Soon after our forces took the Eunoe, it was clear that Purgatory was at our mercy. They had made no efforts to reclaim the river, knowing full well how futile their efforts would be.

A representative was quickly sent to our territory to request negotiations toward peace.

I made sure a military funeral was held for Manara, the first held in Hell for a woman. What was left of the Council gathered to watch as her casket was lowered into the ground before reluctantly dropping black roses onto its glassy surface. We all must have said a few words, but I couldn’t remember afterwards what I said. What was clear in my mind was the scent of fresh earth as her grave was covered.

A party from Hell (including the Council, the Guard, Lucifer and I) was going to meet with Purgatory on neutral ground. On Earth.

A handmaiden had been assigned to help me prepare for the journey, having drawn me a scalding bath and packing the clothes I was to take with me.

I sunk into the sweet-smelling water and the steaming foam up to my ears, letting it soothe my aching body. Eventually when my fingers started to prune up and the water became lukewarm I called for the handmaiden and she wrapped me in a towel as I stepped out.

“Your clothes, your Excellence.” She explained, pointing to where something had been laid out for me to wear.

“Thank you…” I started, waiting for her to introduce herself.

“Myrrh.” She smiled, “Would you like me to assist you?”

Myrrh redressed my wounds with a practiced hand, and I reluctantly accepted her help getting into a collared black shirt and pressed pants.

I had to admit, seeing her honey-colored hair and blue eyes had been enough for me to briefly contemplate that this was some kind of sick joke on Lucifer’s part but the thought quickly passed from my mind. I was being paranoid, and there was no time for that considering the upcoming meeting.

“Say,” I said suddenly, turning to her, “Would you happen to know if I could get my hair dyed red?”

Manara had been right.

I looked way better in red.

Myrrh had brought back a box of dubious-looking bottles and set about stripping the pink and purple from my hair in a process that was just as smelly as I remembered it.

Despite the headache threatening to emerge from the vapours surrounding me, it was surprisingly calming as noxious chemicals were brushed onto my hair.

Eventually, after a quick shampoo, I admired the results in a mirror.

Myrrh had managed to turn my nightmarish Barbie hair into a deep mahogany. 

I pulled on one of my curls, watching it spring back into its original shape.

Manara had always been right.

The End

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