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Into the Depths

Chapter Text

abbie falling

 

 

Darkness.

Silence.

Emptiness.

Abbie was falling fast and deep the voices of her sister and companion became more and more distant as time went on. Soon she was enveloped by the cold, a chilling haunting feeling of solitude.

 Abbie awoke, her with her face pressed against the cold hard concrete. She sat up and rubbed her eyes, Abbie stood up and surveyed her surroundings she was in a forest populated by stark naked white trees. Abbie gasped, she was in purgatory again. Her heart quickened, she put her hand to her chest to steady her breathing and focus her mind trying to remember what to do.

          “The mirror, the mirror!” Abbie said. If she could find Andy she could find Moloch’s lair and get to the mirror to contact everyone on the outside. “Remember don’t eat anything or drink anything.”  She told herself. Abbie walked through the empty forest alone, she withdrew her gun from her holster and moved with caution as each moment she heard a sudden sound put her even more on edge. She kept moving and noticed that some trees showed signs of being burnt. Abbie reach out to touch one white branch of a tree and the wood crumbled to ash in her fingers.

The sound of a twig cracking echoed throughout the hollow forest, Abbie’s body came to a still. Another crack and Abbie spun around and held up her gun readying to shoot. The blood drained from Abbie’s face, there standing a few yards away from her was a pack of ugly diseased looking wolves. They snarled and barked angrily, the leader of the pack gave an order and the rest howled and began to chase after Abbie. Abbie fired her gun at the beasts hitting one of them in the head, the wolf hardly faltered and continued to stalk her. Abbie didn’t hesitate to run as fast as possible, she jumped over logs and ducked under thick tree branches.  The wolves were closing in she could hear them and smell them. Their rotting and poisoned flesh was a shock to the senses. Abbie prayed to the heavens that she would make it to the doll house, the safe haven that offered her some semblance of peace and sanity last time she was in purgatory.

          Suddenly a large fireball came hurling towards her Abbie dropped to the ground avoiding the large blast, the wolf pack whimpered as their dry maggoty flesh was set aflame. Abbie looked up to see a man shaking his hands and hissing.

          “Oh my god?” He gasped looking at Abbie. “You’re a-“ the growl of the remaining demonic wolf pack interrupted him. Abbie ran out of the way as the man hurled another fireball this one was larger it took out the rest of the pack. The pack leader howled as it died, surprisingly its body decomposed rapidly into a pile of bones and mushy flesh that emitted the foulest stench. “Fuck that stings bad!” the man cursed waving his hand. He looked at Abbie bewildered, as if he saw something truly magnificent a small smile crept onto his lips.  He stepped towards her with the intent of offering her his hand to stand up.

          “Stay away from me.” Abbie raised her gun at him, she tried her best to sound firm and authoritative using her ‘cop voice’ but there were obvious tones of fear and worry just under the surface.

          “What are-- I just saved your life.” the man said a little confused. Abbie kept her gun pointed at him. “Look, I don’t want to hurt you but we need to leave now. You see those rotting corpses over there during this time of the day the feeders will start dropping from the sky and they are big. Really fucking big.”

“What are you talking about?” Abbie was interrupted by the sound of something large hitting the ground so hard that trees in the surrounding area shook. The tall man swore once more.

“We need to go.” He said with urgency, in a flash he moved forward to take Abbie’s hand and ran. Abbie ran with him, she turned her head to look back at saw two large glowing eyes and the sounds of bones grinding and snapping and crunching.  “Don’t look back! Just keep running!”

          “Where are we going?” Abbie asked.

          “Somewhere safe.” He replied. “A safe spot, those are hard to come by here.” They reached a forest where the trees were thicker and darker and the air was warmer, the dark haired man ran to the let go of Abbie’s hand. He removed the chain from his neck and threw it into the air, the pendant which was a silver angel wing and crescent moon was consumed by a soft blue glow which made a large wooden door engraved in a mysterious symbols. The necklace dropped to the ground and the man quickly picked it up and put it back on. He opened the door and gestured for Abbie to enter. “Quick get in!” Abbie glared at the stranger, this was no place where helpful people were in abundance, she barely trusted Andy when she met him in purgatory and she had known him since high school. “Do you want to take your chances with them?” he asked pointing at the direction of the sounds of loud angry eating.

Abbie walked inside, the man pushed the heavy door shut behind them and used the silver padlock to ensure the door would go undetected. “Alright we should be good now.” He turned around to see Abbie holding a gun to his face again. The man rolled his eyes and held up his hands

“Move inside.” Abbie ordered the man complied and he walked in deeper into the stone building, the dim candle lighting revealed that the building was a small temple that had crumbling statues and cracked tiles and the stained glass windows looked as if they were stained with blood? It was too dark to tell.

“Um Miss night light, I don’t want to trip and then you end up shooting me do you mind if I brighten up the place?” the man asked resisting the urge to laugh.

“Quiet!” Abbie said keeping the gun aimed to his chest. The man shrugged and moved inside where there was a little bit more candle light from the ceiling chandelier. It illuminated the man and Abbie could now see him really look at him. His hair was a shiny and as black as obsidian, straight and shoulder length and sleek and his skin was smooth light olive brown complexion. He had defined cheekbones that curved perfectly into a defined jaw line and his sharp eyes were a molten copper brown. The clothes he wore had seen better days perhaps. His coat had rips and tears and had dried blood. “Who are you?”

“My name is Reynard and you are...”

“None of your concern.”

“Really, I would really love to know the name of the person I risked my own life to help.” Reynard said.

“Well you’ll have to excuse me Purgatory isn’t exactly the place that is teaming with helpful people and until I deem you as not a threat to me then this how it will be. Whoever is running purgatory now has obviously made some new changes, I just need you to tell me where to find Moloch’s old lair.”

“Moloch? Purgatory?” Reynard furrowed his brow and gave Abbie a very confused look. He shook his head and his eyes softened. “Nightlight this isn’t purgatory. We are in the underworld.” Abbie lowered her gun she opened her mouth to say something but choked on her words, her gun slipped from her hands and onto the floor.

“H-hell?” Abbie whimpered. Her mind spiralled into numerous of thoughts. She was in hell. Abbie gasped short of breath. “Oh god I’m dead. I’m dead.” Back in Pandora’s nest she was ready to make sacrifice her safe to save Jenny and everybody she was prepared to do it. Throwing herself face first into danger had was becoming like second nature after purgatory, after going to past, after everything she would tell herself over and over again that she would make it back home. Reynard reached on hesitantly towards Abbie and placed his hand on her shoulder gently to offer comfort he was a little surprised that Abbie let him.

“I’m sorry, but you know there is some good news depending on how you look at it.” Abbie frowned how could there possibly be good news. “You aren’t dead you’re your soul is still your own, I can see it you’re glowing.”

          “What are you talking about?” Abbie sniffed.

          “Dead mortals go to purgatory atone their sins and move on, hell is for the rejects and demons. The mortals who end up here either sold their soul to someone or made a pacts, were dragged down here or of course the ones who wanted to peak into another world. Seeing as you are still alive soul still attached...” he trailed off trying to deduce how exactly this mortal with a brightly glowing soul ended up in here. “What is your name?” Abbie remained silent unsure whether to trust him or not. She understood the rules of purgatory, not to drink or eat anything, don’t trust anyone, all types of mind games would be deployed to break one’s spirit. But hell was different monster, she didn’t know the rules or what to expect, Sunday school always talked about the fiery lakes of hell but she hadn’t seen any yet. If she told this man, this demon her name what could that mean? Too many children’s books of hellish demons have control over important magic people once they knew their true name.

          “No.” Abbie said.

          “No? Ok I get it this is hell after all and you don’t know how things work. I’ll just keep on calling you Nightlight.” Reynard said with a smile. “Welcome to my home.” He bent down to pick up Abbie’s gun and handed it back to her. Abbie took it back from him and put it back in the holster she walked past him to sit down on one of the pews that wasn’t broken.  “Forgive me for the mess but someone tried to take this place from me and failed.”Reynard picked up some fallen candle holder and lit them illuminating the room more.

          Abbie could now see more of the temple. Everything looked so old, the stained glass windows were really the only things that were not covered with a thick layer of dust. There was a makeshift wooden bed made from torn curtains in the corner. At the altar there was an empty fountain. The far wall was decorated with a tapestry of wounded winged soldiers and dead bodies floating in a river of fire. There it is the infamous lake of fire and brimstone Abbie smiled as the memory of Mrs Baker’s Sunday school came to mind. Also by the altar there was a stockpile of weapons laid out.

          “I think I know how you got here, you are clearly from a witch background that you didn’t know about. Your parent made a deal with a demon and that demon fell in love with you and brought you to hell to be his bride. But you escaped.”

“Are you serious?” Abbie snapped turning to look at Reynard who was leaning against a pillar arms folded.

“No, I think I’m just desperate for some conversation that doesn’t begin with a fight to the death. Sorry, you are a witch aren’t you Nightlight I can sense the magic from you and something else.” Reynard approached her to sit on the same bench she was on. “How did you end up here? Maybe you can get back the same way.” Abbie sighed and leaned back.

“Why so you can hitch a ride a get out too?”

“Well this place isn’t exactly the holiday inn of course I want to leave.” Reynard shrugged.

“Reynard was it? Tell me why I should even trust you? I don’t know what the rules for the underworld are, but trusting demons is a big no wherever you are.” Abbie said sternly.

 “Ok Nightlight that is true, in fact that is one of the big ones but if I wanted to harm you in any way I would have. Let’s review the current events here. I saved you from pack of rotting wolves, provided you with shelter from the feeders and in all honesty your little pistol would not even have an effect on me or anything else here for that matter.”

“Then why did you follow my orders.”

“You needed to feel like you were in control you looked like a scared little lamb for the slaughter. Glowing as brightly as you do, your soul would be a welcomed feast to many demons here.”

“But not to you.”

“No, soul eating is not my thing.” Reynard said with a slight harshness in his voice. He paused trying to collect himself and walked to the window resting his head on the glass. “I’m sorry. I’ve been here for too long.”

“How long?” Abbie asked.

“What year is it?”

“2015.”

“Holy shit it’s only been two years. Fuck it feels like ten. That’s how it is here. You don’t want to be here for longer than you have to Nightlight, you don’t want to be used to this. How did you end up down here?”

“I went through a really creepy looking tree. There was an explosion I thought it would kill me never thought I’d be down here.”

“A tree to the underworld, you just jumped through it?”

“It was to save my sister.”  Abbie countered.

“No that’s not it very noble it makes sense why you ended up on the island of Kurnugia in the forest there are many scary looking trees here.”

“Island of Kurnugia?” Reynard gestured for her to come to the window. Abbie stood up to go where Reynard was standing he took her hand and placed it on the stained glass window, Abbie felt the window vibrate as it faded into a transparent window. Some of the mist outside had dissipated and blood rain was falling from black clouds. Not far from wherever they were Abbie could see it, a tall decaying castle towered above them perched on a treacherous mountain, with a large pale and unworldly tree growing from within.

“My God.”Abbie breathed.

“Can’t help you here.” Reynard added. “Think about many of the religions on Earth, they mention some sort of underworld guarded by some sort of deity. Hell is a vast wasteland of pain and suffering, and getting past a guardian is unheard of except for here.”

“Why, what’s so different about this place?”

“This island is for warriors, demon armies, ruthless fighters fallen from grace. Even this little abbey was built by fallen angels on the losing side. From what I’ve heard this island is the best place to be.”

“Why is that?”

“In that castle lies a guardian that will grant you back your soul and passage through a gate and back home if you best him in battle. Kur the dragon.” Abbie gasped and removed her hand from the window.

“From the epic of Gilgamesh?” Abbie asked and Reynard nodded. “So you’re saying that if I can make it to Kur, I can get back.” Abbie sounded hopeful as she stared at the monstrous castle, it was an obstacle that she had to overcome. She looked back at Reynard who had been staring at her.

“That’s right. However no one I’ve met has been able to make it to the top of the castle alone. What do you say Nightlight?” Reynard smirked and offered his hand Abbie shook it holding his steely gaze, she would trust this demon for now.

Chapter Text

 

Abbie walked around the sanctuary of the fallen angels, her hands traced the markings carved on the wall and wondered what the strange symbols could even mean. What message had they intended to leave? Perhaps an explanation about why they chose they chose. Abbie soon found herself thinking about Orion and wondered where that power hungry bastard had ended up, maybe he had been casted down too.

Reynard was laying out a cache of weapons that he collected since he had been in the underworld. He spread them out on the altar and called Abbie over using her new nickname. She didn’t feel like she was glowing but maybe being here soul still intact on top of being witness the demons could see all.

        “Nightlight, I got it all, swords, bows s, a sceptre that belonged to a very powerful witch.” Reynard picked up the weighted silver sceptre and handed it to Abbie. She frowned and pushed it away.”

        “I told you I’m not a witch.”

        “I can sense it in your blood, there is no need to lie.” Reynard sang and Abbie groaned.

        “My ancestor was a witch and damn powerful one so that’s probably what you are sensing. I’ve only worked a few little spells and one big one but that is it. ”

        “When you get back you should, carry on the tradition. If we meet anyone out there you should tell them you’re a witch just in case they suspect that you still have your soul.” Reynard put down the sceptre and pursed his lips decided on which weapon would be best for his new travelling companion. He was so curious, he was sure she was a skilful witch from a strong magical family. Reynard had spent most of his life in a coven of witches and could sense when he was in the presence of one but she had said that she wasn’t a practicing witch so it had to be something else. Besides her name how many secret was this little ball of light hiding.

 Reynard picked up a battle axe with runes engraved in the blade he swung it in the air getting a feel of it before deciding that it was the right one for him.

        “You throw fireballs but you still need an axe?” Abbie questioned.

        “Fireballs are new to me, and they hurt my hand.”

        “Just what kind of demon are you?”

        Reynard chuckled and shook his head. “I prefer not to say, especially since you won’t even tell me your name.” his sly smirk made Abbie rolled her eyes. She looked at his assortment of weapons, swords, bows, axes daggers all different styles made with different wood and metals. She saw a mini crossbow pistol, she had used one before and knew she would be most comfortable with it.  She picked it up and inspected it, the weapon was light, durable and barely used it would be good.

        “I need bolts.”

        “One is all you need.” Reynard passed her single bolt and Abbie put it in place the bolt emitted a eerie white light. Abbie aimed and fired at a statue a sharp white projectile soared in the air and demolished the already crumbling statue Abbie looked back at the bolt, it was still there in place ready to be used again.

        “Impressive.” Abbie said. She also chose a lightweight bronze cutlass and attached the sword belt with the scabbard. “Alright, let’s go.”

        “Nightlight wait before we go out there is something I should do. May I have your hand?”

        “Again?”  Abbie teased. He had grabbed her hand on numerous times and now he decided to be polite and ask.

        “I need to do something to you, I mean for you.” Reynard averted his gaze Abbie gave him the wickedest side eye. Just what was he trying to say? “Souls are visible down here to demons and you are glowing. In order to go undetected I need hide it create a shroud.”

        “Oh, ok.” Abbie gave her to Reynard, he held her hand gently he bent down and laid a soft kiss to the back of her hand. Abbie shivered as felt a strange chill wash all over her. Abbie snatched her hand from him and shoved at Reynard’s chest.

        “Shadow magic, I’m sorry but it did work. You’re not glowing anymore.”

“Let’s just go.” Abbie said. Reynard led the way and unlocked the door Abbie pushed passed him and opened the door, Reynard closed it behind him and touched his talisman making the door disappear. The white forest was now quiet and the sky resembled daybreak but, a light dusting of ash was falling freely from the sky. Reynard led the way, eyes darting back and forth surveying their surrounding, there were no vibrations coming from the ground it meant that the feeders were not in the vicinity.

“We need to cut through the forest to make it to base of the castle.” Reynard said.

“This forest is so thick. You said this is an island, wouldn’t be easier for us to walk the shoreline to get there?”

“Fuck that.” Reynard scoffed at the idea. “You don’t want to see what’s out there. The things by the water’s edge try to keep us boxed into the forest.”

Abbie followed close behind keeping her crossbow pistol at the ready. The carried on at a faster pace any lesser demons that they saw from afar they chose to avoid rather than engage.  Although they walked for what felt like hours it still daybreak never came instead the sky faded into an off milky white and green colour. Oddly the forest fell quiet for a few minutes. The eerie silence was interrupted by the echo of a loud pained groan.

“Shit what is that?”

“I don’t know.” Reynard shook his head.

“What do you mean you don’t know?” Abbie gritted. A large tree not too far from them started to writhe and pull, snatching its roots ground as it shifted. Blood leaked from bark and the branches dug into it. The tree was tearing itself apart. The groans were now coming from all around them and the trees did the same ripping and breaking themselves apart. One managed to create a hole and a pale red and white hand jutted out, it snarled its crooked sharp and mangled mouth at them and finally broke free. The body of the demon was near skeletal which just enhanced the eeriness of its long limbs. The beast opened its mouth wide, so wide it unhinged its jaw and screamed and charged at Abbie and Reynard.

Abbie fired a bolt into the demon’s head, it stopped and slumped over as it tried to get up halfway Abbie fired another bolt, this time in the chest it went right through creating a large hole through. The demon dropped to it’s knees and gurgling making jagged movement before die. More of the demon’s type were emerging from the surrounding trees.

“There’s too many we need to go or we’ll be surrounded.”Abbie said.

“Right, kill any in your way if you have to. Too many dead bodies attract the feeders.” Reynard warned. Two of them ran in the direction of the castle on the mountain. A tree demon jumped out in front of them coming inches away from Reynard’s face. Abbie shot a bolt into its face and Reynard swung his axe severing the head.  Abbie looked over her shoulder there was a small herd of the tree demons now chasing after them. They jumped over each other, spat and hissed and drooled. Some even lifted each other and threw their kin in an attempt to catch them off guard. Abbie stopped and shot a tree demon mid air and took out three of the largest ones. Reynard surged forwards and cut down multiple tree demons, he noticed that dead bodies were piling up, Abbie was killing too many.

“Nightlight, stop!”

“No! Look ahead more of these things are coming out and we’re about to get swarmed, you can’t use your talisman here right now.  We kill enough of these things attract a feeder and it can deal with them while we leave.” Reynard nodded. He resumed killing aggressively moving at such a swift pace that Abbie had to hold her fire at time to avoid shooting him on accident. A chorus of angry shrieks came from behind them as another herd of tree monsters hurdled towards them. Reynard turned around and put his hands together calling forth a large angry fireball and threw it at them setting half of the herd ablaze.

A swirling cloud appeared above their heads, the look of horror on Reynard’s face altered Abbie that they needed to escape and hide. Abbie and Reynard hid behind a large rock and bramble bushes and watched on in haunting anticipation. Two large feet with eyes in the sole emerged. The creature’s whole body plopped out, it was tall and so out of proportion wide head with no eyes on the face and jagged wonky drooling mouth with teeth.

“Aigamuxa, we lucked out. Good call Nightlight.” Reynard panted. The Aigamuxa left hand was significantly bigger than the right, it swatted its arm knocking down the tree demons and grabbed a few dead bodies and stuffed them into its mouth. One tree demon jumped on the Aigamuxa’s back, the creature held their breath until it turned orange and exploded.  Other tree demon followed suit holding their breaths until the exploded creating bomb after bomb after bomb. A huge explosion hit taking out most of the demons leaving charred limbs and earth in their wake.

Abbie stood up groggily feeling the effects of the bomb.

“Shit! Reynard!” Abbie yelled looking around for the man. “Reynard!” her lip was bleeding and her head was throbbing. She picked up her crossbow keeping it at the ready and called out for Reynard once more. Abbie didn’t know where to start looking for him, for all she knew he could have been killed in the explosion. He never disclosed what type of demon he was and maybe tree monster explosion was the way to expel him.

Abbie could see the castle was still so far off she decided that it would be best for her to keep going in that direction. That was the plan after from the start and if Reynard was still alive he would be headed there too. Abbie continued for what felt like hours, she didn’t have the strength the fight off multiple demons and took to hiding instead. She hid inside of a hollow tree for 10 minutes to avoid a swarm of flesh eating locusts. Her hair got snagged by the braches and she was forced to cut some of it to get loose which annoyed her. Abbie looked up at the castle once more, so large and imposing she could only imagine what type of demons inhabited it.

Abbie surveyed her current surrounding things were queit for the moment but not too quiet she sat down on a tree stump to rest. Her thoughts went to Ichabod, Jenny and Joe. How they were all coping and were they safe? She thought about Daniel and how they left things, she cared for that beautiful man very deeply and felt guilty that she couldn’t tell him the truth. It felt like a week had have passed already maybe more, it was hard to keep track of time. The sky never turned blue here just a mash up of unnerving shades of everything that the sky on earth wasn’t like. It was unsettling. Abbie wrapped her arms around herself to keep warm as chill fell in the air and a small fog was rising. In the distance she could see the silhouette of a tall man, Reynard perhaps? No. No, this man was wearing a long coat, Abbie squinted her eyes to see him and held up her crossbow.

“Reynard?” she called.

 “...tenant...”

“Crane?” Abbie whispered in disbelief. “No it could not be him.”

“Leftentant!” the figure said clearer this time the shadows morphed and shifted until it looked like Ichabod. Abbie kept her crossbow up. The shadowy figure of the man outstretched his arm and as he walked closer he was becoming clearer.

        “Leftenant, are you hurt?”

        “What is this?”

        “I am close, we are working hard to bring you back to us.”

Abbie stared at the figure walking closer to her, he looked like Crane and sounded like him too. “Our bond, hold it close.” The shadowed figure said. Abbie closed her eyes so hopeful.

        “Please be real, please, please let this be real.” Abbie repeated. When Abbie opened her eyes Ichabod was standing there before her clear as day, he looked so bright like he didn’t belong in this hell.

        “It is a relief to see you Leftenant, I knew in my heart you were still alive.” Ichabod said softly. Abbie smiled her eyes welling up with tears she lowered her weapon and smiled at Ichabod his face was a welcomed relief among the demons lurking in the shadows. Ichabod reached out to her and brushed as strand of hair covering her face and caressed her cheek gently moving slowly to her neck before grabbing it roughly and choking her. Abbie gasped but it made the false Ichabod choke her more, she struggled kicking at him and scratched at his hand, she tried to use her weapon but the false Ichabod smacked it out of her hand.

        “Well done my pet.” A familiar voice whispered. Stepping from the shadows was red haired woman dressed in a long black corset and gown. She touched Ichabod’s shoulder and Ichabod was no more instead he was a large birdlike man with one eye and chain hanging out of its mouth. “Hello Abigail.”

        “Kat-” Abbie grunted still struggling. She tried reaching for her cutlass but Katrina unsheathed the weapon and tossed it aside.

        “To think we were traversing through this forsaken forest when my pet was licking a bloodstain from a log.  I felt a familiar presence of a lesser witch so I tracked it and lo and behold it was you.” Katrina said. “Oh what a joy to be reunited with person who destroyed everything I had. It is a gift that I was not expecting.” Abbie tried to say something but was stopped by Katrina’s familiar whose sharp claw dug into her skin and letting a thin trail of blood trickle down her neck. “Did you enjoy my pet’s performance of my former husband? Your face resembled mine when he betrayed me for you.” Katrina smiled and made a hand gesture for her creature to stop choking Abbie but still keep her restrained.  The creature squawked and a chain link emerged from its mouth and wrapped around Abbie’s arms and legs it pulled and brought her down to her knees. Abbie gasped and panted for air and leered at Katrina.

        “Don’t blame me for your bad parenting and shitty witchcraft.”

        “How dare you speak to me as if I don’t hold your fate in my hands. There are plenty of demons here who would happily devour the soul of a witness.”

        “Fuck you.” Abbie said.

        “Such a mouth you have. I have wondered these forests and climbed to the castle only to be knocked down numerous of times. The only thing that made me keep going was that one day  I would to the mortal world and have my vengeance on my former husband and you. Seeing you here I assume the four horsemen are laying waste up there and I will soon. ”

“You assume wrong! The horsemen are done.”

“For now, evil never really dies Abigail. But what is to be done with you in the meantime.” Katrina folded her arms and pursed her lips, a devilish smile crept on her face and her eyes were hard as steel. “I think the shoreline is the best place for you, leave you out in the open for all manner of beast to tear you apart.” Abbie struggled against her restraints of Katrina’s monster.

        “Really that’s your big plan having someone else do things for you. You were a useless witch in life and in death, prove that you are worth a damn and fight me yourself.” Abbie yelled goading her. “Couldn’t even do one spell without fainting, you used so much magic to return to the past and Grace Dixon undid that all in seconds.” Abbie sneered.    Katrina shook with rage and ordered her familiar to slam Abbie against a tree instantly knocking her unconscious.

 

Chapter Text

 source: dragon's dogma

 

 

The sun was setting on an empty ruin of a stone temple, an ominous choir sang a hymn of dread. Abbie stood alone barefoot on the cold cracked marble tiles. She saw a throne with a hooded figure sitting on it, she pensively approached the throne afraid of who could it be. As Abbie got closer, the figure removed the hood covering her face revealing a woman. Abbie gasped and Pandora smiled sweetly at the reaction.

        “Hello sleepyhead.”

        “Where am I?” Abbie asked mostly to herself. Her mind searched for answers she remembered encountering Katrina and being knocked unconscious.

        “You are still in the underworld, but I am appearing to you in your dreams. Sweet Abbie, you did a very foolish thing getting trapped here made things very bad for all parties involved.”

        “Go away.”

        “That eye you stole is far more powerful than you realise. Pledge your allegiance to me and to the Hidden One and I shall show you how to leave the underworld using it.” Pandora said. Abbie frowned and looked at her hand she was holding crystal shard, she had almost forgotten that she had it. The eye of providene was the very reason why she was here. “This place was a temple of the unwilling Queen of the underworld’s mountain that you now reside in. I could show you how to contact her.” Abbie shook her head, she needed to protect everyone staying in hell was a small price to pay.

        “No.”

        “I understand it is not an easy decision to make and seeing as you are in danger at the moment I shall leave you with this.” Pandora opened her box and pulled out a red and gold dagger and handed it to Abbie. “A gift for the potential I see in you. I’m sure you will make the right choice. Keep in mind that it has only been two days since we last saw one another how long does it feel there? Until we meet again.” With that Pandora along with the ruins dissipated in a thick blue haze.

The smell of hot sulphur jolted Abbie awake, she was still in chains and being dragged by Katrina’s familiar. She could also hear something that sounded like large boulders being crushed. Abbie braced herself as she was dragged through another thicket of stinging trees and bushes. She lifted her head and noticed that the forest was thinning out, they would be leaving the forest at any moment and reaching the shoreline.

“Here we are.” Katrina sang and clapped her hands. Her familiar yanked hard on the chain pulling Abbie upright and held her up so she was uncomfortably dangling in the air. Abbie craned her neck and could see that they were all on a cliff and below them was the murky sea and shoreline. Her eyes widened and her body went cold at the sight before her, massive demonic giants scattered in the sands. A large hairy creature that was more mouth and teeth than anything else trudge along the sand with a cudgel in hand. Two monsters made from glittering geode were fighting each other, the sounds of large boulders being crushed finally made sense. There was one that was extremely terrifying, a hideous demon whose body was all bones. It possessed three arms and three legs with a chest full of deformed eyes and lay on a flat rock, it feasted on a stockpile of severed heads first it sucked out the eyeball and chewed loudly and gleeful.

        Katrina inhaled deeply breathing in the air. “Here we are Abigail,” the witch stroked Abbie’s cheek and roughly took hold of her jaw to look at the horrifying bone demon. “Take a look at that one, his name is Asag and he loves beautiful women like you. Do put on a good show for us dear.” Katrina whispered and gave Abbie a small kiss on the face before cupping it in her hands. Her eyes turned a hauntingly cloudy white as she began to work her magic, her hands gripped her face, she pulled at the magic, and frowned. The spell was different hard and strong sealed tightly, Katrina pulled at it harder the edges of magic started to come loose and Abbie’s soul was peeking through the seams.

“Just as I suspect a witness soul would burn brightest.” Katrina said. Abbie gritted her teeth Katrina was hurting her, she didn’t want to die like this. She shook her head and struggled against violently trying hard to get out of Katrina’s grasp and felt the dagger in her hand. The dream was real, Abbie made several attempts to cut move her arm up to cut at either Katrina or the chain, she jerked her body back and forth and managed to swipe at Katrina’s familiar chain link. The blade of the dagger sent a red Shockwave into the familiar’s mouth, causing the creature to drop Abbie and retract the chain back in its beak. Once free of its chain Abbie slashed at Katrina’s arm, the witch cried out as the blade left a glowing wound in her arm Katrina staggered back in pain.

“Kill her, kill the witness!” Katrina ordered her familiar. The Birdman squawked and charged at Abbie, she dodged it, but also managed to swipe at the creature’s knee. Abbie then jumped on its back then proceeded to repeatedly stab the familiar creating dozens of glowing wounds that emitted white smoke. The creature cried in agony and threw Abbie off of it in flailed in pain eventually collapsing on the floor and body disintegrate into ash.

Abbie panted, and rose to her feet she turned to face Katrina who was now scowling, she raised her hand to uproot a tree instead a multiple branches fell off. Katrina looked at her hand confused her glowing wound also had smoke coming from it, it suddenly dawned on her what the wound was doing to her and what the dagger was. Abbie approached Katrina, she gripped the dagger tightly with determination.

“No, not this time!” Katrina screamed. Katrina gathered her magical energy, the veins on her face became more prominent an turned black, her eyes were bloodshot and blood dripped from her nose. She managed to telekinetically push Abbie backwards. Katrina moved forward and kept pushing Abbie. The witness struggled her heels digging into dirt as she fought against the invisible force. Katrina forced Abbie back causing her to stumble to the ground, Katrina smiled she was winning she pushed Abbie backwards nearing the edge of the cliff Abbie clawed at the floor trying desperately to find anything to hold on to. “After I watch the demons feast on you I shall return to mortal world and make sure Ichabod suffers just as much as you. Even in death you witnesses shall share a bon-” Katrina coughed up blood and looked down at white crossbow bolt imbedded in her chest.

Abbie looked up and saw it, too behind Katrina coming out the forest crossbow in hand. Katrina still looked at the bolt in her chest mortified Abbie took her distraction as an opportunity to jump to her feet, she lunged forward and stabbed Katrina in the stomach and pushed towards the edge of the cliff. Katrina screamed in pain and clutched at the air as she fell she hit the jagged rocks on the way down eventually rolling onto the sand stopping a few feet away from usage. The towering behemoth stood tall and unleashed a demonic guttural roar that chilled Abbie to the bone, he snatched Katrina breaking her spine in the process and Katrina screamed loud and long.

“Oh God, what have I done.” Abbie muttered as she looked on. She dropped the dagger once the blade hit the floor it instantly shattered into a million pieces of glass.

“Nightlight, I am so glad to see you.” Reynard said, rushing to her side. I saw found your crossbow and then followed a trail.” Reynard grimaced when he saw what Asag was doing to Katrina. “We should leave before they see us.” Abbie nodded and followed him back into the woods. They continued walking for some time, Reynard told Abbie what happened to him, he was knocked unconscious, hanging from a tree and had to play dead so the flock of harpies wouldn’t eat him. Abbie remained silent, as she replayed the events in her mind over and over of Katrina’s face and her screams echoing in her head and the beast Asag. They eventually stopped and found a clearing that was safe enough for Reynard to summon the sanctuary. Once inside Abbie sat at the altar and pulled out the Eye of Providence from her pocket and looked at the crystal. Abbie heaved a heavy sigh and closed her eyes, trying to think. She didn’t know how to feel, guilty? Katrina tried to kill her again, Crane stopped her the first time, but this time it was all her she made sure that Katrina endured the suffering that she sought to inflict upon her. She felt her arm sting, the sting became a burn as if something was being seared into her skin, she rolled up her sleeve to see a an array of markings in ancient Sumerian branded onto her wrist the same symbol that was on the blade of the dagger.

“It means a debt is owed, I helped you and in turn you must help me. Give me the eye Abbie.” Abbie sat up and saw Pandora standing in front of her. “Just give me the eye and I’ll show you the way out.” Pandora outstretched her hand expectantly waiting for the eye of Providence. Abbie gripped the eye in her hand and dropped it to the floor, she picked up a nearby candlestick and crushed the eye. Pandora’s face faltered and she sneered at Abbie. “You stupid little child! Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” Pandora’s eyes flashed a reptilian yellow that startled Abbie.

