The House of Asmodeus: A Trial by Fire Chapter 3

“But who prays for Satan? Who in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most?” – Mark Twain

SEVERAL YEARS AGO

“You must be patient, Clayton, you will never catch anything if you don’t let the pole sit still,” said the boy’s father. As the powerless child, Clayton was made to once again practice the act of fishing, a pastime that which a 6 year-old boy wouldn’t appreciate. But breeding appreciation was not the lesson his father was trying to instill. 

“I don’t wanna,” Clayton muttered very quietly, yet his father still somehow heard it. 

“This isn’t about what you want to do, but doing what someone else wants.” His father for some reason was consistently trying to give his young son lessons about life in ways unnecessarily different from other parents. 

Clayton’s father believed his son to be capable of greater things than other children, like any father. Though unlike most, he thought that the lessons must be greater to meet his son’s capabilities. 

“Son, if you do not try then all of this work is for nothing.” The boy simply turned his head away. “Clayton, what’s the point in learning if we’re not going to remember the lesson?”

The young boy could do nothing but stare off in search for the answer to his father’s question. Clayton’s father simply shook his head with doubt and proceeded to turn and leave the dock where he and his son had been sitting. Clayton watched his father leave, knowing the disappointment that his father must feel in him. 

Why does he care about these fish? Clayton pondered this question as hard as his mind could. Clayton knew what would happen to the fish if he caught it, he knew that it would die, painfully.

Such a fate would not be on the boy’s hands, hence why he let several fish eat his bait. Clayton was perfectly aware of several instances of when he could reel in the pool and capture a fish, but he purposely chose not to because he felt it wrong. 

Somehow it felt worse to have disappointed his father yet again. Within a few minutes Clayton felt the tug of a fish on his line and did not hesitate to reel it in. He captured it, it was his.

Off in the trees unbeknownst to Clayton was his father, watching his son swallow his purity to do what was necessary. Though Clayton did not know it, his father in that moment felt nothing for his son, but the sin of Pride.

*****

It was strange for Clayton to ever dream of his deceased father, or anytime before he became a daemon. That’s what bothered him as he walked through the portal, followed by each member of his Guard, all six of his Reavers, his wife, and consort Lolara, who’s a bonafide Reaver at this point.

The other six Demon Kings had assembled in the Circle of Wrath, and while he would have enjoyed seeing the land for himself, he shouldn’t keep them waiting. I’m already late. 

They teleported to the meeting place to waste no time after he finished recovering. He was healed by Noella performing the Chorus Libidinal upon him.

His Reavers surround him, looking around and talking to each other, while he stands there nervous for the future. I’ve been the Demon King of Lust for barely over a year, and I’ll be on my second war. Great way to meet the other Demon Kings. 

One of the two other Demon Kings he’s met was his mother-in-law, the Queen of Pride. She was an interesting character indeed, now he has to imagine the others who he only knows through reputation.

The other was the Demon King of Wrath, and that was after the other King challenged Asmodeus to contest of strength and wits. Asmodeus barely won. Now that Asmodeus thinks of it, Satan still owes me a Reaver.

Lolara, her arm in a cast, and still riddled with bandages, has recovered quite well in her own regard, having received the Chorus Libidinal from Asmodea. She’s dressed her part which she likes to play up well. 

Being a human witch who lives in the Circles of Sin without having died first makes her a valuable commodity to a soul harvester. Her soul can only become more infused by the magic here, and souls are what daemons try to reap, criminals anyway. 

So wearing the crest of Asmodeus threaded into her dress, just under her collar bone works both to her fashion and her safety. 

As the others try to plan their trip and prepare, Lolara notices her old friend. He’s not surprised she can tell when he’s getting butterflies in his stomach. 

She walks to stand beside him, and plants her good hand on her hip. He glances to her as she’s looking up at him, this knowing smile that fits perfectly on her face. 

“You’re doing it again,” she tells him.

Despite his nerves, he still smirks. “And what am I doing?” he asks her, his eyes glued to the signs of life with every moving muscle.

“Overthinking it, doubting yourself, forgetting that you’re king,” she tells him. 

She steps in close to him. She inspects his dress shirt, his usual light red dress shirt and black pants, and notices his collar a bit out of place. As she starts fixing it for him, she asks, “Do you know what kings have to do?”

He looks down at her smiling, admiring all the facets of her face. “What?”

She leans up, his lips feeling her breath as she tells him, “Nothing.” 

He rolls his eyes as she starts giggling. Even as she giggles, she tells him, “This isn’t like any human country, you have advisors who handle finances, commerce, social justice, etcetera, all you technically have to do is be a walking conduit of power, and as a conduit of power, there’s nothing they can do in there to intimidate you.”

