TITLE: Court Mage Cherry's Vacation
SERIES: The Adventures of Lord Sam and Lady Brooke
AUTHOR: Jos Mous
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of these characters and am not making a profit.
PAIRINGS: Apart from the usual suspects, we also get Mary Cherry/The Three
NOTE: This fic is a (more or less) direct result to Paul's feedback for "Citizen Sam". Amongst other things, he wondered what Court mage Cherry did during her time off. At the time, I had no idea. However, now I know.
There is only one Hell. This would've surprised anyone with a basic understanding of comparative religion. There are, after all, a great many religions and because of the power of belief all those religions are true. And since lots of religions have a Hell of some sort or the other there should be lots of Hells.
While humans may be able to imagine all kinds of definitions for eternal reward, eternal damnation and suffering is always more or less the same so the infernal hellfiends of the damned just ran a "one-size-fits-all" kind of Hell. According to the Athanian philosopher David of Cynica, the reason for humanity's failing imagination when it comes to thinking up Hell is that humanity spends so much time imagining ways to create Hell on earth that they only have a very limited imagination left to fill the afterlife with.
Of course, not many people agreed with "Cynical Dave". After all, the glorious Republic of Athan was more than enough proof that humanity was capable of imagining such Heavens on earth that they could also imagine lots of Heavens after earth.
The fact that the Republic of Athan was continuously waging bloody war on everybody else was considered to be only a minor detail that could easily be ignored.
"No, shut up! You're not getting more sunlight!"
Prince Jessica was talking to plants again. A lot of people talk to plants in the belief that this makes them grow better, although most of the time the plants don't actually talk back. However, at birth Prince Jessica had been blessed by a few Good Fairies (sort of) and one of them had granted her the gift of communing with nature and all things plant-like.
However, plants still didn't answer Prince Jessica because she never want to talk to them in the first place.
"I've had up to here with you!" Prince Jessica yelled at the fern. "I mean, what have you ever done for me, eh? Just standing around being green all the time? What good is that? Oh, don't talk to me about oxygen. You are not creating enough oxygen for me. Forests create oxygen to some extent, one moody little fern like you doesn't. No, shut up. No I don't care what the biologists say. They're P'p'l'rarian biologists so they probably got it wrong anyway. And if you don't shut up right this minute I'll set you on fire, you hear me?"
Prince Jessica avoided the fern standing in Court mage Cherry's tower whenever she could help it. She didn't like the fern at all, but she did like Court mage Cherry which was why she was going through the trouble of keeping it watered.
Court mage Cherry hadn't returned from her vacation yet and Prince Jessica was getting worried. She knew that her mother, Lord Sam, was also worried, but not because she feared something had happened to Court mage Cherry, but because she feared Court mage Cherry had happened to someone else.
Slamming the door as she went out, Prince Jessica descended the stairs of the tower, crossed the courtyard and, after a few more boring hallways stepped into the throne room.
"Jessica, look who's back?" said Lord Sam from her position on the throne.
Prince Jessica grinned. "Mary Cherry, glad you're back."
"Good ta be back," said Court mage Cherry. "Ah'm quaite lookin' farward ta takin' up mah tasks agin."
A look of pain flashed over Lord Sam's face.
"That's great," said Prince Jessica. "But can I ask you one question?"
"Sure, mah Li'll Lord."
"Why do you have three naked women on a leash?"
Court mage Cherry grinned. "Ah, wahll, that's on accounta me visitin' mah husband."
"You have a husband?" Lord Sam asked. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Musta slipped mah mind," said Court mage Cherry innocently. "So parhaps mah Lord'd laik ta listen ta what Ah did on mah vacation? It'd explain a lot."
* * * * *
Court mage Cherry walked down the brimstone path, humming soundlessly under her breath. She was surrounded by wandering souls who were all wandering towards the giant iron door at the end of the brimstone path. When Court mage Cherry reached the infernal gate, she paused briefly to read the sign above the door.
The management thanks you for leaving your Hope by the door
She smiled to herself. It was such an improvement over the old one.
Court mage Cherry confidently stepped into the throne room of the Dark One. She was rather disappointed when the only things she saw were the Throne of Skulls and one rather small demon nervously holding a clipboard.
