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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

Janus


Janus felt his breath hitch in his tight throat as Flahme began closing the space between them, her words not much more than a whisper as she wrapped her arms around his waist. The feel of her pressed into him was devastating and soul shattering, and he realized as he released the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding, that he too needed the embrace. Resting his chin atop her head, he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and the familiar smell of her hair invaded his senses. 

By the time she stepped out of the embrace, Janus could feel his arms begin to ache. It was almost as if he was physically pained to be so far away from her, even if they were only a few steps apart. As she admitted to having had a bad night, he waved it off and gave her another smile. “I’m no stranger to fitful sleeping habits. I’ve adjusted to getting only a few hours of sleep a night. I’m sorry to hear that you struggled with the same.” 

Taking a long drink from his coffee, he used the time to study her carefully before he asked, “Are you nervous?” Though he didn’t expect her to admit it, he knew she would be as honest as she could be. It was foolish to not be at least a little nervous, even though she was more than capable of holding her own against anything that might cross their path. 

The offer of her blood had his face heating up, and Janus could feel his calm reserve slipping ever so slightly as she offered her palm to him. It was with a teasing smile Janus stepped forward and gingerly took her hand between his own, bringing his mouth near to her wrist. His russet eyes met hers as he placed a gentle kiss there, holding it long enough to feel her heartbeat begin to race. 

“I’ve already had my morning dose, thank you. I’d rather you save those precious few drops for if we run into any real trouble down there.” The reminder of their circumstances had him stepping away and glancing at his watch, something he had adorned only a few times before. Up on the surface he had no need for the trinket, but down below, one lost track of time. He had found before that he liked being able to track the days while he was left to rot in a cell. 

It was 9:55am. Their transportation would be arriving shortly, he would only have a few minutes to brief her on just who these people thought him to be. “You’re right. No hugging. Not until we get to Janus’ throne room. The real Janus. I’m not that important unfortunately.” He said, providing another teasing smile. “You’ve been around these creatures longer than I have, I trust you to know their social skills. The ones we will encounter leading up to the gates are lesser demons, harmless enough. They will smell the half demon in you, don’t let them know who your father is. The two picking us up are particularly playful and will use anything against you to lure you into playing a game with them.”

Janus cut off a low growl at the thought and continued, “I’ve no issues with the lesser ones. In fact, I almost enjoy them even though they’re the ones charged with kicking the snot out of me when someone things I deserve it. The ones guarding the gates though are clever and cruel. They will question me, perhaps both of us. I will dismiss them and gut one like a fish if he tries to lay a hand on you. These demons believe me to be cold, and ruthless. I have to be in their presence or they will torment me for the rest of my life. Janus hasn’t been good for much, but he did teach me that.” 

Heat then began to fill the air around them, the trilling of creatures and the splashing of water stilled in its wake. Whatever humans had been left wandering the surrounding area had vacated the premises, leaving only Janus and Flahme to experience the peculiar warmth. A metallic taste filled his mouth, and Janus realized he had been chewing on the inside of his cheek anticipating their black carriage. 

“Here we go.” 
June 16, 2019 08:05 pm

Flahme

Thrilled that Janus not only accepted her embrace but seemed to need it himself, Flahme smiled at him as she stepped back and nodded. “Yeah, I’m a little nervous, I don’t regularly go to Hell, Hell comes to me.” She bit her lip and laughed finally starting to feel a little better. “I understand, no hugging. Hopefully, they won’t figure anything to use against us. I don’t want to cramp your style.”

Flahme lost her breath as Janus’s mouth got closer to her wrist, and she thought he was going to bite her. Then he kissed her wrist at her offer of blood, it was so gentle, and his eyes holding hers made the moment infinitely intimate. Flahme was unaware she had been holding her breath until air automatically rushed in as her heart sped up. “Okay, it’s there if you need it and I have a little switchblade on me to help with that, or stick into the neck of a goblin, whichever comes first. Which reminds, what is the penalty for killing some of these useless f*cks?” It was probably good to know considering it might come to that.

