Let's Make a Deal

June 15, 2015:

John Constantine deals with the seedling demon from the page of the Book of Sins- a transcript of the Darkhold- after carrying the demon down to Hell. And a deal is made. (set immediately after When Healing Goes Wrong, just before Journey Through Hell: Part 1).

The Pit of Hell

A blasted heath of decay and ruin, lifeless, barren, where nothing grows; a frozen landscape where the three Lords of Hell sit in judgement over the souls who descend into the Pit.


NPCs: Darkhold Seedling



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

In the endless time between John seizing the darkling demon Zatanna had exorcised, and landing in Hell, he had a lot of time to think about his life.
Which was not an exercise he enjoyed, if he was being honest. It was a lifetime of questionable decisions, bad choices, risky gambles and a lot of luck, and even then that luck often did little more than keep him alive, if barely. And despite best wishes to keep people safe in ignorance, it often seemed to come back and bite him in the ass at the worse times.
His bare soul screamed in pain at him from contact with the mewling, putrid essence of the demon crushed in his spiritual bearhug. But John refused to let go of the being- not a demon, not like most knew a demon, anyway- and grit his teeth, bearing the acid-eating sensation of his soul being seared by that proximity. The demon struggled and yowled, hissing and slashing at him to break free, but John used the chains of his conscience- heavy beyond those of perhaps any mortal alive- as lashes, using his grief and pain and self loathing (those chains largest of all) to bind the being against him.
He could feel the icy blast of the Hellmouth as they smashed through the barriers between Creation, falling endlessly into the lowest of planes. The two hit the ground hard and were thrown violently apart, cratering the ground with a terrific impact and landing with a skid to a few feet apart.
Though he no longer had lungs or really even a need for oxygen, John still took a shuddering breath, trying to restore his equilibrum. "Get up, mate," he growled, putting hands and feet under him and pushing up to a standing position, steadying himself with outstretched arms.
He grimaced, looking around, ignoring the puddle of demon shadow trying to reassemble itself from the impact. "Blimey, Zee," he cursed, quietly. "You didn't pull any punches here." The place was terrifyingly familiar to John, who'd been hauled here once before, by main force, to be gawked at and paraded in front of the First Lords of Hell- a trophy, before he'd spat in their collective eye and walked out laughing.
The ninth layer of Hell. The Hellfont. The Frozen Lakes. The home of betrayers and traitors, chief among them those few accursed beings who'd turned their backs on God and Heaven and their own divine nature, becoming something foul and corrupted. He looked towards the towering spire of the Hellmount, the vast mountain that connected the various hellish planes. He could see the endless traffic moving down it, descending along that blasted terrain to the level of the Pit each soul felt most attuned to.
John turned, then, hearing a slithering noise, and faced the demon.
Not a true demon, it had no real form- just something formless, viscerally frightening in a manner of animals and darkling shadows that haunt the most base fears of humans since time unknown. He could sense, more than see, eyes upon him- the essence of the demon's attention turning to him, fury, glee, and wary curiousity all emanating from it at once.
~THE HELLFONT~, came the psychic interrogative, hammering at John's mind. The magician, despite not having a body, smirked and laughed at the fury clawing at his metaphysical skull.
"You'll have to try harder than that, mate," John said, fishing in his notional trenchcoat for notional cigarettes. "Trust me- you'd be start walking now, before I get of a mind to handle you permanently. I cast you down here. Do you think I'd come here starkers, no meatsuit, without a plan?"
In point of fact that's /precisely/ what had happened, but he wasn't going to tell the Outsider in front of him that.
~BOUND BUT NOT CAST DOWN,~ the Outsider pointed out, prowling towards John. ~NOT YOUR MAGICS.~
John waited until the demon was practically atop him and blew a mouthful of spiritual cigarette smoke into its face, more significant as a gesture than an actual irritant. "May as well have been," he said with a grunt. "That's a working I could do in my sleep."
The demon snarled and started to reach for John, but remembering the heavy lash of those chains, checked itself, backing away. Blue orb- a remarkably pleasant shade of blue, shot through with white- presented as eyes on that featureless face, a concave maw indicating a suggestion of a mouth.
"You're strong, human," the creature said, its voice a slithering whisper of nightmares. "Few have ever had the strength to handle a page of the Darkhold, save immortals. Never before has one who was not a Sainted Servant of the White God locked me in his own flesh. You reek of this wasted heath. I demand to know how you held me."
"Trade secret, mate," John replied, blunt arrogance cooling his tones to something frosty. "But you best wager that if I can hold you, I can certainly destroy you, or lock you away somewhere for another few milennia," he said. "You get a reprieve today, though. Best start to walking," he advised the demon, feigning nonchalance.
The demon roared psychically at John, who snarled back at the beast, immediately. Never show a predator fear, and John was one to tell gods, God, or demon alike to piss off. It worked here, even on the baffled Outsider, who could sense nothing about John more than that he was a giant question mark of clearly phenomenal talents.
