Radio Demon Duo - avocavocado (2024)

Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Chapter 1 Chapter Text Chapter 2: Chapter 2 Chapter Text Chapter 3: Chapter 3 Chapter Text Chapter 4: Chapter 4 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 5: Chapter 5 Chapter Text Chapter 6: Chapter 6 Chapter Text Chapter 7: Chapter 7 Chapter Text Chapter 8: Chapter 8 Chapter Text Chapter 9: Chapter 9 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 10: Chapter 10 Chapter Text Chapter 11: Chapter 11 Chapter Text Chapter 12: Chapter 12 Chapter Text Chapter 13: Chapter 13 Chapter Text Chapter 14: Chapter 14 Chapter Text Chapter 15: Chapter 15 Chapter Text Chapter 16: Chapter 16 Chapter Text Chapter 17: Chapter 17 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 18: Chapter 18 Chapter Text Chapter 19: Chapter 19 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 20: Chapter 20 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 21: Chapter 21 Chapter Text Chapter 22: Chapter 22 Chapter Text Chapter 23: Chapter 23 Chapter Text Chapter 24: Chapter 24 Chapter Text Chapter 25: Chapter 25 Chapter Text Chapter 26: Chapter 26 Chapter Text Chapter 27: Chapter 27 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 28: Chapter 28 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 29: Chapter 29 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 30: Chapter 30 Chapter Text Chapter 31: Chapter 31 Chapter Text Chapter 32: Chapter 32 Chapter Text Chapter 33: Chapter 33 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 34: Chapter 34 Chapter Text Chapter 35: Chapter 35 Chapter Text Chapter 36: Chapter 36 Chapter Text Chapter 37: Chapter 37 Chapter Text Chapter 38: Chapter 38 Notes: Chapter Text Chapter 39: Chapter 39 Notes: Chapter Text Chapter 40: Chapter 40 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 41: St Patrick's Day Filler Arc Summary: Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 42: Chapter 42 Notes: Chapter Text Chapter 43: Chapter 43 Notes: Chapter Text Chapter 44: Chapter 44 Chapter Text Chapter 45: Chapter 45 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 46: Chapter 46 Chapter Text Chapter 47: Chapter 47 Chapter Text Chapter 48: Chapter 48 Chapter Text Chapter 49: Chapter 49 Chapter Text Chapter 50: Chapter 50 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 51: Chapter 51 Notes: Chapter Text Chapter 52: Chapter 52 Chapter Text Chapter 53: Chapter 53 Chapter Text Chapter 54: Chapter 54 Chapter Text Chapter 55: Chapter 55 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 56: Chapter 56 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 57: Chapter 57 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 58: Chapter 58 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 59: Chapter 59 Chapter Text Chapter 60: Chapter 60 Chapter Text Chapter 61: Chapter 61 Chapter Text Chapter 62: Chapter 62 Chapter Text Chapter 63: Chapter 63 Chapter Text Chapter 64: Chapter 64 Chapter Text Chapter 65: Chapter 65 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 66: Chapter 66 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 67: Chapter 67 Chapter Text Chapter 68: Chapter 68 Chapter Text Chapter 69: Chapter 69 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 70: Chapter 70 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 71: Chapter 71 Chapter Text Chapter 72: Chapter 72 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 73: Chapter 73 Chapter Text Chapter 74: Chapter 74 Chapter Text Chapter 75: Chapter 75 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 76: Chapter 76 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 77: Chapter 77 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 78: Chapter 78 Chapter Text Chapter 79: Chapter 79 Chapter Text Chapter 80: Chapter 80 Chapter Text Chapter 81: Chapter 81 Chapter Text Chapter 82: Chapter 82 Chapter Text Chapter 83: Chapter 83 Chapter Text Chapter 84: Chapter 84 Chapter Text Chapter 85: Chapter 85 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 86: Chapter 86 Chapter Text Chapter 87: Chapter 87 Chapter Text Chapter 88: Chapter 88 Chapter Text Chapter 89: Chapter 89 Chapter Text Chapter 90: Chapter 90 Chapter Text Chapter 91: Chapter 91 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 92: Chapter 92 Chapter Text Chapter 93: Chapter 93 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 94: Chapter 94 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 95: Chapter 95 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 96: Chapter 96 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 97: Chapter 97 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 98: Chapter 98 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 99: Chapter 99 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 100: Chapter 100 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 101: Chapter 101 Chapter Text Chapter 102: Chapter 102 Chapter Text Chapter 103: Chapter 103 Notes: Chapter Text Chapter 104: Chapter 104 Chapter Text References

Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Chapter Text

I didn’t know what was happening. In one moment, all I could see and sense was impossibly clean, pure light. He was angry at me. I broke the rules. But I didn’t regret it. Because I know in my last act of petty defiance, I made sure that what I did to him would forever haunt him. Let him send me to burn in eternal fire and brimstone. I know such pain for so long will be the end of my sanity, but my mortal soul will live forever as a rotten memory in the man I hated.

But Hell was not at all what I was expecting. I thought it to be endless pain and anguish, but it looked more like Los Angeles but with a red sky and cosplayers running about. But I wasn’t exactly one to talk. Out of the various freaks and monsters crawling and slithering through the streets littered with used needles and bloody corpses, I think my new look was rather unique. But perhaps I was simply biased. While everyone else was a strange amalgamation of monster parts, I was a simple black great-horned owl with green accents in the flight feathers. I wasn’t even a human-sized owl, either; I was a plain owl.

It did take some time and energy getting used to having to use my feet as hands and balancing with my arms constantly being tucked against my sides. I had to assume that other sinners only assumed I was some sort of wild animal in Hell rather than a demon like them. But that only brought up more questions.

While I got used to my new form, I had to learn quickly about this Hell and its politics. Because of course Hell has its own politics. But the problem is that I couldn’t tell if these demons were feeding me lies or if this was the status quo in eternal damnation. But there was one thing here that seemed to tell the truth about this place. Or at the very least, it had the resources to find it out.

I was well aware of media picking and choosing what they want to report, but there was a chance that at least one of these radio shacks had a stash of information that they got to play favorites with. A certain advantage to my unorthodox demon form was the ability to sneak into almost anywhere I wanted. So slipping into the archives in these shacks was not a difficult task. I never had photographic memory, even when I was alive. And carrying a pen and paper didn’t seem to be a good idea since I was cosplaying as a regular demonic bird to infiltrate these media posts.

There were a great number of radio shacks in every corner of the Pentagram, and collecting information from each one has proven to be useful, but it wasn’t enough for me. I needed to know if it was correct information. After doing some research, I found that there was one station that consistently fed the public more or less accurate information.

There was a run-down radio shack on the corner of Riot Road. It was sitting on top of an apartment complex, and the owner of that shack seemed to have built that shack because I have seen that fish-like demon go in and out of the trapdoor on the floor and then see him through the window of his room in the apartment complex.

And during these reconnaissance missions, I found that there was a single indisputable event in Hell. Once a year, an army of Exorcists sent from Heaven fly down and indiscriminately kill demons to keep the population under control. It was something I could use to my advantage. My mind went a million miles an hour as I watched the infamous Extermination for the first time. These “angels” were not at all what I envisioned holy entities to be. They were wearing gray uniforms and had black faces with the features of the face being drawn on with white. But then again, Hell wasn’t what I envisioned either.

These exorcists often left their weapons in the bodies of demons they’ve slain, and others leave theirs behind at the end of the annual slaughter event. Something I had noticed earlier in my afterlife was that these demons were immortal in a sense. If their forms break or die, then they come back a few hours later, albeit very painfully. But these angelic weapons killed them for good.

Luckily for me, I could lift much more than a regular owl, so collecting spears and swords was not a difficult task once the hourglass ran out of time. And it was then that I started my plan. The radio shack that had caught my eye was going to be my new home; I just had to get rid of the original owner, first. I was in Hell for a reason; this man was not going to be my first kill. The Extermination just ended no more than two minutes ago, and the sinner I was targeting was hiding in the manmade bunker of his apartment.

After the fireworks signaling the end of the annual killings was over, I made my move. With talons reinforced with angelic steel, I struck down the demon with a slash to the throat as soon as he stepped foot outside his safe haven. Nobody would notice one more body on the street. And from there, I started to move my weapons from my stash into the radio shack piece by piece.

The sinner who originally owned this place had subscribed to a newspaper that had proven to be reliable. Dozens of dated papers sat in the archives, which admittedly, were not very large. This demon must’ve been throwing out the papers that were over a month old. It did not concern me much. However, what did concern me was the state of the equipment he was using. The machinery was old but functioned properly; however, other radio shacks with much more funding had access to better equipment.

Which is why I set up traps for these owners during Extermination Day, so they would be out on the streets for the angels to easily find and kill them. I was not able to take out every broadcasting network in the Pentagram, but it was certainly a good chunk of it. And once these sinners were dead, I would fly by their studios and take what I wanted and burn the rest. It was admittedly a great number of trips, but the result was well worth it.

The Extermination was a twelve hour event that ended when the night fell over Hell. And I will admit that such a sentence was yet another strange sentence to say aloud. But I believe that these seven months I’ve spent in Hell have caused me to become accustomed to such oddities. With the major radio networks dying in the Extermination, the stage was set for me to make my debut. This crusade began with my drive to pursue knowledge, but all of this scheming and bloodshed had awakened a new ambition within me.

I had spent years of my life on Earth being selfless; so I decided I would be selfish for the rest of my afterlife. It’s not like I can be rewarded for good behavior anymore now, can I?

With a victorious grin, I stood upon the console and turned several knobs with my talons. With a sliver of glee and satisfaction, I saw the red lights blaring through the window of my new studio. Emblazoned upon the roof of my new home were bright letters spelling out “ON AIR”. With a crackle of static, my voice began to carry delight as I carried my first broadcast all throughout Hell. “Greetings, my dear listeners. If you’re tuning in for the first time, then let me officially welcome you to the year 1916! Our good friends, the Exorcists, have once again outdone themselves with a stunning performance to celebrate the turning of the year. Now, let’s begin with our morning broadcast.”

Chapter 2: Chapter 2

Chapter Text

“The Radio Demon?” a short and plump female Sinner in a pink flapper dress and a roaring 20’s bob cut tasted the name on her tongue before jabbing a tall man in a crisp red tailcoat with a friendly elbow. “That sounds to be a title fitting for the infamous Bayou Butcher of New Orleans, eh old friend?” Mimzy and Alastor listened attentively to the demons of Cannibal Town as they shared a meal. The denizens of this part of the Pentagram were uncharacteristically friendly in comparison to the rest of Hell.

“Indeed,” one of the male cannibals replied with a grin as he dislocated the arm from the torso on the table with practiced ease. “It’s been almost twenty years now since this “Radio Demon” appeared in Hell. I heard that whoever or whatever she is took power after almost every other radio host in the Pentagram all died in the same Extermination.”

“One or two radio overlords dying on the same day can be seen as accidental, but all of them? I heard a famous theory that this new Radio Demon is working with the Exorcists. After all, nobody has ever seen what she looks like. She very well could have a black halo above her head.”

Alastor’s toothy grin widened. He has barely even touched his food, too engrossed in these tales the cannibals were spinning. This town gave him the familiarity of his life back on earth. He had only joined the ranks of the underworld a few months ago, and he found comfort in nostalgia such as hearty gossip between friends at the dinner table.

“Hey, hold on,” Mimzy cut in as she leaned her elbow on the table. She had not eaten much of her dish, either, but unlike Alastor, she wasn’t too enthusiastic about Cannibal Town’s food choices. “How can a demon be workin’ with angels? And didn’t you say that only some of the other radio hosts died in the Extermination?”

“Well, my dear, they did say that these were mere rumors,” Alastor replied, his voice heavily layered with radio static. He learned quickly that the sinners of Hell took on characteristics that were a nod to their lives on Earth. He was a well-known radio host in Louisiana, and so he was pleasantly surprised that he had the ability to tune his voice the way it is with his cane. “Where might one find this Radio Demon? I have been following her broadcasts ever since I arrived here. She seems to be a charming young lady.”

“Oh, her studio is on the corner of Riot Road at the end of the Doomsday District,” another of the cannibals replied with a wave of her hand. “But fair warning, nobody frequents that area anymore. After the Radio Demon rose to power, many other hosts retired, I hear, most likely out of fear of being next.”

The cannibals were not lying to him, Alastor found out, and it was yet another point in their favor. The entirety of this street had been abandoned. It was an alien feeling, to walk down a road of Hell without sensing the smell of blood or the sounds of suffering. The only other noise echoing in the ghost town aside from the wind was Alastor’s cane tapping the concrete as he walked down the road. At last, he caught sight of the unilluminated “On Air” sign sitting comfortably upon a lone radio tower.

There was the daunting possibility that this Radio Demon could be lying in wait to ambush any trespassers; that darkened sign likely meant that she was not in her studio and was instead prowling about in only the Lord knows where. Alastor was confident in his abilities, but because the Radio Demon was such an elusive character, he had no idea how to gauge her strength accurately.

But a flash of black got his attention. The shadow of a small winged beast was traveling from one building rooftop to the next. It appeared to be an avian of some sort. The red-clad demon had seen quite the number of monstrous vermin and street animals, but he had to admit that an owl was a first for him. Especially since this owl looked to be an ordinary animal on Earth, aside from the emerald coloring.

He watched with rising interest as the owl flew towards the radio tower and crawled inside the window, and not a moment later the sign on the roof of the building lit up proudly. Alastor’s grin widened; he made sure to time his arrival so that he would be here the moment the Radio Demon’s morning broadcast began. She was a creature of habit, rather like him. His ear twitched towards the wooden speaker sitting in the window of an abandoned store. These radios seemed to be a territory marker, as they were colored black and had intricate feather designs engraved in the wood with a gorgeous shade of forest green, and all of Pentagram City had been associating those colors and feathers with the Radio Demon because they carried her broadcast.

“Welcome back to the show, dear listeners! I have some exciting news for my dedicated followers! I am delighted to welcome a very special guest on today’s broadcast. Oh, how I adore meeting new people. What is your name, my good sir?”

The stand that was holding the radio lit up with a faint green light before a microphone arm stretched out towards Alastor. He remained still as the metallic appendage lunged forwards, stopping just before hitting his face. His eyebrow quirked in amusem*nt as his hair rippled from the high-speed movement. So she knew he was here. She was most likely watching him from her radio tower. He did love putting on a show.

The deer demon spun his cane in his hand briefly, “Alastor. Pleasure to be meeting you, sweetheart, quite a pleasure. It is an honor to be featured on such a prominent broadcast hosted by an even more prominent figure.”

“Oho! What manners this one has.” Alastor could almost hear the merriment leaking into the voice echoed in the radio. The red-clad demon suspected that she was expecting him to be timid and flustered for being spotted in her territory. “And to what do I owe the pleasure?”

“I simply wished to meet such a famous fellow radio host. Your title is spoken with great fear and respect all across the Pentagram.”

“A fellow radio host, you say? Are you aware of the fate of the other radio hosts here in Hell? You see, I am simply concerned, my dear friend. They all vanished without a trace years ago, it was such a tragedy.”

Alastor could barely hold back his laughter. The faux sympathy and sadness from her voice was so obvious it was almost suffocating. It was rather reminiscent of how he would tell news of the mysterious killings when he went on his rampage as a serial killer. But it would be rather rude to laugh at a radio host while on the air. “I do appreciate the warning, truly. But I do believe that is old news. What is the state of affairs regarding the turf war on the south side of the Pentagram? I do believe I have heard talk about this hot topic on your show for the last few days.”

“Oh, what a pleasant surprise. My esteemed guest is a loyal listener. It seems that Valkyries are running low on members, and their enemies are closing in. A prime opportunity for the Loan Sharks to strike. They’ve already claimed seven blocks of territory due to a lack of underlings. I would love to hear your thoughts on the situation, my friend.”

“This would seem like a sure win for the Loan Sharks. They've much more experience and resources than a handful of wild and rambunctious Sinners, but I have heard through the grapevine that the Valkyries have made a deal with a neighboring Overlord. A dangerous gamble, indeed.” Alastor didn't realize just how much he had missed this until he no longer had it. The colorful commentary, the thought-provoking theory crafting, and this "Radio Demon" he was speaking to had charisma and class that made conversation quite captivating.

“How interesting. The only nearby Overlord I can think of who would offer assistance to a dying gang would have to be Prowler. He lives for the thrill of conflict and would more than likely throw his hat into the ring with the right incentive…”

Chapter 3: Chapter 3

Chapter Text

I was pleasantly surprised to see Alastor in the same spot the next day at the same time. He was an audacious one to show up again. I didn’t know if he was arrogant or new to Hell. He wasn’t an Overlord, and the only sinners who would dare step foot onto my territory were those who had the confidence to walk out alive. And so, for the next few weeks, I spoke with him outside my studio. If he was truly as powerful as an Overlord, then the last thing I would want is for him to know my true form. The reason I have stayed in power for so long was because of my reputation and my reputation alone.

If anyone, especially an Overlord, knew I was a talking owl without any sort of powers that other sinners have, they would try to kill me in an instant. I still had my angelic weapons from when I killed the original owner of this tower, and since then, I have been collecting more after each Extermination. I had a vast collection and had made use of the new abandoned apartment complex to house my weapons and blacksmith equipment. During these past few years, I quickly learned that I don’t have any unique abilities other sinners possess, so I had to make due with learning how to fight as a bird with talons reinforced with holy steel.

It was a dangerous game I was playing with Alastor. He was extremely difficult to read; I had no way of knowing what he was thinking and so had no way to predict an attack. Several weeks went by with the red-clad demon appearing in the same part in town every day for the morning broadcast. Over the weeks, the two of us would discuss the news and current events here in the land down under, and I will admit that I had enjoyed the banter. I’ve been tempted into inviting him into the studio a few times, but I ultimately dismissed those suggestions every time through my own paranoia.

However, it seemed today I wouldn’t have to debate with myself about Alastor’s presence within my studio. When I flew up to the tower after my morning patrol, I pried open the window with an easy flick of a talon before hopping inside and closing it behind me.

“Well, good morning, my dear,” an all-too familiar voice sounded behind me, and I felt my stomach drop and my feathers stand on end. I dared to turn around and my emerald green eyes honed in on the smiling deer demon perched innocently on my unused chair sitting next to the control console like he owned the place.

I’ve only ever seen him from a bird’s eye view, but now that he was suddenly only a few feet away from me, I could only describe the man as creepy. Bright red eyes, broad grin full of yellow pointed teeth, professional attire, and an aura of overwhelming bloodlust intertwined with a powerful desire for control and power. The man was absolutely a schemer.

In one of his clawed hands, Alastor held a cup of what appeared to be coffee that was still steaming hot. He took a sip before his apparent permanent grin curved into a smirk, “What a lovely day it is, wouldn’t you agree? I had considered getting a cup for you, but I’m afraid I’m not aware of how you like your coffee. Perhaps I can get some for you tomorrow.”

“Oh, what nonsense, my friend,” I quickly regained my composure and waved a wing, but the broad grin on Alastor’s face told me that he had already seen my brief moment of shock. “You’re a guest. But I will admit that you should’ve let me know you were dropping by. I’m afraid my studio has seen better days.” I soared over to the console and began to set up, but I made sure to never take an eye off of him.

I’m sure he noticed my wariness, as I could see his grin widen while I went to the trapdoor of the tower and picked up the newspaper from the floor with my talons. I set it on the table and began to skim through it with a raptor’s eye. My morning patrols had two purposes: monitor my territory and to verify the news portrayed by the morning newspapers. I found the true articles in this morning’s newspaper and circled them with a feather quill. I could feel Alastor’s scarlet gaze on me as I went through the motions before the daily broadcast.

My pride prevented me from delaying the show so I could find a way to kick him out and he was always on the air with me anyways, so I figured why not. But my mind went a million miles a minute as we went through the news. I found out early on when I was teaching myself about Hell about soul contracts. A Sinner can sell their soul to another demon for favors or services; it was an extreme form of currency as it would mean that the one selling their soul would practically be enslaved for the rest of their afterlife. And Overlords were Sinners who owned the souls of others.

I was no Overlord, but the majority of Hell thinks I am, and that’s the reason I’m still alive and why I’m so feared. Part of the reason I am so feared is because of the air of mystery to my title as the Radio Demon. I have essentially no face in this world and was seen as an indestructible figure instead of just another Sinner, but sooner or later, there are going to be those bold enough to step into my territory and find out the truth about me. Alastor was proof enough of that.

I can’t survive with just reputation anymore. I need a face, and I need power. Alastor could be that face, but I would have to offer something in return. The only things I had to offer was my radio tower and my own soul,which were things I was not willing to part with. I flexed my talons in thought before the answer finally struck me.

“That’s all for today, dear listeners,” Alastor’s voice pulled me from my musings. Thank you for tuning in, and we’ll see you tomorrow!” His crimson eyes honed in on me sitting on my branch perch on the control console, features masked behind an unreadable smile. “You were awfully quiet today, my dear. Did my sudden visit surprise you that much?” His eyes narrowed, the radio static emanating from his microphone started glitching and playing single sounds and syllables from random stations, producing an effect that sounded similar to a spirit box. The unsettling sounds and his dark grin gave him the aura of a mysterious and malicious entity, which wasn’t exactly an inaccurate description.

“I have a proposition for you, Alastor,” I began cautiously, trying not to let the unease seep into my voice. My talons flexed on the wood underneath my feet as I waited for his reaction.

“A proposition you say?” the deer demon’s grin sharpened, and his tone took on an imposing edge. “How interesting.”

“You are aware of my reputation and how I came to earn it, yes?” I began. “I killed the other radio Overlords in Pentagram City, and when I say killed I mean killed. They never came back like other Sinners do.”

“That is one of the theories I’ve heard regarding your title, yes,” Alastor replied. His red claws tapped on the microphone on his cane; he recognized a warning when he heard it.

“You’ve been performing alongside me for long enough to earn your own debut. I can lend you my power to slay Overlords just as I had done when I took to the stage. I can work behind the curtain to ensure your rise to fame. And with this fame, you can build your own empire, one that rivals or even surpasses any other being in this world. I offer you strength and glory as the most powerful Overlord in the history of Hell… What do you have to offer?”

The question was rhetorical, and we both knew it. I wanted his soul in exchange for my aid in destroying his enemies. It seemed like he would be receiving the better end of this deal because he would take the credit and privileges that come with killing Overlords, but he was a sharp one and I knew it. He would gain unfathomable power from this deal, and I would receive nothing but his name on a golden contract. But if I had his signature, then his soul and the new power that came with it would be at my beck and call.

This wasn’t a deal; it was a gamble.

Would Alastor figure out the real gain I have from this offer? If he did, would he find a way to kill me with that power and free himself from my shackles? And there was of course the possibility of me simply killing him if he refused the deal because he knows I'm capable of it. The decision was up to him now.

It felt like another force was possessing my body at that moment. My right wing reached out, and a surge of dark green wisps began to dance around the feathers. The temperature in the room suddenly began to plummet, and a targeted chill swept through the studio, almost like the presence of multiple restless spirits wailing and screaming at those who cannot hear them.

“Do we have a deal?”

Chapter 4: Chapter 4

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Alastor didn’t know what to make of this “Radio Demon” at first. He hasn’t been in Hell for very long, but from what he’s gathered, Sinners take the form of some sort of animal-like monstrosity with each form being a representation of that Sinner’s soul or how they died. He was surprised to feel antlers on his head and hooves on his feet when he had first arrived in this realm. The jarring realization as to where he was and what had happened to him took several hours for him to wrap his head around.

And it wasn’t until he finally came to terms with his death that he began to ponder why he was a deer. Was it because he was a hunter? Because he enjoyed venison? Was it some cruel irony for whatever God is out there to turn him, the infamous serial killer of New Orleans, into a prey animal?

Finally, Alastor’s brain had managed to scrape enough coherent thought together to replay the last moments in his mind before he awoke on the filthy and bloody streets of Hell. He had just made another kill and was burying the body in his favorite hunting grounds. But then, he heard the loud and thunderous barking of hunting dogs before the bone-chilling and familiar sound of a gunshot rang out. That was all he knew before he woke up in a dark alleyway with a dizzying and agonizing headache under a red sky.

He was shot, he knew it. Did the person who killed him knew they were tailing the Bayou Butcher or was he mistaken for a deer on the hunting grounds? It would explain the hunting dogs and why he took the appearance of a deer in the afterlife. At least, by this realm’s rules.

But this “Radio Demon” was different from other Sinners. Alastor was immediately curious of this mysterious figure as soon as he heard the moniker. Other demons called her a possible angel in disguise, others called her an Overlord. But they all knew her to be a faceless figure with unimaginable power. The story intrigued him immediately. She was a famous radio host who was feared by many and respected by few across the entirety of Hell for her mysterious and infamous killings of other famous Overlords. That was the kind of life Alastor could have here; he just needed to know how she did it.

But it was a difficult decision to wander into her territory one day. Her reputation as an indestructible demon was impressive, but it made him stop and think. In all the years of her reign, nobody has questioned her power, and those who have were never heard from again if they dared say so in her territory. There was proof of her power, but what other demons failed to realize was that it sounded to be very limited. If the Radio Demon was to retaliate against those who questioned her, it would only be against demons traveling alone rather than those in a group. She would kill the ones stupid enough to go into her territory alone and use scare tactics to drive away and/or separate groups.

It made Alastor have doubts about her power. If she was so strong, then why feel the need to single her victims out instead of killing them in one fell swoop? And that’s when the holes started forming, and that’s when the deer demon found some oddities surrounding this supposed indestructible figure. He began to think that she wasn’t as powerful as she had made herself out to believe, and since she controls the entirety of the radio business in Hell, it seemed like she alone could control the information the other Sinners had ready access to.

But he had done his research. The majority of the facts she shared on her show were true, and if she did accidentally give false information while on air, she would follow it up with an apology and a correction. The Radio Demon had great pride and dedication to her work, and Alastor had to admit that he admired that. But that also meant she was somehow able to roam freely throughout Hell to gather information without being spotted; other media outlets such as daily papers regularly spread lies to further a certain Overlord’s agenda. Since she was a faceless figure, the easiest way to do so would be just a mere face in the crowd.

It was possible that there were souls under the Radio Demon who were gathering information for her, but those theories were shut down by the simple fact that nobody entered her territory. If she was such a master showman like how she is in a broadcast, then why wouldn’t she make her power known throughout Hell in person? She wouldn’t unless she really didn’t have the power, and instead used fear as a weapon to remain in control.

The Radio Demon was good, but Alastor was better.

It was this thought that possessed him to walk down the streets of her territory. His life was dependent on this theory, and there was always the possibility that he had missed one or two factors in his thought process. But it was a necessary risk. If this mysterious Overlord really was a lowly Sinner hiding behind a mask of intimidation, then he could form a partnership with her or even simply threaten to expose her secret if she wasn’t willing to cooperate. Alastor was reminded of his life on Earth every day as he listened to her shows and heard tales of her rise to fame, and he wanted what he had back. And this Radio Demon was the key to doing so.

And when Alastor carefully waited for the Radio Demon to lower her guard, he couldn’t help but notice the presence of a lone black owl circling the streets of the Overlord’s territory. Apparently, the mere existence of such a creature in hell was foreign and was seen as odd. He couldn’t piece together why until another demon let it slip that no Sinner and no Hellborn creature took the form of an owl besides the Goetias. And it had led to more speculation as to the Radio Demon’s true origins.

But the deer demon got a different aura from the creature. Whenever that black avian flew overhead, he could feel its watchful eyes carefully monitoring his every move. It made his ears swivel on high alert and his muscles itch with the familiar fight or flight response. But Alastor was able to separate those prey animal instincts from his true sense of danger. This owl was not hunting him; it was studying him, and that creature always ventured into the radio tower after observing him for several painful minutes.

One day, he finally worked up the courage to climb through the several stories of apartment buildings to the trap door leading to the demon’s base of operations after the daily broadcast was over and after the owl left. He shouldn’t have been surprised to see every door to these buildings unlocked; the place had been abandoned for almost two decades.

And just as he had thought; there was no Radio Demon in sight. It only made Alastor’s suspicions grow, and he vowed to use this new information to find an opening to create a “partnership” with this mysterious Overlord.

But she had beat him to the punch.

With black feathers dancing in electric blue light, she offered Alastor a chance to gain everything she has. The Radio Demon was giving him the opportunity to become a powerful Overlord just like she was, and with her doing all the work while he took all the credit. It appeared to be such a one-sided deal in his favor. It made him think for a moment that he had bit off more than he could chew. He thought he was one step ahead of the Radio Demon by deducing the fact that she had no real power like other Overlords had. And that shocked expression on her face only confirmed that to him.

But it seemed she was scheming throughout the entirety of the show that morning. Because as soon as Alastor turned off the broadcast, she offered her terms along with the vague threat of death if he so refused. The deer demon’s smile was strained as he quickly went through his options. It seemed unavoidable to take this deal; he still had no idea as to how the Radio Demon permanently killed her victims, so she could do the same to him whenever she wished. And since he knew she was a mere owl and no ordinary Sinner, it was very likely she’ll take him out if he so much as moved without accepting her terms.

But he could learn from her how she killed the other Overlords. She did offer to kill some in his name, after all. Alastor felt his claws digging into his palm with enough force to make droplets of scarlet leak onto the floor. If this was his only option, then he’ll wait patiently for his opportunity to strike back. But only after she gave him all the power he could ever dream of.

Alastor shook the wing of the other demon, and a sickly shade of dark green light accompanied by a flurry of ruby red rose petals engulfed the room. With a black feather quill, he signed his name at the bottom of a glowing golden contract, and in the next instant, crocodile green metal as cold and unforgiving as winter itself locked around his neck. A chain of vines and thorns stretched out from the shackles and weaved itself through the air of the studio, the barbs digging into his skin.

Notes:

i posted the wrong chapter by accident bc of course i did

Chapter 5: Chapter 5

Chapter Text

It had been three months since Alastor stepped foot in the studio. He has held up his end of the deal, and I held up mine. And I seemed to have underestimated just how much of a showman he was. Instead of having me silently slay the Overlords he targeted, he wanted their deaths to be broadcast all throughout Hell on our radio show. Such a delightful idea, and I was more than happy to oblige.

The moment we shook hands and sealed the deal was a chilling one. It took him a few seconds of contemplation before he almost hesitatingly reached his own hand out red claws bathed in acid green light. And ever since then, I’ve felt the presence of a tether connecting my soul to Alastor’s. Whenever I flexed my talons or tapped the invisible chain, the arctic blue links would make a brief appearance in a crackle of sparks.

Nothing fishy has gone on quite yet, and I had to admit that over the weeks, we’ve come to know each other with short talks while off the air. I found out that he disliked physical contact, enjoyed puns, and was a radio host in his hometown when he was alive, but that last fact was obvious. He brought nothing less than jovial and theatrical flair with every word he spoke, both while on and off the air, and he took great pride and joy in his work.

Every suggestion the deer demon had given to raise the quality of the show had proven to be successful. Taking music requests from listeners and interviews with cannibal food critics have proven useful. I’ll admit that I had never once mingled with the cannibal community, but apparently Alastor was a frequent visitor to their part of the Pentagram.

There didn’t seem to be any malicious intent behind Alastor’s shenanigans, but my gut was telling me otherwise. Whenever I dared to look away from him, the pure pressure from his gaze felt like I was being torn apart like a prey animal under the jaws of a wolf. As of right now, I only got a bad vibe from the man, but nothing has been done yet. I made a habit of carrying a small angelic blade in the pouch of the belt that hung around my shoulder like the strap of a messenger bag. There was no concrete evidence of any sort of sabotage or criminal mischief. Other than sneaking into my studio (which was not a notable crime by Hell’s standards, anyway), there was no plotting against me.

One day, I finally asked Alastor what sort of coffee he liked; he came into the studio every morning with a fresh cup. He replied with a dismissive wave and a confirmation that he picked some up from a random shop a few blocks down before coming here. He didn’t appear to be very critical with the coffee he drinks. I assumed it would be rather annoying to carry a hot cup of coffee for several blocks to the radio tower every day. Each and every shop in the town was abandoned years ago when I rose to power.

So after the broadcast that day, I swung by a supercenter after ordering a coffee maker through the telephone. I couldn’t exactly reveal to a shopkeeper that the infamous Radio Demon was an ordinary owl. My voice was easily recognizable, so I let the store know that I would be sending an owl to pick up my order. I suspect an earth owl wouldn’t be able to lift the box, but being a demonic bird had its perks. It was a pretty penny, but almost twenty years of collecting money and spending next to none of it has caused my bank account to skyrocket. And when I went to pick up the coffee maker, I spotted something on display that gave me an idea.

It didn’t take too long to put the machine together on one of the tables on the corner of the room next to the window. So when Alastor walked into the studio the next day with his usual cup of coffee, his scarlet gaze spotted the new addition to the tower in the corner of the room. And next to the machine was a light red mug with the words “Oh Deer” written in black cursive. He tilted his head at me with curiosity and amusem*nt written in his eyes, and I waved a wing. “There are no coffee shops nearby, so I imagine it to be a real bother to carry a hot cup all the way here every day. I don’t have any coffee beans yet, so feel free to pick up whatever kind you like. I don’t drink coffee.”

Alastor leaned over the table I was sitting on with a smirk. I had gotten used to his antics and didn’t react; he seemed to have taken great delight in lording his height of seven feet over my insulting one and a half. “Oh, how thoughtful, sweetheart. So there is a heart under those feathers. Hoot‘ve thought?”

I could barely hold back a snort. “Anything for my deer. friend~” I flicked a talon in the direction of his ears to emphasize the pun and gave a smirk. Alastor barked with laughter, shoulders bouncing as he sat down in his chair. I settled onto my perch on the console, trying to keep my own grin off my face.We went through the broadcast that day with a new energy, going over the news and sharing witty banter, and during the music breaks, he seemed to have taken offense to the fact that I told a filthy pun in his presence without giving him the time to send one back in retaliation because we went on the air immediately after I made that joke. Alastor turned the microphones off as the show played a few jazz songs

“Say, I have a question for you, my dear.” I raised an eyebrow, and the deer demon’s grin turned downright mischievous. “Do you know what the loudest pet you can get is?”

I blinked in confusion, not bothering to hide my incredulous expression at the absolutely random question. But Alastor didn’t wait for a response. “A trumpet!” he crowed victoriously. Once I registered the fact that he told such a joke, I snickered, and the sound made his grin broaden smugly. I shook my feathers with a matching smirk in challenge.

When I flew into the tower the next day, I saw Alastor already here, sipping coffee with his new mug. When I closed the window behind me, I couldn’t help but notice an empty bag of coffee beans sitting in the trash can next to the door. I soared onto my perch next to the controls to start the show. But a hum from the red-clad demon caught my attention. When I turned my head to look at him to see him eying something in the corner and innocently sipping on his coffee.

Sitting on a table at the other end of the room were black owl bookends with the words “Know-It-Owl” written in green letters with the same font as the words on his coffee mug.

I let out a loud cackle.

Chapter 6: Chapter 6

Chapter Text

Several years have passed since Alastor became an official part of the studio, and I’ll admit that days or even weeks sometimes go by and I forget about the soul contract between the two of us. I would always sense the chain connecting his soul to mine, but because it was always present, there were times my mind would simply tune out the feel of the ice cold chain links.

I knew that other Overlords wasted no time in ordering the souls they owned around, but I honestly had no reason to. I made the deal for my own security and nothing more. In the months Alastor has been under my roof, his power has grown by leaps and bounds. And as the days and weeks and months passed, I could tell he was still suspicious and weary of me. He didn’t know I had no intention of forcing him to do anything, and I was debating telling him that he had nothing to worry about. But I didn’t know how he would react to such a thing. If he knew I had no intention of tugging his leash, he might get rebellious and that could jeopardize my own safety.

So I supposed the only thing I could keep doing in the meantime was to continue the daily routine but keep an eye on Alastor in case he got any ideas. But as I was monitoring him, I couldn’t help but notice that every year, three or four months before the Extermination, the deer demon became rather twitchy. Every other day, he would carry himself with controlled grace and calculated movements. But there were a few days every year where he would be caught scratching his ears, growling under his breath in irritation, and his smile was often twisted into an annoyed grimace.

I finally confronted him on the issue, but he brushed it off dismissively. But the next day, I finally realized what was wrong. On one of his antlers, a single strip of what looked like skin was peeling off. I sometimes hunted fish and game when I was alive, so I knew that bucks shed their velvet every year. I found out rather early into my afterlife that Sinners with animal attributes in their forms often also carried the animal attributes based on their form. I was forced to cough up pellets a few hours after every meal, even if I didn’t eat anything that my body couldn’t handle. My guess is that this was yet another way God was punishing sinners.

After the daily broadcast ended, Alastor got up and briskly began walking to the door. I knew that he was rather irritable around this time of year, but now I knew why. Before he could make it to the trapdoor, I flew up and hovered in front of his face to make him freeze in his tracks. He let his staff tap the floor with uncharacteristic anger as he waited for me to speak.

“Do you need some help?” At the deer demon’s silent bid to elaborate, I did so. “You’re shedding velvet, yes? Would you like some help?”

Alastor appeared stunned for a moment, and he brought a hand up to his chin with a thoughtful expression. I’ve known him long enough to recognize genuine contemplation. There were times he would purposefully pretend to be pondering about decisions purely for dramatic effect, but now he was deep in thought. He shrugged and clasped his hands behind his back as his staff disappeared to Heaven knows where.

The red-clad demon sat down in his chair with a hum, and I watched as the antlers on his head jolted out of his head bit by bit. The two small hooks sitting between his ears elongated to a stunning eight pointer, the prongs stretching out to almost be the width of his wingspan. “Knock yourself out, my dear,” Alastor’s grin sharpened deviously, and I had a sneaking suspicion as to why he agreed so easily. He wanted to see me, a tiny one foot owl, try cleaning his massive antlers with nothing but my own talons.

I ruffled my wings and flew over to his antlers before settling on the long horns. I don’t think he expected me to so casually perch on his head, but there were no protests. I took a few steps around on the prongs, debating with how I was going to approach the situation. The first thought that came to mind was to use my knife that I keep in my satchel but there was no way in Hell I would reveal my angelic blade. So I suppose the only course of action to take was to pick the long strips of velvet with my beak. How degrading.

I could feel the eye of Alastor’s microphone on me as I plucked off the pieces of fuzzy cartilage around the black antlers. Luckily for me, the velvet came off in long strips rather than small chunks. I had to assume the deer demon got a kick out of seeing my slight struggle with cleaning the long and thin horns, but I was getting a kick out of feeling his neck strain as I sat on one end of his antlers, picking at the pointed prongs. I may be a bird, but I was a large bird.

As I carved the cartilage off the bone, I dropped the strips of skin and flesh on the table in front of the red-clad demon. Scarlet blood was left on the antlers after the velvet was peeled off, and I briefly wiped my beak off with a wing before moving over to the other antler.

I heard Alastor hum underneath me as he picked up a strip of velvet with a clawed hand. He seemed to contemplate for a moment before taking a bite out of the chunk of flesh. I acknowledged the action with a brief turn of my head before continuing with what I was doing.

“Oh? You don’t seem very surprised, my dear,” I couldn’t see Alastor’s face from where I was on his antlers, but I could hear the interested tone in his voice.

I tugged off another piece of velvet and tossed it onto the table before I could answer him, “I already know you frequent Cannibal Town, and I already know deer aren’t exactly strict herbivores. So your shenanigans do not surprise me anymore, my friend.”

“Oh, you wound me,” the deer demon took another bite of the velvet. “It seems I need to be more creative to catch you off guard.”

“What’s this?” I let myself fall backwards while still gripping the antler I was perched on so that I was hanging upside down like a bat while looking him in the eye. “I apologize, if I had known you were trying to surprise me, I would’ve put in the effort of putting on a jovial face for you.”

“Are you implying you are not always wearing a smile? You know you’re never fully dressed without one.”

I chuckled before pulling myself back up with my beak, but I couldn’t even get one more strip before Alastor was making conversation again. “What do you think of the taste, my dear?” His question had a sharp edge, taking the tone of an imposing threat. I didn’t know much about the culture of cannibals, but because the deer demon had frequently featured culinary commentaries on the show, I knew that the denizens of Cannibal Town only devoured those who they believed deserved it. However, their personal beliefs varied from demon to demon, but they all had a surprisingly healthy moral compass. Being devoured was an excruciating experience from what I’ve heard. But because of this ideology, eating another being was seen as the ultimate gesture of disrespect.

His words and the way he was tearing into the velvet like jerky made me acutely aware of the taste of blood on my tongue. “I’m afraid all I can taste is copper. I tend to stay away from foods with fur and feathers,” I continued the conversation almost absentmindedly before picking another strip of velvet. “That sort of meat doesn’t exactly agree with my digestive system.”

“Hmm, what a pity,” Alastor mused, the heavy layers of static making his tone unreadable to me. “There is nothing I enjoy more than fresh venison.”

“I’m afraid I’ve never tried venison before,” I replied as another strip of bloody velvet hit the table. It felt like we were playing a dangerous game of tennis with a live grenade. One wrong comment from either side could cause the conversation to explode in a violent fury that will leave at least one demon dead. I had to admit that there was a unique thrill in the potentially lethal banter.

One more long piece of flesh and fur fell onto the table, and I flew over to my perch by the window with a stifled yawn. Sleep had eluded me the previous night, and it showed in my uncoordinated glide to the other side of the room. “Ah, thank you for your assistance with this issue, my dear,” Alastor stood up and bundled up the remaining pieces of velvet in a bloody rag before tucking it into his coat, most likely to eat later as his antlers shrank back to their usual size. “Shedding is a rather unpleasant experience. I simply must make it up to you!”

I waved a wing with a light grin as I wiped my bloody talons on a rag, “Oh, you needn’t worry about that. I was simply helping a friend with a troublesome situation.”

“Nonsense!” the deer demon replied cheerfully. “Quite frankly, with your terrible eating habits, I should’ve made this offer to you years ago. Come along now, it’s almost noon, and we mustn’t be late.” he lifted his elbow towards me, and I felt myself blinking owlishly at the display, to which his grin widened with amusem*nt.

I huffed under my breath when the rules of our games hit me once the surprise wore off. We both wore masks to keep each other and our enemies guessing, and it had become a sport as we came to know each other to try breaking the facade with quips and banter. He won this exchange, but now I had the rest of the day to settle the score. I flew up to him and cautiously settled on his raised arm; Alastor despised physical contact whenever he wasn’t the one initiating it, so I knew it would be seen as offensive to him to not take him up on his offer.

Chapter 7: Chapter 7

Chapter Text

After a few minutes of walking down the street, Alastor had me sit on his shoulder instead of his elbow. I didn’t blame him; I had to assume it was rather awkward to carry a fully-grown great-horned owl on one’s elbow while walking. Once we got out of my territory, I couldn’t help but look around. I’ve only ever seen the Pentagram from a bird’s eye view out of fear of the locals, so I never really got a look at the stores and what they had to offer. Granted, what they had to offer was often sexual or drug-related in nature, but it was interesting to look at nonetheless.

“Do you not leave your territory often?” Alastor asked me, having apparently picked up on my curiosity.

“I fly across Hell every day before the morning broadcast,” I replied, trying not to let the movements of my beak be too noticeable. I’ve been here for decades under the disguise of a plain demonic owl, so I’d rather not give away my identity just yet. “Tales spun in the papers can be easily fabricated, and I take great pride in delivering accurate information to my audience.”

“Quite a passion you have, my dear,” the deer demon’s expression lit up, his cane tapping on the ground as he walked down the street. “It is very refreshing to see such dedication to one’s work. I’m afraid work ethic and honesty are of short supply these days.”

I could barely hold back a chuckle because he said such a sentence as if we weren't walking down a street in Hell itself as demons of all shapes and sizes wreaked havoc and carnage around every corner. “Indeed, what has the world come to?” I shook my head and replied in faux sadness before ruffling my wings and moving over to Alastor’s other shoulder, being careful to make sure my talons don’t dig too much into the bright red fabric underneath them. “Might I ask where we’re going?”

“My dear, I believe you let it slip that your diet consists of vermin for the most part. Now that just won’t do. No business partner of mine is going to accept such subpar sustenance.” I couldn’t help but acknowledge that some part of me swelled with joy when he called me his partner. Being almost completely alone in a practically desolate wasteland for decades would do things to one’s sanity.

“I will admit that my culinary standards have dropped over the years,” I replied. “Eating simply hasn’t been enjoyable for me anymore. Knowing you’re inevitably going to violently cough up a portion of your meal after you eat does wonders to diminish your appetite, I’m afraid.” Alastor raised an eyebrow in question, and I gave the specifics. “Owls often eat their prey whole, and whatever they have that their stomach cannot process instead gets regurgitated as pellets.”“Ah, and I assume this is that “digestive problem” you were speaking of when we were in the radio tower,” he mused.

As he walked further into town, I noticed other demons fleeing in terror at the mere sight of him. I knew they weren’t running from me because as far as they knew, I was an ordinary owl. The sound of carefree humming accompanied by old jazz created an ominous aura as denizens of Hell turned and fled when they caught sight of Alastor. It was the first time I was seeing for myself the fruits of my labor in terms of pushing the deer demon to the rank of Overlord. I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of frustration in my gut at the idea that I could’ve had this. This overwhelming power and unquestionable authority. I spent my afterlife hiding behind a fortress of fear. All of Hell feared me, and I feared them. But Alastor feared no one, and for good reason.

I didn’t even notice I was clenching the chain binding his soul until he reached up and pried my talon off of the green links. Luckily, the tether never physically manifested, but the look of annoyance he gave me made me realize I was anxiously tugging on it. I huffed with an apologetic look and dropped the chain, missing the contemplative look on his face.

I had some idea as to where we were going when Alastor began to head into a garden. I have never been in this area but I knew that the route he was taking was leading to Cannibal Town. This garden was surrounded by a canopy of branches and leaves, which explained why I have never been here. I had to admit that the scenery before us made me forget we were in Hell.

The natural light in this realm was blood red and death black, but this garden was bright like precious gemstones. Healthy green leaves next to ruby red roses surrounded the sidewalks, and beautiful trees stretched out into the sky, protecting the area from the ugly fire and brimstone of the world beyond. Golden light seeped through the branches and illuminated the beauty of the garden. Innocent benches and tall park lights gave the illusion that this place was a friendly paradise as opposed to eternal damnation.

Alastor’s amused chuckling broke me from my thoughts, and it was then that I realized my head was swiveling every which way to take in as much of the place as possible. The deer demon walked up to one of the bushes and delicately picked one of the flowers with his red claws. I couldn’t help but lean down slightly to get a better look at it, but to my surprise, the flower began to rapidly wilt. The display was a startling reminder as to where we truly were. As the petals turned sickly brown, it shattered the illusion of what little tranquility there was in Hell.

I could practically feel his smug and sad*stic grin behind me as I watched the flower die in his hand. He did this on purpose, and we both knew it. He saw my awed expression upon seeing the garden and was taking great delight in killing the peaceful aura for me. I hummed and walked over to Alastor’s other shoulder just in time to see him turn towards two other Sinners occupying the garden. But as soon as they saw him, they flinched back and fled before he could even raise his hand in greeting.

I tucked my wings in when the deer demon began to walk down the sidewalk again and out of the garden. But I did make a mental note of this location; I definitely wanted to come back here at some point again. But for right now, we were passing by the sign that welcomed new demons to Cannibal Town. And if that sign wasn’t enough of a tell as to the location, I caught sight of four locals eagerly devouring a pile of meat and bones on the ground. Alastor heartily waved to them a friendly wave, which the female demons happily returned, faces and hands drenched in blood.

I couldn’t help but notice the striking difference between demons in this area of the Pentagram and others in the rest of Hell. I never interacted with cannibals before, but from what I could see in this part of town, it seemed this place was much more orderly and friendly than the rest of the underworld. It was quite jarring to see.

“Give Rosie a hello from me!” Alastor cheerily said as he turned his back to walk past them, and I spotted the female cannibals visibly swooning. It caused the almost-forgotten feeling of disgust coil in my stomach. It was something I never understood about myself, but it was something that has always been present, even when I was alive. Well, it was more accurate to say this is the first time I’ve felt such a way since arriving here nearly fifty years ago. But I pushed those feelings aside when I saw the change of scenery.

I thought Alastor wanted to eat here in Cannibal Town, but as he kept walking, I realized he was heading to the other end of town. I stretched my wings out and took to the sky, and the deer demon barely even flinched when I flew off from his shoulder. I don’t usually stay still for so long, and I tried calming those twitchy nerves by moving from one of his shoulders to the other every once in a while, but now I just couldn’t sit still. I had to take to the sky before I found myself gripping the soul chains like a lifeline again.

I perched on one of the street lamps and let my wings ruffle with an uneasy chill. Being so close to the ground was making my feathers stand on end and my talons itch to grab something. I had forced my claws to pull back when I was sitting on Alastor’s shoulders out of worry about puncturing his tailcoat with my talons. But I knew I had to fly back down eventually. It must’ve already been seen as rude the way I took off the way I did after he had invited me to lunch.

I took a few more moments to regain my composure and calm my nerves before soaring back down to where he was on the sidewalk just in time to see more demons flee in terror from where he was standing. I waited for the gesture telling me it was okay for him to land before I once again perched on his shoulder. And as I tucked in my wings, I noticed Alastor glaring at the collection of bright blue screens honing in on him from behind the glass of a nearby store. The multiple television screens screaming with light and static throughout the now abandoned street began to illuminate a face. It was another Overlord, a newcomer to the circle of demon nobles and was quickly rising the ranks with his vast control of new technology.

The Television Demon, Vox.

Chapter 8: Chapter 8

Chapter Text

For several agonizing moments, the two powerful Overlords stared each other down. Two apex predators in the hierarchy of Hell prowling about and ready to leap into a furious battle at a moment’s notice, sizing each other up to determine if one or the other was a threat. I rolled my shoulders and prepared myself to take off again once I remembered I was damn near in the crossfire. But my slight shifting on his shoulder must’ve broken Alastor from his bloodthirsty stupor, and he turned and began walking away. Vox’s blood red eyes followed the deer demon like a hawk with the latter waving his hand dismissively, “Show off. All hat and no cattle!”

I forced myself to keep looking forwards because I knew glancing behind me to make sure Vox wasn’t following us would be seen as a sign of fear, which was unacceptable when it came to a battle between Overlords. As soon as Alastor rounded the corner, he began spitting insults about the Television Demon, his usual smile twisted into a grimace of anger. “Obnoxious… pompous… piece of sh*t television.”

It was rare to hear Alastor swear, so I knew that running into Vox immediately put him in a foul mood. I carefully brushed his cheek with my wing to get his attention, and when those crimson eyes fell on me, I flexed my talons, silently emphasizing the idea of killing the other Overlord. Vox has been growing in popularity and power much too quickly for either of our liking, and it wouldn’t be long before it would be near impossible to kill him even for me. I may have angelic weapons on my side, but at the end of the day, my physical capabilities were limited by my form. That thought stirred treacherous jealousy and frustration at my own weakness and vulnerability, but I once again buried it.

Alastor chuckled and shook his head, “I appreciate the offer, my dear. But Vox isn’t worth our time.” The deer demon spun his cane in his hand, and the irregular tune of jazz from his portable microphone began to play once again. “We have somewhere else to be. I believe I promised you a true meal, and I intend on delivering. But first…”

His blood red eyes fell on a nearby shop before he turned and began to walk towards it. I got to peek into the shop through the window to see a hog-like Sinner leaning over the counter with a bloody cleaver in his hand and yelling at what appeared to be a customer. I crept over to Alastor’s other shoulder as he opened the door to the shop, which caused the bell to ring and let the owner know that there was another customer, and I quickly double-checked to make sure my holy knife was sitting in the bottom pouch of my belt. I doubted the deer demon needed any sort of assistance with dealing with a violent Sinner, but being so close to the ground for so long had put me on edge. I decided to write these feelings off as simple animal instincts again and waited for the interaction to play out.

When the demon behind the counter caught sight of Alastor, he dropped the other demon he was threatening, which gave the latter ample time to scurry away. I looked around briefly to see bloody legs hanging off hooks from the ceiling as well as thinly-sliced meat sitting in the display case. Alastor casually walked up to the counter, and the butcher didn’t even dare to blink for fear of taking his eyes off the deer demon.

“Good day, sir!” Alastor merrily greeted the demon, and he unsurprisingly didn’t get a verbal response. “I caught sight of your sign out front, and I make it my business to try out every new neat shop that appears. You never know which one will end up being my favorite.” He began to skim the meat on display at the counter, momentarily turning away from the butcher, “Do you have any fresh venison? I do love a nice top sirloin, but I am partial to venison myself! Reminds me of simpler times…”

My emerald green eyes narrowed as I watched the butcher reach for the cleaver left forgotten on the counter. I discreetly tapped Alastor’s shoulder with a claw, to which the deer demon flicked an ear in the direction of the Sinner in time to hear the quiet scrape of metal as the blade was picked up.

I nearly jumped when Alastor then slammed his hands on the counter, his antlers branching out menacingly and his voice becoming more and more engulfed in ragged radio static. “And we all love to return to simpler times, do we not?

The hog-like Sinner started to sweat and visibly shrink behind the counter. “Y-Yes, sir… I, uh… I have some nice cuts… I can get for ya!”

As he scurried away, Alastor stood back up again. His sudden threatening demeanor vanished as if it was never there as he watched the butcher almost frantically search his shelves for knives. “Good man!” He reached a hand up to the owl perched on his shoulder and used a single red claw to scratch under my chin. I froze in sheer bewilderment and surprise before giving him an irritated look. He knew I couldn’t do anything to retaliate because I was under the guise of a normal owl, and the smug grin on his face told me that he was doing this on purpose.

“Make sure you get all that silver skin trimmed off! I want fresh meat, not bubble gum!” Alstor cheerfully remarked, and a laugh track played from his microphone as the butcher wrapped and meat. His hand was visibly shaking as he offered the bag to the deer demon. “Thank you kindly, my good sir!” Alastor sounded and acted to chipper all the time, and if I didn’t know any better, I would guess he was oblivious to his reputation.

I wasn’t blind. My flights around the Pentagram let me hear talk of current events from the residents. And one hot topic was the rise of the Radio Demon. I had been well established that I was the Radio Demon, but now I was being called the “previous” or the “first”. Because Alastor had a face and a name, Sinners and Overlords alike could attach that to the infamous moniker, and I was simply being seen as a second fiddle that hides behind the curtain. I will admit that the realization has caused a deep hit to my pride, but I had to justify it as a necessary move. It was far easier to move in the shadows, and with Alastor now taking the spotlight, people were focusing on him instead of this mysterious “First Radio Demon”.

“Oh! Pardon me!” the deer demon stepped aside as a lamb Sinner walked into the butcher shop. But before he could even turn the corner, I heard muffled screaming and shouting coming from inside the shop. I felt Alastor freeze in his tracks, ears attentively pointing to the window where I could see the hog Sinner grabbing the new customer by the throat as she screamed for help.

“Would you be a dear and hold this for me until I get back?” Alastor held the bag of meat up to me, and I took it more out of confusion than anything else. I took off from his shoulder and settled onto a nearby lamppost with the bag in one claw. I couldn't see what went on into the butcher shop once Alastor stepped back inside, but I felt a surge of power and then a howl of pain accompanied by what I could only describe as wet splats of blood and limbs falling onto the floor. A moment later, the deer demon walked out with a new bag, this one colored red and still dripping with freshly spilled blood.

The deer demon picked a strip of bleeding meat from the bag with red claws and mused to himself, “Not quite as tasty as venison. But, it will do.” Alastor tossed the piece into his mouth, his expression twisted into grim satisfaction. I had to guess that the butcher was what was in the bag he was carrying. Cannibals had a rather surprising moral compass, and I knew the deer demon was against harming women. I soared down from the lamppost and landed on his shoulder. Alastor took the bag I was carrying, and his microphone began to play music again. It was the same song as the one that was playing before we encountered Vox. The deer demon had the uncanny ability to ignore previous events, treating them as if they never happened.

“Thank you, my dear,” his voice had less layers of static attached to it, indicating he was in a much better mood than he was when the Television Demon appeared. “I do hope you have worked up an appetite during our walk around the Pentagram. It appears we have more food than I originally hoped.”

Chapter 9: Chapter 9

Notes:

manga only character jumpscare

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

When I jumped out the window to fly back to my territory, I had a lot to think about. But it wasn’t about strategy for once, which was a strange change. I couldn’t say it was a welcome change, as I was so accustomed to analyzing every situation with a tactical eye, so simply pondering my own thoughts was rather alien.

I landed on the ledge of a nearby building after checking the roof for any lingering demons or Hellborn fauna. I normally wouldn’t have problems chasing off the usual crow or cat, but I had just eaten. It’s been ages since I’ve eaten actual food. Over the years, I suppose I grew accustomed to rats and garbage in the streets. I never really took much notice of how far my standards have fallen until a plate of actual food was put in front of me for the first time since I died.

I had hopped onto Alastor’s shoulder when he was making food in his apartment to watch what he was doing. The meat from the hog demon was thrown in the fridge for later use while the venison bought in the shop was being used in the meal. I never cooked much in life, but my profession shared many similarities with the culinary arts, so I was relatively confident that I could make something decent if given the right ingredients.

I did not know what sort of dish he was making, but I spotted several seemingly random ingredients on the counter. I never understood why people added so much to their food. Meats like chicken were fine with just some fried batter or after it was put on a grill. I’ve never tried venison before, so I suppose I will just wait and see the end result. But slathering those tenderloin strips in olive oil, onion powder, salt, and black pepper just had to have killed its original flavor. My head co*cked to the side and narrowed my green eyes.

Alastor seemed to have noticed me giving the food an odd look because he had addressed me without taking his eye off the counter. “You look as though you’ve never learned how to cook, my dear. But quite frankly, with your current diet, I wouldn’t be surprised if you truly did not know your way around the kitchen.”

“I feel as though I can cook something if I so chose to.” I replied curtly. “I was something of a scientist when I was alive. And cooking seems to follow the same process. A mere application of a formula I had memorized decades ago.”

“Oh, but that’s where you’re wrong,” Alastor cheerfully replied. “Cooking is no science. It’s an art! There is no exact formula for a good home-cooked meal!”

I was pulled from my recent memories by a blood-red eye shot open from the ledge I was sitting on. I jumped slightly, but I then quickly righted myself with a few flaps of my wings. I noticed the presence of these eyes all throughout Hell, but I’ve never seen them do what this one was doing. I had always gotten the eerie feeling of being watched whenever I was in the line of sight of one of these things. However, they never moved, and I had to write off my unease as animal instincts, so I had to assume that these eyes and the wariness was a combination of the underworld’s odd taste in decoration and my own paranoia.

But this lone eye was indeed moving, and it was following me.

Y̷̤̣̼̖͇̞̗͈͖̰͍̩͓̣̥͛͐́̐̎̐̃͒͗Ǫ̷̛̳͎͈̳̮͇̙̌́̀͜͠͝Û̶̺͉̣̝̠͂̃̌͐̓̿̕ ̴͇̃̊̀̐̈̕͠P̶̛͉̘̪͆͐͌̐̔̋̕͝Ỏ̷̧͖̉͗̋̒̊̍͋͗͒͒Ỏ̵͕͗̀̚Ṟ̷̨͕̺͌̓̑̂͆̐̂̂̑̀̑̕͘ ̶̨̨̛̞̰͈̩̱͉̓̀́͆̊͂͂̕͘͜͝͠T̸̨͈̭̲̬̩̰̣̮̺̟̪̀̅͌͗͆̾͌̚͜͜͝H̵̫̼̤̼̘̮̓́͂̇́͊̀̂͗͂̎̾ͅḬ̶̛͍͍̯̥̬̦̉̈́̏̋̆͑̈́̊̀̓͜ͅͅǸ̵̜̝͓̖̮̺̌̊̓́͠͝G̴̡̡̬͚̞͎̼̣̬̈́̔̔̈́͛̍̃̀̓͘͠.

More eyes opened up, and every crimson gaze was fixated on me, surrounding me on all sides of the roof of the abandoned building.

L̴̨̩̖͙̅̈́̈͆́͛̂̒͆̔̓̃͝Ǒ̴̝̙͓̺̈͐̊̑̎͂͒̋̕͜Ơ̷̦͇͖̖̏̌̑̌K̴̼̦̤̺̓̈̔͒̃̈́́͠ͅ ̸̢̣̦̞̱̝̟͕͋͊̋̿̎̔͂͗̔͂̈́͘Ḩ̷̝̿̀̓̊̌͛͝O̸͔̖͍̔̋̈́͂̈̑̌͒̚W̵̢̝̮̭͓̜͎̜̣̫͓̭̞̾̾̏ͅ ̸̡̛͈̞̦͇̬͙͚͙̖̝̱̃́̈͗̍͛F̸̡͍̲̳͍͈̝͇̹͍̺͎̼͋̅̈̇͒͝͝Ä̷̢̡̛̛̛͉̰̋̄̽͋͂̌R̷̛̲̥̗͓̀͊̓̍͂̅͐̔͝͝ ̶̦̦͙̈̃͊́̏̈́̐̕Ý̶̖̏O̴̡̜̮̱̤͈͐̏̒͌̉͋͑̍͛̌͗̕͝U̸̢̨̞̩̮͕̠̦͙͇͓͗͆̏̐̆͗̔́͊́̕̕̚͝'̶͈̄͂̍̎V̶̳̞̼̫͍̝̣̯͐̂̇E̸̡̡͈͎̰̗̤̹͍̬̟͔̮͙̕ ̵͇͚͉̰̠̈́͑͝Ç̸̟͕͉̤̻̖͇͚̠̊Ọ̴̧̞̗̘̤̺̗̟͚͎͈̼͒̈̈͆̉͋̌͌̾͊̄̀ͅM̴̹̞͚̞͑̔̂̃̅̌̐̇͘Ę̸̩̙̠̮̱̟̇̔̎͋̓̚͝.̵̧̪̯̦̙̫̼̞̳͚͖̗͙̹̂͘͜

Shadows curled around the eyes and rose up from the ground in a journey unbound by gravity, and the overwhelming presence of something truly evil rose from the red bricks.

A̸̠̪̩̮̳͚̯̪̙̣̻͍̒̈́̚͜͜ͅN̵̛̛̫͕͑̆̐̓̿̄̏̀͂͑̕͘̕D̵̯̮͇͓̞̆͆͆́̀ͅ ̶̢̡̛̠̲̲̻͓̟̅́̍̈́́͑̄̿̆͂̽̇͝W̶̭̙͖̰͍͓͓̟̣͙̞̱̩̄̉̾͑̈́Ī̴̢̙̱͎̟̟͍͙̜̜̟̜̞̈͋̅̐̎̈́̀̚͝͝T̵̘̹̰͒̏͂̀̉͆͋̃̉H̶̢̻̳̩͎̮͔̩͐̑͒͐̃̍̂̔̀̕ ̸̫̈́̍̉͑͗͠S̵̭͍̱͕̫͔̆͋͆͝U̶̧͎̙͊͠C̶̛̣͈̤̫͓̺͓͙͉̆̇̅̓͐͆͊̑H̸̛̭͎̰̜̬̟̜̜͒̒͛̑̔ ̷̢͇̮̺̌̌͌̈́͝ͅL̸̳͌̄́͒̇Į̴̡͍͈̼̻̰̖̪̰̱̾͌T̴̠̭͎̲͖̙̻̔́͐̾̊̈́̅̉͛̕T̸͙͂̄L̴̝̩̦̻̱̩͌̐͆̈́̊͘͠Ȇ̴̡̛̙̦̊̒̇̈̕ ̶͇́P̶͙̻̪͈̓̈́Ö̶̟͚͖́̃́͌͌̏͠W̸̢͈̠͓̲̱͎͊Ȩ̷͇̦͎̖̪͈̠͎̎͆̋̏R̶̨̢͙̝̬̳̥̪̬͙̳̝͚̩̜̆̈̇͝͝.̶̹̒͌̄́͝͠

Bone white needle-like teeth emerged from the shadows, blood-red eyes piercing my very soul as this eldritch aura pressed down onto the ledge like a stack of dead trees.

I̴̖͐̂ͅ ̴̧̢͕͚̻̘͕̩͖͕̹͌͊̈́̿͗͌̈̈͗͂͆̓͐͜͠ͅC̶͔̲̳͍͕͎̪̝̉͂̈́̽͜A̷͖̝̙͔̦̞͍̖̱͙̜̎͐͂͜ͅṄ̵̟̻͚̜̌̓̀̄̈́͋͂͒͐͘͠͝ ̸͎̘̥̱̏͆͂̀͆͊̿̅͘͘̚Ȑ̵̲͉͙̮̫̓̂̈́̒̐̊̈́̑͌Ĕ̵̲̙̬̱̈́̇̆̿̎̏̉̀͆̚C̶͙̝͖̻̗͙̞̰͊̑͋͒͂͒́̓̓̎Ţ̷̙̥̗͎͙̲̖͇͇̳͖̫̑͌̌͐̓̋͆̇͗͝ͅͅI̴̖̭̩̺͍̣̙̣͖̬̋͛̒͗ͅͅḞ̴̧̭͔̯̠̖̻̰̦̪̻̈́̓̔͐ͅY̶̛͖̳̐́̑̔̐͒̔̏͒͋̉̕̕͠ ̵̣̍̄̀̄̂̀̎̀̓̃͒̈́̓͘͠T̷̗̗̠̰̤͖̻͖̅̊̈́̊̉͊̀̋̚H̴̡̧͇͔̱̯̹͂̌̇̃̈́̏̐̈̍̊͘͝Ā̵̩̙̳͈̜̟̰̦̳̝͉̯͍͎̈́̄̐̌̊̀̂͑̄̏̈͘̕̕ͅT̷͚͈̭̰͕̰̗͕̳̗͎̜̻̥̅̌͛̾̒̇̚ͅ ̵̢̛̥̞̪͇͖̙̖̥͛̉̅͆̈́͛͘͠I̵̼̥̦̼͚͈͚̤̋̓̈̈́͊̊̓̅̅̄͌͊͊̚͘N̶̨͖̼̯̞̲̥̣̺̪̦͕̍̔̂̈ͅJ̵̨̰͇̰̝̻̲̍͌̈́̒̍̿͂ͅU̴̧̥̯̞͛̃̈́̓̎̒̿̌̽̀S̵̉͗̾̀̊͊̽̋̈́ͅͅṮ̴̹̼̜̩̩͇͎͈̘̞͛̌̐̓͘͜I̵̛̦̼̙̟͎̩̣̓͊́͑̂̾Ć̶͙͍̮̤̫̙̹̅̾͐E̴̪̝̤̻̘͎̰͌͗̀̓̿́̌̚͜͝ ̸̢̧̛̦͓̩̝͉͕͓͌͌͊̏͛̃͂͋̐̃̽͠͝F̸̨̨̙͚̖̤̫͙͔̼͝͝O̴̢̺̬̦̙̤̖͈̲͇̖̎̇͒̿͌͂͌͌͘Ŗ̸̙͉̯̮̫͎͍̠̜̪͆̎́́̆̌̆̏͗̚ ̵͔̲̻̮̾̓̆̕͠ͅÝ̵̐͂̒̊͐̈̐͆̃̾͛̕̚͜͝O̸̗͎͙͍̣̅͆̆̒̓͂͒͠Ứ̴͙̬̫͔̪̼̱̜̌͌͂͑̒̔͜͝.̴̜̣̖̋̊̑̽̅̓͛̄̒̀̄͑͠͝

It felt like thousands or even millions of malicious spirits had their eyes on me, and it made me feel impossibly small.

Y̵̢̨̠̩̗̱̖͙̜͕̫͙͈͔̓̌ͅÖ̴͕͉̰͙̻͚̲͍ͅƯ̷̡̮̝̍̔̐̌̽̽̀͌̕̕͠͝͝ ̷̡̛̻̳̮̩͇̣͍̻̐̿̍͌̄̅͋̐̇̓̐̕̚͘Ḩ̴͓̖͇͓͍͍̺͈͌̒̌̔̈́́̈́ͅͅẠ̸̺̐͐͌͝V̵̧̡̨̛̫̙̺̫͍͚̯̫͍̈̌̉̈͌̆̈́͌̉̇͝E̷̙̫̘̟͙̮͇͓̣̩͑͆̑̎̆͘͜ ̶̥̟͙̣͓͉̙̯͊̍͛̈́͒̒̍́̀̅̎̉͝͠Ơ̸͍̣͎̺͖͙̿̊̾̃̃͂N̴̗͕͕̩͙̒͗̅̑Ĺ̷̡̛̩̯̗̤̍͆́̂͑̓̑͑̌̇͠͠͝Y̸̥̺̮̹̫̲̱̥͗́̅͊͋̈́͂́́͊͊̐͝ ̷̧͖͈͙̝̞̻̗̫̼̑̕ͅS̸̡̛̯͋̐̓̎̿̓̓̈̿C̴͇̰̑̌́̽́͂̕̕R̵̡͖͇̪̙̘̭̠̙̗͙̎A̶̢̠̹̗̔T̵̢̘̼͉͙̖̱̖̗͕̹̞̯̮́̏̾̓̔̀́̇̐C̶̞̱̝̔̆̾̋̅͐̋̿̔͂̃̈́͛̇͝Ḩ̶̪͍̓̈́́̈̉̎̊͘E̴̛̛͎̭̤̬̦͎̱̲͋̽̂̑̾̈̆D̵̢̩̦̟̈̓̅͑̋́̊̓̄͌̑ ̵̛͎͍͔̪̦́̀͌͝T̶͉̮̣̗̖̪̮̹̘̟̼͉̳̤̅̍͐̋̐͐̊̄͜H̶͖̬̻̞̦̻͚͔̑̏̋͋̆̏Ȩ̴̱͋͗̉̏̽̎̄̊̈́͋ ̷̛͉̗̅̓͋̕Ŝ̵͖̘̰̻̓̌̈̉̏̋̋̉̔́̑͝͝Ȕ̸̦̲̈́̊̃́̋̆̇̑̿͘̕Ŗ̶̧̛̦̜̃͋͗̾̋̀̐͊̔̀̍͝͝F̶̢̢̟̻̤͍̠̥͓̭͙̱̉̒͆Ä̸̱̝̞̬̘͈͎̣̙̍̅̆̓̿̇̏̄̃̚͝͠C̴̨̡̙̺̮͎̘̞̺͈̯͈̻͙̦̾̀̊̃̔͋̒̒̎̔͛̕͝Ȇ̵͎̿̅̈́̓́̄ ̷̜͙̗̫̯͍̯̮̖̾̓̀̌̅̓Ơ̷̘̟̼͓̝͈̲̝̰̗̦̣̭̹̿̌̈͝ͅF̷̛͎͔̈́͑̈̒͛́́̓̽͛́̏͑͘ ̸͖͉̙̙̑̃̄Ỹ̴̼̥͓̝̳̟̞̳͙̋͂͌̄̑O̶̹͕̤̖̹͗̔̈́̈͊́̋̚Ṳ̷̑͊̂̐͂͛̈́͂͐̚͘R̵̢̨̩̥̦̦̟̹͕̅̾͋̉͌͜ͅ ̸͙̺̫̟̜̖͓̞̯̰̝̍̄͊͘P̶̢̘̝͔̘̗̩̈́̈́̓̓̂͋́̕͠O̴̖̙̬͈͓̼͚̙͕̲̿̂ͅT̷̥̗͆̉̀͋̎̄͗̇̈́̚Ḛ̶͚̮̙̩̪͌͑̈͋̌͜N̵̝͖̲̳̹͕̟͗̑̋̐͌̀̒͒̊̋̾̑̅͝T̴̥̟͓̑͑͒͛́̄̂͌̓̿̎̐͘I̷̢̠̼͖̗̞̻̮̪̖̪̣͍̰̘͑̇͑͒̈́̂̅̓̍̉̿̄̃͘͠Ȁ̵̺̯̟̺̬̞͔̗̞̦̩̖̈́͗̏̒̃͑̓̌̌̀̏̓̅͜L̸̤͎̝͓̬̺̮̼̖͈͗͑.̶̡̮͖̭̱͉̝̘͈̭͎̪̞̙͂̿͌̈́̒̊̆͑

This creature was offering me power. Just as much, perhaps even more so than what Alastor had. I had to admit that it was tempting. The treacherous jealousy that pooled in my stomach whenever he would flex his power was bitter, but I had tolerated it.

“I appreciate the offer, but I must decline,” I replied innocently, trying so very desperately to mask the complete and total fear that was coursing through my veins at that very moment. “I’ve never needed a Sinner’s power, and I’m not going to start now. Besides, I can’t have myself indebted to you, now can I?”

The thing laughed, the sound a supernatural hissing and gurgling that made my feathers stand on end.

S̶̡̻̤̰͖̼͍̪̳̪͙̦̠̤̯̈́͊̅͂͒̂U̷̡̅͆̇C̵̜͈͎̬̣͎͓̤̗͋̍̃͋Ḩ̶̧̛̟͔̬̒͒̉̄̀̊ ̵̛͖͔̩̬̰̜̦͎̘̈́͊͋̐̓̕͜Ȃ̵̢̢̭̟̝͕̘̻͓͙͕̟͎̀͂͆̀̏͆̄̿͠͝ͅ ̷̢̠͎̤̟͓̖͌̿͊̓͌̓̇́̉͝͝S̴͕̗̑̅̈́̍̏̚͠͝H̶̡̧̧̛̳̠͙͇̃̆͂͑̀͊͌̚Ǎ̵͎̫͇̰̣̮̰͇̜̋͋̔̔̀͌̑̉͑̄̑̽̓͘ͅͅM̸̟̝͑͌̋̓̀̔̒̓̕Ë̷̻̤̬́̒̋͋̐̄̈́̇̐̀̿́̔̒͠.̴̹̜̝̹̟̲̓̀̆̒͛̾́̀͠͝ ̵͎̏͂͐͐͊̈́͌̓͛̊͋̌̈̚Ḅ̵̢̢̘̳̹̣̖͕͕̟̓͗͐̓̀̀͊̌Ŭ̶̢͍̳͚̟̼͔̔̆͑͋̎̅͝T̸̮̩͙̠͖̙̣̤̙͇̋͊̑̂̾̈͒̐̀̎̓̕ ̴̨̧̛̯̥̮͎̳̲͓̙̮͈͒̊́̓̄̒̈́̚Ĭ̵̢̛͓͎̩̬̼̹͔̆̃̃͑̌̀͛ͅ ̷̨̡̫̠̬̞̲̥̫̻̩̦̰̇̽͑̓̉̎͊̓̚̕̕W̶̛͕͚͎͍̘̲̱̓͋̃͗͆̌̂͛̋͛̎̐̚͘I̸̱̝͙̻̍̇̌̓͑̈́̽̐Ḽ̸̛̰̻̏́̈́͠͠L̶̛͓͖͎̦͉̮̅̓̃̉͑ ̵̡̧͇̝̠͙͋͆̿͗̊̎̅͗ͅK̷̢͎̥̪͚̥̬̞̼̗̠̹̩͌́̓̀̒̍̌̈́̂̂͗͊͘̚Ę̶̨̼̬͚̤̥̝̘̥̆̔̒͊͒̔̀̏̌́͝͠Ȩ̶̦͓̮̼̼̠̙̽͋̎̄̒͛̋ͅP̴͕͇̲̿͠ ̵̡̛̛̳͙͕͇̪͙͋͌̀͂͌̌̃̍ͅT̴͉̈́̓̓̇̈͂̃́̽̈͘͝H̷̺̏̂E̴̛͉͗̎̈́͗̇̄̇̌̃́́̑͘ ̸͇̯̫̯͌͗̾͒̈́̈́́̏̇̚͠D̷͙̩͍͕̦̠̞͙̬̳͂̿́́̏̒̓̕Ȏ̷̤̲̫̖̄͗͊̎͋́̎̍̋̀̚̕͠Ô̷̧͉̗̫̖͔̱̳͇̟̣̹̏̈͋̔̀̀͘͝R̴̢͎͓̱̗̣͕̰̖͖͂̾͐̎̒̄̄̎́̎ ̸̥̻̩̘͊̈́͋͑̌̚͜͠O̵̢̨̞̤̼̱̠̗̘͉̟͛̉̿̈̃̇̅͘͝͝P̶̧̤̦͍͖͍͕̬͐͌̾Ȇ̴̢̯̠͎͎̰̟̓̀͜Ǹ̶̩̬̭̚ ̷̟̤̗͋͆̈̂̅̾͠͝F̴̢̡͍̼̘̣̹̑̽̔̈̈͆͂̉Ơ̸̫̞̖̟̆͐̓̈͗̑́͘͘͝R̵̢͔̱͔̼͚̱̘̗̠̬̝͋̓̇̈́͑́͜͝ ̵̧̟̙͕̱̟̬͇̘̥̲̰̤̻̈́ͅY̴̳͔̲͓̲͎̳̊͛̈́̔͆̂͝O̷͂̀̏́̓̓̂̽͆ͅƯ̷̞̝͓̗͔̝̳͑́͒̕͝.̴̲̤̻̠̦̬͌̈́̓ ̷̲̮̜͉̞͓̦̥̈́͊̾͌́͘Į̴̲͚͈̯͙̙͕̺̀͊̔̓̎̑͛̑͛͂̈́̂̕͘̕ͅŢ̵̮̱͖̩͚̣̹͚̑̔ ̷͍̭͇̗̥̯̖͉̳̣͚̪̗͔͛W̵̗̥̣͚̖͈͕̝͑̈̀͜͝Ọ̶̝̣̖̝̼͈̪̘̺͔͓̃̎̽̊̐̃͒̏̄́́̓̿̚͜Ų̷̛̤̜̺͈̼̣̙͓̄̃̎̀͌̾̓͜͠L̸̢̜̯̥̲̙̻͙̺̳͔͎̰̆Ḑ̷̟̫̥̙̓́̏̂̏͌̚ͅ ̷̢̢̢̞͓͇̯̳̹̍̉͗̽B̴̡̲̗̖͙̗̥̬͚̞͑̀̏Ę̷͙̝̦̩̙̻̫̫̣͔̺̼͚͚͛͝ ̶̱̲̬̩̳̜̗̱̍̀̂̌̎̌̂̈́̋̽̿̾̆͗͘W̷̙̯̓̓̽͝A̷̺̝̦̖̭̼̐̀͛̓̀̈̓͗͒̎͐͋̊̕̕S̷̛͔̯̲͍̲̫̜̫̤͕͑̈͑͘T̶̢͕̺̼͉̥͍͇͕̊̈́̔̂̒̾̒̆̂͊̿̚͜E̴͖̙̼̟̰͍̺͔̱͍͈̖̙̋̌ͅF̸̨͕̹̩̯͇̭̼̤̫̲͑̍͗͆͂͛̒̈́̀͑́̕͝͠U̶̦͕̓̚ͅL̵̛̛͕̞̺̖̙̗̺͕͚̊̌̽ ̴͓̘̟̪̺̣̱̖̱̳́̍̆̂ͅF̷̨̢̲͚̹̱̭̤̞̈͜O̵̡̫̘̞̗̮̩̯̗͓͇͙̿͑̅̿̾͒̾̎̈̏̈́̽̑͘R̷̡͂̓̐͑́͋̽̍́̀̈́ ̶̢̢̢̪̹̘͔͙͎̪͛̈́̀̔͌̿A̸̢͇̝̤͈͗̐̇͑͝ ̴̻̟̔̔̇̆̎͘B̶̻͕̳̞͎̈̄̓̊͗̃͝Ŭ̵̡͔͕͎̳̟͓̰͙̘̯̈́͛́̊͑͘D̴̢̳̠̬͚̺͇͓̔͊̐͌̃͌Ḑ̸̡̬̪͉̳̤̹̩͇̂̐̈͌̈̇͗͑̃̔̔̑͑͘͝I̸̡̢̢̛̲̟̣͈͈͕̥̜͖͛͂́̀̒͝͝Ņ̸̛̜̙̭̤͕͎̖̰̟̇̌͊̈́̑́͋͘͜͠G̶̥͈͌͛̆͗͘ ̸̨̭̟̬̣͆̈́̊T̸̠̻͉̻̹̪̼͉̫̟̬̘̞̔͌͊̈́̆Ã̶͖͚̪̺L̶̛͓͎̥̬̗̻͖̱̩̜̬̥̞̙̒E̵̲̩̤̞̩̘͚̤͍̦͉͒̓̿̏͘ͅṊ̴̨̼̯̪̬͇̟͖̹̝̝͗̅͐̃̈́͛̕T̵̢̩̖̲̖̪̳̯̲͈̩͠ ̸̘̊̀̈́̏͝L̸̡̳̠̻̍̐͑̒̈́̂̉͗̒͂́̎I̷̠͔̟̝̬̦͉̬̣͒͌̋͋̍́͊̊̾̆̈́͝͝K̷̨̮̣̭̹̆̈́͆̓̏̓̇́E̵̜͓̖͎̹͋̇͛̾̓́̈̊̽̆́͝ ̴̨͍͚̄̄̀̈́̊̓́̀͌̐̅Y̵̧̜̬̹̗͚̍ͅO̷̡̞͇̫͎̯̳̹̥̪̪͛̈́̆̌́̃Ú̷̟̹̥͙͛̅͜R̸̡̛̪̞̣͇̮̤̥͈̦̯̼͕͎͐̽̋͑̚͜S̸̟͔̱̮̦͕̞̯̬̹̤͈̬͖͈͛͑̒̍͆̈́̿͆̾͑̍͝͠͝Ḛ̷̰̔̚͜͠L̴̡̢̨̹̜̖̥̤̺̮͛̊̄̇͋̍́̈́͑̔̑̕͜͜͝F̸̧̺͚̺͉̭̞͔̃ͅ ̴̧̮̻̮͇̟̤͖̮̘͓̲͔̬̋Ť̷̨̡͎̗̹͖͖̿̀͑͌͐̓̂̅̿̚͝Ȍ̴̜̰̼̺̳̜͎̟͔̪̙̘̯̈̍̏̀͝ ̴̨̮̜̥̬̲̙͓̺͍̜͍͗̊́̒D̴̮͇͍̦̱̝̻̠̓Ị̵̡̨̜͓̩͔̮̖̺̻͙̐̌̈́̿́͗̂͐̌̈́̇͜͝ͅÈ̷̯͋̈́͗̏̊̚ ̶̧̟̝̪̪̘͕̖͑̈́̂̔͆̋̔͝ͅS̸̭͐͋O̵̡͇͚̗͈͕̫̪͕͔̹̾̄̚ ̴͈̹̭͈̐̽́́̅͑̇͆̓́̚ͅȨ̸͔̳̤̰͇̮̙̜̖̯̣̫͕̻̽̾̀̏̀́͘Ȃ̶̻̯͛̆̄̉͗̓͌̎̏̅͠Ŕ̷̡̪͓̩̙̟̘̇̐͑̕͝Ḷ̷̡͔̻̹͕̣̔Ỳ̴̢̫̼̥̱̆̈́̋͑̓̽͑.̸̯͕̣̜̅͑̕

The eye vanished, and the unholy pressure disrupting the usual chaos and disorder of Hell continued as if it had never been there. It took me a few moments to move again. With a tentative step forwards, I shook my wings out and began to preen my feathers, a nervous tick I had picked up on. That was by far one of the strangest things that has ever happened to me here In Hell. I scanned the surrounding area with a quick glance and then felt a chill run down my spine at the sight of all those red eyes now staring straight at me. Normally, they would just be pointing in a random direction, but now, all eyes were on me. It was a uniquely chilling experience when I paired it with the memories of the unusual encounter with that unknown creature.

