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Private a slow dance to death

  • Thread starter John Henry Moore
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John Henry Moore

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January 7, Y109 | The Underworld
@Hades
"What ... the ... fuck?!"

John Henry's rage bounced off of the cavernous walls of his surroundings, the kinds of surroundings that he neither knew nor understood. There was a sort of nothingness when you died. He knew that because it wasn't the first time that he had been dead. As a matter of fact, it was the second time, only everything was different now. Maybe it could all be attributed to Michael Langdon. Michael fucking Langdon. If anybody, anybody at all, had listened to his warnings about the boy, then maybe he wouldn't have died the first time, and maybe his throat wouldn't have been brutally slit the second time. The others had had it worse. The rest of the warlocks, their limbs torn from their bodies before they had even lost consciousness.

The fucking kids. They'd had it the worst.

And now he was here, in this eerie place that wasn't what he had come to expect of death.

Dark? Check.

Gloomy? Check.

Instilled a sense of dread? Check.

But it wasn't lonely, not in the sense that he was alone and could see nothing. In the distance, he could hear wailing, he could see water, a river stretching ahead and he could see the sheerness of souls traveling the water, trying to claw their way out into the dark in hopes it might lead them to the light. Huffing out a sound of exasperation, John Henry decided he needed a fucking cigarette even in death. "Cocytus," he murmured, a dry laugh following as he dragged his gaze along the water. Even if they weren't his own beliefs, he'd always taken an interest in Greek mythology, its underworld certainly not excluded. That didn't mean he needed to believe what he was seeing. "What's next, Hades?"

He whirled around then, his blue eyes swinging toward the endless black above him and his arms outstretching to the sides as he cried out to whoever would listen. He hoped Michael Langdon could hear him up there. "You think this is my definition of a personal hell?! You'll have to do better than that, asshole!"
 
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Hades

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While exploring Pandora, Hades found a pleasant little dimension of the Otherworld where the dead went to wander. It was dark and depressing there, with souls running amok. It was empty as well, void of any presence except the dead. The souls would often get lost or fight with each other. It was anarchy.

The people of this land of the dead needed some guidance. Someone to step in and remind them of where they were, and why they were there. Hades had a pleasant vacation away from ruling the dead for a couple of months, but he knew it was about time to get back to work. He was always drawn to the dead like it was an instinctual habit. Believe it or not, sometimes the God actually enjoyed his work back home in the Underworld.

So he adopted the dimension as his own, and the ghostly spirits went from scattered and lost to neatly round up in a river that ran through the ground. He restored order to their afterlife.

Every so often a stray spirit, usually a new arrival, would wander too far from the river. Hades had seen with his own eyes that those spirits would disappear, gone not only in Pandora’s Box but in their eternal afterlife as well. So, Hades would fly over to the wandering spirit and pick them up, and place them back in the river to join the flow of souls.

This dimension was wonderfully quiet. Everything was still. There was no breeze. The only sound you heard was if you got close to the river, you could hear the moaning of the dead and the gentle trickling stream. This realm of the dead literally had no sky, if you looked up you would see endless black, like space with no stars. There was just a seemingly endless terrain of dirt that gently sloped here and there, except for a lone mountain that towered over one side of the river in a spot.

The only light that illuminated the world was the river. It glowed green. Hades suspected that the spirits who disappeared from this world strayed too far from the river’s light, and that’s why they would be gone forever. The blackness overtook them.

Hades rolled in one day, taking an overview of his land. A part of him was irritated at himself for doing this. There was no Zeus in Pandora as far as he knew (but if there was a Zeus, he was sure he would’ve heard about it by now), and yet he was still here doing this job purely because he felt the personal desire to. Was this what he had sunk to?

The souls were doing their usual complaining and moaning. There was only a few stragglers today that made their way out of the water. Hades flew down to them and herded them back towards the river. ”Get in there,” he growled at one, who gave him a look before jumping in.

Hades flew up the side of the mountain and sat down at the throne he had built himself. It was complete with torches at the top and large, cozy arm rests. He sighed and relaxed into his chair, watching the dead float by.

A few moments later he sat up with narrowed eyes and flames beginning to lick on his shoulders. He watched a new arrival start to bitch and moan beside the river, throwing his arms up in the air and shouting Hades’ name. It was a man who obviously hadn’t accepted his fate yet.

