The House of Asmodeus: A Trial by Fire Chapter 17

“You must have the devil in you to succeed in any of the arts.” – Francois Marie Arouet 

“The day of reckoning has come.”

Asmodeus finds himself stepping quite close to Cavill, muttering into his ear, “Quite poetic, though a bit much don’t you think?”

Cavill turns his neck towards the king as he speaks, as if ignoring his close proximity with a smirk on his face. “Not at all, King Asmodeus, if this meeting doesn’t go well, I expect nothing less than complete armageddon.”

Cavill finds himself leaning back against the taller Asmodeus as the King says, “Well, then I hope our last night alive was memorable enough for you.”

“Memorable, sure,” Cavill mocks him as he pulls away, “I don’t have much positive to say.” 

“Can we not talk about the end of all things before we go try to reason with, what is essentially, a bunch of pissy Archangels?” Lolara stands by Asmodeus’s side trying to keep her hand from shaking. She turns towards only to finally notice how they stand next to each other. “Oh, you’re flirting, you couldn’t have done that last time, it would have been a lot hotter if we were about risk our lives and every daemon in our circle.”

“You’re not one to distract yourself when things look dire, are you, Reaver?” Cavill asks her.

“No I am not,” Lolara answers him, “and I’m not a Reaver either.”

“Oh,” Cavill says, his head turning with confusion, “I just thought-”

“Nah, I get it all the time, but I’d rather not have the fame, fortune, or responsibility that comes with being a Reaver,” Lolara tells him, before grabbing Asmodeus’s hand with a facetiously charming smile, “I have my best friend to provide everything I need, isn’t that right, Clay?”

Asmodeus shakes his head, facetious himself when he says, “Sometimes I think you just want me for my money.”

“The big house is nice too,” she tells him.

“I thought you didn’t distract yourself when you’re nervous?” Cavill asks her.

“Well, if I’m going to die as you two seem to think, I’d better get a few licks while I can, make sure my boy does with just the perfect amount of ego.” She messes up Asmodeus’s hair and smiles watching him fix it and glare at her. “If he got too confident, he’d be too powerful,” she adds with a shrug, “I’m just doing my part to protect the Circle.”

Dotor comes with a more formal teleporter, having been given the time to retrieve one. This time there will be no disruptions to the Circle of Lust’s regularly traveled teleporting stations.

“Do you have your pacts at the ready, Lady Le Fay?” Maturity asks her.

“I always have them ready, Dotor,” Lolara tells him. 

In the case of an ambush she was needed to summon the Kraken she made a pact with to sacrifice for their escape. My pacts more respect than this, but the Kraken agreed to it if I would spread her eggs across the multiverse return, and that’s even if she doesn’t need to be summoned.

These pacts are a form of magic that almost all mortals must use because mortals themselves have no magic. Now that may not make sense, but it’s true, mortals have no capacity or energy for magic whatsoever, they are completely devoid. 

More often than not, if a mortal is using magic and doesn’t have a pact, either their universe has an incredibly weak form of magic that only works in said universe or pocket multiverse, or they’re not actually mortal.

Lolara, like most mortal magic users, is able to use magic by forming pacts with magical creatures or beings. Creatures of myth, like vampires, werewolves, or even krakens can make contracts, or pacts, with mortals. Daemons, angels, and other greater beings can make pacts with people, that’s how most daemons collect mortal souls. There are even some places where magic flows the land itself can consciously form pacts with mortals. 

Another reason I would be so desired by mortal soul harvesters. 

As Lolara messes with her black beanie and and an all black jacket, she has to admit, I look like a jewel thief from a bad 80’s movie. Asmodeus and Cavill are wearing three-piece suits, why didn’t I think of that? I would rock a three-piece suit, Asmodea would never keep her hands off of me.

Noella appears behind Lolara to help put the witch’s raven hair in a ponytail. 

“Thank you, Noey,” Lolara chimes, thanking her with a smile, but she turns to find Noella appearing rather sullen.

“How is it that I’m always left at home waiting for you?” Her question makes Lolara bite her tongue.

I’m no good at this. I can hug and cuddle people but this is a moment where Noella wants an actual answer, not just a shoulder.

She must feel slighted that everyone else has put their life in grave danger this past week without her.

Lucky for Lolara, Asmodeus comes with a hand to cup Noella’s cheek. “Noella, you’re literally the Queen of the Circle of Lust, and it would be pretty irresponsible for the Circle to be left without either of its leaders if it came under attack.” 

