Chapter Thirty-Two – Heaven and Hell
“No way,” Deena mumbled. “This is highly improbable.”
“That’s my speciality,” Eldrian replied.
Standing before the two of them, as well as Kevin, was a gorgeous figure almost divine in appearance. Her skin was pristine, she had a gaze like vibrant emeralds, and her hair was golden and lengthy. Unlike before, she was now garbed in traditional North American attire instead of torn fantastical garments—a lime coloured shirt beneath a thin white coat, and a pair of blue jeans. Through her hair was a ribbon to match her eyes as well. To a normal individual, she would look to simply be a lovely young lady, if it wasn’t for her long and pointed ears.
She smiled. It was a warm, subtle smile, and such an expression was commonly on her face. Perhaps it didn’t represent a concurrent joy, but instead an offering of friendliness to those around her.
Once again, they were in Deena’s living room.
“You actually ran into an elf?” Deena asked.
“Of course. She was running into some trouble last night on the street. Safety-wise, though, I think she was handling herself. But she looked confused and lost, so I thought I oughta help,” Eldrian said in return. “This morning we went out and bought her some regular clothes.”
“I’ll be ever grateful,” the elf spoke with a bow of her head.
“It’s not a problem, really.”
“Though it will take some take to get used to these new vestments. They don’t quite feel the same, and definitely don’t look the same, as what I’m accustomed to. I’ll do my best to adjust during my time here, however.”
“So you said your name was Arlandria?” asked Kevin. “My name’s Kevin O’Brien, but I’m afraid I’m not a wizard like the rest of these folks.”
“Interesting. It was my understanding that Earthlings were in denial about the existence of magic, so much so that it was separated from the common folk. But not only are you here, but there are two magic users as well.”
“Two more,” Eldrian added. “There’s five of us in total now. You’re the sixth while you stick around.”
Kevin stared intently at the woman’s pointed ears. So much so, that after a moment, he realised not only the absence of noise, but the direct contact of her vision to his own. A colour come to his face as he snapped himself back into reality, but her face showed only an affectionate smile from cheek to cheek.
“I’ve never seen a human in person either,” Arlandria said softly.
“Me neither!” said Kevin. “I mean… I haven’t seen an elf. I’ve seen humans.”
“I don’t think any of us has seen an elf,” Eldrian said. “They’re so incredibly rare, that even wizards can go their entire lives without seeing one. Unlike demons, which try to work their way to Earth all the time, elves apparently prefer to stay where they’re from.”
“Heaven, I think humans often call it,” she stated.
Deena nodded, and she raised a hand to the shock seen in Kevin’s visage. “Also known as the Elf World, which is basically the opposite of the Demon World. I’ve read that because of all this, elves have even been called angels by a few people.”
“So what brings you here then?” asked Kevin.
Her vast emeralds drifted sombrely to the floor between her toes. Hidden thoughts of clear melancholy read on her face even if nothing was spoken, either by struggle against emotion, or trust.
“All she told me was a really bad person tried to kill her, but she survived and escape to our world instead,” Eldrian spoke up.
Arlandria nodded. “I’m afraid I’m at a loss of what to do next. I was going to find my way back to the Elf World, but the more I ponder, the more I realize that the ending may not be different a second time. My father likely thinks I’m dead if he’s yet to find me.”
“Hey,” started Eldrian, placing a hand upon her shoulder. “Whatever terrible stuff happened, we’ll do what we can to help. I know you’d probably feel lost otherwise, being the only elf in a world that doesn’t even know what that means. It’s important to stick with the people you feel you can trust so that doesn’t happen. Your business is your own, but until you have to leave, why don’t you stay with us? We’re a strange bunch, but hopefully you can get used to that.”
The elf pursed her lips. In a quiet ponder, she looked about at the room of macabre decor and colourful characters. But a strange feeling fell upon her. In her mind everything she had seen had been incredibly odd. Like others look to her like an alien, everything on Earth was alien to her, but Eldrian’s words offered her a feeling of comfort she had not felt in a long time, if it all, at least in the same way.
“All right,” she whispered. “Thank you.”
“Awesome! I’m Eldrian, and he’s Kevin, like you already know. That’s Deena,” Eldrian said with a motion to the smol witch.
Deena nodded her head in greetings.
“This is her house, like I mentioned to you earlier today,” Eldrian continued. “While I’m trying to master all different types of magic, and Kevin isn’t actually a wizard, Deena’s interests are more towards dark magics. Spooky things. Shadow, demons, probably spiders.”
The elf pressed her teeth together into an awkward smile. “Interesting.”
“So are elves like, the opposite of demons?” Kevin asked.
“In a way,” Arlandria replied. “While demons are beings of chaos and darkness, the Elf World is a land of whites, golds, and we prefer a culture of order and virtue. We don’t get along with demons, though to be honest, plenty of elves don’t trust humans either. We prefer to stay secured away from both to avoid all troubles.”
“Well, hopefully you can trust us,” Eldrian said. “Daveon and Renatta too. That’s our druid and fire-ninja-dancer-person respectively. You oughta like them, especially Daveon. He’s a nice guy. No idea where they are right now though, but I’m sure they’re around. But let’s figure out where Arlandria can actually stay while she’s here.”
Kevin raised a finger. “Uh. She can come stay at our—“
“I have a spare room,” Deena interjected. “So, whatever. She can stay here for now, I guess.”
