The House of Asmodeus: A Trial by Fire Chapter 22

“Four things greater than all things are, Women and Horses and Power and War.” – Rudyard Kipling

“I, could kill you, right now….” Asmodea growls at Cavill. He’s beginning to notice that daemons do a lot of growling, and not in a sexual way.

“What?” Cavill questions. “I was only doing what I was told-”

“You’re job is protect him, it’s suppose to be your passion remember?” Zazriel berates him.

“I am, but-”

“Why is my husband, without his Reaver you idiot?!” Noella yells at him.

Okay that’s enough!” Cavill yells back, his voice ringing throughout the throne room. Oh god, have Reavers turned from bodyguards to babysitters while I’ve been gone. 

“You all act as if you would have disobeyed him, but you all would be exactly where I am now.”

Bullshit,” Asmodea states, crossing her arms and bending her hip, “I would have made him come home and leave here with a battalion of daemons.”

“That would defy the whole point of going!” Cavill yells back at her, finally giving his two cents for once. “They’re supposed to be going for a peaceful resolution, nothing says peaceful like army waiting to kill.” 

“Fine, then why not come back and leave with more than just Lady Lolara, who’s not a Reaver, and would be the weakest if she was!” Dotor yells back.

Is that right? I don’t think that’s right, I thought he was the weakest.

“Because that would make it obvious that he was gone, if a bunch of his Reavers suddenly disappeared.”

“And what? The King of Lust going away wouldn’t draw attention away either?” Zazriel asks. “It doesn’t matter how much we trust the people working here, they’re not going to stay quiet about this!”

“Well, actually I can fix that,” the Reaver of Passion offers, Cavill unsheathes his sword as they all look on confused. He holds up his sword as another person steps out behind him, the King of Lust, Asmodeus. “I can make apparitions, illusions essentially anything to affect what people see, hear, and smell. I’ll just take him around the castle once in awhile to let everyone know that he’s here. I’m sure Asmodeus already considered this, but I think it important to maintain appearances. Who’s to say that there aren’t daemons from this community here to spy on us, if they knew that he was gone they may prepare for him. I can passionately make sure that no such danger as that can befall him.”

“I had forgotten your kusanagi’s ability, Cavill,” Dotor admits, “but this is not a good enough excuse for severely slacking on your duties.”

“You know what? I remember the last time Asmodeus had the idea of putting himself in danger, you were powerless to stop him,” Cavill snaps, forcing Dotor back, “you would have been just as powerless to stop him this time too, and if our king is half as caring as he seems, he wouldn’t have brought so many people that he would need to protect.” 

There is so much truth in Cavill’s words that all stings deep.

“Protect us? We protect him,” Noella states wholeheartedly. 

“Let’s be honest with ourselves,” Cavill says with an out spreading of his hands, “none of us are on the level of a Demon King. At best we can lead his armies and watch over him while he sleeps, protect him from surprises assassins and all that, but the truth of the matter is, in a real fight, he’s much more capable of defending all of us and himself than we are of him. Zazriel maybe the one exception.

“I mean, the guy is practically invincible against anyone except for what, maybe 13 other people? Come on guys, think about it, the last Asmodeus was the strongest daemon anyone’s ever heard of, and the only one to defeat an Archangel. From what I could tell he came back quite, well, almost without a scratch. That’s because of a power level, and a knowledge of magic that is now in our Asmodeus’s possession. Yet ye’ have so little faith.”

“You know something Cavill, I do remember something I used to say to you whenever you made sense in the way you do,” Dotor tells him.

“I think I remember but not really.” He remembers.

“I don’t really feel this in such a way towards others ever, but you’re special, I hate it when your right.” 

Cavill laughs pretty hard.

*****

Alice tries to walk casually towards Old Ticket’s workshop, same place he holds Laya’s lessons. 

It’s hard to run with this weight bearing down on her shoulders. No matter how far she gets from her daughters room, she’s congested by the room, the pressure on her body refusing to lessen. 

I’m so sorry, Selena, she thinks to herself, of the woman she sent to murder her husband, a woman I sent to her death. 

Am I about to do the same to my brother?

Alice isn’t being watched closely today, no one thinks much of her as long as she isn’t around Laya, who she’s always suspected to kidnap again. This means, to her knowledge, that no one really knows about her many meetings with the eldest member of their community.

Alice reaches his room near the front of Pluto’s Palace, on the ground level. She can leave through there after she gets what she needs.

She opens the door and Old Ticket is reading a book. Alice comes right out with it. “Ticket, Selena failed, someone killed her, A’rock or Seraras, one of them.” 

Saying it feels harsh coming from her mouth, it almost sounds like a sob, But there’s no time for that. 

Old Ticket looks up, and fails hold any gaze. “I shouldn’t have let her go,” he states, “it was foolish to think that she could take on either one of them. How is everyone dealing with it? What do they think of her attempt on his life?”

“No one knows yet,” Alice informs him as she walks up to his chair.

Old Ticket frowns at her with a questioning twist of his head. “Then how do you possibly know how her mission went?”

Alice’s face hardens now, He knows damn well. 

“Laya told me,” and Ticket’s face is less confusion, and more shock as she continues, “she saw through father’s eyes to prove to me she had what you call the Ojo Rojo.” Her demeanor becomes cold, and Old Ticket does not put on the face of a fool.

Alice, I told her to keep it a secret for her own safety, I wanted her to stop using it because I knew that eventually she would see something too much for her, and if she saw Selena dead or dying, then I know that I was right.”

“But how could you not tell me?!” Alice yells at him, lunging and slamming her fist against his desk. “You honestly thought you could control her? She doesn’t listen to you, you old coot! I’m her mother! What damage could I have done?! What could I have stopped?!”

