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An Invitation to Danger

Chapter Text

Another day has arrived in Hell for the denizens of Pentagram City to continue on with their mayhem of participation in violence, turf wars, prostitution, and overall crime as is the norm. Except for one place…

The Happy Hotel: A place where demons will be redeemed…if they want to, that is. Several patrons have made the hotel their home, mostly for the free rent. Among them is Crymini and Baxter. Cherri, while not a patron, would occasionally visit Angel and stay for a few days.

While no one has been redeemed yet, Charlie was thrilled to see willing participants. She bounced up and down, audible squeaking noise could be heard.

"Somebody's happy." Vaggie commented with a smile.

"Yes I am." Charlie said.

Vaggie giggled. "Clearly. I never thought we'd actually get any patients, but a baker's dozen isn't so bad."

"Their first accomplishment is that they're at least trying!" Charlie said.

"Yes, but the real hurdle has only begun." The Princess of Hell heard a radio static hum in the tune of 'Ain't Misbehaven' from a certain deer demon in red as he strode by.

"Ye of little faith, my dear Alastor." Charlie said in a faux British accent. "Just you wait, we'll be redeeming souls in no time! What could go wro—" An explosion could be heard from outside. "…I could feel that happening as soon as I said that." Another explosion happened, blowing off the doors.

Niffty, who was about to change a sign that says '09 Days Since Last Time the Hotel Was Attacked' to '10' days, when the airborne door sends her flying, taking the '1' with her and leaving the '0'.

"Of fucking course." Vaggie muttered, brandishing her spear.

"Everyone, stay inside!" Charlie advised at her patients. She goes to follow Vaggie, Cherri, and Alastor outside. Before them was another mechanical contraption constructed by a certain dapper snake.

"Hahaha! Attention, lowly hazbins! I, Sir Pentious, have returned to exact my revenge on the fool who dared—"

"Sooo, how long is this speech going to be?" Charlie asked Cherri as Sir Pentious prattled on.

"I dunno. Last time he did one of his monologues, I was watching a viral video of some guy doin' the cinnamon challenge on my phone. By the time it was over, Edgelord wasn't done yet." Cherri said.

"—and once I have you my merciless clutches, I will take out your entrails and use them as décor for the torture chamber. Furthermore, I will then—"

"I'm beginning understand how annoyed Pikachu every time Jessie and James was trying to snatch him away." Vaggie said

"Pardon?" Alastor asked, genuinely confused.

"Long story."

"—and then, it won't be long when you start begging me, Sir Pentious, for mercy! Ha-ha-ha!" Sir Pentious laughed evilly. His Egg Bois all applaud.

"What an amazing speech, boss!" #12 said.

"Yeah, it makes me wanna go do…all that stuff you said." #36 said. Sir Pentious resisted the urge to roll his eyes.

"Then, let's rumble! Shall we?" the snake demon said, pushing forward two levers. Large drills began to twirl as the inventor laughed.

Cherri tosses up a grenade. "Too easy." She pulls the pin and throws the explosive at the machine. It detonated and made the large contraption topple over. Sir Pentious hisses in anger. He turns several knobs and his machine climbs back to its feet.

"That was a lucky move, wench! But let's how you fair with my twin corkscrews!"

"That's what he said!" Angel exclaimed.

"WILL YOU STOP THAT!" Two of his drills lunge forward. Alastor snaps his fingers and like what happened on his first day at the Happy Hotel, tentacles appeared to grab the machine. Sir Pentious, along with some of his Egg Bois, were able to escape. They watch as the tendrils coil around his latest invention.

"What do we do now, boss?" #13 asked frantically. His superior smirk and brandished a remote from his jacket.

"What we do is to make an exit with ssstyle!" Sir Pentious said. He presses the button and the machine explodes. Everyone ducks and cover as pieces of the machine fall. Sir Pentious uses this to escape with the remainder of his minions. "This won't be the last you hear from me! I will return with an invention more dastardly, more torturous, and more evil than you can possibly imagINE!" He somehow trips over.

"Are you alright, bossman?" #23 asked. The other Egg Bois move to help Sir Pentious up, but the snake man pushes them away.

"I'm fine, you idiots!" he shouted. "Now, let's go!"

Charlie moves Alastor's outstretched arm, poised in front of her, down as she watches the snake escape.

"Well, that was interesting!" Alastor said as he moves away from Charlie and adjusted his jacket.

"Fucker gets more annoying every time." Angel mumbled.

Vaggie notices Charlie's thoughtful look. "Charlie?"

"Hm?"

"Is something wrong?" Vaggie asked.

"What? Oh, no. It's nothing." Charlie assured. She glances over where Sir Pentious and the Egg Bois were. "Actually, I think it's kinda sweet that those egg guys care for their boss…even though he doesn't do the same for them."

"They're a buncha yolk for brains." Angel said. "I don't think there's much going on in their heads."

"I can attest to that, since I like blew up over half of them more times then I give a fuck." Cherri said.

