Four - A Mission

2092 Words
I could not believe what I had just heard. I stared with widened eyes and a gaping mouth at the robed man. Amias stared right back. His deep blue eyes seemed to reach into my soul. His face was set in an expressionless manner which was hard to read. “You have got to be playing on me, Amias,” I said. I decided against explaining my family’s religious beliefs to him as it felt tedious. Add to that fact that I was shaken to my core. “There is no way that this is Hell! It is not real!” Amias smiled a thoughtful smile. He took the walking cane hanging on a strap across his back and held it with his left hand. He gave the stone ground a light tap with the tip of his cane and sighed. “Samuel,” he began. “What else do you need to see to believe me? A swarm of gray-skinned ghouls chased you. You were tossed to the air by the Tyranid twice. Look around you,” he said as he waved his spare hand in the air. “Does this place look like Jaffa to you? Or Heaven, perhaps?” I looked around as I did not know what to say. Barren wasteland, unending orange skies, and a seemingly infinite nothingness surrounded me. He’s right. This is not Jaffa. This doesn’t look like Heaven either. “No,” I admitted. “But maybe this is Gehinnom, the waiting place. I know that I am not in Hell because I don’t believe in it. All I know is that I died from the sting of a colossal scorpion.” “You are not dead, Samuel, you know that. You can feel it from the beating of your heart inside you,” he answered. “With that said, you are not in Gehinnom as that place is for the dead. And saying that Hell does not exist is a bold statement, Chazaklev. Not believing in something doesn’t make it any less true.” “But if I am alive, then why am I in Hell? What am I being punished for?” I asked. I could feel my muscles shiver despite the heat. “For burning the Challah bread? For not taking part in the Shabbat?” At that, Amias let out a little laugh as though he was amused. Few fine lines appeared around his eyes as he smiled at me. “Child,” he said, sighing. “You are not here in Hell because you are being punished. If anything, it is the opposite. You were chosen by Heaven! By the Archangels!” he added, beaming a little more. His perfect teeth were as white as pearls. “And no, it is not just happenstance. The Angels resurrected you for a reason. All of you were.” My head perked up. “All of you?” I asked. “What do you mean all of you?” “I apologize if I failed to mention,” Amias replied, his pale cheeks flushing. He drew the hood of his robe back, showing his long spill of black hair. Aside from a few white strands of hair and subtle wrinkles on his face, there were no other clues to his age. With Amias’s light smile, he looked just a little bit older than my father. “There are others who were resurrected like you. Aside from yourself, the Angels chose two more; another man and a woman. They are waiting for us inside the caves.” My mind was spinning. I did not know which question to ask first. Should I ask about the Archangels? Or the other chosen ones? Should I ask whether my mind has been inflicted with an incurable disease? “You are saying that the others know that I am here?” “Yes,” Amias nodded. “I told them you have arrived. I left them inside the safety of the caves so I could fetch you,” he said as he turned around and began to walk away, his cane tapping on the stone ground. “Now that all of you are here, the Divine Quest can finally resume.” “What Divine Quest?” Amias looked at me over his shoulder. “Come with me, child,” he remarked. “I will tell you everything on our way to the cave.” He gave me another sweet smile, and for a moment, I thought that he almost looked like my grandfather. I watched him turn his head as he began to walk uphill. The rhythmic tapping of his cane was the only sound I heard as Amias made his way back to his cave. -0- After hiking up the hilly terrain, we reached the cave that Amias was talking about. It looked like any other cave. Aside from the makeshift door that was a large plate-like boulder, there was nothing particularly peculiar or strange about it. After Amias rolled the round stone door to the side and stepped in, I followed him. Unlike outside, the cave was cold and dim. There were only a few growths that sprouted from the ground and the roof of the cave, which made for easy navigation. Although no light from the outside made it in, the inside of the cave was made partially visible by the glowing moss on the cavern’s walls. “Amias,” I called out. The robed man was walking a few steps ahead of me. My voice was low, but I knew that he heard me since my words echoed through the hollowness like the cries of a lonely ghost. “What is it, Samuel?” Amias asked without turning to look at me. “You told me earlier that you will answer my questions once we are inside the cave,” I reminded him. “This is the cave, isn’t it?” I asked. “You can tell me now.” “Oh,” he remarked. “Of course, Samuel, of course,” he said. “What would you like to know?” “Everything.” Amias let out a small chuckle. “Everything’s a good point to start,” he