Gemedes cleaned the living room vigorously.
The apartment was rather silent, since Damien and Dimitri spent most of their time over at the camp. For the past two days, they left before the sun came up and returned after dark. The only noise filling the apartment, was the sound of honking horns and sirens from the busy streets five floors below. Gemedes liked being alone, it gave him time to think and search the apartment for clues.
A strange noise cut into his cleaning, making him jump. Laying down his duster, Gemedes rushed to the secret door of the office and opened it without thinking about what he was doing. He mentally slapped himself on the forehead. You are so stupid, he thought, anything could have been making that noise. It could have killed you. However, his fears were not necessary, the room was completely empty. That’s odd, he could still here the noise. Where is it coming from?
Just then, a giant swirling figure stepped out of a portal beside Damien’s desk. Gemedes froze, what is that?
He thought about all the demons he had encountered in the last six months but, not a single one of them looked or sounded like this thing. The sound faded as the smoke cleared; a man, dressed in designer clothes, appeared in its place. So the sound did come from a demon but, not a demon he recognized?
Still standing, gawking in shock, Gemedes bowed and greeted the visitor. “Hello. Who a-a-are you?”
Suddenly the creature disappeared and reappeared right next to him. “My sweet, delicious friend.” The demon scraped the side of his face lightly, then, licked his fingers in delight, “There is no need to be afraid. I am Iklin, demon of death, I come to relay a brief message to Damien. Where is he?”
Gemedes answered, “Dimitri and Damien have been at the camp all day but, they should be back anytime now. They always return at dark.”
“Good, I will wait for-”
Iklin’s words were cut off as the office door flew open. Damien and Dimitri stormed over the threshold.
Damien spoke, “Who the hell is this?” He pointed towards the visitor, “Iklin is that you?”
“Of course it’s me you fool, who else were you expecting?” Iklin roared then smiled, “Speaking of expectations, I am not pleased with your resent activities.”
“What do you mean you’re not pleased with his activities?” Dimitri mocked his sultry voice with perfect clarity. “He has done nothing wrong, what is the meaning of this?”
Iklin’s smile only intensified at his words, “It seems he has not told you the entire truth my young prince.”
Damien looked at Dimitri, shrugging his shoulders in confusion, “I have no earthly idea what you are referring to Iklin. Perhaps you are mistaking me with someone else. What exactly are you accusing me of anyway?”
Gemedes knew that face, anger and pride, Damien wore it well and often. He knew what this strange new demon was referring to, Jamik’s plan. Could he tell them or should he just remain quiet? He remained quiet.
“ You really have no idea how awful your plan was do you?” Iklin laughed, “Well for one, your little demon army is out of the bag, so to speak. Sending in two demons to spy on the fairies of Roanke Island was immature and lacked any imagination what-so-ever. Personally, I thought you had more potential but, it seems I was wrong.” He shook his head in disappointment, “I will be watching your plans more closely from this point on, I hope your next step is more thought out than this one. Honestly, two demons in their original forms could not be more obvious. To make the situation worse, I had to deal with two dead fairies and one dead demon. Pathetic.”
Stunned one of the demons survived, Gemedes asked, “Two knights were killed? Who?” He realized his voice sounded too caring, so he added, “Not that I care but, I am curious. Knights don‘t usually die easily, right?”
“SHUT-UP GEMEDES!” Damien screeched.
Gemedes looked astounded, the first time this idiot remembered his name and it had to be in this situation. Absolutely ridiculous.
“No, they usually don’t but, in this case…well you get the picture.” Iklin answered his question, then turned back towards Damien, as if remembering something important, “That reminds me, exactly how did the knights know of your plans?”
Damien had had enough, “THEY WEREN’T MY PLANS!” Pausing he looked at Dimitri, “ We only found out about the attack yesterday but, it seems the problem is worse than Frex let on.”
“Yes, well I hope whoever was responsible for this shenanigan is taken care of immediately.” Iklin warned.
Dimitri stepped in again, “Wait, you said the army had been exposed,” he looked at Damien, then back to the visitor, “Flex said nothing about a survivor. What do you know?”
Iklin stared, his eyes pits of black. “There were two survivors, Seth and Xavor. Xavor was knocked unconscious by one of the demons, before the elf even showed up. I don’t think Seth knew about the attack, he didn‘t come until the battle was nearly over.”
“Alright, but that still doesn’t explain how the army was exposed.” Damien was beyond furious now, his eyes glowed intensely.
“Thanks to the lack of brains possessed by the demons, the elf noticed where the portal led; I saw him mouthing the word Chicago, while I collected the souls.”
