if seungwan hadn't been holding on to her, joohyun is fairly certain she would've collapsed.
trumpets start blaring in all directions before it's followed by snare drums and saxophones. in what sounds like a cacophony of a badly coordinated marching band, joohyun clamps her hands over her ears. how fitting of hell to be so unpleasant. in a deep breath, her barely maintained facade of calmness threatens to slip.
she scrunches her eyes shut, fearing that she might see something that would haunt her for the rest of her days. besides, she can barely focus on anything else since it's so ing hot down here. the heat is bordering on unbearable and she doesn't think she can spend another second here. can we go? she tries to plead but there's a tightness in that refuses to dissipate. her stomach lurches — she wants to throw up for real now. she stumbles out of seungwan's hold, squirming and shaking as her hands and knees meet the ground beneath her. bad move, the rocky ground is even worse, it cuts her skin and threatens to set her ablaze.
and then it comes back all at once; a buried nightmare resurfacing like waves crashing into the shore. most of it has faded due to time, but the sensation of flames at her skin is clear as day. thick smoke filling up her lungs, she's trapped and she can't breathe. so she draws a gulp of air into her lungs but it doesn't feel like she's getting enough oxygen, so she does it again and again and again. she screaming now, for help, for anyone — but nobody hears her.
a pair of arms scoop her up gently and she feels herself spinning. or maybe it's the world that's spinning. she wraps her hands around them and buries her face into the crook of their neck, anything to feel a semblance of safety. they're moving somewhere as far as she can tell because the temperature begins to plummet. the air around her steadily cools until joohyun feels the goosebumps on her skin. she tries inhaling again, this time, her lungs fill with a breath of fresh, cool air.
joohyun cracks an eye open and looks up at the voice. seungwan is looking down at her, but those glowing red eyes are filled with concern. nodding shakily, she begins to regain her senses.
"sorry," the word spills automatically as her cheeks flush with embarrassment. she unhooks her arms from seungwan's nape and pats the demon so that she could be let down.
seungwan declines with a shake of her head, "it's fine, i wouldn't want to step off if i were you."
"where are we..?"
for the first time ever, joohyun dares to take a look around. she shifts and cranes her neck to glimpse at the massive cavern they're in. she gasps in awe and a small, misty cloud appears. it's freezing in here, what happened to all the heat?
"we're in the ninth circle," seungwan explains, "normally i wouldn't bring mortals down here but you weren't adjusting to the heat at all, so i figured going to the coldest place might help."
so they're in the deepest parts of hell, how in the world did she find herself here? a scream erupts from as she sees a hand break through the icy ground, threatening to grab the demon's foot. clicking her teeth, seungwan raises her foot and stomps harshly, snapping it like a twig before sending it sliding into the distance with a kick.
"sorry about that, they're usually never this close to the surface." the devil mumbles with a slight tinge of annoyance in her voice.
they? surface? does that mean there's more underneath? "w-who?" joohyun’s voice quakes when she asks, maybe she shouldn't have asked.
"dictators, incels, basically any soul that’s too scummy for reincarnation.” seungwan shrugs, “we pull them up every once in a while, usually after their flesh is practically glued to the ice, and then we give them a good flaying before putting them back here.”
the mortal scrunches her face in horror as she takes in the information — dictators and incels below in the same circle of hell? and… there is heaven and hell, but there’s reincarnation too..? her mind whirls at the thought of her own humanity, what if she ends up here someday too?
“relax, you won’t end up here.” the demon chuckles whilst shaking her head, “unless you have dreams of becoming a dictator.”
joohyun gags at the thought, “no thanks.”
another hand attempts to claw its way past the thick ice and seungwan is quick to send them back under like she’s playing a game of whack-a-mole.
“c-can we go?” the mortal’s teeth chatter as the frigid air begins to make its way through her clothes. and to be frank, she has no idea why seungwan whisked her to the depths of the underworld, is this part of the pact?
“oh yeah, back to business.” seungwan says with a grin, “hold on tight.”
that’s all the warning joohyun needs to wrap her arms tightly around the demon that she’s spent the last couple of hours trying to figure out how to get rid of.
the world warps and spins for a split second, and then they’re out of the ninth circle. joohyun swallows the bile in as seungwan lets her down slowly. she expects to be thrown back in the heat again, but strangely, the temperature seems just right, neither too warm nor cool.
“you’ll get used to teleporting eventually, if you need to throw up, just give me a heads up.” the demon says casually as she walks behind a large wooden desk.
they’re in a huge office, fitting for an executive, but one of the walls is painted with a large mural… of the demon? she looks almost angelic with blonde hair cascading down the sides of her face. with her eyes pressed shut, her face is frozen in a peaceful expression. her hands tent in a prayer-like manner with a pair of white wings spread out behind her. but the horns that sprout from her temple are jagged and seem to sharpen to an awkward point, robbing the mural of any sort of ease it may have given off.
“like what you see?” the demon teases with a smirk, “the real deal is right here.”
joohyun frowns as she strolls over to seungwan, “you don’t look like that.”
“that’s because it’s a painting, duh,” she scoffs in response, “i gave seulgi all the artistic liberty.”
seulgi? joohyun vaguely recalls seeing that name on the demon’s business card, but who the hell is seulgi?
“beelzebub,” seungwan answers upon noticing her confusion, “she’s kinda like my right-hand man along with yerim, or baal, if you recognise their demon names. no idea how your sister managed to summon all of us, but seulgi helped her out with math.”
oh, joohyun nods slowly. “but isn’t she your best friend?”
