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A Halo Sent to Hell

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White.

That’s the first thing you see when you open your eyes. As you begin to arise from your slumber, the blue sky and blazing sun also find their way into your vision. The scenery gives you a calming sense before you realize your situation: you had no idea where you were. Nothing around looked like your home, so how did you get here? Panic begins setting in your mind as you try to find any memories that could explain why you were here. Then it hits you. Suddenly, in a single moment, you recall the reasoning behind your predicament: you were dead.

You can feel yourself go pale, unable to fully accept that you had passed on. Even though you remember every vivid detail of your death, it still felt unbelievable. You give yourself a quick pinch on the arm just to check if it was a dream, but no such luck. This was real. You died. But soon, you realize something. If you’re seeing white all around, does that mean you made it to Heaven? You were at least able to find solace knowing that. You’d be able to see family and friends that also crossed the rainbow bridge! Just thinking about all the faithful reunions that would come makes you perk up. Maybe you would feel happy being in the afterlife after all.

“Oh good, you’re finally up,” you hear someone say behind you, pulling you out of your thoughts. A woman walks towards you, a gentle smile worn on her face. The lady wore all white, complementing her golden hair. Her most distinguishable features, however, were what caught your immediate attention: large, pearl-white wings on her back and a halo which hovered above her hair. She was the true embodiment of an angel.

“Welcome to the Golden Gates! I’m Miranda, and I’m here to guide you through your new home!” she says in a cheerful voice.

“M-my new home?” you ask with a shocked expression. “So, I’m going to Heaven?!” you can’t hold back the sheer joy in your voice.

She chuckles a bit. “Of course, you are. We are standing on the clouds, aren’t we?”

You look down to your feet, and, low-and-behold, you were walking on clouds. “Huh, I guess we are, haha,” you say a bit embarrassed. How did you not notice that sooner? “Oh wait!” you suddenly realize, “I’m sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. I’m—"

“I know,” Miranda interrupts, surprising you by saying your name before you can utter it out. “Don’t worry, it’s my job to know everyone that comes to enter Heaven. I introduce every new angel to our world.”

“Huh,” you respond lamely. You scratch your head awkwardly, but then you feel something odd on your back, or, more appropriately, you don’t feel anything at all. Not even angel wings. “H-hey, if I’m an angel, don’t I get my own wings?”

Again, she chuckles, “Ah, you newcomers always ask that. I suppose it should be expected,” she turns around to fully show off her feathered wings. “Every angel does not instantly get their wings. An angel only gets wings when they earn them.” She turns back to face you, prepared for the next question every new angel inquires.

“Well, how do I earn mine?” you ask.

“It depends. There are no real specifications for when an angel earns their wings. It just depends on when God feels you earned them. The way I earned mine was by taking this position of greeter. But I’m sure you’ll earn your wings in no time.” She responds. “You do, however, get this,” she begins, stretching out her hands. Suddenly, a beam of light shines down onto her palms, a large ring manifesting from nothing. You soon realize what it is: a halo. “This is for you.”

You stand there, just staring at the accessory. Slowly, you reach your hand out and grasp it, bringing it up to your head. Wondering how it stays in place, you hold it up. It soon makes a *click* sound, signaling it’s in place. “Wow,” is the only word you can utter at the moment. Miranda shows you your reflection in a hand-held mirror, and you notice the white ring hovering over you.

“You can also take it off any time you wish. Believe me, it can be a hassle to sleep while wearing those, so feel free to keep it there or remove it whenever you please,” Miranda informs you. You decide to keep it on, for now, wanting to indulge the moment, the giddiness inside you not only increasing in size. “You seem excited,” she notes, “are you ready to enter into Heaven?”

With a wide grin, you shout “Yes!” You couldn’t believe this was truly happening! All of your life, you’d done your best to be a good person. Of course, you were by no means perfect, but knowing all of the good you had done in your life greatly outweighed the bad, you weren’t ashamed to admit you were proud of the life you lived. All those years finally built up to a beautiful afterlife, and you couldn’t wait to start the new chapter of your life. ‘Well,’ you think to yourself, ‘I guess this would be the epilogue of my story since I’m already past the end.’ That didn’t deter you though, as it meant you would truly have a “happily ever after” conclusion.

With a sincere smile, Miranda takes your hand and walks with you to Heaven - your new home.

----

Charlie was… admittedly nervous about the interview in a few days.

But excited to unveil her project! …

But worried about embarrassing herself on TV…

But excited! …

But worried…

Maaaaybe an 80-20 split on excitedness and nervousness?

Okay, so she was, possibly, a liiiiitle more nervous than she let on but could anyone blame her?! She was about to be on 666 News with Katie Killjoy and Tom Trench: two of the biggest names in all of Hellywood! Sure, she may be the princess of Hell, but not the popularity one would think would come with royalty. What if she stumbled on her words or everyone laughs her off the show? Maybe she should sing to get her point across? She’d always done better with song than speech. Or what if—

“Charlie?” she hears as she paces in the lounge of the Happy Hotel. She’s stopped by the voice of Vaggie, her best friend and co-owner of the hotel.

“Vaggie!” she startles, “Ehehehe, w-when did you get here?”

“Just a few seconds ago. Are you doing alright, hon? You’re gonna leave a hole in the ground with how much you’ve been pacing,” Vaggie notes.

"Ah, yeah, I'm just... preparing for the interview," Charlie replies lamely, "trying not to psyche myself out, y'know?"

"I know you're a bit worried, but I know you're gonna do great. The worst thing you can do is overthink it. Just stick to the script and you'll do fine," Vaggie offers in comfort. Even with those words, Charlie can't help but feel unsure of the whole plan.

"Do you really think people are gonna wanna come to the hotel? What if I mess up and completely ruin everything? What if they all see me as a joke?"

Vaggie thinks for a moment before speaking next. "Listen, I understand why you're nervous, but know that no matter what happens, I'll be there to support you. This is our project, and we're gonna make it work, no matter what. And if anyone laughs at you, they won't be after I'm through with them." That gets a laugh out of Charlie. That was just one aspect of Charlie that Vaggie really liked-her laugh. It was a joyous sound, one that lit up any place that it could be heard. Vaggie couldn't help but let out a few laughs just from her reaction.

With her mood brighter, she asks one more time, "You sure I shouldn't sing instead? I think it'd really get people's attention!" This wasn't the first time Vaggie had been asked that question, and it was the same answer everytime.

"Believe me, it would definitely get attention, alright. But we need to be professional about this to show everyone that we are a serious operation," she responds. "Now come on, we've still got some cleaning to do for our grand opening."

As Vaggie walks out to get some supplies, Charlie takes a breath. The reassurance from her friend had truly shaken most of the anxiety away, and she felt this new wave of confidence for the upcoming event. Her big passion project was finally getting the attention it needed. No demon would have to be brutally slaughtered by the angels in another extinction. Soon, hundreds of sinners would be lining at the door, waiting to receive the help they need to become better people! She could already envision the bubbling atmosphere of the Happy Hotel filled with new patrons, embarking on the journey of self-betterment. Just the idea gave Charlie faith in her beliefs- it's never too late for anyone to change. Sure, there'd be naysayers like her mother and father but she knew that this is what Hell truly needed.

A newfound feeling of giddiness arises inside of Charlie as she goes to help Vaggie prepare for opening night.

Chapter Text

Heaven was, for lack of a better term, heavenly.

Of course, it had the typical white scenery depicted on Earth, but the world above was much vaster than what anyone could have envisioned. It seemed the land was truly endless with an impossibly large area filled with numerous buildings and homes. All around, angels either walked or soared around the land, their paths seen with marks left on the clouds. You were left in awe at the beautiful sight, realizing that this is the place you would call home.

“Do you like it?” Miranda asks, leading you to an unknown location.

“Like it?” you respond, “I love it! I mean, how could anyone not? It’s… it’s entrancing just to look at.”

She grins. “Yep, that’s always my favorite part about guiding the new souls up to Heaven…” she pauses. “Well, I guess it’s my second favorite part.”

“What’s your favorite part then?”

“You’ll see,” is the only response you receive from her.

You continue to walk, you still ogling at the world around you and her just enjoying watching your reaction. “So how long have you been guiding us ‘new souls’ through Heaven?”

“Eh, about 4 months, I think. I’ve only been dead for half a year or so.”

“Wow, so you’re still pretty new to Heaven, huh? Why did they pick you as the guide?” You ask her, “No offense or anything, but I figured they’d have someone who’s been here longer, y’know?”

“None taken. I was surprised too when I was given the job, but I was given it for a reason. It’s my purpose in the afterlife, and soon you’ll find yours.”

‘Purpose in the afterlife’. It was already a challenge to find your purpose in the living world, and now there’s another to find in Heaven?

“Well, since we’re on the subject of jobs,” Miranda continues, “we’ve already got a job lined up on you. You’re gonna be working on the Annual Cleanse. It’s a pretty big job, so we’re gonna be a lot of hands to help in it.”

“S-seriously?!” You shout in frustration, “I die, and my job is to do some cleaning?!”

In that moment, her smile falters, something you didn’t expect to see. “It’s, uh, not the cleaning you’re used to doing, trust me. You’ll be working with Nicholas’s team, and it’ll be about 100 angels in total. I know it sounds bad, but believe me, it’s a lot worse than it sounds. Personally, I don’t agree with it, but Nick insists to bring the new people in.”

“Gee, thanks for the reassurance.”

“No problem,” she says as a small smirk grows on her face. Finally, you stop in front of one of the houses. It looked identical to the surrounding ones with a key difference: your last name embroidered on the sign in front of it. “We’re here!”

“I’m assuming this is my place?”

“It is, but there are some others here you’ll be sharing with,” she gives you. For a moment, you were a bit confused about it. But it soon dawns on you the implication of her words, and you go wide-eyed out of shock. Instantly, you knock on the door, waiting impatiently for an answer.

It takes a few seconds, but the door creaks as it opens, revealing the inside of the house, along with someone standing in front of it. “Oh my gosh…” you hear the person say. The door fully opens, and you see a sight you thought you never would get to see again: your sister.

Your eyes meet hers as the two of you just stare, not fully processing the reality of the reunion. As soon as the initial surprise fades, the tears begin to form. You instantly hold each other in a strong embrace, afraid that if you let go, the other would disappear.

