The House of Asmodeus: A Trial by Fire Chapter 26

“We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.” – Oscar Wilde

TODAY

Coldo crosses his arms as he asks, “Give me one reason why I shouldn’t fight you right now.”

“You mean outside of the fact that I’m a Demon King and easily within the top ten most powerful beings in the multiverse?” Asmodeus tries to kid, but that silver face betrays nothing, there’s not even a hint of a laugh from his bare chest. “You’re one of the types without a sense of humor, aren’t you?” he asks the Crusader.

“No,” Coldo answers him, “it’s more that I see one puer holding his rib and the other puella with a broken arm.”

“Not to interrupt, Coldo,” Axel interrupts, “but your sense of humor isn’t exactly all there.” Everyone turns to look at him. Axel shrinks under the pressure, muttering, “Why the hell does no one appreciate some fucking honesty?”

“And speaking of honesty,” Asmodeus transitions, “your kids attacked us first.”

Beatrix doesn’t hesitate to yell, “He mind controlled Axel!” while stomping towards Coldo, until Asmodea raises her sword in her way. Coldo doesn’t like that.

Coldo moves with the speed of a highborn daemon, but he surprises Asmodeus because he does so while flying without wings. 

The demonkin moves between Gram and Beatrix, the force of his presence forcing the blade back. Coldo doesn’t say a word, he only stares the Reaver of Seduction down as her feet slide across the stone floor. Asmodea can’t hide her surprise as she instinctively holds her blade at the ready, shaking from a chill that hit her out of nowhere. Now she thinks she knows why he’s called Coldo.

“Come here, Axel,” Coldo orders, his arms at his sides, not raising to Asmodea or the Reavers surrounding him and Beatrix. Axel hesitates as Noella’s glare keeps him in place, until Coldo tells him, “The white demoness will not hurt you.”

“And why is that?” Noella asks the demonkin, her hand on Dancing Star’s pommel, ready to cut the fury down with a stab.

Coldo turns his head towards Asmodeus, his helmet making it incredibly hard for Asmodeus to read. I thinks myself a people person after being the King of Lust long enough. I’ve found that a person’s desires can be found through their eyes. The eyes betray everything a person wants, even if they want nothing. After that I can look to a person’s body, the way they carry themselves, where they’re chest is pointed, how they stand. Coldo is a wall, and the only defining thing is that its pointed at Asmodea. 

It doesn’t matter if Coldo is looking at me, that’s the challenge, the threat is my Reaver of Seduction.

Asmodeus turns to Noella and asks her calmly to, “Let the boy go,” but there is no mistake between them and everyone there that it was Coldo’s order. Noella’s hand doesn’t leave her pommel, but her gaze is only for Asmodeus. Her eyes questioning him. 

Noella remembers him telling her that they’re equals as husband and wife, but she didn’t realize that being equals means that she must stow away her pride when he does. 

Axel is hesitant, but after the first step he notices the white demoness’s stare is no longer for him. Axel moves slowly, watching the Reavers from all sides, waiting for the Reavers of Devotion and Sadism to take his injured body down with a flick of their weapons. When his eyes lock with the Reaver of Sadism, she holds an icy glare, and with her usually immaculately done up hair ruined, her eyes gleam underneath her dark strands. Her lips snap into a smile to lick her lips, and Axel stops moving slowly.

This display of power by Coldo, angers Asmodea to no end. She holds Gram towards his chest, and yet, because of assumptions, she’s letting him walk all over her beloved King. Gram feels her rage, and begins to swell. 

Asmodeus tries to pull her back with only a word, “Seduction,” her title, but Asmodea can’t help herself, so Coldo helps himself.

Coldo raises his hand, his cold, blue hand that reminds her of an undead corpse, and he places it slowly on her blade. 

Looking to cut yourself?” she growls.

“No,” he answers, “just borrowing the wind.” The phrase confuses Asmodea, and Asmodeus realizes too late what kind of demonkin Coldo is when his fingertips give off a black gas, and the winds start flowing into the black gas, into Coldo. 

Asmodea tries to tug her sword back but Coldo only tightens his fingers on it, forcing a connection to Gram’s power and syphoning it off. As the Reaver of Seduction pulls, she yells at him, “What are you doing?!