With a silent sigh, I hopped back onto the ledge and prepared to fly back to my territory, but then everything was enveloped in black. I let out a shriek and flailed around as a worn bag was thrown over my body. I clawed at the material with my talons and threw my wings around my head in an instinctual attempt to protect my skull as the bag that was holding me captive was swung around.Through my screeching and struggling, I heard several gruff voices cackling and bickering amongst themselves.

“Ha! Got the little f*cker!”

“Careful with the merchandise! Vox says he don’t want a scratch on the chicken!”

“Why the f*ck does the big man want this thing anyway?”

“Who the hell cares? Vox is payin’ ya to kidnap a pigeon, not ask questions!”

I froze for a moment, and in that moment, my mind started to race as I righted myself in the bag. Did I hear them say Vox? As in the Television Demon, Vox? What the hell could he want with me?

I couldn’t help but replay the last encounter I had with him. Alastor and the other Overlord were staring each other down, and I had to guess that in that moment, Vox had the absurd idea that I was worth something to Alastor. That was my only guess as to why he would send goons to capture me. And if that guess was correct, then I was royally f*cked.

Vox probably thought Alastor would pay a pretty penny to get me back because the owl sitting on the Radio Demon’s shoulder was supposedly his pet bird. Maybe he thought killing me would cause some sort of anguish in the Alastor for seeing his animal companion die by his rival's hand. But I knew the deer demon would be more than willing to le me perish because of our Soul Contract. He wasn’t going to rescue me, that much I was certain about.

That just meant I had to figure out how to take down Vox on my own.

Notes:

ive never used this font before so heres the funny text if you cant read it:
YOU POOR THING
LOOK HOW FAR YOU'VE COME
AND WITH SO LITTLE POWER
I CAN RECTIFY THAT INJUSTICE FOR YOU
YOU HAVE ONLY SCRATCHED THE SURFACE OF YOU POTENTIAL
SUCH A SHAME. BUT I WILL KEEP THE DOOR OPEN FOR YOU. IT WOULD BE A WASTEFUL FOR A BUDDING TALENT LIKE YOURSELF TO DIE SO EARLY

Chapter 10: Chapter 10

Chapter Text

I huffed and rubbed my face with my wing. The cage I was being kept in was honestly overkill, but I had to respect the contingencies. Electric bars and two locks; more than enough for a regular owl, but I was not ordinary and I was going to prove it to them when I got the chance.

But I had to admit it was difficult to focus because of the two Overlords in the room having a spat about what to do with the random owl in the room.

“Listen, Vox, I made a policy of not judging other peoples’ kinks, but bringing in an animal is weird, even for me,” a tall, moth-like Sinner raised a brow behind rose-tinted glasses before taking a drag from his cigarette.

I didn’t appreciate what he was insinuating, and based on the Television Demon’s sudden glitching, neither did Vox, “Shut your f*cking face! Not everything is about sex!”

“Then what is it about?” Valentino replied dryly as he turned away, no longer interested in the conversation because it wasn’t relating to something sexual.

“This thing right here is Alastor’s pet,” Vox latched onto the bars off the cage I was in with bright blue claws, making the sparks of electricity surge around the two of us. I let out an angry screech and tucked in my wings to avoid getting zapped. “That radio f*cker is going to give us back the territory he stole last week if he wants to see his damned bird again!”

“Not everything is about the Radio Demon,” the lust Overlord threw Vox’s words right back at him with an amused smile in his tone.

“f*ck off, Val. Let me do my thing!” was the Television Demon’s snippy reply.So this was about the turf war Vox lost against Alastor last week. After the most recent Extermination, the land at the edge of the Television Demon’s territory was lacking goons to run it, and it was evident by the decreasing amount of patrols. The Radio Demon had walked into the tower that day looking to be in an extremely good mood, practically skipping into the studio. And it was after the broadcast ended did I realize that Alastor stole roughly twelve blocks of territory from his rival.

But I had to admit that even from an outside perspective, kidnapping me to use as ransom against Alastor was a stupid idea. Even a soul the deer demon owned would’ve made more sense to capture over his supposed “pet owl”. If (and there was no f*cking way he would) Alastor folded and gave back the territory he stole from Vox in exchange for my return, then other Overlords would see me as an exploitable weakness. On top of that, Vox would just look like a fool for trying to leverage the Radio Demon’s pet of all things against him. So I knew that the Television Demon was almost certainly going to send this ransom video to Alastor and Alastor only.

This whole plan was flawed and desperate, and everyone in the room knew it. I tapped my talons against the perch I was on in thought. I had little confidence I could get out of this cage by myself. Whether I liked it or not, my physical form was very limited, which was why I needed Alastor on a leash in the first place. But that thought made me freeze. A plan began to form inside my head.

Vox was surely going to send the deer demon a video of me being in a cage to prove that he indeed had me prisoner. The Television Demon was all about video, so I could use that to send a message to Alastor without Vox picking up on it. But knowing Alastor, he wasn’t even going to watch it because of his hatred for the “noisy picture box”. But he might listen to it out of sad*stic glee if nothing else.

I could send a message telling Alastor to rescue me. The Soul Contract between the two of us did keep him on a tight leash, and he would have to follow my order because of it. But my damnable pride immediately threw that option away. I knew that flexing my power over him in a situation like this would only emphasize my desperation to get out of here, and he would surely lose any sort of respect for me, and that could lead to him trying harder to break the Contract.

I had to send him a message through Vox’s ransom tape without the Television Demon knowing, and I needed the message to not directly be an order. And whatever I wanted to say had to be delivered through whatever gloating Vox was going to do throughout the video. I narrowed my eyes.

I was pulled from my scheming at the sound of Vox clearing his throat. I spotted one of his many screens being pulled forwards, and I could see the reflection of the video he was going to take as the camera began rolling. As predicted, Vox began to gloat about how he had Alastor’s “precious pet bird”, and he started his speech about how he was offended at how the Radio Demon stole territory from him and that he wanted it back by the end of the hour or else he would skin me.

But as soon as the video started, I began moving around on the perch in the cage. My talons started tapping the metal under my feet as I made a show of looking around for a possible escape in the electric cage.

Scratch…

Tap, tap, tap, scratch…

Tap, tap, scratch…

Tap, tap, tap…

Tap…

Tap, tap, tap…

Tap, scratch, tap…

Tap, scratch…

Scratch, tap, tap…

Tap, tap…

Scratch, scratch, scratch…

Tap, scratch, scratch…

Tap, scratch…

Tap, tap, tap, scratch…

Tap…

Tap, tap, tap…

Alastor was howling with laughter in the studio. He knew Vox was pathetic, but this was certainly a new and unique low. Kidnapping his “pet bird” in an attempt to get him to give back the territory he claimed a few days ago was hilarious. He couldn’t stop replaying the tape Vox had sent him, listening to how desperate and angry Vox sounded as he rattled off his demands.

This was honestly the best case scenario for him. Killing the owl would free him of his Soul Contract, and Vox made himself look like a buffoon with such outrageous declarations. Alastor was more than content to let the hour go by without doing anything and then play the recording through his broadcast just to reveal how pathetic the Television Demon truly was.

The owl was a decent companion and, if he was being honest with himself, not the worst demon he could’ve sold his soul to. It has been almost thirty years they’ve been working together in the studio, and in all that time, the owl had never given Alastor a direct order through their Contract. She had given him suggestions, but they were innocent propositions that both of them benefitted from.

He had gained power and glory beyond his wildest dreams here in the Underworld, and the only drawback was the barely noticeable presence of the chain wrapped around his soul. It annoyed him more than he thought it should, the thought of being at someone’s beck and call. There were times the owl tapped on the links or pulled the chain, but Alastor honestly believed they were accidents done in a moment of fear or anxiety.

He wasn’t blind. He knew that she made the deal with him to secure her own safety. That much was evident by the way she stayed so close to him and looked around with a prey’s eye when they left the studio together. She was powerful, that much was obvious, but her power was strictly from a tactical standpoint. The owl was a strategist, and a damn good one. But she didn’t have the raw power other Overlords had, and it seemed to be impossible for her to get that power through means other Overlords did. That was why she built Alastor up so much and why she didn’t do it to herself.

Alastor’s ears twitched when he finally noticed a pattern in the audio from Vox’s ransom video. Under his gloating and fuming, the Radio Demon could hear methodical tapping from the owl as she seemingly turned around and inspected the cage she was in.

Now that he was tuning Vox’s obnoxious voice out, he could clearly hear deliberate tapping and scratching coming from the owl. It was clearly morse code, and he was not surprised the Television Demon was not picking up on it over the sound of his pretentious gloating. Alastor did not know morse code, but he could find out easily enough. If he had to guess, the owl was probably demanding him to break her out of Vox’s prison or to give the TV prick back the territory he stole for her freedom.

An absolute absurd order, but as he tapped the table with his claws in thought, an idea struck him. The owl didn’t strike Alastor as the desperate type. She was methodical, clever, devious… Her planning and calculations were the reason he was able to rise to power, after all. And if she was smart enough to be able to send Alastor a coded message through the ransom video, then the deer would bet his bottom dollar that this message was anything but a cry for help. He told himself it was morbid curiosity that possessed him to decode the message she sent him. And when he finally read the message aloud to himself after writing it down on a spare newspaper sitting on the corner table, Alastor crushed the pen he was holding with sharpened red claws.

A surge of excitement coursed through his body as he stood up. His antlers branched out, and his grin widened enough to show his gums. The burst of sudden energy made the lights in his studio to flicker and fade, his bones cracking as distorting as his body stretched and grew in size. The knobs of the radios kept in the tower began to move by themselves, now broadcasting screams, laughter, and distorted syllables that created a cacophony of demonic music.

Alastor was now acutely aware of the presence of the vine-like chains woven through his antlers like leaves in the trees, the thorny links digging into his skin and becoming heavy around his throat and wrists. Pure, unadulterated bloodlust and sad*stic joy surged through him as every block surrounding the studio began to glitch and malfunction, radios and television screens alike broadcasting a shrill wendigo’s roar.

W̶̛͙̖̙͋͋̐͗̓͑͑͐̅͝ ̸̢̲͈̖̠̫͓͔̺́͑̓͗͝ê̴͚̋̋͗̆̃̈́͌͐͂̓̒ ̵͕̪͕̰̯̹̌̄̐͛̓̾̈́͂͘͜͜͝l̷̖͙͓̘̤̳̫̝̥̖̗͗̈́̓̓̊̏͆͆̐̾̕ ̵̢̠̌͋͗̽͗̈́̄͘͝l̸̨̩̯͙̄̌̒́̏͝ ̶̡̡͔̮̩̯̪͙̤͉̟̝͈͆̽ ̷̨̛̘͙̫̪͖̼̝̼̗̼̈́̾̌p̴̨̱̓͂̔͊̀͠͝ ̴̝̤̻͍̥̖̯͍͗̾͗̎̑͂́̍͋͆͘͝͝ͅl̷̢̺̇̿̈́̀͊̌̀͘ ̸̢̖̞̣̯͒͋̃͊͗̋͗͒̐́͝á̵̲̣̫͒̇̃̾̅̒̍͛̏̐̊̚ ̴̤̗̳̼̘̭̫̝̙̰͕͂͑̑́̆̑̐̚͝͝͠ẏ̶͚͓̱̜̜̺͖̳̦̮͉͇͉ ̵̨͕͎̲̗̹̥̳̳̋͛̿̒͑͒̅̀̈́ͅe̸̢̤̬̫̯͕͍̋͗͆̄̌̓͌̓͑͒̓̆͝ ̸̰͎̇̐̃͐̂̑d̸̢̩̻̤̘͉͉̞̞̤̃̂̈̓̒̋̅̿̒̀̒̉͝

Chapter 11: Chapter 11

Chapter Text

“TV USES RADIO WAVES”. That was the message I sent to Alastor through the ransom video. Almost half an hour went by with no updates, and I was starting to wish I had a book to read or something. But I had to make due with people watching. And by people watching I meant watching Vox and Valentino try and fail to keep control of the situation. They kept going back and forth with each other about how much he Television Demon despised the Radio Demon, or in Valentino’s words: “had a raging hate boner for the guy”, with Vox trying to justify himself on why he decided to hire thugs to kidnap a bird in the first place.

I had to assume that those thugs are either bound into silence by a Soul Contract, or they’re dead now. I don’t think Vox would be too pleased to have such information out on the street. But then again, the Television Demon didn’t appear to be the sharpest tool in the shed. I doubt he had any self-destruct feature on the video he sent Alastor because I know for a fact that the deer was going to use it to humiliate his rival later.

But speaking of Alastor, I wasn’t too worried about him possibly ignoring my message. But I knew that if he indeed got the message, then he would break me out of this prison, directly or indirectly I didn’t know, but I didn’t think it mattered too much.

I was pulled from my thoughts when the speakers in the room began to blare a harsh shriek, and every demon in the room frantically clapped their claws over their ears in an attempt to drown out the noise. The sound was a blood curdling cry that rattled the windows and made the lights swell and then burst as the energy being poured into them was too much for the outlets to handle.

Bright red light erupted in the room, and the silhouette of antlers stretching out across the collection of screens on the wall cast a shadow across the penthouse. I grinned when I realized Alastor was finally making his move. In the next instant, all the power in the room went out, aside from the television screens on the wall that were all glitching and screaming with a demon’s roar.

I quickly undid the latches of the lock on my cage and jumped out. Vox and Valentino didn’t seem to notice as I flew through the room and to the window. In my brief moment of looking through the glass, I saw that the entirety of Pentagram City was having a similar power outage. Every store and window in Hell with a television or radio were howling and glitching as Alastor channeled his power through the new medium for the first time.

I knew that he wanted absolutely nothing to do with modern technology, which is why he and Vox never got along, so I had to guess that he never knew that television was only possible through radio, which he had complete control over. I knew that if this was pointed out to him, then the deer would be itching to use it against Vox at the earliest opportunity possible.

I unlocked the window and jumped out into the chaos of black and red, making a beeline to the studio. I knew that messing with the media outlets in the Pentagram was a tall order, even for Alastor, so he had to be where his power was at its peak. And sure enough, when I got to the tower, I saw the deer demon through the window.

This wasn’t the first time I had seen Alastor in a bloodthirsty craze, but it was still intimidating. He could barely fit inside the room, and his antlers were close to puncturing the ceiling of the studio. I knew better than to go inside while he was going on a rampage, so I settled against the wall and watched the fireworks as I stewed in my thoughts.

Since it took Alastor so long to respond to my message, I knew that he was either ignoring it first, or didn’t notice it until much later. I got lucky because I had the opportunity to send him a coded message, but next time I might not get such a chance. Whenever I wanted Alastor to do something, I had to offer some sort of incentive, and that could only be done if I had contact with him. The feeling of a chain from a Soul Contract got weaker as distance between the two demons grew, so I couldn’t send an order from Vox’s penthouse to Alastor to break me out. And even if I could send a message through the chain, I didn’t want to simply order him around like a servant. He was a safety net, not a slave, and I had to find some way to reinforce that to him.

I turned my head to see him still grinning wolfishly as he controlled the chaos running rampant through Hell like a musician orchestrating a song of death and destruction. He obviously took immense satisfaction and joy in causing misery and watching others suffer because of that misery.

But that thought gave me an idea. I watched as an explosion erupted into the red sky from a random street, and I then gently tapped the chain that bound my soul to his. My talon barely made the links move, but the vibrations that rippled through the chain were noticeable. I felt Alastor freeze but otherwise did not retaliate. He was forbidden from causing me harm through our Contract, and he knew it. And he was in too good of a mood to give me grief about touching the chain.

For the next few hours, I would periodically tap the crocodile green links every other time a scream of pain or a roar of rage pierced the red sky. I was hoping Alastor was interpreting my touching at the chain as a reminder of who was at what end of the leash instead of what I was truly planning. It was a long game but had a worthy prize if I managed to pull it off.

And several more hours went by before Alastor finally ran out of steam. When the light of the “On Air” sign above the studio finally flickered off, I opened the window and walked inside to see Alstor sitting on the chair, leaning back with his legs sitting carelessly on the control console. He was genuinely slouching in his seat, which was something I never thought I would see from someone as composed as him. I suppose wreaking havoc throughout Pentagram City for nearly three hours straight would tire anyone out, even Alastor.

“Did you get everything out of your system?” I asked him as if he was a child who just got done throwing a temper tantrum. Alastor blearily opened a single scarlet eye as I flew over to the coffee machine. He had the same kind of coffee everyday, so I was more than familiar with how he liked it.

“I believe so, my dear,” he replied dismissively as I set the mug down on the console in front of him. I hopped over onto my perch, admittedly not quite sure what to do now. I supposed that the only thing to do would be to continue with the daily grind. I heard the deer demon take a rather hefty swig from the cup of still steaming hot coffee as I hopped from the control console over to the table by the window where my books were.

“How was your day? Mine was absolutely delightful!” Alastor pushed himself up in his chair, grinning smugly. I knew very well that he was going to lord over the fact that I had been captured by his rival and that he had to directly sabotage Vox’s tower to break me out. He didn’t know how to get out of his Contract with me, and I knew he absolutely loathed being at someone’s beck and call, so he had picked up on the habit of flexing his power in matters I was involved with. He knew that I was incapable of wielding an Overlord’s power, so that was really the only thing he could use against me at this point.

“I can only imagine,” I replied tonelessly.

“I must apologize for cutting your little vacation short,” his voice was anything but apologetic. “I hear the Media District of the Pentagram is rather nice this time of year.”

“Well, I’m glad you got my postcard, then,” I replied almost haughtily. “The parties are decent, but we both know that you are the true life of any party, my friend.”

“Oh, it was simply too tempting to pass up,” Alastor almost cackled as he once again replayed the memories of his short rampage throughout Vox’s territory.

“And what was stopping you from simply letting Vox kill me and then exploiting his weakness after I was dead so you could wreak havoc as a free man?” At my rather blunt words, I heard a record scratch as Alastor jolted, his entire body stiffening and expression shifting to realization and alarm.

He had been so fixated on now knowing a way to attack Vox that he didn’t stop to think about what he could truly do with this information and when to use it. I had a contingency in place in case he came to the thought of simply letting Vox kill me, but it didn’t have to come to that. However, I needed to hammer the point home that I was the one in control.

“It is rather lucky that the power of Vox’s tower went out before the hour was over,” I kept talking, my expression turning devious. “I was afraid that I might have had to tell Vox about our Soul Contract to keep me alive.”

The pressure in the room increased tenfold as Alastor’s eyes turned to bright red dials. He knew a threat when he heard it, and he could now understand my game once I not so subtly spelled it out to him. I managed to send him a coded message through a ransom video and had gotten Alastor to go on the attack and provide an opportunity for me to escape because the information regarding the Television Demon’s weakness was far too tempting for the Radio Demon to not take advantage of. There was the factor of simply me knowing Vox’s weakness at all and questioning how long I had known, along with taking into consideration the fact that I kept the secret close to my chest until the right moment to use it to my advantage. On top of that, I had a contingency in place in case Alastor did not take the bait.

In a flurry of black and green feathers, I flew up to him and latched onto the lapels of his suit with my talons. I didn’t know if it was shock or incredulousness that made Alastor lean back in his chair, but I took advantage of it and towered over him as my wings flared out. My tone nor my expression was intimidating, but I made sure my words were piercing. “You’re a smart man, Alastor, so you should know when you’re not the smartest in the room. You underestimated me, which is something you will not be doing again, is that understood, my deer?”

I threw the nickname Alastor used back at him and emphasized the words in the double entendre to highlight the reality of our relationship. His soul belonged to me. He belonged to me. And he knew he was a deer on a leash made of thorns but decorated with rose petals.

Alastor’s strained smile twisted into a grimace. He hissed a reply through clenched teeth, his scarlet eyes blazing with barely contained rage and frustration. “...Understood.”

Chapter 12: Chapter 12

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Vox lost almost half of his territory after his little stunt a few months ago. Whenever Alastor walked past television screens, some of them would glitch out or even explode with rage. The deer demon now had access to any and all of Vox’s media outlets thanks to the owl’s information she gave him when she was captured. It was truly a humbling moment when he stretched his power too thin for the first time as he channeled his magic through the television screens.

Athena was her name. At least, that’s the name she introduced herself with after a decade or so of working in the radio tower with her. Alastor was slightly surprised when his boss told him her name. He knew that she wanted to hide behind the moniker of Radio Demon as much as possible, so telling anyone a name she could be associated with was out of character for her. It just made the deer demon stop to wonder why she had told him. She was always three moves ahead, so it was possible that he was bound to secrecy and simply didn’t tell him.

Athena never brought up the specifics of their Soul Contract, so Alastor did not know what he was and was not permitted to do. If he were to speak her name to another Sinner when the Contract forbade him from saying it, then it was possible the chains would make themselves known to keep him quiet. And it would then reveal that he of all demons was on a leash. It would destroy his reputation entirely. Not to mention Vox will never let him hear the end of it. So Alastor never spoke her name in public.

As much as he hated to admit it, the owl made him feel small. Which was ironic because he was easily ten times heavier than her, but the damned insecurity that clawed at his heart like ice fangs came from moments where she showed just how intelligent she was. Her great escape plan was enough of a power flex, but then she took it a few hundred steps further by revealing just how he had played right into her talons and then she declared that he was going to go on another killing spree after he recovered.

Alastor had no interest in following her orders any time soon, but that blasted bird pitched her demands to him in a way that made him want it, too. What really infuriated him was the way she had the ability to make him do what she wanted without giving him a direct order through their Contract. He didn’t know why she never used the chains around his throat. Did she find it distasteful? Did she just want to assert her power over him in the only way she could? They both knew that he was more raw power than her so the only way she could assert dominance was showing him how inelligent she was.

Alastor never knew what she was thinking, and it was maddening. Any other demon he could read like a book. Correctly predicting your opponent’s moves ensured you knew how to counter them, and it allowed you to control the battlefield.

And Alastor was all about control. But the one holding his leash was the one person he couldn’t control, and he hated it. Worse, she was controlling him. And Athena was doing so in multiple different layers. Every time she wanted something from him, she didn’t have to use the leash, but the option was alway there for her to fall back on. Every time she gave him a command, it felt like another link was added to his chain, but he just couldn’t stop. Athena knew how to play him like a fiddle and make him dance to her tune, and he hated it.

When she told him that she wanted him to go on another controlled rampage after he recovered, and as much as he wanted to as well, he wanted even more to say no just to spite her. But then that f*cking owl had told him, “Other Overlords are encroaching on your territory after your little tantrum in Vox’s district. They think you’re too worn out to do anything about it.”

He knew that she was insinuating that other demons were seeing him as vulnerable and were looking for any weak points at the edge of his territory to exploit. And that was unacceptable to him. The owl knew, she f*cking knew, that Alastor absolutely despised to be seen as weak, and, damn it all, she was right. Other gangs were trying to take chunks of his territory, and that would not stand.

Athena then planned a strategy to cripple the other Overlords bordering his territory, and Alastor had to carry it out like an attack dog. He knew he could’ve refused her strategy and gone out on his own, but after his rampage in Vox’s territory, he was weakened and they both knew it. Alastor had to cause as much damage to the surrounding territory as efficiently as possible, and she created a plan to do just that.

But then the fallout to such carnage was delicious. The Overlords that Alastor had attacked and even some who were not went then after Vox. They were angry that Vox had antagonized Alastor because the Radio Demon was now taking it out on all of them, and it wasn’t until he saw the satisfied grin on Athena’s face did Alastor realize that this was the outcome she wanted. She wanted the other Overlords to stop trying to take the Radio Demon’s territory, but she was mostly threatened by Vox because he was Alastor’s biggest competition. So she turned all of her enemies against each other with the Television Demon taking the most damage. He refused to admit that it had scared him. The amount of layers in her devious plans was mind boggling.

Alastor walked back to his apartment with barely contained rage. Anyone having such control over him was unacceptable, but even he had to admit that he was impressed at just how strategic his boss was. He felt a twinge of treacherous pride at the thought of being owned by such a clever little thing, but he instantly crushed the feeling with a surge of fury. If he was to be at someone’s beck and call, he had to admit that being leashed by this owl was better than being in an unbreakable Contract with a brain dead Sinner. It at least gave him an air of dignity among the denizens of Hell because he was seen as one of the most powerful Overlords in history.

Alastor collapsed onto an armchair in his apartment with a tired sigh. He allowed himself to break character for a moment and rubbed his eyes with red claws. He was getting a headache, and the soreness in his muscles from pushing his magic past its limit was only adding to the growing migraine. He tightly closed his eyes with an irritated hiss, his ears pressing back against his throbbing skull in an attempt to block out the fading light peeking through his curtains as the day began to end.

He needed to do something to take his mind off things. He needed to get away from Athena for a few hours. Or a few days or even a few weeks. The chain around his soul was digging into him, always reminding him of its presence, and the sensation was making his skin crawl uncomfortably. The night was still young, but Alastor felt rather exhausted. He didn’t think he could even get up to make the journey to his bed, so he sighed and let his cane lean onto the small table next to the armchair before leaning his head back and letting his eyes slide shut.

Chapter 13: Chapter 13

Chapter Text

Several more months went by after the incident with Vox. I will admit that it was rather awkward for the next few days following the kidnapping event between Alastor and I because I could sense his animosity whenever we were in the general vicinity of each other. I decided to give him some space to cool off, and it did gradually improve his mood. But I ended up returning to occasionally shadowing him during his walks around the Pentagram.

There were times the deer demon caused carnage and there were times his very presence made others flee in panic. I made sure to continue what I started when he first went on a rampage from the radio tower. Every time some poor unfortunate soul displayed fear or pain in his line of sight, I would tap the chain binding his soul.

Alastor gave me irritated looks at first. But when I returned his unamused expression with a devious smirk, he learned to not react to me touching the links anymore. He thought I was reminding him of the Contract’s presence every time his reputation of being a feared Overlord made itself known through the shrieks and expressions of fear directed his way on the streets. He thought I was reminding him that all of this prestige, power, and respect he had was because of me. He thought I was just trying to get a reaction out of him, so he stopped reacting. But him not reacting was exactly what I wanted. This was certainly a long game that would take years or even decades to pull off correctly, but it would absolutely be worth it in the long run.

I folded my wings when I saw Alastor going to Cannibal Town again. This was usually the point where I took off to do my own thing because rarely did he cause any carnage in this area, so there was not much reason for me to be here. And once the deer demon realized I was leaving him alone once he made it to Cannibal Town, he began frequenting the place more. It was no problem to me; I was not his minder.

But today it seemed like I wasn’t going to escape without notice. The Overlord of this district, a finely dressed woman named Rosie, decided to meet Alastor at the edge of the town. She cherrily greeted the deer demon, and I couldn’t help but tilt my head. I knew Alastor was a regular visitor to this area of the Pentagram, but I didn’t know he was friends with the Overlord.

I expected them to simply greet each other and head into town, so I quickly preened my wings before crouching down to get ready to take off. But I was interrupted by Rosie’s voice calling out, “And where do you think you’re going, young lady?” I was stunned to see her staring straight at me (or at least I thought so, her eyes were completely black).

I leaned back on the lamppost I was sitting on when both Rosie and Alastor fixed their gazes on me. “That’s right, I’m speaking to you. Why don’t you come down so we can talk?” Rosie put her hands on her hips and kept going like a mother telling her child to come inside for supper. I couldn’t quite keep the incredulous look off my face. How did she know I was not just a normal owl? Did Alastor tell her? The two seemed rather close. But the puzzled expression on the deer demon’s face told me otherwise.

I cautiously soared down from my spot on the lamppost, and Rosie then raised her arm for me to settle on. “Well, aren’t you pretty? I have never in my afterlife seen such shine on a Sinner’s feathers. Oh, where are my manners? My name is Rosie, and what is yours, sweety?”

I blinked owlishly at her. My mind would usually go a million miles a minute, but right now it felt frozen.

With a stutter, I eventually made words form in my mess of a mind. “Uh… I uhh… I apologize. My name is Athena. It is a pleasure to meet you.” I’ve never had to introduce myself to anyone before. At least not since I became stuck in this form a little over sixty years ago. I spread my wings and bowed slightly, still trying not to feel awkward on Rosie’s arm.

“Oh, we might need to work on your etiquette, deary,” Rosie then spun on her heel to start walking into Cannibal Town, and I had to clutch onto her arm slightly as I was swung around. “Now, I don’t think it’s any fault of your own. You seem to be out of practice. Why don’t you join us for dinner? I had cleared my schedule for the three of us to talk.”

I couldn’t stop myself from turning my head to see Alastor reluctantly start following Rosie into town as the Overlord kept cheerfully chatting away. But the last sentence Rosie spoke caught my attention. Did she deliberately plan to meet Alastor at the edge of the district just so she could catch me before I could fly away? And I had to ask myself how she knew I was a Sinner in the first place and not just some wild animal.

“You must be Alastor’s esteemed co-host he has told me so much about!” Rosie continued gushing, and I tried to pay attention as my mind finally decided to stop moving in slow motion. “All good things, I assure you. But, oh! You probably don’t want to talk out here, why don’t we head over to my emporium? I promise there will be no prying eyes.”

I once again turned my head to glance at Alastor, but he refused to acknowledge my gaze. I simply rolled my eyes and hopped onto the female Overlord’s shoulder. I had to duck slightly because of her giant sun hat, but it wasn’t a too uncomfortable perch.

And when we got to the building she was speaking of, I saw that the room itself was full of wandering cannibals, and the walls were lined with body parts. Some were still bleeding and thrown carelessly in boxes behind service counters while others were decorated and put into displays. If the emporium wasn’t so lively, I would say the decor of this room alone was something straight out of a horror movie.

Rosie greeted some of the other demons in the emporium while making a beeline to a room in the back behind a counter. There were three chairs in this new room separated by a standard coffee table, and Rosie immediately took one. I watched as Alastor sat down in one of the other chairs, and I awkwardly hopped off the cannibal Overlord’s shoulder and perched onto the arm of the last chair and ruffled my wings.

“Come now, what has happened between you two? There is obviously some animosity here, anyone can see that,” Rosie began as she placed her hands on her lap.

I tilted my head at her, still slightly dumbfounded. Was she trying to set up a therapy session or something? “Alastor doesn’t want anyone to know,” I replied. I then spotted the deer in my peripheral vision glaring daggers at me for putting him on the spot like that.

I expected Rosie to demand details, but instead she just waved her hand dismissively, “Well, if he doesn’t want anyone to know, then I won’t pry. But Alastor, doesn’t it mean anything to you that Athena is keeping your secret?”

I felt him stiffen beside me for a moment before saying anything. Alastor obviously didn’t want to play along to whatever game Rosie was playing. “I’m sure she has her reasons for not telling anyone.” I awkwardly began preening my feathers; this entire conversation was making me rather twitchy.

“Well, maybe her reason is that she genuinely cares about you,” Rosie replied, and I heard Alastor scoff, his grin twisting darkly. “You two have been working together for… how many years? Roughly forty, I’m guessing? I remember listening to you two on the 66.6 Radio Show. The way you two would share friendly banter while on the air always put a smile on my face. It brings me great joy to know that there is someone out there who can make dear old Alastor happy.”

I gave Rosie a dry look, and she seemed to have picked up on my thought process because she waved her hands with a small chuckle, “Oh, come now. I may be a matchmaker, but I know that what you two have is nothing like what my clients are looking for. I just want to help clear the air so you can go back to being my favorite Radio Demon duo again.”

I tapped my talons against the armchair I was perched on in thought. Rosie didn’t know the specifics of our relationship, that much was obvious. But she was clearly sincere in her intentions.

I never gave Alastor the exact details about our Contract, and I didn’t intend to. If he knew the wording on the scroll, then he would try to find some loophole to get out of it. And I knew that as soon as he was freed, he was going to kill me. He was someone who longed for control and absolutely despised the fact that he didn’t have control over his own soul. I didn’t have to tell Alastor the specifics of the Contract, but I could at least set some compromises so he felt at least a little in control because I knew it meant so much to him.

“Could you give us some time to ourselves?” I asked Rosie as I hopped onto the coffee table in front of Alastor. The Cannibal Overlord smiled before getting up and leaving the room without hesitation. As soon as the door was closed, I turned back to the deer demon. “Alastor. Have I ever given you a direct order through our Contract?”

He narrowed his crimson eyes but didn’t respond.

“No, I haven’t. And quite frankly, I don’t plan to. I didn’t buy your soul to use you as a slave, I made that deal with you because I needed a safety net. You’re smart, I’m sure you’ve pieced it together by now.”

“You can’t gain any power from the demons you’ve killed,” he replied, his red claws tapping the microphone on his cane. “That’s why you need me.”

“Right. And I’ll have you know that there are next to no restrictions on the Soul Contract. You are not allowed to hurt me, and I can give you specific orders you are obligated to follow. And the latter is something that I only plan on using as a last resort. Never in that Contract does it state I have control of where you go, what you do, or anything of the sort. You have more control over yourself than you realize. I just wanted you to know that.”

Alastor hummed under his breath, studying me with a predator’s eye. His expression was unreadable, but the radio static buzzing in the background increased in volume and intensity. “Hmm. I suppose you are not the worst demon to work for. You are mindful of my boundaries and have offered your assistance to me in the times I have needed it. As much as I loathe to admit it, I respect you. You’re certainly the most cunning and devious demon I’ve ever met.”

Alastor raised his arm as an invitation, and I hopped off the table and onto the offered forearm. “But if I am going to be this “safety net” as you call it, I must insist you have some sort of indicator that you are under my protection. We do not want a repeat of Vox’s tantrum.”

I chuckled as he stood up, and I climbed up Alastor’s arm to sit on his shoulder. I will not admit to myself that I had missed the deer demon’s company, but I will admit that we both left the emporium in much better spirits.

Chapter 14: Chapter 14

Chapter Text

I flew into the radio tower that day wearing jewelry for the first time since I died. I usually had a satchel around my shoulders that I used to hold an angelic blade in case of emergencies as well as use it to store food or newspaper. But what Alastor said to me when we were in Rosie’s Emporium made me think. I had plenty of old blacksmithing equipment and a lot of angelic weapons stashed in the abandoned apartments in my territory.

There were a few demons who eventually decided to try their luck and move into my land. Some of them I allowed in, but the apartment complex sitting below my radio station was completely off limits because it was where I lived and where I was hiding my weapons. It was Alastor who had convinced me to let the denizens of the Pentagram move back into my territory, but I would not let them anywhere near the radio tower, which he readily agreed.

I had used the angelic steel in the knife I carry as well as other blades from my vast collection to forge a necklace. When Alastor saw it for the first time, I thought he was going to choke on his coffee. Hanging around my neck was a silver amulet the shape of a deer’s skull, and long antlers branched out to around my shoulders where a cuban link chain wrapped around my neck and held it up. The necklace also had tiny red rubies in place of the eyes. I could use this amulet as a weapon if need be. By holding the skull with a talon, I could use the sharp antlers like spiked brass knuckles.

“Hmm,” Alastor narrowed his eyes with a hum before pointing to me while I was still next to the window. “What have you got there, my dear?”

I hopped onto my perch at the control console and dropped today’s daily paper in front of the deer demon, “The newspaper.”

Alastor’s eyes narrowed, and I had to suppress a snicker. That toothy smile never left his face, so all of his expression comes from his eyes and very rarely his ears. Other demons seemed to think that the tufts on the deer demon’s head were chunks of his hair because he never moved them when in public. But once in a blue moon, I would see them flick in irritation or press down against his head in anger or swivel around in alarm.

“I have to ask you to stay here in the studio after this morning’s broadcast because there is something I need to speak to you about,” Alastor ignored my comment, not wanting to get side tracked. I simply shrugged and started to set up. But once the daily radio show was over, I flew over to the file cabinet in the corner to drop off the daily paper.

“Ah, yes! I believe I requested a word with you, my dear,” Alastor piped up from his chair sitting next to the console. “I have a few questions for you. Do you mind if I pick your brain for a moment?”

I hummed and turned to face him, ruffling my wings as I did so. “Hm? Alright, shoot.”

The red X on the deer demon’s head lit up like a blinking light at my choice of words for a moment before he composed himself again. “I’m afraid I’m rather unfamiliar with the financial state of our beloved studio. Would you mind filling me in?”

I hummed and tapped the wood beneath my feet. I arrived in Hell a mere three or four years before the Golden Age of Radio began. And since I had killed every other Overlord associated with radio, I made all of the profit for the entirety of that era. A mere fraction of a fraction of that money went into paying Alastor a more than generous amount as a salary. Both of us were rather wealthy because of this, and I was confident I had enough to run the studio for several millennia before I could go bankrupt. And that was excluding money being made during those thousands of years.

I was not concerned about the financial state of the studio, far from it. I didn't have to worry about rent, utilities, or groceries either. I owned both the radio tower and the apartment complex attached to it, and I ate mostly Hellborn animals. At least, demonic rats and crows would be my meals until Alastor catches me and then bribes me with something actually edible.

I had more money than I knew what to do with, but that just made me think about how mundane my afterlife had become. Of course Hell would be a place that requires you to get a job and pay taxes and bills, but I knew people had fun in the streets, too. I never got that chance because I was no normal Sinner. I’ve been down here for over fifty years, and during that time, I hadn’t accomplished much, actually. There were the first few years where I had massive success after killing off the other Overlords when I first manifested in Hell, but ever since then, every single day has been the same routine. I had acquired billions in the Golden Age of Radio, and I never spent a single dime of it aside from that coffee machine and Alastor’s mug that I had bought decades ago.

“Are you short on money?” I asked the deer demon. I knew that I paid him more than a fair salary, but then again, I had no business knowing what he did with that money, so he could be financially struggling for all I know.

“Oh, heavens no,” Alastor waved a hand. “I am simply curious. But what I am more curious about is the fact that you are simply not flying higher anymore!”I raised an eyebrow at him to silently bid that he elaborate.

“When I first heard tale of your title, I was mesmerized by the story of a Sinner becoming one of the most powerful beings in all of Hell overnight. And when I met you, you turned me into one of the most powerful beings in all of Hell overnight!” I think I knew where Alastor was going with this little speech, but I didn’t interrupt him. It’s been a while since I’ve seen him with such passion. “But as of late, you’ve been rather… relaxed. Not quite as ambitious as when I first met you. Such a shame, seeing all that power and potential go to waste~”

I sighed and leaned back on the console as I thought about his words. In a way, he was right. I was getting bored lately from simply going through every day the same way for years, decades. It really puts things into perspective in a sense. A lifetime in the afterlife was unusually similar to a lifetime while still alive. Hell has such things like jobs, currency, taxes, payments. It was Earth but for eternity. And I did not want to do the same things over and over again until the end of time. I loved my job, but at the end of the day, it was still a job.

“Hmm. An interesting point,” I took a few steps around on the table, my talons tapping at the aging wood. “But why are you not taking those steps to reach greater heights?” I already knew the answer, but I wanted to hear it from him. I knew that Alastor was simply not interested in any sort of power struggle against other Overlords. It was why he didn’t directly interfere with Vox’s broadcasts even though he had every chance and ability to do so. The feud between the two of them was just much too fun for him.

The main reason as to why Alastor and Vox never got along wasn’t only because of a war between radio and television, it was a pure clash of personalities. Vox was someone who craved power and attention so much so that he would do anything to get it. But then there’s Alastor, who just doesn’t care about what Vox deems as important. His motivation comes from the things that entertain him, regardless of whether doing so advances him in the hierarchy of Hell. He simply does what he loves and knows he’s good at it. Whereas Vox was always pursuing the next step in technology in the pursuit of being the strongest and most influential Overlord in the underworld.

Alastor was content with where he was in terms of power, but he knew I wasn’t. And truth be told, I don’t think I truly realized it until he pointed it out to me. When I first arrived in Hell, I rose to the title of Overlord out of necessity for my survival and my survival only. At least, that’s what I had told myself. But I could easily have just continued on with my afterlife pretending to be an owl. No other demon has ever paid me much mind, and not even the Exorcists bothered with me when they came down to kill once a year. But I was not content with that fate, and Alastor knew it.

I chuckled and gave him a devious expression. I knew he was playing me, but he was right. Was this how he felt whenever I had used that same trick on him? It was so very obvious that he was telling me things because he knew that I would act on them. He had his own ulterior motives, but the problem was that I couldn't pinpoint what those motives were. However, I couldn’t wait to find out.

“Ah, it seems you make a good point,” I straightened my back with a grin to match his. “It seems I have gotten slightly idle over the decades. But if I do expand my empire, what would you get out of it?”

“Oh, isn’t the answer obvious, darling? Absolutely magnificent entertainment! I simply wish to see you fly again! It was always such a thrill to watch you work.” Alastor spun his cane in his hand before leaning on it, his grin damn near splitting his face.

I let out a bark of laughter as a surge of excitement I hadn’t felt in decades coursed through my veins. I flew over to the window and looked out the glass pane to the city below. I tapped my talons against the metal, my mind racing with possibilities. I threw one last smirk over my shoulder at Alastor before leaping out into Hell’s blood red sky.

Chapter 15: Chapter 15

Chapter Text

I was nothing short of ecstatic after leaving the radio tower after the morning broadcast. It took me a few moments of thinking to determine what my next course of action would be. If I was going to expand my empire, then I would need to branch out from radio. Alastor and I were at the very top of that industry, so my only option was to go after something that in some way supports radio or be supported by radio. And that narrowed my choices significantly.

Ever since television rose to power, radio has been on the decline, so the majority of entertainment was carried by the new industry. I circled the Pentagram for a few hours before settling onto the roof of a skyscraper to brainstorm. Perhaps I was going about this all wrong. I decided to shift my focus to alternative forms of entertainment that were around before television. The most obvious answer was radio, but I knew people did other things for fun besides listen to music at their homes. And when I finally spotted the building, the pieces all started falling into place.

The sign plastered onto the roof of the establishment was bright with flashing gold lights, the strings of bright bulbs twisting into arrows that pointed to the entrance as well as drawing the features of a grinning cat with a top hat. Above the building, those lights spelled the name of the establishment: Jackpot Hotel, and the sign of a casino attached to it was bright bold lettering as well.

I personally have never been to a casino, even when I was alive, but I knew that they have been around far longer than even radio. And I have heard that they make serious money even today, and that was very impressive. This place was a timeless form of entertainment, so I don’t think Alastor would throw too much of a fit if I were to get my hands on the industry. The deer demon famously hated all forms of technology beyond his time in the living realm.

Owning the casino industry was an idea, but I didn’t know if it was a good idea just yet. I had to know what goes on in one of these establishments before I could make any permanent decisions. But the problem was that I didn’t exactly have a good chance of getting into one to actually get a feel of the atmosphere and accurately gauge its potential as a business investment. I could call Alastor to scope the area, but I didn’t want to completely rely on him.

I hummed and decided to come back later. Casinos don’t typically lit up until late hours of the night, so it would be best to scope the area when the place is at its peak rush hour. But in the meantime, I needed to find a way to get into the building in the first place. If I was going to play a more active role in Hell’s hierarchy, then I needed a face. I sighed and leaned back onto the wall behind me as the familiarity of the situation hit me. This was the exact same thought process that led to me making that deal with Alastor in the first place.

I had needed a face and a name to attach to the Radio Demon moniker, and Alastor was the one to fill that role. And to be honest with myself, I rather enjoyed staying in the shadows. I could seize control of the casino industry without revealing myself to Hell. It would just be slightly trickier to pull it off, but I knew it was possible.

And so, several hours later, I decided to sneak in through a window and sit above the lights to monitor the place. This establishment was rather popular, and it showed through the variety of games played as well as the stacks of chips and cash sitting on tables between Sinners. But there was one Sinner who caught my eye. A black and white cat-like demon with red feathered wings decorated in poker symbols was sitting at one of the various tables, looking absolutely miserable.

He was dressed in a black suit with gold cuffs, and I couldn’t help but feel that this Sinner was the Overlord of this casino. The sign at the entrance depicted a grinning cat with a top hat in glowing gold lights, and it seemed to match the aesthetic of this Sinner. But watching another demon smugly swipe the chips off the table and into his bucket before walking away gave me the sneaking suspicion that this Overlord was on a losing streak.

I knew next to nothing about casinos and the people who frequent it. I was never one for games played in places like this such as poker and baccarat because it relied so heavily on luck. You were forced to place your faith in the hands of chance, and that lack of control bothered me. I know that it took a considerable amount of skill to be a successful gambler, but it also took an absurd amount of luck as well.

This Overlord appeared to be down on his luck. It would certainly explain the rundown state of this casino. I watched him stumble to the bar in the corner of the casino and throw down some money for a bottle of booze. My mind raced with possibilities as I pondered about what I could do with this information. If a demon is desperate, they’ll be more likely to make Soul Contracts with others to get them out of their terrible situation. I was fairly certain that I had more than enough money to pay off any sort of debt he had gathered. I doubt it would be too much of a hit in my bank account because his casino was still open, so he hasn’t filed for bankruptcy and he hasn’t had his casino taken from him through a Soul Contract. But it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

I watched the activities within the casino for a few more hours before seeing the demon get up from the bar and drag himself to the emergency exit in the back of the building. I flew up to the window I came from and slipped out to see the cat-like Sinner lean against the wall of the alley and slide down to the ground littered in garbage and waste. A truly pathetic sight for an Overlord.

I decided to stick to the shadows when I finally spoke. I still didn’t want the information about my real form getting out. If this Sinner did not take my offer, then I didn’t want him to know what I am. I could slit his throat with my angelic blade, but that was a last resort. “How sad is this?” I saw his ears perk up in alarm, and he stood up fast enough to make him stumble slightly as the sudden movement made his head spin. “Overlord of the once great Jackpot Casino wallowing in self-pity in the back of a disgusting alleyway.”

“Who the f*ck are you?” The cat-like demon’s voice was comically gruff for his appearance. He put a paw on the dirty red bricks to keep his balance as he scanned the alley for the source of the voice. But the echo is such a narrow backstreet made it difficult to pinpoint. “Whatever the hell you are, you better quit wastin’ my time.”

“Oh, on the contrary. I believe the deal I am proposing is very worth your time,” I silently soared over to another ledge in the alley to keep my exact location vague. “You appear to be down on your luck, my friend. Racked up quite a debt over the years, have you?”

The Overlord scowled, “So you want to make a deal with me? Fat f*ckin’ chance. You better get off my property before I have you shot.”

“How rude,” I replied with an air of mock offense. “You haven’t even heard the terms of this deal. Why not hear me out? What have you left to lose? Hm. Actually, scratch that last question. You have a lot to lose. Your casino, your power, your soul, and that’s just to name a few.”

“Quit beatin’ around the damn bush already, f*ckhead!” The Sinner snapped, clearly in a foul mood. “What do you want?!”

“Oh, I am very glad to hear you are willing to hear me out. I’ll keep this short. You are very clearly in debt, and I happen to have some extra cash that I am willing to part with for the right price.”

The cat-like Sinner narrowed his eyes in thought. His face scrunched up, his expression clearly conveying that he was struggling to put more than a few coherent thoughts together because of how tipsy he was. “Bet you’re some punk minor Overlord who thinks she can bribe me into a Soul Contract.”

“You wound me,” I replied with faint amusem*nt. His comment made me realize just how irrelevant I had become in Hell over the years. But to be honest, I wasn’t too bothered by it. I knew what I was capable of, and it was much easier to stay in the shadows. “I am not just any Overlord. I don’t indiscriminately gather sad, pathetic souls. I know what souls I want.”

“Hn. And I’m bettin’ you want mine?”

“Your words, not mine!” I chirped. “How much money do you owe?”

“Hn… two million,” the Overlord replied with a grumble.

“Ha! Is that all?” I guffawed, and the cat-like Sinner snarled, his lips curling up in irritation. “I’ll tell you what. Twenty million. That’s the price I’m proposing. It should be more than enough to pay off your debt and get you back on your feet, yes?”

The other demon gaped, and I had to hold back a snort at his dumbstruck expression. His tail twitched, and he swallowed heavily, now seriously considering the offer. “... Who are you…?” He figured that the demon he was talking to had to be a high-ranked Sinner to casually throw that kind of money around.

“I’ll tell you my name if you accept my terms,” I finally flew down from where I was hiding to land on a dumpster in front of him. I grinned darkly and flared my wings out. Dark green chains sprung out of the ground like plants, thorns and thistles scraping the ground and slashing at the dirty red bricks lining the alleyway. My magic surged as a Soul Contract was about to be made. “Do we have a deal, Husk?

Chapter 16: Chapter 16

Chapter Text

Husk grunted as he sat down in the swiveling chair in his office. When he woke up that morning, the memory of last night’s events had hit him like a freight train. The Overlord had experimentally tugged at the feeling of a chain wrapped around his neck, and he sighed dejectedly upon realizing that it wasn’t just some f*cked up dream.

After he shook the wing of the weird owl in the alleyway, she had flown off, presumably to give Husk some time to sober up and collect his thoughts. He was not worried about her not paying up; the Contract between the two of them made her obligated to bring him the money. And Husk just had to assume that she was going to go more into detail about the deal when she brings what he’s owed.

And the Overlord was right. No later than six hours passed before the black owl crept into his casino through a window before appearing in his office, carrying a large gym bag. Cold, hard, cash. His favorite thing, second only to a bottle of strong whiskey. He wanted to rip the bag out of her claws and shoo her away, but the owl deliberately tugged at the chain around his neck in warning.

“Rather rude, aren’t you?” the owl grinned at him, and Husk slouched back in his chair with a grumble. “It’s awfully apparent to me that you are unfamiliar with the term “manners”, so let me be the first to introduce myself. My name is Athena. Pleasure to be meeting you.”

Husk harrumphed indignantly as he rubbed his throat, “Hn. Well forgive me, boss. I ain’t exactly wantin’ to play nice with the prick who bought my soul when I was wasted an’ broke.”

“You were aware enough,” she waved a wing. “And besides, when are you not drunk?”

Husk snorted in irritation, not bothering to dignify that question with a response. He was currently recovering from a hangover but still drinking. “Now, let’s go over the specifics of our deal. Terms: you will not be going into debt again. If I find out you owe any demon even a single cent, you’re dead. I didn’t pay you ten times your original debt just for you to end up in the gutter again.”

Husk only acknowledged her word with a hum. She was carrying twenty million with her, and just that alone made it abundantly clear that she was an absurdly powerful and old demon. If Athena threatened death, she absolutely was capable of following through.

“Don’t you worry, my friend,” Athena tucked her wing in, still standing on top of the bag holding his money. “You work under me, so I will be paying you. Your hours are the same as your casinos’, so do try to draw in customers as much as possible.”

Husk took another swig of his bottle; he was still waiting for the inevitable drawback of this deal. Based on what he’s heard from his patrons, Overlords have every right to do whatever they wanted with the souls they owned, no matter how depraved or f*cked up.

“I gave you more than what you owed to help you and your casino get back on its feet, and I will know if you are using the money that I had generously loaned you in good faith for a different reason. And since I have you bound in a Soul Contract, you kick up thirty percent of any earnings your establishments make to me. Sound fair so far?”

The Casino Overlord waved a paw, barely listening, but it didn’t seem to bother the owl in the slightest. If anything, she only found amusem*nt in it. Husk was acting like he wasn’t paying attention, but he knew that he wasn’t allowed to purposefully tank just to make his boss’s wallet suffer. And casinos already make crazy money, so thirty percent wasn’t too much of a loss.

“Now, here’s the juicy part. Any Sinner who enters your casinos will have to sign a waiver stating that if any rules are broken or any funny business happens in your place of business, then that troublemaker will be forced to negotiate for their soul as compensation.”

That got Husk’s attention. He put the bottle down on the desk, and the glass hit the dark wood with a harsh thud. “Are you f*ckin’ high? Nobody is gonna wanna come to any casino that makes you wager your f*ckin’ soul to even enter!”

“Oh, calm down,” the owl waved a wing nonchalantly, amusem*nt painted on her face. “Nobody reads those annoying legal papers anyway. And besides, they won’t have the option of going to another casino. Not when you run the only casinos in Pentagram City,” Athena replied with a devious grin.

Husk felt his mind stop working for a moment. “... What are you talking about?”

The owl finally stepped off of the bag she was carrying. Husk felt the blood freeze in his veins; he had the sneaking suspicion that there wasn’t money in that bag. But he knew Athena wanted him to open it because of the malicious expression on her face. The Casino Overlord hesitantly leaned forwards in his chair and unzipped the bag with shaking claws. And the sight he was met with made his stomach lurch uncomfortably. He was normally nonchalant in the face of blood and gore, but recovering from a hangover made his digestive system slightly stunted. The severed heads of at least six Sinners were sitting in the bag. And they weren’t just any Sinners; Husk immediately recognized some of them as fellow Casino Overlords.

“Congratulations, Husker~” his boss purred with the darkest and most twisted grin he’s ever seen. “You’ve been promoted to the top Casino Overlord in the Pentagram!” Husk audibly swallowed; he was starting to think the demon he sold his soul to was far more dangerous than he ever thought possible.

“Oh, and don’t you worry, my feathered friend. You will get your twenty million before nightfall. And I expect there won’t be any problems during tonight’s shift?” Athena hopped back onto the bag so she was eye level with Husk again. Her tone was sickly sweet, and Husk felt a flicker of fear run down his spine as his mind hurriedly went through the terms she had explained to him about the Soul Contract.

“N-no problems…” the Overlord replied through a heavy gulp.

Athena’s grin reached her ears with satisfaction as she straightened herself. She then took off and flew out of the office, making Husk jump. The dread pooling in his veins was like a spring coiling, and her sudden flurry of feathers finally made it go off. The cat-like Sinner was left with his thoughts and a half-empty bottle of whiskey, and his boss had left the bag of severed heads on the desk in front of him.

Chapter 17: Chapter 17

Notes:

i found out that alastor canonically speaks broken french so you bet i'm gonna shoehorn that into the fic somehow

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

After I flew out of the Jackpot Casino, I had to land on the roof of a nearby building to let out a few bouts of laughter. I simply couldn’t help myself; it felt as if I was on top of the world. I leaned against the wall of the ledge I was previously perched upon, a mad grin splitting my face. By God, was that satisfying. What a rush! Mapping out a strategy and then carrying it out caused a rush of pure euphoria to flood my veins. Every Overlord I killed and every head I collected built up an almost unbearable amount of excitement because I was picturing how it would pay off in the end.

The anticipation of seeing a plan come together was such a thrill. As I let out a few more cackles, I couldn’t help but berate myself for not doing this decades ago. It’s been around sixty years since I had arrived in this realm, and only now was I finally starting to expand my empire? I had fun during the Golden Age of Radio a few decades ago, but I could be doing so much more. In less than twenty four hours, I had collected another soul and then pushed that soul into becoming the very top of the casino industry.

I was reminded of how I had done the same for Alastor all those years ago, but the rush I felt back then was different to the one I was experiencing now. I was inexperienced, desperate, and weak back then. But today, I was a seasoned strategist and was more than willing to spill blood to get what I wanted. And it was too easy to take out those Overlords.

Sneak attacks did most of them in, but there were others who were heavily guarded. These demons were the most valuable, and they knew it. Drawing them and their bodyguards to a desired location was easy enough. I had set up multiple small radios on ledges and around corners of an alleyway that were set to broadcast the sound of gunfire. The goons thought they were surrounded, so they surrendered and put down their weapons. And that’s when I struck. It was one of the old tactics I had used back when I was prohibiting anyone and everyone from entering my territory way back from before I had met Alastor.

I had decided to take a page from Alastor’s playbook and left a calling card of sorts at the crime scene of each of the fallen Casino Overlords. A custom poker playing card with the design of a cat with a top hat and a golden grin was left on the headless bodies of each and every Overlord I killed. And just like with Alastor, all other Overlords of a certain entertainment industry were slain overnight, and all the credit went to a new and unknown demon.

All Sinners who had their souls sold to the now deceased Overlords were free from their Contracts and were looking for work. Many of them had gone to Husk already to get their jobs back, while others decided to flee now that they had the right to do so. After all, it was the same job, but a different boss. Most of them wanted their old positions back because they had nowhere else to go, or they were scared that the new Overlord would hunt them down for daring to abandon their post.

Only around a tenth of the staff of the casinos Husk now owns decided to leave after my killing spree, which wasn’t too much of a hit on production and maintenance of the buildings. And the order I gave the new Overlord regarding the idea of waivers upon entry would make it much easier to gather new souls and fill in the new job openings. I was not completely heartless; only those who break the rules of the casino would have to face the Casino Overlord, and Husk would be the one who decides the fate of those who disturb his establishments. He could take their soul, or he could let them off the hook with a warning or a blacklist. And of course, the troublemaker had the opportunity to bribe their way out of a Soul Contract, which could be favorable to Husk as well depending on what they were offering. He got to decide the rules, and he got to decide the punishments; however, I had the final say, and he knew it.

I gave Husk the opportunity to do what he wishes with his casinos because truth be told, I knew next to nothing about running one. He had more freedom than what I typically would’ve liked, but I wasn’t too worried. I knew my stunt with the severed heads was more than enough to scare him into line. Alastor wasn’t like that, however. I had to outsmart the man to keep him obedient because he didn’t fear me. And I admit that I enjoyed the game of cat and mouse we played.

“My dear, what sort of trouble have you gotten yourself into today?” Alastor towered over me after I flew into the studio with the most smug grin I’ve ever sported in my afterlife. His tone was not accusatory; it more resembled a nosy gossiper demanding the latest juicy rumor.

I started cackling. “You’ll find out soon enough,” I said between snickers as I excitedly began setting up for the morning broadcast. I could feel the deer demon’s crimson eyes following me as my talons flew over the console. I paused to snicker one more time before composing myself, but the smug grin was still there.

“Salutations!” I spoke into the microphone, and I caught Alastor sitting down in his chair from my peripheral vision with an amused grin plastered on his face. His chin was resting on the back of his claws with his elbows propped on the table in front of him. “What a lovely day it is, and I am happy to inform you that we have some very interesting and exclusive news to share this morning. I have just received word that many Overlords around the Pentagram have been found deceased behind their establishments. Be advised, dear listeners, we might be witness to the rise of a new Overlord.”

Alastor’s eyes lit up in realization, and he had to choke back laughter behind a closed fist to not let my microphone pick up on it. I could see his shoulders bouncing as static snickering was escaping through his mad grin. I couldn’t keep a straight face as I went through the broadcast that day, and Alastor was having trouble keeping his laughter contained. I decided to start asking his opinion on certain topics to put him on the spot. I then turned my microphone off and started cackling as I watched him try not to lose his composure while on the air, which made me laugh even harder.

By the time the show ended, I swear I had tears in my eyes. I leaned back against my perch and just let myself laugh. Across the table, Alastor wasn’t faring much better. He was leaning heavily on the console with a hand on his face and cackling uncontrollably. It was a genuine expression of joy that I never thought I would see from the man.

“How delightful,” Alastor mimed wiping a tear from his eye when he finally caught his breath again. “I see you’ve been quite busy, mon cher. You never disappoint.”

I let out one last chuckle before hopping onto the table in front of the deer demon. My expression turned fond as I tucked in my wings and looked up at him. “It’s something I should’ve done years ago, if I’m being honest. I must thank you for reminding me of my ambition.”

“Oh, it’s my absolute pleasure,” Alastor replied. “I do enjoy funding such lively performances.”

He then began to scratch me under my chin with a single red claw. He normally only did this when we were in public to sell the idea that I was just a bird, and it was normally done in a condescending manner. My guess was that it was his petty revenge for me having him in a binding Soul Contract. But I was in too good of a mood to let it bother me today.

“Oh! I nearly forgot!” Alastor chirped, and I only hummed in acknowledgment. I will never admit, not even on my deathbed, that I was leaning into his hand, but I was and he knew it. He retracted his hand, and I ruffled my wings to regain my composure. He moved his elbow to hover in front of me, a silent invitation to climb on, and I did so. The deer demon then straightened up, and his cane vanished behind his back. “There is something I have been meaning to try.” And before I could ask him to elaborate, he snapped his fingers with an audible click, and I was engulfed in toxic green fire.

Notes:

bonding with your serial killer bestie after going on a murder spree and then he sets you on fire <3

Chapter 18: Chapter 18

Chapter Text

I let out a shriek of alarm and immediately lashed out with a talon in defense as soon as the bright green filled my vision. But Alastor must’ve stepped away because I then felt myself falling. I let out an undignified squawk as I hit the ground. I tried to stand up again, but I fell forwards and had to hold myself up with my wings on the ground.

The fire was only there for a second; it vanished mere moments after I hit the floor, disappearing as if it was never really there. And I wasn’t hurt either. I didn’t feel any sort of pain or burning aside from when I landed on the floor with a harsh thud. I was fully prepared to immediately spring up and take a swing at Alastor for attacking me out of nowhere, but what I saw when the green went away made my entire world stand still. There was the blood red metal that made the floor of the studio, but instead of a pair of wings that were holding me up, there were two human-like appendages with gold skin and black talons at the end of each digit with feathers stretching out down the arms from the wrists.

I couldn’t move at first. My brain was still processing what I was seeing. I blinked, dumbstruck as I experimentally moved each and every claw on my hand. I flexed my hand and felt my palm rub against the metal underneath me. I realized that I was on all fours on the ground when I pushed myself up and back onto my knees. And I then realized I had knees now. I raised a hand and turned my wrist in front of my face, examining every pore and each talon.

The sensation of doing something so simple was so alien. As I moved my wrists, I could feel the familiar pull of feathers as my skin twisted when I rotated my wrists, but because they were isolated to only the outer end of my forearms, it felt wrong.

I almost jumped when I felt some sort of blanket fall onto my back, but I quickly realized that there were also hands on my shoulders. I looked over my shoulder, which was also an odd experience. I could feel the neck muscles and joints move with such a simple motion, and I could feel the stiff bones stopping me from turning more than halfway around. Hovering over me was Alastor, and my surge of anger was forgotten instantly when I saw just how different he looked. None of his physical features were out of place, but he was nowhere near as tall as he usually looked. I blinked at him, still dumbfounded, as I tried to wrap my head around what was happening.

“Do forgive me, mon cher,” the deer demon said, still leaning over me. “But it is simply not decent for a lady such as yourself to be without garments.”

I was confused for a moment, but then I realized that Alastor had draped one of his long tailcoats over my shoulders. It was probably the spare he kept on an antler coat rack in the corner of the room. The sleeves had been cut off, making it much easier to slip my wings through, but I had to question when he had the time to do it. I fumbled with the buttons with my uncoordinated talons and ended up tearing a few threads, but eventually I managed to close the vest around my torso. Several buttons were mismatched, making the article of clothing crooked, but at the moment, I didn’t care.

I reached up onto the top of the table in the center of the studio and hoisted my body up. I pushed my legs and felt them wobble beneath me as I was unused to the new joints. I looked down to see that my legs were also humanoid. My thighs and shins were unmistakably human, but instead of feet, my bird talons were still there. I tapped each claw to the ground to test my senses, and I winced at the sensation of the muscles moving under my skin at the knee area.

“What did you…? What did you do?” I wheezed out, still leaning heavily against the table. My legs felt as if they couldn’t support me, so half of my torso was leaning on the aging wood while my knees trembled. My eyes then fell on the perch I would always sit on during radio shows. It was so small now. For over seventy years I’ve stood on the thing. But I bet I could hold it like a torch now. It was a uniquely chilling experience.

“Is it not obvious?” Alastor replied, and even in my dumbstruck state I could recognize amusem*nt in his tone. “If I had known giving you this form would take away that magnificent brain of yours, I would’ve left you be. I prefer you to keep your wits about you, darling.”

I swallowed thickly, still trying to make my mind start working again. I ran a hand across my scalp, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that long soft feathers made up my hairstyle rather than actual hair. But I noticed two tufts of feathers on my head that were meant to resemble the plumicorns on a great-horned owl. Having opposable thumbs was already enough of a shock. “No, I mean… How did you do this? Why did you?”

“Now, isn’t this a treat?” the deer demon smirked. “It’s not every day I hear genuine confusion from you, darling.” I snarled at him, curling my lip, which was yet another strange experience. He waved a hand at me, still infuriatingly nonchalant. “Oh, calm down. It’s a temporary spell. High-ranking demons such as myself are able to change our appearance. I merely wished to see if I could use my magic to have the same sort of effect on you.”

“So I was your guinea pig, huh?” I retorted. I managed to push myself off the table and take a step forwards, pointing my finger at him accusingly. But my body was still not used to the new build of my legs, and my knees immediately collapsed under me as soon as I took my weight off the table.

Alastor caught me before I hit the floor. I felt my face heat up with shame and embarrassment as he looked down at me with a smug grin plastered on his face. “How cute,” he cooed condescendingly, and I had to snarl at him again. “Like a newborn fawn taking her first steps.” I made a point of standing up straight, and I flexed the muscles in my legs to try gaining control of my limbs and getting used to the new and strange build. There was no way I was going to regain any dignity or pride from this interaction, and both of us knew it.

“Well, I do believe we need to pay a visit to the tailor,” Alastor mused as he took a step back and made a show of eying the uneven buttons of the vest of my torso. “Can’t have my business partner walking around town in such a state. Come along, mon cher. I know of a good little shop nearby.” The deer demon didn’t wait for me to respond as he melted into his shadow and exited the studio. I scowled and turned to the window. It took me a few moments longer than usual to unlock the glass panel, but when I did, I leaped out of the tower and spread my wings.

I fumbled a few times in midair as I struggled to figure out how to balance on the currents with different body proportions, but I finally managed to stay upright by straightening my legs. I thought I was going to have to plank while flying to stay airborne, but I was pleasantly surprised to see feathered fins on the outer parts of my shins that acted as sails and made it much easier to keep my balance.

I spotted Alastor on the sidewalk next to the apartments, so I soared down. I remembered to pull up earlier than how I usually do because of the extra weight I now carried. But it seemed the deer demon was not done messing with me, as with a click of his fingers, I felt myself shrink significantly, and I was back to being an owl. I barely managed to stop myself from losing my balance and hitting the ground by tucking my legs back and swooping around him. I squawked angrily in his stupid smug face before flying up to perch on his antlers, knowing he hated it when I did so.

Chapter 19: Chapter 19

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

I wasn’t normally self-conscious about anything. But standing on a pedestal wearing nothing but a sleeveless spare tailcoat in front of a demon I didn’t know was doing wonders to wound my sense of pride. I was finding that having arms instead of wings was rather awkward. My wings would always be tucked into my sides, but now the new appendages hung limply at my sides. I crossed my arms and tapped my skin with a single black claw as the tailor flitted about the room with supplies and fabric.

I had caught sight of different shades of greens and blacks along with bags of buttons and thin gold chains pulled from shelves and drawers lining the wall.I will admit that I had mixed feelings about being in a tailor’s shop in general. The stunt Alastor had pulled was sudden and unexpected, and it caused the paranoia in me to escalate dramatically. I didn’t know how long Alastor was capable of doing something like this, and I didn’t know what else he was capable of.

A demon cannot harm the one soul that owns them, but suddenly bursting into flames would catch anyone off guard. I didn’t know if he did this as a power play, to prove that he is more powerful than I am, but that was probably a very likely possibility. He never did give on trying to free himself from my chains; he had simply become much more tolerant of my presence. It made me realize just how lax I had gotten over the years since he was able to catch me off guard so easily.

I stepped down from the pedestal with a sigh. I thought I was vulnerable as a tiny bird, but standing in the middle of the room without any clothes on truly made me feel uneasy. But I had to shrug it off. Alastor had threatened the tailors into silence, and it had caused them to work even harder and faster to get the project done.

We had originally stopped by the store early this morning to get started. Because of the Radio Demon’s reputation, the head tailor immediately canceled all of his appointments for the rest of the day and dedicated it towards working on something for me to wear when I was in this more humanoid Sinner form. As of right now, Alastor and I had come back to pick up the order and for the tailor to do some last minute measurements.

“M-miss…?” the tailor got my attention with a stutter. I turned to him with a raised eyebrow. He was a rather tall but slender demon with forest green skin and bug-like features, a praying mantis, if I would have to guess. I could hear his teeth chattering behind twitching mandibles; he was radiating so much fear I could practically smell it. I suspect Alastor had played a part in that; the tailor was strictly professional when he was taking measurements both earlier today and now. But I had to ask myself why the deer would do something like that. If anything, he would’ve paid the tailor more to make me as uncomfortable as possible for the entirety of the appointment.

“Your uhm… I have your clothing ready…” he pointed in the direction of a changing room. I suspected that the clothing was already in there. “Please do tell me if there is even a single detail that is not to your liking…! I will get it s-sorted immediately!”

I only hummed in acknowledgement and walked into the room before sliding the curtain shut. I could hear scuttling going on outside the fitting room I was in, but I paid it no mind. In the small corner of the tailor’s shop I was in, there was a body-length mirror taking the place as one of the walls while an entire outfit hung on the other end. I gingerly took it off the hanger and felt the fabric beneath my palms. I was still getting used to having such a heightened sense of feeling back. I took a deep breath in and ran my hand across the wallpaper next to me.

Now that I had this time to myself in this new body, I could allow myself to be amazed at just how much there was to simply feel. It made me wonder just how any mortal creature could get anything done when there was so much sensory input at all hours of every day. I supposed it was one of the greatest strengths and weaknesses of the human mind: the ability to take something for granted. I sighed and put my existential crisis on the backburner as I took the coat off my shoulders again.

Alastor hummed absentmindedly to the sound of quiet jazz in the background of the tailor’s lobby. He had always preferred this establishment due to the lack of picture boxes anywhere in the store for the most part. The clerk at the front desk would occasionally check her phone, but the deer demon suspected that she did not dare do so in the presence of the Radio Demon. The only way he knew she had one was the faint hum in the back of his mind.

Ever since Athena had told Alastor that he could tap into the Vee’s technology whenever he wished due to their reliance on radio waves, the deer demon had made a habit of occasionally sending feelers out with his magic to pick up on any of Vox’s tacky technology. There were a few instances where he caught cameras being pointed his way, most likely his rival trying to keep tabs on him, but Alastor always responded by either making the device glitch out or he would send the pompous Television Demon a virus to short circuit his servers for a few minutes. Vox was completely at the Radio Demon’s mercy, and they both knew it. The only reason the Television Demon still had a career was because Alastor was letting him, and he knew that this fact was eating away at Vox like scavengers picking apart a dying animal.

Alastor had always felt such a thrill in circ*mstances like this. Causing misery and discord had always been such a timeless and tireless form of entertainment, and the excitement and joy he gets out of the suffering of others brought upon an unreachable high that made every nerve in his body burn hot red, especially the suffering of those who have tried to cross him. If there is any sort of competition standing in his way, Alastor felt the burning need to win. But winning was not enough, he wanted to watch his opponent suffer.

Vox was the perfect target for the Radio Demon’s amusem*nt, and he was unsure if it was ever going to get old. It was like watching a rat in a maze trying so desperately to escape but to never get anywhere, much to another’s amusem*nt. But Athena was a different beast. She quite literally had him on a leash, and the thought alone made a burning fury rush through his veins that made him want to tear something apart. Rather than being a rat in a maze, he was a puppet on strings. She had the uncanny ability to make him dance to her tune and without even needing to use the chains he was bound in.

Alastor was pulled from his thoughts when the tailor finally emerged from the back of the shop. The whimpering demon scuttled to the front desk, not so subtly hiding behind it, and the deer demon had to scoff. This sniveling Sinner had no pride in his work. If he truly believed he was putting his best foot forwards, then he need not worry about his client’s wrath.

Athena walked out from the back of the shop, each talon on her feet clicking against the tile with every step she took. The first thing his crimson gaze fell upon were the light green cuffs at the bottom of her freshly-ironed black dress pants, and he could see that there were splits in the outer shins area for her feathered fins, which were resting against her skin. As his gaze traveled further up her body, he could see a golden belt with an owl insignia as a buckle wrapped around her lithe waist and then a black turtleneck vest bordered with bright green the same shade as her vibrant acid colored eyes that split into a wing-like cut at the hem.

And he felt his claws itch as his eyes traced every emerald green meticulous feather pattern embroidered into the fabric, the very same pattern that was painted onto her signature radios from so many years ago. The long dark green feathers cascading from her arms waved through the air with a soft whoosh as her black talons adjusted the light green bracelets on each of her wrists, which resembled the cuffs n her pant legs. On her shoulders was a dark green feather cape with bright green bordering it and a thin gold chain holding the garment up. And wrapped around her throat was the silver deer amulet, its antlers reaching around her neck and its ruby eyes glowing faintly.

Alastor hummed as he crossed the room in a few short purposeful strides to stand directly in front of her. His toes barely grazed Athena’s black talons as he towered over her. Even in a more humanoid form, he was still two heads taller than her. A single red claw traced the edges of the silver amulet wrapped around her throat, and the Radio Demon felt the familiar burn that came from coming into contact with holy steel.

“Look at you, mon cher,” he cooed, purposefully making a show of staring straight at the necklace that practically marked her as his territory. They both knew that the true situation was the exact opposite, but for the moment, Alastor let himself imagine that the roles were reversed. To have such a cunning and ruthless demon such as herself be at his beck and call was an intoxicating fantasy. He knew that Athena was not going to take this humiliation lying down, and it excited him to wonder what she was going to do in retaliation.

Notes:

two asexuals "flirting" with each other to assert dominance is just too funny for me to not write

Chapter 20: Chapter 20

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

I could barely bite back a growl as Alastor ran his claws over the amulet around my throat. I knew what he was doing; he didn’t even have the decency to try and hide it. He was flexing his power over me. He could change my form from humanoid to owl and vice versa whenever he pleased; I had no control over it, and it made my blood burn with rage. For anyone to have control over me was unacceptable, but it was a f*cking insult to my pride for the soul I own to have any sort of power over me. I needed to remind him of just who was holding the leash.

I put on a grin as I ran a single black claw across the invisible shackles around his throat, “See something you like, my deer?” My tone turned possessive, and I felt magic surge through my veins at the double entendre. My grin curled up into a smirk as I put more pressure on the chain, making the thorny links dig into his skin.

This was the closest thing to an inside joke we had, and I knew he absolutely despised it. And to add insult to injury, we were still in the tailor shop lobby. From an outside perspective, it appeared that we were flirting with each other, which was something I knew he would find absolutely unacceptable to both his pride and his reputation.

I felt a sliver of satisfaction at seeing the deer twitch, but then something slightly unexpected happened. Since we were standing so close to each other, I was able to catch the almost unnoticeable shudder that ran down his body when I traced the chains around his neck. I wrapped my talons around the links and gave it a small but harsh tug, and my smirk widened when I caught him sucking in a breath through clenched teeth. I watched as Alastor’s own smirk twisted into a grimace when his brain finally processed the situation he was in. I could see confusion and horror flashing through those crimson eyes as he realized how his body was responding to such treatment.

The Radio Demon’s claws latched onto my waist, nearly puncturing the new fabric as shadows suddenly enveloped us both. The sensation was strange. My instincts told me that I was falling, but there was no breeze zipping by my face nor wind whistling in my ears, but I knew we were moving. And in the next instant, we were both in the radio tower. As soon as the shadow receded, Alastor snarled and pushed me back onto the table. He towered over me with claws digging into the aging metal on either side of my body, and I was leaning back onto the surface, my elbows on the table and feathers stretching out across the console.

What. Did you. D̸̢̝͓̣̗͌̉̍͋̂̋͒̃̍͘͠ ̸͇̩̻̪͚̟̿͒̈̽̆̎͗̌́Ǒ̵̘̫̪̞̪̾͒ ̵̶̛̛̯̙̳̆̇́͗̎̎̿͆̉̾̐̀͗͑͌́́́̏̐̆͠T̸̖̖͌̋̋͒̿͑̓͝ ̸̧̼̝̹̻̤͎͈̠͈̟̝̆͑͂̎̾͒͒̔͜͠͝͠O̸͓̊̏͘̕͜͝͝ ̷̨̹̭͒͋̿̊̓͆͘ ̸̢̡͈͍͍͔̼̟̥̲̳̝͑̾̋͌̀̒̾͘̕M̸̨̧͎̞͖̱̖̟͙̼͙̩̞͔̯̙̆̏̄̽̓͋̉̀͋̓ͅ ̴̨̤̹̝̭̯̙̤͐̂͝Ē̵͓͙̣̳͔̗̮͓̬͋͐̅̀̆̅͒̋͒̉̐̚ͅ?!” He growled, lips curling up in anger as his eyes turned into glowing red radio knobs and his antlers stretched out to scrape the walls of the studio, vine-like chains hanging from the points like ornaments. I will admit that it was an intimidating display, but I knew he couldn’t hurt me; his Contract would not allow it.

I only snickered and reached behind his neck to pull the chain again, forcing his head back and making him snarl in an animalistic fashion. The dark green links revealed themselves in my talons, and I could hear the metallic screeching behind me as Alastor clawed at the console I was leaning on. “That is for me to know, my deer,” I cooed condescendingly at him. “But please, do guess, I would love to know the theories~”

I could see his arms shaking on either side of me as the radio static around us reached a fever pitch. Over the past thirty years or so, after Vox had kidnapped me to use against Alastor, I had started tapping at the chain around his neck every time he brought about suffering onto another demon. Carnage, chaos, and even someone showing fear in his presence was accompanied by me poking the links, reminding him of their presence. I knew he took immense joy from the suffering of others, so over the years, I had started to slowly associate the feeling of my control and the thrill he got from watching others in pain. It was classic psychological conditioning, and I was pleased to see that it was finally paying off.

I knew that my biggest threat was the man I had under a Soul Contract. I knew that he longed for freedom and was prepared to do anything to get it. I was fairly certain that once he had it, he would exact revenge on me for the crime of having him on a leash at all. He was constantly fighting against the green shackles binding him to me, so I had to find a way to stop it before it could become a true problem. I had to stop him from wanting to be free.

I knew that Alastor still hated the idea of being at someone’s beck and call, but he was starting to become more tolerant to me tugging his leash. If anything, he was now taking enjoyment out of it, and the look of confusion in his eyes turned frantic as he tried to figure out what I had done and how to undo it. It was yet another layer of control I had over him, and we both knew it.

I finally let go of the chains, and the deer demon stumbled back with a hand on his throat. His breathing was noticeably heavier as he tried to regain his composure. I took my time in standing up and straightening my shirt as I watched him try to wrap his head around what had just happened. I leaned back against the console with a smirk on my face, “Now, what’s with that look? If I didn’t know any better, I would say you liked it.

Alastor snarled again as his eyes turned black, not having anything to say in retaliation. He knew I wasn’t genuine. If anything, I was lording my control over him once again, the true meaning hidden behind teasing words and a dark grin. He knew that this was revenge for him trying to lord his own power over me at the tailor’s shop. It was just like the time where I was kidnapped by Vox so many years ago. He put me in a tough situation, and I used a sliver of invaluable knowledge to escape it, and Alastor was then forced to wonder just how long I had known such a thing and just how much more I knew.

I pushed myself off the table and manifested the links again with a harsh tug. Alastor was pulled forwards, and I stepped up to meet him in the middle of the room. My grip on the chain pulled his head down so he and I were at eye level. “Do not forget who is the one holding the leash. Understood, my deer?” I hissed, and I could feel another shudder run down his spine as my breath hit his ear, making it flick.

I could hear Alastor grinding his fangs together with enough force to make his jaw creak in protest. His ears flattened against his head, and he let out a shaky breath “... Understood.”

I chuckled darkly. “Good boy,” I purred as I pulled on the leash again, forcing him down so I could tower over him. And to add insult to injury, I used my other hand to pet the base of his ears as if I was rewarding him for good behavior, making him clench his eyes shut in utter humiliation. Alastor had given me this humanoid form just to prove to me that he could do the one thing I never could, but I had twisted it into an advantage for myself, as I could never do this to him as an owl. We both knew that I had won this little game.

Notes:

athena's been cooking this since chapter 11, who caught it ;3

Chapter 21: Chapter 21

Chapter Text

Alastor. Was. Furious.

He was livid, mad, outraged, fuming. He was ANGRY. He couldn’t even remember the last time he had felt such unyielding rage. It burned in his chest with enough intensity to give him chills.

Athena had done it again. She knew exactly what to say or do to get under his skin. He didn’t know how to feel about the situation he was in. There were some instances where he was impressed at just how ruthlessly cunning his owner was.He clenched his fists with enough force to dig his claws into his palms and draw blood. The mere presence of that word in his mind caused a rush of ecstasy to run down his spine; it was a euphoria only possible to him after slaying a soul in the most violent and bloodthirsty way possible. And he hated it.

The very idea of being controlled by anyone made Alastor burn with rage, but when it was her who was controlling him, he felt a different kind of fire. The red-hot flames burned with enough intensity to make his limbs itch with the desire to tear something apart and cause more mayhem and chaos; it was the very same addictive sensation he got whenever he would watch the suffering of those around him.

Alastor didn’t know why he was reacting this way, but he knew Athena was behind it. Yet again, she found a way to make him obey, all without so much as touching the chains around his throat. But a treacherous part of his mind produced the idea that he was simply growing accustomed to his Soul Contract, even starting to enjoy it. With an enraged growl, he swatted that idea away. He refused to even entertain such a thought. But because it was now conjured, that persistent concept would remain in the back of his mind. It was a last resort answer to the question of how Athena had done this to him. His inability to decipher the cause and reasoning behind these damning feelings only enraged him more.

