The House of Pomegranates --
“You know, young maiden, that you cannot leave the underworld should you eat that pomegranate?”
His voice rang through the air as a gong’s wail through a nascent sunrise in Mount Everest. She looked away from the pomegranate on the tree branch and turned to look at the speaker - a shadow, of snow skin and scarlet eyes and hair as dark as night. He was a regal, delicately made man, yet his eyes held a wisdom to them, a quiet fortitude that instantly showed to her his true identity: Alucard, king of the underworld. He was certainly not a man to trifle with.
She knew this.
“How did you get here? Walter usually informs me of wayward mortals.” Alucard mused, stepping out of the shadows and towards her willowy figure. His feet made the faintest crackles as they crushed the dead leaves below them, and soon, as they were just behind her, they stopped. She could smell the faint scent of cinnamon and ash. It was the scent that tinted the entirety of the underworld, but it seemed the strongest on him - perhaps it was his magic. Even without looking at him, she could feel his infamous quiet intensity. He was very unlike her cornflower eyes, jerrygold hair, ochre skin - the polar opposite of her earthy hope.
She knew this.
“Will you answer me, fair maiden?” Alucard asked, an almost jesting lilt to his voice. It curled the edge of her lips into a small smile - a sense of humor, even here.
She looked upwards towards the ash red skies, peppered by clouds of smog. When she breathed in, she smelt very little of the fragrant life that was woven into the very essence of the Earth; only ash and the tired sands of time. She felt not the thrum of the heartbeats of the life she spawned from the tips of her fingers, but the beats of the chains of the damned, the footsteps of the apathetic, the choral songs of those who lounged in paradise. And though she was a goddess tied to the earth, there was nothing more earthly than the dirt below it, the dirt that sustained each and every beat and note of the endless melody (cacophony) of life.
She knew this.
“Perhaps.” Integra spoke. Her voice was soft yet firm, lilting.
Alucard cocked his head. “You don’t fear me, clearly. Such an odd thing for a mortal… would you give me your name?”
She sighed, knowing she would have to reveal herself eventually, “Integra. Goddess of Springtime, daughter of Elizabeth.”
Alucard hummed thoughtfully. “Some of the mortals whispered of a new nature goddess… yet Elizabeth never let you out of her grasp. Do you know who I am, Integra?” The way he rumbled her name, as if he was the thoughts of the earth himself. It reminded her of the thrum of banyan trees when they spoke to her - rare as it was. It fit him.
“Alucard, King of Hell.” Saying it seemed to solidify it: she truly was a Spring Goddess in hell. She was in hell, and she was in hell for a reason. In the lull of conversation, Integra stepped forward and plucked a single pomegranate. She paused - it felt just as a living fruit would. Holding it to her nose, she smiled. It smelled just like the fruits she bloomed. She put pressure on the area where the stem met the shell - an easy way to crack it.
Upon the sharp crack of the pomegranate's hard exterior, Alucard placed a gentle hand on her shoulder and turned her around, his expression wrinkled in confusion. He tried to gently take the fruit from her grasp, but Integra would not let Alucard take it. Integra stepped away from him and shook her head in faux disappointment. “Please, has no one taught you manners?” Integra chided.
“Just because you are a goddess doesn’t mean you are exempt from the rules of our garden - if you eat this, you cannot leave my domain.” He warned her, expression more serious than it had been for their entire encounter.
Integra’s lips curled into a full blown smile at the thought, and she exhaled, feeling a bit of excitement bubble in her veins. Gingerly, she plucked 6 seeds from the pomegranate and looked Alucard directly in the eye.
And then, she swallowed the seeds.
Anderson sighed heavily and rubbed his head for a moment. “I swear, some days she’s worse than Enrico.” He muttered to himself, glancing at his husband’s throne beside him. As much as Anderson was a faithful man to his values, why was anyone honestly surprised that he chose to cheat on his vile harpy of a husband? Of course, on days like these - when Anderson remembered that contraception was not good enough amongst the Gods to prevent cases in which hangovers from one night stands lasted a few agonizing decades in the form of godforsaken children - Anderson almost considered being faithful and trying to fix his relationship with Enrico. Almost considered becoming a true king of the skies, considered making a happy household and setting it right with his siblings and his children.
