The House of Asmodeus: A Trial by Fire Chapter 24

“Every parting is a form of death, as every reunion is a type of heaven.” – Tryon Edwards

“Ah, like an adopted sister?” Talon asks.

“No, we’re related by blood,” Alice replies.

“Half siblings?” he asks this time. 

“Nope, we’re 100% brother and sister, same parents,” Asmodeus assures him. “Also, this goes without saying, this absolutely stays between us.” Asmodeus doesn’t need to threaten anyone, the threat is implied.

Everyone but Lolara looks confused while looking at Asmodeus and Alice, who is sitting behind him with her arms wrapped him and her chin on his head.

“It’s been almost 15 years since I last hugged you,” Alice tells him.

“What?” Asmodeus asks confused. “It’s been around 10 years for me.”

Lolara reminds him, “This realm, the earths, and the Circle of Lust aren’t all on the same time tables, remember?”

Asmodeus just shakes his head, the science of these worlds are always confusing to him.

Alice takes a gander of her brother’s band of warriors. “Clay, aren’t you going to introduce me?” 

“Hmm? Oh yeah, you have no idea who anyone is.” First, he went to Lolara, gesturing his hand as if to present her. “This is Lolara, I and only I call her Lo. You met her when we were little in case you remember.” 

“The girl who played with frogs who claimed to be a witch?” Alice guesses.

Lolara wags her finger at her, “I wasn’t lying.

“She’s pretty much my only friend from my time on Earth, and my Reaver of Aphrodisia now,” Asmodeus continues. “Do you know what a Reaver is?” 

Alice nods her head. 

Abe becomes confused again. 

“Okay great, hate to explain that. When I eventually needed to leave because my daemon side was showing up she reminded me that she was a badass witch and came with me to the Circle of Lust. She’s been by my side ever since.”

“It’s nice to meet you again.” Alice gets up from behind Asmodeus and moves her hands nervously behind her back to a friend’s family for the first time.

“You too,” Lolara says as she waves to her, “I’ve been wanting to meet Clay’s sister after he reminded you existed last week.”

Alice turns to Asmodeus confused. “You only talked about your sister last week?”

“I don’t really like to dwell on my sad past,” Asmodeus admits, scratching his head as he informs her, “I was told you were dead, and all, so I didn’t really want to talk about it, not even with my wife.”

Alice’s eyes go wide. “You have a wife?!” she exclaims.

“Yeah, her name is Noella,” he tells her as if it isn’t a big deal, “the last King of Lust arranged a marriage for me with her because she was my age, and a daughter of the Queen of Pride.”

Lolara adds, “She can be kind of clingy and annoyingly devoted to him but really she’s something to behold. She’s an excellent leader of Asmodeus’s harem.” 

Lolara thinks thinks it funny to embarrass me, the evil witch.

“Stop calling you guys that!” he yells at the witch, not even angry that she just told his sister that he has multiple romantic partners.

Lolara just mouths, ‘No.

Alice just shakes her head in confusion. “Whelp, that’s a shocking thing to hear, I just heard that I missed my little brother’s wedding and that he has a bunch of other ladies waiting for him at home.”
“Is it really shocking though?” Uriel adds with a crease in her brow. She points out, “He is the King of Lust, it’s kind of his thing to annoyingly fuck every woman he sees.”

“That is not how I work, you know that!” Asmodeus yells, jabbing his finger in her direction. “I usually only stick to the five women and on a occasion one or two dudes!” and upon saying that, he’s reminded of how ridiculous it sounds. He turns to Alice to try and save himself because that sentence did not sound good coming out of his mouth. “But I love each one equally, we’re not just fucking!”

“Oh gee, I can rest easy now knowing that you love me!” Lolara jokes, feigning a hand to her forehead. 

She just wants to torture me.

“Not. Helping,” he mutters.

“Oh, so she’s part of the harem, should’ve seen that one coming,” Alice murmurs, utterly bewildered.

Uriel introduces herself to change the cringeworthy topic of conversation, offering her hand. “I’m Uriel, the Archangel of Chastity.”

“I figured you were an Archangel,” Alice tells her, but holds her hand rather close to her chest, hesitant to take Uriel’s hand, “I can feel it by your presence, but Chastity is the opposite of Lust, shouldn’t you hate my brother?”

Uriel scowls for some reason, moving her hand to her chest as if offended, but Asmodeus doesn’t catch it. 

No!” she exclaims, coming on rather strong like she got caught saying something she shouldn’t have, “I find him to be an ally in this time of change, and my position necessitates that I put aside such simple and silly conflict.” 

“You were trying to kill me less than a month ago,” Asmodeus adds.

