Sympathy For the Damned
Chapter 1

A/N: This all belongs to me, please review if anyone even bothers to read. Peace

There exists three realms in this world, but only one is a physical place; Earth; the realm of mortals, the Second Realm. The First and Third Realms are planes of existence only for the soul. Known as heaven and hell they have no physical area and can only be reached through death.

And the only way of returning to Earth is with a living mortals blood.

Ever since the creation of the three realms the realm of mortals has existed in ignorance of the other two, because once a soul has travelled into death then there is no turning back, until now.

On Earth, when a mortal commits suicide they are banished to hell, for the taking of ones own life is an irreversible sin. They become one of the Damned, guardians of the gates of hell, submitted to centuries of torture and cruelty they are some of the few demons that keep physical shapes. Twisted by hate and bitter resentment they lose all sense of who they once were.

And it was upon these shadow creatures that a young mortal stumbled unknowingly. He lay in the bloodied dirt, blond hair falling about his face in a frenzy of tangles. He opened his eyes slowly and grimaced, wiping the soiled grime from his cheek. He struggled to his feet unable to see in the unnatural darkness, his body felt strangely heavy, the flesh white and drawn, he fingered his shirt suspiciously, feeling the cloth through his fingers, then he yelped dropping the cloth as it rotted apart in his hands.

He could smell the stench of death everywhere around him and now that his eyes were beginning to adjust to the gloom he could make out shapes moving in the background. He had no idea where he was or how he had gotten there but he knew that he wanted to leave right now. A hissing noise began somewhere in the darkness, other voices picking it up steadily until all around him the blackness came alive with the sound. To his left a hand gripped his arm painfully; he shrieked and pushed it away.

Stumbling backwards he tripped over something on the ground, sprawled in an uncomfortable position he came face to face with the rotting remains of a human carcass, so old even the bones were beginning to disintegrate. He screamed, and the things around pounced.

Hauled upward arms locked him in place; some of the hands were barely human. Claws scraped against his rotting clothing and grazed his flesh, he struggled but nothing could budge against the inhuman strength of the creatures gripping him. A voice echoed in the gloom and the arms around him stilled.

"What are you doing here mortal?" it's owner was invisible and he squinted into the dark in vain searching for even a glimpse. "Who are you?" he shouted into the black abyss "What are you?" "Who are we?" the voice sounded amused, "You poor ignorant man, you have no idea where you are?" it didn't wait for an answer. "You have stumbled into the most unfortunate situation mortal" The creatures around him chuckled hideously. "Stupid mortal" one of them hissed vehemently in his ear. There was a faint shuffling noise to his right and the voice whispered something, the arms and claws receded and he collapsed on the dirt. "We are the Damned my young mortal" something moved to the very edge of his vision, and he saw with slight relief that it was human shaped. "We are guardians of the gate" it motioned to two thin unremarkable pillars sticking out of the ground only a few feet from where he lay. "And you have wandered into the pit of nightmares, a place you and your mortal kind call hell"

He sat in the dirt and gazed about, lumps of dirt surrounded him and stretched far into the blackness, he could no longer see any of the creatures that had gripped him, but he could hear them slightly, out there, waiting quietly. He refused to look in the direction of the corpse.

He turned his attention back to what must be the leader of these. what were they? The Damned? He shook his head, and laughed, a slightly dry, nervous sound. "Hell? It doesn't exist" The noises around him stopped and fear grasped his stomach, the silence stretched broken only by his panicked breathing.

The shadow at the edge of his vision moved into focus. It was a young woman, younger than him certainly, her skin was almost as black as the gloom around her, and her dark hair was long and uncut falling in dirty tangles down her back. Her clothes were almost rotten off, hanging around her body in shreds, but it was her eyes caused him to choke and scramble desperately backwards. Light blue they looked almost white in the dark and seemed to glow slightly for she had no pupils. He tried to get to his feet, to run away from this nightmare, but she moved with surprising speed and gripped his neck with her super human strength; he couldn't move. She smiled a twisted, bitter smile, one that said she had seen too much and hurt too deeply. "You better believe mortal" she spat the word "Because you're here now"

She thrust him down upon one of the lumps of dirt and his nose was filled with the stench of death. He threw himself backward, a bloody scream crawling from his throat, and gazed down upon another carcass, flesh hanging off the skeletal frame. He could hear her amused smile as he gasped, horrified at the scene of carnage around him, stinking bodies in various states of death sprawled for as far as he could see.

He stared into the blue sinkholes that were her eyes, searching for some sign of innocence or regret. But there was nothing. Her eyes were as empty as her soul.

She leant in closer, rank smell causing him to swallow hurriedly. She scrutinized him for a few seconds. Then seemed to draw to a conclusion. She stood up and retreated a few steps. "How did you get here, mortal?" Her tone was carefully blank.