As the demon of death, Iklin must gather all dying demons- this is why they seem to disappear- and return souls of other creatures to the heavens. He is also in control of wars and battles. All plans have to go through him. Damien knew this, Jamik did not.
“Is Seth knowing where the portal led, a bad thing?” Gemedes asked. He was glad that some good news came out of the situation, this whole thing was beginning to get out of hand.
Iklin ignored this question, “Damien, some advice if you will. I know you think I hate you but, I don’t. Actually I am quite fond of you. However, I do find your plan to be slipping through your fingers and can’t help but wonder why. You seemed so sure of yourself a year ago but, now….it seems as though you are losing your spark.”
“I am well aware of how my plan is going. Now please leave. I am in no longer need of your assistance. NOW GO!” Damien pointed at the portal Iklin had just came through.
Without another word, Iklin stepped back into the fires of the underworld. Swirling smoke engulfed his body and he returned to his true form, wicked, dark, and smoky.
Gemedes ran out of the office and hid in the plant. Spying from here will be easier than dodging flying objects, he thought.
“I told you that idiot would double-cross you Damien.” Dimitri yelled, “Now look at the mess he’s made. Do you honestly believe that-”
“Dimitri I don’t know or care how Jamik got those demons over there but, as soon as him and Arriann return I am going to tear him limb from limb.” Damien raged, “Let’s call in you know who, maybe he knows something. Do you still have that communication device?”
“Yes, but you seem to be missing the most important part of Iklin’s message.”
“And what exactly is that?” Damien questioned.
“The knights knew the demons were attacking, they even knew where the portal would appear. Doesn’t it seem a little too convenient?”
“Yes, I realize your point but how? Hmmm…we must have a spy in our midst but, first, we call in Harlem. He might know who it is.”
Things are getting out of control, Gemedes thought. He had to escape and he had to do it fast.
“Harlem! Harlem!” Damien yelled into the device frantically, “Harlem, if you don’t answer me right-”
All at once a portal appeared beside the brothers. Harlem stepped through, dragging Thomas-Aislinn’s house goblin- behind him. He threw Thomas into one of the chairs, then, took the seat beside him. “What exactly are you doing? You know I can’t speak with you while traveling.” His eyes glistened as he looked at them and his hair changed from purple to orange-adjusting to his new surroundings.
Dimitri cleared his throat, “We didn’t know you were coming here,” he bowed, “forgive us.”
“Just tell me what you need. I received an urgent message telling me to come immediately, so get on with it before I get gray hair.”
It was Damien who spoke first this time, “As I was getting ready to say, before you showed up, there is a spy here in Chicago. He or she is working with the fairies, otherwise the knights would not have known where the portal would appear that day. Seth was there as well and now, thanks to whoever the spy is, everyone on the island knows about my army.”
Harlem yawned in boredom, “That is your problem. I hardly see why you needed me to go out of my way, just so you could tell me the same story I heard two days ago.” He laughed, “Aislinn announced to the entire kingdom what you two were doing. I do hope that wasn’t part of the original plan because, personally I think it sucks.”
Fury coarsed through him, “It was not part of the plan but, thanks to recent events, I will be needing those rituals we discussed sooner than I thought. Preferably tonight.”
“Ah yes, well if you expect it done tonight, I suggest we go shopping.” Harlem explained.
“You don’t seem to understand. In order to continue with my original plan, I need to question all the creatures who knew what Jamik was doing. Did Thomas know anything?” Damien asked.
Dimitri cut in, “Of course he didn’t brother, why wouldn’t he have told us?”
“Oh for heaven’s sakes, yes he knew. I didn’t tell you two because, I figured you knew already. Jamik told everyone at the camp it was your plan.” Harlem replied.
“I am well aware of what he told everyone but, you do admit Thomas knew about the demons’ attack and where the portal would appear.”
“So did Arriann, Frex, and your house goblin, Gemedes.” Harlem argued. “It seems the only logical spy would be one of them. Thomas was only aware of the plan after Arriann and Jamik left for Japan. I find it hard to believe he would have had time to warn the knights before the attack. Don’t you?”
Damien nodded in agreement, “Fine, I will start with Gemedes. He is the one who drove them to the airport, perhaps he knows more than he lets on. I trust you will be able to put a truth spell on him?”
“I am the most powerful warlock who has ever lived and you question my ability to cast spells on goblins? Really Damien, I thought you knew better.” Harlem’s eyes glowed with fury. “Consider it done. But first, we will gather the materials needed to perform the rituals. Since I own Thomas, I say when his job is complete and I am letting you know now, he will no longer spy for you. So, unless you have other arrangements I suggest we go ahead with the first ritual before consulting your goblin.”
