I Can't Go Into A Woodshop
To some, a woodshop was a paradise for those who could craft some beautiful works of wooden art.
To others, a woodshop was just an average storehouse to store wood and build furniture and other things.
To some others, a woodshop was a dangerous place filled with machines capable of taking off someone's limbs and claiming the person's life.
To Leviathan, a woodshop was a dream come true that fit into the first category of what a woodshop was.
To Ange and the other Stakes, minus Belphegor, a woodshop was just an everyday shed that fit into the second category of what a woodshop was.
To Belphegor, a woodshop was a terrifying nightmare that fit into the third category of what a woodshop was.
Why someone would want to enter a truly foreboding place of no return was beyond her. She didn't understand why a person would want to use those dangerous objects when they could potentially kill someone.
It just didn't make sense. Those tools in the woodshop out in Ange's backyard weren't meant to cut wood into pieces or stick them back together—they were weapons meant to be used for killing people! They were like those tools found in torture chambers, the ones that make the poor, helpless prisoner bleed to death!
So why would Leviathan, her older sister of all people, want to do woodworking?!
It just didn't add up.
Leviathan was, as her sisters all knew, slightly clumsy, so making a simple mistake in the woodshop might cost her an arm, or a leg, or maybe even her life!
It wasn't like Belphegor thought her older sister was incompetent at anything—calling a draw when she went up against Kyrie back when she served Beatrice with EvaBeatrice as their current master at the time was a smart move—but her concern for Leviathan wasn't aroused by doubting her and what she could do. Rather, she was worried that something might happen to her and was scared the Stake of Envy might actually die in there.
But Belphegor knew she was being ridiculous…well, partly ridiculous.
Her master, Ange, was the Witch of Resurrection, so she could revive Leviathan if she did get killed by the machines and tools in the woodshop.
But what if she couldn't? What if Leviathan really did die and couldn't be brought back to life?
It was those kinds of doubts which made Belphegor so concerned that she dreaded the thought of her older sister going up to the woodshop out back, entering it, crossing over its threshold, and risk her life making things out of wood.
Despite representing Sloth, one of the seven deadly sins of Christianity, Belphegor literally prayed to that religion's God, and the benevolent gods and goddesses of all the other religions, including ones she didn't know, to keep her older sister safe and sound while she was working in there. It was ironic that she, gaining power from one of those sins, would pray to deities dedicated to helping people to watch over her older sister.
Of course, a more logical explanation was that Leviathan was just nothing short of amazing when it came to woodworking. She always knew what to do, how the tools and machines worked and when to use them, and which pieces of wood were good for cutting. Each time she went inside, she would create something or work on a project she already started, and when she came out she'd always keep everyone updated on her progress.
Every time she left the woodshop in one piece, Belphegor felt relieved, happy that her older sister was safe and sound. But every time she went back in, Belphegor felt her heart sink even deeper than before.
Sometimes she thought that Leviathan was only doing that just to make her worry and to scare her, not caring about her feelings at all. It wouldn't be the first time that happened if it were true; her sisters all teased her from time to time and slightly enjoyed giving her a small scare as a harmless joke.
But what Leviathan was doing was more than a harmless joke. She was practically throwing her life away by setting foot into that woodshop! Was she trying to give her younger sister a heart attack or something?!
Belphegor half wanted to yell at her older sister for doing something so frightening and beg her to stop by pleading with her to give up woodworking and find something safer to do, something that wouldn't kill her—she'd even go as far as going down on her hands and knees and constantly beg her with a large barrage or pleases if it came to that.
She really would do anything for her sisters, so if she had to make them give up something dangerous, so be it; their safety was far more important to Belphegor.
But she knew she could never do that; after all, she was proper Furniture. Besides, she was sure Leviathan would ignore her pleas and scold her for attempting to make her give up the one thing which made her better than her sisters.
Even now as she stood directly in front of the woodshop's door, leading into what could've been a place as equally terrible as Hell—if not much worse than that—Belphegor could only shudder while swallowing a lump in her throat.
It was nearly time for dinner, so her older sister, Lucifer, asked her to go tell Leviathan that the food was almost ready. Because she always found it rude to say no, Belphegor did as she was asked to and went out into the backyard, all the while wishing she could've just found something else to do so that she could be busy—looking busy was just a terrible lie, and Belphegor always felt ashamed whenever she tried to lie, which was why she always ended up telling the truth—but that was impossible since there wasn't anything for her to do.
Oh why did she have to be the one to do this? Why couldn't she hand this tiny little chore off to someone else?
She couldn't ask Ange or one of her other sisters to go with her because they were busy doing other things. Sure, some of them weren't really busy since they were relaxing instead, but Belphegor didn't want to bother them. Besides, due to her shyness and her timid nature, she was way too scared to ask anyone—even Ange and her sisters—for help, so the job of going to the woodshop and telling Leviathan that dinner was just about ready fell to her and her alone.
If she hadn't been in the kitchen while the food and drinks were being prepared, maybe she wouldn't have been asked to do this in the first place. Of course, because she was so terrified of eating or drinking anything that could've been poisonous or spiked, she had to always stay in the kitchen and watch the food be prepared so she would know that it wasn't dangerous to her health—and Ange's health and the health of her sisters, though they all knew the food was safe to eat.
It was sort of an eating disorder for her, one of the many anxieties she possessed. The only people who knew of it were Ange, her sisters, and Ronove. She was grateful they all let her stay in the kitchen and watch the food be prepared, but it just made her feel terrible that she had to be given special treatment because of her anxieties. She wanted to be useful to others; not drag them down and be a burden to them by needing special attention. It just made her feel so uncomfortable and scared that she needed to be treated gently because of how fragile she was, which was why she sometimes wished she was just a normal girl.
Belphegor shook her head and took a deep breath to clear her mind. Ange and her sisters always told her to stop worrying about those kinds of things, but she couldn't help it. Thinking about it made her feel nervous and sick, but not thinking about it frightened her while making her feel really nauseas. For now, she tried to keep her mind on what she had come here to do.