You remained in the tight hug, tears still streaming down your faces. Finally letting each other go, you see the wide smile that she has, true happiness displayed from seeing you. “I can’t believe it! It’s so good to see you again! How are you?! How are Mom and Dad?!” A never-ending list of questions comes from her, so many that you only pick up a few.

“It’s so nice to see you too! I missed you so much. You don’t know how hard it was on all of us when you died.” The recollection of her death made you almost tear up even more. When you lost your sister all those years ago, it felt as though the world around you was crumbling. Nothing felt real for a while, and it felt as though you were drifting through life, just waiting to have the same fate as her. Eventually, with enough support from friends and loved ones, you were able to recover from the death, hopeful that one day you would be reunited in Heaven. And it turned out your hope wasn’t in vain.

She seems to start tearing up remembering her passing. “I could only imagine what that must’ve felt like. I’m so sorry you all had to live like that.” She offers her sympathy in the form of another hug.

“You say that like your death was your fault,” you say in an attempt to make her feel less guilty. “It’s okay. Though I’m sure me dying probably made things even worse for Mom and Dad.”

“I bet. But they’ll overcome it. They’re strong. They raised us to be strong. And one day, we’ll all be here, together again.” Her words do give you a sense of optimism at the complete family reunion. “Oh! You gotta come inside! You have to say hi to everyone else!”

“Everyone else? There’s more?”

“Duh. Our grandparents, and our great grandparents, and our great-great-grandparents, and our great-grea-“

“Okay, okay! I get it! I have a lot of family to catch up with,” you interrupt, getting a chuckle out of her.

“Well, I think I’ll leave you to your business here,” Miranda states. In all the commotion with your sister, you had totally forgotten she was there. “I’ll come back to talk to you about your new job. You enjoy some family time.”

“Thanks, Miranda,” you reply.

“No problem. Oh, and to answer your earlier question, this is my favorite part of my job,” she notes. “See you later.” With that, she takes off into the air, making her way back to help other new angels.

“Well, come on! Are you coming in or what?!” Your sister impatiently asks as she starts pulling your arm into the house.

“Alright, I’m coming!” You laugh. Looking outside one last time, you breathe a content sigh and shut the door.

----

Spending time with your deceased family was surreal, to say the least. It was nice to reconnect with family that you lost when you were alive and meet the ones who you never had the chance to see. Just being around them opened up a whole new part of your past that you had no idea existed. It was… it was an experience you would never give up.

But the day finally came- cleaning day. Needless to say, you were less than thrilled to be assigned to this job. But if it was the job assigned to you, you would put on a brave face and do your part. Once you arrived at the job site, you look around, seeing plenty of other angels waiting for this cleaning. A few, like you, didn’t have their wings grown in, obviously new to the scene while the majority sported their wings, some seeming excited at this opportunity to earn them.

You spot Miranda approaching you with another angel walking beside her. His face was… stoic, to put it mildly, showing a stony complexion that gave the appearance of a military leader. “Ah, there you are!” Miranda greets, “I’d like you to meet Nicholas. He’s in charge of the cleanse, and he’ll be your boss for the time being.”

You stretch your arm out for a handshake. “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” you offer with your name.

He looks at your hand, then back to your face. “Nicholas,” is all he gives. You bring your arm back to you, dejected. “Are you ready to help with the cleanse?”

With a fake smile, you say, “Anything to help Heaven, right?”

“That’s the attitude we need.” He hands you a bag, “Here, this is what you’ll be using. You look inside, expecting to find some sort of cleaning supplies. But instead, the bag was filled with… arrows?

“Uh,” you respond confusedly, “how am I supposed to clean with these?”

“Well, you’ll need this, of course,” he then gives you another object: a bow.

“What are these for? I thought we were cleaning, not doing archery.”

“Believe me, the only way this cleanse will work is with these weapons,” is all he gives you as he signals for everyone to follow his lead. All the people gather around and follow his lead, heading towards the edge of the clouds.

“Well, I’ll be off now.” Miranda tells you, “Good luck out there.” She gives you one last smile before heading out. Once she’s gone, you feel a sense of dread welling up inside you. But why would you feel that? It’s only some cleaning… right?

“Now, everyone,” Nick announces, drawing you out of your thoughts, “when we get down to Hell, you’ll need to be cautious. That filth down there will do everything in their power to take you out. Do not let yourself fall victim to that filth. We will eradicate as much of them as possible, and then return back here.”

“Eradicate?” You ask out loud.

“Yes, as angels, we must clean up the filth of the afterlife. The only way to do that,” he explains, “is by eradicating the demons of Hell.”

Your eyes went wide, trying to process those words. ‘Eradicate the demons?’ So, he wanted you to kill them?! Why is that okay to do in Heaven? And why did it seem as though you were the only one against it? Most of the other angels didn’t seem to be as put off to the idea as you were. In fact, they seemed eager to begin the cleanse. You, on the other hand, had never seen the good in killing, placing great value into life. Even though they were all already dead, that didn’t give anyone the right to take away their existence in the afterlife!

You were too lost in panic as Nick ordered the other angels to take the decent. As more and more jumped from the clouds, you began to quiver more and more, horrified with the idea to take another’s life. You couldn’t do it. There was no way in heck that you would kill anyone.

“Well, what are you waiting for?” Nick asks you impatiently. You look around and see you’re the last one who hasn’t gone. You try to force your legs to move towards the edge, but you couldn’t. Your body physically wouldn’t let you go through with this. The mere thought of slaying the demons made you sick. So what did you do instead?

You ran.

“HEY!” Nick barks at you, “GET BACK HERE!” You keep running. You hear him chase you, trying to force you to participate in this slaughter, but you were too determined to slow down. You ran until you heard him let out an annoyed grunt and you turned around, seeing him go down to join the other angels in the cleanse.

You eventually run back to your home, where your sister and your other family are. “H-hey,” your sister asks, “is everything alright?” You begin to explain everything: Nicholas, the cleanse, you running away. You could feel the tears begin to form as you tell her how terrified you were at the prospect of the cleanse. She just listens to you silently, letting you vent about the situation and how you felt. Heaven was not at all what you thought it would be. There’s no way something like this would be allowed right?

No way you would believe something like this would be accepted by God, right? Something that resulted in so much brutality.

So much pain.

So much…

Death.

----

Death.

That’s all she sees around her.

Charlie watched as the angels rained down from Heaven, killing the demons of Hell. Her people.

She heard the screams of the demons as they were slaughtered and saw the bodies fall to the ground all from her balcony.

‘Why?’ she asked herself. ‘Why do we deserve this?’ She couldn’t help but let the tears stream down her face, watching helplessly as so many of her people were pillaged by the beings of Heaven.

“Charlie,” she hears someone call out to her. She turns and sees Vaggie once again, a saddened expression worn on her face. Vaggie always hated seeing Charlie like this. She was always the sunshine that lit up the dimness of Hell, and every extermination took that light away. Not like she could blame Charlie. Who wouldn’t feel heartbroken seeing thousands die? Vaggie opens her arms, offering a hug to console her best friend, and Charlie doesn’t hesitate the offer.

She sobs all her emotions out on Vaggie’s shoulder. Quietly, Vaggie sings, “A la nanita nana, nanita ella, nanita ella.” She remembers fondly of the times her mother would sing it to her: how gentle her voice was and how she would be soothed by how comforting it was whenever she needed it the most. “Min niño tiene sueño bendito sea, bendito sea.”

As they remained in each other’s embrace, Vaggie’s song overtaking the screams heard from outside, Charlie gradually calms herself. “W…we...” Charlie starts, stuttering through her sobs, “We can’t let this happen anymore,” Charlie says, her voice slightly muffled by Vaggie’s shirt.

“We won’t,” Vaggie asserts, “No one will die from another cleanse. We’ll make sure of that.”

Charlie looks up, her eyes still reddened from the tears, with a look of determination in those eyes.

“Never again.”

----

Things weren’t looking great for you right now. After you abandoned the ‘Cleansing’ team, Miranda arrived at your door. She informed you that Nick wanted a word with you and the way she said it didn’t make you think it would be a pleasant one. You weren’t looking forward to it, but something tells you that if you ignored the meeting, it would only make things worse for you, and potentially, your family.

That’s why you were here, standing in front of the building where Nick worked, trying to mentally prepare yourself for whatever he had to say to you.

“Hey,” you hear a voice call out. You turn to see it was your sister running to you. “so, what do you think is gonna happen to you?”

“Hopefully, it’ll be just a slap on the wrist, but who knows with Nick? I mean, how could a man who thinks killing means cleansing be reasonable about this sort of thing?! Did you know anything about these ‘cleanses’?”

“I don’t know much about it, just the basic stuff of ‘cleansing the afterlife’ or whatever, but I never really paid much attention to it. I’m a bit too scared of the boss to say anything about it. But I heard that he hates deserters,” she warns.

“Well, I have plenty of words to say to him. I don’t care who he is or what people say about him, he doesn’t scare me.”

“I’m sure he doesn’t. You always had a sturdy backbone on you,” your sister compliments, “but please, be careful with him. I know he isn’t exactly the nicest of guys, but I truly think he’s not bad. Maybe just different morals, but he has to be good if he made it into Heaven, right? Please, don’t do anything to rash in that meeting.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll keep a cool head,” you reassure, “just don’t expect me to suddenly be all gung-ho about wanting to join his extermination mission.”

She nods. “I don’t. I’m not a fan of what they do, either. I never had the courage to speak up against him, but maybe you’ll be the one to make a change,” she encourages. With one final hug, she says, “Well, I think I’ll head home now. Gonna get the food ready for all of us back home. Good luck with the meeting. You’ll be great!”

With a smile, you bid her farewell and watch her fly back to the house. You turn back towards the building where Nicholas was waiting to reprimand you. You let out a deep sigh. “Welp, let’s get this over with.”

----

“What happened today?!” Nick asks without taking his eyes away from his papers, “you were assigned to aid in the annual cleanse, and yet, you abandoned the team. Why?”

Trying not to let him get to you, you answer “I couldn’t, in good conscience, take the lives of demons. I’ve never been one to kill, and I don’t intend to start in Heaven.”