“And times have changed, you know, let’s move on,” and she crosses her arms as she points to her two Cherubim, “these two useless weights are Amy and Abe, my choices of companions. They didn’t do anything to help with that sand scorpion.”

Amy shrugs at Uriel. “Didn’t look like you needed help,” she tries to compliment, “and shouldn’t we save our awesome power for a real fight?” 

Uriel’s cold stare doesn’t change for a second. “Uh huh, sure,” she grumbles, and then she mutters, “should have left you at home.”

“That hurts!” Abe yells, feigning a shot to the heart. “Wait and see, you’ll take that back.”

“Better make me. And these two are-”

“We’re already acquainted,” Talon interrupts, “everyone knows A’rock’s wife.”

Now Asmodeus is shocked. “I guess someone else also got married without telling their sibling.”

“Not my greatest decision in hindsight,” Alice admits as she presses her hand to her forehead, “but things were very different when we first met. We had to run away here so the angels didn’t find out about us. He was very different then, and even after the few years when Laya was young.”

Uriel gets impatient with all of the catching up and finally asks Alice, “Why are you here, in the desert? I know we were catching up but we have other things to do. It’s also seems as if you knew we were coming.”

“It’s because I did,” Alice answers, “I came to warn you of what is happening back home, and how you have to get around it.” Alice then explains what A’rock is planning to incite with the death of Selena, and telling them that no one knows how he plans to use the humans he’s holding captive.

Talon can’t believe A’rock would lie about Selena in such a way. “This has to be bullshit!” the Envy daemons says. “A’rock wouldn’t lie to us like that, he’s been defending us since the day he was born. He knows we trust him, he’s earned it!” 

Talon points his finger accusingly at Alice, “You’re the only one who doesn’t trust him, you’re the one who’s always undermining him, whether it’s about his decisions or being with his own daughter! You’re supposed to be his wife, standing by his side but all you’ve done is be a backstabbing bitch!” 

“Tal!” Saphira yells at him. 

Asmodeus is quick to grab the blue demon by the neck, full-on daemon appendages in tow, and gets right his face. “Listen to me, and listen good, if you ever speak to her like that again I’ll personally break all your goddamn teeth.” 

“This brings me back to our high school days,” Lolara muses, unfazed by Asmodeus threatening Talon with violence.

Saphira goes to grab Asmodeus’s arm, but Uriel sidesteps her. “You don’t want to get in the middle of that,” she warns her angel, “just tell Talon to apologize before Asmodeus crushes his windpipe.”

“King of Lust, please let him go!” Saphira pleads, appearing small, capable of only begging and pleading against the likes of Asmodeus and Uriel. “Tal, just apologize!”

“No!” he croaks under Asmodeus’s grasp. Asmodeus then tightens his grip.

Asmodeus tells the choking lemure, “A’rock is a beast with crimes to answer to, but I was going to let him go unpunished so your people could have your leader, but now I’m not so sure. Alice doesn’t have to explain herself about a man’s whose first recourse is to give his people what they want through fire and blood. Tell me, was negotiation, truth or peace ever an option with him, or did A’rock always want blood?” 

“You- Ack!- don’t understand him yet,” Talon pleads, so Asmodeus squeezes Talon’s neck even harder as his blue feet dangle off the ground. “Okay, okay! I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have called you anything!” Asmodeus releases Talon’s neck and lets him drop to the ground to rub his throat. Saphira is quick to his side.

Alice just looks on bewildered as to how protective Asmodeus is. She makes a move as if she is going to say something, but then Asmodeus looks her way with this look of concern. “You don’t have to stand up for me like that, Clay, this is generally how I’m thought of in my community.”

“Then when this over you and Laya will come to my home in the Circle of Lust,” Asmodeus states without hesitation, and it makes his sister smile.

Saphira overhears this and warns him, “If you think A’rock will just let someone take his little girl away you’re going to have a problem, who are you to decide on whether or not a parent sees their child?”

Most would cave to such a question, but Asmodeus has a response ready. “A man who is willing to sacrifice thousands of innocents for what he wants is no good man. A leader who would chose war over peace is no good leader. And a father who cannot be trusted by the mother of his own child, is pretty likely not to be the best role model for said child.”

Lolara adds, “Yeah, like how good can this guy be for anyone if he’s convincing his own people to kidnap, slaughter, and steal from people.” 

Talon has regained his breath and is prepared to defend A’rock. “You don’t know, you don’t understand, what it’s like to hide from the rest of the worlds, to not be who you truly are. A’rock believes that he can give us that.”

