Purgatory

When Raina falls to a death clouded with mystery and horror, one which not even The Elders can figure out, she is placed into Purgatory. As the mystery unveils, as well as the secrets of the place between Heaven and Hell, she learns that at every corner a sea of possibilities awaits. But will she be able to realise the correct ones, or will she stay in Purgatory for eternity?

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20. 20

My eyes opened wide as I felt something graze my arm. "Wake up. We have work to do," Alexander said, in a clipped, authoritative tone of voice. I was already awake, and was surveying the area around me. My eyes widened even more, as I recognised exactly where we were. My hands felt the gritty sand. My nose smelt the sent of the salty air. My ears heard the waves crashing against the rocks. "What are we doing here?" I gasped.
Alexander sat up, and tilted his head towards me. "You know what this place is?" 
I shook my head at him in disbelief. "This is Purgatory. How do you not know that? You're chief Elder, aren't you?" 
He bowed his head sheepishly. "I don't go to places where traces of sin are, so I've never ventured here before." 
"I suppose that's a fairly valid reason."
I got up, and dusted myself off, as did Alexander. "We'd better investigate, then. You'd better lead, though, seeing as you know this place fairly well." 
I sighed at this. "I kind of wish I didn't. It reminds me of how scared I was feeling, and how lost I was." 
We both started to walk, side by side, across the oh-so familiar coast. "Although those are vulnerabilities, they are the sorts of traits that build character. Besides, you were also incredibly brave, considering the circumstances."
 I glanced up at Alexander. Me, brave? I didn't really think so. "I don't think I would have been as brave if I didn't have Kai for company." I scuffed my feet on the sand awkwardly, realising I really was not helping me and Kai's case by saying that. 
"Raina, I see that you care about Kai, as I also see he feels the same way towards you." Alexander placed his hands behind his back. "But lustful tendencies are frowned upon in the eyes of God, so whatever we plan to do with the pair of you will not see to attend to your relationship." 
I crossed my arms, and gazed up at Alexander. "It's not lust, though." I said quietly. "It's love. At least, I'm in love with him." 
"You've only known each other for a few days, though."
 I nodded. "I know. But that's truly how I feel." I frowned, mentally backtracking what Alexander had said previously. '...whatever we plan to do with the pair of you ...' They had plans for us? Although curiosity was playing in my mind, I decided to focus on the investigation instead.
"Where would you advise as the best place to look for Chance or Guardian, or whomever is causing the trouble?" Alexander questioned.
 "I'd say the underwater temple." I guided Alexander towards the ocean.
 "Maybe I should have explored this place before. It is most fascinating." 
I dipped my toe into to the sea, and sighed softly in pleasure because of its warmth. Alexander's eyes were shadowed with thought. "Before I dive in, tell me Raina, what makes you so certain there could be something of value in this 'underwater temple'."
 Just as I opened my mouth to reply, and defend my decision, a loud noise rang out throughout Purgatory. Bang. Both myself and Alexander's head sprang up immediately. "Did you hear...?" Before Alexander could finish his question, I was already springing in the direction where the noise had come from. I didn't know what had caused this sudden jolt of courage, but whilst I held it in my blood, I used it to its fullest extent. Perhaps I was braver than I thought.
 As I was running, I shipped out my sword from the stitching of my dress I'd placed it in. Alexander's footsteps were hot on my tail. "Caution, Raina!" he yelled. The moment I reached the entrance of the cave, for that was where I thought the sound had come from, I skidded to a halt. I could hear Alexander's steady breath next to me, contrasting with my one gasping for oxygen. "What brought that on?" he asked calmly.
"Brought what on?" 
Alexander gestured in a circle. "THAT. That immediate reaction to bound into action. And that speed... I've never seen not one Elder run that fast, or respond that quickly. That was a superb display, I must say. But what brought it on?" 
I pondered for a few moments. Indeed, what had? But I shrugged. "I don't know. It was...Just something inside of me which snapped and gave me courage, I think." 
"Well, I congratulate you on that." He briskly changed the subject of my bravery back to the matter at hand. "So the sound came from here?" 
I nodded. "I'm pretty certain it did." We both stayed silent, listening for it. There was nothing. Nothing. I sighed, and turned away from the cave. But sooner than I did that, the sound played again. Bang. Alexander promptly took out his own sword at this. It was a fine specimen, with an intricate gold handle and the slimmest, shiniest, solid blade. With this clutched in his hand, he made his way inside of the cave. "It's just rubble, isn't it?" I called, remembering the state I had saw it in last. There was no response. Just a clatter of something drop onto the floor. "Alexander...? Alexander? Alexander?!" My small voice echoed onto  the hollow walls of the cave.
 "Raina, come in here, quickly," Alexander's now weak voice replied. I took a long, deep breath, and set foot into the darkness.

