Spiritual connections and interest in the Bible.
In the beginning, there was darkness. When God created the heavens and the Earth, the Earth was none but an empty wasteland of nothing.
Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. From that light came forth the life of the world in which God created landforms, waters, plants, birds, lizards, animals, and man. He also created the surrounding air of sky in which would show day-- the time there would be light, and night-- the time when there would be darkness.
`The first people were Adam and Eve. They were the first man and woman to walk upon the newly perfect world in which God created. They were the first to bring sin upon man, which would last for generations and generations forevermore, until the end of time.
And now, the end of time was drawing near. God had created the world, and He would be the One to end it. He would show his face upon the world in which he created, coming to Earth in the form of a man, and the world would come to the End.
The heavens shone a bright light upon the planet. God came from the shining streak, and the people saw him-- they recognized Him. This was only the second time he had come upon Earth.
The Spirit was drawing forth upon the very top of the altar that had been built in Jerusalem so long ago, and all the people in the city were coming forth to see that the Son of God had finally come.
But the people had been sinful. Jerusalem was already under attack. It was a fierce ongoing battle against the enemies of Saudi Arabia. The town was already under fierce destruction. People were bombing homes; people were even bombing people and themselves.
Not only was Jerusalem under an everyday crisis of death and attack, but the entire world was filling up with intoxicated fumes from careless industries and technology. The people in the other modern countries had relied on science too much. Science alone was killing man.
The Spirit was unhappy to see what was taking place. At His arrival, the altar below started to shake and rumble. The rumbling echoed all through Jerusalem, and a river of fire leaked from the walls and burst from the door of the temple. It washed the people away, and within a few minutes, Jerusalem was a horrid state of fiery boiling water.
The Spirit sent angels to fly over the lands of Earth. The angels shot harpoons of fire over the wastelands of Antarctica and Canada, and threw down snakes towards the people of Afghanistan.
The Spirit sent a swarm of African beetles to rid the country of China-- they suffered from the worst swarm of bugs a country could have ever suffered from. With a bite so painful and slow to death, the African beetles were one of the worst swarms the Earth would have ever faced-- one of the worst the Earth would ever face again.
Then the Spirit turned to where the technology and science was put into the most action. He started an Earthquake over the lands of America. From the ground there came fiendish monsters and bloodthirsty lizards that have roamed the Earth once before-- the dinosaurs. God rose the zombies of the most powerful creatures He had ever created, and in the most ugliest and monstrous forms, they attacked the largest, highest buildings across the lands, and some even flew across the sea to raid on the surrounding countries.
As for the seas, God raised an unbearable storm that rose the waves to their strongest state of thrashing. A fierce storm swept across the Arctic Ocean, spreading to the rest of the waters of the world, crashing and tossing every creature that was upon the stormy waters.
The angels stirred up the waves and drove them to overflow all the islands of Oceania, Hawaii, and every last island on Earth. But God remembered his promise: He would never rid His world in a flood ever again. So the Spirit let the angels destroy the islands and the creatures that lived in the teeming seas, until the oceans swayed and shook even more-- and the largest monsters rose from the crashing waves and let out a loud bellowing roar through the stormy air. Lochness Monsters, giant sharks, gigantic prehistoric water lizards rose from the waves and crashed through every country in the world.
Jerusalem’s flowing flood of fire was soon washed away as a terrible long necked water lizard crashed its powerful head from the grounds of the country, breaking its way through the very Earthen platform of the Middle Eastern country of Israel.
Small piranhas even managed to escape into the countries and pull down any living being that neared the waters.
The angels from above shot the humans with their terrible arrows, some with fiery points, some with ice, some with electrical tips, some just plain sharp and deadly.
The river of fire wasn’t done with, though. As soon as the monsters crashed through the lands and let the deadly waters burst in, the river of fire mixed with the warmer parts of the ocean and pretty soon, the entire ocean part of the world was mixed with a red-orange boiling hotness that spread all around the entire planet.