“But is it truly worth the cost of so many innocents?” Uriel asks. “If that is the cost you are willing to pay, who is to say that you even deserve it?”

Aargh! You just don’t get it, you don’t understand!” the Envy daemon claims. “You were born with everything! There’s nothing you’ve had to give up!”

Asmodeus interjects, “Don’t understand what? What it’s like to feel alone? Trapped? Forgotten? Or maybe you mean the feeling of no way out? I’ve felt these things, I grew up alone as orphan, without anyone’s guidance or support until about a year ago. Society threw me to the side, not knowing what to do with me, not supporting or trusting in me. They all left me to my own devices, always threatening to lock me up away somewhere dark and cold if I ever went out of line. I may not have a complete understanding of your lot in life, but I believe that I have an inkling as to what it means to want a real home.

Saphira turns away from Asmodeus to place a hand upon Talon’s face. “Tal, I do not think they are wrong about what we have been doing to humans. I wonder constantly about what has given us the right to go out and do such horrid things to people. How are we still good if we cause harm to the innocent like this?”

“Saphira, a real home is what we deserve, not the ruins we live in,” Talon repeats, sounding more and more desperate every time he says it. “Before yesterday we had no other option. Why should we put mortals above ourselves? With their short and wasted lives?”

“They are not wasted, Tal,” she tells, growing disappointed with her husband’s dismissal of life, no matter how short, “it is because their lives are so short, that they are beings of action. You know this, if we do this to them, the rest will find out, and they will center their short lives to working very hard to see our destruction. While they are still weak and small as individuals, together they tend to outshine Virtue and Sin, with the worlds in between.”

Talon dips his head, he recognizes the truth to her words. “I just… I just want… no, I need something more for us, something that everyone else gets to have, but for some reason we don’t.

Asmodeus kneels down by Talon. “You can have what you desire,” he reminds him, “you can get what you deserve, without standing beside A’rock. Help me convince the others, help me stop this, and you’ll be able to live out in the open with the love of your life just like everyone else.” Then he stands up and holds out his hand to the furry lemure of Envy. 

Talon looks at it for a few seconds, to contemplate, and then he takes it and Asmodeus lifts him up. 

Asmodeus smiles at him, and then turns to the group. “Uriel’s right, we don’t have much time left, we should hurry before it is too late.” They nods their heads in agreement and start heading the way Alice came, with a little more speed in their running.

Asmodeus carries Alice in his arms to save time as he leads the pack. Saphira is second with Amy on her back and Talon follows her with Abe on his shoulders. Lolara and Uriel bring up the back.

Lolara turns to Uriel as they run and fly alongside each other. She has an uneasy feeling. “I’ve been wanting ask something, but with what just happened with Talon and Asmodeus I thought it better to save it for later.” 

“What did you want to speak about?” Uriel asks.

“It’s just that there’s something I noticed was never mentioned.”

“What?”

Lolara pushes her glasses farther up her face for what she’s going to say, the light catching her glasses and turns them blank, as if there are no eyes behind them. “Alice never mentioned how she even found us, or how she knew we were coming. Not only that, she had definitely prepared ahead time, just look at her human clothes. She didn’t get that herself, I highly doubt she’s been back to her home universe, so someone else must have gotten it for her. Then who else knows about her relationship to Clay, or Asmodeus, and how did they come by this information. Why help Alice or him?”

“These are most certainly questions that need answering,” Uriel agrees before complimenting, “very perceptive of you.”

“Thanks, I try,” she jokes, “but let’s not worry about it for now, we should just be prepared for any surprises, and be careful about who we can trust.”

“Agreed.” 

With that Uriel and Lolara make a point to catch up with the rest of the pack.   

*****

“Dotor, has Cavill appeared around the palace with Asmodeus yet?” Noella asks him.

“He should be doing so now, my liege.” Dotor has started referring to her as such, which she appreciates, ever since Asmodeus had made the point to say that she was a leader of their Circle. 

And after Cavill’s words about not really being able to protect his King, he can most certainly protect and serve his Queen.

“Good, has Rediac reported any hirings of the Radians from any of the three warring Demon King?” 

Clang! 

The sound rings throughout the courtyard as Noella’s rapier clashes with Azale’s hammer. 

What can I say, I’m a multi-tasker, Noella tells herself. She carries out business in her kingdom as she hones her fighting skills with Azale. She needs to become stronger, strong enough to prove to Cavill and especially Asmodeus that trying to protect him is not redundant.

So Noella and Azale competitively spar as Dotor goes over his report to Noella.

