Monthly Archives: March 2015

TCOL : Eden : A Silent Garden Pt.2

“Finally!” Bezer ripped through the torso of an angel and tossed the corpse to the ground and she consumed the remains of its life. “We get to do something fun again.”

“And just look at those two.” Azazel growled excitedly as he leapt over his sister and tackled an Power to the ground. His purr gave a warmth to his savage howling as he watched his bride and husband battling along side him. Though it could hardly be called battle. The angels unfortunate enough to encounter the four of them were being slaughtered and every splash of their blood excited Azazel more. He ripped the head from the angel he had attacked and watched a moment as Nikolai ripped through a creature that seemed more confused by what had killed him than the fact he had actually lost his life. A look Nikolai must have caught as well from the satisfied smirk he tried to hide before he returned to his new found gift of flight. “Just amazing.”

“And all ours.” Bezer swung Asura into a short, sweet kiss before she continued past her smiling. She couldn’t agree more, of course. Azazel and herself had waited for a long time for someone worthy of both of them and since the first ‘I Love You’ they were both glad they did. “Neat how they keep getting better.”

“We have to keep up with how remarkable the two of you are, my pet.” Nikolai smiled as he listened for more of their prey. He opened his arms as he landed and folded his colorful wings to his back as the area quieted and he accepted a short embrace. “Come along now. We still have work.”

Nikolai was confident enough in his pets he declined Raziel’s offer to escort them. He had enough to look after on his own and if there was trouble they all knew how to call on one another. What surprised Nikolai was that his time with Raziel had done exactly what Lilith and Eidolon had hoped. He was no longer standing idly while his pets had their fun. He was a part of it and with each soldier he helped destroy he could feel their admiration growing.

“Master Nikolai, I think you might be enjoying all this violence.” Bezer purred and wiped blood from her face as she teased him.

“Not our Master Nikolai.” Asura teased and lengthened her blades through a dying angel as Azazel ripped the soul apart. She looked over to Nikolai and flushed at the sight of him, the long dark hair falling down his back between the lovely wings he had learned to create for himself. Wings that carried him now into higher branches for a better look at their surroundings now that their most recent attackers were out of the way. “He is too sweet for these things.”

“So are you.” Azazel grabbed Asura around her waist and shifted into the tree beside Nikolai. Bezer scrambled up beside them and Azazel smiled. The garden seemed to go on forever under the light of Hell’s sky and he could hear the distant battles of the others. He could hear them almost too well, even through the eerie song Presia offered to calm Sachiel’s magic. As if Eden held no life but the soldiers they were slaughtering. “This place is almost creepy.”

“It’s so beautiful, though.” Asura looked out over the lush forest and smiled until she remembered her father’s concern. She tugged Azazel’s tail gently and hoped for insight. “Any idea why they are so worried about this place?”

“This all happened before my time.” Azazel shook his head. “It wasn’t any of my business until now.”

“Lets keep it that way, my pet.” Nikolai pulled Azazel by his collar and kissed him. “I don’t like putting any of you at risk. I just want this ordeal over with.”

“So do I.” Bezer yawned. “I have new vodka to try.”

“Heroic motivation.” Blondie laughed.

“I wonder where Dad wandered off to?” Asura muttered as they started off again. Maefyl had run off on his own and that usually meant he was about to get into trouble. She almost hoped the song covering Eden was able to keep even his temper from getting the best of him.

“He’ll be fine.” Bezer hugged her before she dropped to the ground and took off running after another pack of pests.

“Back to work.” Azazel purred and flipped backward out of the branches to follow after her. “Don’t start without me, Bezer!”

“Those things aren’t looking for us.” Asura held tightly to Nikolai as he lifted her to him. “Do you really think my Dad is okay?”

“I think that Maefyl is going to make us all look bad as usual.” Nikolai smiled as they joined the fray, letting her slip from his arm and press against his back as they each took blades from the chaos. “How about we make sure he doesn’t have as much to gloat over?”

“Deal. I’ll soften them up.” Asura smirked until she was interrupted by the dismembered arm Azazel tossed at her. “Hey!”

“Look up.” Azazel grinned.

Asura raised her eyes to catch a glimpse of two dragons flying overhead. Beautiful, enormous creatures. The haunting white and deep red scales of the crimson dragon beside a darker more sinister looking beast.

“Lord Lucifer and your Father.” Bezer licked some of the mess from her hands. “They need to piss off. We were playing here.”

“Pay attention, my pet.” Nikolai shifted past Bezer and pierced through a Power with his blade and smiled as Azazel pounced on the creature’s shoulders as it howled.