“I’ve stopped you, now leave!”

“Nightlight?” Reynard furrowed his brow confused, he stopped relighting the candles to look at what Abbie was doing and who or what she was screaming at.  

“Enjoy rotting in here for all eternity.” Pandora flickered and disappeared once more. Abbie dropped to her knees fighting back tears.

“What’s wrong?” Reynard asked concerned he could see the bruises and scratches on her face and her clothes were ripped. He scratched he felt bad that they were separated and that she was close to being killed. During their two weeks together she was mostly quiet about herself and they only left the sanctuary when imps were burrowing in nearby grounds. They avoided bigger threats by hiding, but today was the first time that they set out to traverse the mountain and get closer to the castle.

“I knew her.” Abbie said quietly. “She was my friend’s wife and she decided to go completely evil and then tried to kill us so we stopped her. I felt bad for her when it happened, I felt bad for him but...” Abbie paused to collect herself. “I wanted her to suffer.”

“Don’t tell me you feel bad about that, she was going to let you be torn apart by giant demons. Asag for fuck sake!” Reynard said.

“I don’t feel bad. When I stabbed her I liked it, I really, really liked it. Then when she fell down I was proud of what I did and that’s what scares me. I got joy from causing someone else’s suffering. It was sadistic and that’s not me.”

“This place can bring out some of the darkness in you that you never knew you had. It’s scary to think about it, but that is what we will need if we are going to make it out of here.”

“It’s sick.”

“It is.” They sat in silence for awhile. Reynard raised his hand to touch Abbie but she recoiled from him. “There is a poisonous nettle stuck in your hair.” Abbie stayed still and let him remove the twig and leaves entangled in her hair.

“Thanks.”

“So you’re a one half of the prophesised witness meant to stand watch during the end of days. I heard the witch and it makes sense why your soul shines so intensely down here. One of the two lampstands, guess my nickname for you wasn’t so far off. Even with my cloaking spell disturbed I can see it.”

“The secret is out.” Abbie shrugged.

“A woman descended from a powerful witch line, it makes sense. I just need to know something how did you take out Moloch? Did you summon lightning, send out a plague or breathe fire. I always assumed the witnesses would be dragons in human form or something.”

“We didn’t actually kill Moloch someone else did and we haven’t done any of the stuff like turn water into blood. We found an ancient sword and walked on water once but had more to do with the place than us. ”

“Oh cool, that’s... cool.” Reynard said sounding a little disappointed. “Then you and the other one must have a psychic bond or something. Telepathy?”

“Nope.”

“Then what the hell can you do? I mean my father made sure my ass was in Sunday school every week as a kid and they told us that the witnesses could do all sorts of shit.”

“I don’t know what to tell you.” Abbie said growing annoyed at Reynard pestering. “You went to Sunday school?”

“I mean have you even tried? You said you only did witchcraft when you had to but never practiced it maybe there are things you can do as a witness but never attempted.”

Abbie curiosity was piqued, as much as Crane went on and on about their duty as witness they never really researched what being a witness entailed there wasn’t enough time when demon after demon came after them. Orion hinted at something, but she didn’t pay him any mind when that sentence was followed by his speech of becoming the new angel of death and purging the earth of sin. Was her role as a witness to become well versed in magic? After all it was in her blood, Grace Dixon’s journal was in her nightstand back home and she never performed any spells from it, not even a protection charm just a small potion to make medicine. She had said that the most important pages were the blank ones there to continue their family’s legacy.

“Where do I even start, do I turn blood into water or vice versa?” Reynard smiled at Abbie’s willingness to explore the possibilities. He clapped his hands and stood up to go to the dry fountain at the altar.

“When I first got here the fountain had already stopped working but there was enough water in there for me to use. This is a godspring the water has healing properties. Maybe you can get it working again.” Abbie stood up to look at the fountain the basin was dry and the stone griffin’s mouth where the water would have flowed from was closed. “Focus on the Griffin.” Abbie swallowed hard and stepped to the fountain she stared at the stone griffin and placed her hands above it hovering. “Clear your mind of all distractions everything and focus on the task at hand.”

“You talking is a distraction.”

“Just trying to help this is how my mother taught me.” Reynard rolled his eyes and kept quiet. He watched Abbie trying to focus. Her fingertips emitted gold specs that danced around that sent a jolt of power surging around her. Reynard cautiously took a step away from her. “Concentrate.”

“Be quiet.” The head of the stone griffin trembled until it cracked Abbie gasped and pulled her hands back. A large chunk fell off revealing a shiny layer underneath. More pieces of stone cracked and crumbled off until the griffin was now a brightly array of pearls clumped together. The pearl griffin opened its mouth and crystal clear water poured out. Abbie smiled speechless at what she accomplished

“You did it Nightlight.” Reynard laughed and smiled at Abbie. “Go on try it.” Abbie ran her hand underneath the cool water and let it run over the cuts and scrapes on her arm as well as the burn on her wrist. She held up her arm and it a matter of seconds all the injuries had disappeared.

“Oh my god that’s incredible.” Abbie gathered some water in the palm of her hand and splashed it on her face paying attention to the gash above her right eye it stung as bleeding hole closed up and didn’t even leave a scar. “That’s incredible. We should really bottle this.” Abbie gathered some more water and applied it to her chest. Reynard averted his gaze and turned his back to give her some privacy when she was finished Abbie went to the makeshift bed that Reynard had insisted she sleep on to rest. “Your turn to heal up.”

“I’m a fast healer already.” Reynard pointed at his neck where the claw marks made from the harpies had disappeared. He went to sit down in a pew next to Abbie’s bed. He stretched out his long limbs and yawned it had been a long day and if it wasn’t for the fountain the whole day would’ve felt like a big waste. “Nightlight, it’s bad back home right? If the witnesses have been awakened then that means the four horsemen are too.”

“I won’t lie to you Reynard it has been bad, but we have stopped two of them.”

“They’ll be more. I just hope my dad is safe.” Reynard closed his eyes and sighed. Abbie gazed as he sat there quietly, his long black tousled hair fell over his face. Reynard caught Abbie staring at him through hooded lids and smiled. They sat in silence the only sounds were their breathing and the small creaks of the old wooden bench before they drifted off into a dreamless sleep.

Chapter Text

 http://hope-i-dont-choke.tumblr.com/post/141207320794/can-we-just-take-a-moment-to-appreciate-nicole

Abbie stared at the bowl of water until her eyes became strained, she groaned and rubbed her eyes. She and Reynard was more than looking forward to the possibilities of any type of alcohol after the hell they’ve been through. She groaned and ran her hands through her big coily and curly hair, she had removed her short straight style after narrowly dodging one of Reynard’s fireball.

        “Maybe you can try turning it into blood first.”

        “Maybe not.” Abbie said. She stood up and walked to the weapons cache and picked up a midsized staff carved from monterillo wood, it had a curved head and a red ribbon wrapped around it. “You know I’ve been thinking that while I’m out there that I should use witchcraft. We might run into someone and if I do something witness-like to defend myself, it’ll draw attention.” Reynard, who lay on the bench propped his head up with his arm to watch Abbie twirl the staff around. He found the staff from the remains of a witch that was overpowered by a pack of rotting wolves and now the woman who he saved from a pack was now handling it. The island was funny that way.

        “That’s true.”

        “You can teach me the basics right. I mean I’ve done a spell before, but it’s got to be more than just saying the words.”

        “What do you remember from your ancestor’s spell book?”

        “Mostly how to make medicines and... I never really looked at most of the spells unless there was a demon roaming about and the book had a way to stop it.” Abbie stopped twirling the staff and brought the tip to the floor. “How do I work this?”

        “To my knowledge staffs, rods all that shit work as an amplifier they boost your natural witch abilities. You don’t know even know the basics like channelling, so the way that thing would work is that it will draw your energy out of your blood instead because it’s easy.” Reynard sat up and made his way to Abbie.

        “Blood magic, isn’t that evil?”

        “Anything can be used for evil, the spoon you use to eat cereal can be used to scoop out someone’s eye.”

        “Thanks for the visual.” Abbie said sarcastically.

“Your best bet is to find the element that you are most akin to.”

“Oh, I know about that, Katrina the witch that...”

“You sent under yes?”

“She was tied to earth and nature stuff, she changed the colours of a flower.”

“How cute.” Reynard said un-amused. Abbie chuckled Katrina was not the most talented witch or even a competent witch, she and Jenny often called her Mildred Hubble when Ichabod and Katrina weren’t around. Oh, and poor deluded Ichabod would go on and on about how much they needed her and how powerful she was, even though he never learned of her being a witch until after he was awakened and never seen his wife work a spell until after purgatory. Abbie didn’t have the heart to scream at Ichabod that his wife was a shitty witch and they were better off on their own even when her actions put them all in danger. The memories of Ichabod made her smile she knew that he Jenny and Joe were alright they had to be.

Abbie was lost in her thoughts, she didn’t notice Reynard’s intimidating stance as he snatched the staff from her and shoved her roughly to the ground, he then let the staff fall to the ground next to her. 

“Did you lose your damn mind?!” Abbie yelled she reached for the staff to get back up and Reynard kicked it out of her grasp, she looked up at him fuming.

“There you go, get angry at me, let’s get the blood boiling.  That raw emotion is what you need if you’re going to make it out of here.”  Abbie picked up the staff and got back to her feet. She gripped the staff and tried to bring out a power within her and tap into something else other than the witness blessing. “You’re not trying.”

“I am trying.” Abbie stressed.

“Not hard enough we don’t have time for you to meditate and learn the refined basic of witchcraft. You need to know how to defend yourself.” Reynard’s voiced echoed.

“Give me a minu-” Abbie started to say but Reynard harshly cut her off.

“Not a minute not even a second. Because the time you waste here you are missing out on your whole life back home. All your friends and family could be paying for whatever shit you did to end up here and you can’t even protect them.” Reynard said with such callousness. Abbie clenched her jaw, he was aggravating her, he could guess that that thought was weighing on his mind because that is what weighed on his own when he first got to the island.

“Enough.”

“Then do it!” Reynard screamed and hurled a fireball at Abbie. Abbie jumped back and brought forth a strong gust of wind that propelled Reynard into the air and sent him crashing down to concrete. Abbie’s whole body felt hot, she touched her head to wipe away the sweat from her brow, she was stunned and dropped the smoking wooden staff. “Fuck. I did it. ”

“I’m fine by the way.” He said through the pain.

“You deserved it for pushing me.” Abbie said.

Reynard stood up slowly and rubbed “It stopped raining, we can move out now.” Reynard strapped his battle axe to his harness. Abbie grabbed her crossbow as well as the staff now that she knew what she had to tap into she wanted to try what she learned outside. They left the sanctuary. They headed on a western incline where there were more rocks than there were trees. Reynard informed Abbie that there was a series of tunnels they could use to get up the mountain quicker. Together they hiked up the steep, slippery rocky hill Abbie and Reynard settled into easy conversation.

“So finish telling me what happened in the last episode.”

“You sure you don’t mind spoilers.”

“Just tell me please.” He begged

“They killed off Fallon.”

“Really?” Reynard gasped. “I didn’t think they would but I’m glad they did there was no depth to her character whatsoever.”

“Tell me about it.” Abbie agreed.

“So is there another season or is it cancelled?”

“There is another one, but they cut some characters loose and changed the premise a bit too much and it doesn’t seem that it’ll get another one after this.”

“Well, I expected that. If we get back, I need to binge watch the whole thing.”

“If?” Abbie scoffed. “You mean when.”

“Oh yeah, when we get back.” Reynard said, but Abbie was unconvinced that it has been just a slip of the tongue but chose not to press him on it. Once they reached the top of the hill Abbie could barely see the forest space where they started yet the mammoth castle still seemed so far and so high in the clouds. The entire landscape of this hill was different where the forest was eerie and white and resembled purgatory the hill had wide open spaces of clear green that was so enticing to run across. It made no sense, but then again, nothing did in the underworld, trees gave birth to crazy Grimgoblins. The wide spaces have been just as dangerous as the forest there was all the space to run freely, but not a place to hide, they could see anyone coming and so could they.

 “Feeders rarely show up here like they do in they do in the forest so we should be fine.” said Reynard.

            “How long do you think it will take until we can ring the doorbell?”

        “Well... it took me a year and a half to reach this hill. But I was by myself and kept walking in circles, I had to figure out which way was the right way. I found some like minded individuals and together the four of us made it to the castle. That’s where the real shit starts.”

        “That doesn’t surprise me. Bet everything down here is just the tip of iceberg.”

        “Right you are Nightlight. I’ve been fortunate though my time in hell has always been here on this island, I never been dragged to a lower circle.”

        “It’s been a month since I got here, and if it took you a year to reach this place I say we are doing more that fine.” Abbie boasted.

        “You have the talisman to thank for that.” Reynard patted his chest.

        “Did you get that from a fallen angel?” Reynard nodded and gestured to the castle. “Did you kill him or wait for something else before you took it.”

        “For your information Miss Witness he gave it to me because he thought I was cute just like you do and don’t even deny it because I saw you looking at me back in the spot.” He smirked at Abbie surprised face and how she tried to hide her blushing.

        “Do not flatter yourself.” Abbie scoffed.

        “I don’t need to, and you are cute too.” Reynard smiled at her and Abbie laughed. “There’s that smile.” Abbie playfully punched him in the arm. Their playful moment was interrupted when Abbie saw something grey move past her with such a speed blur, on instinct she reached for her crossbow. In a matter of seconds she was forced to the floor on her back with a snarling mouth creeping to her neck. Abbie punched the grey woman in the face, she used her elbow to sock her jaw. The woman groaned and rolled off, Abbie got up and fumbled for her crossbow and fired a bolt into the woman’s shoulder. Reynard tackled the demon and raised his axe to decapitate her.

“Wait please don’t I’m just so hungry.” The woman begged, her paper white skin was covered in indigo veins and her sharp yellow teeth that protruded from her twisted face somehow conveyed her pain.

“How many of your kin is with you Strigoi?” Reynard demanded and when she didn’t say anything he drove his finger into her shoulder wound causing her to screech. “How many?!”

“Blood bound. I’ll never tell. You and your witch are meals for my family.” She hissed. Abbie shot the girl in the head. Reynard got off her body and they watched as the ground opened up from under her and drag her corpse down to the lower levels.

“Fuck fuck!” Reynard spat. “Damn, I should have known someone would’ve claimed this hill. Get ready Nightlight.” Reynard went to withdraw his axe, but Abbie grabbed his arm stopping him. Abbie handed Reynard her crossbow to Reynard and picked up her wooden staff from the ground.

“Buy me some time.” Abbie said, Reynard complied. Several figures poured out of the tunnels, Reynard began firing bolt after bolt some connected with their target’s head. A strigoi jumped on his fallen brethren and cannibalized which allowed him to move quicker. Reynard almost wretched at the sight, strigoi truly were the worst kind of vampiric creature.  

Abbie was concentrating on drawing power from her rage, she felt her blood boil, her body felt hot and the staff greedily fed off that power. She could vaguely hear the sounds of some strigoi moving closer and Reynard firing the crossbow at them and then decapitating another. Abbie waved the staff around in a circular motion building gathering all the air around her, she preceded and a turbine of wind gathered and pick up the debris around them until a large black maelstrom had formed and waited to be unleashed. Reynard as well as the strigoi all stopped and marvelled at the power that Abbie was wielding in her hands. Abbie raised her staff into the air and with a loud cry brought it back down, slamming it to the floor so hard that it broke on impact. The maelstrom was unleashed and spiralled towards the army of strigoi, Reynard moved to stand behind Abbie let her lean on him for support as she breathes heavily, he was in awe of her power that she possessed and how fearless she could be. Together they watched as the strigoi were tossed into the air and thrown off the hill. There were maybe thirty of them, twelve of whom were stuck in the maelstrom screaming, their cries were a hideous wail of despair. One managed to avoid being swept up and was charging at the duo. Abbie picked up a piece of the wooden staff and readied it for when the male strigoi came close enough she drove the stick into his chest. Reynard finished him off by removing his axe and beheaded him.   

One by one they either fell off the mountain or crashed to the ground, many landed on their heads crushing their skulls and their bodies dissolved into a lower level of hell to endure a malicious torment.

“Wait here.” Reynard said. He rushed to the body of a fallen strigoi and beheaded him, he hastily removed the steel shield from his arm just in time before the circle of hell dragged the body below. He returned to Abbie and showed her the rusty buckler. “What do you think?”

“I think I need to sit down.” Abbie lowered to the floor and took out her flask of spring water and drank some of it feeling more relaxed. “Oh god my fingers are tingling I’ve never did anything like that before it was... I broke my staff.” Reynard laughed and brushed pushed back a stray lock of hair from Abbie’s face and admired her.

“You just learned how to do magic and you do that, you are incredible Nightlight.” He meant every word. He could see why she ended up on this damned island, she had such a fighting spirit such strength. Abbie raised her arm searching for Reynard’s hand, he took hold of it and helped her to stand. They stood close together Abbie’s soft brown eyes met his own, her thumb rubbed the back on his rough hand. Abbie wet her lips and smiled at him she felt her body move closer Reynard leaned closer too enjoying the feel of her hand on his and how enticing her soft full lips looked. He tore his gaze away and sighed.

 “We should, keep going.” Reynard said breaking away. Abbie cleared her throat and nodded. What was she doing? This was hell and she had to focus on escaping instead of engaging in flirtatious banter with a handsome and helpful demon. Besides, she still had things to work out with Daniel, she ended things so abruptly after Quantico and things were still up in the air after their little talks.

“Right lead the way.”

Chapter Text

            The tunnels were just as Reynard remembered them: Fucking scary, cold and suffocating. But they were a fast way up the mountain without guessing whether or not a rock would decide to move on its own. He brought out the last remains of his fire power to light a torch and illuminate their path. They walked the small narrow path, staying close together. Abbie noticed scratches a blood splatter on the walls, some were old and some wasn’t it unsettled her and she considered that a blessing that she wasn’t becoming used to the place. There was a symbol on the wall drawn on the wall that was still dripping wet. Abbie tapped Reynard on the shoulder and pointed to it.

            “What’s that mean?”

“The strigoi are lower caste who marked this place as their own, there are a lot of them but you took out most. We can handle any of the stragglers.” Reynard said with confidence. As they journeyed deeper into the tunnel, it became colder that Abbie could see her breath in the air, there was also a strange rhythmic pulse vibrating at her feet.

            They arrived at a door that blocked their path, Reynard kicked it down to reveal a rocky gorge with a wide bridge as the only way to cross. The bridge was made from an aging stone and it looked as if it could crumble under extreme weight but was strong enough to support them. Reynard crouched down to pick up a large rock and hurl it in the middle of the bridge, the rock rolled for a few seconds and eventually stopped within moments a green ghostly hand sprung from below to grab the rock and crush it to dust. The arm then pulled back into the void.

            “Holy shit.” Abbie breathed.

           “I really hoped it wouldn’t be here this time. The trick is to run and don’t stop until you reach the other side don’t stop moving and don’t fall. Or it will drag you down and whatever you do not look back!” Reynard warned.

           “Why are we going to turn into salt?” Abbie joked, but Reynard serious face expressed that her joke had truth to it. “We’ll turn into salt, got it. As soon as we get across open the doors to the sanctuary so we can rest.”

           “You’re the boss Nightlight.” Reynard and Abbie approached the edge of the bridge. “On the count of three we go.”

           “One...two...three!” They were off running and determined side by side, there was that rumble again and the walls trembled. Abbie glanced at Reynard and he gave her a reassuring look to keep running. A deep guttural growl startled Abbie. She could feel the hot breath of a large creature on the back of her head  and the  saliva drip on her shoulder. Abbie took a deep breath and sprinted faster passing Reynard, just another yard and they would be over. They ran faster blocking out everything that could cause a distraction. Finally, they reached the end of the bridge out of breath and alive. They turned around to see a giant flaming tiger with a mangled drooling mouth, paced back and forth on the bridge trying to cross the threshold that kept it there.

           “This place makes no fucking sense.” Abbie said breathless.

           “Trust me, I know.” Reynard brought out his talisman summoned the door and let Abbie enter first. She practically ran to the bed and collapsed on the pile of mink curtains, Abbie pulled off her boots and set them aside and removed her bulletproof vest, thankful that she decided to wear the padded armour when she Joe and Ichabod went to save Jenny. Abbie lay on the back down to stare at the ceiling.

“Rey this whole soul thing, how does it work, I had a friend who had his soul claimed by a very bad person. It changed him and he had no control over himself, but you seem I don’t know.”

“Well from what I hear whoever is in possession of another soul can have control that person. But things are different down here, especially on this plane. We still have our souls, but it’s caged it’s what binds us to hell and Kur has the key he keeps all of them on the tree sticking out of the castle.

          “That’s a big tree.” Abbie mused.

          "Yeah, well, it explains when you summon something from hell, it’s a buy one get one free deal.” Reynard sat down by the cache of weapons to clean his axe and his new shield a pick out a sword from the supply to pair with the shield.

“Think you might have a hoarding problem.” Abbie teased.

“No, just prepared I could lose a sword if it gets stuck in the spine of a behemoth. I learned that lesson the hard way, also they can break because someone wants to show off.”

“I just wanted to make sure it worked.” Abbie defended. “It never once crossed my mind that I could do all these things like make a tornado, my fingers still feel numb.”

“Blood magic side effect.”

“Any other side effects from blood magic?”

“I’m not sure, Aunt Gladys used it whenever she didn’t feel like channelling spirit magic. I don’t know if we make it out I have to introduce you to her Nightlight.”

            “When.” Abbie corrected in a firm tone.

            “Yeah, whatever. Get some rest, okay. I want to snatch some armour from any strigoi stragglers.” Reynard shrugged. Abbie gave him a, cold side eye, Freudian slip?  She wanted to press him about it once but was too tired. Abbie yawned and nestled into the blankets inhaling Reynard’s scent that still lingered on them.

            The mysterious demon had been gracious enough to offer his bed up to her. Of course she didn’t trust him completely and stayed awake the whole night watching him from across the room as he tidied up the refuge. Sleep eventual consumed her as the events that took place on earth and in hell had taken its toll on her that Abbie slept for three days straight and awoke to him asleep on the on the other side of the room drooling.

            This place was truly a sanctuary for them, everything that happened outside of the walls couldn’t harm them and she could breathe easier here and rest. She felt safe in these walls with him. Abbie smiled inwardly to herself, she relaxed into the tattered blankets and drifted off to sleep.

*

            Abbie opened her eyes to see that once again she was in the ruins of the temple where she had met with Pandora. Instead, this time she was seated on the throne where Pandora once sat, she could hear that same ominous choir. The air felt lighter and the sky was clear and calming blue that Abbie had missed dearly. Suddenly a strange apparition that attempted to materialize appeared before her. Abbie prepared herself for what was to come. Finally, it took shape as her partner and companion.

            “Lieutenant you’re alive.” Ichabod breathed and smiled reaching out. Abbie scowled at the figure, without a second thought, she grabbed the flaming torch off one of the nearby pillars and hurled it at the figure to her surprise this apparition of Ichabod flinched even though the torch went right through him. He looked at her shocked.

            “If you are a truly Ichabod Crane then prove it to me. Tell me something that only he and I would know.” Abbie demanded. “Now!”

            “Oh... I-I we-” Ichabod stuttered nervously trying to search in his memories for something only Abbie and himself knew about. “We were stuck in the elevator because of my fascination with the buttons and I ate the entire box of confectionery while we waited which caused me to become quite ill inside said elevator.” Ichabod said. Abbie’s scowl melted away into a smile.

            “You messed up my shoes Crane.” Abbie descended the steps stand close with him, they held their hands close to one another, they could feel the dull sensation of their bond, although it was weakened by being separated in different planes of existence it was familiar and undeniable. “It’s really you. I couldn’t be sure, I was tricked before and he said Leftentant with way too much emphasis on the Left.” Abbie had already determined that not telling Ichabod about her encounter with Katrina was in his best interest.

            “It’s alright, I am just pleased to see you. We searched purgatory a place called the catacombs we never even thought that you would be...”

            “In hell?” Abbie supplied sensing Ichabod’s discomfort. “Neither did I Crane. How are you even here in my dream?”

            “Behold the wonders of astral projection.” He raised both of his arms up and grinned.

            “Crane I need to show you something.” Abbie rolled up her sleeve to Ichabod the markings on her arm that had returned and kept coming back no matter how much healing water she applied to it. “I was in a bad situation and Pandora helped me get out of it. What does it mean?”

            “Pandora was here?!”

            “She offered me a way to escape in exchange for the eye of providence, but I destroyed it, but before all that she helped me get out of a bad situation. So please will you translate this?” Ichabod examined her arm and his brow did that thing it always did when he was worried.

            “Ancient Sumerian words for debt.”

            “Of course she tricked me into being indebted to her.” Abbie clenched her jaw. Pandora was manipulative and clever she was almost certain that the woman had led Katrina to her in order to back Abbie into a corner where she would have little choice but to bend to Pandora’s wishes.

            “Abbie.” Ichabod whispered, concerned.

            “No, forget it, I can deal with Pandora when I’m free. You’re here. Just tell me that you have some good news. How’s Jenny doing?”

            “Miss Jenny has made a full recovery and was the one who located your whereabouts when she obtained ancient tablets that spoke of the tale of the underworld.” Ichabod said. Abbie relaxed at his words and squeezed at her neck.

            “I’m glad.” Abbie breathed a sigh of relief. “So what is this tale?”

            “The tale spoke of a temple priestess called Irkalla who was the unwilling bride to Kur, the guardian of this plane of the underworld after he became obsessed of the music she played.”

            “Unwilling bride.” Abbie repeated, she recalled what Pandora had told when she first stood in the temple ruins the ruins they stood in must belonged to Irkalla.

            “A former lover of Irkalla made an offering of a flute adorned with lapis lazuli and carnelian. Once Irkalla played her song of the sorrows she was able to call to the God of the ocean Enki heard her cries and granted her safe passage from Kur’s castle. She left the flute in her prison the rotunda of tears for any unlucky soul who needed safe passage from hell.”

            “Are you serious Crane? You have not seen the Castle it is massive. A  rotunda of tears could be guarded by something worse besides, I am miles away from even reaching the front door.” Abbie ranted full of frustration.

            “You need to find a way, we all believe you in Lieutenant hold on to hope Lieutenant.” Ichabod fell to his knees clutching his chest and gasped for air. His body flickered and Abbie could tell he was being pulled back.

            “Crane, Crane wait please!”

            “Abbie-I”

            “CRANE!” Abbie shouted his name desperately trying to hand on to the dream. She awoke violently her heart pounded hard in her chest, Abbie covered her mouth, her eyes darted around and she saw she was back in the Angel’s refuge with Reynard.  He stood a few feet from her, his face a picture of fear and bewilderment.

            “You alright.”

            “Uh, yeah I just... yeah I.” Abbie pulled back the blankets she put on her boots and coat and smoothed out her hair. “Sorry about that I had a bad dream did you sleep at all?”

            “No. You ready to go back out there?” Reynard asked in a surprising cold tone. Abbie stretched and nodded, she put her shoes back on and did the best to tie back her hair, she took her weapons and followed Reynard back out into the caverns. Reynard was oddly quiet as they walked through the caverns only pointing out where to step and the directions to take. Abbie had gotten used to him trying to guess her name, asking about what was different in 2015 and the flirting.

            The duo followed a dark park illuminated by glowing blue mushroom, they were oddly beautiful and because of their beauty they had to be poisonous. Abbie side stepped through the tight walls, she manoeuvred her body to make sure none of her skin touched the glowing mushrooms. They turned another corner and were now walking at an incline that was a good sign it felt as if they were walking in a straight line for hours, Abbie shivered it was getting even colder than before. They stepped into a clearing where the darkness was disturbed by a crack from above, the stench of blood and terror hung heavy in the air.  Abbie spotted a strigoi woman on a ledge biting at the throat of another strigoi she ripped off the head of the male and drank the blood greedily, as the flames came to ferry him to a deeper plane Abbie saw that she was wearing leather leg greaves.

            “Rey look.” Abbie nudged him and pointed at the strigoi. “I want to try and draw her out, but we need to be sure they aren’t others around first, you then take her down and we’ll snatch her armour.” Reynard ignored Abbie and walked into space. He banged his sword on his shield alerting the strigoi of his presence. She hissed at him and jumped down on all fours to lunge at him, once she was close enough Reynard bashed his shield into her. Abbie ran out into the open to shoot the down three more strigoi that were above them before they could all ambush Reynard. Reynard didn’t utter a word and worked to remove the leather greaves off the female strigoi and remove her head once he was done. Abbie scowled at him and removed a vambrace from one of the strigoi. When she was done, she unsheathed her curved dagger made from Damascus steel and plunged it through the strigoi hearts until they burst violently in to flames and sank below. “Rey I had a plan, they could have ambushed you.”

            “Lucky for me, you are still here.” He replied coldly. Reynard gave the leather leg greaves. Abbie snatched it from him and dropped the vambrace on the floor for him to pick up. They strapped into the armour in silence. The leather greaves were lined with fur and a little bit larger for Abbie’s size, she pulled hard at the belt straps until it felt secures was secured she was pleased that she could move comfortably enough. She glanced at Reynard, who had finished attaching the vambrace in on his arm, he put back his sword back into his scabbard. “Going up.” He pointed at the ledge and where they had to go. Abbie moved passed Reynard and jumped up to grab hold of the ledge and climbed up she continued up not bothering to wait for her demon travelling companion.  Abbie pulled herself on to the flat surface, she stood up and stumbled off guard when an icy wind coming from the crack above a ladder made from white ice Abbie let out a aggravated groan when she saw it. From a ashen forest to jagged cliffs and rolling hills to a confusing tunnel inside the very mountain that led to an ice tower.

            Abbie wanted to break something she approached the ladder, then stopped when she heard chain links rattling in the shadows, she listened closely and could hear some quiet sobbing. Abbie removed her crossbow from her back harness and pointed it at the shoulder moving in slowly.

            A strigoi jumped out from the shadows, he was bloody face, grey skinned and bald. It let out a piercing shriek. He leapt into the air and his claws dug into the stone walls of the caverns. Abbie fired through the bolts at him, he moved so swiftly that he dodged each one by leaping from wall to wall. The strigoi sniggered at Abbie, he licked his lips at the thought of tasting her blood. Abbie clenched her jaw, she was not fond of him mocking her this way. The strigoi leapt into the air so fast that he became a blur, Abbie whipped her head around trying to keep up with his movements. The strigoi screamed and jumped towards Abbie where he was inches away from her, Abbie screamed and holy fire, escaped from her mouth and formed a protective barrier around her body that melted the face of the strigoi. Abbie eyes widened at the shock of what she just did, she fired a bolt into the strigoi chest sent him flying back and impaled him to the wall.

            Abbie touched her lips attentively to feel if anything had changed, her ears were ringing and she struggled to breathe, she looked up at the strigoi’s melted and wanted to be sick.

            “Nightlight?” Reynard called out of breath finally reaching the top of the landing, he took a moment to catch his breath, he glanced at the strigoi and didn’t say and thing he worked inched towards him, the strigoi made fast sporadic movements trying to claw at Reynard.

            Reynard brought out his sword and used the pommel to strike the strigoi in the head and render him unconscious. He dropped his sword and worked quickly to remove the single pauldron from the strigoi’s torso, he then proceeded to do something that Abbie has never seen him do before. Reynard grabbed the strigoi by the neck and opened his mouth, spirals of azure coloured smoke escaped from the creature’s mouth and into Reynard’s.

            “What are you doing?” Abbie questioned. Reynard ignored her and continued to drain the life from the strigoi until he became a gaunt and malnourished body Reynard let go of him as the fires was starting to consume the strigoi’s body and drag him to another plane.  “Rey!” Abbie yelled his name.

            “What?”

            Sobbing, followed by gurgled grunts of torment stopped them from saying anything. Abbie walked towards where it was coming from, as she peered into the shadows she gasped at what she saw. A young pale white man with dry grey hair covering most of his face wearing rags was chained to the wall. Most of his toes were taken by frostbite and his arms, legs and chest were covered in a myriad of bite marks. It was evident that he had been nothing but a meal for the strigoi here, and judging by the bones and splattered blood around him he was not the only one.