The black canyon surrounding them quickly swallowed the echoes her voice made. For the first time he realised that the only thing making a noise was himself, quick, rasping breaths that made him slightly light-headed. None of the other creatures made a noise, though he could see shadows of them, only a shade blacker than the black. But no other breathes.

A sharp blow caught him on the side of the face, sending him flying across the soiled dirt. He covered his head with his arms and tried to think above the pain and the headache beginning at the back of his head. "You did not answer me mortal" was all she said.

He tried to think what the question had been, but he couldn't think. A body lay to his right, fresher than the rest; it's mouth open in a silent, heart- wrenching scream. He felt a bare foot brush against his cheek and shuddered at the grime it left on his face.

"I will strip your flesh from the bone if you do not answer me mortal" She whispered it into his ear, her greasy hair falling across his face as her broken lips pressed against his ear. He felt one of her claws running across the exposed skin at his neck. Trembling violently he tried to curl into a tighter ball.

"How did you get here?" Her voice held a barely concealed force behind it. "I d-on't know" He gulped out automatically, and then realised with shock that it was true. His shudders stopped suddenly as this registered to him. He didn't remember how he got here, he didn't even remember who he was, where he lived, what his name was. He knew these things existed, but not how they related to him.

"Not good enough, my sweet mortal" She almost sang it to him, not bothering to hide the glee. Her hand tightened around his neck and she stood up, dragging him with her. He choked, clawing at her hands, twisting about, and trying to drag some air into his lungs.

"Drop him" This voice was different, it had a commanding power to it. He felt her still, but her hold did not lessen. "Karya, drop him" It was not a question.

He felt the claws loosen, her unnatural eyes stared straight at him, but they didn't see anything. The man fell to the floor, gasping painful breaths into his desperate lungs and coughing haggardly.

Karya stood straight, arms clamped against her sides. He turned his attention to the woman standing just within his circle of sight. She was very similar to Karya, but shorter with curly brown hair that was tangled so badly in places it looked simply like one big knot. She wore the remains of what had been dark denim jeans; her skin was pale and almost fluorescent in the dark. She stood in a way that radiated confidence, and she appeared a lot more human than Karya. He avoided her eyes; he really didn't want to know.

Behind this newest addition stood two bulky shapes one on each side, looking unmistakably like the Damned's version of bodyguards. The man saw no sign of the other creatures that had clutched him only minutes before.

"Feor" Karya spat the word, disgust lining every inch of her face. The man blinked, wondering why she had spoken of fear, then he realised it must be the brunette's name.

"Why did you not report the mortal straight away, Karya? You were not thinking of keeping him to yourself were you? I did not think you were smart enough for that." Feor sounded amused, but icy sarcasm lay over every word. "I was interrogating him as to how he had come across the gate.Demoness" She spat out each word as though it was choking her; the man guessed the belated Demoness was a term of respect.

Feor didn't seem to notice that Karya had even spoken, her brown eyes were boring into the blond man's crouched form. "What is your name mortal?" He opened his eyes, and immediately wished he hadn't.

Her eyes were a dark brown and had a commanding presence on her face, but hey were also just as inhuman as Karya's were. He swallowed, his name what was his name? "Carl" His name, it sounded so out of place in here, out here.wherever it was. Feor studied him, then seemed to wake up "You are dismissed Karya" She didn't even look at the creature, shaking with anger Karya disappeared into the gloom.

Feor made a strange motion with her hand, clawless hand; Carl tried to breath a little easier. Her two bodyguards disappeared, rounding up the rest of them he presumed. Shows over folks, he thought wryly.

"Do you know who we are?" Carl tried to stand, but his head spun and he had to sit down again. He avoided looking at Feor but he could feel her gaze upon him. "Yeah, uh she told me about you being the, uh, Damned" It was the weirdest situation, only minutes before he had been shaking with fear, but now. He felt totally at ease in Feor's company.

"When someone commits suicide in the Second Realm the get sent straight to hell. I'm sure you will have heard that before" Carl nodded. Suicide? She was younger than he was. "Well, this is what they become" Feor seemed to be reflecting inwards. "Soulless, mindless, and hate driven. "They become like us. we call ourselves the Damned because we brought it on ourselves. We made this happen"

She looked up at him and blinked, like she had forgotten he was there. "As to how you got here.I have no idea" She seemed confused by something. Carl swallowed "What about them?" He gestured to the bodies lying in heaps around them. "They are the dead," She said simply "When you first die you retain your physical form, but not for long. The human body is not made for death. Gradually it rots away from the soul, some sooner than others."