She was supposed to go in and tell Leviathan about dinner, so she might as well just open the door and go on in.
But maybe she should've knocked first and then went in; or knock first, wait for an answer from Leviathan, and then open the door; or open the door, knock to get her older sister's attention, and finally say her piece.
Belphegor shook her head once more. She was over-thinking things again, a habit she had great difficulty trying to get rid of because of her shyness, her timidity, and the anxiety she always felt deep in the pit of her stomach. If she suddenly became nauseas she might feel too sick to eat—if that happened, Beelzebub could have her dinner if she was still hungry after devouring her own food.
In any case, she finally made her decision and, with much hesitation, stepped up to the woodshop door and balled her hand into a fist. Raising her already trembling arm up, she lightly knocked on the door…
And found that her decision seemed to have already been made for her, as the door had been slightly ajar, softly creaking on its hinges as the wind then blew it open. Although it was somewhat creepy, the sound was still a significant improvement—the last door was made of metal and creaked loudly because it was so rusted, but Leviathan had gone to the hardware store to order a wooden door for it the last time they were all out in the city. It was a little odd how the door was made of wood, but the Stake of Envy said that it was all part of the woodshop's charm, so she wanted to make the building as wooded as possible.
Yet despite having already gone over how she'd tell Leviathan that dinner was nearly ready for the hundredth time in just five minutes, Belphegor was totally unprepared for the onslaught of sound coming from within the woodshop. It was so loud that she could still hear it even when she had covered her ears.
Squealing in pain since her ears were now hurting so bad she might go deaf, Belphegor closed her eyes and tried to shut the door. Unfortunately she missed the doorknob and stumbled inside, nearly falling after losing her balance. Luckily she managed to regain her balance just in time for her to narrowly escape being hit on the head by a piece of wood.
Her eyes now wide open, Belphegor turned her head to see Leviathan standing by some strange machine that had a sort of lever attached to it with a circular thing on the end.
A radio was playing music on a shelf on the opposite side of the room, just behind the direction the Stake of Envy was facing. Belphegor couldn't tell if it was rock or metal—it certainly sounded like one of the two since it wasn't at all like those pop songs Ange and Asmodeus liked so much—and from the sound of it, it must have been an English song, one Leviathan was singing along to since she knew the words.
"Leviathan!" She called out, but to no avail. "Leviathan, p-please t-turn th-that down!"
Belphegor rarely raised her voice whether she was in public or by herself, so when she actually did speak up nobody listened to her. Usually it was because she was very quiet due to her shyness and timidity, plus she talked really fast just to try getting her point across, which was very difficult to do considering how nobody understood a word she said since her rabid-fire speech caused her to stutter her words so they came out unclearly. She had tried to make excuses for that and her silence, but they never worked anyway; coming from a girl who was way too terrified to open up to others, those excuses meant nothing. They were lies too, only now she actually had a good reason to explain why her older sister couldn't hear her.
Belphegor hadn't known that Leviathan was always playing music while she was cutting up the wood with those scary machines; though if she were to tell Ange or one of her sisters why she couldn't tell the Stake of Envy about dinner, she felt they'd believe her since they seemed to know all about it. That belief didn't stem from some wild guess she'd take a shot at just to save herself from being pressured by the others when they asked her why Leviathan wasn't coming to dinner or where she was. Belphegor had observed them going out to the woodshop on a number of occasions, so it was only natural they'd know Leviathan had music on.
Knowing that the only way to get Leviathan to hear her was to turn down the music—or better yet, shut off the radio—Belphegor walked over to the shelf where the radio was and looked at it. The thing was a rather strange piece of technology she never laid eyes upon, so her efforts at turning the blasted thing down or off would've been in vain. There were two circular knobs on the front, along with a small switch with a label underneath that had the word 'power' on it.
Now Belphegor was aware that the word 'power' had something to do with getting stronger, but she had no idea that objects would turn off or on when the word applied to a switch or a button. She was smart enough to know that a lever went back forth, but she didn't know the mechanics that made it move in those directions. Technology was always a difficult subject she couldn't wrap her head around, as proven by her getting confused over how the TV remote functioned.
Furthermore, she was still largely illiterate, but she had made a tiny fraction of progress in her lessons. So far Ange managed to get past an eighth of the words that began with the first letter of the Japanese alphabet while she was teaching Belphegor how to read, but the Stake of Sloth still had a long ways to go before she reached the section of the dictionary where the word 'power' was located. Then she'd be able to figure out that 'power' also meant to turn electronic devices on and off.
Bringing her hand up to the knob on the left, she turned it to the right and then yanked her hand away, covering her ears and squealing again as what she had done just made the radio louder. Opening her eyes slightly, Belphegor tried the other knob, hoping that it would shut off the radio. When nothing happened, the switch was her last resort. If that didn't work she'd have to either go back and tell Ange or one of her sisters that she couldn't turn the radio off so she could let Leviathan know about dinner.
Of course, both options had their drawbacks, leaving her between a rock and a tight place. For one thing, if she were to just leave the woodshop and let Ange or one of her other sisters talk to Leviathan, they'd be disappointed in her for not being able to do so much as a simple task and for complaining about how difficult it was. On the other hand, Belphegor was just way too frightened to step up to her older sister, especially in this sort of scenario. Leviathan was standing next to a machine that could've practically killed her—when applying that simple logic to the situation, Belphegor believed it wasn't smart to use something so dangerous, but suicidal.
She could have pulled her older sister away from it to save her life, but she'd be risking her own life too. Plus Leviathan would probably get mad at her for taking her away from a project she was working on. Ange and her other sisters would probably also get mad at her for doing something completely stupid—it did sound stupid, considering that this was the first time Belphegor ever approached the woodshop and entered it. Leviathan was almost always in the woodshop, meaning that the Stake of Envy had experience dealing with the tools and machines, whereas the Stake of Sloth had no experience whatsoever.
Oh decisions, decisions, and their unfortunate results.
