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Hades' Cull

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A dying flame in the centre of the round room beyond her cell, the only light source. The hearth turned to embers, but there was no fear of the incoming dark. If there was no light, there’d be no shadows. If there were no shadows, well, perhaps she’d get to sleep for a few hours. Except the orange embers flickered, spat out sparks flowing high to the dome of bones above. A blinding shimmer and the fires were stoked once more. She hid her face behind her hands.

When the light faded, she scurried out of her cell. There were no bars or doors to hold her in there. She was tired of the fear. The pain from her memory must’ve been exaggerated. It was so long ago. She passed the other cells, little compartments around the hearth just like hers, with dark figures dwelling within. Souls far more wretched than her, from what she heard when they screamed out their sins.

It made some do that, perhaps they were from an age where confessing provided absolution? She always found that a little funny. At least it wasn’t her suffering like that. With such thoughts she made it to the gate—the archway. Again, no bars or doors to stop her. The ruination outside, brimstone and fire, of course.

The stone winding path leading from the prison cells to somewhere. She saw this before, the burning rock horizon in the distance. The sky was black, or there was nothing above but a bedrock roof—then the stagnant air thick with the stench of sour sweat would make sense. Each of her steps echoed until a shriek nearby spurned her into a run. More shrieks and screeches reminded her of pain, and she would sooner prefer to fall to her death than experience it again. She jumped off the path into the dark. The valley of black miasma, smoke, the abyss. But the creature caught her hand in its claws. In flight it took her beyond the stone path, cutting her wrist. Blood streamed down her arm, blinded her, as she dropped into waters. Fear, she remembered now. The cold grasp from beneath the depth pulled her. Moments later and she already missed that stuffy air. Choking, falling deeper into darkness, until she saw a light.

A bright flame in the centre of the round room beyond her cell the only light source. Blight be upon it, the girl stepped out of the cell and the shadows danced around her. She walked out of the prison, down the winding stone path. Her steps echoed across the brimstone ravine, she reached the rivers undisturbed and bathed in their water.


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