I turned and stumbled back into the room. The other boys were concerned at the pale look on my face. Eventually, I managed to explain that Daltom was leaving back to the future. They were surprised and regretful they couldn’t throw him a farewell party, but handled it a little more stoically than I had. I didn’t mention the box he had given me. My hand held it through my pocket. It was the last part of him I’d have for some time. Jesus, maybe I was a pervert.
“We need to get going, Jane,” Rune said, pulling me out of my thoughts.
“My dad and uncle are coming. We need to meet them at the spot.”
“There is only one spot.”
And there I was, back in the forest surrounded by trees. We were close to the clearing where I had first met Andrew and Rune. It was where it had all started; with just me, Rune, and Andrew. Ryan was still at the house helping my mom. I had managed to call her to confirm the dinner. Fortunately, she didn’t work today, so she was available to come. Rune felt that the less people present, the better. Daniel and Stephan would protect the parameter but stay out of sight. They just needed to stay close enough that if anything went wrong, they could show up.
Alex, Mr. Xavier, and Allan decided to stay out of it. Alex let mom know she was staying the night with friends. Mr. Xavier would spend the night grading papers and Allan claimed he needed to write up the report around what it was like being a girl. He claimed he had taken the opportunity and researched it extensively, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know what he meant by research.
“And why is this the spot?” I asked the two boys.
“Reality is thinner here. If you going to cross dimensions this is the best place in the area to do it.” Andrew explained.
Rune had become surprisingly introverted since we had made the trek out here. Instead, he just kept muttering to himself as if he was having an argument. He usually looked annoyed, but I never had seen him this irate before.
I did not dwell on it much longer, as the ground began to glow in the shape of a circle. I had seen something like these intricate runes once before. When Andrew had summoned that bow for me, he drew something similar. However, this one seemed to come out of nowhere and it was about three times the size of the one Andrew had drawn. Instead of emitting blinding white light, it seemed to do the opposite. It shone in a strange black hue, which absorbed the surrounding light. At the edges of the black light, a red halo shown. It felt dark, quiet, and terrifying.
Andrew began to tense, and I put my hand on his shoulder. He needed to act respectful all the way through dinner. I really hoped this didn’t come to blows. The last thing I needed was my house blown up. My hand seemed to sooth him though, his muscles loosening just a bit.
Two forms began to rise out of the symbol. The first was a beautiful looking man. He wore a fancy shirt and dress pants, with a large black leather trench coat over it. He had dazzling blue eyes and perfect spikey blond hair. His body was strong and confident, his smile pleasant and welcoming. The sense of ease and comfort he emitted was tangible. This must be Rune’s dad.
The other form was a hulking monstrosity of a man. He was three times the size of the skinny man. His massive muscles rippled; his green eyes shown darkly in the night. He had a massive bushy beard and long straggly hair. Spattering of red shone in his beard, but it resembled blood if anything. He wore furs and a suit of what looked like the skins of various animals. Some of those skins didn’t look like animals I’ve ever heard of on Earth. This was clearly the Demon King, the only thing he was missing was a pair of horns.
“I’ll kill you, old man!” Rune shouted.
I gasped as a purple fireball shot out. It wasn’t targeted at the man in the trench coat, but the viking looking monster. He caught the fire, then snuffed it out my closing his hand. Rune ran at him as Andrew and I stood dumfounded.
Rune lept up, kicking the massive man in the face. The man caught his leg and swung Rune. Rune slammed into the ground with a resounding crack, but seemed to rebound surprisingly well.
“You call that a kick? Your baby sister kicked harder than that when she was in your mom’s stomach!”
Rune screamed and lept at him again. The two wrestled and Rune found himself on the man’s back. He put him in a chokehold, bringing the old man to his knees. The two of them panted, the old man’s breaths coming out in labored rasps.
My gaze broke away from the pair as the attractive man approached us. He bowed politely with his a stiff back. He took my hand and kissed it in a very gentlemanly fashion.