            “Please end it, end it, end it. Please.” The man begged while he hid his face behind his bloodied hands and hair. Abbie approached the man slowly.

            “It’s okay, they are gone. We’re not going to hurt you we can help.”

            “Help? You want to help me, you must be human too. Yes, please end it send me down. I can endure hell just not alone, let me be back with him, please.” Abbie looked for a keyhole on the manacles that she could pick but there were just hard, solid iron welded to the wall Abbie pulled at the chain in an attempt to remove it off the wall.

            “Reynard I could use a hand here, try melting the chain.”

            “I don’t have that power anymore. I used it up.” Reynard shrugged. “We should really be going.”

            “We can’t go we have to help him.” Abbie said. Reynard rolled his eyes and gestured for Abbie to move out of the way. He positioned his hands on the man’s shoulders and leaned into him

            “Shut your eyes.” Reynard planted a soft kiss on the man’s forehead, he shivered, and his body slumped over and was eventually consumed by flames. Reynard stood back up, dusted off his hands as if nothing had happened, he walked back to pick up his newly acquired pauldron but was stopped by Abbie. She roughly grabbed his arm, forcing him to face her.

            “What was that, what the fuck did you do to him and to that strigoi?”

            “I gave him what he wanted, to be in a deeper plane of hell. It is just part of my power as a demon, it’s how I stole the fire power.”

            “That boy was human we could have helped him.” Abbie said with earnest Reynard scoffed and laughed.

            “In case you forgot this is hell and you may not deserve to be here Nightlight but he certainly does. Him and his friend murdered a bunch of people and killed themselves afterwards. If he wants to suffer in another plane with his murder buddy then cool. Perhaps you should stop worrying about trying to save the eternally damned and try to focus on how you will get back to your witness duties.”

            “What the fuck is your problem? Is it your birthday and you feel pissed because you have to spend it here? You’ve been having this attitude with me all damn day and I want to know why.” Abbie demanded, when Reynard attempted to ignore her, she blocked his path and shoved him back, she stared him down daring him to try to avoid her. “Hey, I’m talking to you! What is your problem?!”

            “You are my problem.”

            “Me?” Abbie scoffed.

            “Yes. You had a chance, you had a way out to leave, but you chose to stay.”Abbie had a moment of shock. “Yeah, you talk in your sleep it’s quite cute, I heard you talking to someone called Crane. Is he the other one? I mean when I saw you smash that crystal thing I thought you were just mad about being captured and you were venting. But it makes sense now.”

            “If I would have left, there would not be much of a world to even go back to. I did the right thing and I don’t regret.”

            “I hope that sense of gallantry and nobleness is purely you thing and not a witness thing because if this Crane wants to get you out of here, then he will have to do risk something.” Reynard raised his voice. Abbie threw up her hands exasperated. This was the reason why he had been short with her all day, was he jealous.

            “Why do you even care? It was my choice to make and my burden to bear!” Abbie yelled.

            “Because I care about you!” Reynard took a moment to realise that he admitted the truth. Abbie looked away from his intense eyes and wrapped her arms around herself as the adrenaline from the fight and the argument was leaving her body and she could feel the cold once more. Reynard continued. “I care about you a lot Nightlight, but if someone were to dangle a chance to be rid of this place right in front of me, I would take it without hesitation and leave you here alone and it’s messed I would leave behind someone I really care about. It proves that I belong here just as much as everyone. But you, you and your brightly shining soul don’t and you crushed your only way out.” Reynard finished. Abbie didn’t know how to respond, she could admit that she had grown to see Reynard as a friend in some way, yet when the only person you interact with is not trying to kill you was that really a friendship? Abbie decided to respond to just the last thing he said.

            “You said it yourself that we’re close to the castle. We can face Kur and we-”

            “I’ve been here for what feels like five years and haven’t met anyone who has known someone that has managed to survive the castle and beat the dragon king gatekeeper earn the key to release their soul and escape. The demons that were here and left were summoned by someone like Moloch. It’s damn near impossible Nightlight. Sorry to say it.” A silence of despair passed between them as the weight of Reynard’s words threatened to crush Abbie’s spirit. She swallowed hard and took a moment to steady her voice as well as blinking back tears that were threatening to fall.

            “What if I told you that we may not have to face Kur? The other witness Crane, he told me of Irkalla’s flute might be in the castle.”

            “In the Rotunda of Tears, I’ve heard the rumours of the thing, but it’s a needle in a haystack.”

            “Facing Kur may be impossible, but finding that needle might not be that impossible. You say you care about me Reynard, well if you really do I need you to lose that attitude because I cannot fall into despair not here because I will lose all my resolve to fight. I need you with me, but not when you’re like this.” Reynard gazed deeply into Abbie’s determined eyes the colour of fire agate and could see the small hints of her soul peeking through the shadow shroud he placed on her. Dear Gods, he believed in her, the sheer will her voice tugged at the cage around his soul.  “I’m going to take your silence as a yes.” Abbie sighed and smiled at him Reynard’s whole body relaxed when he saw her smile.

            “I’m sorry, I was being an asshole.”

            “Yeah, that passive aggressive shit does not suit you. You just have to find a way to make it up to me.” Abbie replied. Reynard nodded and picked up the pauldron to attach it to his sword arm. They approached the ice ladder and looked examined the where it led to.

            “I wished I saved my fire power because it is so cold in there, it was the whole reason why I hunted down a Hellhound.  When we go up this ladder, it’s going to be an ice hell with a spiral stairs that lead straight up. Getting to the end is difficult, there are bodies frozen stuck to the stairs.”

            “And running up there is not ideal as we could slip and fall to our deaths.”

            “I borrowed that strigoi’s leaping and speed abilities." Reynard turned and crouched low. "Get on my back and I'll carry you."

            "You're serious? Ok."Abbie jumped on his back and wrapped her arms and legs around him the two of them erupted into a fit of laughter. "By the way, carrying me does not count since you were going to do it anyway. You better find me a helmet or a really cool weapon." Reynard took note, then climbed the ice ladder with Abbie on his back with such ease, when he made it half way up the ladder he made a strong vertical leap and landed on the floor of the ice cave he looked skyward, it was like being on the bottom floor of a high-rise tower. The cold hit them hard, Abbie’s teeth started to chatter, she also felt Reynard’s body shaking underneath her. Abbie gave him a soft kick to the side. “Giddy up.”

            “Yes ma’am.” Reynard replied he ran up the stairs and brought forth the swiftness of the strigoi where he move so fast he felt his feet barely touching the floor. He jumped over multiple frozen bodies in their way, he neared a large gap in the stairs where some of the steps had melted off, he picked even more speed to run along the walls until he reached solid steps. Abbie congratulated him for his effort and it was at that moment it where they realised that they were having fun. With all the dangers around them that facing it together brought enjoyment from them. Abbie has never felt that way with anyone besides Ichabod and during his time in hell Reynard has never thought he would ever have fun and laugh as much as he did with her. Reynard sped through the rest of the spiral wall stair case as quickly as possible he could feel his cold begin to creep at his knees, he feared that his leg would give way and he would stumble if not for Abbie offering him words of encouragement to keep pushing through. Reynard made the final lunge and jumped over the multiple barriers in their way to run out of the ice cave to an intensely warm rocky mountain trail. He dropped to his knees and Abbie got off his back.

            “You did it!” she beamed. Reynard grinned back at her out of breath. Abbie hugged him their bodies trembled at the extreme temperature changes. Abbie sat down with her back against the wall and drew her knees up to her chest, she patted the space next to her gesturing for Reynard to join her. He practically crawled towards her panting. “This extreme change in temperature can’t be good for us.” Abbie opened canteen containing the healing water and poured it over her face, she handed it to Reynard and he did the same. He pushed his black hair from his eyes.

            “The last time I got through that ice tower I had to trick a snow harpy into carrying me up. That was not easy.”

            “Witches and harpies seems like you are just popular with the ladies huh?” Abbie playfully nudged him.

            “Well, you know.” Reynard winked at her and Abbie rolled her eyes.

            “Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, I breathed fire at that strigoi’s face.” She giggled when she saw how big Reynard’s eyes got.

            “What, how?”

            “I don’t know, it just happened, I don’t know if I can do it again.” Abbie said. Reynard pouted disappointed. “See if you weren’t throwing that teenage temper tantrum you could have seen it.”

            “You are never going to stop bringing that up are you?”

“No.” Abbie chuckled. “You’re a demon with strange powers and you were acting like a teenager with bad communication skills because...” Abbie trailed off and cleared her throat.

            “Because I care about you.” Reynard finished for her, he could see how it made her uncomfortable. “Look, I’m just saying that I don’t want to see you die, hopefully you don’t want to see me sent to a different plane.”

            Abbie thought for a while about what she should say next they have done a lot for each other and she believe that he did care about her. Abbie asked herself did she care about him and the answer was yes. “I don’t want that. I care about you too Rey. Of all the demons in hell I could have met I’m glad it was you.”

            “Thanks Nightlight.” Reynard jumped to his feet and helped Abbie up too. They stared up at the base of castle atop  the mountain, the very thought of standing at the gates was becoming a reality. Abbie raised her arm up to grasp at the air, she was so close to touching it.

            “We’re getting close.”

            “It only gets harder from here on, are you ready?”

   “I am.”

Chapter Text

 

Time was illusion, the cycle of night and day went by quick or slow it was all a gamble to guess. There wasn’t a real sun or a moon, just a warped sky that horribly resembled daylight and nightfall. Abbie was grateful she didn’t have to eat or drink anything to keep going, whatever magic was sustaining her body she was grateful for it. Sleep was strange, it wasn’t like she needed to sleep to keep going but it kept Abbie regulated a centred, she could escape into a comforting nothingness or meet with Ichabod in her dreams.

But now Abbie’s mind was playing tricks on her. They had been on this mountain trail for what felt like weeks yet there were days where Abbie would look up at the castle and it would seem so close and other days it seemed further than ever. Then there were the days where the castle would disappear completely hidden behind the dark clouds and the mountain fog was so heavy. Today was one of those days.

Reynard had once again carried Abbie on his back whilst he climbed the face of the mountain and jumped over jagged rocks until they found a mountain path safe enough to walk on. The path was long and rough made from years of giant footprints disturbing the earth. It was a risk traversing on this part of the mountains, but it was the quickest route in their vicinity. In the distance Abbie could hear the faint sounds of voice she looked behind her and felt the ground, thankfully the ground was not shaking, she listened carefully and heard the voices again this time louder it was definitely more than two were yelling. Abbie and Reynard exchanged looks and slowed down. They crept forward to hide behind a small rock spire and peeked around to see a small group of people on higher ground arguing back and forth with each other. There was about five of them, one of whom was shouting at a person that was hidden behind a protruding spur and dense fog.

“No, enough is enough! we are part of your squadron, not the cannon fodder we left for the bleedin’ feeders!” Yelled a short, stocky blond haired, bearded man he extenuated each word by pointing at the person out of view. His hand was slapped down by a woman came into view causing Reynard to gasp.

“You think any of you could have made it this far without me. How dare you question my wisdom?!” She said. The woman was tall, beautiful red-brown skinned, her long dark hair was in a thick single braid that fell past her muscular shoulder and brushed passed her waist.

“Look Orzala-”

“Don’t address her that way stupid.” One of the other men warned. Reynard sank back down with his back against the spire and cursed repeatedly under his breath.

“Hey, what is it?” Abbie questioned already dreading his response. Reynard provided a nervous smile and chuckle and scratched his head.

“You know how I said that... I stole the fire power from a Hellhound, that isn’t really the truth. See the woman with long hair that looks like she is about to rip that guy’s head off, I got it from her.” Reynard laughed against nervously and Abbie threw her head back stifling a groan.

“Why the hell did you lie, we had a moment we were bonding Reynard.”

“Hey, don’t judge me for lying when you are withholding information even after we had that moment Nightlight.” Reynard stressed her nickname to illustrate his point. Abbie was not amused and glared at him.  “Alright, so, before I met you I was with Orzala’s army thought safety in numbers right, but the army was really there to push her forward and the only people who may have a chance at even getting to the castle was those in her squadron. I worked my way through the ranks and got her good side then...”

“Oh god.” Abbie said already dreading what Reynard was going to say.

“She trusted me enough to make me her second and when her guard was down I tried to steal her fire. The thing is the fire from an Ifrit is uncontrollable and scary, so I couldn’t steal that much. She was mad.”

“Understandably, she wants to see you gone from this plane.”

“She thinks I am already that’s the beauty of it, we just have to hide and wait until they’re gone.” Abbie pinched the bridge of her nose and let out a puff of air expressing her annoyance with Reynard once more.

A small smooth pebble no bigger than penny shook, the ground made small tremors. There was a stillness that carried on for a solid minute until the head of a one eyed giant with huge tusk became visible through the fog.

“OH hell!” Abbie breathed.

“Their shouting drew it here.”

“Damn it.” Abbie looked up to check on the bickering group who had not even seemed to notice the rising beast, but that wouldn’t last for long. Abbie got out her crossbow, Reynard went to stop her.

“No! Just wait here, the fog will hide us.”

“Yeah, but for how long? We are literally stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

“Let me do it. I’ll climb on its head and stab the eye out, then jump off, then take out the leg so it’ll fall off the ridge to its death.”

“How about I shoot its eye out instead of you climbing on the thing? Let’s keep it simple.”

“Alright, that makes more sense to go for it. I’ve got your back Nightlight.”

Abbie cautiously approached the giant, she could clearly see the Cyclops whole body. It was holding a large wooden cudgel in its hand. Abbie noticed the fog was starting to thin out she hide behind another rock spire and aimed the crossbow at the Cyclops eye, yet the beast kept moving and turning its head, sniffing at the air most likely for a meal it was obvious that Abbie would not have a clear shot. Instead Abbie aimed for the h hand carrying the cudgel. The spectral bolt whizzed through the air and pierced the thick hard skin of the Cyclops causing the creature drop the large wooden cudgel with a hard loud thud.

“What was that?” Reynard heard a man from the yelling group ask from afar. His eyes darted back and forth from the group to Abbie.

“Did I leave you in miasmic swamp? No, I pulled you out!” Orzala shouted shoving her finger in the bearded man’s face, he in turn smack her hand away from him and squared his shoulders in an attempt to look intimidating. Reynard shook his head, the man would pay for that. He was thankful for the bearded man’s abrasiveness and ignorance occupying Orzala and her whole squad’s attention.

The Cyclops was staring at its bleeding hand confused, it wasn’t moving and Abbie took this as a golden opportunity to shoot it directly in the eye. The Cyclops let out a deep agonised roar, it stumbled around blindly and swinging its arms around in reckless abandon, it was slowly inching towards the edge of the trail threatening to fall. The Cyclops stomped its large green feet, causing the ground to shake so ferociously that the cries from the Cyclops was all that was heard and not the power struggle between Orzala and her subordinate.

“Nightlight!” Reynard gave a whispered shout and gestured that Orzala and her followers were approaching the suspicious sounds. Abbie focused on the Cyclops knee and shot it out, it roared and wobbled closer to the ridge. Reynard panicked when he heard Orzala voice getting closer as she ordered her subordinates to investigate the commotion. “Nightlight!” He called again with urgency.

Abbie whipped head around as saw the demons had left the area where they were arguing and were fast approaching them. Abbie ran to the large spire with Reynard, she took her hold of Reynard’s hand and he held her close to him and used his other arm to bring her closer to his chest. Abbie looked up and him and nodded signalling she was ready. She gasped once she felt the familiar coldness of Reynard’s shroud envelope her entire being until they were completely camouflaged in the shadows.

“It’s hard to yell at all of you with all this noise!” Orzala said. She stopped right near the rock spire that Abbie and Reynard hid behind. Abbie could now see her face, she was a beautiful woman she had a streak of white in her hair, thick eyebrows and a horizontal scar on her long broad nose. “Oh, it’s a stupid Cyclops.”

“Lady Orzala may I?” asked an older woman in a dark cloak. Orzala shook her head no and made a fluid motion with her fingers summoning a large fireball, she held it in her hand for a few seconds until it turned into a swirl of blue and red when it became the right shade of purple she desired she lobbed it at the Cyclops setting its entire head aflame. The giant roared and moved backwards, finally falling off the edge. She grinned when she heard the multiple crashes of the Cyclops falling.

“Now back to what I what you were saying Connor about how I was a bad leader. Did you see how easily I took out that Cyclops you need me. We all need each other so fall back in line.”

“No, not until you prove-“ Connor voice was instantly diminished as Orzala spun around and stood in front of him as a 8 ft tall demon with skin that resembled magma, Abbie could feel the sweltering heat that radiated off her body, it was immense the smooth pebble stone right by Orzala’s foot was somehow melting into a liquid, however no smoke emitted from it or her. Reynard pulled Abbie closer to him to keep her safe from them.

 “Be quiet you disgusting rodent.” Orzala bellowed she turned her attention to the thin man next to Connor and kicked him in the chest. The Ifrit viciously stomped on his face and chest, getting out all of her aggression with every stomp, Abbie covered her mouth to stop herself from uttering any type of shock. When Orzala was done, she composed herself and bore down on Connor. “Know this, the only reason why he is dead and not you is because you are not the most useless one on the team. Now fall in line.” With that Orzala shrank back to her normal size and her magma like body chipped away to reveal her smooth brown skin underneath.

“Yes Lady Orzala.” Connor stuttered in a defeated tone. He and the rest of Orzala’s team followed her back the trail and jump onto the wall. When they were completely gone Reynard released them from his shroud he rested back and breathed heavily. Abbie stood up to stare at the Ifrit’s old husk that was unbearably too hot to even be near.

Abbie approached the body of the man that Orzala deemed useless and had chosen to make an example out of. He was a middle aged, bespectacled man, his wrinkled skin was burnt horribly and a rib was sticking out of his badly bruised chest, it made a gruesome noise as he struggled to breathe, the man looked human, if he was a demon he would have revealed his true form by now. He really should stop and let the fires take him, but for some reason he was intent to suffer on this plane a little longer.

“Please.” the man managed to force out while coughing up thick dark blood. “Kill me.” Abbie bit her lip. Abbie aimed her crossbow at his head, her finger was near on the trigger the humming of the oncoming spectral bolt until she was about to pull until she heard a light growl and saw a large shadow moving in the fog, the ground shook once more. Abbie lowered the crossbow and backed away from the dying man she ran from the looming giant, Reynard followed close to her.

The man was screaming now begging, the giant would be occupied with him instead of sniffing them out. Abbie’s face remained unchanged, she didn’t look back, and she understood how it had to be now that they were so close

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---=-=-

The heavy onslaught of rain that Abbie and Reynard hid away in the sanctuary had now subsided, the rocks were slippery and cut into Abbie’s skin as she dragged her body up. Her hands had grown rough and knees were scuffed. Her body was haggard and slick and sticky with rain and sweat and dirt. Yet, as she rested on her scuffed knees a glimmer of hope as well and triumph was present in her eyes. Abbie opened her dry lips to speak but her words, but choked on her words at the sight before her.

No longer did she have to look up because the castle was in front of her, the only thing separating her from the castle was a long winding road and rickety rope bridge that swayed in the breeze. The light from the castle reflected off the soul keys that hung off the mammoth tree, one of those keys belonged to Reynard. He too was on his knees, covered in sweat and dirt and rain. He stared up at the tree and clutched at his chest yearning.

“Come on, we’re not there yet.” Abbie said, rising to her feet and offered her hand to him to help him up he accepted it and stood up. “We need a strategy things in there are going to be different.”

“The castle is a labyrinth, and everything we’ve seen outside it will be there too and a lot more. Things in there will mess with your mind and prey on every fear you have.”

“How long did you spend in there.”

“Not long, maybe a week.”

“A week? So you don’t have the most knowledge on where to go.”

“We’ll flip a coin and hope for the best.”

“I don’t see anything wrong with that.” Abbie retorted. “The plan is to find the flute and get your soul key back. We leave together. We fight the foes that we know we can take and out run the ones we can’t.”

“Do you have a better handle on your witch and witness powers?”

“Witch yes, witness no. Haven’t been able to breathe fire since then, and the dagger I’m not sure about it, why can’t I use another staff I made a tornado.”

“Yeah, I underestimated how magically inclined you are my fault you told me you’ve done big spells without any type of training. You have an enchanted ancient Ghanaian knife made from Damascus steel and the handle is the best type of Ghana gold right there on your belt, you know how rare that thing is.”

“I had a clue the first time you gave it to me and you didn’t want to let go of it.” Abbie teased. “Who did you steal it from?”

“I took it from Orzala.” Reynard chuckled at Abbie’s surprised expression.  “Keep using it, you won’t have to rely on only your blood to power your magic.”

“Well what about your shadow magic. They’ll be plenty places to hide in a dark castles.”

“True, but there is a good chance we won’t be the only ones hiding in the shadows.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Abbie replied. They neared the rope bridge a large unnerving vulture perched on a snow white tree that stared at them.

“Don’t look it in the eye, it makes you want to jump off.” Reynard warned. Abbie looked down as she passed the large bird of death and slowly walked on the rope bridge with Reynard following close behind her. She kept a firm hold as the bridge swayed to and fro , Abbie inched closer, putting one shaky foot in front of the other slowly nearing the gates. The loud squawk of the vulture startled her. “Ignore it.” Reynard said.

The buzzard kept squawking, taunting. Abbie smirked and walked faster with her head held high, she had fought hard to get this far and a demonic bird playing mind games would not deter her from storming the castle. Once reached the end of the rope bridge, the bird went silent and flew away and the rope bridge snapped and fell to the bottom of the pit of spiky jagged rocks and discarded weapons.

Witness and Demon stood together side by side at the castle door which told the story of a large dragon carrying a woman and devouring multiple people and a large where the dragon slept under. The top of the door had a menacing stone gargoyle with red beryl eyes looking down at them with contempt. The door was sealed by a large copper dragon head, the dragon growled and its mouth moved.

“Welcome caged soul to my labyrinth.” The seal spoke in a deep gravelly voice. “You wish to claim the key to your soul which binds you here? This no easy task, yet you have made it this far. But heed these words accursed one, when the weak court death, they are sure to find it.” A bolt of crimson lightning hit the seal, splitting it in two, the doors burst open inwards. Abbie held up her crossbow pistol and Reynard withdrew his sword, their eyes met and without a word they understood that they could trust each other here.

 

 

Chapter Text

Abbie stepped over a puddle of fresh wet blood to get inside the castle, the heavy doors slammed shut behind them and they heard the lock seal back up again. They stood in an open space, in the far side of the room where a stairs split of into two directions. Access to the stairs were blocked by a two golden suit of inanimate armour one holding a mace and the other holding an axe, their weapons crossed each others’ and they had fresh blood dripping them.

 Abbie didn’t waste any time, she fired a multitude of shots at the axe wielding one of the armour before she even saw it move creating several holes in the chest piece. Both suits turned their heads to face them together they advanced at the duo.

 

“Keep them separated!” Reynard called he used charged at the mace user and swung his sword low damaging the leg.  The living armour raised his mace and brought it down on Reynard, the demon hid behind his shield to keep his opponent's attention on him.

 

Abbie kept her distance away from the axe wielder, she had significantly slowed creature down by her pre-emptive attack. She aimed and fired another bolt this time to the head of the living armour faltered, Abbie glanced over at Reynard, who was getting backed into a corner by the other living armour. Abbie unsheathed her enchanted dagger the wavy pattern on the steel begun to move like a coursing river reacting to the blood in the room, Abbie dipped the dagger in the blood Abbie focused her magic energy which felt differently this time.

 

“Rey watch out!” Abbie made a strong slash in the air sent forth a powerful air blast that propelled the living armour away from Reynard and slamming it up the ceiling then it crashed back down.  Reynard came out from behind his shield and saw that Abbie’s attack had disarmed the living armour, he picked up the mace and brought it down on the helm. He didn’t relent in his assault, he hammered, dented and destroyed the armour until it was rendered useless.

Abbie used her blade to send more strong air blasts at remaining living armour it was forced high into the air caught in a funnel vortex. Abbie then took her crossbow pistol and shot him over and over until the vortex died down, the living armour had now become a broken pile of scrap metal.

 

“I think we’re off to a good start.” Abbie quipped putting her dagger away.

 

“Told you that blade was good, you made a mini twister not a big one that would have hurt us too.” Reynard picked up his sword from the floor and pointed up the stairs contemplating which way they should take. “Um...”

 

“What is it, which way should we go?”

 

“Well, it depends, do you want to deal with bugs or mangled bodies.”

 

“The second one,” Abbie said “because if I see a room full of demon spiders, no joke I am making that tornado again.” Reynard laughed, he led them to the left stairs, through a door to a long hallway as the door closed behind them the scrap pieces of metals started to vibrate and somehow generated enough heat to spark a fire that brought them back as if they were new. The golden knights returned to their post waiting for their next possible victim to walk through the entrance.

 

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Reynard held back Abbie’s hair and she vomited out the healing water that she had drank earlier, he rubbed her back making soothing circular motions. They had battled through 20 flights up and had dealt with the carrion feeders showing up in every turn. Seeing a Lamia gorge herself to death on the bodies of the fallen until her belly burst open was too much for Abbie to handle that she fell out of the shadows in which they were hiding inside so she could vomit.

 

“Let it out.” Reynard said. Abbie spat out the last bit and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “At least you didn’t get any on you.”

 

“Fucking hell!” Abbie spat.

 

“Do you wanna rest in-”

 

“No I’m good, I’m good.” Abbie assured. “Let’s keep going.”

 

“You sure Nightlight?”

 

“Thank you for your concern Rey, but I’m fine.” Abbie said, she took back her crossbow from Reynard and walked to a door leading into a long corridor where severed heads of humans and demons and monstrous beasts were mounted to the wall. “After you.” The heads on the wall were unmoving, but their eyes seem to watch them walk by intensely, Reynard assured Abbie that it was just a trick but it didn’t do anything to stop her from feeling unease.

 

“Alright, so at the end of this hallway is a torture chamber there are demons and humans that have been here for centuries in Earth years.”

 

“So someone in there must have info on where we Irkalla’s flute is who had to know where we can find the rotunda. But what if they are lying.” Abbie questioned.

 

“We’ll have beat the truth out of them.” Reynard shrugged. The closer they get to the end of the corridor the more they could hear the screams of horror and anguish coupled with maniacal laughter once they reached the end they stood at both sides of the door. Abbie took the lead and kicked the door open she shot a naked man dressed in a butcher’s apron in the head.

 

Reynard came out from behind her and used his shield to barge into the other man, he was thin and dressed in rags his skin was covered in blisters and open sores. The man scooted backwards into a corner where he cowered.

Reynard looked around the dungeon there were bodies of men and women stuffed into severely small cages that hung from the ceiling. The body that the men were working was an open torso with one leg the other limbs were nowhere to be found.

 

“Please sir, do not hurt me.” The man begged.

 

“Are you fucking serious?” Abbie and Reynard exclaimed in unison.

 

“I never wanted this. I was in the plane of endless torment. That demon brought me here to deliver torture rather than endure it but is still just as bad. He said he would help my legs if I did this to them.” The man mumbled.

 

Abbie took a step closer to the cowering man and tilted her head. “Show me your face.” She demanded.

 

The man slowly obliged and loved his hands away from his face and looked at Abbie with bloodshot eyes.

 

“Thomas Jefferson?”

 

“What?!” Reynard exclaimed.

 

“I recognised him from his hologram.” Abbie replied, leaving Reynard with more questions.

 

“Wait what?!”

 

“My name, you know my name I had almost forgotten it and you killed, destroyed the tormentor yes.” Thomas Jefferson crawled forward to Abbie reaching out to her leg. Abbie kicked his hand away

“Do not touch me!”

 

“I will not. I won’t I promise. You’re lost right I can help you.”

“Oh you can?” Abbie placed her hand on her hip and tapped at her spellblade.

 

“I know things, many things about this place I have been here for centuries now.”

 

“The Rotunda of Tears, where is it?”

 

“The Sorrow tower, that place is a heavily guarded there is no way.”

 

“Just tell us or I will open every cage here and they can all rip you to pieces and send you back to favourite plane.” Abbie threatened.

 

“The rotunda is on the 68th floor of the east wing, leading out of the castle you’ll see a large tower with a blue crystal dome.”

 

“We didn’t see it from outside!” Reynard said.

 

“You can’t see it from outside it is hidden by ancient magic, you need to get through the brimstone and unnaturally large creatures and the bridge is guarded by a terrifying beast”

 

 “If you are lying-” Abbie started he immediately shook his head no.

 

“I swear to you I am not. I’ve heard the Elder demons speak of it the Goddess Irkalla’s flute, but they have deemed it useless because only those that been blessed by a divine grace can use it. When the angels fell those who tried to repent were enslaved by the others to find it to escape. Only divine grace like Irkalla herself.”

 

“Blessed by divine grace.” Reynard mused. “That describes you perfectly Nightlight.”

 

Thomas Jefferson sat up, his curiosity piqued.  “It does? Please, you must take me with you it is of grave importance that I return to the mortal realm the Elder Demons were talking about the end of days. I knew a man who is the witness that was foretold, he needs to be awakened and find the man who is the second witness.”

 

“I am that witness.” Abbie smirked.

 

“You, that isn’t possible you’re...”

 

“A Black woman?” Abbie’s arched a brow and waited for his response. Jefferson bowed his head submissively. “Of course you wouldn’t call me that now would you?”

 

“You need to take me with you, there is a library world that may help you.”

 

“I don’t need to do anything for you. The library was recently destroyed and you are dead, there is no reason for you to come to my world. Hell is the only place you need to be.” Abbie finished, she glowered at this shell of man repulsed by him. Abbie walked passed making her way towards the steps out of the chamber, but the shaking of the cage and the gurgled grunts that came from the prisoners made her stop. She took out her spell blade and could feel it reacting to all the blood she made two rapid slashes that formed an ‘X’ the biting wind pushed at all the cages  so hard that they broke from the ceiling and the cage doors opened from the  impact.

 

“This is for Sally Hemmings!” Abbie ran out and up the stairs with Reynard. Bones cracked and limbs untwisted, the bodies bent and broke themselves out from the cage and advanced on Jefferson and then there were screams and nothing else. 

 

 “I can’t believe I just did that.”

 

“You gave a Slave owning, child molester the treatment he deserves. Every day you astonish me please don’t tell me you feel guilty.” Reynard laughed.

 

“No I don’t, I tried to go off on his hologram, but it didn’t really work.”

 

“I can’t believe this I’ve been here longer than you and never got a chance to torture a motherfucker that ran an internment camp or something, get some type of justice for my people.”

 

“They’ll be more terrible humans for you, don’t worry.” Abbie said. “We need to get up to the 68th floor, what floor are we on now?”

 

“The 21st I was thrown down right before I reached the 22nd floor so I won’t know what lies ahead for us.” Reynard said. He pointed at a large window that had vines within reach leading up. “See right there that’s where it happened. I didn’t know the vines had needle thorns I was destroyed when I made it up there then out comes this Rabisu to knock me down.”

 

“Then here we go, stepping forth into the unknown.”  Abbie gestured to a large door in the floor with ‘XXIII’ carved into the wood. “Get it open.”

 

“I really love when you boss me around Nightlight.” Reynard teased. He bent down and pulled at the heavy ring handle, even with his heightened demonic strength it was still a bit of a struggle to lift it up but he managed to get it open. There were concrete steps leading down and running water, Reynard peered inside and took a step down.

 

Abbie sensed an eerie presence.  “Rey get back!” Abbie pulled him back to her. Shooting from the trap door were wraiths, floating red skull awash with clouds of smoke and dripping with saliva. The wraiths locked eyes with Abbie and bore down on her drawn to her they swarmed to her Abbie opened her mouth and the golden holy fire poured from her mouth and surrounded herself, the wraiths screeched and dissipated. The barrier fell, Abbie wiped her eyes and she turned to look at Reynard, who was grinning ear to ear.

 

“Nightlight!” Reynard yelled his dark eyes twinkled with excitement and awe.

 

“I think it happens when I’m scared, but it never happened up there. Not when I was in Purgatory or went back in time to the 1700’s.” Abbie said, she cleared her throat and wiped her eyes.

