Previously on Ivan from Hell

Ivan

©Samuel Mogbolu


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Servitude

   “We stop here.” Said the one that struck him.

 The others glared into the horizon. All Ivan could see were the surrounding grey clouds that formed a blanket around them.

If he wasn’t the prisoner of four hideous fiends, if he wasn’t a hellion, doomed to roam the underworld for all time, then this moment would have felt different. Perhaps, even spectacular.

“Yes, others could chance on us. We cannot have that.” Said another goblin.

They descended immediately, leaving the clouds above. A thick red mist covered the ground. Ivan’s breathing was bated as the mist engulfed them.

What if it was poisonous? The goblin dropped him about a tree’s height above the floor, so that he crashed in a sodden heap, with all his bones sticking out at awkward angles.

His captors landed silently, warily looking around. They walked rather nimbly, considering their gaunt, stooping, frames.

“Get up, hellion.” One of them snapped.

Ivan pushed himself up. Click, krack, kack, his bones sang and had him howling. The goblins charged at him, looking potentially furious.

“No silly sounds.” They whispered, with gnarly fingers to their lips.

He bit his newly formed lips and forced himself to stand upright. He still had to twist his shoulders and ankles to snap the bones back into place.

“Follow us carefully. The journey is long and fraught with peril.” whispered the one that struck him.

Where in God’s name were they taking him to?

Perhaps if the mist did not block the sky, and the sun was still the light, as it was in the days of life, then it would be night by now.

For he reckoned they’d walked a half day’s journey. He did not feel fatigued. Save for the burn of his bare bones, and the ache of his battered feet, he could have kept up this dreary ambling.

His captors showed no signs of getting rest. They moved on in silence, perpetually glancing around as though they expected some creature to pop out from under the rocky ground or charge them from behind.

“Are you certain just one would get us past the skinning?” one of the goblins asked.

The one that struck him glanced back.

“Aye, we can get another if we chance upon one. But this one is sufficient. It is of suitable stature.”

Ivan looked upon himself. They were referring to him. Too bad he still possessed no tongue. He possessed questions, loads of them.

“Chra chra chra!!” screeched several goblins.

His captors halted immediately. They crouched, pulling him with them as they warily looked upwards.

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After a few moments, the screeches could he heard a safe distance away. The goblins stood up and continued their sojourn.

It was becoming wearisome, this trek. Although he felt no fatigue, Ivan could not abide the endless quality of the travel.

It seemed like it could go on forever. He felt like his lungs were being squeezed by unseen hands. He stopped and sat on the ground.

“Up hellion, this instant.” snarled one of his captors.

“It’s mind is yet mortal.” observed another.

The one that struck him, turned and did something quite unsettling. It placed its right hand, all of it, into its mouth, as though searching for something.

After a while, it pulled out a chain. Ivan watched with rapt attention as it kept pulling out the chain until all of it was withdrawn.

“Well, it’s had its fill of freedom, I suppose.”

Two of them took the slimy chain and fastened one end to his nostril with a hook. Another took the other end and proceeded to pull him along.

It did not need to pull too hard; the pain was enough to compel his obedience. If only they would halt for just a little while. The fatigue he felt was visceral and that was worse.

Finally they came out of the mist and approached a valley. The valley led to the mouth of a cave.

Ivan was so thrilled to see the sky once more that for a moment, he forgot the hook in his nostril until the goblin tugged at the chain.

“Be still, hellion.” It growled.

One of them flew off, staying rather close to the ground. It flew all the way to the cave and looked in, went in and then returned.

“The road is clear.” it said.

Two of them held his arms like before and glided across the valley. They made sure not to soar. In fact his feet scraped against the ground as they flew.

It was a tunnel afterall, he mused once they got inside. They glided through it and stopped of a sudden.

They’d come out into a thick forest populated by gigantic oak trees and numerous hellions.

“You could not have picked a quieter route?” one of the goblins snapped.

The hellions started to scamper immediately. Some took cover amidst the shrubs.

“Look up Khamil.” said one his captors.

 A host of goblins descended from the tree tops. They did not fly. They walked down the trees like lizards.

The one he now knew to be Khamil, turned immediately.

“Run,” Khamil rasped.

His abductors grasped him by the arms and flew out of the tunnel in great haste. This time they soared, going as high as possible, so that the clouds covered them once more.

“We should be rid of it. Every goblin around would hunt us!” One of them yelled.

 “We do no such thing.” Khamil snapped “we have just as much right to survive the skinning.”

“Chra chra chra!!!”