Clay seems to finally be getting the hang of convincing her to go with his ideas.

“Hmm, I guess you make a good point about that,” she admits, crossing her arms at the prospect.

“I don’t mean to rush my Lord, but, oh wait, yes I do,” Dotor reminds them, before yelling, “you are on a time table! The Archbeing who wanted this meeting probably shouldn’t be the last one there!” 

Oh, he must be really nervous. I don’t blame him. Our royal family might have joined at the last minute, but he was fighting against an uprising and civil war for years. I imagine Dotor fears a war with the angels even more.

Dotor’s reminder comes with a tap of his head to the portal in the middle of the throne room. The chandelier looks so much better on the ceiling than on the ground.

“That is true,” Asmodeus admits, so he turns to Noella to tell her, “I love you.” Asmodeus kisses his wife on the cheek and moves to kiss the rest of his lovers goodbye too.

When he gets to Asmodea she says, “I want more than a peck, Clay cutie.” Asmodea takes him into a deep kiss.

Finally she releases him. “Ah, thank you for that,” he tells her, knowing exactly what she was doing, “now I must be on my way.” Looking sideways between his wife and Reaver of Seduction, he says, “Please, don’t kill each other while I’m gone.”

“I promise,” Asmodea pledges.

“I don’t!” 

“Please, Noella!”

She pouts with her arms crossed. “Fine, I’m only kidding… mostly… I love you but you’re annoying.”

“But isn’t that why you love me?”

Lolara giggles to herself, The problems only we have.

“Alright let’s go.” The three of them, Asmodeus, Lolara, and Cavill jump through the portal.

This time, they’re not jumping to some random Earth in the middle of an ocean of Earths. They’re leaving to the Western Celeste, a portion of the Outer Rim that surrounds the multiverse. In the Outer Rim, to what is considered the Northern Celeste lies Heaven, to the Southern Celeste lies Hell. In the Eastern Celeste lies the Great Abyss that holds the Dark Ones. It is the Western Celeste where there are a flurry of realms, including the old worlds of the Pagan Gods that became battlegrounds for the daemon and angel wars.

*****

When they come out they are upon a gray barren wasteland. They are the last group among the Demon Kings to arrive. None of the Archangels have arrived yet. 

“Welcome, King of Lust, so happy you could join us on time,” the King of Sloth jests, his head in his book, sitting on a rock besides two of his own Reavers.

“Maybe you should be the King of Sloth, dear son,” Lucifina tells him. 

I always has to keep from squirming when she calls me son. The way she looks at me isn’t very motherly, and it’s always creeped me out.

Luckily, you came before the Archangels did, I wish to lay out a plan of conversation before we start.” Mammon doesn’t really believe in winging it as he thinks that’s what I have actually planned to do.

“I don’t think there is much we need to plan out,” Asmodeus admits with a shrug of his shoulders, living up to Mammon’s assumptions on purpose. In reality, I have spent weeks planning today only to realize how pointless it is. You can’t plan accurately for a conversation with people you don’t know. 

To Mammon, Asmodeus says, “There aren’t really going to be peace terms. When they come, we have to formulate a plan of attack against the enemy, assuming they believe us when we say we have nothing to do with the other Demon Kings.” Thinking about them makes Asmodeus anxious. He groans his thoughts out loud, “Who knows, they’re probably sending harbingers of war at this moment.” 

Lolara flicks him in the head.

He looks at her with a ‘WTF’ expression, and she looks back with a ‘get over it,’ expression. 

“And here I thought the King of Lust would be the positive one,” Belphegor jokes as he turns a page, “I guess I can work some positivity in between pages. We’ll be fine, don’t worry your dollars, Mammon, and Asmodeus,” catching his gaze, “grow some confidence that isn’t associated with your dick, and you’ll be fine.” 

Belphegor’s sarcastic tone is enough to make Lolara and Cavill laugh at their King.

“Ugh, why do I bother,” Mammon groans as his only companion, his young assistant, offers him a handkerchief. “Thank you very much.” The King of Greed begins to pat his face as a hole of white light rips open in the sky.

One of Lucifina’s two Reavers asks, “Are they going to come together?”

“Most likely,” the other answers. 

“They came together,” Lucifina confirms. Then she purses her lip. “I count only four.”

Belphegor looks up from his book to say, “Interesting.” 

