The House of Asmodeus: A Trial by Fire Chapter 29

“You may all go to Hell, and I will go to Texas.” – Davy Crockett

A’rock is quickly making his way below the castle to the secret dungeons, where he’ll wait for Seraras and move out before anyone thinks to come after him there. 

A’rock had lost his mind a little back in the auditorium. His mind races back and forth, thoughts coming so sporadically that they come out his mouth. 

“How could they betray me for some spiny twig like him? Why did Laya? I’ve been working towards this for years now, for them. Everyone knew what I was going to do, everyone was fine with it before now. It’s like it was okay before they actually had to sacrifice something, the spineless fuckers… they expected me to carry them through everything, no more.

He decides then, The power is for myself now, the world for myself. Then I’ll take back my wife, and my child, and they’ll all see. 

A’rock kicks open the door to the dungeons and enters. He interrupts Seraras weaving a portal, and A’rock is flabbergasted to see that his friend had gotten here first. 

Seraras turns around to see his distressed friend trudge over to him. “Are you being chased?” he asks. 

“No,” A’rock replies.

“Was the door locked?” Seraras asks.

“I don’t know.”

“So what reason could you possibly have for breaking the door?”

“I was angry,” A’rock growls. 

“What do you have to be angry about? The helmet is fueled by the souls of humans, it’ll summon your undead, indestructible army. Half the Archangels and Demon Kings are killing each other as we speak, and when I left our people were on the knife’s edge, ready to follow us into hell. Did Alice come back and throw a quality insult towards your way or something?” 

“Here’s the thing, smartass,” A’rock starts informing him, “apparently the King of Lust has this goddamn utopia he wants to give everyone, god knows why, and our people betrayed me after your undead daddy scared the shit out of everyone!” 

With a mocking shrug of his shoulders, A’rock rants, “Oh, and now no one trusts me, and oh, the bitch of Chastity made me lose my cool and almost blow this place sky high!” A’rock is fuming by the time he finishes his run on sentence.

Seraras somehow has managed to catch and understand what A’rock had just said. “This is bad,” Seraras grumbles, “I shouldn’t have let you show them Hadel before we had tested him in the field, and letting you bind yourself to the Helm was dumb. Of course, the many souls would boost your powers exponentially,” seemingly begrudging himself. “That explosion I felt was you, I assume.”

A’rock responds to Seraras’s statements in the opposite order they were mentioned. “First off, you should know that if my blast hadn’t been thrown off by some freakazoid kids, I would have practically nuked this place. Secondly, you should have known about that kind of effect, you’re supposed to be the goddamn expert! And lastly, how else are we going to convince anyone of victory without an example from our army, there wasn’t any time to waste before the King of Lust got here!”

“Nothing we can do about it now,” Seraras concedes, rather casually, annoying A’rock. Then with more confusion than concern he asks, “What do we do now?”

“Now we take the world for ourselves, we still have the power of Pluto’s Helm, and if we go help our ally before he finds out about our fall from grace, we may just be able to put a serious dent into the only two factions who have any chance of stopping us.”

“You and me versus the world?” Seraras asks, a sly grin growing over his face.

“What else is there left to do besides kill everyone who’s fucked us over?” A’rock asks him, a smile of his own growing to match. “We have no family, friends, or comrades left, and we probably won’t have any at all by the end of the week. We can force them to follow us by leaving them no choice, then when they need us, when they have nothing left and the leaders who offered to help abandon them as they always have, we’ll say no.

Seraras takes a moment to pause and look down at the ground. He tells A’rock, “I got nothing else planned in the morning, give me a few minutes to change the portal destinations, and we’ll be overseeing what’s going to be the shortest war between angels and daemons.”

“Excellent.”

*****

“We’ll find A’rock later, Asmodeus, what do we do about him?!” Lolara yells as she points at the undead Nephilim, who is slowly rising as she stands next to Asmodeus.

“Does anyone know how to kill it?” Asmodeus asks the crowd.

David speaks up about the nature of the undead specimen. “During the war with the Pagan Gods, Pluto’s Helm of Darkness held us back by creating an immortal legion. The only worthwhile attacks we had to delay their reconstruction was to disable combatants through decapitation and amputation, then freezing them to stop them from regenerating.”

