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The Black Swan

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So, Charlotte!”

 

The demon princess flinches when both Katie Killjoy and a blinding spotlight appears out of nowhere and addresses her in a rude manner, not minding her discomfort and confusion because of the unnecessary brashness. Demons always have this horrid audacity towards the sovereigns in Hell, Charlotte thought. But, what the hell? Demons are not good-natured beings. This is right up their alley.

 

Charlotte is painfully used to this unruly treatment and disrespect from her people. Adaptation is a natural instinct when you spend childhood in hell. It's a simpler method to not be repeatedly screwed over by masses of sinners. One thing the princess learned the most is that don’t take shit from other demons. Her father used to tell her that, and Charlotte kept it in mind ever since. 

 

It was a challenging development. Charlotte had to adopt valor in order to cease the bullying, growing vital traits to stand her ground, learning the hard way that most demons do not take kindly to being underestimated. Demons are horrendously conscious of that, even in itty-bitty things. They’re insufferably sensitive, so Charlotte had to double her efforts to at least show that she, too, is someone not to be trifled with.

 

Her good-natured disposition doesn’t support that idea otherwise.

 

“It’s… Charlie.” She corrects.

 

“Whatever,” Katie rolls her eyes. Spontaneously, she pulls out a red pen with a vice grip, and starts toying the object with a deep press on the thrust button. Click. “Tell us about this new 'passion' project you’ve been insistently pestering our news station about!” Click

 

And another small click. The pen is somewhat scarier when possessed by the newscaster, and Charlotte can picture herself being stabbed in the eye. The passing thought is outstandingly convincing and is most likely to happen if ever Killjoy finds Charlie to be an obnoxious nuisance.

 

Charlotte also shares the same sentiment, mind you. She expected the bitchy attitude anyway. It is clear who was the winner between the two of them when it came to tolerating the other.

 

Charlotte can handle it just fine, she can easily dismiss the plastic smile and the ghastly gaze of the newscaster. She’s here for the project, after all. She's waited for this opportunity and she will not waste it. Not after the things she had to go through in this news station; such as nearly setting the building on fire.

 

“Well,” The princess clears her throat and regards her audience, who are all unwilling to give a damn. She almost sighs at the crowd’s obvious boredom and ignorance. “As most of you know, I was born here in Hell and growing up I always try to see the good and everything around me.” A small wriggling creature crawls by the desk in front of Charlotte– she was quietly awed at the sight of it– approaching the demon next to her. “Hell is my home and–” Blood splatters on her left cheek and she dismissively swipes it away with a tiny cringe. Katie killed the poor thing. “You are my people. We… we just went through another extermination.”

 

Her voice almost faltered at that, and she instantly needed something to lift her spirits. With a glance, there’s Vaggie, just by the cameramen. Both make eye contact and the moth demon gladly gives her a big, beaming smile and two proud thumbs up. 

 

Great. I'm doing great.

 

The positive feedback prompts Charlotte to continue with a bit more confidence and to show her people how genuine she is about it. “We lost so many souls and it breaks my heart to see my people slaughtered every year,” She stands up in the heat of the moment. “ No one is giving them a chance!” Then she slams her fist to the desk with utmost frustration, unaware that she caused a jolt beside her. 

 

Charlotte then slides off from the desk going towards the cameras as Katie and the rest of the demons shoot her a confused look. Where is she going? What is she doing, they all wondered.

 

Charlotte isn’t fazed. She continues with conviction, “I can’t stand idly while the place I live is subjected to such violence!” The princess exclaims, before she steps out of the spotlight. The demons idly watching her every move become more and more bemused of what they’re seeing. 

 

“So, I’ve been thinking,” Charlotte says as she eyed her subjects nearby her. “Isn’t there a more humane way to hinder overpopulation here in Hell? Perhaps we can create an alternative way to change souls through… redemption?”

 

Finally mentioning the highlight of the night, Charlotte excitedly holds a crew member against her side. She doesn’t notice the dry stare she was given. “Well, I think yes! So that’s what this project aims to achieve!” She lets go and happily marches back to the desk. “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m opening the first of its kind!” The princess sits down with a joyous smile. “A hotel that rehabilitates–” 

 

Everything goes black with a resounding echo of CLICK .

 

The neon green background, the spotlights, the cameras – the entire studio is consumed by pitch black darkness, baffling every demon in the studio.

 

Hey! What happened?!”

 

“The power cut out!”

 

“Well, no shit!”

 

“It’s dark in here, someone turn on the fucking lights!”

 

Shit hit the metaphorical fan. Chaos ensues. Demons start moving to seek a source of light; guidance for them to go back live. Some dart to the exit for the emergency lights, while others remain unmoving, too wary to move as a feeling of trepidation takes over.

 

A moment later the lights are found to be malfunctioning. The room is drenched in anxiety.

 

“What happened?! How are we going to get back on now?!”

 

“This seems suspicious, I’m leaving!”

 

“Hey! You better sit your ass down–”

 

“How about: fuck you! The last time this place had a blackout, it was attacked by the Radio Demon! He fucking broadcasted mass murder here, remember?! No one in this room was left alive that day! I’m out of here!”

 

“I second that! I’m leaving too!”

 

Posthaste, numerous footsteps erupt, demons leaving the studio altogether in cowardice. Uncertain murmurs from before tune up like a roar: wails of terror, shouting of orders, screams of profanities. The chaotic room doesn't take an inch towards resolution.

 

Recalling the ghastly story of the 1935 broadcast carnage of the infamous radio overlord, Vaggie instantly shifts closer to the stage by the overwhelming urge to protect . She can't help but believe– even for a bit– that it is a possibility. Even though it may not happen, Vaggie has to take precautions, especially when the princess’s safety is at stake. 

 

“Charlie?!” She calls out, a shock of dread curling uncomfortably onto her stomach as she continues to venture through the odiously dark and noisy room with a wary pace. “Are you–“

 

Suddenly, a thick, unfamiliar fuzzy sensation tickles the atmosphere, sending an odd unwelcoming vibe through Vaggie’s spine, somehow violated by the sudden dense foreign aura. A strange power lurks around her threateningly as if to intimidate her. 

 

Vaggie doesn’t recognise the energy, the air felt different and heavy like it had gained weight; if a human were here it would somehow make it harder for them to breathe. Vaggie’s grey skin prickles in unpleasantness before she visibly shudders, and embracing herself from the pressure–

 

A dark force manifests, proceeding to shove Vaggie to the ground. She collapses with a thud as her rear collides painfully against the floor, landing herself to a sprawl, her arms bruised by the impact on the process.

 

What the fuck was that?  

 

Surprised, the moth demon did not acknowledge Razzle and Dazzle helping her up. She almost missed their bleats of anger growling towards something. 

 

The moth demon hadn’t had the chance to react when the lights return in a flash, harshly forcing the demons to readjust their eyesights. 

 

But much to everyone’s confusion, there isn’t a sign of threat or obscenity. It's a relief but Vaggie ignored everything around her. What was that just now? Is Charlie hurt? Swiftly, Vaggie faces the direction of the spotlight, expecting to see her friend sitting at the desk to where she is supposed to be… 

 

Met with nothing, Vaggie froze on the spot. Razzle and Dazzle shared the same confusions. 

 

Katie and Tom blink in surprise at the vacant chair next to them. After a moment of silence, Killjoy began, “Well, well, well,” she sneers. “It seems our princess was scared of the circuit break and ran away!”

 

That’s all it took for the whole room to be bursting with mocking laughter, their joy replaces the apprehension from a moment ago. Hilarious, they find it, like it’s also worth the attention to make fun of despite who it is. Vaggie seethes at this, her fists clenched angrily. How dare they laugh at Charlie?

 

Abruptly, an immense presence molds in front of her. Sprouting from the ground like a flower, an entity emerges to existence. Vaggie sees the face in a flash and she goes rigid.

 

He has high stature, clad from head to toe in white apparel with red accents, featuring a symbol of an apple and a snake curled on its top hat, tilting slightly when he raises his head to look down on the demons before him.

 

Unimpressive, he thinks as he taps his cane onto the ground with a sharp thump thundering to the room, the whole room quieted down in confusion. Vaggie’s mouth hung agape while Razzle and Dazzle stiffly stood beside her.

 

Your Highness. ” Vaggie’s voice wavers as the king’s absolutely livid glare shifts to her direction. With that, she shut her mouth audibly, still looking at him with her one remaining eye.

 

Lucifer Magne approaches the stage, his boots dragging along intense footsteps through the silent crowd. His cane remains behind his back, but Vaggie sees his claws digging deeply to the object as if he is suppressing himself. He seems to fail when walking past the cameras and setting them into flames, causing the crew and bystanders to yelp and step backwards.

 

The King doesn’t pay attention to the two newscasters when he is standing in front of their desk, and instead stares deeply at the seat his daughter used to be on. A deafening silence awkwardly lingers for a moment, then Lucifer faces the crowd, ignoring Tom’s jittering and Katie’s scowl behind him.

 

Vaggie hasn’t seen him behave like this, but she can sense the unhappiness he’s emitting. The king’s usual smile altered menacingly, becoming a jagged facsimile of his usual cheer. It’s startling. His smile doesn’t share mirth, it only bares his white sharp canine, seemingly tempted to dig into flesh and tear the hell out of it.

 

He looks absolutely furious, and after a few moments Vaggie sees red.

Chapter Text

Everything is red.

 

Impressive shades of scarlet, ruby, and vermilion splatters the sky, differing hues of red painted everywhere; not a speckle of Heaven’s calming blues to be found. There must be a black hole here, sucking in all light, all warmth, until it is seen no more. There is nothing to illuminate anything; no sun, no stars, and no Heaven. As if stuck in limbo between life and death, warmth and safety becomes a distant memory.

 

The atmosphere isn't so reassuring either.