The volcanoes erupted to make it worse. The poisonous air was enough to kill another portion of the living creatures on Earth, and the fiery boiling water soon overflowed the most sinful countries around the Middle East. More fiendish monsters rose from the erupting volcanoes, and were washed upon the countries of Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Those countries were done with, and the fiendish monsters devoured the human flesh while the raging river of fire washed away their blood and burned down the rest of the areas.
All over the entire world, the humans were suffering. The angels or the fiends didn’t attack a single animal, for they let the Spirit wash the animals away by the powers of nature, but the humans suffered much worse for their sins. The Earth swallowed them up, the monsters devoured many, and the everlasting river of fire burned every one of the bodies to bones.
But though it seemed that all humans were dying and brutally being wiped off, there were those who felt no pain through all the suffering. The Spirit would always remember the good spirits of the world, and He would never let those souls suffer. He opened up a bright light above Him through the air and the angels guided each of the faithful souls towards the lighted pathway towards the Spirit. Those who had faith in Him knew this would be coming. Their souls rose from their bodies and they died peacefully. They felt no pain once their bodies gave way, and their spirits rose up to follow the angels towards the path to Jesus.
From all around the countries of the world, the good souls were raised up by the angels of God and they were guided to Him.
And at the sight of the Holy Spirit of Jesus, the souls immediately vanished and were taken to the next eternal life.
A spirit was sneaking through a distant world. The atmosphere was airless, and there was no sign of life—except for that of the afterlife.
Grunting, the spirit roughly brushed out the sharp nettles and twigs that were tangled in his somewhat long hair. With frustration, the spirit stepped back and a sudden ugly cry screeched out. Startled, the spirit looked behind and saw that he had stepped on another one of those SoulBirds-- those filthy creatures that he had always found hatred and annoyance with.
“Oh great,” the spirit rolled his eyes. The SoulBird was crying now, for he had stepped on its tail feather. The spirit looked at his foot with a wince, for the SoulBird too, had hurt him by burning his heel when it had been stepped on. This SoulBird was the fire type. Its tail was a small flickering flame and his heel looked burnt pretty badly. He scoffed at the small creature. “I suppose you want me to say sorry?” He muttered savagely. He could just give the little bird a kick and it would be out of his sight. The SoulBirds were no bigger than regular robins.
But the fire SoulBird narrowed its eyes and its body glowed a bright red around it. It had two tiny horns at the sides of its head, and as soon as they flashed a bright red, the bird lunged at the spirit and squawked noisily, pecking at his head.
The spirit yelled and ran around, waving his arms to swat at the stupid thing. Suddenly, a loud gunshot was heard and the bird gave a startled cry before it fled up in the air.
The spirit glared after the bird. “Down to Gehenna with you.” And he turned to stomp forwards, not thinking where he was going.
The land around him was dark and terribly hot. It was always hot around here where the spirit lived. It had only been a few months since he had come to this place-- since he had come to this world, actually. Apparently, the Apocalypse that had killed him was still going on, and the world of Earth was under a suffering terror of destruction.
The spirit couldn’t recall what his death had been like, for he couldn’t remember a thing before he had entered this world. All he could recall was that there was massive destruction over the world and his spirit had left the planet to come to this particular world…..according to what the Teachers said….
But the spirit was interested in the destruction. He loved seeing action and violence. He was a violent person himself, for he loved to torture those annoying SoulBirds especially. But news of the Apocalypse and how the other spirits had told him how it was like-- he was very much interested.
Nearing a loud crowd of caterwauling, the spirit peeked over a thicket of brambles. The spirit looked over and there, in the clearing below, there was a large crowd of people yelling and pushing at each other. The clearing was lighted as if there was a fire in the middle, but the spirit could see nothing lighting the clearing in which the crowd was in. Above the clearing, a shine of dim orange light shone upon the crowd like fire in the sky.
The people were confused and frightened. The spirit could see the looks on their faces.
“Where are we?!”
“My kids! Someone’s taken my kids! Are they still alive?!”
“No one’s alive after what has happened, fool!”
These must be the newly arrived spirits from the Apocalypse. Another huge portion of the world had come into the land of judgment. They were looking around and pushing and shoving at each other with frustration, confused about the state they were in.
