Monthly Archives: January 2015

TCOL : Death & New Life : Sisters Pt.2

“Now this place I like.” A strange tailed fairy flew into a small garden and spied on a few creatures chasing each other up one of the trees. It wasn’t that Itami had a shortage of tailed creatures, but she seemed to be the only fairy that had one and her wings were more like those of these pretty demons than her sisters.

The fairies were accepting as they could be of their strange new family, but in the wake of so much loss they were having trouble giving their new sisters a place. Now each of them, the oddlings created by new magic, either with aid or on their own was off to find a place. As Blondie years ago had left with Nikolai, Vafera sought guidance from her accidental creator Maefyl immediately after she had sprung to life, Gigi had quickly found herself a place in Heaven. Kazeishi had given Itami a chance but was jumping wildly through the realms trying to decide where she was going to make a home.

“Enjoying the sights?” Raven whispered behind the hiding fairy as she nudged her with her slender bird like fingers. She had been enjoying the quiet of her small estate’s garden when she noticed the small visitor and decided to introduce herself. “I am Raven.”

“Yes.” Kazeishi hugged Raven’s hand and smiled. “Kazeishi. What are those?”

“Fargoyles.” Raven explained as she marveled at the fairies resemblance to the race Raziel had given life to. “They are a young, but beautiful race.”

“How young?” Kazeishi blinked her black eyes at Raven and smiled hopefully. She may have finally found her spark. It had never been an active search on her part, more aimless wandering and leaving things to chance as she just looked for someplace enjoyable to spend her days. Now suddenly the idea of seeing what gave her life seemed so important. “I might be… I mean they might… Where did the first ones come from?”

“Clever little thing.” Raven giggled. “Looking for your origins? The first were created near here, by the Watcher Raziel.”

“Can you take me?” The fairy flapped her gargoyle-like wings excitedly.

“I don’t want to intrude on his home.” Raven frowned slightly, as much as she wanted to help the creature, interrupting the Keeper at home was not something she was inclined to do. “I can however take you to Lucifer. He can help you find your way.”

“Sounds good.” Kazeishi nodded her agreement and Raven sat her at the back of her neck before she changed into a big black bird and headed for a large castle. Kazeishi squealed as she held handfuls of feathers. “Wow! You have shiny feathers!”

Raven was such a frequent guest at Lucifer’s estate that the guardians of the doors held them open at her approach and let her fly into the audience hall without question. She had expected to find it empty and wait patiently, but she was surprised to find it quite pleasantly occupied.

“Biwdy.” Neka giggled.

“Annunciate, Neka.” Kage stepped beside her. “Greetings, Raven.”

“And to you, Lord Kage.” Raven resumed her form and landed gracefully in front of him before she bowed deeply. “I seek a moments audience with your Lord.”

“Lord Lucifer will be returning soon.” Kage had been indulging Neka’s eagerness to learn and saw no reason to end her lessons because of Raven’s presence. “Neka, introduce yourself.”

“Neka is Neka Kagami.” Neka curtsied. “Nice to meet you.”

“You as well, Lady Neka.” Raven returned the graceful curtsy and smiled. “She is beautiful, Lord Kage. Forgive me for interrupting.”

“Come along, Neka.” Kage backed away a few paces and Neka concentrated on the dark mist she gathered at her feet. Kage raised an arm in front of him to offer a target. “Focus.”

Neka gave the slightest nod before she forced the magic she was calling to her will and tightened a formless cloud into countless cords that danced around her tiny legs. She saw the tiny glimmer of pride on her father’s face as he hid the grin that tried to take his lips and she swelled with confidence. The magic grew stronger as she knitted and lengthened the cords until she could control each individual strand on it’s own.

“Nyaa!” Neka set several of the cords forward to grasp Kage by his forearm as she shouted. They wrapped his wrist and he grabbed their lengths and laughed wickedly. “Neka got you!”

“And I’ve got you.” Lucifer lifted her by her waist and turned her into his embrace before he kissed her cheek. “Now bring your Daddy over here.”

“You make it difficult to teach her.” Kage hissed.

“I think she is doing remarkably.” Lucifer grabbed ahold of the cords of magic Neka still had wrapped around her hand and Kage’s wrist and he pulled the Viper to them. “So are you for that matter.”

“I don’t wish to interrupt a tender moment.” Raven interrupted quietly. “I will be brief.”

“You aren’t interrupting.” Lucifer tapped Kage on his lips. “This is my audience hall and I do love an audience.”

“Neka, don’t forget to take the magic you call into yourself.” Malice walked down her forehead and stood at the tip of her nose to distract her from the way Kage glared at Lucifer.

“Sponge!” Neka balled up her hands and concentrated on bringing all the magic inside. “Nyaa. Neka is full.”

“Tell me about this tiny guest you’ve brought, Raven.” Lucifer set Neka to her feet and patted her head as he smiled at his seamstress.

“Kazeishi.” Raven held out her hand and the strange fairy fluttered to it and stood there proudly.

“Beautiful name.” Lucifer stepped forward for a better look at the creature who had chosen to name herself using one of his favorite old languages. Like all fairies her eyes were devoid of the white and hers were a shiny black set into the soft grey of her skin. Her white hair trailed between her wings to the middle of her back and a thin devilish tail whipped excitedly behind her at his compliment. Wide set fangs glistened in her proud smile and her skin darkened in a dust of charcoal as he brushed his fingers down her side. “Such a well chosen name.”

“Why?” Neka pulled at Lucifer’s pants as she joined him and stood on her toes hoping to see the fairy better.

“Kaze means wind.” Kage lifted Neka and explained. “Ishi is stone.”

“Flying Rock!” Neka grinned. “Can Neka have her?”

“As much as I hate to deny you anything, I have to check the shadows as it is with Kagemusha and Malice now living here.” Lucifer grinned. “I won’t have another fairy making a home here.”

“But she has a tail.” Neka pouted. “Like Neka. Please?”

“Don’t beg, Neka.” Kage scolded her. “It is unbecoming.”

“Okay.” Neka laid her head against Kage’s shoulder. She was disappointed, but wanted to make him proud.

“Malice will be your companion.” Kage offered a compromise that Malice had already agreed to. She had been growing more and more attached to the girl with each passing day and taking part in all of her lessons.

“Forever and ever?” Neka looked up at him skeptically and waited for him to confirm. When he nodded and Malice settled onto her shoulder Neka purred and swung her tail. “Thank you, Daddy!”

“Our tails wouldn’t match anyway.” Kazeishi shrugged. “Yours is fuzzy.”

“You can still be Neka’s friend, Kiki.” Neka smiled.

“You’ve got a deal.” Kazeishi laughed. “Kiki, huh? I like it.”

“Kazeishi was interested in meeting the Keeper.” Raven finally got to the point of her visit. “Which is the reason I came to you, my Lord.”