And when his owner pulled on his leash in her more humanoid form, Alastor felt the familiar rush of adrenaline and euphoria he had only ever seen when it was accompanied by the screams of pain and agony from other souls. He had tried to prove his dominance by showing her that he was stronger than her. He could do things she couldn’t. It was the only tool he had anymore, and even then, he had that power only because of her. But Athena had used it against him. She used what little advantage he had against him. She could pinpoint his weaknesses and could exploit them with scary efficiency. And she did so against other demons who have tried to cross her and with much less mercy.

Alastor admired that, and he loved seeing her work. But he hated when she would use that talent to control him. But what he hated more was the rush of ecstasy that ran rampant through his body when she so much as touched the links digging into his skin. When she had run a single claw along the dark green metal only visible to the two of them while at the tailor’s shop, he had felt a small but very noticeable sliver of what could only be described as desire.

Under normal circ*mstances, Alastor welcomed the burning of desire under his skin, as it was the main emotion that drove him to kill and destroy in the pursuit of that delicious high. But as he stood in the darkened radio studio with a vine-like chain wrapped around his neck, he felt utter revulsion follow that familiar rush of pleasure. He should not take any sort of enjoyment from being at the beck and call of anyone, especially someone with bloodthirst to rival even his own.

And when Athena pulled on the leash again, he felt himself bend to her will. He could simply wave his hand and turn her back into an owl, he could summon his magic to force her to let go of the chain, he could overpower her with simply his taller stature. But his body refused to listen to him. His limbs twitched as his first instinct was to shove her away, but he was rooted to the spot, forced to lower himself so that he was beneath Athena as she displayed her dominance. And her words were poison. They were scalding his ears and piercing his brain, sending shocks of dopamine down his body and making his knees tremble.

“Now, what’s with that look? If I didn’t know any better, I would say you liked it,” she had teasingly cooed at him, and the tone was the same one she had used when talking about the victims of her murder spree when the two of them were on the air. Her vice was insincere and innocent. Any other demon who would hear her would assume that she knew more than what she was letting on, and to those who knew the direct involvement she had, the tone was much more chilling.

His mind was going in circles as he tried to decipher just how she had done this to him. This was not just some happy accident on her end where circ*mstances just happened to work in her favor. She had planned this, and he needed to know how so he could put a stop to it. But no such ideas were coming to mind, and it was maddening.

Had he simply gotten lax over the years while he was under Soul Contract? Alastor noticed that the two of them had been considerably more friendly with each other as of late. He immediately thought of them laughing together about the “mysterious” deaths of the Overlords throughout the city. Was she waiting for him to let his guard down before using some sort of spell to warp his mind? What had Athena done to him?

Alastor did not want to admit it, not even to himself, that her words held truth. As much as he despised the fact, it was still a fact. He was enjoying this, and he then felt another bout of shivers climb up from the small of his back to the tips of his ears, making them twitch at the unfamiliar sensation. Simply admitting to himself that he liked being on a leash made the experience all the more unbearable as he felt the euphoria hit new heights.

“Do not forget who is the one holding the leash. Understood, my deer?” Athena had hissed to him as she towered over his pathetic form. Her talons were still wrapped around the dark green links as she yanked the chain down and made him shrink under her acidic green gaze. For the first time in the entirety of his life and afterlife, he felt like prey. Before him were the sharp eyes of a raptor hungrily taking in his expression and his submissive stance.

And the bloodthirsty aura emanating from Athena gave him visions of a monstrous black bird, its wings stretching out above him and eclipsing every source of light he could see, its bright green eyes piercing and rooting him to the spot like a deer in the headlights.

“Understood…” Alastor choked out, cringing internally at how his voice cracked behind the layers of radio static. His ears flicked before pinning flat against his skull as his tail stood straight up, baring the white underside to send a desperate signal of a predator to a herd that didn’t exist.

But then deceptively soft talons threaded through the fur at the base of his ears, softly massaging his scalp and very considerately avoiding the sensitive antlers on his head. “Good boy~” his owner purred. The dark green chains binding his soul suddenly felt very heavy on his shoulders, and his knees hit the cold hard metal beneath his feet. Resignation finally crept into his veins as his crimson eyes met her bright green ones, and he felt himself leaning into her touch with an inaudible sigh.

Athena had won their little game.

Chapter 22: Chapter 22

Chapter Text

I sighed heavily as I flew through the air as an owl. The latest Extermination had just ended, and I could see the Exorcist Angels retreating back to the glowering golden portal in the sky. I was able to leave my bunker earlier than other demons because those angels never paid much attention to me, but I preferred to stay hidden just as a precaution. Recently, I had begun spending the Exterminations with Alastor because we now lived in the same building, and during that time, he would let me practice and get used to having a normal Sinner form.

I say that I was practicing getting used to having knees and opposable thumbs, but it was more accurate to say we were just hanging out. He found out that I had essentially bought and taken over the casino industry, and he had proposed going to one of the high-end establishments one of these days. I was not opposed to it, but after confessing that I had never been to a casino, even when I was alive, the deer demon then began his ten plus hours of torment in the apartments.

“Never, not even in your life, have you ever played any sort of gambling game?” Alastor had guffawed. He had been rather petulant lately, still trying to wrap his head around the idea of starting to like being controlled. He still hasn’t figured out how I had managed it, but in the meantime, he has been much more eager to make fun of me at every opportunity he could. “You’ve never even had a mature drink in your life nor afterlife?” The deer demon had been incredibly amused. That grin was always on his face, but the tilting of his eyes told me that he was barely holding back mad laughter as he took in my situation.

“My greatest and only weapon is my mind, so I would rather not do anything to hinder it,” I waved him off before taking a swig from the bottle of water. I was still trying to get used to the motion of raising a cup to my face with my hands to drink, so I was practicing better coordination. “And besides, didn’t you say that you preferred that I keep my wits about me?”

Alastor had then shrugged, having no response to that. “Fair enough. But as for your lack of knowledge when it comes to parlor games, well that simply won’t do!” he had chirped as he suddenly wrapped an arm around my shoulders. For someone who despises being touched, he engaged in it rather often. And he had been doing so much more often ever since the confrontation in the radio tower after going to the tailor’s. “Come along now, there are a few more hours left on the clock until the Exorcists depart. I believe I have some old playing cards in my desk drawer.”

I was drawn back to reality when a flash of light told me that the last of the angels were gone from Hell. I was significantly higher in the sky than I normally would be after an Extermination just ended, but I wanted some time to think. Husk was doing rather well managing all of his new casinos, and I suspect it’s because he knew that I would kill him if any one of them went down. He was not a powerful Overlord, and he knew it. I had been the one to kill all of the other Overlords, and Sinners only gain more power by slaying other demons, not gaining new souls.

Husk had hired several bodyguards to protect him at all hours of the day, but they were still easy to slip around, for me at least. And I knew he had gotten bodyguards to protect him from me because of the shocked and terrified expression on his face when I got past them the first time. I didn’t want him telling them to keep me away from him, so a harsh tug on his leash put him back in line. I didn’t want to admit that it was somewhat dull to be able to control a Sinner by simply threatening him, but it was probably because I was so used to the cat and mouse games Alastor and I played with each other in a struggle for dominance. But I wasn’t about to start complaining about how easy it is to control the Overlord in charge of my income.

Husk had made some interesting decisions regarding his casinos that did pay off in the long run. He had the idea of having the atmosphere of the different establishments be reminiscent of different points in history to attract Sinners from all backgrounds. It was a sound idea, and the one on the south side of the Pentagram had its setting placed in the early 20th century. That casino was a few blocks away from Cannibal Town, so I assumed Husk was attempting to draw that community into his business. However, the denizens of that corner of Hell rarely ever left the borders of their colony. But it didn’t stop Alastor from taking an interest in it. And it is what led to him teaching me poker in the first place.

A sudden explosion of colors and booming sounds went off right next to me, violently pulling me from my musings. I let out a shriek as the unexpected explosions made me start falling from the sky. I twisted and turned in the air, trying to right myself before hitting the ground. My wings were flapping out of sync, and I could only think to myself that I was luckily flying so high up today. But something grabbed my talons and held me upside down in the air, slowly stopping my wild descent.

I looked up and saw a small goat-like demon with red fur, bat wings, and wearing a tuxedo shirt. I snarled at it and tried prying my talons from its grasp, but another set of hooves wrapped themselves around my wings to cease my flailing. I glanced down to see another demon that looked very similar to the first, but this one had slightly lighter red fur. I screeched at them and attempted to claw the first demon, but their grip was too strong. My feathers fluffed up as I felt a rush of fear at being forcibly held like this, the familiar fight or flight of my animal instincts screaming at me to get away.

But before I could do anything else, the two goat demons deposited me onto the ground, and I immediately sprang to my feet and backed away. My back hit a wall of railings, and I quickly realized I was on someone’s balcony. “Oh my gosh! Are you okay, little guy?! I am so, so, so, so sorry!”

I looked up to see what looked like a young woman with shockingly pale skin, red cheeks, long blond hair, and wearing a formal red suit. She seemed extremely panicked and was reaching out to me with a hand. I snapped at her with a hiss, and she retreated back a few steps. The two goat-like demons flew up to me with warning growls, and I fluffed up with a loud screech.

“Razzle, Dazzle,” the woman called out. “Give it some space, the poor thing’s probably confused.” The two goat demons glanced at her before backing away, moving to hover behind the woman rather than a foot away from me, but their scowls still remained.

I hissed at them again, and the woman crouched down from where she was standing, thankfully not getting any closer. Now that the adrenaline was wearing off, I could analyze her with a more critical eye. She appeared to be human, which was already a strange thing to see because we were in Hell. But upon closer look, I could see fangs barely hidden in the back of her mouth, and her skin so pale it was almost white. She was probably the most human-like demon I’ve ever seen.

“Are you okay?” the demon asked again, this time with a much more calm tone. I inwardly bristled at being spoken to like a defenseless animal, but I had to remind myself that I probably looked like one. “My name is Charlie. I just want to help you.”

Chapter 23: Chapter 23

Chapter Text

The name Charlie was familiar to me, but I was having trouble remembering where exactly I had heard it. I didn’t let myself relax, and I screeched at the demon again, and she retraced her hand again. She didn’t get up, but she did turn to one of the goat demons still hovering next to her. “Oh, no. What if I hurt the poor thing? Birds get hurt easily, don’t they? I hope it can still fly.”

I wasn’t concerned with her words in the slightest, but they did make me think. The fireworks that were shot off exploded right next to me, and I didn’t know if it had singed my flight feathers or caused internal damage. I took a few steps to the side, still fluffed up and eying the two goat demons, and I mentally assessed my body for any damage. My legs felt just fine, but it was when I tried to move my wings did I finally realize what was wrong.

I flared out my wings when I was still running on adrenaline, but now that I calmed down, I realized that my right wing ached badly. I experimentally tried rotating my shoulder, only to wince at the flare of pain that ran down my spine from the joint. It must’ve slipped out of its socket when I was flailing in the goat demon’s grip while in midair. It was times like these that I truly realized how vulnerable I really was. I have killed countless Overlords and even more regular Sinners, but I was in no way stronger than my victims. I used stealth and strategy to take them out before they even knew they were being targeted. But I had a weak body, and I knew it. I hated it.

“Well, I can’t leave it here like this,” the demon lamented. She was staring straight at me, but I knew she wasn’t talking to me. I didn’t know if she was speaking to the goat demons or to herself or if she was thinking aloud, but I was too focused on trying to figure a way out of this. I had originally left my territory early so I could collect weapons before the other Overlords, but this fireworks incident has changed plans. I had never tried to fly with a damaged wing before, but I was confident that I could at least glide. It would be painful, but I could at least make it to the radio tower for Alastor to find me.

“It’s hurt, and it might take off if I leave,” Charlie used sadly. I had to hold back a hiss when I realized that she saw me wince in pain when I tried to move my wing. I was only partially paying attention to the demon and the two goats next to her as my higher faculties attempted to make a plan to get out of here. I then huffed under my breath. Flying to the radio tower was definitely not a good idea. There was no way I was going to let Alastor see me like this; he would never let me hear the end of it.

“Come on, I just want to help,” Charlie tried reaching for me again. “You wouldn’t want your owner to see you hurt, right?” I couldn’t help but tilt my head at her from that last statement. But I then remembered that I had a deer necklace hanging around my neck, so she probably took that as a sign that I was another Sinner’s pet. Charlie pursed her lips in thought, and my eyes were then drawn to one of the goat demons as it suddenly lit up with seemingly an idea before zipping away into the building.

I didn’t know much about bird anatomy, but from what I’ve seen with humans (and this would most likely translate to demons generally) is that fixing a dislocated joint usually meant just shoving it back into place. I have never gotten seriously injured while in this form, and that statement alone was an odd thing to think. I’ve been stuck in the body of an owl for over three quarters of a century, and in all that time, I’ve never gotten so much as a broken bone or sprained joint.

The goat demon came back out to the balcony, and it flew up to Charlie with a grin. It was proudly holding a dead rat in its hooves, and the woman looked disgusted. But she gingerly took the Hellborn animal from the winged goat with an uncomfortable smile that told me that she did not want what was brought to her but was too polite to turn it down.

She then jolted in realization and slapped a hand to her forehead with a quiet curse word. “They say the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach, right?” she cheerily asked them, and the two goat demons nodded with matching grins. Charlie then held the rat in front of her like a peace offering, but I could still see the uncomfortable disgust twisting the corner of her mouth.

I hissed at her again. I needed her to leave so I could fix my wing, but I knew she wasn’t going to because of her mini rant earlier. And I had to question why she was trying so hard to “help”. The first thought that came to my mind was that she legitimately felt bad for dislocating my wing, but the second, and more plausible one was that she recognized the amulet around my neck. She was probably freaking out because he knew he had just injured an animal that “belonged” to the Radio Demon.

Charlie eventually sighed and glanced at the two little demons still hovering next to her head. She then sent me a smile and gently tossed the dead rat in my direction. I dared to shift my focus to it for a moment, but a flash of movement made my eyes go back to the other demon. She stood up with a grunt as crouching for so long has made her knees ache slightly. And, without taking her eyes off of me, she took several steps back until she vanished into the darkness of the room she had come from. The two little goats followed her, but I could still hear them flapping their wings right around the corner. I snorted. She was probably trying to stay out of sight so I would take the rat but didn’t know that I could still see her peeking around the corner.

But I sighed and straightened up, letting my feathers finally rest against my back. This “Charlie” character was almost certainly genuine with her attempts to help, but it was most likely because she did not want to suffer the Radio Demon’s wrath. So that meant that her and her goat lackeys were not going to try to hurt me or capture me.

I took a look at the injured wing and tried to move it again. A flash of pain ran down my body from the shoulder joint, and I scowled as I ran through ideas on how to fix it. The bars of the balcony behind me could probably be used to push my wing back into place. It wasn’t the best idea, but it was the only one I had. I suppose I was going to have to skip this year’s collecting of Exorcist weapons.

I slipped my wing between two of the bars and positioned myself on the ground. I couldn’t reach my shoulder joint very easily with my talons, so this was the best way to go. And with a heavy shove, I pushed the wing back into place with a choked yelp. I heard a gasp behind me, and I didn’t even have to look back to know that the demon was watching me trying to fix my wing.

I sucked in a breath and rotated my shoulder to check it, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it had worked. There was still pain there, but it was now a dull ache rather than a pulsing hurt. I preened my feathers for a moment before jumping onto the balcony railing to leave, but the waft of fresh blood caught my attention. I looked back down to see that the dead rat was still there, and my treacherous stomach lurched hungrily. Who was I to turn down a free meal?

I jumped back down and grasped the dead animal’s fur in my talons before leaping back up and over the railing. I didn’t know if it was curiosity or something else that compelled me to turn back and take a look at where I had just left from, and realization struck me like a bolt of lightning. The building I had just flown away from looked like it came straight out of a medieval painting. Tall towers, majestic sculptures decorating the ledges, and meticulously crafted stained glass windows adorned the castle that towered over the rest of Pentagram City like a mountain sitting next to a valley. And the name of the demon I had met finally came to me.

Charlie Morningstar, the Princess of Hell.

Chapter 24: Chapter 24

Chapter Text

I absentmindedly tapped my talons to the concrete ledge I was on in thought. I had decided to forgo collecting the angelic weapons left behind this Extermination for there was simply too much to think about at the moment. I took the dead rat and tore off a bite like it was jerky and swallowed it whole. The entire interaction with the Princess of Hell herself was a bizarre one. I have certainly heard the name, but I had no way of knowing what her character was like.

I was under the impression that she had been scared for her own safety because she knew that she had just hurt an associate of the Radio Demon, but the daughter of Lucifer Morningstar himself would not worry about the wrath of an Overlord. But if anything, she looked extremely apologetic and anxious as I stood puffed up on her balcony. It was alien to see emotions like that in a place like this, and it was even more far-fetched that the spawn of the King of Hell was the one to have such temperament.

I lazily rotated the remainder of the rat corpse in my talons in thought. It could be possible for the Princess of Hell to be so genuinely naïve. I didn’t know what she was like or even what she looked like at first, so that meant she was cooped up in that castle. And that meant she most likely didn’t know about the majority of shenanigans that go on in her own realm. I didn’t know the exact circ*mstances as to why she apparently rarely leaves the Morningstar Castle, but I did know she saw me as a regular Hellborn animal rather than another Sinner. I could use that to my advantage. I swallowed the remainder of the rat and stretched my wings out. The right one was still sore, but it was not impossible to fly for at least a few more hours.

Sinners were still coming out from their homes, and I could see the golden clock in the middle of the city wind back to counting down until the next Extermination. As I watched the usual meandering about as the state of Hell returned to the status quo. But I was not interested in the Sinners. My eyes scanned the back alleyways and next to dumpsters for any movement among the dead. Demonic scavengers usually swarmed the streets in mass around this time because of all the fresh kill littering the roads, and I had to share the skies with Hellborn avian creatures who would also leave their nests around this time to hunt for those scavengers.

I tucked in my wings as my gaze locked onto a rodent scurrying across the ground, nose to the dirty street as it followed a blood trail. I quickly snatched the Hellborn rat with my claws and snapped its neck with a swift twist before it even knew I was there. I was not hungry, so this hunt had a different purpose.

I vaguely remember something about how cats would bring dead animals to their owners as a show of affection. I was not a cat, but wild owls are capable of gratitude just like domestic felines. It was a stretch, but if Charlie Morningstar was as much of a naïve bleeding heart as I thought she was, then she would surely be over the moon that the animal she saved was thanking her. And that was my foot in the door.

Alastor paced in his room like a caged tiger. He's been acting out of sorts ever since that incident in the radio tower. He’s caught himself several times tapping the links around his neck with a sick sort of fascination on his face, and he seemed to be much more alert whenever Athena was in the room with him. Before that confrontation, he was calm and composed, but now he would occasionally twitch when her glowing green eyes fell directly on him, and his ears would swivel in the direction of her wings when she would fly next to him in the street.

The deer demon cursed himself for having such uncontrolled reactions. He knew that whenever his owner would see these displays, they never failed to grab her complete and undivided attention. The predator in her could easily recognize prey behavior when she saw it, and he knew other Sinners with carnivorous traits could also sense it. Alastor had gotten much more frenzied lately, he was much more susceptible to fits of anger against other demons, and his attacks against those who tried to approach him were indiscriminate and ruthless.

But the days where Athena would leave him to his own devices were much worse. If she was watching him from on a lamppost or hovering over him as she soared from one building to another, he at least had the comfort of knowing where she was so she couldn’t sneak up on him. Alastor was afraid of Athena, and the realization burned him like a hot branding iron.

And the owl, that damned perceptive owl, noticed his change in behavior over the past few days. One day as he was walking to the butcher shop, he felt her settle on his shoulder, and to the deer’s utter and complete dismay, he felt himself instantly relax. Alastor was almost certain that Athena was torturing him on purpose. She knew how much he valued control, and she had found some way to take away the control he valued the most. Involuntary shivers ran through his veins when her talons grazed the invisible metal around his neck, and he felt his hand reach up to scratch Athena under her chin. He felt like a prisoner in his own body, and he was still no closer to figuring out what sort of sick spell she had cast on him when his guard was down.

Once again, he was impressed with Athena’s schemes. It was just like the time where she was kidnapped by Vox; the owl had played both of them like chess pieces and had gotten out of a deadly situation. And to top it all off, she had then revealed how thoroughly she had manipulated him, which was yet another insult.But that just made him think. Athena was a very secretive individual. The entire reason as to why he was under Contract in the first place was for her to take over the hierarchy of Hell from the shadows. He was the red herring to her schemes and plots, and at first, he was content with that. It gave him unrivaled power and authority in the underworld along with the freedom to do what he wished with his time off.

However, Athena had explicitly told him about her plans after she had escaped for the sole purpose of lording her power over him. And it made him wonder why she wasn’t doing the same with the Soul Contract he was bound under. If she was so confident in her hold on him, then wouldn’t she tell him all the details of the Contract just to show him that there was no way out? But she didn’t, and she didn’t reveal to him how she had made his body react the way it does whenever she would tap the links of the chain.

Athena was a paranoid demon, so her not telling him about the specific details of his deal implied that there was a way out. It gave him a small but noticeable flare of hope. There was a slim chance of finding a backdoor to his deal, but a slim chance was better than nothing.

Alastor’s grin turned genuine as he allowed himself to bask in the sensation of euphoria brought upon by Athena brushing against the shackles around his neck. With a noticeable skip in his step, the Radio Demon thrust a pitch black tendril through the chest of a nearby Sinner with the owl still sitting on his shoulder. He spun his cane in his hand while thinking back to when he provoked her into taking over the casino industry. Succeeding with this plan would be perfect revenge for doing whatever she did to him in the radio tower.

Alastor was in much better spirits now that he knew for certain that his Soul Contract had a way out. He just needed to find it. And he needed to find it before the spell Athena had cast consumed him entirely.

Chapter 25: Chapter 25

Chapter Text

Something was wrong. I could hear scraping and scuttling inside my apartment, and I knew from the sound that it was not some random Hellborn animal. There were intruders in my home. I’ll admit that I was impressed by the audacity of these Sinners to not only intrude on an Overlord’s territory, but to intrude in an Overlord’s home. By public knowledge, this apartment building belonged to the Radio Demon, one of the most powerful Sinners in all of Hell.

Alastor had given me my Sinner form so I could confront the intruders. I didn't know why he was so eager to oblige, but I couldn't think abut it right now. I quietly jumped onto the windowsill and looked through the glass for anything out of place. I saw that several doors had been opened, and I could see shadows moving in the locked room where I store my angelic weapons. The doorknob had been cleaved off and was sitting in a pile of splinters on the floor. With a growl, I slowly opened the window and slipped inside.

I withdrew my battle claws from a pouch on my belt and slipped them on my hands. I flexed my talons now reinforced with angelic metal as I approached the door. I was thankful for my owl quirks in this instance for the bird of prey’s affinity for stealth. I could hear the two intruders hastily opening several boxes in my storage room and quiet chatter between the two of them. They had found my weapons supply, and that was unacceptable. Neither of them were going to leave this building alive.

I carefully looked around the corner and saw what appeared to be two teenage girls poking through my inventory, excited but nervous chatter filling the room. I did not enjoy disposing of children, but nobody could know about my collection of angelic weapons that I have been collecting over the decades. I waited for one of them to turn my back to me before I suddenly leaped out in a flurry of feathers. The two of them shrieked in alarm as I grabbed one of them and pinned her arms behind her back with one hand while wrapping my talons around her throat with the other one.

“Odette!” the other girl shrieked, and I had to assume that was the name of the demon I was holding. She attempted to struggle free at first, but she was quickly stopped by my talons digging into her throat with enough force to puncture skin. A drop of blood trickled down her skin, and I could feel her trembling in my hold.

“Don’t move,” I hissed. “You two obviously aren’t very bright, breaking into an Overlord’s house like this.”

“Wait, wait, wait!” the other teenage demon frantically shouted. She was a Sinner with dark skin and white frizzy hair, a sheep demon most likely. “Don’t hurt her, please! We’ll leave! We’ll leave and never come back!” The demon I was holding had pale skin, red shades, and blond hair; I couldn't quite pinpoint the specific animal species she was.

“How stupid do you think I am?” my lip curled up in a snarl. I could feel my feathers stand on end, outwardly showing hostility. “Do you honestly believe that I would let you two just walk away after seeing my weapons vault? Hell, the crime of simply breaking into my home is enough to put you bitches down.” I normally didn’t swear, it was yet another habit I had picked up from Alastor, but the pun was too good to pass up.

“I’ll give you anything, just don’t… just let her go!”

That made me pause. I narrowed my eyes and tapped the captive’s throat with a single silver claw, “Anything is a big word. What have you to offer?”

That made both demons freeze for a moment. I was in no mood to watch the tiny hamster wheel in their brains turn frantically, so I decided to spell it out for them. “What could you possibly have to offer an Overlord for daring to trespass in her home and go snooping about?”

“I…” the sheep demon stuttered, looking absolutely terrified. “P-please don’t kill my sister. We were just… we just wanted to see where all the angelic weapons were going a-after the Exterminations…”

“Well, you seem to have found out,” I replied. My tail feathers flared out and I tightened my grip on the other demon’s neck, making her choke and sob. I twisted her arms further up her back, and I could feel her instinctively start struggling in a blind panic. The lights in the apartment started to flicker and die, and the radio in the kitchen began to scream. “Which means I can’t let either of you leave here a̴̡̢̨̘̠͓̱͙̝͔͇͕͚̣͂̌̔̉̍̓͋͊̌̾̀͜͜͜͝ ̷͈͙̾̅͆̒͊͒͑̾̀̀̽̋͑͘͘͠͝l̴̙̼̤͋̄͊̈͂̅̈́ ̴̧̩̪̝̞͕̜̬͕͔̻̪̫̬̱̑͐͛́̓̈́̄̔̈́̔̏̕̚i̴̼̗̠͎͑̊̿̒̇͑͛̔͠ ̵̛͐͗̔̓̌̂̐̀͌̒̇͘͘͜v̴̨̘̩͈͙̩̰͓̤͉̺̗̾̊͝ ̶̡̛̩̱̣͍̮͕͓̯͋̾̐̔̎̓̃̂͛̀̾͊̇e̶͓̭͘.

“My soul!” the sheep demon cried, tears streaming down her face. At her words, the shadows receded and the demonic noises cut out in an instant. “You can have… my soul… just let her go…”

“Clara…” the captive demon whimpered, and I had to assume that Clara was the name of the sheep demon. “D-don’t…”

I narrowed my eyes and growled. I did not wish to have the souls of such insignificant Sinners. I had standards, and it would be an insult to the souls I currently own to put these brat intruders in the same caliber as them. But I had to silence my pride for a moment to seriously consider it. These demons may be weak, but every chess player needs pawns.

Vine-like chains burst from the hardwood flooring with blood-colored roses sprouting from a few of the thorny links. I threw the demon named Odette in front of me, and she landed on the floor with a gasp followed by heavy breathing. Her sister immediately kneeled down to check on her as she rubbed her sore throat. I took a step forward, my black talons tapping the ground and making them both look up at me. Acidic green fire engulfed my hand as I extended it out, “It’s a deal, then.

Carmilla paced her office, a sickening feeling of unease coiling in her stomach. Clara and Odette have been gone for a while. The Extermination was over, but other demons were out on the streets collecting angelic weapons left behind just like her daughters were. She was confident that they could handle themselves, but it didn’t soothe the anxiety she felt. She couldn’t help but think of the worst possible scenarios that could’ve happened to them out there. A violent Sinner could’ve tried attacking them over a holy spear that was found in the body of a deceased demon, and they could be fighting for their lives.

But her fears were instantly quelled when the door opened, and the two teenage demons walked in, both thankfully unscathed. Carmilla hurriedly crossed her office in quick strides to embrace them both, “Thank the stars that you’re both safe. Did something happen? Why were you out so late?”

The weapons dealer stepped back and put her hands on each of her daughters’ shoulders to look them in the eye. Now that the adrenaline had worn off, she could see a small scratch on Odette’s throat, and both of them looked as if they were just crying and both had expressions of utter distraught and defeat. “What happened?” Her voice was much softer this time, and a single black claw carefully wiped the blood that was dribbling down her eldest’s neck.

“Mom, we- mh!” All three of them jumped in alarm when Clara started speaking but was then quickly interrupted when several glowing green lines appeared over her mouth taking the appearance of sewing thread that was stitching her lips together. The sheep demon tried to open her mouth a few times but failed miserably, and fresh tears welled up in her eyes. It took the weapons dealer several moments to fully comprehend what she was seeing. She could recognize the soul-binding magic of an Overlord anywhere. And she then knew why her girls were taking so long to come home.

That relief slowly flowing through Carmilla’s veins then gave way to unyielding rage. Her red eyes narrowed dangerously as her magic flared in anger. “Who did this to you?

Chapter 26: Chapter 26

Chapter Text

I had carved my name into the inside of the amulet around my neck. I normally wouldn’t care for such a thing, but because I was interacting with someone who thought I was an animal, I figured it would be an important thing to add. I didn’t want Charlie to call me something degrading or insulting. Her now knowing my name stopped the possibility of a stupid nickname, but it did not stop the infuriating baby talk.

“Your name is Athena?” Charlie clipped the necklace back around my neck after she read the handwriting carved into the holy steel. “So you’re a girl? Well, you’re very pretty.” She tried to scratch under my chin, and I had to stop myself from tearing her fingers off. So instead I snapped at her warningly and then began to preen my feathers.

I don’t know if it was because I hadn’t encountered this level of optimism in decades or if I was simply not used to interacting with others besides Alastor that was causing me such levels of discomfort. But Charlie, to her credit, recognized my hissing and snipping as signs that I don’t want to be touched, so I spent the majority of my time at the Morningstar Castle with her two goat lackeys called Razzle and Dazzle.

It did not take very long for the two little demons to warm up to me. They apparently only ever were with Charlie and did not get much time to themselves. Once I had started engaging in their game of keep away and play fighting, the two started to become excited to see me fly by the castle every day, even going so far as to meet me in the sky before I could land on the balcony.

I had decided to bring a dead rat to the castle every once in a while, and I’ll admit that it was amusing to watch the Princess of Hell become squeamish at the presence of a dead animal on her doorstep. The first time I had brought one to her, she practically squealed with joy at a frequency I swore that only dogs could hear. While the sight of a bloody rodest corpse disgusted her, it was the sentiment that was bringing her joy. I did not plan on dropping by every day, but showing up for just a few minutes a week to hang out with Razzle and Dazzle would do wonders with building trust. I had to assume that Charlie was so trusting to everyone and everything around her because she did not have to fear other bloodthirsty demons on the street.

Razzle decided to try getting my attention by jumping on my back. I managed to keep myself on my feet by ducking under his hooves when he lunged at me, causing the little goat to roll across the ground and crash into Dazzle. I jumped onto the railing and began preening my flight feathers again. Charlie was content with just watching the three of us and didn’t intrude on three innocent demonic animals tussling for fun.

“I’d like to meet your owner sometime, Athena,” the Princess of Hell mused, and I turned my head to face her, barely managing to keep the shock off my face. It was certainly odd to see someone who hadn’t heard of the Radio Demon. Either that, or she was so out of touch with her own kingdom to know who he was. Another possibility was that she was too far up on the totem pole to know or care who he was. “What’re they like? I bet they’re really nice. They take such good care of you, your feathers are always so soft. Oh! Does your owner know you come here every day?”

Charlie had a habit of just rattling off anything in her mind. From her perspective, I was just an owl and couldn’t respond or even understand anything she was saying. The Princess was most likely a social butterfly who had no opportunity to actually socialize. She wore her heart on her sleeve and was always eager to talk about anything and everything.

“Where… is your owner?” the demon royal’s tone was suddenly hesitant and almost melancholy. I turned my head to face her, and it was then that I realized I was staring at the golden clocktower in the center of Pentagram City. Charlie followed where my gaze was previously pointing, and her face fell. “Did your owner… die… in the last Extermination?”

I tapped my talon against the stone I was standing on. I supposed I could understand how she came to that conclusion. I did run into her after the Extermination had ended, and I was flying high enough to search for something. Perhaps she thought I was looking for my “owner”.

“Oh, Athena…” she lamented as she ran a hand down my back. I forced my feathers to stay down despite every fiber of my being wanting to stand up in an offended bristle. I seriously hoped she didn’t get any ideas about housing me in the Morningstar Castle. I still needed to come and go as I pleased. “I really wish I could do something about this…”

I had to tuck my wings in and choke back twitching as the Princess continued to run her hand down my back. “It breaks my heart to see my people dying every year like this. I get that Hell is overpopulated, but there has to be another way. I don’t know if dad can expand the realm somehow so we can house more Sinners, but new Sinners are arriving every day and that would only solve the problem for so long. If dad even could do that, anyway…”

Razzle and Dazzle seemed to pick up on the atmosphere. The two little goats stopped their wrestling and hopped up to sit on the railing next to me and Charlie. Dazzle jumped off the ledge and flew up to hover next to the Princess’s head. He patted her head with a sympathetic look on his face, and I realized that this was something she had ranted about often.

I hummed under my breath and rubbed my head with the end of my wing. It was an interesting predicament. The annual Extermination of demons due to an overpopulation problem was the first fact I had uncovered all those years ago when I had first manifested in Hell. But never once had I ever thought about a way to circumvent the cleansing with another way of maintaining population control.

I never cared about the subject, but the problem solver in me was thrilled to work on a new puzzle. Since expanding Hell’s borders was not a valid option, the only other alternative was to find new housing for new souls. Earth did not have to worry too much about overpopulation because of a human’s limited lifespan, but Sinners were immortal unless they fell to angelic weapons. I had not even the slightest clue as to where Sinners could go if not Hell. This was certainly an interesting brain teaser.

But I did have to wonder why Charlie seemed to care so much. Was she so sheltered that she didn’t even know what the Sinners were like? They were the scum of the world, and I knew that I was no better. But I was not blind to those who were down here because of unfortunate circ*mstances out of their control. I was no stranger to the drug and p*rn industry. Those with addictions often feel like they have no choice but to keep indulging in sin and debauchery. But I knew that if these people were dealt better hands in life, they could’ve ended up in Heaven. If they had the resources to better themselves, then they could. Sometimes people make wrong decisions out of desperation or fear, but when it comes to divine judgment, it wasn’t the intentions that were judged, but the actions themselves.

I hid my face in the crook of my wing and pretended to preen my feathers to hide my groan. I did not want to deal with this sudden existential crisis right now. There was a lot to think about, and I had better things to do. But I knew the solution seeker in me was not going to let this issue remain unsolved.

I do believe that there are some demons in Hell who truly did not deserve to be in Hell, but they had little choice. That was something princess bleeding heart would certainly believe as well since she seems to care so much. And since she cares so much about the well-being of the scum of the world by Heaven’s standards, then she would also most likely believe that they can change if given the chance and the resources.

But since Charlie was royalty, she most likely did have an abundance of resources. Athena grinned, this idea was a very far-fetched one, but if the Princess of Hell was desperate enough, then she would be willing to trade anything for a solution to this overpopulation problem.

And anything was a very big word.

Chapter 27: Chapter 27

Notes:

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https://www.tumblr.com/eldritch-hiraeth/743861910543515648/athena-sinner-form-from-radio-demon-duo-thanks

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

“Holy sh*t, Val, are you seeing this?!” Vox could barely hold back his laughter, his scarlet eyes never leaving the monitor in front of him. A mad grin split his face as all the other screens surrounding the one he was hyper fixated on showed other photos and angles of the target he was talking about. The largest monitor directly in front of him showed an image of a bird-like Sinner with black feathers walking down the street next to what appeared to be a humanoid red glitch.

The Television Demon pinched the screen to zoom in on the neck of the demon. “Look at this! That deer head necklace! It’s the same damn thing that the radio f*cker’s bird wears!” Vox was practically spitting at the screen. He jabbed the monitor with a single neon blue claw with enough force to crack the screen. “And the eyes! It’s the same f*cking color! Two, F, F, nine, two, four!”

“What sort of party drugs has Vox been smoking?” a female Overlord with red frizzy hair raised an eyebrow at the near-feral TV Demon on the other side of the room. Normally, she would be on her phone and only half-paying attention to the world around her, but Vox’s temper tantrum was too entertaining to look away from. Velvette was a new Overlord who was recently welcomed into the Vee’s. “Whatever he’s had, I want some.”

“Oh no, baby,” Valentino waved a hand in her general direction before taking a drag on his cigar. “This is pretty normal for him. Voxxy here seems to have some sort of hate boner for the Radio Demon.”

“TV versus radio?” Velvette gave Vox a dry look. “How has Vox not curbstomped this guy yet? Who the hell listens to radio anymore?”

“Vox does~” the moth Sinner replied in a smug sing-song tone. “He made a tier list of Alastor’s previous one thousand broadcasts last week, ranking them from bad to worse.”

“Shut the f*ck UP, VAL!” the TV Demon took his eyes off the screens to glare at his coworker, but Vox’s shouting did nothing to erase Valentino’s grin. In a slash of blue sparks, Vox was in the pimp’s face, baring his fangs with a snarl. The moth demon was sitting on the couch and Vox was standing, but because of their height difference, they were currently eye level with each other. “You are coming with me to the Jackpot Casino tonight!”

“A date?” Valentino raised an eyebrow before exhaling a puff of pink smoke in the other Overlord’s face. “Sorry, Voxxy. I’m not in the mood for foreplay tonight. If we’re going to f*ck, then let’s just get straight to it.”

Velvette rolled her eyes at her coworkers and took out her phone, “I think you two should go ahead and f*ck. The sexual tension in the room was startin’ to suffocate me.”

“No!” Vox growled and zipped back to the wall of screens on the other side of the room. “It’s where they’re going!” he jabbed the screen again. “Alastor needs to learn not to f*ck with my television anymore!”

Ever since the TV Demon tried to get to the Radio Demon by kidnapping his pet bird, Alastor has responded by cutting his signal at random times. Most of those instances were cases where Vox was trying to tarnish Alastor’s reputation, and even then he didn’t always tamper with his rival’s electronics. Instead, the two Overlords engaged in a battle of wit while on their respective media outlets, with the deer more often than not coming out on top. His arrogant attitude and complete disregard for Vox as a threat never failed to get under the TV Demon’s skin.

Vox knew that Alastor was letting him keep his career as an Overlord, and the thought infuriated him to no end. He was so nonexistent on the Radio Demon’s radar that Alastor had simply let Vox continue to build his empire without even trying to stop him. If anything, the deer was encouraging the TV Demon to keep his career by constantly poking and provoking him. Vox knew that Alastor was simply using him as entertainment, but that just made the TV Demon want to crush the deer even more so.

But as much as Vox hated to admit it, he was limited. Alastor had full control over radio waves all throughout Pentagram City and could put a stop to Voxtech whenever he wished. It was a variable Vox would not allow. And the worst part was that the public had no idea that Alastor had such power over Voxtech, so whenever the TV Demon’s tech would glitch out and fail because of the Radio Demon, Vox would lose customers and instead receive bad ratings, which over the years has caused his career to hit a plateau. Because the Radio Demon had such unlimited control over the TV Demon’s devices, it was next to impossible to have a conversation in which both parties had equal voices.

The only way to negotiate with Alastor would be to have a face-to-face meeting with the man, and if Vox was being honest with himself, it was long overdue. And when the TV Demon found out that Alastor had plans on going to the Jackpot Casino, Vox remembered that the new Casino Demon had implemented a rule that stated that any and all demons that set foot in the establishment were required to offer their soul as collateral to prevent fights and cheating within the casino.

Vox had to admit that it was an ingenious strategy for an Overlord, and he could see how the demon named Husk managed to take over the casino industry overnight the way he had. This rule confined Alastor’s power because he knew that if he caused trouble, then he would be at the Casino Demon’s mercy, so it was the perfect place for Overlords to discuss business without worry of a fight breaking out.

“We’re going to the Jackpot Casino because Alastor is going,” Vox’s bloodthirsty snarl twisted upwards into a devious grin as he continued to watch the footage on his giant blue screens. “That radio f*cker won’t cross me again. Since his piece of sh*t media is dying, all he has left is reputation. And I have to wonder just what he’ll pay me to keep quiet about his little relationship with his pet bird.

Valentino got up from his spot on the couch and sauntered over to the wall of screens. He crossed his lower pair of arms and co*cked a hip, “The f*ck are you talking about?”

Vox turned to his coworker with a near-deranged grin on his face, “That bird bitch next to Alastor. It’s his pet owl given a Sinner form.”

“Ohohoho~” Valentino snickered, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively. He wasn’t exactly the brightest, but he was finally picking up on what Vox was hinting at. “So the big, bad Radio Demon is crushing on his pet, and he conjured her a more humanoid form so he could f*ck her without it being weird. If he wanted a good lay, then he could’ve come to me~ But I will admit that Alastor did a fantastic job with molding a f*ckdoll for himself.”

Vox rolled his eyes at Valentino getting sidetracked and just let him get it out of his system.

“Sure, I’ll go on this little double date with you, Voxxy. Just so long as I get to have some time with the pretty bird while you talk to our old friend,” the moth Sinner purred. He took a long and deliberate drag of his cigar and then let out a puff of his signature pheromones as he eyed the owl-like demon on the TV Demon’s screen. “I’ve been known to be rather… persuasive~”

“Oh yeah. I wonder how the deer will react when he sees his precious little pet being f*cked into oblivion,” Vox grinned madly, only thinking about how this would humiliate his rival instead of how it would financially help his business partner.

“Sure, that too,” Val chuckled.

“Would you two just f*ck already?!” Velvette threw over her shoulder as she marched out of the room.

Notes:

guys your sexually charged comments are making me laugh SO HARD you have no idea lmao

Chapter 28: Chapter 28

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

“Your poker face is sh*t,” Husk grumbled as he flipped over three cards on the table. It was a five of diamonds, ace of shades, and a five of hearts, and he knew that one more card would give him a quad. It was already a strong start, so he kept his face blank as he took another swig from the bottle in the corner of the table.Athena was sitting across the table with her own hand of cards, and it was obvious from the moment she sat down that she wasn’t exactly the most experienced in poker. Her feathers were tucked under the elbow that was propped up on the table with her chin resting on her palm while she looked at her cards with a thoughtful look on her face.

The Radio Demon was snickering next to her from his own spot at the table, but Husk couldn’t tell if it was because of the owl Sinner’s novice playstyle or if he was holding a goldmine in his claws. The Gambling Demon couldn’t get a read on that guy. He was creepy, but he was more fun to play against than his boss.

When Athena first walked into the Jackpot Casino, Husk didn’t recognize her at first. She was just another Sinner who had come to waste her life away in one of his buildings, but when she sat down at the table with him, he finally got a good look at her. And that piercing green gaze he would recognize anywhere. The GamblingOverlord hid his nerves behind his drink of hard whiskey, but he had found it difficult to keep his anxiety hidden when he saw Alastor sit down next to her. He had to roll his eyes because of course the sad*stic owl was friends with the sad*stic deer.

Athena raised by ten dollars, and Husk immediately matched it. The owl raised an eyebrow at him from the speed in which he tossed more in the pot but didn’t say anything. She may be a sh*t player, but she was still very sharp. It was just the three of them at the table, but nobody has folded yet. Alastor had already built up a healthy amount of chips he had gotten from other games throughout the night, and Husk had seen Athena hovering nearby, presumably to watch him play. So this was probably her first poker game, and she had picked a fight with the best player in the Pentagram.

“Well, isn’t this a pleasant surprise,” a smug and completely unsurprised voice piped up behind Alastor. Husk heard the faint radio humming behind the deer hum dangerously, and the Gambling Demon narrowed his eyes at them. The TV Demon was hovering behind Alastor with a smirk, and the deer’s grin curled upwards in a silent snarl.

Husk was immediately on alert. You would have to be living under a literal rock to not know about the bitter rivalry between the Vee’s and Alastor. And if just having Vox here wasn’t bad enough, Valentino sauntered up to the table and towered over Athena’s chair. “Ooh, who’s this pretty little thing?” The owl Sinner just blinked with a bored expression, completely unfazed and unamused by the moth demon’s proximity. “A two and a four? Oh baby, your hand looks more like a foot. But hey, some people are into that~”

“You two need to f*ck off,” Husk snapped at the two Vee’s. “I could get you kicked out for revealing another player’s hand like that.”

“Oh well,” Athena threw her cards on the table as Husk began to toss her and Alastor the chips they had thrown into the pot so they could start the ruined round over. “I wasn’t going to win the game, anyway. I know you have a five and a king in your hand, Husker.”

The Gambling Overlord visibly flinched, and the owl’s smirk widened. He growled and threw his cards on the table, revealing that Athena was right. “Cheating could also get you kicked out,” he grumbled.

“Who’s cheating?” the owl replied innocently and waved a hand. “You have a rather nasty habit of flipping the exact cards you need before showdown. And since you happened to have called so quickly last round, I figured you had a quad or higher. It was just a matter of pattern recognition.”

Husk huffed and took a swig from his bottle, not bothering to respond, and he could practically feel his boss’s smug grin on him when he didn’t have anything to say to her. She managed to figure out Husk's ability as an Overlord boosted his luck, and she had used that to predict his next cards by looking at the ones on the table.

“Ooh, how interesting,” Valentino leaned down, his face hovering practically right next to Athena’s, much to her annoyance. “Looks like there’s a brain in that pretty little head of yours. You know, that can be a bit of a turn off. But I know how to fix that.” A pair of his hands began to rub Athena’s shoulders as a puff of pink smoke was blown in her face.

The owl finally reacted. Her feathers stood up, and a hissing sound was humming from her throat. Husk slammed his bottle down and stood up with enough force to shake the table, a single white claw pointed at Valentino threateningly. “Hey! No magic sh*t in my casino! One more warning, and I’ll own your damn soul, motherf*cker!”

The taller Sinner only shrugged, seemingly not phased by Husk’s words and kept his close proximity to Athena. The Gambling Overlord noticed the owl rubbing her eyes with a groan as Valentino kept massaging her shoulders, and the cat growled. He knew about Valentino’s pheromone bullsh*t, so it was obvious he was trying to get his boss into bed with him. Husk wasn’t fond of Athena, but the thought of this pimp trying to take advantage of her like this made his stomach churn.

“Keep your pet moth on a leash, old chum,” Alastor growled at Vox. His smile never faltered, but the corner of his lip curled up in a snarl. His red claws tapped the edge of the table, clearly fighting the urge to tear the TV Demon’s throat out.“Oh, you wanna talk about me having a pet, Alastor?” Vox matched the Radio Demon’s forced grin, blue sparks dancing across his suit.

Husk turned his attention to the other two Overlords at his table, “And that goes for you assholes, too. No magic bullsh*t in my casino! Now piss off!”

“But we’re not here to start trouble,” Vox shrugged innocently, his grin never leaving his face. He then turned to the owl, completely ignoring the angry radio static next to him. “Athena, right? You don’t look so good, so why don’t you go with Val here for some fresh air. I’ll take your spot at the table. Alastor and I are old friends, and we would like to catch up.”

Without waiting for a response, Valentino smirked and hoisted the owl out of her chair. After she got to her feet, he practically dragged her to the door. Athena still appeared to be rather dazed and didn’t fight much as she was guided out of the casino and to where Husk would assume was the hotel next door. The Gambling Demon growled and dug his claws into the table, leaving punctures in the aging wood. A part of him wanted to go after them, but he knew that he wasn’t a match for Valentino. He may be an Overlord, but he did not have near the kind of raw power other Overlords had because he did not kill his victims. Athena did. But she was skilled in sneak attacks; he didn’t know how she could fight a demon, let alone an Overlord, one-on-one.

“What. Is your game. V̶̨̩̫̼͉̙͇̯̥̱̤̇O̶͚̣̺̟͔̮̫̤̝̾̅̊͛̅̀̈́̊̂̌͠͝X̴̨̨̡̛̩̼̳̖̪̦̪̗̅͑̍?” Alastor snarled, his words broken up between flashes of bright green as he flexed his magic threateningly.

“Oh, what’s the matter, old man?” Vox grinned smugly as he sat down in the chair Athena was just in. “Can’t stand the thought of someone else playing with your pet bird? I would say that I thought such activities were beneath you, but that would be a lie.”

The deer narrowed his eyes dangerously, mind racing as the radio static humming from his cane ramped up in pitch. The TV Demon put his elbow on the table and raised an eyebrow at Husk, making a show of ignoring Alastor just to try to piss him off. “Hey, puss*cat. Deal me in or leave us be. I got some business to discuss with my old friend here.”

Notes:

next chapter is going to be GRAPHIC
make sure you read the warnings i put in the beginning notes of the next chapter before reading it, i'll put a summary of what happened in the end notes

Chapter 29: Chapter 29

Notes:

WARNING: sexual assault, blood and gore, extreme depictions of violence, cannibalism

chapter summary in the end notes

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Athena’s brain felt like honey, and she had to ask herself if she had accidentally had an alcoholic drink when she meant to just stick to water tonight. She was already uncoordinated with her feet because she was unused to the unfamiliar joints, but being dizzy on top of that made it almost impossible to walk straight. But there was a pair of hands guiding her through the casino and to the door.

And once Athena was out of the building and into the cool night air, she felt herself immediately being pushed into the wall and lifted off the ground. The owl blearily opened her eyes with a snarl, and the sight she was met with made her feathers stand on end. Valentino, the p*rn Overlord, had her pinned to the dirty brick wall in a back alley next to the casino. One hand was pressing her wrists to the wall above her head while two more were pushing her thighs apart.

Athena tried prying her claws from the Overlord’s grasp, but he was physically stronger. The owl bared her fangs and hissed, her feathers flaring up to make herself look bigger out of instinct. But the moth was unphazed by it.

“Well, aren’t you a pretty bird?” he cooed, his face dangerously close to hers. “No wonder the Radio Demon keeps you all to himself. But now that you’re away from the deer bitchboy, why not hear me out~? I bet all he does is keep you cooped up in that tower of his, but I can give you a castle all to yourself.”

Athena snarled, her lip curling up to reveal her fangs. The entire situation was completely alien to her. For the past eighty years, she has been a simple owl flying through the city, and she could count the number of demons who have gotten close enough to touch her on one hand. But this creep was all over her, pinning her down while she was too dazed by whatever he did to fight back.

She was not a fool; the owl knew of every Overlord’s signature ability. Valentino could secrete chemicals in his saliva that acted as pheromones, and those pheromones heightened a victim’s sense of lust. But Athena was not sexually aroused in the slightest. If anything, she felt an overwhelming urge to snap the moth’s neck. But she was pretty sure it was because the Overlord was trapping her against the wall.

“Ooh, we got a spicy little chiquita,” the moth purred. “Ya’know. I hear owls can swallow their food whole. Quite a useful skill to have in my profession.”

Athena snorted and managed to dig up enough cognition to sass back. “You’d know all about swallowing, wouldn’t you?” Her face split into a grin, and her tail feathers flared out as she let out a loud screech through clenched fangs. She could hear the p*rn Overlord snarling, his single golden fang glinting in the lamplight. “Do your knees hurt, you little bitch? Your boy toy seemed to be in a good mood today.”

“You’re lucky I’m in a good mood, bitch,” Valentino growled. “I’m gonna enjoy f*cking that bratty behavior out of you.”

In the next instant, his lips were on hers, and a strong grip on her bottom jaw pried her mouth open so his tongue could shoot into her mouth. Pure unfiltered rage surged through Athena’s veins. The light of the lamppost illuminating the alleyway burst in a shower of red sparks, and a feral howl echoed in the alleyway. The owl bit down with enough force to crack her own teeth, and the effect was instantaneous. Valentino gave a pained and shocked shriek and jerked his head away, but Athena didn’t release her grip.

The moth tried twisting his head to pry his tongue out from her fangs, but it instead made a splurt of blood erupt from his now torn tongue, and the dark red liquid splashed onto the owl’s cheek.

Another panicked twist from Valentino finally got himself free, but it was at the cost of finishing the tear on his tongue, completely severing it from the inside of his mouth. The p*rn Overlord stumbled back, releasing Athena from being pinned to the wall. She landed on her feet to the dirty pavement of the alleyway with the long pink muscle hanging limply from her jaws and rivers of blood flowing freely from the torn flesh.

Valentino had a hand to his face as red dribbled down his chin and got all over the front of his indigo dress shirt. He had to spit out several mouthfuls of blood as the open wound kept pumping out the precious liquid to heal the injury, his body not yet knowing that the appendage it was supplying was no longer there.

Athena was glaring at the moth the entire time he was hacking and spitting onto the ground, severed tongue still hanging from her mouth. She then made a show of swallowing it whole, still maintaining eye contact with the other Overlord, before licking the blood off of her cheek. In the next instant, her pupils dilated and her feathers stood up. The sensation brought on her by Valentino’s pheromones sharpened as soon as she swallowed that chunk of flesh.

Athena’s own elongated tongue ran across her bloodied lips as she took a few steps towards the injured moth. The familiar sensation of the hunt pumped through her veins as her nose honed in on the blood leaking from the injured prey. The owl’s talons flexed, each claw tapping the ground with every step. It felt like her blood was burning with b̷̬͔̿̓̿l̵̜͈͖̈́̆o̸̞̐̃̋o̴͈̩̎̌̚ḋ̵̫͑ͅl̶̦̥̦͂̈́̄u̸͙̖̠͑ṡ̶̩̯̩̎t̷̟̱̑̎̍ͅ, and her mouth twisted upwards in a snarling and feral grin.

“Back th- f*ck up, you crazy bitch!” Valentino roared, words slurred because of his missing tongue. He took a few panicked steps back, and something in Athena snapped.

She lunged forwards with a screech, and the p*rn Overlord swiped at her with golden claws. The owl easily latched onto his wrist with her jaws, fangs digging into his skin. Her hands viciously wrapped around two of Valentino’s other wrists while her foot got the last one. Her talons immediately began sinking into the flesh after easily puncturing skin, and the moth cried out as he struggled in her grasp. His wings flared out, both appendages trying to strike and push off the predator, and the alleyway began to fill up with hot pink smoke as the Overlord began to excrete his pheromones in a blind panic.

Athena snarled as she breathed in more of the chemicals, pure animalistic instinct possessing her to bite down on Valentino’s wrist, and a loud and sickening crunch echoed in the street as her fangs snapped the bones in her jaws. The moth practically screamed, and it was music to the owl’s ears. What could only be described as euphoria raced through her veins in a hot streak as her mouth filled with the blood of her prey.

She needed more of it. This pleasure induced by causing pain was addictive, and Athena needed more. She sank the talons of her free leg into the prey’s stomach before running her claws down, easily splitting open his abdomen in pursuit of that delicious high. Instantly, the intoxicating smell of flesh hit the owl’s nose, and she quickly twisted her head to tear the muscles and tendons attaching Valentino’s wrist to his arm.

Athena threw the severed hand to the side, now instead focusing on the rich organs and meat spilling from the open wound. The p*rn Overlord’s screams had long since become white noise in the owl’s ears, but she still relished each and every cry of pain. Athena grinned madly as she finally let go of the prey’s wrists, but they were then pinned down by dark green chains that burst from the ground and impaled his limbs. Beautiful red cascaded from every wound and coated the ground and the bird’s feathers.

Desire pumped viscously through her veins as she practically dove into the euphoric smell of fresh kill. Black talons sank into skin and tore flesh apart while fangs feasted on the still twitching and delightfully warm organs. Athena was no longer interested in her prey’s pain and suffering; she was completely fixated on the sweet juices on her tongue as she devoured the bloody flesh beneath the skin.

A bloodsoaked hyena eagerly consuming a still alive and struggling wildebeest.

Notes:

valentino gets his ass eaten

in a bad way 💅

Chapter 30: Chapter 30

Chapter Text

Athena hummed, feeling extremely hot now that Valentino had stilled and her adrenaline faded out. Her breathing picked up after she swallowed down a gulp of flesh, and her arms began to tremble slightly. The strange sensation that had overtaken her was still faintly buzzing in the back of her mind, and it was only until now did Athena finally manage to pinpoint the name of that feeling that had overtaken her so completely.

Pure unadulterated desire was still thrumming through her veins at a steady pace as she looked down and fully took in the sight before her. A demon was laying flat on his back, arms and wings splayed out, and each appendage was being soaked in blood still oozing from the various punctures and tears all over his body. His ribcage had been pried open, and several chunks of flesh were gone. Valentino’s undead heart was still beating under the bloody bone. No matter how unbearable the pain and no matter how fatal the wound, a Sinner would remain conscious for all of it. But his body had just shut down so it could instead focus on pulling itself back together.

The owl’s eyes darkened with hunger, and she felt a rush of arousal coursed through her body and possessed Athena to bring a hand to her face and lick the blood off her talons. She purred with delight as the red ambrosia went down her throat. She didn’t want to think about this right now. She was too invested in chasing this unusual high and wanted to savor it while it lasted. Athena dug her talons back into the bloody carcass to finish her meal.

She greedily gulped down the precious lifeblood from the liver in her grasp, and she squeezed the organ with her claws to draw out as much fluid as possible before she could eat it. Every mouthful of red made her shiver with desire, and it brought on a never before felt high that she couldn’t get enough of. She couldn’t even think about what she was doing anymore; all she could do was keep eating.

The owl’s talons pried apart the ribcage, and she shoved her face into the chest cavity, eagerly feasting on the flesh animalistically. She snapped the limbs apart like crab legs and crushed the skull under a vice-like grip. Two eyeballs were plucked out of the smashed eye sockets and devoured in a single bite. Athena hummed as she felt the small organs burst in her mouth, the thick fluid inside flooding her palette. She relished the taste and almost sank to the bloodsoaked ground with a pleased purr.

“What nasty manners!” a high-pitched and cheery voice came from the end of the alleyway. Athena was immediately on high alert. Her feathers puffed up as she crouched over her kill, hissing at the demon watching them. A tiny Sinner, no larger than four feet tall, was standing on the street, watching the owl with a single orange eye. She was wearing some kind of red poodle skirt that was swaying from side to side as she watched Athena with almost childlike curiosity.

The Sinner ran up to the owl, and the latter instinctively reacted and swatted at the intruder with a bloodsoaked claw, but the smaller demon easily danced out of the way. Athena was running mostly on instinct as she snarled possessively at the other demon.

This demon didn’t appear to be trying to steal the owl’s food, but she was instead inspecting the bloody pile of bone and flesh in the alleyway. “Now, that’s no good! Your food is all messy. It looks like you didn’t even bother to clean him up first before eating him!” She then gasped with a starry-eyed expression. “Ooh! Is this your first time eating another demon? Was he a bad boy?”

Athena watched the Sinner skitter about the crime scene, still chatting away without a care in the world. “Oh! Where are my manners?” the ladybug chirped. “I’m Niffty! It’s been awhile since I made new friends!”

Athena blinked owlishly, and it took her a few moments for the memories to come back to her. She remembered Niffty. It was about fifteen or sixteen years into the owl and the deer’s partnership when they first met her. Alastor had just gone on another rampage and was broadcasting screams from his radio tower, but he and Athena were both interrupted from the show when the little ladybug broke into the studio while they were on air. The deer just waved her away with a black tendril, obviously not seeing her as a threat because her smell told them that she was very new to Hell, but to their surprise, the deranged little lady kept coming back again and again and again.

Alastor eventually got fed up and called a commercial break before finally giving her his full attention. He immediately threatened her life, but to the deer and owl’s surprise, the little Sinner just cackled maniacally and bit down on the tendril. Athena didn’t know if it was disgust or amusem*nt that made him drop her onto the floor, but she saw that his expression instantly shifted from irritated to entertained when she fell onto the metal floor with a loud and painful crack before she began cheering at the pain. “Oh, I like this one, Athena,” the deer had given a gleeful laugh to the bird on his shoulder as he watched the ladybug hastily chase a co*ckroach around the studio.

But then Athena finally registered the words Nifty just said to her in the present time. The bird Sinner glanced down and immediately felt her stomach lurch. Crushed bone and bloody meat was piled up under the owl, and she suddenly felt woozy as the memories from her animalistic craze replayed in her head. She looked down at the blood on her claws, reflecting on the past hour with a suddenly clear mind. This was ravenous, feral, uncontrollable hunger.

Athena ran a hand down her face with a resigned sigh, forgetting that it was soaked with blood. Her tongue flicked out to catch a drop of blood dribbling down her cheek, and she felt her mind start to fog again with that addictive pleasure. She dug her claws into the ground with a groan. “What is wrong with me?”

“Yeah, what is wrong with you?” Niffty got dangerously close to Athena’s personal space, now shamelessly standing in the pile of flesh and bone. “You haven’t even told me your name.”

“It’s Athena,” the owl waved a hand dismissively.

“It’s nice to meet you, Athena!” the ladybug chirped cheerfully. She then climbed onto the owl’s chest, her fingers grasping onto the front of her shirt and got right into Athena’s face with a manic grin. The taller Sinner leaned back slightly, eyes narrowing in bewilderment. The bird Sinner had to remind herself that Niffty was not exactly the sharpest needle in the sewing kit, and the few times she and Athena had been face to face with each other was before the owl got a humanoid form. The little Sinner began snickering madly, “But your etiquette is awful, especially for a lady! This alleyway is a mess!”

Chapter 31: Chapter 31

Chapter Text

Alastor had carefully kept his face blank as Vox sat down next to him in the small blind seat. Husk raised an eyebrow at the TV Demon and made no move to leave. The deer couldn’t blame the Casino Overlord. Vox was obviously here to start trouble, but Alastor had to ask himself why the pompous television wasn’t hiding behind a screen this time. He was clearly plotting something; he even went through the trouble of using his joke of a coworker to separate him from Athena.

His claws dug into the table as he thought about the owl. The memories of seeing her being dragged away by the p*rn Overlord made the deer’s blood boil. That necklace around her neck clearly marked her as his property, so that vile moth had no right to put his hands on her let alone take her away from him like that. Alastor ignored the annoying voice in the back of his head that told him that he was really Athena’s property, but he reasoned with it by saying that the public thinks she belongs to him. So it was his reputation on the line here.

But he couldn’t simply chase after them. That would most likely start in a fight, which was an immediate ticket to the Gambling Demon to bargain his soul for freedom. Alastor’s soul was already owned by Athena, making him immune to Husk’s rule, but he couldn’t reveal that. Of course, Husk had every right to simply kick out any demon he did not want the soul of or those who were already owned by other Overlords.

It was true that Valentino was clearly leading the owl away without her consent, but such activities were not uncommon in any place of business in Hell. And since Husk not only saw the incident but watched it without interfering meant that the cat would side with Valentino if Alastor was to get into a scuffle with the moth to get Athena back.

While it is true that Athena has slain Overlords effortlessly, her specialty was stealth kills as an owl. She was still unused to her humanoid body, and Valentino’s pheromones were also a factor. Athena was more capable than the Vee’s were giving her credit for. Just now, she was able to identify Husk’s strategy by just playing a few games with him.

Every Sinner had a unique power that only heightened with every soul they killed. The Casino Overlord’s power seemed to be luck based, and the owl was able to piece that together by just watching him and then used it to predict his next play. The deer demon took a moment to compose himself as he consciously dialed the radio static back. Athena could take care of herself. He should focus on the pompous television innocently himself a glass of alcohol.

“I’m afraid I am in no mood for small talk,” Alastor managed to keep his voice level as he raised an eyebrow at Vox. “Would you mind explaining why you are really here?”

“Oh, I see you’re in no mood for our games today, huh Alastor?” the TV Demon grinned. “Could it be because you don’t have a leg to stand on anymore?”

“You assume too much, old friend,” Alastor replied, and he snatched the bottle of rye from Vox. “If this is yet another sad attempt to convince me to join your team, then I will save both of us the time and headache by declining. I’ve always been content as a solo act.”

“But you’re not a solo act, are you?” Vox raised an eyebrow knowingly. “It’s more of a duet, amirite?” The Radio Demon narrowed his eyes at the Television Demon to silently bid him to explain further. “Your little girlfriend looks awfully familiar, Alastor. I doubt anyone has noticed the connection yet, but what do you think would happen if it were to accidentally leak this information?”

The deer felt the desire to flick his ear in irritation, but he managed to keep his mask up. He knew a threat when he heard it, and he could barely hold back a snicker when he realized why Vox wanted to meet him in person. That television was probably spending decades agonizing over coming up with some sort of leverage to use against the Radio Demon. It has been rather entertaining to watch Vox scream with rage about not being able to control his own media outlet, and even worse, knowing that it was his rival who was really the one holding all the power. Vox knew that Alastor could permanently pull the plug at any moment, and the only reason why the deer was letting the Television Demon continue with his career was because it was funny to Alastor. Vox had obviously had enough.

Alastor suspected that Vox was so excited about finally having some sort of supposed advantage over his rival that he came running to confront the deer before ever really thinking his plan through. “Oh, I am not concerned with your little threats, old chum. You have been bad mouthing me on your noisy picture box for decades already, so do tell, why is this any different?”

“Because the idea of one of the most powerful Overlords in Hell f*cking his pet bird out of sheer loneliness is too juicy gossip to just die overnight,” Vox replied smugly. Alastor narrowed his eyes in sheer bewilderment at the statement, but the TV Demon took that change in expression as a sign of nervousness. “So here’s what’s gonna happen. Stop f*cking with my programs, and I keep quiet about your sad, disgusting little kink.”

Alastor let out a laugh. Of course the TV Demon thought it was something sexual in nature.

It never failed to amuse him how desperate Vox was to overthrow the Radio Demon. And he was so obsessed that he overlooked a very important detail. “I have a question for you,” Alastor poured himself another cup of rye. “How many years ago did you first try to use Athena against me?”

Vox raised an eyebrow, “Huh? The hell does that have to do with anything? It’s been, what, thirty years?”

“Thirty years by your own account, yes?” the deer’s forced grin curved upwards into a smirk. “Curiously long time for a common hellborn bird, wouldn’t you say?” Normal hellborn animals had a lifespan of ten to twenty years at most.

Vox froze, and his screen flashing blue for a moment. Alastor chuckled and lazily swirled the alcohol in his cup as he watched the loading screen turn on his flatface. “Then why the hell has she been taking the form of a bird all this time?!” Vox demanded, now royally pissed because his master plan failed yet again once he finally realized what the Radio Demon was implying.

“That is for me to know,” a feminine voice piped up right behind the chairs that the Overlords were sitting in. Vox looked for the source of the voice first, and Alastor caught the Television Demon start to glitch violently, blue sparks dancing across his eyesore of a suit. The deer turned his head, and the vision he was met with made his blood sing.

Athena was leaning towards their table with a grin on her face. But her sudden appearance is not what made the deer freeze. Right away, his nose picked up on the overwhelming and divine scent of gore, and he noticed that her feathers normally were black with a glossy green sheen, but today, each and every feather on her body was shimmering with dark red. Little drops of crimson were steadily dripping onto the pale tiles from her flight feathers. But the most damning thing he saw was the splashes of blood smeared across her face. It looked as if Athena had gone through some poor, unfortunate Sinner with a chainsaw. And since Valentino was nowhere to be seen, Alastor had a pretty good idea as to who this poor, unfortunate Sinner was that was on the receiving end of her wrath.

Athena licked a swipe of blood from her talons with a satisfied hum, and a sickening idea as to what happened to the p*rn Demon began to form in the Television and Radio Demon's minds. “You ATE HIM?!” Vox roared as he stood up with enough force to make the table quake and his chair to be thrown behind him.

Athena only grinned innocently as she licked the blood off her cheek with an elongated tongue. She did not appear to be intimidated by the enraged Overlord screaming in her face, and Alastor propped an elbow on the table and leaned his chin onto his open palm to enjoy the show and to take in the intoxicating smell of fresh kill.

His crimson eyes were half-lidded as he gazed at Athena while she fearlessly stood her ground against Vox, who was fuming so much that he started to glitch out. To know she had eaten (Alastor felt another shiver surge through his body at the thought) an Overlord and was now using it to taunt another brought upon such beautiful and sinful fire to course through his veins. It was such an ultimate disrespect, and Alastor couldn’t help but wonder how the blood on his owner’s face tasted.

“Let me get one thing clear to you, Vox. Whatever harebrained scheme you come up with is always destined to fail,” Athena hissed before pushing Vox back onto the chair so that she was towering over him. She had a smug smirk plastered onto her face as she lightly jabbed the Television Demon in the chest with a single bloodsoaked talon. “I’m not Alastor’s girlfriend or pet or whatever you may think. I’m his partner, the only demon in Hell worthy of being his partner. And he is the only one worthy of being mine.

The hidden message was not lost to Alastor, and he felt himself shudder when Athena possessively clenched her fist around the chain binding his soul. The mission in the back of his mind to escape her spell was forgotten as he watched Athena tower over Vox, her beautiful black feathers glistening dark red with the blood of another Overlord. Her fangs were bared in a menacing grin, the very same fangs which had torn apart and mercilessly devoured the demon who had tried to cross her not even an hour ago. And in this moment, he couldn’t find within himself the craving for freedom. He even dared to entertain the idea of being irreversibly consumed by whatever spell she had placed on him.

Chapter 32: Chapter 32

Chapter Text

Athena felt something grasp her feathers to climb up her back. Niffty was sitting on her shoulder as she was still looming over an unnerved Vox. “Ooh, is this another bad boy? Are you gonna eat him, too?” The ladybug grinned excitedly as she tugged on the plumicorns on Athena’s head.

“I just might,” the bird Sinner’s smirk widened to a bloodthirsty smile as she put pressure on the claw that was poking Vox’s chest, making it sink into his suit and eventually the skin under his clothes.

The TV Demon snapped out of whatever stupor he was in, and he shoved Athena away angrily. Sparks flew across his hands as he stomped towards Athena, “You f*cked up little bitch! I’ll KILL YOU FOR THIS!” The lights in the casino began to blow out, making Vox be the only source of light in the building as electricity ran rampant across his body. He stood up and took a threatening step towards the owl, who seemed completely unfazed by the looming danger of an angry Overlord.

Athena only raised an eyebrow before turning away from Vox and making a show of licking the blood off her claw. Vox felt a fury unlike any he’s ever felt flare in his chest. Not only had this bird eaten his business partner, an Overlord, but she also had the f*cking nerve to look away from him, indicating that she didn’t even see him as a threat. The Television Demon roared angrily and thrust his hand forwards, sending a blinding beam of pure concentrated lightning to cascade towards the owl.

Athena crossed her arms and co*cked a hip, her lips curling up in a co*cky smirk. Vox’s attack then crashed into a bright red shield decorated in hearts and clubs. And when the dust settled, a black and white cat Sinner in a pinstripe gray suit was revealed to be standing defensively in front of the owl. “That’s strike three!” Husk roared as dark red poker symbols hovered around him. “Get your ass out of my casino!”

This spell had never successfully held back an Overlord before, so Husk's nerves were slightly shot. There have been plenty of regular demons who have been bound like this before, and he knew that every Sinner who has come into his casinos is told to sign a contract that forces them to wager their Soul as collateral for breaking the rules.

And all those drunk or disrespectful demons who have pushed their luck all work for him now, but Husk still couldn’t help but fear that this spell was not strong enough to hold an Overlord, let alone a major one. But he had to keep a brave face; if he let the public know that he was afraid of the spell being broken, then people would think that it was possible for the spell to be broken.

Husk has had a decent career so far as an Overlord, and the spells Athena has given him were vital in making sure his place of business didn’t get any trouble. The Gambling Demon did not want to deal with trouble; he was already working to the bone managing so many major casinos around Pentagram City.

Vox turned his head and pointed at Athena, who was smirking with blood-stained fangs at him. “Hey! What about that bitch! She cannibalized Valentino! Aren’t you going to do something about that, you stupid cat?!”

“She did so outside of my establishment,” Husk hissed through clenched teeth. “As far as I’m concerned, not my f*cking problem. Now get the f*ck out.

Vox bared his fangs as sparks of blue gathered around clenched fists. “f*ck you. Both of you radio f*ckers.” The TV Demon turned and stomped out, each step sending a shock of electricity into the tile below him.

Athena had purposefully provoked Vox into attacking her, knowing that it would get him into deep sh*t. She was actively grinning as she watched the Overlord she had on a leash defend her from the Television Demon because he was obligated to do so. It looked like Husk was reinforcing his own rules, but he and Athena knew of the second layer to this exchange. He was on the owl’s leash, and so to the two of them, this was a matter of a servant being forced to protect his master.

As soon as the TV Demon was out the door, Husk ran a paw down his face in exasperation. He snatched a bottle off the bar before raising his voice to attract the attention of the Sinners inside his building. “Alright, you worthless motherf*ckers, get your chips and head next door to pick up your cash from the hotel receptionist. Lights are dead, so we’re gonna be closed for the rest of the night.”

The Gambling Demon was in one of his smaller establishments tonight, so it wouldn’t take long to get everybody out of the building and call a contractor to replace the destroyed lights. “I’m sending Voxtech the f*ckin’ bill,” Husk grumbled as he took another long swig from his bottle. The Sinners groaned and got up from their games before grabbing their buckets of chips and filing out the door. Several demons tried prying the prizes from others’ claws as soon as they were out the door, but a few warning shots from the armed guards put them back in line.

The bird Sinner’s bloody flight feathers flicked, and she grabbed Niffty from her shoulder like she was a misbehaving kitten before putting her on the floor. As soon as the ladybug was on the floor, she scurried off, and Athena felt a pair of hands wrap around her waist and spin her around. The only reason she didn’t sink her talons into the audacious demon who dared to lay his hands on her was because she knew who it was.

Athena chuckled when she came face to face with Alastor, who had wrapped his arms around her waist. His eyes were a void of pitch black with bright scarlet irises studying her with a predatory gaze. “What a stunning performance, mon cher.” His face hovered dangerously close to hers, and he made no attempt at hiding the way he took in the smell of blood in her feathers.

She knew what game he was playing, and she was more than eager to step up to the plate. Athena’s hand slithered up his suit before burying itself in his scarlet locks, “I always put my best foot forward for my favorite audience.” The talons of her other hand grazed the invisible metal wrapped around his throat. Alastor practically purred and tightened his hold on her hips.

“Hey! When I said everybody out, I mean everybody. You two can f*ck next door,” Husk grumbled as he sat at the bar, pouring himself a drink now that the bartender had left for the workday. Athena co*cked a brow at the cat at his words before the Gambling Demon’s attention was drawn to a little Sinner scurrying throughout the building. “Get out, little lady. I don’t think you even paid to get in.”

Niffty was scuttling about with a broom, the bristles picking up dropped chips and kicking up little clouds of dust. “But look at how icky it is in here!” she whined as she gestured to the floor with an annoyed expression.

Chapter 33: Chapter 33

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Alastor decided early on that Athena was an interesting creature. When he had first met her, he was surprised at how the Sinner that rose to power so suddenly was an unassuming little owl. He had to admit that he had underestimated her at first, and it had cost him many stressful nights trying to come up with a way to settle the score whenever she outsmarted him.

As much as the deer complained to himself about her scheming and her deceit, he had to admit that it brought him a certain thrill to see her plans come together. But it was even more of a thrill to see his own plans come together, even more so when it was against her.

One thing was made abundantly clear to Alastor the moment he signed the contract: Athena was scared. She had built her empire on fear and fear alone. The denizens of Hell feared her, and she feared them. She needed something to hide behind, and could be better than an Overlord at her beck and call?

But there was something the deer noticed very quickly. Athena was not enthusiastic about killing. She viewed it as a necessary evil for the sake of survival, but Alastor reveled in it. He enjoyed causing misery and chaos with his new power, and it made the owl desperate to tighten her hold on him because she saw how sad*stic he was. And when Vox tried kidnapping her, she had lorded her only advantage over the deer in an effort to scare him back into line.

But recently, Alastor had begun to be more violent towards the other denizens of Hell. At first, it was the excited rampage through Vox’s territory after Athena had given the deer a way to attack his rival. But over time, Alastor had the idea of using it to his advantage. The owl clearly despised unnecessary blood, but what was even more clear to him was that she was using the deer as a safety net. She relied on him completely to keep her alive; she relied on him killing to keep her alive.

Alastor had begun to attack other demons more frequently, especially when Athena was around. She started doing that annoying tapping on his chain whenever he did so, and the deer had to assume it was a message to him to make him remember who was in charge. She was scared of him because of how much destruction he was capable of causing, so she was reminding him of his place.

But he eventually tuned out the irritation he felt whenever her talons would touch the links because he was more focused on his own plans. Alastor noticed her becoming more used to the screams as she accompanied him around the city on a regular basis. And he even caught her silently sighing with relief on his shoulder when she watched him tear apart another demon for the simple crime of looking at them. She was becoming more accustomed to violence when she viewed it as an unfortunate necessity before.

And so one day, Alastor took a chance and suggested to Athena that she expand her empire. If she was being affected by him the way he thinks she was, then she was sure to put on a stunning performance. And she didn’t disappoint. The entire casino industry fell that night, and the deer saw a genuine thrill in her acid green eyes as they bickered on the radio show that day. It had worked even better than he could’ve possibly hoped. Athena was not only shamelessly slaying other demons, but she was now enjoying it.

And when he saw the owl soaked to the bone in the blood of another demon in that casino, he felt a rush of satisfaction. If she wanted to simply kill her victim, then she could’ve gone for a quick slash to the throat like she always does. But bathing in red the way she had was unnecessary violent, which was something she wouldn’t normally do.

And she looked so very proud of herself when she confronted Vox in the casino. The way she mercilessly taunted him about his coworker’s agony and the way she shamelessly used another Overlord as a shield by using the rules of his casino to her advantage was downright sad*stic. It was completely out of character for her, at least, out of character for the Athena that had first made him sign the Contract all those years ago.

He was absolutely infatuated with the way she was deliberately sewing discord just like him, and he knew right then and there that he finally had her. Alastor knew that Athena had cast some kind of spell on him to make him enjoy the chains around his neck, and he was pleasantly reminded of her schemes when he felt her tug on his leash when she was belittling Vox. He still didn’t know what the owl did to him, but he had finally taken his revenge by trapping her under his own spell, and the delicious part was that she didn’t even know.

Alastor had wrapped his arms around her when the casino was finally empty, and he allowed himself to just enjoy her presence. He was tuning out the bickering of the cat and ladybug Sinners in another corner of the room, his scarlet gaze still fixated on his blood-soaked beauty.

Athena snickered, but it was quickly cut off with a surprised choke when a tongue ran across her cheek and picked up a few drops of blood. She turned her head and snarled at the culprit, but Alastor only smirked with a mischievous glint in his eye because he won this battle of breaking the other’s composure first. She didn’t expect him to do something so outwardly suggestive, and it showed on her expression. Athena frowned in irritation at being caught off guard so easily, and the deer gave a conceited grin.

Alastor tightened his grip on her hips as the shadows engulfed them both. In the next instant, they were in the radio tower. He could barely hear Husk shout at them to take the weird ladybug with them, but they were gone before he could register the Gambling Demon’s words. But Athena didn’t seem satisfied with letting him get away with catching her off guard by licking her cheek.

She grabbed a fistful of dark green links and yanked it forwards, forcing his face to be almost uncomfortably close to hers. “You like cleaning the blood off me, huh? Then go ahead. Get to it.”

Alastor let out a breathy sigh at what his owner was demanding. His claws dug into the fabric of her vest and ran his tongue up her cheek again.

“Good boy~” Athena cooed as she used her other hand to pet the base of Alastor’s ear as a reward. The deer almost moaned from the onslaught of sensations. The feeling of his owner pulling his leash, the way she was gently caressing him when he obeyed, the sound of her breathless voice as she praised him, and the intoxicating metallic taste on his tongue was building a high unlike any he’s ever felt before.

The buzz of exhilaration pumping under his skin was accompanied by the faint buzz of radio static from the machines in the studio. As his body got more excited, so too did the radios. Alastor summoned his cane behind Athena’s back and used it to sweep her legs before she could register what was happening. She let out an undignified squawk as her back hit the brick red metal, and the deer got on top of her and pinned her to the ground with a mischievous grin before pressing his lips to hers in a moment of blind pleasure.

Notes:

shoutout to you know who are for dming me on tumblr and asking in all caps why alastor was acting horny last chapter

Chapter 34: Chapter 34

Chapter Text

Alastor surprised himself when he towered over Athena when she was pushed onto the floor. It felt his body was operating on autopilot, each movement was decided by what had been drilled into him so many years ago when it came to this sort of subject. In the back of his mind, he recalled what others have told him regarding this moment.

He expected the passion to skyrocket as their lips danced together. He expected her to wrap her arms around his shoulders to bring him closer. He expected sparks, he expected flames, he expected it to feel like the world had disappeared around them. But the obvious inexperience from both parties instantly soured the sensation. Athena and Alastor both broke apart, and the radio static died in a repulsive choke.

“That was…” the owl rotated her jaw and flicked her tongue out with a puzzled expression. The passion and excitement from before was starting to fizzle out as they both started to register what was going on. “That was disgusting.”

“Agreed, let’s never do that again,” Alastor said a little too quickly. He felt his face start to burn with shame, and his ears were folded back against his skull. He was so sure that she was the one. Never before had he felt such a genuine connection to another soul before, but it seemed like it wasn’t the case. The deer winced when he felt a twinge of dreaded disappointment in the depths of his chest.

Athena sighed and ran a hand through the feathers on her head. Neither of them had moved from their place on the floor, but the owl didn’t want the awkwardness of their situation to linger like a sickening aftertaste. She brought her hands up to Alastor’s head before carefully guiding his face down to lay against her neck. The owl’s talons then slithered up to bury themselves in the fur of his ears, gently massaging them. “How’s this, my deer?” Athena hummed.

Alastor felt tension leave his body that he didn’t even know was there, and he sighed happily. He let the entirety of his body weight press onto the owl’s chest as he fully relaxed in her hold. He buried his nose in the crook of her shoulder and took in the scent of fresh kill as he wrapped his arms under her torso. He could barely register the feeling of his tail wagging behind him as he murmured softly against his owner’s skin. “Much better, ma biche…”

Athena groaned as her eyes slid open. Hanging above her was the familiar black metal ceiling of the studio, and she had to ask herself why she was sleeping on her back because she usually did so on her stomach. That annoying primal instinct to keep her underbelly protected kept her from comfortably staying still for a long period of time on her back. And even now, the owl was feeling jittery. She stretched but then froze when her still sleep-muddled mind registered the warm and heavy weight on her body. The owl blinked blearily and tilted her head to see a mass of red fur accompanied by a matching pinstripe suit.

She ran her palms across the smooth fabric of the back of Alastor’s tailcoat with a yawn. She flexed the talons on her feet and felt her claws grazing the deer’s knees due to their height difference. Athena could hear the sound of jazz playing on the radio near the window, playing softly like a lullaby. She knew that these devices sometimes reacted to the deer’s state of mind, so she had to assume that this gentle tune indicated that he was asleep.

