Journey Through Hell: Part 4

June 29, 2015:

John, Jesana and Kitty make it to the seventh level of Hell: War.

Hell

Characters

NPCs: Gudit

Mentions:

Mood Music: Blood on Your Bootheels - Caroline Rose


Fade In…

Finally they'd slept. Rested. More perhaps out of a sense of security than anything else, knowing that the angelic being John had beaten into compliance was there to help them.

While they rested, John had snuck into Kitty's room and taken a silver chain from his manacles. With a nimble touch he'd wrapped it around her neck, twice, before it vanished into thin air. And while Jesana was prowling and thinking, he'd cracked open a pomegranete- blood red, with pips as black as sin- and fed one of those seeds to Kitty, all without so much as stirring her.
They'd finally pressed on after resting sufficiently. The odd inverted mountain loomed and they walked along the slopes- a man, a demon, and a coyote disguised as a revenant. Rarely talking. Conserving energy for the effort of warding off the shrieking wails and of despair that echoed forever.

"This is the seventh level," John explains as they step onto a wide plain. "Where those who visited violence and war for its own sake live." He gestures at the vast ring of molten fire and heat that surrounds them, encircling a finite and yet unending area where uncounted armies smash and fray into one another. "We've got to find a lass named Gudit. She's one of the first warrior queens, and one of the first women to turn a kingdom into an empire," he explains to his companions. "The fact that she's nearly in charge, here, better be a bit of concern for you- she's not someone to trifle with. And remember that you /can't win a fight/," he emphasizes. "Not with them. They will live and die here for eternity, and battle's all the crave. So c'mon you lot- let's step on and see if we can't convince her to let us keep walking," he says, jamming his hands into his coat and shlepping along.

Jesana keeps quiet after listening. She's not forgotten the lesson in the demon's house. She isn't going to do or say anything John doesn't tell her too. Jes seems more aware than previously. She hasn't withdrawn back into the little place she'd been hiding. She stays close at Kitty's side and gently pats her arm or her shoulder in silent encouragment while they move along. Brown eyes watche the battles below with a sort of mild interest as they approach.

After the meal with the fallen angel, Kitty felt stronger. Not by much, but enough that she no longer felt like moving forward was such a struggle. She had no idea that this was due to pomegranate seeds furtively fed to her and not because of a supposedly safe meal. The disguise as a succubus still chafes at her, but she has not complained since before the Bolgias.

A hand, every now and again, reaches out to hold onto Jesana as they move forward for both support and reassurance. While she may feel a bit less like sitting down and not getting up, that does not mean some of the despair of being in Hell in her own body has completely left her.

"Got it," she tells John attempting a bit of her old levity. "Find Gudit. Don't pick a fight with her unless she thinks Enterprise was the best Star Trek." They move forward toward the battles and the wails, leaving Kitty trying not to shiver as they continue.

John touches his forehead. He clearly reminds himself that Kitty's being sarcastic, and they press on.

Once inside the burning outer ring, John just… walks right into the fray. The din is insane. Men and women clashing, on foot, on horse, on monstrous being. And he walks through them without looking left or right. He ignores one man savagely bludgeoning a disarmed for into the ground, and walks right through a pair of duelists with blades whipping around in glittering arcs of silver as they hack each other to bits.

"C'mon you two, shake a leg, eh?" John say, turning to look at Kitty and Jesana. He ignores the snap of chain within inches of his face. "We've not got all day."

Jesana's expression of mild interest has turned to something closer to out right fascination. She loves to hunt and to fight and its going on all around her, calling to her. She wants to join in. Very much. This isn't her fight though and she doesn't know these ..are they even people anymore? Jes isn't sure. She's taken two steps towards a hulking manthing slashing down towards a much smaller unarmed woman when she catches herself. Jes takes Kitty's hand in one of hers and John's in the other and holds them tightly. "I've got to remember what I'm doing here.." Jes mutters. She scowls at the ground, keeping her eyes off the battle.

Kitty's attempt to try and stay positive usual tends toward the sarcastic and the flippant. That's just the way she deals with things.

As they move through the carnage and the battles, she attempts to follow John's orders. In fact, she keeps her eyes focused mostly on the ground in front of them so that she won't be horrified by what she sees. Unfortunately, she has very good peripheral vision. As a man walks forward to hack someone into bits, she attempts to move forward to help, but Jesana's tight hand in hers keeps her from straying too far. While she does have some strength left, there's not much she can do to wrest herself free from the Coyote. One of the women looks straight at Kitty with defiant and desperate eyes before her head is cleaved right off.

