The voice, deep and melodic, resounded in the encompassing darkness. The blackness was so consuming, she believed for an instant that she was dead. Fear gripped her mind, crushing down on her thoughts. What if she was dead?

She paused. Pressing her hand to her chest, she felt the familiar pounding if her heart. She relaxed a bit, letting out a heavy sigh of relief. If she had a heartbeat, that mean she wasn’t dead. Elation washed over in waves. She was still alive, but was clueless as to where she was.

Memories trickled back into her mind. The church, the priest, the demons… it all came back in a blinding wave of misery and angst. She rubbed her eyes with her palms, trying to scrape the delirium from her mind. Her arms brushed against soft fabric, smooth and warm under her flesh. The fabric rubbed against the rest of her body as she moved, informing her that she was naked. That was strange…she’d been completely dressed when the demons had come to collect her.

How the hell?

“Claire.” That voice, stronger this time, brought her back to reality.

Startled out of her musing, she pushed herself up onto her knees. Soft sheets fell around her, pooling around her ankles and hands. As soon as she sat up, an enormous pile of embers flared to life, illuminating the cavernous room. Rocky walls, twenty feet high and covered in a slick spattering of blood, stretched up to meet at a point above her. Claw marks marred the greasy surface, and thick globs of slime dripped from the stalactites on the ceiling.

Panicked and confused, she scrambled backwards, crashing softly into a mountain of thick pillows. Struggling to claw herself out of her plush prison, Claire shoved the pillows to the side and hauled herself to her feet. Allowing her eyes to adjust to the new light, she scanned her new surroundings.

She had been sleeping on a pile of thick blankets spread out on the stone floor, the pillows shaped in a semicircle around the makeshift bed. The room was bereft of furniture save for the bonfire now burning brightly. She shivered, not out of cold but of fear, and began rubbing her arms for comfort.

Deep laughter resounded in the shadows. “Good girl. I’m glad to see you’re awake.”

Surprised, she whipped around to see the white demon reclining in an enormous chair carved straight out of the wall. He was leaning to one side in the chair, his white arm resting on the intricately carved surface. His other hand tapped long talon-like nails on the stone. He was smiling at her, a warm grin that calmed her nerves a bit. His twisting black horns were stained orange from the firelight, making him look as though he wore a crown of flames.

“I trust you had a good sleep.” He cocked his head to the side, curious. His voice, as deep and seductive as ever, swirled intoxicatingly around her skin.

Still shaky, she forced herself to swallow. “Y-yes.”

“Good, good. We did the best we could making our world comfortable for you. Though it’s probably not as welcoming as your own bed would be.” He smiled wider, his lips parting to reveal rows of black teeth gleaming like onyx in the soft firelight.

Frightened, she stumbled back a step, tripping over the pillows once again. She fell backwards, landing on her ass with her legs spread wide. Her companion grinned, clearly enjoying the new view.

Regaining her sense of modesty, she pulled her legs back and wrapped her arms around her knees, blushing furiously. Fuck. She’d been cursed to belong to hell since she was a child, abducted by from a church by a hoard of demons, and stuck in this slimy pit with one of her captors. And the first mistake she’d made was giving her new owner a full view of her pussy. How much better could this possibly get?

“My goodness. You’re certainly well-equipped, aren’t you?” His smile softened, though his eyes remained as hungry as ever.

She looked away, ashamed. Years of being raised by an overbearing religious zealot did nothing to prepare her for being the sexual plaything of demons. If anything, her grandmother had set her up for just the opposite.

Oh, yes, Claire. This is the perfect way to start things off.

“Ah, I apologize.” Rising up out of his throne, the demon quickly made his way to her side and held out a clawed hand. “I meant no harm by it. I was simply complimenting you on your form, nothing more. You have a lovely figure.”

She stared at his hand for a moment, the sharp talons making her uneasy. Cautiously, she reached her hand out like she had done at the church and placed her hand in his. Icy as she remembered, the hand closed around hers and gave a gentle pull, hauling her to her feet. The demon let go of her hand, wrapping his clawed fingers around her shoulder to steady her as she regained her balance.

