AN: Sorry... I haven't updated in foreverrrrrr *ashamed* this was sitting around on my computer though, and I finished it, and here it is! Chapter 2 of End of the Truth!
I hope you guys enjoy it at least ^^;
The HellRealm Court looked as ominous as it did the last time Keats had been there. Dark red clouds swirling in a blood red sky over a russet red court. Maybe the denizens liked the colour scheme, but Keats wasn't quite as fond of it.
He had half hoped that his appearance would stir up a commotion. He wasn't disappointed. As soon as he walked in through the rusted iron double doors after Koop, many hisses, low murmurs, and cries of disbelief rang throughout the court. Keats, however, was neither intimidated, nor insulted. On the contrary, he was rather amused that he had an effect of this degree on such a large crowd.
"Court is now in session!" a deep voice boomed. The muttering died down until the entire court was silent. Nonchalantly, Keats' hands found their usual place in his pockets as he stepped to Koop's left. Three other HellRealm denizens took their places to his right.
Probably Koop's friends… Keats thought, sparing them a sideways glance before turning back to face the newly appointed Judge.
A figure cloaked in black stood from his seat, high above the rest of the audience. Keats squinted through his glasses to get a better look. He saw that the Judge was wearing a black cloak and a white mask with numerous spikes protruding from it. Through two holes in the mask, a pair of bright yellow eyes could be seen, their gaze directed at Keats with what seemed like faintest inklings of interest.
Keats was far from impressed. The Judge looked plain, but Keats knew better than to underestimate him. Gazuk? Yeah, that was his name… Keats thought absently.
"Denizens Koop, Agith, Beagar, Sazir, and also…" Judge Gazuk paused, yellow eyes glittering. "It appears we have an important guest among us, who has taken the time to join our court…"
More muttering. Gazuk lazily knocked the gavel against the sound block in front of him.
"To what do we owe the honour, Sir Keats?" the Judge said in a mocking tone. Keats pushed up his glasses, prepared to give his two cents on the matter, but Koop quickly snatched the opportunity to speak.
"Y'see, Judge," said the angry denizen. "I don' think you're bein' a good Judge! Judges are s'posed t'be fair, aren't they?" Koop looked to his friends, who quickly nodded vigorously in affirmation. Keats resisted the insane urge to roll his eyes and leave the court and the group to their devices. He hadn't realized he was siding with a bunch of idiots when he answered their call.
"Is that so…?" the Judge drawled. Keats frowned. He concluded that he didn't like the new Judge. Sure, Yama wasn't exactly a pleasant fellow, but at least he was bearable (if you ignore his attempt at killing you, Keats added mentally). There was just something about Gazuk's voice that irked him. It sounded… well… almost like his own caustic tone sometimes. Keats felt the corners of his mouth quirking upwards. If Keats had met someone who was just like himself, he was certain that he wouldn't like him. He wondered how Ellen had managed to keep up her polite, even cheerful on occasion, tone. Then again he would never really understand that girl.
Woman, he corrected. But he could think no more on the subject, as the Judge began to speak again.
"Do the prosecutors have any evidence supporting their claim?"
Keats looked sharply over at the suddenly unsure denizens wondering for the hundredth time when and how he came to have a conscience. Or how it had grown so quickly. Well, he thought so, at least.
Finally Koop opened his mouth again nervously. "Ahhhm… well…"
Seconds ticked by. The whole thing was ridiculous. You didn't go to a court to accuse the Judge. Keats, feeling impatient, decided to seize his opportunity to at least obtain some information.
"If I may, Judge," he drawled. "I noticed upon my arrival here that the HellRealm Portals have been deactivated. Is it true that you are the one who has done this, as the denizen Koop has informed me?"
Keats held his ground as two bright yellow pinpricks pierced him in scrutiny. Gazuk let the silence hang briefly before responding an affirmation. Keats frowned. Maybe it was something in the Judge's voice, or mannerisms but he had the sudden thought that the Judge was amused. Trying to shake the feeling, Keats continued.
"I recall an acquaintance of mine informing me that the Portals within the realms should not be tampered with, unless dire circumstances are present." Keats paused and looked around warily. "Pardon me if I seem ignorant as I don't frequent this realm, but does the Judge have such power here?"
