A Cold Day in Hell

The sky was dark an hour before the snow began to fall. It started as flurries followed by a temperature drop of several degrees. The snow started to fall heavily as large fluffy flakes began to cover the landscape. The natives were huddled inside their dwellings watching the snow fall. The wind rose driving the snow into whatever openings it could find. A heavy demon sat back against the door barring the wind from blowing it open. A lithe imp huddled over the last of a burning coal struggling to keep it alive against the encroaching cold. The wind howled mournfully as the snow fell eventually dying down to a whisper and a flurry. The coal still glowed as the storm passed. The lithe imp carefully gathered it up and joined the heavy demon at the door.

The demon slowly cracked open the door fearing an onrush of snow. The snow wall just outside the door was too high for the imp to see anything but the snow. The demon lifted the imp onto a shoulder and stepped out into the white blanket. It glistened as it reflected the pale light of the fading coal. The demon lumbered forward through the snow heading for what he hoped would be a warm refuge. There were getting to be fewer places to hide from the frigid air that had engulfed their realm. As they trudged through the frozen ocean, the demon could feel his legs become heavy. His companion had wrapped his body close against the giant’s neck, cradling the coal between them. A short while later, they came upon a stone parapet. They traveled alongside until they encountered an iron portal.

After pounding hard enough to send echoes through the chamber within, they gained entry. A central firepit lay before them filled with tinder and logs, but unignited. The demon strode to the pit and gently peeled the imp from his neck. The imp took the still burning coal and placed it among the waiting tinder. Soon the fire danced, warming the keep against the sudden frosty blast that had engulfed the realm. That night there was mead and wine and dancing around the fire as the winds rose again to drift the fallen snow against the walls of the keep. In the morning the imp drew a new coal from the firepit and climb upon his companion’s shoulder. They thanked their hosts and took off out the opposing iron portal. The tunnels ahead were free of snow, but not the bitter cold. But they had garnered warmer garb this time around. Their feet were wrapped in fur to protect against the icy chill. They had fur cloaks to shield against the bitter wind that managed to blow through the cavern.

Soon they came upon their destination. A black pool that normally bubbled and oozed lay frozen still. The imp took out the still glowing coal and gestured toward the pool. His companion lifted him up, lowered him again, and then tossed the imp into the pool. As the imp slowly sank into the black, he smiled and shoved the coal into the black pool. It didn’t take long for the pool to slowly begin to bubble and glow red. The imp was gone. The demon turned and sadly walked back up the trail to the keep. As he walked, a small fiery figure followed him. The cold air was gradually replaced with a wave of oppressive heat. Veins in the cavern wall that had been blue now glowed red. The handle on the iron door seared his hand when he pulled the door open. The flames from the pyre in the pit danced through the roof of the keep. A hiss could be heard as the cold and snow retreated. The demon stripped off his heavy garments and stood to his full height. He bellowed his discontent at the sacrifice of a friend.