My teeth chattered profusely that I was worried I would end up with droopy cheeks like Bulldog's from my bone chipping off.

"C-Cold." I wrapped my arms around myself to keep my body as warm as possible.

However, nothing was going to keep me warm when I was surrounded by the hollowed eye ghost welcoming committee and their icy cloud.

"Use the salt sh-shaker." Even Leinard's telepathy was affected by the cold.

My hands shook as I fiddled around the belt pouch and, with Small Caps assistance, I was able to get a hold of the salt shaker container.

I was grateful that the thing was made of wood. The burning sensation of my palms was tolerable.

Many ghost hands reached for our vital organs, especially for our hearts.

Leinard's mouth became blue and immovable, preventing him from uttering a spell.

I sidled up to him to steal some of his body warmth, so I could force myself to lift the weight of my arms. I raised the shaker to the hollowed eye ghosts.

"Come on... SHAKE!"

I pressed through my splintering pain to shake out clouds of salt that vanquished the ghosts upon impact. It also caused a brute force that sent me and Leinard flying through the corridor and tumbling about a platform of glowing moonstone upon our landing.

"What's g-going on?" Leinard had managed to burr his question to the floor as he pushed himself up.

We gasped at the sight of the hexagon shaped platform we had found ourselves on. Hissing steam came out of the copper piping that ran its edges, which thawed some of my body, so I could move more freely. In the center was an arrangement of gold coins spinning about the air. They formed the shape of an enormous olive tree with branches of dark-gold light linking other glowing moonstone hexagon platforms that ran circles in the air meters above our heads. The tree's gold-light roots pierced through the floor. I noticed endpoints of black tunnels were stationary at all the platforms. A cloudy grey space sporadically lit up with electrostatic flashes and pulses.

"Not what you expected is it Lieutenant Colonel?" said a strange yet familiar voice.

I pushed myself up and came face to face with Death. He was wearing the Gat Shiem sackcloth tunic, long pants and straw sandals like the one that hollow-eyed version wore. Something else was inside my brother judging by the arrogant smirk on his face and the way his hands rested, childishly, on his hips.

"Who are you?" I blurted the question and received a condescending finger wag for a response.

"Are you Death?" Leinard had coolly rephrased my question.

"My, my, you boys are too impatient; always wanting to cut to the chase." Death's impostor skirted around our questions and approached Leinard, so their noses touched.

"This body's super sexy is it not? So fit and fair skinned with lots of virility, but nowhere to offload it." Death's impostor licked his plump lips and took a few steps back.

"I'm sorry, but this body doesn't yearn for the stoic macho type. Isn't that right, Famine?"

I gasped at the iridescent shimmer of Death's blue eyes. Was he being controlled?

"No possessed." Leinard corrected me.

It made sense and I felt there was some hope; if only I could kick that foul thing out of him. First, I needed to know what demon we were facing.

"Who are you?" I repeated my question and stiffened with discomfort when Possessed Death yanked me into a suggestive hug and licked my neck.

"Stop it! Yuck, get off me!" I yelled and struggled, and was released with a jerky push.

I tensed when Possessed Death's hand wrapped his own neck with threats of strangulation.

My heart picked up in beat with a hope that my real brother was still alive in there and fighting against the thing that had taken a hold over him.

Possessed Death bellowed with laughter and relaxed his hand. Had it been a joke?

"You seriously believe that your brother is conscious in this body?" Possessed Death resumed his cocky stance and expression of arrogance.

"Then again, you're the dumb one. Honestly, that Hades Lion screwed up my calculations."

"Sheesh, what's with these demons dissing me?" I sighed. "Hades Lion?"

I recalled the juxtapositioner demon saying a similar thing when we had fought him.

Possessed Death let out a spoilt child's rant on being duped.

"I did everything according to plan. Here I end up with the wrong set of brothers! Honestly, that just will not do!"

"What do you mean?" I questioned and gasped at the ghostly hand that was burning an icy ring around my throat.

From the corner of my eye, I saw our bodies surrounded by hollowed-eye ghosts.

It seemed Possessed Death was controlling these creatures too.

"Trash don't speak." Possessed Death directed a proper response to me.

Strangled noises escaped my throat as I felt the burning around my neck block off my airways.

The temperature of the platform had dropped to sub-zero, gradually making my skin numb and blue.

"You're a... hiruda...?" Leinard wheezed with frosty breaths.

I felt my strangulation ease, so I was able to breathe and took some time to recover as much of my strength as possible even with the icy hand still wrapped around my throat.

Leinard rushed through a quick fact sheet of what a hiruda was in my mind.

It was a parasitic demon belonging to the Night Vamprous genus, which depended on a meat suit (flesh-based body) and that suit's chi to survive since its own form was weak and subject to elemental and light-based attacks.

Once it hooked itself up to the central nervous system of a powerful host, it was a formidable foe. Especially since it also carried over its knowledge from former bodies into the current host.

As much I knew my brother, there was no telling what access to additional power the body before me was capable of.

Death was the only one of us who had magical abilities, which was charged by his keen empathy that he was able to master.

It was the reason Shuso had chosen him for cataloguing artefacts in the archives. He was able to identify the magic and signatures contained within objects.

"Crap," I spat out.

We were a hair's breadth away from being kaput.

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