“Works for me,” Uriel says as she shrugs then attacks, and lunges to behead the zombie warrior. The undead Nephilim named Hadel, dodges the first slash, taking a cut across the chest, and when Uriel slashes again Hadel somehow catches the back of her wrist, stopping her cold. 

Uriel cannot wrest her arm free from his grip and takes a solid left hook across her chin. Quickly, she drops her sword from her right hand and catches it in her left to separate undead Hadel’s hand from his body once again. 

Before Hadel can react, a demonic lance has been thrown and lodges itself in the Nephilim’s neck. Jessibana then grabs the handle end of the lance and swings hard to the right, spraying blood and pieces of bone across the floor. She’s left Hadel’s head hanging on to his body by a flap of skin.

Uriel turns to Jessibana as the nephilim nods to her, and then Uriel cuts the tiny flap of skin, severing Hadel’s head from his body. “Asmodeus! Can you freeze him?”

Asmodeus has already summoned the elemental compound of ice into his right hand. “Way ahead of ya,” he assures her. He starts chanting a spell to create a solid block of ice around the separated pieces of Hadel. “Frigidus cor meum, os frigus, frigus animarum.” 

Snow forms under Hadel’s body and as it rises from the ground, solid ice appears in its wake. A cloud of snow takes a vertical body scan that encases Hadel. His boyd is trapped but his blood is seeping through the ice and making contact between Hadel’s head, body and severed hand. The spell will last for a long time, but it is inevitable that this creature will eventually be free again.

“If this is what we have to face, we will need all the armies of Heaven and Hell just to hold them back,” Uriel rambles, with a clear hint of fear in her voice. She has never seen or heard of an enemy like the one before her during her tenure as the Archangel of Chastity. He was not hard to dispatch, but impossible to kill, and no matter how strong she may be, or weak an undead soldier will be, something that is unkillable has an infinitely longer ability to keep on fighting than even an Archangel.

Old Ticket has regained his posture, and is having a hard time breathing. The illness that caused him to age exponentially fast for a daemon, has left his body unable to effectively handle the excitement around him or the exertion he is completing. 

“Oh my Lord Asmodeus, and Archangel Uriel, please do not let A’rock and his actions take away from these people,” he begs them as he lays himself down at their feet. 

The main motivation for Asmodeus and Uriel to come was to offer peace and negotiate for the release of the innocent humans they had captured. Now that they both have every reason to believe that all the humans are dead, what reason does Asmodeus or Uriel have to offer this community anything?

Uriel speaks first. “I came here to save the lives of those people, and A’rock said he has killed them. This makes most of you, if not all, accomplices to mass murder. I don’t know how I can possibly convince the other Archangels to help you when I cannot convince myself. This action will be unforgivable.”

“No…” Laya cries solemnly. The members of the community surrounding them most certainly are having similar reactions of depression and a lack of hope. Laya turns to her uncle, who is still pondering the decision he has to make. Laya rushes to him to hug him, shoving her face against the middle of his chest. 

Caught off guard, he slowly wraps his arms around her to somewhat return the hug. He has to lift his head to keep from resting his chin on her head. It gives her the chance to look up at him with tears swelling in her eyes. “Please Uncle, don’t punish us for what my dad did, don’t blame us for what he has done. Please…” 

Asmodeus sees the tears begin to roll down her cheek and moves his hand to wipe them away. “There is an argument to be made that your father did not act alone.” He sees the hope start to fade away in her eyes and his demonic heart finds that he can’t quite take it. 

Asmodeus takes a deep breath. “You all still want a home in the Circle of Lust, where you don’t have to hide, but that was on the pretense that it would be in exchange for all of the innocent humans, the lives that has caused a war between my brothers and Uriel’s. If such a thing were to be put back on the table, I cannot not simply give handouts from the goodness of my heart. I am still a King, with my own Circle to care for and respect. If I am to justify giving any of you a home, I need something from you…”

“Asmodeus, what are you doing?” Uriel mutters under her breath. 

Asmodeus takes a loving glance down at the young girl embracing him, to ponder exactly what he is doing at the moment. “I’m doing what I can to keep the important people in my life happy,” Lust tells Chastity, “it’s what I need to do for myself, I’m sorry.” 

Uriel is taken aback by this remark. She can forget now and then that Asmodeus is a compassionate person at his core, despite his demonic being. 

