Helkey 2 — The Golden Throne

Holy shit. Holy shit! Holy shit!! We are going to break into hell!!!

The recognition causes goose flesh to immediately break out all over my body. I begin to notice the strange sounds of people talking – notably the strange words. To recognize the strange street signs outside and the subtle, not-American look to the whole place. I glance around at the Starbucks again. It isn’t just any Starbucks. It’s a German Starbucks. One bustling with German people speaking, well, German and reading from German menus. The lay of the land and the sprawling city outside reveal a place that has long held a mysterious if ominous allure for me.

We’re in Berlin!

(Reading via video blog)

Man, this is one heck of a summer vacation. If you can accurately call it anything close to a vacation. More like watching the start to a Stephen King horror show while experimenting with magically enhanced mind-altering drugs. And my continuing feeling of not knowing what the hell is going on combined with a pervasive sense of disorientation is making me start to think this is all a very bad idea.

There are still so many bits missing… Obviously, I was part of one of my parent’s big plans. Something they filled me in on over the years. But now, because of the potion, I didn’t know squat.

“Uh, guys, if we’re going to break into Hell, then why the hell are we in metropolitan Germany?”

Mori and Beatrice share a look. It’s one of those – yeah, the potion worked better than we expected, perhaps too good kind of looks.

“Because, my dear,” Beatrice explains, “There’s a gateway to Hell on the top floor of the big bank building HQ just blocks from here.”

“It’s in the shitter,” Mori adds nonchalantly.

“To put it bluntly, it is the shitter,” Beatrice adds.

At those words, the memory starts to seep back. Furze Bank HQ is situated directly in the center of Berlin. It’s in this gigantic glass and iron tower. Looming over the city like some modern recreation of a medieval castle. On the top floor of that sky-scraper is a gilded bathroom that houses a great golden toilet. But this isn’t just your run-of-the mill opulent bathroom. This bathroom comes with a special window that allows those seated on the toilet to look out over the entire city of Berlin and its environs. To get the impression that one is sitting on the top of the world and shitting all over it.

“The Furze Bank HQ executive water closet. An appropriate metaphor of the sad mentality of many of this era’s richest people,” I observe with posed eloquence. “I think even my tight-ass AP English Lit teacher would appreciate the symbolism.” I laugh nervously at my own joke, still unable to shake a growing sense of dread. What’s the matter with us? – I ask myself silently, wanting to scream the words at my parents. Why would we ever plan to do anything so stupid as attempt to break into Hell?

“Ah, so you are starting to remember,” Beatrice replies with a wink. “Good.”

“Indeed, we live in the Age of Gilded Crappers,” Mori adds with dry humor. “And this particular crapper is our ticket, girls. A one-way ride straight to the worst place in the multiverse.”

So just between you, me and the wall, and because I really am starting to remember as Beatrice just observed, gateways to Hell are weird. I mean, really fracking weird even for a girl who grew up raised by actual live garden gnome nannies (redcaps are mean!) and with two of the strangest Martian ducks on the planet for parents. OK, well, they really aren’t Martian ducks. But you get the picture.

Now these gateways to Hell come in two forms. The first is a mostly permanent gateway. And there aren’t very many of those – about 13 or so correspondently existing during any given age and at any given time. One such monstrosity gapes its spiritual maw wide not far from here in the ruins of Auschwitz. Another lurks in the ground below the central point of impact at Hiroshima. And one just recently collapsed into existence in the thawing permafrost at a place called Yamal – which happens to mean ‘the end of the world’ – in Russia. Permanent Hell gates tend to form where bad shit has happened or is likely to happen. Places where fear or greed or war or neglect or blind pride or wanton lust or outright rage or abuse of innocents or of nature itself has resulted in or is all-too-certain to cause something goddamnbadaweful. And though they’re not exactly completely permanent, they can last for years, decades, even centuries.

Going into one of those gates is dangerous. They are watched by mysterious, strange and powerful beings that defy mortal understanding. Beings that are typically unable to cross over the boundary into our world, but who can nonetheless draw in our negative emotions in a manner similar to a crack junkie puffing away on the water bong pipe. Who gather in the event that some poor sod might die near the mouth of such a gate and be drawn in – at which point a feeding frenzy is likely to begin.

Of course, some idiot mage possessed of the right curses and understanding might actively cast themselves across such a permanent barrier. But this course is decidedly not advisable. If you want to have your wisp ripped directly out of your recently decapitated or otherwise mauled, mangled, or killed corpus, and used to feed the awful engines and forges of power-mad Asmodeus, then try to enter Hell by one of those gates. My parents, both possessed of not your average share of intelligence and badassery, would never try such a stupid thing. But, yeah, if you’re badder than the rest of us or have a death wish combined with a lust to experience spiritual torture before the ultimate and most terrible of all ends that could ever possibly befall any poor being, then be my friggin guest.

Us? Well we – meaning me, Mori, and Beatrice – have found our own private gateway into Hell. It’s not a regular permanent gate. But it is a pretty regular dump, as the case may be…

You see, the second kind of Hell Gate can form under almost any nefarious circumstance that provokes a very strong negative emotion. Murder scenes, for example, are pretty much certain to open one. War zones too. And you can often find the things yawning open pretty frequently at the various trading floors around the world during times of big booms or busts. Greed, fear, overweening pride, mass death can all serve as a key. A Helkey. A thing that attracts demons who subsequently shape a rift to peer in on the unsuspecting bad actors of our present world. These watchers aren’t usually as powerful or dangerous or numerous as those creatures that tend to mass around the permanent gates. So entry isn’t quite as dangerous. Of course, confronting even the demons of a temporary Hell Gate is still a serious risk. And temporary gates present their own unique challenges. Most are either unpredictable or open in Earthly locations that are dangerous, filled with snoopy cops, or are otherwise simply chaotic. If we are going to be bat shit crazy enough to try to get in to Hell, then we want both a safer route and one that is predictable.

And that’s where Ivan Volkov comes in.

Ivan is a big investor from mother Russia. Us mages suspect that he’s here in Germany laundering or attempting to launder money for the various powerful Russian oil oligarchs who’ve looted billions in public funds and turned it into private wealth. People who do these kinds of things and get away with it often have an over-developed sense of self-worth. They tend to view other people not as real persons, but as objects. In the case of Ivan, Ivan the Wolf as his friends like to call him, he appears to get a ridiculously and maniacally prideful rush from the notion of sitting at the top of the world and shitting all over the rest of us plebes. This self-deifying pride and enjoyment over the imagined degradation of fellow human beings is enough to attract the attention of more than a just a few demons. Demons possessed of coldly cruel minds both utterly bestial and yet also advanced beyond human comprehension. Beings once orphaned from our world but now entirely alien to it. Creatures trapped in a broken world of poison airs and ash that are yet capable of lifting their grasping limbs to stroke the ether and to tear an opening between Hell and the Earth at precisely 630 PM Berlin time every day to look in on baleful Ivan as he ascends the grand glass tower, enters the gilded throne room, unceremoniously drops trou, puts his self-imagined royal ass on the seat of a golden toilet, and begins to unleash the pent-up volume of his great bowls upon a quietly unsuspecting world.

And so Ivan’s big daily shit is our big opportunity. If opportunity is at all the right word for describing such an insane enterprise as entering Hell through a toilet bowl swarming with demons.

(Haven’t read the first chapter? Check it out here.)

(Looking for another chapter? Find it in this Table of Contents.)

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