- February 18, 2021
The House of Asmodeus: A Trial by Fire (Chapter 30)
“O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.” – 1st Corinthians 15:55-57
Michael dips his head when he feels Zadkiel lose his life. Unlike the Demon Kings, the death of Archangels is so rare that Michael in his eternity of life has only experienced such a loss three times, and only once was that loss caused by a daemon. He is able to maintain his composure but brings his hand to cover his face.
Rogiel backs away, to give the Archangel of Humility room to breath.
Lucifina and Petra are still talking on the lounging chair, but Azale and Noella have taken notice of Michael’s pain. They have been watching the battle and know the tremendous loss that Michael is experiencing.
Noella then does the unthinkable. She gets up from her spot next to her mother, and walks slowly over to the Archangel’s side. Azale reaches out to grab her Mistress’s shoulder, to stop her from making a possibly grave mistake, but Noella shrugs it off, continuing on her path to Michael.
As she reaches within a few feet of his back, Rogiel shoots her look that transcribes a violent version of the message Azale had tried to give.
Noella speaks up anyway.
“My Archangel,” she says, and Michael twitches.
In his sorrow, death swallows his mind, and for a moment he thinks he is going to be reminded of his greatest sacrifice.
Slowly he turns around, carefully not hit her with his large wing. His face looks upon the young white demoness with one of pain, but also of confusion. Noella can’t really read into what he is really thinking. “I realize that I cannot possibly comprehend the pain you feel in this moment, but…” She almost stops as Michael narrows his eyebrows, not exactly suggesting the reception Noella is aiming for.
In that moment, Azale’s hand naturally moves to her warhammer, ready to face down the Archangel Michael himself to protect Noella. Lucifina, she stops talking, staring at Michael, as if waiting for him to give her an excuse.
When Noella gathers the courage to finish, she tells him, “If it means anything, I’m dearly sorry for your loss.”
Michael stares at Noella for a few seconds, his face stone and cold. The child of his sworn rival has just given him her condolences and he isn’t sure as to how to feel. But eventually his face softens, and even gives Noella a soft smile.
“Thank you,” he tells her. Noella slightly bows her head to him, a gesture not ignored by him. He tells her, “You are quite unlike many of the daemons I have met in my time. You and your husband are much alike in that respect.”
“In all honesty,” she replies, “he has affected much of my ways since the day I met him.”
“Hmm, interesting,” he mutters before he asks something of her, “would you mind watching the rest of this harrowing sight by my side? I think it would be much less unpleasant at least, having someone like you standing next to me.”
“You grant me a great honor, Archangel.”
“Please, call me Michael.”
Uriel is stunned by the sacrifice Asmodeus is willinging to make. This would be yet another time that the Demon King has surprised her with his innate ability to selflessly put himself in harm’s way. In this case his strategy to defeat A’rock will not only likely leave him dead or close to it, but leave Uriel relatively safe as she takes all the glory of taking A’rock out.
“You… you came up with that? Aren’t you supposed to be-”
She almost says selfish, because that is what she has been taught for centuries now, to never trust a daemon, especially a Demon King. They are supposed to be the most selfish and vile scoundrels among vile filth, yet it is a natural occurrence for Asmodeus to be as decent a person as anyone else. Sometimes more so.
The rest are not so impressed with Asmodeus’s battle strategy.
“I know I’ve said this before, maybe several other times, but this is the stupidest idea you’ve ever had,” Lolara tells him.
“Are you insane?!” Alice screams at him.
“How is this idea stupid? It’s highly likely that no one else is in danger, not even Uriel, I’m the only one who is taking any risk.” Asmodeus honestly does see the problem, but joking about it helps him as much as it pisses off everyone else.
“And that is precisely why your ideas are always so stupid!” Lolara has her hands on her head, like she’s close to pulling her hair out. “Every time there’s someone at stake, every time safety can’t be accounted for, you always push ahead, making sure everyone else is okay first!”
“And what’s wrong with that?!” Asmodeus demands to know. “I want to protect the people I care about! Where’s the crime in that?”
“The problem is that you never care for yourself!” Lolara screams.