The mutters started up again. Keats suspected then that Gazuk didn't justify properly to the denizens why he shut down the Portals. He still wasn't sure though, and he itched to know what they were all thinking. Keats' face, however, showed none of his racing thoughts, his mask of grim composure set. The gavel was heard once again.
"It is true, I am the reason why the Portals in HellRealm are inactive. However…" Gazuk's eyes glittered eerily. "I have only done this because it appears there is a thief among us."
He paused, allowing an almost tangible silence to ensue. Keats frowned all the while. He did not like where this was going.
"I call forth your attention, denizens of HellRealm!" the Judge boomed. "An item of incomparable value has been taken from us – Perighan's Flame!"
There was a sudden uproar as the audience hissed and howled at the Judge's words. Keats glanced at Koop and his friends questioningly. Koop looked rather pale as he turned towards Keats.
"Uhh oh… Perighan's Flame…" Koop stammered.
"What is it?" Keats asked impatiently. Koop said nothing more, so one of his friends answered Keats' question instead.
"P-Perighan's Flame is a d-demon pendant of sorts…" the denizen said shakily. "I h-hear that the beast Perighan can be called with it…"
The denizens beside him looked even paler than usual. Keats pushed his glasses up in bemusement. It seemed there was more trouble here than he had bargained for. He looked up at the Judge, who was watching them, eyes glittering all the while. Keats was beginning to regret answering the phone. Despite this, he couldn't deny that part of him was itching with curiosity. Another big scoop couldn't hurt, could it?
"Pardon if I'm a little lost, but what exactly is the problem?" Keats' voice rang out among the din. The Judge seemed amused.
"Why surely you have heard of the beast known as Perighan?" Judge Gazuk said eerily.
"I'm afraid you'll have to fill me in," he responded, grim smile in place. The whole courtroom was deathly quiet by now, all awaiting the Judge's response.
"Perighan is a demon beast. One that devours souls, and…" Gazuk sneered. "It is known as the Second Judge."
Spare me the drama, Keats thought to himself.
"So beings found guilty in this court are given to this 'Perighan?'"
"Not all, I assure you, Keats. Only the most wicked are punished by Perighan." The Judge's eyes gleamed. Shaking off the feeling of unease slowly creeping up on him, Keats pressed on.
"And let me guess, the control of this creature being in an outsider's possession poses a potential threat to HellRealm?" The denizens beside him shifted uncomfortably, but Keats ignored them. The Judge stared. The entire courtroom was holding its breath. The sinking feeling in Keats' stomach never left him, and when Judge began to speak, he predicted almost word for word the painfully clichéd statement he was about to make.
"Oh… But it's so much worse than that."
Ellen was finally ready to go. She held onto the green locket tightly, rubbing it with her fingers. She thought of taking off the silver medallion she usually wore and replacing it with the locket, but decided against it. Truth be told, Ellen was more than a little bit afraid of the locket, feeling that it would strangle her with the chain it was on, were it to hang around her neck. Ellen sighed. She was being irrational, but she couldn't ignore the sensation.
She inhaled, exhaled, then repeated the process. She was about to leave when…
What if he doesn't want to see me?
Chewing her lip nervously, Ellen remembered how Keats had told her before she was a bother and a distraction from his work. And true to his word, he never really seemed to appreciate her visits. Ellen shook her head. It was just Keats, why should she be worried? After what they had been through… and this seemed to be important.
Before she could think again, Ellen accessed the way to Keats' office and vanished from the Real world. She was there almost instantly, standing just outside his door. She had come here only a few times, but it was enough to make her feel familiar. Boldly, Ellen raised her hand and knocked on the dusty red door. Once, twice, and after a brief moment of indecision, a third knock came. Ellen waited, but no answer came. Silence filled the corridor. Cautiously, Ellen opened the door to Keats' office and peeked inside. Ellen found, to her relief, that it looked like it always did. Thin rays of sunlight crept into the room through gaps in the blinds while the sound of a clock ticking could be heard nearby. Papers were strewn across Keats' desk along with his typewriter, tape recorder, several old-looking books, and lots of dust. Ellen giggled. It looked like Keats hadn't been keeping up with his cleaning.