Asmodeus pays attention to Lucifina’s Reavers. He wonders for a moment, Am I possibly looking at Noella’s father? He was one of her mother’s Reavers… but then he remembers that he’s dead. Yeah, no wait. Maybe her teacher then.

Lolara thumps him in the head to make him pay attention to the angels. Instead, he pays attention to her, with her arms crossed to had the tremble in them. He pulls her close to him, and he can feel her arms shaking under her jacket.

Michael leads the pack, adorned in the thick battle armor of a knight, and around his waist is a red cape that flaps against his wings. He’s followed first by what can be assumed to be his right hand man, or right hand angel, but something is familiar about this angel.

“Hey, wait a minute I know this guy!” 

“Of course you do, you talked to him last week,” Belphegor says.

“You know, it’s really starting to seem like you take pleasure in making the rest of us look like idiots for shits and giggles,” Asmodeus points out.

Belphegor looks back to his book as he comments that, “I don’t have an inkling as what you mean.”

“Sure you don’t, but I wasn’t talking about Michael, but the angel behind him.” The angel steps to the side of Michael to be in full view. “Yeah, you’re the angel who was sent to kill me before I was able to get to the Circle of Lust.” 

Lolara crosses her arms as she too recognizes his face, and notices a distinguishable dent in his cheek. “Rogiel is your name right?” she remembers. “I could have sworn that Azale killed you.”

Rogiel’s hand touches his cheek where the tip of his scar goes up into his hairline. The impact spot of the wound is higher up. Azale had struck that spot over a year ago, a blow he and Azale thought had killed him. “I am honored that the Demon King would remember such a simple face.” One would think Rogiel was an angel of Humility if he’s being this modest. 

Michael grinds his teeth, forgetting that the assistant he’s been trying to reform under Zadkiel’s nose has a history with Asmodeus. He’s actually beating himself up now, realizing the possible mistake he made. “I’m sure such actions could be simply, ‘water under the bridge’ as the saying goes. What we’re going to be speaking about is a little more important than an attempt on your life.” 

When Asmodeus’s eyes narrow and his whole expression sours, Michael appears to realize how insulting that may sound. “Wait, that didn’t come out right, I don’t mean to say that your life isn’t worth much, quite the opposite of how I feel.”

Asmodeus smirks, seeing a bit of his old awkward self in Michael. “Let’s just let it be water under the bridge before my feelings are really hurt,” Asmodeus replies. Lolara gives him a sideways glare when he says that, knowing the heartache Azale has struggled with over Rogiel. 

“Thank you,” Michael says with a bow of his head, “Gabriel’s angel is transporting the couple, she’s pulling them along in chains so they don’t need to be carried.”

“Good,” Mammon says from his seat on a rock, but then he starts taking a headcount of the angels as the Archangel of Charity, Raphael lands with a female angel at his side. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but there are only four Archangels among you.”

“How do you know?” his assistant asks.

“I remember what they look like from the last war, so I know them even if they are restraining their raw power as we are.”

Raphael replies to Mammon’s observation first. “Yes, there are only four of us, the other three wouldn’t come. I originally imagined this would be a problem, but I only count four Demon Kings among you. “  

“Sounds like a blessing in disguise.” The large group is puzzled by Asmodeus’s comment, except for Belphegor. “Well, I originally worried about how we were going to explain to you angels why there’s three of us who want war, but I can guess that you had the same problem.”

“You would be correct,” Uriel replies in full armor, as she descends with two children hanging onto her arms, as Gabriel descends behind her with the chained couple in her hand. When she lands they hop down and stand behind her. “I assume now that we can all talk without having to worry about what the other six are about to do.”

Asmodeus feels Lolara tense up. The last time she saw Uriel, the Archangel had literally killed her. 

Asmodeus reaches over and takes her hand, which prompts a look from her. With his eyes, he assures her that he won’t let Uriel do anything to her. He doesn’t expect to be tested so immediately.

“I wouldn’t jump that far, we didn’t get to ask these two,” the couple in question, “many questions, but we should assume that their people will take advantage and blindside both sides of our brethren,” Gabriel says as she is the last to land. 

“So it’s true then,” Lucifina mutters, as she proceeds towards the couple, “an angel and a daemon together, but how did you avoid falling and rising, I wonder?” As she gets too close one of Gabriel’s angels takes his holstered spear out to point at her. Immediately, her Reavers go to grab their weapons, but it’s Lucifina’s smile that unnerves the angel. 