“If you are willing to fight against A’rock, to bring him to justice, to put yourselves on the line to save my allies who are fighting because of your past indiscretions, everything can be back on the table.” Asmodeus has laid down his terms, and separates himself from his niece to face the people. 

He waits for their response. 

They all look amongst themselves for a minute or so. The Council member, David speaks first to admit, “Not everyone here is a combatant, actually most of us aren’t.”

Talon comes up behind David to place a hand on his shoulder. He assures him, “There are more ways than one to help besides just fighting.”

“Talon is right,” Asmodeus tells the crowd. “One does not need to fight and kill to stand by another in war. Healing, running supplies, escorting the injured, are all ways you can help. You may not all be fighters, but you are all old enough to participate in war, and if you want to live in peace, you must prove to the world that you can by standing by us as you want us to stand by you.”

Sheare turns to the people and asks them, “Is there anyone here against joining the fight, against a chance to live somewhere other than this tomb?” No one speaks up in opposition, so Sheare turns towards Asmodeus to tell him, “We’ll fight for you.”

With that Asmodeus smiles. “Fantastic. Now everyone prepare to leave for the battlefield within three hours. I’ll do my best to have a portal ready to transport us all by then. Move people!” The crowd starts to hurry and scatter to get weapons, supplies, or just body armor to prepare for the battle ahead of them.

“Thank you, Uncle Clay! I just knew that I could trust you, thank you! Thank you for doing what you can for my friends.” Laya steps up on her toes to plant a kiss on Asmodeus’s cheek.

Asmodeus then gestures for Alice, Lolara, and Uriel to gather around him. Then he turns to Laya and says sweetly, “Coming through for you is going to be at the top my list from now on. You’re family, blood, and there aren’t that many of us so it’s important to stick together.” 

“He’s right you know,” Alice adds, “it’s only us three.” She has suspicions that this may not be the case, but now is not the time. 

Then Asmodeus turns back to his sister. “Which means that honesty should be important between us, right?” Asmodeus now asks Alice.

“Of course,” Alice answers puzzled. She wonders why he would ask such a thing.

“So that means that you should both explain to me just how in the hell you,” Asmodeus points to Laya, “seem to know things you weren’t there for, and how you,” turning to Alice, “knew to find me in the desert.”

Alice and Laya trade looks at each other, as if deer caught in the headlights.

Uriel whispers to Lolara, “I didn’t believe he noticed.”

“He can be dumb,” the witch admits, “but for the most part, he’s always got when it counts.”

“Well, I’m waiting,” Asmodeus says with arms his arms crossed.

*****

Even though they had all swore to remain impartial in the battle between their brethren, some had felt the need to keep an eye on each other to make sure. Together, Michael, the Archangel of Humility, and Lucifina, the Queen of Pride, spectate the battle. 

Lucifina had invited her daughter, Noella, to come with her, and for Noella to bring the Queen’s close friend, the Reaver of Sadism. She uncomfortably sits in the lounging chair her mother had brought along. Azale has accompanied her to spectate this gory battle, but spends her time avoiding eye contact with Rogiel, who acts as if the scar on his face wasn’t from her.

Noella makes sure to hold Azale’s hand as they heard that he had changed Virtues. It was rare, mainly because of the difficulty of it. Daemons can change Sin too, but for both of them, to change their core is not only a change of body, but soul, just as if they were to switch from Sin to Virtue. 

Even still, the old Virtue and Sin never completely leave. For daemons the signs are mostly in appearance. A succubus of Lust doesn’t suddenly become a fury after plunging herself into Wrath. With angels, it’s much less subtle.

And subtlety is something Rogiel has certainly mastered. 

Rogiel, of course, came as Michael’s right hand man. Both men dressed in white togas which let their great white wings span out. Michael’s is embroiled in gold at the edges near his feet and at his short sleeves. Michael had thought that wearing his armor would look like he had the intention to fight.

Lucifina had thought the same and wears a silk green dress that stops at her knees, but opens at her hip, revealing her right leg. She’s adorned with jewelry around her neck and wrists as daemons of Pride tend to do.

Noella had come on shorter notice, causing her and Azale to cause some tension when she arrived in her chainmail tunic, and Azale in another breastplate. Petra wears her usual Mary Poppins getup, another Victorian bustle dress, only this time white, appreciating a bit of red added to it. 

