-Hell to pay
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here- Dante’s Divine Comedy
Drake looked around to find himself in a vast void of nothingness. As he walked forward into the darkness, his footsteps displaced the water beneath him. The void remained silent save for occasional water dripping onto the ground.
The air around grew heavy as gravity seemed to pull his body down. An ominous presence filled the air. Time itself stopped, reality warped, followed by a loud gust of wind. Then, a dark tornado emerged from the water, revealing a sinister figure. It towered several meters high above Drake, shrouded in a ripped velvet cloak, pointing a bony figure at him as water fell from its hand.
“Drake, your fate is decided. Everlasting damnation for your sins.”
“Come, soon you’ll be joined by those whose lives you have ruined. Whose souls you have damned,” Death said as he pulled the hood back over his bony and lifeless head.
Drake clenched his fists. “I will redeem myself.”
“FOOL! YOU ARE MINE!”
Death unsheathed the huge scythe from his back. Drake’s reflection glared off the clear blade. Its pole resembled a spine coated in silver, decorated with a golden human skull situated where the blade connected to the pole.
His words poured through Drake’s hands like sand. Drake chuckled before taking a knee. He reached for the scarab and crushed it, transforming it into a scythe of his own. Named after the very river flowing beneath them.
“This world exists between the living and the dead. Nothingness, devoid as the black pit that fills your lifeless eyes. God will decide the victor…”
Death teleported at supersonic speed, attempting to split Drake in half with a powerful overhead swing. Drake parried it away as the scythes made a resonating metallic clang as they clashed. Death reset himself for another heavy attack that smashed into the water, drenching Drake from the head down.
Drake stepped forward and pointed the scythe at Death. The being’s reflection did not show off his blade. As he raised the blade, the steel made a loud clicking sound. The blade shot forward, extending double its normal length. Death dashed out the way as the blade grazed him and ripped his cloak. He retaliated with a series of light swings that Drake easily parried away. The vicious blades of Death’s scythe sliced through the air.
“NO ONE CAN CHEAT DEATH!”
Drake bellowed as he jumped forward with a massive attack of his scythe, putting all his power behind the blow. Death raised his scythe to block the strike. The impact sent a resonating vibration even through his hollow bones. Drake continued his merciless barrage of heavy swings and slashes as Death lost his ground. Their scythes connected, creating huge sparks from every strike. The entire abyss boomed with the sound of vibrating steel.
“HOW DARE YOU RESIST ME MORTAL!”
Death teleported away to create distance and collect himself. As Drake charged, he hurled his scythe at him like a boomerang, only to have it deflected back at him. The scythe zoomed through the air as it circled back for another strike. It cut into the water, smashing into Drake with the strength of a typhoon. Death appeared behind the scythe in an instant and pressed his attack, pushing Drake back. Drake released a fearsome roar, using all his strength to keep the scythe from ripping through him.
The razor sharp tip of Death’s scythe sliced into his forehead. He used the momentum to redirect the scythe away from his body and into the water. Death growled, having been cheated from his rightful victory once more. Drake impaled his bony core and lifted him into the air before slamming his body into the still lake. The grim reaper lay there, defeated, as he attempted to pull the scythe lodged in his gut. Drake removed the blade and sliced off his hands, watching them dissolve into dust as they flew in the air.
“I swear I’ll drag you down to hell if it’s the last thing I do!” Death gritted.
He answered with a barbaric strike that dissected death from the shoulder to his waist. The skeleton’s body dissipated into black dust as it was erased from the world. Death’s velvet cloak fell into the water before being sucked into it, his scythe following shortly after. The darkness that surrounded the void disappeared.
Drake plunged towards a dark abyss where a molten river flowed. The terrified shrills of damned souls accompanied him as they fell to the depths of hell like small meteors. He looked to see nothing but jagged mountains in every direction. Every mountain formed concentric rings as far as the eye could see. Dark skies hovered above, supercharged with brilliant lightning. The driving wind deafened his ears as the river of woe, Acheron grew closer.
If he didn’t act now, he would join the damned souls in eternal damnation. He extended the scythe and grappled a statue embedded into the cliff face. The scythe propelled him towards it where more golden statues ascended the cliff. One resembled the Roman general Marc Antony, clad in broken armor and a sword and shield in hand.
Across from him was another statue in the likeness of his mistress, Cleopatra. An arc of purple lightning stretched across the statues as a powerful singularity formed above, taking the place of the clouds. The singularity continued to rain lightning and meteors that pounded into the cliffs. Drake grappled the statues, using them to swing across the wide gaps and scale the cliff.
He passed more statues, conducting lightning through their metallic bodies. The other statues resembled lustful women, most of them nude and indecent. The torment on their faces was clear, and they reached towards the sky for salvation that would never be delivered. Drake narrowly dodged another overlapping arc of lightning between the statues. His ascension seemed like an eternity, but he soon became closer to God’s grace than he was to Satan’s flames.
Drake’s escape from hell became known to all the demons that lived in its fiery abyss. And death himself praised Drake in silence. After all, he had literally climbed out of hell itself, escaping the precipice of condemnation. For now...
“Finally dead yet?” a voice said with an exaggerated jubilation.
He knew that voice. Dread tied his stomach into knots. “Irene...”
An intense light blinded him for a moment. He squinted and as his eyes adjusted to the light, and there she stood. Irene Irons. Drake made a face upon the sight of her nude body.
She chuckled lightly, and her violet eyes shimmered. “What’s with that face? Cat got your tongue?”
“Where am I?”
Irene dug her claws into his shoulders and pressed her lips against his neck. He could feel the warmth of her breath perspire on his skin. She slid her hands down his neck, wrapping her arms around his waist.
“You’re in purgatory silly.” Irene took a quick whiff of him and narrowed her eyes. “But you smell like you’re still alive…”
Drake sighed. “Irene…” his voice was stiff. “You and I are both beings that exist outside the rules…”