"Ah, blind loyalty." Alastor mused. "Truly, a lost art of idiocy. Baring no sense of insight or reasoning, only listening to orders given to them, to the letter. Although, I guess it would make for easy pickings for henchmen. If they do not have such tunnel vision, then one could be at risk of being—"

"You're stabbed in the back!" Crymini exclaimed.

"?...Well, I wouldn't say that." Alastor shrugged. "I was thinking more of—"

"No, dude. She meant it literally! Look!" Cherri exclaimed.

Alastor turns his head to see a large metal shard stuck into his lower back, blood seeping into his clothes, making his already red coat a darker shade. "…Oh."

"Oh? Oh?! What do ya mean 'Oh'?! You're stabbed in the fuckin' back!" Angel said.

"Ah-ah-ah, be careful. Remember the rule of 3!"

"There's nothin' funny about this, Al! You were hit! You are hurt!"

"Do you need any help getting that out?" Charlie asked, visibly concerned.

"No, no. It's completely fine, my dear. I've got this." He reaches his arm back and pulls out the shard. A sharp feedback resonated from Alastor from the unexpected pain, but it only lasted half a second before anyone could notice it. "See? Good as new!" he said, tossing the bloody shard away.

Vaggie eyed the blood dripping from the hem of his jacket. "You're still bleeding."

Alastor waves a dismissive hand. "Nothing to fret about, my dear. It'll heal in no time. Tis a simple flesh wound." He takes out a pocket watch. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be at my radio tower. Have a nice day, everyone." With a snap of his fingers, he was gone.

"…Still thought it was a good idea to let him in?" Vaggie deadpanned.

"Hey, I didn't let him in." Charlie said. "He came in on his own."

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Charlie struggles to push a large chunk of debris outside. Thankfully, one of the hotel's patrons, a large blue reptilian demon, assisted her. "Thanks." She sees the other patrons helping each other, a sight that warmed up her heart. She could also see Niffty, fit as a fiddle after being hit by the hotel's door–again– and is now sprinting around and cleaning anything her big eye spotted. Husk, being Husk, is lazing behind the bar. Angel, begrudgingly, helps clean up, not without an earful from Vaggie.

A tiny, demony bat flies into the hotel, holding a letter in its claw. It releases the envelope into Charlie's hands before flying off. She looks at the letter, spotting her name in cursive writing. She carefully tears it open to see the letter.

You are cordially invited to Madame Agatha's annual masquerade ball located at Hellfire Hall. The ball will be underway in a week from now. There will be food, drinks, and entertainment for your leisure. You may bring two guests to accompany you.

Madame Agatha? Charlie's heard of her. She's lesser known as an Overlord but is notorious for her extravagant parties. Only demons with an invitation could attend such parties. Charlie grew excited, having to have never been invited to such parties. And she has the privilege to bring two of her friends. Vaggie is a definite yes, but who could be her second pick? Maybe Angel? He has been in his best behavior lately, so maybe Charlie could reward him by taking him to the ball. Now, it leaves one question:

Who's going to watch the hotel?

While Charlie wanted to go, she can't leave the building unintended. What if Sir Pentious returns and attacks the patients? Perhaps she could call Alastor to see if he could hold the fort while they go. It's alright if he can't. Charlie can easily cancel it. All she needs to do is ask him when he returns to the hotel.

Chapter Text

"A party?" Angel asked. "We've been invited to Agatha's party?"

"I know, right?" Charlie excitedly. "I was never invited to one before. And I get to take you guys too! This is so exciting!"

"Really? You?" Angel questioned. "The princess of Hell was never invited?"

Charlie smiled sheepishly. "Being the demon princess of a place where they don't give a shit about royalty doesn't come with a lot of perks."

"Oh, yeah." Angel he answers his hellphone when it started ringing. "Yello?...Sugar?...Sugar…Calm down, Sugar Cube. I can't tell what you're sayin'. Back up a bit. What happened ta Honey?…" Vaggie and Charlie exchanged glances. "…Oh, is that all? She's gonna be fine, Sugar…yeah, she's done it before. It's kinda her kink…No biggie. Maybe you can repay me later?" Angel said suggestively. He hears Vaggie clearing her throat. Oh, he forgot that she was still there. "Aaanyways, catch ya later?" He hangs up and turns to the very confused female demons. "What?"

"What was all that about?" Vaggie asked.

"Is everything okay?" Charlie asked, visibly concerned.

"Yeah, everything's fine." Angel said. "That was Sugar Cube, a new hooker fresh inta Hell. He just stumbled on the aftermath of Honey's bloodplay."

"Should I?" Vaggie asked herself. "Oh, what the hell. Angel, what bloodplay?"

"That depends, what do ya wanna know?" Angel asked, being coy.

"What happened to Honey?"

Angel clicks his tongue in disappointment. "Honey likes bloodplay and one of her favorite activities is to have sex in a tub full of blood."

"Ugh." Vaggie gagged.

"Ewww." Charlie cringed.

"Apparently, one of her clients kinda got too zealous." Angel said. "Sugar found her face down in the tub."

"Holy heaven. Will she be okay?" Charlie asked.

