Monday, March 11, 2013

The Barracks of the Damned

Eventually objects on the horizon began to loom closer and take on recognizable shapes.  We were getting close to the Barracks of the Damned and nearing the edge of the fearsome cliffs as well.

"This is taking too long," I muttered in frustration.  "By the time we get to General Gavsot, he'll be overrun."

Wyver didn't seem concerned.  "It'll take as long as it has to," he said simply.

As we drew closer to the Barracks, I began to see movement and bustle around the massive buildings that protruded with an angular, grotesque chaos from the sides of the burnt-red cavern walls.  Instead of appearing to have been built around the natural formations of the rock, the Barracks seemed to have been surgically implanted into the stone by a nervous or possibly schizophrenic first-year medical student.  Humans by the thousands moved in various directions between the buildings and what appeared to be cable car stations at the edge of the cliffs, shepherded by hundreds of demons and numerous patrols of pit guards.

"Just follow me," Wyver said calmly as we approached the fringes of the organized madness.  "I'll get us one of these cable cars."  He confidently surged into the fray, cutting across six different streams of damned souls at once.

We entered the currents of damned souls between the Barracks and the cliffs, and the noise became overwhelming.  The moans and whines of humans returning from a hard day of getting their entrails fed to them mixed with the whimpers of those about to began a new day of fresh torture.  Above it all were the brusque barks of the demons keeping them in line.  The arrangement was filled out by the baritone grumbling of the pit guards as they prodded stragglers with their short spears.  The result was a dense, senseless cacophony of uninterrupted, unintelligible pandemonium.

I tried to follow Wyver's lithe movement through the mess but I eventually fell behind as I struggled to squeeze in between each shambling dejected soul.  He had to come back and retrieve me from a particularly confusing makeshift intersection.  He gripped me firmly by the arm and hauled me through a knot of people, knocking some of them aside like eternally condemned bowling pins.  "All due respect, sir," Wyver growled at me in annoyance, "But you should remember that you're the Devil.  You rule this entire domain, which is dedicated to the torture of all these people.  You don't need to be polite to anyone.  If they're in your way, you remove them from your way."

I swallowed dryly, taking a moment to catch my breath.  "I'll try to remember that."

Wyver scowled at me and pulled me up onto a rusting metal landing that stuck out over the edge of the cliff.  A cable car had just arrived next to the landing and a cargo of freshly tormented souls was disembarking.  As soon as the last one stepped off, Wyver hauled me bodily onto the car, slammed the door shut behind us, and turned to the low-order demon who appeared to be acting as the driver.  "Go," he ordered.

Our cable car pulled away from the station and out across the wide volcanic chasm.

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