“Yea, yea.” Bezer yawned and stretched as they tore apart the loner that had tried to attack. “These things are squishy and that damn singing is making them useless.”

“Let’s go find the nasty ones.” Azazel pleaded.

“Behave, my pets.” Nikolai smiled as he looked over his blood covered loves. Each of them so eager to play their brutal parts in retaking Eden. Each of them enjoying it. “All of these creatures are equally foul and need to be destroyed.”

They all laughed as they heard Kaneko screaming her victory over the trees and several of her companions calling after her. It seemed Nikolai’s family was not the only one embracing the chance for vengeance.

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TCOL : Eden : A Silent Garden Pt.1

“My head feels funny.” Karla stumbled as they took their first steps into Eden and Eidolon steadied her as he took in the situation. She was not alone in her plight, they were all being touched by the haze of Sachiel’s magic. The weakest among them were struck nearly blind by it, clinging to their loves fearful that they had actually lost sight and taking comfort in the assurance that it was only a trick.

“If there was any doubt before now, it can be put to rest.” Eidolon sighed. Sachiel had often been called on to manipulate the minds of humans and more susceptible creatures for her god. She had a remarkable talent for creating suggestive thoughts and planting ideas then erasing any hint that she had been there. “None but the Ghost have this much sway.”

“Iehovah’s phantom is only a pest, Eidolon.” Lucifer chuckled. “You give her far too much credit and the small army we have brought boasts far greater talents.”

“I guess that’s where you come in, you pretty thing.” Nei kissed Presia’s fingers and smiled at her. It was clear why Lucifer had summoned the most talented of the Sirens. The skill of Presia’s song could manipulate the mind, but she could also counter the spells of others that did the same. She could protect the minds of her companions from the cloud of fear and confusion Sachiel was trying to hide behind.

“Eden lend me your strength.” Presia spoke to the garden and gathered the wealth of assistance it gave. It seemed even Eden itself was eager to have the trespassers expelled and was going to lend its aid to their cause. She fueled her gifts with the power of the nature around her and breathed deeply before beginning a song that melted away the dark clouds in the minds of the others. As she sang and their senses returned some of them turned their attention to her aria and her smile made her song even warmer.

“That’s pretty handy.” Azazel giggled.

“The Siren will render some of Sachiel’s magic useless.” Kage cautioned them against overconfidence. “Still it is best for most of you to keep your distance, this distraction was a small taste of her capabilities.”

“You can all have fun discussing bullshit.” Maefyl leapt into the air drawing his swords as he shouted his intentions. He was not going to wait a second longer to do what he came to do. “I’m ending this.”

“Not going to run after him?” Lucifer smirked at Gabriel.

“No.” Gabriel would know if Maefyl needed him and they had already discussed the need for discretion in Eden. “I’ll be staying very close to you during this battle, Lucy.”

“Should I be wounded or flattered?” Lucifer laughed.

“You should be grateful.” Gabriel smiled and drew a sword and scythe from the chaos as his attire shifted to the robes he had long ago abandoned. Crimson and white draped around him and his hair fell loose. “I could have stayed at home.”

“Volbaken.” Azrael bit his lip as he stared at Gabriel. “IsaAnku saba supani parakibi.”

“Daddy?” Asura walked up to Gabriel as he folded his wings to his back. She smiled like a child suddenly and leapt against him in an excited embrace. “You look amazing!”

“Flap, Flap!” Neka squealed and bit her tongue as she concentrated on trying to make wings of her own and instead became a winged kitten and flapped in front of Kage blinking. “Neka did it wrong.”

“You did beautifully.” Kage patted her head and glared past her at Bishop. “You have no hope of keeping up with me. Keep her close and stay with my daughter, Kaneko.”

“Kyaa! That’s not fair!” Kaneko hissed. “He is going to slow Kaneko down!”

“I was going to do that anyway.” Karla tugged Kaneko’s tail. “But I’ll make sure to keep everybody out of your way.”

“Nyaa.” Kaneko licked Karla’s nose and smiled up at Eidolon. “Are you going to run off, Master Eidolon?”

“I am.” Eidolon squeezed them both to him and kissed them each softly. As long as Presia’s song kept their minds protected, Kaneko was clear enough to look after them and they would likely be in the company of others while Zakesalek saw to the worst of Eden’s pests. “Don’t get into too much trouble. Eternity will stay with you.”

“Come along, Falcon.” Kage hissed. “We have angels to slaughter.”