Noella sits around trying to stay still on the large lounging chair, one which lies completely out of place in the barren wasteland that the battle is being fought. The group of six are positioned on the edge of the right mountainside cliff, several miles above the battle, but they have a fine view of it nonetheless. 

Lucifina and Petra are squealing amongst themselves, catching each other up with their lives much to Noella’s annoyance. Noella has always known that her mother and the Reaver of Sadism are best friends, but it seems inappropriate that they should be so informal near an ongoing and bloody battle, right next to her mother’s rivaling Archangel. 

Michael though shows no signs of being fazed. He doesn’t even twitch over any of the lewd, salacious, trivial, or rude things that Lucifina and Petra converse about.

Noella tries to focus on the battle. She can make out the Demon King of Wrath and Archangel of Patience ascend to their most powerful forms. She can feel the shock waves from their first attacks colliding, as it causes the land all around them to shake.

Lucifina stops her conversation to finally take notice of the battle. “Ah, they’ve finally stopped pulling their punches,” she chimes with a chuckle.

Rogiel turns his head to face her. “It almost seems like you take enjoyment in seeing our brothers kill each other.”

“Our pleasures are never perfect,” the Demon Queen tells him.

“It appears that the last of the angels have finally arrived too,” Michael mutters.

Noella turns her attention away from her mother’s comments to look at the Archangel of Temperance, Zadkiel, enter this plain at last. No other angels come out after him and the huge portal by which the angelic army has arrived begins to close.

“Now the sides are quite uneven,” Rogiel points out, having counted only the two Demon Kings that he sees fighting. Michael corrects his line of thinking.

“How so, there are an equal number of Demon Kings to Archangels?” Michael asks.

Rogiel gives a look of befuddlement. “What do you mean? I only see Wrath and Envy.”

Michael smirks as he had realized Rogiel’s issue. “You are judging only by what you can see, an amateur mistake. Just because you do not yet see him, does not mean that the King of Gluttony isn’t here.”

“If another Demon King is apart of this conflict,” Rogiel begins to ask, “why would he not put his forces with his fellow demons?” 

Michael then reveals the simple plan that is about to be enacted upon Zadkiel and the Archangel’s forces. “The nisrochs of Gluttony have the most proficient spellcasters in terms of portal making-”

“A skill they practiced to be able to shove more food in their guts most likely,” Lucifina interrupts rather rudely.

Michael takes it in stride. He tells everyone, “I don’t know much of the why, but what is important is that we should expect the King of Gluttony to blindside Zadkiel and all of the troops below. He is likely going to have his army teleported above the enemy lines, allowing daemons to fall right on top of the angels. Simple, but clever, the mass majority of angels would never think to look above them in a battle like this, with so very few flying combatants.”  

“Hmm,” is all that Rogiel responds with. They continue to watch as Zadkiel sets his eyes upon the battle between Jophiel, Archangel of Benevolence, and Leviathan, the Demon King of Envy. 

*****

Zadkiel is deciding whether or not his fellow Archangel would be happy with Zadkiel interrupting her personal battle with the King of Envy. 

Zadkiel decides ultimately for efficiency over his comrade’s personal feelings. 

He readies himself to fly towards Jophiel to assist when he is tackled, with someone wrapping their arms around his waist and flying them both straight down towards the ground. 

Zadkiel crashes face first, and as soon as this happened the arms that held him release him and back away. 

Zadkiel pushes himself up with two hands and turns himself around to face his attacker. He sets his eyes upon his demonic counterpart, Beelzebub. Daemons of Gluttony then begin to fall from the sky, coming down upon angels. 

The daemons with their packed pectorals and featherless bird wings, fall on the angels, either crushing them with size or blasting them away with deadly self-implosions. 

Ba-Boom-BOOM! Ba-Boom-BOOM! Ba-Boom-BOOM! Ba-Boom-BOOM!

It’s a common ability for warriors of Gluttony to master. 

It’s the art of either expanding their shape and releasing it through their pours. The surprise attack is most certainly eliminating a large portion of Zadkiel’s forces. 

The only issue with this kind of magical attack is that it takes much time and energy to charge so Beelzebub only had one shot at using his army’s abilities effectively. His strategy most certainly paid off.

Zadkiel spits out his words, blood coming out of his mouth where he cut the inside of his cheek. “You filthy, worthless piece of daemon trash, how dare you lay your hands on me!” Zadkiel hisses.