“I’ve almost lost the people I’ve cared about before, I’ve seen what you look like dead, Lo, do you know what that’s like?” Through all of the pain on his face, in his mind, the scarring memory that was, Asmodeus doesn’t realize he’s inadvertently blamed Lolara, as unintentional as it was, which really strikes a chord. He doesn’t realize it until she stops looking angry and remembers dying herself. In a million different ways he feels like he’s died having forced that memory back upon her, but to protect everyone, he’ll do it again, if not with less coldness.
“To see someone you love,” he tells her, “someone you cherish, nothing more than a cold corpse, have you felt that before?”
“No, I don’t, I haven’t…” she admits, so she takes his head in her hands and screams in his face, “so don’t make me!” Lolara is pleading with him. “Don’t you get who you are? You’re the King of Lust! I’m just a witch, Azale a fallen angel, and Mod another Reaver. Sure, we’re special in comparison to regular folk, but to you? You’ve united Archangels and Demon Kings towards a common goal!”
“And I didn’t do it by sacrificing others, I did it by carrying the risks myself. You keep acting like I’m so important, but if I was I wouldn’t able to take these risks. If you can be sacrificed then you don’t matter! That’s why I can do this, I don’t matter as much as everyone seems thinks I do.”
Alice slaps him when he says that. The sound rings out throughout the room and causes a tense silence. They can see the red mark on Asmodeus’s face. “Don’t you say that, don’t you spew out our father’s words as if it were a bible to live by. ‘If you can be sacrificed then you don’t matter,’ how can you possibly spit out words like that?!” Alice’s eyes are starting to water. Asmodeus finishes rubbing his cheek to reach out for her, but she slaps his hand away.
Lolara tries to cut through the tension to take Asmodeus’s hand. “People love you, Clay, and you want to protect us too, we get that, but you have to let us return the favor sometime, you know? Do what you plan to do and we’ll never get the chance.”
Asmodeus holds her gaze for a long time. He wants her to know that he understands what she is trying to convey to him, but he isn’t going to follow her wishes.
In response to her statement, it’s simply, “Then so be it.”
Lolara has the look of defeat in her eye as hope has completely drained from her face. With all that she can muster, she tells him, “Why is it that when a plan has you dying as a forgone conclusion, you don’t just go back to the drawing board like every other coward?”
Asmodeus just sighs, then turns to speak to Uriel. “I’m sorry, Uriel, do you think you can-” He stops as gets a glance at the Archangel. She is clutching her mouth and her stomach, trying to contain herself and her emotions. “Uriel, what’s wrong?” Everyone turns to look at the Archangel.
As soon as Zadkiel lost his life, she knew, she felt it in her stomach, and the numbness that came with makes her feel as if the world had just stopped.
She opens her eyes to see Asmodeus watching her with great concern.
Uriel takes a chance to swallow and inform everyone of her recent loss. “Zadkiel has been killed, I could feel his soul leave for the realm of the truly dead, and now I know that this conflict must come to an end now, as soon as possible. I’ll follow the plan you’ve set forth, Asmodeus.”
Lolara feels bile form in her throat hearing that from Uriel. “Of course you do,” the witch spits out.
“Lolara,” Asmodeus snaps with surprise and concern.
“What?!” Lolara snaps back, even harsher. “She’s the Archangel of Chastity, she tried to kill you less than month ago, killed me, because she hated you simply for being a daemon, and she killed me for being loyal to you. Why wouldn’t she be happy to see you dead and to get all the glory for it?”
Uriel has no patience for such behavior anymore. “Listen to me, witch, if you had spent your whole life being taught one thing, to hate one thing, you would too.”
Then she does what she’s seen Michael do so many times to keep from beheading people.
She takes a deep breathe, and closes her eyes, the people who see be damned. When they open, her lips are moving, and she’s already talking, admitting the truth. “But I realize now that the King of Lust, is not the cretin I wanted to make him out to be. In reality, he has treated me and others who deserve his wrath, much better than we deserve. Right now, there is a war that needs to end, and I’m no strategist, so Asmodeus’s plan is the best we’ve got.”
Asmodeus is taken aback by the Archangel’s kind words for him, but he hides it well behind his smile. He wonders if she is only willing to say this because she is going through a trial of loss. Maybe after this they could have become good friends but now there was little time for that.