“I was about to call on my Council.” Lucifer sat his hand beside Raven’s. “Raziel will be among them.”

“Good timing.” Kazeishi hopped onto Lucifer’s palm.

“For you perhaps.” Lucifer sighed. It was never good things that brought them together. He hoped that would change. “Thank you, Raven. I am as always glad for your loyalty. I still owe you for the help with Nikolai.”

“It was my pleasure, my Lord.” Raven bowed. “Think nothing of it. Your help for the little one is payment enough.”

“Thank you, Raven.” Kazeishi waved. “Can I come visit?”

“I would like that, Kiki.” Raven grinned and quickly took her avian form and flew off to leave Lucifer to his business.

“I think our daughter has renamed you.” Lucifer sat the fairy on his shoulder.

“It’s cute. I can work with it.” Kiki laughed. “Is this Raziel a nice guy?”

“No.” Kage hissed.

Lucifer laughed and took Kage’s arm to lead him back to more private quarters to wait for Lilith. Messages were sent to the Council to warn of a gathering and they all started to prepare themselves for the work to be done.

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TCOL : Death & New Life : Sisters Pt.1

At Gabriel’s request Dove finished all the necessary work in Osore and went to look in on a new ally of sorts in the realm of Heaven. When he sent her word of the miracle Maefyl had performed she had been speechless, but when she considered the untapped potential she and her sister had seen in him it was a relief to know it was not taking a more destructive direction.

“Hey lady!” A small voice called out to Dove as she approached the gates of Heaven’s grand castle.

“Hello there.” Dove turned to greet the voice and smiled at the awkward little fairy that approached. She opened her hand and marveled at the odd creature. Not only for her presence in Heaven but for he appearance because her white feathered calves and bird like feet were unlike those of any fairy Dove had seen. “Are you lost?”

“You tell me.” The fairy sighed and lifted on of her feet to make her point. “I don’t seem to belong anywhere. I’m too different for Itami.”

“I think you are very pretty.” Dove grinned and lifted her other arm to spread her cascade of feathers. “Though I might be biased.”

“There were whispers of a few new fairies.” The fairy smiled at Dove and sat in her palm. “One left with the one who brought her life. I wish I had that chance. I had to learn really huge magic really fast to find my spark.”

“And it led you here?” Dove looked up at the castle and thought about the tiny woman’s claim. A delicate race born from the miracle of remarkable firsts. From new life, from creation. Dove smiled down at the amazing creature in her hand. Maefyl’s miracles were stretching beyond his own realization. When he gave a true soul to the Seraph the magic gave a spark of life to this radiant and unique fairy in Itami.

“Yes.” The fairy nodded excitedly. “But it’s all locked up. Can you get me in?”

“I most certainly can.” Dove lifted the fairy to her shoulder. “Have you taken a name?”

“Gigi.” The fairy answered as she brushed some of her dusty magic from her feathered shoulders. “I was giggling a lot when I woke up. My sisters were teasing me for it. Giggly was just not cute enough.”

“Gigi is perfect.” Dove laughed and stepped through the opening doors. “Did you have plans to return to Itami?”

“I’m not sure.” Gigi scratched her fingers through her fiery red hair. “I guess they would get used to me eventually. Where do you live?”

“In this realm.” Dove answered as she walked past seraphim that bowed to her arrival in respect. “But I spend much time working in another.”

“Greetings, Lady Dove.” Geoffrey bowed his head as he carried a stack of books through the hall. He smiled at her arrival with a sense of strange new delight. Emotions so unique to him that even those that should be somewhat nerve-wracking were a joy to experience. “Checking up on me already?”

“That was my intention.” Dove smiled. Her arrival in Heaven had been enough of a review. The unrest Gabriel told her of was already settling and the guards at the castle were well organized and calm. “I may have a more interesting reason for my visit. I seem to have made a new friend on my way inside.”

“I hope you can make another before you leave.” Geoffrey sat the books on a long table and turned to greet her properly. He dropped to one knee and bowed his head to start his report on his progress. “The Seraphim have been easy to calm and are aiding in the realm of the blessed to keep the Cherabim settled, I regret that other angels are still widely upset and my word means nothing to them.”

“They will settle in time.” Dove assured him. “And please. Gabriel insists you are treated as an equal. Don’t bow to me.”

“I am flattered.” Geoffrey rose to his feet. “Also very aware that I am in no way your equal.”

“I think he is my spark.” Gigi grinned from Dove’s shoulder. “What is he called?”

“I’ve been given the name Geoffrey.” The angel introduced himself with a deep bow. “And if the freedom I was given gave a spark of life to such a creature I am even more humbled by the one who gave it.”

“The things Maefyl manages are astonishing.” Dove agreed.

“I’m Gigi.” The fairy flew over to Geoffrey and blinked her deep green eyes at him before she grabbed one of her ankles and presented her white claw. “Do you think my feet are strange?”

“Not at all.” Geoffrey blinked back at her with a smile. “They are the most beautiful feet I have ever seen.”

“What are you doing with these old tomes?” Dove ran her fingers over the books Geoffrey had been gathering.

“Research.” Geoffrey explained as he let Gigi grab his fingers with her feet. “I am trying to make sense of some of these old ideals. More for the purpose of finding a way to help ease others forward. If there are any principles worth carrying on that the stubborn can cling to…”

“You’re joining a battle Gabriel has fought over the ages.” Dove smiled at him. “He would be touched.”

“It seems a hopeless fight.” Geoffrey admitted. “Most don’t seem to embrace the best of things. They insist on clinging to the worst of what we have ever been.”

“Not most.” Dove sighed. “Only enough to be a problem.”

“Still upsetting.” Geoffrey smiled as Gigi ‘walked’ along the underside of his fingers. “All these pages have told me so far is that I still have a lot to learn.”

“We all do.” Dove closed one of the books he had been reading. “Most of your answers will not be discovered in here. Living is learning, Geoffrey.”

“As it happens, I’m still learning to live.” Geoffrey laughed but he had been beginning to realize hi research was going nowhere even before she pointed out the uselessness of the old books he had hauled together. “With or without these pages I should have plenty to keep me occupied for a while.”

“You won’t have to handle any of it alone.” Dove gave the Seraph a warm smile. She would have never guessed the creatures had the potential to be so open and pleasant, they had always been so stiff that it was difficult to believe the angel she spoke to now once shared the face of the same choir who guarded the halls of this place. “Even with my work in Osore, I still look after the affairs of this realm for Lord Gabriel.”

“Can I help?” Gigi hung from Geoffrey’s pinky and pointed to herself as he lifted his hand to look at her. She smiled as wide as she could. “I’m small, but I bet I can be useful!”

“If nothing else I could use company.” Geoffrey nodded. “I’m afraid I don’t have many true peers any longer. It would be nice to have someone to talk to.”