The way Janus spoke of Hell and the creatures he had encountered made it sound like he went there regularly, it made her wonder how often that occurred. She also considered what happened when he did go there, clearly, sometimes he got a beat down, and Janus didn’t seem like the sort of person to just take one without putting up a fight. “Do you have to do this each time you have an assignment? Got to Hell, I mean,” she asked as he glanced at a watch she hadn’t realised he was wearing. “I’ve only been around a few high ranking demons. I can’t remember any of the time I spent here. For some reason, I have no memories of that time. I’m guessing that was my father’s doing.” It was at that point Flahme wondered if she should mention her dream or visitation with her father.

“I should tell you, I met with my father last night, hence the bad sleep. I can’t be sure if it was a dream, but I think he brought me to Hell. He is worried about me coming with you today, he didn’t like the idea of it, said he couldn’t help me if something went wrong,” she sighed and shrugged. “I didn’t figure on his help anyway.” She purposely left out the part about her father warning her against Janus. She believed that since he didn’t know Janus, his opinion was invalid.

Not letting on who her father was to the demons they would encounter, sounded like the best idea, and she nodded in agreement. She couldn’t help the grin that lit up her face when Janus talked about gutting one of the lesser demons if they tried to touch her. She always got a thrill when he let slip how much he cared for her. He didn’t have to say it; his actions showed her. “I doubt I will share your fondness of them, purely on the basis they deal out your punishment. Say the word, and I will incinerate them.” Flahme smile was less than friendly when she said that last part. “I’m glad you have found a way to keep them at bay, regardless of how you have to act to keep it that way.”

The heat that rose from the ground quickly became stifling, and Flahme looked around for the source. No humans or animals were to be seen or heard. At Janus’s words, a large black carriage arrived. It was massive and ornate and looked as if carved from obsidian. The glossy black surface pockmarked here and there with bright spots as if they were small volcanos superheated from inside unable to erupt. Steam rose off it as if it had just come from, well, the depths of Hell, and she half expected molten lava to pour out of it when the door opened.

Looking to Janus, to follow his lead Flahme stepped towards the carriage and prepared to step up into the interior.
June 17, 2019 08:45 am

Janus


What is the penalty for killing some of these useless f*cks?

A cruel smile twisted his mouth, and Janus chuckled at her language. Now that he was thinking of it, he wasn’t sure she had ever cursed in front of him before. A small comment here or there maybe, but never so bold as she was being now. Flahme was breathtaking, and he somehow found her foul mouth even more alluring. “When in hell, all are free game if they have offended you. However, in turn, you are free game for whoever comes seeking revenge on their dead friend or lover. It’s best to choose your battles wisely.” 

Her next question was an interesting one, and he came to realize that his dealings with the devil were peculiar, even among another demon. “No, not for every assignment. As I’m sure you’re well aware by now, I often go searching for trouble. Whatever part of me that had an affinity for getting involved in crime obviously didn’t die with my mortality.” His last visit had been a particularly unpleasant assignment, one that Janus was still seething over. Hence, their trip. 

“It’s not uncommon for some to forget their time there. Some things cannot be unseen, and I’m sure it’s easier for most to simply forget whatever it was they saw. I suspect the only reason I keep my memories of what happen there, are they can’t accurately wipe away the bad bits without me losing memories of my tasks.” Not that this thought had ever occurred to him before, as Janus had no prior knowledge of Flahme’s memory loss from the time she spent in Hell. He was also wondering if they had ever been unknowingly there at the same time before they met, the very notion made him feel closer to her. “Or, maybe it demonstrates how much your father cares for you to have you forget the atrocities you’ve witnessed.”

At the mention of her father visiting her, Janus stilled. Though he knew not who her father was, he worried what kind of image he had painted for himself. If her father was worried about Flahme coming with him, would her father be worried about his daughter spending time with a ruthless, vindictive protegee to the great god Janus? These thoughts twisted and blended with the worries already filling his overactive mind, putting him just that more on edge. He was determined that everything go exactly as planned. 

“Your father’s concern is well placed. This trip is not something to be taken lightly, but we’re just there to talk. We’ll be able to let down our guard in his throne room. Janus, I mean.” 

His grin mimicked her own as she mentioned incinerating his enemies, or friends. Whatever they were to him depending on the day. Friends and enemies were one in the same when you were dealing with the underworld. He thought for a moment on what a formidable duo they were, having the ability to easily gut or burn anyone who crossed their path or looked at them a certain way. Just as these thoughts ran through his mind, the stifling heat from their obsidian carriage stopped before them. The squeaky, blood drenched wheels coming to a halt a few feet before them. 