 

Red. It is everywhere. It has many meanings: it's a primary color; it represents human assertiveness, daring, and aggressiveness, yet is also associated with emotions like love, determination, or anger. It is the color of passion, and is so deeply integrated in human celebrations: on Valentine's Day, a day of love, or Christmas, a time of cheer.

 

Red is also used in idiomatic expressions, word play, and sometimes slang. It's used as a comment, or a warning

 

It's vital in humans; red flows through their very veins, keeping them alive.

 

Blood. Some fresh and some dried up on the floor, the walls, and all the crevices in between. A killing, perhaps… 

 

It is also a sign of danger and importance. It demands attention. Red alert, like fire engines, or stops signs, or emergency alarms; telling people there’s something to beware of.

 

When it comes to red, something's bound to happen. 

 

The air reeks of death. 

 

A familiar scent. 

 

It recalls memories of the stench lingering in Heaven's air after the Cleansing. When the gates opened for the Exterminators to return, their spears, capable of erasing sinful spirits from existence, are splattered with foul blood. Holy blades stained with dripping gore. It took arduous cleaning to get rid of the awful carnage.

 

The memory abided when the smell still clouded the air. It's suffocating; it stabs your nostrils all the way to your lungs, taking your breath away. All encompassing, it somehow engulfs the life out of you. 

 

Abysmal, atrocious, revolting – the list goes on and on. The air induces an excruciating headache. How is that even possible? Can spiritual beings even get a headache?  

 

No. It's not a good time to question it.

 

Approaching from an alleyway, an angel grimaces when she catches sight of the blood red sky with a large godawful pentagram levitating above the urban city she stumbles upon. 

 

That is no ordinary pentagram. A symbol like that cannot be seen in paradise.

 

Charlotte Magne has endless questions running in her mind; disorganized, confused, and baffled at the same time. Her thoughts slowly kill her composure, leaving her devoid of tranquility.

 

The angel is desperate for meditation or some other reassuring remedy. Does she have to think like that at a place like this?

 

Recalling the stories she heard from her acquainted Exterminators from the past, she once was a young girl who desired to learn everything about Hell. It was never Heaven's trend; some angels would depart and never bring it up again, some would simply refuse to discuss it. 

 

Some would be frightened at the mere thought of it.

 

Unlike them, Charlotte, who was in a state of denial in her younger days, used to ask questions to the Exterminators about the realm her parents are banished to. Knowing they are to be punished severely for eternity, she was extremely worried, every night praying and hoping her parents would fare better, for they deserved a fairer penalty.

 

Her high spirits for Him to oblige her prayers were turned down in a heartbreaking truth. They cannot come back, my child. 

 

It was for her sake, she knew, and she didn’t fight it. Her concerns died down quickly over time, even if it was difficult. It brings her to this acceptance that she refuses to acknowledge completely. Her view of Hell grew bitter, knowing what her parents’ betrayal had wrought.

 

Hell . She was told it was a place drenched in red and cursed with cold black; the opposite of Heaven, which was graced with chaste white and sparkled peaceful blue. 

 

The underworld’s inhabitants are bold with their wretched sins, their impurity, their hunger, their perversion and violence. Hell is the sinners’ not-so-humble abode; their empire of anarchy. It is dangerous. 

 

Treacherous. Malignant. Unsafe.

 

She wanted to get out.

 

The cozy, loving warmth of her home is absent; there is only the scorching heat of Hell. Just a temperature, with no sense of security. This is Hell’s tone, of course; unwelcoming and untrusting. Charlotte would’ve sworn her skin prickled in uneasiness when she felt she was being watched

 

She would've been frantic in utter disbelief but right now she only feels anger. She’s in Hell. There’s no mistaking it. She sees the signs, especially the sigil floating in the sky. The Devil’s insignia. Her father’s. 

 

Oh, how the reminder boils her blood. 

 

...Now is not the time. She chided herself. Her predicament had Charlotte uneasy, unlike any dilemma she has ever faced. This frightened her.

 

Charlotte can handle it if it was less absurd. The only problem is that she has no clue what to begin with, no guidance to go back home. She also can't hear Him, which prompted her to do something on her own.

 

This has to be a dream. The angel thinks. It’s not real.

 

If it’s a dream, Charlotte can handle this. She is independent, wherever she goes. She was raised to stand on her own. Her parents taught her that.

 

Charlotte's resolve deflates, she can’t help but be unsettled being alone. It had her leaning against a wall from the loneliness in her chest. This is the first she ever felt like this for a long time. 

 

...This is difficult.

 

Suddenly, there’s a sound of distant voices and footsteps, making Charlotte freeze.

 

Fool, her mind screams. Move!

 

A gruff one, says, “The royal brat is still missing. The guards had to inspect our zone almost thrice now, it’s irritating. I can’t get any sleep.”

 

Another voice, one that caused Charlotte to flinch. “What the fuck, that's still going in your turf? It’s been, like...” A pause. “ three days since that 666 news shit happened with the head honcho.”

 

“Yeah, that,” a dry scoff, though there is a hint of amusement. “King’s a nutjob.”

 

The voices trailed off.

 

Charlotte stayed in her spot, unmoving. Her body frailed in what she heard. The conversation made her gut sink in realization. 

 

There’s no way, she hisses. Discerning the conversation, she knew no Heavenly being would say such filth; no disrespect, no cursing, and no Head Honcho. No Heavenly being would never approve of that. Not even her.

 

This is downright unbelievable.

 

Prodded to not waste anymore time, Charlotte moves into the shadows. 

 

With quiet strides, the angel ventures deep in Hell’s alleyways. Standing out – she is painfully aware– doesn’t stop her from moving deep into the city. Even if Hell is noted to be overpopulated, there’s bound to be a number of demons around her, probably every area is occupied by hundreds of sinners.

 

Despite the masses that could ambush her, so far there’s no sight of demons nor has she encountered one. Charlotte can protect herself but she hoped to never run in any of them.

 

Even with her gun, Charlotte is still vulnerable; it is her appearance that will make the citizens of Hell kill her. No one can survive hoards of demons after your blood.

 

As an angel, Charlotte stands out like a strutting peacock in a chicken coop. She is not adorned with the devilish charms of red skin, sharp teeth, slick horns, piercing claws and pointy tail. Her true form is graced with enriched porcelain skin, flowing hair crowned with a halo; she is gifted with wings, and embellished with blue accents, a symbol of her Heavenly grace.

 

Having an angelic aura urges her to move faster. Her mind skyrockets, overthinking a plan; she loses focus when she takes a sharp turn to a corner and bumped into a hard object. She raises her head and goes rigid when she registers a creature instead of a wall.

 

“Hey, lookie here.” The individual– that’s a monster– drawls, irked. Charlotte’s eyes turn into saucers at the sight of sharp teeth, and the buff, threatening dinosaur-like figure she has never seen in Heaven. 

 

The demon has navy blue skin, clad in a torn black sleeveless shirt and pants with crimson accents, and scarlet vague-shaped tattoos painted through his thick muscles all the way to his animalistic face. Is that one of the consequences sinners have? It looks hideous.

 

What Charlotte stares at most are the red razor-sharp claws. Just by the looks of it, she can tell it can lacerate her skin or make her lose an arm with just a slash.

 

She's really not in Heaven. 

 

Her world slowly shatters around her with that realization.

 

“It’s the “ Missing” Princess everyone despises.” A new voice says from behind her, and Charlotte twirls to be greeted with an incredibly tall demon who is five times taller than her. There is a flash from behind the sinner, is that a tail? 

 

The angel has to crane her neck up to look at the towering beast. A pink one, who has green-neon highlights on her tattoos, clothes, as well as her eyes. The orbs glinted down at the angel mischievously. Charlotte takes note of the demoness’s larger claws and serrated teeth. With her, Charlotte can be entirely chomped in one bite. “I always thought she’d run away from embarrassment in the middle of the interview, remember that?”

 

“Yeah! It was a split second, but you can hear her wanting to rehabilitate demons before she disappeared.” There is an entertaining laugh behind her. It is ridiculously loud too, Charlotte flinches for a moment. “She’s nuts!”

 

There’s a new voice, a small one. Charlotte finds herself looking down and there: another demon, the smallest of the three that are now surrounding her. 

 

The smallest demon is mixed with purple and orange features, and also has sharp teeth, claws– they’re all a threat. Despite their obnoxious appearances, they’re all dangerous. They can maim her. “Hiding for a few days and playing dress up too. Look at her!” 

 

Charlotte narrows her eyes at that before her head is yanked backwards with a harsh tug from her hair.

 

She then receives a tutting. “Dyed your hair? You’re just embarrassing yourself, blondie.” A cruel chuckle from the tallest demon. “I wonder what dear ol' dad would make of this.”

 

First of all, blondie? She is not one.

 

Second, Charlotte has had enough. With a whirl, she seizes the hand of the culprit who bullied her hair and grips the large limb with an iron grip. It was the tall demoness, who flashes consternation at Charlotte for a moment. For a small princess, she sure is strong.

 

Pardon? ” Charlotte mutters. The demon in her grasp could’ve sworn she saw the princess’s eyes turn mismatched and grow an X sign on her right orb.

 

“Your daddy. Or wait, maybe you call him your papi, oh! Maybe he's your dada.” The buff demon jeers, unaware of the threatening glare Charlotte gave him. “What? Scared we’ll tell him? You gonna cry if we snitch on you, baby doll?”

 

Somewhere in the depths of Charlotte’s core, she prays that he was nowhere near her.

 

No.” Charlotte hisses, puffing her chest out. She had enough of them. She doesn’t have time to deal with them right now. She needs to leave.

 

Charlotte shoves the demoness’s hand away from her; the force sends the tall demon reeling. The angel just watches her stagger into a wall and glare daggers at her.

 

“Fucking bitch.” She curses, unladylike. 

 

Charlotte chooses to ignore that filthy mouthful.

 

“If you’ll excuse me,” The angel brushes her dark hair properly. “I have somewhere to go.”

