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Adventure! RPG: Dark Tidings - [Fiction] Keeping up with the Abels

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Spot was nervous. Daphne wasn't much calmer. In all their travels together in Hell, they'd never experienced something as unsettling and offputting as this... this... thing. Spot turned his head and wacked his nose against the clear stone again; in agitation, he spread his wings and thumped them against the top of the thing. Daphne tried to comfort him, but when she reached for him, the thing turned, and she was rocked into Spot's side. He snarled at her, and she snarled back; for a moment, it looked dangerous, but the hellhound backed down and laid on the seat again.

She hadn't been afraid when they'd gotten in it, back at the building where she'd met them. Even the growling and the shaking hadn't bothered her. But the moving... it made her sick to her stomach, like the time she'd eaten the wrong thing in a daemon. And from the whuffing noises Spot was making, he wasn't much happier.

Daphne glanced around nervously; this otto-mha-bill was moving way too fast, and she couldn't see why or how to stop it. It seemed inheriently dangerous, and other otto-mha-bills raced by it, right next to it! It was horrifying to the young primative. There was a vague memory of her actually enjoying riding in something like this, but that was buried under her fear and panic. "Marion...!" she whimpered, as Spot clambered to his feet, swinging his head around again.

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Eying the winged wolf warily, Marion twisted around in the front seat to put a hand out and cover Daphne's on the seat.

"Don't be afraid, Daphne. Look at me. I'm not scared at all, and I'm right here with you. We're going to be just fine."

She smiled confidently, trying not to think about the ferry. Had Daphne ever seen that much water? How would the wolf-thing-beast react?

Not to mention Ben.

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Ben slowly parked his Parkard onto the ferry after saying farewell to Arch and Mia at the Aeon Chapter. All in all, it had been a rather tiring night, what with the death of Mr. Strakovski and all. Ben eased to a halt, turned off the car and climbed out. He was still carrying the mysterious Box, as he'd not been able to make heads or tales of the symbols on his own. Unlike anything he'd seen before and that was impressive. Maybe Marion would have better luck, and at any rate, the Library might reveal something useful.

Ben leaned on a lamppost on the pier, and waited for Marion to get back from her shindig. He certainly hoped that tonight would get less interesting from this point forward.

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They turned the corner to the pier and all of Daphne's protests and fidgeting stopped. For a second, she was quiet; then she shouted, "Look at all water!"

The driver, already terrified from the cargo in the back street flinched but didn't crash. He did slam on the brakes when Daphne opened the car and gracefully hopped out. The car had slowed considerably and the hop wasn't hard for the young girl, or for the monstrous beast that followed close behind.

To Ben, it appeared as though a tall child in an adult's coat jumped out of Marion's moving car, chased by a nightmare of a creature. The massive dog bore bat wings, slightly spread for balance, and glowing green eyes. Reddish-black fur finished out the horrible sight.

"Khrskkrrik ahanrrish, Ben-brother-of-Marion!" the child sang out as it passed him, dumping the overcoat on the ground as it - no, she, and no child, either - dashed past. This might not have been an issue, save that she wasn't wearing a stitch of clothing underneath. As Marion called out warnings and protests, the woman and the dog-thing splashed into the filthy harbor.

Laughing, the petite woman threw water into the air, giggling as it came down on her and the dog-thing. It was bouncing around her and tossing water in the air as well, but didn't appear to be attacking her. "Too much water to carry!" she giggled. She seemed terribly delighted, even when she caught some of the foul water of Boston Harbor in her mouth. "We need waterskins for water! Many waterskins!"

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Ben remained remarkably calm, considering the sight - surprise was the only real emotion running through Ben's face. I see Marion has had an interesting night too, thought Ben.

The child was clearly enjoying herself, and was in no apparent danger, so Ben walked up to Marion, who had by this time run to the edge of the pier. "So... do I get any hints, dearest sister? I'm guessing your night was about as exciting as mine..."

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"Daphne, no!" Marion calls out, startled. She dashes after the child-woman, waving her hand. "Daphne, that water's not for drinking!"

She picks the coat up and spares a glance for Ben that betrays her weariness. "If your night was anything near what mine was, I'll drink that water myself."

"Daphne, get Spot and come out of there. It's not good to drink!"

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"Not bad to drink, either," Daphne said, but came out of the water. As she walked forward into the light, the "child" was clearly a short, thin woman. "How so much water get here?"