"Oh, yeah. She'll be fine." Angel said. "So, about the party. Are we goin' or what?"

"If I can get Alastor to watch the hotel, then we'll be set." Charlie said.

"Good luck with that." Vaggie scoffed. "That shitlord isn't going to give a damn about us going to a party."

"Come on, Vaggie, I'm sure that he won't mind." Charlie said.

Vaggie rubs her temple. How is it possible that there is someone so trusting here in Hell? "…Okay. But, don't get your hopes up, hon."

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While Charlie was careful to not trust Alastor 100 percent, she can't help but worry when he hadn't come by for nearly a week. He'd usually call in on the third day of his absence to give her an update and when he'll be returning to the hotel. There had been no such call from the vintage telephone set in the main lobby and the princess of Hell was starting to grow concern for the Radio Demon. She even tried to call him, but there was no answer.

"This is so bullshit~! I wanna go to that party!" Angel whined. "You should've seen the look on Cherri's face when I told her where I'll be going! She won't let me hear the end of it if she heard we had ta cancel!"

"I knew that fucking pendijo wouldn't let us go." Vaggie growled.

"Now, now. We don't know that, yet." Charlie reassured. She grew thoughtful. "It is strange…He's always so punctual…" Charlie walks over to the bar where Husk is wiping glasses. "Husk? You knew Alastor for a long time, right?"

"Regrettably." Husk answered as he inspects a wine glass for any smudges.

"Right. Anyways, do you have any idea what he could be doing?" Charlie asked.

Husk shrugs. "Why the fuck should I know? I ain't his keeper. He could be double-dead for all I care." Angel giggled at 'double-dead', apparently happy someone used that term.

"But…" Charlie muttered, looking downtrodden. An unwelcomingly familiar ping shot through Husk's chest.

He grunts a sigh. "Look, if it means so much to ya, then why not go check on 'im. He should be at his tower."

"You really think so?" Charlie asked, her eyes shining. "Thanks, Husker! Razzle, Dazzle! Get the car started!" The winged feline watched as Charlie ran out the door.

It wasn't long until he facepalmed. "What the fuck is wrong with me?" he asked himself.

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After what felt like hours, Alastor emerges from his shadows for the second time today, and the tenth time over the last few days and he's still feels fatigued, even though the wound on his back is almost healed. That's another issue. The gash made from that piece of metal was taking its time healing and it was aggravating the red stag. This type of wound would go away in a day or two and, to speed up his healing, Alastor would retreat into his shadows. It also helps to prevent any possible sneak attacks. Not that anyone was bold or stupid enough to do so, but it doesn't hurt to be cautious.

He stretches his limbs and back to get rid of any kinks, all the while being mindful to his mending back wound. While it is merely a sliver now, he doesn't want to risk it. He forgoes putting on his jacket and gloves and headed over to his desk where a letter laid. After taking a mug of black coffee on his way to his desk, he picks up the paper with his free hand, his eyes scanning the words of the letter again like he did before.

It was the invitation to Agatha's ball. Not that he was surprised, he's been invited many times before. He has met Agatha face to face. A lovely gal she is with a sharp tongue he finds endearing. Unfortunately, he's going to have to decline going. With this festering wound, he can't possibly attend and run the risk of someone seeing him in such a state.

Alastor moves to take a sip of his coffee when there was knock. He already knew who it was before he even answered the door. "Ah, Charlie! What a pleasant surprise! Please, come in, my dear! What brings you to my humble abode on this fine evening?"

"I came by to check to see if you were okay." Charlie answered as she entered the stag's home. She scans around. It's a little bigger on the inside than the outside. Then again, this is the home of the Radio Demon.

"For what reason?" Alastor asked.

"You didn't call the hotel if you were going to be away longer and you didn't answer any of my calls. I was worried." The look on Charlie's face was genuine. How she's the princess of Hell is beyond Alastor.

"Apologies, my dear. I believe that I was not available when you tried to contact me and I'm afraid my thoughts to give you an update escaped me." He wasn't going to tell Charlie how he is still recovering from the attack few days prior. The girl was already worried as she is and Alastor didn't have the energy to deal with her insistent meddling. "I can guarantee to you that I am right as rain!"

Charlie looked skeptical. "Are you sure? You look tired and you have bags under your eyes."

Red eyes blink once. "I do?" Alastor summons his microphone and turns it into a hand mirror. He studies his face, now noticing dark crescents underneath his eyes. With a black, sharp finger, Alastor feels the slightly sagging skin. "…Curious…" he muttered. The recovery process is taking a lot out of him more than he realized.

The hotel's founder stared at him for a moment before she noticed the letter on Alastor's desk. "You were invited too?" Charlie asked with a bright smile.

"Indeed, I was, sweetheart." Alastor said, dispelling the mirror. "This would be my 27th attendance to such a ball an—" Alastor stopped in mid-sentence, a slight feedback followed in response. "…You were summoned as well?"

"Uh-huh! I couldn't believe it!" Charlie said, giddily. "I never got an invitation before. Wait, then who's going to watch the hotel?"