 

“Well you are literally putting your body through Hell, and you are unlocking parts of yourself that you never knew existed. I couldn't do half of the things I do know before coming here.” Reynard finished with a hint of sorrow in his tone.

 

“Ok man with the shield get’s to go first.”

 

“Lucky me.” Reynard descended down into the dark space with his shield up Abbie followed close behind him, they stepped down reached the bottom the ground was a weird soft and sticky, they practically moved at a snail’s space to get through. It wasn’t that was dark but small hints of light shone through the cracks.

 

They came to a rather flimsy boarded up wooden door with claw marks that let the light through. Reynard pushed it open, the door fell flat forward on the floor only to reveal another forest that stretched wide and fat. The trees were bare of leaves jaggedly misshapen, and the bark secreted blood.

 

Abbie stepped passed Reynard to survey the area, she looked up the ceiling was still there, but it was moving to resemble a night sky. They were still inside the castle. The music was back that eerie and sad choir of sadness, pain and longing. Reynard didn’t seem to notice it. Demons and humans alike wandered through the forest bereaved, eyes glassy white and sullen faces.

 

“This is new.” Reynard said.

 

Abbie approached a young woman that was staggering near them, she was unaware of Abbie’s presence in the slightest.

 

“They’re lost in their nightmares.” Abbie backed away from the woman.

 

“How do you know that?”

 

“It happened to me before, but I wasn’t alone.” Abbie said, she let the young woman continue to wander around with the others. Abbie saw a tree with a door handle embedded in the bark she walked over to it and pulled on the handle, but it turned into salt in her hands, she turned around to see many trees with different door knobs and hands it to them.

 

“One of the trees has to lead us out of here.”

 

“There could be thousands of tree doors, no doubt looking for the door is what drove these people mad. Ok, we should go back and take our chances with the Rabisu.” Reynard turned back around looking for the tree they came out through however it was completely gone Reynard suppressed an urge to yell in frustration.

 

Abbie walked on passing through the wandering bodies with Reynard trailing not too far behind her. Together they sought out the trees with door hands and together their hands filled with piles of salt from each failed tree door.

 

“Abbie.”

 

Abbie nearly caught whiplash with how hard and fast she turned to look at Reynard.

“Did you just...”

 

“Just what Nightlight?”

 

Abbie frowned in the distance she heard laughter among the crowd that scratched at her memory, Abbie waded through a throng of wanderers pushing them away from her. She saw him coming out of a tree with a wide smile.

 

“Andy.” Abbie said in disbelief, she shoved a large demoness from her path and ran to him “Andy!” she called out to him.

 

“Nightlight wait!” Reynard called out to Abbie moving in between the crowds with her. “Who is he?”

 

“He was my friend.”

 

Andy eyes were a hollow white stripped away of all the colours and warmth. Abbie remembered how he looked in life, a twisted blood-thirsty monster and in purgatory a sad young man filled with regret. Now even with his faux serene smile she saw the  shadow of her long time friend, the boy who was also a foster child and sat with her the first day of high school. The cadet with so much promise and always did his best and the man he became before Moloch ever corrupted him. How on earth did get here from Purgatory?

 

“Andy can you hear me? How did you get here?”

 

Andy tilted his head, was she getting through to him. He caressed Abbie’s dark tresses then pointed to the tree he entered from. The door was wide open and it lead into a bright blinding white light, the branches of the tree move and grabbed Abbie.

 

“Nightlight!”  Reynard took his sword and whacked at the branches that had Abbie in its clutches. Abbie struggled and kicked.

 

“Let me go!” Abbie screamed and a stream of holy fire came out her mouth. The tree threw Abbie, inside the portal, the door just closed behind her and the knob vanished.

 

“Nightlight no!” Reynard yelled in protest. He unleashed a barraged of frantic attacks on the tree crying for it to bring Nightlight back. The tree swatted him away like a fly and then wilted away as if it were a daisy in the snow.

 

Reynard jumped back to his feat and targeted Andy pinning him against another tree. “Where did she go?” he demanded. Andy was no help he was too deep in his hallucination, Reynard let go of him and l ran looking for another tree, Abbie wasn’t far he could still feel her she was still close and he would find her.

Chapter Text

 

 

“Abandon all delusions of control.”

-Grigori: Dragon’s Dogma

 


 

Abbie was thrown into an empty ballroom with a high candle chandelier. She quickly got up and looked around the room, she heard a giggle in the shadows, Abbie pointed her crossbow at where it was coming from the giggling was now surrounding her.  Abbie withdrew her spell blade and cut the back of her hand, she waved it around to bring forth a ring of rapid winds to circle around her. The giggling turned into a mocking cackle.

 

“Stop playing with me!” Abbie demanded, but was met with a cackle. “Who are you?

 

“Keruya.” A chorus of whispers answered.

 

“I would love to put a face to a name.” Abbie was met with heavy footsteps clacking on tiles Abbie turned around trying to catch the demon, but it was always just out of sight. Abbie whipped back around to encounter wide milky eyes just like the wanderers still and cold as glass covered by a black gossamer veil. Keruya removed the veil and moved closer until she was inches away from Abbie’s face and with a soft voice she whispered.

 

“Fall into chaos.” Keruya kissed Abbie’s forehead and giggled once more. Abbie’s blinked twice and her warm brown eyes became cold frozen orbs just like this demon.

 


 

 

“Where am I?” Abbie looked around at the all too familiar place. She was in a classroom, in large letters the word ‘detention no talking’ was written on the blackboard. Her head was throbbing she touched her head and ran her fingers through her hair. Gone were her curly tresses, her hair was relaxed again. Abbie felt her face and looked down at her body, she was wearing her old school uniform. Abbie gasped and spun around to see her reflection in the window. She was in her teenaged body again, in Mrs Hayes detention it was a few weeks after Jenny was taken Abbie had gotten into a fight with another student who was making fun of her.

 

The teacher, Mrs Hayes looked the same, her short greying red hair pinned back and large glasses resting on the tip of her nose. She frowned at Abbie, folded her arms and spoke in her hard authoritative voice.

 

“Abigail Mills, sit down detention is in session.”

 

“Mrs Hayes?”

 

“Sit!” The teacher said again. Abbie sat down at her desk. “I want you to write a 20 page essay about why you deserve to be here. You won’t be able to leave until it’s finished.”

 

“I need to.”

 

“Is there a problem Miss Mills?”

 

“I’m not supposed to be here.”

 

“This is most certainly where you are supposed to be.”

 

“No, it’s not.” Abbie shook her head.

 

“Oh?” Mrs Hayes was amused and slowly walked to Abbie her heels clacking on the wooden floor echoed in the quiet classroom. “Care to share with us where you are supposed to be besides this classroom.”

 

Abbie opened her mouth to speak, but could not remember what she was going to say. She knew she had something important to do.

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“That is what I thought so please pick up your pen and write your essay.”

 

Abbie’s shaky hand picked up the pen and put it to the paper, as the pen nib touched the paper then it began to bleed. Abbie dropped the pen and looked around at the students whom were deeply engrossed in their paper. Their pens scratched away as they filed the paper with smudged blood ink.

 

“Hey, hey stop it now.” Abbie reached out to the student next to her. His head turned and she stared at him in horror. His eyes were duct taped open and his mouth was sewn shut. Abbie looked around at the other students who had the same things done to them. Abbie pushed away from the table and ran to the door.

 

“Miss Mills sit down!” Mrs Hayes bellowed.

 

Abbie ignored her and raced to the door she pulled at the door handle but it turned into maggots in her hands. Abbie screamed and shook them off of her she frantically stepped on the maggots. Mrs Hayes loomed behind her and the teacher’s voice became very low and very menacing

 

“You are not going anywhere Miss Mills.” Mrs Hayes grabbed Abbie’s wrist tightly and dug her fingernails into her skin. “This is where you belong and this is where you will stay for all eternity.”

 

Abbie shut her eyes and forced herself to remember. “Jenny.” She blurted out. “I have to get to Jenny.”

 

“Jenny is dead and you killed her!” Mrs Hayes spat. “You left her alone so many times and now she is dead.”

 

“That’s not true.”

 

“Abbie, why.” Cried a small voice, it was Jenny, stood at the back of the classroom covered in dirt and blood, her face slowly decomposing.

 

“Jenny?” Abbie whimpered.

 

“How could you do this to me Abbie? I hate you!”

 

“No!” Abbie screamed. “This is not real!” She freed herself from the teacher’s grasp and ran to grab a chair from a desk. Abbie threw it at the window shattering it completely, she jumped through and accidently cut her leg on the glass. Abbie braced herself for the impact of hitting the hard concrete, but felt cushioned floor in its place.

 

The room was stark white and padded she tried to move but found her arms and entire torso was restricted. Abbie heard that laugh again and the bells.

“Oh fuck this!” Abbie she scooted back to the wall and leaned against to rise to her feet. Abbie walked to the door and looked through the glass. “Hey, let me out of here!” There was no one in the halls that she could see, but she could hear the faint sounds of muttered voices. Abbie kicked the door with one leg hard and shouted for someone to get her out. She was growing frustrated and hit the door a final time before losing her balance and falling back to the floor.

 

Lying on her back Abbie stared at the ceiling and thrashed about desperately trying to remove the straitjacket she felt it being pulled tighter it left her short of breath. She moved back and forth that hard jerking her upper body, if she could dislocate her shoulder, maybe get one arm over her head. Abbie continued to struggle for maybe an hour before collapsing in the middle of the room staring at the ceiling. She heard the door unlocking but didn’t have the energy to sit up to see who was coming in.

 

“Good Morning.” A woman’s deep voice called as she entered. She was stood over Abbie looking down on her, she was a doctor in a white coat, and hair neatly tied back in a tight little knot. Behind the doctor were two orderlies. Abbie could make out her ID card Dr. Parsons. “How are you feeling today Abigail?”

 

Abbie remained silent and forced herself to sit up, she looked at the two orderlies thinking about how she could use one of them to escape. Dr. Parsons knelt down in front of Abbie and pursed her lips in a small smile.

 

“I know they make you uncomfortable, but after what you did last time they and the jacket are needed.”

 

“What,” Abbie croaked and cleared her throat “what are you talking about?”

 

“You were experiencing some delusion you were calling me a demon and then tried to choke me.”

 

“That didn’t happen.” Abbie brushed it off quickly but then had a quick flashback of her choking the doctor.

 

“Memory loss is one of the side effects of the medication. Do you remember why you came here Abigail? You were having an episode in class, you started ranting about demons trying to get you and you tried to hurt your teachers. You started talking about how they made you kill your sister Jennifer. She tried to calm you down but you said she was a demon too, and tried to hurt her.”

 

Abbie shut her eyes and could see the images play out in her mind just as the doctor described. It wasn’t real but she felt like it was genuine memory. The Dr. Parson got up and walked around Abbie, she knelt down and started to unbuckle the belts to remove the straitjacket. “Please don’t attack me because the orderlies will have to deal you and you have been hurt enough.”

 

Abbie sighed in relief as the straitjacket came off, she stretched and flexed her aching joints and massaged her shoulder.

“Thank you.” Abbie said.

 

“Officer Reyes had to restrain you at the school because you kept hurting yourself and you didn’t stop hurting yourself when you got here.” The doctor smiled weakly and sighed taking off her glasses. “I want you to go back home Abigail but you need to get better first. Your sister wants to see you and so do your parents.”

 

“My mother is dead, she died in a place like this.”

 

“Abigail? I think you should come with me.”  She stood up and opened the door, she waved her hand for Abbie to follow her. Abbie stood up on shaky legs and walked hesitantly to the door that led to the bright light she shielded her eyes. Abbie collapsed to the floor and once again laughter and bells echoing all around her.

 


 

Abbie awoke in a soft bed, she savoured the warmth and comfort for a few moments before opening her eyes. She was in a bedroom that she had never seen before. A nice bed, posters of music groups on the walls, a TV in the corner a desk with a computer. It was a teenager’s bedroom. It was the room she always wanted to have when she and Jenny bounced around from different foster homes. Abbie looked around the room with wonder as she gazed at a wall full of photos of fabricated memories and even a photo of the Christmas morning where she and Jenny got the dollhouse that they had begged and pestered their parents into getting for them complete with dolls that looked just like the sisters.

 

However, among all the photos there was one that stood out from all of the others. Lori and Ezra were smiling happily together with Abbie and Jenny in between the both of them. Abbie stood on her tip toes to reach up and pull down the picture. She stared at it and could feel when and where it was taken.

 

“Abbie, baby come downstairs it’s time.”

 

“Mama?” Abbie breathed. She set the picture on the bed and rushed out the bedroom and down the stairs to get a good look at the house. The layout of the house was similar It was her childhood home except it was beautiful and warm and everything she dreamed of. Abbie walked into the living room where her father, mother and sister were sitting together on the sofa. Lori stood up and Abbie wrapped her arms around her so tightly, she even smelled the same way too, vanilla oil and coconut oil.

 

 

“Abbie, what’s wrong baby girl?” Lori pulled back to check Abbie’s forehead and neck looking for signs of a fever.

 

“I am, I am Mama. I’m just so happy to see you.” Abbie said. Lori smiled, she hugged and kissed Abbie on the forehead.

 

“Come on its movie night remember.” Lori led Abbie to the sofa Abbie sat beside her and Jenny, she rested her head on Lori’s shoulder. Everything felt so right, like how it was supposed to be.

 

 “What are we watching?” Abbie asked.

 

“I don’t know Jenny picked the movie.” Ezra said.

 

“It’s a classic, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow the animated version I loved the one with live action one but this one tops it by far.” Jenny assured.

 

“You know I never watched either of them. What is it all about?” Ezra asked. Jenny feigned shock and clutched her non-existent pearls.

 

“Daddy, how can you live in Sleepy Hollow and never even seen the cartoon? You had to have read the book by Washington Irving in school, it was required reading for us.” Abbie shivered at the name Irving but not sure why she did so.

 

“I grew up in Chicago and moved to New York for college where I met your mother.”

 

“I can’t believe this, Abbie could you please explain to dad what The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is about.”

 

“You know I’ve never heard of that one.” Abbie replied.

 

“Oh my god I swear me and Mama are the only ones who... just look.” Jenny sighed and picked up the DVD and showed it to Abbie. Abbie stiffened at the sight of the cover it was of the headless horseman who held a jack-o-lantern in one hand and an axe in the other. “So there’s this really goofy looking teacher called Ichabod Crane.”

 

“Ichabod Crane?”Abbie repeated.

 

“Yeah, he and this guy called Abraham Van Brunt are after the same girl because she’s cute and her dad’s rich. So Abe decides to scare away the competition. Let’s just watch.” Jenny picked up the remote and pressed play. 

 

Abbie watched the animation pensively, the names all sounded so familiar yet she had no memory of ever watching this film before. She looked at the back of the DVD case to check the year it was made in the 60’s. The film was now at the scene where the lanky big forehead and crooked toothed school teacher Ichabod Crane was trying to woo the dark haired Katrina much to the chagrin of Abraham.

 

“Oh god I always get second hand embarrassment at this part.” Jenny covered her eyes and stifled her laughter.

 

“What are you talking about this is my favourite part.” Lori said.

 

“Hush, don’t spoil it for those of us who never seen it.” Ezra said.

 

Abbie was getting a headache every time she saw something that brushed at her memory and any time she try to latch on to it the pain was like a sharp sting.

 

The movie was now at a place where Ichabod Crane was riding his horse back home in the woods, he heard a deep cackle and saw the headless horseman behind him and screamed, Abbie screamed too startling her family.

 

“You okay Abbie?” Jenny laughed. “Remind me to never to watch scarier animation with you.”

 

“Shut up!”

 

“You just up!”

 

“Girls come on now.” Ezra said.

 

“No this real.” Abbie pointed at the TV she stood up looked at the headless horseman swing his axe again. She felt the sharp pain on her leg and looked down on her bleeding leg transfixed as it dripped on a beautiful knife.

 

“Abbie, baby girl are you feeling alright.” Lori asked concerned.

 

“Be quiet.” Abbie snapped

 

“What?” Lori was shocked. “Abbie you are just a little tired maybe you do have a fever Jenny call the ambulance.”

 

“Ichabod Crane...Ichabod Crane is real and this whole life is not. None of it ever happened!” Abbie bent down to pick up the knife.

 

“Abbie listen to yourself,” Ezra said “you are not making any sense. Ichabod Crane is just a character in a cartoon based on a really old novel now give me the knife.”

 

“Abbie please you’re scaring me.” Jenny cried.

 

“Abbie drop the knife, you are going to hurt yourself.” Lori pleaded.

 

Abbie was trembling she looked at her family conflicted she gazed into her mother’s deep brown eyes for clarity for confirmation that is was truly her that Abbie was the one who was losing her mind and her family was never torn apart. It was quick and if Abbie had blinked she would have missed it, the flash of hard blue and white in Lori’s eyes. Abbie scowled.

 

“You’re not real!” Suddenly everything was frozen in place and Abbie was back in her adult body. That haunting laughter and bells returned once more.

 

“Reality is what you make of it. Grace Abigail Mills.” Keruya appeared, her black gossamer veil once again covering her face, she stood near the fake Ezra and toyed with his clothes with her thick sharp claws.

 

“You!”  Abbie said disgusted.

 

“I take it you are upset for some reason. Isn’t this a good life, the life you wanted where your family stayed together and all the supernatural burdens and Ichabod Crane is just a fairy tale. Andrew is quite happy in his dream state which in includes you. Imagine my surprise to see you in my garden after being done with him.”

 

“How dare you.” Abbie began. “How dare you invade my mind and warp my memories and twist my dreams this way. So I can be what a part of your collection?”

 

Keruya was practically floating as she moved around the room to admire her handiwork. “Yes, you’re pretty and I like pretty things in my garden. I’m giving you a choice Grace Abigail. You can stay in this sweet dream or...” Keruya was close to Abbie and dug her claws into her bulletproof vest and dragged it along ripping the sturdy material speaking so softly “Or you can live out every horrible nightmare your broken little mind has thought of.  There is no third option no escape, come quietly into this goodnight and accept your fate.”

 

Abbie used her knife to conjure a concentrated air attack so fierce it sent the demon crashing through a window. Snow began to fall as the walls of this near perfect imitation of her home that Abbie had wished she grew up in crumbled to tiny snowflakes too. Abbie was back in the ballroom, where the candle chandelier was spinning it made the room twist and warm and Keruya was nowhere to be seen.

 

Abbie clenched at the jarring screech of nails on a chalkboard assaulted her ears.  Abbie pushed her knife forward and stilled the air nullifying the noise. The apparition of Mrs Hayes appeared next to her and played with her hair.

 

“Back to detention Miss Mills.” The Hayes aspiration croaked in a loose imitation of her voice, there was also a strange red aura around her. She was a wraith and Keruya was controlling her. Abbie hit her in the nose with her elbow, she then stabbed the fake teacher in the neck and watched her dissipate with a howl.

 

 

“Where are you Keruya, too afraid to show yourself?” Abbie taunted.  She saw a quick flash of an ethereal being with four legs gallop passed then vanished, Abbie was struck in the back and brought to her knees.

 

“Stupid mortal child.” Keruya spat.

 

“Don’t you understand that she was trying to spare you from the horror wasting away in these depths?” The wraith disguised as the doctor bore down on Abbie. Abbie kicked at her legs to bring down the wraith and stabbed it in the back. She crawled to a corner where her crossbow was thrown, her path was blocked by a man in her way she looked up and shook her head.

 

“Luke?” Abbie did not appreciate her ex being brought into this after the man had ignored her calls trying to explain to him what happened with Andy and Irving.

 

“It would be better for everyone if you stayed here, you ruined my life with all the demonic baggage you had around you Mills. I mean, look at what it did to Devon.” The wraith pointed to another wraith wearing Devon’s guise broken neck and all. 

 

Keruya laughed and her bells rang out. Abbie released a rapid wind blasts that pushed the wraiths hard that they were vanquished when they hit the wall. Abbie saw Keruya laughing on the other side of the room, she back up and ran to the demon reading her knife to generate a spiral to hit her with, at the last second Keruya teleported out of sight.

 

The clacking of multiple feet galloping echoed in the large ballroom, but Keruya was nowhere to be seen and her mocking laughter grated on Abbie’s nerves. She saw her crossbow on the other side of the room and went to retrieve it she bent down and two hands picked it up for her. It was Sherriff Corbin. No, it was a wraith pretending to be Corbin, Abbie reminded herself.

 

“Don’t you ever get tired kid?” he asked. Abbie put the knife in front of the wraith’s face. “I shouldn’t have kept all of this from you, you were going through a lot of shit and I was planning to ease you into it.”

 

“I should’ve told you straight up and let you decide. You would have said no and I would still be alive, and Joe he wouldn’t be harbouring a monster inside him. Maybe I should have just stayed back and let you continue down your angry little path to hell because this is where you ended up anyways.” The Corbin wraith said so harshly. Abbie closed her eyes pushed the knife into his face, she didn’t want to see what she was doing to him she heard a tight and short screech and exhaled the breath she was holding. Abbie picked up the crossbow her blood boiling and screamed at Keruya.

 

“Enough of this!

 

Abbie started shooting with wild abandon with her knife in the left hand she waved it around in circles then plunged it into the ground. Ferocious hard winds whipped around Abbie, it combined with the slowly falling snow creating the beginnings of a snowstorm. Abbie remained still through it all searching for any sign of Keruya in the ballroom.

 

A bloody hoof print appeared on the floor and a flicker of figure headed to the left Abbie fired up in that direction, with a pained yell Keruya was revealed. A lithe bluish white centaur with a silver mane and tail, her veil was torn revealing glass mirror eye was cracked and bleeding. Abbie fired up at the chandelier above the centaur bringing the huge metal piece crashing down her lower half.

 

 Keruya attempted to remove the chandelier off her with one hand as the other was crushed. One of the candles of the chandelier burnt off more of her veil showing more of her face and chest. She had gaunt and pointed face with large far apart eyes and thin lips, translucent skin that was a pale blue and she wore a blue leather cuirass.

Keruya grunted and threw her head back in defeat her helmet slipped off and atop of her head was a broken crystal horn. Abbie’s storm was starting to settle and small zephyrs had taken its place, she stalked over to the demon but now her mother Lori stood in front of her arms outstretched. This was Keruya’s final trump card.

 

“Abbie, this has gone on far enough. Look at you, you are suffering. If you stay here in this garden you can be at peace and we can have the second chance you’ve always dreamed of. Come with baby girl.”

 

Abbie knew she wasn’t real she knew it wasn’t but her face and voice and even her scent made it hard for her.

 

“Remember when we used to sing together all the time, I would tuck you in at night and sing you our favourite song. We can still do all of that and more if we are here together.”

 

“Abbie you deserve a father that was there for his two wonderful girls. Who would have protected you from all of the evils you had to endure.” An Ezra wraith appeared next to Lori.

 

“You deserve to live the life you always wanted Abbie.” said a Jenny wraith. “We can have the type of normal sister relationship we were robbed of. You said it yourself that if you could go back and fix things for us that you would, well this is your chance.”

 

“Jenny I-“ Abbie faltered.

 

 “Go with them, Lieutenant.” Another wraith wearing Ichabod’s face stood beside Abbie. “Abbie, you have done all that you needed to do. Your role as witness was fulfilled it was to guide me along my destiny and you have accomplished that in most noble way. Be with your family in the afterlife. It’s what you deserve.”

 

It was all tempting, the wraiths called her name over and over begging her to accept it begging her to say yes. Abbie shut her eyes and tried to block them out and when she opened them again she saw them for what they truly were ghostly servants protecting their master from harm. Abbie fired four shots and they screamed and exploded her heart was heavy and saddened she walked over to Keruya and looked down on her with utter disgust.

 

“Tell me how to leave this place.”

 

“The candles take one and it will show you the way. Take it and get out.” Keruya choked coughing up some blood. Abbie squeezed the handle of the knife. She knelt down over Keruya the demon laughed at her again Keruya showed Abbie her refection in her eye. Abbie’s face her face was full of scratches, cuts and other people’s blood. “This is the real witness, I’ve seen into your depths child. Chaos runs through you.”

 

Abbie snarled and stabbed Keruya through her cracked eye breaking it completely she stabbed out her other eye she moved the blade around making sure that the glass was completely shattered. Keruya’s body rapidly decomposed into sand that was blown away by the soft breeze in the air. All that was left from the demon of illusions was the armour chest piece she wore, the helmet and the burnt veil. Abbie looked at the highly detailed helmet the beauty of this piece of armour had been marred by centuries of blood and rust. Abbie picked up the helmet and touched the dyed blue leather cuirass that was emblazoned with a phoenix insignia she dropped them down quickly and picked up her knife when she sensed a presence in the room. A carrion feeder? She turned around and slashed a hand.

 

“Fuck.” Reynard cursed recoiling his hand back, he looked dishevelled badly hurt with a large claw marks on the left side of his face. “It’s me Nightlight.”

 

“Rey...” Abbie took a moment to catch her breath. “I...just, I’m...” Abbie trailed off still shaking. Reynard went down to her side and put his hand on her shoulders and brushed her chin.

 

“Nightlight I...are you alright?” he asked. She clearly wasn’t but he didn’t know what to say. Abbie hugged him close and tight. She rested her head on his chest and let her tears fall.

 

“Oh god I-I want to go home.” Abbie voice cracked.

 

“I know, and I promise I’ll get you back home to your sister and to Crane I swear it on my entire bloodline.” Reynard vowed.

 

Abbie was sick, her head hurt and her body was exhausted she was truly drained but was also grateful that she wasn’t alone. It didn’t matter how they met and what the circumstances were that had aligned them at first. Because now in hell in this draconian castle situated on this vile island all they had were each other.  Abbie understood why that why the boy in the strigoi nest would rather be in another plane to endure a harsher torment if it meant that he wouldn’t suffer alone. The solitude coupled with the fear of demonic presences around every corner was bearable if you were with someone.

 

Reynard felt the dark chill in the air the feeders were coming now, he pulled back from Abbie and summoned the door to their sanctuary. Abbie picked up the helmet and grabbed a red candle from the fallen chandelier, Reynard helped her pick up the leather cuirass. They ran into their refuge and slammed the door shut, Reynard touched the window to see what beast had appeared, another Lamia she skulked around and sniffed the air looking for them.  Reynard looked at Abbie who was sitting still on a pew he went to sit down beside her and said nothing. Her hand found his and she squeezed it softly.

 

“You found me because of your shroud spell right, like before?”

 

“Yeah I found a tree that led to some halls with guard dogs. I’m so sorry everything happened so fast the last thing I wanted was for us to be separated again especially in the castle.” Reynard said

 

 “The demon she was a Night-Mare. I remember a page from my ancestor’s journal I glanced at it briefly when I was up there. They have these glass horns that they use to give people nightmares.”

 

“Who know what came first the demon or the term.”

 

“Her horn was broken she was a weak demon but was still able to play with my mind there were moments where I really, really wanted to give into the fake bliss.”

 

“Demons of illusions are usually the strongest they know how to manipulate you and fuck with you emotionally even when they are weakened. But you still stopped her in her domain. Do you wanna talk about it, what she made you see?”

 

“No, not now.”

 

“You sure?”

 

“I’d rather talk about the armour I took from her.” Abbie showed him the helmet. “I think this is what let her half horned ass still do illusions on me.”

 

“It’s beautiful, could use a spit shine though.” Reynard replied. Abbie used her sleeve to clean up the inside of the helmet.

 

“What do you think of the armour, it’s pretty right?” Abbie asked.

 

Reynard looked at the leather cuirass and blew away some of the sand that was still on it, he admired the decorative carvings and how sturdy it was. It was clear that the demon liked to have whimsical things. 

 

“I’ve been looking for armour like this for you, something that really complements your holy fire and maybe a cape.”

 

“Oh like the angels over there, that helmet alone messes with my peripheral vision.” Abbie pointed to the tapestry depicting an angel with six wings, most likely a former seraphim clad in silver full plate armour and a white cape billowing in the wind. 

 

“Yeah but, it’s hard to find something like that is for someone that’s 4’11.”

 

“I’m 5’1, and you know that.” Abbie jokingly warned. She looked at the helmet and placed it on her head it just about fit her head, she took it off setting it down next to her. She took the leather cuirass from Reynard and stood up.

 

“Alright help me get this thing on.”

 

“Don’t you want to rest?”

 

“No, I want to go home Rey and I know you do too we can’t slow down now.”

 

“As you wish.”

 


 

Abbie adjusted to her new leather armour, it felt similar to the bulletproof vest just it was just prettier, she and Reynard had cut a large undershirt and laced it at the back for her to wear underneath. The greaves, cuirass and helmet were all mismatched and old but she felt comfortable in them and could move well in them.

Reynard checked the window to see if Lamia was still there, she had grown bored and slinked away leaving a slimy trail in her departure. “She’s gone, now how do we leave this place again?”

 

Abbie showed him the long red candle burning a black flame. “Keruya said we take this candle to the fireplace and it reveals the path.”  Abbie went to the door and pulled it open Reynard followed behind her and sealed up their refuge. They walked to the large fireplace where the mantel looked to be hand carved marble that had carved sphinx on both sides of the post. When Abbie got close enough with the candle the fireplace lit off a roaring fire they waited for a full minute for the fire to die down to expose a clear gritty path. Abbie let Reynard step in front of her, to protect her, shield raised and sword drawn. She broke the red candle and the entrance was blocked once more.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

The 61st floor was disgusting. Abbie and Reynard trudged through a murky dark dripping tunnel. Reynard tore off a piece of his shirt and gave it to Abbie so she could wipe off the saurian blood off her face from their last battle. They ran through most enemies and used lost loners as distractions to slip past monsters, now they were here dealing with large blood sucking jumping worms.

 

Abbie stopped and held on to Reynard to stop him. “Do you hear that? It’s running water, come on.” Abbie led the way to a left tunnel and walked up crumbling steps to see a long running green river and a long wooden boat with a lantern hanging on the front.

 

“Should we get on?” Reynard asked unsure. Abbie stepped closer to the boat and could now see on the side that it had “63” carved on to it.

 

“Looks like.” Abbie said and stepped down onto the boat, Reynard did the same. Reynard looked around for a paddle to row but the boat suddenly took off slow and steady down the river.

Abbie sat in a boat as it sailed through a dim gloomy tunnel, the sombre choir had returned. Reynard didn’t notice it and continued toying with the boat’s lantern, she was the only one who could hear it and gathered that it was due to her being a witness. Abbie closed her eyes and try to focus on the words but they were all too jumbled up and nonsensical for her to understand fully. The choir was singing over each other half muffled. Abbie closed her eyes and tried to focus on the some of the words , she heard the word ‘return’ then the choir abruptly fell silent.

 

“No not now.” Abbie groaned.

 

“Awake?”

 

“I wasn’t sleeping I was in deep thought.”

 

“Sure you were, dreaming about Crane again?” Reynard teased.

 

“I wasn’t sleeping.” Abbie argued.

 

“It’s good to dream about your loved ones, the ones you left behind.” Reynard sighed.

 

“Is that what you dream of?”

 

“I can’t dream, my soul is caged, when I sleep I sometimes I see visions of Kur other times it nothing. I think that’s why the Nightmare demon was having a hard time with you, your soul is still your own.”

 

“Who did you leave behind besides your dad?”

 

“Well my mother, my brother and sister but they can handle themselves, my friends.”

 

“No special someone up there that you want to get back to?”

 

“I only have eyes for you Nightlight if that’s what you’re asking. This is the most romantic place we’ve come across so if you want to kiss me now is the time.”

 

“Boy stop.” Abbie rolled her eyes and kicked at his leg. She sat up and smiled at him then looked at the watch on his wrist. “Does that even work?”

 

“No, stopped working a long time ago.”

 

“I feel like I have been stuck here for months. I’m afraid that when I get back everyone would have moved on even if it’s a short time a lot can happen in one day let alone weeks or a year. Don’t you ever worry about that?”

 

“Of course I do, I’m worried that everyone has forgotten about me I’m probably homeless too. But all you can do is push out those thoughts from your head because it’s supposed to make you depressed.” Reynard unhooked his watch from his wrist and handed to Abbie. “Take, at least its right twice a day.”

 

Abbie accepted the watch and held it to her heart. “Thank you.” The boat was slowing down and they realized that they were nearing the end of the river. A young girl stood at the end of the bank and carried a long wooden stick taller than her with a glass bottle full of fireflies that illuminated her heart shaped face.