“I can definitely do that.” Gigi giggled and dropped into the tiny pocket on the breast of his suit. “And I fit in small places.”

“So you do.” Geoffrey laughed and looked to Dove for some sign of approval. He knew that Gabriel and Maefyl kept the companionship of fairies but he was uncertain of the details. “She is charming.”

“Be wary, Geoffrey.” Dove’s smile widened playfully. “Once fairies make a friend they don’t let go.”

“Scary.” Geoffrey teased as he laid his hand gently over his pocket. “And here I am with no defense. I will just have to remain her friend forever.”

“While the two of you become inseparable I will look in on the Blessed and attempt to settle the rest of the Cherabim.” Dove took her avian form and flew off confident that Maefyl and Gabriel were right to trust Geoffrey. That Maefyl had definitely not wasted his gift on an unworthy creature.

“A moment of your time, Dove.” Michael flew beside her and interrupted what seemed like an aimless flight.

“Or had you taken this form to avoid us?” Raphael taunted as he flapped close beside her.

“Why should I have to avoid you?” Dove reclaimed her form but widened the drape of feathers on each arm into usable wings to continue her flight. “I am here as I always am, looking after Heaven.”

“After the shameful way your Master treated Michael.” Uriel flew beneath her scowling before he went to Michael’s side. “I thought you would fear retaliation.”

“From you lot?” Dove laughed.

“Watch your tone, seamstress.” Raphael snapped. “Gabriel isn’t here to protect you.”

“Both of you have said enough.” Michael sighed. “Join me later.”

“Even if I liked any of you enough not to tell Gabriel about your threats, my motivation to do so is no longer an issue.” Dove grinned aside at Michael as the others disappeared. “Maefyl will know.”

“If it makes any difference to either you or Maefyl, I had no intention to make the threats myself.” Michael pulled his wings hard against the air and righted himself. “At least none towards you.”

“Meaning what, Michael?” Dove similarly stopped to face him. “Are there not enough troubles facing us?”

“Depending on who you are those list of troubles may differ.” Michael explained. “For instance a Seraph given authority and right to wander the castle unchecked.”

“Are you falling back to old ways Michael?” Dove glared at him. “Gabriel has given the horsemen more mercy and patience than any of you deserve. If you betray him again when so much is at stake…”

“Don’t speak to me in that way.” Michael drew his arm back to strike her, but stopped himself when he remembered Gabriel’s anger over another one of his creations. “My concern is that the newly curious angel will dig up secrets better left buried.”

“Secrets you helped bury?” Dove scoffed at him. “Stay away from the Seraph. You have your own orders.”

Dove left Michael and went to look over the realm of the Blessed as she had planned, but she now made it a priority to see to it as quickly as possible so she could relay some information to Gabriel. He may know more about any secrets hidden in the castle and how best to deal with the horsemen and any other residents of Heaven that had a problem with a Seraph having a free soul.

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TCOL : Death & New Life : ♛ Traps ♗

“Can I help you?” Bishop had spent most the evening crying and when he opened the door expecting to see Zack he had to wipe his face on his sleeve.

“Poor sweet Bishop.” Lilith floated closer and flicked her fingers calling a deep red handkerchief into her hand. She blotted at Bishop’s face and stroked his hair a moment before he pulled away. Lilith folded her arms and smiled at him. “Someone so young should not have so much pain in his eyes. I regret that I will be adding to it.”

“I’m sorry?” Bishop looked at the petite demon floating on his front doorstep completely bewildered by her presence. “I’m new to conversing with demons, but I think we might have skipped a few hours of conversation. Have we met?”

“Not officially.” Lilith pulled her legs up gracefully and sat on the edge of the small railing by the door. “I have just been watching.”

“Won’t walk on the ground, but you’ll sit on a rusted railing.” Bishop sighed and pushed the door open. “Come in, miss.”

“Mistress, not miss.” Lilith smiled as she shifted behind Bishop and tapped his shoulder. “Lilith.”

“So we’ve moved from strangers to awkward acquaintances.” Bishop tossed a handful of tissues into the bin and walked to the sink hoping he would find it easier to talk to his guest if he didn’t have to face her. “I am going to guess you aren’t here to make friends.”

“More accurately to replace them.” Lilith went to his side and grasped his shoulder tightly. “And to offer you a far more interesting life than you will have in Vex.”

“Replace.” Bishop squeezed his eyes closed and knew somehow the one friend he had was gone. “Raziel said he would let him live.”

“He intended to.” Lilith pulled herself onto the counter and crossed her legs. “It was not Raziel who killed your nasty little burden. I took his life.”

“Why?” Bishop looked away from her sobbing. “He was just a kid.”

“With rebellious tendencies that would have led him to be an awful adult.” Lilith laughed. “Don’t mourn him. Be glad you will not be dragging him from countless gutters. You were not his friend, you were his caretaker and I freed you of the burden. Had I not, Raziel would have been punished for not doing his duty. Of the two of them, which do you think Tsuriai is better off without?”

“That’s not my decision to make.” Bishop felt guilt choking him and his body reacted by spilling the dinner he forced himself to eat into the sink. It felt like a lie. He had made the decision to tell his parents secrets, to walk into the Circle building and tell Raziel about the strange demon he had met, and he had led the Circle to a houseful of former classmates that he could now picture dead. Tears stung his eyes and the stench of vomit burned his nose as he thought of the parents mourning their children over the decision he had made.

“It was made for you.” Lilith turned on the water snd smoothed back his hair as he wept. “Lucifer’s Council wants that filth eradicated. Raziel is part of that Council, he has no right to make exception to the laws we create without seeking approval. That wretched Keeper owes me for sparing him the punishment he greatly deserves.”

“Nice to know the ones that are supposed to help us get along about as well as we do.” Bishop grabbed a glass from beside the sink and filled it as he tried to shake off the sick feeling. “I actually kind of like Raziel and his friends. If he was going to be in trouble, I wish he would have just told me.”

“He’s too arrogant for that.” Lilith scoffed. “Still I can’t deny his reasoning. He saw something good in you and wanted it to thrive.”

“This is where the woman who just admitted to killing my best friend makes the offer that’s too good to be true?” Bishop downed the glass of water and wiped his face with a towel. “The Circle already gave me money I don’t want. My family was shit and they are gone. In the last week most of the people I know…”

“Shh.” Lilith put a finger to her lips. “You will only make yourself miserable if you insist on reminding yourself what is lost. Yes I have an offer for you, but one that will solve many of the things that are troubling you. It will give you a chance to leave Vex for a while and put distance between you and a painful past. It will give you a more suitable set of peers and you will be doing good.”

“A job?” Bishop was almost glad he had just been embarrassingly ill as it helped hide his interest. “What kind of work could demons possibly need me for?”

“I’m hesitant to offer an answer to that open a question.” Lilith laughed. “I’m sure some demons could find very creative uses for you, but you needn’t worry about that. I have a more specific and far more innocent task in mind.”

