The Damned (The Unearthly Book 5)By: Laura Thalassa
Eons and eons ago, the fates decided to fashion a woman for an untamable god. One saw it as a gift to honor his greatness. Another saw it as a curse to bring destruction on his house. The third saw it as a chance for the world to evolve.
They planned and plotted the woman’s birth and death and spoke of her far before she breathed life.
And the god, he was intrigued.
The eons came and eons went, and the world forgot. But the god didn’t.
And when the time came, Nona spun his intended into existence. Whether by accident or by plan, the fate grabbed the thread of the god’s undying creation—a vampire—along with the dark god’s own, and she twined both cords to that of his betrothed.
All three forever to be bound.
The god’s intended and his creation found each other, for a time, and the thread that bound them pulled tight. Then their time ended, and another began.
And so the woman became the dark god’s and the dark god became hers. Heaven and earth revolted, and now hell will pay.
“Welcome to hell, my queen.”
The roar of the crowd was thunderous. Their moans, their screams, their exultations blended with the crackle of fire. I couldn’t even say what emotion rode the hordes that stared back at us. Excitement seemed too pleasant a word. Blood-hunger seemed better—the kind of fervor that fueled mobs. It stared back at me. It wanted to devour me.
I stood outside on a castle balcony, the devil at my side. Scorching flames rose all around us, as far as the eye could see, yet I felt none of the inferno’s heat.
My hand shook in the devil’s, and his thumb began rubbing circles on my skin. Perhaps it was meant to relax me. It did the opposite.
“Enough,” he said to his subjects.
Hades, I corrected myself, I have to think of him as Hades.
He hadn’t raised his voice, but the crowd quieted. If you could call it that. Out there, in the land of eternal suffering, nothing was quiet.
“Meet my consort, Gabrielle Fiori, Regina Inferna, Queen of Hell.”
Gabrielle Fiori, a thousand different beings whispered, testing my name on their tongues. I could hear them even over the shrieks of the burning souls, and I could feel their intrigue brush against my skin.
Demons. Demons whispered my name.
“You are to give her the respect a queen deserves. Anything less will be met with …” the devil paused for effect, “severe punishment.” He didn’t need to smile to alert every single being in that room that he’d love nothing more than doling out more pain.
On that sobering note, he tugged on my hand. “Come, consort. We have much to discuss.”
My palm sweated as he led me back up the stairs.
I am in hell. I am in hell. I am in hell.
“Yes, you are,” Hades said, answering my thoughts. Our footsteps echoed ominously in the abandoned castle. “Finally, you’re here with me. The centuries I have waited for this. And now the waiting is over.”
So this was how it all ended. Here in this damned realm that felt so crowded yet so lonely, and me trapped by this man’s eyes and our bond. I should’ve known the first time I saw him, standing amidst the flames of my burning house, that this would be how it ended—in another house of flames.
“There are two areas of hell you must know about,” the devil said. “The inside and the outside—the palace and the fields. We are, as you might’ve guessed, currently on the inside, and you have glimpsed what is on the outside.
“The palace is where you’ll be staying for most of the time.”
I looked up at the ceiling, feeling the walls of this place close in on me. Stuck here, confined to a palace. It might be large, it might be vast, but it was still a prison.
The devil must’ve read my thoughts for he said, “Of course, if you wish to join me in punishing the damned, you are always welcome outside.”
As he led me through the castle, he gestured to some of the doors we passed. “Torture chamber. Torture chamber. Conference room. Torture chamber.”
“I’m noticing a theme here,” I said.
The devil smirked but said nothing. His shoes clicked against the stone floor. I’d come to hate the sound of them.