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Descent



 
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Flahme

Coming out of a deep sleep with a start, Flahme sat upright when the whole room, including the bed she was in, dissolved. A small, dark room replaced her bedroom. The air was unbearably warm and stuffy, and as her eyes adjusted to the gloom, she heard the scratching of a match, then a flare of light as a small candle in the corner of the room came to life. Spinning around to see who it was, she couldn’t believe who was standing there.

“Father?”

“Ferra,” the tall, fair-haired demon known as Xaphan said warmly. He looked as if he would approach her, then stopped. “I’m sorry, I had to bring you here earlier than expected, but I have to warn you. It’s dangerous for you to come to Hell in such an open manner.”

Flahme shook her head, not understanding any of this. “How do you know I was going to?”

“We don’t have a lot of time, Ferra, listen to me. Find a way out of this. I can’t help you if things go badly. I only have enough pull where your own assignments are concerned. There are those who would see you never leave this place.”

“Janus asked for my help. I can’t turn him away. He may gain his freedom through this,” she said quietly.

“And you may lose your own in the process! Do you even know what he did to get here?”

Flahme wasn’t surprised that Xaphan knew to whom she referred without clarifying which Janus. “Yes! I know what he did, he told me himself, and he’s not that man anymore.”

“You would still stand with him? He’s going to get you killed, Ferra.”

“Stop calling me that!” Flahme yelled at him, fists clenched, eyes flaring red.

Xaphan shook his head, and for a moment there was pride in his eyes, quickly replaced by disgust. “He keeps things from you. You have no idea what you are walking into.”

“Well then it’s just a usual day for me, isn’t it? Thrown back to earth with nothing, not even shoes on my feet, and you dare talk about someone keeping things from me? And, please, don’t try to act like a father when we barely know one another.”

He clenched his jaw and nodded, “I deserved that. But know this, I would tell you everything if I could, and there will come a day when I can.”

“Janus will as well, and you don’t get to judge him. He means something to me.”

He looked at her for a long moment. “I hope he is worthy of your regard, daughter. There’s no convincing you is there?”

“No.”

“As strong-willed as your mother, and as beautiful. Don’t take that necklace off. Not even for a second. It has powerful magic in it, and will protect you,” he paused a moment. “Our time’s up, and I have to send you back now. I will see you at the end of your assignments, but I want you to know I never wanted this life for you…Flahme.”

The room melted, and she found herself in her bed again. Drenched in sweat, breathing heavy, she fell back onto the mattress with the last sentence her father said, ringing in her ears and tears in her eyes. At least he used her new name. Ferra was a vague memory of her time before Hell. She hadn’t even remembered it until he spoke it. She was no longer that person.

Somehow Flahme managed to fall back to sleep and, after a usual morning ritual of shower and breakfast, she dressed in light clothes, put her small bag across her body, then left her tiny place by 9:15 am. She wouldn’t be able to blink as there would be too many people around, so had to settle for walking there.

Flahme arrived at the Romeo and Juliet sculpture as requested fifteen minutes before the appointed time. As she walked towards it, she glanced up at the statue of the star-crossed lovers whose lives and love ended in tragedy. She hoped with everything in her that wasn’t to be the fate for her and Janus. The dream, visitation, or whatever it had been set her nerves on edge.
June 12, 2019 07:52 am

Janus


Janus awoke at 5am, startled. Heart racing, himself and the sheets he had curled up in over night were drenched in his own cold sweat. One could only assume he had peeled off his clothes throughout the night, his mind must have still been half-asleep as he had no recollection of doing so. Even now, with his tired eyes and heavy limbs, the only thing he felt was cold sweat dripping down his bare back. 

Nightmares plagued him these days, and had ever since his return from Paris. The occasional night terror would happen after his return from the depths of hell, but it was nothing to the terrors that awaited him in his sleep now. His dreams were of lashings, while watching a certain crimson haired femme slumbed in a dark corner across the room. The light in her eyes gone, her bright locks limp and lacking luster. 

Tearing away the bedding, he made his way into his small bathroom to get an early start on the adventure that awaited both he and Flahme that morning. Grimacing at the ring on his finger, he slid it off and hid it away into the overcrowded medicine cabinet. Its hinges were broken, the mirror that kept his belongings in threatening to fall off every time he opened or closed it. However, he wouldn’t particularly mind if its contents burnt to the ground. 