“Which is?” Bishop was not sure how to read her smile. It seemed so warm, but chills ran down his spine as she spoke.

“Patience.” Lilith floated from the counter and hovered daintily just inches off the floor. “You’ll need to learn some proper etiquette.”

“Etiquette?” Bishop looked at her baffled. “I haven’t been impolite to any one.”

“For a human living in Vex you do quite well.” Lilith smiled. “But as I said you would be leaving Vex for a while. The demons that come to Tsuriai are a tad more tolerant of humans. Those in Hell however are more demanding of respect.”

“Hell?” Bishop laughed to himself before he tossed the towel in the sink. “Like where Lucifer lives? Hell?”

“Very specifically where Lucifer lives.” Lilith grinned. “For as long as you are needed you would be a guest of my Lord’s estate.”

“Miss…tress Lilith.” Bishop sighed. “If you aren’t ready to print out contracts anyway, I would really like some time alone. This is too much for me.”

“Would you like me to tuck you in?” Lilith moved forward and hugged him.

“I’m a little old for that.” Bishop pulled out of her embrace as pleasantly as he could. “And I will probably spend the next week attending memorials, so a little warning before visiting would be nice.”

“Contracts are unnecessary.” Lilith laid her handkerchief over his shoulder and smiled wickedly. “I just need you to consider what I’ve said.”

“Which is not much of anything.” Bishop was too exhausted to argue. His head ached and his stomach was still in knots. He just wanted a quick end to the conversation so he could mourn in peace. “What is it you want from me?”

“A few short years.” Lilith offered her hand. “Let’s talk about this elsewhere. I have a meeting soon. If you agree, that’s all the contract I need.”

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TCOL : Death & New Life : Looking Forward Pt.2 (18+)

“Where were we?” Maefyl turned back to Gabriel and almost lost control of himself. With his concerns fading Gabriel’s expression had softened and the smile that sat on his lips was so subtle anyone else would have missed it. With his eyes barely open as if he were sitting at his desk thinking Gabriel had the untouchable allure that had driven Maefyl mad for centuries. When Gabriel didn’t answer Maefyl awkwardly tilted his head into Gabriel’s line of sight. “Were you finished talking?”

“I still have to question whether I am awake on occasion.” Gabriel leaned to kiss Maefyl and they both managed to restrain themselves and Maefyl wiped his gloss from Gabriel’s lips before he laughed. “Is that amusing?”

“Only because I was just thinking about how crazy it made me to want you.” Maefyl hugged his angel tightly. “We’re awake. You ready to answer a few of my questions?”

“I said I would.” Gabriel slid his hands under Maefyl’s shirt and up his back. He smiled and bit Maefyl’s ear. “I didn’t say I wouldn’t try to distract you.”

“As long as I’m the only one you are distracting.” Maefyl took a fistful of Gabriel’s hair and licked up his neck. “I don’t ever want to see Samael leaning over you again.”

“I don’t return his flirting, Maefyl.” Gabriel pushed Maefyl to the bed and pinned his arms. “He was not leaning over me. I would never allow it. I need you to remember that as strong as you’ve become, you are not going to win in a fight against the two of them. I tolerate their incessant begging for my attention because it is simpler and safer than risking an attack on you. Don’t taunt them, don’t tempt them, don’t give them any reason to break the fragile truce sitting on Council provides. And don’t you ever again accuse me of giving my love and affection to anyone but you.”

“Oh, it’s going to be one of those nights again.” Sanguine fluttered to the headboard and smiled as she sat to watch them. Maefyl met Gabriel’s kiss with equal passion and delight. He had pushed just hard enough to drive Gabriel to take him. Sanguine loved watching the way they played with each other. Even on the more frenzied unions like this one they took such care with each others needs. It was beautiful.

“That’s what sex is?” Vafera whispered to Gory as she watched Gabriel and Maefyl. Like all fairies she was born with knowledge and concepts, she had a grasp of affection and love as her race understood it but seeing the intimate love of other races was a shock. “Do they do this a lot?”

“They are in love.” Gory nodded.

“He’s bleeding.” Vafera jumped up to help and Gory grabbed her by the foot.

“Maefyl is a vampire.” Gory explained in a hush. “That’s normal.”

“Shhh.” Sanguine was still fawning over the sight of Maefyl from the headboard and didn’t want their ‘guest’ interrupting. She giggled when Maefyl suddenly reached back and clutched the headboard on either side of her.

“Fuck.” Maefyl laughed when he heard his phone. “I don’t care who it is, if you stop right now I’m not speaking to you for a month.”

“Gory, would you.” Gabriel leaned in to tease Maefyl as he grabbed his hips tighter. “And you can’t go a week without me.”

“Hello, You’ve reached Maefyl’s phone.” Gory giggled as she stepped on the speaker button. “He is making all that noise you can probably hear. Something I can help you with?”

“That isn’t noise.” Vikarr laughed. “That is music and I applaud Gabriel’s skill as a conductor.”

“I don’t think they were as amused by that as you were.” Gory shook her head. “What did you want?”

“I do apologize for the timing.” Vikarr continued. “News spread quickly and my succubi were enraged by what took place in Itami. Luckily they are clever creatures and put their fury to practical use and doubled their efforts. Seven more of the torturous distribution centers have been located and most of the network that supplies them has been weeded out and named. I am sending the information to Asura and to you, but I wanted to make you aware of a change. It has been difficult even for my pretties to find some information. It was as if each rung on the ladder was ignorant of the next. I believe that cloud is beginning to lift. If my succubi are learning more, both you and the Keeper…”

“Thanks Vikarr.” Maefyl managed to gasp out his gratitude before Gabriel kissed him.

“I think that’s about all you’re going to get out of him for now, Vikarr.” Gory giggled. “Say hi to everybody for me.”

“Give those beautiful Master’s of yours a little lick for me.” Vikarr cackled as he hung up.

“You have a message on here from Raziel as well.” Gory moved through the screens with her toes to read it. “He says Farren was in Vex and seemed disoriented.”

“I don’t think they are listening.” Vafera stood on her hands for a better different point of view. “It looks sort of complicated.”

“Would you shush.” Sanguine insisted. As much because she didn’t want to see the intimacy end as because Vafera’s high pitched voice kept interrupting her own daydreams.

“De kosh sekni malika.” Gabriel sat up on his feet and let his fingertips caress their way down Maefyl’s torso. “Sesa’tach sek kofret besek saba mave paraki vat onsa paskazuku.”

“I would hope it’s more than my body you love.” Maefyl winked at him before he reached for his cigarettes. “I know I look good, but I want you to respect me in the morning.”

“I would have had to respect you to begin with.” Gabriel pinched Maefyl’s side. “I suppose you want to run after Farren now?”

