Chapter 1

    Uvall's ears absorbed the message hungrily
and his whole body reverberated with the calling. Although he had
summoned the brethren silently, Lord Bael was not subtle in his
invitation. But this meeting was worthy of such a forceful and
rousing reveille.
    This was to be an audience like no
    He collected his wits and
dragged his body out of its slumber. With a long and uncomfortable
yawn, which almost unhinged his jaw, he arose from the stone slab
in his bed chamber. His limbs protested loudly as he took his first
faltering steps for many a day. Automatically stretching his white
wings to their fullest extent, he flapped them back and forth,
grimacing in pain as the blood forced its way through his
constricted vessels, returning life to his extremities. A flurry of
loosened feathers fluttered through the air like snow. The ash
around his feet rose — disturbed by the vacuum he had created — sweeping upwards in a choking, smothering
cloud. It stung his nostrils and cloyed the back of his throat
unpleasantly until he sneezed and coughed, expelling the disgusting
sulfurous stench. He shuddered. He would never become accustomed to
the taste and smell of brimstone ash if he lived in Hell a hundred
    He needed to dress. Clothing was not worn in
the caverns, but a meeting with Bael, his Lord, demanded it.
    Reaching toward his small collection of
possessions on the table to his side, he picked up his heavy, black
velvet hip-cloth and wrapped it around his lean naked loins,
fastening it with its solid gold buckle, so it sat comfortably low.
His long taloned finger brushed his embossed gold insignia. It was
his emblem, and one he wore with pride.
    He turned and observed himself in his
discolored vanity glass. After plucking a stray white feather from
his head, he ran his fingers through the long, dark, fall of his
hair. Despite his age he had the appearance of young male athlete.
And his body and exceptionally handsome visage were set in stone.
Never changing. His bared his teeth, so white and perfect, and then
he smiled at himself. His appearance only ever attracted the right
kind of interest. Intense female interest. His body served him well
in that respect. Very well.
    He took a few paces to his left.
    For a moment he stood idly, his
hands braced against the arched doorway, taking stock of his cavern
beyond ― the darkened abyss to which he was bound. It stretched
endlessly before him, in all directions. A sea of red and black,
lit here and there by torches positioned around the stairways and
open areas. The heat in the caverns was oppressive - way beyond human
endurance - but bearable for a demon and his brethren. A tiny imp
passed him by, in a world of his own, suddenly catching sight of
his master in the doorway. Uvall smiled as the little creature
started and bowed his hairless red head, scurrying off on all
fours, his long tail twitching behind him. His eyes swept the
activity in the cavern. The constant movement of imps and the
legion as they went about their day.
    Much the same as
    But that was to be expected.
    His head titled upwards and he watched the
descent. The lifeblood of Hell. The source from which everything
grew. The material of their legion and the fabric of their society
came from this never ending supply of corrupt souls.
    The damned were dripping steadily, like
human rain, through the reddened Ethos of Reality, the space
betwixt the realities and the Underworld. His eyes followed
through, to their destination below.
    Millions of lost souls swirled in the vast
pool of flame in the center of the cavern. Their searing misery was
all that they had left to ponder of their wretched existence.
    A group of his lesser-minded legion gathered
at the edge of the inferno, snickering loudly as they tortured the
unfortunate few with sharp pikes, merely because they had the power
to do so.
    He snorted with a mixture of disgust and
    Little things please little minds,

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