“Why would you care about what happens to demons? They had a chance to be a part of our kingdom, but they wasted their lives by indulging in sin. It’s people like them that ruin the harmony of the afterlife, and it’s up to us to clean the filth.” You see his cool composure slowly fade away with each word he says. “Do you know who those people are?” He continues, “Thieves, druggies, murderers. Scum. Each and every one of them. Why do they get to enjoy their time in Hell? They don’t deserve to live in that sinner’s paradise after all the detestable things they did while they’re alive.”

“What do you mean by ‘sinner’s paradise’?”

He looks you dead in the eyes. “Hell’s not what it used to be. Before, it was a place where people would suffer for their lives of sin. But now? It’s a joke. A place where anyone can do anything they want without worrying about punishment. They have it all down there: drugs, porn, alcohol: everything they indulged in while they were alive. If it weren’t for us, they wouldn’t have any punishment to face. That’s why these cleanses are necessary. To give these sinners what they deserve.”

You could feel the anger rise, blood boiling at how nonchalantly this “angel” was talking about killing demons. “With all due respect sir, I won’t be the one to take another’s life. I know that they’re demons and they may be sinners, but they don’t deserve to die again,” you explain, trying to justify your actions.

He pinches his nose bridge out of frustration “Believe me, I’ve heard the same spiel thousands of times. I hate people like you: people who act as if they’re taking the moral high ground. All you’re doing is justifying that sin should be rewarded, not punished. And as your superior, when I tell you to do something, it’s your duty to follow it.” A part of you was hurt that he so blatantly said he didn’t like you. You were always a people-pleaser when you were alive, helping anyone whenever you could and trying to offer support to others. Having someone openly say their thoughts of you like that damaged your self-esteem a bit, but you didn’t let it show.

“Look, I get that you don’t like me, and I respect that you’re my boss, but the killing of these demons is an unnecessary punishment for them. If you expect the afterlife to be ‘cleansed’ by taking lives, then that’s not something I’ll ever support,” you respond to his curt answer.

“I expect you to follow your orders. However, you chose to run away when you were ordered to help. There will be severe repercussions for this, you know. Forget about earning your wings; you’ll be worrying about your place in Heaven if you keep acting like this,” Nick explains with a smirk. It was clear he was getting a rise from this ordeal, clearly seeing this as the perfect excuse to not have you around anymore.

This conversation was going nowhere fast. But you can’t give up yet! You’re not going to sit by as millions of demons are unjustly killed. But how are you going to stop this?

Should you make a cool approach with the issue? Maybe he’d be willing to go for some sort of deal. He may be very crass with you, but he doesn’t seem unreasonable. There must be some peaceful resolution to this for both of you to be satisfied. But it’s clear he doesn’t care much for you. Would he even listen to what you have to say? Or would he just ignore you and continue the “cleansing” without a second thought?

Or would an aggressive approach work better with Nick? Sure, it wouldn’t be very angelic of you, but it might be the only way for Nick to listen. Maybe some sort of threat would be best to deal with him. Surely, his higher-ups wouldn’t tolerate the way he’s handling these situations, so you could use that to your leverage. However, he is a bit hot-headed himself. Who knows what he would do if you decided to threaten him? He wouldn’t be so heated about a threat that he’d hurt you. He doesn’t despise you that much… does he?

What should you do?

  • Calm (Make a deal)
  • Aggressive (Threaten him)

Chapter Text

‘Please,’ you remember your sister’s words, ‘don’t do anything too rash in that meeting.”

She was right. It wouldn’t be right to try and threaten him. Using violence to stop violence wouldn’t work, and you don’t want to stoop to that level just to get your way. ‘There has to be a way I can convince him to stop,’ you think to yourself.

“Well,” Nick startles you, “if we’re all done here, it’s time to warrant out your punishment.”

“Wait!” You exclaim, “There’s gotta be some agreement we can make. I know you don’t like me, and I respect that, but I’m not going to give up here. Please, let me find a way to help those demons that doesn’t end up with them dying.”

“And what, exactly, did you have in mind?”

‘Think. What would convince him to let you try?’ you think to yourself. ‘There’s no way he would take you seriously with some lame idea like ‘writing a strongly written letter’ or anything like that. What would show him that I really do want to save the demons?’

Then, an idea came to you.

“I… I’m willing to go down into Hell and help them.”

His eyes go wide at hearing that. “Y-you what?! You’re willing to leave Heaven just to try and help that… that filth?!”

“I mean, didn’t you say I should be worried about my place in Heaven? So, wouldn’t I be going down to Hell anyway?”

“I-“ It seems like you caught him off guard with that. “You know, I wasn’t being serious when I said that. I was just thinking something along the lines of community service or a similar punishment. And even if I were serious, it would be insane for any angel would voluntarily leave Heaven!”

“Regardless, I think going down into Hell is the best way for me to help them.” You continue. “If I can go down and show the demons that they can be better, then maybe I could save some of those lost souls and, you know, guide them into Heaven, or something.”

He stares, shocked riddled across his face. “You’re serious. You’d really risk your life just to help those sinners? You’re willing to give up your life in Heaven with all of your family just for that filth?”

When he asks you that, you realize he’s right about that. Heaven is truly a beautiful place that anyone would feel lucky to live in. It’s what millions of people strive their whole lives to see, yourself included. Is it really worth it to abandon it all? To leave the holy kingdom? To leave your sister and all of your family behind? All to have a chance to somehow save the people of Hell. Is that… really the right choice?

Yes.

“If it means I have a chance to prevent them from dying, then yes. I’ll give it all up.”

Again, you’ve seen to leave him speechless. He composes himself again before speaking. “A-alright. So, let’s say you somehow manage to not die in Hell and rescue those ‘misguided souls.’ What is it you want?”

“If I can prove that demons don’t need to be killed for Hell to be ‘cleansed’, then you stop your annual massacres and leave the people of Hell alone.”

“And if you don’t?”

You pause, thinking of a suitable agreement. “If I can’t help the demons, then I’ll agree to stop arguing with you about your ‘Annual Cleanse.’ I won’t go against you again, and I’ll listen when you give me a job to do, no matter what.”

“You understand that you’ll be surrounded by sinners, right? There’s a chance that their unholiness will rub off on you. It’s possible that you won’t even be allowed access back into Heaven if that happens. You’ll lose your place in Heaven permanently, and you’ll be trapped in Hell as another fallen angel.”

“Well, that’s a risk I’m willing to take,” you say confidently.

“Hmm…” Nick ponders, “you’re really committed to protecting these sinners, aren’t you? Why is that?”

“Well, like I said,” you explain, “life is something I see a lot of value in. If there’s a way around killing, then I’ll find it. Plus, it’s not fair to kill them just for being sinners. I know I wasn’t perfect when I was alive, and I’m sure many other angels, including yourself, weren’t either.”

“That’s true, I had my fair share of mistakes in my life,” he recalls, “but I made penance with those sins, as did you and other angels. Those demons never did.”

“I-I know. But still, I believe that anyone can change if they really want to try, including demons. Just let me try and show them that there’s still hope,” you plea to him.

He’s silent for a bit, seeming to consider the options. After a few moments, he lets out a sigh. “Alright. Deal,” he says, “I will give you a chance to help those demons.”

“R-really?” you were surprised. You honestly weren’t sure if Nicholas would even give your request a second thought. You couldn’t help the smile grow on your face, “Thank you, Nick.”

“Don’t thank me yet. After all, you’re going down to Hell. The place where they hate angels, especially after the recent cleanse,” he warns. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll gather some things for you that should help you. I’d recommend that you go say goodbye to your family while I do that.” He walks out of the room, not waiting for you to respond.

This was really happening. You were really about to jump into Hell and risk never coming back into Heaven.

----

“You’re WHAT?!” your sister practically screams at you. It was pretty much the reaction you were expecting her to have. When you went to say goodbye to your family, most of them tried to convince you to stay, but you asserted yourself, convincing them to accept your decision. Your sister, however, was never that easily swayable.

“I know, it sounds crazy, but I can’t stand idly by and do nothing about the demons,” you try to explain.

“Forget about the demons, what about us? You’re just gonna leave everyone up here in Heaven? I don’t think you’ve thought this through all the way.”

“You think this is easy for me? Believe me, the last thing I want to do is abandon you guys. But people are dying out there. I can’t just let it happen without at least trying to make a difference.”

“But…” she starts, her voice beginning to shake. “w-what if you’re one of the ones to die? I… I… I don’t want you to die trying to help.” She blinks, trying to keep the tears from falling. “You don’t deserve to die, especially for demons. You earned a happy life in Heaven with us. Please, don’t give it all up. I don’t want to lose you…”

You knew this wouldn’t be easy. Saying goodbye never was. Even you didn’t want to walk out the door. You wanted to stay right here, spending the rest of the afterlife peacefully with your family. She was right. You didn’t deserve to die for them.

But…

“I know. I’m scared, too. I know full and well that I have a good chance of dying down there. But if I can help even one person, save one life, then it’ll all be worth it.”

“…You really won’t change your mind, will you?”

“Not this time, I’m afraid.” You release your grip from her hand, giving her one last hug. She didn’t return the hug, seeming still focused on what you said. “I’ll be okay,” you assure her.

You let go of her, still not getting any physical reaction. But you can see her face, the anger she had fading into sadness she hid.  “Goodbye, sis,” you say, turning towards the door to leave.

“Wait!” she screams, grabbing your hand in a tight grip. “Promise me! Promise me that when you’re done, you’ll come straight back to Heaven. To us. I’m not letting go unless you promise!... Please.”

She tried to be strong, but you could see the cracks in her mask of anger growing as the sadness showed itself.

“I promise.”

She doesn’t say anything as she pulls you against her, wrapping her arms around you firmly. You immediately reciprocate the hug, clenching her as tight as you could. You felt your shoulder become stained with her tears, the mask finally fully broken.

“Please… don’t die.”

“I won’t,” you assured. “I promise.”

----

You find Nick waiting by where he told you to meet- near the sight of where you gathered for the Cleanse. “Ah, there you are. Did you get a chance to say goodbye?”

“Yeah, I did.”

“Good, good. I know it’s not easy saying goodbye, but everyone has to say it at some point.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Never gets easier, does it?”

“Unfortunately, not,” he says solemnly. His face shows that he’s had plenty of experience with goodbyes, most likely not pleasant ones.

Trying to get his mind to not focus on that, you ask, “So what did you want to give me?”