Janus cringed as he took a step forward, quickly followed by another as he shoved the driver away. The goblin had climbed down to help Flahme into the carriage, but he would be taking no chances. This would be the only kindness he bestowed until they reached the safety of either his personal chambers, or groveling at Janus’ feet. 

“Get back. I’ve called you here so that I might introduce my latest assignment to Janus. He would raise hell for me if he found your dirty little hands were pawing at my new wife.” 

Russet eyes flicked up towards Flahme’s face as he spat out the word wife, before he returned his gaze to the goblin and threw him the remnants of his coffee, where the cup instantly burned in the receivers hands. Its ashes fell to the ground, and Janus smirked as he shooed the driver away once more. “Don’t bother us. We have much to discuss. I hear they’ve left a few hollow beings inside my chamber for me to dispose of as I see fit, they’re yours if you’re able to hold your tongue on anything you might hear.” 

Trusting the goblin to take the offer, Janus climbed up into the carriage, sitting opposite Flahme. Clearing his throat, he smoothed out the wrinkles in his black pants, unable to bring himself to meet her gaze just yet. 

“I’m sure you have questions already.” 
June 18, 2019 11:03 am

Flahme

Something was happening to her. Flahme could feel subtle changes in her thought patterns, in her choice of words and her desires, especially for violence. It was apparent in the way she now thought of these goblins that would arrive with their carriage but also in the way she was seeing Janus. She felt more drawn to him if that were possible, and there was something skating at the edge of her mind, like a figure glimpsed out of the corner of your eye - never fully seen, and when you try to focus it disappears altogether.

If she had to pinpoint a moment when she noticed the first shift, it began when she visited her father in Hell. When Janus mentioned people forgetting their time in Hell due to bad things they may have seen or experienced, she instantly knew that was not the reason she had no memory of her six hundred years there. Her memories had been wiped, and unless she was very much mistaken, the small amount of time spent in Hell last night was enabling fragments of memories to trickle back into her conscious mind - the first was the memory of her real name. It was as if whatever spell was cast only remained intact provided she was on earth. What other memories might this trip to Hell bring back to her?

Then she heard Janus’s words about her father and his care of her and that subtle shift snapped further. “Or Maybe he’s just a selfish prick! I don’t think he cares for me one bit,” she said uncharacteristically harsh.

Becoming agitated Flahme stepped forward to get into the carriage when a goblin stepped close to assist her. She was about to tell it to get away from her when Janus spoke up. His voice dripped with disdain and superiority as he spoke to the creature and made him leave her alone. Flahme gasped when Janus referred to her as not only his latest assignment but his new wife. Sparing Janus a quick glare, she got into the carriage and sat rigidly as he demanded privacy for them from the snivelling goblins.

With his head bowed Janus wouldn’t look at her, so he couldn’t yet see how livid she was. Leaning forward, with red eyes blazing, Flahme spoke softly, with an undercurrent of steel. “You could have warned me you were going to say that, and I had better not be one of your assignments,” she looked away from him, as their carriage continued their descent into Hell. She was angry and hurt; the whole wife situation was still a sore point for her, regardless of how much she tried to maintain it wasn’t a big deal. It was, and she worried coming to Hell was going to show her just how much. Now he was passing her off as his fake wife, which was like throwing salt in an open wound. She tried reason; after all, he said he would act differently; she just hadn’t expected any of it to be about her.

Flahme wanted to ask him questions, but her mind was in such a muddle, and it felt as if something inside her was trying to claw its way out through her skin. Feeling uncomfortable, she changed positions and went to flick her hair over her shoulder when she saw it was glowing. Like the other changes, it was subtle, and she frowned noting there was a fiery hue emanating from each strand which made her red locks glow with vitality. “Janus, are you seeing this?” she asked, running her fingers through her hair completely ignoring she had been upset with him a moment ago. She leaned forward, gripped his hand and said quietly. “Something is going on; I’m changing, and I remember things from when I was in Hell,” then she voiced her real fear. “What if I don’t like who I was here, what if you don’t?”

