It had begun as normal, a trip through the wilds, into the dead forest, avoiding every faerie circle, ignoring the lights and their promises to bring back those he had lost, the whispers of spring being a time for a fresh start. It had been normal, even when he approached the cave with the abnormal amount of faerie circles around it, even with his magic acting weird, it wasn’t enough to concern him.
Haru passed through the entrance and slipped into the shadows, yet unnoticed by the Erinyes and Galbrezu within, the hellhounds outside mistaking his scent for that of one of their own, the whiff of sulphur having been enough to hide the human in his scent from them. What hadn’t been normal however, was the Balor in front of the rift, eyes bearing into his soul, no worry in its gaze as it stared down the little demon who now knew, he was in way over his head.
His first instinct was to slip into the shadows behind him, to flee, come back another day, he could return here now with magic after all. His instincts failed when he expected to feel the cold of his shadows, instead he felt the warmth of stones heated by hellfire, he stared back at it knowing then his luck had run out, he looked up at the fiend beginning to move, then to the entrance, he knew he wouldn’t be fast enough to beat the ones who could teleport. His options were limited, his feet still not sinking into the shadows as he begged for them to do something, to save him from his incompetence.
His eyes drifted to the rift, the fiend raising a long sword and whip as it lumbered to its feet, the reason he had come here in the first place, closing that…
He didn’t think about how he’d escape the other side, he didn’t think about food or survival, he wasn’t going to the side he knew, he was going into foreign territory, where many of the fiends he was fleeing from resided.
He darted under the demon, diving towards the portal, one thought on the cambions mind, escape, he couldn’t come home if he was dead, his contingency plans weren’t ready yet, he had to survive…
He hadn’t missed the pop as the rift sealed shut behind him, his eyes looking back and widening in fear, his portals before couldn’t cross through planes, that sound, it told him he was doomed.
The crystal around his neck glowed, flickering with a faint firelight, the boy turning and running, each step pulling him out of the open towards hidden spaces, the area around him a craggy valley, shadows and flames highlighting the dark stone, no rifts in sight, at this moment… he was truly stuck.
Fear overtook him as his eyes shifted to become darker, his horns shifting to a different shape, larger and sharper, skin becoming a firmer, more leathery, his tail taking on the barbed look it did when he began to lose control.
He darted into a cave and behind a stalagmite, crouching down as he found his spot for a moment, out of sight of the entrance, though not to those already within, who hadn’t seen his mostly human form. His breathing was laboured, eyes closed as he focused, not on maintaining control, but a plan, he hadn’t realized the shift, not yet, “Scared?” The voice was familiar, feminine, but Haru couldn’t place it, “What does a little demon like you have to be scared of? You’re home…” her voice was light, gentle, not something one would expect of a denizen of the Hells.
His gaze ticked up to the speaking succubus, his hand wrapping in a shadow, not wanting to fight but ready to, she was dressed modestly, for a succubus, dark hair falling down her shoulders. Dark eyes bored into his own, before widening, “You aren’t from here are you? Not in the same way the rest of them are. How did you wind up here…” her voice was quiet, but the familiarity nagging at Haru’s mind, she wasn’t like Fauve, or any other succubus he’d had the displeasure of working with, her first goal hadn’t been to manipulate him, to charm him. Fauve had proven capable of learning boundaries, even if she regressed, but most… didn’t.
He noted when she separated the others from them, looking at the entrance before back, lowering his hand slightly. The moment she moved forward however, it raised again, a blade forming from the shadows, “Don’t get any closer!” He was scared, his limiters glowing and then sputtering out entirely, this entire place radiating far more power than they could control, “I’ll leave just… don’t come any closer, please.”
She stopped her movements, eyes locked on the knife for a second, tilting her head at him, “Are you trapped here too?” Her voice was melodic, each word carrying into the next like a calming lullaby, “I’ve been trapped here since I turned, I don’t think we can leave…” that tone was what was familiar, the calming lullaby tone he was sure he had once heard in the song itself, “Please don’t go… it’s incredibly lonely, I’m cut off from others who can speak, others who would hunt us if we revealed what we are… I won’t use my magic, if you don’t use yours?”
