Chapter 3:


Lights Off

Elai Rivers point of view

I was still amazed by the video just now, how could something be so powerful as to turn off the sun

This was totally new, I don't remember anything like that written in myths or legends. I took the opportunity to take a closer look at the sky, I knew that all I would find were the stars but there was a space between them that was probably the moon

It was then that Annie got a message on her cell phone and her expression changed to one of visible disgust.

Elai: Annie? Did something happen ?

Annie: No biggie, just a little shit I have in the palm of my hand bothering me

Elai: Hmmm which one?

Annie: Shadowmaster 76

Annie: Can you believe that virgin pays me to see pictures of my legs?

Elai: I wondered how you managed to keep yourself after you got kicked out of the house

Joseph: Were you kicked out of the house?

Annie: Meh! It made no difference to my parents whether I lived there or not

Annie: Anyway, who lives in the past is a museum, that SM76 said that the high priest of the city is calling the occultists scattered around the city to meet

Joseph: Are there occultists in town?

Annie: Of course there are, we are everywhere, I don't doubt there are some in this little church of yours.

Joseph: What? This is horrible! I have to notify Father John immediately

Annie: Haha! I'm just kidding you, we have much better things to do

Joseph watched Annie suspiciously for a while.

Elai: When will the meeting be?

Annie: Today at 3PM

Joseph: Are you planning on going Elai?

Elai: Yes

Annie: No need to go to protect me Elai, I already said that me and Carmen are powerful together

Elai: I never doubted that, actually I want to go there to learn more about the demons

Annie: Oh now I get it, you want to learn from the real experts

Joseph: What do you mean by that?

Annie: That's right what you heard, we are the experts when it comes to demons unlike you who just hide and scare them away like cowards

Annie: I'll make it simple for even an asshole like you to understand, we've evolved to be able to coexist and cooperate with demons while you guys act like cavemen waving your torches around hoping it works.

Joseph: No matter how complex arguments you make, evil is still evil

Annie and Joseph then begin to argue about their point of views until Joseph receives a message from Father John

Joseph: A message from Father John

Elai: And what the message says

Joseph: He's inviting us to church for lunch later as soon as it's ready

Elai: Well free lunch isn't something to refuse, Annie will you come along?

Annie: What kind of question is that? I'd rather starve than enter a church

Elai: Ok I'll see if I can get something to bring you and I promise I won't let anyone bless the food

Annie blushed and turned her head to the side to hide

Joseph: Well... I think I'll go ahead to help prepare lunch

Elai: Okay, I'll join you soon

Sometime after Joseph returned to church

Elai: I've never been to an occult sect before... Is there anything I should know?

Annie: No biggie, everyone there is as easy to deal with as I am

I didn't know if she was being sarcastic but a place full of people like her must be dangerous

Elai: I want to know if I need to take special care like not saying "oh my god"

Annie: Hahaha! Elai you are funny sometimes despite your serious face

Annie: I will be with you, if you don't feel safe, me and Carmen will be able to take care of you

I felt strangely uncomfortable with what she said but having Annie and Carmen's protection was better than nothing

Elai: Well I have to go after Joseph, even though we are in a church I can't let an opportunity for the parents to poison us in any way

And then I left my stuff with Annie

Annie: Are you going to leave your stuff here?

Elai: Of course, I don't know about you but if I were like them I would feel threatened if a stranger walked through the door with an arm-sized scythe

Elai: Also I can't let my backpack catch on fire because I forgot a demon in it

Annie: Yeah, that makes sense

So I joined the church and... I didn't know what was going to happen, after all I hadn't been in a church since I was a teenager

“Ah! At least I didn't catch fire” I said in a low relieved tone.

The church was lit by antique-looking chandeliers showing the painting of angels and a few more people on the ceiling.

The pews were close together to save space, there were small groups of people in the corners, I walked straight ahead without looking at them, my footsteps echoed as everyone in the church was silent watching me

I continued walking until I got to the church altar where there was a big image of Jesus Christ and some other people I didn't know around him.