"Whair is mah husband?" Court mage Cherry asked, as she sat down on the Throne of Skulls (they weren't real skulls, of course, since souls generally don't have any and, for some reason, no demons had volunteered to part with their own).
The demon coughed. "Well, Mistress, once the unholy gatekeepers of the infernal gate told the Master that you were approaching he. . . he remembered he had some urgent business to attend to."
"What kinda business?" Court mage Cherry.
The demon coughed again. "Master didn't say, exactly. He was a bit. . . unspecified."
Court mage Cherry pouted. "That's jus' laik him, abandonin' his poor, defenceless waif tah untold horrors. Ah have needs too, ya know?"
"Uhm. . . uhm. . . you're not exactly defenceless, are you Mistress?" said the demon. "I mean, the deal was that you'd get near limitless power if you married the Prince of Darkness."
"Really, was that tha deal?" said Court mage Cherry. "Ah thought it was tha other way around?"
"No, no, I'm sure that was it," said the demon, leafing through the pages on his clipboard. "Just your standard Unholy Marriage Pact."
"Oh," said Court mage Cherry.
"So, what would Mistress like to do?" the demon asked in the kind of voice that made it clear he wasn't keen on finding out.
Court mage Cherry looked thoughtful for a moment.
"Perhaps you'd like to see the progress on the new circle?" the demon suggested.
"What new circle?"
"You know, the one you ordered to be built last time you were here?"
Court mage Cherry smiled. "Good aidea."
The demon smiled desperately. "Well then, this way ma'am."
"All raight. Show me sum damnation," said the Mistress of Hell.
". . . and this over here is the Pit of Lawyers," said the demon, gesturing.
"Good, good," said Mary Cherry, Mistress of Hell.
"Can I ask you a question, though?"
"Why did you want another Pit of Lawyers? We already have an entire section dedicated to them."
"This ain't ta torment lawyers, you big silly," said Mary Cherry. "This is fer others."
The demon frowned. "Are you saying that you want to torture the eternally damned by setting lawyers on them?"
"Isn't that a bit severe?"
"Some people daserve it."
"Good grief, do they really?" said the demon. "What have they done to deserve it, if you don't mind my asking?"
"Eatin' cookies in bed," said Mary Cherry darkly.
"I'm. . . sorry, what?"
"You heard me," the Mistress of Hell growled. "Eatin' cookies, crumblin' them, makin' everybody itchy. Wahll, who's laughin' now eh?"
"Err. . . nobody," said the demon. "This is Hell."
"Err. . . right. . . yes. . . well. Moving on! Over here, we have the Fields of Senseless Slaughter."
The Mistress of Hell frowned. "Ah don't remember that one."
The demon nodded furiously. "Oh no, you ordered this one. Fields of Senseless Slaughter. Remember it clearly. Lots of Slaughter."
"Lemme see that," Merry Cherry said, snatching the demon's clipboard out of his hand. "Oh, the Classroom For Warmongering Dictators Who Declared War Too Often Without Thinking Of The Long Term Consequences," she said cheerfully. "You should've said."
"We prefer Fields of Senseless Slaughter," said the demon sulkily. "It's got a better ring to it. And might I have my clipboard back Mistress?"
The small clipboard demon hesitated when they arrived at the last part of Mary Cherry's Circle of Hell.
"Sumtin' wrong?" the Mistress of Hell asked.
"Well. . . we're not entirely sure we made this section correctly."
"Why?" asked Mary Cherry.
"Well, the, err, Fun Sunny Meadow of Joy and Carnal Gratification is filled with, fun, sunlight, joy and carnal gratification. It's. . . not exactly something you'd use to torment the damned, really."
"Oh, but this is fer a very special kinda damned," said Mary Cherry.
"Oh heck yeah," said the Mistress of Hell.
And it was too. Mary Cherry had designed the Fun Sunny Meadow of Joy and Carnal Gratification for truly exceptional cases of damned souls. It was for virgins who didn't want to volunteer for sacrifice, for wives who'd murdered their husbands after one beating too many, for girls who'd seduced men into brutally raping them by being unassuming and/or pretty and for many other souls who were doomed to eternal torment for similar reasons.