Belphegor truly was the most unluckiest person in the world, and quite possibly the most awkward girl ever.
In any case, the switch was the only thing left she hadn't tried yet. However, just as she was about to press it, Belphegor suddenly screamed in terror when she heard a sound louder than the music. She couldn't tell what it was since she closed her eyes, but she definitely knew it came from behind her, yet she didn't have the courage to see what it was. Besides, whatever the thing was, it frightened her so badly that she literally jumped so high that she could cling to one of the blades connected to the ceiling fan—in fact, she certainly was clinging to it at this moment, trembling uncontrollably as her teeth chattered, her eyes completely wide with fright while she turned from entirely pale to totally ashen. Her heartbeat spiked in her chest while her breathing became rather jagged, coming out in short, sharp bursts.
It would've been humiliating for her if she was seen by her sisters. They'd certainly laugh at her when they saw how she had both her arms and legs wrapped around the blade of the fan's propeller. Though, technically Leviathan would've been the first to spot her, and then she'd relate Belphegor's hilarious predicament to the others.
Luckily the fan hadn't been turned on because it was slightly chilly outside. Leviathan hadn't opened the windows just yet since she wanted to keep the woodshop nice and toasty, making sure that the temperature was just right so it was warm inside. However, she would open them and turn the fan on as soon as she was finished with her latest project for the day, so Belphegor only had a limited amount of time left until she had to get down. Of course, it was common sense that she let go of the blade she held onto before then, otherwise she'd get dizzy and maybe a little nauseous from the spinning propeller. If she threw up while hanging from the fan, she didn't think Leviathan would be too happy with her for throwing up all over the woodshop—and if any of her vomit got on her older sister, the Stake of Envy would probably be really pissed.
Tremulously turning her head back to look behind her, Belphegor could see that Leviathan had her back to her, obviously busy cutting a wooden plank with some strange machine that had a saw attached to it. The machine was currently making a very scary sound as Leviathan pulled a handle she was grasping closer to her, freaking her poor, little sister out when she noticed the saw moving towards her older sister as well. If Belphegor hadn't been totally terrified right about now, and also if she was a lot braver than she normally was, she'd rescue her older sister from that horrifying contraption. Unfortunately she wasn't some heroic savior wanting to protect everyone she cherished from the cold clutches of death, so all poor Belphegor could do was shut her eyes as tight as she could and turn her head away, expecting Leviathan's suicide any moment now.
"There, that looks nice and straight. Shade of it doesn't seem to match with the other pieces, but it might do."
And so, after the saw had quieted down once the handle was brought up, it turned out that Leviathan had not accidently killed herself, but was perfectly fine—if covered in some sawdust from the plank she cut.
Belphegor wasn't aware of this, though; she could still hear the saw ringing in her ears even though it had already ceased making that dreadful screech. She was also imagining that she'd find her older sister's blood all over the woodshop while her corpse was stuck to the saw, so the Stake of Sloth didn't dare to open her eyes, lest she find her suspicions to be true. She couldn't even hear the trapdoor down to the woodshop's storage room open up when the Stake of Envy pulled the doors towards her and climb down the ladder with the plank in hand. Of course, the radio was still blaring that god-awful music, so even if Belphegor could hear over it, she'd still be totally unaware that Leviathan went below to store the plank with the rest of the wood—
"Belphegor! Belphegor, can you hear me?!"
—and that Ange was now shouting above the music in an attempt to get her attention; though Belphegor never saw her master enter because her eyes were still shut tight due to how terrified she was of looking upon her older sister's bloody corpse.
"Ah, god dammit! I've told Leviathan to keep the volume down on this damn thing, yet she just has to always have it on full blast!"
Sauntering over to the radio while covering her ears, Ange lowered the volume—by turning the first knob Belphegor had tried just minutes before to the left—and then turned around to look up at the timid Stake above her.
"Belphegor!" she yelled again and then raised her voice when the Stake of Sloth still couldn't hear her, "Belphegor!"
Frightened, Belphegor squeaked, her eyes finally jolting open as she was forced to look down at Ange. "U-Um," she stuttered timidly, feeling really nervous and apprehensive over the witch's sudden appearance in the woodshop, "y-yes, M-Milady—I-I, u-uh, I-I mean M-Miss Ange? I-Is th-there, u-uh, s-something I-I may h-help you with?"
"Well, for starters, you could tell me what you're doing up there." Ange replied, making Belphegor blush in embarrassment when she realized that she was still clinging to the fan's propeller blade. "Oh, never mind. Just get down from there while I go find Leviathan."
"U-Um, I-I realize th-that I-I sh-shouldn't be asking th-this, b-but…" Belphegor started to speak, but then stopped in hesitation, fearful that she was going to be ridiculed for being unable to follow simple instructions.
"But what, Belphegor?" Ange then asked, keen on hearing what Belphegor had to say. "If you don't speak up, then how will I know what it is you're trying to say?"
Belphegor winced slightly, knowing that Ange was right, if she was a tad harsh in getting the point across. Still trembling uncontrollably, she swallowed a lump in her throat before she worked up the tiny bit of courage needed to ask her question. "U-Um, how d-do I-I, u-uh…u-um, get down?"
"I should think that's obvious." Ange stated, crossing her arms. "Just hover down. You've done it before, so it should be simple now."
Belphegor swallowed another lump in her throat and nodded. "Y-yes, b-but…"
Looking down at the floor below, she felt her stomach tie into a knot, making her feel really nauseas even though the floor was just about seven feet down. Her breath got caught in her throat as she began to get dizzy from being on a high place, despite the fact that she could just hover down like Ange had said. Unfortunately, Belphegor wasn't the kind of girl who believed something as small as this could be easily overcome if her will was strong enough.
Now she knew what it felt like when stuntmen or survivors in the middle of nowhere crossed over unstable lengths of rope by wrapping their arms and legs around it—only in her case she was above what she was clinging to, rather than underneath it.