Alastor opened his mouth to say he would, as he planned on not going, but a thought occurred to him. A suspicious thought. Instead, he said, "I'm sure we can figure something out so the both of us can enjoy this annual get together!"

"Really?"

"Yes, indeedy! Now, let's mosey over to Rosie's Emporium!"

"Why there?"

"This is a masquerade ball, darling! A costume party as the youngsters would call it!" Alastor said. "What better place in Hell to find everything we need than at Rosie's shop? That and I have a discount. Now that's been settled, let us be going!"

Chapter Text

Charlie stood still as best as she could so Rosie’s little minions can take her measurements. It was an uneasy process, while the minions are adorable in one way or another, what made them more terrifying was their void eyes—like their master—and razor-sharp teeth. Even their incoherent babble sounded menacing. And let’s not forget what they did to Franklin after she was killed by Exterminators.

The little gremlins ambled away after they finished, and Charlie gingerly lower her arms down and went to go sit with Vaggie on the side.

Rosie bends down to take the measurements her minions made. “Thank you, my dear. Now, do please go to the back and prepare.” The minions scamper off in droves, the hotel crew and Angel back away to stay out of their path. “Alastor, will you please accompany me to my office?”

“It will be my pleasure, dear.” Alastor said. He offers his arm to Rosie and she slid her arm through.

“Still a gentleman I see.” Alastor’s response was a chuckle and the two head for Rosie’s office, leaving everyone else in the main lobby.

Angel smirked. “I wonder what’s the story between them two?”

“If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, then I don’t think so.” Vaggie said.

“Aw, come one, Vags. Use some imagination.” Angel said. “Yeah, sure, Al is ace and aro, but where’s the fun in that? You should read some of Niffty’s fics. She’s even made some raunchy ones with Al and Charlie.” The moth demon glares at the little cyclops. Niffty only grinned.

Vaggie looks over at Charlie, who seems to be in her thoughts. “Penny for your thoughts?”

“Huh? Oh, no. I was just thinking. Is everyone excited for the ball?” Charlie asked.

“Need ta ask?” Angel asked rhetorically. “I’ve been to one Agatha’s parties and it was a blast!”

“You were given an invitation?” Vaggie asked skeptically.

“Pffft, no. It was Val. I was able to go because I was a good boy bringin’ in cash and he let go with him.” Angel said. He leans over to Husk. “Wanna hear about it~?”

“Take a nosedive in the Azathoth Abyss.” Husk grunted.

Angel shrugged and checked his nails. “So, back to Al and Rose. Think they’re doin’ it?”

“For fuck’s sakes, Angel, no! They’re not!” Vaggie exclaimed. “It’s apparent that they’re close. But not that close. Whatever they’re doing is probably Overlord related things.”

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“Remove your jacket, vest and shirt at once.” Rosie ordered.

“…I beg your pardon?” Alastor asked.

“Did I stutter? I can see where your jacket is stitched up. A rather hasty job. I’ll ask again and no more.” Rosie said. “Remove them. Now.” Apprehensively, Alastor did what he is told. He removes the three articles of clothing, revealing the vest-like fur covering his chest and upper back. “Good, now turn around, will you?” Alastor does so. Rosie lowers down, her empty pits for eyes gazing at the stitched wound on the stag’s back. It looks close to healing, but not fast enough for her liking. She gently prods near the sight of injury and a tensed feedback responded in her action. Rosie hums thoughtfully. “What were you doing, Alastor, that would allow such an injury?”

“Whatever do you mean?” Alastor asked. Rosie takes him by his chin so they could see eye to eye. Alastor glared at her, but she wasn’t deterred.

“I may not have been directly involved when you rose up the ranks and became an Overlord, but I was involved in your first steps.” Rosie said. “And I am sure that the Alastor I knew wouldn’t have let an attack land on him so easily. I ask again: What were you doing? Still gallivanting at that hotel, I assume?”

“Well, it has become a great source of entertainment, my dear.” Alastor said as he moves from Rosie to retrieve his shirt and vest and puts them back on. “As for an answer to your earlier question, it was a mere unforeseen outcome. The wound isn’t even that serious.”

“And it has yet to heal.” Rosie pointed out. “And you look like oblivion.”

“Oh, enough about me. Let’s talk about you.” Alastor said cheerfully, changing the subject as discreetly as possible. “Were you given an invitation to Madame Agatha’s ball?”

“Indeed, I did.” Rosie answered. “But I’ll be going by myself, I’m afraid, now that Franklin is erased. Although, given the number of customers you have brought to me, something tells me that has to change.”

“Fret not, my dear.” Alastor said. “It would seem that the princess was able to procure an invitation of her own.”

Rosie raises a brow. “Has she now? I thought Agatha loathed the girl.”

“As did I.” Alastor said. “If I recall, she sees Charlie as a nuisance.”

“Is that why you are letting her go, Alastor?” Rosie asked. “To protect the little princess?”

A dense radio static filled the air despite Alastor’s cheery demeanor. “Ha-ha! Of course not. I am only curious as to what Agatha is planning. Charlie is only the bait. If anything were happened to her, then what would become of my new source of enjoyment and leisure?”