If Beelzebub didn’t have such a warm personality, he would cut an intimidating figure. His well-toned muscles are on full display as he wears only an expanding green breastplate. 

With a look uncharacteristically cold for the King of Gluttony, he reaches for the weapon on his back. For combat he has the sword called Pata. Pata is literally a sword attached to an armored gauntlet, protecting Beelzebub from ever being disarmed. 

Beelzebub tells Zadkiel, “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time, a chance to finally kill you and end your prejudice hold on my life. It was by your command that someone I cared about lost their life, and I will hold you responsible for your actions this very day.” Beelzebub’s threat falls short as Zadkiel laughs.

Zadkiel tempts the Demon King’s wrath. “Has the death of one daemon really upset an abomination like you? Maybe you’re not all as heartless as I once thought, spineless instead,” he hisses. Zadkiel stands up and takes out the gold embroidered longsword resting on his back as he taunts, “If I had know that one death would have pained you so, I would have had killed so many more, and I would have made it slow.” Gluttony snarls, and begins to charge up his power to ascend to his True Beelzebub form.

Zadkiel begins to charge up his power too, but finds that he can’t. While looking down at the body that does not respond to his commands, he exclaims, “What is the meaning of this?!”

Beelzebub smiled mischievously as his form comes into full effect.

His horns extend around the curve of his head as his eyes grow yellow and buglike. They bulge like an disgusting insect, but they are eyes that see everything and miss nothing. There is nowhere to hide from him, or  his black tail as it grows and yellows in color. He develops this gruesome stinger pulsating with a tip of poison who’s drop costs a thousand lives. His wings bulge, they expand and they grow even taller than they are wide, shedding their skin for the film of insect wings. The only part of him that shrinks are the very limbs that feed food into his mouth. His arms stretching and bending into claws, and his legs expanding into meaty sacs. 

He is Gluttony, he is the devourer of everything.

The Demon King looks down at the shocked Archangel, towering over his form. “Didn’t you notice when I brought you down to the ground, that I had released dark magic? Instead of exploding and giving you a minor burn wound, I used my own form of dark magic, a poison rather than an explosion. One that leaves a lasting dampening effect upon the victim. You cannot ascend to your full power, you are truly at my mercy, and are powerless against me.” In his True Beelzebub form his voice sounds as if it is layered upon by several deeper voices, making him truly sounding like an insectoid. 

His position has finally dawned upon Zadkiel. For the first time in his extraordinarily long life, he feels true fear, not petty intimidation, at the hands of some Demon King of Gluttony.

*****

A’rock and Seraras make their way through the portal. When they exit they immediately freefall down the side of the left mountainside. 

Seraras extends his black and white wings and begins gliding slowly down the side of the mountain, looking for a good position to spectate the battle going on below. A’rock creates a whitefire sword in his hand and sticks it into the side of the mountain. He slides down a few feet further but he eventually stops in place.

A’rock takes a moment to recognize the growth in his power, instead of a stream of fire that somewhat resembles a blade, he forms an inferno with a fully realized blade at its core. The more power he draws from the Helm of Darkness, the more he can feel it moving through his body. 

Seraras flies to him and starts hovering right next to him. Seraras points out, “Our ally has yet to complete his mission but he seems to be very close to doing so. It seems he wants to drag it out.”

A’rock starts to smile because he knows why. “He sought us out and offered his help in exchange for a chance at revenge. Once he has it, I will unleash hell upon him, his enemies, and his brethren.” 

“I remember him offering his help in memory of someone he lost, am I mistaken?” Seraras asks.

“Not entirely, that was why he wanted to help me find a real home for our people, but deep down, he really just wanted to really see that Archangel die.” A’rock chuckles to himself at the thought. 

He and the Demon King in question are so different, yet he can relate to him all the same. “I’ll let him have that, but afterwards I will use this helmet to summon the undead, and I’ll slaughter all those before us. The other Archangels and Demon Kings will no longer have the manpower to take us on.” 

Seraras is scanning the other mountain peaks and valleys nearby when he takes notice of another small group also spectating. “A’rock, look over there, I almost missed them. It looks like a group of angels and daemons are watching over the battle.”

A’rock makes a mental note to watch over them incase they try to intervene, in the off chance that they were Demon Kings or Archangels. Even if they are, there’s no chance that they can possibly summon their forces to save themselves, so A’rock tells Seraras, “I assume they came to watch as their friends and allies pummel each other to death. I wonder how long they can keep away.”

