The smell of sulfur assaulted her senses as she began to regain consciousness. Hekate’s eyes opened, but it wasn’t to the parking lot as she was expecting. Her hands scraped against a hard, warm surface as she attempted to sit up.
Her surroundings blurred as she blinked, attempting to clear her vision. It was as though the sulfur was assaulting not only her sense of smell, but her sight as well. When her vision finally began to clear, her breath hitched. The ground was hard, black stone that glowed red through the cracks. As her eyes lifted, a yellowish haze covered the ground, reaching up towards the sky, or ceiling…she wasn’t sure what was above her. She could only see the fog and nothing else.
She wracked her brain, attempting to figure out where she was, how she had gotten there, and who had done this to her. The image wolf returned to her memories, but it still didn’t make any sense. The last thing she could recall were large white claws heading right for her.
Glancing down a herself, there were no wounds. Her clothing was dirty from the lying on the ground and there were two large paw marks on her shirt, but otherwise she seemed unharmed. Narrowing her eyes, she inspected herself, multiple times, attempting to find more evidence of the wolf.
Just as Hekate was beginning to stand, a voice made her freeze. “Child, are you awake?”
She jumped backwards, stumbling, nearly falling back to the ground. The voice came from a figure that was standing in front of a massive set of four doors. They were ancient, with cracks that shared the same red glow that matched the cracks in the ground. There was only one main difference between them: one had been broken open from the inside.
The woman before her was tall and slender. Her silver hair fell to her waist with intricate braids around her head that probably held another inch of hair. Her facial features were sharp, with fierce cheek bones and eyes that were like daggers. Dressed in full body armor, the woman shined against the red glow of their surroundings. The armor held intricate detail, with characters she had never seen before. In her hand, she held a long sword, dripping with a black substance Hekate had never seen before.
Her body stayed in place despite the urge to run. There was nowhere to run. She had no idea where she was. Her body knew before her mind had time to catch up. All she could do was stare and meet the fierce gaze with fear.
“Where am I?” She asked, trying to contain the shaking in her voice.
The woman’s silver eyes scanned the area before taking a step closer towards her. She knelt down and tilted her head back. “I had you brought here. To the Gates of the Horsemen.”
Hekate’s mouth gaped open. She couldn’t believe the words. They were fiction, they had to be. But as she looked around, it was hard to deny what was there. For a moment, she wondered if someone had drugged her drink back at the club.
A voice from behind caused me to jump, nearly nicking my hand on the sword that was hanging close by. “She’s stunned. Give her a moment to rest.”
She turned to see the same white wolf from earlier, sitting and staring at her. The same eyes that she had felt on her her entire life now stared openly at her. The amber eyes that were no longer a blur in her corner of her eye was here. And she couldn’t comprehend it.
“What the hell is going on?”
The wolf moved through the haze to stand nose to nose with her. It took all she had not to flinch away. As it adjusted to sit in front of her, a voice filled her mind.
My name is Moro. I brought you here at Selene’s request.
The voice echoed through her mind, matching the one that had come from the wolf only a moment ago. Hekate’s head jerked from side to side as she glanced between the powerful woman standing over and the wolf now sitting next to her. If someone had drugged her, it was doing some serious damage.
You’re not drugged. I wouldn’t have allowed it.
“She believes she was drugged?” The woman asked.
The wolf, Moro, glanced at Hekate before speaking aloud. “Yes.”
The woman shook her head as she chuckled. “That is ridiculous.”
“This is ridiculous,” Hekate exclaimed, waving her arms into the air before freezing, realizing her outburst.
Selene, Hekate assumed was the woman, moved to crouch in front of Hekate. She reached to pat the wolf on the head without breaking her gaze. “You’re completely sane. And this is completely real.”
Hekate’s mouth drooped open in shock. She wanted to continue to believe none of this was real, and it was all in her head. But the overwhelming smell and heat coming from the ground told her it was all real. No logical explanation could change that.
Selene stood up, pulling a cloth from behind her to wipe the black substance off of her sword. “It’s time for you to help us. We cannot put it off any longer.”
Hekate’s eyes narrowed. “Help? Help with what? I have no idea what’s even going on, so how I am supposed to help with anything?”
Moro glanced at the giant Gates behind them. “We have been guarding you your entire life, preparing you for if this happened.”
“Would someone please explain to me what the hell is going on?”
Selene grinned. “I like her. She has a fighting spirit.”
Moro chuckled. “That’s why I chose her.”
Hekate’s eyes widened in frustration. “Hello? Still here! Still confused!”
Holding out her hand, Selene offered to help Hekate from the ground. She grabbed the strong woman’s forearm, hoisting herself to her feet. The moment she touched the armor, her nose cleared instantly from the poisonous smell that had been bothering her. But as soon as she released her, the smell returned causing her nose to twitch.
“We’ve been watching you since birth. It is rare when a soul has the strength that yours has. Sometimes we must wait decades for someone like you to be born or even reborn. We’ve been watching you, along with a few others across the human world, attempting to find the right on,” Selene explained.