Athena let out a heavy breath and let her head fall back against the floor underneath her as a hand went up to comb through Alastor’s scarlet locks. He still appeared to be asleep, but she could feel his body tense up in a stretch with his arms momentarily tightening around her torso before slumping back down on her chest. That gesture and the fact that she felt a small puff of breath against her neck every few seconds were Athena’s only signals that Alastor was still alive. She has never seen the deer sleep, but based on this display, when he slept, he slept hard.

As odd as this situation was, the owl couldn’t say that she wanted either of them to move. This wasn’t the heavy and soul-searing attraction she has heard so much about when she was alive, but it was a soft and comfortable intimacy that gave her the unmistakable and nostalgic feeling of home. She felt safe and she felt loved, but she couldn’t draw parallels between this moment and the moments she’s read about in those romance novels she dared to explore in her pubescent years. In those novels, the authors would alway describe romantic intimacy to be explosive and passionate. But as she lay on the floor with the man who had become her closest friend, Athena could say that it didn’t feel explosive or passionate. It just felt right.

The owl tilted her head to bury her nose in the soft red fur, humming softly to the tune of jazz playing on the radio. She made a mental note to be in a bed or on a couch next time, and she couldn’t find any shame in admitting to herself that she wanted this again. Athena tightened her arms around her beloved deer before closing her eyes as she felt herself start to drift off again.

But a sudden crash shook the entire tower, and Athena instinctively rolled over and flared up her feathers defensively over Alastor, who was glitching madly as he was forcibly pulled from his nap. Athena jumped to the window to see what was going on, and suddenly the red glass shattered in front of her, and a silver spear buried itself in her shoulder. She shrieked with pain when the blade pierced her flesh and scratched the bone, and Alastor was immediately alert. The owl instinctively clutched onto the shaft of the weapon to stop the jostling and control the bleeding.

But what she didn’t realize was that the spear lodged in her arm was a harpoon. With a harsh yank, she was pulled from the radio tower and felt herself falling. Athena hit the ground with a pained yowl. She hacked and coughed on the street because the impact knocked the wind out of her. Another tug from the harpoon lodged in her shoulder began dragging her across the ground, but the owl hastily yanked the blade out of her to stop the jolts of pain that would flare up with every unforgiving pull from the weapon.

Athena gasped and put her hand to the wound to stop the bleeding, and she hissed as the flesh that had been pierced began to burn. The blade had been an angelic weapon. The owl hurriedly got to her feet and went for the holy steel battle claws in the pouch of her belt, but a flash of black and white lunged towards her and pushed her to the ground with a knee to the face.

Another excruciating jab went right through Athena’s other shoulder and stuck into the concrete under her back, pinning her to the ground. The owl dazedly looked up to see a tall female Sinner with light gray skin and white hair that stood up in the shape of horns. She was wearing attire similar to a ballerina, and the silver shoes on her feet glistened with holy steel as one dug further into the downed bird’s shoulder. Piercing red eyes were glaring down at Athena, and the owl curled her lips up in a defiant snarl, her feathers trembling as they stood on end.

And then she heard Alastor roar with rage.

Chapter 35: Chapter 35

Chapter Text

The buildings surrounding them started to rumble. Huge cracks tore through the ground on the far side of the street, and they rushed towards the downed owl and Carmine in a fury. The howl of a bloodthirsty monster erupted from the source of the breaking ground, the sheer force of the cry creating massive winds that knocked down signs and shattered windows.

Dirt and stone shot up from the ground as if they were thrown by geysers, and the street started to shift as something violently fought its way to the surface. A giant monstrosity rose from the earth a few meters away from Carmine.

This creature was undoubtedly a monster born in Hell. Easily thirty meters tall with a bloody crimson skeletal body with skin the ash-gray of death and bright red radio dials ticking in the empty eye sockets. Long dark tendrils as black as the grim reaper’s cloak burst from the back of the monster and lodged themselves into the ground surrounding Carmine.

The wendigo roared, and the Sinner had to clamp her hands around her ears as the horrible jagged-edged sound tore into her being like a rusty knife to paper. No, the wendigo didn’t roar. The sound that came from its maw was a primordial scream that shook the entire city. The jaws of the beast created a hurricane that barreled into Carmine and Athena, and the latter was able to hold her ground by digging her claws into the ground beneath her and pushing the former’s foot out of her shoulder. Carmine went flying backwards but managed to land on her feet as Alastor loomed over her, blood dripping from his menacing grin.

The crimson devil swerved its massive head to the side to take a glance at its opponent. Carmilla saw those demonic red eyes, and the blood in her veins froze. Sure, the thing was massive and looked utterly awe-inspiring, but that monster was her opponent and focused all its bloodlust directly at her. If the appearance didn’t make any audience wet themselves, then the overwhelming aura of it certainly did. In short, Alastor, in every way, lived up to the title of most intimidating Overlord in Hell.

Athena hurriedly scooted back against the wall of a nearby building as she watched Carmine grit her teeth and stand against the furious wendigo. Never in her afterlife had she ever seen Alastor so angry. He wasn’t even using words anymore, it was just blind rage. She hissed and pressed her hands on the wounds on her shoulders with a pained wince as she shakily stood up. Blood dribbled down her feathers as she blindly reached out to her chains.

But something quickly caught her attention. Overlords can sense when a soul they own is nearby by tapping the links, and Athena could not only feel Alastor but also two weak Sinner souls cowering behind a nearby building. The owl immediately recognized them as the two teenagers who broke into her home a few days ago. Her acid green eyes fell onto the gray-skinned Sinner who had attacked her, and finally the pieces began falling into place.

Athena reached out to the vine-like chains and gave a harsh pull that forced the two teenage Sinners out from their hiding place. They were thrown through the air and landed heavily in front of Carmine, and Athena grit her teeth with a harsh wince when the movement made a wave of pain flare through her body. The weapons dealer immediately wrapped her arms around her daughters and took a few steps back from the raging wendigo.

Athena pushed herself off the ground with an agonizing flap of her wings and landed in front of the three Sinners. In one hand, she lashed her vine-like chains against the ground like a whip while holding her other hand to Alastor, blood-covered palm facing him as she took a few steps forwards. “I’m okay, love,” she wanted to say. “It’s okay, now.” Athena desperately wanted to express just how grateful she was. He could’ve let her die so his Soul Contract would be over, but he got angry on her behalf. He got enraged on her behalf.

Of course, there was always that analytical part of her that said Alastor was angry because another demon had the absolute nerve to attack his tower with him inside. But the softness in his sunken-in red eyes told her differently. The giant wendigo leaned down, one elbow on the ground while his hand snaked around her miniscule form. Bright green stitches decorated his ash-gray face and some patterns overlapped his glowing golden grin, and they highlighted the red mark on death emblazoned on his forehead.

“Thank you,” the owl wanted to say so much more. But not here and not in front of other demons. This somewhat tender display was already damning enough. She turned her head to face Carmine and her daughters, face twisted with anger. Alastor remained in his current position of hovering over the four of them, black tendrils still writhing about.

“You have some f*cking nerve, Carmine,” the owl hissed, and she vaguely felt the wendigo digging his scarlet claws into the ground next to her. Athena knew of other Overlords, but she admittedly didn’t know much about these minor ones like Carmine. She just knew that the female Sinner was a weapons dealer and had two daughters. The owl had to assume that the reason Clara and Odette had broken into her house was because they were after her weapons’ vault for their mother. And now that mother was attacking Athena to free her daughters.

“Would you mind explaining to me why you believed attacking not just one but two powerful Overlords on their own turf was a good idea? Clearly I now know where your two brats got their brains. Or rather, lack thereof.”

Carmilla turned her head to glare at the two girls behind her. The owl smirked in amusem*nt when she realized that Carmilla didn’t even know that the reason her precious babies were on a leash was because they had trespassed into an Overlord’s territory. Athena had to assume that since their mother was a rising Overlord, then they could get away with this sort of thing because mommy would bail them out. Carmilla was young, but she was incredibly powerful, and that potential could be nurtured. But eventually, she was done scolding her children and turned to glare at the monstrous wendigo towering over Athena.

“Radio Demon!” The minor Overlord stood defensively and sneered. She seemed fearless in the faces of the bird and the deer, but Athena could see the slight sheen of nervous sweat building on her forehead. “I demand you release my daughters from their Contract!”

“Lacking manners, this one,” the owl scoffed with a smirk, and she heard a static glitch behind her as Alastor’s grin widened in amusem*nt because Carmilla thought that he was the one who owned the girls’ souls. “You didn’t even answer my question. I am most curious. And you are in no position to be making demands.”

Carmilla made no move to reply, much to Athena’s disappointment, but the bird Sinner was able to see the weapons dealer shifting from one foot to another, red eyes analyzing her opponents. She was a warrior, that much was obvious to Athena. She was also a rising Overlord in a growing industry. She was much more useful than her two daughters.

“Nothing to say?” Athena co*cked a brow and put a hand on her hip. She could feel Alastor gradually calming behind her, but he did not return to his normal state, and the owl knew that he must be using an excessive amount of magic to maintain this wendigo form. So she couldn’t waste time with small talk.

“That’s a shame. I’ve always loathed carrying a conversation by myself, it’s rather enjoyable to engage in a good sparring match between two quick-witted demons. So let me just cut to the part you are interested in,” Athena rolled one of her impaled shoulders before slipping her battle talons on, the silver metal glistening from the green light emitting from Alastor behind her.

“I’m a businesswoman, much like yourself. I value the property I own,” she grabbed hold of the chains binding Odette and Clara before pulling them towards her. The two teenagers fell to the ground in front of the owl and the deer with a yelp, and Carmine growled in frustration. “However. I am more than willing to make an exchange. What have you to offer to get the souls of your daughters back?”

It was a rhetorical question and everybody on the street knew it. Athena manifested the two glowing scrolls and displayed them to Carmine. Countless vine-like chains burst from the ground and latched onto the two teenagers behind the owl, and she felt the bloodlust behind her spike. “Now, do we have a deal?” The owl's talons lit up in green fire.

Chapter 36: Chapter 36

Chapter Text

The weapons dealer grit her teeth and walked forwards, the angelic blades on her feet clicking on the ground with every step. She had no leg to stand on, and she knew it. Carmine was silent, glaring at Athena with all the hatred in Hell as she signed her name on a third Soul Contract that had manifested in front of her, and then the other two vanished in a puff of acid green smoke.

“Ha! Pleasure doing business with you!” Athena crowed victoriously as the chains vanished from Odette and Clara. She had successfully traded her two pawns for a rook.

As soon as the green chains dissipated, the two teenage demons ran towards their mother, bawling pathetically as they clung onto her.

“Mom! Why’d you do that?!”

“This is my fault, I’m so sorry!”

Carmine’s face was painted with sad resignation as she held her girls. Normally a mother would have comforting words to soothe her children, but the weapons dealer looked completely checked out. Athena waved her hand dismissively and turned away from them, “Take your sniveling whining off my turf.”

The owl watched Alastor finally release his magic, and several cracks were heard as his joints and bones snapped and twisted back into their normal state. Athena turned her head back to Carmine and her daughters with a smirk. “Oh, but one more thing.” She flicked her talons and manifested bright green strings that soared through the air with a sharp zip and latched onto Carmine’s wrists and ankles. The minor Overlord was yanked away from her girls, and the two teenagers practically shrieked.

A puff of smoke erupted in Athena’s claws, and when it cleared, a small crochet doll with glowing green stitches making the mouth on the face and connecting the limbs to the body with black buttons for eyes. The doll then began to take on features similar to Carmine; the black and white outfit was the same, the white hair made of yarn was the same style, and the glowing angelic blades as the shoes appeared on the doll. The owl flicked her wrist, and the doll in her hand began to dance.

Carmine let out a surprised exclamation when she felt her body move on its own. The bright green lines attached to her arms and legs were making her dance like a puppet on strings. Athena’s eyes began to glow, and much to the weapons dealer’s horror, she lunged towards Clara with her foot outstretched. The sheep demon shrieked but barely managed to move out of the way.

Carmine managed to turn her head to glare at the owl, who was grinning madly, “What is the meaning of this?! I sold my soul for you to let my girls go!”

“And I did let them go,” Athena said in a sickly sweet voice. “But I do hope you understand. I can’t have these two loose ends wandering about Pentagram City. They know too much. Since I don’t own their souls anymore, I can’t guarantee their silence. Well, there is one way to make sure they never speak of what they’ve seen.”

Carmine felt herself jolt again, and she did a complete spin before using that momentum to swing her leg around, aiming for Odette. The girl managed to block the attack with a hidden blade, but the force from the kick sent her flying back. Athena continued to make the doll dance in her claws with a calm smile, watching the scene before her as if it was a pleasant play and not two children fighting for their very lives. She felt arms wrap around her wait before a warmth pressed itself to her back. The owl looked over her shoulder to see Alastor behind her.

“Are you enjoying the show, my deer?” Athena purred as she lifted one hand to wrap around his head while she leaned into his chest. She could hear the pleas and cries of pain in the background as she felt Alastor run his hand up her chest, his red claws catching a few strands of fabric on her vest.

“Oh, most certainly, ma biche,” the deer replied. He buried his face in the crook of her neck before nipping her pulse with his canines. “You never disappoint.” Athena smirked and deliberately scraped the shackles on his neck with her free hand. Alastor sucked in a breath before sinking his teeth into her throat. The owl yelped in surprise and instinctively flinched away, but the deer’s growl and his hold on her hips pinned her in place.

Blood oozed into Alastor’s mouth, and he hummed in delight. Athena softly caressed his ear as he sucked down a mouthful of warm red with a thick swallow. The owl could barely pay attention to Odette and Clara’s fight for their lives in front of her, but she forced herself to focus on the battle. But when Alastor ran his tongue across the fresh teeth marks on her throat, she felt her face heating up, and she decided she had enough.

From the owl’s point of view, she could see just how much of an impact she has had on the deer. He protected her from an assassination attempt because he had grown attached to the chains around his neck, and it made Athena swell with pride at the level of control she had over Alastor. But Alastor was holding her for his own reasons; he could see just how much of an impact he has had on her. Forcing a mother to attack and kill her own children to keep them quiet was sad*stic on its own, but to see her use his own powers to also have Carmine dance like a puppet on strings while instilling an unforgettable sense of fear of Athena and her capabilities while doing so was downright delicious.

Carmine was standing above Clara, her foot held above the sheep demon’s head and poised to strike, but as soon as the blade was forced to come down and end her daughter’s life, she felt the green strings vanish. The weapons dealer was able to move her foot away from the girl’s face so it instead slammed into the concrete, barely nicking her daughter’s ear.

The minor Overlord jumped off of Clara in a panic before falling to the ground. Her body was shaking as the adrenaline and fear pumping in her blood finally started to fizzle out and her mind was starting to comprehend what she had almost done. She almost killed her daughter, and the thought of what could’ve happened if she didn’t move her foot away when she did made every nerve in her body twist with horrified guilt.

“You’re lucky I’m in a good mood,” Athena piped up from a few meters away, voice rather breathless. Carmine glanced over to the owl to see Alastor hunched over her with his arms wrapped around her waist. “But I trust you know what will happen if any word of what those two girls have seen gets out. I’ll be by your office later to discuss the specifics of our Contract. Now g̸̫͚̽̂e̸̼̽̋t̴̻͆̿ ̶̳͕̅̇ȯ̸͉̏ủ̴̥̀ẗ̵̻́ ̸̼͒̈o̷̳̎͠f̶̺͎̈́ ̷̞̑m̵̳̫̔̐y̸̭̘̓ ̴̱̒̊ẗ̸̥̱ë̵͙́͠r̵͇̹̓r̶͎̄͝ì̶̖t̸̡͝o̴̻̚r̵͈͆y̴̤̭͝͝.

Carmine stood on trembling legs before gathering her shaken girls and fleeing immediately. He knew what Athena was capable of now, and she didn’t want her or her daughters to be anywhere near that monster. And as soon as they were gone, Athena grabbed a fistful of dark green links and yanked, pulling the deer’s head away from her neck.

The owl turned around in Alastor’s arms so that they were facing each other with her talons still wrapped around the chain. “As much as I love your enthusiasm, my deer, I’m going to have to ask you to hold off on that until I fix my wounds.” At this moment, as she thought about Alastor protecting her from Carmine, she understood his impulsive move to kiss her earlier in the radio tower, but she managed to dig up enough self control to not repeat his mistake. Athena cupped her deer’s ash-gray cheek and pressed her forehead to the mark above his brows, and she felt his arms tightening around her waist as he leaned into her embrace.

Chapter 37: Chapter 37

Chapter Text

When the deer and the owl went back to the casino after Athena stitched her wounds up, they saw Husk sitting at the bar downing a shot. Evidently, he hadn’t called someone to fix the lights and instead voted on keeping the casino closed so he could drink in peace. The ladybug Sinner was taking a nap, face first on a couch in the lobby. The cat Sinner didn’t ask her to leave because she was cleaning up the blood, trash, and vomit on the ground for free.

But like an alarm, Niffty immediately shot up as soon as Athena and Alastor walked in through the front door. “The bad boy is back!” she had chirped happily as she skittered up to the deer. “You tracked blood in here! I just mopped!'' The ladybug jumped onto Alastor’s chest and grabbed the lapels of his jacket, tone now scolding. Athena felt her tail feathers flick as she wondered how the deer was going to kill Niffty. He found amusem*nt in the ladybug’s antics, but he hated physical touch unless he was the one initiating it. However, no bloodshed followed the interaction, so Athena filed that little bit of information away for later analysis.

He has been much more tolerant of her proximity as of late, and she didn’t really notice until she started thinking about it. And he wasn’t just tolerant of it; he had been actively encouraging it. The owl had to admit that she was enjoying the intimacy (maybe a little too much), but she couldn’t help but ask herself what had changed and why.

Athena scrunched her nose in thought as she wondered when did she develop such a dependency on him. To some extent, the owl has always relied on Alastor for his strength, but as of late, that dependency has mutated to an addiction. She always craved to have him close, and that longing had only escalated when in her more humanoid Sinner form.

Even now as she sat at the bar watching Alastor and Niffty, she couldn’t help but feel a cold and twitchy sensation crawling under her skin. She rubbed her biceps to try and alleviate it, but the action only temporarily chased off the uneasy feeling.

The movement of her arms pulled at the stitches in her shoulders, and it reminded her of how Alastor had protected her. The deer had protected her before, but it was always indirect like how he had broken her out of the Vee’s penthouse, but he had never gone out of his way for her. Athena ran her claws through her feathers and sighed.

The owl sat down at the bar and flared her flight feathers out before lighting them with a bright green fire to give the casino some light. The deer and ladybug joined her, and Husk ignored them in favor of his whiskey. Alastor made his cane vanish in a puff of smoke as he took a seat at the bar. “Husker, my good man! Would you mind pouring us a glass of red wine?”

“Bar’s closed, asshole,” Husk grumbled as he took a breath of air before going back to drinking like there was no tomorrow.

“Oh, I’m afraid I’m going to have to decline, my deer,” Athena ignored the grumpy cat and waved her hand at Alastor, causing embers to flick from her wrist with a small crackle. “I don’t drink.”

“Oh come now, ma biche,” the deer laughed as he moved his bar stool closer to Athena’s. “You simply must enjoy your eternal damnation! Who in their right mind would dare to cross us?”

Alastor knew that the reason she never had alcohol here in Hell was because she relied on her sharp mind to keep her alive, and any sort of inhibition would be a danger to her survival. Whenever he would offer her a drink, she would immediately turn it down, and he had been doing so even before he had given her a more humanoid form. Athena always had to assume that he was trying to get her weakened so he could kill her and free herself from his Soul Contract, but he had plenty of opportunity to get rid of her when Carmine attacked. “Who in their right mind would dare to cross us?” That’s that he had said. Not ‘me’, he said ‘us’. He believed in her ability just as much as he believed in his own, and that meant more to her than it probably should’ve.

Athena sighed and ran a hand through the feathers on her head before turning to Husk, who was grabbing a bottle of wine from the shelf in the back, “Do you have Malibu?”

Alastor wrapped an arm around the owl’s shoulders and got uncomfortably (delightfully) close to her. “Good girl~” He purred in her ear with the same tone she used with him and ran his hand up her arm to her neck.

Athena instantly bristled with a growl, and the flames on her back burst up and almost singed the ceiling. But it didn’t seem to bother Alastor. If anything, he was more amused than intimidated. The deer only cackled at her reaction and a laugh track briefly played from his microphone, and he pulled her close, almost dragging her off the barstool. The plumicorns on Athena’s head folded down as she put her hand to her mouth to hide her cheeks that were quickly reddening from anger (embarrassment).

Husk eventually decided to indulge in the request for drinks and got out a couple glasses along with a bottle of red wine for Alastor before going over to grab some Malibu from under the counter. Athena watched him pour some mint and lime juice in the glass before adding ice cubes along with the Malibu rum and then topping it with soda water.

Husk slid the glass towards the owl, who wrapped her talons around it before tapping it with a hum. Athena took a sip but then had to wince in disgust as she pulled it away from her lips, which pulled a laugh from Alastor as he poured himself a drink from the wine bottle. She snarled at the deer and took another sip, this time more used to the taste. She wasn’t a fan of mint, but the strong taste of the alcoholic and carbonated drinks in the co*cktail covered it up fine.

Athena swirled the co*cktail in her hand for a moment before looking up at the cat, “What ever happened to Valentino? Did Vox swing by to pick up his remains?”

“Yeah, and I gave him the goddamn bill for killing my lights,” Husk waved a paw and sat back in the stool behind the counter. “Asshole threw a real fit in the alley. You must’ve f*cked up that p*rn f*cker up bad.”

The owl took another sip with a hum. She knew that Valentino wasn’t dead; she didn’t use her angelic claws on him, so he was just in a lot of pain following the incident in the alley. Sinners couldn’t die unless it was a holy weapon. If their bodies were damaged, then they would have to pull themselves back together, but that could take hours. And since Athena had torn him apart and eaten several organs in his body, regeneration was bound to take days.

“Oh yeah, she tore the bad boy apart with her bare hands,” Niffty was laying on the bar on her stomach, giggling and kicking her feet like a gossiping schoolgirl. She then started giggling in a deranged fashion as she recounted what happened in the alley. “It was really messy.”

The deer directed his smirk to the owl, who was hiding her face in the glass of alcohol and refusing to make eye contact. “Did she now? And would you mind filling me in on such grotesque details?” Alastor and Niffty both started to snicker, two peas in a pod, those two, and Athena took a lengthy sip from her glass, almost downing the rest of it in one go. Husk just audibly snorted in amusem*nt as he watched his boss being tormented at his bar.

Chapter 38: Chapter 38

Notes:

EVERYBODY LOOK AT THIS FANART
(i still don’t know how to drop a proper link bc i’m a loser lmao)

https://www.tumblr.com/orcfront/744865906643042304/avocavocado-here-is-athena-i-will-add-some

Chapter Text

Angel Dust grumbled tiredly as he grabbed a bottle of scotch from the cabinet. He normally wouldn’t go for something so dull, but he was desperate for a drink. Val had been in a very foul mood as of late, and the moth was having too much fun taking it out on the spider. He seemed to be developing a hate f*ck kink and was insisting Angel wear green and black when he was being painfully drilled into the mattress.

The spider gulped down the whiskey greedily, welcoming burn in his throat as the drink went down. He wasn’t about to go after his favorite co*cktails to waste the night away; he didn’t want to associate those party drinks with his boss’s temper tantrum. Sex in the Driveway and Cali Girl were for having a night out with Cherri, not sulking in his sorrows after a sh*tty work day.

But Angel noticed that Val had gained an irrational hatred for anything with feathers, and he had taken it out on several of the spider’s coworkers. So he had started buying little bird plushies and hiding them in random corners of the moth’s studio and his office just to piss his boss off. He had to admit that he got a real kick out of seeing Val tear apart those plushies like a rabid dog as soon as he saw them, but his little prank finally came back to bite him in the ass after the pimp caught him planting a bird under the bed on set.

And that incident gave Angel a black eye and led to Val locking the two of them in his office for seven hours straight. The spider honestly thought he wouldn’t make it out alive until he heard Vox slamming his fist against the door of the moth’s office, demanding him to come out to help him deal with something. The shouting match between the two Overlords had been lost on Angel, but he vaguely heard Val screaming “If you can have a f*cking hate boner, so can I!” The spider finally had the time and room to breathe after the moth stomped out in a huff and left him alone in the ruined office.

Angel had gotten up and did his usual routine after his boss had a temper tantrum. But as he tossed the bottle off the balcony of his room in the Vee’s tower, he had a thought. Val obviously had beef with someone, and this was serious beef. The pimp had the mentality of a child sometimes. He had everything handed to him because of his immense power and wealth, but if he didn’t get what he wanted, then he'd throw a hissy fit. Val wanted this person dead, but since it hasn’t happened yet, then this mystery demon was probably able to elude Angel’s boss.

If there was someone out there strong enough to piss off one of the most powerful Overlords in Hell and get away with it, then Angel needed to find them. The spider wouldn’t dare hope that this bird could get him out of his deal with Val because he knew it was a lost cause. But this mystery demon could tell him how they managed to get away with royally pissing off Val so much.

Angel had texted Cherri a few hours ago for a favor. Since she was not bound to any Contract, she had the freedom to do whatever she wanted, so the spider asked her to find a bird Sinner wearing green and black. It wasn’t a very helpful description, but Cherri readily agreed to help because she said quote “You’ll owe me one, Angie. You were supposed ta hit the club with me tonight. You better pay me back with a dozen shots, ya bitch.”

And for the next several hours, Angel received texts from his friend that featured blurry photos of birds of all shapes and sizes that had even a touch of black or green in their feathers. Most Sinners were colored black and red or some combination of similar shades, so there weren’t many demons with green on them at all. And the pictures Cherri sent the spider were birds of some variety with some black but no green; none of them were entirely black and green like how Val seemed to describe the Sinner who f*cked with him.

But finally, Angel got a picture of a demon who was nothing but black and green (with a hint of gold), and the spider instantly knew that this was the one. He texted Cherri with a thanks and a promise to pay back her favor before looking up the building the owl Sinner was seen in front of. It looked to be a smaller branch of the Jackpot Casino owned by the Gambling Demon, Husk. He doesn’t keep up with Overlord politics, but from what he’s heard, this cat took over the entire industry overnight and owned each and every casino in the Pentagram. He was a very powerful Overlord.

Angel didn’t know if this mystery bird demon was close friends with (or sleeping with) the Gambling Demon, and this was how she managed to get away with getting on Val’s bad side, but he had to know. His boss was driving him crazy, much more than usual, and the spider was getting desperate. He knew of this building; it was a few blocks away from Cannibal Town and was a small establishment with not a lot of traffic.

It was possible that this mystery bird frequented the place, so it was probably the only place where he had a chance of finding her. He could always ask Cherri to help him look in exchange for another favor; the spunky anarchist never asked for anything extreme to pay back the favors owed to her. Angel would probably just have to help her in a turf war or accompany her to a nightclub or something.

The spider got up and stretched out his sore back, reveling in the cracking of his stiff joints and aching muscles. He had worked overtime because of Val’s tantrum, so that meant the moth was obligated to give the sex worker a pretty penny because of their Contract. Angel gingerly buttoned his pink and white suit up before checking for marks on his face in the mirror. It was nothing a little bit of makeup couldn’t hide, so once the spider deemed himself presentable, he grabbed his purse and walked out the door.

Chapter 39: Chapter 39

Notes:

ANOTHER ART

https://www.tumblr.com/orcfront/744965429714452480/just-a-quick-doodle-when-picking-the

Chapter Text

Athena let her head fall onto the back of her hand that was resting on the counter of the bar with a groan. Her talons were wrapped around the fifth glass of Malibu co*cktail, and her stomach turned uncomfortably from the amount of alcohol sitting in it. She’s never been drunk before, not even tipsy, so she didn’t know if she was either right now. But what she did know was that this sensation was comparable to wearing goggles that made the world travel in slow motion. There were times she would look at something and see double of it, and her eyes burned with the need to close them and take a nap.

Athena’s entire body felt sluggish, and she was barely able to move her arms and neck to get herself to sit back up in the barstool. She took a deep breath in, eyes bugging out as she eyed the talons under her phasing in and out of focus after lifting her head. The owl rubbed her eyes to try getting the world to make sense again. But when it didn’t work, she let her head fall back onto the table, and she heard a howl of static laughter next to her.

“Come on, my lovely doe!” Alastor crowed cheerfully. He leaned back in his chair and gave unrestrained cackles. “Even little Niffty can hold her liquor better than you!” he downed the rest of her glass just to show off. The deer already had twice or even thrice the amount of alcohol she has, and he was still going strong with just a small flush on his cheeks and slanted eyes. Niffty was hopping about the bar, little claws digging into the wood to skitter all over the counter, giggling madly. The owl decided then that there was no noticeable difference between regular ladybug and drunk ladybug. If she didn’t know that Niffty had downed nine shots of vodka, then she wouldn’t have known from her behavior alone.

Athena clenched her eyes shut and ran a hand down her face. “It’s so f*ckin’ hot in here…”

“That’s because you are literally on fire,” Husk remarked with a smirk. He didn’t even try to hide the smug look on his face as he saw just how much of a lightweight his boss was.

“Hah?” she replied as she glanced at him dazedly. The green flames were still steadily flowing off the feathers on her wings, the embers licking the barstool legs before rising into the air. Luckily, this fire was generated by magic and didn’t produce any smoke, or the demons would’ve had to evacuate hours ago.

Athena had to admit that even though she was the current butt of the joke, she had to admit that this was not a horrible change of scenery. No scheming, no plotting, just a group of friends hanging out. She ignored that little voice in the back of her mind telling her that these were not friends. She quite literally owned all three of the demons sitting at the bar with her, and she doubted that they would actually tolerate her presence if they weren’t being forced to.

But if she dismissed that thought and only focused on the scene itself, then it made her think about what her life had been like before she died, and when those memories resurfaced, Athena was reminded as to why she and pushed down those thoughts to begin with. It had already been almost eighty years since she died, and sometimes days or even weeks would go by where she forgot she even had a life before appearing in Hell.

But it still didn’t change the fact that she felt the fire on her back burn brighter with humiliation and rage at being laughed at for not her very little alcohol intake. She snatched the glass from Alastor’s claws and slammed it back onto the counter, face scrunched up in a snarl, “Gimme another.

Husk only snickered before pouring another co*cktail, not intimidated in any way by her flexing her magic. The deer wrapped his arm around Athena’s shoulders and held her close to his chest, and the flames on her feathers started to calm almost immediately. “Oh, it’s quite alright, ma biche,” he cackled as he guided her head to lie against his chest. “We all must start somewhere, but I think you’ve had enough for tonight.”

“What’s your deal?” Athena murmured against the scarlet fabric with a groan. She heard the slide of glass across wood and tried reaching for the co*cktail with an uncoordinated hand but was having no such luck getting the glass. She was barely able to see the deer grab hold of the drink and push it to the side.

The owl wasn’t just referring to the deer cutting her off when she had too much to drink. It was rather asking why the deer had been acting so differently around her lately. Gifting her a more humanoid form, cooking for her when she came home carrying rats in her claws, even going out of his way to protect her from Carmine. It was completely out of character for him, at least, out of character for the Alastor that had signed the Contract all those years ago.

Normally, she would not be so confrontational about something like this and would instead play games with Alastor while she uncovered the truth herself with carefully worded questions and picking up on intentions behind even the most miniscule of choices. Blurting out the question so directly was foreign for both Athena and Alastor, but the alcohol in her system was making it difficult to think and was loosening her tongue.

“You hate me, don’t you?” the owl asked, and she immediately felt Alastor freeze. He could hear the audible guilt in her voice as she said that short little sentence, but each and every word was a weight that had sat heavily on her shoulders for years. But the deer had to ask himself what she was feeling guilty about. Was she feeling guilty about almost killing Carmine’s daughters? Was she feeling guilty for slaying all those casino Overlords to allow Husk to rise to power? Was she feeling guilty for having Alastor on a leash?

“... You’ve had enough for tonight,” the deer’s voice was noticeably softer as he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and stood up. Athena felt herself becoming weightless as he tucked his arm under her knees with his other behind her back. She folded her wings into her chest as the fire finally went out with a small crackle, and as the world faded around her in a hazy spiral, she couldn’t help but notice that he didn’t answer her questions.

As the fire died, inky black shadows rose from the floor and engulfed the two Overlords before vanishing in a wisp, leaving Husk alone with Niffty again. The cat had to admit that the ladybug was not bad company; she even offered to clean his crap casino free of charge, but she was a little hyperactive because of all of the alcohol in her system. He just decided to let her get everything out of her system; she’ll crash on the couch or the floor eventually.

The red wine and Malibu co*cktails had been left on the counter, and Husk decided to dump them later. He wasn’t a fan of fruity drinks, and the deer and owl had been using those glasses all night, so he wasn’t touching them without a thorough scrub.

It was dark in the casino again, and Husk enjoyed the silence for the few moments they were there. Niffty was still skittering about, collecting any sort of trash she might’ve missed on the first fourteen sweeps of the building. But then his blissful silence was interrupted much more forcefully by the door being thrown open and a tall figure walking inside. “The casino’s closed, asshole! Read the sign!” Husk regretted sending half of the guards home for the day; the only ones left were his personal bodyguards, so there was no one stopping customers from entering the darkened casino.

“Oh, I’m not here for the casino, boss man,” an almost sultry voice spoke from the doorway as the mystery demon walked in. The Gambling Demon could see a silhouette but no defining features so far. But as the tall figure got closer, he could see hot pink and white as they practically draped themselves over his bar. Husk grumbled as the mystery demon downed the left behind co*cktail with practiced ease. “I’m here for you.”

Chapter 40: Chapter 40

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

“Hey, why the hell is it so f*ckin’ dark in here?” another voice grumbled as he walked into the casino after the taller demon. He was rather short in stature and had red skin, curved black and white horns, and an arrowhead tail. He was kicking several chairs and stools as he took a few steps into the darkened building. Husk could see that he was wearing a formal suit and sunglasses, but it looked like the demon was in no hurry to take off said sunglasses so he could see. He was an imp, a low-ranked Hellborn, and Husk had to groan again as this imp carried a sniper into his casino, he was probably a bodyguard to the taller demon. She had hot pink skin, long flowing white hair, little bat wings, a shade-shaped tail, and wore a tight-fitting black and white minidress with a contrasting “X” and “O” shapes over her chest under a burly light pink fur coat.

“Who the f*ck are you supposed to be?” the cat Sinner grumbled as he took the glass from the demon still sitting at his bar. He flicked an ear, a silent and subtle signal to his personal bodyguards hiding in the shadows of his bar to stay on alert.

“The name’s Verosika Mayday,” the succubus purred as she stood up from the counter. She flipped her long hair and curled her tail upwards in self-importance.“Bad boy, heeheehee…” Niffty cackled drunkenly as she skittered up to the imp in the suit hanging back at the entrance of the casino.

“Back off, you freaky little bitch,” the Hellborn demon growled and pointed the barrel of the gun at the ladybug Sinner. But Niffty just lunged forwards and stabbed the sniper with a knife before sinking her teeth into the forearm of the imp. He let out a rather girlish shriek and started frantically trying to shake the little Sinner off, but Niffty just growled like a dog and kept holding on, giggling madly.

“Some bodyguard you got there, lady,” Husk snorted at the succubus still standing in front of his bar. He was tempted to wave his own guards off, but he didn’t know what this “Verosika” character wanted. For all he knew, that incompetent imp was just for show, and she was hiding an angelic weapon under that pink fur coat.

“He’s certainly a real beefcake,” Verosika snickered as she fondly watched the bodyguard flail. She could tell that the imp was in no real danger, so she did not appear worried. The Gambling Demon could tell that she and him were in a relationship, so that imbecile probably only got a job as her bodyguard because he couldn't get a job anywhere else.

“But, anyway,” the succubus turned back to the cat Sinner. “I’m here to talk business with you, Gambling Demon.”

“Huh?” Husk curled a lip and raised an eyebrow. He didn’t want to admit that he was slightly interested, but he was willing to admit that this Verosika person had balls. Hellborn were seen as the bottom of the food chain, at least compared to Sinners, and Husk was a rank above them, and on top of that, he was one of the most feared Overlords in the capital city of the Pride Ring. He was curious as to what she wanted to say by default, but he did not want to put up with anyone for the rest of the night. Or the rest of the week.

“I hear you are in desperate need of some… performers in your casino, and I am just the demon you’ve been looking for,” Verosika put a hand to her chest and narrowed her amber eyes.

“Sorry, lady, but we don’t do those kinds of performances here,” Husk poured himself a drink from the red wine Alastor had been drinking from earlier. Wine wasn’t really his thing, but he wanted a drink, and he did not want to turn his back to this succubus. “You’d be better off lookin’ for Valentino.”

At the mention of the moth’s name, Verosika straightened up with a scoff, dropping the seductive act entirely and suddenly, “Urgh, that motherf*cker.”

“Excuse me?” Husk titled his head, now curious.

“I’ve heard a lot of nasty things about that guy,” the succubus scrunched her face in disgust. “He gives lust a bad name. But I’m not here to talk about him. And I’m not here to talk about sex work. But I have to wonder… why did you assume I was~?” Verosika put a hand on her hip and raised an eyebrow with a smirk, wanting to see the Overlord squirm as he tried to come up with a reason as to why he would make an assumption about her profession based on her species.

“You are wearing revealing clothing, you have been talking in a sultry tone with me from the moment you stepped foot in my goddamn casino, and you downed that shot glass like you were sucking dick,” Husk replied snippily, not flustered in the slightest from being put on the spot.

Verosika didn’t expect such a blunt reply, but the Gambling Demon wasn’t done. “And besides, I haven’t heard of you before, lady. What makes you think you’re good enough to dance for the most popular casino in the Pride Ring?” He truthfully did not think of himself as pompous and above the other Sinners in the Pentagram. Husk knew that the only reason he had such power and prestige was because of Athena. He didn’t earn this title and he sure as hell didn’t want it. But he knew that if he didn’t do his job and do his job well, he would get an angelic bullet in his head.

“I’m a singer,” Verosika corrected with a flip of her hair. “And one of the best in Lust. Give me the chance to perform in one of your smaller establishments in the Pentagram, and when I turn a profit for you, you will let me make my debut in Hell on the most popular casino stage in the Pentagram.”

“co*cky little sh*t, aren’t you?” Husk remained unimpressed by her proposition. “If you’re so popular in the other Rings, then why not perform over there? I’m sure the “best singer in Lust” would have plenty of opportunities to perform if she was so very famous.”

The succubus almost flinched, and the Gambling Demon could easily tell that she was only telling half-truths to make herself look impressive. She was hiding her lies under a provocative appearance and performance, but that sh*t doesn’t work on a Sinner who makes a living off of ripping off naïve and stupid Sinners.

“Hey, she wasn't lying when she said she’s the best damn singer in Lust, motherf*cker!” The imp slammed his gun on the counter and pointed at Husk accusingly. The cat could still hear Niffty gnawing at the Hellborn bodyguard’s arm under the shouting. “They just don’t know it yet. And if you want collateral, then I got a sh*t ton of rare jewelry and artifacts that I stole from the Goetia mansion a few years back!”

“You really shouldn’t flaunt the fact that you stole from Goetias, kid, you’ll get into some real sh*t,” Husk rolled his eyes at the feisty imp. He appeared nonchalant, but he took the opportunity to check the gun to see if it was modified to hold angelic bullets. It didn’t appear to be, but he wanted to make sure. And he sure as hell wasn’t about to get involved with those pompous owls. But a sudden thought struck him. The majority of Goetias were owls, and his boss happened to be an owl. The connection was a very large stretch, and there were quite a few holes missing, but he couldn’t deny that the idea of Athena being associated with the nobles of Hell was an interesting one.

“And I don’t wanna get mixed up with your stolen bling,” Husk tapped the counter with his claws. “Pawn what you got for cold hard cash and then we’ll talk. But until then, keep in mind that it’s not just money that’s at stake; it’s my reputation. If I find you to be a sh*t singer, then you won’t be stepping into my casinos ever again.”

“Well, then,” Verosika purred. She then flicked her hair and turned to walk out of the building. “I’ll be sure to blow you away, boss~ Oh, and thank you for lending your little maid to entertain my bodyguard while us grown ups were talking.”

“Get her off of me…!” the imp snarled as he grabbed hold of Niffty and tried to rip her off of his arm, but the little ladybug kept holding on, red blood dribbling onto the freshly cleaned floor.

“Aye, Niff. Bug!” Husk called out, and he let his lips quirk up in amusem*nt as the little Sinner immediately let go and dashed off into the corner after the imaginary insect, giggling madly as she got out a long needle from her dress.

Notes:

lmao gottem

Chapter 41: St Patrick's Day Filler Arc

Summary:

this is a one-shot that is not canon to the story of "radio demon duo"

it's just athena being silly with the hotel residents

Notes:

anon put the idea of a holiday special in my head and it's been squatting here ever since. sorry if this isn't what you guys were expecting, but i hope you enjoy the show regardless!

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Athena sighed as she lit the end of a cigarette with an acidic green flame. She brought the cancer stick to her mouth and pursed her lips around the orange end, just letting herself think. She closed her eyes and took a deep corrosive breath, allowing the poison to infect her the same way the rest of Hell had over the one hundred years she’s been dead.

She vaguely had to wonder when she had picked up smoking. She was never interested in such activities when she was alive, but one could only go so long in a realm such as this without indulging in such curiosities. The owl was sitting in the lounge area of the Hazbin Hotel. She had come out of her room on the thirteenth floor to get away from the books and cork boards so she could just let herself relax for one day. It has been non-stop plotting and fighting for almost as long as she could remember, and for just twenty-four hours, she wanted it to stop.

A sudden jolt on the back of her head violently pulled her from her thoughts. She coughed out a puff of smoke, and green cinders flicked from her mouth. Athena squawked indignantly and rubbed her head in the same area she felt the jarring pinch. Her eyes flared angrily as she glanced behind her to see Angel Dust twirling a black and green feather between his fingers, and the owl figured out what he had done. She snarled at him but didn’t snap, “What. Are you doing, Angel Dust?”

The spider only turned to face her and replied with a dismissive tone, which did nothing to lighten Athena’s mood, “Oh, heya, toots. It’s St. Patrick’s Day today or some sh*t, so ya gotta wear green. But I got no green in my wardrobe, so I figured this would be the next best thing.” He then made a show of pinning the plucked feather to the lapel of his pink and white suit, looking disgruntled at the idea of what he was currently doing.

The owl felt her eye twitch, “Is there a reason as to why you did not ask me? I have plenty of shed feathers from the last season I could’ve lent you.”

“Well, look who finally started payin’ attention to the lesson plans?” Angel wiggled an eyebrow teasingly. “And it was the “Sharing is Caring” Lesson?”

“What absolute nonsense,” Athena growled, lip curling up. “I was offering an alternative to you plucking a feather off of my head. And why are you so interested in this… St Patrick’s Day? I don’t know much about the history of such a holiday, but I suspect it should not be celebrated in Hell.”

“Oh, come on, Athena,” Charlie slid down the stairs and into the lounge area with her usual happy go lucky smile. She was wearing her usual red suit, but the owl could see a large four leaf clover tucked into her breast pocket. “St Patrick’s Day may have started as a way to honor a saint, but it is also a day to celebrate Irish culture! At least… that’s what I’ve read about it…”

Athena only blinked at her with an irritated expression. She then turned back to the fireplace and took another drag from her cigarette. “Hey! No smoking in the lounge!” A lower tone female voice piped up as she made her way down the stairs to stand next to her girlfriend. Vaggie was not wearing much green, but the tie in her hair was green instead of pink today.

At the mention of smoking, Angel dashed back up to Athena and eyed her more carefully, “Ey, can I get one o’ those, toots?” The spider palmed the owl a fiver, and she handed over a cancer stick, much to the fallen Exorcist’s annoyance and the p*rn star’s glee.

Athena took another drag from her cigarette as Angel puffed out a donut ring at Razzle, who was hovering above the couch. The goat demon flew through the ring with a grin and then bowed dramatically like a performer at a circus, and his brother clapped enthusiastically. The owl grumbled as she crushed the burning end of the stick in the overflowing ashtray on the coffee table in front of her.

“Now, look who is dressed for the holidays!” The disembodied cry of a stag and the eldritch pressure of a truly demonic presence announced Alastor’s arrival, and he appeared in the lounge from the shadows of the couch Athena and Angel were sitting on. “I never took you for one who was so enthusiastic about such an occasion, my dear!”

The owl glanced back at the deer to see he had a couple of green beaded necklaces sitting comfortably on his chest. Much like the other residents, Alastor didn’t change his wardrobe any. The denizens of Hell wore mostly black and red as their primary color scheme, and the Radio Demon was no exception. Athena knew Alastor was only pulling her tail. She always wore green, so he was only poking fun when he suggested that she wore this color for the holiday.

“I could say the same about you,” the owl retorted. “I never took you for one who would even entertain the idea of this St Patrick’s Day thing.”

“Oh, you wound me, darling,” Alastor waved a hand with a chuckle. “I have always enjoyed celebrations such as these! Why, I remember watching the dancers and the musicians fly through the city on these nights. The pubs and clubs all around the town would be filled to the brim with merriment! Truly unrivaled entertainment!”

Athena didn’t expect Alastor of all people to be the most excited about a holiday, and when she voiced such a thing to the deer, he only laughed, “St Patrick’s Day, Labor Day, Mardi Gras, even the Day of the Dead, New Orleans had it all! The party capital of the world, they’d say!”

Angel let out another puff, but Vaggie evidently had enough and cut the cigarette right out of the spider’s mouth with a slash from her spear. Angel then wailed as he watched the flakes of the stick fall to the ground. He fell to his hands and knees, bemoaning dramatically, “My cigarette… It was innocent…!”

Charlie hesitantly reached out to the spider, “Uhm… Angel…?”

He then shushed her instantly, bowing his head in mourning, “Sh! I must grieve…”

Athena quirked a brow at the display but was even more surprised to see Alastor offer a hand to her, “A word, if you will, my dear?”

The owl got up from the couch and took the offered claw before the two of them were swept from the lobby in a wave of inky black shadows. Athena opened her eyes and shook her head, slightly disoriented. She never did get used to the deer’s preferred method of travel, and she didn’t think she ever would. They were on one of the balconies of the hotel, and Athena got the first breath of fresh air in days.

“Would you mind explaining why you appear to be in such a foul mood?” Alastor spun his cane and followed the owl as she took a few steps forwards to lean against the railing.

“I’m afraid I am simply feeling a little under the feather,” she replied easily, and she heard a static glitch as the deer snorted with amusem*nt behind her. “I suppose I was just hoping that I would be able to relax today.”

“Hm. Were you under the impression that you are not able to?” Alastor walked up to her, heels clicking on the ground.

Athena brought her cigarette to her mouth and took in the smoke before letting out a deep and long breath, “I have a feeling Charlie is probably going to try to turn this day into one of her exercises or some such nonsense.”

The deer only chuckled as he took the stick from her claws and brought it to his lips to take a drag. His scarlet eyes then twinkled mischievously, “I will not disclose your whereabouts if you offer me the same courtesy.”

Athena only chuckled and held her hand out expectantly. He handed it back to her, and she took another breath. Alastor hummed as his lips curled up in a nostalgic smile. He watched her take another drag from the cigarette and then looked out onto the view from the balcony. “When I was alive, I quite enjoyed my career as a radio host, and the hunts that took up my night were always especially thrilling. But I will admit that it was always nice to simply escape for a few hours.”

The owl tapped her cigarette onto the railing under her elbows and hummed in acknowledgement. There wasn’t much to say anymore. The two of them were completely content to just relax and live in the moment. The craziness and excitement and the stress that comes with the usual status quo can wait for just one day.

Notes:

bls be responsible as you celebrate the holidays, dear listeners! see you tomorrow!

Chapter 42: Chapter 42

Notes:

fellas this is kinda suggestive i get a little zesty in this chapter

Chapter Text

Athena was still passed out as the shadows took her and Alastor to the apartment complex beneath the radio tower. The owl was a very paranoid creature; she had placed some sort of seals on her apartment to prevent the deer from entering her place, so the only option was his home a few doors down in their building.

Alastor placed Athena on the couch in his living room under the window, but before he could turn to leave, a hand shot out and grabbed his wrist and tugged him down onto the cushions with her. The deer’s eyes widened almost comically as he plummeted down from the sudden lurch forward, but before he could get up, the owl had pressed a clawed hand to his chest and pushed his shoulders back against the arm of the couch and leaned over him with a dark grin.

Alastor was stunned into silence for a moment, and he felt his ear twitch when her hand slithered up his neck and a single black claw traced his jawline. Athena licked her lips, eyes narrowed in a sultry stare, “Now, aren’t you pretty~? Surely you’d be much tastier than that wretched bug I ate.”

The deer finally managed to snap back to his senses when he realized with a jolt what was going on. Valentino must’ve been her first meal as a cannibal, and she was completely unused to the ravenous hunger that came with eating another being the way she had. It was a withdrawal of sorts, and she was attempting to lure Alastor in like a siren to satiate the urge to feast. But the deer was an experienced cannibal, and he instantly recognized the signs and determined that she was acting very out of sorts due to the alcohol in her system as well as the craving for more food.

“My dear,” Alastor latched onto Athena’s wrists and forced her claws away from him with a stern tone. “Out of respect for you and for myself, I will be asking you to retire for the night before you do something you will regret in the morning when you are of sound mind.”

However, holding her back did not deter the owl in the slightest. She snickered mischievously before suddenly lunging forwards with the speed and precision of a viper, a surprising display for someone so intoxicated. Her fangs sank into the side of his neck, quickly piercing skin and flooding her mouth with his blood. Alastor let out an undignified yelp and instinctively let go of her wrists to instead grab onto her shoulders for stability as a rush of pleasure ran down his spine.

He could vaguely feel her now free hands wander upwards to rake through Alastor’s hair, petting his ears where she knew he was most sensitive. She massaged the base of the fluffy tufts before her claws caressed the fur around his antlers, and the deer felt himself melt into the couch. He leaned his head back into her touch, and the motion bared his neck for her, claws digging into the fabric on her shoulders as she started to chew on the flesh in her jaws.

“That’s it~” the owl cooed in a soft voice. She gently ran her tongue across the bloody marks, and Alastor was ashamed to admit that he felt himself relax under her from her tone. “Stay nice and still for me, my prey…” Her claws started scratching his head harder, and the deer let out an involuntary moan.

He didn’t realize until now just how much he truly needed this. Decades of being closed off from the rest of the world had left him unfathomably touch starved, so such soft intimacy alone was downright heavenly. Pair that feeling with the fangs in his sensitive neck, the familiar rush of unexplainable euphoria brought on by the owl’s chains, and the adrenaline of his fight or flight response from being cornered by a predator excited him in such an addictive way.

Alastor’s face had gone red, and his breathing was noticeably heavier. He felt helpless under his owner’s hold, and the sensations brought on a pleasure unlike any he thought was possible. He couldn’t believe just how quickly his body had given up on him. He blamed the alcohol in his blood for his current predicament and for what he was about to do next. He blindly reached for the chain around his neck with his magic, hoping that Athena would understand the message he was trying to send in his dazed state. If he could feel the tugs on the leash, then she should be able to as well, right?

The owl felt her tail feathers flick in curiosity at the weak tug coming from the tether on her soul. She growled and clenched her fist around the links, and Alastor groaned as the dark green chains leaped out and wrapped around his wrists, his chest, his shoulders, his hips, their sharp thorns digging into his suit and then into his skin. The delicious pain was pulling little sighs and moans from the deer as he slumped back against the couch in relief.

“Is this what you wanted?” Athena purred, eying Alastor’s flushed face with faint amusem*nt.

“Ah… Athena…” he murmured, which only fueled the owl’s desire. The soft way he had uttered her name made the ravenous fire in her core burn brighter. Never before had she felt such a connection to anyone. It felt deeper than the chains connecting them already, and she never wanted it to end. But the power hungry and bloodthirsty demon in her demanded more from the prey beneath her.

“Now, now, my deer,” the owl ran one hand down the demon’s face to cup his gray cheek, and Alastor pressed his face into her palm, practically purring with a dazed expression. “You can do better than that~ What is it you really wanted to call me?”

“M-mh… ngh-!” the deer dared to open his mouth, but his words turned to whines before they could even form.

Athena shushed him gently and ran her hands through his hair, successfully calming him, “Try again, my deer.” Her voice was deceptively soft like it was coaxing a timid and wounded stag out into the open. Alastor knew she was a predator lying in wait for her prey to come to her so she could deliver a killing blow, but he couldn’t control himself. And it was delicious.

“Mnnh… o-owner…” Alastor almost whimpered.

“Good boy~” she cooed, and the owl rewarded her beloved deer with another bite on his neck. The rush of power flooding her veins was intoxicating. To see the demon she had under Contract be so utterly and completely controlled by her soft caresses, her sultry words, her hold on his leash. It was a euphoria completely different to anything she has ever experienced. And she knew he felt the same way about being under her.

Now that the floodgates had opened, Alastor arched into her with a flustered cry, “Owner-!” He clenched his fists and tried moving his hands up to clutch onto her shoulders, but his arms were pinned to his sides by her chains. She had him completely under her spell, and she eagerly feasted on her victim, relishing the sounds coming from him. But unlike her earlier meal, the deer was crying with pleasure rather than pain.

Athena decided that this meal was far tastier.

Chapter 43: Chapter 43

Notes:

ANOTHER ART

https://www.tumblr.com/eldritch-hiraeth/745305003189764097/avocavocado-doodles-avocavocado

Chapter Text

“You hate me, don’t you?”

Those words rang heavily in Alastor’s ears as he lay back on the couch with Athena asleep in his arms, curled up against his chest. He still had not moved her off of him; he felt frozen in place as her very short but very heartfelt question played on loop in his head.

He could smell fresh blood as it oozed down his neck and onto the couch, staining the red fabric a darker shade of crimson, but he couldn’t bring himself to care right now. He could feel the muscles and skin around his throat and shoulders regrow and the tissue mending itself after being torn so tenderly (lovingly) from his bones.

The deer wanted to move, but there was still the tense awkwardness in the room that had him rooted to the spot for a few minutes. He knew very well that alcohol makes people less inhibited; they say or do crazy things sometimes because there is no sense of judgment to hold them back. And this is especially true for those with a low alcohol tolerance. Athena clearly had little to no drinking experience, so it did not take much for her to get wasted.

There was a saying that people are more sincere and honest when under the influence of alcohol, and those two words were the exact opposite of someone like Athena. She was a cunning strategist and manipulator; she was more than willing to hide behind any and every mask to get what she wanted. Athena even went so far as to pretend to be a hellborn bird just to stay off the radar so she could operate from the shadows.

So to see that mask fall off was nothing but a complete shock to Alastor. He had to admit that there were times where he could see cracks in the facade, and it always turned his grin genuine because it meant that he had outsmarted her. He had caught her off guard, and it was those small victories that had kept him sane for the first few decades when she had him on a leash.

Her words carried a very real weight as years or even decades of pent up emotions had been poured into it, and Alastor was ashamed to admit that he was contemplating the circ*mstances far too much.

Despite how strange the circ*mstances, the deer was unable to say that he wanted either of them to move. Having her so close to him was bringing a sense of gentle and cozy familiarity that could only remind him of home rather than the heavy and soul-searing attraction he has always heard from his mother in life and from Rosie in his afterlife.

Others would always describe love to be explosive and passionate. But when he kissed her in the radio tower, it didn’t feel explosive or passionate. As Alastor lay in his apartment with the woman he believed to be his closest friend, he could say that it didn’t feel explosive or passionate either. It just felt right. It was why he took a chance and kissed her. He thought she was the one, but that moment filled him with nothing but disgust and shame, and he knew she felt the same way.

Athena was cunning and manipulative just like him. She played nasty games with other demons (at first for necessity but now for amusem*nt), and she enjoyed controlling them. However, there was a small, deceitful murmur in the recesses of his mind, reminding him that it seemed he took pleasure in losing control to her. She was the only demon in Hell worthy of controlling him.

“You hate me, don’t you?”

He hated the fact that he was in chains.

He didn’t hate being in her chains.

He didn’t hate the person who held those chains.

He didn’t hate her.

But he didn’t love her, either. And the thought hurt more than he wanted to admit.

f*ck, it hurt.

A painful chill was crawling down from her throbbing temple to the base of her skull, and it felt like someone was driving searing hot spikes through her eye sockets and into her brain. But those spikes were just rays of light leaking into the room from parted window drapes, so the owl squeezed her eyes shut with a groan. She buried her face in the mattress below her and felt her stomach give an unhappy lurch.

Athena realized she was laying on her stomach with her right arm dangling off the bed while her left was pinned under her chest. She knew that her elbow was going to be cramped up for hours because she slept on it folded up. Yet another problem to throw on the rapidly growing pile of inconveniences.

Crumbling through the depths of her tiredness, Athena reached awkwardly for any memories of the previous night, but they faded just before they could manifest, dancing just out of reach. She eventually deemed it not worth the effort and let herself fall back into the abyss of sleep.

She was not sure how long she had slept for, maybe five minutes maybe five hours, and it may have been longer had it not been for the sudden shifting of the mattress under her. The owl then realized that it wasn’t a mattress she was laying on.

Alastor was laying on a couch with his arms wrapped around her torso while she slept with her face resting on his chest. Her arm was dangling over the side of the couch with the back of her talons resting against the floor. His shoulders were propped up against the arm of the couch with his claws resting on her back. The owl twitched when she finally felt short clips of the previous night creep into her consciousness. She and Alastor had gone back to the casino, then they and Niffty joined Husk at the bar, and the last thing Athena remembered was downing a few bitter drinks before the world had faded around her.

Athena felt her feathers puff up in a panic, but the sudden motion made her already aching head spin. Her feather cape as well as her jewelry had been taken off of her and left on the coffee table in the middle of the room, Alastor’s shoes, coat, and monocle were nowhere to be seen, and his bowtie was noticeably loosened.

She was not completely oblivious to the desire she and Alastor have had for each other as of late, so the possibility of something indecent happening while the two of them were inebriated crossed her mind. And it seemed Athena's uncomfortable twitching and shifting finally roused Alastor from his sleep. When his scarlet eyes slid open to glance down at her, the owl felt her feathers stand up while her face began to flush.

Chapter 44: Chapter 44

Chapter Text

Athena flapped her wings as she flew through the air, lost in thought. So much has happened in this past week, and she needed a moment to think before beginning to tackle the five hundred problems in front of her.

First, there was Charlie. The Princess of Hell still believed Athena to be a regular bird, and that alone had already been proving to be fruitful. Charlie very obviously made fast friends with others around her and was eager to share anything and everything because of her naïve nature. And the owl had to assume that she was much more willing to share because she thought Athena was nothing more than a harmless animal.

She had an idea as to how she can get the Princess completely wrapped around her claw, but it was going to take more brainstorming to fully flesh out. Charlie wanted the Exterminations to end, or at least, wanted an alternative way to combat overpopulation in Hell. Athena needed a way to communicate her idea to the Princess in a way that did not give away her true identity as a Sinner but also had to give enough hints that Charlie could figure it out on her own while also crediting Athena so that she will trust the owl more. It was a paradox of the highest order, but it was doable, just with the right planning.

Athena still regularly visited Charlie, and every time the Princess would lament about the Exterminations, the owl would jump about and fly around on the balcony where they would meet. It was just enough for Charlie to recognize that Athena was trying to tell her something about the yearly cleanse, but she just didn’t know what yet. That made the Princess more observant to the owl’s movements whenever they were together, so it would be easier to convey the message when Athena inevitably found a way to do so without it being too suspicious.

The second problem she had was named Carmine. Athena had successfully gained a new soul to her collection, and this one had the potential to turn a promising profit. The taller Sinner was a rising Overlord who specialized in weapons manufacturing and marketing, specifically holy weapons. Athena had been acquiring many angelic blades throughout her one hundred years of being in death, so she would have more than enough product to support Carmine’s forcible rise to becoming the top weapons dealer in Hell.

Athena was relatively confident that her little voodoo doll stunt after making that deal had scared the Overlord into obedience. Carmine clearly had little to no value of her own life in comparison to her daughters, so revealing to her that Athena had access to a spell that would not only kill her girls, but would also make Carmine powerless to do anything to stop it was more than enough to intimidate her. It also had the added effect of making sure the two brats wouldn’t share any sensitive information about Athena for fear of losing their souls just like last time.

The owl had not yet gone to the Weapons Overlord’s office to discuss the specifics of their Contract yet, but it was most likely next on her agenda. Carmine could very possibly set a trap for her in an effort to free herself from the deal, so Athena had to be on guard when flying into the other’s territory. However, the owl wished to analyze the other predicaments she had found herself in within the last month.

The third problem was Valentino. Tearing him apart the way Athena had a few days ago in the alleyway behind one of the locations of Jackpot Casino was an unplanned, violent incident that was sure to have very negative ramifications one day. The owl never killed the moth. In her ravenous craze, she never used her angelic weapons to kill or even maim him, so he very well could be nurturing a bloodthirsty desire for revenge.

Athena considered collaring him to keep him out of the way as a possible threat, and it was an entertaining idea. She had to admit that she was never interested in his business in any way, shape, or form, but it was still a wildly successful industry and was going to continue to be for decades or even centuries to come. It would be much better to have that power with her instead of against her, but the owl almost dismissed the idea because it seemed much more trouble than it was worth. She was awfully tempted by the idea of just killing Valentino because she didn’t want to deal with him, but that wouldn’t be fruitful in the long run.

Another potential problem was Vox. She had clearly made an enemy with him that day after taunting him in the casino the way she had. But if Athena was being honest with herself, it was only a matter of time before the TV Demon was going to become a massive headache because of his already obsessive hatred for Alastor. The entire dynamic between those two needed to be properly dissected and studied at a later date because Athena could undoubtedly gain more information by learning about those two and how they interact, and any information about how the deer and shark’s minds worked is invaluable.

And Alastor was yet another dilemma she was facing. Athena had been partners with the man for almost eighty years now, and she thought that she had finally tamed him, but now things couldn’t be more confusing between the two of them. Or rather, it couldn’t be more awkward. Athena was not oblivious nor a fool. She valued the deer more than just a tool in her empire. She had an emotional attachment to him, that much she knew without a shadow of a doubt. But the problem was that she had no way of knowing how to proceed with that information nor did she know if such a relationship was even logical to have, and it was maddening.

The two of them have been partners for almost eighty years, and in all that time, she thought she knew Alastor like the back of her wing. She thought she understood him and his mind in a way that allowed her to predict his actions and that led to her being able to control him. And Athena did not know how to feel about the sudden revelation that she liked controlling him. She had hold on other souls, but none made her feel the same way the deer had.

But the owl had to ask herself when it had changed. When the two of them first made the deal, she was sure it was done out of necessity and nothing more. She certainly hadn’t enjoyed keeping Alastor on a tight leash, but she felt that the only alternative option was death. And she knew that Alastor despised being on such a tight leash. But now, the two absolutely reveled in the sensations brought upon by their dynamic.

She understood why the deer suddenly began to like being on a leash, Athena was the one responsible for such a change, after all. But what made Athena begin to like holding the leash? She hated not knowing why she was feeling this way, but she didn’t hate the feeling itself. She even dared to admit to herself that she loved it.

Athena felt her stomach rumble with hunger as she thought about Alastor. She huffed and landed on a building nearby. She was probably just thinking about his jambalaya.

Chapter 45: Chapter 45

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Alastor carefully kept his composure as he walked down the street, his heels tapping the ground as he walked. He had a lot to think about. His owner was awfully flushed when she had woken up this morning. Athena had been extremely intoxicated the previous night, so he wasn’t aware if she remembered what happened between the two of them in the apartment after leaving the casino. But Alastor was an experienced drinker; he remembered all of it.

His claws tightened around the microphone on his cane as he continued his journey to Cannibal Town. His neck still tingled as memories of the previous night played on loop in his mind. He could still feel her fangs in his throat, sinking into the flesh as her claws caressed his ears to keep him docile under her grasp. Alastor sucked in a breath and ducked into a nearby alley as a sudden wave of heat rushed down his body with such intensity that it made his head spin. He ran a hand through his hair and made the mistake of grazing the sensitive fur at the base of his ears.

Alastor’s usual grin twisted into a grimace as he felt his claws go to his head and furiously scratch his head in an effort to replicate the way Athena had in the apartment. His cane fell to the ground with an audible clack as he leaned back against the wall and slid to the ground. The deer couldn’t believe the predicament he was in. The great Radio Demon hiding in a filthy alleyway chasing euphoria like a common street harlot. It was disgusting and disgraceful.

But no matter how many times Alastor reprimanded himself, he just couldn’t stop until his body had its fill of fantasized affectionate touch. His hands fell to the floor, red claws scraping the dirty concrete in frustration. The deer was once again agonizing over trying to figure out what the owl had done to him. He knew for a fact that he valued control above all else, and yet his owner managed to find a way to take control of Alastor’s own body away from him. He was a slave to his twisted desires, but some would say that it was nothing new.

He was a serial killer, he got a thrill from seeing the blood of his victims color his favorite butcher knife. However, the urge to kill and maim and cause chaos could be controlled. He had that desire on a leash, but this new desire had him on a leash, and it made his skin crawl. This new twisted desire was completely unwanted, and he didn’t know how to make it end. And the most aggravating part of it all was that a part of him didn’t want it to end.

Alastor brought his knees to his chest and let out a sigh, deeply lost in thought. He was confident that he was at least away from prying eyes because he had curled up behind a dumpster, and he had to force back the loss of dignity he felt for being in such a place and in such a state. He thought he was well enough to make the short trip to Cannibal Town to visit Rosie, but he was barely at the borders of her territory and was hiding in trash like a rat.

The deer let out a deep breath and stood up as he grabbed his cane. The only person in Hell he could trust with this was the Cannibal Overlord; he just had to get to her emporium and he was in the clear at least for a few hours. Athena had told him that she needed to take care of something, and Alastor assumed it was to deal with Carmine. Of course, the owl could really be doing anything, and it was yet another thing that infuriated him about her. Even after eighty years of being together, he still couldn’t predict her. At least, he couldn't predict her as well as she could with him.

It may have been satisfying in the moment to see that his influence was causing Athena to warp into a monster just like him, but it still didn’t erase the humiliation he felt from the effects of her spell. And then there was that little whisper in the depths of his consciousness that told him that another reason as to why he had molded her to become more sad*stic was to satisfy his own guilty pleasure. But Alastor would sooner let himself fall to angelic steel than ever admit to it.

And in a strange twisted consequence, her newfound craving for power and causing pain was only strengthening whatever spell she had placed on him. Alastor rubbed his neck where his owner’s fangs had been buried into his skin. The marks were still healing, so he was thankful for the bow tie and shirt collar covering it up until it completely dissipated. Once the deer was confident that his uncomfortable twitching had been silenced, he walked back out of the alley and onto the street.

Notes:

hey bois it's been brought to my attention that i need to add some tags about athena's and alastor's current dynamic. i will say right now that i don't plan on writing anything explicitly kinky so i never really thought that i needed to add those kinds of tags but lemme know what you guys think <3

should i add suggestive tags like dom/sub or whatever it is and if so, which ones should i add bc quite frankly i don't know

Chapter 46: Chapter 46

Chapter Text

“And what have you been up to, Alastor?” Rosie sat across the deer at a newly added table in the Cannibal Overlord’s shop.

“I’m afraid this isn’t a friendly house visit, my dear,” Alastor replied in a somewhat tired voice as he tapped the glass in his hand with a single red claw. It was a simple cup of water with an eyeball sitting at the bottom. The little organ was a delicacy because they dried up the quickest and thus lost its flavor. But Rosie had been more than willing to gift one in her collection to him upon seeing his rather sour mood.

Rosie placed her hands on her lap with a patient smile. It was times like these that painfully reminded Alastor of his beloved mother. She was always so kind to him, even when he came home bloodied and bruised after getting into a scuffle at the bar.

“Oh?” The Cannibal Overlord blinked, her black eyes widening in curiosity. “And I assume your current plight is more complicated than simply your partner’s dietary choices, isn’t that right, darling?”

Alastor barely managed to stop his ear from flicking. There was that word again, “partner”. Athena herself had used it when they were in the casino and now that was what Rosie was calling her, as well. He supposed from a certain outside perspective, the two were partners.

“Oh, you have no need to hide anything from me, Alastor,” Rosie kept her voice level and calm. Normally when the two of them would talk, the words exchanged would be colored with amusem*nt and sometimes mischief, but they both knew the topic was more somber. “You look like I just scratched your favorite record. Have you and Athena run into some problems again?”

“Nothing strenuous, I assure you,” the deer took a sip from his glass. Rosie seemed to think that his discomfort came from the mention of the owl’s name instead of the word “partner”. “Last night, Athena was forced to deal with the unfortunate consequences of indulging in our tastes,” Alastor felt his eyes narrow as the memories of the previous night crept into the forefront of his mind. He noticed Rosie was remaining quiet, allowing him to explain further. She always had been rather keen on knowing when to add her input and when to simply let the other person go into more detail on their own. “She had turned her attention to me when seeking a meal to satisfy her hunger. But it was… oh, I can’t even begin to explain how it had felt! Such exhilaration, such excitement! More pleasurable than anything I’ve ever experienced before!”

“Oh, goodness me, Alastor,” Rosie put a hand to her mouth as if she was just told the most scandalous thing, and in a way, she had. “You’ve certainly been up to something naughty, haven’t you?”

It was certainly an odd predicament, and they both knew it. Cannibalism was seen as a barbaric and cruel form of punishment in Hell. A Sinner’s biology kept them alive no matter what sort of pain they were in, and the horrors of being eaten alive was known to be extraordinarily agonizing. The denizens of Cannibal Town had their own code of conduct, and devouring any demon who was bold enough to cause mischief in such a quaint little town would be forced to face the punishment of suffering that pain. It had built a sense of trust within the community.

“It seems as though you're falling for her, sweetie,” the Cannibal Overlord clasped her hands together with an excited tone.

“It’s not love,” Alastor replied curtly, almost slamming his glass onto the table. “But I… I wish it was.”

“Oh? So it is a matter of courting?” Rosie perked up, smile widening considerably as she was already making plans based on what Alastor had told her as well as her few interactions with Athena. “Then you’ve certainly come to the right place.”

“I do apologize for leading you on, my dear, but my current dilemma is nothing of the sort,” the deer waved a hand, his smile twisting almost nervously. “You see, I have… already attempted to express my love to Athena…” Love, that word still didn’t feel right.

“Mh? You tried to woo her, and it did not end in your favor, darling?” The Cannibal Overlord’s voice lowered sympathetically.

“She was disgusted!” the deer clenched his fist around the glass in his claws, almost crushing it in his grip. “Revolted! After my failure, I made the suggestion of never engaging in such activities again and she readily agreed!” Alastor felt his ears flatten against his head. He has never been a self-conscious person, and the very idea of thinking less of himself because of such a subject like romance was completely foreign to him. He knew he was a catch; just because he was uninterested in the women of Cannibal Town didn’t mean he was oblivious to their infatuation with him.

And the word “failure” hit him harder than he was willing to admit. The simple notion of him, the Radio Demon, failing any task he had set his mind to was intolerable. The deer also elected to leave out the tidbit about him also being disgusted by such an intimate display. He already was aware of his fondness for Athena. This repulsion to romantic and even carnal desire was something that would eventually fade. It just had to.

“Oh, there is nothing to be ashamed of, honey, I assure you!” Rosie waved a hand with a soft smile. Alastor appreciated that she was willing to take on a more lighthearted tone to address his dilemma. He did not need any pity at this moment; he just needed answers. “I see very many demons who did not succeed on their first attempt at courting. And I assume that such a thing is admittedly not on your list of priorities.”

Alastor hummed thoughtfully. That statement did carry some truth; never before in his life nor afterlife did he ever even consider courting. For the longest time, he thought there was something wrong with him. There never was a woman he had met that he would consider worthy of his time and energy, so the simple idea of attempting to snag a certain someone off the market was something he had never put much thought into.

Rosie was right, in a sense. Alastor was always more interested in his excursions as a serial killer when he was alive and more interested in sewing chaos in Hell after he had died. He knew that he did genuinely care for his “partner”, that much he was willing to admit to himself and his closest confidant. Perhaps Athena was the one he had been waiting for, and he had just made the mistake of pursuing her incorrectly.

“Darling, I cannot tell you how happy I am for you that you have found someone. You should see your face when you speak about her. Any girl who melts your cold, swiveled-up heart is a keeper,” Rosie’s midnight black eyes sparkled. “I’ll tell you what, why don’t you bring your dear Athena with you next time you visit. You know romance is my specialty.”

“That is much appreciated. I will let you know when I am once again in the neighborhood,” Alastor tipped his head as he stood up from the table. He straightened his suit and summoned his cane. He left the emporium with high hopes, but he still couldn’t explain why the word “romance” left a sour taste in his mouth.

Chapter 47: Chapter 47

Chapter Text

Charlie was at her wit’s end, that much was obvious to Athena. The owl had made it abundantly clear that she was trying to tell the Princess something, but Charlie just couldn’t figure it out. She knew it had something to do with the Exterminations, and she had to assume it was probably something Athena’s “owner” had told her. Charlie watched as the owl jumped around the balcony followed by Razzle and Dazzle; the two goats thinking the bird was trying to engage in a game.

The Princess had apparently tried to do some research on hellborn animal behaviors and body language, but Athena knew that it would be little to no help because she was not a hellborn animal. She was a Sinner pretending to be an animal. Athena had been awfully close to simply giving up on her machinations a fair few amount of times, but she had to immediately dismiss such thoughts because failure was intolerable.

But it did make her question why she had been so quick to discard schemes as of late. She had dismissed the idea of chaining Valentino because it would be too much of a hassle. But in actual fact, he was the head of one of the most successful industries in history. That was far too good to pass up, and he was already a thorn in her side and was no doubt going to continue to be one. Trapping the moth under Contract would be rid of an enemy and gain another source of income, but the owl had waved away the possibility because she “did not want to deal with it”.

Athena was tired, she was tense, and she was hungry. The only time she could remember feeling such a way was from coming home from work after a long shift. It was yet another reminder of her life before she had come down to Hell. But what spooked Athena was the immediate thought of Alastor whenever she thought about going home to relax. She thought about having him in her arms and vice versa. She thought about the indescribable warmth she felt after waking up and realizing he was with her.

The owl sighed tiredly, a gesture that was a little too human to come from a regular bird, but Athena managed to pass off suspicion by puffing her feathers up. Charlie eventually began ranting again, and the owl barely managed to listen to what was coming out of the Princess’s mouth. She had to remind herself to stay vigilant; she had been becoming far too inattentive as of late.

Eventually, she heard talk of Charlie’s father, the King of Hell himself, and she felt herself perking up at the mention of him. Lucifer was a being of near limitless might, at least in comparison to any regular Sinner in the underworld. It was difficult to not think of the man as a titan, an unstoppable force of nature itself, one that was dangerous to approach carelessly. It reminded Athena that she was currently attempting to “befriend” the King’s daughter. The owl did not know what sort of man Lucifer was; she did not know if the King was fond or protective of his daughter, but she had to assume he was at least to some degree. So staying under the radar was especially important.

But Athena perking up at the mention of Lucifer gave her an idea. Charlie immediately noticed the owl’s reaction and turned her complete and undivided attention to her. The owl glanced at the Princess and co*cked her head in a manner similar to a confused dog, waiting for the demon to continue talking. But when she mentioned “Heaven”, Athena once again looked at Charlie, making sure to model her behavior to be reminiscent of an animal recognizing words it had been taught to memorize and react to. Those words would stand out to Charlie as significant, and from there, she could start piecing together what Athena was trying to tell her.

It was definitely a step in the right direction. Sooner or later, Charlie was going to figure out the puzzle that had been laid out for her. Athena wanted the message of “Sinners going to Heaven” to be made clear in their interactions. Surely the Princess of Hell would manage to follow the logic of such an idea. Since there is too much room in Hell and limitless space in Heaven, then why not send the demons who have done lesser crimes to the Golden Gates? It was certainly a very far-fetched idea, but it was definitely something a bleeding heart like Charlie would be onboard with.

And when the owl left the Morningstar Castle balcony that day, she felt more stressed than ever. Athena needed to deal with Valentino as well as Vox. She had been holding it off for too long already, and she refused to let herself become lax when there were powerful enemies out there now aware of her existence. She needed to come up with a plan to not only deter them but completely disable them as a threat entirely. Simply weakening them was a temporary solution, and Athena had no such desire to revisit this topic when she had so many other problems to deal with.

Normally, she would have no problem coming up with all sorts of nasty plots and games for the lesser demons to dance to for her amusem*nt, but at this moment, she didn’t have anything. Well, nothing of much value. There was always ol’ reliable where she could simply force a demon to sign a Soul Contract with her when she had a metaphorical gun pointed to their head. It was how she trapped Alastor all those years ago, but that was when she was an inexperienced demon. It was done in a moment of desperation, and desperation was only reserved for the weak, for those that have no other options.

Athena wanted to scream in frustration. Never before had she drawn a blank like this. It filled her with dread and with doubt. It made her question her ability as a strategist, and it summoned fear locked away in her heart at the thought of losing her edge. Her sharp mind was the only reason she was alive, and if that blade dulls, then she was as good as dead.

The owl flew straight for her territory on autopilot, head spinning and heart beating. She landed on her window and hastily slipped into her apartment through the window. The broken glass and locks that were previously on the floor after Clara and Odette had broken it were swept up and cleaned months ago, but the owl still saw visions of those things on the ground as she hopped from one countertop to the next in her living room. It was yet another source of dread; thinking about how easily two unknown and less powerful demons had broken into her home made Athena’s stomach coil with anxiety. Her weapons vault was still under lock and key, and the owl had strengthened the enchantments after the incident.

Carmine would be sending a few of her workers to collect the first few loads of angelic steel Athena had kept hidden away for so many years. Before the owl had gone to visit Charlie, she had gone to the weapons dealer to discuss the specifics of their Contract. It was the usual reminder to not cross Athena and to remember that she has the final say in anything and everything that happens within the business, but the owl felt confident that she could skip the intimidation like what she had done to Husk because the voodoo doll stunt Athena had done seemed to be more than enough to scare them into obedience, all three of them.

But the owl had to admit that there was certainly the possibility of an added bonus if she would have slaughtered the other Overlords competing with Carmine in her profession would be more than ideal. However, that was just the result that would prove to be fruitful. Angelic weapons dealers were far more dangerous than Casino Overlords, and there was a very real chance that attacking the wrong Overlord would be the end of Athena.

Carmine had more than enough weapons to fund her rise to being the most powerful and influential weapons dealer in Hell, but Athena still had to concentrate on those loose ends at a later date. The owl groaned and slumped back against the wall. And there was another problem that was being forced to sit on the back burner.

Athena was tired. There were so many uncontrollable variables flitting about right now, and she was quickly nursing a migraine from just thinking about all of them. Each and every obstacle was a very real threat, and each one of these threats needed to be neutralized as soon as possible. But she just wanted to sleep. Her head was pounding, and it felt like she was going to pass out.

The owl managed to push herself off the floor and fly up to check the security seals on the doors and windows before sloppily soaring to a chair in the living room. As soon as her head hit the leather cushions, Athena felt herself drifting off, her body all too eager to catch up on missing sleep and recover from the headache from the previous night’s drinking. But she had to curl up against the pillow resting on the arm of the chair to satiate the overwhelming cold she felt, and the only explanation she could give herself was because her closest and most trusted friend was not with her tonight.

Chapter 48: Chapter 48

Chapter Text

Alastor had noticed that Athena was much more moody when she flew into the studio this morning. And when the deer snapped his fingers and turned her into her more humanoid form, her expression was nothing but frustration and fatigue. Her eyes had heavy bags sitting under them, and her face was twisted into a grumpy frown. But what was even more alarming was the fact that she went straight to the coffee machine in the corner of the room.

The deer blinked owlishly as he watched Athena shamelessly steal his “Oh Deer!” mug and down a hefty gulp of bitter steaming caffeine before going to her chair in front of the control console. She obviously didn’t get much sleep the previous night, and from the looks of her sunken cheeks and eyes, Alastor had a pretty good idea as to why.

“Are you hungry, ma biche?” The deer asked as he grabbed the mug from her claws and took a sip.

“I’m tired and I’m hungry,” Athena lamented. “I don’t f*cking know why. I ate seven rats yesterday.” She didn’t care that she had cursed in front of Alastor, and she wasn’t going to reveal the reason as to why she was tired. She was barely able to get any sleep the previous night. Between the sensation of her stomach clenching in hunger, the unexplainable coldness creeping into her skin from lack of physical contact, and the pounding headache brought upon by thinking about the Vee’s and from the alcohol, Athena was only able to sleep for an hour or two before the sun began to rise.

“You’re quite obviously in no shape to perform this morning,” Alastor commented. “Why don’t you rest in your room and I’ll take over the broadcast today.”Athena growled and tightened her fist, her black talons digging into the red metal table with a harsh screech. The deer felt his ears flatten in response to the sudden and unpleasant noise, and he saw that the owl’s face was twisting with rage. “Î̷̙͉̥̥̹̟̞͈̟̻͈̤̝͊͒'̷̧̨̧͕̪͈̳͔̹̙͔͇͚͍͑̒͋̓̊ͅm̶̧̧̢̺̰̘̗̮̲̩̻̃̐̐̏̆̈͑͐̏̉̑͠ ̵̝͎̹̼̰̿̿ͅf̶͎̪̘̻̫͖͙̔̋̒͛̊̕͘̕̚͝i̷̠͙̮̭͓̽̿͋͆̀̄͝ṋ̴̖̳̺̩̮͓̻͙̤͎͙̳̈̈́̿̀̑̄͛̑͝͠͠e̴̢̹͓̣̭͊͛̿͛̋̚,” she hissed, fangs clenching hard against her jaw and acidic green eyes burning with fury. The machinery in the tower whirred with anger, but a snap from Alastor calmed them before they could short circuit.

“No,” the deer replied sternly. “You are not. Please return to your chambers. You are not fit to host the show this morning.”

Athena stood up in a fury, fangs bared and feathers flaring up. She jabbed a single black claw at Alastor with a snarl. “Remember who you’re talking to, servant,” she spat with true venom, but the deer did not even flinch. “You are under me. Never forget that!”