So everything was present and accounted for. Minus the owner of the cluttered office of course.
Ellen wasn't too worried, however. This wasn't the first time she had visited while Keats was away. It wasn't often he left his office, but it wasn't out of the ordinary for Keats to leave his office to wherever he hurried off to. Ellen stepped into the little kitchenette where she usually found herself boiling water to make tea. She meandered over to a stain she spotted on the counter next to an almost empty cup. And Ellen also noticed the box of teabags near the cup branded 'Strawberry-Lemon Flavour.' Aha. I knew he liked it, she thought, allowing herself a small smile.
Ellen paced back to Keats' office, unsure of what to do next. She fingered the green pendant in her pocket.
Maybe Bogle knows more about this? The woman did mention 'faeries'… Ellen thought. Decisively, Ellen quickly scrawled a note, left it on Keats' desk, and returned to her apartment in the real world.
Keats left the Courtroom in a daze, with Koop and his friends trailing behind him.
"Uhh, thanks fer 'elpin' us back there' mister!" Keats pinched the bridge of his nose without stopping to wait for the denizens behind him.
"It was as much for my sake as it was yours," Keats muttered. "I had better get more than a 'thank you' by the end of this." He knew already though.
This was going to end up being more trouble than it was worth.
"Ahh, it's fer a good cause mate!" Koop said encouragingly. Keats swung around glaring coldly at them. He opened his mouth, thought better of it, then closed it again.
"Just… don't get into more trouble again okay?" Keats said wearily. He opened the portal back to his office and stepped into it while Koop and his friends just stared, dumbstruck.
Keats sank into his chair, placed his elbows on the desk, and rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands. The sleep he needed was getting harder to find. How on earth was he going to find a pendant in the Netherworld? He didn't even know what it looked like, let alone which Realm to look in first. Blinking blearily, he found something out of place on his cluttered table, and picked it up. His eyebrows lifted slightly as he read the message on the scrap sheet of paper.
I have something I need help with. I'm going to the Faery Realm, but I'll be back. If you return before I do, then could you please meet me there?
Interesting. Ellen hadn't visited him in a while, but besides that, Keats felt the beginning of a new mystery poking temptingly at his mind. Added to that, there was a possibility that this was a lead for his current dilemma.
"Ah, Sir Keats!"
Keats looked up and spotted the owner of the voice. His eyes narrowed. "You should stop doing that…" he said wearily.
"My apologies," Belgae responded, invisible head bowed slightly. "Miss Ellen was here not too long ago."
"So I noticed," Keats said, holding up the note. "What were you two doing in my office?"
"Well, truth be told, I did not make my presence known to her."
Keats snorted. "She probably mistook you for a hat rack."
"I am invisible, you know," Belgae said defensively. Keats waved him off dismissively. "In any case, what happened?"
"Hmph. Well, I merely dropped by for a visit-"
"-You never come here just to 'visit'," Keats cut in, eyebrows raised.
"-but Miss Ellen was already here," Belgae continued, ignoring the jab. The pair had formed a relationship of mutual respect, close to friendship, but not quite there. "Most likely she was looking for you, so when she saw you weren't here, she scribbled down a note, then took off. She appeared to be in a hurry, might I add."
"Indeed," Keats muttered. "Now, do you mind telling me why you're really here before I run off after her?"
"I was just wondering how you were," Belgae said innocently. "I hear of your heroic antics often across the Netherworlds."
"Oh, ha ha," Keats deadpanned. He didn't buy his story for a second, but decided to raise the topic later. "You've come by at the wrong time for an idle chat. Tag along, if you want though, I'm headed for the Faery Realm."
"Hmm. I might just take you up on that offer."
"Brilliant. Let's go then." Keats stretched, before briskly exiting his room and accessing a door to the Faery Realm, Belgae following close behind.
And behind Belgae, another shadow joined theirs.
Ohh what now? Hehe, well, I can't promise when I'll next update, especially now that school's started again, but I'll try. That's all I can offer.
What do you guys think? More of Ellen, next chapter!