"Ah'll think Ah'll go and have a looksee," said the Mistress of Hell.
The Fun Sunny Meadow of Joy and Carnal Gratification almost lived up to its name. The damned souls wandering here certainly seemed to be having a joyful kind of fun, but Mary Cherry was disappointed that there wasn't a lot of carnal gratification going on. Or at least, not where she could see it.
Her disappointment quickly made way for surprise when she came to the crystal clear lake. There was a woman lying on the bank, moving her hand through the water and entertaining a few playful fish as she did so. From the top half of her body it was easy to see she was a woman, but the bottom half could've belonged to anyone that didn't have legs and her hair seemed to have a life of its own.
"Hi there," said Mary Cherry.
"Hello Misstresss," the gorgon hissed.
"What ya doin' here?"
"I'm on my break," the gorgon answered. She sighed.
"And you spend it here?" said Mary Cherry.
"Oh yess," said the gorgon. "It'ss ssso beautiful here." She sighed again. "There isssn't much beauty around here, you know."
"Wahll Ah don't know," said Mary Cherry. "It's just a meadow and a lake. We've got plenty of those where I come from."
"Do you really?" said the gorgon. "That musst be wonderful, to be consstantly sssurounded by sssuch beauty."
"You like beauty, dontcha," said Mary Cherry.
"Oh yess Misstresss," said the gorgon. "Most of my kind do. But sssuch beauty ass thisss we have never sseen before. I'm amazed the sssoul can take it all." She sighed. "Oh well, I mussst go back to work. But before I go can I assk you a quessstion Misstresss?"
"That great big blue thing. . . what'ss it called?"
"That's the sky," said Mary Cherry.
"Sssky," said the gorgon. "It'ss beautiful."
Mary Cherry sat down on the Throne of Skulls. Since her husband was absent at the moment, it was up to Mary Cherry to run the day-to-day business of Hell.
"Flowers Ah think," she said.
"Excuse me?" said the demon with the clipboard.
"Ah was talking about wahllpaper. All this granite and fire and brimstone gets so monotonous. Ah think a naice flowery wahllpaper wahll fix this place up a treat."
"But Mistress, this is Hell," said the demon.
"That doesn't mean it has ta look so nasty," said Mary Cherry.
"Err. . . yes. . . of course Mistress."
The door to the infernal throne room opened and a damned soul stepped inside. He looked around haughtily.
"I demand to know who's currently in charge of this place," said the soul.
Mary Cherry and the demon blinked.
"Ah am," said the Mistress of Hell.
"Good," said the soul. "My name is Ryan and I happen to be a very important person, yes? And yet, some of your guards treated me most impolitely I don't mind telling you. My, they expected me to just go along with the masses. Well, let me tell you that the masses choose me and that means I am above the masses. So I'd like to be treated with a bit more respect, eh?"
The demon quickly leafed through the pages on his clipboard. "Did you say Ryan?"
"That's right," said the ghostly Ryan.
"Ah here it is," said the demon. He grinned. "Oh, I see. You want special treatment, don't you?"
"I don't want it," said Ryan. "I deserve it."
The demon flung his clipboard away. It sailed through the air a moment before shattering against the wall. "Well don't worry," he said, his eyes ablaze. "We've got a special circle reserved for the likes of you."
"That's better," said Ryan. "Now if you'll just show me this circle of mine I won't have your head chopped off."
The demon put a claw-like hand on the soul's shoulder. "Of course I will. Follow me please."
"You know, seems to me like this place needs some firm leadership," said Ryan as he was led out of the throne room. "When do you chaps have elections?"
And with that Mary Cherry, Mistress of Hell was alone in the throne room. But not for long. Pretty soon the Three entered. They were the most infamous succubi Hell had ever seen. The Prince of Darkness had given them to Mary Cherry as concubines two hours after he'd married her.
"Mistress Cherry," said the First.
"We missed you," said the Second.
"We thought of you every night," said the Third.
The Three surrounded the Throne of Skulls and would have seriously invaded Mary Cherry's personal space if she had any.
"We're so glad you're back Mistress," the First whispered.