One of the attendants, a maiden named Yumiko, approached Anderson’s brooding figure. “Should we let her in?”
Anderson leaned back in his chair and rubbed his face. “It’ll only get worse if I don’t... Yumiko, can you get us two glasses of wine?” The maiden nodded and quickly scurried out of the room.
Within a few seconds, the heavy mahogany doors to Anderson’s throne room were thrown open, and Hell on wheels herself strode into the room, leaving dangerous belladonna in her feet’s wake. Tall and imposing with features sharper than the knives used to carve her marble temple, Queen Elizabeth, mother of the Earth’s harvest, was a force to be reckoned with. Her dress of leaves flowed behind her as the flowers woven into her long golden hair shifted between various shades of red - a sure sign of her anger. As a goddess, the Queen had absolutely no reason to hide a single drop of her emotions - and so, didn’t. She didn’t merely show them on her features but used her powers to show them off and ail all nearby.
Anderson stood in respect and extended a hand to the dear lady, to begrudgingly kiss the knuckles which were wrapped in vines bearing thorns. She didn’t retract the thorns when he kissed the knuckles, but Anderson didn’t comment on it. He was an impulsive man, not a stupid one. He settled back to his own throne after wiping the blood off of his lips and summoned a throne of equal height for Elizabeth.
The various flora at her feet wove around the chair possessively as she sat in her seat. “Anderson, I assume you know why I’m here.” she drawled.
Ah yes, because Anderson was the god of fucking prophecy. “I haven’t had the pleasure.” Anderson calmly replied.
His sister’s lips pinched like the rotten prune her heart was. “My daughter. Integra. She’s gone.”
“Our daughter, for one, Elizabeth.” Before she could protest, Anderson continued, “And I wasn’t aware of this. Have you any inkling where she may be?”
The queen sighed heavily, “I believe Alucard has kidnapped her.”
Anderson wrinkled his brow. It was hard to imagine Alucard doing such a thing - the God of the Underworld wanted nothing of the drama in Olympus, and took more pleasure in bothering the souls under his domain rather than those outside of it. Kidnapping seemed more of their other brother’s - The Major - hobby. There was something more going on. “I shall send Heinkel to get her back.” Anderson replied. “It shouldn’t be a problem.”
The Queen crossed her arm and clenched her jaw. She looked at the pillar beside Anderson for a few moments, making Anderson tense. “You know,” she began, “If it was easy as that, do you think I would dare step in your domain?” She spat.
He was not paid enough for this job. “I suppose not. What happened when you went down there, Elizabeth?” Anderson calmly asked.
Elizabeth somehow became even more miffed. “The boatman, Walter, wouldn’t let me cross!”
Anderson blinked. “Did you not cross the river on your own?”
Elizabeth sneered, “No. My precious vines and roots cannot grow in the Underworld’s waters, for some reason. Further, Alucard will not grant me passage. This is why I know she is held without her will - he must have captured her and doesn’t want me to take her back!” She hissed.
It was that moment when Yumiko returned with two goblets of wine. The spirit quietly handed the duo their drinks, getting a small nod in thanks from the both of them.
Leaning back into her chair, she sighed to herself. “I knew it, I shouldn’t have let her out of my sight… this is exactly why I never did...” Elizabeth sadly murmured, taking a sip of her wine.
“Let her out of your sight?” Anderson evenly asked. Internally, he was still laughing at the fact that the Queen treated her 7 century old daughter as if she was a mere nymph maiden, set to get lost in this cruel, cruel world.
The Queen nodded. “I always feared for Integra. She’s the goddess of Spring, you see - I lost my power to create life from places of pure death by giving birth to her.” she admitted. “Demons were attracted to her power since she was born, and I have protected her for so long...” She sighed. Anderson nodded in understanding. It was true, such a nascent goddess would be a treat for any demon who could consume powers, and yet, it had been 7 centuries...