Seeing Belphegor's obvious hesitation, Ange brought her hand up to her forehead and sighed. "Alright, Belphegor" she said as she moved beneath the propeller blade the Stake of Sloth clung to and held her arms out, "drop down."
Belphegor's eyes widened as her gaze zipped back to her master. "Wh-Wha—"
"You heard me." Ange stated while staring back up at the timid Stake above her. "Drop down."
Believing that she was going to be scolded for trying to disobey a direct order, Belphegor swallowed yet another lump in her throat, her face turning red from embarrassment. "W-Well, u-um, o-okay…" she stuttered, taking one last look at the floor before giving it a shot.
Untangling her legs first, she brought them on top of the fan before slowly bringing them closer to her chest as best she could. Then, once she finished swallowing the fourth lump that had gotten caught in her throat, she took a deep breath and slowly, ever so slowly, released the blade from the grip of her right hand. Just when Belphegor thought she was in luck her hand slipped off the propeller, causing her to lose her balance because she had accidently lurched forward when she tried to grab the blade again.
She shrieked fearfully as she fell, closing her eyes while she braced herself for the impact when she painfully made contact with the floor.
But that injury never came. Belphegor didn't feel any pain at all. She could feel something against her back and the back of the bottom of her knees, but it wasn't the warm concrete floor she expected to hit.
Cracking her eyes open slightly, she looked over to the other side of the woodshop, slowly feeling relieved that she had managed to escape from harm intact.
However, there was one thing that confused her. If she was looking at the door sideways like this, what was under her exactly?
"See, Belphegor? That wasn't so bad, was it?"
Quickly turning her head the other way, Belphegor's eyes jolted all the way open when she saw Ange and realized that her master was holding her the same way a groom held his bride. It was especially all the more embarrassing for the poor Stake when she noticed that her arms were wrapped around Ange's neck.
Ange was about to ask her why she looked so startled, but she never got the chance to since Belphegor suddenly shrieked again and immediately jumped out of her arms. The Stake of Sloth stumbled forward once her feet touched the floor and she ended up tripping over them, nearly falling into a small pile of the sawdust that covered the floor when she landed flat on her face.
"Jeez, Belphegor," Ange said as she stepped towards her friend and knelt down to help her up, "what's gotten into you? Are you alright?"
Belphegor squeaked in fear in response to her master's questions as soon as Ange touched her, immediately jumping to her feet and backing up into the table behind her. In her despair she accidently knocked over several paint cans and small tools and fumbled to catch them before they hit the floor, yet her efforts were completely unsuccessful.
"Belphegor!" Ange said as she tried to keep the flustered Stake still for a few moments. "Belphegor, calm down! What's the matter with you?!"
Now standing up straight thanks to Ange holding her in place, Belphegor tipped her head down so her master wouldn't see how flustered she was. When the witch placed her hand underneath her chin the poor Stake tried her best to fight against Ange's grasp, but it was no use. Ange got the upper hand, and now she could very well see that Belphegor's whole face was even redder than a tomato.
"What's wrong with you?" she asked, "Why are you getting so tense right now? And why is your face all red like that?"
Belphegor tried to answer, but all she could do was babble like a complete idiot as she started hyperventilating and trembling uncontrollably. She tried to control herself, but her attempts ended in failure because she already started having another one of her panic attacks like she usually did.
Ange became concerned and immediately looked all around the woodshop for a paper bag Belphegor could breathe into, rushing over to a shelf near the door when she found what she had been looking for and returning to the Stake's side so she didn't fall over again.
"Here, breathe into this." She spoke softly while holding the bag out to Belphegor. Unfortunately the poor Stake couldn't hear her very well or even take the bag due to how bad this panic attack was, so Ange had to hold the bag over her mouth for her. Belphegor clutched at her chest as she breathed, her eyes wide with fright as she turned even paler than she usually was.
Eventually she managed to calm down a couple minutes later, if only a little, but she felt much better than when she was having a serious panic attack.
Ange moved closer to her and rubbed her back soothingly to provide some comfort for her friend. "Do you feel a little better now?" she asked once Belphegor's breathing had relaxed and she had stopped trembling slightly.
After she slowly nodded in response, Belphegor turned her head slightly to look at Ange, then tipped her head down in shame. She didn't have the courage to look her master in the eye and tell her how she felt when she was in Ange's arms, being held like a bride. Still, the witch expected an explanation from her in regards to how she reacted afterwards, so Belphegor swallowed another lump in her throat as she started trembling again.
"U-Um, M-Miss A-Ange…" she stuttered, her voice so soft that she was whispering, "I-I, u-uh, u-um…I-I, u-um…" She tried to find the words needed to express herself, but they weren't there—not that she was looking hard enough. No matter how hard she tried to explain herself, Belphegor was still the shy, timid girl who could never speak her own mind or confide in someone else.
It was a shame, really.
Belphegor never felt close to anybody, so it was extremely difficult for her to open up to others when it came to talking about herself. Socializing with others was not something she felt confident enough to do, which was why she preferred to be alone all by herself.
But that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. At least she didn't have to do anything in a group or converse with others all the time. She was usually left alone to do things at her own pace, so nobody bothered her while she was in the middle of something. Belphegor was grateful for that, as it meant she wouldn't have problems related to herself; although, there were times when she couldn't do something on her own. When faced with one such task, she either had to choose between failure or get help from someone. Unfortunately, because of her shyness and timidity, Belphegor always chose to fail over the option of working together with someone, which meant that she was always the one who got in trouble for refusing help to get something difficult done and for doing a terrible job in the first place.
Noticing that Belphegor was blushing, Ange opened her mouth to say something, but hesitated when she saw the poor girl start to cry a little. Watching the Stake's whimpering form begin to tremble again, she realized that now wasn't a good time to inquire about her reaction just now. Belphegor obviously needed time to rest so she could recover from her panic attack, so Ange would give her a few days before privately bringing up the matter again so long as the Stake was comfortable talking about it.
Maybe she could let Belphegor eat in her room rather than force her to eat in the dining room with all her sisters.
