SCALES-8

I went up to the door first and pulled at the antique handle, realizing to my dismay that it was jammed.

For the next five minutes I proceeded to attack the handle, yanking at it with all I had and throwing my body weight around.

When I pulled away, panting, Eversio spoke.

"Finished?" he asked flatly, waiting for me to step aside before he calmly reached over and, with a twist of his wrist, sent the door sprawling open.

That was so unfair.

"You have to have royal blood to open it." he explained, "And half a brain helps too." 

"Clearly you're underqualified." I muttered under my breath, following behind him as he walked through.

To my surprise we ended up on the bank of a huge river, one that seemed to have an infinite depth and in the dim light looked like shadows swimming on the ground. 

"What is this place?" I asked, feeling somewhat cold.

THE RIVER STYX. Bob supplied, A PLACE OF MYSTERY AND SPIRITS...CALL 1800-666-HELL TO BOOK A TOUR TODAY!

"Did Bob just spam me?" I asked incredulously, rolling my eyes.

WE CAN'T ALL MAKE DO WITH ONE JOB, RECRUIT. NO ADS COSTS EXTRA.

"You're not getting a raise, Bob." Eversio replied easily, "We've been over this."

CAN'T HURT TO TRY. 

"Can't you start a union or something?" I asked, getting a real stare and an invisible stare from Bob. 

"Hell doesn't do unions." Eversio said, appalled, "Marital or otherwise."

I SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO MY MOTHER AND GONE ABROAD TO WORK...

"Bob, if you don't keep your tongue in check you will be." Eversio muttered, quickly silencing the being.

"So, um," I started after a few seconds, "What are we supposed to do now?"

"We have to wait for the ferryman to take us across. Don't let any of the river touch you."

"Why?" I asked, curious, "Is there something in the water?"

Both Eversio and Bob laughed. 

"What's so funny?"

THAT ISN'T WATER. THOSE ARE SOULS. NAMELESS SOULS CONDEMNED TO NOTHINGNESS. THEY'VE BEEN KNOWN TO SERVE AS A FATAL POISON.

"That's...that's pretty weird." I offered, shrinking away from the blackness.

Just then there was the solemn clanking of a bell and I looked up to see a long rowboat being paddled towards us by a solitary oarsman, his face covered by a black hood.

Soon enough the boat gently hit the shore, and Eversio stepped on with little more than a swift movement.

I, however, caused the boat to rock madly from side to side after clambering onto it with the grace of an elephant in suspenders.

Not pretty.

"Take us to the palace, Charon." Eversio commanded offhandedly, causing the oarsman to glance up briefly.

I caught a glimpse of his face and was both fascinated and repulsed. 

He looked as young as Eversio, but his eyes were completely white save for his pupils, and a pale scar ran the length of his face across his mouth like a doll's drawn-on smile.

The boat was pushed off the shore and we began to make slow progress across the huge river, Charon as silent as he was sombre.

I stood, watching the waters being parted on each side of the boat. They seemed to whisper at me, watching me as I watched them.

And no, I wasn't going crazy.

We had been maybe halfway across when I was promptly swept off my feet from a blow, seeing only the end of the oar as I toppled backwards into the Styx.

The End

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