As she looked into his warm russet gaze, his face so dear to her heart suddenly felt like a face she had known for far longer than a few months. Her brow furrowed as she got flashes of him in her mind, some quite intimate, and none of the images was since she had met him on earth. She shook her head, but more came through, and the conclusion she came to was that she had known Janus in Hell. They had been friends, no, much more than friends. Was this why they were so drawn to one another no matter how hard they tried not to be? The idea filled her with joy momentarily, and she almost blurted it out in her customary manner but decided to keep it to herself since she had no real proof of her suspicions.
June 20, 2019 06:14 am

Janus


Or maybe he’s just a selfish prick.

Janus forced himself not to do a double take at the venom in Flahme’s words. He was still reeling from the comment when he helped her into the carriage, and felt the flicker of muscles in his jaw as he clamped his teeth down to hold back the questions circling in his mind. 

Her anger only intensified in the carriage. The tension in the air was so thick under her stare, Janus felt as though he could have cut it with the knife currently strapped to his thigh. He was almost relieved when she spoke, despite the bite to her tone. “I wouldn’t have been able to tell you even if I tried. That was part of our agreement.” Clearing his throat once more, Janus finally met her gaze. Her emerald hues locked on him, he continued. “You’re not an assignment. If I was ever charged with such a thing, I would pay the price for refusing to obey orders.” 

As the carriage came to life and began blowing through the trees, unseen to the human eye, Janus crossed the space between them until he was nestled beside her on the bench. “Elisa was assigned to me, for matters I cannot discuss. I was sworn to secrecy, but I found a loophole. If you figured out on your own what she was, I wouldn’t be breaking any rules.” Janus smiled at this, and took her small hand in his own and gave it a small squeeze. “Our marriage has been a lie, nothing more, and nothing less. I had to hide it from you, because...I care for you and I couldn’t tell you the truth. I’m so sorry.” 

Not wanting his voice to break, Janus released her hand and returned to his original seating across from her. The familiar rush of magic, and other worldly darkness washed over them before he could realize they were passing through the veil that separates the human world and Hell. He knew it wouldn’t be long before they arrived at the gates, and as he looked back to her to tell her as much, he saw the unearthly glow filling her lustrous locks. He watched in awe as her fingers slid through the strands of her hair, and only met her gaze when she spoke once more. 

Her fiery touch sparked life into him once more, and he reveled in the warmth of her skin in his own icy clutches. There was another matter he would need to discuss with her, but that would have to wait. “Whether you like who you are there or not, I’m happy to report I like you enough for the both of.” Chewing on his lip, he started to say “Actually, I lo-” but before he could finish the carriage came to a halt. His almost confession would have to wait, as they had business to attend to. 

The puzzled expression on her face almost warranted his own barrage of questions, but before he could do so the carriage door opened. Their driver cleared his throat and gestured to step out. Janus, donning a grimace, let go of her hand and obeyed. Hell’s familiar sulfur and smoke scent infiltrated his senses as he stepped out and surveyed the guards. 

“Here we are. Welcome to Hell.” 
June 21, 2019 08:27 am

Flahme

The change in her language surprised her, and she wondered if it also surprised Janus, though he didn’t outwardly show he had an issue with it. Then he started to explain things to her. Things he hadn’t been able to tell her before, and she marvelled at the feelings this man brought out in her. It was impossible to stay upset with him when so much worked against him. Flahme was not his assignment and would never be, the news made her want to launch herself into his arms, but the agreement was no hugging, so she stayed still as his story unfolded.

Moving to sit next to her, heightened the intensity of her awareness of him. Like the other changes, Hell was bringing something out in her, and it also pertained to Janus. Her brow furrowed as he spoke of Elisa. While she wanted Janus for herself and now realised she had since the moment she met him, she still felt for the woman being caught up in this mess. Then he took her hand and squeezed it, and before she could squeeze back, he moved back to sit across from her. “I care for you too,” she said with sincerity, “and I wish you, and Elisa as well didn’t have to go through that. You’re not wearing your wedding ring, why is that?”

As she gripped his hand, she noticed how cold his skin was. It was an odd thing considering the warmth of Hell along with her physical temperature being higher than a human’s. The coolness of his skin was very soothing to her heat, but she hadn’t noticed it before, she was about to ask him the cause when he stated he would still like her no matter how being in Hell changed her and then she lost her breath.