“Oh, pardon me, it seems it must have slipped my mind,” Alastor replied cheerily, his toothy smile ever present. “You have never resorted to such barbaric displays before. Always using your cunning mind and impressive knowledge of strategy to play your victims like puppets on strings. Always so marvelous to watch, ma biche. Those lesser demons would dance to your tune without them even knowing.”

It took Athena a few moments to realize what Alastor was trying to say. She had never been so upfront about her power over other demons; she was always more proficient at staying in the shadows because she was confident in her skills to manipulate the show from behind the curtain. But her screaming about her power in Alastor’s face only showed how desperate she was. If she wanted to remind him of his place, then she would’ve done so in a way that made him remember her unique power rather than hide behind loud words.

Alastor had deliberately suggested that Athena stay off the air today because it would imply that he thinks that she was too mentally and emotionally unwell to handle it. And the owl reacted just the way he wanted her to. She lost her composure and got angry. It was yet another game they played to keep each other on their feet.

The owl took a deep breath and ran her claws through the feathers on her head. She was putting on a façade to try and hide the fact that she was afraid that she was losing her edge. She had spent many hours in her apartment trying to come up with a way to counter the Vee’s, but she had been drawing a blank. It has never happened to her before, and it was maddening. And to have Alastor see her in such a pathetic state was only making things worse. She may have conditioned him to like being on her leash, but their relationship was built on respect. Respect for each others’ strengths.

Alastor was powerful and manipulative, whereas Athena was cunning and strategic. There are many traits they shared, and it was the main reason as to why they had grown so fond of each other over the decades. Alastor was, in his own way, telling her to get her sh*t together. The owl let her feathers smooth down against her skin. Getting worked up was the least productive thing she could do at the moment. The most important task that needed to be done was analyzing and neutralizing the threats they faced. Getting emotional was simply a waste of energy and a waste of time.

So after another heavy sigh, Athena put her mask back on. With an easy grin, she sat back in her seat and began “Oh, I apologize. It was a long night, but I believe a little bit of entertainment is sure to brighten anyone’s day.”

“Now that’s the spirit!” Alastor wrapped an arm around the owl, and she had to ignore the angry rumbling coming from her stomach. She turned her nose to the deer and took in a whiff of an unnamed smell that made her mouth water and her eyes sharpen with hunger. “You’re never fully dressed without a smile, ma biche!”

People look to those who outwardly appear composed. People look to others, especially those in leadership positions, but if those leaders exude fear and doubt, then people will not respect them, they will not follow them. And so many individuals with high levels of authority have learned to always exercise self-control. Alastor had learned that as a skill. He hides his true emotions and intentions behind a smile that emitted confidence and charm, and it was a strength he wanted Athena to have, too. The deer was not willing to follow a demon who did not have the skill to compose herself.

And when the radio show started that day, Athena let herself unwind and to the tune of static and music, and then her mind finally started to whir to life as she began to brainstorm with the sound of Alastor’s antics in the background. The owl had ruined the perfect opportunity to chain Valentino and perhaps even Vox, too. But she had lost control of herself and made enemies instead of reluctant allies.

It was most certainly a problem needing to be fixed, and it needed to be fixed as soon as possible. She just needed a moment to relax and think. Every demon had a weakness, and if she could find Alastor’s, then Vox and Valentino were easy prey. Those two were bumbling buffoons, and she managed to foil their schemes by accident, so taking them down with a strategy would be a simple feat.

Athena hummed as her grin turned genuine. She just needed a moment to sit down and think, and now the answers were coming to her. The familiarity brought onto her by just the aura of Alastor’s presence was calming her nerves and finally allowing her to think again.

Chapter 49: Chapter 49

Chapter Text

Athena remained motionless as she was perched as a bird on a lamppost sitting outside of an abandoned subway station entrance on the south side of the Pentagram. After her little tantrum in the radio tower this morning, she had forced herself to cool off and think rationally again. She didn’t want to admit that being close to the deer gave her a recharge of sorts both mentally and physically. Her mind now felt as sharp as ever, and the strange hunger pangs finally receded after he gave her a packaged lunch box of what he claimed to be pan seared venison tenderloins.

Athena was instantly suspicious of that. Venison was a favorite of Alastor’s so he prepared dishes with that particular meat quite often. The owl has had several venison loins before, and there was definitely something off about the taste of the meat she gave her. It was not a bad taste, quite the contrary actually. As soon as she had first taken a bite, it felt like an itch had been scratched. The ravenous and angry hunger writhing in the depths of her stomach was finally satiated, and she immediately wolfed down each and every piece of meat in the lunch box, much to Alastor’s obvious amusem*nt.

The owl flicked her feathers at him in irritation as she licked her lips after finishing the meal. All sorts of alarms were going off as she watched the deer prop his elbow on the table to continue to gaze at her. Her talons tapped the table in front of her in thought. She didn’t know what had happened to her over the past couple days, but she had noticed that every once in a while, she would get painful hunger pangs, and no amount of food was able to satisfy it.

But then Alastor gave her a pack of food with suspicious origin, and it had magically fixed her problem. The first thing Athena thought was that the deer had been secretly feeding her some sort of addictive drug in the meals he had been preparing for her for the past few weeks or even months. She was not familiar with withdrawal symptoms of any sort of drug, so she didn’t know if strange stomach pain was any sort of indicator that she was hooked on anything.

It infuriated her that the deer was able to use this against her, the smug curve of his grin told the owl that he was certainly planning on exploiting this in the future. She didn’t know what he did, but she knew that she had to undo it as soon as possible. However, she was confident that he wouldn’t be doing anything of note with this until a much later date. Alastor would definitely prolong her predicament as long as possible because it was too much fun for him, so at least that gave the owl the opportunity to focus on more time-sensitive matters first.

But she would always keep this thought on the backburner: the one demon Athena should be truly afraid of was Alastor. She will admit that from all the confusion and affectionate displays they have sent each other for the past week had made her forget that he was conniving and cruel. The two of them were locked in a game of cat and mouse with each other, each taking turns outwitting the other in sad*stic schemes so sinful they would send any human to Hell for its barbaric nature had it happened in the living realm. But Athena could not deny the thrill she got each and every time she would see her plans bare fruit, and there was a fire fueled by rage and exhilaration that burned under her skin as she herself was outsmarted by her partner. It was a deadly game they played, but she loved every second of it.

Athena decided that she would let herself be addicted to whatever drug Alastor was using, at least for the time being. But she would still be doing her research into what could possibly be causing symptoms such as stomach cramps, and she would be rationing the food he gave her. In the meantime, there was an important problem that needed addressing and analyzed so she could come up with a proper way to neutralize it. Vox and Val had been getting much bolder as of late; their stunt at the Husk’s establishment proved that.

Those two cowardly Overlords had deliberately gone after Alastor and Athena in the Jackpot Casino of all places most likely because they thought the deer and owl would be powerless to confront them, but their downfall was due to impatience and carelessness. Vox had gotten so excited about learning something about Alastor that he had jumped to conclusions and made a preemptive strike without first analyzing the situation and using the information he had to coordinate an attack.

Athena suspected that the only reason he was able to climb up the ranks as an Overlord was because he was dialing back the intelligence of the denizens of Hell who watched his flashy picture show. The only way he could be the smartest guy in the room was to make everybody else dumber than him. But because Alastor and Athena were so heavily focused on avoiding modern technology, they were immune to Vox’s influence. If the TV Demon was smart, then he would’ve tried using his powers of hypnosis to brainwash Alastor when he had confronted the Radio Demon at the Jackpot Casino.

The deer normally avoided Vox and his gadgets, so to simply be in the same room as Alastor was giving the TV Demon a huge advantage. The Radio Demon could tamper with Vox’s televisions but not with Vox himself. Because they are of similar to equal power, the deer could not directly interfere with the TV Demon’s radio waves. Vox was overconfident, but he was finally starting to understand just how truly outclassed in terms of intelligence he is.

And any creature who knows they are at a disadvantage is bound to get desperate, and desperation can lead to short term solutions but long term problems. It was a natural, primal instinct instilled in all humans, and it was a trait every demon has as a result, as well. Even Athena was no stranger to such follies. But while she had the skill to compose herself, Vox most likely did not. He lost his temper very easily, and it was especially evident whenever he and Alastor were bickering through their respective mediums.

And desperation was a powerful and dangerous thing. It was how Valentino rose to power; he preyed on the weak and the desperate, offering them fame and fortune in exchange for their services in his profession. Many demons took his offers because they thought they had no other choice, but the Princess of Hell had the resources to help these down on their luck Sinners before they made rash decisions like selling their soul to an Overlord, especially one as sad*stic as the p*rn Demon.

If Charlie’s little redemption project ever got traction, then it could possibly counter Valentino or at least weaken the number of souls he has. However, that sort of solution would not be the best because rehabilitating junkies and prostitutes took much longer than it would take for the moth to recruit them. The owl had her own plans for the rehabilitation project other than combating Valentino, but being able to take Sinners away from his clutches was just going to be an added bonus.

Chapter 50: Chapter 50

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Athena decided to tour the city today as a Sinner rather than an owl, and she didn’t notice until now that it was something that she had never done before. Up until this point, she had always ventured Pentagram City as an owl or as a Sinner with Alastor by her side, but she had never walked down the streets alone. It was a uniquely chilling experience.

And it wasn’t until now did she realize yet another ramification for the incident at the Jackpot Casino a few days ago. The owl had forgotten that there were other demons present when she confronted Vox after eating Valentino in the alleyway, and word had gotten around fast. Many Sinners were gossiping with each other about who she was and how she managed to not only escape the p*rn Overlord alive but also spit in his face by devouring him when he tried to attack her.

Next to no demon recognized Athena’s voice, or at least, they were unable to match her voice to the legend of the first Radio Demon. She had been falling out of the spotlight ever since Alastor’s debut, and she was completely fine with that. It was far easier to operate from the shadows, which is why all this media attention is something that she desperately did not want. But it was next to impossible for any normal demon to not only say no to Valentino but defeat him in such a way it left him crippled for several days.

The denizens of Hell were assuming Athena was an unknown Overlord, and she couldn’t blame them. The option of passing my existence off as a regular unassuming Sinner was impossible now. They knew she was an Overlord, but they didn’t know what industry she ran. There was no way the owl could reveal the fact that she was an Overlord of Overlords, so she needed to find her own establishment to take over as a cover story.

Athena pondered for a bit as she walked down the road, but she ultimately decided that she preferred flying as an inconspicuous bird to do her thinking. Since she was now a face in the crowd, other demons could see her, and they could attack her. That possibility was much less likely when she flew around the city as an owl.

She remembered first thinking about what sort of industry to target when Alastor convinced her to expand her empire (she still didn't know the reason as to why he pushed her to do that, but it was yet another thought for later), she didn’t know what target to go after at first. She had ultimately chosen the casino because it was an old form of entertainment that predated television and could still operate without it. Husk had agreed to not place any form of television or screens for Vox to tamper with, and such things were unneeded in a casino, anyway.

Athena was once again facing a similar dilemma. She was unsure of what industry she wanted to take next, her first thought was something to support the current industries she had under her control at the moment. Radio, casinos, and angelic weapons manufacturing were all at her beck and call, and nothing that all of those things had in common came to mind. Carmine was not the top weapons dealer in Hell, at least not yet, so the next industry Athena targeted should help expand that particular empire. It would be helpful that this new industry would simultaneously cripple other weapons Overlords because the owl did not want to fight them. Her fighting skills in this body were still subpar at best, so she was not confident she could take on demons with high levels of magic and angelic weapons.

The stitches in Athena’s arms were all too painful reminders of the dangers of holy steel. If that harpoon had hit a few inches over, then she would be dead, and that possibility scared her. The owl’s fear of mortality never went away, even after all these years. She needed to learn how to fight; Alastor couldn’t be her shield forever. He was strong, but no demon can survive a fatal wound from an angelic blade. She was fairly confident in her abilities as an owl, but those abilities were highly restricted to specific circ*mstances. Athena needed to know how to fight without the voodoo-based magic she had gotten from Alastor and without using demons she owns as shields.

Athena knew Carmine was a powerful warrior, and she was already skilled with angelic weapons. However, she knew that if the minor Overlord knew the owl was inexperienced in hand to hand combat, it could encourage her to revolt. No soul can know any weakness Athena had, and any weakness she knew of needed to be dealt with as soon as possible. She could always practice close quarters combat by attacking random thugs on the street, and if things go south, then she could simply slit their throats with her angelic blade she keeps hidden as her necklace. It was not the most dignified idea she had to improve her skills, but it was the best idea she had as of right now.

But Athena had to stop and ask herself about the possibility of another option. She needed an identity as an Overlord, and she needed to learn how to fight. Her catlike green eyes wandered over to the abandoned subway station entrance she had been perched next to yesterday. The owl knew that it was the entrance to a nearby weapons dealer sitting at the edge of her territory; she had been debating taking down the hideout along with everyone inside.

It would be the first of many Overlords to mysteriously die overnight to put Carmine at the top of her industry just like with Alastor and Husk. And killing the Overlord would’ve secured the safety of my territory because this was the main headquarters of a gang of Sinners who have been encroaching onto her territory as of late. But the reason Athena hadn’t taken them out was because she feared the holy steel they kept in the bunkers.

The owl sighed and let her feathers flare up in irritation before she hurriedly flattened them as she walked back through the alleyway that led to the borders of her territory. Her stomach was starting to growl at her again, and it was the familiar growl that told her she needed her fix. That was yet another problem; she still had no clue as to what Alastor had done to her to start these odd hungry cravings.

“Heya, toots!” a somewhat high-pitched and accented voice piped up from across the street. Athena would’ve ignored it under most circ*mstances, but the sound of rapidly approaching footsteps made the call stand out to her. The owl kept her face blank as she turned around to the source of the voice but then had to look up at the towering figure now standing in front of her. This Sinner was easily eight feet tall with white fur decorated in pink spots and hearts and had four arms. It took Athena a few moments to remember where she had seen this Sinner before. It was Valentino’s favorite lackey, Angel Dust.

Athena didn’t know what Valentino could be thinking of sending his most well-known employee to supposedly speak to her. The spider wasn’t trying to sneak up on her, and he wasn’t trying to attack her, either. It could be possible that Angel Dust was going to try catching her off guard by having a simple conversation, or he could be trying to extract information out of her. Either way, Athena was immediately on high alert.

Notes:

HAPPY CHAPTER 50 DEAR LISTENERS! THANKS FOR STICKIN' WITH ME ALL THIS TIME!

Chapter 51: Chapter 51

Notes:

RDD ART

https://www.tumblr.com/eldritch-hiraeth/745874822508281856/by-request-of-a-certain-person-avocavocado-i-have

Chapter Text

“Now, where’s a pretty little thing like you off to in such a hurry?” The spider had to lean down and put his hands on his knees just to look Athena in the eye. The owl didn’t dare cross her arms in case she needed to either fight or fly, but she did keep her composure with a tight smile.

“May I help you?” Athena asked tersely.

“Oh, baby~” Angel Dust cooed, and he leaned forwards a few inches more. The owl curled her lip in a warning snarl, but the p*rn star either didn’t notice or didn’t care. “I think the better question is what can I do to help you?”

“I am afraid I am not interested in your… services, sir,” the owl growled, feathers rattling.

“Well, thank f*ckin’ god,” the spider immediately dropped the act and stood up straight, crossing his upper set of arms with the other set reached into his purse to pull out a cigarette and a lighter. “No offense, toots, but I don’t exactly like takin’ female clients, so it’s yer lucky day.”

“Lucky is certainly one word I would use to describe this interaction thus far,” Athena replied dryly. She didn’t let her smile drop, but her eyes did narrow. She couldn’t help but feel like she needed a cane or something like Alastor had so her arms were not hanging loosely and awkwardly at her sides but still be ready and available to defend or attack in case things went south. The most natural position was to hold them behind her back or to cross them, but both actions would restrict her movements if her hands were needed. “Now, would you be so kind as to answer my earlier question?”

“Oh, yeah,” Angel Dust breathed out a puff of smoke onto the street before turning back to the owl. “You’ve met Valentino, yeah? Tall motherf*cker, big dick, bigger temper?”

Athena felt her lip curl in disgust as memories of that night went through her mind. The feeling of his mouth being forcibly placed on hers before she tore him apart with her bare hands. It was certainly an odd memory and one she still hasn’t fully come to terms with. She could still recall the taste of flesh on her tongue and hear the snapping of bones in her ears. “We’ve met, yes.”

“Ohoho, so you hate his guts just as much as he hates yours, eh?” The spider turned his full attention to Athena, eyes sparkling with the juicy gossip he had just received. But that made the owl raise an eyebrow. She had not seen or heard of any of Valentino’s activities since the events at Jackpot Casino. “Was the sex that bad?”

“Excuse me?” Athena’s tight grin widened to reveal more fangs as her eyes narrowed dangerously.

“Nah, it’s cool, Smiles.” Angel waved off the owl’s indignant rage nonchalantly. Evidently, he was used to anger being pointed at him. “I know a disappointing lay ain’t somethin’ to be talkin’ about. Little ol’ me was just curious.”

Athena felt her eye twitch. “If that is all you have needed from me, I’m afraid I must be off,” the owl curtly hissed as she turned around and started walking down the street again.

“Hey, hold on, toots,” Angel lunged forwards and got her to stop by putting a hand on her shoulder. The owl snarled as her feathers began to rattle and a screech was heard in the street. The spider yanked his hand back as if it had just been burned, and Athena realized it actually had been. She saw a wisp of gray smoke and bright green cinders flicker off of Angel Dust’s palm, but she managed to keep the surprise off of her face. The p*rn star wiped his hand on the exposed fur on his legs and suddenly appeared very apologetic and nervous.

“Look, I was just joshin’ yeah? I-I know you didn’t actually sleep with Val. It’s… I-It’s a bad habit o’ mine to make jokes like this, alright?” Angel Dust was tripping over himself to apologize, and it made Athena narrow her eyes in thought. The spider was not reacting to the burn on his hand, and the owl recognized genuine fear when she saw it. No, this was not fear, it was terror and it had the p*rn star in a painful chokehold. The analytical part of the owl wanted to study him. Why was he so scared? What was going through his mind? To know a person’s psyche is to understand how they think, and understanding how they think is a key part of manipulating them.

“Collect yourself,” Athena replied snippily. “Do I look angry? Or just annoyed?”

“Uh… I- uhm…” Angel meekly stuttered, and the owl could see the hamster wheel spinning frantically in his head as he tried to come up with the right response so she wouldn’t get mad at him. “Annoyed..?” he asked with a shy smile and a shrug.

Athena tucked that bit of information away for later. Angel Dust had chosen the lesser of two evils in hopes that he would receive a lesser punishment. Valentino must be either abusing him or manipulating him. She didn’t know much about the p*rn industry, but she had heard awful things about it when she was alive. And she didn’t know much about Valentino, either, so this was an opportunity to figure out how the moth ticked by listening and studying his show pony.

“Correct,” she replied and took note of how the p*rn star visibly deflated with relief. “So why did you bother wasting my time with such nonsense when you knew what the truth was?”

Angel hastily glanced behind him and down the street before ushering Athena into a nearby alleyway away from the Voxtech surveillance camera at the edge of her territory. “Look, Val has been in a pissy mood lately, and I know he only gets like that if he doesn’t get what he wants… Are you… Are you the thing he didn’t get?”

Athena hummed and tucked her arms behind her back. So Valentino was a man who threw tantrums when he didn’t get what he wanted, and she had a sneaking suspicion that the moth had been taking it out of his workers, specifically his favorite worker. It was possible that the pimp was simply used to getting his way because of his status as a major Overlord. This was very interesting, and the owl wanted to get more information out of Angel.

“Hm. I very well could be,” Athena replied. “But I’m afraid you’ll have to give me more details. I’m afraid it has been quite some time since Valentino and I had last met, so what has he been up to these days?”

Angel Dust didn't answer at first. He just rubbed the burn on his hand and was visibly fighting himself on whether or not he should say anything. The terror twisting his features told the owl that he was unsure of talking because of his obvious fear of Valentino, and that told Athena that the moth had his claws in deep with his best worker. It told Athena that Valentino ruled by making his souls fear him, and she could use that. The largest and most obvious headache she had was Valentino. Perhaps a man on the inside isn’t such a bad idea.

“I’ll tell you what… let’s make a deal,” Athena took a few steps towards Angel, and green footprints burned the ground with every step she took.

“Huh? But I…?” the spider blinked owlishly. “I don’t have my soul to bargain with, toots.”

“Not for your soul, just a simple deal,” she waved a hand dismissively and with a jovial tone as if Angel had just told her a funny joke. “I give you free room and board away from Valentino whenever you are not working. In return, you tell me what I want to know about your boss when you get off the clock.”

Chapter 52: Chapter 52

Chapter Text

“DAD! Dad dad dad dad dad!” Charlie yelped in one breath as she practically slammed her fist against the door to her father’s workshop excitedly. With every enthusiastic knock, she yelled for the King of Hell to come out of his room. She stopped her valiant effort of punching a hole in the eccentric carvings for a few seconds, bouncing on her feet as she heard frantic scuttling through the wall.

A few minutes later, Lucifer Morningstar threw the door open, almost hitting himself in the face, but he managed to shrug it off. His hair appeared rather tussled under his white top hat, and there were barely visible dark circles hanging under his eyes to indicate a long and sleepless night. “CharChar! f*ck that was dumb- Uh, anyways! What can I do for my favorite daughter in all of Hell?”

“I’m your only daughter, dad,” Charlie’s excited tone didn’t change, now practically vibrating in place as she wound herself up to tell her father about this idea she had. “But! Guess what? Guess what?! I just had the greatest idea ever!! Well, it wasn’t my idea, really. It was someone else’s, I just don’t know who, but I got it from their pet owl, and this owl is really well trained, and she really likes Razzle and Dazzle, and-”

“Ookay, Charlie,” Lucifer swung around in front of her to end the little rant. He grinned nervously, not used to such word vomit so early in the morning. “That’s a lot to throw at your old man all of a sudden. I uh… I got something about an idea, and a bird, and… uh… a bird?”

“Can I please borrow Keekee? Please, please, please!” Charlie turned to her father again, practically skipping in place.

“Uh… Keekee?” Lucifer felt his tired brain rebooting. “Oh! You want the family vacation home in Pentagram City! Well, it’s all yours, kiddo! Do you need me to swing by there and help tidy the place up? It’s a little run down but nothin’ your dear ol’ dad can’t fix!”

Charlie frantically waved her hands around and stopped the rambling before it could continue further. She and her father had a habit of prattling on and on with no end in sight unless someone stopped them before they had the chance to go too far. “Oh, no, no! It’s fine, dad! Razzle and Dazzle can help me out, no problem! I know you’re really busy in the shop, so I don’t wanna bother you.”

She gave a strained smile, and Lucifer recognized it immediately. She didn’t want him to help, and he knew it. He felt a wave of self-hatred and sorrow, but he didn’t let it show. If his daughter didn’t want him around, then he shouldn’t push it. Charlie, however, had a very different thought process. She knew her father had the best intentions, but he had a habit of completely taking over anything and everything she wanted to do if she asked for help. She didn’t blame him one bit, but he just got carried away.

“Oh, that’s fine, kiddo,” Lucifer’s smile turned strained as he looked back towards his workshop and to his quickly growing pile of rubber ducks sitting in the corner. “Go uh… go have fun with this idea of yours. Keekee is probably in the foyer on the third floor.”

“Thanks! Bye, dad!” Charlie cheerfully waved as she ran down the hallways, and Lucifer halfheartedly returned the gesture before walking back inside his workshop. He then let his smile fall as he collapsed onto his work bench with a strangled sob.

Alastor managed to resist the urge to rub his head against the apartment walls, but the itch was there. He was picking at the pieces and strips of peeling velvet off his antlers as he read the newspaper. Athena had always helped him with shedding around this time every year, so he could stand to wait a few more minutes until she returned.

There were times where he had tried to solve the velvet problem himself without needing to go through the humiliation of rutting his antlers against a tree like a mindless animal every year because of some annoying and unnecessary deer quirk. He had tried picking the pieces off with his claws, but he was only ever able to pluck pinches of bloody skin off at a time because his talons would cut through the velvet before they could become easy to peel strips.

Alastor had simply decided that it was far more convenient to have Athena do it for him. She always volunteered her time and energy, she never asked for anything in return, and those long strips were much more fun to tear into with his fangs than little bloody bits his own claws pulled off. And as much as this was an inconvenience to Alastor, he knew that Athena had a much more unfortunate predicament.

He was starting to think Hell was less about eternal torment and more about eternal annoyance. While the deer shed the velvet of his antlers, the owl shed her feathers. He had caught her preening and scratching herself like a dog for weeks until the blasted feathers finally fell from her wings. She had to shed each and every flight feather over the course of several weeks so that she was not left flightless by the amount of feathers missing from her wings during the annual shed.

Athena had taken those long and shiny feathers to a professional to be made into dreamcatchers, and several were hung in the radio tower to be used as decorations along with the deer’s shed antlers. The deer had been immediately intrigued by the feathers delicately woven into eye-catching and intricate patterns, and the fabric used to tie the design together had been pieces of deer skin from Alastor’s past meals. He never quite knew what to do with the skin from the game he catches, and he was surprised that Athena had found a use for them. And he had to ignore the unusual stirring in his gut when he thought about such a thing now.

The deer’s ear flicked when he felt the front door of his and Athena’s apartment complex open. That was strange; she usually flew straight to her window and had never used the main entrance. Alastor got up from his chair and peaked through the walls with his shadow to see what sort of demon was foolish enough to break into the Radio Demon’s home. But he instead saw a tall and lanky spider Sinner slinking through the building after his owl, hovering uncomfortably close to her.

Alastor crushed the windowsill under his claws.

Chapter 53: Chapter 53

Chapter Text

“Athena, ma biche…” Alastor’s voice was low and heavily layered with radio static as he stood in the hallway with the owl and the prostitute at the other end of the hallway. The harsh screeching from his cane only intensified in volume as the seconds ticked by. “Who is this?”

“Ma bich?” Angel Dust tried repeating Alastor’s French but with a New York accent. He then playfully jabbed Athena with one of his four elbows. “You're his bitch, toots?”

The owl snarled and ignored the spider. “This here is Angel Dust. The three of us are going to be floormates for the time being, so do please try to be respectful. Both of you.” Alastor narrowed his eyes dangerously at the pink and white Sinner behind Athena. She then turned her attention away from the fuming deer and pointed out a couple doors to Angel. “Those three apartments are occupied, so feel free to claim any of the remaining open ones. And since this is my complex, I will enforce the rule that you are to bring no one-night stands into this place and no drugs.”

The spider gave a dramatic sigh at the rules the owl had stated. “Ah, c’mon. This has gotta be the perfect stash for the hard stuff!” He was right, in a sense. Two powerful Overlords lived in this building, and any Sinner and/or Loan Shark would not dare trespass for fear of facing the most sad*stic demons in the underworld.

“Which is exactly why I am prohibiting such a thing,” Athena replied curtly, still not taking her eyes off of the angry wendigo at the end of the hallway. The spider seemed to be unaware or uncaring of the murderous glare the deer was sending his way, but he was subtly moving closer and closer to hiding behind the owl, much to Alastor’s quickly-growing fury. “You may do your drugs outside of my doors, but alcohol does not have any restrictions.”

“Okay, this place ain’t so bad,” Angel’s tune changed immediately as he pulled out a cigarette and waltzed through the closest door to where he was standing. The owl just watched him go for a few seconds before turning her attention to Alastor. The red-clad demon looked seconds away from tearing the building apart brick by brick. His antlers were slowly branching out, and a heavy pressure was weighing down on the demons in the hallway.

Athena narrowed her eyes and walked a few doors down to Alastor’s apartment, keeping a close eye on him as he followed her inside. But as soon as the door closed, he took several stomping steps forwards and got right in her face. His eyes went black as bright red radio dials ticked in the sockets, and his neck cracked and twisted as he loomed over her.

He knew very well why he was angry. Athena was his. She was the only demon in Hell worthy of being his. And he was the only demon worthy of being hers. How dare this whor* walk so casually into their home with his partner by his side. Being in the vicinity of his property in such a way was enough excuse to tear the spider apart limb from limb. However, Alastor knew that the prostitute was not the sole guilty party.

“Even after everything, ma biche…” the deer’s lip curled in a snarl, the tone of his nickname for her now sour with distaste and sarcasm. His antlers branched out menacingly, and the shadows danced at his hooves. His bright red claws shot out and latched onto the owl’s vest. “You wish to throw it all away, and for what?! A taste of harlotry?!

Athena snarled as soon as he put his hands on her, and she flared her wings out. In an instant, she lit up the room with a sudden flash of bright green light as toxic fire erupted from her wings. Over the roar of the burst of flames, she heard a harsh scratch as the radio static died in an instant. She pried Alastor’s hands off of her with a twist of his wrist before a set of burning claws wrapped around one of the deer’s elongated antlers.

The owl gave a screech as she wrenched Alastor’s head back with her painful grip on his horns. He felt paralyzed to the spot as the world suddenly turned upside down, his eyes still fixated on that bright blinding light coming from Athena. The two demons went tumbling down onto the floor, and Alastor felt his skull forcefully crash against the hardwood beneath his feet as the owl slammed his head onto the ground by the grip on his antler.

The deer felt his hands being forced behind his back by a bruising grip that burned his skin and sent the acidic scent of cooked flesh cascading through the room. When the damned light finally died, Alastor felt the muscles in his body finally unlock, and he realized the position he was in. His cheek and chest were pressed onto the ground by Athena’s weight and her grip on his antler with one hand and his wrists with another hand. His hooves scratched at the floor as he tried to get up with physical strength alone at first. But the predator hissed dangerously, and Alastor felt himself go limp like the scared prey he was.

The deer pinned his ears back, and he growled at Athena. He tried reaching out to his own magic to shove her off of him, but a quick and painful twist on his antler made him go still yet again. Alastor snarled through gritted, grinning fangs up at the owl, now able to think clearly again and now trying to understand what she had done.

Athena narrowed her eyes and puffed her feathers out, bright green embers flicking from her wings and rising into the air. “d̸͈̘̫̔̕o̵̜͒͜ ̷͎̠͛n̶̞̉́o̵̟̊̆͜ṫ̵͙̩ D̷̡͙͚̬̤̘̭̲̳͉͇͍̫͓̻̦͂́̐͝Á̵̭̺̟̦̮̤̼̗̼̻͈̪̗̓̆͋̏̈̿̀̅̕̚͜͝͝Ŗ̵̡̡̫̫̭̙̮̲͑̿̏̀̄̐̂̃͗̈͋͗́̋͘͠ͅE̷̳̫̥̩͔̼̙̭̭̼͚̓͐̈́̅̀̀̉ ̷̻͎̩͂q̴̱̩͗u̸̖͊̑͝e̷̩̬̤͆ṣ̴̺͑t̶̡̰͑̏i̶̲͒̇͒ͅo̷͓̟͙͆n̸̨̮̔̄͠ ̴̯̝̑m̴̲̮̍̉e̷͎͝ ̴̺́͝ḁ̴̿̊͝g̶̥̀͘ͅâ̶͕̠̈͌i̶̧͕̲͐̌̈́ņ̷̽.” The owl’s command was short and simple. Her voice carried the weight of death itself as her toxic eyes burned his skull and her poisonous words scalded his ears.

Alastor felt himself starting to shake under Athena’s hold. Once again, he was reminded of his owner’s power over him. It was not his antler disintegrating under the owl’s palm that left him trembling on the floor, it was her. She had done it again. He noticed how he had been completely paralyzed by her flames earlier, but he didn’t know why his body reacted that way. And he didn’t know what else she was capable of doing.

Her powers in this body were quickly growing. Alastor may have control over which form she would have, but she was still able to pinpoint a weakness that even he didn’t know he had to not only defend herself against him but to also pin him down. He had the sneaking suspicion that Athena could defeat him by coordinating an attack carried out by other demons but never in person because she had very little powers. But now she just proved that she could best him in a one-on-one fight because she knew his weakness. He couldn’t help but admit that he was infatuated with the way she could not only outsmart but also overpower him.

Chapter 54: Chapter 54

Chapter Text

Athena let the flames on her back die down with a soft hush when she saw Alastor finally start to still under her. She had deliberately ignited the blaze to an intense heat and light because she knew Alastor was part deer, as much as he didn’t want to admit. Deer are especially adept at seeing with little to no light, but when a sudden brightness enters their eyes, they cannot see at all because their eyes are currently focused on taking in as much light as possible in such a dark environment. They freeze until their eyes can adapt to the abrupt shift in brightness. Classic deer in the headlights. Alastor may be frozen for a few moments while his eyes adjust, but a few seconds is really all that it takes to end a battle in some instances.

Alastor felt his owner’s claws in his hair, and he flinched because he expected another dose of acid. But she only rubbed his ear with a gentle hand, and he sighed happily, relaxing into the floor. “You look like you’re shedding again, my deer,” Athena hummed as she finally eyed the red on Alastor’s antlers.

“...Yes, I am,” the deer gazed up at her, not moving his head from where it was on the floor. In the tussle, he had forgotten about the velvet, and the lingering stings of pain and the scent of cooked skin told him that several chunks of the cartilage on his antlers had already been disintegrated by Athena’s palm, much to his disappointment. He did want the velvet to come off, but burning it off was too quickly for his liking.

The owl got up and off of Alastor with a grunt before hoisting him up with a tug on his arm. The deer stood on shaking legs, adrenaline still pumping wildly through his veins as Athena guided him to sit on the still blood-soaked couch. The stained spot of leather was still sitting innocently at the base of one of the arms of the seat, and Alastor had to rub his neck as the memories of the incident that caused that bloodstain ran through his mind.

He watched her with scarlet eyes as she swept through the kitchen like it was a second home, collecting a little knife and a rag from different drawers of his apartment. The black and green feathers flowing from her arms flew through the room with a gentle whistle, and her talons tapped the tile with little clicks as she walked. Not a single scrape or scratch was heard as each claw landed on the floor at a perfect angle; Athena had become practiced enough in her new body to not drag her oddly shaped feet as she walked.

The owl came back into the living room and sat down on the couch next to Alastor. He willed his antlers to stretch out, and Athena grabbed the one closest to her in a gentle hold, a stark contrast to the way she was clutching them in a burning vice grip mere moments ago. She scraped the knife on the bone, starting at the furthest point of his antler. The blade she was wielding was more than enough to carefully cut through the pieces of flesh and fuzz resting on the prongs, but it was not sharp enough to harm the antler itself.

“You look like you’re straining your neck,” Athena mused as she gently pulled one more slice of velvet from the deer’s antlers. Alastor was tilting his head to the side because of his and the owl’s height difference, and the added weight of his elongated antlers was starting to make his neck ache. Athena took a break from slicing the velvet off Alastor’s antlers and instead turned her attention to rubbing the base of his ear. The effect was immediate. The deer’s eyes widened as he let out a grunt of surprise before he felt himself falling sideways because he was leaning towards the owl to give her easier access to his horns.

Athena managed to move his head in a way that allowed her to avoid getting her face slashed by his sharp antlers. However, the deer now laying against her chest was creating an awkward angle for her to see and slice the velvet off of the black prongs. The owl shifted on the couch so that the back of her shoulders were pressed against the arm of the couch and she splayed her legs out onto the cushions, her talons grazing the other arm.

She maneuvered the deer to lay on his stomach with his chin propped up on her chest so she could have easy access to his antlers. His eyes were closed, and he was breathing softly as her hands went back up to the elongated prongs stretching out from his head. He felt his head shift every once in a while as Athena neatly and gently sliced each and every strip of velvet off his antlers with a practiced and precise hand.

Her clawed hands were steadily approaching the base of his antlers, and each scrape of the knife was more noticeable. Every slash of the blade sent a pleasant shiver running down his spine, and he relaxed against her chest with a sigh as the itch was finally scratched. He hummed and was barely aware of his tail digging its way out from under his coat to freely sway in content as Athena peeled the annoying bits of flesh from his antlers.

“Angel Dust is Valentino’s show pony, and he despises him almost as much as I do,” Athena quietly mused as she continued her work. Alastor cracked open a single scarlet eye to glance at the owl. That one sentence was all he needed to put the pieces together in his mind. His owner was planning on using the spider to give her intel on the Vee’s from the inside. She must’ve struck a deal with that harlot. He was given a roof over his head in exchange for his reconnaissance services. Valentino was obviously very cruel to his servants, and it made Angel Dust all too eager to search for a way out when he finally got the chance to.

That was the beauty of Athena and her hold on the souls she owned. She knew exactly what to do to keep her subordinates in line. Husk and Carmine were put in their place by fear. They both feared the mortality of themselves or the mortality of someone close to them, and the owl had exploited that delightfully. Her simply threatening those two would make her no smarter than the moth; however, she gave them a reason to stay that objectively benefitted them. Angel Dust was forced to stay with his owner because of his addiction to drugs and sex that had been instilled upon him by Valentino, but Athena promised her servants entire empires of their own with the only stipulation being to never rise against her.

Niffty was a different story, however. She was a wild card, but one thing that could be predicted consistently was her deranged obsession with “bad boys”. The wild ladybug was a simple creature; keep feeding her fresh meat and she’ll be satisfied. And since Athena was seemingly a magnet for such unsavory demons, this friendly deal was a match made in Hell.

And when it came to Alastor, the owl knew that her biggest threat was her strongest servant. She had given him the power that she could never wield because of unexplainable circ*mstances for the sole purpose of using him as her shield. But she knew that the deer would not be satisfied with serving under anybody. The mere idea of being in chains and being at another’s beck and call was revolting thought by itself. She knew that he would be doing anything and everything in his power to break free, and that looming threat was always hanging over her head. So she took away his desire to be free.

The deer could feel the tether connecting his soul to Athena’s humming in the back of his skull, and he reached out to that sensation. The chains were there, always reminding him of their presence from their thorns digging into his soul. There were times he would run his palm over the vine-like links and let their thistles prick his skin and draw little droplets of blood. Athena paused from cutting the velvet off of Alastor’s antlers and rubbed his ear with her free hand. He gave a static groan and let his eyes slide shut again, fully leaning into her hand and relishing the attention his owner was giving him.

Chapter 55: Chapter 55

Notes:

hhh i didn't realize until two days ago that today was easter. i wanted to add another weird holiday filler arc bc i committed to the bit, but if i did then it'll completely ruin the flow of the scene i have written across these chapters

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Alastor hummed happily as he leaned into Athena’s palm, and the owl had to admit that it was an alien sight to see the Radio Demon so relaxed and content. She felt his arms snake up the couch to wrap around her shoulders as his scarlet eyes slid shut once again, and the owl continued working on the velvet hanging onto the black antlers sitting on Alastor’s head, this time using her knife to scrape off the flecks and embers of velvet sitting on the horn she had grabbed earlier with an acidic palm.

She noticed the deer scrunch his face slightly at the unpleasant sensation, but that dead flesh needed to come off. The strips of neatly cut velvet from the other antler were sitting on the coffee table that Athena had moved next to the couch before she started helping the deer with his shedding problem. They were on a white rag that was quickly turning red from the blood still sticking to the bits of flesh.

But a sudden scent made her ears stand up and her nostrils flared. She sniffed the air, taking in a few more gulps of that mouthwatering smell, and her stomach growled painfully. She brought her hands to her face and realized that the scent she was picking up on was blood. Before she could stop herself or even really think about it, Athena licked up a few droplets of red on her talons and then jolted at the taste.

Alastor felt her tense up, and he opened his eyes to glance up at her only to see her licking the blood off her hands. He watched her tongue greedily run down her digits, collecting every drop of him and taking it into her mouth. He felt himself start to emit a harsh screeching sound reminiscent of a radio signal cutting out as his undead heart started hammering against his ribcage.

And when she turned her acidic and predatory gaze to him, he felt himself shrink back. Caught like a deer in headlight, he watched as Athena’s expression turned almost unreadable, but the deer could see intrigue in her bright green eyes. She reached over to the table that had the strips of velvet before taking a small chunk and biting into it like a ravenous wolf. Alastor inhaled sharply at the sight, claws digging into her shoulders as he paid rapt attention to the display before him. He could see her jaw moving as she chewed, fangs tearing into his flesh as she savored the taste and then swallowed.

The owl’s eyes sharpened with hunger, and her chest rumbled with an animalistic growl. The pieces were starting to fall into place. She may not be as close to Rosie as Alastor was, but Athena did occasionally fly to the Cannibal Overlord’s emporium to talk. And during one of their discussions, the taller demon had let it slip that cannibals experience a withdrawal of sorts if they go without eating meat for an extended period of time. It had completely slipped the owl’s mind, but she had officially become a cannibal after the incident in the casino.

Then that meant that the venison Alastor had been feeding her was not just venison.

Athena raised an eyebrow at the deer laying on her chest, and he still had not made any move to get off of her. She twirled the strip of bloody velvet in her talons, letting the meat dangle from her claws as she stared at him. “Is this your idea of a prank, my deer?” She knew that he had also put the pieces together. The owl had to ask herself briefly why he had decided to feed her pieces of himself rather than tell her about the unfortunate consequence of being a cannibal, and a few possibilities came to mind.

The first was that he was going to use this addiction against her, and she was only lucky to have pieced it together as quickly as she had. But then Athena had yet another question. Why was the deer offering his own flesh instead of taking some from a poor, random Sinner? Devouring another demon was seen as disrespectful and a form of punishment, especially in the cannibal community. But based on the look on his face, the owl had to guess that Alastor had found some twisted satisfaction in this new dynamic. And that was something she could use.

Athena felt the deer’s hand slither up from her shoulder to her neck and then her face. He pushed himself off of her chest and instead leaned up to tower over the owl on the couch as his thumb ran across her cheek, red claw hovering dangerously close to her bright green eye. She continued to fearlessly gaze up at him, her eyes locked onto his half-lidded scarlet ones as the blood red talon traced a line across her cheek, digging through her skin and painting the little white feathers on her face with a dark color.

It took every ounce of self-control Alastor had to not react to what he was seeing. The color staining the owl’s feathers was not red. Rather than a pretty shade of light crimson, the liquid oozing from the shallow cut on Athena’s face was a deep forest green so dark it was almost black. The sheen sliding between the tiny white feathers looked to have the textural consistency of regular Sinner blood, but the color was wrong, it was alien.

Alastor then realized that he had never seen the owl bleed before, or at least, he never thought he did. When Carmilla attacked, she pierced Athena’s shoulders with angelic blades, but he never saw red from her because the dark green of her blood had blended into the greens and blacks of her clothing. It made the deer ask himself once again what Athena truly was.

He hesitated for a moment before leaned down and running his elongated tongue across the cut on the owl’s face. She didn’t even flinch at the sharp pinch of pain nor at the sensation of him licking up the oddly-colored blood. But as soon as that dark green hit his palette, Alastor groaned. He didn’t know if it was because he was finally tasting his owner or because her blood had a different taste to it in comparison to other Sinner’s, but either way, he wanted more. Athena then reached up and grabbed hold of his tongue with a pinch before it could retreat back into his mouth.

She seemed to consider her next course of action for a moment before her thumb dug into the pink muscle and pierced it like a spear impaling a corpse. Alastor shuddered at the feeling but did not dare pull his tongue away, even as he felt the wound start to bleed between her fingers.

“Tell me how that tastes, my deer,” Athena whispered, face inches away from his. “My blood and yours, combined together. My blood, the blood that has been in my heart, in my soul now on your tongue, making me a part of you. Our blood together, our souls together. Tell me how it tastes.” She let go of the deer’s tongue and carefully watched him as he took in her words and her blood.

Merde, ma biche,” Alastor swore under his breath as he felt his complexion deepen with a blush. He was all too conscious of the metallic tang on his palette, the way the droplets slid down his throat before settling in his stomach, her sinful words ringing in his ears. It sent shivers of pleasure down his spine and made his very soul feel like it was on fire. “Give me more…” the deer rasped breathlessly as he leaned closer to her, face starting to flush as his scarlet eyes honed in on the dark green on her white feathers.

Athena only smirked and ran her thumb across the fresh cut on her cheek, and Alastor knew that they were going to be on the couch for much longer than he originally thought.

Notes:

after fifty five f*cking chapters i finally drop some athena lore

happy hunting bois >:3

Chapter 56: Chapter 56

Notes:

WARNING: blood and gore, extreme depictions of violence, cannibalism, sexual content implications

summary in end notes

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Alastor grabbed hold of Athena’s wrist and eyed the drop of green sitting innocently on her thumb before taking the digit into his mouth. He let his tongue wrap around the finger as he hummed pleasantly, savoring the taste of her blood. The deer wanted more, and he eyed her with a pleading look as he released her thumb, sliding closer to her face where the still bleeding cut was.

Athena felt herself freeze. She knew she had feelings for him and he had feelings for her, but she still didn’t know what feelings those were. Moments like these truly made her question just what they were to each other.

The owl believed that she could confidently say that they weren’t lovers, but they weren’t just business partners, either. They weren’t friends, but they weren’t in a romantic relationship, either. The owl ran a hand through the feathers on her head with a silent sigh. She didn’t like not knowing something. She always prided herself on being the smartest in the room, and she knew that Alastor respected her as such. So being clueless about such a thing as this made her skin crawl uncomfortably.

However, having the deer here and so close to her did wonders to calm her nerves. While the fears of the unknown caused an uneasy chill to creep down her back, his body resting on hers quelled those anxieties with a wave of warmth and comfort. Athena let herself just relax and enjoy this intimacy. She tried to push down those questions to the back of her mind, but they still buzzed in the deep recesses of her consciousness like an annoying insect. But in this moment, she didn’t want to think, she just wanted to feel.

She wanted what they should have, what Alastor was trying to get them to feel when he kissed her in the radio tower. But Athena remembered that she and him were sickened, repulsed by such an intimate action. It made her question herself and her actions as she held her deer in her arms. Which move was the right one? Would she accidentally do something that would ruin the excitement and desire they had for each other like that kiss?

The owl had an idea. She bit down on her lip, piercing the skin and letting the near-black blood flow down her chin. The invitation was clear, and she could see the deer’s own bright eyes hone in on that gentle river. Athena swiped her tongue across the wound, taking in some of the green. Alastor hungrily eyed her bloody lips; his owner’s bone-white feathers made the color of the strange blood pop beautifully. He longed to chase after it, but that awkward memory in the radio tower ensured his restraint.

Athena let her hand slide up his neck before resting in his hair, and the deer could feel those talons slither to his ears to caress them. She knew that it turned him docile, and she was using that to keep him still. The claws of her other hand wrapped around the links of his chain, and Alastor let out a static groan and felt himself relax from the dual sensations, almost collapsing on top of her.

He knew what she was doing, and a part of him didn’t want to let it happen. He knew what happened last time between them when he tried to initiate such an intimate moment, and he didn’t want this moment to be ruined just like last time. But he wanted this, he needed this, he craved this. Athena was the one he had been waiting so many years for. Alastor had to ask himself why it took being sent to eternal damnation to find the one he was meant to be with, but at the moment, he didn’t care.

The deer felt himself leaning forwards, and the intoxicating metallic smell of blood hit his nose. The owl was guiding his head closer to hers, but a part of him still wanted to pull away. This was too much, it was going to be too much. It was going to ruin what intimacy they already had; he needed more time to properly court her.

But the scent and sight of that delicious green was far too tempting. Alastor let his tongue run across her chin to collect what had leaked from the wound, and he shuddered pleasantly. His eyes slid shut, and he let himself enjoy the sensations. He dared to move his lips closer to hers as he lapped up the blood, and his fingers started to dig into the fabric of her feather cape. Athena hummed and ran her hand down his back, causing so very pleasurable sparks to erupt under his skin wherever her palm made contact.

It made him wish his tailcoat and vest and turtleneck were not in the way. His hands seemed to be sensing his discomfort, and they started gripping at the lapels of his jacket in an attempt to shed the annoying extra layers, but he just couldn't get it off of him. Alastor felt like he was running on autopilot, his body was moving by itself like a puppet on strings, a slave to his own desire. And his owner was the source of that desire. She was controlling him yet again, and it felt so f*cking good.

Athena bit down on her lip again, and Alastor groaned at the scent of more blood, eagerly lapping it up. The owl caressed his ear and guided his lips to hers. The deer couldn’t even think to remember how this sort of scenario ended for them last time; he was far too preoccupied with the addictive taste on his tongue. He eagerly pressed their lips together, gently sucking and licking the blood still oozing from the wound.

He could feel her humming against his lips as she almost hesitantly opened her mouth and let her tongue reach out to slide against his and over the bite marks on her own lips. The deer gave a static groan as he pursued the blood stolen from him, and he cupped her cheeks. He could feel the still-fresh cut on her face as his thumb slid across her skin.

Athena began to close her mouth, fangs poking his tongue and eventually sinking into it. Alastor’s eyes shot open, and he instinctively tried to pull away, but a warning growl from his owner and a yank on his leash forced him to be still. He could feel her slowly, almost gently chewing on the bleeding and torn flesh in her mouth, and it felt like his entire body went limp. His ears folded back, he slumped down against her chest, and he could taste his own blood in his mouth as he felt her teeth very deliberately pull his tongue apart.

The sound of a heavy gulp was the only warning Alastor got before his head was yanked away by the chain around his throat. The links dug into his skin, and he could feel the familiar tickling sensation of red running down his skin. Alastor felt his arms shaking against her chest as he tried to hold himself up. His own blood was dribbling down his chin as he heavily panted with a dazed expression. Athena licked her lips, and her eyes darkened with hunger and another emotion the deer couldn’t name before she once again grabbed hold of the dark green links with merciless talons.

Notes:

chapter summary: alastor and athena finally lock lips but the owl straight up eats his tongue while doing so but the deer is kinda okay with it lmao

also happy april fools day but more importantly it's angel dust's birthday
i wanted to do a holiday special chapter again, but once again, it would ruin the flow of the scene i am currently writing in rdd so sorry angel maybe next time buddy :(

Chapter 57: Chapter 57

Notes:

WARNING: blood and gore, cannibalism, cannibalism as an allegory for sexual assault

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

“Get up,” the order was short but commanding. Alastor could almost swear that he would have obeyed from just the tone alone, but the little yank on the leash only enforced his obedience. The deer almost bonelessly rolled off of the couch, and Athena followed quickly after. She kept her grip on the chain as she started marching to a door, and the deer could only grip her wrist with both hands for some sort of stability as he was far too disoriented to do anything else while she dragged him through his apartment. He could barely comprehend the sound of a door being thrown open and the light entering his glazed eyes suddenly changed as they entered a new room.

Another harsh tug on his leash sent him flying forwards, and Alastor found himself collapsed onto a dark red bedspread. By the time he gained awareness, Athena was already on him, straddling his waist and grasping his wrists in a tight and unyielding vice-grip. Her talons bore into his skin, her predatory green eyes bored into his skull, and the deer let out an honest to god whine.

The owl snarled before lunging forwards and sinking her already blood-soaked fangs into his neck. Alastor moaned aloud and threw his head back, his antlers clawing up the sheets under him. “You insult me, my deer,” Athena growled against his skin, and the deer froze for a moment, his mind frantically running through the past fifteen minutes to find what he did wrong.

“Do you honestly think I would chase a filthy whor*? Do you honestly think he is worth my time and attention?” Athena grabbed hold of his ear with a vice-grip, and Alastor sucked in a pained breath when he felt her talons pierce the delicate and sensitive skin under the red fur. “Do you?

“No!” Alastor yelped almost instantly. He clenched his eyes shut and gripped her shoulders with his now free hands, shaking his head frantically. “No! No, I’m sorry, owner!”

“Evidently you did,” the owl hissed dangerously, and the deer felt himself shaking and whimpering like the pathetic prey animal he was under a predator’s hold. “Let me make something very clear to you. You will not question me like that again. You will not disrespect me like that again. Is that understood?”

“Ngh…” the deer mumbled his reply, and he felt his face heating up with humiliation at how his words came out as weak little whines and moans. He curled up as much as physically possible against the sheets under him. “Yes…”

“Is that understood?” Athena bared her fangs, growling right into the deer’s ear, evidently not getting the answer she wanted.

“Y-Yes, owner…” Alastor swallowed shakily.

The owl gave a low hum, and the deer realized it was from satisfaction when he felt her lips against his neck, lapping and drinking up the blood from the wound she had inflicted earlier. He immediately felt his body tense up. His muscles locked, his back arched, and his claws dug into her shoulders as he relished the sensation of the owl slowly, almost teasingly, feasted on his flesh. “Yes, owner…” the words breathily escaped his mouth as his head lolled to the side to give her more room. Alastor felt like he was stuck in a loop; his brain was only capable of repeating the last words he spoke as Athena’s actions were quickly overpowering his sense of resistance and pride. And to his morbid delight, that seemed to only encourage her.

Athena grabbed hold of the chain around Alastor’s neck before pulling him up to sit on the mattress. He didn’t fight her, and he even gasped sharply when she pulled the leash taut and held the links in her mouth so her hands could be free. The deer could feel his tailcoat sliding down his shoulders, but just barely. He was too fixated on the image of his owner holding his leash between her fangs the way she was. He could only imagine how those thorny links were digging into her gums as she focused on shedding a layer or two from him.

She eventually dropped the chain, and it landed in her awaiting palm. The owl licked her lips with a smirk and pushed him back down to lay against the mattress. Alastor felt himself shudder at the ravenous and predatory look she was giving him. Her acidic green eyes swept over his form as they analyzed each and every part of him, watching the muscles move under his skin to see which parts would have the most meat, studying the way his joints moved so that she would know how to more easily break the pieces down to make them easier to eat.

“A very poor decision on your part, my darling deer,” Athena damn near purred as she pulled the chain again, and Alastor hissed and arched his back against her as he felt the collar tighten around his throat. The thistles on each link sank into his skin, and the owl watched the red flow on the pale gray skin and on her dark green chain. As the scarlet ran across the links, Athena watched as small blood-colored roses emerged from the chain like flowers blooming on jungle vines. They were feeding off of her quickly growing desire as she watched her prey cower and squirm beneath her.

“Getting me addicted to the taste of you,” the owl mused as she swiped a small sliver of blood off of his throat before lapping up the drop with a smirk. “The nerve you have~ They dismissed you before, they ridiculed you before, they disrespected you before you came to me. I gave you power, prestige, glory beyond your wildest dreams all for the small price of your human soul.”

Alastor grasped the chain and felt the thorns stab his palms from the force behind his hold, and he looked up at his owner with a pleading look. Athena couldn’t quite decipher if he was begging for more or begging for it to stop, but either way, it made her smirk widen to a sad*stic grin. Seeing her once proud deer whine and squirm on the bed knowing she was responsible for it made a rush of euphoria run through her veins.

“And even after everything I’ve done for you… You would still plot against me? How very ungrateful…” Her tone turned darker and more sinister as the chain binding their souls together slithered up her arm like a snake, weaving around her wing and avoiding her flight feathers before circling her neck and winding back down her other arm.

This was just a game to her. Athena enjoyed the vicious schemes against her, and he knew he enjoyed the schemes against him. She loved these games, and this was just another one. She wanted to play with his acknowledgement and respect he has of her power and reinforce his obedience by reminding him of just what he was before she owned him.

“You will be offering yourself to me any and every time I feel hungry,” Athena ordered as she ran her hand down his chest, claws catching the threads of his striped vest and making some of the buttons tear off. She relished the shudder from the demon under her as she started prying off the fine fabric. “That will be your punishment for your insubordination. Disrespecting your owner is a crime that would get you fed to the Exorcists if you were under a different Overlord. You’re lucky I’m so n̸̨̡͕̄ͅͅ ̵̬͎̇ḭ̶̈́̄̓͠ ̶̧̪͆̓̈͝c̵̯̤̙̹̀̈́̆͝ ̷͉̗̍͑̊̌ȩ̴͓̝̠̼̉̌̕.

Without waiting for a response, Athena clamped her claws around Alastor’s wrists. When she removed her hands from his body, glowing green shackles took their place. Link after link ran up his bed from his tied wrists and grasped onto the headboard like owl talons, trapping Alastor’s arms. Athena smirked at the deer’s flushed expression with blood-soaked fangs.

Without another word, she thrust her hand down into Alastor’s abdomen, sinking her claws into the flesh and burrowing past muscle until they reached the squirming and warm organs underneath. The deer cried out in exquisite agony as he felt her talons graze his spine, and he clenched his hands around the chains holding him down. The spikes impaled his palms and jolted against his nerves.

Athena began her meal by pulling out a fresh liver.

Notes:

chapter summary: athena drags alastor to the bedroom and ties him down with her chains before eating him

okay i’m done being disgusting now i swear. next chapter is gonna skip the gory details and go straight to the morning after and the aftermath.

this chapter and its predecessors were not easy to write but i feel like they were necessary.

if you don’t wanna continue this fic, i understand. i seriously need to update the tags but i’ll admit i don’t know which ones i need so lemme know in the comments pls. love you all for sticking by me so far!

Chapter 58: Chapter 58

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Alastor sucked in a breath between clenched teeth and shakily let it out. He could feel Athena’s cold claws in the warmth of his abdomen as they moved about, pushing flesh and bones around as they searched for another tasty bite. He was feeling extremely drained, and his muscles were quickly losing their energy. All he could do was focus on his breathing as his body worked overtime to compensate for the blood loss and for replenishing what pieces of him he had lost.

He could feel bite after bite, and his owner was cruel or kind enough to keep the organs she was feasting on attached to the rest of his body through strained blood vessels and bits of flesh. He thought it was never going to end, and he didn’t want it to. The deer could only describe such a sensation as a high; it was euphoric and mind-numbing, and he loved every second of it. But all good things must come to an end, and he felt the onslaught of pain and agony subside as Athena’s talons pressed his open stomach together and patiently wait for his body to mend the damage.

Alastor had long since given up struggling; he barely had enough energy to move his head. But he could still feel Athena release his wrists from their shackles before one of his wrists was carefully, almost gently pulled down from above his head and instead sat next to his still bleeding abdomen. The deer felt his owner intertwine her fingers with his, and a sudden surge of energy rushed into his body through her hold on his hand. He groggily picked his head up before realizing he now had the energy to do so.

Athena was transferring power to him so he could heal faster. When Alastor transformed her from an owl to a humanoid Sinner, then he would lend her some of his power so she could maintain that form. So giving that power back meant she was going to go back to being an owl sooner than expected.

“O-owner…?” Alastor tried sitting up, but he flinched when the pull of his muscles made him all too aware of the damage on and in his stomach again. Athena hissed at him and put a palm to his chest and gently forced him back against the mattress before moving her attention back to the wound. The deer reluctantly relaxed back onto the now blood-soaked sheets as he felt his skin start to weave itself back together, the process now quicker and easier with Athena pushing more demonic energy into him to help the healing.

But once the exterior of the wound was finished stitching itself back together, Athena leaned forwards, not letting go of his hand before cupping his pale gray cheek with her other palm. The once piercing acid-colored eyes were now soft as they gazed down on him. Alastor could still feel his body mending the damage under his skin, and every twist of a muscle regrowing and every pull of an organ stretching out to build new flesh reminding him of what the owl did mere moments ago. After the brutality and intensity of that moment, it also made the gentle and feather-like touches on his skin feel so much more heavenly.

Alastor groaned tiredly as he pressed his face against her palm as she rubbed her thumb across his knuckles. “None of that “owner” stuff, my deer. Not now. Just relax and let me take care of you.”

“But I… this was a punishment for my bad behavior,” the deer weakly protested. “Shouldn’t I…?”

“And you did wonderfully, my darling deer,” Athena purred as she ran a thumb across Alastor’s cheek, and he then realized that a tear had fallen from his eye. Going from avoiding any and all touch to sudden intensity with the one demon who was allowed to do so with him had made the deer unbelievably overstimulated. He was incredibly grateful for his owner. She was being so patient and kind with him. This gentle touch and her aiding his healing process made him trust her even more.

“But your punishment is over. I’m not angry at you, I promise,” the owl hummed as she slowly rolled Alastor over onto his side so that his organs wouldn’t regrow fused to his spine. The bits and pieces of him that she had devoured under his left side had successfully regenerated, and she remembered enough about human anatomy to know that sleeping on your left side was good for a person’s digestive system. She didn’t know if the same logic applied to demons, but Alastor had enough of a humanoid physique to most likely share humanoid features.

The deer groaned again when he felt himself being rolled over, and he managed to pull his knees up slightly. His owner wasn’t angry at him anymore. Such a thought made it that much easier to fully relax against the mattress. Even though he thoroughly enjoyed this moment with Athena, he was exhausted. As soon as his face hit the crimson pillow he felt his eyes droop as the sensation of regenerating organs still crawled under his skin. The owl was still steadily pumping more magic into his system to assist his body healing itself, but the deer knew that simply going to sleep would do plenty with fixing the damage done to his flesh.

Alastor knew the situation that he and the demon he wanted to love were in was not normal. For so long, he had always heard stories about how love was breathtaking and beautiful, but what he and Athena had just done was twisted and ugly. It was bloody and brutal, sinful and depraved, but the deer loved every moment of it. And this tender moment between the two of them only increased his devotion to her. He wanted to love her, but he still didn’t feel the sparks he was told about over and over again in both life and afterlife.

But Alastor felt his chest clench painfully at the memory of his mother telling him about love. She had always told him that he would find someone that he would love someday who would love him all the same. The realization that he just couldn’t feel love made him think his beloved mother was going to be crestfallen on his behalf. Similar thoughts had crossed his mind when he took a life for the first time. She was always such a gentle soul, and he knew that she would be sorely disappointed in him as a person and as a son.

The deer pushed those emotions back with a vengeance. He had always felt a great deal of shame and self-loathing whenever he would even think about his mother’s disapproving gaze. Some days in his youth, he would come home with a few bruises after picking a fight with the other kids in the neighborhood. Some days in his adult life, he would come home from the bar, bloodied and beaten after a brawl. Everytime momma would patch him up after these incidents, he would always swear to never resort to violence again. He hated seeing her disappointed in him. But even after everything, Alastor still became a monster who hunted other humans for sport in life and in the afterlife.

Alastor curled up even tighter on the bed and dug his claws into the sheets under him as the onslaught of memories came back to him in a fury. He was still feeling physically and mentally drained from the fatigue and overstimulation of his and Athena’s moment together, so he was feeling exceptionally vulnerable to these ever so persistent moments in his life on earth that would occasionally claw its way to the forefront of his mind.

But he then felt a palm resting on the top of his closed fist. Alastor opened his eyes to see Athena’s hand resting on his own, and he instantly felt himself relax. “M-ma biche…” he shakily said.

She laid down next to him on the bed, her chest to his back with her arm placed on his torso so that her long and beautiful flight feathers could sit on his body like a warm and safe blanket. She tucked her face in the crook of his shoulder, and the deer had to admit that he expected her to bite down on his throat, but he only felt soft puffs of breath. “I’m right here, my beloved deer,” Athena responded with the same soft tone.

Notes:

alright bois, i'm finally gonna drop my discord and my tumblr on my ao3 account so feel free to dm me in either. i don't bite or do i wouldn't you like to know. i'm probably gonna be more active on tumblr with rdd content and it'll be easier to chat with you guys

i still can't drop links bc i'm a loser but my user for both tumblr and discord is @avocavocado

i'm very creative with my usernames lmao

Chapter 59: Chapter 59

Chapter Text

Athena jolted, slightly disoriented. It took her a few moments to realize she was lying down on her side in a darkened room clutching a large mass close to her chest, most likely a large pillow. But this mass was much too skeletal to be a pillow. Her nose twitched as she took in the familiar scent of wetland vegetation and fresh venison, and she ran her hand up what was against her chest only for her palm to be met with the sensation of bare skin.

The owl finally realized what was going on; she was just now waking up from a nap. The smell of swamp was from the bayou section Alastor had quite literally magically transported into his apartment, and the smell of deer meat was the lingering traces of blood from the still-healing wounds on the red-clad demon’s body right under Athena’s nose. She and the deer had gotten too excited yesterday, and they decided to move their little bloody escapade into his bedroom after a few minutes of being on the couch.

They must’ve fallen asleep afterwards. Alastor’s back was pressed against her chest, and her arm was thrown over his torso so that her feathers were acting as a blanket for the rest of his body. The deer seemed to still be dead asleep, but Athena could see the flesh mending itself on his shoulder and on his arms. The owl wanted to stay where she was, but there were things she needed to do this morning. First was a shower because she had been foolish enough to go to sleep without washing the blood off her. Alastor was not going to be having much difficulty cleaning himself, but removing stains from feathers was bound to be a very tedious and annoying task.

The owl sighed tiredly and let herself fall back onto the bed, burying her nose in the crook of the deer’s shoulder. For one damned moment, the owl wished she could just lay here. Cradling her partner so close to her filled her with a sensation she could only describe as comforting. It was a soothing calm that eased the weariness that had seeped into her soul over the decades, and she didn’t realize until now just how cold her entire being was when going through the daily grind in comparison to the warmth flooding through her body from every point of contact with the demon in her arms.

Athena groaned silently as she sat up. She rubbed her head and let her legs dangle off the mattress as she let her mind fully wake up. Alastor shifted slightly on the bed but otherwise didn’t awaken. The owl glanced down at him and grabbed the blanket sitting at the foot of the bed that had been kicked away by the deer demon’s hooves hours ago. She was about to toss the covers over the red-clad demon to substitute her wing, but she froze when her acid green eyes landed on something. Running down Alastor’s bare back was a long thick stripe of short black fur, and on that backstrap was a pattern of symmetrical white spots, rather reminiscent of a fawn’s fur pattern.

Normally, the sight of such a thing would make any other demon swoon, but to Athena and most likely Alastor as well, those spots were just a reminder to the deer about how he had died young. The owl swallowed thickly as memories of her own life and death momentarily clawed its way to the forefront of her mind before she pushed them back down forcefully. She draped the blanket over her partner before getting up slowly to make sure the mattress didn’t creak and then carefully walked through the room towards the door.

After the shower and a fresh change of clothes, she walked out of Alastor’s apartment and down the hall to the floor’s lounge area. Usually, it wasn’t inhabited by anyone other than Niffty who would occasionally sweep the entirety of the complex because she valued cleanliness, but today, Angel Dust was sitting on one of the couches and was fiddling with the remote to the old television sitting against the wall. The spider was grimacing at the dusty old thing; evidently he was not knowledgeable about how they operated. Alastor didn’t care for the televisions in the complex. They were far too old for Vox to tamper with them, but they didn’t have a use either since neither of them watched it.

Angel spotted Athena walking into the lounge, and he promptly shot her a smirk and wiggled his eyebrows suggestively, “Did you and strawberry pimp have fun? You two went at it pretty hard. I got more than enough ASMR to help me jack off a few times to break in the new place~”

The owl ran a hand through the feathers on her head with a groan. Of course, he would interpret this situation as sexual in nature. But the realization that the spider heard her and Alastor through the walls made a chill run up her spine, “I assure you, nothing of the sort happened. Have you met Niffty yet? I would like to introduce the two of you before I leave for my errands today.”

As if summoned by the mere mention of her name, the ladybug Sinner dashed out into the lobby with her chipper attitude and deranged smile, “Hi, Athena! Did you bring me another bad boy?” Her single orange eye honed in on the spider sitting in the lounge, and she started giggling madly.

“Baby, I’m nothin’ but a bad boy~” the p*rn star struck a suggestive pose and waggled his eyebrows. He either didn’t get the aura of the ladybug, or this was just a reflex. It was most likely the latter because Athena saw that he had a certain preference for men.

Niffty cackled gleefully and tried skittering off towards Angel, but the owl was faster. She grabbed hold of the back of the ladybug’s shirt to halt her in her tracks, “Niffty, dear, would you mind cleaning up the mess in apartment 2A? There is quite a lot of blood on the couch and in the dining area.”

“A mess?” The little Sinner perked up with sparkles in her single eye. The owl spotted the spider eyeing them with a dumbfounded look. When he heard the word mess, he looked to be winding up for an inappropriate comment, but when he heard the mess was blood, he just looked nauseated.

“Yes, Alastor keeps a mop in the corner of his pantry, and would you mind taking care of the blood in my old clothes? They are sitting in the kitchen sink for you,” Athena replied. Niffty lit up before scampering off to the apartment in question. The owl then turned to the spider with a raised eyebrow, “What time do you need to be heading off to work today?”

“I’m off today, toots,” Angel shrugged as he jabbed his thumb into the power button on the remote again, but once again, nothing happened.

“The remote appears to be out of batteries,” Athena mused as she walked over to the television itself before manually turning it on, much to the explosive annoyance of the spider.

“Are you kiddin’ me? I ain’t gettin’ off my ass to change the goddamn channel!”

“Your loss, then,” the owl shrugged, unable to keep the amused smirk off her face. Before she walked out the door, she turned back to Angel, still moping on the couch. “Since you have the day off, might I recommend you move your belongings from the Vee’s Tower to your apartment. And please do try to not disturb Alastor this morning, he appears to be in a mood.” She was not going to tell him that the red-clad demon was still asleep. Angel may not be a threat physically, but asleep meant vulnerable, and she was not going to compromise her partner’s safety. That, and he’ll probably try to eat an arm or two if left in the same room as Angel.

Chapter 60: Chapter 60

Chapter Text

When Athena got to the Morningstar Castle, the balcony was deserted. She landed on the stone railing, looking about with her feathers fluffed. Every Tuesday and Friday, she made it a point to fly to this spot at around the same time to visit with the Princess and her goat friends. However, she was absent. The owl perched on the railing and briefly preened her feathers. Maybe Charlie just forgot when he was supposed to go somewhere. She could wait for a few minutes.

“So, you’re the weird bird that gave my little girl her idea?”

A new male voice could have spoken up behind her, and Athena had to wonder how he got so close to her back, and still managed to escape her notice. She had a sense of near paralysis. She shuddered in her spirit as her mind instantly connected the dots despite the seemingly inconspicuous casual tone of speech.Athena turned her head around to see a slender but short man with a clear resemblance to Charlie. He had bone white skin, rosy cheeks, and blond hair with thick, paler blond highlights. His hair was slicked back under a white top hat that was decorated with a gold snake and a red apple sitting under three spikes meant to resemble a crown. The rest of his attire was rather reminiscent of a circus ringmaster: ring-lined white propped-collared tailcoat with several gold buttons.

Lucifer Morningstar. Prince of Pride and King of Hell itself.

“You’re a very funny looking thing,” the King raised an eyebrow and leaned closer to Athena, snake-like eyes studying her. “Shouldn’t your neck be broken from twisting your head all the way around like that?”

Did he really not know Athena was actually a Sinner? Or was he so high up in the hierarchy that he did not care and was content with treating Sinners and other hellborn in the same condescending fashion?

Initially, the owl was clueless about what to do. Despite his unassuming appearance and voice, this man was the most powerful entity in Hell. With a sweep of his palm, he could take her soul away if she did anything to upset him, or even if she did nothing. He could capture her if she attempted to fly away under the guise of a harmless hellborn bird. At this point, her silver tongue was her only option.

“Oh… uhm, Your Majesty. I apologize, I didn’t expect to see you here,” Athena forced her voice to remain level as she looked up at the King. She turned her body around to fully face him without taking her eyes off of him.

Lucifer blinked owlishly for a moment, and it was then that I realized that he really did not know I was actually a Sinner. Could he not sense it? Or did he not bother to check? Either way, there was no going back now. “My name is Athena. Pleasure to be meeting you, quite a pleasure.” She put a wing to her chest while the other flared outwards as she bowed theatrically.

“You… are unusually polite,” Lucifer’s lip curled up in a sneer, and Athena couldn’t tell if it was disgust or disappointment or confusion or some other emotion she couldn’t read. “It’s freaking me out a little bit. Shouldn’t you be setting a building on fire or running in terror? Sinners are either psychopaths or wimps, there is no in between.”

“I will admit that being in the presence of the most powerful beings in Hell has instilled a sense of fear in me. I do hope you understand I have no desire to offend you, sire. It is simply an acknowledgement of the difference in our power.”

“I’m not offended, just… surprised. Normally Sinners would be quivering or groveling at my feet, begging for their lives. Not simply standing in one place, looking at me and holding their composure. You are different, you’re interesting.”

“I will take that as a compliment.”

A flicker of amusem*nt crossed his face, and the owl had to assume that was a good sign as of right now. On Lucifer’s end, he was intrigued. This little bird had peaked his interest in more ways than one. First, he has never seen a Sinner who took the form of an unassuming bird like she had. Was it a creative decision or something that she was stuck with? If it was the latter, then the Devil wanted to know why. Sinners did not get to choose the physical form their souls take in his realm; they were decided by the circ*mstances in which they died as well as their lives on Earth.

“Tell me, Athena, would you be upset if I call you something other than that name?”

The owl raised an eyebrow, not offended or confused but interested. Her mind was running a mile a minute as she carefully considered her words. Despite his aloof behavior, Lucifer was still the King of Hell. Making a show of being honest would do wonders to build rapport, and his seemingly interest in her attitude already was another factor to take into consideration. “It will depend, sire. If it is something derogatory, then I will be upset. But that will not affect you in the slightest, I’m sure.”

“Nah, nothing derogatory. I just think ‘Athena’ is a rather formal and boring name,” Lucifer waved a hand, but Athena managed to catch the subtle eye twitch as soon as those words left his mouth, almost like he was flinching back from his own speech. Was that regret in his snake-like eyes? “Uh, how about something fun?”

“I’m known to be a rather formal demon, Your Majesty,” the owl tucked her wings in again. “I’ll take no offense to a nickname of sorts. However, if I were to make a suggestion, something with a limited number of syllables might be a good idea. Simple and easy to say. But I know I am not the imaginative one here.” Athena subtly challenged the King, wanting to see the legendary creativity Charlie had spoken so highly about.

Athena saw Lucifer’s lips curl into a wicked grin, and for a moment, she pondered if she had gone too far. His slitted eyes narrowed, and his grin bared his sharp teeth. But the King was simply delighted, it was something he had not felt in what felt like a long time. “Then, oh so very formal and sophisticated Athena, may I call you anything I wish?”

“You need not ask my permission, sire. However, I cannot guarantee that my reaction to whatever nickname you choose will be consistently calm.”

Lucifer laughed this time, and he tapped his cane on the ground. This interaction was not at all what he had expected, but he was going to have fun with it, either way. He had made the mistake of opening his mouth as the familiar presence of an intrusive thought crept its way into his head, but rather than giving him a judgment or belittling look, Athena was playing along. She was following his odd brand of madness without so much as a hint of simply allowing him to do what he wished because he was the King and she was afraid of the consequences. He had to admit that it gave him a sort of confidence, a truly alien sensation after all these centuries.

Chapter 61: Chapter 61

Chapter Text

“Excellent. Then, your name…” Lucifer almost froze for a moment. He could see interest in her bright green eyes. She was expecting him to come up with something clever, witty, creative. She expected him to live up to the legend of the archangel with ideas and dreams so ambitious he was cast out of Heaven. It made him want to live up to the image she has of him, the image everyone has of him. But he could only see it as a daunting task.

Lucifer should not care what these lowly Sinners think of him, but that disappointment on someone’s face as they looked at him struck a nerve that rattled his very soul. He knew his daughter expected great things from him, but he was never able to deliver, and this moment only reminded him of that. The fear of failure weighed heavily on his shoulders, and it made his once genuine smile twist into a strained grin.

“Your name will be… Goose,” Lucifer almost winced at what eventually tumbled out of his mouth, and he waited for Athena to laugh in his face and call him a joke of a king.

But the owl instead gave a snicker behind a wing. She raised an eyebrow, and Lucifer could swear she was smirking in amusem*nt but not mockery. “Goose? I have been mistaken for an eagle before but never a goose. Would you do me the honor of letting me pick your brain for a moment, Your Majesty?” Athena straightened her back and tucked her wings into her sides.

“Well, it’s… it’s fun!” Lucifer felt his eye twitch, and he severely wished he had hold of his favorite rubber duck he used as a stress ball. Instead he had to make due with gripping the apple on his cane with a white-knuckled grasp. His mind landed on goose because Athena was a bird and he was reminded of his hobby because ducks were also birds. He knew that she had expected more from him, but there wasn’t disappointment in her acidic green eyes. The King saw a hint of bewilderment and glee but also a twinge of cunning that put him on edge.

“If you don’t mind me pointing out, sire, you seem to have a fascination with rubber ducks. Is that why you called me Goose?” Athena tilted her head with a slight smirk.

Lucifer was dumbfounded that she knew about his hobby, but he then realized that he was gripping his rubber duck in his hand instead of his cane. He had accidentally summoned it out of habit to deal with his nerves. “Uh, yeah… Perhaps something did inspire me to choose that name specifically. Do you like rubber ducks, Goose?”

The owl chuckled at the mention of the nickname, and Lucifer took that as a good sign. There was still a part of him that cared what others thought of him, and it drove him mad. He was the Devil, the King of Hell, the most powerful demon of the underworld. He should not care about what others, especially his own subjects, thought of him. But it still hurt to hear his name being used so frequently in curses because it reminded him of how much he was hated by Heaven, Hell, and all of humanity itself because of his mistake in the Garden of Eden all those millennia ago.

“I’m afraid I have never paid much attention to rubber ducks, Your Majesty,” Athena replied. Again, she was not lying to him. She was not kissing up to him out of fear of the consequences but she was phrasing her responses in such a polite but not meek way.

Lucifer gave a dramatic gasp, acting as if he had just heard blasphemy. He started to snicker, unable to keep up the regal façade as he felt himself having fun. “What? You don’t pay attention to what’s essentially the cutest thing in existence? A dastardly sin, truly.”

“Well, that would certainly explain why I am in Hell then, sire,” the owl matched his energy with ease. “It was truly my folly for not adhering to the Eleventh Commandment: Thou Shalt Pay Heed to the Rubber Duckies.”

Lucifer practically howled with laughter as he slammed his elbow onto the railing next to her. He could see the bird flapping her wings in slight surprise at his sudden close proximity, but he didn’t comment on it. “You said that… in such a f*ckin’ holier-than-thou voice…!” The Devil was cackling and wheezing in between his breathless words. “Rubber duckies!” His chest was heaving and his cheeks were starting to ache with how much he was laughing. He didn’t realize until now just how jittery he was during the entire interaction with this weird little bird, but letting himself laugh so freely felt like a breath of fresh air after years of inhaling poison.

“Holy sh*t,” Lucifer finally caught his breath and pushed himself off of the railing to look at the owl, who was still sitting innocently on the stone under his elbow. She wasn’t laughing at him, but she wasn’t laughing at all, either. He did see a hint of a smirk creep onto her face as she watched the King mime wiping a tear from his eyes. “How could you possibly forget the most important of the Commandments? Silly Goose.” The owl snorted with amusem*nt, and Lucifer took note of that sound. It held genuine enjoyment; she was thoroughly interested in the conversation. And apparently she liked puns. “I have seen so many demons who are full of sin, destruction and evil. But you, you are different, you are… unique.”

Athena tilted her head, digesting his words carefully. He seemed to have some sort of preconceived idea as to what sort of person she was because she was a Sinner. However, the owl couldn’t say that she entirely blamed him. Many demons, both Sinner and Hellborn were vile creatures at worst and sad, suffering souls at best. But it seemed that this expectation was very instilled in him, as he called her an outlier in the status quo. Athena knew she was a creature of evil, so she assumed Lucifer was referring to her behavior as unusual. And he was enjoying her company because of it.

“Forgive me, sire, but you seem almost… disappointed in the idea of the subjects of your kingdom indulging in such evil and sin,” Athena cautiously approached the topic. She was intrigued by the King; she wanted to study him. He was not at all what she was expecting.

Lucifer’s expression turned somber, and the owl realized that the darkness haunting his snake-like eyes had been lifting over the course of their interaction. But then when she reminded him about the state of his kingdom, then those shadows returned like they had never even left.

“I find it… tiresome,” the King replied with a much softer voice. “So many sinners simply wallow in their own self-pity and destruction, when they could be doing something and becoming so much more if they tried to do something with their potential. Instead, they just ruin it for themselves.” He let out a sigh and leaned onto the railing, crossing his arms on the stone and looking over the balcony at the chaos and death running rampant in his kingdom. “You’re a welcome change of pace.”

Chapter 62: Chapter 62

Chapter Text

Athena turned her body around to stand next to him as he gazed down at the screams of agony and roars of fury as the fires of eternal damnation erupted from several buildings across the city. The sky was as red as blood itself, jagged rocks rose up from the ground bordering the sloppily built structures that housed businesses which specialized in capitalizing off of the pain and misery of this realm, caging the city in rocky spires that dared to reach for the golden and glowing planet hovering just out of reach. Paradise and salvation was far above them, taunting the denizens of Hell by dancing forever distant from them.

The owl tilted her head at the Devil as he looked upon his kingdom with weariness and regret. She expected the King of Hell to be an evil tyrant proud of the chaos in his domain, but the man in front of her looked so very shattered. It was easy to forget that Lucifer was once an archangel before he was cast out. She knew that he had his own expectations for how he thought she was going to be, and they were broken easily. So Athena knew she should not have her own expectations of him.

“This realm is not always such a miserable place,” she carefully said. “I’ve come to accept it as my life over the decades. Hell is my home, and it… it’s much more of a home to me than Earth ever was.”

Lucifer was taken aback by her words slightly, but it didn’t show on his face for the most part. He glanced at her as she surveyed the city below her. “So you actually… see Hell as a peaceful place? How? How could you… feel that way about this… sh*thole…”

Athena chuckled under her breath, “I never called this place peaceful. There is carnage, addiction, and sexual depravity around every corner. That’s what you see if you only pay attention to what’s directly in front of you. But there is beauty in this chaos if you can control it. Sounds can become symphonies with the right guidance.”

The devil glanced at her with a mix of confusion and curiosity. “Chaos is… something that brings pain and terror, not beauty or anything else positive. How… How is there beauty in this? Why is Hell worth suffering?”

But his words did not seem to be his own. He was just repeating what had been said to him, and over the centuries of him ruling over Hell only reinforced the idea that chaos was inherently evil. It made the gears in Athena’s head start turning as she pried for more information. She didn’t think she could explain her lust for power and control, so she tried a different approach. “I would have thought that you of all souls would see the beauty of chaos. According to legend, you gifted free will to Eve in the Garden of Eden, did you not? You did so knowing it would break the order maintained by the other archangels. Chaos, the ultimate antithesis to order. Or did you not think giving humanity free will would not result in the possibility that some would choose evil?”

