The Underworld (Chapter Four, page 1 of 11)

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"Time does not pass in Hell as it does here."

Gabriel glanced over his shoulder at Darkyn, who was eyeing the sky with suspicion. The suns had gone down and popped back up in less than two hours only to remain in the same place in the sky for over ten hours. The night - if it could be called such - lasted less than forty-five minutes. A full day had passed while a second day seemed stuck.

"You get used to it." Gabriel almost smiled at the demon lord's discomfort and faced forward again, focused on the trail at his feet. The Underworld wasn't resisting his plunge into the forests, but it wasn't exactly helping much, either. As he expected, branches and bushes shifted to create a path for him to walk.

But they moved so slowly, he'd thought twice about abandoning the path and using his sword to hack through the trees.

"These are not real trees," Darkyn added, smashing the hilt of his dagger into a snake-like branch that got too close.

"The trees are a defense mechanism. Normally, they tear demons a part, limb from limb," Gabriel said. "Show a little respect, Darkyn. They're being relatively civil with you."

The demon lord growled from deep in his chest. He was a generally tolerable companion, one who remained quiet, for the most part, and helped push stubborn bushes or branches out of the path when needed.

In truth, Gabriel wasn't certain why the trees hadn't attacked the demon. It was nothing he had done. He'd tried asking the trees for help getting to the palace. The most they were willing to do was grudgingly move out of the way - and it was clear they weren't happy about it. If they wanted to tear Darkyn a part, they weren't about to listen to Gabriel telling them to stop.

As if aware of his resentment, the path disappeared.

Gabriel looked up and froze.

The trees had formed a wall before him, blocking the direct route to the palace completely.

"You -" Darkyn started.

"Don't say a fucking word, demon," Gabriel snapped, frustrated. "How the fuck do I get to where I need to be when my own underworld won't listen to me?" He placed his hands on his hips, unable to imagine his predecessors running into any sort of problems like he had since taking over as Death. "Is it because I'm of human origin? Are you working for Harmony now?" The words were directed at the wall of foliage before them.

Darkyn's dark chuckle was amused. "Baby god, can you not see what is before you?"

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