“I could’ve sworn I was washed away by a river of blood!” Cried a woman.
“I was totally owned by this three headed beast!” Said a teen boy.
“What do we do?! Is this Heaven or Hell?!”
“Hey! Let’s just stick together and explore this land! We’ll destroy anything in our path TOGETHER!”
The crowd suddenly rioted at this with agreement. But some stayed to the side, avoiding the rough group of people. Suddenly, someone shot an arrow through the trees, nearly hitting the spirit before he ducked down with a gasp. The arrow shot behind him into a tree and it burst into flames, falling down with a large crash.
A large buff man stepped forward with a proud look on his face. “AHA! You see?! Whether we’re alive or dead, we can surely conquer whatever world we’re in! I think we can be more powerful in the afterlife now!”
The crowd started gathering around the man and started puling at him, as if fighting over a toy. “Hey! What the hell?!”
“Give us some of those arrows! We need to survive too!”
“Let’s kill him! We never know whether he’ll just run away without us for the sake of his own protection or not! He could kill us all!”
A woman gasped. “Even worse-- some of us could be sentenced to Hell! If we’re dead and this is afterlife, some of us may even be going to Hell in the next few hours!”
And the crowd of people immediately tackled the large man and each other out of fear. There was loud echoing and the spirit wondered if things had ever been any worse back on Earth.
Suddenly, a loud crash of thunder echoed in the sky above where the dim orange light was shining down. The people froze as an echoing feminine voice spoke through the clouds.
“Be still, my children,” the voice was tender and motherly. “Your time of judgment is nearing.”
Someone shot up another arrow up at the sky where the voice was coming from.
The clouds flashed and thunder cracked again, even louder than before. The people screamed and started bickering about how they must be going crazy and hearing things.
But suddenly, another voice spoke from the clouds, much deeper and this time, masculine and commanding. “You are all terrible sinners,” the voice spoke with anger. The people were all instantly silent and awestruck at the godliness sound of the voice. There was no doubt that this truly was-- God.
The people suddenly separated from each other to gather with their loved ones-- or whatever spirit was left of them. The spirit watching from the bushes saw that the people were divided into two groups now-- one group to the left looked fierce and angry as they stared back up at the sky, though their faces did betray the scared look of disbelief at the One speaking to them. They had a greater amount than the group on the right, who were all frail, frightened looking souls staring up at the sky.
“All of you have disobeyed the word of the Lord.” Thunder cracked after the Voice spoke again. “Many of you knew the law, yet you’ve disobeyed.” the orange light burned brighter on the people on the left side.
The tall buff man stepped forward again, aiming his arrow up at the sky. “Tell us who you are! You’re probably no more than just a foolish little soul from Earth, just like the rest of us! I swear, if you’re playin’ tricks with us, we can do much worse to you!”
The sky rumbled. “If you were holy enough, you’d come up here right now and see for yourself,” the Voice spoke with serious calm, though the echo pierced and rumbled through the crowd, making all the people behind the buff man shudder. The buff man huffed and narrowed his eyes, pulling back his arrow, ready to take shot. But the Voice spoke again. “You could see for yourself-- who I truly am. But none like you deserve to descend higher to see Me. All over you-- every man behind you as well as yourself-- you have all angered the face of the Lord, blaspheming and cursing in the face of the Holy One. You’ve disappointed me with your sins, yet you ask for no forgiveness.”
A meek man stepped forward with a scared face. He looked cowardly, coming up from the left side of the fierce men. “Lord….I ask for forgiveness. I may have disgraced your word, but I regret it now. Please….you will have mercy on me, for I repent everything I’ve done.”
The Voice grew angry. “You had all the time in your life to ask for forgiveness. Now it is too late. For you don’t repent-- you only regret. All of you, every single one of you were warned to be judged. Many of you will suffer for your sins. But those who have kept their hearts close to me, they shall be blessed with rewards upon rewards. I tell you all now-- all of you will live on, whether you have sinned or not-- though many of you will suffer eternally, while some may still be blessed eternally.”
