The House of Asmodeus: A Trial by Fire Chapter 15

“And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” – Jude 1:6

A’rock carries his dear friend Seraras through the walls of their home, which is that of an old abandoned palace. One that used to belong to the old Pagan God, Pluto. A location which is embedded into a mountain in the middle of a desert, Pluto’s home away from his section of the Underworld. It’s a highly unlikely place for angels or daemons to pass through. 

“That angel got you real good,” A’rock teases him. A’rock likes to pick on his friend. Seraras is going to live, but maybe not all of his pride.

Hmm…” Seraras groans.

*****

Here lies the explanation to the situation, an angel only falls by being encompassed by one of the Seven Deadly Sins, and an daemon ascends by being encompassed by one of the Seven Contrary Virtues. There is a loophole though, where an angel and daemon can maintain their alignment with a Sin or Virtue that they simply will not betray.

Love, it is a feeling that does not betray either side. Those among angels and daemons both feel it. Platonic, romantic, sexual or asexual, to love one’s partner or close friend is not a feeling owned by any Sin or Virtue. 

Lust in itself does not mean that a daemon cannot love the one they are vigorously fucking. Chastity, while it does promote no sex with others, really only forbids extramarital sex. While angels of Chastity have most certainly had the hardest time remaining of Virtue, some have done it with the support and patience of their daemon partner, assuming their love is romantic or sexual at all.

So after the last war between the angels and daemons, the millions were left behind with nothing but each other. Thousands came to see themselves abandoned, no different from each other. 

Slowly but surely, those who wished to fight no more, those forgotten by the regents who made them fight, came together to find a place of their own. The originally abandoned palace of Pluto became their safe haven, where couples and companions like them, have come together to live as a community. 

Though it takes many attempts, there have been at least around a hundred successes in the last century. The pairings between angels and daemons can bear fruits that the pairings of fallen angels and daemons have never tried having, conceive children, give birth to a new subspecies.

The members of this species are called Nephilim, and they are the next step of evolution for Heaven and Hell.

*****

Under A’rock’s leadership, the Nephilim are stealing human souls by the thousands.

A’rock himself is rounding the iron and stone corridors, carrying Seraras in a fireman’s carry. Pluto palace is weirdly made of iron which one can assume was magically held up from spells he used when the god was alive. 

The angels and daemons have been laying stone over the structures for years, slowly building it back up. 

A’rock is coming in close to oldest facility, the medical center where Lelouch is head its head. 

The medical bay seems like something out of a post apocalyptic movie mixed with a mad scientist’s lab. Lelouch may be an angel of Humility, but that doesn’t keep her from handing out cruel glares. 

“Are you just going to keep waiting around like an idiot as usual, or are you going to set him down on the bed?” Lelouch points to a large T-shaped cot, designed for those with large wings. 

Lelouch moves to Seraras’s left side to inspect his wound. “Would you like to explain to me how my son got a hole in his wing?! Or would you like to, Seraras?”

“Haven’t heard, Aunty Le? Your kid took on Uriel, the Archangel herself!” The information horrifies Lelouch, and her chin shakes as she tries to hide it. A’rock goes on gloating though. “He disarmed her and had her neck in his sights, he just didn’t realize that swords could fly!” 

A’rock has no reserves on poking fun at his close friend. 

“You what?!” Lelouch explodes, unable to contain herself any longer. “I knew your soul harvesting would bring too much attention. We should have just kept to collecting them slowly. Now we have to worry about harvesting the souls by force here, and we have to worry about the angels-”

“And daemons…” Seraras mutters.

“Well, that’s just perfect,” Lelouch complains as she throws up her hands. “The daemons know now too, here take this for the pain,” she puts a pill in his mouth and a glass of water, while telling him, “your wing should be healed by the end of the week when Selena gets back to use her magic on you, but the feathers will take sometime.” 

Then she turns back to A’rock to berate his decisions some more. “The Council will be in a panic that our existence may have been revealed after all these centuries, and what were you doing while Seraras was fighting Uriel, were you fighting the King of Wrath himself, A’rock?” 