“He’s having a snack,” Beatrix says, mocking her with a giggle. 

Coldo’s touch literally drains the magical power stored inside the legendary sword, as is his power. 

Before Coldo can take too much, Asmodeus is behind Asmodea, his hand wrapping around her’s, and his other around her waist. He wrenches Gram and his Reaver from Coldo’s grip, cutting the Crusader’s palm in the process, but Coldo doesn’t make a sound.

Asmodeus stays between Coldo and Asmodea so that the Crusader is pointed at him. He holds Asmodea close as they both try to understand what they just experienced, neither having experience with demonkins.

Coldo looks at his hand and the black blood that barely oozes out of his skin. He tightens his grip as winds bleed from it, and he uses the power he took to heal. The helmet turns up towards Asmodea, where he can see the fear and shock in her eyes. “We’ve fought together, but it seems like you didn’t pay much attention to me, did you, Reaver?” 

Asmodea tries to gather herself together, which is hard when she’s embraced by her King, and she’s not aching for him to let her go. It’s all in her voice as she hides the tremble and shakiness with her usually sarcastic tone. “Sorry if I didn’t find your punching and kicking all that interesting.”

“Hmph,” is the noise he makes in response. When he opens his fist and reveals that the cut has healed, he admits with a clear chuckle, “I guess a fist to the brain wouldn’t have told you much,” and he raises his hand above his head, causing more winds to swirl, “let me show you a gift Jupiter didn’t give me.”

The Reavers draw their weapons, Azale her twin warhammers, Petra summons lightning to the tip of her umbrella, and Noella’s sword makes a wonderful sounding scrape as she drawns it from its sheath.

Asmodeus matches Coldo’s earlier speed and grabs Coldo’s wrist, warning him that things need not go further with a simple glare. The warning seems to fall on deaf ears as Asmodeus finds himself face to face with Coldo’s helmet, and Coldo’s wrist draining power from out the King’s hand. 

Beatrix ready’s her clawed gauntlet to defend Coldo, but she sees the twitching on Asmodeus’s face and knows it too well.

The King of Lust tries to keep a straight face, but the feeling of having your power ripped from you is more painful than one would think. The worst part to Asmodeus is that Coldo’s helmet still betrays nothing, no matter how close the Demon King is to it.

Coldo tells Asmodeus, “Can I not use my power to get dressed?” Asmodeus is confused, not understanding what the Crusader means until he hears the wind begin to blow in from somewhere else. He hears the snap and crackle of metal hitting things on its way towards him, so Asmodeus releases Coldo and dashes away.

Immediately, pieces of metal start hitting Coldo’s body. While Coldo twists and stretches as they latch to his skin, he makes no grunts or movements of pain. Asmodeus recognizes the armor he saw earlier as they attach to Coldo’s skin, covering his bare chest and arms in the sleek black steel. 

Coldo holds his hand for his right gauntlet, the last piece to slip on. Seeing it all together now, Asmodeus can see the mixture between a Roman breastplate and some godly design. This is a full suit that covers every inch. The demonic touches now only seem to be in the color of the steel, as Asmodeus can’t think of a black metal that looks this naturally dark. 

He wonders if Coldo was a Spartan or a Roman soldier with the outline of his abs in the armor, and they are his abs, Asmodeus can tell considering he just saw the man shirtless.

Coldo flexes his fingers his fingers, as if getting comfortable in them, but Asmodeus would bet that the armor isn’t comfortable at all, and he would be right. Coldo is simply used to it.

“I can assume you came here because you want us to do something for you,” Coldo asks Asmodeus.

Beatrix’s head snaps to her leader, aghast by the insinuation that they may do it. “You can’t possibly be considering working for this asshole?!”

Coldo stops, and turns his head to look down at the fury. “The mark of intelligence is to entertain an idea without accepting it,” paying her a lesson in front of their antagonizers, “or something like that,” and he turns away from her, “I met a Mark Twain who said something like that, I’m sure I butchered it.”