“I’m just going to check in with Raziel.” Maefyl exhaled and waved at the smoke to clear it away. “The message was vague and there is no point in chasing him. He shows up when we shut down their torture chambers. I’m not wasting time wandering aimlessly. Don’t forget that at the heart of this is Lucy shaking the board. He wants the Council working together.”

“So we regroup and focus.” Sanguine fluttered to Maefyl’s bare shoulder and rubbed against the warm skin of his neck.

“If Vikarr and Raziel are right, the mess in Tsuriai will be swept up quickly.” Maefyl stroked Sanguine with his fingers. “Recovery for some is going to take a lot longer than what I could help with, but Itami still survived and I doubt Lucifer will endure another attack on the Garden.”

“Why?” Gory sneered. “He’s already let so many suffer to prove how right he is. He let our sisters in Itami die. The nether race be tortured and killed. Dragons slaughtered for sport. He is not above letting others suffer.”

“Gory, I’m not going to tell you that what he did is right, or forgivable, or even justifiable. It is however already done and now we have to look forward and if learning how to sustain his magic to protect the Gardens myself will keep the rest of you safe I will figure it out. But trust me when I say he had his reasons and I don’t think he ever meant for it to go this far. I know he has no way to feel your loss or express enough regret to satisfy the hurt you feel, but he does hurt and he does regret what happened.” Maefyl wasn’t sure how else to explain without using himself as an example. “I had no real idea how deeply he suffered the simplest offense against nature until I tried to do a fraction of what he does without effort. When he let a district of souls fall in the Realm of the blessed to teach me that lesson I was already in so much pain, I got the point but bearing the weight without knowing how is nothing compared to letting it be a part of you.”

“I know.” Gory pouted and carried Maefyl’s phone to him. “I’m just angry. We aren’t like other races. Aside from the pixies which are frail and useless in the grand scheme of things to begin with, Vafera and Blondie are the only two fairies born in hundreds of years. Both of them through miracles you worked. Unless you plan on being a very active creator we will soon be more endangered then the dodo and the Black Pegasus.”

“We’ll do what we can.” Gabriel offered his hand to Gory and held her to his chest once she slid into his palm. He gave Maefyl an understanding smile. He had felt the pain, but the clarity Maefyl had found was astounding. Gabriel had been frightened of Maefyl growing too quickly, of chaos overwhelming him or this new magic, the light of his own father swallowing everything there was of the one he loved; instead Maefyl did as he had always done. He made the magic his own, he bent the strength to suit him and wore his pain as a reminder not to take what he gained for granted. He was still young, prone to fits of rage and let his emotions get the better of him so often, but Maefyl was more humble than ever despite the fact he was easily now on par with most Watchers and could likely best most of them. Gabriel squeezed Maefyl’s hand around the phone. “Go ahead and ask Raziel what you need to.”

“It won’t change anything.” Maefyl decided to send Raziel a message instead of calling to prevent awkward moments like the one Vikarr had created. Raziel’s reply came quickly and just as Maefyl had expected Raziel had not seen Farren himself. Through the thoughts of the child that did he surmised that Farren had been unexpectedly delivered to Vex and was prompt in getting away from the Watchers he knew were hunting him. “I told you there wouldn’t be a point in going.”

“And your other search?” Gabriel had let Gory sob quietly against him without embarrassing her by drawing attention to the tears she felt on his skin. He was relieved that as he spoke she crawled up his fingers and fluttered her wings with a smile.

“Lucy is supposed to narrow it down, Farren is cornering himself.” Maefyl gently ran the back of his pinky down Gory’s face before he tapped the headboard. “These two sweethearts are going to sit back here and you…”

Maefyl sat up and smiled at Gabriel as he pulled his arms around him. He didn’t have a chance to finish teasing Gabriel, his angel pulled him into a kiss and offered his bite to begin their dark kiss. The taste of each other only heightened desire and feeling Gabriel’s hand in his hair and pulling against his back made him put bloodlust on hold long enough to make a sultry demand. “Take me, kevas.”

“My beautiful mess.” Gabriel wiped the blood from Maefyl’s lips and hung his head as the phone rang beside them. If it had been any other name on the screen he would have thrown it to the floor and blissfully obliged Maefyl’s request, but he answered as Maefyl laid against his chest and they both laughed at their luck. “Hello, Asura.”

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TCOL : Death & New Life : Looking Forward Pt.1

“Finally.” Maefyl jumped onto the bed and stretched out. He smiled over at Gabriel and hugged a few pillows in front of him. “Don’t look so disappointed. I’m just glad to be home.”

 “So am I.” Gabriel walked to the bed and sat on the edge of it to unlace Maefyl’s boots. “You can rest.”

 “I might get offended if you don’t jump on me.” Maefyl pushed up to his elbows and looked back at Gabriel. “I’m okay, Gabriel.”

 “I’ll jump on you.” Sanguine crawled up Maefyl’s hair and hopped up and down on his head.

 “I doubt that is what he had in mind.” Gory laughed and stroked Gabriel’s neck compassionately before she took Vafera by her hand and fluttered to the nightstand. She watched him toss Maefyl’s boots to the floor and hoped whatever was keeping him so quiet would pass quickly.

 “Are you really okay, Maefyl?” Sanguine sat suddenly and pouted. He came through the ordeal like he always did, but Gabriel’s expression since had been miserable. She could only assume he was feeling something in Maefyl that she couldn’t.

 “I said I’m okay.” Maefyl collapsed into the pillow and screamed before he rolled over and sat up laughing. “You both worry too much.”

 “Forgive us both for caring when you are in pain.” Gabriel grabbed his violin and set it under his chin. As he started to play he changed the subject, he knew Maefyl was determined to conquer Lucifer’s new challenge and the pain was little more than a dull ache now. There were more immediate concerns that needed to be dealt with and Gabriel had given Maefyl his word he would tell him everything. He smiled at Maefyl to set a better tone for the conversation. “I don’t even know where to begin with so many issues vying for attention. I have promised you answers and intend to give them to you, but I need a few from you. The simplest of which may actually frighten me the most. All of this new strength…”

 “Is a little overwhelming.” Maefyl pulled out a cigarette and lit it before he made himself comfortable again. “I don’t know what to do with all of it. I can honestly tell you I am doing better with it than I expected, but I have never been so fucking scared of my own temper. I am sorry as fuck that you have to share the hurt, Gabriel. I kept Itami without argument because I thought something else to focus on would help.”

 “Power has made you more rational.” Gabriel grinned as he drew his bow across the strings and filled the room with a sweet sound. “Not it’s normal effect.”

 “I really wish that was the case.” Maefyl smirked. “I’m still the same fuck up. I am not however an idiot. I know I’m a fuck up, so I am going out of my way to minimize the damage.”

 “You have to get into some trouble.” Sanguine pulled at Maefyl’s hair and wiped tears from her face. “I’ll get bored.”

