The stench of Hell stung Salseph’s nostrils. Lost Souls¸ how he hated to return home. For all his trials on Earth, he preferred the human realm to this insufferable place. In the mortal plane, he could glamour, hide his wings and actually feel as if he belonged, at least for a time.
Evolerzzal, a slimy glob of green flesh, grabbed Seph’s shoulder as he passed into the gloom of the Demon Realm. “Well if it isn’t Salseph the Beautiful. What are you doing here amongst us humble creatures?” With a clawed hand, he beckoned Charzzel, a demon of the Second Order. “Look who’s come home.”
Seph shrugged free, arched his wings. The dim, smoky light refracted off his feathers, and the movement immediately drew the attention of every demon in sight. His jaw tightened, a muscle twitching. He yearned to drive his fist into the monstrous face and take to the air, but it wasn’t really Evol’s fault that the demons hated him. Paimon had insured that Salseph was an oddity, a freak. His appearance and the majestic wings set him apart from the others of his kind. Hell, there were no others of his kind. In all of Perdition, he was the only demon who looked like an angel. His face was handsome, his body lean and muscled—the body of a man, not a monstrosity—his blond hair thick and silky.
“I smell angel,” a low-ranking atrocity shouted, his high-pitched voice rasping like sandpaper on Seph’s nerves.
The demons stank of brimstone and ash. Salseph’s creator hadn’t missed a single detail in replicating a celestial being. Like an angel, Seph possessed an individual, mysterious scent, the airy fragrance part of his allure.
A disgustingly ugly brute pretended to stumble, crushing one of the long white feathers trailing the ash-gray ground. “Hello Salseph.” Two fingers with sharp talons drifted down his wing. “Wish I had pretty wings.”
Seph’s stomach clenched. He flinched from the touch, arching his wings high. A laugh rumbled from the creature. The fiends detested him as much as he abhorred them.
“I think he’s hideous,” a demon in the shadows called. “Angels are our enemies. Every time I look at him, I want to draw sword.”
Jealousy and envy gleamed in Evol’s red eyes. The demon reeked of the Pit. Sulfur wasn’t an enticing perfume. “Now, who would want to spit our lovely Salseph on a sword?”
“Let me pass.” Seph would have shouldered by Evol, but he didn’t want to touch the creature.
“Coming home from another assignment?” Evol smirked.
Seph refused to give the other demon the satisfaction of a reply. He was returning from another demeaning mission with his guts in a knot and his heart bleeding for a poor human woman whose only sin was falling in love with him.
“Did you eat her baby or pump one into her womb?” Evol leered, his glob of a head tilted to the side, his hairy ears wagging.
“I don’t consume human flesh. Now step aside.”
“Or you’ll do what? Report me to Paimon?”
Seph flared his wings, striking the demon and knocking him back. “Sorry, Evol.” He drove his wings down hard, rising straight into the sultry, close air. Voice dripping sarcasm, he said, “Sometimes I forget how powerful my wings are.”
Wings rising and falling slowly, he hovered over the grotesque blob. Why were they all so fiendish? One of the monsters tried to capture his ankle. Laughing, he flew higher and, still chuckling, soared toward home—the place he lived. He’d never thought of the dim stone cavern as home.