The House of Asmodeus: A Trial by Fire Chapter 23

“Great men are almost always bad men.” – John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton

Lelouch has been in her medical center finishing up on her daily activity of refilling the drug stockpiles, done through a combination of light magic and herbs collected from the Circles of Sin. 

Today was supposed to be a quiet, boring day. Now I expect there to be trouble, maybe even panic sometime soon. This can be one last simple day before hell comes for us, and my son. 

My son isn’t a very good man, but Seraras can be decent, the best I could do alone. 

She had found and joined her community after she grew sick of the fighting between angels and daemons. Lelouch had seen many fall in the last war, she witnessed them while fighting under the Archangel, Michael. 

All he wanted to do was protect mortal kind, to care for them blindly, because daemons only cared for themselves and each other, as if mortals weren’t the same. It’s hard to believe it from his mouth, there was no conviction behind his words of hate, to him they were more of a necessity of survival than something to cheer and preach. 

Instead, he let Zadkiel preach the hate to his thrones.

Zadkiel taught that such beings needed to be put in their place. He taught that beings who pillaged, raped, murdered, and stole from each other and others didn’t deserve to be treated with respect and protection. 

As if we had not done the same.

As if angels and daemons did not all scream the same.

Lelouch’s Virtue is Charity, and to not treat all species with the same care, prejudice, trust, and doubt, is no charity at all. Finding this community was a feat that took hundreds of years, where she could care for any being of Virtue or Sin. A community where in secret, angels and daemons could live together in harmony with their Nephilim offspring.

She has been with this community for little over 500 years, she has cared for any and all since. I’d probably seen just about everyone here naked at least once on my table. I don’t remember them all.

For a lot of them, there isn’t much desire to become friends with someone who knows every time you got dysentery. 

Lucky her.

Hadel was always interested in her though, her past, the stories she could tell. He had some fascination with those who’ve fought and survived the wars that led to his home. Once you fight someone on the battlefield, they become a monster or a reflection. Those who see a reflection came here, and Hadel wanted to know all about that, as annoying as it was.

He looked at Lelouch, a woman who helped people to live, and thought that it wasn’t possible for her past to be anything but shining light. 

As he grew older, she noticed his mother’s contributions. In his teenage years he had inherited his mother’s lustful pheromone opposed to those of his angelic father. This might have contributed to his terrible flying capabilities, being born by two beings whose wings worked completely different. 

Hadel tested his charms against many women, daemon, angel, one or two Nephilim, but one angel always had his eye. 

He would come into Lelouch’s medical center to offer assistance instead of just company. She never trusted him with tools, preferring instead conversation, which was actually want he wanted. 

Hadel told me later, if you offer just the right amount of ‘too much’ as earnestly as possible, they’ll give you want you really want.

He wouldn’t flirt with her like he would younger woman, why would that interest her?

Hadel would always come to see Lelouch, offer help, and keep her company, he was an unofficial nurse, learning everything from her. It did take some time for Lelouch to realize that he was caring for her with a dedication beyond medicine. 

It’s hard not to eventually notice how alone you are with a nurse who didn’t look like a little boy. It… bothered me though, knowing… he had to be younger but I never wanted to ask or know. 

Angels, daemons, outside of the boom that follows war, generations of of our young are born without knowing each other. I’ve never had someone within 500 years of my age so much as wink at me. At 100,000 years, you’re never going to find someone your own age.

At the same time, it bothered me, nagged at the back of my head that I should be alone rather than with someone who centuries to catch up to the years I’ve seen. 

But then every Archangel would be spouseless… and no one judges them… out loud.

I hear Lust daemons don’t care much for the difference of ages, lucky them. 

Loneliness can break a person down, and without realizing it, respect and love can infect a mind and soul into doing things that may not seem quite so acceptable. 