“…Hmph. If you say so.” Rosie said. “You know, Alastor, have I ever told you why I took you underneath my wing all those years ago?”

Alastor hums as he rubs his chin, thinking. “I believe it was to stir up the monotony that Hell has become, yes?”

“Yes, that is correct.” Rosie confirmed. “I have grown jaded of Hell as it was. Of how…dull it grew. Doesn’t that sound odd? Then, you arrived and after what you did during the Cleansing that year further piqued my interest of you.”

“Well, I must say that I am flattered.” Alastor chuckled.

A surprisingly gentle smile appeared on Rosie’s face. “Curiously, after all this time, my thoughts of you have become more…unconditional.”

Alastor raises a brow quizzically. “What do you mean?”

“…It is nothing, dear.” Rosie asked. “Nothing at all.”

Alastor huffed. “Someone seems out of sorts without their partner around.” he muttered.

“What was that?” Rosie asked.

“Nothing, my dear.”

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It took some time but the groups outside were finally finished. Despite their stature, Rosie’s minions did a fine job with the formal attires, each designed to the specific needs and personal preferences of their soon-to-be wearers.

Charlie’s gown is surprisingly simple, for royalty at least. It is a coral pink halter dress with a black neckline and hem and red apples are embroidered around the hem. A black bolero jacket with an eye design on the back, sash, short gloves, and pumps added nicely to the dress. The mask for it is coral pink with black feathers and little horns. Vaggie’s one-shoulder dress is a dark-gray slate color with ‘X’’s and pink ribbons and slate gray flats and arm gloves. Her dark gray mask is like the wings of a moth at rest. The outfit for Niffty is a sunshine yellow cocktail dress with hot pink lines and a hot pink choker. Her mask is a yellow color with pink sparkles.

After some pestering, Angel’s outfit turned out as flamboyant and flashy as it could be without being gaudy. It’s a short, rose pompadour/dark gray vintage corset dress with dusty rose stockings and black heeled boots and evening gloves with dusty rose corsages. The mask for the outfit is black with a large rose-colored feather. While being the only men wearing tuxes, it didn’t make Alastor and Husk’s attires any less amazing. Alastor’s clothes look like it came from a Mardi Gras celebration. A red swallowtail coat over a white dress shirt and a vest with a dark red/red/light red diamond pattern, black trousers and dress shoes. With it is a dark red top hat with a skull and black hair-like feathers and the mask has a dark red/red/light red diamond pattern and black feathers on the sides. Husk’s tux is playing card themed with a top hat having a diamond, spade, heart, and a clover.

Charlie looks at the outfits with starry eyes. “They look a-mazing!”

“Eh.” Angel said, making a so-so gesture. Vaggie elbows his side, earning a glare at her direction from the spider. The moth girl, however, shifts her eyes at Rosie’s minions with a look of warning. Angel glances over at the gremlins. Baring little to no expression, it’s difficult to determine their emotions. But, having those black hole eyes and sharp teeth would make anyone uneasy about their choice of words. “…Uhhh, I mean, good job! Really good job! I love it!”

“You out did yourself, Rosie.” Alastor praised. Subtly, Rosie narrowed her eyes at him.

“A benefit of being down here are the challenges of making clothes for the diverse body types of every demon.” Rosie said. “Much like how Alastor here finds enjoyment in your adorable hotel, I find pleasure in the tasks of the dress. The more complex the demon the more fun.” Tiny drops of black liquid drip from her fanged smile at the last word. If there was any doubt of her alliance with Alastor, that doubt is now nonexistent.

“I can’t thank you enough, Rosie.” Charlie said. “Will we be seeing you at the party?”

“But, of course.” Rosie said. “In fact, I’m looking forward to it. With you lot there, it is bound to be a party we’ll never forget.” Her gaze meets Alastor’s. “Wouldn’t you agree?”

With no one else noticing, Alastor’s eyes glowed dimly. “Indubitably.”

Chapter Text

The day of the masquerade ball has finally come and Charlie could hardly contain herself. She bounced on her seat in tandem with her beating heart, she and the others are in her limo, on their way to Agatha's mansion. A small smile formed on Vaggie's lips, amused by her girlfriend.

"You might wanna calm down, Charlie, before you burst into confetti." Vaggie said, readjusted her love's mask. Vaggie's hair put in a bun and Charlie's blonde hair was kept in place by hairbands with thorns.

"I know, but I can't help it!" the princess said.

Angel runs his fingers through his hair, the plume of his is styled back. "As for me, I can't wait to strut my stuff."

"Just keep it clean while we're there." Vaggie said.

"Are you kiddin'? You haven't been to any parties ever since you manifested down here, huh?" Angel said. "Every party in Hell can get hot and steamy. Orgies and all that. Agatha's no different."

"Listen here, you hijo de puta." Vaggie growled, looking ready to strangle the spider if need be. "If you jeopardize the hotel's credibility again—" Charlie smile meekly as Vaggie reprimands an uncaring Angel. Her smile turns genuine at the sight of Niffty a sleeping Husk's tail feathers.

