The House of Asmodeus: A Trial by Fire Chapter 1

“For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world.” – 1 John 2:16

SEVERAL YEARS AGO

“Husband, are you listening?” Noella asks him.

We’ve been married for little over a year now, but she still calls me by that even more than my name… or title I guess.

“Asmodeus?” she says this time, and his head twitches, snapping out of his daze.

He remembers where he is, the Circle of Lust, his kingdom. Looking around at the capital city of gold, one can easily forget that they’re in a part of Hell.

The current Asmodeus overlooks his kingdom from his palace one more time, his wife giving him the chance. His palace itself is as large as a city, so the city is the size of a small country, at least by human standards. 

Sometimes I still can’t believe it, he thinks to himself, I’m living in a golden place that looks like he stacked a bunch of golden pies on top of each other. 

Of course it only looks like that from afar, but even from afar that’s still a lot of gold. The palace is almost as unbelievable as being a nearly all-powerful god, with people who live to serve me.

I used to be a normal human after all.

Well, maybe normal is a strong word.

In his appearance, he doesn’t look like a daemon, since he hides his demonic appendages, the horns, wings and such under the skin.

He’s what can best be described as an ethnically vague human, and barely out of his teenage years at that. His parents always blurred the lines between looking Native American, Hispanic, so biracial is kind of the best way to put. 

Noella pulls herself closely to his arm as they sit on one of the more personal spots in the palace’s lower terraces. A garden with a view of the artificial sun. It’s a magic trick for a land that stretches along the outer rim of a multiverse. Not really a round planet.

Noella doesn’t suck in her appendages like her husband does. She lets the little white nubs on her head show along with her white bat wings and forked tail. Daemon born and raised, so why wouldn’t she look like one? The forked tongue is really the only thing that daemons will hide most of the time, it can be weird to talk with.

Asmodeus finds himself looking at her dress with spaghetti strings over her back, leaving it open for her wings. It’s more comfortable than having slits in the clothes like her husband. I hate having to slip them through the holes… if only I were allowed to go shirtless, that would make it easy, I could put the wings out anytime I want, but no, that’s not proper for a king.

As if reading his mind, Noella tells him, “The Demon King of Lust cannot go shirtless just because he doesn’t like how clothes feel around his wings.”

“What’s the point of being a monarchy if we can’t make up our own rules?” he asks her.

“We?” she asks facetiously. With a rather mocking shrug, “More like I make the rules and you enforce them for me.”

Asmodeus squints at her as she smirks at his expense. 

“It’s very cute how you scrunch your nose,” she tells him.

He can’t quite fake it for long, chuckling a bit as he stops. “Thank god for that, you’d be sick of me by now,” Asmodeus tells her.

She shakes her head, declaring, “Never.” 

“Really?”

“No, I get sick of you on a weekly basis.” He mocks a hand over his heart.

“You wound me.”

“Oh, however will you forgive me,” she continues to mock him as she clings to his arm.

Noella starts tracing her hand across his chest to his shoulder, hanging on to the spare time that they have together. 

Maybe, it’s just recently, but it’s like we don’t get much time to do something so… low-key, Asmodeus thinks to himself. Even when we have time to ourselves, the others don’t want to just sit watch the sunset. I know it reminds her of her home, and it reminds me of Earth.

Sunsets are kind of the same no matter where you go. 

“This is really nice,” she tells him, resting her head on his shoulder, “being able to do this, with just the two of us.”

“Yeah, I agree,” he says, his tone rather sullen. 

“No one else will really… sit here with me… Not that I don’t love spending time with Lo, Zaze, and of course-
Of course,” he jokes.

“-Azale…” she finishes, taking her turn to squint at Asmodeus as he smirks at her mention of Azale, her unspoken primary. 

What makes him laugh more is her one omission. “Not Asmodea?” 

Her happy expression drops for an annoyed frown. “Yeah sure, her too,” she mutters, “it’s just that we don’t get much time to ourselves and I like this.”
“I think so too, I’m sorry about that.”

“Don’t be,” she immediately assures him, as she leans back against the grass, “my mother always told me that we were promised to each other. A princess of Pride to a young, new Demon King of Lust, so I’ve had a lot of time to realize that this would happen.”

“All the time spent governing?” he asks her.

“That, definitely that,” she agrees, “but the transition is mostly over, we should have more time for ourselves, for all of us… but I was also talking about how… different the way daemons live here in Lust. I imagine it must have been the same for you, being raised on Earth.”

“Yeah,” he agrees, as he leans back to join her in the grass, “you can definitely say that again.”

“I never could have predicted just how… uncommon monogamy is here… that I would love other women like I do you, or even you. I can’t express how shocked I am to think that I actually like you.”

“Why?!” he laughs.

“When we met, you were so boring,” she says.

“Am I not now?”

“A little less so.”

He rolls his eyes, sarcastically telling her, “Thanks.

“You’re very welcome… I forgot again.”

“Forgot what?” he asks, sitting up and looking down at her.

“What I keep meaning to talk to you about,” she says, “this isn’t something I’ve talked about with anyone but Azale… and my mother- the Demon Queen of Pride, you know her right?”

Asmodeus smirks down at her as she puts off asking, seemingly to already know what she’s going to say. “Yeah, I know her, I hear she’s a royal pain in your ass.”

Noella looks away to list off, “She’s royal, a pain, and she’s constantly up my ass, hmm, your evaluation checks out.”

“Heh, now please, Noe, tell what she’s bothering you with.”

Noella fingers get all tangled with each other as she mumbles, “I’m not sure how to start.”

Asmodeus sees her struggle and asks her, “Are you alright?”

She waves him off, assuring him, “Yes, I promise I am,” and she sits up to look him in the eye trying say what’s on the tip of her tongue… before saying something else. “I only think that it may be a long time before we get to be alone like this again.”

Asmodeus purses his brow. Oh, that’s definitely not it. Like, I’m sure she wishes we could really… I don’t know. I feel like I know her enough that I tell her I love her, but I feel like I don’t know enough about her.

But I do know for sure she’s too nervous to tell me, which is terrifying because I can’t remember a time when she was nervous… save for that time we almost died, but that’s completely understandable.

Asmodeus doesn’t force the issue, he nods and agrees with what she would say. “We all take alone time with each other, I don’t think anyone would be upset at the idea of spending more time together.”

