The demonic elevator crashed dead center inside the devil's large office space. Its crooked doors popped open with Lu and his new intern stepping outside.
"Welcome to Hell!" Lu said, "My home away from home."
Joshua pinched his nose together. "I don't like the smell." he gasped. There was a foul odor of rotten eggs in the air. At least it wasn't burning meat, but rotten egg smells were bad enough.
"You'll get used to it." the devil assured, "Let's meet the gang. Ah, here they are."
Both Lu and Joshua were welcomed by an assortment of familiar faces. A purple succubus Joshua had seen numerous times before. Lilith was her name. She had come up to the Gravely household before. The short, stubby bat-like demon Scrugs was also among the welcome committee.
There were three other demons that Joshua recognized but didn't remember their names. He last saw them during Rosemary's game night at her house, and he recognized the larger of the three, Moloch, was the father to one of his friends, Dominic.
The last demon Joshua was completely unfamiliar with but he recalled Rosemary's stories about him. He looked as Rosemary described him. Some sort of centaurian creature with the body and head of an old spider. Six fingers in each had that carried a long staff. Six black eyes that rarely blinked. A scarf that covered most of his face. Dressed himself like a demonic pope with his ragged robes and papal tiara.
Legion. That was the one Rosemary described. Legion, the dark sorcerer and priest of heresy. Joshua was sure that this demon never came up to his world, but what reason would he? The demon was described as being very old. No one knew how old exactly but he could recall Hell looking much, much different than it was now.
Lu began his role call. "Here's Lilith. My personal secretary."
"Ello there." The sweet succubus greeted with a curtsy. "Please to have you down here with us."
"And here's Scrugs, my personal assistant."
"Hiya, Josh!" Scrugs also greeted.
"You already know these fellas: Balthazar, Ghuul, and Moloch."
"Wazz up!" the wild Balthazar hollered.
"Welcome to the hotbox, kid." the timid Ghuul said, giving the boy a short salute with his fingers.
"Sup." the hulking Moloch grumbled. Never was one for small talk.
"And last but not least. My loyal adviser, Legion."
"Welcome to our domain, young Master Wordworth." The old demon bowed his rounded head.
"Hello," Joshua gave a kind wave. "Nice to see you all again, and to meet some of you for the first time."
The demons noticed something off. The human boy wore something around his neck. It was a necklace with a silver chain. Attached at the end was an odd-shaped T. Yet the demons recognized that this was no letter.
"Watch it, everyone!" Balthazar screeched, hopping a couple steps back from the boy. "Kid's got a cross!"
"Keep it away. Keep it away." Ghuul urged.
"Oh, I'm melting." Moloch bellowed. "Oh, what a world."
"I'm sorry I didn't mean to hurt anyone." Joshua nervously said, covering his rosary with his hands.
"The only thing you're hurting is their acting career," Lu assured, unconvinced by his friends' stale performances.
"And their humility." the ancient warlock Legion grumbled, also dismayed by his fellow kin.
The demons all started to laugh. "Oh that's hysterical." Balthazar cried, "Kid thinks demons are repelled by crosses."
"Beware!" Scrugs playfully put his claws together to form a cross, "The power of the 'T' compels you."
"I think they make nice little earrings if you ask me." Lilith teased with the others.
Their laughter ended when one by one each demon was struck across their heads. From tallest to shortest—starting with Moloch to Scrugs—they all felt a blow from Legion's wooden staff.
"Holy objects and other relics should not be taken lightly." Legion scolded his fellow demons. "Now act your ages! You're being rude to our guest."
"Ah, we were just having a little fun," Balthazar said, rubbing the fresh lump on his head, "nothing too personal."
"Wait, I don't understand," Joshua queried, "Shouldn't my cross repel you?"
"Why would it?" Moloch asked.
"Because the Bible referred to demons as being angels who were cast out from Heaven," the boy went on, "and Lucifer—er, Lu, I mean—was their leader. And anything resembling Christ is suppose to be a defense against demons."
"A few truths do not account for the whole story." Legion bellowed.
Lilith explained, "There are actually no angels down here, love. Except for the boss of course. But he's a full-blooded demon now."
"Truthfully, I don't know what happened to my followers." Lu added. "I took the fall and was kicked out, and they were banished elsewhere. Not sure where." he shrugged off his old memories. "That's ancient history. Perhaps it's time to get to know the real story. Legion, if you would do the honors."
Legion bowed his head to his king. "As you command, my lord," With his dark power, his decrepit hand waved in the air. Old candles hidden in the shadows lit up, revealing a decorated mosaic depicting various demons and locations of the Inferno. The centerpiece bared the image of a humanoid being—with large teeth, red skin, and a pair of horns—engulfed in a sea of fire and smoke. The painted, dark eyes haunted young Joshua the more he stared at the mosaic. It resembled what his mother and the church always described about the deceitful devil of the old testament.
"Our long, factual history began long ago after celestial beings fought a civil war with one another. In the outcome only three have survived. Together they founded a new paradise and crafted new lifeforms in their own image, to rebuild what was lost in their world. They created many worlds across many galaxies. Two worlds were the most promising, yet one was given more attention than the other. It became a kingdom of light. A sanctuary for the pure. What these beings did not know was that they were not the only ones to have survived."
"This is where things get good," Scrugs whispered in on Joshua's ear.
After the elder demon hushed him, he continued, "There was one other to have survived. This entity, known only as Corruption, found its way to one of these worlds, and shaped its inhabitants in its own twisted image. According to the ancient scriptures, this was the birth of Hell and its demons.
"Abandoned and forgotten. Violent and manic. The inhabitants soon preyed on one another. But there was one where was one that rose up. One that united all the demons under his rule. One that set out for conquest across other worlds and the realm of the light. His name would forever be remembered as the great adversary against God and his angels, Satan.
"Wait!" Joshua interrupted, turning towards Lu, "I thought your name was Satan."
"The terms 'Devil' and 'Satan' are not just names, but titles." the sorcerer corrected him, "Titles that are given to the one demon who shall rule all of Hell. Many bore those names and ruled over this realm with such power. And now that power and entitlement has been passed to Lucifer."
"How did you become the devil?"
"I killed the last one." Lu said with a greedy grin. "Now Hell's much more prosperous under my rule."
"Amen to that!" Lilith praised.
"So shall we begin the tour? We can stop at the gift shop later on."