Author's Note: Anyone who's read the "Hellfire" chapter of "Music In Our Souls" can skip most of the first part of this chapter. That drabble got a good amount of requests for a continuation, and so it is now a full length story. The other full length story I'd mentioned I would start on will follow this one, as they actually work best as continuations of one another.
Facilier screamed as his friends dragged him to the 'Other Side'. He pleaded with them desperately, telling them he had more plans, if they could only give him more time…But such dark friends are not the kind to give something for nothing, and so far, they believed Facilier had used up all his chances.
The gate to the human world closed with a purple flash. All Facilier could see in the darkness were the green outlines of his voodoo doll captors as they dragged him to a location he could not see. His mind raced, imagining the terrible tortures that might await him. He considered asking if they were taking him to Hell, but he knew the answer already. Hearing it said aloud would only make the trip that much worse. There'd be no comforting denial if it were said, and it was denial Facilier foolishly clung to at the moment.
"You still have more plans, eh? Let him go, boys," a shape shifted in the shadows. All Facilier could tell in the darkness was that while the shape had a similar build to a man, it was no man.
Facilier took advantage of the moment, gazing his composure. He pulled himself to his feet and swept his hat off his head, giving the shape a bow, hoping that form could see him. "Oh, yes. Lots more plans…If you would just afford me a little more time, Mr. …uh?"
"Just call me Belial. I'm listening to your plea," there was a flash in the darkness, and Facilier gave a shudder as he realized that the light the voodoo doll demons were giving off was being reflected on Belial's teeth. "But you better make it pretty impressive, Facilier."
Facilier nodded. "As I'm sure you're aware, it's a frog's fault I'm here…"
"Oh no," Belial interrupted, a circle of gold light forming beside him. As he spoke, an image of Tiana and Naveen at their wedding appeared in the middle of the light. "It's not her fault you're out of time, and they're not frogs anymore."
Facilier frowned momentarily, but then thought of a way to work it into his scheme. "Surely you're not okay with happy endings? Wouldn't you prefer they were miserable? I know y'all spirits like your wayward souls and all, but what about pure souls? I'm talkin' nice folk here…"
"Yes…we like their souls much better," Belial agreed, "But it's a rare treat. They typically have to sign their souls over, and it's such a hassle. But they are more…delicious. Too bad I haven't had one in a good thousand years."
"Ah, but what if I personally promise you those two's souls? Tiana's and Naveen's? Especially Tiana's," He muttered the last part darkly.
"How do you expect to do that?"
"If you would grant me more time, and just a touch more power – not much, mind you, I know how to get to those two so that they're desperate enough to give their souls up to you. I can guarantee it. I know their kind."
Belial was silent, contemplating.
"Well? What do you say?" Facilier extended his hand. "Do we got ourselves a deal?"
Belial chuckled. "It will take more souls than that."
"Of course. After I have them, I'll get the souls of everyone in New Orleans and in Maldonia. All for you, and all I want in return is the life I had back."
"Facilier, we have ourselves an arrangement," a human shaped hand, covered in what felt like scales, reached out and touched Facilier's hand without gripping it. "But if you fail…" Belial did not finish the threat. "Are you sure you want to accept?"
Facilier shook his hand, flinching at the touch of the scales, without a moment's hesitation. Whatever was waiting for him on this side would be terrible, but at least he could postpone it for now and get revenge at the same time…
A year had passed in as quiet of a way as possible for a busy restaurateur and her husband. They had their ups and downs, their arguments, and both of them had sustained a few burns and knife injuries while working. But it was still a good life. They loved each other very much, and they were happy together. Happier than either had been on their own, that's for certain.
And that was why Naveen didn't understand why his wife seemed to be keeping a secret from him. He walked in one day on her whispering to her mother, Eudora, but Tiana had clammed up the minute she spotted her prince. She'd made a quick gesture to her mother, and Eudora had shut her mouth as well.
Naveen was troubled over it. The restaurant was doing well, the house almost full every night, and he didn't think he'd done anything to warrant anger, but Tiana refused to tell him what was going on, insisting she'd tell him later, when the time was right. Eudora had only smirked and told him it wasn't her place to tell him Tiana's business. His mother-in-law did assure him, however, that Tiana would tell him soon.
Soon turned out to be a week after he'd intruded on them.
"Naveen? Can you come here a moment?" Tiana had asked one day at work, pulling him into the pantry. The staff had exchanged amused looks, assuming the couple was just exchanging affection. There was a yelp from inside the pantry, a cry of "are you sure?" and then Naveen had practically burst down the door, looking like he'd been hit by a train. Tiana looked worried. She'd thought, given Naveen's reaction, that he was upset. She couldn't have been more wrong.
"Achidanza! Everyone, everyone, I have an announcement!" He clapped his hands, making sure all eyes were on him. He pulled Tiana closer to him. "We are going to have a baby! Tiana is with child! …I am going to be a father. A father!"