“Actually, the new King of Lust, he’s seemed to be halfway decent in sword combat, not just magic as the tales told.” Lelouch turns white, but A’rock purposely ignores the expression on her face to further complain, “and I don’t get why the Council would be upset. David will remain spineless as usual, but the others should be fine. We have enough souls to put my plan into action now, and when that happens the cat would have been out of the bag anyway.” He picks up an enclosed vial and begins to play with it, pretending to be oblivious to Lelouch’s worries.

“You fought Asmodeus, Alice’s brother?” Lelouch asks, the only thing she’s thinking about now.

“Is there any other?” A’rock asks. He doesn’t even look back at her to answer.

“You didn’t lead him on to her still being alive did you?

“No, of course not,” he lies, but the smile on his face gives it away, “well, maybe I messed with him a little, when we escaped he seem almost shell shocked.” A’rock fails to hide his shit-eating grin.

“Oh dear, oh god, this isn’t going to go well with her.”

Both are surprised by the two who enter with armed escorts.

“Going to go well with who?” Unbeknownst to Lelouch, though not A’rock, a mortal, human woman walks in, side by side with a young girl. 

“Speak of the devil…” Lelouch says as she turns away, trying to hide her own face, but A’rock doesn’t hide.

“No one important, Alice,” A’rock tells her.

The long-lost sister that pains Asmodeus resembles him, with her same dark shade of skin and dark brown hair. 

She’s seen better days, her hair appearing brittle and her lips dry as she can be seen to be paying less attention to herself. Her eyes are weary and her cheeks have grown this hollow look.

The young girl with her is a ball of sunshine though.

“Hey, Dad!” The young girl shares her mother’s facial features and skin, but has her father’s black, straight hair.

“Come up here, Laya.” A’rock leans down to pick his daughter up and set the girl to rest on his large shoulder. The girl at 14 years old, isn’t small for her age, her father’s shoulder is just big enough to carry her. 

“You’re too old to be riding your father’s shoulder,” Alice tells Laya.
Laya makes mousey hands gestures as she imitates her mother, “You’re too big… I don’t want to walk if I don’t have to.”

“Princess of the world from up there,” A’rock tells her.

“Exactly,” Laya agrees and puts on a fake-regal accent, “I can look down upon all of my subjects from afar… kind of need to, I’m not getting much taller.”

“You’re lucky these rooms and hallways are tall to accommodate Roman Gods,” Alice mutters, looking up at Laya from down below.

“Probably right about that,” A’rock mumbles, putting barely any thought into Alice’s presence. Instead, he looks up at Laya to ask, “Now what is my princess doing down here?”

“I had to come see you, I heard that Uncle Sera was hurt!” Laya turns on his shoulder to see her Uncle. Not really her uncle, but it’s all the same to her. She eventually sees the hole in his wing and gasps. “What happened to his wing?!”

Seraras quickly reassures her he is fine, “Shh, it’s fine, child, I’ll be fine, just got beat up on a mission… don’t… talk so loud.”

“I thought you were as tough as Dad,” Laya pokes fun. The two make fun of each other when they could. 

“The other guy probably just got lucky,” Alice interjects, “let’s come down Laya and at least appear to act your age.” Alice went to reach for her daughter from A’rock’s shoulder but he just turns to shove her away with his other shoulder.

“She’s fine where she is.” His tone is cold, as it has been towards her lately.  

Alice pulls her hands back. “Alright, but what were you two talking about earlier?” she tries to ask him as Laya’s distracted with her Uncle.

“None of your concern,” A’rock whispers coolly.

Lelouch wishes to remove the now ever present tension from hindering her son’s recovery. “Maybe the three of you could go for a walk. Seraras needs to rest right now.” Seraras gives his mother a knowing look. “And A’rock should prepare his speech to the Council, they’re going to want to hear about your run in while you were hunting.” 

Alice frowns, confused. “Why what happened?”

“Nothing you need to concern yourself with.” 

Lelouch glares at him as he refuses to tell Alice the truth of what happened, yet, she does not say anything herself.