  His captors hastened to stay ahead.

“Look, a cloaking veil.” Khamil pointed with relish.

Ivan frowned, searching for the cloaking veil. They flew rapidly to the east and stopped of a sudden.

“Hold your breathing, hellion.” Khamil said.

Vam,vap, vam, vap,  vam, vap, the wings of the goblins flapped as they hovered around searching.

Two came so close, so that Ivan could stare into their crazed reptilian eyes. Their chasers hovered for so long, eagerly looking around until finally they growled and plummeted.

“The ground is a bad idea. We stick with the sky.” Khamil said.

They sat in a cave, around a fire. The day had gone noticeably dark. His captors chained him to a boulder.

 

They all sat silently, as though each one was lost in wondering contemplation. But one goblin stood up of a sudden; the one that had earlier suggested they should abandon him.

It retched and vomited. Ivan was horrified as an odd shape emerged from the goblin’s mouth. It kept retching until it spewed out a cauldron; a brown slimy cauldron.

How did the pot even fit in there?

“What are you doing?” Khamil asked.

“I am famished. I say we make bone soup.” the goblin answered.

Ivan’s face paled when he suddenly became the cynosure of his strange companions.

“No the hellion is meant to protect us from the skinning.” Khamil said flatly.

“Aye, I’ll just take a leg. We’ll have a few sips. It can grow one back.” Said the goblin; dutifully wiping the inside of the cauldron with its palm.

“You shall not touch it.” Khamil hissed, stretching his neck in usual fashion.

Something by the cave mouth distracted Ivan. Was that a head peeping? The goblin had finished setting up the cauldron. It gleefully approached him and yanked him by the arms.

“No!” Ivan howled inaudibly.

Khamil charged immediately. It struck the goblin with its left hand and sent it staggering back.

“You shall not touch it.” it said.

The goblin leapt from the ground, so acrobatically and bit Khamil on the neck. Their wings expanded immediately, so that the squabbling fiends took to the air.

They squealed and hissed.  The others rose up too and joined in the scuffle. They trashed all around, rolling across the cave ceiling, through the fire, round the walls…

Ivan just crouched where he stood to avoid the swift projectiles of furious fiends. He turned to the entrance again.

Yes, there was someone there. It was a she. She beckoned unto him. He looked upon his chain and ignored her.

Ivan looked in horror as Khamil’s head was bashed in with a rock.

The rest of the goblins hovered over it, ripping off its flesh while they furiously stabbed its chest with their sharp claws.

Ivan looked back to the stranger and started to creep towards the boulder. The goblins left off Khamil and pinned him with wild stares.

“We eat Khamil and spare It.” said the hungry one.

 

Thus Khamil was ripped apart to make visible his bones. They rekindled the fire which had waned by reason of the scuffle.

The hungry one set the cauldron upon it and beckoned. The other two picked up Khamil’s carcass and dumped it in the cauldron.

They stepped back. One of them spewed out a large volume of saliva upon the fire. The fire roared and blazed, lighting up the cave.

Ivan retreated to the wall, covering his face with his hands. The heat, he could not abide the heat.

They glanced at him and smirked.

“A hellion not used to fire.” said the hungry one.

The smell the fire gave off was hideous. It sickened Ivan. The goblins kept hovering around the pot, like hungry children awaiting meal time.

“Is it soup yet?” one asked.

“Just a moment more.” answered the hungry one, peering over the pot.

 Soon, the pot gave off a thick black fume that disturbed Ivan even more.

“Aye, bone soup it is.” announced the hungry one.

They picked the scalding cauldron with their bare hands and set it on the floor. Each fiend retched out a long spoon.

“Dinner is served.” said the hungry one.   

Ivan looked towards the cave entrance. The stranger was gone. He yanked at his chain, testing the pain. He needed to escape these monsters, he mused, watching them slurp down their bone soup.

 

He could not be sure how long they’d soared through the sky. His captors opted to hide in the firmaments.

Perhaps if they flew any higher, they would leave hell and enter heaven. But one thing was certain; no earthly being could keep up a journey this long.

If he was to estimate, he would say they’d flown for months. Not once did they fly lower, not once did they pause to rest.

But several days had darkened and yet they flew on. The goblin’s grasp never weakened. But it was nothing to marvel at, since Ivan’s arms never grew faint.

He really was spirit afterall. His flesh had returned, most of it. Now he no longer resembled a cadaver and perhaps best of all, he could speak.

But one day, something strange happened. One of the goblins that held him, groaned of a sudden and started to plummet.