She raises her chin at him, grinning at the idea that he thinks he can stand in her way. “I wouldn’t be so rash around me.” 

Kahiel, your duty is not endangered by her speaking them, control yourself,” Gabriel orders her angel. 

The angel Gabriel named Kahiel quickly sheathes his spear back onto his back and moves out of Lucifina’s way, promptly apologizing to her. 

When Gabriel goes back to Lucifina, standing a bit taller than the Demon Queen, she isn’t warm. 

Gabriel’s eying Lucifina in particular. They’re not opposites, I wonder what all that’s about.

“To answer your question, Pride, we did have them explain to us how such a pairing works. Ezekiel, please explain.”

The other angel of Diligence explains how the pairings worked, how love does not break the confines of any Virtue or Sin. 

“Apologies, I mean no offense, but I find such an tale hard to believe, never hearing of such things in my long life,” Mammon says.

“That is understandable,” Michael replies, “I assume you would want a demonstration that they really are an item.”

“Yes, I would desire to see such things.”

“You desire much…” Raquel’s personal angel mutters. 

Raphael quietly berates him, yet another angel Seraphim that needs to be reined in, and not one Reaver has had to be reprimanded yet. 

All the Demon Kings trade glances, more or less thinking the same thing. All the Archangels see it.

Then the group moves to push the chained angel and daemon to the middle. Asmodeus remembers their names to be Saphira and Talons.

Talon is a bit apprehensive about showing off their ‘love.’ “It seems kinda weird to be making out in front of such a large group of people.”

Saphira is kneeling down next to him, and squints at him until he turns to look at her. “Tal, this may be the last time we can, so shut up, turn around, and kiss me.” The dark haired angel is probably the one who wears the pants. 

The blue demon, Talon, turns to face the love of his life, and with his hands in braces he’s able to cup her chin. They look deeply into each other’s eyes for a moment, and upon this simple act everyone is convinced of their feelings for each other, but they let the two continue anyway. 

Saphira and Talon both tilt their heads to place their lips on the other. When they touch, they fit each other like missing puzzle pieces. Slowly, they each slip their tongues and proceed to get more and more heated the longer they are allowed.

Yeah, Asmodeus thinks to himself, it’s really weird watching people makeout when everyone’s not doing it.  

Lolara leans in close to Asmodeus to whisper to him, “They’re obviously not faking it, and it would seem cruel to kill them for this.” Lolara also points out, “I also think this is a little creepy.”

“Literally just thinking the same thing,” he whispers back, garnering a small smirk from her. 

“On both accounts, is it ever like that with us?” he asks her. 

She looks away, appearing unsure.

Asmodeus breaks up her thought process when he tells her, “I think I have an idea for getting them out of a death sentence, and us into their hideout.”

“Can you do it now?” Lolara asks him. “It’s only getting more awkward watching two people make out who aren’t us.” 

“Did you want to get a turn?” Asmodeus jokes, hoping to lighten her mood until she can be away from Uriel. 

“Would that make you jealous?” Lolara teases him.

“Hardly, if you sleep with someone whose actually furry, would that make you a furry?” 

Lolara nearly gags at her question. “No one’s dressing up in a costume in this hypothetical, and I think that’s racist towards…” she trails off as she stares at the daemon, Talon.

“You have no idea which Sin has furry daemons,” Asmodeus tells her.

Lolara crosses her arms and doesn’t answer.

“Any Sin can have furry daemons, it’s a trait like hair color, just more common in some Circles,” he tells her.

Lolara just shakes her head. 

Now he speaks up, “Okay, I’m sure everyone believes this is real now, you can stop, please.”

“Too much for you, son?” Lucifina taunts him, making him crane his neck for a moment in embarrassment.

The two kiss a second more, before reluctantly separating. They don’t move away from each other altogether though. Kahiel moves to separate them again by grabbing Talon by his braces. 

“No…” Saphira says in a hush. She clinging to Talon’s furry blue shoulder.

“Separate from him now,” Kahiel commands.

Wait,” Asmodeus calls out, but Kahiel looks defensive as it felt like a command, sounded like one too. “Let them be for now, separating them isn’t going to help us any.” He can see the happy faces of surprise on the couple as they stare at the King of Lust. “I would like to propose something.” 

“Asmodeus, what are you thinking?” Uriel questions.