“Actually, I lo-”

The carriage jolted to a stop, and it was apparent he wasn’t going to continue. Flahme almost leapt across the space between them to force him to finish the sentence. Her mind went into overdrive; her heart raced, eyes flashed crimson. Was he really about to say that to her? Perhaps it was to be something else; long to be out of this place, love sushi, located your brain for you. Yes, the last one. Regardless, she kept her emotions under control. Now wasn’t the time for grand gestures.

Smoothing out her features, Flahme alighted from the carriage in an aloof manner - a show
for the guards at the gates only. She flicked her fiery locks and momentarily wondered at what other powers she had now she was back in Hell. Being a half demon, she suspected most here were probably far more powerful than she would ever be. With no time to figure that out, she moved in closer to Janus with a confident sway to her hips and smiled up at him her emerald hues sparkling with mischief. Her show was part acting, part giving in to the person she was when she resided here.

“Did you ever think you would welcome me at the gates of Hell, Janus?” Flahme asked a
half-smile curving her lips. As they approached the gates, she expected the guards to fall back and open for them immediately. Instead, a big burly, demon, that had actual horns on his head stepped in her way and eyed her from head to toe. She allowed her eyes to flash red a moment, and he nodded in acknowledgement of…something. He then transferred his obsidian gaze to Janus.

“Back so soon, Janus,” he sneered. “Consorting with half-demons now. Once you tire of
her, hand her over to me.”

Baring her teeth at the creature, she snarled. She wanted to singe the rude demon but
remembered Janus knew these creatures and how to handle them better than she did.
June 22, 2019 08:52 pm

Janus


Flahme’s observation skills were as always, impeccable. Janus offered up a smile before saying through his teeth, “I couldn’t bare the sight of it much longer.” Though despite his clear discomfort at the mention of his wedding band, he was relieved that she returned his affections. 

It was only as he was watching her step out of the carriage that Janus truly felt himself come alive. Unsure of whether or not it was a show for him or the guards, he plastered a smug grin on his face as he admired the sway of her hips. Her confident gait was sure to have earned a nod of appreciation from even the guards, as boring as the b@stards were at their posts. 

The gleam in her eyes and the teasing lilt in her voice warranted a small chuckle on his part. “I can’t say I’ve ever thought of it.” Indeed, he had thought through many situations in private, and weighed his options in whatever difficult situation they may come to. The incident in Paris had sparked these thoughts of course, as he was adamant that he would never see anyone shoot at her again. If they tried, he planned to rip out the perpetrator’s throat with his teeth. 

Amusement fell from his face as he took in the all too familiar form of Asmodai. Though he had generally paid no mind to Janus, he didn’t appreciate his protege walking around like he belonged. In his words exactly, ‘The gods ought to have no place in the dealings of Hell.’ 

“What’s the matter As? Are you upset because you’ve forgotten your other two heads at home? Or because you’ve yet to succeed in convincing anyone to knock mine from my body.” Asmodai’s answering growl caused Janus to puff up his chest in response. “I’ll be keeping this one for myself, though I’d happily let her rip you to shreds at any given time.” 

Smiling at himself as the guards at the gate struggled to hide their chortles of amusement, he placed a hand on Flahme’s back and motioned her forward slightly. “Now, I’ve got some business to attend to. You may not take your job very seriously these days, but some of us do.” 

The look of disbelief on Asmodai’s face had Janus’ bones locking up, and he wondered if he had gone too far this time. For whatever reason, there were some demons who saw his abrasiveness as an admirable quality. Despite Asmodai’s position in governing seventy-two legions of spirits, he let them pass by without so much as a second glance over his shoulder. Someone would be paying the price for his smart mouth, Janus was just glad it wouldn’t be them this time. 

Fighting not to loosen his sigh of relief just yet, he nodded at the sentries positioned at the gate’s opening. The responding groan of the old obsidian gates was as always, breathtaking. The earth around them seemed to grumble in response, something Janus had always assumed was a great appreciation for the marvelous structure built into the earth’s very core. 

It was only once he was sure they were out of earshot that Janus bent down slightly and whispered, “Welcome home.” 
June 24, 2019 08:34 am

Flahme

The colossal demon was named Asmodai it seemed, and he and Janus were acquainted. More than that, Janus was purposely riling the beast, a fact Flahme found highly amusing. As she expected, he also put Asmodai in his place where her person was concerned, and she moved a little closer and offered the demon another snarl at the idea of ripping him to shreds, regardless of whether she could do it.