“Yeah, yes… sure…” she agrees as she sits back up.

“Clay cutie! Noey!” a voice above them shouts. 

Asmodeus watches Noella take a thankful breath, as if saved by the bell that is their other lover.

As Asmodeus looks up, Noella looks to the side, her face in a slump, full of annoyance. The woman above lands, fists on hips looking down at them, saying, “Aren’t you two adorable together?” but not without a knowing smirk to lock with Noella’s frown.

“Goddamnit,” Noella curses to herself, making Asmodea grin and Asmodeus’s level of worry rise to an eleven on a scale of ten.

Asmodea, unlike Asmodeus and and Noella who are black and white daemon’s respectfully, is a powerful succubus. While she is a mortal daemon, the kind that populates the Circles of Sin, she still strikes an imposing figure. 

That’s why she’s a part of the Demon King’s Reavers, as the Reaver of Seduction.

Asmodeus naturally compares Noella and Asmodea.

Asmodea is very much Noella’s opposite, being taller, thicker in arm muscle, a bruiser instead of a dancer. Not to mention she has pitch black hair to contrast with her red skin. 

Noella’s strength was less something she trained for and more something she was born with, as was the life of a white daemon.

Asmodeus’s heart rate usually rises when they’re together, like he anticipates a fight. Quite literally opposite walks of life. 

Asmodea even dresses opposite of Noella. Instead of a dress, she wears a suit, a black jacket and dress pants. She looks a professional hitman even though she’s anything but professional. Noella is royalty.

Before Noella gets too mad, Asmodeus holds his nervous hand towards her to ask Asmodea, “Love, Noella and I were just having a moment if you don’t mind-”

“Nope,” Noella interrupts, shaking her head with a big smile on her face, “it’s fine.” 

Oh, Asmodea seems to have rescued her from this conversation, Asmodeus seems to realize.

Asmodea places her hand on her hip, doing nothing to hide her smirk. She’s never very subtle when trying to annoy the Pride demoness. 

“I think I might have annoyed the princess,” she teases her.

Noella is quick to narrow her eyes, slipping into the Queen he knows. 

She waves away the succubus’s teasing, sniping back, “You need my attention to annoy me.”

Asmodeus can’t tell if they’re flirting or fighting this time. Asmodeus takes a risk and tries to quell the coming argument, “Ladies, loves, lets not fight.”

Unlike,” Noella ignores him, though he was being far too quiet, “my beloved here who has my undivided attention.” She takes and squeezes his arm rather aggressively.

“I can’t tell if you’re flirting or fighting,” he tries saying louder.

Again he’s ignored this time, by Asmodea, who sits down on his other side and grabs his arm to squeeze just as hard. “Don’t you mean, our beloved?” 

“Isn’t that what I said?” Noella asks facetiously, tilting her head at the fake thought.

This time, before this gets too far, Asmodeus is loud and obnoxious when he says, “And to think people say I’m stupid for having multiple wives.”

Noella’s mouth drops open, taking most offense at the fact that, “I’m your only lawfully wedded wife, beloved.” 

“Yes, but he loves each and everyone one of us equally,” Asmodea says, taking less offense at his clear attempt to annoy them both.    

“That I do,” Asmodeus coos, feeling the grips around his arms loosen, and then he adds, “sadly.”

“Sadly?!” Asmodea yells, seeing the smirk growing on her king’s face. 

“What does that mean?” Noella snipes at him.

“Sadly?” Asmodeus asks avoiding their eye. “Did I say sadly? I meant stupidly.” They both pinch his arms from both sides in response. “Ow!”

“Now he’s messing with us,” Asmodea tells Noella.

“Of course he is, he always does this,” Noella complains with a roll of her eyes.

“You two love me,” Asmodeus jokes.

“Sometimes,” Noella says.

“Sometimes you’re annoying,” Asmodea tells him.

Asmodeus’s face grows hurt and shocked, and then he starts smiling as he assures them, “I’m not gonna fall for my own joke… twice”

“So close,” Noella says.

“You got him once already?” Asmodea asks.

“Got ‘em is too nice, he walks into it,” Noella says with a shrug. Then she turns her head back over her shoulder. “What were you doing over here anyway, Reaver?”

“Oh, that’s right,” Asmodea chimes, and leans closer to whisper in her king’s ear, “that soul harvager you had arrested was brought to your throneroom as requested, Lola and Dotor are with him now.”

Dotor, his Reaver of Maturity and right hand man makes sense to Asmodeus but, “Lo?”

“Did someone remind her that he may want her mortal soul?” Noella asks Asmodea. 

“She said she found the concept of dealing in mortal souls fascinating, you know her,” Asmodea tells them, and they have to nod in agreement. She leans in, pressing her hand in Asmodeus’s face as she shoves him away. She leans into Noella’s face, who doesn’t pull away, close enough that they can feel the other’s breath, “I think they can wait.”

BRA-BOOOMM!!!!

An explosion of lightning happens over their heads, several dozen terrace floors up, and along comes the sounds of people screaming and steel colliding. 

“I don’t think she can!” Asmodeus tells his Reaver as he pushes her off him.

He takes one step into the air and releases his demon appendages. “That hurts,” he complains, but in the next second he’s in the air. In the second after that, there are three sets of wings flying up the side of the place, white, black, and red.

 Above them from where the lightning came, bursts an angel, wearing silver armor and a helm that resembles a Roman centurion. 

Most angels take their armor from whatever era they’ve spent most of their time in. It appears this angel, with her feathery white wings and black war skirt, has taken more than just her armor from Rome, but her silver and gold weapon too.

From that same window comes another angel bursting straight for her with her warhammers ready to kill. With black feathers she outs herself as a fallen angel who lives a life of Sin. Having summoned her armor, she’s less a product of time and more of loyalty, she wears the colors of Asmodeus, and his house symbol on her spartan helm.

Noella points her out as, “Azale!” As Azale fights this angel above them, she outmatches her opponent with one swing of her warhammer, nearly blowing the other angel’s sword from her enemy’s hand. 

That angel looks like a throne, the angelic version of a mortal daemon, like the succubi or incubi of Lust. 

Sure, they can train to be powerful, but against a born Seraphim like Azale… she’s gonna get wrecked. 