Lucifer was taken aback once again at the blatant confrontation, and the owl could see his hands clench around the sleeves of his coat. “I… I knew the consequences, I knew they would make mistakes, but I gave them that freedom anyway. But I thought that my gift would set them free from the angel’s petty rules, not make them fall further into the abyss…”

There it was. That was what Athena had been fishing for. She had heard the tale Charlie had kept about the creation of Earth and Hell. She knew that Lucifer was just as much of a creator as the other angels. But he went against Heaven’s wishes and was punished for it, just like every other damned soul in this realm.Every Sinner in Hell was here because they broke the angel’s rules, and every Sinner here (at least from Lucifer’s point of view) was a nasty and vile creature of evil and destruction. It only reinforced the idea in the King’s mind that the divine laws were the ultimate right because every soul who broke them were horrible people.

“You expected too much from them, didn’t you?” The owl asked softly. She purposefully alienated herself from the other Sinners with her speech because she knew Lucifer did not like them, or at least, he did not like what they had done. He felt that they had squandered the gift he had given them, and they only reinforced his insecurities about himself and the so-called kingdom he had been sentenced to rule over by his former peers.

“... Yes, yes I did,” Lucifer lamented. “I thought that they would use this gift wisely and do what was right. But I was wrong, wasn’t I? Humanity used free will to do horrible things.” The Devil was not used to these conversations. He could not bear to wear his heart on his sleeve with anyone. His wife was busy running his kingdom for him, and it was always going to be a very heavy chip on his shoulder. She fell in love with him for his creativity and ambition, but ever since their Fall, he was a shell of his former self, and he couldn’t help but feel that Lilith resented him for it. She was in paradise before he came along, and now he couldn’t even be the man she gave up everything to be with.

And his daughter… he could never vent about this to her. Lucifer already felt so very guilty about how he had acted throughout the entirety of her life. He was barely there for her as he was lost in his own sorrow and shame, and now they only ever spoke or even saw each other if they needed a favor. It pained him more than his banishment to see his little girl grow up without him and grow apart from him. It was his own fault, and now whenever he thought about her, he felt the overwhelming urge to close himself off from the fire and brimstone he created because he didn’t want to do anything else to hurt his family. He had already ruined their lives enough.

“People have done great evil with their free will, but others used that opportunity to do great good,” Athena replied. “Surely you see beauty in that?”

“I don’t doubt that people have done great good,” Lucifer sighed tiredly. “But the good does not outweigh the bad. It does not take away from all the suffering they have caused each other. How can you see beauty despite it all?”

Athena could see where Charlie had gotten her bleeding heart from. But the difference between her and her father is that Lucifer had gone through overwhelming trauma that damaged him so severely and so irreversibly. There was resignation but also a hint of desperation in his eyes as he looked at her. Lucifer wanted to know how she thought his cursed kingdom was considered home to her. He was still holding onto hope, but he was not overly optimistic.

Athena saw two potential options to where she can take this conversation. The King of Hell, the Devil himself, was undoubtedly the most powerful being in this realm. As of right now, he is but a shell of a man, weighed down by regret and sorrow because of his past choices and the consequences that followed. He was completely out of touch with his kingdom, so she didn’t have to worry about him standing in the way of her plans.

However, if the Devil were to figure out what Athena was pulling his beloved daughter into her schemes, then it would be a huge danger. The owl could help pull Lucifer out of his own darkness and build trust with him to scheme behind his back and not have to look over her shoulder and fear the day the King came down from his castle and dealt with her chaos personally. But if she helped Lucifer become more involved with his kingdom, then would he finally stand against Athena and her plans? Was this a risk she was willing to take?

Chapter 63: Chapter 63

Chapter Text

Athena had to first ask herself why he was being so open with her. From what she had gathered, the King did not trust or even like the demons in his realm, so to see him drop his guard so suddenly and with little pushing spoke volumes regarding his loneliness. Was it the stress of being alone all these years that was lowering his defenses, or was he too tired to care anymore? Either way, she was able to pick up on clues from his body language, his speech, and the tales she knew about him from both Charlie and other demons in Hell to know just what buttons to push to get him to talk. And the more she got him to talk, the more she was able to analyze him as a king and as an individual.

The owl could tell that the man was lonely, and he craved some sort of recognition or validation in an attempt to heal his broken sense of self-worth. Athena was not one for pep talks; she was a firm believer in survival of the fittest. If one was too weak to stand on their own, then they didn’t deserve to stand at all. But she could offer answers to Lucifer the same way she had with Charlie under the guise of altruistic help.

But she had no intention of helping for the sake of helping. Athena’s ultimate goal was to deceive him, manipulate his fears to such an extent that the King would start to want her company, start to appreciate her presence, start to ask her opinion. She would benefit greatly if she could take advantage of his intense desire for intimacy and approval.

“I can control the chaos around me,” Athena mused aloud as she finally came to a decision. “It is as I said before, sounds can become symphonies with the right guidance. However, I am but a simple Sinner. If I can control one corner of the city, then imagine what sort of music you, the King of Hell, can create.”

Lucifer recognized a challenge when he heard it. But he was finding it difficult to get the words out. He knew he should be doing his duties as King, at least for his wife’s sake. She cared for this kingdom, and he wasn’t doing anything to help and support her. A sigh escaped him as he was finally able to get his thoughts in order, “There will… always be demons who want to make chaos, demons who want to hurt others, demons who want to ruin things. How can I do anything to prevent them from doing that? It’s who they are, it’s just their nature…”

Athena felt her tail feathers flick; she could tell the King was scrambling to find excuses as to why he hadn’t done anything to rectify it if it had been obviously troubling him for so many years. But the owl knew he didn’t have faith in Sinners, not like his daughter. He was a different man than the one who had offered Eve the Fruit of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. That man was a rebellious archangel with ambition and whimsical dreams; this man was a tired and lonely soul who felt like he was trapped in a world of his own making.

“Why not take after your wife, Queen Lilith? She does not force her subjects to obey, but she does inspire and empower them while she makes this realm a tolerable existence.”

“Lilith…” Lucifer brought his hand up and fiddled with the golden wedding ring wrapped around his finger. “Yes, she has always been the one doing that, hasn’t she? But the problem with following her lead is… I’m not her. The demons respect her more than they would ever respect me. People might follow her method, but that doesn’t mean it will work the same for me.”

Athena blinked slowly and considered his words. It was alien to see a man called the embodiment of pride itself be so ashamed and have such low self-esteem, and she immediately became suspicious of the story Charlie has told her about the history of Hell. It was something to be explored later, but she had something else to focus on right now.

“... You do enjoy a good circus performance, yes?”

Lucifer froze for a moment. That question was… oddly specific yet accurate. He noticed that this strange little owl had an annoying habit of reading him like a book. It was slightly unnerving, but he wasn’t afraid of a Sinner who wasn’t even the size of his hat. “Yes? I do, but what does that have to do with anything?”

Athena swept her glowing green gaze over the Devil’s circus attire, and Lucifer just realized that this bird was just noticing the obvious. “Heaven is orderly, safe, so very utterly boring. Hell is chaotic, destructive, and it can be orchestrated. Your kingdom has the potential to be a show, a spectacle, a great circus show. It just needs a ringleader.”

Lucifer’s eyes widened when he realized what she was trying to say, “Wait, you’re not joking, are you? You seriously mean to tell me that you want me to turn Hell into the ultimate circus show?”

He had tried something similar centuries ago with the other Sins. He wasn’t in frequent contact with them anymore, but he heard Asmodeus and Beelzebub had moved away from the circus motif and had started building their own brand. That entire performance had been a disaster. Lucifer had been fascinated with the idea of a circus ever since he saw demons crafting their own in his realm. Sinners have been bringing inventions from their lives on Earth into Hell for millennia, and the circus had been the first thing Lucifer became especially fixated on.

The entirety of it was a pure spectacle. He got to see merriment and laughter for the first time since he had been cast out of Heaven, and he wanted to replicate that. It had given him hope for his kingdom for the first time since he saw such unbridled joy under the strange red and white tents.

But once Lucifer launched his own circus, it became immediately apparent to him that the cheer in the circus was not innocent. The audience was laughing at the performers, and this laughter was born from sad*stic glee. Cruel Overlords would force unfortunate Sinners to perform demeaning tricks for the entertainment of any demon who could pay to see it. And these tricks were often meant to humiliate the ones who would have to do them.

It absolutely disgusted Lucifer, and his faith in his realm fell ever deeper into the unforgiving abyss. Lilith had told him doing a circus in Hell was a terrible idea, but the King went forward with that plan anyway. He had such high hopes that this would finally start to turn things around for him and his people. He had hoped that they would become inspired by him just like they had been inspired by his wife, and maybe he could have curbed their persistence for evil and destruction by giving them some jubilance and unity in the form of his favorite form of entertainment.

But Lilith was right, and she did not hide that from Lucifer in the slightest. The Queen had held that over his head for years while he retreated further into his workshop, hiding from the kingdom the same way he had hidden from the world when he had first Fallen from the golden gates. And Lilith continued on ruling the realm with her songs, reminding Lucifer just how inferior he was to her. He had dared to dream again, but just like Heaven, Hell had crushed them mercilessly, and Lucifer was left to pick up the pieces.

Chapter 64: Chapter 64

Chapter Text

Lucifer tapped the apple on his cane with black claws as he watched the misery run rampant in his kingdom. He wanted to change it, but he didn’t know how. And it felt like whenever he did try, it would end in failure and humiliation on his part just like what happened in Eden. He wanted to dream, but he felt like he couldn’t anymore. And there were some days where he questioned whether or not he was even a dreamer at all.

He glanced at the strange little bird sitting next to his elbow that was leaning on the railing of the balcony. She was a very interesting creature, and he wasn’t sure what to make of her just yet. Lucifer recognized a schemer when he saw it. The owl had little to no power and would find power in strategy and intelligence whereas Lucifer was a being of angelic might and used that magic to create bizarre yet beautiful construction with his imagination and creativity.

The King didn’t know what Athena was planning when she told him about this. It was obvious to Lucifer that she found pleasure in dominance and control. She was a demon, and her remarks and approach to his plight easily revealed as such. Demons only sought pleasure but not happiness. Happiness is something one has to fight for, work for, strive to achieve. Quick and easily attainable satisfaction is pleasure, and it was all demons have ever pursued.

Lucifer was not intimidated by her, but there was an unexplainable and unsettling aura about her. It was something alien and wrong, but he just couldn’t describe the sensation. The King was able to sense the power of demons around him. Hellborn were noticeably weak and had no such oppressing presence, but Lucifer could still pick up on the physical strength and killing intent of an imp or another native to Hell. Sinners possessed souls, and those souls were able to gain power over time, most likely through age. The Devil was admittedly cut off from the rest of his kingdom, so he didn’t know how souls get stronger. Perhaps every time a Sinner survives an Extermination, their power grows? A thought for later.

But Athena was foreign to him. Lucifer could feel the presence of a soul, but this soul was so weak, he could’ve sworn he was sensing the weakest imp he has ever seen. She was a Sinner, but what sort of Sinner was brought into his realm without any sort of power of their own?

Athena was a schemer, that much he knew. But from his current perspective, it was not an entirely bad thing. The owl had no power whatsoever and was forced to live in the most brutal existence possible. That would make anyone become lean and hungry in the fight for survival. However, Lucifer did not miss the part where she said that she enjoys the feeling of control. He was aware that she was a Sinner; she was in Hell for a reason. He did not have the power to see a Sinner’s sins from their life on earth unless he was actively punishing them. He had no reason to use that power on Athena, at least for right now.

“Why would I joke about this?” The little bird asked innocently. She either didn’t know what happened the first time Lucifer tried to recreate a circus in Hell or her ulterior motive for trying to motivate the King was just to watch him make a fool of himself and his colleagues again.

“Well it…” Lucifer couldn’t quite grasp the words at first. He had to admit he was far too dumbfounded about such a suggestion. “I just didn’t expect something like this. I mean… who would be interested in seeing Hell made into a circus show? Wouldn't that just be… silly?” He was parroting the words Lilith had said to him when he first proposed the idea. And sure enough, she was right. Sinners and Hellborn alike began to see him as a joke instead of a King.

“Silly in which way, sire?” Athena hooted, and Lucifer had to force himself not to get annoyed. How was she not understanding turning eternal damnation into a place of laughter and joy was a laughable idea at best and a horrible decision at worst?

“Well, the idea of making Hell like a circus just sounds a bit… childish,” the King straightened his back and finally stopped leaning on the railing. He noticed that in situations such as these, he would get rather fidgety.

Their conversation was heavy with grief and sorrow before, and when those rotten reminders came back to Lucifer, he would just be too physically and emotionally drained to move. Each and every memory was a heavy link on a chain that would keep him bound to his bed in the mornings or bound to his workshop in the day. They kept him there like a prisoner in his own body, never allowing him to leave to guide his kingdom or see his daughter, and each instance of neglect on his end only made that damned chain grow ever stronger.

But now, he was uncomfortable. He was being confronted with a possible solution to the root of his problems, but it was absolutely outrageous and ridiculous. He didn’t think it would work; it didn’t work the first time. But Athena looked so sure of herself. Her confidence and ambition was palpable, and Lucifer felt himself clinging to that little spark of wanting to be something greater.

Lucifer felt his fingers fidget with his staff, slide across the stone of the railing, and he shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He wanted to move, he wanted to fly, he wanted to be creative again, but he didn’t know how to anymore. Or maybe he thought he didn’t deserve to be creative anymore. His stunt in the Garden of Eden doomed humanity, so perhaps he was always destined to spend the rest of eternity wallowing in his guilt and self-pity.

“Oh, I do apologize, sire,” Athena waved a wing in a very human motion, almost as if she was used to having a hand instead of a wing. If she was new to Hell and not used to her avian form, then Lucifer supposed that made sense. “I do not mean a literal circus. I mean you would run your kingdom the same way a ringleader would run a circus. The parts of an act in such a show are chaotic and noisy in nature, is it not? Deadly beasts are controlled by animal tamers, dangerous flames are controlled by fire eaters, there is so much more.”

Lucifer’s brows shot up. Now he was finally putting the pieces together. The analogy Athena had given was a confusing one at first, but when she explained that he would metaphorically turn Hell into a circus rather than literally. He could take what he loved about the show and apply it to his kingdom while leaving out the disgusting degradation and dehumanizing aspects of it. He could have his realm run like a circus, one which is full of chaotic acts that require control and discipline. Rules would have to be put in place to keep the Sinners, the animals of a circus, the beasts of Hell in check like how a beast tamer would control his animals.

The Devil straightened his bow tie and turned to the owl, who was still sitting on the balcony railing. “It is definitely an intriguing idea. I will… consider your idea, Goose.”

Athena snorted at the nickname again, and Lucifer smirked despite himself. The owl was good company. She pushed her body up by straightening her legs and gave a theatrical bow. “That is all I can ask, sire. I usually fly by this balcony every Tuesday and Friday around this time. It is how I met your daughter. A rather charming young lady. I would not be opposed to conversing with you again, Your Majesty.”

“And I you, Goose,” Lucifer tipped his hat with a smirk and watched the strange owl take off from the balcony.

Chapter 65: Chapter 65

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Athena finally regained control of her hammering heart as she leaned back against a skyscraper in the south side of the Pentagram. She encountered Lucifer sooner than she had expected and quite frankly, she was considering herself lucky to be alive. She didn’t know what he was capable of, so she could only imagine the worst case scenario would have happened on that balcony had she not managed to finesse her way out of trouble again.

She was still feeling quite jittery when she finally regained her composure enough to start flying again. Athena wanted nothing more than to go home and let her nerves calm, but she still had other things to do today. The talk with Lucifer took longer than she originally planned, and it was possible she was going to have to go home anyway so she could rewrite her strategy. Truth be told, she was secretly hoping her plans would cancel so she could head back to her apartment and rest for the remainder of the day.

But unfortunately for her, she could hear the daily excited roars and pained screams coming from the abandoned subway station as she perched on the lamppost sitting above the staircase heading to the underground of the city. She hopped down onto the railing of the entrance warily. Being close to the ground in this form was always a risk, especially if Alastor was not present, but this confrontation was long overdue. The Overlord who ran this headquarters was quickly encroaching on her territory, and that was unacceptable.

Athena carefully soared down the stairs and quickly perched on a hanging light on the ceiling. This Overlord was a weapons dealer specializing in angelic steel, so caution was essential. Well, that was not the most accurate description of what this demon does for a living. He got his hands on holy metal so he could have demons use them in caged matches. He and his business partners owned souls that would be forced to fight to the literal death for the amusem*nt of the crowd, and bets would be placed on the gladiators in the ring.

This Overlord was the first of many to fall by her talons to ensure Carmilla’s position as the top weapons dealer in Hell. And Athena was not keen on handing over her own stash of angelic blades to the young Sinner so taking the stock of the demons she slays will be the next best option. Athena had a pla in place; she just had to execute it. Hours ago, before she flew to the Morningstar Castle, she sealed the entrances to the entirety of the hideout so that nothing could get in or out, not even air. The staircase she had just flown down was the only open exit. That was already a huge health hazard, and Athena was going to exploit the reason why.

As the owl hopped from hanging light to hanging light in the abandoned subway station, she planted little capsules to the bulbs. After Athena placed each and every case on the lights, she perched on a ledge in the back of the station to monitor the area. The overlord she was targeted was at an isolated table playing poker with his associates as the Sinner souls they owned were being forced to fight to the death.

But finally, coughing began to erupt from the crowd.

The capsules Athena had put on the bulbs were thin plastic, and the heat from the lights were melting the flimsy material every second. But the fun part was what was inside. When capsaicin is heated enough, it becomes airborne, and it was the chemical responsible for making peppers spicy. Exposing capsaicin to your taste buds was already destructive enough because of its stinging punch, but airborne capsaicin can wreak havoc in your entire body. Skin irritation, difficulty breathing, temporary blindness, and nausea were common consequences of being exposed to the chemical.

Sinners would struggle to find the exits, but Athena had sealed them off before planting the capsules. Screams of pain and panic erupted from the crows as demons pushed each other, climbed over each other, and trampled each other to escape the deathtrap the owl had set up. And in that chaos, the Overlord Athena had targeted was trapped in the back of the subway station. His friends and guards had abandoned him for their own safety, and the owl was able to swoop in for a quick and easy kill.

She was able to pick off a few random unsuspecting Sinners who were unfortunate enough to be near her to make this incident seem as horrific as possible. This place was full of holy steel, so no demon would care too much for sudden Sinner deaths happening in the abandoned hideout. The majority of these demons were mammal based, and they were highly affected by capsaicin, but birds and reptiles like Athena were immune to it.

The owl had found this out when she tried Alastor’s jambalaya for the first time. She was confused as to why she wasn't feeling any fire even after the deer told her that it had a nasty kick to it. And when she realized it was because she couldn’t taste spicy foods anymore, Athena was dismayed. Alastor, however, took it as a challenge, and he was determined to make a dish of his mother’s jambalaya that the owl actually could taste. He was obviously very proud of his mother’s recipe and wanted Athena to try it so she could inevitably compliment it.

Athena felt herself smiling softly as she leaned back against the wall of the ledge she was currently perched on. The terrified screams and cries of demons fighting to escape were still ringing heavily in the air, but the owl couldn’t bring herself to care anymore. Her mind was too preoccupied with other things.

As Athena watched the chaos finally start to settle as the Sinners still alive scurried out of the hideout, the owl could only hope that the bond they shared would still be present for many years to come. Her ambition was growing in magnitude and scale, and she hoped the people who were close to her had a part to play because she did not want to get rid of them.

Notes:

athena hasn't been a menace in a while so she's making up for lost time by engaging in chemical warfare lmao

Chapter 66: Chapter 66

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Alastor woke up feeling strangely cold. He rubbed his arms and swallowed thickly as his palms ran over the still-healing tears in his skin and his flesh. The blanket sitting on his shoulders slid off as he sat up gingerly. The deer groaned and let his eyes adjust to the darkness as he rubbed his head tiredly. This was unusual, especially for him. He was having difficulties waking up.

He did not sleep very often; he would spend his nights reading or drawing in the living room while soft music played in the background. But on the rare nights when he does sleep, he would pass out instantly and then wake up instantly. There was no grogginess, no drowsiness, and no longing to go back to the pleasant dark abyss. Alastor rubbed his eyes, almost nicking the delicate skin with his uncoordinated claws.

It took a few moments for the memories of the previous night to finally dig its way to the forefront of his mind, but when they finally did, he fell back onto the backboard of the bed with a shaky sigh. He ran his hands down his neck, his shoulders, his arms, down his chest, palms dancing over the marks of wounds inflicted onto him by his owner’s claws, her teeth, her chains. His scarlet eyes adjusted to the darkness rather quickly, and he scanned the room for Athena.

She was not in the bed, she was not in the room, was she in the kitchen area? She had to be, she wouldn’t just leave him after something so intense and intimate the previous night. The deer rubbed his abdomen where his owner had torn into his skin and pulled out his organs to feast on them in punishment for slighting her. He felt his skin crawl uncomfortably as he pulled his knees to his chest. Athena wasn’t here, and that realization hurt him more than he wanted to admit.

The corner of Alastor’s mouth twitched as he remembered the glowing green gaze that had been into his head. “Punishment” his owner had said. Punishment in the form of devouring his flesh and his organs whenever the cannibalistic craving came to her. Her words told one story, but her clear enjoyment of their games and her current body language spun a completely different tale. He could read her like a book and she could read him. He knew she loved these schemes, she loved outsmarting him and she loved it when he outsmarted her. And he felt the same.

The deer knew he had feelings for his owner, and he knew she had feelings for him. But they weren’t sexual, they weren’t romantic, they weren’t professional. He didn’t know what this was, but what he did know was that this was not normal. Normal people call love a moment of pure joy, a memory to truly cherish for years and years to come, but this was sad*stic and twisted. He was a monster bound in chains stained red with his blood, panting and whining as his tail wagged excitedly at the very idea of the demon who owned his soul to feast on his flesh for each and every one of her meals.

This was not normal, and him not feeling any sort of romantic attraction to the only soul worthy of his love was not normal either. But he couldn’t find it within himself to care anymore. Alastor didn’t know what he had with his cherished owl, and he only could assume that the reason he didn’t love her was because he couldn’t. He was a monster, a killer, a psychopath. He was a demon long before he came to Hell, and demons don’t feel love. The only thing he could feel now was satisfaction. Satisfaction from seeing his plans come together, satisfaction from seeing how much he had influenced the one holding his soul.

Athena told him that she brought Angel Dust into their territory, their home so she could use him to spy on Valentino. But why couldn’t she have bought him an apartment far away from the Vee’s? She had the money, he knew she did. Alastor was fine with Niffty being here because she did not ruin their routine, and she had her uses in the building. She cleaned, she kept them company, and she was quite entertaining. Quite an innocent and interesting little demon. But this new character, Angel Dust, the p*rn star, the prostitute, the favorite whor* of his and his owl’s rival company was now in his home because his partner invited him in. She must have an ulterior motive for doing so; she always does. It was why he adored her so.

More of what Athena had said came back to him. She wanted to use his flesh as a meal whenever the urge to feast took over. She wanted to use him as food, not for romantic or sexual gratification. Was that the real reason why she brought in Angel Dust? Under the guise of having him work for her as a reconnaissance agent, she could use the money saved from buying him housing elsewhere to instead pay for his “services”.

The owl had been disgusted with him when he had kissed her in the radio tower. Alastor was intent on expressing his love to the woman he thought was right for him, and he thought he was right for her. It was meant to be a gesture of romance, but it instead became a sour memory in both of their minds. Quite frankly, he felt lucky that Athena did not hold that brainless mistake against him.

But last night, they had kissed. Or more accurately, it was a bastardized version of a kiss where Athena could only tolerate his lips on hers when she was quite literally devouring his tongue, his flesh. He was only adequate to her as a meal and not as a romantic partner. That must be why Angel Dust was here. She wanted him to fulfill the needs that Alastor was not capable of giving. But if he was capable, then that whor* would be thrown back onto the street where he belonged and Athena would turn to her beloved pet deer and ń̷̗̎͠o̴̧̰̺̿͠ ̸̹̤̉̈̔o̶̫̐̓n̵̼̞̈́͒è̵̗̳͝ ̷̫̜̓ĕ̵̖͙̦ḻ̷̢͈̈s̴͇͐̆ḙ̸͈̳̾̍.

Alastor winced, flinching back minutely as a damned idea crept into his head. His crimson eyes wandered down his bare chest. His pants were noticeably tighter, but whenever he would try to relieve it, Alastor would become too disgusted to keep going. His usual reaction to this situation was to wait it out, but now was as good an opportunity as any to try again. He had not tried this since his pubescent years, but that one attempt had ended in repulsion. He thought he needed more time, maybe his body was maturing slower than his peers. He thought he needed to find the right woman, maybe he just couldn’t do it unless he had a certain person in mind.

And he tried. He truly tried. He undid the buckle around his pants and slid his hand down, face red with utter humiliation. The nasty squelch in his ears, the sensation of what he could only describe as slime sliding under his palm, the odd texture of the thing between his fingers, he just couldn’t do it.

The deer pulled his hand away, shivering with repugnance as he wiped it on the dark red sheets under him with a grimace. His jaw clenched, and he swallowed heavily, pressing his face into the palm of his other hand, claws digging into his scalp. His ears pinned back against his skull as blood ran from the punctures of his skin under the force of his talons. He felt the red dribble down his face like tears as he cursed his own shortcomings.

Alastor. Was. Disgusted.

He was revolted, repulsed, sickened, outraged, mad. He was ANGRY. The radio in his room whirred as his rage spiked dangerously. Red, hot, searing, destructive rage erupted from his chest like an active volcano, ever so slowly creeping through his body and searing his nerves with anger like lava consuming an island. He put his hands to his head and clenched his fangs, barely noticing how he had the disgusting palm in his hair, but once he did, it only fueled the fire. He was inadequate, and he hated it.

Alastor screamed in frustration and sorrow.

Notes:

yum. aroace angst

Chapter 67: Chapter 67

Chapter Text

Alastor managed to drag himself to the kitchen area after a few minutes of sitting in his bed. He wanted to stay there for hours or maybe even days, but his radio broadcast was going to start soon. He had hoped that Athena was going to do it without him, but Niffty had told him that the owl left to run a quick errand. And Alastor then realized just how sluggish his mind still was. He knew that she had this unknown task every Tuesday and Friday, but it took the ladybug telling him for him to remember.

As the drowsy deer watched the little Sinner skitter about the living room, he thought back to how their relationship got to where it was. Niffty had appeared in the radio tower suddenly one day, and she had the gall to interrupt his and his owner’s morning broadcast. The fresh smell on her immediately told Alastor that she had died not even an hour ago, and she had beelined it to the tower as soon as she landed in Hell. She was a curious creature, and once he had told Athena that he wanted to keep her around, the owl struck a deal with the ladybug just so she and Alastor could be closer together.

Alastor hummed and ran his hands down his neck and his shoulders and his abdomen as he thought about his owner again. She was not always so cruel and manipulative; the deer took great pride in knowing he had twisted her into something evil and monstrous. But even back then, she had a soft spot for him, and it wasn’t just because he was her safety net back then. She could have dismissed Niffty or ordered Alastor to kill her because after all, the ladybug had seen the owl’s true form. If word had gotten out that the first Radio Demon was a defenseless bird, she would be a sitting duck.

Neither of them knew if a soul owned by another could own souls of their own, but Alastor was worried that if he tried and failed, then it would reveal that the deer was on a leash. And then Alastor would have to kill Niffty to make sure that information wouldn't have gotten out. He found the little Sinner too entertaining to do that, but then Athena stepped up. She made a deal with Niffty for Alastor’s sake. She did it for him.

Alastor was brought back to reality when his scarlet eyes caught sight of Niffty laying on her stomach on the coffee table, staring at him with a devious grin, her elbows propped up with one finger twirling her hair. She giggled and started kicking her feet. Her tone was all-too eager for information, acting like a school girl digging for juicy gossip, “Oooo~ I know that look. Eeheeheehee, whatcha thinkin’ about?”

“Oh, never mind that, deary,” Alastor waved her off as he stood on shaking legs. “You’ve done a marvelous job, as always. I see nothing out of place in my humble abode.”

Niffty jumped up excitedly and climbed up the lanky frame of the deer like a squirrel racing up a tree. “Thank you, sir!” She chirped before he put her on the ground for her to skitter away. She was a very interesting demon, and Alastor was glad to technically be her colleague. The deer and the ladybug have always appeared to be very close friends, but he knew it wasn’t always that way. He found her entertaining once he saw her shenanigans first hand, but that amusem*nt turned to fondness rather quickly, and their bond strengthened after an incident in the apartment complex a few weeks after Niffty moved in.

Athena was unable to taste the spice in spicy foods, so her reaction to his mother’s jambalaya had been underwhelming and disappointing. Alastor had once experimented with wasabi to copy the kick of hot spices with its pungent flavor. Niffty had thrown a fit when he did that. It was the first time Athena had ever seen the deer and the ladybug actually throw insults at each other. Niffty had reverted back to her Japanese tongue halfway through the argument and it ended with Alastor essentially yelling at her to go to her room like a stern father.

Niffty then promptly slammed the door shut after she skittered into her apartment, and Athena honestly thought she was going to have to physically step in when the deer blew up at that. She didn’t see Alastor truly angry that often, but when she did, it was always a sight to behold. He was ranting to Athena about how he felt disrespected in his own house but then had to let out a bloodcurdling scream as his face twisted with horror. His creepy smile never dropped, but the owl saw genuine sorrow and a haunted look in his crimson eyes.

Athena then heard muffled howling on the other side of the door of Niffty’s apartment, and she found out later that the ladybug was screaming into her pillow in frustration. But Alastor appeared to be on the verge of a mental breakdown, so the owl promptly turned her attention to him instead of Niffty. She needed time to cool down, anyway. It took a bit of coaxing, but the deer later revealed that he had accidentally echoed what his father used to say when he was angry.

Alastor never talked much about his father, but from what Athena could piece together, he was not a very pleasant man. But the deer had so many good things to say about his mother and would never shy away from expressing just how much of a caring and wonderful woman she was. It was why he was so eager to replicate her famous jambalaya. Athena didn’t pry for details that day, and while that incident is a sour memory in their minds, but after an apology on both ends, it was put behind them, and the deer and ladybug have been near inseparable ever since.

He and Niffty had a unique relationship. Alastor did not want to reveal this information to anyone, even Athena (but he bet that owl already knew this, she was a sharp demon), but the deer had been rather eager to take the role of father figure to the deranged little ladybug. His own father was an abusive asshole who would be cruel to his angel of a mother, and Alastor had found himself trying to be the father he always wanted.

He pushed those memories aside and pushed himself onto his feet. The deer felt frail, physically and mentally, and it was not a pleasant feeling. He wished his cane was longer so he could lean on it more as his legs still felt rather wobbly because his limbs had diverted their energy to fixing the missing organs and blood loss from the wound in his abdomen. But alas, the show must go on, and he was still not feeling well enough to use his shadow magic, so hobbling through the halls like a crippled old man would have to do. But unfortunately for Alastor, he had also forgotten about the new resident in the apartment complex.

“Ooh~ And the sub emerges from his cave~” Angel Dust snickered as his mismatched eyes turned to Alastor, and the deer had to resist the urge to immediately eat him. He had to remember that Athena had invited him into their home so the spider could spy on the Vee’s for them. “Ya’know, I’m surprised you can walk straight after all that excitement.”

Alastor managed to keep his ear from flicking, but his eyes did narrow. He did not feel mentally well enough to engage in banter with the spider, but he must keep up appearances. “Hm. Regardless of what you think happened yesterday, Athena and I have come to an agreement. You may reside here, but I must insist you keep your sexual innuendos to a minimum while under the roof of your so very gracious landlady. She made the decision of housing a proud harlot such as yourself while risking the eye of one of the most powerful Overlords in Hell, so at the very least, have the courtesy of at exercising some decency while in her building.”

Alastor made sure to keep his words (mostly pleasant), but his tone was very clearly spiteful and dangerous. Angel Dust needed to understand as soon as possible that the Radio Demon also lived under this roof, and he was not going to tolerate any sort of disrespect towards him, his owner, and not even Niffty. This prostitute obviously did not know who Alastor was, and to the deer, it was worse than any insult Vox had ever thrown his way. Alastor’s very presence demanded respect and demanded fear, so to see any Sinner show such blatant nonchalance to his existence was a wound to his pride.

Chapter 68: Chapter 68

Chapter Text

Athena flew back into the apartment to see Angel Dust gone and Niffty sitting in the lounge area. The spider most likely left for Vee’s Tower so he could pack his belongings. Valentino usually was not active until late noon to early evening, so if Angel were to go collect his essentials, it better be now rather than later. And as for the ladybug, she was laying on her stomach and giggling to herself as she scribbled down line after line of writing on a stack of papers on the coffee table underneath her stomach.

The owl flicked her tail feathers as she soared from the window to the table the ladybug was sitting on. Niffty giggled again when she saw the flurry of black feathers in front of her. “Oh, hey! You’re that funny black bird that hangs out with Alastor! Ehehehe I haven’t seen you in a while!”

“Niffty, it’s me, Athena,” the owl folded her wings and waited for the ladybug to react. She never told the little Sinner about her true identity because back when she and Niffty first met, Athena was just an owl that is commonly seen with Alastor, but ever since the incident at the casino, Sinners have been talking and speculating about the bird’s true origins. And Athena never told Niffty because the ladybug could not keep a secret to save her soul. But now that the secret’s out, or it’s going to be soon, Athena had no objections with telling Niffty now.

Niffty gasped dramatically, expression starry-eyed as she looked at the owl in a new light. She wasn't exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, but Alastor was rather fond of her, and Athena had to admit that she was also becoming attached to the strange little demon. “Deary, what are you doing?” Athena waved a wing in the direction of the stacks of papers sitting in neat stacks on the coffee table.

The ladybug started to giggle in a deranged manner, and to Athena, that meant one of two possibilities. One: Niffty was plotting a scheme to murder every Sinner in the Pentagram in the most excruciating way possible, or two: Niffty was trying to write an overly complicated and unusually long love letter to some poor soul she deemed to be a bad boy. “Eeheeheehee… You finally invited another boy to live in the complex, so I got some material for my fanfiction! Alastor and Angel Dust got into a spat this morning.”

“... Excuse me?” Athena blinked slowly as she digested each word spoken by the hyperactive ladybug.

Niffty giggled again as she gathered up all of the papers, “I usually write in my room, but I wanted to be in the same place where they had an argument so I could be inspired! I’m gonna type this all up before going downtown to my publisher. Ehehehe… My readers will be all over this!”

“Niffty, please, rephrase something for me,” Athena hopped in front of her to stop her from skittering off to her apartment. The ladybug had a typewriter in her room and would frequently ask the owl for new ones because the ones she previously had “broke often”. Athena never questioned it much, and it did not even put as much as a dent in the owl’s wallet, so she paid it no mind. Whenever Niffty would hand her or Alastor a fried typewriter, they keys were broken and it looked to be because Niffty’s fingers were too quick for the machine to recognize her frantic typing.

“What exactly is this again?” The owl shrugged and gestured to the stack of paper in her hands as she stood on the floor. Niffty was a head taller than her, so she could get away with addressing her while standing on the floor instead of having to be on a table or a chair or something.

“I wrote something naughty, heeheehee… You wanna read it? It’ll give me an excuse to not have to pay my beta reader!” Niffty shoved the papers at Athena, who hooted and hopped away. “She doesn’t like gay smut as much as I do.”

But some phrases the ladybug was saying made the owl pause and think for a few moments. “Hold on a moment, you are writing “gay smut”? Is that a genre I am unfamiliar with?” She took a moment to think about those two words. They were not common words from her era, and they in no way belonged in the same sentence. Gay usually referred to feelings of joy, and smut was a term used to describe filth. Was it perhaps activities that were very fun but were dirty in nature?

“Oooo~ you don’t know what gay smut is?” The ladybug was almost vibrating in place. “You should read some, I bet you’ll like it!”

“I would much rather prefer to know more about a certain genre before purchasing a book in that category,” Athena narrowed her eyes. “I do not wish to ask again, Niffty, what is “gay smut”? It has a rather odd name.”

“Well~” Niffty twirled her hair with a devious expression, and the owl gave her an unamused look. “It’s very steamy stuff. Eeheeheehee! Two bad boys going at it in the sheets, and I get to describe it in graphic detail. They get all steamy and nasty with all the tasty kinks. Butt stuff, piss play, bondage-“

“I’ve heard enough,” Athena interrupted her rambling as she hooted indignantly and hopped away. She took a breath and eyed the ladybug. “Alright, Niffty. Have you cleaned the other floors yet?”

“No,” the ladybug answered easily.

”Then might I recommend you not continue your… work until your responsibilities in the complex are complete.”

“What?” Niffty whined, almost throwing the stack of papers she was holding to the ground in a fit of frustration.

“This is not negotiable,” Athena chastised her, and at the moment, she wished she was in her other form because being scolded by an owl was undoubtedly a very awkward situation. “I do not want you on your behind for hours on end. You have already done more than your fair share of that this morning. Give me your papers, and I will return them to you when your chores are done. Now go get something to eat, there are leftovers in your fridge.”

The ladybug blinked, seemingly surprised for a moment by the owl's response. She then perked up slightly when she was told she would be getting her papers back before dropping the stack of paper onto the coffee table she was just sitting on before skittering off to her apartment a few doors down. Athena let out an exasperated breath before eying the stack of papers on the table. Carrying the stack to her room was going to be a pain in her owl form, but it had to be done. Afterwards, she could leave the apartment and finish her errands.

Chapter 69: Chapter 69

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

As the last song faded to an end, Alastor tapped the microphone on his cane to turn it on. “And that was Verosika Mayday’s latest song, ‘Vacay to Bonetown’. Thank you for tuning into the show, and I’ll see you loyal listeners bright and earlier tomorrow!” The deer flicked the lights off in the studio as the broadcast ended for the day. As soon as the illuminated “On Air” sign dimmed, Alastor sighed and leaned back in his chair.

He was not a fan of pop music, not in the slightest, but the rising star succubus was quickly increasing the financial value of one of Husk’s casinos. That establishment was one of the largest and most popular casinos in the Pride Ring, and Alastor had even heard from a few Hellborn that the night club a few blocks away from that building was regularly inviting Mayday to perform. The succubus was drifting away from her role as a performer in the Gambling Overlord’s buildings, but the deer had to respect the audacity to use an Overlord as a springboard to her career.

Husk was technically Alastor’s coworker, and Athena had let the deer know that it was his job to support her empire. He did not mind it, but he did mind having to play these ridiculous songs on his broadcast, even if it was as scarce as once in a blue moon. Alastor had muted the pop song on his end and used his personal gramophone set that he had placed on the table next to Athena’s bookshelf to play a tune he actually enjoyed while he redirected his energy towards healing his wounds.

The tired deer eventually got up from his chair at the tower before heading down the apartment and out onto the street. Rosie had promised that she would offer some courting tips after his shift today. However, a sudden presence made itself known to Alastor very quickly. It was very obviously studying him.

A long and slender shadow detached itself from the dirty brick wall next to him as he walked down the street. Alastor felt his claws clench around the microphone around his cane as a chill ran down his spine. This was an eldritch and ancient presence was following him very closely, and it made his skin itch uncomfortably. Bright piercing eyes narrowed on the deer before the figure finally emerged from the darkness.

A tall and thin spider-like demon with dark gray skin and lime green eyes loomed over Alastor with an analyzing look. The deer kept his own expression carefully neutral as he assessed the being before him. If any other Sinner were to appear before Alastor in such a manner, the Radio Demon would tear them apart without hesitation. But this Sinner was different, he was powerful, he commanded much more respect.

Zestial, the oldest known Overlord in Hell.

Alastor forced himself to relax his body. He remembered reading about this Sinner back before even he himself was an Overlord. When he and Athena were hunting demons to fuel the deer’s rise to power, the owl insisted on leaving Zestail alone. Back when Alastor was a young and inexperienced Overlord, he was rather adamant on the idea of going after any and all demons who would stand in his way, but Athena was cautious. Back in his old mindset, Alastor had been infuriated that the owl was restricting his hunts, but now that his leash had been deliciously tightened, he saw Zestial as a true danger.

Any soul who could intimidate even his owner was undoubtedly a very powerful foe. However, it had been several decades since the spider Overlord became known on Athena’s radar; she should have a way to neutralize him. But because she did not give that information to the deer yet, he had to assume one of three possibilities: Zestial either had a part to play in her larger schemes, she did not see him as a threat, or she simply did not know of a way to effectively deal with him. However, the second option was very unlikely; Athena was nothing if not cautious. And the third option was downright impossible; his owner was the most intelligent, most capable demon in Hell.

“Hark, bold Sinner,” Zestial’s voice was an echo in a theater, it commanded respect and authority with its very presence, and the overwhelming aura of the oldest Overlord in Hell only heightened the paralyzing sensations of hearing his deep monotone reverberate in your ears. "How fare thee this day?"

Alastor managed to dial back the static glitching humming from his cane. He was in the presence of a soul so strong even his owner feared him. The deer did not know much regarding Zestial’s powers, his personality, or his priorities, so it was very possible even one word or one gesture out of line could result in his soul being torn apart. He could only rely on his silver tongue now. “Oh, I do not mean to be a bother. I was merely out on my morning stroll.”

The ancient Overlord’s smile curled up some, “Do not fret, young one. Thou art not a bother by any stretch of thine imagination. Quite the opposite, in fact. Thou art… Alastor, correct?”

Normally, it would please the deer to have his name be known, but in this scenario, it made him more uneasy. He was on Zestial’s radar, and he had no way of knowing just how much the old Sinner knew about him. Alastor’s treacherous mind spilled him with the memory of his owner overpowering him by exploiting a weakness he didn’t even know he had. He wished he could be close to her in this instance; he would love to see her stand against the strongest Overlord in Hell and take him down.

“Oh? You’ve heard of me?” Alastor pulled his mind away from Athena for a moment as he grinned toothily. “To know that such a powerful and feared Overlord knows even my name is truly an honor.”

Zestial didn’t miss a beat in the conversation, speaking smoothly as if his responses were already planned, “I have heard plenty ‘bout you, Alastor. Thou hast become quite a legend ‘round these parts. With thine prowess for battle, strategy, and wit, thou art indeed known as quite the formidable foe. It seems that I am not the first to have caught wind of your name.”

“It is truly humbling to hear that my reputation has reached even your ears, Zestial.”

Zestial chuckled at the easy reply. It appeared to Alastor that the spider Overlord was enjoying the conversation, and he had to keep it that way. As much as it pained the deer to admit, he was not the most powerful being in the area. He was normally quite content with that reality, but the only demon worthy of being more powerful than him was his owner. Survival in this moment was dependent on his ability to entertain a conversation.

Notes:

chapter 69 bois! thanks for stickin' by me all this time! unfortunately, i don't have a fun chapter for the legendary funny number so i hope you can enjoy this instead

Chapter 70: Chapter 70

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

“I trust there will be no further issues going forward?” Athena raised an eyebrow at Carmilla. She was standing on the desk of the now only weapons dealer in Hell as an owl, and she had almost crossed her arms before she remembered she was still a bird.

Camilla’s two daughters had left the room and were hiding in a bunker connected to the main office. The weapons dealer was a cautious Overlord, especially now because of the incident involving her girls. The secret room was fortified with angelic plating and was equipped with various angelic blades and rifles holding holy bullets. The young Overlord wanted nothing more than to kill the owl to free herself, for Odette and Clara’s safety if nothing else. She did not forget about what happened when she stormed Athena’s territory in an attempt to force the Overlord to revoke the Contract.

Carmilla did not know the circ*mstances involving the unfortunate deal between the bird and her two daughters. As soon as the three were safely back in their own territory, the Overlord had spent a few minutes comforting her girls before retreating into her office to allow herself to fully comprehend her situation as well as the horrific acts that had taken place on the street of that damaged radio tower. Carmilla was admittedly still rather new to Overlords and their politics, but she knew how much of a risk it would be to journey into a powerful Sinner’s territory not only unannounced but also ready to seek conflict.

But what Carmilla underestimated was just how twisted and villainous these Overlords can be. She had not yet attended any Overlord meetings, so she had no way of gauging the character and the power of other demons in her rank. But she had heard nasty things about them, and their reputation of sad*stic exploitation became even more evident once she did more research into the history of Overlords and the current ones in power.

In comparison to a trigger-happy monster like Valentino or an old yet powerful soul like Zestial, Athena was a blessing. Carmilla knew the owl had ulterior motives for trading her girls’ souls for hers, but she never could have anticipated this. The owl had slain every weapons dealer in the Pentagram overnight for the sole purpose of slingshotting Carmilla to the top of the industry. She now had no competition and thousands of new angelic weapons to add to her collection so she could sell them for profit.

Carmilla had a relative idea as to another possible reason Athena had killed each and every other weapons dealer Overlord. It was a show of power; if the owl could easily kill so many high-ranking demons who were armed with tools that could permanently end a Sinner’s soul, then she would have no problem taking out Carmilla if she were to ever step out of line. And an added insult was that Carmilla was not the one to kill them, so she could not gain any power from the carnage a Sinner would normally gain from that much blood on their hands.

Athena had put Carmilla into a position of power and pressure, all the while strengthening her empire behind the scenes. The owl’s cunning was frightening, and the weapons dealer had to wonder the true extent of Athena’s reach in the underworld. She didn’t even know it was possible for an Overlord to be owned by another Overlord, and it just went to show how much she didn’t know about Hell.

“No further issues,” Carmilla clenched her fist around the pen in her hand. She should not feel so intimidated by an animal she could crush with a single fist, but Athena was a true devil. She was an unassuming little bird, and that was just one factor that made her so deadly.

“Lovely,” Athena hissed in a faux pleasant tone. “Remember the terms of service, and might I recommend you gather your belongings from the abandoned hideouts of the previous Overlords. You do not want that sort of weaponry falling into the wrong hands, yes?” Without waiting for an answer, the owl stepped onto the windowsill before jumping out into the sky again.

Athena took a moment to truly think about the circ*mstances. The other Weapons Overlords have been slain, so that is one less problem to deal with. And now another problem has started to resolve itself. She thought back to the interaction between herself and Niffty after killing off her targets.

The ladybug had said some very important and interesting details. She very clearly mentioned how she had an editor and a publisher. Almost any and all profession down here in Hell was exclusive services between a worker and an Overlord, so as strange it was to think about, Niffty very well could own several souls. And while it unnerved Athena to know that the ladybug could so easily be involved in such shenanigans behind her back, she took a moment to ponder the implications of such a discovery.

She has most certainly heard of p*rnographic novels, but she had never been interested in reading it. And ever since the incident involving Valentino a few months back, she had been particularly insistent on steering clear of all sexual content out of principle if nothing else. It was true that p*rn and sex work in general was a wildly successful industry, and Athena had admittedly thought about taking over it more than a few times purely because of its financial popularity.

The owl was, quite frankly, against owning such a franchise because she was repulsed by anything sexual, especially watching it. She really could not understand the appeal of Valentino’s films. Apparently lesser demons get off to watching others have sex. It made her shudder in disgust just thinking about it. But erotic literature was a possibility she had not thought of. She could at the very least tolerate it if need be.

The Vee’s were massively successful Overlords because they outclassed their competition, whereas Athena killed her competition. Nobody could stand against Vox and his coworkers because they were at the top of their industry and no one would dare topple them. Athena thought her only option would be to kill them and place new Overlords under her control in their place, but as of right now, they were too powerful. But if she were to weaken them by sponsoring a competitor, then the game can change.

Notes:

we hit 1000 kudos, guys! thanks for sticking by me all this time and for supporting me!

Chapter 71: Chapter 71

Chapter Text

Zestial slowly circled the deer like a predator searching for a weak spot. And once again, Alastor found himself becoming angry. Only Athena had permission to look at him like he was prey. “Mine kin art all but quivering in mine presence. But thou art steadfast and unwavering. I must ask, how art thou able to retain such composure in the presence of one such as myself?”

Alastor knew that Zestial was examining him; the spider Overlord was analyzing the deer’s responses and body language for any information. “I pride myself on keeping my composure,” the Radio Demon spun his cane briefly as a laugh track played through the speaker. “I always say you’re never fully dressed without a smile.”

Zestial’s grin curved upwards once more, “A fine answer. However, there is one more matter I am most curious about, if thou would not mind indulging in mine query?”

“Oh, you are no bother at all,” Alastor parroted Zestial’s words back at him but in his own accent and dialect, much to the old Overlord’s amusem*nt.

“I have vested interest in tales of those who gain such notoriety, and in such a swift and unexpected fashion as well. And hearing tales of one such as thou truly tickles my fancy,” the spider glided across the ground like a snake, grinning in a predatory fashion. Alastor felt himself becoming more uneasy, but he forced his expression to remain neutral. The deer could tell Zestial was building up to something, and he wasn’t sure if he liked where it was going. “But, if I may be bold, may I asketh why thee dost choose to walk amongst the Sinners?”

Alastor kept pace with the taller demon as he walked down the sidewalk. “I am on my way to visit a friend on the other side of the city. I assure you, there is nothing nefarious happening on my end.”

Zestial’s expression didn’t change, “Hm. But then, who’s to say I am not a ṅ̴̩̈́̉̒͆ẻ̸͖̋̃̈́f̷̭͍͚̣̎͌̀̉̊͝a̴̢̠̪͇͋r̸̢̢͉̰̖̈́͋ḯ̴͖͈o̴̪̬̻̟͔̘͛ṷ̵̘̺̃̓̅̌̕͝s̶̡͕͉̘͐̀͊̂͜͜͝ ̷͓̥̪̰̋̒̆̇̌͠f̶̢̼̗̥̞̳̾́̑e̸̛̙͇̩͉ļ̵͍̘͔̓̓̆̆͒̈́͠l̶͕̠͙̥̤͑͒͋͋̽̅̍o̶̧̜̗̒̑w̸̧̻̯̳̭̹̑̐͛̽͂͜͝͝?” the cloak around his shoulders suddenly flared out, revealing a lime-green underside with a spiderweb pattern. The pressure in the street heightened exponentially, and Alastor felt himself freeze like a deer in headlights. But as quick as the oppressive presence came, it left, and Zestial lowered his arms again. “For I shalt admit, Radio Demon, I have heard some… unsettling rumors circling this realm in recent years.”

“Ooo, how I do love rumors,” Alastor managed to grasp his composure and reply. Zestial was very obviously toying with him to extract information, but what information he was fishing for Alastor hadn't a clue. He needed to be careful with his words because he did not want to give the old soul anything to catch his interest. “Would you mind filling me in on the juicy details? I can’t promise I’ll keep it off the air, though.”

Zestial only chuckled, “How interesting ‘tis to see such a prominent and powerful demon such as thyself to not have such knowledge on recent events. Thou doth not appear to heareth of the wild tales spun close to the ground unlike mine… other admirers.”

The spider Overlord’s glowing green eyes traveled across the street to where a Sinner was dowsing himself in gasoline before lighting himself on fire and running away with pained and terrified screams. “These unusual rumors that have reached mine ears… they tell of the mysterious circ*mstances in which every Overlord of a certain industry has been slain in but a single night.”

Alastor managed to keep his ear from flicking at that. Sounds like Athena had truck again, most likely taking out Carmine’s competition. But a sudden cold shudder ran down his spine as a thought struck him. The weapons dealer was rumored to be friends or at least acquaintances with Zestial. The ancient Overlord must have at least noticed how Alastor and Husk rose to power in a similar way, but he either thought it to be a coincidence, or he did not care enough to look into it.

However, now that his friend Carmilla was now involved, Zestial became interested. And he must have been even more interested because Alastor knew that the weapons dealer was not a fan of spilling blood. Alastor had not even considered the possibility of demons noticing connections between the Overlords of radio, gambling, and weapons manufacturing. But his owner certainly should have. He just needed to keep his head down for this conversation.

“I am most curious to know what thou know opinions on such a mysterious topic. After all, thou was the first,” Zestial’s tone shifted ever so slightly, and Alastor gripped the microphone of his cane with white knuckles. The question was worded so innocently, but he felt as if he was being interrogated.

“Oh, I do enjoy such wild speculation,” Alastor carefully replied. “It’s the reason I go for these walks each and every day. I love hearing what the lowly Sinners have to say about their reigning Overlords. And to hear that some believe that there is a connection between some of the strongest is quite a juicy bit of information.”

“A smart one, it would seem, “Zestial hissed like a viper coiling up to strike. “I am surprised, for most Sinners would flee from mine presence like mice. Yet, thou would walk before me with the pride of a lion.”

“I do value appearances and connections,” Alastor replied, daring to fish for information himself.. “Which is why I wonder why you are speaking to me of all Sinners.”

“Well, I suppose it would be more accurate to call me cautious. I don’t pick fights where the risk outweighs the reward,” the deer replied with a faux smile. The message was clear to Zestial. The deer was trying to make himself seem as non threatening as possible while still upholding hsi dignity and strength because he was of lower power. As much as he loathed to admit it, Alastor was weaker than Zestial. He wanted the spider to leave him be and to not investigate further into this little conspiracy. His owner was at the center of it, and he did not want the ancient Overlord to find out about her until she deemed it necessary.

Chapter 72: Chapter 72

Notes:

warning: athena eats again

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Alastor felt like collapsing against the brick wall as soon as Zestial was gone. And it was only then that he realized that he could finally breathe again. He didn’t know if the spider Overlord was still around; the deer’s ears were swiveling every which way. When he finally regained his composure, he decided to continue his walk down the street, but he would change his route slightly.

He was no longer in any shape to speak to Rosie. However, immediately teleporting home would alert Zestial if he was near that Alastor was frightened, and that was unacceptable. The deer made the trek to Cannibal Town, just like how he was before, but instead he stopped at the butcher shop. The deer absentmindedly picked up some fresh meat while his higher cognitive functions replayed that interaction with Zestial.

Alastor practically snatched the bloody bag out of the demon’s hand and darted out of the store. He made sure to keep his composure and his pace even as he walked down the sidewalk back to his apartment. He had absolutely no intention of eating this food tonight, but perhaps he could scare Angel Dust with it by leaving it in the lounge fridge. Alastor had told Zestial that he was traveling to see a cherished friend, and while that was originally Rosie who he was intending to meet, he could get away with claiming it was Athena if the spider Overlord was still watching him.

The deer finally managed to make it to the apartment complex, and as soon as he was in the front door, he hurriedly melted into the shadows and bolted to the floor where all of the residents were staying. Alastor had to ask himself why Angel Dust was on this floor along with Athena, Niffty, and himself, but at the moment, he couldn’t care less about the prostitute. He tossed the fresh kill into the fridge and decided to modify it at a later time, but for right now, he was only focused on one thing.

Athena was sitting on the coffee table as an owl, her glowing green eyes scanning some parchment under her black talons. She would occasionally scribble something down with a black feather quill, and Alastor felt himself smile fondly despite his foul and tense mood. People would usually accuse him of being behind the times, but the owl was casually using aging scroll paper and writing with a feather quill.

The deer clicked his fingers, and in a burst of green flame, Athena was in her Sinner form. Her bright acidic eyes turned towards Alastor, barely flinching at the transformation. “Alastor, you’re back earlier than expected.” She turned her attention back to the parchment under her claws, and the deer felt his ear twitch in irritation. With another wisp of inky shadow, he glided across the floor and onto the couch before slithering up from the cushions. He manifested from the darkness with the disembodied cry of a stag with his chest against hers and her arms around his shoulders.

“It was a surprisingly productive day on my end,” Alastor breathed against her neck as he curled up in her arms. He felt her flight feathers cascading down his back and enveloping him in the warmth he craved as he wrapped his own arms around her torso. He could sense that the owl was rather dumbfounded at the unexpected intimacy, but she wasn’t pushing him away because that would mean accepting defeat.

Athena reached down to pick up a piece of parchment and brought it up to eye level to try reading it, but she was unsuccessful because Alastor started nipping her neck with his canines. She hissed warningly at him, but he only snickered, immensely smug that he had successfully taken her attention away from what she was previously doing. She grumbled and put the papers down to focus on the bratty deer. The side of his hip was touching hers as they were both sitting on the couch, but Alastor’s upper body was leaning over her legs and was pressed against her chest.

“Any particular reason you are so desperate for my attention, my darling deer?” Athena cooed teasingly as she ran her fingers through his hair. In just one sentence, she managed to turn his victory into a testament of her control over him, and he felt himself shudder.

“Now who are you to claim I am desperate?” Alastor retorted. All he had was deflection at the moment; his encounter with Zestial was still fresh in his mind.Athena only chuckled as she cupped his cheek and guided his face up to hover in front of hers. Alastor’s only warning was the owl’s dark smirk before she brought his face to hers and pressed their lips together. The deer felt her pull on the leash with her other hand, and he gasped sharply. That was the opening she was waiting for as she pushed her tongue between his parting lips and past his sharp incisors. The muscle coiled around his own tongue, and she coaxed it back into her own mouth.

Alastor groaned and brought his hands to her face to cup her cheeks, eagerly following her lead. She didn’t know what she was doing, but the thrum of power coursing through his body from the chain around his throat felt amazing. Eventually, her fangs sank down on his tongue, and Alastor moaned against her lips. He could feel her teeth digging into the flesh as blood splurted from the wound and filled their mouths, and a thin trail of crimson leaked from their lips.He could feel her tongue taking the torn bits of flesh and bringing it to her molars so she could start chewing, and the deer pressed himself closer to her as his tail started to wag under his tailcoat.

By the time Alastor’s mind had caught up to what was happening, they finally broke apart. He panted heavily with half-lidded eyes and watched his owner lick her lips and clean up the scarlet dribbling down her chin with satisfaction. She cupped his chin and brought him close to her again, their faces mere inches away from each other. He thought she was going to take another bite out of him, but she instead hissed softly, “Tell me the truth, my deer, or do not tell me anything at all.”

Alastor dug his claws into her shoulders and felt the chains weigh heavily on his neck and shoulders. He swallowed thickly and felt his own blood slide down his throat. Without a tongue, he couldn’t speak, so all he could do was nod in understanding, still slightly dazed. “That’s a good boy,” Athena breathed out as she rubbed his ear, and Alastor immediately felt himself becoming docile. He slumped against her chest and closed his eyes, humming under his breath.

The owl continued to stroke his ear while her other hand ran down his body, and the deer felt his muscles relax exponentially under her palm as it slid down the back of his red pinstripe suit. Her talons then jabbed through the fabric, and Alastor almost got up with a surprised and indigent jolt, but a sudden tug on his leash stilled him before he could protest. Athena’s talons cleanly sliced through the delicate clothing sitting above the base of his spine before her hand dug into the newly cut hole.

Athena gently grabbed hold of the tuft of red, black, and white fur hidden under his tailcoat. She brought it out into the open and let it sway freely for a few moments before she caressed it with her free hand. Alastor almost felt like he was melting. His body felt unbelievably warm and relaxed with his owner holding him close to her chest, her wings around his body, and her hands softly (lovingly) massaging his ear and his tail. He eagerly pressed himself closer with a deep moan, not noticing how Athena was smirking victoriously.

Notes:

chapter summary: alastor is freaked out after zestial surprises him, so he decided to go back to the apartment rather than visit rosie like what he was planning on doing. he and athena cuddle on the couch before they kiss and bird bastard eats deer man’s tongue <3

also i just noticed i hit 100k words. thank you everybody who is reading my cringe, i seriously would not have gotten this far without your support to keep my motivation going strong >:3

Chapter 73: Chapter 73

Chapter Text

“Good morning, dear listeners, and welcome to the show!” Athena’s voice easily carried into Alastor’s microphone cane as she sat in the chair in front of the console as she began the morning broadcast. Her voice was lighter, more chipper; she was in a very good mood that day as the lights above the radio tower flickered on.

“It appears we have some very esteemed guests on our show today! And they all have some very exciting news for the audience!” The owl tapped the microphone in her hand with a claw, and an ear piercing scream tore through the static silence of the studio. One by one, bloodcurdling cries and disembodied wails echoed from the radios, each one from a different Sinner and just as pained as the last.

As the screams rang in the studio and throughout all of Hell, Athena put the cane against the console so it could lean against it. After hers and Alastor’s moment in the lounge area, she managed to coax an answer out of him as to why he was so clingy when he got home. Zestial had confronted the deer while he was on a walk about Carmilla suddenly rising to power. It made him uneasy and it had shaken him because one of the most powerful Sinners in the history of Hell was honing in on Athena’s schemes.

Athena managed to keep her smug expression and words hidden when she easily got Alastor to talk. It not only gave her valuable information about Zestial, but it also solidified her influence and control over him. She could sense that he was not only growing tolerable of the leash around his neck, but he was now craving it. And she had to lean into that; she had to make him crave it more.

The owl moved her hand from the console to a head of red hair leaning against her legs. She threaded her talons through the scarlet locks before starting to caress the deer’s ears. Alastor sighed softly and leaned into her claws. He was sitting on his knees in front of her with his head propped on her knee. His claws were curled around the back of her shins as his tail swayed freely behind him. He decided to change his typical wardrobe today.

The deer was dressed in a black turtleneck with a red cross running down his chest. His striped vest and his solid wine red tailcoat were laying on the back of the chair Athena was sitting on. His dress pants and boots remained the same, but the shoes had been temporarily shed so that his hooves were not being crushed uncomfortably as he sat back on them.

Athena hummed as she gently rubbed the deer’s ears. There were screams still echoing throughout the studio but Athena and Alastor easily tuned it out. The owl cut her palm with a single black talon, and dark green dribbled from the wound. He grasped her hand, mesmerized at the sight of the discolored blood before running his tongue across the cut, collecting each and every drop as she rubbed his ear with her other hand.

He closed his eyes with a hum and pressed his lips to her palm, gently kissing and licking and sucking at the cut. His owner was caressing the base of his ear and coaxing him closer to her, and Alastor found himself sliding across the floor on his knees so that he was sitting between her thighs as he continued suckling at the self-inflicted wound on her hand.

In open swift motion, the deer opened his mouth and sank his fangs into her skin, cutting through flesh and nicking bone as he began devouring the delicious taste of her blood. He gripped her wrist and the back of her hand as he groaned against her skin, eagerly feasting on her blood as it trickled down his throat with each heavy swallow. Athena didn’t even flinch when Alastor bit into and started to chew on her hand. She just chuckled at his enthusiasm and guided his head to lay on her inner thigh as he continued to feast.

Alastor then grinned as he felt an idea creep into his mind. He brought his head back from her palm and licked his lips before taking a single scarlet claw and tracing it down the underside of her finger. Alastor watched with a dazed smile as dark green followed his talon and started to ooze from the new cut. Athena still hadn’t pulled away, so he took the opportunity to wrap his lips around her bleeding finger with a moan.

The deer swirled his tongue around and down the digit, eagerly taking each and every drop of blood that would leak from the cut. He dared to look up at her with her hand still pressed against his lips, and he saw the owl’s complexion deepen with a blush as she stared down at him with a captivated expression. He smirked as his tail started to wag upon seeing her flushed face, but he then jolted when she began to retaliate by moving her finger in his mouth, now playing with his tongue to replicate how her tongue would move against his when their lips met.

Alastor felt himself becoming docile again when her talon nicked his tongue, causing his own blood to spill into his mouth. He felt his jaw loosen, and Athena took the opportunity to grab hold of his bleeding tongue with her forefinger and thumb, rolling the appendage sensually with a smirk. He let out a whine and clutched onto her wrist in the hopes of gaining some stability. His eyelids lowered, and he let out a low moan when her other hand caressed his drooping ears.

“You’re insufferable,” Athena chuckled as she pulled Alastor up to her eye level by grabbing hold of the chain around his neck. Her words were insulting, but the fond expression on her face ruined the scolding effect. She almost made a joke about Angel Dust teaching him to act in this manner, but she managed to bite the words back because she knew it would set him off.

The deer hummed and as he stood up to his full height, now towering over her. He wrapped an arm around her waist and hoisted the owl off of the chair so that she was now pressed against his chest. As Athena’s arms wrapped around his neck, Alastor’s other arm slithered down her body so that his fingers could interlock behind her back. Because of the height difference, he had to lean down so that their lips could touch. He could feel his lovely owl humming against his skin as her claws threaded through his hair.

The deer spun on his heel with her still pressed against his chest, and he could hear her tail feathers glide through the air with a soft whoosh. She hummed and wrapped her legs around his waist, and Alastor easily compensated for the change in balance by moving his hands down to her hips to hold her up. Athena pecked his lips with a soft and chaste kiss with a fond chuckle, teasing him with delicious green ambrosia just out of his reach. Alastor knew that this was what he was waiting for. Athena was what he was waiting for.

Alastor didn’t feel the need to seek Rose’s counsel anymore. Whatever he and Athena had was not love, but it was the closest thing to it that he could possibly feel. He managed to gain the strength to lift himself off of her chest and press his lips to hers again. Athena easily reciprocated, humming softly as he pushed his torn tongue past her lips. The owl caressed his ear before sliding her hand down to cup his cheek.

He could feel her taking in the blood still leaking from the wound as their lips moved together. This was their love, no matter how dark and twisted it may be, and Alastor was content with that. He knew he loved her, and he knew she loved him. That was his truth, regardless of how much their feelings disagreed with that statement.

“You’re mine,” Athena hissed possessively with a dark smirk, and Alastor only responded with a lovestruck grin. Her words and her tone emphasized her hold over him, and it felt so good to be under her control. He couldn’t even remember why he was fighting it anymore. He belonged under her; she was the only demon in Hell worthy of his obedience and loyalty.

“I’m yours,” Alastor breathed against her skin as his eyes drifted shut, and he pressed his lips to hers. He felt her nip at his lower lip, and he offered his tongue to her once again, groaning happily when she started to feast on it.

Chapter 74: Chapter 74

Chapter Text

Alastor felt more than mentally capable to make the journey to Cannibal Town today. He made sure to double check his wrists before stepping outside, but when he made sure the present his owner had given him were safely hidden, he began walking down the sidewalk. He would feel much better being next to Athena, but being so intimate with her in the radio tower earlier that morning was going to be good enough. His cane tapped on the ground as he walked down the sidewalk. He managed to keep his expression carefully neutral as he walked down the sidewalk, even as several demons stopped and glanced at him curiously.

He will admit that he was slightly self-conscious when he first stepped out of the apartment complex that morning. In all the years he has been in Hell, the only real change he made to his appearance after he got his first suit was to add white lining to the collar. Alastor was a creature of habit, and he saw nothing wrong with that. While demons like Vox changed with the times, always chasing the next trend, the Radio Demon remained steadfast in his ways.

But now he was sporting his wine red overcoat with black turtleneck and striped vest visible on his chest as the buttons on his coat were left open. He ran his hand through his hair with a soft sigh, relishing the sensation of his palm briefly caressing the back of his head as he passed the sign greeting demons to Cannibal Town. Rather than a pep on his step, Alastor felt like he was floating. Every step felt weightless and smooth as he glided across the ground with ease on his route to Rosie’s emporium.

The deer walked around the building to the side entrance where the Cannibal Overlord was usually waiting for him in the small separate room attached to the main building. He sent Rosie a message the previous night after he asked his owner to help him calm down following his encounter with Zestial. Alastor told her that he had run into some unexpected obstructions and had to rain check their weekly meeting. Luckily for him, the Cannibal Overlord had readily replied with a message of her own saying that she was looking for an excuse to get away from her husband. Apparently, Franklin had been rather moody as of late. It made Alastor disheartened on his close friend’s behalf. He wished she had someone in her life like how his owner was in his.

Rosie opened the door with her usual friendly face and welcomed Alastor inside. “Alastor! Oh, I missed you, deary! Come on in, there was a mixup with the shipments into the town yesterday, so I have a few spare legs to snack on!”

The deer stepped inside to see sliced meat sitting on the table in the center of the room. The skin and fat had already been cleanly cut off, and Alastor felt his mood brighten even more. Rosie knew that he was not fond of that excess sustenance on his food. The texture of both very often ruined the rich delicacy of fresh meat.

“Now you seem to be in quite a good mood, mister,” Rosie grinned with a rounded the table and sat down. She then put on a faux thoughtful expression as she looked him up and down. Her lack of irises made it difficult to see, but Alastor could see the miniscule movements of her brow as she looked him over. “Hm… there’s something different about you, young man, but what could it be? Oh! It’s gotta be that new tie! I never thought I would see the day where you would change your style.”

The deer turned his head to the side and buried his face in his open palm as he felt his cheeks heat up. He knew that she was referring to his change in demeanor and not his wardrobe choices. “Oh my, Alastor!” Rosie put a hand to her mouth as if she was just told the most naughtiest of secrets. “You’re blushing like a young maiden ripe for the pickin’. I take it you and Athena have worked things out?”

“Yes, we have,” Alastor replied softly, gazing down at the floor fondly as his mind started to wander. He rubbed at his neck where the teeth marks were still hiding under his shirt collar.

“Well, I believe congratulations are in order!” The Cannibal Overlord happily jumped out of her chair and rounded the table before enveloping the deer in a celebratory hug. He still felt rather tender and emotionally vulnerable after his and Athena’s morning together, so he couldn’t help but let out a little cervine squeak when the demon who had become his aunt figure wrapped her arms tightly around his shoulders. He often despised himself for not being able to control these animal instincts he had been cursed with when he died, but Rosie never drew any attention to it, which he was grateful for.

“Is that why you’re in this new getup?” Rosie released him from her hug and dusted off his shoulder. “Are you two going on your honeymoon any time soon?”

Alastor’s mood suddenly soured. As much as he would love the idea of marrying Athena, he just couldn’t see the two of them living a domestic life as a classic nuclear family. Removing their hellish quirks such as murder and cannibalism, their relationship was already very odd. Their roles in the relationship were very wrong. He was the one cooking meals and waiting for her to come home from work while she was the one who was out of the house and expanding her empire.

Throughout his life, Alastor had always known people who had mothers who would cook and stay home while the fathers would be at work. That dynamic was the same even in his own broken household. His father was a bastard of a man, but at least he did his correct responsibilities when he was supposed to. Alastor’s… quirks left him alienated from the other kids in his school and in the neighborhood, so he would spend most of his time at home, cooking with her and helping her around the house. It was yet another source of frustration from his father, to see his son playing housewife instead of roughhousing with other boys his age.

The deer did not know much about Athena’s life before she ended up in Hell; she was never one to share her past, not even faint memories. But he had to wonder if she was closer to her father growing up just as he had been closer to his mother. Was that why she was so content with taking the man’s role in their relationship?

“Oh, honey, what’s wrong?” Rosie noticed the deer’s down expression, and she moved the chair she was previously sitting in to next to Alastor so she could sit closer to him. “Does Athena not want to get married yet? You shouldn’t be so disheartened. You two just recently got together.”

“It’s not that, my dear,” Alastor lamented. He sighed and leaned his microphone cane onto the table in front of him. He did not feel comfortable being vulnerable in this fashion. He trusted Rosie, but it was still difficult for him to open up about his own personal troubles. Luckily, the Cannibal Overlord was a gentle and kind soul (as odd as the sentence was to say), and she only waited patiently for him to pull his thoughts and nerves together.

Chapter 75: Chapter 75

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

“Athena and I… are not a typical relationship,” Alastor began his attempt to explain his train of thought. He didn’t know how to describe his feelings into words, not in an elegant and comprehensible manner. “There’s… something wrong with me. I want to love her, but I… I-I don’t. I can’t, and I don’t know why. I never understood romance; it never appealed to me, and I was uninterested in it, even when I was a boy and when my peers were exploring it for the first time. There are many things wrong with me.”

It greatly pained Alastor to admit that he was not as infallible as his reputation made him out to be. He was the Radio Demon, the mysterious and charismatic Overlord who overthrew the political and economic status quo of the underworld overnight. He was a killer and a cannibal, and that was yet another thing wrong with him. When Alastor was growing up, he had always wondered what made him so different from everyone else.

He could not fall in love, and that had always irked him. The deer vowed many decades ago to be a better partner to his soon to be wife because his mother never got that opportunity. Finding a partner was certainly a task on his to-do list, but it was always on the back burner because of his bloody escapades after he landed a job as a radio host.

He did want to settle down eventually, there was always that desire to be with someone, and as the years went by, and Alastor still had not developed any sort of romantic or sexual interest in any of the unwed maidens around him, he just accepted that it was yet another indicator of just how much of a demon he was. He could not form any sort of intimate attachment to anyone around him, not even close friends like Mimzy or trusted confidants like Rosie. It made it easier to hunt and kill his victims.

He was a demon long before he came to Hell. And while he was once proud of the fact that he could carry out his missions as a serial killer with no obstacles such as love and no flaws such as remorse, now that he found someone he wanted to be with, his blessing became a curse. Perhaps this was to be his greatest punishment as a Sinner. This accursed realm turned his greatest pride into his greatest shortcoming by introducing him to a soul just as deranged and twisted and charming as he was, and he couldn’t even be with her in the way he wanted.

“You don’t love her?” Rosie repeated Alastor’s words. Her tone was not scolding, it was not curious, it was just asking him to elaborate. She knew that a large part of helping someone with mental difficulties is just talking to them and letting them vent. At this moment, she was not fishing for gossip; she just wanted to help the deer understand his feelings. Alastor was not someone who would share his feelings, even with someone he trusted.

“I… No, I believe I don’t,” Alastor replied dejectedly. He forced his ears to remain standing straight up when he felt them starting to lower. But he couldn’t stop himself from briefly rubbing his throat. Before he left his apartment, he couldn't help but notice he felt slightly self-conscious for the first time since he died. He had checked himself in the mirror before leaving that morning, and it was safely hidden under his sleeves.

The deer felt his mind wander for a moment, briefly forgetting about the topic at hand as he adjusted the fabric around his wrists, and when he did, he felt his owner’s present slightly moving against his skin. The thick bracelets were not tight, but any jostle of clothing around them made them immediately noticeable to Alastor. Safely tucked under his coat sleeves and dress shirt were a pair of black layered cuffs.

The base of the bracelets were a sturdy and wide layer of leather with intricate and delicate green feather patterns carved into the expensive material. It was the very same pattern Athena had put on her signature radios back when she was the one and only Radio Demon. Emblazoned on the cuffs were silver heart-shaped rings, each the shape of his owner’s heart-shaped face, and that silver metal was weaved into the outer layer of the cuffs to reinforce it with holy steel. And because of the strength and divine properties of the material, Alastor was unable to take the cuffs off even if he wanted to.

He felt his face heat up at such a thought. These bracelets were indeed an embodiment of his and Athena’s relationship. They were hidden, invisible to anyone and everyone who would look their way, but when Athena wanted to see the chain that bound him to her, she could do so at her digression. She could undress him any time she wishes to feast on his flesh, and when she does, she’ll see the cuffs around his wrists, marking his as hers and hers alone.

Athena could manifest the leash digging into his throat and tethering his soul to hers, and there wasn’t anything Alastor could do about it. She could expose the cuffs around the deer’s wrists, and there wasn’t anything Alastor could do about it. He had the option to expose himself, but that would be the death of his reputation. And she had given him cuffs under his sleeves because it was much easier to hide a fidget or to disguise a chance to caress the gift by pretending he was adjusting his sleeves. And when he held his wrists behind his back in his usual stance, it was easy to slip his fingers beneath the wine red fabric to play with the leather bracelets whenever he desired.

Athena wore her deer skull necklace with pride around her neck, and it told the demons around her that she was Alastor’s property and under his protection. But she was using that as a false front just like she was using him as a false front to take the spotlight and draw all the attention away from her as she controlled the underworld from the shadows.

Alastor was trapped, and most likely forever so because these beautiful cuffs were not going to be coming off anytime soon. The very careful and detailed designs engraved into the thick leather were obviously handmade, so Athena had crafted each bracelet by hand, and it must have taken days or even weeks. Only he was worthy of something so high quality and made with such dedication. He, as the favorite pet of the most cunning and devious Overlord Hell as ever seen, deserved as much from his owner.

Alastor almost swooned at the spot, and if it weren’t for the fact that Rosie was a mere few feet away, he would be doing so, but he suspected the eagle-eyed Cannibal Overlord saw his face melt with euphoria. “I don’t love her, I don’t think I can,” the deer sighed as he adjusted the sleeves around his wrists, sighing under his breath as the feather-patterned cuffs twisted against his skin. “But I love being with her, in whatever capacity I can… And that’s… that’s good enough for me.”

Notes:

the idea for athena to give alastor an accessory to wear came from the commenter lilirose14. i really liked the idea but i decided to go with cuffs instead of a necklace though because i thought it made more sense thematically and realistically <3

also it's 4/20 bois

Chapter 76: Chapter 76

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

“Pleasure doing business with you,” Athena pulled her hand back from the other Sinner’s and wiped it on her shirt as the green flames faded. She loathed having to make deals with lesser demons, but it was a necessity at this point. But at the same time, she couldn’t help but feel like this was a betrayal to the souls she currently owned. It felt like she was putting these lesser Sinners in the same caliber as them, and it felt so utterly wrong. The owl only owned the most powerful souls in Hell, and Alastor was one of them. It disgusted her, but giving the deer those bracelets as a gift helped ease her discomfort slightly.

She knew she was going to be making her move to solidify her presence in the circle of Overlords this day, so she had given her pet her gift to not only reward him for his loyalty but also, quite frankly, make her feel better about acquiring new souls to her collection. Alastor was her favorite, and she knew that he was going to be reassured by that every time he felt those cuffs rub against his wrists.

The lion Sinner Athena had just made a deal with grumbled at such blatant disrespect when she wiped her hand off in her shirt after she had shaken her hand, but he didn’t snap at her. She owned his soul now, afterall and couldn’t afford to get on her bad side. From his perspective, this was the demon who had killed all Overlords in the gladiator industry in a single night. Only a true monster could do something like that, she the lion Sinner vowed to stay in her good graces. At least he was signing his soul away to be a bouncer and not an arena contestant.

Athena watched the demon leave and made a mental note as she felt the tether binding his soul join the others she had in her collection. Many other Sinners had come to her new office that day to make deals just as many had flocked to Husk’s casinos after he rose to power. She had decided to take over the industry of underground gladiator matches after she had started taking down several weapons dealers who were running these types of businesses. It was simply two birds with one stone.

There were now several Sinners under her command to act as employees to run these gladiator matches. Several of the souls owned by these Overlords that Athena slaughtered had fled upon realizing that they were free, so she needed fresh meat. She needed volunteers. And that’s when she had the idea of forbidding angelic weapons in the ring. Carmilla was going to take them all away anyway, and this gladiator sport could instead become a much bloodier version of wrestling.

The participants could be as violent as they want with no fear of consequence because their opponent would simply regenerate after the fight. And they wouldn’t need to worry about their own souls because they were battling other demons carrying regular steel rather than blades that could do permanent damage. She knew very well that many of these Sinners caused chaos simply for the sake of causing chaos, especially in the Doomsday District, and her radio tower was right on the edge of that territory.

Athena had just finished going through the souls who wanted to work for her, and she was ready to set up her first establishment. And once she had broadcasted the screams of the demons she killed the previous night, she announced that the fighting rings in the Doomsday District were now open for anyone to enter, and angelic weapons were now prohibited. These fights had gone from deadly gladiator battles to slightly more violent boxing matches, and Sinners were flocking it today.

The owl saw the line of Sinners outside the door as she flew into her new office through the window. She had already done some deals with demons earlier that day before the radio broadcast and picked up some souls who could work as bouncers and referees and bartenders during the fights. She had also made some deals with Sinners who wanted to open concession stands around the rings. It was easy money for both of them, so Athena readily agreed.

These bloody battles had an almost baseball game presence to them now, and Athena had to admit that it wasn’t what she was initially expecting. Apparently, many demons wanted in on the gladiator fights but didn’t actually go because it required selling your soul or participating in these battles. They were violent, but they weren’t suicidal. Once holy steel was barred, many of them wanted in on the fights just for the sport and for a pastime. Day one by itself was already successful, much to Athena’s enjoyment.

It was set up like a martial arts tournament, complete with referees, brackets, and cash prizes for the winners. She had plans to make this industry much more successful, but Athena wanted to see how the first day would turn out after she made the announcement on Alastor’s radio show. She didn’t want to trust public opinion, but she should’ve known to trust the public’s yearning for bloodshed.

But now that her side project had proved to be successful, she could now bring in the Overlords under her thumb to support the industry she had decided to take over. Husk could employ demons to handle bets on fighters in the arena, Alastor could broadcast the fights through his radio shows, Carmilla could have the weapons Athena had collected from the killed Overlords, and Niffty was just going to be Niffty. The owl made a mental note to check with her about her… writing hobby because it did have potential to turn a profit, and even more potential to further weaken the Vee’s.

And yet, this Imp was mowing down contestants like an Overlord. It certainly spoke volumes about her ruthlessness and combat prowess. Athena heard that Imps originated from the Wrath Ring, and demons born in that part of Hell were naturally very skilled in combat and were raised to be fighters. After this Imp won the prize money, Athena pulled her aside to speak with her.

The Imp was confused and nervous at first, especially when the owl herded her into her office.

“I know you are an Imp,” Athena raised a brow at the Hellborn, making her tense up. But the owl made sure to ease the other demon’s concerns so as to not cause her to lash out. “You need not be alarmed. Hellborn are not prohibited from my games, I am just impressed that an imp would go through these gruesome fights when they are particularly vulnerable to it.”

“Well, I was banned from the Pain Games down in Wrath, so I wanted to hit the boxin’ ring again, ya know?” The Hellborn shrugged with a nervous grin.

“Interesting,” Athena mused. “What is your name, curious Imp?”

“Oh!” the little imp perked up, seemingly calmer now that she knew the Overlord was not aiming to harm her. “The name’s Millie, it’s nice ta meet ya!”

Notes:

idea of athena running underground fighting rings came from anon a few chapters back

Chapter 77: Chapter 77

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Husk grumbled as he flicked his ear with a single white claw while he stared at himself in the mirror. He was going through the usual routine of slicking back the fur on his head after getting his dark gray and gold trimmed tuxedo on to get ready for the day.

But he then noticed the usual red circular spot on the white underside of his pointed ears had morphed into red hearts. It was a miniscule change, but it was still not one he liked. Husk never liked anything about his form here in Hell, and he at first thought that his appearance alone was his punishment here in Hell. That is, until he discovered that hell is pretty much Earth except the sweet release of death can’t save you from your Sin and wrongdoings.