Her eyes land on Alastor and her smile disappeared. The red stag leaned near the side table, his elbow resting on it and a hand to his forehead. And…if Charlie didn't know any better, the taller demon's complexion is a few shades lighter. Thankfully, the dark crescents seem to have disappeared from below his eyes. Charlie glances over at the others, seeing that they're occupied at the moment, so she carefully moves over to the Radio Demon's side. Said demon sensed her approach and immediately straighten himself up.

"Excited for the party, Charlie?" he asked, keeping up his cheery self. Charlie was taken aback at the sudden shift.

"U-Um…Yeah, I am." she said. She sits down next to Alastor. "What's the party like? It's not gonna have a lot of that orgy stuff Angel was talking about, right?"

"If there were, I would have never attended." Alastor said. "I would assume that the sexual indulgence occurs in a different room. Madame Agatha enjoys formality and only allowed the voluptuous activities to continue so as long as they happened somewhere else that isn't the section of the mansion where the slumber chambers are in or where the party is taking place."

Charlie sighs in relief. "I see. That's good to hear. I hope I make a good impression."

"And why is that, my dear?"

"Well, I wanted to thank her for inviting me." Charlie said. Alastor's red eyes narrowed slightly.

"…Hmmm…" Alastor hummed thoughtfully, radio noises shifted.

"Hey." Vaggie said, getting his attention. "You sure that the hotel is going to be okay with us?"

"Is that all you think about, dear? There is nothing to worry about!"

"And you're sure of it?"

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A single sinner was strolling by the hotel's outer gates, minding his own business, when a large, shadowy monstrosity appeared and let out a hellish roar. The shock from its sudden appearance caused the poor demon to go into cardiac arrest and collapse.

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"I assure you, my dear." Alastor said. "The hotel is very much protected."

Vaggie glared at him. The limousine slowed to a halt, having to arrive at Agatha's mansion. A baroque building with a dark color loomed over them as they exited the automotive. They walk across the velvet carpet and into the foyer, where the other attendees waited. The party goers were talking among themselves, some already on the verge of drunkenness.

"So…what now?" Charlie asked Alastor awkwardly.

"For now, chatter among yourselves as we wait for Agatha to begin the ball at full swing!" Alastor said. He trots off. "Have fun~"

"That guy is annoying." Vaggie said. Niffty's single eye locks in on an exceptionally good-looking man and zips over to where he is. As for Husk, he just saunters away to look for the nearest waiter offering champagne. Vaggie sighs to herself. What a motley crew they have. She sees Angel walking away. "And where do you think you're going?"

"You heard Al. Let's mingle." Angel said.

"Do I even want to know your definition of the word is?" Vaggie asked exasperatedly.

Charlie couldn't help but smile at their quarrel. If Charlie didn't know any better, she'd think they were siblings in life. It almost made her envious. She wishes to have a sibling one day. Maybe she can ask her mother… Charlie takes the moment to look around at everyone and their clothes. Once demoness she noticed was a little familiar looking, her long burgundy pigtails giving Charlie a since familiarity.

"Ugh, what's taking her so long." a female demon complained. A demon that sound very familiar, unfortunately. Despite the mask, Charlie could recognize Katie Killjoy, accompanying her is a disgruntled Tom Trench holding a camera. Greeaat… "Big scoop or not, I'm wasting valuable time here."

"Oh, shit." Charlie muttered.

"Are you fucking with me?" Vaggie cursed.

"What's getting' your panties in a twist?" Angel asked. "This is a masquerade ball. What are the odds she'll even realize it's us?"

Vaggie stared at him pointedly. "An 8-foot-tall spider demon drag queen with a fluffy chest is a dead giveaway." She takes Angel and Charlie by their arms. "Let's move to somewhere else."

Someone let out a yelp when they bumped into Charlie. "Oh my gosh. I'm sorry! Are you okay?" she asked as she helps the person up.

"Jól. I wasn't paying attention." It was a female demon dressed in an old fashioned dress, with the shirt part a dark shade of red and the skirt portion black with laces around the U-neck neckline that reaches to her neck, laces on the cuffs of her sleeves, and swirls all across her skirt. A lace masquerade mask laid over her eyes, purple sclera with red pupils and her black/gray hair is curled and put in a low side ponytail. "Thank you. My name is Regina."

"You're welcome and my name is Charlie. It's nice to meet you." Charlie said.

"Surprise, surprise. The sinner-lover is helping a lowly sinner. You don't even need to take off the mask for me to know it's you."

"Helsa." Charlie growled.

"Charlie." Helsa said with equal amount of venom.

"Botis." Vaggie growled at Helsa's brother and Charlie's ex.

"Tch."

"Pray tell, little princess, how did you get invited?" Helsa hissed, the eyes in her hair glare at Charlie menacingly.

"Like everyone else, I had mine delivered to me." Charlie said.