Azale’s powerful enough to be a part of Asmodeus’s elite guard as the Reaver of Devotion. Any smart opponent wouldn’t fight her one on one, and they don’t. Another angel, with armor similar to the first comes out with a lance. 

His weapon’s tip glows with light magic at its edges, the basic energy of all angel so that they might bring daemons extreme pain, but it hurts other angels fine enough. 

He swings his lance and Azale’s other warhammer is shy of deflecting it. 

Slikt!

He surprises Azale, and slices her at the bicep, cutting deep. He shifts the butt of his lance to catch her helm. He knocks her towards the other angel to catch her on her blade, but Azale spins expertly. 

She controls the wind under her black wings and spins into her momentum. She backhands the first angel away with a warhammer, and spins around to bring the other down on the second’s head.

Bang! Bang!

She leaves them stunned, by the blow and by her speed. She hits the second attacked before the first hears her helm being rung.

The first blocks the next attack with her sword, thrown back with a clang. The second raises the staff of the lance over his head to block. When Azale’s golden hammer comes down on the base of the staff, it cracks, showing the light magic creaking out.

The metal used to make angel weapons is an expert conductor of light energy. It comes from the mines of Heaven and is forged in the same place, making it a stronger metal than most mortal material across the multiverse. 

And Azale just cracked it. That terrifies the angel alone, but then it would criminal not to mention how Azale ignores the gash on her arm. 

Most angels and daemons would be disarmed by that kind of blow, but as a Seraphim she holds enough energy and power to hold back most blood loss. 

The others were not doing nothing. As soon as Noella saw Azale in trouble she held her hand out for her sword, summoning her rapier.

Asmodea seemed less worried about Azale, knowing the fallen angel to be more than capable of dealing with some middling angels, but she still she summoned her own.

Before they can assist Azale, the fallen angel utilizes the space the two enemies are giving her and utilizes a power known solely to her. 

She cross hers arms and presses them to her chest, making room for her wings to envelope her. It only takes a moment to conjure up the power, but her enemies think she’s retreating to the safety of her wings, leaving herself wide open.

The moment they dash within swinging distance, it’s too late to notice the dark smoke steaming from her wings. 

BLIK!

Black spikes sprout out of Azale’s wings, sharp constructs of dark magic that skewer the angels around her, killing one instantly, and leaving the other to choke on blood.

Dark magic works just like light magic, but never before has a daemon been able to use light magic and an angel never dark magic, at least not until Azale. 

She lets the dark constructs dissipate and drop the dead angels towards the ground, and with a flap her wings, she throws off the blood, spraying around her. It’s a beautiful thing to see her black wings in full glory, surrounded by specks that look less sinister from far away.

Up close it looks gross because… you know, it’s blood.

It’s also a move of intimidation as a litany of angels come out to fight her. She aims the silver warhammer in her left towards them and her golden right at the ready. 

“Come if you dare,” she challenges them.

The lead angel dashes for the Reaver, but she never makes it.

Slikt!

Noella is as quick as she is graceful, flying straight up, slicing the lead angel’s head in half at the base of her neck. Noella continues soaring as she coasts on her momentum, her right leg behind her left, her left arm over her chest as her right holds up her sharp and thin rapier blade, dripping with the red blood of an angel. 

Asmodeus thinks to himself, She really does look like a ballet dancer like that, and then thinks to himself, though maybe it’s not like human ballet. What do I know about any ballet? 

Azale floats starstruck, looking up at the Queen.

Asmodea is a little less graceful as she wields this humongous greatsword whose width is less than an inch shorter than the distance between her two shoulders, and stands a length longer than she is tall. 

She calls it Gram.

Despite being born only a succubus, she wields Gram with the strength of a highborn daemon.

When she swings her sword, gusts of wind come from it and form a tornado several stories high that swallows the dozen angels. It tears them apart, killing them by both a thousand cuts and breaking the bones of their wings. Asmodeus thinks of a faster and more painful fate.

He uses the most basic of sorcery spells, one that gifts him the creation and manipulation of fire. “Firatrix,” he says, and from his hand sprays black flames that mix into the tornado. Working with his Reaver, they reduce the angels to ash.

After the flames disperse they drop angelic skeletons towards the lower terraces. Noella is at Azale’s side before they hit the ground.

“Are you alright?!” Noella asks the fallen angel, frantically grabbing her lover by the forearms to check her for other wounds.

Azale barely has time to smile before her king flies behind her to rest a hand on her shoulder and his other hand over her wound. It stings before he says the healing spell, but she leans her arm into it.

“Master, Mistress, please, I am fine,” she tries to assure them.

Asmodeus relents after he finishes healing her wound, but Noella has none of it when she sees Azale bleeding under her helmet. Noella goes to take off the fallen angel’s helm, and when Azale tries to relent, Noella tells her, “Your Mistress demands it.”

Azale’s hands hesitate at her command, and then they lower to allow her Mistress’s touch.

Asmodea chuckles as she rest her humongous blade on her shoulder. She teases Azale’s submissiveness to Noella, “We can go if you need privacy.” 

Azale may be a trained, experienced, and hardened warrior, but she still squeaks trying and failing to hide a laugh. 

Noella just tells Asmodea to, “Screw off.”

That only makes Asmodea grin until Asmodeus gives her a stern glance. She tells him, “You’re too young to look so serious.” He smirks at that comment, but still flicks Asmodea in the head.

Noella finally takes off Azale’s helmet, and all of her blonde hair falls out. 

There is a splash of blood in the corner of her face but Noella can’t find the mark. Azale raises her hands to Noella’s to assure her, “See Mistress, I’m alright.”

“Probably someone else’s blood,” Asmodea says.

Noella squints her eyes one last time, but cedes, “Fine.” They both turn towards Asmodeus, as Asmodea does for the plan. 

He wipes a bit of blood from Azale’s cheek with a finger as he smiles at her, and she smiles back. Then he takes the lead as they float in the air, taking on his more serious demeanor.

“Noella, Azale, you two head down to collect the guard, and see if you can find Petra or Logue,” other Reavers, “Asmodea and I will go to the throne room.”

“For Lola?” Noella asks him.

“For Lola, but I’m also betting that’s where all this trouble originates from,” he answers her.

Asmodea catches on to his thinking immediately. “You think this is about the soul harvester?”

