Ephemeral strawberry scented vapors churned around me in contented solid caressing motions
Some kind of hard-core goth metal electronica played from an unknown source,
Pulsating through my veins,
I was in a field lit up by moonlight on a burgundy velvet brocade picnic blanket
A glorious feast spread out before me upon golden platters
With golden jewel encrusted goblets and ornate aureate cutlery
Glinting fiercely in the moonlight
Beside me sat Azrael looking decadently resplendent in black and purple velvet
I'd a taste for royalty by now, my own corseted dress of scarlet velvet and crimson satin
We casually licked snow cones,
As Azrael absently stroked the iridescent hide of a massive lizard
I smiled seductively at him,
And a drip of water began thumping on my nose, softly at first then more persistently
I looked heavenward for the source of the water
The sky swirled in increasingly dark and red tones and a hand comprised of flame
Plunged down to pluck me from my little slice of paradise,
As the blazing fingers wrapped around me in a deathgrip I began to scream
Azrael continued to lap his tongue at the snow cone
Giving me little more than a perfunctory glance,
As the fiery claw hauled me upward at a dizzying speed,
The water still thwacking at my nose;
My eyes flew open to take in some rather glorious serpentine finger armor tapping my nose,
Following the arm up to the face of my tormentor I beheld Azrael glaring down at me
He ceased the tapping as he realized I was now conscious,
He stood still waiting for me to get my bearings,
After some excessive blinking I took in my surroundings
Arms shackled to a stone wall,
The walls and floor little more than a hovel hollowed out of the ground,
Blackened holes randomly dotted the floor
Shackles and torches hung from the walls
The ceiling a sort of mystical barrier
Through which the Lake of Fire above could be seen,
The screams of the damned leaking through
In a chilling muffled caught in the wind sort of way
A blast of scaldingly hot air blowing in through a dimly lit upward sloping hallway,
Then to one side of the corridor my beautiful gilded red flame sword
Upon an iron-wrought pedestal and encased in a soft blue glowing forcefield,
Magical protection I assumed
Next my own discomforts assailed me, my harsh breathing, so foreign to me now,
My stomach coldly gnawing upon itself in hollow ripping pain
The sensation of some toxic substance rolling through my system
A general dizzy weakness pervaded my corpse
Azrael shifted his weight drawing my attention sharply
His face peeved but curious swimming before me,
"My, Gillian, how you've changed...." he drawled
With a flick of his wrist he conjured a full length gilt mirror
In a puff of dark purple smoke
"Funny how the physical changes didn't really manifest until
After you were removed from the living flame of the Lake, wouldn't you say?"
Moving the mirror closer, he gestured for me to take a look
Peering into that mirror seeing what I had become, it really hit home -
I was not human any longer, I was a member of the undead
I gulped, my eyes held so wide I thought they might split at the corners
My skin once a pale peach now stark white with a luminous electric blue under tint,
My lips once a pale dusk rose now a wicked dark candy apple red,
My eyes once a plain muted shade of blue
Now a macabre freakish ice blue ringed in blue violet
At both the inside and outside edges of the iris,
My hair once a dishwater blonde now a lustrous thicker long blue-black
My teeth sharper, pointier,
My build more busty and athletic than in life,
Long blue nails bordering on talons
And I seemed maybe three inches shorter too, cute,
Plus either the mirror was not held steady or I was trembling, probably the latter,
Azrael sent the mirror back from whence it came and
Loomed in closer, wrinkling his nose at my undead scent,
I sniffed but could make out nothing strong, less sulphur smelling than in the Lake,
He still smelled of delicious frozen deserts,
In a menacing tone he blurted, some of his usual suave smoothness vanishing briefly,
"So tell me Gillian, what have you done?! We're you seduced by a necromancer?!"
Sounding like a jealous lover, he made my barely beating heart skip a beat,
Regaining his composure he tried in a cajoling tone to get me to fess up,
"C'mon, you can tell your ol' pal Azrael,"
Snickering weakly my shaky fists clenched and unclenched,
The thought of he and I being closer than we were caused my flesh to crawl deliciously
And butterflies to burst in my belly,
But I had my pride to rescue so I retorted hotly,
"The thought of you and I as pals sickens me to the core Azrael,"
I drew out his name like it was a curse upon my lips,
Putting up a good show, I wondered at the glint in his eyes if maybe he was onto me,
He took my chin between his thumb and forefinger,
"Look, angelcake, we could spend decades playing mind games and hurling insults,
But I think instead that the hunger coursing through your nubile carcass
will make you insane within days,
So why don't you just give it up and tell me what happened?"
