Heathens

Apollo and Dion, a dysfunctional rag-tag pair of demon hunters have been sent to investigate the city of Havenbrook and its inhabitants.

The mission is simple: to find the cultists responsible for a recent string of murders and to bring them to justice. Even if it takes killing dozens of demons on the way there.

But things are never that simple when you deal with the dark arts. Cultists, demon pacts, sacrificial murders all stand in the demon hunters' way as they search for the truth. A truth that will force them to question their own identities, a truth about the absolute evil lurking beyond heaven and earth. The question is, if they find the truth, will they be strong enough to handle it?

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62. Chapter 61

Dion

During Apollo’s Arrival


“And you’re sure he’s this way?” Dion asked he held the map, the orders, the confidential papers in front of his face. It was stained with soot and ripped at its ends and below was signed Astyanax with black ink. The demon rested on his side, blood coming out of his ear and eye bludgeoned to a mass of purple.

“Yes. Yes! Please, you have to believe me,” He had his hand above his face, it cast a five-fingered shadow on the centurion helmet the demon wore. “I am a simple messenger. Please. That’s it.”

“Is that why you killed the people here? is that why you reek of death?” Dion pointed to the small huts around him with the shabby ceilings and the strewn bodies laid to waste, half interred in the floor or half-burned into ash. It had been a while since they had died and since Dion had had the chance to arrive.

“I didn’t do that. The others did.” The demon said.

“I found you joking with them all. It doesn’t seem like you tried to stop them?”

“I had nothing to do with it. It was a calculated attack by Astyanax’s orders.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. He doesn’t tell us why. He just has us sent, that’s it. That’s how it’s always been. For hundreds - No, thousands of years.”

 “Thousands of years of war on this small island?” Dion breathed in the smell of cremated corpses. “All those years of sin, all the years you refused to change. God can’t help you now.”

“No, no. Please, I only do as I’m told. Nothing more.” The demon said. 

“What would happen if I kill you? If I ate your heart? Would you face oblivion? Would you meet the empty darkness with dignity? No, you wouldn’t, would you?” Dion asked. The helmet slipped off the demon as he extended his hand out. He touched Dion’s ankles. “Evil is your trade, isn’t it? It’s been this way for thousands of years. I can’t help you now, and I can’t leave you now. That would be a half-measure, and half-measures cause mistakes. I know that now.” 

“No, no.”

“It’s over. The jury has spoken. I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance.” He snapped back the lever on his revolver. “And furious anger, those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers.”

“Stop, please! I can’t go there. Please, not there. Don’t send me further down.” 

“And you will know my name is the Lord.”

The demon crawled then, with broken legs, using his knees to push himself down the hill.

“Please.”

“When I lay my vengeance upon thee!”

The shot was loud, powerful and it rolled through the valley like a strong gust. And when it had ended and the echo faded, Dion was brought back to the soft licks of the flickering flames. He could hear his heartbeat. It sounded dull, monotonous. And he looked out into the horizon, where he could see a small blip the size of a pea. It was round, Bulbous, like a slumbering flower pod. It was the dome spoken about. 

He took a deep breath and faced back down the road and the corpses to his side with the holes in their chests. It looked like the work of machinery. Dion sighed, he put his guns back in his jacket and felt his wrists. They were aching, bleeding, and the dull pain seemed to extend to the rest of his body.

 


It had taken him what felt like a week of trekking and back peddling to find himself around the mountain range, the heart of Ida, as it was told by the messenger’s paper. He looked up to the giant walls enclosing the space and how the rocks encroached on the few dried sumac trees that were spread sparsely. It looked unnatural, this tumor of a growth and Dion found himself shaking his head, looking left and right to see how far it extended. He saw nothing but the few cave entrances scattered about. Small vulture-like creatures, with bony exteriors and lanky bodies, flew out and in the dark holes sprawled along the dome wall. He looked to a hole in front of him and the steep darkness frightened him. He breathed. He slapped himself. He dried his sweat and the remembered the girl, Sophie, and the others and with one gallop, jumped inside. 

