We had only taken a few steps into the obsidian stone corridor when Leinard stopped abruptly, causing me to walk into his back.

I grumbled with my face contorted in a weird frown as I rubbed the sore spot on my nose.

"This is bothersome." He frowned.

"Something is not right about all of this. The headquarters, green room and now a pivot landing." He continued to speak in my mind.

"Is it something that weird?" I asked in thought.

"No, and yes," Leinard answered.

He opened some of his mind to give me a perspective of his typical workday.

In my mind...

I was walking through the Wisteria Garden Headquarters, greeting our fellow squad members and some animachines who maintained the small rose gardens and evergreen trees leading up to the modest-sized white stone and lattice gazebo (with a gold star compass weather dial spinning on its pointed roof) that enclosed a metal grilled elevator to the Fourth Tier of Hell's Labyrinth.

I alighted to the main foyer from the elevator and entered the staff areas of white marble foyers and red-carpeted hallways, weaving my way through other personnel of the Evadale Knight Order or Illuminate Officials and administration workers.

I passed an officer of a rank stumbling out of a green room, entered the elevator at the end of a floor where I took another ride to the white corridors of the Second Tier to check on some knights healing in the lantern rooms.

I then assumed another elevator journey to the First Tier with other Evadale Knights ready to brave entry into the bowels of Hell's Labyrinth.

The elevator opened to the sight of black wall corridors that I walked down to reach a dead end that was called a Pivot Landing. I stood on a silver-white platform surrounded by moving black tube tunnels that snaked about a grey space like tightly packed live worms in a can.

The knights affixed a smoky white glass coin to their right eye and waited for a tunnel to come into their view.

After a few tunnels had passed, a knight threw a gold coin in a tunnel causing it to stop before them with a 'gunting' noise.

They jumped into the tunnel and chased after the dark yellow path the coin had created; their dark patchwork overcoats making their bodies blend into the black walls and low red lighting.

"Do you see my concern?" Leinard spoke when he saw I had finished with the mental walk-through.

I gulped with an understanding.

"Demons and prisoners are contained or given a tincture to temporarily incapacitate all their senses upon entry to the labyrinth. It should be impossible. Yet you show up in a high-level demon's lair should also be impossible. I'm simply not sure any more."

Our situation was far more dangerous than we had realised.

I gasped when I saw Death standing before us a few meters away from the opening I knew would lead to a pivot landing.

His appearance was the same as on the last day we had spoken to each other at Gat Shiem, right down to the frayed hemlines of his sackcloth tunic and pants, which was caused by the constant snagging against the sharp edges of the glass cabinets that he frequented for his cataloguing duties in the Archive Tower. His fine crop of blond hair lazed about his ears and his head was slightly tilted with a pensive smile.

"Death." My head felt heavy upon saying his name aloud.

"Famine. Help me." Tears slipped from his hollow eyes.

"Please, Buddha, I beg you, protect my real brother." I prayed with hope and shivered from the icy cloud that descended on us.

"Famine, stand guard," Leinard warned.

ZaldizkoRead this story for FREE!