The next few days were a blur of fighting, council business, and sleeping.
The routine settled in quickly. Eventually I felt like I had never known anything but the constant rage of war and too-short nights, of the stench of blood that never seemed to wash away.
Time didn’t seem to compute for me anymore. It was all a blur. Sometimes I felt as though I was trapped in some kind of nightmarish vision, unsure of when I was dreaming and when I was awake.
War quickly lost its charm. The adrenaline was still there, the overpowering sense of kill-or-be-killed, the uncontrollable urge to keep myself alive at all costs. But the excitement, the almost repulsive jubilance I’d felt at the idea of true combat, was all but gone.
It was grueling. It was scary. I didn’t even want to know how many Purgatorians had found themselves on the wrong side of my sword.
My appetite started to wane. I lost weight. Even my ridiculously-coloured hair looked flat and disillusioned to me.
I found myself wishing that it was all over. I didn’t know how everyone else managed to party their worries away and get up to face another day of hell. More and more I started to realize that I was an intruder, a human among demons. I hadn’t been hardened by a life spent in Hell. It was all still new to me, and it only became more and more difficult.
I turned around, slicing through a demon’s barely-moving neck before continuing my trudge.
I was on mercy duty. With Cupid.
It was safe to say I wasn’t feeling particularly chatty.
“You haven’t quite been yourself lately.” He commented, as he bent down to slide a dagger through a trembling soldier.
I ignored the cries of pain assailing my ears and rubbed my eyes, somewhat irritated by the drops.
“You could say that.”
“Has your enthusiasm for carnage dimmed?”
“Dimmed? More like disappeared.”
“Do you remember what I said?”
I turned to him incredulously.
“How could I forget?”
He smirked, wiping his blade.
“It still holds true.”
“You do realize you’re a hair from committing treason?” I smirked back, letting the weight of my words sink in.
“So?” he asked defiantly, lowering his voice, “Are you going to punish me?”
I rolled my eyes, trying not to notice how familiar the look on his face was.
“Not the kind of punishment you’re expecting. Probably something more along the lines of Lucifer eating your soul.”
“Maybe if I had one.”
“Why?” I asked, “Did you sign a contract without reading the fine print?”
“Not quite.” He replied, his blue eyes thoughtful, “I’m a god. I’m an idea, a vision. I may seem substantial, but I am far from what I appear to be.”
“That made lots of sense.” I sighed, “There’s no shortage of convoluted explanations in this story.”
Cupid gave me a questioning look as we finished up, but let it go.
"How is the situation with the King?"
"We haven't talked too much lately."
"Brilliant. My plan's working already."
I looked at him out of the corner of my eye.
"What are you up to?"
He looked taken aback.
"Why, I'm just trying to be helpful, Commander."
He smiled, revealing pearly white teeth, and lit a cigarette.