Carl swallowed and shuffled away from the body closest to him. "I always thought hell would be full of flames and demons and all that" Was his voice always this high pitched? Feor smiled a small, sad smile and he noticed how sharp her teeth were. "The Third Realm is your worst fear, humanity's worst fear is to be alone" She studied the surrounding darkness, as if searching for an answer. Carl shivered.

"How do I get out?" He wanted so badly to just forget this as an overly imaginative nightmare. Feor studied him for a second, "You just walk out through the gate"

He turned and surveyed the two pillars warily, then faced back towards Feor. "Why do I get the feeling there's more to it?" She grinned, "Because there is"

Carl sighed and rubbed his head, "Right, if it was as easy as that you would have done it before now". "Almost" She paused then seemed to come to a conclusion, "You will need help to leave here, and I am willing to help you at a price"

He felt the back of his neck break out in a sweat at the sound of her voice. Price? He watched her inhuman eyes studying him in the near pitch black and thought he saw a flicker of something, hidden behind her carefully blank face. "What would you do? If you came to Earth I mean"

She dropped her gaze to the ground, grimy hair hiding her expression. "It is the quest of all the Damned to leave here" She said. And left it at that.

"Okay, but if I help you what price will it be?" Carl was beginning to feel unsure again, the prickling of fear at the back of his neck was increasing and Feor's shape, hair hiding her face all unbreakable confidence vanished was a cause for concern.

"What price could I name that you refuse if it meant you would stay here?" Good question. My life he thought, but kept it to himself. He didn't think him dying would help either of them leave this waking nightmare.

"Okay, you help he leave and I do whatever this 'price' you want is, right?" Feor nodded, shaking the hair back from her face to reveal her grinning face. She stood and opened her mouth-

But she never had any time to say anything. A fireball launched out of the darkness and flew at her face. A hand gripped Carls shoulder painfully and he shrieked and threw his hands across his face, turning to face the intruder. Feor gave him a vague look; Carl noticed she looked very worried.

She muttered something under her breath and propelled him towards the two pillars. Still reeling with shock he wondered how she had managed to evade the fireball and get behind him in only a split second of time. "We must go now, they know what's happening, it won't be long before they are all down here" Feor ignored the mutilated corpses around the gate, stepping over them with ease the smell didn't seem to effect her.

Carl covered his nose with a hand, realising that his clothes were beginning to smell very much like the corpses own. "Who?" He gasped out; the closer they got to the pillars the worse the smell became. Feor ignored his question, concentrating on moving him through the bodies and throwing glances behind them. "If this doesn't work it will be another lifetime." Feor's muttering drifted away as Carl began to hear noises behind them, and the noises stilled his blood.

Animal screams and shrieks competed with the wet sound of teeth ripping at flesh. He forced himself to keep looking forward, though he doubted it was close enough for him to be able to see anything anyway, it was better to be safe than sorry.

They reached the pillars and Feor threw aside some carcasses to clear the way. Now that he was closer, Carl noticed the space between the two pillars was darker than the black surrounding them, and it was swirling dangerously. Carl gulped.

"FEOR!!" The voice rang through the darkness, echoing in on itself again and again. It was a voice of terror, of pain and of compliance. Feor ignored it.

Instead she turned to Carl, grasping his shoulders with her nails the super human strength she possessed making his bones creak. "Now I need my price" Her eyes grazed holes right through his brain and he screamed and tried to shut out the image, but the pupil-less brown orbs burned themselves to the back of his brain.

Before he could even register what was happening he felt her lips on his neck. Her teeth grazed against the skin just above the collarbone, at the curve of his neck, they were definitely sharper than normal. He struggled desperately, trying to dislodge her to no avail.

He twisted his neck away, causing her to bump her head against his chin, he yelped as the pain seared through his jaw. Feor withdrew and hissed in his ear, "The only way for me to leave here is with a mortals blood, this is my price!"

Every word jarred somewhere deep inside of him, her voice had changed; it resonated throughout his body deep and harsh. Then before he could move again her teeth sunk deep into his neck, he screamed in pain as his blood began flowing freely over his rotting clothes and down his chest. Her tongue scraped roughly at the blood before she clamped her mouth over the wound and sucked hard.

He felt light and detached, like he was about to faint. Blackness was swimming on the edge of his vision, but that could just be the normal setting. Then his eyes focused on something over her shoulder, he couldn't see it clearly, but he didn't have to. He screamed.

It roared and Carl felt every bone in his body crack. Feor lifted her face from his neck and threw a glance behind her; the blood ran unchecked, sticky and red. Feebly he raised a hand to try and stem the flow, he would probably need medical attention.

Feor turned back towards him, her face flushed with his blood. "Now we can go" And without another word she pushed him through the swirling darkness of the gate