I spat on the floor, “I’d rather be insane!"
He closed the distance further, exasperated and right in my face he said,
"Have it your way, sweetheart. I'll leave you to stew in your maddening hunger for now,
Perhaps after a week you'll be more amenable to conceding,"
Pulling away abruptly he gracefully stalked towards the corridor,
His cape swishing as he muttered something about women under his breath,
The guards from before, Hekyl and Mikot, emerged from the corridor,
Azrael barked, "Maintain this post until I re-assign you.
And remember worms, she's of non-violatory status. And don't touch the sword."
As he faded from my vision my eyelids grew heavy
And I lost consciousness feeling even more certain
The Elim weaponry had somehow poisoned me;
What followed were sporadic periods of consciousness in which
Azrael would appear and try to cajole and coerce the story out of me,
My own personal Inquisition,
Azrael filled my every waking moment whether he was there or not,
His methods were outrageous,
I was in Hell, Lake Pit #12, being tormented by the Prince of Darkness,
The guards exiting each time to give him privacy,
Yet I knew he was going very soft on me,
Which only tormented me further with heartbreaking confusion,
The madness he spoke of was very real and powerful,
The only times I experienced any lucidity were when
Azrael was there half-assedly torturing me,
His stints of questioning me, toying with me
Were, in fact, a break and relief from the times when he wasn't there
When I was alone with my madness, the guards barely noticeable,
His methods brought out a side of me I never knew existed,
Whippings, Chinese water torture,
Intense circular questioning sessions under piercing light, extreme abrupt loud sounds
And smells even more noxious than sulphur,
Near seductions where he'd tease me until I was ready to pop
Then leave me high and dry saying he'd finish what he started
Only if I spilled the beans,
Things of that nature,
One evening -
As he whipped, lash then question, lash then question, I kept tight lipped,
Soon my screams turned to moans as I became accustomed to the sting of the whip,
My perception having shifted after
Looking him in the eyes and seeing him cave on some level,
It felt more harsh caress than sound beating,
After that session he never whipped me again as it had defeated him more than me,
Again I say he could have hit harder and used even crueler methods
He could have revoked my non-violatory status or violated me himself,
There are so many horrible things he could have done, compared to what he did do,
Things my spirit wouldn't have recovered from,
Things that were not only easy to come by in Hell but generally accepted and encouraged,
His intention never lay in cruelty, he needed me to talk,
To tell him what happened so he could fix the security breach, catch the culprit,
And help me adjust to my new nature and to get me fed and well again,
All things he could not do if he could not find out what happened,
How I'd been changed and by whom or what,
And as time progressed I knew without doubt
This was the only way he'd been taught to socialize
That he came more frequently because he liked spending time with me
That his reality was even lonelier than the one I'd known in life,
It was what I was pondering in a semi-conscious near lucidity,
The kind of near lucidity that told me he was near,
Several months into my stint in Lake Pit 12,
My head lulled back and forth weakly as I tried to see where he was,
Azrael was not there though, but he had been in the dream I'd just awakened from,
I struggled to hold onto my sanity,
The hunger eating at me, my emotions wreaking havoc with me, the poison,
I would have lost the battle if
I hadn't just then began to really hear what was going on in the far corner of the room,
It was my guards Hekyl and Mikot,
They were drinking, carousing, gambling, swearing, gossiping like school girls,
The boredom must be getting to them, hopefully they could distract me,
"Aaacckkk!!! Lucky roll, Mikot! Ya filthy bastard!
Don't think I won't still kick your filthy arse!"
Mikot took a swig of ale, "Piss an' moan ya fuckin' pansy!"
Another swig, then "Eh well, anyhow wot d'ya s'pose 'is dark swishiness has us
Guarding this bint for?
I mean 'snot like she's going anywheres,
Specially not wif all them seals keeping all non-employee types in the lake..."