“Ah, yes. I brought some items that should help you down there.” In his hands, he held a bag you remember once holding yourself and a familiar-looking bow along with it.

Immediately, you push his hands away. “I told you I’m not gonna kill anyone!”

“I know that,” he says, “but you’ll be killed if you don’t have anything to protect yourself with. Demons won’t hesitate to attack you if they find out you’re an angel, and not just because of the Cleanse.”

“Why else?” you inquire.

“You see, angel’s blood is very useful to demons. Drinking it makes them stronger and more dangerous than a normal demon. If you aren’t equipped to at least be prepared for an ambush, you won’t survive long down there.”

“Wait,” you interrupt, “if we die in the afterlife, where do we go? Is there a second Heaven and Hell after this one?”

He laughs briefly. “No, it seems unlikely. My best guess is that there’s nothing beyond the afterlife. Your soul is just… gone. Left in a vast emptiness that people fear to reach. It’s a terrifying thought, isn’t it? The nothingness after death. Far more permanent…”

Though you were shocked by what he told you, you were even more shocked by how much Nick was helping you. You figured he’d leave you to fend for yourself without any preparation. But here he was, arming you with weapons and knowledge to help you survive. You couldn’t help but ask, “So, why are you helping me with this? I thought you hated me and that you couldn’t wait for me to die in Hell.”

He meets your eyes and says, “Believe me, I did hate you. But that changed when I saw the drive to help them in your eyes.” He briefly stops, considering what to how to phrase his next point. “A lot of new angels have complained to me about how ‘unethical’ the cleanse is, but you’re the first person that’s willing to do something about it instead of just talking about it. I’d say you’re the first angel to voluntarily jump into Hell to help those people. You’re not afraid to fight for what you believe. I don’t know whether it’s bravery or stupidity, but I respect it.”

What he said was not the response you were expecting, but his words really made you proud of your decision. You grab the bow and arrows from his hands, wearing them over your shoulder. “Well, I appreciate the help. Thank you for everything.” Once again, you put your arm out in the hopes to shake his hand. He looks at your hand, then back at your face.

Before you put your arm back down, you feel his hand connect with yours. He reciprocates the shake, and for the first time, you can see some form of content showing on his face. Eventually, you break the contact and begin walking to the edge where you were originally supposed to drop for the Cleanse.

You reach the end of the clouds, seeing the path to Hell below your feet. “Now,” Nick starts, “when you get down there, avoid bringing too much attention to yourself. I know you’ll want to try and get to work right away, but news about an angel falling will spread fast. You’ll need to stay careful.”

“Got it,” you respond.

“And don’t let anyone see that you have that halo. Keep it hidden, no matter what.”

“Oh!” you had gotten so used to it being on your head, you forgot you were even wearing it. You quickly take it off and put it in your pocket. “Thanks for reminding me.”

“Heh, don’t worry. I’ve forgotten about mine more times than I can count. But you can’t risk forgetting when you’re down there. Don’t let anyone know that you’re an angel.”

“Yes sir,” you respond.

As you reach the edge of the clouds, you look down. Big mistake doing there, though. You could see the light of Heaven slowly turn into darkness the further down the path went. You start to quiver a bit, nerves starting to make you second-guess this whole idea.

“What’s the matter? Scared?” Nick asks, placing a hand on your shoulder.

“Y-y-yeah. It’s a pretty far fall. Do you think I’ll be safe?”

“Don’t worry. We’ve had plenty of new angels jump in the Cleanse, and they all survive the fall. Well, I guess that’s because the winged angels help them with their landing…” he trails off. “But you should be fine… hopefully. Just aim for soft ground and don’t hit anything on the way down.”

You try to pay attention to his advice, but the fear is all you can think about.

“Hey,” he says, “I know you’re scared, but you’re strong. You can do this,” he encourages.

“I-I don’t know about this anymore…” you say, doubting this whole mission. Surely, you wouldn’t survive such a large fall, would you? Maybe it’s time to rethink this plan, or at least think of a safer way to lan-

He sighs, his grip on your shoulder tightening. “It’s alright to be scared. But I’m here to help. Sometimes fear holds us back from doing what we need to, and all you need is a quick, little---"

Push.

You feel his hand force you off the edge, but before you can stop him, you’re falling.

“Good luck!” you hear him shout, barely loud enough over the sound of your own screams.

The clouds you once called home quickly grew further in distance as you continued to plummet down. The wind blows strong as gravity pulls you closer and closer into the underworld. All around, the sky changes its color as your decent progresses.

From light blue…

To dark blue…

To black…

And finally…

Red.

You fall through a patch of crimson clouds in the sky, signifying that you were to land soon. As you came closer and closer to the end of your fall, you frantically look around for anywhere safe to land, but you’re distracted in your search by the world you see. All around, you see the new world. A bustling city with flashy lights and worn-down buildings become clearer to your view. If it weren’t for the constant shades of red staining every building, it would seem like an average city.

But what catches your attention the most was one building that was far from the crowded part of the town. A tall building with its name largely printed on the front. One that, for some reason, piqued your curiosity more than any of the brightly lit structures.

The Happy Hotel.

----

“A’ight, I’m goin’ out for a bit. Gotta help a friend with somethin’.”

“Y-you can’t leave now! We need you to watch the place while Charlie and I go to the interview!” Vaggie tries to explain to Angel Dust. She was already feeling nervous about how Charlie would do, and she definitely didn’t need to add Angel to the list of reasons to worry. He didn’t exactly have a great reputation for doing good deeds, so him going out into the city was the last thing Vaggie wanted him to do.

“Ya really think anyone’s gonna try n’ break in this place? This ol’ dump’ll be fine for a couple hours.” He lazily waves to the two ladies as he walks out the door.

“Puta Madre,” Vaggie murmurs to herself. “That spider is getting on my last nerves…” she trails off, uttering more curse words not so quietly that Charlie couldn’t understand. Her mind was far elsewhere at the moment, still making sure she had every word down for today’s interview. Speaking of which, she decides to check in on Charlie and make sure she’s still alright.

Vaggie walks into Charlie’s office to find her sitting at her desk, reviewing what looked to be a script of what to say. “Hey, Charlie,” she says as she approaches her, “How are you feeling?”

“Actually, I feel pretty good about the interview!” she says with a new enthusiasm in her. “I’m still a little nervous if I’m being honest, but I think I’ll do great!”

“That’s the spirit,” Vaggie encourages, “You’re gonna be amazing out there. Soon, this place will be packed with people wanting to improve themselves! Isn’t it exciting?” Even just thinking about it starts making Vaggie feel hopeful. Charlie, though, doesn’t look as excited as she’d expect her to. “Hey, is everything alright?”

She sighs. “Listen,” Charlie stands from her desk. “I just wanted to say thank you for being there for me. I’ll be honest, when we broke up, I was scared you wouldn’t want to work with me anymore. But the fact that you stayed with me this whole time shows me how kind you are.” She approaches Vaggie, arms wide to embrace her best friend. “You never stopped supporting me, even when everyone else thought this idea was stupid. Thank you for always being there for me. You’re the best friend I could’ve asked for.”

Vaggie wasted no time returning the embrace. The break-up wasn’t the easiest thing for either of them, but they both knew that they still cared for each other. The only reason why they broke up was that they worried that business with the hotel might interfere with their relationship. The last thing they wanted was to break up because of some unnecessary arguments about how the place should be run. So, they agreed that the best thing for them would be to stay as good friends and business partners. Over the next few months of arranging the hotel, they felt that they made the right choice.

“Don’t mention it,” Vaggie consoles, “and don’t believe any of them. If they don’t want to learn to improve, then that’s their choice. But I know we’ll be able to help a lot of people. Your dream isn’t stupid, and I’ll make sure every one of them sees that.” With that, she lets go of Charlie. “I’m gonna keep prepping the place since that spider skank refuses to help. We still have a couple hours until the interview, so we should have plenty of time to get the place ready for all the new demons coming in.”

“All right, I’ll help you in a bit. I just want to clear my head a bit. See you later,” she says as she heads downstairs. She walks out the door to take in some fresh air. Charlie sighed, taking in the view of Hell and all of its beauty. The many buildings that littered the streets, the crimson sky that lit the night a lovely shade of crimson, and, of course, the giant pentagram that loomed above them all. Hell wasn’t perfect, sure, but Charlie was always able to look past the flaws and see a place of happiness. A place that she could call home.

Then, she saw something new.

It looked like someone… was falling?

Sure, it wasn’t out of the ordinary for new souls to fall into Hell, but this one was different. From what she saw, it didn’t seem like this person had any sort of demon form. She heard their scream as they fell, terrified of crashing to the ground. Then, the sound of a great impact came, but the petrified scream had stopped. This worried Charlie for a reason she couldn’t explain, and she ran to where she saw the body fall. She wasn’t quite sure why she wanted to see who it was, but something told her that she needed to make sure this person was okay. When she got to where the body was, she saw something unique to her: you.

You didn’t look like any sort of demon she’s seen, and she’s been here all of her life. You didn’t have any horns or sharpened teeth or anything that a demon obtains when they arrive in Hell. You looked… oddly human for someone in Hell. Also weirdly was you were wielding a bow and a bag of arrows. Why would you have those with you if you just arrived here?

“P…pl…” she’s pulled out of that train of thought when she hears your voice, “please… h…elp…” Her eyes met yours as she watched you, physically in pain after that fall. Your eyes started closing, out of energy to remain awake.

“H-hey!” she screams as she rushes to your side. She shakes your unconscious body in the hopes that you would awaken, but to no avail. She had no idea what to do to help you. It wasn’t as if she was a nurse or anything, so how could she make sure you wouldn’t die?!

After taking a moment to calm down, she considers some options. It wouldn’t be safe to leave you here while she went to the town to get medical gear. She also couldn’t take you into the town. It was far too dangerous for an unconscious demon to be left out there. It seemed the best place to take you would be to the unoccupied hotel. It would be a pretty far walk with her having to carry you there, but it was the safest idea she could come up with.

With a plan in mind, she slumped your arm around her shoulder and proceeded to carry you to the hotel. One thing she considered was whether or not to tell Vaggie about this strange person, but she decided against it. Vaggie was never the most… trusting person when it came to meeting new people. Not like Charlie could blame her, but she didn’t want to risk the chance of Vaggie killing you before you even woke up.