Glancing up with more appreciation of him, Flahme found she liked this edgy version of Janus as much as she enjoyed him before coming to Hell. She now understood his words that he would like her no matter what. She found seeing different aspects of him only enhanced her feelings for him.

With a hand to her back, Janus motioned her forward through the large black gates, a heavy rumble occurring as they swung wide to let them pass. They appeared to be in a courtyard where gnarled, twisted trees lined the area leading up to a vast building, with medieval architecture, made of black brick that had lights dotted here and there to show demons were in residence. The ground looked to be burned with cracks and fissures which flames leapt out of. She quickly ascertained this must be where the high-ranking demons and other affiliated types like the god Janus resided. She noted demons of different rank scurried about the place, often with lesser demons trailing them. It made her wonder at the odds of seeing Phenex. They didn’t part on good terms.

At Janus’s softly spoken words, she turned and offered him a brilliant smile and said just as quietly. “You are the only person I would want to be here with, experience this with.” Facing forward again, she looked up at the grand building, knowing this was where they were to enter when she stopped in her tracks as someone called her name.

“Flahme? It is you!”

Slowly turning, Flahme saw Dantalion walking briskly towards her. A grin lit her face as she moved towards him when he pulled her into a strong hug. Not as good as Janus’s hugs but a strong one all the same. She stepped back, shaking her head. “What are you doing here?”

“I live here what the Hell are you doing here? I told you what would happen if you came here.”

“Oh no, I didn’t die. I’m here with my friend, Janus,” she motioned behind her and glanced at Janus, his expression unreadable. Sh*t, was she not supposed to mention they were friends? “I didn’t mean what are you doing in Hell, but what are you doing right here, right now? I’ve got four items completed Dan, but each one is getting a little more...dangerous.”

“Your dad gave me a heads up about your whereabouts. You really shouldn’t be here. Just keep your wits about you and remember what I told you, there’s so much more you can do.”

Flahme nodded at his words then noticed Dantalion eyeing Janus, then nodded his head in greeting. However, she also noted neither man had a smile on his face. Some sort of telepathic guy thing seemed to be occurring, and she became concerned as they stared at one another sizing each other up. Then Dan’s gaze slipped to her. “I have to go, but it’s good to see you’re still alive.” Looking past her, he spoke directly to Janus. “Take care of her, or you answer to me.”

Flahme watched his departure confusion on her face then turned back to Janus. “Well, that was weird, he doesn’t get to tell you what to do. His name is Dantalion and he gave me my first assignment,” she said by way of explaining how she knew a duke of Hell. Once she had his attention again, she searched his face to understand what had happened then shrugged and gestured towards the building. “Lead the way.”
June 25, 2019 08:55 am

Janus


Undiluted joy filled his cold heart, and he felt himself grinning before he could stop himself. It was an effort to wipe the goofy smile from his face, and he found it even harder not to cradle her face between his hands and kiss her square on the lips. Of course only Flahme could make a trip to hell an enjoyable affair. 

Upon being called for, Janus went rigid beside her and only relaxed at the friendly expression on her face. He watched their exchange, keeping his ears open and his face schooled into a bored guise. Better to let the common passersby believe he didn’t care about the words they were speaking. Though he did cringe at the word ‘friend.’ 

Of course, that’s what they were. Friends, no more, nothing less than great friends with what he had deemed an unbreakable bond. He would let no one, friend or foe get between that bond. When the demon Dantalion’s gaze drifted towards him, Janus locked eyes with him and gave a ****y smile. Dan’s warning was kind on Flahme’s part, but he didn’t appreciate being threatened. 

So, in a nature very much himself, he wrapped an arm around Flahme’s waist and pulled her close. Though her heat should have been near scorching in the depths of hell, he found comfort in the warmth radiating from her slender form. “You’ve got nothing to worry about friend, I’ll be sure to keep her close for safe keeping.” 

Once the demon had stepped away, Janus released her and studied her expression for any explanation she could have offered to him. Janus was shocked to hear that they were so pleasantly familiar despite him having assigned Flahme her first task. He made a mental note to himself to question her about that later. Right now they had business to attend to. 

“As you command.” Janus flashed his teeth in a brief smile before turning and leading them towards a large building. The columns at the top of the steps held up an intricately carved marble roof where gargoyles of varying sizes were perched on ledges, their screeches piercing ears of passerby. 

