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The Warden

(A continuation to Dark Beginnings)

She felt nothing.

The agonised shrieks of the damned, the cries and slurring voices begging for release, the ringing of clashing metal and the tearing of flesh was ignored. A terrifying woman dressed in darkness, known only as the Warden, had long since learned how to tune them all out.

She did not relish in the pain that caused so much joy to the creatures she ‘worked’ with. There was no reason too; she sought none trapped beneath the sulfur and brimstone filled air, she took no pleasure in the eternal punishment being brought down upon the guilty souls.

Only one soul’s agony would have brought her pleasure; but he was far from her reach. She had tried to catch the man, the angel, who had caused her so much pain. Oh, how she had tried.

Yet, it was her who was stuck here; surrounded by the suffocating heat and never-ending noise. But, she supposed, better to serve in Hell, then to suffer in it.

She sighs as she marches up the steps, heels clicking upon the stone. She hadn’t set foot in his palace in ages. She wondered why he, the Lord of Hell, had summoned her. He hadn’t called her in so long, aside from the occasional report.

She wondered who had messed up this time.

When he desired to see her for casual or personal reasons, he came to her; calming her wretched soul and passing the time with long conversations. Though, they were usually one-sided; she wasn’t a very vocal being. Luckily, the devil loved to talk, and with his silver-tongue, listening wasn’t so bad.

It was touching, a word not many would use to describe him.

A small smile graces her lips as memories flitter through her mind. Her childhood, being brought here after her parents were murdered, was not the worse thing that could have happened. Ironically, in Hell, she was happy. Her childhood spent learning and playing with her unorthodox guardian. She learned much of the world above from him, most of it was negative, given their line of work, but they tried, he and his loyal demons, and she was more than grateful for their effort.

Then she grew up, and her days were filled with intense personal training; she was taught the art of combat and war, how to survive in any situation. How to sweet-talk and trick and pick apart any who spoke to her. Still, being raised by fallen angels and demons, she wasn’t very social. Not that she minded, any silence was a gift down in the pit.

Plus; a halfling like herself? Not many wanted to be around her, even less approached her of their own will. Not that she could blame them. But, she supposed, that was why she was so good at her job.

Finally, she made it to the Palace, swiftly dropping into her cold demeanor again. She was quickly granted entrance, a silent exchange between her and the larger demon guards, and then she was marching down his dark halls.

She found him easily enough; not upon his throne, they were forgoing the dramatics today it seemed, but in a side room, devoid of windows, with him, sitting before a piano.

Her smile returned as she stepped into the room, shutting the door gently, before walking towards him slowly. He played with a passion she had always admired, it made the beautifully haunting music even better.

The Devil did have soul after all.

Pausing behind him she let the music run over her, she knew interrupting him was never a good idea, not that she was complaining. The room was cooler, the walls made to block outside noise. The change of pace was welcomed more than she cared to admit. These situations were rare, and she was going to enjoy it for as long as she could.

But, like all good things, it eventually came to an end.

He turned to her, dressed in his human guise; tall, sharp, dark and beautiful. Perfection, in an imperfect place; it was almost poetic. How could any soul refuse such angelic power and grace, fallen though he was.

“You summoned me, my Lord.” She said. He smiled gently, and her defences slipped in its brilliance. Regardless of what anyone thought, she loved him like a father, her own personal dark saving grace; and he deserved nothing less than her best, than everything she could offer.

“None of that, my dear,” He breathed, voice as smooth as silk. “I am not your master,” he continued, leaning casually against his precious piano. “No one is, I thought we were past that.”

“Formalities only, I assure you.” She responded, a smirk tugging at her lips. “I had assumed this was not a social call. You have a task for me?”

“Yes,” He answered, adopting a smirk of his own. “One I can only entrust to you, and one I hope you will enjoy.” She raised a brow, smirk unconsciously growing.

“Something fun?”

“Oh, I would hope so.” Swiftly, he rises to his feet and moves to a table on the side; a bottle of what she was surely an alcoholic drink, and two glasses sat atop it. She follows, choosing to drop her stiff posture and lean against the table. She waits patiently as he drinks the amber-liquid.

“Three lowly souls have managed to slip past Hell’s gates and back into the mortal world. I want you to go up there and bring them back.” Her eyes widen as he drinks again, concern and anxiety flitting across her face briefly before her mask snaps back into place. Beside her, Lucifer sighs quietly.

“They are hardly much of a threat, but could cause enough trouble for someone to notice,” She shivers, knowing exactly who he was talking about. “And we can’t have that.” No, no they could not. She nods, accepting the task with little hesitance.

“Thank you.” He sighs again, dropping his shoulders.

“If I may, why me and not one of your elite demons? Surly they would be able to handle some meager mortal souls.”

Ha, while I trust them to follow my orders, I need someone capable of adapting to any sort of changes that may come along. Someone I know I can trust to handle this quickly.” She nods again and returns to her former posture, falling into step with him they walk from the room.

“Besides,” He says, as he holds the door for her, flashing her a blinding and sharp smile. “I did promise you I would send you above as often as possible, did I not?”

As they march from the room, she has to fight to keep the smile from stretching across her face.


 

The air is frigid in her lungs as she steps out onto the mortal plane. Her breath pours from her warm lips like smoke as she tastes the night air. Her eyes shut and for a moment, she just lets herself feel.