When she reached the hotel, she scoped the main lobby for any sign of Vaggie, but fortunately, the room was empty. She proceeded as fast as she could to the stairs, dreading having to carry you up the flight. It was a struggle, for sure, and at one point, she almost lost your grip on you and nearly sent you falling down those steps. Luckily, she was able to catch your arm before you fell. Eventually, she made it up the stairs with you being dragged behind her. She proceeded to drag you until she got to one of the rooms that was already prepared, opening the door with her master key. She reached the bed and laid your body on it, placing the bow and arrow by the nightstand to the side.

It wasn’t exactly the best plan, but it was all she could do for now. She rushed out of the room to go into town and buy some medical supplies. She wanted to be quick, worried that Vaggie might find you there and attack you. But why was she so worried about this demon in particular? Sure, she cared about all of the people of Hell, but there was something different about this one. She shook the thought, focusing back on her goal of helping you.

Maybe, just maybe, you’d be the first one she’d save.

----

Red.

The first thing you see when you open your eyes is red.

Your body aches as you try to get up, feeling sore all over your front side. ‘What happened?’ you briefly wonder. Then, it hits you. Slowly, your mind starts to piece the events together: the descent to Hell, the painful collapse, and that girl who saw you.

‘Great,’ you think in frustration, “Not even 10 seconds in Hell, and I’ve already been noticed by a demon.’ Your body begins to get used to the pain as you get off of the bed you were lying in. Walking was still a bit difficult, resulting in you having a slight limp with your right leg.

“Wait, when did I get into a bed?” you ask yourself. Looking around, you realize the whole setting is different from what you remember. You seemed to be in some sort of bedroom with a decent sized bed and a TV facing opposite of it. Sitting on either side of the bed were two nightstands with matching lamps on them. On the wall to your left, there was a window showing the outside world, a clear view of the lively town not too far away. On the right, a door that most likely lead out of this room. By the TV, another door that probably connected a restroom. You recognize that this place seemed to be some sort of hotel room.

You walk around a bit, exploring the room you awoke in. Sure enough, the door on your right lead out into a hallway, and the other to the restroom. You walk in and look at yourself in the mirror. It didn’t seem like there were any external injuries from the fall. You appeared to be alright for now, so you left the restroom and continued looking around. On the other side of your bed, you find your bow and arrow bag sitting there, also not damaged in the slightest. You grab it, pulling out an arrow from the bag in preparation for leaving this place. You still how you ended up here.

‘Did that girl bring me here?’ Why would she though? It would’ve been easy to kill you right there and then, but she chose to save you and bring you to this room. ‘Maybe she has something in mind for me…’ Maybe she planned on making sure you were awake while she slowly drained your blood, or maybe she was saving you to share with other demons, or maybe-

No. You can’t think like that. You were scared of the demons, sure, but the whole reason you were here was to try and help them. You wouldn’t be much help if you assumed the worst for every demon, would you? Maybe she did genuinely want to help you, so she brought you to a safe place?

Suddenly, you hear the door open behind you, and out of instinct, you aim your bow at the person who made the noise. It turned out to be that same girl who you saw. A blonde-haired lady with pale, white skin and black surrounding her eyes and nose. She wore a white buttoned-shirt and black pants, the image of business casual. And her face showed an expression of pure fear.

“W-Woah!” she startles, “Wait, don’t shoot!”

You keep the bow aimed at her, still not fully prepared to let your guard down. “Who are you?” you ask, “Did you bring me here? Why?”

“Hey, it’s okay, I’m not here to hurt you.” She takes a few steps towards you, closing the distance between you. You don’t move the bow away from her. “Maybe you could, I don’t know, lower that bow of yours so we can greet each other properly?”

You stand your ground. “No, I don’t think I will. No offense, but I don’t know a thing about you. You really expect me to blindly trust a demon?”

“Okay then, I’ll start with an introduction. Hi! I’m Charlie, Princess of Hell. It’s… nice to meet you?” It looked as though she was raising an arm for you to shake out of habit, but she was quick to put it down realizing an arrow was still pointed at her.

“Alright, now question two: Did you bring me here?”

“Yeah, I did. You don’t remember?” she asks. “When I found you lying there, you asked me to help you. So I brought you to my hotel so you could rest.”

“W-wait, why is there a hotel in Hell?” It seemed like an odd business to have. You would’ve figured that most of the people staying would want a more permanent living space. Who would want to pay for a hotel if you were staying here for eternity?

“Well, this hotel’s a bit different than most. Y’see, I want to try and help sinners work towards redemption.”

You’re befuddled, to say the least. “Why would you want to help sinners?” It didn’t make sense. It would be one thing if it were an average demon, but this was the princess of Hell. Wouldn’t she be one of the ones that would want as many people to suffer here as possible?

“I know, I know, it sounds like a stupid idea,” she explains, “but I always believed that every person has some good in them, no matter how deep down it is. I hate having to see my people die every year in an extermination,” you wince a bit at that, but she doesn’t seem to notice, “and I want to save these people. My people.”

She sounds… serious about this. If she’s lying, she’s doing a great job at it. It’s enough to convince you to lower your guard, releasing your hold on the arrow. “Huh. Well, if it means anything, I don’t think it’s a stupid idea.”

“Huh? You don’t?”

“I don’t. When I was… alive,” you pause, nearly giving away the fact that you were from Heaven. “I always saw good people on the news that killed others because they thought it was the only way to help the world. I never agreed with it, so I spoke up. And, that’s how I ended up here.” Sure, you left some of the details up to interpretation, but that was the basic story of how you wounded up here in Hell.

“Really? So, do you think these demons could be redeemed?!”

“Sure they can. They just need to put in the work. And maybe someone to give them a push in the right direction.”

You could see her expression perk up. It seemed that not many other people believed in her cause, but it was one you supported whole-heartedly. How amazing is it that there’s actually someone that wants to help sinners become better people down here?

“Thank you! You don’t know how many people laughed at the idea of redemption. It’s always nice to have people behind you, y’know?” she says with a bright smile on her face. It was an infectious expression, one that quickly spread to you. Maybe you should offer to help her with this hotel? This seemed like a great chance to do exactly what you set out to do.

Before you could ask though, she looked at a clock hanging on the wall. “Oh no!” she screams, “I’m gonna be late for the interview! Look, I have to get going. I’m doing an interview with Katie Killjoy and Tom Trench. You should check it out. It was nice meeting you!”

“Alright, good luck,” you say as she darts out of the room. When she’s gone, you lock the door behind her and return to your bed. You turn on the TV in search of the channel Charlie would be on.

About half an hour passes of you browsing through channels. Surprisingly, there were a lot of channels down here in Hell. Eventually, you reach channel 666 (‘of course,’ you thought) just in time to see Charlie sitting next to some insane looking bug demon.

“Well,” Charlie takes a breath. “As most of you know, I was born here in Hell, and growing up, I always tried to see the good in everything around me. Hell is my home and-“

She’s interrupted as blood splashes onto her face from the insect Katie just stabbed with her pen. Charlie wipes the blood off in a single stroke and continues. “you are my people. We… we just went through another extermination. We lost so many souls and it breaks my heart to see my people being slaughtered every year. No one is even given a chance!” Her words resonate with you. The passion in her eyes, the tone of her voice. Every word she says feels authentic to you. She really did want to save the sinners, just like you. After so many people telling you how insane you were for this idea, hearing someone share the same goal only assures you that you made the right decision to come down here.

 I can’t stand idly by while the place I live is subjected to such violence. Sooo, I’ve been thinking: isn’t there a more humane way to end our overpopulation here in Hell? Perhaps we can create an alternative way to change souls through… redemption? Well, I think ‘yes’! So that’s what this project aims to achieve! Ladies and gentlemen, I’m opening the first of its kind! A hotel that rehabilitates sinners!” You could hear it all: her dedication to her people, her faith in her people, her hope for her people. Her words fully showed how passionate she was about this project and how much she believed sinners could be saved. You feel… hopeful just listening to her.

You smile in anticipation as you wait for the uproarious applause to come from the audience…

But it never came.

Everyone in the crowd remained silent, not one person cheering at her passionate speech. Soon she realizes just how awkward the silence became. “You know, cuz hotels are for people passing through… temporarily… I figured it would serve a purpose… a place to work towards redemption… Yaaaayyy...” Charlie mutters through, trying to get any sort of reaction from the audience.

Quietly, you hear someone in the audience say, “Stupid bitch,” followed by a painful sounding punch. The insult made you furious, so much so that you turned off the TV to not hear any more people chastise her.

The fact that not one person showed any sort of support aggravated you to no end! How could no one else see how much she cares about them?! She’s put her heart and soul into this hotel, and none of them cared at all?!

Your anger was cut short by an ache in your back. Your body still felt sore from the fall. You decide it’d be best for you to try and get some rest, hoping that some of this aching would go away.

With that, you lay back down on the bed and drift off into a peaceful sleep.

----

BOOM

You’re suddenly awoken by an explosion.

You jolt out of bed and fall onto the floor face-first. You quickly get up and try to ground yourself, panicking over that loud boom. What was going on outside?! You checked outside the window, but from your perspective, you couldn’t see anything. You could, however, hear some sort of commotion happening around the front of the building. Whatever caused that explosion probably came from there, you figure.

Suddenly, you hear another sound, but one that only confused you more. Was that… was that radio static? The static was quickly followed by the sound something breaking. Glass shattering, metal bending, people screaming. Whatever was happening outside was pure chaos, and you were terrified to find out what could be lingering out there.

Eventually, the sounds disappear. You can’t hear anything else, and that only scares you more? What happened out there? Was someone trying to destroy the hotel?

You think about what to do next.

Should you wait in here? Maybe it was Charlie and some of the employees defending the hotel from demons that thought her idea was idiotic. She’d definitely be up here soon to let you know it was safe, right? But what if someone did break into the hotel? Maybe holding up in here with your bow and arrow would be your safest move.

Or maybe you should go out and investigate what happened? Maybe you could try and escape the building in case there were demons in here that wanted to destroy the place. What if you could outrun them and make it to safety outside? But you could be running right into the fray. It could be easy for whatever caused that explosion to take you out too, so that could be a risk in leaving.

