Do you want to talk about it?
No, not really.
Because there are some things that are better left alone.
If you never talk about it, it will fester inside you forever,
like an open sore.
That's okay. I don't mind. I like my seeping wounds. They give
me something to pick at in the middle of the night. Pick, pick,
It isn't healthy.
I'm not healthy. If I was, I wouldn't be talking to you. I wouldn't
You should talk about it. Our conversations will be kept strictly
I don't believe you.
We are getting nowhere.
I had noticed.
You need to talk about the entire incident. You will feel better.
Tell me about 1794.
The year Jelial died.
No, Jelial 'died' almost a century later. That was the year
My faith, at any rate.
More then just your faith.
That was the year that God finally gave me the finger.
You almost went Bright.
Yeah, something like that. It was bullshit. I was much younger.
Just a kid, you know? I had some crazy romantic notion in my head
that I'd go off and live happy forever.
I grew up. I grew old. I gave in.
And what happened in 1794?
I got caught.
And I was summarily punished. And then afterward I went on with
It was the punishment that broke your spirit.
My spirit is far from broken, thank you.
That wasn't true for a long time.
Well... no. Maybe. Who knows. What does it honestly matter?
You keep it inside, and then you use it to devaluate your own
That's not a crime.
Only against yourself.
You aren't going to leave me alone, are you?
What I want is immaterial. I only am suggesting what is I believe
is good for you. If you do not wish to choose that course of action,
I cannot force you.
I'll take that as a yes.
You may assume any conclusion you wish.
You're a manipulative bitch, you know that?
If that is how you feel. I will accept that.
Tell me what happened. It will at least get it into the air.
Will you go away if I do?
I don't know.... it was a bad year. It was just a very bad year.
A bad year for everyone. Especially me.
Jelial was beheaded by way of guillotine in 1794 as part of the French Revolution. And then he came for me.
The trial was an untidy affair, an arbitrary mixture of law and conjecture which did not entirely satisfy anyone. After several conferences with the Prince and his advisors over a matter of days, a decision was reached. Punishment would be in the standard style for the lowliest of the servitors who did not rate the personal attention of the Prince. Punishment would be by crucifixion in the central square of Shal-Mari, during which I would be force-stripped.
The most interesting fact of the trial was that all the witnesses were my friends, associates, and subordinates, but they all seemed to be rather eager to see me crucified. They were rabid for blood, especially of one who had risen so high. I remember being passively intrigued.
They started on one of the downtown streets, up on a podium. Andre strutted up and down like a peacock master of ceremonies, quite proud of the crowd he was gathering. He was going to make an object lesson out of his own daughter, one not quickly forgotten. He grinned at me, and told me that since I was so in love with Christ I would now be able to really associate with him, from experience. He laughed, the high, easy, melodious sound, and the crowd laughed with him.
The demons clothed my nearly naked body in fine gossamer robes and pushed a crown of thorns down upon my brow. They handed me a bejeweled scepter of gold. They bowed down on their knees to me before the gathering crowds, and called me the Princess of Peace, the Lord of Happiness, the Savior of the Damned. They laughed, and stood, and spit on me and jeered. Then they took the robes from my body and clothed me once again in the tattered rags which had once been garments spun of linen and silk.
My mind was clouded now with pain and humiliation. The gaudy crowded streets filled with pushing denizens of the Pit began to take on the quality of a haze.
I dragged the heavy wooden cross on my back through the streets, between the throngs of demons who laughed and reached out to touch my clothes, my hair, fascinated. I watched those who watched me, who had once believed I would deliver them from the pain and the eternal agony. So close, yet so far. My eyes so filled with tears that sometimes I wandered off the path, and had to be nudged back on proper course.
The flat stones of the streets were slippery under my feet with blood and mucus and feces, running into the gutters along the sides beneath the sidewalks. I no longer felt the pain of the thorns in my forehead, and occasionally blinked blood out of my eyes. My body, throbbing, muscles strained, ached in tune to the pounding of my heart, like a drum.