Eventually, while he was still rather young to most she took him to her bed. Afterwards, upon going through feelings of guilt and revulsion she tried to treat the encounter as a reward, nothing serious, something they could forget about. Rewarding him was the wrong way to think of it, but it made it easier for a moment. My needs weren’t exactly being taken care of otherwise so why not just think of it as having fun. 

Then he stayed, tried and eventually succeeded in convincing me that he didn’t want no easy fling. Maybe he was foolish, but it wasn’t like he didn’t have all the time in the world to be foolish. He was a Nephilim, he could have spent all of his time pretending he’ll eventually be able to leave, he could have actually left and died, or he could take his chances with someone in front of him. 

Not many approved at first, especially his father, but living the long lives both of their species do, eventually some things matter get forgiven but never leave out from under a watchful eye. 

They got married, and tried for a long time to have kids. Nephilim were and still are quite hard to conceive. Let’s just say that cells from the other species have an especially hard to getting to their destination

Around roughly 30 years ago Lelouch and Hadel finally got lucky, and Lelouch became pregnant with Seraras. 

When Seraras was growing up he was smart, athletic, a great flier like his mother before the age of 6. He was very unlike his father while growing up, which only made his parents proud.

When Seraras was seven, Lelouch had wanted to show her son and husband where she came from. Going to Heaven seemed possible because their family was blinded by happiness from the risks. We thought that because both Seraras and Hadel so closely resembled angels, they wouldn’t be caught.

Lelouch took them to Heaven, the Dominion of Charity to see her old home. It had changed greatly but it still felt good to be able to fly around there without fear. Angels grew confused by Hadel’s lack of flying skills, and they were suspicious of a familiar angel suddenly reappearing, but no one caused any trouble. 

They spent days in Heaven, when Seraras suddenly started to mature differently than others Nephilim had. His wings had started to change color. White feathers were moulting from the top of his wings, being replaced by black ones. Many angels took this as a sign of an angel falling and tried to kill him. 

  Lelouch’s family flew from angels all around Heaven before they found a portal home. When they were waiting for a friendly angel spellcaster to make a portal back to Pluto’s Palace, angels ambushed them on their way to meet. 

My… my Hadel had been beheaded, swiftly in a surprise attack that left our son scarred. 

Lelouch was able to flee with Seraras, but her heart grew cold. I never should have put my family at such a risk for such a selfish reason. 

When she got back, she barely spoke, even to her own son. Lelouch didn’t speak until the funeral service that was held for her husband. 

Then she went back to her service as a caretaker, never again having the happiness she once had when her husband was alive. 

Seraras grew up without his father, and a  mother as cold as ice for many years. It was during this time that A’rock had been born, as the two were the closest in age in their community they grew up together as brothers, despite the seven year age difference. 

Lelouch eventually started to become warm towards her son in his teenage years, to try to instill the values and behavior of her and her late husband into Seraras.

A’rock and Seraras had formed their own wills and morals together, making it too late for her to mean a thing. Their own dreams had been set in stone. 

He had become who he was going to be without her. Calm, cool, calculated, and collected… skilled and hardened. 

*****

Lelouch works in her medical facility as Seraras walks in with the body of a Nephilim named Selena, dead from a wound through the stomach.

When she looks up, she’s horrified, to see the body Seraras has brought to her in the dead of night. What he asks of her only makes it worse. “Mother, I need you to stitch and cut up her wound so we can make it look like she was stabbed and not burned the best we can.”

She is shocked to say the least by her son’s request, and how he’s come to her with a lack of compassion and care for the dead body before him.

“Wait, what? What happened to her?” she questions him as he lays the body down for her to inspect. “How did you get here without anyone stopping you?”

Seraras talks her as if he were reading from a textbook. “Selena tried to assassinate A’rock, he killed her, but we can use her body to inspire others to fight, changing the story of how she died. She’ll be a martyr, more than she deserves.” In response to her last question, his cold demeanor breaks for a sly smile. “How I moved this body is a trade secret of mine.”
To smile at something so morbid gives his mother goosebumps, to think that the man before her is her son. “You think this is a game, you think you can just kid?!” Lelouch yells him. “This woman has betrayed us, but she was one of us, and now I’m being asked to fix her up to lie to others. Why Seraras, what is happening?”

