Monthly Archives: February 2015

TCOL : Connections : Surrender Pt.1

“They are all kind of pretty.” Caleb whispered to Myrt. “What are they going to do with this guy they are bringing?”

“I should dig out your eyes for that.” Myrt grinned. “I have no idea.”

“Both of you shut up.” Asura scolded them and cuddled between Azazel and Bezer. “This isn’t funny.”

“Rest, my pet.” Nikolai stroked her hair as he stood behind the three of them and waited. “Your Father will return shortly.”

“Vivi…” Eliza woke disoriented and cradled in Vikarr’s arms. His sad eyes told her that what she remembered had not been a dream and she wrapped her arms around his neck and wept quietly on his shoulder.

“We will mourn her properly later, lovely.” Vikarr told her softly and tightened his embrace. The strange fairy that had been hanging about in his ponytail slid to one of Eliza’s arms and walked to her shoulder. “Why are you still hanging about?”

“To make you feel better.” The fairy stroked Eliza’s neck. “It’s okay pretty girl. Cry it all out and we’ll make you smile again.”

“Is Kiki going to go with them?” Neka sniffled and tugged on Lucifer’s hand.

“Neka, you’ve been given a pet.” Lucifer tussled her hair and lifted her onto his lap. “Kazeishi has to decide for herself which company she keeps.”

“It should not take this long.” Kage paced in front of the throne. “I should have gone.”

“It has been minutes, Kage.” Samael laughed. “You used to be more patient.”

“I find that hard to believe.” Shiroi mumbled.

“Devana, Welak Isa.” Samael wrapped his tail around her ankle. “There is enough to worry over without another misunderstanding between the two of you.”

The room went silent as Eidolon arrived holding Farren by his hair. He pushed him to his knees as the others gathered near the throne. When Eidolon went to join them Farren looked up at more than a dozen faces filled with pain and rage that he had caused and deserved.

“Maefyl will join us in a moment.” Raziel walked past Farren to join his loves.

“Azrael?” Samael grinned.

“Is with him.” Raziel explained coldly.

“Don’t react without reason, Gabby.” Lucifer kissed Neka’s cheek and lifted her as he stood. He set her beside Kage and walked toward Farren. “Welcome to Hell, angel.”

“I’ve had warmer invitations.” Farren felt tears on his face and laughed at himself for being overwhelmed with fear. “Just bear in mind; Lucifer, that I am here because I accepted it.”

“A surrender.” Lucifer crouched in front of him and smiled wickedly. “And why would you do that?”

“Because he’s tired of living.” Maefyl winked at Gabriel to get his focus off of Azrael’s behavior. “Just get what we need out of him.”

“Myrt, if you would.” Gabriel sighed.

“You won’t need the dream weavers.” Farren hung his head and sat back on the floor. “I’ll tell you what you want.”

“The catch?” Nikolai asked. “You can’t possibly expect us to trust you.”

“I’ll give everything I know to the Keeper if my honesty is in doubt.” Farren wiped the tears from his face. “My only request in exchange is that you save Evadia.”

“Evadia?” Maefyl lit himself a cigarette and reminded himself not to attack before they had answers as he leaned into Gabriel’s arms. “If that’s Kava, no deal. No one here is that forgiving.”

“Evadia is her daughter.” Farren cringed at the thought. “My daughter.”

“Not the name we have been waiting for, angel.” Lucifer grinned. “Myrt, we may need you to inspire the walking corpse after all.”

“I said I would give you the name.” Farren pleaded with every ounce of his sincerity. “I’ll take you to the damn woman myself and accept any death you give me, Lucifer. Just give me your promise you will save the girl.”

“I’m bored with this.” Kage hissed. “What would you have him do with this soon to be orphaned child? It should die with it’s troublesome parents.”

“That’s unfair, Kage.” Asura retorted angrily. “Should Kaneko have just killed me?”

“Nyaa.” Kaneko grinned. “Not a chance, Squirt.”

“We can figure out the spawn once we’ve dealt with parentage.” Lilith insisted. “Give him a sweet lie or have Myrt do what we called him for.”

“Myrt is unnecessary at this juncture. With or without his agreement we will have his knowledge.” Raziel explained. “His mind is opening rapidly as Kava’s protection fades. She has truly abandoned her pawn.”

“Lord Lucifer, a guest.” A large gargoyle stood at the doors to the audience hall with his eyes closed and the doors barely cracked. “A strange angel.”

“Did you have a yard sale, Gabby?” Lucifer stood and laughed his response to his sentry. “His name?”

“He says it is Geoffrey, Lord.” The gargoyle continued quietly. “He wishes to speak with you and my Lord’s Maefyl and Gabriel.”

“Geoffrey?” Lucifer turned to his son and took the playful grin as a challenge. “Send him in.”

“What would make him come here?” Gabriel whispered.

“Nothing good.” Maefyl sighed and knocked ash from his cigarette. A moment later Geoffrey wandered in with an arm full of old books. “We’re in the middle of something, Geoff.”

“Yes, excuse the intrusion.” Geoff smiled. “Dove told me this was a terrible idea, but she was equally angry with what I stumbled upon and insisted I see Gabriel before the horsemen discovered my… indiscretion.”

“Yummy. I don’t remember the Seraphim being quite so… ” Vikarr cackled when he felt Eliza’s fangs in his neck. “Gently, my lovely. I was only looking.”

“He is no ordinary Seraph.” Gabriel brushed off Vikarr’s more perverse interest. “He is a free Seraph.”

“Lord Lucifer, In a trance Presia mentioned a free angel.” Eidolon noticed the strange fairy on his shoulder and remembered Presia’s augury. “And a newling. How did you come by those books, Geoffrey?”

“We sort of peeked.” Gigi giggled.

“I took them from Iehovah’s study.” Geoffrey admitted. “They are disturbing.”

“Don’t.” Kage caught Lilith around her waist as she leapt toward the angel screaming. He kept her restrained as she shouted curses and demanded the books be destroyed. “At least not yet.”

“I won’t touch that filth.” Lucifer sneered as he turned away and shifted to settle his bride. “Burn them.”

“Imbecile.” Raziel slid one of the books from Geoffrey and read through it quickly before dropping it to the ground as ashes. He continued through the stack retaining only one which he carried to Farren and opened. He sat his finger against a name on the page and held it in front of the angel who had gone into a silent shock The gesture snapped Farren back to his focus and he read the page and wept. “Familiar name, is it not?”

“Please.” Farren looked up at Raziel. “I saw your promise to the children in Vex. Don’t let them kill Evadia.”

“I promised that they would not suffer.” Raziel walked away. “Not that they would not die.”

“Give us the name, Keeper.” Lucifer smiled victoriously.

“Discuss it with your prisoner.” Raziel held the last book to his side and let it fall to dust beside him. “You asked that the knowledge in the books be destroyed.”

