11. Hell on Earth
It was this demon that had betrayed the battle!
It was HIS cause for the failure of the plan. Claw of Hades now sheathed, hummed a warning too late!
The bolt of demon-fire struck him between the shoulders, Claw of Hades took most of the unholy blast, saving the demon. The wounded demon fell down on the path at the base of the raised platform, his body smoking from the fire of the Devil.
Pain! A lot of pain, groaning as he struggled to stand, the sentence was coming. This was going bad quickly. For even among immortal demons, there are fates worse than death.
Then it came.
“If this demon so desires to protect humans, he can live as one!” The Emperor shouted as he passed the judgment .
The Dark One announced the punishment rules.
The demon only had to bow to what he really was, and return to this place of punished souls. It would take only a one time use, JUST ONCE, of his demon powers and he would return forever, not as a warrior, but as a slave.
No name, no power to inflict misery on any of the residents of the race of man. For his would be one of the background agonies that those that have turned their back on the other Master would hear. His own misery would be music for the damned to listen to for all eternity.
As the Emperor read off the sentence, the demon moved suddenly. A sudden thought, a plan! He knew of he had to strike against this wrong, to strike down that which deserved it the most. With a single movement he threw Claw of Hades directly at the Emperor.
Straight and true it sailed, until Claw of Hades was intercepted by Emperor’s personal guard, who then handed the humming, living weapon to the Devil, the six-clawed hand wrapped around the weapon with a sensual, almost sexual stroking of it’s cutting edge.
A pause, and he amended the sentence, the demon was to keep the battle-ax and care for it. If the small demon used for any purpose that was beyond the powers of a human, he would return as a slave, to burn and suffer the exquisite agonies of the damned, he would be music to the lost souls of that place of humans.
No growing old and no peaceful death as a good person. That would make it too easy to get out of it and go to the other side.
He would be immortal still. Living as a human, never growing old, trying to hide his true nature from the weak-minded life that called itself “Human”. They would force him to show his true nature and weaknesses. He could learn how insane humans could be with someone different from themselves. Then, the Emperor was confident on this point, when he used his powers, he would fail and return to serve as one of the lowest caste only. His rank would not be restored.
With this, a shimmer of a blue flame appeared at the hand of the High Demon of All and raced towards the lessor demon.
PAIN! OH Sweet PAIN! He closed his eyes and screamed in agony. Claw of Hades struck him across the chest, the force of the blow knocked him to the ground. Agony… The fire burned deeply, only once did he try to stand, then his right-wing broke off with a hissing crack. His hide, his very flesh was melting off! The center of his soul was boiling in pain and anguish. Nothing lasts forever, but this was non-ending pain.
It was over and a weightless sensation overtook him just long enough to let him realize that he was falling. He landed hard on the soil, bounced and slipped over the edge of a ravine, vines and brambles scraped his flesh as he fell. As he slid by the roots and as he became more aware, he reached out and grabbed at them as he went by.
Abruptly he was airborne, he felt the rush of air past his skin was an oddly pleasant sensation until he landed on his back in a shallow pool of a stream. The shock of the cold water stimulated his numb body, he could feel. And his tail HURT! He felt agony as if he had his tail torn out by the root, or burned off. Pain was all-encompassing and he screamed.
Then as suddenly as he grabbed at the root of his tail, he realized it was gone. The pain subsided and he realized he was lying nude on his back in a sandy shallow stream. The pain subsided and he pushed himself up on his hands into a sitting position.
Sound from above. Something was coming through the bushes from where he had come.
He looked up and his battle-ax and companion of lo these many conflicts sailed over the bluff falling like a spear down at him. Making squawking sounds, he kicked hard backwards as the main blade embedded itself half of its length in the sand. Half a hand width closer it would have emasculated him in a way that made him double-check that nothing was missing.
He chuckled, in a nervous-hysterical tone at the nearness of the miss–and then stopped.
The sound was alien, he never made that sound in his memory. It was a curious sound, then he became curious of all the changes of his appearance as he looked at his hands and body. Skin, no scales, no fur.
Just pink skin.
He was not sure in his curiosity, not really wanting to look at his disfigurement, but chose to look anyway. Taking several steps to a quiet pool he looked at his reflection in it, he was far different from what he looked like before. His eyes were forward-looking and deep-set, glittering in the reflected light, his mouth was wide enough for that chuckle that he just heard – and then some. The hellfire that he just sustained had done more than take his armored hide, it changed him into a HUMAN!
Not bad-looking either.
He stood there, looking about himself, shivering. The cold water had chilled him and he was still standing knee-deep in the stream, there were two very steep banks on each side and he could see no path out of the stream bed. With a grunt he pulled his old friend and battle-ax out of the sand and he started to hike downstream to look for a way out of his predicament.
Finding that his walk out was difficult, caused by the slippery stones that lined the mountain stream, he stepped down into a pool of water that was deeper than he thought and he fell in, immediately went in over his head, and a sudden panic set in as he struggled to the surface. In the struggle to get out of the water, he dropped his ax as he grabbed for a purchase on the sides of a large smooth rock. The now-human swept along with the flow of water until he found a grip a short distance downstream and pulled himself up to a flat part of a large rock. He lay there in the sun for several moments coughing retching with his lungs complaining of the water that he had swallowed.
A few minutes of trying to catch is breath, the naked, cold man collapsed face first on the outcropping, The texture of rock was warm to his cheek, for which he was thankful. His sense of time was lost in the warmth of the sun on him, catching his breath and warming. Wonderfully, he was no longer shivering and after several moments, warmed by the sun and rock, exhausted from his recent journeys of battle, pain of having been burned out of hell, dropped thirty-feet through berry bushes, trees, and brambles into a box ravine, becoming badly chilled and then nearly drowning, then warmed by the gentle sunlight, he slept a dreamless sleep on his first day of being human.