Hades sighed and floated down from his throne towards the man, angry he had to disrupt Hades’ relaxation. ”Are you done screaming yet?” he growled at the man as he lowered to the ground, waving his hands at him. ”I hate to break it to you pal, but you’re dead! And there’s nothing you can do about it. Now get in that river like the rest of them.” He pointed to the glowing river with a clawed finger, while the flames danced on the top of his head.

 
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John Henry Moore

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The sound of a voice pierced his thoughts, but it was one neither pleasant to his ears nor familiar to his ears. Not that he had actually wanted to see Michael Langdon's face in that moment or hear his voice. It was the opposite of that. He was pissed and he was dead, but ... but maybe he was still scared. Because this jackass, this kid - no, this demon - could reach into hell and pluck people right back out of it. Or maybe he could do much worse than that.

Whatever the case, it wasn't Michael Langdon he came face to face with. It was a face unfamiliar, but John Henry wasn't an idiot and he could put two and two together. Although the fact that he was apparently staring Hades himself in the face didn't make him feel like an intelligent man. He felt like he was staring at a goddamn caricature, not because he carried himself like a goddamn cartoon character but because he was refusing to believe that this entire place and its king, or whatever the hell the blue guy with the flaming hair in front of him was, were really real. Couldn't come up with a better personal hell for him? Really?

No respect in the world.

Following the gesturing clawed finger toward the glowing river in question, John Henry couldn't help the dry smirk that tugged at the corners of his lips before he dragged his gaze back to the blue guy and his blue hair. "Is this a joke? You're like a fucking cartoon character," he decided, gesturing vaguely toward him. Was he supposed to be menacing? Really, Hades came across more casually perturbed by all of this than anything to be intimidated by. Then again, didn't that follow the same lines of what his fellow council members had seen in Michael Langdon? Not that he saw innocence in Hades by any means because John Henry Moore didn't see innocence in anybody in the same way he didn't place his trust in anybody.

"I need a light," he suddenly said, reaching into his pocket and by the very nature of the ghosts where he came from, John Henry was able to latch onto a cigarette and pull it out. This wasn't his first time six feet under, so to speak. Grasping the cigarette between his fingers to way he had a thousand times, he gestured vaguely toward Hades and his flaming head. "Make that head of yours useful."
 
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Hades

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The man spat an egregious insult at Hades, which made the God practically roar in anger, flames spreading down his back and onto the ground. ”Cartoon character?!” he repeated, growling at the sad little man, fists clenched, ready to grab his sorry throat and hurl it into the river.

Then the man said he needed something and started shuffling around in his pocket. Hades stared at him, the flames not shrinking quite yet, seething in anger at the pompousness of him. His eyes narrowed as the human pulled out a cigarette and gestured towards Hades’ fiery appendages, supposedly so he could light it.

This was comical! But who was he to deny a dead man a smoke? The flames finally receded from Hades’ back until they were just tall, fiery hair once more. With a frown, Hades stuck out a thumb and lit it on fire, raising it to the man’s cigarette end. ”How about this instead?” he said.

Now that the man had his fill of nicotine maybe he’d be less contentious. Hades looked down at him with disdain and said in a shockingly calm tone, ”Now, do you realize where you are? I hate to break it to you but this isn’t a park. You’re dead and stuck with me for an eternity, so I suggest you act a little more pleasant.” His eyes shined with annoyance.

 
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John Henry Moore

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Oh, he was pissed. He sure had just pissed Hades off. John Henry found himself just staring at him even as the flames spread from his head down his back, as though nothing could shake him anymore. If he were taking Hades even remotely seriously, then maybe he would have been a little bit more careful with his words and with his behavior, but then ... what else was there to lose? Everything that mattered was gone anyway and if things continued going in the direction that they were going in, if Cordelia's vision came to light, then Michael Langdon would be the downfall of the world. And then everything that mattered to the living would be gone, too.

Really. What else was there to lose?