More important demons, and lesser ones alike made their way in and out of the building in a hurry as Janus led them up the steps. Occasionally he would lift a hand in way of greeting as various demons whispered his name as they passed. Only the cruel smile twisting his lips would indicate that he found their exchanges unpleasant. 

Entering the lobby, he motioned towards a large set of doors leading into the main hall and turned his attention towards Flahme. “That’s where Janus has set his council chambers. Are you sure you want to do this? It’s not too late to back out.” 

Just as Janus finished speaking, a barking laugh filled the antechamber and he stilled. The booming voice that followed ethereal, demanding, but friendly in a peculiar way. “My boy! What a surprise. Come, come, get in here. The rest of you, GET OUT.”
June 27, 2019 08:41 am

Flahme

A bright smile lit Flahme’s face as Janus’s arm slipped around her waist, and he pulled her into his body. A new memory flashed through her mind of them stood in just this manner once before, she could make little sense of when this occurred, but it was not a memory from her recent time on earth. This convinced her they had known one another when they were both here. She didn’t want him to release her, but he did after Dantalion moved away.

At her request, Janus led them further into Hell towards a large building with gargoyles perched atop it. It took her a moment to realise they were real as some opened their throats to screech, and others took to the sky, great wings flapping furiously. Her focus came back to Janus, and Flahme gripped the back of his shirt so as not to lose track of him as she glanced around fascinated with this fiery place. If she had been to this particular building before, it sparked no memories.

Janus nodded to demons of varying ranks as they headed up the stairs of the building, some whispered his name. He was clearly well known in these parts, and he barely spared them a glance or at times gave a slight wave of his hand. His gruff demeanour at odds with how he was when they were alone. Then he abruptly stopped when they reached the top of the stairs. She released his shirt as he turned towards her and motioned at the set of large doors they now stood before. As they walked through together, he stopped in the antechamber to what she realised must be the throne room of Janus, the god. She would soon meet who Janus answered to.

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

Looking up at him, with no fear in her eyes, Flahme focused her emerald gaze on him, and everything around them fell away. “Of course I’m sure, Janus,” and before she thought not to, she slid a hand up his chest, curled her fingers around his neck, then pulled him down to her and laid a soft kiss on his lips. Lingering over the taste of him a moment before breaking the kiss, she moved back, their lips separating slowly. The world rushed back in, and she smiled at him and nodded - their first kiss. At least the first they would both remember.

A great bellow sounded from within the next room, and her head turned towards the voice that called Janus ‘My boy!’. A small chuckle escaped her as she stood close to Janus waiting for him to enter the doors, wanting to stay at his side. They approached the throne together, and demons, lesser demons, and other beings she had no name for scurried out. Flahme wasn’t sure if she was supposed to bow or curtsey. She had only ever dealt with demons, what does one do in front of a god?

The god before her had a regal air about him. A handsome face with a short shock of white hair and a full beard. Dressed in dark clothing, she had half expected the Roman god to be in a toga with a laurel about his head. Even though he was seated, she suspected he was of a similar height to her Janus. He looked her over thoroughly, especially searching her face as if to determine some secret. She fidgeted with her ruby necklace and edged closer to Janus as he continued his scrutiny. Finally, he released her gaze and looked directly at her companion. “Come closer, both of you! I had not expected to see you again, so soon. To what do I owe this pleasure?”
June 28, 2019 08:39 am

Janus


The featherlight kiss Flahme placed on his lips had his head spinning, and he felt the rest of the surrounding area fade away as he breathed her in. Before Janus had much time to consider otherwise, he snaked his arms around her waist and laid his palms flat on the small of her back. Their kiss was over all too soon, but if the god bellowing from inside the hall decided to strike him down, he was grateful to be able to die happy. 

“You amaze me. Every day.” He whispered in her ear before pulling away, gently grasping her hand and pulling her inside the great building. Still grasping one of her hands, Janus pushed forward one door from the set of double doors in front of them. He had never felt better under the god of doorways scrutiny than he did with Flahme at his side as they strutted. The smirk on his lips practiced, and not quite meeting his eyes. He was many things, an arrogant man not one of them. It was one of many faces he adorned to make a living, and stay living all the while. 