I dragged the cross into the central square where they waited. I slipped on the stones and hit my head on the hard ground. I felt the hard wooden beam fall on top of me. I fainted.
I awoke, and stared into the wide cobalt eyes of a Sister, set deep in her face. She held a cup to my lips, the liquid smelled strongly of spiced wine. "Drink it," Dedan said. Her eyes held concern, for she didn't approve of this method of punishment. It wasn't, as she was prone to say, fair. "It will reduce your pain."
I reached up and knocked the cup away. Let me experience my pain.
The red skinned calabite soldier shrugged, and reached for my arm. Another one already held my other arm down to the wooden beam, flat against the wood.
I began to shake violently. The ropes cut painfully into my wrists and ankles. I struggled.
I felt something cold but unbelievably heavy placed in the center of my palm. I heard a sound that rang out in time with my heartbeats. I turned my head toward the sound and peered through the green hair that was clinging to the sweat on my forehead. I watched the large iron peg being driven through the palm of my hand, as I lay on the cross which was, at the present time, laying horizontal to the ground. I wondered, distantly, why there was no pain. Twice, the calabite missed the peg and hit my fingers instead.
I turned my head, and saw the other calabite hammering at the other peg. He had apparently missed the peg a great many times. It would be a long time before that hand completely healed.
The first soldier finished with his peg, and turned his attentions to my feet. I felt the hard iron nail slide through the flesh, and hit home.
They attached pulleys to the cross, and hauled it vertical. I looked to either side, but I was alone. No others were being crucified this day, although I knew that there were normally many in the square. It was, I figured, a special occasion.
I had a clear view over the buildings of Shal-Mari. Far to the horizon was the same pattern of hostels, flop houses, pool halls, bars, and run down buildings surrounded by a criss-cross honeycomb of windings streets. The same misery, depression, suffering, and futile scrabbling for one once of pleasure onward for eternity. I saw the never-ending Hell, and recognized it for what it was.
I looked down, and a small crowd had gathered beneath my feet. I dimly recognized one of the women. I called out.
My voice was cracked and it came out as a whisper. She turned her head and peered up at me, blinking. She pursed her lips together, and shook her head.
I felt my body dragging on the nails that supported it. I peered at my left hand, and saw that it was bleeding very heavily. There was a twinge of pain. Slowly, over time, the pain increased.
I peered down at the crowds below my feet. People bustled past to their eternal work, not even noticing another demon who had made the mistake of crossing her Prince. The calabite soldiers milled below, looking bored.
I sighed. The extra movement seemed to throw strain on my hands. I tried to shift away from the pain and ease back on the wood. The pain was quite intense now.
The pain spread throughout my body. I gritted my teeth. I gasped and cried out. I writhed.
I stared up at the blood red sky, knowing that Heaven was so far away, so far above me, never to reached in my lifetime. My eyes filled with tears.
There were voices below me. I saw the dim outline of shapes, watching me with interest.
"Please," I cried out, "Please let me down!"
I felt a cold draining sensation, and my sight dimmed. Pain filled my body. I slumped forward. No one came to let me down.
A little while later, I raised my head. It renewed the pain like fire throughout my body. Again I writhed.
"Let me down! Please! Please! Whatever you want, just name it! Just name your price!"
I gasped. Every part of my flesh, every muscle, sinew, bone was
alive with an almost impossible degree of pain. I had not anticipated
the extent of my suffering.
I raised my head one more time to the red sky, and cried out. "My God! Why have you forsaken me!"
And on the ninth hour, I lost my faith. God did not come down to end my suffering. There was no God for me, not then, not ever. My soul filled with dark emptiness.
The pain became duller with time. I coughed once more.
Before I lost consciousness for the last time, I started muttering under my breath, "It's a lie, it's a lie, it's a lie..."
As to what I was referring to, Hell, Redemption, or God, I do
not know. I suspect the correct answer is all of the above.
I had died. It would be nearly two centuries before I would live again.
I awoke up in a small white washed padded cell deep beneath Andealphus's Palace of Lust. It was clean, and came complete with a small cot, which contained white sheets and my body. Someone had bound my wounds, although it would be years before they were healed and I would never be rid of the scars on my hands and feet. I had been dressed in white flannel pajamas. I curled up in a ball and went back to sleep.