*****

While the rest of the Council is preparing the community to leave for battle, Asmodeus and his group gather privately in Laya’s quarters.

“So, now that we’re alone, isn’t there something you two need to explain to me?” Asmodeus questions, singling out his sister and her daughter. He leans against the wall with his arms crossed. Lolara tries to hide her smirk at how much he loves that pose.

Laya decides that she will explain, but first she asks Asmodeus to try and be open-minded. “This may sound crazy at first, but bear with me here.” Asmodeus and Lolara trade glances to smile at each other, thinking that they’ve probably seen crazier shit than whatever Laya is going to say. “I have this ability, Old Ticket called the Ojo Rojo, where I can look through the eyes of another person, usually blood relatives. I’ve been using it to look through your eyes for a couple months now, Uncle Clay. With this ability, I know all about you since you became the King of Lust, and afterwards too. This is how I found out that you were coming to my home, and that you were going to give us a way better one.”

This is a lot to take in for everyone, but while most of the beings here are concerned with how she possibly gained her ability, Asmodeus is lifting the collar of shirt rather nervously. He can he feel himself starting to sweat, as he begins thinking about all of the inappropriate things he has done over the last few months that he would not have wanted his niece to see. 

Asmodeus starts to ask, “What specifically have you been watching through my eyes…?” His voice has a suspicious tone, which confuses Laya for moment.

“What do you mean…?” then the light bulb flashed in her head. “Oh no! Nothing gross or anything, just like personal conversations and battles and stuff, now that sounds bad in a different way,” she remarks, “but usually when you were starting some icky stuff I just kinda, shut my eyes, or your eyes I guess.” This exchange somewhat makes Asmodeus feel better but not a whole lot.

Lolara laughs it off, joking that to Asmodeus, “Oh good, now we know she doesn’t know what my tits look like.” Asmodeus glares at her in response, which only makes her laugh some more.

“Laughing at me is one of your favorite pastimes isn’t it?”

“Top five at least.”

Uriel tries to ignore them, but can’t help but shake her head. She finally looks at Laya, and the girl gets nervous under the Archangel’s eye. “Can you use your power on anyone else who’s not related to you?” 

Laya shrugs, with a middling gesture. “Sometimes I can look through people close by, but the connection gets kinda hazy and my eyes starts to hurt. I can really only look through the eyes of relatives, but the more I practice the less it hurts each time.”

Lolara then asks Laya her own question. “We can assume by the fact that Clay had no knowledge of you doing this, that your power doesn’t inform the person you’re using it on, but does it leave any effects on the person with repeated use?”

“I, uh, don’t know,” Laya admits. Laya hasn’t ever thought about the effects her Ojo Rojo would have on someone else.

Asmodeus arches his brow over the question. “What are you getting at Lola?”

“Your violent nightmares,” she reminds him, “think about it, Laya has known about some pretty recent events, which means that she’s been spending a lot of time spying on you lately.”

“I wouldn’t call it spying necessarily…” Laya mumbles as she barely tries to defend her actions. Everyone kinda trades a look that says ‘Really?’ and she turns her head to the floor.

“Violent Nightmares? What kind of nightmares, Clay?” Alice asks. 

Stretching his arm behind his head, he admits, “I may have thrown a violent temper tantrum or two in my sleep recently.”

“Almost killed me,” Lolara points out.

“I thought I already apologized about that!”

“You think that my power may be triggering them?” Laya asks as she looks back up. The pangs of guilt hit her right in the stomach. She never considered how her powers might negatively affect anyone around her. Having heard that her Uncle Clay could possibly be turning violent in his sleep because of her makes her start to tear up. “I’m so sorry Uncle Clay. I, I, honestly had no idea that I could be hurting you.” She brings her hand to her face to wipe away a tear and her mother does it for her. 

“Don’t cry, you couldn’t have known.” Alice tries to console her with a hug.

Asmodeus moves off the wall, and stops trying to see so intimidating to assure Laya, “There wasn’t any reason for you to think that you were. I’m okay now, Lo’s okay now, nothing to be sad about.” He walks over puts a hand on his niece’s shoulders. “Shhh, don’t cry, everything’s fine.”

Laya nods her head and wipes away some tears. She whispers, “Okay.”