Asmodeus nods his head. “He’s harvesting and selling mortal souls, which the angels always get upset over. The fact that the Circles of Sin and the Dominions of Heaven have a truce about not doing that… I’m willing to bet the final straw finally came.”

“What about Zazriel?” Azale asks, worried for their Reaver of Desire. 

Asmodeus and Asmodea smirk at each other over the idea of worrying about Zazriel. “Zaze doesn’t need help,” Asmodea assures the angel. 

Asmodeus even jokes, “I’m sure she’ll be saving us before the day is done.”

Azale takes a deep breath. “Should we have word sent to the other Circles?” Azale asks.

Asmodeus thinks about it for a moment. He doubts the other Demon Kings would help, but then again warning them can’t hurt either. Maybe win Lust some political points for later. 

“Why not,” he says, and adds, “and be safe, we can replace just everything else in this palace.

His wife and Reaver both smile at that. Azale grips Asmodeus’s arm as she responds, “And you as well, Master,” and with a smile towards Asmodea adds, “and you, Lady Asmodea.” 

Azale’s always been the best at being formal.

Asmodea nods back to her, with smirk to send her on her way. Noella kisses Asmodea and her husband quickly with a peck on the cheek before saying, “I was going to say ‘be safe,’ beat me to it,” and turns around.

She nods to Azale, and the two outspread their wings to descend, albeit flapping their wings differently to fly. 

Asmodeus turns and starts flying up, Asmodea taking off to follow him towards higher floors where the throneroom will be. As they fly up, Asmodea flies under him, her chest very close to his, not taking the threat as seriously as the others. 

She tells him, “Those two grow closer by the day,” sounding like she’s teasing him or testing him.

He does notice that, but still answers her honestly. “I know.”

“Does that bother you?”

He smirks, finding the idea of being jealous of them ridiculous. “I share my bed with five other people, who am I to judge anyone for anything.”

She’s smiling over his response, but still asks, “Even if they love each other more than you?”

By now they stop and hover near the throne room level. He shares her sly smirk, and assures her as he leans in close, “You mean like you and Zaze?”

“Very true,” Asmodea agrees before kissing him. “Glad you, understand.”

She floats back and lands inside the window of the castle. He follows after her, and they make their way on foot. They quickly come across angels fighting some daemons who work as guards, and some who work peaceful jobs in the castle. 

Even despite being weaponless and armorless, it’s uncommon for even mortal daemons to have no skin in fighting. The superior daemon numbers in the castle make up the difference for most being weaponless.

Having the King of Lust and his Reaver there will surely even the odds.

With spells that he’s memorized, mastered, and practiced the incantation for, along with the precise energy control, he won’t have to use his hands or speak the words, sometimes he need only whisper. 

But a spell to blow through the angels in the hall and protect his daemon people will require more effort from him. Blackfire burns from his eyes, a cheap telltale sign that he’s calling on his large reserves of power, and then he speaks the incantation.

The first line goes, “Mea est orbis terrarum, et figura mea,” and from the stone floors and marble walls, the extravagant red carpets and the nearly pornographic paintings, spring golems in Asmodeus’s image. They seek to assist his people, and lock onto the angels. 

As he continues, “Angelos apprehendit, et ostende eis,” the golems hold on tight to the angel cohort, clinging to them and causing the angels to petrify. The golems dissolve over the angels and then are shaped into Asmodeus’s form again, killing them quickly and cleaning up any mess.

The golems return to their original state, and the daemons make way cheering for their king.

As Asmodeus leaps to fly over them, Asmodea leaps to catch up. “No mercy for Heaven?” she asks, her sly grin betraying the joy she took in seeing his swift execution.

“They show no mercy for the devil, so the devil will show no mercy in turn” he retorts, their shared dark streak in battle showing their ugly heads. 

Noella’s mother said was too peaceful to be a war king, which makes me kind of scared to think about what the others Demon Kings would be doing in my position.

Asmodea’s grin doesn’t get by him either. While I don’t she appreciates my… relatively… peaceful rule, she seems far more interested in seeing us fight. 

They make their way around the castle, and the angels grow too numerous for flashy spells. Asmodeus starts pounding in angel helms with his fiery fists, allowing Asmodea the chance to split angel after angel in two with Gram. 

Three angels try to jump the King of Lust, and find themselves outmatched.

One thinks himself fast enough to speed blitz a Demon King, but he’s moving too slow to see Asmodeus flip over him, and strike his neck. 

Asmodeus lands behind him, hands in pocket, as the angel takes a step and reaches for his neck. After the second step he falls down dead. 

Asmodeus gives the remaining two a come hither gesture. “Don’t disappoint me now,” he taunts them.

They become enraged, distracted, and just before they attack, they get hit by a wind blast.

Swish!

Backdraft from Asmodea’s sword, Asmodeus sees it coming, but the angels don’t. He takes the chance cave in their chests with a kick for each to them. 

At the same time, Asmodea swings her blade to cut an angel in half, but he blocks with his viking style axe. He’s pushed back against the wall, and Gram forces the axe into the angel’s chest. She continues to crush the angel under the weight of her sword, until the blade severs him in half.

When she pulls back, she sees that she’s cut into the wall, and Asmodeus scowls at the damage to his palace. He asks her, “You know how much of a pain it is for Dotor to clean up after you?”

“Oh I know,” she assures him.

He shakes his head, telling her, “You can be really cruel to him someti-”

Wif!

There’s a gust of wind above his head, and the blade of a longsword nearing his neck. Asmodeus barely dodges the surprise attack, bending his back backwards to save himself. 

An angel adorn in the full body armor of knight, gold and silver its colors, is a decidedly different breed from the basic Thrones they’ve encountered. This is a Seraphim angel, and if the speed and agility wasn’t a giveaway, the glowing eyes that lack pupils confirms it. Like when Azale uses her powers, her eyes glow, and so does this one’s.

If Asmodeus were not Asmodeus, even if he were just a black demon, his head would be missing. This Seraphim, like many others can dash and swing a weapon at light speed. Usually, to have one sneak up on anyone would mean death. 

If Asmodea had been the target she’d be dead.

“I think it’s time we got serious, Mod,” Asmodeus tells his Reaver.

The Reaver readies her blade much like the Seraphim, and Asmodeus stands up straight, his back to the enemy, a not-so obvious feint. 