"There're games we want you to play with us," the Second moaned.
"Won't you please play games with us?" the Third begged.
"Sure," said Mary Cherry. "Ah was gettin' tired of rulin' Hell anyway."
"Yes, oh yes, oh yes!" the Mistress of Hell screamed.
The Second groaned.
"That's the Mountain of Torment with a Castle o' Despair," said Mary Cherry. "Pay up."
"That's the very last of my money," said the Second.
"I guess you're out then sister-wife," said the First.
"Unless you'd like to. . . sell something," said the Third.
The Second considered this. "How about if I sell my panties for, say, 50,000?"
"You still got your boots on," said the Third.
"And your gloves," said the First.
"I prefer getting rid of my undergarments, thank you," said the Second. "So how about it?"
"Sure," said Mary Cherry.
The First grinned. "We're happy you're back Mistress."
"Yes, we love the games you play with us," said the Second.
"For some reason, everybody seems to think we just want to have sex all the time," said the Third.
"Yes," said the First. "As if being a succubus automatically means you're insatiable."
"It's not fair," said the Third.
"Wahll, humans will be humans," said Mary Cherry. "Even when they're demons," she added.
Somebody stepped into the room. The Three looked up and then flattened themselves against the furthest wall.
"It's her," the First hissed. "The Insatiable One."
"Please keep her away from us Mistress," the Second pleaded.
"We don't want to be summoned by her again," said the Third.
"Hay thar Carmen," said Mary Cherry. "Ah didn't know you were dead."
Messenger Carmen blinked. "What do you mean? Lord Sam just ordered me to find you, that's all."
"Ah, Lord Sam is Lord agin, eh?"
"Yeah," said Messenger Carmen. "And she's offering you your job back."
"Sure!" said the Mistress of Hell. "Ah'd love to. Well, looks laik this is goodbye gals."
"Err. . . see you later Mistress," said the First in the tone of voice of someone who's not quite up to speed with current events.
"But not too much later we hope," said the Third.
Messenger Carmen looked at them ponderously. "Say, don't I know you girls from somewhere?"
"No!" the Three chorused.
The Mistress of Hell was almost through the infernal gates when somebody called out to her. It turned out to be a gorgon standing in front of a large group of gorgons.
"Hello gals," said Mary Cherry.
"Misstresss, we heard you were leaving," said the gorgon.
"Are you going back to your homeland?" another gorgon asked.
"Well then," said a gorgon. "Can we assk you for a favour?"
* * * * *
"And that's what Ah did on mah vacation," said Court mage Cherry.
"Ooookay," said Lord Sam. "But that still doesn't explain why you're here with three naked women on a leash."
"Oh, Ah jus' bought them on a Duncian slave market on mah way back," said Court mage Cherry. "Wahll, Ah'm off to mah tower. Lemme know if you need me."
Lord Sam watched her court mage leave the throne room. Three seconds later, Messenger Carmen entered.
"My Lord, there are some people here who'd like to see you."
Lord Sam closed her eyes. "Let me guess. There's one group of gorgons who'd like to live here, one group of P'p'l'rarians who want to banish and/or behead all gorgons and a committee of former Athanians who want to advise me on how to help the gorgons adjust to our society."
Messenger Carmen was speechless until she spoke again. "How did you know that my Lord?"
Lord Sam sighed. "By now I've managed to figure out how my life works. All right, send in the gorgons first will you?"
Lord Sam could feel a headache coming on as the gorgons slithered into the throne room, followed by some of the more hot-headed P'p'l'rarians.
It was going to be another one of those days.
Meanwhile, in the Court mage Cherry's tower.
"All raight gals, y'all can take off them collars now."
The three naked women looked at each other. Then, "Why did you tell your Lord that you bought us as slaves?" one of them asked.
"Oh what with the whole gorgon deal Ah didn't think mah Lord'd like to deal with succubus immigrants jus' yet," said Mary Cherry.
"We're still glad you decided to take us along," said the Second.
"And now, perhaps, we could play a game?" said the Third.
"Sure, Ah got tha board raight here."
"That's not the kind of game we had in mind Mistress," said the First.
Court mage Cherry grinned.
It was going to be another one of those days.
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