Story Name: Hellions
Rating: Mature (Explicit Content)
Synopsis: The armies of angels and the legion of the damned have opened opposing companies in the city of Waterside. Facing the worst spiritual downturn in modern history, the forces of good and evil have agreed to an unholy alliance. The companies are about to merge. Can Alastor, a havoc-loving demon, stop the merger from taking place before the Balance is disrupted forever?
If Alastor could have cackled, he would have. The doors to the elevator had barely opened before he was being shoved out. The archons scrambled through just behind him–noses pinched, eyes full of heavy tears. One of them even went so far as to fall to his knees and vomit. It was hard to imagine these weaklings as the demon-killers they were designed to be.
“Really?” Malphas asked, stepping out from the elevator with all the speed of a fucking eternity.
Alastor shrugged and pointed to his locked mouth. Malphas studied him for a moment, slipping into darkness as the elevator doors closed silently behind him.
The seemingly infinite chasm outside the Executive Office echoed with the water-muffled pleas of the drowning damned. The Drowned Lake’s black waters churned. After an exhausting few hours, Alastor found a moment of peace. The sounds of drowning souls and vomiting angels and the oppressive, heavy darkness. This was exactly the thing he needed to relax.
Also, the elevator fart joke thing was still pretty funny.
Ezekiel and his archon goons were slow to recover, but they managed. Alastor could hear them shuffling around in the darkness, confused and still plagued by his foul smells. Several of them apparently tried lighting up their heavenly weapons, only to be scolded for their stupidity by Ezekiel himself. Angelic powers were useless in Abbadon. The Agreement was pretty clear on that.
All confused talk ceased when a tiny light blinked to life far into the darkness. It bobbed closer at a steady speed, revealing the choppy waters of the Drowned Lake. It also revealed a portion of the ferryman Chiron, crooked over his long oar, expertly captaining his boat of bones.
That guy was weird.
Chiron’s mumbles grew louder as he approached. Now and then, he batted away the drowners in the lake, their wrinkled faces framing bubbly screams under the water. “Git! Hey!”
“Where are we?” Ezekiel asked, his shirt still drawn up over his nose. His eyes were focused on Chiron and the boat.
“The Drowned Lake,” Malphas explained, “outside the Executive Office.”
“This is the Executive Office?” asked one of the archons.
Malphas sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. His go-to move. “No, this is the lake of drowning souls outside of the Executive Office. Where would we have meetings in here? The fucking boat?”
“I don’t think you get–”
“Coins!” shouted the ferryman. Chiron never was good at picking up social cues. Probably why the Executives stuck him on the boat. Hell of a rower, though.
Malphas produced two shining, golden coins from his jacket and dropped them into Chiron’s long, crooked hand. Chiron sniffed them, for some reason, and let out a satisfied grunt. He and his boat spun silently around, as though he controlled it with some kind of magic. Wait, if he can do that, why does he row?
Malphas directed each of the archons onto the boat with an inviting gesture, but his expression seemed far from patient. The angels loaded onto the craft, each of them apparently fascinated by its construction. Made of bones and skulls, Chiron’s boat was truly a work of art. It wouldn’t make it on any major art circulations, but one had to admire the effort. Alastor couldn’t even fathom the hours it must have taken to get the bones to fit together. And, it didn’t even leak. Which, now that he considered it, was kind of weird.
He made a mental note to talk to Chiron more. Might even CC him on those hilarious office emails he was always sending out.
When everyone was loaded up, Chiron pulled the boat away, grumbling as he rowed into the sprawling dark. Despite how vigorously the drowned souls yanked against their chains and turned the water, Chiron navigated the boat with incredible care. Honestly, Alastor expected little else. It was the guy’s job, after all.
“Who are these poor dudes?” Ezekiel asked, peering over the side of the boat.
“Drowned,” Chiron hacked.
Malphas chimed in. “They’re the souls of mortals that let negativity drown their lives. People that let depression or anxiety or sadness hold them back from achieving their dreams. They never did anything to help themselves, so… they go here.”
Ezekiel’s brows curled in the way a dog’s does when it doesn’t understand a human word. He seemed disgusted at the shrug Malphas gave in reply.
“Why are they chained? Can’t they leave?” asked another archon. The squeaky one.
“No!” Chiron spat.
“You can’t do this to people!” one of the angels piped. “They deserve a chance!”
“The Man Upstairs made this place,” Malphas explained. “We just run it.”
Ezekiel and his archons, heaviness on their shoulders, retreated from the conversation without another word. They went back to looking into the waters, staring into the faces of the damned. It was an odd thing to do. The damned souls were forever trapped in the Drowned Lake. There was nothing that could be done for them. Why give a shit? It was the mortals outside that were the real concern.
The rest of the trip was pretty silent. The archons kept to themselves, huddled together in the back of the boat, holding hands.
Eventually, the double doors of the Executive Office came into view. Decorated with carved frescoes of seven horrible, twisting hellbeasts writhing amidst one another in an orgy of agony, the doors were lined with burning candles. Stalagmites of dried wax rose from the ground on either side of the doors. Chiron brought the boat to an easy rest on the rocky shore. The occupants departed. Chiron himself grumbled and went about changing the candles.
He kind of just… floated. Did he even have feet?
While Alastor pondered this, Malphas grabbed him by the arm. He kept his voice low. “I’m released the compulsion. Don’t say anything fucking stupid. Actually, if you can help it, don’t say anything at all.”
Alastor felt his jaw relax. It hung open for a moment, the muscles tired of being clenched shut. He was happy to keep quiet as he rubbed his mouth free of its soreness. He nodded an agreement with Malphas.
The doors to the Executive Office creaked open and revealed thick darkness, the smell of unwashed armpits, and terrible, unholy shrieking. Super loud unholy shrieking. Rudely loud, even. These sounds lasted for an uncomfortably long time. For some reason, it reminded Alastor of the time Malphas caught him watching kitten videos at the office and Alastor couldn’t close the browser fast enough.
The darkness was broken up by a series of sudden flickers that steadied into solid light. The seven faceless Executives sat at their long table, backs straight and black suits perfectly tailored.
A voice made of millions of voices broke the preceding silence.
“Please,” said… one of them. All of them? It was hard to tell. Without faces or mouths–just perfect heads of finely coiffed hair–one could never be sure which Executive was speaking. “Come in.”
The party filed into the virtually empty room. The doors clicked shut behind them.
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