The Seraphim jumps at the chance, and dashes as fast as before to stab the King of Lust in the back, but he moves faster. He jumps and plants his hand on the angel’s blade. 

The split second where he’s face to face with the angel, he distracts him with his smile. Then the Reaver swings her sword right into the Seraphim’s stomach.

The blade digs into the Seraphim’s armor, light bleeds through the cracks. She gets some resistance as she tries to cut the enemy in half. 

Asmodeus flips backwards, and kicks the back of his Reaver’s sword to give her some added force. 

When that doesn’t work, she lets loose the winds to blow the angel away. The angel flies into the wall, and then the wind gusts that follow hit like a barrage, blowing the wall apart.

After all that, with several cracks letting in the outside light, the Seraphim still stands, albeit with several bleeding wounds.

The Reaver of Seduction has had much harder fights, but few as annoying. She makes an ugly frown made more pronounced with the red color of her lips. 

Asmodeus moves in front of her with his hand thrust towards the angel, with his pointer and pinky finger up, and a ball of fire between them. 

“It’s time we end this.”

PLLLUUUUUMMMMMEEEEEEE!!!!!

An inferno of black flames shoots from between his fingers and encompasses the Seraphim in fire. It reaches far outside the place, and melts even stone. 

When the fire ends though, the angel still stands, albeit without its feathers and half its armor burned away. The Seraphim is not long for this world, but it can attempt to take their lives with it. It opens its jaw, which is half skeleton at this point, and light pools from it. 

All the energy that would be lost in the Seraphim pools into a spear of light, with enough energy to cause several nuclear explosions, but being that it’s in the spear it won’t explode as such. 

It’ll just make whatever it hits feel like it was hit with the power of several nuclear explosions. Asmodeus in his short year and a half tenure as the Demon King of Lust, has never seen an angel commit to this suicidal activity, and underestimates it.

Asmodea does not, and when Asmodeus goes to through up a mere shield, Asmodea tries to push herself in front of him. Seeing her do that, his arm stops her. 

The spear flies, and the angel dies.

The spear moves as fast as the angel does, and another Reaver intervenes.

A purple blur flashes between Asmodeus and the spear, and the spear hits the tarot card in her hand. The Chariot absorbs the spear, and reflects it back towards the angel’s corpse, chopping off its head and flying out of the palace, far out of the city, and far into the fields, where it has lost much of its precise form. 

From miles out, this tower of light forms in the distance, and lights a few seconds before fading.

“That would have been bad, my loves,” the Reaver of Desire tells them.

Asmodeus wraps his arm around her to press her to him, and whispers in her ear, “Thank you, Zaze.”

Zazriel twists around, her purple skin shining in front of him and her violet braid whipping him in the face. It gets him pretty good since it goes as far as her bum. 

She’s a succubus like Asmodea, but like the King she prefers to keep her appendages inside unless she’s in a real battle. The fact that her purple bat wings, nub horns, and tail remain hidden, means that she has yet to meet any kind of threat.

She reminds him of a Romani nomad, though that may be the point since her magic either inspired or was inspired by fortune tellers. 

Like most things she wears it has to lack lacks sleeves. Her style of magic takes form in the tattoos that cover her arms. They go from the back of her hand to across her back all the way to the other hand. All of them except the one in the center of her chest and the center of her back are tarot cards, major and minor ones.

She takes the Chariot in her hand and places it back on her arm, where it fuses with her skin and looks like a tattoo again. When she’s done, Asmodea leans in to steal a kiss but finds her finger pressed against her lover lips. She opens her eyes in confusion, and Asmodeus laughs at her.

“Maybe she wants a kiss from me first!” the king laughs at her, but the moment he steps towards the Reaver of Desire, he feels a flick of his head.

“You two were not being careful,” Zazriel scolds them both, “what would have happened if I hadn’t been here?” 

Despite being barely older than me, she finds herself the only one more serious than not. Kind of ironic, considering Asmodea is like the five digits in age. 

“One or both of us would be hurt,” Asmodeus says with a rather nonchalant nod of his head, teasing her and garnering a mild glare.

“Or killed,” Zazriel reminds him sternly with a look in her eye that tries to make him be serious. She takes his chin in her hand, and Asmodea’s as well, pleading to them both that, “I cannot have that.”

Asmodea rolls her eyes and takes her finger to the other Reaver’s. As she moves it away, she groans, “I very much doubt you couldn’t live without us.”

Zazriel’s mouth droops open, a little taken aback by the comment, and the casualness of it. “Is something else wrong?” 

Asmodea opens one eye as she feels Zazriel staring at  her. “No,” Asmodea replies, “don’t we have other things to be doing, what were you this way anyway?”

Zazriel stares at Asmodea, wondering what she did before she answers the other Reaver’s question. Zazriel reaches behind her back and presses her hand to her tattoo of The Magician card and points it away from them. In a flash of light, a dozen succubi and incubi children appear as if they were midway through planning a game. None of them could be more than eight or nine.

Asmodeus and Asmodea blink twice at the children as the children do them, children, especially in large groups are extremely rare nowadays. There much more common in times of war or afterwards.

Zazriel presents the children to her lovers. “These are children learning at Incantorum’s Academy, the entire class was taking a tour of the castle when angels attacked. Their teacher was killed but I was there in time.” 

To put the number of children into perspective, these are all the kids in their grade at the academy, and these children come from all across the Circle of Lust. 

“Oh,” Asmodeus goes, remembering that tour coming today. It was a part of his effort to educate more of the non-highborn daemon children, considering there are so few as it is. 

He squats down to their level, looking at them as they stare at him in the middle of their card game. “Whatcha you guys playing?”

One girl says, “I’m trying to teach them go fish.”

“Good game,” he tells them.

Zazriel bends over with her hands on her lap, and tells the children, “This is your king, he’s going to keep you safe.”

Pretty quickly, the kids start looking at him in a new light. He’s not some random guy, he’s Asmodeus, and he’s going to wipe the angels out.

“Are you gonna go kill all the angels?” one kid says.

“Make them pay!” another yells.

“Why do they keep attacking us?” 

“Hey, hey, hey,” Asmodeus tries to calm them, “the most important thing is getting you guys to safety, don’t worry about the angels, I’ll take care of them.” Yeah, let’s be as vague as possible about that. 