Kage and Eidolon vanished into the quiet forests of Eden to begin clearing the Garden of nuisances. There was an eerie silence in the once life filled branches, even as they felled several of Sachiel’s guardians there was barely a sound beyond the haunting beauty of Presia’s song.

“What a waste.” Kage hissed. “All these ridiculous lessers scattered everywhere. A useless display of power.”

“One that we are using to our advantage.” Eidolon laughed. As they cleared the Garden of Choirs they absorbed each of them and strengthened themselves, each one giving them power they intended to unleash on Sachiel. “What she has used so carelessly will be used against her. Can I ask you something, Viper?”

“If it is about that damned boy…” Kage hissed.

“Sounds like it will be a long conversation.” Eidolon grinned. He crushed a Throne to the ground just as Lilith arrived beside him and gave him a strange nod he interpreted as a request for his departure. When Kage gave him a quick glance and sighed; Eidolon decided to go off on his own and leave the two of them to work. “It can wait.”

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TCOL : Eden : Those Who Will Stand At The Gates Pt.2

“Bret deseka vonek na Eden, baat?” Azrael tapped his foot impatiently.

 “Palak, Azrael.” Gabriel waved off the eagerness of the Wyrms to destroy and stepped toward Lucifer. “I have one last concern. I asked that you stay behind, Lucy. Hanseka. We helped you close the gates for a reason.”

 “I’m not going anywhere, Gabby.” Lucifer had decided to honor Gabriel’s request… in part. They all felt the trembling as Lucifer started the massive undertaking. Hell shook, but it was not a threatening tremor but a warm pulse of energy. “I won’t have to.”

 “I don’t like this, Vivi.” Eliza clung to Vikarr as if he could stop the shaking himself.

 “Myrt…” Caleb clutched his husbands sleeve and trembled as Myrt pulled him into his arm and drew a lance from the air, ready to protect him. He didn’t say a word but smiled when he saw his brother similarly standing as guardian to Donovan.

 “Is this really a time for games?” Eidolon held his brides in his protective embrace and noticed that Neka’s pet had nearly enveloped her in an embrace of his own. “We came ready to fight for you. Stop this.”

 “Show some faith, Falcon.” Kage grinned.

 Lucifer laughed as his magic completed and he gloated over his success. All of Golod watched him; Asura and Bezer giggling over what they were sure was going to be another argument. Raziel’s puppets stood silently at his side, so intent on making their Master proud that it didn’t even seem to occur to them to be afraid. Nei just fawned over Presia and yawned mockingly over Lucifer’s spell. Vikarr smiled at his worried bride and assured her there was nothing that would harm her. The lot of them were truly remarkable.

 “Done showing off?” Maefyl clapped slowly and laughed. “Now tell the class what you did.”

 “Remodeling.” Lucifer grinned.

 “You’ve brought Eden into Hell?” Raziel stroked Galik’s back. The most eager of his puppets to indulge in the coming fight was growing more impatient.

 “More specifically into my estate.” Lucifer grinned. He could feel the astonishment of the entire realm stroking his ego. Outside his estate they would marvel at the swell of power without ever knowing what had caused the realm to nearly double in size. They would simply see the superficial growth of Lucifer’s castle and know he had once again grown stronger. Once again done remarkable things. “Lilith does love her gardens. Who would like to help rid it of some vermin?”

“I just can’t go a day without saving the world.” Maefyl tightened his ponytail and jumped onto Gabriel’s back. “Stop looking so agitated. You knew he was going to do something obnoxious.”

 “This is not merely obnoxious.” Gabriel stepped up to Lucifer’s throne and rested his fingers against the arm. “Lucy, are the gates contained?”

 “Of course.” Lucy nodded. “I wouldn’t bring Eden only to let those nuisances run about making a mess of my home. Until we’ve destroyed them there is no way out of Eden.”

 “And then?” Gabriel asked quietly.

 “One thing at a time, Gabby.” Lucy stood in front of him and smiled. “Let’s get on with this.”

This is not an end… The gates will open.

 

Presia’s momentary augury brought an eerie quiet to the room and troubling questions they were trying to avoid finally ate away at Maefyl’s patience.

 “Why gates?” Maefyl kissed Gabriel’s face in an effort to calm him. “You said Eden was your home.”

 “And it was.” Gabriel rested his hands over Maefyl’s wrists. “It is also largely inaccessible.”

 “More accurately, locked away.” Raziel explained. “To protect the magic there from itself and our own abuses.”