Helsa chuckled haughtily. She shifts her eyes at Vaggie. "And it seems you've brought your personal pussy with you." Vaggie glare grew more heated, her hands clenched to keep herself from pouncing on the Hellborn. "And…" Helsa turns to Angel. She blinks, as though she's trying to process what she is seeing. She then starts laughing. Angel narrowed his mismatched at her. "Did you really think it was a good idea to bring this whore here?"

"He improved greatly at the hotel and became a valuable member. As a reward, I decided to take him too." Charlie said with confidence.

"Valuable member?" Helsa mocked. "That depends on how much green and white he's getting." She wiggled her brows for emphasis. "Right, Botis?"

Botis was staring at Angel's figure when he heard his sister talk him and snaps out of it. "Uh, yeah." Angel winks.

Helsa looks at the watch on her wrist. "Oh, look at the time. I best be going. Come along, Botis."

"Yeah, yeah." Botis follows his sister, Angel blows a kiss at his direction.

Charlie lets out a breath. Dealing with Helsa is tiring.

"Um…" Regina started.

"O-Oh! Sorry about that, Regina." Charlie apologized. "I wish you didn't have to see that."

"Nem, nem! It's fine." Regina said.

Loud claps silenced the party goers as they all glance up on the top of the stairway. Hellborn demon Agatha is a tall, imposing figure in an elaborate gown, a wide brimmed hat with a large feather, and a mask over her sharp eyes. She smiles, smirks really, at the people below her.

"Welcome all to my annual soiree! I know you are all eager to, as the young ones will say these days, cut loose at your heart's contents. So, with no more delays," Agatha raises her arm, "let's begin." With a snap of her fingers, several tables filled with food and drinks, musicians, and more waiters appeared. The crowd responded to the display with applause and cheers.

Agatha smirks.

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Among the applause, Alastor directed his red gaze at the Hellborn demoness descending from the stairs.

"What are you planning, my dear?" he muttered, the radio noise around him tenses up.

Chapter Text

Despite some hiccups, Charlie started to enjoy the party. For the past hour or so, she's been having a nice time speaking with some of the attendees. Some demons did slyly mock her for her project, but there were a few sinners interested in redemption, so it was a plus. She also did do everything in her power to avoid Katie, as she didn't want to deal that crackety woman. Another positive thing is her new friend, Regina. The two hit it off pretty well after Charlie's unpleasant encounter with her rival.

"Have you ever watched 'Murdered…With Wife'?" Regina asked.

"I…think I've seen my dad watch it at home." Charlie answered. "He gets a good laugh at it."

"I'll say." Regina said. "I'd recommend it for you to give a try. It's really good for what it is. One of my favorite episodes was about an old rival scorned by the husband and concocted a plan to humiliate him."

"Isn't that just a tiny bit extreme?" Charlie asked awkwardly.

"Perhaps. But, what would you expect from a sitcom?" Regina asked.

"I guess…" Charlie takes a moment look for the others. The guy Niffty laid her eyes looked incredibly uncomfortable with her in his personal space, Husk is somewhere in the corner downing dozens of alcohol, Vaggie stuck to Angel's side to prevent any and all sexual related rendezvous, and Alastor…is no where to be seen. Where did he went off to? Maybe he's somewhere else in the building.

"Charlie?"

"Oh! Sorry, Reggie. Did you say something?" Charlie asked.

"Not really. You just zoned out for a moment." Regina said.

"Yeah. I was just checking on my friends."

Regina rubs her arms awkwardly. "So…is it true? About the Radio Demon sponsoring your hotel?"

Charlie opens her mouth to answer, but someone appears behind her and interrupts. "That's good question!" Katie exclaimed, startling the princess. "Is it true? Better yet, how did you manage to get the Radio Demon to work for you?" Charlie flinches when Tom thrust his camera towards her.

Her gaze moves from the camera and at Katie to and fro before she mentally prepared herself. With a stern glare, Charlie said to the shrewd news reporter, "He's not working for me. He's working with me. With all of us. He may not believe in our cause, but he took time to keep the Hotel Hotel afloat."

"Oh, really?" Katie challenged smugly. "Are you sure about that, little miss demon princess? To an Overlord like Alastor, you and your shamble of a hotel is nothing more than a plaything. Once he's bored of you, he'll throw you away. Like an unwanted toy ready for the scrapyard. And what would happen to that hotel yours when he does leave, hm?" Her words struck a chord somewhere in Charlie's mind. Whatever show of confidence she had in her quickly diminished by Katie's words. "I can't wait to see the look on your face when it happens." Katie laughs cruelly as she walks away, Tom following close behind.

"Charlie?" Regina spoke up, worried for Charlie. She gripped her fists and bit her lower lip.

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"So, this is where you've been." Rosie said, finding her fellow Overlord down a hallway somewhere in the mansion. "Being sneaky, our we?"

"Ha-ha-ha! You know me so well." Alastor joked. "I was going to look for anything that could assist me in my search for Agatha's schemes, but many rooms here are occupied for trysts, unfortunately. How have you fared?"

"I too was not successful, thanks to the lustful youths." Rosie said. She walks closer to Alastor. Even in the darkened halls, Rosie could see the state Alastor is in clearly. Despite his mask, she could see he is still fighting back some fatigue. "Are you still recovering?"