 “There should be enough trouble to keep you entertained without Maefyl’s unique flair, Sanguine.” Gabriel sighed and laid his violin beside the bed. He stroked Maefyl’s ankle and smiled. “I’m proud of you.”

 “If you knew how badly I just wanted to destroy things you wouldn’t be.” Maefyl looked away ashamed. “This isn’t easy. I walk past people so vile I want to rip them to shreds and I have to remind myself that I shouldn’t even know the secrets I’m hearing. That we’re supposed to protect them. I look at the faces of angels that insulted me for ages and know I could tear them apart now, but I fight it.”

 “Maefyl, you aren’t alone with such troubles.” Gabriel smiled. “All those with strength have a crisis of heart when deciding how to use it. No one expects your every thought to be free of anger. If you knew how often I thought of dismembering the men and women who approached you, or the young men who make lurid comments as Asura walks by… We all fantasize about ridding ourselves of annoyances and rivals in brutal ways. It is in having the power to do so and choosing not to that is the more impressive strength.”

 “We already know you suck at being a villain.” Sanguine added giggling and fluttered down to kiss Maefyl’s nose. “You don’t have that evil laugh.”

 “I’ll take lessons from Kage.” Maefyl shrugged and sat up in front of Gabriel. “Are you less worried?”

 “Somewhat.” Gabriel unbuttoned his collar. “It wasn’t my only concern and you should feed.”

 “I bite you right now and the conversation is over.” Maefyl moved closer and wrapped his legs around Gabriel as he buttoned his collar. “I want you too much right now. So if we’re talking, just talk.”

 “What do you expect from this search from Iesu?” Gabriel laid his fingers against Maefyl’s face. “If we find the soul.”

 “Put it back where it belongs I guess.” Maefyl was generally glad he was denied the contents of Gabriel’s mind, but he would have liked some clue as to what made him ask. “I wasn’t aware there were other options.”

 “There aren’t any that would be kind.” Gabriel kissed Maefyl’s face. “I wanted to warn you of that ahead of time.”

 “Meaning what exactly?” Maefyl laughed softly and grabbed Gabriel’s sides.

 “Meaning you have a tendency to follow your heart even when it is not the best option.” Gabriel explained as kindly as he could. “A soul that mad can not be saved. The best we can do is put it back in the safety and care of the realm it has spent most of its existence in. I know you have a certain attachment to the boy he once was, but there is no real hope of befriending his ghost.”

 “I’m just trying to do what’s right.” Maefyl sighed. “I didn’t really know him to begin with. I just watched him suffer.”

 “You tried.” Gabriel smiled. “You weren’t permitted to do more. I was not intending to open old wounds, I am trying to prevent new ones.”

 “I got it, Gabriel.” Maefyl rested his head on Gabriel’s shoulder. “I can’t keep ghost Jesus as a pet.”

 “Speaking of pets.” Sanguine poked at Maefyl’s neck. “What are you doing with that other girl?”

 “What girl?” Maefyl raised an eyebrow as he sat up.

 “The glow worm.” Sanguine flew in front of him scowling as she pointed at Vafera. “You can’t make me pretty cake flowers and then bring another girl home. That’s just bad manners.”

 “She’s a guest, Sany.” Maefyl laughed and cupped his fingers around his jealous friend. He loved how she flapped her wings through his fingers and flushed when he kissed her face. “My shoulder is all yours.”

 “Pockets, too.” Sanguine grinned and pointed at him to make her demands. “Any visitors need my permission.”

 “Deal.” Maefyl sat her back on her privileged perch and turned to look at Vafera sitting bashfully with Gory. “Don’t mind, Sany. I spoil her.”

 “It’s okay.” Vafera’s blush made her skin brighten. “I want to find my own shoulder to sit on.”

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TCOL : Death & New Life : Hesitant Pt.2

“He seems like a nice kid.” Shana smiled at Raziel.

“More so than most.” Raziel nodded as he sent very specific orders to Galik to take care of the sudden appearance of a drug that Vex was supposed to be free of. He also sent a message to Brig to work with Vikarr’s succubi to be certain the incident was isolated and not a sign of something larger slithering it’s way into the city. Once he had responses he slid his phone onto the desk. “Did you want to discuss something, puppet?”

Shana nodded and followed Raziel to his chair. She was surprised when he offered his lap, but gladly took his hand and settled there with a flush in her cheeks.

“I find it amusing you were so vocal when trying to claim a right to my affection, but now that you are entitled to come to me you rarely make an effort to do so.” Raziel ran a finger along the line of her jaw and let his fingertip resting under her chin as he spoke to her. “I try to cater to each of your needs, but as there are four of you to satisfy I do rely somewhat on each of you to…”

“I can’t just demand time with you.” Shana smiled. “I like being with you, but I’m okay with whatever free time you give me.”

“Stubborn girl.” Raziel cocked his head slightly. “Who do you think you are lying to?”

“It’s not really a lie.” Shana sighed and poked at the rings on her ear. “I am just being realistic. We don’t have the same kind of bond. I don’t feel I should try and take any time away from those with a proper right to you. Plus I think Brig prefers things the way they are. It makes it easier on him to know exactly when we are together and what is going on.”

“Knowing, yes.” Raziel licked up the rings on Shana’s ear. “But there are times when seeing it is painful for him. Brig is complicated.”

“I know that.” Shana laughed and leaned back to look at Raziel. “You know it is about more than sex for me though. I’m just as interested in time spent together with our clothes on. I don’t know how to do that without making Brig feel left out.”

“I believe that is part of why Brig has insisted on more social gatherings.” Raziel kissed her face. “The two of you have so many of the same concerns. You each want my love but still put each other’s hearts above all else.”

“Sorry.” Shana lowered her eyes. “It’s not easy loving two people.”

“Try four.” Raziel pulled her close. “I don’t fault either of you for it. I am grateful for the love you give me, puppet. The situation is simpler for Van and Galik. They belong only to me. You and Brig had one another before I claimed you as my own; you both have my understanding and respect of the vows you took.”

“How is it so easy for you?” Shana laid her head on Raziel’s shoulder and made herself comfortable in his arms and he pulled his chair up to his desk. “You just hold whichever of us is close enough. Are you ever disappointed it isn’t the one you wanted right then?”

“Are you concerned that I am disappointed now?” Raziel slid his computer closer and started to look over his Circle business. “I love each of you. If I did not enjoy your company I would not have you near me.”

“I mean would you rather have Van on your lap?” Shana regretted the question when she heard it come out of her mouth. Raziel never denied any of them.

“I would rather you rid yourself of these doubts.” Raziel stroked her back and gathered a few of her braids in his fingers. Shana had confidence in most aspects of her life, but when it came to her place in this family her esteem wavered. Raziel often saw her thoughts leading her into doubt and depression as she compared herself to Van and to the demons and vampires she had become acquainted with in other Circles. Raziel could understand the way she admired the demon aesthetic, but he disliked the way she discounted her own beauty on account of it. “You are a clever girl, very beautiful, and every bit as entitled to my time as any of my puppets. I am also not inclined to demand our every moment alone be spent in intimate passion. You can come to me for anything, Shana. You may have a different bond with me than the others, but you are still my bride.”