She looked up at him once she got her bearings straight, taking aback momentarily by his appearance. His face, while nothing more than a malformed copy of a human face marred with scars, was beautiful. Sharp angles contrasted against gleaming white skin. Never having been this close before, Claire could now see tiny veins of black tangle into intricate patterns on his skin. His beauty brought her guard down an inch, making her foolishly trustworthy.

“There we are. Not so frightened now, are we?”

She shook her head, still cautious but far lees nervous. “I still don’t-”

The demon laughed to himself. “Of course, how rude of me. You have no idea where you are or who you’re with.”

She nodded silently, patiently waiting for an answer.

He reached down and took her hand again, raising it high as he bowed low. “I am Thaltos.” He pulled her hand to his mouth and gently kissed it.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, Claire guessed that Thaltos was the gentleman of his group. From what she remembered of his pack, the other two looked like they wanted to eat her.

He raised his head to smile at her. “Darrow and Silthos are on their way. I’ve told them you were starting to wake, so they should be here any moment.”

“Darrow and Silthos? Which one is-” She struggled to remember Thaltos’ companions looked like.

“Darrow is red-skinned and has horns like mine. Silthos is taller and has orange eyes. Does that help?” He cocked his head, smiling hopefully.

She shook her head slowly. “Not really.”

Thaltos tried again. “Darrow has the tail.”

Now she remembered. That tail was a dead giveaway. “Yeah, okay. Now I’ve got it. Darrow was…oh.”

His smiled faded. “What?”

“Darrow was the one who looked like he wanted to devour me.” A small spark of fear raced up her spine, setting off warning bells in her head.

“Ah, yes. Darrow and his evil smile.” Thaltos sighed and hung his head. “I warned him not to do that.”

“I take it he doesn’t listen well.” She smiled softly, her nervousness now completely gone.

“Unfortunately, no. Darrow doesn’t take direction well unless he’s under threat of pain.” He made a disgusted face, one that exposed his frustrations with his companion.

She stood silent for a moment, trying to think of a way to lighten the mood. As kind as he was to her, Thaltos was still a demon, which meant that he was capable of ripping her to shreds of he wanted to. The last thing she wanted was to be in pieces because one of his friends had pissed him off.

“While we wait, could you tell me where we are?”

Instantly, his face brightened. “Where do you think we are?”

She paused for a moment, looking around the room again. “Hell looks a lot different than what grandma told me it should be.”

Thaltos threw his head back and laughed. “Yes, well, I don’t recall anyone ever having an accurate description of this place. They would like to think it’s all fire and brimstone, but our world is much more complex than that.”

“Really?” She cocked her head, curios. “How so.”

He paused for a moment. “Have you ever read the Greek descriptions of Hades?”

She nodded. “Some. I know that the famous people are shipped off to paradise or something like it. Normal people just wander around in darkness, gloom and depression.”

Thaltos threw his arms wide, grinning at her. “Welcome!”

She stared at him slack-jawed. Well, this was a welcome she hadn’t been expecting. She’d been waiting to see screaming souls being dragged into pits of fire, not an overly-friendly demon escort that grinned every five seconds.

Hell of a welcoming committee.

He lowered his arms, concerned. “Is something wrong?”

She shook her head. “That was just more excitement than I was prepared for.”

He smiled at her, content that he had done no permanent damage. “When in Rome, my dear. Now,” he stepped forward and looped a massive arm around her shoulders, “how should we start. Should I give you a tour? Introduce you to the others? Maybe give you a good, thorough-”

“Ha! So she is awake!” A new voice, gritty and deep, interrupted his musing. “You weren’t lying to us!”

She turned to see Darrow and Silthos enter their small chamber. Both seemed to materialize of out the shadows, appearing from the darkness as if they were born from it. She could see small threads of the inky shadow cling to their skins as they stepped forward, almost trying to keep her new company from leaving their loving embrace.

Neither demon seemed to notice the shadows desperately clinging to their bodies. Two sets of eyes, one black and one a soft orange, stared at her hungrily. Darrow, obviously the more sinister of the two, wore a smile that could have frightened even the most hardened killer at Pelican Bay. His long, thin tail whipped back and forth excitedly. Silthos’ smile was softer, but just as ravenous. His eyes narrowed as he studied her, coming to rest on her small breasts. He licked his lips as if staring at a veritable feast.