She had not set foot upon the earth in so long and had never been left unsupervised before. The very earth itself called to her human half, her senses momentarily scatter within the unfamiliar terrain, shivers crawled across her skin, and a comforting weight settled in her bones.

She wants to enjoy this for as long as she can.

The fact that she cannot stay too long makes her savor every breath, every instance she is connected to a home she had been torn from; that she had been deprived of because of her heritage.

However, now was not the time. She has a job to do, and can not afford to be distracted; no matter how tempting it is.

Taking another deep breath, she opens her supernatural senses, searching for her targets. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long.

Her eyes snap open, flashing an unnatural blue as she marches into the quiet town. Her sharpened eyes take in every detail, missing nothing in her examination.

She finds him too soon for her taste.

A damned soul, using a corpse to hold itself together, stumbles from an alley. She locks gazes with him for a split second and his borrowed eyes widen in fear. Then, he turns and sprints from her. With a sickening grin, she chases after him.

The ground is fragile, unlike the stone she’s grown used to; it cracks as her feet connect with inhuman speed and strength. It does not take her long to catch up. She grabs his arm and throws him into a nearby abandoned building.

Bones crunch under the force and he crumples to the ground. She stalks towards him, long legs drawing her gracefully and slowly towards her pray. She stares down at the pitiful creature, eyes cold and merciless. From within her coat she pulled out a crystal bottle.

Below her, the target jerks and squirms as much as he’s able. Fear burns in his eyes as he struggles for breath, lips turning blue. She drops to a crouch, pausing briefly to listen to twitching limbs fighting for purchase against the concrete. She opens the bottle and holds it delicately in one hand. With her free one, she reaches out and brushes her fingers across his chest. A smirk stretches across her lips as her victim whimpers, stolen heart beating hysterically.

Without any warning or hesitation, her now clawed hand, plunges into the broken chest. Slipping into a normally untouchable cavity, sliding past skin and bone, intangible as a ghost; she sinks her nails into the soul and tears it out. The body stills and turns cold as the soul struggles within her hand.

Voice quieter than a whisper, she speaks the words as instructed, ancient and dark, they brush her tongue like the edge of a knife. The bottle glows and a moment later, the soul is sucked into the glass. It lets out a piercing and haunting screech as it is imprisoned within. She scoffs. Returning the chilling glass to her coat, she rises and turns, returning to the dark. Summoning her power once more she leans against the metal wall behind her, and waits for the call.


 

Soon, she is once again on the hunt. A flicker of disappointment crosses her mind as she realises her last two targets are together. She lets out a puff of air before continuing to slink towards them, wrapped in the shadows, her steps silent.

They must notice her somehow, because they soon begin sprinting down the road lined with trees and darkened houses. They run and run, and when one chances a look back; they don’t see her.

They laugh, the male and female wicked spirits, even as a chill sparks up their hosts spines. They turn back, and ahead, in their path, stands the woman. Her crimson lips pulled back to reveal fangs as her eyes glow an ominous blue.

Her prey fight to slow, turn so they can maybe escape.

They don’t make it.

From her position, the Warden bends her knees and rushes towards the possessed male, the impact creating a small crater. The male stumbles, demonic words or power begin to fall from his mouth, scorching his hosts tongue and throat. But before they can leave his lips; she is upon him.

She leaps into the air, a wicked smile stretched across her porcelain face, and lands perfectly in the middle of his back, pinning him. He chokes as bones snap, organs rupturing, pushing blood past his lips.

From the dark aether, she summons her weapon; a molten black spear, metal glistening as the runes etched into the handle pulse with hellish fire. The weapon made to be eternally burning without warping the metal.

With one swing, she severs the soul from the body, flesh boiling in the weapons wake as his clothes catch fire. She wrenches the soul violently, savoring the way it squirms and claws at her, as if it had a chance of escaping.

Again, she recovers a bottle and chants, fastening the second to the inside of her jacket. She then raises her head, gaze trained on the third party sprinting away. She stands, watching from a good mile away, ears catching the barest hint of her victims racing heart.

She hums, eyes reverting back to their neutral state as she steps off the body now ablaze. She steps away, her staff clinking loudly against the spider-web cracked concrete. Then, she raises a hand to her mouth and gives a sharp whistle.

In the distance, monstrous howls resound through the air, quickly followed by a feminine screams. Her superior hearing just catching the vague sound of tearing flesh. The woman chuckles, twirling her staff as she calmly makes her way towards the final soul.

Well, she had promised to let the hounds play.


 

She sighs as she steps back into the unnatural heat of Hell. The three bottles clink against each other as she marches down the cobblestone street and up the stone steps to his Palace once more.

At the top stands Lucifer, smiling in his human guise with his hands behind his back, unbothered by the sweltering heat in his suit. Next to him is a rather large and higher-level demon, who’s expression of fear was almost comical on such a powerful being. On either side of them stood the usual guards.

She bows her head, saluting her Lord in the presence of other demons. Then hands him the three bottled souls.

“Ah, well done as always, my dear.” Lucifer proclaims, taking and cradling the three errant souls in his grasp. “More than I can say for him.” He sneers, smile dropping momentarily to set his piercing gaze upon the demon next to him. Then, just as quickly, he turns back to her and smiles again. “Well, my dear Warden, how would you feel about adding three more to your section?” Behind the previous demon warden shrinks n on himself, unknowing of the punishment for loosing his charges.

With an equally wicked grin, her eyes flashing blue as she summons her favored spear, still dripping blood, she says; “I would be honored my Lord.”

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