 

Before she can walk away, her arm is grabbed and pulled back. Charlotte glances at the hand and the claws are close to tear her blue suit. “Hold on, girls.” The angel almost trips with another haul. “Y’all think there could be a price if we return the princess back home? I’m sure their Highnesses will give us the big bucks for the effort of finding their brat.”

 

Confusion strikes Charlotte, she just realised these demons call her princess, which she is not . In Heaven, she is just an angel with a high rank, no noble title granted. 

 

They call her blonde too. And what was that about her wanting to rehabilitate demons they mentioned? She never said such absurdity. Maybe her parents had another child. Or maybe these demons are just off their rockers.

 

Or nutty as a fruitcake.

 

Their kid.” Charlotte deadpans. She shrugs off the demon’s grasp easily. “And you call this effort? I just happened to pass by.” She fixes her wrinkled sleeve and adjusts her white bow tie. “You’re not worthy of being paid for lying to the authorities. Plus, you are terribly mistaken you took me as their child. You dare to send the Magnes a wrong offspring? You’re just playing yourselves.”

 

“Really?” Charlotte almost forgot the third party. The small sinner was focused on her phone before she propelled the gadget in front of Charlotte’s face. “Then who is this, smartass?”

 

It's a video. Charlotte considers swatting the device away until she froze on her tracks. A similar person on the screen: a blonde–  her hair was tied like that, she also has the same pepperoni cheeks as her but cerise-color. 

 

The doppelganger is smiling brightly, and Charlotte sees a difference with her and this person: the canine teeth.

 

Charlotte subconsciously pokes her teeth with her tongue and nearly sighs in relief when she doesn’t have those carnivorous teeth.

 

 But the blonde is not alone. Is that…?

 

“Welcome back!” Crack! There is a disturbing neck snap, literally. Jagged bone peaks out of the flesh. The injured lady pulls her head back into place so casually like nothing happened. “So, Charlotte!” 

 

The angel’s jaw drops. It isn’t like her to do so but the newscaster? Katie

 

Wasn’t she in Heaven? What is she doing here?

 

Her questions were short-lived when the video continues with an uneasy pause: “It’s… Charlie.”

 

Charlie. Charlotte. 

 

The blonde’s name is Charlotte. Charlotte.

 

These demons also imply that this blonde is a princess, and this princess she’s seeing on the screen is named Charlotte.

 

The King of Hell is her father, but had a child? Princess? Also named Charlotte... Magne? 

 

Who on earth is she then? She knows she is Charlotte Magne, the daughter of the infamous Lucifer and Lilith Magne. Traitors of Heaven. 

 

Unless they’re unhinged enough to have a kid who replaced her; the complete clone of her is ludicrous.

 

It was like watching a bizarre film. But it seems… real. Charlotte recoils in disbelief. She didn’t see the rest of the video when she stepped back.

 

Finally she says, “That’s not me.”

 

“That’s fucking you, Einstein.”

 

“But that’s not me.” Charlotte calmly says. But she can't believe it. It’s hysterical. “I am telling the truth.”

 

It is the truth. But after a few seconds of silence, the three sinners howl with laughter.

 

“Fucking–“ a wheeze. “Stop fucking with us, ya twit.”

 

She absolutely is not. Yet the demons continued on their jolly. Why is she wasting time on them? When all they did is intimidate her and drive her to confusion about this blonde princess who is also named Charlotte. They’re incapable of giving her straight answers.

 

Insolent.” Charlotte snarls, her patience losing, deciding to depart completely.

 

You aren’t going anywhere, little missy.”

 

Again, she is dragged by the hair and plunged to the ground. Charlotte lands harshly. Sitting up, the demons start towering her. “This is the Princess of Hell, alright.”

 

Hell.

 

“For this,” She is grabbed in the hair again, forcing Charlie to look up. “They’ll have to pay us big fat money for finding their brat. At least–“

 

Charlotte is never a fan of violence but their gall to hurt her, a stranger, is just enough. In self defense, she kicks him in the nuts. He screams like a banshee.

 

“You fucking–!” The demon falls to his knees as he holds his assaulted nuts. “My fucking dick! FUCK!

 

Charlotte is somehow surprised at that.

 

“Hey! You fucktard! ” 

 

Time to go.

 

In a dash, Charlotte sprints off the moment her adrenaline sparked. She doesn’t linger her sense of hearing to pick up the sounds of expected footsteps trailing behind her as she hastens her way to another alleyway.

 

She doesn’t know where to go, but as soon as she sees a corner at the end of the path she determines to run around it and fly away.

 

She hopes there’s no demons on the other side, although she spoke too soon as she collides with another demon when she turns to the corner. With a harsh impact, she loses balance and falls to the ground.

 

“Your Highness,” exclaims a feminine voice. She gasps loudly and says, “Dear ol’ me, I apologize for blocking your way! Are you alright, dear?”

 

What Charlotte didn’t expect out of everything in Hell is a hand offering to help her get up. The angel scrutinizes the unexpected grey limb in front of her, first registering the sharp black polished nails that can undoubtedly tear her skin right off the bat. But merely staring at a demon’s hand for a few seconds doesn’t provoke her, nothing happened. The sinner didn’t engage. 

 

Finally Charlotte raises her head and she is not surprised anymore when she meets a couple of devoid eye sockets stares back at her. 

 

Don’t forget, she has sharp teeth too. There’s a possibility she can be eaten too.

 

With a swift examination, Charlotte already senses danger. Are there any nice demons in Hell? She cannot ignore the woman’s ominous vibe. The will to get away is so strong that she didn’t take it and stands up on her own. 

 

“I’m fine,” She says, discreetly eyeing the sophisticated umbrella on the demoness’s grasp. It is adorned with a little skull on the handle. “I should be sorry, it is my fault, I should’ve been looking where I was going.”

 

As if she has never heard of such a response the demoness blinks in raw confusion. Meanwhile, Charlotte mentally prepares for attack but the demoness doesn’t radiate any harmful intentions which is suspicious. 

 

“Well, you are quite in a bit of a hurry there, princess!” She hums questioningly. “Where are you hurrying off to?”

 

Charlotte ignores the honorific. “Somewhere…” 

 

The demoness inspects Charlotte's torn sleeves. “Encountered some goons , my lady?” The angel nods before the demoness slides her hand behind Charlotte and urges the angel towards the rose-colored doors designed with large cyan eyeballs in each, with dark thorns carved. “Come now, my lady. As for my insensitivity, I should properly express my sincerest apologies.” She says joyfully until she leans down to Charlotte’s level. “You wouldn’t want them to come look for you now, would you?”

 

There it is, the ominous side. It probably will never cease in every encounter she'll have.

 

Before Charlotte enters the shop she sees the sign that says: Franklin and Rosie Emporium . The first name is crossed out. She assumes the demoness is Rosie.

 

“I’ll take your silence as a no.” The demoness chuckles before acknowledging Charlotte’s stiff posture. “Relax, dear. Just leave everything to me!

 

Charlotte follows the demoness inside, she had the strangest feeling that she was being forced inside.  

 

Rosie gleefully shuts the door behind the angel, who notes carefully that she didn’t bother to lock it. The angel distantly registers the sound of a door chime.

 

Charlotte has never been to an emporium before so she never expected what would be inside. Although it being one that existed in Hell… it may be more horrid than what she would’ve imagined in the first place.

 

She already adopts a defensive stance, but there was nothing life threatening happening as she spent a few seconds rooted by the door. It almost seemed an hour, for how long she stands rigid in her spot, awaiting the unexpected. If she were sane, she would’ve thought herself exaggerating the assumption.

 

It appears to be an expanded retail shop filled with a large variety of goods. Nothing out of the ordinary. No dismembered bodies or lethal weapons to be seen. 

 

The shelves have everything, from food products to stationary. She observes the shelves in the back with curiosity. They were filled with magazines that had famous persons of what seemed to be the 1900s. An outdated trend, but Charlotte is familiar with the celebrities in those years. 

 

One particular stack of magazines catches her attention. The cover of the first of the pile illustrates three ladies seemingly doing intense yoga while holding a strange invention that looks like an airplane jet . It's entitled ‘My Fair Lady’.

 

It looked far too obscene for it to be just yoga. A shiver runs down her spine at the realization of what the airplane jet must be and just how the ladies planned to make use of it.

 

Dear God.” Charlotte mutters quietly with the realization of what she discovered. The demoness heard her, looking at what Charlotte was staring at in a dumbfounded state.

 

A moment ago she was threatened to be surrendered to the King, running for her life. Now she just caught a sinner keeping pornographic magazines.

 

“Oh.” The demoness says, walking hastily to the magazine rack. “It was from a friend.” She clears her throat as she removes the magazines out of sight with her leg pushing it behind the counter. “Who has certain fantasies…”

 

Sick fantasies, Charlotte’s mind hissed.

 

Attempting to ignore the salacious magazines, Charlotte looks on to the next pile for a better view. Unfortunately for her, the obscenities did not end at the last pile. This pile had two men, one of them seemingly trying to suck the other's soul out from their nipple. The other man was blindfolded and bound with artfully arranged silk ropes, designed to make the centerpiece, his very much hard, weeping… member, be very evident in the cover. His mouth hung open in perpetual bliss. The angel is a tad bit bemused.

 

Charlotte narrows her eyes at the demoness. She didn’t take her to be a voyeur. “Are you a—“

 

“I apologize, your Highness.” The demoness gives a strained smile. “I haven’t removed dear Franklin’s belongings. The chap has peculiar tastes, you see.”

 

Charlotte doesn’t buy that at all.

 

Dismissing the disturbing discovery in her mind, she walks into the middle of the shop. Clearly away from the sinner. “Thank you for the… invitation, Miss…?”

 

“Rosie, darling.” The demoness bows gratefully. “And don’t thank me yet, dearest princess. I haven’t done my part. Please wait here.”

 

The demon goes to another room.