 

Abbie stood up and safely put the watch away in her pocket and picked up her crossbow. The girl raised her hand to bring the boat to a still. Reynard got to his feet and stepped out of the boat and helped Abbie out too. They cautiously approached the child.

 

Her skin was a odd translucent brown, her large eyes took up most of her face and were a crisp autumn orange. Her hair was grey, wavy and touched the floor. Behind her were two tall white doors with ‘64’ on it.

 

“Greetings sufferer, feeling lucky?” the girl questioned shakily, her bottom lip quivering. She pointed to the floor to a small pile of coins. Abbie crouched down and picked up a silver coin that had a griffin’s head on one side and a basilisk on the other. The girl opened up her hand for Abbie to place the coin in her palm. The girl examined the coin and grinned flashing her bright crooked teeth, she flipped the coin it slowly moved in the air flipping back and forth.

 

Abbie watched the sides of the coin come into view. Was their next opponent determined by which sign the coin landed on? It had to be or else what as the point. Abbie thought quickly which would she rather fight a griffin or a basilisk? It was impossible question to answer like what would you rather have thrown at you shit or diarrhoea? Abbie weighed her options, the basilisk, looked large and heavy and was probably very powerful it could also be quite slow. While a griffin was a lion eagle it could fly, and she and Reynard could not. The choice was clear. The coin was falling slowly back into the ghoulish girl’s hand. Abbie squinted her eyes to manipulate the air around the coin for the side of the basilisk to land in the child’s hand. The door on the left was pulled upwards and the child ghoul threw the coin inside.

 

“Goodbye.” She sang.

 

Abbie nodded and walked through the door as did Reynard, the door crashed down behind them to block their only exit.

“We were lucky, basilisk are slow we can out run it.”

 

“Yeah really lucky.” Abbie muttered. They walked down a spiral ramp of the arena, they heard a rumbled and deduced it was the basilisk sensing their presences. The guttural growl was followed by a shocking screech. “Something else is here.”

 

Abbie crept to edge and looked below to see the large blue scaly monster shake lunge at a man wielding a halberd and a shield. Reynard gasped at the sight which startled Abbie.

 

“What is it?” Abbie questioned.

 

“I know that man, he’s trouble we need to get past him while he is fighting the basilisk.” Reynard said frantically, Abbie agreed and held on tightly to his hand. Reynard enveloped them into the shadows and moved quickly around the arena searching for a new exit. “Damn.”

 

“Of course a way forward shows up after that thing dies. Should we help him or wait it out?”

 

“We should wait it out.” Reynard panted.

 

They watched the man fighting from a distance. He was a white man of a darker complexion, his hair was light brown and loose curls and he was clad in full plate silvery armour. He toyed with the basilisk and delighted in the harm he inflicted on the monster, he laughed when he jumped on the basilisk back and drove his halberd deep into the creature’s neck. The basilisk screech was gurgled, it slumped to the floor and slowly bled out.

 

A blue-grey skinned short faun trotted to the man to congratulate him on the kill. “Master will you be harvesting the heart now?”

 

“No not yet, it buffed my armour so it can die slowly.”

                                                                             

“Master I smell someone watching in the shadows.” The faun croaked.

 

“You do?”

 

“Yes I can smell them sire, will you kill them?”

 

“Depends who it is. Come out come out wherever you are?” the man called. Reynard and Abbie stayed still inside the shadows. The silver armour clad man removed the halberd from the basilisk neck and twirled the long weapon around thrice before plunging it into the ground duplicating the weapon. He picked up the halberds and threw them around the room hoping that they would impale someone.

 

Reynard narrowly dodged the attacks, Abbie could see he was putting a strain on himself, beads of sweat were on his forehead and his arm around her waist was shaking.

 

“Rey you need to stop.”

 

“I can keep going.” He panted

 

“Rey!” Abbie frowned.

 

“Ok Nightlight, but follow my lead ok.” Reynard pulled them out of the shadows and his whole demeanour shifted from worried to tense. He smiled at the man and greeted him with a bow, Reynard also nudged Abbie asking her to do this too. “Gideon, you couldn’t let me admire you from afar even for a little bit?”

 

“Reynard!” Gideon exclaimed. The men embraced each other and shook hands. “If I had known it was you hiding in there I would’ve have made it harder for you.”

 

“What are you doing back on the island?”

 

“It’s a long story but it ends with me at a crossroads and on a scavenger hunt.” A loud groan erupted from the basilisk, Gideon scowled at the beast that was taking an awfully long time to die. He politely excused himself and walked to the body and picked up a halberd and slashed open the chest, reached inside and pulled out the slowly beating heart of the basilisk that was a raw garnet and tossed it to the faun.

 

“Good show Master.” The faun squealed catching the garnet heart.

 

The body of the basilisk quickly dissolved to reveal a giant bronzed and coloured glass box lamp with the number 68 on it. Abbie hid her excitement, she wanted nothing more that to get inside with Reynard and get Irkalla’s flute but Gideon stepped in her view and smirked at her.

 

“I don’t believe we’ve met.”

 

“This is Quina she’s a witch and friend of mine.” Reynard interjected, nearly stumbling over his words. He felt anxious at the way Gideon ogled Abbie.

 

“Are you more than a friend? Reynard shadow magic is heavy on you.”

 

“She and I knew each other on Earth.”

 

“Has your coven tried to summon you yet?”

 

“Quina was exiled-”

 

“Reynard please, I think Quina can speak for herself?” Gideon said growing annoyed.

 

“Yes she can. My coven did banish me here as punishment when they caught me trying to summon Reynard. If you were hoping to tag along with a witch you will have to look elsewhere.” Abbie retorted. It was an easy lie that felt natural and lined up with what she thought Reynard was going to say. Gideon took a step closer to her and Abbie raised her crossbow. “Personal space.” She warned The faun hissed at Abbie, Gideon bit his lip and grinned.

 

“I like you Quina. Allow me to formally introduce myself. I am Gideon former Prince of the Principalities order.”

 

“You’re an angel?” Abbie said in disbelief she quickly corrected herself. “You were an angel?”

 

“A Principalities Angel to be exact, but yes I followed Lucifer, he was a plucky young pretty thing who gave a very motivating speech that made a lot of sense and still does. Haven’t seen him since we lost and fell.”

 

“You’ve been trapped here since then, aren’t you mad at him?” Abbie questioned and Gideon chuckled.

 

“Inquisitive aren’t you, must be a very strong witch to make it as far as you have.” Gideon winked at her and sat down on the base of a broken pillar one leg crossed over the other. “But are you strong enough to face Kur?”

 

“Gideon you know-”

 

“Silence Reynard. I like to get acquainted with new arrivals to the island. Your armour and weapons look adequate but you have not acquired anything spectacular. I met an Ifrit named Orzala she had a large army with her she’ll do fine here but I’m worried about you because all you have is Reynard and he can be quite resourceful but he is nothing special.” Gideon laughed.

 

“No offence taken.” Reynard muttered under his breath.

 

“Lady Quina you are new so let me explain Kur to you. He is an unstoppable ancient dragon of Sumer, one of the first of the dragonkin to walk the earth, I’m assuming you have heard of dinosaurs, imagine that but with intelligence and magic. This basilisk is a baby in comparison there is no way in this hell that a witch and cambion could stand against him.”

 

“Everything has a weakness” Abbie countered.

 

“True, too bad those who know of Kur’s end up leaving. The only ones known to have bested Kur have been Sumerian Gods Enki and Ninurta. You think you can defeat him, a witch and your cambion partner?”

 

“No offense taken.” Reynard mumbled again.

 

“Kur is a cycle, both times I have laid eyes on him he appeared to me in a different form. He is never the same dragon and when defeated this whole island changes, from the forest to the top of the castle.” Gideon scoffed at her, Abbie grew aggravated at his open mockery.

 

“So you’ve seen him and lost twice? you aren’t any better than us.” Abbie countered. Reynard gave a look of fear wordlessly telling her to back down.

 

“She is still learning the demonic hierarchies Prince Gideon.” Reynard apologised on Abbie’s behalf making sure to call Gideon by his preferred title that the former angel bestowed upon himself.

 

“Reynard, don’t be so dramatic I know she’s new. Now where was I...yes I saw this very island crumble and rise anew.”

 

“You did? When, who defeated Kur?” Reynard asked desperately.

 

“It happened shortly before you arrived here my friend. It was another Sumerian God that was banished here, his name was Etu’iliu. He is probably stuck in the abyss I hear the fight severely weakened him because he crushed Kur’s bones into dust. If he was able to pull himself to the human world then he didn’t do it alone.”

 

“The Hidden one.” Abbie whispered her eyes widened at the shock. Everything made sense now. Pandora wanted them to fight her monsters to gather energy to build a portal that would guide the Hidden One back to her after he had defeated Kur and the eye of providence was to restore him back to full power.

 

Yet even if Abbie had given Pandora the eye of providence she still would not have helped her leave hell until she was desperate enough to worship The Hidden One so they could have a witness on their side and use her abilities for their own gain. Abbie looked at her arm to see the brand and clenched her fist.

 

“So why are you back, is the third time the charm?” Abbie asked.

 

“No I’ve given up on Kur, I just came to get the basilisk heart. I did mention that I was on a scavenger hunt for a different guardian on another plane. Why don’t you both join me?”

 

“Sorry friend not this time.” Reynard bowed his head in apology.

 

“I understand the dreams of Kur haunt you, you want to seek him out and gaze upon the glory. Until we meet again Reynard and Quina it was a pleasure. Come along Janx.” Gideon said. He stood up and used his halberd to open up a portal and disappear. Reynard breathed a sigh of relief now the fallen angel had departed.

 

“He seemed like an asshole.” Abbie said.

 

“You noticed.” Reynard said. He opened the door to the bronze box lamp and they entered, it shook and slowly rose from the ground and went through the ceiling.  

 

“I take it that he was the one who gave you the talisman.”

 

“Yeah he was, right before he left for different plane. I guess you could call him a friend that sees himself as being superior to you and leaves you on your own when it suits him.” Reynard sneered.

 

“Guess he didn’t find you cute enough to stay.” Abbie teased, earning a small chortle from Reynard.

 

“Good one Nightlight.”

 

“Oh we’re back to Nightlight now what happened to Quina?”

 

“It was the first name that came to mind. Is your name Quina?” Reynard questioned, Abbie shook her head no. “Damn.”

 

“So you’re half human, that’s not all that surprising.”

 

“Really, why?”

 

“I don’t know, it just makes sense. The way you worry about your dad but not your mom, you are the first Cambion I’ve met  though.”

 

“There are a few of us these days but I hear we are making a comeback. We rank quite low on the demon hierarchy, not because we are weaker but it’s because a lot of demons have a disdain for humanity.”

 

“I take it Gideon is one of those demons?”

 

Reynard scoffed. “Gideon likes to surround himself with lower caste demons to make him feel big, the guy has some real self-esteem issues. Told me he was the first one to join Lucifer. Humans were weak and pathetic in comparison and his ultimate fantasy is to see humanity cower before him and a demon army.”

 

“Sounds like he would have really loved Moloch’s attempted reign.”

 

“Maybe but it is obvious he likes you, Gideon does have a fondness for bad witches though, sees them as a step above humans. He’s been trying to escape for a long time but like all fallen angels he is bound in chains until shit gets real. Or until he stops being a fool and make real friends with the higher ups but still most guardians want to maintain a balance but that balance has already been disrupted since Moloch.”

 

“Purgatory shook when Moloch died, a lot of things broke free, and word definitely had to travel because I was dealing with hell spawns up there.” Abbie said.

 

“At least when you get home you’ll have all the new demonic info to fill up the blank pages in your journal.”

 

The glass box lantern was speeding up, the duo held onto the handle bars, the glass lantern crashed through the ceiling tower. Abbie looked down to see how far they have come and looked up to see how far the castle kept going. The glass box lantern spun around fast disorientating them and crashed back down landing on the castle walkway, leading to a tower with a blue crystal dome. Abbie pushed the door open and the glass reverted to sand.

 

“Here we are Rey. Let’s do this.” Abbie stepped out of the case and walked along the battlements. Closer to  the tower, a statue large woman made from lapis lazuli blocked the door that had  many symbols engraved on it. Reynard came near the statue hiding behind his shield. Water leaked from the statue’s eyes that flowed smooth and elegantly almost hypnotic. Reynard put his shield down and swayed side to side and stepped closer to the statue.

 

Abbie saw the statue mouth begin to part and shook Reynard’s shoulder.

“Rey come on! Rey.” The statue mouth opened wider, did it intend to swallow them. Abbie shoved Reynard out of harm’s way and blew holy fire at the statue.

 

“I yield.” The statue wailed and dissolved into wave that washed over Abbie and Reynard. They stood up, coughed out the water and gasped for air.

 

“What just happened why are we wet?” Reynard asked disorientated.

 

“You were in a trance come on.” Abbie held his hand and guided him into the tower, Reynard felt his whole body sting when they passed the threshold yet he felt ultimate comfort with Abbie holding his hand.

 


 

 

The rotunda of tears.

The tower of sorrows.

It was Irkalla’s dungeon, the room was large and cylinder and the walls were incredibly tall and the stairs attached to wall were tremendously out of reach from the only windows. Along the walls were engravings of pictographs and Sumerian cuneiform that depicted a dragon with a girl in his hands and a burning temple. A castle with a large creepy tree with stars hanging from the branches. Abbie heard the messed up music again louder but one song was clearly drowning out the other, she put her hands over her ears to block it out.

 

“Nightlight what’s wrong?”

 

“The music...I hear it again.”

 

“Kur’s song I didn’t think you could hear it too. Draws you in makes you want to seek him out. Really sweet and annoying.”

 

“More like sounds crashing together and two songs playing at high volume and off key.”

 

“That’s not Kur’s song.”

 

Abbie shut her eyes to push out the music but heard clear whispers telling her to concentrate. “Witness.” The voices whispered. Abbie opened her eyes and to see a ghostly brown skinned woman with long dark brown thick curly hair in simple robes with a sullen expression. In her trembling hand she held on to a smooth wooden flute with hints of precious jewels.

 

“Irkalla?”

 

The woman smiled sweetly at Abbie and put the flute to her lips and played an entirely different tune that Abbie had never heard before, she was playing her cry for help to Enki. Abbie paid close attention to the notes she was playing and put the melancholy song to memory. She stepped forward to Irkalla but the woman floated backwards and into the walls.

“No wait!”  Abbie cried out to her and touched the carvings and received a mild jolt and a vivid premonition of Irkalla and Kur. The dragon was a four legged dark slate coloured monster with thick claws and wings that were so large that they eclipsed the sun. Abbie shuddered at the image of the primordial dragon “Kur.” Abbie whimpered.

 

“You had a vision?!” Reynard exclaimed. Abbie nodded. Reynard touched the wall and was immediately thrown backwards to the opposite side of the room.

 

“Rey!”

 

“I’m good.” Reynard quickly reassured her. He clutched his head and stretched his muscles. “Fucking demon repellent, I wasn’t even doing anything harmful. Shit!” Reynard pulled himself up to lie on the broken bed which was surprisingly comfortable. He made a mental note to drag the bed into the refuge for his companion so he could retake his old bed. 

 

“It’s a story but it’s fractured.” Abbie said while tracing the carving with her fingertips. She felt something sharp scrape at her finger on a crying Irkalla’s right eye. Abbie picked at the small round piece and pulled it out from the wall. It was an elaborate key but to where?

 

Abbie closely studied the jumbled wall carvings around the room looking for any signs that could show her just where the key was supposed to go. She stopped at the large tree with stars on the branches with words and a bird flying away.

 

“I think the flute bypasses Kur’s ownership over your soul.” Abbie said and pointed at a symbol. “You see this? I’ve seen it before I think it means captive.”

 

“Really, I was always told that going through Kur was the only way to be free.”

 

“Who told you that, Gideon?”

 

“Good point.”

 

“Who knows, but it doesn’t hurt to try.”

 

“This is some Da Vinci code shit. Do you need me to do anything?”

 

“No I don’t want you getting thrown around and breaking something important. Besides this shouldn’t take too long I figured out all the hidden messages in Drunk in Love.

 

“You did, so what does cigars on ice mean and what is watermelon it can’t just mean fruit, right?”

 

Abbie chuckled and continued to wall carvings she saw some writings over the dragon and wished for a telepathic link to Ichabod was real so he could translate all the cuneiform. Why couldn’t she end up in the hell where Latin is used? Abbie thought to herself. Higher up on the wall cravings an older looking Irkalla depressed surrounding by something she couldn’t quite see at her height.

 

“Rey come here and give me a boost.” Abbie said. Reynard got up quickly and hoisted Abbie up onto his shoulders with ease and held on firmly to her legs.

 

“I don’t know why I thought you wouldn’t do it like this.”

 

“I’m full of surprises Nightlight. You know I never really thanked you for all that you did for me.”

 

“Thank me?” Abbie said incredulously. “You’re the one that decided to help me. Gave me a place to rest easy and even when we were separated you came looking for me.”

 

“But I would have never gotten this far without you. Your strength, your skill, your stubborn determination. I wouldn’t even be able to enter this tower if not for you and now I could be getting out sooner.” Reynard swallowed the lump that formed in his throat. “Nightlight I think...I mean I’m-”

 

“They’re eggs! Put me down.” Abbie said. Reynard helped her down a little perturbed that he didn’t get to finish but this was important. Abbie rushed over the bed and attempted to unscrew the brass bed knob, when it wouldn’t come off she looked for something to break it. She found an old brick under the bed and used it to smash open all four of the bed knobs  she picked at the outer shell to unveil a small piece of shiny blue pieces inside. Abbie carefully picked out all the pieces and laid them out on the bed, once all the pieces were in close proximity sparks of electricity and fire generated from them. The pieces levitated and fused together to create a large egg that was just a little smaller than a basketball. It was shiny. blue and decorated with different coloured pearls and carnelian and gold tiger’s eyes.

 

Abbie watched transfixed at the beautiful ornament that floated in front of her, she took note of a small keyhole. She felt around for the strange key in her pocket, she pulled it out then inserted into the egg and turned it to the left. The egg blossomed open rotated emitting soft small light that danced around the room and played another new tune that was actually soothing.

(Music Box)

 

The wall shifted and rotated putting the disorganized carvings into its rightful place detailing the story of Irkalla’s capture and time spent as Kur’s wife and her escape from the underworld. Seven distinct pieces were moving around the tower walls that Abbie focused on. Two pieces came together to show a mouth on a flute.

 

“You see those red pieces on the wall when they come together I think that’s when the flute will appear.”  Abbie said.

 

“Then it looks like you were right to follow them Janx.” Abbie and Reynard heard from behind the door. The wooden door broke open and there stood Gideon with his pet faun Janx. The music sphere stopped and fell to the floor breaking back into the small   pieces. “Hello Reynard and nice to see you again Quina.” the former angel gave a sinister smirk.

 

“Gideon, hi what are you doing back here?” Reynard stammered nervously.

 

Gideon’s smiled sunk into a scowl. “Did you really think that your shroud could hide the presence of a divine being from me? It may have been centuries but I still remember how it felt, the very fact that she stands in that room with you by her side confirms it. This is why you should never trust the word of a cambion Janx, they are natural liars.”

 

“Yes master.” The faun agreed.

 

Abbie removed her knife and Reynard protectively stood in front of her. Gideon kept all his focus on Abbie.

 

“Tell me, is your name even Quina? On the way back I was pondering over what you could be, I was thinking you could be another angel or even a scion of Christ. Never did I think you were a witness, one of the two olive trees and lamp stands! I get it now Nightlight that’s cute and clever.”

 

Reynard unsheathed his sword in defense of Abbie. “Leave now.” He said in a low harsh growl that just amused Gideon.

 

“No I think I’ll do the opposite.” Gideon put one foot past the threshold and then the other and he remained unharmed. Abbie and Reynard stared at him in disbelief. “Don’t be surprised as soon as you brought him here you weakened this place allowing our kind to pass through.” The faun trotted behind him snickering.

 

“Our kind! Our kind!”  Janx sang and clapped his hands.

 

“I must admit that I am curious about who the four horsemen are, anyone I know?”

 

“The horsemen are gone Master, Moloch raised them from human vessels but they turned on him and are no more.”

 

“That’s disappointing to hear, oh well. However the witness has been awakened and that means humanity is in turmoil.” Gideon said pleased. He strolled inside and admired the large tower room, his hands touched the carvings on the wall, and he stopped at the crying Irkalla and kissed the wall. “I always wondered how inside of here looked like, I enslaved many repentant Angels hoping their prayers have been answered and they could deliver me to freedom. But now I have you witness.”

 

Reynard charged at Gideon sword drawn ready to strike. Gideon side stepped the attack and threw Reynard to the other side of the building. Gideon cam for Abbie next but she blew holy fire that encircled her. Gideon was astounded.

 

“Wow Holy Fire I haven’t seen that in a millennia.” Gideon forced his arm through Abbie’s barrier, the scent of scorched flesh filled the air and the former angel’s hands cracked and melted yet, he showed no sign of pain in fact he revelled in it. His hand closed around Abbie’s neck tight, he strangled her and her barrier dissipated.

 

“Stop!” Abbie choked.

 

“This can all go so easily Lady Witness all I want is Irkalla’s flute, don’t make me torture it out of you because I am really good at that.”

 

Reynard rushed to Gideon with a wooden stool and bashed his head. Gideon let go of Abbie and dropped to the floor holding his head, Abbie scrambled away from him. The faun cried out for his master and bit Reynard’s leg. Abbie reached for her crossbow and shot the faun in the belly the weak creature slouched over in pain and bled. Reynard stood above Gideon his sword drawn. Gideon green eyes were flashing an angry red shade of pure hate.

 

“How dare you, you filthy fucking cambion. If not for me you would be screaming in the plane of endless torment!” he bellowed.

 

Reynard swung his sword with all his might with full intention to separate Gideon’s head from his shoulders however at the last second Gideon caught the blade of the sword in his gauntlet covered hand stunning Reynard his green eyes flashed red. He forced it back making the handle to slip from Reynard’s hand and the pommel to hit Reynard in the forehead. Gideon pulled himself up to see Reynard he was bleeding from his forehead with Abbie next to him with her crossbow and laughed at them.

 

“Come on Reynard this is foolish, I like you. You’ve been here for what feels like half a decade yes? You know that the flute only takes one person.”

 

“You’re lying.” Abbie accused.

 

“Oh, can you read Sumerian cuneiform? Reynard you have the eyes of a desperate man. How about we offer her to Kur as a new wife in exchange for our freedom?”

 

“If someone were to dangle a chance to be rid of this place I would take it.”

 

Those words that Reynard had spoken were replaying in Abbie’s head. She gripped her spellblade tightly and watched Reynard’s face. He cared about her but he also cared about leaving, if he turned on her she would have to kill him, even if it would pain her.

 

“Fuck you Gideon.” Reynard spat.

 

“Ugh you cambions are so predictable. Fine I will kill you and then I will force your girlfriend to give me the flute and her soul can join you in whatever piss stained plane you end up in.” Gideon screamed. His eyes turned in to a burning angry red and four large tarnished copper wings that had speckles of aqua green rust covering them. His wavy light brown hair was now a white smokeless flame.

Gideon called for his pet faun, the creature limped over to his master as fast as he could, and then Gideon punched the faun in the chest and pulled out his blood coated silver partisan. The faun irrupted into flames and his body became ash.

 

“Dear God.” Abbie breathed.

 

“Nightlight you need to get the music box working, get the flute and leave.”

 

“No, I’m not leaving you here with him were in this together.”

 

“Listen to me it is way too dangerous for you to stay here. Once you call out to Enki I’ll try to come with you if not please don’t look back.” Abbie wanted to fight him on this but he held on to her shoulder. “Nightlight please don’t argue with me.” He let go of her and picked up his shield. He moved towards Gideon and took a deep breath, large leathery bat wings sprouted from his back and his inky black hair became longer with a snow white streak. Two curved golden horns grew from the top of his head. He looked back at Abbie, her mouth agape, unsure of how to react to his appearance. His eyes had transformed from the brilliant brown copper to gold on black orbs.

 

“Rey?” Abbie whispered.

 

“Oh no you didn’t tell her that you are incubus, did you feed on her while she slept.”

 

“I would never do that Nightlight I swear.”

 

“Just what did your mother teach you?” Gideon mocked.

 

“This.” Reynard flew up and swung his sword at Gideon’s armour denting it the strong metal.  Reynard went for the full offence and Gideon blocked and dodged most of his attacks. Gideon was faster he flew behind Reynard and lunged forward with his partisan, Reynard blocked him with his shield and flew out of the way. The former angel was relentless in his assault and Reynard was focused on defending himself by staying out of reach.

Gideon grew tired with this dance and went for Abbie instead, Reynard dove back down and put himself between Abbie and blocked him.

 

“Oh God Rey!” Abbie cried, her voice full of concern.

 

“Don’t worry about me!” He stressed.

 

“You are a strong fighter than I remember Reynard.”

 

Abbie’s hands were shaking as she gathered up the different pieces of the puzzle to create the egg. The lighting sparked once again putting together the music box. Abbie searched the floor for the key. She pushed away the faun’s ashes and found the key and wined it up to play the lights danced on the wall enhancing the shadows of Reynard and Gideon’s aerial fight.

 

The walls seemed to move at a snail’s pace, Abbie had located the seven crucial pieces and were just waiting for them to come together. She looked up to see Reynard doing his best to hold his own, Gideon took a swipe at his chest and blood hit the floor and Abbie. She knew she had to do something to help him, Abbie got her crossbow and tried aiming it at Gideon, they were moving around so much it was hard for her to get a clear shot. Reynard dropped low to get out of the way and Abbie fired a bolt that pierced Gideon’s leg. Reynard used the distraction to hacked at Gideon’s right hand trying to force the partisan out. Gideon lunged at Reynard to impale him the demon moved back and disappeared into the shadows only to reappear behind him bashing him in with his shield.

 

“That’s enough of that.” Gideon unleashed a shocking ball of light from his body that purged the room of all shadows and forcing out Reynard. Gideon impaled him with him partisan, Reynard held onto the pole to stop Gideon from pushing the weapon forward and by god did it burn, he tried cutting the pole in half but to no avail. Reynard looked at the wall to see that it had stopped moving, Abbie had done it.  

 

All seven slabs had now come together to show Irkalla with the flute. Abbie reached into the wall carving and pulled out the flute from it.

“Fuck!” Reynard yelled as he crashed into ground the impact was so hard that it caused a small crater. Gideon laughed from above he got ready to swoop down partisan at the ready. Abbie slid over and removed Reynard’s shield from his arm and blocked the final strike.  Gideon jumped back and leaned on his weapon.

 

“Nightlight leave please.” Reynard choked on his blood, his body  was severely battered and his wings were tattered the bone in his forearm was broken and sticking out.

 

“Would you like to be next witness?” Gideon taunted. Abbie leered at him which satisfied Gideon. “Don’t pout my Lady, I don’t want to see that beautiful face of yours messed up so let’s discuss your options.”

 

“Ngh-” Reynard coughed and choked hard.

 

“You can use the flute for yourself and leave and I won’t kill your cambion I’ll do much worse to him. Second choice: you can do that silly hero thing and destroy the thing we’re all after but I’ll just kill Reynard and deliver you to Kur to become his bride. And then there is the last choice the smart one. Play the song for me and I’ll leave you here and you can keep my old talisman.” Gideon swung around the necklace and awaited Abbie’s answer.

 

Abbie wiped the tears away from her face with the back of her hand. Reynard was bleeding profusely he wouldn’t survive long, she needed to get him back into the healing fountain quick.

 

“I’ll do it.” Abbie said.

 

“Thank you I am deeply grateful to you Lady Witness.” Gideon bowed smugly.

 

Abbie put the flute to her lips and played Irkalla’s Plea for Enki as the tears rolled down her cheeks.

(The song)

 

Abbie handed over the flute to him and Gideon tossed her the talisman. A crack of lightning followed by a thunderous roar startled them, it rained inside the tower heavy and hard that it became flooded within seconds. A coursing river surrounded Gideon and he was raised up to the sky and passed through a large wave he bid them farewell as he disappeared into the abyss. The rain had stopped once he left, Abbie used the talisman to bring forth the doors of the sanctuary.

 

Abbie took out her knife and held the handle with both hands, inches away from her face. Abbie willed a soft bed of circling wind to carry Reynard. She slowly guided him into the refuge her head throb to remain focus and keep him steady even though he was so heavy. She set him down close to the fountain and wiped the sweat off her brow. Abbie ran back to the door to lock she then went over the bed to rip off pieces of the blankets dipped them in the fountain and used it to heal some of the wounds on his body. She pressed the cloth to the large gash on his head and watched it slowly closed up, she did this to some of the other open wounds on his body but blood flowed freely from the bigger ones. Abbie took a big bowl and poured it over his chest and waited for them to heal.

 

Reynard skin grew pale he wasn’t healing on his own, he probably had internal bleeding. Abbie took the bowl and filled it up with the water and brought it to his lips for him to drink.

 

“Come on Rey, please. Please drink, you can’t go under, we can find another way out please.” Abbie begged. The water spilled from the corner of his mouth and ran down the sides of his face and neck. Abbie wiped away his blood soaked hair that covered his beautiful face, he was unresponsive, who knew how long he would last in this plane. “Rey please don’t leave me. I didn’t leave you.” Abbie wept, her tears splashed on his cheeks and she felt him flinch in her arms.

 

Abbie took hold of the bowl of water and drank some, she held it in her mouth, she put her lips to his and passed the water through to him, massaging his neck to help him swallow. Abbie did this twice more until she felt Reynard stir his fingers tap on her arm he coughed to open his mouth to speak.

 

“Nightlight...g-go.”

 

“Shhh, don’t speak just rest alright.” Abbie caressed his hand and kissed his head relieved. He would survive.

Chapter Text

 

 

Abbie sat down on a pew playing with Reynard’s watch, winding it around trying to guess what time it was back home while she waited for Reynard to wake up. She kept herself busy as he slept by cleaning off the blood from their armour and weapons and making sure Reynard was comfortable.

Even with his own natural healing abilities and the spring water, he had not fully recovered but then again Gideon was just so ruthless with him. Abbie was just grateful that the bone in his arm had gone back in place. Reynard had yet to revert to his human guise although his large broken wings had vanished into the intricate tattoos on his back and his golden horns were still there. Reynard was a handsome man but Abbie had to admit there was something strangely alluring about him in his true demonic self.

 

Reynard groaned in pain trying to move, Abbie dropped everything and was at his side in an instant. He moaned in agony, and his breathing was ragged, Abbie dipped a rag in some of the healing water, rung it out and placed it on his head. His bare and badly bruised chest heaved up and down.

“It’s alright Rey, I’m here.” Abbie soothed.

 

“Nightlight?” Reynard stirred slowly, his eyes fluttered opened revealing his demonic gold eyes. Abbie smiled and him and he smiled back happy that she was the first thing he saw. He moved to sit up but winced at the pain it caused him in his chest, back and arms.

 

“Stay still alright. I thought I almost lost you.” Abbie said caressing his face and pushing back his hair, Reynard felt her finger brush against his horn and that is when he remembered he was still in his true demonic form. He had revealed himself during the fight against Gideon, since it was the only way he even stood a chance against the angel.

“I-” Reynard coughed and tried again- “I didn’t want you to see me like this Nightlight. I never wanted to scare you.”

 

“You don’t scare me Rey.” Abbie traced the ridges of his horns with her fingers to show that she wasn’t fearful of him, Reynard shut his eyes and relaxed in her touch “So, Incubus huh? I had a run in with a succubus incordata, up there. She was red, had horns but she didn’t have any wings.”

 

“Incordata...the copycats, out of all the Lilin clans they are the worse. My clan are the Umbra-amans the ones that have wings, use shadow magic and don’t eat hearts.” Reynard listed.

 

“All I know is we could have flown up the mountain.”

 

“You think I didn’t try that on my first day here? Had a plague of burning wasps trying to eat my wings.”

 

“That’s nasty.”

 

“It was.” Reynard sighed and met Abbie’s gaze full on. “You should have left, you had a way out and you didn’t take it. Again!”

