Part One: The Prisoner
Chapter One: Meal Time
Stori looked to the large iron doors beyond the heavily guarded gates and swallowed. Those foreboding doors of Abbadon Prison were sealed shut with the intent of keeping monsters in, creatures so vile they made your skin crawl from just one glance. But it wasn't because they were actually hideous, in fact those monsters were beautiful beyond comparison. Demons who had the striking appearance of the most attractive humans one could ever dream of, but their mannerisms were like rabid animals. Despite giving off the illusion of grace and a somewhat balanced society, demons committed heinous crimes like the one that took away Stori's brother nine months ago.
Most demons treated humans like nothing more than toys to use as they pleased even though there was a supposed treaty between them and humans. That treaty was written up only eighteen years ago, two years before Stori was born and therefore was rarely enforced properly. It was hard for demons and even humans to resign from their old ways.
Demons tended to lure humans in with promises of wealth, power and pleasure but would instead offer torture in unimaginable ways. Those vile acts were only one the reasons Stori always wished to be a huntress, even if she had a very intense fear of them. When demons went against the treaty and attacked humans, they were tracked down by human hunters and huntresses to be thrown into the strongest demon prison where they were under the mercy of those they deemed beneath them. In return, if humans went against demons, they would suffer a similar fate.
With wanting to be a hunter, one needs more experience with demons themselves in order to be accepted into Artemis Academy. The academy was built two hundred years ago and was originally created by the Shar family to train humans how to protect themselves against their strong oppressors. Demons used to be in charge of the ways of the world but that slowly began to change. The new treaty was the result of hundreds of years of bloodshed from not only the uprising humans, but demons as well. With the signing of the treaty, The Academy was now used to train those who could bring in criminal demons instead of slaughtering them on the spot.
Stori stayed at the foot of the iron gate, clenching the bars with shaking fists and quivering breaths. She kept her gaze on the doors with the feeling of dread slowly building in the pit of her stomach. Abbadon Prison was only built around ten years ago, also by the esteemed Shar family, but quickly it became the strongest prison in the world and the only place where demons could be safely held captive. Working there would be a good opportunity to gain experience, but also a true test for Stori to see if she could be around the dangerous beings without dying of a heart attack. It was a simple thing to start with but working as a cook in the demon prison would certainly look good on her application for Artemis Academy. She was a great cook and enjoyed the hobby more than anything.
Being shy by just a couple weeks of turning sixteen, Stori's tender age was originally a barrier between her and working at Abbadon Prison but her family name and reasoning was enough to convince them. She never finished her regular schooling since she felt it was unnecessary considering she always wanted to be a huntress and that involved a different kind of education. In two more years, she would be eighteen and old enough to join the academy.
She was so close.
Sucking in a deep breath, Stori approached the gate guards and informed them of her new position. Both of the intimidating men looked her up and down with judging eyes and after one gave a slight sigh they both moved to the side, radioing for some unknown person to open the gates.
"You're gonna get eaten alive in there missy," one guard warned with an ominous tone, "I'd go home now if I were you."
Stori looked back to the taxi that dropped her off as it headed back down the road she came from. Her last chance to turn back was now gone as the Prison was located deep in Dartwood Forest. It stood far from any civilization and it was hard enough getting a taxi to come out here to drop her off, let alone calling one back for a pick up.
Hiking her backup more securely upon her shoulders, she looked to the guards and thanked them, "I appreciate the advice but I'm determined to make this work."
With a smirk he nodded his head, "Good luck then."
The sound of a loud siren blared into the chilly morning air and lights flashed upon the gate with warning of movement. A sound of grinding echoed into Stori's ears, probably seeming louder to her than they actually were and soon the gates began to open, allowing the young girl entry into hell.
"And this is your room. We don't like people coming and going for security purposes so I'm glad you are comfortable with staying in our dorms. Not that you had much of a choice," The assistant manager from the kitchen said as he brought her the last stop of the tour. The kind man had been showing Stori around her 'new home' for the past couple hours after helping her get registered at the front and it had taken everything in her to not start freaking out already. Externally anyways, internally was a different story. Inside, the freak out began the moment she left the safety of her taxi.
