I sighed, rubbing at my neck. I felt fatigued again. And cranky.

"What do you want, Eversio? Please tell me you don't expect me to hold a council meeting like this."

He put down a vase of black roses on the small table beside me, smiling awkwardly.

"Actually, I just wanted to tell you that I have everything under control. You focus on resting, and I'll manage all of the council affairs."

Great. Way to make me feel like a jerk.

"Oh. Okay. Um, thanks."

"Get well soon, okay? We need a human on our side." Eversio smiled before turning to leave.

I watched him go, trying to resist the urge to punch myself. I always had the worst timing. 


"Thanks Bob." I muttered, "I'll try my best."


"It's High Commander now!" I huffed, getting no reply.

Great. It was so hard making snide remarks when your audience was invisible.

Manni came up later with a tray of food, and added a few white roses to the vase.

"You feeling okay, Zara?"

I shrugged.

"I'm alive, which is probably more than can be said for most of the people in hell. But thanks for asking."

She grimaced at the sight of my neck.

"That looks like it hurts."

"It does." I sighed, before sitting up, stock-still, "Wait- it looks like it hurts?"

Manni handed me a compact and I gawked at myself. The veins in my neck were all visible and my skin had become papery. I looked like a terminal patient.

"Great. Just what I needed."

"I think you look perfectly fine." Manni replied, before blinking, "I mean, as much as you could with that hair."

I glowered, and she laughed.

"You had us all scared, Commander. I'm glad to see you're doing well."

I plopped back into my pillow.

"Doing well? I don't know. I'm supposed to manage the military might of hell and I couldn't even protect myself from some crazy extremist."

"Don't be too hard on yourself. You've just started, and there's been a lot for you to adjust to."

I was surprised at the appearance of a thoughtful Manara. She could be nice!

"You can say that again."

"Okay. Don't be too hard on yourself-"

I cut her off.

"-not what I meant. But I appreciate it."

Manni smiled.

"No problem, Z. So, I heard of a new mall opening the other day, and I went to check it out, and theyblahblahblahblah, and blahhy blah-blah! Blah blah blah?"

I nodded, closing my eyes. This was going to be a long day. 

The End

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