 

“Back when we were fighting strigoi you said if someone offered you a chance to be free from here you would take it without hesitation. You looked me in the eye and said you would betray me, but you proved yourself wrong. You fought Gideon and put yourself at risk, how could I leave you?”

 

“Because you have a mission, a destiny!”

 

“He would have tortured you!”

 

“You should have let him!” Reynard raised his voice. “God Nightlight why do you keep sacrificing yourself for other people? You went to purgatory, to slavery times, to hell where you had two opportunities to leave but you didn’t take it. The first time I understood: the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. But now you did the opposite, you chose to save me and let Gideon walk out. I’m not important, no one will care what happens to me.”

 

“Don’t say that, you are important to your family and to me! There is always another way and it’s through Kur we are leaving together and that’s a promise.”

 

“You heard what Gideon said.”

 

“Fuck Gideon!” Abbie exclaimed. “When we get out we’ll deal with him.”

 

“Nightlight–”

 

“Yeah this Nightlight thing is getting old. My name is Grace Abigail Mills, but I go by Abbie.” Abbie smiled. Reynard was stunned silent, she told him her name. She trusted him, she knew what type of demon he was and she still trusted him.

 

“Hi Abbie, I’m Reynard Sawai it’s nice to meet you.” Reynard said then laughed and tried to suppress a groan of pain in his ribs. His bare chest was still badly bruised and Abbie could tell he was trying not to show his discomfort. she held his hand. Reynard gave her hand a tight squeeze and laid a kiss on the back of her hand. That small touch sent something pulsating through him and suddenly Reynard’s mind was flooded with visions. Abbie naked and writhing in pleasure, he saw flashes of her with past lovers and of her alone touching herself, what she liked at what she didn’t. Reynard forced those images from his mind and let go of Abbie’s hand.

 

“Is something wrong?” Abbie asked.

 

“You kissed me on the mouth?” Reynard asked in an accusatory tone.

 

“I didn’t kiss you.” Abbie said confused. “I mean our lips did touch when I was saving your life because I was trying to get you to drink the water.”

 

“Oh fuck no, no!” Reynard groaned hitting his head and knocking at his horns.

 

“Is this a demon way of showing gratitude or is this a you thing?”

 

“Sorry, believe me I really am grateful for you saving me. Hey random question did you maybe dream about me in a sexual way?”

 

“What the hell?!”

 

“I take that as a no, which is good.” Reynard looked away from Abbie as she sat there arms folded waiting for him to explain himself. Reynard cursed Gideon for breaking his wings he wanted to desperately fly away to avoid this conversation.

 

“Rey, what are you trying to tell me?”

 

Reynard thought deeply about what would be the best way to explain. “The word incubus comes from the Latin word incubo which means to lie upon.”

 

“I’m going to stop you right there and ask you kindly to get to the point.”

 

“A kiss from my kind can have you under my thrall. I can see all your desires and know where to touch you and use that knowledge to send you to a sexual frenzy and consume your energy eventually killing you.” Reynard expected Abbie to recoil in disgust, at the invasion of her privacy but she didn’t.

“I’ve been able to control it since puberty that’s the first thing you learn when your powers manifest. I think my body went into survival mode and that is what triggered it. There is a possibility that you could be under my thrall and unable to resist anything I want you to do.”

 

“I’m not.” Abbie said simply.

 

“You could be.”

 

“I doubt it.”

 

“How do you know?” Abbie jabbed Reynard in his bruised ribs causing him to howl in pain. Abbie did it again. “Stop it.” Abbie did it once more.

 

“See I didn’t listen I’m not under your control. Your ability to put people under your thrall is probably always set to off and you need to switch it on.”

 

“There had to be a less painful way to prove your point.” Reynard whined. “But I still had visions of you naked and...”

 

“Don’t act like you weren’t imagining me naked before.” Abbie teased.

 

“Well, you got me there.” Reynard clucked his tongue.  Abbie rolled her eyes and moved to get up but Reynard held on to her arm. “Wait a minute.”

 

“What’s wrong now?”

 

“Nightlight...I mean Abbie I... thank you.” That’s not what he wanted to say.

 

 “Get some rest, ok.”

 


 

 

Once again Abbie waited in the stone temple ruins for Ichabod to show, if the witnesses were linked she should be able to telepathically summon him into this shared dream world. Abbie closed her and gave a loud mental shout to Ichabod.

 

“Lieutenant?”

 

“I can’t believe that actually worked.” Abbie opened her eyes to see Ichabod crouching on the floor slightly disorientated.

 

“Hope I didn’t catch you at a bad time?”

 

“No I was just in the archives with Agent Foster.”

 

“Sophia, why?”

 

“Yes, she helped us with a incident involving gargoyles and has been seeing to it that no one is too suspicious of your disappearance.”

 

“Oh.” Abbie said surprised. “Be sure to thank her for me.”

 

“I will.” Ichabod rose to his feet, the put their hands as close together as possible barely touching. “How goes the search.” Ichabod braced himself for the bad news when he noticed Abbie’s saddened look.

 

“I found the flute but I was ambushed by a really powerful demon, a former angel. He took the flute and he’s free.” Abbie said bluntly. Ichabod ran his fingers through his hair and groaned.

 

 “We can’t handle another big threat. Not now, not like this.”

 

“Nobody said these seven years of tribulations would be easy.” replied Abbie.

 

“I am just happy that you are unharmed Lieutenant. I worry about all that you endure alone with each passing day.”

 

“Luckily I’m not alone.” Abbie said, Ichabod furrowed his brow confused. “I met someone here, his name is Reynard and he has been helping me right from the start.”

 

“Is he a demon?” Abbie didn’t have to say anything Ichabod already knew the answer. “You need to get away from as quickly as possible.”

 

“No.”

 

“No?” Ichabod was stunned.

 

“I wouldn’t have survived and made it this far if not for him, I trust him.”

 

“You mustn’t he is a demon!” Ichabod cried. “He will charm and manipulate you and turn on you as soon as the opportunity presents itself.”

 

“Rey isn’t like that, you don’t know him, and I thought you of all people would have understood. I was patient with you when you sided with Katrina to try and redeem Abraham and Jeremy.”

 

“That was different they were my family and I knew who they were before they succumbed to evil. You’ve only known this Reynard for less than a fortnight.” Ichabod replied saying the name with disgust.

 

Abbie scoffed and pinched the bridge of her nose. “Look, I just wanted to warn you about Gideon.” Abbie began to move backwards drifting slowly away from Ichabod.

 

“Lieutenant wait. Abbie!”

 

“Reynard and I are going to find a way out so you keep fighting up there.” Abbie called as she was pulled away back in the refuge. Abbie and let out a deep sigh and sat up.

 

“What happened?” Reynard asked.

 

“Nothing.”

 

“Doesn’t sound like nothing.” He patted the space next to him for Abbie to join him, the floor bed was much more comfortable now that Abbie had taken the cushions from Irkalla’s room. Abbie walked over to sit down next to him, she took the pillow and placed it against the wall and sat back with a long sigh of exhaustion. Reynard put his arm around Abbie and pulled her closer to him. “Problems with your other half?”

 

“I told him about losing Irkalla’s flute to Gideon and about you.”

 

“I’m assuming he didn’t take any of it well, especially fraternizing with a demon.”

 

“No he did not, he’s just worried about me but it doesn’t matter though. But he did make a good point, we don’t need another threat up there.” Abbie rubbed her temples trying to think of what she could do to help everyone while being stuck down here. She felt Reynard rubbing her arm and gave her shoulder a little squeeze.

 

“Hey, don’t stress yourself out. Gideon is a high ranking demon leaving hell is going to weaken him greatly it will take him a long time to recover and he has no friends up there.”

 

Abbie groaned, she began to play with Reynard’s arm and traced the crescent moon tattoo on his wrist that was marred by the new scar. It was then she remembered she still had his talisman, Abbie removed it from her neck and placed it in his hand.

 

“So random question here but did you and Gideon ever have a thing?”

 

Reynard chuckled and shook his head. “He was on that Frollo from the Hunchback of Notre Dame shit.”

 

“And you were Esmeralda?”

 

“I was, he was mad because I made him horny and he could not deal with the fact that he was attracted to a inferior cambion the son of a human male. I used his weird infatuation with me to my advantage and got the talisman when he was leaving to go to a different underworld. The dude is weird as fuck.”

 

“You really are an incubus.”

 

“Damn right I am. The bastard channelled all that sexual frustration into violence though.” Reynard groaned he had a dull ache in his shoulder but didn’t want to move as he enjoyed Abbie being so close to him. “Now I have a question for you, why do you keep sacrificing yourself for others Abbie?”

 

“This again?”

 

“Yes this again, we have nothing else to do but ask deep personal questions about each other so...” Abbie scoffed and shrugged her shoulders. Deep down she knew the reason why but hadn’t voiced them before.

 

“I told you about Moloch appearing to me when I was 14, well here is the full story. Something happened in the woods I don’t remember what exactly-- he took the memories away from my sister and I. But whatever happened in the woods... it left Jenny and I passed out for days until we were found by a search party. We were questioned by the cops,  Jenny wanted to tell the truth about what happened to us and what we saw, but I didn’t. She was taken away into psychiatric care.”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“My life went pretty downhill after that, Sleepy Hollow is a small town.”

 

“Sleepy Hollow California?”

 

“No New York, anyways I didn’t want to be known as the girl from a crazy family. I wanted a whole new reputation so I started doing a lot of reckless and selfish shit, and then Corbin came into my life and he became like a dad to me. He put me on the right path and I had a new reputation, one that I was proud of. I wasn’t the foster kid with a crazy mother and sister; I wasn’t the trouble maker that was quick to throw hands. I was a young officer on my way to being Lieutenant and I didn’t want Jenny to ruin that for me so when she needed my help again I ignored her. I abandoned the only family that I had left, I guess I have a lot of guilt when it comes to how I used to be. So if I can save my family and friends I’ll do it. No matter what.”

 

“That’s admirable that you want to atone for your past deeds but you can’t hold on to that guilt, maybe when you leave you can find a sin-eater to help you with that.” Abbie laughed at the mention of sin-eaters. “You know there is such a thing as being too self-sacrificing.”

 

“I know.”

 

“Do you? Its end of days and the world needs you, but you can’t be there for the world if you are stuck down here.” Reynard set down his talisman and held out his small finger. “Alright, pinky-swear that you won’t jump into strange portals that lead into different times and space unless it is to get you home.”

 

“Really, a pinky-swear?” Abbie laughed.

 

“Would you rather swear in blood?  I mean we are in hell...”

 

“Fine.” Abbie held out her little finger too and they entwined them together, she giggled and rolled her eyes, the man was a fool. She leaned closer and kissed him, after a few second Abbie felt Reynard touch her face and kiss her back slow and softly. They pulled away, still close, foreheads touching both smiling.  

 

“You want to?” Reynard asked in a low voice and caressed her cheek.

 

“I do.” Abbie whispered. Abbie kissed him again and wrapped her arms around his neck pulling him closer. Reynard found the hem of her shirt and pulled it over her head revealing her full breasts, he slowly pushed her down on the bed and planted kisses on her neck and breasts occasionally flicking a nipple with his tongue, his rough stubble beard scratched against her soft skin.

 

“Wait.” Abbie said, Reynard sat back and waited. Abbie unbuckled her belt and shimmied out of her black jeans, Reynard removed his own trousers and there they were fully naked. Reynard marvelled at her body, she was absolutely the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and he wanted to worship every inch of her. Reynard kissed  Abbie again and bit her bottom lip and began to work his way down, teasingly leaving a trail of kisses down her torso then spread her legs open.

 

Abbie gasped once she felt Reynard’s tongue on her clit, she moaned as his skilful tongue worked magic. Her hand went down to touch his head and entangled her fingers within his locks and arched her back into his touch.  

 “Please please, please.” Abbie whispered rising off the bed as she reached climax. Abbie opened her eyes to see Reynard who was now staring back at her, his golden eyes were practically glowing in the dim room. Abbie pulled him into a kiss and tasted herself on him.

 

“You ready?” he whispered close to her ear, Abbie said yes. Reynard guided himself into Abbie, he didn’t move he waited until Abbie was comfortable enough, her shapely legs wrapped around his waist and then he started thrusting. Strong and slow strokes gradually became more urgent and hungry, Abbie was a little concerned for him, he was hurt and did want Reynard to strain himself, but then she noticed the bruising on his ribs had vanished.

Abbie looked at him confused, he smirked at her and hiked Abbie’s leg up on his shoulder and plunged deeper.  Her cries of pleasure echoed throughout the room, his fingers were on her clit again, he made circular motions in time with his strokes bringing her closer and closer to climax.

 

“Rey...” Abbie breathed. Everything seemed to move in slow motion her fingertips were tingling , Abbie stared up into Reynard’s golden eyes which morphed and shifted into a swirling galaxy of stars and that she became engulfed in. Then came the all too familiar darkness that wrapped itself all around her, then... slumber.

                   

“Abbie?”  Reynard called.

Chapter Text

Reynard felt rejuvenated, the best he felt since arriving in hell years ago, he willed his wings to emerged from the tattoos on his back, they were completely healed. Reynard tested them out flying a few feet in the air, they were definitely stronger he had Abbie to thank for that. He gazed down at her sleeping form nestled between the blankets a smile on her gorgeous face, Reynard felt a sense of pride that he was the cause of that smile. He thought back to the day they met, never did he think they would end up like this.

 

 

 

Many months ago…

 

Reynard let go of the pommel of his dagger that was now buried within the skull of a fae that was half changed into an unrecognizable mindless monster. The fae was a travelling companion that was driven mad by Kur’s calling to him and his frustration of not being able to make it to the top. His name was Vincent, and now he was consumed by fire and taken away to another unknown hell. Reynard laughed and sat down on a tree stump breathing deeply, he knew Vincent wouldn’t last long the Fae had spent decades on the island of Kurnugia and had both the physical and mental scars to prove it. Reynard had hoped that he would help him get half way up the mountain before giving up but Vincent was a gaunt man with dead eyes who had given up he was more far gone than Reynard had thought.

 

Reynard gazed up at the monstrous mountain with the unreachable castle perched on top of it, he could hear the song again he hit his head repeatedly and let out a frustrated yell. He was back at rock bottom and had to start by himself no Gideon, no Orzala either, the climb seemed impossible to master alone. This fucking island was  doing its job the chance of escaping hell is what kept many people here fighting to stay on the ancient Dragon’s god domain maybe there were chances to escape elsewhere he had no way of knowing.

 

Reynard weighed his options, confronting Kur face to face on his own was virtually impossible. He could stay and try to find another group to join, wander aimlessly through the labyrinth and be driven mad by Kur song eventually ending up as feral servant to the island. Then there was the last option he could kill himself, his soul key would then be in the possession of another guardian in a different underworld and he could try his luck in some unknown abyss.

 

Reynard gripped the dagger in his hand and slowly put the blade to his neck the cold steel on his skin was almost soothing. Just one quick movement and that would be it, he would leap into the unknown. Reynard’s hand twitched and tried to remain calm, he had sliced throats before he knew what to do and how much pressure to apply to the force of the action, but still.

 

A brilliantly bright flashing light falling from the sky caught Reynard’s attention. “A falling star?” Reynard mused. He had never seen anything like it, was it possibly another angel falling from grace. Reynard stared at the sight in wonder and moved the blade away from his neck letting it fall to the ground, he stood up and followed where the star was falling. His curiosity was piqued the vast domains of hell were not going anywhere and the source of the star could kill him too.

 

The star had landed deep in the forest, Reynard strolled through following the flow of mysterious power that emanated from the trail the star had left. Suddenly the howling of wolves echoed, Reynard didn’t worry he could take out a pack of the rotting beasts and continued down the path. He noticed something bright and flashing coming towards him moving faster, perhaps it was a will-o-wisp or adze. Whatever it was, it moving closer fast, Reynard squinted and could now make out the shape. It was a woman running and fearful of the wolves chasing after her.

 

“Get dow…” Reynard’s voice cracked too hoarse to yell at the moment, he could save this glowing woman if she would just move slightly to the left. There! Reynard thought of Orzala and brought forth a fireball in his hand and hurled it at the wolves, the ball narrowly missed the woman who dove out of the way. Reynard hissed at the pain the fireball caused him, his eyes met the woman on the ground and he was in awe, the glowing was her soul.  “Oh my god…you’re a-”

 

The growling of the remainder of the wolf pack interrupted him. Reynard made quick work of them flinging fireball after fireball. “Fuck that stings bad!” Reynard looked back at the woman, she was beautiful. He took a step forward with the intention to help her up.

 

“Stay away from me!”

 


 

Reynard chuckled at the fond memory of their chance meeting that felt so long ago. Abbie had saved him that day. He was so close to giving up, to ending it all and in she came changing his whole outlook and gave him hope. Abbie Mills was his salvation.

 

Abbie yawned and stretched, she rolled over expecting to feel Reynard next to her, her eyes fluttered open and saw the incubus flying above her and damn was he a sight.

 

“Morning.” Said Reynard.

 

“Morning. Nice to see you can fly again, now come back to bed.”

 

“Gladly.” Reynard dropped his wings and landed on the floor, his wings disappeared in a flash back into his tattoos. Abbie pulled him into a warm kiss, her hands ran over his forearm where the wound was, it was healed completely now just a very faint and smooth scar. Abbie moved back to really look at Reynard and damn did he looked amazing his skin was damn near luminescent.

 

“You look so… pretty.”

 

“Thanks so do you.”

 

“No you looked damn near airbrushed. I mean look at you!” Abbie gasped when looking at his torso, she was sure his rib was broken. But she couldn’t get over his arm, the bone was sticking out of it not so long ago and the water from the healing spring didn’t do that much to heal him at the time.

 

“I have you to thank, I fed from your incredibly heightened sexual energy.” Reynard smirked.

 

“Glad I could help.” Abbie kissed him again and they fell back on the bed with Abbie resting her head on his chest and listening to his heartbeat. “Hey Rey, what was up with the spacey stuff. I was seeing stars and it was weird but it was nice.”

 

“Oh that…it’s an incubus thing, it happens sometimes you’ll get used to it.” Reynard said.

 

“I’ll get used to it huh? Good to know.” Abbie moved on top of Reynard and moved down, her hand went straight to his dick and started rubbing it up and down brushing the tip with her thumb. Reynard took a sharp intake of breath once he felt Abbie’s soft pillowy lips touch his dick.

 

Abbie grinned and licked his entire length back and forth and swirled her tongue over the tip. Reynard let out a deep groan that almost sounded like a growl. Abbie engulfed his dick completely in her mouth eliciting a throaty “Holy Fuck!” from Reynard. She bobbed her head back and forth taking a little more of him into her mouth.

“God Abbie.” Reynard threw his head back. He stopped her, he was hard now and didn’t want to cum just yet. Abbie kissed him and pushed him back on the bed and straddled his hips, she guided Reynard dick into her pussy and slowly sank down moaning in pleasure. Her hands roamed his hard chest running up and down his abs as she got accustomed to him once again, Abbie hips began to moved back and forth grinding her clit on his pelvis.

Reynard sat up, his mouth kissed and sucked at her neck and down her breast capturing a nipple in his mouth and graze it with his teeth. Abbie fingers raked through Reynard’s hair and would occasionally scratch at his horns. Reynard’s large and strong hand grabbed Abbie’s firm round ass bouncing her on her lap driving himself deeper inside her.  

Abbie pulled Reynard’s head back and kissed him hard, their tongue dancing with one another. Abbie pulled back to gasp for air and an unexpected orgasm took over her making her body quiver. Reynard stopped and caressed her face and trembling lip.

 

“Abbie…do you want me to stop?” Reynard asked with a breathy whisper. Abbie couldn’t get the words out of her mouth, Reynard saw the goose bumps on her skin and rubbed her arms. “Abbie?”

 

“Don’t stop.” Abbie managed to say through ragged breaths she shut her eyes and clung to Reynard digging her fingernails into his shoulders and back. Reynard continued to move them at a teasingly slow pace until Abbie had come back from the aftershocks and take control once more. Abbie looked at Reynard through hooded lids, this smug bastard she leaned forward to lick and suck on the throbbing vein on his neck while rotating her hips in slow and teasing movements.

“Abbie.” Reynard grunted. Her name sounded so good coming from his mouth, why the hell did she wait so long to tell him her name? It didn’t matter anymore it was well worth the wait. “Abbie, Abbie!” Reynard repeated. Abbie giggled, Reynard tapped her side. “Abbie wait a minute. I don’t want to alarm you but we are floating.”

Abbie’s stopped and looked around realising that they were maybe 3ft in the air gently floating.

 

“Oh god, what are you doing?”

 

“No, this isn’t me. I need my wings to fly.”

 

“What, am I doing this?!” Abbie exclaimed.

 

“It’s okay just stay calm, just stay-” Abbie didn’t remain calm and they came crashing down to the floor-bed painfully. “Holy shit my dick! My dick!”

 

“You bumped my cervix! Oh my god that hurt.” They rolled off and out of each other. Abbie curled into a foetal position holding her abdomen. “Shit, what the fuck?! What the fuck!”

 

“Alright, time-out cuddle.” Reynard covered them both with blankets he rubbed Abbie’s arm and kissed her head to soothe her. “You okay?”

 

“Yeah, I never knew I could do that. Talk about embarrassing, don’t take this the wrong way but I’m glad that that happened with you.”

 

“Aw I’m am honoured that you were the one who tried to break my penis.”

 

“Shut up.” Abbie laughed and playfully smacked his mouth. “So tell me your origin story to make me feel better.”

 

“The Epic of Reynard Sawai is a long one, what do you want to know?”

 

“I don’t know, how did your parents meet? Who are the people that brought the infamous cambion Reynard Sawai into the world.?” She joked and Reynard shook his head smiling.

 

“Alright it’s a funny story according to my Dad. He had moved from Japan to study in Seattle and one night he went drinking with some of his friends and he saw a woman being attacked in an alley. That woman was my mother and the attacker was a demon hunter, and my dad kicked his ass!” Reynard and Abbie erupted in a fit of laughter.

“Funny thing was before dad showed up mom was gonna kill the hunter so dad really saved his life. They talked and started dating, my mom really liked my dad and my grandparents were pressuring her to have a child so she left herself open for pregnancy. Oh um, Lilin have a built in birth control thing so you don’t have to worry about…y’know.”

 

“Good to know.” Abbie was on the pill but with how time worked in the underworld she was unsure, hearing that gave her one less thing to worry about.

 

“Yeah well, Mom was pregnant with my older brother and went to the Philippines to appease my grandparents but she missed my dad. She heads back to the states and shows up at my dad’s apartment, it was snowing that night too and because my mom has white hair dad thought she was Yuki-Onna or something. She told that she was in love with him and that she was 2 months pregnant and that she’s a succubus. Not sure about the order in which she told him though.”

 

“Well how did your dad take it that a succubus was carrying his half demon child?”

 

“He was super chill about it. He was in love with my mom and was sad when she ran off the first time and didn’t want to lose her again so he proposed right there and then. She said no of course because she wanted the shock of her confession to wear off first. But she eventually said yes and they got married. 7 months down the line they had my brother, moved to Oakland and then came my sister and finally me.”

 

“That would make a great sitcom”

 

“I considered pitching the idea to a network.”

 

“What was growing up like, was it  fun or strange?”

 

Reynard sighed feeling nostalgic as he remembered his past.

“It was fun, mom was strict when it came to our powers, because we’re cambion our powers they manifested during puberty so no dating until you could control that thrall kiss. She made sure that our tattoos and horns were hidden with a very thick shroud and the way she stressed consent to us. If you grew up in an Umbra-Amans house hold it is automatically a sex positive atmosphere you feel me.”

 

Abbie thought about how Reynard was during sex, he was so patient and waited for her to make the first move making sure she was in full control and would stop when he sensed the slightest discomfort from her, this was something Abbie was not quite used to but liked.

 

“Okay but what about flying, is it instinctive and second nature to you or is it like learning how to ride a bike?”

 

“When my powers manifested, my mom took me to the Philippines to go through this ritual and get my tattoo. It was all done in this small rural village away from city and that’s where I learned and it was hard. I got caught in updrafts, I didn’t know how to multitask and stay in the shadows…things got messy. But look at me now I’m stronger than many full blooded demons.”

 

“I always wondered how different my life would have been if I had grown up knowing I was one of the witnesses. Maybe If Corbin would’ve told me earlier then I would’ve been able to…”

 

“Hey, hey, hey none of that alright. You were going through enough when you were a kid, dumping the weight of the world into your lap may not have been the best idea. Jesus probably had an entire rebellious stage from 12 to 30 why else would the bible omit all that, the dude was most likely doing more than just learning how to be carpenter.”

Abbie stared at Reynard with an incredulous look on her face, and burst out into a fit of giggles.

 

“I just can’t with you.” He was good at that, stopping her from beating herself up from going down that spiral of despair which was dangerous here. Reynard got quiet and reached for Abbie’s hand and kissed her fingertips, he took a deep breath and Abbie could tell he was mentally wrestling with something. “Reynard?”

 

“I love you Abbie.” He noticed her body stiffen at those words. Abbie’s eyes darted around unsure of how to respond to him, that was far from what she was expecting to hear. “You don’t have to say anything, I would prefer it if you didn’t. I just wanted you to know how I feel in case anything happened to me again and I couldn’t tell you.” Reynard leaned in to kiss Abbie and pressed their foreheads together and remained quiet the sounds of just their breathing in the sanctuary.

 

 

 


 

 

Their time out for healing and lovemaking was now coming to an end, it was time to re-join the fight and get back home. Reynard selected a new long sword with a kampilian long sword and heater styled iron shield that had a bear heraldry, he then picked up Abbie’s polished helmet and placed it on her head.

 

“Thanks, oh almost forgot. Come here.” Reynard bent down for Abbie to hook the talisman around his neck. “There you go.” She then went back to putting on her belt with the spellblade and picked up the crossbow pistol that served her well. “You ready to get back out there?” Abbie asked.

 

“You know it.”

 

Reynard opened the door and they both stepped out of the sanctuary and back into the heavily damaged room where the fight had taken place, the walls were still stained with Reynard’s dried blood.  Reynard looked around he could barely remember the fight, but by the looks of things Gideon had severely kicked his ass.

 

“Come on.” Abbie said. They went to the exit only to find that the bridge that brought them there had crumbled. Abbie scoffed annoyed, it was always something.  Reynard wrapped his arms around her waist tightly and lifted her up flying across, Abbie’s breath caught in her throat. They were flying! Reynard flew higher searching for a place to land quickly before a swarm of locusts came for them. “Reynard look there’s a balcony over there.” Abbie pointed to a balcony just above them with a few broken railings, Reynard nodded and quickly flew to it and landing on the platform.

 

“Alright where’s the door?”

 

“Right there, hurry let’s go.” Abbie ran to a door with “72” on it and big iron ring handles, she reached out to pull the heavy rings but she heard a hiss and the rings turned to snakes that lunged to bite her. Abbie instinctively pulled out her spellblade and cut one of the snakes in half. The other snake consumed the body of its fallen brethren and started to grow “Get back!”

 

“What is it?” Before Abbie could answer Reynard, the snake was had grown to an enormous size and sprouted several heads. “Fuck a Hydra!”

 Abbie fired her crossbow at the eyes of one the Hydra’s heads, the beast quickly slithered after her, Abbie ran out of the way and used the spellblade in her other hand to push her forward faster.

 

“Rey, how do we kill it?!” Abbie yelled.

 

“Go for the heart!” He yelled back. Abbie slowed down and fired a bolt at the bottom part of the chest however it was blocked by one of the heads swallowing the bolt.

 

“Typical.” Abbie scoffed.

 

Reynard flew up and zeroed in on a head to the far left, two more heads went for him, he did his best to manoeuvre swiftly out their way, one head came dangerously close to biting him. Reynard drove his sword through the neck of one snakes, a head came close mouth wide open ready to devour the incubus but he narrowly avoided it.

 

“Shit this isn’t working.”

 

“I have a plan, launch me into the air and hold it down with your shadow magic and I’ll rip it apart.”

 

“Got it.” Reynard took a crouched stand and had his shield set up as a launch pad, Abbie took a running head start and jumped on the shield. Reynard launched Abbie into the air and immediately manipulated the shadows to bind the five-headed hydra of the snake heads. Abbie channelled a gust of air to propel her to the Hydra and grabbed onto the centre head, she stabbed it in with her knife and let herself fall dragging the knife deep and down the back splitting the skin in half. The Hydra started to flail and whip about wildly, Abbie held on for dear life but she was slipping as the Hydra’s blood poured all over her.

 

“Abbie hang on!” Reynard thought about what to do, if he let the Hydra go to make it to Abbie they would be in more trouble than they already were.

 

“I got it keep it steady.” Abbie assured him and removed her spellblade from the Hydra’s flesh. It was coated with its life blood that made the inscription on the blade hum. She let go of the hydra and conjured a soft bed of air to help to slow her descent, Abbie ran back to her crossbow and targeted the monster’s heart. The four bolts found their target and drilled into the Hydra’s tough scales then exploded leaving behind a huge gaping hole that exposed the heart. the hydra was shrieking and jerking and fighting hard against Reynard’s shadow bindings until they were snapping.

 

“Abbie take cover I can’t hold it anymore.” Reynard sank to his feet fatigue Abbie ran to him and blew out her holy fire shield to protect them both.

 

“You good?”

 

“Just give me a minute.”  Reynard panted. The injured hydra glowered at the couple but it kept its distance from Abbie’s flaming shield.

 

“You see that, it’s afraid of fire.” Abbie picked up Reynard’s sword and held the blade to the flames heating it up. “When you catch your breath, take the sword and fly as fast as you can and cut off as many heads as possible. The heat will help cauterize and stop the hydra from duplicating more heads. After that, I go for the heart and blow holy fire directly into the wound.”

 

“You sure that will work?”

 

“About 75% certain.”

 

“Good enough for me. Let’s do this.” Reynard rose to his feet and Abbie handed him back his sword.

 

“On three. One. Two. Three. Go!” Abbie dropped the shield and Reynard took off, she put the shield back up and watched Reynard fly past the heads that were moving slower now that the hydra was greatly wounded by her attack. “Come on Rey!” Abbie encouraged. Spurred on by her voice, Reynard raised his sword with two hands and with a loud battle cry severed off the head of the weakened snake, the head smacked onto the ground hard. Reynard moved on to the other heads removing them quick. There was only one head left and it was determined not to go down and lunged repeatedly for Reynard, he got still and the snake’s head swallowed him.  Abbie screamed no and dropped her holy fire forcefield and readied her spellblade to cut him free.

The last snake head begun to choke and Abbie could see a hot poker jut out from its throat, the head slide off the body and Reynard emerged unharmed and covered in slime with a half-smile on his face.

“I’m okay.”

 

“Fucking bastard!” Abbie sneered. She ran to the body of the hydra and blew holy fire directly into the gaping wound, the Hydra’s body quickly caught aflame and Abbie moved back and watched as it wilted into a burnt and leathery mass. Reynard landed on the ground next to Abbie.

 

“Nice work.” Abbie turned around and slapped his face leaving a stinging red hand print on his face.

 

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

 

“It kept moving, thought an attack from within would work and it did. We did it! Sorry won’t do that again.” Reynard hug Abbie and she squirmed in disgust after all she was still covered in blood and he was covered in slime. Abbie giggled and tried wiping off the excess blood on her jeans and Reynard’s shirt.

 

“Excuse me, witness?” an unfamiliar voice murmured. Abbie and Reynard reached for their weapons and pointed it towards the gap of the wall where they entered. A man’s head came into view, he was as brown as driftwood and sported a very long and neatly braided grey beard. There were the sounds of large wings flapping and the man ascended into the hall but the man wasn’t exactly human. He had the body of a bull but the face of a man and large brown eagle wings. “I mean you no harm.”

 

“Who are you and what do you want?” Abbie asked keeping her crossbow pointed at him.

 

“I was planning on helping you defeat the Hydra but it seems that you have beaten me to it.” The Lamassu laughed and it was hearty and thunderous, Abbie gave Reynard a brief look of confusion. “My name is Luga, loyal servant to Queen of this Irkalla Underworld, the true ruler, The Great Lady of the Mainland and grey sea Ereshkigal. And she desires to meet with the witness.”