“Hold on, I got to make a point. You two, your community, your people hide because of persecution between angels and daemons, yeah?” They both look confused, as most people do when they can’t tell where a conversation is going, so they nod. “I bet your leader’s, A’rock’s, master plan is to build a home where you don’t have to hide, and that he needs a lot of human souls to get said home, correct?” 

It’s honestly one of the most overused plans in the book, for a group of outcasts to want a new home. I’ve seen enough movies to know.

“I’m not sure that we should say, Saph,” Talon mutters to his love.

Saphira never takes her eyes off of Asmodeus, even when she tells her love, “Tal, he’s not dumb, he knows he’s right.”

“You’re right about that, smarter than I look,” he kids with her. Asmodeus’s humor does little to calm her nerves, he can see that.

“Now if there was a place for you all to live in peace in, connection with the others worlds without fear of death, would that cease any need for you or your people to fight us? To steal souls?”

Saphira huffs, and agrees, “Sure it would, but no place exists.”

“Hold that thought,” Asmodeus says with a raise of his finger. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t imagine that there are more than enough of you to house a city, or else you would have been found out a long time ago.”

Gabriel quietly mentions to Raphael, “You don’t think he’s going to offer them a home in his Circle, do you?” 

Raphael smiles at her. “I hope so.”

Asmodeus now turns back to the couple, “What if, I offered such a place in the Circle of Lust?” Before Saphira can question Asmodeus, he explains further. “Not some shitty land, this isn’t the U.S. and Native Americans,” which confuses Saphira, “maybe not a reference you’ll get, but still, I wish to offer a place to build an actual, fully developed city, where you can all live comfortably without fear of persecution. I can and will make such persecution illegal in my Circle.”

You, you would really offer us such a place?” Saphira can’t believe what she is hearing, and neither can Talon based off the look on his face. 

“It’s a better alternative to war,” Asmodeus says with a shrug of his shoulders.

Talon asks the important question. “You would let regular angels live in a Circle of Sin?”

“Uh yeah,” Asmodeus says with a more confused shrug, “what would make the place worth anything if your girlfriend couldn’t stay?” 

“Even their offspring?!” Saphira yells. 

Everyone is shocked by her question, Well, all the Archdemons and Archangels. I’m noticing a distinct of shock from a few angels and Reavers in this crowd.

“I’m sorry, I don’t think I understand what you said correctly,” Michael asks as he raises his finger, “what do you mean by offspring? You mean between angels and daemons?”

Ummm…” Saphira just stated the existence of Nephilim by accident. She didn’t mean to reveal so much, but she desperately doesn’t want any child she has to grown up in Pluto’s Palace.

Talon tries to gloss over it awkwardly, “No, that’s not what she meant, angels and daemons can’t have children.” 

“They’re also not suppose love each other without falling or rising but that happened,” Belphegor points out.

Raphael feels this growing sense of hope at the offset of there being hybrids. He flies with great speed and excitement to the couple, and near Asmodeus. Cavill is prompted to draw his blade as a tribal marking forms over Lolara’s hand, which makes Raphael’s Seraphim draw their swords. 

Asmodeus raises his hands to stop his Reaver and friend as Raphael lands, completely ignoring the Demon King.

Raphael’s guards sheathe their weapons as their Archangel is fascinated by the two, and nothing more than warm when he asks them, “Are there really offspring of angels and daemons in your community?”

Saphira and Talons trade glances, never expecting in a million years to have an Archangel to be happy at the prospect of hybrids. Goes to show how well the average angel and daemon know their rulers. 

Saphira’s shoulders are still tense, but she decides to tell what seems to be a gentle Archangel the truth. “Yes, there are offspring of angels and daemons, it’s somewhat rare, but there are at least a hundred that have been born since we came together. They’re called Nephilim, the leaders you two fought,” she references Asmodeus and Uriel, “they were Nephilim. A’rock, is our leader, and our strongest.”

“Uh well, this is a revelation,” Asmodeus said as he scratched his head.

“A whole new species has been living under our nose all these years!” Raphael exclaims, his hands on his head as he seems one move from cheering. “This changes so much!”

Mammon as always, brings his logic, “The Nephilim have to be hybrids, not a new species. A new species can breed more of its own, and hybrids are sterile.”

“Actually the Nephilim aren’t sterile at all,” Saphira corrects him, “there have been some Nephilim who have been born of two Nephilim parents, and some of one Nephilim parent and another species. They can mate with angels, daemons, and mortals, or at least with humans as far as we’ve seen. The Nephilim portion always seems to take over the other portion though, so no angels or daemons come from Nephilim.” 

