SCALES-5

"You?" the stranger and I both demanded incredulously, clearly unimpressed.

I had expected a giant, a snake, some kind of goblin thing...but not...some guy.

He was maybe a head taller than me, wearing a well-fitted suit and red tie. Both his hair and eyes were the colour of molten gold, but his face was pulled into the same bored expression as mine.

"My father's recruiting little girls, now is he?" he muttered, "How pathetic."

I couldn't place his accent, but it sounded imperious, and annoyed.

"Just who are you?" I asked in retaliation, my tail stiffening with agitation.

He sighed, before flames appeared out of nowhere and surrounded him like fireworks.

PRINCE EVERSIO, a hidden, booming, enthusiastic voice announced, SON OF HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS KING LUCIFER! 66th HEIR TO THE THRONE! AVID PHILANTHROPIST AND ENTREPRENEUR-

Eversio interrupted the introduction, yawning.

"You can cut it out Bob. It's not like we have anyone worth impressing here."

AS YOU WISH, YOUR HIGHNESS! I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND!

"Um, excuse me," I started, "Are you and that disembodied voice here just for the sake of insulting me? I have better things to do, you know. Like homework."

"Great. A geek. That's even better."

The last of the flames dissipated into thin air. 

"Now listen here-" I started, on the verge of a rant.

YOUR HIGHNESS, MAY I REMIND YOU OF YOUR SCHEDULE?

"Sorry, Bob." Eversio replied nonchalantly, "Let's get moving so that I can meet the quota some time this millenium."

OF COURSE! I'LL OPEN THE PORTAL!

"Portal?" I asked nervously, "Am I on some candid camera show?"

UNFORTUNATELY, RECRUIT #6666, YOU ARE NOT! YOU ARE ABOUT TO GO TO HELL!

"Don't be so insensitive, Bob." Eversio replied, "The politically correct term is The Underworld."

MY APOLOGIES!

Eversio stepped off of the porch, and I watched, standing stupidly as he turned back to face me.

"Are you going to walk or do I have to get Bob to drag you to the carriage?"

The idea of some invisible thing dragging me around horrified me so much that I promptly started walking, surprised when Eversio offered me his gloved hand as I stepped down.

I saw, for the first time, a carriage sitting in our driveway. It looked like it was wrought out of some kind of black metal, with various demonic faces carved on the sides. The two horses harnessed to it were huge black stallions with what I could swear were flames for eyes.

Eversio opened the door for me, and I felt obliged to clamber into the vehicle and sat on the bench inside. The door closed and I was thrown into pitch black darkness. 

After a few moments I felt the carriage lurching to a start, the clopping of the horses' hooves the only sound. Shortly afterwards we had gained so much speed that I was thrown back from the force, my head hitting metal painfully.

Maybe a couple minutes later I heard a loud rumbling and the sound of stone grating against stone, and the carriage started to incline downwards. 

It felt like we were bouncing more than rolling down an incredibly steep hill, one that grew steeper by the second. I was barely on my seat anymore, and had put my hands by my head to keep from bashing my brains out. 

And then we were going straight down, and I had to dig my nails into the horns of a demon carving on the ceiling to keep from falling. It made no sense to me how the carriage was still bouncing along, how the horses hooves' were still clopping away when it felt like we were dropping off of a cliff.

My legs dangled towards the opposite wall of the compartment, and I hung from the carving a few seconds before dropping down to land on it. I couldn't possibly describe how weird it was standing there, confused beyond confusion.

And, of course, the carriage suddenly uprighted itself on flat ground and I fell on my butt in the space between the benches.

The door finally opened again and Eversio, without a hint of expression on his face, helped me out once I got to my feet.

We were surrounded by stone walls, torches throwing light on them every few paces. The path we had just come from looked like nothing more than a giant vertical tunnel and the chamber had only one other opening, that seemed to be leading further down.

Eversio clapped his hands and the horses turned themselves around and, in what I could only describe as spider-man style, climbed up the wall and into the tunnel. 

I was, by then, in the full belief that I was having a wild dream, and didn't say anything.

The End

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