Their daemons had made runs to the Circles now and then for supplies, and once the civil war in the Circle of Lust was over, one succeeded in bringing back a picture of the new King of Lust. Alice had instantly recognized her younger brother, and guards were watching her every move since to make sure she didn’t try to make contact with him.

“Can we go walk around? Old Ticket has been forcing me to read old history books again,” Laya complains, hiding little of her annoyance with her lessons. She claims that, “I’d rather read some that doesn’t have some hidden meaning or didn’t actually happen, something actually entertaining.” 

“You say that as if you read the quote-on-quote, ‘fun’ books you do have,” A’rock tells her.

Laya gives adds a quiver to her lip and clasps her hands to just go completely overboard with begging her father.

“Ah, well, why not, Seraras isn’t going anywhere,” A’rock jabs one more time, “let’s go, just the two of us.” 

“Ok!” His daughter hadn’t realized his exclusion of of her mother, or maybe thought he meant something else. A’rock just takes Laya down the hall on his shoulder as he asks her about her day. 

Alice trails behind, as always nowadays, careful not to intrude to avoid A’rock verbally lashing out at her later. 

She whispers to herself, and A’rock’s ear stands still until she finishes, “I will find a way to take her away with me, I will never leave Laya behind with you.” 

*****

“This red sky, the dead land, the dead trees, dead leaves, dead, everything, but full of sand and rocks. You would think it would have grown on me but nope, nothing grows here,” Alice remarks. 

How could such an ugly place ever compare to the Earth I had left behind? A’rock, Alice, and their daughter Laya were looking out over one of the old palace’s many terraces, built outside of the mountain. 

Laya quietly adds, “I’ve always thought the red was a nice color.” This palace is the only place she’s ever known in all 14 of her years, she found it desirable without anything to compare it too.

“I’ve liked the red too,” A’rock agrees, “but once you see the blue sky of a human world… even I have to admit that it’s much prettier.” Alice’s head snaps to A’rock as he’s looking away, surprised to hear that he would agree with her on anything.

“Why can you never take me with you to the human worlds?” Laya asks her father. “You two keep talking about how beautiful it is up there but it’s really annoying to have never seen it.”

“It’s too dangerous, just look what happened to Seraras,” Alice reminds her. “He’s one of our best warriors, but the angels and daemons who live in Heaven and Hell don’t like sharing.” Now it was A’rock’s turn to stare at Alice, surprised that she said something so agreeable. Sometimes they forget how much they used to get along.   

“Your father and I agree on this, it’s too dangerous for you to ever go there,” Alice tells her daughter sternly.

“Well, I don’t know about never ever,” A’rock winks at the Laya, causing the girl to smile. “One day the bad angels and daemons won’t keep us away, and we’ll have a place to share.” 

Laya smiles, but she doesn’t get giddy. If she were younger, she would believe him, but even she can’t believe everything he says anymore, Alice thinks to herself.

Seraras opens the door onto the terrace to join them.

“Shouldn’t you be resting?” A’rock muses. 

“Hmmm, eh, my mother would have me in there too long. If I just suck in my wings they should be just fine for me to walk around with. How’s my favorite brat?” Seraras moves to stick Laya in her sides with his fingers.

“Ow! I hate that!” Laya goes to get him back, but he keeps pushing her hands away. 

“Not today.” He keeps this up with her for some time, prompting a grin from A’rock, but not from Alice. Ever since that time she tried to escape… she’ll never forget how Seraras terrified her those years ago.

Eventually, Laya cedes defeat and crosses her arms to face away from him.

“You know I hate that.” She makes an angry face, but she isn’t really mad, more so annoyed with her uncle’s games.

“I do know that, which makes it ever more fun,” Seraras says with a smile, “but I did come here for a reason.”

A’rock scrunches his eyebrow. “I thought so, what do you want, silver fox?”

Seraras arches his brow at yet another nickname his friend calls him. “Way too young to be a silver fox, but jokes aside, A’rock,” Seraras answers, “after I disclosed what happened on our raid, the Council decided that they need to speak with you. They’re freaking out about angels and daemons know about us now.” 

