Previously on Ivan from Hell

Ivan

©Samuel Mogbolu


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The Abyss

With each step she took, her shoulders jolted against his sore joints. She had picked him up like he was made of feathers.

But she was a hellion, slight of stature. The valley never ended; rather it seemed to expand with each step she took.

His eyes had grown weary of seeing the same grey, barren, soil, the same occasional pot holes and outcroppings.

“Let us tarry here.” He murmured.

“Absolutely not,” She said “there is no shelter in sight. We’ll be fools for the picking.”

“Why are you helping me?” he asked.

 
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“Out of the goodness of my heart.” She said with a chuckle.

Such a response greatly perturbed him. He remained silent. Perhaps she sensed his unease.

“Don’t fret,” she said “I would never harm you.”

“What is your name?” he asked, getting used to the rhythm of her walk.

“Halimar. As a mortal, I was a Saracen.”

“You are a heathen.” He remarked.

“Aye,” she said “and we are both in hell.”

“I am Ivan. Where are you taking me?”

“Out of this valley, I hope, unless you have grown wistful of the place. You must love the open sky, and the desert soil.”

Ivan did not bother to reply. What really brought him here? Would he chance upon his beloved uncle? Or would he get to shake hands with the devil.

“Shall we truly roam this world forever?” he asked.

“Nay,” she said “if we regularly display good deeds and perform chance acts of kindness, then an angel shall come in a chariot of clouds to release us from our penance.”

“Is this true?” Ivan asked, perking up.

“Yea, but your folly is unforgivable. No angel shall come for you.”

Ivan sighed “are you always this cheerful?”

“Are you always this smart?” she retorted.

They journeyed on in silence. His mind was like a shell, he went in to retreat. Everything seemed clearer in this world.

Why had his love for Anna so consumed him? What had she really had to offer him?

What was love? What was companionship? Perhaps Solomon came here before he wrote Ecclesiastes; for indeed, all was vanity.

Being lost, that was the real torment here, a sort of eternal ennui.

Ivan suddenly came to.

“Chra chra chra!!!” Goblins shrieked from above.

Halimar was running now. His ribs stabbed at him with all ferocity.

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“Just let me lie here.” Ivan moaned “the goblins have no need of you.”

“There is a woodland not far ahead. Goblins are wary of woods.” She said casually.

Soon enough, dry brown grass replaced the grey soil. Grey oak trees stood tall. They formed an ominous canopy that shut out the daylight.

The goblin shrieks seemed to retreat, the farther in they went. But Halimar kept running. She seemed swifter than expected.

“How have you come by such agility?” Ivan asked.

“I wager us hellions could outrun horses.” She said “the same way we carry things twice our weight.”

“That is a consolation. I would love to try it.” Ivan said.

“Tis no consolation. Everything else is greater than us. We are the prey. Prey for the birds, prey for the beasts, prey for the fiends, prey for the ghouls.”

“Well, the goblins have retreated.” Ivan observed.

 Halimar stopped and dropped him “test your bones, see if you can move.”

Ivan squinted to look upon his frame, and shakily rose up. His body seemed reformed as before.

“Transition, how I yearn for it.” Halimar remarked, with her hands akimbo on her tiny waist.

“When does it end?” Ivan asked.

“Too soon.” She replied “your body shall no longer reform of its own accord. You shall borrow from the bodies of other hellions.”

 “You mean steal.” Ivan said.

She looked puzzled “you have something against survival?”

Ivan looked around. He had no love for this terrain. There was something constricting about the place.

“Why did the goblins retreat?”

“Oh well, the ghouls abide in woodlands, horrifying creatures.”

Ivan’s eyes widened. Surely one of the oak trees moved behind Halimar. Halimar heard the threatening crackle and turned.

“Be still.” She whispered “or we shall be dismembered where we stand.”

The tree rose higher and higher until it began to attain a different form. With each movement it made, its branches gave off thunderous snaps.

The branches assumed the shape of hands; brown, woody, mighty, hands. 

Halimar looked pale.

“Ivan,” she whispered.

“Aye,”

“Run.”

She moved like the wind, floating through the woods. Ivan chased after her. What a sensation. His body felt weightless.

The thunderous snaps approached from behind, the woods gave off a bloodcurdling howl.

The earth relentlessly shattered underneath his feet, so that he had to jump over sudden chasms. He could barely sight Halimar ahead.

Something gripped his ankle in mid-jump. He looked down; it was a branch. It crushed his bone.

He found himself rising higher and higher. Then it hurled him far into the distance.

 

He opened his eyes. Grey sky as usual.

“Don’t move. Your skull is shattered.” Halimar said.

“Where are we?”

Why was the wind so warm?

“Hell, as always.” She glibly replied.