When applying for the job, Stori knew she would be staying in a dorm while working at the high security prison but when she was finally placing her bag down on the rickety bed, the reality of it hit her like a ton of bricks. She was located in a side building just off of the main prison hold, no more than fifty meters away from deadly demons locked behind bars and she would have to try and sleep with that in mind every night. It would constantly reside in her thoughts that her life would always be at risk here and that she willfully chose it.
"Thank you," She squeaked as she sits down on the bed, flinching at the way it squealed beneath her weight. In such a high end establishment, one would think they could afford their staff at least a decent bed.
The manager smiled at Stori warmly, his brilliant smile a hint of warmth in her cold and dingy new home. "I hope you like it here, Stori." He was an odd sort but had some handsome features with broad shoulders and a slim, tall figure. His eyes had a gentle sparkle that made Stori feel comfortable and slightly smitten with the auburn haired man. His chocolate brown eyes were soft and genuinely pleased to welcome her which was unexpected to say the least. Stori heard about the ruthless and hard personalities of those that worked at Abbadon. It was said that the humans who run the Prison could be as cold hearted as the demons they guard, but this man was breaking that stereotype with every breath he took.
"I hope so too," Stori responded with a weak smile, "thank you again, Mr. Kelter."
"You can call me Aklin, Stori. Don't worry about formalities here. It's a prison after all." He chuckled as he took his leave.
Like she needed the reminder.
It wasn't long after she settled herself in that stori quickly had to run to work. There was no day of grace given when one begins to work amongst the company of evil. Her job began right away and already she was going to be late. As she ran to the kitchen, Stori fiddled with the safety tracker implanted just on the surface of her inner wrist, a necessary precaution for her new job. All the demons in the prison were heavily guarded and any powers they possessed were neutralized by the small implants embedded deep in the back of their necks, but the wrist accessory for the employees was an extra security measure. A precaution Stori was thankful for despite the sting when it was forced into her skin upon her arrival. However the tracker also held one's basic information in case someone was found dead. An easy way to identify the body if it was mutilated beyond recognition.
A unpleasant thought to say the least.
Lastly, the tracker acted as her key to enter the areas she had access to, like the kitchens she found herself finally in front of.
"Just in time Stori," Aklin ushered her over to her station the moment she burst through the doors and helped her get started with the lunch menu after she got cleaned up.
Demons survived and enjoy food just as humans do but the main ingredient to actually sustain a demon is human blood. The food, no matter what kind - be it a still bleeding rare steak or the juiciest of fruits - always needed to have some human blood mixed in. The consumption of the thick red liquid was one of the reasons demons were given the degrading nickname of vampires.
Stori had never cooked with blood before and her stomach was already protesting against the idea as Aklin pulled out the large container from the fridge.
"Alright you demon fodder! Make it quick as the savages will be down any minute now!" The kitchen manager - Aklin's boss - forced his way into the large room like a thunderous storm and everyone immediately went stiff as board. Stori followed suit as she regarded the beast of a man. He was a large, well built and loud terrifying specimen. His head was balding but his face seemed to have found the excess hair as he sported a long black beard peppered with grey that he tucked into a hair net. His face was covered in a black substance as was his oversized arms and large hands which he wiped off on the apron he now adorned.
This man clearly didn't like anyone as he roared orders rudely to all the cooks, "I don't know why these damn creatures get such good meals when they deserve shit. Slop is the best I'd ever give the fuckers but sadly I'm not in charge here!" He bellowed ferociously and it made Stori jump a little and quickly turn to look any other direction she could. Sadly, her slight movement seemed to be enough to draw the predators attention toward the meekly prey that Stori soon realized was her. "What's this tiny thing?" She heard his voice growl loud and clear as he approached her and slowly she force herself to turn to him once more to greet him with quivering eyes.
"This is Stori, your new cook sir." Aklin explained for her as he placed a comforting hand on her shoulder and gave it a light squeeze.
