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Another Lewis Carroll moment...

~So where is the bottle labeled "Drink me"? he ponders silently. He remains silent to his companions. He remembers back to when he was a puny child wishing he could grow like Alice and look down on all his enemies- childish enemies like brutish class mates, overbearring fathers; certainly not demons, not then.

He's been quiet since they met and joiined up with the boy and the princess. He doesn't want to admit it, but he likes Hal. He seems locked in a simpler, more innnocent, more polite time; Wesley wonders when the poor boy died. It doesn't seem he belongs in Hell and it pains Wesley that the boy is here.

Then there's Beauty. She certainly appears to be just what she claims: she's royally dressed in medieval attire (12th century, French, maybe?) and her poise and bearing are certainly majestic. She's very young and sweet and, worse than Hal, it tears his heart to see her here, because if she can be trapped in this hideous realm than...

He has to drive the image away by thrusting his fist into one of the swamp trees, the pain momentarily splintering all thought of Fred into unrecognizable shards. But then he catches Lilah staring at him- he's been avoiding those eyes since they came to their senses, post- caveman. He knows he's hurting her, but the shock of her in this place with him overwhelmed him. He'd hoped better for her, God knows why, but she had come to him, hadn't she, when she could have run off and saved herself? He's always wanted to think there was SOMETHING worth saving in her damned soul. He snows he can't help her anymore now than he helped her then, and in his opinion, she might do better tagging along after someone else. He knows he's going to have to speak to her sooner or later...

Instead, he opts to speak to the entire group;~ Snape and I are headed to the demon city Dis. It's a goal, if nothing else. We have our reasons, and you're welcome to come with us.

~He winces, presumably at the tearing pain they're all experiencing, but in truth it's something far worse to his mind: the hollowness of returning to the living world without Fred. But he owes it to the rest of them, doesn't he? If any of the others survived...? He hardens his features and moves on.~

I know every mile will be worth my while

~ When the Neanderthal brow had receded and Regulus' modern-day wisdom had returned to him along with his boyish inability to grow facial hair, he had suffered a rather great and unnecessary amount of shame. To someone who - even when spending the rest of eternity in Hell - wouldn't dream of putting his elbows on a table, the memory of grunting and trudging about like an absolute brute is something that he will never remember fondly. He would take these awful muscle aches any day over that disaster, and has tried valiantly to not let Barty bring up any of his amusing behavior from the weeks past. It's hard going.

The growing pains he can stand. Truthfully, in the beginning he had rather enjoyed the stretched feeling. It had distracted him from the sizzling pain in his feet as he, with Barty always just a couple yards away, trudged on though the acidic sludge of Three. With nothing around them for miles but a barren wasteland of sludge (and hopefully, please, not any residents of this Level as there's nowhere to hide), Regulus and Barty have no frame of reference for their heights and have no idea how much they've changed. Since they smartened-up they've just been limping on and on for who knows how long, just hoping to find anything to stand on and get their feet out of the mud. Only now, finally, does Regulus see something on the horizon. ~

Please say those are cliffs and not a mud mirage.


Monthly Torment: Week Two

~ After some time of pain and discomfort, the cause of the strange pulling sensation comes glaringly into focus. For a while it had gone unnoticed by most since Hell is not exactly filled with doorways with mother's standing by to mark how tall you've gotten, but what had begun as harmlessly sore muscles has flung into full-fledged wrenching sensations and it's become quite clear what's happening. Stretched higher and higher day by day by devilish magic, the pain gets worse and things once at eye-level now need to be stooped to be seen. Their human figures grow taller by the day, like obscene plants, growing taller and forcing them into ungainly lopes like newborn colts. At first the feeling of being pulled upwards is the main concern on everyone's mind, by what happens when hiding places become too snug to be safe? ~


New Beginnings

~She knows she should not be so flattered by Hal's attention and compliments. She is a betrothed princess all but wed if not for this evil spell. And yet, after centuries of wandering alone and friendless it is impossible for her to dismiss it as her due though she would have done so without a thought in her own time and place. But it is not her time and place, nor does she have her prince while her new champion is handsome and articulate and chivalrous to a fault. He is good company, lifting her spirits when they threaten to sink like hapless creatures in the surrounding mire or listening to her stories of a world he knows nothing about and surely has no interest in save that she does.

They are picking their way through the swamp. Both have had more than enough of the damp and the chill not to mention the myriad of nasty little creatures which threaten to make a banquet of any shade they might catch. Beauty is waving away a swarm of giant hairy gnat-like things when she feels the first strange sensation. A quick searing pain as if she has strained the muscles. Perhaps she has she thinks for the mud is constantly pulling against them as they trek through it. She begs Hal for a bit of a rest. They are at the bottom of a dip with yet another pool stretching out before them. As she gazes across the dull grey landscape she spots figures on the top of the next rise. They are not close enough for recognizable features and yet there is something naggingly familiar about one of them.

Harold~she has not yet become so informal that she uses the diminutive of his name~do you see those people up there? They seem to be coming this way, do you think it is quite safe to stay?
~Snape is actually rather relieved to find that this new round of torment seems to be of the physical variety. He handles physical pain better than the emotional, even if it is still unpleasant. Sometimes, he rather suspects that he could have ended up in any number of Hell's levels--probably could have been Regulus' next-door neighbor here in 5--but that some twist of fate knew what his absolute worst punishment would be and put him on 1. He knows that's not the way it works, and there are times when he takes solace in knowing that he did _something_ right, like dying trying to protect Lily's son, for instance. But then there are the times like now when he thinks that Hell knows their weaknesses and preys upon them. Is this rotation brought about through the fears and neuroses of the shades that reside here, expanded to engulf them all? Did they all suffer, simultaneously, the darkest issues of their peers? Was he the reason why everyone suffered the loss of control of their limbs, because he has control issues he hasn't quite yet come to terms with?

Or perhaps, he thinks with a sigh, is he internalizing this far too much?

He pauses long enough to twist his back in an effort to ease the strain. He has decided that, while these aches may be caused by the effort of slogging through miles of mud and water, he truly doubts it. The caveman thing is past, and he knows that there is little relief between Hell's torments. When one ends, another begins.

However, his more immediate concern is the large leech that has been feeding on the back of his right leg for some time. The leeches here grow about as fast, it seems, as the bamboo had, and it's really beginning to interfere with his walking. At first, he and Wesley, and presumably the woman, had been removing them when they first found them attached. But the little buggers were far too numerous, and now they only pulled them off here and there. This one was now too large and inconvenient to ignore.~

I need to stop over there, ~he says, pointing to a rare rise of land that offers a bit of firmer footing.~ I need to get rid of a parasite or two.