The dog-creature followed, dripping wet and steaming slightly. As Marion practically forced her into the coat, the thing approached Ben, sniffing boldly. His wet-dog smell mixed oddly with the scent of soap and the half-lurking aroma of sulfur. "Spot!" Daphne called, and the creature returned to her side.

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Ben looked down at the two soggy newcomers. "It's alright, Spot is it? Come here boy!" Ben extended the back of his hand out for the, well, Ben guessed that it was probably a dog of some description, though the wings were a little out of place. Not to mention the glowing green eyes, for that matter. Ah well, best not to judge - while he'd never had much luck with glowing eyes (usually that was a sign something was very wrong), The doglike thing seemed not to be too violent for the moment.

"You're a very strange dog aren't you? Come here, we'd probably better..." It was at this point he noticed that Spot was steaming from the paws. "Well, okay, guess you don't need a towel down at all, do you? You'll probably dry off yourself in no time!" Ben looked at Daphne, in a look that more looked at her entire self rather than directly to her face. "Although you - Daphne is it? Lovely name! - we'd better get you dry - you'll catch your death from cold if we don't. I'm sure there's a towel on the ferry, We'll grab it when we get on board. Oh, as for where all the water came from, well, It usually falls from the sky around here. There's quite a bit of it lurking around here!"

Ben looked towards Marion as he started to walk towards the ferry "I'm going to assume that that summoning you were helping to plan didn't quite go to that plan?"

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"Only if it was Professor Walton's plan to..." Marion looked back at Daphne and shook her head. "No, not to plan. This is Daphne. The late Professor Walton's daughter. She was just a child this morning. In many ways, she still is."

She raises her voice then to call to Daphne, "Do you remember the ocean, Daphne? From before? This is like that. It didn't really come from anywhere. It's always been here. For ages and ages."

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Something seemed to register with Daphne. "The Place Before?" she asked, brushing her short hair back from her face even as it started to ice over. She was showing no regard for the freezing temperatures, though - no shaking hands, no chattering teeth. "There is a daddy there," she said. "Mommy said he was mine." There was another flicker of recognition. "He gone?"

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Marion bites her bottom lip and hastily wraps Daphne in the overcoat, hugging her a bit through it and rubbing it vigorously around her shoulders to get her warm again. Her resistance to the cold wasn't something she wanted to test under these conditions...

"Yes, Daphne," she admits. "He's gone. I'm very sorry." She motions Ben forward.

"This is my brother Ben. He's very nice and letting me stay with him. Would you like to stay with us too?"

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Daphne's smile faded and suspicion marred her face. She looked at Ben, as if seeing him for the first time, and then gave Marion the same examination. Something about the simple invitation wasn't simple to the young woman. She mumbled something, so softly that Marion had to ask her to repeat herself.

"What price?" she asked. Desire warred with fear in her eyes, an odd combination in relation to the question. She looked from Abel to Abel, waiting for an answer.

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Of course...nothing would be free, Marion realizes. And protestations that it WAS free would only make it seem poisonous. But she didn't want to try to lie either. Right then.

"No...I owe -you-," she says. "I helped them make the door you went through. I didn't know that would happen, but I could have stopped them, and I didn't. Helping you is my price...the price I have to pay. Do you understand?"

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"And all you have to do," Ben quipped, "Is make sure not to burn the house down. Trust me! You'll love it on our island! You even get to travel across the water to get there!" At which point Ben gestured extravagantly to the little ferry. "Come on! We'll show you, and you can decide whether you want to stay with us!" Ben's natural excitement came through his voice, although Ben was a tad worried about what the Abels Senior would think of the new guest...

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"And all you have to do," Ben quipped, "Is make sure not to burn the house down. Trust me! You'll love it on our island! You even get to travel across the water to get there!" At which point Ben gestured extravagantly to the little ferry. "Come on! We'll show you, and you can decide whether you want to stay with us!" Ben's natural excitement came through his voice, although Ben was a tad worried about what the Abels Senior would think of the new guest...

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Daphne was getting confused. She was staying with them, and so owed them. But they were saying they owed her, and that letting her stay was repayment. Slowly, with Ben's encouragement, she began to believe that this was really the way it was going to work. But there was someone else to consider.

"Spot price?" she asked, putting her hand on the hellhound's head. He immediately closed his eyes in bliss as his mistress rubbed his ears. Surely, he wouldn't be included?

But maybe he would. She would ask, so that they set the price before, and couldn't trick her later.

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Daphne was getting confused. She was staying with them, and so owed them. But they were saying they owed her, and that letting her stay was repayment. Slowly, with Ben's encouragement, she began to believe that this was really the way it was going to work. But there was someone else to consider.