The church murmurs started, although they were trying hard to hide it, the subject was me

"Who is he?" "where did he come from" "let's go talk to him" was what everyone said but until then no one there seemed to have the courage to come talk to me until someone poked me in the right shoulder

"Hmmm sir?" It was a rather shy female voice, she still seemed to be afraid to talk to me

I turned to see who was calling me, it was a girl who looked 20 years old, her black hair was tightly tied in a bun behind her head.

Her eyes were green and her face smooth without any traces of any makeup, she was dressed in a white dress shirt buttoned to the neck so that it didn't reveal too much of her, her skirt was pink in a very light shade and it went down to her knees and on her feet a pair of sneakers with white socks

In short she was the stereotype of the nice girl who goes to church whenever she can, she in a weird way reminded me of Joseph, maybe they were friends

"My name is Emilya Rose, can I help you with something?" she told me in a polite tone as she bowed formally like people did in the old days

Elai: My name is Elai Rivers, nice to meet you

Emilya: Mr. Rivers how can I help?

Elai: I came looking for a friend of mine, his name is Joseph

Emily: Joseph? Hmm I think there must be a 3 or 4 with that name. Can you be more specific?

Elai: No need to be formal with me, anyway, Joseph is a little taller than me, he has dark skin and short hair

Emilya: Oh, I think you... I mean you're referring to the Taylor's son

Elai: That one! Do you know each other ?

Emilya: No, although the 3 spend a lot of time with church activities I never spoke directly to Joseph

I already expected an answer like, it was hard to imagine Joseph talking to a girl other than Annie

Elai: Well, after what you said I have no doubts it's Joseph, could you tell me where he is?

Emilya: Follow me to the next room please

Elai: Right

And then we left the altar and went deeper into the church

Elai: Emilya

Emily: Yes?

Elai: I'm not in the habit of coming to church, does everyone around here react the same way to visitors?

Emilya: Oh no, if I may comment I feel they are more surprised by your peculiar appearance

Elai: What do you mean by that?

Emilya: You are hairy, you have tears in your clothes and you are smeared with red paint, not to mention your tattoos

Elai: Oh I see, but I have to tell you that this on my clothes is not paint

Emilya: What?!? Isn't that ink on your clothes?

She looked scared by what I said even though it was expected that eventually someone there would get bloody

Emilya: Are you a mercenary?

Elai: What?

Emilya: Did you come to church to kill the priest?

Elai: What is this story? If you're afraid of the blood on my clothes know it's devil's blood... Well most of it

Emilya: Oh my God! Do you kill humans and demons without differentiating?

I was already starting to get annoyed with her deductions, this girl could give me problems

Emilya: Calm down, I'm kidding

Elai: What? But what kind of joke is this?

Emilya: I'm sorry, everyone in church is soo serious and you said I didn't need to be formal so I wanted to try something new

Elai: No problem, just don't do it again

Emily: Oh I'm sorry

Elai: No need to apologize, you just exaggerated

We continued the way to the back room where it was possible to hear some voices

There was a table with a cloth over it, several ingredients on it and a stove in the back

While everyone was working on the food Emilya entered the room and called Joseph by name

Joseph was in a corner doing nothing but picking up some things for whoever asked him so he was free to attend to Emilya

Joseph: M- Miss Rose, how can I help you?

Joseph was shy, couldn't keep eye contact with Emily, his posture was that of someone who wanted to hide

Emilya: Your friend is at the door, should I let him in?

Joseph: Of course! Any help in the kitchen is welcome

I walked into the makeshift kitchen and everyone was quiet, I looked around and saw Dorothea and Carlos

They remained silent but I could have sworn that if we weren't in the church the 2 would already be screaming

"Welcome, have you come to help us in the kitchen?" one of the people present asked me, breaking the silence

I was ready to say "no" but then I thought this was a great opportunity to make allies

Elai: Oh yes! Joseph told me that you were preparing lunch, as I used to work in a restaurant I thought I could help with something

In fact I had worked in restaurants before but even Joseph seemed to be surprised, I didn't used to talk much about my personal life before we met

It didn't take me long before I realized that not everyone there was good in the kitchen, incredibly Joseph's parents were the best there.