 

Abbie was perplexed yet intrigued, this ox man had just said a mouthful and it baffled her but his presence made her feel safe and not that false safety with the Nightmare demon, she wanted to trust him but this was the underworld. Luga looked at Abbie as if he read his

“In a faltered sky cross loam less plains and watered blight.”

 

 Abbie eyes widened and she lowered her weapon hearing the words from the lyrics of the song that has been rattling around in her head fighting for dominance against Kur’s song.

“finish the cycle of eternal return.” Abbie lowered her weapon and allowed Luga to enter the hall. The flew inside and landed on the floor, he slowly approached Abbie and gave her a large and toothy grin, he saw that Reynard had yet to sheath his sword. 

 

“Stand down cambion. If I wished to harm you there would be very little you could do to stop it.”

 

“You shouldn’t underestimate me Lamassu!”

 

“Rey.” Abbie warned and Reynard put away his sword but stayed close to Abbie. “How do you know that I am one of the witnesses? Who is Ereshkigal and why do you have the soothing voice of a nice grandfather that I never got to know?” Luga laughed again loudly ruffling the feathers of his wings.

 

“Nin, all your questions will be answered once we get to the mainland. This dismal dungeon is not the most ideal place for pleasant conversation.”

 

“We’re not going anywhere with you.” Reynard snapped.

 

“Yes, we are.” Abbie argued.

 

“What?” Reynard pulled Abbie aside and lowered his voice. “You trust him, doesn’t he seem at weird.”

 

“So, did you at first.” Abbie countered and Reynard pouted. “Luga, we’re coming with you.”

 

“I’m pleased.” Luga lowered himself and a saddle appeared on his back. “Allow me to carry you there.”

 

“Really I’m covered in blood.”

 

“I don’t mind if you don’t.”

 Abbie shrugged her shoulders and climbed on Luga’s back and held on to him not even attempting to mask her excitement. Luga stood back up and walked to the crumbling balcony and spread his large wings.

 

“Seriously?”

 

“Just try to keep up cambion.” Luga quipped before flying off. Reynard scoffed and flew close behind them. The Lamassu was a strong and agile flier, in any other situation Reynard would have probably given up but since he was carrying Abbie he was determined to keep up with Luga.

 

Abbie held on for tightly her heart was racing, Luga was fast, she noticed that they were flying in the direction of the coast where the large demons prowled the shorelines, she could hear the loud crushing of living boulders slamming into each other and could smell the stench of boiling sulphur water. Abbie held her breath and gripped Luga as he gained more speed.

 

“Get ready now!” Luga opened his mouth and let out a guttural roar that created a red cloud portal and flew straight through it. Abbie gasped for air and felt nauseous, thankful that Luga slowed down, the flight had left her feeling as if she had ridden a rollercoaster for hours on end. Abbie opened her eyes to see that they were now in a completely different area, among the clouds of a dusk sky. Abbie turned around to look at the portal waiting for Reynard to fly through.

 

“Where is he?” Abbie asked with a slight worry in her voice.

 

“Give him a moment to catch up.” Luga said. Seven tense long seconds passed until Reynard came soaring through the portal and waved at Abbie. “There he is no need to worry Nin.”

Abbie breathed a sigh of relief and waved back at him. Luga was now flying at a more reasonable pace Reynard flew beside them. Abbie looked down and saw that underneath the twilight sky was a vast and sprawling ancient looking city the gates of which were guarded by giant marble stone Lamassu and Apasasu. Below there were people and possibly even demons just going about their lives as if there were not even in the underworld. Standing above the city was massive and elaborate ziggurat temple.

 

“Welcome to the Irkalla mainland witness.” Luga announced.

 

“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.” Abbie said with awe.

 

“I never knew a place like this could even exist here.” Reynard said. They were getting closer to the temple and now Abbie could see the beautiful terracotta and gold bull motifs built into the temple. At the platform of the long steps was a small gathering of people and a lamassu and apasasu, but in front of all of them was woman with an otherworldly presence about her.

She was tall, had pale ochre coloured skin, her dark thick curly tresses fell neatly over her broad shoulders. Her head was adorned with a golden floral headdress, she wore a long lilac robe that matched her eyes and wore thick golden jewellery.

 

“She’s beautiful.” Abbie whispered.

 

Luga came in for a very elegant landing on the platform in front of the regal woman. Abbie dismounted from Luga’s back and watched him go the woman and bow at her feet, she placed her hand on his face smiling and thanked him. Luga took his place beside her and faced Abbie.

 

“Witness, behold the Goddess Ereshkigal true ruler of this underworld Irkalla, The Exalted Queen of this Great Underearth.”

 

“Your Majesty.” Abbie bowed her head uncertain of how to address the goddess standing right before her. “I am Abbie Mills.”

 

“You give her your name so easily but I had to work for it.” Reynard mumbled softly.

 

“Incubus, state who you are.” Luga barked startling Reynard.

 

“Reynard Sawai, your Exalted one. Forgive me for speaking out of turn.” He replied quickly bowing his head. Ereshkigal seemed to float as she stepped closer to Abbie and placed both hands on the witness’ shoulders not minding that she was still covered in the dried blood of the Hydra, she then raised Abbie’s chin to look at her.

 

“Welcome child,” her voice was deep, melodic and calming. “let me assure you that as my guest you are safe here. Please allow my people to cater to you, and then we will need to talk. Agree?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Good, your friend may wait out here.”

 

“Wait no, sorry but if I need to be here then Rey is staying with me.” Abbie said. Ereshkigal looked back and forth at the couple and could see that Abbie was adamant about it.

 

“Very well, Luga make sure the incubus is…purified before he enters the temple.” Reynard became nervous at the way the goddess paused and said the word purified, as if the word was a euphemism for something else.

 

“Yes, Great One.” Luga said, a male servant led Reynard away and down the steps. Ereshkigal turned to one of the woman servants and directed her to Abbie.

 

“Nisa take care of the witness and make sure all her needs are met.” With that Ereshkigal disappeared in faint wisps of lights and smoke that travelled to the highest point of the temple.

 

“Nin, please follow me.” Nisa took Abbie inside the high stone walls of the temple, Abbie attempted small talk with the shy woman and learned that she had lived during the mid-80’s as a teacher in London. Nisa seemed nice enough Abbie pondered how she ended up here, Nisa kept walking and talked about how she enjoyed working closely with the Ereshkigal and was content with her afterlife in Irkalla.

 

“Where are we going?” Abbie asked.

 

“Oh, forgive me. I am taking you to the baths and when you are finished I’ll take you to your bedchambers so you can rest. Ah, here we are.” Nisa pushed open a door to reveal an indoor hot spring, the walls were decorated with blue and green mosaics. An array of brightly coloured roses floated on the surface of the dull grey steam water.

 

Abbie whispered she wanted nothing more than to dive in so she started to undress and dropped her clothes to the floor and stepped into the hot spring fully submerging into the water and rising back up to the surface.

“Oh, my goddess” Abbie groaned. The water was already pulling away all the blood and dirt from her skin and evaporating into the air. “What is in the water?”

 

“The flowers are from Ereshkigal’s garden, they release a special oil when in the water. I’m not sure what it does exactly but it’s amazing.” Nisa said with a slight stutter her back turned to give Abbie some privacy. She placed a white towel within reach and began picking up Abbie’s discarded clothes from the floor.

 

“I’ll have your clothes cleaned, call for me when you are done Nin and I’ll take you to get dressed.”

 

Abbie thanked Nisa and resumed swimming, she lay back to float her face just above the surface. Abbie breathed deeply inhaling the sweet smell of the roses that permeated through the room, with her ears flooded partially muffling all sound she relaxed and did her best not to think and worry about anything or anyone just for a moment and appreciate the solitude. 

Abbie remained in the hot springs for 45 minutes and felt her fingertips starting to wrinkle. She swam to edge of and pulled herself out of the water then wrapped the white fluffy towel that Nisa had left for her around her body.

 

“Nisa!” Abbie called out to her.

 

“Yes Nin.” Nisa came in from around the corner. Abbie put her hand to her chest startled by Nisa’s quick presence. “All done?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Good, here let me help you.” Nisa held open a dark silk robe for Abbie to slip into and placed sandals on the floor for Abbie to wear “Follow me Nin.”

 

Abbie followed Nisa into a lavishly decorated bedroom dimly lit by a few oil lamps, the bed looked so enticing. Big, soft and plush with silk sheets and many cushions. Although she had grown fond of their little sanctuary but this was a welcomed change from the hard floors and rough sheets.

 

“Your old clothes are still being cleaned but I put your belongings on the table.” Nisa pointed to the small round wooden table where she placed the contents that were in Abbie’s pockets. A couple of coins and Reynard’s broken watch

 

“Where is Reynard?”

 

“He is still undergoing purification, but he should be here shortly. Please get dressed.” Nisa said.

 

Abbie accepted the answer, she doubted that Nisa had any reason to lie to her. Abbie went around the changing screen and took the garment that was hanging off it and put it on. It was a long deep emerald off the shoulder ankle length gown. Abbie asked Nisa to help her fasten the buttons and clasps in the back and she draped the pale gold lace shawl over Abbie’s shoulder. Abbie looked at herself in the full-length mirror, it had been quite some time since she saw her own reflection and the dress fit perfectly

 

“Sit down and I will braid your hair.”

 

Abbie sat down at the vanity table and Nisa stood behind her opening a jar of coconut oil and massaged into Abbie hair and scalp, she took a comb and parted Abbie hair begun to braid. Within 20 minutes Abbie’s hair was braided into neat and thick canerows that reached down her back. At that moment, Reynard limped into the bedroom in obvious discomfort.

 

“You look nice.”

 

“And you don’t, how was the purification?”

 

“I don’t want to talk about it.” He said and crashed on to the bed “Have you tried this bed yet.”

 

“Nin, I’ll take my leave now. I’ll be back to get you when The Great Lady requests your presence.” Nisa bowed.

 

“Nisa, thank you for all that you’ve done is there some way that I can repay.”

 

“No, I’m just doing my job Nin.” Nisa said simply and left the room. Abbie got up and held up the hem of her gown so not to trip up on it and sat on the bed first removing her sandals.

Reynard kissed her back and shoulders and pulled Abbie back to lay on the bed with him. The bed and sheets were soft and delicate and smelled amazing, Abbie almost forgot about how it felt to sleep on a real bed and moaned in delight.

 

“This beats the raggedy concrete bed in the refuge.”

 

“I willing to convert and start worshipping Ereshkigal just for this.” Reynard joked.

 

“And you didn’t want to come.”

 

“Lucky for me you are such a great judge of character. I mean you chose to trust me and look how well that turned out.” Reynard teased which made Abbie rolled her eyes.

 

“How do you turn a compliment about me into one about yourself?”

 

“It’s a talent.” Reynard buried his face in the crook of her neck inhaling the scent of the sweet oils on her soft skin. This was the most at peace he ever felt, the refuge offered a small break in the harsh labyrinth. But now this was truly paradise, Kur’s song was faint whisper in the back of his mind and the woman he had fallen for was in his arms. “I could stay here with you forever.” Reynard said aloud, he winced regretting it instantly.

 

“Really?”

 

“No not really, but being here in this moment with you feels pretty damn perfect.” Reynard kissed her shoulder. “You know I’ve been thinking about what I’ll do when we get out of here. First, I’ll head back home to Oakland and see my family I miss them and they’re probably worried about me. Then I might pack up and head east to New York, heard about this small town called Sleepy Hollow apparently, it’s the front line of the apocalypse.”

 

“Are you serious?”

 

“Yeah, plus there is this really amazing woman that lives there and I want to take her out on a real date.”

 

“Look Rey, I haven’t been completely honest with you. There was this guy back home whom I was seeing, it feels like so long ago but it isn’t. We never really ended things officially, things are still so up in the air with us and I’m not sure where we stand. I care about you Rey and I don’t want to take things any further until I sort things out with him.” Abbie felt Reynard drum his thumb on her arm.

Reynard had a slight inkling that there was someone else in Abbie life he wondered which man was the one from the vision he saw of her past lovers. He was tempted to ask if it was Crane but knew better. Instead Reynard took his watch and hooked it onto Abbie’s wrist.

 

“I don’t mind waiting.” He whispered and Abbie smiled.

 

“You’re so corny.”

 

“I was going for cute, but ok.” They held each other and drifted into a peaceful and well deserved sleep.


 

 

There was a knock on the door followed by a creek, Nisa entered the bedroom and saw Abbie and Reynard fast asleep and smiled, they looked so peaceful she almost didn’t wake them. “Nin Abbie, are you awake?” she whispered. Abbie eyes fluttered open and looked at Nisa. “Sorry to wake you The Great Lady would like to see you now, alone.” Nisa stressed the last word hoping Abbie wouldn’t protest.

 

“Alright I’ll be there in a minute.” Abbie yawned and untangled herself out of Reynard’s arms who was still fast asleep. She gave him a quick peck on the cheek and stood up to follow Nisa up several flights of stairs and down a long corridor, she pushed open the double doors that led into a grand bedchamber. Ereshkigal was sitting out on the balcony and waved Abbie in, Abbie stepped inside to meet with the Goddess. Abbie took a moment to bask in the incredible view of the vast ancient looking city underneath the painted dawn sky.

 

“Thank you Nisa that will be all.” Nisa nodded and took her leave. “Sit down my dear.” Abbie sat down on the chair opposite from the goddess and looked over the plates of food on the table. Shredded goat meat, bread, honey covered dates and an array of fruit. Ereshkigal poured herself and Abbie red wine in silver goblets. “Please help yourself.”

 

Abbie brought the cup to her lips and drank the sweet wine relishing in the taste.

“It’s good.”

 

“I’m glad you like it. You are confused.”

 

“I am very confused. You call this place Irkalla but isn’t that your name and didn’t you escape. Also, this is the nicest place I ever been to, ever. Before we start can you answer some questions.” Ereshkigal nodded. “Are you Irkalla?”

 

“Yes, when I was demi-goddess living unaware of my divinity I was called Irkalla. I was then taken by Kur the dragon of the underworld and made his wife, I was rescued by Ninurta and accepted by my fellow gods thus achieving full divinity. That is when I became Ereshkigal, soon I heard that Kur would be looking for a new bride and him leaving the underworld again would devastate the earth so I chose to return to him on my terms.”

 

“Which were?”

 

“I would rule this underworld and it would be called Irkalla as a reminder of the girl I was. Kur would be relegated to his island and conduct his torture games and the mainland will be whatever I want it to be but that took some time for me to decide.” Ereshkigal paused for a moment and reclined on her chain. “What do you make of Nisa?”

 

“She’s been very kind to me, she’s nice.”

 

“That she is. Back on the mortal world she was a teacher very dedicated and kind. She gave one of her student’s a failing grade and the student was not able to attend the school they wanted. In return this student made a vengeance pact with an elder demon to ferry Nisa to the underworld. Nisa was a good person but because of that student she was cursed to spend an eternity suffering in an underworld.”

 

“What happened to the student?” Abbie asked.

 

“She who seeks vengeance must dig two graves, when the student died the elder demon collected her soul and she is the underworld of Yomi. I made Irkalla a place for people like Nisa that had the misfortune of being cursed, fallen angels seeking redemption and divine beings that became trapped like you. Of course, I decided to include the last one after my younger sister came to visit.  last one happened a long time after my younger sister came to visit.” Ereshkigal laughed softly.

 

“How did you know that I am one of the witnesses?”

 

“I didn’t at first, I was sitting right here when I saw a glorious ball of light fall from the sky. It was odd, not a big enough impact to be a god so maybe an angel. When you landed on Kurnugia I sent my people out to investigate but they were having trouble locating you and it wasn’t until Luga found your blood. Lamassu can see the divinity in the blood Nin-Abbie. I did some scrying into your ancestry and saw that you descend from powerful people, your bloodline begins with the Magus Balthazar and that is when I knew that you are one of the two lampstands dressed in sackcloth and you were trapped on that island.”

 

“Hold the fuck up!” Abbie exclaimed astounded and covered her mouth. “Sorry, are you saying that Balthazar: one of the three wise men, is my ancestor?”

 

“You didn’t know?” Ereshkigal asked truly perplexed.

 

“No, I didn’t. Oh my God!”

 

“It’s good that you know now. But yes, your blood is how Luga could locate you, even though your trail often went cold.”

 

“It had to be the talisman.” Abbie whispered. “Reynard has a talisman he got from an angel it took us to this safe place away from the chaos.”

 

“Angel talismans, O I know all about them and that explains why. It wasn’t until you stepped foot into my old prison that I was able to sense your soul and deploy Luga to your location. He told me you defeated a Hydra.” Abbie nodded and Ereshkigal reached out to hold her hand and gave her a comforting squeeze. “You gone through so much alone.”

 

“I wasn’t alone Reynard the incubus, he was with me from the start he kept me safe, I’ve lost count how many times he has saved me.”

 

“I’m sure you have saved him in ways you’re not even aware of. The boy is absolutely in love with you, has he told you that?”

 

“He has.” Abbie confirmed.

 

“But you don’t feel the same way, in fact you don’t know what you feel.” Ereshkigal chuckled to herself and ate a sweet date and sighed. “Oh young love, you remind me so much of myself.” Abbie was growing uncomfortable discussing her love life with the ruling Goddess of this underworld.

 

“Is there a reason why you brought me here?”

 

“I’m sure you are aware that my youngest brother Etu’ilu has escaped and is on earth with that woman Pandora.” The mere mention of that woman’s name left the goddess with a bitter taste in her mouth. “Etu’ilu was always stubborn, he was never fully worshipped in old Sumer being a god that was hidden in the shadows so few mortals even knew of him. He never liked that, so he tried to assert his status and be recognized by the entire pantheon like I was. He went out into the world in hopes of becoming the God of Fear disrupting the balance on earth, our sister Inanna, she fought him I asked her not to kill him and place him under my watch after all she was indebted to me for trying to usurp my throne. Millennia passed and he struggled to find inner peace, I didn’t know Pandora was still around and still had that dowry box using it to instil fear in mortals in his name it made him stronger making him strong enough to bypass me and severely injure Gulganna my gatekeeper. A few days later I heard the cries of an ancient Dragon and saw Kurnugia break and warp and rebuild itself anew. My brother was free and would be reunited with that woman.”

 

“The Hidden One is the reason why I’m here in the first place. He almost killed her my sister when she absorbed the eye of providence, he was using her as a life force.”

 

“Eye of Providence, he is still weak from the fight against Kur but he won’t be that way for long. Your only chance against him is while he is still in his weakened state, I need to work fast to send you back.”

 

“You can send me back, just like that?”

 

“I need to finish crafting a lyre that will summon a celestial bull and chariot that will guide you through seven gates and back into the mortal world. safely between worlds.  Just promise me that you will stop Etu’ilu and put an end to Pandora.”

 

“You can count on it.” Abbie said. Ereshkigal sighed and embraced Abbie, her head resting comfortably on the Goddess chest. Ereshkigal pulled back and briefly cupped Abbie’s face.

 

“I need just another month to complete the lyre, in the meantime you’ll stay here in the temple and you’ll have plenty of time to say goodbye to your incubus friend.” The Goddess walked to the other side of the room near large round door.

 

“Goodbye? Reynard is coming with me.” Abbie said. Ereshkigal came to a halt and turn around, her long billowing gown settling. Her stance was different and her presence wasn’t as warm and inviting.

 

“That I cannot allow.”

 

“Why not? You are a powerful ancient goddess you can get two people back to earth easy.”

 

“Summoning a Celestial Bull chariot to go between realms is no easy task, it requires time and powerful magic to make it through the seven gates unharmed, besides your incubus’ soul key is in the possession of Kur and to ask him to relinquish it up would be too much.”

 

“But you said that you are the true ruler of this underworld, you make the rules.”

 

“Yes, I do and one of those rules was that Kur kept his collection of souls and he would conduct his wicked games on his island. Everything else is mine.”

 

 “You can change it just for one person.” Abbie argued.

 

“This law has been in act for thousands of years to change it will result in a civil war between he and I. There are underworlds that are currently going through just that and trust me Nin-Abbie, you do not want to deal with ancient and powerful elder demons that will take advantage of the anarchy a war creates to slip through the cracks and destroy everything in your world.” Ereshkigal pointed at Abbie and touched her forehead projecting a gruesome premonition of terrifyingly large demons stomping through the streets of Sleepy Hollow laying waste to any and everything in their path.

 

“Stop.” Abbie cried. Her whole body trembled in shock she attempted to step back but her knees gave way, Ereshkigal caught her and helped Abbie to a chair and knelt in front of her. 

 

“I’m sorry child, I know you care about him. I cannot risk all of that for just one person, just having him here is walking on a fine line.”

 

“We made a promise to each other, I want to get back home but I don’t want to leave him.” Abbie put her head down, took and deep breath, she toyed with Reynard’s watch around her wrist then sat back up.  “If we have to go through Kur…so be it.” Abbie declared.

 

Ereshkigal stood up and smiled shaking her head and laughed, her jewellery clinked as she moved.

“Luga told me you were strong willed it explains why you’ve lasted so long. I doubt there is anything I can say that will convince you to reconsider.”

 

“No.” Abbie said proudly.

 

“You do remind me of myself. Very well. If you wish to face the ancient dragon you need to win. You’ll need the very best weapon and know of his weakness.”

 

“Thank you.”

Chapter Text

Image result for gates of hell 

 

Abbie pushed open the door to their bedchamber and scanned the room for Reynard who was sitting at the table eating. “I swear a lot of people here need to remember where the fuck they are. Now I’m not the type believe In the whole demonic hierarchy thing but how is a changeling gonna look down on me. Your mom swapped you with a human baby for fun.”

 

“What?”

 

“Don’t worry about it, how did it go with Ereshkigal?”

 

“Great.” Abbie smiled brightly and joined him at the table. “She told me that the apocalypse is effecting many underworlds so she is dealing with maintaining this one. She also said she’ll help us, tell us everything about Kur and give us the best weapons to fight him and win.”

 

“Really.”

 

“Really.” Abbie confirmed.

 

“I knew I liked her the moment I saw her.” Reynard got quiet and his smile was wistful. “I can’t believe it, we’re almost home free. I don’t want to celebrate too early but damn it I can taste freedom.”

 

“Sure, that ain’t the wine?” Abbie japed.

 

“It might be. Abbie I should tell you how I got here. Back in 2013 there I was fucked up there was some fraud shit happening with my bank account and almost everything was gone. I got into the business of liberating certain important artefacts from museums and replacing them with replicas and I'd sell them to the highest bidder. I was desperate and it was fast and easy money.”

 

“You never got caught because you could move through the shadows.”

 

“That’s right, I got my hands on this mystic stone thing said to enhance a witch’s abilities during the harvest moon, two warring covens wanted it. I gave it to the one with the most coin and on my way to deliver the stone. The Children of the Blood Raven the ones who couldn’t pay up cornered me and banished me to hell.”

 

“Why didn’t you tell me before when we were confessing shit.”

 

“You had a good story of saving your family and self-sacrifice, while I pissed off the wrong people I don’t know.” Reynard shrugged. “I think the reason why my family hasn’t tried to contact me is because of those witches they had to have done something. It makes sense, right? Damn near two years stuck down here and nothing or maybe my family just…”

 

 “They didn’t forget about, okay. They didn’t forget about you.”

 

“Yeah...I am pretty unforgettable."


 

 

Later that day Abbie and Reynard took time to explore the temple, Abbie noticed how people would look at her with awe and reverence something that she was not used to. She also noticed that they were unsure of how to act with Reynard, it had to be because his soul was in Kur possession and not protected by Ereshkigal. They found a quiet spot outside on the rooftop gardens and watched the clouds float by in the sky of eternal dusk or dawn sharing a bunch of black grapes.

 

“Greeting Nin, it is good to see that you are enjoying yourselves and not locked away in your chambers.”

 

“Ereshkigal.” Abbie sat up and straightened up her robes and shawl.

 

The goddess gave them a wry smile and summoned a mass of thick grey cloud into a throne for her to sit hovering off the floor and looking down on them as if they were her children. Her three servants including Aya waited silently behind her.

 

“Incubus Reynard, you’ve been on Kurnugia for long yes?”

 

“Yes, Great Lady.” Reynard confirmed.

 

“Then I am sure that you have heard tales of Kur that he is a constant and ever changing cycle. Every time someone enters that desolate battleground he becomes a new dragon. These tales are true, anytime someone enters his battleground he is not the same dragon as before. I doubt neither of you have seen any type of dragon before so you can forget about strategizing but from what Luga told me about your battle against the hydra you adapt well.”

 

“So, what is his weakness?” Abbie asked.

 

“Kur may always be changing but one thing about him always stays the same: his hearts.”

 

“Hearts?” Abbie repeated confused.

 

“Seven hearts to be exact, representing the seven gates to pass through the underworld. You must destroy each one.”

 

“Sounds easy.” Reynard said dryly.

 

“The sixth heart is where many fail, the key for the cage around your soul will fall from the tree freeing it. It will be burning sensation stronger than anything you have ever felt and it will immobilize you Reynard.”

 

“Why the sixth heart, why not the seventh?”

 

“So, he can see the hope die from your eyes.” Ereshkigal said so coldly that her breath was visible. “He will be no help to you Nin-Abbie you must fight Kur alone and strike him down his heart will leave his body and turn into a door. You must do whatever it takes to get through it because the island will start to reset and every kind of monster will come out and try to stop you. Do not relent or else you will end up lost in a different underworld and I will not be able to reach you.”

 The silence lingered for a while as both Abbie and Reynard dealt with the gravity of the situation.

 

“What happens next when we leave where’s the exit?” Abbie asked.

 

“The void, you both still have connections to the world above, focus on home on where you feel safe and you will be there. think of home and you will be there.”

 

Abbie was jolted from the trance that Ereshkigal had words had put them under by the sound of metal banging against metal. She saw that they were no longer sitting on the rooftop gardens but in a Blacksmith’s forge that had be in the lower levels of the temple. Abbie and Reynard stood up from the floor and saw the person responsible for all the noise was a tall muscular woman with scraggly brown hair with wisps of grey tied in a topknot, wearing a black leather apron.

She was busy removing the hilt from a knife that she didn’t notice that anyone had entered until Ereshkigal called her name.

“Gemekala.”

“Great one.” she stopped working and greeted them with a bow.

 

“Gemekala this is Nin-Abbie, one of the witnesses and this is her travelling companion Reynard.”

 

“I am honoured to meet you Nin.” The woman said with a deep gruff voice and wiped the sweat from her brow with the back of her hand.

 

“Gemekala has been busy making sure you are well armed. You couldn’t face Kur and win with what you had.”

 

“It wasn’t all bad Great One, the helmet is beautiful where did you find it?”

 

“I got it off a Nightmare demon.” Abbie replied sheepishly.

 

“Well, it’s the only decent piece of armour that you have, now this...” Gemekala held up Abbie’s spellblade now without the hilt. “A spellblade made from Damascus steel and Ghanaian gold, the adinkra symbols engraved onto it means steal. Spellblades usually require the blood of wielder to perform magic but this takes the blood of others to power you magic. Imagine what the blood of a dragon god could do.” Gemekala finished very enthused.

 

“Come Nin, few people get to watch a Metal Adept craft a masterpiece.” Ereshkigal took Abbie aside to a safe enough distance to watch.

 

Gemekala held on the spellblade tight and ripped off the handle, she let the bare blade go to float in the air in front of her, the blacksmith clasped her hand together and her deep-set eyes changed from smooth cool black to hardened black with cracks of volcanic red. The spellblade was encased in a fiery forcefield, Gemekala went back to the table with the three different ores and crushed all of them with her fist. She then collected all the small pieces and threw them into the fire creating sparks that flew everywhere in the process, the blade was now white hot and singing.

Gemekala removed the blade from the fires and placed it on the placed it on the anvil and hammered the enchantments into the steel it eventually cooled down, she took a closer look at the spellblade and the magic ore she imbued into the weapon were sparkling between the wavy patterns of the steel the patterns of the steel. Gemekala blew on the knife to cool it down further, she put it back in the scabbard and handed it over to Abbie.

 

It felt different in Abbie’s hands, it radiated with a different kind of power. “Thank you Gemekala.”

 

“No need, I should start working on your armour now. watching Kurnugia reset will be thanks enough.” Gemekala took Abbie crossbow pistol and got back to work on modifying her crossbow.

 

“Nin-Abbie it is far too hot would you accompany me outside. Reynard, you will excuse us.” That wasn’t a question so Reynard said nothing, the goddess took Abbie’s hands and within a flash they were sitting on the statue of a Lamassu that guarded the entrance to the city. Normally Abbie would have been alarmed at this but the extraordinary occurrences were expected.

“I wanted to speak with you alone about the brand on your arm, I didn’t address during our last meeting because I didn’t want to upset you further.” Ereshkigal said and Abbie pulled the shawl off and revealed the brand to the goddess. “I assume that is Pandora’s doing.”

 

“You assume right, I was in trouble and she offered me some help I and I accepted it. I was desperate and now she is saying that I owe her. Is there anything I can do to get out of this deal?”

 

“I’m afraid not, when she comes to collect the debt you may not be able to fight against the compulsion and agree to whatever she wants.” Abbie pinched the bridge of her nose and groaned, Ereshkigal saw how frustrated Abbie was with everything and put her hand on her knee for comfort. “You needn’t worry child, I have faith in you.”


 

 

A few more days had passed in Irkalla and Gemekala was close to finishing off their weapons and armour. Abbie and Reynard spent their days prepping for battle and learning everything they could about the enemy. After a hard day of training they bathed in the hot springs together and retired to their chambers. Reynard noticed that Abbie had been very quiet for the whole day staring off with a wistful look in her eyes. He lay on the bed and watch her unravel her braids and comb out her hair.

 

“What’s the matter?” he finally asked.

 

“Just thinking…are mermaids real?”

 

“Well I’ve never met one before but if, witches, incubi and dragons are real then mermaids have to be too.”

 

“I think I saw one over spring break when I was in college. I thought it was dolphin but dolphins aren’t that colourful.”

 

“Alright, what are you really thinking?”

 

Abbie sighed and set the comb down on the table and turned to look at him. “Nothing…everything, I don’t know. I keep thinking about Kur and what to expect from him. What happens when we get back how can I just pick up and carry on like normal when I’ve been here for so long. Then there’s us.”

 

Reynard stood up and knelt in front of Abbie looking up at her and touched her cheek and put their foreheads together. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it but for now this is our last night together.”

 

Abbie kissed him and before she knew it Reynard had lifted her up and her legs went were around his waist as he carried her to the bed and made love and fell asleep in each other’s arms with Reynard telling Abbie that he loved her.


 

The next morning Abbie and Reynard were being helped into the armour Gemekala had made for them. It was a good fit, strong yet light and the design was beautiful. She made sure to incorporate the details of Abbie’s helmet into the chest piece and pauldron.  

 

Abbi and Reynard were brought made their way to the Ziggurut platform where they first met the Ereshkigal, the Goddess was waiting for them there with Luga by her side along with other shedu and servants. There was also a chariot attached to two other-worldly looking bulls.

 

“What is all this.”

 

“A proper farewell and a blessing from a Goddess.” Ereshkigal smiled and embraced Abbie. “They are not celestial bull they are more like calves and they should take you directly to Kur. You’ve spent enough time wandering through his hell.”

 

“Thank you for everything Ereshkigal.”

 

“Abbie, it has been a pleasure meeting you.” Ereshkigal let go of her and touched Abbie’s chin and looked at her like a proud mother. Her gaze sharply fell on Reynard.

 

“Incubus Reynard, protect the witness with your life.”

 

“You have nothing to worry about.”

 

“Good. Now leave.” Reynard helped Abbie into the chariot and held on tight to the handles and nodded to Ereshkigal that they were ready.

 

The Goddess of the Underworld willed the chariot to rise and slowly pulled and gave the warrior lovers their blessing through the song that had guided them to Irkalla.

“’Neath a faltered sky, cross loamless plains and watered blight. Ah where gone those days once glory shone so bright. Fallen ‘neath baleful wings dark as night…” Ereshkigal sang the song that called out to Abbie for a long time her voice stayed with them until Luga roared and created the vortex portal that the young celestial bulls flew straight through transporting them away from the haven of Irkalla and back into the depth of Kurnugia Island.