 “What magic could you possibly not control, Razzy?” Van giggled.

 “Not all magic wants to obey the ones who call on it.” Vikarr smiled at her and Van stepped behind Raziel for comfort. Vikarr was saddened that she was still unwilling to accept him as family, but in no way wanted to push her. “You were fortunate that the magic in you embraced you as it did.”

 “Don’t harass the girl, Vikarr. Even you could not understand this magic.” Eidolon tried to explain further when he realized Karla was waiting so eagerly for an answer. “This magic was more than just beyond us as young Watchers.”

 “It took the six of us to seal the damn things away.” Samael laughed.

 “Vasun Lucifer seta ise benus kenun.” Azrael added as he covered his eyes feigning fear. “De seta kowaksi.”

 “It was an experiment.” Lucifer shrugged. “I think it went beautifully.”

 “This is not a laughing matter, Lucy.” Gabriel snapped at him. “The gates remain locked.”

 “The seals stay, Gabby.” Lucifer grinned. “At least for now. There are other concerns and I have no desire to make an enemy of you over this.”

 “We are going to talk about this later.” Maefyl whispered as he slid to his feet and lit a cigarette. “For now can we do what we came to do?”

 “For once we are in complete agreement, Half-breed.” Kage felt the familiar flutter of Kagemusha’s wings as she whispered her encouragement and praise. “My Lord Lucifer, we have trespassers to remove from Lilith’s newest garden…”

 “Come along then.” Lucifer was waiting suddenly by the door in the back of the hall. “What are you all waiting for?”

 “This should be interesting.” Azazel purred as he walked proudly beside Nikolai until Nei nearly knocked him over on his way toward Bishop. Azazel hissed and clawed toward the vampire but found himself holding a small bouquet of wildflowers and accepting the warm smile Presia offered in apology as she looked back at him. “Fucking weirdos.”

 “Let it go, my pet.” Nikolai snatched the flowers from Azazel’s hand and tossed them to the ground as they walked. “I want you focused. Keep each other safe.”

 “We will, Master Nikolai.” Bezer assured him as she took his hand.

 “At last this Council is living up to expectations.” Lucifer led them inside with a twisted sense of confidence in his dragons and their beloved treasures. In tragedy they were always at their best. “You’ve earned some time to play. Let the games begin.”

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TCOL : Eden : Those Who Will Stand At The Gates Pt.1

“Was I unclear?” Kage shouted over the chatter. “Only Zakesalek will make this journey. Why are the rest of you imbeciles still here.”

“Oh, you were clear.” Asura smirked. “We just aren’t listening. We started this journey as a Council. Our families have all been involved since it started. We all go.”

“Even if Council were permitted, the rest of this rabble is not setting foot in Eden.” Kage insisted. “Send them home.”

“Is your kid going?” Eliza crossed her arms in front of her. Even without his behavior now, Eliza hardly needed a reason to hate Kage after what he had done to Vale. “Fucking hypocrite.”

“Vikarr, silence her.” Kage rubbed his forehead a moment and patted Neka’s head as she stood beside him.

“She will be nice if you will.” Vikarr giggled as he wrapped his fingers over Eliza’s mouth. They were both bitter over the loss of Vale. “This is not yet a meeting, but play nice.”

Lucifer’s audience hall was filled with chatter as they waited; the entire Council and those that loved them gathered to tackle the ordeal with a sort of fearless eagerness that was very nearly touching. Even to the Viper who hid his amusement with his vicious hiss. It was unfortunate that the touching scene was somewhat soured by the arrival of another guest whose arrival was as unexpected as it was unwanted.

“Now this is quite the party.” Nei strolled in confidently with Presia on his arm. “I should be hurt that this is the first time I’ve been invited.”

“Tch.” Kage glared at the vampire. “And who was it that invited you, Nei?”

“Your Lord and husband sent for us.” Presia politely explained their presence.

“So curtsy and play proper hostess.” Nei laughed. “And please Mrs. Lucifer. Call me Frost.”

“Keep it zipped you mouthy little fuck.” Maefyl kicked Nei in the back and knocked him to the floor, giving Presia a nod to explain his intent was to prevent a much more vicious attack from Kage. “I’m sure it wasn’t your mouth Lucy invited you for.”

“I love the both of you.” Kage stroked the girls’ ears when Kaneko came to hug him. He spoke softly and each of his daughters smiled at him. “Go play.”

“He has yet to feed.” Farren whispered to Kage as he followed steps behind Bishop and his young Master.

“Then I suggest you take care of it.” Kage sneered. “Don’t pester me about it. Just bleed.”