The sight turns Kitty's stomach and what little is left within it. At the encouraging of John, she moves as briskly as possible through the rest of the carnage.

The battle is truely endless. It rages forever in every direction, and the walk to what looks like a command tent takes longer than anyone would prefer.

John leads the women to a pair of brawling guards, who stop their fighting the moment that the trio comes near.

"TO BATTLE!" one of them, a Crusader-era knight, crows triumphantly. He draws his broadsword with a great upwards sweep and lunges towards Jesana, blade upraised. The other, a samurai or something close to it, draws his katana and lunges for Kitty.

"I'm here to see Gudit. Please," John says. /Please/. That's a word John doesn't use often, and he seems quite unconcerned with the threat of the warriors bearing down on the two women.

A swift glance at John's expression and Jesana freezes in place. Her grasp on Kitty's hand tightens and the native american's eyes scrunch shut tightly, an utterly animal sound of rage bursting out of her mouth. She wants to fight and kill and rip and tear and taste the blood of her foes on her tongue. She shudders and struggles silently to control the violent urges. "The mission. The mission. The mission." Jes mutters over and over until she has herself under control. Or it's what she does if those giants don't actually hit her and Kitty. Which is what Jes had been hoping when she didn't let go of the other woman. This isn't the time for instinctive reactions and she'd been worried what Kitty might do before she started losing it herself a bit.

The attack of the samurai toward her is enough to put Kitty at least in a defensive stance. But, she has no sword, no Lockheed and no other way to defend herself other than her hands. While her natural instinct is to toss the soul screeching in its attack on her, she keeps a tight grip on Jesana. She's known the animal instinct that she feels to protect and to attack those attacking her. The worry over each other manage to keep them from attacking outright.

"We will not fight you," she says, closing her eyes and gripping onto Jesana's hand tightly. Her promise is soft, but determined, a mantra to remind bother herself and the coyote that no one can win a fight here. That's not what they're here to do.

The two warriors stop within inches of the girls, but they seem unwilling or unable to press the attack. "Bah! Visitors," the growl. "Gudit's inside. Show due deference," the Templar says. The moment John, Kitty, and Jes go inside, they're back to brawling.

Inside the command tent is a rather posh if ancient motif- lots of gold and ebony, simple sculptural work… and war trophies. Trophies /everywhere/. From unending centuries of battle- and some of them definitely not of human origin or design.

Gudit proves to be a tall, rawboned woman with deep, deeply brown skin, wearing leather armor. She's whipcord lean with a shock of black-grey hair cut into a mohawk, worn long over her scalp and hanging to her left shoulder. Everything about her is sinew and grace and dangerous balance. "Interesting," she remarks, looking at the trio. "I've not had visitors in some time. Did the lord of the demesne send you? Has it come time for the end battle?" she asks, eagerly.

"No, sorry luv," John says. "I'm looking for a ride to the six level," he says diffidently. "The cambions keep you lot pretty well confined. I heard you have a back door upstairs. Mind letting us borrow it?"

Gudit blinks. "Just like that? Why should I help you? I don't even know who you are. Or what's in it for me."

Jes doesn't really notice all the things in the tent. Or after a brief glance, Gudit. She's still trying to get a handle on the call to join the battle. She's just holding Kitty's hand now, John might need his in here. She frowns at the floor and glances aside at John. Whatever idea he has in mind to get this leader's cooperation is going to be something she doesn't like, she's rather sure of it. Nothing useful for her to do that wouldn't just land them in more trouble comes to mind though, so Jes just looks back down at the floor. It's been sitting in the bakc of her mind for awhile now that she might be able to get one of the people she knows here to help them. Only they haven't gone through the right area yet. She also doesn't know how to go about it and that angel had been suspiciously absent for her to question.

Kitty's tight grip on Jesana's hand does not relent as the creatures pull away from attacking them. It only grows stronger. As the warriors move away, she takes a ragged breath, glad that her instincts were right in this manner, despite her intsinct to fight back. Even with her limited strength, her desire to try and parry was very strong. The fighting spirit is rooted deep within her, no matter her circumstances.

"My lady warrior," Kitty replies softly, trying to keep her desire to get away from not only this level of Hell but all of Hell under wraps. They said to pay her due deference, and the title seems appropriate. "You're not exactly denying the fact that you have a back door around here somewhere."

Gudit shrugs, leaning her narrow hips against a table. "Why deny it? He knows about it. No one here would come and bother me for access to it- they're too busy fighting one another. It's just a question of what you're willing to pay for access," she says, looking from John to the girls. "A succubus and a revenant, eh? I don't know why you're following this spirit around. Why not just teleport yourself off?" she asks Kitty.