“Leave it alone, Lucy. Kava is Sachiel.” Maefyl rushed to Farren the second his mind opened itself and kicked him to the floor. He smiled as he brought his sword against Farren’s neck. “You just lost your leverage.”

“She’s in Eden.” Farren closed his eyes and begged his daughter for forgiveness.

“Don’t just kill him.” Bishop shouted. “Fuck. He has a kid. What is wrong with all of you?”

“Keep it silent, Neka.” Kage hissed. “Or I will kill it.”

“NO!” Neka stomped her feet. “You said Neka could keep him.”

“And you repay that with insubordination?” Kage raised his hand to smack her and Bishop stepped in front of her.

“I thought you were supposed to be better than us.” Bishop stood there trembling but looked Kage in the eye as he spoke. “You aren’t angry at her, so don’t take it out on her. Look at all of you. At each others throats and ready to kill each other, kill children for their parents mistakes, you killed a woman for nothing, without batting an eye, while your own daughter watched. How is this any better than the assholes you are supposed to guide? How are we supposed to achieve any kind of greatness if the ones who are supposed to have it all figured out are still fighting it out like selfish children?”

“Neka is sorry, Daddy.” She hugged Bishop’s legs and peaked around at Kage. “Don’t hurt Bishop.”

“Save your rage a moment, Kage.” Lucifer insisted and tapped Maefyl’s shoulder to stay his attack on Farren. “You as well. Our enemy is the Ghost. Raziel, tell me what was in those pages.”

“Filth. As you said.” Raziel denied the request. “It would be of no interest to you.”

“Deal with him, Maefyl.” Lucifer pulled Lilith onto his lap as he sat. “I’m very quickly losing my sense of humor for this nonsense.”

“You do not want these thoughts, my Lord.” Raziel looked at Maefyl as he approached and knew the warning would make little difference. “But they are yours if you insist.”

Raziel opened his mind and watched Maefyl suffer through months of thoughts left hidden before he finally came to the moments Lucifer wanted. Maefyl clutched Raziel’s shirt as he tried to shake off the sick feeling of reading the printed thoughts of a man who had lived a life more disgusting than most could fathom. In the few journals Geoffrey had brought…

Maefyl broke away from Raziel’s mind and vomited.

“Fucking asshole.” Maefyl shouted as he righted himself and glared at Lucifer. “Geoff read these fucking things, why didn’t you ask him?”

“Must have slipped my mind.” Lucifer laughed.

“You are a menace.” Gabriel scolded Lucifer and went to comfort Maefyl. “I hope there was at least something worth suffering through that.”

“I hope you didn’t know about any of it.” Maefyl pulled away and kicked Farren. “Congratulations you fucking idiot. You fathered a child with the jilted whore of Iehovah.”

“Jilted?” Farren had known they were lovers. Sachiel had told him as much.

“That can’t be true.” Myrt interrupted. “Iehovah had no lovers. He only… for a child.”

Myrt had to shift himself away from Lilith’s barrage of needles as she screamed. Lucifer held her and kept her from continuing her assault, but there was no avoiding Maefyl. He tore Caleb away and tossed him into a small crowd of the others as he pinned Myrt to the wall with a dagger to his throat.

“You need to be very careful what you say right now.” Maefyl cut just slightly into Myrt’s skin. “I like you. Gabriel cares about you and Mala. Don’t insult me or Lilith by defending that waste of life. I just saw him bragging over….”

“Maefyl, please.” Nikolai shouted. “Do we need to hear this? Does Asura?”

“I want to hear it.” Azazel grinned.

“Hush, my pet.” Nikolai pulled Azazel close. “We can guess at the horror of it. Keep it relevant to our prisoner and the one we have yet to capture.”

“Go give him a hug.” Bezer nudged Caleb toward Myrt when Maefyl let him go.

Caleb ran crying and knocked Myrt back against the wall as he jumped to embrace him. Maefyl patted Caleb’s head as Myrt held him. They both understood the outrage and had already let the attack go. Myrt was struggling to accept another lie that he had wasted so much of his life on.

“What now, Maefyl?” Sanguine whimpered on his shoulder.

“Where is Eden?” Maefyl asked.

“It is the refuge Iehovah used for his outings.” Raziel explained blankly. He heard the aggravation in Maefyl’s mind before the expression even had the chance to change. The anger focused at him for hiding what he knew. “You asked that I not share everything with you, Maefyl. I am sorry. Yes, I knew of Iehovah’s habits. Of the many that suffered his lecherous depravity and those that died when it went to far. Eden had long been taboo, deemed sacred by his own command, he took his victims there for privacy. Sachiel shared many of his twisted interests, she frequently went to his bed. Until he grew bored with her.”

“You say victims.” Asura chanced the curiosity. “What kind of sex was this guy having?”

“Asura, why don’t you go play with Neka?” Maefyl sighed. “Please.”

“No, Dad.” Asura shook her head. “I’m a member of this Council.”

“As am I.” Raziel answered her request. “I choose not to offend the senses of everyone here.”

“Perhaps I can give a less graphic summary of the now lost entries?” Geoffrey offered. “I did come to offer help.”

“Go for it, Geoff.” Maefyl sat on the floor and laid a sword across his knees as he stared at Farren. “I’ll be deciding how to fillet this fuck.”

“In the relevant entries, Iehovah spoke of Sachiel’s growing obsession.” Geoffrey saw Lucifer’s bride react violently again to the name. “My apologies, dear lady. I will try to be more delicate. She had fallen for him and demanded a union. When he responded with giving a child to the human woman, Sachiel became further obsessed. Not only with Ieh… with her lover, but with his son. She desired a seat beside him.”

“It was just power all along.” Farren muttered. “I’m such a fool.”

“The Ghost has a unique talent for warping the mind.” Raziel corrected Farren’s assumption. “This Council’s demand for your head is almost injustice. Sachiel found your weakness and preyed on it. You are her victim as much as the humans you used in your demented distractions were yours.”

“Like a spell or something?” Bezer asked. “That’s cheating.”

“Essentially, yes.” Raziel nodded.

“Just get Evadia away from her.” Farren saw how eager Maefyl was to stain his sword. The level of his guilt no longer mattered. “Spell or not, I made the mistakes. Be careful in Eden.”

“You’ll still kill him knowing it wasn’t his fault?” Bishop wiped his face on his sleeve when he saw Maefyl move toward him with his sword.

“Tell him you aren’t worth crying over.” Maefyl sliced Farren’s face. “You were causing pain long before Sachiel flashed her bare ass. Tell him how you kill. How you decided to clean up those pawns you were finished with.”

“Dry your face, human.” Farren shook as he smiled. “I hope your decency is catching.”

“For fuck sake.” Maefyl drove his sword into Farren’s knee. “Lucy?”