Anderson faintly considered becoming a more involved father, but shrugged off the thought when Elizabeth continued her soliloquy.
“I let her go this time. She begged and begged for a day alone, and I granted it. I never should have.” The Queen venomously said, digging her nails into the chalice as she glared at the wine.
Anderson considered becoming a better father figure a tad more seriously, especially in Integra’s case.
Anderson rested his chalice on the arm of his throne. “Have you considered,” He tepidly began, “That Integra ran away?”
When the flora turned into blood red and the thorned vines began to painfully wrap around Anderson’s legs, Anderson assumed the answer was a no. “Is there any reason why she should, Anderson?” Elizabeth delicately asked, her expression calm as she took a gentle sip of her wine, intense raven eyes never leaving his own sapphire ones. “Especially considering I was the only parental figure in her life?”
Anderson grimaced - the Queen was no where near forgiving Anderson. It was moments like these which reminded Anderson to be a better fucking father figure.
“Absolutely none, Elizabeth. I shall have Heinkel take care of the matter - Integra will be back to your home within a fortnight, even if I need to personally need to visit Alucard.” Anderson quickly replied,
“A fortnight?” The vines tightened, making Anderson wince.
“A week.” He whimpered.
“Wonderful.” She cooed, and then stood, retracting her vines. “I shall take my leave. Do take care, lover mine.” She said, turning on her heel and striding away. She took no care to get rid of the poisoned plants she left in her wake.
Anderson slumped in his chair and sighed deeply.
“Just what the hell have you gotten yourself into, Integra?”
“The great king of the skies has bestowed my humble company his magnificent presence? Holy day, holy day, holy day! To what do I owe the pleasure, father?”
A deaf man could’ve heard Integra’s sarcasm.
As much as Anderson was miffed by the less than warm greeting, he simply shook his head and approached the young maiden. She didn’t acknowledge him beyond her sarcastic opening when he sat beside her; she simply continued to weave her flower crown of primroses. It was an odd sight, Anderson had to admit, seeing a fair maiden like Integra weave flower crowns of primroses amongst the ashy landscape before Alucard’s looming castle. She seemed like the only pure thing in a land of desolation.
In their shared silence, Anderson couldn’t help but notice Integra had gotten most of his colorings - his sky blue eyes, lightening hair, darker skin - but with the regal and sharper features of Elizabeth’s. She was a beautiful daughter, and if the rumors were true, one who wielded much power well both as a nature spirit and as a person. Anderson felt a tugging within him - it was the first time he had seen her since she was a child, and for the first time in a very long time, Anderson almost wanted to know her.
“Would you like one?” Integra’s voice broke the his thoughts. Anderson arched a brow. Integra gestured to one of the crowns on her lap. “A crown. You’re on a kingly duty, and you’re not even wearing your circlet.” She lightly commented.
“It’s Alucard’s domain. I’m not allowed to wear my circlet.” Anderson explained.
Integra shrugged and took a crown from her lap and extended it to Anderson. “I don’t particularly care, take it. After all, this is also my domain.” Integra nonchalantly said, a sharp smile curling at the edge of her lips.
Anderson smiled humorlessly and took the flower crown, putting it on his head. Ironically, he felt less powerful for wearing it. He had almost forgotten - Integra wasn’t just the spirit of springtime anymore. “Happy 2 year anniversary.” Anderson wished.
Integra snorted. “You can’t tell me you came down here to wish me a happy anniversary? You didn’t even walk me down the aisle.” Anderson looked at Integra with sheer puzzlement.
“You didn’t send me an invitation.”
Integra waved her hand vaguely, shrugging. “Details, details.” There was a good humored smile on her lips. Anderson decided then and there that he would never understand women - didn’t Integra snap at him mere moments ago?
“You know, it’s been 3 years.” Anderson began. Integra side eyed her father, but didn’t let his message stop her weaving. “3 years since you saw your mother. She worries, you know this.”