Ange wanted Belphegor to feel comfortable so she wouldn't have to go through another panic attack like the one she just had. To try and cheer her friend up, she smiled warmly and placed her hand on the Stake's shoulder, gently lifting her head up again to make eye contact with her. "It's okay, Belphegor," she said in a soft tone of voice, "you don't have to tell me what's wrong right now. You can talk to me whenever you feel you're ready, okay?"
Although she sort of half expected Ange to say something like that, it still came as a shock to Belphegor that her master was showing concern for her. Despite having already been familiar with the witch showing her kindness, the Stake of Sloth still couldn't get used to such feelings shown towards her.
Seeing how Belphegor was still very uncomfortable, Ange stepped in front of her and wrapped her arms around the Stake's waist to draw her close. Surprised at how Ange was holding her, Belphegor brought her arms close to her chest. Feeling like she had been caught off guard, she tried to regain her composure in front of her master, but wasn't having much success. She was really anxious and her nerves were now frayed, yet Ange's warm smile and the feeling of her arms around her waist were able to calm her down somewhat.
Thinking that she should've returned the favor—unsure of whether that was the best analogy to use—Belphegor wrapped her own arms around Ange's waist and blushed in embarrassment. "O-Oh, u-um, u-uh…u-um, o-okay, I-I, u-uh, guess?" She whispered softly, stuttering her words as she tipped her head down but looked up at Ange from underneath her bangs.
Ange merely closed her eyes and giggled, glad to have offered the flustered Stake some comfort. Opening her eyes, her smile disappeared when she noticed Belphegor's blush turn redder. If she made her feel even more uncomfortable, the poor girl might have another panic attack. Not wanting that to happen, Ange's smile returned as her eyelids lowered partially. "Don't worry, Belphegor," she said softly, "you don't have to feel embarrassed around me. I'm your friend; I'd do anything to help you, and I'm sorry for laughing."
"O-Okay, u-um, Miss Ange. A-As you, u-uh, wish." Belphegor said, unwrapping her arms and gently pulling them back to her chest. "U-Um, th-thank y-you…?"
"You're quite welcome." Ange said as she released the Stake of Sloth from her grasp and headed over to the ladder to descend it. "Just stay up here until I come back with Leviathan. Then I'll bring you both back and make some dinner for you both." She said as she climbed down into the woodshop's storage room to find the Stake of Envy, leaving Belphegor alone with all the scary tools and machinery.
The timid Stake would've requested to go with her, but as she and Ange had been the only two people up top while her older sister was down in the storage room, she had to follow her master's orders straight to the letter. If one of her other sisters had been here, then it might've been okay for her to accompany Ange down the ladder.
Although Belphegor was seriously worried that Ange might not come back, she could discern her master's voice coming from somewhere beneath the floorboards under her feet. It didn't sound like she was in any danger whatsoever, and she also heard Leviathan's voice too, so she guessed Ange and her older sister really were okay.
To try and take her mind off of such disturbing thoughts, Belphegor looked around the room she was in and eyed the various tools hanging on a nearby wall. Everything there had been neatly organized, from the hammers that hung down by the table beneath them, to the screwdrivers near the machine Leviathan had been using.
On the other side of the woodshop, to her right, Belphegor gazed upon boxes of gloves and another box filled with masks meant to cover a person's mouth to prevent any particle-like material floating around in the air from being inhaled. There were other boxes on the shelves by the ones with gloves and masks, but the shy Stake was too nervous to approach them and take a peek.
Over by the trapdoor was a cabinet stuffed with various paint cans of all sizes and colors that Belphegor refused to go near, out of fear that the cabinet might suddenly fall on top of her, crushing her beneath its sheer weight while the paint spilled on top of her—if she was truly unlucky, the paint might just drown her.
In the end gazing over everything in the woodshop was a bad idea and Belphegor only made herself feel even more uncomfortable than when she was with Ange just a few minutes ago.
The tools, the machines, everything was a potential weapon that could cause some fatal injuries, or even kill a person. They might even turn on their wielder if handled improperly.
Feeling slightly dizzy and a little lightheaded at the thought of waiting in here any longer, Belphegor unconsciously took several steps backwards as she tried to collect her bearings.
What was taking Ange so long? Shouldn't she and Leviathan have come up by now?
By now Belphegor could no longer hear her master and her older sister talking because her ears were ringing from all the horrible sounds she imagined these tools and machines making. Her sight was also becoming incredibly blurred and cloudy due to fear overtaking her like a tidal wave swallowing up a surfer. As her breathing and her heartbeat started to speed up rapidly, her complexion turned very pale once again.
It was too much to take in all at once. The tension was getting higher and more dangerous as it took its toll on poor Belphegor's sanity. If she was in here any longer, she might just lose her mind and have another panic attack—one she feared she might not ever be able to recover from. In fact, she was probably having one right now without realizing it!
She simply had to get out of there!
There was just one problem: she couldn't see the door anymore!
How could she escape when she couldn't see the door?!
Oh, if only Ange hadn't told her to wait for her and Leviathan!
Belphegor should've been back inside her master's manor by now!
Why were Ange and Leviathan wasting so much time down there?! What the hell were they doing?!
It was too much. Too much!
Suddenly, unaware of what was behind her, Belphegor stumbled again and tripped over her own two feet a second time. Quickly whirling around, her eyes grew wide with fright when they fell upon the machine she saw Leviathan at—and she became even more terrified when she realized that she was going to fall against it.
Instinctively she threw her arms out to grab at the table so she could steady herself, but her hands accidently shot past the sharp saw blade sticking out of the machine and gripped the cylindrical piece past it. Her left sleeve got caught on the edge of the blade and ripped, allowing for the blade's hot steel to rub up against her skin. Belphegor shrieked in pain and fear as she tried to yank her arms away, but unfortunately her sleeve was now stuck between the guard and the blade.
If she waited for Ange and Leviathan to come back up, they could've freed her from the horrifying machine; however, Belphegor was already in a state of panic, so even if they had climbed up the ladder now, it would've been too late to prevent what was going to happen.