“Going soft on me, Slayer? What do you want me to do?” Lucifer laughed. “Let him go? He is a walking disease.”

“No one wants to take responsibility for letting him live, Half-breed.” Kage hissed. “Kill him.”

“Or let Azrael do it.” Samael kissed Azrael’s neck. “He’s so beautiful covered in blood.”

“I suppose I could look after him.” Geoffrey offered. “If letting him live is an option.”

“Or I could.” Bishop raised his hand slightly until he felt stupid for doing it. “I don’t see why anyone else has to die.”

“Are you daft?” Eidolon laughed. “You are not capable of looking after him.”

“It is brilliant idea.” Lucifer grinned. “Sorry, Kevas. This will be irritating for you. Neka, bring Bishop to me. On your feet, Farren. You may have just earned a fate worse than death.”

“If I didn’t know that this clever idea came from the mention of that blasted seer of yours I would be very amused.” Lilith inched aside and bit at her pinky so he could work his magic. “Still, it is a brilliant idea.”

“Presia is not mine.” Lucifer formed a thin chain of chaos around Farren’s neck that closed with a small lock and took Bishop by his arm. As the boy fell on his knees in tears Lilith soothed Neka’s worry with quiet words of comfort as Lucifer started to explain. “I’ve had to alter the magic a bit. I’ve only used this once before, but since you offered to take responsibility I couldn’t resist. Farren is all yours now, Bishop. Good luck.”

“I don’t even want the human around her.” Kage hissed. “You can’t expect me to let this deceitful angel remain here.”

“I’m human.” Bishop was not sure why but his mind went straight to logical complications. “What happens when I die?”

“You are my death sentence.” Farren sighed. “He turned your kindness against you. He wraps it up like mercy, but in reality I’m a prisoner waiting to die.”

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TCOL : Connections : Old Laws

“Freedom is simply wrought with perils my small friend.” Geoffrey tapped at the door in front of him and smiled. “I’ve never considered how easy it is to simply follow the rules.”

 “Has to be more fun to break them.” Gigi giggled.

 “Or more trouble.” Geoffrey laughed. “Which is my dilemma. Is the chance of discovery worth the damage I could do?”

 “What harm is there in opening a door?” Gigi shrugged and flapped her wings. “I vote yes!”

 “This door has not been opened since Iehovah was dethroned.” Geoffrey ran his fingers along the surface. “His study.”

 “More books?” Gigi pouted. “Dove said…”

 “Yes.” Geoffrey laughed. “But not just any books. Journals. His personal books.”

 “So, secrets.” Gigi pondered. “You aren’t supposed to go in here, though?”

 “No.” Geoffrey turned and leaned against the door. “It was forbidden. I’m supposed to be helping to keep order for Gabriel. I doubt he would approve.”

 “How mad could he be?” Gigi giggled. “You only want to help.”

 “Living is learning…” Geoffrey muttered to himself and smiled. “I suppose a peek inside can’t do much harm.”

 “Yay!” Gigi giggled and started to dart around him in an excited flight and singing a song to commemorate their exploration as Geoffrey pushed open the door. “Getting into trouble… getting into trouble… Geoffrey and Gigi… getting into trouble.”

 “Well, we didn’t burst into flames.” Geoffrey laughed. “Not a bad start to our adventure. So much for old laws.”

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TCOL : Connections : Farren & The Frozen City

Even before the Council gathered to plan his capture, Farren sat drenched in the blood of the factory pawns he had slaughtered. He clutched his phone miserably hoping for messages he knew would not come. He had been a much of a pawn as the humans he had just turned into puddles of filth.

He had sent dozens of messages. Called just as often. No answer and no reply. No word of his daughter that he now knew he had left in the clutches of a woman whose agenda no longer included him. His part had been played and now he would finish life as a sacrifice. Another distraction to let Kava dig her claws in a little deeper.

Farren sat staring at the blank screen and wished for a slate just as bare. A fresh start. A second chance. There would be neither. He knew that. Farren, like so many others, only realized how precious life was when it was too late. He closed his eyes and could see the sweet face of his daughter. A face he would likely never see again.

“I just want to know that she is okay, Kava.” Farren murmured to the silent room. He had waited long enough amongst the corpses. He knew the Council would be systematically wiping out these dens of tragedy, his plan now was to aid them in their cause until their paths crossed. He didn’t bother cleaning up the mess, telling himself that the Council would understand his rage. He was not looking for forgiveness after all.

When the last of the pixies Farren had released wandered off he pulled himself up using a nearby railing and tucked away his phone. It seemed pointless now to even keep it, but he was still hopeful for it’s chime to bring his worries to an end. He passed a mirror as he cleaned up his clothes and laughed at himself.

“Marching to my death and still succumbing to vanity.” Farren was amused by the concept. It had the stigma of sin scarred onto it by the god of Heaven, but it seemed at odds with everything they were. He justified his grooming as he shifted into the bitter air of the city of Frost and stood in front of another warehouse. He finished his thought with wind whipping around him. “I’ve never seen an ugly angel. I may as well go out looking good.”

“Pardon, Mr. Farren?” A burly bodyguard by the door shivered as he greeted his boss nervously. Trying to warm his snow covered hands with his own breath as he tried to make pleasantries with a man that scared him colder than the snow ever could. “We weren’t expecting you.”

“Death often comes without warning.” Farren touched the mans shoulder as he opened the door. Before it closed behind him he heard the gurgling curses of the man choking his final thoughts on the blood welling in his throat. Farren sighed. “That will not be a pretty corpse.”

As he made his way toward the pixies, Farren unleashed his vermin and multiple plagues. He watched the humans dropping around him and obliterated the few bold enough to come at him with ease. The vile stench of bile, vomit and excrement soon became thick enough to offend even him and when he ducked inside a room filled with twittering voices he cast a spell to shield both them and himself from any further torture from the pungent sickness he had brought into the building.

“I won’t waste time apologizing.” Farren monologue as he opened cells and broke machinery setting free the creatures he had ordered captured himself. “A change of heart does not forgive my willing participation in this. Go home to your gardens and live, this realm is no place for you. It is filled with the selfish and easily misled and guided by worse.”

Farren shook the dust of their gratitude from his clothes and checked again for any word from Kava. There was nothing. He feared for his daughter. Once he was gone, with only Kava to lead her, what would the girl become?

“What is taking them so damn long?” Farren shouted. Lucifer’s lackeys were usually just a step behind him but this was the fourth warehouse he had emptied. He was out of patience and decided it was time to up the stakes. Even if changing sides was going to cost his life it was time to send a message to the Council. He needed to see Evadia. Even just once more. “You want a distraction, Kava? How is this?”

