The Underworld (Chapter One, page 1 of 4)


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For the first time in far too long, Death stepped from the portal room in Hell into his own domain. A towering, muscular form dressed all in black, he surveyed the world that was his with eyes darker than night. Power swept over him then retreated, lingering in the forests of the underworld, a sign he had not yet won the right to command his realm.

But he felt the tension around him. His magic recognized its rightful master and was struggling not to come to him. He was meant to be here, to break down the dam between him and the magic of the dead that was rightfully his. The souls were calling to him in a faint, mournful wail, their peaceful existence threatened by his weakness.

Hang in there, Gabriel urged them silently. I'm one step closer.

He had never been as relieved to be home as he was this moment, standing beneath the milky grey skies where even the weak midday sunlight never matched the power of the setting sun on the mortal plane. He found himself no longer squinting the way he did in the human world.

The trees moved, leaning away from him while their branches slithered like snakes far above his head. Shrubberies and other small plants scurried out of the way of the three invaders. The air was cool and light. It grazed his skin, bringing with it the familiar mossy scent of the forest.

Home.

"You know where we are?" Rhyn, his best friend and closest ally, asked from behind him. The silver-eyed half-demon was radiating a different kind of tense energy, probably as a result of their trip through Hell to get to the underworld. The power of Hell clung to him.

"Always." Gabriel knew his home better than he knew anything else. "But my magic is still blocked. I'm not going to know if we're in danger."

The thick forest was too dense for him to see beyond the first layer of trees.

"We have two choices. We go Rhyn-style and smash everything in our path to get to the palace. Or, we take our time to scout and plan for a day or so," Gabriel said, turning to face the others with him.

"I think Darkyn needs to make that call," Rhyn responded.

The smaller, lean Dark One, the third member of Gabriel's rescue party, was taking in his surroundings with a sharp gaze.

"How long does she have, Darkyn?" Gabriel asked gruffly. He wanted nothing to do with the demon lord. The only reason he allowed the Dark One to be there: the woman-turned-demon that was trapped somewhere in the underworld. They had no choice but to work together at this point.

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