The manager snorted, "Ah yes, another thing I didn't have a say in. You sure are a small shit. Haven't you noticed you are a little over your head tiny mouse?" He glared down at Stori, his harsh emerald eyes reflecting his words as he was clearly not happy to have her in his kitchen at all. She bit her lip in a nervous response, almost piercing the skin and making it bleed.
Being in over her head was indeed something she had begun to notice as everywhere she looked, all the men and woman that worked in the prison - who weren't her assistant manager, Aklin - did in fact perfectly reflect the stories she heard. Whether it was the janitors, the cooks, or especially the guards, everyone was strong, hard and clearly wouldn't be easy to take down in a fight. Not that she planned on fighting them.
The employees were probably handpicked for those features because one wouldn't want someone weak working around demons, and Stori was determined to prove that she wasn't a weakling like everyone already thought she was. It hadn't even been one day and already she was being looked down upon.
"I think I'll catch up sooner than you believe sir. Let me prove it to you," Stori voiced as much courage as she could and hoped it is convincing to those around her. She wasn't convincing herself though so how would she make them see otherwise?
The manager snorted in response and walked away mumbling something along the lines of 'you are going to be ripped to shreds,' and continued with his rounds of demands.
Aklin gently nudged her, "Well done, Stori. But you need to be careful. Manager Joe is not someone you want to mess with."
His words were foreboding but she nodded in understanding and quickly got to work with Aklin showing her the ropes. Just as the food was finished, a loud buzzer was heard from out in the mess hall beyond the barred up kitchen and a large door slid open, allowing prisoners to flock in. Stori sucked in a deep breath and watched as truly mesmerizing creatures flood the room. Their attractiveness was not something one could easily describe or simply turn away from. No human she had ever seen could even come close to touching their beauty and it actually pissed her off instead of making her drop to her knees, which is what she had heard woman claim happened to them.
As Stori turned from the demons with much strain, she looked to her assistant manager and smiled as he watched her with evident concern. Even though Aklin had an obvious human aura - much different from those on the other side of the bars - he still had an ethereal persona about him and it made her awfully curious about what kind of man Aklin Kelter really was. Was he actually cold like those that work with him and was simply holding up a facade for her? Or was he as sweet as he seemed? Stori realized though, that if he truly was a hard ass like the rest of the humans here, he wouldn't bother playing pretend with her. There would be no point. So with soft handsome features and a kind personality, Aklin was a complete contrast to those that surrounded him.
When manger Joe shouted out for Stori's attention without actually using her name, she snapped at the ready with a quivering stance, "Yes sir?"
The large man walked over to her with a covered tray and placed it roughly in her grasp. "You want to prove to me that you are more than you appear? Then go take this to Prisoner Nine Ninety Five."
The cluelessness couldn't be more obvious on her face and the manager frowned with displeasure. "Prisoner Nine Ninety Five is on lockdown right now. A time out if you will, for bad behavior. He still needs his damn meal though so you are going to take it to his cell. Got it?" His voice is stern and left no room for disobedience, leaving Stori with no choice but to accept the tray with quivering a hands.
"Uh-" Stori fumbled over her words but Aklin was quick to walk over to her defense.
"Sir, Prisoner Nine Ninety Five is extremely dangerous. It's not right to send, Stori there by herself on her first day. Let me go with her at least."
"No!" Joe barked in retort, "This little thing wants to prove what she can do? Then she can take this meal and give it to the freak on her own!"
Before Aklin could try and argue more in Stori's defense, she agreed to her managers orders, "I'll deliver it sir and I'll make sure he eats it all while I'm at it." She smiled brightly with an inner determination to really show she had what it takes to be here.
Joes crossed his heavily tattooed arms across his bulking chest and grinned at the little one looking up at him. "Very well. But make sure you bring that tray back with you. We only have a few left."
An eager smile continued to play on Stori's lips and nodded with enthusiasm. Not only did she need to show she could work at Abbadon, she needed to prove that she had what it takes to be a huntress and keep the world safe from the vile demons that plague the world. But first she needed to feed one...