"Spot price?" she asked, putting her hand on the hellhound's head. He immediately closed his eyes in bliss as his mistress rubbed his ears. Surely, he wouldn't be included?

But maybe he would. She would ask, so that they set the price before, and couldn't trick her later.

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Marion looks at Spot, then back at Daphne.

"He'll have to help make sure no one can break into the house," she says. "We have a lot of old, valuable things in there, things people would want to have. If Spot's going to stay, we'll ask him to help protect those things."

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Marion looks at Spot, then back at Daphne.

"He'll have to help make sure no one can break into the house," she says. "We have a lot of old, valuable things in there, things people would want to have. If Spot's going to stay, we'll ask him to help protect those things."

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Daphne tensed a little before adding, "Spot stay with pack, not other pack. I help guard... he like help. Just me help." The hellhound looked unconcerned with this talk; stepping away from the humans, he snapped open his wings and took to the air. He look wrong and alien in the sky; the human brain didn't like seeing winged dogs flying around.

"Then agreed," Daphne said. "Hr'konak ofik nazzin qir patek," she added, speaking the words that seal their deal and bound them all to it. She would keep her part, to the letter, and they had better do likewise. Turning, she walked onto the strange boat waiting for passengers; after a moment, Spot dropped to the floorboards next to her, panting happily.

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Daphne tensed a little before adding, "Spot stay with pack, not other pack. I help guard... he like help. Just me help." The hellhound looked unconcerned with this talk; stepping away from the humans, he snapped open his wings and took to the air. He look wrong and alien in the sky; the human brain didn't like seeing winged dogs flying around.

"Then agreed," Daphne said. "Hr'konak ofik nazzin qir patek," she added, speaking the words that seal their deal and bound them all to it. She would keep her part, to the letter, and they had better do likewise. Turning, she walked onto the strange boat waiting for passengers; after a moment, Spot dropped to the floorboards next to her, panting happily.

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"Right!" said Ben as he ran towards the ferry. "All aboard, all passengers please check your belongings, next stop - Abel Island!" As Ben and Marion got on board, Ben signalled the ferry driver to depart the docks. "Believe me, you'll love the view! I certainly do!"

The ferry left the dock and they were on their way. "So, Hr'konak ofik nazzin qir patek" Ben repeated perfectly, "Tell me, what does that mean, exactly?"

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"Right!" said Ben as he ran towards the ferry. "All aboard, all passengers please check your belongings, next stop - Abel Island!" As Ben and Marion got on board, Ben signalled the ferry driver to depart the docks. "Believe me, you'll love the view! I certainly do!"

The ferry left the dock and they were on their way. "So, Hr'konak ofik nazzin qir patek" Ben repeated perfectly, "Tell me, what does that mean, exactly?"

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Daphne scowled, unsure if the oath worked if they didn't understand what it meant. She wondered what kind of creatures didn't understand the One Tongue; these were strange beings she'd found herself with. "Mean 'We bind oath with our soul' or close enough in... your tongue. Exact meaning? Is 'We bind our words with penalty of core of spirit.' 'Patek' mean truest part of self, part that only you." She turned to face him, planting her feet wide and taking an aggressive stance. "Mean if you break oath, I get your soul."

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Daphne scowled, unsure if the oath worked if they didn't understand what it meant. She wondered what kind of creatures didn't understand the One Tongue; these were strange beings she'd found herself with. "Mean 'We bind oath with our soul' or close enough in... your tongue. Exact meaning? Is 'We bind our words with penalty of core of spirit.' 'Patek' mean truest part of self, part that only you." She turned to face him, planting her feet wide and taking an aggressive stance. "Mean if you break oath, I get your soul."

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"And on that note," Marion says briskly to Ben, "I think some explanations are in order. She's spent about ten to fifteen years in what appears to be Hell. I think, given the circumstances, she's come off in surprisingly good shape."

She gives Daphne a stern look. "And I will add, pursuant to our agreement in which I promised to help you learn how to behave in this world and among the people here...which are your people by birth...that there will be no more taking or promising of souls while you're here."

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"And on that note," Marion says briskly to Ben, "I think some explanations are in order. She's spent about ten to fifteen years in what appears to be Hell. I think, given the circumstances, she's come off in surprisingly good shape."

She gives Daphne a stern look. "And I will add, pursuant to our agreement in which I promised to help you learn how to behave in this world and among the people here...which are your people by birth...that there will be no more taking or promising of souls while you're here."

