Manara didn’t know how to take ‘no’ for an answer.
“I’m not going.”
“Yes you are.” She smiled, putting another strand of my hair into the straightener.
“No I’m not.”
“Yes you are.”
I sulked quietly, imagining what horrors awaited me.
Another fight ring, I could handle. The booze and drugs and high/drunk/high and drunk smorgasbord of creatures and demons, not so much.
I sat quietly, scheming.
All I had to do was stick around for the first few rounds of drinks, and then Manara would be too tipsy to notice me leave. Simple.
I smiled, pleased with my plan.
“See?” Manara cooed, “I knew you wanted to go!”
It took all of my strength to stay seated.
“Why can’t I just wear my robes?”
Manara looked horrified.
“Are you kidding me? You wear them all the time!”
“Exactly!” I replied, “Because they’re comfortable!”
“Sorry,” Manara said firmly, “You’re wearing this, no argument.”
I groaned, trying unsuccessfully to stretch.
“I can’t even breathe in this thing!”
“That’s the idea. It’s slimming.”
I looked in the mirror again, shaking my head in disbelief.
“I look like a goth stripper.”
Black minidress, smoky eyes, you get the idea.
“Better than looking like a nerd.”
“I would rather be a nerd any day.”
“That’s because you are one.” She sighed, “Now come on, let’s get outside. I think I hear them bringing out the kegs.”
I stood from the chair, wobbling on the ridiculous shoes I had on.
“These are so painful!”
“They make your legs look longer.” She shrugged, tugging me out of the tent, “Now come on. We can’t miss the first round.”
I walked out, stifling my annoyance.
Only a bit of time, and I would be free.
The darkening sky was full of stars, and I found myself enjoying the fresh air as we walked (or I stumbled). Soldiers were milling about, all anxious for the alcohol to start flowing like water.
If I didn’t know Lucifer would totally veto it, I would have liked to stop the partying for the duration of the war.
But then again, the residents of Hell were…interesting. They seemed almost more energetic spending the nights amid festivities only to get up the next morning to fight. Personally, I couldn’t stand the idea.
Music quickly started to boom in the air and the first round of goblets went around, generously filled and sloshing over with bloodwine.
I found one somehow in my hands and slowly emptied it on the grass when I was sure nobody was watching.
I didn’t intend to experience the vicious hangover the liquor produced a second time.
I caught sight of a blonde head in the middle of the crowd, and started to distance myself quickly and quietly.
Manara was occupied chatting with a woman who looked suspiciously like Eversio’s great-aunt June.
My escape was cut short when I felt myself bump into someone and, apologizing profusely, was about to continue on my way when I felt a hand grasping my wrist.
I turned, only to see Cupid.
“Yes, actually. Out of here.” I muttered under my breath.
“You look good.” He noted, eyes running over me, “Want to dance?”
“If I have to.” I sighed, letting him take my hands.
I shuffled lethargically, glancing around anxiously every few seconds.
Cupid bent his head towards me and his breath tickled my ear.
“Come on, put a little enthusiasm into it.”
I glared at him.
“My feet hurt. It’s loud. All I can smell is booze. I can’t exactly go all lovey-dovey right now.”
He sighed, reaching behind the collar of his jacket.
“I guess we go to Plan B.”
I watched with remote interest as he revealed the arrowhead that had been hanging around his neck.
“Is that some kind of artifact? I got to say, you know how to get a nerd excited.”
“It’s pretty strong.” He said sheepishly, “But it’ll make it easier to pretend.”
“Sure, use it.” I shrugged, “Maybe I’ll be marginally less bored if I'm dead.”
He took my right hand and pressed the arrowhead into my palm, and I felt it starting to burn.
“Ouch!” I hissed, as he let my hand go and hid the arrowhead back in his shirt, “What was that?”
"Now the fun begins."