 

This gives the signal for Charlotte to take in more of the new environment she got herself into. It’s her first time to be in an emporium. She heard there is one in Heaven, but she never got to visit it. Dear God , she thought, as she remembers the two magazine piles from earlier. If the emporium from hell would be like this, then she hoped that the one in Heaven would be a far greater pleasure. Hell certainly was a hellish endeavor.

 

Charlotte spotted a remote on the counter and used it to open the television seated between a quaint bookshelf rowed almost every wall. She needed some information that would tell her more about Hell.

 

The moment she clicked on the button and it showed her the channel: 666 News.

 

How fitting.

 

There is this familiar male who wore a gas mask shown on screen. It clicked. Charlotte knows someone who also died wearing that same equipment. Even though she was aware deep down that perhaps the angels she knows are here, it doesn’t stop her from being surprised to see a friendly— or maybe not so friendly, she thought, thinking of Katie— face. 

 

“How long do you think the princess’s project will last?”

 

The camera then flicks to Katie. She seemed vibrant and vaguely lively, unlike the calm and gentle Katie she knew in Heaven. This is the demon Katie? “If you ask me, Tom,” Katie says. There’s a hint of sneer. “I think the Magne’s passion project will be cancelled right off the bat!” 

 

Charlotte blinks. Magne’s passion project?

 

“I’m sure rehabilitating demons isn’t a popular enterprise down here.” Katie smirks devilishly. The smile slowly gives Charlotte a hint of disturbance. “Give it until the end of the week for the princess to come out of her humiliation and we’ll see if she will be able to continue this Happy Hotel of hers.”

 

It was a split second, but you can hear her wanting to rehabilitate demons before she disappeared.

 

This rehabilitation project was mentioned to her before. The three demons she encountered earlier...

 

Happy Hotel.

 

A demon wanting to redeem sinners.

 

Just like me. Charlotte thought deeply. But a different goal.

 

”Now, I noticed you look a tad bit different from your interview a couple of days ago. I assume you are under disguise, hm? From demons? Your parents? Would you like to go in a different style?” Rosie comes back with a row of clothes on a rack behind her. Charlotte quickly turns off the television. “It’s alright, dear, if you can’t utter a word. I’m sure you're embarrassed over this situation.” 

 

Charlotte is not embarrassed. But looking down on her attire, she needed a preferable fashion in order to blend in the society.

 

“I’ll go with anything.” The angel says. 

 

“If you say so, dearie.” Rosie smiles, exploring through the rack going from one hanger to another. “Hm… As one of the big cheeses in Hell, you’ll need to lay low.”

 

Charlotte nods. “Sort of blend in here.” Then she crosses her hands. “If you would so kindly, I’ll take anything you can offer me. I can repay you back.”

 

Rosie chuckles softly. “That won’t be necessary, your highness. I am glad to be of service! Now,” the demoness hums pleasantly. She plucks several clothes and hangs it on her lithe forearm. “If you want to be something inconspicuous like Mickey-Mouse, I have some attire that looks trivial and comfortable. You can’t be going out like that, my dear.”

 

It almost sounds like an insult but there’s no hint of harshness. The demon is just very direct, it seems. After all, Charlotte’s clothes had taken a toll by the demons she encountered before. Their aggressive claws seem to have been itching to scratch something.

 

Charlotte darts her eyes to Rosie and the clothes. A silent voice in her mind keen to say out loud:

 

“Why are you helping me?” 

 

Rosie stopped.

 

Charlotte took a step closer, her hands humming to call her weapon. It afforded courage for that. She gathered some, glad she even had some left. This is Hell, where all evil resides, and she is alone and clueless. She has no one to fight alongside her through this nightmare. She doesn’t know how to go back home. She doesn't even know if she can.

 

The longer she stays here, the easier she might lose hope. Hell doesn’t have that warm ambiance, unlike Heaven. It doesn't have that easy camaraderie between one soul and another, the joy of multiple beings opening themselves up to one another, connecting in a deeper, intrinsic way. She has no one by her side here. 

 

God, why am I feeling like this?  

 

“Do you think you’ll get something out of this?” Charlotte says. “A reward? Credit? My gratitude?”

 

Will I have to owe you? 

 

With a slow motion of her head, the demoness assured her with a smile. “You have my respect.” Rosie replies. “I only serve you, your Highness.”

 

Charlotte would’ve argued more if that’s the case, since she’s technically not the princess the demons addressed. 

 

“Well, here are the outfits, darling!” Rosie beams with a toothy grin, handing over the clothes to Charlotte with almost a shove. The urge of excitement. “These must be the closest to your tastes. Go ahead, try them on and take whichever you desire.”

 

Charlotte only stares owlishly at the clothing.

 

“There’s a spare room on the right, you can change there.” Rosie bows and urges Charlotte towards a narrow hallway met with several doors. She went right like Rosie said.

 

Charlotte sighs in relief after she opened the door. There’s nothing in the room but a mirror and a chair. It’s only a stall, nothing unsafe here. A little trust began to weave itself into Charlotte's heart. Rosie has done nothing to hurt her… yet. Even so, it doesn't hurt to be cautious.

 

...There could be a Peeping Tom around this little area.

 

She inspects the mirror, leaning herself against the wall to look behind the reflector. There’s nothing suspicious here even after a few scrutinised staring at the edge and corners of the glass. 

 

The chair also got the same treatment. The angel lifted the furniture off the ground and met with nothing but the floor. 

 

Calm down, there’s nothing to sense here too. You’re good. Charlotte takes a deep breath.

 

Finally noticing the clothes she haphazardly placed in the corner, she plucked the first hanger within reach. Slowly dragging the outfit up to gaze at it in an appraising fashion, she hums in acknowledgment. 

 

It’s a suit. 

 

She hovers the outfit in front of her, checking herself. It is a dashing set with a black blazer and pants, red shirt with suspenders. It’s missing with a bow tie.

 

I can just use my own. Charlotte glances down at her white tie. 

 

The angel changes within a few minutes, not bothering to dwindle any more time checking the other clothes Rosie hand-picked for her. The suit is more than enough. 

 

After buttoning the last piece Charlotte spares a moment to look herself over, checking herself out. Huh. It fits her nicely. 

 

Leaving the stall, she distantly hears the door chime ringing.

 

“I didn’t think you would come here, my dear friend!” Rosie exclaims. “It’s been a while.”

 

Charlotte immediately spots the newcomer that was standing by the door. She almost didn’t see him, which is unsurprising, considering how completely red he is, not at all a contrast to the entire environment. His small movement was the only thing that made her notice him.

 

She doesn’t move when Rosie makes a move to introduce the two palpably powerful entities under her emporium. This would be an interesting encounter.

 

The stranger doesn’t let Rosie introduce them though, for he strides in front of Charlotte so quickly she assumed he was going to attack. But he didn’t. Holding a strange microphone behind him, he stops in front of the angel with the largest smile she has ever seen. It was so big she ought to stand back a little because of its threatening appearance. It didn’t look that friendly yet a smile is still a smile.

 

“Hello, my dear.” He exclaims and wow did he have a loud voice. “Why, pray tell, is her Highness off and about in this fine establishment?”

Chapter Text

Charlotte knew him ever since she learned about politics. Heaven is a society bound by equal fairness, run by angels and the deity Himself. Meanwhile Hell is a place of punishment, run by the fallen angel, Lucifer, who has ultimate power. Even if his jurisdiction is ruthless, his authority never ceases. 

 

In Heaven, there’s a virtuous, powerful angel who has done countless gracious deeds. He was unlike any other angel; he strives spiritually like the Saint he is, and many admire him for it. 

 

He is the paragon of virtue, the beacon of hope, the gifted mortal who basked in goodness for decades. The angel had overcome worldly expectations as a mortal and as such was granted the honor and dignity to walk amongst the purest of Saints.

 

Many knew his name; it was spoken loud and clear in the great halls of Heaven when he first joined the angels among their ranks. Ever since Heaven reclaimed his soul, no one forgot his name. With him, there was never a dull moment in Heaven, for he broadcasted his gracious deeds the very moment he'd done them. His name was—

 

“Alastor, it’s truly a pleasure to meet you!” he instantly holds her hand captive in a very vigorous handshake. “You're as dashing and entertaining as I thought, seeing you on TV with that brilliant passion of yours. Truly, an honor, ma cherie,” The demon talks a mile a minute; so fast that Charlotte couldn’t quite grasp what he just said. His voice has a grainy quality, like he's broadcasting from a radio station. 

 

He— Alastor? — laughs gleefully, clearly delighted. Several disembodied voices erupt in laughter alongside him, somehow from everywhere at once. Meanwhile, Charlotte is utterly perturbed when she processes his name.

 

Alastor . She knew this soul from Heaven; she's heard countless stories about him. The angels praised him, drinking the Holy Wine to his name. She's even heard his 'glorified' broadcasts. Eden, her own parents knew him disturbingly well, as if they were tightly-knitted friends. 

 

First that identical clone of her, then the newscasters, then him, the Radio Angel? 

 

Is everyone here in Hell?

 

“Alastor, you’re over the moon for the lady,” Rosie comments from behind the counter, giggling. “Your great fondness is baffling. Really, dear, you're calling her your darling? In French?

 

Alastor. Charlie muses. What in Eden.

 

If this is the same Radio shtick she heard of, back home, she immediately dislikes the idea of him being some all-powerful demon here in Hell. She never met the man in Heaven, but she heard he was one of the highest ranked angels; one of the most virtuous beings in existence. What would that make him here? Completely the same? Or is he… the exact opposite? Evil incarnate?

 

She doesn't like that at all.

 

Alastor is still holding her hand as Rosie eyes the two. “I see you two are getting quite well-acquainted with each other.”

 

“Who are you?” Charlotte intones, bluntly. She doesn’t address Rosie, her eyes set on the man, who didn’t seem to be bothered at the angel’s aggression. 

 

His smile— the expression is disturbingly grotesque— stretches as he leans a little bit too close to Charlotte. Does he have no notion of personal space? “I’ve already said the name’s Alastor, my dear.”