Oh. The ability to smoke. There was that to lose in death. Not necessarily the ability to smoke because he lifted the newly little cigarette to his lips and he sucked in a breath, a puff of smoke bursting from his lips as he breathed out again. But he couldn't feel it. It was all, what? Aesthetic? That alone was a better personal hell than this place was. "I was just murdered," he pointed out a bit more coolly than a moment ago, as though he were somehow discussing the weather. He hadn't discussed the weather in a long time and he had a feeling he wasn't ever going to again. He'd been brought back from the death once before, so what were the chances it would happen again. "Trust me, I remember having my own throat slit. What about that says to you ... pleasantries? Really, I'm curious, please enlighten me," he added, brows perking up with expectation as he gestured his cigarette vaguely in blue Hades' direction.
 
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Hades

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At least by now the man seemingly lost his desire to argue. He looked to have almost relaxed, casually watching Hades while he smoked and told him he was murdered. Oh, how lovely. Those were always the most miserable souls, no wonder the man acted the way he did.

”Oh come on, you’re just dead after all,” Hades responded to his question, rolling his eyes. How dramatic. ”At least you’re here, where you can have the chance to even exist in the universe. Now you may be doomed to forever float through that river with the other souls, but it’s not all that bad, I promise.”

 
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John Henry Moore

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A thin smile found its way to the corners of his lips as he took another useless drag and puffed it back out again. "Has anybody ever told you that you have a terrible bedside manner?"
 
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Hades

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John spat yet another insult at Hades which made the God’s flame flare back up again, dancing on his shoulders as he grit pointy teeth in a snarl at the man. He tried to be nice to him and it didn’t work out, so he’d have to resort to another tactic. ”No,” he growled. As he continued to speak, the flames flooded down his back and around him.”Now if you’re done acting like a fool, I suggest you go over there—“ Hades pointed to the river, ”—and get into the river LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE!” He was roaring at that point, flames quaking and shivering all around him as he shot dagger eyes at John, clawed hands raised in the air.

 
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John Henry Moore

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That smile, thin as it already was, vanished and John Henry clenched his jaw tight, edging backward a step as Hades burst into a flaming rage again. Literally. He felt ridiculous, not because of the things he was saying to the other but because of the fact that there was a nervous edge coming on as he listened to him shout, listened to him demand he get into that river. Slowly, his blue eyes turned to look, watching the souls that tried to drag themselves out, watching the way the reached uselessly into the air only to sink back in. He could still hearing the sound of the eerie wails bouncing off of the walls. It was almost unbearably loud and he had to wonder whether or not the real hell that the world had created for him was in that very river.

Dragging his gaze back to Hades, John Henry's knack for dry sarcasm and all around defiance seemed to have faded away, although his mind was clearly still whirring with possibility. "First ... why don't we talk? You and me, man to man." Man to ... Greek god.

Whatever.

"If you're who you haven't said but I can easily assume you are," he started, gesturing vaguely as he scrunched up his nose because ... well, Hades wasn't exactly subtle. "... then you are the ... all-powerful ruler of this place. You can do whatever you want and you have the power to do whatever you want. Now, you may have I noticed that I'm not big on rules. Well ... at least not when they apply to me. I'm sure you can relate." At that point, John Henry was conversational. A little cheeky, but otherwise trying to slyly make his point here. "You don't like me. I don't really like you, no offense. For our collective ... sanity, let's say ... I might be better off ..." The warlock's words trailed off, but as he arched a brow and pointed a finger skyward, he was meaning was clear as day even in its wordlessness.​
 
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Hades

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Hades’ anger apparently shocked the man back into a conversational mood, because he lost the attitude again. However at that point, Hades felt beyond the point of having a conversation. This man had thoroughly pissed him off. Hades would like nothing more than to just hurl his body into the river.

But John kept talking, and Hades listened. He was a reasonable God, after all! He would listen to a babbling human because conversations were what made the world go ‘round. At that point the fire that surrounded Hades receded once more, staying just on his head and slightly down the back of his neck.

The way John started talking, the God let out a snort. ”Hades. Lord of the Dead,” he told him, hoping they were on the same page. A man of culture! Wherever he was from, John must’ve been an admirer of Greek gods.

The God raised a hand to his chin, stroking the sides of it with his finger as he listened. When at last John was done, Hades finished his sentence, raising one brow. ”Alive?”