Farren shook his head and followed Bishop. In pain, ripped from a simple life and thrown into slavery. Smiling. Catering to the whim of the bright eyed child of a Watcher without complaint. Only ever making himself heard when it was for her benefit. Farren wished he could find that kind of peace with his fate and hoped that when Evadia was saved, she too would have someone as kind to hold her hand.

“You are uniquely quiet, Samael.” Eidolon watched Kaneko teasing her sister and let Karla cling to his arm as he opened a discussion he hoped would remain peaceful. “Any thoughts.”

“We are just eager to see the gates of Eden.” Samael held Shiroi in front of him and smiled as Azrael bit the end of his ear. “Knowing that we will be painting them in blood makes the homecoming bittersweet.”

“As if slaughter has ever soured your mood.” Raziel interrupted.

“Now, now.” Vikarr teased. “Same team, remember.”

“Some team.” Sanguine huffed from Maefyl’s shoulder. “This bunch couldn’t agree on cake or cookies for a party.”

“Why not both?” Asura suggested.

“An excellent point, Asura.” Lucifer arrived with Lilith and fueled the fire of anxious tension in the room. “Why not have it all?”

“Some of us are content with a cup of tea and the company of those we love.” Gabriel hooked his arm through Maefyl’s and whispered his plea for at least some good behavior.

“My Lord.” Kage bowed his head a moment when Lucifer approached his throne. As Lilith sat Kage felt Lucifer’s fingertips under his chin and looked into the eyes he loved to drown in. No trace of worry or doubt in those eyes, just a confidence and warmth that made Kage feel nearly ashamed to speak further complaints. “I tried to make them see reason. I asked them to leave.”

“Look at them, Kevas.” Lucifer grinned and slid his fingers around Kage’s tie. “Gathered together for a common cause, finally becoming the Council they should be.”

“Would that be the Council of the pissed off?” Maefyl flicked a cigarette to the floor.

“Unified.” Lucifer corrected. “I hope to keep it that way. So enough bickering.”

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TCOL : Eden

Lucifer smiled and stroked the side of his beloved Lilith’s face as she woke. Her enormous patience with him through recent troubles and the smile she gave him now told him that he had once again kept her heart against all odds. He kissed her softly and buried his face in her hair.

“Is everything well, my Lord?” Lilith kept him in a gentle embrace.

 “I was just enjoying watching you sleep, my love.” Lucifer kissed her neck and laughed. “You are breathtaking and blissfully distracting.”

 “You need distracting?” Lilith grinned as he sat up. “You could have woken me.”

 “No time, my love.” Lucifer took her hands and kissed them as he stood. “I’ve made a few last minute decisions and we have guests.”

 “This trouble in Eden…”

 “Hush, love.” Lucifer pulled her into his arms. “Eden is no trouble. The garden just needs a few pests exterminated.”

 “You are sure of victory then?” Lilith smiled at him warmly.

 “Sure?” Lucifer laughed. “I’ve practically already won. And so much more than Eden.”

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TCOL : Connections : Evadia

Another child far from Hell and the loving influence of Hell’s finest estate was doing her very best to shrug off the ideals pushed on her. She was also doing her best to ignore the angry mother scowling down at her and planning another adventure as she lovingly recreated the ruins she had stumbled across in the garden.

 “No more exploring on your own, Evadia.” Sachiel looked down at the child disgusted with the defiance and indifference. She had such high hopes for the child at her feet. Now her hopes rested entirely on the soul locked inside it. Sachiel kicked over one of the painstakingly recreated buildings made from the soil to get the girls attention. “Do you understand me, child? You must learn to listen.”

 “Listen?” Evadia went about repairing her recreation of the small city she had found and taunted the mother that barely deserved the title. “Or obey.”

 “I am your mother!” Sachiel snapped at her. “There should be no difference. Your father would be disappointed by this behavior.”

“Tell me, mother.” Evadia chuckled. “Is it my father I’m disappointing? Or my ghosts’?

 “You will learn to behave and become worthy of taking the throne in Heaven.” Sachiel snatched Evadia up by her hair and slapped her across the face before dropping her into her city of soil. “Don’t wander off again.”

 “You are speaking the will of others so freely.” Iesu looked up at Sachiel with the eyes of a child, but in his voice was an anger that stunned the woman into a moment of silence and fear filled her eyes. Years in solitude and abandonment helped him muster the dominating tone as he stood in defense of the girl whose existence he now shared. “The Father I spoke for would not allow such abuse, I doubt hers would approve either.”