Saphira couldn’t possibly comprehend how much she broke Mammon’s mind, but even more of the Demon Kings and Archangels are more concerned with a new thought. If Nephilim can breed with either species, and only produce their own, that’s a natural way to eventually weed out both.

Keeping a strong facade, Lucifina comments, “Well, I guess nothing makes sense to me anymore, what could possibly happen in my life that could surprise me after this.” 

“King of Lust!” Saphira calls.

“Huh what? Sorry, I was busy being in shock,” he comments.

“Our offspring, could they live in this city, this home you are offering?”

 Asmodeus doesn’t think too long, he doesn’t have much reason against it. Hell, I can think of many more important issues that have stemmed from this conversation than that one.  “Well, of course I guess, they are part of the community.”

“Now hold on, Sin,” Gabriel interjects, “it was one thing to offer angels a home in your domain, but if you think you can have the power of this new species to yourself than you rethink your strategy.”

“If you think he’s only after their power Archangel, then please, offer them a home in your domain.” Belphegor gets this smirk after challenging his opposite. 

When Gabriel offers no such home and proceeds to cross her arms, Belphegor rests on his laurels. “That’s what I thought. I can personally vouch for Asmodeus’s offer, the boy has yet to show any real lust for power even though he is a Demon King, and he’s been fairer than many I have met in the past.”

“I can second that, Gabriel.” Michael goes on to mention how different he has continuously said the new King of Lust to be. 

Lolara mutters to Cavill, “I fully expects our King’s ego to raise to a new level after today.”

“Is that a good thing?”

“Eh, in some ways,” she says as she winks at him.

Raphael tries to compromise with Gabriel, wanting to meet these Nephilim for himself. “Obviously, we cannot make any offers of room in Heaven without first consulting,” Asmodeus assumes he means consulting with the big guy if he’s actually up there, “but if the King of Lust promises to allow travel of this new community between a city in his Circle of Sin and a city in a Dominion of Heaven, if one does eventually exist, it will be with no issue to me.” 

“I solemnly swear,” Asmodeus promises on the spot.

Saphira is shaking in her boots with excitement, and even being a pessimist, Talon finds himself fighting an urge to smile. If every promise made today is kept, they would get the dream home they’ve been fighting for, and the fighting could end.

“Don’t get too excited just yet,” Uriel reminds them, seemingly never unable to be the bearer of bad news, “there can be no peace if your leader destroys anything to make room.”

The two now see their dilemma.

Michael latches onto this point. “Uriel is right in saying that, there will be nowhere for you to be at peace if your community decides to go to war. To stop this we need to know where this community is.”

The couple become as quiet as they are hesitant with this information. 

Mammon points out, “We are promising and swearing to offer you and your friends a lot, such trust should be returned.” 

Asmodeus turns back over his shoulder at the King of Greed, prompting him to return a confused look. I distinctly lack any memory of Mammon offering anything.

Saphira has to be assured of her people’s safety. She won’t risk them so easily, even for her dream. “If we tell you, there can’t be an army at their door, that will instigate a fight.”

“That’s understandable, what do you propose?” Belphegor asks, moving his hand to stroke his chin in curiosity.

Saphira ponders this for a moment, but Talon comes up with an idea first. “Why don’t we escort a few of you to our community? Coming with us hopefully can keep things peaceful, and then you can personally give them this offer of peace.”

“I can get behind that,” Asmodeus says, not yet realizing that he just volunteered himself for another mission.

Uriel insists, “You must still tell us all where it is located, if you do not return in the appropriate time, we must assume your betrayal or an act of aggression by the Nephilim.”

Saphira and Talon trade glances again to consider their options. It’s like they can practically read the other’s mind without speaking.

“Okay,” Saphira says, “our community is hiding in Pluto’s abandoned palace.”

“Oh shit, that’s a long walk,” Belphegor curses. He wasn’t even going to offer to go, but the sheer idea of moving in any manner gives him a headache. As he explains his outburst, its sounds more like him complaining. 

“The old ruins of the Pagan Gods can be a huge or short trek from any safe point we enter that world. We can’t just open portals to that place without one of our own already there due to old Pagan magic. Is it safe to assume that neither of you know the portal codes to your community?” Both Saphira and Talon shake their heads. “Of course, it will most likely be a long trek for whoever decides to make it.”