Seraras looks his mother with such a cold expression. “This woman tried to stop us from taking the home we deserve, she tried to take my brother’s life away. She failed, her life meant nothing, but if we explain what happened with our story, A’rock will be able to use the humans we’ve collected to make her death mean something.”

“Seraras,” she gasps, “how can you say that her life meant nothing? If A’rock needs to lie to get what he needs, she didn’t die for nothing, she died because she did not believe in him. No one ever truly dies for nothing.” 

She refrains from pinning blame on Seraras, If I had not left Seraras to A’rock’s devices Seraras wouldn’t be the dark being he is now.

Seraras turns to his mother, disagreeing strongly with her belief on death and worth. “Most of us will die for nothing,” he states, so sure of his ideal that it sounds like fact, “it is likely you will die for nothing, like my father.” His words are like a knife plunging into her hardened heart. “Get over it, because if you don’t, this fact will eat away at your soul. Better to empty it now. 

“Now, do what I need of you.”

“I’m sorry I failed you as a mother,” Lelouch apologizes to him, placing her hands on the man she wished she had raised to be better.

His hands grabs her wrists, and pries them from his chest. She looks up at him, with silver eyes of darkness that still shine. “Then don’t fail me now.”

“No, I will not,” she promises, as she takes her touch for herself.

“If you wish to be able to bring your family to someplace beautiful, somewhere where angels don’t kill children for the color of their wings, where there are no screams of pain, do not deny me the dream of a Heaven where Nephilim boys don’t see their fathers beheaded. Do not deny me the home for a family of my own.”

“Can you not achieve this another way, with the truth?”

“Here’s the thing about truth, mother,” Seraras begins to teach her as she should have him, “the truth is never as interesting as your interpretation of it, and thus we must occasionally throw it out for the lies that prove necessary.”

Lelouch looks between her son, and the body of Selena. She wanted such a life for her son, her grandchildren. She knows not of another way to give him what she wants, so she caves. “I’ll do what you need of me.”

“Thank you, mother.”         

*****

Alice has been walking for hours. 

I knows I’m heading in the right direction, and that Laya said Clayton is rather close, but she really has no idea how far he is. That could mean anything! 

The magic compass for all its worth, would be so much more helpful if it could say how far away she is from someone. What if she runs out of food or water before she finds him? Fear starts creeping into her mind that she may not make it in time to find Clayton, and that she may not make it in time to stop A’rock. 

Then she sees a mushroom of sand erupt a mile away, near a rock formation. Then she sees a giant sand scorpion pop out of the sand, screech and charge at the rock. 

She starts working on getting the invisibility cloak out, then she sees a blast of blackfire hit the beast and force it back from the rock formation. Only daemons have the power to use black magic, and so she wonders what black daemon would be out here. Alice becomes so excited at the prospect of seeing her brother that she starts running towards what is most likely a deadly battle. 

*****

Asmodeus, Talon, and Uriel were the first out to fight the beast while Lolara and Saphira got redressed. It didn’t take much time for Talon because he only ever wore pants, and Asmodeus just summoned his clothes back on. 

When the sand scorpion starts charging, Asmodeus sees that it bears some very un-scorpion-like attributes, asides from being bigger than a house. 

Since when do they have giant pincers on the front of their mouths? he questions himself. 

When it charges, it does so pincers first, trying to trap Talon in its clutches. He stops the scorpion’s pincers by grabbing them in motion and holds them like elevator doors. 

As Talon fights for control of the scorpion’s pincers it tries to push him back towards the cave, then Asmodeus comes up behind him and blasts the scorpion in the mouth with blackfire. 

The scorpion recoils back from the two daemons to raise and swing its head as if it had just ate hot sauce. 

Then it readies its tail to stab. 