He had to give it to him, John knew how to reason. Hades could get this irritating little vermin out of his hair, and John could go live a happy, little, carefree life. It was a wonderful idea, but Hades was going to need a bit more convincing. ”It doesn’t work like that pal. I can’t just hand you a get out of jail free card.” Hades lifted one hand. ”But I’m a reasonable guy and open to negotiation. What do you have to offer me in exchange? Social status? Special powers?”

 
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Nodding along to the clarification of who he was, John Henry looked eager to move on with the conversation. He had put two and two together easily enough, the dreariness of his surroundings, the glowing river with souls crying out from it. All that was missing was Cerberus and as that thought had only occurred to him in that very moment, the warlock looked mildly distracted for a moment, blue eyes drifting away from him toward their surroundings almost searchingly. There was a caution there, as though the way he had laughed this Underworld off was very slowly slipping away.

Dragging his gaze back to Hades, though, the god was stroking his chin. He was considering his words, which meant that there was hope there, that maybe, just maybe, this was actually gonna work. It very nearly did, but typically, he wanted something in exchange and John Henry felt his jaw tighten a bit.

"You're a god, what kind of magic could you possibly need?" he drawled. Like hell was he giving up his only defense against the storm that was coming up there. The storm that had already come.​
 
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Hades

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The man was distracted for a fleeting second and glanced around wildly. Hades almost broke his gaze from John to look around himself, but just as fast as John’s concern came on, it disappeared.

”I don’t want your magic!” Hades boomed, nearly letting out a laugh. Although secretly, having John’s magic to put in his immortality potion would be nice. But he knew the man wouldn’t budge on it. Hades continued, ”I don’t do the exchange of material goods, do you get me?” He raised a hand where his fingers were touching together, facing up. ”I’m only interested in services. You know, favors.”

Hades eyed John with a curious look, and slowly extended a hand to place on John’s shoulder. ”Alright, listen. Offer of a lifetime here.” With his free hand Hades snapped his fingers, and a big parchment paper appeared in the air next to them with the word CONTRACT scribbled out in cursive at the top. A quill dipped in ink floated beside John, waiting to be picked up by him.

”How about this. I give you your life back, and you can go run and play in the sun with all your human friends, and in return I will require your help one day. Not today, but in the future. Consider it that you’re in debt.” His eyes flicked between John and the contract, hoping he would sign it.

 
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John Henry barely flinched as Hades' voice boomed over him, the warlock's eyes narrowing a small fraction.

Well. He didn't want magic. That made things easier. If Hades had demanded his magic, if it were the only option he had, then John Henry had to wonder whether or not he would take that chance. He'd worked his entire fucking life to where he was, a level 3 warlock. Powerful. Not powerful enough to deal with the white-faced demon, but powerful enough that he had the potential to do something to make a difference. He needed that magic.

And so, when Hades offered an alternative, a part of him was relieved. But then, were favors much better? Pressing his lips to a fine line as he listened, his eyes scanned the contract that appeared in front of him, vaguely aware of the pen to his side, waiting eagerly to sign what could have been the man's freedom away. He didn't make deals with devils, but what other options did he have here? "Just once?" he asked, blue eyes flicking past the contract toward Hades and then back again. Did it matter how many times? The fact was, contract or none, Hades was the one with the power. John Henry was powerful and he had pride, but he wasn't an idiot either. If this was all real, which he still wasn't entirely sure about because it was fucking stupid, when he knew he couldn't match the power of a god.

What the fuck.

"And I can guess what would happen if I decided to refuse your favor."
 
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Hades

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John asked if the ‘favor’ Hades asked of him would be a one-time thing. Hades couldn’t help but grin a big, toothy, pointy smile at him. He just had to get down to the nitty-gritty details, didn’t he? The God nodded, inching the feather pen closer to his hand. He had to sign it, and John would be all his until Hades found a use out of him.

”You’d wind up back here with me forever,” Hades told him, gesturing to the expanse of the small dimension they were in. ”Just sign the contract! I don’t have all day. The clock’s a’ ticking!” Hades conjured a clock in front of them, just beside the contract. There was no hour and minute hands, only a hand for seconds, which turned around the clock, looming closer and closer to the big 12 at the top.

 
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