Integra snorted. “Worries, yes. Do continue pointing out the understated obvious.”
Anderson paused. “As I was saying, it’s been 3 years. And she’s been raising hell - “
“Raised the Queen of Hell, actually, but go on.”
Anderson pinched his lips - Integra was an insolent one, but what could he expect, really? “She’s been making a ruckus nonstop in Olympus. She’s driven Enrico up a wall, and I feel as if Van Winkle is mere seconds from hunting her down. As your father, I am obliged to ask you - are you happy?”
Integra leaned back against the tree and sighed, resting her hands on her lap. “After 758 years, this is the first time you’ve asked me this. And this is perhaps the first time I can answer honestly - yes, I am happy.” She stated firmly.
Anderson slowly nodded, biting the inside of his cheek. “And you’re aware that for the last year of your escape from your darling mother, she’s been creating famine all across the earth, to the point where entire countries are devastated by her wrath?”
Integra’s eyes narrowed as the flowers around her flared wildly. “If you think that you’re going to walk into my home and guilt trip me -”
“- I’m not.” Anderson interrupted. “I’d simply like for you to know the consequences of your actions -”
“Oh, like you give a damn about your actions? Since when have you cared for the consequences of your actions? You expect me to give up my happiness for all of you maggots?” Integra hissed, getting to her feet and towering over the other God. Her hair flared wildly and the daisies within them wilted into angry petunias. "I rotted for centuries in her grasp. She used me for her every whim and treated me like a goddamned slave. She sabotaged every effort to build a temple in just my name - all of them had to be for the goddess of harvest and spring, not simply the goddess of spring, or even the goddess of spring with other goddesses! I have few true believers and even fewer devotees, because of her.” Integra hissed.
He held up his hands, trying to keep his voice cool even though he felt a small tug of horror at her suffering, “Look, I understand you’ve been through a lot, Integra.” Anderson began. “Please, quiet down. I spent a long time arguing with Walter to come in here.” He tried to grasp her hand to calm her, but she wrenched her hand from his grasp. Searching for straws, he spoke quietly and desperately, “Please, let’s agree to one thing - your mother’s a bitch.”
Integra shook her head and stepped a few paces away, turning to face the castle behind her. Large and large, the spires seemed to touch the smog-filled clouds themselves as they imposed a deep raven shadow onto the vast lands of Hell. It was a damned land, a harsh land. But it was also Integra’s home, now, where the primroses grew at her will, where the dead wished her well, where there was a man who cherished her as the crown jewel on his throne.
Hell was nothing short of paradise. Hell was what the Earth was supposed to have been.
“She is.” Integra eventually admitted. She loathed to give the man even a single inch, but she saw no harm in admitting an obvious truth.
Anderson nodded. “I know you don’t feel fondly towards her.”
“Understatement of the year, father.” Integra laughed.
“But.” Anderson continued, “Even if she’s a bitch, she’s your other half.”
Integra choked, “What?”
“She’s the harvest to your growth.” Anderson explained, “As much as she pretends she’s starving the earth because of her own pettiness, a part of it is because she’s weaker without you. She cannot sustain the Earth on her own, when you have much of her powers.”
Integra shook her head, still standing with her face away from Anderson. She did not want to see him, right now. “I swear, you’re making these rules up as you go.”
Anderson shrugged. “I’m not. But more than all of that,” Anderson looked away, sighing before he spoke again, this time his voice much more gentle. “It’s because she loves you, Integra. We both love you so dearly and miss you.”
His words were met with silence.
Moments later, Anderson looked up. He could not see her expression, just the outline of the imposing figure she made, but he could see the way her fists clenched, to the point where the knuckles were white. Her frame trembled slightly, and the primroses at her feet wrapped around her legs as if to console her. Anderson’s lips thinned, but he didn’t say anything. He knew the point where there was nothing else to say.
A moment later, two hailstones fell from her lips, “Get out.”
