The flaming sword flickered through the air. Nash raised his hands, and it was only instinct that saved him. He had moved to the side at the same time, and his hands passed through Michael’s without touching them. The archangel’s Grace was in full swing, and Nash couldn’t touch him.
Sacrifice is fundamental to sapience.
The ice was slippery, but it was less than an hour to reach the edge of the gaping hole. Nash knelt down, and frowned, staring down the smooth walls of ice. Climbing them would be impossible. “Fuck,” he murmured. One of the chains hung nearby, massive iron links looped together, ending in a tremendous collar that hung down, into the blackness visible within the ice. “Not getting out that way,” Nash muttered, and shook his head as he stood up. “Unless any of you might be able to pull something off?”
Nash could hear the soft sobs fill the air. He looked around, and found that the only thing in any direction was an endless gray expanse. It stretched off into infinity in a way that was completely impossible to focus on, undifferentiated and mind-numbing. He turned until he could hear the sobbing coming from somewhere in front of him, and began to walk. It seemed to make a difference.
I puffed as we ran through Hell. I wasn’t happy. The running was part of it. The destruction of the sled meant I had to run again, and frankly I was getting tired of the running. I momentarily considered ordering one of the Demon Princes to carry me, but none of them looked very comfortable to get close to.
Nash ran without tiring, as the skies clouded over. A thick sleet began to pelt down, gathering in great drifts on the ground. It was thick and dark, with a smell like mildew and neglect. He could hear the others coughing and choking as they ran through the deepening piles of slush. The smell was foul, making it hard for them to breathe. Their feet were uncertain, and he heard a splash behind him. He turned to find Eumaeus pulling himself to his feet, smeared in the disgusting mire that gathered constantly around their legs.
The story finished as the four of us arrived at the far end. Eumaeus whistled softly. “It was you who freed Promethea? I’d had no idea. I’d always heard Heracles had been the one responsible. Certainly, that was the way the stories all told it.” He was quiet for a moment. “Though the man himself was always reluctant to discuss the venture, I’d been told.”