In her mind, Belphegor desperately prayed for all of this to end and attempted to do something about it, but there was nothing she could do as she had been thrown off balance when she stumbled and tripped.
She was left helpless, her fright increasing drastically as her body fell against the handle of the saw and pushed it down…
She couldn't tell what was drowned out over what: the saw over her screams or her screams over the saw.
It didn't matter since Belphegor finally managed to free herself from the dangerous machine and stumbled backwards into the counter behind her. Slumping to the floor, she raised her arm up to stare in shock at the price she had to pay for her freedom. Unfortunately for her, most things that had to be purchased in a store did have a small tax on them, and this item certainly did come with its own tax.
Her red jacket and white shirt had now been torn, with the pieces that were ripped off still jammed into the saw. When her body had fallen against the machine, the handle was pushed so far down that it was now stuck in place with the blade still spinning—or trying to spin, anyway.
Then, as if the machine was punishing the poor Stake for breaking it, even though she didn't mean to, the blade suddenly sparked and shot right out from the guard at a terrifying speed…
…and embedded itself directly into counter the traumatized Stake was slumped against, just a fourth of a centimeter away from her head.
Slowly, ever so slowly, Belphegor turned her head slightly to stare at the deadly weapon, being careful so as not to cut herself—or worse…kill herself—on the razor sharp edge of the saw's blade. Horrified, her complexion went from pale to ashen in a split second as she began to tremble uncontrollably. The pupils in her eyes dilated while they grew wide, and her breathe got caught in her throat as her heart skipped several beats.
Then she started to cry.
"What is going on up here?!" Ange exclaimed as she came up the ladder, now finished with helping Leviathan perform a quick reorganization and inventory of all the wood down in the storage room. "Belphegor what's—oh, my god! Belphegor!"
As soon as her eyes fell upon the Stake of Sloth's quivering, bloody form, Ange got really scared and ran over to see if her friend was okay.
"Belphegor! Belphegor, are you alright?!" She tried to inquire, but couldn't get a word out of the poor, traumatized girl. Noticing that Belphegor was holding her arm, Ange quickly took it in her grasp and tried to examine the Stake's arm. Squealing in pain and fright, the Stake of Sloth yanked her arm back and shoved her master away before falling on her side, wailing loudly like a child having lost a favorite toy or had gotten hurt—in Belphegor's case, it was the latter.
If Belphegor thought clutching at her arm was going to make it feel better, or have it heal so she wouldn't be in pain anymore, she was wrong. Her wound hurt like hell, and the pressure she was applying only made it worse. If she tightened her grip to the point where it was bone-breaking, she might just snap her arm in two; thus making the pain even more unbearable.
"Belphegor, calm down!" Ange shouted above the Stake's cries, attempting to settle her down long enough so she could get a look at the injury Belphegor sustained. "Everything's going to be fine! You're okay; you'll be fine!"
Having already wrapped one arm around her friend's waist after approaching her again, Ange desperately tried to pry the Stake's hand off her arm. Despite Belphegor's attempts to fight back, the witch eventually succeeded and gasped when she saw how deep the wound on her arm was.
"Oh, my god, Belphegor! Oh, my god, no!" Horrified, Ange looked around for something she could use to wrap around the gash formed by the saw, but it wasn't really any good as there wasn't much of anything that could be used, aside from some dirty rags littering one of the shelves. It seemed that those rags would have to be substituted in for towels anyway since they were the only things that actually might stop the bleeding.
"Hold on, Belphegor! Just wait right here! I'll be right back, I promise!" Ange yelled out as she immediately jumped to her feet and ran over to the shelf, frantically searching for a rag that was long enough to wrap around Belphegor's arm.
"Hey, Ange, what's happening up—oh…oh no…no, no, no, no, no!"
It was at that moment Leviathan ascended the ladder and popped her head through the opening of the trapdoor, and once her eyes fell upon the now broken saw she had just been using, she freaked out big time.
"No, no, no, no, no, no! Oh, this can't be happening! This is impossible! How could it break?! I was just using it! Oh, this is a total disaster!"
If she was going to go completely insane, now would've been the time—though it was only going to get worse from here.
As Leviathan's breathing grew heavier and more rabid, she immediately examined the whole machine to try and figure out what the problem was. Quickly grabbing a flathead screwdriver that had been lying next to the saw, the Stake of Envy became frantic while she unscrewed the screws holding the guard to the saw. Her panic only increased with each screw that fell from the sockets and dropped on the table.
Finally, once the last screw was out, allowing for her to pull the guard off the handle and pull both sides apart, Leviathan discovered the thing that had destroyed her precious saw…
…and she flipped.
There, stuck to the guard…were the shredded scraps of a red jacket and a white shirt.
There were only six suspects she could name who wore red jackets and white shirts, and all of them were her sisters. It could've been any one of them, or it could've been more than one of them—hell, they all could've been involved in the destruction of her saw.
Leviathan was way too furious to even entertain the thought that it might've been an accident. She was so pissed that something she could finally do, something that she alone among the Stakes of Purgatory could do, something that her sisters couldn't do, was taken away from her. It was like she had lost her most cherished treasure, never to see it again.
And it was all because one or more of her sisters—her damned sisters—weren't happy with the fact that she finally had something she could do, but they couldn't!
Did they not realize how much woodworking meant to her?! Were they even aware of how much money it was going to cost just to have the saw repaired?! Had the notion gone through their thick skulls that a brand new saw might've cost more than it would probably take to get it fixed?!
Leviathan swore that when she laid her hands on whichever one of her sisters was responsible for the destruction of her saw, she was going to hurt them…badly.
If they ended up dead at her hands, that was fine too.
Nothing else mattered to her anymore.
All she cared about was the saw she had used countless times to cut wood for all the projects she worked on.
Without that saw she wouldn't be able to cut wood for another project until it was repaired or until a new one was purchased. It was probably going to be a while before she could tackle a new project, or at least finish one she had already started.