As you think, you spot your bow still sitting by the nightstand. You realize that you could take that with you and defend yourself if someone is trying to destroy the building. If Charlie was in trouble, you’d have a better chance of rescuing her with it. Maybe you could just scare them with the bow and not have to shoot them? But what if the people that made the explosion wouldn’t be deterred by the bow? It might just make you slower, so you probably wouldn’t be able to outrun anyone if you brought it with you.

What should you do?

  • Cautious (Stay in the room)
  • Defensive (Leave the room with the bow and arrow)
  • Investigative (Leave the room without the bow and arrow)

Chapter Text

The more you thought about it, the more you panicked about staying in this room.

That explosion outside was powerful. Even though you couldn’t see its carnage, the mere sound of it told you that it could cause massive amounts of damage to the hotel. Who knew if another would come soon? Whatever it was that caused it could blow this place down in an instant if they wanted to. You’d have no chance to get out if you waited in here, and by extension, no chance to help any of the demons down here in Hell.

You needed to get out of here.

But what about the bow?

It wasn’t exactly easy to maneuver with it on, but it’s the one thing Nick gave you to protect yourself. Sure, maybe you weren’t exactly an excellent marksman or even a decent one seeing as you’ve never even held a bow before coming to Heaven, but it was better to at least have a chance at saving your life if it came down to it.

It was settled then.

Quickly, you rushed to the nightstand to pick up your belongings, and you strap the arrow bag over your shoulder. You pull out one of the arrows from it and load it into preparation with the bow. You would be prepared for anything or anyone that might try and kill you.

…Although, maybe you could stand to not aim it every time someone enters the room. Looking back on it now, you were surprised that the interaction with Charlie worked out so well considering you pointed an arrow at her. But she does seem like the forgiving type: the kind of person that could look past a person’s bad decisions and see them for the person they truly were. Even on Earth, those types of people were hard to come by on Earth, but somehow, the literal princess of Hell showed kindness even some angels don’t have.

You… admired her for that.

You’re pulled from your thoughts when you hear the sound of the front door opening and closing along with people speaking downstairs. Whoever was outside with that explosion, they were in the building. It was time to act.

You open your door, gently closing it to make sure the sound of it shutting wouldn’t alert anyone downstairs. As you close the door, you make a quick note of your room number. ‘109,’ you read. Just in case there was nothing wrong, you wanted to make sure you knew where to return to. You followed the signs on the walls that pointed you to where the main lobby was. Slowly, you crept along the hallway towards the stairs. Looking around, you notice that this looked like a normal hotel. The only main difference was the constant reds and blacks that covered all of the walls and doors.

Reaching the stairs, you listen carefully for any signs of what may be down there. It sounded like there were multiple sets of footsteps going at once, so whoever came in was in a group. It didn’t sound like there was any sort of struggle or destruction happening, though, so you proceeded to walk down.

The steps creaked slightly, making you more nervous that you may be found out by whoever was down there. No matter how carefully you stepped, you couldn’t prevent the stairs from making bits of noise. You proceed cautiously in the hopes that no one had heard your movements.

About halfway down the stairs, you have a clear view of the lobby. The first thing you notice was that there was a door that had been charred black, seemingly blown off of its hinges. You realize that whatever the explosion was must have sent the front door flying off. Other than that, however, there didn’t seem to be any other damage done to the place. Whatever caused that explosion didn’t seem to be any sort of threat.

You also notice demons there, as well. 5 demons were in the lobby, seeming to wait for time to pass. One was dashing around the pace at lightning speeds, cleaning up various spots in the room. Another, standing behind the bar while drinking from a bottle looked agitated as a lankier, taller demon appeared to be talking with him (although it sort of looked like they were flirting instead of just talking). The last two were seated on one of the sofas, having their own conversation. One of them had their back facing towards you, so you couldn’t make out any details of them. The other, however, you immediately recognize to be Charlie. You let out a sigh of relief seeing that she was safe.

You felt a bit guilt-stricken that you were so untrusting with her. After seeing how kind she really was, she deserved a way better first meeting than the one you gave her. She didn’t seem to mind too much, but still, you needed to apologize for it. And now seemed as good a time as any.

“Hey, Charlie!” you call out to her. She looks to you with a smile, preparing to say some sort of greeting. However, her expression changed as she focused her attention on someone else. You follow her eyes. She was staring at the woman she was talking to. This woman seemed to be some sort of moth demon with muted colors of gray and one red X that covered her left eye. Her eyes gave you an angry glare, a threatening look on her face, and in her hands, a spear that was pointed at you.

Immediately, you lift your bow up, preparing to defend yourself if she tries to attack. All of the other demons are alerted of this interaction, some looking to prepare for any sort of spar.

“Hijo de puta! Who the fuck are you?!” she shouts at you.

Charlie rushes up to the woman and grabs her arm. “W-wait, Vaggie! Put the spear down!”

“Not until this creep says what they were doing hiding upstairs!” She looks back at one of the other demons. “God damn it, Angel, I told you to stay here and watch the place while we were out!”

“How’s I suppose t’know someone would actually wanna break into this place?! It’s the laughin’ stock of the town! Figured no one ‘d willingly come here,” the demon replies.

“No one broke in to anywhere!” Charlie interrupts. “I found them outside. They were knocked out cold, so I just wanted to help them.”

“Charlie! Do you know how dangerous it is to trust a total stranger like this?” Vaggie scolds.

You needed to try and reason with her before anything crazy happened. “Look, I’m not here to hurt anyone.” You try to de-escalate the situation, not wanting to have to shoot anyone.

“Then why do you have that bow?! Don’t act like you weren’t gonna try and kill someone!”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Excuse me for being a bit paranoid after hearing an explosion outside! I thought someone might be trying to destroy the hotel or something, so I wanted something to defend myself. And I only pointed my bow because you aimed that spear at me.”

“Well, I’m sorry for being a bit paranoid when someone comes walking down the stairs with a bow in their hands ready to attack.” She responds sarcastically.

You didn’t want the tension between you to keep growing. It was time to bring this situation to a close. “Listen, I’m sorry for aiming my bow at you. I was pretty panicked after hearing that explosion, so I’ve kind of been on edge. I’ll lower my weapon as long as you lower yours too. Deal?” She doesn’t respond right away. She looks at Charlie to get some sort of reassurance. Charlie gives her a nod, telling her that she could trust you.

“…Fine.” With that, she lowers the spear. “And I’m sorry too. I just wanted to make sure you weren’t gonna try and hurt anyone here.” You nod your head, understanding her reasoning. You keep your end of the promise and bring down the bow. It was a good thing, too. Your arms were starting to get tired. You place the arrow back in the bag and strap the bow over yourself.

“So, should we start over?”

“Yeah, we should.” She looks back at Charlie. “So, you want to introduce your new friend?”

“This is… uh…” she pauses, “Huh. I guess I never got their name before I left, did I?”

“WHAT?!” Vaggie yells. “You trust this total stranger before even getting their name?!”

“I was in a rush! We were gonna be late for the interview, and… well… our introductions went about as well as they are now.”

Vaggie looks back at you. “Wait, did you threaten Charlie with the bow?” You can see the anger start to come back to her.

“…I did.” You admit. “I’m sorry, I really am. I didn’t know where I was, and I was scared that she’d try to kill me or something when she opened the door. I just… I panicked,” you felt tears start to well up in your eyes. You avert your gaze from them, hoping they wouldn’t notice, “I was afraid of dying again. I… I… I don’t want to die… But what I did was wrong. I shouldn’t have been so quick to do that… I-I’m so sorry, Charlie…”

Before Vaggie could get even more heated, Charlie speaks up. “Hey, it’s alright. I get it; you were afraid. For all you know, I could’ve been trying to kill you. I mean, there’s no shortage of murderers down here…” she looks away briefly to one of the doors in the lobby before looking back to you, “Anyways, it’s all in the past now. So, instead of focusing on that, why don’t we re-do our introductions, hm?” She reaches out a hand for you to shake. “I’m Charlie. It’s nice to meet you!” You find the courage to look at her again. She has that bright smile on again that could bring light to the darkest of places.

Even Hell.

You take her hand. “The pleasure’s all mine.”

Once you broke the handshake, you turned to Vaggie to introduce yourself, only to be stopped as a much shorter demon takes your hand instead. The one-eyed demon was rather short in stature, only coming up to about your stomach. She wore a pink skirt with a white shirt, resembling an outfit from the ’50s.  Her most noticeable trait, however, was the one large eye that was wide open and focused on you.

“Hi!” she says excitedly, shaking your hand vigorously. “I’m so glad you’re not gonna try and kill us. That means we can be friends! I’m always happy when making new friends. It’s always hard to make friends with people that try to kill you…” you zone out as she starts to trail off. She just talks so quickly that it makes it hard to keep up with what she’s saying. It kind of reminded you of…

It reminded you of how your sister got when she was really excited.

You push that memory out of your head, deciding that now wasn’t the time to dwell on those memories. You bring your attention back to the demon in front of you.

“Uh, hey. So, what was your name?” you interrupt her ramblings.

“Oh yeah! I’m Niffty! It’s very nice to meet you! Sorry, I tend to get off topic a lot. But I’m really glad to make another friend! That’s 4 friends today! A new record!” Before you could respond, her eye spots something to the side of you, causing her to let go of your hand and sprint off. “Wow, there’s a lot of messes in this place, aren’t there?” She pulls a duster from seemingly nowhere and proceeds to tidy up the dirt she found.

You leave her to her work and bring your attention back to completing introductions. You finally reach a hand out for Vaggie to shake. “It’s nice to meet you.”

She hesitantly returns the shake, still on alert in case you try to do anything funny. “…Same. Now, will you tell us your name already?”

You realize you had neglected to actually say your name. As you start to say your real name, you pause. You wanted to be honest with them, but… a part of you was still a bit nervous about trusting them too much. You decide to just give them a nickname to call you until you felt comfortable enough telling them your actual name.

“Call me Archer.”

“Archer? That’s your real name?” Vaggie questions. “The person that shows up with a bow and arrow just happens to be named Archer?”

“Well, no, that’s just a nickname that I thought would suit me. Mostly because of the bow. I guess you could call it my demon name?”

“Hm, I like it. Alright, 'Archer' it is!” Charlie announces. “So, hey, there’s something that I wanted to ask you…” She looks a bit hesitant to say what. It makes you a bit concerned. Does she already know your secret?