For a moment, it seemed like it would work.
And then there were two more sharp *cracks* overhead, the sounds of something alien and unauthorized entering Hell. John and the demon both looked up at once. The demon's features, inhuman, were unreadable; John's betrayed him with an expression of genuine fear.
Kitty Pryde, falling into Hell- flesh and blood and all. Right behind her, Jesana Revae's bare soul, although somehow flickeringly weak and more translucent than John would have expected. The long descent took an agonizing time, and John could only look on with mounting horror as the women's plight became apparent to him.
The Outsider, spotting literal fresh meat on approach, let out a basso, screeching howl of delight. Not just meager sustenance, here, but /power/. Power that could be used as fuel, or bartered for passage, or weaponized. Few humans appreciated the real strength of the soul; given it for free, unaware of it for most of their lives, few if any really concerned themselves with what would come of their immortality after they shuffled off that mortal coil.
John knew all too well the power of a human spirit. He'd seen the First Lords scrabble over the least fragments of a soul, desperate for any iota of power it afforded… and he'd seen the burning might of Heaven's gates, reinforced by the presence of uncounted dead.
The bellowing of the Outsider's name- the /true/ name of the dark seedling's greater parent- gave it pause, turning to look at John with true shock on its face.
John swaggered up to the demon, face set. "You'll not touch those girls, or I'll make sure you never escape this blasted waste," he assured the demon.
The shadow never blinked or even telegraphed the motion before it snatched a claw around John's neck, shadow spittle flecking his face as it roared at him.
"You can't stop me, mortal. I will consume the one and ride the flesh of the other to safety," it snarled at the magician. "I am Chthon's seedling. I cannot be stopped."
"No?" John didn't bother struggling against that claw, staring contemptuously at the demon's featureless face. "Check yourself again, mate. You and I are standing bare minutes away from the Throne of the First Lord. How do you think he'd react if I started calling his True Name?" John let a bit of his thoughts leak to the demon, revealing that he could do just that. "I've met him. Personally. And we've got more than a little bad blood," John said, voice coldly defiant. "If I start screaming bloody Cain over a Chthon seedling here, he'll banish you into the smallest, darkest corner of Hell and leave you there for all eternity, until you waste away into nothingness. And he'll happily show up and dispatch me for free."
He glanced at the incoming women, falling through an eternity of time and space, then back at the demon. He knew he'd have to talk quickly. "We can deal, though, seedling," he offered the demon, perking its interest. Like so many evil creatures, Chthon could seemingly not resist a bargain or a deal, particularly when gambling for the dynamo of power that a human soul offered.
"Yeah, deal, mate," John snapped. Time was clicking by. "Let me get those girls out of Hell. Safe, alive, unharmed, uncorrupted," he told the Outsider, laying out his terms with a ritual cadence. "You ride carriage with me until it's done. Once I know they're safe and out of here, you can take my soul in exchange. Is it a deal?" he demanded quickly, trying to time that approach of the girls out the corner of his eye. "My soul for their safety. Think fast- this offer expires the moment they touch down here," John said, putting the pressure on the alien being.
It stared at him, unblinking, unreadable, hardly moving save for the wisping of shadow emanating from it. Not of any world- not of Creation- it was a force of absolute malevolence, banished from time and space itself for attempting to undo God's work. John had met Outsiders before, but this was a fragment of an Elder God, a being that existed beyond anything 'real' or natural or spiritual.
And John was gambling on that being his sole shot at protecting the two women.
"Bargain, manling," the demon agreed.
The demon howled in glee and erupted into a writhing mass of shadowy protuberances, lashing against John's soul, pushing into his skin and burrowing through eyes and ears and mouth. Silently, John screamed, over and over, as once again his soul was seared to the deepest part of him by exposure to something so utterly alien that reality itself rejected it.
Falling to his knees, he slumped, weak, dizzied, and fought hard to compose himself. To marshal his strength, watching Kitty and Jesana's subjective time slowly start to sync with his the closer and closer they came to joining him.
They landed, hard, expanding the cratered area around where he'd impacted, stunned into senselessness by the impact and the unfamiliar sensation of being ripped from the middle of Creation and tossed into her lowest depths.
A few moments. That's all he needed. Setting his jaw, resolution on his face, John stomped towards Kitty, forcing himself to feed the anger instead of the hollow feeling where his stomach usually was.
He stooped and grabbed the front of Kitty's shirt, his soul given a material quality in Hell it would have lacked on Earth, and started shaking her with a grim look on his face until her eyes focused on him. He could feel the tirade building inside, ready to be let loose on her. He picked the words and tones he knew would most upset Jesana.
Put them on edge. Keep them afraid and not asking too many questions- that usually worked for him.
Just until he could get them both to safety.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License