“The Radians received offers from the Demon King of Wrath, but to respect Asmodeus’s wishes Rediac denied Satan this request,” Dotor informs her, standing stout with his arm behind his back. “He did mention that he cannot control any individuals who try to volunteer, particularly those in the Circle of Wrath, but he’ll do his best.”

“It’s to be expected. Remind me to send him a thank you letter,” she grunts as she ducks under Azale’s swing, and stabs upward, her blade getting between Azale’s breastplate and her tunic, slicing it off. As soon as she does that she evades away as to not get struck by Azale’s swing. “Mother says loyalty is bred through thanks, to appreciate someone for their work is to increase their ego.”

“Or pride,” Azale adds, always dutifully listening to her Mistress.

“Exactly.” Noella has noticed when Azale turns around that she has not only cut off Azale’s breastplate, but also slashed her tunic and made a moving flap under her chest. “Want to fix that Azale?”

“I would not get the chance to do so in battle, I shouldn’t allow it to distract me now,” the Reaver of Devotion states. Noella won’t argue with that logic, as distracting as she finds it. “I can let it distract you.”

Noella’s lips curve into a bemused smile.

“Alright, let’s continue.”

“Still sparring I see!” Asmodea beams as she enters the terrace where the fight is taking place.

Dotor has finished with his report. “If there is nothing else my liege, I would wish to continue notifying the district leaders should Asmodeus return and require his armies.”

“You may do so, Dotor, thank you,” Noella grunts as she dodges a swing of the warhammer. Dotor bows his head and starts to leave the way Asmodea came.

“Seduction, don’t start anything please,” Dotor asks of her as they pass. 

“No promises!” Asmodea laughs. When Dotor’s expression grows meek, she says, “Don’t worry, Maturity, you’re so uptight. Let loose, being so serious all the time leads to early deaths in humans, you don’t want to be the first daemon to say the same.”

Dotor shakes his head as he walks off the terrace.

“Azale, why don’t you take a break, get yourself a new shirt, I would be happy to spar with Noella,” Asmodea offers. 

It can be admirable to train so hard, but also somewhat redundant to fight the same person over and over again. Unless you have no other equals and you’re both the very best, you eventually stop learning how to fight better and only learn how to fight one person better, which is ineffective in the long run.

“I don’t need a break,” Azale states as she swings her warhammers, “I will continue until the Mistress does not wish to continue.” 

“Well, maybe I want to train with Noella too. It’d be a change of pace, you two aren’t going to get much from practicing if you only fight the same kind of fighter.”

Both of the two other women ponder this. “Okay Reaver,” Noella states as she floats back down to the ground. As Azale floats out of the way, Noella transitions into a fencer’s stance, and challenges Asmodea. “Why don’t you show me what you’re made of.”

A sly smile comes across Asmodea’s lips. “Fantastic!” Asmodea summons her giant sword, revealing to Noella the new trick she’s learned. When Gram forms in her hand as a gust of wind, Noella’s eyes betray her surprise. 

When Azale instinctively claps applause for Asmodea, Noella only glares.

“Is that it?” the Queen challenges.

The Reaver readies her giant sword, promising, “Oh no, there’s much more.”

Noella and Asmodea both hold two extremely powerful weapons. Asmodea’s is Gram, the sword of Sigmund, a soul weapon fueled by the incarnations of it across the multiverse. Not to mention that the sword was used by a legendary Pagan hero.

Noella’s blade holds a collection of a spirits, infused into it by her mother as a wedding gift, where Noella named it the Dancing Star. It’s made of pure Aethean steel, by one of the best blacksmiths Lucifina could find.

If it’s any surprise, Asmodea had to hide a snort when she heard the name. 

Asmodea holds Gram towards Noella, who prepares herself in her famed 1000-Cuts stance.

Noella flaps her white wings to send herself flurrying towards Asmodea, her arm recoiled, ready to unleash an onslaught of stabs. Asmodea quickly goes on the defensive by swinging her blade to unleash several gusts of wind at Noella.

Noella leaps over the gusts of wind, stopping herself mid-air to hover at a downwards angle. 

She taunts Asmodea’s attempt at defense with a wink.

 Then quickly propels herself at Asmodea, going in for a direct stab. 

Asmodea quickly brings her sword up, holding it like a staff to block Noella’s blade with the flat part of her own, an effective and difficult maneuver to pull off. It stops Noella’s momentum cold. 

“Want to try that again, princess?” Asmodea taunts her back, seeing her face just above her sword. 

Noella does return a smirk. “That’s Queen to you.”

Noella propels herself backwards in the air to get away from Asmodea. Asmodea follows with more sharp gusts of wind which Noella descends to dodge. She’s so close to being hit that the wind cuts off the tip of Noella’s ponytail.     