 

Tsk.

 

What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Or in this case, that which we call evil by any other name would look as foul. Charlotte glances at his smile, filled to the brim with rows of sharp yellow teeth. Seriously, does this demon know the existence of toothpaste

 

“No.” She snapped. “Let me clarify: who are you to hold my hand like that.” She glances at the contact and shrugs off his offending limb. Rude.

 

She can’t help but be angry, really, but she’s not foolish enough to ignore the fact that this is a demon’s territory, where all the sinners roam free. Charlotte cannot not afford to lose her head over this, thus losing her dignity even more, but she needs to show that she is not to be treated as a plaything. 

 

Alastor stares blankly at the response, unbothered. His grin remains, however slightly smaller, her barbed declaration notwithstanding. He talks again. “I must say, I’m glad we’ve come to cross paths,” He starts calmly, his half-lidded eyes onto her. “I was curious about you. A little something you said.”

 

His grotesque grin widens after he says that. It was suspicious, making Charlotte arch an eyebrow succinctly. “About?” She asks, strictly.

 

“Your one and only passion project,” Alastor exclaims loudly. Multiple cheers erupt, and Charlotte finds herself looking around, checking if they're actually being watched . “I was so very interested when you were on television and mentioned something entertaining . A riveting ambition that was way too briefly announced. Which reminds me, dearest, you should have properly introduced your enterprise much earlier if you’re going to up and disappear into thin air! People are dying to know more about it!” 

 

Rosie hums approvingly.

 

It appears most demons knew of this 'rehabilitation' project. Maybe all of them knew, after all it was widely broadcasted live. Charlotte harshly clenches her jaw at that, unsure, yet itching to get herself out of this situation. Especially on how to take this all in. Everything was too much. 

 

“Next time, you'd do it properly, oui?” Alastor stated more than asked.

 

He’s expecting her to advertise that foolish hotel. 

 

“Next time?” Charlotte intones warily. She raises her chin defiantly. “I’m not…” this is the second time she heard, however vaguely, the disappearance of the actual princess, if there even is one. She’ll have to say what only she knows. She can’t lie too, an angel never does that. Eden . “I'm sure there won't be a next time.”

 

“Which is why I ,” he points to himself, “will assist you with that!” Alastor remarks with the cheshire grin he has yet to wipe off his face.

 

He never seems to tire of that expression.

 

“What?” 

 

Help! ” He laughs as he pulls out his staff and taps it. “Hellooo? Is this thing on? Testing, testing, one two three.”

 

The microphone opens an eye. “ Well, I hear you loud and clear !”

 

Charlotte bravely remains unwavering in the face of an actual talking demonic microphone, nevertheless the experience is a surprising one. Deep in her mind, it joins the mess of all her cluttered thoughts of this demon. 

 

If he’s in Hell, is he called the Radio… Demon

 

Her eyes narrow even more so. Everything is getting even more confusing. “Help?” Charlotte glances at Rosie, who’s only watching the scene unfold. “With what?”

 

She feels a hand on her around her shoulder and she whirls by surprise, only to be greeted by a smiling Alastor. Wasn’t he in front of her? She glimpsed to where he was supposedly standing a moment ago. He can teleport, Charlotte studiously notes.

 

“The hotel!” Alastor pulls out a newspaper. He hovers it in front of the angel’s face. 

 

It was the topic of the week. Princess of Hell’s Happy Hotel!

 

Oh, this is happening… Charlotte thinks. She sees the supposed princess in the widest image, blonde and all, they also have the same fashion sense. She finds the very existence of a demon doppelgänger incredibly uncomfortable.

 

Or are they twins? Probably. But even then something's strange, why would her parents name them both Charlotte Magne?

 

Charlotte doesn’t read the entire article, instead she swats the offending media away. “Why?” She questions. “Why do you want to help?” 

 

Boredom .” Alastor bluntly says before he laughs in amusement at Charlotte’s puzzled look. He snaps his fingers and the newspaper he was holding disappears. “Have you ever wondered: why does anyone do anything?”

 

The angel doesn’t answer.

 

“Sheer, absolute boredom, my dear!” Alastor sways beside Charlotte almost as if to lead a dance. Suddenly, he places his arm around her, again. “A remarkable sad truth about reality, really. Nothing can ever fill that endless gnawing need of entertainment! Which is why I was so eager to find you!”

 

“You were looking for me?” Charlotte blinks. She glances at Rosie again, could she have told him? Her location? Then, again, demons aren’t to be trusted. Mostly, Alastor. He already had a motive to be after her. How long until he shows his true demonic colors? “Why?”

 

Ladies and gentlemen, the word of the day: 'Why, why, why! '

 

“For a new exciting form of entertainment, my dear.” Alastor laughs, his pallid face crinkling in amusement. 

 

Charlotte thinks for a moment.

 

“What for?” She asks then, her tone even. “The project is meant to redeem sinners  in order to lessen the demon population in Hell through ascension and not through mass killings, and you prioritize entertainment? Are you so sick in the head that you fail to understand the gravity of the situation?” 

 

Alastor pauses for a brief moment, intently looking at her.

 

Rosie, on the other hand, tilts her head in keen interest. Her grey fingers tapping against the wooden counter. She merely smiled serenely. Interesting.

 

Charlotte thinks she struck a chord in him, perhaps she's more or less offended him. Alastor's smile stretches while he straightens himself. “The world is the stage in which a poor player struts and frets his hour, moving in express and admirable ways, telling a tale full of sound and fury.” He recites softly, his keen eyes never leaving hers. Is he citing some strange amalgamation of Shakespeare's Hamlet and Macbeth? “The stage is a world of entertainment, everchanging. Its transience is permanent, like the crashing waves against the beach. Oh, the beauty of the world.”

 

That doesn’t even begin to answer Charlotte’s question. In fact, it confounds her even more. What is this man on?

 

“Your Highness,” Rosie begins. She almost forgot Rosie is in the room with them with how focused she was on Alastor. “If I may, would you like a cup of tea? You look stressed at the moment and I would love to provide you herbal tea to ease your worries.”

 

Charlotte shakes her head. “There’s no need.” She says as she looks between the two demons. “Actually, I  must leave urgently.”

 

Rosie doesn’t look conflicted over this; instead she simply smiles more. She glances at the doors. “Will you be alright?”

 

“Yes.” Charlotte doesn’t spare a glance at the man next to her. 

 

“You do realize you’re being hunted down by hundreds of demons?” Rosie says, taking a paper and handing it to Charlotte when the angel approaches the counter. “A missing princess is bound to fetch a fair price, and many would find this a lovely opportunity to obtain riches.”

 

Charlotte unfolds the paper which appears to be a newspaper. 

 

Princess Charlotte declared missing! 

 

“It's been three days, and there hasn't been a lick of rhyme nor reason found for your disappearance,” Rosie continues. “The royal family has never been this agitated.”

 

Charlotte stills. 

 

“The king searched through the nine circles of hell, but to no avail. There was no sign of you, your Highness. Rumors circled around the kingdom that you were either taken away or ‘dead,’” Rosie stares intently at Charlotte. “I was surprised you’d be around these areas. You’ve taken quite a venture to hide in the farthest side of the city.”

 

“I wonder why,” Alastor chimes in, leaning down on Charlotte’s level, eyeing her curiously before peeking to peer at the newspaper. His conversation with her earlier goes completely forgotten. “You have such intention to do so.”

 

Charlotte doesn’t have any clue why . She isn't the demon princess everyone thinks she is; she's an angel. She's never even set foot in Hell before nor knows what happened here. 

 

“It is not your business to know,” Charlotte declares, dodging the topic before she stares at Rosie. “I appreciate your concern, but it is unnecessary. I have my own reasons to lay low. No one else should be concerned about this.” Charlotte drops the paper to the counter. “I have to leave. I will repay for your kindness.”

 

Rosie nods silently. “If her highness wishes to leave,” she bows. “Then your business here is done.” 

 

The demoness faces the man. “Alastor.”

 

The demon gives a beaming smile, his head motioned to a little tilt.

 

Rosie stares sternly at the man. “Your business here is done as well, no?”

 

If Rosie addresses Alastor that way, there must be something going on with the two.

 

Alastor glances at Charlotte. “I have no reason to stay any longer, dear friend. I shall depart as well; might as well escort the lady outside.”

 

Charlotte almost glances at the demon. She resisted.

 

The angel leaves without complaint, Alastor tailing behind her. He shuts the door and the two are left alone outside the emporium. 

 

Charlotte doesn’t spare the demon a glance as she looks out at the place she didn’t quite notice before. She’s in a part of a city. Bloody red covers everything from top to bottom, head to toe. Can’t this place get enough of the color? She can't quite believe that she’s indeed here, in Hell .

 

New voices approaching the pair caused Charlotte to turn and hide her face. She hears more than sees a couple of demons walking in their direction.

 

Alastor sees everything the angel did and is amused, simply chuckling behind his hand.

 

“Shit! Look !”

 

“It’s him . Turn around and run!”

 

Backpedaling, the demons instantly run off to  another route. Charlotte discreetly checks if they left completely.

 

“This side of the city is less aware of your presence here.” Alastor says without sparing a glance at the retreating demons. His eyes trained to her form. “If you’re careful enough, you might be able to slip past in this district successfully.”

 

Charlotte faces him. Alastor does the same to her. “Do you know your way around here? I am not familiar with this place.” 

 

“This is one of the biggest turfs in Hell,” Alastor says coolly. He gestures to the entire city with a dramatic wave of his staff. “It would be dangerous for someone to be unfamiliar with the place, considering who owns this territory.”

 

The place is packed with countless demons. “So you know this place.” Charlotte said, she tries to hide her relief in her voice. “Is there a way to go to the hotel—“ Charlotte stops herself and faces away when she spots some demons looking her way. There are a lot of them.

 

“It’s the Radio Demon!”

 

“Don’t look in their way or you’ll get in trouble!”

 

“Who's the girl?”