Well, this certainly made her feel safe.

Darrow continued to grin wickedly. “Those idiots finally gave us a good one. At least this daughter is something we can play with.”

Silthos licked his lips again. “Small, but I think she’ll do fine. Pretty, too.”

Terrified of being eaten alive, she stood frozen in place, her muscles locking up out of fear. Thaltos moved instead, stepping forward and blocking her from their sight. The newcomers stopped, narrowing their eyes at him. Silthos’ lips parted slightly, and she heard the low rumble of demon’s growl escape his throat.

Darrow held up a thick arm, waving a sharp-nailed finger at his friend. “Not fair, Thaltos. We’re supposed to share her.”

“And we will. But first wipe those depraved smiles off your faces and try to act civil.” He crossed his arms over his broad chest. “She’s ours to ravage, yes, but I don’t want her terrified of you two before we start. Especially you, Darrow. The girl’s been scared of you since the church.”

The other demons retracted their snarls instantly, relieved that they wouldn’t have to fight to get their share. Darrow did his best to soften his smile, but ultimately abandoned the attempt and stone there stone-faced. Silthos had better luck, pulling back his grin to a softer, warmer smile.

She let of a slow breath. Although her fear still boiled slightly in her gut, this was certainly better than the hungry grins they had worn before. At least she no longer felt like the roast pig at the center of a feast. Now she felt like one of the appetizers.

“Good. Now we can get started.” Thaltos winked at her.

“It’s about time,” Silthos snarled.

Thaltos whipped around and growled at his companion. “Keep your patience! The girl’s been dragged through shit just to get here. The examination can wait until she’s comfortable.”

Darrow placed a clawed hand on Silthos’ shoulder, dragging him back a step. “Relax. We have the girl now, so there’s no need to start a brawl over when we get her. It’s not like she’s going anywhere.” Trying to contain his enthusiasm, he turned to her and gave the softest sly smile he could.

She sighed to herself. Darrow was right: She wasn’t going anywhere. There wasn’t a chance in hell that they’d let her go or that she’d find some escape hatch, so she might as well get used to being here. Gathering whatever strength her bones still had, she reached up and tapped Thaltos on his shoulder. He turned his head and peered down at her, his eyebrows raised in interest.

Clearing her throat, she smiled weakly. “It’s okay. Really, I’m fine. You can do what you need to. I’ll be alright.”

Thaltos’ eyes lit up. “You’re certain? I’d prefer to start once you feel more at home.”

She shook her head. “I’m fine.”

He smiled at her. “Wonderful!”

Turning to face her completely, he placed his massive hands on her shoulders and held her still. He moved her body this way and that, maneuvering her limbs and torso to make every inch of her body visible. He pushed her hair back and stepped away, joining the others. They stood in a line, scanning her body in silence. She swallowed loudly and attempted to block out any feelings of indecency or humiliation. It’s not like her embarrassment would matter now; she was in hell after all. She tried to lose herself in her own mind, occasionally hearing bits of their conversation.

“She’s small.”

“Yes, but she’s in great condition. Not a scar anywhere.”

“I don’t know. I still say they conned us. For all we know, they could have given us a Brazilian model.”

“Or a spinster hag. I agree with Thaltos. For what we gave, I think we got a pretty good return. I say we keep her.”

“I don’t know. I want a better look at her first.”

Darrow stepped forward, stopping just inches away from her body. He circled her slowly, dragging one long clawed finger along her skin to trace the lithe lines of her waist and hips. His nail barely scraped her skin, just enough to make her jump in surprise. He snorted at her fearfulness, amused that this tiny creature thought she could handle them. Still, he said nothing detrimental and continued to trace her figure. He stepped behind her and cupped her small breasts in his scaled hands, testing their weight in his palms. She whimpered softly but gave no resistance.

After completing his inspection, Darrow stepped back and stood in front of her, his arms crossed over his chest. He scanned her one more time, his black eyes giving her one last assessment before nodding.

“Fine, then. I stand corrected. She’s small, but she’ll do.”

She left out a silent breath of relief. By the skin of her fingernails, she had barely missed whatever hell would have come her way of she had not met her standards. She shuddered to think what might have happened to her if they had not found her appealing.

“She is a virgin, right” Darrow turned to look at the other two. “They didn’t sell us short, did they?”

