The Deal: Deal Breaker Part 1

Friday, 15 January 2016

I could hear the crackling of the flames as the black smoke which engulfed me began to evaporate into nothing. I had visions of being surrounded by a lake of fire, full with screaming, tortured souls.
   As the smoke dissipated and I could begin to take in my new surroundings I realized that the flames had been neatly contained within ornate torches, which created a lit pathway towards an ancient, cathedral like, building.
   Under foot I could hear something cracking under my weight and when I looked down I noticed that I was literally standing on a sea of skulls. I was grateful they didn’t move or otherwise come alive with the hideous souls the bones had once belonged to.
   I stopped in my tracks and glanced around in all directions. There was nothing but an infinite sea of skulls laid out as far as the eyes could see. All under a fearsome looking black sky which looked like it could dissolve a human soul just by being in its presence.
   I noted that Pertilius, the monk, was long gone. Probably preparing himself to deliver the good news to his master that I had destroyed probably one of the most important deals he had made since he started keeping records.
   Well, I hadn’t actually destroyed it yet. I turned my attention back to the building ahead and started walking. The sound of the crunching skulls under my feet was almost unbearable at times. It was a lot like someone dragging their finger nails down a chalk board, and I couldn’t help but wonder if that was the whole point.
   A kind of ancient warning system.
   As the building drew closer I half expected to see the Grimoyle’s. Those huge winged beasts that Satan loved to use as guards and pretty much anything else he could think of. I expected to see at least two of them floating around in the sky like birds of prey, patiently on the hunt for a new soul to destroy.
   I looked down at the gold band on my finger. It looked strangely dull under the light of the torches flames. If there was anything for me to worry about near by the ring would alert me to its presence. As it was the dull reflection of the ring helped to settle my nerves a little.
   After all I had every right to feel nervous. I was about to break a deal that could not only erupt a war between heaven and hell, but it would most certainly bring the wrath of Satan down on me.
   I still wasn’t sure if I would be strong enough for when that time came to face him. Pertilius and the angel Gabriel seemed to believe that I was the re-incarnation of the ancient wicked one. The original sinner and creator of the place that I surveyed as I continued my slow walk towards, what I was assuming, would be the ancient library. The place where all of the devils deals where kept for the sake of keeping God happy.
   Inside I didn’t feel like the most evil creature ever to grace mankind, but then again I had no idea if the Devil ever felt evil inside. Maybe he was simply defined by his acts of great horror.
   I had no idea. All I knew was that I needed to get inside the library and destroy the scroll that would at least free Lisa from Satan’s clutches. The second part, where I would have to go toe-to-toe with Satan was going to take much more work but was necessary to give Lisa her life back.
   When I reached the massive concrete steps leading up to the library I took a moment to gather my thoughts. Pertilius was unable to help locate the scroll once I was inside, indeed he had told me that he and his kind where not allowed inside the great library in case their magic damaged any of the scrolls in some way.
   I was basically going in blind. I had no idea what to expect, although a part of me understood that there would be some sort of security measures in place. Even Satan wouldn’t leave the scrolls unprotected, regardless of how fearsome he may be.
   Taking a deep breath I started up the steps. Each one felt like it was larger than the last, as if the building was growing in size the closer I got to it as opposed to shrinking.
   Silver torches, their flames licking at the sky, stood sentinel on either side of the large, arched doors. I reached out to touch one of the doors and stopped myself before the palm of my hand could come into contact with the ancient wood. In the back of my mind I couldn’t help but think I should be looking for another way inside.
   I was making myself far too obvious by simply entering the library as if it was perfectly normal for a human soul to wander in. Then again, looking at the sheer scale of the building, I knew that finding another entrance could take way more time than I had at my disposal.
   In my head the clock was ticking and I didn’t want to waste a second. So inhaling yet another deep breath, I pushed the door open just enough so that I could slide my body inside.