The hall was eerily quiet as Stori followed the directions given to her and made her way to Prisoner Nine Ninety Five's separate cell room. She wasn't sure why he was secluded on his own away from the rest of the prisoner but she didn't really want to find out.
A guard opened up the large door to the criminal's room the moment she showed him the food tray and he let her step in, albeit she entered a little hesitantly. Once she was in the dark room, the guard closed the monstrously thick door behind her. Keeping the doors closed and ultimately trapping an employee in a prisoner's room was just another precaution to keep down any chance for an escape attempt, even at the cost of an employees life. Each prison room was sound proof since demons could make an awful racket when they wanted, so there was no chance a guard could hear if a staff member was being mauled. However, one employee was of little concern to the higher ups when keeping prisoners locked in was first priority.
Once Stori was beyond the thick doors, she stepped into a dark room that was three quarters barred in, leaving a little area for staff to walk in and still be decently safe out of a prisoner's physical reach. The space was dimly lit as three bulbs flickered on the ceiling and at first it almost seemed like no one is in the room until a smooth voice spoke out to her like a sinful lullaby, "What do we have here? I've never seen you before, my love."
From the corner of the room, behind the bars that reached from the ceiling to the floor, emerged a shadow which soon evolved into a man that could only have been sculpted by a hundred artists if not by the gods themselves. His silver hair sat just above his shoulders and it seemed to glow in the dimness of the room. The piercing blue eyes that were most definitely glowing stared at her with feverish regard and almost seemed possessive as they scanned Stori from head to toe, making her feel like ice had frozen her in place. The Prisoner's lips were plump and tempting as a tongue gently slid across them.
Even with dark shadows crawling about the room, from where she stood Stori could see the man had no shirt to speak of which clearly showcased the lightning patterned tattoos riddling his chiseled body. She was sure muscular arms and well defined abs were not the only strong things about his body but Stori had a sickening urge to retreat from the gorgeous man instead of exploring further with her eyes.
"What have you brought me?" He purred with curiosity, more so of Stori than the food in her hands as his eyes refused to leave hers.
Finally she managed to swallow the build up of saliva that pooled in her mouth and teared her gaze away from him. Stori looked to his bare feet instead and held the tray out before her with the offering of food placed on it. "Lunch," Stori stated matter of factly, "I was told to bring it to you."
The Prionser's voice was laced with amusement as he watched Stori's shaky form, "Were you now? What if I want to eat something else?" He teased and she didn't have to look at him to know his eyes were traveling along her body.
"Not on the menu," She spat with a surprising amount of authority. She couldn't believe what she heard. How could he? Stori was way too young for the demon to be looking at her the way he was... but then again, he was a demon and they weren't above that sort of thing.
The demon suddenly laughed and it felt like her heart stopped for a few beats before erratically starting again. Only this time, when her heart began once more, it felt like it was beating faster than before, more anxious.
"Bring it to me," Prisoner Nine Ninety Five commanded of her and Stori almost felt compelled to obey.
Taking in a deep breath, she locked eyes with him once more and slowly knelt down to lay the tray on the floor before gently pushing it under the bars for him. The prisoner looked down at her between the bars with a tilted head and a cocked eyebrow. A smug smirk decorated his plump lips as he whisperd, "I like seeing you kneel."
Immediately Stori stood to attention and glared at him with hatred sparking in her very soul. She wanted to wrap her hands around his throat violently as the demon seemed to make her blood boil and she had no idea why. His perverted comments shouldn't have been enough to drive her to the point of irrational rage but something about him pissed her off. And yet, at the same time he flustered her, making a blush heat up her cheeks.
"Enjoy your meal," She growled before turning on her heels and scanned her wrist implant over the security pad before she began to bang on the door to be let out. The banging wouldn't really do anything to alert the guard of her wish to leave but it made her feel better as she slammed her palms against the iron door. The echoing sound was a pleasant noise that she pretended the guard could hear. Once the door opened, Stori rushed through the opening without looking back.
"Come back soon my love!" The demons called after her as she hastily exited.
She never wanted to see him again.