“Thank you.” Shana grabbed his clothes and pulled herself tight against him. “If you have some time later, I could use someone for duets.”

“I’ll make time.” Raziel tightened his embrace and willed open his office for Brig’s return.

“Keeping each other warm for me?” Brig smirked when he came inside swinging Cid and Tali by their feet.

“Shana is quite cold, actually.” Raziel answered as he finished answering a few messages and read over several others. “I apologize for the extra work.”

“My dinner was seriously late.” Shana grinned at Brig. “Are you all finished?”

“Sorry, ShaSha.” Brig let the fargoyles climb up his arms as he walked to the desk. They were both quick to fly off and find ways to entertain themselves when Brig leaned over his spouses and braced himself against the edge of the desk and the back of Raziel’s chair. Brig rarely had the dilemma of greeting them both at the same time and decided on etiquette for the decision of who got the first kiss. Shana caressed his neck as they kissed and Brig could feel Raziel watching them. Watching the same way he would watch Van and Galik. Brig turned to smile at Raziel when Shana kissed her way down his neck and bit into it. “You enjoy that?”

“Watching the beautiful creatures I’ve surrounded myself with in wildly unchecked passion?” Raziel leaned closer and licked Brig’s lips. “Yes.”

“Vikarr’s girls are checking, but it looks like whatever problem you found is not affecting all of Vex.” Brig wiped Shana’s lips as she relaxed back into Raziel’s arms. “Any other trouble you need me to take care of?”

“No.” Raziel laid his hand on Brig’s side. “Van and Galik are bringing the rest of the days trouble.”

“Bringing?” Shana asked and sat up further.

“I want Bishop’s young friend to understand this mercy will not be repeated.” Raziel watched Brig stand and lost his will to speak when he felt Brig’s fingers disrupting the simple magic that he used to keep his hair smoothed back away from his face. Brig shook the strands loose and pulled some of the hair along the side of his face so it fell much like Galik’s. “I do not intend to keep my hair like this, it is distracting.”

“You should do it anyway.” Demise giggled from Brig’s shoulder. “It looks good.”

“She’s right.” Brig smiled. “What do you think, ShaSha?”

“Sexy.” Shana nodded. “I like it.”

“Let go of me!” Zack whined as Galik dragged him up the stairs. “I didn’t do anything.”

“Bzzt!” Van teased as she bounced up the stairs behind them sucking on her lollipop. “You broke Tsuriai law. You should be as dead as disco.”

“What is disco?” Frikk reached for the stick of Van’s lollipop as she leaned over her shoulder. Van grinned as she clicked it across her teeth. “Oh, boo. Almost got it that time.”

“Cheesy old music.” Van answered laughing.

“Stop squirming.” Galik pulled Zack along and sighed as the boy grabbed the railing. “Why didn’t you want to just come back the fast way?”

“Because this is hilarious!” Van laughed. “How much you want to bet he soaks his shorts before Raziel is done with him?”

“I won’t do the shit anymore.” Zack whimpered when Van smacked his fingers off the railing. “I don’t want to die. Let me go.”

“You’re stupid.” Frakk yawned as he flapped along beside Galik. “I like the other one better.”

“Hi, Razzy!” Van ran ahead and peeked into the office. “Hi, you guys!”

“Welcome back, puppet.” Raziel stood and sat Shana to her feet beside Brig before he shifted in front of his desk. Van winked at him as she skipped over and stood beside him proudly. Frikk dropped to the desk behind them and opened one of the drawers to get herself some candy.

“This is more trouble than it’s worth, Lord Raziel.” Galik tossed Zack forward onto the floor in front of Raziel. “Why are we not killing this one?”

“A favor to a more honorable human.” Raziel very quickly gathered all the information he needed from the boys mind. The party hosted by his female friend was an isolated incident. The HP had been provided by a visiting family member who had already left Vex. All of it had been used or destroyed by Galik. “Though I won’t have my mercy insulted.”

“He will not have the chance to insult it.” Lilith arrived and kicked Zack flat against the floor. “The rules this child broke were not a mandate of your Circle, Raziel. My Lord will not tolerate leniency for this.”

“Then your Lord can explain the broken word to this child’s friend.” Raziel answered coldly. “Why are you here, Lilith?”

“Cover her eyes, Brig.” Lilith grinned as she wrapped sharp threads of magic around the boy under her feet. As Zack started screaming from the pain of the threads slicing into his skin and cursing barely articulated thoughts about his predicament, Brig held Shana in front of him, but she refused the offer to shield her from what was going to happen. Lilith smiled at the girl’s growing courage before she returned her attention to the Keeper. “You supported this law, Raziel. I’m here to ensure it is upheld and let you keep your hands clean.”

Zack was screaming from the pain of the threads slicing into his skin, cursing over his predicament and barely able to articulate his thoughts.

“Since when does Lucifer care about the state of my hands?” Raziel stepped toward Lilith as she gave him a wicked smile. “Do not expect my gratitude for this.”

“Can we have his wheel thing?” Frakk tugged at Galik’s pants.

“It’s called a skateboard, Frakk.” Van laughed quietly and swatted at him.

“It is Bishop you’re interested in.” Raziel watched Lilith closely as she tightened the strands to make the child scream.

“A human with such strong ethics.” Lilith grinned. “Willing to see his peers, his own family, die for the sake of goodness. He lives without concern for himself. He is more than interesting, Keeper.”

Lilith pulled all of her threads through Zack, leaving torn shreds of flesh on the floor and splattering Raziel and his puppets with blood and remains of the boy. She hovered above the mess and delicately crossed her ankles as she laughed.

“This is disgusting.” Shana wiped off slivers of what used to be a human teenager. “I thought Brig made a mess.”

“You should see what was left of his friends.” Van boasted and licked up the blood on Galik’s shoulder. “Messes are fun.”

“You value the boy for his uncommon nature, but this will test it.” Raziel wiped clean his office and his puppets as he approached Lilith. “He has already been through enough.”

“Which is why I fully expect you to look after him until I have time to collect him.” Lilith grinned. “He’s such a delicate soul. See that he’s comforted.”

“What do you want with him, doll face?” Brig rested his chin on Shana’s head. “Teenagers aren’t exactly in short supply. Why is this one special?”

“Mistress.” Shana whispered and stepped on Brig’s foot when she noticed the glare that accompanied Lilith’s grin.

“Right.” Brig sighed. “Mistress Lilith, I didn’t mean any disrespect. I’m just curious.”