For the first time in recent memory, I could feel fear slowly rise up from my belly and into my chest. The sheer scale of the library on the outside did not do the interior justice. It was huge beyond comprehension. Under the massive domed ceiling, rows upon rows of book cases where lined out. Every one of them was packed with scrolls, all bound with red ribbon.
   What made my heart beat that little bit faster was the huge creatures stomping back and forth down the aisles of the library. Their bodies looked like they had been made from pure stone and their faces looked hideously contorted. It was as if their creator had become sick of looking at them and decided to chisel their features in odd places. One of them had half a mouth on its forehead while the other had its nose in a similar position.
   I stood there in the shadows of the arched doorway, my mind trying desperately to figure out what to do next. I had no way to know which scroll would be Lisa’s. It could have taken me years of searching before I even got close to finding it in the vast maze of the library, and with those stone guards wandering around it could take three times longer trying to evade them as well.
   A depressing black cloud was starting to form in my head as I stood there, unable to think and decide what to do next. One way or another I had to find that scroll so I wasn’t leaving until I had done so.
   It was then that a bright light exploded in my head and I remembered the piece of paper I had taken from the doctors’ office in the asylum. I quickly retrieved it and studied the numbers again.
   Five. Eight. Two. Zero.
   I had originally thought the numbers where a combination to a safe or possibly the pin code for a security door, but I had found no use for them while I was in Muirmill asylum, and I found it hard to believe that I would have any use for them in the great library.
   But as I studied the bookcase’s laid out before me like silent soldiers, I noticed that each one had a number carved in gold on its side. What I also noticed was that none of the numbers continued in sequence.
   I looked down at the small piece of paper in my open palm once again. The realization that what I was staring at, slowly sinking in. The numbers weren’t a code; they were a pattern which finished at the bookcase numbered zero.
   Determination began to overtake the rising fear inside me. I now had something that could help me locate Lisa’s scroll and stepping out from the shadows I decided it was time to start looking.
   Every step I took beyond the shadows was slow and almost painful. I had no idea how sensitive the huge stone creatures where to sound and I didn’t want to get involved in a fight with them unless I absolutely had to.
   No, this was a time for stealth. The action would come later once I had what I was looking for. Keeping my eyes on the guards I made my way between the first two bookcases. I studied each number I encountered, unsure what to expect when I found the first one.
   The floor beneath me trembled with every step those granite giants took and I could feel the adrenaline in my body begin to ramp up the production as my heart rate picked up.
   I passed six bookcases before finally coming to the one marked with a golden five. One of the stone statues was patrolling the aisle nearby and I could feel my palms grow sweaty as I studied the neatly piled scrolls on each shelf. I couldn’t see anything different, no magic glowing arrow pointing me in the direction of the next lot.
   Feeling a little deflated I turned my attention to the rest of the bookcases. Number eight was next. Moving to the edge of the bookcase I peered out into the aisle, watching as the stone statue turned its back on me before studying the numbers branded on the side of each case.
   None of them where the one I was looking for, so while the giant creature was still unaware of my presence I darted in between the next set of cases and again studied the numbers laid out before me.
   A brief pang of relief washed over me as I spotted number eight two rows up from where I was standing. The main aisle was empty since the second guardian was further down the library, its massive head scanning every row it came into contact with.
   I moved as quickly as I could to bookcase number eight. Again there was no sign that I was following the route correctly. All I could hope for was that when I reached number zero that there would be some sort of indication as to where Lisa’s scroll was.
   Once I was safely in the row between the bookcases, I moved back to the edge to glance out at the next lot. I could see number two the next row up. The guardians where now changing their position and it felt like they were heading back in my direction.
   I was going to have to move fast before they laid their crooked stone eyes on me.
   Darting to the bookcase marked as number two, I could feel my heart pounding in my chest and my breathing was more laboured than I would have liked to admit. Beads of cold sweat formed on my forehead and dripped from my eyebrows.
   One more to go. Number zero.
   Sticking to my current plan, I moved to the edge and studied the numbers. Nothing. No zero to be seen anywhere. The guardian was now walking between the rows that I currently occupied. It was only a matter of time before he spotted me and it would be game over.
   Thinking as fast as I could, I darted out into the aisle and quickly changed direction, so I was heading to the next row on my left. Once there I waited for the guardian to pass me by.


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