He bit his lip, and held out his hand, it was a deal, a contract now, “I won’t use my magic against you, on the condition you do not use your magic against me, OR,” he held up a finger to stop her from speaking, “Do anything with the intent to cause me harm, I reserve the right to use it if I am in danger, do we have a deal?” He stared her down, there were probably loopholes he missed in this, but he was hoping to not stick around long enough to find them.
She stared at him for a moment, before taking his hand, “I can agree to that, company that I don’t eat or kill… sounds nice.” As the hands clasped, a thread of red flame dug into their skin, binding them. Their hands separated, the woman keeping her gaze locked on the boy currently in the form of an incubus, “Don’t let your human show while you’re here… the others will see you as food.”
The day passed quietly, the succubus who refused to reveal her name asking about the outside world, about Rhy’din, about specific people that had been alive last time she’d seen it, some names he knew, most he didn’t. Through the whole thing he never gave his name, nor did she ask.
Eventually fatigue overtook him, the young cambion curling up in the back of the cave, using his black hoodie as a pillow, shivering slightly as the breeze came through the cave, warm but unsettling without a blanket. His sleep was fitful, restless, the succubus eventually walking over, and just gently petting his hair to calm him down, “We’ll find you a way home…” she whispered, “One of us has to make it back… and you have someone waiting…” she’d seen the promise on his hand, she knew someone missed him, she just hoped they’d find a way in time, before the young man became like her, or worse, didn’t survive that long, death was never quick here.
((OOC : Haru’s gonna be out of live play for a while, could be a week, could be more, could be less. Feel free to do what you will with that information, his phone has no cell service, so no communication will reach him.))
His eyes revealed a pain when she spoke of being stuck, dark eyes stared down at the ground, “I have to go home, I promised her I’d always come home to her...” His voice was soft, “I can’t let her down,” His other hand touched that silver ring on his right hand, not an engagement ring, a promise, “How long have you been trapped here?”
There it was, a question that would determine a lot, if she could and would answer. She hesitated and looked out of the cave, as if she expected a sun over the horizon, “I don't know, I can't remember, I know I lived in Rhy'din once, and I can remember pieces, but years and days... those all blend together,” She shrugged, “I had to do what you did, I shifted, and I survived, I just didn’t have help to figure it out.” She smiled warmly, a sadness hidden deep in her eyes.
Haru stared at the meat, her words rang in his ears, she stared at him a moment, grief in her own eyes, “You need to learn the type of food that will sustain you and keep you from losing yourself,” She changed the topic as subtly as he ever did, before she moved to get up, “Change into something cooler, it is warmer outside the cave and we may have to trek a while to find what we need,” Her voice turned firm, her gaze cast away from him, the shadows morphed into a simple but cool outfit, most exposed skin covered.
Haru followed her lead as he thought on what she had said. Here in the hells, his powers felt easy to control, normal, the time of year in Rhy’din having messed with his flames, the veil between realms thinned in some places, thicker in others, being outside the city had fixed it, but he knew it wasn't a permanent solution. He stepped towards the entrance and took a look at the woman's face, squinting at the familiarity, “We’re going for a walk, are you ready?” Her eyes gazed over the wastes as she spoke, alert as she watched for threats.
Haru finally looked over the land now that he was not on the run. Small hellbeasts skittered across the open landscape, white hair and coal black eyes took in every detail, as he scanned the horizon, "I guess?" He had consumed souls before, to control and power his abilities, but that didn't make hunting them down any easier.
The duo set off, their feet sank into the scorching sand, coal black eyes on alert. It only took a few hours before they began to settle into a rhythm and Haru decided to ask a question, “I know you can’t remember much of your life... but is there at least a name I can call you?”
The woman blinked at the boy and his unexpected question, she took a breath and thought for just a moment, “I guess... they called me Yeona Cheong.”
Haru’s heart fell into his stomach, he stopped suddenly, and dropped his head to stare at the ground, it was a name he knew, a name he never thought he’d meet the owner of. A small laugh escaped his lips as he stopped, the boy trying to smother it behind a hand, the laugh of a broken man, who had just about hit his limit for coincidences.
She stared, her eyes wide, “Did I say something?” Even as she spoke something nagged at the back of her mind, something she couldn’t identify, something familiar.