Little by little I started to dominate the kitchen, I took up the activities that Dorothea and Carlos couldn't do and I quickly gained the confidence of everyone in the room.

Elai: Ah! Fuck! I cut my finger

The room that was in good weather suddenly fell silent again

Elai: My bad

Carlos: Everyone go back to work

And then the kitchen went back to its normal pace until Emilya approached me

Emilya: Let me handle this

And then she says a low prayer and all of a sudden my cut has healed, I was less impressed than when Father John healed me.

Emilya: Wow, you are a hard boy to impress

Elai: Were you trying to surprise me?

Emilya: Eh... well not exactly

Elai: I met Father John earlier and he healed my ribs and my arm so I wasn't so impressed this time

Emilya then looked at me looking very upset

Elai: Thank you

Emilya's cheeks turned pink and she tried to hide

Some time later...

Lunch was ready, everyone was gathered around the table, I was going to start serving the dishes but Joseph held me back

Joseph: Elai, we still have to say the prayer

Elai: What? Do you do this before serving the food?

Joseph: Of course! We always appreciate the graces that God gives us.

Elai: Oh right, I'll wait outside the room

Suddenly Emilya takes my hand and starts the prayer moment

Emilya: Dear brothers and sisters, we are gathered at this time to praise and thank our God for this food that has been provided for us

Emilya: I would like to thank you for the arrival of our new battle brother Elai Rivers

Elai: Hey but I never said that...

Emilya then elbows me in the arm while everyone welcomes me except Dorothea and Carlos

Emilya: Do you have something to say Elai?

Elai: No

Emilya: Don't be shy, everyone here is a family

If everyone there were a family I would certainly be the black sheep and Joseph's parents would be the uncles who can't stand my presence

Elai: I have nothing to say

Then Emilya continued the ceremony, she asked everyone to close their eyes and make their requests in silence, I kept my eyes open as I watched the situation

After a while she asked everyone to open their eyes and then she started to pray about the food and everyone there followed her.

It seemed like a simple prayer, made in our language but everyone seemed to be focused until the end.

As soon as they finished their prayers, food began to be served. the hallway was too small to manage a queue so we split the team in two, one to take the dishes and one to prepare the dishes.

It took some time for everyone there to be served, to avoid problems I waited for everyone to serve themselves before taking my food and Annie's and then I left the room

Emily: Elai! Where are you going ? Why don't you have lunch with us?

Elai: Ah, I have someone waiting for me outside

Emilya: Did we forget someone? let me go with you

I wanted to tell Emily that it wasn't a good idea to go outside but she wouldn't listen to me

We walked outside the church to where Annie was, I was ready for the show the two of them could do

Emilya: Oh my God!

Annie who was distracted using her cell phone turned to Emilya

Emilya: This sheep is very cute!

Emilya: Can I touch her?

Annie was looking at me confused, she didn't know how to handle the situation so I signaled for her to continue the conversation normally

Annie: Yes, move on

Emilya then started to hug Carmen like she was a stuffed animal

Annie: Her name is Carmen

Carmen then gives a low growl

Annie: She said she liked you

Emilya: Do you understand her? This is wonderful! I wish I had a friend like her

Annie was uncomfortable, anyone who didn't know her could tell she was embarrassed

Annie: Elai, who is your friend?