“Sure, what’s up?”

“Well… it’s about the way you look…” she stops herself. “…that came out wrong, sorry. I mean, it’s just weird that you don’t really look like a demon.”

Your alarms start to ring. She’s already suspicious of how you look. You have to keep up the unaware act, though. You merely respond, “Is it?” as casually as you can.

“Yeah, just look at everyone else. Whenever someone enters Hell, they get a demon form. But you look completely human. Why is that?”

“I-I don’t know. I thought it was kind of weird, too,” you bluff. What if she already knows you’re an angel? If she’s the princess of Hell, she’d definitely see lots of angels in the Cleanses, wouldn’t she? Maybe she realized what you not having a demon form meant. But she hadn’t tried to kill you, even though she had plenty of chances by now, so why would she--

 “Yeah, ‘s pretty weird, eh?” Before you can come up with an excuse, another demon speaks up, beginning to walk towards you. He gets way to close to your personal space, and he leans down to get right in your face. He was a tall, slender demon with white fur and four arms. With his sharpened teeth and darkened left eye, he looked as if he were a dangerous man. You can’t stop your hands from preparing to grab the bow.

 “But, y’know what? That makes ya’ kinda hot, y’know?”

That definitely caught you off-guard.

“E-excuse me?!” your face flushes, causing him to give a devilish smirk.

“Do you know how many demons here look th’ same? Red, black, red, black, and if ‘m lucky, a bit of white here n’ there. But you,” he pokes your chest with one of his spindly fingers, “yer’ a sight for sore eyes. Just lookin’ at ya takes me back to bein’ alive. Forgot how great some humans looked. How soft their hair was. How smooth their skin was. How great they taste--

“Oh my god! Can’t you go one day without trying to seduce someone?!” Vaggie yells at him.

“What? I’m just havin’ a lil’ fun with our new friend. Don’t gotta take it so seriously.” He responds. He takes your hand into one of his gloved hands.

“N-Nice to meet you… Angel, was it?” You recall Vaggie yelling that earlier and assumed that was his name.

“Ooo, looks and brains. You have it all, don’tcha, Hot Shot?”

“H-H-Hot Shot?”

“Yeah, Archer’s an alright nickname, but you need one that suits you better. Plus, ‘t still fits with th’ whole archer theme, don’t it?” he explains. If there’s one thing you can say about Angel, he seems pretty direct.

“U-Uh, well… thanks?” You avoid eye contact, too flustered to look at him directly. You never really knew how to respond to flirting, especially when it was this blatant. You could tell he enjoyed getting a rise out of you if that pleased grin he had was any indication.

You must be great with yer’ hands after workin’ that bow of yours. I’d love to see what else those hands can do--”

“Ah, shut your fuckin’ trap already!” The demon behind the bar interrupts. “Yeesh, and I thought I had it rough with your flirting. The new kid’s got it way worse.”

He turns from you to address him. “Don’t worry, Huskie. ‘m not through with you yet,” Angel replies with a wink.

“Go fuck yourself,” the other demon says, which only causes Angel’s grin to grow. “And before you say it, I’m not gonna watch that shit.”

Side-stepping from Angel, who was blocking your path, you walk to the bar to greet the demon. He appears to be some sort of cat demon with his pointed ears and long tail. He had an unamused expression, his eyes showing disinterest in whatever you had to say. A key trait he had was the set of wings on his back, the ends having the four suits found in a deck of cards. In his claws, he was clutching a bottle with the label “Cheap Booze” printed on it that he had been drinking this entire time.

You reach the bar, taking a seat on one of the stools. “Hi there,” you say, offering your hand to shake. “Nice to meet you, Huskie.”

He chokes on his drink from hearing that. Behind you, Charlie and Vaggie have shocked expressions while Angel cackles hysterically. Confused by what you did wrong, you’re startled when you feel Husk grab you by your shirt collar in a death grip.

You see the rage in his eyes as he stares you down. You feel yourself shrinking into your seat as much as you could, “U-U-Um, w-what’s wrong? Did I say someth--"

“First off, it’s Husk, not Huskie. That prick’s just got a death wish givin’ me that name. So don’t go callin’ me that again, got it?!” He exclaims.

“Oh, I-I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to--”

“Second,” he cuts off, “I’d say it’s nice to meet you, but that’d just be a lie, wouldn’t it? Cause if I’m bein’ honest, you seem like you’re just another annoying sack of sh--”

“Husk, that’s enough!” Vaggie interrupts. “You’re not supposed to be rude to snap at people! You’re supposed to man the front desk. Front desk workers are supposed to be friendly with people. You can’t just yell and insult anyone like that!”

“Yeah, Vaggie’s right.” Charlie joins in. “It was just a misunderstanding, that’s all. You have to learn to calm down with people. Now, let’s try that again, shall we? Shake their hand and kindly introduce yourself,” she scolds.

Husk huffs at their remarks, releasing your shirt and going back to his bottle. After taking a swig, he looks back at you. “Fine.” He gives one of his hands out to you, which you accept. “Name’s Husk. It’s so nice to meet you. There, you fuckin’ happy?” He says looking back to the girls. Charlie nods with a small smile while Vaggie shakes her head in annoyance.

“It’s nice to meet you.” You say back. “And I’m really sorry about earlier. I had no idea.”

He doesn’t say anything. He just looks at you, thinking about something. You can some of the anger subsiding, which relieves you. He breaks the shake. “Tch, whatever,” he says as he returns to his drink.

Charlie comes over, putting an arm over your shoulder. “Don’t mind him,” she tells you. “He just has a short fuse. And the alcohol probably isn’t helping with that.”

“It’s alright. I’ve dealt with people like that before,” you say, thinking back to someone you met in Heaven. “But they’re not always like that. Just when they’re at their worst.” She smiles at your understanding.

“Hey, so to bring it back to the alcohol,” Vaggie says. “I still say we should get rid of the bar. I mean, the whole point of this place is to stop people from sinning, so why would we--”

“Fer the last time, we’re not gettin’ rid of the bar!” Angel contests, “It’s the only bit of fun in this place. It stays!”

“You’re not in charge of this place! You don’t get to decide what happens here!” She argues back.

“Okay, that’s enough! Both of you!” Charlie stops their argument. “Okay, how about this? I’ll leave it to a vote. If more people think the bar should go, it goes. If more say it should stay, it stays. Does that sound fair?”

Vaggie doesn’t seem too pleased with the idea, but she goes along with it. “Ugh, fine. We’ll vote.” She finally gives in. “Obviously, I vote that we get rid of it.”

“Well, I vote that we keep it,” Angel says.

“Alright, so that’s one for each. Husk, what do you think?”

“Hah! You’re kiddin’, right? This bar’s the only reason why I’m workin’ here. The bar stays.”

“Okay, what about you Niffty?”

Niffty, who was still picking up around the hotel, rushes back to where you were all gathered. “Well, the bar is gonna have a lot of messes. Anyone could drop one of the bottles, and that’d make a huge mess of shattered glass. Plus, the drinks might stain the carpet, so I’d have to clean that too. And who knows what sort of bugs might try to get at the drinks when it’s spilled? It’d be a lot to clean up after, wouldn’t it? So, I think we should get rid of it. What do you think, Archie?!” she addresses you.

“Huh?” you’re surprised that she asked you. You guess since you were the last one to vote. But you’re caught off guard by something else she said. “Wait, ‘Archie’?”

“Yeah! I think it’s cute, don’t you?!” she answers.

“Well, that’s 2 to 2. What do you say, Archer? Should we keep the bar, or get rid of it?” Charlie asks.

You’re the only one that hasn’t voted yet. It’s up to you to break the tie. Should the bar stay or go?

You consider both options briefly.

If you chose to keep the bar, it’d definitely make Angel and Husk happy. Vaggie and Niffty probably wouldn’t be too pleased, but it might be a good way to get customers coming in. It could be a necessary evil to help people.

…But then you think of getting rid of it.

The whole point of you coming down to Hell was to help sinners improve themselves. Plus, as Vaggie said, the reason this hotel was built in the first place was to discourage sin. What kind of message would that send to other demons if they saw a bar in an anti-sin hotel? It goes against everything this place stands for.

You knew this choice would upset Husk and Angel, but it didn’t matter. It was for the good of everyone else.

Your decision is clear.

“I think we should--"

“Oh, is there someone else out there?”

Another voice interrupts, startling you. The voice was… odd. It sounded as if it came out of an old radio broadcast. And… you couldn’t help but feel you’ve heard the voice somewhere before. You look to see where the new voice came from.

A new demon walks out of one of the rooms. As he approaches you, you get a clearer image of his intimidating features. The demon had bright red hair with elongated ears and short antlers, similar to ones deer have. Wearing a formal red and black suit accompanied with a bow tie and monocle, he held a cane with an old-fashioned microphone attached. But the most unsettling thing about him was the wide smile he had that felt unnerving just to look at.

“Oh, hey! We were just introducing the new demon to everyone. Come say hi to Archer!” Charlie says to the new demon that walked in.

There was something… vaguely familiar about his face. It was considerably distorted with his demon form, but you recognize the general facial structure he had. You knew this man from somewhere when you were alive, but how could you recognize him? From the sound of it, he seemed to be here for a long time, so you couldn’t have just run into him one day at the store, or something.

“Pleasure to meet you, my new friend!” he reaches a hand out, expecting you to return the shake. But instead, your hands reach behind you to grab your bow and an arrow.

When he spoke again, you realize who he was.

“Allow me to introduce myself. My name is---”

“Alastor.” You finish for him, raising your bow back up. “You’re Alastor, aren’t you?” You re-aim your bow back on him.

Almost everyone seems surprised by that reaction, even Husk who raised his head out of curiosity. Alastor, however, kept that smile on his face. In fact, it seemed like it somehow grew, seeming entertained by that reaction.

“Hold on, how do you know the Radio Demon? He’s been here since the ’30s.” Charlie asks you.

“I saw a documentary about him on TV one day. You’re that radio host from the South, right? The one that turned out to be an insane serial killer, right?!”

“Ah, I’m so well-known that I was broadcasted on the picture show, am I? Then you must be a big fan of my work! Perhaps you would like me to give you an autograph?” He snaps his fingers, summoning a paper and pen out of seemingly nowhere to write his signature.

