press restart, your game is over

Tick, tick, tick.  After, what, four hours? three? of running through the winding hallways, feeling like I was in a rat maze in a laboratory. Surprisingly enough- or do I dare say conveniently enough- I was crouched outside of Allaketo’s room. There was a an analog clock kind of like the ones you see in classrooms hanging across from where I sat, and the corridor was so silent that I could hear every single tick of the seconds counter, one by one counting down to the moment where he’d surely find me. Maxine, are you going to just sit here, or are you going to actually to in and just kill Allaketo already?
I don’t know, brain… I reached into my bra and pulled out the plain kitchen knife, an inch wide, and gripped the handle tightly enough to make me fear breaking it for a moment.  I’ve never actually killed anybody before.
Maxine, you idiot! You have the opportunity to end this whole senseless war right now, right within your very own hands, and you hesitate because you’ve never killed anybody before?
Well, the rebels’ strategy was to refuse to kill anybody…
And look where that got them. Faded into nonexistence once Emma got captured. Probably thought that the possibility of her ever coming back to daylight was so far gone that they simply gave up. Go, Maxine. Go now.
Slowly stretching my legs, I rose up. For once, I actually felt kind of… powerful. Seeing as it was nearing  midnight, I expected Allaketo to be fast asleep- but no, for when I gathered the courage to pull open the very unguarded door and peer in, he was very much awake.
“What…” He turned around from the mess of runes that he’d drawn out on the floor, at least a dozen lit candles surrounding them. Putting his hands together, he whispered, “Oh, Maxine! What a pleasure! What have I done to garner the attention of one of the most beautiful people in Soona Bris?”
His out-of-characterness made me pause in confusion. “Yeah, well… you were trying to kill me or otherwise make my life a living hell until now. I don’t think that ‘pleasure’ was reciprocated.” I had the knife still hidden behind my back, stroked by a few strained fingers.
“Please, sit down.” He got out of the rune circle and pulled out a chair from his little kid-size table, gesturing for me to sit right there. “I wouldn’t want you to miss me creating my new world.”
“New-” Indignation crossed my face before it was replaced with fear at a shadow just flying straight out of the floor in the middle of the rune circle, forcibly taking the hand holding the knife and making me drop it, clattering onto the hard wood as I was strongly pulled towards the chair and made to sit down. But I had forgotten my shoes back in the small closet that I’d sneaked into the night before in order to sleep peacefully, and I could grab the handle of the knife with my right foot.
“Ah, so Maxine brought a weapon with her?” Allaketo came closer, and I could smell the stench of his lack of recent showers on his matted fur. “That’s nice. You can keep that, by the way. I’d like to see you make an attempt to kill me with all these shadows at my command.”
“Thanks for the invitation. Now I won’t feel guilty for assassinating you.” But he wasn’t listening, and he’d already turned back to his rune circle and started chanting faux-Latin at it, more and more shadows coming out.
Those aren’t shadows, Allaketo. Those are Mithrae.
And indeed they’d already started to form humanoid shapes but still no more solid than a cloud of smoke, the exception being the one lone Mithrae who’d been bound to my right wrist. Allaketo was shouting commands at them when they’d become formed enough to see the vague impressions of their faces, but they refused to move, instead just clogging up the room when more and more of them came in.
“Come on! You’ve got to kill Em-” he’d give up on fancy languages at this point and was shouting in English- “I mean put Emma Vane out of her misery, you need to do the same to Maxine, you need to…”
“Revertere ad nos dilectum tempus propositum adimplere,” all of them chanted at the same time.
But someone knew what to do, for the door shut and opened a few times, each one taking more time than the one before, and then a dark streak that I knew had to be Calum streamed in and circled the ceiling chandelier a few times before dropping into the middle of the rune circle and shifting back into his human form. “Someone called?”
“Camael-athaelus, do you remember what we discussed in school regarding interactions between humans and the untrained?”
He rolled his eyes, clearly exasperated at having been called by people from home only to be schooled in ways of thought that he hadn’t felt the need to continue here. “Don’t give any information about Gehenna-Altaris, only engage when completely necessary…”
“You forgot one.”
“Oh, you mean the don’t form any emotional bonds whatsoever? Because I kind of already failed that. I mean, I saved the right-” and Calum shot death glances at Allaketo as he said the next part- “queen from an impending death, and I didn’t even know her. Then I got tangled up in some weird friend squad or something, and the next thing I know, I’m almost taking pity on these humans and part-humans for how helpless they are compared to us. It’s real easy, you know? And we can help, but we never do-”
“That is all, Camael-athaelus.” The speaking shadow turned from Calum to Allaketo now. “Care to tell us why you summoned us again?”
“I… uh… Just go put Emma out of her misery.”
“You didn’t say please. And, no matter how much we don’t like to get tangled up in human affairs, we don’t just go and kill someone because we were told to.”
“But you’re demons-”
“Yeah, and you’re supposed to be a conservative Christian, and yet here you are, dabbling in witchcraft. Not all of us are coldblooded chaos causers, Allaketo. We have morals too. Don’t confuse the law-abiding citizens and selected and trained people you see sitting here- Calum excluded, of course, but his presence here is your fault- for the few rogues who have given us a bad name.” The Mithrae got closer to Allaketo. “Truth be told, your continuing existence pisses us all off, Mithrae and humanoids alike.” He cast his eyes to me and held out his hand. “Your knife, Maxine.” The one shadow that had my wrist released it, enabling me to give the Mithrae the knife, which he took and held up to Allaketo’s neck. “And one good swipe of this past your skinny neck- why do zorphs have such horribly-designed necks anyway? Evolution must not have treated them well- would fix all of our problems for us.”
“Oh… Oh my god…” The weight of what was about to happen finally reached Allaketo, and he looked even more disgusting with cold sweat under his layers of matted and greasy fur. “No… please… I can give you anything you like! Riches, immunity from my regime, a place in the government-”
“None of your Zorphian crap interests me. I like Gehenna-Altaris far better than this dimension, anyways.” All of the Mithrae’s eyes turned to me at that moment. “Maxine, if you could please wait in the hallway, that would be most appreciated.”
“No, I want to see the person who-” I clenched my fists, heat growing me that I hadn’t felt before today- “who almost killed my girlfriend, who denied her the throne she worked hard to secure and make flourish, who ever actually did something good for this country… I want to see Allaketo die.”
“Alrighty then.” Allaketo’s eyes widened, and he started shouting some rushed drivel about how anticlimactic his death would be and how kings deserved better before the Mithrae raised the knife, prepared for a sideswipe. But just as I would have gotten my wish, I closed my eyes and covered them with two trembling eyes, and there was a snick and a horrid fleshy noise, and then complete silence.


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