Anderson knew better than to argue.
Upon the closing of his throne room door, Alucard looked up from his grimoire. Alucard’s sober expression broke into a smile - Walter had just entered with a single, scarlet primrose in his hands. An odd expression indeed, for the stony king of the dead.
“Primrose.” Alucard breathed out, rising from his obsidian throne. Beside it was another throne of equal size - made of the darkest wood in the forest and adorned with roses of scarlet and raven; all who saw it knew exactly who it belonged to. “Is.. she here, already?” Alucard asked.
Walter shook his head gravely. “I was escorting a temple maiden who held this primrose and a letter she says is for you.” From his coat, he pulled a single letter.
Alucard’s eyes widened slightly and he took the letter. As soon as he touched it, he could smell the faint perfume of her springtime glory on the paper itself - conjured by her magic, he supposed. Gently placing it in his own inner pockets, he looked up and gestured for Walter’s dismissal, which the old boatman responded to in his regular, taciturn way - a slight nod of the head and a polished well wish.
Alucard sighed deeply. Ever since he became Hell’s king, the Gods treated him as if he was cursed, even though it was practically the very last thing - frankly, Hell was a nice place. Not the fields of punishment, obviously, but other places, from the walkways to the other fields themselves, were efforts of love for the stoic king. Though no nature spirit or creation spirit, he took the time to make Hell a faintly welcoming space, what with the willows and yew scattered across the walkways, and the occasional swing and fountain amongst the branches.
It was for the better, however; Alucard was a busy man, and took his time keeping the underworld in regular order. Thankfully, much of his work was voluntary over required, and as such, could spend full days with his beloved queen.
He wondered if he had granted favors to the Fates in the past, to get someone as lovely as Integra for a wife. Unlike the fragile flowers she grew, she fit to hell as well as he did. She was terrifying in her own right, but rarely used it to do anything ridiculous; after all, she understood why the Underworld worked as it did. And Alucard respected that. But more than all of her intelligence and beauty, Integra was someone who soothed his soul. Both disillusioned, they found repose in the honesty of death, and the steady justice it granted a reality that felt consistently unfair otherwise. Alucard’s lips quirked. Their love, truly was, God.
And yet, he saw her for only 6 months of the year. It almost wanted to make him keen - Anderson has no work to do yet is in charge, the Major faces no suffering and has the entire power of the ocean, and he, he was here standing tall against the wear of endless duty and was spat at for it. And now that such a precious thing entered his life, his darling mother in law ramped up his workload by starving every mortal being until Integra finally bended, just before the entirety of the world she loved was killed. Alucard always told her she was too compassionate for her own happiness, but Integra merely shook her head and said he’d never understand her connection with the living.
Well, he wasn’t a nature sprite, now was he?
Shaking his head, Alucard grasped the letter from within his coat and opened it. It was a small repose from his bitterness, and he was happy to take it.
In a month’s time, I shall bring you some daisies - make you a better crown than Anderson’s. He visited today, brought me poppies, a platitude. I wonder why he bothers visiting our gardens… mother certainly doesn’t appreciate him. She still wishes you plague - just once a week, rather than every day. Who knows, she may even like you in 3 centuries.
At least I have a temple to myself as well as my own priestess - I even occasionally get a sweet sacrificed to me. Small mercies. Speaking of, the little girl who gave Walter this letter was a young altar girl who died far too early to disease. There is a plague going through Athens, you see. It’s rather depressing - Pericles is close to his death because of it, I sense it. We shall see him later, no? It will be a sad day for all, in Athens.
Please say hello to Baskerville for me, and wish Walter well.
Alucard smiled to himself and returned the letter to his coat pocket - brevity was Integra, even if her letters only came with the death of her followers and her personal animals. One more month, and his sparrow would return home back to his arms and back into the rhythm of domesticity that worked wonderfully between the two.
A moment later, at the sound of the noonbell ring, he shook his head and put the letter away - it was time to go back to work.
“My lords, I request your presence in the atrium, we have a… split judgement.”