As Asmodeus stands up straighter, he notices Asmodea stepping closer to him, with Gram still pointed at Coldo. The Demon King lays his hand on her sword, and moves it down to her hand. She looks up at him from her fighting stance, and receives an assuring nod that she can be calm. 

She stands up straight, and summons Gram away into the wind. 

Asmodeus asks Coldo, “Does this mean you’re willing to hear me out, or are we about to meet your Northern Fist?”

Coldo turns up his head at Asmodeus, and that’s the first time he’s ever betrayed any kind of true emotion or feeling. That’s good to Asmodeus, even if the feeling is confusion.

Coldo shakes his head and corrects the Demon King. “I do not use the Northern Fist, I am the Northern Fist… not a name a gave myself.” Coldo seems to betray embarrassment in his voice.

Asmodeus crosses his arms as he smirks, happy to hear a more casual statement come from the demonkin’s mouth. He tells Coldo, “We don’t make up our own nicknames, so there’s not much we can do.”

“There is much truth to that,” Coldo agrees as he starts walking forward, not towards but past Asmodeus, with the Bone Twins at his heel. “Come,” he tells Asmodeus with a gesture to follow, “if you want to talk then let us speak at a table, with food.”

“That sounds good,” Asmodeus agrees, and Asmodea’s head snaps to stare at him. “I still need their help,” he reminds her, “so play nice.”

Asmodeus gestures to his approaching Reavers, bidding to them to holster their weapons. They do, though an umbrella is really only holstered so much as it spins around on Petra’s arm.

Noella twirls and sheathes her sword as she walks up to her husband to question him. “You think it wise to have food with him?”

“He can hear you,” Petra reminds her.

Noella’s head snaps to Coldo, stopped and staring straight at her with his arms crossed. “That I can,” he confirms for the Reavers.

“Would you trust you?” Noella asks him. “Is it not your power to drain that of others?”

“Would you trust you,” he counters, “with how you carry yourself in a foreign land, expecting and threatening things of others? I would expect this from a daemon of Pride, but Lust?”

“She’s actually a daughter of Pride,” Axel informs him, Coldo leaning in close to hear him.

“Oh,” Coldo says, “that explains a lot.”

Noella grits her teeth at the comment, until Asmodeus places a hand on her shoulder. He reminds her when she meets his eyes, “Don’t forget why we’re here,” and she only grits her teeth again, only this time in acceptance. 

As Asmodeus steps forward, Azale lays a hand on Noella’s shoulder, comforting her when her husband did not defend her from Coldo’s comment. 

Petra rolls her eyes.

Asmodeus gestures to Coldo, “Please lead the way.”

“Hmm,” Coldo hums before he uncrosses his arms, and begins walking through what remains of a well equipped rebellion. 

Walking through the armory, Noella takes the moment to utilize the mental connection to question her husband. Is there a reason you didn’t defend me? 

Asmodeus glances over his shoulder at his wife, his expression betraying nothing of his thoughts to her. While the insult to Pride was underhanded, Asmodeus admits, don’t tell me you didn’t start it.

Excuse me? Noella nearly snaps at him, angered by the mere insinuation.

Yes, excuse you, Asmodeus mentally snaps at her, drawing a twitch from all who could hear, I’m not quite sure why you’ve forgotten, but I’m trying to appeal to a man who’s not only stronger than me, I’m doing it protect our kingdom, our friends and our family, because in case you’ve forgotten, there’s more at stake than the pride of everyone here.

Azale watches Noella fight from shrinking within herself. It’s rare to see Asmodeus fight with her, especially over something that she’s doing instead of himself. 

Azale tries to tell Asmodeus, Master, I think Mistress is just not used to such things the necessitates she eat her pride.

Neither am I, Asmodeus reminds her, you think it’s easy to hand over all the power to someone else in this room? To need to ask for another man’s help to protect our family? I’m swallowing my pride here because we need someone stronger than me, I’m sorry if I failed to explain that to all of you, that we’re desperate, but we are. I cannot find our enemy, I can’t go to the places he hides, and this demonkin is the only one I know who can, so please bear with me.

The honesty hits each of the Reavers hard, they know that Asmodeus has been stressed out in his hunt for their enemy. They didn’t realize that Coldo was at his last option.

