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If he had known that switching from tortured soul to Alastair’s right-hand man would hurt just as much as the rack did, he would like to think he never would have given in. But after thirty years of constant torture in Hell, he was more than ready for some kind of change.

It was a different kind of pain, he thinks, twirling a knife in his fingers, the straight physical agony versus the searing guilt in his soul for breaking. The last few years have been more psychological than the first thirty. Yeah, the sheer heat from Hell still baked his skin, leaving him raw and bloody all the time, and there was nothing quite like the shivers he felt internally when a fully-smoke demon passed through him, but most of his pain nowadays came from the hate he felt toward himself, to demons, to the world--mostly himself, though.

He still had some time to go before he would abandon his body altogether and turn into one of the grey, smoky beings that populated this part of the rack, and he hoped he may never turn into them. For now, he was still wearing his skin. Some of the more nasty scars had never gone away--rough slices on his torso when Alastair would train other demons on him, acid burns on his face, the more vicious hellhound bites, and of course the constant burns that left him raw and achy (though that feeling was nothing next to some of the worse things he had suffered through in his thirty years). He probably would have cared about that had he not been in literal Hell, but there was no way he was going to be concerned about the physical appearance of a body that wasn’t going to last too much longer.

Screams kept echoing around him, but that was commonplace. The sickly, smoky haze was lighting up with orange and white flares, and he wouldn’t have looked up if it wasn’t for the soul in front of him saying, in a voice he could have described as awed if they weren’t in Hell, “Oh my god...we’re saved!” The guy nearly sobbed, craning his neck and trying to pull himself up despite the multiple gashes still bleeding sluggishly.

He couldn’t be seeing that. He was finally hallucinating.

He could barely even describe them. Light, blinding, white like almost nothing was these days. Gleaming silver swords, stained with the blood of the demons they left in their path. White light locked in combat with grey-black smoke, cries of fury and triumph as both fell.

They were glorious.

He didn’t realize he was shaking until he was already on the ground, legs too weak to hold himself up anymore, knife long since dropped, arms barely supporting his weight where they were braced on whatever passes for ground on the rack.

One of the beings seemed to be making a beeline straight towards him, and suddenly he was terrified. He couldn’t exist in this being’s presence. A growl ripped its way through his throat, and he cowered further into the dirt. It landed in front of him, the soul behind him making an aborted attempt to reach for the light before being completely eradicated.

It had wings, he noticed, flaring behind him as it clapped a hand on his shoulder.

It burned , the holy light flooding every corner of his soul. He tried to scramble away at the same time his entire mind wanted to latch on to the being and never let go again. A scream tore at his ruined throat, and before he knew what was happening, the creature had grabbed his other arm and pulled him in, one arm curling across his body, still holding on to his shoulder, other arm holding a blade out protectively as he flew back into the air.

There was fire, and light, and pain, and struggle, and then blackness.


His eyes shot open, heaving a breath in, as if he hadn’t had air in months--which wasn’t completely unlikely.


And later, when he saw the handprint seared into his skin, he would remember how it felt to have his soul cradled by an angel.