Figuring out at this point that he’s already inadvertently volunteered himself, he says, “I guess it only makes sense that I go, I am the one making the offer,” but this was only one reason as to why he wants to go. I can find Alice too. 

Asmodeus goes back to his Reavers, already giving out orders. “Lo, you can go with me, and Cavill, you can go back to the palace to inform the other Reavers of what is happening.”

“Hold on, Asmodeus, I believe I should go too, to represent Heaven in your plan,” Uriel suggests, and the mere suggestion makes Lolara shake a little.

“Great idea, let us send two opposites on what will probably be a long journey of bickering and fighting,” Belphegor says sarcastically.

“Does your sarcasm ever stop to think?” Uriel snaps at the King of Sloth. “The King of Lust and I have proven before that we can put our differences aside to work together. The rest of you have not, which makes us and our allies the best candidates for this mission.”

Belphegor is put in his place out of shock. No one ever bothers to snap at him, and rarely so effectively.

Michael gives his blessing. “I can put my faith in this team. In the meanwhile the rest of us should work on trying to stop the other Archangels and Demon Kings from fighting.”

Everyone pretty much agrees.

Asmodeus waves his hand over Saphira and Talon to burn away their chains with fire. With those two freed they gather into a group. Lolara grows quite hesitant to move closer to Asmodeus with Uriel approaching, and this is when Uriel finally notices.

Uriel changes paths towards Lolara, and Lolara freezes in place. Asmodeus isn’t as quick to notice as he would wish, but when he does he moves fast enough to provoke everyone around them.

He moves at the speed of light to stand in front of Lolara, and all the Archangels move their hands to their swords except for Michael. 

The Demon Kings in turn ready themselves with weapons to fight alongside Asmodeus, should they attack.

They are stopped in their place when they see Uriel stop several feet before Asmodeus and his witch. 

Uriel,” Michael mutters, trying to rein her in, but she hasn’t necessarily learned to fear him. 

Instead, she looks between Asmodeus and his witch, her face betraying nothing. Asmodeus wishes now that he would have put the same spells on Lolara that he did Azale, even if she would have noticed. 

Then Uriel’s eyes lock onto Lolara.

And the Archangel bows at the waist. 

To say everyone is surprised is an understatement, Lolara’s mouth hangs open. Uriel doesn’t see that, she closes her eyes, and takes the risk she must to complete this apology. 

“I am sorry,” Uriel begins to apologize, “for invading your home and killing you,” and confirms that she is indeed talking to Lolara. 

Lolara is speechless. Even as Uriel raises her head, and Lolara can look her in the face, the witch still doesn’t believe it. Uriel goes even further. “I’m sorry for killing you, and terrorizing you as I have clearly done so. If I had known that you were not simply a follower of an evil daemon, I would not have done so.”

“Um, I…” Lolara is speechless. 

“You do not have to forgive me,” Uriel tells her, “I wouldn’t forgive me, but I promise you’ll never have to fear anything from me again.” With that, Uriel turns her back to stand with the rest, hoping to put this all behind her now.

Just as the other Archangels and Demon Kings are about to calm, Asmodeus yells at Uriel, “Wait.” She stops cold and turns back around, and now its Asmodeus’s turn to be stared at. “Killing her is not the only apology you owe her,” Asmodeus says, his voice stern and unforgiving, he is making no joke by demanding an apology for his best friend, “what you called her when you gave me her lifeless body, you should apologize for that too.”

Lolara has no idea what he’s talking about, considering she was dead, and no one else here was there but Uriel.

As soon as she is sure what Asmodeus is referring to, she turns around and bows her head to Lolara and Asmodeus again. “I never should have called you a whore,” she apologizes, and Lolara is shocked, not that the Archangel would have called her something in such a derogatory manner, but that Asmodeus would care enough to demand an apology for her.

That’s when Lolara is able to gain back her voice. “I accept your apology.”

Uriel’s eyes spring open and she picks her head straight up. She’s actually caught off guard, unsure. Her hand instinctively touches her face as she stammers, “Oh, you, you… thank you.” She’s strangely meek about it, lost in thought until one of the children who came with her come to tap her hand. 

She realizes where she is, and takes a step back. She’s back to being Archangel Uriel, hiding whoever it was who just popped out. She coughs into her hand, asking her traveling group, “Is there anything that anyone needs before we set off, food, clothes, weapons?” 