Raising an eyebrow, Hekate glanced down at the wolf before looking back at Selene. “Watching us for what? You still haven’t explained what’s going on, where I am, and why this wolf can even talk?”
Moro nuzzled Hekate’s hand, causing her to flinch. “I’m not a wolf.”
Selene held a hand to her chin. “You are for now, and that is the point.”
Moro rolled her eyes, an odd action for a wolf. “My form changes based on who I am with. Even from infancy, your soul has been attached to the dog or wolf. It’s part of who you are. So this form was the easiest decision.”
“Are you the one who messed with my computer? And whose been watching me all the time?” Hekate recalled all those times in her life where she felt eyes on her but could never find the source. Only the white blur in the corner of her eye.
The white wolf nodded. “I will admit. You are one of the only humans who has been constantly aware of my presence. Even to get the smallest glimpse of me is not an easy feat. I had to be careful when keeping an eye on you.”
Hekate gulped, taking in the answer to a question that has long plagued her. Her arm reached back, pointing towards the giant Gates. “And what is this?”
“I already told you,” Selene said, “The Gates of the Horsemen.”
Holding her arms out beside her, Hekate made no effort to hide her frustration. “I don’t know what that means.”
Selene’s eyes narrowed as her brows fell. She looked towards Moro. “I thought you said she was enrolled in a private Baptist high school?”
Moro shook her head. “She is, but their education on Revelations is lacking. The mortals tend to avoid the book unlike their previous generations.”
She shook her head. “That is disappointing.”
The side conversation triggered something in Hekate’s memories. She suddenly recalled pieces of the book of Revelations and it’s mention of Horsemen. “Wait, are you talking about the apocalypse?”
Selene nodded. “Yes.”
A cold sweat covered her body, despite that fact that it felt like a furnace as she stared at the Gates as they stood tall. “Why am I here? Really?”
As she took a step forward, Selene held her hand under Hekate’s chin to force her to look back. “We need your help. You have to help us fix a problem.”
“What – What problem?” Hekate was afraid to know the answer.
Selene released her chin and used her sword to point at the open door. “Someone has escaped, and we need him brought back. It isn’t time for their release yet.”
“This can’t be real. This just can’t be,” Hekate began to murmur to herself. She reached up to pull at her hair, yanking it back, as if the pain would suddenly wake up her up.
The armored woman took a step back as the heat in the room suddenly began to intensify. A rush of hot air slammed into me as large set of red wings erupted from Selene’s back. They were beautiful but scarred. Missing feathers, the red tainted by black stains; an image of a warrior who had seen multiple battles.
Hekate’s eyes could only continue to widen in shock. Unconsciously, she reached to touch them. Selene didn’t flinch when her hands ran down the battle-worn wings, feeling the soft and rough textures throughout. Those with the black stains were hardened, no longer soft as the rest.
Moro stood and nudged Selene’s leg. “Don’t you miss the days when a mortal would meet an angel and fall to their knees, begging for forgiveness?”
Hekate didn’t. “A-Angel?” Her heart began to race, as she felt the oncoming anxiety.
Moro moved to stand next to Hekate. The instant her fur touched Hekate’s leg, a sudden sense of relief washed over her. The sulfur infused air vanished from her nose, releasing Hekate from the burning sensation that was beginning to build each time she inhaled.
Moro looked up. “Better?”
“Yes,” Hekate sighed.
Selene nodded. “Yes, I am what you humans would call an Angel. Or something like it at least.”
Her eyes narrowed as she tried to understand. “What does that even mean? You never even explained the talking wolf thing?”
“Thing?” Moro asked, offended.
Hekate rolled her eyes. “Sorry, forgive me for forgetting my manners as I freak out.”
Laughing, Selene took a step forward again. “What we are does not matter. What matters is who escaped. And we need him back.”
“Do I even want to know?”
“A Horseman recently took advantage of a distraction and managed to break down one of the doors and escape into the mortal world,” Selene explained.
Hekate glanced back at the opened Gate. “Which one was it?”
She shook her head. “We cannot know for sure. Every time one has escaped, they always change doorways. Intent on confusing us so we cannot capture them.”
Holding up a hand, Hekate made her pause. “Wait. Wait,” she took a deep breath, attempting to calm her heart again before continuing, “Let me get this straight. A Horseman of the Apocalypse has escaped, and you want me to bring him back?”
“Precisely,” Selene nodded.
For a moment, only confused sounds could escape her lips. Not only did this all sound ridiculous, but it sounded like an impossible task for any human to complete. “What are you talking about? You’re the angel here. Can’t you bring him back?”
Selene shook her head. “No. I am unable to leave my post.”
Her hand reached to run through her hair again. “This is too much. Wait. Just wait please. How many times has this happened? You said they change doorways?”
Moro glanced up. “It has happened on multiple occasions when Selene is distracted by battle and I am not here to assist.”
“I still don’t understand. What battles?” Hekate stammered.