“You think so?” he asks her, but not as a joke. His eyes seek out that same old friend who always tells him how it is.

She sees that he’s searching for her advice, and she gives it in one word. “Yes.” 

That’s all he really needs.

She finishes fixing his collar, and stands on her toes to kiss him. 

“Now stop being a little nerd and get in there,” she tells him.

“Nerd?” 

“Yes, you know, shy, oblivious, full of useless knowledge, you think you hide pretty well, but you’ll always be the one who volunteered to be a medic in WOW,” Lolara teases him.

“We needed a medic,” he reminds.

“And you did your part well.

As she pulls away, laughing at his embarrassed face, Asmodea wraps her arms around his back, and tells them both, “You need new glasses if you think Clay Clay looks like a nerd,” and she then she plants a loving kiss on his cheek. 

Azale walks up to them to hug Lolara, and rest her head on the witch’s shoulder. “He was a really big nerd when the angels had me spy on him,” she agrees with Lolara, but also tells Lolara, “but then again, so are you.”

Noella walks over with her hands on the hips of her white glimmering dress to add that, “What are we talking about?” and takes Asmodeus’s arm.

“Whether or not I’m a nerd.”

“Who cares,” Noella says with a roll of her eyes.

“What’s wrong with nerds?” Zazriel asks her, and walks over to rest her chin on Asmodeus’s other shoulder. “What are nerds even? I could be a nerd, give me your glasses.”

Lolara keeps her glasses as she tells Zazriel, “You’d be too powerful if I gave you my nerd glasses.”

“See, you know what you are,” Azale jokes.

As they keep talking, the Reaver of Maturity walks to the ladies and starts shooing them away, “He is already late, it is time for him to go.”

“As annoying as he is,” Asmodea groans, removing her hands from her love, “he’s not wrong, you should go, and don’t let Noey’s mom scare you.” She steals a long kiss from him. 

Zazriel shakes her head after Asmodea lets his lips go, only to plant a kiss on his lips in turn, “Good luck.”

Noella quickly kisses him goodbye, rushing to give him some advice. “Jokes aside, you should lean on my mother, right now, you’re the only one of the other Demon Kings she likes, at all.

“Thank you, I’ll do that,” he tells her.

When she turns away, and Azale hurries to kiss him on the lips, “Good luck!” 

“Thank you, Az,” he tells her, her nickname making her smile in turn, and she moves back to stand besides Noella.

And then he’s left besides Lolara. They share a knowing look between the two of them. “Still a nerd,” she tells him.

“Jesus Christ,” he laughs under his breath. “Thank you.”

She steps to him and he moves to her so she can kiss him on the cheek. “Anytime,” she tells him, and then she turns to walk the opposite way down the hallway. To embarrass Asmodeus, she raises her fist and yells to them, “Harem squad, move out!”

Asmodeus shakes his head and groans. He has, and always will hate when she says that. Harem’s are for anime protagonists and crazy sultans. 

But now it’s just Asmodeus, him and him alone. No one to delay him or encourage him anymore, so he thinks about what Lolara said. 

I’m a king, and kings don’t fear anyone but God, but then again, I’m one of those too.

Asmodeus walks forward with spry in his step.

He walks to the doors and pushes them open, and he’s greeted to a much smaller, and more intimate room than he was expecting. After one step he feels like he just walking through a million cobwebs, each one a different one crafted by the best sorcerer Wrath could buy to make this room soundproof and secure. They did such a good job that Asmodeus felt at least half of his own personal protections leave him.

That would be why the room is so small, to have so many concise spells around it. No one could ever hear what was being said, or see what was being done, without being in this room. 

It holds only a round silver table, with obsidian edges. Asmodeus gets a sense at much he has to trust all the sinful bastards in the room.

He finds his empty seat and apologizes to them, “Sorry, I’m late, an angel broke into my house.”

“Tell me about it,” Leviathan agrees.

Now that he was seated Asmodeus took a quick headcount of the circular and enclosed room. 

To his immediate right was the current Beelzebub, the Demon King of Gluttony, tall and solid for a black demon who was known for his capacity to consume. He was shockingly pale  for the same reason. At least the greenish tint to his skin went along better with the white wings and tail than one would have thought. Like nisrochs, the mortal daemons that populate the Circle of Gluttony, his horns were thin little spikes, thinner than a finger. His horns practically blend into his brown hair. 

Asmodeus notices a food stain on the pocket of his vest, wondering, What he was eating?