When I stepped into the cave, I realised that the usual darkness was highlighted with a warm, orange glow. I narrowed my gaze in curiosity, and folded my arms. "What on Earth is that?" I called out to Alexander, who was further up the entrance of the cave than I was. He let out a shaky breath, and muttered something I could not make out. "Sorry, pardon, Alexander?" 
"It's a passage-way," he said, his voice dry with fear. 
I took several purposeful strides towards the main archway of the cave. "A passage to..." I stopped mid sentence. My heartbeat quickened. My mouth went completely dry. My eyes widened. For there in front of me, at the top of the cave, was a large pit, with a fire like coming out of it. 
The rubble had gone from the last time I'd been in there. I knew immediately that it had been concealing the pit of fire. "It's a passage to Hell," Alexander whispered, his voice hoarse.
I was shaking with the upmost terror. I stared at the top of the cave, not knowing what else to do. Just then, I saw three shadows right at the edge of the pit. One broad, one lanky, and one muscular. Edward, Harold and...Guardian? I gasped. "We've got to do something! They're going to die!" Immediately, I set off towards the ledges that led up to the top of the cliff, where the pit of fire was. 
"They're not going to die, Raina. In the afterlife, there's eternal life.  But they'll be put into Hell with no questions and no release." 
I smiled weakly at Alexander, and started clambering up the ledge. Instead of slipping like I had first done whilst climbing up the first time around, I was clambering up with ease. Alexander was close behind me. As I got further and further up, the surface got warmer and warmer. Soon enough, it started to scald my bare fingertips. At first, the pain was bearable. But on the next couple of ledges, I could hardly carry on because the pain was searing through my fingers. My hands. My arms. My entire body. "I can't keep going!" I shouted to Alexander, who was but a couple of ledges behind me.
"One more ledge, Raina! Keep hanging on!" I tilted my head upwards, and inhaled sharply. The flames were clear as day now, as were the people who were on the top of the cliff. The stifled shouting of Harold and Edward rang out throughout the cave. 
"Chance...? What on Earth?" Alexander was standing next to me. The sorrow and surprise in his voice was obvious. I wasn't particularly looking at Chance, though. I was looking at the man who was trying to push Harold and Edward off the edge of the pit. "Guardian?" I whispered. I couldn't believe this. All signs pointed to him being the culprit of all this mess, but I still couldn't believe it. He glanced up at me, and our eyes locked.  His were full of guilt; mine were full of disappointment.
 Chance seemed to be looking at me, however, for he called out to Guardian "Let those two go, and seize HER!" Before I could react accordingly to this, Chance took my wrist sharply, and thrust me towards Guardian, who had shoved Harold and Edward next to Alexander. 
As Guardian dragged me by both of my wrists, to my upmost discretion, I quietly talked to him, so Chance wouldn't hear. "Why are you doing this?" I murmured sadly. "This is not you, is it?" 
Guardian sighed, and slowed down his pace. "I've lost control of the situation. There's nothing I can do." Just before we reached the edge of the pit, he sobbed. "I'm so, so, sorry, Raina. I'm so, so sorry." He loosened his grip ever so slightly on my wrists, but he still started pushing me towards the blaze. 
"Stop!" I screamed, struggling with all of my might. 
"Why are you doing this, Chance?!" Edward roared, seizing him by the shoulders.
 "No relative of mine is going to Hell!" I looked closely at Chance's contorted face, and suddenly it clicked together. It was so obvious now. Ocean, my murderer, was Chance's relative. 
Edward snarled at him.  "What on Earth are you talking about?"
"He's related to my murderer!" I called, my voice weak from the strain of pushing the force of Guardian, who was now making a very half-hearted attempt to push me. I shot a weak smile at him, in the smallest amount of gratitude for giving me a little bit of time. 
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Harold tense. "That's not a plausible excuse for sending Raina there. She hasn't done anything!"
"My bloodline should be pure. I'm an Elder, for pity's sake" Chance replied, as if the statement was the most obvious thing in the world.
"My sister’s in Hell, and I deal with it! So screw having a pure bloodline, there is absolutely no reason for you covering up for your psycho of a relatives death, and there certainly isn't any reason to send Raina to hell!" Harold spat.
"SHUT UP!" Chance glared at him, then turned his lethal gaze towards Guardian. "You aren't even trying! PUSH her!" 
Guardian’s eyes glinted with what looked like tears. "I'm so, so sorry Raina" he repeated thickly. With that, he did one final push, and I was sent flying, set to fall down, down, down, into Hell's fiery flame for eternity.

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