Chapter 6

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"Well just lookie what the cat dragged in. Don't you look a state, love, that ritual sure did a number on you."

I'd barely made it down the dark stairs and into the dim orange light of the hollow that was the Inquisitor's former lair, and already he was insulting me. It was almost like old times.

"It's nice to see you again too, Frank," I said with a roll of my eyes in his direction before I turned to take my first real look at our new surroundings.

In all fairness, it wasn't much to look at. Most of the wide, low ceilinged hollow was cast in shadow. Four large hurricane lamps glowed with dark orange flame in the centre of the room, radiating a small amount of flickering light, just enough to throw off the night-vision that had kicked in halfway down the long staircase. Even as my eyes adjusted to the low lamplight, there was nothing really remarkable to see.

It looked, very much, like the rest of Hell in its construct; I suppose there is not a huge number of options in style when it comes to a massive network of caves and hollows, especially when aesthetics aren't exactly high on the priority list. Most of the demonic races would choose to add a certain few 'homey' touches to their respective quarters of Hell, some personal comforts whatever those might be, but the Inquisitor's quarters were decidedly barren. Either they had taken everything they owned with them when they left for Earth, or they'd cared so very little for anything physical that the stone hole in the ground had been all they'd wanted.

The only particularly notable feature in the room was at it's very centre, upon which those hurricane lamps flickered and spat sparks, an enormous table. Carved of stone of course, like everything else, but as I drew closer the detail of its design began to stand out. Every inch of the surface of the thick, heavy limestone had been ornately carved in incredible intricate detail.

I took a step closer in order to study the design more clearly and had to suppress a shudder as I took in the dozens and dozens of carved faces, all contorted and twisted in unbelievable pain and horror. I stared, transfixed on each unique face as they screamed in silent terror.

"Beautiful, isn't it?"

The words right beside my ear might once have made me jump, but I was mesmerised by the carving and could not tear my eyes away.

"Not sure that's quite the word I'd use, but it's certainly something."

With a tentative hand I reached out and brushed my long fingers across the carved ridges of rock. I tracked the twisted mouths, inlaid with smooth red jasper, and the glimmering eyes that shone in the burning torchlight, perfect spheres of obsidian. I closed my eyes for a moment, losing myself in the tactile sensation of the smooth contours as flashes of their faces appeared in my minds eye. Their screams had been real, the blood they spat red and warm, crying salty tears of pain and despair.

"What are you doing, Rayne? It's a little disturbing," Lucas asked. Even with my eyes closed I could hear the puzzled expression he was wearing through the quavering tone in his voice.

I hadn't intended on responding to him, not just yet, and Frank shushed him quickly by remarking, "just let her see." And I was seeing. Not nearly as clear as when my hands had touched living flesh, but every one of those carved faces held their own semblance of memories, and I think I was actually beginning to understand a little of this new power of mine.

"They were all people, every single one of them. Real people. That's why they're all different."

"What is she talking about?" Lucas addressed his question to Frank, as if the words that came out of my mouth could no longer be trusted.

I snapped my eyes open and glared at him in frustration. Why couldn't he just understand the way Frank seemed to, it wasn't as if it was something I was truly capable of explaining, at least not so that he would fully comprehend what was happening. Hadn't Frank let him in on anything while I'd been gone?

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