I lay on the bed, day after day, and no one came to see me. I heard no other prisoners. I saw no jailer. Sometimes I got up and paced. Sometimes I bashed my hands, and later my head, against the padded walls. Sometimes I lay on the cot and screamed.
Every once in a while, I became vengeful, and wondered what the world above was like without the presence of my Word? But no, even if I was not there to support it personally, it continued. Like I continued.
I learned to hate Andrealphus, but much of my mind was lost in the haze of preternatural darkness.
How long was I there, alone, with nothing but my thoughts?
You know, centuries later, I would be sitting home watching 'Xena:
Warrior Princess' of all things. And some character, I don't know
who, would mention that he had received some critical piece of
information from his niece who had been crucified by Romans. Apparently
she spat it out right before she died. I marveled at the human's
stamina, and presence of mind. At the end, I was hallucinating
wildly. There was no way I could have given out a critical piece
of information to save the day, even selflessly.
Television is a wonderful invention.
I heard much later that Andrealphus had left me to hang for all
to see for several days, and had ordered someone tack up a sign
which said 'Traitor' up there over my head. Much of that time
I was mercifully unconscious, and I missed that bit. Now it amuses
me. Then, it would have added a horror onto horrors.
Andrealphus had force-stripped me, you know. He took away everything
he had ever given me. I would earn a little bit back, but I was
swallowed up in hate and darkness. It would be years before I
was even functional again.
I can see that.
When I was much younger, I was infatuated with Christ. The city
I had always considered 'home' was Florence, in Italy, of three
hundred years ago. It is a very Catholic city, Florence. To blend
in with a Role, I made as all the humans made, and this included
attending the sermons on Sundays with the rest of the enlightened
upper class. I would participate in the solemn rituals, sing the
hymns, and sit there, fascinated by Christ. I had little interest
in the actual methodology of the religion for obvious reasons,
nor the fanatical mysticism behind it, but the figure on the Cross
mystified me. It was the man who interested me, the human being,
because he had been used and murdered to further political gains
and was still being used, two thousand years later. I wondered,
in an abstract way, if he was simply a construction of human consciousness,
created by a few devout, or if he really existed.
I had wondered about Redemption through pain and blood and humiliation
and death. And after it happened to me, I believed it was a scam
used to sell a religion for fun and profit. Christ never rose
up on the third day. And neither, when it came right down to it,
I lost my faith, but I did gain an interesting perspective.
I'd been all the way to the top in the power structure of Hell,
fallen to the bottom, and clawed my way back up again. My general
opinion is that it's all equally pointless.
And, it's just a vicious cycle. It wears on you day after day
after day until you give in and either go mad, or you give in
and die. I've tried both, and neither seemed to work out well
Have you given thought to the third option?
Give in and leave? It sounds like a coward's option to me.
If that is what you'd like to believe.
I still have star-shaped scars on my hands. And on my feet, but
those rarely come into view. They're reminders that it's better
to fight against the darkness then give into it.
Even without faith.
You need to find faith again.
To me, God is dead. He died on the Cross, and when He was taken
down, he was scurried off to some small dank laboratory to be
hacked up for parts, knowing a piece of the flesh of the holy
is considered to be lucky relics to some.
That is what Demonic faith is. We walk around with a hacked up
piece of God, like a finger which has been soaked in formaldehyde,
hanging from a chain or stuffed consolingly in a pocket, and we
wonder why it won't speak to us or give us mystical wisdom. We
wonder why it just hangs there, dead, and show off our lucky pieces
to each other. "Look! I received a holiest of Toenail Clippings!
Now it will confer unto me the power over the universe and the
adulation of the untold millions!" We don't receive the entire
Only shards in the darkness.
And I crawl around with the rest of them, clutching my holy relic
to my chest, and telling myself that if I just hold it up to my
ear long enough, it will speak to me of wisdom beyond my imagination.
Is that your Fate?
No. That is, I believe, my Destiny.