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"I'll say she's in good shape!" replied Ben. "I got a look at exactly how good a shape in the dash to the pier just before!" Of course, like any good gentlemen Ben had dutifully removed most of that image from his mind. Only keeping enough to irritate Marion...

Once Marion had finished with Daphne, Ben piped up "It's not like I haven't taken a blood-oath before, Marion, the principle I expect is quite similar." Ben pulled his coat a little tighter around himself as the cold air made itself known to him. "Regardless, I have no intention of reneging on the deal myself, so I think my soul is quite safe, don't you?"

In reality, this almost-argument had been a constant to and fro between Marion and Ben for quite a while. Since the Hammersmith incident, when the two went on their wildly divergent ways, the general Abel spirit had been tempered by their experiences. Ben's constant adventuring, while full of unfortunate incidents, had never really impacted on his youthful impulsiveness (in fact, some observers would say that it only encouraged it). As such, Ben was far more willing to go with the flow, as it were, to not sweat about little things like accidentally promising that one's soul would belong to another should he break a deal. After all, he's survived so far, right? What's another risk on top?

Marion, on the other hand, had settled into a much more deliberate personality since finding the Grimoire, as befit such an awesome book. The sheer power in the Grimoire had meant extreme caution in unravelling it's secrets, and such caution had leaked into other aspects of Marion's being, meaning that she was far more likely to worry about the repercussions of soul-swearing. After all, the slightest actions now could have quite impressive consequences later on, the book had taught her that. Far better to think through actions rather than pay for them later.

As such, there was a slightly incongruous situation where the older brother was by far more impulsive than the younger sister, and from this incogruency, conflict welled forth. Being two well-raised people it never sprung into anything more than polite responses back. But it did reflect in almost any time the two of them were together, as Marion would constantly try to slow Ben down, while Ben would constantly try to ignore Marion's constant attempts to slow him down.

Which was why Ben then casually went back to talking to Daphne as the ferry continued towards Abel Island. "I must say, never heard that tongue before. I'd love to hear more of it, since we have the time before we arrive back at our home!"

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"I'll say she's in good shape!" replied Ben. "I got a look at exactly how good a shape in the dash to the pier just before!" Of course, like any good gentlemen Ben had dutifully removed most of that image from his mind. Only keeping enough to irritate Marion...

Once Marion had finished with Daphne, Ben piped up "It's not like I haven't taken a blood-oath before, Marion, the principle I expect is quite similar." Ben pulled his coat a little tighter around himself as the cold air made itself known to him. "Regardless, I have no intention of reneging on the deal myself, so I think my soul is quite safe, don't you?"

In reality, this almost-argument had been a constant to and fro between Marion and Ben for quite a while. Since the Hammersmith incident, when the two went on their wildly divergent ways, the general Abel spirit had been tempered by their experiences. Ben's constant adventuring, while full of unfortunate incidents, had never really impacted on his youthful impulsiveness (in fact, some observers would say that it only encouraged it). As such, Ben was far more willing to go with the flow, as it were, to not sweat about little things like accidentally promising that one's soul would belong to another should he break a deal. After all, he's survived so far, right? What's another risk on top?

Marion, on the other hand, had settled into a much more deliberate personality since finding the Grimoire, as befit such an awesome book. The sheer power in the Grimoire had meant extreme caution in unravelling it's secrets, and such caution had leaked into other aspects of Marion's being, meaning that she was far more likely to worry about the repercussions of soul-swearing. After all, the slightest actions now could have quite impressive consequences later on, the book had taught her that. Far better to think through actions rather than pay for them later.

As such, there was a slightly incongruous situation where the older brother was by far more impulsive than the younger sister, and from this incogruency, conflict welled forth. Being two well-raised people it never sprung into anything more than polite responses back. But it did reflect in almost any time the two of them were together, as Marion would constantly try to slow Ben down, while Ben would constantly try to ignore Marion's constant attempts to slow him down.

Which was why Ben then casually went back to talking to Daphne as the ferry continued towards Abel Island. "I must say, never heard that tongue before. I'd love to hear more of it, since we have the time before we arrive back at our home!"

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Daphne scowled at Marion for a moment, then turned away from her. After a moment, the Abels could hear her mutter, "How hold word without soul?" Words were empty air without the guarantee to hold someone to them.

When Ben asked to learn the One Tongue, Daphne's brow unfurrowed a bit. At least this one recognized the defieceny in his knowledge and sought to correct it. Turning back toward him, she put her arms around him. The cold didn't bother her, but she could tell it was bothering him and he and Marion were her new allies, even if Marion was placing unreasonable demands on her.