 “I only mean to teach the girl discipline.” Sachiel defended with a smile as she tried to hide what she knew of Iesu’s Father and his bizarre cruelty. He was ignorant of Iehovah’s carnal tastes and it was ideal that he remain so. “Without following the rules her life will be difficult.”

 “If you mean to put me on my Father’s Throne…” Iesu stood firm and brushed the dirt from Evadia’s clothes. It was far from his nature to be so arrogant and over confident, but it was beginning to occur to him that he was going to be quickly overwhelmed by these creatures if he did not start to adapt to their ways. He had to at least learn their confidence and deceit. “The only rules she will have to follow will be mine.”

 “Already speaking like a god.” Sachiel patted the head of the child she wanted to carry her to a seat of power. “Good boy.”

 “Don’t call me a boy.” Evadia ducked away from the gesture as Iesu slid back into her mind quietly. She watched Sachiel walk off gloating before she muttered her hatred and looked at the mess that had been made of her tiny city. She stooped and poked at the crumbled soil. “I wonder what else there is around here.”

 ‘She is only going to chase after you again.’ Iesu tried to warn against provoking Sachiel further. “I understand your want to be away from her…”

 “Just don’t go bonkers again and she won’t even find us.” Evadia giggled.

 ‘I don’t trust her. I just trust this place even less.’ Iesu explained his concern, but in truth even the child whose existence he now shared made him uneasy. There was such power in her small hands. Still she was sweet and her motivations were far from malicious. It was this place that had him worried. This realm called Eden that he knew from angelic stories given to him by his Father was not the garden of peace he expected. It was corrupt to its core with a magic that could not have been his Father’s work. This land belonged to someone else.

 “Well, I like it.” Evadia smiled and ran for the trees as soon as she felt herself free of the eyes of her caretakers. She chuckled when she heard Sachiel screaming in the distance and made herself move faster to put the sound as far away as possible until all she could hear was the wind in the trees and the ghost in her head telling her to stop as they reached the edge of the ruins.

 An elegantly dressed man rose to his feet in the center of the ruins and turned to smile at her. Evadia was frozen in place as she watched him. Graceful and lovely as he blinked his lovely eyes; entirely black but so bursting with life and emotion that she couldn’t help but return his smile. He rose a slender finger to his lips and playfully winked as he offered a ‘Shh’ that spun the air around him. As the man vanished Evadia could hear a giggling in the wind and she went to inspect the large crest on the ground that had fascinated her before. She was certain that just before the breeze carried the petals away they had been deliberately scattered into letters that spelled out ‘Soon’.

 ‘We should keep moving.’ Iesu felt like he knew that smile and the face that offered it. The smile of the one who offered peace if he would betray his Father. The smile of the Fallen. ‘She will look here first.’

 “You are probably right.” Evadia shook off her silly thoughts and wandered through the ruins quickly hoping Eden had even greater mysteries to discover.

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TCOL : Connections : Bishop

“Are you okay?” Neka crouched in front of Bishop and patted his head as he laid on the floor. He just squeezed his eyes closed and she whimpered. “Are you mad at Neka?”

“Not at you.” Bishop muttered.

“I suggest you adjust to this quickly.” Kage sneered down at the boy. “If all your continued existence is going to accomplish is upsetting my daughter, I will very much enjoy revoking the gift you’ve been given.”

“Some gift.” Bishop opened his eyes and focused on the floor in front of him. Detail he never would have considered or imagined in the stone was now somehow fascinating. He turned his gaze up at Neka and felt defeated by his own bitterness. Seeing the girl so concerned over him swept away everything else and he sat up and hugged her. “I’m sorry. Don’t cry. I’ll get used to this.”

“I’m uncertain whether to think of you as one of humanities best or worst.” Farren chuckled quietly as he sat against the wall watching the touching scene. “You cave so quickly to the whims of a child.”

“Coming from one who slaughtered on behalf of a woman.” Kage hissed. “You would do well to remember your life is in his hands. I am not all that happy to suffer the continued presence of either of you.”

“Tell me you aren’t taking her on this outing.” Bishop chose to ignore his urge to inform the demon that the feeling was very much mutual and focus on his concern for the relieved child that clung too him and pulled at his hair. “It’s no place for a little girl.”

“You suggest I instead leave her in the care of her bloodthirsty pet and the traitor bound to it?” Kage glared at him. “My daughter will be in no danger if she is with me and your opinion on the matter is unneeded and insulting.”

“Right.” Bishop sighed.

