Sitting alone in an abandoned warehouse, I finished the last verse of the chant, the blood from my hand already drying black on the cryptic symbols sprawled across the floor. I knew it had worked as the runic symbols began to glow a deep crimson. Ash rose from the floor, slowly amassing, taking the shape of the one I wished to speak to. The surface smoothed, and before me stood the slim figure, wearing a crimson suit, he almost appeared human; save the curled black horns, nine-foot frame, pointed ears, and slate grey skin. Before me stood a demon, warden of the damned, ascended from hell.
“I need to kill someone,” I said to him.
“Indeed,” he responded, “but what target could justify a deal like this?”
“He’s out of my reach, held in his cell, I can’t get in. He ruined me, and I can’t get him!”
“Such righteous fury,” the demon mused, his head turned back in pleasure. “but I know the one you hate; I see it in your mind. He is fated to die in that cell, never again to taste freedom, hated by those around him. His life has already become hell.”
“He doesn’t deserve that; he needs to pay!”
“Well then, a pact to be made; a price to be paid,” said the demon, “But is it a price you are willing to pay?”
I was hasty, caring for nothing but my revenge.
The demon extended his clawed hand, a devious grin splitting across his face. I took his hand, and it felt like fire passed through his hand and coursed through my veins, up my arm, and into my chest before exploding out through the rest of my body. The demon turned back into ash as it spread onto my arm, coating my entire body, and sinking into my skin, turning it as grey as the demon.
I rose, unsteadily, to my feet; my body feeling like someone else’s, not dissimilar to moving in a dream, fully aware but numb to reality. I began to walk forward, before stumbling on my own distant feet. As I reached out my hand to catch myself, the wall crumbled, and I fell. The power to tear apart concrete and steel; this is the power I needed. I walked forward, ready to claim justice for myself; with a joy welling up within me, as distant as the feeling in my limbs.
I stumbled through the forest, drawing closer to the prison fence, so close I can practically smell his filth. I practically cut through the wire fence, for with this power, steel tore like tissue paper. Alarms started to blare; but as loud as they were, they did not bother my new ears. I walked calmly and unbothered to my prey. The guards tried to stop me, the fools. A flick of the wrist and their weak bodies crumpled before me. Who did they think they were, to stop me from doing what is right; to protect that filth? I walked through the prison halls, until I found the right cell. The door was locked, of course, but that didn’t stop me. And there I found him; cowering like the weak animal he is. I felt his fragile body crumble at my hands. I tore, and broke, and tore, and broke, until there was nothing left of him.
I felt a new sense of joy come over me; but not just joy, but also pride, euphoria, as though I am everything I deserve to be. But another feeling arose. Dread. I felt the strength, the demon, leave me, and with him the overwhelming sense of pleasure; I felt only empty, I felt fear.
“Well done,” the demon laughed, “well done indeed.”
“What are you going on about?” I asked him.
“My praise is genuine, There is nothing like the corruption of a soul.”
“What corruption? He deserved it!”
“But did the guards?” his grin grew wider.
“No, you did that! You made me-“
“I made you strong; I did nothing after that. Every drop of blood is on your hands alone.”
“This was justice!”
“Justice is swift, justice is clean. Your execution was indulgence, pleasure; so much wrath in you. Wrath itself is not sinful, there is righteous anger of course. None of the seven sins are truly damning on their own; but to truly indulge them, there is nothing sweeter.”
He leaned forward and grasped me by the throat, lifting me to look him in the eyes.
“Such sweet wrath within you; when I heard you calling, a good man with a lust for blood, I couldn’t resist,” his smile grew bigger than I had ever seen it since I met him, stretching far past what a human should be capable of. Once again he turned to ash, engulfing me as before. But it did not feel the same; instead of strengthening me, I felt something leave me; I felt the heat of a furnace wash over me. The next thing I knew, I stood before a sea of fire.
“Where am I?” I demanded.
“Where do you think,” the demon snickered, “The Fifth Ring of Hell, the Ring of Wrath, Realm of Bael, and domain of the Unholy Prince of Wrath, Satan.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Seven rings in hell, one for each sin. A prince overlooks each of them, and three lords serve each of them,” the demon explained, rather content from my childlike ignorance, as he grabbed me by the back of the neck, dragging me along to wherever he had intended for me.
“But I was alive, why am I here?”
“You made a deal, one that I upheld, and now it is time for payment.”
“But why now, I should have ten years left before you collect.”
“Perhaps for some, but a deal with Hell is quite literal. You said, ‘I need to kill someone,’ but you said nothing of afterwards. No happy ending for you. Don’t worry though. That man you killed should be on his way to the Third Ring of Hell, the Ring of Lust. Main difference being that he’ll be thrown in with the rest, but you gave your soul to us, and that means we can give you special treatment.”
As he marched forward on the extensive, winding path that stretched above the fires below, I could hear the howls of anguish from the damned. It was then that we came upon a great gate of wrought iron. The doors opened silently when we reached them, and closed behind it. The demon continued on, finally stopping in front of a black, metal chair. He placed me into the chair and strapped me in.
“Lord Bael will be with you shortly,” the demon finally said, “lots of new souls pouring in. But we’re in Hell, a minute up there, a century down here. Plenty of time for fun.”
The floor opened, tables of tools and devices topping blood-stained tables rising up. The iron doors opened in front of the demon once more, and he walked through, the doors closing once more.
“The pact had been made, now the price will be paid,” the doors closing behind the demon as he walked away.