Asmodeus looks up to Zazriel for assurance that he’s doing it right. She gives him a wide-eyed smile, screaming at him, How should I know?

She holds her card out to them again, and tells them, “You’re going to go back to the card now, next time you come out you’ll be safe.” The children more or less nod and she flashes the card at them again, sucking them all back into The Magician.

Zazriel then asks her lovers, “Where were you two going?”

“The throne room,” Asmodea tells her, “it’s where the soul harvester is, and we think he’s the root of this attack.”

“That’s where Lola is,” Zazriel whispers, her concern at surface level, not quite so reserved.

“I know,” Asmodeus says as his hand goes to her shoulder, “but Lo can certainly handle herself, and she’s with Dotor. The two them can handle even the best of Seraphim, and we’ve only seen one on this whole floor.”

Zazriel shakes her head and looks between Asmodea and Asmodeus as they grow confused by her nervous shaking. They don’t know what she does, or at least don’t remember.

“Even if you haven’t heard,” Zazriel begins to inform them, leaning in aggressively which scares them a bit, “you should know that a legion of this size can only enter one of the Circles with the power of an Archangel.

“Oh fuck,” Asmodeus growls to himself, realizing that he’s been both naive and stupid, careless even with Lolara’s life.

Archangels are his opposite, the most powerful of angels just as Orge Demons like Asmodeus and the other Demon Kings are the most powerful of daemons. Most of the Archangels are Virtue Keepers, seven to match the Seven Demon Kings, which narrows down which one has come here.  

There are a few Archangels that have nothing to do with a Virtue, but much like the few Orge Demons who have nothing to do with a Sin, they don’t hold armies. No, Asmodeus knows that if any Archangel were to come here it would be his opposite, the Archangel of Chastity.

“It has to be Uriel,” Asmodeus growls, saying the angel’s name as if it were a curse.

“Isn’t that a she now?” Asmodea asks.

“Yeah, I think so,” Asmodeus admits, “if she’s a replacement like me, she won’t be that much more experienced than me either.”

“Here’s hoping.

Only one of the original Virtue Keepers have been killed and replaced, the other six are the same original Archangels from the beginning of time. The original Uriel was killed by the original Asmodeus, the current’s predecessor. 

Now she’s probably here to settle the score.

We need to hurry,” Asmodeus declares, now growing anxious and fearful for Lolara and Dotor, his Reaver of Maturity, the only male Reaver at the moment.

His two Reavers agree, but not on who is the ‘we.’ Zazriel holds out The Magician for Asmodea to take, and tells her, “Take the children to safety, the card will know when to release them.”

What? Oh no.” Asmodea starts yelling and waving her arms in front of her, realizing that Zazriel is about to stick her with the safe job. “Don’t think for a second that I’m not coming with you, this is likely an Archangel.

“Exactly,” Asmodeus agrees, but yet doesn’t, “which is why you can’t come.”

Excuse me?” Asmodea is being offended left and right.

“You’re strong, really strong,” Asmodeus assures her, “one of the strongest daemons in this whole Circle, but that Seraphim would have killed you if he attacked you first, and an Archangel is more powerful than that.”

“Not to mention that Uriel is known for her speed and agility, you don’t have magic that can hold against that,” Zazriel adds, meaning to sound caring Asmodeus is sure, but comes off as cold.

“And you do?” the Reaver of Seduction snaps.

Asmodeus moves between his Reavers, his hand on Seduction’s shoulder, trying to convey as much love as he can when he says, “She does.” Desire is stronger than Seduction, and that hurts to hear.

Asmodea snatches the tarot card, obeying her King’s order but not enjoying it. She walks towards the hole in the wall, and looks over her shoulder, scowling at Asmodeus and Zazriel in a way they both find cute but hide it well. She leaps and flies out of the palace with her gigantic sword on her back.

“She’ll get over it?” Zazriel asks Asmodeus.

“Oh yeah, definitely,” Asmodeus assures her.

Asmodeus starts flying towards the throne room, worried for Lolara. Zazriel notices he’s gone and then flies after him. 

When she catches up she asks her love, “Do you think Asmodea thinks I don’t care for her?”

“No,” Asmodeus tells her as he actively watches their corners, “it’s just that your clearly her favorite but she’s not clearly yours.”

“You think so?!” she yells. 

“Clearly, you have a thing you like to do with each of us except Asmodea, outside of sex I mean,” he tells her.

Zazriel thinks to herself everything she likes to do with the rest of her lovers who are essentially her sister wives. She likes doing simple, thought-provoking things with Noella like watching sunsets, seeing plays, and taking trips to other Circles. 

With Lolara she loves researching history and magic in the library or visiting ruins across the Circle and Pagan ruins. 

Azale likes to watch movies, with popcorn. 

Even Dotor she helps with his paperwork just so they have time to meditate.

She doesn’t do anything with Asmodea outside of sex and Asmodea’s one-sided flirting. She trusts Asmodea above all though, Asmodeus has noticed on more than one occasion Zazriel goes to Asmodea before anyone else when she’s upset. 

Zazriel presses her hands to her cheek as she seems to realize the same thing.

“How do you do it?” she asks her King. Asmodeus turns to her, surprised by how distracted she is by it right now. All he can think about is Lolara. Sometimes it seems that Zazriel cares too much.

Asmodeus turns to her and tells her, “I do things with everyone like you, actually, I did the same things you do, before you did.” 

Zazriel was the last to join what is essentially the King’s harem, but she never felt like that lessened her importance. Now she questions that, and has many questions for her king. “What do you do for Asmodea?”

“For Asmodea? She likes the gladiatorial fights, visiting brothels, shopping with Rogue, I don’t much like it, but she does, and that’s enough.”

“Okay, I’ll ask her to do that!” Zazriel’s enthusiasm to try something he knows she won’t like confuses him.

“You could just ask her to invite you to go with her, Asmodea is literally the simplest person in the castle,” and then Asmodeus thinks to himself how strange a thought that is to say about anyone, “I think she’s the simplest person I’ve ever met.”

When they finally get to the front of the throne room, Asmodeus thinks, I have too large a palace, it took too long to get here. 

Zazriel lets all of her appendages come out now that it’s about to get serious. 

“You ready?” Asmodeus asks her.