Ivan coughed. Blood welled up in his throat, so that he gurgled when he coughed. Halimar came upon him, gripping him by the shoulders. She slowly lapped upon his blood.

“Pardon me. But your blood is too precious to waste.”

“The ghouls did not harm you?” he asked.

“I am swifter than you are.” she said.

Ivan sighed, releasing more sputum.

“What is the point of all this?” he asked breathily “why do you go on?”

Halimar looked confused. “This is a new world, equipped with necessities, politics and resources.” She said.

Ivan scoffed “you are beside yourself.”

“No, think of this as a new beginning. You could one day be a hellion of reckon. Have you heard mention of The Sorcerer?”

“Aye.” Ivan murmured.

“The Sorcerer is no ghoul, demon, nor fiend. He is hellion like you and I” she said with fervour.

“Hellions can perform sorcery here?” Ivan asked.

“He found a way to be special.” Halimar said “I hope to do the same. That is what keeps me going.”

 The notion intrigued him.

“When did you die?” Ivan asked.

“1341. I succumbed to the plague in the city of Naples.” She said sombrely.

Just like his Anna.

“And yet you ended up here.” Ivan said.

“My suffering did not grant me redemption. Before the plague, I was a slave and an assassin. I was always meant to end up here.”

“How come you speak my language?”

“Here, all tongues are one.” She said.

He wished to rise up. What a world this was, where he worried about strange things, strange things such as the possibility that his brain could fall out from his fractured skull.

“Where do we go from here?” Ivan asked.

“Would you be my companion in hell?” she asked.

“Is it not already so?”

“Then you shall never abandon me, as I shall never abandon you?”

“I shall never abandon you.” Ivan muttered.

“So be it.” she said “but there are things you must know. You must never reveal the fact that you are in transition.

A hellion in transition is wanted by all. Your blood is a healing elixir.

The demons hunt you to take you captive, the goblins need you to stop flaking, and perhaps most of all; everyone who hopes to come under The Sorcerer’s protection would require a hellion in transition.”

“Aye,” Ivan said.

“Once you have recuperated…”

The day grew considerably darker. Halimar looked towards the horizon. She seemed pale. Her lips quaked. He could not attempt to turn his head.

“I knew the air felt too warm.” She muttered.

“What is it?”

“Tis the fog.” She said “a fire wave approaches.”

“The fog?” Ivan asked, trying to sit up. Not that again.

“We are on a cliff top. Below is dark and uncertain, I might not survive a jump. And you are in no condition to be moved.”

She looked crestfallen. Gone was the easy confidence. Halimar truly did not desire destruction. Ivan was moved. Perhaps in time, he could come to emulate her vitality.

“Give me your scarf.” He said.

“What?”

“Your scarf.”

She pulled it and handed it to him, looking vaguely hopeful. He shakily tried to bind his head with the scarf.

“Give me.” she said and took the scarf from him.

She lifted his head carefully and wound the scarf around, until his skull was tightly wound.

“Well, what do we do?” she asked.

He sat up warily. He was still conscious. What would happen if he lost his brain? Would he truly die?

He looked towards his right.

“By God,” he muttered.

The whole horizon, every cloud in the distance was gradually overcome by a grey, rapidly approaching smoke.

It was every bit as unsettling as it had been, back at the Twelfth. He went up to the cliff’s edge and looked down. It was pitch dark and uninviting. He could not make out the bottom.

He turned back to Halimar.

“We shall jump.” He said.

“No we shan’t. I fear there is an abyss. If we fall in there, we shall be trapped for all time.” She said hastily.

“Do you know of a surety?” he asked.

“No but it’s possible. Can you not see this cliff forms one edge of a crater?”

He sighed “come Halimar. We find out together.”

She warily watched him and then glanced at the approaching fog. Biting her bottom lip, she stepped forward.

“I am not in transition. The jump would disable me.” she whispered.

“Tis nothing. My blood would heal you.” he said.

She remained silent. They both looked down towards the darkness, each one uncertain.

“Chra chra chra!!!”

They looked up.

“Those damned creatures.” Ivan spat out, sighting the two flying fiends.

“They are two. Could they be the same ones?” Halimar asked.

“Aye, tis them for sure.” Ivan said. He’d spent so long with them.

“Hellion!!!” They screeched.

 “We jump now.” Ivan said.

The grey fog reached the cliff. Just like that, the bluff started to dissolve. Halimar fell first. The crumbling precipice, sucked in the two hellions, so that they plummeted in a wave of crashing rubble.

The goblins frantically swooped down for Ivan.

“Take my hand, Hellion!” one of them shrieked.

Ivan looked down “Halimar!”

“Let us be gone. We can still outrun the fog.” entreated one of the goblins.

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.