“I just don’t understand why this is happening,” Alice nearly cries, “I lost my brother once, and now I have to lose him again.” She looks Asmodeus in the eye when she demands to know from him, “Why do you have hurt me like this?”
“There’s something about me that you haven’t realized yet,” Asmodeus begins to tell her, “when I decide to do something, there really is no stopping me.”
“Heh heh, didn’t know the daemon had it in ‘em!” Leviathan had been knocked to the ground by Jophiel in their fight. Of course, being knocked down equates to falling off a skyscraper, so the King of Envy has a chance to think for a moment.
He needs time before the Archangel of Benevolence is ready to attack him. Leviathan doesn’t want to admit it, but he’s stalling to get help from Beelzebub. Leviathan can hold his own, but Jophiel’s experience and power outclasses him. It’s only a matter of time before the Archangel cuts him down. “I’m sure the big guy won’t think twice to help me out,” so Leviathan starts flying towards the King of Gluttony.
As he does so he looks over his shoulder to see Jophiel flying after him. “Shit!” Leviathan curses.
Thankfully for Envy, Gluttony is not too far away, but he has reverted back to his normal form, not his True Beelzebub form. They catch sight of each other quickly. Beelzebub becomes confused as to why Leviathan is heading towards him with Jophiel in tow.
Leviathan lands into a slide which kicks up a lot of dirt. He stops next to Beelzebub who is still staring at him, quite befuddled.
Leviathan informs him on the situation. “Okay Beelzebub, nice job on killing Zadkiel, he was a tough guy to beat I bet, but so is Jophiel, and I can’t beat her alone, and I’d rather not die, so let’s fight her together! What do ya say?” Beelzebub tilts his head in confusion. Leviathan takes it as a yes. “You’ll help me? Aw, thanks, you’re a real pal, now let’s kill another Archangel, together.” Then Leviathan turns to Jophiel who has just landed a few yards from them, not willing to attack first, as the Archangel is outnumbered.
“You’re asking for help? You never ask for help!” the King of Gluttony snickers.
Leviathan frowns, “I am not asking for help-”
Beelzebub interrupts, “This is comedy gold! The great King of Envy, needs Gluttony’s help!” Beelzebub is laughing, when an explosion goes off near them.
Jophiel calls to them, “If you two are done making fools of yourselves, I would like to finish killing the King of Envy, then I’ll avenge my fallen brother.” Jophiel raises her silver lance with gold embroidering over her head and crouches into a fighting stance. The tip of the lance is sizzling so Beelzebub assumes the blast came from that.
“Alright then,” Beelzebub responds, “I must apologize for the unfairness ahead of time, my friend.” Then Beelzebub pumps in his chest, crosses his arms, and charges a ball of gas in front of him. When he is done charging he uncrosses his arms and sends a powerful shockwave that makes the other two lose their balance. A gas is dispersed from his mouth, and floods around Jophiel before she can do anything but breath it in.
Jophiel thinks to herself that if she stands any chance against the two of them she will have to ascend to her True Jophiel form. Then she tries to charge her power and finds that she can’t.
In a moment realization dawns on her face.
“That smoke of yours blocks my power, that’s how you defeated Zadkiel, very clever,” she compliments, which surprises the Demon Kings before she snarls, “and cowardly.”
“You can do that?” Leviathan asks, clearly surprised. He turns around to look at Beelzebub, showing how impressed he is. His fellow Demon King is much more formidable than he thought. But now it’s time for Leviathan to put Jophiel out of her misery.
The King of Envy begins to charge his power now that he has the time. He hasn’t practiced it as much as the others, and he’s kicking himself for it now.
As Leviathan does that, Gluttony puts on a humble and sorry face. “Like I said before, I must apologize, this isn’t the way I prefer to kill someone, but I don’t have the energy left to kill an equal,” Beelzebub repeats.
Jophiel readies her lance, growing nervous as she sees the odds growing against her. She wants to look for Chamuel but she knows he’s busy with Satan. All this frustration makes her hiss, “I am in no way your friend, I should have expected such trickery and debauchery from spineless piles of waste like you.”
“I wasn’t speaking to you, Archangel,” Beelzebub tells her.
