SCALES-51

"I want a scouting regiment to find them. Do not engage."

A demon looked at up at me from where I sat on Omen.

"But we're stronger than Purgatory! We can crush them!"

"It's more important that we figure out what they're doing first. I want intel, not casualties."

A few more disgruntled voices piped up.

"This isn't how Hell fights a war!"

"What are we, cowards?"

"This is what happens when you answer to a woman!"

"Hey!" I roared, letting Omen stomp forward threateningly, "Say that again, to my face!"

The soldiers gathered around me went dead silent.

"If I hear another of your condescending remarks," I started, through gritted teeth, "Let me assure you - I will cut your tongue out. And feed it to my horse."

With that I twisted the reins in my hand, straightening up again.

"Send out the scouts. No argument."

I coaxed Omen into a trot, making sure to 'accidentally' knock over one of the commentators.

It was a bloody pain dealing with soldiers who didn't take you seriously unless Lucifer was beside you. Though, of course, I'd insisted he stay in the camp, away from any 'hidden threats'.

I had no idea what Charon expected me to do. I could tell already that Lucifer wouldn't take it very well if I started acting like a protective mother to him. For the most part I didn't even know where he was or what he was doing, let alone trying to keep him safe.

I sighed. Keeping the king in a reinforced camp was the best option. Or...

That could actually work.

"No."

"What? Why?"

Charon sighed.

"As clever a plan as that is, I can tell you already that His Highness would never agree. He's far too proud."

"But...he would be safe, and nobody would be the wiser!"

"He wouldn't be able to live with the idea of being a coward. War and glory and all that."

"So I just have to watch him constantly putting his life on the line instead? Can't you just...knock him out for the next month?"

"Not a chance. There's a higher chance of him agreeing to ride a unicorn into battle."

I looked at him for a second.

"Rocky?"

"Yeah."

There was the sound of rustling and Charon assumed his usual creepy expression. Improv time.

"I don't care about your stupid prophecy, okay? I have a war to fight-"

"-play nice, commander." Lucifer commented, "Charon is one of Hell's most trusted advisors."

"I wouldn't trust him with a rock." I muttered, "Not even one I could use to bash his head in."

"I'm sure he will excuse us for a moment?" Lucifer offered, watching his crony bow before scurrying off.

"I don't know how you put up with that weirdo." I admitted.

"It comes with time. I've known him since he was in diapers."

That was a disturbing image.

"What are you doing outside of your tent?" I asked, changing the subject.

The Devil sighed exasperatedly.

"You can't expect me to stay cooped up in there, all day."

"A king can never be too careful." I advised, "I was sure I'd posted guards-"

"You did. But all of Hell answers to me."

Oh brother.

We started to stroll along the dusty path that had been created by the footfalls of horse and soldier alike, surrounded by the usual hubbub of an army.

"Your Highness, I'm just trying to keep you safe."

"I don't mean to be rude, but I think I can handle that myself."

I stopped suddenly. I felt something flitting at the corner of my vision. I turned, spotting the assassin crouching on top of a large chariot.

There was no time to warn, or to attack. I saw the arrow being pulled back, and I watched a split-second later as it flew through the air. 

I did what I had to do. I threw myself in front of the King of Hell.

The End

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