A Pale Court in Beauty and Decay


"Sir," the man said. "We have protocol in hell. I don't know what kind of slapdash enterprise you run in the living world, but here? We follow the rules. And all guests and permanent residents have to fill out a N981, a C221, a 34T and a PD490-81-10!" He held up each form, waggling them. The last one unfolded five separate pages, the last slapping down onto the ground. He sighed softly, then started to fold the papers up. "And you have your number. Now, is Muh'hor there?"

I am present, Glorious Archive, an older sounding female voice filled my ears.

I held up my hand, a slow horror growing inside me.

"Wait," I said. "You want the paperwork for-"

"Yes, for every visitor or permanent resident," the man said, frowning. "What is so difficult to understand about this?"

"There are more than seven million Altarans in my brain!" I said, putting my finger to my temple. "You want to do the paperwork for all of them just so I can visit Yama?"

The man snorted, his large nose twitching. "Of course not, don't be silly. You also need to do the paperwork to leave Hell. Sir. Now. Please." He pointed. "Take a seat and wait for your number."

"Uh, I am personal friends with Anubis," I said, nodding.

"Different department, sir," the man said, not looking up from his paperwork.

I walked away, leaving behind a tiny chunk of my nanites that could act as a speaker for Muh'hor to converse through. The murmured conversation began once more. I frowned and leaned back in my chair.

We gotta get out of here! Radi groaned.

"We are in total agreement, Princess," I said. "Got any ideas?"

I know! Radi said. Ask to go to the bathroom!

I frowned. I raised my hand. "Sir?"

The man sighed and looked away from the speaker. "Yes?" he asked.

"Can I go to the bathroom?"

"Down the hall, to the left," he said, turning back to the speaker - pointing at the exit. I sprang to my feet and hurried out of the door. I took an immediate right. I walked along the corridor, Radi humming quietly in my ears as a tiny minimap flashed on, showing me where the rock corridor had led, so I could travel back to where I had been. I came to an intersection, looking left and right. I frowned.

"Where the hell do we go?" I asked.

We should find a Foo Dog and ask them what happened to Eric, Radi said, sounding confident. That did seem like a good plan. I swept my eyes around - and then waited for the Council of Perception to do their thang. After a few seconds, someone spotted a hair in one of the frames that my eyes had snapped a picture of and Radi pointed it out to me with a glowing highlight. I walked along that corridor, following the trail of shed hair. After about three intersections and one junction, I came to another one of those rough hewn doorways and looked inside. The last thing I had been expecting filled the room. It was a locker room. There were lockers along the walls, there were bunches to sit on, and there were two mostly naked Foo Dogs waiting there. At least, I presumed they were Foo Dogs. They didn't look like dogs. They were humanoid, covered in soft golden fur, and had mane-like explosions of red fur surrounding their heads. Their muzzles were short and squat and they had kinda wide set eyes.

They were also hunky, in so far as I was told that women measured such things.

I can attain a complete survey of the entire Altaran population and determine their hunk rating! Radi said, helpfully.

"Um, maybe later," I said.

The Foo Dog on the left - who was only wearing a towel - held up a pair of masks. Both were familiar.

Really familiar.

"So, who should I go as?" he asked - his language translated in my head by my Council of Languages. "Dr. Quantum...or Archive?" He held up a mask of my face to his face. It was the doofiest, stupidest, most idiotic looking version of my face I had ever seen. I scowled, noticing a complete lack of Project Aegis logo on the chin.

"Oh. My. God. They're wearing knockoffs," I hissed. "Chinese Knockoffs of my FACE!"

The two Foo Dogs looked over at me.

"So, I guess that's decided," the Foo Dog with the masks said, sounding annoyed. "Damn it, Shen, I thought you said you wouldn't go as Archive until I decided! And you even..." he shook his head, thrusting his paw at me accusingly. "You got a better costume than me! Gods damn it!"

I spread my hands. "I thought you said you were definitely going to be Dr. Quantum!"

"I said no such thing," the Foo Dog grumbled. "Well, at least I can go naked then. Do you think Yomi will notice me?"

"No," the other Foo Dog said.

I chuckled. "Yeah, dude, you are not getting into Yomi's robes," I said, casually.

You have vastly improved your quick thinking and your ability to rapidly make up falsehoods ever since you started dating Madeline! Radi said, her voice entirely too cheerful. I clenched my jaw rather than responding to that.