“Teach Neka more songs.” She bounced on Bishop’s lap and tugged the ends of his hair as she swung her tail. “Neka wants to play.”

“Give her some time to play, Kage.” Lucifer hooked his arm through Kage’s and pulled at him gently. “You can not watch her every second of her life or she will start to resent you.”

“I won’t have her first hours without me corrupted by these two…” Kage was silenced by Lucifer’s kiss.

“Let me put this another way, Kevas.” Lucifer grinned as he let Kage right himself. The tie slipping through his fingers as the words slid from his tongue. “Vade hala de, baat.”

“Tek, det Vasun.” Kage was reluctant to leave his child but had missed his time with Lucifer too much to protest. “Have Lilith look in on them.”

“Of course.” Lucifer grinned. “Neka, you should show your pet to some of Lilith’s gardens.”

“Okay!” Neka pulled Bishop’s leash as she stood and waited for him to drag himself to his feet. She watched Farren join him and offer to keep him steady on his feet and giggled as Bishop refused the offer. “Neka thinks you two are funny. Let’s go play.”

“How am I supposed to deal with this?” Bishop whispered to Farren as Neka bounced along in front of them, tugging at his leash as she led them through hallways where stone monsters taunted the both of them. “I hurt.”

“Their plan is for me to keep you fed.” Farren sighed and took Bishop by his elbow as they kept pace with the exuberant child. “Another bit of atonement for the damage I’ve done. For Evadia I would suffer far worse. I have no doubt this was not in your plans, but you care for that girl. You will deal with this for her.”

“I don’t like it.” Bishop hung his head.

“Like what?” Neka turned and looked up at him grinning.

“Nothing, sweetheart.” Bishop smiled. “Where is this garden?”

“Carry Neka.” She threw her arms up toward him and Bishop obliged the request. As she pointed the way she tried to comfort her pet over his new gift. “Don’t be sad, Bishop. Neka’s sister and brother are vampires, too. Neka wants to have a stabby smile when she grows up, too!”

“I’m not certain your dear father would enjoy hearing that.” Farren laughed beside them as they walked through the doors that opened into an immense garden. “Remarkable…”

“This is one of Lilith’s little gardens.” Neka pulled one of the flowers they walked past and started to chew on it. “She loves flowers. Do you like flowers, Bishop?”

“I guess.” Bishop muttered. He had never given them much thought, but even without knowing the name of a single bloom in this botanical marvel, he was impressed by it. Vibrant colors set amongst the varied hues of greens that caught the strange light of Hell’s sky and burst with a luster that he would have never imagined before now. He wasn’t sure if it was this place, or seeing with new senses that made it so beautiful; he only knew he could spend hours under the branches here content with nothing but the view and the sweet perfume of the blossoms that grew around them.

“Don’t eat all of my orchids, Neka.” Lilith pulled Neka’s tail playfully when she walked past them to the edge of a set of stone planters that served as seating. As Bishop followed with the girl giggling in his arms Lilith sat and folded her hands on her knee. “Are you enjoying your gift?”

“I love it.” Neka squeezed around Bishop before she popped to her feet and hugged Lilith. “Thank you, Mama.”

“You are very welcome.” Lilith squeezed Neka beside her and took a bit of Bishop’s leash in her fingers. “But I was asking your pet.”

“You left out quite a few details about this arrangement, Mistress.” Bishop crouched and hung his head. At the very least the cunning woman had known from the first breath that his time with Neka would not be short. He hoped she had some deeper purpose for choosing him. “I don’t know that it is a gift, but I don’t want to offend you by answering before I even understand what is going on.”

“I couldn’t give you details I was unsure of.” Lilith chuckled. “Any number of things could have changed the outcome. I could not give you certainty that my Lord Lucifer or the Viper would accept you here at all. Or that Neka would. I most certainly did not expect the involvement of Frost and that Siren of his.”

“I don’t understand any of you.” Bishop sighed. “But I like Neka. I’ll look out for her.”

“And how about you, traitor?” Lilith grinned up at Farren. “You seem eager to play hero for your child, but once Evadia is out of harms way?”

“I would give my life to save hers.” Farren nodded respectfully to the Dark Mistress. “And I have. My sacrifice may not have ended my life, but I came to repent. This boys thirst is going to be my prison. Your Dark Lord made certain I can not stray far from my cage.”

“Nyaa!” Neka squealed as she jumped at Bishop and changed into a white kitten and clawed her way up to his shoulder purring. The leash still wrapped around her front leg had thinned to accommodate her smaller form and she rubbed against Bishop’s neck as she peeked into his hair. “Come out little bug. Neka saw you.”