Zazriel presses her fingers to her chest, where a tattoo of a yellow gem lights up in the center of her chest. When she triggers it, a bronze plated armor starts to pop out, resembling a twisted gothic knight, with sharp edges and pointed tips, the only part of her body left uncovered being her face before a helmet settles around it. 

This is the armor of ancients, one that’s summoned through one of her most powerful tarot card. It’s so powerful that it must always be connected to her, it can’t maintain its form in a tarot card once removed from her skin.    

To answer her King’s question she answers, “Always.”

They push open the door, but they are not ready. 

They open the door, it’s the scene of a slaughter. Angels have flooded the room, and stand over the bodies of their friends and loved ones.

Daemon servants line the floor, and against a table lays the Reaver of Maturity, Dotor, Asmodeus’s right hand and dear friend, dead. 

His kitana lays down at his side, his eyes wide open, and an angel’s sword in his chest. Zazriel sees the angel standing over him, and sees red.

She dashes towards this angel, ignoring the other angels in the place to avenge the blue incubus.

Not with a sword but the point of her fingertips, she slices the angel at the neck and finds herself in the middle of several more. These angels surround her, and it takes a glance to count their numbers to be at five. 

The Reaver of Desire leaps to the first and knees him in the face, caving in his head. Two try to attack her on both sides but she plunges her armored fingers through their weapons, shattering them before plunging those same digits into their necks. 

She tears out their throats, and turns to the next.

The fourth decides against attacking and tries to defend herself with her spear, but instead finds herself weaponless. The Reaver kicks the spear and her foot knocks it loose. Zazriel dashes to catch and then slices the angel across the neck with it. 

The last one has thick gauntlets as weapons, and he will be the next victim of Desire’s fury. Zazriel is far too fast for the angel, and punches the angel in the bicep before he can swing. 

Then she punches him in the throat, the ribs and the other bicep. She stabs her fingers into his chest a dozen times before her fist slams down onto the angel’s head, knocking him straight to the ground. She then flies down, slams her fist through his head, smashing it into bloody pieces.

The second she’s finished them all there’s a crackle lightning in the air, and the instincts that wouldn’t have saved Seduction barely save Desire. Zazriel dodges backwards, dodging the lightning covered gladius that strikes the ground. Her speed is great, but not great enough to avoid the godly lightning of an Archangel. 

The lightning splashes everywhere, flying to strike Zazriel. Her armor will protect her, but it would have hurt like a bitch if Asmodeus hadn’t enveloped her in his arms, and blocked the blow with his back. 

The light magic that fuels the white lightning leaves an intense burn on his skin. It burns right through his sorceries and enchantments to leave black burn marks on him.

Asmodeus,” Zazriel gasps, realizing her rage has led to another of her beloveds getting hurt.

He holds his hand up to her, the pain of the burn ready to enrage him much like Dotor’s corpse did her. But not only that, while she saw Dotor first, he saw the Archangel.

The chandelier that once hung high above his throne is crashed to the ground, with a powerful and bright Archangel, light glowing from behind her large and majestic wings. 

She casts a shadow that slowly fades as the light settles on her golden braid, the silver breastplate with flame embroidery and black leather leggings. On her bare arms she shows her scars and her fire tattoos that move and shimmer like actual flames.

What enrages Asmodeus is not the way she’s destroyed his throne room, attacked his palace, and harmed his love. If it were only Dotor he would be almost as angry, but he feels as if he could raze planet over who the Archangel holds her hand.

By her long, true black hair, the Archangel holds Lolara, hanging.

Beaten bloody, and bleeding from a hole in her chest. When she was alive, she was Lolara Le Fay,a  powerful witch, Asmodeus’s childhood friend from before he was the Demon King and when he was alone. 

And now she’s a corpse in this fucking Archangel’s hand.

“So your Asmodeus,” Uriel says with a twist of her head.

Asmodeus lets go of the tearfilled Zazriel to stand to his feet. He looks up at Uriel with her two Seraphim on both sides and responds, “Uriel.”

“Here’s your whore,” Uriel says as she tosses Lolara’s corpse towards him. He mouths a mere levitation spell and flames catch Lolara and moves her slowly to his arms. Uriel doesn’t move, and neither do her Seraphim, but nothing scares Asmodeus more as he waits for her to be in his hands.

When she’s in his arms, the world stops, and it’s real. His love his dead. 

He kneels down so he can hold her head in his hands. It feels like forever until Zazriel comes and takes Lolara into her lap, the succubus’s tears dripping onto the witch’s face. 

He lets Zazriel hold Lolara so he can stand to his feet and stand up to the Archangel.

This is when he finally notices the green bearded incubus in the hands of her Seraphim. He can only assume him to be the soul harvester that caused all of this. Uriel holds her hand out to her Seraphim and takes the back of the incubus’s head in her hand.

“This,” she says to Asmodeus, showing the incubus off like he were a merely broken tool, “is the scum that brought all of this onto your house, scum you allowed, of course,” and Uriel holds him out in front of her.

BRIKT!

She sticks her hand through the incubus, spraying blood across the room, across Asmodeus’s face, and then she pulls out his spine, letting the body flop to the ground. 

She turns to her other Seraphim and he gives her a glowing blue orb, with a yellow string swirling in the middle of it. She holds it in her hands, and holds it away from her face to show it off. “This, is a harvested soul, and an especially rare and valuable one at that, it’s one of a truly virtuous mortal.”

The Seraphim tells Asmodeus, “They’re hard to come by with your kind above ground.”

Uriel turns her head towards him, and when he meets her eyes he retreats back and hangs his head. “My apologies, my lady.” 

Uriel turns back to Asmodeus, with these intense pulsating gold eyes. She raises her eyebrow at him, as if there’s some mutual respect for dealing with incompetent underlings. Asmodeus has never known such a thing, but he raises his eyebrows back at her.

“Did you know that the scum you’ve allowed into your palace,” she says with a glance to the dead incubus, “was planning to give you this as a gift, to convince you to fund more soul harvests?”

Asmodeus tries his best to restrain the hate in him. “No, I did not,” he answers, his calm voice not betraying the urge to kill her.