Asmodeus hesitates before doing anything, but as usual his first worry is Lolara. He looks to her, and she gives him the nod of approval. He coughs into his hand as well and approaches the group with Lolara following, changing back into some kind of formal voice as he says, “I can summon food, and this suit is the best I’m gonna get. I’ve fought in such attire before.”

The other Archangels and Demon Kings let a sigh of relief, but don’t stray away with their confused and intentful gazes.

Lolara assures Uriel with a gesture to her jeans, black denim jacket and sneakers that, “My street clothes were already picked out for a fight. Necessary precaution.”

Uriel affirms that she understands.

“I dressed for battle as well,” Uriel says, and gestures to the two children beside her as she says, “and these two can do their… thing at will.” 

The two children she points to, a really young boy and girl, giggle to themselves. “Would you two stop that?!” Uriel yells at them, immediately reminding Asmodeus of his sister. “We’re about to embark to the dangerous lands of the Pagans and you two still need to introduce yourselves!”

The girl goes first, she can’t look any older than ten. She’s blonde with blue eyes like Uriel and is nicknamed Amy. “That’s what I want to be called,” she tells them, “this is my brother, we’re twins.”

The boy is like the female version of Amy. “Call me Abe.” 

Michael comes up to them. “Well now that you’re all acquainted I should warn you about where you’re going. The Land of Pluto isn’t really how it is in stories, this isn’t his underworld, but this was his home. Expect a sandy desert with many tornadoes and sandstorms, so don’t try and fly. Go on foot, no matter how long it takes. We will wait and account for this trip before we get suspicious of any wrongdoing, and depending on where you end up expect to find many different kinds of insects.”

“The insectoids are things we’ve dealt with before, we’ve had to learn our ways around them,” Talon assures him. 

“Good then, and I can assume you know to find caves to stay in during nightfall?”

Saphira says, “Of course, we wouldn’t want to risk a fight with the Cerberus hounds that hunt at night.”

Asmodeus doesn’t think that doesn’t sound good.

“Okay then, that should be all. Rogiel is creating the portal there now. We cannot pinpoint a location for you to land so will you be able to lead them to Pluto’s palace?” 

Talon says, “Yes, there is spell put on us so we can always sense where home is.”

They must have a pretty good spellcaster among them for that. Asmodeus wonders if it’s a Nephilim.

Cavill comes to speak to Asmodeus before Rogiel finishes the portal. “My lord, could you send me back since you can send people to the palace quicker than that angel can make portals?”

“Sure thing,” Asmodeus agrees and moves his finger over Cavill’s face. “Please explain the situation to the rest of the Reavers and try to keep my absence a secret.” Cavill smiles at this last request.

“I believe I can manage that… as long as Queen Noella doesn’t kill any messengers.”

“Not a fate I wish on most,” Lolara kids.

Rogiel has the portal ready now. “Time for us to get going,” Cavill says, a slight reluctance still in his voice, but he hides it well with his face. 

“Agreed, thank you, Cavill.” 

“I live to serve.”

With that Asmodeus uses a spell to teleport him back to the palace in the Circle of Lust.

“Now it’s our turn, are you all ready?” Uriel is probably going to take lead on this journey, Asmodeus can already tell.

All reply as such.

“Then everyone join hands and let’s go!” They do so and jump through the portal.

*****

Laya’s hands go to rub her eyes as they tear up from using her Ojo Rojo for so long to watch her Uncle Clay. 

“Totally worth it,” she says to herself, and gets all excited that, “he’s coming here with Saphira and Talon! He’s gonna give us our own city! Dad won’t have to-” 

Then she remembers, No one besides Old Ticket knows about her power. How can I explain it and get everyone to believe me…  and then not get mad at me for spying? 

She doesn’t want to admit that Old Ticket is right about using her power, she hates knowing things like her Uncle’s offer, and not being able to share it.

“Maybe I should tell Dad and Mom,” Laya thinks out loud, “I mean they wouldn’t want to abuse this, though they may end of being like Old Ticket.” That idea really throws a wrench in the idea. The dilemma to speak or not to speak weighes on the young kid’s shoulders.

“I can’t keep this to myself, I should have told my parents a long time ago,” she admits to herself. It was already night though, and Laya’s eyes still feel like they’re on fire. Her eyesight blurs together and the degree of blurriness depends on the Ojo Rojo’s extended use. This time lasts rather long and her consistent need to squint is starting to give a headache.

“I’m sure the good news can wait till morning,” she says with a yawn. Laya starts to get on under her sheets to get to sleep.

Leave a Reply