 

“I wouldn’t be with him if I were her, the dude’s hella dangerous.”

 

They... fear him? Charlotte hardly tolerated the demon. He is exasperating and inconsiderate and so very rude. Probably the most imprudent inhabitant of Hell.

 

“You shouldn’t be worrying about them too much, my dear.” Alastor steps beside her, patting her back. If he keeps touching her so familiarly, Charlotte will lose count of such offenses against her personal space. “They won’t come near you or even look your way.” 

 

“How are you sure about that?” Charlotte queries. The demon sounded a bit confident. She doubted it’s reliable.

 

The next moment she is pressed against his side, her body freezing at the offending contact. Her mind feels as if it was missing for a split second, like it spouted wings and flew back and forth the nine circles in Hell. She expects a chokehold or a tackle, but neither comes. 

 

She is urged to walk with him down the sidewalk. 

 

“What are you doing?” She manages to ask, quietly.  

 

Alastor doesn’t answer her as he drags her with him towards an alleyway. Isn't this where she came out from after her encounter with a group of unruly demons? Charlotte warily eyes the demon. His signature smile stays the same.

 

Dangerous . Charlotte’s mind whispers. For a moment, she doesn’t look where they are heading, she observes him, which was the first time she actually wholly sees him. He is all red, as if born from the  wretched red of this realm. He's a walking warning. 

 

Is he supposed to be mimicking an animal? Or, are sinners transformed into something that symbolizes the very essence of their souls? Charlotte sees antlers, and hair tuffs imitating animal ears. Inhuman details. 

 

Charlotte notices it's getting dark when she is led deeper into the dimly-lit path. Is she about to get killed? She eyes Alastor’s hand on her shoulder, and notes that it’s claws are sharp. 

 

She gasps as a wave of nausea hits her, her world spinning fast around her. She feels as if her skin is too tight and too loose at the same time, the world stretching her thin and pushing her flat, scattering every piece of her and putting her back together again. Nothing makes sense, and she sees colors yet to be discovered in the mortal world, vibrant and nauseating. And then, all comes to a stop, and she is in a different place entirely.

 

Her eyesight clears after it suffered bouts of dizzy vision and she sees that she's in a rather familiar environment. Charlotte steps back when Alastor slides his arm off hers and to his back, assuming posh gentlemanly posture.

 

“This…” Charlotte halts, taking in the sight.

 

The hotel. Happy Hotel . She can't get over how cheesy the name is ever since she heard it. It is an immense building and an almost complete replica of her own hotel in Heaven. But the  version here is spine-chilling and stale.

 

She faces the demon. “Thank you,” She says grimly. If someone told her months back that she would thank a sinner, she would have written them off as a liar and be done with it. Now, after everything that's happened, it doesn't seem as strange. 

 

Alastor nods his head with a contented, yet smug, smile. He waves his hand towards the entrance. “After you, my dear.”

 

The angel and the demon approach the hotel together. Once they arrive at the door, Charlotte stiffens.

 

Alastor looks over to her, somehow concerned. “Is there something wrong?” 

 

“Nothing,” Charlotte says, waving him off. She keeps her hand rested on the handle. 

 

She takes a deep breath to steady herself, and opens the door.

 

Chapter Text

The demon behind her observes the hotel, giving a soft sound of appreciation. Charlotte finds his appraisal incredibly bothering.

 

“A building of refined taste, dearest,” He compliments coolly, looking around.  “Needs a little bit of repairing and cleaning, though, if I do say so myself.”

 

It's unbelievable. Another Charlotte, another hotel. Everything's different and… the same. She looked at the name. Happy Hotel.

 

Charlotte scans the building; it is a red,  rundown, dusty hotel that has crawling little insects. Pictures of the doppelganger and her... family hung left and right along the walls. She almost stops to look at them, but then remembers that she can’t let her guard down around Alastor. He would suspect Charlotte is too surprised; like it’s her first time seeing her own hotel. 

 

She glances at them, all of what appear to be wonderful memories. Unease wriggles in her chest, none of those pictures are the same from what she had in Heaven.

 

The place probably belonged to her 'parents'. If they both got the same story, the demon Charlotte would’ve felt abandoned, although that was highly unlikely. After all, she's a demon.

 

Would her parents here be the same traitors she knew in Heaven? The people she knew in Heaven with the same backstories and nearly the same looks, but in Hell?

 

Charlotte ponders to herself in the middle of the hallway.

 

This doesn't even belong to me, she thinks. Will her doppelganger be here? 

 

She hopes not. She can only imagine the fallout from that. And she can't help but wonder where the demon princess could be, and why exactly she disappeared. Right now, Charlotte is an intruder in the twisted opposite of her home. 

 

She's not the only intruder, though. She glances at Alastor as he steps into the middle of the hotel with an air of smug nonchalance, as if he owned the place. It's indiscernible whether or not he likes or hates the place.

 

“As you'll be working with me for the foreseeable future, I can jig up the place for a bit,” Alastor then declares. “I can cash in some few favors to liven things up!” 

 

Charlotte turns a very unimpressed glare towards the demon. “Do I look like I need your help?”

 

If he had answered her in a serious manner, or even in a joking manner, Charlotte would have let it slide. However, the fact that he leans in closer, leaving a scant few inches between their faces, and completely violating her personal space, is near unforgivable .

 

“Hmm,” Alastor hums. Charlotte freezes at this personal intrusion. It wasn't unlike harassment, the way he disregards her need for space. It makes her itch to throw in a good punch at his untiringly smug face. She resists, remaining unmoving, unfortunately giving Alastor the chance to boldly hook his finger under her chin, tilting her head upwards, ever so closer to him. Was his teeth always that… yellow? “That expression on your face…” he trails off.

 

What is happening? Charlotte couldn’t move. What is he doing? He isn't trying to kiss her, is he?

 

“I think you need my help!” Alastor concludes, letting go of her chin. “Consider me your business partner, and I shall provide your needs. But of course, there's a catch! Luckily, I only have one simple condition: you must accept me.”

 

Accept you how?

 

Before she can answer— or in this case, ask— Charlotte is frantically pulled away from Alastor. She's both relieved and slightly… disappointed ?

 

“So it was you who took her,” says a surprisingly familiar voice. She just notices the newcomer when said newcomer threateningly holds a spear against the offending demon's throat. He doesn't look as concerned as he should be. “ Cabrón hijo de perra! How dare you kidnap Charlie!”

 

Charlotte cocks her head. Was that Spanish

 

It hits her when she registers the ribbon and the hair— she knows someone close to her has also that hairstyle.

 

Alastor laughs merrily. “Dear me, I wouldn’t dream of harming the dame.” He lowers the weapon with his finger on the blade. He doesn’t bleed. His eyes flash blood red, looking like two orbs floating in a sea of black darkness. “If I wanted to…” He takes a step closer, his mouth stretched into a terrifying grotesque smile while strange bright red symbols glitch around him. “ I would have done so.”

 

The atmosphere flickers with  static and the strange red symbols surround them all. It was as disorienting as it was infuriating, glitching static everywhere, like losing a channel on TV. Charlotte kept her gaze on Alastor, who seemed cheerful enough a moment ago. But now, she never felt more threatened than when she sees a sickening image of his demonic form flickering to existence for a second.

 

It was a sickening moment, and the fact that Charlotte is a spiritual being was the only thing that kept her from retching her non-existent guts out. She isn't quite sure she was ready to witness such… monstrosity.

 

Dangerous . Perhaps being pointed at with a spear did upset the demon, or maybe it was because of what surely was a string of curses that was sprung upon him from the demoness.

 

Alastor calms himself then, his vibrant smile returning, larger than ever. It was obnoxious, really.

 

Charlotte silently notes he is not someone you'd want to provoke. Quite like me, Charlotte thinks. Don't even try.

 

It was then that she noticed the lady gaping at her, as if she'd just noticed Charlotte was there. Suddenly, the angel loses her words. 

 

“Vaggie?” 

 

“Charlie!” 

 

Hands were suddenly on her, on her shoulders, arms, waist then on her head. The demoness— Vaggie— cups her cheeks and leans towards hers, a worried look on her face.

 

“Are you hurt?” Vaggie’s only remaining eye critically scans Charlotte from head to toe. “You look different. Is this his doing?” She points Alastor. 

 

“No.” Charlotte answered, lowering Vaggie’s hands on her. “He didn’t do anything to me. Alastor…" He helped me.”

 

She looks... so different . Charlotte studies her best friend. Grey skin, white hair, yet one thing didn't change. She still has an ‘X’ crossed over her left eye. She knew the story of that wound.  

 

Wait. No. She isn't her Vaggie, right? Or is she? It’s difficult to comprehend the very existence  of the demoness as Charlotte’s mind remains blank in shock. 

 

Vaggie, in Hell? As a demon ? Why ? Vaggie in Heaven was a chill, loving angel , who was always there for Charlotte. Always optimistic and caring. What in Eden happened that Vaggie , her sweet best friend, is in Hell suffering Eternal Punishment?

 

It wouldn't do anything if I just sat here and pondered everything. I just gotta accept that I know nothing in this world. Charlotte tells herself. In fact, it's so surreal it could be a dream. So that's what this must be, right?

 

Right? 

 

But it felt too real. It’s not just a dream. She remembers the attack at the alleyway, the clothes Rosie gave to her. She can feel Vaggie’s palpable anger right now. It radiates .

 

Helped you?” Vaggie repeats in disbelief, glaring daggers at the suspicious demon, who is nowhere to be seen. "You sure he did, mi cielita ?"

 

“Why, yes she is, my dear.” Alastor exclaims from behind the two ladies, totally intruding on their moment. They both flinch when the Radio Demon abruptly manifests between them, his arms laying on their shoulders. 

 

Vaggie, averse to his touch, swats Alastor’s hand away. Charlotte shares the same sentiment.

 

Really ?” Vaggie scowls, she places her hands to her cocked hips. She’s got attitude, Charlotte gives her that. 