“A-A-A fan?! Why on Earth would I ever be a fan of a deranged psychopath like you?!” It was one of those crime documentaries you saw one day. The show talked about a homicidal talk show host that did terrible things to people. He was a brutal, malicious killer that took great pleasure in his “craft”. The detective they interviewed said his motive for committing the murders was just to give people something to talk about. Just for the sake of giving a show for people. This vile, disgusting man fits in so well here in Hell. A monster with no care for the value of life. Someone you’d never want to meet.

And yet, here he was, a smile on his face as you threaten to shoot him.

“Archer, hang on!” Charlie gets your attention. “Don’t worry, he’s not gonna do anything. Just lower the bow, okay?”

“Are you crazy?! He’s dangerous, Charlie! What if he tries to kill someone? In fact, he might already be planning to kill me when I drop my bow!

Alastor briefly chuckles at that comment, sending the pen and paper back to wherever they came from. “Believe me, dear. If I were going to kill you,” Alastor says, walking close enough touching the tip of your arrow with his finger. Suddenly, his face morphs, his eyes becoming dials and mouth becoming a speaker. You see why the name “Radio Demon” was so fitting for him. The static you heard outside from the explosion returns, becoming louder and louder in your ears.

You’d already be dead.”

Your eyes widen at that, hands starting to quiver. The others remain frozen, afraid someone might set him off. You thought Angel would be the most dangerous in the group, but that couldn’t be more wrong. Alastor had no issue showing just how powerful he was compared to you.

You hated to admit it, but you were terrified of him.

“Hey!” Vaggie intervenes. She approaches Alastor, distracting him, and you take the chance to take a few steps away from him. “I won’t let you go around making threats like that. If you’re here to help us, then you can’t haras--”

Alastor’s face reverts back to how it originally was, maintaining that wicked smile. “Hmm. Well fortunately for you, I have no plans to kill you!”

“…You don’t?”

“Good heavens, no! I would never dream of killing a new friend! Anyone who’s a friend of our dear, sweet princess is a friend of mine! Now, why don’t you lower your bow so we can properly introduce ourselves?” He raises a gloved hand to you. “My name is Alastor. How lovely it is to meet you!”

You don’t lower your bow yet. Something feels off about this whole thing. But you don’t want to do anything rash.

 “… Charlie, are you sure you can trust him? This man’s killed a lot of innocent people. You’re okay with him working here?”

She looks away for a moment before responding. “Look, I know he’s dangerous, and he’s hurt a lot of people, but I made this hotel in order to help rehabilitate demons. What kind of message would I be sending if I turned him away from helping?” She had a point. You hated that it made sense, but she had a point. You hadn’t even said a word to him before threatening him. You needed to be more accepting of him. In order for this to work, you had to believe in the demons that came in.

And… you trusted Charlie. If she trusts someone, you could too.

“…Alright,” you say, “I trust you. But I don’t tru--”

Alastor was gone. He was standing there a just a few seconds ago. How could he just disappear in the time your attention was on Charlie?

“Wonderful!” he shouts behind you, wrapping an arm around your shoulder.

“Ah!” you scream in a panic, causing you to jump. In your panic, your hand loosened, releasing the grasp it had on the arrow. The arrow took off, quickly flying across the room. And in the arrow’s path stood Vaggie. She hastily moved to the side, narrowly avoiding the arrow that almost landed on the X of her eye. The arrow found its way lodged into the wall, landing next to a framed photo of Charlie and two other demons in what looked to be a family photo. But none of your attentions were focused on the arrow. You’re far more concerned with what almost happened.

You… you almost killed Vaggie. Because of one stupid mistake, you almost became the very thing you hated.

“Oh… oh my gosh. Vaggie, I- he just- he snuck up behind me and- I-I panicked and-”

“Save it,” she cuts off. “I don’t want to hear it. Just leave me alone!” She storms out the front door, angrily clutching the spear in her hand. You just stood there, dumbfounded at nearly murdering a demon.

The very thing you swore to not do.

No one says anything for a good while, afraid to add to the tension that had already formed in the room.

“Well!” Alastor eventually breaks the silence. “That was quite the show you put on, my dear Marksman! Quite a show, indeed! You know how to keep things oh so lively, don’t you? Nw, if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish making dinner. We’ll be having Jambalaya tonight! Hope you enjoy!” He announces as he walks back to the kitchen

“Yeah, I think I’m gonna head back to my room ‘til dinner’s ready.” Angel says, heading for the stairs, “Oh hey, Hot Shot,” he pauses as he passes by you, lowering himself to your ear, “If ya’ wanna get ta know each other a lil’ better, my door’s always open,” he whispers to you with a wink. You blush from shock at that remark, and that gets a good chuckle out of him. With that, he heads up the stairs to his bedroom.

“I shouldn’t stay here either,” Niffty says. “This hotel still has plenty of places to clean!” She pulls out a duster and begins a thorough cleaning of the lobby, picking up dust hidden around the lobby. “Nope, nope nope. Still not clean yet!”

“You’re not planning on cleaning the whole hotel today, are you?” You ask. “That’s gonna take forever! You want some help.”

“Oh, don’t worry, Archie. I can do it! Just gotta make sure this place is spotless,” she emphasizes as she stabs a spider with a needle and cleans the cobweb. You have to admit, it kind of creeps you out how she killed it with a smile, but you keep silent about it and let her do her job. She darts up the steps to work on tidying up the rest of the hotel.

“Heh, the new kid’s got guts, huh?” you hear Husk say as he leaves the bar. “I like your style. Not a lot of people would threaten the Radio Demon like that. Least, not the ones without a death wish.”

“Well, I’ve already died once, so it’s not like he could do anything worse.”

“Hah! Trust me, y’don’t wanna know what he’s capable of. He’s not a man to be messed wi—HHMP!” He stops, bringing his free hand to cover his mouth as his other holds his stomach. “Fuck, I need to lie down…”

You dart over to him, wrapping your arm around him for support. “A-are you okay?!”

He freezes as he feels you hold him, only to suddenly pull himself out of your grasp. “Fan-fuckin’-tastic. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go pass out.” He ignores your attempts to help as he proceeds up the stairs.

“Wait, let me get you some medicine!” Charlie shouts to Husk as he walks upstairs.

“Don’t need it. I got all the medicine I need right here,” he says as he shakes the bottle of cheap booze he’d been drinking since you first saw him. He turned back, using the wall for support, and made his way to one of the empty rooms.

That just left you and Charlie in the lobby.

“Well, the introductions could’ve gone better,” Charlie says.

“Yeah, no kidding. I definitely left a lasting impact on some of them, huh?”

“Mhm. Hey, Archer, when you have a chance, do you think we could talk in my office? There’s something I wanna ask you. But if you want to talk with some other people first, that’s totally fine! Just… come if you want…” Before you have a chance to respond, she quickly walks off into her office and closes the door behind her.

Everyone had gone off to do their own thing, leaving you standing there alone in the lobby. Now that you were alone, you had a chance to process everything that just happened with those chaotic introductions.

Maybe aiming a bow at them wouldn’t leave good first impressions, but they couldn’t blame you for being worried about the explosion, right? Then, of course, there was the whole incident with you shooting the arrow. That definitely could’ve been handled better. It’s pretty clear Vaggie isn’t very happy with you right now. Alastor… you can’t really tell how he feels about you. But at least the other four seem to like you, or at least not mind you.

You can’t help but groan in frustration. It felt as if you broke any sort of harmony these people had because of your itchy trigger fingers. Maybe bringing this bow with you from Heaven was a bad idea. You knew Nick had good intentions when he gave it to you, but you didn’t realize how much you’d rely on it. You used to be so trusting of other people. Now, however, it seemed impossible for you to trust anyone. It was probably because they were all demons, but that wasn’t a good enough excuse.

In the middle of your self-reflection, you take a seat down on the couch. But when you do, you feel something under your wait. You feel around to see what it is you sat on, and you find something you’d completely forgotten you brought with you.

It was the halo.

You pull out your halo from your back pocket. Looking at its subtle white glow takes you back to just a few days ago. How happy you felt when you first got it. How great life was back in Heaven with your family.

You hear that little voice of doubt in your head telling you that you made the wrong choice. You should’ve just stayed in Heaven with your sister and lived the rest of your afterlife in peace. Could you really save anyone by yourself? You couldn’t help but feel that you were in over your head…

But then you look back down at the halo.

And it reminds you of why you’re here.

You’re here to show that demons can be redeemed. All they need is someone to guide them down that path. All it takes is one person to make change happen. And that’s what you came here to do.

This is the path you chose. And you intend to see it through to the end.

No matter what.

A newfound determination sparks in you, the passion you first had for this mission returning. You realize that nothing will get done if you just wallow in your own self-pity. These people down here needed your help. So you would do everything you could for them.

Change starts now.

With that in mind, you plan your start on how to help. Everyone in the hotel was here to help the demons down here, so you needed to improve your connections with them. The best thing to do now would be to go talk to some of them.

But who?

You considered going to talk to Charlie. You had to admit, you were curious about what she wanted to ask you. And this would be a good time to talk to her about helping her with this hotel.

Of course, you could go check in with Vaggie. You never got to apologize after almost shooting her earlier, and you wanted to try and make amends as soon as you could. Might as well be now, right?

Angel Dust was another option. He came off as pretty flirtatious, but it would be nice to get to know him better. Maybe you should take him up on that offer and pay him a visit?

…Going to talk to Alastor crossed your mind. You didn’t really want to talk to a serial killer, but maybe someone should check on him to make sure he isn’t doing anything funny. And… maybe you should apologize for aiming your bow at him…

Niffty seemed like she could use some company. She already seemed to really like you since she immediately called you a friend. You know she said she didn’t need help, but if she’s gonna be cleaning up the whole hotel, maybe helping her would show her that you’d like being friends.

Lastly, maybe checking in on Husk would be smart. He’d seem pretty sick from drinking so much. Maybe seeing if he was alright would be good for you. Plus, he seemed to like you, or at least he enjoyed that whole fiasco earlier, so maybe he’d open up a bit to you.

You had a lot of options to choose, but you had to decide:

Who do you spend time with?

  • Charlie
  • Vaggie
  • Angel Dust
  • Alastor
  • Niffty
  • Husk