Farren set his little friends loose on the structure as he loosed his gathered strength into the walls and forced centuries of decay in seconds. Metal framework rusted and cracked under the weight and brick and mortar crumbled around him. His vermin tearing with tooth and claw to further pull apart the foundation as Farren jumped through collapsing ceilings and escaped the crash of the roof. As he landed in the dusty rubble of what used to be a working factory of torture he had helped set up himself he closed his eyes an turned his face into the cold flakes that would cover the mistake. He was too lost in his own hope that it would cover him as well to notice the attention he had already attracted from the city’s Circle.

“We will have to invite Lucifer’s Council for a visit, Lord Frost.” A grey-eyed demoness stood beside a vampire that wore a grin from ear to ear as he looked Farren over. “We seem to have found what they are looking for.”

“You make the tea.” Nei smirked as he drew a sword from the sheath on his back. “We’ll have a nice talk with him over our new centerpiece.”

“Now, now.” The girl drew her own sword and gently tapped down the blade of her companion as she giggled. “You know they want him for answers, my Lord.”

“Damn it, Presia.” Nei laughed. “I just wanted to rough him up a bit.”

“The last gentlemen you roughed up is no longer among the living.” Presia knocked snow from the vampires hair and replaced her sword in the sheath on her back. She stood beside her Master and crossed her arms as she looked at the demon on the collapsed factory. “You have caused our city quite some trouble with this disgusting game. My Lord Frost is not kind to those who disrespect the Circle of Drifa.”

“It gave me a chance to stretch.” Nei shrugged and sheathed his sword. “Goofy shit of a demon. You have managed to piss off too many of the grown ups. I don’t even get a stab at you. I have to wait in fucking line.”

“Then tell them to queue up.” Farren sat in the cold, dusty rubble that was crusting with snow. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Just giving up?” Nei cast a glance a Presia to keep her on guard. “That is no fun.”

“The blood of so many innocents stains your fingers.” Presia sneered at Farren. “It is insulting that you will not even stand up for the cause that inspired you to such wretched acts.”

“The cause was not mine and I am here to SAVE an innocent.” Farren snapped at her and angrily tossed a handful of dust beside him. “Call on Lucifer and his following. I will pay for the blood on my hands.”

“Adjust your attitude, demon.” Nei walked over the rubble with rage burning in him. Presia stayed steps beside him and kept her silence. “I don’t care what answers Lucifer wants from you. Use that tone with Presia again and I’ll make myself a rug from your hide.”

“I’m not here to pick a fight with you.” Farren hung his head. An argument was as pointless as the vampires threat. No vampire was going to stand against him and win, let alone the spoiled Third in a frozen city.

“Wonderful timing.” Nei caught Presia in one arm as she stumbled and fell into a trance. “Come out of it quick, Presia.”

 “The freed angel and the newling are breaking old laws.

Discovering secrets.

The new mother… her name is not her own.

She is mad.

Life of secret and of lie.

The freed angel has found her name.”

 

“What?” Farren stared as Frost roused his demoness from her waking nightmare. The disjointed poetry was disturbing and resonated with him. ‘The new mother… her name is not her own.’ Farren swallowed his fears and hoped the woman’s vision was not about Kava. ‘She is mad.’ Farren slid down the rubble carefully to get closer. “A seer?”

“Among other things.” Nei steadied Presia and took her hand. “Relevance?”

“I’m afraid that is still unclear, my Lord.” Presia looked at Farren with the certainty that it was his presence that prompted the augury. “I am also afraid that he and it are connected and that it is all terribly relevant. It is time to contact Lucifer.”

“Proper channels, you beautiful thing.” Nei kissed Presia’s fingers as he sent a message through his phone to the Council. “I like to speak to Lucifer as little as possible. Feeling up to a lullaby?”

“I don’t think that is necessary.” Presia leaned against Nei and looked toward their captive. “He has surrendered. There is no joy in conquering the defeated.”

“I’m not dead yet.” Farren sighed. “Does being wanted not warrant some sort of rapid response? I have terms of surrender that involve the life of a child. What is keeping those fools?”

“They’ll be along.” Nei kicked Farren across his face. “That’s for drugging up my city with mutilated immortals.”

“Sorry.” Farren spit aside and rested his chin on his knee. “If it makes you feel better you can try and do some damage.”

“Lord Frost.” Presia winked at him. “Mind yourself.”

“The Council can decide what you deserve.” Nei smiled at Presia and ignored the demons arrogance. “The spread of this HiPi is over. I just want you out of my city with it.”

“Apprehended…” Maefyl pushed Nei aside as he arrived and rested his blade against Farren’s face. “Looks more like you are making friends. Get on your feet, Farren.”

“Fuck off, you spoiled twit.” Nei laughed and looked over the entourage Lucifer’s favorite had brought along. “You need this much help to haul away some trash?”

“Nice to see you have not changed.” Eidolon sighed as he grabbed Farren by his hair. “Lucifer will see to it you are rewarded for turning him in, Nei.”

“Stuffy as ever. Falcon.” Nei smirked at the Watcher’s insistence on using his unfortunate given name. “Good to see you, Eidolon.”

“Kyaa.” Kaneko glared at Frost’s Third as she squeezed Eidolons arm. “Is he a friend of yours?”

“Student.” Eidolon answered offhanded as he carefully took Maefyl’s blade in his fingers. The magic in it burned his skin as he moved it away from Farren. “This is unnecessary. Calm yourself.”

“Ke saba bol helkisa’tach.” Azrael touched Maefyl’s shoulder and stepped beside him. “Salek sansan ken.”

“Pathetic.” Maefyl withdrew his sword and sighed. Farren had been so arrogant before, now he wore sorrow and defeat on his face.

“That I am.” Farren chuckled sadly.

“What were you even doing here?” Sanguine shouted at him and hoped the broken remains of the factory beneath them was not the final resting place of more pixies.

“Putting an end to it.” Farren pulled his phone out and opened a checklist of addresses he had been working through. “This should be of use.”

“Why now?” Maefyl snatched it from him.

“Regret.” Raziel answered for Farren. Kava’s spells of protection were fading and emotion was coming through. “And hope.”

“Have fun ladies and gentlemen.” Nei excused himself rudely. “Presia and I have plans.”

“Eidolon, before you all arrived I had an augury…” Presia shared the words and he promised to take them to Lucifer. Once he had, Presia indulged Nei in his eagerness for a hasty exit and the two of them vanished in a swirl of wind and snow.

“Just take him back.” Maefyl pushed back his hair and inhaled the cold air hoping it would calm him. Eidolon escorted Farren to Hell and Maefyl told the others to go ahead of him. Raziel obeyed the request. Azrael did not.

“Sek kaat stava wazuni’tach.” Azrael leaned close to Maefyl’s face and blinked at him. “Kasu?”

“Too easy.” Maefyl sighed. “It’s never this easy.”

“Vet sana saba stava hela na sesa.” Azrael grinned. “Kabak makusa ken blekasu.”

“I’m almost starting to like you.” Maefyl shook his head and smiled at the sad truth of it. “You sick fuck.”