The people all braced themselves as the clouds parted and the orange light went from a dim brightness to become more and more shiny until they all couldn’t take it. They all looked away. Even the spirit watching in the bushes had to close his eyes shut and look down.
“In thy name of the Father,” the voice rose louder now, “I sentence you all to lives of eternity.”
And suddenly, a blinding shine shone over all the people, and the brightness was so bright that it even burned the eyes of those who were closed.
The spirit clenched his teeth. He wanted to see this moment badly. He dared to peek and see what was happening to the people, but suddenly, someone grabbed his shoulder from behind.
The spirit flinched and turned to glare at whoever it was, but closed his eyes immediately as the blinding light burned with even more intensity.
“Zach,” the voice behind him spoke with serious calm. “You’re not supposed to be here….”
And the spirit felt his body disappear from the atmosphere in the surrounding world.
Chapter One- The Thief
A shot of flames crashed through the thicketed branches. A fire SoulBird cawed angrily after the spirit that stole its egg.
I hurried through the rough lands of Bhad, climbing over the bare stiff branches in the forested thicket. In his hands was a pink egg with a bright glowing gem at its center. I had this precious thing stolen from the Principal of my stupid low-class school of St. Gretchen’s Academy. Principal Gretchen, or St. Gretchen, had this egg found at the side of the Gehenna River, and our academy’s creepy old janitor had been the one to retrieve it.
Now, I was the one who had this valuable item in my own hands, and I wasn’t goin g to let my crazy lady principal get away with whatever reward this egg would bring her.
So St. Gretchen’s fire SoulBird was chasing me above. The damned devilish creature was shooting flames down through the thicketed branches wherever it could see me. But I was fast. I was used to the crud I went through in the land of Bhad.
Here, we live in the world of Purgatory. The place is like a large pyramid-like mountain that land seven stages of lands that made its way to the top. The bottom was the worst the world of Purgatory can get, and the top was the best. The top was called the land of Guhd, where the most purified souls go to in the afterlife.
Okay, first of all, let me explain to you the afterlife. There was life on Earth, and when you died or passed away, your soul would pass on in the afterlife, and either went to Heaven, Hell-- or Purgatory. Yeah, the simple concept everyone knew about. If you were good, you went to Heaven. If you were bad, you went to Hell. And….let’s put it that if you were a little bit of both you went to the “in-between” world called Purgatory.
Of course, it makes sense because there are many people out there who aren’t good-hearted enough to go to Heaven, though at the same time, not bad and evil enough to go to Hell. This is why many come to the world of Purgatory. Apparently, this stupid world’s supposed to teach you to be good and cleanse you wholly so that you can truly be clean enough to go to Heaven. There are boring academies in this place where the spirits here teach you about the soul and who you can truly be, such and such, about the Lord and everything. But before you think these are just another version of your average schools, let me tell you that it’s way more complex than that. In the academies of Purgatory, the Teachers are known as the High Ones, for they have knowledge over all souls and they know everything about you-- where you came from, what part of Earth you lived in, why you’re here, etc.-- and they are supposed to teach you to become cleansed and purified of the little bit of badness in you that keeps you from entering the kingdom of Heaven.
Besides the boring studies that I don’t even pay attention to, they have the strangest rituals a school could ever perform on you. If you’re in the higher classes in Purgatory in the higher lands, you practice purifying rituals that purify your soul and make you all clean like a flower. I don’t know much about those higher places because I’m not from there.
But I do know the rituals in the lower lands. The lower lands perform rituals that make you angry and evil. The seven stages of Purgatory start from the lands of Bhad, to the lands of Nawht, to the lands of Pryde, and to the lands of Primal. Then from the middle land of Primal, there are the upper lands of Juste, Purah, and Guhd, which is at the very top. You’re supposed to advance through the lands and pass those academy tests in order to proceed to the next land and become more of a purified soul. The most purified soul would reach the lands of Guhd, where the academies are probably the most advanced. And if you pass the academies in that stage, you’ll make it outta this middle-world, into the higher world of Heaven. Whereas for those who fail the academies, they decrease to the lower stages. If you fail an academy in any of the stages, then the next year, they make you fall back the lower stage, and the lowest stage you can go to is in the lands of Bhad. And from that point, if you fail that stage, you’ll leave this world and end up in the underworlds of Hell.