Selene towards the yellow haze across the horizon. “Demons. Sometimes a Horseman will summon hoards of them to try and release them. It is rare when a Horseman is able to free himself with my back turned. They usually need assistance.”
Hekate pointed towards Moro. “And you can’t assist because you’re spying on humans?”
Rolling her eyes again, Moro nodded. “Essentially, yes.”
She moved her hands to point to herself. “And you want me, a below average girl, to go out and fight a Horseman?”
“You won’t be alone. Moro will be with you at all time. Her energy will be attached to your soul. This will allow you to have powers similar to mine. Although still human, she will enhance your senses and allow to be prepared for anything,” Selene explained.
Her arms dropped to her sides. “What? How am I supposed to explain a wolf following me everywhere?”
Moro grunted as she nudged Hekate’s knees. “No one has seen me whenever I was watching over you. No one will see me now. And I will be with you this time, not beside you.”
Selene merely nodded. “Moro allows her presence to be felt while in the mortal realm for the Horseman to feel you. He will sense this and know you are the one sent to reclaim him. He will send any attack he can to kill you. And you will need to fight back and finally bring him back to be sealed away again.”
“Oh. Comforting,” she said in a shaky voice.
Moro leaned closer to her. “Through me, you’ll be able to sense a threat quickly. I’ll make sure you’re protected and are able to fight back.”
“Again. Comforting.” Her tone was beginning to become laced with sarcasm.
Suddenly, Selene extended her hand towards her. A bright light surrounded Hekate so overwhelming, she fell to her knees. The pressure caused her to grip her chest, urging the it to subside so she could breathe again. A burning sensation began to fill everything. Her entire body felt like it was on fire.
A pain rippled through her back as she leaned forward, hunching over her knees. Her bones cracked, her muscles tore, and she felt her skin begin to peel open. The pain sent a shock of electricity through her body. Biting her lip until she tasted the copper of blood, her mouth released, letting out a scream in agony. Something sharp pierced through the muscles and skin, only to fall to her sides, covering her in a softness that was unfamiliar. Only then did the pain finally begin to subside.
The softness continued to rub Hekate’s arms and shoulders as she heaved, attempting to remember how to breathe. After taking a few deep breaths, Hekate slowly opened her eyes. Still hunched over her fallen knees, she glanced to the side to see dark grey feathers settled along her arms. With only a thought, the wings shifted, moving out of view. The movement created a shiver as an odd sensation ran down her spine, and shoulder blades. She could feel the new bones and sore muscles move, allowing her to see her surroundings again.
Sweat covered her brow as she looked up. Selene was smiling, seeming satisfied with her work. “They don’t look too bad. Darker than I imagined. I wonder why,” she said as her voice trailed off.
Hekate’s hand reached back to inspect her new appendages. They were soft to touch, and she was left stunned. Only when she was able to stand did she realize something, “Where did the wolf go?”
Hekate twitched before freezing in place, her wings jerking to the movement. “What the hell…”
As said before. I am now attached to your soul. If you take another look around, you’ll notice your senses should have improved.
She was right. When Hekate looked at her surroundings again, everything was different. The haziness of the air had practically dissipated, revealing that they were in some sort of cave, with the top towering above them. The Gates were covered in the same mysterious characters that coated Selene’s armor. The broken Gate had similar characters, however, they glowed red. It was practically screaming something was amiss.
Through her marveling, she suddenly sensed something darker. Turning back to Selene, she narrowed her eyes to look past her and into the distance. A black cloud was moving and it was heading straight for them. Black lightening flashed across the cloud, barely noticeable at first. But as it approached, Hekate could feel the rumbling in her chest, telling her something was wrong.
Selene jerked her head up to see the one of the Gates was being slammed from the other side. An unnatural scream erupted as another Horseman was attempting an escape. Unconsciously, she Hekate raise her hand towards the door. A bright light flashed from her hand, shooting towards the characters on the doorway, causing them to glow a bright silver.
“What – ” Selene said in shock, but before she could finish her thought, a loud thundering sound rippled through the cave.
The thunder sound rippled through the air as the sound of claws scrapping the ground began to manifest. In a daze, Hekate turned to see through the black cloud heading for them. The creatures ranged in various sizes and colors as they approached. Each was beautiful and hard to take in. Although they appeared human, something was off. They had no gender, and their beauty was unnatural.
Claws scrapped the ground as they charged towards them. As they opened their mouths to screech an unholy sound, teeth sharper than anything Hekate had seen exposed themselves. They were demons. And they wanted to open the Gates.
Not quite sure what was going on, Hekate began to raise her hand again, this time towards the cloud. Selene shot forward, forcing her arm down. “Don’t!”
Hekate, you can’t! You can’t expel that amount of energy! It will kill you!
As is breaking her trance, Hekate shook her head. “What? What are you talking about?”
Selene stared at Hekate, shock covering her fierce features. There was no time, however, to ask questions. The hoard was approaching.
“Moro, take her home! Now!”
Before Hekate could argue, Selene turned her back to her, sword up. That was the last thing she saw before everything darkened. Again.