[AGttA] Chapter 6.1: Step Down to Move Up

Continued from Chapter 6.0, here.

Read it from the beginning, starting here.

Axiom 6: Formulate a long-term plan.

Our tenuous little alliance lasted for about five minutes, until we started actually considering the logistical implications of getting from the United States to Israel in a post-Apocalyptic world.

“Plane?” I suggested, flopped across one of the armchairs.

“None of us knows how to fly,” Alice answered from the other.

“Boat?”

“We’re not near a coast.  And none of us knows how to drive a boat, much less across an ocean.”

“Drive?”

Alice lifted her head up to look incredulously at me.  “You realize that Israel’s across an ocean, right?”

I dropped my head back down.  “I suppose that walking’s out, then, too.”

“Again, ocean.”

Eremiel coughed, although it was the kind of cough that people use to try and politely alert you that they wish to contribute to the conversation.  It was quite the annoying cough, especially because you often wish those people would either know enough to keep their mouths shut, or that they’d just spit out the comment, instead of wavering between speaking or holding their tongue.

I heard the growl drifting out of Alice’s throat, but I turned my head to look at the angel.  “Suggestion, Eremiel?”

“Well, there is one way of getting to Megiddo that could be a possibility,” the angel began, looking rather uncomfortable on the floor.  Alice had kicked him out of his seat in the chair, and since I sat in the other, he’d been forced to sit on the floor.

“And you didn’t say anything?”  Yes, Alice was definitely still angry.

“It’s…” Eremiel swallowed.  “It’s rather dangerous.”

“For us, or for you?”

“For all of us,” he answered.  “It requires consorting with some… individuals, who do not necessarily share the same goals as either of us.”

“Who might these dot dot dot individuals be?” I asked.

He glanced over at me, and he definitely looked uneasy.  “Devils.”

I raised my eyebrows, surprised.  “Demons are real?  With the pitchforks and red norns and spiky tails and everything?”

“That’s just one of the many forms that they sometimes wear,” Eremiel clarified.  “But yes, those are the monsters of whom I speak.”  He shuddered.  “The ancient enemy,” he said softly.  “The ones who betrayed us, turned against us, rose up and fought back against the Books, and the Will, and the Lord, and the Host…”

I grimaced at all the capitalized letters.  “And how could they help us?”

For a moment, Eremiel remained lost in thought, and I had to wave my hand at him a couple of times before his eyes refocused and he returned back to the present.  I repeated the question to him.

“Hell,” he finally answered me.

“Hell?”  Surprisingly, Alice had perked up, turning to join in on the conversation.

Eremiel nodded.  “Yes, the Infernal Plane.”  He caught my expression, and looked momentarily apologetic.  “Sorry.  But it’s a lower plane, rather than a higher one.”

“I don’t know what that means,” I said.

He gestured in the air.  “Higher planes are… fussier, shall we say, than the lower ones.  To go from a lower plane to a higher one usually requires a great deal of energy.  Heaven is a higher plane than Earth, so it takes a whole lot of energy to just hop up to Heaven.  There are places, fortunately, where that energy barrier is lowered, and it’s easier to access the higher plane from the lower at those ‘soft spots,’ so to say.”

“And Megiddo is one of these ‘soft spots’ between Earth and Heaven,” I guessed.

“That’s right,” Eremiel nodded.  “In fact, Megiddo is quite special, because it’s also a soft spot between Earth and Hell.  That ease of travel is one of the reasons why it was chosen as the site for the Last Battle, between the forces of good and evil.”

“I still don’t see how this helps us,” Alice said after a minute.

This time, Eremiel held out his hands horizontally, like two slices of bread in a sandwich, although the sandwich contained only empty air.  “Think about it like this.  This upper plane,” he wiggled the upper slice of hand in the sandwich, “is Earth.  This lower plane,” he wiggled the bottom slice of hand sandwich bread, “is Hell.  It’s easy to jump down from Earth to Hell – souls do it all the time – but it’s very difficult to climb back up from Hell to Earth-”

“Unless you’re in the soft spots!” I finished, jumping in.  “I see.  So, if we jump down to Hell right now, we can get across Hell and then go back up at Megiddo, where it’s easy to cross.  And then we just keep going up from Earth to Heaven.”

“Exactly,” Eremiel nodded, lowering his hands and looking pleased.

Alice was still frowning.  “So what’s the downside?”

“The downside?”  Eremiel’s pleased expression vanished.  “The downside is that we have to trek through Hell, which is not a very friendly place.”

My female companion waved this issue aside impatiently, but I hesitated.  “What exactly is so unfriendly about it?  Like, in particular?” I asked.

“How do we get there?” Alice asked over me.

Eremiel answered her question first.  “We’ll need a devil, or a demon.  And that means a summoning.”

“So, supplies?” she asked.

He nodded.  “Yes.  Several items.”

“What dangerous things are in Hell?” I asked again, annoyed that the other two had stopped listening to me.

“We’ll probably need some weapons to defend ourselves,” Alice was murmuring.

“And food, too,” Eremiel added.  “I always forget about how you mortals need to eat in order to keep on working.”

“You said that Hell was dangerous.  Why?” I tried once more.

“Can you draw up a list of what we’ll need for the summoning?” Alice asked Eremiel.  She’d climbed up from her chair and had retrieved a pad of paper and a pen from somewhere, holding it out to the angel.

He took the items.  “Time matters, too,” he added.  “Given that it’s afternoon now, we can either try for midnight, or wait until tomorrow at noon.”

“Midnight it is,” Alice insisted.  “I’m not spending any more time sitting around than is necessary.”

I opened my mouth to try once again, but closed it without saying anything.  Even if I could finally make myself heard, the vote would clearly be two to one in favor of heading off to Hell.

“Whee, fun, an adventure for the whole family,” I muttered to myself grumpily as I watched Alice pack and Eremiel compose our devil-summoning shopping list.

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