 

“Oui, really.” Alastor repeats playfully, entirely unbothered at Vaggie’s resentful behavior. Though, he doesn’t seem to care much for her anyway. His hands find their way to Charlotte’s shoulders, squeezing them lightly in acknowledgment. “The fair maiden was so hopelessly lost in my district and I could not bear to ignore the distressed princess! Her parents are awfully worried about her too! Non , I wish to keep the heiress safe and sound for the good of Hell.”

 

For the good of Hell ?” Vaggie scoffs. “I know your game,” she points an offended finger at his chest and Alastor didn’t budge. “Hell is your fucking personal playpen. Your toy . You don’t take anything, or anyone , seriously around here. There is no way I'd believe you want to 'keep Charlie safe,' you psycho. There’s always danger when you're involved. No one is safe from you .”

 

Charlotte seconds that sentiment. Really, she couldn't have said it better. But… She can't shake the feeling that maybe Vaggie was just a tiny little bit too harsh.

 

However, it seems that her fears are unfounded, as Alastor merely chuckles, though his mirth is accompanied by some weird disembodied scratching and harsh static, like it came from a radio. It was undoubtedly creepy, to say the least. “I doubt your princess would say the same.” He eyes Charlotte. “I have done nothing to harm her.” 

 

Charlotte has to admit, the so-called Radio Demon hasn’t done anything to her, yet . So far so good, but she isn't confident that he wouldn't in the future. She just met the demon, and how long until he shows his true ugly colors? 

 

How long until he'll try to kill me?

 

No matter. Charlotte will just smite the life out of him with her gun when they reach that point. Right now, she has to give a response similar to her doppelganger, if only to avoid conflict. Not a lie, though. Never a lie.

 

“Alastor hasn’t done anything wrong to me, yet. It seems unfair to just judge him straight out of the bat like that.” Charlotte finally steps in and Vaggie shoots her a look . “He just wants to help. Honest.”

 

Obviously, Vaggie expected her to say that, as she raises a skeptical eyebrow. The one-eyed demon glances between the angel and the demon, sure that something not good had happened before they got here. She just doesn't know what exactly.

 

Vaggie quickly grabs Charlotte by the arm and drags her away from Alastor for the umpteenth time that day.

 

“That’s not true, right?” The moth demon whispers once the demon is out of earshot.

 

Charlotte shakes her head. “Why would I lie about that? Plus, you can see me in the flesh. I’m all in one piece.”

 

“Yeah… But, have you seen yourself?” Vaggie pulls a lock of Charlotte’s dark hair, making it visible to the angel. It hits her. Oh, the whole I’m-not-blonde situation. “It's clear he's done something to you.”

 

Charlotte lowers the demoness hand. “Trust me, Vaggie. So far,” she glances at Alastor, who was casually checking his nails. Abruptly, as if he sensed her gaze, his eyes met hers and Charlotte felt shivers running down her spine. She can never get over that… peculiar expression. “He… hasn’t.”

 

Vaggie raises an eyebrow. “You’re hesitating.”

 

Charlotte is trying .

 

“Alastor is innocent.” Charlotte says, exasperated. That is not a word she thought she'd use to describe a sinner . Vaggie seemed to disagree, appearing very puzzled. “He's a demon, but he hasn’t hurt me or something, not yet . So, I don’t think now is the time to accuse him of something when he hasn’t done anything wrong.”

 

“Every demon is like that.” Vaggie waves her hands around them, indicating the inhabitants of Hell. “You know how calculating and freaking sneaky they are. They'll just play right under your nose if you’re not careful, mi cielita. Alastor is no different.”

 

Charlotte can’t help but admit to herself that the gal's got a point. 

 

“I can take care of myself.”

 

But… She also can't help the tiny seed of doubt forming in her mind. She… This is her first time in Hell. Sure, she's strong, but she hasn't got any reliable info on her enemies. All she's heard were stories of Hell and even then some were wildly inaccurate. Right now, the best course of action is psychological warfare. She has to keep her head afloat, her real identity hidden, and her wits about her. It's both not unlike and entirely different from the battles she's experienced, but one difference is that she has no back up. Unlike in Heaven where there's at least another angel to fully rely on, she's well and truly alone. 

 

It finally sinks in. 

 

She's in Hell. 

 

It makes her wish she can curse and drink to forget like the humans she's observed over the years.

 

Get your head in the game, Charlotte. Okay. She has to improvise, adapt, overcome. Just like that Bear guy from Earth.

 

Vaggie nods, reassured. “I know that,” she lays a hand on Charlotte’s shoulder. “I’m just worried for you.”

 

How can a demon say that? 

 

It’s odd to hear those words from the mouth of what's supposed to be the bane of Charlotte's existence. How can pure evil express… concern for another being? It confounds her. Charlotte wasn’t reassured but… she appreciated the concern.

 

No . Charlotte’s inner voice screamed. They’re sinners; they’re not good. You can’t trust what they are saying. None of them. 

 

Even if they're exact clones of your close friends. 

 

“Thank you, Vaggie.” Charlotte says, but she doesn’t say it with a smile.

 

There’s one thing she will not do: pretend. She is not a liar, and she will not give them a fake personality. 

 

She will not be the Charlotte Magne who existed in this realm.

 

“Charlie,” Vaggie leans in a little. “Listen to me. You can’t trust Alastor. He is not just just a demon with a happy face. He is a deal maker. Pure evil!”

 

It isn't subtle that Vaggie dislikes Alastor, very much. The hate is visible, clear as day. 

 

“I know.” Charlotte says, wanting to calm the demoness before she could possibly explode. The last thing she wants is a pissed demon.

 

“Then why is he here?”

 

”I got lost.” Charlotte admits. “He showed me the way here.”

 

“You’re sure he's just playing guide?” She rolls her eye. Vaggie isn’t convinced, which surprises her. Her friend in Heaven trusts her easily but Charlotte keeps forgetting she's not home. It's difficult to remember when she sees so many familiar faces. “He wouldn't help you without waiting for something in return. He has a reason, and I don't think it's a good one.”

 

Actually, there is a reason. An absurd one. The need to mention it makes Charlotte sigh. “He wants to help me co-run the hotel.”

 

“You’re joking.” Vaggie’s one and only eye widens. “No. You’re serious?”

 

Charlotte can’t help but be bothered. Does she look like she is playing jokes at a place like this? Despite it, Charlotte nodded in response.

 

God , you said no, right?” Vaggie cringes. 

 

“I haven’t said anything to his offer.” Charlotte crosses her hands. She almost forgets Alastor’s shenanigans at the emporium. She wishes she really did forget.

 

Vaggie sighs in relief. “That’s good—“

 

“Because I’m not continuing this hotel anymore.”

 

Now this got everyone’s attention.

 

Alastor is waiting in a distance but he perks up in surprise, his mouth itching to say something but no words would come. 

 

Say something I'm giving up on you… His megaphone provided 'sad' background music.

 

Meanwhile, Vaggie is tremendously stupefied.

 

“Damn, toots, what changed your mind about that?”

 

Charlotte turns and, oh, it’s the patron. Of course he would be here. 

 

“You were hellbent to convince me as your first patron or whatever for days and now you’re giving up?”

 

“I—“ She did not expect Angel to be here. “It’s not that. I have other matters to attend to.”

 

He looks bemused.

 

“Why? Do you have other projects in mind, Charlie?” Vaggie asks gently. “Whatever it is, I’ll help you. You know I will.”

 

It’s not a project, Charlotte thinks, frustrated.

 

“I have to talk to,” she swallows  a lump in her throat, “my dad.”

 

She needs to know what's going on here.

 

“His majesty?” Vaggie is visibly confused and concerned at the same time. “Is he telling you to stop the hotel? Is that why you’re stopping?”

 

“No.” Charlotte replies. “I just— I need to talk to him.”

 

There was an uneasy silence.

 

“Ok.” Vaggie nods firmly. “When?”

 

“Right now.”

 

“We can give you a ride there.” Vaggie pats Charlotte’s shoulder. “I’ll give a call to the King and—“

 

“No. I don't want him knowing I'll come.”

 

Surprisingly— or maybe not— Angel Dust was the first to make a peep. He swings in, grinning salaciously, hips swaying seductively, and casually lays his arm along Charlotte's shoulders, plastering her to his side. “Alright, honey pop. Let's come to Daddy .”

 

Chapter Text

Bright lights flash in and out through heavily tinted windows as they speed by several buildings. The limo— she can’t even— it’s an outrageous shade of pink. Hot pink

 

Charlotte's buzzing with questions that flit around her mind like oppressive little wasps. 

 

During their departure, she meets two twin butlers in the service of the Demon Princess: Razzle and Dazzle. They drive the limo, and they are the first to be suspicious of her. They know it’s not their dear Charlie, and it shows as they drive them to their destination.

 

“Weird.” Vaggie says, eyeing the goat butlers in the front. “They usually aren't in such a mood.”

 

They know.

 

That chilling thought resonates through her as Charlotte nearly stiffens, smiling nervously at the goats, trying to stay on their good side. So far, they haven't outed her yet, or attacked her, but she can’t ignore how they stare at her so intently that it makes her feel like a fish out of water, mouth gasping as she flopped gracelessly about.

 

She stands out the most. Even if she is clad with Fifty Shades of Red, Hell's infamous color scheme, there is something in her appearance, or rather her aura, that  doesn't quite scream ‘Demon’.

 

She scans herself among in their group of misfits: a defensive misplaced angel miscasted as a Demon Princess, a raging overprotective one-eyed chick supposedly her best friend, a salaciously flirtatious pornstar that's strangely a client, and a walking radio disaster nearly on par with the Merc with a Mouth, are all in one limo and Charlotte is not ready for the oncoming fallout. Nope.

 

In any other situation, she'd be sitting casually and elegantly bedazzling her companions. But this is not any other situation, and she can't quite seem to sit still.