When Noella touches the ground she makes a mad dash at Asmodea again, trying to get inside her swinging space before Asmodea can throw more wind at her. 

Noella is on the Reaver in seconds, with Seduction swatting away a stab through the chest, receiving a cut across her forearm instead. 

Azale gasps as the sight of Asmodea’s blood.

“Be careful,” Noella taunts Asmodea as the Reaver tries to fly up and away. Noella reels her arm back to stab again, warning Asmodea, “You’re making Azale worry.” 

“I do not appreciate being a part of your taunts, Mistress!” Azale yells at them both, garnering a life from both sparring partners.

Asmodea is able to swing her sword at the right angle and deflect Noella’s next stab, but Noella goes to stab her again, getting the red succubus in the shoulder. 

“Do you want to stop?!” Noella asks Asmodea.

“Just when you’re getting good?” Asmodeus taunts in response.

Asmodea swings her sword again and Noella bends backwards to dodge the blade. She twirls like a ballerina pivots, and launches her blade straight above her head to stab Asmodea in the thigh.

Asmodea can’t keep up with Noella up close, and needs to get away if she is going to win this fight. 

The Reaver does something risky by summoning power through her blade, chaotically causing gusts of wind to shoot out in all directions and sizes. One small gust cuts a thin line across Asmodea’s cheek, and two gusts sliced Noella’s sword hand and arm, causing her to drop her sword to the ground. 

Noella holds her bleeding hand close, and looks between the Reaver of Seduction and her sword. This is Asmodea’s chance to turn the duel around. I won’t allow it. 

Noella shoots towards her sword and Asmodea flies to intersect. Just as Noella is about to pick up Dancing Star Asmodea collides with her, knocking her to the ground. 

Asmodea and Noella struggle for a few seconds but Asmodea gets her sword up to Noella’s throat. 

Submit!” the Reaver commands.

Noella struggles some more, but ultimately she stops squirming and admits defeat. Asmodea lays her own sword to the side as she gets off of Noella’s chest, straddling the Queen at this point.

Goddamnit.

“You got lucky with that trick, could just of easily taken yourself out!” Noella spits, figuratively and then literally onto the ground.

“That’s true, but as our cutie say, all’s fair in love and war,” Asmodea responds all sly-like.

“What the hell?!” someone yells out.

Asmodea and Noella turn their heads to see their audience. 

Zazriel is looking at them clearly dismayed by what had just went on. “You guys are fighting already? Isn’t that the one thing Asmodeus asked you two not to do?!”

Noella and Asmodea look at each other, thinking on the fact that she’s right, then they realize something. Who cares what he asked, it’s the end of the world, so they both start laughing on the ground. 

Zazriel crosses her arms and rolls her eyes at them, the duo acts of cynicism. 

When they’re done laughing Azale asks Zazriel, “Is there something you needed, Zaze?”

Zazriel still looks annoyed as she informs them, “Noella, your mother had sent word for you and Petra to join her and Michael, are you going to take her up on the offer?”

“That’s stupid,” Asmodea chuckles as she leans down to rub her cheek against Asmodea’s, “that would be putting our dear Queen in the line fire, probably even more so than Clay.”

“Afraid someone will take me out before you?” Noella asks as Asmodea wraps her arms around her neck.

“I’d kill you if you fell to someone other than me, only I can beat you up,” Asmodea says, giving Noella many pecks on her cheek. 

“Oh, you better hope I come back then.”

Asmodea is legitimately shocked. She stops kissing Noella to sit back up with genuine concern. “Wait, are you serious? Better yet, are you crazy,” she questions, “you’ll probably be standing right next to a battlefield, alongside Michael, the Archangel, the one you were afraid of sending Asmodeus to.”

“I’ll have my mother to protect me,” Noella assures her as she pats the dirt off her arms and slips out from under Asmodea.

Azale adds, “And me too, Mistress?”

Noella smiles at her. “Who else would put Michael in a good mood?” That makes the fallen angel smile.

As Noella stands and sheathes her sword, she begins walking towards Zazriel to leave, and Asmodea catches up with her. “If you go and you die with Clay,” Asmodea begins to ask her, in a selfless effort to change her mind, “then who do you think you’re leaving in charge?”

Noella stops, and ponders the good question. She looks Asmodea up and down before she replies, “You I supposed.” 

As the Reaver of Seduction is doubly shocked, Noella capitalizes on the chance by commenting, “Scary thought isn’t?” and leaves the Reaver standing there. 

As she walks past the giggling Reaver of Desire, Zazriel says, “She’ll be thinking about that for a long time.”

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