mused. “Perhaps, I shall begin with why I am here,” he said, looking over his shoulder at me. He stopped for a moment and then walked again. “I was just like you,” he said. “I was once a dweller of the mortal plane. I once roamed the earth, minding my own life when fate decided to step in. I could still remember that day as if it was just yesterday. The love of my life, Sarah, was inside her room when the Archangel Raphael came to me. The Angel disguised himself as a man named Azariah. I was on my way to Sarah’s chambers when Azariah stopped me in my tracks and told me about the incoming threat of darkness. He told me stories… prophecies of a great tide of evil brewing against mankind. He told me that unless Heaven and Earth intervened, Hell would succeed to rise,” he said and paused to sweep away something that was blocking his path. I did not see what it was, but I thought that it did not matter. “That’s it?” I asked, my tone rising. “You believed him just like that? He could be lying, or worse, he could just be out of his mind.” “If I did not believe him, son, I would not be here,” he answered. He glanced over his shoulder at me and flashed his perfect smile. “And mind you, child, you do not say no to an Angel.” “You said he was a man. How did you know that he really was what he claimed to be?” “When Azariah touched my hand, a searing golden light flooded my vision. I saw him as the Angel that he was,” replied Amias. “I had my doubts, yes. At first, I thought that he was just possessed by some evil spirit, but then he told me to have faith. So I believed him. It was then that Azariah revealed his true form to me. I saw the Archangel, all in his full glory. Massive, luminous, white-feathered wings were behind him. He was clad in what looked to me was a golden tunic. I did not see his features clearly as everything about him glowed as though he was made from pure light. My eyes burned, but I could not look away,” he said and continued forward, his cane tapping against the rocky cavern floor. “Tell me, Samuel,” he mused. “Would some human who was just out of his mind be able to do that?” I did not know what to say, so I didn’t answer. After a moment of silence, Amias realized that I wasn’t going to speak, so he continued with his story. “The Archangel then told me that I was chosen to fulfill the Divine Quest. I wasn’t able to ask as I was dazzled by his light. He told me to bid my goodbyes to Sarah as he would take me that night to thwart the plans of darkness.” “What were the plans of darkness, exactly?” I asked as I bent my head down to avoid the sharp stalactite overhead. “You keep saying darkness this, darkness that, but you are still not telling me anything about it.” Amias made an audible sigh. “Invasion,” he said. “The King of this Hell wanted to rise to the mortal plane and claim the whole Earth as his.” Shivers ran up and down the length of my limbs as I listened to Amias’s response. I swallowed the gathering lump inside my throat. “Wait,” I began. “You said, King of this Hell? Do you mean there are others?” At that, Amias turned around to look at me. “Yes, child,” he answered. “There are nine circles in Hell. Each one has a King,” he explained. “The King of this Hell wanted more for himself. He wanted to raise this circle to the mortal realm.” “Who is this King?” I asked, my mouth gaping open. “What is his name?” Amias turned to face me and his deep blue eyes locked with mine with such intensity that it hurt. “One does not mention the name of the King of Hell, especially in his realm. If uttered, the King would hear, and he would destroy us on the spot. However, I will tell you his name through writing. Promise me that his name will not pass through your lips.” I nodded. I didn’t know why, but I did. With his cane, he drew letters on the ground, spelling the name of the King of Hell on the rocky, barren soil of the cave. I watched with my widened eyes as Amias traced the demon King’s name. A - S - M - O - D - E - U - S. Asmodeus, I thought, and chills ran down my spine. I took a deep breath and cleared my throat. “If you say that this demon King can appear out of nowhere and destroy us just by the mention of his name, how are we supposed to thwart his plans? How can we defeat such a powerful enemy?” “When the Archangel Raphael sent me here, he gave me his Divine armaments. His weapons and armors, but before I could reach the lair of the demon King, a Tyranid broke my leg. I managed to kill the worm demon before it could finish me off. Weak and almost dying, I fell down. I was surprised that I was still alive, but when I woke up, the Angel’s weapons were gone, scattered throughout this realm.” “I don’t see how missing weapons could help us win.” “That is why you were sent here along with the others.” “What does it have to do me?” I asked and raised my eyebrows at him. “Along with the other reborn warriors, you will find and collect the Heavenly armaments,” said Amias, his stare unwavering. “You, Samuel Chazaklev, will lead the Divine Quest and defeat the King of the Second Hell.” .
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