... Let go of me, demon. This is your last warning." Neria proclaimed with a false authority in her voice, a vain attempt at keeping on top of the situation.

"NO!" He shouted and viciously turned his weapon towards the wall, throwing her through the tomb corridors and breaking apart the blocks of stone as she flew from one side of the wall to the other, from the floor to the ceiling, back and forth. When the attack was finally complete, she could do no less than fall to a heap on the ground. The glow in her hands faded.

Anubis shook his head: "You know. They call me the God of funerals... Do you know why?" Neria looked up, her human body followed the laws of reality, so it had no choice but to bleed and be in utmost pain. "Wh... Why..?" She surrendered. "Because no one crosses paths with me unless they are about to die." With his stark words, Anubis pointed the Ankh towards the portal and it opened. She was flung through it but she somehow managed to grab onto the portal ledge as hard as she could and with her other hand, formed a ball of light. Anubis walked closer: "Let go!" He screamed with a horrid bellowing voice. Neria shot her light bolt upwards before letting go, falling with a scream onto the desolate darkness beyond the portal.

Anubis stepped back, looking at the ceiling. "Damn Devan! The temple is going to collapse on itself!"

Sure enough, boulders and stones started to fall down from the ceiling. The biggest one crashed onto the portal and shattered it. Anubis cringed. "All these years of planning and construction. No matter, my plan will succeed no matter what, or how long it takes." The ground beneath Anubis opened and he fell through his own personal portal, traveling far into the lower planes of unreality. The portal closed as the tomb caved in.

Neria felt the ground. It was a hard, cold, barren surface. She opened her eyes and saw dark, blue shadows cast on the ground in front of her. She looked up to find that she was surrounded by eight demons. "She looks tasty. I want her." One of them said.

They slowly approached her, like a pack of wolves about to close on their kill.

Neria shut her eyes; her weak limbs could no nothing more but accept the inevitable.

"MOVE AWAY!" An old demon shouted as he made his way through the crowd. The demons mumbled as they made their space from the aching woman. "Tribesmen of El-Jenn. I did not think you sank to the ranks of those in the Seventh level of darkness." The demons mumbled and walked away. One of them stayed, he was a younger one. "What is she, uncle? She doesn't look like a shade to me."

Hudad examined her closely. "Strange. They never spawn here first, usually in Purgatory and are taken down here, or some move upwards. But she... She's bleeding? How odd." He examined her closely, her eyes fluttered.

"NO!" She screamed as she regained some of her previous energy, "I'm a failure!" she screamed as tears rolled down her face onto the barren terra-cotta of this new and strange land. The old demon touched her back and suddenly, it vibrated intensely, forming a wavy distortion in the air. The vibration intensified and the amplitude increased. Suddenly, she was up on her legs, she tried to support herself but fell. "Let go of your emotions. Your pain is only remnants of the physical world you've just arrived from. Let it go, human."

"I'M NOT HUMAN!" She screamed, causing the young demon to take cover behind his uncle. "Where am I? Am I on Inferus?" She looked up towards the skies and saw a violet sun. "Never mind." She affirmed.

The aged demon kept a careful watch on the girl, his mind contained a slight hint of suspicion and doubt, though his features revealed none. "My name is Hudad. Yes, you are in Inferus. This is Jesthem, the self-governed prefecture of the El-Jenn tribe."

She shook her head in swift motions of disbelief, her voice now devoid of the effects from the onslaught. "What are you demons doing on the surface?"

Hudad shrugged before he gave his response, "We were exiled because we revolted against Satan." She grabbed his shoulder, obviously she hadn't let go of all her physical pain, her throat letting slip an agonized query. "Any of them around?"

He shook his head with little hint of pathos, his voice still hinting at an ancient kindness. "No. Satan don't bother coming up to the surface. They don't like to brush with the local people and the hellspawn, we're just a nuisance to them."

"Good." She said. Her wounds were now gone as she ceded her panic. She looked around. "You're an angel?" Hudad wondered aloud. Neria nodded in return, "Devan. I was on an important mission. I need to get in contact with Hadean Guardians. Now! It is imperative, or the whole earth will be destroyed in a matter of years!"

Hudad pointed towards a city in the horizon; the size and relative flatness of the planet allowed for seeing into far away distances. "That's the gate. There are a few angels there who guard the entrance. Can you..." He had turned around and noticed that she had already left. He shrugged before he looked at his nephew and motioned for him to go home. Hudad looked far away in the distance, watching the angel fly towards the gate. He didn't have a good feeling about her.

The gate was perched high atop a hill that flowed with a soft but thick mercury-like river containing a slight hint of ethereal glow. The river was specifically made to prevent demons from getting nearby as falling onto it would mean instant death. Neria flew close to an assembly of angels and landed nearby. "Israfel. I need to see him." An angel shook her head, curtly adding, "Not here."

The angel went back to her duties, causing an irksome Neria to look at her with some vehemence. "This is important. I need to notify..." The angel turned around at her again, adding with a more serious tone in her otherwise soft voice, "The council has decreed that you have not sufficiently completed your mission. I do not think that Metatron is very pleased with what you've done."

Neria had a slight hint of surprise that news of her mission had traveled so fast. "Done? I had no idea that Anubis created a Token. Moreover, how could he WIELD it? He's a demon."

The angel shook her head. "I don't know. He must've learned to assimilate himself with men somehow." Neria shuddered as she looked around and suddenly realized that she was as far away as possible from the infinite light of God. "Alright. Anyway, please tell me how to get back to the higher planes, I need to re-organize the Devan intelligence and..." "Metatron has reassigned you." Apoloin interrupted, approaching her with a soft but steady walk. She smiled as a feeling of relaxation filled her.

She ran towards her relative and hugged him. "It's been so long, cousin."

Apoloin nodded. His face was unsmiling. A graveled tone passed with his breath, "And you will be here for long too."

Neria frowned with an expression that could only behold a mixture of confusion and pain. "What? What do you mean? I've replaced Raziel as the Herald of Deva. My job is to be up there in Deva, not down here."

"Not anymore. Aryel has taken that role now." Apoloin responded, his head slowly shaking from side to side as he spoke.

Neria felt anger swell up within her breast, her voice rising with an uncontained rage as she let slip the words, "Aryel? A damn rookie?!"

"Watch your mouth, sister. Remember who you are." Apoloin said.

"Aryel is one of the most promising candidates for the job. Legend has it that he was being primed for that position since the dawn of time." The other angel said with a self-righteous nod.

Neria sighed, calming herself back to a socially acceptable level. Her mind still raced with pangs of a feeling that she could not quite describe, although they burned her nonetheless. "Look. Aryel doesn't even KNOW half of what I've learned about this mission. HeÖ"

Apoloin raised his hand towards her, fingers outstretched towards heaven as his palm lay empty. "Not to worry. Metatron has taken it upon himself to tend to the mission, everything is in order. Now follow me."

Neria's jaw dropped. "What.... So that's it? I've been brushed aside because Iíve overlooked Anubis and his capabilities? That's my repayment for all I've done to the magistrate of Deva and Metatron?"

Apoloin looked at her angrily, like a parent would an insolent child. "Do you question the wisdom of Heaven, angel?"

Neria sighed with a deep regret. "No... No I don't... ", she could sense a tear forming. But she knew she was just imagining it. She sucked it in, and hid her feelings, just like how they were taught to do. "Lead on" She said.

Hudad was right about his hunch.

(Continued...)