Emilya then gets up and makes the same formal bow she did to me and says her name

Annie: How cute, my name is Annie Walker

Emily: Thank you, you look great too

I knew Annie, if Emilya showed any trace of being interested in women she would attack

Elai: I brought your lunch

Annie stared at the food for a while hesitating to take

Elai: No need to be ashamed, I made sure those 2 didn't put razors in the middle of the food

Elai: By the way Emilya also helped with the preparation

Upon hearing this Annie then took the plate from my hand and started eating in silence, so I took advantage of the situation and started eating too

As soon as Annie was finished, she and Emilya started talking about various subjects and I got a message

12:20PM Joseph: Father John is calling you to his office

12:21PM Me: Can't right now, I'm with Annie and Emilya outside the church

12:21PM Joseph: He said it was important, I'll come over

12:22PM Me: Tell him he doesn't have to thank me, Annie and Emilya are getting along well, it would be bad if you two started arguing because Annie insulted you

12:23PM Me: Give him my number

12:25PM John: Elai?

12:25PM Me: Yes

12:26PM John: First of all I would like to thank you for your help with lunch.

12:26PM Me: I told Joseph you didn't have to thank me

12:26PM Me: Let's get to the main point, you didn't call me to talk about lunch right?

12:26PM John: I apologize for seeming obvious

12:27PM John: Joseph told me that you and Annie intend to go to the occult sect

12:27PM Me: Yes I am, and I hope I won't be stopped

12:28PM John: Oh no! I don't feel entitled to stop you even if I wanted to

12:28PM Me: Why are we talking?

12:28PM John: I would like to ask you a favor

12:29PM John: Please share the important information you get on your trip.

12:30PM Me: Who guarantees that I'll carry out your order? we just met

12:31PM John: In fact, we've only known each other for a little while but I can tell you that you are a good person Elai

12:32PM John: A bad person wouldn't walk into the church and would gladly help with lunch

12:32PM John: A bad person wouldn't sacrifice himself for his friends

12:33PM Me: I won't promise anything, to be honest I wish I didn't have to take sides in this fight

12:33PM John: I understand your point of view

12:33PM John: Thank you

That wasn't quite an ordinary request, I think in Father John's mind only I could do the favor at that moment, I felt like a secret agent

A few moments passed and Joseph walked out the church door

Joseph: E-Emilya...

Emilya: Yes?

Joseph: Father John wants to talk to you

Emilya was sad to have to let go of Carmen but she couldn't ignore John's call

Emilya: Guys I'll be right back, you can wait for me at the church

Annie: I appreciate the invitation but Elai and I have a place to go soon

Emilya: Do you have a place to go? Where do you have to go in this apocalypse?

Annie: We're going to...

Joseph: They're going to dance class!

Emilya: Dance class? But what kind of apologies is...

Joseph then pulls Emily back to church

Annie: Dance class? Couldn't he think of a better excuse?

Elai: Oh yes and telling a girl devoted to Christ that you will worship the devil is a great idea

Elai: Anyway, let Joseph deal with the problem he fixed, are you ready to go?

Annie: I'm ready

I got my things and got ready for the walk

Elai: By the way how far is this sect?

Annie: It's 30 minutes if we go over to Carmen

Elai: Wait! Will you let me ride Carmen?

Annie: Just this once, walking slowly with you and the Taylors was tedious

Annie: Plus I hate being indebted to someone

The 2 of us then rode Carmen and I understood why Annie and Emilya liked her so much, her wool was extremely soft as a blanket.

Annie: Hold on tight!

Elai: What?!?

Annie gave the order and Carmen ran off towards the sect.

“haha! I'll never get tired of this” Annie squealed happily as she opened her arms

Annie: Are you enjoying Elai? This good feeling of traveling on top of Carmen

Elai: It's not bad! Although she has reptilian legs her riding is very smooth

We continued down the path at the same pace for a while until some lesser demons started following us

Elai Annie! There are enemies behind us

Annie: I noticed, are you ready to have some fun?

Elai: You are the boss

Annie then took her wand and started shooting fireballs at the demons that got close while I cut some that were in the way.

We were arriving at the place when the hordes dwindled and then Carmen stopped abruptly

I was distracted so when she braked I fell off her and rolled for a few meters on the asphalt

Elai: Damn Annie! Why didn't you tell us we were going to stop?

Annie: Oops!

Elai: Oh whatever, is this the place?