As Leviathan charges his power, using his connection to the original Demon King of old, he furrowed his brow as he becomes confused. He slows his ascension as he mumbles, “If not Jophiel then who is he talking t-”
Leviathan’s thought is cut short as a sword rips through his chest from behind, and twists inside him. He immediately starts going into the shock from the immediate and significant blood loss, but more importantly the power that’s now leaving from him.
His connection to the original Demon King has been severed, and with it he feels his strength leaving him. He should be able to survive such a blow, but he left himself wide open when he was most vulnerable, and has been run through with a sword unlike most others. He feels the screams of power leaving him behind, as the true Leviathan loses his hold on Hell, and sinks through the world on a dimension that others can’t understand or see.
But they feel it, they feel in how the world shakes and the skies bleed green. The ground cracks open, taking flightless daemons and captured angels in it. The power to conquer worlds has been removed not only from the battle, but from the multiverse itself.
The other Arch-beings stop and scramble, having never seen such a thing in their long lives. Even from the mountain, Michael grows a sense of horror and fear.
It’s amazing that Leviathan doesn’t die instantly, but slowly suffers through the end instead. As he begins to fall, becoming a lifeless corpse, as the world finishes bleeding, Beelzebub grabs Leviathan by the neck, and hugs him close. He whispers in his fellow Demon King’s ear, “I’m sorry it had to be this way old friend, but you would not have let angels and daemons come together in peace. I’ve always known of the possibility of a peace and beauty between our races, and I will stop at nothing to make sure those who love without prejudice can live without fear.” When he finishes, Beelzebub twists his sword further, and then tears it out, along with Leviathan’s intestines.
The King of Envy dies from blood loss, internal bleeding, and the stripping of his godhood from Beelzebub’s betrayal.
Jophiel is shocked by what has just happened, having fallen to the ground in fear and shock of the loss of Envy. “Do scum like you not care at all for your own kin?!” the Archangel screams, accuses, and asks all at the same time.
The King of Gluttony simply looks up, sullen face and full of inner strife. He tells the Archangel, “More than you could ever know, but with men like him and women like you, there can be no peace. Once you’re all gone a beautiful harmony can occur. Hopefully, you won’t be remembered so sullenly.”
Then Beelzebub attacks as Jophiel tries to dodge sword strikes for her life.
Noella is shocked by what she saw happen between Beelzebub and Leviathan. “I think something’s wrong with me,” she mumbles.
“No, I saw it too, felt it too, but I don’t believe it… why would he do such a thing?” Michael confirms it for her. The King of Gluttony just killed the King of Envy, and untethered the power from him. There may not be another King of Envy after him.
“But why?” Noella asks, the same question everyone is having. She turns around to speak to Lucifina, “Mother, I-”
“Save it,” Lucifina interrupts, sounding rather nasty, “I could feel it, I know what it feels like when a King of Envy dies.” For once, dying is a severe understatement.
“No mother, you don’t understand.”
“I understand quite enough! I don’t need your pity.”
Michael tries to explain to the Queen of Pride that she doesn’t know the whole story. “Your liege, listen for a moment-”
Lucifina interrupts him again, having expected his pity, but she will have none of it. To do so would sully her pride. “Not another word, unlike you, Michael, I know how to compose myself when one of my fellow regents die.” There is pain behind her voice. The circumstance she thinks she is in is sadly not foreign to her. She is one of the oldest of the current Demon Kings. “This is not the first King of Envy I have lost, the Archangels have made sure of that.” There is slight break in her voice as she speaks. She certainly isn’t going to cry, the Queen of Pride has matured beyond such things, but there is tension in her voice, and in her heart. “And this Leviathan most assuredly won’t be the last.”
Noella decides that the only way to get a word in would be to blurt it out, that’s how she’s communicated with her mother over the years. “Beelzebub killed Leviathan.”
And like that the tension is cut with a samurai sword and replaced with a cobweb.
“Ah, what?” Lucifina responds.
“That, that doesn’t make any sense,” Azale says, before she turns to Petra to ask, “should it?” The succubus shrugs.
Rogiel tells her, “They’ve been trying to tell you that the King of Envy was stabbed in the back by the King of Gluttony.”