"I haven't the slightest idea of what you are referring to!" Alastor said, feigning ignorance.

"Skirt around your physical ailments as much as you like, Alastor." Rosie said sarcastically. "Why are going great lengths to protect that hotel?"

"As I said before, it is a source great entertainment." There was a long silence. "…It won't be long until the waltz commences. We best return as to not arouse suspicion." Alastor turns around. "Shall we?"

"…Let's."

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Vaggie is a woman of passion. If someone rubs her the wrong way or even looks at her funny, she'd give them one hell of a lashing, from using her language to her spear. If anyone gives Charlie crap, they'll get the same treatment. Right now, as she dances with her royal girlfriend, she pondered on who made Charlie look so solemn.

"You were so excited about being here, hon. What happened?" Vaggie asked over the waltz music.

"Hm? It's nothing, Vaggie." Charlie denied as she twirled the moth demon.

When Vaggie faced Charlie again, she asked, "Was it the Von Eldritch siblings?"

"No, it wasn't them."

"Was it Killjoy?" Vaggie inquired. Charlie's farrowed brows and lack of answer told Vaggie enough. "That punta surely does live up to her name. What did she say?" Charlie sighs before she looks to the side. Vaggie follows her gaze to see a certain stag in red waltzing with his equally smiling dance partner. "Alastor? What did she say about Alastor?"

"She…She told me how Alastor's assistance is only temporary and it's only a matter of time before he grows tired of us." Charlie said. "What do you think, Vaggie?...Vaggie?"

"…Hon, you are sweet and trusting, but even you know how shifty Alastor can be." Vaggie said. "I hate to admit it—trust me, I do—but Killjoy is right. We're nothing but tools to him for his sick pleasure." With the thought weighing heavy on Charlie's thoughts, she looks over at the Radio Demon again, as did Vaggie. What the moth demon said next surprises Charlie. "What's been going on with him anyway? He looked anemic."

"Ane-what?" Charlie asked.

"It's a condition where there are too little red blood cells in the body. I'm not sure if there is a Hell version of anemia, but the shitlord looks like he's got it."

"What could cause it?" Charlie asked.

"A lot of things could cause anemia, mostly from blood loss." Charlie thought back when Sir Pentious attacked the hotel and the resulting battle caused Alastor to get hurt. Is he still wounded from the battle?

She needs to get to the bottom of this.

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"You are too stiff, Alastor." Rosie criticized. "If you don't loosen up, your next dance partner will grow suspicious. Is your almost-healing wound still healing?" Alastor responds to the quip with a glowing glare and grinning teeth.

Rosie feels a tap on her shoulder. "Um…Rosie?"

"Ah, Ms. Magne. Is there something you need?" Rosie asked.

"If it's okay, do you mind me dancing with Alastor?" the princess asked.

"By all means. Do treat her well, Alastor." Rosie ignores the radio man's glare as she walks off. His eyes soften significantly at Charlie. He offers her his hand.

"Shall we, my dear?" Alastor offered. Charlie nods and takes his hand. They ease into the familiar steps of the waltz. As they danced, Charlie has been thinking of what to say to Alastor first. She also noticed a slight stiffness in his steps, which is strange due to how mobile the Overlord can be. Vaggie did tell her about the symptoms of anemia, one of them being fatigue.

"Alastor?"

"Hm?"

"Are you feeling okay?" Charlie asked.

"Yes. Why do you ask?"

Before Charlie could ask another question, she noticed Agatha walking over to them. Alastor did too. From the sidelines, Vaggie watched. Her hand twitched, ready to summon a spear if need be. Charlie was wondering what to say to the female Overlord. What should she start first? She needs to calm down first before she gets too giddy, that's one. In her excitement, she nearly missed something. It was subtle, as to not wanted to draw attention, but Alastor's arm was raised in front of her. In a way that seemed…

Protective? It reminded her back a few days ago when Sir Pentious attacked the hotel.

"Al? What are you-?" The lights suddenly shut off. "What?" The other guests started talk amongst themselves.

"Que mierda pasó?" That was Vaggie.

"Okay, what the fuck is goin' on?" That was Angel.

"It's dark, heh-heh-heh-heh," was Niffty's giggly reply.

The lights turn back on and Charlie lets out a gasp in shock. Even Alastor was dumbfounded. "What in the Nine Circles…?"

Agatha laid before them in a pool of blood. The light her half rolled-up eyes had faded and a trickle of blood streamed out of her mouth. Above her was message written in blood.

"'I'm sure the end of this prologue has left you stun. But, now is the time to start with act one." Charlie read. "'In this act, you must find where the crimson tome lay. And then you will see who the predator is and who is the prey.'"

As soon as she finished reading, the lights flickered. The waiters took on a new ghastly form and started to fly around the ballroom, laughing maniacally. Many attendees duck and covered, including Regina, scared out of her wits.

"What's happening? Why is this happening?" Charlie asked. Alastor wanted to know too. His eyes never left the lifeless body of Agatha. What's going on, indeed?