Annie: Yes, let's go

The place looked like a nightclub, several different people were chatting outside while loud music played

Several of them had the same tattoo, some of them had the symbol marked on their face

We walked to the door while most of the people were quiet

Elai: Oh, did we go back to Joseph's church and didn't notice?

Annie: Don't be embarrassed, we're made to draw attention wherever we go

Annie: Just ignore them

It wasn't long before a big man like a mountain came up to us and stopped in front of Annie

Every arm of his seemed to be the width of my head, he had a low mohawk and tattoos on his face.

I had already prepared my scythe for any problem I had and then he opened a wide smile on his face

“Countess! You really came!” he yelled in a tone that could be heard from meters away

“You clown! How many times have I told you not to doubt me?”

"I apologize for my mistake milady, this humble servant will do his best not to commit it again"

“What about this chicken there? Is he bothering you?” He looked at me like a guard dog when a stranger approaches his owner

"He is my friend, he is interested in our group and so he accompanied me here"

He then extends his hand to greet me and I in response take his hand

Tyller: My name is Tyller Chang, don't you dare forget my name 

Elai: Elai Rivers, I hope we don't have any problems

We stared at each other steadily as he squeezed my hand

"Damn it! Is he trying to break my hand?” I thought as I felt my hand being crushed like it was in a press

Annie: Tyller, if you don't wanna lose your arm you better let go of his hand

Tyller: What?

Annie: Elai killed at least 10 demons and two people just today

Tyller: With all due respect, Countess but are you sure this chicken can kill someone?

Elai: Want to test your luck? You can lick Annie's foot if you want but if you're going to attack me I'll treat you like an enemy

I didn't want to get into trouble but if this was the way to gain respect among occultists I would have to play Annie's game

He then stared at me for some time until he let go of my hand

Tyller: Come on my countess, people are dying to meet you

We then proceed to the entrance of the club

Elai: Annie, thanks for defending me just now

Annie: I wasn't defending you, I was showing you how to earn respect around here

I took the opportunity to see how Carmen behaved in crowds, I was so distracted by Tyller that I forgot about Carmen, I doubt he noticed her as he was busy trying to mark territory like a dog.

Despite looking like a mutant sheep Carmen was actually adapting well to the place, I admit I judged her by her appearance, but from what I saw she looked like a child.

We then arrived at the group that Tyller mentioned, there were 3 men and 3 women and everyone was playing cards on a table.

Tyller: Guys, this is Annie, the beautiful lady I told you about

Everyone at the table looked at Annie, some didn't look impressed while others gave her a different look until everyone looked to Annie's right side and got scared.

No wonder everyone reacted the same way, we were in a dark night in the midst of an invasion of hell, as much as they craved something like that since they became occultist see a big sheep like a person would scare anyone

Annie: Guys I know Elai is new to the group but you don't need to look at him that way

Elai: Hey!

Elai: Anyway, I think they're looking at Carmen

Annie: No way! Carmen is beautiful! Look at their faces, they're scared

Annie: Carmen is beautiful, isn't it people?

All responded positively but shyly

Annie: I can't hear you

They then started praising Carmen like she was a queen, of course they were doing it out of fear but Annie didn't seem to mind

“And this handsome one with you? What's his name?”

"Hmmm me?" I was kind of confused by the sudden compliment

"Yes dear, you!" he looked at me interested

"My name is Elai Rivers"

“Elai? I will not forget your name ”

I was embarrassed to tell him that I liked women, but for now I decided to let him have fun

Tyller: Annie, join us at the table

Annie then grabbed a chair and sat down, then Tyller sat next to her.

Tyller: We are playing Blackjack, would you like to play it too?

Annie: How do you play that?

Annie was known in our group as the queen of games, it was hard to find a game where she didn't stand out from us, she was up to something

Tyller: Let me explain how the game works.