Apparently, I’m in the lands of Bhad. Not because I’ve failed the academies in the higher lands, but because after my death in the Apocalypse, I was sentenced to this particular state in Purgatory. At least, that’s what I was told, for I remember nothing of my life on Earth, nor of my death in the Apocalypse. I couldn’t recall a single moment of the Apocalypse in which had taken place to kill me. I don’t even remember my own name, except for the name that the spirits called me when I first appeared here-- Zachariah Ezekreth.
I was fifteen years old at the time, and I still am. I didn’t care what the spirits called me-- the only memory I could ever trace back was the moment I was enrolled in the St. Gretchen Academy when a tall man dressed in red was introducing me to St Gretchen and my new teacher, the High Donner.
I guess the tall man in red was the Higher One of the land, for every land in Purgatory had a ruler that controlled the academies with knowledge over all the souls and High Ones. The Higher Ones knew even more than the High Ones, obviously. They also had guards and armies that controlled places called the Punishment House, in which the punished souls go to like a jail. The Higher Ones control the High Ones-- what they teach and how the land should be treated and such. Our Higher One in the lands of Bhad was known as Lucien the Higher One, and I’ve seen many pictures of him, for many souls, especially the female ones, admired his handsome looks and powerful glory of riches. But the only time I’ve ever met him in person was probably just that one moment he enrolled me in this academy.
But since then, I still hadn’t been able to trace back any of my memories before that time. I only went by what the High Donner told me, for he was a teacher and he was supposed to know about my past and everything about me. But the jerk wouldn’t tell me about my family on Earth, for he said they had nothing to do with my reason for being here.
Whatever. I didn’t care why I was here, and I wasn’t going to push myself to become determined to find out. Life was stupid-- afterlife was stupid. I’m placed in the lowest class of Purgatory in the terrible lands of Bhad. There must have been some reason why I was placed in such a low class when I was sentenced to the world of Purgatory. If I had been a better person, I would have either made it to Heaven or at least a higher class in Purgatory in the afterlife. But no, unfortunately, I had done something wrong in my mortal life on Earth to have caused me to be placed in the lowest part of Purgatory, the closest to the world of Hell. I was one step away from entering the world of Hell, and heck! I wasn’t doing any good in my classes anyway. It’s been about three months since I first arrive in this damned place, and I was already failing the tests and the rituals our academy was going through to become purified enough to move to the next land. But I didn’t care. This life was already enough like Hell, and I’ve already proven that I could survive the lands of Bhad. If I could survive the lowest parts of Purgatory, I could probably survive Hell also.
And right now, here I was, running from our principal’s SoulBird, stealing the most valuable item she found by the Gehenna River that shared a fiery water from Hell. Oh yes, the SoulBirds are the only living creatures in Purgatory besides “average souls.” They come in four species-- Earth, air, fire, and water. The lower lands contain the Soulbirds in their devil forms, when they have two small red horns on their heads with a reddish glow around their bodies, and the higher lands have the angelic SoulBirds with a bright white glow around their bodies with a halo around their foreheads.
SoulBirds are half-bird and half-angel. According to the High Ones, they are supposed to become our lifelong pets to help guide us towards either Heaven or Hell, and the concept was easy. Befriend an angelic SoulBird and you’d probably get a boost in your academy to improve your way into Heaven. Befriend a devilish SoulBird and you’ll probably be driven to doing devilish things that will help you drop your grades in your academies to make it down to Hell.
But I had no SoulBird of my own, and yet, I was still failing on my own. I’m telling you-- I can take care of myself. If I wanna fail at afterlife, I’ll do it by myself. If I was to go to Hell next year, I’d go there simply by myself. I didn’t need no stupid bird-angel to help me. I hated those things anyway. The way they flap their wings at you and call in each of their annoying caws and cries, I hated it. The only pleasure I got out of those things was when I shot random wild ones in the air with my thorn-and-fire slingshot. Watching them fall in the river Gehenna was the best part. For any SoulBird that wasn’t the fire type would immediately melt away until their body was nothing but a skeleton flowing up the river.