Janus was no stranger to these early mornings, and was even relieved he had managed to achieve more than a few hours of sleep that night. The seven or so hours he had spent in bed left him feeling rejuvenated, though he knew it would pale in comparison to what had become his favorite part in his morning routine. Still wrapped in a towel, steam rolling off his skin, he made way into the kitchen and poured himself a cup of coffee. The rich aroma filled the small kitchen, invading his senses and filling him with dread for their descent into hell. 

Once his cup was full, Janus pulled out a glass pitcher from his refrigerator and swirled the crimson contents around. Though the chilled and donated blood was nothing compared to drinking directly from the source, he had figured out through trial and error that it worked nonetheless. As a lowly demon, Janus didn’t need blood to survive like his somewhat demonic counterparts did. The only thing he had to gain from consuming it was power, and he would need more than his normal share if he were to survive the day. 

Indeed, Janus added enough to his cup to fill it completely to the brim, causing him to have to lean his face eye level with the mug and take a sip before carrying it off into the dining room. Before trudging off to his bedroom before, Janus had the sense to layout blueprints on his dining table. How Janus had acquired the blueprints to several separate layers of hell, including the god’s throne room and the gates, he couldn’t quite recall. The memories were no doubt lost during a night of drinking and gambling, the lesser demon’s favorite past time when they weren’t torturing mortals. 

It was 9am when Janus finally realized he had to be leaving soon, and he quickly threw on a change of clean clothes and left the safety of his apartment. If he had his choice, he would have locked himself and Flahme both in until he had deemed the outside world safe. Instead, he arrived at their meeting spot by 9:45, a fresh cup of coffee in hand. This one, wouldn’t be containing any blood unless Flahme so kindly offered to prick her finger of its contents. The act would drive him wild, and he would be sure to dance around it if she brought it up again. 

It seems that his friend had the same notion to arrive early, as he saw her heading to the statue from the opposite direction he had arrived. Holding a hand up in greeting, he let his a smile brighten his face slightly. 

“Fancy meeting you here.”   
June 12, 2019 08:29 pm

Flahme

Flahme continued to stare at the statue as she got closer to it, then noticed someone gesturing to her from her peripheral view. Turning her head, she saw Janus heading towards her and a genuine smile lit her face. Regardless of the odd night visitor and what her father’s words may or may not mean, she automatically felt better in Janus’s presence. She shook her head, wondering at the miracle of that.

As he got closer to her, she could see slight dark circles under his eyes, which also managed to accentuate his bruised eye that was starting to heal. Perhaps his sleep had not been much better than hers, and it crossed her mind that had she stayed the night with him, they both may have slept better. At least maybe dear old dad wouldn’t have been able to come and mess with her head.

When Janus was standing in front of her, Flahme threw caution to the wind, and with her nerves strung up like this, only he could calm her. Looking up at him, she stepped in close, making sure not to disturb the coffee he held. “I need this,” was all she said, then wrapped her arms around his waist and laid her head on his chest holding him tight. With her eyes closed, she listened to his heart beating, breathed in his scent and just stood that way until she felt herself relax. Finally stepping back from him, she beamed her best smile. “Yeah, what are the odds?” she said in response to his quip, then as if in apology for hugging him randomly, she looked away, then back at him. “I, ah, had a bad night. You don’t look like you slept any better than I did.”

Eyeing the drink in his hand, she remembered his statement about drinking her blood with his coffee and started to laugh. Feeling somewhat centred again, she flashed a cheeky grin. “Need some blood with that coffee?” she said flippantly, then sobered. “I mean it. If you think it will help, the offer is still there.” She had a small switchblade in her bag in case he wanted a taste of her. She held out her hand to tempt him.

“Is there anything else I need to be aware of before we go in, any contingency planning we need to have in place? I’m guessing hugging you like that is completely out.” Flahme asked fiddling with the ruby pendant Janus had given to her. It was funny that she placed trust in her father’s instructions not to take the necklace off yet entirely disregarded his other advice. She couldn’t imagine leaving Janus in his time of need. Everything would work out, it had to, or they would die trying.
June 15, 2019 10:01 am
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