Lucifina has a look of confusion on her face but gets up to her feet. She pats down her dress as if she has just been caught being wrong on something she’s supposed to be an expert on. She proceeds to walk over to the edge and look where Noella and Michael have been watching. She looks just in time to see Beelzebub stand over Leviathan’s body right before the Demon King launches himself at Jophiel.
“I don’t see how it can be concluded-” Lucifina starts.
“Mother, stop being difficult, why would we lie about this?” Noella chides her mother.
Lucifina holds her chin in her hand, “Hmm, Petra, dear, can you get up for a moment?” Petra gets up from the lounge chair and Lucifina walks over to it. She bends down and sticks her hand underneath to grab something. Something clicks and the seat of the lounge chair pops open, revealing a hidden compartment. In it, is white gold armor in angelic style, and a ruthless, but solemn battle axe, Pride’s Hecatomb.
Noella recognizes the battle axeand becomes confused because her mother never uses it. “I thought my father wielded Hecatomb?” she asks the Queen of Pride.
“I reacquired it from his grave specifically for this battle,” a statement that makes Noella flinch, especially with how nonchalant Lucifina says it. “Just in case Michael decided to intervene, I was going to hold him back with it.” Lucifina notices that this might be insulting, but instead of apologizing she turns and tells him, “I wasn’t sure if I could trust you.”
Michael makes a meek face of hurt for a second before replying that he understands. “What do you plan to do?” the Archangel asks her.
“I hope you don’t mind but I plan to find out why Beelzebub’s betrayed the Demon Kings.”
Michael tells her, “Alright then, I know we said we wouldn’t interfere, but we can always say that we thought it was the Nephilim.”
“I like the way you think, Archangel,” Petra jokes, “I didn’t think Archangels would lie.”
“I’m not talking about lying, just stretching the truth,” Michael corrects. He knows what is doing, a humorous moment for him due to a lack of humility. “Though such a possibly isn’t out of the cards.”
Lucifina agrees with him and then takes out and lays down her armor to put it on. Then she turns to look at Michael and Rogiel. “Well?” she says with a hand on her hip.
“What?” Michael asks, quite confused.
“I’ve got to change into my battle armor, don’t think you’re getting another chance to peek at my curves think again.” This makes Michael turn beat red as he and Rogiel turn around. Lucifina had informed Petra of this story so the succubus is laughing, while Noella and Azale are confused.
“If you would give me a moment and we’ll be off,” Lucifina assures them.
“I think now is the time A’rock, with Leviathan and Zadkiel dead, both armies will lose their will to fight,” Seraras advises.
“I agree.” A’rock has a smile on his face, excited to use his newfound power. Then he catches sight of the group from the other side start to fly towards the battle. “Seraras, I’m willing to bet that they’ll try to stop Beelzebub’s attack on Jophiel. Go see if you can’t stall them, just to make sure that they don’t focus on me until I’ve got a decent amount of soldiers to fight.”
Seraras nods his head in understandment before asking, “Should I recruit Beelzebub back to our cause or kill him?”
Heartlessly, A’rock thinks to betray the King of Gluttony, who is helping to ensure the safety of A’rock’s previous home in memory of his dead brother. “It would be less risky to kill him while he thinks of you as an ally. We don’t want to risk the chance of him finding out that we’ve cut ties with our community, that’s what he’s fighting for, he may use his power to block our own.”
“How would he find out?”
A’rock smiles. “Asmodeus can’t resist not coming to the rescue.” He even bets that Asmodeus will want to fight A’rock himself one-on-one to minimize collateral damage. “Unless Hadel somehow killed him, I doubt that the King of Lust won’t come to the rescue of some daemons he barely knows. The scrawny prick is a bit of the hero type.”
“I assume that you’ll want to fight him yourself if he does.”
“When he comes,” A’rock corrects, “it’s better to prepare now, so we should hurry, so go!” With his orders Seraras flies straight to the fight between the King of Gluttony and the Archangel of Benevolence, same as the others.
“Now it’s my time,” A’rock whisper to himself as the red gem on the helmet starts to glow and pulsate. “Pain to the world…”
Pingback: The House of Asmodeus: A Trial by Fire (Chapter 31) - Something Central