Alice noticed the change in Seraras’s demeanor from warm to cold as if it was a light switch. It’s inhuman. A’rock may be an ass and failure, but he’s a human one no one smart enough should fear. 

“No doubt,” A’rock agrees before turning to Alice and Laya, “I ought to get going now, and Laya.” He speaks to his daughter with a moving finger, trying to instruct her to, “Listen to Old Ticket, he knows a lot, that head of yours could learn something.” They starts walking back inside and are met by the guards stationed outside. “Escort Laya to her lessons, good sirs.” 

They nod.

“Augh, I thought today was going to be interesting,” Laya complains.

Seraras teases Laya before he leaves, “You’ll miss these days when you’re older.”

“Highly unlikely!” 

A’rock leans over to kiss Laya on the cheek. “Well, I ought to be off!” 

Then he turns to Alice and does the same to her, much to her dismay, and Laya’s ignorance. “Have a day, boring or nice,” and then he left to see the Council.

*****

 “They’ll set out to find us now! We’ve peacefully lived here for centuries, living just fine but you just had to fuck that all up!” The red draconic nephilim, Jessibana is taking careful time to ream out A’rock.

She stands with her hands on the desk before her, transparent as she reminds them, “Before, we at least had the hope of explaining ourselves if we were ever discovered, but now, after engaging in combat with two Archangels and a Demon King, what else should we expect save for an assault by both sides!”

“Sure, the angels and daemons had a temporary truce against the Pagan Gods, but they were backed by millions of humanoids and undead,” the angel, David, tries to remind her, “we are but thousands, not millions, and not even all fighters. I don’t see them putting aside their own brewing war to all attack us.” David knew the Archangels well, and while the Archangel he served directly, Gabriel, may put aside any major grievances to partner up with daemons, he knows fully well that Zadkiel will not. 

“A little whisper of mine in the Greed King’s service recently informed me this morning that the Rulers of Sin were split on the issue,” Sheare, a green goblin of Greed, adds, his voice soft and yet about to croak any second. “Wrath, Envy, and Gluttony have split from the rest to prepare for war with the angels. The other four are looking to make an alliance, and I would not be surprised to see the Archangels split in the same way.”

“If the armies of the angels and daemons are split we could go ourselves and cripple them both,” Seraras throws into the mix. 

A’rock watches the conversation unfold without saying a word, unusual for the outspoken leader of the community. When he speaks, from his standing place in the middle of their half circumference table, he has their attention. He reminds them that a significant number of human souls was needed to be able to take a new and more prosperous land for themselves. 

“I believe we finally have enough mortal souls, and that means it doesn’t matter whether or not either of those factions come after us. By the time they would even think to look here, the spell to conquer our first human world would have already been used.”

Jessibana tries once again to enlighten A’rock that not everyone knows how the spell will work, but he again refuses to spill the beans.

“No can do, Jessie.” He uses this nickname to bother her. A’rock certainly has a way with pissing off women. 

“I can only say the spell once, and to tell anyone beforehand would void the point.” As he speaks he sees the Council growing uneasy with his reasoning, so he decides that may be time to turn down the cockiness and up the charisma. He open his arms to the group, and asks for their attention this time. 

“Listen everyone, I know this transitioning process is unnerving, stressful, and risky, but I know that it’s going to pay off, and that we won’t have to work ourselves to death to survive anymore. If you trust me, I promise on my own soul, no, on my daughter’s soul, that by when this is over my daughter’s generation and any after will be looking up at a blue sky, for we will have claimed it for them.”

“Listen A’rock,” Sheare leans forward in his chair, thinking he is about to give A’rock some advice he’ll use, “the people living here have put their trust in you before and you haven’t let them down, but this risks our whole existence and now you expect the same faith. Remember, our people will follow you, to the grave even if you fail, don’t forget that.”

“I won’t.” 

“So nothing changes?” Jessibana questions. “Proceed as planned, just ignore the possible threat?” Jess isn’t surprised to see the rather stagnant Council fail yet again.