“I didn’t know you were so desperate,” Coldo says, as he leads them to their dinner table. The strange statement freezes Asmodeus in place, wondering if Coldo really did hear everything they just told each other. 

“What?” Axel asks Coldo, as if Coldo spoke without warning. 

“Nothing,” Coldo tells Axel, “I just was just listening to the telepathic conversation they were having.” 

How-” Azale gasps, taken aback much with the others.

Asmodea growls, and Petra moves the back of her hand to her lips to cover up her laughing. “This one’s full of surprises,” she chuckles.

Asmodeus is trying to figure out, when Noella grabs his hand. She looks up at him to remind him, “When you grabbed his hand.” The recent memory flashes before Asmodeus’s eyes, his power flowing into Coldo, the external connection the Northern Fist must have absorbed first. What else does he get asides from power?

Coldo leads them to a rather plain and old wooden table, which is also lit by powerful candles. This is certainly not the fantastical and modern capital of Asmodeus’s Circle, but this time the beings of Lust don’t have the attention to notice. 

Coldo gestures for them to sit, telling them, “Please sit, tell me why you want us to hunt this Nephilim, and I’ll consider it.” He turns to Axel, “Get food we’re going to need it.”

“For them?”

“For your sister after I heal her arm, though yes, them too,” Coldo answers, and holds his hand out to Beatrix. “I need you to raise it.” Beatrix grimaces as her broken arm makes a fist. “You should really stop breaking it back into place,” Coldo comments to her.

“I needed a temporary fix.”

“And now I have to prevent a long time problem,” Coldo tells her, sitting down at the head on the wooden chair. When he sits, Beatrix feels comfortable sitting, but not after giving each of the denizens of Lust a harsh glare.

Petra is the first to take a seat, smirking, appearing rather taken and impressed with Coldo. There’s something about him that appeals to her fetish for Sadism. 

When she sits on the table, not the chair, with her legs crossed, she’s more at home than anyone else in the room.

The others take their seats, Asmodeus at the opposite head, Asmodea to his right, Noella to his left, and Azale between her Mistress and the Reaver of Sadism. Asmodeus notices the interest in Petra’s eyes, which means she’ll be more careful with her words than anyone else. He can’t help but interested in where she goes.

“So are you going to fix her arm, are you going to take her pain for yourself?” Petra asks.

“He can’t do that,” Beatrix answers for him, her quick snap and sharp tone aiming to make Petra sound like an idiot.

“Actually, I can,” Coldo corrects, shocking her, “and I have,” he goes even further, putting a smile on Sadism’s face. 

Awareness dawns on Beatrix, and the fury tries to wrench her arm away but Coldo doesn’t let her. Instead, he lets her hurt herself again. She tells him, “I never would have let you heal me if I knew you it was hurting you.”

“That’s why I never told you,” Coldo admits.

“Then why tell me now, in front of strangers,” Beatrix questions, guilt rising in her as Coldo’s hand massages her own and the cool steel of his fingers runs up her arm, searching for the break. 

Coldo answers her question in two ways. “First, because it never came up, I wouldn’t lie to you if you had asked, but… I also wanted said strangers to know,” and with a turn of his head towards Asmodeus, “we are not all what we appear to be,” and with Asmodea’s power flowing from his hand, “or what we are called.” 

His words go a long way to Asmodeus, and his Reavers. Despite the fact that there is the threat of violence between them, as much as it has lessened, there is also the possibility of peace. It’s the dichotomy that rulers such as Asmodeus always play with. Why and how Coldo seems to understand that, makes Asmodeus want to know his real name more than anything. Coldo is not the name of a Roman. 

“Don’t take my pain for yourself,” Beatrix asks of Coldo, trying to pull back on the hostility and aggression.

“I’m not, I’m using the power I took from Sigmund’s blade, I figured it was ironic for the weapon that hurt you to be the source that heals you. It’s energy is all over you.” Asmodea smirks as she grinds her teeth, both uncomfortable and unamused by the information. “That also means this is going to hurt.”

Beatrix’s brow narrows with her fierce determination. “I can handle it,” she truly believes that.

“You little fool,” Petra calls her, and then the power flows into Beatrix. 

Creak! Crack!