"I think I got a chance," the Foo Dog now dressed in the single worst Dr. Quantum outfit I had ever seen said. "The yearly office party is the one chance where any of us has a shot at any of the fox spirits. And if you're going to fire, aim for the heavens!"

"Why not seduce that diplomat the Jade Emperor sent?" the other Foo Dog said. "If you're gonna try for something impossible, go for class."

"Yomi is classy!" The Dr. Quantum Dog said, sounding offended.

"Well, guys, before we head to the, uh, office party," I said, stepping forward. "Do you guys know where that super-villain we grabbed went?"

"Him?" the unmasked Foo DOg asked. "We put him with the other guy. He went through processing, I think. Didn't take him long. He should be with Yama by now."

My face felt cold. "You didn't notice anything weird?" I asked.

"No," Dr. Quantum Dog said, shaking his head. His eyes were confused. "Did you?"

"He seemed kinda possessed to me," I said, slowly. The two Foo Dogs snorted.

"If he had been possessed by any evil spirits, we'd have smelled it, dude," Dr. Quantum Dog said. The other Dog nodded. But...then he slowly started to rub his chin. He looked uncertain.

"He did smell a little funny," he admitted.

"Dude, he was a mutant," Dr. Quantum Dog said. "Those guys always smell funny. Now, come on!" He stood and grabbed my arm - his towel falling from around his hips. "Lets head for the office party, Shen." He grinned behind his Dr. Quantum Mask.

Look down! Look down! Radi said.

My eyes remained locked on Dr. Quantum Dog's eyes - visible through the creepily inaccurate Dr. Quantum Mask. They shone with a cheery light as he leaned forward.

"And I don't care how good your costume is, Shen. I will be the one who taps Yomi tonight," He said. I tried to grin back at him - I aimed for confident. Cocky. Sure of myself. I may have ended up just looking scared.

"We'll see," I said. "May the best doggo...winno."


Walking through hell -- even the Chinese hell -- wasn't exactly how I had planned to spend my first Halloween. Doubly so since each of the Foo Dogs walking with me kept on talking about stuff that I was sure Shen knew. But I wasn't Shen. I was just me, and Radi was exactly zero help, though she did provide some suggestions.

"So, did you dip your wick with that cute girl from accounting?" The Foo Dog dressed as Dr. Quantum asked.

Oh! Radi said, her voice excited. Tell him that you made many candles! And they're all quite nice. People like arts and crafts, so he'll be happy to hear that.

I coughed. "Well, a man doesn't dip and tell."

The other Foo Dogs howled with laughter - and then we came out of the narrow, winding corridors of rough hewn stone and into a large, open room that was filled with screaming. A clever design in the cave had kept the sounds of the tormented souls within from filtering into the cave network, but as I swept my gaze around, I saw people who were immersed upside down in boiling water, and other people who were chained up over fires, being slowly twisted around and around, and others surrounded by what appeared to be the single worst polka band I had ever seen in my life. I winced.

Each tormenting area was sectioned off its own terrace - each terrace itself connected to another terrace by a series of stairs, ropes, wires and other stranger means of egress and entrance. The Foo Dogs didn't pay it any mind.

"You always had the best luck, Shen," the Dr. Quantum Dog said, sounding annoyed as he took one of the stairs that wound underneath the terrace with the polka band. Fortunately, we then immediately took a left and were taken into what looked like a nice, comfortable rec room in a human style. The walls were decorated with tacky Halloween decorations that had to be dated back to the 1970s - crinkly foil letters spelling out BOO and orange pumpkins and black paper cut out bats. A truly insipid songs about monsters dancing came from the speakers, to add to the ambiance, and someone had set up a small smoke machine to putter out and fill the ground with a roiling cloud of dry ice fog.

All of this was the cherry ontop of the surreal sunday that was seeing a room full of demons in cheap Fisher Price costumes of me, my friends at Project Aegis, and several of my nemesis.

"Oh, there she is!" Dr. Quantum Dog said, excitedly pointing with one finger.

The girl he was pointing at was...


I immediately looked in a different direction, because I was a good boyfriend, who did not ogle gorgeous Asian chicks dressed in silky kimonos that left acres and acres of belly, thigh, calf and shoulders exposed. The fact she had amazing titties, a round heart shaped ass, and the most adorable pair of fox ears on her head just made it all the more important I didn't-

The gorgeous fox-eared girl stepped up before me, grinning broadly. "I love that Archive costume!" Her voice was husky and rich and sent a tingle along my spine as I gulped and looked at her. My cheeks flushed bright red.

