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Something Worth Living For

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Keith is never ready for the blast of heat that rushes out to greet him when the doors to the throne room open. It sears even his lungs, ruffling his hair and stirring the heavy material of his robes.

Dis as a city is hot; everything on the fire plane is. But it’s the throne room in the base of the iron tower where the heat in the palace is most insufferable.

He steps through the doors, footsteps hushed on the thick carpet covering stones the color of iron. Fire lights the walls from deep trenches of oil at their base, forever burning.

The room is one big oven, the air rippling and shimmering with it, thick enough it's near impossible to breathe.

Braziers large enough for Keith to lay down in stand to either side of the throne. Each of them are blazing, their metal grates an angry orange. Only the spells on them keep the material from melting under the heat.

Keith has never understood Dispater’s desire for such an excessive display of flame, but it must make sense to the man or he wouldn’t fixate on it so much. Keith’s natural resistance to fire is the only thing keeping him for scorching in the space. He doesn’t know how Dispater himself stands it.

The general standing to the right of the throne watches Keith approach with stony eyes. Her hand falls to the blade at her hip in open warning as Keith comes to a stop before the throne. They call her The Iron Maiden. She’s as cold and unfeeling as Dispater himself and the head of his network of spies. She is Dispater’s eyes and ears and it’s said nothing happens in the city without her knowing about it.

Keith spares her a glance before bowing deeply.

“You summoned me my lord?”

Dispater stares down at him impassively, one long claw tapping against the arm of the throne.

He’s a general himself, the woman beside him almost as well known for her brutality in battle as he is. It is no wonder he’s chosen her to protect him.

“There is an auction to be held in the palace.” He sounds almost bored, tone cool and level, the same as it always is.

“You are to ensure order is maintained and bid on anything of interest.” He flicks his fingers dismissively. “You know what I like.”

Keith inclines his head in acknowledgement. By the standards of most in the city he’s quite small but he’s also a commander in Dispater’s army. A position he’d rightfully fought for and earned. He will not hesitate to draw blood should things get messy.

“As you wish my lord.” He bows deeply before turning to the imposing woman standing next to the throne, one hand still on her sword. She hasn’t removed it since he walked in, ready to cut him down at any perceived threat to the life of her lord.


She doesn’t so much as blink, eyes cold and hard as Keith takes his leave, backing away before turning.

The heavy iron doors open before he reaches them and he marches through. They shut behind him with a clang that rumbles in his ears, setting his teeth on edge.

The pit fiend waiting outside shoves a sack of gold into his chest, sneering down at him when it nearly knocks him off his feet and Keith snarls. An erinyes, his own personal guard for the auction, bares her teeth in warning.

“To get you started,” the fiend rumbles, thoroughly unimpressed, his voice vibrating the floor beneath Keith’s feet.

He takes the gold as a scroll is shoved into his face. It bears the bloody wax seal of all Dispater’s missives and orders; likely promising whatever the seller wants in payment to be delivered upon acquisition.

“For anything else you might decide is of interest to my lord,” the fiend growls.

Keith snatches the scroll from the friend’s massive hand. “I’m aware of how an auction works,” he snaps, fire spilling from his mouth. “I do not need the likes of you to tell me.”

The fiend just laughs and Keith marches down the hall. His own personal guard for the auction, an erinyes falls in line behind him and he passes the purse off to her. Keith pockets the scroll, trying to cool his temper.

He hates the auction.