Asmodeus and Talon both easily side step it, then Talon grabs it and tries to hold it down so it can’t recoil to strike again.

“Attack it now!” Talon calls.

Asmodeus readies a sword of blackfire, but fast and bright like lightning, Uriel blasts down to the ground and separates the tip of the scorpion’s tail from the rest of the limb. 

She follows through and plunges her sword into one of the scorpion’s eyes. 

Now it screams.

Thit! Thit! Thit! Thit! Thit!

That is how it screams, right? Looks like it…  

As it starts flailing it keeps swinging the pincer arms it has yet to utilize. As it swings it whacks Talon, sending him flying into the cave wall with a loud SMACK! on impact. 

“Ow,” he groans. 

Saphira and Lolara exit the cave ready to fight. Saphira summons her own gladius blade, similar to Uriel’s only less majestic and bright. Lolara calls upon her pact with the Wendigo, this black tribal marking appearing and growing around her forearm to give her speed, strength, and claws

I’d break out some big magic spells, but would that alert them to our presence? Only need for one sensory magic user to spot me or Uriel and things change.

When the scorpion starts swinging its arms, its left arm comes at the two of them. Lolara puts Talon over her shoulder, turns, and runs at the arm. 

She jumps and barely flips over the pincher. 

Instead of evading, Saphira readies her blade and lets the scorpion arm impale itself on her sword. It pushes her back some but she stands her ground and holds the arm still. Uriel with lightning speed comes down and amputates the scorpion’s pincer. 

This time green goo starts spraying and Saphira scatters. 

“Be careful of the blood in the pincers! If it touches you it will burn like acid,” Saphira warns.

“What about other parts of the body?” Uriel asks.

“The other parts have barely any fluid in them.”

“Good to know.” 

Asmodeus hears the exchange from up high, and comes up with a spell to end this battle fast. 

I can’t let this continue on. I need something, small but deadly, something that would draw attention… 

His voice grows and thunderous, and he begins to chant, “Let the fire of my heart burn among my exterior, let the fire burn all seen by my eyes, burn it all black and tar!

*****

Alice watches the battle as a spectator, taking the moment to get a good look at the daemon who resembles her brother. The daemon has his wavy dark hair, parted by his black horns. He’s slim and lean like she remembered, but he has most certainly grown up, a man now. 

“No, practically a god now,” she corrects herself when she sees black beams shoot from his eyes as if he’s some dark Superman, and then sees these beams burn the scorpion in half. 

Once the beams cease she can see a smile of pride light up his face. He still has the same boyish smile.  

Alice watches him land and then suck in his appendages as he goes to check on the blue daemon who had been hit earlier. 

Once Alice sees the scorpion stop writhing in pain, she starts running towards the group. 

And then she starts yelling.

“Clayton! Clay!” she calls to him as she runs towards him. He helps the furry blue daemon up and the daemon gives a quick stretch, he seems to be fine. 

Then Clayton turns his head towards the direction of the woman calling his name. “Clayton!”

At first he squints at the woman running towards him, not understanding what is happening, then his eyes go wide.

Alice, doesn’t see it, but he mouths her name before taking off in a sprint. “Alice!” he yells to her. They are running towards each other as fast as they can. 

Alice closes the distance and jumps onto him, wrapping her arms around his neck. Tears running down her face. “Clay!” she cries. He wraps his own arms around her, one on her back, and the other behind her head, holding her ever so close. 

I’ve missed you so much,” he whispers into her ear. She can hear his voice break on the last word, crying too. 

Despite having the power of a god, he drops to his knees taking her down with him, as they just kneel, completely embracing each other.

Alice hears footsteps and sees the rest of her brother’s companions walking over to them, also joined by two children.  

The young boy asks, “Who’s she? Why are they crying?”

The dark haired girl with glasses informs him, “They’re brother and sister, and they haven’t seen each other in over ten years.”

The rest of the companions all look at her absolutely shocked. The blonde Archangel asks, “Asmodeus has a sister?”

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