The elf slid a hand beneath Deena’s palm, and with her other, cupped her hand between both of her’s in a friendly gesture. She smiled even wider than she normally did—rosy cheeks pushing her eyes into a squint.
“Thank you so much, Deena,” she whispered.
Red came to the witch’s nose as she tugged in desperation away from the sudden contact.
“Let go of me,” she muttered.
Arlandria frowned. “I apologize. This is a normal gesture from my homeland. Your hand between both of mine represents a warmth—a bond.”
They both turned to the side to see Kevin’s hand slipped between Eldrian’s, and he was staring into the ginger’s eyes with a sparkling gaze. A pink tint, like a dreamscape, surrounded the two of them in a blur of illusion.
“Thank you too, Kevin,” whispered Eldrian.
Kevin yanked back his hand. “Gah! Don’t do that!”
With a hand to her lips, Arlandria let out a hearty chuckle. Already, she didn’t know that much about humans or their world, and not only was this even less of what she expected, but it was better than she expected.
The night before, a small, blonde-haired girl was visiting one of the city’s cemeteries. Poppet was her name, and also what she seemed to be, to an extent. Her form was garbed in a black dress, and her hair was tied up into pigtails with lengthy ribbons in a colour to match. She looked young, even moreso than Deena, though because of the latter’s case, perhaps age is difficult to obtain from merely a glance.
In her hand was a chain with a pendant—the imagine of a skull and a crescent moon. It wasn’t to be left upon a grave, nor did she have flowers or prayers to share. She came for a different reason.
“Hello, everyone,” she said with a voice rather high, though she was completely alone. “Who wants to come out and play?”
She practically danced over to one of the nearest stones, and with a wipe of her hand, she tried to make out the words inscribed upon it.
“Caoim… Cah… Cowia… I’m just going to call you Cal,” she muttered—frustrated with the difficult name to pronounce.
She lifted her arms, and the grass and soil in front of the grave rose up into the air as if by magic, and in only a few moments, it lowered itself into a perfect pile just left of the now-open grave. Next, the coffin levitated up from the hole to be placed beside her. Poppet yanked it open and smiled at the skeleton within.
“You’re looking happy today, Cal,” she hummed as she sorted the necklace out in her hands. “I hope this works. They said this amulet has the power to magically tug on the limbs and body of a human-like object, like a puppet! It’s always so bothersome to do it manually. I can usually only move one body at a time, and it’s just no fun at all.”
With the necklace between her fingers, she moved it around the skull and over the ribcage. Nothing happened for a moment, but then in a flash, the shape on the pendant glowed a bloody crimson. The corpse sprang to life. It pulled itself out from inside the coffin, and stood beside Poppet as if it was waiting to be issued a command.
“Yay!” she squealed. “It worked! Cal, give me back the necklace,” she said.
The skeleton wrapped its bony fingers around the chain and removed it from itself—handing it to its master. The magic persisted, and the corpse remained animated.
“I wonder how many of you I can have with this thing. Let’s find out!”
Poppet hopped over to the next.
“Whew. This name has so many accents, I’m not even going to try this time. You’re just getting called Fred. All right?”
Alike before, she dug out the coffin, opened it up, and inflicted her bewitching upon the helpless bones. They rose up the same, and once again, she retrieved the pendant and moved on to the next with now two skeletons wandering behind her.
“What is with these names? I can’t even read this one. Most of the letters are scratched out. Whatever. Out you come!”
This skeleton had spindly, neck-length, raven hair. Its eyes, although only sockets like the rest, almost appeared to her like pockets of bottomless shadow, though she convinced herself it was only the night’s blanket coupled with her eager imagination.
As she placed the pendant around its neck, she looked again to the gravestone.
“Seriously. What does it say? I might be stealing bodies, but at least I don’t scratch away letters from people’s graves. There’s only like… six letters left throughout. Maybe I can make a name for you with those. Let’s see. Hm? What was that sound?”
She looked up to see a boy in a grey toque who, whether she wanted to admit it to herself or not, she thought was surprisingly attractive. Beside him was a dark-skinned woman wearing strange red clothing. They were talking to one another at the gate of the cemetery.
“Damn it,” she cursed under her breath. “I hate interruptions. I guess I’ll just take you, Cal, and Fred, and get out of here before I’m seen. Let’s see. Name, right? I can see an S. K. E. L. L. O. That makes a pretty funny na—“
Sharp, skeletal fingers snapped around her neck. Her scream was deafening.
Those by the entrance were not mere pedestrians like Poppet believed. To her eventual surprised, they were both not only wizards, but ones more than ready to leap into action. It was Daveon and Renatta, and they were out for a supposedly relaxing stroll to get accustomed to the city. Of course, things can never remain ordinary when you’re a wizard.
“What the heck was that?” Daveon asked, quickly glancing about.
The night was still. At this section of town, there were fewer street lights, and this was even more apparent when staring into the absolute blackness of this particular graveyard.
“What was what?” replied Renatta.
“You mean you didn’t hear the scream coming from behind you?”
“Oh. I thought that was a bird.”
“What bird sounds like that?”
“Just because you are a druid, does not mean you are an expert on birds!”
Suddenly, Daveon vaulted over the metal fence and began sprinting into the darkness. Renatta, not wanting to be left behind, flipped over like an acrobat and followed behind, not without confusion.
“What are you doing?” called out Renatta.
“Look!” shouted Daveon. “That little girl over there. She’s being attacked by skeletons! It might be demons. We’ve gotta save her.”
Come back next week for Chapter Thirty-Three – Madness Unleashed!