“It’s good to see you, old man.” The hearty laugh that followed had the room grumbling in its wake, and the ancient roman god Janus wiped away a happy tear from his eye. Despite the playfulness between them, and the casual way they were able to regard one another, Janus dropped to one knee as he approached. The smile curling his mouth upwards fell and the expression that replaced it was grim, and he felt as his mouth thinned into a line as he considered his words. 

“We’re here on business, unfortunately.” Motioning towards Flahme, Janus kept his eyes locked onto his superior. “My friend, Flahme. We met on the surface and we’ve grown close during our time together. I’ve asked her here to testify on my behalf, for my freedom.” Taking a moment to swallow the growing lump in his throat, Janus peered over at Flahme before continuing. 

“She may be the only woman above or below, that would willingly allow me to bring her here. Flahme knows everything, I’ve admitted to everything. Through her, I’ve truly seen the error of my ways and I’m determined to repent for them. I love her.” Chewing on the inside of his cheek, Janus examined the god before him. The playful smile on his lips had fallen, and instead he stared at the pair wide eyed. 

“This is some kind of joke, isn’t it?” He bellowed, rising from his place on his throne to examine them both further. With calculated steps he descended the small set of stairs before his chair. His gaze flitting back and forth between them until he stopped before his kneeling prodigy. “Get up, you great buffoon.” A snarl ripped from his lips as he peered down at him, watching as he obeyed and they were now face to face. 

“Honestly, only you two would be capable of finding each other all over again.” 
July 04, 2019 07:50 am

Flahme

Standing with her hand in his, Flahme wouldn’t be anywhere else in this world but by Janus’s side. The words whispered in her ear a moment ago still rang through her mind. She stayed next to him as he released her hand and went down on one knee in front of the god Janus. This wasn’t surprising, but it wasn’t clear if she needed to as well. After all, she didn’t answer to this being. Janus’s "old man" quip had her biting her lip to stop from laughing; he did seem to enjoy ruffling the people around him.

The god’s eyes flickered between them as Janus began to explain the purpose of their visit. Flahme had thought over what she might say that could sway the god to release Janus from his service. As Janus spoke, she nodded in agreement to show her willingness of being here then her head snapped to him when he uttered the words he had almost said in the carriage. His confirmation that he felt what she already felt for him.

“I love her.”

Beside herself with joy, Flahme’s slender frame crackled with the energy pouring off her. Memories flashed through her head as if his words had ripped open the locks. All of them of her and Janus; the moment they met in Hell, the years they spent with one another, the good times as well as the struggles they faced. Every second stitched together with the love they shared.

So engrossed by her new memories, Flahme didn’t immediately understand the implication in the god’s words.

“…finding each other all over again.”

“You knew we were together before? Did you do this?” she demanded of the god.

“I knew? Your words suggest that you knew, and you don’t get to interrogate me!” he shot back at her.

Eyes flashing crimson with anger, she spared the god a glare before turning to Janus. Holding his russet gaze with her emerald one, there were so many things she wanted to say to him that she barely knew where to start.

“I love you,” she said then licked her dry lips, whatever else she had to say, that was the most important. “I have since we first met. I didn’t understand why I could feel that strongly about someone so quickly, but now I know. We were together here in Hell. The moment we came back here, the memories have been coming back, and they are all of us,” then she grinned at him. “Fated, we never stood a chance.” She desperately wanted to go to him and shut the world out, but she was here for another reason, so instead took his hand in hers.

Turning back to the god, she sighed and then squared her shoulders to set forth her plea for the release of her anam cara. “I know all about the life Janus lead and why he ended here. He did terrible things, for no good reason most of the time. When he killed that kid, he already regretted his actions. So much so that he couldn't live with himself any more. Truth is, Janus had changed before he even got here. In the time since, he has done everything asked of him and helped so many people on earth, some who didn’t even know they needed it. And with me, he has been…” she paused, smiling when she thought of how Janus was with her, had always been with her. “Well, anyway. The point is, I would not have fallen in love with him if he was still that man.”

The god, Janus, shook his head at them. “Are you so certain? I swear the two of you will be the death of me. Thank you for your impassioned words, they will be taken under consideration,” he said then moved back towards his throne.

“Please, we have lost so much time already, I don't want to be parted from him again.”
July 05, 2019 10:17 am
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