To her credit, Beatrix only hissed as the winds began forcing her bones back into place, and proceeded to keep from screaming as they rebroke a few bones that begun to heal wrong. The Crusader’s other arm clutches the table, her claws digging into it.

“Don’t scratch his table,” Petra tells her, gaining a nasty look from Beatrix, but making Coldo chuckle. 

Beatrix squeezes her fist, digs her talons into her palm, and forces them to bleed. 

Asmodeus feels for her, having gone through a few broken bones himself, so he offers, “I can harness the bone elemental to help her.”

“No,” Coldo answers for her because she can’t speak right now, “and she wouldn’t accept it.” Beatrix confirms it with the nasty look in her eye.

“I see you guys got started without me,” Axel chimes, as if his sister being in immense pain wasn’t a big deal. As he carried a basket of fruit, the only things the capital of Wrath grow, he comments, “If only you had finished without me either.”

“Give her an apple already,” Coldo tells him. Axel shakes his head, knowing how the fruit is going to be wasted, and picks a blue apple-shaped fruit to toss to his sister. Beatrix catches it, takes a bite out of it, and crushes it in her hand, holding of a mushy apple.

Petra didn’t hesitate to have a water spell up to shield from the apple debris, and the fact that she remains clean allowed her to laugh. “You Wrath daemons are always trying to seem so tough.

“It also helps to have something else to focus on,” Coldo tells her, “like taste,” and to Asmodeus, “or someone else’s pain.” Asmodeus is confused by the question, so Coldo explains to him. “You didn’t think about the Nephilim once,” Coldo tells him, “and from the memories you fed into me you need a rest from it. Beatrix’s pain is quite distracting,” and as the winds stop flowing from his hands, “but it is always over before it begins.”

Sweat drips down Beatrix’s face, but outside of a curl of her arm, she tries to pretend that nothing is wrong as she slurps up what’s left her blue apple.

Coldo watches her closely for a few seconds, no doubt to assure himself that she isn’t going to pass out.

He turns back to Asmodeus as Axel sits down besides him, the two sides of the table made and set. “You called yourself one of the most powerful beings in the multiverse, but then said that you believe I’m stronger,” Coldo starts. “Now I don’t know if there’s much truth to that. I just think that my ability simply allows me to take on stronger enemies, but as I stated, I don’t know. I hold neither the wisdom of Minerva nor the eyes of Jupiter, and I have no desire to put that to the test.”

“What do you know?” Noella asks him, holding her prideful tone.

“I know this,” Coldo answers her, “that a long time ago I learned that most men who think they’re gods are men who just think too highly of themselves.”

Asmodeus smirks. “Is that supposed to be a bite at me?”

“If you want it to be, but I was referring to this man who threatens your family and your kingdom.” Coldo gestures to himself and the Bone Twins, “You should know, the Crusaders don’t take up any task on the foundation of money, we take payment, but we don’t do what we do to build a fortune.”

“I have heard that, I respect that.”

“That said, that doesn’t mean we will take up any task, only tasks that will amount to the greater good. That means that despite the animosity between the people at the table here, if the Circle of Lust and its people are being threatened, not just their King, you’ll have our help.”

The more Coldo talks, the more I like him, and the more Petra wants to know him. 

But Azale is a bit lost. She questions him, “What is that you want us to do, to prove to you that we need your help?”

“To prove…” the leader of the Crusaders repeats. Coldo gestures to Asmodeus in response. “I’m asking him to do what he does best, talk.

Asmodeus chuckles at that. “It’s best to start with the last war, you know the one?”

“I was there,” Coldo assures him.

“Then you would have seen him, he was the one who took on Michael and Lucifina at once.” That statement makes Coldo grumble, and lean back from the table. He remembers this Nephilim, he saw him with his own eyes. 

“Some men have a cruel step in their walk,” Coldo states, “and that fits him.”

“Yeah well-”

“And while you’re at it,” Coldo interrupts him, “you can explain to me what happened to the King of Lust.”

Asmodeus grumbles, again denying nor confirming anything. 

“Men don’t survive what hit him,” Coldo states.

Asmodeus tells him, “I agree, Asmodeus didn’t.”

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