“Pretty much, yes,” Seraras answers calmly, “we’ve already begun, Jess, we cannot stop now.”

“We should have stopped before!”

“Based on what?” David questions. “You’re young, you haven’t seen the mortal sun, the beauty of Heaven, all you know is this dead world. Don’t we deserve it?”

“Not if it costs us our lives.

A’rock tells her, “It won’t.” 

“Hannibal said the say thing about crossing the Alps and he still failed. You aren’t half as smart and your empire isn’t half as great.

*****

“Why are you late to your lessons this time, Laya?” asks the old drudge, his face aged by a curse that ages him. Lucky him, he’s at least already as old as he looks.

Old Ticket sits back behind his desk, with his wrinkled face looking down at whatever paper he was writing. He always behaves this way, he thinks it important to make sure that I don’t  develop her dad’s ego, as if his is small. 

“I was doing something just a little more important than your history lessons,” she spits out.

“Oh really? What do you ever do that’s important besides ask your father for things?”

“Seeing Seraras in the infirmary, sorry for caring about someone, apparently that’s something we’re not supposed to do.” 

“And how did you know that Seraras was injured in the first place?” Old Ticket snaps back, tilting his old orange head, his monocle’s chain swinging with it. “Somehow, I highly doubt your father came rushing to tell you about their mission. Why don’t I use the ability of inference that reading a book would give you? 

“You see, from what I know, I wasn’t informed of any conflict until after the Council convened, after Seraras informed them himself, which means he wasn’t gravely injured, so no one was calling for you, much less your mother. That means you or her must have been wasting time, but even still, why the infirmary?”

Laya shrinks more and more into her chair as this goes on.

“You’ve been using your Ojo Rojo again, haven’t you?” That’s what he’s called it for now based on his research, having only seen it once before.

Augh, so what?” she questions him. “It’s not like anyone will know, so what if I just watch over people sometimes? I get bored getting stuck all by myself.” 

Old Ticket’s gruff demeanor softens a bit. Like her, there’s no one around his age. Laya is the first one to be born here since her father. 

That doesn’t make her actions acceptable.

“It’s an invasion of privacy, and you learn things you shouldn’t. Who’s eyes have you been looking through?” That’s how her ability works, for the most part so far. It’s like watching a movie from the first-person view, but I can barely see through even family members before it starts to hurt. Even then… I can’t watch them if they go to Earth, or Earths, or any Earth. 

“Just my dad’s I swear!” she lies. “I was just looking to see if he was almost finished, took the chance that he would be inside too. I wouldn’t want to see the blue sky through someone else’s eyes for the first time. See! I’m careful.” He’s still looking at her judgingly. “I don’t see the problem, it’s not like I can get caught.”

“That’s not the point, you can see something you’re not supposed to, something that can scar you, little girl.” 

If got a dollar every time he calls me that I would have a lot of useless money.

He and everyone else would much rather keep me in the dark than actually tell me what’s going on. If I had this power I would never know that we’re kidnapping humans for Dad’s plan. They think I can’t take it, but I’ve accepted it a long time ago that Dad feels about necessary sacrifices.

I just have to figure out a solution so they’re not necessary anymore.

Frustrated with her clearly not paying attention, Old Ticket throws up his hands. “I don’t know what to do with you! Go back to your room, read a damn book. You know what, read four chapters on the first war between the angels and daemons and come back tomorrow with a better attitude!”

Hmph!” She turns her back on him to leave and proceeds followed by her two armed guards back to her room, one guard daemon, the other angel.

“She knows not how she puts herself at risk,” Old Ticket mutters to himself.

Once Laya makes it back to her room, the armed guards stay at her door so she can enter her room alone. She then picks up the textbook on her desk to look at. 

The First War: A Retelling of the Original Conflict between Heaven and the Sinful Circles, by Lexel of Patience. No thanks.” 

She tosses it right back. What to do, what to do, she wonders, why not look in on someone interesting, and she has the perfect person in mind. Why not see what Uncle Clay is doing right about now? She once again, against her annoying mentor’s advice, spies on someone who can get her into trouble.

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