I can fill your mouth with saltpeter! Radi said, again trying to be helpful. My eyes took in the Asian girl's cleavage. I was pretty sure that being smacked upside the head by a megahammer wouldn't have stopped me from stating to get seriously turned on by the way her large, full breasts heaved with every breath she took. I licked my lips and gulped as she chortled.

"Shen, you're also a good actor," she said, quietly, leaning forward. Her breath came hot in my ear - warm and moist. "Acting shy and flustered, you're so in character..."

I squirmed and stepped back. I looked at the other Dogs - but each of them was just staring at me with clear admiration. All the ribbing, all the joshing, and all the jealousy had been ejected by seeing this gorgeous girl whose name I did not know hanging off my shoulder. I grinned, slowly, then said. "Well, uh, I do want to win the costume contest. Who are you going as?" I asked, sliding my arm around her back.

Oh! If this is the girl they were referring to in the locker room, it is highly likely that her name is Yomi! Radi said.

I blinked.

That...was a very good point. Thanks, Radi. I looked at Yomi as she grinned, then shoved me to the side. We ended up in the corner of the room and a second foxy girl appeared as if by magic by my side. Her hair was raven black rather than red, her eyes were gold rather than green, but other than that, she was remarkably similar to Yomi. I gulped loudly as both of their fingers started to caress my chest muscles, their noses bumping against my cheek. I squirmed as I felt a tongue caress my neck slowly.

"I'm dressed as a total slut tonight," Yomi purred. "That's my costume, Archie..."

"Uh-" I blinked, then looked over at the other fox girl. She was dressed nearly identically to Yomi - her kimono hung so far open that her nipples were almost showing. My cock bulged against my pants as I gulped loudly. "A-And you, miss..."

"Ai," she said, grinning broadly.

I gulped as Ai's hand slipped along my belly and caressed the bulge of my groin. She gasped, her eyes widening as she felt the girth and length of my member. I blushed, furiously, trying to squirm away from her - thinking guiltily of Maddie.

"A-And your costume?" I stammered.

"Whore," Ai said, cheerily.

"Well, I have a girlfrahhhh!" I yelped as I was pushed to the side and shoved through a door in the side of the room. I ended up on my butt, with both eager fox girls-

Fox spirits, actually! Radi pitched in.

-sliding their kimonos off as they surged into the room, which I realized was a supply closet. There were pens and printer cartridges and several very large whips that looked like they were used to punish sinners. I opened my mouth to say something - but was struck dumb by the sight of those two women naked. They were both utterly hairless below their eyebrows - not a single hair on their bellies, or their armpits. Or their legs. Or their smooth, perky, dripping pussies. The only piece of clothing that I noticed on either of them was a small necklace hanging around Yomi's neck. My mouth watered as Ai stepped over me, her bushy black fox tail tickling my nose. I started to push myself up - then felt a whip crack around my wrist. Ai laughed as she tied the whip off and I strained, trying to tug myself free using only humanoid strength.

But even using a Foo Dog's projected strength level, I couldn't do more than strain the whip. Before I could switch to super-strength, Ai had the other wrist lashed down tight.

Yomi purred, her hands caressing her breasts. "Oh, but that is a good costume..." She said. "So, lets roleplay. You're Archive, and I'm the wicked fox spirit who has captured you. So...you were saying?" She knelt down, her fingers teasing the edges of my costume. I squirmed, trying to calculate out the odds. If I snapped my bindings, they'd know I wasn't just a normal Foo Dog. But if I let them strip me, they'd know that I wasn't a normal Foo Dog. But if I-

Yomi tugged my pants free. My cock sprang free, slapping my belly. Ai gasped. "Holyfuckballs," she whispered. Her eyes traced the line fro the tip of my cock to the base, clearly trying to measure me. My cheeks were so red I was shocked my mask didn't melt off.

Yomi didn't seem shocked or taken aback. She didn't even seem surprised. She just smirked and leaned slowly forward, panting a single kiss on the tip of my achingly hard cock. Her soft, feathery tongue slipped along the edge of my foreskin, teasing me slowly as she cooed quietly. Her mouth closed around the head of my shaft and she sucked on me with a soft, eager moan. Her eyes closed and her ears perked up wide as Ai giggled, settling down behind me.

"S-Stop, please!" I whimpered. "I'm..." My hips bucked slightly. "I have a girlfriend!"