Alucard looked up from his paperwork and wrinkled his brow - Walter’s personage was ruffled, to say the least, with his hair disheveled and formal clothes wrinkled, a far cry from his usual polish. Alucard stood, squaring to his full imposing height of 7 feet, ready to deal with anyone who wished to cause chaos in his home with ruthless efficiency.
“Split judgement?” Integra asked. Alucard faced her - she had been sitting beside him, reading through the various prayers sent to her - and his stony expression melted a bit. He’d forgotten that she’d never faced this in the last 50 years - normally, when Walter spoke of a split judgement, the soul needed to be forced into submission.
Alucard waved her off, “A belligerent soul, they usually whine about their punishment and I need to put them in their place. Nothing to worry yourself over, I shall be back within the hour.”
Integra’s face grew pensive for a moment. “It’s rare for this to happen, I take it?” She asked.
Alucard nodded. “Yes. It’s just for strong willed souls, often falsely righteous.”
Integra nodded, seemingly making up her mind, “I wish to accompany you, darling.”
Alucard shrugged, “If you wish. Prepare yourself, it may be dangerous.”
As soon as Integra placed her delicate hand onto Alucard’s extended arm, the two strode into the main atrium. Upon entering, Alucard paused and wrinkled his brows.
Usually, the souls who protested were grand military men who saw their actions as acts of God, or some sort of pretentious fucks of higher order who didn’t understand how morality worked. Alucard, however, was currently looking at a scruffy young peasant girl, struggling against Pip Bernadotte’s grip. She was giving him a decent fight, especially surprising when one considers that Pip was one of Alucard’s highest servants, which lead the God to wonder if she was a Spartan. Alucard noticed the faint interest in Integra’s eyes in the corner of his gaze, and knew he should get to the bottom of the case quickly.
“Enough.” Alucard said, causing the two to freeze and turn - not to the front entrance - but an innocent looking side door Alucard always used to unsettle unpleasant visitors.
The girl was the first to recover - she kicked Pip in the shin, and wrenched her hand away from his grip. She threw herself at Alucard’s feet, causing him to look at her with thinly veiled wariness. “Lord Alucard, Lady Integra! I beseech you, please hear me out.” She begged.
Integra moved to grasp her shoulder and raise her to her feet, but Alucard shook his head. Integra shot him a confused look, but yielded. “It’s King Alucard, and Queen Integra.” Alucard intoned. “Do you understand where you are, girl?” Alucard asked. He did get the occasional soul who didn’t understand that they died, and the girl seemed simple enough to be such a case.
The spirit nodded. “Yes, sire. We are in your grand castle.” She stated. Alucard nodded, and approached the urchin. She had a head of golden hair to her shoulders, with a busty, yet slender build which hinted at an early start to womanhood - she couldn’t have been older than 19. Alucard sighed.
“Why have you caused such trouble, urchin?” Alucard asked. The urchin began to stand, but Alucard raised his hand. “Wait. Did I tell you that you may stand?” Her eyes widened and then narrowed - a sky blue, pretty color - before she clenched her jaw and fell back into her knees. “Good. Now, speak to both me and my queen.” Alucard met Integra’s gaze - her expression was perplexed, but Alucard paid it no mind. Integra knew duty was duty, regardless of the age and maturity of those who broke the rules.
“Sir, you see…” The urchin began, swallowing heavily, “I was murdered by the brother of a man I killed. You see, my big sister - the day before her marriage, she was raped and killed, by this filthy man!” She yelled, fighting away the tears in her eyes, “I fought and killed him, for killing my sister and breaking my former brother in law’s heart. But I came here and I was told I was to serve in the Fields of Punishment forever!” She exclaimed, looking up, meeting Alucard’s eyes directly in a show of insubordination that had Alucard pinching his lips, “T-that’s not right! I need to see my sister! I need to apologize to her, see I was supposed to protect her - she’s always been sickly - and -” She prattled onwards, eventually falling into depressive blubbers and tears. Alucard held his ground, but he could see the way the edge of Integra’s lips pulled into a frown.