“Interesting,” Uriel answers, “well, you see this poor soul was harvested long ago, I couldn’t restore it if I tried, so we’re going to put you to a test.” Asmodeus’s eyes narrow on the idea of this angel testing him. “With this virtuous soul you can revive someone recently dead or well preserved,” and Asmodeus’s eyes flash. Now he realizes the purpose of killing the soul harvester, Dotor, and his Lolara. 

She opens her hand and the orb that contains the soul of a good person seems to scream. Uriel continues to taunt Asmodeus with the possibilities as it floats to him. “I want to know what kind of selfish daemon you are, will you save your whore to fill with your seed once again, will you raise your loyal servant so you can further your plans of sin, or will you revive the soul harvester to rival the richest greenlands of Greed.” 

She shrugs her shoulders at him, “Your choice.”

With the soul in front of him, he hears that he can save anyone one of the dead souls around him, but that’s not what he wants. He looks up at Uriel, hi shands beginning to tremble. He asks her, “This soul can only bring back one other?”

Uriel’s face actually scrunches in confusion. She can’t imagine what he could possibly be planning to try, but she answers honestly. “That soul has the power to revive hundreds, many thousands, no one’s ever been sure, no one’s ever been able to release all the power it contains.”

“Good to know,” he says, and a smirk grows on his lips. 

Without the soul floating before him, he turns his eyes towards Dotor, his trusted Reaver of Maturity laying as dead as everyone else. With a flick of his finger the blue incubus starts to levitate in his leather cuirass, minus the shoulder pads. As his body levitates to his king, Asmodeus whispers, “I would never forget you my friend.” 

Asmodeus steps out of the way and rests Dotor next to Lolara, in case this backfires, he can save at least one of them. 

Asmodeus raises the orb over his head, drawing the confusion of the angels. One of the Seraphim asks Uriel, “What is he doing, my lady?” 

“Shut up,” Uriel snaps at him, enthralled as she watches the Demon King of Lust make her look like a stuck up fool.

Asmodeus holds his hands over his head with the virtuous soul between them, and with rage filled yell, he unleashes his True Asmodeus form. 

Volcanic rock forms into a breastplate that looks more like a thick second skin, with lava flowing between his joints as if they were veins. His shoulders grow spikes of the same rock and tall greaves fit for stomping skulls. Over his head is this demonic version of a knight’s helmet, with three spikes sprouting from points of his head. Then where his eyes and face should be visible, there only lies magma.

His hands squeeze into the Virtuous soul, aiming to crush it with all of his might. All the power a Demon King can muster, the strength to move planets and shatters stars now causes the Circle of Lust to shake. He won’t settle for saving only one soul, he’ll save the lives all the daemons in this room, and all the ones lost in this castle if he can.

The way the Circle of Lust shakes causes everyone to panic, including Uriel. 

Just by the look on her face, he can tell, never did she expect a daemon, let alone a Demon King, to attempt something so dangerous, stupid, and selfless, just to save the lives of other daemons. She can’t fathom the idea, that as every bone in his body must be on fire, he’s doing it because he’s selfless. 

Not even when he causes the soul to burst, beyond all expectations.

The soul bursts into a thousand lights that go into every dead body in the room, and spreads out across the palace. The home of the Demon King is filled with small lights seeking out a dead soul to bring back from the Underworld. 

All the bodies touched by the light glow blue through their eyes and mouth, and as Asmodeus desires, they begin to breath. Each of the daemons take a breath as light glows from their throats, one after the other, starting with Dotor, and ending with Lolara.

The witch draws another breath and her arms go to her chest where there is no longer a hole. She finds Zazriel holding her hands just as fast her pale skin gains back its color. 

Dotor looks like he’s been saved from drowning as he sits up with his hand to his throat, and claws for the wound in his chest, but its not there. All the daemons in the room experience the same thing as the rest do across the palace.

Asmodeus sees his beloved Lolara and she looks up at him and his fearsome form, his True Asmodeus form. He takes one step towards her and his arm cracks and falls apart. He falls to his knee, nearly keeling over, lacking the strength to stand. 

Bursting the Virtuous soul was the hardest physical feat he’s ever taken. He almost gave up, almost.

She sees how exhausted he is, the sweat pouring down his face, and reaches her hand out to stroke his cheek. “You did this?” she asks, nearly out of breath herself. Resurrection is tiring. 

Uriel’s Seraphim lean into her side, and one tells her, “Strike him down now, while he’s weakened, another chance will not come again.” She raises her finger to his face, and pushes him away. He’s right, she won’t, but after such a selfless display, the idea of killing him now seems like poison. How can she kill him now?

Dotor pushes himself so his feet, and Asmodeus reaches out to grab his Reaver of Maturity, but his hand slides down, too weak to do anything. Dotor stands, and limps around to guard his king’s back. He holds his hand out and his katana flies to his hand, and he stands ready. 

With all these daemons now waking up in each other’s arms, Uriel appears overwhelmed, her eyes flurrying between them. She could kill them all, right now, slaughter them again in seconds, but that would piss in the face of Virtue.

“We’re leaving,” she announces, and there is no discussion. 

She summons her sword to her hand and raises it to the sky. Light shines on her and on all the angels still in the palace, just before they are sucked into the light.

Dotor collapses to his knees and his sword clangs against the ground. He leans over onto his hands, and lets himself breath, feel that he’s alive again. 

Asmodeus looks over his shoulder to the Reaver of Maturity. “Thank you, my friend.”

Dotor looks over his shoulder, with his deep blue eyes, and tells Asmodeus, “No, thank you.

Asmodeus turns around grinning. It’s hard for him not to love this man. 

“Maturity,” Asmodeus calls as he takes Lolara’s hand in his, and caresses her cheek in his other.

Dotor sits back up and picks up his blade. “My liege?”

“As soon as your able,” Asmodeus commands, “send word to the other Circles, I must convene with the other Demon Kings.”

“My liege,” Dotor repeats for his attention. Asmodeus turns away from Lolara, still holding her hand. “The Demon King of Greed had called to convene before Uriel’s attack, and so did the Demon Queen of Pride, and the King of Wrath, and all the rest.” 

Asmodeus sighs. 

“They were all attacked.”

“Yes.”

Fuck.

The soul harvester sits up, looking at his spine on the floor where Uriel dropped it after she took it out. He sees his spine outside of his body, and moans, “I don’t like this.”

“Will somebody please lock him up?!” Asmodeus yells.

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