 

…Are they really the bad guys here? She'd known all her life that Demons were cruel, evil  vicious scum that must be eliminated, but now… she isn't so sure anymore.

 

But they must be. They must be. Heaven wouldn't lie to her like that. No demon can be trusted. Not even 'herself'.

 

If, by any chance, all this was her clone’s doing, then demon Charlotte has done a wonderful, terrific job wreaking havoc on Charlotte.

 

It’s a wonder how a demon was able to extract an angel out of Heaven and dump her in Hell like  it's nothing but an afternoon stroll in the clouds. At least she seems to be blending in quite nicely, as shown by the growing group of demons flocking to her.

 

Vaggie is seated next to her with an allowance of space, while Angel has been glued to her side ever since the motor started purring. Charlotte appreciates the clone of her best friend supporting her space, unlike Angel who's fanatically nagging Charlotte’s return 24/7, and Alastor’s weird fixation of being close to her. The boys are starting to unnerve her.

 

Even after she decided to talk to Lucifer, Demon Overlord— she wonders if she should call him daddy, but that's just gross— everyone still seems hellbent to join her company. 

 

Especially Alastor, the smiling psychopath, Charlotte notes. He's been stuck on her ever since he first laid eyes on her even though she hasn’t answered to his offer to help run the hotel. She's not sure how meeting 'daddy dearest' will entertain him, but she has a feeling he'll find a way.

 

Said radio disaster is seated between the girls while Angel, lounging on the left side of Charlotte. Angel had whined at Alastor earlier about absolutely needing liquor, how so very desperate he was to have a taste— Alastor looked positively alarmed at the implications of that— and the radio demon had instantly scooted over to allow the pornstar access. To the drinks, of course.

 

Strangely enough, once that particular hiccup passed, out of all the demons in the limo right now, Alastor is the only one relaxed. Vaggie was auditioning right now as Alastor Moody, staying constantly vigilant during the entire ride, her one eye snapping back and forth between the male demons. Angel on the other hand keeps on riling everyone up with his… strange brand of humor— if you could call it that. He's loud and handsy, and he is the only demon that won’t shut his trap since the start of this cursed ride.

 

Charlotte would have strangled the guy ages ago  if she didn't know he'd enjoy it, that he'd moan brokenly, “Oh fuck yes, harder, Mommy.” Just no. No.

 

“So,” Angel starts, breaking the oppressive silence inside the limousine for the umpteenth time that day. “Where the hell have you been, toots?”

 

Of course he asks the one and only question that ruins the peace and grabs hold of everyone's attention. They're obviously curious about the story too, as they begin to look at her, waiting for the angel to answer. 

 

“Definitely not here .” She vaguely answers, which earns her various stares she doesn’t want to bother with. 

 

She readjusts herself in the velvet leather seat, crossing her arms and legs and looking out the window as if something intriguing caught her attention outside.

 

There isn’t.

 

The red is depressingly everywhere. It reminds Charlotte of blood and she loathes it. It’s like it's meant to stress her, and maybe it is.

 

“Yes, obviously.” The fluffy arachnid sasses back. “You know, it's weird that three days being missing seems like nothing to you.”

 

“It didn’t feel like three days.” Charlotte mutters as she taps her fingers against her sleeves. No, it didn't feel like three days. It felt like she jumped through space and time and teleported to the desolate future.

 

“Were you kidnapped?”

 

“Possibly.”

 

“And you're now all emo-like because you were kidnapped? What, did they have, like, a sad fetish?”

 

“No.” She glance pointedly at the pornstar.

 

She could feel Angel blinking in confusion. “Babe,” He addresses Vaggie. “Did she… Did she hit her head or something?”

 

Vaggie growls. “How could you say that?”

 

“Well, for one, she looks different, she's sassy , and she hasn't smiled ever since she came back and that’s freaking me the fuck out.” Angel shudders, his four arms embracing his lithe body as he shivers dramatically. It's not that he missed the bubbly dame, it’s just odd for someone to be gone for a few days only to come back with a complete persona makeover. “What happened to the jolly Princess of Hell? Did Smiles here suck the happiness out of her?”

 

Vaggie looks displeased while Alastor lips twitched almost akin to grimace, which is strange to look at. But he regains his eternal smile before anyone else other than Charlotte sees it.

 

Charlotte turns her head towards the pornstar to glare fiercely at him, clearly warning him to not overstep.

 

See ?” Angel stubbornly continues as he boldly points at Charlotte. What a bother. How did her demon counterpart handle this? “Tell me I’m not the only one who noticed this.”

 

“Do not speak of me as if I am an anomaly.” 

 

“Well, you are.” Angel mutters. “Either way, it was either Smiley's fault, or you're Vaggie’s long lost twin.”

 

“Angel,” Vaggie snaps, looking so done. “Why don't you shut up?”

 

“Babe—“

 

“Why are you all here again?” Charlotte asks aloud. The three demons look at her.

 

Her unprecedented outburst has Vaggie shifts closer to her, laying a hand on the angel’s shoulder. “Hon…”

 

“You, hombres ,” Charlotte points to the men. “What is your deal?”

 

Alastor perks, and Charlotte swears his hair tuffs twitches in anticipation. Vaggie notices, glaring at the Radio Disaster™ that is Alastor. “Not that kind of deal.” 

 

Such a killjoy. Angel is slightly bothered but he disregards it, shrugging. Why are women so pissy these days?

 

Despite being told off, Alastor continues to beam excitedly, humming enthusiastically while tapping his fingers on his staff and shoes on the floor. Soft music plays from his microphone:

 

"Que d’espérance,

Sur ce chemin en ton absence,    

J'ai beau trimer, sans toi ma vie n'est qu'un décor qui brille, vide de sens…"

 

“You seem to be in a good mood, Smiles.” Angel comments playfully with a seductive wink. “Is it because you get to be with a pip like me?”

 

Alastor turns to Angel with an indifferent look on his face. “And you must be?”

 

“Angel.” Angel grins, his golden tooth flashing. “ Angel Dust .”

 

“Well, Angel,” Alastor began. “For your information, I am in a ‘good mood’ because of this interesting escapade.”

 

“Interesting…?” Angel glances at Charlotte. “You mean this family feud?”

 

“Yep.”

 

“It’s just family talk, no biggie.” Angel says shrugging. “What's so interesting about it?”

 

Alastor only smiles pleasantly in eerie silence, making Charlotte squint at him in suspicion

 

“Angel,” Vaggie begins. “Could you have at least the decency to behave?”

 

Fuck . Angel rolls his eyes, Well isn't this fun?

 

“Well aren’t you being a sourpuss, babe.” Angel retorts. “I’m already bored as fuck after having you lecturing my ass off for a few days. Can’t you spare me a fucking break from your goddamn loudmouth tattletale for once.”

 

Charlotte hears Vaggie draw her blade, the sound distinct.

 

“I’m warning you.” Vaggie scowls, pointing a sharp finger in Angel’s direction. “Pardon me for being skeptical ever since you broke your word by joining a territorial turf war! But you have to behave—“

 

“God, get a move on.” Angel scoffs loudly. “I’m sure Princess Peach here just wants to talk to her Daddy alone.” He chuckled at that. “It’s not like we’ll get to meet the Devil himself anyway, there’s no need to show off; so spare me your warnings.”

 

Vaggie grits her sharp teeth, loudly.

 

Enough .” Charlotte finally talks, sternly gazing into their eyes. “Quit your yapping, would you, or so help me I will toss you both out the windows!”

 

She shuts her mouth in the face of a deafening silence, her audience of demons staring at her in the midst of her outburst.

 

“Geez, blondie.” Angel physically winces. “No wait, your hair is black—“ He shakes his head. “Whatever. There’s no need to get your panties in a twist, Princess.”

 

Of course he calls her the one thing she doesn’t want to be called.

 

Charlotte hangs her head low, leaning forward, elbows on her lap and hands covering her face as a mind rending migraine tears her head a new one. This is odd, angel's don't get migraines, ow, help me Eden...

 

She feels like a changed person ever since she set foot in this godforsaken place.

 

She's about to talk to Lucifer Magne. What is she doing? She hasn’t talked to him for years and this is happening. Nothing feels real anymore.

 

Will he know what’s going on here?

 

Charlotte wants to discuss more than just the hotel. However, should they discuss the hotel, everyone should be in on it, and she doesn't like the sound of that. 

 

Especially if they have to include Alastor, since he wants to work with Charlotte.

 

But it isn’t just about the hotel, is it?

 

She wanted to go home. To Heaven, where she belonged. Everyone knows that Hell is divine punishment for those whose sins are… irredeemable. 

 

Sin. As far as she knows, she's done nothing of the sort. Regardless, she still feels violated, even though she retains her wings and halo. She can't help but ask herself: was she sent to Hell for a reason? 

 

The car suddenly stops.

 

“We’re here already?” The arachnid peers in the windows. “I thought it would be a long, hard trip.”

 

Charlotte also finds it odd when she looks out the window only to be greeted with bland red buildings with nothing of note. This can't be where the sovereigns of Hell reside, can it?

 

She steps out, looks around and stops when she spots a familiar tall building.

 

It's the last place she's been to ever since she came to the underworld, according to the many demons of Hell.

 

“The 666 News station?” Vaggie wonders aloud as she steps outside, moving to stand beside Charlotte. “I don’t understand. His Highness was said to be in his residence—“

 

“Unless her parents decide to move?” Angel sarcastically says, from behind Vaggie, who rolls her eyes at him.

 

However, they can't feel what Charlotte feels. She can sense him .

 

On the highest floor, she can feel his gaze as he looks down at her, a heavy stare that could physically weigh down her shoulders. It would make a lesser angel shiver.

 

There’s a sound of static. “Such a powerful being.”

 

Charlotte glances at Alastor when he speaks beside her, voice static-y as ever. 

 

“I feel it.” Charlotte says to him. “He’s calling you.”

 

“My dear,” Alastor smiles pleasantly at her. “He’s expecting the both of us.”