After a few more moments Uriel brings up their current predicament with A’rock. “I wouldn’t go around saying that everything is okay when we have a walking and possibly semi-automatic nuclear weapon to kill.”

“Yeah about that,” Asmodeus responds, “is it too naive to think that the twins could keep doing their thing?”

“Dude,” Abe says, “we could do that trick one, two more times tops.”

Tops!” Amy adds.

“Okay, so we can’t rely on them, what are we going to do?” Uriel asks everyone. “We need to be able to fight A’rock once we find him, and we can’t win with just the two of us.”

“Why are you assuming it would be only the two of you?” Lolara asks, somewhat offended.

Uriel lays down the truth. “Let’s be honest with each other, even if he didn’t have the Helm of Darkness, anyone who isn’t an Archangel or Demon King would just get in the way. This isn’t an insult, just the hard and honest truth.”

“She’s right, Lo,” Asmodeus admits, “I’ve fought him before, and even then anyone who couldn’t keep up with us at our power level ran the risk of being blasted away.”

Uriel then adds, “Not to mention that we may not be able to wait to get reinforcements from the other Archangels and Demon Kings, depending on where A’rock went and if we can spare the time.” It’s around this time that Asmodeus starts to formulate his strategy.

Lolara huffs and crosses her arms. She reminds Asmodeus, “You do remember that I have a pact with an Elder Dragon don’t you? Those guys can hold their own, even with you.” 

Asmodeus reminds her, “I do remember, and I remember that the pact only gives you a fraction of her strength, half at most unless you summon her. Do you think she’d come to save angels and daemons?”

Lolara grinds her teeth and looks away. She can’t say for sure that she could summon any of her pacts and expect them to fight in a war for her. That’s a quick way to lose just about any and all of them.

Alice turns to Laya to ask her a favor. “I know this may not be the most comfortable thing for you do right now, but we need you to find out where your father is, can you do it?”

Laya sniffles a bit, and looks at her palms. She looks up at the group and nods her head. “Give me a moment.” Laya moves to climb onto her bed, and then sits in a pretzel position. 

She begins to concentrate real hard on her connection to her father, and then her eyes shut, and then opened again, red with white pupils and a pattern around them. Everyone watches her body closely as she kind of slumps into an uncomfortable looking position. Seconds later she recoils and bends over. She lifts her head and hand to it, now suffering from a headache but her eyes are normal again.

“Dad and Uncle Seraras are hanging off the side of a mountain. They’re watching this humongous battle between a lot of angels and daemons.” Laya keeps blinking her eyes and rubbing them, as she informs everyone. “He’s really far away for some reason.” Laya’s eyes start to flutter, like she is going to fall asleep.

“Sleep, you’ve had a long day,” Alice tells her daughter as she lays her down. Laya’s power can take a toll on her, and she’s used it a lot over the past day. She closes her eyes and falls to sleep in minutes.

“Well, it seems like we definitely don’t have time to get any help,” Uriel mutters, “he could turn the tide of that battle at any moment, and without everyone standing together we won’t be able to hold back his undead army.”

Asmodeus smirks and Lolara guesses what he’s thinking. “You have a plan already, don’t you?” 

Asmodeus nods. “I have an idea on how we can go about defeating him. It’s not very complicated, but it’s a big risk because it’s assuming that Pluto’s Helm imbues his body with power and abilities, not invulnerability.”

“It can’t possibly because Michael struck Pluto down while he was wearing it,” the Archangel confirms for him, but the more she thinks about it, she wonders if its a possibility. “Though… that was after much battle, and Pluto had fueled it with fewer souls back then as I’ve been told.”

“Don’t souls need to be given by the humans in exchange for something?” Lolara asks.

“Not with the Helm,” Uriel answers with a shake of her head, “that creation defies such laws. By ripping the souls from the mortal bodies, the dead don’t have anything to contain them, and the Helm can access souls without homes, which even the most powerful of sorcerers and sorceresses can’t do.”

“Then we need to get A’rock to waste it all,” Asmodeus declars, stuffing his hands into his pockets, the telltale sign to Lolara that he’s got it, and he means business. “Now let me lay out what I plan to do, and please don’t say anything until I finish, everyone promise?” As soon as Asmodeus asks this question everyone gets nervous, but they all nod. Then Asmodeus explains the strategy he has concocted.

