The Portal to Elcium
By James D. Swinney
Olonis strolled casually through the streets of the city, which were empty, as usual. It was not a busy city, not like others that Olonis had seen. There were no merchants hawking their wares, no bakers making bread or craftsmen practicing their trade. More often than not, the streets of this city were completely empty, devoid even of the traffic inherent in most cities. The residents of this city did not often use the streets, leaving them for unwanted guests and unknowing visitors. Most of the people who lived here, though, were in the fields of fire, burning and picking crops as punishment for their lives of sin. It was hell, after all.
Olonis used the streets out of habit, more than anything. He had been up above for so long, and he had grown used to the humans' way of doing things. It just felt more natural to walk in the streets to the destination, rather than use his powers to teleport, as he could down here in his home. Some called him more human than he was demon, as if it were such a terrible insult. He did not mind. He respected man.
He did not go at such a snail's pace as most men did, though. He hovered above the streets themselves, propelling himself towards his destination with his powers. Kalarah awaited his arrival, and it would not do to be too late. The Lord of Hell waited for no one, especially not a measly envoy to the human world. So Olonis passed swiftly through the streets, approaching the black castle inside of which Kalarah lived. It was a hideous place, made of hellstone and fire. It held none of the beauty of the human's structures. Olonis sighed.
"You took long enough," was all that Kalarah said in the way of a greeting. He sat casually in a throne as black as midnight, looking onto his guest as if he were the lowest of slaves, not even worthy of eye contact. Of course, he thought all of this true, though it wounded Olonis' pride. He did not appreciate being thought of as such, especially after he saw the way that the human's treated their slaves, with no respect, only beatings and anger. He did not want that.
"I apologize, my lord," he said. "May I ask why I have been summoned here this day?" he asked with all the politeness of a highborn human. It was something that he had picked up in his time there.
Kalarah frowned at him. "You may. I have called you here to give you another task. I'm sending you back topside."
"Topside?" Olonis asked. "Why is that?" He did not mind, though. In fact, he almost preferred the open air of the surface by now. He envied the humans at times.
"There's a problem that I need you to deal with," Kalarah snapped irritably. He was not used to having his orders questioned, obviously. "A portal has opened on the surface, and I need you to close it."
"A portal...?" Olonis repeated, his voice rising at the end to make it a question.
"Yes, to Elcium, the land where those damnable fauns come from. Where people live forever, you know," he urged.
"I can't rightly have any of your precious humans running through that portal and gaining eternal life, now, or I'll be obsolete. Your task is to go up and close it for me."
"How would I accomplish such a thing?" Olonis asked, having never been asked to do anything of the kind before now. Up until this point he'd been given mainly menial jobs, like collecting souls or ending lives that had lasted just a little too long. This was a big step up.
"I've no idea," Kalarah admitted. "That's up to you to figure out. Say some magic words or smash it with a rock; I do not care. Just close the damned thing or you'll have me to face when you return." Kalarah waved at him with his right hand, an obvious signal of dismissal. "Now get out of here."
Olonis left without saying goodbye. He did not walk through the city this time, as he wanted to get back up to the surface as fast as he could. Unfortunately his powers were limited and he could not merely teleport up there. He had to walk the Road of Crows, a gruesome place that not even he could enjoy passing through. It was a long, cobblestone road with fog hanging perpetually around it in a blue haze. It was cold, always cold, and it left Olonis shivering as he walked along it. It was not only the cold, however, that made him shudder.
Hung periodically along the winding highway were tall wooden crosses, upon which hanged bodies of those who had been condemned to eternal punishment. Their wrists were nailed to either arm of the cross, their ankles nailed to the bottom. They hung in such a way that the only way that they could breath would be to hoist themselves up on their own nailed and bloody limbs, which caused them such agony that they had no choice but to suffocate. Hundreds and thousands of them hung there, suspended eternally in that cold, terrible place. Their screams lit up the night with sound, covering anything else around it.