“Let us go to Razor’s, there are a few supplies we need there first.” Damien grumbled.
“What kind of supplies?” Harlem racked his brain, mentally checking off each item on his material list, none of which could be found in a bar.
“You will see when we get there. Come Dimitri it is time to go.”
Gemedes was still in his plant, the voices getting closer to the door. He hid deeper into the leaves, trying to conceal every inch of his body. The door knob twisted and released the demon brothers, Harlem, and Thomas into the hallway.
Before they could exit the apartment, Dimitri spoke, “Exactly when do you plan on closing the portal…oh magic one?” He rolled with laughter.
Without humor Harlem replied, “Since when did someone die and make you king? Oh, wait I forgot, Modric chose Damien to rule not you.”
“Just close the portal. We are getting nowhere arguing about who was left in charge.” Damien’s voice broke into their argument.
“Fine, but only because I have to.” Harlem sulked and with a flick of his wrist the portal began to close; swirling in on itself.
Gemedes knew this was his only chance to escape. Fleeing into the office, after Harlem turned his back, he disappeared into a vortex of trees and sounds. Luckily, the portal led back home.
“Seth,” Justahl called out into Frost forest, “Are you sure this is where you saw Harlem and Thomas go?” The two had been searching the woods for hours before Seth noticed Harlem and Thomas running in this direction.
Turning he answered, “Of course. Look over there is the portal, they must have already ran through it.” He dashed to where the portal swirled in between two large oak trees, it was stronger than most portals, more powerful.
Suddenly, Justahl grabbed the back of Seth’s armor, which he wore at all times, “I hear something coming from inside. Quick. Hide over there,” he pointed towards the brush behind him. “We can surprise whoever it is, if we split up.”
He began transforming into a tree-fairies can shift into anything they wish, as long as it is alive. His thoughts went to Peitar, this was the place he had died just three days before. A tear rolled down his cheek, cutting into his concentration. Gathering himself, he tried again, this time he succeeded, morphing into a tree in a matter of seconds..
Standing perfectly still, he prepared for battle. His bow and arrows hung high in his branches-they did not transform but, merely found other resting places other than his arms.
A tree was his favorite thing to become, it gave him extra senses. He couldn’t see, taste, or smell but, he could hear and sense everything going on around him. With nothing left to do, he waited for the portal to release the intruders. This time they would all die.
Colors swirled around Gemedes as he was thrown through the portal. I can’t stand these things, someone needs to invent a teleportation device without the swirling colors, he thought, this makes me dizzy.
Just then, without any warning, he was tossed out into the middle of a clearing. Trying to regain his balance, he smacked into a tree. At least he thought it was a tree. He fell to the ground and moaned, “Ughh….why is there a tree in the middle of this clearing? I could have sworn it wasn‘t in this spot before I left.”
The tree shuttered and shifted back into a person. “That’s because I’m a person.”
Gemedes rose up from the ground and rubbed his head, “Justahl, is that you?” He asked.
“Of course it’s me who else would it be you nitwit? Bigfoot?” Justahl glared at him.
Gemedes glared back, “Everyone knows Bigfoot doesn’t exist.“ He stuck his tongue out like a five year old, “And next time, could you be a rubber tree.” He touched his fingers to the spot which had whacked into the ‘tree’ and winced in pain, “I probably have a concussion from hitting you. What were you doing anyway? Is my head bleeding?” His thoughts jumbled his words, making him sound psychotic. Everything was swirling around him, he felt like he was on water.
Justahl ignored his second question, answering the first, “Seth and I have been out on patrol, watching for any suspicious behavior. Then, Seth noticed Harlem go through this portal so we came here. After arriving, we heard noises from inside the portal and prepared to fight whatever came through, which reminds me.” He turned towards the brush, “Seth, you can come out now. It’s just Jiminy.”
“My name is Gemedes you big-”
Seth laughed, cutting off their bickering, “You two sound worse than an old married couple. What’s going on? I thought you were with the brothers?”
Gemedes bowed to Seth, he was a Prince after all, “They were catching on to me. I had to leave or be killed.”
Justahl giggled, “Well maybe you should have stayed.”
“Stop Justahl! Gemedes, come, you can tell me on the way to the castle. Aislinn is awaiting our return” Seth motioned to himself and Justahl, “ But, I am sure she will be anxious to hear you have returned. It sounds bad, especially if they were already catching on to you.” With that, he motioned for Justahl to go ahead.