*****

As Beelzebub walks towards Zadkiel, pebbles and rocks vibrate on the ground due to the power Gluttony is emitting in his True Beelzebub form. Zadkiel starts to slowly walk backwards when Beelzebub slashes his Pata sword, and the power behind his swing sends a force of wind that cuts Zadkiel across his chest. 

Ack!” is the sound Zadkiel makes when he receives his first cut.

Kneel,” Beelzebub commands as he makes another slash that cuts Zadkiel’s knees, causing the Archangel to keel over. 

Zadkiel grunts out in pain, “I… I knew that Demon Kings were capable of power beyond any regular scum, but this… with simple slashes…” 

As Beelzebub is moving within striking distance of Zadkiel, two angels fly towards them to blindside Beelzebub and save their leader. 

Stop! You won’t be able to hurt him!” Zadkiel tries to warn his two soldiers. 

They quickly come up on Beelzebub and bring their weapons, a sword and a mace, down upon Beelzebub’s wing and his head. The meager weapons shatter on impact. Beelzebub quickly turns half around and cuts both angels in half with one swing.

Noo!” Zadkiel yells as he falls over trying to get to Beelzebub in vain.

Beelzebub looks back at the Archangel, crawling across the ground towards him. 

With a smile he asks him, “Has the death of a few angels really upset such perfection as you? Maybe you’re not as heartless as I thought.” Zadkiel is left groveling and speechless.

Then Beelzebub closes the distance between them to kick Zadkiel onto his back. It takes a couple kicks considering the Archangel has his wings to move over. 

He kicks him on the ground as he taunts the Archangel with his own words. “If a few meaningless deaths pained you so, I would have killed many more before we started fighting, but sadly, I don’t have the time to make it slow.” Then Beelzebub raises his sword and begins to hack at the Archangel’s wings repeatedly. He informs Zadkiel, “Though many more I shall kill, and give you many more fiends to live with you in the Underworld.” 

Through all the pain, Zadkiel notices that in his True Beelzebub form, Gluttony speaks like he’s from a different time, asides from just carrying himself more menacingly. 

SINKT!

Zadkiel screams and howls in pain as Beelzebub savagely destroys the Archangel’s great wings. “Why?! Why do you not just kill me now?” Zadkiel yells at his opponent.

Because you must suffer for what you had done to my brother.” 

Zadkiel’s eyes shoot open. He’s killed many demons over the years, some Demon Kings too. He can’t fathom who this King of Gluttony is talking about.

Decades ago you had made a discovery that shocked you to the core. I know that you must have claimed ignorance of angels and daemons fornicating when you joined this conflict, but that was a lie. You had discovered such a relationship not that long ago, but you kept it secret out of shame.” Zadkiel is beginning to realize the incident that the King of Gluttony is referring to.

Through the blood forming in his mouth, Zadkiel chokes out, “They were discrediting-” Ack! – “the very foundation of the beliefs they stood for!”

What is it that we stand for? My people like to eat a lot and your people diet!” Gluttony screams in his face. That’s the basis for which you antagonize my kind! When you found out about one of your angels meeting secretly with some unknown in the human world…” 

Beelzebub gasps as he struggles to finish his sentence, the grief he’s held for so long rising to the surface. 

When you had your soldier followed, you found that he was meeting with a daemon of Gluttony. You then personally took it upon yourself to savagely kill them both! You want to know how I could tell it was you? By my brother’s remains, scorched to the bone with his lover in his arms.” Beelzebub almost seems like he is going to shed a tear. 

I wasn’t raised like other daemons, most others have siblings with age differences of decades, sometimes centuries, but my brother was younger than me by fewer years than can be counted on my hand! He was my responsibility, my best friend, the daemon who stood by my side before and after I was chosen to replace the last King of Gluttony. 

In return for such loyalty, I repaid him in kind. I helped him secretly meet the man he loved for years. I thought if I was watching over him enough, the risk would disappear, but I became too slack in my watch. I let you take him from me.” 

Beelzebub lets his shoulders slump, defeated, and lost, but he regains his composure and readies his sword to plunge down through Zadkiel’s heart. “For my brother and his lover, I take vengeance upon you, may death grant you a greater hell than oblivion.” 

Then he brings down his sword, Pata, and plunges it down through Temperance’s heart. The Archangel’s body grovels and shakes for a few moments, before he becomes still and dies.

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