“The rarest toys are the most fun to break.” Raziel interrupted. “Boys of his age may be plentiful, but not of his moral passion. He holds himself to a standard that he created for himself. His values often cause him pain, but he chooses to rise above it, not unlike yourself, puppet.”

“Bite your tongue, Keeper.” Lilith laughed. “You may be able to see my thoughts, but if you share a single one…”

“Lilith, your interference has already ensured I have to further postpone my plans.” Raziel gestured for the door. “Instead of using your Lord to threaten me, by all means return to his side so I might comfort the child you plan to torment and spend at least some time with those I love before I have to sit again at your Lord’s table.”

“Just take your puppets home and fuck them, Keeper.” Lilith scowled at him. “I’ll just take possession of the boy now and spare you any further involvement.”

“As you wish.” Raziel opened his arms for his spouses to gather close to him and laid his hands on Galik and Brig’s hips when they were close enough. The fargoyles were chasing each other around and between their Master’s legs and giggling. “I am certain I will see you again quite soon.”

Lilith vanished and Raziel left his locked office behind to enjoy a few quiet hours appreciating what he had in his arms. He was hesitant to admit even to himself that he was relieved for Lilith interfering. He would have regretted letting the boy live, his disgust over the drug and the deaths it caused would have made the mercy eat away at him. While her method and behavior had been vile, Lilith had done him a favor. He could rest easy knowing she would take full blame for the execution as well, giving him a much needed break from both Vex and the Council. He worried for the boy she had plans for, but the decision was well out of his hands.

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TCOL : Death & New Life : Hesitant Pt.1

“Yea, Zack?” Bishop answered his phone and kicked off down the street. “I need to stop somewhere.”

 “You gotta hurry up.” Zack giggled. “This stuff is great.”

 “What stuff?” Bishop sighed. “What have you let that girl get you in to?”

 “What’s this shit called Carrie?” Zack yelled into the phone.

 “HP!” Carrie laughed. “Is he coming or not?”

 “Zack are you out of your mind?” Bishop screamed at him and sped his pace. “Get the hell out of there and I’ll meet you at your place.”

 “No can do.” Zack hung up laughing.

 “Damn it.” Bishop rushed his way to the center of Vex and rolled across half the courtyard before he jumped off his board and tucked it under his arm to catch his breath. He stopped at the edge of the fountain and asked himself why he felt so compelled to come here. When he found out what his parents thought was an acceptable hobby he had to mail the information that led to their execution. He approached the doors slowly; they were as intimidating as the cold, blank face of the Head of the Circle.

 “You might get further if you go through the doors.” A sweet voice teased him for his sudden frozen stance and when he turned Shana smiled at him. “Did you need something?”

 “Yea.” Bishop shook his head. “No. I thought I should tell someone. I mean, there was this guy. Let me start over. Hi, I’m Bishop.”

 “Shana.” She laughed and poked the door behind him so it swung open. “I don’t know if anyone is back yet. I was just going in to wait myself. Who did you want to talk to?”

 “Raziel, I guess.” Bishop looked around the large empty hall and made an effort at small talk. “You run the library next door, right? Married the… Third?”

 “Yes and yes.” Shana started up the stairs to see if anyone had returned. Brig’s door opened for her as always, but he was still off running errands so she continued to Raziel’s door and raised her hand to knock. It opened and she opened her fingers to wiggle them in a silly wave at Raziel. “Welcome back, Lord Raziel. There is someone to see you.”

 “Come upstairs, Bishop.” Raziel put his arm around Shana and waited for the boy to clumsily climb the stairs.

 “I don’t want to be a pest.” Bishop tried to keep his eyes averted from the familiar way Raziel held the woman at his side. “I ran into this guy… Demon guy I mean. He seemed freaked out when I told him he was in Vex.”

 “Farren.” Raziel could see the encounter and was agitated that the angel had been in Vex, but Farren was disoriented and made a quick retreat. “He will be dealt with. Is that all?”

 “No.” Bishop turned away and leaned on the railing. “Can I ask you a favor first though? Not for me. For a stupid kid who needs a second chance.”

 “You want me to spare your friend the extent of Tsuriai law.” Raziel considered the boys plea. “Even if I agree, I will not spare the one spreading the filth and it will likely end your friendship. It would also be the only time I offer the mercy.”

 “If it means he lives I’m okay with it.” Bishop rubbed his eyes and sat the front wheels of his board over the railing and left it hanging there. “His folks are good people. Make them keep track of him until he gets over it. I feel like I should leave Vex.”

 “Why?” Shana blushed as Raziel pressed his fingers to her lips.

 “If you believe distance will ease your path forward I have friends in other Circles.” Raziel offered to help with the transition. “My puppets were fond of you, they would want me to help you.”

 “I could use the advice.” Bishop sighed. “Parents are gone, my best friend is about to hate me. There is not a lot to stick around for, but I’ve never been anywhere else.”

 “My advice for now is to be patient.” Raziel gave his cold response. “It is not the best time to leave Vex for another city.”

 “I wasn’t running home to pack a bag.” Bishop laughed. “But I gotcha.”

 “If you will excuse me.” Raziel gently pushed Shana toward his office and let her walk inside. “I just returned.”

 “I should go drag Zack home anyway.” Bishop nodded. Whatever affair was going on between the Circle demons was none of his business so he grabbed his board and waved. “Thanks.”

 “I’ll see to it he is delivered to his home.” Raziel spoke as always in a cold and detached tone, but when he sensed Bishop’s dread he explained more clearly. “He will be safe, but he will be the only one spared. I prefer you remain uninvolved.”

 “You can see in my bloody head, can’t you?” Bishop shuddered at the thought. Raziel had known who informed on the parents despite the ‘tip’ being anonymous, he answered too many questions before Bishop could even finish thinking them. “That’s how you knew it was me.”

 “I can.” Raziel answered.

 “Like everything?” Bishop crouched and felt like he had to inventory every thought he ever had to make sure he had not been rude.

 “Hey, don’t sweat it.” Shana leaned out the door and smiled. “If Lord Raziel didn’t like you he wouldn’t offer you help.”

 “Wait inside, puppet.” Raziel waved Shana inside and stepped closer to the boy. “You have nothing to fret over. As Shana told you I don’t waste my time on those I find irritating. Though I don’t appreciate the thoughts you’ve had questioning her character. Shana is my bride as much as she is Brig’s.”

 “Sorry.” Bishop sighed. “It isn’t my business anyway. I wouldn’t have said anything.”

 “I know you would not.” Raziel turned into his office. “We can speak another time, Bishop.”

 The door closed behind Raziel and Bishop stood up and wondered if he had made the demon angry. He couldn’t tell. The girl didn’t seem upset. And Raziel said he was going to send Zack home alive. Alive. Bishop headed down the stairs kicking himself for what he had done. Zack might live, but a house full of his peers might not be so lucky. Law or not, Bishop felt guilty for doing the ‘right’ thing.

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