Yomi drew her mouth back, grinning wickedly. She shifted forward and pressed her breasts to either side of my cock. "And?" she asked. "Is she even slightly as sexy as moi?" Her hands cupped her breasts, creating a warm, tight tunnel around my cock. Yomi then leaned forward and let herself slobber over my dick, moaning and sucking bit of my cock thrusting from between her soft, pillowy breasts. The spittle slipped along my cock and added wetness to the warm, tight, softness of her breasts. She started to rise and fall as I tried to form cogent thoughts, let alone words.

Oh! You are loyal to your loving, awesome girlfriend and don't want to have sex behind her back! Radi said.

Once again. Actually helpful. I gritted my teeth and hissed. "I'm in love with a girl! We're dating, I...ah...I don't want to-"

"She doesn't have to know, you know," Yomi said, chuckling. "Or do I need to educate you, the man with the mask and secret identity, the value of keeping secrets."

"Don'tactually have a secretidentity!" I gasped, several of my words slurring together as I tried to keep my pleasure under control. But my balls ached to fill Yomi's mouth and pussy with cum. I closed my eyes hard and hissed. "A-And I love her! I want to...she's the best girl ever, and..."

"And you don't want her getting jealous?" Yomi purred, licking the tip of my cock.

"No!" I hissed. "I mean, ah...no. I'm not scared of her being jealous. She's too smart and wonderful to be jealous. S-She can prolly think rings around me, and figure out everything that happened, and know me better than I know myself, and know I'd never want to, fuck, cheat on her..." I panted as my cock twitched against her. "B-but...she'd be disappointed in me if...I...didn't..." I trailed off.

Yomi paused, then drew her slicked breasts away from my cock. "She's pretty fabulous, huh?" she asked, licking her fingertips.

A tiny, odd thought started to nag at the back of my head.

Yomi hadn't been even slightly surprised at the size of my dick. I had met goddesses who had been startled by how hung I was. My brow furrowed slightly and I shifted from side to side, my wrists tensing as I looked at the fox girl. That necklace of hers - glistening slightly with her spit and my own sweat and pre-cum - remained between her breasts. But it wasn't actually a gemstone. It looked more like a computer chip. She grinned slightly, nuzzling the side of my dick.

"Tell me more about how much you adore her, please," Yomi purred, licking the tip of my cock again.

"Sure," I said, leaning back. "She's also a sneaky, tricky person who goes off to hell to rescue her stupid boyfriend when she's supposed to be in the Arctic casting magical spells, Maddie!" I glared at "Yomi."

The fox girl giggled. "You got me!" She said, her hands going to her necklace and yanking it over her head. Her body shimmered and suddenly, she was smaller, more slender, with darker hair and a complete lack of fox ears and tail. Madeline Deinhardt beamed, puffing up her chest as she looked at me. "Ozymandias never leaves her boy toy to rot in hell for all eternity."

I sagged against the whips. "Ohthankgod," I whispered.

"Oh. My. Gosh." Ai gasped, her eyes widening. "If you're Ozymandias, where's Yomi?"

"Oh, she's somewhere fun," Maddie said, shrugging, then leaning forward and kissing my balls. I leaned back, fully ready to enjoy the fact that I was getting sucked off by my girlfriend. Since, well, I was in hell, it wasn't about to get better. I slowly grinned as Maddie's head bobbed up and down on my cock as I closed my eyes. My balls twitched slightly as Ai gasped quietly -- clearly impressed with my girlfriend's cocksucking skills. Which, to be fair...

Are we forgetting something? Radi asked.

"Shut up Radi," I whispered as Maddie drew her mouth back with a loud slurp.

She grinned at me. "Xander, honey, in exactly a minute and thirty six seconds - give or take a few seconds, actually - can you smash that necklace?" She nodded to the necklace she had discarded.

Oh! I just remembered what we were forgetting! Radi said before I could respond.

The door to the room exploded outwards - taking with it massive chunks of wall and floor. Screams split the air and I sat up as I saw demons running for cover as, floating in the center of a maelstrom of shattered floor tiles and smashed decorations - was the Kandarian demon currently riding Eric like a horse. He cackled as his hands flared wide and sent out a haze of chunks away from him - aiming at every demon in the room. I sprang from my restraints, all pretense shattered as I leaped outwards and slapped the floor. This was not an unprecedented situation, and my nanites surged forward.

Fortunately, said nanites had gotten back online.

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