It was not steep. It wasn’t cavernous. It was small, tidy, crushingly thin.

 His body squeezed and turned to its side as he began to teeter slowly through the enclosed space. It was an unknown darkness that he could feel, that seeped into his imagination. Closing his eyes, opening them, using that crimson visage of his, all of it was useless. It felt as if his limbs had disappeared and all his efforts were useless. He did not know whether he was going further up or further down, or even if he was moving at all. A trickle. The water hit his forehead, it made him jump. Water droplets that came from the closing ceiling above.

It was packed. So terribly suffocating that Dion found himself exhaling, sucking in his gut and his lungs just to squeeze himself through a band of mineral growth (at least it felt different, more chalky than the usual stone). It went on like that, the sounds of alien animals scratching through the walls of the tunnel, the sound of water dropping like false rain, the minutes of breathlessness as he scrambled for more ground, even if just an inch. 

It was terrible. His foot slipped. His body fell down. How much? He couldn’t tell, too dark. He only felt his face scratching, the earth cutting and scraping along as he went down. And then, land. Solid, he felt crawling on his shoulders. Cockroaches perhaps, (more likely spiders) that scoured the invader. He tried to jump and to flinch, there was no room though. And he grit his teeth and moved forward, he felt web brush against his forehead and tear to long threads. There was web? Then it was dry. And if it was dry, there was hot desert air. He moved his face around. He felt it, the draft of arid heat. He moved again, trying to use those thermometer cheeks of his. Air, dry desert air. It was a little down, a little to the left. He chased after it, forcing his shoulders and breaking stone just to make his way down to the little crack. He tunneled, thinking to himself, All my searches have been for this man. For the chance that there is someone - even if just one person - worth saving. And he’s held hostage, I’ll kill the bastard if I have to.

He came to a full body stop. His body pushed against the wall and he looked with his throbbing eye through a crack where light showed. And he thought as he licked his lips, I’ll kill the bastard just because I can. Just to remind him of everything he’s done, here and beyond.

He pointed his gun at the wall and pressed the barrel against the corrugated surface of stone. Blast. A deafening blow, dust that flew everywhere and forced his face to reel. Rocks that embedded in his eyes, in his nose. He wiped his face and blew his nose and felt the stone and dust and critters shake away from him. His suit was completely covered and he did his best to brush it away, stopping at his arms, his arm in particular that glowed in and burned. He undid his sleeve and saw the string, gold, vibrating, turning and coiling. It looked exactly how his innards felt. Squirming.

He looked up. 

The light at the top of the dome, the ring, was blinding in its intensity. His eyes adjusted slow and all the scenery came to him as a blur. Dion rubbed his face. He looked down to the fields, an ocean of green that rolled and waved with the gusts coming from the North. There were flowers, he could spot them if only barely, the golden flowers that waved at him. They were in patches, patches of gold, joyous light. It made Dion sick. Confused. The desert out there, the golden and green fields within. He slid down the slope of the dome and rolled down on the grass and laid himself out. It was soft and it made him uneasy. He took both pistols out, looked around and turned his head. It froze all of a sudden. His mouth went silent, his Adam’s apple jumped. 

There were crosses behind him. Crosses leading up to a road. A road leading up to that giant Villa. Or village. Or capital. The wooden crosses were laid about like makeshift castle walls, the dried bodies were there too, old and rotting, faced to the red ring of light at top. They extended out like lampposts, like signs, like greetings. Dion began to sweat. His eyes looked past the corpses, towards the roman pillars and the aqueducts they carried and he said, as he watched from a distance a little river of water falling into a pond. He thought, as he looked inside of that algae infected pond,  I’ll kill this monster. No matter the cost. For I can't imagine myself living comfortably otherwise. He must die.

He touched his hot arm and walked towards the road leading up to a set of arches and wooden doors.

 

Author's Note: I decided to add an extra headline here just to give you a frame of reference. Since time doesn't exist as a concept in Hell (there is no movement of particles, there are no particles at all) everything needs to be judged relative to actions done before. thinkingfaceemoji.

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