Next to him is Belphegor, the Demon King of Sloth, reading his human book, seeming as uninterested in the others around him, Just as I had heard. He doesn’t look like how Asmodeus expected though. He’s skinny, lean, and older looking with his pointy face. He’s definitely the oldest one here, and it all goes with his bald head and hairless chin. It lets everyone see his black horns that point forward from his temple, much like the Sloth drudes. He keeps his black wings to himself, likely trying to be as comfortable as possible in his yellow robe.

Then there’s the Demon King of Envy, Leviathan who sits with a face of frustration as he tries to pat down his greasy looking brown hair that does not look good with his gray color. As a white demon with white wings and a tail, they at least go with his grey skin, but then these bumps on the temple of his forehead look like welts in place of horns. Lemures and spectras of Envy have always seemed rather unattractive, and the same could be said for their fashion. with a tan armor set whose metal has been melded to look like slime or mud. Hopefully there’s a tactical advantage to it, otherwise why wear something so ugly.

In the middle of them was Mammon, the Demon King of Greed, and a large king at that. The black demon was rocking a tight red suit that captured the large frame it was holding. The red of the suit brings out Mammon’s goldish tint to his caucasian skin, and the two sets of two horns in each temple align him with the goblins of Greed.

Then came Asmodeus’s own mother-in-law, Lucifina, the Demon Queen of Pride. Her tight black dress and flowing white hair let him see the similarities between her and her daughter. Lucifina isn’t as regal with her hair let down and flowing, but modern instead. Unlike her daughter, she lacks horns like the serpents of pride do.

Asmodeus’s predecessor was close allies with the Demon Queen, so much so that he had secured an arranged marriage between her daughter and the current Asmodeus before he joined the void. Lucifina was the only one to smile at Asmodeus as she waved to him with a tight smile. It always feels like she’s ready to eat me alive.

The chiseled and intimidating Demon King of Wrath, Satan, was still somewhat angry over his loss to the youngest Demon King from months ago. The duel that was his own idea, which I’m sure stings, not to mention the angels so he’s mad about everything I’m sure. A black demon with the ribbed horns of fury going over his buzz cut. He leaves his arms open to bare his scars from battle, and see the muscles this large man has. With a pale red skin tone, his angry demeanor always looks like he’s at the point of rage.

Mammon, while not the caller of this meeting, starts the discussion, “With no more interruptions, it is time for us to come together to decide how we or going to handle the angels’ attacks on us and soul harvesters.”

“War, obviously,” Satan quickly huffed, true to his sin.

“The capturing of souls was made illegal to all daemons after we lost the last war, in case you forgot,” Lucifina points out, squeezing something in her fist, “but that doesn’t mean those feathered narcissists have any right to come into our territories and punish our criminals for us.” 

“We should retaliate in kind,” Satan says. 

Satan is probably going to be a one-track mind during this conversation, I can already tell.

Mammon counters, “Is it really in our best interests to fight another war with the angels? We haven’t won a single one against them in the past.” 

For now, Asmodeus stays quiet, and does his best to pay attention. It makes sense that Lucifina and Satan would lean towards violence. It was her pride that was insulted, and his nature to warn. Mammon sits on the opposite side. It would cost a lot of money and resources from any kingdom to fight a war. Even if Greed usually likes spending what he has to get more, what can we truly get from this war?

But that doesn’t mean his point was any less valid, Asmodeus reminds himself. The daemons and angels have fought several wars in the past, from what I know. The daemons were always the aggressor and the loser. 

Any Demon King in this room would be wise to think about peace, because its our heads on the chopping block when we lost again.

Asmodeus finally speaks up, “Try not to think me naive, but if we try for peace… I honestly don’t see any other option except stomping down hard on soul harvesting. Mammon, correct me if I’m wrong, but the economies of our Circles will survive if we attempt to eradicate this trade?” This question made the King of Greed immediately make a face of discontent, obviously not wanting give up the massive profits he must be taking from the trade.

“Well…” Mammon is slow to answer and quick to shrug.

Lucifina mutters under her breath, “Is that your witch speaking?” 

Asmodeus’s eyes flash towards Lucifina. The insinuation may have been quiet but it was clear. She’s going to undermine me if I take the lead, and now it’s clear to everyone I have a vested interest in squashing soul harvesting.

“We have never bowed before the angels before and we won’t do it now!” Leviathan shouts out to join the discussion, breaking Asmodeus’s concentration. “We should show them something that will make them pause before they ever think to step foot our Circles ever again.

“I second such a motion,” Satan says.

Asmodeus thinks to himself, I have to say fast before Wrath and Envy convince everyone else of war, but my best bet is getting it to come from Lucifina. She’ll undercut me otherwise, she wants the credit.

What do I say?

 “Let us not forget that while quite a few Demon Kings have fallen in past wars,” Belphegor points out, surprising Asmodeus, “but only one Archangel has ever been slain, and also let us not forget that none of us were the one to kill that Archangel.” 