“De kofret sek, nus.” Azrael hugged him and shifted them back to Lucifer’s audience hall before he let Maefyl push him away so he could return to Gabriel. The anger in Gabriel’s eyes hurt him, but he grinned and blew him a kiss as he cuddled up to Samael.

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TCOL : Connections : Success

“He is becoming more of a pest than I anticipated.” Kava tossed the phone into the bath in front of her and watched it sink. “Evadia this, Evadia that. Not one message of concern over my troubles.”

Kava snapped her fingers and a swarm of her Thrones brought her towels. As she wrapped and pampered her skin they laid out fruit and wine and left her to rant on about the difficulty of looking after the child.

“Too much of Farren in her.” Kava sipped wine as she walked toward the room where she had left Evadia. She sneered at the fire red in the girls blonde hair. She even looked like him, but her relation to Farren was only part of the trouble. Kava could smell the blood in the room and rolled her eyes as she approached. “You need to stop this, Evadia.”

“I want Daddy.” Evadia drove broken shards of a vase into her wrist to create a grotesque piercing that matched her other arm.

“I told you Farren is off keeping you safe.” Kava waved off the request with a wicked grin. “Such a hero your Father is.”

“I don’t want a hero.” Evadia picked up another long sliver of glass and cut into her foot.

“I told you to stop.” Kava slapped the glass out of her daughter’s hand and pulled the glass from her wrists. “You will behave. You are destined for greatness, Evadia.”

“Why do you call me by this name?” Evadia tilted her head and asked with a clarity beyond her comprehension. “Be gone, woman.”

“Because it is the name your daddy gave you.” Kava scowled at her. “I don’t want you to make any more of these messes, Evadia. Should I tell Farren you’ve been naughty?”

“Where is my Father, woman?” Evadia stood still dripping blood to the floor. “Has he sent you to bring me to his side?”

“Iesu?” Kava backed away as she watch the familiar wounds healing. Over and over Evadia had butchered herself this way and now it sunk in. The soul living inside her daughter was very much alive and it remembered its painful human death. Kava clasped her hands together and spun excitedly. “It is you!”

“Momma?” Evadia fell on her knees holding her head. “I want Daddy.”

“Stop your whimpering.” Kava smiled. It may be imperfect, but it was still a success. Iehovah’s child now had the immortal soul and a claim on Heaven. “You; my strange little girl, have a throne to claim.”

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TCOL : Death & New Life : The Needed Chemicals Pt.6

“Why even ask?” Maefyl flicked ash from his cigarette. “If he agreed to it I am not jumping up to defend him, but I think it’s bullshit and you know it.”

 “I wasn’t looking for your permission.” Lucifer sighed. “More of a favor.”

 “Don’t.” Maefyl laughed. “Just let the kid go home.”

 “But Neka likes Bissop.” Neka pouted.

 “Neka, Bishop is a person.” Maefyl sat in front of his step sister and took her hands. “He isn’t a toy.”

 “It’s okay, man.” Bishop intervened quietly as he fiddled with the leash. “It’s just a few years until she gets tired of me. She could use the company and I can take the break from reality.”

 “You could lose most of your short life before she tires of you.” Maefyl sighed. “A demons idea of a few years is not the same as yours and this won’t be the passing fancy of a human child with no attention span. You signed on for a lifetime the second you set foot here.”

 “We do tend to be rather possessive creatures.” Lucifer grinned.

 “You can’t possibly be okay with this.” Maefyl looked up at Kage.

 “She can have Lilith’s gift.” Kage hissed. “I’ll destroy it when it becomes a nuisance to me.”

 “Kage’s biggest complaint is also going to be a problem for Neka eventually.” Lucifer stood on his throne and wrapped his arms around Kage. “Which brings me to my request. Keeping a human here is difficult. Fix him for me.”

 “Go fuck yourself.” Maefyl walked off to join the others without hesitation. There was no point in even continuing an argument over it. There was nothing going to make him change his mind.

 “I suppose he was not the best one to ask.” Lucifer chuckled.

 “I’ll be no more comfortable with her pet craving blood.” Kage whispered to his Master in agitated defeat. He wanted to be angry but knew the gesture was meant to make the situation easier for him.

 “It’s a simpler pet to care for.” Lucifer whispered to him. “Admit it. The boy is charming.”

 “Are you going to be more difficult after his ranting?” Kage directed his concerns at Bishop who had fallen back into a submissive silence. “Is your resolve as strong now, even knowing Lilith spoke in half truths?”

 “Neka will take good care of you.” She looked at him hopefully and struggled to make sure she got his name right. “Please, BiSHop.”

 “Sure thing.” Bishop wiped his eyes on his arm. “Someone has to sing with you.”

 Neka lunged forward and hugged his legs tightly and he paused and looked to her fathers before he laid his hand on her head. As she snuggled against him Bishop wiped the last of his tears on his shoulder and smiled. If a lifetime of making a little girl happy was his atonement for failing to save the lives of others he considered himself lucky. Bishop doubted he would survive the wrath of her caretakers long enough to worry about the length of his captivity; he just hoped when he overstepped like the now dead and forgotten dust on the floor that was once a beautiful winged girl, that Neka would not have to see his end.

 “With that much resolved only the problem of longevity remains and there are a few problem solvers in the next room.” Lucifer walked past the others laughing. “Bring your pet, Neka.”

 “You get to watch my Daddy work.” Neka grinned up at Bishop. “You have to be quiet though. Only Lords talk in there.”

 “I will not need much of a reason to end your life.” Kage stood at the door and watched Neka bounce through the door dragging along her new toy. “I do not care for this arrangement.”

 “Understood.” Bishop stepped inside and swallowed what was left of his pride. He had never felt so small. It had nothing to do with the leash and the child that held it. Not even her cruel Father and his vicious words. It was taking a place beside a table filled with creatures that made it difficult to breathe. Each of them and their companions had a presence that he felt he would drown in and they all looked at him with such varied emotions that he couldn’t even figure out how he should feel. Even those he had met now seemed more intimidating as they sat around Lucifer’s table wearing worry on their faces. Neka stood beside het Father proudly and smiled back at Bishop as she swayed her tail oblivious to the tension in the room.

 “Can we get on with this?” Asura sighed. Raziel’s remark was still weighing on her and seeing Neka lighting up over her toy was almost painful. She sent a message to Karla’s phone to ask her opinion on the matter and was furious to see Eidolon pluck the phone from her friends fingers and lay it face down on the table. “Hey.”

 “Not now, young Asura.” Eidolon scolded her softly. “It is not a Council matter.”

 “Yea, well the rest of the damn Council isn’t here.” Asura pouted. “And sitting around staring at each other is accomplishing a whole lot of nothing.”