Haru shook his head, before looking up and taking a step forward with a warm smile, “Come on, we need to eat, what’re we doing to get food again?”
Now it was Yeona’s turn to laugh, “Well, it never goes well, but we’re stealing a couple souls from a devourer,” there was a pause, “If we’re gonna go cause trouble, I should know the name of my fellow troublemaker, wouldn’t you say?” She grinned to the young man, teasing lightly with a look he often wore on his own face, a grin that threatened to stop him again.
“Haru Jeong,” he didn’t stop his steps, even as realizations dawned on him, “So... this could kill us, is our plan to kill it? Or just siphon a soul and run?”
She just smiled, a warm look to her eyes, “Be quiet and follow my lead, you’ll be ok, I promise.”
He stared, a conflicted look in his eyes, before he just nodded in agreement.
It took what in Rhy’din would equate for a full day for them to stumble into the den, the devourer... not asleep, but not seeming to notice around it’s meal of a hellhound.
Haru and Yeona moved silently, knives out, prepared to make strikes to get what they needed and run. Haru’s familiar on the other hand, taking the form of a little infernal dragon thanks to the influence of the Hells, squawked at the pair and brought the attention of the devourer down upon them.
Haru stared for only half a second, before he grabbed Yeona’s wrist and sprinted out of the cave, something unknown pulled him towards an exit, a rift to Rhy’din, the cool evening air hit their faces as they took the dive out of the portal.
It took seconds, before both infernal beings took on a more human visage, skin softened, flames faded, and Yeona lost consciousness, immediately sent to Haru’s home by the boy, conflicted thoughts on his mind as he did battle.
Even with all his questions he still visited every morning, this Monday morning he had brought a pair of black and white magical kittens, given life by a friend, snuggled up against his chest as he approached the apartment. She had mentioned the house felt empty. Haru had thought that perhaps the pair of kittens would give them something in common, something to distract Haru from his questions, and give the older woman some company.
The boy knocked at the door with the toe of his boot, “Yeona? It’s Haru, I brought a couple friends for you, can I come in?”
There was a quiet affirmation from the other side before the door opened to reveal a slender cambion with a bad case of bed head, horns swooping curled back away from her face, red eyes half focused. She had looked about to say something before her eyes sharply focused on the kittens, her hands hands moving to cover her mouth, an attempt to suppress the squeal on her lips.
Her hands had stayed over her mouth for a moment before she removed them to reach for the kittens and whisper, “Are they for me?” An excited tone to her whisper, an effort not to wake them.
Haru watched her reaction to the little critters, shifting his hands so she could take them, he desperately tried to hide the look in his eyes, the look of someone who saw a piece of himself, a piece his sister did not share, “Arla gave them life with magic, and I have a lot of cats... so I thought... maybe they’d make good companions, there’s wet cat food in the cupboards, and I can take you shopping for other supplies if you like?” The offer was made quietly, an effort to get to know her.
If Yeona saw the look she didn’t say, instead she took off deeper into the house to go clean up and find a way to control the kittens so they could come with them on their adventure, “Haru is there a pair of leashes? Or a crate I can borrow?” Her voice was light and melodic, it reminded Haru of both Byeol, and the bedtime stories the woman had once told to him, “Nevermind! Found a couple!” When he had told her to make herself at home she had taken it to heart, though never she never went through the boxes left in the apartment, not yet moved out to the place in the wilds.
Back she walked what felt like a few minutes later, dressed now in a form fitting long black dress, with a shawl over her shoulders, hair combed out and even a light layer of makeup on her face. The kittens were leashed easily, pawing at the leashes for only a moment before they accepted their fate in order to explore.
Haru waited beside the door, fingers tapped on his phone, off hand in his pocket as he waited, he did not expect it when she grabbed him by the wrist and hyper- actively pulled him towards the door, making sure it was locked behind them.
The teenager was startled as he was pulled along, her grip was tight but gentle, a grip that ensured she didn’t lose him as she pulled him along excitedly. He sighed quietly and fell into step, a small smile on his face, though reserved still, he noted she was as excitable as he had always been.
The two spent the day together, they bought supplies for the two kittens, and ate dinner together, Haru eventually taking off to duels after he went over care instructions for the kittens, she would be fine, he knew that.
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