Tyller: We use a deck of 52 cards, we ask for cards in order to make the most points but it cannot exceed 21

Annie: Understood

Tyller: Cards will remain face down until everyone has received their cards

Tyller: Each player is limited to choosing a maximum of 5 cards

Tyller: The royal trinity and jokers are worth 10 points

Annie: Got it, seems like an easy game

Tyller: Great! I think we can start betting

So everyone put some items on the table to bet, Annie put money

Tyller: Okay so I'll shuffle the cards

As expected, Tyller dealt the cards first to Annie

Tyller: How many cards will you want?

Annie: 5

Tyller: 5 early on? Are you sure?

Annie looked at Tyller without saying anything causing him to be intimidated

Tyller: Sorry

And then Tyller was drawing cards for everyone at the table

Tyller: Check your cards

Everyone looked at their cards and tried to disguise their reactions

Tyller: Would anyone like to ask for more cards?

Annie: I want

Tyller: Sorry my goddess but you can't get any more cards

Annie: Oh! I forgot

Some asked for more cards until they felt satisfied

Tyller: Ready? turn your cards over

Everyone turned over their cards and to no one's surprise Annie had passed the point limit.

The betting rounds continued, eventually Annie won but soon after she lost her profit until in the tenth round Annie appeared to have nothing left to bet

Tyller: My lady, if I may give my opinion I think you should stop

Annie: Why should I?

Tyller: You seem to have nothing else to bet on

Annie: I still have my clothes

Everyone there seemed surprised by what Annie said.

Annie: That's just what you thought, I'll bet all my clothes

Tyller: We don't need to go to that point

Elai: I have to agree with him

Annie: Won't tell me you don't want to see me like I came into the world

Tyller: Eh... Yeah but not like that

"I refuse" one of them yelled hitting the table

“Do you think we are idiots? you just lost everything by betting, now if we bet you will find a way to win"

The murmurs then started, everyone there was agreeing with the one who raised his voice first, I was starting to worry about Annie so I went to talk to her

Elai: Annie, they are very angry with you

Annie: Yeah I know

Elai: If you play now, do you think you can win?

Annie: Yes

They wouldn't willingly bet Annie again so I took out the bag that held the first demon I killed and placed it on the table which made a loud punching noise.

"What is it?" one of the group asked scared

Elai: These are all the parts I managed to keep from the first demon I killed

"Are you planning on betting this?"

Elai: No. I'll leave this as a guarantee for you, regardless of the outcome of the bet, this is yours

“Why should we accept this? Not everyone here wants to see your friend"

Elai: We mustn't forget why we came here

Elai: I'm new to this stuff but I'm sure with this demon you'll start ahead of other occultists

The table spent time talking to each other until a decision was made.

"We'll take your offer, but I'll shuffle the cards"

Elai: Don't lose this time Annie

Then the betting round started again

"How many cards will you want this time?"

Annie: 2

So Annie took two cards and everyone there was smiling evilly, it was noticeable that there was something wrong there

When everyone finished taking their cards it was clear that no one was planning to let Annie win

"Check your cards" the shuffler asked, everyone but Annie checked their cards

"Anyone want to get some more?" he asked for the last time

Annie: I want

Annie: Spread the remaining cards on the table

Everyone there didn't understand what she was planning with it but the shuffler left the rest of the cards lined up on the table

Annie then hovered her hand over all of them and then chose a card

Annie: I want this one!

"Are you sure?" the shuffler asked confidently but Annie was unfazed

"Everyone see your cards"

Everyone then turned over their cards and to the surprise of those at the table, Annie was victorious with 21 points

“A queen of hearts, a joker and an ace of spades! This is impossible!" the scrambler was distressed by the result

The turmoil had started, some were ready to resolve the situation using their fists

“How did you manage to beat us?!?”

Annie: A good magician never reveals her secrets

Annie seemed to be being sarcastic but considering the victories she had over me and Joseph plus the fact of her recent friendship with Carmen I was doubting if she was even joking.

I wasn't the only one to doubt Annie, no one there seemed to believe she won without cheating but we were interrupted when from inside the club someone yelled “the ceremony is about to start! The master has arrived!"