Old Ticket exhales as he dips in his gaze. “Probably much more than I’ve realized, less than you think… I am sorry.”

Alice sighes, as she somehow clenches her fists even harder. 

There’s much to be done, and I can’t spend my time taking it out on Old Ticket now, even if he deserves it. 

“We’ll speak on this later, but there’s more important things to do.”

 Alice fills Old Ticket in on what Clayton is doing and offering, and her idea to go find him. She mentions A’rock’s plan to use Selena’s death to convert others to his cause of massacring innocent people.

“Oh this is terrific!” Old Ticket exclaims, holding his hands up, and then clapping them almost forgetfully. “Your brother will undermine A’rock’s pull here… if Asmodeus can do it before A’rock can spin his lies he’ll have to give in.” 

Hearing Old Ticket call her brother Amodeus was gives her goosebumps, it’s always been strange in passing. 

MY brother is a Demon King, not the weird lonely little boy who clung to our mother’s leg and took our father’s punches. 

“I don’t know how else we can topple A’rock so completely,” Ticket cheers, then his happiness fades when he realizes a problem they may have, “but if A’rock accuses Asmodeus or the Archangels he is allied with of having killed Selena, Asmodeus will be easy pickings for a mob. We’ll need a witness to call A’rock out for his lies.” Based on Old Ticket’s face, he has someone in mind.

“Who could do-” Alice starts before she realizes who he means. “No! You have controlled Laya enough! You’ve keep her secret, now you want to reveal it to everyone?! Do you even realize you’d be asking her to betray her father? I don’t think even I could do that.”

“Calm down, Alice, please listen to me when I say we have no other options,” Old Ticket begs her. “Laya is the only one with the credibility to dismantle her father. She doesn’t even necessarily have to reveal her power, her voice speaking out against him may be enough. The shock value of an accusation from the one who trusts A’rock the most, should breed doubt in everyone, especially if he tried to frame Asmodeus.”

“No, we can’t do, how would we convince her to do that?”

“I don’t think we do, you said that she’s been looking through your brother’s eyes, she must feel a familial bond to him. She knows the truth, and I have faith in that girl’s sense of fairness and justice if nothing else. She may seem a little spoiled and impatient, but she doesn’t hold her father’s malice. She’ll tell the truth.”

“I… I hope your right, but before this can happen, I need to find my brother.”

“Ah yes,” he agrees, “I believe I can help you with that.” 

Old Ticket picks up his cane, and starts to walk to a shelf in his workshop. He rummages through one of the drawers attached to it, and pulls out a compass. “Put some of your blood in this. This a blood compass which will lead someone to another of their own kin, and it will show in the form of red arrows pointing in the direction of a familial member. A dot will represent a familial member in another world, such as Heaven or Hell. Corpses will not count and if members are together dots and arrows can overlap. Will this suit your need?”

“It’s perfect,” she says.

“Take this bag too.” He picks up a leather pack underneath his desk, and he hands to her with the compass. “I prepared this in case you and Laya needed to leave. It holds food and supplies for three days, two pairs of appropriate clothes for the terrain, a cloak that can make you invisible to predators in the desert as long as you don’t move, and a multi-tool I had picked up from a human world.”          

“Thank you, I’ll change into this to leave instead of my dress.” She rummages through the bag to inspect everything he said. She finds what he called a human multi-tool, is a pretty decent swiss army knife. “Haven’t seen one of these in a long time.”

“You have experience with it?” he asks.

“Not really, but it was pretty common for others to have, I wasn’t as handy,” she admits.

“You’ll have to learn to be now. Use one of the pointier and thinner tools to drawn some of your blood. You need only a pinch to drop on the compass’s surface.”

She put down the back pack to look through the tools in the swiss army knife. She finds a thin, sharp point and pricks her fingerprint with it. She opens the compass up to drop it on the surface. 

The blood hits the compass, and then it evaporates. What looks like a red steam comes up from it and dissipates, leaving directions. There is one arrow pointing to the door from which she came, which must be Laya on the other side of the palace. Another arrow pointing east through the desert, that being where Asmodeus must be. 

But something else puzzles her, almost frightens her. There is a dot. “That can’t be possible,” she whispers. Asmodeus and Alice have no aunts or uncles, their parents were only children in both of their households. Their grandparents died back before Alice was even born. Who can that be?

“Is something wrong?” Old Ticket asks her.

“You said corpses don’t show up right?”

“Yes, why?”

“Nothing that’s important now.” Alice needs to find Asmodeus before she investigates the meaning behind the compass, and she doesn’t owe Old Ticket any explanations right about now. “I need to be off.”

“Okay, I’ll open the path for you while you change.”

“Thank you.” 

Old Ticket turns towards a bookcase, pushes a panel behind it, and causes the shelf to move downwards, revealing a hallway. He opens the first door to step inside, to move down the hallway to the second opening.

Alice is changing out of her dress and finds an old scar. She runs her hand along it, a particularly nasty one that wraps around her torso, between two of her right ribs. She was given it in an escape attempt with Laya years ago. It has never faded.

Once appropriately prepared for the desert 

She goes down the hallway with her pack and compass to meet Old Ticket by the exit.

“These are human clothes,” she points out, “how did you come by these?”

“Selena acquired them to keep for an emergency during one of her trips to a human world.” The mention of Selena causes them to hold a moment of silence. 

“Enough sulking from us,” Ticket tells her, grasping her chin between his fingers, “you have a brother to find.”

“Yes, a younger brother who I haven’t seen in over ten years, I’ve missed him,” she says as he lets her go, basking in the thought yet again. 

“Then go find him.”

Alice leaves through the door, onto the sands of the vast desert and stone rocks that surround Pluto’s Palace. She looks at the compass, and starts jogging in that direction.

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