"What, and broadcast her position to every demon in Hell?" John demands. "We're trying to be discreet, here."

"All right, fine. Still means you have to make it worth my while," Gudit shrugs, looking from John to the girls, and back again. "What's in it for me?"

Jesana finally looks up and eyes the woman. "What is it that you want?" It's a question and not an offer or promise of anything so she figures its safe enough to ask. Her hand goes to the spot on her neck that her pendulum usually lies and the corners of Jes's eyes tighten. It's not there of course. It's back with her body. Besides, John doesn't have one and so she probably couldn't use it to mindspeak him anyway. She has an idea and doesn't think it would cost them anything. It'd help them actually. Only she doesn't really know anything about this place and is hesitant to say anything yet. Maybe… Jes looks aside at John until he catches her eye which then flicks down to his wrists where the chains are hidden. She's thinking about the demon still trapped in him. "Do you keep slaves here?" Another question. Another pointed look at John. If this woman will take the demon from them, itll be two problems solved at once.

"I can speak for myself," Kitty attempts to show some sort of autonomy, though at this point there really isn't any point of it. She just feels as if she should. Deciding that she should pout rather than anything else, she does so. That's what succubi do, right?

"I have my reasons just as you." The question that Jesana asks is just met with a nod. That's exactly what she was going to say. She's not about to offer something that might be far more valuable than its worth. She's dealt with the Yakuza and the Hand, she knows how to make deals with devils. The question of slaves is met with a quick and curious look. What is she playing at?

"A week," Gudit tells the girls, promptly. "One week of service from each of you," she clarifies. She glances at John, seeing him bristle, and holds a hand up. "Locally, not meatsuit time," she clarifies. "Payable when I need you. No excuses, no exceptions. I get a one-time summon. I guarantee safe transit both ways and your body and soul remain yours. John can tell you, I'm a rotten liar," she says wryly, "so I'm not going to write in any caveats or heretofores or exceptions. One week of war, body in suspension while you're here, then I put you back. No power in the universe can interfere with this sort of contract," she assures the girls.

"She's on the up and up," John concedes, grimacing. "She's a manky git, but she's honest about it. You'd be safe, if not emotionally imperiled. Gudit's got the power to make sure you two return home safe and sound. Wouldn't be more than a few hours real-time."

"Deal's expiring when I finish my coffee," Gudit says, sipping her near-empty cup. "One way trip to the next level in exchange for one week of battlework. Deal?"

Jes turns and gives John a flat look. "I am not leaving without you. I told you. It isn't happening. Unless this deal includes you coming with us…" Her expression clearly suggests he and Gudit can go fuck off then. She turns to look at Kitty, then Gudit. "If I agree, can I do Kitty's service instead as well." Jesana looks to Kitty again. This wouldn't affect her in the same way. She isn't wholey human.

Kitty blinks at the offer. It was certainly not what she was expecting. The reaction of John also puts the woman on edge. Jesana's reaction to this is met with a frown and shake of her head. She jumped through the portal, she can't let Jesana do this deal for her as well. Setting her lips in a thin line, she studies Gudit. "One week of service," she agrees. Though there is some worry in her voice, she agrees. They need to get out of here and this seems to at least be a disturbing way to go about it, but not completely unacceptable.

John sighs. "Jesana, we talked about this, luv," he reminds her, a bit pointedly.

"No. One week from each of you," Gudit says, not picking up on the subtext of their conversaiton.

At everyone's agreement, Gudit reaches for a tapestry and pulls it aside. "There you go. A free pass to the next level up." She reaches for Kitty's forearm and wraps a callused palm around it. Flesh singes and sizzles, and a palm-shaped scar appears on Kitty's flesh before vanishing. She does the same to Jesana, and though there's no burning flesh, a burning soul still stinks. "There. My mark, on each of you. When it burns, I'm summoning you, and soon." She eyes Kitty curiously, but nods at John, moving aside. "A deal's a deal. Good luck, John. I think they know you're down here. I wouldn't waste time getting somewhere safe," she says.

"Yeah, yeah. You're a proper bucket of larffs, Gudit," John sneers. The Amazonian woman narrows her eyes as John passes and grabs the front of his duster, then pulls him in for a rough and almost cruel kiss.

"Just remember who your friends are, Hellblazer," she snarls, eyes lidding in cruel satisfaction. John pointedly stands between the girls and Gudit as they pass out of her domain and into the next level of Hell.

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