At least the little circle could be perceived as the classic magic trick of coin in the ear. He was always a fan of magic shows, even when he was a boy. It was why he wanted to own a casino in the first place. He was born and raised in a casino down in California, and he wanted to own one someday after seeing a magician perform his show in the building his father owned. Husk had died after suffering a life of gambling addiction and alcoholism before he could fulfill that ambition. He wanted to make a fortune by gambling so he could found his own casino, but he instead fell further and further into debt as he chased the jackpot, only for it to dance forever out of his reach.

He had turned to drinking early on to cope with the stress of the negative numbers in his bank account, and it had numbed the pain somewhat. However, in one of his drunken stupors, he had picked a fight he would have known if he was sober that he couldn’t have won. And after he woke up in the hospital, he found out that his wife was filing for divorce, and she was intent on taking their daughter with her. The courts easily sided with her because of Husk’s habits, and he couldn’t blame them. By the time he realized his drinking and gambling had become a problem, it was too late to back out.

Husk didn’t remember how he died. All he knew was that he had spent the night drinking away his sorrows in some back alley bar, and when the world faded around him as he downed drink after drink, he woke up on a dirty street under a red sky. When he found out he was in Hell, he knew he had kicked the bucket from alcohol poisoning.

The cat Sinner proceeded to wallow in self-pity for a few weeks, as per usual, but then he realized that even though this was Hell, he still had a second chance to achieve his dream of owning a casino. It was surreal to think that eternal damnation is the same as the living world; Husk thought that it spoke more about Earth than it did about Hell itself, but it was not something he wanted to think about in that moment.

He had successfully managed to buy his own casino, but because of his old drinking and gambling habits, it quickly started going down the drain. At first, he was flourishing in the business because nobody in Hell paid much attention to his sleight of hand tricks, and when he became an Overlord, he didn’t need to cheat anymore and could instead count on his new powers to influence his luck. He was riding the highs of winning in a gamble for so long that he forgot how it felt to suddenly grow overconfident and then lose everything. And that was when Athena found him.

He resented her, that much was true. She had put an immense amount of pressure on him by having him be in charge of every casino in the Pentagram. And to make it worse, if he fell into debt, then he would be killed. That sobered him up very quickly. He forcibly cut back on his drinking because he was too focused on paperwork to remember to down booze until he blacked out. He forcibly stopped himself from going to a casino table and throwing his savings down the sh*thole. Athena may be a bastard, and she may be using him to line her pockets, but because of her, he sobered up. He finally realized his dream and on a massive scale.

Sure, it was stressful, but everything has a price. He knew that running a successful casino would be a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, and he got exactly what he wanted. Husk had long since accepted that he was in Hell because of his own actions, and he was destined to burn for eternity. But he couldn’t help but feel that Hell wasn’t so bad anymore. Not only was his own business thriving, but he got to be the start of other young bucks’ careers. That Verosika Mayday character was quickly making a name for herself, and now Hellborns were starting to flock to his casinos from other Rings because they knew that he was accepting of them.

Husk didn’t know why other Sinners and Overlords had beef with Imps and other Hellborn. It was probably because they didn’t have souls, so they couldn’t be controlled. But Husk made it work. His bouncers just threw out any troublemakers that the locals couldn’t deal with. It warmed his old heart to see that demons who frequent his establishments have formed such an attachment to the place that they were willing to stand their ground against those who were stupid enough to ruin the vibe.

Husk felt his ear flick again, drawing him from his musings as he looked himself in the mirror again. It was well known that souls under the ownership of an Overlord have their appearance change somewhat over time as a result of their souls being tied to another. The circular spots in his ears had morphed into little red hearts, most likely to match the heart-shaped owl face on the one who owned his soul. He had to look at the mark every time he looked in the mirror, but Husk was starting to not care about it as much.

He sold his soul to have his ambition come to life, and the good far outweighed the bad now. He was somewhat sober, he had a thriving business, and he was having fun for the first time in decades. He still hated Athena. There was just something about her that was just wrong. She was a schemer. She was a manipulator. She was using him, but Husk was not bothered by it for the most part. There was nothing he valued more than transparency, and someone who hid in the shadows was not someone he preferred to be in the presence of. But he couldn’t deny that what she had done to him had done a lot for him.

There were times where he wished he was back on the streets feeling sorry for himself, but not many. The first thing that he could think of was the confrontation between Alastor and Athena against Vox and Valentino. He remembered that incident vividly. He had been terrified when he stood against the raging TV Overlord. But he had to stand his ground and enforce the rules, not only for himself but for the residents in the casino.

Husk was relieved to see that his reputation as an Overlord skyrocketed because of the incident at the casino. And his power proved to be greater than Vox’s in that moment when the shark was kicked out. At least, that’s what the majority of Hell thought. However, he knew what really happened that night. There was one loophole in the contract that made it possible for him to take the souls of those who cause trouble in his establishments.

And Vox managed to find it.

Notes:

i'm actually surprised that y'all didn't think about how Vox managed to escape the casino without having to sell his soul to Husk per the casino's rules. i dropped a hint as to how he escaped in an earlier chapter if you guys can find it >;3

Chapter 78: Chapter 78

Chapter Text

Vox was angry. He paced in his office with a scowl, sparks flickering at his feet with every step. The incident at the casino was replaying in his head at every waking moment, and he caught himself in several instances lost in thought, and the memories of that night played on his screen for him to relive over and over again.

The first time he had done it, Valentino socked him in the face and easily shattered his screen. Ever since upgrading to a plasma flatscreen, Val had made several snide comments about how the shark couldn’t take a hit anymore. Vox knew that the moth was furious at how the night had turned out at the Jackpot Casino, so playing the video of that incident had immediately set him off.

And what was even more insulting is that the reason Val had lashed out at Vox was because he was in an already foul mood due to his favorite whor* leaving the apartments the Vee’s owned to live by himself. Perhaps that seven or eight hour f*ckfest Val and Angel Dust had after the moth found out the spider was pranking him during work hours finally made the p*rn star snap, so he decided to leave. Valentino was angry about it for sure, and especially so when he found out there was nothing he could do about it. The moth only owned the spider during work hours, and he had no authority over him per their Contract.

Vox had gone out to the balcony to confront Angel Dust when he was on break and having a smoke outside of Valentino’s reach. He had immediately made his frustrations clear to the p*rn star. He was not venting, but he was letting Angel know that his little stunt had put him on thin ice, and it was causing major backlash. Vox was already stressed out about how his stocks were tanking because the public knew about the incident at the Jackpot Casino, and Val’s foul mood had only made it worse.

“So, he hits you too, huh?” Angel Dust had said in a monotone and tired voice as he looked at the TV Demon’s cracked screen, and Vox suddenly felt ice cold. He had exploded with unrivaled fury at the p*rn star, getting right in his face and telling the whor* that he needed to keep his head down and stop making his company’s reputation even worse. Valentino’s most profitable whor* suddenly vanished from being under the moth’s watch 24/7. Having such one of his lower workers leaving for another living quarters is insulting enough, but to have Val’s favorite leave would inspire others to leave as well, and it has.

Perhaps that was Athena’s end goal when she had invited Angel Dust into her personal apartment complex. It was no secret now that the owl and Alastor were close, and Vox had cursed himself for letting that valuable information slip so easily without doing something about it first. When he had tried, it backfired in such a spectacular fashion. His business was falling and Alastor’s was booming. People in Hell respected power, and they were enthusiasts about rumors and trends. That’s what Vox was hoping to capitalize on and why he brought Velvette onto the team. She was a professional clout chaser and was expanding the Vee’s empire.

However, after word got out that a fight broke out between the top media Overlords in the city, Sinners and Hellborn alike immediately wanted to learn more. And when they found out what had happened to Vox and Valentino, many of them pulled their support from Voxtech and instead funneled their funds to Alastor’s radio show. Most likely it was done out of fear because of how cunning and powerful he and this new player, Athena, had revealed themselves to be that night.

When the TV Demon had gone behind the building where Val had taken Athena to, he instantly collapsed onto the street, barely missing the mess of bloody carnage as he vomited onto the ground with a sharp curl of his spine. The body before him was almost unrecognizable, but Vox could see the shredded red wings that had sometimes wrapped around him on those nights where he was overwhelmed and stressed from work, and that face he would sometimes wake up next to was twisted into a silent scream of agony. Vox was able to see Valentino’s undead heart beating under a pile of twisting organs and slowly regrowing bones. The shark could only sit back against the wall and hug his knees against his chest as he waited for hours for Val to put himself together just enough to take him back to the penthouse.

Vox had persevered through the challenges and hurdles in his way on the road to becoming the next great Overlord. When he died in the fifties, television was starting to rise in popularity as the next form of media after radio. Vox wanted to use his experience as a news host to bring about the age of television to Hell. And when Alastor found the shark on the street, the deer offered to help him. Alastor was with him through it all.

Vox wanted to have Alastor as a business partner, he wanted to have Alastor as maybe even more than a business partner. He knew radio was dying, and it was partially Vox’s fault because the medium that was replacing it was his own dominating industry. But Vox was determined to keep radio around because he knew Alastor enjoyed it so much.

In Vox’s earlier days in Hell, he looked up to Alastor, he admired and respected him. The Radio Demon was a man who had killed all of the other radio Overlords in a single night and dominated the industry even to this day. Vox had to struggle to achieve his status as a feared and respected Overlord, whereas Alastor accomplished it effortlessly. Vox wanted to be like him. But no matter how hard he tried, the shark could not reach Alastor’s level. He tried to be just as charming, just as calm and collected, just as confident in his own power and medium. But he was only able to be superficially charismatic at best. He had to compensate with his powers in hypnosis.

But Vox knew his power was growing exponentially after he finally launched Voxtech, and once his empire had finally started to gain some traction, he finally pulled together the courage to join him for some drinks at the bar in celebration for his career finally reaching a peak. It was a slow and treacherous journey with many bumps in the road and stumbles that he had to learn from.

Maybe he had one too many drinks that night, but Vox ended up using that opportunity with Alastor to just pour his heart out to him. The shark had first seen the Radio Demon as an idol, but over time, he started seeing him as a friend and would even dare to say he was seeing him as something more than that. Vox had told Alastor that there was nobody else he would rather have at his side to rule the underworld with.

Vox expected to be turned down, but his hopes wished for Alastor to reciprocate his feelings. But what he didn’t expect was for Alator to laugh in his face. And it wasn’t just snickering, either. The deer was cackling uproariously as he revealed to Vox that the only reason he had stuck around was because Vox was the most pathetic demon he had ever seen, and watching him stumble and fall so often was nothing but entertainment for him.

The TV Demon had never been so crushed nor humiliated in his entire existence. In a fit of rage, frustration, and desperation, he had tried to use his hypnosis on Alastor, and it had worked, but only for a moment. But the deer managed to gain enough strength to push Vox away with a hard swing from his cane. Thinking back to their falling out, Vox realized he had gone through with pursuing Alastor’s supposed weakness at the casino all wrong.

Alastor was obviously affected by Vox’s hypnosis. The Radio Demon infamously avoided any and all technology, mostly because he hates any media that is not his own, but also because he knew Vox could influence people through screens. Being in the same vicinity as Alastor gave him a huge advantage, and Vox had squandered it because of his tunnel vision. And in the end, the TV Demon was lucky to leave that establishment with his tail between his legs and not worse.

No, it wasn’t luck. Vox managed to hit the one loophole in Husk’s contract that would allow him to leave without having to sell his soul to the Gambling Overlord. Vox grimaced and delicately put his claws hand to his throat. He just hoped that it was worth it.

Chapter 79: Chapter 79

Chapter Text

Charlie wanted to open an establishment to rehabilitate Sinners. Lucifer was admittedly dumbstruck when she said it to him and Lilith. While the King was ecstatic when he saw his daughter being so excited and happy about this idea she was funding, he couldn’t help but have mixed feelings about what exactly she was hoping would happen. Sinners were vile, rotten, and completely unapologetic about their evil. Many thoughts were flying through his usually sluggish brain as he fully digested what Charlie was saying to him and his wife.

The Princess wanted to believe that there are some Sinners down here who are only damned because they all have some good inside of them. Lucifer’s knee jerk reaction was to instantly deny her beliefs because he had seen just how cruel and despicable humanity is. She was still rather young, only about two hundred years, whereas he had been existing since the dawn of time. He was among the archangels overseeing the creation of Earth; he was the damned soul who gave Eve the fruit of knowledge and cursed humanity. Lucifer knew better than anyone that human souls were rotten to the core.

But Charlie was so f*cking hopeful. Lucifer couldn’t understand it. She didn’t appear to be in denial; she was genuinely cheerful and excited about her idea of a rehabilitation center for demons. It was the single most bizarre sentence Lucifer had ever heard.

He thought back to Athena. That weird little owl was where Charlie had gotten her idea from. While Lucifer wouldn’t call that bird hopeful like her daughter, he would call her different from other Sinners. And he still didn’t know if that difference was a good thing. Athena was not bloodthirsty, at least not shamelessly so as the other Sinners in his realm. But she was a control freak, that much he was able to sense from her.

He couldn’t say he could exactly blame her for it, however. If one were to be as defenseless and weak in a world full of danger and depravity, one would learn to lean heavily on the ability to control the chaos around you to keep it from hurting you. Controlling chaos was already an impossible thing to ask. Chaos by definition was something that couldn’t be controlled. But when Athena told him that a circus is essentially controlled chaos, albeit on a smaller scale, Lucifer couldn’t help but seriously consider her words.

That owl was an oddball, the King was at least able to form that opinion about her. And that wasn’t even considering the fact that her appearance and power was an outlier here in Hell. Athena was an old soul, very old for a Sinner, and it was evident that she was an expert in Hell’s politics and economy, much more so than Lucifer was. The King was shut out from his kingdom and had been for thousands upon thousands of years. But Athena was thriving, just as Lilith once did when he and his wife first Fell.

But when his thoughts returned to Lilith, Lucifer hesitantly glanced to the side to see his wife staring down at Charlie with an unreadable expression as their daughter showed off picture after picture drawn in crayon. Lucifer wanted to squeal at his little girl’s enthusiasm and creativity, but the ice cold presence of the woman beside him almost made him shrink back. It erased the smile from his face before it could fully form, and his anxiety was quickly rising with every word Charlie spoke.

Lucifer couldn’t help but feel like he shouldn’t be here. Throughout Charlie’s life, Lilith had kept him and his daughter separated by telling her not to bother him because he was busy. He knew she was doing it for his own good. He was a shell of a man and would make a terrible father because of it. He wanted to spend time with his daughter. Whenever the Princess would wander into his study, especially when she was little, he would always spend that opportunity showing her what he was working on. Because those were the times she voluntarily chose to spend her time with him.

Lucifer did not want Charlie to go out of her way to be with him, especially when his wife had drilled it into his head over and over again that he was unfit to be a father. And when Lilith eventually came each and every time Charlie was with them to take her away, Lucifer would let her. He knew that the Queen was right. He was unfit to be a father, and keeping himself isolated from Charlie was for her own good. He would always berate himself after his wife and daughter left his workshop because he gave in and decided to spend time with Charlie when he knew that he would just do more harm than good by being next to her.

In this moment, Lucifer wasn’t in the Morningstar Castle. He was back in Heaven speaking with Sera, the High Seraphim. He wanted to help with creating the universe. He had such creative and imaginative ideas using the power of the archangels. But those ideas were deemed dangerous and disorderly. But one day, Lucifer got frustrated. He was tired of being forcibly put on the sideline when he wanted to create just as the other angels were. One day he pushed too hard with Sera Charlie was pushing too hard with Lilith and he his daughter was facing the consequences.

“You must stop this frivolous dream!” Lilith Sera grabbed Charlie’s Lucifer’s wrist, wrenching it away from the papers she was holding, much to the Princess’ shock. “You’re going to ruin everything, Charlie Lucifer!”

The scene before him was an exact mirror of one of the last conversations between Sera and Lucifer before his Fall. The colors around him were shifted as he felt his back hit the wall behind him. He brought his cane up and clenched onto it with white knuckles, holding it close to his chest in an unconscious effort to shield him from the memory replaying in front of him. His breath hitched when Lilith Sera told Charlie Lucifer to forget this crazy idea because it was going to upset the balance of Hell Earth.

Sera told Lucifer that she only cared about her realm and couldn’t afford to have these unreasonable ideas risk throwing it into chaos. She deeply cared for him, but his visions for the future were not made to exist in the new world they were creating. “Charlie, I love you, sweetie. But this little… redemption idea of yours is just not plausible. Now, please go to your room for a few minutes. I need to talk with your father.” The Princess’ lip trembled as she turned on her heel and ran out of the room, not even bothering to take the pictures she had drawn with her.

“Lucifer, what have you been telling her?” Lilith spun on her heel and almost glared at the King, who was shivering against the back wall. His snake-like eyes stared up at the towering woman as his knees trembled slightly for being put on the spot.

“I-I… I didn’t…”

“Luci, please listen to me,” Lilith’s voice became deceptively soft as she put her hands on her husband’s shoulders. She had to lower her voice to speak to him in times like this where he was too fragile and weak to be spoken to as a King. “Charlie’s idea is dangerous to her and to this kingdom. So please, do not put such… silly idea in her head.”

Lucifer looked down and twisted his trembling hands around his cane. It was his fault Charlie had just outlandish ideas. He needed to stay away from her, for her own good. His gaze landed on the silly artwork his daughter had done in crayon that were scattered across the floor. “I’m sorry, Lily…”

Chapter 80: Chapter 80

Chapter Text

Angie, baby. Why don’t you come home, amorcito~” a deceptively soft voice echoed through the phone Angel Dust had in his hand. He was walking down the street with a scrapped suitcase in one hand, a leash in another, and a third was holding the screaming phone in front of his face with a purse hanging off his shoulder. Valentino was getting desperate now. Ever since the moth heard that the spider had moved out of the apartment complex that belonged to the Vee’s to house their employees, he had been getting increasingly agitated.

Angel Dust could faintly hear the clicking of hooves against the pavement behind him as his new pet trotted behind him. Valentino bought him the pig as a gift in hopes of getting him to stay, but instead, Angel took the pig and left the apartments anyway. He didn’t care much for the animal; it was beyond the strangest pet he’s ever seen. But Angel took the animal anyway just to stick it to his boss.

There were a few times Angel would feel tugging on the leash he was holding and would have to consciously slow himself down because his long legs were too much for the pig to keep up with. And truthfully, the p*rn star was hurriedly walking down the street to get out of the Vee’s territory faster. Angel was tempted to just hand the swine over to his landlady or her crazy boyfriend when he got back to the apartment complex because he didn’t know if pets were allowed. Athena was pretty lenient, it seemed. At least so far. He still didn’t want to get on her bad side; this was the demon who defeated Valentino.

The string of voicemails was suddenly interrupted by an incoming call from his friend, Cherri Bomb. Angel eagerly waved away the voicemails in favor of the phone call. Anything to distract him from Valentino. “Hey, Cherri! Wassup, baby?”

“Angie, you bitch!” the spunky demon chastised him through the phone, but Angel could still hear the smile in her voice, and it was contagious. The spider’s face lit up as soon as her voice carried through the speaker, and he now felt in a much better mood. “I been texting you all f*ckin’ day! I thought you were off or some sh*t. We were gonna hit the club. You still owe me some shots, you nerd!”

“Ah, sorry, Cherri,” Angel replied unapologetically. He was just reminded of why he couldn’t go clubbing with his friend tonight, and it filled him with excitement. He was packing his stuff to move out of the Vee’s territory and get away from Val. Sometimes the moth would let himself into Angel’s apartment and help himself to the spider’s food, belongings, and his body. Angel tried changing the locks, but he got quite the beating from his boss the next work day and was forced to give Val a spare key to the new lock. But today, he finally had a taste of freedom, as small as it was. He was going to relish this freedom while he had it. “I was busy today, toots.”

“What the f*ck?! Did that dipsh*t Val make you work overtime again? Ya want me to f*ck up his turf or somethin’?” Cherri barked through the phone, thoroughly annoyed now.

“Nah, Cherri,” Angel twirled the end of the leash in his hand. “It’s great news, actually. I spent the day packin’ up my sh*t, and I got outta the Vee’s territory.”

The call was silent for a few minutes, but Angel was almost certain he could see the dumbstruck expression on his friend’s face. He knew that he was waiting for her brain to reboot and finally comprehend what he had said. “Are you sh*ttin’ me, Angie?”

“Nope,” Angel Dust’s face split into a cheeky grin as his pitch went higher in excitement. He felt something nudge his leg, and he looked down momentarily to see that the pig had headbutted the back of his foot and was now looking up at him curiously. If the p*rn star wasn’t already overcome with a different emotion, he probably would’ve cooed. Maybe he won’t let the landlady eat this pet afterall.

“WOOOO! f*ck YEAH, ANGIE!” Cherri shouted through the phone. Angel had to hold it away from his face for a few moments because the voice was blasting in his ear. Several demons on the street gave him weird looks, but he didn’t care. The reality of finally being somewhat free of Val was finally starting to hit him, and the spider was bouncing on the balls of his feet as he listened to Cherri excitedly attempt to bow out his eardrums. “WE’RE HITTIN’ THE CLUB, MOTHERf*ckER! WHERE THE NEW CRIB AT?”

“I’ll text ya the location,” Angel’s cheeks were starting to ache with how he was grinning so much. “I wanna unpack my sh*t first.”

“No f*ckin’ sh*t, bitch,” Cherri’s excitement was feeding off of Angel’s. She was indescribably happy that he finally managed to get his own place away from the Vee’s. Too many nights she had to sneak into the spider’s apartment late at night to comfort him after a bad work day or a bad withdrawal. And those were the days she couldn’t sneak him out to party or blow up a city block just for the hell of it. To hear that he was finally taking a step towards freedom from that moth was monumental, and she was absolutely over the moon.

Angel texted her the address of the new apartment complex, and Cherri swore she would’ve spat out a drink if she was having one. She looked it over twice, three times, and no matter how many times she looked, that address was unmistakable. Angel was living in the apartment complex belonging to the Radio Demon. “Hey, Angie? You sent me the right address, yeah?”

“Yeah? What’s up, toots?” Angel raised an eyebrow, now confused by her sudden change in tone.

“How in the ever lovin’ f*ck did ya get the Radio Demon to hide ya from Valentino?!” Cherri shouted through the line again, but luckily Angel Dust had reduced the volume so it wouldn’t hurt his ears and so demons on the street didn’t hear their conversation. He was still in the Media District, and many of the Sinners were on Val’s leash.

“Who the f*ck is the Radio Demon and why are ya treatin’ him like he’s such a big deal?” Angel raised an eyebrow and ushered his luggage and his new pet pig down an alleyway to get away from the other Sinners walking down the street. It would be a little longer of a walk, but at least he was out of sight from Val’s lackeys and Vox’s cameras.

“Angie, ya bitch. You ain’t ever heard of the Radio Demon before?” Cherri barked at him through the phone. “Even I ain’t stupid enough to f*ck with his turf. He’s been here since like the 1930’s or some sh*t. But he ain’t just an old fart. Legend says he made all other Overlords in his time disappear in a single night, and then this bitch broadcasted their screams on his radio show just to send a message to the other sad stupid bitches out there.”

Angel Dust blinked, now taking a moment to process that information. Now that she mentioned it, he had heard talk from the upper businessmen in Voxtech and some workers in Val’s studio about the Radio Demon. Apparently, he was Vox’s rival or something, and rumors going around the Tower said that the two of them had some serious beef with each other.

A few puzzle pieces finally started falling into place now that he was thinking about it. Angel may act stupid, but he’s been around Hell far longer than even most Overlords. The Radio Demon being rivals with Vox would certainly explain why his girlfriend was so eager to offer him a place to live. It would take away Val’s biggest cashcow and also provide them with inside details about the Vee’s and their business.

“Angie, I’m comin’ over to the apartment ta help ya unpack.”

Chapter 81: Chapter 81

Chapter Text

Rosie was quite frankly at a loss. She could tell that Alastor was truly distressed about the situation he was in. She could see him awkwardly fiddle with something underneath the sleeves of his coat, which is something she had never seen from him before. The Radio Demon was not known for being so anxious, so fidgety, so unsure of himself and his circ*mstances. But love had a way of changing people.

However, Rosie had to stop and ask herself if it was truly love. She had heard it from Alastor plenty of times, he didn’t feel that spark, that emotional connection, that romantic interest in Athena the way he wanted to. He wanted her to be the one for him and was angry and frustrated that she seemingly wasn’t.

She remembered what Alastor had told her when he first confessed to wanting to be with his business partner. He tried to kiss her, but she did not reciprocate. Even worse, she was disgusted at his attempts at courting. Or at least, Alastor thought she was disgusted. Rosie was not there to witness the event, so she did not know for sure. But what she did know was that there was more to the story than Alastor was letting on. And she didn’t think it was any fault of his own. The deer was obviously upset at the situation because he was so clueless about it. It was why he was visiting her in the first place.

Rosie took a moment to analyze what she knew about the relationship between Alastor and Athena. The two were business partners and have been for a very long time. The owl was the Radio Demon long before Alastor was, and it was how the two of them met. But something happened between the two of them that made them into business partners. She knew that Alastor went off in search of Athena precisely because of her reputation as the Radio Demon.

The Cannibal Overlord remembered that Alastor would make daily ventures to Athena’s territory to host her radio show with her. But then one day, Alastor came to Cannibal Town in quite a foul mood. He would rub his neck and growl under his breath, lip curling upwards and glaring at the ground. Rosie had assumed Athena had attacked him or provoked him because she was particularly quiet on air that day.

Rosie had to remind herself that the owl was very likely more powerful and dangerous than the deer was, and she knew that Alastor most likely would’ve tried to push his luck after being on her show for so long and not being killed like so many other demons who have trespassed in her territory. But the Cannibal Overlord had no way of knowing what exactly happened that day. She may not know the specifics about that night, but she knew that ever since then, Alastor and Athena were tied at the hip.

However, Rosie got the feeling that whatever had tied them together was an unpleasant or unwilling thing. Alastor was angered and frustrated beyond words when he visited the Cannibal Overlord that day, and she caught him rubbing his neck with a scowl several times. He was obviously unhappy with being near Athena after that incident, but over time, especially after she had them sit down and talk to each other in her emporium one day, the deer and owl started to become closer.

And when Rosie heard about what had happened in the Jackpot Casino, suddenly she saw Athena and Alastor enjoying each others’ company. If she didn’t know any better, she would’ve guessed that the two of them were a couple based on how they were acting with each other in the streets. And she knew that the possibility of two of them being romantically interested in each other was the talk of the town for weeks, especially here in Cannibal Town.

The entirety of Hell was abuzz with theories and rumors surrounding the confrontation between the Radio Demons and two of the Vee’s. Velvette, the newest addition to the media empire, was working overtime with damage control, or so Rosie had heard. Many of the ladies in her side of the Pentagram were dismayed at the idea that Alastor was taken by another woman, so the news had reached Rosie’s ears rather quickly.

The Cannibal Overlord took a moment to further study the man in front of her. Alastor was occasionally fiddling with something under the sleeves of his coat, almost like he had picked up a nervous habit. That alone was an alien thing to see. The Radio Demon was known to be charismatic and confident, but the deer sitting across from her looked so unsure of himself.

But she also picked up on how he would sometimes put his palm to his closed mouth with a faint blush on his cheeks as he stared off at the corner of the room, obviously zoning out with a fond look on his face. He was absolutely smitten with Athena, that much was obvious in his body language and expressions. But the problem was he didn’t think his feelings were strong enough to be considered romantic, and he didn’t think she felt any sort of romantic interest in him, either.

But the way he was chewing on the inside of his cheek and rubbing his mouth told Rosie that the two of them had kissed, and both of them had liked it. Or at least, Alastor had. The Cannibal Overlord still did not have all the pieces of the puzzle, and it frustrated her almost as much as it did Alastor. She wanted to have a talk with Athena herself to gauge her own emotions so she could determine how to help them with their relationship.

“Well, I think I’ve got the solution you need, sweetie!” Rosie clapped her hands together with a bright smile. The sudden movement made Alastor jump slightly, and the Cannibal Overlord had to suppress a snicker when she saw that. He was usually so attentive to everyone and everything around him, but in that moment, he was so lost in his own fantasies that he forgot where he was and who was sitting in front of him. Normally, Rosie would have scolded him for being so crass in public, but this was essentially his first love. She needed to be patient with him first.

“It’s perfectly fine if you don’t feel that spark,” Rosie folded her hands on her lap. “You said it yourself, you love being with her, and I think that’s a beautiful thing. Listen to your auntie Rosie for a second, hun. There is no textbook out there telling you how to live your afterlife with the people you care about. If you two want to spend time together, then send time together. If you two want to terrorize the Vee’s, then go terrorize the Vee’s. It doesn't have to be about romance or sex. And it sounds like neither of you two are interested in it anyway, so hey! That’s another thing you two have in common!”

“Hm,” Alastor tapped the microphone on his cane a few times in thought. It made sense to him, and the relationship between himself and Athena was certainly something he was enjoying now that they knew how to do so. And it was her who found a way for them to connect in such an intimate way. He admired his owner for her intelligence, and he could only imagine what sort of schemes she had planned today and in the near future. He was not completely oblivious to her voice during the morning broadcast. She had gone on a killing spree again, and he was looking forward to sitting next to her on the couch to help her unwind after a day of work.

Chapter 82: Chapter 82

Chapter Text

Athena almost couldn’t believe herself when she realized that after one hundred years in Hell, she has never interacted with a native. She and Millie were walking down the street towards the owl’s apartment complex back from the fighting ring that she had recently opened officially. The little limp was quite the chatterbox, and Athena didn’t know if it was because she was naturally talkative, or if it was solely because of her excitement.

“Oh man!” The imp shouted with glee, squeezing her cheeks together as she easily carried her hefty ax on her back. “Mama and pa are gonna be over the moon when they find out I finally got a place! And in Pride, too! Imps never get their own homes up here! But I wanted to move up here for a while, ya know? I’ve been takin’ on this babysittin’ gig ta save up money for my own place. I guess I can still keep doin’ it for some extra cash, I dunno.”

Athena knew she had shortcomings, and she knew that she had to correct those shortcomings as soon as possible, especially now that she was a public face. The days of her hiding in the shadows were over. And that meant she could not keep hiding behind Alastor and use him as a shield or as a red herring. She needed to know more about her powers and learn to fight. The majority of her kills had been sneak attacks while she was an owl, but that luxury was fading and it was fading fast.

“Uh… do you have any specific rules about livin’ at yer place, ma’am?” Millie looked up at Athena as they walked down the street, and the owl had to admit that this particular dynamic was a first for her. She was usually much shorter in comparison to everyone else she ever met. She never was very tall, even when she was alive. This more humanoid form Alastor had gifted her was around the same height as her height when she was alive, which was already rather miniscule, so most other Sinners were giants in comparison.

“Please, you need not worry about titles,” Athena waved a wing before folding it behind her back again. “You may call me Athena. And I do not have very strict rules regarding my complex. I only ask that you do not invoke trouble upon my establishment, which I believe is more than fair considering you are staying for free, all things considering.”

“Yeah, I gotcha,” Millie swung her ax in a single hand, and Athena caught herself studying the Imp’s hand movements. The weapon was comically disproportionate to Millie’s statue, and yet, she was handling it expertly. The imp was very fit, and her accent told the owl that she was a native of the Wrath Ring. She knew very little about the other Rings of Hell; Sinners were forbidden from leaving Pride due to an enchantment from the King himself.

However, after learning about how a pop singer named Verosika Mayday decided to use Husk’s casino as a springboard for her career, Athena decided to look more into the possibility of spreading her empire into the other Rings if possible. It had ever been done by a Sinner before, not even an Overlord, and she knew that it was greatly annoying Alastor.

Many of the natives would illegally upload his broadcasts in the other realms and make profit off of it rather than himself and Athena. The deer cared very little for money; however, he took personal offense to other demons stealing his work. And Athena knew the same thing was happening at Voxtech.

The Sinners and Hellborn were kept surprisingly separated from each other, and the owl had to assume that the reason the former were not allowed in the other Rings was to protect the natives. At least, that was her theory after meeting the King, Lucifer. He was not a malicious soul, but he was very emotionally and politically naive. This sort of error seemed rather characteristic of him.

She would like to spread her empire to the other Rings. Athena would be the first to admit that this newfound desire for more wealth and influence and power was born from her rapidly growing kingdom in Pentagram City. It had been over one hundred years since she landed in Hell, and in that time, she had been wasting her potential by only worrying about survival instead of enjoying her afterlife. Perhaps it was her conversation with Lucifer from a few days ago that sparked her new ambition.

Athena wanted more. More power and prestige, more to rule and more to conquer. Her ambition was a glass that was never full. The very moment she claimed one prize, she would strive for something greater. It made her temporarily wonder whether or not these prizes were worth it in the end because of her continuous pursuit of greater heights. However, hunger cannot be reasoned away, only temporarily satiated. And if she was being honest with herself, pursuing greatness was not the worst fate to be cursed with.

One of these days, she feared that she would want too much. She had done so when she was alive, and it was how her soul had ended up in Hell. She flew too close to the sun, and in the end, her wings melted and she fell from the sky, crashing into an ocean of eternal fire and brimstone. Her wings may be damaged, but they were not destroyed, and Athena’s visions of grandeur were now carried on the backs of those broken dreams as they steadily grew stronger with each new kingdom she conquered.

She wanted more power, so she needed to learn how to fight. Hiding behind Alastor was no longer a safe option. Millie was a very skilled fighter. Imps possess no such special powers that Sinners and Overlords do, so to see her climb the ranks of Athena’s most recent tournament was nothing short of impressive. The terms of their deal was that the owl would supply the imp with living quarters, and Millie would teach Athenaa how to fight.

The owl could not go to Carmine with such a request. The Weapons Overlord had her own hands full, and if she knew that the owl had a weakness, then it would be immediately exploited. Carmilla was strong and she was smarter than she seemed. Her stunt in the Radio Demon’s territory made Athena doubt the other demoness’ intelligence; however, she knew that the Overlord was acting on emotion rather than critical thinking.

Athena saw how Carmilla analyzed the owl and the deer during that confrontation. She was a skilled fighter, and she would no doubt be capable of exploiting any such weakness she can identify on the owl. Which is why Athena needed to erase any such weaknesses, and Millie was the key to that.

The imp didn’t seem too worried about Athena’s terms, which could imply she didn’t care, which was unlikely based on the owl’s judgment of her character. Millie was cheerful but not naive. However, Athena deliberately made the wording vague so she could use it to apply to any situation she wanted if need be.

There was no Soul Contract between the two of them; Imps do not have souls to bargain with. However, they did engage in legally binding contracts, which were enforced by ancient black magic infused into Hell eons ago, during the time of its creation. These legal contracts had the same hold as Soul Contracts, and she had heard that the reason one of the Seven Sins, Asmodeus, was so low on the totem pole in comparison to the other Sins was because he despised reading these contracts and would thus be roped into them.

Athena paused for a moment when she spotted three figures standing outside of her apartment complex front door. One of them was Angel Dust, who was carrying a ragged suitcase along with what appeared to be a pig on a leash. Another was Alastor, who was towering over them with a menacing aura and branching antlers. The third was unfamiliar to Athena, but the owl was more concerned with reigning in her pet before he ate the other two Sinners.

Chapter 83: Chapter 83

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“Alastor!” a familiar voice reached the deer’s ears, and he felt one of them twitch. In an instant, his entire interaction with Rosie replayed in his mind. His confession, his feelings, and her words in response to his plight as well as her words of encouragement. His bones snapped under his skin and his antlers retracted back into his skull as he shrank back down and melted into his shadow on the sidewalk.

With a faint yet possessive cry of a stag, he glided across the pavement towards his owner before manifesting from the ground behind her. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and leaned into her back. He and Athena were together, he didn’t care who knew anymore. In fact, he would be very tempted to broadcast their relationship to the entirety of Hell tomorrow morning.

Alastor would get to proudly announce that he was with the most powerful and cunning Sinner Hell had ever seen. He was her chosen favorite, and that was a privilege only he deserved. It would make the two of them become the talk of the town. Any society loved a good bit of gossip, and hearing two powerful Overlords were a couple was the juiciest gossip any Sinner could possibly hope for.

It would cause their ratings and audience to skyrocket as any and every demon in the Pride Ring would analyze their interactions behind the microphone to form their own theories for more gossip and more rumors. And it would cause Voxtech stock to plummet because their already damaged image was going to turn viewers away and encourage them to look into the rival media. It would piss Vox off significantly, which Alastor was all too eager to do.

He wanted to get inside of the apartment and he wanted inside now. But his owner was talking to the newcomer who was standing outside of their home along with the prostitute. And Alastor was now seeing the little Imp standing next to Athena on the sidewalk. She didn’t appear to be alarmed by him, which normally would have offended him, but Hellborn and Sinners are usually very distant from each other. It made him wonder why Athena was conversing with one. But he was sure that whatever the reason, it was all part of her plan.

“Angel Dust,” Athena spoke, narrowing her eyes at the two Sinners in front of her. The sight could’ve been more intimidating if Alastor was not clinging to her affectionately. “Would you mind explaining something to me?” The owl raised an eyebrow and directed her gaze towards the Sinner standing next to him.

“Oh uh, hi Athena!” Angel stepped in front of the other demon with a nervous grin. “This is my friend, Cherri Bomb. She uh… she’s here ta help me unpack!”

“Hey, Angie,” the newly named Cherri Bomb grabbed one of the spider’s arms and pulled him inside the complex. “A quick word, yeah?”

Athena waited for them to be out of sight before she snapped her fingers and pointed to the front entrance where Angel and Cherri just disappeared off to, and Alastor felt the tug of her chains circling around his neck and dancing around the cuffs under his sleeves. He understood without words what she wanted him to do, and he shuddered pleasantly when she gave him the silent order. Words were unnecessary between them now. He was the only one who could understand her, and she was the only one who could understand him.

The deer leaned in close to his owner, brushing his lips against her cheek and sighed breathlessly, “Of course~” he then melted into the shadows and dashed across the pavement towards the main hallway inside the apartment complex, where Angel and Cherri were having a hushed conversation. He hid in the darkness under the table to stay out of sight. He attentively listened to their banter and bickering as he curled in on himself with a delighted snicker.

“Look, Cherri,” Angel frantically waved, keeping his voice low, almost to a whisper. “I’m stayin’ here rent free, and I finally got a safe haven away from Val.”

“They’re both hella sketch, Angie,” Cherri had a much more difficult time keeping her voice to a whisper. “Givin’ ya a place away from the Vee’s rent free and with very little restrictions. Who’s ta say they don’t wanna use ya like Val did?”

“Neither o’ them are like that,” Angel argued. “Look, it ain’t my place to tell, but the two o’ those freaks are together, like together together.”

“Yeah, I could f*ckin’ see that outside,” Cherri barked at him. “That red f*cker wanted in the birdbrain’s pants so badly, I could practically smell it, yeah?”

Alastor felt himself tense up like a serpent coiling to strike. But he knew he had to remain calm. These two Sinners were part of his owner’s plans. He could come up with creative ways of punishing their disrespect at a later date.

“No, I mean…” Angel stuttered, not liking being put on the spot like this. “They want me to give them intel on the Vee’s from the inside.”

“Ya see that, Angie? They just wanna use you ta spy on Val. If Val catches ya, he will kill ya. I don’t mean he’ll f*ck you up. He will kill ya, mate.”

“I-I know, I know…” Angel looked down with a resigned expression. “But at this point… I just wanna get away from Val… I-I’m tired of him, Cherri. I’m just… I want to get away from him in any way I can. Bein’ here is my first taste o’ freedom in decades. And maybe if Val does catch me and… if he does get rid of me. Then I… there are some days I would rather be dead than keep workin’ for Valentino…”

Cherri’s face fell from frantic and worried to sorrowful and full of regret. She wrapped her arms around herself, and the two of them stood in tense silence in the hallway. Angel then felt something bump his leg, and he looked down to see the pet pig nudging him with his snout. The spider hesitated for a moment before picking up the animal. The pig licked Angel’s face, and the p*rn star giggled slightly.

“I was plannin’ on eatin’ ya, little guy,” Angel confessed to the swine. “But, I think I’ll keep ya around.”

“Well sh*t, I also thought ya just wanted to eat the thing, Angie,” Cherri perked up and started trotting down the hallway, now seemingly in a better mood. But Alastor knew that they were both trying to just move on from the painful conversation. It was honestly something he could respect. Wallowing in self-pity has no purpose other than wasting time. “Lemme find somethin’ in the fridge for us to munch on while ya unpack, yeah?”

Alastor’s shadow curled up with a grin. Interesting. Angel knew his purpose and knew the risks, and yet he still wanted to take Athena’s offer anyway. His owner sure knew how to pull the strings of those around her. She was taking advantage of the p*rn star’s desperation and eagerness to rebel against his master. Angel’s loyalty to Valentino was next to nonexistent because of his abusive nature.

All he did was take from his employees, and the only reason he had an empire to begin with was because the Sinners who made the foundation of it had no choice but to stay. But Alastor’s owner was different. Her very presence commanded loyalty and respect. She was the strongest Overlord in Hell, and it wasn’t because of her power.

Alastor was broken from his thoughts when Cherri Bomb yowled with disgust and anger, her cursed bouncing throughout the apartment complex, “WHAT THE f*ck!? WHY IS THERE A f*ckIN’ LEG IN THE f*ckIN’ FRIDGE!!”

The deer chortled through his shadows.

Chapter 84: Chapter 84

Chapter Text

“COME ON!” Blitz shouted at the front desk clerk and slammed his palms on the counter. However, the lynx Sinner looked entirely unfazed, and she continued running a nail filer over her claws with a bored expression, completely uninterested in the Imp’s temper tantrum. “What the f*ck do you want me to do, you f*ckin’ fursuit! I got the money, so register me, titty haver!”

The smaller demon was causing quite a ruckus at the front desk, but not many Sinners stopped to glance over at him. This was Hell; there was no such thing as quiet. And the one making the noise was a lowly Imp; he wasn’t worth their time.“You Wrathian can go crawl back to your Ring and find workout gyms there,” the receptionist sneered. “This establishment is for demons with actual careers ahead of them.”

Blitz snarled, a very animalistic and uncharacteristic sound to come out of him, but this bitch was making his already bad mood worse. His girlfriend Verosika was becoming more and more popular as a pop singer thanks to her performing in one of the Gambling Overlord’s casinos, and she now needed more bodyguards. He was not able to keep up with the demons actually qualified and trained to be bodyguards, so the Imp was stuck working further and further away from her. The succubus had the idea to employ Blitz as her bodyguard so he could have a job and they could be together, but because of her increasing success, they were drifting further apart, and it honestly scared the Imp.

He had to get better. He had to be better for his girlfriend. She was already out of his league because of the species difference, and now that she was becoming a popstar, it was truly only a matter of time before she excluded him from her life. After all, she now had all sorts of men throwing themselves at her feet. She could easily just forget about Blitz and go for someone else who actually had potential.

He was a nobody who couldn’t hold down a job unless he had personal connection to the boss. He needed to keep his job, and now that there was a new gym opening up in the Pride Ring, he had the chance to put on some muscle and do some training with other demons who actually were qualified to hold his job. He couldn’t go back to the Wrath Ring each time he needed to workout. And this gym was supposedly friendly to Hellborn. Or at least, he thought they were.

“Hey,” a sudden deep voice boomed behind Blitz. The little Imp froze and slowly turned around to see a towering Hellhound with dark gray fur. He was an absolute tank, muscles on top of muscles with a scar running down his left eye. A black workout tank top hung from his shoulders, and he leered at the Sinner with bared fangs. “Is there a problem, here?”

“Mind your own damn business, mutt,” the receptionist scowled, still not intimidated by the giant stature of the Hellhound. But she did look up from her nails, which was not a luxury she gave Blitz. She very visibly eyed the tall Hellborn up and down with amber, slitted eyes, obviously admiring the towering physique and muscular build. “I could have you two boys thrown out whenever I f*ckin’ wanted. Or…” she then licked her lips with a lecherous expression. “You can make it worth my while.”

Blitz was fully prepared to pounce over the desk and thrash the pompous Sinner, but a strong hand on his shoulder stopped him. “I don’t suppose the boss would like to hear about her receptionist trashing her name like this. I hear Overlord Athena cares more for her rep than her workers’ lives. What would she think about the receptionist at her newly opened gym turnin’ down customers without a reason, hm?”

The Sinner scoffed, completely nonchalant about the thinly veiled threat, “Pfft. As if Hellborns like you actually have access to the boss’s personal line. Now f*ck off before I actually do something about it.” She then made a show of kicking her feet onto the counter in front of them to act as a barrier between herself and the two other demons at her desk. She then pulled out her phone and started scrolling. What made it even more disrespectful was that the lynx had taken off her shoes and was now pointing her bare paws at them without a care in the world.

“Oh, no you don’t bitch,” Blitz snarled, practically vibrating under the Hellhound’s palm. The Imp looked up to see the taller demon punching a number into the rotary phone on the receptionist’s desk. The shorter of the two almost gaped; there was no way he had Overlord Athena’s personal number.

The lynx Sinner seemingly had the same thought, and she looked up from her mobile phone with a scoff, “I know that little trick. Gonna call a friend and pretend that they are the big boss to get me in trouble. Nice try, dog breath.”

The Hellhound wordlessly pointed to a sign next to the front desk, and it was a hotline to the Overlord’s work phone number. Many Sinners and Hellborn alike saw this poster and tried prank calling Athena more than once, but they quickly stopped once they found out her romantic partner, the Radio Demon, was able to follow signals through telephone lines and track down the poor demon stupid enough to annoy his girlfriend.

Nobody knew why she had given her work phone to the public. No other Overlord had done something like this. If any demon, Sinner or Hellborn wanted to get an Overlord’s attention, they would usually have to schedule an appointment, and even then the possibility of actually speaking to that Overlord was slim at best. She was known to be unusually tolerant of Hellborns, and she always had been from the moment she rose to power.

Some random and unknown Imp dominated Overlord Athena’s first tournament, and that demon was never punished for associating with Sinners, and she was never forbidden from entering any other tournaments nor was she barred from the other establishments associated with the Overlord. She was rumored to be close friends with Overlord Husk, who had opened casinos that were at first, not welcoming of any Hellborn because of the strict legal contract demanding any demon wager their soul to enter. However, after updating the rules of his business, Hellborn were allowed inside but just under a different contract because they didn’t have a soul to sell.

But even that rule change happened after Overlord Athena first appeared. She was first spotted with her now partner Overlord Alastor while the two of them were at one of Overlord Husk’s casinos one night. Two of the Vee’s, Overlords Vox and Valentino, had arrived at the establishment to pick a fight, but they lost spectacularly. Ever since then, the entirety of the Pride Ring became fixated on this mysterious bird Sinner. And coincidentally, Verosika Mayday debuted as a pop singer at one of Overlord Husk’s casinos.

The reason behind Overlord Athena’s seeming fondness for Hellborn was unknown, but the Hellhound dialing her work number was sure as hell going to take advantage of it. And as soon as the lynx Sinner glanced at what he was pointing at, she finally gained a different emotion on her face other than boredom. Her expression turned frantic as she lunged for the phone, and the Hellhound comically held it above her head. Blitz didn’t really know what to expect from Overlord Athena, but a slightly irritated voice is not what he expected. “Now who is calling me at this hour?”

Chapter 85: Chapter 85

Notes:

warning: athena eats alastor again

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

“I do not like having to take off so many pieces of clothing just so I can have my venison, my deer,” Athena scolded with a soft voice against Alastor’s neck as she unbuttoned his striped vest. She ran her tongue across his skin as she pulled the wine red coat down from his shoulders.

“Please hold your gluttonous thoughts, my love. I need to make us breakfast,” Alastor gasped and leaned back on the couch while he gripped her shoulders for some stability. He felt his tail start wagging as soon as it was free from the confines of the coat.

Athena growled and moved her now free hands to his hips before easily lifting him up off the couch. It was surely an awkward sight because of their height difference, but the owl had been training with Millie on a daily basis over the past few months and was capable of heavy lifting. And Alastor was much lighter than he looked. She nipped his now bare chest and listened to the cervine purr rumbling in his chest. She dropped him onto the kitchen counter with a smirk, not letting go of his hips, “But my breakfast is sitting right in front of me~”

Alastor choked back a squeak and curled over her so that his face was buried in the feathers on her head. He felt her pulling him closer by wrapping an arm around his waist and using her now free hand to draw a line down his chest and down his abdomen with a single black claw. A small trickle of blood followed, and she easily lapped it up, much to Alastor’s delight. Her other hand caressed his tail, and she laughed softly when she felt him press his lips to the crown of her head.

She glanced behind him at the tuft of red, black, and white fur for a moment to see a white heart-shaped spot bordered with black on the red part of his tail. Sinners owned by Overlords have some physical trait on them marking them as owned. Athena gad always forbade Alastor from showing his tail in public because her ownership over him was something for them and them only.

Athena hummed and leaned up to sink her fangs in the skin on the crook of his neck, and the sound of Alastor’s pleased moans hit her ears. The owl eagerly ran her tongue across the wound and lapped up any drop of blood that spilled into her mouth. She then felt her pet deer start relaxing in her hold when she moved her hands up to his ears to gently caress them.

Athena took a moment to think back to how they were when they first met. Alastor had broken into her radio tower out of the blue to discover her weakness and her secret, and she made a Soul Contract with him to survive. And ever since then, he had been fighting to escape the chains she had put on him but not through his new power. He was fighting her by creating various twisted and cunning schemes in an effort to outsmart her, and he won quite a few times. But the battles he won were not enough to win the war, and in the end, Athena got what she wanted.

She had a pet so hopelessly brainwashed that he was not only tolerating her chains but was now craving it. He was craving her control and he was craving her. Athena was immensely proud of herself for twisting him into something so obedient and loyal, and that warmth filled her soul with glee and satisfaction. Just being near her pet deer did wonders to improve her mood. He was her greatest conquest in life and in death. Just thinking of what he once was and what he has now become because of her made his blood taste so much sweeter.

Athena’s ear perked up and twisted around to the sound of her rotary phone ringing in the corner of the living room area. She growled in irritation and planned to ignore it, but after it rang a second and then a third time, she hissed and pushed herself off of Alastor. “Somebody better be either dead or dying,” she grumbled, good mood now soured. But the deer wrapped his legs around her waist and stopped her from leaving him and crossing the room to her phone.

“Owner, whoever is calling you is not worth your time,” Alastor breathed against her ear. He nipped her cheek before sinking his fangs into the skin under her white feathers. She snarled and yanked his ear back to pull him away from her face, and he let out a small moan.

Athena pulled his sleeves back to reveal the angelic cuffs around his wrists before binding them together with her dark green chain and then pinning it to the counter above his head. She then manifested another chain and threw it out to wrap around the base of the small table holding the still ringing phone before pulling it towards her. She felt Alastor shudder underneath her as he remained trapped laying back on the kitchen counter. “You can be quiet, can you not, my pet?”

Alastor bit his lip and nodded when he felt the ghost of her leash tighten around his throat. She chuckled and moved herself to sit on the counter, straddling his waist to hold him still. She smirked down at him and caressed his ear, making him melt into the granite below him with a soft moan. “Oh, it doesn’t look like you can,” she snickered, subtly challenging him. And just as Athena predicted, Alastor took the bait and leaned his head back further into her hand before shooting her a sultry look through half-lidded eyes, daring her to try forcing a sound out of him again.

Athena picked up the handle of the phone and put it to her ear, “Now who is calling me at this hour?” She then ran a blood-soaked claw down Alastor’s body, going from his sternum to the bottom of his abdomen, easily slicing through his skin and exposing the flesh and bone underneath. He sucked in a breath and visibly swallowed thickly, much to Athena’s amusem*nt.

“Lord Athena?” the voice on the other end of the line began. “My name is Vortex. I’m calling from the Owl-Mighty Gym in the Doomsday District-” Athena heard Alastor give a static snicker at the corny pun under her. She used her one free hand to force the slash on his abdomen open so that his organs were on full display to her. “The front desk receptionist is refusing service to myself and a friend of mine. I have been coming here for months, and my friend wants to buy a membership.”

Athena hummed as she ran through her memories while the hand not holding the phone slid past the lining of short but thick fur on Alastor’s chest. The worker at the front desk was a Sinner she owned, and she was a recent hire who was supposed to run reception. She was the most useless of the souls she had in her employ, so the owl had the lynx on the front desk because it was so easy even a trained animal could do it. She didn’t want to waste any actually talented employees on something so mundane.

“Hm. I take it you are calling because there is no valid reason she is refusing you service?” Athena absentmindedly followed the complaint as she buried her hand into the abdomen of the deer beneath her. He squirmed slightly, and so Athena tightened the chain binding his wrists by a single link in warning.

“She seems to have some bias against Hellborns,” Vortex replied through the phone. He cut straight through the small talk and didn’t waste any of her time, which Athena was appreciative of. This demon seemed relatively straightforward, so she doubted he was lying. However, the one way to determine if he wasn’t just trying to play a prank on her by feeding her false information in an attempt to get her to punish the receptionist for no reason was to ask the receptionist herself. She was not capable of keeping a cool head, so it was unlikely she would be able to lie to Athena without it being obvious.

“I see,” the owl mused as she poked a hole in Alastor’s exposed lung with her claw, and he then arched his back with a strangled cough as he started choking on his own blood. His eyes rolled back and bubbly blood splurted from his grinning lips. “Do me a favor, Vortex and put my employee on the phone?”

In the next instant, a frantic voice started spewing nonsense to Athena, and she grumbled and put the phone on the counter to let the stupid Sinner run out of steam. The owl pried open the wound running down Alastor’s abdomen with her claws and leaned down to bury her face in the bloody wound. The red was quickly spilling across the counter and was leaking onto the floor. She pulled out a intestine with her fangs and gulped it down one mouthful at a time and had to shake her head a few times to tear the organ out of his body.

Athena had to give Alastor credit: he was being remarkably quiet. But she looked up at his face and saw that he was just barely holding back his sounds. His fangs were digging into his bottom lip with enough force to make blood gush out of the wounds. His eyes were clenched shut, and he was panting through his nose.But even as the owl was having her meal, she could hear the receptionist flailing for an excuse, obviously flustered and frightened. And that told Athena all she needed to know. The lynx Sinner was tripping over herself trying to justify the behavior Vortex described, and she was only digging the hole deeper.

“B-But, Lord Athena. These Hellborn have no right to be here-! They can just… go to the Wrath Ring!”

“Let me make one thing very clear to you,” the owl cooed condescendingly into the phone. She couldn’t be bothered to remember the receptionist’s name. “Those customers are above you. Sinners without ownership of their souls have no rights,” Athena snarled with a feral grin as she licked her lips, hungrily lapping up the scarlet dribbling down her chin as she stared down at her meal with glowing green eyes. Alastor shuddered beneath her as she said those words and tugged at the restraints on his wrists. She hung up the phone with a smirk and leaned down to press her lips to her pet deer’s with a low moan.

Notes:

chapter summary: athena gets a call from her fitness center while she's trying to enjoy her food. she responds to the complaint while eating her breakfast venison

Chapter 86: Chapter 86

Chapter Text

Lucifer was conflicted. It was certainly nothing new, and he was well aware of it. Charlie was going to continue with her plans for her rehabilitation center for demons. No matter how many times he repeated that sentence to himself, it was still an unfathomable concept. He knew that Athena was the one who gave his daughter the idea for such a thing, so he wanted to pick her brain some more. He didn’t get the chance last time, and he remembered that when she flew away, the first thing he did was kick himself because he forgot to get an answer out of her to the first question he asked at the beginning of their interaction.

He wanted to know what she was planning. Based on their conversation, the owl had grand machinations for Hell. If she was trying to influence the King himself, then she must have something planned. Lucifer was no stranger to manipulation. He was instantly able to recognize that this Sinner wanted to use him in some way, and he was fairly certain she was using Charlie in some way, as well. He just needed to know how.

However, the difficult part now was just finding out how to get in contact with her. After she left the castle the day he spoke with her, he went back to that balcony every day at around the same time waiting for something. If she was having regular meetings with his daughter, then surely they must’ve had a schedule. But no matter how many days she waited, she didn’t come back. Lucifer was tempted more than once to leave his castle, but he was ashamed to say he was awfully against stepping out into his kingdom.

It felt like he was intruding on someone else’s land just from being on the balcony and watching the chaos beneath him. He was a King who felt out of place in his own kingdom. Even just calling himself a king felt wrong. He was a ringleader of a freak show, not the ruler of Hell. His wife was the real royalty, and he was chained to his castle like an accessory. It was a worse fate than what he was condemned to before. Because at least when Lilith wanted him around, he found comfort in the idea that he could be useful as a bed warmer.

After Charlie was born, Lucifer felt a burst of energy so old to him it was almost foreign. In the days leading up to and the days that followed his daughter’s birth, the King started spending more time in his workshop crafting decorations for the nursery, toys for her when she got older, and he even made a few cute outfits for his little girl when he had some free time. His favorite creation was a duck onesie he made for Charlie when she was still a baby. She had long since grown out of it, but he kept it in a drawer in his room. Charlie wanted to burn it after she decided to dye her hair black, but Lucifer was able to save it at least when the Princess went on a rampage destroying her baby stuff.

He loved his daughter, and he loved her very much. But he does not want to relive her teen years. Lucifer was very often the villain during their exchanges. If Charlie was about to do something stupid, then he was the first one to step in and tell her no. But every exchange went the same. Lucifer would put his foot down, Charlie would go crying to her mother, and then Lilith would scold and vilify him. He eventually stopped trying and would instead start pouring his sorrows and frustrations into his mundane creations in the workshop.

His time away from his family started as a sudden spark of hope and happiness after his daughter was born. He spent more time in his workshop working on toys and inventions for Charlie, and it all became worth it whenever he would see his little girl’s face light up at the sight of one of her father’s creations.

But Lucifer noticed something uniquely chilling. On the days he would stay up late working in his shop, he would come to his shared bedroom with his wife to see that she had taken up all of the bed instead of sleeping on one side of it. It was nothing alarming at first, but after a few weeks of consistently spending the night in his study instead of in his bed with his wife, Lucifer realized that she was getting used to sleeping without him. It was his fault for staying away from her for so long, and he didn’t realize his error until it was too late.

He ignored his family in Hell for his ridiculous creations, just like he ignored his family in Heaven for his ridiculous dreams. And now, both his wife and his daughter resented him. Lucifer had spent many nights crying himself to sleep after he made that realization. The one shining light in this realm of darkness and despair was gone because of his own shortcomings yet again. He had spiraled after that; never leaving the castle anymore and almost never leaving his workshop for that matter.

Lucifer wanted to leave the castle a few times over the past hundred years. He wanted to be there for his wife while she commanded the kingdom he was supposed to be ruling, he wanted to be there for his daughter during the rough patches of her childhood and teenage years. He wanted to be a husband and a father, and he wanted to be a King. But he wasn’t good enough.

He wanted to speak to Athena again. There was something about that conversation she had with him that made his mind and emotions clear for the first time in what felt like decades. It felt like a weight was lifted off of him when that silly little bird entertained his sense of humor, and he finally felt like there was a light at the end of the tunnel after thousands of years of being alone. But he just had to figure out how to find her. And he also didn’t want to make it seem like he was desperate to talk to her again, so searching the entirety of Hell himself was out of the question.

Lucifer could ask Charlie, but he decided that he had done enough to hurt her already, so he was going to stay as far away from her as possible. If she wanted to see him, then he would be more than ready and willing to help her with whatever she needed. But until then, he would be a father the only way he could and keep his distance. Asking Lilith was also out of the question. He hadn’t spoken to his wife in months now, and whenever he stood outside their (her) room now, he felt like he shouldn’t be there. But then the realization hit him.

Charlie had told him in that brief conversation they had about her borrowing the family vacation home that Razzle and Dazzle were friends with Athena. They could look for her. He picked up his phone and punched in his daughter’s number but then hesitated. He had just vowed to stay away from Charlie, and now he was about to contact her for a favor. The King almost threw the device against the wall in frustration as he felt tears welling up in his eyes. He was such a f*cking screw up.

Lucifer quickly composed himself and tried to think of another possible approach. Maybe he could just swing by the vacation home Charlie wants to turn into a rehabilitation center. Surely Razzle and Dazzle are there. But then if he pulls them away from his daughter, then it would inconvenience her because she even told him that she was going to be relying on their help to remodel the building. He groaned and felt a headache start building behind his eyes. He had yet another sleepless night, and the insomnia was really taking its toll on him because of the sudden stress.

But then he realized something. He at first thought Athena was a regular Hellborn animal because of her appearance. And Lucifer was fully capable of shapeshifting. He could search for her without letting any other demon know he was even there.

Chapter 87: Chapter 87

Chapter Text

Lucifer didn’t know what to expect when he stepped out of his castle for the first time in centuries. He had seen many tragedies and atrocities from the balcony attached to his workshop, but it was different seeing it up close like this. The streets were littered with weapons and corpses and remnants of drugs like needles and bongs. There was a fair amount of violence, both bloody and sexual, happening within eyeshot at all times at all hours.

The King took a moment to sit perched on the ledge of a building. He had been flying around the Pentagram for hours looking for Athena disguised as a small bird. The top hat still remained on his head, and he didn’t know if that alone would reveal his identity as the King of Hell, but a few demons spotted him flying around but didn’t react or say anything. They either didn’t know or didn’t care. Whatever it was, Lucifer was safely combing through the city.

He had to admit that he had gotten carried away watching the Sinners run rampant in the streets. It really made his heart ache to see the consequences of him giving Eve the Fruit of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden so many years ago. He was quickly spiraling as he watched the souls indulge in evil and cause chaos because every single terrible thing that they did was because of him. Lucifer had to take a moment to escape it all just for a moment. He wanted to go back home; seeing all of this so close and so suddenly was starting to become overwhelming.

But there was something stopping him from breaking down right then and there on the roof of the building he was perched on. There was an ominous presence looming over him. It was eldritch and ancient, almost as old if not older than him. Lucifer vaguely recognized this presence. It was everywhere in Hell, and it was one of the reasons he had locked himself away in his castle thousands of years ago. Whatever it was, it was unable to enter his home and it was unable to enter the vacation home he had lent to Charlie to become her rehabilitation center for demons.

Lucifer was only able to realize it now, but that evil presence had grown more powerful, much more powerful in the thousands of years since he last encountered it. Locked away in his castle, almost nothing was able to enter it. None of his self-made demons could follow him into his home. It was why he never left. None of the Sinners he was responsible for could bother him, and the family he neglected kept their distance.

The King of Hell slowly turned around to see giant blood-red eyes staring at him. Black shadow tendrils danced around his feet and curled around the eyes as they looked at him and only him. The eyes could easily be confused as decorations in the dirty brick, but the overwhelming pressure from their existence made Lucifer feel paralyzed in place. They didn’t move, they didn’t look sentient, but they felt alive.

Lucifer wanted nothing more than to retreat to his study and never dare to venture out of the castle walls again. He felt his feet take a tentative step back as his slitted eyes kept watching the blood-red gaze of this ancient evil. He was almost too scared to turn his back to this thing.

He hated his kingdom. He hated it so much.

The King jumped back off of the ledge of the building and started flying away. He forced himself not to look back at the numerous eyes staring wordlessly at him as he soared over the streets of the Pentagram. Even as he got further away from the building, he still felt those eyes watching him. It made him want to teleport back to his castle and crawl under a weighted blanket.

Lucifer felt far too frazzled to keep searching for Athena. She had some good advice, but he didn’t know what she could possibly say to make him feel better about anything, especially after being so close to that thing that was watching him. In trying to ground himself from an anxiety attack, Lucifer noticed something odd. At least, odd to him.

Several of the fights going on between Sinners on the street was just bloodier rough-housing. And if he stuck around long enough, the winner would sometimes help the other guy to his feet before walking down the sidewalk as if they just left a bar. It made Lucifer think he had temporarily gone mental, and that was a very easy thing for him to believe considering the sleepless nights and the wallowing in self-pity for hours on end.

As much as he wanted to go back to the castle and hide under a pile of rubber ducks, he was also interested in this weird dynamic on the streets. Last time he checked, Hell was an unforgiving and savage wasteland full of nothing but filth and depravity. There was no such thing as comradery here. What happened to make these vile Sinners… mellow out? Did Charlie get started with her rehabilitation project already? But there was no way she made such progress in just the few months since she talked to him and his wife about it.

Now Lucifer just wanted answers. The strange and terrifying encounter with that thing was in the back of his mind at the moment, but that part of his brain was still registering that ominous gaze following him wherever he went. But he wanted to put that behind him and focus on this anomaly. Hell was still a sh*thole. Sinners and Hellborn alike were running rampant through the streets, but it was not entirely malicious.

He continued to soar over the streets of Hell until he came across a crowd standing in front of a window on the street as if they were watching something. But when Lucifer perched on a lamppost across the street so he could see what they were looking at, he saw that they were watching an old vintage radio as if it was a television screen. In fact, there were several screens on display in a store literally right next to them, but they were more interested in the radio. Lucifer co*cked his head as he watched them. Perhaps that was why these Sinners have been so mellow. Their heads were screwed on wrong.

But then several of them started cheering after an announcement like they were watching sports or something. A few of them handed money to others like they had just lost a bet. Lucifer dared to creep closer so he could hear what was going on, and he heard some sort of announcer voice echoing through the radio. And whoever he was, he was describing in detail what sounded like a cage fight.

Lucifer then had a thought when he realized why Sinners were gathered in front of the radio. Come to think of it, there were also several Hellborn demons standing with the Sinners listening to that rust bucket. Last time he checked, those two groups rarely wanted anything to do with each other. It was why he prohibited Sinners from going to the other Rings in the first place; he didn’t want them intruding on the Hellborn’s day to day lives. But now they were all chummy with each other. Well, not completely, but the city didn’t look separated like it once was.

These demons were gathered in front of the radio to listen to some kind of broadcasted sport. Maybe several more were in bars or other establishments listening in. But what really piqued his interest was the talk from them after the show was over. Just as he thought, Sinners and Hellborn went their separate ways. He decided to follow the conversation between two Imps, and what he heard was… interesting.

Chapter 88: Chapter 88

Chapter Text

Lucifer hovered out of sight but within earshot as he listened in on the Imps’ conversation. He was more interested in what they had to say since they were lower on the totem pole in terms of power. Sinners often talked big game around Hellborns because they knew that they were more important in a way. And what he heard was rather interesting.

“Holy sh*t, Millie did it again,” the taller of the two snickered. Lucifer decided to call this guy Imp One since he didn’t have the name. “She’s been wreaking havoc on Overlord Athena’s tournaments for months now.”

Overlord Athena? Is that what he said? Lucifer was not aware that there were social titles within the community of Sinners. He had been absent from his kingdom for generations, so he was interested to know what this new ranking system was in his Ring.

“Glad to see one of us is tearin’ those pompous Sinners a new one,” Imp Two smirked and flexed his arm. “What I would give to have a chance to thrash some of ‘em in the arena.”

So this Millie character was an Imp, and Athena was the owner of some sort of arena where fight tournaments were held. And if Athena was the one in charge, then that meant she was greenlighting boxing matches that included Hellborn and Sinners alike. If these were separate events that only allowed Sinner in one tournament and Hellborn in another, then Millie wouldn’t have been beating the stronger demons the way she supposedly is doing. Several questions got answered, but now Lucifer had more questions.

It seemed that Millie tearing through Athena’s tournaments was still a new thing, otherwise those Imps wouldn’t be speaking about it like it’s the talk of the town. So either Hellborns entering Sinner combat contests recently or Athena was recently opening her combat contests in general. And she had achieved a status known as “Overlord”. Lucifer doubted it was an official ranking system, if it was, then that would mean she would be above other Sinners in terms of power. But based on what he sensed when she came to the castle, she was no stronger than even an Imp, so this Overlord status was most likely a societal title.

“Fat f*ckin’ chance,” Imp One jabbed the other demon with a friendly elbow. “You’d get your ass slaughtered in the tourney. And I wouldn’t even mourn ya because your dumbass woulda had it comin’.”

“Hey! I made it farther than you in the Pain Games, so you’d better watch it!” Imp Two snapped. Lucifer remembered mention of the Pain Games from Satan during a meeting with the other Sins. At the time, he was glad he enforced the law prohibiting Sinners from entering the other Rings. Based on what the Prince of Wrath had told him and the other Sins, Sinners would destroy Imps during the Pain Games.

He had some answers, but now he just wanted to know more. More about his kingdom and his people. It had been a long time since Lucifer referred to them as anything other than trash or filth. This was the first time he felt something other than disgust towards the demons in his realm, and he wanted to keep it that way for at least a little longer. Now, he was curious. He had been locked away from Hell for so long already.

He was more determined to talk to Athena now. She was a very old soul. Still infantile compared to him, but relatively more experienced than demons of her caliber. If she had a high social rank within the community of Sinners, then she must be very knowledgeable with Hell’s politics and economy. Lucifer now knew that she was in charge of some sort of combat arena. Now he just needed to find out where.

"And there is your earnings for today,” Athena slapped a few bucks into Millie’s palm before pocketing the rest.

The Imp briefly flipped through the money to see that the small slips of paper held a lot of income. These were high bills, and she was holding easily over two thousand in cash. “Wait… What’s with all this? I didn’t earn this much.”

The owl co*cked an eyebrow with a smirk. Millie was an honest and hardworking demon. Such a thing sounded ludicrous, but she came from a family of farmers, and people who work in that profession often valued genuine drive, which was something Athena could respect. It was a fine life, but not one that would suit her. Family men often focused the entirety of their livelihoods on their children and providing for them. It was noble, but Athena wanted more than just survival for her and the souls in her care. She wanted to thrive.

“Yes, you did,” Athena replied. “It is as I told you, you earn what you bring in. You’re steadily becoming much more popular in my arena. I would hate for you to kick the bucket so early because of something as silly as fatigue. So why don’t you get some rest back at your family’s farm and buy your old folks something with the money from your raise. I’ll see you back here next week for the Championship.”

In the next instant, Millie’s face lit up. She started bouncing on the balls of her feet in excitement as she hurriedly tripped over words of gratitude before speeding out of the office. Athena chuckled to herself slightly before. That demon wore her heart on her sleeve and was a ball of energy at times. She rather reminded the owl of Charlie in a sense. She briefly wondered what would happen if the two of them were left in a room somewhere.

However, she had no time nor interest in entertaining that scenario. Being an Overlord meant paperwork, and Athena had half a mind to hire one because she really felt like she did not possess the mental fortitude for this nonsense. But her empire was expanding, and she needed to seriously manage her finances now that she had so many employees and was planning on expanding her establishments to various locations throughout Hell.

Athena took a moment to remember Alastor had given her a packed lunch to help her get through this dreaded paperwork. She was considering giving him more power over the radio tower to relieve some of the stress headache pressing against her skull at all hours of the day, but she knew better than to give her pet deer any more power. Give him too much, and he starts to think he is becoming stronger than her. And that sort of illusion can inspire a revolt. She had to keep the illusion of control. The only reason Alastor doesn’t force himself out of her chains when she ties him down to eat him was because of decades of psychological and physical conditioning, and Athena was not about to let that fall through her claws.

The owl unpacked the lunch to see slices of cajun blackened meat. She didn’t know what kind of meat he had given her, but it was not venison. The smell was not the same. But it was something familiar, something she hadn’t smelled since her days on Earth. Athena stabbed a piece with a single claw before tossing it into her mouth, carefully considering the flavor. It was catfish, her favorite food. She doubted he knew, but she was about to let him find out when she got home after work. But there was something off about the flavor. She licked her lips before swallowing. It was probably some sort of spice he was using. He was the culinary expert, not her.

Chapter 89: Chapter 89

Chapter Text

Athena went through her paperwork, she occasionally threw bits of the food in the packed lunch Alastor had given her. But a few minutes before she brought the final slice up to her lips, she felt her abdomen start tensing up. Her stomach had been rumbling somewhat uncomfortably for a few minutes now, but now it was starting to cramp and her head was starting to feel fuzzy.

She stood up and felt a wave of nausea at the sudden movement. She sat back down and brought the slice of catfish to her nose. Had it been tampered with? She couldn’t smell anything out of the ordinary. There was the usual scent of grilled meat along with several spices she couldn’t exactly identify. Either there was some kind of undetectable poison on the fish, or it was able to be detected, but she couldn’t do it because of her lack of experience in the kitchen.

Suddenly, the pieces fell into place. Alastor knew Athena had no culinary skills, and she knew that he was an expert. He could have easily slipped something into her food, and she would have no way of knowing because to her, nothing would be out of the ordinary. And she trusted him to handle cooking because she was no good at it, which would encourage her to keep eating if it was poisoned.

With this new revelation, Athena hummed and ran her palms down her throat, her chest, her abdomen, as she felt the toxins making her blood boil and her heart drum heavily and quickly against her rapidly tightening chest. She cackled as she fell to the floor behind her desk, coughing roughly next to her chair.

She had been letting her guard down a bit too much, it seemed. Alastor got her again. As Athena lay on the floor, she curled up and felt the poison wreaking havoc on her system. To any normal person, this would have killed them. But there is no sweet release of death in Hell. She didn’t know what poison he used, so she didn’t know of an antidote nor did she know of any way to relieve the pain. Such a brilliant move on her pet deer’s part.

It was a strange sensation. The agony was physical, but there was something else flooding her system that was indirectly brought on by the poison. With every pained convulse of her muscles, she saw his face. She thought of him and what he did to her every time her vision went blurry or her headache spiked. Only he was capable of inflicting this kind of pain onto her. Only he was worthy of seeing her twitch with torment on the floor of her own office. But he wasn’t here to see her and to see his plan come together.

It was euphoria Athena was feeling. Every time the poison attacked another part of her body, she felt a rush of pleasure shoot down her spine. This was yet another product of their twisted games. Only this time, it was no longer about Alastor trying to escape his Contract. Athena had already won that war. But now the deer was starting a new one. If he wanted her dead, then he would have done something like slip angelic blade shavings into her food. But instead, it was a common but deadly poison. Alastor knew that this wouldn’t kill Athena, but his goal wasn’t to kill anymore. It was to inflict pain onto her because he was the only one who could.

Athena gave several choked laughs as she gripped the leg of the desk. She wanted to be home, but at the same time, she was glad she wasn’t. If she was home, then Alastor would be seeing her at this moment of weakness, and that was unacceptable. But at the same time, she could only imagine the look on his face as he gazed down at her pathetic and shivering form on the ground.

He would probably laugh and stomp her skull into the ground as revenge for her shoving his face against the floor by his antlers. He would probably use his shadow tendrils to tie her down and carve out her organs and peel the flesh from her bones just as she had done.

A knock on her door pulled Athena from her thoughts. She suddenly realized she was on the floor of her office. The owl grumbled and reached up to grasp the edge of the desk before hoisting herself back into her swivel chair. Her stomach was still twisting painfully, and the headache had not yet receded. However, she had to keep up appearances. “Enter.”

Athena picked up the feather quill and started going through her documents again. But when she caught sight of who had come through the door, she almost dropped it again. The owl was not usually caught off guard. In fact, she was able to remember each and every moment it happened because she was lucky to have her soul intact after each incident.

King Lucifer walked through the door, cane tapping the floor as his red slitted eyes glanced around at the décor. If he didn’t know any better, he would have thought he had stepped into the forest. The windows had been sealed shut, so the only sources of light were the acid green flames in her office, and the gentle and soft glow of the natural light gave the aura of a scene pulled straight from nature. But those green flames were not natural, at least not in the Pride Ring. Fire within this Ring was colored red, so this green fire must be from Athena’s own power.

Sinners were capable of certain abilities that varied based on how they lived and how they died on Earth. So Athena having some sort of fire affinity possibly meant she had not pleasant experiences with fire when she was alive. She might have suffered a severe burn, and she could have even died from a fire. Lucifer was not certain. He had no way of knowing the life of a demon in his kingdom, but there were several indicators that gave him clues. Their death mark, for instance, hinted at what had killed them and where the fatal wound was inflicted. Lucifer was able to sense these marks, but Athena didn’t have one, which was strange.

The sources of light were these unusually colored flames sitting in parts of her office. One was coming from a candle sitting at the circular desk in the back corner of the room and the other was a large fireplace that was glowing with light green fire behind an intricate olive tree pattern. The corners of the room were large and thick tree trunks that stretched from the floor to the ceiling with branches stretching out around the tops of the walls with dreamcatchers woven with the delicate and beautiful designs of a spider web with deer skin and owl feathers.

An old rotary phone with a heart-shaped base and decorated with gold trim and feather-like speaker and microphone sat in the corner of her desk next to a stack of papers and a few small shelves for organizing folders. And perched on a shelf next to the door was a cathedral radio with red wood with black branch patterns carved into the sides and what looked like a grinning face on the front where the sound was coming from. The wall behind Athena’s desk were shelves of filing cabinet drawers and books neatly lined up. The desk itself was made from the same wood as the large trunks taking the places of the corners of the room, making the piece of furniture fit into the aesthetic of the décor.

Lucifer had to question why this entire office was so old fashioned. Even the radio and the phone looked like they were pulled from an antique shop. There were no computers, no artificial light, not even air conditioning. One would think that the large fire burning in the pit in one of the walls would make this room unbearable hot, especially since there were no vents or windows, it was bound to be as hot as a furnace. But it wasn't any hotter in the office as it was outside of it. If anything, it was colder in there.

If anything, it solidified that idea that Athena was an old soul, most likely around one hundred years or older. The King was admittedly rather unsure after their first meeting. He thought his senses might have been getting dull because he had spent so much time in the castle. But sure enough, Athena’s fire was not producing heat or smoke. It was yet another odd thing about her. And Lucifer was now determined to figure out what made her different.

Chapter 90: Chapter 90

Chapter Text

Normally Athena would have barked at the demon in her office to go away, especially because she was busy dealing with something. He did not book an appointment, and she really was not in the mood to be entertaining guests. However this was the King of Hell. He had showed up to her office unannounced, which was all sorts of rude. But she had to remember that his lack of etiquette was most likely due to him being confined to his castle for so many years.

“Your Majesty,” Athena intertwined her fingers and laid them on the desk in front of her to stop her hands from twitching. “To what do I owe the pleasure?” The owl felt another rush of ecstasy run through her veins at that last word, but she was able to keep a straight face.

She had to remain professional. Lucifer arriving at her office was unexpected, but him seeking her out was exactly what she wanted. She didn’t think he would show up so soon, however, and at her place of business as well. It was not ideal, but at least it was not while she was overseeing her arena. If there was one thing Athena was able to take away from their conversation from a few months ago, it was that the King despised his kingdom and the souls in it. She did not want him seeing the bloody tournament she was hosting.

However, it could have useful benefits, depending on how he saw it and how she explained it to him. On one hand, he would be disgusted at the idea that a Sinner he had opened up to was sponsoring and organizing these bloodbaths that encouraged other demons to celebrate their sinful desires. On the other hand, most demons were using up their pent up aggression and energy in the Ring, and Athena had noticed that the streets were much more tame as a result. And that outcome could once again help her get into the King’s good graces.

“Uh, Goose?” Lucifer raised an eyebrow and looked over her form, at least, what little of it he could see because she was sitting behind her desk. “There’s something off about your appearance.”

“Oh, I understand, sire,” Athena waved a hand before tucking it under her chin again. “I am rather short in stature for someone of my caliber. How strange is it to see that Overlord Athena is most likely no taller than an Imp.”

“Yeah! And another thing! What the f*ck does Overlord mean?” Lucifer threw his hands out, almost making the cane in his hands go flying. Athena inwardly smirked when she successfully managed to change the subject. She did not want to disclose the information about her inability to transform, at least not yet.

“Hm? Overlord is a title here in Hell,” Athena easily explained. “They refer to the leaders of their particular industry. I am the Overlord of gladiator matches. There are other Overlords in the city who are also leaders in their own right. My good friend Husk is the Overlord of casinos, and there can even be a group of Overlords who have built an alliance to make their industries stronger such as the Vee’s.”

“... Another question,” Lucifer digested the information as narrowed his eyes in concentration and pointed the apple on his cane at her. “What is wrong with you? You look constipated.”

Athena didn’t think he was entirely inaccurate, but she wasn’t about to let him know that. Weakness was unacceptable. Even though Alastor could have no way of knowing Lucifer himself would be swinging by her office at work, it was still another point in his favor. The owl was forced to pretend like everything was alright for the King to not be suspicious and on top of that had to focus on her paperwork. Or maybe he did know. Maybe he knew about her trips to the Morningstar Castle and had managed to point the King in the direction of his office around the time she knew she would be at her desk. She really had no way of knowing, and it was something she adored about her pet.

“Ah, I might have caught a stomach bug, it is nothing serious,” Athena tilted her head and tried to dismiss the issue, but Lucifer had already honed in on the almost completely eaten lunch sitting next to her paperwork on the desk. He plucked the last slice of blackened meat from the box and sniffed it.

“Arsenic?” Lucifer squinted his eyes as he dropped the slice of catfish back into the box.

“Ah, so that’s what it is,” Athena wrapped her claws around the box and slid it back against her. “Thank you for the diagnosis, Your Majesty. I know who gave me this food, and now I know what sort of toxins are in it. Rest assured, I will be giving him a talking to.”

Lucifer took another look at that box. It was much too big to hold a few slices of meat in it, so Athena must have eaten a lot. No wonder she was so uncomfortable. Since she ate so many pieces, it was unlikely she was able to smell or taste it. Humans were vile creatures, and they never stopped coming up with ways of killing their enemies. But he had heightened senses; he was able to detect these small inconsistencies with the meat. He could even name every single spice that went onto it.

There was obviously a lot of care put into the dish, and Athena told him that she already knew who it was. So it was probably a fan of some sort. But he noticed that there was a design on the box rather reminiscent of deer antlers. And he saw that there was a deer skull amulet sitting on her neck like a choker. It was made of angelic steel and was even visible on her while in her owl form. It was yet another odd detail that Lucifer tucked away in the folder of “things that don’t make sense about Athena.”

Lucifer had a lot of questions about Hell, and if Athena managed to claw her way up to this high societal status as Overlord, then she must be very knowledgeable in the politics and economy of the underworld. He did not want to be involved in his kingdom, but something just rubbed him the wrong way about being completely detached and separated from the souls in his domain.

He wanted to know what was going on, if only to satisfy his curiosity. But there was a small part of him who wanted to truly be a part of his kingdom. He wanted to rule with his wife Lilith, if only to be her husband again. He wanted to rule for his daughter Charlie, if only to give her a somewhat decent place to grow up in. No, it was too late for him to say that. His daughter was grown and she was having dreams and aspirations of her own. Now all Lucifer could do was try to make Hell a safer place for her dreams to flourish.