“I apologize for my brother. They get like this every time they meet.”
The massive demon managed to shake Rune off of him. He tossed Rune to the ground, and was now shoving his knee into Rune’s neck.
“You don’t say?” I asked in disbelief.
The beautiful man shrugged, “I do apologize, but where are my manners. My name is Abaddon. I am the lord of hell. That is my brother, Baal.”
Baal had his legs wrapped around Rune’s neck, cutting of his airway. Rune struggled, but didn’t seem to be able to do anything. His face steadily turned bluer as he tried to punch his dad in the side. Was Baal killing Rune? I needed to do something, didn’t I?
“You’re Andrew, aren’t you?” Abbadon asked, snapping his finger.
Andrew straightened his back, but gave a stiff nod.
“I knew it! It’s been a while. The last time I saw you was at the summit. Of course, I wasn’t the lord of hell then.”
“You weren’t always the lord of hell?” I asked before I could stop myself.
Abaddon shook his head, “No, back when the treaty was signed, hell was ruled by a real piece of work named Cain. My brother and I overthrew him shortly after.”
“That’s hell for you,” Andrew spat angrily, “No respect for authority.”
I winced at the comment, but Abaddon just smiled sadly, “I wouldn’t disagree with you while Cain was in charge. He was a real evil bastard. Only signed the treaty in the first place because the Necromancer strong armed him. That’s why I had to take over. Hell has spent ages with a bad reputation. Ever since Lucifer’s reign. I’ve been working to overturn that. You could call it my life’s work. Turn Hell into a better place. It takes work though, a lot of work.”
Andrew seemed to blush at that. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know that.”
Abaddon raised his hand, “It is fine. There were a lot of issues with both side. The problem to this very day is communication. I’ve tried to talk to your father on many occasions. At first, he seemed receptive. However, at some point shortly after the treaty was signed he seemed to be content leaving things as they were.”
Andrew’s eyes widened in interest, “What do you mean, communication?”
Abaddon shrugged, “Something along the lines of a cultural exchange. There is very little we know about the Angels or heaven. Just a bunch of half rumors and superstition. Is it true that you sleep all Sunday? They say it’s the day of rest and Angels just go to sleep.”
Andrew coughed, “What? No. Why would you think that?”
“It’s just one of the things I’ve heard. I also heard you have really ridged social classes. Seraphim only talk to seraphim and cherubs only talk to cherubs. Do you severally punish those who talk outside their order? Is it true you cut off angel wings as a form of punishment?”
Andrew shook his head, “No, heaven isn’t like that at all. What about hell? Do you really feed your weaker children to the stronger ones so they can absorb their power? Do you really have torture racks and force people to torture each other or be tortured?”
It was Abbadon’s turn to have wide eyes, “What kind of stories have you heard about hell? Hell hasn’t been like that since the old-testament, and even then it wasn’t that bad.”
The two continued to talk, bouncing one rumor or stereotype after another off of each other. Andrew seemed to be really excited as he talked to Abaddon, who in turn relayed his thoughts about how he could improve relations between heaven and hell. After a while, the conversation started to dwindle. Rune had managed to escape his dad’s grip, only to find himself in a firm sleeper hold.
“What is it?” I asked Andrew, tapping his shoulder.
Andrew shook his head slowly, “It’s just that demons and hell aren’t what I was raised to think they were. Rune’s not half bad, sometimes. A lot of the things I knew to be true don’t seem to be the case. I just, I don’t know what to believe any more.”
Abaddon listened in on the exchange and sighed, “Of course, there are always those that like to embrace the stereotypes.”
He nodded to the fight scene in front of them. Baal finally let go of Rune, standing up. It looked like Rune had finally been beaten into unconsciousness. At least I hoped so. Rune didn’t move at all. The massive demon bent down, picked Rune up, and slung him over his shoulder. He then walked over to the three of us.
“Damn, I missed my son! Good times,” Baal chuckled, “So what’s to eat?”