“Can’t you smell it on her?” Silthos asked incredulously. “I’m twenty feet away and I can smell that she’s clean!”

Darrow turned to face her again, his eyes narrowing. “I don’t trust my senses. Those humans have found ways to lie to us before. I want to make sure she’s unspoiled.” The corners of his mouth turned up in a sickening smile.

That smile turned her stomach inside-out. She backed away from him, horrified at what he might do. Darrow, still smiling at her, mirrored her movements by stepping towards her. It was clear to her that he intended to rip her wide open to make sure she was a virgin. This faux stalking was simply entertainment before the main show.

Thaltos stepped forward, his body straightening to become a massive wall of flesh and fire. “You will not harm her!” His voice boomed around the room, loud enough to shake the spears of rock on the ceiling.

Darrow stopped in his tracks, looking over his shoulder at his fellow demon. “I wasn’t planning to. I just want to make sure her hymen’s intact before we play. Once we break it, we can go wild with her.”

Thaltos took another step forward. “Absolutely not. She is to remain clean until we decide to claim her fully.”

Darrow wheeled around, his black eyes blazing. “But we have to make sure she’s pure. They could have sold us a rotten product and dressed her up to fool us. I want to make sure she’s unspoiled!”

Thaltos’s expression remained stern, though his eyes had softened a bit. “Use your tongue, then.”

Her jaw made a crater in the floor. She struggled to pull the pieces of her composure back together, trying not to scream in anguish. His tongue? Oh, fuck no! That creature’s tongue was the last thing that was going to be probing around in her body. Even if she had to claw their eyes out and drag her way up form the depths of this hellhole, she would not let that thing touch her.

Even Darrow’s mouth unhinged a bit. “Are you sure? That’s not the most common way to see if a girl’s a virgin.”

Thaltos shrugged. “Knowing the length of your tongue, it should be easy for you to find out. To be honest, I’m a bit curious myself.”

Silthos turned to look at him. “You are? I thought you accepted the word of humans without an issue.”

“I do. But Darrow brings up a good point. I’ve seen those maggots use a few ingenious ways to fool others of our kind, so it might be a good idea to make absolutely sure she’s clean. Darrow, use that world-class tongue of yours and tell us if she’s spoiled or not.” One slate-grey eye winked at her. “Who knows? She might enjoy it as much as you do.”

A softer smile twitched on Darrow’s lips, growing brighter as he turned to face her. He held his hands out in front of him, cracking his knuckles as if preparing for a fight. A thick tongue slipped out between his lips and caressed them, leaving a thin sheen of saliva.

“If you insist.” His eye widened, excitement flickering in their black depths. “Come here, girl, and we’ll see how chaste you are.”

Still shell-shocked by Thaltos’ change of heart, she barely had enough time to register her own emotions before noticing that Darrow had closed the distance between them. Moving faster that she could react, he bent down and wrapped on thick arm around her back. He scooped her onto his shoulder and carried her to the magnificent chair Thaltos had been sitting in earlier.

He set her down gently, taking care not to drop her. Her body twitched as her flesh touched the cold stone, though she managed to control herself long enough to scoot as far back into the chair as she could. What she had feared was now inevitable, but only as long as he could reach her.

Darrow laughed at her efforts, amused that she still had fire in her bones. He reached out and wrapped his clawed hands around her slender ankles, pulling her gently back to the edge of the chair. She winced, not in pain but out of fear. She dug her nails into the stone, trying desperately to counter his movements. It didn’t work, and he succeeded in dragging her ass to the very edge of the chair.

Still grinning at her, he sank to his knees and placed his hot hands on her knees. Instinctively, she snapped her legs closed, giving one last attempt to avoid the unavoidable.

His smile faltered for a moment as he watched her legs close. Obviously determined to make sure she was a virgin, he slipped his claws between her thighs and jerked them apart, bracing his arms on the stone seat of the chair so she couldn’t close them again. Leaning close, he ran his disgusting tongue along the inside of her slender thigh, making her flesh twitch.

He pulled back and let out a sharp laugh. “Virgin or not, this one’s delicious.” He looked over his shoulder. “Thaltos, you should try this one. She’s sweeter than honeyed wine.”