They arrived high above the island Abbie and Reynard held on tight as the chariot was pulled higher and higher searching for the entrance to the final floor. They spotted the entrance to the large tower and braced for the impact as the chariot bashed through the wall sending Abbie and Reynard sprawling forward. The chariot quickly dissipated and the couple recovered from their fall and stood up to see they were standing at a precipice, staring down at a city that closely resembled Irkalla but broken and half melted with ash falling upwards.

 

Unlike Irkalla there were no inhabitants, no real inhabitants just the translucent grey figures still and silent, humming out an unnerving hymn. At the end of the city was a giant grey rock cliff with a single door built into the wall.

 

“Can you believe this is it. Did you ever think you would make it here?” Abbie asked.

 

“No, thanks for yelling some sense into me.”

 

“Anytime.”

 

“You think-” Reynard clutched his chest and gasped for air, he felt a peculiar sting and his chest was glowing brightly through the armour.

 

“What’s happening?”

 

“It’s my soul.” Reynard panted. “I can feel the cage around it, again it’s tight. Shit this feels like the first time I got here.”

 

“Do you need a minute?” Abbie asked full of concern. Reynard shook his head and took a breath to centre himself.

 

“I’m good, I don’t hear Kur’s song anymore because he’s so close.”

 

“Are you sure you’re alright?” Reynard answered her by scooping Abbie into his arms and lifting off into his arm and running off the edge of the precipice. Abbie screamed and Reynard spread his wing flying back up high above the fallen and broken city.

 

“You do that again, you won’t need to worry about Kur because I’ll be the one that kills you.”

 

Reynard stared straight ahead meditative, looked up and him and thought back to their first meeting and every single moment they spent together arguing, training and fighting.

The greyish apparitions looked up at the flying couple their continued humming their haunting choir and wandered solemnly, bereaved and envious of the laughter that cut through glum atmosphere.
Reynard came to a slow descent at the strange archway built into the wall blocked by a thick stained glass door. It depicted a dragon in the possession of a tree full of stars. Abbie placed her hand over the glass and just like Ereshkigal said the glass melted away to reveal a dim corridor hall, Abbie shivered at the immense power that emerged.

 

Together hand in hand Abbie and Reynard stepped inside their footstep on the stone steps echoed in the cold, dank, dimly room, each breath they took was visible. They heard deep breathing and as their eyes adjusted to see the walls were stained with blood and the mosaic floor tiles were cracked also blood stained. There were statues made from obsidian, frozen bodies used as a crude decorations. Abbie stepped on an old bone that cracked alerting something on the far side of the room. Between two tall white pillar a pair of large red glowing eyes stared them down. The light of the fake moon shone through the gape in the celling illuminating the creature. Monstrous was the only way to describe Kur, there in front of the tree that held many souls in its branches. He sat there on the throne there on the throne made from the tree’s roots the anthropomorphic dragon king of this gruesome island.

 

“Pitiful creatures, in the crucible I have waited for those who have survived my labyrinth to face me. Tell me, are you truly ready to earn your freedom?” Kur spoke, his voice was so deep, twisted and guttural the room seem to make the entire room vibrate.

Abbie and Reynard readied their weapons. Kur stood up, bathed in the artificial moon’s light, now they could see him clear as day. His red and blue scales were thick and looked impenetrable, his horns were large and twisted and his claws were thick and sharp. Kur extended his leathery old wings, the colour of a deep angry red, he snarled at them baring his sharp jagged teeth and waved his long-spiked end tail. He leapt into the air and landed in front of them, Kur towered over Abbie and Reynard, he stood 16 feet tall and all muscle.

 

 In one quick movement, he conjured multiple icicle spikes in his claws and flung them at the couple, Reynard acted quick enough to grab Abbie and fly out of harm’s way. He dropped her off and flew back to retrieve his sword and went for an aerial attack, Kur snatched the incubus out of the air as if he were a moth and attempted to crush him but Abbie came in firing multiple bolts into the dragon’s face causing him to drop Reynard. Reynard scrambled away and Kur focused his attention on Abbie who was running out of the way and firing at the dragon god, her bolt hitting different part of his body but didn’t seem to be having too much of an impact.

 

Kur leapt into the air in front of Abbie, despite his size the dragon god was surprisingly agile. He opened his jaw and sparks danced in his mouth readying a fireball. At that moment, Reynard swooped down from above and drove his sword in the back of Kur’s throat stopping him from releasing his fireball. Dark tendrils wrapped around Abbie and pulled her into the shadows for safety and Reynard disappeared into the darkness with her.  

 

“I wasn’t expecting that.” Reynard panted out of breath.

 

“We need to be just as unpredictable.” Abbie said. She summoned and strong wind the pulled in all the frozen obsidian statues and to surround Kur, he used his spiked tail to crush all the statues and at that moment Reynard and Abbie swung out from the shadows and she jumped in Kur’s back and drove her knife into the back of the dragon’s neck.  Abbie jumped off him and Kur fell on the floor and his heart exploded from his chest.

 

“That’s what the fuck I’m talking about.”

 

“One down six to go.”

 

Abbie and Reynard battle Kur again and again each time he fell the more ruthless he became and the fights lasted longer. He was quick and tremendously powerful his magical attacks were just as strong as his physical attacks. Abbie being a witness that utilized holy fire is what gave the advantage, Kur had most likely decimated thousands of supernatural beings but had never faced a witness. They went through four hearts and Kur had set the entire arena ablaze with fire and electricity and a blood was raining from above. There were no shadows to hide in Reynard carried Abbie and stay aloft while she put up a forcefield around them. This was game of wills and endurance to see which one would last the longest. It would be them, Kur was a cycle and they were not thus, they had more to lose.

 

Kur ended his magic attack, Abbie and Reynard went after him, he jumped backed and brought out the large ice shards from the palms of his hand. Reynard blocked it with his shield and Abbe came up from behind him and shot him in the face, the bolts exploded all over on contact and Reynard made the finishing blow flying high and spilt the dragon’s head open.   

 

Kur didn’t stay down long he rose on and let out a loud roar forcing his more than worth opponents backward. He crouched down low and raised into the air and summoned a giant blue swirling energy ball and slammed it into the ground producing a vortex.

The vortex dragged everything into it, the remaining obsidian statues of fallen combatants were either sucked in or fell over and smashed into a million of pieces. Reynard created a shadow chain and bound he and Abbie to a pillar. It was as if there were caught in a hurricane, their bodies were hard weak and were being shook violently. Abbie felt her grip on Reynard slipping and his shadow magic was breaking apart and finally it snapped. He screamed her name but Abbie was sucked into the vortex and Kur jumped in after her.  The vortex disappeared and in its place, was spiral symbol that birthed dozens of monsters.


 

Abbie was falling again not in darkness but a harsh blue and white lights surrounded by the faces of numerous demons, a claw reached out and wrapped around Abbie’s leg, she recognized the claw with the greyish purple claw and took her knife and plunged it deep into the arm of the beast and held on as it for leverage to pull herself out from the spinning vortex.  Abbie was out and high above the castle and mountain she heard Kur’s deep roar before she saw him and the strange queer heartbeat of the spellblade was strong and pulsating in her hand now dripping with ancient dragon blood.

 

Abbie slashed at the air and redirected the wind in her favour propelling her towards Kur, she bashed into him, his rough scales scratched against her armour chest piece and held on for dear life while he flew fast soaring through the entire island. They were now at the coastline narrowly avoiding the rock titans and the monster Asag. Abbie held on tighter to Kur and averted her gaze from the monster.

“Yes! Fight, cling to life. I see now what ties you to my world witness, it is not your soul it is his and so long as I have him I shall have you too.”

 

Kur shot up back into the sky and reached behind him and grabbed Abbie’s arm and dug his claws deep spilling her blood. He dragged her off him pulling out the blade she buried into his back and held her up like a ragdoll. Abbie cried out in pain and struggled to fight against him, her shoulder was burning if he shook her anymore with his inhuman strength he would break it.

 

Kur tossed Abbie in the air, she screamed her arm was hurt badly yet she held on to the knife knowing that it would be the thing stop her from plummeting to her death. Abbie redirecting the wind in her favour and notice that the magic was stronger than before, it was Kur’s blood mixed with her own that was the power she was drawing from.

Kur was in the midst of tearing open a new vortex, Abbie acted quickly and summoned a thick black maelstrom that disrupted Kur’s flight spinning and knocking him around violently. Abbie guided herself to the vortex and made it through to the other side back in the crucible.

 

Reynard was leaning on his sword standing over a large pile of dead demon bodies, he looked distraught and beaten down she called his name and he looked up and smiled relieved. He struggled to stand and limped towards her.

“Where’s Ku-”

A sharp blinding light ripped passed Abbie and hit Reynard, it struck him hard in the chest that his armour cracked and he was flung across the hitting an unstable pillar that crushed his wing.

 

“Rey!” Abbie screamed panicked. She ran to him and saw that his veins were pronounced, his body was hot and he had a vacant look in his eyes. “Hang on Rey just stay with me okay.” Abbie kissed his head. She looked to see what the cause of this and saw that the tree was giving off a deathly red glow and Kur lay it front of it.

 

“Witness!” gurgled Kur, he levitated back up into the air, his whole body looked slack and damn near lifeless, his chest puffed up and rippled erratically. His torso twisted and split open revealing the face of another, the mouth opened and roared. Was this Kur’s true face? His second eyes were a twisted red and yellow and the wide sharp mouth that laughed. “Dare you look upon the truth?”

 

An extended shadowy claw lunged out to grab Abbie but she manged to roll out of the way pick up Reynard’s shield and use it to hide behind the next oncoming barrage of ice shards, once he let up she took cover behind a thick column. Abbie sent a gust of wind to lift the shards of the broken obsidian statues and drive them into Kur’s chest and charged after him she manipulated the wind once more to give herself a boost. Kur’s second mouth opened unleashed a powerful stream of blue flame Abbie countered with her own holy fire. The battled hard for dominance, each refusing to relent and submit to the other, Kur’s head lulled to the side and his first mouth quivered as he spoke.

“Yes witness, show me the power that you possess.”

 

“I will.” Abbie thought to herself and pushed herself further her holy fire sparked and then something exploded in Kur’s face and Abbie got was thrown back and controlled the wind to land gracefully. She picked up Reynard sword, and with her spellblade in the other hand she went for Kur again.

 

His phantom clams went after her but Abbie slashed them away and jumped into the air and thrust her sword into his chest and manoeuvred behind him and took a swipe at his neck, Abbie whipped around the dragon god once more and plunged both her spellblade and sword into the eyes of his second face. He gave out a gurgled roar and with one final show of strength sank his claw deep into Abbie’s left arm and threw her across the room like a ragdoll succeeding in dislocating it.  

 

The final death took Kur, the fire within his belly extinguished and he lay on the floor laughing sinisterly as his body deteriorate into glittering black smoke. There was a deep rumble that shook the entirety of the island. A piece of the bark broke off from the tree of souls to create the handles that sprouted heavy iron doors. The tower grew tall and the doors floated upward. The mosaic on the wall of Ereshkigal melted away revealing steps spiralling upward into the tower. Abbie crawled to Reynard and touched his face.

“Reynard, you awake?”

 

“I am, but I’m stuck!” He croaked. Abbie picked up a rusty sword from the floor and looked at Reynard’s crushed wing. “Just make it quick.”

 

Abbie brought down the sword on him and severed his damaged wing. Reynard rose to his feet and he and Abbie leaned on each other for support and limped as quickly as they could up the stairs. There was another rumble and the sound of high pitched snickering followed. The ground cracked up and a dozen of grim-goblins poured emerged and ran after them.


Abbie and Reynard started running up the stairs, an almost deafening screeching pierced the air and a swarm of harpies, gargoyles flew out and from the hole followed by pack of rotting wolves.  Parts of the steps were breaking off so the couple had to be cautious of where they placed their foot.

Abbie took the lead with Reynard trailing not too far behind her, a gargoyle swooped down pinned Reynard to the wall with its claw penetrating his shoulders, the poison from the claws seeped into his skin further weakening Reynard.

Abbie pulled her gun out from the holster her gun and shot the gargoyle in the head, the monster went limp and Reynard was surprised that Abbie still had her gun and that the bullets worked. Reynard shoved the heavy stone body of the gargoyle off him and resumed following close behind Abbie, he jumped over a gap and landed hard, his foot going straight through the wood. Grim-goblins jumped on his back and begun biting on his severed wings and pulling on the other one.

 

“Hold on Rey!” Abbie called she aimed her gun at the goblins to shoot but a harpy dropped and its talons pulling at her hair and trying to scratch her face and pull at her dislocated arm. Abbie dropped her gun and with hand pulled at the harpy’s foot and dragged the birdwoman down and proceeded to stomp on the demon and kick it over the ledge. She looked up at the gates, they were closing and they were almost there. There wasn’t a part of her body that didn’t hurt but she was determined to make it through.  Abbie picked up her gun back up and shot some of the grim-goblins but more kept coming and the entire mountain was shaking and coming apart. Abbie jumped back as a large chunk of the floor broke off separating her from Reynard. 

 

Reynard fought hard despite his weakened state and pried the demons off him and ripping their diminutive bodies in two. He saw the gates were so near and they were closing the island was reshaping and he knew that as weak as he was he wouldn’t make. Abbie was looking for a way to save him regardless of what further harm it would cause her, he couldn’t let that happen.

 

“Abbie don’t, keep going Abbie! I’ll catch up.”

 

“Shut up and let me think!”  Abbie yelled at him whilst shooting the harpies and gargoyles that tried to swoop down on him. She was out of bullets now and cleared her throat and tried to blowing out a directed stream of holy fire but only a weak flame struggled to escape tried to blow out holy fire but barely a flame escaped her mouth, her chest and throat were so sore and strained Abbie coughed hard and spat up blood.

 

Abbie’s eyes darted back and forth thinking hard of what her next move should be, she didn’t have her spellblade but she could empower herself with her own blood. Abbie looked at the fresh blood in her hand and centred herself, the blood rose from in small droplets.

Reynard watched on horrified at what Abbie was attempting to do, her body was broken and battered from the fight to perform a big attack fuelled by her own blood in an improper way could break her.

 

“Abbie stop, Abbie please!” He begged but she ignored him her hair whipped around her face as a new wind was rising. Reynard gritted his teeth and fought to rise about the horde of grim-goblins piling on him to devour his wings fuelled by his desire to save her he channelled the remainder of his strength into manipulating the shadows.

 

 Abbie felt a cool darkness wrap itself around her dislocated arm and pull. Abbie wailed in agony disrupting her spell.

“What are you doing?!”

 

“Keeping my promise!” Reynard fought through the pain of the grim-goblins biting into his flesh. He had a firm hold of Abbie and used shadow and dragged her away from him safely manoeuvring her towards the gates, no matter how hard she fought against him he forced himself to ignore her begging.

 

The gates were shutting fast and Abbie was right in front of it, just one step and she wound be back with her family. She looked back at Reynard who was almost unrecognisable tears fell from her eyes she didn’t want to leave him here like this. “Rey, please.”

 

“Goodbye Nightlight.” Reynard said with a smile and with a wave of his hand pushed Abbie through the gates, he heard her scream his name and then the doors slammed shut. The stairs finally gave way and he fell into the pit full of ravenous monsters tearing him apart. Reynard smiled and let go falling back into the pit ravenous monsters.


Abbie was drifting in deep blue waves, surrounded by absolutely nothing, no demons, no gods and no sound, and no pain. Abbie wept silently letting the tears roll down her cheeks. Ereshkigal said she just had to relax and wait to be brought back to her loved ones listen to the sounds of their voice and they would lead her back. So, there she was waiting and drifting with nothing but her thoughts for an unknown amount of time until she heard a very faint voice.

 

“…Abbie…”

 

“Jenny?” Abbie answered unsure, she heard her sister’s muted voice and followed, she thought her sister, of Joe and Ichabod. She thought of home.

 

In the archives, Jenny, Joe, Ichabod and Sophie were all busy researching when they were interrupted by a tremor in the ground

 

“What’s going on?” exclaimed Sophia.

 

“Maybe Pandora and The Hidden One are attacking.” Jenny pulled her gun and stood at the ready with Joe. A large white fiery vortex arose from the floor causing the lights the flash rapidly and the unnatural wind whip wildly send the stacks of paper spiralling in all directions.

 

“Everyone be prepared for anything that may come forth.” Ichabod bellowed. The fire raged for a short moment until it all died away leaving behind a small body huddled in a foetal position the small group gasped and Ichabod’s eyes widened in shock. “Lieutenant!”  Ichabod ran to her lifted Abbie up into his arms she cried out the pain in her dislocated shoulder returning.

 

“Oh, my God Abbie.” Jenny cried, she put her gun away and rushed over to her sister. “Joe clear the table.”

“Right.” Joe and Sophia helped push the books aside giving space for Ichabod to set Abbie down, but he remained close. Jenny threw her arms around Abbie, hugging her sister tight.

 

“Abbie, I missed you so much. I thought I lost you. Oh, god your arm. Joe get the car we are taking you to the hospital.”

 

“Wait, just let me enjoy being back home with all of you.” Abbie blocked out the pain and hugged Jenny back. “God I missed you, thank you for not forgetting about me.”

 

“How could we Abbie.” Joe said. Abbie let go and sobbed hard happy to be reunited with her family.

Chapter Text

 

Abbie lay in the hospital bed while staring out the window watching the rain fall. As soon as she got back from hell and enjoyed the few moments with her family her the pain in her shoulder set in horribly. Joe instructed everyone on how to remove her armour without causing further harm, and Jenny drove them to the hospital ignoring all stop signs.

 

Jenny made up a story of about Abbie falling down the stairs well, it was almost true. The Doctor had set her shoulder back into the socket and treated the bumps and scrapes all over her body and Abbie was relaxing comfortably with her arm resting in a sling and the morphine was doing its job.

The door creaked open and Jenny, Joe and Ichabod poured in bearing gifts of flowers, balloons and stuffed animals.

“Hi guys.”

 

“Hey, how are you doing?” Jenny asked.

 

“The doctor said I need surgery to fix the torn tissue so I have that to look forward to. The drugs are helpful though.” Abbie said. She noticed the get well soon card in Joe’s hand and smiled

 

“They didn’t have any welcome back from hell cards.” Joe laughed nervously and sat down on the couch.

 

“I’m just glad I get to go home. I miss sleeping in my own bed.”

 

“Ah yes, Lieutenant when you were gone there was a small incident involving a fire.”

 

“You burned down my kitchen?!” Abbie exclaimed.

 

“No, your kitchen is fine with the mere exception of a few tea towels.” Ichabod stated.

 

“How did you even manage when you took off for all those months?” Abbie laughed and shook her head. Jenny, Joe and Ichabod got Abbie all caught up with everything that happened when she was gone. It was pure luck that Abbie had quit the bureau right before diving into hell, Daniel showed up looking to talk to her and Jenny lied saying she was in vacation and did not want to talk to him or anyone.

 

Later on, the Doctor returned to the room to check on Abbie to give her to the all-clear too discharge her. Ichabod pushed Abbie wheelchair and helped her into the car. Abbie sat in the car silently looking out the window at the and watched the town and people go by her whole body shook as she recalled the vision Ereshkigal put in her mind of giant monsters demolishing the town.

 

“Lieutenant, are you well?” Ichabod asked.

 

“I’m fine just got a small chill.”

 

The ride back home was quick, Ichabod rushed to open her car door and help carry her belongings. Abbie took a moment to look at her house, it had been so long since she seen it, she was truly home. Abbie stepped into her house and things looked pretty much the same as when she left that night to face Pandora and the Hidden One except all her houseplants were dead now dead. Abbie walked into the kitchen and was happy to see that Ichabod did not burn it down.

 

“What do you want to eat Abbie I can make anything you want and by that, I mean I will order anything you want.” Jenny said.

 

“I don’t mind anything, I just want to take a nap in my own bed.” Abbie walked slowly upstairs into her bedroom and closed the door and sighed, she dropped her hospital bag and some of the contents spilled out, Abbie noticed that Reynard’s watch was there, she had almost forgot she still had it. She bent down and picked up the watch the face was cracked and the hands were still stuck on 6:30, Abbie held the watch close to her chest and felt a pang of sorrow and regret. Reynard was all alone in some unknown hell and she had no way of reaching him, Abbie crawled into her bed with the watch still in her hand and fell asleep crying.  


 

Jenny bolted out of bed at the sounds of Abbie’s screams, she pushed passed Joe and Ichabod and barged into Abbie’s room. Jenny and Joe had insisted on staying at Abbie’s house her first day back in case a situation like this happened.

 

“Abbie, Abbie it’s okay wake up.” Jenny pleaded. She grabbed Abbie’s flailing arm. “Abbie! It’s okay.”

 

Abbie woke up in a cold sweat and surveyed her surroundings she was alone surrounded by monstrous shadows dangerously close, she lashed out violently screaming,

Get off me!” Abbie wailed.

 

“Abbie please.” The creature that had a hold on her morphed into Jenny. Once Jenny saw the realization in Abbie’s face she let go of her Abbie. Abbie’s eyes darted around the room and saw Joe and Ichabod by the doorway, she was in her room, in her home.

 

“Jenny, I’m-I’m.” Abbie stuttered, Jenny put her forehead together with Abbie and gave her kind and comforting words. Abbie broke down and sobbed holding on to Jenny grasping to her as an anchor to reality.

 

“Abbie do you need anything?” Jenny asked

 

“No I’m fine.”

 

“Abbie.”

 

“I said I’m fine.” Abbie reaffirmed with a pained smile. “Just go back to bed I’ll be fine.” Her family knew it was best not to argue with Abbie and all three of them left her bedroom.

 

“I’m worried about her, God only knows what she went through.” Joe said.

 

“The way she looked at me I never seen her like that before.” Jenny looked back at the door. “Ichabod, you need to talk to her and get her to open up about what she went through.

 

“I shall, I am concerned that she might be suffering from…”

 

Abbie listened to the hushed murmurs coming from the other side of the door only catching every other sentence, however it was clear that her family was concerned about her health. She returned to her bed, the early light of daybreak cast the shadow in the shape of man with wings on her wall. Abbie rubbed her eyes, and looked again and the shadow was gone, she was seeing things, she was tired but didn’t want to sleep and be beleaguered by nightmares.  

Abbie lay back down on the bed and stared at the ceiling listening to her family’s conversation until they left.


 

It was a quiet Saturday morning Abbie sat outside on the porch curled up under a blanket and relaxed in the winter sun and fresh cold air. She listened to the song of birds chirping in the tree and children playing in the street and smiled sadly. All the mundane simplicity of this world of this small town she had missed them all. Abbie felt her phone vibrate and pulled it out of her pocket to check it, another email from Daniel she had to needed to see him, she missed him.

 

Abbie closed the email and decided put Reynard’s name into a search engine, luckily there weren’t a lot of Reynard Sawais out there, she managed to find his twitter account that didn’t have much activity since 2013 but it was linked to other social media accounts.

Abbie found Reynard’s Instagram @ReyAllDay, the page was filled with many pictures with friends or by himself. Abbie clicked on the most recent picture and paused, of Reynard and a blonde girl that was uploaded 1 week ago, she flipped through different pictures and checked the date, they were all quite recent. She read the captions and clicked on the name @ashleighbarnes the account was set to private but Abbie determined that the woman in the photo had to be a part of the witch coven that were responsible for banishing Reynard to the hell but this.

 

“Lieutenant, what are you doing, aren’t you cold?” Ichabod said stepping outside carrying a box of sweet smelling goods and a cup of coffee.

 

“No, I’m fine. I like it how cold it is.” Abbie replied and put her phone away

 

“Oh, well I just got back from the bakery’s and brought you the chocolate croissants and the cinnamon mocha latte that you like.” Ichabod sat down beside her and handed her the coffee cup.

 

“Thanks, but you didn’t have to do all this Crane.”

 

“I most certainly did, I have noticed that you have been forgetting to eat,” Ichabod said. “and it is the least I could do seeing how I wasn’t able to free you from hell.”

 

“Don’t worry about it, I’m back now and I…” Abbie trailed off and stared into space while she fidgeted with the black watch around her slender wrist. Ichabod touched her shoulder jolting Abbie causing her to gasp and spill a small amount of coffee in her hands, luckily is wasn’t too hot to scald her skin.

 

“Sorry.” Ichabod took a napkin and cleaned up Abbie’s hands, Abbie rested her head on his shoulder, she wanted to tell him about everything but knew she couldn’t. The confrontation with a vengeful Katrina, and contributing to Thomas Jefferson’s torture although the man more than deserved it.

 

“That watch, I never seen you with it before but since you’ve come back I haven’t seen you without it.”

 

“Damn memory” Abbie rolled her eyes and sighed “It belonged to Reynard.”

 

“Reynard, the demon.” Ichabod said with a twinge of distaste. He was glad that Abbie was away from that demon but didn’t like how sad she was, he speculated that the demon had gotten close enough to Abbie to leave a lasting impression and manipulate her.

 

“We were so close, almost made it out together, we fought Kur and won. But the castle was breaking, the floor was gone, the gate was out of reach and rabid demons came from everywhere. He was hurt and stuck, I tried to help him but they just kept coming and then he forced me through the gates.” Abbie’s voice cracked and turned her head as her eyes were welling up with heavy tears. She wiped them away with her sleeve and sipped some more coffee.

 

“You escaped and that is what is important. This Reynard he may have shown you kindness and may have even been charming gentleman but charm is often deceptive Lieutenant-”

 

“You don’t know him.” Abbie interrupted.

 

“And neither do you, you spent a short amount of time with this man.”

 

“It was a year!” Abbie snapped slamming her cup on the table. “It was a long arduous year of hell and I did things, things that if I told you about you would look at me differently. I was scared and would have been all alone but I wasn’t because he was there! Reynard was there for me we kept each other safe, and as sane as possible. So, don’t you dare try paint him as some sneaky opportunistic demon that was biding his time to betray me because he never did! He was on my side right to the god damned end. Reynard is my friend and he is down there suffering on that fucking island or some other unknown sick hell and he doesn’t deserve it and I can’t help him.” Abbie’s face was covered in tears.

Ichabod reached out to her but she pulled away from him. He instantly regretted what he had said. He never thought that Abbie would react this way she had never yelled at him before and feared that they would be at ends again, they had to remain united.

 

“I apologize, you are right I do not know what you went through but I want to. Lieutenant, you can talk to me about anything and I vow to do my best and listen. Just listen.”

 

“I know Crane, I know. I’m tired and I just want to be alone for a while.”

 

“Of course, well you know where to find me.” With that Ichabod stood up and left Abbie alone. She felt bad about going off on Crane like that be she couldn’t let him bad mouth Reynard like that, Abbie needed to stop thinking he would be so accepting without meeting Reynard yet. A year ago, no it was a month Abbie reminded herself. If a month here. If a month ago, Ichabod became friends with some random demon he just met she would be uneasy about it too.

 Abbie’s phone rang, she saw that it was Daniel calling, she took a deep breath to steady her nerves and answered the call.

“Hello Danny, yeah I know I owe you a call.”

 

“Wanna make it up to me?”


 

Abbie arrived at the crime scene, csu were busy gathering evidence. Abbie scanned the crowd to find Daniel, their eyes met and they smiled but seeing her arm made him run up to her.

“Abs, my god what happened.”

 

“Hey nice to see you too and nothing I just fell down the stairs.”

 

“What, when why didn’t you tell me?”

 

“I didn’t want you to worry about me.”

 

“Abbie, you quit just like that and then leave town for a whole month and don’t take my calls. You show up and your arm is broken. I’m allowed to be worried about you.”

 

“Dislocated.” Abbie corrected. “Sorry I didn’t tell you. What’s happened here?”

 

Daniel shook his head and took Abbie to examine the body bag he pulled back the bag to reveal severed body parts. Abbie had flashback of several body parts hanging in the torture pit.

“Doug Franklin and Krissy Kowalick, both killed and dismembered by the car. As you can see, the slashing is precise but also swift, haphazard and full of rage.

 

“Almost like a crime of passion but that doesn’t add up.” Abbie said masking her discomfort.

 

“Yeah that’s the weird part,” Daniel said. “the act seems personal but the pattern’s pathological. Even with a cloudy M.O., the mythology’s consistent: couples, at night…” Daniel went on explain the murders and Abbie listened and provided her expertise but her mind would wander back to her time in the underworld and the smell of dead bodies was getting to her. It was clear that the monster behind the murders was the Kindred. She knew they should have taken care of it as soon as it ran off.

 

“You on to something?”

 

“I’m sorry Danny, I can’t do this my head is not all the way here and my arm is starting to hurt again. Put Agent Foster on this she is really good.”

 

“She is but she is not you.” Daniel said with earnest.

 

“Well she is the one currently under your employ, so she’ll have to suffice.” Abbie replied backing away to leave.

 

“I never handed in your resignation.” Daniel confessed.

 

“What?” Abbie exclaimed and lowered her voice when other took notice.

 

“What you did was rash and illegal and I wanted to give you time to work things out away from all this.  You are a good agent Abs a great one you worked hard and I don’t want you to regret leaving because of a mistake.”

 

“Danny I need time. I  mean I not in the right condition to be doing field work just yet. Sorry.” With that Abbie left wanting to be far away from the crime scene as possible.

 

“Hey.” Sophie called from her Car. “This isn’t a garden variety serial killer is it?” Abbie looked back to make sure Daniel wasn’t watching her and got into Sophia’s car.

 

“We need to get to the archives now.” Abbie called up Ichabod , Jenny and Joe to meet in the archives.

Once everyone had arrived Abbie and Ichabod explained the origins of the Kindred to Joe and Sophie. Ichabod went through what they had to do to put an end to the Kindred and retrieve the horseman’s head. Abbie asked Sophie to use her resources at the bureau to be on lookout for where the kindred could hit.

Jenny and Joe offered to go and retrieve the glass harmonica that would lull the Kindred to sleep. Ichabod and Abbie concluded that Franklin’s variation of come thou Almighty Kin was the lullaby meant for the Kindred and he went off to find while Abbie rested in the Archives alone.

 

Abbie was growing paranoid, she was sure that Pandora knew she was free but hadn’t confronted Abbie about the debt. What the hell where they even planning on doing with the Kindred and did it involve her in any way?

Abbie pushed some papers aside and ended up knocking a book on the floor, she picked it up and a piece of paper fell out.

If you are considering this option, please call me Jenny.

-Ezra.

“Dad?” Abbie said perplexed she looked at the old thick tome the words on the cover was faded but the magic circle on it still had a slight gleam to it. Abbie flipped through the pages. The book was filled with pages on summoning, demons and spirts using Solomonic practices, Abbie turned to a page that saved by the ribbon, it was about summoning entities from hell it listed what was need for this ritual and how to perform it.

 Abbie got out her phone and called Jenny.

 

“Hey Abbie everything ok?”

 

“You called Dad?”

 

“Abbie-”

 

“You told me you didn’t want to talk to him, didn’t want to see him. How does he know about everything?”

 

“I wanted to explain everything thing to you but it’s not like there’s a great time to explain shit when new shit pops up and we have to deal with it.”

 

“Jenny, why does he know? How is he involved?”

 

“I don’t know he was very vague about stuff and I didn’t care enough to ask I just wanted to find a way to bring you back and he gave me that book and I took it back to Ichabod to look it over.”

 

“I understand why you didn’t do it, I’m looking through this spell and it doesn’t look safe.”

 

“Abbie I was fully prepared to do it, fuck the consequences you are my sister. But you being you got out without any help.”

 

“Jenny.” Abbie sighed.

 

“Look I gotta go Joe’s found something I’ll call you back later okay.” Jenny hung up the phone and Abbie stared at the pages of the book and traced the circle with her finger. She closed her eyes to take a deep breath and caught and the image of Reynard’s sad smile bidding her goodbye, she would see relive that moment. Abbie continued to trace the summoning circle with her finger until she her vibration on her phone pulled her from her trance. Abbie picked up her phone expecting it to be Jenny texting her but it was a notification from Reynard’s Instagram. It was a new a selfie of him lying down on the beach, the caption read: Enjoying this Florida Sunset #vacation #blessed

 

Abbie became heated looking at the picture, this fake picture of him. His hair was shorter, he was clean shaven and his smile was all wrong, it wasn’t Reynard. Abbie set her phone down and looked back at the book she had help get Reynard out she couldn’t leave him there to suffer. At that moment Reynard’s watch started ticking.