“Bug?” Bishop reached into the hair behind his neck and felt a gentle flutter that startled him before he felt the thin limbs latch around his fingers to escape the kitten that reached for it. When he pulled his hand in front of him a fairy smiled back. “Where did you come from?”

“Maefyl’s shoulder was spoken for.” Vafera giggled. “I thought I would try yours out.”

“Bishop’s shoulders are Neka’s.” The kitten purred. “You have to ask Neka first.”

“This week can’t get any weirder.” Bishop shook his head. If it weren’t for the way he ached he would have sworn he was having some bizarre nightmare and he would wake up to his usual routine, but he knew better. All the pain he had felt was real, all the tears he had shed really fell. He was now the property of the demon on his shoulder, caretaker of an angel who betrayed all of Tsuriai and had a fairy wrapped around his fingers asking for friendship. He had lost family and friends and been swept into a frightening new life before he could even process the idea of mourning and seen Lucifer and his demons at odds with the future of Tsuriai. Bishop never thought his life would be anything spectacular. He never wanted it to be. He just wanted to be a good person and do the right thing. His morals led him here. A confused immortal with no more than a sense of decency to lead him forward. Bishop pet Neka and smiled as he hoped the right thing was not going to lead him down the wrong path. “I have two shoulders. What is your name?”

“Vafera.” The fairy smiled. “I can stay?”

“I’m not opposed.” Bishop nodded. “But I don’t make the rules.”

“When it comes to fairies, no one does.” Lilith laughed. “I’ll see to it Kage and Lord Lucifer are aware of our new arrival.”

“I realize I am not in a position to ask.” Farren looked to Lilith a moment before he carefully considered his words. He just could not seem to leave the question unanswered. They could have created any sort of companion to fill the girl’s time. Even among existing servants more docile, loyal company had to be available, and definitely less likely to be so offensive to her father. “But if you would grant the favor, Mistress; I am puzzled.”

“As am I.” Lilith grinned.

“I realize you are as keen to see my end as Kage and Lucifer.” Farren smiled. He could see in her eyes the distaste for his interruption; for his presence. “My intent isn’t to pry. I’m just curious. Why a human boy to begin with?”

“Why not?” Lilith laughed. There was no need for secrecy and Bishop was entitled to the answer he clearly wanted as he glanced at her. “The boy is impressive. I like him. Neka needs companionship beyond that of her father. As much as I enjoy seeing the Viper so irritated by this, it is actually meant to help him as well. My Lord Lucifer needs his Viper, Neka needs to develop beyond his tightly coiled embrace. Bishop is about as kind as humans are capable of, he is a rarity among the race and has suffered to keep himself above the petty nonsense that swallow most of their existence. If any human can help Neka see their worth, it is Bishop.”

“Wanted to show her human worth then saw to it he was no longer human.” Farren laughed. “So her first lesson is to corrupt the pure and decent.”

“A charming observation on your part.” Lilith smiled and admired Bishop’s way with Neka and his new companion as she scolded Farren for his hypocrisy. “Considering the work of angels past and your predilection to destroy beautiful things without regret. You have little say in what is pure and decent. Maefyl’s gift hasn’t taken either quality from Bishop.”

“Merely pointing out the obvious, my Lady of Darkness.” Farren bowed mockingly. “You brought him here as a human for his rarity among them. Now he is no longer human or rare.”

“Both of you quit it.” Bishop insisted quietly. He was making every effort to ignore the ache spreading through him as he tried to end another fight before it began. He hated all the fighting the girl was subjected to, he didn’t want to be the source of it. “The obvious doesn’t need to be pointed out and there is no point in bickering over what has already been done. I am what I am.”

“And you are still very much the kind and patient boy I brought here.” Lilith smiled at the young fairy sneaking across his collar to Neka’s shoulder to make friends. “The very sweet newling on your shoulder seems to agree.”

“Neka likes your new friend, Bishop.” Neka rubbed against his neck and purred as she wrapped Vafera in a fuzzy embrace. “She smells nice. Just don’t make too many friends. Neka doesn’t want to share you.”

“You make the rules, sweety.” Bishop smiled, but there was something in her words that scared him. As young as she was, as sweet and innocent, her time with her family had already instilled many of their ideals. The childlike possession over him could in time become something terrifying. It gave him chills when he thought of her father’s cold gaze and realized her eyes might one day be just as filled with hatred and ice.

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