After a few deep breaths to gather his thoughts, Gemedes began his tale with a warning, “Seth, you have no idea how bad things really are.”
Aislinn sat on her white throne-which is located in the white throne room, given this name because the entire room is white and shines brighter than any other room in the castle- speechless and weary. She knew the moment she opened her mouth, the screams would betray her calm, collected appearance. On the inside she was already screeching in terror but, as the current ruler, she would not let anyone else know. Slowly she rose to her feet, peering down at Gemedes. He looked frightened, tired, and hungry. Had he eaten anything since he left? Knowing he couldn’t refuse her hospitality, she came up with an idea that would buy her some more time with him.
“Your majesty,” Gemedes interrupted her thoughts, “I know this is terrible news but, it’s nothing more than the ugly truth. Please forgive me for having to relay this message to you.” He bowed in defeat.
“Gemedes my friend, raise up. There is no need to feel like a bad messenger, you were brave enough to spy for our kingdom and we owe you our lives.” Aislinn knew he would appreciate this remark and quit wallowing in self pity, so before he could say anything else she added, “Now for your living arrangements, you will be staying in the castle until further notice. Inside these walls you will be protected, just in case your fears of being followed were a reality. Nothing can harm you here. Since Thomas is no longer with us,” she paused, sighing in frustration, “Justahl will have Chef Perdy add extra food for you at tonight’s dinner. I am having the court members and their families over, I hope that will not disturb you?”
He shook his head, “Not at all, I love parties but, I am a little underdressed.” Gemedes glanced down at his ragged clothes. When he had left on his journey, the clothes had been brand new-a gift from the king- but now they looked like a dishcloth that had been overused for centuries.
She giggled looking at the goblin, “I’m sure Thomas’ room is full of clothes you can wear. Justahl could help-”
“No, I can dress myself thanks.” Gemedes interrupted her before she could offer Justahl’s help.
“Alright, well hurry off and get ready. Dinner will be served at eight and I expect you clean, dressed, and down in the dining hall by then. Is that clear?” Aislinn used a firm tone at the end to make sure he knew tardiness was not tolerated in this castle.
He nodded and hurried off through the golden double doors on the east side of the room. Aislinn couldn’t be sure but, it seemed as though he wasn’t telling her something. Before she could focus too much on this thought, Seth burst through the doors.
“Why are you still sitting in here? What do we do now?” He was frantically waving at her but stopped when he saw her face. “You look confused, what all did he tell you?”
“Enough. I had hoped my father would be back by now, he could handle this situation better. I am a mess Seth, what do I tell people? An army of demons are coming with powers more great than any of us could imagine? It will crush all their hopes of survival.” She couldn’t help herself, tears escaped down her cheeks, which were hot with the anger boiling inside her.
Seth only nodded in agreement, “They must know all the risks, otherwise we are not preparing them for the worst, only covering it up. Harlem being on Damien’s right side may not be all bad.” His eyes lit up with an idea.
Aislinn looked at him more confused, “What are you talking about?” She raged with anger, her best friend was losing his mind. Harlem was evil and more powerful than any creature in existence, how could him being with the demon brothers not be a bad thing?
“Didn’t your father use to tell you and Amara stories about Ananais, the last living half-warlock?” He looked at her and smiled.
“Yes but I hardly see how he can help us now. My father banished him from the kingdom over three hundred years ago. Even if he is still alive, which I’m not convinced he is because, no one has mentioned him since he left, what could he possibly do that would change the circumstances?” She was talking so fast, her head was spinning.
Seth laughed, “Just because no one talks about him doesn’t mean he’s dead. Aislinn, he may not be as powerful as Harlem but, he’s our only chance at leveling the playing field at all. We have to ask around, see if anyone has seen him or heard anything that could point him out to us. We at least have to try.” He lowered his head, waiting for her argument.
Sighing, Aislinn lifted his head. “Fine, but if we find out where he is, Justahl and Gemedes are coming along. There is no way I’m leaving them two alone in the castle. It wouldn’t be here when we returned.”
Seth jumped up and grabbed her into a bear hug, “Oh, this is going to be awesome. I just know he can help us, from all the stories your father told you, Ananais sounds like an amazing person.”
With a roll of her eyes she exited the room, calling while she walked, “I just hope your right. For the sake of this kingdom, I hope he is alive and will help us.” The doors closed as Aislinn hurried toward her room. She longed for her father’s encouraging words. King Galiron always knew what to do in times of trouble but, it was her turn to make decisions. Even though she wondered why the king hadn’t answered his device, she would make him proud to call her his daughter. Perhaps her luck was changing.