“Goose, I… I need your help,” Lucifer began as he twisted the cane in his hands with a white-knuckled grip.

Athena managed to keep her demonic aura hidden, but she was not able to keep the shark-toothed grin from slowly stretching across her face. Her acid green eyes started to faintly glow as did the candles in the room as they reacted to her growing excitement and sad*stic glee. “Of course, Your Majesty~”

Chapter 91: Chapter 91

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Athena was slightly annoyed that she had yet another interruption and one that interrupted the first interruption. She would bet an absurd amount of her own money that Alastor was most likely reading in his room, giggling at the idea of his little plan working on his girlfriend. He never ceased to amaze her about the magnitude of his brilliance. She feared that he would become more docile in terms of cunning and ruthlessness when their relationship became official. And him behaving like a housewife did not ease those fears any.

She vaguely recalled stories of housewives poisoning their abusive spouses to escape the marriage because divorce was not only illegal but also frowned upon in the communities. At least, that is what she had heard regarding American history as told to her by Alastor. In her country, divorce was made legal almost fifty years before she died. However, there was still a great deal of social stigma surrounding divorce during her time on Earth, but it made little difference to her.

Truthfully, Athena never planned on marrying in life nor in death. She had always had much more important things to do when she was alive. And when she was in Hell, there was not much to do except try to survive the day. At least, there wasn’t until she met Alastor. Her life had been so dreadfully boring until he arrived in her radio tower. Marrying her business partner turned romantic partner had never quite crossed her mind, and that thought was lingering for much longer than Athena was comfortable with.

She could seriously ponder that possibility at a later date.

However on another note, Athena did not know why Alastor much rather preferred taking on the role of a housewife, but she wasn’t about to stop him. She was never that good at cooking or crocheting, even when alive. Truthfully, if the deer had not been in her afterlife, the owl was relatively confident in stating that she would still be eating rats in back alleyways even to this day. It was a rather dull existence to think about, and she was grateful for what she had. But now that Alastor had shown her what she was truly capable of when she cast aside her desire to help others while surviving on the bare essentials.

And now she was flying higher and higher with only Lucifer himself standing in her way now. But hopefully, not for long. If she played her cards right, she could gain a new ally and a fantastic weapon.

“Now, what is it you need my help with?” Athena intertwined her fingers and placed them on the half-finished pile of papers sitting in front of her at her desk. She made sure to keep her voice soft and put her feather quill down next to her claws to give him her undivided attention. She had to admit that she was trying to copy mannerisms from Rosie at this moment. She had a way of getting her clients to open up about their problems by creating a safe environment for them to be vulnerable and honest. Athena did not think she was fully capable of replicating something like that, but she was willing to try.

It made the owl remember that she had not visited Rosie in a while. The last time she had even gone to Cannibal Town was because Alastor had practically dragged her there after work one day because the elder Overlord had insisted that she speak to them about their new relationship. Perhaps Athena can revisit Rosie just to talk but this time focus on her body language and her choice of words when speaking to clients.

She left out the smug comment she wanted to make. Being arrogant in this situation would only end badly for her. To say something along the lines of “the King of Hell is seeking help from a lowly Sinner” would only insult and degrade him. She did not remind him of their titles and was planning on remaining informal yet polite this entire interaction. If she acted arrogant and excited about Lucifer seeking her advice, it would only discourage him from trusting her.

His already damaged self-esteem would suffer even more, and that would cause him to be more closed off around Athena. If she could convince him that it was safe for him to be emotionally vulnerable around her, then he would do so. It did not take much prodding to get him to open up during their first conversation on the Morningstar Castle balcony.

Lucifer being emotionally vulnerable could not only give Athena a way to control the King but it could even allow her to exploit a weakness if he were to turn against her. Lucifer Morningstar was easily the most powerful being in Hell. She had no chance of defeating him in a brawl of brute strength. Not even her pet would be able to defeat the King of Hell in a brawl of brute strength. However, Athena was able to determine that a possible weakness he had was his emotional and societal instability.

Lucifer was extremely closed off from the rest of his kingdom. He even had to ask her what an Overlord was. And not only that, he was carrying some extreme emotional baggage due to what happened in the Garden of Eden millennia ago as well as the state of his family. Queen Lilith was ruling Hell all by herself as had been ever since this realm had begun not long after the creation of mankind. If anyone close to Lucifer knew more about Hell’s politics, it would have to be her. However, him coming to Athena for advice instead of his own wife spoke volumes about the state of their marriage and their family.

Even though Lucifer was standing before her with an air of dignity, she could still pick up subtle motions and body language on him that told her of his anxiety in her presence and in him asking her for help. He stood with his back straight and a regal posture, but his hands were very slightly twisting around the cane he held in front of his chest. He was trying to play the movement off as a gesture of pondering, but the owl could spot the shaking and twitching in his fingers.

Athena took note of his anxious and awkward body language. He was so afraid of failure due to his past mistakes as well as the repercussions that came of it. He needed positive reinforcement, he was practically craving it, and Athena could give it to him for following her suggestions and indirectly obeying her orders.If she chose to provide Lucifer even a small measure of validation and admiration, he would thrive. But before anything else, Athena had to prove that she was a trustworthy companion, or at least a reliable advisor. She would rise the social ranks of Hell by getting close to the King and giving him tips on how to be more connected to his kingdom This would not only build him up as a powerful leader of the underworld, but also build him up in a way that made him dependent on Athena’s praise and advice.

She had the opportunity to mold him into a figurehead of Hell in a way that benefitted her own ambitions and desires to conquer more. And maybe, she could build him up in a way that made it so that he would rule Hell instead of his wife. Queen Lilith was obviously very distant from her husband, and the owl could use that to drive a wedge between them and eventually convince him to overthrow the current monarch, all the while Athena would be pulling strings from the shadows.

Notes:

whoops i accidentally dropped some athena lore again

Chapter 92: Chapter 92

Chapter Text

“Well… uhm,” Lucifer seemed to abandon all attempts at remaining regal for the sake of appearances as he suddenly leaned back on his heels with a nervous expression. “You’re the one who gave my daughter her idea for this rehabilitation center for demons, right?”

“A rehabilitation center?” Athena raised an eyebrow. She couldn’t help but notice the way he spoke those last few words. There was an air of sarcasm to them but not mockery. It was almost as if he was expecting her to laugh at the absurdity of the idea but did not find it funny himself.

“Uh, yeah,” Lucifer eyed her curiously and with a hunt of suspicion in his slitted red eyes. He probably thought she was lying to him. “Aren’t you the one who gave her that idea in the first place? Charlie told me you did.”

“Ah,” Athena leaned her head back slightly. “Your daughter offered me a dilemma. She wanted to know a possible solution to the overpopulation problem here in Hell. I told her that many demons down here are only here due to lesser crimes. If those demons were given the chance to leave their sins behind them, then they could join the angels in Heaven and leave the truly rotten souls to remain here where they belong.”

“Lesser crimes?” Lucifer squinted at her. “I doubt anyone who’s only sin was shoplifting or jaywalking or something would be sentenced to Hell just for that. There has got to be something else evil they did in life.”

Athena chuckled, “You’d be surprised, sire.”

Lucifer gripped his cane and didn’t immediately answer that. The owl was tempted to kick herself for being so vague. That was not something she needed to do right now. “You mentioned you needed my help with something? Does it have to do with your daughter’s rehabilitation center?”

The King perked up with a surprised expression, like he just noticed he had gone off track of the conversation and what he wanted. Athena listened with genuine great interest as he told his tales of woe, and it seemed Lucifer got too invested in his words and his frustrations because he was sharing details she was sure he wouldn’t have if he was of sound mind.

She could understand him being irritated at his lack of knowledge regarding the affairs within his own kingdom, but when he let it slip that he was distancing himself from his people and his family because he was so ashamed of himself that he thought isolating himself in his study was best for everyone around him. That was something Athena had already suspected about Lucifer due to his nervous ticks and depressed aura, but his words now confirmed it. But what she found interesting was when he recalled his experience when Charlie told her parents about her rehabilitation program.

Queen Lilith had immediately turned to her husband and declared that it was his fault their daughter was getting these absurd ideas. And Lucifer instantly believed her. It was very possible that Lilith had been keeping Lucifer isolated and in the throes of self-blame and hate for years now so she could rule the kingdom alone. The Queen was known to be benevolent towards her subjects, but who knows if it could have been an act or if she was simply demeaning to her husband behind closed doors.

It was definitely something to think about more at a later date. However, at this moment, Athena was working on a strategy to use that information. But it couldn’t hurt to verify before she makes any big moves. The first thing to do is to work on Lucifer’s confidence. She could see him shaking like a leaf in the wind as he stood in her office. Over the course of his ranting, Athena had gotten up from her desk and invited the King to sit in the chair in front of her desk while she fetched a bottle of wine and a few glasses from the cabinet.

Athena was not a very big fan of drinking, but she started trying new alcoholic beverages after she got easily intoxicated the last time she and Alastor went to Husk’s casino on the edge of the Vee’s territory. She didn’t know if she could get Lucifer wasted, but it could at least be interpreted as a friendly gesture and hopefully get him to open up more. Every word that came out of his mouth in his frustrated rant was a goldmine to the owl. She was very likely the weakest Sinner in all of Hell in terms of brute strength, so she needed to use her brain to overpower stronger enemies. She needed to pinpoint physical and psychological weaknesses to exploit them if need be.

“Hm,” Athena hummed and poured him another glass of wine. She was taking small sips whereas he was downing large gulps. But she made sure to down some alcohol the same amount of times he was to almost persuade him to take more. If the owl was drinking noticeable less than he was, then it might discourage him from having more due to self-consciousness. “I think I know of a way to help you, sire.”

Lucifer looked up at Athena, swirling the sixth or seventh glass of wine in his hand with a tired expression. He did not appear inebriated; the owl did not know if the King even could become inebriated. There was no flush on his cheeks or slur in his voice; Lucifer just looked exhausted and at his wits’ end. He was desperate for answers. So desperate that he would even come crawling to a lowly Sinner, a demon he despises the most.

He wanted to be closer to his wife, and he wanted to be there for his daughter. Athena had some suspicions about Lilith, but those theories could be tested at a later date. But for right now, the owl had some things the King wanted, and she had the opportunity to leverage it.

Athena placed her glass on the desk and grinned wolfishly. Her office reacted to her shift in aura as the room went slightly darker as the candle at her desk went out, leaving the fireplace as the only source of light left. The green flames danced over her shoulders from Lucifer’s point of view, leaving her face hiding in shadow with only her glowing green eyes and devilish smile remaining visible.

“I’ll tell you what. Let’s make a deal.

Chapter 93: Chapter 93

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Lucifer was instantly alarmed. And in this moment, as he took in the dark and conniving grin on Athena’s face, he remembered just what he was talking to. This owl was a Sinner. She had done horrible things in her life to get her sent down here and most likely had done horrible things to climb up the social ranks to the title of Overlord. He still did not have a good grasp on what that word meant in his own kingdom.

Athena told him that Overlords are the figureheads of their own financial and business empires in the Pride Ring, but he had a feeling that she was not telling him everything about the title. Lucifer may be out of touch with Hell, but he was not stupid and he knew Athena wasn’t, either. If she was really so bold to offer a deal to him, then she must have something appealing to him that she could offer.

But the ominous thing was he didn’t know what she could offer him or how she was so confident that only she had access to it. Lucifer had admittedly let a lot of things slip during their talk in her office, so he didn’t know what problem she had a solution to. Was it Charlie’s rehabilitation project? Was it his marriage problems with Lilith? Was it his disconnect with his kingdom? Or it could even be something as miniscule as his creative block from this morning when he tried making another line of rubber ducks?

He was Lucifer Morningstar, King of Hell and the Devil himself. If anyone in this room should be afraid of being trapped in a deal with the other, it should be Athena, the lowly Sinner and a rather weak one at that.

“Oh, these deals are merely how us Overlords do business,” Athena raised an eyebrow at Lucifer upon seeing his expression darken. “These Contracts have an employee offer their soul as collateral to an Overlord to ensure their loyalty to the company the Overlord is running. In return, the Overlord pays the employee for their services. The contents of the Contract is discussed beforehand, so it is not entirely unfair.”

Lucifer felt his lip curl slightly. Was Athena seriously proposing he sell her soul to him just so he can get some information?

“But,” Athena waved a hand, and the candle on her desk lit up once again, allowing Lucifer to see her face for the first time since she made the suggestion to make a deal with her. “I am not asking for your employment.”

“Then what are you asking for?” He stood up and straightened his posture, tapping his cane on the ground. A faint flicker of his power sank into the floor and ricocheted off the office walls along with the sound that came from the cane.

“In one week, I will be hosting the Championship to my latest tournament,” Athena folded her arms behind her back, gazing at the King with a sly grin. “During those seven days, I can teach you anything and everything about the underworld. In return, you make your grand debut to Hell as the King during my event.”

Lucifer blinked, digesting what she told him. She wanted to just tell him everything about what he had been missing over the last several thousand years? And all he had to do was make an appearance in her tournament? He didn’t understand what she was trying to pull. Every demon already knew his name. What would be the point of making an appearance? Did she just want him to become more involved with the kingdom? That could be why she was willing to teach him about the political and economic state of Hell.

Athena laughed jovially, a stark contrast to the sinister aura cascading off her form and sinking into the floor of the rather small office, making Lucifer feel slightly claustrophobic. “Why so serious, sire? Did you think I was being malicious when I offered you a deal?”

“Yes,” Lucifer replied immediately and with a blunt tone.

“Oh, nothing in Hell is free, Your Majesty. You see, my new business had recently opened up, and I could certainly benefit from this… collaboration of ours. Just as you would benefit.” Athena chuckled and gathered up the glasses and the wine bottle before placing them on her desk to be cleaned and put away later. She said collaboration, not employment, so she was not in the market to buy Lucifer’s soul; she just wanted to form a soul-binding deal with him. There was a certain emphasis in her tone that made Lucifer pause. He could sense there were more to her words than what could be heard on the surface level.

Nothing in Hell was free. When a deal is made involving a demon, it will always be in the demon’s favor, but that benefit is not always visible at first glance. Lucifer’s kingdom was literally the home of demons, and every powerful one slinking about in the depths of fire and brimstone were skilled at making deals that benefitted them and them only. However, if he were to see through the demon’s tricks, then their power over him would be invalidated. Athena had immediately told him what she would benefit from it, but other demons are not going to be willing to reveal what exactly they would gain from such a transaction. He would need to be extremely careful about dealing with other demons if he hoped to one day rule his kingdom.

“So,” Athena took a few steps forwards, a sly grin still stretched across her face as a radioactive green flickered around her form. The flight feathers stretching down to the ground from her wrists flickered as the sparks of acidic flames illuminated the black talons delicately tapping the floor as she walked. “Do we have a deal?”

Lucifer narrowed his eyes dangerously. This Sinner was certainly audacious to propose to the Devil himself a deal. It was not a Soul Contract, but it was still a soul-binding deal. But he wanted to be a more active leader to his kingdom. As much as he despised Hell, he despised being a neglectful father and husband even more.

His wings unfurled, the feathers nearly grazing the walls of Athena’s office as his horns extended from the confines of his skull. A whip-thin arrowhead tail lashed against the wood on the floor, and Lucifer tapped his cane against the ground with a click as he stepped towards her. He kept his now blood red eyes fixated on the Sinner in front of him, carefully watching her expression and body language. She didn’t appear intimidated by the devil revealing his hidden monstrous form, which was yet another strange thing about her.

Lucifer knew she could feel fear, but she had a rather odd way of expressing it. But he couldn’t help but notice that another emotion was noticeably absent from her face. Repulsion. Athena was not sickened or appalled by the monster in front of her. Not like Lilith was…

D̵̡̢̧̢̧͎͎̮̹̳̥̫̬̯̮̎͂͆̔͌̈́͗̑̇̾̌̉͘ͅ ̸̧̧̫̻̟͖͖̦͓̯̠̟̌̔́̀̅̅͛̐Ĕ̶̗̬̻͉͖̓̌̐̉́̅̔̓̉͐̇́́͘͘ ̷̢̡̪̹̰̖̰̟̲̦̙̤̠͈̮̅̇̍̂̂̇̅̂͂̾̀͛͂̕̚Ả̷̻̩̳̣̮̒̃̋̏̓̎͗̋͝͝͝ ̴̨̡͍̻̲̂̀̆́͂̒̓́̐̈́̕͝L̶̲̍͛͋̏̓̓͊̚͘.

Notes:

Days until the Championship

S̵̡͕̘̮̣̘̳͗͂̈́̈́̈́͜͠ͅ ̴̡̀̓ͅÈ̵͍̞͈̾͆͊͘͘͝ ̵̡̦̱̥̖̪̻̻̬̹̼͓̊̅̌͑̔͋̉́̀̆̊̾͘̚͘ͅͅV̷̢̧̡̦̳̰̥̳̳͚̟̟͇̀̄̀̏͒̀͜͠ ̴͎̗̯͖̬̓͑̾́̅͌Ë̷͔̹̜̫̱̝͇̹̿͊̈͂́ͅ ̷̼̩͍̖͊̐̎͛͑̏̕N̵̗̣̘̙͍̈

Chapter 94: Chapter 94

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Athena and Lucifer shook hands, and the owl grinned madly as a burst of acidic green power erupted from her form, mingling with Lucifer’s red hellfire as their powers met at the palms of their hands. It felt like the office itself was splitting from the sheer force of power cascading throughout the building. Bright green and dark red magic erupted from the two demons, sending whirlwinds of power ricocheting off the walls.

As the deal was sealed with that handshake, Lucifer felt the opportunity to learn more about Athena as his soul was momentarily connected to hers. Her strange green magic crawled up his forearm as his hellfire sorcery wrapped around the owl’s own arm. And as the toxic energy sank into his skin and latched onto his soul, Lucifer felt as if his arms were burning in what he could only describe as holy fire. The flames were so excruciatingly hot and unbearably intense, it almost felt as if his bones were melting and the flesh on his bones were being torn.

But he tore himself away from the burning sensation to see Athena in front of him again, staring him down with her warm emerald green eyes turned bright corrosive green, turned toxic and malicious after over one hundred years in Hell. Her aura spiked as her magic intertwined with Lucifer’s, making her figure a mere silhouette against the bright green erupting from her soul. But then he saw three sets of colossal and majestic bird wings burst from her back, stretching out what seemed like twice or even three times her own body length. Wings that were much too large and grandiose for her frankly miniscule form.

It was as the walls of the office had disappeared, and all Lucifer could see was radioactive magic swirling around a figure with an archangel's wings. Not even the floor was under his feet anymore, and there was the sensation of falling. No wind was rushing past his ears and no gravity was pushing him downwards, but he could still feel it.

Lucifer felt like he was Falling. It was so much like last time. The time where he lost everything because of a stupid mistake. His mind instinctively ordered his hands to reach out and grab something, anything. But the fire still eating away at his arms left him with nothing to stop him from falling from the sky. His gaze was fixated on the glowing green eyes in front of him, erupting with a blaze that matched the sensation of his burning appendages. And as he felt his back hit the ground, everything stopped.

The bright green vortex vanished as if it was never there, and Lucifer had to plant his heel to stop himself from falling over from the whiplash. As he stood in the darkened office, the King panted through clenched teeth, still reeling from what he saw. Athena was no longer a dark shadow with glowing green features, but she wasn’t what she once was before they made the deal either.

The owl stretched out the new wings on her back, the feathery appendages reaching out and lying flat against the walls of the room. The emerald colored feathers circled Lucifer and nearly covered the entirety of the décor on the walls with just how massive they were. She rolled her shoulders, giving a satisfied grin at the cracking of joints under her skin, almost as if reveling in the sensation of moving freely for the first time in decades.

=Athena curled her massive wings against her back as she stepped away from Lucifer with a smirk. Even tucked in, her wings were too large for her to hold and were dragging on the floor. She rubbed the back of the hand that shook his as her tail feathers swayed like a venomous snake gracefully soaring through water. And Lucifer saw that the wings on her arms were still here, and there was yet another set of wings, albeit much smaller, on her shins taking the place of her feathered fins from earlier. But those wings were not the only difference about Athena.

She now had a green sleeveless turtleneck top with gold trim around her throat and the angelic steel deer skull amulet sitting above a heart-shaped cut out on her chest, where short white feathers were seen. Under that heart cut out was a golden owl emblem that then led to a strip of gold trim that ran down to the bottom of her shirt where it then flared out at the waistline to border her tail feathers. The style of the shirt along with her tail feathers made the outfit look like a tuxedo top with her three long feathers being the tail of the tailcoat.

As she curled her tail feathers up, Lucifer could see a black-rimmed white heart on each of the three feathers. And there were now gold epaulettes on her shoulders with a cord aiguillete running from them to the owl emblem sitting under the heart cut on her chest. Her pants and sleeves were the same pitch black, but her arms now had green stripes running down them, and her green shirt had black stripes wrapped around her waist.

Lucifer quickly tried sensing a power signature form Athena, but he once again felt nothing. It felt like he was in the presence of a Hellborn animal instead of that imposing and towering figure he saw in that vision. He wasn’t even sure if it was a vision. The rustling of papers settling to the ground after being picked up by a whirlwind implied that the vortex of toxic magic was real, but he really wasn’t certain.

Athena truthfully didn’t know what to expect when she shook Lucifer’s hand. He expected him to be powerful, but the sheer weight and density of his magic made her very soul tremble as she felt herself becoming tied to him through their deal. It was not an overbearing presence when kept under careful lock and key, though she was confident he could undo that lock with ease and at a moments notice. Rather, it carried a sense of peaceful equilibrium, as though the natural energies were contained inside the King, ready to burst forward the second an enemy made itself known to him.

Athena recovered after growing accustomed to the sensation once they shook hands, and it spoke volumes of Lucifer’s skill to keep such power hidden. She expected the King to be powerful, but the vast magic literally at her fingertips was unreal. And the way he carried himself; it was different from the way she had been led to believe was appropriate of those with power.

And it was especially different from the way she would have anticipated the literal Sin of Pride himself to carry himself. He defied his expectations and challenged his sense of certainty but not in a bad way. There was no doubt that he was powerful. She needed to tread carefully, especially now that she had revealed to him that she was willing to make soul-binding deals with him.

Athena shifted her wings and turned to Lucifer, and that small movement caused the wings on her back to drag across the hardwood floor. She folded her arms behind her back, tucking them under her wings with a sly smile. “Pleasure doing business with you, Your Majesty.”

Notes:

Days until the Championship

Ş̴̨͔͙͚̣̳͙̠͖͉̠̪̒̓̈́̓͂͘͠ ̸̨͖̞̫̇̃̎̆̀͛͒̈́͝͝ͅĮ̸͚͚̙̺͕̩̘̃̉̔̉̌̍ ̶̨̞̩̥̼͎̠̝͙̟̣̍̒̾͊͘̚͝X̵͍̤͍̝̭̀̂̒́̔̉̃̈́̾̍̓̌͘ͅͅ

ps, i don't think i described athena's new look very well so i am working on an artwork of her that'll be posted on my tumblr. i am still working on it, so it will probably be up by tomorrow

Chapter 95: Chapter 95

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

When Athena and Lucifer shook hands, she felt her respect for the King increase a few notches. Lucifer was essentially a ghost in his kingdom, and even that statement was being generous. His name was certainly legendary in the living realm and the afterlife realm, but he was equally as elusive on Earth as he was in Hell. No being in the Seven Rings took him seriously anymore because of his absence.

She was planning to change that. She already had experience guiding a puppet into the spotlight, but Lucifer and Alastor were completely different beasts. When Athena first met the deer, he was a nobody. He had no power and no connections, he was new here in Hell. Even as she circled over him before speaking to him for the first time, she could smell the stench of fresh kill. She gave him power, prestige, and the glory of becoming one of the most powerful and mysterious Overlords in the history of Hell.

However, Lucifer already had power in spades. He was the King of the underworld. Tales and legends only dare mention his name and when they did, it carried the weight and magnitude of vast and unfathomable might. If Athena was being honest with herself, if she hadn’t offered a deal to him in her office, she never would have guessed he was the Devil based on his appearance and attitude.

He had great power, certainly. However, he did not carry the title he was owed, not with pride, anyway. He was ashamed and self-conscious, and those traits were unbecoming of the Sin of Pride itself. He had regrets that haunted him for millennia, and it had stopped him from becoming a ruler to the creatures he hated and even worse, it had stopped him from becoming a husband and a father to the people he truly loved.

Athena truthfully did not care much for his relationship with his family. If anything, she wanted to keep them separate to prevent them from becoming an unbreakable unit. Her favorite tactic was divide and conquer, and it was something she had been doing even as an owl before she met Alastor. Beings of superior strength would crumble under a lesser creature if their weakness was exploited, and she expected the Morningstars to be no different.

However, Athena did not want to kill Lucifer or his wife or his daughter. It would be foolish to rise against the King of Hell, even with vast connections and planning. The best thing to do would be to gain his trust, become a valued voice for him to lean on for reliable advice. Athena prided herself on her ability to control those around her, and the way to control Lucifer would be to build him up just as she had done to the other dolls in her collection. But this relationship would be built on soft but strict encouragement rather than harsh and unforgiving chains.

Athena turned on her heel and heard the heavy whoosh of her wings sliding across the ground as she started walking towards the wall of books in her office. She pulled out a leather bound collection of pages with hand crafted and elegant words traced into the spine with gold trim. She sat down in her office chair and invited Lucifer to take a seat in the chair he had previously been occupying before they made their deal. She placed the book on the desk and slid it towards the King, and he read the title as a documentary of all notable Overlords over the last hundred years.

“Shall we get started?”

Angel Dust groaned unhappily as he clicked through the channels on the ratty old television in the lounge area. He didn’t feel like being on his phone because Valentino was having asshole behavior again. But this time, it was a weird kind of asshole behavior. Usually, the moth would be bombarding him with texts and then get angry when the spider wouldn’t reply within thirty seconds of those texts being sent. But today, it was surprisingly quiet. Unusually so, even.

Angel thought he would rejoice the day Val finally stopped texting him like a crazy ex, but all he was feeling now was dread and a strange sort of loneliness. He was so used to and even addicted to the constant “attention” from Val that the absence of such a normal thing for him made him feel itchy and uncomfortable. It only reminded Angel of just how strong of a hold the moth has on him, and the spider didn’t want to think about it anymore.

He made a mental note to tell Athena to either fix the television in the lounge room or just get a new and better one because this old rust bucket was unbearable to work with, even after the remote got new batteries. But speaking of Athena, she came back to the apartment a bit later than usual. She also looked a bit different.

For one, she now had a long cloak-dress-thing that was so long it dragged behind her on the ground when she walked. But Angle was sharper than most gave him credit for. He could see the joints of wings on her back. That dress thing was most likely a pair of wings that she had wrapped around herself like what Val does, but he didn’t know how she suddenly just got wings, and he didn’t know why she was suddenly in such a good mood.

“Angel Dust,” Athena gave him a dark grin. “Do me a favor and grab Vox’s work schedule for the next week. I can get you and your friend Cherri Bomb access to the nightclub in the Doomsday District, and I will be giving you two free access to the bar and the amenities, providing you do not cause excessive destruction of property.”

“Wait,” Angel Dust took a moment to process this information. She wanted him to just tell her the times and dates of Vox’s business appointments and in return she would give him and his best friend access to the most popular and most expensive nightclubs in the Pride Ring?! “You mean that sleazy f*ckfest connected to the main branch of the Jackpot Casino?”

“Exactly.”

“f*ck YEAH!”

Notes:

Days until the Championship

F̷̬̠͙͔̝͒́͊̀̑̏̋͂̓͒͆͘̚ ̸̼͕̳͈̖̜̗̪̝͚͈̤̤̃͌͌̀͆̕͘Ḯ̶̫̮̭͕͍̰̞̝͉̮͚̈́̂̅̍̏ ̴̢̙̱͈̝̜̠̗͔̖̥̯̖̜͆͛̎̊̍͗̋͂́͑̄̿͠ͅV̸̙̮͕̣̪̺̮̼͎͈̀͊̄̈́͜ ̴̧̡͇̦̱̟̙̣͇͔̲̦͈͓͙͗̈́̏́̆̋̃͛̐͑̕ͅĚ̵̩͉̩̫͎̰̳̥̟̯͎̍̈́́̅͑͊͆̉̓̅̒̎̈́͐͘͝ͅͅ

Chapter 96: Chapter 96

Notes:

HEY GUYS CHECK OUT THIS FANART

https://www.tumblr.com/theonewiththegays/750142738898550784/avocavocado

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Vox despised Alastor. That much was obvious to anyone who knew anything about him, personality wise or business wise. There were plenty of rumors circulating Hell as to why, and the TV Demon had to at least be grateful that the Radio Demon never announced that Vox had made a fool of himself by opening his heart to the deer but ultimately got rejected. Even worse, he was laughed at, and Alastor revealed that he only stuck with Vox as he built his empire because the TV Demon was “the most pathetic demon he had ever seen.”

Vox’s misery was just entertainment to Alastor. Vox had been utterly crushed that day, and he trashed and destroyed anything and everything in his penthouse in a vengeful rage. By that point, his career as a major Overlord had finally gotten off the ground, so the collateral was a mere drop in the bucket. But the hate and betrayal still persisted to this day.

He had been obsessively stalking Alastor and had been attempting to ruin his beloved radio medium with his own vastly improved form of entertainment. Back when Vox was optimistic about having his mentor and his crush join his empire as not just a business partner but also a romantic one, the TV Demon was determined to keep Alastor’s favorite form of entertainment alive in the modern day because he knew that the deer liked it so much. But ever since then, Vox had been trying to actively erase radio entirely. It just reminded him too much of those supposed happy memories now tainted by the realization that Alastor had just been stringing him along.

Vox hated that he wasn’t as intelligent or as charismatic as Alastor, but that didn’t mean he was stupid. Everything started going south for him after he first kidnapped that damn bird, Athena he now knew her name to be. She had been close to Alastor far longer than Vox had, and in that time, she had managed to do what Vox never could. She gained Alastor’s respect, even worse, his attention, and even worse than that, his love.

He thought back to the memory of Valentino lying bloodied and broken in the alleyway after his fight with Athena. Even the most miniscule of details remained etched into his brain, and no matter how many times Vox looked at his business partner, he was reminded of the carnage he had seen behind that casino.

Athena was responsible for that. She was responsible for such bloody retribution that had left both Vox and Val scarred. The moth tried to play it off after he pulled himself back together, but the TV Demon noticed him becoming much more jumpy and tense after using his pheromones on anyone, and he had noticeably leaned away from the hardcore gore BDSM sh*t.

Alastor did not want Vox, but instead he wanted the monster that did something like that to Valentino. And then she had the nerve to be smug and taunt him while in the casino. Vox had glanced at Alastor one more time before fleeing the building. To his absolute horror, the deer was smitten by the sight of that owl. He was staring at her like she was his high school crush. It sickened Vox in that moment, and that only intensified after he went into the back alley to see Val.

And as the weeks and eventually months went by, Vox watched through his monitors during his breaks glitching and corrupted videos of Alastor and Athena walking down the street with their arms linked. Vox despised Alastor. That resentment towards the Radio Demon never faded after the humiliation he suffered. But Vox hated Athena.

Vox growled and dug his neon blue claws into the arm of the chair he was sitting in. His magic surged, summoning showers of sparks to rain down on him and crackles of electricity to chaotically run throughout his control room. A chain slithered throughout the room like a snake before latching onto his neck, but the TV Demon was ignoring the disgust and shame stirring in his gut in favor of the intoxicating rush of power the monster on the other end was sending him through that parasitic link.

Athena had everything he wanted and everything he worked his ass off to get. And in the end, it still wasn’t enough. He wasn’t enough, not by himself. When he had to claw his way to success, struggling and flailing every step of the way, Athena got it with ease. She had gotten the affection of the man Vox had looked up to for the entirety of his afterlife, and she was thriving in a rapidly growing empire and was quickly making a name for herself in the circle of Overlords after that incident in the casino.

Vox hated Athena. With Alastor, Vox felt petty and vindictive for the rejection and humiliation, and their business rivalry did not ease his anger towards the deer. But it was different with Athena. He vowed to get revenge on the Radioactive Demon by any means necessary.

“Uh, sir?” The voice of Vox’s assistant through the intercom cut through Vox’s tantrum, and the TV Demon forced himself to extinguish the sparks flying chaotically in his control room with an irritated sigh.

“What?” He snapped, maybe a bit too harshly because the eel Sinner started stammering, much more than usual.

“U-Uhh… sir… I’m s-sorry to bother you but… uhm… there is someone here who needs to speak with you…”

“I am on my f*cking break. And who the hell thinks they’re so f*cking special that they can just wander into my building and demand a meeting with me?” Vox sneered dangerously, his bad mood only worsening.

“Uh… i-it’s…” the eel’s shy voice turned into mumbling and incoherent stuttering, much to Vox’s extreme annoyance.

“Spit it out already!”

“S-Sorry, sir! It’s uh… Overlord Athena, s-sir…”

Vox felt a fury burning inside him unlike any he had ever felt before. Many screens in his control room blew out with the amount of power he was pouring into the nearby electronics. Speak of the f*cking devil. Why the hell was Athena here? Was she f*cking insane? His assistant didn’t say Alastor was here as well, and that stupid Sinner knew that Vox should always be the first to know if the Radio Demon was in his f*cking tower.

So Athena was here alone, without her man-whor* to hide behind. Vox took a moment to ponder the situation. What could that bastard bird possibly want? What could she possibly hope to gain? Each and every one of the Vee’s were in this tower. Not even Alastor could take all three of them at once, so he doubted Athen had similar or greater firepower. Vox quickly shot Val and Vel a text telling them to drop everything and get their asses to the main lounge area of the penthouse. He took a breath to steady his voice and his temper, but there was a sinister tone hiding beneath his pleasant words. “S̸̘̦͓͖͓͕͋̂̊̅͂͘e̴̯̙̅n̴̖̝͓̥̪̓̔͊͝d̸̢͇̆̃̀̆ ̵̘̳̖͌̾͊̚ḣ̶͍̳̎͝ẻ̸̢̘͉͓r̷̖̊͆͊̿ ̷͇͇̙̤̼̈͝ú̷̺̠̬̬͆̒̚͜p̸̬̪̝͎̣̙̄͆͌̉͘…

Notes:

Days until the Championship

F̸̼͙̍ ̴̡͚̼̊̒̑̄̎̑͊̄́̍͐Ő̸̳̳̩̥̹̦̘̳̟ͅͅ ̴̭̜͇̪̼̥̟̫̇̋͌̆̓͑̎͒̒͐̚͠U̷̢̹̯͈̥͙̚͜͠͠ ̴̢̡̣̞̘̗̹͔̞͓̅̇̎͌͂̏̚̚ͅR̸̞̤̼͕͔̎̈́̐̽͌̔̑̊̈̂͝͝

Chapter 97: Chapter 97

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Valentino did not expect to see Athena of all demons in the Vee Tower. Vox had shot him and Vel a text through their group chat that an “important guest” was here to meet with them. Just who the f*ck is so important that it had to pull Valentino, the most powerful and influential Overlord in the p*rn industry, away from his work? The only one who would be so high-profile to dare interrupt him or even one who would be bold enough to do so would be Hell’s royalty.

It did make the moth ponder for a few moments as he silently rode the elevator to the main lounge of the Vee Tower. That was yet another thing that pointed to Val that this guest was actually not just all talk. Vox had invited them to their penthouse. The businessman in the p*rn Overlord stirred excitedly at the idea of possibly recruiting a royal or even just earning their favor. He had to wonder if it was a Goetia? Getting one of those under his thumb would make his ratings skyrocket, and Val could finally let loose on his frustrations and rage towards a certain feathered freak.

But when the doors of the elevator opened, he nearly dropped his cigarette when he saw who was standing next to the window. Truthfully, he did not recognize her at first, but those black and green feathers and those glowing acidic and catlike green eyes anywhere. He had been having nightmares about it for months. She looked different, she looked more like an Overlord than the last time he had seen her. The owl carried herself with an air of confidence and malice, and that long black and feathered cloak running down her body gave her the aura of a dangerous witch.

Valentino stepped out of the elevator and took a drag from his cigarette, red eyes narrowed at the sight of Athena in his penthouse. Vox and Vel weren’t here yet, so he could have a few minutes to himself to hopefully get some much needed retribution. “What a pleasant surprise to see you here, amorcito~ To what do I owe the pleasure…”

He dared to take a few more steps forwards so that he was towering over her minuscule frame. He didn’t quite notice it before, but Athena was absurdly short. Even as she stood straight up, her head came only up to his waist, which gave the moth all sorts of dirty ideas. If he wasn’t wearing any pants, he could just grab her by the back of her head and pull her in close to him. But he would have the opportunity to do that later, if he played his cards right.

“Valentino. I haven’t seen you since that little fiasco at the Jackpot Casino. How have you been holding up?” Athena hissed with barely hidden animosity. She had to strain her neck to look the moth in the eye, sneering with contempt and not at all appearing intimidated like what Valentino would have liked.

He narrowed his eyes dangerously at her question, the corners of his mouth curling up into a snarl. The memory of that night still burned bright in his mind, a searing humiliation he would never forget. He crossed one pair of arms over his chest while another hand played with the silver lighter in his pocket. “Oh, I’ve been just dandy, pretty bird,” Valentino spat venomously, his tone dripping with sarcasm. “But I assume you’re not here to inquire about my well-being. That would be unbecoming of you.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere, I’m afraid,” Athena growled as the moth took a drag from his cigarette. The smoke around them thickened, turning a sickly sweet scent that could be smelt from across the room. The feathers draped around her body began to shake like the tail of a rattlesnake, and the faint screech of a banshee hummed in the room. “And contrary to your beliefs, not everything is about you.”

The moth’s smirk deepened, revealing his sharp teeth. His eyes gleamed with dark amusem*nt as he watched Athena’s reaction. “Well, well, aren’t we feisty today?” he chuckled softly, the sound echoing throughout the room. “But you’re right, this isn’t about me. It’s about us.. You and me, Athena. We’re top dogs here in Hell. The rest are just… pawns on our chessboard.”

With a swift movement, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a silver cigarette case. Opening it, he selected one of the cigarettes inside before closing it with a soft click. With a flick of his wrist, he grabbed his lighter and lit his own cigarette before offering the case to Athena. “Care for one?”

The owl raised an eyebrow and looked him up and down, undoubtedly trying to decipher what he was aiming to do before deciding to humor him. She took the offered cigarette and flicked her fingers. A small green flame erupted from her talons, and she lit the stick before taking a long drag. “Bold of you to assume you are in my caliber,” Athena smirked.

Valentino took another puff from his own cigarette, blowing out a smoke ring in the shape of a heart, “Why don’t we cut through all the bullsh*t and just admit it? We both want each other. So why don’t we just see where the night takes us?”Athena rolled her eyes and tapped the cigarette against the wall, unamused by Valentino’s antics. She huffed to chase away the fumes of the moth’s smoke. “Quite brave of you to offer such a thing after what happened last time. Do you need a reminder?”

Valentino’s eyes narrowed dangerously at her words, a low growl rumbling in his chest. “Oh, I remember,” he snapped, his voice laced with venom. Athena looked far too smug at seeing his sudden shift in mood at the mention of the incident at the casino. “Every single f*cking detail. You shredded me, Athena. You ripped me apart and left me to bleed out in some disgusting back alley.”

The moth took a deep drag from his cigarette to soothe his nerves, his blood-red gaze never leaving her own acidic green one. “But you know what? I’m not the type to hold grudges. I’m more interested in moving forward.” Athena audibly snorted at his words, much to Valentino’s frustration. He hated this owl primarily because she not only rejected his advances but also had the audacity to cannibalize him and in such a bloody fashion. But her arrogance was quickly dissolving his composure. He wanted to get her in bed if only to cause her as much pain as physically possible for retribution.

“So tell me, darling,” Valentino murmured, his voice dropping to a purr as he leaned down so that his face was hovering a mere few inches away from hers. Every exhale gave the owl a huff of his signature pheromones, but she didn’t seem to be reacting to it. “Are you really here to talk business… or is there something else on your mind?”

“Tell me, Valentino,” Athena snarled with a sickly sweet voice through a wolfish grin. “Do you find satisfaction in whoring yourself out? Or do you simply know that just like any common whor* on the street, you have nothing but your body to sell?”

At her words, Valentino’s eyes flashed with a dangerous light, his lips curling back with a truly angry snarl. “Is that what you think I am? A cheap whor*?” He jabbed his cigarette towards her face, the end glowing faintly as the smoke and embers grazed the pristine white feathers on her cheek. “I run the most profitable p*rn industry in Hell, sweetheart. My ‘whoring’ as you put it, brings in more money than you’ll ever see in your afterlife.” His smirk then returned, wider than before. “And unlike you, I don’t hide behind shadows. I’m out in the open, baring myself to everyone. Because that’s what makes me successful.”

Notes:

Days until the Championship

Ţ̴̧̛̥̻̲̩̦̘̣̤̥̭̦͈̮̐͌̈ͅ ̵̡̜̭̻̰͈̱͍͍̥̈͆̇̕Ḩ̵̯̻̖̦͔̳͙̘̲̙̳̘̘̠̳̩̓̈́͌̃̆́͘͝͠ ̸̡͆͊̃̿́̏̽̒͂̔͐̐͠Ŗ̶̡̞͕̖̟̰͙̼͈̘̦̻̙̼̄̀̍̐̉̄͜ ̴̧̲̞̖̤̥͎̤̱̱̖͐̎̓̒̍̄̾̉͑̽̎̆̂̉͑Ȩ̷̡̝͕̘̦̤̭̜̐̓͋͂̿̓̔̔̅͒̉̊͝ ̴̨̧͈̤̠̘̖̱̥̜̟̻͕͉̖̪̅͂̏ͅĘ̷̡̲̻͎̼̩̱̯̰̰̓̾͐̄̽̕͝

Chapter 98: Chapter 98

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Vox grumbled as he walked through his control room to the platform to take him up to the lounge where Athena was waiting. The newly named Radioactive Demon of all demons had come to Vox’s office during his lunch break to discuss something.

He did not know what she wanted, and quite frankly, he had half a mind to just have her thrown out by security by her audacity alone. As much as he hated to admit it, Athena was not stupid. She knew that he would hate her because of what she did to him and to his business partner at the Jackpot Casino a mere few months ago. And yet she still chose to show up and without an appointment, too.

However, Vox still wanted to know what she wanted at least. And maybe he could use this as an opportunity to get revenge for the incident. He could go on for hours at just how humiliated and insulted he was by her very existence. The sheer amount of infuriating discretions against him was already enough to make him short-circuit, but the crowning achievement the owl had done to get on the TV Demon’s bad side was her involvement with Alastor.

Vox had looked up to the Radio Demon and trusted him and even (loved) respected him, but Athena took that away. He just didn’t realize it until recently. It filled him to the brim with burning jealousy and hateful resentment, but Vox would sooner perish to an angelic blade than ever admit to it.

When Vox arrived in the lounge area, he just about almost hacked up a lung. The room was absolutely suffocating with the heavy and rancid scent of toxic fumes. Clouds of dark pink and bright green smoke were piling in the room, bouncing off of each other but never mixing.

Vox thanked the fact that Val was prone to temper tantrums for once in his afterlife and activated the vents in the room. The moth had a nasty habit of puffing his cigarette when in a foul mood, and it often left the room he was sitting in to become uninhabitable by the end of it.

And as the smoke fumes began to clear, Vox gradually began seeing silhouettes by the window overlooking Pentagram City. One of them was obviously Val, Vox would recognize that skinny ass moth anywhere. And the other was not even half his height, and Vox had to assume it was Athena. The TV Demon was half-expecting to see another mess of bloodied limbs, and he had to lean back against the wall as the unwelcome memories of that night forced themselves to the forefront of his mind.

Carnage greeted him as the smoke finally cleared, and Vox saw a mess of bones and flesh. His stomach lurched uncomfortably when he found himself back in that alley where he found the mangled corpse of his business partner. But then he was back in the Vee’s Tower, and Vox realized abruptly that he was just seeing things. Athena and Valentino were not tearing each other apart, but they were looking like they were about to start.

The moth and the owl were glaring at each other like apex predators watching and waiting for the right moment to strike. The smoke was obviously from the two of them, and while Vox was familiar with the dark pink fumes, the acidic green smoke was definitely new.

It was clearly from Athena, and even now that most of the clouds have been cleared, smaller puffs of smog were leaving from the lit ends of their cigarettes. Heart-shaped rings rose into the lounge area from Valentino’s while toxic green skulls followed them as the two Overlords snarled at each other like territorial wolves.

Vox grumbled and walked up to them, but he was careful to make his footsteps loud and noticeable so his sudden appearance wouldn’t set them off. Sinners were known to behave like animals if the right buttons were pushed. “Val, piss off for a few minutes. I need to have a chat with our guest here.”

Valentino and Athena glanced at the TV Demon with irritation at first. But then the owl straightened herself and took a drag from her cigarette. She did not exhale a large cloud of smoke this time, but she did take a long and deep breath to calm her anger. Valentino, however, would not be calmed so easily. “You piss off, Vox. Can’t you see I’m doing business?”

Vox almost felt the pixelated eye on his flatscreen twitch, but he turned his attention to Athena, who was leaning against the wall and still holding the cigarette to her lips with an agitated expression. It was clear that the owl and the moth absolutely despised each other, and it was yet another thing Vox despised about her.

The TV Demon had a rivalry with Alastor after their falling out several decades ago. At least, he thought he did. But the deer would never get so riled up about Vox as much as Vox got riled up about him. It always infuriated the TV Demon that the Radio Demon paid him no mind, like he wasn’t even a threat to him. It was an insult of the highest order, especially for someone as desperate for attention as Vox.

And yet, Vox hated Athena much more than Alastor. But she still glared at Valentino even as the leader of the Vee’s entered the room and gave her his undivided attention. It infuriated him. Alastor never glared at him with contempt, never considered him a threat even though he was actively trying to destroy his industry. And not Athena did not glare at him with contempt, and she never considered him to be a threat. She considered Valentino to be a threat.

But Vox put on a faux friendly smile to try keeping an air of professionalism, “I hope you can excuse my associate. He seems to have a habit of sticking his dick in places it doesn’t belong.” Athena audibly snorted at that. “So why are you here?”

“Very well, then I shall make this quick,” Athena mused with a sly grin as she twirled the cigarette in her hand. “I have come to propose to you a deal.”

The entire room went silent, Vox swore he could have heard Velvette’s bitching even through the steel doors. The TV Demon raised an eyebrow, not wanting to admit he was interested. Athena was certainly bold. “What sort of deal?”

The owl snickered darkly, “I’m afraid I’m a very busy woman, and I haven’t got all day. So I’ll make this quick.” It was Vox’s turn to snort. She was talking as if all three of them weren’t powerful Overlords and didn’t have better sh*t to do. “I have recently launched my own industry, and I will shortly be hosting the Championship for my latest tournament. I have asked Alastor to broadcast the fights across Pentagram City, but I’m afraid he has other plans that day…”

Vox didn’t like the sound of that. Athena was very clearly scheming something; she didn’t even sound distressed when she told him that her own business partner would be too busy to support her. If anything, she sounded delighted. Vox didn’t know if she was truly happy that Alastor could not broadcast her tournament, and that could mean she had sinister plans for this deal she was proposing. But she also could just be hiding behind a mask to sound like she was in control but she really wasn't.

“Hm. So I assume you would like to partner with Voxtech to broadcast your tournament?” It was bold, it was stupid, and it was certainly desperate. If Athena was crawling to him for help to fund her empire, then she must have exhausted all other options, and if Vox played his cards right, he could use that to get her on the hook for a favor down the line.

A favor that he would not need to disclose the specific information about until he needed it.

Notes:

Days until the Championship

T̶͚͑͒̿ ̷̞̖͇̭̝͉̼͈͍̯̤̳̖̦̀̉̉͌̃̉͌̈́̏W̷̨̟̦̯̙̫̞̣̳̮͓̔̑̋̈̓̃̋̽͗́̉̋̚͠͝ ̷̛̛͖̹͗̓̽̈͒͒̄̃̀͗͘Ö̸̡̤̭͇̙͈̲̯͈̗̖͕̤̍̈͘

Chapter 99: Chapter 99

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Vox clenched his fists behind his back as he studied Athena. Her words piqued his interest, and he decided to play along for now. Val blinked owlishly behind his glasses as he stared at the shorter Overlord, and the TV Demon would have been impressed by her ability to shut him up because he had been trying to for years. But that was not the focus. His mind raced with possibilities as he digested what she was asking for.

Athena wanted to partner with Voxtech so she could broadcast her competition throughout Pentagram City. She said that Alastor would be busy that day, which Vox wasn’t buying for a second. That radio f*cker literally did nothing all day except his morning radio shows and the brainlessly wandering around the city when not on the air. Vox had stalked the deer far too long to think otherwise.

The owl certainly was planning something. There had to be a reason she came to him of all demons to broadcast her tournament. Something of a grand scale must be happening if she was desperate enough to crawl to the rival of her boyfriend for help because said boyfriend would be too busy. Vox tried to ignore the vengeful stirring in his gut at the thought of Athena and Alastor officially dating.

It was big news in the Pride Ring. Sinners rarely if ever dated, and two Overlords dating was next to unprecedented because they were always fighting each other for power. The closest thing Hell had ever seen when it came to two Overlords being interested in anything other than tearing each other to shreds was the alliance Vox had made with Valentino and Velvette. Overlords had always known of each other and would sometimes meet for business, but never had there been an alliance of Overlords before, at least not to the scale of the Vee’s.

It was yet another thing Athena had stolen from Vox. The TV Demon made history by creating such a powerful alliance of Overlords, and they were the talk of the Pride Ring for years. But something even more unheard of happened, and it was only after a few years of the Vee’s most recent addition to their team, Velvette joined. Two Overlords joining forces was already terrifying, but three of them was unreal. But then Athena and Alastor revealed that they were officially a romantic couple. And all of Hell seemed to have a collective aneurysm from it.

The owl always seemed to have some grand plan when it came to anything she did. After Alastor revealed that Athena was the bird Vox had first kidnapped was in fact actually his partner, the TV Demon had frantically gone through every available file he had on the owl and that included the ransom video he sent to the Radio Demon.

Vox had to watch Athena’s movements a few times before he finally realized the steps she was taking were deliberate and noisy. And he finally realized she was sending a coded message to Alastor through the ransom video, and it gave Vox a nasty chill. He knew better than anyone not to underestimate her, and that held especially true for this deal she was about to propose.

But apparently Valentino did not sense the sinister tone hiding under her sickly sweet voice, “So you wanna use Voxxy’s tech to broadcast your tournament? What an interesting proposal~ But i wonder, what will you offer in return for our services? It seems to me that just like any common whor* on the street, you have nothing but your body to sell~”

The moth demon was taking far too much enjoyment out of throwing Athena’s words back at her. The owl’s eye twitched, but she did not dignify his word’s with a response.

Vox had to hold back a snicker at Val’s words and Athena’s reaction, and it was yet another emotion to hide along with his thoughtful sneer as he tried to piece together what the owl was plotting. He managed to hide the amused grin behind a smirk as he expertly ignored the moth.

“So you want me to fill in for Alastor, do you?” He mused aloud, a wicked gleam in his spiraling red eye. He did not dare use his hypnosis, at least not yet. He knew from his following the owl and the deer that the two of them steered clear of any sort of modern technology, and that included televisions.

Vox had to assume that it was because of Alastor wanting to stay away from them because he knew he was vulnerable to the TV Demon’s influence if he gave the other man too much attention. And the Radio Demon wanted Athena to also distance herself from screens because she may also be vulnerable.

But Vox wanted to be in a favorable position before resorting to using that power. There was no way she would come to him for help with broadcasting her tournament without having something to offer him. If it wasn’t good enough, then he could always try his version of persuasion to sweeten the deal.

“I suppose I can arrange something,” Vox’s mind raced with possibilities. This could be a perfect opportunity to get back at Alastor, to show everyone how much better he was than the pompous fool. And the chance to broadcast a major event was too good to pass up, especially if it was being organized by Athena, the overlord quickly growing in popularity after what happened at the Jackpot Casino. “But I’ll need something in return,” he added, looking at the owl with a predatory grin.

Athena was not intimidated; she only twirled the cigarette in her talons with a smirk, ‘I am a demon of business, much like yourself. I would never offer to buy something from you without some form of payment available.”

Valentino grinned as he visibly leered at the owl, but she paid no attention to him. Vox raised an eyebrow at her, a silent gesture to continue. Athena took a quick drag from her cigarette with a smirk, “I have been in touch with some Hellborn who specialize in broadcasting media from the Pride Ring throughout the rest of Hell. So here’s my offer. Those Imps and Succubi who owe me will be told that their debts will be settled if they give you access to the entirety of Hell’s televisions in the lower Rings. In return, you broadcast my tournament in the Pride Ring.”

Vox didn’t know what to expect from Athena, but he was honestly floored. He had been trying to get his televisions through the barriers of the Rings for decades. And suddenly Athena was offering to do that. And she didn’t specify that it wouldn’t just be for this event; Vox would have access to every screen in Hell for the rest of his afterlife. Profits would soar, and his empire would reach new heights. This deal was honestly too good to be true. There had to be some sort of catch that he wasn’t grasping. But Vox just couldn’t figure it out, and it was maddening.

She had to have something planned, but he didn’t know what, and he didn’t have time to ponder it because apparently, Athena didn’t like how much Vox was hesitating to accept her terms. Whatever she was plotting, it had better be extremely good because Vox’s power would rise to unimaginable heights if he had the entire population of Hell itself backing him from under his influence.

“Do we have a deal?” Athena grinned and held her hand out, her claws flickering with toxic green embers. Vox curled his lip and tapped his neon blue claws against his palm, not able to wrap his head around what she was thinking. But this deal was far too good to pass up. He extended his own hand, which was now lighting up with the crackles of sparks dancing around his wrist.

“Deal.”

Notes:

Days until the Championship

Ơ̶̢̙̖͎̝͈͉͍̯̝̖̲̳͍͎͍̑̊́̋̅̎̀̑͑̑̽̍͗̕ ̸̧̢̪̤͚͊̔́̚Ǹ̷̨̜̞ ̸̢̰͖͍̜̤̖̺̲̺̲̚͜ͅȨ̴̢̹̫͍͎̏͂̐̂́͒̄͑̈́̕͜͜

Chapter 100: Chapter 100

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Lucifer was impressed, so impressed that he was slightly disturbed. As he walked around the park, he got to see all of the attractions and establishments hiding behind fake walls and giant tarps. He hadn’t been to Athena’s office since the day they made the deal and instead she had been meeting him at the Morningstar Castle. She would always be in a more humanoid form and she would always be carrying a briefcase. The majority of those files were documents detailing business in Hell from the Overlord’s perspective.

The King decided rather quickly that he did not like the fact that Sinners were selling their souls and that Overlords were basically enslaving those working for them. The idea of his subjects doing yet another horrible thing just filled him with despair and made him question why he was putting in this work to learn about their world when they were doing something so cruel right under his nose.

Lucifer had felt dejected and then a loss of motivation to understand his kingdom and the souls that ran rampant within it. It disgusted him, and Athena was quick to pick up on that. “If you are so put off by it, Your Majesty, then you are more than welcome to rectify it when you take your place as King.” He was about to comment about how he was already King, but it wasn’t entirely true. That was his title, but he in no way acted like royalty. He could be intimidating if he wanted to, and his power did not suffer any due to his isolation.

He knew what she was really alluding to. Once he learned more about Hell’s politics, then he could implement changes to better his kingdom. It was too late for him to turn Hell into a safe place for his daughter to grow up in, but he could at least put in the effort to change so he could be a part of his family’s lives again. And that was the main reason he put up with Athena and her antics for the past week.

She was never rude nor condescending, but there were times he wanted to throw her off the balcony because he did not want to be in her little tutoring sessions anymore and instead hide under a pile of blankets and rubber ducks. But he understood that there would be little to no doing that anymore because he would soon be taking up too much responsibility to lock himself in his tower.

But speaking of the owl, Lucifer stopped walking when he saw a winged shadow descending from the sky, and Athena landed in front of him. He couldn’t help but notice that she wasn’t using the wings tucked under her arms and wrapped around her torso at all. He wondered if she even tried to fly with them since they made their deal a week ago. “Your Majesty, so glad you could make it.”

Lucifer glanced around at the various roped off buildings hiding under fake walls and construction tarps with a raised eyebrow, “Hey, Goose. What’s uhh… What is all this?” The last time he came to see her in her office, the entirety of these establishments were not here. Her tournament arena was a giant colosseum that looked like it was pulled from a history book about the Roman Empire.

All these huge construction projects surrounding her existing establishment told Lucifer that she was expanding and on a massive scale. It was obviously something she had been planning for months or even years before he came to her in her office that day. There was no way this huge of a business upgrade was planned and carried out in less than seven days.

It would have taken an absurdly long time to plan and even longer to invest. Athena told him that she died in the early 1900’s, but she was only recently making her official debut as an Overlord. So he had to ask how she got this money and this much support to build all this.

“I called up the Pride Ring’s construction crew and paid them a pretty penny for their overtime efforts. No breaks, no safety restrictions,” Athena replied with an amused tone as she walked with Lucifer through the park. As the two of them spent more time together, the owl had gradually begun to be more casual with her speech. She was still reserved and polite, but the King began to see more of that chipper sense of humor that he initially spotted when he nicknamed her ‘Goose’ on the balcony.

Lucifer suddenly felt a ball of ice settle in the pit of his stomach. The agreement between him and Athena was that he was going to make his debut as King of Hell, but what did that mean? Apparently, that meant he was going to perform for an entire crowd in what looked like a half-finished amusem*nt park. That was already embarrassing enough, but what if those finished attractions were digs at him or an insult to him and his throne and his family?

But the owl seemed to know what was going on in his head. She had the uncanny and annoying ability to read others around her. It was probably how she got so much influence and finance in the Pride Ring. And apparently, she had much favor from residents of the other Rings, as well.

“I’m afraid I cannot yet reveal what the hired help has been working on, and unfortunately, a few of the projects were not able to be completed on time,” Athena mused as she walked with Lucifer down the street. It was then that he noticed she was carrying her usual briefcase. The owl had it strapped to the belt under her shirt while she was flying using the wings on her arms, and it just made Lucifer more sure that she either didn’t know how to fly using the wings on her back, or those wings just weren’t capable of flight.

She pulled out a few manilla folders before attaching the case back to the hook on her belt so she could freely sift through the documents. “I already had the attractions in mind before the project began, but the details and themes of them have been decided by your comments.”

She handed him the papers, and he flipped through blueprints and concept arts of each of the attractions that were hiding under those tarps. it was then that he remembered that Athena when Athena was making small talk with him during their little tutoring sessions, she was taking notes. He wondered what those notes were in that moment, but then he realized it was all of this.

Lucifer couldn't help but become engrossed in what he was looking at as he went through page after page in the folders. The attractions that were not fully operational yet had a little mark on them detailing why it was not finished, what remained to be done, and how long it was going to take to finish. He had a tendency to latch onto literally anything when he felt himself spiraling, so he became awfully invested in the papers in his hands as he was walking down the street.

He didn’t even notice that she had ushered him into the colosseum where her tournament was being held until they were already in the center of it. The structure was a monumental event when it was packed with roaring and cheering demons as they watched the vicious bloodshed in the arena. But when it was empty, the colosseum was a magnificent piece of architecture.

“Now,” Athena stopped walking, and Lucifer also stopped to see what she wanted. “My colosseum will open in three hours. My guards have told me that guests are already clambering at the gate to get in. My Championship will start, and you are going to be the opening act, Your Majesty~”

Lucifer froze like a deer in headlights.

Notes:

the championship arc has finally begun! thank you all for sticking with me for 100 chapters, it’s been your continued support through comments, kudos, and fanart that have kept me going for so long!

thank you for reading and for enjoying the ride and I hope to see you all in the next 100 chapters in the making >;3

ps check out my tumblr @avocavocado i’ve got my own art of athena up there and i’m gonna start a poll once i figure out how it works lmao

https://www.tumblr.com/avocavocado/750536550157254656

Chapter 101: Chapter 101

Chapter Text

Millie almost felt like bouncing on the balls of her feet in excitement as she walked down the street. When she was initially given the extra money by Athena last week, the Imp admitted to herself that she did not quite know what she wanted to spend it on. Maybe she could get an apartment in the Pride Ring. Living with the owl Overlord and her… other tenants ws not the worst thing in the world. But she still felt so out of place, especially when the other Sinners were walking around.

She was never a self-conscious demon, but being surrounded by so many imposing figures made her feel like a stranger in what should be her home. Living in the apartment complex was never meant to be a permanent thing, but Millie just did not have the funds to live on her own in the Pride Ring just yet.

The majority of housing goes to Sinners because they are forced to find housing in the Pride Ring. Landlords can charge whatever they want because they know Sinners won’t have nowhere else to go and can then bully them for more money.

However, Imps and other Hellborn can simply move to another Ring where the Sinner landlords can’t reach them. And it’s why many of those landlords just don’t allow Hellborn to rent their property; they can’t harass them for more than what they’re owed.

It would take an absurd amount of money to get a Sinner landlord to allow a Hellborn into their buildings, and that kind of money was not something Millie had at the moment. Her first thought was to start saving, but this Championship Overlord Athena was hosting was going to be a monumental event.

When Millie got back to her family’s farm, the entire community had come together to welcome her home and congratulate her on thriving in the Pride Ring. Word had gotten back to Wrath about how a native had been tearing up a tournament meant for Sinners, and she was the reigning champion at one of the most powerful Overlord’s place of business. It was then that the Imp decided she wanted to use that extra money to bring her family up to Pride for a few days so they could watch her compete from the comfort of top class seats.

She didn’t really expect the several blocks leading up to Overlord Athena’s colosseum to have weird buildings covered in fake walls and giant tarps on them. Some structures hiding under the coverings seemed rather tall, some were extremely small, and then there were a few odd shaped boxes like there was a giant sculpture under there or something.

“WOO!” Millie cheered as she punched the air in front of her, hopping around in front of her parents as they walked down the street with her sister next to them. Her father was carrying her bulky double-sided ax. When he and the rest of her family found out she was going to be in Overlord Athena’s Championship, he decided to sharpen the blade personally for the tournament. Millie was absolutely giddy at that. Her father hadn’t tended to her weapons since she was little and still working full time on the farm with them. “I’m so pumped up!”

Millie’s mother smiled softly at just how excited her daughter was, “We’re proud of you, sweetie. Not every Imp can say they’ve competed in a Pride Ring tourney and better yet, come out on top.”

“Knock ‘em dead, kiddo,” Millie’s father handed the hefty ax to his daughter before ruffling her already messy hair. “But not too much bloodshed this time, ya hear? You already got kicked out of the Pain Games.” He crossed his arms and winked at her, and Millie just whistled innocently and held the weapon behind her back before scurrying off into the colosseum so her family could find their reserved seats before the front gates could open to let all of the other demons in.

Lucifer was starting to panic. Athena’s colosseum was packed full of Sinner and Hellborn alike, and he was hiding in the owl’s office trying to catch his breath. When he stood in the empty arena, he felt so very small because of the grandiose scale of the establishment.

It was built for housing battles between Sinners with fantastical powers and even held events where a demon would organize an army to compete with an opponent’s army made of employed demons, and the crowd could watch essentially a fast-paced and larger than life chess game.

But now that the King could hear and see just how many demons were in those thousands of seats and just how many more were going to be listening in once Athena’s Championship started, he couldn’t help but feel even smaller. Lucifer paced around in the owl’s office anxiously, twisting the apple cane in his hands as his mental state slowly spiraled frantically.

He heard the door start to open, and he hurriedly straightened his posture just like how Lilith always told him to, trying to take a regal stance. He thought he was keeping a straight face, but he could feel his lips curl from the strained smile, and his eye twitched. “Hey, uhhh… Goose, you’re not really gonna… make me do this, are you…?”

Athena closed the door behind her to give the two of them some privacy, “Make you do this? Sire, I was under the impression that you were interested in becoming King again.”

Lucifer’s eyes widened slightly at her words, he then let himself slouch as he sighed heavily, “I am… I mean, yes, I want to reclaim my throne and all that jazz. It’s just…” He gestures vaguely around the room before running a hand through his hair, leaving it sticking up in tufts. “I’m just worried about what will happen during this little performance and what will happen after. Will I even do what I mean to do? I mean, the last time I tried to open Lu Lu World, the entirety of Hell laughed at me, and the other Sins practically cut me off as I had pretty much f*cked up their reputation.”

Lucifer started pacing again, and Athena stood by and watched. He had a habit of venting when he was panicking, and it always gave the owl more information to use later. But she had to make sure he didn’t fall too far; he wouldn’t be able to perform, and it would then f*ck up her reputation. “But if it does go well, and I become King again, then people will expect things from me. They’ll look up to me, and I don’t know if I can handle that responsibility.”

A heavy silence hung between them for a moment before he looked down at the floor, kicking an imaginary rock beneath his shoes, “I’m supposed to lead them… guide them… show them that there’s more to this afterlife than destruction and chaos…”

Athena watched Lucifer pace back and forth across the floor of her office, her small figure barely visible against the grandeur of the opulent surroundings. She knew how much being King again meant to him, even if he didn’t seem to believe it himself. “Sire, you’ve been King of Hell longer than most could imagine living. You have the experience and wisdom needed to lead these demons. They need you, whether they realize it or not.”

Chapter 102: Chapter 102

Chapter Text

Lucifer stopped mid-pace, staring blankly at the wall in front of him before slowly turning to face her, “I know that, Athena. It’s just… I haven’t done anything for Hell in so long, I don’t think anyone will care anymore. Hell’s gotten along fine without me, and I’m sure it’ll continue to do so.”

He looked down at the floor again, his eyes distant and his tone somber. “I just want to prove to Charlie and Lilith that I’m worth something, you know?” he laughed bitterly, “I isolated myself from them because I wasn’t good enough. I was never good enough. I damned all of humanity, and it’s only a matter of time before I damn my family, too. But maybe, if I can do something right here, maybe I won’t be the f*ck up I always thought I was…”

Athena struggled to keep her face blank as she listened to Lucifer’s tired rant, for once in her afterlife, not knowing what to say. She knew that the King had some hefty emotional baggage, but she didn’t expect him to just blurt it out right before he was set to debut. The time for his performance was less than an hour, so she needed to find a way to mend this or at least temporarily bandage it. There was no way something this deeply rooted was going to just go away.

She stepped forward, her black claws clicking against the hardwood floor as she approached Lucifer. She stood in front of him and placed a hand on his shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. It was a bizarre thing to think about, being close enough to the King of Hell to touch and even more absurd was actually touching him. Her mind raced with a way to cover this up, at least for a while. She couldn’t cure his mental distress, but she could offer a more objective approach to make his fears seem less dangerous than they actually were.

“Sire, you’re already proving yourself,” she replied. “By wanting to help your kingdom, by wanting to be a better ruler, you’re already showing that you care, much more so than when you were keeping yourself isolated for all those years. Now you’re on the right path, you just need to keep going.”

Lucifer’s gaze softened as he looked at her, his own smile growing a little wider, “Thank you, Goose. You’ve always been kind to me, even when I don’t deserve it.” Athena stopped herself from arguing with what he said; it could wait until later. She needed to build the King’s confidence and have him lean on her and depend on her. She needed to offer just enough to push him into doing his royal duties but do so in a way that kept him needing her for advice and emotional support.

He chuckled softly, “I guess I should get ready for the big debut, huh?” He ran a hand through his hair again, smoothing it out as best he could before putting his hat back on, adjusting it slightly in a mirror he had conjured on her wall. Athena felt her eye twitch, but Lucifer made the mirror disappear as soon as he was done with it. “Alright, let’s go see the wizard. Or… uh… whatever the modern version of that phrase is.”

“I’m afraid I don’t recognize that line, sire,” Athena replied with a raised eyebrow and an amused expression.

“Oh, right,” Lucifer leaned forwards so his upper weight was leaning on his cane. “I forget you’re old.” He then visibly winced because he realized that women do not like having their age mentioned, but Athena only took the jab in stride.

“Look who’s talking,” the owl flicked her tail with a smirk, glad that Lucifer was starting to unwind a little bit before the tournament began.

Alastor raced through the streets with a feral grin, feeling every bit the predator he knew he was as he hid in the shadows and zipped through alleyways like a wolf on a hunt. He was practically giddy with excitement, and it showed with how the radios around him sparked and glitched as he dashed past them.

His owner had been specific about his instructions before she left for work, and the deer knew right away that she was planning something monumental. He was only one piece of her schemes, and he couldn’t wait to see what sort of chaos and destruction would be brought onto Hell this time.

Athena had been in a fantastic mood all week, and her excitement was certainly reflecting her attitude towards him at their home. When she came back the day he packed her a poisoned lunch, she marched up to him as soon as she slipped into his apartment through the window. The owl latched onto his shirt and dragged him into the bedroom, and the deer admitted that his tail started to wag as soon as she started to manhandle him.

Alastor had to pause in his bloodthirsty pursuit to duck into an alley and manifest from the shadows to lean back against the wall with a breathy sigh. He ran his palms down his neck and his shoulders and his arms as he remembered her fangs and her claws tearing him apart that night. She had pressed her lips to his, and it was then that he realized she had tucked that last slice of poisoned catfish between her teeth and the inside of her cheek. Athena had grabbed his jaw to pry his mouth open only to feed him the toxic meat as she pushed him back onto the bed.

The deer shuddered as he reached out for the chain around his neck. He slid his palm down the links and sucked in a breath when the thistles sliced his skin. Alastor knew that there was once a time where he cursed these bindings, but now he couldn’t be happier. He brought the vine-like links to his lips and ran his tongue across the cold metal as if he was tasting a meal. Athena had given him a command, and judging her excitement from the previous week, Alastor had to assume that what she was planning would shake the very foundation of Hell.

Even without the context of knowing that Athena was an evil mastermind, the deer was excited about the order itself he was given just by itself. As Alastor slipped back into his shadow, his grin turned sinister. This was something he had wanted to do for decades, but he never got the chance to. But Athena had been scheming this for weeks, months, years, he didn’t know.

The owl had twisted Alastor’s leash and had given him an order that he couldn’t refuse, and the deer felt himself dance like a puppet on strings for her. It felt like he wasn’t even in control of his own body when he woke up that morning and dashed out of the apartment. He still didn’t know the terms of the Soul Contract between the two of them, but with this show of power, Alastor could only assume that there was an enchantment that made it impossible for him to deny any official commands.

The Alastor that first fell into Hell decades ago would have been repulsed and infuriated by the idea of carrying out the orders of another Sinner like a dog. The Alastor of today found it to be thrilling. He knew that he had changed over the years because of Athena, but his mother always did tell him that love changes people. He never did feel that romantic spark between him and his owner, but he was still perfectly content with allowing all of Hell to think that he and Athena were dating because it wasn’t entirely wrong.

Alastor loved Athena in his own way, and she loved him in her own way. The way they express their love to each other was wrong and twisted and sick, but they were both in Hell for a reason.

Chapter 103: Chapter 103

Notes:

warning: panic attack

Chapter Text

Lucifer rolled his neck, breathing deeply as the satisfying crack of joints helped his shoulders relax as he stood with his back straight and his palms sitting on the apple of his cane. He could hear the bloodthirsty roars of the crowd on the other side of the door.

Athena was in the arena of the colosseum doing what announcers do, hyping up the audience to get them more excited by the day’s events. The demons in the stands were all here for her tournament, and the King thought he was going to be an interruption or an unwanted annoyance because they were all here for some bloodshed and violence, not a campy performance from the Pride Ring’s resident tower hermit.

But he then gripped the apple on his cane with white-knuckles when he heard Athena announce to the waiting demons that there was going to first be an

appearance from the King of Hell himself. Lucifer took a step back from the door, already starting to tune out the world around him. The pressure had returned and it increased tenfold, weighing him down like heavy chains.

He was drowning out the noise from beyond that closed door, or maybe the demons on the other end were just silent. Were they stunned at Athena’s declaration? Were they in disbelief? Were they disappointed because they weren’t getting the immediate bloodshed they were promised?

Lucifer took a few more steps back. He thought he could do this. He wanted to do this. He wanted to go out there and inspire his people just like his wife has been. He remembered the first time he saw her take the stage. The way she moved as she performed, the way her power carried her lyrics, and her melodious and empowering voice drifting throughout the entirety of the Pride Ring.

There were many nights Lucifer would fantasize being on stage with her, ruling their kingdom together like they should be. If he wasn’t such a failure as a husband and a father and a King, then he could have been with his family instead of hiding away in his workshop.

A dark green chain wrapped around his wrist, latching onto him like handcuffs and pulling him towards the door. Lucifer instinctively dug in his heels to keep it from dragging him any further. His soul was not owned by Athena, but the deal they made still held some power over him. She held up her end of the deal, and he had to hold up his.

He was about to run away from the door; he was about to escape to isolation so he wouldn’t have to face the Sinners under his rule. These Sinners were the souls he damned to eternal fire and brimstone because he gave Eve the Fruit of Knowledge so many years ago.

Lucifer was able to see that the chain around his wrist stopped right before it got to the door, there were only a few thorny links tugging him across the floor, so at least nobody in the arena would be able to see the chains on him. He didn’t think he could handle both a sh*tty attempt at a performance and the possibility of the Sinners seeing that he was held down by chains.

Lucifer tried to calm his racing heart, but every beat felt like a hammer against his ribcage. His vision blurred at the edges, and his breaths were coming out in gasps. He frantically scratched at the ground with his boots as he was pulled inch by inch to the door, and that’s when the tears fell.

But then the chains were gone. Lucifer started to fall back from the sudden absence of the force pulling him forwards, but he didn’t feel himself hit the ground. At least, he didn’t think he did. Everything around him was fading in and out of existence. Something grabbed his hand, something warm and so unlike the cold and unforgiving chains that were wrapped around his wrist mere moments ago, and it guided his palm to something soft.

He could feel what he could only describe as the beat of a drum behind slow and controlled rising and falling. “Breathe…” It was a familiar but fuzzy voice, and Lucifer ended up clinging to that voice like a lifeline. He tried to match his own breaths to the movement of the thing under his palm. He did as instructed, focusing solely on the rhythm of his breathing, trying to slow the frantic pace. The room slowly stopped spinning and his vision cleared up, but the crushing weight of anxiety didn’t lift from his chest.

“Sire? Are you still with me?”

Lucifer groaned as his blurry vision finally started to gain some color and shape. There was a silhouette towering above him, but after a few seconds of controlling his breathing, he was able to make out the features of Athena standing over him. Was he laying down? He shifted and felt something like a blanket wrapped around his back and shoulders. It was then that he realized the placement of his legs. He was sitting on the floor and leaning back into the owl’s wing, and his palm was on her chest right under her collarbone.

“Leave me alone, Goose,” Lucifer said through gritted teeth, trying to shake off her comforting touch. But even as his arms tried to half-heartedly push her away, he couldn’t help but lean into her warmth, seeking some form of solace. “I can’t… I can’t do this…” His voice trailed off into a whisper, filled with despair and self-loathing.

Athena swallowed thickly and bit the inside of her cheek with uncertainty, an emotion that was truly rare for her. She believed that her knee jerk reaction would have been to throw him to the ground and call him weak for running away like this, but she couldn’t this time. And it wasn’t because Lucifer was the King. memories she wanted to keep buried started to claw their way to the forefront of her mind even though she had buried them decades ago.

It was a time she much rather forget. But this time, Athena thought she might have use of them. She was a different person now then when she was alive, and the person she was not was not equipped for handling something like this. This mental instability was something that she could exploit later, but right now, she needed Lucifer to be at his best.

“I’m not cut out for this,” he huffed bitterly. “Why did I let her talk me into this?”

Athena continued to hold Lucifer in her wing. She could feel his heart rate gradually slowing down, and she knew he was starting to regain control over his emotions. “Because this is something you want to do, sire,” she replied, and when the King shot her a dazed but shocked look, she just softly smirked at him. He probably thought he was having an inner monologue. “You were talking aloud.”

Lucifer opened his mouth to argue, then snapped it shut again. He lowered his head and leaned into her, curling up into her wing, “You’re wrong,” he finally managed to say, his voice barely above a whisper. “I don’t want this. I never wanted this.”

Athena sighed silently and pursed her lips. She knew she wasn’t just referring to her tournament when he said that. Lucifer didn’t want to be King, not anywhere and especially not Hell. He was still so ashamed of himself because of the incident in the Garden of Eden. He never wanted Hell to form; he just wanted humanity to be free. But now was his chance to finally do so.

Lucifer pulled away from Athena, standing up shakily on his feet. He glanced back at her as she also stood up and wrapped her wings back around her torso again. “But I’ll do it anyway. For them,” he added, referring to his family. “And for you.”

Chapter 104: Chapter 104

Chapter Text

Angel Dust as he tried flipping through various games on his phone to cure his boredom. Cherri Bomb was next to him, leaning against a wall with her single eye narrowed in a show of extreme irritation. She had her arms under her chest as she absentmindedly blew bubble gum repeatedly. Honestly, the spider was impressed that his friend was sitting still for so long, but she did not seem to be very happy about it.

“How f*ckin’ long do we haveta sit here?” The cyclops Sinner almost whined as she threw her head back and nearly bashing it against the wall behind her. “I thought you said we were goin’ to that high-end f*ckfest on the other side of town.”

“We will, but uhhh…” Angel looked around, carefully eying every piece of machinery in sight. He spotted several surveillance cameras, but they appeared to be turned off because the blinking red light was noticeably absent. And when he glanced at the collection of screens across the street, he saw that all of them were glowing blue with a message reading that Voxtech was down for maintenance or some bullsh*t.

The spider immediately thought that was strange. Athena had asked him to steal Vox’s appointments for this week, and there was not a scheduled maintenance today or even this month. It was possible that Vox just had another temper tantrum, which was very in character for him, but the situation surrounding this supposed maintenance was far too suspicious.

After Angel gave her the schedule, he expected her to immediately give him the passes to that nightclub she was talking about, but instead she told him that it was not going to be a good idea to go until the end of the week. The spider admittedly got pissy and demanded the tickets because he did what she asked of him, and it was a pretty big ask. Stealing from an Overlord is already bad enough, but to be stealing from Vox, who is Valentino’s partner (in a business sense and romantic/sexual sense) was even worse.

But the owl was not phased. She simply told Angel that he would be given the passes after her Championship, which was only a few days away. But until then, he needed to be patient. In the meantime, she strongly emphasized that he spend some time in the Vee’s territory when her tournament was about to start. Angel had little to no interest in ever going back to that hellhole if he did not need to, but there was something about Athena’s words and tone that made it seem urgent.“Trust me,” Athena had said with a devilish grin. “You will want to be near the Vee’s Tower when my tournament begins.

“We’re goin’ after the Championship is over, Cherri,” Angel took a drag from his cigarette, completely ignoring the rando Sinner who was leering at him no more than a few meters away. The cyclops flicked her wrist and tossed a bomb his way, and the spider instantly reacted and used his second pair of arms to reach up and cover his ears as the explosion rocked the street with enough force to make him feel it through the ground.

He truly didn’t know how Cherri was able to take those explosions day after day. A few times when Angel was hanging with her, his eardrums would blow out, and Val threw an absolute fit the day after because he couldn’t follow orders from the director or play off the other actors on set. The moth had just decided to forgo filming that day and instead dragged Angel to his office for a few hours.

Angel Dust knew that the reason Athena wanted him to be a few blocks away from the Vee’s Tower for a good reason. The owl was slightly grumpy at times, but she had done more for him than almost anyone else had in a long time. She offered to house him away from Valentino and even taught him how to hide from the moth after leaving the studio. He knew she had ulterior motives, but what she had done still saved him months of pain because of his boss.

As much as he hated the idea of going to that moth motherf*cker’s turf voluntarily. But he felt like Athena wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important. He spent a few hours pacing his room debating on what to do. They had only known each other for a few months, so he still didn’t trust her, but Angel believed he was fairly good at reading people. It wouldn’t be like Athena to suggest he go to the place he was trying to escape from without some kind of plan.

So he decided to humor her, but he was not going to go without Cherri. It took him some time to convince her to come with him, especially because she was even less trusting of Athena than he was. And when Angel told the cyclops that Athena was not going to give them the passes for that nightclub unless they were within eyeshot of the Vee’s Tower for the duration of her Championship, she got even more irate. Apparently Cherri wanted to go to that tournament and certainly was upset that her plans had to be canceled for something like this.

Angel was pulled from his thoughts when he spotted something move from the corner of his eye. He had seen it far too many times to not recognize it on sight. A shadow was slinking along the ground with glowing green eyes and moved with the quiet cry of a stag. What the f*ck was Alastor doing here? It had to have something to do with Athena? Was he tasked with keeping Angel safe?

The spider knew that the owl wore the pants in the relationship (not that he would tell anyone that), and he knew the deer wasn’t exactly his biggest fan. Just the other day, he made a lewd suggestion to him about how he could use his body to get Athena’s attention by putting on something skimpy. And that was not a good idea.

Angel was pulled from his thoughts again when yet another Overlord appeared in front of him. Black and white fur, bright red wings, a gray suit and a grumpy expression; it was Husk, the Gambling Demon and the Overlord who owned literally every good casino in the Pride Ring. “What the f*ck are you doin’ here?” Cherri pushed herself off the wall and reached for another bomb. She had little to no care about the status and power of Overlords and would sooner blow one up rather than make small talk with them.

Husk shrugged with the bottle in his paw, the liquid inside the beer bottle he was holding sloshing around and almost spilling out. “Same reason as you motherf*ckers,” Husk shrugged as he started to down his own drink as well before leaning against the wall next to Angel. The spider blinked in confusion. First of all, he didn’t even know why he was here so how could Husk know?

Cherri glanced at Angel again, who offered her a shaky thumbs up (even though his mind was still reeling), and then sighed loudly as if this was the biggest inconvenience in the world. She lit her bomb and threw it anyway, and the spider pressed his palms over his ears again as it went off. He noticed that Husk didn’t move except for his ears. They pinned back against his head at the sound of the explosion, but not even his expression changed. Cherri dragged herself over to the Gambling Demon. She put a hand on her hip and gave him a bored look. “Ya willin’ to sell some of that liquor, furball? If I haveta stand here any f*ckin’ longer without at least a few hundred shots, I’m gonna lose my sh*t.”

Radio Demon Duo - avocavocado (2024)

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