Asmodeus’s hopes rise until Belphegor puts him in the seat.

“It was the previous Lord of Lust, who is no longer here to fight, so no one here has had any success.” 

Asmodeus grumbles, keeping quiet. I see that they want to keep me out of the conversation. I think Asmodea would call it… the curse of youth? 

“I mean no offense to the inexperienced young Asmodeus,” he says, but Belphegor most certainly meant to offend.

“No offense taken,” Asmodeus replies. Yeah, this feels like a curse.

“Do not doubt my power, Sloth,” Leviathan says with venom.

“My wrath could take any of those damn Archangels!” Satan yells, his fist raised.

“Cull your pride, Satan, such a sin doesn’t look so good on you,” Lucifina insults. Everyone but Gluttony seems to be pitching in at once.

“Do not mock me Princess…” Satan somehow thought that threatening Lucifina was a good idea.

“Or what? Do you want to start another duel? You’d just make a fool out of yourself again.”

Prepare your next words very carefully,” he threatens her. Lucifina has really gotten under Satan’s skin, and his threat shows with the smoke coming from his nose. 

Gluttony finally joined to try and calm the brewing feud. “Please let us stay calm, we mustn’t-”

“Don’t bother, Beelzebub.” Belphegor seems to have fallen into the pit that is this gathering. “Don’t expect any of the children here to listen to you.”

“Why you-!”

Bang!

“Enough!” Asmodeus slams his fist down hard on the table. His rage at his fellow Orge daemons’ has caused black fire to seep out of his eyes. “I will not stand by as you immature harpies flaunt your egos and instigate the deaths of my people! We must appeal to the angels-”

“We need not do any such thing!” Leviathan yells.

“We will lose another war just as we have every other one before!” Asmodeus immediately shuts him down. “Take your head out of your ass and see that. The odds have never been in our favor, and if you are too foolish to recognize that you are not fit to lead any daemon to battle.” Asmodeus could very easily have caused a violent outbreak to happen among these seven godly beings, but that’s a risk he has taken. 

“I will ask one more time, Mammon, can the economies of our Circles survive without the illegal capture of mortal souls?”

This causes the King of Greed to pause and take a gulp of his own saliva, as if he didn’t know the answer by heart. Asmodeus could tell by the way he rights a collar that was already perfect that the idea it went completely against the sin he embodied. “Our circles, should be… fine.” 

With that admittance Asmodeus quickly pitches his idea much to Mammon’s quiet and private dismay.

“We must communicate to the Archangels’ that we will impose stricter rules so that they do not feel the need to come into our Circles. I have held a conversation with the Archangel of Humility before. Michael is no warmonger, nor does he disdain communication. If one of us were to go to the mortal world and wait for his arrival, we could certainly try to convince him of our unity on this matter.” Leviathan opens his mouth to speak, but quickly shuts it.

“The angels will certainly question our commitment after promises made in the last war,” Belphegor says, but none look to him. “Lone daemons still consistently and illegally leave the Circles to go the mortal worlds for souls. To counteract such a claim, I would suggest that you bring captured angels with you.” 

Then all of the other Demon Kings turn their heads towards Belphegor at that sentence.

Well, that has everyone’s attention.

“Angels have come to my Circle in the past on lone wolf missions to kill as many daemons as they can, dressing in hoods and wing coverings and such, trying terrorize people, I’m sure you’ve all dealt with the same.”

“Maybe I should have paid more attention to reports,” Lucifina mutters.” 

Maybe,” Belphegor taunts her before continuing. “I have kept some alive to use as leverage at some point. Their presence would make the angels look like hypocrites for questioning our commitment and control over Hell.” 

Asmodeus makes a mental note not to doubt the King of Sloth. He obviously has his own contingencies that would make Asmodeus’s head spin. 

“We could even offer their freedom as sign of cooperation.” Beelzebub’s only important contribution to this discussion. 

“Of course, we would have to free the captured angels,” Lucifina snipes at him, “you think the Archangel would let one of us take them back to a cell?” 

Gluttony slinks down in his chair.

Mammon, having finally accepted a loss in his profits, and asks the most important aspect of this plan. “Which of us would have the highest chance of success of even gaining a peaceful audience with Michael?” The answer is quite obvious to everyone who the only two choices could be.

The following vote was 4 in favor of sending Asmodeus, Asmodeus voting to send Belphegor, and Satan and Leviathan immaturely refusing to vote. It was decided.

“It is your idea, handsome,” Lucifina says to try and console the understandably reluctant King of Lust.

“I know….” Asmodeus sighs. “Fuck me.”  

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