When she had seen the decrepit condition of her saw, Leviathan had initially blocked out everything she could see and hear, save for the sight of what had been her favorite machine in the woodshop. Now that her fury was its peak and boiling over at a frightening pace, she finally paid attention to the blood all over the saw.
Slowly turning around, her left eye twitching angrily while she trembled uncontrollably—out of wrath, rather than fear; something that was expected from Satan—Leviathan looked down at the blood trail on the floor. Following it, she gradually lifted her head up…
…to see Belphegor, slumping against the counter, wailing like a little baby while holding her blood-soaked arm.
If the situation had been different, the Stake of Envy would've been concerned for her little sister, offering whatever help, support, and comfort was needed to make the Stake of Sloth feel better.
But Leviathan was in no mood for that. The evidence proving Belphegor as the culprit was too obvious for her to care.
The trail of blood…
The deep gash on Belphegor's arm…
The shredded red jacket and ripped white shirt…
The saw, which was now embedded in the counter by Belphegor…
All of that painted Belphegor as the perpetrator, the sole person responsible for destroying a valuable, expensive piece of equipment. If her other sisters had been involved, Leviathan would find out which of them had participated in this little plot against her by beating the answers out of her wounded little sister.
Now she had found the one directly responsible for breaking the saw…
…and it was time to make her pay.
Belphegor had no idea what was in store for her. She was way too preoccupied with her injury to pay any attention to what was going on around her, let alone think straight—of course, she was about to learn that she wasn't the only one not thinking straight. All the poor girl could do was wail in pain, her tears blurring her eyes so badly she couldn't even see, while her heart pounded rabidly against her ribcage within her chest. The pain was far too intense for her to handle, so she believed that she was going to die of blood loss sometime soon.
However, it appeared that the cold, bony fingers of Death were knocking a lot earlier than expected.
Belphegor's eyes jolted open in shock as she got startled by a voice louder than her own. Whirling her head in the direction the voice came from, she saw Leviathan slowly approaching her…and her older sister looked absolutely pissed.
"WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO, BELPHEGOR?!" The Stake of Envy shouted in rage as she gradually got closer to her little sister. "DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT THE HELL YOU JUST DID?!"
Terrified, Belphegor screamed as she kept wailing and tried to escape from her sister's wrath, but it was too late. Leviathan quickly caught up to her and hoisted her bloody form up onto the counter before seizing her little sister's neck so she could throttle her.
"DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH THAT DAMN SAW COSTS?!" The enraged Stake yelled as she strangled the life out of Belphegor. "ARE YOU AWARE THAT YOU'VE JUST DESTROYED SOMETHING THAT I WAS ACTUALLY GOOD AT?! IT'S ALL BECAUSE OF YOU! YOU JUST HAD TO COME IN HERE AND BREAK SOMETHING THAT TRULY MATTERED TO ME, DIDN'T YOU?!"
Belphegor couldn't breathe. She felt her eyes roll up into their sockets as she struggled to loosen her older sister's grip, but it was no good. She was losing air, and fast, plus Leviathan was starting to crush her throat. If this went on any longer, Belphegor really was going to die.
Fortunately, Ange was there in the nick of time to pull the seething Stake off of her.
"Leviathan, let of her!" The witch shouted while grabbing the Stake of Envy from behind and yanking her away. "What did Belphegor do to deserve this?!"
"What did she do to deserve this?! WHAT DID SHE DO TO DESERVE THIS?!" Leviathan repeated Ange's question as she turned on her before pointing to the broken saw. "Just look at this, Ange! Look at it! Belphegor just destroyed an expensive piece of equipment I was using!"
"Belphegor's not the sort of person who would do something like that!" Ange countered in Belphegor's defense. "I'm sure it was just an accident! She didn't do it on purpose!"
"Look at the saw, Ange! Does this look like 'an accident' to you! I bet Belphegor did this because she was jealous of what I had, of what I could do!"
"Look who's calling the kettle black, Leviathan! You're the only one who usually complains about that! Besides, you could just send the saw to the repair shop to have it fixed!"
"But what if it can't be fixed?! Do you even know how much it'll cost just to purchase a new saw if the old one isn't repairable?! And even if it could be repaired, do you know how much it'll cost to get it fixed?!"
By now Ange had already lost her patience. Arguing with Leviathan wasn't doing any good, and Belphegor desperately needed medical attention. She had to get her to the hospital so that gash in her arm could be treated.
"Oh, will you just shut up, Leviathan?!" She shouted angrily. "If you're so concerned about the damn thing then do something about it! Killing Belphegor won't get you anywhere!"
"Well, at least it'll make me feel better!" Leviathan countered furiously, shaking so much from her anger that it felt like she was going to erupt and send the top of her head up in the air like in a cartoon. "And where the hell are you going with Belphegor, Ange?! I'm still not done with her yet!"
"To the hospital!" Ange replied rudely while she brought the Stake of Sloth out of the woodshop. "And if I were you, Leviathan, I'd be going to the repair shop right about now before the place closes for the day!"
As the two of them stepped outside away from Belphegor's seething sister, the door suddenly slammed shut behind them. The poor Stake was nearly thrown off balance because she had been startled, but Ange kept her steady as they rushed back to the manor. Inside the woodshop behind them, they both heard Leviathan scream in rage followed by things being thrown around, but the noise subsided the further away they got.
Coming up to the back porch, Belphegor watched as Ange threw the door open and brought her over to the bathroom nearby. Grabbing a towel out of the closet, the witch had the Stake sit down on the side of the tub while she wrapped the wound up in the towel.
"Good, that should stop the bleeding for now." Ange said as she went to the sink to wash the blood off her hands. "Just stay here and hold that towel there, Belphegor, while I get the hospital on the phone, okay? I'll be right back, so don't you worry."
"M-Miss A-Ange…" Belphegor called out weakly, already feeling dizzy from losing too much blood and from having her throat crushed by Leviathan's grip. She was still crying, but fortunately she stopped wailing after having calmed down a little—she couldn't wail anyway because her older sister throttled her so hard she most likely damaged Belphegor's throat and made it sore.