Alucard, however, held the silence until the girl fell silent. Seeing the king of hell stand still as an ice statue soon had her fidgeting, as Alucard expected it to. Soon, her fingers began curling into themselves, eyes darting from Alucard to Integra to other aspects of the room, her jaw clenching and unclenching - she was getting nervous.
“Was that all?” Alucard’s baritone voice shattered the silence. The girl searched the no-life king’s face for any sort of emotion, and upon finding nothing, drooped her head, hunching over her shoulders as she realized that there was no sympathy within the god of death for her.
“Do you know,” Alucard began, “Just how many people do terrible things in the name of revenge, in the name of righting a wrong, per se, as if my domain does not exist to do the very thing they intend to do?” He asked. There was no emotion there - only a truth Alucard wished all mortals could understand. Hell was perhaps the only place where a semblance of justice exists for mortal actions, and yet mortals kept forgetting it.
The girl grew pale and her shoulders began to tremble. She didn’t cry however; she straightened her spine, “I… do. I really do, and I’m sorry - not for murdering him but, you know what I mean. But, let me please say goodbye to her?”
Alucard shook his head. “No.”
The two other occupants in the room looked towards Integra, who was watching the other two with an uncertain gaze. “Alucard,” Integra began, “Let her. She accepts her fate, why not grant her a small boon?”
Alucard pinched his lips, looking away from his bride. He could see Integra’s point, but it was… complicated. He couldn’t grant exceptions that easily. He opened his mouth to deny her request, but stopped when he met Integra’s eyes. They were pleading, honestly requesting for such a small favor. For the last decades, Alucard could not remember Integra doing such a thing - the goddess was prideful. Yet, something about the urchin mattered to her. Alucard sighed. “Fine.”
The urchin’s eyes watered as her lips stretched into the most luminous smile Integra had ever seen, making the goddess smile against her will. Integra stepped forward and placed a slender hand on top of the girl’s shoulder and pulled her up to standing. She barely reached Integra’s shoulder, she was so small.
“I grant you a boon, then, little girl. As you leave this castle, you may spend a single day with your beloved sister. As soon as your day ends, you will return to the Fields of Punishment and be fitted to the punishment proportional to your crime.” Integra granted. As soon as she finished, her hands glowed and spread the glow from the girl's shoulder all throughout her body.
“T-thank you, Lady Integra.” The girl breathed out, and impulsively, hugged the goddess.
“Oh!” Integra startled, freezing for a moment before awkwardly wrapping her arms around the little girl. “It’s quite alright… Now would you please let go of me?”
The girl quickly pulled away, her cheeks crimson in embarrassment. “S-sorry.”
Integra smiled and shook her head indulgently. “Walter, please.” The butler, who had been watching from the doorway the entire time, began to escort the girl away.
Before she could leave the room, Integra spoke again. “Little mortal, what did you say your name was?”
The mortal turned around and smiled, “Seras Victoria.” Integra smiled, inclining her head in return. Seras Victoria… She’d have to remember that.
As soon as Seras and Walter were gone, Alucard stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her waist from behind her, resting his head on hers. “My queen… what was that about?” He asked. It wasn’t that he was angry - he was much more confused - but it seemed as if his queen had a fondness for that mortal.
Integra leaned her neck back and pecked Alucard’s cheek, “Mmm… nothing. I rather like her. After a decade or so, can I keep her as a handmaiden?”
Alucard chuckled, a baritone thing that sent rumbles through Integra’s delicate frame. “Perhaps.”
Perhaps indeed… Seras Victoria…. Or perhaps, Melinoe? It’s a pretty name...
Integra smiled to herself. While the Gods sing, the birds chirp, the world turns on… justice is served in Hell to all - big and small, immortal and forgotten, mundane and godly.
Little stray, you do know that you cannot leave hell if you eat that pomegranate?
Oh, Integra knew it. And she never regretted staying in this house of pomegranates.