From this rather intimate position, she said, "I speak, but have lisp." She stuck out the tip of her tongue and said, "Tongue too short and not forked. Can't say words all right." Spot stopped next to her and leaned against her legs, making soft noises as he did his part to shield his pack member from the cold. She pressed her face against Ben's coat for a moment to warm up her nose before adding, "Help you, but may not be able to do right."

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Daphne scowled at Marion for a moment, then turned away from her. After a moment, the Abels could hear her mutter, "How hold word without soul?" Words were empty air without the guarantee to hold someone to them.

When Ben asked to learn the One Tongue, Daphne's brow unfurrowed a bit. At least this one recognized the defieceny in his knowledge and sought to correct it. Turning back toward him, she put her arms around him. The cold didn't bother her, but she could tell it was bothering him and he and Marion were her new allies, even if Marion was placing unreasonable demands on her.

From this rather intimate position, she said, "I speak, but have lisp." She stuck out the tip of her tongue and said, "Tongue too short and not forked. Can't say words all right." Spot stopped next to her and leaned against her legs, making soft noises as he did his part to shield his pack member from the cold. She pressed her face against Ben's coat for a moment to warm up her nose before adding, "Help you, but may not be able to do right."

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Ben had to admit, this was not a position he was used to from people he'd just met. Not a bad position, mind, but probably a little more forward than the two had any real right to be in at this juncture. Not to mention that Marion would have a fit if he didn't do something here.

"I'm sure that won't be too much of a problem, Daphne." Ben poked his tongue back out at Daphne, and continued. "My tongue's just like yours! I'll be more than happy for you to teach me what you can. Now, as nice as this hug is, I'm not quite sure I know you well enough to stay like this, so could I ask you to move away just a little, if you could..."

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Ben had to admit, this was not a position he was used to from people he'd just met. Not a bad position, mind, but probably a little more forward than the two had any real right to be in at this juncture. Not to mention that Marion would have a fit if he didn't do something here.

"I'm sure that won't be too much of a problem, Daphne." Ben poked his tongue back out at Daphne, and continued. "My tongue's just like yours! I'll be more than happy for you to teach me what you can. Now, as nice as this hug is, I'm not quite sure I know you well enough to stay like this, so could I ask you to move away just a little, if you could..."

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"Hug?" Daphne had that frown on her face, the one that Marion was learning to dread. "Not hug, silly. Hugs done naked!" Still, she let him go, not wanting to invade his patek and therefore give up control of her own. They'd not settled exactly on consisted of doing harm, and so best to err on the side of caution. "Thought you cold. Help warm."

Freed from clinging to him, Daphne went to the rail and leaned over, staring at the water below. "We fish later?" she asked, eager to try that. She'd heard so much about fishing; to imagine helpless animals that lived in the water and could be pulled out without risking one's life!

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"Hug?" Daphne had that frown on her face, the one that Marion was learning to dread. "Not hug, silly. Hugs done naked!" Still, she let him go, not wanting to invade his patek and therefore give up control of her own. They'd not settled exactly on consisted of doing harm, and so best to err on the side of caution. "Thought you cold. Help warm."

Freed from clinging to him, Daphne went to the rail and leaned over, staring at the water below. "We fish later?" she asked, eager to try that. She'd heard so much about fishing; to imagine helpless animals that lived in the water and could be pulled out without risking one's life!

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Marion covers her mouth to stifle a laugh as she watches Daphne unintentionally tease her brother.

"Hugging here is done clothed," she says, though she can't resist impishly adding, "Unless it's more than a hug you're after."

She frowns as a question occurs to her. "What on earth would you hug naked in Hell?"

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Marion covers her mouth to stifle a laugh as she watches Daphne unintentionally tease her brother.

"Hugging here is done clothed," she says, though she can't resist impishly adding, "Unless it's more than a hug you're after."

She frowns as a question occurs to her. "What on earth would you hug naked in Hell?"

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"Not most things," Daphne admitted, glancing up. "Just... the... succubi." She pointed over their heads, to the stars glowing above them. "What those?"

She was entranced by the twinkling spots in the darkness over their heads. In Hell, the burning flames had dampened any stars that might have been visible from the ground, and as a child, she'd had a passing interest in the cosmos. Now, as an adult who was not distracted by ice cream or any other childish delights, the stars were something new, vibrant and beautiful.

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