The others paused in mid-flight, looking down on their crashing comrade.

“He’s flaking.” The hungry one said.

“We must land” said the one that held him.

“Aye,” the hungry one said and hurled towards land. They passed the crashing one on the way. Its whole body was coated in a strange white, cocoon.

It howled from underneath the cocoon, pleading for help. Its comrades flew past it without a backward glance.

They glided over a mountain stretch and came to rest in a wilderness. This wilderness was peppered with skulls and bones.

“We are exposed here.” the hungry one observed.

Hellions lazily roamed about. They did not appear quite as spooked by the presence of goblins. Perhaps in the presence of such desolation, nothing really mattered.

Destruction was not something to be feared but to be embraced.

“Let us seek shelter in that tunnel and stop our flaking.”

Swiftly, the fiends picked him and flew into a tunnel. The hungry one fell on its knees. A mysterious cocoon emerged from its finger tips and wrapped around its right fist.

The cocoon spread slowly, rising up the goblin’s arm. Desperate, the fiend charged at Ivan and sunk its teeth in his neck, sucking on his blood.

The other did the same until Ivan grew cold and faint. He swooned in their grasp and sunk to the floor when they took leave of him.

Faintly, he could see their strength return. The cocoon receded from the hungry one. So this was why they needed him.

His body started to warm up. The sensation rose up from his feet, up his limbs, till it reached his head and soothed his burning eyes. Ivan acknowledged his slow rejuvenation with a gasp.

“How beautiful it is to be in transition.” said the hungry one, looking down on him.

Ivan got up “what do you mean by the term, skinning?”

“Chra chra chra chra!!!!” interrupted the goblin’s answer.

Ivan looked in horror to see the host standing at the mouth of the cave. They were about a hundred goblins in number.

“Release your hellion and we shall let you go.” said one of the goblins.

“We cannot do that.” answered the hungry one.

“You have had your fill, you no longer flake.”

The hungry one shook its head “its blood shall protect us from as many skinnings to come. Find yourself another.”

“Let us have it, and then we shall find another together.”

The hungry one shook its head once more “we are on a journey. You presence shall only be a burden unto us.”

The goblin stepped forward, towards the cave mouth. It was flaking around its eyes and neck.

“The skinning is at hand. Where could you possibly be travelling to?”

“They are headed for the sorcerer’s realm. They would pledge fealty.” said another goblin, stepping forward. Its look was a mask of loathing.

“Is that so?” the goblin asked.

The hungry one shrugged, absolutely unperturbed.

“It is of no concern to you” said Ivan’s second captor.

The flaking goblin looked horrified “infidel! Satan is our one true lord and master!”

The hungry one sneered “and in his generosity, he lets us live for only one skinning. If you love him so much, then die as he designed. Why try to fight it by drinking the blood of a young hellion?”

“It is his will that the blood of a young hellion should rejuvenate us. The sorcerer is a rebel and soon he shall be crushed.”

The hungry one sighed “pardon my meek countenance. I guess I am a rebel at heart.”

In the blink of an eye, it ripped off the goblins head and then plucked out its heart. Ivan’s second captor swung into action, and plucked out the heart of the other goblin.

They then descended on the host.  Again that eerie spreading of wings, the loathsome screeches, and desperate swipes; the fiends were at it again.

Ivan pulled at the chain, biting back a groan until his bones snapped. His upper teeth fell off but the chain was off.

Although blood welled up in his mouth, Ivan was heedless of it as he sneaked out of the cave and slipped through a small tunnel he’d seen beside the cave.

He had to creep through it. He gasped when he came to the other side. The tunnel led straight off the edge of a cliff. He peered down to uncertain oblivion. The distance was dizzying.

“Hellion!!” his captors screeched. Their size forbade them from entering the tunnel. But the tunnel roof began to shatter. The goblins were punching at it. What was a mere fall from a cliff top? Ivan mused. He was dead, was he not?

Ivan crawled off the cliff top. His howl echoed as he plunged. The rocky floor seemed to rush towards him and the impact was horrendous. It crushed his body to mush. He could not move a muscle.

Footsteps approached, swift footsteps. And then someone knelt beside him.

“Well, we meet again.” The person said.

It was a female voice.

She peered into his eyes “you look wretched.” she said.

 

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About

I’m just Samuel, bony faced, laidback, absentminded Samuel. I don’t like to say much, I try to stay out of trouble. Some might say otherwise but that's some for you. Point is we don’t care, let’s just be chill and have fun. So come by whenever and ask me whatever.  It’s our party now and it won't start until your arrival.