 “Agreed.” Gabriel stood and approached Myrt and Mala. “This much at least can be discussed before the Wyrms arrive. Neither of you are obligated to me or this Council, but both of you have skills that may be of use. I regret making the request, but our options are limited.”

 “Lord Gabriel.” Mala bowed his head a moment and gave a smile filled with pride. “If my skills are of use to you all you need do is ask.”

 “Now wait a minute.” Donovan pulled Mala to him. “What makes you regret asking, Gabriel? I’m not letting Mala risk himself for this damn Council.”

 “The one we need answers from is dangerous.” Gabriel confessed the risk before explaining that it was minimal. “But I would not leave any of you to face him alone. We only need your persuasion once he is cornered.”

 “After you get him talking he isn’t going to be dangerous to anyone.” Maefyl muttered as he extinguished a cigarette on the table. “Nikolai, call your damn shadow and get him here.”

 “I’ve already sent him a message.” Nikolai shook his phone at Maefyl before he slid it back into his pocket. The response had been an image Azrael captured in a moment of ecstasy and Maefyl’s gift meant he had seen it as well. Nikolai well understood the eagerness to get things underway and the growing tensions made it seem all the more vital to unify their focus.

 “Is she okay?” A tiny voice pulled Vikarr from his focus on the sleeping bride in his arms.

 “My lovely will be upset by the loss.” Vikarr glanced at the strange fairy that looked more like one of Raziel’s fargoyles then glared across at Kage. “As am I.”

 “She’s very pretty.” Kazeishi flapped her way up to Eliza’s shoulder and walked along Vikarr’s fingers where he held her. “I’m sorry about your friend. Want a new one?”

 “Vale is not replaceable.” Vikarr twitched his fingers to shake her off. “And I doubt the creatures in my home will be to your liking.”

 “Are you letting those wingless twerps make camp in your walls?” Sanguine laughed. “Not like it matters. She smells new. I doubt she even knows well enough to dislike them. If you want one without a tail though, Maefyl has a freeloader looking for a home, too.”

 “This is not an orphanage.” Lucifer slammed his fist on the table. “Lancers. Will you aid the Council?”

 “Mala has an obligation to Nihil.” Myrt answered. “I’ll do it.”

 “Myrt…” Mala looked at him sadly.

 “Go home, Mala.” Myrt insisted. “You do enough.”

 “Settled.” Lucifer grinned and created a chair near the brave angel. “We only need one of you. Myrt, sit. The rest of you are excused.”

 “Caleb stays.” Myrt sat and offered his lap to his husband. “Or I go.”

 “Just stay quiet.” Lucifer smirked at them and watched the vampire gloat over the small triumph Myrt had won as he took a seat and squeezed himself close. “Consider my leniency a favor you will be repaying.”

 “You consider his presence a favor.” Gabriel leaned onto the table and scowled at Lucifer. “There will be no debt held over him.”

 “Easy, Gabriel.” Maefyl pulled Gabriel by his sleeve when he stood. The two of them were still nursing fresh wounds of their friendship and none of them could afford falling apart over it now. Knowing Lucifer’s current dilemma made it easy to diffuse the situation on his own. “Myrt is fine and as for favors, neither he nor Caleb can give Lucy what he wants from them.”

 “Disappointing.” Lucifer grinned. Maefyl had at least saved him the trouble of a failed attempt that would leave Neka crying over her lost pet. “Sit down, Gabby.”

 “Look at all these sour faces.” Samael strolled through the door ahead of Azrael as he playfully carried Shiroi into the room under his arm. “Have we had another set back?”

 “You are jeopardizing my reputation with your behavior.” Nikolai scolded his shadow. “Please, Samael. Join us so we can finish this.”

 “Always so proper.” Samael walked around the table smiling. Still reeling from earlier passions and gloating over the fact that several seated at the table knew it. “We have guests.”

 “We have more important matters to discuss.” Kage looked to Samael for a sense of decency. “I’ll explain our guests later.”

 “Kasu saba ha zuku`tach?” Azrael stood Shiroi beside Samael and leaned onto the table to question his own shadow that held his often noisy bride in his arms in a silent slumber.

 “The dream weavers had to quiet her after I ended the life of her pest of a servant.” Kage hissed. “Can we please get on with this?”

 “Bet zakben, Kage.” Azrael slid into his chair and nodded. He wanted to finish this business as much as any of them. The attack on the gardens was still a fresh wound on his heart and he was eager for vengeance. “Wabal saba Farren?”

 “Finally all on the same page.” Maefyl lit a cigarette and watched Vafera walk onto the table for a better look at everyone.

 “Good thing I am organized.” Asura sent files to their computers to sync all the current information available from the Circles. “Let’s talk agenda.”

 “Find him, find Kava.” Maefyl grinned. “Kill them both.”

 “For such a clever child you have a very disappointing habit of oversimplifying things.” Lucifer tapped the table. “If you want my help with that ghost; sit up straight and pay attention.”

 “I already earned that.” Maefyl slouched further in his chair and laughed. He was certain the behavior was about to start another fight, but instead it was overlooked for a welcome interruption.

 “No fucking way!” Asura stood up excited and slid her tablet down the table to Lucifer. “We’ve got him!”

 “Then the games are about to begin.” Lucifer grinned as he looked at the message from the Circle of Drifa. “Lilith, my Love. You may want to sit this one out.”

 “My Lord?” Lilith gave him a puzzled look.

 “The message is from Drifa.” Lucifer grinned. “It was Nei who apprehended our little problem.”

 “For fuck sake.” Maefyl banged his head against the table as Lilith stormed off.

 “Who is Nei?” Asura whispered to Gabriel. “Is he a problem?”

 “No.” Gabriel sighed. “Lilith is not fond of his servant, Presia.”

 “Another time, Asura. We aren’t going to be social. We are collecting that cocky shit and bringing him here to loosen his tongue.” Maefyl stood and flicked across the screen of his computer. “Who is coming?”

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TCOL : Death & New Life : The Needed Chemicals Pt.5

“Your thoughts, Kazeishi?” Lucifer smirked once Raziel had left the hall. “He’s a beautifully talented creator, but miserable company.”

“He was alive? I couldn’t tell.” Kazeishi laughed. She had expected another vibrant demon; as full of life and emotion as the others she had met, but Raziel had a face that was more like stone than her own skin. “His friends were interesting at least.”

“I imagine that means you are not eager to join the Keepers family.” Lucifer laughed. “Not that I can fault you for the decision. The man is wretched.”

“Raziel is downright delightful compared to some people.” Maefyl offered his insight with a sharp tone and a grin. “You want to call your paste white trio so we can get this started?”

“You were early.” Kage hissed. “Stop being a pest.”

Maefyl just flipped him off and Vale giggled behind Vikarr and Eliza. Kage was furious and was through tolerating the disrespect of lesser creatures, before anyone could even react he was already wiping the blood from his blade and returning to Lucifer and the others at the throne.