But anyways, I didn’t have my slingshot with me right now. I only had the protection of these damned branches that stuck out here and there, like a crowded forest of skinny branches with no leaves or plants whatsoever. The branches were sharp everywhere they grew, and if I wasn’t careful, I could’ve run into a sharp end and have my eye jabbed out. Yes, even in the afterlife, you’d have to watch where you’re going, because the world for the afterlife interacts just as the world of Earth interacted with those in the mortal life. We could be ghosts in a different world, but in our own world, we were just as prone to physical dangers just as we would have been if we were alive on Earth.
“Arraggggh!” The fiery SoulBird let out a cry of agony as the winds blew towards its body, ruffling its fiery feathers and making it stumble in the air.
I closed my eyes and clenched my teeth as I made my way through the branches. The wind was not at all a breezy draft of air. No, here in the lowest lands of Purgatory when we were so close to Hell, the temperature was a blazing heat that would fry a chicken if you left it out in the open sun for ten seconds. It was nothing like those super hot places on Earth near the equator-- the temperature here was like living with fire surrounding your body everywhere you went. It was so hot that it even hurt if you stayed out too long. You could even feel your own skin sting under the blazing heat of the land in Bhad. Even at night, it was like being in the boiling Jacuzzi during the summertime. The only thing that felt better was that the sun wasn’t so bright in your eyes while you felt yourself melting away.
I hated it, but I was used to it. Because I’m a spirit though, I got no tan lines or sun burns, as much as my skin would burn each day-- it would all heal away during the night. But it was horrible in here. There were no plants except for the bare trees and rocks here and there, with a number of sharp brambles and bare bushes. There were forests, though they were either made of crowded branchy trees, or large giant brambles that stretched out like the one I was in.
The breeze blew again, blowing from the direction of Hell. I was running against it, feeling the heat and the dust in my face. I guess I was headed for Hell’s direction.
“Zaaaach!” The High Donner’s voice was calling after me. I flinched and cursed. My teacher and St Gretchen were probably catching up in the thicketed branches as well. They knew this place more than I did, for they had obviously been around longer and were more experienced with situations like this.
The fire SoulBird suddenly took the risk to crash down above me and knock me down through the branches. The bird cried with pain as the thorny branches crashed at its small body, and I felt the heat of the devilish thing behind me as I lunged forward and tripped, falling through the sharp branches and rolling out into the open where sharp dry grass grew beside the Gehenna River. Taller trees grew around here, though none with any leaves.
The egg remained in my arms, though I got up with my face hot with embarrassment rather than from the climate. I shook by head, getting a few of the branches out of my hair, though a lot of prickly thorns still remained. I looked into the Gehenna River. I couldn’t see my reflection in the orange patterned liquid that flowed from the world of Hell, into a pool called the Hellsfire Pool. In the Hellsfire Pool, though, one was able to look at their reflection-- though it would be their reflection if they had lived in Hell for a year. I ditched the academy to see it before-- I’ve ditched the academy many times-- and I’ve seen myself in Hell before. I looked pretty good, actually. I didn’t look as bad as I thought I would if I lasted in Hell too long. My shoulder-length black and white hair seemed to have flattened out and gotten thinner, becoming a color of black with red streaks instead of white, which I found pretty tight.
But suddenly, a thought entered my mind. I wondered if I could drop this egg into the river. I’ve never dropped a SoulBird egg into the river, and I wonder what it would look like if an egg were dropped. Maybe it would fry like a scrambled egg before melting away. I was just about to drop the egg until the river suddenly made a sizzling noise.
A bubble rose up and popped, splashing a tiny bit of sprinkles in my face. It stung like Hell. I yelled and jumped back, cursing under my breath and dropping the egg.
From the river, a small creature fluttered out from the bubble. I looked up with squinting eyes at the stupid creature. It was smaller than a SoulBird, and it was human-like with red skin. It was some kind of Faerie. And from the looks of it, it looked like it had traveled from Hell through the river Gehenna.