“yes but only when we’re not in front of mortals and angels. we’ve got a reputation to keep up too, alright?” the demon clicks her teeth. however casual seungwan may be when it comes to running hell, there is still an established hierarchy to be followed.
joohyun roams around her office while she gets the paperwork ready for their pact. she’s attracted to the large windows overlooking what is presumably the rest of hell, only when she presses her face against the glass does she realise how high up they are. for hell, the view looks magnificent, though it looks like they dropped a modern cityscape down here, with all the skyscrapers and tall buildings that seem to go on for miles. none seem to be as high as the one they are in though.
“we’re in the heart of hell,” seungwan informs her from behind, “the fourth circle is where everything happens, business district if you will.”
“why do you need a business district?”
“capitalism.” the demon says as if it’s the most obvious thing ever, “did you really think humans are capable of coming up with something this horrible?”
joohyun opens to retort but shuts it just as quickly. maybe it’s relieving to know that capitalism is a demon-born concept and that humans aren’t as terrible as she thought.
“anywaaaaay,” seungwan grabs her by the arms and begins ushering her towards a chair, “it’s time to get married.”
the mortal drops her jaw in surprise as the demon pushes her down into a comfortable armchair, “what?”
for a split second, she panics, what if the demon lied to her? she can already hear sooyoung in her head — why would you trust her after what i said? there’s no way things are as easy as it seems, there’s probably more than what the demon has told her.
seungwan groans as she trudges to her own seat, “can’t you play along just for a little? it’s not every day i’m signing pacts with mortals you know.”
“it’s weird how you think any mortal would want to be married to a demon…” joohyun exhales sharply while the demon has a stupid little grin on her face again.
“maybe you’d reconsider at the end of our pact.” seungwan shrugs as she slides a piece of paper across her desk, “here.”
the mortal pours her eyes over the lengthy document while the demon begins her tedious explanation. terms and conditions of a pact, who knew demons would be so upright about contracts?
“first and foremost, eradicating humankind, angelkind, and demonkind is off the list. so any wish leading up to any of those outcomes, i cannot grant.” seungwan starts as she reads of her own copy of the document, “secondly, this only applies to the more ambitious mortals, but the more demanding a wish, the higher the price point. you can look at some popular examples down below. if you’re going to wish for like a nice house or murdering your cheating husband, don’t sweat it, i got you covered.”
joohyun skims down to a list just below the second clause.
world domination 7,777,777,777 souls
becoming the pope 6,666,666,666 souls
superpowers (any kind of non-mortal ability) 5,555,555,555 souls
ending world hunger 4,444,444,444 souls
eternal happiness 3,333,333,333 souls
“why is becoming the pope more expensive than ending world hunger?” joohyun frowns.
seungwan scoffs, “because the pope is practically the president of the angels’ fan club. i didn’t like it, so i bumped it up. imagine asking the devil if it could make you the leader of the angels’ fan club, unbelievable!”
petty, joohyun muses. “how is anyone going to get so many souls anyway?”
the demon clasps her hands together with a smile, “exactly, we’ll let you figure that out. so we’re not saying we won’t grant it, but you just have to pay us to do so.”
“why don’t you just take it off the list if you don’t want to grant it?” the mortal sighs.
“because that’s bad for business, silly mortal,” seungwan tuts, “you have no idea how many fools sell their souls and think they could take over the world.”
joohyun quirks a brow, “why would they sell their souls after looking at this?”
“because we’re forming a pact, everything is fair and honorable here. we’re not like that when it comes to soul-binding and blood contracts. most of the time, we enter a contract upon being summoned, so there’s no room for backing out.” the devil explains before returning her attention to the piece of paper in her hand, “anyway, moving on to the third clause, i can’t kill you for the duration of our pact, neither can i let you die.”
“and after the pact?” joohyun swallows nervously.
“that’ll depend on whether i like you or not, but i’m sure you’ll be fine.” seungwan hums, “and final clause, if there is no duration stated for the pact, then it will last for all eternity, transcending all lifetimes, until either party ceases to exist. again, don’t sweat it, we’re only going to be married for a year.”
one year sounds long enough, but for eternity? won’t they get sick of each other at some point? pulling herself out of her thoughts, she looks up to see seungwan eyeing her expectantly.
“with all that out of the way, do you still wanna marry me?”
if she says no at this point, she fears that the devil might just eat her soul, if that’s even possible. then again, it doesn’t sound that bad. joohyun lets a small, resigned chuckle slip, “i already said yes, didn’t i?”
“thank ! i’m not dying anytime soon!” seungwan leaps out of her chair and punches the air excitedly, her sudden outburst causes joohyun to jump but she pays the mortal no mind. pulling open a drawer, seungwan brandishes a sharp dagger and hops over the desk to draw a line across joohyun’s palm.
a red slit appears across her skin as seungwan presses her hand towards her lips, swallowing a few drops of the mortal’s blood. a gross and archaic process, but nobody in hell wants to come up with a new way to form pacts. she then smashes joohyun’s bleeding palm against the paper before proceeding to do the same — cutting her palm and staining the paper with her own blood.
“what the hell…” the mortal mutters in utter disgust as she snatches her hand back to cradle it protectively.
“congratulations on getting your very own guardian devil!”
with a snap of her fingers, the devil summons the local marching band to give her new charge a hellish welcome, and joohyun looks ready to strangle her. what can she say? this wouldn't be hell if they had a good band.
getting married in chapter 5 how gay of them,,,
hopefully the intro to this chap provides a little insight as to how the rest of the fic might turn out, and look i'm not very confident abt writing it but i wanna try everything before i dip u_u i'm very fragile so when the later parts of the fic drops and u decide it's not ur cup of tea pls do not tell me i will curl up and cry
anyway!!! thank u for reading, i hope u had fun!!! no update tmr i have to do Things... yikes...