"Yes, Belphegor, what is it?" Her master asked in concern, coming over to kneel down in front of the Stake of Sloth and place her hands on her lap. "Does it hurt real badly?"
Belphegor nodded, even though the answer was very obvious. "U-Um, u-uh, M-Miss A-Ange…" She whispered softly, but made sure Ange could hear her. "I-I'm, u-um…s-s-sorry…"
Ange stared at Belphegor, worrying that Leviathan had made her little sister feel like it was her fault for what had happened. "Why are you apologizing?"
"D-Did I-I-I,u-uh…d-do s-something…w-wrong?" Belphegor asked timidly, unsure of what she had done, but believing that she was to blame for whatever it was.
"No…no of course not." Ange tried her best to reassure her friend. "Why do you feel you did something wrong? Is it because of what your sister said? If it is, then whatever happened back there wasn't your fault; I'm sure of it. It was an accident, right?"
Her voice was soft and gentle. Ange had to keep it like that so she could console Belphegor and help her feel better. She usually had to use that tone of voice when conversing with her because the shy, timid Stake was very apprehensive about conversing with others. Not only that, but she also had to choose her words carefully, lest she upset Belphegor even more by saying something to make her really uncomfortable, nervous, and scared.
Confused and pretty scared at the same time, Belphegor tipped her head down as she continued to tremble fearfully. "I-I-I…I-I d-don't know…I-I-I…" She was obviously traumatized after what had happened to her in the woodshop, and that just added onto her own fears and anxieties to make the situation worse for her. "I-I-I'm s-s-sorry…I-I-I'm s-so s-sorry…I-I…"
"It's okay, Belphegor, it's okay." Ange smiled sweetly as she moved her hand up and gently stroked Belphegor's face. "I'm sure you didn't do anything wrong and that you didn't mean to cause what had happened in the woodshop."
"O-Oh, o-okay…" Belphegor tipped her head down, blushing in embarrassment amidst her tear-soaked face.
She still sniffed and whimpered because of the pain she was feeling, but despite how hurt she was, the Stake of Sloth was surprisingly beginning to feel better.
For some odd, inexplicable reason, Belphegor actually loved it when Ange stroked her face. She felt very comfortable when she could feel her face being gently caressed by someone else since the gesture helped calm her down. However, it couldn't be just anyone; it had to be a specific person, and Belphegor believed she found that person.
The only person Belphegor wanted to stroke her face most of all…was Ange. She wanted Ange to be the only person who would stroke her face.
"Do you feel a little better now?" Ange asked as she pulled her hand away.
"A-A little, u-uh, u-um, y-yes…" Belphegor answered, making eye contact with Ange through her bangs. "U-Um, th-thank you M-Miss Ange."
"You're quite welcome, Belphegor." Ange said as she stood up. "Now I've got to go call the hospital and let your sisters know I'm bringing you there tonight, okay?"
"U-Um, u-uh, o-okay, I-I guess?" Belphegor replied, feeling very apprehensive about whether or not this 'hospital' thing seemed like a bright idea. "H-How long are we, u-um, going t-to be th-there?"
Ange glanced down at the towel wrapped around Belphegor's arm and frowned. "Hmmm…judging by how bad that gash on your arm is, I'd say you'd have to stay there for at least a few days or so."
Belphegor's face turned very pale. "S-So I-I h-have to s-stay th-there o-overnight?!"
"For a few nights at the very least, but don't worry." Ange smiled again as she attempted to reassure her friend. "I'll see if I can spend a few nights there with you so you don't have to be alone, alright?"
Belphegor hesitated to respond, but she eventually nodded. With Ange by her side while she was in the hospital, she wouldn't have to feel scared being all alone in such a strange place all by herself, surrounded by a bunch of strangers.
It was going to be fine, though. As long as Ange stayed with her, Belphegor felt she'd be okay in a place like that.
Maybe she could have Ange stroke her face for as long as she wanted her to do.
In any case, Ange had to make an appointment for Belphegor before they left, so she would have to wait a bit while her master was on the phone—hopefully they could leave before Leviathan attempted to slaughter her again.
"Okay," Ange said as she turned around and headed for the door, "I'll go call the hospital now and then we'll go, okay?"
"Y-Yes, o-okay." Belphegor spoke softly. "U-Um, th-thank you, M-Miss Ange…"
"You're very welcome, Belphegor." Ange said before walking out the door and disappearing into the hallway, popping her head back in the bathroom a moment later. "Oh, and I'll have your sisters come in and keep you company while I'm on the phone, alright?"
"A-Alright…" Belphegor shifted uneasily on the side of the tub. "Th-Thank you, M-M-Miss Ange…"
And with that, Ange went down the hall in search of the other Stakes and a phone.
Left all by herself in the bathroom, Belphegor looked down at the towel covering the gash on her arm and winced as she moved it a little. It really did hurt like Hell, but it wasn't all bad.
All she had to do was think of something else to take her mind off the pain.
Closing her eyes, Belphegor blushed and smiled happily as she imagined Ange stroking her face.
This took a long while to work on, but I'm glad I finished it in time so I could begin working on another Halloween special for Halloween.
Before I forget, I just want to point out that my plans for my fanfiction have changed temporarily because I'm working on an important project and a specific amount of it needs to be finished by a certain deadline. So until that's done, I'll be putting the Fire Emblem-Amnesia: Dark Descent crossover story and I Can't on hold. The only exception I'm making is the Halloween special because I've done two Halloween specials in the past and I'm not going to quit making them. Halloween is my favorite holiday and I want to pay tribute to it by writing a horror story for the holiday.
Of course, after I get done what I need to finish for the project, I have a Christmas special—the very first, and possibly the only, Christmas special from me—I started last year, but never got around to finishing, so I'd like to get that done too.
Disclaimer: I don't own Umineko; it's owned by 007thExpansion.