“Was that necessary?” Gabriel sighed and prepared to intervene.

“Vale!” Eliza saw the bisected and withering remains of her friend and screamed. She burst into tears as Vikarr pulled her into his arms.

“How dare you, Viper.” Vikarr scowled at him.

“A lesson for all these useless toys of yours to keep their place.” Kage turned and gave them a vicious smile before he glanced aside at the horror on Bishops face. “They will not speak out of turn or disrespect their Masters.”

“You murdered an innocent child for an innocent reaction.” Vikarr snapped at him. Eliza still wailed in his arms and he was glad she was otherwise holding her tongue. “She meant no harm. I have done you no harm. How dare you destroy one of my creations so thoughtlessly?”

“If you mean to challenge me, Jester…” Kage lifted his blade and held it toward Vikarr. “I’ll be glad to widen that grin of yours.”

“Mala.” Donovan whispered and nudged his weeping angel into action as he stepped carefully in front of Kage’s long katana. He inhaled deeply and hoped he was not about to make matters worse. Mala had shifted to Vikarr and put a sleep over Eliza and started to quietly plead with his friend to let Vale’s death be the last for the day.

“Brave fool.” Kage withdrew his blade and laughed. The loyalty in Nihil was impressive and useful. He could not afford damaging an asset in Tsuriai over his irritation with Vikarr. He returned to Lucifer’s side and rested his fingertips on the arm of the throne. “I’ll compensate you for the loss, Vikarr.”

“You can hardly hope to compensate for a life, Viper.” Vikarr chuckled as he held his sleeping Eliza in his arms and his relieved friends stood at his sides. “But I hold you responsible for the tears on my lovely Eliza’s cheeks. It will be interesting to see you try and make up for that.”

“You okay, boss?” Donovan touched Vikarr’s back hoping to give him a sense of confidence and support but noticed his own hand shaking.

“I am furious.” Vikarr laughed and headed for the Council hall. “Let’s get this over with.”

“Lilith, my love.” Lucifer grinned. “Take the others inside. Maefyl, stay.”

“Come along.” Lilith hopped up and gestured for Myrt and Caleb. “You as well, Kiki.”

Kiki waved excitedly at the other fairies in the company of the demons that followed Lilith into the large chamber and tried to get one last peek as the doors closed behind them.

“Should I be concerned?” Gabriel stopped inside the door.

“Not at all.” Lilith assured him. “At least not about them. Our concerns will be discussed around this table and you need to address your dream weavers.”

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TCOL : Death & New Life : The Needed Chemicals Pt.4

“Falcon, your request to meet you here has now left us all with further scars.” Raziel turned and made his cold remarks. “Were you through or will you finish with the torment your bride is so eager to give us.”

“Aren’t you supposed to stay out of my head?” Karla pouted.

“It’s not that easy, kid.” Maefyl stood beside the Council doors with Gabriel. At this point Raziel knew as well as he did what Eidolon was convinced of. It wasn’t much of a stretch all things considered. “Just spill it, Eidolon. We do have other shit to do.”

“Among the fallen of Vikarr’s lineage we spoke with very few.” Eidolon explained softly. Hoping the tone of his voice may soften the news. “The most talented of which were the last to die. Charming, powerful women.”

“Women have always been my best work.” Vikarr giggled. “But this story has a far more interesting ending then ghosts of witches or you would not have brought us here.”

“True enough.” Eidolon took a small gathering of Vikarr’s thread he had saved into his hand and sighed. “Your bride asked if you had family that still lived. Eternity, if you would.”

“The amazing thing about Vikarr’s blood is that it hid over the centuries.” Eternity explained as she took the thread and infused it with magic akin to a demonic paternity test. “His power, the talent with latent magic, would peek and wane as it followed the strongest women through his line. Near the end it was nearly as pure as it was in his own child.”

“Vanessa and Valerie were kind of fun, too.” Karla interrupted. “I liked them.”

“Razzy.” Van whispered as she took his hand. She heard enough once she heard the names. It didn’t take genius to work out the rest and she wanted to run from the truth before anyone spoke it aloud. “I want to go home.”

“Nearly?” Eliza watched the fairy lay the thread in Vikarr’s palm and manipulate it into a strange looking seal before forcing the magic into his skin.

“They were souls at peace.” Kaneko explained with a grin as she tugged Neka’s tail. “Hard to judge how powerful because they’ve let so much of it go for a quiet ever after. Still human enough to like it the easy way.”

“As strong as your blood had rekindled in the two of them.” Eternity continued. “The last of your line would have been as close to being your daughter as possible.”

“You demons make my head hurt.” Eliza complained.

“Because they play games and you are dense…” Donovan teased. “They are saying he has a living daughter.”

“I still have a child?” Vikarr laughed. “Impossible.”

“Not impossible.” Raziel lifted Van’s trembling fingers and pricked one with his thumbnail as he closed his eyes. He had seen the possibility and already knew it was only going to be confirmed. Vikarr was as close to a father as Van would ever have. “Just unfortunate.”

Lucifer laughed boisterously as he watched Van’s blood react to Eternity’s spell and the blood within the source of her family’s magic. Van started to weep.

“It’s a girl.” Eliza grinned up at Vikarr. “You can tell because of the pink hair.”

“Back off, E.” Brig sighed as he stood close by and helped comfort Van. “Can’t you see she’s upset?”

“Cram it up your arse, London.” Eliza taunted. “Isn’t this some kind of privilege?”

“Dry your eyes, puppet.” Raziel stepped in front of her as Vikarr approached them. As she tried to quiet her sobs against his back Galik stepped beside Raziel defensively and glared at Vikarr. Raziel could feel the rage seething in his creation over Van’s tears and took his wrist. “There has been enough confrontation, Galik. Let him speak.”

“No!” Van whimpered and pulled at the back of Raziel’s sleeves. “I don’t want to hear this. I want to go home, Razzy.”

“Now, look here Princess Pinky.” Eliza scowled as she crossed her arms. “Vivi might be a jerk sometimes, but you are being a real brat about this.”

“Lovely…” Vikarr’s sigh became a childlike grin as he pulled her up to kiss her. “Be kind. She is my child.”

“I am not.” Van glared at them over Raziel’s shoulder. “I want nothing to do with you.”

“Respect her decision, Vikarr.” Raziel suggested coldly. “Your bride has had her amusing puzzle solved. That is enough.”

“You want me to deny my blood?” Vikarr stepped closer forcing Raziel to tilt his head back to look him in the eye. “The girl carries a part of me. Let me speak with her.”

“I don’t get why she is all pissy.” Eliza looked away pouting. “If you are one of these Watchers, she should be thrilled.”