Some of the kitchen staff politely applauded, and a few of the younger men let out whooping noises and "Way to go, Naveen!" was shouted from one corner.
Naveen ushered Tiana out of the kitchen and into the dining room, which was being prepped for tonight's service. "Why did you not tell me sooner?"
"I wanted to be sure. I told mama first because she'd know if I was mistakin' the signs…"
Naveen hit himself upside the head. "This was why you were queasy! You told me you were just with a …what did you call it? Bug?" He accused.
"Well, at that point I really thought it was just some sort of virus," Tiana defended herself. "But then there were other things…I was thirsty more often, and my stomach hurt all the time…Mama was the one who suggested I might be pregnant in the first place. I'm sorry I didn't tell you first."
"It is all right. But to think…our own child on the way! I must write my parents immediately and tell them the good news!"
"After dinner service," Tiana insisted. Naveen nodded, but caught her arm and whirled her back into him when she attempted to go back to the kitchen.
"Where are you going?"
"To work. Dinner service is –"
"Not nearly as important as your health! You are with child, you should not be working as much as you do."
"I'll be fine, Naveen," Tiana insisted, giving him a kiss before wrenching her arm free. "You know this place would go to pieces without me," she teased. Naveen watched her go, feeling like he'd already lost a battle before it had ever begun.
"For now, maybe," he said softly, "But at some point I will get you to take it easy."
A year. A whole year had been lost to Facilier, with no idea of where it had gone. The time spent in the underworld had felt like mere minutes, but when he returned to New Orleans, he quickly found out he was wrong.
He heard snippets from people around town about Tiana and Naveen – how happy their marriage was, how wonderful Tiana's Palace was, how great the food was there. The seeming perfection of their life made Facilier angrier than he could stand.
But he had never been one for the direct approach. True, Belial had granted him more power than he'd first had in life, but he'd also been warned that if he used the magic up before his scheduled return, he'd be forced back all the sooner. And so, he needed a pawn.
He watched the citizens of New Orleans carefully, trying to find one who was stupid enough, or desperate enough to go along with his plans, but competent enough not to screw everything up.
Since the news of Tiana and Naveen's pregnancy had reached his ears, he'd had a plan, especially once he heard that Naveen had insisted on hiring more staff to make the job easier for Tiana. It would be two more days before he spotted a young man being rejected by Charlotte La Bouff. She walked off in a huff as the boy hung his head, seemingly defeated.
Facilier recognized the man, though he didn't know his name. But he'd seen him at the La Bouff masquerade ball, where Charlotte had also turned him down. Apparently he still hadn't given up on her.
"What's the matter, kid?" Facilier asked, twirling his cane as he walked. He patted the boy on the back. "Love troubles, eh son?"
"Why do I keep trying? She's been turning me down since we were eight. I thought since the prince married her best friend…"
"That she might suddenly have time for you?" Facilier anticipated. The boy nodded. "Well, it is your lucky day. Because I'm gonna help you get that filly, and I barely want anything out of you in return, uh…your name?"
"I'm Travis. But I really don't have anything to give you. I'm not a prince," he said the last word bitterly. "Can't offer myself to Charlotte, can't offer anything to you. Who are you, anyways?"
"Names aren't important, Travis. Least ways, not mine. But I can promise you that La Bouff girl's heart. She'd be all yours, desperately in love with you…and you can either be happy with that, or get revenge and reject her the way she keeps doing to you."
"No. If she'd have me, I'd be with Charlotte forever."
"All right, dreamer," Facilier interlocked his hands and cracked his knuckles. "I can get you that. The only thing I need from you…is a simple handshake."
"That's all?" Travis asked, raising an eyebrow.
Travis's arm shook, but he extended his hand anyways. Facilier grabbed it and shook enthusiastically, his grip tightening when a sharp, stabbing sensation went into the palm of Travis's hand. When Travis pulled his hand away, he stared at his palm, where a bright purple insignia glowed. It had the letter 'B', with a snake wrapped around it. The glow died out, and the mark only looked like an old burn. "What is this?"
"Think of it as proof. Of your sincerity, I mean. This proves to the one who's above me," Facilier pointed up, though his eyes flicked downward momentarily, "That you're on his side. He'll make sure you'll get what's comin' to you. And now, if you'll follow me, I can divulge a bit more of my plan…"
Author's Note: The name "Belial" comes from "And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?" 2 Corinthians 6:15. So, yes, Belial is Satan. As per why Travis is helping Facilier…I hate original characters. Some can be good, but it takes a talent I just don't have, so I wanted a character who was already in the series to partner with Facilier, and I wanted it to be one who seemed like a good guy but might be desperate enough to turn to Facilier for help, and might not know who he is. So, this is how I chose to do this.