Hekyl scratched his head and scrunched up his ugly green face in thought,
"Well I fink maybe the master jus' don't want her runnin around irritatin the Lake workers,
I heard she caused to'al pandemonium a bit ago,"
Mikot threw his skull embossed dice, grimacing at his unlucky roll,
"Yeah, Hekyl, maybe so but I fink there's gotta be more to it.
I ain't never seen 'is royal shirtiness so... well, animated afore.
An' he pacifically tol' us she's of a non-violatry status.
I mean I know he ain't as into this whole Prince of Darkness thing
As 'is old man had been, 'e kinda got shoved into it
When the ol' devil skarkered off.
Man I miss the ol' days, Lucius sure knew how to treat a minion -
Beatings, foul language an' proper name calling,
An' all the violatin' of the damned we could stomach,
Ya know wot I mean Hekyl?"
Hekyl nodded in acquiescence, "Eh sure, Azrael ain't kicked me once 'is entire reign,
I feel neglected sumfin' fierce,
Oh an' the way he's been barely torturing that lovely bit o'er there
Me feeble mother could do more damage blindfolded wif one hand tied behind her back!
I'm finkin' maybe Master 'as designs on this bint an' don't fancy no leftovers,"
Hekyl pulled out a jar of what looked like giant insects and began munching on them,
Mikot also grabbed some grubs, and proceeded to respond through a mouthful of bug guts,
"Aaha, don't know why I didn't fink of that...guess I was all
In shock wot wif 'im bein' sumfin other than bored shitless for once,"
Hekyl finished chugging his mead or whatever the hell alcohol they were drinking
He poured more into his mug out of a ridiculously huge container while he spoke,
"Speakin' of, I'm bored shitless meself here.
Didn't there used to be hot pokers in fire pits
An' racks of like chainsaws an' such in here?"
Mikot grinned, his fangs glistening in the fire light,
"Guess 'is stuffiness didn't want us tempted eh,"
Hekyl let out a huge belch, "Well true but I maintain 'ot pokers could've
Afforded us some entertainment, the master never said we
Couldn't drag in another lake dweller for a bit o' fun..."
Mikot rolled the dice,
I got the impression they'd lost track of their gambling long ago
But kept rolling out of habit,
Mikot wagged his finger as he spoke, "Too true, Hekyl!
But I fink maybe the torturin them wot's damned to the Lake of Fire
Wif hot pokers is maybe more 'an a lil' redundant an' pointless,
They've had plenty of heat tormentation,
I fink spiders or sumfin not fire-like fer them...."
At this point I tuned them out, my thoughts drifting aimlessly,
Yet always returning to Azrael, something my demon guards said
Stirring up this irrational sense of hope concerning him,
From the sound of it Azrael may have more than a passing interest in me
I practically drooled, which only served to remind me of my hunger again
It was ridiculously brutal now, and with the poisoned feeling always hovering inside
And I was out again, visiting with Azrael in the dreamscape
Where he was always tender with me, never letting the horror of his job
Seep into our dreaming interludes,
Now I was sure that he was genuinely projecting into my dreams personally
Treating me the way he secretly desired to
But could never afford to be caught doing in the waking world;
The next time I awoke the pit was darker than usual,
For a second I thought I was alone,
Then near the path up to the Lake floor I saw Azrael
Leaning against the wall, arms crossed, one foot propped up against the wall,
His eyes were ablaze with what I hoped was passion,
I thought I might be dreaming again,
It's so hard to distinguish between the two some days,
But once the hunger pain and poison hit and my stomach growled audibly
There was no doubt I was awake,
Azrael pushed off of the wall and approached casually,
Though his eyes told a different story,
He drew near and my breathing dropped off,
Which was just as well the breathing was little more than an emotional response
And useful for speaking, I had a feeling I didn't even need to breathe,
He gave me an intense searching gaze looking for I don't know what,
When he finally spoke he was barely audible,
"Gillian, what is this to you?"
At a loss, I remained silent,
How did you like this installment? Where do you think will happen in episode 10.2? What is your favorite image from the opening scene? What do you think of Hekyl and Mikot? They are likely to reappear in the series occasionally as they are a blast to write.
~ Christina Nabity
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Up Next - 10.2: Lake Pit 12 continued