I hadn’t paid much attention in the academy to fully understand what faeries could actually do to you, but I did know that they were dangerous to perform magic spells on even the afterlife spirits.
I glared challengingly at the faerie, showing my evil look of hatred. I didn’t blink or take my eyes off the thing as I reached down to pick up the egg at my side.
The faerie fluttered up the tree, dancing its way up, and disappeared in the branches. I heard a loud cry and immediately, I took the closest rock I could find and threw it in the faerie’s direction. I hit something. There was a scream and a dark red fire SoulBird fell from the tree and splashed into the river Gehenna. I didn’t pay attention to its body this time, for I was focused on what the faerie was doing now. I could now see through the branches that there was a nest with flames dancing around it. The fire SoulBird must have been making its eggs, however those creatures give birth. The faerie was dancing around the nest, putting out the fire. Then the faerie pushed the nest out of the tree, and watched as the three newly made eggs fell with a crack on the ground.
The faerie snickered and swatted its hand towards me, and I felt an invisible smack on the side of my cheek. I winced and growled as I stared up at the faerie. It was now staring at the egg in my arms.
I huffed. “What? You want this?” I spoke in a low, taunting tone. I held up the egg towards the faerie, then snatched it away. “Come and get it.”
The faerie hissed, but it wasn’t taking its eyes off the egg.
I looked down and suddenly gasped. The egg was glowing. The yellow center of the egg was brightly glowing, and I felt the egg warming in my hands already.
“Zach! Donner, you find him right now or you’re fired! The Gehenna River’s right here!”
I flinched at the sound of St. Gretchen’s cracked voice. She sounded just like her terrible fire SoulBird.
I looked up as the faerie gave me a naughty smile and disappeared.
The egg was getting warmer and warmer, and I noticed that the tiny bright dot in the center had gotten bigger to almost the size of a quarter. I had to keep this egg for a little while. I looked over and saw that one egg had managed to live and not crack like the others. I hid the egg in a hole behind me, and moved a rock over it. Then I braced myself as St. Gretchen and the High Donner crashed out of the thicket.
“Zach Ezekreth!” Gretchen was screaming, and she was holding her wounded SoulBird in her arms. Its feathers were tangled with thorns. “You! How DARE you! You have no idea what you’ve just done! That egg was to be delivered to Lucien the Higher! Now imagine what he’ll have to do with YOU.”
Her eyes were beady and she had taken off her glasses to run through the thickets.
I stared back with a bored narrowed look. “What are you gonna do now?” I said plainly. “You gonna make me lap around the Hellsfire Pool again?”
“No, this time, I’ll leave the punishment to Lucien now,” said Gretchen coolly. “We’ll have to see what he would do to you for stealing his egg.”
“Um, on the second thought,” Donner was speaking, “perhaps we shouldn’t tell the Higher One about what has happened. Imagine that he’ll think of us as the most irresponsible academy in the land. We won’t get the anointing! We’ve always been the perfect academy for Lucien, and we can’t let a silly darn student like this one screw things up for us.”
I gave a sideways smile as my teacher glared at me. “What? I’ve tried to leave you guys lots of times before-- why didn’t you let me go?” I chuckled. “Guess you just love having me around.”
“Shut up!” St. Gretchen whacked me on the head with her ruler. She was known for randomly hitting students whenever she pleased. “You go retrieve that egg for me and I’ll make sure you’re sentenced to three weeks in sacrifice!”
My heart leaped at this, but I didn’t show it. I just simply turned around and picked up the fire egg. It did look somewhat like the other egg-- it was very light red rather than pink, with a larger yellow center, but the principal was too enraged to noticed. She snatched it from my hands and peered deviously at me.
“You will be serving three weeks of after class activity. You’ll clean up the campus and serve as a sacrifice for the academic rituals. You’ll be toiling the academy with a chain ball at your heels, and you will wear thorny wristbands and anklets, along with a headband of fire that will burnt the hairs off your head and fry your brain.”