“My actions caused her heartache.” Vikarr pulled a handkerchief from his breast pocket and laid it across Raziel’s shoulder for the vampire whose eyes were now as pink as her hair from weeping. “For that I am sorry. You are free to disavow any relation to me, Van. If you choose not to, I will make every effort to be as I should. I would gladly call such a charming creature daughter.”

“I’ll think about it.” Van took the handkerchief and looked at it sadly. It had been Vikarr that played a part in Raziel and Brig suffering. Accepting that he was a part of her made her ache. This was not the answer she wanted to the questions she had in the back of her mind her whole life.

“Now back off, cupcake.” Brig held Shana beside him and tugged one of Van’s pigtails as he smirked up at Vikarr. As certain as Brig was that he was going to regret his behavior during their visit here, he was as compelled as ever to protect his family. “Van will talk to you when and if she wants to.”

“Of course.” Vikarr bowed his head and shifted away with Eliza. He turned to Eidolon and smiled. “Thank you, Falcon.”

“Oh, right!” Eliza squeaked and bowed her head. “Thanks so much. I hope it wasn’t too much trouble.”

“It was not and you are welcome.” Eidolon smiled as he and Karla walked toward the doors to the Council hall hand in hand. The task had been enlightening and had given him new experiences with his brides. It had not been trouble for him. He was more concerned for the trouble it would now cause for everyone else. He stopped near Maefyl and Gabriel and sighed. “I apologize for that distraction.”

“I’m more concerned with that distraction.” Maefyl nodded toward the scene at the throne. Kage even looked intimidating when doting on his children. There was a cruelty in his smile even when he was at his happiest, but while he watched his daughters laughing together now he would steal glances at the quiet boy at the end of Neka’s leash and ice filled his eyes. He had given his permission, but Kage was still furious over Lilith’s gift. Maefyl didn’t need Kage’s hidden thoughts to see it. The thoughts he did hear were more pleasant but no less troubling. Lilith was truly trying to help. Kage’s focus on Neka was bruising Lucifer’s affection, she hoped a distraction for the girl would let Kage take his eyes off of her long enough to see that. Neka was thrilled with her new pet and with seeing her sister Kaneko. She was busy introducing the two of them under the watchful glare of her Father. Bishop’s thoughts may have been the most disturbing of the lot. He was completely accepting of the offer Lilith had made. He consigned himself to this temporary slavery. Not for any of her promised rewards, but out of concern for Neka, a child he had known for minutes, and a sense of atonement for his part in the loss of lives in Vex. “That kid has no idea what he just got himself into.”

“I don’t believe that any of us are privy to what we’ve gotten ourselves into, Maefyl.” Eidolon gave him a sad smile as he looked back over the hall. Every moment of happiness in their lives had been paid for with tears and pain that no mortal would even have the time to experience, but watching the others arrive Eidolon realized that despite the bickering they were here, all of them together, who could regret a moment of a life that brought them this far? Karla looked up at him troubled and he comforted her with a smile that grew more genuine as she returned it with her own. “But like all of us I imagine he will have few regrets when he breathes his last.”

“His last comes quick.” Eternity sighed from Eidolon’s shoulder. “Strange choice for a pet.”

“Daddy!” Asura skipped over and jumped into Gabriel’s arms before she took in the moods around the room and started her inquisition. “Who is the boy? What’s wrong with Van?”

“Kitty boy!” Neka squealed at the sight of Azazel and in her excitement tugged Bishop closer. As he stumbled toward them Kage kicked him back gently and sat Neka on her feet. “Sorry, Daddy. Sorry, Bissop.”

“Bishop.” He laughed nervously at the girl that blushed over her own mistake.

“You are not to correct her.” Kage glared at him. “You’ll answer to whatever she calls you, shiga.”

“She is going to be positively evil when she grows up.” Azazel grinned as he watched the boy nod his acceptance. “A Viper in training.”

“Don’t you dare, my pet.” Nikolai slipped his fingers into Azazel’s collar and smiled as he pulled him along. “I’ll be evil for you. Asura, Bezer. I think we should wait for the others inside.”

Nikolai’s pets dutifully followed him into the Council hall as the others watched. Each of them doting on each other as they found their places inside and avoided the tension building in Lucifer’s audience hall.

“I think we will join him.” Raziel gestured for the door to have his puppets lead the way. Even with the truce of the Council, the Keeper made it a point to keep them in his sights and he wanted to see them all inside before there was any more conflict. Cid and Tali held tight to Brig’s arm as he escorted Shana into the hall silently and Galik followed close behind hugging Frikk and Frakk to his chest. In a rare show of tenderness, Raziel held Van by her hand and escorted her himself. She was quiet, but her thoughts were screaming and she was fighting the urge to wail and fall against him for comfort. When the doors closed behind them he lifted her hand and kissed it before taking the handkerchief she still had twisted in her fingers. He wrapped it softly around her wrist and tied it there as she sniffled. “We can discuss this later.”

“I just don’t want you to hate me, Razzy.” Van tried to stop her lip from quivering and toughen up and wished she could do what Raziel did and just hide it all away. “That man is awful.”

“Vikarr has made poor decisions, he is not awful.” Raziel laid his hand against Van’s face. “Even if he was, your relation to him makes no difference to me.”

“I truly hate to involve myself.” Nikolai sighed as Asura nudged him into speaking. “But if my experience can give you any comfort… We are not our Fathers.”

“He is NOT her Father.” Galik growled at him and handed Van a lollipop. “We can make her smile without you.”

“Thank you, Nikolai.” Raziel nodded to him. Van had understood the sentiment and accepted the truth in it. It would take her time to accept Vikarr, but she would not dwell on the worry that she would be held accountable for mistakes that were not her own. Raziel pressed his fingertips to her lips and she kissed them. He did the same for Galik before he claimed the sweetness of their kisses for himself. He cast a glance at Brig as he sat to ease the jealous thoughts stirring in his most troublesome puppet. “Now settle yourselves, puppets. We all want a quick end to this.”

“So what was with the other guests and the kid?” Bezer sat on the edge of the table between Nikolai and Asura as they sat. As she swung her feet she giggled at Blondie bouncing from foot to foot.

“The Lancers are here at the Councils request.” Raziel explained as he watched his puppets quietly finding there places beside him. “The boy is from Vex. He seems to have been given to Kage’s daughter as a toy. One more tragedy in his short life.”

“That’s not fair.” Asura frowned. “Since when do we give people as gifts?”

“Your grandfather has made quite the habit of it.” Raziel closed his eyes and offered nothing else.

Asura couldn’t respond and knew that Raziel understood her reasons. They all fell into a sullen silence and waited for the others. There were enough troubles without focusing on another of Lucifer’s many cruel games. They were here to end conflicts, not to begin them. Azazel slid behind Asura in her chair and held her as she tapped at her computer screen and Bezer stroked Nikolai’s hair as he rested his head on his hand and closed his eyes to shut out the misery of the heavy mood that had fallen across the table.

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